Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht sees little opportunity to send weapons from the Bundeswehr stocks to Ukraine. Gazprom cuts gas supplies to France. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.

5:13 p.m .: The military expert Ralph Thiele publicly expresses doubts about the major offensive announced by Ukraine. In an interview with the broadcaster “ntv”, he said that he “does not expect that anything will happen there on a large scale”. If there were really a major offensive, one would not talk about it, but would surprise the opponent. In fact, the war rhetoric is probably a ruse used by the Ukrainians to stabilize the situation in the embattled south.

According to Thiele, one of the goals is to protect the city of Odessa. “With the announcement of a major offensive, Russian forces will be tied down in Cherson,” said the expert. The Russians would move troops because of the announcement of an offensive. “So they have less power for Russians in Donbass,” which would help Ukraine.

3:17 p.m .: Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) sees hardly any opportunities to send weapons from Bundeswehr stocks to Ukraine to defend against Russia. “I have to admit, as Minister of Defense, (…) we are reaching the limits of what we can hand over from the Bundeswehr,” said the SPD politician on Tuesday at the cabinet meeting in Meseberg near Berlin. The Bundeswehr must be able to guarantee national and alliance defense. As Minister of Defense, she will ensure that this continues to be the case, she stressed.

Among other things, the Bundeswehr has handed over several self-propelled howitzers (heavy artillery pieces) and multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine. A few days ago, the chairwoman of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), called for Ukraine to continue being supplied with weapons from Bundeswehr stocks. She specifically named Marder armored personnel carriers, for which the Bundeswehr could later get a replacement from industry.

Lambrecht was “very optimistic” that there could be a ring exchange with Greece in support of Ukraine in the near future. She offered Poland further talks about it. The idea of ​​ring exchange came up shortly after the beginning of the Ukraine war. The aim is to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons as quickly as possible. Since the Ukrainian Armed Forces do not require additional training for Soviet systems, such weapons were swiftly delivered to Ukraine from Eastern European countries. For this, they should now be supplied with western brands.

The Federal Government has already reached corresponding agreements with the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Poland, which has already delivered around 200 tanks to Ukraine, was dissatisfied with the German offers and complained loudly about them. An agreement has also not yet been reached with Greece and Slovenia.

10.35 a.m .: The Russian Gazprom group has further reduced its gas deliveries to France. The energy group Engie announced on Tuesday that Gazprom had informed the company that deliveries would be cut with immediate effect. The reason is a “disagreement about the application of contracts”.

Gazprom had already sharply reduced its supplies to Engie since the start of the Ukraine war. According to Engie, it received 1.5 terawatt hours of gas per month until the new cut. At the end of July, that was around four percent of the amount that Engie purchases each month. The group announced on Tuesday that it had taken measures to compensate for cuts in deliveries from Russia. The supply of customers with gas is guaranteed.

Gazprom is currently delivering around 20 percent of the possible volume to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. On Wednesday, the Russian group wants to completely stop delivery due to maintenance work. According to Gazprom, they should last three days.

10:29 a.m .: Before the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague, Austria reiterated its opposition to entry bans for Russian tourists. “We must not throw the baby out with the bath water, a blanket ban on visas for Russian nationals would completely cut off the last contacts with Russian civil society,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told the “Welt” on Tuesday. “It would be absurd to block the way to the West for critical voices in Russia right now.”

The Kremlin’s news embargo is obscuring the Russian population’s view of the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, the minister said. “A visa freeze would also be counterproductive in the fight against the Russian propaganda machine. If we block the Russian population’s door to Europe across the board, that would only fuel the camp mentality propagated by the Kremlin.”

The foreign and defense ministers of the European Union will be meeting in Prague on Tuesday to discuss further support for Ukraine. On the table is a proposal by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for a joint military training mission for Ukraine.

The European foreign ministers are also dealing with the demand from Ukraine and eastern EU countries for a general visa freeze for Russian tourists. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) warned again on Monday in Prague against making all Russians liable for the war.

Tuesday, August 30, 10 a.m.: The Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” from Rome writes on Sunday about the EU’s behavior towards Russia in the energy crisis:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing the gas card as an extreme attempt to assert himself in military aggression against Ukraine. After six months of war, Kyiv continues to resist thanks to EU and NATO aid. The only way for Moscow to survive in the armed conflict is to reduce the compactness of the European-Atlantic front. After failed attempts to divide the allies over arms sales to Kyiv and sanctions against Russia, Putin’s strategy has focused on gas. (…)

But if the gas offensive is bringing visible results to the Kremlin chief, it is because the European Union is not yet able to speak with one voice on this front. (…) In short, it is the gap between the EU partners that prevents Brussels from responding effectively to the Russian gas offensive, leaving individual countries practically alone vis-à-vis Moscow.”

