Scholz: Ukraine Won’t Have Full NATO Member Security Guarantees

Germany is discussing security guarantees for Ukraine with its allies in preparation for a time after the war, but these will not be the same as for a member of the transatlantic alliance, German Chancellor Scholz told the broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

“We are discussing with close friends the question of the security guarantees we can give. This is an ongoing process. It is clear that it will not be the same as if someone were a member of NATO,” Scholz said.

Scholz, who took office in December, has faced accusations at home and abroad of failing to show leadership in the Ukraine crisis and failing to convey empathy for citizens struggling with the soaring inflation that it has helped to fuel.

But the Social Democrat chancellor, whose mechanical style of communication has earned him the nickname “Scholzomat,” said he did not want to be one of the “politicians who each week make a promise but then don’t keep 90% of them.”

“Especially in such difficult times, it’s not the time for people who constantly say something, but for people who make sure that basic decisions are made,” he said.

Scholz said he was “very worried” about the impact of soaring energy inflation, but that the government needed to assess the impact of its latest multibillion-euro relief package before considering a new one.

“Next year will be the biggest challenge,” he said. “For this year, almost everyone who has done the calculations says we’re going to offset about 90% of the price increases for the lower and medium income households through the measures already decided.”

Asked if he felt the effect of inflation in his own life, he said he had shopped for groceries “just yesterday,” and was able to name correct prices for a range of different goods.

Scholz countered suggestions that he was over-cautious by pointing to his government’s record increase of the minimum wage and its radical shift in defense policy: breaking with decades of refusal to send arms to a conflict zone and creating a 100 billion euro ($104 billion) fund to upgrade the army.

Asked whether his three-party coalition government with the Greens and Free Democrats would introduce a default speed limit on motorways to reduce energy consumption, Scholz referred to their coalition pact, which ruled this out.

On COVID-19, he said Germany would not shut schools and non-essential businesses again if infection rates rose significantly this year, but that face masks would play a bigger role. ($1 = 0.9590 euros)


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NATO Leader Stoltenberg Prepares To Confront Putin, Secure Alliance’s Future

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is skipping a chance to exit the post to guide the alliance through the unprecedented risks of confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin and reportedly secure “the long-term health of the alliance.”

The former Norwegian prime minister took the helm at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2014 after Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and has since expanded the military alliance through its biggest expansion since the Cold War, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In March, amid Russia’s invasion of NATO partner Ukraine, he agreed to extend a term due to expire in September by one year. A nine-year tenure would make him the alliance’s longest-serving secretary-general since the 1980s, the Journal noted.

The war has turned his job into a balancing act — facing down Moscow while avoiding a direct military confrontation even as many NATO members worry about pushing Putin to use nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the news outlet noted.

He frequently repeats, “Putin wanted less NATO, and instead he’s getting more NATO,” the Journal reported.

But Stoltenberg won new confidence with his ability to navigate political minefields at NATO’s annual summit in Madrid, where he struck a deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to end his opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, the Journal reported.

It was also typical of his political savvy.

When former President Donald Trump criticized allies for not spending enough on defense in 2018, Stoltenberg quickly arranged a meeting, the Journal noted.

“Jens Stoltenberg was determined to work with President Trump come what may,” Rose Gottemoeller, a former senior State Department official who served as deputy secretary-general for three years until 2019, told the Journal.

Thanks to his success, she told the news outlet, “he became known as the Trump Whisperer.”

“It’s about finding solutions that are acceptable for everyone,” he has said, the Journal reported.

Gottemoeller said under Stoltenberg, the position of secretary-general has changed.

“He took that role and parlayed it into NATO becoming much more of a political institution,” she said.

Gordon “Skip” Davis, a retired U.S. Army major general who served as a NATO deputy assistant secretary-general until September, told the Journal Stoltenberg’s goal has been to keep the alliance focused on its core mission of protecting its members.

