Austria cannot answer what an ‘Austrian soldier’ is doing in Ukraine
Images that surfaced recently sparked considerable controversy: they depicted a soldier adorning the military’s “Field Suit 75” [Feldanzug 75 in German], handling ammunition boxes in Ukraine. This incited the FPÖ [Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs or Freedom Party of Austria in English] to pose a parliamentary inquiry regarding the potential involvement of Austrian soldiers in the conflict. However, the response they received was notably ambiguous.
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The situation teeters precariously on the brink of immense sensitivity: an alleged involvement of an Austrian soldier or militia combatant, outfitted in the distinctive “Field Suit 75”, in direct combat operations against the formidable Russian military, would unequivocally thrust the Republic into a profound neutrality crisis. As was reported in the earlier part of June, visual evidence in the form of a video has surfaced, unambiguously portraying a soldier, who is ostensibly a part of the Ukrainian armed forces, garbed in an Austrian “Feldkleid 75”. The Austrian national emblem, emblazoned on the left sleeve of the jacket, is discernible even to the untrained eye.
The audiovisual material disseminated by eXXpress, depicting a somewhat older and bearded soldier clad in military attire, elicited a response from the FPÖ. This response was borne out of worry over potential breaches of its neutrality stance. Consequently, a parliamentary inquiry was lodged with Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner, a prominent member of the ÖVP – Österreichische Volkspartei, or the Austrian People’s Party in English. The crux of the inquiry demanded elucidation from the ministry regarding the identity of the individual in the Austrian uniform seen aiding the Ukrainian army in ammunition loading operations.
There is no clear recognition
The FPÖ has since obtained a response from the minister, albeit one containing minimal tangible details. The correspondence suggests, without certainty, that the attire in question could potentially be a “Field Suit 75” from the Federal Army. The uniform jacket, however, remains “unidentifiable” in the image and the individual donning it remains “unknown”.
Notwithstanding, the likelihood of a Ukrainian soldier casually attaching the Austrian federal eagle to the sleeve of his olive-green uniform appears to be significantly low, as articulated by Richard Schmitt in his eXXpress article.
In response to the queries posed by the Freedom Party, the ministry refrains from providing detailed answers, invoking the protections of Article 20 of the Federal Constitution, which pertains to official confidentiality. It is, however, permissible to disclose that at the present moment, the Austrian Armed Forces have only two of their members stationed in Ukraine. These comprise the defense attaché and a non-commissioned officer.
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
On the 21st of February, 2022, allegations emerged from Russia, asserting that a border facility under the jurisdiction of their Federal Security Service [FSB] had been decimated due to an aggressive shelling operation purportedly executed by Ukrainian forces. According to the Russian authorities, this unexpected and violent incursion resulted in the unfortunate demise of five Ukrainian combatants.
Ukraine, however, vehemently repudiated involvement in both occurrences, categorizing them as nothing more than deceptive maneuvers, or ‘false flags’.
In a significant development on the very day, the Russian government extended formal recognition to the self-proclaimed entities of DPR and LPR. This recognition, as per Putin, was not confined merely to the territories under their de-facto control, but encompassed the entire Ukrainian Oblasts. In an ensuing move, Putin commanded the mobilization of Russian military forces, inclusive of tanks, into the said regions.
In a significant geopolitical development on the 24th of February, 2022, President Vladimir Putin of Russia commanded an aggressive military invasion into Ukraine. This act of aggression was executed by Russia’s formidable Armed Forces, which had been strategically amassed along the Ukrainian border in a show of ominous intent.
This invasion was not a random act of violence, but a meticulously planned operation, characterized by precise airstrikes that targeted key military infrastructures within the Ukrainian territory. Concurrently, an armored division of tanks rolled in from the Belarusian frontier, further intensifying the scale and impact of the offensive.
The Russian administration thus far has refrained from acknowledging the ongoing incursion into Ukraine as a “war”. This, despite the fact that the unfolding events bear all the hallmarks of a military conflict. Instead, the Kremlin insists on terming it a “special military operation”.
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