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Ukraine live briefing: Dozens of Leopard tanks bought for Ukraine; more drones target Moscow

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An unidentified buyer has purchased dozens of German-made Leopard 1 tanks from a private Belgian dealer, to be refurbished and sent to Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. “I am glad they will finally join the fight for freedom,” the dealer, Freddy Versluys, said in a LinkedIn post.

Two drones flying over Moscow were shot down by air defense systems early Thursday, its mayor said on Telegram, the latest in a spate of drone attacks targeting the Russian capital.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Versluys, chief executive of the defense company OIP Land Systems, did not disclose the price paid for the tanks and disputed reports suggesting he had demanded 500,000 euros per vehicle after purchasing them for 15,000 euros each. It was not immediately clear when the tanks would be sent to Ukraine.

Four drones targeting Moscow and Crimea were shot down by Russia in separate incidents, its Defense Ministry said on Telegram early Thursday, as attacks focusing on the Russian capital mount. No deaths or casualties were reported, the statement said. It added that another nine drones were downed via electronic warfare and crashed into the Black Sea.

Ukraine will require at least $42 billion in international assistance in 2024, Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko said in an interview Wednesday with Radio Liberty. The European Union has committed nearly $55 billion over four years, he said, adding that Ukraine must also demonstrate its ability to fulfill its budget through internal resources.

A Russian strike on a residential area in Zaporizhzhia killed at least three people, regional governor Yuriy Malashko said early Thursday on Telegram. Three others were seriously injured, he added. The strikes destroyed a church and some shops in the city’s Shevchenkiv district, Malashko said earlier.

Russian forces are conducting offensive operations in the Kupyansk area in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Wednesday on Telegram. Ukrainian troops continue to flank southern Bakhmut, she said, adding that Ukraine was continuing its offensive in the Melitopol and Berdyan areas in the south.

Germany will provide Ukraine with two additional Patriot air defense launchers, the country announced Wednesday as part of a fresh military package for Kyiv. The aid includes dozens of reconnaissance drones, 100 machine guns and ammunition.

Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom separately announced sanctions on Belarus for its internal politics and support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Canada imposed sanctions against nine people, including the head of Belarus’s state television network; the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned eight individuals and some state-owned enterprises; and Britain imposed sanctions on Belarusian defense organizations and other foreign military suppliers, which it said helped facilitate the invasion of Ukraine and sustain the conflict.

They also are trying to erase the influence of Russian-language music and artists: Russian music is now banned on local radio and singers who performed in Russian are rereleasing their songs in Ukrainian.

“During the Soviet Union, Ukrainian music was depreciated. They made it seem uncool and ugly,” folk singer Maria Kvitka said. “I want to see its rebirth.”

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