Poland said its army will soon be the strongest in Europe. Can it?

Through a series of major arms deals, Poland is set to establish military supremacy in continental Europe – though the high cost of this expansion is a source of concern for some experts.

If everything goes according to plan, Europe will soon have a new military superpower: Poland.

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The leaders of the country’s ruling party Law & Justice (PiS) have recently announced that the country is set to have the strongest army in Europe within the next two years, thanks to the major modernisation of its existing equipment and a massive reinforcement of its troops.

The military has been one of the most important topics of discussion in Poland since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, as the country prepares for the risk of the conflict at its border spilling into its territory.

“The Polish army must be so powerful that it does not have to fight due to its strength alone,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in November last year, as the country celebrated independence from the Soviet Union.

He promised that the country would have “the most powerful land forces in Europe.”

“We want peace, and if we want that we must prepare for war – in connection with that, we are strengthening the Polish Army in contrast to those who governed until 2015,” said Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.

But is this major rearmament programme an objectively realistic goal – or simply a costly promise meant to boost support for PiS ahead of the country’s election later this year?

Poland’s plan for Europe’s strongest army explained

According to the Global Firepower’s 2023 Military Strength Ranking, the strongest militaries in Europe – after Russia – are currently the UK, France, and Italy. The UK’s position is mostly due to its manpower and airpower, while France can count on a strong helicopter fleet and several destroyer warships. Italy had 404 helicopters and two aircraft carriers as of January 2023. Poland was fifth in the ranking.

Poland has already set in motion the plan that will lead it to obtain Europe’s strongest army.

“Poland is in a state of transition, it made orders for hundreds of American, German, and South Korean vehicles, and it has expanded its defence spending to more than 3% of its GDP,” Frank Ledwidge, a barrister and former military officer who has served in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, told Euronews.

Last year, the president of Poland – a country that has been a full member of NATO since 1999 – signed into law a bill that allowed the government to spend 3% of its GDP on defence from 2023 on – a full percentage point above what is expected of the alliance’s members.

By comparison, Germany has recently pledged to increase its defence spending to reach at least the 2% threshold set by NATO for its members. In 2021, according to the latest data made available by Eurostat, the EU countries that spent most of their GDP on defence were Greece (2.8%), Latvia (2.3%), Estonia (2.0%), Romania (1.9%), France, Cyprus, and Lithuania (1.8%).

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Newly NATO member Finland, which has one of the strongest armies in Europe, plans to spend €6 billion, or 2.3% of its GDP in defence, in 2024 – which is actually €116 million less than it expected to spend this year.

If Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński gets his way, military spending in Poland could be increased to 5% of the country’s GDP in the next decade, as he has suggested.

Poland has also announced a major purchase of modern equipment and a massive recruitment operation that will likely take place in the coming years.

The country wants to recruit about 150,000 troops in the next decade, which will bring its army from the current 128,000 active personnel and 36,000 territorial defence troops to 300,000 soldiers by 2035. With the new troops, the country will create six armoured divisions – whereas France and Germany only have two, and the UK has one alone.

It has also purchased over a thousand new tanks and 600 artillery pieces, mainly from South Korea and the US. These will bring the country’s firepower to be more than that of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy combined.

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In July, Poland received 33 new M1 Abrams tanks as part of a €4.5 billion ($4.9 billion) order of 250. The country is also waiting for most of the nearly 1,000 K2 Black Panther main battle tanks it has bought from South Korea, of which it has received the first 10. Some 180 K2 will be delivered to Poland by 2025 for €3.16 billion, while up to 820 of the tanks will be produced in Poland under the licence obtained by South Korea for the next 10 years.

In terms of artillery, Poland has spent €9.2 billion ($10 billion) to purchase 468 HIMARS rocket launchers of the same kind that helped Ukraine’s forces with its successes against the Russians last year.

Can Poland really achieve its ambitious goal?

With these orders in line, “there’s no doubt” that Poland can become Europe’s strongest army, said Ledwidge.

“Is it an electoral promise? Maybe, but they’re going to be left with an awful lot of egg on their face if they don’t go through with these orders, and I suspect massive contractual issues as well,” he said.

However, some concerns remain among experts and observers, especially over the costs of this military expansion.

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The expansion of the training of new troops and the recruitment pipeline will be a “challenge”, Ledwidge said, that will have a logistical and financial burden on the country. “But we should remember that Poland is getting richer, unlike countries like the UK, so they can probably afford the expenses.”

The issue of the gargantuan cost of this expansion of the Polish army has been raised by Polish military expert Robert Czulda, a Resident Fellow at the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, who in a recent article said that the country will have to face a “gun or butter” dilemma as it tries to secure long-term financing.

“It seems highly likely that such a large scale of planned orders is largely driven by a political populism, aimed at gaining popularity here and now, rather than to be a real, comprehensive, and well-thought-out plan for harmoniously strengthening the armed forces,” he wrote.

“Poland should ensure that these procurement programmes are sustainable and affordable in the long term. The country should avoid a risk of overspending, which now seems very high.”

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement and a senior fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, warned that the impressive arm deals made by the Polish government “were made without government tenders, from a weak bargaining position, and without offset obligations from contractors.” 

How is this going to change the political equilibrium in Europe?

As the strongest army in Europe, Poland “will be more than capable of defending themselves and the Baltic states with what they’re going to get, assuming that the investment comes through,” Ledwidge said.

“The incentives to go through with this are both political and strategic. Poland needs to have a very strong army because it has become the bulwark of NATO,” he added.

This would likely put the country in a new position within Europe and NATO.

“It’s very probable that Poland then will become either the primary or secondary continental European power after France,” said Ledwidge.

“And that will mean that the UK will lose in due course its role as second commander of NATO, which would be a big blow for the country, but it’s deserved.”

The new position of Poland within NATO and Europe will push countries like the UK or France “to ask whether it’s worth even having their ground forces as a priority,” Ledwidge said, “or whether they should instead reverse to their natural speciality, which for the UK is being a naval power – something that’s being lost as we try to do all at once.”

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Italian general fired for homophobic remarks is sign Italy is changing

A general at the top of Italy’s armed forces bashed gay people in a recent publication. But LGBTQ+ activists and officers tell Euronews that, despite ongoing challenges, the situation is getting better for queer people in the army and the police.

