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Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy visits Baltics amid failing aid

Published January 10, 2024last updated January 10, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Lithuania at the start of a Baltic tour aimed at promoting aid to Kyiv. Ukraine's Culture Ministry says almost 900 cultural sites have been damaged or destroyed.

Destroyed historic gymnasium in Mykolaiv
This historic gymnasium in Mykolaiv is one of the cultural sites damaged in the Russian invasionImage: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, Ievhenij Vasjukov
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on Wednesday as he begins a tour of Baltic states he said is aimed at thanking them for their support as Kyiv fights against Russian invaders.

Speaking after his arrival, Zelenskyy said his country mostly lacked modern air defenses, saying that Western hesitation on aid to Ukraine helped Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His remarks come as Russia steps up its attacks on Ukrainian cities, which, according to the Ukrainian Culture Ministry, have badly damaged or destroyed many sites of cultural value since Moscow's invasion began.

This blog is now closed. This was a roundup of news related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine on January 10, 2024.


Skip next section NATO pledges major additional military, economic aid to Ukraine
January 10, 2024

NATO pledges major additional military, economic aid to Ukraine

NATO confirmed on Wednesday that it will continue to provide Ukraine with significant military, economic and humanitarian support as Russia's full-scale invasion of the country approaches its third year.

Following a meeting between Ukrainian officials and NATO allies, the military alliance said its members had outlined plans to provide "billions of euros of further capabilities" to Ukraine in 2024.

"NATO strongly condemns Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian civilians, including with weapons from North Korea and Iran," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"As Moscow intensifies its strikes on Ukrainian cities and civilians, NATO allies are boosting Ukraine's air defenses," he added.

The virtual NATO meeting on Wednesday was held at Ukraine's request as concerns mount regarding Western support for its war effort.

Ukrainian women prepare for combat roles

Skip next section Children from occupied Ukraine sent for training with Belarusian army
January 10, 2024

Children from occupied Ukraine sent for training with Belarusian army

A group of Ukrainian children who recently arrived in Belarus from occupied Ukraine have been sent for "emergency survival training" with the Belarusian military, Belarusian state television reported on Wednesday.

The 35 children from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian town of Antratsyt in eastern Ukraine are reportedly being housed in a sanitorium in the eastern Belarusian city of Mogilev under the care of the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

The Belarus1 state TV channel said the military is "teaching the children how to behave in extreme situations," such as what to do in the event of a fire, and broadcast footage of the children wearing Russian flags sewn into their sleeves.

Both Ukraine and the Belarusian opposition allege that Belarus, an ally of Russia, is engaging in the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to its territory on a mass scale in a campaign to indoctrinate the children as pro-Russian.

A recent Yale University study found more than 2,400 Ukrainian children aged 6 to 17 have been brought to Belarus from the four Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Russian troops, while Ukraine's Prosecutor General is investigating Belarus over the alleged forced deportation of more than 19,000 children.

"Belarusian authorities are not hiding the fact that children are being indoctrinated," Pavel Latushka, the former Belarusian culture minister turned opposition activist, told The Associated Press, adding that Ukrainian children are being "subjected to re-education and indoctrination" to make them pro-Russian.

Ukrainian authorities said they are investigating the deportation of the children as a possible genocide.

In March, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children's rights ombudsman, Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of war crimes over the illegal deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia. Moscow has rejected the accusations.

The fate of Ukraine's abducted children

Skip next section Pope Francis: Ukraine risks becoming 'forgotten war'
January 10, 2024

Pope Francis: Ukraine risks becoming 'forgotten war'

In a letter to the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Pope Francis wrote that he is concerned that "in an increasingly tragic international situation, the war in Ukraine risks becoming a forgotten one," the Vatican has confirmed.

The pope was responding to correspondence from Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who expressed similar concerns when he wrote to him on December 29 amid intense Russian aerial assaults on Ukraine.

Pope Francis said strikes on civilians and vital infrastructure were "vile, unacceptable and cannot be justified in any way," and urged the international community and all involved in the conflict to seek peaceful solutions, according to the Vatican statement.

Francis has regularly pleaded for peace since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022 and has sent a special peace envoy, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, to Kyiv, Moscow, Washington and Beijing. Zuppi has also been tasked with helping to repatriate Ukrainian children from Russia and Russian-occupied territories.

However, some in Ukraine have criticized the pope for not being strong enough in condemnation of Russia, particularly at the start of the war.

Skip next section Over 10,200 Ukrainian civilians killed since Russian invasion – UN
January 10, 2024

Over 10,200 Ukrainian civilians killed since Russian invasion – UN

The United Nations (UN) has documented more than 10,200 civilian deaths in Ukraine since Russia's full-scale invasion of the country, with 125 fatalities recorded since December alone as a result of intensified Russian airstrikes.

