Ukraine Latest: Iran to Get Russian Jets; Putin Lauds Economy

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President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s economy is in better shape than expected. Iran, which has been supplying Moscow with attack drones for months, will take delivery of Russian fighter jets by March, an Iranian lawmaker said.


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Twenty-two Ukrainians are now reported dead following Russia’s missile attack Saturday on a nine-story apartment block in the Dnipro, state emergency services said. At least 72 people were injured, including children, and dozens are  believed to be buried under debris after much of the building was razed as part of Russia’s 10th mass missile strike since early October. 

The hit on Dnipro was part of two waves of strikes on Saturday mostly targeted at Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Missile and airstrikes were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipro, Vinnytsia, among other locations. In the first instance, Kremlin forces launched S-300 and S-400 systems on a ballistic trajectory from Belarus, before later launching cruise missiles from air and sea.  

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Key Developments

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On the Ground

Over the past 24 hours, Russia launched the air strikes and 57 missile strikes, and 69 strikes from rocket salvo systems, Ukraine’s General Staff said. Russia used С-300/С-400 long-range anti-aircraft missiles to carry out missile strikes on Kyiv and other settlements of Ukraine, it said in a daily report, warning that there’s still a threat of air and missile strikes throughout Ukraine. At least two were injured after a Russian strike on residences in Kherson Sunday afternoon, the region’s governor said.

(All times CET)

Putin Says Economic Situation ‘Satisfactory, Even Good’ (1 p.m.) 

Russia’s president said the country’s economy is “quite satisfactory, even good,” and is performing better not only than opponents had expected, “but even we predicted.” Vladimir Putin spoke Sunday with the TV channel Russia-1. 

He expect Russia’s inflation to slow to about 5% in the first quarter from 11.9%, and pointed to growth in industrial production, agriculture and construction. 

Putin also said what he terms the “special military operation” in Ukraine is going according to the defense ministry’s plan, and that the “dynamics are positive” for Russia. 

Iran Expects to Get Russian Fighter Jets by March (12:43 p.m.)

Iran will receive a number of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets by March as part of a military order that includes defense systems, missiles and helicopters. 

Shahriar Heydari, a member of the Islamic Republic’s parliamentary commission for national security and foreign policy, didn’t specify the number of aircraft ordered. 

Rheinmetall CEO Says Leopard Repairs Take a Year (9:15 a.m.)

The maker of Leopard tanks says it would take about a year to get the vehicles it has in inventory ready for the battlefield, meaning deliveries to Ukraine couldn’t start before 2024, Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger said told the Bild newspaper. 

The German defense company has 22 Leopard 2 tanks and 88 Leopard 1 vehicles, “but we can’t repair these tanks without an order, because the costs are several hundred million euros and Rheinmetall can’t finance that in advance,” he said. 

The comments are likely to put more pressure on the German government to approve deliveries of vehicles in active service. Countries including Poland and Finland have said they’re ready to send their Leopards to Kyiv. 

Lithuania Holds Iron Wolf Military Exercise

© Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Lithuania Holds Iron Wolf Military Exercise

International Condemnation After Russian Strike on Civilians (8:44 a.m.)

Russia’s strike Saturday on civilians in an apartment block drew international condemnation.

Gitanas Nauseda, Lithuania’s president, called Russia “a terrorist state” that brings “destruction, death & immense suffering everywhere they go.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the attack was “despicable, abhorrent, and completely unacceptable.”

Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Ukraine, said Russia was continuing a “desperate assault on Ukraine’s cities and people.” 

Death Toll Still Rising From Russian Strike on Dnipro (8:35 a.m.) 

At least 22 people were killed in Russia’s missile attack Saturday on an apartment building in Dnipro, with at least 72 injured and more still trapped under the rubble, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of the presidential office. 

Dnipropetrovsk region Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Telegram that 72 units in the nine-story block were destroyed and 230 others damaged. Ukraine’s air command said the building was hit with a Russian Kh-22, or X-22, long-range missile launched from the Kursk region and designed for use against aircraft carriers. 

Kremlin troops have fired more than 210 of the Kh-22 rockets since the start of the invasion, and Ukraine has no firepower capable of shooting down that type of missile, the air command said. 

Sunak Says Strategy Needed to Break ‘Stalemate’ (8 a.m.)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for an international strategy to break the “stalemate” in Ukraine after almost a year of war. 

“A flurry of UK diplomatic activity will take place across the globe this week after the prime minister directed senior ministers to drive international action,” according to a statement from Sunak’s office. 

The UK has assessed that a “window has opened up where Russia is on the back foot due to resupply issues and plummeting morale” and Sunak is encouraging allies to press their advantage as soon as possible.  

Emergency Power Outages in Kyiv After Saturday’s Strikes (8 a.m.)

Ukraine’s capital, along with much of the country, continues to experience power outages after strikes on critical infrastructure by Russian missiles on Saturday. 

DTEK power engineers, together with specialists from Ukrenergo, other emergency services and state authorities, are attempting to stabilize the situation. 

Dnipro Building Deaths Rise to Nine (8:55 p.m.)

At least nine people were killed and 64 others injured after a Russian missile hit a high-rise apartment building in Dnipro on Saturday, according to Valentyn Reznichenko, military administration chief of the Dnipropetrovsk region.  

Images released by Ukraine show part of a building totally demolished with adjacent areas heavily damaged. Rescuers fought “fighting for every person, every life,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. At least 12 children were among the wounded and more than 1,000 people were left homeless.

Zelenskiy said “Russian terror” can only be stopped on the battlefield in Ukraine. What’s needed are “weapons that are in the warehouses of our partners and that our troops are so waiting for,” he said in a statement after the attack.

Apartment Building Hit in Dnipro (3 p.m.)

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of Ukraine’s presidential office, posted on Telegram a photo of what he said was the the partially-collapsed Dnipro building engulfed in smoke and flames. Explosions were also reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv and as far from the eastern front as Vinnytsia and Lviv in western Ukraine.

Much of Ukraine Under Air Raid Alert (2 p.m.)

Ukraine was hit by a second wave of Russian air strikes Saturday afternoon, with air defense active in the Mykolayiv and Odesa regions. Air-raid sirens sounded across much of the country. 

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolayiv region in Ukraine’s south, warned earlier that 17 Russian fighter jets had launched from bases in Russia and warned of potential attacks. Artillery shelling was also reported in and around Nikopol, southwest of Zaporizhzhia, and explosions were reported in Vinnytsia Oblast in Ukraine’s southwest

Saturday marks Russia’s first major wave of air strikes since a brief, self-imposed “cease fire” over Orthodox Christmas a week ago, and the first since a new commander was named to Russian the Kremlin’s war effort. 

Sunak, Zelenskiy Speak as UK Offers Challenger Tanks (12:30 p.m.)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke by phone Saturday with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, outlining the UK’s plan to provide Challenger 2 battle tanks and additional artillery systems to Ukraine, according to a UK readout. 

The pair “welcomed other international commitments in this vein, including Poland’s offer to provide a company of Leopard tanks,” according to the readout.  

The UK would become the first Western nation to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Four British Army Challenger 2 tanks will be sent to eastern Europe immediately, with eight more to follow, The Sun reported Friday. 

Finnish Army Arrow 22 Exercise Media Day

© Photographer: Roni Rekomaa/Bloomberg
Finnish Army Arrow 22 Exercise Media Day


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