Allies vow more support for Kyiv
European powers have vowed to intensify support for Ukraine as it battles to repel Russia, with France’s president underlining at a major security conference that the time was not ripe for talks with Moscow.
Days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia sending its forces into Ukraine, Moscow chalked up a small gain in its grinding offensive.
The head of Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed the capture of a village near Bakhmut – the eastern city that is the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle of the war so far. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged Russia had made some “incremental gains in and around Bakhmut”. But the city was “of no real strategic value”, he said.
“We estimate now that Wagner has suffered more than 30,000 casualties, including approximately 9000 killed in action” he added, with half of the dead killed since mid-December.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky opened the Munich Security Conference with an impassioned plea for allies to speed up support, arguing lives were at stake. “We need speed – speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery … speed of decisions to limit Russian potential,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron joined in the call for allies to “intensify our support” for Ukraine to aid its forces in launching a counter-offensive.
“It is not the time for dialogue because we have a Russia which has chosen war, which has chosen to intensify the war, and which has chosen to go as far as committing war crimes and to attacking civilian infrastructure,” he said.
France was ready for a “prolonged conflict”, he added.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted German support was “designed to last”, and urged allies to speed up deliveries of tanks promised to Ukraine.