Russia claimed to have captured a village in eastern Ukraine as part of its months-long push towards the town of Bakhmut. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Klishchiivka, 9 km south of Bakhmut, had been “liberated”. The claim could not be independently verified. Ukrainian officials had no immediate comment. Russian proxy forces in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic earlier said they had taken control of Klishchiivka.
American officials began to pressure the Ukrainians to divert attention from Bakhmut and focus on preparing for an offensive in the south. Joe Biden’s administration believes there is strong potential that the Russians will eventually push Ukrainian forces out of the hotly contested city, which has seen some of the most intense fighting in the war to date. The German foreign intelligence service, the BND, is also reportedly alarmed by the losses suffered by the Ukrainian army in Bakhmut.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he didn’t think it was realistic to expect Ukraine to push Russian troops out of its territory internationally recognized in 2023.. “From a military point of view, I still maintain that from this year it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject Russian forces from every square inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine,” he said at a press conference at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Germany refused to make a decision on whether to give Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at a special international summit held in Ramstein. There had been hopes in Europe and the United States that Germany would at least allow the re-export of Leopards belonging to countries such as Poland and Finland, but despite days of pleading, the new Minister of Defense of Berlin say no final decision had been taken.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded with Germany and its Western allies to send their battle tanks to Kyiv at the opening of the meeting in Ramstein. Urgent action was needed, the Ukrainian leader said, as “Russia is concentrating its forces, its last forces, trying to convince everyone that hatred can be stronger than the world”.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the pro-Kyiv group of defense ministers had focused on “ensuring that Ukraine has the capability it needs to succeed at this time”. Speaking after the meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Austin described Germany as a “reliable ally”.
The Kremlin said supplying additional tanks to Kyiv would “fundamentally change nothing”. Russia’s relationship with the United States was at its “historic low point,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said, with “no hope” of improving bilateral relations “in the foreseeable future. “.
A former US Navy Seal has been killed in Ukraine, US officials said Friday. Daniel W Swift, a petty officer 1st class who deserted his post in San Diego in March 2019, was injured at Dnipro and died of his injuries on Wednesday. Officials said he was not fighting in an official capacity. The Navy said it “cannot speculate why the former sailor was in Ukraine.”
EU countries are reportedly working on a 10th round of Russia-related sanctions. The next sanctions package “will be somewhere around” the anniversary of Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, a senior diplomat told Reuters. EU officials are also seeking ministers’ approval for a seventh tranche of military aid to Ukraine worth 500 million euros.
The United States will impose additional sanctions on the Wagner Group, said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. The US Treasury Department plans to designate Wagner as a major transnational criminal organization, which would freeze all of the group’s assets in the United States and prohibit Americans from providing Wagner with any funds, goods or services.
Italian authorities are on the hunt for a Russian oligarch after two of his luxury yachts seized under EU sanctions mysteriously disappeared from a port in Sardinia. The yachts, belonging to Dmitry Mazepin, the billionaire owner of a mineral fertilizer company, disappeared from the Sardinian port of Olbia within weeks of each other last summer.