Day 342 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Biden is against sending Fighter Jets to Kyiv
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
The Russian army is intensifying its attacks at Bakhmut, the aim being to exhaust and destroy the garrison
The Russian troops do not stop their attempts to advance along the Bakhmut, Avdeev and Novopavlov directions of the front, in places they achieve small successes, but in general the enemy still fails to achieve global goals, such as the capture of Bakhmut. Konstantin Melnikov from the "Facts" program of the Ukrainian ICTV tells this in a one-day report from the front line.
According to the War Mapper team, which updates maps of the fighting in Ukraine daily, the Russians have continued to advance both north and southwest of Bakhmut over the past 24 hours. They are trying to bypass Bakhmut to reach the highway that connects it to Konstantinovka.
The Ukrainian military warned that the route should be avoided as it is "in the zone of elimination of the enemy". However, military bloggers claim that as of the morning of January 31, the Konstantinovka-Bakhmut road was under Russian fire control and could no longer be used for garrison supply or rotation. The only route for this remains the road from Chasiv Yar.
The latest maps show that the Russians are close to Paraskovivka in the north and near Opitne in the south. In the vicinity of the temporarily occupied Gorlovka, the Russian military has slowed down the pace of its advance. "Sometimes they send sabotage or assault groups. But our military says that this is more of a distraction," says Konstantin Melnikov.
According to military analysts, the attacks on Bakhmut and the continuous shelling are aimed not so much at capturing the city itself, but at engaging the forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and gradually exhausting them in order to prevent their transfer to other directions, in particular to Siversk. This can be seen in the attacks near Opytne, which simply demonstrate the presence of the Russian army there and engage the Ukrainians in return fire.
The ultimate goal of the Kremlin is probably to achieve the isolation of the VSU in Bakhmut in a cauldron and the liquidation of the garrison. "Capturing the territory without liquidating the garrison is at best a pyrrhic victory," military bloggers comment, and as the fighting unfolds, they believe that the Russian plan of attack in this case is more ambitious.
Russia is preparing a new offensive in Ukraine, Britain and ISW believe
Western, Ukrainian and Russian sources continue to indicate that Russia is preparing for a new offensive in Ukraine. This is according to another summary of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
A few hours later, another briefing - by British military intelligence - noted that an offensive was being prepared for the Donetsk region.
"For the past three days, Russia has probably deployed its reconnaissance attacks around the towns of Pavlivka (Pavlovka) and Vuhledar (Ugledar) in a more concentrated offensive," London said.
"Increasing internal pressure to win"
Ukrainian representatives such as Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov are also openly talking about an upcoming offensive towards the end of winter or the beginning of spring. However, the assessments of various observers differ on the directions of the future attack - whether it will be limited to the Donbas, or whether it will also affect other regions of Ukraine.
The US think tank's brief also quoted the head of the Reserve Council of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ivan Tymochko, as saying that Russian troops were strengthening the groups in Donbas as part of an expected offensive, for which Moscow is under increasing domestic pressure to victory.
Western, Ukrainian, and Russian sources continue to indicate that #Russia is preparing for an imminent offensive, supporting ISW’s assessment that an offensive in the coming months is the most likely course of action.https://t.co/BOss1GjKHc pic.twitter.com/LyzFcyzvtu— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) January 31, 2023
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was also quoted as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin is sticking to his maximalist goals in Ukraine, and that Russia can mobilize up to 200,000 people and continues to acquire weapons and ammunition through increased domestic production and partnerships with authoritarian regimes such as Iran and North Korea.
Moscow persistently denies preparing a new mobilization after the one announced in September, although it admits that the decree by which it was called is open-ended.
The statements of Stoltenberg and Tymochko confirm the previous forecast that Russian forces are creating conditions for launching an offensive in the Luhansk region in the coming months, notes ISW.
The institute adds that Russian "military correspondents" also continue to note that the conditions for a new offensive are being created in the Russian information space.
British military intelligence notes that the forces of the 155th Marine Brigade, used for a failed attack in this area in November 2022, have been reactivated.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 31 January 2023— Ministry of Defence ???????? (@DefenceHQ) January 31, 2023
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/LEQzjzWkCH
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Elements of the brigade - as part of a new force at least brigade-sized - probably moved a few hundred meters beyond the small Kashlagach River that had marked the front for several months.
"The Russian command likely aims to develop a new axis of advance in the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region and divert Ukrainian forces from the hotly contested sector of Bakhmut. There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to score local victories in this sector," the intelligence continues.
However, according to him, it is unlikely that Russia will have enough troops in the area to make operationally significant progress. In recent days, the private military company Wagner announced the capture of several villages around Bakhmut, after Ukraine confirmed its withdrawal from neighboring Soledar. However, not all of these successes have been confirmed by the Russian army.
The founder of "Gordon": Putin will mobilize Muscovites and Petersburgers. Although he fears rebellion
Putin will mobilize Muscovites and Petersburgers. Although he is afraid of them rioting.
This was announced by the Ukrainian journalist and founder of the online publication "Gordon UA" Dmitry Gordon. He commented on the topic during a conversation with the editor-in-chief of the media and his wife Alesya Batsman.
"He (Putin) protects Muscovites and Leningraders not because he loves them so much, but because he is afraid of a rebellion. But now, as they tell me, of 50 thousand Wagner prisoners, 40 thousand have been killed, only 10,000 remain. In prisons apparently, there are no more villains who go to slaughter, because people see that a person has been sitting, and lo and behold, he is gone - he has already died. That is, it is better to stay in prison than to be killed, - that's what they talk to each other. That's why now I think that in St. Petersburg and Moscow they will start mobilizing them with full force," the journalist assumed.
