Key developments on Jan. 28:
- Sky News: Ukrainian Navy Commander signals Kyiv would win faster if there's permission to fire Western weapons deep inside Russia
- Germany's finance minister says Europe must do more to support Ukraine
- Washington Post: Russia aims to create new world order via alliance with China
- SBU uncovers mass fraud in weapons procurement
- Russian attacks in Kherson, Donetsk oblasts injure five
Ukrainian Navy Commander Oleksii Neizhpapa told Sky News that the state of the war would have been very different if allies had not given restrictions to Kyiv on the use of Western weapons.
In an interview published on Jan. 27, Vice Admiral Neizhpapa signaled Kyiv would be able to win the war faster if it had permission to fire Western weapons against targets inside Russia, Sky News reported.
"We must have the capabilities to make sure that Russia will give up forever the thought of even looking in Ukraine's direction, including at sea," Neizhpapa said, as quoted by Sky News.
Throughout the full-scale war, Ukraine has regularly struck Russia's Black Sea fleet, with the best-known strike being the sinking of the Russian navy missile cruiser Moskva, estimated to be worth $750 million in April 2022.
In October 2023, U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said that Ukraine's recent attacks on Russia's Black Sea Fleet have led to the "functional defeat" of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea.
These strikes have caused "almost certainly severe" damage to the fleet, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Sept. 26. The fleet's ability to continue wider regional security patrols and enforce its de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports is therefore likely reduced, it added.
According to Sky News, the Sept. 22 attack was carried out using U.K.-provided long-range Storm Shadow missiles.
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, the General Staff has reported that Ukraine destroyed 23 Russian ships and boats.
Washington Post: Russia aims to create new world order via alliance with China
Russia is attempting to deepen its economic and diplomatic ties with China and the Global South to allow it to challenge the international financial system dominated by the U.S. and to undermine the West, the Washington Post reported.
The Kremlin convened meetings in 2022 and 2023 to find ways to dismantle the post-World War II global financial system and undermine the U.S.' power over global transactions, documents obtained by the Washington Post showed.
“One of the most important tasks is to create a new world order,” one of the documents dated April 3, 2023, reportedly said.
Another document, reportedly written by a close ally of Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, advocated for more cooperation between China and Russia on artificial intelligence and cyber systems.
The document reportedly envisioned a new financial system and an Eurasian digital currency based on alternative payment systems between Russia and China to bypass the U.S. dominance of global financial transactions through the dollar.
While Beijing has supported Moscow diplomatically and economically despite the West's push to isolate Russia, it has thus far refrained from providing direct military assistance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a meeting in March that Russia planned to continue its war against Ukraine for “at least five years,” Nikkei Asia reported on Dec. 28, citing its anonymous sources.
The article follows media reports suggesting that Putin may be ready for a ceasefire in case Russia keeps the territories it illegally occupies in Ukraine, while the West's strategy on supporting Ukraine is leaning towards preparing conditions for Kyiv-Moscow talks.
Putin's statement likely meant to imply that a prolonged war would benefit Russia and warn Xi not to change his pro-Russian stance, the media outlet added.
Xi traveled to Moscow on March 20 at Putin's invitation for his first state visit to Russia since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Germany's finance minister says Europe must do more to support Ukraine
Germany is "doing its part" to support Ukraine and will "mobilize even more if necessary," but Europe must do more, said German Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Jan. 28.
Germany was widely criticized in the immediate aftermath of Russia's full-scale invasion for the country's sluggish and overly cautious approach to providing aid to Ukraine, considering its status as the EU's biggest economy.
It has since significantly increased its military support for Ukraine, becoming the second-largest provider of military aid behind the U.S.
Lindner's comments echo those made by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said earlier in January that Germany's military support for Ukraine is insufficient to compensate for the deficit from other EU countries.
"It cannot be the case that Germany does more so that others can continue to do too little," said Lindner at the European Liberal Party Conference in Berlin.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in November that the EU would fall short of its goal of providing one million shells to Ukraine by March 2024.
The bloc's plan to ramp up shell production to boost Ukraine's artillery capabilities has been plagued by bureaucracy and protectionism of individual countries, an investigation by the Kyiv Independent and its partners revealed.
Ukraine's need for munition supplies becomes ever more pressing as Russia is boosting its defense budget for 2024 and was reportedly able to secure over one million shells from North Korea, while political infighting in Washington causes cutbacks in U.S. military support for Kyiv.
Martin Herem, the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, said on Jan. 24 that NATO has underestimated Russia's ability to supply its war in Ukraine, and Russian production of artillery shells is far outstripping European efforts.
SBU uncovers mass fraud in weapons procurement
Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) announced on Jan. 27 the discovery of a corruption scheme related to the procurement of almost 100,000 mortar shells, amounting to nearly $40 million.
While Ukraine strives to attain European Union membership and sustain morale as the full-out war with Russia approaches its third year, the ongoing struggle to eliminate corruption continues to be a significant challenge.
The SBU said the investigation had "exposed officials of the Ministry of Defense and managers of arms supplier Lviv Arsenal, who stole nearly UAH 1.5 billion in the purchase of shells."
The individuals implicated in the embezzlement include both former and current high-ranking officials from the Defense Ministry, as well as heads of associated companies.
A contract for shells was secured with Lviv Arsenal in August 2022, six months into the full-scale invasion, according to the SBU.
The payment was made upfront, including the transfer of funds abroad. However, no arms were delivered, and a portion of the funds was subsequently moved to other foreign accounts.
According to the statement, charges have been issued to five individuals, encompassing both the ministry and the arms supplier. One suspect was reportedly detained while attempting to cross the Ukrainian border.
Russian attacks in Kherson, Donetsk oblasts injure five
Russian forces attacked Kherson Oblast on Jan. 28, injuring at least two people, including an 89-year-old woman, the Kherson Oblast Military Administration reported.
In the village of Mykhailivka, Russian forces struck a civilian building, wounding an 89-year-old woman in the abdomen. The oblast's military administration said at 2:10 p.m. local time that an ambulance was on the way to help her.
In Beryslav, Russian forces dropped an explosive device from a drone, injuring a 54-year-old man. The oblast's military administration said he was taken to the hospital with a leg wound and other injuries related to the explosion.
Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said earlier on Jan. 28 that Russian attacks in Kherson Oblast over the previous day had killed one person and wounded two more.
Ukraine's Armed Forces liberated Kherson and other regional settlements on the western bank of the Dnipro River in November 2022.
Russian troops were pushed to the eastern bank and have since been firing at the liberated territories, regularly resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.
An overnight Russian strike on Myrnohrad in Donetsk Oblast wounded three, including a child, the regional Prosecutor's Office said on Jan. 28.
A 15-year-old boy and a 35-year-old man suffered mine-blast injuries, cut wounds, and bruises, and a 30-year-old was diagnosed with a head injury, according to the Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office. All victims received emergency care after the attack at around 1.30 a.m. on Jan. 28.
In addition to the injuries, 14 apartment buildings, educational institutions, and nine cars were damaged, the Prosecutor's Office said.
"Prosecutors continue to take all possible and appropriate measures to document Russian war crimes against the civilian population of the region," the statement on Facebook said.