Zelensky’s Optimism and Military Developments in Ukraine: Latest Updates

2024-03-13 08:34:31

Zelensky is optimistic about the situation on the front: better than in the previous three months

The day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the Russian advance on Ukrainian territory had “stopped,” and that the situation on the front was better than it was three months ago, as Russian forces did not achieve any new progress after their seizure, last month, of the city of Avdiivka in the east of the country, Moscow announced on Tuesday that it had taken control of a village in eastern Ukraine near the city of Donetsk, which it controls.

A view showing the entrance to the city administration building, which according to local authorities was damaged by a Ukrainian drone attack in Belgorod (Reuters)

Zelensky announced in an interview with the French channel BFM TV and Le Monde newspaper that Kiev had begun building “more than 1,000 kilometers” of defensive fortifications on the battle front in Ukraine. Zelensky explained that Ukraine has developed its strategic position despite the lack of weapons, but he indicated that the situation may change again if his country does not receive new supplies.

Ukraine requested missiles with a range of up to 500 kilometers from Germany in May. Berlin rejected the request for the first time in October and then again two weeks ago.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz once again clearly refused to supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles. “My clarity stands,” Schulz said at a press conference in Berlin. My job, as an advisor and prime minister, is to be precise and not raise any misleading expectations. My answers are clear in return. He was asked whether, like Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, he saw swapping missiles with Britain rather than direct delivery as an option.

A Ukrainian soldier sits at his post in Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, last August (AP)

Baerbock had previously described a swap process, in which Germany would deliver “Taurus” cruise missiles to Britain, and London would deliver more “Storm Shadows” missiles from its stockpiles to Ukraine in return, as an “option.” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron did not rule out such an approach, according to an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. Schulz stressed that the deployment of the “Taurus” missiles is not justified, and that is why this issue “was neither direct nor indirect.” Schulz said he feared Germany would be drawn into war.

“The situation is much better than it was during the past three months,” Zelensky said in statements accompanied by a voice-over in French. He added: “We have faced some difficulties due to the shortage of artillery shells, the air siege, Russian long-range weapons, and the attacks carried out by massive Russian drones.”

He added: “We worked in a very effective way… to confront the Russian aircraft. “Our situation improved in the east, and we stopped the advance of the Russian forces.”

Russia’s seizure of Avdiivka gave its forces a chance to breathe in defending the regional center it controls in Donetsk, 20 kilometers to the east. Russian forces then seized a group of villages near Avdiivka, but Ukrainian military spokesmen said last week that these forces had not achieved new progress, and that Ukrainian forces had strengthened their positions.

A photo published by the Russian Ministry of Defense (Monday) of a soldier voting in Zaporizhya during early voting for the Russian presidential elections (AP)

The Russian Ministry of Defense said in its daily report: “In the direction of Donetsk, units of the Southern Forces Group liberated the village of Nevelsky and occupied more suitable lines and positions” in the region that the Kremlin announced its annexation in 2022. On “Telegram”, on Monday, the “Desepstate” channel reported ( DeepState, which is close to the Ukrainian army and is followed by more than 680,000 people, said, “The enemy has advanced near Nevelsky.”

Putin during one of his meetings in the Kremlin on Monday (EPA)

While it was reported that Russian opponents, who appear to be armed from Ukraine, entered Russian cities near the Ukrainian border. Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian parliament who currently lives in Ukraine, wrote on the Telegram application on Tuesday: “The Freedom Corps of Russia, the Russian Volunteer Corps, and the Siberian Battalion advanced to the Kursk and Belgorod regions as part of a joint operation.” ».

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow said that several attacks by Ukrainian militants had been repelled. The Federal Security Service described reports of cross-border violations as incorrect.

Ponomarev added that it is said that the fighting is taking place in the village of Tyutkino in the Kursk region. He explained that Putin’s opponents took control of a village in the Belgorod region.

These attacks come 3 days before the start of the Russian presidential elections, which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win.

