Last week (January, 16–22) the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands announced another package of military assistance to Ukraine. This happened against the backdrop of the 8th Ramstein meeting on January, 20.
The weapons batch to be transferred to Ukraine mostly contains armored vehicles and artillery systems, as well as additional air defense systems. However, during the meeting in Ramstein, the participants did not strike agreement on the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
At the same time, Berlin announced that the government would consider this issue in the near future, and does not object if Poland transfers German-made tanks to Ukraine.
russia continues to use lies and manipulations. They are concerned about freedom of religion in Ukraine, at the same time withdrawing from a number of European human rights conventions.
The aggressor is convening a meeting of the Security Council on the alleged persecution of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, although they have previously publicly stated that the Security Council was not adapted for a substantive analysis of the human rights situation.
In addition, russia accuses Ukraine of violating humanitarian law by installing air defense systems in residential areas. Instead, they installed three Pantsir-S1 systems on the rooftops of buildings, in the center of Moscow.
Moreover, russian politicians continue to justify the war.
vladimir putin said that the rf troops are conducting a special operation to end the war in the Donbas.
At the same time, vyacheslav volodin believes that they should have been the first to start the war, in order not to lose it, and the special operation allowed to avoid many deaths. Instead, sergei lavrov compared russia to the Jews, and the collective West and Ukraine to Hitler, which provoked criticism of the international community.
kremlin's spokesman, peskov, actually admitted that russia can quickly stop large-scale crimes if Ukraine accepts the aggressor's demands.
On the diplomatic front, russia continues to suffer defeats. Last week, the US Department of Justice announced that it was ready to begin the transfer of confiscated assets of the russian federation.
The European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution calling for the establishment of a special international tribunal to punish the crime of russian aggression against Ukraine. Moreover, Serbia is increasingly distancing themselves from russia. In particular, Serbian President emphasized that he had never supported russia's invasion of Ukraine. He urged moscow to stop recruiting Serbs for the war against Ukraine, and announced the provision of humanitarian assistance to support the Ukrainian energy system.
Ukraine to Receive Armored Vehicles, Artillery, and Air Defense Systems. Germany Hesitating About the Leopard Tanks
On January, 16, the United Kingdom announced a new military aid package for Ukraine, the largest batch since the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion. It includes 14 Challenger-2 tanks with armored evacuation vehicles, 30 self-propelled artillery units AS90, 200 armored vehicles, including Bulldog armored personnel carriers, dozens of drones to support artillery, and 100,000 artillery shells.
Britain will also provide Ukraine with missile systems, the GMLRS system, the Starstreak air defense system, and medium-range air defense systems.
Speaking to the British Parliament, Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “Today's package significantly increases Ukraine's capabilities. It means that they can move from deterrence phase to the expulsion of russian troops from the Ukrainian land.”
In addition, the Secretary expressed hope that other partner countries, such as Poland and Finland, would be able to provide the Ukrainian military with Leopard 2 tanks. However, this matter will depend on Germany, the manufacturing country of these tanks, as they need to authorize their re-export.
On January, 18, new military aid packages were announced in Canada and Latvia. Canada will give Ukraine 200 armored vehicles Senator APC, said Defense Minister, Anita Anand, during her stay in Kyiv. She also announced that Canada will purchase a NASAMS air defense system for Ukraine.
The Ministry of Defense of Latvia said that in the near future they will send to Ukraine new batches of military aid: Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, helicopters, machine guns with ammunition, and drones.
As early as on January, 19, military assistance to Ukraine was announced by the United States, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced an additional package of security assistance for $2.5 billion. It includes, among other things, ammunition for NASAMS air defense systems and HIMARS jet fire systems, 8 Avenger air defense systems, 59 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles with 590 tow anti-tank missiles, and 295 thousand 25-mm ammunition, 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, 53 MRAP armored vehicles, 350 highly mobile multi-purpose wheeled vehicles HMMWV, and much more.
Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, announced his intention to transfer to Ukraine self-propelled artillery systems Archer, 50 armored infantry vehicles Stridsfordon 90, and NLAW anti-tank missiles. This aid is the 10th package, it also includes grenade launchers, anti-tank guns, automatic weapons, and demining equipment. “Ukraine's desire to get what they need most was of great importance to us,” Khristersson commented.