“Stoltenberg is looking after the long-term health of the alliance,” Mr. Davis said.


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Australia Could Reopen Its Embassy in Ukraine, Says Australian PM


Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he is looking to reopen the Australian embassy in Ukraine, as the Australian government continues to explore additional ways to provide aid to the war-torn country.

Speaking prior to talks in Spain for NATO, where the Russian invasion is high on the agenda, the PM revealed his government has considered re-establishing a new post over in Ukraine over recent days and weeks.

“We would like to have a presence on the ground there to assist and to be able to provide that on-ground presence. And I’ll have more to say on that in the coming days and weeks,” he told reporters in Madrid on Monday.

Ukraine Invasion ‘Strategic Disaster’ For Putin

Albanese also joined with world leaders to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Vladimir Putin’s aggression has unified NATO and democratic nations against the Russian government’s actions.

The Australian PM further noted that Russia’s invasion came “just after the was made of a special relationship between Russia and China” which has reinforced the need for leaders in the free world to be engaged.

“We know that the invasion of Ukraine has been a strategic disaster for Vladimir Putin he was expecting to march into Ukraine and for it to be all over well before now,” he said.

“He underestimated the courage and the resilience of the Ukrainian people but he also underestimated what the impact would be on the world.

Albanese is attending the NATO summit as a Asia-Pacific leader, along with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Calls For More Military Aid

The comment comes after Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Vasyl Muroshnychenko renewed calls for more military support to combat Russia’s military aggression.

“We need to see more weapons coming into Ukraine, more air defence systems, artillery, ammunition, infantry fighting vehicles,” Myroshnychenko told Sky News Australia on June 23.

The Prime Minister did not reveal whether a new support package had been developed but said Australia was the largest non-NATO contributor in the defence of Ukraine.

Australia has promised to provide 40 Bushmasters to Ukraine, with 20 of those having already arrived. Meanwhile, it has also committed to assisting A$300 million to Ukraine, although not all had yet been handed over.

Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles on Tuesday said the government is looking at additional ways to support the war-torn nation.

“The reason for that is whilst Ukraine is a long way from Australia we really do see the principles which are at stake in that conflict—which is essentially that the global rules-based order that Australia stands for that it has helped to build and protect—needs to protected everywhere,” Marles said in a press conference in Canberra.

“Whilst this is a conflict that is a long way away we see it as one that very much engages Australia’s national interest, we therefore stand with Ukraine against the aggression of Russia and will continue to look at further ways to support them.”

AAP contributed to this report.

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Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at nina.nguyen@epochtimes.com.au.



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NATO Set to Call China a ‘Systemic Challenge’ in New Strategy


NATO will cite China as a concern in its new strategy brief that will be endorsed at the summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29-30. This will be the first NATO strategy brief in a decade to cite the Chinese regime’s growing threat.

However, NATO diplomats told Reuters that the United States and the United Kingdom want to use tough wording, but France and Germany are more cautious.

The main subject of this week’s summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is addressing the increasing threats posed by China and Russia. As the world’s second-largest economy, Beijing brought more concerns to the world because it supports Moscow amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

In addition, China’s military ambition continues to grow in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, threatening the navigation freedom for ships and Taiwan’s territorial integrity. The Chinese regime claims the island as its own, despite Taiwan being a de facto independent country with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution.

A ‘Systemic Challenge’

NATO has labeled China as a threat in its new strategy document.

“[The NATO strategic report] will speak in ways that are unprecedented about the challenge that China poses,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the Group of Seven Summit on June 27.

He said the competition between the United States and China “does not mean confrontation or conflict.”

A day ago, a White House official told Reuters that the NATO strategic report would include strong language on China.

John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on June 23: “I think it’s a reflection of our allies’ equal concerns over the effect of Chinese economic practices, use of forced labor, intellectual theft, and coercive aggressive behavior not just in the region but elsewhere around the world. That they believe it’s important to factor China into the new strategic concept.”

