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Live: UN appeals for $5.6 billion in aid for Ukraine in 2023 as war rages on

The UN on Wednesday said it needed $5.6 billion to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine and to the millions who have fled the war-ravaged country as the international community braces for a spring offensive with Russia announcing recent gains in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.  Follow FRANCE 24 for live updates. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

11:20am: German tank delivery for Ukraine came ‘a bit too late’, Berlin says

The delivery of German-made Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine came “a bit too late”, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said, since time was running short ahead of an expected Russian offensive.

“With the decision to send the tanks we are doing what we can,” he told newspaper Die Zeit in comments published on Wednesday. “A bit too late, but it’s done… Everyone is expecting a terrible Russian offensive… Time is pressing.”

He added that Germany was not up for a debate on sending warplanes, which Ukraine says it needs in its war against Russian invaders. Germany does not own any of the U.S. F-16 warplanes that are most often mentioned in this context.

10:40am: Russia’s new foreign policy to focus on ending Western ‘monopoly’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow would focus on ending what he called a Western “monopoly” over global affairs as part of a new foreign policy.

“Our renewed foreign policy concept will focus on the need to end the monopoly of the West on shaping the framework of international life,” Lavrov said.

10:35am: Ukraine says it repelled Russian attacks in Luhansk region

Ukrainian forces have repelled some Russian attacks in the eastern region of Luhansk but the situation there remains difficult, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said on Wednesday.

Russia said earlier on Wednesday that its troops had broken through two fortified lines of Ukrainian defences on the eastern front. The Russian Defence Ministry said Ukrainian forces had retreated in the face of Russian attacks in the Luhansk region.

Zelensky’s office made no mention of any retreats but said: “The situation in the region remains difficult.”

10:06am: Russia says Ukrainian forces retreated in Luhansk

Russia said on Wednesday its troops had broken through two fortified lines of Ukrainian defences on the eastern front in the Luhansk region, although it provided no details and press agencies were not able to independently verify the battlefield report.

“During the offensive…the Ukrainian troops randomly retreated to a distance of up to 3 km from the previously occupied lines,” the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app. “Even the more fortified second line of defence of the enemy could not hold the breakthrough of the Russian military.”

The Kremlin has intensified attacks across a swathe of southern and eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, and a major new offensive has been widely anticipated. Russia’s main effort has been focused on the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk province adjacent to Luhansk.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces did not mention any significant setbacks in Luhansk in its morning update on Wednesday. It said Ukrainian units had repelled attacks in the areas of more than 20 settlements, including Bakhmut and Vuhledar – a town 150 km (90 miles) southwest of Bakhmut.

10:02am: EU to sanction Iran entities involved in Ukraine war

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday the EU will propose sanctions targeting for the first time Iranian economic operators involved in the Russian war in Ukraine.

“For the first time we are also proposing to sanction Iranian entities including those linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard,” Von der Leyen told European lawmakers in Strasbourg.

Von der Leyen said the 10th package of sanctions, worth a total of 11 billion euros ($11.79 billion), would target new trade bans and technology export controls, including drones, helicopters and missiles.

9:20am: UN appeals for $5.6 billion for aid to Ukraine in 2023

The UN  said Wednesday that it needed $5.6 billion to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine and to the millions who have fled the war-ravaged country.

“Almost a year on, the war continues to cause death, destruction and displacement daily, and on a staggering scale,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement.

Around 21.8 million Ukrainians were now in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN estimates.

The needs are so great that aid organisations cannot reach everyone, but the UN said the requested $5.6 billion would allow it to reach the 15.3 million people in most dire need this year. A full $1.7 billion of that amount was needed for assistance to the more than four million Ukrainian refugees hosted across eastern Europe, it said.

8:52am: Russia plans to retake settlements surrendered in Kharkiv

Russia plans to seize back all the settlements in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region that it surrendered to Kyiv last year, said an official who led the Russian-installed administration in the region.

8:08am: NATO countries should spend minimum 2% of GDP on defence: Germany

NATO countries should spend a minimum of 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, said German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on Wednesday as NATO defence ministers gathered in Brussels.

“Just spending two percent will not be enough. It must be the basis for everything that follows. The German government is debating that right now and will soon reach an agreement,” Pistorius told reporters.

Ukraine urged allies to speed up the pace of military aid as NATO defence ministers prepared to meet for a second day on Wednesday, while Russia said its troops had broken through two fortified lines of Ukrainian defences on the eastern front.

7:30am: Kyiv urges speedy military aid amid fears of spring offensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is trying to push Western allies to supply military aid faster, FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gulliver Cragg reports from Kyiv.

As fighting rages on the eastern front, Russia could be preparing a massive offensive in Bakhmut and other cities.

Bakhmut’s capture would provide a stepping stone for Russia to advance on two bigger Donetsk cities, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, and give Moscow momentum after months of battlefield setbacks following its invasion last February.

10:13pm: Russia denies plotting coup in Moldova

Russia on Tuesday slapped down as “completely unfounded” accusations from Moldova that Moscow was plotting to violently overthrow the country’s pro-European leadership with the help of saboteurs.

“Such claims are completely unfounded and unsubstantiated,” the Russian foreign ministry said after Moldova’s President Maia Sandu on Monday accused Russia of plotting her government’s overthrow.

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that Kyiv had “intercepted the plan for the destruction of Moldova by Russian intelligence”.

The Russian foreign ministry accused Kyiv of seeking to pit Moldova against Russia and accused Moldovan authorities of Russophobia.

Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine
Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)


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