A fierce wave of Russian strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure killed 11 people on Thursday, a day after Germany and the United States pledged heavy tanks to Kyiv.
The massive military aid pushed aside longstanding misgivings among the Allies and showed increased Western support for a counter-offensive against the Russian invasion.
The latest wave of Russian attacks came as the Kremlin said it viewed the tanks as “direct participants in the conflict”.
Many Ukrainians welcomed the move. “This should have happened sooner and in larger quantities,” a doctor who gave only her first name, Lisa, told AFP near the frontline city of Bakhmut.
as a result Ukraine’s emergency services said the latest Russian missile strikes killed 11 people and wounded 11 others.
Earlier today, officials said a 55-year-old man was killed in Kyiv by shrapnel from a missile dropped by Ukrainian air defense systems.
The Ukrainian military said its forces had destroyed 47 of the 55 missiles it fired Russia.
since october, Russia Launching regular strikes against energy infrastructure across Ukraine, as temperatures approach freezing.
German Energy Minister Galushenko accused Russia In striving to “create a systemic failure in the Ukrainian energy system”.
Electricity supplies stabilized in Kyiv in the afternoon, but in the southern Black Sea region of Odessa, “emergency power outages will continue,” energy company DTEK said.
The attacks delayed a visit by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who arrived in Odessa to discuss aid with Ukraine’s top diplomat, Dmytro Kuleba.
The United States said on Wednesday it would provide 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave the go-ahead for 14 Leopard II tanks — a decision that opened the door for many other European nations armed with the Panthers to send their own contributions.
The British government said it was aiming to send tanks at the end of March, with training to begin next week.
Although Western countries have already sent Ukraine everything from artillery to Patriot anti-missile defense systems, the tanks were long considered a step too far, threatening a backlash from Russia.
But as Ukraine prepares to launch a counterattack to fend off Russians increasingly entrenched to the east and south, the allies are now scrambling to fight back.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Thursday that the Leopard tanks promised by Berlin will arrive in “late March early April.”
He added that training of Ukrainian forces on German Mardier infantry vehicles would begin in the next few days, and “a little later” for Ukrainian soldiers who would be training on the Leopard.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the tank shipments represented “direct participation in the conflict”.
But Paris insisted that neither France nor its allies would go to war against it Russia.
“We are not at war with you Russia “None of our partners are,” said State Department spokeswoman Ann Claire Legendre.
“The handing over of military equipment… does not constitute joint combat.”
After a series of setbacks on the battlefield, Russia Ukraine announced gains on the eastern front, as Ukraine admitted to withdrawing its forces from the town of Solidar in the Donetsk region.
Russian forces and units with the mercenary group Wagner claimed two weeks ago to have captured a small salt mining town.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Jana Malyar, said on Wednesday that Moscow was stepping up pressure on the eastern front, in the fight for nearby Bakhmut.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War said Russia He was engaging in “spoiler attacks across most of the front lines in Ukraine in order to disperse and distract Ukrainian forces”.
It added that these measures aim to “set conditions for launching a decisive offensive operation” in the eastern Luhansk region.
As Russian forces advanced, the head of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR told AFP that Kyiv and European governments should prepare for a possible wave of people fleeing the fighting.
He said that despite repeated offers of help, Russia He was still giving the agency limited access to the Ukrainians there.
“Any worsening of the war risks more displacement, one way or another, and we need to be prepared for that,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in Kyiv.
Separately, Ukraine has threatened to boycott the 2024 Olympics in Paris if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said ways to allow competitors from Russia And Belarus should be “explored” further, despite both being excluded from most Olympic sports since Ukraine’s invasion last February.
“Such a situation is unacceptable for our country,” said Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guzet.
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