Russia shifts focus of war to ‘NATO and the West’, says EU official

Russian forces have gone ahead with a multi-pronged offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine as Kyiv’s western allies continue to show a united front in their support.

Ukraine’s military said on January 27 that heavy shelling was observed in northern, northeastern and eastern Ukraine amid expectations that Russia is preparing for a renewed offensive sometime in the coming months.

Against those expectations, Ukraine’s Western allies continue to promise military equipment and help to bolster Kyiv’s defenses as the first anniversary of the conflict, launched by Russia on February 24 last year, approaches.

On January 27, the European Union extended its economic sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine for another six months, as EU justice ministers vowed to seek swift accountability for “horrible” crimes in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo saying his country was committing another 90 million euros ($100 million) in military support to Ukraine, its biggest aid package to Ukraine to date.

“Ukraine must be able to defend itself against brutal Russian aggression,” he wrote in Twitter.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed his gratitude for the growing number of countries that have promised Kyiv advanced tanks and urged them to speed up delivery of the offensive assault vehicles.

ukrainian troops repelled attacks at 11 locations in the two eastern regions over the past 24 hours, a day after Moscow unleashed another wave of missile attacks on Ukraine, killing at least 11 people and damaging energy infrastructure despite Kyiv’s air defense destroyed most of the incoming shells.

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“Defending forces over the past day repelled the invaders’ attacks on Ploshanka, Nevske and Chervonpopyivka in Luhansk, and Verkhnyokamyanske, Paraskoviyivka, Bakhmut, Klishchiyivka, Vodyane, Nevelske, Maryinka and Vuhledar in Donetsk,” the General Staff of Ukraine said. in his statement. daily report, which

Oleh Synehubov, governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, said “fierce fighting” continued along the front lines in the area. “Our defenders firmly hold their positions and inflict losses on the enemy,” he said.

RFE/RL was unable to independently verify the reports.

Zelenskiy, in his late-night video address on January 26, thanked “all the people in the world who are really fighting terror together with us” and re-emphasized the need to “speed up” the delivery of heavy tanks to his country. .

According to media reports, Germany and its allies are initially pledging around 100 German-made Leopard 2 tanks, in addition to the US contribution of 31 M1 Abrams tanks and Britain’s earlier pledge of 14 Challenger 2 tanks.

Canada was the last country to declare its intention to give tanks to Ukraine. Ottawa will send four Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, Canada’s defense minister said, after Germany this week allowed other countries to re-export the German-built tank.

Poland, the Netherlands and Spain previously announced their willingness to transfer some of the Leopard 2 tanks in their stocks to Ukraine, something they can only do with the express permission of the German manufacturer.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw will deliver an additional 60 tanks to Ukraine on top of the 14 German-built Leopards it has already promised.

Morawiecki, in an interview with Canadian television CTV News on January 26, said: “Right now, we are ready to ship 60 of our modernized tanks, 30 of them [Polish-made] PT-91”.

The training of the Ukrainian crews and the delivery of the tanks will take at least two months in the first cases, according to public statements.

According to two diplomatic sources cited by Reuters, France and Italy are close to finalizing the technical details to supply a SAMP/T air defense system to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy saying that “there are already 12 countries in our tank coalition” to provide advanced Western main battle tanks to help Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s 11-month-old invasion of Russia.

Zelenskiy was also pushing for Western supplies of missiles and long-range aircraft to Ukraine.

Morawiecki was quoted by dpa as telling a French broadcaster on January 26 that his country would be willing to send fighter jets to Ukraine if Warsaw’s NATO allies decided to do so.

EU justice ministers meeting in Stockholm on January 27 said the 27-member bloc wants speedy accountability for Russia’s “horrific” crimes in Ukraine, even as they differed over methods of prosecuting, seeking evidence or finance reparations for war damage.

On the same day, the Council of the European Union extended sanctions targeting specific sectors of Russia’s economy for six months, until July 31.

“They currently consist of a broad spectrum of sectoral measures, including restrictions on trade, finance, technology and dual-use goods, industry, transport and luxury goods,” the statement said.

The sanctions also include a ban on the import or transfer of seaborne crude oil and certain oil products from Russia to the EU, as well as the removal of SWIFT from several Russian banks.

The suspension of broadcasting activities and the licenses of various Kremlin-backed disinformation outlets is also part of the restrictive measures.

The Kremlin has reacted furiously to the latest gesture of Western solidarity with Ukraine, saying it sees the promised delivery of advanced tanks as evidence of growing “direct involvement” by the United States and NATO in Russia’s war of aggression, something that both deny.

With information from Reuters, dpa and CTV

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