The essentials in brief:
- Russia shells Cherson
- SPD boss does not rule out fighter jet delivery
- Ukraine sanctions ‘Russian wartime workers’
- Kyiv steps up efforts to ban Russia from Olympics
- Rheinmetall boss calls for an increase in the German defense budget
- Poland registers more interest in military service
According to local authorities, three people were killed in southern Ukraine after Russian shelling of Cherson. Six people were injured, said the local area administration. Among other things, a clinic building was hit. A regional politician also published photos of another badly damaged building.
The regional capital of the Cherson region of the same name was retaken by the Ukrainian army a few months ago. Despite this, it is repeatedly fired upon by the Russian armed forces.
The Russian army withdrew from Kherson months ago, but continues to shell residential areas with artillery
For their part, the Russian occupiers in the neighboring region of Zaporizhia reported four deaths from Ukrainian shelling. Information from the war zone is often difficult to independently verify. Along with Cherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, Zaporizhia is one of the Ukrainian regions that Russia occupies in part and annexed last year. In addition, Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in violation of international law back in 2014.
According to Ukrainian data, Russia is preparing a new offensive for the anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine. It is “no secret” that the Russian army is preparing a new wave of attacks for February 24, Secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov told Radio Svoboda.
Esken does not expressly exclude the delivery of fighter jets
SPD leader Saskia Esken refuses to say “no” to demands for fighter jets in Ukraine. When asked whether she ruled out the delivery of combat aircraft, Esken said on German television that it was crucial that Germany and NATO were not a party to the war. That is why the government is in very close coordination with the USA on these issues.
Germany is not a party to the war, and the government wants to avoid this “in the future.” At the same time, it is important for Germany to make it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin with every decision “that we reject Russian aggression.” After much hesitation, the German government promised Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks on Wednesday.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) recently said in an interview with the “Tagesspiegel”: “The question of combat aircraft does not even arise.” He advises against “entering into a constant outbidding competition when it comes to weapon systems”.
Kyiv sanctions supporters of Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has issued an executive order imposing sanctions on 185 companies and individuals he accuses of supporting Russia’s war. Zelenskyy said in a video message that 182 companies and three entrepreneurs who had transported personnel and military equipment by train on behalf of the “aggressor state” will be fined. The confiscated available assets of “Russian war workers” should benefit national defense. Ukraine is working to ensure that other states also block the companies’ assets.
Ukraine wants Olympics without Russian athletes
President Zelenskyi once again emphatically demanded that Russia not be admitted to the Olympic Games next year. His country wants to launch an international campaign to keep Russia away from the summer games in Paris.
Ukraine has therefore already written to the leading international sports federations to clarify their position. Belarus is also a war party from Ukraine’s point of view. Zelenskyj had previously stressed that the Olympic principles were incompatible with war.
Zelenskyy: Ukraine needs long-range missiles
Referring to the ongoing fighting in the east of the country, Zelenskyy said that three people were killed and 14 others injured in Russian rocket attacks against residential buildings in the city of Kostyantynivka in the Donetsk region on Saturday. The President stressed that Ukraine urgently needs long-range missiles to repel Russian attacks on settlements and civilians. Specifically, he called for US-made ATACMS missiles. The weapons have a range of almost 300 kilometers. Washington has so far refused delivery to Ukraine.
Chancellor Scholz asks for confidence in his Ukraine policy
Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised German citizens in the most recent edition of the “KanzlerKompakt” video series that he would “always keep an eye on Germany’s security”. It will always be about coordination, consideration and coordination. That is the principle that this government has. He was also guided by this principle when deciding to supply Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine. For weeks, critics had criticized Scholz’ decision-making on the Leopard 2 issue as too slow and hesitant.
As a goal, Scholz reiterated: “Russia must not get away with pushing borders by force.” Many people in Germany wished for “peace in Europe, that war is not approaching, that the government and the chancellor keep their nerves”. That is exactly what he promises to the citizens of Germany.
Rheinmetall boss calls for an increase in the defense budget
Before an industry meeting with Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, the CEO of the German armaments group Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger, called for an increase in the German defense budget, independent of the 100 billion euro special fund. “We need decisions about the budget,” said the manager in an interview with the news agency Reuters. “The 51 billion euros in the individual plan 14 will not be enough to be able to procure everything. And the 100 billion euros have already been planned and some of them have already been consumed by inflation.”
After taking office a few days ago, Pistorius announced very rapid talks with industry and admitted that the so-called Bundeswehr special fund of 100 billion euros was not sufficient, nor was the regular budget of 51 billion euros, the “Individual Plan 14”.
Rheinmetall CEO Papperger said the group had done its homework and expanded capacity. Around 2,000 employees were hired last year.
More interest in Poland in military service
Against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Poland is registering an increased interest in serving in the army. Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in Lublin that the armed forces were able to recruit 13,742 new professional soldiers last year. That is a record since military service was abolished.
The last time conscripts were drafted in Poland was in 2008, and shortly afterwards military service was suspended. Blaszczak went on to say that the Polish armed forces currently number 164,000 soldiers, including 36,000 members of voluntary homeland security associations. The EU and NATO country Poland is arming itself massively against a threat from Moscow. In the coming years, the army is expected to grow to 250,000 professional soldiers and 50,000 homeland security personnel.
qu/wa/uh/pg (dpa, rtr, afp)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from the combat zones cannot be independently verified.