EIGHTEEN GERMAN TANKS ALREADY IN UKRAINE (28 03 2023)
Political strategic level
The latest NATO report shows that the war in Ukraine has not awakened the major European powers from their lethargy. Although the Alliance has agreed on a 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be spent on defence, the major European signatories to the treaty continue to place value on furniture or cars rather than on commitment and their own security.
Last year, only seven of the 30 members spent at least 2% of their GDP on defence. Lithuania came third after Greece and the US with 2.47%, while Germany's defence spending was 1.49%, Italy's 1.51% and France's 1.89%. In addition to Greece, the US and Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and the UK have met their NATO commitments.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, whose country achieved a defence funding level of 2.12% last year according to the report, said she was "quite shocked" to see who was and who was not meeting the target. "Come on, it's impossible - I think everybody should understand, knowing and seeing what's happening in Ukraine, that we don't have that kind of time," she told Politico.
However, the report points out that NATO allies are investing steadily and are now spending much more than when the target was first agreed. "European allies and Canada have increased defence spending for the eighth consecutive year," the report said. "In total, these increases have resulted in $350 billion in defence spending over the last eight years," it adds.
However, NATO's wallet continues to be the US, which accounts for 54% of the alliance's economic output, but spends as much as 70% of the alliance's total defence spending. Compared to this figure, even the UK, with around 6%, or Germany, with around 5% of the Alliance's total budget, looks dismal. This is understandably not an acceptable situation, although there is a continuing consensus that Washington will continue to play a major funding role for NATO. But some voices in America, including Republican presidential contenders, are questioning this spending.
What we are saying is that we must finally understand that the US has other priorities than Europe. Yes, the US cannot allow Russia to cut itself off from Ukraine, which would be a definite victory for Russia in this war, and it must therefore support NATO and Europe in not turning away from Ukraine. However, after more than a year of a brutal war in Ukraine, which neither Europe nor the major NATO countries in Europe are able or willing to stop, the US can no longer ignore China's open and closed threats against Taiwan.
And, although NATO leader Stoltenberg praises the allies for the progress made since 2014 and for their commitment to increase defence spending, it will be very difficult to do so soon. NATO countries in Europe, large as well as small, face inefficient defence planning, a shortage of raw materials for weapons and ammunition, endlessly drawn-out procurement processes, and limited production capacity in general, which could take years to develop.
Polish and EU officials yesterday discussed the production of artillery ammunition under a new €2 billion programme to supply Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces and to replenish Europe's dwindling stocks. EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton visited the DEZAMET S.A. ammunition plant in Nowa Deba, south-eastern Poland, accompanied by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
Mr Breton said that the EU was "determined" to do what is needed quickly in the context of a conflict that is expected to be protracted. He also called on other EU countries to transfer ammunition to Ukraine as soon as possible. Morawiecki said that ammunition is the most urgently needed for the Ukrainian armed forces and that Kyiv should receive one million rounds of ammunition later this year.
We are happy for our neighbours, whose politicians realise that protecting themselves with Ukrainian hands and supplying them with arms can also create jobs in their own country, thus strengthening the defence industry.
On Monday, during a meeting with Ukrainian President V. Zelensky, the UN Atomic Energy chief, Mr Grossi, warned that the dangerous situation at Europe's largest nuclear power plant is 'not improving', as the endless fighting in the area is putting the facility at risk. Six reactors at the Zaporizhzhya plant have been shut down and it receives the electricity it needs to prevent a meltdown only through one remaining power line. At times, the plant has to switch to emergency diesel generators to power critical cooling systems.
At the beginning of this month, fighting caused the power supply to the plant to be cut off for half a day, forcing workers to switch on back-up generators. Grossi then expressed his concerns from a distance, and this is now the seventh time he has come to Ukraine to express his concerns alive.
Although we have said it many times before, we will repeat it again: the international community must address nuclear security issues in wartime not by sending selfie-takers, but by sending blue helmets to ensure at least a 30 km demilitarised zone around the reactors.
Unrest continues in France. Strikes and protests are again taking place across the country today against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to raise the retirement age to 64 by two years. On Thursday, during the last day of nationwide protests, Black Bloc anarchists smashed shop windows, destroyed bus shelters and looted a McDonald's restaurant in Paris. Similar violence took place in other cities.
