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Ukraine-Russia war – live: Army chief Zaluzhny sacked by Zelensky in major military shake-up

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked army chief Valeriy Zaluzhny and replaced him with Oleksandr Syrsky.

It follows days of speculation that Zelensky was considering dismissing Zaluzhny, who is seen by many Ukrainians as a national hero for overseeing the war effort since February 2022.

“We discussed what renewal the Armed Forces of Ukraine need. We also discussed who could be in the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The time for this renewal is now,” Zelensky’s statement said on Telegram.

In other developments, Ukrainian troops have shot down a Russian attack helicopter in eastern Ukraine near the city of Avdiivka as soldiers step up street fighting, Kyiv claimed.

Troops used a portable anti-aircraft missile to take down the Ka-52 Alligator aircraft, according to commander Oleksandr Tarnavskyi.

Meanwhile, Russian forces launched the second largest combined drone and missile strike on Ukraine this year with around 64 munitions hitting the country, according to a US think tank.

The assault included 20 Shahed 136/131 drones; 29 Kh-101/555/55 cruise missiles; four Kh-22 cruise missiles; three Kalibr cruise missiles; three Iskander-M ballistic missiles; and five S-300 surface-to-air missiles.

Key Points

  • Army chief Zaluzhny sacked by Zelensky in major military shake-up

  • Ukrainian troops shoot down Russian attack helicopter, Kyiv claims

  • Huge explosion rocks Russian missile plant

  • Explosions rock Kyiv as Russia launches huge wave of strikes against Ukraine

  • Tucker Carlson reveals he's interviewing Putin in Moscow

Zelensky says he is preparing reset of senior Ukrainian leadership

00:01 , Alexander Butler

Zelensky says he is preparing reset of senior Ukrainian leadership

Norway must brace for conflict with Russia amid Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids, warns defence minister

Thursday 8 February 2024 22:30 , Alexander Butler

Norway must brace for conflict with Russia amid Nato bids, warns defence minister

Turkish war drone factory to open in Ukraine with plans to supply to 30 countries

Thursday 8 February 2024 21:30 , Alexander Butler

Turkish war drone factory to open in Ukraine with plans to supply to 30 countries

Wagner commander who fled from Russia to Norway begs for asylum

Thursday 8 February 2024 20:30 , Alexander Butler

Wagner commander who fled from Russia to Norway begs for asylum

Patients travelling to Ukraine and pulling own teeth out amid NHS shortages, shadow health minister says

Thursday 8 February 2024 19:30 , Alexander Butler

Patients going to Ukraine and pulling own teeth out amid NHS shortage, minister says

Ukraine launches new branch of armed forces dedicated exclusively to drones

Thursday 8 February 2024 18:30 , Alexander Butler

Ukraine launches new branch of armed forces dedicated exclusively to drones

How IKEA is trying to stop Russian copycats during Putin’s war

Thursday 8 February 2024 17:30 , Alexander Butler

How IKEA is trying to stop Russian copycats during Putin’s war

Army chief Zaluzhny sacked by Zelensky in major military shake-up

Thursday 8 February 2024 17:06 , Joe Middleton

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked army chief Valeriy Zaluzhny and replaced him with Oleksandr Syrsky.

It follows days of speculation that Zelensky was considering dismissing Zaluzhnyf, who is seen by many Ukrainians as a national hero for overseeing the war effort since February 2022.

“We discussed what renewal the Armed Forces of Ukraine need. We also discussed who could be in the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The time for this renewal is now,” Zelensky’s statement said on Telegram.

In a separate statement, Zaluzhny said he had an “important and serious conversation” with Zelensky and that a decision had been made to change battlefield tactics and strategy.

“The tasks of 2022 are different from the tasks of 2024. Therefore, everyone must change and adapt to new realities as well. To win together too,” his statement said on Telegram messenger.

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who has led Ukraine’s ground forces since 2019, was promoted to commander of the armed forces on Thursday as the war with Russia nears its third year.

