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Zelenskyy's visit on Kupiansk front, downing of Russian aircraft - Monday brief

Zelenskyy's visit on Kupiansk front, downing of Russian aircraft - Monday brief RBC-Ukraine collage

Yesterday, February 19, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the Russia-Ukraine frontline in the Kupiansk direction. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Armed Forces shot down two more Russian planes in the east.

RBC-Ukraine compiled top news for February 19.

Russia's war against Ukraine: Latest news

Zelenskyy arrives at front line of Kupiansk sector

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived at the frontline in the Kupiansk direction. In particular, he awarded soldiers defending Ukraine on this front line.

"President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during his trip to the Kharkiv region, visited the battalion command post of the 14th Mechanized Brigade "Prince Roman the Great", which is performing combat tasks in defense of Kupiansk," the statement said.

Zelenskyy listened to the report of the brigade commander, Lieutenant Colonel Oleksii Trubnikov, on the operational situation on the respective front line and interaction with adjacent units of the Armed Forces.

"The brigade commander also briefed the president on the experience of using various types of drones in the area of responsibility and the features of combating enemy UAVs using EW systems. They also discussed the provision of units with equipment, ammunition, and other current needs of the soldiers," added the president's website.

Ukrainian Armed Forces destroy two more Russian aircraft

The Ukrainian military shot down two more Russian aircraft in the east. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have managed to destroy Russian six occupiers' planes over the past two days, according to Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk.

"Morning of February 19, 2024. Eastern direction. Minus two more occupier's planes!" Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said.

According to Oleshchuk, these are Su-24 and Su-35S fighters. One of the two Russian planes shot down on February 19 crashed into the Sea of Azov.

The West was too optimistic about the war in Ukraine in 2023, - Bauer

'West was overly optimistic about war in 2023' - Admiral Bauer

According to NATO Military Committee Chairman Admiral Rob Bauer, the West was "overly optimistic about the war in 2023," believing that "if we give the Ukrainians the ammunition and training they need, they’ll win."

"We have to be careful not to be overly pessimistic in 2024. The sheer fact that Ukraine is still a sovereign state, and that the Ukrainians have taken back 50 per cent of what the Russians took in 2022 is remarkable," Bauer said.

Italy may be next to sign security commitments agreement with Ukraine, media

Ukraine and Italy may soon sign a security guarantee agreement. Several details of the bilateral agreement are still missing.

Formiche diplomatic sources do not disclose possible dates for signing the agreement.

The first meeting between Italian and Ukrainian officials to conclude the bilateral agreement took place on November 28 last year.

It is expected that the Italian agreement will be more similar to the French one than to the German one.

US working toward providing Ukraine with new long-range ATACMS variant

The Biden administration is working on providing Ukraine with new powerful long-range ballistic missiles.

At the end of last year, the United States began supplying Ukraine with tactical missile systems known as ATACMS, but so far, they have only supplied old ATACMS of medium range. Now, the United States is leaning towards sending a longer-range version of the missile, officials said. This will allow Ukraine to strike further within the controlled Crimea peninsula.

Defense department representatives told the media that the US has a limited supply of ATACMS and is unlikely to send them to Ukraine without money to replenish American stocks.

According to two American officials, if Congress approves increased funding for Ukraine, the United States may include long-range ATACMS systems in one of the first packages of military aid paid for with these funds.

The US also has ammunition and artillery ready for immediate shipment to Ukraine if funding is approved, officials added.

Biden willing to meet with House speaker over Ukraine aid bill

US President Joe Biden has agreed to meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson to discuss new funding for assistance to Ukraine.

"Sure I’d be happy to meet with him if he has anything to say," Biden said.

He added that the Republicans are making a big mistake by opposing the help Ukraine needs in the war with the Russian invaders.

The president also added that the Republicans are making a big mistake by "walking away from the threat of Russia" and "walking away from NATO."

"It's just shocking. I've never seen anything like it," Biden said.

According to the American leader, he hopes that the death of the so-called Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny will push Republicans to support aid to Ukraine, but added that he is not sure that it will change anything.

Ukrainian intelligence confirms death of Russian pilot who hijacked Mi-8 for Ukraine

Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov, who hijacked a Mi-8 helicopter and fled to Ukraine in the summer of 2023, was indeed killed. His body was found in Spain.

"We can confirm the fact of death," said a representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, Andrii Yusov.

However, Yusov did not specify the cause of the pilot's death.

The information appeared in Spanish media that on February 13, the body of a Ukrainian was found in the municipality of Villajoyosa.

As reported by the Eureka News project, the deceased was allegedly Maxim Kuzminov. However, the ages of the deceased and Kuzminov do not match. The Russian pilot is currently 27 years old, while the deceased found is 33 years old.