Thursday, July 28, 2022

Ukraine’s Allies Seek to Bolster Its Air Defenses With Jet Fighters and Training; The Ukrainian fighters standing in Russia’s way on eastern front; Ukraine shelling triggers fire at Donetsk oil depot; Zelensky urges Biden to visit Ukraine to send ‘strongest signal’ of support, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Ukraine’s Allies Seek to Bolster Its Air Defenses With Jet Fighters and Training:
The Biden administration, prompted by Kyiv’s recent successes in blunting Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, has begun reversing course on potentially providing advanced weapons like fighter aircraft that it earlier said could escalate the conflict with Moscow.
On Friday, the White House announced that the Pentagon was exploring ways to provide Ukraine with jet fighters, following a U.S. Air Force statement that it is looking at training Ukrainian pilots to defend their airspace with NATO-compatible aircraft. North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies in Central Europe are already moving toward providing Soviet-era jet fighters to Ukraine.
The transfer of Western jets could be months away, U.S. officials said. But senior U.S. and European officials have already signaled that NATO member nations are willing to deploy their air forces to monitor the airspace of allies that give aircraft to Ukraine. And U.S. officials publicly acknowledged this month they are looking at the monthslong process of training Ukraine’s air force to bring it up to NATO standards.
“You know, in the very beginning, Ukraine was provided with hand-held rockets. It was considered to be the safe option of what to provide Ukraine with,” said Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský. “Now we are talking about tanks, [armored personnel carriers], jet fighters. The Czech Republic has provided helicopters. Almost all limits have been breached.”
The changed posture, Western officials and analysts said, stems in part from Ukraine’s tenacious battlefield performance and a tacit understanding that Kyiv is likely to lean closer to the NATO alliance in the future.
Before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Ukraine’s military was composed largely of Russian weapons and equipment. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have provided a stream of NATO weapons. They have steadily raised the bar for the sophistication and lethality of the military equipment to meet Ukrainian forces’ needs on the battlefield.
Slovakia, a NATO member, said this month it is considering giving Ukraine its 11 Soviet-made MiG-29 aircraft, while the Czech Republic and Poland have agreed to monitor Slovakia’s airspace starting in September, and to use their military aircraft to respond to any incidents, officials from the three countries said. --->READ MORE HERE
REUTERS/Marko Djurica
The Ukrainian fighters standing in Russia’s way on eastern front:
Barely a kilometre from Russian positions defending the captured eastern city of Izium, Ukrainian and foreign fighters hunker in a dank basement. Artillery rains down on them most nights, shaking loose the plaster and filling the air with dust.
At the sharp end of efforts to stop the Russian army's progress in eastern Ukraine are the Carpathian Sich battalion, a unit of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who answered Kyiv's call for help to confront the invader.
"Now it's more of an artillery war. It's a tougher war, a scarier war, where only people who are strong in their spirit can fight," said Dzvin, a field commander in the battalion who asked to be identified by his nom de guerre for security reasons, due to his leadership role.
The fighters say they are bound together by a fierce commitment to Ukraine that is now being put to a punishing test.
"Each of our warriors understands that at some point they will come eye to eye with a tank," Dzvin said.
The unit recently captured one almost intact. But it must also contend with Russian drones - which the fighters refer to as "black clouds" – that help direct deadly artillery fire onto their positions. --->READ MORE HERE
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