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Ukraine-Russia news – latest: Nuclear plant loses power for sixth time as UN warns ‘luck will run out’

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was cut off from the country’s power system again on Thursday after a slew of Russian missile attacks this morning.

It was just one of a many of targets of Moscow’s fierce volley of air strikes, including a wave of deadly hypersonic missiles, which rocked major cities across Ukraine on Thursday.

In a statement this morning about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, appealed for a protection zone around plant, saying he was “astonished by the complacency” around the issue.

He said: “This is the sixth time – let me say it again sixth time, that ZNPP has lost all off-site power and has had to operate in this emergency mode. Let me remind you - this is the largest nuclear power station in Europe.”

He added: “Each time we are rolling a dice, and if we allow this to continue then one day our luck will run out”.

Russia fired 81 missiles, including six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles – which Ukraine’s military cannot intercept – and eight drones at Ukraine in early-morning strikes, the Ukrainian air force claims

Key points

  • IAEA chief makes plea for Zaporizhzhia safe zone after outage

  • Russia unleashes barrage of missiles on many Ukrainian regions

  • Berlin warns against hasty accusations after Nord Stream reports

  • Ukraine denies involvement in Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

  • Bakhmut a ‘meat grinder’ for Putin's forces as Russian losses soar

IAEA chief makes plea for Zaporizhzhia safe zone after outage

14:05 , Emily Atkinson

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on Thursday appealed for a protection zone around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine after another outage there, saying he was “astonished by the complacency” around the issue.

“Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out,” Grossi told the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant lost its last external power line early on Thursday after missile strikes across Ukraine overnight.

The plant is now down to emergency diesel generators, a last line of defence to keep cooling reactor fuel and prevent a potentially catastrophic meltdown.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

As in previous attacks, Russia and Ukraine blamed each other. Grossi has been trying to get both sides to strike a deal in which they would pledge not to fire at or from the plant and heavy weapons would be removed, diplomats say.

“This is the sixth time, let me say it again sixth time, that ZNPP has lost all off-site power and has had to operate in this emergency mode,” Grossi told the board’s quarterly meeting, according to an IAEA statement.

“Let me remind you, this is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. What are we doing? How can we sit here in this room this morning and allow this to happen? This cannot go on. I am astonished by the complacency.”

He said that everyone must commit to protect the plant’s safety and security.

“And we need to commit now. What we need is action,” he said.

Ukrainian commander issues warning about Bakhmut

17:45 , Eleanor Noyce

The commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces has urged that defending the eastern town of Bakhmut now has new importance.

“Each day of the city’s defence allows us to gain time to prepare reserves and prepare for future offensive operations,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a statement.

“At the same time, in the battles for this fortress, the enemy loses the most prepared and combat-capable part of his army — Wagner’s assault troops.”

“He will be able to launch a large-scale offensive with the use of army and airborne units on combat equipment,” he added.

“This once again proves the very important role of Bakhmut in the overall defence system of our group.”

Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles poses a difficult challenge for Ukraine’s air defences

16:45 , Eleanor Noyce

The Russian air strikes across Ukraine are the latest in a series aimed at hitting infrastructure, part of a regular pattern which has emerged in the last five months.

They are, however, the largest attacks for a while and included hypersonic as well as cruise missiles in their number. The former, in particular, poses great challenges for air Ukrainian air defences which have become increasingly adept at coping with swarms of drones used in previous raids.

Hypersonic missiles travel at five times the speed of sound, around 3,850 mph, are extremely difficult to track, can only by tackled by counter- hypersonic systems, and can destroy a target as sizeable as an aircraft carrier even without a warhead.

The Kinzhal — Dagger — was one among supposedly “invincible” weapons which Vladimir Putin first spoke about in an national address five years ago. Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced the deployment of the hypersonic missile system in Ukraine at the end of last year and US officials have subsequently charted their use in combat in the country.

Kim Sengupta has the full story:

Analysis: Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles poses a challenge for Ukraine

Analysis: The turmoil in Georgia over a ‘foreign agents’ bill raises fresh questions over Russia’s influence

16:15 , Emily Atkinson

Given Georgia’s status as former Soviet state situated at Russia’s south-west border, any suggestions of influence from Moscow will carry significant weight, writes Chris Stevenson. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has long seen the country as part of Russia’s sphere of influence. The Russian leader has also upped his rhetoric in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine about Western institutions, such as the EU and the Nato military alliance, seeking to erode Russia’s standing in the world. Georgia is not a member of Nato, but has sought to join.

How British eels could be helping Putin in his war with Ukraine

15:49 , Emily Atkinson

Wildlife groups are calling for Britain to ban the transportation of eels to Russian conservation projects because of fears they are being sold on to China for food.

The alarm was sounded after a consignment of half a million eels were moved to Kaliningrad. Charities have said that the profits Russia has made from these sales could be funding the Ukraine war.

Multi-member organisation Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), which represents the RSPCA, CPRE and the Marine Conservation Society, has called for action from Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).

William Mata has more:

How British eels could be helping Putin in his war with Ukraine

Russia says Brussels ‘ignoring talks' on probe into Nord Stream blasts

15:25 , Emily Atkinson

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has accused the EU of completely ignoring any talks on the need to carry out an investigation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline blasts.

