How arming Ukraine is stretching the US defence industry
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“NATO expansion was a threat to Russian influence, not to Russian survival”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94bqk8cB9iQ
“The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, almost exactly one year after it invaded the neighboring country.
In the 193-member body, 141 members voted in support of the resolution, exceeding the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.
even members — Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria — voted against the resolution. Thirty-two members abstained, including China, India, Iran and South Africa.
The nonbinding resolution, which is largely symbolic, calls for Russia to halt its attack on Ukraine and to withdraw its troops from the region, as well as for a lasting peace.”
“U.S. intelligence officials have determined that people with ties to Russian intelligence are planning to stage protests in hopes of toppling the Moldovan government, according to the White House.”
“Central and Eastern European countries, the most vocal supporters of arming Ukraine further, are equally dismissive of Beijing’s rhetoric.
“China’s plan is vague and does not offer solutions,” Ivana Karásková, who heads the China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe think tank based in Prague. “The plan calls on Russia and Ukraine to deal with the issue themselves, which would only benefit Russia; China continues to oppose what it calls unilateral sanctions and asks for the sanctions to be approved by the UN Security Council — well, given the fact that the aggressor is a permanent UNSC member with a veto right, this claim is beyond ridiculous.””
“Erdoğan, specifically, is raising new objections to the ascension of Finland and especially Sweden over what Turkey perceives as the latter’s lax policies toward Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other groups that Turkey deems terrorist organizations. Most recently, Erdoğan has used a far-right politician’s burning of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm to harden his opposition to Sweden’s NATO bid.
All NATO members must approve new ones, so Erdoğan’s opposition is effectively a veto. The Turkish president is not alone in declining support— Hungary’s Viktor Orbán is also holding out, for now — but Erdoğan is seen as the more legitimate roadblock. Erdoğan is flexing his foreign policy power and influence, and seeking to improve his domestic political position, especially ahead of difficult elections this May.
“Erdoğan thinks Turkey has leverage. Erdoğan thinks Turkey has justifiable grievances about Sweden’s policies. Erdoğan thinks he has an opportunity to use that leverage to address those grievances in a way that would be good for Turkey’s national interests. And, in addition to all of that, the entire issue is good for Erdoğan politically,” said Nicholas Danforth, editor at War on the Rocks and nonresident senior research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.
Given all that, it’s not really surprising this spat over the Nordic countries’ NATO membership is dragging out. But this is also really not how the script was supposed to go — at least according to most of the rest of NATO.”
“In June, Sweden, Finland, and Turkey reached a memorandum of understanding to try to assuage some of Erdoğan’s concerns. Sweden and Finland lifted their arms blockades and agreed to a series of steps to cooperate with Turkey on terrorism-related issues.
But Erdoğan is pushing for more concessions, especially from Sweden. Some of the demands are wholly unrealistic, such as a request to extradite 130 purported “terrorists” to Turkey. As experts pointed out, Turkey operates under a pretty shaky definition of terrorism, and things that Erdoğan might consider terrorism look a lot more like freedom of speech in Sweden. Additionally, even in things like extradition, Sweden and Finland can’t just arbitrarily arrest people; it has to go through the judicial system, and the accused have due process.
Then, recent anti-Turkey protests in Stockholm and the burning of the Quran by one far-right protester have soured talks even further. Turkey condemned the burning as “anti-Islam,” with the Turkish Foreign Ministry saying that allowing such acts “under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable.” Turkey then scrapped talks with Swedish officials.
Sweden also condemned the act and the protests (which were actually anti-NATO protests). “This act plays directly into the hands of Russia and weakens our country, and it happened during the most serious security situation since the Second World War,” said. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström. (The book burner was reportedly funded by a journalist with Kremlin ties.) But, at the same time, Sweden said, the whole thing wasn’t actually against Swedish law, even if they were angry about it, too.”
“Sweden and Finland are still trying to work something out, with Sweden introducing a law Thursday that would ban certain activities that could support terrorist organizations. Washington and Brussels are increasingly annoyed, with some leaders being pretty vocal about Turkey’s disloyalty. Congress has said Ankara will not get American-made F-16s (more on that later) unless it approves the NATO bids. More people are also saying that maybe NATO should just kick Turkey out (no more on that because, while it’s noteworthy politicians are even talking about it, experts said it’s not realistic and the mechanisms to do so are pretty fuzzy). Turkey, meanwhile, has basically said talks are meaningless in the current climate, though it floated the possibility of backing Finland for NATO, just not Sweden — something Finland immediately rejected, as the two Nordic countries are very close, and they purposely sought a joint bid.
And the standoff may stay this way, at least until May — which is when Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party are facing a difficult election.”
“Erdoğan’s obstinance is causing real frustration in Washington and throughout European capitals. This is not exactly new; even before Erdoğan, Turkey was always something of a NATO misfit — incredibly useful to the alliance because of its unique position, but also a power whose interests and perspectives did not always align with the rest of the alliance members.”
“In peacetime, Ukraine’s food exports were enough to feed 400 million people. Its farmers supplied a tenth of the wheat and half the sunflower oil sold on world markets. Its shipments of grains and oilseeds through the Black Sea fell to zero last March, from 5.7 million metric tons in February.
For net importers the impact was immediate and direct. Egypt and Libya had imported two-thirds of their cereals from Russia and Ukraine, for instance. Other countries were hit by the fallout: Prices shot up, first in response to the invasion, and again as countries like India imposed bans on grain exports.
“One of the cruelest ways in which Putin has used the weapons of war to impose costs on people around the world is the ways in which his early blockade of Black Sea ports raised prices for hungry people in dozens of countries around the world,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of President Joe Biden and who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview.
Coons noted the U.N., Turkey and Ukraine’s work to forge the Black Sea grain deal has reduced some of the overwhelming strain on global food prices, “but not enough yet.”
In Ukraine, farmers could not sell their crops after a bumper harvest before the war left grain stores brimming. The next harvest, already in the ground, had nowhere to go, said Joseph Glauber, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The standstill to exports also endangered the home front. Before the war, almost half of the country’s budget stemmed from exports, and nearly half of those exports were agricultural, according to Dmytro Los of the Ukrainian Business and Trade Association. “So don’t forget that, during the war, we lost almost 45-50 percent of GDP,” Los said.
To stave off starvation abroad and rescue Ukrainian farmers, the EU set up overland “solidarity lanes” to help bring food exports out through Eastern Europe. And, in July, the U.N. and Turkey mediated the deal to allow safe passage for Ukrainian food shipments through the Black Sea.
Some 21.5 million tons of Ukrainian produce have been transported under the initiative, enabling the World Food Programme to deliver valuable aid to countries like Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
This has helped ease some of the pressure on global food prices — although they remain high — while ensuring Ukraine’s agriculture sector, a leading driver of its economy, doesn’t collapse.
“It’s very important for Ukraine, but it is even more important for the world,” said Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian MP who represents Odesa — one of the few ports covered under the current agreement.
As talks resume this week, the fate of the grain deal hangs in the balance. Both sides have plenty of gripes.”