Ukraine-Russia news – live: Germany ‘agrees to send tanks’ to help fight Putin’s forces

Germany has reportedly bowed to international pressure and agreed to send tanks to Ukraine to bolster the war effort against Vladimir Putin.

Berlin is expected to send Leopard 2 tanks to help fight Putin’s forces following a plea from Volodymyr Zelensky.

While there has been no official confirmation from Berlin yet, officials in Kyiv swiftly hailed what they said was a potential gamechanger on the battlefield.

“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews - the best tank crews in the world,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Zelensky’s administration, wrote on Telegram. This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy against the autocracy from the bog,”

Kyiv has pleaded for months for Western tanks that it says it desperately needs to give its forces the firepower and mobility to break through Russian defensive lines and recapture occupied territory in the east and south.

It comes as the family of one of two British volunteers missing in Ukraine confirmed they have been killed.

Key Points

  • Putin ‘could face ruin’ if spring offensive fails

  • Several Ukraine officials resign posts after Zelensky orders corruption clamp down

  • Ukraine pledges sweeping personnel changes amid corruption claims

  • Ukraine sanctions 22 associated with Russian Orthodox Church

  • Boris Johnson trip to Ukraine paid for by taxpayers, confirms No 10

Spring could be decisive in war

11:45 , Matt Mathers

Front lines in the war have been largely frozen in place for two months despite heavy losses on both sides.

Western countries pledged billions of dollars in military aid last week, but have yet to respond to Kyiv’s request for hundreds of heavy battle tanks, which it says it needs to break through Russian lines and recover occupied territory.

Most defence experts say the most suitable tanks available in sufficient numbers are German-made Leopards. But Berlin has so far held back from sending them, or from committing to let allies such as Poland send them.

Germany was not blocking the re-export of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday.

Ukraine and Russia are both widely believed to be planning spring offensives to break the deadlock in what has become a war of attrition in eastern and southern Ukraine.

"If the major Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the ruin of Russia and Putin," Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said in an interview with news site Delfi.

US could announce Abrams tanks for Ukraine, officials claim

19:34 , Andy Gregory

The United States could be poised to announce a decision to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, sources have suggested to multiple outlets.

Such a decision by Joe Biden’s administration chime with similar unverified claims coming out of Germany this evening – and anonymous officials have suggested that a simultaneous announcement could be made this week.

It was suggested last week, after a summit failed to break the deadlock on whether Germany would permit allies to re-export Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, that it could do so were Washington to ease its own reluctance to sending Abrams tanks.

Officials in Washington suggested that details there are still being worked out, with one reported as saying that Abrams tanks could be bought under its upcoming $850m Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package – which also includes a Patriot missile defence system.

Germany ‘to send company of tanks to Ukraine’ after pressure from allies

18:46 , Andy Gregory

Germany has decided to send a convoy of its main battle tanks to Ukraine, reports suggest, after days of pressure from Berlin’s allies.

Ukraine and many of Berlin’s Nato partners have been pleading for a decision on whether Germany would permit them to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to help Kyiv as the battlefield begins to thaw.

Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday evening that chancellor Olaf Scholz had finally decided to allow allies such as Poland to do so – and that Berlin would also send tanks of its own.

Germany 'to send company of tanks to Ukraine' after pressure from allies

Claims Treasury allowed Wagner founder to take UK journalist to court ‘will be looked at carefully’

17:57 , Andy Gregory

Allegations that the Treasury helped the founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group “circumvent sanctions” and take a British journalist to court will be “looked into very carefully”, a minister has suggested.

OpenDemocracy reported yesterday that a Treasury team gave Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s lawyers permission to sue a Bellingcat journalist in the UK in 2021 while the Russian oligarch was subject to sanctions.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran raised the allegations in the Commons today as MPs debated the government’s economic crime bill, asking business minister Kevin Hollinrake whether the report had been investigated, adding: “This is sanctions that we imposed, and yet somehow we are not imposing them in practice. This isn’t right.”

The minister replied: “I think it would be wrong to make any representations on any particular case, but anybody who seeks to enable somebody to avoid sanctions, clearly that is entirely unacceptable.

“I am sure those allegations will be looked into very carefully and we should definitely make sure there is a proper review before we come to any firm conclusions.”

Zelensky’s party ‘draws up new transparency laws' after corruption allegations

17:01 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine’s ruling party has drawn up legislation aiming to boost transparency in defence procurement – after an army food contract became the subject of high-profile corruption allegations.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team is trying to set out a tough stance after the defence ministry was accused by a media outlet of overspending on food – allegations it denied. The supplier has said it made a technical mistake and no money had changed hands.

Anastasia Radina, head of the parliamentary committee for anti-corruption matters, said the bill would make it obligatory for prices paid for products and services for the army to be made public on the state procurement website – with arms purchases exempt.

“We are obliged to ensure a level of transparency in procurement for the army, under which such scandals simply will not arise. Can it be done in a way that does not expose customers and suppliers to additional risks? Yes,” she said.

The legislation has been sent to parliament for discussion and would need to be approved in three votes in that chamber before being signed into law.

ICYMI: Wagner chief gloats about comparisons to Rasputin

16:30 , Matt Mathers

The chief of Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner has responded to comparisons made between him and Rasputin.

Referencing an article in the Financial Times which likened him to the historic Russian mystic, Yevgeny Prigozhin – the founder of Wagner – appeared to gloat about his intentions.