Russia has repeatedly asked to be allowed to join the investigations into the blasts, which ruptured three of the four pipelines of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas links that connect Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

In pictures: Damage after Russia carries out multiple missile strikes across Ukraine

14:50 , Emily Atkinson

 (EPA)
(EPA)
 (EPA)
(EPA)
 (EPA)
(EPA)

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant 'reconnected to Ukraine’s grid’

14:21 , Emily Atkinson

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been reconnected to Ukraine‘s energy grid, Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenergo said.

Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom had said earlier today that power to the Russian-occupied plant was lost during Russian air strikes.

Watch: Three killed after Kherson bus stop hit by Russian missile strikes

13:45 , Emily Atkinson

Russia has enough resources to fight in Ukraine for two years - Lithuanian intelligence

13:15 , Emily Atkinson

The chief of the Lithuanian military intelligence said Russia has enough resources continue the war in Ukraine for two years.

“The resources which Russia has at the moment would be enough to continue the war at the present intensity for two years”, the chief, Elegijus Paulavicius, told reporters in Vilnius.

“How long Russia is be able to wage the war will also depend on the support for Russia’s military from states, such as Iran, North Korea. But if you look at what Russia has today, such as the strategic reserve, equipment, ammunition, armaments - it can wage it at the present intensity for two years”, he added.

Watch: Aerial view shows aftermath of Russian missile strikes on Lviv oblast

12:45 , Emily Atkinson

Kremlin ‘doubts Nord Stream attacks could have happened without state support'

12:15 , Emily Atkinson

The Kremlin says it doubts the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines could have been carried out without state support, after the New York Times reported that a pro-Ukrainian non-government group might have been responsible for the blasts.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was vital to identify who was behind the attacks which ruptured the multi-billion dollar pipelines last September.

He added that it was incomprehensible that Russia would blow up its own infrastructure.

 (AP)
(AP)

Russian says it hit Ukraine with 'massive’ strike in retaliation for ‘terrorist attack’

11:50 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces had carried out a “massive retaliatory strike” on Ukrainian infrastructure after what it called a terrorist attack in Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine, last week.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)
(UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)

Lithuanian government 'faces hacking attempts from Russia and China’

11:25 , Emily Atkinson

Lithuania’s security services claim hackers with links to Russia and China have repeatedly attempted to break into Lithuanian government computers.

“The most active cyber groups that act against Lithuania are connected with Russia and China,” the Baltic nation’s military intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies said in an annual report.

“Their priority remains continuous long-term collection of information related to Lithuanian internal and foreign affairs,” the agencies said.

EU says Ukraine to join bloc’s plan to jointly buy gas

11:00 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine will take part in European Union countries’ scheme to jointly buy gas, the bloc’s energy policy chief said on Thursday.

“We have integrated Ukraine in the gas joint purchasing platform with a view to help secure 2 billion cubic meters of additional gas,” EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson told a meeting of EU lawmakers.

EU countries plan to sign their first contracts to jointly buy gas by this summer.

Lavrov says Saudi Arabia and other countries have facilitated POW swaps with Ukraine

10:35 , Emily Atkinson

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, during a press conference with his Saudi counterpart, that Saudi Arabia and other countries had facilitated prisoner of war swaps with Ukraine.

 (AP)
(AP)

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant loses power after Russia launches mass missile attack

10:30 , Emily Atkinson

Europe’s largest nuclear plant was left without power after Russian missiles rained down on several cities across Ukraine in a fresh offensive on Thursday morning that killed at least five people.

The Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine, occupied by Kremlin troops, was left relying on backup generators after rockets damaged infrastructure that had been delivering electricity to the site.

The Black Sea port of Odessa and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s largest city were among the cities hit in the early morning barrage of missiles and explosions were also reported in the capital Kyiv.

Matt Mathers has more:

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant loses power after Russia launches mass missile attack

What are hypersonic missiles and how do they work?

10:08 , Emily Atkinson

Russia have unleashed a new wave of air strikes across Ukraine, killing at least six people and knocking out power, including to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.

Ukraine’s military said Russia fired 81 missiles and eight drones in attacks mainly targeting energy infrastructure, and that the weapons used included six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles which Ukraine cannot intercept.

Joe Sommerlad has more:

What are hypersonic missiles and how do they work?

What we know so far about this morning’s strikes

09:10 , Emily Atkinson

Lviv, Kyiv, the Black Sea port of Odesa and the second-largest city Kharkiv were all hit as missiles targeted a wide arc of targets, stretching from Zhytomyr, Vynnytsia and Rivne in the west to Dnipro and Poltava in central Ukraine, officials say.

 (UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)
(UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)

Here’s what we know of the damage so far:

  • At least five people were killed in a missile strike on a residential area in the western Lviv region, according to emergency services. Footage from the area, some 700 km (440 miles) from any military battlefield, showed a flattened house and badly damaged buildings nearby.

  • Another civilian was reported killed in the central Dnipro region.

  • Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko reported explosions in the southwestern part of the capital. He said on Telegram that 40 per cent of consumers in Kyiv were without electricity.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
  • The governor of Odesa region, Maksym Marchenko, said on Telegram that a mass missile attack had hit an energy facility in the city, cutting power. Residential areas had also been hit.

  • Kharkiv region governor Oleh Synehubov said the city and region had been hit by 15 strikes, with targets including infrastructure.

  • Other strikes were reported in regions throughout the country

Ukrainian president says Russia 'won't avoid responsibility' for attacks

08:45 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has condemned the new wave of Russian missile strikes and said Moscow “won’t avoid responsibility”.

In a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app, Zelensky said critical infrastructure and residential buildings in 10 Ukrainian regions had been hit in the latest attacks overnight.

“The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done,” Zelensky said.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Watch: Smoke rises over Kyiv as Russian strikes hit many Ukrainian regions

08:25 , Emily Atkinson

Russia ‘fired 81 missiles and eight drones' in morning strikes

08:02 , Emily Atkinson

Russia fired 81 missiles, including six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and eight drones at Ukraine in early-morning strikes, the Ukrainian air force said.

Ukraine destroyed 34 cruise missiles and four Shahed suicide drones, and eight drones and guided missiles were also prevented from reaching their targets, it said in a statement.

The Ukrainian military cannot intercept the Kinzhal missile.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Electricity supply halt to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant a ‘provocation’, says Russia

07:26 , Emily Atkinson

Russia-installed officials in the Moscow-controlled part of Ukraine‘s Zaporizhzhia region have called a halt in electricity supplies to the nuclear power station from Ukrainian-held territory “a provocation”.

Photos capture pre-dawn missile attacks on Ukraine

06:55 , Arpan Rai

Russia unleashed a massive missile barrage across Ukraine early today, targeting energy infrastructure in the first attack on such a scale in three weeks.

The pre-dawn attacks led to air raid sirens wailing for hours across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, where explosions occurred in two western areas of the city.

Defence systems were activated around the country, and it wasn’t clear how many missiles struck targets or were intercepted.

A thick cloud of smoke billows after Russian missile targets Kyiv today morning (Reuters)
A thick cloud of smoke billows after Russian missile targets Kyiv today morning (Reuters)
A person looks out alongside damaged windows in Kyiv at the site of a Russian missile strike after a flurry of attacks on the war-hit country today (Reuters)
A person looks out alongside damaged windows in Kyiv at the site of a Russian missile strike after a flurry of attacks on the war-hit country today (Reuters)
A person looks on from a window at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kyiv today (Reuters)
A person looks on from a window at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kyiv today (Reuters)
A view of damaged windows of a building rattled at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kyiv this morning (Reuters)
A view of damaged windows of a building rattled at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kyiv this morning (Reuters)

Five killed in Russian missile attacks, says Ukraine

06:46 , Arpan Rai

At least five people have been killed in a massive missile attack today, and several more have been wounded, Ukrainian officials said.

Four of these were killed in Lviv region after a missile struck a residential area in the Zolochivskyi district, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi.

Emergency workers were sifting through the rubble to search for trapped people, Mr Kozytskyi said.Another person was killed in Dnipropetrovsk region, regional governor Serhii Lysak reported, adding that two more were wounded in multiple strikes across the region.The Kyiv mayor reported damage in two districts, and the Kharkiv and Odesa governors said residential buildings were hit there.

Russia forced to rely on ground control and fighter escort after attack on small fleet – MoD

06:40 , Arpan Rai

The British intelligence suggests that there is a realistic possibility that joint Russo-Belarusian air activity will now be forced to rely on ground control and fighter escort until another MAINSTAY aircraft fleet can be deployed.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that one of Russia’s small fleet of A-50U MAINSTAY D airborne early warning and control aircraft deployed in Belarus had been damaged, the ministry said.

It is likely that the aircraft was almost certainly attacked by a small uncrewed air system.

“The MAINSTAY has likely now been moved to a repair facility at Taganrog in Russia. The transit flight reportedly took place at a lower than usual altitude, likely because of damage to the pressurised cabin,” the British defence ministry said.

It added: “The MAINSTAY was likely providing situational awareness for MiG-31K FOXHOUND D fighter aircraft modified to launch the AS-24 KILLJOY air launched ballistic missile which Russia sees as a key strategic capability.”

“The modification saw the jets’ internal radar removed to balance the airframe, making pilots reliant on external sources of situational awareness, such as MAINSTAY,” the MoD said.

Europe’s largest power plant cut off from energy system after Russian attacks

06:07 , Arpan Rai

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been cut off from Ukrainian power system after a slew of Russian attacks this morning, officials said.

Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom confirmed that the last line of communication between the Russian-occupied plant and Ukraine’s power system was cut off after Russian attacks today after the area came under missile attack.

Battle for Bakhmut dominates war in Ukraine

05:38 , Arpan Rai

The six-month battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has been the longest and bloodiest fight of the war so far.

Little known outside Ukraine before the Russian invasion, Bakhmut has become a symbol of the country’s fortitude and perseverance in the face of the Kremlin’s onslaught.

Military experts note that Ukraine has turned Bakhmut into a meat grinder for Russia’s most capable forces.

“It has achieved its aim as effectively being the anvil on which so many Russian lives have been broken,” Lord Richard Dannatt, the former chief of the general staff of the British armed forces, said on Sky News.

A Ukrainian serviceman aims at Russian positions near the city of Bakhmut yesterday (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman aims at Russian positions near the city of Bakhmut yesterday (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen fire with a 105mm howitzer towards Russian positions near the city of Bakhmut, yesterday (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen fire with a 105mm howitzer towards Russian positions near the city of Bakhmut, yesterday (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman takes cover in a trench during shelling next to a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman takes cover in a trench during shelling next to a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian serviceman holds a shell of a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut as they look at their ammunition stock in the raging battle for the mining city (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian serviceman holds a shell of a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut as they look at their ammunition stock in the raging battle for the mining city (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman drops to the ground to take cover during shelling next to a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman drops to the ground to take cover during shelling next to a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman looks on during shelling next to a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman looks on during shelling next to a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut (AFP via Getty Images)

Loud explosions heard in Kyiv

05:19 , Arpan Rai

A slew of loud explosion have rocked Kyiv this hour, reported The Kyiv Independent.

Another explosion was heard from central district in Kyiv Holosiivskyi, the regional mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.

“Explosions in the Holosiiv district of the capital. All services follow in place. More details later,” he said this morning.

He added that due to the missile attack, the energy sector officials used a technological emergency to cut off the power supply in the capital. “Currently, approximately 15 per cent of consumers are without electricity,” the mayor notified.

Ukraine under air raid alert for hours amid attacks

04:18 , Arpan Rai

All parts of Ukraine have remained under an air raid alert for the last three-four hours due to incessant Russian missile and drone attacks targetting all parts of the country.

“That was one hell of an alarm clock here in Kyiv. Hoping it was air defense. Mass Russian attack across Ukraine ongoing,” said Oleksiy Sorokin, a journalist with the Ukraine-based The Kyiv Independent.

Ukraine vows to find killers of unarmed soldier Tymofiy Shadura

04:15 , Martha Mchardy

Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to “find the murderers” of an unarmed Ukrainian prisoner of war apparently shot dead by Russian forces. The man’s death was captured in graphic footage shared across social media.

Ukraine’s chief prosecutor announced a criminal investigation into the killing, and human rights chief Dmytro Lubinets said it was a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The 12-second video, orginally posted on Telegram before being shared on Twitter, shows the man in uniform with a Ukrainian insignia on his arm, standing and smoking a cigarette in a wooded area. The man says “Slava Ukraini!” – Glory to Ukraine – before multiple shots are fired. The man then slumps to the ground.

Kate Pummer reports:

Ukraine vows to find who killed unarmed soldier Tymofiy Shadura

Pentagon doesn’t want to share evidence of Russian atrocities over fears of backlash

03:40 , Arpan Rai

The Pentagon is standing in the way of the Biden administration sharing evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, fearing that an investigation would risk setting a precedent that could be used to target US officials in the future.

According to reporting from The New York Times, the department of defence is the only part of the administration that does not want to share the evidence. The State Department, Justice Department, and intelligence agencies all favour handing evidence over to the court.

The decision about what to do will ultimately fall to president Joe Biden, who the Times reported has not yet signalled what he plans to do.

Read the full story here:

Pentagon doesn’t want to share evidence of Russian atrocities

Russia attacks many Ukrainian regions, including Black Sea port

03:21 , Arpan Rai

Russia has launched a volley of missile attacks on many parts of Ukraine this morning, including the Black Sea port of Odesa and the country’s largest city Kharkiv, regional officials have confirmed.

A mass missile strike in the Odesa region has struck an energy facility in the port city, leading to massive power cuts, governor Maksym Marchenko said.

No casualties have been reported so far but residential areas have been targeted.

At least 15 strikes have hit Kharkiv region, governor Oleh Synehubov said. Other strikes were reported in the central city of Dnipro and regions throughout the country.

Battle for Bakhmut takes center stage in war in Ukraine

03:15 , Martha Mchardy

The six-month battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has been the longest and bloodiest fight of the war so far.

Little known outside Ukraine before the Russian invasion, Bakhmut has become a symbol of the country’s fortitude and perseverance in the face of the Kremlin’s onslaught.

The Ukrainian leadership vowed again this week to keep defending the city, but some observers have warned that holding on to it could be too dangerous and costly.

Read more here:

Battle for Bakhmut takes center stage in war in Ukraine

Will there be a second anniversary for the war in Ukraine?

02:15 , Martha Mchardy

As of now any end to the war is unlikely to be on better terms for Ukraine than were on offer before Russia invaded, writes Mary Dejevsky.

Will there be a second anniversary for the war in Ukraine? | Mary Dejevsky

Watch: The Body in the Woods

01:15 , Martha Mchardy

It was a month into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces had withdrawn from around Kyiv and in their wake Bel Trew and her team stumbled on a body by an abandoned Russian camp.

His hands were tied. He had been burned and shot in the back. Soldiers said he was a teenager.

As Bel tried to find out who he was and what had happened, she uncovered a nightmare world: a nation struggling to find thousands of its missing and to identify its dead.

The Body in the Woods by Bel Trew is streaming now on Independent TV and on your smart TV.

The universal – and horrible – truth: War disproportionately affects women and girls

00:15 , Martha Mchardy

After months reporting the brutal conflict in Ukraine, Bel Trew reflects on the impact of war on women.

Read more:

The horrible truth: war disproportionately affects women and girls | Bel Trew

A global mystery: What's known about Nord Stream explosions

Wednesday 8 March 2023 23:15 , Martha Mchardy

It’s a major international mystery with global consequences: Who was behind the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year in the Baltic Sea?

The answer has broad implications for European energy security but could also threaten Western unity over backing Ukraine in defending itself from Russia’s invasion. Or, it might shatter Russian and Chinese attempts to fix the blame on a hypocritical West.

Yet, nearly six months after the sabotage on the Russia-to-Germany pipelines, there is no accepted explanation. And a series of unconfirmed reports variously accusing Russia, the United States and Ukraine are filling an information vacuum as investigations into the blasts continue.

