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Ukrainian ‘kamikaze drone’ targets Russian tank in Kharkiv Oblast
Ukrainian troops have told of being “sent to their death” in Bakhmut – the small eastern city at the centre of Russia’s winter campaign.
Amid reports of heavy losses within Moscow’s ranks, Kyiv forces have spoken of their own desperate fight for survival against Russia’s “infinite” stocks of artillery and personnel.
It comes as Russian-US relations continue to deteriorate, after an American drone was downed after an incident with one of Moscow’s fighter jets.
Russian forces reached the site of the downed surveillance drone in the Black Sea on Wednesday, US officials told CNN, as the Kremlin vowed to recover it from deep water around 70 miles from Crimea.
And in a separate incident, a Russian aircraft was intercepted by RAF and German fighter jets near Estonian airspace in the first joint exercise between the two Nato allies.
Two British and German Typhoon jets were scrambled on Tuesday when a Russian air-to-air refuelling aircraft failed to communicate with Estonian air traffic control.
The UK Ministry of Defence stressed the “routine” nature of the mission, but it comes amid tensions between the West and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian troops being ‘sent to death’ in Bakhmut
Ukrainian troops have told of being “sent to death” in Bakhmut – the small eastern city at the centre of Russia’s ever-intensifying winter campaign.
Amid reports of ”heavy losses” within Moscow’s ranks, Kyiv forces have spoken of their own desperate fight for survival against Russia’s “infinite” stocks of artillery and personnel.
“When they drive us to Bakhmut, I already know I’m being sent to death,” one Ukrainian soldier told The Kyiv Independent during a short stay in nearby Kramatorsk, some 25km west of the front line.
“(The Russians) keep firing at us, but we don’t have artillery – so we have nothing to attack them back with,” said Volodymyr, whose surname was withheld to protect his identity. “I don’t know if I will return or not. We are just getting killed.”
Russia’s advance has relied heavily on members of the Wagner group – often referred to as Vladimir Putin’s “private army” — who have made slow gains in Bakhmut, but at an immense cost.
Moscow first attempted to win the brutal conflict with a “human wave” of assaults using battalions of convicts, before sending in elite mercenary troops.
It comes after president Volodymyr Zelensky and his top military command agreed to continue to defend Bakhmut.
“It’s a pity that probably 90 per cent of our losses are from artillery – or tanks and aviation. And much less (casualties) from shooting battles,” Valeriy, another solider, told the news site a few hours after leaving Bakhmut.
He said “only a few” of the original 27 members of his platoon got out of the city with him, but explained that most of them were wounded, not killed.
“The Russians have so many weapons, and there are so many of them,” Valeriy said. “They are firing at us all the time. Sometimes, you hear an incoming (shell) every second.”
Emily Atkinson15 March 2023 15:21
US, Russian military chiefs resume contact to discuss drone
Defense secretary Lloyd Austin said he spoke to his Russian counterpart yesterday about the destruction of a US drone over the Black Sea, which had brought the two countries closest to direct conflict since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
It was the first call between Austin and Defense Secretary Sergei Shoigu since October.
“I just got off the phone with my Russian counterpart, Minister Shoigu,” Mr Austin said at a Pentagon press briefing. “As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s important that great powers be models of transparency and communication, and the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.”
US, Russian military chiefs resume contact to discuss drone
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says he spoke to his Russian counterpart about the destruction of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, which had brought the two countries closest to direct conflict since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago
Namita Singh16 March 2023 06:30
Russia says US relations are ‘lamentable’ after downing of American drone
Russia’s relationship with the United States is in a “lamentable state”, the Kremlin has said, following the downing of a US drone harassed by Russian jets over the Black Sea.
The US military said that a Russian fighter plane had clipped the propeller of one of its drones as it flew over international waters. Russia denied that the downing was intentional, saying the crash happened because of “sharp manoeuvring”.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, said that bilateral relations were “at their lowest point, in a very lamentable state”. However, he added “at the same time, Russia has never refused constructive dialogue, and is not refusing now”.
Later, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the country’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, and his US counterpart, the secretary of defence Lloyd Austin had spoken over the phone.
Namita Singh16 March 2023 06:00
Russian forces reach US drone crash site in Black Sea, say reports
The Kremlin vowed on Wednesday to try and recover the large drone which crashed in international waters after its encounter with Russian fighter jets a day earlier.
It is not clear if Russia has been able to recover any remains of the drone when they arrived at the crash site, which is around 70 miles southwest of Crimea, the US officials told the news network.
My colleague Graeme Massie has more:
Namita Singh16 March 2023 05:30
Russia making small advances near Bakhmut, but at cost, says top US general
Russia is making small advances near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut but this was coming at a great cost, the top US general said on Wednesday.
