Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the arrival of two more modern anti-aircraft systems. “They are systems that shoot down everything,” Zelensky said in his daily video message on Friday. Kiev has been working for months to deliver these systems. He did not name the exact type. In the Russian war of aggression, Ukraine defends its airspace with, among other things, US Patriot air defense complexes and the Iris-T system from Germany. The war enters its third year at the end of February.
According to Zelensky, the two new anti-aircraft weapons will be used to protect the regions. He admitted that these were still inadequately protected and at the same time promised to work on further strengthening them. Air defense is considered important because, particularly last winter, Russia systematically destroyed Ukraine's infrastructure - especially its energy supply - with drones, rockets and cruise missiles. This winter, the damage is significantly less, thanks to stronger anti-aircraft defenses.
During the night, however, according to information from Kiev, Ukraine was attacked again with 14 drones and 2 missiles of the “Owod” type (NATO code name Kingbolt). As the night before, the attacks were primarily aimed at energy supply facilities in the Dnipropetrovsk industrial region, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Saturday morning.
According to initial information, the Russian attacks were successful. According to the military, at least nine drones were intercepted, but at the same time military governor Serhiy Lyssak reported two fires. "Almost 15,000 people are without electricity in the district. And also two thermal power plants in Kryvyi Rih that supplied 43,000 people," he wrote on Telegram. The tram in the big city was partly down and several households were also cut off from the water supply.
On the other hand, Ukraine apparently hit a refinery in Russia. “A fire broke out at the Volgograd oil refinery due to the crash of a downed drone,” the region’s governor Andrei Bocharov said on Telegram. The flames were quickly contained. There were no deaths or injuries, he assured. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported the downing of a total of seven drones.
Lithuania delivers more ammunition to Ukraine
There is good news for Kiev from the Baltics: Lithuania has provided further military aid to Ukraine in the fight against Russia. The army of the Baltic EU and NATO country has handed over ammunition for grenade launchers of the "Carl Gustaf" type and remote detonation systems to Kiev, the Defense Ministry in Vilnius said. “We actively and consistently support Ukraine, because our support for Ukraine is also an investment in our own security,” said Minister Arvydas Anusauskas.
Kremlin: USA provokes Ukraine to continue the war
Following Acting US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland's visit to Ukraine, the Kremlin accused Washington of provoking Kiev to continue the war. "The Americans are inflicting more pain on Ukrainians and the Americans are causing more Ukrainians to die," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state television correspondent Pavel Zarubin, who published the footage on Telegram on Saturday.
The USA is a direct participant in the conflict and is becoming increasingly entangled in it, said Peskov. But he was confident that this would not change the outcome of the war.
Moscow declares civil rights activist Orlov a foreign agent
Meanwhile, Russia's authorities are continuing to tighten the thumbscrews against war opponents and dissidents: The Russian Ministry of Justice declared the well-known civil rights activist Oleg Orlov a "foreign agent." According to the Interfax news agency, the 70-year-old was put on the blacklist along with five other people because of his criticism of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the spread of alleged false information about the political leadership in Moscow. For years, Orlov headed the human rights department of the civil rights organization Memorial, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.
The Russian leadership uses the term foreign agent to brand opposition members and critics. Anyone who is listed as a “foreign agent” in Russia must expect numerous disadvantages. The organizations, media and individuals on the register are subject to increased supervision of their finances. The classification is intended to fuel mistrust against them and make their work in Russia more difficult. Non-governmental organizations complain that Russians are turning away for fear of being accused of collaborating with "foreign agents."
That will be important on Saturday
An informal meeting of EU foreign ministers is entering its second day in Brussels. The situation in Ukraine and further help for the country attacked by Russia will also be discussed at a working lunch. However, not all ministers are there in person.