President Emmanuel Macron announced this Wednesday, January 4, to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that France would supply French-made “light battle tanks” to Ukraine, we were told from the Elysee Palace.
The President wanted to strengthen this “military assistance already provided to Kyiv” by agreeing to the supply of AMX-10 RC light battle tanks. “Western-designed tanks are being delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces for the first time,” she said after an hour-long telephone conversation between the two leaders. The number of tanks and delivery time were not specified. According to Paris, Emmanuel Macron, who confirmed to Volodymyr Zelensky the “unshakable support” of France “until the victory”, thus wanted to “demonstrate the durability and continuity” of French military assistance.
- The Kremlin is reviewing the balance of Makeevka in plus
The death toll from a Ukrainian strike on a Russian building in Makiivka (an occupied city in the Donetsk region) on New Year’s Eve finally reached at least 89 dead. The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed this figure with an extremely rare official video press release on the evening of December 3rd. “The number of our dead comrades has reached 89. The commission is investigating the circumstances of the “attack,” General Sergei Sevryukov said in the picture.
It was a HIMARS rocket launcher, a weapon supplied by the United States to Ukraine that allowed this bombing to take place far behind enemy lines, in one of the strongholds in the hands of pro-Russian separatists since 2014. According to a senior Russian military officer, the Attack took place at 00:01 on January 1st. It is already clear that the main reason […] is the burning and massive use of mobile phones by personnel within the reach of enemy weapons, contrary to the ban, ”explained General Sevryukov.
- Ukraine claims much higher losses
Ukraine has acknowledged that it caused this strike, naming the date December 31, before the New Year, and claims conflicting information. The Department of Strategic Communications of the Ukrainian army thus called in Telegram a balance sheet of 400 killed and 300 wounded in especially flowery language. According to the Rybar Telegram channel, one of the main pro-Russian sources about the war in Ukraine, 600 people lived in the building. According to former separatist commander Igor Strelkov, who is intimately familiar with the situation on the ground, the building housing the Russian soldiers was completely destroyed in the strike, as ammunition was stored there. “Practically all military equipment that was near the building without the slightest sign of camouflage was also destroyed,” he wrote on Telegram, estimating the number of victims at “several hundred”.
- Criticism grows in Russia
On Tuesday, rallies were held in Russia dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers. Their deaths caused shock in Russia, but also criticism of the military command, already embarrassed by a series of humiliating defeats on the Ukrainian front in recent months. “Despite several months of war, no definite conclusions have yet been drawn,” notes blogger Boris Rozhin, who is close to pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist circles, lambasting the “incompetence” of top officers in the Russian army.
Unusually in Russia, where authorities remain cautious about military casualties in Ukraine, about 200 people gathered with government approval in Samara (center), where some of the dead soldiers were from. According to local media, rallies were also held in other cities of the region, in particular, in Tolyatti and Syzran.
- Putin supervised the dispatch of a ship equipped with hypersonic missiles via videoconference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin took part via videoconference this Wednesday in a mission to launch a warship equipped with new hypersonic cruise missiles in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean. “I am confident that such a powerful weapon will effectively protect Russia from external threats and help protect national interests,” Vladimir Putin said at a ceremony he attended with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu from an undisclosed location, according to Russian officials.
“The crew of the ship will work out the use of hypersonic weapons and long-range cruise missiles,” Sergei Shoigu said. He pointed out that Zircon hypersonic missiles are “capable of penetrating any existing or future air defense system” and can also deliver “powerful and accurate strikes at sea and on land.”
- EU summit on February 3 in Kyiv?
The information was launched by Kyiv, but not confirmed by the European Union: on February 3, an EU summit is to be held in Kyiv, at which European financial and military support will be discussed, according to the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky. The date and topic of the discussion are well grounded, but the Ukrainian capital has not yet been officially designated by the Union as the venue for the meeting. “At this stage, I cannot confirm the whereabouts,” Barend Leiths, a spokesman for the President of the European Council, said on Tuesday. This summit was supposed to be held in a reduced format: it will be attended not by 27 heads of member states, but only by Vladimir Zelensky, Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The EU annually holds high-level meetings with Ukraine. His spokesman said in December that the Ukrainian president had received a “permanent invitation” from the EU to visit Brussels. This exchange should, in particular, allow discussing the launch of a new program of financial assistance to Ukraine in the amount of 18 billion euros, adopted in December by the European Parliament. According to AFP, the Ukrainian president insists that the first installment to his country be paid within a month.
- Putin ordered to show propaganda films
This may be an attempt to keep public opinion. On Tuesday, December 3, Vladimir Putin instructed his government to organize the screening of “documentary films” about the advance of Moscow’s troops in Ukraine by February in cinemas. Thus, the Ministry of Culture will be responsible for showing these films “in cinema networks on topics related to a special military operation, the fight against the spread of neo-Nazi and neo-fascist ideology,” reads a message posted on the Kremlin website. Moscow presents its offensive as a proxy conflict with the West over important arms shipments to Kyiv.
This decision comes after numerous setbacks suffered by the Russian military in recent months, including the loss of Kharkiv and Kherson, as well as a Ukrainian strike that killed at least 89 people on New Year’s Eve. Russia has already passed several laws to control the discourse around its “Special military operation” is the name of the conflict. In particular, the law severely punishes all those who spread what justice considers “lies” about the military.