He urged the Russians, while they still have the opportunity and no new wave of mobilization has been officially announced, to leave the country as soon as possible.
"I say again, taking this opportunity: Russians, flee Russia until the Russian border is not closed, because you will become meat," warned Gordon.
The journalist assured that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to sacrifice Russians to achieve his goals.
"He has one goal - enslavement of Ukraine. Enslavement, capture of Ukraine, turning it into a vassal, a satellite, a colony - whatever, but also enslavement. What are they doing? At first they thought like this: Well, why are we going to risk it with the Russians? They are Nazis! What will we risk with the Russians, don't let the Russians go under the knife, let's start with the national minorities - Dagestanis, Buryats, Yakuts. I don't feel sorry for them, there are too many Muslims in Russia anyway. I hear such talk, especially (former head of Roscosmos Dmitry) Rogozin was distinguished by this. You know, he's a fascist. That's why Putin initially wasted the minorities : Buryats, Yakuts, Chechens, Ingush and others," said Gordon.
When protests against the mobilization began in the regions, Putin, according to the journalist, decided to somewhat revise his approach. For this reason, a mass mobilization of convicts began in prisons throughout Russia.
But now those human resources were depleted, so even those previously unaffected could be mobilized, Gordon argued.
Biden is against sending fighter jets to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden has said he will not send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to aid it in its war against Russian invaders. "No," he said when asked by White House reporters if he supported sending the jets, which Ukraine's leaders said topped their latest weapons wish list.
Biden also said he would visit Poland, a key hub in the nearly year-long sweeping Western effort to support Ukraine's war against Russian invasion. "I will go to Poland. But I don't know when," he told reporters when asked about the visit.
Macron does not rule out the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he did not rule out supplying fighter jets to Ukraine, but warned of the risk of an escalation of the conflict.
"Nothing is ruled out in principle," Macron said after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, when asked about the possibility of sending planes to Ukraine, which is fighting a Russian invasion.
But Macron set out a series of "criteria" before making any decision, as Ukraine steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West just days after its allies pledged to supply tanks.
The criteria include Ukraine making a first demand that whatever the weapon is, it "will not be escalating" and "is not likely to strike Russian territory, but will be used exclusively for resistance."
The IOC called Podolyak’s accusations that “the organization was promoting the war in Ukraine” defamatory
The International Olympic Committee has called defamatory the statement of the adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mykhailo Podolyak, that the sports organization promotes war and murder by accepting the participation of athletes from Russia in the Olympic Games.
On Monday, Podolyak commented on the proposal of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which intends to develop a quota system. It will allow athletes from Russia to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Thus, the OCA invited Russian athletes to participate in Asian tournaments (previously they competed in European tournaments). The IOC welcomes this decision, reports the BBC.
The councilor strongly condemned the intention to allow Russians to compete in the Olympics.
"The IOC promotes war, killing and destruction... The IOC is happy to watch as the Russian Federation destroys (Ukraine) and then offers (Russia) a platform to promote genocide and encourage further killing. It is obvious that (the Russian) money that buys Olympic hypocrisy doesn't feel the (Ukrainian) blood. Yes Mr. (IOC chief Thomas) Bach," Podolyak tweeted.
"The IOC rejects in the most categorical way this defamatory statement and others like it. It cannot serve as a basis for a constructive discussion", was the reaction of the committee.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also criticized Bach in his evening address over the weekend.
"One cannot but be disappointed by the statements of the current chairman of the International Olympic Committee. I have spoken with him more than once and I have never heard how he will protect sports from military propaganda if he returns Russian athletes to international competitions," says Zelensky.
"There is no such thing as neutrality when there is such a war. And we know how often tyrants try to use sports for their ideological interests. It is obvious that every neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood," added the Ukrainian president.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba pointed out that Russia won 71 medals at the Tokyo Olympics, and "45 of them were won by athletes who are also members of the Central Sports Club of the Russian Army (CSKA). An army that commits crimes, murders, rapes and robberies," the foreign minister claimed.
"These are the people the indifferent IOC wants to put under the neutral white flag that allows competition," Kuleba also points out.
Despite abundant independent evidence to the contrary, Russia denies that its military committed crimes during the war in Ukraine.
Earlier, the IOC expressed readiness to consider the possibility of Russian athletes participating in international competitions under neutral status. However, the organization proposed a number of restrictions. In particular, athletes who "oppose the IOC's peacekeeping mission" and actively support the war in Ukraine will not be allowed to compete. Admission decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
"Athletes should not be prevented from competing solely on the basis of their passports," the Olympic Committee said in a statement.
Russian officials did not like these conditions.
"We still strongly disagree with any restrictions, additional requirements and sanctions related to the nationality of our athletes," said Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov.
State Duma deputy and Olympic speed skating champion Svetlana Zhurova also suspected the IOC of intending to divide the ranks of Russian athletes.
"The boys are simply forced to leave the country in this way," Sport.ru quoted Zhurova as saying.
Most international federations have announced that Russian and Belarusian athletes are not allowed to compete because of the war in Ukraine.
Only a few international sports organizations refrained from such a ban, in particular the Tennis Federation, thanks to which Russian tennis players can compete in tournaments with a neutral status.
The same decision was made by the International Aquatics Federation and the International Automobile Federation.
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