Ukraine slams Germany for refusing to supply weapons to Kyiv

Ukraine slams Germany for refusing to supply weapons to Kiev and summons German ambassador over comments made by naval chief calling Russian plans to invade Ukraine ‘inept’

  • Ukraine today urged Berlin to stop ‘undermining unity’ and ‘encouraging Vladimir Putin’ amid invasion fears
  • In separate development, foreign ministry also summoned German ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen 
  • This was to stress ‘categorical unacceptability’ of comments by German naval chief Kay-Achim Schoenbach 
  • In New Delhi, Mr Schoenbach called Russian plans to invade ‘inept’ and that Putin deserves ‘respect’

Ukraine today condemned Germany for its refusal to supply weapons to Kyiv, urging Berlin to stop ‘undermining unity’ and ‘encouraging Vladimir Putin’ amid fears of a Russian invasion. 

In a separate development, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Saturday it had also summoned the German ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen.

This was to stress ‘the categorical unacceptability’ of comments by German naval chief Kay-Achim Schoenbach in which he called Russian plans to invade Ukraine ‘inept’, the foreign ministry said. Mr Schoenbach also said of Russia’s president: ‘It’s easy to give him the respect he wants, and probably deserves as well.’

Later, Mr Schoenbach announced his resignation. ‘I have asked Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me from my duties with immediate effect,’ vice-admiral Schoenbach said in a statement.

‘The minister has accepted my request,’ he added.

 Some have accused Germany of failing to stand up to Putin as tension on Russia’s border with Europe mounts. 

Tory MP Bob Seely, who is a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said today of the growing crisis: ‘The real bad guys here, so to speak, sorry to say this, are the Germans’.

Speaking to Times Radio, he put this down to Germany’s ‘energy policy, their complete dependence on Russian oil and gas, their willingness to have the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is not even needed, built, purely so that the Russians can cut off supplies to Ukraine, is incredibly self-centred and selfish.’

Speaking about President Vladimir Putin, Mr Seely said: ‘It is his long-term goal to undermine and shatter the confidence in the ability of Nato. 

He said some kind of military action is ‘much more likely than not’, adding that Russia’s intentions over the next 10 years will be to absorb Ukraine back into Russia’s sphere of interests and ‘destroy Nato as best they can’.   

Meanwhile, Russian Su-35S fighter jets began arriving in Belarus on Friday as Putin continues to mass forces around Ukraine. Video showed the Sukhoi warplanes en route to the landlocked country which shares a border with Ukraine. The planes had flown in from Siberia.

Earlier today, the Russian defence minister agreed to meet UK counterpart Ben Wallace in Moscow for emergency talks after Tory MP Tobias Ellwood warned an invasion of Ukraine was ‘imminent’ and that President Vladimir Putin was ‘exploiting Western weakness’. 

The talks come after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy yesterday predicted a ‘large-scale war’ after Moscow spent months massing more than 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery pieces along the border and last ditch US negotiations with the Kremlin yesterday failed to produce a breakthrough.

A convoy of Russian armoured vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Ukraine today condemned Germany for its refusal to supply weapons to Kyiv, urging Berlin to stop ‘undermining unity’ and ‘encouraging Vladimir Putin’ amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers stand on a check-point close to the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels, Mariupol, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, January 21, 2022

Pictured: Soldiers of assault engineer and recovery-and-salvage units of the Russian Army 1st Guards Engineer Brigade are seen during tactical and special training in the city of Murom, some 260 km east of Moscow earlier this week

In a separate development, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Saturday it had also summoned the German ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen. This was to stress ‘the categorical unacceptability’ of comments by German naval chief Kay-Achim Schoenbach (pictured left speaking in Delhi) in which he called Russian plans to invade Ukraine ‘inept’


Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Saturday it had also summoned the German ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen (left). This was to stress ‘the categorical unacceptability’ of comments by German naval chief Kay-Achim Schoenbach (right) in which he called Russian plans to invade Ukraine ‘inept’, the foreign ministry said

An instructor trains members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022

A member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trains in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022

Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine’s army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion

With tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered on the Ukrainian border, fears are mounting that a major conflict could break out in Europe.

