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War in Ukraine – Opinions and Developments: Bundestag votes against Taurus delivery to Ukraine

Hundreds of fortresses for protection against Russia: Baltic countries want to enhance border security

5:21 PM: The Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania aim to safeguard their borders with Russia and Belarus against potential attacks with hundreds of fortresses. This was announced by the defense ministers of the three EU and Nato countries on Friday.

“Russia’s war in Ukraine has demonstrated that in addition to equipment, ammunition, and personnel, defense facilities are necessary to defend Estonia from the very first meter,” stated Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur. The three countries see themselves as particularly vulnerable to potential attacks. Due to their location in the east of the Baltic Sea, they would be difficult for NATO to defend.

According to media reports, the construction of the structures is set to commence in 2025. Initially, approximately 55 million euros are earmarked for this purpose. As per the announcement, a system of fortresses and supply lines will be established. During peacetime, neither barbed wire nor mines nor concrete blocks will be laid at the border to stop tanks. However, they will be kept in readiness nearby, it was mentioned.

Russian wanted to join Ukrainian army: more than eight years in prison

4:29 PM: In Russia, a 61-year-old has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison on the accusation of attempting to join the Ukrainian army. The former pilot could not carry out his intention, stated the court in the Siberian region of Khakassia on Friday. It imposed a sentence of eight years and one month for “treason against the state.”

The prosecution had stated that the ex-pilot had intended to travel to Ukraine to “fight against the Russian army.” According to a human rights organization, the 61-year-old said that he rejected the conflict in Ukraine. However, he denied wanting to “fight on anyone’s side” there.

The man, who was born in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, had previously been convicted for defacing a banner in support of the Russian army in March 2022 and writing the words “Glory to Ukraine” on a wall.

Pistorius warns of escalation of Ukraine conflict

Friday, January 19, 4:00 AM: Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has cautioned against an escalation of the Ukraine conflict. “We hear threats from the Kremlin almost every day – most recently again against our friends in the Baltics,” stated the SPD politician to the “Tagesspiegel” (Friday): “So we have to consider the possibility that Vladimir Putin may one day even attack a NATO country,” Pistorius added, who has been in office for a year this Friday. Currently, he does not consider a Russian attack to be likely. “Our experts anticipate a period of five to eight years during which this could be possible.” He wants to use his warning or his call for the Bundeswehr to become “fit for war” to “awaken our society.”

Preparations for this must be made now. Pistorius had already raised the idea of a modified conscription, for which he expects proposals from his ministry by April. The minister is also open to opening the force to soldiers without German citizenship. “We wouldn’t be the first armed forces in Europe to do this,” said Pistorius. There are people in the country who have been in second or third generationinhabitant of Germany, but do not yet have the nationality of Germany. It is also necessary to make the arms industry more efficient.

Pistorius also spoke out for a reform of the debt brake for security reasons. “With a debt brake in this form, we will not get through these crises unscathed,” he said. The existing money is no longer sufficient today to ensure the security of the country, cope with the consequences of the pandemic, and at the same time make investments in education and digitization. With regard to the Bundeswehr, the defense minister emphasized, “We must quickly strengthen our defense capability in the face of the urgency of the threat situation.”

Pistorius also rejected calls for more German military aid to Ukraine and emphasized the limits of support by the Bundeswehr. “We cannot go ‘all in’ as some demand. Otherwise, we would be defenseless ourselves,” the minister said. “So far, we have delivered everything possible,” he added. Of all EU states, Germany is already providing the most, now it is up to the other European partners to do more. “Everyone must be clear: if Putin wins this war and occupies Ukraine, the risk to the alliance area will also increase,” warned the SPD politician.

Ukraine Foreign Minister expects first F-16 deployments this year

22.22 hrs: According to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, preparations for the deployment of the F-16 fighter jets in 2024 are proceeding according to plan. “The pilots are preparing, the engineers are preparing, the infrastructure is being prepared,” Kuleba said on Thursday in the continuous news program of Ukrainian television. All countries willing to provide jets to Ukraine are fulfilling their obligations.

“I think that this year we will achieve the first F-16 air victories in Ukraine,” the minister said. For his country, it is a priority this year to gain air superiority over Russia. Victory in the war will depend on who controls the sky, Kuleba said.

So far, Ukraine lacks aircraft to combat Russian jets. The Netherlands and Denmark want to transfer several dozen F-16 fighter jets of the US type. More countries, including the USA, are participating in the training of Ukrainian pilots on the new aircraft type for them. According to media reports, the Danish military expects to hand over the first aircraft to Ukraine in the second quarter of 2024.

