Day 347 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Scholz claims Western Weapons will Not Hit Russia
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
A Russian missile hit an apartment block in Kharkiv
A Russian missile hit a residential block in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv today, there were casualties, the mayor of the city Igor Terekhov announced in Telegram.
The next Russian advance will most likely be in the Luhansk region, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) predicted in its February 4 analysis. The institute's experts note that Russia is beginning to concentrate troops and equipment in this direction. The Russians are also stepping up attacks on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. According to Ukrainian military intelligence, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to be fully captured by March. Ukraine now controls part of that territory, which Putin declared part of Russia last September.
Canada has sent the first Leopard 2 tank to Ukraine, France Press reported, citing Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand.
A Canadian Army military transport plane took off loaded with the tank from Halifax Airport last night.
"Canada stands in solidarity with Ukraine and we will continue to provide Ukrainian forces with the equipment they need to win," the minister said on Twitter.
"Battle tanks are on their way to help Ukraine. Canada's first Leopard 2 has departed. Canada's support for Ukraine is unwavering," the minister emphasized and accompanied her tweet with a video showing the loading of the tank and the departure of military transport plane.
Canada announced at the end of January its decision to deliver 4 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a day after several Western countries did the same, BTA recalls.
Zelensky deprived 10 people of their citizenship
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has stripped 10 people of Ukrainian citizenship, including former ministers. They held their posts under former President Viktor Yanukovych, RBC-Ukraine agency reported, quoted by BTA.
The agency indicates that among those deprived of Ukrainian citizenship are former Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Tabachnik, former Minister of the then Ministry of Revenue and Customs Oleksandr Klimenko and former Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaly Zakharchenko.
Zelensky also revokes the citizenship of the former chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, Oleksandr Yakymenko, and the former secretary of the National Security Council and former head of the presidential administration, Andrey Klyuev. All of them held their positions under the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Another 5 people were deprived of their Ukrainian passports, including former city and district councilors from Odesa and Kharkiv.
All persons included in this list, who are deprived of Ukrainian citizenship, have Russian citizenship, RBC-Ukraine agency notes.
Scholz: Western weapons will not hit Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agrees that weapons supplied by the West will not be used to attack Russian territory, the German leader said.
"There is a consensus on this," Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag weekly.
Ukraine's Western allies have pledged to arm it with precision missiles and missile systems, as well as tanks, as it tries to push back Russian troops in its east.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared the intervention of countries such as Germany to the struggle of his people during World War II.
"Again and again we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West," he said Thursday on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad.
However, Scholz rejected this comparison.
"His words are part of a series of absurd historical comparisons he uses to justify his attack on Ukraine," he said.
"But nothing justifies this war.
Together with our allies, we are supplying battle tanks to Ukraine so that it can defend itself. We have carefully evaluated each arms delivery, in close coordination with our allies, starting with America."
He said such a consensus-based approach "avoids escalation."
Zelensky: 1,762 Ukrainians have returned from Russian captivity
A total of 1,762 Ukrainians have been returned from Russian captivity since the beginning of the war until now, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced, Anadolu Agency reported.
Zelensky noted in a Telegram video message that 116 more Ukrainian soldiers had been released as part of the new round of prisoner swaps between Russia and Ukraine.
Noting that the exchange has been going on for months, Zelensky said: "Since February 24, 1,762 Ukrainians have managed to escape from Russian captivity."
Zelensky said he had a phone conversation with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss arms aid to his country.
He said: “We are currently working on the issue that was discussed by the US president: Our soldiers have already started training on Challenger 2 tanks in Great Britain.”
He also said that the heaviest fighting is taking place in the Donetsk region since the beginning of the Russian aggression.
Kyiv and Moscow exchanged nearly 200 prisoners of war
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak discussed by phone the possibilities of additional support for the Ukrainian army. Yesterday, Portugal announced that it will deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow exchanged nearly 200 prisoners of war.
The largest construction materials site in southern Ukraine has been hit by Russian attacks on the city of Kherson, from which the Russian army withdrew last November.
Dmytro Pletenchuk - press office of the military administration of Kherson: "The city is almost empty. Unfortunately, because of the constant shelling, people are forced to leave the city, and now about 20 percent of the population remains. There is no safe place in Kherson, the Russians are bombing us mercilessly."
The situation on the front remains difficult, especially in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian president warned. Ukrainians will fight as hard as they can to keep the fortress city of Bakhmut, said Volodymyr Zelensky.
Pavlo Dyachenko, a police officer in Bakhmut: "Bakhmut is constantly under fire, artillery is constantly shelling us. Unfortunately, we know that people are dying, children are dying, other people are being injured."
The President instilled hope in his compatriots after his Friday meeting with the leaders of the European Commission and the European Council.
Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine: "We have reached an understanding that it is possible for Ukraine to start negotiations for membership in the European Union this year."
Ukraine and Russia have exchanged almost 200 prisoners of war, with both countries reporting the exchange separately.
The Ukrainian authorities released a video of the freed Ukrainian prisoners on social networks. According to the head of the presidential administration, there are 116 released soldiers. Among them are defenders of Mariupol, Kherson partisans, snipers from the Bakhmut direction.
63 Russian servicemen were also released, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced. According to him, the operation took place with the mediation efforts of the United Arab Emirates. The Russian army has conducted maneuvers with its advanced T-90M tanks as a countermeasure against Germany's approval of the export of Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine. Poland announced that it has already started training Ukrainian tankers with these machines. Apart from Germany, Ukraine will also receive Leopard 2 tanks from Portugal.
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