In the last few hours, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has called the situation unfolding in the eastern Donbas region “extremely difficult”, and argued that a regular supply of weapons to Ukraine was the best strategy to maintain global stability.
Speaking during his nightly address on Tuesday evening, Zelensky said “the [full] strength of the Russian army was thrown [in Donbas] to attack”.
“Lyman, Popasna, Severodonetsk, Slovyansk – the occupiers want to destroy everything there,” he said, referring to a cluster of cities located in eastern Ukraine, reports the BBC.
“Therefore, the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine – MLRS, tanks, anti-ship and other weapons – is the best investment in maintaining stability in the world and preventing many severe crises that Russia is still planning or has already provoked,” he added.
Zelensky’s comments come as Ukrainian defence officials warn Russia’s war in eastern Ukraine is now in its most intense stages, and could potentially determine the fate of the embattled country.
Meanwhile, the US is cutting off another financial route for Russia to pay its international debts, a move that could push the country closer to default.
The US Treasury Department said it would end a waiver that had allowed US bondholders to accept payments, tightening sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine.
While the new rules only apply to people in the US, they will make it difficult for Russia to make payments elsewhere given the role of US banks in the global financial system.
And in a related development, US billionaire George Soros has warned that “civilisation may not survive” the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying it may have marked “the beginning of the Third World War”.
Speaking at a dinner last night on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the investor and philanthropist said the war has shaken Europe to its core.
He urged the world to “use all our resources to bring the war to an early end,” adding “the best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilisation is to defeat Putin as soon as possible”.
Europe was also in a stronger position than it thought, with regards to its dependence on Russian gas, he added.
Putin had put gas in storage instead of exporting it to Europe, creating a shortage. But Russia will run out of storage space by July and would have no choice but to sell to Europe, which is its only market, Soros pointed out.
“I think Putin has been very clever in sort of blackmailing Europe, threatening to cut off the gas, but actually his case is much less strong than he pretends,” he said.
The EU is trying to cut its dependence on Russian fossil fuels by two-thirds by the end of the year.
But efforts to ban Russian imports have been stymied due to hesitation from Germany. Hungary has also opposed a Russian oil ban.