Russia intensifies front-line offensive – DW – 01/27/2023

Russian forces ratcheted up their attempts to break Ukraine’s defenses on Friday, with fighting escalating 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 pledges to supply tanks to Kyiv.

Officials reported heavy shelling in northern and eastern parts of the country, with some of the heaviest 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 to the enemy,” said Oleh Synehubov, governor of the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

Front lines have remained largely unchanged in the past two months, although Russia has made small gains in the east while also seeking to hold a corridor of seized land in southern Ukraine.

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

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

US advisers urge Ukraine to shift focus away from Bakhmut

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

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

Germany’s 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 aircrafts are much more complex systems than main battle tanks and have a completely different range and firepower,” Pistorius said in an interview with German daily newspaper. Süddeutsche Zeitung.

“We would venture into dimensions that I would currently warn against.”

First troop visit for Germany’s defense minister

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

The minister said that the €100 billion ($108 billion) fund to reform the German army announced by Chancellor 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 raising Germany’s annual defense budget, which is currently around €50 billion.

Pistorius said that Germany’s decision to suspend compulsory military service in 2011 was a mistake.

Russia blocks CIA, FBI websites

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

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

Russian news agency TASS quoted Roskomnadzor as saying that the two websites had published inaccurate material and information on 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.

“Latvia’s ambassador Maris Riekstins was ordered to leave the Russian Federation within two weeks,” the ministry said in a statement.

Can Putin’s propaganda destabilize Latvia?

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

The ministry said that 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 its relations with Russia in April.

Germany says Russia twisting minister’s comments

The German Foreign Ministry says Russia is seeking to twist the words of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock following her comments about the war in Ukraine.

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

In response to the uproar, a ministry spokesperson said Moscow was using the comments to its own ends.

“Russian propaganda continuously takes statements, sentences, stances, positions of the government, our partners and uses them to serve their purposes,” said the spokesperson.

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

Ukraine hit by barrage of missiles after securing tanks

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

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

Poland to deliver 60 more tanks

Poland is to send an extra 60 tanks, a decision that was hailed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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

Morawiecki added that, since the beginning of the war, Poland has “sent 250 tanks … or even more than that” 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 T-72 Soviet models, of which the PT-91 is a modernized version.

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

Belgium pledges cash and weapons

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

Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder acknowledged that Belgium had no main battle tanks to match the offers of NATO allies such as Britain, Germany, Poland and the United States. Belgium sold its tanks more than a decade ago.

Instead, Dedonder said the €93.8 million ($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 in humanitarian and civil aid, along with 38,000 tons of diesel fuel.

More DW coverage on the war in Ukraine

Some Russian and Belarusian athletes may be a step closer to being allowed to return to international competition. An International Olympic Committee proposal has been sharply criticized by Ukraine and athletes’ representatives.

Germany recently announced that it will supply 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Soon after that, videos surfaced online purporting to show the tanks already en route to the embattled country. DW checks the facts.

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

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

Germany says Ukraine will receive promised Leopard 2 tanks by early April. Russia has meanwhile fired more missiles as it continues its invasion. This and more from Thursday’s updates.

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

Leave a Comment