Greece says support to Ukraine will continue

Nikos Dendias Greece

Greece's Minister of National Defence, Nikos Dendias, participated on Wednesday in the ministerial meeting for the Defence in Ukraine (Ukraine Defense Contact Group), in Brussels, at the invitation of the US Minister of Defense Lloyd Austin.

He mentioned in his post that "Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended and spoke" at the meeting and that Greek "support to Ukraine will continue."

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG, also known as the Ramstein group) is an alliance of 54 countries (all 31 member states of NATO and 23 other countries) supporting the defence of Ukraine by sending military equipment in response to the 2022 Russian invasion.

The group coordinates the ongoing donation of military aid at monthly meetings. A first meeting took place between 41 countries on 26 April 2022, and the coalition comprised 54 countries (as of the 14 February 2023 meeting).

Vladimir Putin’s foreign intelligence chief has said the issue of support for Ukraine was becoming toxic in the US and that the divisions would deepen ahead of next year’s presidential election, Reuters reports.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the US and EU have made more than $160bn (£130bn) in commitments to Ukraine, including tens of billions of dollars in weapons.

However, Joe Biden last week expressed fears that US aid to Ukraine could be hurt by congressional chaos.

A small group of hard-right House Republicans last week managed to force out speaker and California Republican Kevin McCarthy, against the wishes of moderate colleagues, in an unprecedented move to punish him for allying with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown.

“The Ukrainian topic is becoming more and more toxic on the eve of the upcoming presidential election,” Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, said during a visit to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.

“It is becoming a bone of contention,” he said.

The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, has said the US will provide a new $200m military assistance package for Ukraine, AFP reports.

“I’m proud that the United States will announce its latest security assistance package for Ukraine, valued at $200m,” Austin said alongside Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the opening of a meeting of Kyiv’s international supporters in Brussels.

The package included air defence munitions, artillery and rocket ammunition and anti-tank weapons, among other items, the US defence chief said 

AFP reports that the UK and other northern European allies announced a new £100m ($123m) military support package Wednesday for Ukraine, aimed at helping its armed forces clear minefields, maintain vehicles and protect key infrastructure.

The package, to be provided using money from the UK-administered International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), will provide equipment to help its soldiers cross minefields and bridge rivers and trenches, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said (MoD).

It will also comprise heavy duty plant vehicles to destroy Russian non-explosive obstacles and help Ukraine build defensive positions to protect critical national infrastructure, it added.

Elsewhere, in its latest intelligence update, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said the Russian military is facing a “mental health crisis”, with many personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The ministry added that Russia’s combat effectiveness continued to operate at “sub-optimal levels”, in part due to the lack of care given to its soldiers’ mental health and their fitness to fight.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, the MoD wrote:

In December 2022, Russian psychologists identified approximately 100,000 military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

This number is almost certainly now higher as the Russian military fails to provide sufficient rotation and recuperation from the battlefield.

This was a problem highlighted by multiple commanders, including the former 58th Combined Arms Army’s General-Major Ivan Popov who was relieved of command in July 2023.

There are additional indications that doctors in Russia are sending military personnel who are unfit to fight to the front.

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