Live reporting. By George Styllis
The Pentagon is considering a Boeing proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets, allowing Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines as the West struggles to meet demand for more arms.
US and allied military inventories are shrinking, and Ukraine faces an increasing need for more sophisticated weapons as the war drags on. Boeing’s proposed system, dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), is one of about a half-dozen plans for getting new munitions into production for Ukraine and America’s Eastern European allies, industry sources said.
GLSDB could be delivered as early as spring 2023, according to a document reviewed by Reuters and three people familiar with the plan. It combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb with the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in US inventories.
Doug Bush, the US Army’s chief weapons buyer, said the Army was also looking at accelerating production of 155 millimeter artillery shells – currently only manufactured at government facilities – by allowing defense contractors to build them.
UK Prime Minister Sunak vows to maintain military aid to Ukraine
Rishi Sunak plans to promise on Monday to maintain or increase military aid to Ukraine next year, and to confront international competitors “not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism”.
British government support for Ukraine has remained unchanged, despite turmoil in recent months as Boris Johnson was succeeded as prime minister by Liz Truss and then Mr Sunak.
However, some Conservatives view Mr Sunak as less hawkish on China than Ms Truss – although a planned meeting between Sunak and China’s President Xi Jinping at this month’s G20 summit in Bali fell through and last week London banned Chinese-made security cameras from sensitive government buildings.
“Under my leadership we won’t choose the status quo. We will do things differently,” Sunak said in an extract released by his office of his first major foreign policy speech, which he plans to deliver on Monday in London’s financial district.
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant still in Russian hands
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains under Russian control, the Russia-installed administration of the occupied Enerhodar city said on Monday, after a senior Ukrainian official suggested Russian forces were preparing to leave.
“The media are actively spreading fakes that Russia is allegedly planning to withdraw from Enerhodar and leave the [nuclear plant]. This information is not true,” the Russian backed administration said on the Telegram messaging app.
The head of Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy firm said on Sunday there were signs that Russian forces might be preparing to vacate the vast Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which they seized in March soon after their invasion.
Zelensky warns Ukrainians to prepare for new Russian attacks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cautioned that Russia was “planning new strikes” on his country, urging defence forces and citizens to be prepared to withstand a new week of strain on the power grid amid freezing temperatures.
Moscow has targeted vital infrastructure in recent weeks, sparking power outages and killing civilians. Strikes last Wednesday caused the worst damage so far in the nine-month conflict, leaving millions without light, water or heat as temperatures fell below 0 Celsius.
“We understand that the terrorists are planning new strikes. We know this for a fact,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Sunday. “And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down.”
Comment from Leonard Quy: “Yes, longer range strike weapons do need to be sent. As the article has appeared in this paper I guess they are there already.”
Comment from Robert Merrifield; “Attack is the best form of defence. Take out Russia’s power grid in response. Tic tac toe.”
Sarah Churchill: “So no plans for peace before spring 2023 then?”
Reply from David James: “No, Russia haven’t agreed to withdraw and stop all hostilities so unfortunately not.”