Ukraine latest: Casualties in Donetsk mount as fight for Bakhmut continues

The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has passed a grim one-year milestone, with mounting military and civilian deaths.

As Russia steps up attacks around Bakhmut, Western nations have raised their military support for Ukraine to the highest level yet, with commitments to send main battle tanks.

Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Monday, March 13 (Tokyo time)

8:30 a.m. Both Ukraine and Russia report high casualties in the Donetsk region as the slow, long and bloody fight for the small town of Bakhmut continues. Ukrainian forces control the western part of the ruined and nearly deserted town, while Russia’s Wagner Group controls most of the east, British intelligence said, with the front line at the Bakhmutka River bisecting the town. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces had suffered more than 1,100 dead in the past few days fighting along the Bakhmut section of the front line. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had killed more than 220 Ukrainian service members over the past 24 hours.

Sunday, March 12

8:10 p.m. Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Russian representatives have not yet taken part in negotiations on extending the Black Sea grain deal. “There have been no negotiations on this subject, especially with the participation of Russian representatives,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. The next round of talks on extending the deal will be held in Geneva on March 13 between Russia’s delegation and top United Nations trade official Rebeca Grynspan, Zakharova said.

Saturday, March 11

12:15 a.m. Iran and Saudi Arabia will reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies within two months under an agreement mediated by China, according to a joint communique released Friday by all three sides.

The deal, signed after negotiations in Beijing, is the culmination of a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at mending ties severed in 2016.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, in a joint statement with China, affirm “respect for the sovereignty of states and the noninterference in internal affairs of states.” Read more.

Friday, March 10

4:30 p.m. Ukrainian forces defending the eastern town of Bakhmut continue to thwart Russian attempts to break through. The Ukrainian military says its soldiers repelled 102 attacks in past 24 hours in Bakhmut, a town which has been a key objective for Russian forces since August. However, as part of a massive wave of strikes on Ukraine on Thursday, Russia also fired six Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, which the Ukraine forces had no way of stopping.

7:00 a.m. A barrage of more than 80 Russian missiles and a smaller number of exploding drones hit residential buildings and critical infrastructure across Ukraine on Thursday, killing six people and leaving hundreds of thousands without heat or electricity. According to Ukraine’s chief commander of the armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, 34 missiles were intercepted, as were four drones.

Ukrainians shelter inside a Kyiv subway station during a Russian missile attack on March 9.

  © Reuters

Thursday, March 9

10:42 p.m. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine is reconnected to the country’s energy grid, grid operator Ukrenergo says. Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom had said earlier on Thursday that power to the Russian-occupied plant was lost during Russian airstrikes.

“This is the sixth time that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has lost all off-site power and has had to operate in this emergency mode,” Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, tells the agency’s board of directors. “This cannot go on. I am astonished by the complacency — yes, the complacency.”

Grossi urged the IAEA to commit to protecting the safety of the plant. “Each time we are rolling the dice,” he says. “And if we allow this to continue, time after time, then one day our luck will run out.”

4:30 p.m. Russian missiles knocked out the power supply to Europe’s largest nuclear plant during a barrage of strikes targeting cities across Ukraine. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces captured a year ago, was left depending on backup generators after the missiles damaged Ukrainian infrastructure that had been delivering electricity to the plant, Ukrainian state power company Energoatom said in a statement.

“The last link between the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and the Ukrainian power system was cut off,” Energoatom said. The fifth and sixth reactors have been shut down and electric power needed for the plant’s functioning is supplied by 18 diesel generators, which have enough fuel for 10 days, Energoatom added.

A Russian missile barrage on March 9 knocked out the power supply to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, seen here in this November 2022 photo. 

  © Reuters

12:30 p.m. Volleys of Russian missiles struck a series of Ukrainian regions early on Thursday, including the Black Sea port of Odesa and the second-largest city of Kharkiv, knocking out power to several areas, regional officials say. The governor of the Odesa region, Maksym Marchenko, said on Telegram that a mass missile attack had hit an energy facility in the port city, cutting power. Residential areas had also been hit, but no casualties were reported. Kharkiv region Gov. Oleh Synehubov said the city and region had been hit by 15 strikes, with targets including infrastructure. Other strikes were reported in the central city of Dnipro and regions throughout the country.

Ukraine’s military on March 8 said it had managed to push back intense Russian attacks on the city of Bakhmut despite a Russian claim of control over its eastern half.

