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Russia-Ukraine war live: Moscow preparing for military confrontation with West ‘within next decade’, says Estonia


Russia preparing for military confrontation with West, says Estonia

Russia is preparing for a military confrontation with the West within the next decade and could be deterred by a counter build-up of armed forces, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said.

A growing number of Western officials have warned of a military threat from Russia to countries along the eastern flank of Nato, calling for Europe to get prepared by rearming, Reuters reported.

The chief of the intelligence service said the assessment was based on Russian plans to double the number of forces stationed along its border with Nato members Finland and the Baltic States of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

“Russia has chosen a path which is a long-term confrontation … and the Kremlin is probably anticipating a possible conflict with Nato within the next decade or so,” Kaupo Rosin told reporters at the release of Estonia’s national security threats report.

A military attack by Russia is “highly unlikely” in the short term, he said, partly because Russia has to keep troops in Ukraine, and would remain unlikely if Russian buildup of forces was matched in Europe.

“If we are not prepared, the likelihood [of a military Russian attack] would be much higher than without any preparation,” Rosin added.

Estonia and the other Baltic States have increased their military spending to over 2% of the value of their economies after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and Nato allies have raised their presence in those countries.

Key events

Russia has lost more than 3,000 tanks during its invasion of Ukraine – the equivalent of its entire pre-war active inventory – but has enough lower-quality armoured vehicles in storage for years of replacements, a leading research centre said.

Ukraine has also suffered heavy loses since the invasion began in February 2022 but Western military replenishments have allowed it to maintain inventories while upgrading quality, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said in its annual Military Balance report, Reuters reported.

“Moscow has been able to trade quality for quantity though, by pulling thousands of older tanks out of storage at a rate that may, at times, have reached 90 tanks per month,” said the report, a key reference tool for defence analysts.

Russia’s stored inventories mean Moscow “could potentially sustain around three more years of heavy losses and replenish tanks from stocks, even if at lower-technical standard, irrespective of its ability to produce new equipment,” the report said.

Russia has put Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas on a wanted list, an official register showed on Tuesday, as tensions soar between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

Kallas’ name appeared on the interior ministry’s register of people wanted in connection with criminal charges. It didn’t specify what charges Kallas was facing, AP reported.

It is the first time the ministry has put a foreign leader on a wanted list. Kallas has been a strong supporter of Ukraine, spearheading efforts to increase military assistance to Kyiv and tighten sanctions against Russia.

She also has angered Moscow by pushing for the removal of monuments to Soviet World War II soldiers. Russia has laws criminalising the “rehabilitation of Nazis” that include clauses punishing the desecration of war memorials.

Estonian secretary of state Taimar Peterkop was also put on the wanted list, according to the register.

Russia preparing for military confrontation with West, says Estonia

Russia is preparing for a military confrontation with the West within the next decade and could be deterred by a counter build-up of armed forces, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said.

A growing number of Western officials have warned of a military threat from Russia to countries along the eastern flank of Nato, calling for Europe to get prepared by rearming, Reuters reported.

The chief of the intelligence service said the assessment was based on Russian plans to double the number of forces stationed along its border with Nato members Finland and the Baltic States of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

“Russia has chosen a path which is a long-term confrontation … and the Kremlin is probably anticipating a possible conflict with Nato within the next decade or so,” Kaupo Rosin told reporters at the release of Estonia’s national security threats report.

A military attack by Russia is “highly unlikely” in the short term, he said, partly because Russia has to keep troops in Ukraine, and would remain unlikely if Russian buildup of forces was matched in Europe.

“If we are not prepared, the likelihood [of a military Russian attack] would be much higher than without any preparation,” Rosin added.

Estonia and the other Baltic States have increased their military spending to over 2% of the value of their economies after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and Nato allies have raised their presence in those countries.

The Democratic-led US Senate was expected to vote early on Tuesday for final passage of a $95.34 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, amid growing doubts about the legislation’s fate in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Soon after lawmakers swept aside the last procedural hurdle facing the legislation late on Monday, Republican opponents of the bill took to the Senate floor for an overnight marathon of speeches, Reuters reported. Aides predicted that a vote on passage could begin before 7am EST (12pm GMT) on Tuesday.

Senate passage appears certain. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been able to deliver the support of least 17 members of his party conference, more than enough to exceed the 100-seat chamber’s 60-vote threshold for passage.

But both houses of Congress must approve the legislation before Democratic president Joe Biden can sign it into law. And the bill faces long odds in the House, where Republican speaker Mike Johnson faulted the measure for lacking conservative provisions to stem a record flow of migrants across the US-Mexico border.

