Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 342 of the invasion | Ukraine
The United States will not provide the F-16 fighter jets that Ukraine has sought in its fight against Russia, President Joe Biden said Monday, as Russian forces claimed a series of incremental gains in the country’s east.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s most senior adviser, Andriy Yermak, has suggested that Poland is willing to supply Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets. Yermak said Ukraine had “positive signals” from Warsaw in a Telegram post, although Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was careful to stress that his own country would only act in consultation with NATO allies, as Ukraine ‘s lobbying for the fighter jets is only increasing. a few days after Germany and the US agreed to send over tanks.
Zelenskiy called for faster supplies of Western weapons. The Ukrainian president said in his nightly speech that Russia hoped to drag out the war and exhaust his country’s ability to resist the invaders. “So we have to make time our weapon. We need to speed up the events, speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weapons options for Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.
The Kremlin has warned that the west’s supply of further weapons to Ukraine will only lead to “significant escalation” of the conflict. Kiev is “demanding more and more weapons” as NATO countries “become more and more directly involved in the conflict”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk appealed to Germany to send his country a submarine.
Russian forces continued attacks on positions across the front line near the eastern cities of Bakhmut and Donetsk. Moscow’s troops have been pounding Bakhmut in the Donbas for several months, but in recent days the invaders appeared to have launched a new effort to gain ground around the village of Vuhledar, 30 miles southwest of Donetsk city.
The situation in Bakhmut and Vuhledar was “very difficult” with both areas and other parts of the Donetsk region “under continuous Russian attacks”, President Zelenskiy said. Vuhledar is close to the junction with the southern Zaporizhzhia front and is considered a pivot point for both sides, but remains held by the Ukrainians despite a claim to the contrary by the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Ukraine’s military and Russia’s private military group Wagner both claim control in the area of Blahodatne, eastern Donetsk region. “Units of the army of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of … Blahodatne … in the Donetsk region,” Ukraine’s army reported, adding that its forces also repelled attacks in 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region fended off. Wagner, designated by the US as a transnational criminal organization, said on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday that his units had taken control of Blahodatne.
The Russian government on Monday banned domestic oil exporters and customs bodies from abiding by Western-imposed price caps on Russian crude. The measure was issued to help enforce President Vladimir Putin’s Dec. 27 decree that banned the supply of crude oil and oil products to nations adhering to the caps for five months starting Feb. 1. The new Russian law prohibits corporations and individuals from including oil price capping mechanisms in their contracts.
Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator Ukrenergo said there was a “significant” shortfall in the country’s energy system due to damage caused by Russian missile strikes. Ukraine’s energy system “survived” 13 rocket attacks and 15 drone strikes by Russian forces, which “caused significant damage to high-voltage facilities and power plants”, he added.
Ukraine’s military will spend nearly $550m (£444m / €505m) on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in 2023, and 16 supply agreements have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said. Ukraine has received significant supplies of UAVs from its partners, but Kyiv is now seeking to boost domestic production to build what officials see as an “army of drones.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv on Monday. The two “reviewed the state of the region’s energy infrastructure, the means of its protection and the pace of recovery,” and discussed the impact of Russian missile and drone strikes, Zelenskiy posted to Telegram.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged South Korea to increase military support to Ukraine, suggesting it is reconsidering its policy of not exporting arms to countries in conflict. Stoltenberg thanked South Korea for its non-lethal aid to Ukraine but urged it to do more, adding there was an “urgent need” for ammunition.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the tanks donated to Ukraine would arrive on the front line “this summer”. Britain should be “really proud” to lead the world in supporting Ukraine and standing up to Russian aggression, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said.
The president of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, criticized Western countries for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons. Speaking to reporters in Zagreb, Milanović said he was “against sending any lethal weapons” to Kiev, arguing that providing weapons to Ukraine would only “prolong the war” and that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that seized and annexed by Russia in 2014, will “never be part of Ukraine again”.
The new US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, was heckled by a crowd of people chanting anti-American slogans as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow to present her diplomatic credentials. Protests in Russia – especially on issues related to the war – are effectively banned unless they have the support of the authorities.