Pedestrians walk past a mural of Russian President Vladimir Putin on a residential building in the town of Kashira, Moscow, Russia, Feb. 23, 2023. (AFP Photo)
Ns News Online Desk: Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Western arms deliveries to Ukraine as “participation in crimes” in the country. Members of NATO were supplying Kyiv with weapons worth several billion dollars, Putin told state television Sunday.
These deliveries were “in a way” involvement in the war because Kyiv received the weapons without payment. The West was thus “complicit in the shelling of residential areas,” Putin claimed.
Western politicians have repeatedly rejected this view.
Meanwhile, the situation at the front in the eastern Ukrainian Donbass region remains intense, as both sides gave contradictory information on developments in the hotly contested town of Bakhmut.
While Russian sources listed the village of Yahidne south of the route to Slovyansk as captured, the Ukrainian general staff said on Sunday that Russian attacks there had been repelled.
The capture would clear the way for Russian units to reach the village of Khromove, through which supplies for Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut pass.
Both sides confirmed fighting around the village of Ivanivské on the road to Kostyantynivka west of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meanwhile reiterated his country’s claim to the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia back in 2014.
“This is our land. Our people. Our history,” the 45-year-old said, according to a statement circulated on Sunday. With the return of Crimea, peace will also come to Ukraine, he added. “We will return the Ukrainian flag to every corner of Ukraine.”
Feb. 26 was declared a day of resistance to Russia’s occupation of Crimea by Zelenskyy in 2020.
Ukrainian deputy military intelligence chief Vadym Skibitsky said Ukraine’s armed forces will be ready to launch a counteroffensive in spring.
Liberating all territory
The exact timing depended on several factors, however – including Western arms shipments, which play a very important role in Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against the Russian attackers, Skibitsky told Germany’s Funke Media Group in comments published on Sunday.
More than one year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Skibitsky reiterated Kyiv’s stated goal of liberating all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.
“We will only stop when we have our country back according to the (internationally recognized) borders of 1991,” he said. “This is our message to Russia and to the international community.”
Skibitsky went on to outline how Kyiv was planning to achieve its “strategic military goals.”
“We are trying to drive a wedge into the Russian front in the south – between Crimea and the Russian mainland,” the military intelligence official said.
“It’s possible that we will also destroy weapons depots or military equipment on Russian territory, for example around the city of Belgorod, from where attacks on Ukraine are launched. This poses a threat to (the Ukrainian city of) Kharkiv, for example.”
Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. At least 8,000 civilians have been killed and more than 13,000 have been injured so far, according to official estimates.
Russian forces currently occupy some 20% of Ukraine’s territory.
According to the British Defense Ministry, Moscow has suffered high casualties in an elite unit of its army.
The 155th Marine Infantry Brigade has been tasked with some of the most difficult tactical maneuvers in the Ukraine war and has suffered extremely high casualties, the ministry said in a daily briefing Sunday.
The ministry published a satellite image showing an accumulation of destroyed Russian military vehicles southeast of the Ukrainian city of Vuhledar. According to the British, these are presumably from the elite unit that has recently played a central role in the Russian offensives.
The British suspect that the brigade’s capabilities have deteriorated significantly, as the high losses would have had to be compensated for with significantly less experienced troops. This, they say, limits Moscow’s operational capacity to act.
Also on Sunday, CIA Director William Burns said the US is “confident” that China is “considering the provision of lethal equipment” to aid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He went on to say that he hoped Beijing would decide against it.