President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has renewed calls on Kyiv’s Western allies to maintain speedy delivery of weapons and other supplies to Ukraine, saying Russia should not be allowed to buy time for it aggression, as Ukrainian forces battled numerous attacks along the whole front line in the east.
“We need to hurry up. We need speed — speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery…speed of decisions to limit Russian potential,” Zelenskiy told the Munich Security Conference by video link on February 17.
Zelenskiy said that while Western countries were haggling over tank deliveries to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was contemplating ways to “strangle” Ukraine’s neighbor, Moldova.
“It’s obvious that Ukraine is not going to be his last stop. He’s going to continue his movement all the way…including all the other states that at some point in time were part of the Soviet bloc,” Zelenskiy said.
President Maia Sandu said earlier this week that Chisinau had information that Russia was preparing a coup against Moldova’s pro-Western government with the help of foreign saboteurs.
The conference is being attended by the leaders of France and Germany, as well U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg among others.
Speaking at the conference, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said any country that can send battle tanks should do so now. Scholz added that he would be “intensively campaigning” to get allies to deliver battle tanks they promised to Ukraine last month.
French President Emmanuel Macron told the conference it was of utmost importance that Western allies step up their military aid for Ukraine so that Kyiv will be able to launch a counteroffensive, which would put Ukraine in better position for “credible negotiations” that it determines itself.
He said, however, that now was not the time for talks with an aggressive Russia.
“We absolutely need to intensify our support and our effort to the resistance of the Ukrainian people and its army and help them to launch a counteroffensive, which alone can allow credible negotiations, determined by Ukraine, its authorities and its people,” Macron said, adding that now was not the time for talks with an aggressive Russia.
“It is not the time for dialogue because we have a Russia which has chosen war, which has chosen to intensify the war, and which has chosen to go as far as committing war crimes and to attacking civilian infrastructures,” he said.
Officials in Kyiv said earlier in the day that Ukrainian forces had repelled Russian attacks on multiple settlements over the past day, as Russia continued to target Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.
The Russian military launched 41 missile strikes on Ukraine in the past day and five of them hit the Kharkiv region, Ukraine’s military said in its morning bulletin. Ukrainian air defenses shot down 16 of the missiles, the military’s General Staff added.
Ukrainian officials say that the Russian military has begun using dummy missiles to mislead Ukraine’s increasingly sophisticated air defenses.
The Russian Army also carried out 24 air strikes, the bulletin said. The attacks caused casualties among the civilian population, the General Staff said, but didn’t provide further details.
Reports say 50 houses and one industrial plant were damaged by the latest attacks.
“Unfortunately, there are hits in the north, west, and in the Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovohrad regions,” Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential office, said on Telegram.
Local officials said that at least one person was killed and eight others wounded in a missile strike in Pavlohrad in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Three missiles hit what was described as critical infrastructure in the Lviv region in the country’s west. Russian missiles also hit targets in the central regions of Poltava and Kirovohrad and in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian military has been using massive missile strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, especially its power supply, since early October.
Russia has seized large swathes of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine since it attacked the country on February 24 last year, but it has also suffered many defeats and retreats.
Kyiv anticipates possible Russian provocations on February 23-24, and the military is on heightened alert, Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said.
February 23 is Russia’s Day of the Defender of the Fatherland, previously known as Day of the Soviet Army and Navy, and is “sacred” for the Russian military. That will be followed by the anniversary of the invasion, Ihnat said.
“These are two such dates that are obviously worth waiting for. It is not necessary to wait, but to be vigilant and in high combat readiness,” he said. “We are waiting for possible provocations. We will adequately respond to them.”
Ihnat also noted that Russian tactics had changed in that they had begun to strike at night with cruise missiles without preliminary flights by Iranian-made Shahed drones.
Zelenskiy said later on February 17 that Ukraine next week will present a resolution to the United Nations on a “comprehensive, just, and sustainable peace in Ukraine.” Zelenskiy made the comment in an address to a summit of the leaders of the Caribbean Commonwealth and called on them to support the resolution.
There is not much hope for the resolution because Russia holds veto power on the UN Security Council. In addition, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Putin had not shown a scrap of interest in ending the war.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said that the Russian casualty rate has significantly increased since September 2022, when the Kremlin imposed “partial mobilization.”
According to the ministry’s daily intelligence report, Russian forces have likely suffered up to 200,000 casualties since the start of the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The figure includes approximately 40,000 to 60,000 killed, the report said on February 17.
The figures represent a high ratio of personnel killed compared to those wounded, according to the British intelligence.
“This is almost certainly due to extremely rudimentary medical provision across much of the force,” it said.
U.S. spokesman Kirby said the Russian mercenary company Wagner Group had suffered more than 30,000 casualties in Ukraine. The United States estimates that 90 percent of Wagner fighters killed since December were convicts, he said.
Source : Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty