Category Archives: World

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Pope Francis Visits Children in Hospital, Will Be Discharged Saturday

Pope Francis baptized a baby and greeted children in Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Friday as he appeared to make a rapid recovery from a bout of bronchitis that caused him to be hospitalized earlier this week. 

Francis will return home on Saturday, the Vatican said, and is scheduled to take part in a Palm Sunday service the following day to mark the start of Easter Week celebrations. 

“After evaluating the results of the examinations carried out today and the favorable clinical progress, (the medical team) has confirmed the Holy Father’s discharge from the Gemelli Hospital tomorrow,” a Vatican statement said. 

The pope, 86, was taken to hospital two days ago after complaining of breathing difficulties. He was diagnosed with bronchitis and has responded well to an infusion of antibiotics, his medical team has said. 

Highlighting the pope’s improved health, the Vatican released a video showing him standing up and baptizing a baby who was in a hospital cot. In a separate photograph, Francis was shown handing an Easter egg to a young child.  

The Vatican said he stayed about 30 minutes in the children’s cancer and neurosurgery wards before returning to his own room. 

The dean of the college of cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, has said cardinals will help the pope during Easter celebrations this coming week and take care of altar duties.  

Holy Week, as it is known, includes a busy schedule of rituals and ceremonies that can be physically exhausting, including a Good Friday nighttime procession by Rome’s Colosseum. 

The pope was also forced to follow some of last Easter’s events seated, due to persistent knee pain, with cardinals celebrating some of the Masses in his place. 

Francis, who marked the 10th anniversary of his pontificate earlier this month, has suffered a number of ailments in recent years. He was last hospitalized in July 2021 when he had part of his colon removed in an operation aimed at addressing a painful bowel condition called diverticulitis. 

“When experienced with faith, the trials and difficulties of life serve to purify our hearts, making them humbler and thus more and more open to God,” the pope tweeted on Friday.  

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Indonesia, Russia Sign Extradition Agreement 

Indonesia and Russia signed an extradition agreement Friday to strengthen cooperation against transnational crimes. It is the first extradition agreement Indonesia has reached with a European country.

Indonesian Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly said, “This agreement is a very important step because it will help Indonesia to take legal actions in combating transnational crimes, ranging from cybercrime, money laundering, narcotics, corruption and others.”

He did not elaborate on the details of the agreement or any specific figure that was targeted by Indonesia or Russia. But he added, “Although the mechanism for repatriating the perpetrators of criminal acts can also be carried out through deportation and immigration cooperation, this extradition cooperation will remain the main option because it’s formal and binding [to] us.”

The extradition agreement is a continuation of the mutual legal assistance agreement (MLA) in criminal matters that was signed in Moscow on December 13, 2019.

“After having [the] MLA, and now followed by [the] extradition agreement, it will further strengthen our cooperation,” said Yasonna.

Indonesia has had diplomatic ties with Russia since 1950 and its relations have remained good despite the war in Ukraine.

In a press statement sent by the Russian Embassy in Jakarta to VOA, Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko said having the extradition treaty with Indonesia “was an important step for us in fighting transnational crime, protecting crime victims, and restoring justice and security.”

He said the agreement would address “a number of issues in interstate legal cooperation and prospects for cooperation in the legal assistance in civil and commercial matters, the transfers of prisoners and improvement of regulation in nonprofit sectors.”

In his speech, Yasonna referred to Russia’s strategic position as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the Group of 20 large economies and the Eurasian Economic Union that he hopes “can also help Indonesia in building its reputation and credibility in terms of security and law enforcement, as well as open a wider network of cooperation with countries that have already had cooperation with Russia.”

The signing of this extradition agreement was in line with President Joko Widodo’s directive to make Indonesia a member of the Financial Action Task Force “to assist and maintain the stability and integrity of the financial system and law enforcement, which focuses on eradicating money laundering” as well as the financing of terrorist activity.

