The Ukrainian interior minister and his deputy have died in a helicopter crash near Kyiv. Selenskyj now instructed the secret service to investigate. Chancellor Scholz is ready to deliver Leopard tanks – on one condition. All news about the Ukraine war can be found in the Newsticker.
1:02 p.m .: The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced the capture of the village of Klishchiyivka on the southern edge of the small town of Bakhmut, which is considered strategically important. “In the Donetsk region, the village of Klishchiyivka was liberated by storm trooper volunteers with the support of the air force, missile forces and artillery,” said military spokesman Igor Konashenkov in Moscow on Friday. The information could not be independently verified. Heavy fighting is currently taking place on the front in the Bakhmut area in eastern Ukraine.
Last week, the Russian side had already reported the capture of the town of Soledar north of Bakhmut. Kyiv has not yet confirmed the loss of the city. According to the British secret service, the Ukrainians left there on Monday.
With the capture of Klishchiyivka, the danger of the Ukrainian garrison in Bakhmut becoming encircled increased. The city is a major transport hub and is considered part of Ukraine’s defensive wall between Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the last major agglomeration controlling Kyiv in the eastern Donbass region. The Kremlin has named the conquest of the Donbass as one of its war goals.
11:22 a.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has asked the West to speed up arms deliveries to his country attacked by Russia. The time is critical, he said in a video link at the meeting of defense ministers and military officials from numerous countries at the US Ramstein Air Force Base in Rhineland-Palatinate. Russia is currently gathering its strength, its last strength. “We have to get faster.” The Russian terror does not allow long discussions. “The Kremlin must lose.”
Zelenskyy thanked the assembled representatives of Western countries for their support to date. “We see the results on the battlefield in Ukraine.” But the defenders of freedom were slowly running out of weapons. In Ramstein, concrete decisions would have to be made about the delivery of aircraft, missiles and long-range artillery, for example, in order to be able to end Russian terror.
Friday, January 20, 8:37 a.m.: Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) has promised Ukraine further support for electricity supply, warming rooms, medical care and municipal administrations in the amount of 52 million euros. According to her ministry on Friday, Schulze met the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction, Oleksandr Kubrakow, during a visit to Odessa on Thursday for talks about German-Ukrainian cooperation in the reconstruction of Ukraine.
“The supply of electricity, heat and water, especially now in the dead of winter, is one of the factors that determine the resilience of Ukrainian society in this war,” explained Schulze. Therefore, Ukraine not only needs weapons, but also civilian support “to stay strong”. With her visit, she wants to show that Germany is also “solidarity with Ukraine” during reconstruction.
The minister visited four projects in and around Odessa. During a visit to a warming room, Schulze found out about the role played by local authorities in, among other things, caring for internally displaced persons. Among other things, generators and medical equipment from Germany are used there.
Schulze also visited a substation that had already been damaged twice by Russian shelling and then repaired. According to its own statements, the Development Ministry has been supporting the Ukrainian energy supplier Ukrenergo for many years in modernizing the power grid and also in repairing it during the war.
Schulze also visited a center of the UN children’s charity Unicef, which is also supported by the Federal Ministry for Development. The facility helps children and their families to cope with war trauma and refugee experiences.
With a visit to the Odessa grain port, Schulze wanted to make it clear, according to her ministry, “that Germany and Ukraine also have a common focus on solving global problems such as the global hunger crisis.”
5:27 p.m .: Great Britain wants to send 600 more Brimstone missiles to Ukraine to support the country in its fight against Russia. This was announced by Defense Minister Ben Wallace on Thursday at the Estonian military base in Tapa. He did not initially provide any further information on the time of delivery.
Wallace attended a meeting of defense ministers from several European countries in Tapa, initiated by his Estonian colleague Hanno Pevkur and himself. At the meeting at the military base about 150 kilometers from the Russian border, the participants adopted a joint statement on military aid to Ukraine; in addition to Wallace, others also presented further aid for Kyiv.
“What Ukraine needs most are heavy weapons to take the initiative and stand against Russia,” said host Pevkur. Lithuania’s Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas stressed that support for the Ukrainian armed forces must be unlimited and called for the supply of main battle tanks.
Wallace was confident in front of journalists. “I think Germany will come with us on this trip,” he said, advising other countries against supplying Leopard tanks to Kyiv without German approval. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had hinted that Poland could supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine without waiting for German approval.
4:04 p.m .: The United States could soon approve a Ukrainian attack on Crimea, reports the New York Times, citing government sources. That would be a crucial turning point, because since the Russian invasion, Biden and his administration have taken a hard line on this, refusing to arm Kyiv to attack the peninsula.
But now that attitude is softening, the report says. The US government decided that “Kyiv needs the strength to attack the Russian sanctuary,” NYT said. At the negotiating table, Ukraine is in a better position with a weakened Russian position in Crimea.
In addition, it is already being discussed whether US HIMARS multiple rocket launchers and Bradley armored personnel carriers could help the Ukrainian troops in the conquest of Crimea and in an attack on the land bridge. However, the topic of concrete weapon assistance has not yet been decided .
