Saturday, 10 February 2024 04:41

What to know after Day 716 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Ukraine's Kharkiv swept by fire after Russian drones strike petrol station

Russian drones struck a petrol station in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, late on Friday, triggering a vast fire that engulfed private homes, local officials said.

Officials said drones also hit a hospital and a restaurant in the town of Velykyi Berluk, east of Kharkiv.

In Kharkiv, the head of the local prosecutor's office, Oleksandr Filchakov, said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging app that three drones hit the petrol station in Nemyshlianskyi district just before 11 p.m.

"There was a great deal of fuel and that's why there are these dreadful consequences from the fire," Filchakov said.

One person was injured. Filchakov said that toll could rise as search and rescue operations proceeded through the night.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said 14 private homes had been destroyed and 50 residents evacuated. A video posted by the mayor showed flames and smoke rising over a wide area.

The top military official in Velykyi Burluk, Viktor Tereshchenko, told public broadcaster Suspilne that drones had damaged a hospital and a restaurant. Details on casualties were being clarified.

Officials reported an attack on a hospital in the town last week, prompting the evacuation of dozens of patients.

Reuters was not able to independently confirm details of the attack. Russia did not immediately respond to a request for comment but says it does not deliberately target civilian sites.

Kharkiv has been under attack regularly since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and has been a frequent target of Russian assaults in recent weeks.

In the Black Sea port of Odesa, the regional governor said a drone attack had injured one person.

Three people were reported killed in shelling earlier in the day in a village in Sumy region on the border with Russia.



Ukraine running out of ammunition – FT

Ukrainian frontline units have resorted to rationing artillery rounds because US supplies have stopped and the EU has been unable to deliver on its promises, according to a Financial Times report on Friday.

Kiev is facing a “critical” shortage of Western-caliber artillery ammunition, unnamed EU and US officials told the UK-based outlet. One American described it as a “gap in the hose.”  

“It is a desperate situation on the front lines for the Ukrainians, far worse than they are letting on,” a senior NATO diplomat told FT.

The outlet said it had seen a letter from Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov to EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell, which lamented that shortages are getting worse by the day.

“The old truism still holds true — the side with the most ammunition to fight usually wins,”  Umerov wrote. The “absolute critical daily minimum requirement” for Ukraine was 6,000 shells a day, but its military has been able to fire about a third of that, he added.

A Pentagon official described the situation as “a very grim scenario,”noting that without Congress approving additional aid, the US can’t send over more ammunition from its own stockpiles, or commission new rounds from the industry.

The White House had bundled a $60 billion Ukraine aid package with funding for Israel and the US-Mexico border, which ended up getting stuck in Congress due to domestic political concerns. The foreign aid portion of the bill finally advanced in the Senate earlier this week.

The Pentagon’s own stockpiles of 155mm ammunition had run low by last summer, however, prompting President Joe Biden to send the Ukrainians some cluster munitions instead – and upsetting several NATO allies who had banned their use.

Meanwhile, the EU has fallen far short of its pledge to crank out a million rounds for Ukraine by March 2024, managing to deliver less than half of that number.

“It will not be easy for the Europeans to substitute for the US. That’s not entirely realistic,” one senior EU diplomat told FT. 

Ukraine has become entirely dependent on the US and its allies for ammunition, weapons, equipment and even salaries of government employees. According to Russian estimates, the collective West has poured more than $200 billion into Kiev since February 2022.



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