Ukraine considers the West's plans for more ammunition to be insufficient. The country needs a million artillery shells and around four billion euros would probably have to be made available for this, said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov at an informal meeting with the counterparts of the EU states in Sweden.
The Leopard 2 tanks promised by Germany and Portugal are expected to arrive in Ukraine soon. Meanwhile, the Russian mercenary group Wagner claims to have the east of the embattled town of Bakhmut completely under control. It is also unclear whether the latest evidence in the case of the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions is really reliable.
The EU initially expects one billion euros for new ammunition
Before the meeting of defense ministers, the EU Commission and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had proposed making an additional billion euros available for ammunition deliveries to Ukraine. The money is to come from the so-called European Peace Facility. It is a financing instrument through which the EU already supplies arms and equipment and supports the training of the Ukrainian armed forces. Ukraine, on the other hand, wants enough ammunition to be able to launch further counter-offensives against the attackers from Russia.
Tanks from Portugal and Germany are coming soon
According to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, the main battle tanks promised by Germany and Portugal for Ukraine will be delivered by the end of March. "I can tell you that I just found out that the 18 German Leopard 2A6 tanks and the 3 Portuguese ones can all come together to Ukraine this month (...)," said the SPD politician Edge of the EU defense ministers meeting in Sweden. The tanks would arrive with trained crews and could then go to the theater of operations. Poland delivered the first four Leopard 2 Type 2A4 main battle tanks to Ukraine in February. Ten more are to follow this week.
Poland's President Duda: Can deliver MiG-29
According to President Andrzej Duda, Poland is ready to hand over its Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine as part of an international coalition. "We are ready to deliver these planes and I am sure that Ukraine would be ready to use them immediately," Duda told US broadcaster CNN. The Polish agency PAP quoted from it. It is important for the future to train more Ukrainian pilots on US F-16 fighter jets, said Duda during his visit to Abu Dhabi in the Persian Gulf.
The discussion about the Polish MiG-29s came up shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. According to Polish military experts, the country on NATO's eastern border still has about 30 machines of this type in use. Many come from old GDR stocks.
Swiss parliament against forwarding ammunition
The transfer of Swiss tank ammunition to the Ukraine requested by Berlin should remain prohibited. After the Council of States, the larger parliamentary chamber, the National Council, also rejected a comprehensive push to relax the ban. Opponents argue that Switzerland's neutrality should not be touched. The War Material Act prohibits countries from forwarding purchased goods to countries involved in an international conflict.
The National Council refused to permit re-exports if the UN General Assembly - as in the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine - condemns a war of aggression. It is okay to exceptionally authorize re-exports if not the General Assembly but the UN Security Council condemns a war of aggression by resolution. But that is already possible, as Economy Minister Guy Parmelin said.
Germany and other countries have unsuccessfully applied for permission to transfer Swiss ammunition to Ukraine. In view of such refusals, buyers would have to think carefully about where they buy ammunition in the future, said German Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Wagner troop allegedly conquers the east of Bakhmut
According to their own statements, the Russian mercenary group Wagner conquered the entire eastern part of Bakhmut. "Everything east of the Bakhmutka River is under the complete control of the private security company Wagner," said Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in an audio recording distributed by his press service. The Ukrainian side has not yet confirmed this partial withdrawal. The information cannot be verified independently either.
Kiev wants to continue to hold the "Bakhmut Fortress," as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized again in his daily video address on Tuesday evening.
Court: Sanctions against Prigozhin's mother illegal
The General Court of the European Union annulled EU sanctions against the mother of Russia's private army chief Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin. As the court in Luxembourg announced, a family relationship is not enough to justify punitive measures against them. At the time the sanctions were imposed, Violetta Prigozchina was apparently not the owner of companies with ties to her son, as claimed by the EU.
The EU states had put Violetta Prigozchina on their sanctions list. They considered that it "supports actions and policies which undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine".
Nord Stream sabotage: Uncertainty about new leads
Ukrainian Defense Minister Resnikov denied that his ministry was involved in the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines. The fact that Ukrainian special forces are believed to be capable of such an operation is "a kind of compliment," said Resnikov. "But that's not our field of activity."
ARD, SWR and "Zeit" had reported that traces led in the direction of a pro-Ukrainian group. In their investigations into the explosions, the federal prosecutor's office had a suspicious ship searched in January, as the authority confirmed.
Defense Minister Pistorius warned against jumping to conclusions. It could also have been a so-called false flag operation, in which the perpetrators could have intentionally laid false tracks. "It would not be the first time in the history of such events," said Pistorius. At the end of September, a total of four leaks in the two pipelines from Russia to Germany were discovered after explosions near the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.
Zelenskyy thanks Ukrainian women on Women's Day
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his thanks on the occasion of International Women's Day. "It seems to me that it is important to say thank you today. To thank all women who work, teach, learn, save, heal, fight - fight for Ukraine," said the 45-year-old in a video message. On this day he wants to remember all the women "who gave their lives for our state." Zelenskyy said he would call his mother and thank his wife.
US secret services: Putin is probably playing for time
US intelligence services are assuming that Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing for time in the war against Ukraine. "We do not expect the Russian military to recover sufficiently this year for major territorial gains," US intelligence coordinator Avril Haines said at a Senate hearing in Washington.
"But Putin is most likely speculating that time is working in his favor and that prolonging the war, including possible lulls in fighting, might be his best remaining avenue to eventually secure Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine - even if it takes years to do so ' Haines said.
The Kremlin chief now probably better understands the limits of what his military can achieve and seems to be concentrating on more modest military goals for the time being.