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Russia Sends Bombs as Ukraine Marks Grim Bucha Anniversary

Russia used its long-range arsenal to bombard anew several areas of Ukraine on Friday, killing at least two civilians and damaging homes as Ukrainians commemorated the anniversary of the liberation of Bucha from a brutal occupation by the Kremlin’s forces.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Bucha, a town near Kyiv, stands as a symbol of the atrocities the Russian military has committed since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.

“We will not let it be forgotten,” Zelenskyy said at a formal ceremony in Bucha, vowing to punish those who committed outrages in the town. “Human dignity will not let it be forgotten. On the streets of Bucha, the world has seen Russian evil. Evil unmasked.”

At the same time as the Bucha commemorations, the Kremlin-allied president of Belarus raised the stakes in the 13-month war when he said that Russian strategic nuclear weapons might be deployed in his country, along with part of Moscow’s tactical nuclear arsenal.

Moscow said earlier this week it planned to place in neighboring Belarus tactical nuclear weapons that are comparatively short-range and low-yield. Strategic nuclear weapons such as missile-borne warheads would bring a greater threat.

Zelenskyy dedicated his attention to an official ceremony in Bucha, where he was joined by the president of the Republic of Moldova and the prime ministers of Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The Kremlin’s forces occupied Bucha weeks after they invaded Ukraine and stayed for about a month. When Ukrainian troops retook the town, they encountered horrific scenes: bodies of women, young and old men, in civilian clothing, lying in the street where they had fallen or in yards and homes.

Other bodies were found in a mass grave. Over weeks and months, hundreds of bodies were uncovered, including some of children.

Russian soldiers on intercepted phone conversations called it “zachistka” — cleansing, according to an investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline.”

Such organized cruelty — used by Russian troops in past conflicts as well, notably in Chechnya — was later repeated in Russia-occupied territories across Ukraine.

Zelenskyy handed out medals to soldiers, police, doctors, teachers and emergency services in Bucha, as well as to families of two soldiers killed during the defense of the Kyiv region.

“Ukrainian people, you have stopped the biggest anti-human force of our times,” he said. “You have stopped the force which has no respect and wants to destroy everything that gives meaning to human life.”

More than 1,400 civilian deaths, including 37 children, were documented by Ukrainian authorities, Zelenskyy said.

More than 175 people were found in mass graves and alleged torture chambers, according to Zelenskyy. Ukraine and other countries, including the U.S., have demanded that Russia answer for war crimes.

Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin alleged Friday that many of the dead civilians were tortured. Almost 100 Russian soldiers are suspected of war crimes, he said on his Telegram channel, and indictments have been issued for 35 of them.

Two Russian servicemen have already been sentenced by a Ukrainian court to 12 years in prison for illegal deprivation of liberty of civilians and looting.

“I am convinced that all these crimes are not a coincidence. This is part of Russia’s planned strategy aimed at destroying Ukraine as a state and Ukrainians as a nation,” Kostin said.

In Geneva, the U.N. human rights chief said his office has so far verified the deaths of more than 8,400 civilians in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion — a count believed to be far short of the true toll.

Volker Türk told the U.N. Human Rights Council that “severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have become shockingly routine” amid Russia’s invasion.

As well as making an announcement about possibly having Russian strategic nuclear weapons on his country’s soil, the Belarusian president also unexpectedly called for a cease-fire in Ukraine without making any reference about how the two developments might be connected.

A truce, Lukashenko said in his state-of-the-nation address in Minsk on Friday, must be announced without any preconditions and all movement of troops and weapons must be halted.

“It’s necessary to stop now until an escalation begins,” Lukashenko said, adding that an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive using Western-supplied weapons would bring “an irreversible escalation of the conflict.”

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that Russia has to keep fighting, claiming Ukraine has rejected any talks under pressure from its Western allies.

Peskov also dismissed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s remarks about the European Union mulling the deployment of sending peacekeeping troops to Ukraine as “extremely dangerous.”

Russia has maintained its bombardment of Ukraine with the war already into its second year.

As well as killing at least two civilians in Ukraine, 14 other civilians were wounded early Friday as Russia launched missiles, shells, exploding drones and gliding bombs, the Ukraine presidential office said.

