G7 ministers condemn Russian troop movements on border with Ukraine: The G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union have issued a statement saying they are deeply concerned by the large ongoing build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea. On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for Russia to withdraw troops deployed along the Ukrainian border during a phone call with Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin on Sunday said it was not heading towards a war with Ukraine as tensions escalate in the eastern Donbass region. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer demanded an explanation of the Kremlin’s intentions. „If Russia has nothing to hide, it could easily explain which troops are being moved where and to what goal,“ she said.
gov.uk, euronews.com, dw.com
UN warns of civil war in Myanmar: Two months after the coup in Myanmar, protesters are still defying the military. Meanwhile, ethnic minority militias who’ve been fighting the military for decades have renewed their attacks as well. The military has responded to both threats with more violence against a population it has repressed for decades. UN officials warn of civil war in Myanmar as militias run by the country’s numerous ethnic minorities weigh an offer to create a federal state with the deposed government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Kramp-Karrenbauer under pressure because of KSK scandal: German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has disputed claims that she did not tell the truth in regard to an ammunition scandal in her ministry. At a special meeting of the parliament’s defense committee on the scandal at the elite special forces command (KSK), Kramp-Karrenbauer promised to take tough action. In spring 2020, KSK Brigadier General Markus Kreitmayr is believed to have violated regulations when he came up with the unusual idea of telling his troops that they could return any ammunition and weapons that they might have taken home and that they could do so anonymously and without fear of punishment. Before the investigative committee, Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized that she did not find out about the controversial amnesty until months later. Opposition politicians questioned her credibility and accused the minister of not having her ministry under control.
Dispute between China and Taiwan intensifies: Taiwan’s foreign minister on Wednesday said the island will defend itself “to the very last day” if attacked by China. Joseph Wu said China’s attempts at conciliation while engaging in military intimidation are sending mixed signals to the island’s residents. China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be won over peacefully or by force. China does not recognize Taiwan’s democratically elected government, and leader Xi Jinping has said “unification” between the sides cannot be put off indefinitely. Wu noted China flew 10 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Monday and deployed an aircraft carrier group for exercises near Taiwan.
Iran and US signal nuclear talks will resume despite alleged Israeli attack: United States and Iranian officials appear determined to resume nuclear talks this week in Vienna, despite an alleged weekend attack on an Iranian atomic facility that Tehran blamed on Israel. News of the alleged strike came as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was visiting Israel. The country has not publicly admitted or denied a role in the explosion and blackout at the Natanz nuclear facility. Israel has a long history of staging attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, which it views as an existential threat. Israel is believed to have been behind a blast that struck an Iranian military ship just last week.
Heckler & Koch: German opposition parties call for new arms export law handelsblatt.com
Terrorism: Assassin from Dresden on trial freiepresse.de
Navalny: Prison guards threaten to force-feed Alexei Navalny dw.com
Congo: More than ten dead in protests against UN mission spiegel.de
Mozambique: After an offensive by Isis groups, a humanitarian catastrophe threatens rnd.de
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
After 50 years in action, the German Armed Forces are decommissioning the helicopter legend „Teppichklopfer“.
Dispute over homeland security service in Germany: The Bundeswehr’s newly launched “Voluntary Service for Homeland Security” is already attracting criticism from parts of civil society. With the “Heimatschutz-Programm”, recruits in Germany are supposed to supplement the already existing voluntary service and thus receive not only military training but also provide social engagement. For Peter Neher, head of Caritas, it is de facto “a kind of test course for the Bundeswehr. Volunteering is the prerogative of civil society, not the state. And that is why it is precisely the existing voluntary services such as the voluntary social year, voluntary ecological year or the federal voluntary service that should be strengthened,” said Neher. For existing providers of social and / or ecological voluntary services, the „Heimatschutz“ is a competing product, which, thanks to its high pay specifically attracts interested parties to the armed forces.
German far-right group on trial for terror plot: The trial of 11 suspected members of a far-right terror group has begun in the German city of Stuttgart. The suspects were arrested in February last year. Prosecutors say the 11 men – all Germans – were members of Gruppe S (Group S), which planned attacks on migrants, Muslims and politicians, with the aim of sparking a civil war. A twelfth man, a former police officer, is accused of offering material support to the group. He is also on trial. One of the group is still at large and is being tried in absentia.
Afghanistan faces chaos if NATO withdraws: US President Joe Biden plans to pull all military forces out of Afghanistan by September 11, ending US presence in the Middle Eastern nation by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that spurred America’s longest war. Biden sees no military solution for the problems in Afghanistan, a senior administration official said. The US will instead focus efforts on putting the full weight of the US government behind diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Taliban and Afghan government, according to the official. The Taliban still have enormous influence in many regions and regularly carry out attacks. According to an assessment by the German defense ministry, the Afghan security forces “despite all their efforts are still not in a self-sufficient position to ensure nationwide security”. After the withdrawal of international troops, the country threatens to sink into chaos again.
„It is in the European interest that the Biden presidency is a success.“
The chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former top diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger has called for more European commitment to improve transatlantic relations.
Does Slovenia want the dissolution of Bosnia? Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor on Monday denied calling for the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, saying he wanted Bosnia to join the European Union as soon as possible. The announcement came after Bosnian media reported that Bosnian presidency member Zeljko Komsic said Pahor had asked the presidency members during his recent visit to Sarajevo if a “peaceful dissolution” of Bosnia was possible.