what to remember from the 317th day of the Russian invasion

Nicolas Tonev with AFP
modified to

10:59 p.m., January 06, 2023


Artillery fire continued on Friday from both sides of the front in Bakhmut, the epicenter of fighting in eastern Ukraine, despite a unilateral ceasefire announced earlier by Moscow, authorities said, AFP journalists said. Gunfire from both the Ukrainian and Russian sides was heard after the start of the ceasefire in the city with the streets mostly destroyed and deserted, but less intense than in previous days.

A day after France announced it would send light tanks to Ukraine, the United States and Germany promised Kyiv, in a joint press release, the delivery of infantry armored vehicles, the Bradley type on the American side and the Marder model. side. Berlin has also pledged to provide Patriot air defense batteries, as Washington has done. Volodymyr Zelensky immediately praised the “very important decision”, thanking the American and German leaders.

Key information to remember:

  • The United States announced $3 billion in aid to Ukraine.
  • The European Union denounced the “hypocrisy” of the ceasefire, calling it “not credible”.
  • Volodymyr Zelensky did not believe in the merits of Vladimir Putin’s ceasefire proposal, denouncing the “apology with the aim of at least stopping the advance of (his) troops in Donbass”
  • The United States, which announced in a press release a new shipment of armored infantry, also criticized the truce, which allowed Putin to “breathe the air”.
  • At least four Ukrainian civilians were killed in new attacks near Kherson and Zaporizhia

The US is providing $3 billion in new military aid

The United States will provide $3 billion in new military aid to Ukraine, the largest package to date, the White House announced Friday. This assistance, details of which the Pentagon will provide at a later date, should also include armored infantry and personnel carriers and howitzers, said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Rock.

Washington and Berlin had announced on Thursday that they would send armored infantry to Kyiv, of the Bradley type on the American side and the Marder model on the German side, but have not specified a model. In operation since the 1970s, the Marder is a light armored vehicle intended for troop transport. Their main armament is a 20mm cannon.

Bradleys are more or less machines from the same family, in service since the early 1980s. In the M2 model, they are equipped with a 25 mm gun as well as an anti-tank missile launcher, and can carry . to the crew, six fighters. Bradley “isn’t a tank, that’s a tank killer,” Pentagon spokesman General Ryder said Thursday. “We are sure that this will help (Ukrainian troops) a lot on the battlefield,” he added.

The ceasefire was criticized by the European Union

European Union (EU) diplomacy chief Josep Borrell described Friday as “hypocrisy” for the cease-fire announced by Moscow in Ukraine, on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas, calling it “not credible”. “The Kremlin has absolutely no credibility and this statement of a desire for a unilateral ceasefire is not credible,” Josep Borrell told reporters on the sidelines of a visit to Fez, Morocco. “The answer that comes to mind for all of us is skepticism in the face of so much hypocrisy,” he said.

Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his troops to observe a ceasefire “along the lines of contact between the parties in Ukraine” on January 6-7, the first major ceasefire since the start of the Russian invasion almost a year ago. Despite this announcement, the artillery duel continued on Friday.

For a ceasefire to be considered valid, “there must be a complete cessation of military offensives. There must be a withdrawal of (Russian) troops and their military equipment from Ukrainian territory,” explained Borrell, after meeting with students from the Euro-Mediterranean University.

“In the absence of such concrete action, a unilateral ceasefire appears as Russia’s bidding for time to regroup its forces and try to restore its badly damaged international reputation,” Borrell said. .

The supposed start of the ceasefire decided by Russia in Ukraine

The truce unilaterally set by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas was supposed to start at noon (9am GMT) on Friday, an initiative whose sincerity has been questioned by Kyiv. Under the terms of the ceasefire announced the day before, the first major in Ukraine since the start of the Moscow offensive, Russian forces will stop fighting until midnight Saturday (21:00 GMT).

