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Ukraine war latest: Defense Minister proposes international working group to withdraw Russian troops

by Alexander Khrebet and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 14, 2024 11:57 PM 6 min read
Attendees at the fourth meeting of national security advisors regarding the Peace Formula in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 14, 2024. (Rustem Umerov/Facebook)
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Key developments on Jan. 13-14:

  • Russia targets regions across Ukraine in mass missile attack
  • Umerov proposes international working group to withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine
  • French foreign minister visits Kyiv
  • Swiss diplomat says China needs to help end Russia's war
  • Russian drone attack injures 4 firefighters in Kherson Oblast
  • Zaluzhnyi spends several days with top commanders near front line
  • Yermak says 80 countries attend Ukraine Peace Formula meeting at Davos

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov has proposed on Jan. 14 an international working group on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

Umerov presented the plan at the fourth meeting of national security advisors regarding the Peace Formula in Davos, Switzerland. He suggested creating a group at the level of Ministers of Defense and National Security Advisors to “jointly work out a mechanism for the withdrawal of (Russian) troops.”

“It's impossible to talk about restoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine without the complete withdrawal and disarmament of Russian troops and terrorist organizations from the temporarily occupied territories,” Umerov wrote.

President Volodymyr Zelensky presented the 10-point Ukrainian Peace Formula in 2022, which includes the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory. Currently, 83 countries support the peace plan.

This is the second large-scale event organized in Switzerland to support Ukraine after the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano in July 2022.

The Davos meeting had 39 countries from Europe, 18 from Asia, 12 from Africa, six from South America, three from North America and two from Oceania, Zelensky's Head of Office Andriy Yermak said.

According to the Swiss Foreign Ministry statement, the main goal of the meetings is “to finalize the talks at the level of national security advisers on principles for a lasting and just peace in Ukraine.”

Swiss diplomat: China needs to help end war in Ukraine

China needs to be involved in efforts to end Russia's war in Ukraine, Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis told a news conference in Davos on Jan. 14.

China was not attended the meetings of national security advisers on Ukraine’s Peace Formula at Davos.

“China plays a significant role. We must find ways to work with China on this,” Cassis said after a meeting of top diplomats.

“A peace for the Ukrainian people is urgently necessary… We must do everything to end this war.”

The 10 different parts of Ukraine’s peace plan have been discussed with 10 working groups at the national security advisors level. Switzerland, in particular, has been involved in working groups on nuclear safety, food security, and the war's end.

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Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities

Russia used 37 missiles, including six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and three attack drones to target regions across Ukraine in a mass attack on the morning of Jan. 13. One civilian reported injured.

Ukrainian air defenses shot down seven Kh-101 cruise missiles and one Kh-59 guided cruise missile launched by Russia overnight and interrupted the trajectories of over 20 other weapons using electromagnetic countermeasures, the Air Force reported on Jan. 13.

The Air Force believes Russia launched as many as 12 Kh-101 missiles and four Kh-59 missiles.

Russia launched missiles at the city of Shostka in Sumy Oblast in north-eastern Ukraine at around 7:30 a.m., injuring one woman and leaving 12,000 residents without heating for most of the morning, the region's Military Administration said.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, at least 26 buildings were damaged and preliminary information indicates that Russian forces used Kh-22 anti-ship missiles in the strike.

Explosions were heard in Chernihiv Oblast in the north of Ukraine. Governor Vyacheslav Chaus confirmed that air defense had been at work in the region and that Russia's attack had caused damage in an unspecified location.

The missiles were reportedly downed in Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Khmelnytskyi, Rivne oblasts.

Explosions were also heard in the city of Kropyvnytskyi, the regional capital of the Kirovohrad Oblast. Governor Andrii Raikovych also reported that there were no casualties in the region.

The attack come as part of another series of large-scale attacks across Ukraine. From December, Russian forces launched hundreds of missiles, loitering munitions across Ukraine, killing dozens and injured hundreds. Critical infrastructure and industrial, civilian, and military facilities have come under attack.

On Jan. 14, a Russian kamikaze drone struck a fire station and injured four firefighters in the village of Stanislav in Kherson Oblast, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported.

The victims suffered concussions and cranial injuries, but all four declined hospitalization after receiving first aid, according to the report.

The day before, a Russian artillery barrage hit residential neighborhoods and water port infrastructure in Kherson, the regional capital, injuring six people were injured.

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Zaluzhnyi visits front line positions with top commanders

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine'a Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi spent several days with the top commanders near the front lines in the south and east, discussing future operations in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and Donetsk oblasts.

According to a post published on Zaluzhnyi's official Telegram channel on Jan. 14, Zaluzhnyi and Chief of the General Staff Serhii Shaptala worked with brigade commanders in the Tavria and Odesa force groupings.

They devised steps to maximize troop effectiveness given the available resources, according to the report.

Meeting the navy, they discussed the situation in the Black Sea, where Ukraine continues its campaign against the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Zaluzhnyi and Shaptala along with Defense Minister Rustem Umerov visited Ukrainian army positions near Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast on Jan. 9, the military reported.

Liberated from Russian occupation during Ukraine's counteroffensive in September 2022, Kupiansk has been a critical target for renewed Russian offensives, as it serves as a key logistics hub for a potential push further south or west.

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French FM in Kyiv

Newly-appointed French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne arrived in Kyiv, France's Foreign Ministry announced on Jan. 13.

Sejourne, who was appointed foreign minister on Jan. 11, posted on X that “France's aid is long-term. This is exactly what I came to say during my first visit to Kyiv.”

“For almost two years, Ukraine has been on the front line to defend its sovereignty and ensure the security of Europe,” Sejourne said.

Sejourne met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba upon his arrival.

Sejourne became foreign minister following the appointment of new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal on Jan. 9. Attal, aged 34, is France's youngest-ever prime minister.

France is set to host an “artillery coalition” conference to strengthen the Ukrainian army in Paris later in January.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Jan. 12 that his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov will come to Paris on Jan. 18 to launch the opening of the event.

France has provided Ukraine with military aid worth 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion), according to a report from the French parliament published in November 2023.

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