- Ukraine's Defense Minister Predicts When Russian Offensive May Start
- Former Wagner group commander apologizes for fighting in Ukraine and now wants to help bring perpetrators to justice
- The British donated £400 million to help Ukraine
- Dominick Waghorn:Race to arm Ukraine begins ahead of spring offensive
- Live coverage by Jess Sharp. Updates also fromDeborah Haynesin Ukraine andDiana Magnayin moscow
US defense officials say Ukrainian forces won't be able to retake Crimea anytime soon: report
Ukrainian forces are unlikely to be able to retake Crimea from Russian forces anytime soon, senior US defense officials say.Policy.
The news outlet reported that four Defense Department officials told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee in a secret briefing that the Pentagon does not believe Ukraine has or has the ability to force Russian troops to leave the peninsula.
One of the officials told Politico that the briefing was ambiguous, but the point was that "Ukraine's victory in an offensive to retake illegally annexed territories was not guaranteed."
Just for reference, Moscow conquered Crimea in 2014, well before the start of the Ukraine War.
The issue of retaking Crimea has been controversial for months, as US and European officials insist the peninsula is legally part of Ukraine.
However, they stopped fully equipping Kyiv to move to the area.
Russia wants an end to conflict in Ukraine but is reacting to Western actions: foreign minister
Russia wants the conflict in Ukraine to end but will respond to the West's arms delivery to Kyiv, the country's foreign minister has said.
According to Sergei Lavrov, Moscow's armed forces would respond to the supply of Western long-range weapons by trying to drive Ukrainian forces from its borders.
He said this would create a safe buffer zone.
In an interview with state television, Lavrov added that everyone would like to see an end to the conflict in Ukraine, but Western support for Kyiv plays an important role in Russia's approach to the campaign.
Austria revokes diplomatic immunity of four Russian diplomats
Austria lifted the diplomatic immunity of four Russian diplomats.
The Austrian Foreign Ministry said the four employees had been declared persona non grata for "inconsistent" behavior.
In diplomacy, persona non grata is a status applied by a host country to foreign diplomats to deprive them of diplomatic immunity protections from arrest and other types of prosecution.
"Of the four diplomats, two are Russian embassy employees who acted in violation of their diplomatic status," the ministry said.
"The other two are on permanent assignment to the UN in Vienna and acted inconsistently with the UN-Austria Headquarters Agreement."
EU officials arrive in Kyiv with promises of much-awaited military, financial and political aid
More than a dozen senior EU officials are due to arrive in the Ukrainian capital today, pledging more military, financial and political assistance.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, landed in Kyiv for the fourth time since the beginning of the war.
The symbolic trip is intended to highlight support for Ukraine on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion on February 24.
“It is a very strong signal that we are in Kyiv during the war. It is a sign for the Ukrainian people. It's a signal to Russia. It's a signal to the world," said a senior EU official.
However, Ukraine's hopes of joining the bloc soon are likely to be dashed.
Today, top members of the European Commission's EU executive will meet their Ukrainian counterparts, followed by a meeting on Friday between Ms. von derLeyen, the President of the 27 EU national leaders, Charles Michel, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Allies are ready to discuss a variety of topics, including:
- Send more weapons and money to Ukraine
- Promotion of access of Ukrainian products to the EU market
- Helping the country meet its energy needs
- Propose new sanctions against Russia
- Put the leaders on trial in Moscow for the war.
- Extending EU roaming-free mobile reach to Ukraine
Former Wagner Group commander apologizes for fighting in Ukraine and now wants to help bring those responsible to justice
A former commander of the Russian Wagner mercenary group who fled to Norway said he regretted the fighting in Ukraine and wanted to help ensure perpetrators were punished.
Andrei Medvedev fled Russia on Jan. 13 by jumping barbed wire fences, evading border controls and eventually crossing the Russian-Norwegian border.
The 26-year-old signed Wagner on a four-month deal in July 2022 but is now seeking asylum in Norway.
In an interview with Reuters, he described the killing and treatment of Russian prisoners who were taken to Ukraine to fight for the group while he was there.
"Many consider me a villain, a criminal, a murderer," Medvedev said.
"First of all, I want to apologize multiple times, and while I don't know how that would be received, I want to apologize.
"I want to explain that I'm not that person. Yes, I served with Wagner. There are some moments (in my history) that people don't like that I've gone through, but nobody is born smart."
The Wagner group recruits convicts to fight in Ukraine, where they are heavily involved in the Russian offensive.
Ukraine claims its fighters have died by the thousands.