Denmark announced that they are transferring 19 CAESAR self-propelled artillery units to Ukraine. “This is a very big and significant sacrifice. We have been in constant contact with the Ukrainians, in particular about the Caesar artillery, and I am glad that now we have received broad support from the Parliament to donate it to the fight for Ukraine's freedom,” Defense Minister Jacob Elleman-Jensen said.
Lithuania will provide Ukraine with military assistance worth about 125 million euros. These are dozens of L70 anti-aircraft systems, ammunition, and two Mi-8 helicopters. It was announced by Lithuanian Defense Minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, in his tweet.
Estonia announced the largest package of assistance to Ukraine worth EUR 113 million. These are dozens of 155 mm FH-70 and 122 mm D-30 guns, ammunition, artillery support vehicles and grenade launchers. In Tallinn, they emphasized that they provided exactly the weapons that Ukraine requested.
Another important event also took place on January, 19. Great Britain, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic signed the “Tallinn Declaration”, where they pledged to continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine in the war with the russian federation.
The signatories said that the new level of support to Ukraine requires the provision of tanks, air and missile defense, which operate together with divisional artillery groups, and “further deep precision fire, which allows you to purposefully hit russian logistics and command hubs in the occupied territory.”
“Therefore, we commit to jointly continue to provide unprecedented assistance, in particular, the main combat tanks, heavy artillery, air defense, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles for the defense of Ukraine”, the document says.
On January, 20, the 8th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group was held in the Ramstein format. Among other things, they discussed the supply of German heavy tanks Leopard 2 to Ukraine. Ukraine hoped that Germany would provide their tanks to Ukraine and allow to do the same to the countries that have them in service and are ready to transfer them to Kyiv. However, so far it has not been possible to strike the agreement on the tanks.
According to German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, although the Western allies did not agree on providing Leopard 2 to Ukraine at the Ramstein meeting, he instructed his Ministry to prepare for “the day that may come.” However, on January, 23, Germany announced that the government will be making the decision on the possible transfer of tanks to Ukraine in the near future.
Boris Pistorius explained that Germany should consider many factors, and will not be making a hasty decision. This is not just a question of supplying or not supplying these tanks, but also about weighing the consequences of inaction, as well as the action," the Minister said.
In addition, German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, said that her country would not object if Poland handed over German-manufactured Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Thus, if Germany does not abandon their words, in the near future Ukraine will receive the first 14 German tanks from Poland. At the same time, it can become a model for other countries, such as Finland, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, because several dozen tanks will not solve the problem.
In addition, during the meeting in Ramstein, Finland and the Netherlands announced their military assistance. Thus, Finland announced the 12th aid package to Ukraine, which is several times larger than all the previous ones. Its cost is 400 million euros, while the total amount of previous packages is 590 million. Finland will provide heavy weapons and ammunition, but for security reasons, the detailed contents of the package and the estimated time of arrival of the weapon are not disclosed.
Defense Minister Mikko Savola said that it was compiled with account for requests from Ukraine and contingent on what Finland could provide from their stock.
On the other hand, the Netherlands said that they would give Ukraine two launchers of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, and the missiles to match. Also, Dutch government is potentially ready to discuss the provision of Ukraine with F-16 fighters, if Kyiv makes the request.
Therefore, the Netherlands, like Poland and the United Kingdom with tanks, can become the first country to transfer modern fighters to Ukraine, which will create a precedent for other countries. Moreover, Ukraine has repeatedly called on allies, including during the last Ramstein, to provide not only tanks and long-range artillery, but also aircraft.
Double Standards: russia Manipulates Human Rights In Their Favor
Last week, russia decided to withdraw from a number of European conventions, in particular from the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as from the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.
As stated by the member of state duma, leonid slutsky, it is a priority objective for the russian “Parliament” to denounce the European treaties. However, he immediately rushed to reassure citizens that such a decision would not affect the observance of human rights in russia.
“During the 26 years of russia's membership in the Council of Europe, all its provisions, are at least implemented in the national legislation, they are valid, and will be in force. There are clear safeguards. If necessary, we are ready to intensify work on improving legislation in the field of human rights protection in russia,” he said.
“Indeed, if you have opted for being a terrorist that kills innocent people in their homes, why should you care about maintaining any link, even a symbolic one, to international democratic instruments? ” Serhiy Kyslytsia, a permanent representative of Ukraine to the UN, commented on the developments.
russia is openly ignoring the European human rights agreements, but still employs the topic of religion for military and political purposes, which also concerns human rights, such as the freedom of religion.
