According to a media report, the Ukrainian military expects a Russian offensive in the next ten days. Moscow wants to hold elections in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The Greens parliamentary group leader Agniezka Brugger is pushing for a faster delivery of tanks to Ukraine. All the latest news on the Ukraine war can be found in the Newsticker.
9.10 a.m .: Is a new Russian offensive in Ukraine threatening sooner than expected? An adviser to Ukraine’s military told the Financial Times that Kyiv had received “very solid information about Russia’s intention” to launch a new attack. The unspecified source calculated that the offensive could take place within ten days.
This period is much shorter than previously formulated by Ukraine. Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov recently spoke of a symbolic attack by the Russians on the anniversary of the war (February 24). According to the Financial Times, the Russians could attack earlier in order to get on the offensive before the planned deliveries of Western main battle tanks to Ukraine. Not all military experts agree on whether Russia would be capable of launching a new major offensive with its current army.
8.55 a.m .: With elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories, according to British estimates, Russia wants to present the regions as an integral part of the Russian Federation. “This follows ongoing attempts to ‘russify’ the occupied areas, which includes overhauling education, communications and transport systems,” the Ministry of Defense said in London on Monday, citing intelligence findings. The leadership in Moscow will use the “self-confirming argument” that new elections justify the occupation.
The chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, recently announced that preparations for the elections were already underway. According to British information, these alleged votes are scheduled for September 10th and should therefore take place on the same day as in the Russian regions. The British ministry stressed that in Russia, even in regional elections, “no meaningful democratic” choices were available.
Monday, February 6, 2023, 6:43 a.m .: The deputy leader of the Greens parliamentary group, Agnieszka Brugger, has called on Germany’s European partners to act quickly on the delivery of battle tanks. “In view of the threat of a major Russian offensive, we have no time to lose in a major European effort to give Ukraine all the tank systems that we can somehow spare,” she told the “Tagesspiegel” (Monday). That is in the European interest. “Especially the states that have loudly demanded and announced contributions in recent weeks must now deliver in the truest sense of the word.” Putin cannot be stopped by “pithy words”, but by “concrete support” of Ukraine.
“Chancellor Scholz and Defense Minister Pistorius are in talks with their EU partners almost every day,” said SPD Secretary General Kevin Kühnert on Sunday in the ZDF “heute journal”. “You really have to put it this way: everything that is needed to actually be able to deliver these two tank battalions, which have been promised, to the Ukraine is now being collected in individual quantities.”
10:55 p.m .: After speculation about the criticized Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov, the follow-up discussion picked up full speed on Sunday evening. The leader of the parliamentary faction of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party, David Arakhamiya, announced on Telegram in the evening that Reznikov would be promoted to the post of Minister of Strategic Industry. The new defense minister should be the previous head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov. “At this stage, security agencies should be led by professional security officials, not politicians,” Arachamija wrote.
However, there was no official statement on the possible change of personnel. Only late in the afternoon did Resnikov declare that he would not vacate his seat until President Zelensky asked him to do so. “According to the constitution, the decision whether someone becomes defense minister or not is made by one person – the Commander-in-Chief and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” he said. So far, he has not commented.
Resnikov had come under criticism after a series of scandals surrounding corruption and wasting money in his ministry.
6:08 p.m .: According to information from the Wall Street Journal, Moscow and Tehran are pushing ahead with plans to build a new drone factory in Russia. According to this, around 6,000 drones designed by Iran could be manufactured there for the war in Ukraine. It is the latest sign of a deepening of cooperation between the two nations, the newspaper quoted representatives of a country allied with the USA as saying.
Already in early January, a high-level Iranian delegation is said to have flown to Russia to visit the planned site of the factory and work out details to get the project up and running. According to the US, Iran has already supplied Russia with hundreds of drones that have been used to attack military and civilian targets in Ukraine.
11.05 a.m .: The Russian journalist and historian Nikolay Mitrokhin spoke in an interview about the current situation in the Ukraine war. In an interview with “n-tv” he identified “two central problems” that the Ukrainian army is currently struggling with. One is defense against enemy missiles. “This is where NATO can help Ukraine, because the new Russian missiles can only be intercepted by modern systems, such as the German Iris-T system or the American Patriot air defense system,” says Mitrokhin. The second problem: an ammunition shortage. “The Ukrainian army does not have enough ammunition for its Soviet artillery systems. There are still plants in Romania and Bulgaria that produce such grenades, but the quantities are not sufficient.”
The state-owned Ukrainian armaments company Ukroboronprom is trying to take countermeasures and is therefore currently building an ammunition factory outside of Ukraine. In an “Eastern European NATO state,” as Mitrokhin explains. Soviet-type artillery ammunition is to be manufactured there. “In my opinion, that’s the right tactic. Unfortunately, there are not many such initiatives,” he adds.
And the historian sees another problem. “Ukraine has enough ammunition to defend itself, but not enough to retake territory occupied by Russia. For the offensives that would be necessary for this, not only ammunition is missing, but also tanks, combat aircraft and helicopters.” Above all, the recapture of the Donbass is difficult. On the other hand, he sees better opportunities in southern Ukraine.
And Crimea is not an unrealistic goal either, especially if the army in the south of the country is able to record successes. “If Ukraine can liberate the shore of the Sea of Azov, then it can finally destroy the Crimean bridge over the Kerch Strait and with it the central supply line of Crimea,” Mitrokhin told n-tv. The Ukrainian sea drones, which are already being used to attack Russian ships, would then help. “If Ukraine can liberate the Mariupol region, then from the Russian point of view Crimea is in real danger,” the Russian journalist concludes.
