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Ukraine war – latest news: UN calls for Putin’s army to withdraw but China abstains

The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly isolated Russia, calling for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace” and again demanding Russia withdraw its troops and stop fighting.

But Beijing abstained on the vote – the fourth time it has done so on such action since the Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.

Just a day earlier, China’s top diplomat visited Moscow and pledged a deeper partnership with the Kremlin.

The resolution was adopted with 141 votes in favour and 32 abstentions. Six countries joined Russia to vote no.

Joe Biden will announce new sanctions against those aiding Russia’s war effort when he meets G7 leaders and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky virtually to mark the anniversary, the White House says.

The sanctions will include Russian banks, technology and defence sectors.

On Thursday four people were arrested after activists poured hundreds of litres of yellow and blue paint onto the road outside the Russian Embassy in London to create an enormous Ukrainian flag.

Vladimir Putin said Russia would pay “increased attention” to boosting its nuclear forces, vowing to deploy a much-delayed new intercontinental ballistic missile, rolling out hypersonic missiles and adding new nuclear submarines.

Key Points

  • Joe Biden prepares to unveil new sanctions on Russian companies and people

  • Activists paint giant Ukrainian flag outside Russian embassy in London

  • Putin says Russia will pay more attention to boosting nuclear forces

  • Russia intensifies attacks ahead of the one year anniversary of war on Friday

  • War could last another year as Putin ‘running a meat grinder for an army,’ Ben Wallace says

US to unveil new sanctions on Russian people and companies

20:20 , Jane Dalton

US president Joe Biden is set to virtually meet G7 leaders and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announce new sanctions on those aiding Russia’s war effort, the White House said.

When the group came together last year hours after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion, it imposed the first round of a series of sanctions.

“The G7 has become an anchor of our strong and united response to Russia,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The leaders on Friday will discuss “how we continue supporting Ukraine” and ways to increase pressure on Russia.

The sanctions will include Russian banks, technology and defence sectors, and will hit both people and companies involved in the conflict, according to Ms Jean-Pierre.

The US will also announce a fresh Ukrainian aid package that will include economic, security and energy support, she added.

UN to vote on resolution calling for Russia to leave Ukraine

21:02 , Jane Dalton

Ukraine’s supporters have urged the UN General Assembly to back a resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities and withdraw from its neighbour.

UN to vote on resolution calling for Russia to leave Ukraine

Four arrests after campaigners paint Ukrainian flag outside Russian embassy

20:35 , Jane Dalton

Watch:

‘Meat grinder’ war will not stop, defence secretary warns

19:50 , Jane Dalton

The UK’s defence secretary has warned Russia’s “meat grinder army” will not stop and the Ukraine war could continue for another full year:

Russia's 'meat grinder' war in Ukraine 'will not stop', UK defence secretary warns

Boris Johnson steps up pressure on Sunak to supply fighter jets

19:15 , Jane Dalton

Boris Johnson has stepped up calls for Britain to supply jet fighters to the Ukrainians to help drive out Russian forces from their territory.

On the eve of the anniversary of Russia’s invasion, the former prime minister said the UK should “break the ice” and send RAF Typhoons to the government in Kyiv.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed for US F16 fighters as the Ukrainians prepare to mount an expected counter-offensive, but western allies have so far been reluctant to agree, citing lengthy required training.

Mr Johnson told Sky News: “What the Ukrainians want is F16s. We don’t have F16s. We do have Typhoons. I think there is an argument for the UK breaking the ice and giving them some Typhoons.

“If it is a question of training people up to use those machines, we can do that.”

Mr Johnson said it was “absolutely crucial” the Ukrainians have the equipment they need if they are to drive out Russian forces and prevent them from re-grouping for a fresh offensive.

“There is clearly a possibility, unless the Ukrainians get the help that they need, that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin can kind of manufacture out of the land that he is able to retain some sort of victory from this disaster,” he said.

“That is why it is vital that we help the Ukrainians to expunge Putin’s forces from every part of their territory.”

Mr Johnson also said it would be a historic mistake for China to support Russia in the conflict by supplying it with weapons.

Ukraine ‘repels Russian front-line attacks’

19:06 , Jane Dalton

Ukraine says its forces have repelled Russian assaults along the length of the front line on the eve of the war’s anniversary.

In the past few weeks Russia has mounted infantry assaults across frozen ground in battles described by both sides as the bloodiest of the war.

At a Ukrainian tank park near Bakhmut, the small eastern city that has become Russia’s main target, constant explosions could be heard in the distance.

“If we give up Bakhmut, everything else will get even more complicated. We can’t give it up, under no circumstance. We will hold through,” Junior Sergeant Oleh Slavin, a tank operator, told Reuters. “We are in place for now and trying to get all the territory back.”

Moscow’s forces have made progress trying to encircle Bakhmut, but have failed to break through Ukrainian lines to the north near Kremmina and to the south at Vuhledar, where they have taken heavy losses assaulting across open ground.

Ukrainian forces repelled 90 Russian attacks in the northeast and east over the past 24 hours, the military said early on Thursday.

Military spokesperson Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Moscow was trying to use its manpower advantage to exhaust Kyiv’s forces.

“The enemy, despite significant losses, does not abandon attempts to surround Bakhmut,” he said.

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces fired artillery at Ukraine military units in a number of areas including Vuhledar.

Londoners hold vigil for Ukraine

18:35 , Jane Dalton

People gathered in Trafalgar Square to hold a vigil for Ukraine, to mark the first anniversary of the war.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Ukrainian schools closed for anniversary alert

18:04 , Jane Dalton

Ukraine has shut some of the country’s schools for the war’s anniversary on Friday, in anticipation that Moscow might launch long-range missile attacks to mark the date.

But Kyiv officials said they believe Moscow no longer has the capability for a dramatic show of force.

“Nothing unusual will happen. Usual (Russian) effort... A small missile strike is planned,” military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov told the Ukrainska Pravda news website. “Believe me, we have experienced this more than 20 times.”

Ukraine’s central bank marked the invasion anniversary by issuing a new banknote commemorating resistance in the war. One side shows three soldiers hoisting the Ukrainian flag after recapturing the Black Sea outcrop of Snake Island, one of Kyiv’s biggest victories of the war. The other side shows hands bound together with tape, to depict war crime victims.

Pregnant Russians flock to Argentina seeking new passports

17:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, Alla Prigolovkina and her husband, Andrei Ushakov, decided they had to flee their Sochi, Russia, home.