Britain extends tariff-free trade with Ukraine for another five years

Thursday 8 February 2024 16:30 , Alexander Butler

Britain extends tariff-free trade with Ukraine for five years

Who is Boris Nadezhdin? The Russian presidential challenger banned from running against Putin

Thursday 8 February 2024 15:30 , Alexander Butler

Who is Boris Nadezhdin? The Russian challenger banned from running against Putin

Russian anti-war Putin critic says he has been banned from presidential election

Thursday 8 February 2024 14:30 , Alexander Butler

Russian anti-war Putin critic says he has been banned from presidential election

Belarusian special forces looking for Ukrainian informants

Thursday 8 February 2024 13:30 , Alexander Butler

Belarus has been increasingly targeting Ukrainians living in the country over the last month and is actively “looking for informants”, Ukraine’s National Resistance Centre claimed.

The organisation, which is part of Kyiv’s Special Operations Forces, said cases of Ukrainians being summoned for questioning in Belarus had “become more frequent”.

“The Belarusian special services are looking for informants among Ukrainians and plan, on the contrary, to involve them in cooperation,” it said.

Ukrainian troops shoot down Russian attack helicopter, Kyiv claims

Thursday 8 February 2024 13:06 , Alexander Butler

Ukrainian troops have shot down a Russian attack helicopter in eastern Ukraine near the city of Avdiivka as soldiers step up street fighting, Kyiv claimed.

Troops used a portable anti-aircraft missile to take down the Ka-52 Alligator aircraft, according to commander Oleksandr Tarnavskyi.

It comes after the UK ministry of defence said Avdiivka remained the primary focus of Russian operations with offensive pressure highly likely to continue over the next few weeks.

“Over the past four weeks, approximately 600 guided munitions have been launched against Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka from tactical aircraft,” the MoD said.

“Russian sorties increased guided aerial munitions strikes from 30 to 50 per day on 5 February 2024, an increase of 66 per cent over the last two weeks.”

Ten Ukrainian attacks ‘repelled’ and up to 290 troops killed or wounded, Russia claims

Thursday 8 February 2024 13:00 , Alexander Butler

Putin’s troops have repelled 10 Ukrainian attacks over Russian-occupied Donetsk, according to Moscow’s defence ministry.

The ministry said units had also killed or wounded up to 290 members of Ukraine’s military.

It said Russian forces had taken “more advantageous lines and positions” and “hit clusters of manpower and hardware” along defence brigades in the region.

Italy to help repair roof of Ukraine's Odesa cathedral

Thursday 8 February 2024 12:30 , Alexander Butler

Italy will help with the rebuilding of a cathedral in the Ukrainian city of Odesa that was badly damaged by a missile strike last year, the Italian foreign ministry said.

Italy and UNESCO signed an agreement in Kyiv to provide 500 million euros ($539 million) towards the restoration of the roof of Odesa’s Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, or Transfiguration Cathedral.

“Italy is very committed, through its institutions and its industrial capacity, to the reconstruction of Ukraine,” ambassador Pier Francesco Zazo said.

Italy will help rebuild Ukraine’s Transfiguration Cathedral which has been damaged by Russian attacks (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Italy will help rebuild Ukraine’s Transfiguration Cathedral which has been damaged by Russian attacks (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Fears for Ukrainian town as Russian soldiers attack ‘from all directions’

Thursday 8 February 2024 12:00 , Alexander Butler

Fears for Ukrainian town as Russian soldiers attack ‘from all directions’

Russian anti-war Putin critic says he has been banned from presidential election

Thursday 8 February 2024 11:30 , Alexander Butler

Russian anti-war Putin critic says he has been banned from presidential election

Two officers injured in overnight 'mass attack', says Ukraine's national police

Thursday 8 February 2024 11:00 , Alexander Butler

Two officers have been injured in an overnight Russian drone attack, Ukraine’s national police has said.

The force said Russia launched a “mass attack” on the city of Odesa overnight, damaging a six-storey building and an “educational institution”, according to a post on Telegram.

It said the two policeman were patrolling and on their way to help residents when they were hit. They have both suffered mine-explosive injuries but they are in a stable condition, it added.

