Kremlin: Putin is Open to Talks on Ukraine

Russia President Vladimir Putin. (EPA)
Russia President Vladimir Putin. (EPA)
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Kremlin: Putin is Open to Talks on Ukraine

Russia President Vladimir Putin. (EPA)
Russia President Vladimir Putin. (EPA)

President Vladimir Putin is open to talks on a possible settlement to the conflict in Ukraine and believes in a diplomatic solution, the Kremlin said on Friday after Joe Biden suggested he was prepared to speak to the Russian leader.

Biden, speaking beside French President Emmanuel Macron, said the only way to end the war in Ukraine was for Putin to pull troops out and that if Putin was looking to end the conflict then Biden would be prepared to speak to the Kremlin chief, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov struck a dovish tone when asked about Biden's remarks, saying that Putin remained open to negotiations but that Russia would not pull out of Ukraine.

"The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests," Peskov told reporters.

Putin has said he has no regrets about launching what he calls Russia's "special military operation" against Ukraine, casting it as a watershed moment when Russia finally stood up to arrogant Western hegemony after decades of humiliation in the years since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they cast as an imperial-style war of occupation. Ukraine says it will fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory.

Russia has claimed around a fifth of Ukraine's post-Soviet territory, annexations the West and Ukraine say they will ever accept.

Peskov said that the refusal of the United States to recognize "the new territories" as Russian was hindering a search for any potential compromise.

Asked if the way Biden was framing potential contacts meant that negotiations were impossible from a Russian perspective, Peskov said: "In essence, that's what Biden said.
He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine."

The Kremlin, Peskov said, could not accept that - and the Russian military operation would continue in Ukraine.

"But at the same time - it is very important to give this in conjunction – President Putin has been, is and remains open for contacts, for negotiations. Of course, the most preferable way to achieve our interests is through peaceful, diplomatic means."

The conflict has left tens of thousands of soldiers dead on both sides and triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.



New York Stunned, Swamped by Record-breaking Rainfall

A man clears debris from a drain as a car make their way through floodwater in Brooklyn, New York on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)
A man clears debris from a drain as a car make their way through floodwater in Brooklyn, New York on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)
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New York Stunned, Swamped by Record-breaking Rainfall

A man clears debris from a drain as a car make their way through floodwater in Brooklyn, New York on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)
A man clears debris from a drain as a car make their way through floodwater in Brooklyn, New York on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

One of New York's wettest days in decades left the metropolitan area stunned and swamped Friday after heavy rainfall knocked out several subway and commuter rail lines, stranded drivers on highways, flooded basements and shuttered a terminal at LaGuardia Airport for hours.

Some 8.65 inches (21.97 centimeters) of rain had fallen at John F. Kennedy Airport by nightfall Friday, surpassing the record for any September day set during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

Parts of Brooklyn saw more than 7.25 inches (18.41 centimeters), with at least one spot recording 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) in a single hour, according to weather and city officials.

More downpours were expected Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

The deluge came two years after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped record-breaking rain on the Northeast and killed at least 13 people in New York City, mostly in flooded basement apartments.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams declared states of emergency and urged people to stay put if possible. But schools were open, students went to class and many adults went to work, only to wonder how they would get home.

Virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays. Metro-North commuter rail service from Manhattan was suspended for much of the day but began resuming by evening. The Long Island Rail Road was snarled, 44 of the city's 3,500 buses became stranded and bus service was disrupted citywide, transit officials said.


Israeli's Nano-X Settles US SEC Charges over Costs of Flagship Imaging Device

Israeli flag seen during anti-government protest in Jerusalem - File/EPA/ABIR SULTAN
Israeli flag seen during anti-government protest in Jerusalem - File/EPA/ABIR SULTAN
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Israeli's Nano-X Settles US SEC Charges over Costs of Flagship Imaging Device

Israeli flag seen during anti-government protest in Jerusalem - File/EPA/ABIR SULTAN
Israeli flag seen during anti-government protest in Jerusalem - File/EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Nano-X Imaging and its founder Ran Poliakine agreed to pay nearly $1.1 million to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing the Israeli medical imaging company of negligently misleading investors about the cost to make its flagship product.

Poliakine was accused of claiming in 2020 and 2021 that Nano-X could mass-produce Nanox.ARC, purportedly a lower-cost alternative to existing X-ray devices, for $8,000 to $12,000 each, while ignoring higher estimates provided by company executives, including engineering executives, Reuters reported.

The SEC said Nano-X also touted the misleadingly low estimate before and after its August 2020 initial public offering, which raised $165 million.

