Recent war in Ukraine: Minister predicts when Russian pressure could start as fighting in east gets 'harder' (2023)

Important points
  • Ukraine's defense minister predicts when Russian offensive could start
  • Former Wagner group commander apologizes for fighting in Ukraine and now wants to help bring perpetrators to justice
  • Brits donate £400m to help Ukraine
  • Dominick Waghorn:The race to arm Ukraine begins ahead of a spring offensive
  • Live coverage by Jess Sharp. Updates also byDeborah Haynesin Ukraine andDiana Magnayin Moscow


US Defense Officials Say Ukrainian Forces Will Not Be Able To Retake Crimea Anytime Soon: Report

Ukrainian forces are unlikely to be able to recapture Crimea from Russian forces any time soon, top US defense officials say.Politically.

The news agency reported that four Defense Department officials in a secret briefing told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon does not believe Ukraine has, or has, the ability to expel the troops. Russians from the peninsula

One of the officials told Politico that the report was ambiguous, but the point remained that "Ukrainian victory in an offensive to recapture illegally annexed territory was not guaranteed."

Just for reference, Moscow conquered Crimea in 2014, long before the Ukrainian war started.

The issue of retaking Crimea has been a moot point for months, as US and European officials insist the peninsula is legally part of Ukraine.

However, they stopped fully equipping Kyiv in order to move to the area.


Russia wants to end conflict in Ukraine, but reacts to Western measures: foreign minister

Russia wants the conflict in Ukraine to end but will respond to Western arms supplies to Kyiv, the country's foreign minister has said.

According to Sergei Lavrov, Moscow's armed forces would respond to Western supplies of long-range weapons by trying to drive Ukrainian forces away from its borders.

He said this would create a safe buffer zone.

In an interview with state television, Lavrov added that everyone would like to see an end to the conflict in Ukraine, but Western support for Kyiv plays an important role in the focus of Russia's campaign.


Austria withdrew diplomatic immunity from four Russian diplomats

Austria stripped four Russian diplomats of diplomatic immunity.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said the four officials had been declared persona non grata due to "incompatible" behaviour.

In diplomacy, persona non grata is a status applied by a host country to foreign diplomats to remove their protections from diplomatic immunity from arrest and other types of prosecution.

"Of the four diplomats, two are employees of the Russian embassy who acted in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status," the ministry said.

"The other two are with the UN permanent mission in Vienna and acted inconsistently with the UN-Austrian headquarters agreement."


EU officials arrive in Kyiv pledging more military, financial and political aid

More than a dozen senior EU officials are scheduled to arrive in the Ukrainian capital today, with promises of more military, financial and political assistance.

The president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has already landed in Kyiv, for the fourth time since the start of the war in the city.

The symbolic trip is aimed at showing support for Ukraine as the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches on February 24.

“It is a very strong sign that we are in Kyiv during the war. It is a signal for the Ukrainian people. It is a signal for Russia. It is a signal to the world," said a senior EU official.

However, Ukraine's hopes of joining the bloc in the near future are likely to be dashed.

Today senior members of the European Commission executive will meet their Ukrainian counterparts, followed by a meeting on Friday between Ms von der Leyen, leader of the EU's 27 national leaders, Charles Michel, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Allies will discuss a variety of topics including:

  • Send more weapons and money to Ukraine
  • Improving access of Ukrainian products to the EU market
  • Support the country in meeting its energy needs
  • New sanctions against Russia
  • Persecution of the leadership in Moscow because of the war.
  • Extension of the EU mobile roaming free zone to Ukraine


Former Wagner Group commander apologizes for fighting in Ukraine and now wants to help bring perpetrators to justice

A former commander of the Russian Wagner mercenary group who fled to Norway said he regrets the fighting in Ukraine and wants to help ensure the perpetrators are punished.

Andrei Medvedev fled Russia on January 13 by jumping over barbed wire fences, evading border controls and eventually crossing the Russian-Norwegian border.

The 26-year-old signed with Wagner on a four-month deal in July 2022, but is now seeking asylum in Norway.

In an interview with Reuters, he described the killing and treatment of Russian prisoners who were brought to Ukraine to fight for the group while he was there.

"Many consider me a scoundrel, a criminal, a murderer," Medvedev said.

"First of all, I always want to apologize, and while I don't know how it would be received, I do want to apologize.

“I want to explain that I am not that person. Yes, I served with Wagner.

The Wagner group recruits convicts to fight in the Ukraine, where they are heavily involved in the Russian offensive.

Ukraine claims its fighters have died by the thousands.

