Thursday, July 18, 2024

Ukraine war briefing: Nato summit opens with Patriot pledges

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  • Joe Biden has welcomed Nato member states to a Washington summit warning that “[Vladimir] Putin wants nothing less, nothing less, than Ukraine’s total subjugation … and to wipe Ukraine off the map. Ukraine can and will stop Putin.”

  • Biden announced Nato will provide Ukraine with five new strategic air defence systems, the promise coming just a day after a deadly missile strike against a paediatric cancer hospital and other civilian targets. “All told, Ukraine will receive hundreds of additional interceptors over the next year, helping protect Ukrainian cities against Russian missiles and Ukrainian troops facing their attacks on the frontlines,” said Biden.

  • On Wednesday morning the Ukrainian air force announced Russian attacks with one Iskander-M ballistic missile and four KH-59/69 guided air missiles fired from occupied Crimea, and 20 Shahed drones from the Kursk region inside Russia. As a result of combat work, 14 Shaheds were shot down in Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Khmelnytskyi, Cherkasy, Vinnytsia and Rivne regions. Fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft missile units of the air force, calculations of mobile fire groups of the defence forces of Ukraine and electronic warfare units were involved. Rockets attacked the port infrastructure of Odesa. As a result of active countermeasures, three enemy KH-59/KH-69 missiles and three attack UAVs did not reach their targets.”

  • Russian drones attacked energy facilities in Ukraine’s Rivne region, the Ukrainian national grid operator said on Wednesday morning.

  • Returning to the Nato summit – the US, Germany and Romania will send additional Patriot air defence systems, while Patriot parts donated by the Netherlands will enable another battery to operate, according to a statement by the leaders of the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Romania. The Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, approved the donation of an Italian-French SAMP/T air defence system.

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, arrived in Washington on Tuesday and said he would “fight” for Nato to strengthen Ukrainian air defences and furnish it with more F-16 fighter jets. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Nato would announce a new military command in Germany for training and equipping Ukrainian troops and appoint a senior representative in Kyiv.

  • The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, told defence industry leaders in Washington that the leaders would pledge to enable arms makers across Europe and North America to produce more. He said Nato had placed an order for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles worth almost $700m in the name of several member states.

  • Zelenskiy said on Tuesday he could not predict what Donald Trump would do if he regained the US presidency in November, but the whole world, including Vladimir Putin, was awaiting the outcome. Zelenskiy said he hoped Trump would not quit Nato and that America would keep supporting Ukraine in its defence against Russia’s invasion. “I don’t know [him] very well,” Zelenskiy said, adding they had “good meetings” during Trump’s presidency but that was before Russia’s 2022 invasion. “I can’t tell you what he will do, if he will be the president of the United States. I don’t know.”

  • Russia lacks the munitions and troops to start a major offensive in Ukraine and to do so would need to secure significantly more ammunition from its suppliers like Iran and North Korea, reporters were told at a Nato briefing on Tuesday. Russia was suffering “very high” losses over small territorial gains, ordering “undermanned, inexperienced units to move into areas to achieve unrealistic objectives”.

  • India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, told Vladimir Putin that the death of innocent children was painful and terrifying, a day after the lethal strike on the children’s hospital in Kyiv. “Whether it is war, conflict or a terrorist attack, any person who believes in humanity, is pained when there is loss of lives,” Modi said. “But even in that, when innocent children are killed, the heart bleeds and that pain is very terrifying.” The deadly hospital strike was likely caused by a direct hit from a Russian missile, said Danielle Bell, UN human rights monitoring head of mission for Ukraine.

  • India’s relationship with Russia gives it an ability to urge Vladimir Putin to end the war with Ukraine, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said in response to Modi’s meeting Putin and his remarks.

  • After rescue operations stretched into a second day at the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital, officials said at least 42 people throughout Ukraine were killed in Monday’s attacks. Zelenskiy said 64 people were hospitalised in the capital, in addition to 28 in Kryvyi Rih and six in Dnipro – both in central Ukraine. It was Russia’s heaviest bombardment of Kyiv in almost four months.

  • The UN nuclear watchdog will hold a special meeting after Ukraine accused Russia of undermining atomic safety by shattering the radiation-equipped children’s hospital, according to a confidential document seen by AFP. Children with cancer are treated at the hospital.

  • Russia has been obliged to chair a UN security council meeting where it was condemned over the hospital strike. France and Ecuador asked for the session, which Russia led as the current holder of the council’s rotating presidency, putting its ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, on the receiving end of the criticism.

  • The US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told colleagues that they were there “because Russia, a permanent member of the security council, current rotational president of the security council, attacked a children’s hospital … Even uttering that phrase sends a chill down my spine.” The British ambassador, Barbara Woodward, called it “cowardly depravity”. Ecuador’s envoy, José De La Gasca, described it as “particularly intolerable”. Nebenzia dismissed that and other criticisms as “verbal gymnastics” and repeated Russian denials of responsibility for the attack.

  • Ukrainian drones attacked a Russian oil refinery, military airfield, and electricity substation in a joint operation by Kyiv’s security and military intelligence agencies, a security source told Reuters. The source said the attacks hit the Akhtubinsk airfield in Russia’s southern Astrakhan region, an oil refinery in the Volgograd region and an electricity substation in the Rostov region.

  • Russia claimed to have captured the village of Yasnobrodivka in eastern Ukraine near the Russian-held city of Donetsk, according to its defence ministry.

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