According to Zelensky: Ukrainian economy grows by five percent despite the war

21.08 hrs: According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s economy grew by five percent compared to 2022 despite the Russian invasion last year. He said the same increase was seen in tax revenues, as stated by the head of state in his evening video address on Thursday. “This is a clear sign of Ukraine’s strength,” he said in Kiev

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal reported to him that the financial system situation is stable, Zelensky said. All social benefits are being paid in full. The president thanked taxpayers in the country: “The government really appreciates everyone who works, pays taxes, and thus supports our ability – our collective ability – to defend the state and independence despite all difficulties.”

A Ukrainian economic growth of around five percent was also expected by the European Union. It is a recovery effect after the Ukrainian economy shrank by almost 30 percent in 2022, the first year of the war. In the coming years, the economic performanceIn spite of the anticipated ongoing growth in the Eastern European country, it is expected to remain about one-fifth below pre-war levels, according to EU expectations.

Even though Selenskyj speaks of financial stability, his country relies on foreign assistance. According to the Central Bank in Kiev, Ukraine received the equivalent of over 38.8 billion euros in 2023. For 2024, Schmyhal estimates a need of 33 billion euros from abroad. However, the financial support from the EU and the USA is still pending.

Russia: Claims to have “under control” Wesjoloje

18.35 hrs: According to Russia’s military, they have reportedly occupied a small village in the Eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk. The village Wesjoloje is now “under control,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Thursday. The veracity of the claims from Moscow could not be independently verified. There was no immediate reaction from the Ukrainian side.

There are several villages named Wesjoloje in the Donetsk region, so it was not entirely clear which one was being referred to. Russian media speculated that it was a small village north of the city of Soledar, where about 100 people lived several years before the war.

For nearly two years, Ukraine has been defending itself against a Russian war of aggression. The Donetsk region is now largely occupied by the Russian army and also illegally annexed.

Ukraine and Russia report new air strikes

Thursday, January 18, 07:49: Ukraine and Russia have reported numerous mutual air strikes again. The Ukrainian air defense shot down 22 out of 33 drones overnight on Thursday, the Air Force in Kiev reported. Some drones did not reach their targets. Russia mainly targeted the eastern and southern regions of the country. There was also a rocket attack on the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv – from the Russian territory of Belgorod. The Russian authorities, in turn, reported drone and rocket attacks from the Ukrainian side.

The Governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, announced on Thursday morning that the Russian air defense had shot down ten Ukrainian rockets. A woman was injured, and windows in a house were broken. Belgorod has been experiencing shelling from the Ukrainian side for some time. According to Gladkov, after the attacks at the end of December, numerous people are still being treated in hospitals.

Prior to this, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin also reported a new thwarted drone attack on the Russian capital. The flying object was shot down in the Moscow region. According to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, a drone was also shot down in the Leningrad region. In each case, these were attempts to commit “terrorist attacks” against Russian regions, it was stated.

Bundestag votes against Taurus delivery to Ukraine

Wednesday, January 17, 18:56: In the debate on the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to the Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, the Bundestag has rejected the corresponding demands of the CDU and CSU. A motion by the Union faction, which explicitly calls on the federal government to deliver Taurus missiles, was majority rejected on Wednesday evening.

Members of the Greens and FDP, who have long been pressing for such a delivery in the coalition, justified their rejection on the grounds that the Union’s motion was linked to a plenary debate on the annual report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces. For example, FDP MP Nils Gründer explained:„Selbstverständlich unterstützt die FDP-Fraktion die Lieferung von Taurus (…), jedoch erscheint es bedauerlich, dass diese Diskussion heute auf dem Rücken der Anliegen unserer Soldatinnen und Soldaten geführt wird.“

Ukrainische Kräfte zerstören russisches Luftabwehrsystem mit Himars-Raketenwerfer

13.43 Uhr: Den Ukrainischen Streitkräften ist ein bedeutender Schlag gegen die Russen gelungen. Mithilfe eines Himars-Raketenwerfers aus den USA haben die ukrainischen Streitkräfte in der Südukraine ein russisches Flugabwehrraketenkomplex vom Typ Osa zerstört. Dies wurde von ukrainischen Spezialeinheiten bestätigt und ebenfalls ein Video dazu bei Telegram veröffentlicht.

Während Aufklärungsflügen entdeckten die ukrainischen Kräfte das russische Flugabwehrraketensystem. Anschließend wurden die Koordinaten an die Himars-Bediener übermittelt, die daraufhin das russische Kriegsgerät erfolgreich deaktivierten und vollständig zerstörten, wie in dem veröffentlichten Video zu sehen ist. Experten der „Kyiv Post“ haben die Echtheit der Bilder und des Videos bestätigt und die Zerstörung einer russischen Osa bestätigt.

mmo, al, ja, til, pip, shu, ter, daz, fil, sca, wop, lro, juw/mit Agenturmaterial

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