Ukraine updates: Kyiv decries deaths after Russian blitz – DW – 03/10/2023


Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has denounced Russia’s military for launching the largest wave of missiles and exploding drones on his territory in almost a month.

In his evening video message, Zelenskky said the massive pre-dawn airstrikesearlier on Thursday were “another attempt by the terrorist state to wage war against civilization.”

Ukraine said at least nine civilians were killed during the onslaught, which included missiles fired at Kyiv, and power was knocked out in several areas of the country.

Those killed were villagers in the western Lviv region, closer to the frontline in the central Dnieper region, and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials said.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces took control of a year ago, was left depending on backup generators for several hours.

Ukraine’s military said the country’s air defenses had shot down many drones and missiles during the pre-dawn wave of attacks on Thursday.

Kyiv said Russia had also fired six Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, which it had no way to stop.

Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians during its 12-month-long invasion. The Russian Defense Ministry said it had carried out a “massive retaliatory strike” as payback for a cross-border raid last week.

The Russian ministry claimed to have destroyed Ukrainian drone bases, disrupted railways and damaged facilities that make and repair arms.

Moscow also confirmed it had used Kinzhal — Russian for dagger — missiles in Thursday’s attack.

The White House said the missile barrage was “devastating” to see and Washington would continue to provide Ukraine with air defense capabilities.

Russia’s renewed attacks across Ukraine

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Here are some of the other notable developments concerning the war on Friday, March 10:

Ukrainians not behind Nord Stream pipeline sabotage — Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected as “ridiculous” new suggestions of Ukrainian involvement in the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline blasts last September.

“Ukrainians definitely did not do this,” Zelenskyy said during a joint press conference with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv. “This is ridiculous.”

According to Zelenskyy, the aim of recent publications in Western media about the alleged involvement of a pro-Ukrainian group was to slow down Western aid to Ukraine in the fight against Russia.

“I find it very dangerous that some independent media, for whom I have always had great respect, are making such moves,” he said. This, he added, only plays into the hands of Russia or certain business groups that oppose the imposition of sanctions. 

German lawmaker on Nord Stream blasts: ‘These are rumors, there is no proof’

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International Fencing Federation reopens its events to Russians and Belarusians

Fencing became the first Olympic sport to reopen its events to Russians and Belarusians, one year after their exclusion due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Russian and Belarusian fencers will be allowed to compete in International Fencing Federation (FIE) events after the matter was put to a vote at its Extraordinary Congress.

At the FIE’s Extraordinary Congress, more than 60% of nations voted in favour, which will allow Russians and Belarusians to compete at July’s World Fencing Championships in Milan.

In January, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had set out a path for athletes from the two countries to earn slots for the Olympics through Asian qualifying and to compete as neutrals, with some federations now allowing them back.

Canada bans Russian aluminum and steel imports

Canada banned the import of all Russian aluminum and steel products in a move that Ottawa said was aimed at denying Moscow the ability to fund its war against Ukraine.

“Ukraine can and must win this war. We continue to do everything we can to cut off or limit the revenue used to fund Putin’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

The ban covers both finished and unfinished products, and would impact the import of products such as aluminum sheets, aluminum containers as well steel tubes and pipes, according to the statement.

“We are ensuring Putin cannot pay for his war by selling aluminum and steel in Canada, in coordination with action taken by the United States today,” Freeland said.

Last month, the United States announced a 200% tariff on Russian aluminum and related products that came into effect on Friday.

Most of Georgian population is pro-Ukrainian, says ex-PM of Georgia

Former Georgia’s prime minister and prominent opposition figure Vano Merabishvili told DW correspondent Amien Essif that there is a sense of “full solidarity” between the peoples of Ukraine and Georgia.

Merabishvili reminded that Georgia was the first country to feel the Russia aggression. “In 2008 there was war between Russia and Georgia. Russia occupied about 20% of Georgian territory,” he said. 

However, according to Merabishvili, the current government of Georgia is pro-Russian. “But most of Georgian population is pro-Ukrainian,” he said. 

The latest protests in the center of Tbilisi have shown that Georgian society is pro-European and pro-Ukrainian, the politician said. “And our dream is to change the Georgian foreign policy and become the real members of European Union and NATO,” he said.