Two Russian missiles hit the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk region, damaging eight residential buildings. Throughout the Donetsk region, one civilian was killed and five others wounded by the strikes, the office said.

Nine Russian missiles struck Kharkiv, damaging residential buildings, roads, gas stations and a prison. The Russians also used exploding drones to attack the Kharkiv region.

Russian forces also shelled the southern city of Kherson, killing one resident and wounding two others. The village of Lviv in the Kherson region was struck by gliding bombs that damaged about 10 houses.

The barrage also hit the city of Zaporizhzhia, and its outskirts, causing major fires.

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Finland’s NATO Membership: What’s Next?

Finland received the green light to join NATO when Turkey ratified the Nordic country’s membership late Thursday, becoming the last country in the 30-member Western military alliance to sign off.

All NATO members must vote unanimously to admit a new country. into the alliance. The decision by the Turkish parliament followed Hungary’s ratification of Finland’s bid earlier in the week.

The addition of Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia, will more than double the size of NATO’s border with Russia.

However, a few more steps and procedures are required before the northern European nation becomes the 31st full NATO member:

Acceptance letters

Turkey and Hungary dispatch acceptance letters to the United States which is the depositary, or safekeeper, of NATO under the alliance’s 1949 founding treaty. The letters will be filed in the archives of the U.S. State Department, which will notify NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that the conditions for inviting Finland to become a member were met.


NATO sends a letter signed by Stoltenberg inviting Finland to join the military alliance.


Finland sends its own acceptance document, signed by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, to the U.S. State Department. Finnish President Sauli Väinämö Niinistö authorized Haavisto to sign the document. Either the Finnish Embassy in Washington or a Finnish government official will deliver the document.

Full membership

Once Finland’s membership acceptance document reaches the State Department in Washington, the country officially becomes a NATO member.


Finland and neighboring Sweden jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022. The countries, which have close cultural, economic and political ties, planned to enter the alliance simultaneously.

Sweden’s bid, however, has stalled due to opposition from Turkey, whose president has said his country wouldn’t ratify membership before disputes between Ankara and Stockholm were resolved. The Turkish government has accused Sweden of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organizations.

Hungary’s parliament also has yet to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO, and it remains unclear when it will do so.

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Britain Claims Post-Brexit Win by Sealing Trans-Pacific Trade Pact Membership

Britain will join 11 other countries in a major Asia-Pacific trade partnership, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Friday, in the country’s biggest post-Brexit trade deal following nearly two years of talks.

Britain will be the first new member since the creation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2018, and the first European country in the bloc.

The trade grouping will include more than 500 million people and account for 15% of global GDP once Britain becomes its 12th member, according to Sunak’s office.

It said Britain’s admission — after 21 months of “intense negotiations” — puts the country “at the heart of a dynamic group of economies” and was evidence of “seizing the opportunities of our new post-Brexit trade freedoms.”

The development fulfils a key pledge of Brexit supporters that, outside the European Union, Britain could capitalize on joining other trade blocs with faster-growing economies than those closer to home.

Critics have argued that such ventures will struggle to compensate for the economic damage sustained by leaving the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc and collective economy.

“We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms,” Sunak said in a statement announcing the deal.

“As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.”

The CPTPP is the successor to a previous trans-Pacific trade pact that the United States withdrew from under former President Donald Trump in 2017.

Its members include fellow G7 members Canada and Japan, and historic British allies Australia and New Zealand.

The remaining members are Mexico, Chile and Peru, along with Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei.

In Tokyo, Japanese government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno welcomed the announcement.

“The UK is a global strategic partner and also an important trading and investment partner,” he told reporters.

Its accession “will have great meaning for forming a free and fair economic order,” he added.


Despite rising geopolitical tensions, in particular with Canberra, China formally applied to join the bloc in 2021.

All existing members must reach a consensus for a new country to enter the CPTPP.

Matsuno said Japan would need to examine whether China and other nations hoping to join can meet the required conditions, and would also consider the “strategic viewpoint” and Japanese public opinion.

