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The type of tanks Ukraine is receiving from the West and the impasse in U.S. Congress

A U.S. official said that the Wagner Group was interested in mines near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Kyiv eventually started receiving Western tanks, while Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida contemplates a visit to Kyiv.

@material: https://thepage.ua/ua/politics/yak-britanski-yuristi-mccue-jury-and-partners-voyuyut-z-pvk-vagnera

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives struggles with a deadlock because Republicans are unable to agree on a candidate for speaker. Hard-right conservatives even called Kevin McCarthy down for having censured Donald Trump over the Capitol attack.

The Page offers a digest of Western mass media at the end of the January 2–6 business week.

Is the Wagner Group vying for mines near Bakhmut?

Prigozhin strives to take control of mines near Bakhmut, says U.S. official. Photo: Getty Images

Prigozhin strives to take control of mines near Bakhmut, says U.S. official. Photo: Getty Images

According to a White House official, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russia’s most powerful mercenary force, the Wagner Group, is interested in taking control of salt and gypsum from mines near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, The Guardian writes.

There were indications that monetary motives were driving Russia’s and Prigozhin’s "obsession" with Bakhmut, the U.S. official said.

The United States has previously accused Russian mercenaries of exploiting natural resources in the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and elsewhere to help fund Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Out of its force of nearly 50,000 mercenaries, Wagner has sustained more than 4,100 deaths and 10,000 wounded, including over 1,000 killed between late November and early December near Bakhmut, the US official said.

The White House said late last month that the Wagner Group took delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine, a sign of the group’s expanding role in the conflict.

Ukraine started to get Western tanks

France will send AMX-10 RC tanks to Ukraine. Photo: Wikipedia

France will send AMX-10 RC tanks to Ukraine. Photo: Wikipedia

Major Western powers have finally decided to send armored vehicles to Ukraine, a move Kyiv had long asked for, Politico reports.

On Wednesday, January 4, Emmanuel Macron announced he was sending "light tanks" — AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles — to Ukraine.

Quote"This is the first time a Western-designed tank will be delivered to Ukraine. Symbolically, it’s important," said François Heisbourg, senior adviser for Europe at the International Institute for Strategic Studies..

That put pressure on other nations to follow suit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday thanked France for the AMX-10s, and urged other allies to provide tanks and other heavy weapons.

Hours later, Germany and the U.S. announced their own moves. Germany will provide its Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle, while the U.S. will be sending Ukraine the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

None of these are the kind of modern fighting machines that Ukraine really wants, such as France’s state-of-the-art Leclerc, Germany’s Leopard or the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams. However, the moves signal that tank deliveries are no longer off-limits.

While the U.K. has yet to make a similar commitment, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said after a meeting with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock that London would continue to help Ukraine and speak with the Ukrainians and international partners about what they need.

Quote"Tanks might well be part of that."

What is the AMX-10 RC tank that France is giving?

The AMX-10 RC tank and its benefits. Photo: Wikipedia

The AMX-10 RC tank and its benefits. Photo: Wikipedia

The AMX-10 RC given to Kyiv by Paris has been used as a reconnaissance vehicle and tank-killer by French forces in the past — including during Operation Barkhane in Africa, which officially ended in November 2022.

Its advantages are maneuverability and speed, but its relatively light armor is a drawback against heavy Russian guns.

The vehicle could be deployed ahead of a column of main battle tanks during operations, according to retired General Jérôme Pellistrandi, director of the magazine National Defence Review.

Quote"A tank is built to go forward, particularly this model. It’s an armored reconnaissance vehicle and it’s a contribution destined to help Ukraine recover occupied territories," said Heisbourg.

Although the number of tanks to be delivered by France hasn’t been announced, Pellistrandi estimated that there are approximately 30 AMX-10 RC available immediately to be sent to Ukraine.

The upcoming deliveries may be just the beginning. Ukrainians are still asking France to send Leclerc tanks to Ukraine, which are heavier, more powerful and better protected than the AMX-10s. According to Heisbourg, although the request is being examined, it would make more sense for Ukrainians to train on German Leopard 1 and 2 tanks, which would be easier to maintain in Ukraine.

Fumio Kishida was invited to visit Kyiv

Fumio Kishida will consider a visit to Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images

Fumio Kishida will consider a visit to Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will weigh Zelenskyy’s invitation to visit Kyiv, Reuters report.

Кісіда підтвердив повну підтримку Kishida reaffirmed Tokyo's full support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia as Japan assumes the chair of the G7.

Quote"I strongly condemned Russia's continued aggression, and stated that Japan would do its utmost to provide assistance, including to get through the winter, in order to protect the lives of the Ukrainian people," Kishida said, commenting on his conversation with Zelenskyy.

Earlier, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference that the head of Zelenskiy's presidential office, Andriy Yermak, had extended an invitation via Tokyo's ambassador to Kyiv for Kishida to visit Ukraine.

Kishida confirmed that he had received the invitation but said he wouldn’t rush to make a decision.

Quote"I would like to consider it based on various circumstances," he added.

Next week, Kishida is set to visit most other G7 member countries in a key diplomatic tour before Japan hosts the annual G7 summit in May in Hiroshima, when Ukraine is expected to be a major topic of discussion.

U.S. House of Representatives is still blocked: speaker election stuck in a deadlock

McCarthy failed to get elected Speaker of the House 11 times. Photo: Getty Images

McCarthy failed to get elected Speaker of the House 11 times. Photo: Getty Images

Members of the US House of Representatives will try for a fourth day to elect a Speaker on Friday, January 6, the BBC writes.

Republican Kevin McCarthy has so far failed to reach the 218 votes required for election, since a right-wing cohort within his own party refused to vote for him. There have so far been 11 failed votes — a paralysis of government not seen since the pre-Civil War era.

McCarthy needs to win over 16 out of 20 of his Republican opponents to secure him the speakership. For more than a day now, there has been talk of concessions Mr McCarthy could make to that end.

According to the BBC, as talks proceed, the outlines of a potential deal have become more clear, but there haven't been many indications that a deal is imminent.

The so-called "Never Kevins" who are standing in Mr McCarthy's way are skeptical of the California congressman's conservative bona fides, despite his endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

A conflict with Trump over the Capitol attack

Kevin McCarthy was called down for a conflict with Trump. Photo: Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy was called down for a conflict with Trump. Photo: Getty Images

Exactly two years ago, the current candidate for speakership, Kevin McCarthy, and ex-President Donald Trump had a conflict over the Capitol attack, the BBC reports.

On January 6, 2021, as a mob of Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy and Trump engaged in an angry phone conversation.

The then-House minority leader demanded that the president call his people off, while Trump claimed that those people were just more upset about the "election theft" than McCarthy himself.

According to Congresswoman Jamie Herrera-Beutler of Washington, whom McCarthy told of the call, an exchange of obscenities between the politician followed.

A week after the Capitol attack, McCarthy took to the floor of the House to say Trump bears responsibility for the violence. While he did not support the impeachment, he backed a formal censure of the leader.

Interestingly, just two weeks later, McCarthy met with Trump in a show of support. Today, Trump calls to support McCarthy’s ascent to the speakership. However, the 20 Republicans blocking him didn’t abide by the ex-president's recommendations.

Quote"I disagree with Donald Trump," Congressman Ralph Norman said. "He's backing Kevin McCarthy, and Kevin McCarthy is the one who said that he was going to censure the president — and the president should not have been censured."
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