Mr. Medvedev added that he now wants to talk about his war experiences so that "the perpetrators of his crimes in Ukraine are punished."

"I have decided to speak out publicly to help ensure that perpetrators are punished in certain cases and I will try to do at least a little," he said.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, previously said Medvedev worked in one of Wagner's Norwegian units and "mistreated prisoners."

"Be careful, it's very dangerous," Prigozhin said.


Russia's ability to follow arms export deals will be "severely hampered" for at least the next three years, the Defense Ministry says.

Russia's ability to keep up with existing arms export deals is likely to be "seriously affected" for at least the next three to five years as a result of the war in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said. from United Kingdom.

In its latest intelligence update (which you can read below), the Defense Ministry said Russia's role as a credible arms exporter "is likely to be undermined by the invasion of Ukraine and international sanctions."

With component shortages also affecting the production of equipment for export, Russia is likely to struggle to produce armored vehicles, attack helicopters and air defense systems.

According to the Wilson Center research institute, Russia is the world's second-biggest arms exporter after the United States, accounting for 20% of global arms sales and $15bn (£12bn) in revenue per year.


At least three people were killed and 20 injured in Russian missile attack

At least three people were killed and 20 wounded after a Russian missile destroyed an apartment building and injured seven others in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian police said.

Local authorities initially reported that Russia had fired a missile, but area police later said it was actually an Iskander-K tactical missile.

“At least eight houses were damaged. One of them was completely destroyed," police said in a Facebook post.

"People can get under the rubble."

At least 44 people were killed last month when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the eastern city of Dnipro.

“This is not a repetition of the past, this is the daily reality of our country, a country with absolute evil on its borders,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the attack.

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of indiscriminately shelling civilian infrastructure, a charge that Moscow routinely denies.

Last April, Ukraine said 57 people were killed when a Russian missile hit the Kramatorsk train station. Moscow has denied responsibility, saying the missile was from Ukraine.


Ukraine's defense minister predicts when Russian offensive could start

Both Russia and Ukraine are believed to be preparing new offensives, and Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has proposed a date on which he believes an attack from Moscow will begin.

Reznikov said the offensive could start around the symbolically important date of February 24, the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year.

“We keep telling our partners that we need to be ready as soon as possible and therefore we need weapons,” Reznikov told French broadcaster BFM TV.

Ukraine has received weapons promises from Westering for new capabilities, including the latest US missiles that would nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.

The Kremlin said long-range US missiles would intensify the conflict but not change it.

Reznikov's prediction came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that fighting on the front lines in eastern Ukraine "has become more difficult."

“A significant increase in the offensive operations of the occupation forces has been observed on the front in the east of our country,” Zelenskyy said.

“The enemy is now trying to do at least something to show that Russia has some chance on the anniversary of the invasion,” he added in a video address that night.


The British donated £400 million to Ukraine through the Emergency Committee for Disasters

The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) has announced a major new fundraiser for its humanitarian appeal in Ukraine, with UK donors donating over £400m.

This makes DEC the largest charitable donor to the response in Ukraine, according to the Financial Tracking Service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UK government counterpart funded £25 million in public donations for the appeal.

The donations were used to provide aid including food, generators, mental health support and cash for refugees.

In a report, DEC said it was successful:

  • Distribute food to people in war zones, including a team of volunteer bike couriers who deliver food and medicine to the homes of vulnerable people.
  • Deliver 75,000 vital trauma kits for civilian use and 34 incubators for premature babies
  • Supply of generators for people in air raid shelters
  • Making cash payments to people displaced from their homes
  • Support special schools in Poland for refugee children
  • Offer mental health support

The organization also summarized the numbers and provided these numbers on how they helped during the first six months of the conflict:

  • 1.9 million people have access to drinking water
  • 392,000 people received food aid, including hot meals and food baskets
  • 338,000 people received cash payments to cover their basic needs
  • 127,000 people access basic services in transit centers for displaced persons
  • 71,000 people attended primary health services
  • 114,000 people received legal assistance and support
  • 10,000 people were temporarily housed


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage.

Before we present today's latest updates, here's a summary of what happened.

Russian forces are advancing into eastern Ukraine, announcing advances north and south of the disputed city of Bakhmut.

Ukraine accused Russian forces of evicting Ukrainians from their homes in preparation for a possible offensive on the Eastern Front.

Away from the battlefield, Ukraine's allies spoke of more support for the war-torn country.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to the US to demand that sophisticated planes be sent to Kyiv, but Downing Street quickly rejected the suggestion.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace later said that no "solid decision" had been made on the matter, but noted that it was not the right decision for now.

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