Ukraine’s Dnipro reels as Russia, Belarus hold military drills | News of war between Russia and Ukraine

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The tax from a Devastating missile strike in Dnipro escalates as more bodies are pulled from rubble than one of the deadliest attacks since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine 11 months ago.

Residents gathered Monday to watch as cranes removed collapsed sections of the Soviet-style residential building that was torn open by the strike in central Ukraine two days earlier.

Ukraine’s emergency services said 40 people had died, including three children, and 34 people were still unaccounted for.

Kyiv blamed Moscow for the attack, but the Kremlin said Russian forces were not responsible and pointed to an unfounded theory circulating on social media that Ukrainian air defense systems caused the damage.

“Russian armed forces do not hit residential buildings or social infrastructure. They hit military targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, suggesting Kyiv’s air defenses knocked a Russian missile off course.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late on Sunday that investigations would continue as long as necessary and criticized Russia’s “stubborn silence” over the attack, but the possibility of more survivors were found thin by Monday evening.

Russia and Belarus hold military drills

The cost of the strike increased as Russia and its close ally Belarus held joint military drills.

Belarus, one of the only countries that supported Russia without question during the conflict, allowed Moscow’s forces to launch their attack from Belarusian territory in February.

His defense ministry said the air force exercises would include joint “tactical” flights and involve all airfields in Belarus.

“The exercise is purely defensive in nature,” said Pavel Muraveyko, first deputy state secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, in comments published Sunday by the defense ministry.

Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from Moscow, said the drills will “mainly focus on surveillance [and] supplies during operations.”

“They were described as defensive drills, not offensive drills, so this is usually the view that is discussed when this issue of the drills is discussed,” Hashem said. .

“But there are many concerns about the role Belarus is playing in the war [and] whether this will have an effect,” he said.

Dnipro
Emergency workers have found dozens of dead and injured people in a Dnipro apartment building that was hit on January 14, 2023 [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

Meanwhile, the head of the UN atomic watchdog, Rafael Grossi, was expected to be in Ukraine on Monday using observer missions at nuclear power plants across the country. Preserving and protecting nuclear sites has been a major concern throughout Russia’s offensive.

“I am proud to lead this mission to Ukraine, where we are using it in every NPP in the country. [nuclear power plants] to provide assistance in nuclear safety and security,” he said on Twitter.

In another sign that the war is having an impact far beyond Ukraine, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned on Monday after months of criticism of Berlin’s strong response to the war in Ukraine.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CHALLENGER_2_TANKS_JAN15
(Al Jazeera)

As the nearly year-long war continues, Ukraine is pushing its Western allies to supply their forces with tanks, particularly the German-designed Leopard model.

Britain this weekend pledged 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, which would make it the first Western country to supply the heavy tanks that Kyiv has been asking for.

Peskov predicted that they would have little effect in Ukraine’s war effort.

“These tanks are burning and they will burn,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with German media on Sunday that “recent commitments for heavy warfare equipment are important – and I expect more soon.” “

Poland’s prime minister on Monday urged the German government to supply Kyiv with a wide range of weapons and said he hoped Berlin would soon allow the transfer of battle tanks.

The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank in Washington, DC, reported signs that the Kremlin was trying to turn its offensive into a “conventional war” after months of embarrassing military reversals.

Russia has been forced out of many territories captured in recent months by a successful campaign against Ukraine.

“The Kremlin appears to be preparing to take decisive strategic action in the next six months to regain the initiative and end Ukraine’s string of operational successes,” the institute said in report late Sunday.

He noted that reports indicated that the Russian military command was in “serious preparation” for a larger mobilization effort, retaining mobile personnel for future use during they were trying to boost military industrial production and reorganize the command structure.

That means Ukraine’s western allies must “continue to support Ukraine in the long term,” the think tank said.

Separately on Monday, Ukrainian officials said Russian forces would continue to avoid the southern city of Kherson, which Ukraine recaptured late last year.

Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said one woman was killed in an attack on a residential building and Russian forces also damaged an empty children’s hospital.

In Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula in Ukraine that was annexed by Russia in 2014, the Moscow-appointed official responsible for the military city of Sevastopol said that the forces of the Russia downed seven drones over 24 hours.

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