EU official: Russia shifts focus on war to ‘NATO and the West’

TOKYO (AP) — A senior EU official said Friday that Russia had taken its war against Ukraine to “a different stage” by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians and non-military targets, while criticizing Moscow for initiating recent moves by Germany and the United States. send advanced tanks to Ukraine.

Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European Union’s External Action Service, defended German and American supplies of military equipment to Ukraine and criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for waging war against the NATO and the West.

Sannino, speaking at a press conference in Tokyo as part of an Asia-Pacific tour, said that Putin had “moved from a concept of a special operation to a concept now of war against the NATO and the West”.

He said the provisions on German and American tanks are intended to help Ukrainians defend themselves in the war, rather than making them attackers.

“I think this latest development in terms of arms supply is just an evolution of the situation and how Russia has started to take the war to another stage,” Sannino said. He added that Russia was carrying out “indiscriminate attacks” against civilians and towns and no longer against military targets.

The EU is not taking the war to another stage, but “just giving the opportunity to save lives and allow the Ukrainians to (themselves) defend against these barbaric attacks”, Sannino said.

Germany and the United States announced on Wednesday they would send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an “armoured strike force” to help Kyiv break the stalemate in the fighting as that the Russian invasion is entering its 12th month.

The announcement marked the first step in a coordinated effort by the West to provide dozens of heavy weapons, which Ukrainian military commanders say would enable counter-offensives, reduce casualties and help restore supplies in dwindling ammunition.

US President Joe Biden said his country would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks, reversing months of persistent arguments from Washington that they were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.

The US decision followed Germany’s agreement to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stocks.

Sannino was in Japan this week to discuss strengthening cooperation between the EU and Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries as they face growing challenges that also affect the region.


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