In a controversial self-published book that has become an object of heated debate, Italy’s General Roberto Vannacci – one of the people at the very top of the country’s armed forces – bashed gay people, saying they were “not normal.”

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Vannacci was the head of the Italian paratroopers’ brigade and the Military Geographical Institute in Florence before being officially removed on Friday as the result of the homophobic, misogynistic, and racist statements contained in ‘The World Upside Down’, published some two weeks ago.

In the self-published book the general bashed environmentalists, feminists, Jewish people, Black Italians, and the LGBTQ+ community as the causes – according to him – of the problems afflicting the Italian society.

“Dear homosexuals, you’re not normal, get over it!,” he wrote. “Normality is heterosexuality. If everything seems normal to you, however, it is the fault of the plots of the international gay lobby which banned terms that until a few years ago were in our dictionaries.”

The fiery statements were immediately condemned by politicians and LGBTQ+ activists across the country, with Italy’s defence minister Guido Crosetto saying that the general discredited the army, the defence ministry, and the constitution.

“It’s disturbing that an army general, and so a person at the highest level of the army, can express a thought that’s so openly homophobic, racist, and mysoginistic,” Gabriele Piazzoni, Secretary General of the national LGBTQ+ nonprofit Arcigay, told Euronews.

“The armed forces must be inspired by the values of the Constitution,” he added. “This a democratic country, not a military dictatorship, and these statements cannot be tolerated.”

Vannacci’s punishment – with his removal from the two top positions he covered in the army – was what Piazzoni and Arcigay were calling for. 

It wasn’t an obvious outcome considering that the government currently ruling the country has been pushing forward policies reducing LGBTQ+ rights in the country, including limiting the parental rights of same-sex parents.

For Alessio Avellino, a trans police officer and the president of Polis Aperta, Italy’s first association for LGBTQ+ members of the armed forces and the police, Vannacci’s removal is a sign that Italy is making steps forward to make its armed forces more inclusive.

“Talking about this issue, we managed to get Vannacci removed from his post, a result that makes us happy,” Avellino told Euronews.

“In Italy, there’s a lot to do, really, really a lot. But we’re doing it.”

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‘There’s a lot of people who don’t think like Vannacci’

Avellino, one of the first trans police officers in Italy, doesn’t like focusing on the negatives when talking about the situation facing LGBTQ+ people in the armed forces and the police in the country.

While initially concerned that Vannacci’s statements might find support within the broader public, the 28-year-old officer said that he’s living proof that the armed forces and the police have gotten more inclusive in recent years.

“I’m a trans person, I’ve declared it, I’ve done my gender affirmation journey within the police and the community and I live a normal life within the department,” he said. “Like me, there’s another colleague within the prison police who’s decided to come out and has started his transition journey,” he continued.

“In the armed forces, there’s a guy who has never declared himself to be trans not to compromise his work, but everyone knows he’s a trans man and has kept his job.”

By law, new police officers in Italy must follow strict regulations when being sworn in, with men wearing trousers and women wearing a skirt. Avellino was allowed to wear trousers when sworn in in 2020, despite the fact that his official documents didn’t reflect his transition journey at the time and would have forced him to wear a skirt.

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“Many officers above me were understanding and let me wear trousers,” he said. “At the top, there are many people who have different opinions than Vannucci,” he added. “As always, people get to making progress before legislation catches up.”

Talking to La Repubblica, a gay officer who’s been serving in the army for 30 years confirmed that coming out at work, at the age of 50, had been hard for him – but added that the army has since then changed, as Avellino said about the police.

‘Still behind’

Piazzoni is less optimistic about the situation in the country.

“In the last decades Italy surely made some steps forward, but we’re still behind compared to other countries in Western Europe in recognising LGBTQ+ rights,” Piazzoni said.

“The fact that last year the country couldn’t approve the law on homotransphobia means that we still don’t have a law that specifically condemns discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” he added. 

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The sweeping legislation – called Ddl Zan – was passed by the lower chamber of Parliament in 2021, but was sunk by the Senate, with lawmakers defending the right to freedom of speech over the need to exacerbate punishments for discriminating against women, gays and lesbians, and trans people.

“This is a clear sign that the Italian institutions struggle to understand how to oppose this phenomenon, which in turn allows parts of the public opinion that discrimination can be legitimate,” Piazzoni added. 

Vannacci defended what he discussed in his book saying that it falls under his constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. 

On Monday, after being removed from office, he still defended his statements, saying that gay people are “statistically abnormal.”

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right party League – part of the rightwing coalition government – sided with Vannacci, saying on Monday that he refuses to have a “Big Brother telling people what to think” in Italy.

In a list of 49 European countries ranked by their efforts to protect and recognise LGBTQ+ rights compiled by international organisation ILGA-Europe earlier this year, Italy was 34.



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‘In the fight against jihadist groups, Niger has no better allies than France and the US’

On Thursday August 3, the military junta who took control of Niger at the end of July said they would cut military ties with their previous allies, the US and France. This could redefine the fight against the far-reaching jihadists groups in the region. Wassim Nasr, FRANCE 24 Expert in Jihadist Groups, explains the impact this new policy could have.

To the consternation of France and the US, soldiers in Niger detained the country’s President Mohamed Bazoum at his home on July 26 and declared a coup. Despite this condemnation of the coup, they have not intervened. And the newly installed junta has made numerous diplomatic swipes against France and the US’s condemnation of the coup and scrapped its military pacts with France.

Niger is of particular strategic value to both the US and France, with both countries having a significant military presence in the West African nation. Over a thousand troops from each country are based there, deployed to help fight the surge in jihadist attacks in the region. US President Joe Biden’s administration sees the country as its best counterterrorism outpost in the unstable Sahel region. France promptly refused to withdraw its military, stating that only “legitimate” authorities were entitled to ask it to.

Abandoning Niger risks not only a surge in jihadist groups but an ever-greater influence by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which is present in several countries of the Sahel region.

 

FRANCE 24’s Jihadist Group’s Expert Wassim Nasr explains the impacts of a potential end to military cooperation between Niger and its Western allies, France and the US.

