Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

1. Germany offers Poland the Patriot anti-missile defense system

Germany offered Warsaw a Patriot missile defense system to secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed in Poland last week, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told a newspaper on Sunday.

The German government has already said it will offer its neighbor further air surveillance assistance with German Eurofighters after the incident, which initially sparked fears that the war in Ukraine could spill over the border.

“We have offered Poland support in securing the airspace – with our Eurofighters and Patriot air defense systems,” Lambrecht told the Rheinische Post and General Anzeiger.

The missile that hit Poland last week, killing two people, appears to have been fired by Ukrainian air defenses and not a Russian strike, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

Ground-based air defense systems such as Raytheon’s Patriot are built to intercept incoming missiles.

NATO has moved to strengthen its air defenses in Eastern Europe after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. More than a dozen NATO allies led by Germany launched an initiative in October to jointly procure air defense systems for several threat levels, including the Patriot.

Germany had 36 Patriot units when it was NATO’s first premier nation during the Cold War. German forces currently have 12 Patriot units, two of which are deployed in Slovakia.

2. Ukraine should investigate allegations that its troops were killed by surrendering Russian forces

Ukraine says it will investigate videos circulated on Russian social media that Moscow claims show Ukrainian forces killing Russian soldiers who may have been trying to surrender, after one of the men apparently refused to lay down his weapon and opened fire.

“Of course the Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister who oversees the country’s bid to join the European Union, said on the sidelines of a security forum in Halifax, Canada.

Stefanishyna said it is “highly unlikely” that the short, edited clips show what Moscow claims.

Russian authorities announced on Friday the launch of a criminal investigation based on clips published on Russian Telegram channels and shared on other social networks. They give a blurry and incomplete picture.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed the video showed an “execution” and said Russia wanted an international investigation.

Stefanishyna, however, said Ukrainian forces were “absolutely not interested in executing anyone” and had direct orders to take “as many prisoners of war as they can” to be exchanged in a prisoner exchange with Russia.

“Every potential executed Russian soldier is some Ukrainian who cannot be exchanged, so there is no spirit and no logic,” she said.

The UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine called for further investigation.

3. Another shelling threatens the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Powerful explosions rocked Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, on Sunday morning, the global nuclear watchdog said in a statement, calling for “urgent measures to prevent a nuclear accident” at the Russian-occupied facility.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said two explosions — one on Saturday night and the other on Sunday morning — near the Zaporizhzhia power plant abruptly ended a period of relative calm around the nuclear facility, which has been the site of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces since the start of the war on February 24.

The fear of a nuclear disaster has been at the fore since Russian troops occupied the power plant during the first days of the invasion of Ukraine. Continued fighting in the area increased the prospect of disaster.

In what appeared to be renewed shelling near and on site, IAEA experts at the Zaporizhzhia facility reported hearing more than a dozen explosions within a short period of time on Sunday morning, the statement said, adding that an IAEA team could see some explosions from the office window.

Several buildings, systems and equipment at the plant – none of them critical to the plant’s nuclear safety and security – were damaged in the shelling, the IAEA said in a statement, citing information provided by the plant’s management. There are no reports of casualties.

Read more in our story here.

4. Russia is looking for a world ‘where power makes good’, says the US Secretary of Defense

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned this weekend that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offers a glimpse of a world in which nuclear-armed countries could threaten other nations and said Beijing, like Moscow, is seeking a world where might makes right.

Austin made the remarks at the annual Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, which attracts defense and security officials from Western democracies.

“The Russian invasion offers a preview of a possible world of tyranny and unrest that none of us would want to live in. And it is a call to an increasingly insecure world haunted by the shadow of nuclear proliferation,” Austin said in the speech.

“Because (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s fellow autocrats are watching. And they could conclude that getting nuclear weapons would give them their own license to hunt. And that could start a dangerous spiral of nuclear proliferation.”

Austin dismissed Putin’s claims that “modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia,” calling it “a world where autocrats decide which countries are real and which countries can be suppressed.”

He added that the war “shows the whole world the dangers of disorder. That is the security challenge we face. It’s urgent and it’s historic.”

5. The Eurovision winner joined the rally in Ukraine in Athens

Hundreds of Ukrainians and supporters marched through central Athens on Saturday night, protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war.

Ukrainian singer Ruslana, who won the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, joined the protesters.

The protesters ended up in Athens’ central Syntagma Square, where they sang Ukrainian folk songs, led by Ruslan.

They were joined by a small group of Iranian protestors marching for women’s rights in Iran.