My colleague Eleanor Noyce reports:

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin gloats about comparisons to Russian mystic Rasputin

US may drop opposition to sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine - officials

16:00 , Matt Mathers

The United States, in a reversal, appears to be dropping its opposition to sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine and an announcement could come as soon as this week, two US officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were not aware of a final U.S. decision to send the Abrams to Ukraine, a move that could encourage Germany to follow.

The Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment.

Berlin will handle Poland's request with utmost urgency - senior official

15:20 , Matt Mathers

The German government will handle with utmost urgency Poland’s request to allow Warsaw the export of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the state secretary at the economy ministry said on Tuesday.

"I can only tell you: We will urgently work on taking a decision," Sven Giegold told a defence conference in Berlin organised by Handelsblatt, adding that the defence ministry was in the lead on the matter.

Russia's Putin says stockpile needed to curb drug shortages

14:50 , Matt Mathers

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that there were shortages of some medicines in Russia, despite the country producing more of its own drugs, and suggested building up stocks of popular medicines to help meet demand.

While prescription drugs are exempt from Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, their delivery to Russia has been hit by transport, insurance and customs hurdles caused by the war and other restrictive measures, industry figures say.

"There has been a shortage of some drugs, despite the fact that we saw production of pharmaceutical products in the (first) three quarters of last year grow by about 22 per cent," Putin said in a televised meeting with government officials.

"Sixty percent of medicines on the market are domestic drugs. Nevertheless, a deficit has formed in some drugs, and prices have risen."

Vladimir Putin (via REUTERS)
Vladimir Putin (via REUTERS)

Finland says time-out needed in talks with Turkey over NATO bid

14:35 , Matt Mathers

Finland’s foreign minister said on Tuesday a time-out of a few weeks was needed in Finland and Sweden’s talks with Turkey on their application to join the NATO military alliance.

Turkey’s president said on Monday that Sweden should not expect his country’s support after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm at the weekend, which included the burning of a copy of the Koran.

"A time-out is needed before we return to the three-way talks and see where we are when the dust has settled after the current situation, so no conclusions should be drawn yet," foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"I think there will be a break for a couple of weeks."

Pekka Haavisto (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Pekka Haavisto (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Britain will not dictate to allies over their support for Ukraine, says No 10

14:11 , Andy Gregory

Britain will not dictate to its allies what form their support for Ukraine should take, Downing Street has said, as Germany faces increasing pressure to approve the transfer of Leopard 2 battle tanks.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg became the latest to urge the speedy delivery of “heavier and more advanced” weapons systems to Ukraine, after talks with the new German defence minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin.

But Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said the UK government would not “dictate to other countries exactly what they should or should not provide – first and foremost that must be for those countries”.

He added: “We look to work with our allies in lockstep as much as possible. Our approach has borne fruit. You’ve seen the huge amounts of equipment, material and financial support that has been provided to Ukraine since the start of the war.”

Medvedev seeks to downplay claims Moscow running low on missiles

13:54 , Andy Gregory

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has sought to discredit Western military reports that Moscow’s stockpiles of missiles and artillery are running low.

“Our opponents are watching, they periodically make statements that we don’t have this or that ... I want to disappoint them. We have enough of everything,” Mr Medvedev said during a visit to a Kalashnikov factory in Izhevsk, some 620 miles east of Moscow.

In a video posted on his Telegram channel, Mr Medvedev – now the chair of Russia’s security council – was seen inspecting Kalashnikov rifles, artillery shells, missiles and drones.

 (Sputnik/Ekaterina Shtukina/Pool via REUTERS)
(Sputnik/Ekaterina Shtukina/Pool via REUTERS)

Ukraine appoints new supervisory board for state gas giant

13:00 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine has appointed a new supervisory board to oversee state-owned natural gas monopoly Naftogaz, prime minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday, meeting a requirement of a financial assistance programme from the International Monetary Fund.

Shmyhal told a government meeting that the new board consisted of four independent members and two representatives of the state, according to a video of the meeting posted on his Telegram channel.

Ukraine’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country on 24 Feb.

Naftogaz is Ukraine’s largest national oil and gas company and its subsidiary, Ukrtransgaz, operates a pipeline system that carries Russian gas to Europe.

Naftogaz’s recently appointed CEO, Oleksiy Chernyshov, promised late last year to boost international investors’ confidence in the firm.

One of Chernyshov’s predecessors is currently under investigation by Ukraine’s anti-corruption authorities on suspicion of embezzling the equivalent of around $10 million.

Russian lawmakers to consider booking system to cross land borders

12:42 , Matt Mathers

Russian lawmakers are preparing legislation that will make it mandatory for people to book a time and place in advance to cross the border, raising fresh fears that the Kremlin could impose more restrictions on travel in and out of the country.

Amendments to a transport law, introduced to parliament on Monday, stipulate that "vehicles belonging to Russian transport companies, foreign transport companies, citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, stateless persons and other road users" would have to reserve a date and time "in order to cross the state border of the Russian Federation".

Following speculation that the measures could be used to make it harder for ordinary Russians to leave the country, Russian news agencies quoted the transport ministry as saying the curbs would only apply to cargo trucks, and only be enforced at some, not all, of Russia’s land border crossing points.

"The main purpose of the bill is to streamline the movement of trucks flowing through checkpoints and reduce the congestion of cargo transport near border checkpoints," the RIA Novosti news agency cited the transport ministry as saying.

