Putin declares that the situation in Russian-annexed Ukrainian areas is extremely challenging

President Vladimir Putin declared that the situation in Ukraine’s four regions Moscow declares to be part of Russia is “extremely challenging” and directed security forces to intensify surveillance to protect its borders from new threats.

Putin’s remarks on Security Services Day were widely celebrated in Russia. They came after Kyiv reiterated its calls for additional weapons following Russian drones hitting energy targets. There are also growing fears that Moscow’s ally Belarus might open an invasion front against Ukraine.

Putin directed the Federal Security Services to increase surveillance on Russian society and its borders in order to counter “emergence of new dangers” from abroad as well as traitors within Russia.

Putin admitted that the invasion of Ukraine did not go smoothly and warned about the difficulties in Ukraine’s areas. He also ordered the FSB, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of those living in the area.

Putin stated late Monday that “the situation in Donetsk, Luhansk People’s Republics and in the Kherson-Zaporizhzhia areas is extremely difficult.” He made the comments in Russian which were translated by Reuters.

A defiant Putin attempted to annexe a large swathe of Ukraine in September. It was about 15%. But he stated earlier this month that the war could be “long and difficult.”

Kyiv, along with its Western allies, condemned Putin’s decision to annexe the regions as unconstitutional.

Putin visited Belarus for the first time since 2019 on Monday. He and his counterpart extolled closer ties during a press conference in the late evening, but did not mention Ukraine.

After Russian drones “kamikaze”, which hit energy targets on Monday, Kyiv was looking for more weapons from West.

“Weapons, shells, new defence capabilities…everything that will give us the ability to speed up the end to this war,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his evening address.

According to the Ukrainian military’s high command, their air defenses have shot down 23 out of 28 drones. These were most likely located over Kyiv. This was Moscow’s third strike in as many days. Russia attacked Ukraine’s power grid, leading to blackouts in sub-zero temperatures.

These drones, called “kamikaze”, are disposable and unmanned devices that can fly towards their targets before falling at high speed and exploding on impact.

In the north-west of Ukraine there have been months of Russian and Belarusian military activities in Belarus. Belarus is a close Kremlin ally that Moscow used to launch their attack on Kyiv last February.

Putin’s visit to Minsk raised concerns in Ukraine regarding the possible involvement of Belarusian military forces in the invasion. At a news conference after talks, Putin and Lukashenko did not touch on Ukraine. Instead they extolled the advantages of economic and defense alignment.

Lukashenko repeatedly stated that he does not intend to send troops from his country into Ukraine. In Ukraine, the invasion of Moscow was a failure. There were a series of retreats and counter-offensives.

On Monday, the Kremlin dismissed suggestions that Putin was trying to force Belarus into an active role. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said that such reports are “stupid” and unfounded as reported by RIA Novosti.

Lukashenko and Putin were both quick to reject the possibility of Russia annexed or absorbing Belarus.

Putin stated that Russia has no intention of absorbing any person.

When Ned Price, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, was asked about the comment, he said that it should be viewed as “the height of irony” because it came from “a leader seeking to violently absorb his peaceful neighbor at this moment.”

Tens of thousands have been killed in the 10-month-old Ukrainian conflict, which is Europe’s largest since World War Two. Millions were forced from their homes, and many cities are in ruins.

According to the General Staff of Ukraine, Russian artillery destroyed 25 villages and towns around Bakhmut in the east as well as several other areas in Kupiansk (a northeastern city retaken in September by Ukraine).

The report also stated that Ukrainian artillery and air forces had carried out over a dozen strikes against Russian troops and equipment, ammunition dumps included, and downed two helicopters.

Russian-appointed mayor in Donetsk Alexei Kulemzin said that Ukrainian shelling had struck a hospital wing and a kindergarten. He posted a photograph on Telegraph of what looked like a waiting area with broken furniture and fittings.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the accounts on battlefields of any side.

Russia claims it’s conducting a special military operation in Ukraine to eliminate nationalists, and preserve Russian-speaking peoples. The Kremlin’s unprovoked aggression is described by the West and Ukraine.


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