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Friday 24 March 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# war effort
Western allies pledge precision rockets and missile systems to help Ukrainian war effort
Kyiv is also asking for fighter jets.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 4th 2023, 5:12 PM

WESTERN ALLIES PLEDGED precision rockets and missile systems to Ukraine, after President Volodymyr ZelenskYy called for sophisticated weapons to help retain control of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut.

The European Union agreed to introduce price caps on Russian petroleum products to try to further limit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war chest by targeting his key exports.

The announcements came shortly after ZelenskYy told a summit with EU leaders in Kyiv: “No one will surrender Bakhmut. We will fight as long as we can.

“If weapon (deliveries) are accelerated – namely long-range weapons -we will not only not withdraw from Bakhmut, we will begin to de-occupy Donbas,” he said of the eastern region of Ukraine.

The United States yesterday announced a new $2.2-billion package of arms and munitions, which the Pentagon said included a new rocket-propelled precision bomb that could nearly double Kyiv’s strike range against Russian forces.

The ground-launched small-diameter bombs (GLSDB), which can fly up to 150 kilometres (93 miles), could threaten key Russian supply lines, arms depots and air bases far behind the front lines.

They potentially give Kyiv’s forces the ability to strike anywhere in the Russian-occupied Donbas, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, as well as the northern part of occupied Crimea.

However, “the delivery of the GLSDB likely won’t be for several months due to contracting, production, and delivery timelines”, said Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Garron Garn, declining to say how many would be delivered.

France and Italy will deliver mobile surface-to-air missile systems, the French defence ministry said, in response to an urgent request from Kyiv to help protect “civilian populations and infrastructure from Russian air attacks”.

The systems, called MAMBA or SAMP, are a vehicle-mounted battery of medium-range missiles designed to offer protection from airborne threats such as missiles and manned or unmanned aircraft.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, who had requested the weapons, tweeted his gratitude, saying the systems would “help us save thousands of lives” from Russian attacks.

Kyiv is also asking for fighter jets.

It has already secured promises from the West for deliveries of modern battle tanks and, after months of hesitation, Germany authorised the delivery of Leopard 1 tanks.


Odesa loses power 

An accident at a electrical substation, already damaged by Russian strikes, has left half a million households without power in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, authorities said today.

“The situation is complex, the scale of the accident is significant,” Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on messaging app Telegram. He added that the substation had been “repeatedly” damaged as a result of Russian strikes.

Odesa region governor Maksym Marchenko described the accident as “serious,” adding that the energy minister and the head of state-run electricity grid operator Ukrenergo had been sent to the city.

“A number of generators will be delivered to the region of Odesa within the next 24 hours,” he said. “We expect the first generators to arrive tonight.”

For months Moscow has systematically targeted Ukraine’s energy grid, leaving millions in the dark and cold in the middle of winter.

The Black Sea port of Odesa was a favourite holiday destination for many Ukrainians and Russians before the invasion of Ukraine. 

Targeting Russian refined oil products

In Brussels, the EU, the Group of Seven industrialised countries and Australia agreed to cap the price of Russian refined oil products to accompany an embargo on ship deliveries of the products that comes into force tomorrow.

Already in December, the EU imposed an embargo on Russian crude oil coming into the bloc by sea and – with its G7 partners – imposed a $60-per-barrel cap on Russian crude exports to other parts of the world.

The new embargo and price caps starting tomorrow will target Russian refined oil products such as petrol, diesel and heating fuel arriving on ships.

The Kremlin warned that the measures would destabilise world markets.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen estimated this week that the crude oil price cap costs Moscow around 160 million euros ($170 million) daily.

‘No timeline’ on EU membership

At the Kyiv summit, the EU praised Ukraine’s “considerable efforts” to start the reforms needed for joining the bloc, but urged it to go further.

Corruption is a key European concern. Ukraine has widened efforts to tackle it, with raids this week on an oligarch with political connections and a former interior minister.

Zelensky, who is pressing for speedy EU accession, suggested that talks could begin this year.

“What exactly did we agree upon today?” Zelensky said in his regular evening address. “There is an understanding that it is possible to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union this year.”

But the path to joining the EU could take years.

Von der Leyen cautioned that the process was merit-based and there could be “no rigid timelines” on either negotiations or membership.

For now, the EU says it will do more to divert Russia’s frozen assets for use compensating Ukraine for damage inflicted since the invasion.

Brussels also plans to roll out a new package of sanctions on the first anniversary of the invasion, February 24.

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