A flurry of Russian strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure killed 11 people on Thursday.
The stepped-up military aid swept away long-standing mistrust among the Allies and signaled a surge in Western support for a counteroffensive against the Russian invasion.
The latest wave of Russian attacks comes as the Kremlin says the tanks are “directly involved in the conflict”.
Many Ukrainians welcomed the move, with a doctor who gave only her first name, Lisa, telling AFP near the frontline city of Baghmut that “it should have happened sooner and on a larger scale.”
Because of this Ukraine’s emergency services said 11 people were killed and 11 injured in Russia’s latest missile attacks.
A 55-year-old man was killed in Kyiv by shrapnel from a missile shot down by Ukrainian air defense systems, officials said.
Ukraine’s military said its forces destroyed 47 of the 55 missiles fired Russia.
From October Russia It has launched routine strikes against energy infrastructure across Ukraine, where temperatures are near freezing.
Energy Minister German Kalushchenko charged Russia seeks to “create a systemic failure in Ukraine’s energy system.”
Power was stabilized in Kyiv in the afternoon, but in the southern part of Odessa on the Black Sea, “emergency power outages will continue,” energy provider DTEK said.
The attacks delayed a visit by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonnade, who was in Odessa to discuss aid with Ukraine’s top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba.
The United States said Wednesday it would deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave the green light to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks — a decision that opened the floodgates for several European countries armed with Panthers to send their own contributions.
The British government said it was aiming to send the tanks by the end of March, with training starting next week.
While the West has already sent everything from artillery to Patriot anti-missile defense systems to Ukraine, the tanks have long been considered a step too far, causing a wider backlash. Russia.
But allies are now scrambling to retaliate as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive to push back increasingly entrenched Russians in the east and south.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Thursday that the Leopard tanks promised by Berlin would arrive “at the end of March, beginning of April”.
Training of Ukrainian troops on German Martar infantry fighting vehicles will begin in the next few days, he added, and “some time later” Ukrainian soldiers will train on the Cheetah.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the tank deliveries represented “direct involvement in the conflict”.
But Paris insisted that neither France nor its allies were at war Russia.
“We are not at war Russia And none of our allies,” said Foreign Office spokeswoman Ann-Claire Legendre.
“The provision of military equipment…does not constitute collateral belligerence.”
After a series of battlefield setbacks, Russia It has gained ground in the east, where Ukraine has acknowledged the withdrawal of its troops from the city of Soledar in Donetsk region.
Russian forces and units of Wagner mercenaries claimed to have captured the small salt mining town two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Khanna Malyar said Moscow was intensifying pressure on the eastern side of the fighting in nearby Pakmut.
According to the US-based Institute of War Research Russia “Spoiling offensives along most of the front line in Ukraine to scatter and distract Ukrainian forces”.
Those actions, it said, “should set the conditions for launching a decisive offensive operation” in the eastern Luhansk region.
As Russian forces advance, the U.N. The head of the refugee agency told AFP that Kyiv and European governments should prepare for a wave of people fleeing the fighting.
Despite giving several scholarships, Russia It gave the agency only limited access to Ukrainians there.
“The intensification of war poses the risk of displacement one way or the other, and we must be prepared for that,” said Filippo Grandi Kyivil, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Separately, Ukraine has threatened to boycott the 2024 Olympics in Paris if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has outlined ways to allow competitors Russia And Belarus “needs to be explored further,” despite being shut out of most Olympic games since the invasion of Ukraine last February.
“Such a situation is unacceptable for our country,” said Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadim Goutzid.
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