Ukraine updates: Germany approves over 100 tanks to Kyiv
February 7, 2023
Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands say they plan to provide Ukraine with at least 100 refurbished Leopard 1 battle tanks. Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to shell civilian targets in Ukraine. DW has the latest.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the German economy and defense ministries announced the approval of up to 178 German-made Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine.
"How many Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks will actually be delivered to Ukraine depends on the required maintenance work," the statement added.
It comes as part of a joint pledge with Denmark and the Netherlands. The defense ministers of the three countries said the tanks were part of an effort "to support Ukraine in their endeavour to withstand Russian aggression."
In a joint statement, the three nations said the "required logistic support and training" would be provided. That includes a "spare parts and ammunition-package."
The Dutch defense ministry said it would be purchasing the tanks "directly from German industry."
Kasja Ollongen, the Dutch defense minister, told national broadcaster NOS the slightly older model tanks are "definitely still useable" for the battlefields of Luhansk and Donetsk.
"It's a tested tank, and because they're being tuned up and made ready for fighting, they will definitely be useful for the Ukrainians," she said.
Meanwhile, German vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said that Ukraine should have a double-digit number of German-made Leopard 1 tanks at its disposal in the first quarter, adding it was unclear exactly how many of the authorized 178 tanks would be sent.
"The numbers are there but they have to be refurbished for battle, re-equipped, so we don't know exactly how many," he told reporters after meeting US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Washington. "But it's a large number to repel Russia's spring offensive."
Last month, the German government opted to deliver modern Leopard 2 tanks from military supplies after an international pressure campaign and a US agreement that it would send M1 Abrams tanks later.
Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, February 7:
Kuleba and Blinken discuss new military aid
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter he spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about new military aid, sanctions on Russia and "the preparations of important events" as Russia's invasion nears its one-year anniversary on February 24.
"Russia would be making a grave mistake if it thought anyone would get tired of fighting the evil it brings," Kuleba added.
Speaking in Kyiv, Pistorius said Ukraine will receive more than 100 Leopard 1 tanks from several European countries. The German Defense Ministry later said that Ukraine would receive "at least 100" Leopard tanks in the coming months from Germany and countries including Denmark and the Netherlands.
By the second quarter of next year, three battalions should be equipped.
Pistorius also met with Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Russia shells civilian targets in Ukraine
Russian shells struck a town's hospital and five apartment buildings in the northeastern town of Vovchansk, Ukrainian authorities said.
Emergency services for Kharkiv region reported the hospital caught fire late on Monday.
Eight civilians had to be evacuated from the site before firefighters could extinguish the blaze, with no resulting casualties.
Moscow continued shelling the mining town of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region. The town is a key target for Russian forces.
The Ukrainian presidential office said five apartment buildings were destroyed. Vuhledar had a prewar population of 14,000.
Ukraine says last 24 hours deadliest of the war for Russia
Ukraine said the past day has been the deadliest of the war so far for Russia.
Overnight, Ukraine's tally of Russian war dead increased by 1,030, bringing the total Russian casualties Ukraine claims to 133,190. By contrast, Russia claims it killed 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers in January.
Neither tally could be independently verified.
Ukraine's parliament extends martial law, general mobilization by 90 days
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, extended martial law by 90 days again due to Russia's ongoing invasion of the country.
Media reported 348 members of parliament, more than the 226 votes required, voted to extend martial law and general mobilization in the European country.
With Ukraine's general mobilization, men between the ages of 18 and 60 are barred from leaving the country with limited exception until May 20.
Russia invasion displaced 13.3 million — UN
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said on Monday that nearly 8 million people have had to flee Ukraine since the Russian invasion started, while another 5.3 million are internally displaced.
This is the largest refugee movement since the Second World War, according to the UN.
Griffiths, the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the UN Security Council in New York almost 40% of Ukraine's population are in need of humanitarian assistance.
To address the severe humanitarian crisis impacting 17.6 million people in the country, the UN said that it needs some €3.9 billion on behalf of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine.
