Russian warships have been observed near submarine cables and wind farms in the Baltic, causing the Swedish and Finnish navies to be on high alert. According to Finnish media reports, Swedish Navy Commander Ewa Skoog Haslum has warned of potential sabotage by Russia against the electricity networks of NATO allies in the region.
Commander Skoog Haslum has stated that they are convinced Russia has mapped the targets in some way, raising the risk of sabotage against underwater cables and power networks.
He also stressed the importance of having a presence at the targets and having control over all underwater matters to show Sweden’s and Finland’s will to defend themselves.
It comes as NATO allies and partner countries delivered more than 98 percent of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine during Russia’s invasion and war, the military alliance’s chief said Thursday, giving Kyiv a bigger punch as it contemplates launching a counteroffensive.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that along with more than 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, Ukraine’s allies have sent “vast amounts of ammunition” and also trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian brigades.
Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels: “This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.”
His comments on Friday came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a “long and meaningful” phone call in their first known contact since Russia’s full-scale invasion more than a year ago.
Though Zelensky said he was encouraged by Wednesday’s call and Western officials welcomed Xi’s move, it didn’t appear to improve peace prospects.
Russia and Ukraine are far apart in their terms for peace, and Beijing — while looking to position itself as a global diplomatic power — has refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion.
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The Chinese government sees Russia as a diplomatic ally in opposing US influence in global affairs, and Xi visited Moscow last month.
Stoltenberg said the 31 NATO allies were committed to shoring up Ukraine’s military, adding that taking back land the Kremlin’s forces occupied would give Kyiv a stronger negotiating position if peace talks occur.
Ukrainian officials said China’s overture was encouraging. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday described the call between Xi and Zelensky as “very productive.”
Shmyhal said after visiting Pope Francis at the Vatican: “I’m convinced it is a good beginning for our relations in the future.”
But the Kremlin’s response was lukewarm.
Asked if the call could help end the fighting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We are ready to welcome anything that could lead to the termination of the conflict in Ukraine and the achievement of all the goals set by Russia.”
Peskov said the conversation between the Chinese and Ukrainian leaders was “the sovereign business of those countries and the issue of their bilateral dialogue.”
With battlefield positions in Ukraine largely static in what’s become a war of attrition, Russian forces have kept up their bombardment of Ukrainian areas, often hitting apartment buildings and other civilian infrastructure.
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