A June 27 Reuters report quoted NATO diplomats who said that the United States and Britain have pushed for more forceful language to reflect what they see as China’s increasing military ambitions and growing concern that the regime could attack Taiwan. The diplomats requested to remain anonymous since the strategic report is in the process of being finalized.

Meanwhile, France and Germany—given their major industrial investment in China—favor more measured references, said the NATO diplomats.

One diplomat said a compromise was taking shape under which China would be described as a “systemic challenge” while balancing language referring to a “willingness to work on areas of common interest” with Beijing.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report to the U.S. Congress also underscored the importance of “meeting the pacing challenge presented by the People’s Republic of China’s increasingly capable military and its global ambitions.”

Negotiators are fine-tuning how to describe the relationship between China and Russia, with the Czech Republic and Hungary strongly opposed to the phrase “strategic convergence” to define it, one of the diplomats said.

NATO Summit

Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea were invited to the NATO summit for the first time.

“[NATO is not] taking our eye off the ball in China,” Reuters quoted a NATO official on June 27. “It’s [inviting four Asia-Pacific countries to the summit] firmed up the democratic world on both Russia and China.”

“NATO can’t afford to ignore China,” A European official told Reuters. “Europe was a bit behind in recognizing this, but views have definitely shifted in light of Hong Kong,” referring to Beijing’s security crackdown on the Asian financial hub.

Kirby, the NSC Coordinator, said: “Instead of distracting us from the Indo-Pacific and China, the president’s leadership with respect to supporting Ukraine has actually galvanized leaders in that region and effectively linked our efforts in Europe and in Asia and those Asian countries that will be participating in the NATO summit, I think speak volumes about that fact.”

G-7 Counters Beijing’s Debt Traps

The G-7 rich industrial democracies also addressed China’s threats.

On June 26, the G-7 nations decided to raise $600 billion over the next five years for a global infrastructure program—the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)—that will serve as a “positive alternative” to models that sell “debt traps.”

It’s broadly known that the Chinese regime makes “debt traps” around the world. It uses the Belt and Road Initiative to lend money to infrastructure projects in developing countries. Beijing uses the debts to take over the ownership of these projects once these countries can’t pay back the loans.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.



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Canada in Talks With NATO Allies About Boosting Military Forces in Latvia


Ottawa is talking with allies about boosting a Canadian-led combat unit in Latvia as the NATO military alliance moves to reinforce its eastern front with Russia.

Latvia’s ambassador to Canada revealed the discussions in an interview with The Canadian Press today as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to attend a NATO summit where Russia and its invasion of Ukraine will be top of mind.

Kaspars Ozolins says the aim is to add more troops and capabilities to the 2,000-strong battlegroup that Canada has been leading in Latvia since 2017, which will serve as a deterrent to further Russian aggression in the region.

The battlegroup in Latvia is one of four NATO created in 2017. Germany leads another such unit in Lithuania, Britain heads one up in Estonia and the U.S. is responsible for forces in Poland.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg confirmed today that the four battlegroups will be increased to brigade-level forces, which entails doubling the number of troops assigned to each.

Germany and Britain have both recently saidthey are ready to lead larger combat units in Lithuania and Estonia, and Ozolins is hoping Canada will announce something similar during this week’s NATO summit in Spain.

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As Summit Host, Spain Urges NATO to Watch Its Southern Flank

At this week’s NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, NATO will decide the largest military deployment since the Cold War, El Pais reported.

The summit will feature the 30 allies meeting in a state of maximum military alert, calling the invasion of Ukraine to “lead allies to define Russia as a direct threat, while China will be considered a geostrategic challenge,” according to the report.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is certain to dominate an upcoming NATO summit in Madrid, Spain and other member nations are quietly pushing the Western alliance to consider how mercenaries aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin are spreading Moscow’s influence to Africa.

