MoD pinpoints ‘significant’ hit to Russian air squad in win for Kyiv

China supporting Russia would be 'a mistake' says Sullivan

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Russia’s loss of one of their seven £274 million A-50 spy planes is “significant” because it is “critical” to the nation’s air operations as Putin would lose part of his ability to build an “air battlespace picture”, the British Ministry of Defence has claimed. After reports emerged on Sunday that a Belarusian anti-government group had used two drones to attack the Machulishchy airfield, where Russian military planes conducting operations in Ukraine are being held, the MoD suggested on Tuesday morning that the attack, if corroborated, could amount to disaster for Putin.

The attack was claimed by the leader of the Belarusian anti-government organisation BYPOL, Aliaksandr Azarov, on Sunday.

Russian airborne early warning aircraft the Beriev A-50, also known as Mainstay, is designed to monitor enemy airspace and detect incoming aircraft, as well as coordinate and direct combat operations. It has the capacity to monitor up to 60 targets simultaneously.

The military surveillance plane was spotted leaving the Belarussian Machulishchy airfield on January 19, accompanied by Russian Mig-31 jets, as part of joint air drills.

The British Ministry of Defence, reporting on the claims that parts of this aircraft have now been destroyed, said: “The loss of an A-50 MAINSTAY would be significant as it is critical to Russian air operations for providing an air battlespace picture.

“This will likely leave 6 operational A-50s in service, further constraining Russian air operations.”


Russia scrambles fighters jets and closes air space in St Petersburg

Russia has scrambled fighter jets to investigate alleged reports of an unidentified object in their air space, forcing the closure of nearby airports and several flights to be sent back to where they had departed. 

Russia state media has reported that the airspace within a radius of 200km of St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport is closed until 10.20 GMT (1.20pm local time).

The airport has also now temporarily suspended all its flights today, the city government said on its Telegram channel, after five planes flying from Moscow to St Petersburg were sent home after circling the air earlier this morning. 

Ukrainian officials have claimed that this is part of Russia’s “Carpet” plan, which is used when the border is illegally crossed or unidentified flying objects appear.

You can read the full story here. 

Russia ‘destroying everything’ in fight for Bakhmut

Russia is using “tactics of exhaustion and total destruction” on the eastern frontlines, increasing the number of soldiers in the area and making the situation “more and more difficult”, particularly in the city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian officials have said. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia is “constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect [Ukrainian] positions” in the city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces are trying to encircle. 

In his nightly address on Monday, he said: “Bakhmut direction – the situation is getting more and more difficult. The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions, to gain a foothold and ensure defence.”

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, told Ukrainian television earlier: “Vicious battles are going on there. The command is doing everything it can to stop the enemy from advancing through our territory.” 

Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defence, said Russia is “increasing the intensity of its assaults” using “tactics of exhaustion and total destruction”.

In a Telegram post late on Monday night, she said: “To put it briefly and simply: the situation at the front is complicated. The enemy army is increasing the intensity of its assaults. The most difficult situation remains in the Bakhmut direction.

“During offensive operations, the enemy uses tactics of exhaustion and total destruction.”

China ‘very clearly’ taking Russia’s side in Ukraine war despite peace talk, says US

China has been “anything but an honest broker” in its handling of the geopolitical situation in eastern Europe,  US department of state spokesperson Ned Price has said, for its talk of peace is undermined by its “diplomatic, political, economic and rhetorical support” of Russia. 

While China is yet to provide any military assistance to Vladimir Putin’s war efforts in Ukraine, and has called for a ceasefire and peace between the fighting nations, at a news briefing on Monday Mr Price accused the Asian superpower of “attempting to maintain a veneer of neutrality”. 

But he said that such a position was untenable given China’s various forms of support to Russia, including buying huge amounts of its European Union-sanctioned oil, as well as refusing to condemn the war against Ukraine at the latest G20 summit in India last week. 

According to a transcript of the press briefing published by the US department of state, Price said:

“The PRC has told the world that, essentially, it is not taking a position, but rather it has tried to portray itself as an honest broker. In word and in deed, however, the PRC has been anything but an honest broker.

“Leaving aside the question of lethal assistance – which we don’t believe the PRC has provided yet, but we do believe it is considering – leaving that aside, the PRC has already provided important forms of assistance to Russia, including in the context of its aggression against Ukraine. 

“It’s provided Russia with diplomatic support, with political support, with economic support, with rhetorical support, including by parroting Russia’s dangerous propaganda, dangerous lies, and disinformation on the world stage.”

British Ministry of Defence releases daily update on Ukraine

Here is the British Ministry of Defence’s full update on the war in Ukraine, focusing on the potential destruction of the Russian A-50 spy plane. 

They described the damages as potentially as “significant as they are critical” to Russia’s air surveillance programme. 

The attacks, which occurred on Sunday in Belarus, were claimed by the exiled anti-government group BYPOL. 

Good morning

Good morning from London. I’m Tom Watling. I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @TomAWatling

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