Ushakov had been detained for holding up a sign that read “Peace,” and Prigolovkina, a pregnant ski instructor, feared he would soon be drafted and potentially killed, leaving their baby fatherless.

The original plan was to stay in Europe, but anti-Russian sentiment discouraged them.

“We chose Argentina because it has everything we needed: Fantastic nature, a large country, beautiful mountains,” Prigolovkina, 34, told The Associated Press inside the home her family is renting in Argentina’s western Mendoza province. “We felt it would be ideal for us.”

Read on here:

Pregnant Russians flock to Argentina seeking new passports

NATO has seen signs China is considering sending arms to Russia , Stoltenberg says

16:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday the alliance had seen signs China was considering supplying arms to Russia and warned Beijing against taking any such step.

The announcement came days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China of consequences if it provided material support to Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.

“We haven’t seen any supplies of lethal aid from China to Russia, but we have seen signs that they are considering and may be planning for that,” Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview.

“That’s the reason why the United States and other allies have been very clear, warning against that. And China should of course not support Russia‘s illegal war,” he added.

 (AP)
(AP)

There was no immediate comment from China, but its Foreign Ministry said earlier on Thursday any potential intelligence on arms transfer by China to Russia that the United States plans to release was just speculation.

Russia and China signed a “no limits” partnership last February shortly before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and their economic links have boomed as Moscow’s connections with the West have shrivelled.

The West has been wary of China’s response to the Ukraine war, with some officials warning that a Russian victory would colour China’s actions toward Taiwan. China has not condemned the conflict in Ukraine or calling it an “invasion”.

Stoltenberg said China was a member of the U.N. Security Council and that Russia‘s war against Ukraine violated the U.N. Charter.

“The basic principle of that charter is to respect the integrity of other nations and not to march in and invade another country with hundreds of thousands of troops,” he said. “Of course, China should not be part of that.”

China has said it will set out its position on how to settle the Ukraine conflict through political means in an upcoming paper, which Russian state media say will be published on the one-year anniversary of Russia‘s “special military operation”.

West is using Ukraine to try to break up Russia, says Russian defence minister

16:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday accused the West of using Ukraine to try to break up Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, but said he thought the purported attempt to do so would fail.

“Using Ukraine, the collective West is seeking to dismember Russia, to deprive it of its independence. These attempts are doomed to fail,” Shoigu said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

Russia Ukraine (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
Russia Ukraine (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Ukraine-China meeting ‘would be desirable’- Zelensky

15:32 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday he had not seen any Chinese plan for ending Russia‘s war on Ukraine, but that “it would be desirable” for Chinese and Ukrainian representatives to meet.

He said on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine that Kyiv had already communicated the desire for such a meeting.

“We would like to meet with China,” he said during a news briefing in Kyiv with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “This is in the interests of Ukraine today.”

China’s top diplomat has said Beijing will set out its position on settling the Ukraine conflict through political means in a document that will reference principles from the United Nations’ founding charter and take into account territorial integrity, sovereignty and security concerns.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to deliver a “peace speech” on the Feb. 24 anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.

Zelenskiy said he had heard only “general things” about China’s proposals through Ukrainian diplomats, but that it was encouraging that China was considering brokering peace.

Activists paint giant Ukrainian flag outside Russian embassy in London

14:31 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A group of activists poured hundreds of litres of yellow and blue paint onto the road outside the Russian Embassy in London on Thursday to create an enormous Ukrainian flag ahead of the one year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.

The campaign group “Led By Donkeys” halted traffic before spreading more than 300 litres of paint across the road using wheelbarrows and brushes to make the 500 square metre (5382 square feet) flag.

“Ukraine is an independent state and a people with every right to self-determination,” the group said in a statement.

“The existence of a massive Ukrainian flag outside (Russian President Vladimir Putin’s) embassy in London will serve to remind him of that.”

Moscow says its invasion was justified by concerns about its security.

London’s Metropolitan Police said three men and one woman had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and obstructing the highway.

The tyres of several vehicles were covered in the paint as they drove over it, leaving colorful markings along the road which borders Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

The group said the non-toxic, solvent-free and fast-dry edible paint was washable and designed for road art.

Ukraine at war a year on: Sign up to our exclusive expert panel event

14:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

To mark the year anniversary of the war in Ukraine breaking out, The Independent is bringing together a panel of experts who have been at the forefront of the coverage of the conflict.

Our panel will be looking back at some of the key moments from the past year as well as looking ahead to what is likely to happen next and if any future resolution is in sight.

The Independent’s news editor Steph Cockroft will be hosting the event and she will be joined by Russia expert and columnist for the Independent Mary Dejevsky, The Independent’s international correspondent Bel Trew, who will be joining live from Ukraine, and Tim White a journalist who has been reporting from the war torn country for much of the past 12 months and updating his thousands of followers on Twitter regularly from the ground.

Join our free panel for an hour’s discussion and also exclusive insight into Bel’s upcoming Independent TV Originals documentary on Ukraine’s missing victims ‘Body in the Woods’.

To find out more about how to sign up click here

Ukraine has convicted 26 war crimes suspects since invasion

13:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian courts have tried and convicted 26 low-ranking suspects since the Russian invasion a year ago and have brought charges against nearly 300 individuals, an official said on Thursday.

Ukraine‘s prosecutor coordinating war crimes cases in The Hague, Myroslava Krasnoborova, said the convictions were for crimes including rape and murder, the shelling of residential buildings, cruel treatment of civilians and pillaging.

So far, Ukraine has registered more than 71,000 alleged war crimes since Feb. 24, 2022, she said.

“Atrocities and destruction caused by Russia are colossal and endless. Millions of people have been forced to leave everything behind. Massive missile attacks are destroying the civilian infrastructure and many tragically lost their lives,” she said.”

“This damage cannot be undone, but what we can do is to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” Krasnoborova said during a briefing about efforts to create accountability for the widespread atrocities.

Russia has denied committing atrocities or targeting civilians.

A total of 296 individuals have so far been charged with war crimes, with 99 cases currently being handled by Ukrainian courts, she said.

Ukraine‘s law enforcement agencies are being assisted in war crimes investigations by dozens of countries and institutions.

The figures were released at a briefing by the European prosecuting authority Eurojust, where a Joint Investigation Team for war crimes in Ukraine has been established with the ICC, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine.