On January, 17, russia convened a meeting of the UN Security Council on the persecution of Orthodoxy, allegedly organized by the Ukrainian authorities.
The aggressor, in the typical manipulative form, spoke about the course of the Ukrainian authorities to undermine the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which is supported by “Western curators.”
“The seizure of the churches of the UOC continues, as well as the forced unlawful legal liquidation of their communities under the guise of allegedly voluntary transitions to other denominations. The cases are followed by mass clashes everywhere, by the beating of parishioners and clergy,” said russia's permanent representative to the UN, vasily nebenzya. “Ukraine is on the verge of a large-scale interfaith conflict, which the history of modern Europe has not yet seen.”
However, russia's manipulative concern for human rights in Ukraine is intended to protect a religious institution that was an integral part of russia's ideological and propaganda machine, as well as to hide their own crimes behind tons of fakes.
The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, Serhiy Kyslytsia, drew attention to the permanent disinformation narratives of russia which is trying to distract the attention of the Security Council from real security threats.
“We have already heard the insane statements about war mosquitoes, Ukrainian dirty bombs and chemical weapons, secret labs, etc. Today, the russian representative has gone even further. It is a real mockery of the Council, when an accomplice of crimes against humanity dresses up in the mantel of preacher and explains to the Security Council which denomination in Ukraine should be recognized as a canonical institution, and which should be labeled a heretical one,” he said.
The inconsistency of russia's positions on the protection of human rights was revealed in the very fact of convening the Security Council. On April, 18, 2017, when the members of the Security Council gathered to discuss the role and place of human rights on the Council's agenda, russia said:
“The Security Council is not designed to perform tasks to ensure the observance of human rights and is not adapted to a substantive analysis of the situation in this area. It is a body endowed with unique decision-making powers, including those involving the use of force in situations that constitute a threat to peace, a breach of peace, or an act of aggression. Within this mandate, the Council cannot serve as a forum to discuss the human rights situation wherever it may be.”
Therefore, Serhiy Kyslytsia said that if russia is interested in discussing human rights, it may be time to return human rights to the agenda of the Council and carefully consider the following:
- Reports of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in the occupied Crimea;
- Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine established by the UN Human Rights Council;
- Reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine;
- Reports of representatives of the Convention mechanisms of human rights within the framework of the Council of Europe, as well as briefings of European human rights courts hearing lawsuits against russia.
“The Delegation of Ukraine will strongly support this development. We propose to organize a special meeting of the Security Council to consider the consequences of the russian aggressor war on the human rights situation in Ukraine,” the Permanent Representative of Ukraine said.
In general, in the matter of protecting human rights, russia is tunneling below rock bottom. At a meeting of the Security Council on Ukrainian Orthodoxy, vasily nebenzya accused Ukraine of the tragedy in the Dnipro on January, 14, because of the alleged placement of air defense system in a residential neighborhood.
“A russian missile launched at an energy infrastructure facility was shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces. Since the air defense system was located in a residential area, violating the provisions of international humanitarian law, which you care so much about, the downed missile fell on a residential building. You know the rest of the story. If the Ukrainian authorities followed the requirements of international humanitarian law, the tragedy would not have happened,” he said.
However, last week, russia itself installed three anti-aircraft missile and cannon systems “Pantsir-S1” on the rooftops of buildings, in the center of Moscow. dmitry peskov could not explain why the air defense systems appeared in the center of the capital, and forwarded those interested to the Ministry of Defense of the russian federation.
“It is better to ask about all the measures taken there, in the Ministry of Defense. They are responsible for the country’s security in general, and for the capital city in particular,” he said.
The defense of the kremlin by air defense means caused the adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Mykhailo Podolyak, to raise two expected questions:
1. Would lavrov like to once again talk about international humanitarian law and russian air defense systems in residential areas?
2. Would putin/peskov like to once again explain the concept of “three-day SMO” and prove that “everything goes according to plan”?
kremlin allies make complimentary statements on Ukraine
Two weeks ago, Ukraine announced that it would put to a vote in the UN General Assembly the issue of creating a special tribunal on the crime of aggression. Within a few days, the initiative was supported by the European Parliament. The Eurodeputies voted for a resolution calling for the creation of a special international tribunal to punish the crime of russian aggression against Ukraine.
