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February 3-10

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Russia deploys Iskander nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad

Medium reports that Russia has deployed advanced nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its Kaliningrad exclave for permanent deployment. According to the report, “the Lithuanian Minister of Defense raised the alarm about the permanent deployment of Iskander-M units due to its perceived unbalancing effect on regional security. According to Minister Karoblis, in case of a conflict with Russia, these units could be used to cut off the strategic border shared by Poland and Lithuania, along the Suwalki Gap from NATO reinforcements. The deployment would also pose a threat to NATO countries in Europe, as Iskander-M missiles are nuclear-capable, highly mobile, and have a range of at least 400 kilometers.” Author claims that the permanent deployment “could also threaten eastern parts of Germany, the Danish island of Bornholm, southern Sweden, most of Poland, the Baltic states, and northwestern parts of Ukraine.”

Lukas Andriukaitis concludes: “The Kremlin sent a clear message with the permanent deployment of Iskander-M units to Kaliningrad that no security thaw should be expected in the region. Furthermore, these military developments pose new challenges for NATO strategists and eFP troops in the Baltic States and Poland. Iskanders came to stay, and in case of a conflict they could serve as another Russian military advantage in the Baltic Sea region.”


Coalition deal is reached in Germany

According to Politico, the leaders of the Conservative CDU party and the centre-left SPD had reached the deal which will allow them to finally form a new government. Angela Merkel and her SPD counterpart, Martin Schulz, said that a number of difficult concessions had to be made. The SPD is expected to take over the foreign, finance and labor ministries, while the Christian Democrats will take the defense and economic portfolios.

As Euronews reports, “the move is likely to signal a shift in Germany's eurozone policy. Schulz said that his party would put an end to "forced austerity" and set up an investment budget for the eurozone -- something which will surely please French president Emmanuel Macron.”

Many European leaders made their statements regarding the success of the coalition talks: "It's not only good news for Germany, but good news for Europe as well. Because the fact that there would be a stable, solid, ambitious, pro-European government in Berlin, would allow for the decisions and thoughts regarding Europe's future to be tied together," said European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici. Manfred Weber, who leads Merkel’s center-right allies in the European Parliament, tweeted: “Good signal from Berlin to the people and whole Europe: the future German government is ready to contribute to a stronger and better Europe. This is a clear pro European approach and an answer to populists.”

But the deal is not ratified yet. It could still be derailed by either party's membership.


US-led coalition strikes kill pro-regime forces in Syria

Reuters informs, that the U.S.-led coalition said it repelled an unprovoked attack near the Euphrates River by hundreds of troops aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who were backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars.

According to the report, the incident underscored the potential for further conflict in Syria’s oil-rich east, where the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias holds swathes of land after its offensive against Islamic State. The pro-government forces were “likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham” east of the Euphrates in Deir al-Zor province. The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mattis described the attack on the U.S.-backed fighters, who were accompanied by U.S. special operations forces, as “perplexing.” But he described the retaliatory U.S.-led coalition strikes as defensive and limited in nature. Asked whether the U.S. military was stumbling into Syria’s broader conflict, Mattis said: “No. This is self-defense.”

CNN reports that the US strikes were carried out by manned and unmanned aircraft as well as a US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

US F-22 stealth jets, F-15 fighters, and MQ-9 drones were involved in the counterattack according to US Air Forces Central Command.


Prepared by Marina Muradyan

21 February 2021
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