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Russian army announces new offensive in Zaporizhzhia – as it happened


Russian army launches offensive in Zaporizhzhia region

AFP reports the Russian army as saying that its troops have launched an offensive in the Zaporizhzhia region in south-east Ukraine.

Russian forces claimed to have taken “more advantageous lines and positions” during the assault.

The region has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks. Its governor, Oleksandr Starukh, said Russian forces had launched more than 160 shelling attacks overnight.

In a Telegram post he said 21 towns and cities had been targeted. One woman was killed and two other people were injured.

#BREAKING The Russian army said Saturday that its troops had launched an offensive in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, where fighting this week intensified after several months of an almost frozen front. pic.twitter.com/ycdmiSAgdj

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 21, 2023

#UPDATE On Saturday, the Russian army that its troops had launched an offensive in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region. In its daily report, Moscow’s forces said they led “offensive operations” in the region and claimed to have “taken more advantageous lines and positions”. pic.twitter.com/EpnLAVrLJ8

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 21, 2023

Key events

It’s coming up to 8pm in Kyiv, that’s it from me, Joe Middleton, and the Ukraine-Russia war blog on Saturday.

You can find a brief summary of all the top stories and updates from the ongoing conflict here.

The biggest story of the day was the backlash that Germany is facing from allies over its reluctance to supply Leopard 2 tanks to bolster Ukraine’s fighting capacity.

RT France, the French arm of the Russian state broadcaster, will shut down after its bank accounts were frozen as part of the most recent EU sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, AFP reports.

The channel’s director Xenia Fedoro said in a statement on Twitter:

After five years of harassment, the authorities in power have achieved their goal: the closure of RT France.

She said 123 employees were at risk of not being paid for January and could lose their jobs because of the account freeze — part of the latest European Union sanctions against Russia.

The French finance ministry told AFP that the assets of the chain had been frozen in compliance with the most recent EU sanctions, and not on Paris’s initiative.

A broadcast ban for Russian media was introduced by the European Union shortly after the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.

An appeal by RT France was thrown out by the European Court of Justice last July.

Les fonds de RT France sont gelés à la demande de la Direction Générale du Trésor, en raison du 9eme paquet de sanctions qui ne vise pas RT France. Notre chaîne ne peut plus poursuivre son activité. Voici notre communication. pic.twitter.com/aF3JUsqkLl

— Xenia Fedorova (@xfedorova) January 21, 2023

Germany is facing a backlash from allies over its reluctance to supply Leopard 2 tanks to bolster Ukraine’s fighting capacity in the nearly year-long war with Russia, AFP reports.

On Friday, 50 countries agreed to provide Kyiv with billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware, including armoured vehicles and munitions needed to push back Russian forces.

But the German defence minister, Boris Pistorius, told reporters at the US Ramstein airbase in Germany that despite heightened expectations, “we still cannot say when a decision will be taken, and what the decision will be, when it comes to the Leopard tank”.

Ukraine on Saturday denounced the “global indecision” of its allies in providing heavy-duty modern tanks, saying “today’s indecision is killing more of our people”.

Read more: Germany faces backlash over reluctance to send tanks to Ukraine

Summary

It’s just approaching 6pm in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, as the debate and unhappiness continues over the perceived reluctance of Germany to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

  • An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that caution and slow decision making over whether to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is costing lives. Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Saturday his frustration at “global indecision” over arms supply to Ukraine.

  • Baltic countries have told Germany to send the tanks “now” to Ukraine after perceived heel-dragging by the government in Berlin. The Latvian foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, tweeted they are “needed to stop Russian aggression”. The same tweet was put out by his counterparts in Estonia and Lithuania.

  • US president Joe Biden told reporters after an event on Friday night that “Ukraine is going to get all the help they need,” in response to a question about the tanks.

  • Germany has said it is doing a stocktake of its current tank numbers ahead of a possible decision, this comes in the days after a military summit at the Ramstein airbase in Germany aimed at continuing and encouraging support for the Ukrainian war effort.

  • A tearful Volodymyr Zelenskiy attended a memorial service on Saturday to commemorate seven senior Interior Ministry officials killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Interior minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and five others were killed when their helicopter plummeted amid fog into a nursery on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv. Another seven people were killed.

  • Agency France Presse reports the Russian army as saying that its troops have launched an offensive in the Zaporizhzhia region in south-east Ukraine. Russian forces claimed to have taken “more advantageous lines and positions” during the assault.

  • A 17-year-old boy has been injured by Russian shelling of Sumy oblast, Ukraine.

