Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, mocked Russian claims to have taken over parts of the eastern city of Soledar, and said that fighting is ongoing. “The terrorist state and its propagandists are trying to pretend” to have achieved some successes in Soledar, Zelenskiy said in his Wednesday evening address, “but the fighting continues”. Ukraine’s military also denied that Russian forces have encircled and captured Soledar after claims by the head of the Wagner mercenary group that the mining town had fallen.
Russia appointed Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, as its overall commander for the war in Ukraine, in the latest of several major shake-ups of Moscow’s military leadership. Russia’s defense ministry said the changes were designed to “improve the quality … and effectiveness of the management of Russian forces” in a statement on Wednesday. Gerasimov has faced sharp criticism from Russia’s hawkish military bloggers for multiple setbacks on the battlefield.
The British government is planning to provide tanks to Ukraine to help the country defend itself, according to a spokesperson for Number 10. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the spokesperson said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has asked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to “work with partners” and to provide further support to Ukraine “including the provision of tanks”. “It’s clear that battle tanks could provide a game-changing capability to the Ukrainians,” he said. “The prime minister told President Zelenskiy last week the UK will provide whatever we can.”
Poland plans to send 10 German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, the Polish president said on a visit to Lviv on Wednesday. The transfer would require permission from Germany, which Kyiv has been pressing separately to supply Leopard 2s, perhaps suggesting a softening of Germany’s stance on the transfer of main battle tanks after recent contacts between Warsaw and Berlin. However, a German government spokesperson said he was not aware of any requests from allies to send tanks to Ukraine.
The European Union is “prepared for a long war” in Ukraine and will support Kyiv against Russia’s aggression for “as long as it takes”. said Sweden’s foreign minister Tobias Billström, whose country holds the EU’s presidency. He also said the EU would continue working on more sanctions against Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.
Zelenskiy urged NATO to do more than just promise Ukraine its open doors, and said Kyiv needs “powerful steps” as it tries to join the military alliance. “For today, just support for Ukraine from colleagues in NATO and support in the form of rhetoric about open doors is not enough for Ukraine. Namely, not enough to motivate our state … our soldiers,” Zelenskiy said in Lviv after talks with the presidents of Lithuania and Poland. “We need steps forward … we are looking forward to powerful steps, we are counting on something more than just opening doors.”
The Russian president said the situation in Ukrainian regions that Moscow illegally annexed was “difficult in places”. Vladimir Putin, speaking at a televised meeting with officials, also said Russia had all the resources it needed to improve life in the four Ukrainian regions that Moscow unilaterally claimed to have annexed in September.
Ukraine must “be ready” at its border with Russian ally Belarus even though it sees only “powerful statements” coming from its neighbor, Zelenskiy said on Wednesday. Kyiv has warned that Russia may try to use Belarus to launch a new ground invasion of Ukraine from the north.
Nato and the EU are launching a taskforce to bolster the protection of critical infrastructure in response to last year’s attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines and Russia’s “weaponising of energy”. leaders said on Wednesday. The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the task force would initially come up with proposals on transport, energy, digital and space infrastructure.
A Russian conscript has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison after getting into an altercation with his superiors over poor training conditions., in the first known ruling against a soldier who criticized the Kremlin’s unpopular mobilization. In a video filmed on November 13, draftee Alexander Leshkov is seen shouting profanities and shoving Lt Col Denis Mazanov at a training ground outside Moscow. Leshkov was heard telling his commander: “You are sabotaging the commander-in-chief’s direct orders [to supply and train mobilised soldiers],” adding: “You should be arrested.”
Wagner claimed his forces found the body of one of two British voluntary aid workers reported missing in eastern Ukraine. It did not give the name of the dead man but said documents belonging to both Britons had been found on his body. A photo posted alongside the statement appeared to show passports bearing the names of Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry, the two missing workers. Ukrainian police said on Monday they were looking for the pair who went missing. A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office added: “We are supporting the families of two British men who have gone missing in Ukraine.”