Day 331 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Unprecedented Help from the US and European Countries
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
A group of 11 NATO countries pledged new military aid to Ukraine
A group of 11 NATO countries, including Britain and Poland, pledged new military aid to support Ukraine's war with Russia on Thursday, a day before a key arms meeting for Kyiv scheduled for Friday in Germany.
"The West must remain united and continue to support Ukraine with military aid," said Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur during a news conference in his homeland, held jointly with his British counterpart and other officials.
“What Ukraine needs most is heavy weaponry... The hardest battles are yet to come,” said the Estonian minister.
Gathering at the Tapa military base, officials promised missiles, Stinger air defense systems, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, training and other equipment and services (details - below).
Britain, which has already announced plans to send tanks to Ukraine, will also send 600 Brimstone missiles, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said as he listed details.
Poland is sending S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 57-mm shells and is ready to donate German Leopard 2 tanks, "pending (a) wider coalition" of donors of this tank, according to a joint statement from the meeting in the Baltic republic .
The potential delivery of Leopard tanks is expected to be high on the agenda when a much wider group of countries, including the United States, meet on Friday at Germany's Ramstein air base.
Several countries will announce the deployment of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Friday at a meeting at Germany's Ramstein air base, Lithuania's defense minister said at a ceremony in Tapa on Thursday. "Some of the countries will certainly send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, that's for sure," Arvydas Anušauskas told Reuters. The total number of armored vehicles promised at Ramstein will reach hundreds, Anušauskas said.
The United States and Germany tried on Thursday to resolve disputes over the Leopard, which the German government has so far resisted supplying to Ukraine, but no resolution has been reported so far.
Kyiv is calling for the tank, which it believes will help turn the tide of war against Russian forces.
The 11 countries that have signed the Tallinn Pledge are Estonia, Great Britain, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain.
Hours after the meeting, the Danish government announced it would donate 19 French-made Caesar howitzer artillery systems to Ukraine, fulfilling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's wish but delaying arming the Scandinavian country.
Here are key highlights from the Tallinn Pledge statement, which lists existing and planned participation by some of the countries in the group:
Denmark will continue to train Ukrainian forces, including but not limited to the UK-led Operation INTERFLEX. Denmark has donated or financed military aid worth nearly 600 million euros. Arms donations and military support will continue in close cooperation with allies and in line with Ukraine's needs. (After the ceremony, Copenhagen announced the donation of 19 French-made Cesar howitzers.)
The Czech Republic said it was working with its defense industry to increase production capacity to provide more support, particularly in the production of large-caliber ammunition, howitzers and armored personnel carriers (APCs). A key component will be the maintenance of equipment already delivered to Ukraine.
The Estonian package consists of dozens of 155-mm FH-70 and 122-mm D-30 howitzers, thousands of 155-mm shells, artillery support vehicles, hundreds of Carl-Gustaf M2 anti-tank grenade launchers with ammunition. Estonia will continue to provide basic and specialized training to hundreds of members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2023.
Latvia is preparing new donations of additional dozens of Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft missiles and additional air defense elements, two Mi-17 helicopters, dozens of machine guns with ammunition, several dozen drones and spare parts for M109 howitzers. In 2023, Latvia plans to train about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers - from basic infantry training to specialized courses.
The new Lithuanian package consists of dozens of L-70 anti-aircraft guns with tens of thousands of ammunition and two Mi-8 helicopters with a total value of 85 million euros. In 2023, Lithuania will invest 40 million euros in supplies to support Ukraine's army. This will include anti-drone systems, optics, thermal imaging devices and drones. In addition, €2 million will be transferred to the United Kingdom International Fund to finance projects for the acquisition of heavy armaments such as artillery systems and ammunition, direct fire platforms or armored vehicles for infantry. The total value of Lithuania's upcoming package is EUR 125 million.
The new Polish package consists of S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 rounds. Poland has already donated 42 infantry fighting vehicles along with a training package for two mechanized battalions. Poland continues to supply 155mm KRAB howitzers and supplies Ukraine with various types of ammunition. In addition, Poland is ready to donate Leopard 2 tanks with a thousand rounds of ammunition.