Medvedev added that he now wants to talk about his war experiences so that "the perpetrators of their crimes in Ukraine are punished".
"I have decided to take a public stand to help ensure that perpetrators are punished in certain cases and I will try to do my part, at least a little bit," he said.
Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, previously said Medvedev worked in a Norwegian unit of Wagner and "mistreated prisoners".
"Careful, it's very dangerous," said Prigozhin.
Russia's ability to follow arms export deals will be "severely hampered" for at least the next three years, says the Defense Ministry.
Russia's ability to keep up with existing arms export deals is likely to be "seriously impaired" for at least the next three to five years as a result of the war in Ukraine, the kingdom's Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.
In its latest intelligence update (which you can read below), the Ministry of Defense said that Russia's role as a credible arms exporter would "very likely" be undermined by the invasion of Ukraine and international sanctions.
As component shortages also affect the production of equipment for export, Russia will likely struggle to produce armored vehicles, attack helicopters and air defense systems.
According to the Wilson Center research institute, Russia is the world's second largest arms exporter after the United States, accounting for 20% of global arms sales and $15 billion (£12 billion) in annual revenues.
At least three dead and 20 injured in Russian missile attack
At least three people were killed and 20 wounded after a Russian missile destroyed an apartment building and damaged seven others in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian police said.
Local authorities initially reported that Russia had fired a missile, but local police later said it was actually an Iskander-K tactical missile.
“At least eight houses were damaged. One of them was completely destroyed," police said in a Facebook post.
"People can get under the rubble."
At least 44 people were killed last month when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the eastern city of Dnipro.
"This is not a repeat of the past, this is the daily reality of our country, a country with absolute evil on its borders," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the attack.
Ukraine has accused Russian forces of indiscriminately bombing civilian infrastructure, a charge Moscow routinely denies.
According to Ukraine, 57 people were killed last April when a Russian missile hit the Kramatorsk railway station. Moscow has denied responsibility, saying the missile was from Ukraine.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Predicts When Russian Offensive May Start
Both Russia and Ukraine are believed to be preparing new offensives, and Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has proposed a date when he believes an attack from Moscow will begin.
Reznikov said the offensive could start around the symbolically important date of February 24, the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year.
"We keep telling our partners that we need to be prepared for this as soon as possible and therefore we need weapons," Reznikov told French television BFM.
Ukraine has received weapons promises from the West that offer new capabilities, the latest including missiles from the United States that would nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.
The Kremlin said long-range US missiles would escalate the conflict but not change its course.
Reznikov's prediction came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that fighting on the front lines in eastern Ukraine "has gotten tougher".
"On the front in the east of our country, there has been a significant increase in the occupier's offensive operations," Zelensky said.
"The enemy is now trying to do at least something to show that Russia has a chance on the anniversary of the invasion," he added in a video speech that evening.
The British donated £400 million to Ukraine through the Disaster Emergency Committee
The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) has announced a major new fundraiser for its humanitarian appeal in Ukraine, with UK donors contributing over £400m.
This makes DEC the largest charitable donor to Ukraine's response, according to the Financial Tracking Service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The British government funded the appeal with £25 million from public donations.
Donations were used to provide aid to refugees, including food, generators, mental health support and cash.
In a report, DEC said it achieved the following:
- Distribute food to people in war zones, including a team of volunteer couriers who deliver food and medicine to vulnerable people in their homes.
- Deliver 75,000 vital trauma kits for civilian use and 34 incubators for premature babies
- Provision of generators for people in air raid shelters
- Cash payments to people displaced from their homes
- Support special schools in Poland for refugee children
- Offer mental health support.
The organization also summarized the numbers and provided these numbers on how they helped during the first six months of the conflict:
- 1.9 million people with access to clean water
- 392,000 people received food aid, including hot meals and food baskets.
- 338,000 people received cash payments to cover their basic needs
- 127,000 people received basic services at transit centers for displaced people
- 71,000 people resorted to primary health services
- 114,000 people received help and legal advice
- 10,000 people received temporary housing
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage.
Before we introduce you to the latest updates today, here's a rundown of what's happening.
Russian forces advanced into eastern Ukraine and announced advances north and south of the disputed city of Bakhmut.
Ukraine has accused Russian forces of forcing Ukrainians from their homes in preparation for a possible offensive on the Eastern Front.
Away from the battlefield, Ukraine's allies are discussing more support for the war-torn country.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to the United States to ask for modern aircraft to be sent to Kyiv, but Downing Street quickly rejected the proposal.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace later said that no "right decision" had been made on the matter, but noted that it was not the right decision for now.