Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy airs frustration about not obtaining enough weaponry as Western allies conferred on how best to support Ukraine as fighting continues on day 330.

Germany is under pressure from Western allies to allow German-made battle tanks to be used in Ukraine to strengthen its defence against the Russian offensive.
Germany is under pressure from Western allies to allow German-made battle tanks to be used in Ukraine to strengthen its defence against the Russian offensive. (AFP)

Thursday, January 19, 2022

A group of 11 countries has pledged a raft of new military aid for Ukraine, they said in a statement ahead of a crunch meeting on arms for Kiev scheduled to take place in Germany on Friday.

The aid from countries including Estonia, Latvia and Poland will include tens of stinger air defence systems, s-60 anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and training, according to a statement.

Germany faces mounting pressure to supply battle tanks to Kiev and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy aired frustration about not obtaining enough weaponry.

Following are the latest updates:

1437 GMT - Denmark to send Caesar howitzer artillery systems to Ukraine

Denmark will donate 19 French-made Caesar howitzer artillery systems to Ukraine, the Danish Defence Ministry has said.

"We have been in continuous contact with the Ukrainians about the Caesar artillery in particular and I am happy that we have now received broad support from the Danish parliament to donate it to Ukraine's freedom struggle," Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said in a statement.

1435 GMT - Russia's Gazprom reduces gas transit to Europe via Ukraine

Russian energy giant Gazprom will ship 25.1 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas to Europe via Ukraine, further reducing its supplies to the European Union.

Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted to a post-Soviet low in 2022 as deliveries to its largest customer plunged because of the conflict in Ukraine and suspected sabotage that damaged a major pipeline.

Gazprom had already reduced flows to 32.6 mcm on Tuesday, down almost 8 percent from the previous several days.

1428 GMT - Moldova's Sandu asks allies for air defences, says Russia trying to destabilise country

Moldova has requested allies strengthen its air defence capabilities as war rages in neighbouring Ukraine, although what the country calls Russian efforts to destabilise it have so far failed, President Maia Sandu said.

"We have requested air surveillance and defence systems," Sandu told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We understand that Ukraine is a priority" but we also hope to receive some, she said.

To Ukraine's west, fellow ex-Soviet republic Moldova has a tiny defence budget and has long had tense relations with Russia.

1423 GMT -  UK to send 600 Brimstone missiles to Ukraine

Britain plans to send 600 Brimstone missiles to Ukraine to support the country in its fight against Russia, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.

Wallace, who was meeting with other defence ministers at the Tapa army base in Estonia, outlined a previously-announced package of military support for Ukraine.

"I can say we're also going to send another 600 Brimstone missiles into theatre which will be incredibly important in helping Ukraine dominate the battlefield," he said, including sending Challenger tanks.

1347 GMT - Estonia to send $122M arms package to Ukraine

Estonia will send military equipment to Ukraine worth some $122 million in its latest package of support for the war against Russia, the Baltic country's defence minister has said.

"What Ukrainians need most is heavy weaponry," Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur told a joint news conference with his British counterpart and others.

1233 GMT - EU parliament urges creation of special tribunal for Ukraine

The European Parliament has called for a special tribunal to be set up that could try Russian President Vladimir Putin for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

The non-binding resolution — backed by a large majority of lawmakers — said there was an "urgent need" for the EU and its member states to push for the establishment of the court.

It said the tribunal should have jurisdiction to investigate not only Putin and Russia's leadership, but also Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for aiding Moscow.

1151 GMT - Ten adults and six children remain in hospital

Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of Kiev, said 16 people remain in hospitals, six of whom are children from yesterday’s helicopter crash.

"Others receive treatment on an outpatient basis. Financial assistance will be allocated to the families of the victims.

The place where the helicopter fell has been cleared of debris. Windows and doors will be repaired in the damaged building in the near future.

Children from the damaged kindergarten are organized to study in nearby preschools, taking into account the wishes of the parents".

1147 GMT - Kiev urges allies to boost military aid

Ukraine's foreign and defence ministers urged Western allies to "considerably" boost arms deliveries to their war-torn country and send modern Leopard tanks.

A joint statement from Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov came on the eve of a major donor meeting to be hosted by the United States at the Ramstein military base in Germany.

"We appeal to all partner states that have already provided military assistance or are planning to provide it with a call to considerably reinforce their practical contribution to strengthening Ukraine's s ability to defend itself," Kuleba and Reznikov said in the statement.

1000 GMT - US thanks Germany before tanks talks

Germany remains one of the most important allies for Washington, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at his first meeting with his new German counterpart before crunch talks on sending German-made tanks to Ukraine.

"Germany remains one of our most important allies ... I'd like to thank the German government for all that it has done to strengthen Ukraine's self-defence," Austin said at the start of his meeting with new German minister Boris Pistorius. He did not specifically mention the issue of tanks.

0950 GMT - Kremlin: The sooner Ukraine accepts our demands, sooner conflict can end

The Kremlin said that the sooner Ukraine accepted Russia's demands, the sooner the conflict there could end.

Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia would achieve its goals "one way or another" and Kiev would be better off accepting Russia's position and settling at the negotiating table.

Moscow has said it is fighting to "de-Nazify" Ukraine and protect Russian speakers in the country's east.

0940 GMT - Medvedev remarks on nuclear war accord with nuclear doctrine: Kremlin

The Kremlin said that remarks by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the defeat of Russia in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war were in full accordance with Moscow's nuclear doctrine. 

