Байден: США не шукають конфлікту з Іраном, але захищатимуть американців у Сирії

Байден: США не шукають конфлікту з Іраном, але захищатимуть американців у Сирії

Сполучені Штати «готові діяти рішуче, щоб захистити наш народ», заявив Байден

Ukrainian Mother Faces Worst Fear: Child Deported to Russia

According to Ukrainian officials, more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly deported to Russia or Russian-controlled Ukrainian territories. As of March 24, only 324 have been returned, including Olena Dudnik’s son, Andriy. Lesia Bakalets reports on one mother’s ordeal.

Країни Північної Європи обʼєднують свої військово-повітряні сили

«Наш спільний повітряний флот можна порівняти з авіацією великої європейської країни» – командувач ВПС Данії

UN Weekly Roundup: March 18-24, 2023

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.

Activists thirsty for action at water conference

A major U.N. water conference concluded Friday with more than 700 commitments for action across many sectors to stem a growing global water crisis. Thousands of participants from government, the private sector, academia and civil society participated in the three days of meetings that resulted in a new Water Action Agenda. However, calls by at least 150 countries for the U.N. secretary-general to create a special U.N. envoy for water have so far gone unheeded, although U.N. officials said Antonio Guterres is giving the proposal serious consideration.

UN Seeks Game Changers to Address Global Water Crisis

Black Sea grain deal continues, but for how long?

On March 18, the United Nations announced that the Black Sea Grain Initiative would continue but did not specify for how long. Turkey, which, along with the U.N., helped broker the deal, also did not specify the length of the extension. Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said it is for 120 days (which is what the agreement calls for) but Russia’s foreign ministry said it has agreed to only a 60-day extension. The package deal facilitates the export of Ukrainian grain and Russian food and fertilizer products to international markets.

Black Sea Grain Deal Extended, Russia Says for 60 Days

Tensions increasing on Korean Peninsula

A senior United Nations official warned Monday that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is heading in the “wrong direction” days after North Korea fired its second intermediate-range ballistic missile of the year, followed by a short-range ballistic missile test Sunday. U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenca told the Security Council that tensions are increasing, with no off-ramps in sight. On Friday, North Korea claimed it had tested a new underwater nuclear attack drone, which it said would create a “radioactive tsunami” on enemy shores.

UN: Tensions on Korean Peninsula Headed in ‘Wrong Direction’

Guterres meets with EU Commission, presses climate action

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres brought an urgent climate message to the European Union summit Thursday in Brussels, encouraging leaders of the bloc’s 27 member nations to take dramatic action. Following the release earlier in the week of a grim report by the organization’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Guterres said dramatic action is needed, as the planet gets closer to the “tipping point” that will make it impossible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

UN’s Guterres Brings Climate Warning to EU Summit

Calls for investigation of rights violations in northern Ethiopia

U.N. human rights experts warned Wednesday that peace in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region will not last unless violations committed during more than two years of armed conflict are investigated and the perpetrators are held to account.

Rights Experts: Violations in Ethiopia Must Be Investigated to Ensure Durable Peace

World Tuberculosis Day

After decades of progress, cases of the lung infection tuberculosis are on the rise again. Last year 1.6 million people died from the disease. India has the highest number of cases, with more than half-a-million related deaths in 2021 — about a third of the global total. March 24 is World TB Day and there is hope of a vaccine being developed in the next few years. The World Health Organization has set a target for eradicating TB by 2030, primarily through diagnosis, treatment and the development of a vaccine. Watch this report from VOA’s Henry Ridgwell for more:

World TB Day Sees Global Push to Eradicate Disease By 2030

Good news

Nearly 420 million children benefited from free school meals last year, a new World Food Program report said Tuesday, providing an important safety net as hunger reaches unprecedented crisis levels worldwide. The WFP said governments seem to be realizing the value of protecting the health and nutrition of children.

UN: School Meal Programs More than Just a Plate of Food

In brief

— Ukraine and the International Criminal Court signed a cooperation agreement Thursday on the establishment of a country office for The Hague-based tribunal in Ukraine. The court has been investigating a wide range of possible international crimes carried out since Russia’s invasion February 24, 2022. Earlier this week, the court made headlines when it issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another senior Russian official, charging them with criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. The Kremlin rejected the court’s move saying, like many other states, Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court.

— The U.N., the World Bank, the European Union and the government of Ukraine said in the second Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment report that after a year of war, direct damage to infrastructure and people’s lives is calculated at more than $135 billion and social and economic losses amount to $290 billion. The country’s agriculture sector was hard hit, estimated to have lost $40 billion, overwhelmingly from destroyed equipment and mined farmland.

