The brink of war.. Ukrainian exercises and maneuvers and calls for firmness with Russia and Washington send tens of tons of weapons and ammunition to Kiev
The Ukrainian-Russian front is witnessing rapid developments in light of the escalating tension between the West and Russia, with the continuation of the Ukrainian crisis, in light of mutual military mobilization and political moves to avoid war.
For the second day, the Ukrainian army continues to conduct four-day military maneuvers at the Military College near the capital, Kiev, in which soldiers from special units will be trained to activate a British anti-armor missile system that arrived as part of the latest aid to Ukraine.
These maneuvers come from the Ukrainian army to test the readiness of its soldiers to face any possible military escalation with Russia due to the crisis in the Donbass region.
The Wall Street Journal said that Russia’s military deployment in the vicinity of Ukraine gives Moscow a range of military options.
The newspaper quoted Russian officials and analysts as saying that these options include the ability to launch a large-scale attack and seize Ukrainian territory, as well as strengthening the capabilities of Ukrainian separatist forces loyal to Russia, all the way to political pressure on the Kiev government to undermine it and install a pro-Kremlin regime.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Ryzhnikov said that a fourth US arms shipment had arrived in Kiev, containing 81 tons of weapons and ammunition.
In a questioning to Parliament, Ryzenkov indicated that his country was waiting for more planes loaded with weapons in the coming days.
He explained that the amount of military support and aid is a cause for optimism, and that it is much more than what is published in the media. Ryzhnikov added that the amount of anti-tank weapons that the Ukrainian army has now far exceeds the number of potential targets.
The Ukrainian army also announced that it had conducted training exercises to operate an anti-tank missile system sent by Britain a few days ago.
The director of the Military Academy in Kiev, Pavlo Tkachuk, said that the exercises were carried out under the supervision of British trainers and focused on the characteristics and technology of these advanced weapons.
Russian blood supply
On the other hand, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Hana Maliar denied the statement of 3 US officials that Russia had transferred blood supplies and other medical materials to its forces amassed near the borders of Ukraine, while the Americans see it as another new indication of the expansion of Russian military preparations to carry out a military attack if the President decides. Russian Vladimir Putin it.
“This information is incorrect,” the Ukrainian military official said on Facebook on Saturday. Such “news” is one of the elements of media and psychological warfare. The purpose of such information is to spread panic and fear in our community.”
On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized what he described as a “sense abroad” that a war had already begun against Ukraine, telling reporters in Kiev: “We don’t need this panic.”
The Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister’s comment came after 3 US officials told Reuters that the Russian military build-up near Ukraine’s borders had expanded to include blood supplies as well as other medical materials that allow treatment of the wounded, in another new indication of Russia’s military preparations.
Current and former US officials say important indicators, such as blood supplies, are key in determining whether Moscow is prepared to carry out an invasion if Putin decides to do so.
The disclosure of the blood supply by US officials – who spoke on condition of anonymity – added a dimension to growing US warnings that Russia could be preparing for a new invasion of Ukraine, while massing more than 100,000 troops near its border.
On the ground, pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region announced that a civilian was wounded by a Ukrainian army sniper fire in the town of Alexandrovka (southwest of Donetsk).
Calls for vigilance and firmness with Russia
On Saturday, the Ukrainian authorities called on Western countries to show “vigilance and firmness” in their negotiations with Russia, which is accused of amassing troops on the border with the aim of carrying out an invasion.
Moscow denies any intention to do so, but demands security guarantees, including that Ukraine will not join NATO. Although the United States rejected this in a written response to Moscow this week, diplomatic channels remain open.
In a phone call with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba “stressed the importance of being vigilant and firm in contacts with Russia,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
Kuleba called for “giving priority to a political and diplomatic settlement” of the crisis between Russia and the West over Ukraine, amid rising tension.
In the same context, the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaia Kallas, called on European countries and the United States to be “extremely vigilant” and not to make concessions to Russia, considering that only Moscow can defuse the tension.
Kallas confirmed that she is in talks to strengthen the presence of NATO in her country as a deterrent, knowing that Estonia hosts a multinational battalion of NATO forces.
The Estonian leader, who came to power in 2021 as a member of the European Parliament, argued that Russia, accused of planning to invade Ukraine, was practicing a Soviet approach of ultimatums in the hope of winning concessions from Western countries.
Russia has deployed about 100,000 soldiers at the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, demanding that Kiev not be included in the alliance, and the withdrawal of NATO forces from countries such as Estonia that joined the alliance after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced the transfer of 12 Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile systems to Belarus to participate in joint military exercises between the two countries on February 10. The ministry confirmed the completion of the redeployment of air defense forces and systems in Belarus as part of upcoming exercises.
Calls for European solidarity over the crisis
Also within the European positions, the prime ministers of Hungary and Poland and their allies asked the European far-right to show solidarity over the Ukrainian crisis, in an announcement that the French far-right candidate for the presidential elections, Marine Le Pen, refused to sign.
“Russia’s military moves on the borders of Eastern Europe have brought us to the brink of war,” said part of the final declaration, following a meeting between European far-right parties and those of the sovereign, and which was read by the Spanish “Vox” party spokesman, Jorge Bocháddy.
He continued, “Solidarity, determination and cooperation in the field of defense among the countries of Europe are essential in facing similar threats,” denouncing the “ineffectiveness of European Union diplomacy.”
France’s National Rally candidate, Marine Le Pen, refused to sign the declaration, saying, “We do not share the same position on the Ukraine file.”
The situation in Ukraine was one of the main topics of the meeting, which was attended by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki.
Hundreds of French soldiers to Romania
In the context of European attitudes and actions, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced Saturday that France intends to send “hundreds” of soldiers to Romania as part of a possible deployment of NATO forces.
“This is the reason why I went to Romania on Thursday. Of course we talked with our Romanian partners about this issue,” Parly told France Inter radio, after French President Emmanuel Macron announced on January 19 that France was “ready” to participate. In “New Missions”, “Especially in Romania”.
And Barley saw that Romania, which borders Ukraine and overlooks the Black Sea – which is a “high tension area” because Russia and Ukraine are also “overlooking” on it – is “in the focus of tensions”, and must be “reassured.”
For his part, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today, Saturday, that he will visit Ukraine with his German counterpart Annalina Birbock on February 7-8.
He added that he assured Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba that France fully agreed with its partners on the need to find ways to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.
US sanctions against Russia
On the other hand, a White House official said that the administration of President John Biden intends to spare Russian citizens the brunt of any restrictions on US exports to their country if Russia invades Ukraine, and will focus on targeting industrial sectors.
In separate comments on Friday, a senior trade official said “important figures” would also face “widespread sanctions”.
These comments reduce the scope of any potential restrictions on imports into Russia that have previously been said to negatively affect the Russian economy, causing damage to industrial sectors and consumer technology products such as smartphones.
“We intend to take measures that we believe will reduce Russian industrial capacity and industrial production capacity over time without including individual Russian consumers,” White House national security official Peter Harrell said in an online speech from the Massachusetts Export Center on Thursday.