Any “pause” in defending Ukraine against Russian invasion would only help Moscow rearm and allow it to “crush” that country, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Thursday, the second day of his trip to the Baltic countries Tallinn. “Give the Russian Federation two or three years and it will destroy us. We would not take this risk (…) There will be no break in favor of Russia,” the Ukrainian president said in a joint speech at a press conference with his Estonian counterpart Alar Karis.
“A pause on the battlefield, on the territory of Ukraine, is not a pause in war. That doesn't mean it's the end of the war. And it does not lead to a political dialogue with the Russian Federation or with anyone else,” he insisted. President Zelensky's trip comes at a time when Moscow and Kiev are accusing each other of targeting civilians in their rocket attacks as attacks escalate brutally. Estonia's capital Tallinn is the second stop on a tour of the Baltics, Ukraine's staunch ally, as part of efforts to shore up support for Kiev ahead of the second anniversary of the war. Mr. Zelensky also stressed the importance of international aid for his country and regretted Hungary's blocking of 50 billion euros in European aid. “We have a delay and blockage of an important financial package, without which it is impossible to survive. Let’s say it’s difficult,” he said during a joint press conference with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
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Barricades and trenches to reinforce Ukrainian defenses
According to a Portal report, Ukraine is building barricades and digging trenches as the country focuses on defense in the middle of winter and amid ammunition shortages. “Under the cover of darkness, trenches with rudimentary living quarters were dug. Artillery rumbled not far from there,” Portal reports.
The agency's journalists visited these new defense lines near Kupiansk on December 28 as Kiev accelerated the construction of fortifications “to help Ukraine withstand attacks while regenerating its forces, while Moscow “takes the initiative on the battlefield “takes over,” military experts quoted by Portal analyze. A strategy announced by Volodymyr Zelensky on November 28, as Ukraine's major counteroffensive this summer failed and failed to break through Russian lines.
Kiev still reiterates its ambition to retake all the territories occupied by Moscow, but the country is currently focused on replenishing its troop numbers and conscription reform, as well as how to address artillery shortages at the front, against a backdrop of decline of Western aid.
Moscow accuses Washington of putting pressure on Europe over the seizure of frozen Russian assets
Russia accuses the United States of pressuring European countries to support the seizure of frozen Russian assets to finance Ukraine's reconstruction, the Guardian reports, citing Portal. “They are trying to put pressure on the Europeans. This is a very paradoxical situation because the majority of our assets are in Europe and not in America,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA news agency.
The latter was responding to a Bloomberg report published on Wednesday that suggested US President Joe Biden's administration is supporting legislation that would allow it to seize some of Russia's frozen assets to help finance Ukraine's reconstruction. The United States and its allies have banned transactions with Russia's central bank and Treasury, blocking around $300 billion in Russian state assets in the West.
Dmitry Peskov previously said Moscow had a list of American, European and other assets that would be seized if Western countries continued their plans to seize Russian assets.
Ukraine announces it has increased its drone production
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that the country “has increased its production of drones, including FPV drones, and is working with all parties to accelerate co-production.” “Drones, artillery fire, use of frozen Russian assets, Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO,” the minister said, adding that he agreed with his Estonian counterpart Margus Tsahkna “on the next steps we will take together to address these efforts.”
Ukraine has expanded drone production, including FPV drones, and is working with all parties to further increase co-production immediately.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) January 11, 2024
“Ukraine appreciates Estonia's initiative to let the EU deliver one million artillery shells in 2023. We agreed to work tirelessly for the EU to accelerate the implementation of this commitment,” continues Dmytro Kuleba. “I also thanked Estonia for introducing the law on the use of frozen Russian assets. We call on the Estonian Parliament to adopt it and set a good example,” the minister concluded.
For Zelensky, a “pause” in the conflict would only help Russia
The Ukrainian president warned in Tallinn this morning, on the second day of his Baltic tour, that any “pause” in Ukraine's defense against Russian invasion would only help Moscow rearm and “crush” Ukraine. “Give the Russian Federation two or three years and it will destroy us. We would not take that risk (…) There will be no break in favor of Russia,” he said during a joint press conference with his Estonian counterpart Alar Karis. “A pause on the battlefield, on the territory of Ukraine, is not a pause in war. That doesn't mean it's the end of the war. And it does not lead to a political dialogue with the Russian Federation or with anyone else,” he insisted.
The visit by Volodymyr Zelensky, who will also visit Latvia today, comes after several waves of intense Russian bombing of Ukraine since late December. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, former Soviet republics now members of NATO and the European Union, are strongly supporting Kiev in the face of the Russian invasion.
Estonia's unwavering support for Ukraine, our people and our defense is evident today, during my visit and throughout the war.
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володиmir Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 11, 2024
In Sweden, the military authorities are calling on the population to prepare for an expansion of the conflict in the territory
Swedish military officials are calling on the population to prepare for an expansion of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine into Swedish territory. The oppositions denounce alarmist statements.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues his journey to the Baltic states: the head of state has arrived in Estonia
The Ukrainian President is traveling to Estonia this Thursday: he landed in Tallinn this morning after visiting Lithuania on Wednesday. “It is a great honor to welcome our good friends and allies [Volodymyr Zelensky] And [le ministre des affaires étrangères ukrainien, Dmytro Kuleba] in Tallinn,” commented Margus Tsahkna, Estonian Foreign Minister.
Almost 400 children had to be evacuated from the Russian city of Belgorod
In Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, Kiev's offensives have increased. Local authorities had to evacuate almost 400 children this Wednesday for a period of at least “21 days”. Other schoolchildren are preparing to leave the city: “1,300 schoolchildren are ready to leave the Belgorod region,” local authorities indicate. On December 29, 2023, a Ukrainian offensive in the city of 335,000 left 25 people dead.
Volodymyr Zelensky criticizes the West's hesitation as its aid to Ukraine declines
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Lithuania on Wednesday that the West's reluctance to send aid to Kiev was emboldening Vladimir Putin, who wants to “occupy” all of Ukraine. “We have to pay attention to Putin’s rhetoric. He won't stop. He wants to keep us fully occupied,” Volodymyr Zelensky said during a joint press conference in Vilnius with his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda during the first leg of his surprise tour in the Baltics. “Sometimes our partners’ hesitation regarding financial and military assistance to Ukraine only strengthens Russia’s courage and strength,” he added.
Today in Vilnius we reached a number of important agreements on joint defense production.
The Ministry of Strategic Industries of Ukraine and the Lithuanian Defense and Security Industry Association signed a memorandum of understanding to support joint projects on drones and… pic.twitter.com/KvULDXmaAc
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володиmir Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 10, 2024
At least 11 injured in Russian attack on hotel in Kharkiv
Two Russian rockets hit a hotel in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Wednesday evening, injuring eleven people, including Turkish journalists, the city's mayor, Igor Terekhov, said. One of the injured was “in a very serious condition,” Igor Terekhov said in Telegram. “Turkish journalists are also among the victims,” he added, without giving the number. The police, for their part, reported that a journalist from a foreign newspaper was injured.
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