  © Reuters

9:30 a.m. Ukraine’s military says it has managed to push back intense Russian attacks on the city of Bakhmut despite a Russian claim of control over its eastern half and the NATO chief’s warning that the city could fall in the next few days. As one of the bloodiest battles of the yearlong war ground on amid the ruins, Ukrainian defenders — who last week appeared to be preparing for a tactical retreat from Bakhmut — remained defiant on Wednesday. “The enemy continued its attacks and has shown no sign of a letup in storming the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Facebook. “Our defenders repelled attacks on Bakhmut and on surrounding communities.”

2:00 a.m. A defeat for besieged Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut would not necessarily mean that the war has turned in Russia’s favor, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says.

In and around Bakhmut, “what we see is that Russia is throwing in more troops, more forces — and what Russia lacks in quality, they try to make up in quantity,” Stoltenberg tells reporters in Stockholm.

“They have suffered big losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days,” he adds.

This would “not necessarily reflect any turning point of the war,” but rather “just highlights that we should not underestimate Russia,” Stoltenberg says.

The NATO secretary-general’s words echo those of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said earlier this week that he would not view it as “an operational or a strategic setback” if Ukrainian forces repositioned themselves west of Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he has told military leaders to reinforce defenses of the eastern city.

Ukrainian authorities have described the situation in and around Bakhmut as “hell” under a grinding Russian offensive.

  © Reuters

1:00 a.m. New intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests that a pro-Ukraine group — likely comprising Ukrainians or Russians — attacked the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September, but there are no firm conclusions, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. There was no evidence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or other Ukrainian government officials were behind the attacks, which spewed natural gas into the Baltic Sea, the newspaper reported, citing U.S. officials.

Wednesday, March 8

10:50 p.m. Ukraine’s president and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres call 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 Zelenskyy said after talks with Guterres in Kyiv that the Black Sea Grain Initiative was necessary for the world, and the U.N. chief underlined the importance of the deal to global food security and food prices.

6:26 p.m. The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group says his forces have taken full control of the eastern part of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the yearlong war. If the claim is true, it would mean Russian forces control nearly half the city in their costly push to secure their first big victory in several months.

5:27 p.m. Existing European funds will need to be prioritized for procuring ammunition for Ukraine before any decision on fresh funds can be expected, the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell says.

“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 says before a meeting with EU defense ministers in Stockholm.

3:48 p.m. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius warns against premature accusations on Wednesday after a media report says intelligence reviewed by U.S. 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,” Pistorius tells public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview. “The likelihood for one or the other is equally high,” he adds.

12:35 a.m. New intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Europe, but there was no evidence of Kyiv government involvement in the September 2022 attack, reports The New York Times.

Tuesday, March 7

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang at a news conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on March 7.

  © Reuters

1:30 p.m. China must advance its relations with Russia as the world becomes more turbulent, Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters at an annual parliamentary session in Beijing, Qin said the close interactions between both leaders — President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin — provided the anchor for China-Russia relations. Asked whether it is possible that China and Russia would abandon the dollar and euro for bilateral trade, Qin said that countries should use whatever currency is efficient, safe and credible. “Currencies should not be the trump card for unilateral sanctions, still less a disguise for bullying or coercion,” he said.

7:00 a.m. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vows not to retreat from Bakhmut after Russian forces encroached on the devastated eastern city they have been trying to capture for six months at the cost of thousands of lives. Days ago, a Zelenskyy adviser said the defenders might give up on Bakhmut. But Zelenskyy on Monday chaired a meeting in which top military brass “spoke in favor of continuing the defense operation and further strengthening our positions in Bakhmut.” In his nightly video address, the president reported that his advisers unanimously agreed “not to retreat” and to bolster Ukrainian defenses.

2:00 a.m. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has visited the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, where some of the bloodiest fighting took place after last year’s invasion.

Photos released by the Ministry of Defense show Shoigu touring a new medical center and being briefed on housing and school construction. Earlier, he visited Russian troops on the front line in Donetsk, according to the ministry.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, front right, visits Mariupol in this handout image released on March 6. (Russian Defense Ministry via Reuters)

12:30 a.m. Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for treason and “conspiracy to seize power” in connection with her unsuccessful 2020 bid for the presidency against Alexander Lukashenko, who has held the office for nearly three decades.

Tsikhanouskaya, now in Lithuania, claimed she lost that vote because of election fraud. Authorities later accused her of trying to stage an unconstitutional seizure of power, a charge she says was retaliation for her pro-democracy campaign. She was convicted in absentia after fleeing to Lithuania.

Her husband is serving an 18-year prison term for what authorities say was organizing mass unrest but what she calls political revenge. Civil society activists, lawyers, rights groups and independent media face government harassment and pressure in Belarus, according to Human Rights Watch.


