Ukraine update: Zelenskyy urges West to send in heavy tanks amid brutal ground combat in eastern front

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News

 

 

Heavy ground combat continued in eastern Ukraine Thursday as Kyiv troops struggled to push back occupying forces. Ukraine’s military said Russia has been unrelenting in pressing its offensive, particularly in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continued his unceasing campaign for more foreign money and weapons to shore up Ukraine’s firepower. French President Emmanuel Macron said that his government would send in AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles. However, Zelenskyy responded that, while he appreciated the gesture, “There is no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with Western tanks.”

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the U.S. is considering sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Kyiv, replying “Yes” when asked by a reporter if the option was on the table. While Bradleys are equipped with powerful guns, Kyiv has repeatedly requested more modern U.S.-made Abrams tanks, which feature heavier armor and a 120 mm gun, versus the Bradleys’ 25 mm.

The Department of Defense is expected to announce another package of weapons to aid in Ukraine’s defense, on top of over $21 billion in security assistance that has already been provided to Kyiv.

UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL: FRONTLINE PROGRESS ‘NOT HAPPENING FAST’

Meanwhile, the regional governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, said Ukrainian troops have been liberating occupied territory “step-by-step” but that progress was “not happening fast.” He added that fighting will likely escalate along the eastern front as the ground freezes.

“Then the opportunity to use heavy equipment will open up,” he said.

Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk comprise the Donbas region in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, portions of which were seized by Kremlin-backed proxies in 2014. 

Ukraine’s military said it estimated that roughly 800 Russian troops were killed in the past day, with the majority of casualties occurring in Donetsk, but said Russian air, rocket, and missile attacks on Bakhmut, Kostiantynivka, and Kurakhove, resulted in an unspecified number of civilian casualties.

Elsewhere, Russia’s TASS news agency reported that Yegeny Balitsky, the Russian-installed governor of the Zaporizhzhia region in the southeast, said Ukrainian artillery killed five people and wounded 15.

US PUSHES BACK ON RUSSIA’S CLAIM IT DESTROYED HIMARS

The White House on Wednesday said there was no confirmation of reports from Moscow that the Russian military had destroyed a U.S.-supplied HIMARS system in Ukraine.

Moscow’s Defense Ministry claimed in its Tuesday progress report that it destroyed “two launching ramps for U.S.-manufactured HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS),” The Hill reported

In a Wednesday call with reporters, U.S. national security spokesperson John Kirby said: “I’ve seen Russian claims that they hit a HIMAR system, and in response to this, we have no information to confirm that report.”

HIMARS were reportedly used in Sunday’s attack on a Russian military base that the Kremlin said killed nearly 90 of its troops, though Ukraine’s military, without claiming direct responsibility for the attack, said that the number was closer to 400.

NATO CHIEF WARNS AGAINST UNDERESTIMATING RUSSIA

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that it would be unwise to underestimate Russia or President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in Ukraine, despite a multitude of military setbacks the Kremlin has endured in recent months.

“They have shown a great willingness to tolerate losses and suffering,” Stoltenberg told a business conference in Norway.

“We have no indication that President Putin has changed his plans and goals in Ukraine. So it’s dangerous to underestimate Russia,” he added.

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