France to send ‘light tanks’ – DW – 01/04/2023

France is to send AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine following a call between the countries’ presidents.

“This is the first time that Western-made armored vehicles are being delivered in support of the Ukrainian army,” a French official said.

The official did not provide any further details about the amount of vehicles to be sent or when they would be delivered.

AMX-10 is an armored reconnaissance vehicle with a high level of mobility, with a carrying capacity of four crew.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked French President Emmanuel Macron in a post on Twitter “for the decision to transfer light tanks and Bastion APCs to Ukraine.”

France has supplied a number of Caesar howitzer artillery pieces to Ukraine and in October said it would provide air defense weaponry amid ongoing attacks targeting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, January 4:

Germany’s Baerbock urges more weapons for Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin had nothing on his mind but to destroy the neighboring country of Ukraine.

Speaking at a conference in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, Baerbock said that the European Union had tried everything to stop the war in Ukraine, but must still do more.

She said Putin’s stance was the reason why it was “important to keep up the delivery of weapons so Ukraine can defend itself and protect people’s lives.”

“That is why we must stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary,” she said.

While Germany’s Green Party, of which Baerbock is a member, has traditionally taken a pacifist stance on military action, the war in Ukraine has seen it adopt an increasingly hawkish tone.

Ukraine tops Germany’s political agenda for 2023

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In recent months, Germany delivered a modern Iris-T anti-aircraft system, intended for countering Russian missile and drone attacks. A further three systems are to be sent to Ukraine this year. But senior Ukrainian officials have criticized Germany for dragging its feet in providing military equipment and heavy weaponry in particular.

Germany: Scholz stands by Defense Minister Lambrecht

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), vowed to continue support for his SPD Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, despite her controversial New Year’s Eve address.

“The chancellor works well and in a spirit of trust with all his cabinet colleagues. And of course that also applies to the minister mentioned,” Scholz said, in reference to Lambrecht.

During a New Year’s Eve speech published on her social media account, Lambrecht reflected on “war raging in the middle of Europe,” a reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Her remarks occurred as fireworks and explosions were set off in the background.

Several members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), including leader Friedrich Merz, called for Lambrecht’s resignation.

Injured Russian official sends French howitzer shrapnel to Macron

Former Russian Deputy Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was injured last month in eastern Ukraine, said he sent shrapnel in an envelope to French President Emmanuel Macron. He claimed that this shrapnel from a French howitzer caused his wounds

Rogozin wrote to French Ambassador to Russia Pierre Levy regarding the envelope, with Rogozin posting the contents of the letter on Telegram.

“In this envelope along with my letter you will see a fragment of a shell from a 155-mm French artillery piece Caesar,” Rogozin said in the letter.

“It punctured my right shoulder and lodged in the fifth cervical vertebra only a millimeter away from killing me rendering me an invalid,” he added.

Rogozin was reportedly struck by shrapnel in Donetsk, with the former Russian official claiming the attack happened during a “work meeting” in a hotel restaurant.

Poor training hampering Russian efforts, report says

Russian military bloggers are blaming the mobilization of undertrained soldiers to artillery and tank crew roles for some of Moscow’s recent battlefield problems, according to researchers working for the US-based Institute of War (IOW).

The IOW notes that Russian forces have suffered significant losses of artillery systems and armored vehicles in operations in Ukraine since the start of partial mobilization in September.

“The Russian Armed Forces devoted too little time to training mobilized personnel for use in the branches they had previously served in before sending them to the front lines,” the IOW report said. “They certainly did not have time to train them in additional specialties.”

“Putting poorly-trained artillerymen into infantry units without training them for infantry combat operations will likely make them little more than cannon fodder.”

The IOW commented on a Ukrainian report that Russian forces in eastern Ukraine are currently firing artillery shells at roughly one-third the rate of the summer of 2022. It speculated that the reduced Russian artillery fire was likely a result of the depletion of ammunition stocks.

UK: Ammo storage likely raised Makiivka death toll

The UK Ministry of Defense says the death toll from a Ukrainian attack on a building that killed a large number of Russian soldiers in the occupied town of Makiivka was likely exacerbated by storage of ammunition there.

The building was completely destroyed and Russian officials confirmed that 89 Russian personnel were killed.

“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,” said the UK report.

“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,” the UK ministry added.

The building was hit when Ukrainian forces fired six rockets from a US-provided HIMARS multiple-launch system.

Vigil for Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine strike

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A former pro-Russian separatist commander had previously also said the fatalities and injuries were likely worse because ammunition was in storage at the former vocational school building. He also said Russia was likely downplaying the number of deaths at the site.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Tuesday its forces had killed some 500 mobilized Russian soldiers when it hit the building.

More on the Russia-Ukraine war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russia is planning a protracted campaign of drone attacks in a bid to demoralize Ukraine. Read this and more of our updates from Tuesday here.

The Kremlin is facing unprecedented criticism after one of the deadliest attacks on its troops since the Ukraine war began. Kyiv, and Russian bloggers, claim the death toll is in the hundreds.

The suspected mastermind behind the removal of a mural by graffiti artist Banksy in a Ukrainian town could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty, Ukraine’s interior ministry says.

kb,rc/dj (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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