Lauren C. Moye, FISM News
Conditions on the front line remain “extremely acute” as Russian and Ukraine battles intensify this weekend, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday.
Zelenskyy said that southwest and northeast regions of Donetsk had been particularly hard-hit as Russia pushed to capture Vuhledar and the decimated city of Bakhmut. Bakhmut has been a frequent target in recent weeks.
“The occupiers are not just storming our positions, they are deliberately and methodically destroying the towns and villages around them, with artillery, air strikes, missiles,” he said in an evening video address. “The Russian army has no shortage of lethal means and can only be stopped by force.”
Kyiv reported an uptick in artillery bombardment in addition to intense land battles. Ukrainians believe the intensified fighting is retaliation from Moscow after Germany, the U.S., and other Western allies pledged to send tanks to the beleaguered nation.
Germany and the U.S. pledged to send dozens of tanks in a move that opened the door for other NATO allies to also supply the German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Altogether, 321 heavy tanks have been promised to Ukraine.
Vuhledar has been a target of Russian shelling this week. Yevhen Nazarenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s 68th brigade, told Reuters on Friday that two schools were among the seven buildings damaged by artillery in the preceding 24 hours.
“They constantly use artillery fire, aviation. There is no single quiet minute here,” Nazarenko said.
NEW INTELLIGENCE REPORTS HAVE BAD NEWS FOR RUSSIA
Two new intelligence reports suggest that Russia may be running out of ammunition. Meanwhile, a recent strike on Russian barracks most likely killed 300 soldiers instead of the 89 reported by Russian officials.
“We access that the majority [of soldiers] were likely killed or missing, rather than wounded,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense reported earlier today.
The Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged the attack on the Makiivka barracks near Donetsk City on Jan. 1 in a rare public acknowledgment of loss. The U.K. believes they were unable to avoid admitting some loss with the amount of criticism directed toward Russian commanders involved in the incident.
The U.K. said the incident highlights the “pervasive presence of disinformation in Russian public announcements.”
Meanwhile, an Estonian intelligence official has said Russia may not have the munitions to sustain massive artillery strikes against Ukraine for more than three more months.
Estonia’s Intelligence Chief, Mago Grosberg, cautioned that a timeline of three to four months was the “most optimistic” outlook, Esonian news media ERR said on Friday.
Grosberg said the “more pessimistic” outlook is that Russia could continue strikes for six to nine more months.
UN REFUGEE AGENCY WARNS RUSSIA VIOLATING CHILD PROTECTION PRINCIPLES
Russia has repeatedly been accused of war acts and instigating a humanitarian crisis for Ukrainian civilians. In a new report, Moscow has now been accused of violating “fundamental principles of child protection” by forcing Ukrainian children through a Russian adoption process.
Filippo Grandi, chief of the U.N. Refugee Agency, criticized the practice after Zelenskyy contacted the agency for help.
“Giving them (Russian) nationality or having them adopted goes against the fundamental principles of child protection in situations of war,” Grandi said. “This is something that is happening in Russia and must not happen.”
Grandi said they were unable to estimate how many children from occupied regions of Ukraine had been given Russian passports.