The essentials in brief:
- Zelenskyj speaks of a new “Night of Russian Terror”
- London expects discharge in Bachmut
- Ukraine to get $15.6 billion in IMF loans
- The United States plans to deliver Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine in the fall
- Only two parties in the Swedish parliament against joining NATO
According to the authorities there, at least five people have been killed in Russian airstrikes in Ukraine. In the Kiev region, at least four people were killed and numerous others injured in drone attacks on a high school in Rzhyshzhiv. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the drones used in Rzhyshchiv – about 80 kilometers south of the capital Kiev – were Iranian weapons of the Shahed 136/131 design. 16 of the 21 drones were shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
According to the mayor, one person was also killed in a Russian attack on a residential building in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia. 25 people are in the hospital, including children. President Volodymyr Zelenskyj spoke of a new “Night of Russian Terror”. Hours later, he released a video purporting to show an attack on the apartment building in Zaporizhia. “The world needs more unity and determination to defeat Russian terror faster and protect lives,” said Zelenskyy.
Russia reports drone attack on the Crimean Peninsula
In return, the Russian Navy repelled a drone attack on the port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, according to Russian sources. The city’s governor, Mikhail Rasvozhayev, who is supported by the Kremlin, said on Telegram that “three objects were destroyed”. There were no injuries, and no ships were damaged. However, the explosions shattered windows in nearby buildings. The situation is “under control”.
In response to the incident, the Russian-backed government in Sevastopol suspended ferry services around the port city. The drone strike came less than a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014. Russia had already reported a drone attack on Crimea on Tuesday, which was repelled.
Zelenskyy visits the front near Bakhmut
According to official information, Ukrainian President Zelenskyj has traveled to near the heavily contested city of Bakhmut in the east of the country. Videos show how the 45-year-old head of state presented medals to members of an artillery unit in a large hall.
“It is an honor for me to be here today to honor our heroes. To shake their hands and thank them for protecting the sovereignty of our country,” Zelenskyy said in a message shared on online networks. He also visited a military hospital together with the military governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
London expects relief in embattled city
With their own advances near the embattled town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian troops have succeeded, according to British accounts, in relieving themselves somewhat of the Russian attack pressure. The counter-offensive west of the city will probably ease the pressure from the Russian attackers on the H-32 road – an important Ukrainian supply route – the British Ministry of Defense wrote on Wednesday, citing intelligence services. In the fighting around Bakhmut that has been going on for months, the Russian attackers have so far not succeeded, despite their best efforts, in taking the badly damaged city.
“Fighting continues around the city center and the Ukrainian defense remains vulnerable to encirclement from the north and south,” the UK Defense Ministry report said. However, there is a realistic possibility that the Russian attack on the city will lose momentum. This is also due to the fact that some Russian units have been transferred to other front sections. The British Ministry of Defense has published daily information on the course of the war since the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Moscow accuses London of a disinformation campaign.
Report: More than $400 billion needed for reconstruction
The war in Ukraine caused damage of at least 135 billion US dollars (around 125 billion euros) in its first year alone. This emerges from a joint report by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank and the European Commission. The sectors most affected are housing (38 percent), transport (26 percent) and energy (8 percent).
The period from the start of the war on February 24, 2022 to February 24, 2023 was used as the basis for the calculations. The financial losses caused by the war during this period are given as 290 billion US dollars (around 269 billion euros). The cost of rebuilding and recovering from Russia-attacked Ukraine is estimated at at least $411 billion. This is 2.6 times the estimated Ukrainian gross domestic product for 2022. According to the report, gross domestic product fell by 29.2 percent in 2022 – poverty rose from 5.5 percent to 24.1 percent.
Ukraine to get IMF loan worth billions
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed a loan package of around 15.6 billion dollars (around 14.5 billion euros) with Ukraine. The agreement, which has a term of four years, still has to be ratified by the Board of Directors, the IMF said. Months of negotiations preceded the agreement.
IMF Director General Kristalina Georgieva and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev in February
The four-year plan is intended to “support the ongoing gradual economic recovery while promoting long-term growth in the context of post-war reconstruction,” according to an IMF statement. The IMF stressed that in addition to the humanitarian consequences, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to have devastating effects on the economy. Economic output fell by 30 percent last year. A slow economic recovery is expected in the coming quarters. However, there is still a risk of the conflict escalating.
Abrams main battle tanks are scheduled for delivery in the fall
The United States wants to deliver the promised Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine in the fall, faster than expected. US Department of Defense spokesman Pat Ryder said that in consultation with Kiev, the US would send Ukraine model M1A1s rather than M1A2s as originally planned. That would allow the US to significantly accelerate delivery “and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year.”
The M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks have “very similar capabilities to the M1A2,” the Pentagon spokesman said, without going into differences between the various models. Delivery of the M1A2 would therefore have taken until next year. The United States promised Ukraine 31 Abrams main battle tanks at the end of January.
The delivery of the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine should also be accelerated. The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the defense system went “quicker than expected,” Ryder said.
Sweden’s parliament votes to join NATO
The Swedish parliament has given the green light for the country to join NATO. A clear majority of MEPs in Stockholm voted to give up Sweden’s decades of non-alignment. Only two of the eight parties in the Swedish parliament were against accession.
Sweden had applied for NATO membership together with Finland in May 2022 against the background of the Russian war of aggression. However, this is only possible once all 30 member states have ratified accession. Hungary and Turkey are still missing here. Turkey is blocking Sweden’s admission to the alliance on the grounds that Sweden is not acting consistently enough against “terrorist organizations”. The Hungarian parliament also wants to make a decision at a later date. On the other hand, there are no fundamental reservations in Ankara and Budapest about the Finns joining NATO.
USA: China not a neutral mediator in the Ukraine war
The United States does not see China as an “impartial” mediator between Moscow and Kiev in the Ukraine war. That’s what the spokesman for the National Security Council in the White House, John Kirby, told the press, echoing a formulation from Moscow. According to Russian sources, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured during his visit to the Kremlin that he had an “impartial position” on the conflict in Ukraine. “I don’t think China can be considered impartial in any way,” Kirby said. Beijing has not condemned the Russian invasion and continues to buy Russian oil. He also accused Beijing of relaying Russian propaganda that the war in Ukraine was the result of Western aggression, which is untrue.
Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who during a visit to Moscow on Tuesday hailed Xi’s entry into a “new era” of their “special” relationship, Kirby said the two had no true alliance but were linked by a “marriage of convenience”. China and Russia “want to change the rules” that govern the international order, Kirby warned. However, the US would maintain communication channels with China and US President Joe Biden still plans to speak to Xi, Kirby added – without giving further details.
Xi and Putin signed a strategic partnership agreement in Moscow on Tuesday. It includes the expansion of bilateral relations, especially in the economic sphere. Putin assured Xi of permanent and reliable supplies of oil and gas to China.
sti/uh/qu/bru/cwo/ww (dpa, rtr, afp)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from war zones cannot be independently verified.