Ukraine demands speedier weapons deliveries from West to confront Russian pressure
Ukraine insisted the West must speed up its supply of weapons, with the city of Dnipro reeling from a Russian missile strike that killed at least 40 people in an apartment block and Ukrainian troops under increased pressure on the eastern front.
Ukraine's army General Staff said on Monday that Russian artillery pounded about 25 towns and villages around Bakhmut and Avdiika, the two focal points of Russian attempts to advance in the strategic eastern industrial Donbas region.
It said Russia also kept up shelling of more than 30 settlements in the northeast Kharkiv and Sumy areas near the Russian border. In the south, Russian mortar and artillery fire hit several towns, including the regional capital, Kherson, which Russian forces abandoned in November.
Reuters was not able to verify battlefield reports.
"Very heavy fighting is continuing in the two key sectors of... Bakhmut and Avdiivka," Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said on YouTube. "The enemy is attacking constantly and around the clock. And we are trying to maintain our positions. Russian troops are active at night - we are in great need of night vision equipment."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his Monday night video address that the attack on Dnipro and Russia's attempts to gain the initiative in the war underscored the need for the West "to speed up decision-making" in supplying weapons.
Western countries have produced a steady supply of weapons to Ukraine since Russian forces invaded last Feb. 24 but Zelenskiy and his government are insisting they need tanks.
Britain confirmed on Monday it was going to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks and other hardware, including hundreds more armoured vehicles and advanced air defence missiles.
Germany is under pressure to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but its government says such tanks should be supplied only if there is agreement among Kyiv's main allies, particularly the United States.
Oleskiy Danylov, Secretary of Ukraine's Security Council, also mentioned on Monday night the need for an acceleration in weapons supplies because the government expected Russia "to attempt to make a so-called final push."
Danylov told Ukrainian television that could take place on the invasion's anniversary or in March.
"We must prepare for such events every day. And we are preparing ... The first and last question is always about weapons, aid to help us defeat this aggressor that invaded our country," Danylov said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was to host allies at an air base in Germany on Friday to discuss further aid for Ukraine.
Russia calls its actions a "special military operation" to protect its security because its neighbour grew increasingly close to the West. Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of an unprovoked war to grab territory and to erase the independence of a fellow ex-Soviet republic.
Russia's invasion has displaced millions, killed thousands of civilians and left Ukrainian cities, towns and villages in ruins. Kyiv and its allies have also accused Russia of the large-scale deportation of Ukrainians.
Zelenskiy called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) on Monday to do more about Ukrainians he says have been forcibly taken to Russia.
The OSCE is the world's largest regional security organisation, consisting of 57 states, such as the United States, all European states, including Russia and all states of the former Soviet Union.
"No international organisation has found the strength to gain access to the places of detention of our prisoners in Russia yet. This must be corrected," he said.
The U.S. State Department estimated last year that between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including 260,000 children, have been forcibly deported into Russian territory.
Russia denies deportations and says those arriving are war refugees. In November, the country's emergency ministry said that some 4.8 million Ukrainians, including 712,000 children, had arrived in Russia since February.
NATO waging ‘proxy war’ against Russia – Croatian president
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has claimed NATO, a military bloc of which Zagreb is a member, is waging a “proxy war” against Moscow in Ukraine. He also dismissed sanctions against Moscow as “nonsense,” adding that he does not want to be an “American slave.”
Speaking to Croatian reporters in the city of Vukovar on Sunday, Milanovic said, among other things: “Washington and NATO are waging a proxy war against Russia through Ukraine,” as quoted by media outlet Istra24.
He went on to argue that “The plan cannot be to remove Putin. The plan cannot be sanctions,” adding that such punitive measures are “nonsense and we will not achieve anything with them.”
“They go from war to war. And what should I be? An American slave?” Croatia's president asked rhetorically.
Milanovic voiced his frustration with the US-led military bloc’s policies in the same interview in which he tore into Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, over his latest Ukraine-related remark.
Speaking to news channel France 24 on Saturday, Plenkovic said the Balkan nation’s lawmakers, who in mid-December didn't support the EU’s program to train Ukrainian military personnel in member states, have “failed to be on the right side of history.”
Commenting on the remark, Milanovic, in turn, slammed the premier for bringing “disgrace” to his country “and to its democratic representatives in front of others.” The Croatian president argued that this kind of behavior reaches a low that is “the bottom of the bottom.”
As for the EU’s mission, the Croatian president warned that it effectively means that “for the first time in its history, the EU is participating in a war.” This, according to Milanovic, is “against the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.”
In December 2022, Milanovic argued that having Ukrainian service members train on Croatian soil would “bring war” to the Balkan nation.
He also insisted at the time that “Ukraine is not an ally,” criticizing Brussels’ decision last June to grant Kiev candidate status as “cynical.”
** Zelensky is destroying Ukraine – exiled opposition leader
The policies of President Vladimir Zelensky's government – based on hatred and intransigence towards Russia – are inevitably driving Ukraine into poverty, the former parliamentary opposition leader has warned.
Viktor Medvedchuk, who was forced into exile after being arrested by the SBU (the successor agency to the Soviet KGB), claims that Kiev is encouraging the same approach in other European states. He believes that such dangerous sentiment could even lead to an eventual nuclear standoff.
Medvedchuk’s political party was the second largest in the current Ukrainian parliament, before it was banned last year. The rump of the faction is now closely controlled by Zelensky's "Servant of the People" group.