No arrest warrants have yet been issued in public by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which began investigating possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago.

Watch: Giant Ukrainian flag painted on road outside Russian embassy

13:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Putin says Russia will pay more attention to boosting nuclear forces

12:38 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia would pay increased attention to boosting its nuclear forces by deploying a much delayed new intercontinental ballistic missile, rolling out hypersonic missiles and adding new nuclear submarines.

It comes after he suspended Russia’s participation in the START nuclear arms control treaty earlier this week.

“As before, we will pay increased attention to strengthening the nuclear triad,” said Putin, referring to nuclear missiles based on land, sea and in the air.

“We will continue mass production of air-based hypersonic Kinzhal systems and will start mass supplies of sea-based Zircon hypersonic missiles,” Putin said in the remarks issued by the Kremlin early on Thursday.

 (AP)
(AP)

Destruction and defiance: Inside Putin’s year-long war on Ukraine

12:01 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

It has been one year since Russia launched their invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s war has raged across Ukraine since early 2022, sparking an international crisis and raising tensions between the West and Russia to a point not seen in decades.

During the past 12 months, territories in the Eastern European country have been lost and gained back, and thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed.

Gas and oil prices have rocketed, and millions have been left seeking refuge but, throughout it all, Ukraine has stood strong and defended its land.

The Independent has closely covered the conflict, and, using our reporting both on the ground and remotely, we have revisited the past year’s key moments — from footage of possible Russian war crimes to soldiers being reunited with their families.

Destruction and defiance: Inside Putin’s year-long war on Ukraine

Russia intensifies attacks ahead of the one year anniversary of war on Friday

11:18 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia is intensifying hostilities in Ukraine a year after its invasion in a deliberate attempt to deplete Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian military said on Thursday.

Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Russia had set the goal of capturing all the territory it does not control in the two regions that make up the industrial Donbas area of eastern Ukraine by summer.

The fiercest fighting remained around the eastern city of Bakhmut, he told a military briefing on the eve of Friday’s anniversary of the invasion on Feb. 24 last year.

“The enemy, having an advantage in the resource of human mobilisation, is deliberately intensifying hostilities in an effort to deplete the units of the armed forces of Ukraine,” Gromov said.

“In the short term, it is important for the Kremlin to capture the key settlements in the Donetsk region, and in the future to capture (all of) the Donetsk and Luhansk regions before the summer.”

Kyiv says Russia is suffering heavy casualties as it throws recently mobilised troops into battle, but Gromov said Moscow was using better prepared soldiers from regular units in the already months-long battle for Bakhmut.

 (AP)
(AP)

Moscow agrees to give Wagner more Ukraine battle shells after row

11:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia‘s Wagner mercenary force, said on Thursday that much-needed ammunition for his troops had been dispatched, after a public row in which he accused the military leadership of treason.

Prigozhin had on Wednesday published a grisly image of dozens of men who he said had been killed because commanders including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov had withheld ammunition to spite him. Neither man commented but the ministry rejected the charge.

In an audio clip on Thursday, Prigozhin said he felt the pressure he and others had put on the Defence Ministry had paid off, and that he had been told ammunition was now on its way.

“So far, it’s all on paper but, so we have been told, the principal documents have already been signed,” said Prigozhin.

“I would like to thank all those who helped us do this. You saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives of guys who are defending their homeland, gave them a chance to move on with their lives.”

The ministry, in a statement late on Tuesday, said allegations that “assault troops” fighting in Ukraine were being starved of shells were “completely untrue” and complained - without mentioning Prigozhin by name - about attempts to create splits that worked “solely to the benefit of the enemy”.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia‘s Wagner mercenary force (AP)
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia‘s Wagner mercenary force (AP)

Watch: Ukrainian refugees in UK reunited with dog they had to leave behind

10:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Footage captures the moment Ukrainian refugees in the UK were reunited with a dog they had to leave behind.

‘Me and Jack Nicholson were put in a convoy to meet Putin’: Sean Penn on his Zelensky film and the future of Ukraine

10:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The actor and director talks to Geoffrey Macnab about the war in Ukraine and how the US lost its way under Trump:

Sean Penn once met Vladimir Putin. Back in 2001, when he and Jack Nicholson went to the Moscow Film Festival for the Russian premiere of Penn’s film, The Pledge, the president turned up to meet them. Even then, more than 20 years before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Penn had a very bad feeling about the politician he now calls a “creepy little bully”.

During their time in Russia, Penn and Nicholson were driven to the dacha (or country house) belonging to Oscar-winning Russian filmmaker and Putin cheerleader, Nikita Mikhalkov.

Sean Penn interview: ‘Me and Jack Nicholson were put in a convoy to meet Putin’

Moldova dismisses Russian report of Ukraine plot over Transdniestria

09:39 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Moldova dismissed an accusation by Russia‘s defence ministry on Thursday that Ukraine planned to invade the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniestria after staging a false flag operation, and called for calm.

The Russian news agency RIA said Ukraine, which borders Moldova, planned to stage an attack by purportedly Russian forces from Transdniestria as a pretext for the invasion. Russia keeps troops in the breakaway region.

The TASS news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin as saying separately that the West had instructed Moldova’s government in Chisinau to stop all interaction with Transdniestria’s Moscow-backed authorities.

The Moldovan government issued a statement on the Telegram messaging app saying state authorities “do not confirm” the Russian defence ministry’s allegations.

“We call for calm and for information to be received (by the public) from official and credible sources of the Republic of Moldova,” it said. “Our institutions cooperate with foreign partners and in the case of threats to the country, the public will be promptly informed.”

Moldova’s foreign minister told Reuters on Wednesday that the tiny former Soviet republic, which also borders NATO member Romania, was prepared for a “full spectrum of threats” from Russia.

“Our institutions have planned for responses along the full spectrum of threats,” he said. “Of course we have limited means, but at the same time we are not alone in this.”

Members of Moldova's recently-formed Movement for the People group and Moldova's Russia-friendly Shor Party (AP)
Members of Moldova's recently-formed Movement for the People group and Moldova's Russia-friendly Shor Party (AP)

Russian fighter jet crashes in Belgorod region, near Ukraine border -governor

09:11 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Russian SU-25 fighter plane crashed on Thursday in Russia‘s Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine but the cause of the incident was not yet known, the regional governor said.

Citing emergency services, the RIA state news agency said the pilot was still alive after ejecting himself from the plane.

