Day 336 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Scholz Caved and will Send Tanks to Kyiv, Russia claims it’s Provocation
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Russia tests a missile in the Atlantic capable of reaching the US
Russia says it has test-fired a hypersonic missile in the Atlantic Ocean that would have a range that would allow it to reach US territory.
The Ministry of Defense said the “Admiral Gorshkov” frigate tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic Ocean, carrying out a computer simulation of hypersonic Zircon missiles.
Zircon missiles have a range of 900 km and can travel at several times the speed of sound, making it difficult to defend against them. The statement did not say the frigate fired a missile.
Tensions between the West and Russia have reached their highest point in years over the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian officials have made it clear several times that Russia could use its nuclear arsenal, the largest in the world, if it felt threatened by Western support for Ukraine, writes Reuters.
"Admiral Gorshkov" was sent on a long voyage personally by President Vladimir Putin at the beginning of January. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the frigate's route ”passes through the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and also in the Mediterranean Sea.”
Moscow claims that the "Zirkon" is capable of developing a speed of more than 9,500 kilometers per hour and has a range of about a thousand kilometers. Her trials began in July 2021, with "Admiral Gorshkov" also participating in them. In July 2022, Vladimir Putin announced that the frigate would become the first carrier of these missiles.
According to the Russian president, the missile system "has no analogues" in the world and will help ensure Russia's national interests.
Scholz declined - Germany will send Leopards to Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries such as Poland to do the same, while the US may supply Abrams tanks, Spiegel magazine reported, citing Reuters.
A spokesman for the government declined to comment, and the Ministry of Defense remains silent for the time being.
The decision concerns at least one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks, which will be provided from the Bundeswehr's stocks, Spiegel points out. It is a modification with a 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun and some other changes.
Other allies, in Scandinavia for example, intend to join Germany by sending their Leopard tanks to Kyiv, adds the publication.
In the longer term, more tanks may be restored to serviceability, it noted. According to the manufacturer, Rheinmetall, there are 139 such machines in stock, but it takes months to repair them.
Scholz is expected to speak to the Bundestag today.
Yesterday, Poland's ambassador to Germany, Dariusz Pawłosz, announced that, in accordance with his government's stated intention, they had approached the government of the Federal Republic of Germany to obtain consent for the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
"At the same time, we continue to make efforts to build a broad coalition of countries supporting the struggling Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. We trust that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany will join this coalition and we expect close cooperation, including the arms industry of Germany for quick and good training of the crews and logistical support in providing spare parts, repairs and ammunition delivery," added Pavloš.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that an agreement had been reached between the United States and Germany for Berlin to deliver a small number of its tanks to Kyiv and allow other countries to do the same. In return, President Biden's administration will deliver a "significant" number of US Abrams M1 tanks.
According to American officials cited by the publication, Washington will announce such intentions as early as this week.
Russia: Sending tanks to Ukraine is another provocation
Sending tanks to Ukraine will be "another clear provocation" against Russia, said the Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, quoted by Reuters.
"It is obvious that Washington is purposefully trying to inflict a strategic defeat on us," he said on the Telegram channel of the Russian diplomatic mission.
If the US decides to supply tanks, then justifying such a step with arguments of "defensive armament" will not work. This would be another clear provocation against the Russian Federation. No one should have any illusions about who is the real aggressor in the current conflict, the Russian ambassador added.
According to Antonov, the American government "gives the green light to the use of American aid for an attack on Crimea" and "covers up the crimes of the radicals against the population of Donbas and the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions."
"More and more officials and experts in America admit that it is a ’proxy war‘ led by the United States," the Russian diplomat added.
According to Spiegel, Berlin can deliver at least 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from the Bundeswehr's arsenal at the earliest. More such war machines may be sent later after they are repaired. In addition, the German government may give the "green light" for the re-export of Leopard tanks from other NATO countries to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has published that President Biden's administration is about to announce a decision to send American Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
The announcement will be part of a wider diplomatic deal with Berlin over German tanks and could be announced in the coming days. There is no official confirmation yet.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also commented on the topic in his evening address:
"Discussions must end with solutions. Solutions to truly strengthen our defenses against terrorists. Our allies have the necessary number of tanks."
Regarding the intention of Ukraine's Western allies to supply Kyiv with heavy weapons, Russia sent a note to NATO countries, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noting that any cargo containing weapons for Ukraine would become a legitimate target for Russia.
The Czech Republic is not willing to give up Leopard 2 tanks in favor of Ukraine
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said yesterday that the country is not inclined to give up its supply of Leopard 2 battle tanks received from Germany as part of the so-called circular exchange for the indirect supply of weapons to Ukraine, DPA reported, quoted by BTA.
"At this stage we are not able to send the Leopard 2 tanks because we need them for our security," Fiala said in an interview with DPA after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.