Monday, March 6

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner Group, shown in this undated video, warned Russia’s position near Bakhmut could collapse without ammunition. (Concord Press Service via Reuters)

1:30 p.m. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, warns that Russia’s position around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was in peril unless his troops got ammunition, the latest sign of tension between the Kremlin and the private militia chief. Prigozhin said Russia’s front lines near Bakhmut could collapse if his forces did not receive the ammunition promised by Moscow in February. In his press service Telegram channel, the Wagner chief said, “For now, we are trying to figure out the reason: is it just ordinary bureaucracy or a betrayal,” referring to the absence of ammunition. Ukrainian military officials and analysts also reported leaders of Russia’s 155th Brigade fighting near the town of Vuhledar, south of Bakhmut, were resisting orders to attack after sustaining severe losses in attempts to capture it.

1:00 p.m. Russia is working on easing visa procedures for six countries, including India, Syria and Indonesia, the state TASS news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Evgeny Ivanov as saying on Sunday. “In addition to India (procedures simplification) … is being worked out with Angola, Vietnam, Indonesia, Syria and Philippines,” Ivanov said. Earlier, Ivanov said Russia is also preparing intergovernmental agreements on visa-free trips with 11 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Barbados, Haiti, Zambia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico and Trinidad, TASS reported.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the White House in Washington on March 3 during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

  © AP

9:30 a.m. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there would be “consequences” if China sent weapons to Russia for Moscow’s war in Ukraine, but he is fairly optimistic that Beijing will refrain from doing so. Scholz’s comments came in an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday, two days after he met U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington. Asked by CNN if he could imagine sanctioning China if it aided Russia, Scholz replied: “I think it would have consequences, but we are now in a stage where we are making clear that this should not happen. And I’m relatively optimistic that we will be successful with our request in this case, but we will have to look at [it] and we have to be very, very cautious.”

Sunday, March 5

11:20 p.m. Turkey is working hard to extend a U.N.-backed initiative that has let Ukraine export grain from ports blockaded by Russia following its invasion, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says in a speech at the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Qatar.

The agreement brokered last July will expire on March 18 without an extension, but Russia has said it would agree only if its own agricultural producers are taken into account. Russia’s agricultural exports have not been explicitly targeted by Western sanctions, but Moscow says restrictions on its payments, logistics and insurance industries are a “barrier” to exporting its own grains and fertilizers.

After a seven-month onslaught of Bakhmut, Russia is pounding the last routes in and out of the Ukrainian city.

  © Reuters

1:00 a.m. Kyiv’s troops help civilians flee Bakhmut, in a move some Western analysts see as preparations for a possible Ukrainian withdrawal from the eastern city under heavy assault from Russian forces. A woman is killed and two men are badly wounded by shelling while trying to cross a makeshift bridge out of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military says. A Ukrainian army representative tells The Associated Press that it was now too dangerous for civilians to leave the city in Donetsk province by vehicle and that people had to flee on foot instead.

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Saturday, March 4

11:45 p.m. North Korea, which has been a staunch supporter of Moscow since it launched its invasion of Ukraine, calls for an international investigation into blasts that damaged Russia’s undersea Nord Stream gas pipelines last year. Moscow says, without providing evidence, the West was behind the blasts that damaged the pipelines in September and has called for an international investigation. Western officials have denied those accusations.

In a North Korean state news agency KCNA article, international affairs critic An Chol Hyok calls for an impartial investigation, saying the world needs to be aware of the “vicious coerciveness, war and conspiracy maneuvers of the United States.”

9:00 a.m. Russian artillery pounds the last routes out of Bakhmut, aiming to completely encircle the besieged Ukrainian city and score Moscow’s first major victory in half a year in the bloodiest fighting of the war. The head of Russia’s Wagner private army said the city, blasted to ruins during a more than seven-month onslaught, was almost completely surrounded with only one road still open for Ukraine’s troops. Reuters observed intense Russian shelling of routes leading west out of Bakhmut, an apparent attempt to block Ukrainian forces’ access in and out of the city. A bridge in the adjacent town of Khromove was damaged by Russian tank shelling.

Unfinished 155mm artillery shells are piled up at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in the U.S.

  © Reuters

3:12 a.m. The U.S. announces a new military aid package for Ukraine worth up to $400 million that for the first time will include mobile bridges to move tanks and armored vehicles.

The bridges, known as armored vehicle launched bridges, will accompany demolition munitions and equipment used for clearing obstacles, the U.S. Department of Defense says, in what analysts see as support for offensive operations.