— The World Health Organization expressed concern this week at the rising number of cholera cases, especially in countries that have not had outbreaks in decades. As of March 20, two dozen countries have reported cases. The WHO says the response is hampered in part due to the global shortage of the oral cholera vaccine, as well as overstretched medical personnel, who are dealing with multiple health emergencies.

— As gang violence continues unabated in Haiti hindering people’s ability to access water and food, the World Food Program said Thursday that half of the population – nearly 5 million people – are struggling to feed themselves. Inflation and food prices are also hitting Haitians hard. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification of IPC, says 1.8 million people are estimated to be at emergency Phase 4 levels. The WFP says it urgently needs $125 million for the next six months to assist the most vulnerable.

— As the new school year got underway in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, called on de facto Taliban authorities “to allow all girls to return to school with immediate effect.” It said the “unjustified and shortsighted decision” to continue to bar more than 1 million Afghan girls from attending classes “marks another grim milestone in the steady erosion of girls’ and women’s rights nationwide.”

— WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China Saturday to be transparent in sharing data on the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data recently made public suggests that raccoon dogs were present in the Wuhan animal market and may have been infected with the coronavirus. The Chinese city was where the first infections were reported and many of the first human cases were centered around the animal market. The WHO says the information is not conclusive but could shed new light on the origins of the virus and should have been shared three years ago.

What we are watching next week

On March 29, the General Assembly will take up a proposal from Vanuatu and backed by more than 100 countries that would seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice clarifying the legal obligations and consequences of and to states on protecting the rights of current and future generations from climate change. The resolution began in 2019 as the brainchild of students from the Pacific Island nation, which is among several small island states that are suffering the effects of the climate crisis but have contributed little to it.

США: сенатори закликають Байдена підтримати розслідування МКС щодо воєнних злочинів Росії в Україні

«Сполучені Штати, як повідомляється, ще не поділилися ключовими доказами, які могли б допомогти в цих розслідуваннях»

Iran Condemns France for ‘Repression’ of Protests

Iran on Friday condemned what it called France’s repression of protests after more than 450 people were arrested and nearly as many police were injured in demonstrations against pension reforms.

Protesters clashed with French security forces Thursday in the most serious violence yet of a three-month revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to change the retirement age from 62 to 64.

“We strongly condemn the repression of the peaceful demonstrations of the French people,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted in French.

“We call on the French government to respect human rights and refrain from using force against the people of the country who are peacefully pursuing their claims,” he added.

His ministry’s spokesman Nasser Kanani had previously urged the French government to “talk to its people and listen to their voices.”

“We do not support destruction or rioting, but we maintain that instead of creating chaos in other countries, listen to the voice of your people and avoid violence against them,” he said.

Kanani was referring to criticism, including from France, of Iran’s response to months-long protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini after the 22-year-old’s arrest for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

Hundreds of people have been killed, including dozens of security personnel, and thousands arrested in connection with what Iranian officials described as “riots” fomented by Israel and the West.

The United States, Britain and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran for its response to the protest movement, led mostly by women.

“Those who sow the wind reap the whirlwind,” Kanani said, adding that such “violence contradicts sitting on the chair of morality lessons and preaching to others.”

On Friday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 457 people had been arrested and 441 members of the security forces injured the day before during the protests.

Darmanin dismissed calls from protesters to withdraw the pension reform.

“I don’t think we should withdraw this law because of violence,” he said. “If so, that means there’s no state. We should accept a democratic, social debate, but not a violent debate.”

Боррель: партнерство Китаю і Росії має межі

Європа повинна вітати будь-які спроби Пекіна дистанціюватися від російської війни в Україні, заявив верховний представник ЄС із зовнішньої політики Жозеп Боррель

The Times: кораблі двох країн були поблизу «Північних потоків» перед вибухами

Розслідування вибухів на газопроводах ведуть Німеччина, Швеція та Данія

Ukrainian Nun Gives Psychological Help to Families Affected by War 

Lviv native Oksana used to be a Ukrainian military paratrooper, but in a leap of faith, she decided to become a nun in 2004. Sister Anysia, as she is now called, is now working to help military families dealing with the psychological trauma of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Omelyan Oshchudlyak has more from Lviv. Camera: Yuriy Dankevych         

West ‘Regains Unity and Purpose’ Following Russia’s War on Ukraine, Poll Shows

A poll of global attitudes regarding Russia’s war on Ukraine suggests the West has regained its unity and sense of purpose following the invasion. The survey — conducted across 15 countries in December and January — shows markedly different attitudes in non-Western nations, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Russia’s War in Ukraine Has ‘Severely Dislocated the Russian Military’s Training System’

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “severely dislocated the Russian military’s training system – instructors have largely been deployed in Ukraine,” according to Britain’s Defense Ministry.

