A snapshot of recent news from sources around the world on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was in Switzerland to discuss his concept of a peace plan to end the war with Russia. Switzerland has offered to host a peace summit to bring the conflict to a close, but Russia has not been involved in any talks at this point.
Leaked German documents paint a worst-case scenario of potential escalation in the Ukraine war. Obtained by Bild newspaper, they map out a scenario where Russia, after subduing Ukraine, sets its sights on NATO countries. This extremely unlikely event is standard practice in military planning.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continued support from the U.S., despite an ongoing stalemate in Congress over a $60 billion supplemental aid package for Kyiv. Congressional leaders were invited to the White House this week to discuss the supplemental spending request.
Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened Ukraine’s statehood, saying it could suffer an “irreparable blow” if the war continues. Putin also said Russia would not abandon territorial gains it has made during the protracted conflict.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected Washington’s proposal on resuming arms control talks, stating that Moscow would not talk to Washington on the issue while the U.S. backs Ukraine.
Military Assistance to Ukraine
EU to audit arms supplies to Ukraine amid claims of lagging support. Western aid to Ukraine has fallen, raising concerns about waning commitment after nearly two years of war.
At Davos, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated, “Ukrainians need predictable financing throughout 2024 and beyond. They need a sustained supply of weapons to defend Ukraine and regain its rightful territory.”
France plans to supply Ukraine with 40 additional Scalp-EG cruise missiles and hundreds of bombs, French President Emmanuel Macron announced. He also said France’s defense industry is working on building capacity to increase production of equipment for Ukraine, including 155mm Caesar howitzers.
Kyiv ordered six Caesar howitzers, French Defense Minister Sebastian Lecornu said on Thursday. He added that Paris would spend EUR50 million to purchase another 12 for Ukraine. Manufacturer Nexter has productive capacity to produce another 60 howitzers in addition to those 18, Lecornu said, adding he hoped other allies would jump in to share some of the cost burden.
Germany continues to oppose the delivery of Taurus missiles to Ukraine. On Wednesday, German lawmakers voted down a proposal that would have supplied the cruise missiles to the Ukrainian military.
Slovakia’s parliament narrowly approved a measure that puts the Defense Ministry in charge of approving arms exports, likely enabling Slovakian companies to continue sending arms to Ukraine, despite pledges from Prime Minister Robert Fico that the country would curtail its military deliveries.
Bulgaria still needs to figure out how to pay for the logistics costs of shipping armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, Defense Minister Todor Tagarev said this week. Sofia has pledged to deliver 100 BTR-60PBs to Ukraine.
The THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) delivered by Milrem Robotics to Ukrainian armed forces in the war with Russia are being taken full advantage of during demining, route clearance, re-supply and other missions according to feedback shared with the company.
The Ukrainian government is purchasing additional weapons from France. Safran will deliver its Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) to the Ukrainian military. In addition, France will provide six Caesar howitzers to Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces are shifting primarily to a defensive posture, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a recent interview with Reuters, shifting to smaller-scale engagements as part of an “active defence” strategy. He noted that Russia has been aiming to advance along multiple lines in the east, with an aim of controlling the entire Donbas region.
Ukraine says it shot down a Russian Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft and an Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command aircraft over the Azov Sea.
A pair of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles were able to incapacitate a T-90, Russia’s primary modern battle tank. Drone footage of the encounter was released online.
Russia is beginning to focus its air strikes on Ukraine’s arms factories. Previously, Moscow had targeted Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, bombing the electrical grid and power generation plants.
Russian conducted another air strike on Ukraine. Moscow launched 33 Shahed 131/136 attack drones during the night of January 18. Russia also used two S-300 missiles to attack ground targets.