Two more deputy ministers resign in Ukraine government shake-up

11:24 , Matt Mathers

Two deputy ministers resigned from Ukraine’s Ministry of Communities and Territories Development on Tuesday amid a broader exit of senior officials from the government.

Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya both confirmed the moves on their Facebook pages.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he was planning to streamline his wartime government and crack down on corruption.

Decision on supplying tanks to Kyiv 'purely political' - German chief of defence

11:03 , Matt Mathers

The decision about the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine will be taken solely at the political level, Germany’s chief of defence Eberhard Zorn said on Tuesday.

"This is purely a political decision," he said at a defence conference in Berlin organised by Handelsblatt.

Berlin has for days been under pressure to provide tanks to Kyiv after several European countries vowed to do so.

Senior Ukrainian officials step down in rare purge in Kyiv

10:30 , Matt Mathers

Several senior Ukrainian officials resigned on Tuesday in the biggest leadership shakeup of the war with Russia so far, in what an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky called an answer to public calls for "justice".

Some, though not all, of the resignations were linked with corruption allegations. Ukraine has a history of graft and shaky governance, and is under international pressure to show it can be a reliable steward of billions of dollars in Western aid.

"There are already personnel decisions - some today, some tomorrow - regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in the regions and in law enforcement," Zelensky said in an overnight video address.

 (Ukraine President’s Office)
(Ukraine President’s Office)

Finland and Sweden Nato talks ‘need pause’

10:00 , Liam James

Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said official talks between Turkey, Finland, Sweden and Turkey on the two Nordic nations’ plans to join the Nato military alliance needed to pause for a few weeks.

Turkey’s president said yesterday that Sweden should not expect his country’s support for Nato membership after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm at the weekend including the burning of a copy of the Koran.

“A timeout is needed before we return to the three-way talks and see where we are when the dust has settled after the current situation, so no conclusions should be drawn yet,” Ms Haavisto told Reuters. “I think there will be a break for a couple of weeks,” he added.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They now need the backing of all current Nato states to progress with their application.

But alliance member Turkey has said Sweden in particular must take a clearer stance against what Ankara sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Covid-19 cut human trafficking, Ukraine war may reverse this

09:30 , Liam James

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the first drop in the known number of human-trafficking victims in 20 years as trafficking opportunities and policing were reduced, but the Ukraine war has probably now caused a new surge, a UN report said.

The number of detected trafficking victims fell 11 per cent in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available in most countries, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its seventh Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

Conflicts tend to increase trafficking and the war in Ukraine is unlikely to be an exception, it added.

Ukraine deputy prosecutor general out in corruption purge

09:00 , Liam James

Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general has been sacked by Volodymyr Zelensky, becoming the latest in a purge of officials over corruption claims.

The president threatened jail time for grafting officials as he announced that he would be clearing out the government ranks.

Deputy prosecutor general Oleksy Symonenko follows Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, and Vyacheslav Shapovalov, deputy defence minister, out the door.

A letter announcing Mr Symonenko’s departure said he left “according to his own wish”.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister next out the door in corruption scandal

08:30 , Liam James

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has resigned, citing “media accusations” of corruption that he and the ministry say are baseless.

A statement on the defence ministry’s website said that Vyacheslav Shapovalov’s resignation was “a worthy deed” that would help retain trust in the ministry.

Mr Shapovalov was responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment.

His resignation follows that of Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

Leading Zelensky aide resigns amid corruption scandal

08:03 , Liam James

The deputy head of Ukraine‘s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said he has asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to relieve him of his duties.

“I thank the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky for the trust and the opportunity to do good deeds every day and every minute,” Mr Tymoshenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app. The aide had been one of the leading social media presences getting the Ukraine government’s line across to the public.

Mr Tymoshenko gave no reason for his resignation. Ukrainian media had reported that Tymoshenko might be part of the personnel shake-up Mr Zelensky announced.

Mr Zelensky said on Monday that personnel changes would be announced this week in the government, the regions and in the security forces after allegations of corruption nearly a year into Russia’s invasion.

Tymoshenko holds up a letter as he announces his resignation (Reuters)
Tymoshenko holds up a letter as he announces his resignation (Reuters)

Boris Johnson urges more support for Ukraine ‘now’

07:30 , Stuti Mishra

Boris Johnson has urged western allies to give Ukraine “all the help that they need” to defeat Russian military forces, just a day after his surprise visit to the country.

In an editorial renewing his support for the war-torn nation, the former prime minister writes: “Look at those brave Ukrainians and answer me this question: just what the hell are we waiting for?”

Mr Johnson positioned himself as a key ally of Kyiv during his time at No 10 and has consistently called for further military support for Ukraine.

Click here for the full story.

 (Reuters)
(Reuters)

Is there more to Boris Johnson’s trip to Ukraine?

07:10 , Stuti Mishra

Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv and the towns of Bucha and Borodyanka, where he witnessed the destruction left after the Russian occupation in March last year, including massacres of civilians. Sean O’Grady looks at why.

To be fair to Johnson, he was one of the first Western leaders to comprehend the menace of Russian intentions towards Ukraine, and was a driving force in delivering assistance after the invasion last February.

Click here for the full story.

Rishi Sunak and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met to discuss Ukraine, Downing Street confirms

06:50 , Stuti Mishra

A Downing Street spokeswoman said on Monday: “The Prime Minister spoke to the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon.

