Monday, 23 January 2023 05:50

What to know after Day 329 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Ex-Russian president predicts new anti-US military alliance

The continuous flow of military aid to Kiev clearly shows that the collective West is seeking to “wear out or, preferably, destroy” Russia, the country’s former president, Dmitry Medvedev, remarked on Sunday. The effort, however, may ultimately backfire for the US and its allies, he believes.

Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, made the comments in a social media post, days after a meeting at the US Ramstein air base in Germany at which Western powers pledged to continue supporting Kiev.

“The meeting at Ramstein and the allocation of heavy weaponry to Kiev leave no doubt that our enemies will be trying to wear us out for an indefinite period of time, or, preferably, to destroy us,” the ex-president wrote. 

However, the prolongation of the hostilities in Ukraine may ultimately lead to the emergence of a new military bloc that brings together nations “fed up with the Americans,” Medvedev suggested. 

“This has always happened in the history of mankind during long wars. And the US then will finally abandon old Europe and what remains of the unfortunate Ukrainians, and the world will return to an equilibrium once again,” the former leader said, warning, however, that it might be “too late” before this happens. 

Moscow has repeatedly urged the collective West to stop “pumping” Ukraine with weapons, maintaining that it would only prolong the hostilities rather than change the ultimate outcome. Top Russian officials have repeatedly characterized what is happening as a proxy war between Russia and the US-led NATO alliance rather than merely a conflict with Ukraine. 

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, which were designed to give Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the agreement to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

Meanwhile, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have both corroborated that admission, stating that the Minsk agreements were never intended to actually be fulfilled but were merely a ploy to buy time for Ukraine to build up its military.

** Ukraine’s military losses in Donetsk area exceed 80 people

Russian forces defeated Ukrainian units in the Donetsk area, killing more than 80 servicemen and destroying six vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, reported on Sunday.

"In the past day, more than 80 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in this direction, with three armored combat vehicles, three autos and a D-30 howitzer destroyed," he said.


Zelenskiy promises to swiftly confront Ukraine corruption

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that corruption, the country's chronic problem cast into the background by the war against Russia, would not be tolerated and promised forthcoming key decisions on uprooting it this week.

Zelenskiy's pledge came amidst allegations of senior-level corruption, including a report of dubious practices in military procurement despite officials promoting national unity to confront the invasion.

"I want this to be clear: there will be no return to what used to be in the past, to the way various people close to state institutions or those who spent their entire lives chasing a chair used to live," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

Ukraine has had a long history of rampant corruption and shaky governance, with Transparency International ranking the country's corruption at 122 of 180 countries, not much better than Russia in 2021.

The EU has made anti-corruption reforms one of its key requirements for Ukraine's membership after granting Kyiv the candidate status last year.

"This week will be the time for appropriate decisions," Zelenskiy said. "The decisions have already been prepared. I do not want to make them public at this time, but it will all be fair."

Elected by a landslide in 2019 on pledges to change the way the ex-Soviet state was governed, Zelenskiy said that his government had accepted the resignation of a deputy minister after an investigation into allegations he accepted a bribe.

He did not identify the official, but news reports have said an acting deputy minister of regional development, Vasyl Lozinskiy, was detained on allegations of accepting a bribe.

The renewed focus on corruption involved also Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov after a newspaper reported that the military had allegedly secured food at highly inflated prices.

Reznikov's ministry described the allegations as "false" and a parliamentary committee had been asked to investigate.

** Putin ally says West's deliveries of new weapons to Kyiv will lead to global catastrophe

A close ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that deliveries of offensive weapons to Kyiv that threaten Russia’s territories will lead to a global catastrophe and make arguments against using weapons of mass destruction untenable.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma - Russia’s lower house of parliament - warned that the United States and NATO’s support of Ukraine is leading the world to a “terrible war”.

“If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons,” Volodin said on the Telegram messaging app.

“Arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable. Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country.”

Western allies pledged billions of dollars in weapons for Ukraine last week, although they failed to persuade Germany to lift a veto on providing German-made Leopard battle tanks, which are held by an array of NATO nations but whose transfer to Ukraine requires Berlin’s approval.

Since its invasion on Feb. 24, which it has cast as defending itself from an aggressive West, Russia has taken control of parts of Ukraine and has said it will never return them. Kyiv has said that restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity is not open for negotiation.

Volodin’s comments followed a similar threat last week by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former prime minister and president.

Volodin, 58, has been speaker of the lower house, the State Duma, since 2016, having previously held a senior role in the presidential administration. As a member of Putin’s Security Council, he has regular access to the president.

“Deliveries of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe,” he said.



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