Russian air attack damages Dnipro power plant, Ukraine says

Russia attacked the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro with missiles and drones on Tuesday, damaging a power plant and cutting off water supplies to some residents, Ukrainian officials and media said.

The city of just under one million people came under attack from a missile and four groups of drones approaching from the south, east and north, Ukraine Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app, Reuters reported.

Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, said that a thermal power plant was significantly damaged. There were no casualties, it added.

The company did not say where the power plant was located, but Dnipro’s water utility company said on Telegram that “due to power outages” water supply had been partially suspended and Ukrainian media outlets said a power plant in Dnipro was hit.

Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov said infrastructure had been hit, but gave no further details.

Russia’s response to the West’s seizure of its assets will be “tough,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday, state news agency TASS reported.

“The attitude to the West will be like to thieves,” Zakharova said.

Opening summary

Good morning and welcome to the Ukraine live blog. We start with news that Russian forces are buying Starlink satellite internet terminals in “Arab countries” for use on the battlefield, Ukraine’s military spy agency has said.

The Elon Musk-owned service has been vital to Kyiv’s battlefield communications, but Ukrainian officials have said Russian forces are also increasingly relying on it during their nearly two-year-old invasion, Reuters reported.

The defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) released what it said was an audio intercept of two Russian soldiers discussing buying units from Arab providers for around 200,000 roubles ($2,200) each.

“The aggressor state Russia is purchasing communications equipment, including Starlink satellite Internet terminals, for use in the war in Arab countries,” the ministry said on Telegram.

On Monday, GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov told Reuters that Russian forces were purchasing the terminals through unspecified third countries.

Starlink has said it does not do business with Russia or operate on Russian territory. The Kremlin said the terminals were neither certified for use in, nor officially supplied to, Russia, and therefore could not be used.

In other news:

  • Russia has hit Kyiv with what was probably a hypersonic Zircon missile, its first use in the nearly two-year-old war, a Ukrainian research institute has said. The Zircon has a range of 1,000km (625 miles) and travels at nine times the speed of sound, according to Russia. The Kyiv Scientific Research Institute for Forensic Examinations said pieces of debris that matched Zircon components were found after a strike on 7 February.

  • Russia said it completed testing of the Zircon missile in June 2022, and Vladimir Putin described it as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems. Russia has also attacked Ukraine with the Kinzhal hypersonic missile – which turned out to be a ground-launched ballistic missile dropped from a plane. It was supposed to be unstoppable, but Ukrainian troops have regularly shot them down with Patriot missiles.

  • Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched a missile and drone attack on Monday on the central city of Dnipro and the mayor said infrastructure had been hit. Suspilne public television quoted the water authority as saying power cuts had closed a pumping station and supplies were cut to certain districts.

  • A major Moscow-based online network has been spreading pro-Russian Ukraine war propaganda and disinformation in western Europe, French military and cybersecurity experts say. France’s Vignium agency, which works against foreign entities trying to sway public opinion, says the network, dubbed Portal Kombat, has operated at least 193 sites disseminating pro-Russian propaganda defending the invasion of Ukraine and criticising the government in Kyiv.

  • Hundreds of mourners on Monday attended the funeral of a family of five, including three small children, burned to death in a Russian drone attack in the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Russian drones struck a fuel depot on Friday evening, triggering fires that engulfed an entire street, including the house in which the Putyatina family lived. An elderly couple died in the same street. More than 50 people were injured and 15 homes burned down.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, is planning a tour of western European capitals to lobby for aid for Ukraine around this week’s Munich security conference, Bloomberg News has reported.

  • The EU has adopted a law to set aside windfall profits made on about €300bn in frozen Russian central bank assets, in a first concrete step towards using the money to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. The EU and G7 have been debating for over a year if and how the funds can be used.

  • After Vladimir Putin gave US interviewer Tucker Carlson his exhaustive version of Russia’s historical glory, a Mongolian leader has trolled Vladimir Putin over the size of defunct Eurasian empires. “After Putin’s talk. I found Mongolian historic map. Don’t worry. We are a peaceful and free nation,” wrote Tsakhia Elbegdorj, former Mongolian president, on Twitter/X. Elbegdorj, who was previously also Mongolian prime minister, is an international figure and was a leader in Monglia’s 1990 democratic revolution ending communist rule.

  • Russia on Monday imposed sanctions on 18 British citizens for what Moscow said was demonising Russia and escalating the war in Ukraine. Russia imposed what it called personal sanctions against deputy defence minister James Cartlidge, and a number of other officials and academics including historians Orlando Figes and Norman Davies and Russia specialist James Sherr.



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