Firefighters battle blaze in Ukraine’s Odessa after Russian airstrike on residential building
A Western official working on Ukraine policy told the Financial Times that there is “little prospect of an operational breakthrough by either side in 2024”, let alone in the next few months, and said a strategy of “active defence” would allow Ukraine to “build out its forces” this year and prepare for 2025.
According to the paper, this aligns with the strategy that the US is reportedly selling to Ukraine, with Joe Biden’s administration said to be pushing Kyiv to focus on holding its territory, entrenching positions and beefing up supplies and forces over the coming months.
It came as a local official claimed a Russian oil tank near Ukraine’s northern border caught fire, after the military brought down a Ukrainian drone trying to attack targets in the Bryansk town. Russian news outlet Tass claimed the fire had spread to 1,000 square metres, with four fuel tanks burning.
Soldier’s wife appeals outside Putin’s campaign HQ for her husband to be brought home from Ukraine
The wife of a Russian soldier delivered an emotional appeal for his return from Ukraine on Saturday at the election headquarters of Vladimir Putin, a defiant gesture in a country where open criticism of the war is banned.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has issued a decree that my husband has to be there [in Ukraine]. I’m interested to know when he will issue a decree that my husband has to be home,” Maria Andreyeva said, as campaign workers looked on.
She became involved in a heated exchange with a woman who told her that Russian soldiers in Ukraine were defending the motherland and she should pray for them. “So what’s next? The Ministry of Defense has spent its money, now we need to squeeze everything out of our guys, get the last life out of them? So that they come back to us just as stumps?” Andreyeva demanded.
“Will they give me the stump? What will I get back? A man without legs, without arms, a sick man? Don’t you know what’s happening there?”
The exchange took place during a visit to Mr Putin’s election base by a small delegation from “The Way Home”, an organisation of soldiers’ wives that is campaigning for their return from the front.
She told reporters her toddler daughter was suffering from arrested speech development because of her father’s absence, saying: “All my family’s problems can only be solved by one thing – by my husband being demobilised. Because she is a completely different child when her father comes home.”
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 14:18
Russia failing in attempts to dislodge Ukraine from left bank of Dnipro River, says UK
Dislodging Ukraine’s foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro River is a priority for Russia, whose forces are failing to do so and suffering mounting losses – despite significantly outnumbering Kyiv’s troops in the area, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has claimed.
The ministry said: “Ukraine maintains a presence on the left bank of the Dnipro River and has continued to repel Russian attacks despite logistical concerns. On 16 January 2024, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Southern Defence Forces remarked that logistical supply on the left bank of the Dnipro had faced difficulties.
“Russia’s Dnipr Grouping of Forces has been unsuccessful in all its attempts to dislodge the Ukrainian defenders, despite almost certainly having a significant advantage in the balance of forces on this axis. It is highly likely that the poor training and coordination of Russian forces in the area is limiting their offensive capabilities.
“Forcing Ukraine to withdraw its forces from the left bank of he Dnipro remains a priority operational objective for Russia. It is highly likely Russia will persist with attacks in the Krynky area in the coming weeks despite growing personal losses.”
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 13:54
Watch: Huge fire at Russian oil depot after Kyiv’s cross-border drone attack
Huge fire at Russian oil depot after Kyiv’s cross-border drone attack
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 13:24
Labour warns Europe risks ‘taking eye off the ball’ on Russia
Labour has signalled it will continue the current government’s strong support for Ukraine if it wins power in the upcoming UK general election, with its shadow foreign secretary warning the rest of Europe against complacency.
In a speech on Saturday, David Lammy was set to reiterate Labour’s desire for a new British-EU security pact, and say that if Labour came to power, he would visit Kyiv in the first 100 days in office “to demonstrate Labour’s long-term commitment to stop Vladimir Putin and begin work on a pathway towards Ukraine’s Nato membership.”
“We in Europe risk taking our eye off the ball,” Lammy will say, according to extracts of the speech, which added he would label Putin a “ringleader of a new form of fascism”.
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 12:59
Full report: Zelensky says he is frightened by prospect of second Trump presidency
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky invited former US president, Donald Trump, to visit Ukraine, but only on the condition that he deliver on his words to “stop the war in 24 hours”.