“The leaders reflected on the close relationship between the UK and Ireland, and the Prime Minister said it was clear both nations were highly aligned when it came to shared values and challenges. He pointed to cooperation on areas like research and development and offshore wind.

“The leaders discussed the invasion of Ukraine, and the Prime Minister updated on the UK’s plans to accelerate its support to help the country secure a lasting peace.

“They also discussed the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the need to find solutions to the problems being faced by communities in Northern Ireland. Both leaders reflected on the need for Northern Ireland to have a power-sharing government up and running as soon as possible.

“The leaders agreed to stay in close touch.”

Boris Johnson’s bond with Ukraine is greater than you think

06:20 , Stuti Mishra

Every wall of the Rover Hotel in Lviv is inexplicably covered with photos of Boris Johnson cycling. In fact, the entire theme of the hotel is dedicated to our former prime minister (and his bikes).

When visiting Ukraine you would be forgiven for thinking that Johnson was still the British prime minister, writes Bel Trew.

Read more:

Boris Johnson’s bond with Ukraine is greater than you think | Bel Trew

What are the Leopard 2 tanks that could soon be sent to Ukraine

06:00 , Stuti Mishra

Following intense pressure from its allies, Germany appears to be inching toward approving deliveries of high-tech Leopard 2 main battle tanks that Ukraine and its biggest Western backers hope will boost Kyiv’s fight against Russian invaders.

Over the weekend German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said Berlin would not get in the way if Poland — arguably Ukraine’s most vocal supporter among European Union neighbours — wants to ship Leopard 2 tanks from its arsenal across the border into Ukraine.

Germany is also not ruling out supplying such tanks to Ukraine itself now, cautioning however that the implications of such a step need to be carefully weighed.

Here’s a look at what those tanks might mean for Ukraine’s defence against Russian forces — and hopes for driving them out.

A look at Leopard 2 tanks that could soon be sent to Ukraine

Poland adds pressure on Germany over Leopard tanks

05:40 , Stuti Mishra

Poland has stepped up pressure on Germany over arms to Ukraine, saying it would send German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv if other countries did the same, as Berlin says it would not stand in the way of the export.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government wants the widely-used tanks to help it break through Russian lines and recapture territory.

But Germany, which must approve re-exports of the Leopard, was reported to have held back the approval, wary of moves that could cause Moscow to escalate.

Germany’s foreign minister Anna Baerbock said on Sunday that she “would not stand in the way” of Poland if it were to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Alastair Jamieson has more:

Pressure grows on Berlin as Poland signals sending tanks to Ukraine

Boris Johnson trip to Ukraine paid for by taxpayers, confirms No 10

05:20 , Stuti Mishra

Security for Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Ukraine at the weekend was funded by taxpayers, Downing Street has said.

The former prime minister, facing fresh questions over his personal finances, said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had invited him to travel to Kyiv once again.

No 10 said Rishi Sunak was “supportive” of Mr Johnson’s trip, after warnings from military figures that the former PM should not be “looking for publicity” and could undermine the PM’s authority.

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest has more:

Boris Johnson trip to Ukraine paid for by taxpayers, say No 10

Putin ‘turning away' from Wagner group

05:00 , Stuti Mishra

Vladimir Putin is turning away from his reliance on the Wagner group of mercenaries to fight in Ukraine, according to military observers.

In its latest update on the Ukraine conflict, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the Russian president likely intends to rely on conventional Russian forces after recently appointing a new overall commander in General Valeriy Gerasimov.

Mr Putin may have felt threatened by Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s ambition in Moscow politics and his claims of his mercenaries’ importance to the Russian campaign, the ISW said.

The Kremlin was put in an uncomfortable position earlier this month when Mr Prigozhin claimed his fighters taken the Ukrainian town of Soledar several days before Russia officially made the same claim.

Ukraine sanctions 22 associated with Russian Orthodox Church

04:40 , Stuti Mishra

Ukraine has imposed sanctions on 22 Russians associated with the Russian Orthodox Church for what president Volodymyr Zelensky said was their support of genocide under the cloak of religion.

According to a decree issued by the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, the list includes Mikhail Gundayev, who represents the Russian Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches and other international organisations in Geneva.

Russian state media reported that Mr Gundayev is a nephew of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. Ukraine sanctioned Mr Kirill last year.

The sanctions are the latest in a series of steps Ukraine has taken against the Russian Orthodox Church, which has backed president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine which is now entering its 12th month.

“Sanctions have been imposed against 22 Russian citizens who, under the guise of spirituality, support terror and genocidal policy,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address late on Monday.

He said the punitive measures said that they would strengthen the country’s “spiritual independence”.

Corrupt officials will be 'actively' jailed, says Zelensky ally

04:20 , Stuti Mishra

A top ally of president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Kyiv would "actively" jail corrupt officials, as it adopts a zero-tolerance approach to corruption amid high-profile graft allegations.

The unnamed official's comments, reported by Reuters, come as Mr Zelensky is carrying out a sweeping personnel change amid reports that cabinet ministers and senior officials could be sacked imminently.

David Arakhamia, head of Mr Zelensky's Servant of the People party, said it had been made clear since Russia's invasion on 24 February 2022 that officials should "focus on the war, help victims, cut bureaucracy and stop dubious business".

