The United States will not provide the F-16 fighter jets that Ukraine has sought in its fight against Russia, President Joe Biden said, as Russian forces claimed a series of incremental gains in the country’s east.
Volodymyr Zelensky’s senior adviser, Andriy Yermak, has suggested Poland is willing to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighters. He said Ukraine had “positive signals” from Warsaw. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, was careful to stress his own country would only act in consultation with NATO.
The Kremlin warned the west’s supplying of further weapons to Ukraine would only lead to “significant escalation” of the conflict. Kyiv “demands more and more weapons” while NATO countries were “more and more becoming directly involved in the conflict”, - Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
Russian forces continued attacks on positions across the frontline near the eastern cities of Bakhmut and Donetsk. Moscow’s troops have been pounding Bakhmut in the Donbas for several months, but in recent days the invaders appeared to have opened up a new effort to gain ground around the village of Vuhledar, 30 miles south-west of Donetsk city.
The situation in Bakhmut and Vuhledar was “very tough” with both areas and other parts of the Donetsk region “under constant Russian attacks”, President Zelensky said. Vuhledar is close to the junction with the southern Zaporizhzhia front and considered a hinge point for both sides, but remains held by the Ukrainians despite a claim by the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic to the contrary.
Ukraine’s military and Russia’s Wagner private military group are both claiming to have control in the area of Blahodatne, eastern Donetsk region. “Units of Ukraine’s defence forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of … Blahodatne … in the Donetsk region”, - Ukraine’s military reported, adding its forces also repelled attacks in 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region. Wagner said that its units had taken control of Blahodatne.
Ukraine’s state-run energy operator Ukrenergo has said there is a “significant” deficit in the country’s energy system due to damage caused by Russian missile attacks.
Ukraine’s military will spend nearly USD 550m on drones (UAVs) in 2023, and 16 supply deals have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers, defence minister Oleksii Reznikov has said. Ukraine has received significant supplies of UAVs from its partners but Kyiv is now seeking to boost domestic production to build what officials cast as an “army of drones”.