In addition to the donated heavy equipment, Slovakia will continue intensive discussions with allies to trigger additional equipment donations, which are now focused on main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, air defense systems. This also includes increased production of howitzers, mine clearance equipment and ammunition. Details are being developed based on exchanges with allies and partners.
The British emergency package consists of Challenger 2 tanks with armored recovery and repair vehicles, AS90 self-propelled 155 mm guns, hundreds more armored and protected vehicles, a maneuver support package that includes minefield and bridge-piercing capabilities, more dozens of unmanned aerial systems to support Ukrainian artillery and another 100,000 artillery shells.
It also includes:
hundreds of more advanced missiles, including GMLRS missiles
Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles
medium-range air defense missiles
600 Brimstone Anti-Tank Ammunition
equipment maintenance package from spare parts to upgrade up to 100 Ukrainian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
The package is further expanded through ongoing core training and junior leadership training in the UK with 9 international partners, with the aim of training around 20,000 more staff in 2023.
The US is sending hundreds of armored vehicles and missiles to Ukraine
The United States has announced that it will send hundreds of armored vehicles and missiles to Ukraine as part of a new $2.5 billion package, Reuters reported.
This is another package presented hours before the meeting at the US military base "Ramstein", which is to discuss how military aid to Ukraine continues.
The new aid includes 59 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker armored vehicles, the announcement said. There is also additional ammunition for the HIMARS rocket launcher systems, 8 Avenger air defense systems, tens of thousands of artillery shells and about 2,000 armor-piercing missiles.
The Bradley machines in particular are the second announced shipment of the month, as another 50 were previously announced to be shipped.
The United States has so far provided a total of $27.4 billion in security aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February last year, Reuters recalls.
Western allies have pledged billions of dollars worth of arms to Ukraine. Fearing that winter will give Russian forces a chance to regroup and launch a massive offensive, Ukraine is pushing for more aid to fight Moscow's invasion.
And Sweden sends BMPs and howitzers to Ukraine
The Swedish government announced yesterday that it is providing new military aid to Ukraine. It will include infantry fighting vehicles and Archer artillery systems, Reuters reported, citing BTA.
The aid is worth SEK 4.3 billion ($419 million). It will also include NLAW hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers.
"Military aid to Ukraine is crucial. Our decision took into account Ukraine's specific wishes for what it wants to receive," Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference.
Sweden will send about 50 of its Type 90 infantry fighting vehicles and an unspecified number of Archer self-propelled howitzers.
So far, Stockholm has provided Ukraine with military aid worth about 5 billion kroner plus several humanitarian shipments.
Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, applied last year to join NATO along with Finland, a decision it made after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, breaking with its decade-long policy of non-alignment.
The country has a total of 48 Archer self-propelled howitzers. Ukraine has shown interest in acquiring such artillery systems to use against the Russian army.
Charles Michel: The next weeks will be decisive for Ukraine
"The European Union must continue to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons and air defense systems, as the coming weeks could be decisive in this war," European Council President Charles Michel said at a joint press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukrinform reported.
The President of the European Council noted that the EU very quickly decided to provide weapons to Ukraine. "This happened for the first time in the history of the European Union - in the first hours and days of a large-scale invasion, we sent heavy weapons to Ukraine," he said.
“Recently, Ukraine has been receiving heavy weaponry and air defense systems. I think it should be continued,” said Michel.
He also reminded that for the first time the EU mobilized unprecedented capabilities for military training of 15,000 Ukrainian servicemen.
"You can count on the European Union - we will continue our unwavering support, we will always be with you side by side because we share a common dream," assured Michel.
In turn, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the faster the necessary decisions of some leaders in Europe regarding the military are made, the more reliably we will be able to guarantee the safety of Ukrainians and Europeans.
Zelensky thanked Charles Michel for the meaningful visit and negotiations "at such an important moment for our country, when maximum concentration of all joint forces is needed."
