NATO chief warns against underestimating Russia

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OSLO, Jan 5 (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday it would be dangerous to underestimate Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions amid the war in Ukraine.

“They have shown a great willingness to tolerate losses and suffering,” Stoltenberg told a business conference in Norway.

“We have no indication that President Putin has changed his plans and goals in Ukraine. So it’s dangerous to underestimate Russia.”

In Other Developments

* Ukraine’s military estimated that 800 Russian soldiers were killed in the past day, mostly in fighting in the eastern Donetsk region, while Western allies pledged supplies of armoured battle vehicles but not the tanks Ukraine wants.

FIGHTING

* Ukraine’s military said Russian forces were focused on an offensive in the Bakhmut sector and its attacks in the Avdiivka and Kupiansk sectors were unsuccessful.

* It also reported an unspecified number of civilian casualties as a result of Russian air, missile and rocket attacks on the largely ruined, Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut and two other cities in the Donetsk region – Kostiantynivka and Kurakhove.

* The Ukrainian deputy defence minister said significant Russian losses meant Moscow would likely have to announce a second partial mobilisation in the first quarter of the year.

* Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

* President Vladimir Putin sent a frigate to the Atlantic Ocean armed with new generation hypersonic cruise missiles.

* Germany is looking for further ways to help Ukraine to protect its people and infrastructure, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, stressing that any dip in Europe’s resolve on the issue would serve as a boon to Moscow.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Ukraine’s gross domestic product fell by 30.4% in 2022 – the largest annual fall in more than 30 years – because of the war with Russia, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said.

DIPLOMACY

* French President Macron told Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in a phone call his government would send light AMX-10 RC armoured combat vehicles.

* U.S. President Biden said that sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine was being considered. The armoured vehicle with a powerful gun has been used as a staple by the U.S. Army to carry troops around battlefields since the mid-1980s.

* The United States is looking at ways to target Iranian drone production through sanctions and export controls, the White House said. Washington previously imposed sanctions on companies and people it accused of producing or transferring Iranian drones that Russia has used against Ukraine.

Photo courtesy Russian MOD

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