EU’s Michel backs tanks delivery to Ukraine

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BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (Reuters) – The European Union’s chairman on Wednesday spoke in favour of the West providing tanks to Ukraine to help it face off against Russia’s invasion.

“For nearly one year, Russia has pursued a strategy of destruction, a strategy of terror, trying to bomb the Ukrainian people into submission,” said European Council President Charles Michel.”But Ukrainians are resisting.”

“We, the EU, will continue to support them for as long as it takes. The time is now, they urgently need more equipment and I am personally in favour of supplying tanks to Ukraine.”

In Other Developments

CONFLICT

* The national police chief said Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi was killed in the helicopter crash. His first deputy, Yevheniy Yenin, and the ministry’s state secretary also died. It was not immediately clear what caused the helicopter to crash.

* More than 9,000 civilians, including 453 children, have been killed since the war began last February, a Ukrainian presidential aide said. The United Nations human rights agency has put the civilian toll at more than 7,000.

* Ukrainian authorities called off the search for survivors in the ruins of an apartment building destroyed during Russian missile attacks on Saturday on the central city of Dnipro. A total of 45 people were confirmed killed.

* The training of Ukrainian officers to operate the Patriot advanced long-range air defence system will last 10 weeks, Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.

DIPLOMACY

* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of preparing the ground for the conflict in Ukraine as part of what he called a hybrid war against Moscow.

* The European Union’s chairman Charles Michel spoke in favour of the West providing tanks to Ukraine to help it fight against Russia’s invasion.

ECONOMY

* Russia’s Gazprom said it will ship 32.6 million cubic metres of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday, a volume in line with recent days but around 20% lower than daily shipments recorded in the final months of last year.

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