The Ukrainian president added that, in addition to defense issues, the meeting discussed the further strengthening of sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation.
US monitors Russian spy ship off Hawaii
A Russian reconnaissance ship is patrolling off the coast of Hawaii, but for now it continues to sail in international waters, the Pentagon announced, as quoted by the Associated Press and BTA.
According to the announcement, the US Coast Guard has been monitoring Russia's Vishnya-class reconnaissance ship “Kareliya”, which has been sailing off Hawaii for the past few weeks.
"I can't say why the Russians are sailing the ship right now, the timing is kind of uncertain," Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, adding that the Coast Guard was still monitoring the ship, which was operating in international waters.
"We have not observed any dangerous or unprofessional behavior and we expect the Russians to operate in the area in accordance with international law," Singh added.
The Associated Press notes that while the sighting of a Russian spy ship off the US Pacific coastline is not unusual, this time the case is drawing more attention due to heightened tensions between the US and Russia over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and unspecified threats to use nuclear weapons.
On Russian TV: "The special military operation was a catastrophic mistake"
The special military operation was a catastrophic mistake.
This was announced by former Russian MP Boris Nadezhdin during a guest appearance on the propaganda Russian show "Meeting Place" (Место встречи). Moreover, he allowed himself to blame the "political leadership" of Russia for the "catastrophic mistake".
For much more subdued statements, some Russians received double-digit sentences. Perhaps because of this, Nadezhdin's message was presented in the most ego-tickling way possible for the simple Russian nationalist.
"Without a doubt, the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by our MPs, soldiers and officers absolutely do not justify the fact that the special military operation was a catastrophic mistake and that it is leading our country to a dead end. Once again - there is such a thing as a man's courage, including and of Milonov at the front: this is one story. The other story is about the catastrophic mistake of the political leadership".
The "special military operation" was a disastrous mistake and it is a senseless situation leading the country to a dead end."— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) January 19, 2023
Are they trying to tell the Russian population something? pic.twitter.com/2BRdRkiUb1
In September 2022, Nadezhdin announced during an appearance on the same show that Russia would not win the war.
"It is high time to understand that it is simply impossible to defeat Ukraine (...) in the mode of ‘colonial war’. We use private soldiers, mercenaries, without mobilization. The Russian army is opposed by a strong army, which is fully supported by the most - the strong countries in economic and technological aspect, including in Europe".
His participation received a wide public response - judging by the fact that a number of propagandists such as Vladimir Solovyov found it necessary to explicitly criticize him.
At that time, the lightning-fast Kharkiv counter-offensive of the Ukrainians had just begun.
The aforementioned Vitaly Milonov is among the few Russian MPs who voluntarily went to Donbas. He is among the most extreme conservatives in Putin's coalition. He personally met with Yevgeny Prigozhin in Donbas. He is known to the Western public for his crusades against "gay propaganda" (he is the author of many homophobic laws in Russia).
Milonov also gained popularity after his conversation with Stephen Fry, in which the British homosexual actor made fun of him. You can see the video below.
If anyone out there is doubting about Putin's intentions & core values, I urge you to watch this. Milonov is a member of former Russian president, Medvedev's, far right party.— Eva & Mo =^..^= ????????♀???? in ???????????????????????? (@WirtuallyYours) February 23, 2022
Stephen Fry confronts Vitaly Milonov over Russian law banning 'gay propa... https://t.co/ip5DBbKtlR
Iran reminded that it has not yet recognized the "secession" of Crimea
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Tehran has not yet recognized Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, despite its close ties to the Kremlin, DPA reported.
"Despite the excellent relations between Tehran and Moscow, we have not recognized the secession of Crimea from Ukraine," Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian said in an interview with Turkish TV channel TRT.
"We also did not recognize the secession of Luhansk and Donetsk," he added.
Tehran is seen as a supporter of Russia in the war against Ukraine, mainly through supplies of Iranian unmanned "kamikaze drones".
However, Iranian political leaders continue to deny that there are such supplies, DPA notes.
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