FRANCE 24: On Thursday, Niger’s ambassador to the USA Kiari Liman-Tinguiri called on the junta to “come to reason” and warned that if Niger collapses, the “entire Sahel” region could fall to jihadists.

He went on to say jihadist groups could “control Africa from the coast to the Mediterranean” [and thus Europe].

Do you share his fears?

Wassim Nasr: I think that it is a bit of an exaggeration. But if Niger enters a phase of chaos, that will surely benefit jihadist groups.

We should define what “chaos” means in this context. One thing is certain, if the military junta stays in power, the policies implemented under President Mohamed Bazoum will unravel.

Supported on the ground by French and US forces, as well as an increasing number of drone purchases, the president waged a war against the terrorists militarily. 

The multidimensional battles he fought against the jihadist groups was based on a three-pronged logic: “negotiate, develop, wage war”. 

The government managed to conduct negotiations with al Qaeda and in parallel, pursued a policy of “jihadist demobilization”. Niger’s authorities “took” jihadist fighters and reintegrated them into local security forces, like in the Diffa and Tillaberi regions.

The government also implemented a development policy, specifically aimed at tackling land issues and agrarian reforms.

All these elements combined meant that, compared to neighbouring countries like Mali or Burkina Faso, Niger saw far fewer attacks and deaths brought on by jihadist groups. If these multidimensional efforts come to an end, security will certainly deteriorate.

But the policies already belong to the past. Military cooperation with France ended as soon as the junta claimed power, making room for jihadist groups [in the region]. And they could choose to follow the same path Burkina Faso or Mali’s junta took, a “fully military” approach with all of the acts of violence against civilians that come with it. That violence makes it mathematically easier for jihadist groups to recruit members. Bereaved by the army, civilians become driven by a desire for revenge.

What about the potential spread of jihadist groups in the region Liam-Tinguiri alluded to?

Beyond Niger, the Islamic State group (IS group) could benefit from the crisis by establishing a corridor between Lake Chad and the Sahel region. It would facilitate the transit of military commanders, fighters and jihadist recruits, who could replenish the ranks of the IS group in the Sahel.

 

© Studio graphique France Médias Monde

 

Al Qaeda has been standing in the way of the IS group. The two are in conflict, particularly in the three border regions [Edit: between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger].

But if the Islamic State group becomes stronger and was to gain the upper hand over al Qaeda, the doors to countries in the Gulf of Guinea would open.

If Russia’s Wagner group admit they are present in Niger, what consequences would this have?

On the ground, the Wagner group doesn’t contribute much security-wise to the junta. In the fight against jihadist groups, Niamey had no better allies than France and the US. The Russians are not efficient in that regard.

The case in Mali bears witness to this (when in 2022, French troops gradually left the country, leaving room for Russian mercenaries to take over). For the past year and a half, jihadist attacks have multiplied in the country and the IS group now has a sanctuary there. It even benefits from a no-fly zone that protects jihadist groups.

For the junta in Niger on the other hand, the drive to gain support from Wagner is political, as they need allies to stay in power. The Wagner group is not Russia, but since it works in Moscow’s interests, it’s associated with the Kremlin.

This vague relationship poses a political dilemma for France, who is asking itself: “Should we strike Wagner or not?” For the junta, the mercenary group acts as a shield against foreign intervention and strengthens them in relation to their rivals inside the country.

The US army has a drone base in northern Niger, in Agadez. If it shuts down, what consequences would that have?

The drone base is a fundamental factor. Let’s not forget that it is now impossible for a foreign presence to stay in Niger without the consent of the junta. From their point of view, tolerating a US presence would be tantamount to accepting the current situation. That is why keeping the drone base doesn’t seem like a plausible outcome [for the Junta].

Washington and Paris are fully aware of the importance of this local security bolt hole. If it breaks, others will follow.

This US drone base may be based in Niger, but it doesn’t concern the country so much as the region as a whole. It covers the entire Sahel.

 

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International pressure mounts on coup leaders in Niger

International pressure mounted Thursday against leaders of the coup in Niger as the American secretary of state said the United States “stands very much” in support of West African leaders who have threatened to use force to restore the nation’s democracy, and Senegal offered troops to help.

As hundreds of anti-French protesters rallied in the Nigerien capital in support of the ruling junta, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered general support for the regional bloc known as ECOWAS, though he did not specifically refer to its threat of military action. 

Blinken told reporters in New York that the US believes the bloc’s efforts to reinstate toppled President Mohamed Bazoum are “important, strong and have our support.”

Senegal’s foreign affairs minister said her country would participate in a military intervention if ECOWAS decides to act. “Senegalese soldiers have to go … these coups d’état must be stopped,” Aissata Tall Sall said.

Meanwhile, Niger’s military leaders sought to exploit anti-Western sentiment to shore up their takeover. The junta suspended broadcaster RFI and France 24 television from broadcasting in the country, according to the French foreign affairs ministry. The suspensions were part of the junta’s “authoritarian repression,” the ministry wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Last week’s coup toppled Bazoum, whose ascendency was Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from France in 1960. The coup stirred strident anti-French sentiment and raised questions about the future of the fight against extremism in Africa’s Sahel region, where Russia and Western countries have vied for influence.

The coup has been condemned by Western countries and the ECOWAS bloc, which has threatened to forcibly remove the junta if it does not hand back power to Bazoum. As tensions have grown in the capital of Niamey and the region, many European countries have moved to evacuate their citizens.

At Thursday’s protest organized by the junta and civil society groups on Niger’s independence day, protesters pumped their fists in the air and chanted support for neighbouring countries where militaries have also taken power in recent years. Some waved Russian flags, and one man brandished a Russian and Nigerien flag sewn together.

“For more than 13 years, the Nigerien people have suffered injustices,” protester Moctar Abdou Issa said. The junta “will get us out of this, God willing … they will free the Nigerien people.”

“We’re sick of the French,” he added.

It remains unclear whether a majority of the population supports the coup, and in many parts of the capital, people went about their lives as normal Thursday.

US President Joe Biden used the occasion of Niger’s independence day to call for Bazoum to be released and democracy restored.

“The Nigerien people have the right to choose their leaders. They have expressed their will through free and fair elections – and that must be respected,” he said in a statement.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration was still focused on diplomacy.