As the host of the summit taking place from Tuesday to Thursday, Spain wants to emphasize its proximity to Africa as it lobbies for a greater focus on Europe’s southern flank in a new document outlining NATO’s vision of its security challenges and tasks.

The Strategic Concept is NATO’s most important working document after the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, which contained the key provision holding that an attack on one member is viewed as an attack upon all. The security assessment is updated roughly every decade to reset the West’s security agenda.

The current version, approved in Lisbon in 2010, stated the risk of a conventional war on NATO territory was “low.” It did not explicitly mention concerns about instability in Africa. At the time, the alliance viewed apathy as its biggest military threat; U.S. complaints that some European members were not paying their due featured heavily in summit talks.

Fast forward a dozen years, and the view looks very different from NATO headquarters in Brussels. After Russia brought war close to NATO’s eastern borders, the alliance has worked to provide Ukraine with an assortment of more powerful weapons and to avoid the very real risk of getting drawn into the fighting.

But there appears to be a consensus among NATO members heading into the Madrid summit that while Russia remains concern No. 1, the alliance must continue to widen its view globally. Spain’s position for an increased focus on “the South” is shared by Britain, France and Italy.

In their view, the security challenges in Africa arise from a Putin apparently dead-set on restoring the imperial glories of Russia as well as from an expansive China. Russia has gained traction thanks to the presence of its mercenaries in the Sahel region, a semiarid expanse stretching from Senegal to Sudan that suffers from political strife, terrorism and drought.

“Each time I meet with NATO ministers, the support of the allies is total due to the instability that we see on the alliance’s southern frontier and especially the situation in the Sahel region right now,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Albares said.

The Kremlin denies links to the Wagner Group, a mercenary force with an increasing presence in central and North Africa and the Middle East. The private military company, which has also participated in the war in Ukraine, has developed footholds in Libya, Mali, Sudan and Central African Republic.

In Mali, Wagner soldiers are filling a void created by the exit of former colonial power France. In Sudan, Russia’s offer of an economic alliance earned it the promise of a naval base on the Red Sea. In Central African Republic, Wagner fighters protect the country’s gold and diamond mines. In return, Putin gets diplomatic allies and resources.

French President Emmanuel Macron has long called for a “greater involvement” from NATO in the Sahel region. Now that Wagner has moved into Mali, French authorities underlined that Wagner mercenaries were accused of human right abuses in the Central African Republic, Libya and Syria.

Former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said that Russia’s brutal military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his country’s long civil war left it emboldened.

“Syria gave (the Russians) the sentiment that they could be more active in that part of the world,” Solana told The Associated Press. “They have very good relations with Algeria and they have (…) the Wagner type of people in the Sahel, which is delicate.”

With the Sahel, Morocco and Algeria at risk of worsening instability, “the southern part of NATO, for Portugal, Spain, Greece, etc., they would like to have an eye open to that part of the world,” he said.

Italy is another NATO member attuned to the political climate across the Mediterranean Sea. The country hosts NATO’s Joint Force Command base in Naples, which in 2017 opened a south hub focusing on terrorism, radicalization, migration and other issues emanating from North Africa and the Middle East.

The Italian ambassador to NATO, Francesco Maria Talo, said in a May interview with Italian news agency ANSA that humanitarian crises in Africa must concern all NATO allies.

“Near us there’s Africa, with a billion inhabitants at risk of poverty, aggravated by food insecurity, terrorism and climate change, all factors that combine to create insecurity,” Talo said. “And Russia is present there, too.”

The importance of the other side of the Mediterranean became painfully evident to Spain over the past year due to a series of diplomatic crises involving Morocco and Algeria and their rivalry over the fate of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

Amid the disputes, reduced border security allowed migrants to enter Spanish territory, and there were perceived threats to energy supplies. Analysts consider both to be tactics of “hybrid warfare” when governments use them against other countries.

