NATO countries called for more arms to be delivered to Ukraine

NATO countries called for more arms to be delivered to Ukraine

Germany is under increasing pressure from European allies to drop its long-standing refusal to supply weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from a Russian attack.

Britain flew short-range anti-tank missiles to Ukraine on Monday, avoiding German airspace. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has indicated to lawmakers that more military aid and extra security assistance is likely to come in light of Russia’s “increasingly threatening behavior” at Ukraine’s borders, where the Kremlin has gathered more than 100,000 troops.

Wallace said there was a “legitimate and genuine cause for concern” that Russia was planning an invasion. Russian officials have denied any such plans, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Wednesday, ahead of talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that “the feeling of threat to Ukraine has never been seen before”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the left, will attend a joint press conference following their talks in Moscow on 18 January 2022. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the left, will attend a joint press conference following their talks in Moscow on 18 January 2022.

Germany ready to pay “high economic price” to defend Ukraine

Ukraine has become increasingly frustrated with Germany over military supplies. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov last month complained that Berlin had vetoed the purchase of anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems from the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, calling the measure “very unfair.”

Later, Berlin refrained from blocking the purchase of anti-drone rifles after concluding that they were non-lethal weapons. Kiev has made efforts to close the shortage of military equipment and capabilities, but Berlin worries that the supply of weapons could be seen by Moscow as provocative and could trigger a Russian escalation.

Reznikov has warned that fears of confronting Putin from a strong position were misguided.

“To provoke Russia – that strategy does not work and will not work,” he said last month.

Ukraine has bought weapons through agreements with the United States, Britain, Lithuania, France and Turkey, which have supplied armed drones.

Anti-missile and air defense systems, electronic warfare kits and cyber defense equipment are high on Ukraine’s shopping list. Ukraine is also keen to buy surface-to-surface missiles that can hit swarms of targets at the same time.

The Biden administration last month approved $ 200 million in additional defensive security assistance to Ukraine, and U.S. officials said Wednesday that the White House is considering new delivery options to try to increase costs for Russian President Vladimir Putin if he decides to attack. Fearing that Russia is targeting major aggressive measures, the administration is considering providing the Ukrainian army with more Javelin anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missile systems.

FILE - Russian officials are sitting in a military vehicle as they take part in tactical exercises of an assault technique unit at a training ground in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, Russia, January 17, 2022. FILE - Russian officials are sitting in a military vehicle as they take part in tactical exercises of an assault technique unit at a training ground in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, Russia, January 17, 2022.

Ukraine: What we know

The anti-tank missiles that Britain flew to Ukraine this week are shoulder-fired weapons that can take out a tank 800 meters away. They are lighter than Javelin anti-tank missiles and can be used in much narrower spaces. The British anti-tank missiles flew to Ukraine via Danish and Swedish airspace and not on a more direct route over Germany, according to British newspaper reports, which raised speculation that this was done to avoid protests from Berlin.

Tobias Ellwood, chair of the British Parliament’s Defense Committee, said he hoped other European allies “will follow our lead before the temperature drops and the frozen conditions make an invasion operationally possible.”

But while NATO allies agree to reject Russian demands that Ukraine never join the Western alliance, the divisions among them also extend to what Western sanctions should be imposed on Russia if an invasion is launched.

Current and former Western diplomats say that although there is broad agreement among Western powers to sanction Russia in the event of a military invasion, there is no final agreement on the details.

German officials told the business newspaper Handelsblatt on Wednesday that they oppose cutting off Russian banks and financial institutions from SWIFT’s global money transfer system, which is used by more than 11,000 banks and financial institutions to make and receive cross-border payments. They say they want targeted financial sanctions against major Russian banks rather than excluding Russia from using the transfer system.

Germany’s fears are that the exclusion of Russia from SWIFT will backfire and encourage Russia and China to develop a rival network. They also fear that such a move would cause significant economic damage to European companies trading with Russia. Russia is the EU’s fifth largest trading partner and European assets in Russia are valued at around $ 350 billion.

US officials, who have raised the possibility of excluding Russia from SWIFT, claim that no sanction options are off the table.

As Western allies continue to debate what military supplies to send to Ukraine and what sanctions to implement, concerns in the Baltic countries about Russia’s planned military exercises with its ally Belarus.

FILE - Russian S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile system rolls during a general rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade on Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2021. FILE – Russian S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile system rolls during a general rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade on Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2021.

Russian troops and military hardware, including S-400 ground-to-air missiles, have arrived in Belarus in the past week. The exercises pose a direct threat, according to Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas.

“In the current situation, we see the Russian military’s entry into Belarus not only as a destabilizing factor in the security situation but also as a more direct threat to Lithuania,” Anušauskas said in a Facebook post.

“I will soon meet with the ambassadors from nine NATO countries who are actively contributing to strengthening Lithuania’s security,” he said.

    Source: sn.dk

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