In a Twitter post Friday, the ministry said Russia has “likely redeployed at least 1,000 troops who had been training at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in south-western Belarus.”

Russia has likely not dismantled the tented training camp, the British intelligence update said, suggesting that Russia “is considering continuing the training programme” under the “much less-experienced Belarusian army.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the military is set to launch a counteroffensive against Russian troops, but needs help from their European neighbors.

“If Europe waits,” Zelenskyy warned European leaders Thursday, “the evil may have time to regroup and prepare for years of war.”

In the video address, delivered from a train, Zelenskyy urged the leaders to expand and hasten their deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine to use in its campaign to beat back the Russian invasion.

The European leaders signed a $2 billion deal Thursday, endorsed earlier this week by EU foreign and defense ministers, calling for both sending ammunition from existing stocks and for EU countries to work together to place new orders for more rounds.

With Russia’s attempt to capture Bakhmut stalled, the long-awaited counteroffensive will begin “very soon,” Ukraine’s top ground forces commander said Thursday.

Ukrainian Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on the Telegram social media site that Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries, often convicts recruited out of prisons, “are losing considerable strength and are running out of steam” in trying to take control of Bakhmut. After considering a pullout in the eastern city, Ukraine kept its troops in place, while also sending in reinforcements.

“Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he said, naming cities Ukraine has defended or captured from Russian control.

Syrskyi was one of the top commanders behind Ukraine’s strategy last year in the first weeks of the war that repelled Russia’s assault on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and turned back Moscow’s forces through the second half of 2022.

On Wednesday, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Ukrainian forces had launched a local counterattack west of Bakhmut that was likely to relieve pressure on the main route used to supply Kyiv’s forces inside the city.

The ministry said there was still a threat that Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut could be surrounded, but there was “a realistic possibility the Russian assault on the town is losing the limited momentum it had obtained.”

The front lines of the war in eastern Ukraine have largely stalemated in recent months, with neither side able to capture significant new territory, even as they both sustain huge numbers of casualties.

Moscow has not commented on Ukrainian claims that it is losing momentum in Bakhmut, but Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group mercenary boss, in recent days has pessimistically warned of a Ukrainian counterassault.

Earlier this week, Prigozhin published a letter to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, warning that Ukraine is trying to cut off Wagner’s forces from Russia’s regular troops and demanding Shoigu act to prevent this. Prigozhin said there would be “negative consequences” if he failed.

On Thursday, Zelenskyy continued his tour of frontline provinces, visiting the Kherson region in the south a day after meeting troops near Bakhmut. A video showed him meeting residents in Posad Pokrovske, a bombed-out village on the former Kherson frontline recaptured in Ukraine’s last big advance last year.

“We will restore everything; we will rebuild everything. Just like with every city and village that suffered because of the occupiers,” he wrote.

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

Місія ООН із прав людини зафіксувала 133 жертви сексуального насильства в Україні

«Станом на 31 січня цього року ми зафіксували 133 жертви, а саме – 85 чоловіків, 45 жінок і три дівчинки», – сказала голова місії Матильда Богнер

США завдали ударів по об’єктах Ірану в Сирії – Пентагон

За повідомленням, удари були завдані у відповідь за вбивство американського підрядника під час атаки безпілотника іранського походження на технічну базу коаліції на північному сході Сирії

Elderly Ukrainian Helicopters Pummel Russians From Afar

Skimming the treetops, three Soviet-era attack helicopters bank and swoop down on a field after an early-morning mission to the front lines in the fight against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Each day, they might fly three or four sorties, says the commander, whose two-crew Mi-24 helicopter, built about 40 years ago, is older than he is.

“We are carrying out combat tasks to destroy enemy vehicles, enemy personnel, we are working with pitch-up attacks from a distance from where the enemy can’t get us with their air defense system,” said the commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity for operational security reasons, in line with military regulations.

The conflict in Ukraine is largely an artillery war, with territory being fought for inch by inch under a barrage of shells and missiles. But Ukraine’s aviation capabilities play a significant role in the fight, the pilot said.