Matthew Lee reports:

A global mystery: What's known about Nord Stream explosions

EU defence ministers call for plans to support Ukraine with ammunition

Wednesday 8 March 2023 22:15 , Martha Mchardy

The European Union has called for plans to support Ukraine with ammunition.

The EU’s Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the orgainsation is “at the decisive moment now” for the bloc’s support to Ukraine.

Mr Breton said: “It is absolutely mandatory that we move towards a sort of war economy mode in terms of supply and defense industry.”

“We need to do whatever it takes to supply Ukraine, especially with ammunitions,” he said.

Ukrainian sports stars honor soldier who was allegedy executed by Russian troops

Wednesday 8 March 2023 21:45 , Martha Mchardy

A group of Ukrainian sports stars paid tribute to a Ukrainian soldier who appeared to be executed by Russian troops in a video.

The unarmed solider, who was a Ukrainian prisoner of war (POW) could be seen in the video smoking in a trench. He sung “Glory to Ukraine!” before being shot by a Russian soldier.

Tennis star Elina Svitolina, Chelsea footballer Mykhailo Mudryk and others responded with “Glory to the Heroes!”, a battle cry in Ukraine’s army, in their video tribute.

The Ukrainian athletes appeared one-by-one in the video saying “Glory to the Heroes!”

Russia is still advancing in Bakhmut, says Ukraine

Wednesday 8 March 2023 21:15 , Martha Mchardy

Russian forces continue to advance in the battered eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military acknowledged in an evening update.

“The enemy continues to advance in the Bakhmut sector. They do not stop storming the city of Bakhmut,” they said in the update.

The Ukrainian military also said it had been able to hold Moscow’s forces in several areas in and around the city.

“Our defenders repelled attacks in the areas of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Bakhmut and Ivanivske,” it said.

“During the day, the enemy carried out 22 air strikes and fired 29 times from multiple launch rocket systems. In particular, the enemy used 1 Shahed-136 UAV. The drone was eliminated,” the update continued.

US intelligence chief says Russia won’t make major gains in Ukraine in 2023

Wednesday 8 March 2023 20:45 , Martha Mchardy

Russia’s military is unlikely to capture significantly more territory this year, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has said.

Ms Haines also said the Russian military is not likely to be able to sustain its current level of fighting in Ukraine following major setbacks and large battlefield losses.

“We do not foresee the Russian military recovering enough this year to make major territorial gains,” Haines told a Senate hearing.

Nevertheless, Russian President Vladimir Putin “most likely calculates that time works in his favour”, Haines said.

Putin likely believes that prolonging the war, with intermittent pauses in fighting, “may be his best remaining pathway to eventually securing Russian strategic interests in Ukraine, even if it takes years”, she said.

Fewer than 4,000 residents remain in Bakhmut

Wednesday 8 March 2023 20:15 , Martha Mchardy

Fewer than 4,000 civilians – including 38 children – remain in Bakhmut, according to Deputy Ukrainian prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

The city’s pre-war population was 70,000.

It comes as Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose troops have spearheaded the fight in Bakhmut, said they have taken full control of all districts east of the Bakhmutka River that crosses the city.

A Ukrainian border guard said in a video released by the State Border Service that “the situation in the city is difficult.”

“The enemy actively storms our positions. However, they don’t have any success and suffer colossal losses,” the video said. “The city stands because Bakhmut was, is, and will be Ukraine.”

Wednesday 8 March 2023 19:45 , Martha Mchardy

Ukraine‘s first lady on Wednesday offered spirited support to her nation’s people while visiting the United Arab Emirates, a country that still remains open to Russia despite Western sanctions.

Olena Zelenska described her role and that of other first ladies and gentlemen in the world as a real power while speaking before a packed ballroom on International Women’s Day. She also applauded the work of the average Ukrainian amid the ongoing war.

Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine talks during the International Women’s Day in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AP)
Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine talks during the International Women’s Day in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AP)

“We are a force and we can continue to change the world,” Zelenska said at the Forbes 30/50 Summit via a translator.

Jon Gambrell reports:

Ukraine first lady Olena Zelenska in UAE amid Russia's war

Social Democratic party leaders declare unwavering support for Ukraine’s defence against Russia

Wednesday 8 March 2023 19:15 , Martha Mchardy

Leaders of nine Social Democratic parties across Europe have declared unwavering support for Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion.

Social Democrats from Germany, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, Slovenia, Finland and Croatia met in Warsaw for a two-day conference about the war and the ways it has altered European politics.

Former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, president of the Party of European Socialists, said there was no going back to “business as usual” with Moscow. He stressed that Europe must make sure Ukraine wins the war and that any peace agreement is struck on Kyiv’s terms.

Leaders of social democracy parties, Wlodzimierz Czarzasty of Poland, center, Lars Klingbeil of Germany, left, and President of the Party of European Socialists, former Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, right. (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Leaders of social democracy parties, Wlodzimierz Czarzasty of Poland, center, Lars Klingbeil of Germany, left, and President of the Party of European Socialists, former Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, right. (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Lars Klingbeil, the co-chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, recently visited Kyiv and spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He stressed that Ukrainians were fighting for European values as well as their country and should receive all available support.

Mr Klingbeil told reporters the Leopard 2 tanks that Germany has pledged would make it to the front lines in Ukraine this month.

No perpetrator has been identified for Nord Stream pipeline sabotage, says NATO secretary general

Wednesday 8 March 2023 18:45 , Martha Mchardy

No perpetrator has yet been identified for the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage, the NATO secretary general has said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We have not been able to determine who was behind [the sabotage],” he said, adding, “There are ongoing national investigations and I think it’s right to wait until those are finalized before we say anything more.”

