Ukraine: Cold and storms plague soldiers in the second winter of the war

Ukraine: Cold and storms plague soldiers in the second winter of the war

With the sudden onset of winter in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has drawn the attention of the population to the particularly difficult situation of the soldiers at the front. Instead of the usual reports about the situation on the fronts, a snowstorm in the south and east of the country a few days ago forced the Ukrainian head of state to address the unusual topic of weather in his evening video address.

“Now, when things are so difficult, when the conditions are so difficult, we should all be especially grateful to those who maintain the defense of our country,” Zelensky said on Sunday evening. He particularly mentioned the soldiers “in the positions, on posts and in mobile fire squads.” They are all deployed in winter conditions to “protect Ukraine, the life of our state and our independence.” On Thursday, Zelenskyj traveled to the front and awarded soldiers with medals.

A heavy snowstorm hit the entire Black Sea coast of Ukraine on Sunday and caused significant problems in many places. In addition to the power supply in some areas, road traffic also collapsed, while central parts of the country initially had to contend with cold and sleet. The snowstorm also paralyzed traffic and public life on the Crimean peninsula, which was occupied by Russia and annexed in violation of international law.

In the winter of the previous year, the Russian military tried to put pressure on the Ukrainian population with air strikes against the country’s energy infrastructure. The Ukrainian government is expecting a similar scenario this winter.

NATO assumes enormous Russian losses in Ukraine

US experts put Ukraine’s losses in the summer at around 70,000 to 120,000, but it is difficult to narrow it down. Although Ukraine has recently made little progress in recapturing occupied territories, NATO also expects enormous Russian losses in Ukraine. According to the defense alliance, the number of Russian soldiers killed or wounded has now exceeded 300,000.

“Militarily, Russia has lost a significant part of its conventional armed forces,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday after an alliance meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels. This also included hundreds of aircraft and thousands of tanks.

At the same time, Stoltenberg warned against placing high hopes on the losses leading to a quick end to the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has a high threshold of tolerance when it comes to victims, said the Norwegian. The Russian war goals in Ukraine have not changed. Kuleba said he came to Brussels to emphasize to allies the importance of significantly increasing production of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment across the board.

Ukraine spends half of its national budget on war

However, the protracted war is also reflected in government spending. On Tuesday, Zelensky signed the state budget for 2024. This includes billions in spending on armaments. The defense budget of the equivalent of more than 40 billion euros accounts for around half of the total budget expenditure. “It is obvious that protection against Russian aggression is a priority,” said Zelensky in his video message broadcast in Kiev on Tuesday evening. At the same time, he emphasized that the leadership will also take into account the “social needs of our people and fulfill the country’s social obligations.”

For comparison: Russia is planning to increase its military budget to almost a third of the total budget as part of its war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine. The 2024 defense budget will rise to 10.8 trillion rubles (about 111 billion euros), almost three times Ukrainian spending. Overall, Russian budget spending next year is planned at 36.7 trillion rubles (376 billion euros).

Sources: “”, with material from the agencies.

Source: Stern

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