Ukraine: Zelensky asked the army to “find strength” to protect Bakhmut

During his daily address to the nation on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky put an end to rumors that Bakhmut might be abandoned by his troops. On the contrary, he ordered the Ukrainian army to strengthen the defense of the city of Bakhmut, the epicenter of hostilities in the east of the country, refuting suggestions of a retreat in the face of Russian troops who have been trying for months to encircle this symbol of the city.

Like Germany, the Czech Republic has asked Switzerland for old Leopard 2 tanks currently in storage in the Alpine country, Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd said on Monday.

Beijing warns US of risk of conflict

The Chinese government on Tuesday (March 7) blamed the United States for rising tensions between the world’s two biggest economic powers, warning of the risk of “conflict and confrontation” if Washington does not change its trajectory. “Western countries, led by the United States, are pursuing a policy of containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which creates unprecedented challenges for our country’s development,” Xi said. on Monday night.

Sino-US relations went through a particularly tense period last month after the US military shot down a Chinese balloon on suspicion of spying on US military installations. The case forced US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to postpone a visit to China that would help defuse sensitive issues such as China’s stance on the war in Ukraine, technology competition and the Taiwan issue.

The Czech Republic also wants the old Swiss Leopard 2

“We had a request from Germany, and since then we have also had a request from the Czech Republic,” Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd told state television SRF. “We did not discuss the purchase of tanks in Switzerland, but if Switzerland wanted to give us its Leopard-2s as a reward for our assistance to Ukraine, we would certainly not be against it,” he said. by AFP.

As soon as Switzerland’s defense needs are met, “there will be a certain number of tanks that we will not need and that we can provide if the parliament declares them decommissioned,” Viola Amherd explained in an interview. However, he did not provide any details about Prague’s request and, in particular, about the number of tanks requested by the Czech Republic. At the end of February, Germany asked the minister to “approve” the transfer by the German defense group Rheinmetall of Leopard 2 battle tanks to the Swiss army, which are now decommissioned and kept secret. Since Switzerland, in the name of its neutrality, prohibits the transfer of military equipment to a country at war, Berlin assured it that the tanks would not be re-exported to Ukraine, the ministry said. The same rule shall apply to the request of the Czech Republic.

The maintenance of Swiss tanks “in Germany or with NATO and EU partners will be guaranteed” to fill the gaps created by the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks transferred by these countries to Ukraine and improve the supply of spare parts, the Swiss Ministry of Defense specified at the time of the announcement of the German request.

Ukraine will send reinforcements to Bakhmut

“I ordered the General Staff to find the appropriate forces to help the guys in Bakhmut,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video message on Monday evening, confirming that “no part of Ukraine can be given away” to Russia. While rumors of a tactical withdrawal have been circulating for a week, the Ukrainian presidency has previously indicated that the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces “opposed to continue the defensive operation and strengthen (their) positions in Bakhmut” during a meeting with the Head of State.

A pre-war town of around 70,000, Bakhmut, due to the length of the battle and the heavy casualties suffered by both sides, became a symbol of the struggle between the Russians and Ukrainians for control of the Donbass industrial region. Russian forces have advanced north and south of the city in recent weeks, cutting off three of the four supply lines for Ukrainian forces and leaving only one leading further west to Chasov Yar as an escape route.

Kyiv demands investigation after alleged execution of POW

The head of Ukrainian diplomacy on Monday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct an investigation following the airing of a video in which he said a Ukrainian prisoner of war was executed by Russian soldiers. These footage was also mentioned by President Volodymyr Zelensky in his evening video speech, in which he promised to “find the killers.”

“A gruesome video of an unarmed Ukrainian prisoner of war being executed by Russian forces for simply saying ‘Glory to Ukraine. Another proof that this war is genocidal,” commented Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba on Twitter. “It is imperative that (ICC Prosecutor) Karim Khan launch an immediate investigation into this heinous war crime,” he added, “the perpetrators of these acts must be held accountable.” Agence France Presse was unable to independently verify where and when the footage was filmed, or whether it was what Ukrainian officials and social media users claim was a Ukrainian prisoner of war.

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