United Nations Nord Stream Sabotage (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
United Nations Nord Stream Sabotage (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

It comes after reports that intelligence reviewed by US officials indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group was behind last year’s attacks.

The New York Times claimed intelligence suggests a group loyal to Ukraine but acting independently of the government in Kyiv were involved in the operation, which damaged two pipes and targeted a crucial source of revenue for Moscow.

Ukraine has denied any involvement.

Claim Ukraine blew up Nord Stream pipeline ‘not the predominant view of the intelligence community’,

Wednesday 8 March 2023 18:15 , Martha Mchardy

The claim Ukraine was responsible for blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline is “not the predominant view of the intelligence community,” a source familiar with the US intelligence has said.

The source told CNN that the assessment made by US intelligence that a pro-Ukrainian group was behind last year’s attacks was not made with high confidence and that the US has not yet identified a culprit for the attack.

They also claimed there is a section of the US intelligence community that believes that pro-Ukrainian actors would have had the motive to sabotage the pipelines because of how Russia was weaponizing them against Ukraine and Europe.

The intelligence community has no evidence, however, that Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, had any knowledge of or involvement in the pipeline sabotage, the source said.

Ukraine ‘has nothing to do’ with Nord Stream pipeline sabotage, says Zelensky’s top adviser

Wednesday 8 March 2023 17:45 , Martha Mchardy

Ukraine “has nothing to do” with the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage, Zelensky’s top adviser has said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on Twitter: “Although I enjoy collecting amusing conspiracy theories about (the Ukrainian) government, I have to say: (Ukraine) has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about ‘pro-(Ukraine) sabotage groups’.”

It comes after reports that intelligence reviewed by US officials indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group was behind last year’s attacks.

The New York Times claimed intelligence suggests a group loyal to Ukraine but acting independently of the government in Kyiv were involved in the operation, which damaged two pipes and targeted a crucial source of revenue for Moscow.

Russian forces claim progress in Bakhmut but no end in sight

Wednesday 8 March 2023 17:15 , Martha Mchardy

The owner of Russia’s Wagner Group military contractor claimed Wednesday that his troops have extended their gains in the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut, but it remained unclear how long the grinding fight might go on.

Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose troops have spearheaded the fight in Bakhmut, said they have taken full control of all districts east of the Bakhmutka River that crosses the city. The city’s center lies west of the river.Neither Russian nor Ukrainian officials commented on Prigozhin’s claim. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank that closely monitors the fighting, said Russian forces were likely in control in the areas cited by Prigozhin following a Ukrainian withdrawal.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on extending an agreement that allows Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports and permits Russia to export food and fertilizers.The battle for the city the Ukrainians have dubbed “fortress Bakhmut” has become emblematic of the way each side has tried to wear down the other. Russian forces must go through Bakhmut to push deeper into parts of the Donetsk province they do not yet control, though Western officials say that capture of the city is unlikely to change the course of the war.The battle for Bakhmut has lasted six months and reduced the city with a prewar population of more than 70,000 to a smoldering wasteland. It’s not clear which side has paid a higher price.

Ukraine denies involvement in Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

Wednesday 8 March 2023 16:42 , Martha Mchardy

Ukraine has denied any involvement in September’s attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, which were built to carry Russian natural gas to Germany.

It comes after reports that intelligence reviewed by US officials indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group was behind last year’s attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.

The cause of the 26 September blasts that hit the pipelines is unknown (DANISH DEFENCE/AFP via Getty Ima)
The cause of the 26 September blasts that hit the pipelines is unknown (DANISH DEFENCE/AFP via Getty Ima)

The New York Times claimed intelligence suggested a group loyal to Ukraine but acting independently of the government in Kyiv were involved in the operation.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said Ukraine “was absolutely not involved”.

Death of nationalist Ukrainian commander ‘Da Vinci’ gives Russia propaganda win

Wednesday 8 March 2023 16:40 , Emily Atkinson

The youngest battalion commander in the Ukrainian military, famed for his bravery and a long-time prime target of the Russians, has been killed in the battle for Bakhmut, writes Kim Sengupta.

Dmytro Kotsyubaylo, a leader of a group which Moscow has accused of having neo-Nazi and fascist links, died during shelling near the Donbas city – which has been the focus of a sustained Russian offensive for months.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who presented Kotsyubaylo with the award “Order of the Golden Star” as well as the title of “Hero of Ukraine” last year, said in tribute: “He was one of the youngest heroes of Ukraine; one of those whose personal history, character and courage forever became the history, character and courage of Ukraine. He was killed in a battle near Bakhmut – a battle for Ukraine.”

Death of Ukrainian commander ‘Da Vinci’ gives Russia propaganda win

In pictures: Funeral ceremony held for four soldiers of volunteer battalion in Kyiv

Wednesday 8 March 2023 16:05 , Emily Atkinson

 (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
(Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
 (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
(Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
 (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
(Global Images Ukraine via Getty)

US spy chiefs see China continuing to cooperate with Russia

Wednesday 8 March 2023 15:35 , Emily Atkinson

China will maintain its cooperation with Russia to continue trying to challenge the United States, despite international concerns about the invasion of Ukraine, US intelligence agencies have said.