Germany’s Scholz praises Biden for united Russia response ahead of visit

Thursday 8 February 2024 10:30 , Alexander Butler

US president Joe Biden’s leadership is critical in ensuring a united response to Russian aggression, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

“Our message is clear: We have to do our utmost to prevent Russia from winning” in Ukraine, Mr Scholz wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

“The long-term consequences and costs of failing to stop Mr. Putin’s aggression would dwarf any of the investments that we are making now.”

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said Biden’s leadership was critical in ensuring a united response to Russian aggression. File photo. (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
German chancellor Olaf Scholz said Biden’s leadership was critical in ensuring a united response to Russian aggression. File photo. (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Huge explosion rocks Russian missile plant

Thursday 8 February 2024 10:09 , Alexander Butler

A huge explosion has rocked a Russian missile plant in what state media claimed was a “planned rocket engine test”, footage appears to show.

The blast was recorded near the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, which manufactures missile engines and strategic ballistic missiles in Izhevsk, Russia.

“We received a notification from the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant. It was a rocket engine test. A planned event, not an emergency,” Zavyalovsky District united dispatch service said.

Russia launches 600 guided munitions at Avdiivka in last month, MoD says

Thursday 8 February 2024 10:00 , Alexander Butler

Vladimir Putin’s troops have launched around 600 guided munitions at the besieged town of Avdiivka, Ukraine, over the last month, the UK’s ministry of defence said.

The MoD said the town remained the primary focus of Russian operations with offensive pressure highly likely to continue over the next few weeks.

“Over the past four weeks, approximately 600 guided munitions have been launched against Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka from tactical aircraft,” the MoD said.

“Russian sorties increased guided aerial munitions strikes from 30 to 50 per day on 5 February 2024, an increase of 66 per cent over the last two weeks.”

Biden blames trump for sinking US deal to fund Ukraine war effort

Thursday 8 February 2024 09:30 , Alexander Butler

President Joe Biden has blamed Donald Trump for sinking a bill set to deliver billions of dollars of aid to Ukraine after Republicans ditched their support over pressure from the former president.

The $118bn deal would also include aid to Israel and Taiwan, as well as securing immigration along the US’s southern border with Mexico.

“He’d rather weaponise this issue than actually solve it. For the last 24 hours, he’s done nothing at all but reach out to Republicans in the House and the Senate and threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal. And it looks like they’re caving,” Mr Biden said.

President Joe Biden blamed Donald Trump for sinking a $118bn bipartisan deal (AP)
President Joe Biden blamed Donald Trump for sinking a $118bn bipartisan deal (AP)

The soldiers who swapped fighting drug cartels with a bloody war against Putin

Thursday 8 February 2024 08:49 , Alexander Butler

The sound of Colombian Spanish fills a hospital treating soldiers wounded fighting Russian forces.

Ukraine‘s ranks are depleted by two years of war. As it battles Putin’s war machine, Ukraine is welcoming hardened fighters from one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.

Professional soldiers from Colombia bolster the ranks of volunteers from around the world who have answered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call for foreign fighters to join his nation’s war with Russia.

The soldiers who swapped fighting drug cartels with a bloody war against Putin

11 out of 17 Russian drones downed over Ukraine, air force says

Thursday 8 February 2024 08:24 , Alexander Butler

Ukrainian air defence and mobile drone hunter groups shot down 11 out of 17 Russia-launched drones over four regions of the country, the air force said.

It said in a statement the Iranian-made Shahed drones were downed over the Odesa and Mykolayiv regions in the south, the Dnipropetrovsk region in the southeast, and the central Vinnytsia region.

Regional officials said the drone attack damaged more than 20 residential houses and commercial buildings in the city of Mykolayiv and hit civilian infrastructure facilities in Odesa on the Black Sea in the south.

There were no casualties reported. Details of damage in other regions were not immediately clear.

Ukraine launches new branch of armed forces dedicated exclusively to drones

Thursday 8 February 2024 07:00 , Tom Watling

Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered officials to create a separate branch of the army dedicated to drones as they have been instrumental in Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces.

“I have just signed a decree initiating the establishment of a separate branch of our defence forces – the unmanned systems forces. This is not a matter of the future, but something that should yield a very concrete result shortly,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address.