“We still believe there’s time and space for that. The window is not going to be open forever,” Kirby said.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, the new military ruler, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, lashed out at those who have condemned the coup and called on the population to be ready to defend the nation. He said harsh sanctions imposed last week by ECOWAS were illegal, unfair and inhuman.

ECOWAS has set a deadline of Sunday for the junta to reinstate Bazoum, who remains under house arrest.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Bazoum described himself as a hostage who was one among hundreds of citizens arbitrarily arrested. He said his nation’s security situation was improving before the coup but was now at risk because Niger would lose foreign aid and terrorist groups would take advantage of its instability.

“In our hour of need, I call on the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order,” Bazoum wrote in the piece posted online late Thursday.

After the deadline set by ECOWAS expires, the bloc is expected to decide by consensus on the next step as recommended by its defence chiefs.

At a bloc meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Brig. Gen. Tukur Ismaila Gusau, a Nigeria defence spokesman, said the defence chiefs have been asked to come up with a military solution, which they hope will be “the last option.”

The bloc’s sanctions include halting energy transactions with Niger, which gets up to 90% of its power from neighbouring Nigeria, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

France has 1,500 soldiers in Niger who conduct joint operations with its military against jihadis linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. The United States and other European countries have helped train Niger’s troops.

Niger was seen as the West’s last reliable partner in the region, but some in the country see Russia and its Wagner mercenary group, which operates in a handful of African countries, as a powerful alternative.

The new junta has not said whether it intends to ally with Moscow or stick with Niger’s Western partners, but that question has become central to the unfolding political crisis. Neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso – both ruled by juntas – have turned toward Moscow.

Ahead of Thursday’s demonstration, the French Embassy in Niamey asked Niger’s government to ensure the security of its premises after it was attacked by protesters and a door was set on fire.

The president of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, dispatched two delegations Thursday to deal with Niger’s crisis.

A group from ECOWAS headed by former Nigerian head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar was on its way to Niger. A second group led by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe went to engage with the leaders of Libya and Algeria, said Ajuri Ngelale, special adviser to the president.

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How Ukraine lost its battle for a NATO membership commitment

VILNIUS — Ukraine wanted this year’s NATO summit to end with a clear declaration that it will become an alliance member once the war ends, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is leaving Lithuania without that ultimate prize.

For weeks, Ukrainian officials pushed their counterparts in the United States and Europe to draft language that offered a timeline and clear path toward membership. The communiqué allies released Tuesday fell short of that, stating instead that “we will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine when allies agree and conditions are met.”

That line proved a deep disappointment for Kyiv, which raged behind the scenes as the U.S. and Germany resisted pressure to offer Ukraine concrete pledges. It was particularly upset at the vague reference to conditions, seeing it as a potential arbitrary roadblock to membership.

Ukraine’s leadership reached out to Washington and Berlin to make its displeasure felt, ending in Zelenskyy firing off an irritated tweet on Tuesday referring to the confidential draft text as “unprecedented and absurd.”

“It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance,” the president fumed to his 7.3 million followers. 

The battle over the communiqué left Kyiv unhappy with the process. 

Ukrainians were “disappointed with how NATO works” and felt there was “no real dialogue” with the alliance on the issue, said a Ukrainian official familiar with the negotiations. 

Ukraine’s backers, to the tune of billions in military and economic assistance, were blindsided by Zelenskyy’s anger. 

Even some of Kyiv’s closest friends within NATO were taken aback, seeing the blunt social media criticism from Ukraine’s president as unhelpful and unwarranted during the sensitive diplomatic negotiations. 

“We take the tweet as an unfortunate expression of frustration,” said a senior diplomat from Northern Europe.

The tweet, coming just as NATO leaders were preparing to meet in Vilnius, added more tension to diplomats’ last-minute efforts to finalize the contentious text, which was ultimately published on Tuesday evening. 

“We saw his tweet same time as everyone else did,” said a senior Biden administration official. “I think everyone understands the pressure he is feeling, and we’re confident that the commitments made at Vilnius will serve the long-term defense needs of Ukraine.”

Backing off

But by Wednesday, everyone was making an effort to tone down emotions. 

Officials highlighted the package NATO leaders agreed for Ukraine, which includes a multiyear program to help forces transition to Western standards and the creation of a new NATO-Ukraine Council, along with a decision to drop the need for a so-called Membership Action Plan (MAP) — a path of reforms ahead of joining.  

And in a gesture intended to underline Western governments’ backing for the Ukrainian cause, G7 leaders issued a declaration on Wednesday afternoon on long-term security commitments for Ukraine. That will see governments making bilateral deals to provide security assistance, training and other support. 

“I believe the package for Ukraine is good and a solid basis for a closer relationship on the path to membership,” said the senior diplomat from Northern Europe. 

An angry Kremlin said of the G7 action: “We believe that it’s a mistake and it can be very dangerous.”

In the end, the specter of Russia’s aggression proved to be a unifying force.

“The tweet did not change anything in that sense,” the senior diplomat said, adding that the G7 declaration was “also positive and many allies already said they will join” and that “the mood today was very warm and friendly.”

French officials, meanwhile, were keen to showcase understanding and empathy for the Ukrainian leader. 

“He’s in his role as head of a state at war and war chief. He’s putting pressure on the allies,” French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu told French TV on Tuesday. 

“You have to put yourself in his shoes, there was a commitment in Bucharest, and we know what happened next,” he added, referring to a NATO summit in 2008 when the military alliance made vague promises Ukraine would eventually become a member. 

For French President Emmanuel Macron, the Vilnius summit was a key moment to show unwavering support for Kyiv — after months of being perceived by Central and Eastern European leaders as being too conciliatory to Moscow. 

“It’s legitimate for the Ukrainian president to be demanding with us,” Macron told reporters on Wednesday. 

Bygones

On the Ukrainian side, there was also an acknowledgment that Wednesday’s talks brightened the mood. 

“The meetings with the NATO leaders were really good,” said the Ukrainian official. The country “got the clear signals that our membership in NATO will not be a bargaining chip in negotiations with Russia … this was the main fear.”