“The importance of the helicopters is huge,” said the commander, who is part of Ukraine’s 12th Army Aviation Brigade.

Footage from a camera attached to the helicopter during a recent combat mission shows it flying over fields pockmarked with craters from artillery bombing, and firing missiles at Russian trenches that cut through the landscape.

“We are shooting from the big distance and hit the target clearly, like there’s a cross on the target and (the missiles) go by themselves where they should go,” the commander said.

He would, however, like to fly a newer model.

“We need to master something new, something from abroad,” the commander said. “It has better characteristics. You can maneuver more on it, there are more rockets on it and the weapons are more powerful. We can do more tasks with better quality and with less risk for us.”

Several countries, including the United States and Britain, have pledged to send, or have already sent, helicopters to Ukraine as part of military aid since the start of the war sparked by Russia’s invasion in Feb 2022.

Росія: біля Єкатеринбурґа спалахнула велика пожежа

Масштабна пожежа сталася у місті Араміль

Казахстан посилить контроль за реекспортом товарів до Росії – Financial Times

Казахстан планує з 1 квітня запустити систему онлайн-відстеження товарів, що надходять до країни для подальшого реекспорту, повідомляє Financial Times із посиланням на високопосадовців.

«Ми розуміємо всі ризики, пов’язані з вторинними санкціями, тому уважно стежимо за нашою взаємною торгівлею з усіма партнерами», – сказав один із співрозмовників видання. За його словами, Казахстан постійно працює над зниженням ризиків реекспорту.

За даними Бюро національної статистики Казахстану, на які посилається видання, 2022 року експорт товарів з Казахстану до Росії збільшився на 25%.

США та Євросоюз підозрюють Казахстан у тому, що він допомагає Росії обходити санкції, запроваджені проти неї через розв’язану війну в Україні. Влада Казахстану неодноразово заявляла, що не допомагатиме Росії обходити обмеження.

Bloomberg раніше з посиланням на високопоставленого європейського дипломата стверджував, що Казахстан це робить принаймні щодо закупівель мікрочіпів, які в тому числі використовуються в ракетах.

Читайте також: Reuters: російський бізнес просить Казахстан допомогти з обходом санкцій

Держсекретар США Ентоні Блінкен, який відвідав на початку березня Казахстан, заявляв, що США «уважно стежать» за тим, як санкції позначаються на сусідніх з Росією країнах, і сказав, що казахстанські компанії повинні відмовитися від будь-яких зв’язків з російським бізнесом. У відповідь глава МЗС Казахстану фактично зізнався, що владі країни дуже складно управляти торговими процесами між двома країнами.

За даними Євростату, експорт з Європи до Росії після введення санкцій у період з березня по листопад 2022 року впав на 47% порівняно з аналогічним періодом 2021 року і становив 36,3 млрд євро. Але при цьому експорт європейських товарів у сусідні з Росією країни, такі як Білорусь, Вірменію, Казахстан, Грузію, Узбекистан і Киргизстан, за аналогічний період 2022 року зріс на ті ж 48% і становив 20,3 млрд євро.

38 країн закликали ОБСЄ дослідити ситуацію з правами людини в Білорусі – Держдеп США

«Експертна місія матиме мандат на оцінку дотримання Білоруссю зобов’язань перед ОБСЄ»

DeSantis Clarifies Position on Ukraine War, Calls Putin ‘War Criminal’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this week called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and condemned his invasion of Ukraine, a week after coming under criticism for remarks that seemed to advocate a reduction in U.S. support for Ukrainian forces.

DeSantis, widely expected to announce his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination later this year, had previously described the war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” that did not represent a “vital national interest” of the United States.

The remarks earned him immediate condemnation from many, including multiple long-serving Republicans in Congress, even though support for continued U.S. aid to Ukraine is waning among a significant portion of the Republican electorate.

Claims he was mischaracterized

In an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan scheduled to stream Thursday evening on Fox Nation, DeSantis said his comments — particularly those that seemed to dismiss the war as a territorial dispute — were “mischaracterized.”

Morgan, who previewed the interview in a New York Post column on Wednesday, quoted the Florida governor’s explanation for his comment at length.

“When I asked him specifically if he regretted using the phrase ‘territorial dispute,’ DeSantis replied, ‘Well, I think it’s been mischaracterized. Obviously, Russia invaded [last year] — that was wrong. They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 — that was wrong.