Applause echoed and continues to echo in the Kremlin's galleries.
The Hungarian Parliament approved a bill allowing Finland to join NATO once its application has been ratified by all 30 members of the alliance, ending months of delays by the ruling Fidesz party.
The German Ministry of Defence announced that the first consignment of German Leopard 2 tanks has been sent to Ukraine, eighteen tanks in total. Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said he was convinced that the tanks could "make a decisive contribution" on the war front.
According to reports from Ukraine, Challenger 2 tanks from the UK have also arrived, but the number of tanks has not been announced.
Although Western analysts claim that the offensive by the Russian occupation forces at Bakhmut has reached its climax and has stopped, we unfortunately have evidence that marauders and armed wallahs from Russia are already on the rampage in the centre of Bakhmut.
The Kremlin, encouraged by China, continues to flex its muscles. The Russian Ministry of War Crimes has reported that its forces have tested anti-ship missiles in the Sea of Japan. Two Russian ships simulated a missile attack on a mock enemy warship some 100 km away. The Ministry said that two Moskit cruise missiles successfully shot down the target.
The Moskit missile, NATO code name SS-N-22 Sunburn, is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads. Neither the Japanese Ministry of Defence nor the US Navy's 7th Fleet has commented on the Russian performance.
Polish prosecutors said on Monday that a foreign national suspected of spying for Russia would be detained for three months pending the conclusion of the investigation. The foreign national, whose identity has not been disclosed, has confessed to passing secret information to Russian intelligence. The suspect had been collecting information on key infrastructure and security procedures in the north of the country since January, prosecutor's spokeswoman Grazyna Wawryniuk said.
Earlier this month, Polish authorities detained nine people linked to Russia's foreign intelligence service. They are suspected of preparing acts of sabotage.
On 27 March, the Russians carried out 24 air strikes, 12 missile strikes and 55 salvo rocket fire attacks.
The missile attack on the infrastructure of Slovyansk (Donetsk region) targeted civilians and killed several people. Multi-storey buildings and private houses were damaged. In Beryslav (Kherson region), a civilian facility was damaged by an enemy air strike.
During the night, 15 Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles were used by the enemy to launch air strikes. The Ukrainian defenders destroyed 14 of them. The attacks were directed towards the town of Kyiv.
The threat of further missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.
The Russians are attacking towards Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka. The fiercest fighting is taking place on Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka. Thanks to professional and coordinated action, the Ukrainian Defence Forces repelled 62 enemy attacks on 27 March on the aforementioned front line.
The Russian occupiers continue to reinforce the security regime in the temporarily occupied territories. Recently, there has been a tendency to restrict the free movement of Ukrainian citizens between settlements. Without local registration it is impossible to enter certain settlements in Horlivka district (Donetsk region) and Kakhovsk district (Kherson region).
Yesterday, the Ukrainian Air Force struck 9 times at enemy concentrations and launched an air strike against an anti-aircraft missile system. Ukrainian troops shot down 5 different types of enemy reconnaissance drones.
Ukrainian rocket and artillery units hit 3 command posts as well as a Russian concentration point, an artillery unit in its firing position, an ammunition depot, a fuel and lubricant depot and 2 other targets of importance to the occupiers.
The country is in an uproar over plans to suspend the application and decision-making process for citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania for Russian and Belarusian citizens.
Some Lithuanian citizens have started to wave the Constitution and equate such restrictions with Lithuania's rapprochement with Russia and Shakorea. Others, Russian citizens, began to send letters lamenting what and how they would have to tell their nobody children.
We ask the former whether the Constitution will protect them, their children and their wives from the marauders and rapists from the East?
The second, how do we explain to our children why Russian and Belarusian citizens are here in Lithuania and not in their own countries, which are responsible for the war they have caused? Why do they want to hide in Lithuania, live comfortably and do nothing to stop hell on earth?
Pictured is a soldier of Ukraine's 28th Brigade fighting Russian invaders on the front line near Bakhmut, Friday, March 24, 2023 (AP Photo/Libkos)
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