Ukraine launches new branch of armed forces dedicated exclusively to drones

Norway must brace for conflict with Russia amid Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids, warns defence minister

Thursday 8 February 2024 06:00 , Tom Watling

Norway’s defence minister urged his country to be ready for a possible conflict with Russia even after the end of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said Russia might retaliate in response to Finland and Sweden‘s new Nato membership. Other Nato nations have also explicitly warned of Russia’s aggression and plans to disrupt peace in the region in the past few months.

Norway must brace for conflict with Russia amid Nato bids, warns defence minister

A bestselling novelist was duped by pro-Putin prank callers. He now faces jail

Thursday 8 February 2024 05:00 , Tom Watling

A Moscow court has ordered the arrest of a bestselling novelist living in London on charges of “justifying terrorism” – the latest incident in a Kremlin crackdown on Russians opposing the war in Ukraine.

Grigory Chkhartishvili, known under the pen name Boris Akunin, was charged in absentia by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on Tuesday. He is now under an arrest warrant and will be detained if he returns to Russia.

A bestselling novelist was duped by pro-Putin prank callers. He now faces jail

Russia attacks targets across Ukraine with missiles and drones as EU’s top diplomat visits Kyiv

Thursday 8 February 2024 04:00 , Tom Watling

Russia fired cruise and ballistic missiles and Shahed-type drones at targets across Ukraine on Wednesday morning, authorities reported, killing at least three civilians and injuring 10 others, including a pregnant woman.

The attacks targeted at least three major cities, including the capital Kyiv, where the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, was discussing military aid and financial support for Ukraine.

Russia attacks targets across Ukraine with missiles and drones as EU’s top diplomat visits Kyiv

NATO allies warn Hungary not to hold up Sweden's membership as US patience wears thin

Thursday 8 February 2024 03:00 , Tom Watling

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that he and his NATO counterparts cautioned Hungary on Wednesday against further delaying Sweden’s membership in the military alliance, and he warned that patience in Washington has its limits.

Lawmakers from the party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán boycotted an emergency session of parliament on Monday where a vote was scheduled to place Sweden’s bid to join NATO on the legislative agenda, adding to 18 months of delays that have angered Hungary’s allies.

NATO allies warn Hungary not to hold up Sweden's membership as US patience wears thin

Wagner commander who fled from Russia to Norway begs for asylum after police arrest him outside Oslo bar

Thursday 8 February 2024 02:00 , Tom Watling

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who fled to Norway last year has been denied asylum but will not be deported as it is too dangerous to send him back, his lawyer has said.

Andrei Medvedev, who escaped Russia in January 2023 across its Arctic border with Norway, has described running as Russian guards shot at him. He has spoken about his time fighting in Ukraine as part of Wagner.

Wagner commander who fled from Russia to Norway begs for asylum

Kremlin corrects Tucker Carlson’s false claim that no Western journalists tried to interview Putin

Thursday 8 February 2024 01:00 , Tom Watling

The Kremlin has slapped down a claim by far-right influencer Tucker Carlson that no Western journalists have tried to interview Russian president Vladimir Putin about his invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Carlson accused the Western media of engaging in “fawning pep sessions” with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he has previously called a “dictator” and likened to a rat, while confidently asserting that “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview the president of the other country involved in this conflict: Vladimir Putin”.

Kremlin corrects Tucker Carlson claim that no Western media tried to interview Putin

Russian upper house approves bill to confiscate assets of those convicted of discrediting the army

Thursday 8 February 2024 00:00 , Tom Watling

After a brief discussion, the upper house of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday endorsed a bill that would allow authorities to confiscate money, valuables and other assets from people convicted of spreading “deliberately false information” about the country’s military.

The bill, which was approved equally quickly by the lower house last week, is expected to receive Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature and become law soon.

Russian upper house approves bill to confiscate assets of those convicted of discrediting the army

Refugees going back to Ukraine and people pulling own teeth out amid NHS shortages, minister says

Wednesday 7 February 2024 23:00 , Tom Watling

Patients are pulling their teeth out and Ukrainian refugees are flying back to the war-torn country for appointments amid a lack of NHS dentistry services, Wes Streeting has said.

It comes after a seven-year-old Ukrainian girl and her mother flew to Poland and took a 15-hour bus across Ukraine for dental treatment because the NHS waiting list was so long.

