Despite the difficult situation in eastern Ukraine, the American Institute for War Studies (ISW) believes that Kiev's decision to continue defending the hard-fought city of Bakhmut against Russian attackers was the right one. This forced the Kremlin to "exhaust" much of the Wagner mercenary force, the think tank wrote in its most recent report. In addition, Russia must deploy high-quality air forces in order to make progress. The weakening of the attackers favors a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the situation on the eastern front as "extremely difficult". "These are literally fights for every meter of Ukrainian land."
According to the authorities, almost 5,000 civilians were in Bachmut. For several months, Russian troops have been trying to capture the city, which was home to 70,000 people before the war. Soldiers from the Russian Private Army Wagner advanced mainly north and south.
The analysts also wrote that it is possible that the Russian Defense Ministry is recruiting detainees to be used as "cannon fodder". A recruitment of convicts is a sign that the Kremlin could plan so-called "human waves". The Ukrainian secret service and the US broadcaster CNN had previously reported on it.
Dampening Ukrainian hopes for weapons and fighter jets
Contrary to what was announced, Ukraine will not receive the number of main battle tanks promised by Germany. According to Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD), no new commitments for Leopard 2A6 tanks were made at a meeting of the so-called tank coalition. Accordingly, only Germany and Portugal want to deliver this model. "We won't reach battalion strength there," said Pistorius.
On January 25, the federal government announced the goal of "rapidly assembling two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine." In Ukraine, these are usually equipped with 31 tanks each. Coordinated by Poland, almost 30 Leopard 2A4s have now come together, said Pistorius. However, there are only the 14 Leopard 2A6s promised by Germany and three of these tanks from Portugal. Sweden is still examining possible tank deliveries.
Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Green Party) criticized the pledge for tank deliveries as too late. "Yes, with the decision to now deliver Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks, we are doing what we can at the moment. A bit too late, but at least it happened now," he told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit ". "Time is of the essence," said Habeck. "Everyone is expecting a terrible Russian offensive. Russia has already stepped up the attacks in recent weeks."
London has put a damper on Ukraine's hopes for rapid fighter jet deliveries. "I don't think that we will necessarily deliver fighter jets in the coming months or even years, because they are very different weapon systems than, say, anti-tank missiles," British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a BBC interview.
Chechen chief Kadyrov speaks of occupation of East Germany
In view of Western tank deliveries, Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov threatened Germany with the return of Russian occupation troops. "We have to return, this is our territory," Kadyrov said in an interview on Russian state television, referring to the Soviet occupation. Chancellor Olaf Scholz must be "sniffed" for his statements about Russia, said the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya in the North Caucasus, who is active in Ukraine with his own troops.
Ukraine reports suspected spy balloons over Kyiv
According to the authorities, several suspected spy balloons were discovered over the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The Ukrainian air force had registered "around six enemy air targets" and some shot them down, the Kiev military administration said on Telegram. According to initial findings, the balloons are floating in the wind and could be equipped with reflectors or intelligence equipment.
The Russians might have sent the balloons out to help locate Ukrainian anti-aircraft positions. According to the authorities, the shot down objects are now being thoroughly examined in order to obtain more detailed information.
Hundreds of children died in the war
Almost a year after the war began, hundreds of children have died in Ukraine, according to the children's charity Unicef. Between February 2022 and January 2023, at least 438 children were killed and 842 injured in acts of war, the organization said in Cologne. Duds and land mines put children at risk.
Meanwhile, Russia has dismissed allegations of kidnapping Ukrainian children as "absurd statements". The Russian embassy claimed that the "Kiev regime" was responsible for the deaths and injuries of children. The US State Department had accused Moscow of using a broad network to illegally transfer thousands of children to areas under Russian government control. This "deportation" is a war crime.
More details on EU sanctions against Moscow
The EU is also trying to hit Russia economically: EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen proposed restrictions on dozens of electronic components used in Russian weapon systems such as drones, missiles and helicopters, she said in Strasbourg. Machine parts and spare parts for trucks and jet engines are also included. Russia is also using hundreds of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine. Therefore, it is suggested that Iranian companies should also be targeted, including those with ties to the Revolutionary Guard.