The document also mentions Belarus: “The tribunal should have jurisdiction to prosecute not only vladimir putin and the political and military leaders of the russian federation, but also alexander lukashenka and the political and military leaders of Belarus, as a complicit state, from whose territory and with which material and technical support the russian federation is waging their aggressive war against Ukraine.”
This decision of the EU legislature is a clear signal to the whole world that the top russian leaders will not be able to avoid responsibility and will be convicted for illegal and unjust aggression against Ukraine. Instead, russian society should understand that after recognizing russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the European Parliament is serious about punishing all criminals.
Perhaps, the inescapable punishment is affecting russia's allies such as Belarus, Serbia, and Iran. At least, it affected their public rhetoric. Last week, senior officials of these states made a number of “complementary statements” regarding Ukraine.
Thus, on January, 19, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, alexander lukashenko, said that Western neighbors are trying to use Ukraine against Belarus. “But he is impressed and pleasantly surprised” by the fact that “Ukraine is still holding on, that it does not succumb to provocations against Belarus, although it is actively pushed by our Western neighbors, you know who.” Earlier, on January, 1, the Belarusian dictator signed a decree declaring 2023 the “year of peace”.
Quite an ambiguous statement in an interview with TRT World was voiced by Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, whose country regularly supplies russia with kamikaze drones. The official said: “We recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries within the framework of international laws, therefore, despite the excellent relations between Tehran and Moscow, we did not recognize the separation of the Crimea, and of Luhansk and Donetsk regions from Ukraine.”
The Iranian official also emphasized that his country “insists on its consistent principle in foreign policy: when we say that the conflict in Ukraine is not a solution, we believe in our position as the fundamental political principle on which we rely.” In fact, such statements are purely declarative, because, despite regular assurances of non-involvement in the russian-Ukrainian war, Iran regularly supplies weapons to our enemy.
Thus, in November, 2022, the above-mentioned Hossein Amir-Abdollahian admitted that Tehran sent drones to russia, but allegedly even before the full-scale invasion of the kremlin.
The surprising rhetoric came this week from another “friend of the Kremlin,” a Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. On January, 17, he called on russia to stop recruiting Serbs for the war against Ukraine: “Why are you, from Wagner, calling someone from Serbia when you know that this is contrary to our rules?”
On the next day, January, 18, Vucic said that he does not support the invasion of the russian federation in Ukraine: “From the very beginning, we have been saying that we could not and do not have the right to support the invasion of russia on Ukraine. For us, Crimea is Ukraine, Donbas is Ukraine, and it will always be so.”
Interestingly enouh, in the summer, the Serbian president voiced diametrically opposite statements, saying that “hell awaits everyone” if the West does not accept the demands of the leader of the russian occupiers regarding Ukraine.
However, unlike the Iranians, Serbia recently announced the provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine to support the energy system. Such action of the state that officially does not support sanctions against the russian federation, can certainly be considered “optimistic”. However, most likely, they are the result of systemic pressure on Serbia from the United States and the countries of the European Union.
In addition, the statements of Alexander Vucic may be caused by the fact that next week the United States will impose additional sanctions against the russian private military company "Wagner" and recognize it as a transnational criminal organization, “which commits large-scale atrocities and human rights violations.”
Among the people helping russian criminals, there may be Serbian officials. In particular, a group of Serbian and pro-Ukrainian activists in Serbia filed a lawsuit against the russian private military company Wagner. The document includes a russian Ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandr Botan-Kharchenko, and the head of the Serbian State Agency for Security and Information, former Minister of Internal Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin.
Also last week, the US Department of Justice announced the possibility of transferring confiscated assets of the russian federation to Ukraine.
Andrew Adams, head of the U.S. Department of Justice's Asset Recovery and Forfeiture team, said during a discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington: “In the future, we are also prepared to begin transferring the forfeited assets to Ukraine. Let me emphasize that this is a relatively recent development.”