A British Dental Association survey of 500 UK dentists found that “DIY” dentistry is “rampant” - 82 per cent of respondents said they have treated patients who have taken matters into their own hands since lockdown.

The BDA said “DIY dentistry” could be any form of DIY dental care, from a simple filling kit to an attempt at extraction.

Patients going to Ukraine and pulling own teeth out amid NHS shortage, minister says

Ukraine launches new branch of armed forces dedicated exclusively to drones

Wednesday 7 February 2024 22:00 , Tom Watling

Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered his officials to create a separate branch of the army specially dedicated to drones as they have been instrumental in Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces in the continuing invasion.

“I have just signed a decree initiating the establishment of a separate branch of our Defence Forces – the Unmanned Systems Forces. This is not a matter of the future, but something that should yield a very concrete result shortly,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Tuesday.

Ukraine launches new branch of armed forces dedicated exclusively to drones

North Korean missiles used in Kharkiv attack, claims local police official

Wednesday 7 February 2024 21:00 , Tom Watling

Two of the five missiles fired at Ukraine’s second largest city on Wednesday morning were provided by North Korea, a local official has said.

Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the Kharkiv region police, said they had found the remnants of two North Korean HWASON 11GA (KN-23) missiles.

"Metal fragments of ballistic missiles were collected by explosives on the territory of the industrial zone,” he said. “The preliminary conclusions of specialists are that they are North Korean HWASON 11GA (KN-23) missiles.”

The United States, Ukraine and six allies have previously accused Russia of using North Korean ballistic missiles and launchers supplied by Pyongyang in aerial attacks against Ukraine, in violation of United Nations sanctions.

A Ukrainian police officer in Kharkiv takes pictures allegedly showing the debris of a North Korean missile (Serhiy Bolvinov / Facebook)
A Ukrainian police officer in Kharkiv takes pictures allegedly showing the debris of a North Korean missile (Serhiy Bolvinov / Facebook)

How IKEA is trying to stop Russian copycats during Putin’s war

Wednesday 7 February 2024 20:02 , Tom Watling

IKEA has extended its trademark in Russia in a bid to stop copycat stores that are opening up across the country amid Putin’s war on Ukraine.

The country has officially extended the validity of trademarks for the Swedish furniture giant until August 2033, a move brand owner Inter IKEA said was driven by the need to protect the company’s intellectual property rights.

Like many large Western firms, IKEA halted its Russian operations shortly after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in 2022 and completed the sale of its factories the following year.

How IKEA is trying to stop Russian copycats during Putin’s war

Labour peer claims peace deal with Moscow would be ‘cheaper for all'

Wednesday 7 February 2024 18:48 , Andy Gregory

Seeking to strike a peace deal with Moscow and end the war in Ukraine would be “cheaper for all”, a Labour peer has told the House of Lords.

Former MP Lord Campbell-Savours made the call as the two-year anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine approaches.

Foreign minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon responded to the Labour peer by noting that it was the Kremlin which was the aggressor and that Mr Putin had it in his power to end the war now.

The Labour frontbench also made clear it backed the UK government’s stance.

Russia claims to shoot down seven rockets over Belgorod

Wednesday 7 February 2024 18:26 , Andy Gregory

Russia’s air defence systems destroyed seven Ukraine-launched rockets and two drones over the southwestern region of Belgorod, the Russian defence ministry has claimed.

The Ukrainian strike was carried out with Czech-made Vampire rockets, the ministry said – the same type which, according to Moscow, was used in deadly strikes on the city of Belgorod in late December.

Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said two people had been injured.

‘No plan B’ to getting Ukraine aid package through US Congress, White House says

Wednesday 7 February 2024 16:47 , Andy Gregory

The White House is focused on getting a Ukraine aid package through the US Congress, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said – warning there was no “plan B”.

“We believe we still can and will deliver aid for Ukraine,” Mr Sullivan told reporters during a joint press conference with Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The latter said it was vital the US Congress agreed on continued support for Ukraine in the near future, adding that Nato did not see “any imminent threat against any Nato ally”.

