According to research, Russia sent agents to Ukraine long before the war to prepare for the invasion. Economics Minister Robert Habeck accuses Russia of lying about gas deliveries through Nord Stream. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.
Friday, February 29, 8:33 a.m.: Research by the Reuters news agency shows that Russia sent agents to Ukraine long before the invasion to prepare for the takeover of the country. Apparently, the Kremlin believed that these would help Russia conquer Ukraine in a matter of days.
While the quick takeover didn’t succeed, the agents helped, for example, with the quick occupation of Chernobyl. According to the Reuters report, a particularly large number of Russian FSB agents are said to have worked there. “”In return for payment, Ukrainian officials gave Russian spies information about Ukraine’s military readiness.”
The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, also warns: “In addition to the external enemy, unfortunately we also have an internal enemy, and it is no less dangerous.”
8:50 p.m .: Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck accused Russia of lying in the dispute over a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. The Green politician spoke of a “farce” at a citizens’ dialogue in Bayreuth on Thursday evening. The turbine serviced in Canada has been in Germany since last Monday. All the papers were there, he had them in his own hands. But Russia refuses to bring the turbine into its own country. “They lie to your face.”
According to the Kremlin, Russia is hoping for a speedy return of the repaired gas turbine in view of the throttled gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline to Germany. The turbine will then be installed in the Portovaya gas compressor station, after which work can begin to restart it, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. Russia therefore throttled deliveries to 20 percent of maximum capacity.
There were further incidents at the event in the evening: there were said to have been loud whistles and boos against the Minister of Economics. Many citizens shouted at Habeck: “Get lost”. The Green politician was described as a “warmonger” on posters. Overall, the protesters were in the minority at the citizens’ dialogue, which was estimated to be several hundred participants.
8:34 p.m .: According to an agreement between Kyiv and Moscow, the first ships with grain on board should soon leave Ukraine, according to UN information. UN emergency aid coordinator Martin Griffiths said on Thursday in New York that some already loaded freighters are ready to depart from the Black Sea ports. “And we had been waiting for that to happen, even today or tomorrow.”
So far, the exact corridor for safe transport through partially mined areas has not yet been finally determined by the joint control center of the warring parties, the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul. However, Griffiths emphasized that he believes this will happen quickly. After that, exports from the ports should eventually reach the pre-war level of about five million tons per month.
On Friday, wartime opponents Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement with the UN and Turkey to allow grain exports from Ukraine from three ports. According to Ukrainian sources, more than 20 million tons of grain from last year’s harvest are still waiting to be exported. After the Russian invasion at the end of February, port operations were suspended for security reasons – Moscow was accused of blocking the grain. The UN increasingly fears hunger crises in the world due to the lack of grain deliveries.
6:28 p.m .: The Bundeswehr supplies Ukraine with equipment to deal with the consequences of nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. The package includes HEP70 decontamination systems, the Federal Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday. This included six vehicles, each with complete decontamination equipment with two tanks including a “significant initial supply of decontamination agent”.
“This gives the Ukrainian armed forces the immediate ability to remove warfare agents,” said Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). According to the ministry, the ABC defense package is worth over 860,000 euros. The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the device has already been completed. The operational readiness of the Bundeswehr in this area will not be restricted by the delivery of the material in the “foreseeable” way.
6:06 p.m .: According to former Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev, Sweden and Finland joining NATO will result in a military counter-reaction from Russia. If NATO bases are set up on the territory of the countries and weapons are stationed, then “our reaction steps will be symmetrical,” said the deputy chief of the Russian Security Council after a meeting on the security situation on the border with Finland, according to the Interfax agency.
After the Russian attack on Ukraine, Sweden and Finland gave concerns about their own security as the reason for wanting to join NATO. Before that they were neutral. At its summit in Madrid at the end of June, NATO approved the membership applications. Since then, ratification by the individual member states has been ongoing.
From Medvedev’s point of view, the decision for the two countries to join NATO worsens the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, “because the Baltic Sea is now actually becoming a sea that is dominated by NATO states.” He accused the two states of “beyond of the ocean and to be influenced by Brussels.” Relations with the countries would now have to be reviewed by the Russian side.
Russia shares a more than 1300 km long border with Finland in the north. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin had already announced at the end of June that the country’s accession to NATO would entail military countermeasures by his country.
3.43 p.m .: President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has promised Ukraine permanent support on the way to the European Union for the statehood holiday. “On this important day for independent and sovereign Ukraine, I want to assure you that Ukraine belongs to us,” Metsola said in a video address to parliament in the capital Kyiv on Thursday. The country is one of those nations that “uphold the values of freedom, independence, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights”.
In her speech, the Maltese recalled that the European Union granted Ukraine candidate status in June. The path to the EU will probably not be easy, but the European Parliament will support the country.
