With Vladimir Putin claiming that Russia’s defeat is”impossible,” and the West being aware of this, the politically paralyzed US Congress finally agreed to consider legislation that would release billions of dollars for Ukraine. For his part, Volodymyr Zelensky appointed a new military chief and tasked him with producing a “realistic” battle plan for 2024.

In a lengthy interview broadcast on Thursday, Vladimir Putin told conservative American journalist Tucker Carlson that a Russian defeat in Ukraine was “impossible.”

In this two-hour message to America and the West, the Russian president also dismissed the idea of invading Poland or Latvia, two countries in which his country “has no interests.”

“So far, there’s been the ranting and screaming about (the need) to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield,” he told the former Fox News star host.

“But now, they seem to realize that it’s difficult to achieve, if not impossible. In my opinion, it’s impossible by definition. It’s never going to happen. It seems to me that now, those in power in the West are also aware of this,” added the man who launched the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“If this realization has been well understood, they need to think about what comes next. We are ready for this dialogue,” he assured.

“I believe an agreement can be reached,” he said. “There is no taboo in resolving this issue. We are ready to resolve it, but certain terms are being discussed via special services channels.”

Drone Attack in the Black Sea

Russia said on Friday that it had neutralized 19 Ukrainian drones overnight in four different regions and over the Black Sea. The attack targeted energy infrastructures in particular.

For its part, Ukraine claimed responsibility for a nighttime drone attack on two oil refineries in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, claiming to have caused at least “one major fire” at one of the sites.

“The drones of the Ukrainian security service hit two refineries in the Krasnodar region at the same time: not only the Ilsky refinery, but also the Afipsky refinery,” a source in the Ukrainian special services told AFP. Russia said on Friday that it had neutralized 19 Ukrainian drones overnight in four different regions and over the Black Sea. The attack targeted energy infrastructures in particular.

Replacement of Ukrainian General Valery Zaloujny

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the dismissal of Valery Zaloujny, commander-in-chief of Ukrainian forces since July 2021, amid growing disagreements between the two men.  Zelensky appointed Oleksandr Syrsky as the country’s new commander – an experienced general responsible for two of Ukraine’s biggest military achievements.

The Ukrainian president immediately demanded a “realistic” battle plan for 2024 from the new army commander, at a time when Kiev is worried about the erosion of Western support caused by internal dissension in the United States and the European Union.

Ukraine’s new military chief said on Friday that the Ukrainian army would have to evolve and be ready to change the way it fights Russian forces to win the war.

“Only changes and continuous improvement in the means and methods of warfare will enable us to succeed on this path,” said Syrsky in his first public comments since taking office.

First Step Taken by the US Congress

The US Congress took a first timid step on Thursday towards releasing envelopes for Ukraine and Israel, but their future remains highly uncertain, with lawmakers close to Trump refusing to give a single additional dollar to Kiev.

After months of bitter negotiations, the Senate finally agreed to consider a text that would release more than $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.

“This is a very important first step in continuing to support Ukraine in its victory,” hailed President Volodymyr Zelensky.

After examining the text, senators may vote on the package in a final vote in the next few days, before sending it to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Prisoner Exchange

Russia and Ukraine announced on Thursday that they had exchanged 100 prisoners of war from each side, more than a week after a similar operation involving several hundred soldiers.

“On February 8, following negotiations, 100 Russian servicemen who were in mortal danger in captivity returned from territory controlled by the Kiev regime. In return, 100 prisoners of war from Ukrainian forces were handed over,” said the Russian Defense Ministry.

With AFP