Death toll rises after Russian strikes in Dnipro, Ukraine, with 35 dead, including two children

Eva Deschamps / January 16, 2023

The death toll from the weekend strike in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, rose to at least 35 on Monday, the day after NATO announced that it would be sending new heavy Western weapons. For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of a "positive dynamic" for his troops on the frontline and Russian-Belarusian military air exercises began earlier this week in Belarus, a country allied with Russia, Minsk assuring that they were only "defensive" in nature.
 
According to Ukrainian regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko, the Russian strike that destroyed a building in Dnipro on Saturday killed at least 35 people, including two children, and injured dozens. "39 people were saved, 75 were injured," he added on social networks. He said that "the fate of another 35 residents of the building is unknown", while rescue operations are continuing.
 
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that Vladimir Putin had "overestimated the strength" of his troops by invading Ukraine. "We see their missteps, their lack of morale, their command problems, their poor equipment" and their "heavy losses," he told German daily Handelsblatt. "The recent (Western) pledges to deliver heavy weaponry are important - and I expect there to be more in the near future," he added, just days before a new coordination meeting in Germany on January 20 of Western countries providing aid to Ukraine.
 
The West has long been reluctant to deliver heavier weaponry to Kiev, fearing that they would be drawn into the war. But in early January, France, Germany and the United States finally promised to send infantry tanks or reconnaissance tanks - 40 German Marders, 50 American Bradleys and French AMX-10 RCs. 
The United Kingdom announced on Saturday that it would deliver 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine "in the next few weeks" - the first country to supply Western-made heavy tanks to Kiev. Russian diplomacy said that this arms shipment would "in no way accelerate the end of military hostilities, but only intensify them".
Kiev had already received from its allies heavy tanks of Soviet design - nearly 300 - but none of Western manufacture. Poland said on Wednesday that it was ready to deliver 14 German Leopard 2 heavy tanks, which requires the approval of Berlin.
 
While his army seems to be struggling against Western-backed Ukrainian forces, Vladimir Putin assured that "everything is going according to plan" in an interview on Russian state television broadcast on Sunday. "The momentum is positive and everything is going according to the plans of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff. I hope that our fighters will delight us more than once with their military achievements," he said, after a question from a journalist of the Rossia-1 channel about the "news from Soledar", which the Russian army claimed to have conquered on Friday.
 
The capture of this small Ukrainian town was presented in Moscow as a success but the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Ganna Maliar assured Sunday evening that the Ukrainian forces had held their positions in Soledar. "The battle for Soledar, for Bakhmut, for the whole Donetsk region, for the Lugansk region continues without any respite," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
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