Crimea has been under Russian control since 2014, and many Russian military bases are located on the peninsula. Under international law, however, it belongs to Ukraine.
3:55 p.m .: The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj does not seem to believe after rumors about alleged doubles of Vladimir Putin that the Kremlin chief is still alive. “I don’t finally understand if he’s alive,” said Zelenskyj via video at the World Economic Forum in Davos, according to a statement on Thursday. He is not sure whether the 70-year-old shown on the screens is the real Putin. It is also unclear who makes decisions in Russia at all, said the 44-year-old on the question of possible negotiations between Russia and Ukraine on peace.
The Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov once said that he believed there were several doubles of Putin. In fact, Putin once said that he had been advised in the past to use a double at official meetings for security reasons. “The idea came up, but I gave up on doubles,” he said.
The Kremlin has now again rejected the doubts expressed by Kyiv about Putin’s existence. For Zelenskyy, the existence of Putin and Russia is a psychological problem, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The sooner Kyiv realizes that both Russia and Putin will stay in the future, the better for Ukraine.
According to Peskov, Putin only took an ice bath on Thursday. Epiphany, the festival of the Baptist, is celebrated in Russia on January 19. Millions of Orthodox Christians traditionally go ice bathing on the day to wash away their sins. The head of the Kremlin has also been keen to show himself in front of the camera during the procedure for several years. However, this time there was no photo of it.
2:38 p.m .: The EU Parliament calls for an international special court to investigate alleged war crimes in the war against Ukraine. Atrocities reported from Bucha, Irpin and many other Ukrainian cities show the importance of coordinated international action, the European Parliament said on Thursday after MEPs voted in favor of a resolution by a large majority. Parliament’s decision is not legally binding.
A special court would complement the investigative efforts of the International Criminal Court, it said. According to the will of the deputies, such a court should investigate not only Russian President Vladimir Putin and the political and military leadership of Russia, but also the political and military leadership in Belarus. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court based in The Hague is already investigating the situation in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the adoption of the resolution in the European Parliament. “I call on all our partners to support such a tribunal,” he wrote on Twitter. Russia must be held accountable for its war of aggression.
According to investigations by the Ukrainian authorities so far, Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in several areas. For example, after the withdrawal of Russian units from the Kiev suburb of Bucha, the bodies of more than 400 people were discovered there. Most of them had died violent deaths. The investigations are ongoing.
10:30 a.m.: Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has announced the capture of the village of Klishchiyivka near the embattled town of Bakhmut. According to a message from Prigozhin, his mercenaries had completely taken over the place.
However, the Wagner boss praises the Ukrainian forces for their resistance. The enemy would by no means flee from Bakhmut. “The Ukrainian army works cleanly and in a well-coordinated manner. We can learn a lot from her,” says Prigozhin.
All statements made by the mercenary troop leader should always be treated with caution. On the one hand, he likes to stylize the Wagner fighters, often as the only successful formation of the Russian armed forces. In addition, he rarely resists a dig at the Russian Ministry of Defense and its conduct of the war – here apparently in the form of praise for the enemy.
Thursday, January 19, 2023, 6:44 a.m.: After the death of Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj and 13 other people in a helicopter crash, the background is still unclear. President Volodymyr Zelenskyj said in a video speech on Wednesday evening that he had commissioned the secret service to investigate. He promised clarification. Monastyrskyj and Deputy Interior Minister Yehwhenij Jenin, who was also killed, are not politicians who “can easily be replaced”. “It’s really a great loss for the state.”
According to the latest information, a child is among the dead in the crash, which occurred on Wednesday morning in a residential area near a kindergarten near the capital Kyiv. Up to 18 dead, including four children, had previously been mentioned. The Ukrainian side then corrected their information downwards without further explanation.
The Airbus H225 helicopter used is not considered particularly reliable. Against the background of the Russian war of aggression, against which Ukraine has been defending itself for almost eleven months, shooting down or sabotage was not ruled out.
According to the Ukrainian presidential office, the interior ministry’s leadership was on its way to one of the front sections. The duties of Interior Minister were temporarily assigned to Police Chief Ihor Klymenko.
8:27 p.m .: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not comment on the demands for German main battle tank deliveries. Now the SPD politician is said to be ready to send these tanks to the Ukraine after all. But only under one condition, according to a report in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
The newspaper has information that Scholz spoke to Joe Biden on the phone today. He told the US President that he could only meet the demands for main battle tank deliveries if the USA in turn delivered “Abrams” type main battle tanks.
Scholz has always emphasized that Germany will not go it alone when it comes to military support for Ukraine. Biden apparently did not commit himself to the conversation. The United States is therefore demanding that the Chancellery not only allow other countries to supply Leopard 2 main battle tanks, but also supply them itself. A meeting of the Ukraine contact group is taking place in Ramstein this Friday at the invitation of the USA.
The Chancellery did not want to comment on the reports in the evening. In the debate about arms deliveries since the beginning of the war almost a year ago, Scholz has always emphasized that Germany will not go it alone, but will always coordinate important steps closely with its partners – especially with the USA and France.
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