In other words, the punishment of russian criminals, the transfer of russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine, and the victory of our state will sooner or later become a reality. Russian officials might realize this, too, as the are already preparing russian people for difficult times. Thus, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the russian federation, dmitry medvedev, in the context of the meeting in Ramstein, admitted that russia will not have it easy: “The meeting in Ramstein and the allocation of heavy weapons to Kyiv leave no doubt that our enemies will indefinitely try to exhaust us, or rather, destroy us.” Well, we believe that the words about the destruction of russia will certainly come true.
russia Says It Is Conducting a “Special Operation” For Peace, and the West Is Identified With Hitler
The russian side does not stop manipulative propaganda about the war in Ukraine. In particular, at the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the breakthrough in the blockade of Leningrad, vladimir putin said that russia is conducting a so-called special operation in order to end the war.
“Whatever we are doing today, including a special military operation, is, as I have said many times, an attempt to end this war. That's the point of our operation. And to protect our people who live there, in these areas. These are our historical territories,” putin said.
The russian terrorist was sure to mention the Nazis in Ukraine and Bandera, who allegedly collaborated with Hitler and shot civilians.
“We have every reason to call today's regime neo-Nazi, and have every reason to help, including with the help of the Army, those people who consider themselves part of Russian culture, native speakers of the Russian language, who cherish their culture and their traditions,” he added.
At the same time, the head of the state Duma of russia, vyacheslav volodin, quoted vladimir putin in his Telegram: “If the fight is inevitable, you need to strike first.” Why then do they need the war – to end the war or to win an imminent war? It is not known for certain. Also, volodin called the beginning of a special military operation the only correct decision taken ahead of time, which allowed to prevent a disaster.
The recent cases of numerous manipulations are already making raise the eyebrows, even on the Ukrainian side. The President of Ukraine doubted who Ukraine was dealing with.
“I don't fully understand whether putin is still alive. Whether it is he who makes the decisions, or some others, such as a circle of people. I have no information…” – said Volodymyr Zelensky during his speech at the Ukrainian breakfast in Davos.
In addition, the russian side compared themselves to Jews, and the West – to Hitler and Napoleon. Such crazy conclusions were made by russian foreign minister, sergei lavrov, at a press conference on the achievements of russian diplomacy in 2022:
Just as Napoleon mobilized virtually the whole of Europe against the Russian Empire, as Hitler seized and put “under the gun” most European countries and threw them against the Soviet Union, the United States formed a coalition of almost all Europeans who are members of NATO and the EU, and through Ukraine, “by proxy” to wage a war against our country, with the same task – the final solution of the “Russian question”. Hitler wanted to have a final solution to the “Jewish question.”
The words of the russian diplomat caused outrage in the European Jewish Congress (EJC), which demands that lavrov apologize.
“We are shocked and appaled by this shameful comparison drawn by Minister lavrov between the actions of a coalition of democratic countries and Hitler's persecution and murder of six million Jews in the Shoah. This is Holocaust distortion at its most basic level,” the EJC said.
The Ukrainian side also reacted to lavrov’s absurdity. The head of the russian Foreign Ministry makes statements about russia's “historical right” to kill Ukrainians, appealing to the Holocaust and idealizing Hitler's crimes. russia increasingly more resembles a parody of Nazi Germany. We advise to fans of the history of Nazism to re-read the chapter about the tribunal, ” commented Mikhaylo Podolyak.
But russia has not stopped producing official nonsense. dmitry medvedev believes that “the Ukronazis and Western Europe are the direct heirs of those who fought with russia.” “And therefore, the war with them is a new Patriotic war with them. And victory will be ours. Like in 1812 and in 1945,” he said.
Speaker of the kremlin, dmitry peskov, who left Ukraine a window of opportunity for peace, also showed the special rationale last week.
“The sooner the Ukrainian regime is ready to take into account russia’s demands, which will be achieved in one way or another, the earlier everything will end and the earlier the people of Ukraine will begin to recover from the tragedy that the Kyiv regime staged,” he said.
“You tear up Ukraine with tanks, kill people, occupy territories, and then accuse Ukraine of “hypocrisy” because it does not want a “truce” and a “destructive position” because it wants to liberate its territories. Does the subject really believe that we should let ourselves be killed?”– Mykhailo Podolyak provides the reality.
The russian authorities continue to justify the war in Ukraine for the domestic audiences, resorting to increasingly manipulative statements. The “professionally” trained regular army of the russian federation could not win, and therefore the dictatorship regime mobilizes more and more of its citizens, first psychologically, and then physically, to go to deaths. The war in Ukraine is transferred to the rank of the “new Great Patriotic war.” And the reasons they provide include the fight against the Nazis, the protection of historical territories and the Homeland.