In a post on the Telegram messenger app, Belgorod’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said the emergency services and investigators were on the scene near the town of Valyuki, and that the reason for the crash was being established.

Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine‘s Kharkiv region, has repeatedly come under fire since the beginning of Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

Sweden open to sending Leopards to Ukraine, defence minister says

08:47 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Sweden is open to sending some of its Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine as the Nordic country prepares to present another package of aid to help the country fight off the Russian invasion, its defence minister told local news agency TT.

Sweden has delivered a string of military and civilian aid packages to Ukraine since the invasion, which Moscow calls a special military operation, began a year ago.

The latest instalment includes armoured infantry fighting vehicles, which Defence Minister Pal Jonson told the news agency would be the country’s main contribution to Ukraine in terms of equipment for ground warfare.

Sweden is also preparing to send Ukraine the advanced Archer artillery system to Ukraine, but support in the Swedish parliament has been growing to additionally contribute some of the country’s around 120 Leopard tanks.

“We are open to that and we are in close dialogue with above all Germany about it,” Jonson was quoted by TT as saying.

A Leopard 2 tank in action (AP)
A Leopard 2 tank in action (AP)

Russian man indicted in Poland for spying

08:22 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Russian citizen who has been living and conducting business activities in Poland for many years has been charged with spying for Russia between 2015 and April 2022, Polish authorities said on Thursday.

Relations between Russia and countries once in the Soviet sphere of influence have long been fraught, but the invasion of Ukraine has increased suspicion about Moscow’s intentions.

The man was detained in April on evidence that he had collected information concerning the military readiness of the Polish Armed Forces and of NATO troops that was then passed on to the Russian intelligence service.

An indictment was submitted last Friday to Gdansk District Court against the suspect, a spokeswoman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Gdansk said in a statement.

“The suspect’s espionage activity was focused on military units located in the north-eastern part of Poland, as part of which he carried out tasks of reconnaissance of important elements of the Polish Armed Forces,” she said.

In addition, a number of corruption offences committed by the man relating to customs clearance of goods were revealed. The man faces up to 10 years in prison.

“The case...is one of several proceedings concerning activities for the intelligence services of Russia and Belarus against the Polish Armed Forces that prosecutors of the military affairs division are currently conducting,” the spokeswoman added.

War could last another year as Putin ‘running a meat grinder for an army,’ Ben Wallace says

07:38 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The conflict in Ukraine could last another year, the Defence Secretary has suggested.

Ben Wallace, asked whether we could see the war between Ukraine and Russia still going in another 12 months, told LBC: “I think we will.

“I think Russia has shown a complete disregard, not only for the lives of the people of Ukraine, but for its own soldiers.

“We are sitting here 12 months in and 188,000, actually more now, Russian soldiers are dead or injured as a result of this catastrophic miscalculation and aggression by President Putin.

“When someone has crossed the line and thinks it is OK to do that to your own people, running effectively a meat grinder for an army, I think he is not going to stop.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Russia possibly preparing for offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Vuhledar, UK says

07:27 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian forces are possibly preparing for another offensive around the town of Vuhledar in the eastern Donbas region, with the town experiencing heavy shelling, Britain said in an intelligence bulletin on Thursday.

Britain added that fighting has also continued in the eastern city of Bakhmut over the last two days.

 (Sputnik)
(Sputnik)

Russian general facing pressure and criticism over fight in Donetsk’s Vuhledar - MoD

07:01 , Arpan Rai

Russian colonel general Rustam Muradov is likely facing intense pressure to improve results following harsh criticism from the Russian nationalist community after previous setbacks, the British defence ministry said today.

The Russian general is in-charge of Russia’s eastern group of forces which is likely still responsible for the military operation in Vuhledar, the ministry said in its latest intelligence.

“Over the last 48 hours, heavy fighting has continued in the Bakhmut sector where Ukrainian forces are keeping resupply routes open to the west despite Russia’s creeping encirclement over the last six weeks,” it added.

The MoD added that further south in Donetsk Oblast, the town of Vuhledar has again experienced heavy shelling.

“There is a realistic possibility that Russia is preparing for another offensive effort in this area despite costly failed attacks in early February and late 2022,” the ministry noted.

However, it is unlikely that Muradov has a striking force capable of achieving a breakthrough, according to the ministry’s latest update on war.

Ukrainian forces repel nearly 90 attacks in past 24 hours – official

06:46 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian forces have repelled nearly 90 Russian attacks over the past day, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said today in the morning update from the war’s frontlines.

These attacks have mostly been repelled in northeastern and eastern Ukraine where most of the battle is concentrated.

Ukraine repelled the attacks near Kupiansk in eastern Kharkiv oblast, located not far from Luhansk oblast, and Lyman, Bakhmut, Adviika, and Shakhtarsk in Donetsk oblast, where, according to the General Staff.

Word war: In Russia-Ukraine war, information became a weapon

06:27 , Arpan Rai

Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine is the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II, and the first to see algorithms and TikTok videos deployed alongside fighter planes and tanks.

The online fight has played out on computer screens and smartphones around the globe as Russia used disinformation, propaganda and conspiracy theories to justify its invasion, silence domestic opposition and sow discord among its adversaries.

Now in its second year, the war is likely to spawn even more disinformation as Russia looks to break the will of Ukraine and its allies.

