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Putin celebrates his army, Washington announces new sanctions

Photo: Alexander Kazakov Pool Sputnik via Agence France-Presse Like every February 23, Vladimir Putin paid his respects on Friday at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, under the walls of the Kremlin.

France Media Agency in Moscow


  • Europe

Vladimir Putin on Friday praised the “heroes” fighting in Ukraine and Russia's rearmament on the day celebrating the Russian armed forces, on the eve of the second anniversary of the assault on Kiev .

Russia marks February 23 as “Defenders of the Fatherland” Day. This annual celebration comes as the Russian army has achieved several successes in Ukraine in recent days.

In a video broadcast on Friday, Vladimir Putin, in a serious tone, paid tribute to the “participants of the special operation” in Ukraine, who, according to him, “are fighting for truth and justice “.

“You are our authentic heroes of the people,” declared the Russian leader, who, like every year, paid his respects at the tomb of the unknown soldier, under the walls of the Kremlin.

The United States, for its part, announced new sanctions against Moscow on Friday, even if the multiple retaliatory measures adopted over the past two years have not prevented its ability to continue its offensive.

“If Putin does not pay the price for the death and destruction he is wreaking, he will continue,” Joe Biden warned in a statement.

The American president spoke of measures targeting individuals linked to the imprisonment of opponent Alexei Navalny, who died on February 16, the Russian war machine and a hundred entities helping Moscow to circumvent sanctions.

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Weakened by the blockage of American aid, the failure of its summer counter-offensive and a growing lack of men and ammunition, the Ukrainian army faces an “extremely difficult” situation, according to the Ukrainian army's own admission. President Volodymyr Zelensky who had to resolve a week ago to cede the fortress town of Avdiïvka on the Eastern front.

He also urged the American Congress to approve additional military aid to his country, in an interview broadcast Thursday on Fox News, the favorite channel of conservatives, who are blocking an envelope of 60 billion dollars .

In recent days, Vladimir Putin has increased his satisfaction, decorating soldiers, flying in a strategic bomber while, for a year, his country has focused on the war effort, with the surge in equipment production. and the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

On Friday, he touted increasing deliveries of missiles, drones, armored vehicles, artillery and air defense. “Based on our current combat experience, we will continue to strengthen the armed forces,” he advocated.

Three weeks before the presidential election, which will take place from March 15 to 17, Mr. Putin is approaching the second anniversary of this assault in a much better position, while the year 2022 had been marked by the failure of the offensive on kyiv and humiliating retreats.

The capture of Avdiïvka, a well-defended city in the eastern part of Ukraine, which has faced multiple Russian attacks since October, was an opportunity for him to present himself as the winner.

Mariïnka, “hot spot” on the front

Western officials wishing to show political support began arriving in Ukraine on Friday, even if the question of accelerating arms deliveries may still remain unresolved.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen arrived in Lviv, according to Mr. Zelensky, as did US Senator Chuck Schumer.

Russian diplomacy announced on Friday that it had expanded its list of EU officials banned from accessing Russia, in reaction to new European sanctions, targeting in particular three Chinese firms having supplied the Russian army.

In the meantime, the strikes against Ukraine continue. The Ukrainian General Staff reported nighttime attacks by Russian drones and missiles on Friday. Bombing killed three people in Odessa, police say.

The Russian army has also carried out around a hundred attacks in the last 24 hours on the Eastern Front, almost half of which were around Mariïnka, a new “hot spot” with the Avdiïvka area, the Ukrainian army said on Friday.

If Moscow suffered very heavy losses, with up to 120,000 dead according to American sources, it was able to recruit nearly half a million men in 2023 and another around 53,000 in January 2024, according to official figures.

Conversely, Ukraine saw its army decimated by its counter-offensive in the summer of 2023 and is unable to replenish its ranks. In recent weeks, however, it has recorded successes in the Black Sea.

But, on the front, the men, exhausted, lacked artillery ammunition, European aid having fallen behind schedule and that of the United States still being in question.

“You know, they have factories that produce them and we ? We beg for weapons,” says Oleksiï, a soldier returning from the trenches not far from Avdiïvka.

At the back, in Kiev, a retiree, Nina, stressed to AFP that Ukraine “did not give up” after two years of fighting: “We learned to hold on, to be stronger and to believe in it. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116