Western allies differ over jets for Ukraine as Russia claims gains

  • Biden says “no” when asked about F-16s for Ukraine
  • Zelenskiy says Moscow wants ‘big revenge’
  • The Russian boss accuses Vuhledar
  • Kyiv could take back the ground when Western weapons arrived – the group

KYIV, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s defense minister is expected in Paris on Tuesday to meet with President Emmanuel Macron amid a debate among Kyiv’s allies over the provision of fighter jets for its war against and Russia, after the President of the United States Joe Biden decided to provide F- 16s.

Ukraine plans to deploy fourth-generation fighters to the West such as F-16s after receiving supplies of main battle tanks last week, an adviser to Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Friday.

Asked at the White House on Monday whether the United States would provide F-16s, Biden told reporters: “No.”

But France and Poland appear ready to entertain any such request from Ukraine, with Macron telling reporters in The Hague on Monday that “by definition, nothing is excluded” when it comes to aid. of the army.

In French televised remarks ahead of Biden’s speech in Washington, Macron stressed that any such move would depend on a number of factors, including the need to avoid escalation and the confidence that the plane would not ” seize Russian soil.” He said Reznikov will meet his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu in Paris on Tuesday.

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In Poland on Monday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also did not rule out a possible delivery of F-16s to neighboring Ukraine, answering a question from a reporter before Biden spoke.

Morawiecki said in a statement posted on his website that any such transfer would take place “in full cooperation” with NATO countries.

Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the president of Ukraine, noted “good signals” from Poland and said that France “does not rule out” such an operation in separate areas in his Telegraph station.

Biden’s comments came shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Russia had begun retaliating for Ukraine’s resistance to its attack with sustained attacks in the east.

Zelenskiy has warned for weeks that Moscow is ready to step up its offensive after nearly two months of insurgency near the front line that runs through the south and east.

Ukraine won a major boost last week when Germany and the United States announced plans to supply heavy tanks, ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock over the issue.

While there was no sign of a new Russian attack, the commander of Russian-controlled units in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province, Denis Pushilin, said Russian forces had gained control of Vuhledar, a mining town. of coal whose ruins were the center of Ukraine. from the beginning of the war.

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Pushilin said Ukrainian forces are continuing to provide aid in Bakhmut, Maryinka and Vuhledar, three towns running from north to south west of Donetsk city. Russian state news agency TASS quoted him as saying that Russian forces are advancing there, but “it is not clear, that is, here there is a fight for every meter.”

Ukraine still controls Maryinka and Vuhledar, where Russian attacks were less intense on Monday, according to Ukrainian military expert Oleh Zhdanov.

Pushilin’s adviser, Yan Gagin, said fighters of the Russian Wagner army have taken partial control of the supply route leading to Bakhmut, a town that has been in Moscow’s focus for months.

The day before, Wagner’s head said that his fighters had secured Blahodatne, a village north of Bakhmut.

Kyiv said it had ended attacks on Blahodatne and Vuhledar, and Reuters could not confirm the situation there. But recorded battlefields showed Russia’s success, albeit slowly.

In the central region of Zaporizhzhia and the southern part of Kherson, Russian forces attacked more than 40 locations, said the General Staff of Ukraine. Targets included the city of Kherson, where there were casualties.

The Russians also launched four rocket attacks on Ochakiv in southern Mykolaiv, the military said, on the day Zelenskiy met with the Danish prime minister in the northeastern city of Mykolaiv.

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Most of the hundreds of modern tanks and armored vehicles promised to Ukraine by the West in recent weeks are months away from being delivered.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said the 14 British-supplied Challenger tanks would be at the front around April or May, without giving an exact timetable.

Zelenskiy urges the West to speed up the delivery of its promised weapons so that Ukraine can continue to attack.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Western countries that provide weapons are leading “NATO countries even more to directly intervene in the conflict – but it has no chance to change the course of events and will not do so.”

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said the “failure of the West to provide the necessary supplies” last year was the main reason Kyiv’s advance had stalled since November. .

The researchers said in the report that Ukraine may still be able to retake the territory once the promised weapons arrive.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow justifies as necessary to protect its relations with its neighbors and the West, has killed tens of thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

Reporting by Reuters offices; Written by Doina Chiacu and Stephen Coates; Edited by Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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