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Russia Shifting War Focus To ‘NATO And The West,’ Says EU Official

Russian troops continue their multilateral offensive in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, while Kyiv’s western allies continue to show united support.

On January 27, the Ukrainian military said heavy shelling had been seen in northern, northeastern and eastern Ukraine amid expectations that Russia was preparing to resume its offensive in the coming months.

In the face of these expectations, Ukraine’s Western allies continue to provide military equipment and assistance to bolster Kyiv’s defenses as the first anniversary of the conflict launched by Russia last February 24 approaches.

The European Union on January 27 extended its economic sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine for another six months, as EU justice ministers vowed to quickly prosecute “horrible” crimes in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo said his country provided another 90 million euros ($100 million) in military support for Ukraine, its largest aid package to Ukraine to date.

“Ukraine must be able to defend itself against brutal Russian aggression,” he wrote on Twitter.

President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude for the growing number of countries that have donated advanced tanks to Kyiv, urging them to speed up the delivery of offensive combat vehicles.

Ukrainian troops repelled attacks in 11 locations in two eastern regions in the past 24 hours, a day after Moscow launched another wave of missile strikes on Ukraine that killed at least 11 people and damaged energy infrastructure, despite Kyiv’s air defenses destroying most of the flying projectiles.

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the latest developments on the ongoing Russian invasion, Kyiv’s counteroffensive, Western military aid, the global backlash and the plight of civilians. To view all RFE/RL reports on the war, click here.

“Over the past day, the defense forces repelled the attacks of the invaders on Ploschanka, Nevsky, Chervonpopovka in Lugansk, Verkhnekamyansky, Paraskoviyivka, Bakhmut, Klischevka, Vodyana, Nevelsky, Maryinka and Vugledar in Donetsk,” the General Staff of Ukraine said in a statement. daily report that

Oleg Sinegubov, governor of the northeastern district of Kharkiv, said that “heavy fighting” continues along the front line in the area. “Our defenders hold their positions firmly and inflict damage on the enemy,” he said.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was unable to independently verify these reports.

Zelensky, in a late-night video message on January 26, thanked “everyone in the world who is truly fighting terror with us” and reiterated the need to “speed up” the delivery of heavy tanks to his country.

According to media reports, Germany and its allies initially provided about 100 German-made Leopard 2 tanks, in addition to the US contribution of 31 M1 Abrams tanks and the UK’s previously pledged 14 Challenger 2 tanks.

Canada has become the latest country to announce its intention to transfer tanks to Ukraine. Canada’s defense minister said Ottawa will send four Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine after Germany this week allowed other countries to re-export a German-made tank.

Poland, the Netherlands and Spain have previously announced their readiness to transfer part of the Leopard 2 tanks in warehouses to Ukraine, which they can do only with the explicit permission of the German manufacturer.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Warsaw would transfer an additional 60 tanks to Ukraine in addition to the already promised 14 German-made Leopards.

Morawiecki, in an interview with the Canadian television channel CTV News on January 26, said: “Right now we are ready to send 60 of our modernized tanks, 30 of them [Polish-made] PT-91″.

According to public statements, the training of Ukrainian crews and the delivery of tanks in the first cases will take at least two months.

According to two diplomatic sources cited by Reuters, France and Italy are close to finalizing the technical details of the delivery of the SAMP/T air defense system to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said that “our armored coalition already includes 12 countries” that will provide advanced Western battle tanks to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s 11-month-long invasion.

Zelensky also pushed for Western supplies of long-range missiles and aircraft to Ukraine.

The DPA quotes Morawiecki as telling a French TV channel on January 26 that his country would be ready to send fighter jets to Ukraine if Warsaw’s NATO allies decide to do so.

EU justice ministers meeting on January 27 in Stockholm said the 27-member bloc wants accountability for Russia’s “horrible” crimes in Ukraine as soon as possible, even though they disagree on how to prosecute, find evidence or funding to repair damages caused during the war.

On the same day, the Council of the European Union extended sanctions against certain sectors of the Russian economy for six months, until July 31.

“They currently consist of a wide range of sectoral measures, including restrictions on trade, finance, technology and dual-use goods, industry, transport and luxury goods,” the statement said.

The sanctions also include a ban on the import or transfer of offshore oil and certain petroleum products from Russia to the EU, as well as the de-SWIFT of several Russian banks.

The suspension of broadcasting activities and licenses of several Kremlin-backed disinformation outlets is also part of the restrictive measures.

The Kremlin has reacted with fury to the latest gesture of Western solidarity with Ukraine, saying it viewed the promised delivery of advanced tanks as evidence of an escalation of US and NATO “direct involvement” in Russia’s war of aggression, which both deny.

According to Reuters, dpa and CTV

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