On this day, not only is the basis of Ukrainian statehood celebrated, but also the courage and determination of all Ukrainians who fought in the war against Russia to preserve statehood and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants a future where history can be rewritten, where there are spheres of influence and where iron curtains are drawn. A future where might is right and where personal freedom and dignity are denied. “For him, the real enemy is democracy, freedom and truth,” Metsola said.
06:45: The British military expert Ed Arnold explained in an interview why Russia’s offensive in Ukraine is currently making little progress. “The Russian armed forces are running out of breath,” the expert from the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) told the “Spiegel”.
One of the reasons: Ukraine’s new forward defense, which claimed many victims on the Russian side, especially in Sievjerodonetsk. Currently, Putin’s troops could still be moving, “but in the east it’s at best one kilometer a day.”
Because the Ukrainians have started shelling the ammunition stocks of the Russian artillery, it can fire less. This further slows down Russia’s offensive. Arnold believes that Putin’s troops could not go on like this “for much longer”.
Ukraine is preparing for a counter-offensive in autumn with the shelling, which hit ammunition depots, command and control centers and Russian formations. However, this also increases the expectations of Volodymyr Zelenskyj. “This is politically important, because Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has to prove that he is capable of using the systems supplied by the West and actually regaining ground,” says Arnold.
Ukraine must act differently than Russia, which does not mind “hitting population centers with a hammer and then moving on”. Therefore, Ukraine began targeting infrastructure and bridges around Kherson to deprive Russia of easy retreat options. “Then they can try to catch and destroy the Russian units west of the Dnieper.”
It will also be difficult, “because the Russians switched to defensive operations some time ago. They have realized that they cannot break out of Cherson and advance as far as Transnistria.” Nevertheless, Arnold considers a reconquest of Cherson by September to be “plausible”.
Thursday, July 28, 2:15 a.m .: Given fears of energy shortages in Europe, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi has announced increased electricity supplies to the EU. “We are preparing to increase our electricity exports to consumers in the European Union,” Zelenskyy said in his daily televised address on Wednesday.
“Our exports not only allow us to increase our foreign exchange earnings, but also help our partners to withstand the Russian energy pressure.” Ukraine should gradually become “a guarantor of European energy security”, said the President. Fears of energy bottlenecks in the coming months due to reduced Russian gas supplies are growing in Germany and other EU countries.
Ukraine was connected to the European power grid in mid-March. Before the Russian war of aggression against the country began on February 24, the Ukrainian network was synchronized with the Russian network. At the beginning of July, Ukraine then began exporting electricity to the EU via Romania. In Ukraine, more than half of the electricity comes from nuclear power.
10:55 p.m .: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants to speak to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine war. The goal is the release of US citizens Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner imprisoned in Russia, Blinken said in Washington on Wednesday. Former US soldier Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage, and the basketball player who is currently on trial for possession of cannabis oil are being wrongfully detained.
“We made a comprehensive proposal weeks ago to secure their release,” Blinken said. Blinken did not confirm reports that the two would be exchanged for US-imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Regarding the planned talks with Lavrov, the US Secretary of State emphasized: “There will be no negotiations about Ukraine.” The two foreign ministers last spoke to each other in mid-February, a few days before the start of the war. At the recent G20 meeting in Indonesia, Blinken avoided meeting Lavrov.
9:01 p.m .: The journalist Marina Ovsjannikova, who became known through her live protest action on Russian television against the military operation in Ukraine, has to answer in court from Thursday (12:00 p.m. CEST). The 44-year-old is accused of “discrediting” the Russian army. At the trial in Moscow, she faces a long prison sentence.
Ovzyannikova became internationally known when she appeared behind the news anchor during a live broadcast on March 14 and held up a sign that read “No War” to the camera. The journalist then spent several months abroad and worked briefly for the German newspaper “Die Welt”, among other things. The 44-year-old is now back in Russia. She recently demonstrated again near the Kremlin against the military operation in Ukraine.
8:44 p.m.: France could provide Germany with 20 terawatt-hours of gas over the winter months, officials at France’s Energy Ministry told Reuters on Wednesday. This corresponds to around two percent of Germany’s annual consumption.
“130 gigawatt hours per day would be possible. In winter, that would add up to a total of 20 terawatt hours,” said a representative. That would be about five percent of France’s annual consumption.
However, delivering French gas to Germany would still pose some technical challenges and could take some time due to different regulations in the two countries, officials said. The main problem is that France adds odors to its gas for safety reasons, while Germany does not. Setting up a deodorizer to remove odors from the gas streams could take up to 18 months.
France is not so dependent on gas in winter because electric heaters are predominantly in use. For this, the country could in turn need electricity imports from Germany.
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