Poliakine was Nano-X's chief executive at the time of the misleading statements, and is now non-executive chairman, the SEC said.

Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Nano-X and Poliakine agreed to pay respective civil fines of $650,000 and $150,000, and Poliakine will pay $267,000 in disgorgement plus interest.


Armenia Asks World Court to Order Azerbaijan to Withdraw Troops from Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenians at a Red Cross registration center on the border with Azerbaijan (EPA)
Armenians at a Red Cross registration center on the border with Azerbaijan (EPA)
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Armenia Asks World Court to Order Azerbaijan to Withdraw Troops from Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenians at a Red Cross registration center on the border with Azerbaijan (EPA)
Armenians at a Red Cross registration center on the border with Azerbaijan (EPA)

Armenia has asked the World Court to order Azerbaijan to withdraw all its troops from civilian establishments in Nagorno-Karabakh and provide the United Nations access, the court said on Friday.

The World Court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, in February ordered Azerbaijan to ensure free movement through the Lachin corridor to and from the disputed region, in what then was an intermediate step in legal disputes with neighbouring Armenia.

More than three quarters of the 120,000-strong population of the ethnic Armenian breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh had fled by Friday afternoon after defeat by Azerbaijan last week.

In a request for provisional measures submitted on Thursday, Armenia asked the court to reaffirm the orders it gave Azerbaijan in February and to order it to refrain from all actions directly or indirectly aimed at displacing the remaining ethnic Armenians from the region, Reuters reported.

Some international experts have said the exodus of ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh meets the conditions for the war crime of "deportation or forcible transfer", or even a crime against humanity.

The United States and others have called on Baku to allow international monitors into Karabakh, amid concerns about possible human rights abuses. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing in Karabakh, something Baku strongly denies.

Azerbaijan has invited a United Nations mission to visit Nagorno-Karabakh "in the coming days", the foreign ministry said on Friday.

The World Court in The Hague is the UN court for resolving disputes between countries. Its rulings are binding, but it has no direct means of enforcing them.


Cyprus Considers Sheltering Some Armenian Refugees if Needed

An aerial view of the tent camp for Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh arriving to Armenia in Goris, in Syunik region, Armenia, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Armenian officials say more than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's original population have fled the region for Armenia. (AP Photo)
An aerial view of the tent camp for Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh arriving to Armenia in Goris, in Syunik region, Armenia, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Armenian officials say more than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's original population have fled the region for Armenia. (AP Photo)
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Cyprus Considers Sheltering Some Armenian Refugees if Needed

An aerial view of the tent camp for Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh arriving to Armenia in Goris, in Syunik region, Armenia, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Armenian officials say more than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's original population have fled the region for Armenia. (AP Photo)
An aerial view of the tent camp for Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh arriving to Armenia in Goris, in Syunik region, Armenia, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Armenian officials say more than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's original population have fled the region for Armenia. (AP Photo)

European Union member Cyprus on Friday said it was considering ways to host, if needed, displaced ethnic Armenians who had fled Azerbaijan's war-ravaged breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

More than three-quarters of the Armenian population of 120,000 had fled by Friday after a lightning defeat by Azerbaijani forces. The enclave had broken away in the 1990s, Reuters reported.

Cyprus traditionally has close ties with Armenia, and has a minority Armenian Christian population represented in parliament.

"The Cypriot government maintains an open corridor for the Armenian people and in that framework is ready to offer immediate humanitarian aid," the Cypriot Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Cyprus is considering, among other things, ways to host a number of displaced Armenians in our country should that be deemed necessary."

There have been Armenians in Cyprus for centuries. Many trace their roots back to Armenian people or orphans forced to flee mass killings under the Ottoman Empire in 1915, which some governments today consider genocide.


Azerbaijan Says it Invited UN Mission to Visit Karabakh in Coming Days

Volunteers hand out water and food to ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh as they cross the border with Azerbaijan, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
Volunteers hand out water and food to ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh as they cross the border with Azerbaijan, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
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Azerbaijan Says it Invited UN Mission to Visit Karabakh in Coming Days

Volunteers hand out water and food to ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh as they cross the border with Azerbaijan, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
Volunteers hand out water and food to ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh as they cross the border with Azerbaijan, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

Azerbaijan has invited a United Nations mission to visit Nagorno-Karabakh "in the coming days", the foreign ministry said on Friday, amid a mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region following a lightning Azerbaijani military offensive.
The United States and others have called on Baku to allow international monitors into Karabakh due to concerns about possible human rights abuses. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing in Karabakh, something Baku strongly denies.
"The visit will allow (the mission) to become acquainted with the current humanitarian activities being carried out by Azerbaijan in the region," the ministry said in a statement.
"In addition, the group members will be shown the process of rebuilding certain infrastructure, disarmament and confiscation of ammunition from illegal Armenian armed forces, as well as the dangers posed by mines," it said.
Earlier, an Azerbaijani government official said media would also be allowed to visit the region, which is internationally viewed as part of Azerbaijan but which had been run by an ethnic Armenian breakaway state since the 1990s.