Speaking in Madrid last month, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace noted the problems caused last year when Belarus, a Putin ally, allegedly encouraged migrants to cross its borders into Poland and other neighboring countries.

“If the likes of Wagner get the control they have or they’d like to have in places like Libya or indeed what we see they’re already doing in Mali, do not think that Spain will be untouched by that,” Wallace said.

NATO is also expected to include in the new Strategic Document a reference to China’s growing military reach both in and beyond the Pacific theater.

U.S. Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, warned last month that China was trying to build a military naval base on Africa’s Atlantic coast. He said Beijing “has most traction” toward establishing the base in Equatorial Guinea, a tiny oil-rich dictatorship that was once Spain’s only sub-Saharan African colony.

China only operates one acknowledged foreign military base, located in Djibouti in East Africa, But many believe its People’s Liberation Army is busy establishing an overseas military network, even if it doesn’t use the term “base.”

NATO has invited the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to the summit to demonstrate its interest in the Asian-Pacific.

The foreign minister of Mauritania, a former French colony in West Africa, is also invited to attend a working dinner of fellow foreign ministers at the NATO summit. NATO said the country, which borders Western Sahara, Algeria, Mali and Senegal, was “closely associated with the preparatory work” for the new Strategic Concept.

Information from The Associated Press was used throughout this report.


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Vladimir Putin Warns ‘Satan-2’ Nuclear Missiles Could Be Deployed in Months

Russian President Vladimir Putin touted Moscow’s newest nuclear missile during a Wednesday address of Russia’s military academies, saying the ballistic arsenal could be ready for deployment by the end of the year.

The missile is recognized as “Satan-2” by NATO members. 

In Kremlin circles, however, the 14-story-tall missile is known as “RS-28 Sarmat,” and allegedly has nuclear capabilities that cannot be matched by other countries.

“The Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully tested,” Putin told the Moscow graduating class. “It is planned that by the end of this year, the first such complex will be put on combat duty.”

In April, Russia announced the inaugural test launch of Satan-2/RS-28; and approximately a month later, Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s state space agency, Roscosmos, said the country’s arsenal would soon include 50 of the new missiles.

“I suggest that aggressors speak to us more politely,” Rogozin reportedly quipped at the time.

And in May, the Kremlin threatened to deploy Satan-2 missiles to strike Finland, the U.K. and the United States, after Finnish President Sauli Niinisto signaled his country’s intention to join NATO.

“If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate — to question the existence of this state. This is logical,” said Aleksey Zhuravlyov, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense committee​.

Also, “if the United States threatens our state, it’s good: Here is the Sarmat (Satan-2 missile) for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist,” Zhuravlyov continued. 

“And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.”

The Satan-2, which was first introduced in 2018, can reportedly carry 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys, and has an estimated range between 6,200 and 11,800 miles.

Such theoretical capabilities would allow the Kremlin to hit targets anywhere in the world.

In his Wednesday speech, Putin said his administration was committed to modernizing and strengthening Russia’s armed forces amid “potential military threats and risks.”

Putin added, “Among the priority areas is equipping the troops with new weapon systems that will determine the combat effectiveness of the army and navy in the years and decades to come.”

According to The National Interest, America’s most devastating nuclear bomb — the B83 — has the following capabilities:

“The B83 is one of two so-called ‘dumb’ or unguided nuclear bombs that the United States maintains as a part of its post-Cold War Enduring Stockpile arsenal. Along with intercontinental ballistic missiles and other smaller nuclear-capable bombs, stocks of the B83 are kept in case of emergency. It replaced a number of older American free-falling weapons, and is big.

“At nearly 1 1/2 tons, the B83 is the largest nuclear bomb that the United States currently keeps. Its nuclear tiled is 1.2 megatons — significantly more powerful than either of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. It’s big, it’s powerful, and it’s had a colorful history.”