"Many of them got the message. But many of them did not unfortunately. We're definitely going to be jailing actively this spring. If the humane approach doesn't work, we'll do it in line with martial law."

Ukraine pledges sweeping personnel changes amid corruption allegations

03:50 , Stuti Mishra

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has announced personnel changes are being carried out at senior and lower levels, following the most high-profile graft allegations since Russia’s invasion that threaten to dampen Western enthusiasm for the Kyiv government.

Reports of a fresh scandal in Ukraine, which has a long history of shaky governance, come as European countries bicker over giving Kyiv German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

“There are already personnel decisions - some today, some tomorrow - regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in the regions and in law enforcement,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Monday.

Mr Zelensky, who did not identify the officials to be replaced, said his plans included toughening oversight on travelling abroad for official assignments.

Several Ukrainian media outlets have reported that cabinet ministers and senior officials could be sacked imminently.

This comes after anti-corruption police on Sunday said they had detained the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 kickback over the import of generators last September, an allegation the minister denies.

A newspaper investigation accused the defence ministry of overpaying suppliers for soldiers’ food. The supplier has said it made a technical mistake and no money had changed hands.

Turkey's president says no support for Sweden's NATO bid

03:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Turkey’s president cast serious doubt on NATO’s expansion Monday after warning Sweden not to expect support for its bid for membership into the military alliance following weekend protests in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Rasmus Paludan’s Quran-burning protest on Saturday, saying it was an insult to everyone, especially to Muslims. He was particularly incensed at Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration to take place outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm under “the protection” of security forces.

“It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said in his first comments regarding the weekend protests, saying Sweden must have calculated the consequences of permitting Paludan’s demonstration.

The burning of Islam’s holy book angered people across the political spectrum in Turkey, just as Sweden and Finland appeared on the cusp of NATO membership after dropping their longstanding policies of military nonalignment following Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin now stands to benefit as the potential enlargement of the world’s most powerful military alliance appears to be stymied.

Read more:

Turkey's president says no support for Sweden's NATO bid

US: Ex-FBI counterintelligence agent aided Russian oligarch

02:00 , Eleanor Noyce

A former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official who investigated Russian oligarchs has been indicted on charges he secretly worked for one, in violation of U.S. sanctions. The official was also charged, in a separate indictment, with taking cash from a former foreign security officer.

Charles McGonigal, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York from 2016 to 2018, is accused in an indictment unsealed Monday of working with a former Soviet diplomat-turned-Russian interpreter on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire they purportedly referred to in code as “the big guy” and “the client.”

McGonigal, who had supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska, worked to have Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019 and took money from him in 2021 to investigate a rival oligarch, the Justice Department said.

Read more:

US: Ex-FBI counterintelligence agent aided Russian oligarch

Germany not blocking export of Leopard 2 tanks, says top EU diplomat

01:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell has stated that Germany is not blocking the export of the German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

Berlin is facing increasing pressure to supply these tanks to Ukraine.

“It seems Germany’s not going to ban the exporting of these weapons, if some EU member states who have them want to send them”, Borrell told a news conference on Monday.

The EU has approved a €500 million support package for Ukraine, bringing the total amount of military support to $3.9 billion according to Borrell.

He also remarked that the bloc’s support to Ukraine now rests at $53 billion, including military, financial, economic and humanitarian aid.

“We have to help Ukraine stop Russia”, urges Latvian Prime Minister

00:40 , Eleanor Noyce

The Latvian Prime Minister has reiterated his support for Ukraine, urging that Russia can only be stopped if the West supplies weapons.

On Monday, the EU approved €500 million of military aid for Ukraine. However, the pressure is still on for Berlin to supply German-made Leopard tanks.

“If Ukraine does not win then everyone has a huge problem because there is no indication that Russia will stop or would be interested in stopping”, Krisjanis Karins told Sky News.

“We have to help Ukraine stop Russia and that can only be done with the supplying of weapons.”

It was “quite important” that Germany was “fully on board” with other EU countries on supplying the German-made Leopard tanks, Karins added.

EU launches civilian mission to monitor Armenia-Azerbaijan border

00:01 , Eleanor Noyce

The EU has launched a civilian mission to monitor the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a region viewed by the Kremlin as Russia’s backyard.

The initiative was requested by Armenia, extending a 40-strong mission that was deployed for two months in 2022.

The new mission has a two-year mandate and is set to conduct “routine patrolling and report on the situation”, an EU statement confirmed.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought over control of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, a victory which Armenia won. 30,000 people were killed.

Armenia has accused Russian soldiers of failing to prevent fighting and stopping Azerbaijanis blockading the only route to Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the region in 2021 after a conflict which killed 6500 people.

Poland adds pressure on Germany with threat to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Monday 23 January 2023 23:40 , Eleanor Noyce

Poland has stepped up pressure on Berlin over arms to Ukraine, saying it would send German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv if other countries did the same.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government wants the widely-used tanks to help it break through Russian lines and recapture territory.

But Germany, which must approve re-exports of the Leopard, has held back, wary of moves that could cause Moscow to escalate, and says other Nato nations have yet to formally seek permission to supply Kyiv.

It came as EU foreign ministers agreed to allocate another £440m worth of military aid for Ukraine, along with a further £30m for “non-lethal equipment” for military training of Ukraine, Swedish and Czech officials.