Ukraine’s calls to Western allies to bolster its defence capabilities have seen the United States, Britain and Baltic states agree to send to Kyiv weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Kuleba said on Twitter that Germany’s statements ‘about the impossibility of supplying defence weapons to Ukraine’ did not match ‘the current security situation’.

Ukraine’s minister stressed that ‘today the unity of the West in relation to Russia is more important than ever.

‘The German partners must stop undermining unity with such words and actions and encouraging (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to launch a new attack on Ukraine,’ Kuleba said.

Ukraine is ‘grateful’ to Germany for the support it has already provided, but its ‘current statements are disappointing’, he added. 

Ukraine’s foreign ministry added in a statement that it wanted to express its ‘deep disappointment’ at the German’s government’s ‘failure to provide defence weapons to Ukraine’.

Earlier on Saturday German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said Berlin would send a field hospital to Ukraine, while once again rejecting Kyiv’s calls for weapons.

Berlin has already delivered respirators to Ukraine and severely injured Ukrainian soldiers are currently being treated in Bundeswehr hospitals, she told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

‘Weapons deliveries would not be helpful at the moment – that is the consensus within the government,’ Lambrecht said. 

Moscow insists it has no plans to invade Ukraine but has at the same time laid down a series of security demands – including a ban on Ukraine joining NATO – in exchange for de-escalation.

Referring to naval chief Schoenbach’s comments, Germany’s defence ministry said he would be asked to explain himself.

In a video posted online that was recorded at a think-tank gathering in New Delhi on Friday, Schoenbach also said Putin ‘is to be respected’. ‘It’s easy to give him the respect he wants, and probably deserves as well,’ he said.

Schoenbach said Saturday that the comments were ‘thoughtless’. ‘There is no need to quibble: it was clearly a mistake,’ he tweeted.

Schoenbach’s statements ‘do not correspond in any way to the position of the Germany defence ministry,’ a ministry spokesperson told AFP news agency.

The vice-admiral will have to explain himself to the army chief of staff, the spokesperson added.

Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s border, along with an arsenal of tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery and missiles.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu in Moscow for talks to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis as the country’s servicemen (pictured, Russian troops take part in military drills in Rostov in southern Russia, less than 70 miles from the Ukrainian frontier) take part in drills along the border amid fears of an invasion

Moscow has denied it plans to invade but the Washington believes an attack could now come ‘at any point’.

Pictured: Ukrainian paratroopers sationed along the potential frontline of a conflict near Stanytsia Luhanska in Luhansk region, east Ukraine

Pictured: Russia sappers from the Guards Red Banner Combined Army take part in drills to practice mine-clearing in Voronezh, close to Ukraine

Moscow has for months been massing tens of thousands of troops, tanks and artillery pieces along its eastern flank, sparking fears of an invasion, though the Kremlin has insisted it is merely a defence force (pictured, Russian forces currently massed in border regions)

What is happening in Ukraine?

What is happening?

According to UK defence experts, Vladimir Putin is on the brink of invading Ukraine for a second time – having sent troops into the country’s eastern regions and Crimea in 2014.

His apparent intention is to prevent Ukraine joining Nato, the defensive alliance led by the US and the UK. As a precursor to conflict he issued a set of demands which he surely knew would be rejected, including the withdrawal of Nato troops from all former Soviet republics. Around 100,000 Russian troops are positioned in striking distance of Ukraine and in recent days military hospitals have been built – often an indicator conflict is imminent.

How did we get here?

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has become increasingly pro-Western and its government is desperate to join Nato and the EU – moves Russia strongly opposes.

Putin wants Ukraine back under Moscow’s control as part of his ‘sphere of influence’ strategy to redraw the political map. He has already succeeded in Belarus, a close ally with an autocratic president who shares his ideals.

How close is it to war?

Days of talks between East and West last week failed to produce any peace settlement. Mr Putin has arguably come too close to conflict to turn back. Experts think he could launch a military offensive within a matter of days – although he may prefer to soften up Ukraine with further cyber-warfare strikes first. Washington has said it has intelligence that Moscow is planning an attack on its own forces so it can blame Ukraine and move in, known as a ‘false flag’ attack.

What will the West do if Putin invades?

