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UKRAINE

Germany, Denmark and Norway to give Ukraine howitzers

Germany, Denmark and Norway will supply Ukraine with 16 armoured howitzer artillery systems from next year, Berlin said Sunday, as Kyiv seeks heavier weapons to boost its fightback against Russia.

Ukrainian soldiers ride on a self-propelled howitzer
Ukrainian soldiers ride on a self-propelled howitzer near Borivske, Kharkiv region, on September 29, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Germany, Denmark and Norway have agreed to supply howitzers to Ukraine. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

The announcement came after German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht visited Ukraine this weekend for the first time since Moscow’s invasion in February.

Germany, Denmark and Norway had agreed to jointly finance the procurement of the Slovakian Zuzana-2 guns at a cost of 92 million euros ($90.2 million), said the defence ministry in Berlin.

They will be produced in Slovakia, with delivery to Ukraine to begin in 2023, it said.

The new pledge still falls short of what Ukraine has been asking for. Kyiv has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he does not want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Speaking on public broadcaster ARD, Lambrecht again defended Berlin’s weapons deliveries to Ukraine, insisting Germany was doing a lot to support Kyiv.

“We will continue to engage in a variety of ways and will again — as we have up until now — work together with partners,” she told the “Bericht aus Berlin” show.

She also insisted that Germany would not become a direct party to the conflict.

“It is very clear — for the German government as well as the whole of NATO: We will not become a party to the war,” Lambrecht said.

Her visit Saturday to the southern port city of Odessa came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

The annexations were unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies, including Germany.

Lambrecht described how air raid sirens went off during her visit.

“We experienced that twice in a few hours, and had to move to a bunker. And for people there, that is reality,” she told the ARD show. “That is everyday life.”

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NORD STREAM

French PM gives no credence to Russian Nord Stream claim UK involved

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Saturday she gave no credence to Russian military accusations that Britain was involved in the explosions that damaged Russia's Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September.

French PM gives no credence to Russian Nord Stream claim UK involved

“There is an investigation underway and I give no credence to what was said this morning,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a trip to Lisbon, alongside her Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa.

On Saturday, Russia’s defence ministry accused British naval staff of having blown up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month. 

READ ALSO: Sweden and Denmark say Nord Stream blasts equal to ‘several hundred kilos of TNT’

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom is the majority shareholder in Nord Stream AG, the company that owns and operates the pipelines.

The British defence ministry denied the claims and said the accusation was designed to take attention away from Russia’s “disastrous handling of the illegal invasion” of Ukraine.

“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year – blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” Russia’s defence ministry said.

Four leaks emerged on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September with seismic institutes reporting they had recorded two underwater explosions prior to the leaks appearing.

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two of them in Sweden’s.

In early October, the Swedish prosecution authority announced that they had collected “pieces of evidence” during an underwater inspection of the leaks in the Swedish economic zone, which had backed up suspicions of sabotage.

And on Friday, Swedish prosecutors said they would conduct a new complementary crime scene investigation of the Nord Stream leaks, after the navy and the pipeline owner also began surveys this week.

READ ALSO: Germany opens probe of likely ‘blasts’ against Nord Stream

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