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Ukraine conflict – day 375: German firm in talks to build tank plant, Russian Defense Minister visits troops

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Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu speaks with the Commander of the Eastern Military District, during what the defense ministry said to be an inspection of a forward command post of Russian armed forces deployed in Ukraine. /Russian Defense Ministry handout/Reuters

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu speaks with the Commander of the Eastern Military District, during what the defense ministry said to be an inspection of a forward command post of Russian armed forces deployed in Ukraine. /Russian Defense Ministry handout/Reuters

TOP HEADLINES

· Arms manufacturer Rheinmetall is holding “promising” talks to build a tank plant in Ukraine, the head of the Germany company said in an interview. “A Rheinmetall factory could be built in Ukraine at a cost of about €200 million,” ($213 million) to turn out up to 400 Panther tanks a year, the firm’s president Armin Papperger told the Rheinische Post newspaper. He added that he expected a decision on the plan in two months, saying such a site could be protected from Russian attack by an air defense system.

· Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has inspected troops in frontline regions in eastern Ukraine. Shoigu inspected an advance command post in the direction of the south of the Donetsk region, the defense ministry said, without specifying exactly where or when. READ MORE BELOW

· Fierce fighting is ongoing around Bakhmut, the longest battle of the conflict. The Ukraine military said Russian troops were trying but failing to surround the city in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian troops had fought off several attacks in and around the besieged city, the armed forces’ general staff wrote in a Facebook post.

· The president of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola called for Ukraine to be allowed to begin EU membership negotiations this year. “I am hopeful that accession negotiations can begin already this year,” Metsola said in the western city of Lviv. “Ukraine’s future is in the European Union.”

· Kyiv urged the European Union to begin work “as soon as possible” on an 11th package of sanctions against Russia. Foreign ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said Kyiv was grateful for the measures implemented by Brussels so far, but that the 10th package adopted last month stopped short of punishing Russia’s nuclear and IT sectors.

· Africa’s National Olympic Committees have followed their Asian counterparts in giving the green light for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Russia and its ally Belarus have been sidelined from most Olympic sports since the start of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine last February.

· Estonians began voting to elect a new parliament on Sunday in a poll that could bolster far-right nationalists, who have campaigned on opposing further arms deliveries to Ukraine. Put off by the Estonian government’s hawkish stance on Russia, many Russian speakers, who make up a quarter of the population, are expected to stay away from elections even though they oppose the war in Ukraine.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu awards service members in this handout image. /Russian Defense Ministry handout/Reuters

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu awards service members in this handout image. /Russian Defense Ministry handout/Reuters

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu awards service members in this handout image. /Russian Defense Ministry handout/Reuters

IN DETAIL

Russia’s Defense Minister pays rare visit to troops on the frontlines

Top commanders of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine have briefed Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on the current situation and action plans, his ministry said.

Shoigu paid a rare visit to Russia’s forces deployed in Ukraine, awarding medals to military personnel and meeting senior commanders during the trip, according to a statement and videos issued by the Defense Ministry.

The minister held a meeting with commanders of the operation, the ministry said in a statement in its Telegram social media app. It did not specify if the meeting took place during the trip.

“Sergei Shoigu paid special attention to the set-up of all the necessary conditions for the safe deployment of personnel in the field, the organization of comprehensive support for the troops, especially the work of medical and rear units.”

Russia’s top military chiefs have only visited the frontlines in Ukraine occasionally since Moscow sent tens of thousands of Russian troops into the neighboring country just over a year ago.

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Source(s): AFP
,Reuters

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