G7 renews pledge to support Ukraine energy sector

The Group of Seven (G7) and other like-minded organizations renewed their pledge to support Ukraine’s energy sector, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said after the group convened for a meeting.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Japan intends to provide about 10 autotransformers and 140 units of power-related equipment to Ukraine, according to a statement released by the Japanese foreign ministry.

During the meeting, which was co-hosted by Hayashi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Hayashi also praised Ukraine for overcoming “the harsh winter despite repeated Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.”

Russia has bombarded Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in recent months, and on Thursday launched missile strikes across Ukraine, killing at least six civilians and forcing a nuclear power plant off the grid.

Paris and London want to put Ukraine in the best possible position

France and Britain said they were in complete agreement on helping Ukraine to defeat the Russian invasion and it should be Kyiv that chooses when any peace talks start.

“We need to put our Ukrainian friends in the best possible position so that they determine the timing and terms of the negotiations,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in Paris after meeting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“We want Ukraine to win this war. We are absolutely united on this,” Sunak said.

Macron also added: “We are doing everything so that this war does not spread worldwide.”

The two sides said that they would jointly train Ukrainian marines.

US says Moscow aims to destablize Moldova

The Biden administration will give Moldova $300 million (€280 million) in energy assistance and share information with the country as Russia seeks to destabilize the former Soviet republic, the White House said.

White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters that while the United States sees no immediate military threat to Moldova, the administration believes Russia is seeking to weaken the small European country, manufacture an insurrection and install a more pro-Moscow government.

Russian proxy courts jail three Ukrainian soldiers

Kremlin-installed courts in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine have sentenced three Ukrainian servicemen, including a human rights activist, to lengthy prison terms for allegedly mistreating civilians, Russian investigators said.

“The supreme courts of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics issued sentences in three criminal cases against Ukrainian citizens Viktor Pokhozey, Maksym Butkevych and Vladislav Shel,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Moscow last year declared the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine part of Russia following referendums denounced by Kyiv and the West.

“All of them were found guilty of mistreating the civilian population and using prohibited methods (of fighting) in an armed conflict,” the statement added. 

Butkevych, a Ukrainian rights activist and co-founder of the independent Hromadske radio, and Shel were also convicted of attempted murder.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry denounced the verdicts as “illegal and void,” calling on the international community to “condemn” the trials and “demand” the soldiers’ release. 

Swiss government refuses re-export of arms to Ukraine

Switzerland’s government said it will not change its long-standing policy banning the transfer of Swiss-made arms to a third country despite growing pressure from countries to export them to Ukraine.

“The Federal Council is committed to the values of Swiss neutrality and will continue to work to ensure the benefits of neutrality are realised,” it said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Swiss lawmakers rejected a request to allow Germany to send Swiss-made tank shells to Ukraine. 

The vote by Switzerland’s National Council instead left in place strict export rules under the country’s War Materiel Act, which prohibits any country that purchases weapons or ammunition from Swiss firms from forwarding those goods to countries involved in an international conflict.

Wagner group opens recruitment centres in 42 Russian cities

The head of Russian mercenary group Wagner, who has been entangled in a power struggle with the Defense Ministry, announced the opening of recruitment centers in dozens of cities. 

“Recruitment centres for PMC Wagner have opened in 42 Russian cities,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement. “Despite the colossal resistance of the Ukrainian armed forces, we will move forward.”

Prigozhin also said that Ukraine was preparing a counteroffensive near the city of Bakhmut. “Yes, it is a well-known fact that the enemy is preparing a counteroffensive. Of course, we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening,” he said on social media.

The Wagner group spearheads the Russian attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Russia has made Bakhmut the main target of a winter offensive involving hundreds of thousands of reservists and mercenaries. 

It has succeeded in capturing the eastern part of the city and the outskirts to the north and south, but has so far failed to close a ring around Ukrainian defenders there.

Finland’s Marin visits Kyiv, meets Zelenskyy

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrived in Kyiv. It is her second visit to the Ukrainian capital.