“Despite global backlash over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China will maintain its diplomatic, defense, economic, and technology cooperation with Russia to continue trying to challenge the United States, even as it will limit public support,” they said in a report.

The report largely focused on threats from China and Russia, assessing that China will continue using its military and other assets to intimate rivals in the South China Sea and that it will build on actions from 2022, which could include more Taiwan Strait crossings or missile overflights of Taiwan.

The report said Russia probably does not seek conflict with the United States and Nato, but the war in Ukraine carries “great risk” of that happening, and that there is “real potential” for Russia’s military failures in Ukraine to hurt Russian President Vladimir Putin’s domestic standing, raising the potential for escalation.

Ukraine and UN call for Black Sea grain deal extension

Wednesday 8 March 2023 14:55 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine’s president and United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres have called for the extension of a deal with Moscow that has allowed Kyiv to export grain via Black Sea ports during Russia’s invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said after talks with Guterres in Kyiv that the Black Sea Grain Initiative was necessary for the world, and the UN chief underlined the importance of the deal to global food security and food prices.

The 120-day deal, initially brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July and extended in November, will be renewed on 18 March if no party objects.

“I want to underscore the critical importance of rolling over the Black Sea Grain Initiative on 18 March and working to create the conditions to enable the greatest possible use of export infrastructure through the Black Sea in line with the objectives of the initiative,” Guterres told reporters.

Zelensky said he and Guterres had agreed that rolling over the deal on March 18 was “critically necessary for the world.”

Russia’s demands 'not yet met for renewal of grain deal’

Wednesday 8 March 2023 14:15 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s demands for the extension of a deal that allows the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea have not yet been met, a Turkish diplomatic source has told Reuters, adding that Ankara is “working very hard” to ensure the deal continues.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July allowed grain to be exported from three Ukrainian ports. It was extended in November and until March 18 and will expire unless another extension is agreed.

Russia signalled that obstacles to its own agricultural exports needed to be removed before it let the Ukraine‘s Black Sea deal continue.

“Turkey is working very hard for the extension of the Black Sea grain deal, negotiations are still going on,” a Turkish diplomatic source said.

“Russia’s concerns, or the rather the difficulties that it is facing, have not been overcome yet. But Turkey is doing its part for an agreement between all parties,” the source added.

Putin presents bouquets on International Women’s Day

Wednesday 8 March 2023 13:45 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin presented flowers to a female war correspondent and medical workers from Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine in a Kremlin ceremony to mark International Women’s Day, thanking them for their achievements at what he called a challenging time for the country.

“Nothing is impossible for you,” Putin said in a speech to a group of women who were then invited to step up and accept bouquets from him as trumpet fanfares sounded.

“You can be tender and feminine and at the same time very strong. You always strive for fairness, you do everything to ensure that life in the family, society and the country unfailingly improves,” the president said.

Putin extols Russia’s ‘reverence and respect towards motherhood’ as he sends their sons and husbands to war

Wednesday 8 March 2023 13:15 , Emily Atkinson

Russian president Vladimir Putin has extolled Russia’s women for their “reverence towards motherhood” as he continues to send their sons and husbands to war in Ukraine.

In a televised International Women’s Day address, flanked by the statue of Russian Empress Catherine II the Great in the Kremlin’s Senate’s Palacehe, he said: “Reverence and respect towards women and motherhood is an unconditional value for us, something we have been passing on from generation to generation.

Putin went on to say that in Russia, the celebration “is always filled with special warmth and meaning, with the most kind, joyful and sincere feelings.”

“Dear women, on this new spring day, I want to wish you love and mutual understanding with the people you love, and may the warmth that your hearts so generously share return to you and keep you warm too,” Putin added.

Ukraine urges EU ministers to back joint ammunition buying plan

Wednesday 8 March 2023 12:45 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov has urged his EU counterparts to support a plan to buy one million artillery shells to help Kyiv fight Russia’s invasion and replenish their own stocks.

Speaking to reporters just before meeting the ministers in Stockholm, Reznikov said Ukraine urgently needed the shells to defend against Russian forces and launch a counter-offensive.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Reznikov said he supported a proposal by Estonia for EU countries to club together to buy 1 million 155-millimetre shells for Ukraine this year at a cost of 4 billion euros ($4.22 billion).

He said Ukraine wanted 90,000 to 100,000 artillery rounds per month. Ukraine is burning through shells faster than its allies can make them, officials have warned, prompting a renewed search for ammunition and ways to ramp up production.

Still unclear who carried out attack on Nord Stream pipelines, Nato chief says

Wednesday 8 March 2023 12:15 , Emily Atkinson

It is still unclear who was responsible for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year, as national investigations into the sabotage need to be concluded, Nato’s chief has said.

“What we do know is that there was an attack against the Nord Stream pipelines, but we have not been able to determine who was behind it,” Jens Stoltenberg said before a meeting with EU defence ministers in Stockholm.

“There are ongoing national investigations and I think it’s right to wait until those are finalised before we say anything more about who was behind it.”

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that new intelligence reviewed by US officials had indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Europe.

Thousands of people in Ukraine have complex war-related injuries - WHO

Wednesday 8 March 2023 11:45 , Emily Atkinson

Thousands of people in Ukraine have sustained complex injuries linked to the war and need rehabilitation services and equipment to help them, a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official has said.

Attacks on healthcare facilities, fewer healthcare workers due to displacement and power shortages were all making it difficult for people to get care, Dr. Satish Mishra from the WHO’s regional office for Europe, told a media briefing.