The figures were presented to the UN Security Council in New York on Wednesday by Edem Wosornu, director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who also said a further 19,300 civilians had suffered injuries since February 2022, when Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The UN regularly cautions that the actual casualty figures are likely much higher than the number of officially documented cases.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 6.3 million Ukrainians have fled the country, of whom around 5.9 million have found refuge elsewhere in Europe. A further 3.7 million have been internally displaced within Ukraine.

Third-country nationals who fled Ukraine stuck in limbo

Skip next section Russia evacuates hundreds of children from Belgorod
January 10, 2024

Russia evacuates hundreds of children from Belgorod

Authorities in the Russian border city of Belgorod began evacuating hundreds of children from their homes on Wednesday after weeks of intensifying Ukrainian artillery strikes.

Some  300 adult residents have already voluntarily left the city, just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Ukrainian border.  Authorities said earlier this week that they had received 1,300 requests from parents to evacuate their children.

"Today, 392 schoolchildren from Belgorod will go to out-of-town health camps in the Voronezh and Kaluga regions for 21 days," Belgorod's mayor, Valentin Demidov, said a day after the Kremlin vowed to do "everything" it could to stop the shelling, which officials say has left over two dozen people dead.

"Nowhere is safe," 42-year-old kindergarten teacher Evgenia Savenko told the AFP news agency. "It can happen anywhere — at home or in a neighboring town. The fear is always present. It never goes away."

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin's reelection later this year is a foregone conclusion, his popularity and acceptance among the Russian people is dependent on everyday life not being affected by what the Kremlin calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, as Russia continues to refer to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

Russian airstrikes also continue to hit Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, as they have nearly daily for almost two years. 

Russia vows retaliation after attack on Belgorod

Skip next section Zelenskyy: Western hesitation on aid to Ukraine emboldens Putin
January 10, 2024

Zelenskyy: Western hesitation on aid to Ukraine emboldens Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that delays in Western supplies of aid to Kyiv encourage Russia.

Speaking at a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on his first official trip abroad of 2024, Zelenskyy said: "He [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is not going to stop. He wants to occupy us completely. The insecurity of partners regarding financial and military aid to Ukraine only increases Russia's courage and strength."

Zelenskyy's tour of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — all NATO and European Union members — comes as some Western nations waver over continued assistance for Ukraine's war effort. Zelenskyy said his forces are "sorely lacking" modern air defense systems. 

"Air defense systems are [the] number one [thing] that we lack," he said. "In recent days, Russia has hit Ukraine with a total of 500 devices: we destroyed 70% of them."

He warned Ukraine's eastern European neighbors that they could also be in Putin's sights: "We must understand that Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova may be next if we [Ukraine] do not withstand [Russia]. [Putin] won't finish this until we all finish him together."

Is Ukraine losing its war against Russia?

Skip next section Zelenskyy kicks off Baltic trip in bid to drum up support
January 10, 2024

Zelenskyy kicks off Baltic trip in bid to drum up support

 Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Gitanas Nauseda
Zelenskyy (L.) has met with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda during his visitImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP Photo/picture alliance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday on an unannounced visit as he starts a tour of the Baltic states that will see him travel to Latvia and Estonia in the coming days.

Zelenskyy said on social media that his visit aimed to thank the three countries, all EU and NATO members, for their "uncompromising support for Ukraine" in its fight against the Russian invasion.

"Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are our reliable friends and principled partners," Zelenskyy wrote, saying "security, EU and NATO integration, cooperation on electronic warfare and drones, and further coordination of European support" were all to be discussed.

The three countries, which all have had troubled relations with Russia and the former Soviet Union, have been leading supporters of Ukraine since Moscow's assault began, supplying military, financial and humanitarian support to Kyiv.

Zelenskyy's visit, his first official trip abroad in 2024, aims to shore up Western assistance to his country at a time when it is appearing more and more uncertain.

 According to a December survey by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, aid promised to Ukraine between August and October 2023 fell almost 90% from the same period in 2022, reaching its lowest point since the start of the war in February 2022.

Among other things, an EU aid package worth €50 billion ($55 billion) has yet to be released following a veto by Hungary, while Republicans in the US have blocked sending additional aid to Ukraine. 

Skip next section Almost 900 Ukrainian cultural sites damaged or destroyed: Culture Ministry
January 10, 2024

Almost 900 Ukrainian cultural sites damaged or destroyed: Culture Ministry

Ukraine Odessa | Deutsche Wissenschaftler dokumentieren Kulturerbe in der Ukraine | Verklärungskathedrale
The Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa is one significant building that has been damagesImage: Oleg Kutskij-Gross

As of December 25, Russia's invasion has completely destroyed 23 cultural heritage sites and damaged 859 others, Ukraine's Culture Ministry has said.

Among the sites listed are 120 of national significance, the ministry said.

The UN's cultural agency, UNESCO, has also condemned the Russian aerial attacks on Ukraine's national cultural treasures and classified several sites of world cultural heritage as endangered.

tj/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, DPA)