Ukraine Latest: GPS Guided Bombs Will Be Part of US Military Aid

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(Bloomberg) -- A new ground-launched, bomb-tipped rocket to be ordered from Boeing Co. will be part of the latest package of US arms for Ukraine that will be announced Friday by the White House and Pentagon, officials said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces can’t be defeated “on the battlefield.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Moscow’s offensive is intensifying with the approach of Feb. 24, the invasion’s one-year mark, urging allies to “increase global pressure” on Moscow.

Top US and Ukrainian officials spoke by telephone about the situation on the front lines and Russia’s possible next steps. Poland’s prime minister outlined to a German newspaper a potential plan by Russian to surround Ukraine on multiple fronts, including from Belarus in the north, where Kremlin troops have been amassing for weeks.

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Key Developments

  • US to Send Ukraine Boeing’s Ground-Launched, GPS-Guided Bombs

  • As Russia Gears Up for New Push, Ukraine Waits for More Weapons

  • Norway Set to Tap Its Oil Wealth to Finance War Aid for Ukraine

  • Swiss Stash of Leopard Tanks Spurs Debate on How to Help Ukraine

On the Ground

Two Russіan strikes on Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region)on Thursday destroyed a dozen residences, a children’s clinic, a school and garages, killing three and injuring at least 17 people, the Ukrainian General staff said in an emailed statement. More then 15 rocket salvo attacks were carried out on civilian targets in the settlement of Komyshany in the Kherson region, injuring four people including a 5-year-old child. Russian troops continued on offense along the Lyman-Bakhmut-Avdiyivka axis, though suffering heavy losses.

(All times CET)

Bomb-Tipped Rocket Will Be Part of New Military Aid (2 a.m.)

A new ground-launched, bomb-tipped rocket to be ordered from Boeing Co. will be part of the latest package of US arms for Ukraine that will be announced Friday by the White House and Pentagon, officials said.

The long-range hybrid weapon combines two proven devices: an Air Force Small-Diameter Bomb guided by GPS satellites that’s currently in wide use and an Army rocket already being operated by Ukraine’s forces. Like some other equipment provided by the US and allies, it won’t be deployed in Ukraine anytime soon: An industry official said it would take about nine months for the first deliveries once the Air Force issues a contract.

Boeing’s new bomb-tipped rocket has been tested three times since 2015 in partnership with Saab AB of Sweden. In an exercise, it flew more than 81 miles (130 kilometers) and hit a target within 40 inches (102 centimeters) of its GPS goal, according to a industry official familiar with the results. That’s roughly double the range of the current rockets fired from Himars launchers.

Zelenskiy Says Russia Will Mount New Attacks From Territories It Holds (10:27 p.m.)

Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy predicted Russia will mount new aggression from land it controls as it seeks options to change the course of the war.

Russia’s strategic defeat is already clear, Zelenskiy said in his evening address, but it still has resources for offensive action.

“We should speak with one voice to the world regarding defense supplies and noticeably increase global pressure on Russia every month,” Zelenskiy said, adding that Ukraine won’t leave any aggressive action unanswered.

Scholz Says He Keeps Talking to Putin — About Withdrawing Russian Troops (7:47 p.m.)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he will continue talking to Putin to hammer home the message that the only way to end the war is withdrawing Russian troops.

“Russia must realize that it will not get away with its intention to take parts of the Ukrainian territory by force, and that it must withdraw troops to make a fair peace between the two countries possible,” Scholz told citizens during a town hall meeting.

He defended his decision to send more and heavier weapons to Ukraine, including infantry fighting vehicles and battle tanks, adding that he would continue acting in lockstep with allies such as the US.

Ukraine Signs Single-Market Program with EU (6:40 p.m.)

“Today, we’ve signed with Ukraine its association to the Single Market Programme,” the European Commission said in a tweet after a joint meeting in Kyiv with the Ukrainian cabinet, saying it will “provide Ukraine with support to businesses.”

Ukraine to Start Leopard Tank Training Next Week (5:40 p.m.)