5:42 p.m.: For six months, Russia has been trying to conquer Ukraine by attack – and has so far failed with its invasion. In a secret report, NATO now comes to the conclusion that Russia will hardly be able to achieve any military successes in Ukraine. In the report, dated Aug. 22, quoted by Business Insider, analysts at the NATO Intelligence Center write: “Russia will likely remain able to make minor territorial gains but is unable to capitalize on tactical gains.”

A “bitter artillery battle” is still taking place along the front in eastern Ukraine, the NATO report goes on to say: “Neither of the two warring parties has achieved significant territorial gains, even if Russia may in the next two weeks small areas in the Donbass by artillery fire, air attacks and the deployment of infantry companies.”

In general, however, according to NATO intelligence officials, Russia lacks sufficient forces “to achieve a successful breakthrough on any axis.” In southern Ukraine in particular, the Russian armed forces are unable to carry out “significant offensive operations”. As the war progresses, Russia will probably concentrate on securing its own communication routes, ammunition depots and air force bases. The Ukrainians recently launched targeted attacks on the latter in Crimea.

However, NATO attaches little importance to these attacks by Ukraine: while these attacks are tactically and symbolically noteworthy, Ukraine would have to follow them up with an offensive in order to have any significant operational impact.”

3:57 p.m .: More than six months after the start of the Russian war of aggression, NATO membership via a previous accession plan is no longer an option for Ukraine. “Only membership” even directly is still an option, Olha Stefanischyna, Deputy Prime Minister responsible for NATO integration, told Ukrajinska Pravda on Monday. In fact, Ukraine has adopted many of the practices of the western military alliance. In addition, the soldiers would have a unique combat experience that the militaries of NATO members would not have.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. One of Moscow’s demands was a neutral status for Ukraine and thus the renunciation of the goal of NATO membership enshrined in the 2019 constitution. To become a member of the military alliance, potential members must complete the accession plan to bring countries up to NATO standards.

3:50 p.m .: Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has spoken out in favor of a complete suspension of visas from EU countries to Russian citizens. “We are convinced that a clear signal must be sent to Russian society,” he said after a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Prague on Monday. The EU foreign ministers are having an informal meeting in Prague this Tuesday and Wednesday. The Czech Republic currently holds the rotating EU Council Presidency.

Scholz did not support the push. The position of the Federal Government on this issue is well known. When asked about the willingness to compromise recently indicated by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), he emphasized: “This is a common position of the Federal Chancellor, the Foreign Minister, the entire coalition on the question of how we want to deal with it.” war instigated by the Russian President”. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, wants to at least convince the other EU partners of the need to stop tourist visas.

“We perceive Germany’s concerns,” said Fiala. On behalf of his country, he wanted to stress that none of these proposals would mean an end to the issuing of visas to representatives of the Russian opposition. The Czech Republic stopped issuing new visas to Russians just one day after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with a few exceptions.

Monday, August 29, 3:25 p.m.: The Czech Republic will receive 14 German Leopard 2 main battle tanks and a Buffalo recovery tank as compensation for Soviet-design T72 tanks delivered to Ukraine. This was announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday in Prague after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala. It is the second tank ring swap in support of Ukraine’s armed forces, following a similar agreement the German Defense Ministry struck with Slovakia last week.

The idea of ​​ring exchange came up shortly after the beginning of the Ukraine war. The aim was to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons as quickly as possible. Since the Ukrainian armed forces do not need additional training for Soviet systems, the most expedient way seemed to be to first supply such weapons. In return, the countries that have them should receive Western makes from other NATO partners at a later date.

However, the federal government’s negotiations with Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Greece proved problematic. Above all, Poland, which has already delivered around 200 tanks to Ukraine, was dissatisfied with the German offers and complained loudly about them. An agreement has also not yet been reached with Greece and Slovenia.

In total, the Czech Republic has handed over weapons and ammunition worth the equivalent of more than 150 million euros to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began more than six months ago. This was recently announced by Defense Minister Jana Cernochova. According to media reports, these included combat helicopters, multiple rocket launchers and wheeled howitzers.

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