(Reuters) – Ukrainian soldiers fighting to hold off a Russian push on the small eastern city of Bakhmut pleaded for more weapons from the outside world as senior Western leaders met in Munich to assess the year-long war shaking Europe.
POLITICS, SANCTIONS, AID
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged allies to speed up sending weapons to defeat the Russian invasion, warning global leaders assembled in Munich that dithering and delays also threatened their security.
* Allies who can deliver battle tanks to Ukraine should now do so, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, adding Germany would facilitate this decision by providing logistics and stock replenishment and by training Ukrainian soldiers.
* French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to toughen his stance towards Moscow, urging allies to step up military support for Ukraine to help it push back Russia’s invasion since now was not the time for dialogue with Moscow.
* Zelenskiy, speaking before the Munich gathering, said it was “obvious” Ukraine would not be the last stop of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and it was vital the West does not delay deliveries of arms to help repel Russian forces.
* A senior Ukrainian official ruled out peace talks with Moscow unless Russia withdraws from Ukraine, reiterating Kyiv’s position before the Munich conference.
* The Kremlin accused the United States of inciting Ukraine to escalate the war by condoning attacks on Crimea, warning that Washington was now directly involved in the conflict because “crazy people” had dreams of defeating Russia.
* A top U.S. trade official said that export controls on Russia have slowly reduced the supply of materials that it can use to rebuild its war machine.
* The World Health Organization appealed for more funds to support Ukraine’s health sector, which has been severely damaged by the Russian invasion.
* Echoing a pattern of heavy aerial bombardment at times of Ukrainian battlefield or diplomatic advances, Russia launched 32 missiles in the early hours of Thursday, Ukraine’s air force said. Half were shot down, it added, a lower rate than normal.
* Russian rockets and artillery slammed into a residential district in the city of Bakhmut on Thursday, killing three men and two women and wounding nine, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said, adding it was being investigated as a war crime.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.
* Negotiations will start in a week on extending a U.N.-backed initiative that has enabled Ukraine to export grain from ports blockaded by Russia after its invasion, a senior Ukrainian official said.
(Compiled by Robert Birsel and Mark Heinrich)