0945 GMT - New German Defence Minister says he will strengthen army, help Ukraine

Germany's new defence minister said it was his task to strengthen the armed forces so that they could do their job at a time of conflict in Europe with Russia waging war against Ukraine.

Boris Pistorius was officially made minister at a time when Germany is under pressure from Western allies to allow German-made battle tanks to be used in Ukraine to strengthen its defence against the Russian offensive.

Pistorius, a Social Democrat, is due to meet his US counterpart Lloyd Austin later on Thursday, and on Friday defence leaders from about 50 countries and NATO gather at Germany's Ramstein Air Base to discuss how to supply Kiev with more weapons.

0932 GMT - Russia bars entry to more New Zealanders

Russia's foreign ministry has announced it would ban 31 New Zealand citizens from entering the country for promoting an "anti-Russian agenda" and supporting Ukraine, the second set of entry bans in six months.

The list includes journalists from several publications, former Defence Minister Ron Stanley Mark and an international relations professor from the University of Otago. They are all indefinitely barred from entering Russia.

The foreign ministry warned it would add further names to its ban list as long as Wellington continued to pursue what it called an anti-Russian course.

0830 GMT - Russia's defeat may lead to nuclear war - Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of the Russian Security Council, warned of a nuclear war in the event of Russia's defeat in its war on Ukraine.

Commenting on the forthcoming meeting of Western and Ukrainian officials at the Rammstein military base in Germany, Medvedev, a former Russian president, said he expects they will discuss new deliveries of heavy weapons and strike systems.

"And this is right after the forum in Davos, where underdeveloped political party-goers repeated like a mantra: "To achieve peace, Russia must lose," he wrote on Telegram. 

0745 GMT - US, German defence ministers meet

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will press Germany's new Defence Minister Boris Pistorius to allow for the transfer of German-made tanks to Ukraine, US officials said, as the two countries remained at loggerheads over the issue.

Germany will allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine to help its defence against Russia if the United States agrees to send its own tanks, a German government source told Reuters.

But US officials publicly and privately insist that Washington has no plans to send US-made tanks to Ukraine for now, arguing that they would too difficult for Kiev to maintain and would require a huge logistical effort to simply run.

0730 GMT - Helicopter crash under investigation: Zelenskyy

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that there were "several" theories being investigated to explain a helicopter crash that killed the country's interior minister and 13 others the previous day near Kiev.

"The investigation is ongoing. There are several theories and I'm not authorised to talk about any of them until the investigation is finished," Zelenskyy told an audience in Davos when asked if the crash was an accident. 

READ MORE: Ukraine’s helicopter crash: what we know so far

0700 GMT - Zelenskyy criticises Germany

Zelenskyy criticised hesitation by Germany about supplying its modern Leopard tanks, with reports saying Berlin will only provide them if the US offers its Abrams tanks as well.

"There are times where we shouldn't hesitate or shouldn't compare. When someone says 'I will give tanks if someone else will also share tanks'," Zelenskyy told an audience in Davos by videolink. 

"I don't think this is the right strategy to go with."

0615 GMT - Ukraine will reclaim Crimea: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy said that Ukraine aimed to reclaim Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, as he called on his Western partners to provide him with more weaponry.

"Our objective is to liberate all of our territories," he told an audience in Davos, speaking in Ukrainian. "Crimea is our land, our territory, our sea, and our mountains. Give us your weapons and we will bring our land back."

0600 GMT - EU chief Charles Michel on his way to Kiev

EU chief Charles Michel said he was on his way to Kiev to discuss with President Zelenskyy what "concrete measures" Europe can take to support Ukraine.

"I am on my way to Kiev," Michel said in a video he posted on his Twitter account, saying he would meet Zelenskyy as well as the prime minister and members of parliament. He also said he would "discuss with president Zelenskyy and his team what are the concrete measures we can develop in order to make sure they are stronger and more powerful". 

0350 GMT - US to provide $125 million to Ukraine

The United States will provide $125million to Ukraine to support its energy and electric grids following targeted attacks on those utilities by Russian forces, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. 

2300 GMT - Huge US weapons package for Ukraine

The US is finalising a massive package of military aid for Ukraine that US officials say is likely to total as much as $2.6 billion.

It's expected to include for the first time nearly 100 Stryker combat vehicles and at least 50 Bradley armoured vehicles to allow Ukrainian forces to move more quickly and securely on the front lines in the war with Russia - but not the tanks that Ukraine has sought.

The officials said the numbers could change as the Biden administration goes through final deliberations on the package.

An announcement is expected this week when defence leaders from the US, Europe and other regions gather in Germany to discuss military support for Ukraine.

READ MORE: 'The pain is unspeakable': World reacts to deadly Ukraine helicopter crash

2000 GMT - Pentagon: US not ready to send Abram tanks

The US is not currently prepared to provide advanced Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a senior Pentagon official said, citing difficulties in maintenance and training.

Ukraine has repeatedly pushed for modern Western tanks to help battle Russia, and Germany has reportedly linked its decision on whether to do so to Washington's willingness to provide Abrams.

"I just don't think we're there yet," US Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Colin Kahl told journalists when asked about providing Abrams to Ukraine, though he did not completely close the door on a shift in the future.

"The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It's expensive, it's hard to train on, it has a jet engine - I think it's about three gallons to the mile with jet fuel. It is not the easiest system to maintain," Kahl said.

For live updates from Wednesday (January 18), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies