Moscow intensifies strikes after Western statements about the supply of tanks to Kyiv

A building destroyed by Russian strikes in Bakhmut, Ukraine on January 26, 2023. Anatoly Stepanov/AFP

Yesterday, Ukraine became the target of new Russian bombing raids that killed eleven people and cut off power supplies, a day after the West’s decision to supply heavy tanks to the Ukrainian army. On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for those armored vehicles to be made available as soon as possible, and his defense ministry warned that Russian troops, “outnumbered,” were “intensifying” fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The day before, Ukraine admitted that it had to leave Soledar northeast of Bakhmut, which the Russians had been claiming for a week now. According to the sergeant, who goes by the pseudonym “Alkor”, “the fight was hard” because there were fewer Ukrainians. “We shoot again and again, but after five minutes a new wave of 20 enemies falls on us,” he said. Their number is huge. They use their soldiers as cannon fodder. According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russia appears to be stepping up offensives along the front lines to “disperse” Ukrainian forces in order to “create the conditions for a decisive offensive”, likely in eastern Ukraine.

Russian missile salvo

According to the latest report available last night, after a salvo of Russian missiles hit several places in the territory, “eleven people were injured and, unfortunately, another eleven people died,” Ukrainian aid spokesman Oleksandr Khoroney said on television. RIA News. who suffered the most damage in the Kyiv region. According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhny, yesterday Russia fired 55 missiles at Ukraine, of which “47 were destroyed, including 20” near Kyiv. Ukraine also said it shot down 24 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight.

“Emergency” blackouts were introduced in Kyiv and other regions after power facilities were “knocked out” as Russia attempted to cause a “systemic failure” of the national power grid, says Energy Minister German Galushchenko. “The situation remains under control,” however, Prime Minister Denis Chmyhal assured. In Odessa (South-West), despite “difficulties,” power was restored to “hospitals” and “other vital infrastructure of the city” early in the day, private electricity company DTEK said. The strikes near this major port city came shortly before the head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, arrived there in the morning to discuss the situation with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba.

Westerners accused of being allies

After a series of military setbacks on the ground in late summer and autumn, the Kremlin began regularly hitting Ukrainian transformers and power plants in October, each time plunging millions of civilians into darkness and cold. This new wave of bombardments came a day after Washington and Berlin gave the green light to move dozens of heavy tanks to Kyiv, an unprecedented decision in eleven months of war. Germany expects to deliver the first promised Leopard 2s in late March or early April.

In Bakhmut, at the epicenter of the clashes in eastern Ukraine, doctor Liza yesterday morning expressed regret that the West was hesitant about tanks, believing that the go-ahead “should have been given sooner and for more” of these materials. “But of course we are very grateful for what we got,” she adds. Volodymyr Zelensky, who said this is “an important step for the final victory,” meanwhile thanked his allies. But he noted that the “key” to success was now the “speed and volume” of deliveries, Kyiv requested hundreds of armored vehicles in order to be able to start the reconquest of the occupied territories in the east and south. The Ukrainian president also called for long-range warplanes and missiles, a number of weapons that Western countries have so far refused to provide for fear of provoking a military escalation.

The Kremlin already believes that the supply of tanks is proof of the West’s “direct involvement in the conflict”. And “we see that (this commitment) is growing,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, told reporters yesterday. “We are not at war with Russia, and none of our partners is at war,” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Clair Legendre said. “The supply of military equipment as part of a self-defense exercise (…) is not a joint conflict,” she told the press. The clarification also comes after an embarrassing statement by German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock, who despite her country being widely criticized for its slowness, said on Wednesday: “We are waging war against Russia, not between us…”

Source: AFP.

Source: L Orient Le Jour

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