Day 325 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Powerful Explosions in Kyiv this Morning

World » UKRAINE | January 14, 2023, Saturday // 12:03
Bulgaria: Day 325 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Powerful Explosions in Kyiv this Morning @Twitter

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Powerful Explosions in Kyiv preceded air raid sirens

Four powerful explosions rocked the center of Kyiv this morning. For the first time since Russia launched periodic mass missile strikes against the Ukrainian capital and other populated areas in the country, air raid sirens sounded after the strikes, rather than before them.

The head of the administration of President Volodymyr Zelensky - Kyrylo Tymoshenko - reported on social networks that critical infrastructure was hit. He called on the people of Kyiv to go to the shelters as quickly as possible.

Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, for his part, wrote in Telegram that the explosions were in the Dnipro region of Kyiv and called on the city's residents to go home to bomb shelters.

Earlier, the Ukrainian army announced that the explosions in Kyiv were not a signal for the beginning of a new Russian offensive from the north, i.e. from Belarus.

After 10 o'clock this morning, an air alert was announced both in the Kyiv region and around Chernihiv, Poltava, Sumy. And in the Ukrainian-controlled parts of the Donetsk region.

According to the regional governor of Mykolaiv, quoted by Reuters, the authorities there detected the takeoff of dozens of Russian Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers.

Explosions in Kharkiv as well

According to unconfirmed information, there were also explosions in Bucha.

An air alert has been declared in Kyiv and other parts of the country.

There were also explosions this morning in Kharkiv. The electricity in the second-largest Ukrainian city has been cut off, and the subway is not running.

Explosions also echoed in the Russian-controlled town of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Meanwhile, fighting continues for the eastern town of Soledar, where both warring sides claim to have taken control.

For another day, Moscow reports that the Russian army has captured the mining town - already on Wednesday, the private army "Wagner" announced victory, after which this was confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

In his latest video address, Ukrainian President Zelensky denied and stated that Kyiv's forces continue to strongly resist the Russian side.

ISW: Prigozhin tries to force the Russian Ministry of Defense to recognize PMC 'Wagner'

Yevgeny Prigozhin has strengthened his position after the Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged the involvement of his Wagner PMC in the capture of Soledar, according to experts from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The ministry has already announced the capture of Soledar. In the first report, "Wagner" is not mentioned at all, despite Prigozhin's statements that it was his men who captured the city a few days ago. According to ISW, this caused a storm of reactions in the Russian information space. By the evening, another message appeared from the Ministry of Defense "in connection with media reports".

The offensive was carried out by a "disparate group of Russian troops", and the "direct assault on the Soledar neighborhoods" was carried out by "volunteer assault units" of PMC "Wagner", according to the department's announcement.

Some provoked bloggers believe that it was Prigozhin who forced the Ministry of War, first, to go beyond the deliberately vague rhetoric, and second, to abandon the policy of refraining from official recognition of PMC "Wagner" and its military efforts, experts say. So far, the Ministry of Defense has not mentioned "Wagner" in its reports.

"Probably Prigozhin is trying to use the Soledar victory as a negotiating tool to boost his credibility in Russia. The Ministry of Defense's mention of Wagner forces in response to public outcry is a significant victory for Prigozhin, who cements its status as a decisive player in this war," the institute's report said.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Prigozhin needed the Soledar victory to prove to President Vladimir Putin that his forces were superior to the conventional army. Citing the Ukrainian minister, ISW authors draw attention to a question published by Prigozhin's press service to a journalist about a possible meeting with Putin "after the successful release of Soledar". In response, Prigozhin advised him: "Don't engage in nonsense."

ISW cannot assess the likelihood of such a meeting, but suggests that Prigozhin will try to take advantage of the situation.

Tanks for Ukraine: why the West refused, and now is in a hurry to give them

Western representatives fear that Ukraine has little time to prepare for an expected Russian spring offensive and are rushing to send the weapons they refused to hand over for fear of provoking Moscow, writes the New York Times.

The publication examines the sharp change in the last few weeks, in which barrier after barrier has fallen to the supply of a number of weapons - armored vehicles, anti-aircraft systems "Patriot" (as promised by the United States, but which Germany will also deploy) and others.

This comes as the U.S. and allies take more risks in defending Ukraine after it has made many unexpected advances. At the same time, Kyiv wanted Western tanks from the beginning of the war, and the allies were reluctant - until Britain and Poland increased the pressure on the partners: London announced that it would send a small number, and Warsaw - that it was ready to do the same, as long as Berlin gave the obligatory approval (we are talking about German "Leopard" tanks).

Berlin may not have made the final decision (according to a Defense Ministry spokesman), but coalition partners are stepping up pressure on Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Economy Minister Robert Habeck (of the Greens) openly called for this decision.

Ukraine expects the armored vehicles to play a major role in the battles for control of the most contested cities in the east. According to the commander of the forces, Gen. Valery Zaluzhniy needed nearly 300 Western tanks and about 600 Western armored fighting vehicles to have an effect.

What changed

The urgency of the delivery came in part from the dire situation on the eastern front, where the Russians have been trying for months to capture Bakhmut, and from heavy fighting in neighboring Soledar, the New York Times continued.

Until now, NATO allies have provided Ukraine with Soviet tanks, but a large number of those that Kyiv has are destroyed or in serious condition, running out of ammunition.

The West has long resisted sending some of its most powerful weapons to Ukraine to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, but the fact that talks between Moscow and Kyiv appear far away, Ukraine's determination to resist, and the stalemate on the battlefield are changing the calculus. . The West, according to a senior military source, hopes to shift the balance of power in Ukraine's favor with tanks and armored vehicles (others count on at least giving it an advantage enough to win greater concessions in negotiations).

According to him, without the tanks, it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to regain a large part of its territory. A senior Western intelligence source says Ukraine "doesn't want to let (Russia) catch its breath" before the next intense phase of hostilities.

Red lines

There are weapons that the West is not ready to provide, however: fighter jets and long-range missiles that can hit annexed Crimea, for example. Joe Biden's administration is holding back on providing the M1 Abrams tanks, of which the US doesn't think it has enough; at the same time, Washington does not intend to oppose the dispatch of other Western tanks. There are nearly 2,000 German Leopard tanks in over 10 armies in Europe. Some of them can be deployed quickly, although Ukrainians will first have to be trained to use them.

Pressure for Leopard from the Poles, the British and the Finns is growing, but the point is one particular partner, the US, is more equal than the others,” said Claudia Major from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs

At the same time, the Germans are not ready to act first: they are waiting for Washington to send even one Abrams, another expert told the newspaper. At the same time, there are expectations in Germany that Chancellor Scholz will back down under pressure from allies, even though (according to opposition MP Norbert Röttgen) he would like to maintain contact with Russia and Putin in the future.

The tank decision is particularly important at a time when some experts agree that Moscow appears to be mobilizing hundreds of thousands more Russians for its next offensive.

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