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Moscow warns of a stronger NATO presence in the Baltic States


RRussia has warned against further strengthening NATO’s presence in the Baltic States. “The build-up of NATO troops and infrastructure right on our borders, as well as plans for their continued deployment, are frankly a provocation and are leading to a significant increase in the confrontation in the Baltics,” Russian Foreign Ministry Director for European Policy Sergei Belyayev said on Tuesday Interfax agency Saturday.

A “far-fetched” Russian threat serves as a pretext. The Baltic states “obediently” followed all US directives and hid behind their fabricated “frontline status,” Belyayev said. “We are observing this and drawing the necessary conclusions.” He said: “At the same time, our country has never and does not threaten the alliance.” German soldiers are also stationed in Lithuania.

Belyayev also warned again against admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO. This would have “serious military and political consequences that would force us to reconsider the whole range of relations with these states and take retaliatory measures,” the diplomat said. He did not give details. Belyayev said the neutrality of the two states is an important factor in guaranteeing security in Europe.

The neutral stance of Sweden and Finland has been anchored in the government work of the two Nordic EU countries for decades. In Finland’s case, this attitude also stems from the fact that the country has the longest border with Russia of any EU member. Both are therefore still not NATO members, but close partners of the alliance. However, the Russian attack on Ukraine has increased the support among Finns and Swedes for joining NATO.

Location in Ukraine

Meanwhile, the situation in Ukraine worsened. According to the Ukrainian military intelligence service, seven residents were killed during the evacuation of a village east of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The women and children from the town of Peremoha tried to flee on their own. The intelligence service initially reported that they were in a “green corridor” agreed with Russia when they were attacked by Russian forces.

Overall, the population of towns and villages in Ukraine came under increasing fire from the Russian army on Saturday. Fighting was mainly reported from the south, but also in the east and from around the capital Kyiv. On the 17th day of the war, the Russian Ministry of Defense spoke of attacks on a “broad front”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported that the attackers suffered heavy casualties and the “biggest blow to the Russian army in decades”. In the meantime, 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. He gave the losses in his own ranks since the beginning of the war as around 1,300 soldiers. The figures cannot be independently verified.

Zelenskyj wants negotiations with Putin in Jerusalem

Zelenskyi proposed on Saturday Jerusalem as a possible location for negotiations on an end to the war with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both Selenskyj and Putin had recently repeatedly telephoned the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who was also with the Kremlin chief in Moscow a week ago.

There was no sign of relief for the approximately 400,000 residents of the besieged port city of Mariupol in the south-east. There, pro-Russian separatists with the support of Russian troops advanced into the eastern outskirts, according to the Ukrainian armed forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense had previously reported that several parts of the city had been taken.


Kyiv in the morning of March 12
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Image: dpa

Mariupol has been under siege for days. The humanitarian situation there is dramatic. Tens of thousands of people lack food, water and medicine.



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