The German government provides part of its military aid to Ukraine based on the principle of a circular arms exchange with its eastern allies. They send Kyiv weapons manufactured in the Soviet Union, with which Ukrainians are familiar and can work easily, and in turn receive modern replacements from Germany, DPA recalls.
Last year, the Czech Republic provided Ukraine with dozens of Soviet T-72 battle tanks, in exchange for which the German government promised the government in Prague 14 Leopard 2 tanks and one armored repair and evacuation vehicle, the agency said.
Last night it was announced that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had changed his mind after much pressure and months of debate and would agree to send tanks to Ukraine.
The Scholz government is preparing to give the green light for the export of German tanks to Ukraine from other countries - the latter cannot happen without the approval of Berlin.
Details are expected on Wednesday in the Bundestag's defense committee. Scholz himself is expected to speak before the German parliament.
Handelsblatt notes that a decision has been made and that "at least one company" - or at least 14 tanks - will be sent. So far, it has declared its intention to send Poland from its own "Leopard", as well as Great Britain - from its "Challenger".
So far, there have been mixed signals from Germany on the subject.
Spain joins the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine
Spain will join the delivery of Leopard tanks to Kyiv after Germany, after months of resistance, agreed to supply this powerful German-made tank to the Ukrainian army, El Pais reports.
The Spanish government is tying its participation in the operation to provide Ukraine with a system capable of countering the firepower of modern Russian tanks to the existence of a prior agreement at the European level.
It is noted that the Spanish army has 347 Leopard tanks in its arsenal.
Last summer, the Spanish press reported that the Spanish government was considering the possibility of transferring 10 Leopard tanks to Ukraine. However, in August, Spanish authorities said the machines were in poor condition and could not be handed over to Kyiv for now.
Two Britons who were reported missing in Ukraine have been confirmed killed
British citizens Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw, who were reported missing in eastern Ukraine, have been killed, family members said.
Bagshaw, 48, and Pаrry, 28, were last seen heading to the town of Soledar on January 6. Bagshaw's family said the pair were trying to rescue an elderly woman when their car was hit by a shell.
Earlier this month, Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed that the body of one of the Brits had been found.
Soledar has been at the center of intense fighting, and earlier this month the Russian military said it had captured the town known for its salt mines after a prolonged battle.
A statement from Parry's family said he went to Ukraine in March "at the darkest hour of the Russian invasion" and helped those most in need, saving the lives of more than 400 people and many abandoned animals. Bagshaw is a British scientist who lived in New Zealand. He arrived in Ukraine as a volunteer in April.
The British Foreign Office had warned against traveling to Ukraine because of a real threat to life.
NYT: Ukrainian commander-in-chief inherits $1 million. Donates it to army
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhny, inherited $1 million in January and donated it to the needs of the country's defenders, The New York Times reported today.
The newspaper writes that the legacy of the general was left by the American of Ukrainian origin Grigoriy Stepanets. The publication learned this from Stepanets' relatives, and the information was confirmed by the press service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
According to data from Ukraine's central bank, over the past year, businesses and individuals have donated 22.3 billion hryvnias (as Ukraine's national currency is called), or about $500 million, to their country's military.
The heir Grigoriy Stepanets was born in the Ukrainian regional city of Vinnytsia in 1938, his father was killed by the Germans in 1941, reports "Ukrainskaya Pravda".
Grigory and his mother were evacuated to the Urals, after the war they returned to Vinnytsia. He received his MA in Mathematics, MS in Chemistry and PhD in Physical Chemistry from Lomonosov University in Moscow and is fluent in German, Italian and English.
Stepanets was fired from the Institute for Geophysical Research in Moscow after signing a letter supporting dissidents. Then the KGB began to hunt him down. In 1989, the Ukrainian immigrated to the USA and started working as a software developer at Microsoft.
“I have dedicated my whole life to the armed forces. And there was no doubt what to do with the inheritance. The last will of Mr. Gregory was apparently to support the Ukrainian army in my person. I am grateful to everyone who helps the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And I am grateful to my family for their understanding," Zaluzhny told the newspaper.
The news comes amid a purge in the upper echelons of power in Kyiv, which follows a series of corruption revelations.
One of those investigated is Andrey Kobolev, former manager of the state oil and gas company "Naftogaz", who received a premium of nearly 6 million euros for winning an arbitration case against "Gazprom" for 4.6 billion dollars.
Another investigator is Vasyl Lozinski, Deputy Minister of Development of Municipalities, Territories and Infrastructure, who was fired on January 22 after he was detained for receiving a bribe of 400 thousand dollars.
Yesterday, one of the closest associates of President Volodymyr Zelensky - Kyrylo Tymoshenko - the deputy head of the presidential office, left his post. He was caught in illegal use of luxury cars.
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