Word war: In Russia-Ukraine war, information became a weapon

Ben Wallace meets Ukrainian troops training with tanks at Bovington Camp

06:19 , Arpan Rai

Defence secretary Ben Wallace (Front 3rdR) poses in front of a FV 4034 Challenger 2 tank with Ukrainian soldiers who are undergoing training at Bovington Camp, a British Army military base, southwest England (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace (Front 3rdR) poses in front of a FV 4034 Challenger 2 tank with Ukrainian soldiers who are undergoing training at Bovington Camp, a British Army military base, southwest England (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace (centre Right) with Ukrainian soldiers and interpreters during a visit to Bovington Camp, a British Army military base in Dorset, to view Ukrainian soldiers training on Challenger 2 tanks in Bovington, Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace (centre Right) with Ukrainian soldiers and interpreters during a visit to Bovington Camp, a British Army military base in Dorset, to view Ukrainian soldiers training on Challenger 2 tanks in Bovington, Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace meets Ukrainian soldiers during a visit to Bovington Camp in Bovington, Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace meets Ukrainian soldiers during a visit to Bovington Camp in Bovington, Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace speaks to the crew inside an Ajax armoured personnel carrier after a demonstration during a visit to Bovington Camp in Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace speaks to the crew inside an Ajax armoured personnel carrier after a demonstration during a visit to Bovington Camp in Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace meeting the crew of an Ajax Ares armored personnel carrier during a visit to Bovington Camp in Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace meeting the crew of an Ajax Ares armored personnel carrier during a visit to Bovington Camp in Dorset (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace meeting the crew of an Ajax Ares armored personnel carrier during a visit to Bovington Camp in Bovington, Dorset. British defence secretary Ben Wallace is visiting a British Army military base in Dorset to see Ukrainian soldiers train on Challenger 2 tanks. (Getty Images)
Defence secretary Ben Wallace meeting the crew of an Ajax Ares armored personnel carrier during a visit to Bovington Camp in Bovington, Dorset. British defence secretary Ben Wallace is visiting a British Army military base in Dorset to see Ukrainian soldiers train on Challenger 2 tanks. (Getty Images)

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

06:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been raging for almost a year now, the conflict continuing to record devastating casualties and force the mass displacement of millions of blameless Ukrainians.

Vladimir Putin began the war by claiming Russia’s neighbour needed to be “demilitarised and de-Nazified”, a baseless pretext on which to launch a landgrab against an independent state that happens to have a Jewish president in Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine has fought back courageously against Mr Putin’s warped bid to restore territory lost to Moscow with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued to defy the odds by defending itself against Russian onslaughts with the help of Western military aid.

Battle tanks from the US, Britain and Germany are now being supplied for the first time and Mr Zelensky toured London, Paris and Brussels in early February 2023 to request fighter jets be sent as well in order to counter the Russian aerial threat, a step the allies appear to have reservations about making, although Joe Biden has since visited Kyiv in a gesture of solidarity.

Much of the fighting has been concentrated around the key eastern city of Bakhmut of late, with bombardments and heavy artillery fire taking place as Russian forces ramp up a major new offensive with the one-year anniversary of the war looming.

Read more:

When did Russia invade Ukraine?

US looking to release intelligence on China’s potential arms transfer to Russia – report

05:50 , Arpan Rai

The Biden administration is considering the option of releasing intelligence it believes shows how China’s planning on whether to supply weapons to support Russia’s war in Ukraine, US officials have said.

According to a senior official, “Until now” there “has been a certain amount of ambiguity about what practical help China might give Russia,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

The intelligence the US and its allies have now is “much less ambiguous”, the official added.

The US secretary of state Antony Blinken went public with his warning after the high-level meeting with China’s senior foreign policy diplomat. He said that China is seriously exploring supplying arms to Russia.

Putin’s decision doesn’t confirm he is thinking of nuclear weapons, says Biden

05:33 , Arpan Rai

Joe Biden has said he has not read into Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to temporarily suspend participation in a nuclear arms treaty.

“It’s a big mistake to do that. Not very responsible. But I don’t read into that that he’s thinking of using nuclear weapons or anything like that,” Mr Biden told ABC News in an interview.

Earlier this week, Mr Putin backed away from the New START arms control treaty – a 2010 agreement that limits the number of Russian and US deployed strategic nuclear warheads – and warned that Moscow could resume nuclear tests.

Photographer says capturing Ukraine conflict helped her ‘not go crazy’

05:00 , Eleanor Noyce

A photojournalist who captured Kyiv through a series of images on the day Russia invaded Ukraine said photography helped her document her “weird” feelings and “not go crazy”.

Alina Smutko took photos on February 24 in case she saw ‘Ukrainian’ Kyiv for the last time.

Danielle Desouza reports:

Photographer says capturing Ukraine conflict helped her ‘not go crazy’

‘I’m not a hero but I’m not a wimp either’ – UK aid workers reflect on Ukraine

04:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Aid workers from the UK who have visited Ukraine have shared the lessons they have learned over the past 12 months, with one saying: “I have never seen those looks on people’s faces before and I have spent years working in hospitals.”

Nurse, midwife and humanitarian aid worker Wendy Warrington, 56, from Bury, Greater Manchester, and Liberty Rose, a 27-year-old nursing student who lives in Emsworth, Hampshire, have both visited Ukraine in the 12 months since the war started.

The pair spoke to the PA news agency about the “strength and resilience” required to assist in the embattled country, as well as their tips for how people can help as the conflict continues.

Danielle Desouza reports:

‘I’m not a hero but I’m not a wimp either’ – UK aid workers reflect on Ukraine

British Challenger tanks could reach Ukraine by ‘spring’, says Ben Wallace

03:34 , Arpan Rai

Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said that Ukraine could receive promised British battle tanks within a few weeks.

The Challenger 2 Tanks will arrive in Ukraine in “the spring”, he said, as he spoke to Ukrainian soldiers training to use the superior Western battle tank.

“It is hugely inspiring to come and witness Ukrainian soldiers being trained on British Challenger 2 tanks. Their resilience and determination to succeed for the liberation of their country sends a powerful message to Russia,” Mr Wallace said.

Britain has already given more than 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers basic training in drone warfare and has been training tank crews since late January, part of what ministers say is proof of the country’s leading role in supporting Ukraine.

Zelensky says working in a ‘very powerful manner’ with Sunak

03:18 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that he and Rishi Sunak spoke last evening over a phone call ahead of the war anniversary.

“In the evening I spoke with the prime minister of the United Kingdom. We are working in a very powerful manner together with the UK to strengthen our warriors, to bring our common victory closer, to implement our defence agreements reached during my visit to London,” he said in his nightly address.

Mr Zelensky said: “And it would be great if all our partners, like the UK, understood how the speed of defence supplies affects concrete successes on the battlefield.”

We also discussed important political issues that need to be resolved this week, he added.

The real surprise of 2023? That Putin is still standing

03:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Well, he hasn’t changed the script much. For Vladimir Putin, it was as if the past year of setbacks, debates, and humiliation for his own forces had never happened. For him, absurdly, it was the West that started the war, and is “culpable” – not Russia.

It is, apparently, the Ukrainians who are the aggressive neo-Nazis, and not the brutal nationalists in the Kremlin who sent the tanks into Ukraine a year ago and, unable to prevail on the battlefield, have spent the last 12 months terrorising civilians. Even now, with so many casualties that the Russian president has had to announce a new national agency to support the bereaved, the biggest war in Europe since 1945 is still referred to using the euphemism “special military operation”.

