The delivery of tanks to Ukraine by EU countries should not be regarded as an escalation in tensions but a response to the actions of Russia, which continues to attack Ukraine, including its energy infrastructure and residential areas. A spokesman for the European Commission said so. “Since Russia does not abandon its strategy of wanting to destroy the Ukrainian state, the EU is helping Ukraine to defend itself,” he added.
Meanwhile Macron does not rule out sending fighters to Kiev. “Nothing is excluded in principle.” This was stated by French President Emmanuel Macron on the possibility of sending fighter jets to Ukraine, as requested by Kiev. The French president underlined some “criteria” before any decision: a “formulated request” by Ukraine, that “there is no escalation”, that “Russian soil is not touched but the resistance effort is helped” and finally that “the capacity of the French army is not weakened”.
“It’s the wrong time for this discussion,” German government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said in Berlin this morning, responding to Ukraine’s requests for new weapons such as fighters, submarines and ships, since an agreement has just been reached on Leopard tanks for Kiev. The chancellor, she added, “warns against rushing to raise money”. Regarding the fighters, Hoffmann had repeated the declaration of Scholz made in Parliament last week: “The Chancellor said: ‘I clarified very early on that there are no fighter jets at stake'”.
London announces: British tanks will arrive in Ukraine in May, around Easter. The tanks donated to Kiev by the UK will arrive on the Ukrainian front before the summer. This was stated by British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, quoted by the Guardian. Rishi Sunak’s government has agreed to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine to help Kiev fight off Russian forces. Asked in the House of Commons about when the tanks will arrive in Ukraine, Wallace said “it will be before the summer, or May, probably around Easter”. Wallace explained that security reasons prevented him from establishing the training schedule for the Ukrainian forces on the use of tanks. Last week, the UK said its plan was to have tanks in Ukraine by the end of March.
Switzerland considers giving its Leopards to those who send tanks to Kiev. The country has 134 German-made Leopard 2 tanks, plus 96 disused. Now a proposal in the Swiss parliament could authorize the export of some of these 96 disused vehicles to other states, including those that send their Leopard 2s to Ukraine. For reasons of neutralityHowever, these Swiss tanks cannot be sent to Kiev under any circumstances. It would be a “circular exchange” model like the one already used in recent months by Germany with some partners in Central and Eastern Europe. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes it.
Russian company puts a ‘bounty’ on western tanks. A Russian company has announced it will offer five million rubles (about 66,000 euros) in cash to the first Russian soldier to destroy or capture Western-made tanks in Ukraine. Sky News reports it. Fores, a Ural-based company that produces materials for the energy industry, is offering money to the military who “capture or destroy” German-made Leopard 2 or US-made Abrams tanks. The company said it will give five million rubles to the first Russian soldier to destroy one of the tanks, then 500,000 rubles for all subsequent attacks.
Kiev asks Berlin for a submarine, Moscow’s wrath. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Western supplies of more weapons to Ukraine would only lead to a ‘significant escalation’ of the conflict, commenting on a request by the Ukrainian deputy foreign minister to supply Kiev with German submarines. ‘Germany (ThyssenKrupp) produces one of the best submarines in the world HDW Class 212A. The Bundeswehr has 6 of these U-boats. Why not send one to Ukraine? As’
we will throw the Russian fleet out of the Black Sea’, wrote the Ukrainian deputy minister and former ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk on Twitter two days ago. Kiev ‘asks for more and more weapons’, commented Peskov, according to whom Western countries ‘encourage these requests and profess their willingness’ to supply such weapons. ‘It is a dead-end situation: it leads to a significant escalation, it leads NATO countries to be ever more directly involved in the conflict, but it does not have the potential to change the
course of events and will not do it”.
Five people have been killed and 13 others injured in Russian attacks in nine regions of Ukraine in the past 24 hours: this is what emerges from the balance of data provided by the various regional authorities. This was reported by the Kyiv Independent. The affected regions, in addition to Kherson, are Donetsk, Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Lugansk. The Kherson region – the hardest hit (42 times), with three fatalities – was attacked with artillery, multiple launch missile systems (MLRS), mortars, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. In the city of Kherson, Russian forces have targeted a hospital – as reported yesterday – as well as a port, a school, a bus station, a post office, a bank and residential buildings.
Russia “strongly condemns” the drone attack on a military site in Iran on Saturday evening, warning that “such destructive actions may have unpredictable consequences for the peace and stability of the Middle East”. This was stated by the Moscow Foreign Ministry in a statement published on its website.
