“Everything Below Entry into the War”
German government contemplates further arms supplies to Ukraine. In Italy and Greece, transport employees block arms exports to warzone.
BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – In Berlin pressure is mounting for further deliveries of weaponry to Ukraine. Following Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s announcement that the Ukrainian armed forces would be “also provided with systems that we have not yet delivered,” the CDU Chair Friedrich Merz is now demanding that heavy weaponry be also considered. “Everything possible below entering into the war,” should “be feasible,” demanded Alexander Dobrindt, Chair of the CSU faction in the Bundestag. A list with potentially exportable combat material valued at €300 million has already been prepared. These demands are being raised at a time when, according to the Ukrainian negotiator, negotiations between Kiev and Moscow are making progress. Already last week, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Kiev to only agree to a ceasefire when Ukraine is “militarily in the strongest possible position.” In Italy and Greece, on the other hand, transport workers are blocking the delivery of weaponry to the war zone, explaining, they will not be “accomplices” of the war machine.
Ceasefire: “Positive Signals”
Ceasefire negotiations between Kiev and Moscow are making progress, according to the Ukrainian side. Progress had already been reported on Friday, following a meeting in Istanbul, where both sides had resumed talks under mediation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. On the weekend, one of the Ukrainian chief negotiators David Arakhamia announced that they had been able to reach an agreement on the key positions, including that Ukraine is prepared to give up its NATO aspirations and to assume a neutral status. On Monday, Arakhamia reiterated, seeing “positive signals,” gives him hope that the Ukrainian and the Russian president would meet for talks soon. According to one of Zelensky’s advisors, Oleksiy Arestovych, an end to the war in “two to 3 weeks” is conceivable. Guarantor powers willing and able to guarantee Kiev’s future security are still being sought. President Zelenski is also in favor of a quick ceasefire. He said during a visit to Butcha Monday evening, “the Ukraine must have peace.”
“Militarily in the Strongest Possible Position”
Opposition to a rapid ceasefire is mainly coming from NATO states. Already in the run-up to the Ukrainian-Russian negotiations on Friday in Istanbul, Great Britain had issued a plea for greater Ukrainian restraint in regards to a ceasefire. In a phone call at the weekend, Boris Johnson warned that President Putin was a “liar and a bully” who would use talks to “wear you down and force you to make concessions”. The latter is general standard procedure in negotiations and not a particular characteristic of President Putin. A British government official explained Prime Minister Johnson’s statement as meaning that Ukraine must “militarily be in the strongest possible position” before seriously entering into ceasefire talks. That is the only way they can hope to avoid having to make concessions. Already earlier, Great Britain had expanded its arms deliveries to Ukraine and, among other things, provided the Ukrainian military with Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles and trained Ukrainian soldiers in their use. Experts consider them the most difficult to master, although very effective, because, unlike the US Stinger missiles, they are very hard to defeat.
German Arms Deliveries
At the beginning of the week, demands had grown louder also for Germany to drastically increase its arms deliveries to Ukraine. Berlin has already approved the export of 1,000 antitank and 500 anti-aircraft stinger missiles, along with 2,700 anti-aircraft Strela missiles, protective equipment and ammunition. The German government has also given the green light for the export of 58 Czech armored personnel carriers (APC) for Ukraine. These APCs originated from East Germany’s National People’s Army (NVA) stocks, which requires Berlin’s approval before they may be further exported. It has been reported that deliveries of another €300 million in other combat material is in preparation. These include 2,650 RGW90 HH Matador anti-tank missiles, 18 reconnaissance drones, mortars, automatic canons, 3,000 night-vision instruments and thousands of protective vests and helmets. Already on Monday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock declared that Germany will “once again increase” its arms deliveries to Ukraine: “Now, we are also contemplating systems that we have not yet supplied.” Chair of the CDU Party, Friedrich Merz called yesterday for making “no distinction” in the types of weapons; the wording includes heavy weapons, such as tanks.
Strike in Genoa
While Germany – like other western states – is continuously delivering new weapons, protests against arms deliveries are growing in several European countries. In Italy, for example, already on March 14, workers at the Pisa airport refused to load cargo onto freight planes. Contrary to their labeling, they did not contain “humanitarian aid” supplies and medicine, but weapons and ammunition. Protest demonstrations against the clandestine shipment of war materials soon followed. Earlier, the dock workers in Genoa had strongly protested, when they discovered that tanks covered with tarpaulins were being loaded onto ships in plain sight. It was said that the tanks were due to be shipped in the direction of Ukraine. March 31, there was even a day-long dockers strike in Genoa protesting the transport of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. The protest was aimed, on the one hand, against the transformation of the civilian Genoa port into a transshipment hub for military equipment. On the other hand, the striking workers said they refused to “contribute to the military escalation.”
Blockade in Alexandropoulis
Also in Greece, workers are refusing to allow weapons shipments toward Ukraine. In March, transport employees in Greece’s northeastern port city of Alexandropoulis had refused to load US tanks arriving by ship onto trains of the Greek TrainOSE rail company. We will not be accomplices in the passage of the war machines through the territory of our country,” read their statement. “We demand that our country’s railway rolling stock not be used to transfer the US and NATO arsenal to neighboring countries.” The protest was supported by numerous Greek trade unions. Two weeks long, Greece’s TrainOSE railway company’s attempts to recruit transport workers to load the tanks at other locations – for example in Thessaloniki – proved fruitless. There are additional widespread protests in Greece against the NATO countries’ indirect participation in the war in Ukraine, through their steady shipments of arms supplies.
For more information: "Isolate Russia" (III).
 Nataliya Vasilyeva: Russia has agreed to almost all of our peace proposals, says Ukrainian negotiator. telegraph.co.uk 03.04.2022.
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