“So, despite the lack of clarity in the text of declaration on Ukraine’s membership path, the meetings showed that there is the commitment to deepen the relations,” the official said. But, they noted: “Of course, it’s not the same as clear fixed commitment in the joint declaration.” 

Zelenskyy himself, who was in Vilnius to attend the first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, also took a more positive tone in press appearances, expressing his thanks for the decision to drop the MAP requirement, gratitude for allies and praising the G7 commitments. 

“I haven’t changed my point of view,” he insisted when probed about the difference in tone from the previous day.

“What’s most important is that we have a common understanding on the conditions on when and under which conditions Ukraine would be in NATO — maybe not all the details were communicated, but for me it was very important that it depends on the security.”

And asked about fears in Kyiv that NATO membership could end up as a chip in future negotiations with Russia, he was firm that this would not be acceptable. 

“I’m sure that there won’t be betrayal from [U.S. President Joe] Biden or [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz,” Zelenskyy said, “but still I need to say that we will never exchange any status for any of our territories — even if it’s only one village with the population of one old man.”

Speaking to a crowd in Vilnius on Wednesday evening, Biden stressed that the West is there for Kyiv. 

“We will not waver. I mean that. Our commitment to Ukraine will not weaken,” Biden said.

And as the summit wrapped up, many officials were quick to try to put the tensions behind them. 

“I consider this episode closed,” said a senior diplomat from Eastern Europe. “It is more important to look forward. We have a process in front of us. Let’s work on it!” 

“It’s all ended well,” quipped a senior NATO official, adding: “that will do for me” 

Laura Kayali and Alex Ward contributed reporting.



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Putin’s media machine turns on ‘traitor’ Prigozhin

From national hero to drug-addled, bewigged zero: the Kremlin’s propaganda machine has turned against Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.

In a sensational report on state-run Rossiya-1’s “60 Minutes” program on Wednesday evening, the Kremlin’s propaganda attack dogs played footage of what they claimed was a raid of Prigozhin’s mansion and offices, showing cash, guns, drugs, a helicopter, multiple (Russian) passports — and a closet full of terrible wigs.

“The investigation is continuing,” said pundit Eduard Petrov at the top of the program, referring to the probe into the mutiny led by Prigozhin last month, during which the leader of the Wagner Group of mercenaries marched his men to within 200 kilometers of Moscow in a bid to oust the country’s military leadership. “In reality, no one planned to close this case,” he added.

It was an open declaration of war on Prigozhin, and came after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his aides issued improbable assurances that the criminal case into those who had organized the mutiny would be dropped if the warlord and his Wagnerites agreed to either disarm, sign contracts with the Russian defense ministry, or leave for Belarus. On Thursday morning, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who ostensibly negotiated the exile agreement with Prigozhin and Putin, told state media the warlord was not in the country.

“We need to figure out who was on whose side,” Petrov pronounced on “60 Minutes.” “Who was on the mutineers’ side? They should be punished and brought to criminal justice. So the nation understands that if a person acts against their government, they will be punished very, very harshly. Not ‘see you later, I’m going out.’”

“Tomes” of evidence is being combed over by Russian authorities, a gloating Petrov told the audience of the evening show. “Very soon, very very soon, we will hear what stage the criminal case is at.”

Cue: Footage — obtained from unnamed siloviki (a term used to describe members of the military or security services) — of Russia’s special forces raiding what Petrov described as Prigozhin’s “nest” — aka the offices of his now-shuttered Patriot Media company, and his palatial home.

“I believe the image of Yevgeny Prigozhin as a champion of the people was entirely created by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s well-fed media empire,” Petrov said contemptuously and seemingly unironically — never mind that Rossiya-1 itself portrayed Prigozhin as a hero mere weeks ago.

Remaking a murder

Until recently, the Kremlin’s propagandists painted Prigozhin, a 62-year-old one-time caterer and convicted felon, as a macho hero, a Russian Rambo decapitating traitors with sledgehammers on the front line.

Things got complicated when Prigozhin began publicly railing against Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, ranting and raging to his growing cadre of devoted fans on social media.

Still, Prigozhin never criticized Putin, and Putin allowed Prigozhin to continue building his brand, so long as his men kept holding down the fort in the most brutal battles in the war on Ukraine. Then Prigozhin crossed the line by marching his men on Moscow.

Putin’s retribution was always going to be brutal — first, though, he’s destroying Prigozhin’s image and undermining his reputation.

Back to Wednesday night’s “60 Minutes.”

“Why did we forget about Prigozhin’s past?” an impassioned Petrov asked. “Everyone knew about it. Everyone talked about it. Spoke about the fact that he has been on trial twice. His criminal past.”

Showing footage of what he said was Prigozhin’s 600 million ruble (€6 million) mansion, Petrov crowed: “Let’s see how this champion of the truth lived — a twice-convicted champion — a champion who spoke about how everyone around him is stealing.

“Inside Yevgeny Prigozhin’s little house there’s currency lying around like this, in a box, held together by rubber bands,” Petrov continued. “Now let’s see the palace of the fighter of corruption and criminality, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Here’s his palace. Here’s his house. His daughter sometimes posts videos from here, by the way — and she’s not always in good condition.”

Then, the pièce de résistance of the video: a closet full of bad wigs.

“Oh!” exclaimed Petrov as the footage rolled. “This is a closet full of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s secrets — wigs! Why does he need wigs at his house?”

It wasn’t long until Telegram, the social media platform popular among Russians, was flooded with photos of Prigozhin in a variety of wigs and disguises. (Though intriguingly, the photos appeared to come from a Prigozhin-friendly account called “Release the Kraken,” which said it had sourced them from the Patriot Media archive.)

The program also aired footage of what Petrov speculated were drugs found in Prigozhin’s mansion. A Prigozhin-friendly Telegram account which has previously featured voice messages from the warlord himself denied the house in the video belonged to Prigozhin, and claimed the “drugs” were actually laundry detergent.

Divide and conquer

Wednesday night’s program was also designed to reassure Russians that not all Wagner fighters were traitors and mutineers — with his war effort stuttering, Putin can’t afford to lose tens of thousands of men from the front.

“There were worthy people in Wagner,” Petrov insisted — moments after a diatribe about Prigozhin recruiting some of Russia’s worst criminals into the mercenary army’s ranks.