Mr Trump has repeatedly boasted that he has the ability to end the Russia-Ukraine war if he were a president, insisting that he has a good relationship with the leaders of both countries.
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 12:22
UK risks echoing 1930s failure to deter Hitler unless it invests more in military, ex-chief warns
The UK risks a repeat of the 1930s unless more is invested in its armed forces, a former chief of the general staff of the British Army has warned.
General Lord Dannatt hit out at the shrinking size of the army, which he said has fallen from 102,000 in 2006 to 74,000 today “and falling fast”.
Writing in The Times, he drew parallels with the 1930s when the “woeful” state of the UK’s armed forces failed to deter Hitler. “There is a serious danger of history repeating itself,” he said.
Pointing to rising geopolitical uncertainty, he said: “If our armed forces are not strong enough to deter future aggression from Moscow or Beijing it will not be a small war to contend with but a major one.”
Under Government proposals, the size of the regular army will be cut from a commitment of 82,000 troops to 73,000 by 2025. But analysis by The Times suggested numbers could drop below that as soon as next year and continue on a steep downward trajectory.
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 11:53
Ukrainian ‘active defence’ strategy would benefit Russia, think-tank warns
Russian forces will be able to determine the location, tempo, and operational requirements of fighting in Ukraine if Kyiv commits itself to defensive operations throughout 2024 – as some US officials are reportedly pressing Ukraine to do, a think-tank has warned.
A theater-wide defensive posture would cede the strategic initiative to Russia and permit Russia to launch major attacks at times of its choosing, forcing Ukraine to burn scarce resources it would supposedly be generating during a period of “active defense”, said the Institute for the Study of War.
“This extended period of theater initiative would also give the Russian command significant control over determining what resources both Ukrainian and Russian forces must bring to bear,” it added.
“The Russian command would therefore have an ample operational window to conduct a series of campaigns of differing intensities across the theater in Ukraine that could be specifically designed to constrain and degrade critical Ukrainian operational capacities needed for a future counter-offensive.”
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 10:58
Huge fire at Russian oil depot after Kyiv’s cross-border drone attack
Four tanks at an oil depot in western Russia caught fire on Friday following a cross-border Ukrainian drone strike, officials said, forcing residents in the area to evacuate.
The inferno at the facility controlled by oil major Rosneft was spread over an area of 1,000 square metres along with tanks in Klintsy, Bryansk Region, Tass news agency said.
Bryansk governor Alexander Bogomaz said that a Ukrainian “aeroplane-style drone” was brought down and fire erupted after the munitions dropped over the oil depot.
The drone strike was the second on Russian oil facilities in two days this week.
My colleague Shweta Sharma has more in this report:
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 10:41
US pushing Kyiv to adopt ‘active defence’, report says
The United States is advising Ukraine to adopt a “more conservative approach” to Russia’s invasion rather than launch new ground offensives to regain territory, according to a report.
A Western official working on Ukraine policy told the Financial Times that there is “little prospect of an operational breakthrough by either side in 2024”, let alone in the next few months.
The official said a strategy of “active defence” would allow Ukraine to “build out its forces” this year and prepare for 2025, when a counteroffensive would have a better chance. In such a strategy, Kyiv would seek to hold its defensive lines while probing for Russia’s weak spots, alongside long-range air strikes,
According to the paper, this aligns with the strategy that the US is reportedly selling to Ukraine, with Joe Biden’s administration said to be pushing for a more conservative approach. “Instead of ground offensives, the focus would be to hold the territory it has now, entrenching positions and beefing up supplies and forces over the coming months,” the report suggests.
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 10:04
Belarus adopts new military doctrine involving nuclear weapons
A new military doctrine adopted by Belarus considers the deployment of nuclear weapons as a forced measure of strategic deterrence, the Tass news agency has reported.
Tass said the new military doctrine also describes the actions the Belarusian army would take in case of any armed aggression against Minsk’s allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which comprises several former Soviet republics.
At the same time, Minsk says it is ready to resume dialogue with Nato countries, “provided their aggressive rhetoric against Belarus is stopped”, Tass reported.
Andy Gregory20 January 2024 09:42