Since Britain quit the EU’s single market in 2021, it has been trying to strike bilateral deals to boost its international trade — and flagging economy.

London has so far inked agreements with far-flung allies including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and is in talks with India and Canada.

However, a prized pact with the United States remains stalled.

Britain applied to join the CPTPP in February 2021, kicking off talks later that year in June.

London and the other existing members are poised to take the “final legal and administrative steps required” before Britain will formally sign later this year, Sunak’s Downing Street office said.

It will boost the British economy by $2.2 billion over the long term, it added, citing estimates.

More than 99% of British goods exported to member countries will now be eligible for zero tariffs, including key British exports such as cars, chocolate, machinery and whisky, it added.

British exports to them were already worth $75 billion in the year to the end of September 2022, and are expected to grow once inside the CPTPP, according to Downing Street.

Britain’s dominant services industry will also benefit from “reduced red tape and greater access to growing Pacific markets with an appetite for high-quality UK products and services,” it said.

Matthew Fell, interim head of Britain’s CBI business lobby, called the deal “a real milestone for the UK and for British industry”

“Membership reinforces the UK’s commitment to building partnerships in an increasingly fragmented world,” he said.

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World Court Rules US Illegally Froze Some Iranian Assets

In a partial victory for Iran, judges at the International Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that Washington had illegally allowed courts to freeze assets of some Iranian companies and ordered the United States to pay compensation, the amount of which will be determined later.  

However, in a blow for Tehran, the World Court said it did not have jurisdiction over $1.75 billion in frozen assets from Iran’s central bank.  

Acting Legal Adviser Rich Visek of the U.S. State Department said in a written statement that the ruling rejected the “vast majority of Iran’s case,” notably where it concerned the assets of the central bank.  

“This is a major victory for the United States and victims of Iran’s state-sponsored terrorism,” Visek added.  

In a reaction shared by Iran’s foreign ministry on its Telegram channel, it hailed the decision as “highlighting the legitimacy” of its positions and “expressing the wrongful behavior of the United States.” 

The ruling came amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran after tit-for-tat strikes between Iran-backed forces and U.S. personnel in Syria last week. 

Relations have been strained after attempts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers stalled, and as Iranian drones are being used by Russia against Ukraine. 

Case brought in 2016

The case before the court was initially brought by Tehran against Washington in 2016 for allegedly breaching a 1955 friendship treaty by allowing U.S. courts to freeze assets of Iranian companies. The money was to be given in compensation to victims of terrorist attacks. 

The Islamic Republic denies supporting international terrorism. 

The 1950s friendship treaty was signed long before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed shah, and the subsequent severing of U.S.-Iranian relations.  

Washington finally withdrew from the treaty in 2018. Nonetheless, the court ruled that it was in place at the time of the freezing of the assets of Iranian commercial companies and entities. 

“The court has concluded the United States violated its obligations under (…) the treaty of amity,” presiding judge Kirill Gevorgian said. He added that Iran was entitled to compensation and the parties had 24 months to agree on a figure; if that does not work, the court will start new proceedings to determine the amount to be paid.  

The judges also explained the court had no jurisdiction over the $1.75 billion in assets from Iran’s central bank held by the U.S. because that bank was not a commercial enterprise, and thus not protected by the treaty.  

The rulings of the court are binding, but it has no means of enforcing them. The United States and Iran are among a handful of countries to have disregarded its decisions in the past. 

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Russia Using TikTok to Push Pro-Moscow Narrative on Ukraine

New data is suggesting at least some U.S. adversaries are taking advantage of the hugely popular TikTok video-sharing app for influence operations.

A report Thursday by the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) finds Russia “has been using the app to push its own narrative” in its effort to undermine Western support for Ukraine.

“Based on our analysis, some users are engaging more with Russian state media than other, more reputable independent news outlets on the platform,” according to the report by the U.S.-based election security advocate that tracks official state actors and state-backed media.

“More TikTok users follow RT than The New York Times,” it said.

The ASD report found that as of March 22, there were 78 Russian-funded news outlets on TikTok with a total of more than 14 million followers.