“The Russians are making small, tactical advances [but] at great cost,” Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told reporters.
Ukrainian troops have also told of being “sent to death” in the fight for the small eastern city that has spent months under siege.
Namita Singh16 March 2023 05:00
Zelensky thanks British journalists for ‘vital support’ in Ukraine’s war against Russia
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said the country “needs the world’s attention even more than before” as he thanked British journalists for their “vital support” in the war against Russia.
In a keynote address to the Society of Editors Media Freedom Conference in London on Wednesday, Mr Zelensky urged more reporters to travel to the country to “spread the truth about the Russian aggression, support our defence, and give Ukrainian life worth”.
He told representatives of the British media that the country had issued over 15,000 accreditations to foreign journalists since the beginning of the conflict.
Speaking in a pre-recorded address, Mr Zelensky said: “Now that Russia’s full-scale war has been going on more than a year, Ukraine needs the world’s attention even more than before.”
Namita Singh16 March 2023 04:30
Russia’s Oscar-winning opposition mired in conflict
Kremlin critics were cheered this week when a Western documentary about jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny won an Oscar, but his political movement is in turmoil and some Ukrainian politicians say the award is undeserved.
Mr Navalny, president Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile domestic critic, is serving 11-1/2 years in jail in Russia after being convicted of fraud in two cases he and the West say were trumped up to silence him, and his anti-corruption organisation has been banned as extremist.
His supporters cast him as a Russian version of Nelson Mandela who survived an assassination attempt and will one day be freed from unjust imprisonment to lead Russia. The lawyer-turned-activist remains a fierce Kremlin critic, releasing regular statements via his lawyers from behind bars.
But his Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), which now operates outside Russia, is reeling after his Chief of Staff Leonid Volkov admitted he had – without his colleagues’ knowledge – lobbied the European Union to lift sanctions on Mikhail Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men.
Volkov apologised for what he said was “a big political mistake” and said he was taking a break from his role as chairman of the ACF.
Yet some fellow opposition members were furious, saying the ACF should be trying to hasten Putin’s political demise rather than helping wealthy businessmen.
Namita Singh16 March 2023 04:00
Ukraine wants to bring home tycoon to face corruption charges
Ukrainian tycoon Kostyantyn Zhevago said his record of investing in his homeland was proof of innocence ahead of today’s extradition hearing in a French Alpine town over accusations of embezzling tens of millions of dollars.
Mr Zhevago’s case comes as Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky seeks to clip the wings of oligarchs dominating the economy since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago.
The 49-year-old billionaire, who controls London-listed iron pellet producer Ferrexpo, was arrested at a ski resort in December at the request of Ukraine which wants him over the disappearance of $113m from the now bankrupt lender Finance & Credit Bank.
Mr Zhevago, a former lawmaker and former beneficiary owner of Finance & Credit Bank, was released on bail for €1mn and due to appear at an appeals court in the nearby town of Chambery.
“If I had actually embezzled $100mn as I am falsely accused of doing in Ukraine, I would have parked the money abroad,” he told Reuters.
“Instead, I have systematically invested in my public companies in recent years,” he added, saying he had ploughed $500mn into Ukraine over the past five years.
Mr Zhevago added Finance & Credit was one of dozens of banks to lose vast sums of money after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Namita Singh16 March 2023 03:30
Canada announces new military aid
Canada will send about 8,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and a dozen air defense missiles as part of Ottawa’s latest military aide to Kyiv, the Canadian defense ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Ottawa will also provide Ukraine with more than 1,800 rounds of training ammunition for Leopard 1 battle tanks donated by Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, one of Ukraine’s most vocal international supporters, has committed over C$1bn (£600m) in military aid to Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion last year.
Canada has already announced it is donating eight Leopard 2 main battle tanks, which are expected to be in Ukraine in the coming weeks, the ministry said.
Liam James16 March 2023 03:00
US drone ‘will be hard to recover from sea’
A US surveillance drone brought down over the Black Sea after a Russian military intercept probably broke apart and would be difficult to recover given the depth of the water in the area, the top US general said on Wednesday.
Russia’s defense ministry blamed “sharp manoeuvering” by the drone for the crash and said its jet did not make contact.
“It probably sank to some significant depths, so any recovery operation from a technical standpoint would be very difficult,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told reporters.
He cautioned that it would take several days before the United States would know for certain the size of the debris field in waters as deep as 4,000 to 5,000ft, Milley said.
Russia said it would try to retrieve the remains the drone but appeared to acknowledge the challenges.
Liam James16 March 2023 01:00
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