Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in remarks on Tuesday night that his administration was planning to introduce changes as part of attempts to proceed with unusually rapid and complex negotiations to secure European Union membership, Reuters reports. Ukraine is holding “summit” talks with EU officials on Friday.
“What is very important is that we are preparing new reforms in Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said. “These are reforms which in many aspects will change the social, legal and political realities by making them more humane, more transparent and more effective.”
Zelenskiy said he was not finished shuffling the ranks of senior officials and that anyone failing to perform according to strict standards faced dismissal.
The media has been reporting in Ukraine that two high profile anti-corruption raids have been carried out on Wednesday morning, targeting oligarch Igor Kolomoisky and former interior minister Arsen Avakov.
El País is reporting that Spain will initially send between four and six Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The FT reported on Wednesday that Italy is to join forces with France in supplying air defences to Ukraine.
The US is readying more than $2bn worth of military aid for Ukraine that is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time as well as other munitions and weapons, two US officials briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that longer-range rockets reportedly included in an upcoming package of military aid from the US to Ukraine would escalate the conflict but not change its course. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters that there were no plans for Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold talks with US President Joe Biden.
Senior adviser to the Ukrainian President, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Wednesday talks were already under way on securing longer-range missiles and attack aircraft from foreign partners to help repel Russian forces.
Some western allies appear to have cooled on the idea of supplying F-16 and other fighter jets to Ukraine over the past 24 hours. Joe Biden, the US president, when asked at the White House late on Monday if his country would provide F-16s, answered simply “no”, although he emphasised on Tuesday morning he would remain in discussions with Ukraine about its weapons requests.
The UK also said supplying western jets was not practical. “These are sophisticated pieces of equipment,” a Downing St spokesperson said Tuesday. “We do not think it is practical to send those jets into Ukraine.” They added that prime minister Rishi Sunak supported accelerating support for Ukraine after completing a review that a “prolonged stalemate” in the conflict would benefit Russia.
Germany’s vice-chancellor Robert Habeck has spoken out against his country delivering fighter jets to Ukraine, saying such a move would “probably” be a step too far for western allies weighing up support for Kyiv’s cause against fears of being drawn into an outright war.
Pro-Russian forces have claimed in Russian media that Bakhmut is nearly encircled. Tass quoted Col Vitaly Kiselev on behalf of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic saying “Bakhmut has practically been ‘embraced’ from three sides, an intensive knocking out of the enemy is underway. They are trying, and I am sure that they will succeed … to go to the Chasiv Yar area, from where intensive shelling is going on back to Soledar, Bakhmut.”
Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne is reporting that the Kinburn Peninsula, a strip of land that protrudes from the southern side of Kherson oblast on the left bank of the Dnieper River, is in the “grey zone”, with neither Ukrainian or Russian military fully in control of the territory.
The British Ministry of Defence’s latest intelligence update says that recent days have seen “some of the most intense shelling of the conflict” along the Dniepr River. “This has included continued shelling of Kherson city,” the ministry notes – adding that, outside the Donbas, Kherson is the city most consistently shelled in the conflict. “Russia’s precise rationale for expending its strained ammunition stocks here is unclear. However, commanders are likely partially aiming to degrade civilian morale and to deter any Ukrainian counterattacks across the river,” the ministry adds.
Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency reported that the Novozybkov oil pumping station of the Druzhba oil pipeline in the Bryansk region of Russia came under fire from Ukraine
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, told a government meeting on Wednesday that shelling of Russian regions from Ukraine must not be permitted, and this was the task of the defence ministry.
Russian forces are preparing for a renewed attack on Ukraine imminently, most likely in the coming months, according to analysts. Citing western, Ukrainian and Russian sources, the US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War said Moscow was “preparing for an imminent offensive”, pointing to remarks by the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, who said there were “no signs” that Vladimir Putin was “preparing for peace”.
Military casualties on both sides in the war have totalled about 200,000, a western official has said, with a similar number killed and wounded on either side. A higher proportion of Russians had been killed, the official added, because they have been on the offensive, meaning that “they’ve suffered more fatalities than the Ukrainians on balance”.
Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen and the Green Party’s vice president of the German Bundestag Katrin Göring-Eckardt both visited Kyiv on Wednesday, Van der Bellen travelled to Bucha to pay respects at the mass grave discovered there after Russian forces retreated from occupying the city in the Kyiv region in the early stages of the war.
Ukraine should be able to join Nato as soon as the war is over, new Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s grain harvest may decrease again in 2023 to 49.5m tonnes from around 51m tonnes expected in 2022, deputy economy minister Denys Kudyn said Wednesday.
Belarus’s armed forces are now in autonomous control of Russian-supplied nuclear-capable Iskander mobile guided missile systems after completing training in Russia as well as exercises in Belarus, its defence ministry has said. On Tuesday the Belarus leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has said his country is “already ready” to offer more assistance to Russia in its war against Ukraine.
Latvia will not send its athletes to the 2024 Paris Olympics if competitors from Russia and Belarus are allowed to take part while the invasion of Ukraine is ongoing, a spokesperson for the country’s Olympic committee said.