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War in Ukraine, Day 313 | “Russian soldiers are a legitimate target”, says Washington



The White House says it has no complaints about the 89 Russian soldiers killed by what appears to be an American-made HIMARS missile fired by Ukrainian forces.

There is “no lament from the administration [américaine], said John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council attached to President Joe Biden. It’s the war. [Les Ukrainiens] were overrun and they are fighting back and defending themselves, he said in a press interview. Russian soldiers on their territory are a legitimate target of military action for Ukraine, period. »

Mr. Kirby recalled that the United States supplied Ukraine with weapons “for self-defense” and that it could provide more in the future.

The attack took place on a building occupied by the Russian army in the town of Makïvka at 12:01 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. Initially put at 63, the death toll has risen to 89, according to the Russian general Sergei Sevryukov.

“It’s pretty clear that the number of victims is in the hundreds,” said Dominique Arel, holder of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa. Several unofficial, and even Russian, sources claim that there were up to 600 people massed in the building at the time of the strikes. »

Dominique Arel also notes that this strike took place in “a territory controlled by Russia since [plus de] eight years “. “It is not the first time that Ukraine has managed to strike positions beyond the front line of February 24, 2022, but it is symbolic, says the expert. Like the fact that Ukraine hit Russian positions in Crimea lost [en 2014]. »

By telephone ? Truly ?

General Sevrioukov attributed the attack to the geolocation, by the Ukrainians, of cell phones used (even if it is prohibited) by the Russian soldiers. “It’s debatable,” continues Dominique Arel. The Ukrainians have other means of locating the enemy, either through informants on the ground or satellite images. According to him, blaming the banned cellphones is putting the blame on the soldiers, not on the Russian military command.

Recently mobilized

The victims are largely mobilized soldiers (called mobiks) in the fall of 2022, a decision by Moscow that was not unanimous among young Russians. Their training was very basic. Where are the experienced Russian soldiers? “They were decimated by the war,” says Mr. Arel. Russia still does not recognize how many soldiers died [au total]. The last report dates back, I believe, to eight months, and speaks of 5000 dead. But the number of dead and injured could approach 100,000 people. It is considerable. And the losses are also considerable on the Ukrainian side. »

France will provide light tanks

In Paris, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would supply Ukraine with light battle tanks of the AMX-10 RC model. The announcement was made following a telephone conversation between Mr Macron and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. The number of tanks and the delivery time remain to be negotiated. “This is the first time that tanks of Western design have been supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces,” it was said at the Élysée. The first AMX-10 RC were designed in the 1970s. These reconnaissance machines equipped with a cannon move on wheels (and not on tracks), which favors their mobility.


AMX-10 RC Light Battle Tank

Poland buys American tanks

The start of 2023 is also marked by military initiatives from Eastern European countries that are flexing their muscles against the Russian giant. This is the case of Poland, whose Minister of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, announced the purchase of a second batch of 116 American battle tanks of the M1A1 Abrams model at a cost of 1.4 billion US. “We are strengthening the iron fist of the Polish army in order to increase its power of deterrence against the aggressor”, declared the Polish minister. With the exception of the enclave of Kaliningrad, Poland has no common border with Russia. But the impact of Russian fire on western Ukraine resonated right up to its border. The purchase of these 116 tanks is in addition to that of 250 Abrams M1A2 acquired last year at a cost of 4.7 billion US.

Czech Republic increases military spending

Also on Wednesday, the government of the Czech Republic announced its intention to pass a bill increasing the military spending budget from 1.5 to 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Defense Minister Jana Černochová justified the increase by saying that the war in Ukraine showed “that we must be ready for current and future conflicts and that a rapid modernization of the army is absolutely necessary”. This increase to 2% of GDP also responds to Washington’s repeated desire that NATO member countries, including Canada, meet this objective.

With Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press

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