Russia steps up offensive on the front line – DW – 01/27/2023

Russian forces intensified their attempts to breach Ukraine’s defenses on Friday, with fighting intensifying along the front line, Ukrainian officials said.

A day earlier, Russia launched a barrage of missile and drone attacks on Ukraine in an apparent response to Western promises to supply Kyiv with tanks.

Authorities reported heavy shelling in the northern and eastern parts of the country, with some of the most intense fighting since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

“Fierce fighting continues along the front lines. Our defenders are firmly holding their positions and inflicting losses on the enemy,” said Oleh Synehubov, governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region.

The front lines have remained largely unchanged over the past two months, though Russia has made small gains in the east and is also seeking to maintain a corridor of seized land in southern Ukraine.

Both sides are expected to launch spring offensives, though the United States has publicly urged Ukraine to wait until the latest weapons promised to Ukraine are ready. That process, including training, could take several months.

Russian forces have increased their efforts along the eastern front line, seeking to take advantage of their recent capture of the city of Soledar to put pressure on the besieged city of Bakhmut.

US advisers urge Ukraine to shift focus away from Bakhmut

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Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Friday, January 27.:

German Defense Minister rules out fighter jets for Ukraine

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine.

Kyiv requested fighter jets after Germany agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks.

“Fighter jets are much more complex systems than main battle tanks and have completely different range and firepower,” Pistorius said in an interview with the German newspaper. South German newspaper.

“We would be venturing into dimensions that I would currently caution against.”

First military visit of the German Defense Minister

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The minister said the 100 billion euro ($108 billion) fund to reform the German army announced by Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz “will not be enough.”

“With every new system, we also have new maintenance costs. So with every new device there are new and higher running costs,” Pistorius said.

He also suggested increasing Germany’s annual defense budget, which is currently around 50 billion euros.

Pistorius said Germany’s decision to suspend conscription in 2011 was a mistake.

Russia blocks CIA and FBI websites

Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor says it has blocked the CIA and FBI websites, accusing the two US agencies of trying to “destabilize” Russia.

“Roskomnadzor has restricted access to a number of resources belonging to state structures of hostile countries in order to disseminate material aimed at destabilizing the social and political situation in Russia,” the watchdog said in a statement.

The Russian news agency TASS quoted Roskomnadzor as saying that the two websites had published inaccurate material and information about Russia’s armed forces.

Russia expels Latvian ambassador

Moscow has given the Latvian ambassador two weeks to leave Russia over Riga’s decision to downgrade ties.

“Latvian Ambassador Maris Riekstins has been ordered to leave the Russian Federation within two weeks,” the ministry said in a statement.

Can Putin’s propaganda destabilize Latvia?

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The ministry said Latvia’s decision to downgrade ties with Moscow “would have consequences” and accused the country of “total Russophobia”.

Latvia is not the first Baltic state to downgrade its ties with Russia. Estonia and Russia expelled each other’s envoys on Monday, while Lithuania downgraded relations with Russia in April.

Germany says Russia misrepresents minister’s comments

The German Foreign Ministry says Russia is trying to misrepresent Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s words after her comments about the war in Ukraine.

Calling for cohesion among the Western allies at an event in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Baerbock said in English that “we are fighting a war against Russia, and not against each other.”

Moscow seized on the words as evidence that the West is waging a “premeditated war against Russia” and demanded an explanation from Baerbock.

Responding to the uproar, a ministry spokesman said that Moscow was using the comments for its own purposes.

“Russian propaganda continuously takes statements, sentences, positions, positions from the government, from our partners and uses them to fulfill its purposes,” the spokesman said.

The German government has also stressed that Germany is not a belligerent party in Ukraine.

Ukraine hit by barrage of missiles after securing tanks

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“NATO and Germany are not a party to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said in Berlin on Friday.

Poland to deliver 60 more tanks

Poland will send an additional 60 tanks, a move hailed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw would send 60 “modernized tanks” in addition to the 14 Leopard 2s he also promised.

Morawiecki added that, since the start of the war, Poland has “sent 250 tanks… or even more” to Ukraine.

“Thank you… Poland for these important decisions to deliver to Ukraine 60 Polish tanks, 30 of which are the famous PT-91 Twardy, along with 14 Leopards,” Zelenskyy tweeted.

The tanks already supplied by Poland are mainly Soviet T-72 models, of which the PT-91 is a modernized version.

Earlier this week, Germany and the US announced that they would be sending Abrams and Leopard heavy main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Belgium pledges cash and arms

Belgium has announced a new military aid package for Ukraine, promising cash, missiles, machine guns and armored vehicles.

Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder acknowledged that Belgium did not have main battle tanks to match the offers from NATO allies Britain, Germany, Poland and the United States. Belgium sold its tanks over a decade ago.

Instead, Dedonder said the 93.8 million euro ($100 million) package would include anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank missiles, grenades and other military equipment.

Separately, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced an additional 86 million euros in humanitarian and civilian aid, along with 38,000 tons of diesel fuel.

More DW coverage of the war in Ukraine

Some Russian and Belarusian athletes may be one step closer to being allowed to return to international competition. A proposal by the International Olympic Committee has been strongly criticized by Ukraine and the athletes’ representatives.

Germany recently announced that it will supply 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Shortly after that, videos appeared online purporting to show the tanks already making their way into the besieged country. DW checks the facts.

With Kyiv hit again by Russian airstrikes, the city’s mayor says Ukrainians are prepared to die for their freedom. He told DW that Russia is “unhappy” with tank deliveries because he is afraid of modern hardware.

A German citizen is suspected of passing intelligence to Russia. Concerns about Russian espionage in Europe have grown since the invasion of Ukraine.

Germany says that Ukraine will receive the promised Leopard 2 tanks in early April. Meanwhile, Russia has fired more missiles as its invasion continues. This and more from Thursday’s updates.

rc/dj (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters, Interfax)

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