Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged for more heavy weapons from the West following the latest Russian missile attack on Dnipro.
In his nightly video address late Monday, Zelenskyy said, “A new defense aid package has been announced — exactly what is needed: Main battle tanks, other armored vehicles and artillery.”
Zelenskyy also called for speedier delivery of battle tanks from Western allies.
The Ukrainian president said he expected decisions on further arms deliveries during the World Economic Forum in Davos, which kicked off on Monday, and also from the Ukraine Contact Group in Ramstein, slated to begin on Friday at the US air base in Germany.
In Davos, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska is also expected to address hundreds of political leaders, policymakers and chief executives.
Ukraine’s Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko is also scheduled to participate in the Forum on Tuesday, along with the leader of one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies, President Andrzej Duda of Poland, who recently vowed to send Kyiv Leopard battle tanks.
On Monday, Zelenskyy also asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), the world’s largest regional security Organization, to do more about Ukrainians he says have been taken forcibly to Russia.
“No international organization has found the strength to gain access to the places of detention of our prisoners in Russia yet. This must be corrected,” the president asserted.
Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, January 17:
Serbia’s Vucic urges Wagner to stop recruiting citizens
Serbian President Aleksander Vucic urged Moscow to stop efforts to recruit Serbs to fight as part of the Wagner paramilitary group in Ukraine.
“Why do you, from Wagner, call anyone from Serbia when you know that it is against our regulations?” Vucic said in an interview with Serbian broadcaster Happy TV. He also denied allegations that Wagner has a presence in Serbia.
Serbian citizens are prohibited by law from participating in conflicts in other countries. Several people have been sentenced under the law.
The Reuters news agency cited observers as saying that dozens of Serbs have signed up to fight in Ukraine since 2014.
Sympathies for Moscow are common among nationalists in Serbia and ethnic Serbian populations in neighboring countries. Earlier this month, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik awarded Putin a medal of honor.
EU Commission chief vows “steadfast support” for Kyiv
European Commission Ursula von der Leyen vowed that the EU would continue its “steadfast support to Ukraine” in comments made at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
“There will be no let-up in our steadfast support to Ukraine, from helping to restore power, heating and water, to preparing for the long-term effort of reconstruction,” she said.
“We are in it — for as long as it takes and stand with our Ukrainian friends.”
Russia to make ‘major changes’ to armed forces from 2023 to 2026
Russia said that it would make “major changes” to its armed forces from 2023 to 2026, promising to shake up its military structure after months of setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.
In addition to administrative reforms, the Russian Defense Ministry said it would strengthen the combat capabilities of its naval, aerospace and strategic missile forces.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “Only by strengthening the key structural components of the Armed Forces is it possible to guarantee the military security of the state and protect new entities and critical facilities of the Russian Federation.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the changes had been made necessary by the “proxy war” being conducted in Ukraine by the West, which has been sending increasingly heavy weaponry to Ukraine to help it resist Russian forces.
Over 9,000 civilians killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded — Yermak
Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s president’s chief of staff, told the World Economic Forum in Davos that more than 9,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s full scale invasion in February 2022.
“We have registered 80,000 crimes committed by Russian invaders and over 9,000 civilians have been killed, including 453 children,” he said.
“We will not forgive a single torture or life taken. Each criminal will be held accountable,” Yermak added, reiterating that Ukraine wants a special international tribunal to try Russian political leaders and reparations for the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) said on Monday that more than 7,000 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded.
Poland’s Duda calls for increased weapons supplies for Kyiv
Polish President Andrzej Duda asked for allies to speed up weapons supplies while speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
“We hope and we are trying to organize a bigger support for Ukraine. So we hope that there are a few partners, a few allies, who will give tanks to Ukraine,” he said.
“We hope the producer of these Leopard tanks Germany will also participate in this.”
Former Wagner member seeks asylum in Norway after fleeing Russia
A man claiming to be a former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who had fought in Ukraine has fled to Norway and is seeking asylum .
Twenty-six-year-old Andrei Medvedev had been arrested for illegally crossing the border to Norway near the Pasvikdalen valley last week.
Rights group Gulagu.net has posted several interviews with Medvedev, including one after fleeing into Norway, where he describes his escape.
“When I was on the ice (at the border), I heard dogs barking, I turned around, I saw people with torches, about 150 meters (500 feet) away, running in my direction,” he said.
“I heard two shots, the bullets whizzed by,” he added.
The rights group said it had helped Medvedev to leave Russia after he approached them, concerned for his life.
“I am afraid of dying in agony,” Medvedev told Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Gulagu.net rights group.
As per Gulagu.net, Medvedev is an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in jail before joining the Russian mercenary group on a four-month contract in July 2022.
Medvedev claims he had served as a unit commander for between five and ten soldiers.
He also claims to have witnessed executions of captured deserters from Wagner.
Medvedev’s lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, told news agency AFP that his client was no longer in police custody, but at a “safe place” while his case was being scrutinized.
Risnes added that Medvedev is suspected of “illegal entry” into Norway.
“If he gets asylum in Norway that accusation will be dropped automatically,” the lawyer said.
Defense Minister visits Russian troops involved in Ukraine: Russian defense ministry
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has visited Russian soldiers involved in Ukraine, the ministry has said.
A statement from the defense ministry posted on its Telegram messaging app on Tuesday said, “Sergei Shoigu thanked the servicemen who courageously perform tasks in the special military operation zone, and presented state awards to the servicemen for their dedication and heroism.”
British foreign minister seeks to bolster Ukraine support on US, Canada visit
During his North American tour, Britain’s Foreign Minister James Cleverly will seek to boost support for Ukraine.
Cleverly’s trip to the United States and Canada will begin on Tuesday ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Over the weekend, Britain promised to send 14 Challenger 2 tanks and other heavy weaponry to Kyiv.
On Monday, Cleverly had said that he had been sanctioned by the Russian government. The foreign minister added that if the move was the cost for supporting Ukraine, he was happy to be sanctioned.
Later in the day Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Cleverly was yet to answer for his support of Ukraine.
“Dear James, you don’t understand,” Zakharova said on her Telegram messaging app. “This is for the anti-Russian course and personal sanctions. But you still have to answer for the support of the Kyiv regime and neo-Nazism.”
Hopeful about Ukraine nuclear plant protection: UN nuclear watchdog
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, has said that he hoped to make progress on a safe zone agreement around the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine.
The UN nuclear watchdog chief added that it would be a tough negotiation.
“The situation around the plant continues to be very, very dangerous,” Grossi told the media during a visit to Ukraine.
“A nuclear accident, an accident with serious radiological consequences, is in nobody’s interest.”
Russia, Belarus flags banned at Australian Open
Tennis Australia has banned flags from Russia and Belarus from the site of the Australian Open after Ukraine’s ambassador called for action when they were seen among the spectators on the first day of the Grand Slam tournament.
“Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open,” Tennis Australia said in its statement on Tuesday.
“Our initial policy was that fans could bring them in but could not use them to cause disruption. Yesterday, we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside,” it said.
“The ban is effective immediately. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis.”
Meanwhile, Russia has deemed the ban an “unacceptable politicization of sports”.
dvv/ar (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)