Ukraine doesn’t belong to Nato so there will be no military response, at least not officially. Any military assistance provided by the UK or US will be covert and deniable. President Joe Biden and Boris Johnson have agreed a package of ‘unprecedented’ economic sanctions against Russia in the event of war.

Putin wants to force a favourable diplomatic settlement. He may be able to do so if he restricts his offensive to the eastern regions already occupied by pro-Russian separatists. He could then call for that region to become independent from the rest of Ukraine, just as Crimea is.

On the deployment of the 12 bomber jets, the Russian Defence Ministry said previously that it was deploying 12 Su-35S fighters to Belarus for a joint military exercise commencing on 10 February.

Observers fear that they could become part of a force used to invade Ukraine.

Meanwhile, separate footage shows Russia’s massive buildup is continuing.

One video showed a military train purportedly heading west in Novosibirsk region, four times adrift from Belarus. Separate social media videos also show trains with military hardware moving across Russia.

Some hardware appeared to be from the Jewish autonomous region in eastern Russia, a distance of almost 6,000 miles.

A TikTok video filmed in Tver, Russia highlights a military convoy on the move by road. And a new train video shows Russian military supplies arriving in Belarus.

Observers say there is a massing in the southern Gomel region, which is seen as in striking distance of Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Meanwhile, the American embassy in Kyiv said that a US military cargo weighing over 90 tonnes arrived in Ukraine. This was ‘first shipment of assistance recently directed by President Biden to Ukraine’.

The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also plan to send U.S.-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, a move that the United States fully endorsed Saturday amid Kyiv’s escalating tensions with Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet that Washington saluted the three NATO nations and former Soviet republics ‘for their longstanding support to Ukraine.’

‘I expedited and authorized and we fully endorse transfers of defensive equipment (at)NATO Allies Estonia Latvia Lithuania are providing to Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible aggression,’ Blinken said in another tweet.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier this week described the West supplying arms to Ukraine as extremely dangerous and said the shipments ‘do nothing to reduce tensions.’

The West has rejected Moscow’s main demands – promises from NATO that Ukraine will never be added as a member, that no alliance weapons will be deployed near Russian borders, and that it will pull back its forces from Central and Eastern Europe.

A meeting Friday between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ended with no breakthrough.

In a joint statement published late Friday, the defense ministers of the three Baltic states said they ‘stand united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in face of continued Russian aggression.’

Meetings will continue between the US and Russia next week, with the former warning the latter that it must choose between the ‘path of diplomacy’ or the ‘path of conflict and condemnation’ as the threat of invasion grows with thousands off troops and military equipment stationed on the Russia-Ukraine and Belarus-Ukraine borders conducting exercises (pictured at the Kuzminsky range in southern Russia)

The last ditch talks were arranged after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy yesterday predicted a ‘large-scale war’ after Moscow spent months massing more than 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery pieces along the border (pictured taking part in drills in Rostov-on-Don, 70miles from Ukraine)

They said Estonia would provide Javelin anti-tank weapons while Latvia and Lithuania were sending Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other related equipment to bolster Kyiv’s defensive military capabilities. It wasn’t immediately clear when the weapons and equipment would be sent to Ukraine.

‘Today, Ukraine is at the forefront of separating Europe from the military conflict with Russia. Let´s face it, the war in Ukraine is ongoing and it is important to support Ukraine in every way we can so that they can resist the aggressor,’ Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet said.

Estonia also is seeking Germany’s approval to send Soviet-made howitzers, which once belonged to East Germany, to Ukraine. Estonia acquired the howitzers from non-NATO member Finland, which in turn had bought them from Germany’s military surplus supply in the 1990s.

The German government said Friday that it was considering Estonia’s request to pass the howitzers on to Ukraine but gave no timeline for a decision. Berlin said it planned to coordinate the issue with Finland, which has received a similar approval request from Estonia.

Some recent media reports suggested German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Cabinet has blocked Estonia’s transfer of weapons to Kyiv, pointing to strains in the West’s response to the Ukraine crisis.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Saturday that Germany was not showing adequate support for Ukraine.

Kuleba said in a Twitter post that the weapons transfer issue and remarks by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressing skepticism about cutting off Russia from the SWIFT global payments system ‘do not correspond to the level of our relations and the current security situation.’    