“ ‘What I’m referring to is where the fighting is going on now, which is that eastern border region Donbas, and then Crimea, and you have a situation where Russia has had that. I don’t think legitimately, but they had. There’s a lot of ethnic Russians there.’”

According to Morgan, DeSantis went on to say why he thinks Russia is not the threat that the Biden administration has portrayed: “I think the larger point is, OK, Russia is not showing the ability to take over Ukraine, to topple the government or certainly to threaten NATO. That’s a good thing.”

The Biden administration has characterized support for Ukraine as forestalling deeper U.S. involvement in a broader conflict.

DeSantis told Morgan he sees it differently: “I just don’t think that’s a sufficient interest for us to escalate more involvement. I would not want to see American troops involved there. But the idea that I think somehow Russia was justified [in invading] — that’s nonsense.”

‘A gas station’ with nuclear weapons

Also in the interview, DeSantis ridiculed Russia’s high dependence on fossil fuel exports and said the country does not have the capacity to act on Putin’s seeming plan to reconstitute the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence.

“I think he’s got grand ambitions,” DeSantis said of Putin. “I think he’s hostile to the United States, but I think the thing that we’ve seen is he doesn’t have the conventional capability to realize his ambitions. And so, he’s basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons, and one of the things we could be doing better is utilizing our own energy resources in the U.S.”

DeSantis’ comments were reminiscent of those of the late John McCain, who was a Republican senator and presidential candidate. Famously hawkish on Russia, he once derided the nation as “a gas station masquerading as a country.”

Zelenskyy responds

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an interview with the editors of The Atlantic magazine, replied to DeSantis last week with an argument that America’s investment in his country’s defense is preventing a broader conflict that could pull in the U.S. and its NATO allies.

“If we will not have enough weapons, that means we will be weak. If we will be weak, they will occupy us,” Zelenskyy said. “If they occupy us, they will be on the borders of Moldova and they will occupy Moldova. When they have occupied Moldova, they will [travel through] Belarus and they will occupy Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“That’s three Baltic countries which are members of NATO,” he added. “They will occupy them. Of course [the Balts] are brave people, and they will fight. But they are small. And they don’t have nuclear weapons. So they will be attacked by Russians because that is the policy of Russia, to take back all the countries which have been previously part of the Soviet Union.”

Zelenskyy’s assertions aside, many foreign policy experts are dubious about the likelihood of Russia choosing to invade any countries that are under the protection of NATO’s mutual defense agreement.

Difficult politics

DeSantis’ move to clarify his position on Ukraine highlights a difficulty that any Republican presidential candidate is likely to face on the issue because of a deepening divide within the party.

For Republicans, said William A. Galston, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, “finding a tenable path on Ukraine is very difficult, because the party is divided between a traditionalist wing and a populist wing on this issue.”

“The traditionalist view is that the United States, for reasons having to do with both its interests and values, is required to stand up to aggression, such as what Russia has unleashed on Ukraine, and to support indirectly, and in some cases directly, the military effort to oppose it,” Galston told VOA.

“The populist wing of the party is taking the position that this fight is none of our business, and more generally, that the interests of the United States are best served by staying out of foreign entanglements, particularly military entanglements, to the greatest extent possible,” he said.

At the moment, the divide is most visible when comparing the positions of the party’s two leading presidential candidates with those of its foreign policy veterans in Congress.

Both former President Donald Trump and DeSantis have expressed doubts about whether it is in U.S. interests to continue supporting Ukraine. In a recent Monmouth University poll, the two men received 80% of support — 44% for Trump and 36% for DeSantis — when prospective GOP voters were asked whom they support for the party’s presidential nomination.

In Congress, though, prominent Republican voices have offered unwavering support for Ukraine.

“I think the majority opinion among Senate Republicans is that the United States has a vital national security interest there in stopping Russian aggression,” John Thune, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, told reporters last week.

Ukrainian Patriot Air Defense Crew Finishes Training Ahead of Schedule

Since January, 65 Ukrainian soldiers have been training at Fort Sill, a U.S. Army base in Oklahoma, to operate a Patriot air defense system. The troops expect to graduate in March and return to Ukraine to begin deploying the mobile air defense system.

Given the sensitivity around the advanced training, the Pentagon has forbidden photographs of the participating soldiers and declined to allow VOA to name them. But Voice of America journalist Ostap Yarysh traveled to Fort Sill and observed the group firsthand.

Rapid field training

An American instructor watches Ukrainian soldiers deploy a big radar in the field.

“Our military deploys a Patriot battery in 40 to 45 minutes,” he said. “Ukrainians manage it in 25. They do a great job. They are very optimistic, considering the situation at home.”

