Russia’s economy is falling apart and “time is working against Russia” and its president, Vladimir Putin, a top German official said Thursday.
German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck made the remarks the same day Russian officials revealed that five more generals had been fired.
Since invading Ukraine more than three months ago, Russia has secured modest gains in its battle for control of the eastern Donbas region. Income from energy sales to Europe has played a major role in funding Russia’s war, and Habeck acknowledged that Russia has been aided by historically high energy prices and Europe’s inability to completely halt purchases.
“We can only be ashamed that we haven’t yet managed to reduce this dependence more significantly,” said Habeck, who is also Germany’s economy minister. But he added that “Putin is still getting money, but he can hardly spend it” because of Western sanctions.
“Time is not working for Russia. It is working against Russia, it is working against the Russian economy,” he said. “No one wants to invest in Russia any more.”
►Ukraine’s soccer team won at Scotland, setting up a fixture against Wales for a spot in the World Cup tournament that begins Nov. 21 in Qatar.
►Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said Thursday that he expects Denmark to join the European Union’s common defense on July 1. In a referendum on Wednesday, two-thirds of voters opted to abandon a 30-year-old waiver that kept the NATO member from full participation.
►Britain says it will send sophisticated medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine. The U.S. and Germany made similar pledges this week.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired five generals and a police colonel in what state-run media outlet Pravda described as “a standard employee reshuffle procedure.” All six had been assigned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is responsible for law enforcement across the nation of 145 million people.
Putin has fired several high-ranking military members amid the mixed results his troops have seen. Lt. Gen. Serhiy Kisel, a leader of the Russian Army’s failed effort to capture the northeastern city of Kharkiv was dismissed, as was Vice Adm. Igor Osipov, who led Russia’s Black Sea fleet when Ukrainian forces sank its flagship, the Moskva.
Russian troops are making steady gains in separatist Luhansk Oblast, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery, the British Ministry of Defense said Thursday. But the assessment adds that those gains “have not been without cost,” citing losses sustained by Russian forces.
Crossing the Siversky Donets River is vital for Russian forces as they secure Luhansk and switch focus to Donetsk Oblast, the assessment says. Potential crossing sites remain controlled by Ukrainian forces that have destroyed existing bridges.
“It is likely Russia will need at least a short tactical pause to re-set for opposed river crossings,” the assessment says. “To do so risks losing some of the momentum they have built over the last week.”
President Joe Biden’s decision to provide Ukraine with longer-range precision rockets unleashed angst in Moscow and applause in Kyiv. But it’s not clear yet how much of a difference the advanced weapons will make in what has become a stalemate with no clear end game. It also remains to be seen how Russia will respond to the U.S. move. As the U.S. has ramped up the flow of American-made weapons to Ukraine, the Kremlin has increasingly tried to frame its invasion of Ukraine as a proxy war between Washington and Moscow, although Biden has repeatedly said he would not send American troops to fight in the conflict.
“The Biden administration argues this most recent military aid package will help Kyiv target Russian artillery behind the front and give the Ukrainians more leverage when or if negotiations resume,” said Daniel DePetris, a fellow at Defense Priorities, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for military restraint. “Unfortunately, no negotiations are on the horizon.” Read more here.
– Tom Vanden Brook, Maureen Groppe and Deirdre Shesgreen
Contributing: The Associated Press