“The point is simple: fulfill them for your own good. Otherwise, the question will be decided by the Russian army.
Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, calling it a “special operation” to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine, which he said posed a threat to Russia. Kyiv and the West say Putin’s invasion was just an imperialist land grab.
While Moscow had planned a swift operation to take control of its neighbour, the war is now in its 11th month, marked by numerous embarrassing setbacks on the Russian battlefield and Ukraine’s successful defense of most of his lands.
Russian forces have been engaged for months in heavy fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine, to defend the lands that Moscow declared annexed in September and which constitute Ukraine’s industrial region of Donbass.
Ukraine’s military high command said on Monday that Russian forces had carried out 19 attacks in the past day in the region. The Russian Defense Ministry said it had advanced its positions in the area and its missile troops and artillery had hit 63 Ukrainian units the previous day.
In his Monday night video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the situation along the front line in Donbass as “difficult and painful”.
“Bakhmut, Kreminna and other areas of Donbass…require maximum strength and concentration,” Zelensky said.
“The occupiers are deploying all the resources at their disposal – and they are considerable resources – to make some sort of advance.”
Oleh Zhdanov, a Kyiv-based military analyst, said heavy fighting was taking place around high areas near Kreminna in the Luhansk region.
He also said fighting had resumed along Bakhmut and Avdiivka, a line of contact further south in the Donetsk region, after a brief slack in the previous days as Russian forces launched a series of attacks in the region.
“The arc of fire in the Donetsk region continues to burn. There has been very little change on either side of the frontline in the Donetsk region,” Zhdanov said in a video post on social media.
Zelensky said that as a result of Russia’s targeting of energy infrastructure, nearly nine million people were without power. This figure represents about a quarter of the Ukrainian population.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians died in towns razed by Russia and thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed, forcing Putin to call up hundreds of thousands of reservists for the first time since World War II.
Moscow announced on Monday that it shot down a drone believed to be Ukrainian, causing it to crash into Engels airbase, where three servicemen were killed. Ukraine made no comment, in accordance with its usual policy on incidents inside Russia.
A suspected drone hit the same base on December 5.
The base, the main bomber airfield that Kyiv says Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, is hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
The same planes are also designed to launch nuclear-capable missiles as part of Russia’s long-term strategic deterrence.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that no planes were damaged, but Russian and Ukrainian social media accounts said several were destroyed. Reuters was unable to independently verify the information.
Putin hosted the leaders of other former Soviet states in St. Petersburg on Monday for a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States group, which Ukraine has long left.
The invasion of Ukraine was a test of Russia’s longstanding authority among other ex-Soviet states.
In televised remarks, Putin made no direct reference to the war, while saying that threats to the security and stability of the Eurasian region were increasing.
“Unfortunately, the challenges and threats in this area, especially from outside, are only growing every year,” he said.
“We must also unfortunately recognize that disagreements also arise between Commonwealth member states.”
Russia gives Ukraine ultimatum: Comply with demands or our military will decide – Reuters