Meanwhile, The U.S. State Department is currently warning U.S. citizens not to visit Ukraine due to the coronavirus pandemic but is also advising them to reconsider travel there due to potential Russian aggression.

Speculation that an announcement about the U.S. diplomatic presence in Ukraine may be imminent has increased since the Embassy in Kyiv announced it would hold a virtual town hall meeting about the security situation with U.S. citizens in Ukraine on Tuesday.

Discussions on the matter have been underway for some time, but Blinken went over the contingency plans with the embassy’s security team when he visited Kyiv on Wednesday, officials said.

The officials stressed that no decisions had yet been made and that an outright evacuation is not being considered. One possible scenario would be to order the families of American personnel to leave the country while allowing non-essential staffers to depart voluntarily at government expense, they said. 


Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu (left) has agreed to meet UK counterpart Ben Wallace (right) in Moscow for emergency talks over the Ukraine crisis. A senior defence source said Mr Wallace ‘has been clear that that he will explore all avenues to achieve stability and a resolution to the Ukraine crisis’ during the talks and that his office was ‘in communication with the Russian government’

Iran, China and Russia hold joint naval drills in Indian Ocean

Iran, China and Russia yesterday launched a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, with the aim of boosting marine security, state media reported. 

Iran’s state TV said 11 of its vessels were joined by three Russian ships including a destroyer, and two Chinese vessels.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will also participate with smaller ships and helicopters.  

Russia is also being joined by China and Iran – two nations which are at loggerheads with the West, with Beijing recently accused of sending a spy to the heart of the UK Parliament. 

The joint naval exercise will cover some 6,560 square miles (17,000 square kilometres), in the Indian Ocean’s north, and include night fighting, rescue operations and firefighting drills. 

‘The purpose of this drill is to strengthen security and its foundations in the region, and to expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries to jointly support world peace, maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future,’ Iran’s Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini, spokesman for the drills, told state TV. 

This is the third joint naval drill between the countries since 2019. It coincided with a recent visit by Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi to Russia.

‘Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international arena,’ Mr Raisi said upon returning from Russia on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported. 

 

 

Britain’s Defence Secretary Wallace extended an invitation for his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to visit London earlier this week, but was instead invited to visit Moscow for talks given the last bilateral defence talks between the two countries took place in the UK capital. 

A senior defence source said Mr Wallace ‘has been clear that that he will explore all avenues to achieve stability and a resolution to the Ukraine crisis’ during the talks and that his office was ‘in communication with the Russian government.’ 

Chair of the Defence Select Committee Mr Ellwood said today that he expected an ‘imminent’ invasion as Putin has ‘actually boxed himself into a corner because so much effort has been put into this’, but added that the Russian strongman ‘recognises that he’ll never again be as strong as this, to take advantage of the West’s weakness.’

He blasted NATO and the US for being ‘timid’ and ‘risk averse’  and warned ‘the West needs to reset and recognise post-Afghanistan that NATO needs to develop a fresh sense of purpose’ to answer Putin’s Russia because ‘what happens in eastern Europe security-wise has long term consequences.’

‘This is about Putin wanting to establish absolutely a sphere of influence way beyond Ukraine itself,’ Mr Ellwood told Radio Four. ‘Putin wants a legacy, he wants to be seen as the most powerful state in Europe, he’s angry at the demise of the Soviet Union and he certainly doesn’t want EU or NATO rubbing up against the Russian Empire.’

Mr Zelensky yesterday predicted war with Russia if the superpower attempts to occupy the industrial city of Kharkiv, the former Soviet republic’s second biggest city with a population of about 1.4 million, which he believes is a ‘feasible’ target due to its large Russian-speaking population. 

He told the Washington Post: ‘I will say realistically if Russia decides to enhance their escalation, of course they are going to do this on those territories where historically there are people who used to have family links to Russia.

‘Kharkiv, which is under Ukraine government control, could be occupied. Russia needs a pretext: They will say that they are protecting the Russian-speaking population.’    

Meetings will continue between the US and Russia next week, with the former warning the latter that it must choose between the ‘path of diplomacy’ or the ‘path of conflict and condemnation’ as the threat of invasion grows with thousands off troops and military equipment stationed on the Russia-Ukraine and Belarus-Ukraine borders.

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