Alastair Jamieson reports:

Pressure grows on Berlin as Poland signals sending tanks to Ukraine

Protocol row ‘isn’t rocket science’, says ex-taoiseach in call for solution

Monday 23 January 2023 23:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Dealing with concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol “isn’t rocket science”, and a solution must be found, a former Irish premier has said.

Bertie Ahern said the current stalemate which has plunged the Stormont Assembly into flux is “beyond comprehension”.

He emphasised that with a bit of flexibility it can be resolved.

“I really, really believe that this isn’t rocket science,” he said.

“When you think of the things that we resolved, we got the IRA to decommit their arms, we released prisoners … we reformed the old RUC to now a very competent international PSNI.”

Closing the session, Mr Hoare said the horrors of the war in Ukraine has “contextualised” the size of the problem.

“If the sophisticated, mature statecraft of Brussels, Westminster and Dublin can’t solve this, then I think we all have to begin to wonder what the hell are we all doing,” he said.

Rebecca Black has more:

Protocol row ‘isn’t rocket science’, says ex-taoiseach in call for solution

“Role who work for our economy from abroad…should not be punished”, says billionaire metals executive Vladimir Potanin

Monday 23 January 2023 22:40 , Eleanor Noyce

One of Russia’s richest tycoons, billionaire metals executive Vladimir Potanin, has called on the authorities to tolerate Russian workers who have fled following the Ukraine war.

“People who work for our economy from abroad - remotely or otherwise - should not be punished”, Potanin told the online RBC news portal.

He also called for an end to punitive measures against workers who had fled, many of whom did so to avoid being drafted into the army or because they morally disagreed with the war.

It is estimated that Potanin is Russia’s richest or second-richest person, with his wealth derived from his stake in metals giant Nornickel.

Boris Johnson makes shock visit to Ukraine amid further questions over his finances

Monday 23 January 2023 22:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Ukraine as he comes under pressure over claims that he involved the BBC chair Richard Sharp in talks that led to his securing an £800,000 line of credit while at No 10.

Former civil service chief Sir Bob Kerslake said there was “no question” that there appeared to be a conflict of interest – describing the reported involvement of Mr Sharp in the talks as an “important departure from what should really happen”.

The former prime minister was seen walking in the suburbs of Kyiv on Sunday, despite warnings from senior military figures that he should stay away and stop “looking for publicity”.

Adam Forrest reports:

Boris Johnson makes shock visit to Ukraine amid new questions over his finances

Russia now controls around 18% of Ukraine, Ministry of Defence states in update

Monday 23 January 2023 21:40 , Eleanor Noyce

The Ministry of Defence has issued an intelligence update on Ukraine.

Notably, it reports that the Russian force “continues to endure operational deadlock and heavy casualties.” Alongside Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, General Valery Gerasimov is seen as “out of touch and focused on presentation over substance.”

Gerasimov, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff and newly appointed commander in Ukraine, has started his tour with a drive to improve deployed troops’ day-to-day discipline, the update furthers.

Since the beginning of his command, officers have been clamping down on non-regulation uniform, travel in civilian vehicles, the use of mobile phones and non-standard haircuts. These measures have been met with sceptical feedback.

The MoD also remarks that 54% of the maximum amount of territory Russia sized since February 24 2022 has now been liberated.

It also revealed that 18% of the internationally recognised areas of Ukraine are still controlled by Russia.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Kremlin official claims West prevented negotiations that would have ended war in Ukraine

Monday 23 January 2023 21:10 , Eleanor Noyce

In a meeting with his South African counterpart, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed that Moscow was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war, but the US and other Western nations advised Kyiv against it.

“It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation, and by the end of March the two delegations agreed on the principle to settle this conflict,” Mr Lavrov stated.

“It is well known and was published openly that our American, British and some European colleagues told Ukraine that it is too early to deal, and the arrangement which was almost agreed was never revisited by the Kyiv regime.”

In 2022, Putin claimed that Russia was ready for talks but that Ukraine’s Western allies prevented those from happening.

Lavrov was in Pretoria for talks with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor.

Russia is looking to strengthen its relationship with its historical ally, which is taking a neutral stance on the war in refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Update on German supply of tanks to Ukraine “imminent”, says US spokesperson

Monday 23 January 2023 20:42 , Eleanor Noyce

Spokesperson for the US Department of State Ned Price has stated that an update on Germany’s supply of tanks to Ukraine is imminent, The Independent has learned.

“You can expect news in the coming days from Germany about the supply of tanks to Ukraine”, Price remarked in today’s briefing.

“So you know, we have the United States has concerns about any country, as we’ve said before, country exercising with Russia, while Russia wages a brutal war against Ukraine”, he added.

“We’ve said this before we’ve been consistent on this of course every participating country will make their own decision.”

Sean Penn's Ukraine documentary to premiere in Berlin

Monday 23 January 2023 20:40 , Eleanor Noyce

Sean Penn‘s film about the war in Ukraine, “Superpower,” will have its world premiere at this year’s Berlin film festival, organizers said Monday.

The documentary will run outside the main competition, which features 18 movies this year including John Trengrove’s “Manodrome” with Jesse Eisenberg and Adrien Brody.

Organizers said the Berlinale will pay special tribute this year to Ukraine and the protests in Iran.

The annual event takes place from Feb. 16-26.

Sean Penn's Ukraine documentary to premiere in Berlin

Wagner chief gloats about comparisons to Rasputin

Monday 23 January 2023 20:10 , Eleanor Noyce

The chief of Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner has responded to comparisons made between him and Rasputin.

