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HomeAsiaWar in Ukraine: The Munich conference and the "stacked bodies" in Bakhmut

War in Ukraine: The Munich conference and the “stacked bodies” in Bakhmut

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War in Ukraine: The Munich conference and the "stacked bodies" in Bakhmut

Senior political and military leaders from around the world are meeting in Germany today, Friday, with Ukrainian officials expected to address the security conference as they try to fend off Russian missile attacks on cities and mass attacks on the front lines.

By bringing in tens of thousands of reservists, Russia has stepped up ground offensives in southern and eastern Ukraine , and as the invasion’s first anniversary approaches on February 24, a new, major Russian offensive appears to be taking shape.

Russia fired missiles across Ukraine on Thursday and hit the country’s largest oil refinery. Of at least 36 missiles fired by Russia, 16 were shot down, the Air Force said, a lower rate than usual.

Ukraine said the barrage included missiles, which its air defenses cannot shoot down, which only reaffirms its calls for more Western military support.

The Munich conference

War in Ukraine: The Munich conference and the "stacked bodies" in Bakhmut-1
Snapshot from last year’s Munich Security Conference. (©Associated Press)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and US Vice President Kamala Harris are among several top officials attending the Munich Security Conference.

Last year’s rally took place just days before the war began. As Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border, Western leaders in Munich urged President Vladimir Putin not to invade and warned of dire consequences if he did.

This year, leaders will face the consequences of Putin’s decision to ignore their pleas and launch Europe’s most destructive war since World War II, which has killed countless thousands and uprooted millions.

In Munich, the war will reignite long-standing debates over issues such as whether Europe should develop its own military capability and whether it should rely on the United States for its security amid concerns that the Ukraine crisis could widen.

Russian leaders will be conspicuous by their absence at the conference, which runs until Sunday, but senior Ukrainian officials are expected to speak at it.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a nightly speech that his priority was to contain Russian attacks and prepare for a possible Ukrainian counterattack.

“Maintaining the situation at the front and preparing for any hostile escalation steps – this is the priority for the near future,” he said.

Officials of the Nato alliance this week discussed the need for extra military hardware for Kiev, and Britain and Poland agreed after their leaders met on Thursday that support should be stepped up.

U.S. officials have advised Ukraine to hold off on any counterattack until the last of the U.S. arms supply is in place and training is provided.

The general staff of the Ukrainian army, in a report on Thursday afternoon, noted that Russia had also shelled more than a dozen settlements in the south and east.

There was no word from Russia on the attacks or missile strikes, and Reuters could not independently confirm reports from the battlefield.

Russia threatens retaliation

War in Ukraine: The Munich Conference and the "stacked bodies" in Bakhmut-2
Russian missiles from Bolgorod, Russia as seen at dawn from Kharkiv. (©Associated Press)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Thursday that Moscow will take retaliatory measures if the European Union decides to seize assets of natural and legal entities it has frozen, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Grushko insisted that Moscow means to take “all necessary measures to protect its legitimate interests” if the E.U. decide something like that.

He called the potential seizures “absolutely illegal” and added that several countries doubted whether and to what extent the move would be compatible with international rules.

In Brussels it was decided the day before Wednesday the “creation of an ad hoc working group for the use of “frozen” and inactive Russian resources in order to support the reconstruction of Ukraine”, announced the Swedish presidency of the European Council via Twitter.

On the same day, however, the Swiss Federal Council announced that a “working group” led by the Ministry of Justice “concluded that the seizure of assets of Russian individuals would be contrary to the federal constitution and the legal order.”

Moldova, Belarus and Israel

War in Ukraine: The Munich conference and the "stacked bodies" in Bakhmut-3
Snapshot from yesterday’s meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Kyiv. (©Reuters)

Meanwhile, police in Moldova, where parliament on Thursday approved a new pro-Western government, said they had again found missile debris near the border with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Belarus, which allowed Russia to use its territory to send troops into Ukraine at the start of the war, said it would only fight at its ally’s side if attacked.

Germany, on the other hand, said 1.1 million people would arrive from Ukraine in 2022, surpassing the influx of migrants in 2015-16.

In addition, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to Ukraine, the first such visit by an Israeli official during the war. Israel is coordinating with Russia on strikes on suspected Iranian targets in Syria and has not promised weapons to Kiev.

On Twitter, Cohen said Israel would increase aid to Ukraine and support its reconstruction.

“Stacked Bodies”

War in Ukraine: The Munich conference and the "stacked bodies" in Bakhmut-4
Bahamut. Ash, snow, destruction. (©Associated Press)

Russia’s focus is on the small eastern city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, one of two regions that make up Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland now partially held by Russia.

In battles led by the Wagner mercenary group swelled by prison recruits, Russia has been pounding and encircling Bahamut for months. Most of its pre-war population of around 70,000 civilians has evacuated the area, leaving behind stubborn Ukrainian soldiers.

“They are sending a lot of troops. I don’t think this is sustainable for them,” Ukrainian 80th Air Assault Brigade press officer Taras Dzyoba said of the Russians.

“There are places where their bodies are stacked. There is a trench from which they simply do not evacuate the wounded or the dead.”

Dzioba spoke to Reuters while standing near a howitzer array outside a defense bunker near the front line in Bahmoud.

Taking it would give Russia a stepping stone to advance on Donetsk’s two larger cities further west, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. But Ukraine and allies say capturing Bakhmut would be a landslide victory given the months it took and the losses Russia suffered.

In an interview with a pro-war military blogger, Team Leader Wagner predicted that it would take Russian forces weeks, if not months, to take Bakhmut, depending on how many men Ukraine would throw into the battle and how well his men would be supplied.

Source: Kathimerini

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