The new American ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, will work to “maintain dialogue” between Moscow and Washington “at a time of unprecedented tensions”. She writes it on her website at the US embassy in Moscow after a meeting between the diplomat and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The ambassador, the note adds, will work to ensure fair treatment of US citizens detained in Russia and to “support the long-standing relations between the American and Russian peoples”.
“President Macron and I strongly condemned Iran’s active participation in the injury of innocent civilians in Ukraine.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this when announcing a telephone conversation he had today with the French president. “I thanked Macron – he added – for participating in the mourning of the families who lost their loved ones in the attack in Jerusalem”. The two also agreed to meet soon.
A residential building was hit by the Russians in the evening to Kharkov, in the ‘Kiev’ district: according to the mayor of the Ukrainian city, Terekhov. The fourth floor of the building was completely destroyed, Ukrinform reports, adding that “according to local residents, at least two injured people were taken out of the building.” But according to what the head of the Kharkiv regional state administration writes on Telegram, three were injured, and one of these people later died of her wounds.
Meanwhile, Kiev is stepping up its pressure on its allies to receive even more powerful weapons and better face the great battles of spring, when the ground will no longer freeze. Volodymyr Zelensky’s first request is for long-range missiles, but the real target is fighter jets. And in Washington, now, the question is starting to be taken into consideration. Instead in Europe, on the German side, attempts are being made to rekindle a flame of dialogue: Chancellor Olaf Scholz has underlined that he wants to speak again with Vladimir Putin. And the Kremlin seems to have appreciated. Zelensky, in his evening message to the nation, thanked allies, including Italy, for the latest “significant achievements in the field of defence”.
And he hoped that this “momentum” will be maintained, in two directions: “accelerate” with the supplies of arms already agreed and “evaluate” the sending of “new types”. The Ukrainian leader has “long-range missiles” in mind first of all. Because the American Himars rocket launchers used up to now “have a range of 80 kilometers and cannot reach many of the occupied areas”. Instead, with an endowment of “Atacms with a 300-kilometre radius” it would put the Russian artillery far from the front under pressure, and which so far has been able to strike cities undisturbed, underlined Zelensky, who also summoned the General Staff to take stock of weapons and ammunition. In addition to Atacms, Kiev will try to get something that at the beginning of the war seemed a taboo for Westerners, namely fighter jets. About twenty, including US F16s, the French Rafale or the Swedish Gripen, are the wishes of the Air Force to modernize the Soviet-era fleet. This type of supply has already been requested in the past, but the novelty is that the Americans are not closing the door. Indeed, according to Politico, there is a group of military officials at the Pentagon who are putting pressure in this direction. Moreover, notes the Wall Street Journal, the fear that a long war could play into Moscow’s hands seems to be growing among NATO officials. Hence the urgency to arm Kiev as much as possible. For the moment, Berlin does not want to hear about jets for the Ukrainians. Putting this issue on the table “wouldn’t be considered serious by public opinion”, Scholz said, returning from the painful yes to sending Leopard tanks, under pressure from the allies. The German chancellor remains committed to “avoid an escalation” that leads to a “war between NATO and Russia”. For this, he announced, “I will speak to Putin again on the phone. It is up to him to withdraw troops from Ukraine and stop this terrible senseless war”. The Kremlin’s reply is sibylline, but not closing: “No agreed conversations are planned”, but “Putin has been and remains open to contacts”, assured Dmitry Peskov.
But all the Western skepticism towards Moscow is summed up by Guido Crosetto: “I have never had any prejudice against Russia. On the contrary. I had also been critical of some NATO approaches that I considered unjustified. I hoped it could become an ally of the West. I was wrong I. Because then he decided to try to annex another nation,” said the defense minister. The day after the severe attack and insults received by Dmitry Medvedev. On the ground, the hottest front of the fighting remains Donetsk, between the cities of Bakhmut and Vugledar. In the south, the Ukrainians reported yet another bombing of Kherson, which also allegedly hit a hospital. Causing at least three deaths. The pro-Russian authorities instead reported four victims following an attack by Kiev on a bridge in the Melitopol district. In addition to cannons, we fight with sanctions. Kiev targeted 182 Russian and Belarusian companies, as well as three individuals. Among the entities sanctioned also two branches of European banks, Unicredit Leasing and Raiffeisen Leasing.
I have been working as a journalist for over 10 years. In that time, I have covered the news from all corners of the world, and written about everything from politics to business.I’m now a full-time author, and my work can be found at Global happenings. My aim is to bring you up-to-date news and views on global affairs, in a format that is easy to read and understand.