The West must prepare for a long-term conflict in Ukraine, since the prospects for its settlement are not yet visible. This opinion was expressed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview published on Wednesday with the British newspaper The Guardian. According to him, the conflict in Ukraine can be called a “war of attrition”. Stoltenberg suggested that the Russian leadership “is not planning for peace.” The Secretary General noted that Western countries need to increase production capacity for the supply of new ammunition and weapons to Ukraine. “The current ammunition consumption rate is higher than the current production rate,” he added. In the context of developments on the battlefield, Stoltenberg said that the aid supplied by NATO is aimed at conducting a counteroffensive by Ukraine. At the same time, he once again said that the alliance is not a party to the conflict, and military decisions are made by the Ukrainian command. Speaking about the possible supply of American F-16 fighters to Ukraine, the Secretary General said that “no decision has been made.”
The creation of a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is no longer being considered, we are talking about the cessation of hostilities around the nuclear power plant. This was announced on Wednesday by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi at a seminar at the American non-governmental Council on Foreign Relations. The head of the IAEA was asked if his idea of creating a demilitarized zone around the ZNPP received sufficient international support. “We are not talking about the demilitarized zone. We are well aware of what additional difficulties this will bring, especially in the zone of active hostilities. It will be extremely difficult to carry out the verification process – more than one mile from the demilitarized zone, the territory will be extremely militarized. That’s why we [больше] We don’t consider it,” he replied. Grossi added that now it is about the need to “make sure that the station is not attacked or that the station is not used for attack.”
The Czech Republic helped Ukraine as much as possible with the supply of weapons, but it no longer has new opportunities for this, the republic has the capacity to produce ammunition, but there is a shortage of labor, the Czech President said in an interview with the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which was published on Thursday Peter Pavel. “The Czech Republic helped Ukraine with the supply of weapons as best it could, but it no longer has the capacity for this,” Pavel said. At the same time, Pavel sees some opportunities in the field of air defense and in the production of ammunition. However, there may be problems with their production due to a lack of labor force at the current very low unemployment rate in the republic. “It’s hard to find workforce here. But there are opportunities, for example, to invite workers from Ukraine,” Pavel believes.
The Swedish parliament on Wednesday supported the country’s membership in NATO. The meeting was broadcast on the legislature’s website. 269 deputies voted for joining the alliance, 37 voted against. Members of the Left Party and the Environmental Protection Party opposed the country’s joining the military bloc. The Parliament’s decision will entail a number of changes in the law. For example, in the event of war or a threat of war, the government will be able to request military support from NATO on its own, without the decision of the Riksdag (parliament). The Cabinet will also be empowered to seek the bloc’s assistance to prevent violations of Swedish territory in both war and peace. In these cases, the government will “transfer certain administrative tasks to NATO”. Finland and Sweden applied for membership in the North Atlantic Alliance in May 2022, but Turkey blocked the accession process, demanding that they declare Kurdish organizations terrorist, as well as extradite persons accused of terrorism or participation in a coup attempt in 2016. To date, 28 out of 30 countries in the bloc (except Hungary and Turkey) have ratified their applications.
Israel told the United States and a number of European countries about a military strike on Iran if Tehran continues to enrich uranium above the 60% level. This was announced on Wednesday, March 22, by Axios, referring to a high-ranking Israeli official. According to the resource, Israel does not want the 90% enrichment level of the substance in the framework of Tehran’s nuclear program to be the reason for the outbreak of hostilities. To date, the Iranian side, according to the IAEA, has accumulated 87.5 kg of 60% enriched uranium. On February 28, it became known that the reserves of uranium enriched to 60% increased in Iran by 40% compared to November 2022. According to available data, stocks of 60% uranium increased from 62.3 kg to 87.5 kg in three months. At the same time, the reserves of uranium enriched to 20% increased from 386 kg to 435 kg. On February 19, it was reported that IAEA inspectors found 84% enriched uranium in Iran. It is only 6% lower than necessary for the creation of nuclear weapons.
The Russian ship Swem with a cargo of fertilizers was detained in the Finnish port of Kotka on suspicion of violating the regime of EU anti-Russian sanctions. This was reported on Wednesday by the Finnish TV channel Yle. “In cooperation with the authorities, we have discovered that the shipment includes fertilizer, which is likely to belong to an individual on the EU sanctions list. According to EU rules, assets must be frozen in case of discovery, ”said the head of the department responsible for compliance with the sanctions regime at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland Pia Sarivaara. At the moment, the ship is outside the port and is awaiting permission from the Finnish authorities to continue moving. According to the head of the department, the ship will be allowed to leave Finnish waters if it was heading to a third country and its cargo is needed for food production. As the director of the port Kimmo Nasky, the incident was the first time a cargo ship had been detained in Finnish ports on suspicion of violating EU sanctions. According to unofficial data, up to 20,000 tons of fertilizers may be on board. The value of cargo on the world market can range from €10 million to €12 million.
The Czech government approved on Wednesday the proposal of the national Ministry of Foreign Affairs to extend until March 31, 2024 the ban on the issuance of visas and long-term residence permits in the republic to citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus, which was introduced shortly after February 24, 2022. This was reported by the news agency ČTK. At the same time, the ban was extended to Russians and Belarusians holding passports of other countries. The authorities will provide visas and permits for long-term residence in the republic to citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus only in exceptional cases, for example, for humanitarian reasons. The Czech Republic also last year, reacting to the actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, banned citizens of Russia and Belarus from airport transit without special visas. The republic also introduced a ban on the direct entry of Russian tourists from countries that are not part of the Schengen area.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken suggested that Azerbaijan and Armenia could soon come to a peace agreement. He stated this on Wednesday, March 22, at a hearing in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. “I think there is an opportunity. I do not want to exaggerate, but there is an opportunity that will help complete the preparation of the peace agreement,” he said. Blinken spoke about the importance of peace talks as a key tool in the conflict between the two countries in February following a trilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol PashinyanPresident of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. He noted the progress towards a peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan and pointed to the need for free movement along the Lachin corridor.
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