Ukrainian War: Berlin’s “hybrid war” against Russia, the US Navy in the Baltic countries, the bombing of Kharkiv

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1. Ukrainian Prime Minister calls for even more military support from Germany

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal urged Germany to step up its military support for Ukraine during a trip to Berlin on Sunday.

Chmygal acknowledged the efforts Germany has already made to support his country during a visit that aims to turn the page on recent tensions between the two countries.

Germany’s hesitant attitude towards Moscow after the outbreak of war and its initial lack of military support in Kyiv deeply angered the Ukrainian government.

But things have since improved. Chmygal’s visit to Berlin on Sunday, a first for a Ukrainian official of this level since the beginning of the Russian invasion, symbolizes this relaxation.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister “thanked Germany for its military, financial, humanitarian and political support”, while stressing the need to provide Kyiv with heavier military equipment, according to a statement from his cabinet.

“The MARS II rocket launchers and the Panzerhaubitze 2000 [howitzers]supplied by Germany, performed well on the battlefield, and we hope to increase the supply of heavy weapons,” Chmygal said.

Less than a week ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Germany to take “a special responsibility” to help Ukraine strengthen its artillery and air defense systems.

“We hope that Germany will become one of the leaders in the development process [Ukrainian] air defence,” echoed his Ukrainian counterpart on Sunday.

2. A US Navy ship participates in training in the Baltic Sea

A US Navy amphibious assault ship, the USS Kearsarge, took part in international training in the Baltic Sea on Sunday, amid rising tensions in the region.

The Kearsarge is the first Wasp-class ship to participate in a global exercise in the Baltic in at least two decades.

“This is a first for us in recent memory and it has been very exciting,” said Captain Tom Foster, Kearsarge’s Commanding Officer.

Along with other US Navy ships, the Kearsarge has been training for several months with the Swedish and Finnish armies, which formally applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The formation’s mission is to promote safety and security in the region.

“Over the past few months we have operated in the Baltics and the Mediterranean,” said Captain Aaron Kelley, commander of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.

“We will continue to operate in these areas,” Kelley said. “The goal is always to promote safety and security in these regions and in international waters.”

The USS Kearsarge allows training by aircraft such as AV-8B Harriers, UH-1 Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters as well as MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

3. The US Ambassador to Moscow leaves after completing his post

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow on Sunday after completing his term, the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

“The Ambassador to the Russian Federation, John J. Sullivan, completed his term as Representative of the United States and left Moscow today,” the embassy said. Sullivan had been appointed ambassador to Moscow in December 2019.

“After his departure, he will end his career in the public service which will have lasted four decades and less than five [US] presidents,” he added.

The 62-year-old man from Boston notably served as Assistant Secretary of State under Donald Trump. He has held several positions in the Departments of Justice, Defense and Commerce in the United States.

Another embassy staffer, Elizabeth Rood, will assume the role of charge d’affaires until Sullivan’s successor arrives, the embassy said. They did not give further details.

Sullivan’s departure comes at a time when relations between the United States and Russia are experiencing the worst turbulence since the Cold War.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to secure the release of U.S. citizens detained in Russia, such as basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced last month to nine years in prison for “drug traffic”.

4. Berlin is waging a “hybrid war” against Moscow, according to Medvedev

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday accused Germany of waging a “hybrid war” against Russia, which he says justifies cutting off Russian gas supplies to the country.

The statements come as relations between Germany and Russia, already fractured by the war in Ukraine, are becoming even more distorted, with Moscow suspending gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline.

“German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier,” Medvedev said. “First, Germany is a hostile country, second, it has imposed sanctions on the entire Russian economy…and it is delivering deadly weapons to Ukraine.”

“In other words, she [Germany] declared a hybrid war against Russia,” he continued. “Germany is behaving like an enemy of Russia…and this uncle [Scholz] is surprised that the Germans have small problems with the gas.”

Russian energy giant Gazprom has suspended gas deliveries through the Nord Stream pipeline indefinitely, officially due to an oil leak on a turbine.

Many European officials believe Moscow is harnessing the energy to blackmail countries over their support for Ukraine ahead of what promises to be a tough winter.

Although heavily dependent on Russian energy, Germany “will be able to cope this winter”, Scholz said on Sunday.

Russian authorities blame European leaders for gas supply problems, saying sanctions imposed on Moscow have prevented it from servicing the Nord Stream pipeline.

5. Russian shells rain down on Ukrainian port city and Kharkiv

Russian shelling hit the port city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine overnight, damaging a medical center, the city’s mayor said on Sunday.

Mykolaiv and its surroundings were hit daily for weeks during the six-month war.

On Saturday, a child was killed and five people were injured in rocket attacks in the area, Governor Vitaliy Kim said.

Mykolaiv city mayor Oleksandr Senkevych did not say whether there were any injuries in the nighttime attack, which he said also damaged some houses.

Mykolaiv, on the Southern Bug River about 30 kilometers (20 miles) upstream from the Black Sea, is a major port and center for shipbuilding.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, Russian shelling set fire to a large wooden restaurant complex on Saturday evening, according to the region’s emergency services.

One person was killed and two injured in shelling in the area, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the eastern Donetsk region where Russian forces are trying to take full control, said four people were killed in shelling on Saturday.

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