Despite the failure of his ‘special military operation’, the degradation of domestic living standards, and international isolation, the Russian leader hasn’t been overthrown, writes Sean O’Grady:

The real surprise of 2023? That Putin is still standing | Sean O’Grady

Ukraine's health care on the brink after hundreds of attacks

02:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Valentyna Mozgova sweeps shattered glass and other debris from the vacant halls of the bombed-out hospital where she began her career. Living in the basement, the 55-year-old lab technician now works as its solitary guard.

Russian artillery strikes targeted Marinskaya Central District Hospital in 2017 and again in 2021. But numerous barrages over the last seven months forced the hospital’s medical staff to flee, destroying key departments such as neurology and gynecology, as well as a general medical clinic in the process.

Mozgova chose to stay. Having worked in the hospital’s laboratories since graduating from medical school in the late 1980s, she agreed to act as the hospital’s security guard for 10,000 hryvnia ($250) a month. She and her husband were soon joined in the basement shelter by five others who had lost their homes to bombing, a dog and a cat.

Mozgova picks up the broom at 8 a.m. sharp every three days to inspect the hallways, carefully avoiding the fragments of Russian Grad rockets strewn across the floors for fear of yet another explosion.

“Everything is decaying and falling apart,” she told The Associated Press. “But I’m so sick of it. I want to live my life normally, sleep in my bed, watch my TV, not jump at the sound of an explosion, go to work calmly and do my job.”

Read more:

Ukraine's health care on the brink after hundreds of attacks

Global impact: 5 ways war in Ukraine has changed the world

01:00 , Eleanor Noyce

War has been a catastrophe for Ukraine and a crisis for the globe. The world is a more unstable and fearful place since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, 2022.

One year on, thousands of Ukrainian civilians are dead, and countless buildings have been destroyed. Tens of thousands of troops have been killed or seriously wounded on each side. Beyond Ukraine’s borders, the invasion shattered European security, redrew nations’ relations with one another and frayed a tightly woven global economy.

Here are five ways the war has changed the world:

Global impact: 5 ways war in Ukraine has changed the world

Biden and Stoltenberg meet Nato Bucharest Nine allies in Poland

Wednesday 22 February 2023 23:50 , Eleanor Noyce

Joe Biden and Jens Stoltenberg met with Nato Bucharest Nine allies in Poland on Wednesday, 22 February.

The US president and the Secretary General of Nato held talks with the military alliance’s eastern flank to assure them that the Biden administration is highly aware of looming threats brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Bucharest Nine are Nato allies who joined the military alliance after being dominated by Moscow during the Cold War.

Mr Biden has been staying in Poland after his surprise trip to Ukraine, in which he reiterated US support for Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops in their fight against Vladimir Putin’s forces.

The meeting comes after Vladimir Putin suspended a landmark nuclear arms control treaty just days before the first anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine, amid a period of highest tension between Russia and the West in the decades since the Cold War.

Holly Patrick reports:

Biden and Stoltenberg meet Nato Bucharest Nine allies in Poland

Russia threatens ‘further countermeasures’ after suspending key nuclear arms deal

Wednesday 22 February 2023 23:20 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia has said it will consider taking “further countermeasures” against the US and its allies after it suspended its participation in a key nuclear arms deal.

President Vladimir Putin announced the country is suspending the new START treaty on Tuesday.

His deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov has now said Russia will be “monitoring” the US to decide whether to launch further action.

He said: “We will, of course, be closely monitoring the further actions of the United States and its allies, including with a view to taking further countermeasures, if necessary.”

Mr Putin announced Russia will no longer comply with the agreement, which limits participating countries’ nuclear capabilities, in a lengthy state of the nation address - in which he also blamed the West for the war in Ukraine.

My colleague Kate Plummer reports:

Russia threatens ‘further countermeasures’ after suspending key nuclear arms deal

Russia's sports exile persists 1 year after invading Ukraine

Wednesday 22 February 2023 22:50 , Eleanor Noyce

One year after the invasion of Ukraine began, Russia‘s reintegration into the world of sports threatens to create the biggest rift in the Olympic movement since the Cold War.

Russia remains excluded from many international sporting events, but that could soon change. Next year’s Paris Olympics are fast approaching and qualifying events are under way. The International Olympic Committee is working to bring athletes from Russia and ally Belarus back into competition, but not everyone agrees.

If Russian athletes are to return to competition, the sports world must resolve two key issues that became clear in the days after the invasion: How can Russian athletes return without alienating Ukrainians? And what can be done about the Russians who support the war?

As the first battles raged, the Ukrainian fencing team refused to compete against Russia at a tournament in Egypt, holding up a sign reading: “Stop Russia! Stop the war! Save Ukraine! Save Europe!”

More here:

Russia's sports exile persists 1 year after invading Ukraine

International journalists federation suspends Russian union

Wednesday 22 February 2023 22:20 , Eleanor Noyce

The International Federation of Journalists has suspended with immediate effect the Russian Union of Journalists over its action since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its role in annexed Ukrainian territories.

The IFJ, which represents more than 600,000 media workers across the world, said the Russian union’s membership was suspended following an investigation then a vote by its global executive committee on Wednesday.

The vote was held after the union refused to reconsider its decision to set up branches in four regions annexed by Russia, the federation said.

“The Russian Union of Journalists’ actions in establishing four branches in the annexed Ukrainian territories have clearly shattered ... solidarity and sown divisions among sister unions,” said IFJ President Dominique Pradalié.

Read more:

International journalists federation suspends Russian union

Matt Hancock promotes NFTs to raise money for former Ukrainian lodgers

Wednesday 22 February 2023 21:50 , Eleanor Noyce

Matt Hancock is promoting crypto art created by his former Ukrainian lodger to help raise money for refugees who have fled the war.

The NFTs, which make up a 15-piece collection called From Ukraine with Love, were made by Oleg Mischenko, whose family had been staying with the former health secretary until they moved into their own home in Suffolk last week.

They will be auctioned off on cryptocurrency trading app Coinbase, this week, with 90 per cent of the money raised going to charity Care International’s Ukraine appeal, while the remaining funds will go to Mr Mischenko’s family.

A physical sale of the art will also take place at the NFT Gallery in Mayfair and the artworks will be traded in Ethereum.

My colleague Kate Plummer has more:

Matt Hancock promotes NFTs to raise money for former Ukrainian lodgers

Russia denies plan to test new missile off South Africa

Wednesday 22 February 2023 21:20 , Eleanor Noyce

The Russian military denied Wednesday that it was planning to test its new Zircon hypersonic missiles during naval drills off the coast of South Africa this week that will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

China‘s navy also is participating in the Indian Ocean exercises, which come at a time when Russia’s relationship with the West is at its lowest point since the Cold War, and ties between China and the United States are under serious strain.

As Russian and Chinese warships prepared in South Africa for their joint drills, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted China’s most senior foreign policy official at the Kremlin. Those meetings showed the strengthening of Russia’s relationship with China and raised concern in the West that Beijing might be ready to offer Moscow stronger support for its war in Ukraine.

Russia’s aims for the naval exercises came under scrutiny because of the involvement of the Admiral Gorshkov, a frigate which is armed with hypersonic missiles. The ship arrived in Cape Town last week emblazoned with the letters Z and V, letters also seen on Russian weapons on the front lines in Ukraine and which are used as patriotic symbols in Russia.

Read more:

Russia denies plan to test new missile off South Africa

Putin’s most baffling remarks about the West since the war in Ukraine started

Wednesday 22 February 2023 20:50 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin delivered a state of the nation speech in Moscow this week marking the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine he ordered a year ago.

In the colourful two-hour speech, the Kremlin leader vowed to continue his “special military operation” in Ukraine and told listeners that it would be impossible for Russia to be defeated. Mr Putin acknowledged the difficulty of the war on Russians who had lost loved ones, but he stressed that the West and Ukrainian elites were actually behind the war and not his military orders.

Mr Putin also took an interesting detour to comment on practices in the West. Adding to his many bizarre comments about his opposers, Mr Putin said paedophilia was normal in the UK.

My colleague Thomas Kingsley dissects Putin’s most baffling remarks about the West since the war in Ukraine started:

Putin’s most baffling remarks about the West since the war in Ukraine started

Zelensky and Sunak speak ahead of first anniversary of Ukrainian invasion

Wednesday 22 February 2023 20:40 , Arpan Rai

Rishi Sunak has spoken to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of the first anniversary of the invasion.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The prime minister spoke to president Zelensky this evening, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Friday.

“The prime minister updated on his visit to the Munich Security Conference, and said he had used the event to call on allies to accelerate their support to help Ukraine progress military gains in the coming weeks and months.”

“Now was the time for Ukraine to seize the opportunity to make real progress on the battlefield and further demonstrate to Putin that Ukraine would ultimately win, the leaders agreed.”

Iconic Slovenian band Laibach to perform in Ukraine amid war

Wednesday 22 February 2023 20:20 , Eleanor Noyce

Slovenia’s iconic band Laibach will hold a concert in Ukraine‘s capital next month, saying Wednesday this will make them the first foreign group to perform a full show in Kyiv since the beginning of the Russian invasion last February.

The industrial rock band will hold a “very special concert” on March 31st at the Bel Etage Music Hall in Kyiv, a statement said. The concert will be dubbed ‘Eurovision’ in reference to the pop song contest which Ukraine won in 2022 but which will be hosted by the UK in Liverpool instead of Ukraine this year because of the war.

“While the rest of Europe prepares to celebrate its idea of freedom and solidarity on 9 May in Liverpool, Laibach will be taking Eurovision back to Ukraine — where it belongs and where the only true and real vision of Europe is taking place right now,” the concert announcement said.

Laibach is Slovenia’s best known band which has won fame abroad for its totalitarian visual style, toying with populist imagery and almost martial-rhythm songs, sang in husky, deep vocals.

Read more:

Iconic Slovenian band Laibach to perform in Ukraine amid war

Ukrainian mother thanks the UK public for donations, describing them as “angels of kindness"

Wednesday 22 February 2023 19:50 , Eleanor Noyce

A Ukrainian mother forced to flee her home has thanked the UK public for donating to help those affected by the conflict, saying they are “angels of kindness”.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has become the biggest charity donor to the response inside Ukraine, and to the regional refugee response, raising more than £400 million since it was launched in March 2022.

The organisation said the money has gone towards supporting work in communities, tackling homelessness, trauma and emergency responses and is “testimony to the generosity of the British people”.

Among those supported is Polina, a social worker and mother of three young boys who fled Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine when she was six months pregnant, and is being housed in DEC-supported accommodation.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed, who recently visited the country to see the work being carried out, told the PA news agency: “There was a huge gratitude and appreciation for the support of the British public.

“Polina, for example, said ‘you are angels of kindness’ and wanted me to pass on the thanks to the British public for their support.

“But also this inspired and motivated people for themselves to support each other and also share what they have with others.”

King Charles welcomes visit from president of German Parliament, showing solidarity amidst war in Ukraine

Wednesday 22 February 2023 19:20 , Eleanor Noyce

King Charles III has held an audience with the president of the German parliament.

He is expected to become the first British monarch to address the Bundestag during a state visit to Germany later this month, having welcomed Barbel Bas to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon.

Charles and Ms Bas shook hands in the Palace’s 1844 Room, with the pair appearing in good humour, laughing as they chatted and greeted one another.

The King’s trip to Germany is expected to follow immediately after a state visit to France, which is due to be Charles’s first official journey abroad since he acceded to the throne.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on the reported trips.

Katja Mast, first parliamentary secretary of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, welcomed the forthcoming visit, telling the Deutsche Presse-Agentur that German-British friendship was “extremely important to Europe and the world” post-Brexit and amid the war in Ukraine.

Ben Wallace praises “dedication and determination” of Ukrainian soldiers training on tank operation

Wednesday 22 February 2023 18:50 , Eleanor Noyce

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has praised the “dedication and determination” of Ukrainian soldiers being trained to operate British Challenger 2 tanks donated for the war against Russia.

The Secretary of State, who is a former soldier himself, met the troops training at Bovington Camp in Dorset and told them: “Britain is going to continue with you until the end.

“We are not in it for a period, we are in it until we defeat Russia in Ukraine and send them home.”

He added: “We will keep with you, and from Britain’s point of view the message to Russia is we are not giving up and we are not going away.”

Speaking to a Ukrainian commander, he said: “I think your tactics are working alongside the bravery of your soldiers and it’s really showing the Russians. Keep doing it.”

