Ukraine said its forces had repelled Russian assaults along the length of the front line on Thursday on the eve of the war’s anniversary, as President Vladimir Putin, empty-handed after a bloody winter offensive, talked up Russia’s nuclear arsenal, reports Reuters.
After a series of strident speeches in the runup to the anniversary of his invasion, Putin announced plans on Thursday to deploy new Sarmat multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles this year. Earlier this week he suspended Russia’s participation in the START nuclear arms control treaty.
“As before, we will pay increased attention to strengtheningthe nuclear triad,” said Putin, referring to nuclear missilesbased on land, sea and in the air.
“We will continue mass production of air-based hypersonicKinzhal systems and will start mass supplies of sea-based Zirconhypersonic missiles,” Putin said in the remarks issued by the Kremlin early on Thursday.
Ukraine and its Western allies have brushed off the nuclear posturing as a diversion from a failing Russian military campaign on the ground, a year after Putin launched the biggest land war in Europe since World War Two.
The last weeks have seen Russia mount infantry assaults across frozen ground in battles described by both sides as the bloodiest of the war.
Western officials said they believed Russia had planned an offensive to capture new territory ahead of the anniversary, using hundreds of thousands of reservists conscripted in recent months to give Putin a victory to announce.
Moscow’s forces have made progress trying to encircle the small city of Bakhmut, but have failed to break through Ukrainian lines to the north near Kremmina and to the south at Vuhledar where they have taken heavy losses assaulting across open ground into the teeth of Ukrainian artillery.
Ukrainian forces repelled 90 Russian attacks in the northeast and east over the past 24 hours, the military said early on Thursday.
Ukraine has shut some schools for the war’s anniversary in anticipation that Moscow might launch long-range missile attacks to mark the date. But Kyiv officials said they believe Moscow no longer has the capability for a dramatic show of force.
UN chief flays Russian ‘affront’ in Ukraine
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “an affront to our collective conscience” that violates the UN Charter and challenges “the cornerstone principles and values of our multilateral system.”
The war started a year ago is fanning regional instability and fuelling global tensions and divisions, he said as the General Assembly is set to adopt a resolution that underscores the need to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in war-torn Ukraine. His strong statement came as the 193-member UN General Assembly resumed the Emergency Special Session on Ukraine on Wednesday and the world body marked one year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Addressing the session, Guterres said the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stands as a “grim milestone – for the people of Ukraine and for the international community.
“That invasion is an affront to our collective conscience. It is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international law. It is having dramatic humanitarian and human rights consequences. And the impact is being felt far beyond Ukraine.”
“As I said from day one, Russia’s attack on Ukraine challenges the cornerstone principles and values of our multilateral system,” Guterres said.
He added that the war is also “fanning regional instability and fuelling global tensions and divisions while diverting attention and resources from other crises and pressing global issues.”
“War is not the solution. War is the problem…While prospects may look bleak today, we must all work knowing that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the UN Charter and international law.”
The UN General Assembly is expected to vote on a draft resolution Thursday tiled ‘Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine’ that will underscore “the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
It will reiterate its demand that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and calls for a cessation of hostilities.