Updated on 01/18/2023 23:18
- Ukraine mourns the loss of Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj who died in a helicopter crash.
- Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is confident of victory.
- The decision on the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is close.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj has died in a helicopter crash near the capital Kyiv. At least 14 people died in the accident, civil defense announced on Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime, 18 dead were mentioned. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin looked confident of victory during a visit to an armaments company. Discussion over the delivery of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine continued to gather momentum. NATO fears a difficult year due to the war.
Helicopter crashed near kindergarten in the small town of Brovary
Deputy Interior Minister Yehvhenij Jenin and a secretary of state were among those killed in the helicopter crash, Ukrainian officials said. The helicopter crashed in a residential area near a kindergarten in the small town of Brovary, near Kyiv. According to the Interior Ministry, four children also died. The cause of the accident was initially unclear. The helicopter type is not considered particularly reliable. The downing of the helicopter was also not ruled out. From the presidential office it was said that the leadership of the Ministry of Interior was on its way to one of the front sections.
EU, Scholz and Biden react to crash in dismay
EU leaders reacted with dismay to the death of Ukraine’s interior minister and other victims of the helicopter crash. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her deepest condolences to the victims’ families, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the whole of Ukraine on Wednesday. “We are in mourning with you,” wrote the German on Twitter. Chancellor Olaf Scholz was shocked. “The helicopter crash in #Brovary once again shows the immense price #Ukraine is paying in this war,” Scholz wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. US President Joe Biden praised Monastyrskyj as a “reformer and patriot” who upheld the will of the Ukrainian people.
Confident Putin: “Victory is inevitable”
At a meeting with handpicked workers at a factory belonging to the Almas-Antey group in St Petersburg, Putin explained that Russia’s rocket makers now produce as much as all the countries in the world put together. “For example, we manufacture three times as many anti-aircraft missiles a year as the United States.” Therefore, Russia’s victory is “inevitable” in the end, Putin said. “I have no doubts about that.” He promised a law that would exempt workers in the armaments industry from military service.
Read too: ISW: Putin may officially declare war on Ukraine today
NATO does not expect the war to end anytime soon
NATO does not expect the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine to end anytime soon. “Putin is preparing for a long war,” Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said on Wednesday at the start of a two-day meeting of the Western Defense Alliance’s military committee. Putin has already deployed more than 200,000 additional troops, is ramping up weapons production, and is also acquiring more weapons from authoritarian regimes like Iran. “We have to be prepared for a long road,” said Geoană. “2023 will be a difficult year and we must support Ukraine as long as necessary.”
British secret service sees problems for Ukraine in Bakhmut
According to British intelligence services, the Russian capture of the Ukrainian town of Soledar also poses problems for Ukraine when it comes to supplying the larger city of Bakhmut. One of the two main supply routes is under increasing pressure, the British Ministry of Defense said at its daily briefing on Wednesday. The Ukrainian military is believed to have established a new line of defense further west, the British said. On the outskirts of Bakhmut, Ukraine continues to defend the city against continued Russian attacks.
The debate over the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks continues
The Greens are demanding a quick positive decision from the designated Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) on the delivery of the Leopard 2 tanks. Green parliamentary group leader Agnieszka Brugger told media company Table.Media: “Anybody who agrees to deliver mink can also deliver Leopard tanks”. The head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, advocates that Germany supply these main battle tanks. Many partners, such as Britain or Poland, wanted to deliver main battle tanks to Ukraine and were in favor of Germany doing the same, Heusgen told the ZDF “heute journal update” late on Tuesday.
The European Parliament also asked Scholz to allow deliveries of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine. In Strasbourg, MEPs passed a corresponding Greens motion with a large majority. It literally said that the European Parliament was asking Scholz to “initiate a European consortium of relevant European countries to deliver Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine without delay”. The decision was a legally non-binding report.
Former Bundeswehr general Hans-Lothar Domröse hopes the restriction in Berlin will be lifted. “I hope that the federal government will make a commitment to deliver the Leopard main battle tanks at the meeting of Ukraine’s supporters on Friday in Ramstein,” Domröse told newspapers of the Funke media group. Tanks are considered important for recapturing occupied territories. The Leopard 2 is considered one of the most effective main battle tanks in the world.
In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Scholz left open whether he wants to clear the way for the delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. He again stressed that Germany, along with Britain and after the US, is already one of the biggest arms suppliers to Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia. “We will continue to be a great supporter,” he promised. Germany will deliver as long as it takes. Scholz also confirmed that he would only decide together with the allies on qualitatively new steps in weapons deliveries. He explicitly named the US and France. “That’s our strategy.”
Reports: Scholz ready to deliver main battle tanks with one condition
According to media reports on Wednesday night, Scholz was supposed to allow the delivery of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine – but only under one condition. According to information from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, Scholz made it clear in a telephone call to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, that Germany could only comply if the United States, in turn, provided Ukraine with its own Abrams war tanks. Apparently, Biden still hadn’t made a decision in Tuesday’s conversation.
Media: US wants to move ammo from Israel to Ukraine
According to a media report, the US Department of Defense wants to deliver ammunition stored in Israel to Ukraine. As the “New York Times” reported on Wednesday, the Pentagon is preparing to transfer weapons to the country attacked by Russia. About half of the 300,000 artillery shells destined for Ukraine have already been sent to Europe. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed to the German Press Agency that the equipment stored in Israel was handed over to the US military at the request of the US a few weeks ago. (dpa/br)