It also found that despite a commitment from TikTok to label the accounts as belonging to state-controlled media, 31 of the accounts were not labeled.

Yet even labeling the accounts seemed to have little impact on their ability to gain an audience.

“By some measures, including the performance of top posts, labeled Russian state media accounts are reaching larger audiences on TikTok than other platforms,” the report said. “RIA Novosti’s top TikTok post so far in 2023 has more than 5.6 million views. On Twitter, its top post has fewer than 20,000 views.”

The report on Russian state media’s use of TikTok comes as U.S. officials are again voicing concern about the potential for TikTok to be used for disinformation campaigns and foreign influence operations.

“Just a tremendous number of people in the United States use TikTok,” John Plumb, the principal cyber adviser to the U.S. secretary of defense, told members of a House Armed Services subcommittee, warning of “the control China may have to direct information through it” and use it as a “misinformation platform.”

“This provides a foreign nation a platform for information operations,” U.S. Cyber Command’s General Paul Nakasone added, noting that TikTok has 150 million users in the United States.

“One-third of the adult population receives their news from this app,” he said. “One-sixth of our children are saying they’re constantly on this app.”

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, has sought to push back against the concerns.

“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told U.S. lawmakers during a hearing last week.

“We do not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government,” he said, trying to downplay fears about the company’s data collection practices and Chinese laws that would require the company to share that information with the Chinese government if asked.U.S. lawmakers, intelligence and security officials, however, have their doubts.

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Marco Rubio, earlier this month warned that TikTok is “probably one of the most valuable surveillance tools on the planet.”

A day later, Cyber Command’s Nakasone told members of the House Intelligence Committee that TikTok is like a “loaded gun,” while FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that TikTok’s recommendation algorithm “could be used to conduct influence operations.”

“That’s not something that would be easily detected,” he added.


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Montenegrin Justice Minister: Do Kwon Extradition Sought by US, South Korea

Authorities in Montenegro say the United States and South Korea have asked the Balkan nation to extradite South Korean Terraform Lab founder Do Kwon, who is suspected in those countries of cryptocurrency fraud amounting to more than $40 billion.

“Two Koreans wanted by South Korea, Do Kwon and the company’s chief financial officer, Han Chang-joon, were detained when they attempted to cross the state border with passports that are reasonably suspected of being forged,” said Montenegrin Justice Minister Marko Kovač at a news conference Wednesday, stating that the United States also requested the extradition of Do Kwon from Montenegro.

Through diplomatic channels

Kovač said that “a meeting was held with the diplomatic representatives of the Republic of Korea at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro, after which a petition for the extradition of these two persons was handed over by the Republic of Korea, while the extradition of Do Kwon was also requested by the U.S.”

“The U.S. requested the extradition of Do Kwon through diplomatic channels, in the same way that a temporary arrest was requested,” said Kovač, adding that both countries also requested the equipment found with the detained.

After their detention at the Podgorica airport, the District Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation of the criminal offense of falsification of documents, after which they were detained for 72 hours, and ordered to spend 30 days in custody.

Montenegro to decide extradition hearing date

“The High Court in Podgorica will decide when these persons will have a hearing in the extradition proceedings,” Kovač said.

He added that in the event of multiple requests for extradition from several different countries, the seriousness of the crime, the locality where the crime was committed, the order of receiving the requests for extradition as well as other circumstances will be considered.

Kovač said that if the suspects are convicted of falsifying identification documents, it is expected that only after they have served their prison sentence will they be extradited.

According to Montenegro’s criminal code, falsifying personal documents is punishable by up to five years in prison.

This story originated in the VOA Serbian service.

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Western Tanks Arrive in Ukraine: Will It Turn War in Kyiv’s Favor?

The first Western tanks began arriving in Ukraine this week, prompting speculation that Ukraine may soon launch a counteroffensive against invading Russian forces and whether the more advanced weapons will turn the tide of the war in Kyiv’s favor.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov posted a video on Twitter this week showing him on board a British Challenger 2 main battle tank, or MBT at an unidentified location in Ukraine.