The UN reports that since Russia's invasion of Ukraine started on February 24, 2022, more than 7,000 people have died.
"The actual toll is certainly higher," Griffiths said.
Russia warns war could 'escalate unpredictably'
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Western arms shipments to Ukraine could drag NATO into the conflict.
"The US and its allies are trying to drag out the conflict as long as possible. To do this, they have begun supplying heavy offensive weapons (to Kyiv) and openly calling on Ukraine to seize our territories," Shoigu told a defense meeting.
"Such steps draw NATO countries into the conflict and could see it escalate unpredictably," Shoigu added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said the military alliance is not seeking a direct confrontation with Russia.
During a visit to South Korea last week, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing for "more war" by acquiring weapons from countries, including North Korea.
Russia lashes out at US diplomats in Moscow
The Russian state-run Tass news agency said Russia had passed an official diplomatic note to the US embassy in Moscow, accusing US diplomats in the country of spreading fake news about the country's efforts to invade neighboring Ukraine.
A senior Russian foreign ministry source reportedly told the Russian state news outlet that the new US ambassador Lynne Tracy must adhere to Russian law when speaking about what Russia euphemistically refers to officially as a "special military operation."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has slipped and called it a "war."
Tracy arrived in Moscow last month. She was heckled and jeered by a crowd when she went to the foreign ministry to deliver her credentials late last month.
The US is Ukraine's most significant Western backer.
Russian offensive to include Kharkiv or Zaporizhzhia – Ukraine security chief
Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine's national security chief, said he expects Russia will include northeastern Kharkiv or Zaporizhzhia regions in an anticipated upcoming spring offensive.
Russia hopes to reclaim the initiative in its stalled year-old invasion of its neighbor.
Danilov added that Russian forces were probing Ukrainian defensive lines in partially-occupied Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine believes Russia still aims to capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk which it claims to have annexed last year in what are widely regarded as sham referenda.
Ukraine's national security chief said Russia aims to have demonstrable results it can showcase by the one-year anniversary of the invasion on February 24.
"They need to have something to show before their people, and have a major desire to do something big, as they see it, by this date," Danilov said.
Russia likely planning major offensive, Luhansk governor
Russia's military has likely tried to resume significant offensive operations in Ukraine since early January of this year, with the intention of seizing Ukraine-held portions of Donetsk, a British Defence Intelligence update said on Tuesday.
The assessment added that it was still doubtful that Russia would be able to amass the necessary troops in time to have a substantial impact on the outcome of the conflict.
Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine's governor of the mainly Russian-occupied Luhansk province, said they are seeing more reserves and equipment being brought in.
"They bring ammunition that is used differently than before — it is not round-the-clock shelling anymore. They are slowly starting to save, getting ready for a full-scale offensive," Haidai said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's spring offensive to recapture lost territories has been on hold awaiting the delivery of longer-range missiles and battle tanks from the West.
Fire engulfs US-owned drone factory in Latvia
A factory making unmanned aerial vehicles that are in use in Ukraine and elsewhere was ablaze Tuesday afternoon.
The facility, owned by a US company, Edge Autonomy, is in Marupe, near the Riga airport. One fire brigade from the airport was sent to manage the blaze, spokesperson Ilze Salna said.
Residents were advised to steer clear of the smoke. State Fire and Rescue Service told state news agency Leta that they received a call shortly after 3:00 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) that the facility was alight.
According to the company website, the California-based company produces long-range unmanned aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Edge Autonomy drones are manufactured for academic, commercial and government clients in 70 countries, including Ukraine and NATO allies.
Paris mayor says Russian athletes not welcome at Olympics
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she was opposed to Russian athletes competing at the 2024 Olympic Games "while Ukraine war continues."
Late last month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) it was looking into ways to let athletes from Russia and Belarus compete in Paris next year despite international sanctions slapped over the invasion of Ukraine.
The athletes could be free to compete under a neutral flag, the IOC said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy however, said it would be tantamount to showing that "terror is somehow acceptable."
Ukraine and several of its allies have threatened to boycott the Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes were allowed to take part.