More than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's Population Flees

A local rides a horse (R, back) as ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh cross the border with Azerbaijan on a bus with their belongings, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
A local rides a horse (R, back) as ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh cross the border with Azerbaijan on a bus with their belongings, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
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More than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's Population Flees

A local rides a horse (R, back) as ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh cross the border with Azerbaijan on a bus with their belongings, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
A local rides a horse (R, back) as ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh cross the border with Azerbaijan on a bus with their belongings, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 29 September 2023. EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

More than 70% of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh has fled the ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan for neighboring Armenia, the Armenian government said Friday, as the enclave's separatist government said it will dissolve itself by the end of the year after a three-decade bid for independence.

Armenian officials said that 84,770 people had left Nagorno-Karabakh by Friday morning out of a total population of around 120,000.

The mass exodus that began Sunday raises questions about Azerbaijan’s plans for Nagorno-Karabakh following its lightning offensive last week to reclaim the breakaway region, and demand that its militants disarm and its separatist government disband.

Some people have lined up for days to get out of Nagorno-Karabakh as the only road to Armenia quickly filled up with vehicles, creating a major traffic jam on the winding mountain road.

Armenian Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan said that some people, including the elderly, had died while on the road to Armenia, because they were “exhausted due to malnutrition, left without even taking medicine with them, and were on the road for more than 40 hours.”

On Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted the departure of ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh and alleged it was “a direct act of an ethnic cleansing and depriving people of their motherland.” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected Pashinyan’s accusations, calling the departure of Armenians “their personal and individual decision and has nothing to do with forced relocation.”

In the 1990s, the Azerbaijani population was itself expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced within Azerbaijan. As part of its “Great Return” program, the government in Baku has already relocated Azerbaijanis to territories recaptured from Nagorno-Karabakh forces in a 2020 war.

Analysts believe Azerbaijan could expand the program and resettle Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijanis, while stating that ethnic Armenians could stay or exercise a right to return in order to “refute accusations that Karabakh Armenians have been ethnically cleansed,” Broers said.

A decree signed by the region’s separatist president, Samvel Shakhramanyan, cited a Sept. 20 agreement to end the fighting under which Azerbaijan will allow the “free, voluntary and unhindered movement” of Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents to Armenia.

On Thursday, Azerbaijani authorities charged Ruben Vardanyan, the former head of Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist government, with financing terrorism, creating illegal armed formations and illegally crossing a state border. He was detained on Wednesday by Azerbaijani border guards as he was trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia along with tens of thousands of others.


Switzerland Tightens Sanctions over Iran Drone Deliveries to Russia

A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers putting out a fire of industrial storage after shock drone debris fell on it, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine, 19 September 2023 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers putting out a fire of industrial storage after shock drone debris fell on it, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine, 19 September 2023 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE HANDOUT
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Switzerland Tightens Sanctions over Iran Drone Deliveries to Russia

A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers putting out a fire of industrial storage after shock drone debris fell on it, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine, 19 September 2023 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers putting out a fire of industrial storage after shock drone debris fell on it, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine, 19 September 2023 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE HANDOUT

Switzerland adopted further sanctions in connection with Iran's drone deliveries to Russia, in line with European Union measures, the government said in a statement on Friday.

The sale, supply, export and transit of components used for the manufacture and production of drones is now prohibited, and targeted financial and travel sanctions against persons and entities connected with support for Iran's drone program are in place, added Switzerland's Federal Council.

The United States on Wednesday placed sanctions on entities and people based in several countries for aiding the Iranian attack drone program, which Washington accuses of supplying such weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The US Treasury said it put sanctions on five entities and two people who were part of a network helping procure sensitive parts - including servomotors, which help control position and speed - for Iran's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program.

The network facilitated shipments and financial transactions for the Revolutionary Guard Corps' procurement of such motors used in Iran's Shahed-136 drones, it said, adding that a motor procured by the network was found recently in the remains of a Russia-operated Shahed-136 drone shot down in Ukraine.


