Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Baltic nations will send Washington-backed weapons to Ukraine

Jari Tanner, Associated Press

Published Saturday, January 22, 2022 2:37 PM EST

Last updated Saturday, January 22, 2022 3:50 PM EST

HELSINKI (AP) – The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania plan to send US-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, the United States said on Saturday amid escalating tensions in Kiev with Russia. supported by.

The defense ministers of the three Baltic states said in a joint statement published late Friday that they “stand united in our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of continued Russian aggression.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet that Washington saluted the three NATO countries and former Soviet republics “for their longstanding support to Ukraine”.

Blinken said in another tweet, “I have swiftly authorized and we fully support the transfer of defensive equipment – NATO ally Estonia Latvia Lithuania Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible aggression.” to strengthen the capacity of the

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier this week described the arms supplying West to Ukraine as extremely dangerous and said the shipments “do nothing to defuse tensions.”

Moscow has amassed tens of thousands of troops near the Russia-Ukraine border, raising fears of an invasion. The West has rejected Moscow’s main demands – NATO’s promises that Ukraine would never be annexed as a member, that no coalition weapons would be deployed near Russian borders, and that it would join Central and Eastern Europe. Will withdraw his army from

Friday’s meeting between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended without success. Amid the precarious security situation, the US State Department is considering several options to ensure the security of the US embassy and its staff in Kiev by reducing its diplomatic presence there.

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Defense ministers of the Baltic states said in their statement that Estonia would provide anti-javelin anti-tank weapons while Latvia and Lithuania were sending Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other related equipment to enhance Kiev’s defensive military capabilities. It was not immediately clear when the weapons and equipment would be shipped to Ukraine.

“Today, Ukraine is at the forefront of isolating Europe from a military conflict with Russia. Let’s face it, there is a war going on in Ukraine and it is important to support Ukraine in every way possible so that they can resist the aggressor,” Estonian Defense Minister Kale Lanet said.

Estonia is also seeking Germany’s approval to send Soviet-made howitzers, once from East Germany, to Ukraine. Estonia acquired howitzers from non-NATO member Finland, which in turn bought them from Germany’s military surplus supplies in the 1990s.

The German government said on Friday it was considering Estonia’s request to pass the howitzers to Ukraine, but did not give a timeline for the decision. Berlin said it planned to coordinate the issue with Finland, which has received a similar approval request from Estonia.

Berlin regularly demands a say when weapons sold by Germany are transferred to third countries. But some recent media reports suggested that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet may halt arms transfers to Estonia’s Kiev, highlighting divisions in the West’s response to the Ukraine crisis.

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Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba on Saturday accused Germany of not showing enough support for Ukraine.

Kuleba said in a Twitter post that the arms transfer issue and German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock’s remarks about cutting Russia off the SWIFT global payment system “does not correspond to the level of our relationship and the current security situation.” “

Also on Saturday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador to object to a recently circulated video in which the German Navy chief said Ukraine would not recapture the Crimean peninsula, which Russia captured in 2014. Had taken.

The US State Department is currently warning US citizens not to travel to Ukraine because of the coronavirus pandemic, but is also advising them to reconsider traveling there because of a possible Russian invasion.

Speculation that an announcement about the US diplomatic presence in Ukraine may be imminent comes as the embassy in Kiev announced it will hold a virtual town hall meeting with US citizens in Ukraine on Tuesday about the security situation.

Officials said the matter had been discussed for some time, but Blinken worked out contingency plans with the embassy security team when he visited Kiev on Wednesday.

Officials stressed that no decision has been taken yet and one-time withdrawals are not being considered. He said a possible scenario would be to order the families of US workers to leave the country, while allowing non-essential workers to leave voluntarily at government expense.

Jim Heintz in Moscow and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


Nation World News Desk
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