Among the Ukrainian men and women who traveled to Oklahoma, the youngest is 19, the oldest is 67. For the past 10 weeks, using an accelerated program developed by the Pentagon that has them training at least 10 hours a day, six days a week, they have worked to master the Patriot air defense system.

Tuesday was one of the final training sessions in the field. In a few days, the team will be ready to graduate.

Strong winds, like Tuesday’s, are typical on the plains of southern Oklahoma. They do not obstruct the training: A group of Ukrainian soldiers smoothly deploys a Patriot battery in the middle of the field and brings it to combat readiness. In addition to several launchers, the battery includes a radar, an electric power plant and a control station — all of which are on wheels.

“I think of those components as the body parts,” said one instructor at Fort Sill who has been involved in the training but asked not to be named.

The “control station is kind of like the brains of the operation,” he said. “Radar, I like to call it the eyes. It’s what sees everything. Power plant is what gives the body all the nutrients, because it throws all the power out. And then launchers are what I call my arms and legs, because that’s what does all the actual fighting. That’s how I explained it to a lot of my unit students.”

The training program was designed so Ukrainians can master each of the components separately and then learn how to maintain them together. Some exercises take place outdoors, while others take place in classrooms or on simulators.

The Ukrainian training differs from the Pentagon’s usual course because it was tailored specifically for the war in Ukraine. Instead of classic air combat scenarios, this course is based on battle experience fighting Russia’s invasion.

Combat experience

“They are the best of the best in what they do in air defense for Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Shane Morgan, who is the commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill. “Our assessment is that the Ukrainian soldiers are impressive, and absolutely a quick study due to their extensive air defense knowledge and experience in a combat zone. It was easier, though never easy, for them to grasp the Patriot system operations and maintenance concepts.”

For the U.S. Patriot training, Ukraine handpicked military personnel who had significant experience in intercepting air attacks. That allowed the Pentagon to shrink the course length from its usual six months to 10 weeks.

American instructors say one of the challenges of the training was the language barrier, because not all of the Ukrainian soldiers were proficient in English. However, the Pentagon quickly found a solution: They brought interpreters and translators to Fort Sill.

In the end, it turned out to be beneficial for both parties.

“We have learned as much from them as what we have taught them,” said one of the Fort Sill senior leaders, who declined to provide his name.

“Ukrainians had real combat experience. Many of the Ukrainian armed forces have engaged and destroyed Russian threats,” he said. “I would say thankfully, most of our soldiers have not had to actually do that. That’s provided us some thoughts on tactics, techniques and procedures that we may not have thought about.”

New capabilities

The Patriot is one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world. It can detect a threat within a radius of 150 km and intercept cruise and ballistic missiles as well as aircraft and other targets at an altitude of 20 km.

Patriots are also highly mobile, can intercept several targets simultaneously and are resistant to electronic jamming.

Launchers come in different configurations, with four PAC-2 missiles, or with 16 PAC-3 missiles. At Fort Sill, the Ukrainians trained on both.

U.S. defense officials say that the Patriot will be an addition to other short- and medium-range air defense systems provided to Ukraine by the U.S. and allies. Together, this should create a multilayered system of protection of the Ukrainian sky and help defend against various attacks from ballistic missiles to kamikaze drones.

“Patriot is not going be able to defend the entire city like Kyiv,” said one of the Fort Sill senior leaders. “The area that Patriot can defend varies based on the threat. If it’s a cruise missile, it may be able to defend a little large area, but with more advanced ballistic missiles, it may be a little smaller.”

Crews ready

Despite the compressed timetable, the American trainers say the Ukrainian crews are fully prepared.

“I’m very proud of the training we’ve done here,” said an instructor at Fort Sill. “I have full confidence in the Patriot systems and in Ukrainian soldiers who are operating them.”

The U.S. will transfer one Patriot battery to Ukraine. Another will come from Germany and the Netherlands. These countries also organized training for other Ukrainian air defense teams.

When they graduate from Fort Sill, the Ukrainian soldiers will receive a final stage of training in Europe on combat coordination with their colleagues. The Pentagon said it expects that Patriot systems will be working in Ukraine in the coming weeks.

Уряд Республіки Сербської підтримав законопроєкт, схожий на закон РФ про «іноагентів»

Як заявив Мілорад Додік, зміни в законодавстві вимагатимуть від організацій, що фінансуються з-за кордону, звітувати про «все, що вони роблять»