  • Russian attacks on Friday killed one person in Kharkiv, three people in Donetsk and one person in Zaporizhzhia. Four were also injured in Kherson, according to Zelenskiy’s office.

  • The war in Ukraine is in a state of deadlock, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. In its daily intelligence update, it said there is a possibility of Russian advances around the heavily contested city of Bakhmut in the Donbas region, but otherwise there is little movement.

  • Near Kremina in north-east Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s forces have made some small gains and defended against Russian counterattacks.

A tearful Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy attended a memorial service on Saturday to commemorate seven senior Interior Ministry officials killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Interior minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and five other high-ranking ministry officials were killed when their French-made Super Puma helicopter plummeted amid fog into a nursery on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv.

Another seven people were killed, including one child, in the crash. Officials are still investigating its cause.

The helicopter went down just days after at least 45 people were killed in a Russian missile attack that partially levelled a block of flats in the south-eastern city of Dnipro.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces are fending off an unrelenting Russian onslaught in the east, where Moscow has expended massive resources for incremental advances 11 months into its full-scale invasion.

“The indescribable sadness is covering the soul,” Zelenskiy wrote in a Telegram post on Saturday. “Ukraine is losing its best sons and daughters every day.”

Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena Zelenska, paid their respects to the victims’ relatives inside the hulking Ukrainian House cultural centre in central Kyiv. A crowd of mourners snaked outside toward Independence square.

A 17-year-old boy has been injured by Russian shelling of Sumy oblast, Ukraine.

Governor Dymtro Zhyvytskyi said 10 shells had exploded near homes in the village of Studenok.

One house, where the boy was, was destroyed. He has been taken to hospital, Zhyvytskyi said.

Russian army launches offensive in Zaporizhzhia region

AFP reports the Russian army as saying that its troops have launched an offensive in the Zaporizhzhia region in south-east Ukraine.

Russian forces claimed to have taken “more advantageous lines and positions” during the assault.

The region has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks. Its governor, Oleksandr Starukh, said Russian forces had launched more than 160 shelling attacks overnight.

In a Telegram post he said 21 towns and cities had been targeted. One woman was killed and two other people were injured.

#BREAKING The Russian army said Saturday that its troops had launched an offensive in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, where fighting this week intensified after several months of an almost frozen front. pic.twitter.com/ycdmiSAgdj

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 21, 2023

#UPDATE On Saturday, the Russian army that its troops had launched an offensive in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region. In its daily report, Moscow’s forces said they led “offensive operations” in the region and claimed to have “taken more advantageous lines and positions”. pic.twitter.com/EpnLAVrLJ8

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 21, 2023

Tobi Thomas

Tobi Thomas

Maria, 22, came to the UK from Ukraine in March last year shortly after the war broke out. She and her mother travelled using the Ukraine family scheme visa to stay with her aunt.

But when her aunt was evicted they became homeless, and Maria and her mother have been living in temporary accommodation in south London for five months.

“It’s horrible actually, the corridors are so old and so dirty,” Maria says. “The council haven’t been very helpful. The room is so small and it’s hard with two adults in one room.”

Maria is hoping to find private accommodation, but it is unaffordable when living on universal credit. “You have to pay a deposit, and have a lot of savings but we don’t have that right now,” she says.

Read more: Ukrainian families vent frustration at struggle to find own homes in UK

More details have come out about Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian forces on Friday, according to Ukraine’s Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

The deputy head of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said on Telegram that one person was killed in Kharkiv, three people in Donetsk, and one person in Zaporizhzhia. Four were also injured in Kherson.

‘Indecision is killing more of our people’ says Zelenskiy advisor over tank delays

An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that caution and slow decision making over whether to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is costing lives.

Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Saturday his frustration at “global indecision” over arms supply to Ukraine.

He said: “You’ll help Ukraine with the necessary weapons anyway and realize that there is no other option to end the war except the defeat of [Russia].

“But today’s indecision is killing more of our people. Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster.”

It comes as US president Joe Biden told reporters after an event on Friday night that “Ukraine is going to get all the help they need”, in response to a question about whether he supports Poland’s in sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Joe Biden: Ukraine is going to get all the help they need – video

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and first lady Olena Zelenska attend a memorial ceremony for the Ukrainian interior minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and officials who died in a helicopter crash near Kyiv on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and first lady Olena Zelenska attend a memorial ceremony for the Ukrainian interior minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and officials who died in a helicopter crash near Kyiv on Wednesday. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters





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