Even before the war, in 2019, about half the population in Ukraine could have benefited from rehabilitation services for non-communicable conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, Dr Cathal Morgan, another WHO official said.

Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic and the war have significantly increased the need for rehab services, he added. “Hence the need for urgency.”

EU court annuls sanctions against mother of Putin ally

Wednesday 8 March 2023 11:15 , Emily Atkinson

A top European Union court has granted a challenge to annul sanctions against the mother of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of president Vladimir Putin and the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group fighting in Ukraine.

The EU blacklisted Violetta Prigozhina saying business links with her son made her complicit in Russia’s aggression against its neighbour, a former Soviet republic that now wants to integrate with the West.

“The General Court annuls the restrictive measures applied to Ms Violetta Prigozhina, mother of Mr Yevgeniy Prigozhin, in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the bloc’s second highest court said.

Watch | The Body in the Woods | An Independent TV Original Documentary

Wednesday 8 March 2023 10:42 , Emily Atkinson

It was a month into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces had withdrawn from around Kyiv and in their wake Bel Trew and her team stumbled on a body by an abandoned Russian camp.

His hands were tied. He had been burned and shot in the back. Soldiers said he was a teenager.

As Bel tried to find out who he was and what had happened, she uncovered a nightmare world: a nation struggling to find thousands of its missing and to identify its dead.

The Body in the Woods by Bel Trew is streaming now on Independent TV and on your smart TV.

The Body in the Woods | An Independent TV Original Documentary

Latest images from Bakhmut

Wednesday 8 March 2023 10:16 , Emily Atkinson

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)

Bakhmut a ‘meat grinder’ for Putin's forces as Russian losses soar

Wednesday 8 March 2023 09:31 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine has turned Bakhmut into a meat grinder for some of Russia’s most capable personnel, military experts have said amid reports Moscow’s losses far outstrip Kyiv’s.

“It has achieved its aim as effectively being the anvil on which so many Russian lives have been broken,” Lord Richard Dannatt, the former chief of the general staff of the British armed forces, said on Sky News.

The comments came as military expert Pavlo Narozhniy told Ukrainian NV Radio that Vladimir Putin’s losses in Bakhmut are between five and eight times greater than Ukraine’s.

EU needs to prioritise existing funds for buying Ukraine shells, Borrell says

Wednesday 8 March 2023 08:58 , Emily Atkinson

Existing European funds will need to be prioritised for procuring ammunition for Ukraine before any decision on fresh funds can be expected, the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Wednesday.

“The first thing to do is to use what we have. If member states are ready to provide more, I will be happy. But today let’s be realistic and pragmatic, and discuss about the things that can be adopted today,” Borrell said before a meeting with EU defence ministers in Stockholm.

Take old people and children out of ‘seized’ Bakhmut, Wagner chief tells Zelensky

Wednesday 8 March 2023 08:22 , Emily Atkinson

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has urged president Volodymyr Zelensky to “take the old people and children” out of the razed Bakhmut after claiming full control of the eastern city.

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

Mr Prigozhin issued the warning in a video posted on his Telegram channel on Wednesday, in which he stood in front of a tank with explosions raging in the background.

Seoul 'approved Poland’s export of howitzers with South Korean parts to Ukraine’

Wednesday 8 March 2023 07:50 , Emily Atkinson

South Korea’s government approved export licenses for Poland last year to provide Ukraine with Krab howitzers, which are built with South Korean components, a defence acquisition official in Seoul told Reuters.

The comments are the first confirmation that South Korea officially acquiesced to at least indirectly providing weapons components to Ukraine for its war against Russia.

Seoul officials have previously declined to comment on the Krabs, fuelling speculation over whether South Korea had formally agreed or was simply looking the other way.

The Defence Acquisition Program Administration’s (DAPA) technology control bureau reviewed and approved the transfer of the howitzer’s South Korean-made chassis, said Kim Hyoung-cheol, director of the Europe-Asia division of the International Cooperation Bureau.

“We reviewed all the documentation and possible issues inside DAPA... then we made decision to give out export license to Poland,” he told Reuters in an interview at DAPA headquarters on the outskirts of Seoul.

He later stressed that the government’s stance is to not transfer weapons systems to Ukraine.

Berlin warns against hasty accusations after Nord Stream reports

Wednesday 8 March 2023 07:20 , Emily Atkinson

Berlin has warned against premature accusations after a report said intelligence reviewed by US officials indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group was behind last year’s attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.

“It may just as well have been a false flag operation staged to blame Ukraine, an option brought up in the media reports as well,” German defence minister Boris Pistorius told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

“The likelihood for one or the other is equally high,” he added. Pistorius was speaking in Stockholm where EU defence ministers are meeting.

Ukraine denies involvement in Nord Stream pipelines sabotage

Wednesday 8 March 2023 06:42 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Ukraine has denied any involvement in the Nord Stream pipelines sabotage after US media cited new intelligence that a pro-Ukrainian group may have been behind last year’s attack targetting Russia’s gas deliveries to Europe.

“Although I enjoy collecting amusing conspiracy theories about (the Ukrainian) government, I have to say: (Ukraine) has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about ‘pro-(Ukraine) sabotage groups,’” Mykhailo Podolyak, top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on Twitter.

The New York Times had reported that the new intelligence was reviewed by US officials as well and suggested that a group loyal to Ukraine but acting independently were involved in the operation.