“The majority!” cut in “60 Minutes” host Yevgeny Popov. “The majority of people acted heroically, took cities, served in good faith … and bought their freedom with blood.”

“What’s absolutely clear: Prigozhin is a traitor,” Popov continued. “But Wagnerites — the majority of them are heroic people who with guns in hand defended our motherland. And many of them were lied to.”

Referring to Prigozhin’s Concord catering company and other businesses that Putin admitted were fully funded by the Russian state, Popov said the warlord had received “billions in contracts.”

And seeking to cleave Prigozhin’s men from their exiled boss, Petrov said: “The question is whether this money reached the fighters and heroes of Wagner!”

Translation: Watch your back, Yevgeny.



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West after Wagner rebellion: Talk softly and help Ukraine carry a bigger stick

As the United States and its European allies work to make sense of last weekend’s chaos in the Kremlin, they’re urging Kyiv to seize a “window” of opportunity that could help its counteroffensive push through Russian positions.

The forming response: Transatlantic allies are hoping, largely by keeping silent, to de-escalate the immediate political crisis while quietly pushing Ukraine to strike a devastating blow against Russia on the battlefield. It’s best to hit an enemy while it’s down, and Kyiv would be hard-pressed to find a more wounded Russia, militarily and politically, than it is right now. 

In public, American and European leaders stressed that they are preparing for any outcome, as it still remained unclear where the mercenary rebellion would ultimately lead. Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the revolt, resurfaced on Monday, claiming he had merely wanted to protest, not topple the Russian government — while simultaneously insisting his paramilitary force would remain operational. 

“It’s still too early to reach a definitive conclusion about where this is going,” U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday afternoon. “The overall outcome of this remains to be seen.” 

For the moment, European officials see no greater threat to the Continent even as they watch for signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two-decade hold on power might be slipping. 

Western allies attribute the relative calm to how they managed Prigozhin’s 24-hour tantrum. 

During the fighting, senior Biden administration figures and their European counterparts agreed on calls that they should remain “silent” and “neutral” about the mutiny, said three U.S. and European officials, who like others were granted anonymity to discuss fast-moving and sensitive deliberations.

In Monday’s meeting of top EU diplomats in Luxembourg, officials from multiple countries acted with a little-to-see-here attitude. No one wanted to give the Kremlin an opening to claim Washington and its friends were behind the Wagner Group’s targeting of senior Russian military officials. 

“We made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it,” Biden said from the White House Monday, relaying the transatlantic message. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled on Monday that his regime would still look into the potential involvement of Western spies in the rebellion.

The broader question is how, or even if, the unprecedented moment could reverse Ukraine’s fortunes as its counteroffensive stalls.

The U.S. and some European nations have urged Ukraine for weeks to move faster and harder on the front lines. The criticism is that Kyiv has acted too cautiously, waiting for perfect weather conditions and other factors to align before striking Russia’s dug-in fortifications. 

Now, with Moscow’s political and military weaknesses laid bare, there’s a “window” for Ukraine to push through the first defensive positions, a U.S. official said. Others in the U.S. and Europe assess that Russian troops might lay down their arms if Ukraine gets the upper hand while command and control problems from the Kremlin persist.

“Russia does not appear to have the uncommitted ground forces needed to counter the multiple threats it is now facing from Ukraine, which extend over 200 kilometers [124 miles] from Bakhmut to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River,” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in the House of Commons Monday.

Ukrainian officials say there’s no purposeful delay on their part. Russia’s air power, literal minefields and bad weather have impeded Kyiv’s advances, they insist, conceding that they do wish they could move faster. 

“We’re still moving forward in different parts of the front line,” Yuri Sak, an adviser to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, said in an interview.

“Earlier it was not possible to assess the solidity of the Russian defenses,” Sak added. “Only now that we are doing active probing operations, we get a better picture. The obtained information will be factored into the next stages of our offensive operations.”

Analysts have long warned that, despite the training Ukrainian forces have received from Western militaries, it was unlikely that they would fight just like a NATO force. Kyiv is still operating with a strategy of attrition despite recent drills on combined-arms operations, maneuver warfare and longer-range precision fires.

During Monday’s gathering of top EU diplomats, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said now was the time to pump more artillery systems and missiles into Kyiv’s arsenal, place more sanctions on Russia and speed up the training of Ukrainian pilots on advanced fighter jets. 

“Together, all these steps will allow the liberation of all Ukrainian territories,” he asserted.

In the meantime, European officials will keep an eye on Russia as they consider NATO’s own security. 

“I think that nobody has yet understood what is going on in Russia — frankly I have a feeling also that the leadership in Moscow has no clue what is going on in their own country,” quipped Latvia’s Foreign Minister and President-elect Edgars Rinkēvičs in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. 

“We are prepared, as we always would be, for a range of scenarios,” U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters Monday.

NATO allies will continue to watch for whether Russia starts to crumble or if the autocrat atop the Kremlin can hold his nation together with spit and tape. 

“The question is how Putin will now react to his public humiliation. His reaction — to save his face and reestablish his authority — may well be a further crackdown on any domestic dissent and an intensified war effort in Ukraine,” said a Central European defense official. The official added that there’s no belief Putin will reach for a nuclear option during the greatest threat to his rule in two decades.

In the meantime, an Eastern European senior diplomat said, “we will increase monitoring, possibly our national vigilance and intelligence efforts. Additional border protection measures might be feasible. We need more allied forces in place.”

Alexander Ward reported from Washington. Lili Bayer reported from Brussels. Suzanne Lynch reported from Luxembourg. Cristina Gallardo reported from London. 



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You’re up, Joe: Europe awaits Biden’s nod on next NATO chief

Europe is waiting for white smoke from Washington. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will visit the White House on Tuesday, part of a trip that could determine whether he stays on at the helm of the Western military alliance or if the U.S. will back a new candidate. 

For months now, Europe has been locked in an endless parlor game over who might replace Stoltenberg, who is slated to leave his already-extended term in September after nearly 10 years at the helm.

Candidates have risen, fallen and risen again, while some desired successors have repeatedly proclaimed themselves not interested. Diplomats at NATO headquarters in Brussels will put forth one theory, only to offer a different one in the next sentence.

