Putin acknowledges that the situation in the annexed territories is “extremely difficult”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that the situation in four areas of Ukraine that Moscow has unilaterally declared part of Russia is proving “extremely difficult” , one of his clearest public admissions to date that his invasion is not coming off according to what was planned.

In his remarks on the occasion of the Day of Security Services, celebrated in Russia on Tuesday, he also called for increased surveillance. These remarks came after a visit to Belarus, his closest ally, which stoked fears, dismissed by the Kremlin, that the country could help Russia open a new invasion front against Ukraine.

Kiev again called for more weapons after Russian drones struck energy targets in a third airstrike on power facilities in six days.

Putin ordered the Federal Security Services (FSB) to intensify surveillance of Russian society and the country’s borders to combat the “emergence of new threats” from abroad and traitors from within. Western countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia and the ruble fell to its lowest against the dollar in more than seven months on Tuesday after the European Union agreed to cap prices for gas , one of Russia ‘ s main exports .

An illegal annexation

In a rare acknowledgment that the invasion of Ukraine has not gone smoothly, Putin warned of the difficult situation in the regions of Ukraine that Moscow went on to annex in September and ordered the FSB to guarantee the “security” of people living there. . ” The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions is extremely difficult ,” Putin said in a video to security workers translated by Reuters.

In September, Putin tried to regain the initiative after a series of battlefield defeats by declaring that four partially occupied regions in eastern and southern Ukraine had joined Russia . kyiv and its Western allies said the move was illegal. In October, Russian forces fell back in one of the regions, Kherson, and entrenched in others. They have failed to gain ground, and earlier this month Putin said the war could be a “long process.”

Putin made his first visit to Belarus on Monday since 2019, where he and his counterpart hailed ever-closer ties at a late-afternoon news conference but barely mentioned Ukraine . On Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported that Belarus had reached an understanding with Moscow on its debt restructuring and had agreed to a fixed price for Russian gas for three years.

Kyiv seeks more weapons

kyiv, meanwhile, was looking to the West for more weapons after weeks of attacks on energy facilities that have knocked out power and water amid freezing temperatures. “Weapons, shells, new defense capabilities… everything that allows us to hasten the end of this war,” President Volodymir Zelensky declared in his evening address.

The Ukrainian military claimed to have shot down 30 of the 35 “kamikaze” drones fired by Russia on Monday, the majority targeting the capital Kiev. Drones fly towards their target, plummet and detonate on impact.

Ukrainian authorities reported on Tuesday that five people had been killed in the eastern regions of Donetsk and south of Kherson, and eight wounded, and that 21 missiles had knocked out power in the southern city of Zaporiya.

Intensification of fighting

 The 10- month -old conflict in Ukraine , the largest in Europe since World War II, has killed tens of thousands , driven millions from their homes and reduced cities to ruins.

The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian artillery had shelled 25 cities and towns around Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the east, and several areas around Kupiansk, a city in the north-east recaptured by Ukraine in September. Alexei Kulemzin, the Russian mayor of the city of Donetsk, said Russian artillery had shelled 25 eastern towns and several areas of Kupiansk, retaken by Ukraine in September.

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