As part of his crackdown on dissent, the President personally targeted Medvedchuk, who was a proponent of reconciliation with Russia, the latter has claimed in an article published on Monday in Russian newspaper Izvestia, in which he gives his view on the roots of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Both Zelensky and his predecessor Pyotr Poroshenko had been elected after the 2014 coup in Kiev on a platform of peace, and each made a U-turn after getting into office, Medvedchuk pointed out. He argued that this shows a pattern of betrayal of the Ukrainian people by its leadership and by what he termed a “party of war.”
Being enemies with Russia is against Ukraine’s economic interests, Medvedchuk asserted. Not only is Russia a major market and source of raw materials from which Ukraine can benefit, the country’s industrial sector was mostly in the east and people there, who for historic reasons have ties to Moscow, were antagonized by Kiev. Economic ruination is an inevitable consequence of the conflict, the politician wrote.
“It is no longer [Western] Europe that teaches Ukraine politics, but Ukraine that teaches Europe how to achieve economic decline and poverty with the help of a policy of hatred and intransigence. And if Europe continues to support this policy, it will be dragged into a war, possibly a nuclear one,” he warned.
He accused Western nations of hailing the incumbent Ukrainian government for “victory after victory, while no military breakthroughs are observed,” referring to the parades that generals in Ancient Rome were given after major victories. Meanwhile, the “party of peace” has no voice either at home or abroad, Medvedchuk lamented.
“This eloquently suggests that most US and European politicians do not want any peace for Ukraine. But this does not mean at all that Ukrainians do not want peace, and that Zelensky’s military triumph is more important to them than their lives and destroyed homes.” he reasoned.
Only when pro-peace politicians are allowed to make their case freely can there be hope to resolve the situation, Medvedchuk believes.
** Russian forces destroy two US-made counter-battery radars in Ukraine operation
Russian forces destroyed two US-made counter-battery radars in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics over the past day during the special military operation in Ukraine, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Monday.
"In the counter-battery warfare, two US-made counter-battery radar stations were destroyed: an AN/TPQ-37 near the locality of Karmazinovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic and an AN/TPQ-50 near the community of Avdeyevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.
Russian forces destroyed a Grad multiple launch rocket system and a 2A36 Giatsint-B howitzer in the counter-battery warfare in the Donetsk People’s Republic over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
"In the counter-battery warfare, a Ukrainian Grad multiple rocket launcher and a 2A36 Giatsint-B howitzer were obliterated near the settlement of Avdeyevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, along with a D-30 howitzer near the locality of Antonovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.
In addition, Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian 2A65 Msta-B howitzer and a 2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer in areas near the settlements of Zaliznichnoye and Orekhovo in the Zaporozhye Region. They also eradicated a 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer near the locality of Inzhenernoye in the Kherson Region, the general added.
Russian forces destroyed over 30 Ukrainian troops in the Kupyansk area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
Army aviation aircraft and artillery of Russia’s Western Military District struck the Ukrainian army’s 92nd mechanized brigade and 103rd territorial defense brigade near the localities of Sinkovka and Berestovoye in the Kharkov Region, the spokesman said.
"Over 30 Ukrainian troops, two armored combat vehicles and three motor vehicles were destroyed," the general specified.
Russian artillery struck amassed Ukrainian manpower in the Krasny Liman area, destroying over 75 enemy troops and nine military vehicles over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
"In the Krasny Liman area, artillery units of the Central Military District delivered strikes on amassed manpower of the Ukrainian army’s 95th air assault brigade and 125th territorial defense brigade near the localities of Serebryanka and Terny in the Donetsk People’s Republic, eliminating over 75 Ukrainian servicemen, three tanks, five armored combat vehicles and a pickup truck," the spokesman said.
Russian forces eliminated over 50 Ukrainian troops in their advance in the Donetsk area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
"In the Donetsk area, units of the Southern Military District continue their offensive operations in interaction with Airborne Force units. In the past 24 hours, they eliminated over 50 Ukrainian troops, an armored personnel carrier and eight motor vehicles in that area," the spokesman said.
Russian forces struck two Ukrainian army brigades in the Zaporozhye Region and the Donetsk People’s Republic in the southern Donetsk direction, eliminating roughly 30 militants over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
"In the southern Donetsk direction, units of the Eastern Military District inflicted damage by combined firepower on the Ukrainian army’s 65th motorized infantry brigade near the locality of Stepovoye in the Zaporozhye Region and 108th territorial defense brigade near the community of Novosyolka in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.
Russian forces destroyed as many as 30 Ukrainian troops, an armored combat vehicle and two pickup trucks in that area over the past 24 hours, the general specified.
Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian arms depot and a hangar of military equipment over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
"Russian operational-tactical and army aviation aircraft, missile troops and artillery struck a Ukrainian armament, military and special hardware depot near the settlement of Krasny Liman in the Donetsk People’s Republic, a hangar of military equipment of the Ukrainian National Guard’s 9th special operations regiment near the community of Malokaterinovka in the Zaporozhye Region, and also 79 artillery units at firing positions, manpower and military hardware in 101 areas," the spokesman said.
Russian air defense forces intercepted seven HIMARS and Uragan rockets over the past day, Konashenkov reported.
"In the past 24 hours, air defense capabilities destroyed three Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in areas near the settlements of Novosyolovskoye and Sofiyevka in the Lugansk People’s Republic. They also intercepted seven rockets of HIMARS and Uragan multiple launch rocket systems near the communities of Surovtsevka in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Fyodorovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Vasilyevka in the Zaporozhye Region," the spokesman said.
In all, the Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 372 Ukrainian warplanes, 200 helicopters, 2,885 unmanned aerial vehicles, 401 surface-to-air missile systems, 7,537 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 983 multiple launch rocket systems, 3,841 field artillery guns and mortars and 8,066 special military motor vehicles since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov reported.