Ukrainian troops will start training on German-made Leopard 2 tanks next week, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Berlin announced last month it would provide Ukraine with the tanks, along with other allies, after weeks of talks and debate.

Germany is also working to put together a Leopard battalion and is continuing to provide support for other equipment it has provided, including air defense systems and anti-aircraft Gepard tanks, the person said. The Financial Times earlier reported the timing of the training.

Putin Rallies Russians for Victory in Ukraine (4:25 p.m.)

Putin commemorated Russia’s World War II victory at Stalingrad by trying to rally domestic support for his invasion of Ukraine.

“Those who expect to win a victory against Russia on the battlefield don’t understand that modern-day war with Russia will turn out totally differently for them,” he said at a concert on Thursday in Volgograd, which had been temporarily renamed Stalingrad for the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi forces there. “We aren’t sending tanks to their borders but we have the means to fight back and they won’t be limited to armor. Everyone should understand this.”

Read more: Putin Vows Ukraine Victory as He Hails WWII Stalingrad Triumph

Von der Leyen Praises Ukraine’s Efforts to Fight Graft (3:30 p.m.)

Ukraine continues to make “impressive progress” to meet pre-conditions that include anti-corruption measures to start talks on the EU membership, von der Leyen said in Kyiv.

“I am comforted to see that your anti-corruption bodies are on alert and effective in detecting corruption cases,” Von der Leyen told Zelenskiy in Kyiv. She also praised Zelenskiy “on reacting so rapidly at the political level to make sure that the fight against corruption is delivering tangible results.”

Ukraine Widens Dragnet as Pressure Mounts to Tackle Corruption

EU to Create Prosecution Office for War Crimes Evidence (1:20 p.m.)

The EU will help set up an international center for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in the Hague, as the bloc seeks to hold Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine, von der Leyen said. The center will help coordinate the collection of evidence, she told reporters in Kyiv, adding that it will be embedded in a joint investigative team with Eurojust, an agency that facilitates EU judicial cooperation.

Politicians and legal experts haven’t yet been able to agree on the idea of a special international court to investigate crimes of “aggression” that von der Leyen touted last year.

EU Weighs Prosecution Office to Help Punish Russian War Crimes

Russia, Belarus Train to Use Civilian Airfields for Fighter Jets (1:15 p.m.)

Joint Russia-Belarus air force drills which began Feb. 16 are now over, Belarusian Defense Ministry said on Telegram.

The war games were used to test deploying Russian and Belarusian fighter jets on civilian air fields in both countries, commander of the Belarusian air force Andrey Lukyanovich said in a video statement on Defense Ministry Telegram channel. “This allows to significantly improve survivability of our air force component,” Lukyanovich said.

EU Estimates Russia Loses €160 Million a Day from Oil Price Cap (1 p.m.)

Von der Leyen said the bloc’s price cap on Russian oil exports is costing Russia about €160 million ($176 million) a day, as the bloc looks to extend the mechanism to cover Moscow’s petroleum products.

The EU and G-7 countries aim to have the 10th package of sanctions against Russia by Feb. 24 — exactly one year since the Russian invasion. “We are making Putin pay for his atrocious war,” she said at a joint press conference with Zelenskiy in Kyiv.

She used a visit to Kyiv, accompanied by more than a dozen of her fellow commissioners, to pledge continued support for Ukraine, even as fears of new Russian offensive mount. “Our presence in Kyiv today gives a very clear signal,” she said. “We will stand up for Ukraine as we stand up for the fundamental rights and respect of international law.”

Russia Halts Biometric Passport Issuances on Chip Shortage (11:31 a.m.)

Russia temporarily suspended the issue of new biometric passports because of a shortage of the microchips used in the documents.

State-run printer Goznak blamed higher-than-usual demand for 10-year passports, adding that the producer of the components is expanding output. Once that process is complete, the printer will need another month to resume issuing the passports. For the moment, only five-year passports produced without the chips will be are available.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians fled the country in 2022 after the Kremlin announced a mobilization for its war in Ukraine. At the same time, the US and its allies have sought to restrict Russia’s access to microchips that could be used for military purposes.

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