Shameless Putin says bloodshed will be on Londons conscience

Ukraine: Vladimir Putin’s position assessed by Richard Dearlove

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The Russian embassy warned in a statement that supplying cutting-edge fighter jets to Ukraine would be “on London’s conscience” because of the “bloodshed, next round of escalation, and subsequent military and political ramifications for the European continent and the entire globe”. The threat came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week continued his push for combat aircraft and long-range missiles as he toured European capitals. The UK will be the first nation to start training Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard aircraft, and Mr Wallace will investigate which planes the UK could potentially give to Ukraine.

NATO defence ministers will gather in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday to coordinate weapons supplies for Ukraine and discuss the threat posed by spy balloons.

The meeting at the alliance’s headquarters in the Belgian capital comes ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said defence ministers would work to strengthen the alliance’s deterrence and defence, increase industrial capacity and replenish members’ munitions stockpiles, as well as “step up and sustain our support for Ukraine”.

Speaking on Monday, he said: “It is clear that we are in a race of logistics.

“Key capabilities like ammunition, fuel and spare parts must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield.

“Speed will save lives.”

The NATO chief warned that “we’re seeing the start already” of a fresh Russian offensive in Ukraine.

He also said he expected the possible supply of fighter jets to Kyiv to be discussed at the two-day gathering.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Tuesday that the Russians have “not massed sufficient offensive combat power” on any one axis to “achieve a decisive effect”.

Its intelligence assessment said Wagner Group mercenaries have likely made “further small gains” around the northern outskirts of the heavily-contested town of Bakhmut.

But the Ukrainian defence is continuing and the Russian advance to the south “has likely made little progress”.

Further north, in Kreminna-Svatove, the MoD said the Russians are making “continuous offensive efforts” but on “too small a scale to achieve a significant breakthrough”.

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The MoD said: “Overall, the current operational picture suggests that Russian forces are being given orders to advance in most sectors, but that they have not massed sufficient offensive combat power on any one axis to achieve a decisive effect.”

Defence sources believe the Russian president’s feared spring offensive may not be launched simultaneously across the front line.

But the use of conscripts during the increasing military activity to attack in specific areas could be a means of testing weaknesses in the Ukrainian position.

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