Day 361 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Macron wants Russia to Lose the War, but Not to be Crushed
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Zelensky expects more weapons from the West after the Munich Security Conference
Russia continues to shell positions and facilities of the Ukrainian army. Kyiv also claims to have hit Russian targets. President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence that Ukraine will receive more weapons from its allies after the Munich Security Conference.
The Russian army shelled depots with ammunition and weapons of the Ukrainian units in Kupiansk, Lyman and Donetsk, and an armory of the Ukrainian army in the strategically important city of Vuhledar was also hit, Moscow reported. The Russian units also claim to have captured a village in the Kharkiv region.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced strikes on positions of the Russian army in the city of Donetsk and the region of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
Most of Ukraine has power despite a series of Russian attacks on the power grid, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, praising the work of emergency crews.
The exception is the port city of Odesa, where power outages for protective purposes are still in place.
In his traditional video address, Zelensky said he expects the Munich Security Conference to provide more military aid to Ukraine. In her speech at the forum, US Vice President Kamala Harris accused Russia of crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted Russia to lose the war in Ukraine, but not be crushed. Macron exuded confidence that the conflict would not end on the battlefield.
Former Russian chess champion and outspoken Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov said Ukraine must defeat Moscow as a "precondition" for a democratic transition in Russia. "Russians live in a bubble. It cannot be destroyed unless the idea of empire collapses thanks to a military defeat," Kasparov emphasized.
Macron: I want Russia to lose the war, but not to be crushed
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants Russia to lose the war in Ukraine, but not to be crushed.
"I am convinced that in the end (the conflict) will not end in a military way," Macron said in an interview published last night, which he gave to several journalists.
He added that "all options without Vladimir Putin in the current system" (of international relations) "seem worse" to him than the options with the Russian president, reports BTA.
On the eve of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Macron went to the Kremlin to see Putin in an attempt to dissuade him from invading the country.
After the start of the war, the French president continued to maintain contact with his Russian counterpart - drawing criticism, especially from Kiev, for not condemning the aggression strongly enough.
Recently, however, Macron has hardened his stance towards Russia, and France has supplied weapons to Ukraine.
G7 countries to support Ukraine and impose more sanctions on Russia
The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations have agreed to continue supporting Ukraine and impose more sanctions on Russia, as the ongoing conflict approaches the one-year mark, reported NHK World News.
Japan hosted the G7 meeting in Munich, Germany on Saturday, with deliberations being held on the sidelines of the international security conference. Japan is this year's G7 chair, and the meeting was the first foreign ministerial conference hosted by Tokyo in that capacity. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was also invited to the meet.
"I took part in a G7 ministerial meeting at the invitation of Japanese FM Hayashi Yoshimasa. We focused on everything needed for Ukraine's victory in 2023. There will be rapid deliveries of weapons and new sanctions. Russia must realize we won't tire of countering its aggression," Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Saturday.
The ministers confirmed that they will call on countries supporting Russia to stop doing so. They also said that they will actively work with Ukraine, NHK World News reported.
Further, according to the report, they condemned Russia for continuing to attack civilians and key infrastructure facilities in Ukraine. They said they will hold Moscow accountable in accordance with international law, NHK World News reported.
The top diplomats said they share the view that it is important to maintain international order based on the rule of law.
Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa brought up the issue of North Korea's missile launches.
Further, according to NHK World News, Hayashi said the unprecedented rate of Pyongyang's ballistic missile test launches poses an imminent threat to the safety of Japan and a serious challenge to international peace and security.
He described the North's actions as totally unacceptable, saying he would work closely with the other G7 members to respond to the threats.
Hayashi also expressed a willingness to work with the G7 nations to address other matters, such as the situation in the Indo-Pacific region.
Japan is scheduled to host a G7 summit in Hiroshima in May.
The Netherlands is expelling more Russian diplomats from the country
The Netherlands decided to expel several Russian diplomats from the country. According to Dutch state television, it is about 10 people.
As a reason for the decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that Russia will not stop trying to bring undercover agents into the Netherlands. Russia's trade mission in Amsterdam has been ordered to close on Tuesday at the latest.
The Netherlands, in turn, will close its consulate in St. Petersburg.
Moscow promised an appropriate response. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Netherlands expelled 17 Russian diplomats. In response, 15 of their Dutch colleagues were expelled.
ISW: Kadyrov takes a sharp turn, abandons Prigozhin
The head of the private military company "Wagner" Yevgeny Prigozhin failed to get the support of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in his confrontation with the Russian Ministry of Defense. The latter seems to have rejected the offer of "Putin's chef" to join a new information campaign against the department.
The new report by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggests that Kadyrov may have rejected Prigozhin’s offer because he doubted that the latter would be able to restore his waning influence.
On February 17, Kadyrov said that Chechen forces would follow the orders of any commander appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Chechen combat officers had an excellent, well-coordinated relationship with the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Kadyrov also praised the Ministry of Defense's actions following Prigozhin's attempt to secure the Chechen leader's support through a widely publicized visit to wounded special forces commander Akhmat Apti Alaudinov on February 16.
"Prigozhin stepped up his information campaign against the Russian Ministry of Defense, saying on February 18 that Wagner was not subordinate to the Ministry of Defense and had 'nothing to do with the Russian army,'" the ISW report said.
However, Kadyrov refused to join Prigozhin's information attack against the Russian Ministry of Defense, as his official ties to the Kremlin and his position in the Russian government were more advantageous than any political relationship with Prigozhin.
At the same time, according to experts, the head of "Wagner" is trying to attract ultra-nationalist Kremlin figures and bloggers to his side. People connected to the Kremlin, however, are likely to "turn their backs on it to retain their patronage."
Prigozhin openly opposes Gerasimov and Shoigu, emphasizing the successes of his mercenaries and the helplessness of the cadre army on the battlefield. Political scientist Andrey Piontkovsky claims that Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov carried out a military mini-revolution. According to him, Gerasimov was not appointed commander of the operation in Ukraine because of Russia's victory, but to eliminate Prigozhin.
According to Ukrainian intelligence, Prigozhin is not directly responsible for combat units, as his functions are primarily media and political.
The founder of the Wagner group is quickly losing confidence in the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has decided not to rely on his authority anymore and has once again trusted Gerasimov, Shoigu and the rank-and-file Russian military.
Earlier, the military expert and colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Petro Chernyk stated that there is a serious confrontation between the towers of the Kremlin and its outcome is inevitable. According to him, it was Prigozhin who would suffer a serious defeat in this conflict.
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