War in the neighborhood: IPN updates

Germany to modernize army in the face of Russian threat

Germany has agreed to change its constitution to allow for a credit-based special defense fund of 100 billion euros ($107.35 billion) proposed after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports. The agreement will allow Berlin to achieve NATO's target of spending 2.0 percent of GDP on defense “on average over several years”.

Counterattack in Kherson region will thwart Russia’s plans

Heavy fighting is underway for Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, the head of the Lugansk Regional Military District emphasized. “Difficult battles for Severodonetsk and Lisichansk. The enemy has used all possible weapons, uses aircraft. However, our military is holding strong defenses in order to prevent the enemy deep into the country,” Sergei Gaidai stressed.

The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said new reports confirmed that Ukrainian forces conducted a successful limited counterattack near the Kherson-Mykolaiv oblast border, forcing Russian forces onto the defensive. This Ukrainian counterattack is likely intended to disrupt Russian efforts to establish strong defensive positions along the Southern Axis.

Russian troops are unlikely to be able to conduct multiple simultaneous operations and will likely further deprioritize advances southeast of Izyum and west of Lyman in favor of concentrating available forces on Severodonetsk in the coming days.

Poles and Ukrainians want to be brothers without elder brother

President of Poland Andrzej Duda confirmed his country's readiness to act as one of the security guarantors for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was already interested in Poland's potential agreement, Duda said in an interview with CNN.

“We believe that, as neighbors, we simply have to. Therefore, if Ukraine offers us to be the guarantor of security and the guarantor of peace when the war is over, and if such terms of the peace treaty are accepted, yes, Poland will participate in this,” he said.

Paris no longer loved by Moscow

“It is sad for Russia to see France’s support for neo-Nazism in Ukraine,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with France’s TF1 television channel. “Regrettably, in what concerns instigating Ukrainian nationalism, neo-Nazism, France is playing one of the key roles. It is sad for us to see it,” he said.

The Russian top diplomat noted that Paris was supplying weapons, including offensive, to Ukraine and is demanding the war be continued “till the final victory” and “Russia be defeated.” “It means that our years-long calls on the West to reach agreements on an equal basis have not been merely missed but have been deliberately ignored. It means that the West has never wanted equal relations and cooperation with Russia,” he added.

Europol alarmed over fate of western arms in Ukraine

Europol Director Catherine De Bolle has warned that weapons currently being delivered to Ukraine could eventually end up in the hands of criminals operating on the continent.

In an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag published on Saturday, De Bolle said that one of the things her organization was concerned about was the “where are the weapons that are currently being delivered to Ukraine?“ She explained that when the conflict ends, Europol wants to prevent a situation similar to that of 30 years ago during the Balkan war.

“The weapons of this war are still used today by criminal groups,” she said. De Bolle noted that one of Europol’s top priorities now was to find a way to deal with the situation after a possible end to the war. According to her, Europol will convene an international working group to look into this issue.

Bread is best in your homeland

60% of the Ukrainians who left at the start of the war have returned to Ukraine. According to an adviser to the Interior Minister Viktor Andrusiv, 4.8 million people have returned to Ukraine since the beginning of the war.  In the first month of Russian aggression, about 7.6 million Ukrainians left the country. However, since the situation started stabilizing, 60% of those people have already returned home. Andrusiv noted that the reasons for the return are unsatisfactory free housing conditions, high rent prices, and the language barrier for employment.Conflict statistics show that 80% of citizens will return after the war is over, but 50% of them will come back home before the war ends,” Victor Andrusiv said.

NATO close to adopting new strategy

The new strategy of the North Atlantic Alliance will include China, which was not previously included in the document, said Italian representative to NATO Francesco Maria Talo.

“A strategic concept will be adopted in Madrid that will bring NATO into the 21st century, taking into account all current challenges, such as cyber threats, hybrid threats, new technologies and the consequences of climate change. We will change the attitude towards Russia, which was considered a partner in the last document, and we will also introduce China, which has not yet figured in the strategy,” he explained.

In addition, at the summit, which will be held on June 28-30 in Madrid, the issues of joining the alliance of Sweden and Finland will also be discussed. According to him, Italy will be given a special role on the southeastern borders of NATO.

NATO is no longer bound by past commitments to hold back from deploying its forces in Eastern Europe, the US-led alliance’s deputy secretary general said Sunday.

Moscow itself has “voided of any content” the NATO-Russia Founding Act, by attacking Ukraine and halting dialogue with the alliance, Mircea Geoana told AFP.

“They took decisions, they made obligations there not to aggress neighbors, which they are doing, and to have regular consultations with NATO, which they don’t,” said Geoana, speaking in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

“So I think that in fact this founding act is basically not functioning because of Russia,” he added.

Russia, he said, had effectively moved away from the terms of the 1997 agreement.
“Now we have no restrictions to have robust posture in the eastern flank and to ensure that every square inch of NATO’s territory is protected by Article 5 and our allies.”

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