Berlin/Kyiv/Washington/Helsinki: As NATO military aid packages flood Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin today held a briefing session with permanent members of the Russian Security Council on the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke about his visit to the special military operation headquarters earlier this week.
Today (IST) the Defence Minister of Germany, Boris Pistorius, announced a spring military aid package to Ukraine worth €1 billion. In particular, it will include an air defence missile system Patriot, self-propelled guns Gepard, more Iris-T SLM systems, and missiles for them. The military aid package will also include logistics and training for the Ukrainian soldiers.
The Press service of the Finnish government reported the approval of a new military aid package worth €400 million that includes heavy artillery and munitions for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, by the President of Finland.
As of January 20, 2023, Finland has already allocated about €590 million in military aid to Ukraine.
“We have seen incredible solidarity from our allies and partners, including at today’s Ukraine Defense Contact Group, and we applaud the more than 50 countries who have come together to make significant contributions to support Ukraine,” the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken said. He even spoke yesterday with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström to reaffirm the US support for Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession and the importance of remaining Allies quickly ratifying their accession. He underscored the strong US belief that Sweden and Finland are ready to join the Alliance. Just a day earlier, on January 18, 2023, Blinken and the Foreign Minister of Türkiye, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, had discussed the implementation of the trilateral memorandum signed by Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye to advance Finland and Sweden’s application to join the NATO Alliance.
Significantly, the United States has thus far provided an unprecedented approximately $27.5 billion total US military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the present administration under President Joe Biden. This included the latest military aid package for Ukraine worth $2.5 billion, announced yesterday. It provides additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); 8 Avenger air defence systems; 59 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) with 590 TOW anti-tank missiles and 295,000 rounds of 25mm ammunition; 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) with 20 mine rollers; 20,000 155mm artillery rounds; High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs); and others.
Yesterday Blinken even spoke with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and discussed advancing close U.S.-EU cooperation in support of Ukrainian “security and sovereignty”. Already the US and the United Kingdom jointly expressed their commitment to sustaining their security assistance to Ukraine, on January 17, 2023. The UK has decided to accelerate its support, including the supply to Ukraine of main battle tanks, heavy artillery, and other military systems.
Russia claimed that the collective West has “actually turned Ukraine into a bridgehead for the continued military-political cultivation of the post-Soviet space and for subversive activities against the Union State”.
Yesterday, while Putin summoned the head of Russia’s Space sector, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, along with his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Aleinik, expressed “deep concern over the destructive course of the US and its satellites”, which both ministers claimed was aimed at expanding NATO and bringing its military forces and infrastructure to their common borders. “Such activities are escalating military-political tensions and cannot go unanswered,” Lavrov said.
Putin met the Director-General of the Roscosmos State Space Corporation Yury Borisov to take stock of the space sector’s role in ensuring Russia’s defence capability. Borisov assured Putin that the space industry was maintaining “good momentum while carrying out all the initiatives as planned and will do everything to deliver on time and up to standard”. The Russian President also had a telephone conversation with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi.
Russia also fears biological warfare and yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its close ally Belarus on ensuring biological security. “It is aimed at enhancing our national security, the security of each of the two countries and on curbing threats in this area, which are emanating from the activities of the military departments of third countries and related organisations,” Lavrov said.
Today at a meeting with the visiting president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, Lavrov reiterated that what was happening right now was “largely the result of the Western connivance with the Kyiv regime’s determination to subvert its commitment to the Minsk agreements, primarily to grant special status to people in eastern Ukraine”.
– global bihari bureau