Senior Western leaders gathered in Munich on Friday to discuss the year-long war trembling Europe. Ukrainian soldiers battling to fend off a Russian drive on the small eastern city of Bakhmut asked for more weapons from outside the region.
Dmytro, a serviceman standing in the snow next to Bakhmut, which Russia’s Wagner mercenary squad is targeting, said, “Give us more military gear, more weapons, and we will deal with the Russian occupation, we will annihilate them.”
Nearly one year into the invasion, President Vladimir Putin’s troops are intensifying assaults in the east.
Ukraine is planning a spring counter-offensive, for which it wants more, heavier and longer-range weapons from its Western allies.
Europe’s worst conflict since World War Two war has killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions from their homes, pummelled the global economy and made Putin a pariah in the West.
He says he is fighting for Russia’s security against an aggressively expanding NATO alliance, but Kyiv and its allies cast the invasion as a colonial-style land grab in Ukraine, formerly part of the Russian-dominated Soviet Union.
On the freezing battlefield, Ukrainian servicemen showed a visiting journalist the benefits of Australian-provided Bushmaster armored vehicles in an area where Russian soldiers have become bogged down in months of fighting to take Bakhmut.
The vehicles shield soldiers from bullets, enable evacuations of wounded and give cover for reconnaissance, Dmytro added. “There were cases when anti-tank mines were detonated, and the soldiers only received contusions. There were no serious injuries to the soldiers. It has worked very well.”
The governor of Luhansk, one of two provinces in what is known as the Donbas which Russia partially controls and wants to take completely, said ground and air attacks were increasing.
“Today it is rather difficult on all directions,” Serhiy Haidai told local TV. “There are constant attempts to break through our defense lines,” he said of fighting near the city of Kreminna.
In its latest update, Russia said a barrage of missile strikes on Thursday around Ukraine had achieved their goals in hitting facilities providing fuel and ammunition to President President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s army.
Kyiv reported 36 missiles, of which 16 were shot down, and said its largest oil refinery, Kremenchuk, was struck.