Referencing an article in the Financial Times which likened him to the historic Russian mystic, Yevgeny Prigozhin – the founder of Wagner – appeared to gloat about his intentions.

“I am not very familiar with the history of Rasputin, but as far as I know, an important quality of Rasputin is that he staunched the blood flow of the young prince with incantations”, Prigozhin’s press service quoted as his response.

Grigori Rasputin was a Russian mystic and religious figure who befriended the royal family of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia’s final emperor before the dynasty was overthrown during the Russian Revolution.

He gained notable influence over the Royal Family, acting as a faith healer for Nicholas and wife Alexandra’s son, Alexei – the “young prince” referenced by Prigozhin - who suffered from haemophilia, a bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot properly.

“Unfortunately, I do not staunch blood flow. I bleed the enemies of our motherland. And not by incantations, but by direct contact with them”, Prigozhin furthered.

More here:

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin gloats about comparisons to Russian mystic Rasputin

Lavrov says West prevented negotiations to end Ukraine war

Monday 23 January 2023 19:40 , Eleanor Noyce

Moscow was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war but the U.S. and other Western nations advised Kyiv against it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday.

Lavrov’s remarks on a visit to South Africa were similar to those made last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country was for talks but Ukraine’s Western allies prevented that from happening.

The U.S. and other Western nations have said that Russia is not serious about negotiations to end the war, set to mark its one-year anniversary next month.

“It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation and by the end of March, the two delegations agreed on the principle to settle this conflict,” Lavrov said.

“It is well known and was published openly that our American, British, and some European colleagues told Ukraine that it is too early to deal, and the arrangement which was almost agreed was never revisited by the Kyiv regime.”

Mogomotsi Magome reports:

Lavrov says West prevented negotiations to end Ukraine war

Boris Johnson trip to Ukraine paid for by taxpayers, say No 10

Monday 23 January 2023 19:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Security for Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Ukraine at the weekend was funded by taxpayers’, Downing Street has said.

The former prime minister, facing fresh questions over his personal finances, said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had invited him to travel to Kyiv once again.

No 10 said Rishi Sunak was “supportive” of Mr Johnson’s trip, after warnings from military figures that the former PM should not be “looking for publicity” and could undermine the PM’s authority.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman confirmed the government paid for Mr Johnson’s security as he visited some of the warn-torn suburbs around capital Kyiv on Sunday.

“The costs of providing necessary protection for former prime ministers are paid for by the government. Beyond that I would not get into it,” said the No 10 spokesman.

Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said on Sunday that could not get into specifics “for security reasons” when asked who was stumping up for his trip.

Adam Forrest has more:

Boris Johnson trip to Ukraine paid for by taxpayers, say No 10

Hungary won't veto EU arms funding to Ukraine, official says

Monday 23 January 2023 18:40 , Eleanor Noyce

Hungary’s foreign minister said Monday that while his government isn’t in favor of the European Union sending funding for weapons to Ukraine, it won’t block a planned tranche of 500 million euros ($543 million) in assistance to Kyiv to use in the war with Russia.

Speaking at a news briefing on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Peter Szijjarto dismissed as “lies” media reports that emerged last week that Hungary planned to veto the funds earmarked for Ukraine under the bloc’s European Peace Facility.

Hungary opposes the delivery of Western weapons to Ukraine — something Szijjarto said could “lead to the prolongation or potential escalation” of the war — but the government won’t veto the aid package, he said.

“We don’t consider weapons shipments, nor the hundreds of millions of euros Europe has spent to finance them, a good idea. But we won’t block the decision,” he said.

While Hungary’s government hasn’t blocked previous payouts under the facility, which has to date delivered 3.1 billion euros in arms funding to Ukraine, it did veto an 18-billion euro aid package in December, leaving the EU’s other 26 nations scrambling to keep the money supply going.

Justin Spike reports:

Hungary won't veto EU arms funding to Ukraine, official says

Latvia expels Russian ambassador “in solidarity with Estonia”

Monday 23 January 2023 18:10 , Eleanor Noyce

In light of escalating Baltic tensions with Russia, Latvia has expelled its Russian ambassador.

Latvia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs tweeted “in solidarity with Estonia” as he made the announcement.

The Russian foreign ministry remarked that it had told the Estonian envoy he must leave next month. Both countries will be represented by a charge d’affaires.

Estonia has responded by requesting that the Russian envoy depart by February 7, as confirmed by Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu.

Lithuania expelled its Russian envoy in April.

Read more:

Russia, Estonia expel ambassadors amid 'destroyed' relations

Zelensky aide denies claims Ukraine storing weapons at nuclear plants

Monday 23 January 2023 17:40 , Eleanor Noyce

A Ukrainian presidential aide has dismissed a Russian claim that Ukrainian armed forces are storing weapons at nuclear power stations.

Mykhailo Podolyak branded the allegations “lies”, remarking that Ukraine has never stored any weapons on nuclear power plant territory.

“Ukraine is always open to inspecting bodies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the advisor tweeted.

“Russians’ lies are aimed to justify their provocations.”

Russia’s foreign intelligence service reported that US-supplied rocket launchers, air defence systems and artillery ammunition had been delivered to the Rivne nuclear power station in the northwest.

Russia did not substantiate these claims with evidence.

