World

UKRAINE UPDATE: 6 MARCH 2023

Ukraine fighter pilots in US for training evaluation; Bakhmut stalemate continues

Ukraine fighter pilots in US for training evaluation; Bakhmut stalemate continues
Soldiers from a Ukrainian assault brigade fire a British-made L118 105mm howitzer on Russian frontline trenches, 4 March 2023 near Bakhmut, Ukraine. Soldiers said they received training on the towed light guns in Germany last summer, but took possession of the artillery pieces, sent by the UK, in January, 2023. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

The US is working with two Ukrainian pilots at a base in Arizona to determine how long it would take to train them to fly attack aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets, CNN reported. NBC reported the programme might be expanded soon with as many as 10 more pilots.

Ukraine fighter pilots in US for training evaluation; Bakhmut stalemate continues

The US is working with two Ukrainian pilots at a base in Arizona to determine how long it would take to train them to fly attack aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets, CNN reported. NBC reported the programme might be expanded soon with as many as 10 more pilots.

 

Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian troops continue to pursue an attempt to cut off the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut. Kremlin forces are on the offensive along five axes in Ukraine’s east, including near Bakhmut.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made a rare visit to Russian troops in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to a video released by his ministry. Shoigu “paid special attention to the creation of necessary conditions for the safe accommodation of personnel in field conditions”, the ministry said.

Key developments

Ukraine says Russia on the offence along five axes in the east

Kremlin forces are on the offensive along five axes in the east, including near Bakhmut, the Ukrainian General Staff said. Bakhmut’s deputy mayor said Russian attacks are preventing Ukrainian troops from reaching residents who want to evacuate.

Kremlin troops “appear to have secured a sufficient positional advantage to conduct a turning movement against parts of Bakhmut but have not yet forced Ukrainian forces to withdraw and will not likely be able to encircle the city soon”, said analysts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War.

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, appeared in a video on Sunday saying that if his forces withdrew from the city, the “entire frontline will collapse”. On Friday, Prigozhin claimed Bakhmut was “practically surrounded” by Russian forces, including his troops, and that Kyiv would be best advised to give up.

MP says ‘tens of thousands’ of children may have been deported

Ukrainian children who may have been illegally deported to Russia number in the “tens of thousands”, Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze told Sky News.

“We have about 13,000 cases that are confirmed that Ukrainian children have been deported” to Russia, said told Sophy Ridge on Sunday. “We also have information about many more of those that are counted in tens of thousands.”

 

 

 

Woman and two children killed in Russian shelling near Kherson

Three people – a woman and two children – died in a Kherson-region village after Russian shelling, Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian presidential chief of staff, said on Telegram.

“Mortar shelling of Ponyativka village in Kherson region. A private house was hit,” Yermak wrote.

About 4,000 residents in Bakhmut shelters, official tells BBC

About 4,000 residents are believed to be concentrated in shelters in Bakhmut without access to gas, electricity or water, deputy mayor Oleksandr Marchenko told the BBC.

Russian forces are thought to have the Donetsk city — largely in ruins after seven months of fighting – mostly surrounded. At least one woman was killed and two men badly wounded on Saturday while attempting to flee on foot.

Estonia’s premier faces far-right test with Nato unity at risk

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is favoured to win reelection in Estonia on Sunday, yet the vocal critic of Russia’s Vladimir Putin may struggle to form a new government as a far-right party taps into discontent in the Baltic nation.

Kallas, 45, who’s shown unwavering support for Ukraine, has held a steady — if at times narrowing — lead over the nationalist EKRE party led by former Finance Minister Martin Helme. EKRE has won support from older and rural voters as it lashes out at Kallas on migration and the EU’s green turn.

Read more: Estonia’s premier faces far-right test with Nato unity at risk  

Russian forces take to hand-to-hand combat with shovels, UK says

The UK defence ministry said some mobilised Russian reservists have recounted being ordered to assault Ukrainian positions with “firearms and shovels.”

The apparent increase in “close combat” fighting in Ukraine suggests Russia is short on munitions. “One of the reservists described being ‘neither physically nor psychologically’ prepared for the action,” the UK said in a Twitter thread.

US evaluates Ukrainian pilots for flight training, CNN reports

Two Ukrainian pilots are at a base in Arizona having their skills tested in flight simulators to evaluate how much time they would need to learn to fly various US military aircraft, CNN reported, citing three people briefed on the matter.

The effort was described by a US military official travelling with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin as a routine part of military-to-military dialogue with Ukraine. NBC reported separately that as many as 10 more pilots may join the effort soon.

The effort comes as Ukrainian officials press Western allies to provide dozens of modern fighter jets as part of Kyiv’s defence against Russia. Austin left Washington on Saturday, en route to Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

Poland-Germany rift straining Europe’s response

As Nato allies make a show of unity in support of Ukraine, a developing rift between Germany and Poland risks undermining a joint effort to supply Kyiv’s forces with the weaponry they need.

Bickering between Warsaw and Berlin over missiles, tanks and spare parts has reached a new level, even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls on Western allies to expedite armaments deliveries.

Read more: Poland-Germany tensions strain Europe’s unified front  

 

 

 

Shoigu’s troop visit focused on field conditions, ministry says

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, in meetings with commanders in the Donetsk region, discussed the current situation and paid particular attention to conditions for Moscow’s troops, the ministry said.

That included “the safe accommodation of personnel in field conditions, the organisation of comprehensive support for troops, and the work of medical and logistics units.”

The ministry on Saturday released a video of Shoigu’s visit, showing him in meetings with field commanders and presenting medals to Russian troops. It’s unclear when Shoigu’s trip took place.

Toll from Zaporizhzhia missile attack now at 13

Ukraine’s emergency services said the death toll from Thursday’s Russian missile strike on a residential building in Zaporizhzhia had risen to 13, including an eight-month-old girl and her parents.

So far, 853 tons of debris have been removed from the site of the S-300 surface-to-air missile attack as rescue and recovery efforts continue.

The body of an eight-month-old girl was found in Zaporizhzhia under the rubble of the residential building hit by the Russian missile. DM

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