‘Excuses’ for slowing down Ukrainian forces, says Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky also criticized the unilateral truce announced by Vladimir Putin for Orthodox Christmas, which he said was just “an apology with the aim of at least stopping the advance of our troops in the Donbass and bringing equipment, ammunition and bringing people closer to our territory.” position”. “What was the result? No more death,” he said.

During the day, the Russian president had announced this ceasefire, following calls from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, but also a proposal from Turkey’s head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called Vladimir Putin in the morning.

“Recalling the call of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instructed the Minister of Defense of Russia to introduce a cease-fire regime along the lines of contact between the parties in Ukraine from the noon of January 6 this year to midnight of January 7,” the Russian president was quoted as saying in the statement. from the Kremlin.

A truce to “give air”

He also called on the Ukrainian troops to honor the truce to give the Orthodox, the majority confessional in Ukraine as in Russia, the possibility to “attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the day of the Nativity of Christ”. . .

This is the first general ceasefire since the start of the war, only local agreements have been agreed so far, such as the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal factory in Mariupol (southeast) in April. “Russia must leave the occupied territories, only then will there be a ‘temporary truce’. Keep up your hypocrisy”, reacted on Twitter to Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhaïlo Podoliak.

For the American president, Vladimir Putin is trying to “comfort himself.” He is “ready to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches (…) on December 25 and on New Year’s Eve,” joked Joe Biden. This armistice “will do nothing to advance prospects for peace”, replied British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, calling for a permanent withdrawal of Russian troops. Such a truce would bring “neither freedom nor security” in Ukraine, German diplomacy abounded.

In his telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan had proposed a “unilateral ceasefire” meant to support “peace pleas and negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv”. Russia is ready for “serious dialogue” with Ukraine provided that Ukraine complies with Russia’s demands and accepts the “new territorial reality” born of this country’s invasion in February, Vladimir Putin argued.

Several civilians were killed

Moscow claimed in September the annexation of four territories occupied at least partially by its army in Ukraine, despite numerous military setbacks on the ground, such as the pattern of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Volodymyr Zelensky insisted on the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from his country, including Crimea, before entering into dialogue with Moscow. If not, he vowed to take back the occupied territories by force.

During his talks with Erdogan, Putin accused the West of “feeding the kyiv regime with weapons and military equipment and providing it with operational and targeting information”. A Russian ceasefire was offered less than a week after a Ukrainian attack on New Year’s Eve killed at least 89 people in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine. A bombing that was so lethal that the Russian army had to admit, an extremely rare fact, and one that gave rise to criticism in Russia of the military command.

On the front lines in Ukraine, bombings continued on Thursday with notably the death of a woman and her 12-year-old son in a Russian bombing in Beryslav, near Kherson, in the south, according to deputy head of the presidential administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

Two people were also killed and three others injured in an attack on a village in the Zaporizhia region, also in the south, according to Governor Oleksandre Staroukh. Residents of the eastern town of Chassiv Iar told AFP on Thursday that a Russian missile hit a building before dawn, wounding a man and a woman.

Germany will deliver 40 “Marder” armored vehicles.

Germany will deliver 40 “Marder” armored vehicles to the Ukrainian army in the first quarter of 2023, the government said on Friday, a day after Berlin and Washington announced a new phase in military support for Kyiv that angered Moscow. “Forty vehicles will be ready in the first quarter, and can be delivered to Ukraine”, following the “eight weeks of training” provided to the Ukrainian army, said Steffen Hebestreit, spokesman for the German government, during a regular meeting. press conference on Friday.

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Thursday the delivery of infantry fighting vehicles to support Ukrainian troops against the Russian army, but have not specified their number or schedule for their delivery. This news angered the Russian Embassy in Berlin, which condemned the shipment, saying it contributed to “an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine”. On his website, he called the move “deeply cynical” because it came two days before Orthodox Christmas.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter that he thanked Chancellor Scholz by phone for the new weapon. “The time has come to deliver Western technology protection tanks”, explained Mr. Hebestreit on Friday, referring to “intensive discussions since mid-December” between the allies, which led to this decision that marks a qualitative leap in arms deliveries to Ukraine.

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