Throughout it all, the U.S. has stayed noticeably mum on the subject, merely indicating President Joe Biden hasn’t settled on a candidate and effusively praising Stoltenberg’s work. Yet Biden can’t sit on the fence forever. While the NATO chief is technically chosen by consensus, the White House’s endorsement carries heavy weight.

The foot-dragging has left NATO in limbo: while some members say it’s high time for a fresh face, the NATO job — traditionally reserved for a European — has become highly sensitive. There are few senior European leaders who are both available and can win the backing of all 31 alliance members for the high-profile post. 

The result is that all eyes have turned to Washington as the clock ticks down to NATO’s annual summit in July — a sort of deadline for the alliance to make a decision on its next (or extended) leader. 

“I would not be 100 percent sure that the list is closed,” said one senior diplomat from Central Europe, who like others was granted anonymity to discuss alliance dynamics. “There might be,” the diplomat added, “a last-minute extension initiative.”  

Shadow contest

Diplomats are divided on what will happen in the NATO leadership sweepstakes. 

While many candidates still insist they are not in the running — and Stoltenberg has repeatedly said he plans to go home to Norway, where he was prime minister — all options appear to remain on the table.  

In recent days, the two possible contenders mentioned most often in diplomatic circles are Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Frederiksen met with Biden at the White House last week, turbocharging speculation about her future. As a female leader from a European Union country that is a strong Ukraine supporter but not a full-on hawk, the Danish leader checks off many boxes for some of the alliance’s most influential members. 

Yet speaking to reporters in Washington, she insisted, “I am not a candidate for any other job than the one I have now, and this has not changed after my meeting with the U.S. president.” 

In NATO circles, however, the narrative is different. Four European diplomats said Frederiksen’s name is still circulating as a serious contender for the post. 

Still, Frederiksen faces challenges: Denmark already had the top NATO job less than a decade ago. And not everyone is totally enthusiastic. 

“The Turks might want to block the Danish candidate,” said the senior Central European diplomat. “There is some distance to this idea (not to Frederiksen personally) also elsewhere in the east and in the south, and some of those countries might even join a potential blockade.”

Turkey summoned the Danish envoy in Ankara earlier this year after a far-right group burned a Quran and Turkish flag in Copenhagen. More broadly, the Turkish government has taken issue with a number of northern European countries and is still blocking Sweden’s NATO accession bid.

Asked about possible opposition to the Danish leader from Ankara, however, a Turkish official said: “It is gossip, period. We have never been asked about her candidacy!”

Britain’s Wallace, on the other hand, has openly expressed interest in the NATO job. 

But he faces an uphill battle. Many allies would prefer to see a former head of government in the role. And some EU capitals have signaled they would oppose a non-EU candidate. 

Asked last week if it’s time for a British secretary-general, Biden was lukewarm. 

“Maybe. That remains to be seen,” the president said. “We’re going to have to get a consensus within NATO to see that happen. They have a candidate who’s a very qualified individual. But we’re going to have — we have a lot of discussion, not between us, but in NATO, to determine what the outcome of that will be.” 

A number of other names — including Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez — are still occasionally mentioned, although less frequently. Sánchez, for his part, could soon be in the market for a new job as he faces a tough election in July. 

Some diplomats simply aren’t crazy about any of the leading options.

“I don’t feel it,” said a senior NATO diplomat, also speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations. The diplomat argued the “most likely” scenario is yet another short extension for Stoltenberg and a need to then “refresh” the list of candidates. 

The senior diplomat from Central Europe argued that “the EU core” — some of the bloc’s most influential capitals — might be in favor of an extension that would sync up the NATO chief talks with the EU’s upcoming leadership reshuffle after the EU’s June 2024 elections. Combining the two could open the door to more political horse trading. 

But asked last month about his future, Stoltenberg said: “I have made it clear that I have no other plans than to leave this fall. I will already have been almost twice as long as originally planned.”

Others insisted they remained upbeat about the names on the table. 

Both Frederiksen and Wallace, said one senior northern European diplomat, “seem well qualified.” 

A senior diplomat from Eastern Europe bet on a new NATO chief soon. 

“I think,” the diplomat said, “we are moving closer to the replacement than extension.”

Eli Stokols contributed reporting.



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Unsealed Trump indictment paints a very disturbing picture (Jonathan Turley calls it ‘extremely damning’)

Earlier today, to celebrate Donald Trump being indicted for a second time — this time for allegedly mishandling classified documents — Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to gloat about how she had escaped facing any real consequences for also mishandling classified documents.

Hillary’s tweet was annoying and obnoxious and, quite frankly, just a bad idea. But that should not and cannot distract from the mess of trouble that Donald Trump currently finds himself in. Details of the indictment have just been released, and let’s just say Mr. Trump has got some major ‘splainin’ to do.

We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that two members of Trump’s legal team resigned this morning.

They probably really want to be on the hook to defend Trump right now but something else just came up.

Yiiiiiikes.

It really is. Except this isn’t funny at all.

This looks pretty bad for Trump, you guys. Not gonna lie.

And if it’s as bad as it looks, Trump absolutely deserves to face the music.

The allegations suggest not only gross impropriety but also jeopardization of our national security.

They might actually have nailed Trump this time.

If any of these allegations are true, there’s really no defending Donald Trump anymore. There’s simply no moral leg to stand on at that point to support him.

That’s just the reality of the situation, inconvenient as it may be for Trump and his supporters.

What’s interesting, though, is that the liberals and journalists that are reveling in these revelations still need Trump to be the 2024 GOP nominee. If this indictment ultimately takes him down, they’ll likely have Ron DeSantis to contend with, and he’s poised to absolutely wipe the floor with Biden. They should’ve learned by now to be careful what they wish for.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with an additional tweet.

***

Related:

Rep. Jim Jordan shares new information about Trump raid, FBI and indictment

***

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2001 Anthrax Attacks Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here’s a look at the 2001 anthrax attacks, also referred to as Amerithrax.

There are four types of anthrax infection: cutaneous (through the skin), inhalation (through the lungs; the most deadly), gastrointestinal (through digestion) and injection anthrax. Injection anthrax is common in heroin-injecting users in northern Europe. This has never been reported in the United States.

