Heavy Russian bombardment of Ukraine as battles are getting fiercer in the east


Ukraine witnessed heavy Russian bombing operations on Saturday, the day after it received promises of long-range Western weapons, confirming at the same time that it had repulsed an attack on the city of Bakhmut in the east, after the Ukrainian president described it as a fort.

On Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that the situation on the ground was complicated in the face of the Russian forces.

In his daily message, Zelensky said, “During the 346 days of this war, I have often said that the situation on the front lines is difficult, and the situation is getting more complicated”.

Zelensky added, “Now we are again in such a moment… A moment when the occupier mobilizes more and more of his forces to break our defense… The situation is very difficult now in Bakhmut, Voglidar, Liman, and other areas”.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said in the afternoon of the same day that “the enemy is gathering in some areas, concentrates his main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the direction of Kobyansk, Liman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlevka”.

In the Donetsk region, in the east of the country, heavy artillery fire targeted Avdiivka on the front line on Saturday morning, after the city of Kramatorsk, which the Russians also want to control, was targeted last night with missiles, according to what the Ukrainian authorities announced.

In the last 24 hours, missiles targeted civilian facilities located in the territory of 26 cities in the southern Zaporizhia region, according to the same sources.

And continued bombing operations in the large city of Kherson in the south of the country, which was seized by the Russians and then withdrew from it.

One person was killed and another injured on Friday, according to the authorities.

For their part, Ukrainian border guards confirmed that they repelled a Russian attack and expelled them from the suburb of Bakhmut, after an aerial reconnaissance operation revealed that “the enemy is preparing to attack” this city, the center of the battles in Ukraine.

A statement said that the border guards fired a mortar shell at the gathering place of the occupiers and then forced them to retreat.

The Deputy Defense Minister Hana Maliar confirmed on Saturday, “This week, the Russian occupation forces made every effort to break through our defense, besiege Bakhmut, and launched a powerful attack on the Liman region, but thanks to the resilience of our soldiers, it failed”.

On Friday, the Ukrainian president confirmed that the army “will defend as much as it can” the important city of Bakhmut in the east of the country, which the Russian army has been seeking to seize for months, stressing that “no one will abandon this fortress”.

On Friday, AFP correspondents witnessed violent confrontations that turned some neighborhoods on the outskirts of Bakhmut into rubble.

On Saturday, the city of Odessa was suffering from a major power outage after a technical incident at an electrical station that has been targeted by Russian bombing recently.

The Odessa region and city are almost completely without electricity, according to locals, with nearly 500,000 people don’t have electricity.

For his part, Energy Minister German Galushchenko confirmed that “all basic infrastructure with energy has been supplied… So the city will have water and heat… About a third of consumers have electricity”.

On the same day, the head of the Presidential Administration, Andriy Yermak, announced that a new prisoner exchange had enabled Kiev to recover 116 people.

He didn’t provide information about the Russian prisoners involved in this exchange.

On Friday, on the day of a summit with the European Union in Kyiv, Ukraine was promised access to long-range Western weapons.

Also, a new US aid to Ukraine, worth $2.2 billion announced Friday by Washington, includes missiles that could nearly double the range of Ukraine’s strikes, the Pentagon said.

It includes, in particular, small GLSDB bombs attached to ground-launched missiles with a range of 150 km.

The US Department of Defense said that “delivery of these bombs will not happen for several months” due to production dates.

Zelensky said, “If Western arms deliveries to Kiev accelerate, especially long-range weapons, we won’t be satisfied with not retreating from Bakhmut, but rather we will begin to put an end to the occupation of Donbas”.

Simultaneously, Paris announced that France and Italy would supply Kyiv in the spring with a medium-range Mamba surface-to-air defense system to help Ukraine defend itself in the face of attacks by Russian drones, missiles and aircraft.

On Saturday, Portugal announced that it was ready to send German-made Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine.

On Sunday, a European ban on refined Russian oil products exported by sea is expected to begin, while the Kremlin on Friday denounced negative measures that will destabilize markets more broadly rather than affecting Russia alone.

Politically, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed in a press interview Sunday that there is a consensus with Zelensky that the weapons handed over by the West to Kiev won’t be used to launch attacks on Russian territory.

“There is a consensus on this point,” Scholz said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag weekly.

This comes after Ukraine’s allies took new steps in the field of military support, by pledging to give it, especially heavy tanks and long-range missiles.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that “German tanks threaten us again,” comparing his military campaign in Ukraine to the war against Nazism during the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler’s armies in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Scholz responded to him in his interview with Bild newspaper, saying, “His statements are part of a series of ridiculous historical comparisons that he uses to justify his attack on Ukraine”.

“But nothing justifies this war,” the German chancellor added.

“Together with our allies, we are providing Ukraine with battle tanks so that it can defend itself… We’ve carefully studied each arms delivery, in close coordination with our allies, led by the United States… This joint approach makes it possible to avoid an escalation of the war”.

Scholz confirmed that Putin “didn’t threaten him personally during phone calls he had made with him since the start of the conflict”.

Bild newspaper asked The German Chancellor the question after former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a documentary that the Russian president threatened him with a missile, and the Kremlin denied the accusation.

In the same context, Canada sent on Saturday the first of the promised Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to Defense Minister Anita Anand.

The minister said on Twitter that a Canadian Air Force aircraft took off from Halifax with the first Leopard 2 tank we give to Ukraine.

“Canada stands in solidarity with Ukraine, and we will continue to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the equipment they need to prevail,” she added.

In another tweet attached to a video showing the tank being loaded and the plane taking off, the minister said, Battle tanks are on their way to help Ukraine.

The first Canadian Leopard 2 tank fielded, as Canada’s support for Ukraine is unwavering.

At the end of January, Canada announced its decision to deliver four German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, following similar announcements by a number of Western countries.

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