China to Resume Visa-free Policies to Spur Inbound Travel

People visit a lantern display in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on September 29, 2023 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)
People visit a lantern display in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on September 29, 2023 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)
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China to Resume Visa-free Policies to Spur Inbound Travel

People visit a lantern display in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on September 29, 2023 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)
People visit a lantern display in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on September 29, 2023 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)

China will resume visa-free policies and consider adding more countries to its visa-exemption list to help boost the country's post-pandemic tourism business, according to a policy document released on Friday.

More international flights will be resumed or added, China's State Council said.

In a statement posted on the central government's website, it said visa-free policies and visa assurances on arrival would be promoted as well as smoother immigration clearances for cruises and self-driving tourists.

The government also called for enhanced tax-rebate services such the creation of more tax-rebate shops.


Afghan Embassy in India Suspends Operations, Diplomats from Govt before Taliban Leave

Security personnel stand guard outside Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi. Afghanistan envoy to India Farid Mamundzay said the nation’s embassy in India will be closed down by 30 September. File photo/AFP
Security personnel stand guard outside Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi. Afghanistan envoy to India Farid Mamundzay said the nation’s embassy in India will be closed down by 30 September. File photo/AFP
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Afghan Embassy in India Suspends Operations, Diplomats from Govt before Taliban Leave

Security personnel stand guard outside Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi. Afghanistan envoy to India Farid Mamundzay said the nation’s embassy in India will be closed down by 30 September. File photo/AFP
Security personnel stand guard outside Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi. Afghanistan envoy to India Farid Mamundzay said the nation’s embassy in India will be closed down by 30 September. File photo/AFP

The Afghan embassy in India has suspended all operations after the ambassador and other senior diplomats left the country for Europe and the United States where they gained asylum, three embassy officials said on Friday.
India does not recognize the Taliban government, and closed its own embassy in Kabul after the Taliban took control in 2021, but New Delhi had allowed the ambassador and mission staff appointed by the Western-backed government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to issue visas and handle trade matters, Reuters said.
At least five Afghan diplomats have left India, the embassy officials said. The Indian government will now take over the diplomatic compound in a caretaker capacity, one of the Afghan officials said.
Asked about the matter, an Indian foreign ministry official in New Delhi said they were looking into the developments, without giving any details.
Taliban officials in Kabul were not immediately available for comment.
India is one of a dozen countries with a small mission in Kabul to facilitate trade, humanitarian aid and medical support. Bilateral trade in 2019-2020 reached $1.5 billion, but fell drastically after the Taliban government took office.
Earlier this month hundreds of Afghan college students living in India despite the expiry of their student visas staged a demonstration in New Delhi to urge the Indian government to extend their stay.


Germany Purchases Israeli Arrow-3 Missile for 4 Bln Euros

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) 

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)
German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)
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Germany Purchases Israeli Arrow-3 Missile for 4 Bln Euros

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) 

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)
German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)

Germany on Thursday signed a letter of commitment with Israel to buy its Arrow-3 missile defense system.

This coincides with foreign and domestic criticism over Berlin’s pursuit to acquire the most advanced defense system.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius signed Israel’s largest-ever single defense contract worth roughly 4 billion euros.

The German government would pay from the €100 billion fund special fund Germany created to boost defense spending in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Gallant called the sale “a moving event for every Jew,” hinting at the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany during World War 2.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “historic.”

“Seventy-five years ago, the Jewish people were ground to dust on the soil of Nazi Germany,” Netanyahu said. “Seventy-five years later, the Jewish state gives Germany — a different Germany — the tools to defend itself.”

Germany plans to start using Arrow in late 2025, with the system then being built up step by step. “We see from the daily Russian attacks on Ukraine how important air defense is in general,” Pistorius added.

The United States government on Thursday approved Israel’s request to export the co-developed Arrow 3 missile defense system to Germany. The Arrow system was developed and produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) in partnership with Boeing.

Die Welt website quoted Frank Sauer, senior researcher fellow at Bundeswehr University in Munich, as saying that the Arrow 3 system is “impressive” in a technical aspect, but it launches medium-range missiles outside the atmosphere. This makes it unsuitable for defense against cruise missile systems or Russian “Kinzhal” because these missiles remain in the atmosphere.

Frank Cohn, another military expert from Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, told the website that strategically, this contract has no significant benefit.

Cohn considered that it would have been better if this amount was invested in purchasing defense systems that could thwart Russian “Kinzhal” missiles or in updating the current Patriot system.

The deal makes sense only in the political terms, he added, hinting at the nature of the German-Israeli ties.

Last week, Pistorius and French Armies Minister Sebastien Lecornu showcased contradicting visions regarding the development of Europe defenses during a joint interview with “Le Monde” newspaper.