US considering sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine; Russia likely to announce second partial mobilisation, says Ukraine
US President Joe Biden said that the US was considering sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine. The armoured vehicle with a powerful gun has been used as a staple by the US army to carry troops around battlefields since the mid-1980s.
The US is also looking at ways to target Iranian drone production through sanctions and export controls, the White House said. Washington previously imposed sanctions on companies and people it accused of producing or transferring Iranian drones that Russia has used against Ukraine.
Russia’s defence ministry on Wednesday blamed the illegal use of mobile phones by its soldiers for a deadly Ukrainian missile strike that it said killed 89 servicemen, raising the reported death toll significantly. Moscow previously said 63 Russian soldiers were killed in the weekend strike on Makiivka. Although an official investigation has been launched, the main reason for the attack was clearly the illegal mass use of mobile phones by servicemen, the ministry said. “This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers’ location for a missile strike,” it said in a statement issued just after 1:00am in Moscow on Wednesday.
The UK Ministry of Defence said that it was a “realistic possibility” that ammunition was being stored near troop accommodation in Makiivka: “Given the extent of the damage, there is a realistic possibility that ammunition was being stored near to troop accommodation, which detonated during the strike creating secondary explosions,” the UK MoD said in its daily intelligence briefing. “The Russian military has a record of unsafe ammunition storage from well before the current war, but this incident highlights how unprofessional practices contribute to Russia’s high casualty rate.”
Heavy fighting around the largely ruined, Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut is likely to persist for the foreseeable future, with the outcome uncertain as Russians have made incremental progress, according to a senior US administration official.
The Ukrainian deputy defence minister said significant Russian losses meant Moscow would probably have to announce a second partial mobilisation in the first quarter of the year.
Further strikes deep in Russian territory should be expected, the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, has told the US TV network ABC. He added that the attacks would come “deeper and deeper” inside Russia, without specifically saying whether Ukraine would be behind them.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron said France would send light AMX-10 RC armoured combat vehicles, an Elysee official said after a phone call between Macron and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Ukraine’s military general staff said Russia had launched seven missile strikes, 18 airstrikes and more than 85 attacks from multiple-launch rocket systems in the past 24 hours on civilian infrastructure in three cities – Kramatorsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. “There are casualties among the civilian population,” it said. The reports have not been independently verified.
Ukraine’s efforts to increase exports under the Black Sea grain deal with Russia are focused on securing faster inspections of ships rather than including more ports in the initiative, a senior Ukrainian official said on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s navy has claimed Russia has three combat-ready ships in action in the Black Sea and that it continues to “violate the international convention for the protection of human life at sea 1974 (Solas), disabling auto identification systems on civilian vessels in the Azov Sea”, it said in a post on Facebook.
Vladimir Putin took part in a ceremony by video link while the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov went into combat service equipped with the Zircon hypersonic missile systems. The Russian president said: “I am sure that such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats and will help ensure the national interests of our country”. The defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the Gorshkov would sail to the Atlantic and Indian oceans and to the Mediterranean Sea.