What happened this week in the war between Russia and Ukraine? Stay up to date with the must-have news and analysis | Ukraine

Each week we round up the must-reads of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and articles to analysis, visual guides and opinion.

West is concerned about sending tanks to Ukraine

Tanks may have decided World War I, after four years of deadlock, and were indispensable throughout World War II, the Guardian’s security and defense editor, And Sabbagh wrote as the UK and other countries stepped up pressure on Germany to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine this week. But after the first Russian invasion, one of the surprising features of the war in Ukraine is that it has not been a war of dramatic maneuvers, but only modestly alternating fronts.

But as the Russians try to fortify their positions, perhaps in anticipation of a renewed attack, Kiev is under pressure to make a breakthrough this spring. With NATO unwilling to help Ukraine with combat air power, the answer, for now, lies in the heavily armored tank.

A Leopard 2A5 tank.  France, Poland and the United Kingdom have promised to soon send tanks for the Ukrainian army to use to defend itself against Russia.  Finland is considering following suit.
A Leopard 2 tank, which some European countries say could be crucial in giving Ukraine an advantage. Photo: ABACA/REX/Shutterstock

Ahead of Friday’s crucial leadership meeting at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was under pressure to approve the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks, with Poland nevertheless threatening to send Ukraine a batch of 14 tanks. German officials indicated they were willing if the US also sent some of its own Abrams tanks, but the US said on Wednesday that the Abrams were fuel inefficient and needed complex logistical support.

By the end of the Ramstein meeting, Germany had refused to make a decision on whether to give Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks – leading to frustration in Kiev and a warning from Poland that lives could be lost through hesitation in Berlin .

Berlin’s newly appointed defense minister said a final decision had not yet been made, but he had asked his ministry to “conduct a stockpile investigation” of the available tanks.

Jack Watling, senior land warfare research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, wrote that the prospect of several countries supplying Ukraine with NATO-designed main battle tanks offers a pathway to renewed impetus in Kiev’s bid to reclaim its territory from the Russian occupation. The next six months will likely be critical to this effort. However, in order for Ukraine to operate these vehicles, more is needed than just the supply of the tanks.

Less than a year ago it seemed hardly conceivable that the German state would provide weapons in a conflict, Kate Connolly writes. To complicate matters, Berlin had yet to allow NATO countries using more than 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks to re-export them to Ukraine. Poland indicated that it could go ahead and would anyway.

Dozens killed in massive rocket attack on Dnipro

A woman mourns as she looks at a destroyed residential building following a rocket attack four days ago in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro on January 4, 2023.
A woman mourns as she looks at a residential building destroyed by a rocket attack on the city of Dnipro on January 4. Photo: Dnipropetrovsk State Administration/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Russia carried out two massive rocket attacks on Ukraine on Saturday, destroying an apartment building in the south-central city of Dnipro, killing at least 45 people and injuring dozens. The target of the attack, Ukrainian authorities said, was Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, a continuation of its strategy of leaving the country without power and limiting its ability to fight.

During the second attack in the afternoon, a rocket hit a nine-story apartment in Dnipro, destroying an entire part of the building.

One of the dead was boxing coach Mykhailo Korenovskyi, the only member of his family home at the time. Isobel Koshiw reported. A friend of the family posted a video of the family celebrating a child’s birthday in their apartment next to a post-attack photo in the kitchen, which is missing an entire wall.

Helicopter crash kills interior minister

A woman cries as Orthodox priests hold a service at the scene of a helicopter crash, during the Russian attack on Ukraine, in the town of Brovary, outside Kiev, Ukraine, January 19, 2023.
On January 19, a service will be held at the scene of a helicopter crash in the town of Brovary, outside Kiev. Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters

At least 14 people, including Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrsky and other senior officials, were killed after a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in a Kiev suburb.

Isobel Koshiw and Peter Beaumont reported that a number of children at the Brovary school were among the victims after debris hit the building. The most recent update, on Wednesday afternoon, suggested one child had been killed, following previous reports of at least three.

The state security agency SBU said it was investigating possible causes, including a violation of flight rules, a technical malfunction and the deliberate destruction of the helicopter.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described the crash as “a terrible tragedy” on a “black morning”. “The pain is unspeakable,” he wrote on Telegram.

Germany’s new defense minister

A seasoned but unremarkable politician has been appointed as Germany’s new defense minister, the government has announced. Kate Connolly profiled Boris Pistorius.

Boris Pistorius, former Interior Minister of Lower Saxony and future Federal Defense Minister, speaks during a press statement at the Lower Saxony Interior Ministry in Hanover, Germany, Tuesday, January 17, 2023.
Boris Pistorius, former Interior Minister of Lower Saxony and future Federal Defense Minister, speaks during a press statement at the Lower Saxony Interior Ministry in Hanover, Germany, Tuesday, January 17, 2023. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/AP

Pistorius is a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic party, but his appointment by Scholz came as a surprise, not least because he is low profile in Germany and little known internationally. He is known as an astute, no-nonsense policy maker.

Warrior of the Wagner group applies for asylum

A former commander of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group seeking asylum in Norway told in an interview with Pyotr Sauer performed last month.

Andrey Medvedev, 26, said he had witnessed in Ukraine the summary killing of Wagner fighters accused by their own commanders of disobeying orders. After fleeing his unit, he crossed the border into Norway last Friday near the Pasvikdalen valley, where he was arrested and detained by border guards.

Andrey Medvedev, who entered Norway from Russia, according to the human rights website.  He is reportedly seeking asylum in the Scandinavian country.
Andrey Medvedev entered Norway from Russia and is applying for asylum. Photo: Gulagu.net

Medvedev is the first known soldier of the Wagner Group who fought in Ukraine before fleeing abroad. Before leaving Russia, Medvedev spoke on several phone calls, describing in detail his time fighting Wagner in eastern Ukraine.

“I fought in Bakhmut and commanded the first squad of the 4th platoon of the 7th assault detachment,” said Medvedev, adding that his unit was mostly made up of former prisoners who were thrown into battle as “cannon fodder”.

Kiev’s Year of Resistance

Volodymyr, Dmytro and Ihor from the Beatnik bar are photographed in the bar in Kiev.
Volodymyr, Dmytro and Ihor from the Beatnik bar are photographed in the bar in Kiev. Photo: Anastasia Vlasova/The Observer

Emma Graham-Harrison and Artem Mazhulin charted Kiev’s day-to-day acts of resistance. Last spring, mixologists at Kiev’s Beatnik Bar wrestled with whether they should even try to reopen. Their families were largely under Russian occupation in eastern Ukraine, many of their friends were on the front lines. Was it really the right time to worry about making and selling high-end cocktails? But they had drained their bank accounts while volunteering, they needed money to live on and support the war effort, and they thought the government could use the taxes.

And maybe, in a city that had been at its gates for a month with Russian soldiers and was now excavating the horrors they left behind in places like Bucha and Irpin, people could use a nice drink. So in May they reopened only from 3pm to 6pm, more coffee shop than nightlife due to the curfew.

“The atmosphere had changed. There was the same bartender, the same regulars, the same background music but something different. There was no cheering, no exclamations, somehow everything was more reserved, it felt like bar therapy,” said Igor Novoseltsev.

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