Blackouts, air raids and reporting by candlelight: The ‘new normal’ of The Kyiv Independent newsroom

Wednesday 22 February 2023 18:20 , Emily Atkinson

Olga Rudenko never thought her team of journalists would be reporting on a second year of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“In the first few months of the invasion I’d have been surprised if someone told me it would last a year or longer,” says the editor-in-chief of The Kyiv Independent.

“For a good chunk of time I believed it would end soon – just because of how horrible everything was that was happening. When you’re in the middle of all that, it’s too horrible and big to think it will happen for a long time.

“You think: ‘Surely the world will stop this’... But here we are.”

Editor-in-chief Olga Rudenko speaks to Rachel Sharp about the ‘new normal’ in the newsroom:

Blackouts, air raids, reporting by candlelight: The Kyiv Independent’s ‘new normal’

Russia says New START suspension won't bring nuclear war closer

Wednesday 22 February 2023 17:50 , Emily Atkinson

Russia has said its decision to suspend its participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the US did not increase the risk of nuclear war.

President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday he was freezing Russia’s participation in the treaty during a speech in which he also repeated accusations that the West was seeking to destroy Russia.

“I do not believe that the decision to suspend the New START Treaty brings us closer to nuclear war,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Finland and Sweden are heading into Nato ‘hand-in-hand’, says Finnish president

Wednesday 22 February 2023 17:20 , Emily Atkinson

Finland and Sweden are proceeding “hand-in-hand” towards Nato membership, but the decision to ratify the applications for the two Nordic countries lies with Turkey, Finnish president Sauli Niinisto has said.

“We proceed hand in hand in terms of the things that are in our own hands,” Niinisto said, but added: “Ratification is not in our hands.”

Niinisto was speaking at a joint news conference with the Swedish and Norwegian prime ministers at the Swedish government’s summer retreat outside Stockholm.

Finland would still proceed with joining the alliance once approved, even if Sweden’s application was held up, Niinisto said.

The Finnish president also said he would sign a Nato membership application bill when it is agreed by Finnish lawmakers, with a vote scheduled for 28 February

Once the parliaments of Nato’s 30 member states have ratified the application, Finland would become a member, even if Sweden’s accession was delayed.

“If Turkey and Hungary ratify Finland, we will be, as we have requested, members of Nato,” he said.

Eastern European countries 'jointly condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine’

Wednesday 22 February 2023 16:50 , Emily Atkinson

All members of the Bucharest Nine, the nations on Nato’s eastern flank that joined the alliance after being dominated by Moscow during the Cold War, have jointly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, a Polish presidential adviser said.

“All allies agreed that they would support each other in the event of a threat,” Marcin Przydacz, an adviser to Polish president Andrzej Duda told reporters.

“The next point of the declaration was the condemnation of the brutal, bloody war against Ukraine, which is being waged by Russia. All members of the Bucharest Nine signed these words.”

EU countries 'fail to agree new Russia sanctions’

Wednesday 22 February 2023 16:20 , Emily Atkinson

The EU has failed to reach a consensus on a new set of sanctions against Russia meant to be in place for the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, four diplomatic sources in the bloc’s hub Brussels said.

“There are several issues outstanding, including on rubber and reporting obligations of Russian assets in Europe,” one source told Reuters.

More talks among Brussels representatives of EU member countries were due on Thursday afternoon, said the sources.

The proposed package includes trade curbs worth more than 10 billion euros, according to the bloc’s chief executive.

Russia says it is studying Xi's global security initiative

Wednesday 22 February 2023 15:50 , Emily Atkinson

Russia has said it is studying a newly released paper on Beijing’s Global Security Initiative (GSI), Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s flagship security proposal.

“The positions of the two countries on the most pressing international issues coincide or are close, which the Russian and Chinese leadership has repeatedly spoken about,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharkova said in a briefing.

“The same can be said for the global security initiative,” she added.

China on Tuesday released the GSI paper, which aims to uphold the principle of “indivisible security”, a concept endorsed by Moscow.

G7 ‘to discuss Ukraine aid programme’ on Thursday

Wednesday 22 February 2023 15:20 , Emily Atkinson

The main topic at the G7 finance ministers’ meeting hosted by Japan tomorrow will be financial support to Ukraine, according to German finance ministry sources.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva will give an update on the planned aid programme at the meeting, which the sources said has been discussed intensely.

The IMF aims to adopt a new aid programme for Ukraine by the end of March.

The G7 finance ministers are expected to issue a joint statement after their talks.

Watch Live: United Nations mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine

Wednesday 22 February 2023 14:59 , Emily Atkinson

World journalism body suspends Russia's membership over Ukraine

Wednesday 22 February 2023 14:48 , Emily Atkinson

The International Federation of Journalists sayd it has suspended the membership of Russia’s main journalism trade union after it established branches in occupied regions of Ukraine.

“The IFJ is an organization built on international solidarity, on principles of cooperation between member unions and respect for the rights of all journalists.

“The Russian Union of Journalists’ actions in establishing four branches in the annexed Ukrainian territories have clearly shattered this solidarity and sown divisions among sister unions,” IFJ president Dominique Pradalie said in a statement.

The head of the Union of Russian Journalists told state news agency TASS that the move violated the IFJ’s charter and would hurt the world body financially because it would no longer receive substantial membership fees from Russia.

Russian lawmakers endorse suspension of nuclear pact with US

Wednesday 22 February 2023 14:30 , Eleanor Noyce

The lower house of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday quickly endorsed President Vladimir Putin‘s move to suspend the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States, with officials and lawmakers casting it as an eleventh-hour warning to Washington amid the tensions over Ukraine.

Putin declared that Moscow was suspending its participation in the 2010 New START treaty in his state-of-the-nation address Tuesday, saying that Russia can’t accept U.S. inspections of its nuclear sites under the pact while Washington and its NATO allies have openly declared the goal of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine.

The Russian president emphasized that Moscow was not withdrawing from the pact altogether, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said the country would respect the caps on nuclear weapons set under the treaty and keep notifying the U.S. about test launches of ballistic missiles.

Read more:

Russian lawmakers endorse suspension of nuclear pact with US

Spain plans to send six German tanks to Ukraine

Wednesday 22 February 2023 14:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Spain is to send six German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Defence minister Margarita Robles has announced.

Ms Robles confirmed that the battle tanks would be ready by late March or early April, adding that more may be sent in the future.

Elsewhere, the UK has sent 14 Challenger 2 tanks. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged the Government to send more.