Poland sends 200 tanks to Ukraine as Russia suffers 'colossal' loses

Poland sends 200 tanks to Ukraine as Kyiv claims Russia is suffering ‘colossal losses’ in East and another of Putin’s oil depots is set ablaze

  • Poland has sent 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine as part of heavy weapons shipment 
  • Mobile artillery, drones and missile launchers also sent as part of $1.6bn package
  • Comes as allies step up support to Ukraine, with US pledging $33bn in support
  • Fierce fighting is underway in Ukraine’s east, as presidential adviser admits suffering losses but says Russian casualties are ‘colossal’ 

Poland has sent hundreds of tanks to Ukraine as part of renewed heavy weapons shipments to help it win the war against Russia.

Warsaw has sent more than 200 T-72s – originally produced by the Soviet Union – into Ukraine in recent weeks, the country’s national radio broadcaster said today, along with mobile artillery, drones and rocket launchers as part of a $1.6bn package.

Ukraine’s allies have massively stepped up support for Kyiv as fierce fighting rages in the east, with Kyiv’s generals today saying that Russia is suffering ‘colossal’ casualties in the pivotal battle for Donbas.

Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian secret service veteran-turned presidential adviser, acknowledged his military is suffering ‘serious losses’ on battlefields in the east but insisted that Russia’s casualties are ‘much, much worse’.

Meanwhile Ukraine continues to carry out attacks behind Russian lines to cut off vital supply routes, with a fuel dump in the Donetsk region catching fire today.

Kyiv has not acknowledged carrying out any of the attacks – which have also hit railway bridges and ammo dumps – but is widely thought to be orchestrating them.

Poland has sent more than 200 Soviet-era T-72 battle tanks (file image) to Ukraine as part of a $1.6bn military aid package as fighting intensifies

Poland has also sent Warmate drones – a less-advanced version of the American Switchblades which have an explosive charge in the nose (left and right)

Grad rocket launchers (pictured in Ukraine this week) have also been sent from Poland as Ukraine’s allies massively step up weapons deliveries

Earlier this week, a Ukrainian MP described the blasts as ‘karma’.

Russia is pouring troops into the battle in Donbass in an effort to force a bloody victory having been defeated in its initial aim to storm in Kyiv, topple the government, and install a puppet regime loyal to Moscow.

After it became apparent they did not have sufficient force to take the capital, Russia’s generals yanked their units out, patched them up as best they could, and then threw them back into the fight in Donbas.

They also adapted their tactics – abandoning precision missile strikes and rapid advances which saw them mauled around Kyiv in favour of slow advances behind walls of blanket artillery in similar tactics to WW1 trench warfare.

The move has met with mixed success. Ukraine has acknowledged losing control of some towns and villages, but has made gains elsewhere in counter-attacks.

Supplies of heavier weapons including tanks, artillery cannons, precision munitions and anti-aircraft weapons are designed to help with those attacks while ensuring the Ukrainians can destroy as much Russian equipment as possible in the process.   

As evidence of the West’s dedication to the mission, Joe Biden last night pledged $33billion in aid for Ukraine including $20billion in military aid. 

‘We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,’ Biden said. ‘The cost of this fight – it’s not cheap – but caving to aggression is going to be more costly.’

Zelenskiy tweeted: ‘Thank you @POTUS and the American people for their leadership in supporting Ukraine in our fight against Russian aggression. 

‘We defend common values – democracy and freedom. We appreciate the help. Today it is needed more than ever!’

Russia has said the arrival of Western arms into Ukraine means it is now fighting a ‘proxy war’ against NATO. President Vladimir Putin threatened unspecified retaliation this week, while his foreign minister warned of a threat of nuclear war.

Zelenskiy’s office said Russia was pounding the entire front line in the eastern Donetsk region with rockets, artillery, mortar bombs and aircraft. 

The Ukrainian general staff said Russia was shelling positions along the line of contact to prevent the Ukrainians from regrouping.

Britain said fighting had been particularly heavy around the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the main part of the Donbas that Russia is still trying to capture, with an attempted advance south from Russian-held Izium towards Sloviansk.

‘Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces,’ the British defence ministry said in an update.

The bloodiest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe of the war have been in Mariupol, an eastern port reduced to a wasteland by two months of Russian bombardment and siege.

Ukraine says 100,000 civilians are still in the city, which is mostly occupied by Russia. Hundreds of civilians are holed up with last remaining defenders in underground bunkers beneath a huge steel works.

Ukrainian servicemen rest on an armoured personnel carrier as they make their way along a highway on the outskirts of Kryvyi Rih

Ukrainian servicemen at their position, close to Luhanske village of Donetsk area

Ukrainian servicemen Nazar and Oleksii are seen in a trench, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues in a village in Donetsk region

Zelenskiy’s office said an operation was planned on Friday to get civilians out of the plant, giving no details.

In the capital, normal life has largely returned after weeks in which residents were forced to shelter in metro stations from bombardment. 

The front line, which come right to the outskirts of Kyiv in March, is now hundreds of miles away. Foreign dignitaries have been flying in to pay their respects to Zelenskiy and his government.

But Russia can still hit the city with long range missiles, as it did on Thursday, during a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Guterres, in what Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called ‘an attack on the security of the Secretary General and on world security’.

No one was killed but at least four people were wounded in the missile strike in the capital, which blew out windows and scattered rubble across the streets.

‘Kyiv is still a dangerous place and Kyiv is still the target of Russians, of course. The capital of Ukraine is the goal and they want to occupy it,’ Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, supervising the cleanup.

On Thursday, Guterres visited Borodianka, one of the Kyiv suburbs that Russia had occupied in March, leaving dead bodies in the ruined streets when its forces withdrew.

‘I imagine my family in one of those homes, now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running away in panic, part of the family eventually killed,’ Guterres told reporters in Borodianka, surrounded by scorched, windowless apartment blocks.

‘Innocent civilians were living in these buildings, they were paying the highest price for a war which they have not contributed to at all.’

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