EU grants €500m in military aid for Ukraine

Monday 23 January 2023 17:10 , Eleanor Noyce

The EU has approved €500m military aid package for Ukraine, Sky News reports.

Hungary approved the decision, having previously blocked the package. However, it also signalled its opposition towards more sanctions, notably any that would constrict its deal with Moscow on nuclear energy.

Another €45m allocated towards “non-lethal equipment” is set to be part of the EU’s military training mission for Ukraine, as per one of its diplomats.

Hungary won't veto EU arms funding to Ukraine, official says

Monday 23 January 2023 16:40 , Associated Press

Hungary’s foreign minister said that while his government is not in favour of the European Union sending funding for weapons to Ukraine, it will not block a planned tranche of €500m (£438m) in assistance to Kyiv to use in the war with Russia.

Speaking at a news briefing on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Peter Szijjarto dismissed as “lies” media reports that emerged last week that Hungary planned to veto the funds earmarked for Ukraine under the bloc’s European Peace Facility.

Hungary opposes the delivery of Western weapons to Ukraine – something Mr Szijjarto said could “lead to the prolongation or potential escalation” of the war – but the government won’t veto the aid package, he said.

“We don’t consider weapons shipments, nor the hundreds of millions of euros Europe has spent to finance them, a good idea. But we won’t block the decision,” he said.

Russia ‘may have’ orchestrated letter bomb to Spanish prime minister

Monday 23 January 2023 16:23 , Eleanor Noyce

Russian military intelligence officers may be behind the letter bomb sent to the Spanish prime minister, the New York Times reports.

The event was part of a wider letter bomb campaign in Spain.

US officials believe that Russian officers directed individuals from a white supremacist militant group to carry out the attacks, of which there were six in total. One person was injured.

The Russian Imperial Movement has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US, and has members across Europe. Investigators are now looking into this movement.

US officials also believe that Russia could be testing out its proxy organisations.

Germany sends Patriots on way to Ukraine

Monday 23 January 2023 16:03 , Liam James

Germany has dispatched the first two out of three Patriot air defence units that will be sent to the Polish town of Zamosc close to the Ukrainian border where they will be deployed to prevent stray missile strikes.

Two men were killed by a stray Ukrainian missile that struck the Polish village of Przewodow in the region last November, in an incident that raised fears of the war in Ukraine spilling over the border.

As a result, Berlin offered to deploy three of its Patriot units to Poland to help secure its air space. Ground-based air defence systems such as Raytheon’s Patriot are built to intercept incoming missiles.

Convoy of German Patriots on the way to Poland (Reuters)
Convoy of German Patriots on the way to Poland (Reuters)

Norway denies planning to deport Wagner asylum seeker

Monday 23 January 2023 15:26 , Liam James

Norwegian authorities have denied planning to deport an asylum seeker who entered the country to flee the Wagner group of mercenaries.

Russian Andrey Medvedev, formerly a fighter with Wagner, “has been arrested under the Immigration Act and it is being assessed whether he should be produced for detention,” Jon Andreas Johansen of Norwegian immigration police told The Associated Press. Norway’s VG newspaper said detaining him is not a punishment, but a security measure.

Norway‘s National Criminal Investigation Service, which takes part in the investigation of war crimes in Ukraine said it was questioning Mr Medvedev who “has the status of a witness.”

Mr Medvedev, who has been on the run since he defected from the Wagner Group, has reportedly told Gulagu.net that he is ready to tell everything he knows about the shady paramilitary group and its owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire with ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Andrei Medvedev after arriving in Norway (Gulagu)
Andrei Medvedev after arriving in Norway (Gulagu)

Zelensky ally says Ukrainian officials to be jailed in anti-corruption drive

Monday 23 January 2023 14:00 , Liam James

A top ally of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said corrupt officials would be rounded up and jailed as part of a zero tolerance policy, after the most high-profile graft allegations since Russia invaded burst into public view.

On Sunday, anti-corruption police said they had detained the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 (£324,000) kickback to facilitate the import of generators into wartime Ukraine last September.

Separately, a newspaper investigation published on Saturday accused the Defence Ministry of overpaying suppliers for food for its soldiers. The ministry said the report contained “signs of deliberate manipulation” and was “misleading”.

David Arakhamia, head of Mr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, said: “We’re definitely going to be jailing actively this spring. If the humane approach doesn’t work, we’ll do it in line with martial law.”

Fighting corruption was Mr Zelensky’s trademark policy ahead of the invasion, having won a landslide victory in 2019 on a promise to clean up Ukraine’s crooked institutions.

Russia expels ambassador from Nato member Estonia after it calls for Ukraine to get German tanks

Monday 23 January 2023 13:30 , Liam James

Russia has announced that it is downgrading its relationship with Nato member Estonia by asking the country’s envoy to leave by next month (Sravasti Dasgupta writes).

In a statement on Monday, Russia’s foreign ministry said both countries would be represented in each other’s capitals by an interim charge d’affaires instead of ambassadors.

It added that the move was in response to an Estonian bid to reduce the size of the Russian embassy in capital Tallinn.

“In recent years, the Estonian leadership has purposefully destroyed the entire range of relations with Russia. Total Russophobia, the cultivation of hostility towards our country have been elevated by Tallinn to the rank of state policy,” the Russian foreign ministry statement said.

Russia expels ambassador from Nato member Estonia after calls to get German tanks