Ukraine Russia war – latest news: NATO member Slovakia sends Ukraine its fleet of Soviet-era fighter jets

Moment when a Russian plane crashes into a US drone

Slovakia will send its 13-man fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, becoming the second NATO member after Poland to heed President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pleas for aircraft to help Kiev repel the Russian invasion.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced his government’s unanimous decision on Friday to send the grounded fleet of Soviet-era jets just hours after Poland’s Andrzej Duda announced plans to send four jets within days, and there will be more to follow.

The Kremlin replied on Friday that the fighter jets would be destroyed and would make no difference to the course of the conflict.

It came as Moscow announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping has accepted an invitation from Vladimir Putin to pay a state visit to Russia on Monday.

China and Russia concluded a borderless partnership in February 2022, just weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, and Beijing recently offered to broker peace in the war.

Meanwhile, according to the Pentagon, Russia was likely trying to retrieve debris from the US surveillance drone it allegedly intercepted over the Black Sea.


Kremlin accuses Kiev of ‘illegally attacking’ Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of “illegally attacking” the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) after officials in Kiev ordered the church to leave the 980-year-old monastic complex in the capital where it is located.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have accused the long-established Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) — which accepted the authority of the Moscow Patriarch until last year’s invasion — of undermining Ukrainian unity and cooperation with Russia.

“With these illegal attacks on the Church, the Kiev regime is once again showing its character, the character we are fighting against, the character we must stop through the [military] operation taking place,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Since October, Ukraine’s security service has conducted searches of UOC churches, imposed sanctions on bishops and moneylenders, and opened criminal cases against dozens of clergy.

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 11:29 am


What is China’s peace proposal to end the war in Ukraine?

China has offered a 12-point peace proposal to end the war in Ukraine, and Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Moscow next week.

Beijing foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Xi’s visit to Russia – his first in nearly four years – was partly to promote “peace”.

My colleague Matt Mathers has this report on the contents of China’s peace proposal:

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 11:02 AM


The Kremlin vows to destroy Slovak and Polish fighter jets

Following commitments from Slovakia and Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine, the Kremlin has replied that it will destroy the Soviet-era planes and that they will not affect the course of the war.

Announcing the decision, Estonian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his government is “on the right side of history”. Earlier, Heger tweeted that military aid was key to ensuring Ukraine can defend itself and all of Europe against Russia.

Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said Slovakia will receive €200 million from the European Union in compensation and unspecified weapons from the United States worth €700 million in exchange for sending its 13-strong fleet – which was deployed to the ground stood – to Kiev.

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 10:40 am


Slovakia donates a fleet of fighter jets to Ukraine

Slovakia is the second NATO member to approve plans to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced his government’s unanimous decision to give Ukraine its fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, which Slovakia no longer uses.

On Thursday, Poland’s president said his country will give Ukraine about a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets.

President Andrzej Duda said Poland will hand over four of the Soviet-made warplanes in the coming days and others that will need maintenance later.

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 9:50 AM


Russia credits pilots for intercepting US drone

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented awards to pilots for preventing a US drone from entering the area of ​​the Russian war in Ukraine, Russian state media reported, citing the Moscow Defense Ministry.

The drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday after being intercepted by Russian fighter jets, Washington said.

Russia denies that its jets came into contact with the drone, but said it would attempt to recover the debris from the Black Sea – an effort the US insisted was highly unlikely to succeed.

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 09:19


Russian losses leave commanders with a choice between offensives and “carrying out a credible defence,” UK says

Russia’s combat power is so depleted that Vladimir Putin’s commanders “will likely be forced to choose between conducting offensive operations or conducting a credible defense of the full line,” according to the British Ministry of Defence.

Russian and Wagner Group forces have gained a foothold west of the Bakhmutka River in central Bakhmut in recent days, while Ukrainian forces continue to defend the west of the city, according to British intelligence.

“More generally on the frontline, however, Russia has been waging some of the lowest rates of local offensive action since at least January 2023,” the ministry said.

“This is most likely due to the fact that Russian troops have temporarily exhausted the combat power of the deployed formations to such an extent that even local offensive actions are currently unsustainable.

“Russian leaders are likely to try to revive the force’s offensive potential once personnel and ammunition supplies are replenished. In the meantime, commanders will probably be forced to choose between conducting offensive operations or conducting a credible full-line defense.”

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 8:55 AM


Russia is likely trying to dispose of US drone waste in the Black Sea, the Pentagon says

The Pentagon has said it has “indications that Russia is likely making an effort to try and retrieve the US drone” reportedly intercepted by Moscow’s fighter jets over the Black Sea.

Russia had previously declared its intention to search for debris in deep waters near Crimea, and a US official told Reuters that Russian ships had been seen near the area where the drone crashed, though they did not appear to be parts of the drone. to have found. yet.

The Pentagon said it believed it was “highly unlikely they could recover anything useful.”

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 8:27 AM


Xi’s state visit aims to deepen bilateral trust with Russia, China says

Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss key international and regional issues with Vladimir Putin during his state visit to Russia, China’s foreign ministry said.

The purpose of the visit is to further deepen bilateral trust, spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news conference.

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 7:59 AM


China’s Xi Jinping will meet Vladimir Putin next week on a state visit to Russia, the Kremlin says

Chinese President Xi Jinping will accept an invitation from Vladimir Putin to pay a state visit to Russia next week, the Kremlin has announced.

China and Russia signed a borderless partnership in February 2022, just weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, and last month Beijing offered to broker peace in the war.

“During the talks, they will discuss current issues of the further development of comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between Russia and China,” the Kremlin said, adding: “A number of important bilateral documents will be signed.”

Meanwhile, in a rare phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba this week that Beijing is concerned about the war getting out of hand.

“We hope that all parties will remain calm, rational and restrained, resume peace talks as soon as possible, and push for a return to the track of political settlement,” Qin said.

“China will continue to play a constructive role in achieving a ceasefire, ending warfare, mitigating the crisis and restoring peace,” he said.

Andy GregoryMarch 17, 2023 7:39 AM


Russia has committed “widespread” war crimes in Ukraine, a UN-backed inquiry says

Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and murder in occupied territories, amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, according to a report from a UN-backed inquiry.

The voluminous human rights report, released one year on the day after a Russian airstrike on a theater in Mariupol killed hundreds, was a highly unusual condemnation of a member of the UN Security Council.

Among possible crimes against humanity, the report cited repeated attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure since the fall, leaving hundreds of thousands without heating and electricity during the coldest months, as well as the “systematic and widespread” use of torture in multiple regions under Russian occupation.

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Sam RkainaMarch 17, 2023 7:00 AM

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