Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the situation in the hard-fought east of his country as persistently difficult. "The situation at the front and especially in the Donetsk region - near Bakhmut and Wuhledar - remains extremely tense," Zelensky said in his evening video address on Friday. Despite the waves of Russian attacks, which have been particularly violent for months, a representative of the United Nations said that no new major refugee movements could be identified.
Meanwhile, after a controversial statement by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), the federal government reiterated that Germany was by no means a party to the war.
"The occupiers are not only storming our positions - they are also deliberately and systematically destroying towns and villages around them. With artillery, air force and rockets," Zelenskyy said. The Russian army had previously reported new attacks on Wuhledar. Only recently, together with the notorious mercenary group Wagner, they conquered and occupied the city of Soledar, also located in Donetsk, after extremely costly battles.
Particularly against the background of the heavy attacks in the east, Ukraine, which has been defending itself against the Russian invasion for more than eleven months, has repeatedly demanded international military aid, even beyond the German and US battle tanks that have now been promised.
After a controversial statement by Foreign Minister Baerbock, the federal government emphasized that Germany is not a party to the war in Ukraine. "NATO and Germany are not at war with Russia in this war of aggression against Ukraine," said deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann. "We support Ukraine, but we are not at war."
On Tuesday at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Baerbock called for the cohesion of the western allies with the following words: "We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other." The Russian state media used this statement as a central key sentence for war propaganda - as proof that Germany and the other EU countries are direct conflict parties in Ukraine and are fighting against Russia.
Former US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, provided the Kremlin's propaganda with a through ball. The Republican claimed that he could negotiate an end to the war "within 24 hours." The Kremlin took up this gratefully. The United States could quickly end the "war in Ukraine," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The West, on the other hand, recognizes sovereign Ukraine's right to defend itself against the Russian war of aggression and gives it massive support in doing so. Without this weapon support, Ukraine could hardly withstand the Russian invasion.
According to the United Nations, the repeatedly violent Russian rocket attacks have not triggered any new major flight movements from Ukraine. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, told the German Press Agency in Kyiv. The authorities in the neighboring Republic of Moldova have also confirmed that there are currently not more people leaving Ukraine. However, because of the winter, fewer people returned to Ukraine than before Russian missile attacks on Ukraine's power system began in October.
According to the Israeli ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, his country supports Russia's attacked Ukraine more than is publicly known. Israel is helping, "but behind the scenes," the diplomat told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Saturday). He asked for understanding for the Israeli restraint: "We have the Russians in Syria. As you know, the Israeli army regularly prevents arms deliveries from Iran to Syria and Lebanon. These include Iranian drones and missiles that Russia uses in Ukraine." , says Prosor. He also stated that there is a large Jewish community in Russia. "These are the two main reasons we keep a low profile."
Under the pressure of Western sanctions, Russian banks' profits collapsed by more than 90 percent in the war year 2022. Overall, the banking sector in the world's largest country by area made a profit of 203 billion rubles (2.7 billion euros) - around a twelfth of the record result of 2.4 trillion rubles from the previous year 2021, according to a report published by the Russian central bank . This is the lowest profit for Russian banks since 2015.
In response to the war of aggression against Ukraine ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin in February 2022, many Western countries - including Germany - have issued far-reaching sanctions against Russia. In the financial sector, this includes the exclusion of Russian financial institutions from the Swift banking communications network.