“We must sustain our support and that is a responsibility for all allies,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

Watch: Tucker Carlson reveals he's interviewing Putin in Moscow

Wednesday 7 February 2024 15:54 , Andy Gregory

Russia and Iran not invited to Berlin Security Conference, chair says

Wednesday 7 February 2024 15:15 , Andy Gregory

Russian and Iranian government officials have not been invited to this year’s Munich Security Conference, as they did not seem open to meaningful dialogue, according to event’s chair has said.

Christoph Heusgen said he hoped the meeting later this month would discuss the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, and associated tensions in the Middle East, as well as other conflicts which receive less attention but are causing major humanitarian crises, such as the 10-month-old war in Sudan, which has displaced millions.

Citing the example of US and Chinese officials engaging in a rare dialogue last year’s event, which led to further engagement, he told Reuters: “So we hope Munich offers the opportunity to make these small steps.”

Mr Heusgen, a longtime foreign policy adviser to former German chancellor Angela Merkel, also said he expects the attendance of high-ranking Chinese officials, but told German press agency DPA that the Iranian and Russian governments had not been invited because they had not shown a serious interest in negotiations.

However, Iranian and Russian non-governmental organisations had been invited, he said. Mr Heusgen, who was condemned by Israel’s ambassador to Germany for warning in October against an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, said he expected high-ranking Israeli officials to attend.

Tucker Carlson has interviewed Vladimir Putin, Kremlin confirms

Wednesday 7 February 2024 14:41 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin has been interviewed by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the Kremlin has confirmed, in what is the Russian presiden’ts first interview with a Western journalist since his invasion of Ukraine.

Carlson released a clip of himself speaking in Moscow, shared by Elon Musk, in which he said he would be interviewing the Russian president, and claimed Western journalists could not be “bothered” to interview Mr Putin despite speaking to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mr Putin has heavily limited his contact with international media since he launched the war in Ukraine, with the Kremlin also forcing independent Russian outlets to close and ordering a number of foreign reporters to leave the country.

Two journalists working for US news organisations – The Wall Street Journal‘s Evan Gershkovich and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Alsu Kurmasheva – are in jail on charges they reject.

Vladimir Putin and Tucker Carlson (Getty / Screenshot / X / Tucker Carlson)
Vladimir Putin and Tucker Carlson (Getty / Screenshot / X / Tucker Carlson)

IAEA chief says Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has enough cooling water, Russian reports say

Wednesday 7 February 2024 13:52 , Andy Gregory

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi has visited the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine and said there were enough wells on site to supply cooling pools, Russian state news agencies reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also rotated its team of observers who are permanently stationed at Zaporizhzhia, the agencies reported. Russia seized control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and its six nuclear reactors are now idled.

Ukraine said last year it feared the plant could face a shortage of water because Russia had let water out of a reservoir that supplies it, a danger even though the reactors were shut down. Nuclear plants need enough water to cool their reactors and to help prevent a nuclear meltdown.

But Mr Grossi said there was enough water to do that, Russian news agency Tass reported.

“We visited what was important to me - the splash cooling pools. And made sure that the wells placed there were sufficient to adequately supply water to these pools,” Tass quoted Mr Grossi as saying.

Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear plant in Europe (AP)
Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear plant in Europe (AP)

Ukrainian bill intended to draft more soldiers passes first parliamentary stage

Wednesday 7 February 2024 12:47 , Andy Gregory

A bill proposing tighter army mobilisation rules targeting would-be Ukrainian soldiers and asset freezes for those who are trying to dodge the draft has passed the first parliamentary stage in Ukraine.

As the number of volunteer soldiers falls as the war with Russia edges towards its third year, the bill proposes requiring potential military personnel who are abroad to have up-to-date military registration. Obtaining such a document would be a prerequisite to receiving consular services.

It also proposes tighter sanctions for draft evasion, including an asset freeze, and envisages online call-ups, something that would make it harder to avoid being conscripted.

If the law is passed at the next stage in parliament, it will lower the age at which people can be mobilised for combat duty to 25 from 27. Those who have served continuously for 36 months during the war may be discharged, but this will not happen automatically.

