Zelenskiy says some European leaders ready to supply aircraft By Reuters
© Reuters. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, meet to discuss how to help Ukraine defend itself
(Reuters) – Ukrainian officials in the east, scene of the fiercest fighting in the war with Russia, said an anticipated fresh offensive by Moscow is underway, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had heard from several European Union leaders that they were ready to provide Kyiv with aircraft.
* Zelenskiy gave no further details about the pledges and there was no immediate confirmation from any European countries. But his remarks came amid signs during a European tour that countries were closer to lifting one of the main taboos in military aid for Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine.
* “Europe will be with us until our victory. I’ve heard it from a number of European leaders… about the readiness to give us the necessary weapons and support, including the aircraft,” Zelenskiy told a news conference. He did not name the countries.
Just before, his chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on social media that the question of long-range weaponry and fighter jets for Ukraine had been resolved and details would follow. He later edited his post to say the issue “may be resolved”.
* French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine at some point, but that such aircraft were not a current military priority.
* While Zelenskiy said that “Free Europe cannot be imagined without free Ukraine”, and despite all the cheers and standing ovations he received during his Brussels visit, he heard from European Council chief Charles Michel that the road to EU membership would be long and hard.
* Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said NATO must act together on jets for Ukraine.
* Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be Ukrainians who suffer if Britain or other Western countries supply fighter jets to Kyiv, and that the line between indirect and direct Western involvement in the war is disappearing.
* Moscow does not believe Kyiv’s pledges that it will not use long-range Western arms to strike deep into Russian territory, Alexei Polishyuk, a department head at Russia’s foreign ministry, told state-owned RIA news agency.
NORD STREAM PIPELINES
* Russia’s foreign ministry said European countries were trying to hide the results of their investigations into last year’s explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, accusing them of covering up who was to blame.
* Kyiv says it expects Moscow to broaden its offensive with a big push as the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion nears.
* Russian forces launched a series of overnight strikes that have knocked out power supplies in parts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, local officials said. There was no word on casualties.
* Russia said it had destroyed four Ukrainian artillery depots in the eastern Donetsk region. Ukraine’s military said that over the past 24 hours Russian troops maintained offensives in the regions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Novopavlivka and Vuhledar.
* Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of mostly Russian-occupied eastern Luhansk province, described a major new Russian assault around Kreminna, along a northern stretch of the eastern front.
* Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.
* President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s economy had overcome the worst effects of sanctions and was expected to show modest growth this year, despite what he said were attempts to undermine certain industries.
* A quarter of Ukraine’s population is at risk of developing a severe mental health condition as the country grapples with the year-long Russian invasion, a senior health official said.