Anthrax can be contracted by handling products from infected animals or by breathing in anthrax spores and by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.

It has been blamed for several plagues over the ages that killed both humans and livestock. It emerged in World War I as a biological weapon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes anthrax as a Category A agent: one that poses the greatest possible threat for a negative impact on public health; one that may spread across a large area or need public awareness and requires planning to protect the public’s health.

Read more: America’s long and frightening history of attacks by mail

Five people died and 17 people were sickened during anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001; outbreak is often referred to as Amerithrax.

Anthrax was sent via anonymous letters to news agencies in Florida and New York and a congressional office building in Washington, DC.

Of the five victims who died of inhalation anthrax, two were postal workers. The other three victims were an elderly woman from rural Connecticut, a Manhattan hospital worker from the Bronx and an employee at a Florida tabloid magazine who may have contracted anthrax through cross-contamination.

The letters were sent to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and the New York Post offices. The letters were postmarked Trenton, New Jersey.

No arrests were made in the attacks.

The FBI has interviewed more than 10,000 people and issued more than 6,000 subpoenas in the case.

4.8 million masks and 88 million gloves were purchased by the Postal Service for its employees, and 300 postal facilities were tested for anthrax.

Over 32,000 people took antibiotics after possible exposure to anthrax.

Stevens, Bob – photo editor at American Media Inc, died of inhalation anthrax, October 5, 2001

Morris, Thomas Jr. – DC postal worker, died of inhalation anthrax, October 21, 2001

Curseen, Joseph Jr. – DC area postal worker, died of inhalation anthrax, October 22, 2001

Nguyen, Kathy – employee at Manhattan hospital, died of inhalation anthrax, October 31, 2001

Lundgren, Ottilie – Connecticut woman, died of inhalation anthrax, November 22, 2001

October 5, 2001 – Sun photo editor Stevens dies of inhalation anthrax.

October 12, 2001 – NBC News announces that an employee has contracted anthrax.

October 15, 2001 – A letter postmarked Trenton, New Jersey, opened by an employee of Senate Majority Leader Daschle contains white powdery substance later found to be “weapons grade” strain of anthrax spores. More than two dozen people in Daschle’s office test positive for anthrax after the envelope is discovered.

October 19, 2001 – An unopened letter tainted with anthrax is found in the offices of the New York Post. One Post employee is confirmed to have a cutaneous infection and a second shows symptoms of the same infection.

October 21, 2001 – DC postal worker Morris Jr. dies of inhalation anthrax.

October 22, 2001 – DC postal worker Curseen dies of inhalation anthrax.

October 31, 2001 – Nguyen, a stockroom worker for the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, dies of inhalation anthrax.

November 9, 2001 The FBI releases a behavioral profile of the suspect, who is probably a male loner and might work in a laboratory.

November 16, 2001 – A letter sent to Senator Leahy is found to contain anthrax. The letter is among those at the Capitol that has been quarantined. The letter contains at least 23,000 anthrax spores and is postmarked October 9, in Trenton, New Jersey.

November 22, 2001 – Lundgren, a 94-year-old Connecticut woman, dies of inhalation anthrax.

January 2002 – FBI agents interview former US Army bioweapons scientist Steven Hatfill as part of the anthrax investigation.

June 2002 – Bioweapons researcher Hatfill is named a “person of interest” by the FBI.

June 25, 2002 – The FBI searches Hatfill’s Maryland apartment and Florida storage locker with his consent.

June 27, 2002 The FBI says it is focusing on 30 biological weapons experts in its probe.

August 1, 2002 – The FBI uses a criminal search warrant to search Hatfill’s Maryland apartment and Florida storage locker a second time; anthrax swab tests come back negative.

August 6, 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft refers to Hatfill as a “person of interest.”

August 11, 2002 – Hatfill holds a press conference declaring his innocence. He holds a second one on August 25, 2002.

September 11, 2002The FBI searches Hatfill’s former apartment in Maryland for the third time.

August 26, 2003 – Hatfill files a civil lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and the FBI claiming his constitutional rights have been violated. The suit alleges violations of Hatfill’s Fifth Amendment rights by preventing him from earning a living, violations of his Fifth Amendment rights by retaliating against him after he sought to have his name cleared in the anthrax probe and the disclosure of information from his FBI file. The suit also seeks an undetermined amount of monetary damages.

July 11, 2004 – The former headquarters of American Media, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida, where Stevens contracted the anthrax is pumped full of chlorine dioxide gas for decontamination. This was the last building exposed to anthrax in the fall of 2001.

June 27, 2008 – The Justice Department reaches a settlement with Hatfill. The settlement requires the Justice Department to pay Hatfill a one-time payment of $2.825 million and to buy a $3 million annuity that will pay Hatfill $150,000 a year for 20 years. In return, Hatfill drops his lawsuit, and the government admits no wrongdoing.

July 29, 2008Bruce Ivins, a former researcher at the Army’s bioweapons laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, dies after overdosing during a suicide attempt on July 27.

August 6, 2008 – Judge unseals and releases hundreds of documents in the 2001 FBI Anthrax investigation that detail Ivins’ role in the attacks.

August 8, 2008The Justice Department formally exonerates Hatfill.

September 25, 2008 – The court releases more documents including emails that Ivins sent to himself.

February 19, 2010 – The Justice Department, FBI and US Postal Inspection Service announce its investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings is at an end.

March 23, 2011 – A report, entitled The Amerithrax Case, is released through the Research Strategies Network, a non-profit think tank based in Virginia. According to the report, old mental health records suggest Ivins should have been prevented from holding a job at a US Army research facility in Maryland. The report was requested by the US Department of Justice.

October 9, 2011 – The New York Times reports indicate there are scientists questioning the FBI assertions regarding Ivins. Possibly Ivins, if he was involved, worked with a partner. Also, the scientists say the presence of tin in the dried anthrax warrants that the investigation be reopened.

November 23, 2011 – The Justice Department settles for $2.5 million with Stevens’ family. The family originally sued for $50 million in 2003, arguing that the military laboratory should have had tighter security.

December 19, 2014 – The Government Accountability Office releases a 77-page report reviewing the genetic testing used by the FBI during the investigation into the anthrax attacks.

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