Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed a proposal by Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski to hold a meeting of the heads of Russia, Poland and Lithuania with the leadership of the European Union in Kaliningrad, an administrative centre of the similarly named Russian semi-enclave on the Baltic Sea. The Russian leader said this on Wednesday at a joint news conference with his Polish opposite number. This forum is expected to discuss practical steps to resolve the problems of the Kaliningrad region after Poland and Lithuania join the EU. Putin expressed dissatisfaction with the way the problem of the Kaliningrad region is being solved. "Efforts continually fail to arrange business-like cooperation on this problem with the European Union," the president said. He recalled that with Lithuania and Poland accepted as new EU members, the Kaliningrad region will become an enclave in the zone of the Schengen agreement countries. This problem will confront not only 1,300,000 inhabitants of the region, but also the European Union, Putin said, according to whom these people "are impossible to keep locked up". Russia suggests that the problem be solved before the EU expands. At the political level "everyone is saying yes, the issue needs solving, but economic implementation is still far off," Putin noted. He supported Aleksander Kwasniewski's proposal to intensify bilateral contacts between Russia and Poland and Lithuania on this matter.
A Russian fighter with call sign Rassvet (Sunrise) destroyed an Abrams tank in the area of Avdiivka, the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade said