Putin is said to have personally threatened Johnson before the war began

British ex-Prime Minister Johnson unpacks in an interview about Putin. Meanwhile, civilians are said to have died in Russian shelling of two cities in Ukraine. An overview of what happened during the night.

According to British ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Russian President Vladimir Putin made personal threats against him shortly before the start of the Ukraine war. “He kind of threatened me at one point and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile it would only take a minute’ or something like that,” Johnson told the British PA news agency in a BBC documentary that to be broadcast on Monday.

“Judging by the very relaxed tone and the level of composure he seemed to display, he must have been toying with my attempts to get him to negotiate,” Johnson continued. Like other Western leaders, the then prime minister had tried to steer Putin off course shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The statements are said to have been made.

Attacks on Kherson and Kharkiv – several dead

In Ukraine, the situation is currently tense, especially in the east and south: According to the authorities, three people were killed by Russian fire in Cherson in southern Ukraine. Six others were injured, the Kherson regional administration announced. Among other things, a clinic building was hit. The regional capital of the Kherson region of the same name, which the Ukrainian army recaptured a few months ago, has repeatedly come under heavy fire from Russia’s armed forces.

For their part, the Russian occupiers in the neighboring region of Zaporizhia reported four deaths from Ukrainian shelling. The information from the war zone is often difficult to independently verify.

Along with Cherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, Zaporizhia is one of the Ukrainian regions that Russia occupies in part and annexed last year. In addition, Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in violation of international law back in 2014.

A residential building in the city center was hit late last night in a rocket attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. At least one person died and three other residents were injured. According to the military administrator Oleh Sinegubov, helpers were looking for other possible victims in the rubble.

Ukrainian forces are searching for survivors in the rubble of a residential building in Kharkiv.
Ukrainian forces are searching for survivors in the rubble of a residential building in Kharkiv. (Source: Reuters/dpa-pictures)

Zelenskyj: Russia wants to prolong the war

Despite the currently difficult situation at the front, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown himself confident of victory against the Russian attackers. “2023 must and will definitely be the year of our victory!” Zelenskyj wrote on Telegram yesterday. In his video speech every evening, he also conceded, with a view to the hard-fought east of his country: “The situation is very tough.”

In the Donetsk region, the cities of Bakhmut and Wuhledar in particular are still subject to constant Russian shelling, Zelensky said. Despite high losses in their own ranks, the Russians did not reduce the intensity of their attacks there. “Russia hopes to prolong the war and exhaust our forces.”

“So we have to make time our weapon. We have to accelerate events,” said the Ukrainian leader. In particular, the speed of delivery of foreign military aid is a key factor in this war. Selenskyj also insisted once again on further arms deliveries beyond the main battle tanks recently promised by the West.

Scholz criticizes the debate about the delivery of fighter jets

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has criticized the debate over the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine. “It is idiosyncratic that this debate is being held. Some people have to ask themselves: why are they asking the question when it is about helping the Ukrainians,” Scholz said yesterday evening (local time) at a press conference in Santiago de Chile. A serious debate is now necessary and not “an outbidding competition (…), in which perhaps domestic political motives are in the foreground instead of supporting Ukraine”. In an issue as important as arms deliveries, it must be about the matter and rational considerations, emphasized Scholz. Read more here.

Ukraine is demanding fighter jets, and the United States has not fundamentally ruled out a delivery. The SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken did not fundamentally rule out the delivery of combat aircraft yesterday in the ARD.

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