War in Ukraine: Germany wants to double its military aid to Ukraine - Kiev is preparing for Russian winter attacks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has warned his compatriots of more Russian air strikes in the winter and at the same time assured them of better protection.

War in Ukraine: Germany wants to double its military aid to Ukraine - Kiev is preparing for Russian winter attacks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has warned his compatriots of more Russian air strikes in the winter and at the same time assured them of better protection. As in the previous year, Ukraine must arm itself against increased attacks on its infrastructure, he said in his evening speech on Sunday. However, according to Zelensky, Ukrainian air defense is much better positioned this year thanks to Western military aid.

In NATO country Romania, training for Ukrainian pilots on American F-16 fighter jets begins on Monday, and Kiev has high hopes for their use. And in Brussels on Monday, the foreign ministers of the 27 EU states will discuss the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East. In the east of Ukraine, the Russian army is now increasing its attacks around the town of Mariinka.

“Russia is preparing for winter,” Zelensky warned in his speech. Ukraine must be prepared for an increase in the number of drone and missile attacks on infrastructure. Critical infrastructure includes thermal power plants and the power supply, the failure of which can have far-reaching consequences, especially during the cold months.

At the same time, Zelensky promised better protection against Russian attacks than last winter. Together with a number of Western countries, we are working on improving the Ukrainian air defense, which has since been strengthened, on a daily basis. However, complete protection of the entire territory cannot yet be guaranteed.

In Romania, Defense Minister Angel Tilvar and his Dutch counterpart Kajsa Ollongren opened the European F-16 Training Center (EFTC) on Monday at the Fetesti air base, 150 kilometers east of Bucharest. The Netherlands is providing 12 to 18 fighter jets for the training, which both Ukrainian and Romanian pilots are receiving. The F-16 manufacturer Lockheed is sending trainers and maintenance personnel. It is unclear when Ukraine, which has been defending itself against the Russian war of aggression for almost 21 months, will actually be able to use the fighter jets in the war zone. It is estimated that the training of the pilots will take at least six months.

The federal government wants to double its military aid to Ukraine. Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) said on Sunday evening on ARD that the planned budget increase was a “strong signal to Ukraine that we will not abandon them.” He thereby indirectly confirmed reports from “Bild am Sonntag” and the ARD capital studio, according to which the support will be increased from four to eight billion euros in 2024.

As "Bild am Sonntag" and the ARD capital studio reported, citing coalition and ministry circles, the traffic light coalition had previously agreed to increase support from four to eight billion euros next year. Accordingly, the Bundestag's budget committee should initiate the additional spending in the so-called adjustment session that begins on Thursday.

According to the reports, Germany is also exceeding NATO's two percent target with the additional spending: According to ministry calculations mentioned by "Bams", defense spending amounts to 2.1 percent of gross domestic product.

In eastern Ukraine, according to a report from the Ukrainian General Staff, Russian attacks have recently been particularly intense around the town of Mariinka, just a few kilometers west of the industrial city of Donetsk. Around a third of all battles in the past 24 hours took place on this section of the front, with 20 battles. The Russians attacked the town of Avdiivka, which is located north of Donetsk and was also heavily contested, only half as often during this period. The information could not be independently verified.

On the southern sector of the front, the Ukrainian army says it has continued its offensive towards the large city of Melitopol. On Sunday afternoon, the Ukrainian military intelligence service HUR reported an explosion in Melitopol in which at least three high-ranking officers of the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) were said to have been killed. Kremlin-appointed regional crew chief Vladimir Rogov wrote on Telegram in the evening that an "explosion-like noise" in the city was allegedly caused by faulty gas equipment in a vehicle. According to him, no one was injured.

At their meeting in Brussels on Monday, the EU foreign ministers will also discuss what long-term security commitments for Ukraine could look like. It recently became apparent that a plan by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for longer-term financing commitments for military aid is unlikely to receive the necessary support from all 27 EU states. This envisaged mobilizing five billion euros annually from 2024 to 2027. It is now being discussed whether less extensive obligations could be an alternative.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is expected in Brussels from Germany. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will be involved in the discussions about the situation in Ukraine at the beginning.

Despite the efforts to isolate Moscow because of the war in Ukraine, the USA also wants to be a "good host" for the Russian delegation at the APEC summit in San Francisco. The Russian delegation will be led by Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overshuk, Matt Murray of the US State Department told AFP on Sunday. Owerschuk will be treated "as head of the delegation" and will be able to participate "fully" in this week's events.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC) summit, which runs until November 17, is unthinkable due to the comprehensive sanctions that Washington imposed on Ukraine after the start of Russia's war of aggression. In mid-March, the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Putin over the abduction of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia during the Ukraine war.

The US State Department publicly stated last month that it would not welcome Putin to San Francisco. Putin then said that each APEC member could choose its own delegation.

Ukrainian and Polish government representatives are meeting in the border area of ​​the two countries to resolve the issue of the blockade of some border crossings. Polish transport companies have blocked several border crossings into Ukraine in protest against cheaper competition. The EU foreign ministers also meet in Brussels.