“It was a pleasure to take the first Ukrainian Challenger 2 MBT for a spin,” Reznikov wrote in his March 28 Twitter post. “Such tanks, supplied by the United Kingdom, have recently arrived in our country. These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions.”

A total of 14 Challenger 2 tanks are being sent to Ukraine. British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said Wednesday he could not speculate on any upcoming Ukrainian offensive.

“But I think it is no secret Ukraine is keen to start the process of rolling back Russian forces in the conflict. Obviously, the Russian forces are making almost no progress whatsoever,” Wallace told reporters.

German Leopards

Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed Monday that Germany had already delivered 18 of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, among the most highly regarded MBTs in the world. Canada and Norway have also dispatched several of their Leopard 2 tanks. Poland, Spain, Finland and the Netherlands have also pledged to send Leopard tanks, although the total numbers have not been confirmed

European commanders say it could tip the balance in favor of the Ukrainian forces.

“Now, [the Ukrainian forces] are in a kind of defensive position against more than 300,000 Russian combatants. Maybe not the best trained or best equipped combatants, but they are facing this kind of tsunami of soldiers, so they are holding the front line,” Vice Admiral Herve Blejean, commander of the European Union training mission for Ukrainian forces, told the Reuters news agency earlier in March.

“When they will be able to involve better tanks like the Leopard, they will be able to breach through and to look at counterattacking. At the present time, they are fighting for Bakhmut. They are doing a fine job, but the balance of forces is not in their favor,” Blejean added.


It’s unlikely Ukraine has enough Western tanks to launch a major counteroffensive imminently, said Patrick Bury, a military analyst at Britain’s University of Bath.

“How many are there now? Maybe between 30 or 40, given the numbers that were pledged. At the moment, it’s probably not enough, would be my hunch. But it’s still fairly significant,” Bury told VOA in an interview March 30.

“A battalion or two can form a spearhead. If they’re all used together, you wouldn’t want to be an infantry solider in a foxhole facing 40 of these tanks if they’re used correctly,” Bury said.

In an interview with the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces need more Western weapons before launching any counteroffensive.

“We are waiting for ammunition to arrive from our partners,” Zelenskyy said. “We can’t start yet. We can’t send our brave soldiers to the front line without tanks, artillery and long-range rockets.”


Bury said it’s crucial that the new weapons are deployed in a coordinated way.

“The question is, can Ukraine protect, use and concentrate the Western weapons to such an effect that they can break through better-prepared Russian lines? It’s not just about tanks. It’s about the armored infantry fighting vehicles. They accompany the tanks. It’s also about the artillery pieces — the rounds that they need for their own guns, and the new artillery pieces that are coming in, as well.

“So, it’s how you put the whole package together to achieve the combined arms breakthrough if that’s what you’re going to do,” Bury said.

Spring thaw

Ground conditions are changing rapidly along the front line. The spring thaw will turn frozen fields into quagmires.

“It just makes movements and maneuver more difficult. And therefore, that favors a sort of stagnation or a lack of offensive action in the open— big maneuvers around cities. The urban fights, of course, can go on,” Bury said.

Western nations have pledged dozens more tanks and other heavy weapons in the coming months. The United States is sending 31 Abrams MBTs, though these aren’t expected to arrive in Ukraine until the end of the year.

Slovakia this week sent Ukraine four Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, with nine more to follow. Poland also plans to send several MiG-29s. Ukrainian demands for U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets remain unanswered.


British intelligence reported Thursday that Moscow is poised to launch another recruitment drive to sign up an additional 400,000 troops.

With both sides preparing for a long war, any breakthroughs on the battlefield will likely be limited, Bury said.

“How prepared are [the Russians] going to be? They’re going to be much more prepared than they were in Kharkiv last year, when the Ukrainians had a massive breakthrough,” he said.

“One thing to look for, though, is morale and cohesion, because you still have to have the will to fight if you’re going to get bombarded in your lines. And that is something where there is a question mark over the Russians. There definitely isn’t that question mark over the Ukrainians. And that could prove decisive,” Bury said.

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