Mitrokhin also speaks about the problems of the Russian army. “I think the Russians wanted to launch a new offensive in the winter, but they have a similar problem to Ukraine: they don’t have enough ammunition. And not only that. They also lack equipment,” says the historian.
This leads to further problems and takes away the advantage of the significantly larger number of soldiers for the Russians. “The poor supply also severely limits the use of the newly mobilized forces. There is not enough equipment, food and supplies for so many people,” explains Mithrokin. He assumes that the Russians “will not be able to carry out larger operations until May or early June”.
05.03: The first of the four Leopard 2 tanks promised by Canada is on its way to Ukraine. A Canadian Air Force aircraft “taken off from Halifax carrying the first Leopard 2 main battle tank we are supplying to Ukraine,” Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted on Saturday.
“Canada stands in solidarity with Ukraine and we will continue to provide Ukrainian forces with the equipment they need for victory,” the minister added. In another post on Twitter, Anand posted a video showing the tank being loaded onto the plane and the machine taking off.
Canada announced at the end of January that it wanted to deliver four German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine against the background of the Russian war of aggression.
12:31 a.m .: Oil products from Russia may no longer be imported into the European Union from this Sunday. The import restriction is based on a sanctions regulation passed by the 27 member states last June because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. It came into force shortly after the decision, but provided for a long transitional period for the oil products embargo. The import of Russian crude oil into the EU has been largely banned since last December. There is only one exception to the oil products embargo for Croatia.
Also effective this Sunday is a regulation intended to force Russia to sell oil products below the market price to buyers in other countries. For products such as diesel, it provides for a price ceiling of 100 US dollars (around 92 euros) per barrel, for lower-quality petroleum products such as heating oil it should be 45 dollars (around 41 euros) per barrel (159 liters). For comparison: on international exchanges, a barrel of diesel for delivery to Europe was last traded at prices equivalent to around 100 to 120 euros.
Both measures are intended to help limit Russian trade gains, thereby also limiting Russia’s warfare capabilities. According to the EU Commission, the upper price limit for Russian crude oil deliveries to third countries, which was introduced last December, is estimated to cost Russia around 160 million euros a day. The aim of the price cap is, however, to prevent new price jumps on the international markets in order to protect the EU states and third countries.
Sunday, February 5, 12:00 a.m.: The Union has called for reservists and veterans to be used to train Ukrainian soldiers on the Leopard 1. “If the industry cannot guarantee the training on its own, reservists and veterans should support them,” said Florian Hahn (CSU), the Union’s defense policy spokesman, to BILD am SONNTAG. “These tank drivers know the strengths and weaknesses of the Leopard 1 best. And that is vital in combat with Russian units.”
7:08 p.m .: The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the situation in Ukraine as a result of the war as one of eight acute health emergencies worldwide. According to a report by the UN organization, 14,000 civilian casualties were documented in the first nine months of last year.
17.7 million people needed humanitarian assistance. 7.5 million Ukrainians are fleeing in Europe. According to the report presented to the Executive Board by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, out of 471 heavy weapon attacks on health facilities worldwide, 448 occurred in Ukraine.
1:37 p.m .: The Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has firmly promised the delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but has left the exact number open. His country is currently in contact with Germany about the overhaul of Leopard tanks, the Portuguese state news agency Lusa reported on Saturday.
“We are currently working on being able to do without some of our tanks. I know how many tanks will be sent (by us to Ukraine), but that will only be announced in due course,” Costa said during a visit by the Portuguese military mission to the Central African Republic. As a possible date for the posting, Costa mentioned a period of time “until the end of March” on the state TV broadcaster RTP.
Now the contacts with Germany are about “a logistical operation to deliver parts to complete the repair of some of the (combat) vehicles that were not ready for use,” Costa said, according to Lusa. Despite the deliveries of tanks to Ukraine, Portuguese defense capability must be guaranteed, also in order to be able to fulfill NATO tasks. Therefore, currently non-operational tanks would need to be repaired to replace operational Leopards to be delivered to Ukraine.
The Ministry of Defense has not yet confirmed a report by the newspaper “Correio da Manhã” from the end of January, according to which Portugal is preparing to deliver four Leopard tanks. The Portuguese Armed Forces have a total of 37 Leopard 2A6s, which were bought used from the Netherlands years ago.
Saturday, February 4, 8:40 a.m.: Panzer Chancellor Olaf Scholz is currently having to put pressure on the German partners because they are refusing to make firm commitments to supply main battle tanks to Ukraine. This is reported by the “Spiegel”. Accordingly, there is more restraint among the allies. Not a single European country apart from Germany has so far promised a delivery, it is said.
Germany and the western partners actually want to send two battalions of 44 Leopard 2 tanks each to Ukraine. But: “The formation of the battalions turns out to be a feat of strength,” quotes the “Spiegel” from a response from the federal government. Scholz started a “diplomatic initiative” to get the missing tanks together. Germany wants to deliver 14 of the 88 main battle tanks required.
Scholz, his Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and the Federal Foreign Office recently tried to forge a delivery coalition. So far, however, without success, according to the “Spiegel”. Even countries like the Netherlands, which have already publicly announced a delivery, do not want to commit themselves, they say.
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