Part of the destruction caused by 3 Russian missiles after the bombing of the town of Mirnograd in Donetsk, Ukraine (AFP)

In their video messages, the masked fighters wearing Ukrainian uniforms called for ignoring the presidential elections scheduled in Russia next Sunday.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andrey Yusov told the “Ukrainska Pradva” platform that the units consist of Russian citizens and that they “move completely independently.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday: “This morning, units of the Russian Armed Forces and the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service thwarted an attempt to penetrate the Russian border in the Belgorod and Kursk regions launched by the Kiev regime.”

For his part, the governor of the Russian region, Roman Starovoit, confirmed that the attack had occurred, and that one person had been slightly injured, denying that any “breakthrough” had occurred. On Tuesday, Kursk city authorities ordered the closure of schools after the attacks carried out by pro-Ukrainian volunteers.

The Freedom Corps of Russia said on Telegram that its forces had “crossed the border,” accompanying its announcement with a video clip showing three armored vehicles walking in the dark on a rural road. The organization announced that it had “destroyed” a Russian armored military vehicle in the village of Tyutkino in the Kursk region.

By morning, fighting between pro-Russian volunteers and Russian forces was still continuing in the Belgorod and Kursk regions, according to what the organization’s representative, Alexei Baranovsky, told Agence France-Presse. He pointed out that Russian forces “lost armored vehicles,” indicating that the group intends to expand the scope of its operations to other Russian regions.

Sweden’s flag raising ceremony at NATO headquarters (AFP)

The “Siberian Battalion” spoke of “violent fighting” in Russia, and called on the Russians to ignore the presidential elections scheduled for March 15-17. The battalion said: “We cannot change the situation for the better except by carrying weapons.”

This armed attack comes after a Ukrainian drone bombardment on Russia on the night of Sunday – Monday, and it was the largest drone attack launched by Kiev since the start of the war, especially on two energy sites in which fires broke out, one of them hundreds of kilometers away from the front. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Tuesday that the Russian military is doing “what is necessary” to repel all Ukrainian attacks.

The Russian authorities said that the Kiev attacks, on Tuesday, also affected areas far from the border, as local authorities reported recording strikes in the city of Orel, located 160 kilometers from the border, and Kostovo, located 450 kilometers east of the Russian capital.

Local authorities in the two regions reported that a fire broke out in an oil refinery and a fuel warehouse as a result of these attacks. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it was able, on Monday-Tuesday night, to destroy 25 Ukrainian drones, including two in the airspace of the Moscow region, one in Bryansk and Leningrad, and 11 in Belgorod and Kursk.

The Ukrainian Navy claimed responsibility, on Tuesday, for the destruction of a Russian “command post” mounted on an oil tanker stranded on the Kinburn Isthmus in the Black Sea near the mouth of the Dnipro River. The Navy said the ship served as a “launching pad” for small drones in the Kherson region.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday that a military cargo plane with 15 people on board crashed shortly after take-off from an airport in northeastern Moscow. The ministry reported that “an Il-76 military transport plane crashed in the Ivanovo region shortly after taking off on a pre-scheduled flight.” There were 8 crew members and 7 passengers on board.”

She explained in a statement published by Russian news agencies that the accident occurred in the Ivanovo region, 200 kilometers northeast of Moscow. It indicated that the accident was caused by “a fire in one of the engines” of the plane, and that it sent a military mission to the air base in order to open an investigation into it. Russia makes extensive use of air and land transportation to transport equipment for war.

US intelligence leaders testify before the Congressional Intelligence Committee on Monday (AFP)

An intelligence assessment issued by the British Ministry of Defense stated that, last Saturday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched an air attack with an unmanned vehicle on the “Berev Tank” maintenance facility at the “Taganrog” site in the Rostov region in Russia. The daily intelligence assessment published on the “X” platform indicated that the “Taganrog” site is being used for the production, modernization, maintenance and repair of the A-50U Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft of the Russian Air Force. The site is also of broader strategic importance for Russia, because it also serves long-range strategic bombers and transport aircraft, and is a testing center for the next generation of A-100 airborne early warning and control aircraft, according to the assessment. The assessment added that the continued presence of active air defense stationed around the site demonstrates its importance.

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