“This is a list of complex but extremely necessary solutions that are designed to make our state stronger in the face of the challenges of a long-term war,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said following the vote.

The current version of the bill and a previous one have drawn criticism from some politicians and members of the public who said some provisions violated the constitution and carried corruption risks. The initial draft was rejected by lawmakers and sent back for changes to be made.

Politician Yaroslav Zheleznyak said the bill would most likely pass the final reading in late February, and could enter into effect in April.

Nord Stream: Sweden concludes investigation into mystery explosions

Wednesday 7 February 2024 11:10 , Andy Gregory

Swedish officials have closed their investigation into the mystery explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September 2022, which were built to carry Russian natural gas to Germany.

Sweden’s investigation was only one of three into the explosions. Denmark and Germany are also examining the blasts.

Public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist from the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement that, “the investigation has been systematic and thorough.”“Against the background of the situation we now have, we can state that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply.”

Nord Stream: Sweden concludes investigation into mystery explosions

At least three killed and 14 injured in huge wave of strikes against Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv

Wednesday 7 February 2024 10:31 , Andy Gregory

At rush hour this morning, Russia fired cruise and ballistic missiles and Shahed-type drones at six regions across Ukraine, authorities reported, killing at least three civilians and injuring 14 others, including a pregnant woman.

The attacks targeted at least three major cities, including the capital Kyiv, where the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, was discussing military aid and financial support for Ukraine. He said he started his day in an air raid shelter, calling it part of Ukraine’s “daily reality” after almost two years of war.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces said they intercepted 44 drones and missiles out of 64 that were launched in the morning attack. The barrage killed two people in Kyiv, president Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The attack also killed a man in Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, where some 20 residential buildings and public infrastructure were damaged, regional governor Vitali Kim said. Thirteen people were injured in Kyiv, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, including a pregnant woman.

Apartment buildings caught fire in multiple Kyiv districts, he said. Two power lines damaged during the attack left some residents on Kyiv’s east bank without power. In Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, a 52-year-old woman was slightly injured in an S-300 missile attack, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

Missiles also hit as far away as the Lviv region of western Ukraine, where a fire broke out, officials said.

Turkish war drone factory to open in Ukraine

Wednesday 7 February 2024 10:00 , Alexander Butler

Turkish defence company Baykar has started building a factory near Kyiv that will employ around 500 people and manufacture either its TB2 or TB3 drone models, the company’s chief executive has said.

Turkish-made Bayraktar drones have gained prominence globally after being used by Ukraine’s military to thwart Russian forces by destroying armoured vehicles and artillery systems.

Baykar has said it has signed export deals for its TB2 drone with 30 countries. These include Ukraine, Ethiopia, Libya and Azerbaijan since 2018, according to think tank SIPRI.

Turkish war drone factory to open in Ukraine with plans to supply to 30 countries

Six injured in attack on Kyiv as Russia launches missile attack

Wednesday 7 February 2024 09:00 , Alexander Butler

At least six people have been injured in a missile strike on Kyiv as Russia launched an attack on several Ukrainian cities this morning.

“In total, six people have been injured in the capital as a result of the enemy attack. Three - in Dniprovskyi district, two of them were hospitalized. And three from Holosiivskyi district were taken to the hospital,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

All of Ukraine was under air raid alert from around 6am with Ukraine’s Air Force warning on Telegram of a risk of Russian missile attacks across the country. The first blasts were heard just before 7am in Kyiv.

A bestselling novelist was duped by pro-Putin prank callers. He now faces jail

Wednesday 7 February 2024 08:00 , Alexander Butler

A Moscow court has ordered the arrest of a bestselling novelist living in London on charges of “justifying terrorism” – the latest incident in a Kremlin crackdown on Russians opposing the war in Ukraine.

Grigory Chkhartishvili, known under the pen name Boris Akunin, was charged in absentia by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on Tuesday. He is now under an arrest warrant and will be detained if he returns to Russia.

In December last year, after Mr Akunin expressed support for Ukraine on a call with two Russian pranksters, known as Vovan and Lexus – who were posing as Ukrainian officials – the Kremlin escalated its crackdown on the novelist.

A bestselling novelist was duped by pro-Putin prank callers. He now faces jail