Together with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, she attended the funeral of “Hero of Ukraine” Dmytro Kotsiubailo.

Marin and Zelenskyy laid flowers at the open coffin of the 27-year-old who was killed in fighting against Russian troops in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

Both leaders will hold talks later on Friday.

UK intelligence briefing details latest Russian onslaught

Britain’s Defense Ministry said the latest Russian air attacks had included at least 80 long-range missiles, which targeted critical Ukrainian infrastructure.

It said the blitz was likely one of the largest since December and the first major wave of long-range strikes since February 16.

The Ministry posited that the interval between the waves of strikes was likely due to the need to stockpile newly produced weapons before it has the resources to launch a big enough strike to “credibly overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses.”

Kyiv: 100 Russian attacks on Bakhmut repelled

Ukraine’s military said it warded off 102 Russian attacks on the eastern mining town of Bakhmut over the past 24 hours.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner private army which has led the fighting in the town, said Wednesday his forces controlled all of the city east of a river through it.

It is not possible to independently verify the battlefield reports.

Bakhmut has been the focus of months of fierce combat and both sides have sustained heavy losses in the battle for the town.

Moscow says Bakhmut’s capture will help its forces secure the surrounding Donbas region, a major war aim.

NATO has warned that Bakhmut could fall to Russia “in the coming days” but said it would “not necessarily reflect any turning point in the war.”

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Ukrainian defenders had foiled Russian attempts to completely surround Bakhmut from the west.

The frontline to the south had held for several days, but the Russians had made some headway in villages to the north.

An aide to Zelenskyy told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper that Ukraine has decided to fight on in the ruined city because the battle there is pinning down Russia’s best units.

“We have two objectives: to reduce their capable personnel as much as possible, and to fix them in a few key wearisome battles, to disrupt their offensive and concentrate our resources elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive,” said Mykhailo Podolyak. “So, today Bakhmut is completely effective, even exceeding its key tasks.”

Think tank: Wagner forces taking ‘tactical pause’ in Bakhmut

In its latest update, the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Russia’s Wagner forces maybe be conducting a temporary tactical pause in eastern Bakhmut to “wait for Russian reinforcements and replenish themselves.”

ISW said the private Russian army has been “conducting highly attritional frontal assaults on eastern Bakhmut for nine months and are likely not prepared to conduct a crossing of the Bakhmutka River to the Bakhmut city center at this time.”

It added that the offensive had “likely consumed a significant amount of Wagner personnel and resources” over the past nine months.

The think tank said it was unclear if Wagner fighters will retain their “operational preponderance” going forward.

“The arrival of an increased number of conventional Russian forces to the area may suggest that Russian forces intend to offset the possible culmination of Wagner’s offensive operations in Bakhmut with new conventional troops,” the ISW update added.

In its morning update Friday, the Ukrainian general staff reported a large number of attacks along the front and said “the enemy is not halting its attacks on Bakhmut.”

Pope: Ukraine war fought not over just Russia’s imperial interests

Pope Francis on Friday spoke of his readiness to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to help achieve peace in Ukraine.

Asked by the Italian Swiss television channel RSI what he would say to Putin, Francis said: “I would speak to him clearly as I speak in public. He is a cultured man.”

“On the second day of the war, I was at the Russian Embassy to the Holy See to say that I was willing to go to Moscow on condition that Putin would give me a window to negotiate,” the pope added. “[Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov wrote to me saying ‘Thank you but it’s not the time.’ Putin knows I’m available.”

Francis added that the conflict was fuelled by “imperial interests, not just of the Russian empire, but of empires from elsewhere.”

He said it was the work of empires “to put other nations in second place.”

His full interview will air Sunday but extracts were published Friday by Italian newspapers.

Moscow: Russia, US remain in contact over New START nuclear deal

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Friday said Russia and the United States remained in contact over the New START nuclear arms treaty, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

His comments come despite Moscow having suspended its participation in the deal.

Ryabkov said he had no expectations for significant progress from contact between Moscow and Washington.

The 2010 agreement limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads each side can deploy.

President Vladimir Putin announced last month that Moscow was suspending it, accusing the United States of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine.

dh,mm/fb,sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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