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US Hopeful for Positive Sweden, Finland NATO Bid Resolution

The United States is hopeful that there will soon be a positive resolution of the issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the NATO accession bids of the two Nordic countries, the State Department’s top diplomat for Europe said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) hearing, Karen Donfried, assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian affairs, said Washington understood that the talks between the parties earlier this week had been constructive.

“We are confident that this will be resolved in a positive way. There is broad and deep support across the NATO alliance for Finnish and Swedish accession,” she said.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the bids have faced opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for Kurdish militants and arms embargoes on Ankara.

NATO leaders will convene in Madrid on June 29-30. Any NATO membership requires approval of all 30 members of the alliance. Turkey has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance’s second-largest army.

Asked if Donfried believed whether all parties will be on the same page by the Madrid summit next week, she said: “I will say that we’re certainly pushing for that.”

Speaking to reporters in Brussels earlier this week following their talks with top representatives from Sweden, Finland and NATO, Turkey’s senior officials did not express the same sense of urgency as Donfried and said the NATO summit was not a deadline.

Any progress on the Nordic membership bids “now depends on the direction and speed at which these countries will take steps,” Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said. 


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No Signs of Russian Threat to Sweden, Finland: NATO Deputy Chief


COPENHAGEN, Denmark—NATO’s deputy chief sees no immediate military threat to Sweden and Finland from Russia and is confident that the aspiring NATO members will join the alliance despite Turkey’s objections, he told the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday.

Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but face opposition from Turkey, which accuses them of supporting and harboring Kurdish fighters and other groups it deems terrorists.

“We are confident that Sweden and Finland will join our ranks,” Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said. “Allies have concerns. And Turkey has some concerns that are legitimate when it comes to terrorists,” he added.

Sweden and Finland have said they condemn terrorism and are open to dialogue.

Asked about security guarantees provided to Sweden and Finland in the period up until they become full-fledged members of NATO, Geoana said he did not see any real risk to the countries from Russia.

“We don’t see signs from Russia of having the capabilities or intention at this point to be aggressive in military terms against these two aspirant countries,” he said.

“We can treat this period with caution in a proactive way, but we don’t see real risks from a traditional military standpoint for Finland and Sweden.”

Finland said on Thursday it plans to amend border legislation to allow the building of barriers on its eastern frontier with Russia in a move to strengthen preparedness against hybrid threats.

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Ukrainian Intel Official: Without Western Aid, Defeat Looms

A top Ukrainian intelligence official told The Guardian in a Friday interview that the county is heavily reliant on Western aid and at risk of losing its war against Russia.

Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence, said Russia currently outguns Ukraine in heavy weapon supplies as he pleaded with Western allies to provide more artillery ammunition.

“Everything now depends on what [the West] gives us,” Skibitsky said. “Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our Western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.”

According to Skibitsky, Ukraine is roaring through artillery rounds at an unsustainable rate of 5,000 to 6,000 rounds per day.

“We have almost used up all of our ammunition and are now using 155-calibre NATO standard shells,” Skibitsky said.

However, as Skibitsky noted, the Kremlin also appears to be running low on rockets. He pointed out that sanctions prevented Russia from producing rockets quickly, which has caused the country to use around 60% of its supplies.

On troop movements, Skibitsky claimed that most of Russia’s army was now primarily located in the eastern Donbas border region. Russian troops in Kharkiv are reportedly focused on defending from Ukrainian counteroffensives, with Kremlin troops in occupied southern Ukraine reportedly digging in significantly.

“It will now be harder to get that territory back,” Skibitsky said of Russian-fortified southern Ukraine. “And that’s why we need weapons.

“If they succeed in the Donbas, they could use these territories to launch another attack on Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, [and] Dnipro. Their aim is the whole of Ukraine and more.”

The news of Ukraine’s growing struggles against Russia comes a month after President Joe Biden signed a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, with an additional $700 million announced on June 1, Newsweek reported.


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