Ukraine update: African leaders to meet with Putin as Russia reinforces military hardware

At least 17 killed in Sudan in one of the deadliest strikes of the war
18 Haziran 2023
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18 Haziran 2023

Russian military hardware scramble continues

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Saturday called for more tanks to be produced to meet the Russian army’s needs in the face of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Mr Choïgou made the remarks on a visit to a military factory in the Omsk region in western Siberia, the Russian army said in a press release. Shoigu also stressed the need to improve the safety of armoured vehicles and their crews, according to the same source.

According to the UK Ministry of Defence’s most recent Ukraine update, Russia has had more luck reinforcing its crucial fleet of attack helicopters, with at least 20 more arriving at Berdyansk Airport behind the front line.

Moscow keeps insisting that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed, while Kyiv claims to have liberated a handful of towns and around a hundred square kilometres of territory, mainly on the southern front.

According to military analysts, Ukraine has not yet launched the bulk of its forces in its counter-offensive, and is still testing the front to identify weak points in Russia’s defences.

African mediators to meet with Putin

A delegation of African leaders who arrived in Kyiv yesterday to put forward a peace plan are now heading for St Petersburg, where they are expected to meet Vladimir Putin today.

The delegation led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa proposed peace mediation in the conflict on Friday, saying from the Ukrainian capital that there should be “de-escalation on both sides”.

He was rebuffed by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who denounced Moscow’s repeated “deception”.

“Allowing negotiations with Russia now, when the occupier is on our land, means freezing the war, freezing the pain and suffering”, Mr Zelensky said at a joint press conference with the African leaders.

NATO welcomed the proposal for mediation, but warned that only a “just” solution that recognised Russia’s invasion as an act of aggression would work.

Putin calls Zelensky a “disgrace to the Jewish people”

Vladimir Putin yesterday described Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, as a “disgrace to the Jewish people”, once again accusing Ukraine of being controlled by neo-Nazis – an often-repeated theme of Kremlin propaganda.

“I’ve had a lot of Jewish friends since childhood,” Putin said at an economic forum in St Petersburg that was broadcast live on Russian TV. “And they say that Zelensky is not Jewish, but a disgrace to the Jewish people. This is not a joke.”

Putin once again accused the Ukrainian president of “covering up for those neo-Nazi bastards” and treating Nazi collaborators during the Second World War as heroes.

“Why aren’t they listening to us?” he asked. “We are obliged to fight this. We have every right to consider that the objective of denazification of Ukraine is one of the key objectives.”