“Assault bridging … allows armored vehicles to cross narrow rivers and ditches that would otherwise cause a whole force to slow down,” Jack Watling, a senior research fellow for land warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, tells Reuters. “Importantly, assault bridges are only critical for offensive operations, showing that the U.S. is preparing Ukraine to continue retaking its territory.”

The new aid will also provide much-needed 155-millimeter and other artillery rounds, which Ukraine has sought, as well as additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Russian mercenary force Wagner Group, said in a video published March 3 that the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was “practically surrounded.” (Press service of “Concord”/Handout via Reuters)

Friday, March 3

6:00 p.m. Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, said in a video published on Friday that the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was “practically surrounded” by his forces and that Kyiv’s forces had only one road left out. Prigozhin’s men have spearheaded the assault in eastern Ukraine for months with Moscow regarding Bakhmut, which it calls by its Soviet-era name of Artyomovsk, as a useful steppingstone to seize bigger cities like Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. Prigozhin called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to withdraw his forces from the small city. “Units of the private military company Wagner have practically surrounded Bakhmut. Only one road is left (open to Ukrainian forces) The pincers are getting tighter,” said Prigozhin.

5:00 p.m. Foreign ministers from the Quad grouping of the U.S., Japan, India and Australia declare that threats to use nuclear weapons are “inadmissible” while discussing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar hosted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and their Japanese and Australian counterparts, Yoshimasa Hayashi and Penny Wong, for a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue meeting in New Delhi. The huddle came the morning after talks among Group of 20 foreign ministers ended without a joint communique due to differences concerning the Ukraine war.

10:50 a.m. Ukrainian forces clinging to the eastern city of Bakhmut dug new trenches in an attempt to hold back Russian attackers, as the United States said new military aid for Ukraine would be discussed at a meeting with Germany’s leader on Friday. “In the past 24 hours, our forces have repelled more than 170 attacks, an unprecedented number over a 24-hour period, for the five principal sectors of the front line,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said on YouTube on Thursday night. Zhdanov described Russians trying to encircle Bakhmut from the north, east and south, and he said that on western approaches to the city, “This is probably the only part of the Bakhmut sector where our forces, rather than the Russian occupiers, have the initiative.”

Thursday, March 2

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a brief encounter at the Group of 20 foreign ministers’ meeting  in New Delhi on March 2.

  © AP

11:00 p.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a brief encounter on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting during which Blinken urged Moscow to reverse its decision on the New START nuclear treaty, a senior U.S. official says.

The was the first meeting between the two top diplomats since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

Blinken also told Lavrov that Washington was prepared to support Ukraine to defend itself for as long as it takes, the official says, noting that the two spoke for less than 10 minutes.

For the second G-20 event in a row, after a finance ministers meeting last week, India could only issue a “chair’s summary and outcome document” rather than the traditional joint communique.

“There is a chair’s summary because there were differences on the Ukraine issue which we could not reconcile between various parties who held differing positions,” Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar says.

Many had been expecting fireworks as the meeting brought Lavrov into the same room with Blinken, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and other critics of the Ukraine war. Lavrov accused “some Western delegations” of turning the G-20 agenda “into a farce” to shift blame for their “economic failures,” according to Russia’s state news agency TASS. Read more.

4:10 p.m. A Russian missile hits a five-story building in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, killing three and wounding at least four, Ukraine’s police say. Eleven people have been rescued from the part of the building that collapsed, the state emergencies service says in a statement.

Eleven people have been rescued from the collapsed part of a building that was hit by a Russian missile in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.

2:30 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls on G-20 foreign ministers to find common ground on global issues as he inaugurates a meeting set to be dominated by Russia’s yearlong war in Ukraine. India, which holds the presidency of the bloc this year, has declined to blame Russia for the war and has sought a diplomatic solution while sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil. “You are meeting at a time of deep global divisions,” Modi said in a video message as the talks began. “We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can.”

Buildings damaged by a Russian military strike in the frontline city of Bakhmut, Ukraine on Feb. 27.

  © Reuters

10:00 a.m. Ukrainian forces hung onto their positions in the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut early on Thursday, under constant attack from Russian troops amid signs that time might be running out. Russia says seizing Bakhmut would open the way to full control over the rest of the strategic Donbas industrial region. Ukraine says Bakhmut has limited strategic value but has nevertheless put up fierce resistance. Not everyone in Ukraine is convinced that defending Bakhmut can go on indefinitely. “From my standpoint, it is not logical to defend Bakhmut at any cost,” Ukrainian member of parliament Serhiy Rakhmanin said on Ukrainian NV radio. “But for the moment, Bakhmut will be defended with several aims — firstly, to inflict as many Russian losses as possible and make Russia use its ammunition and resources.”

7:30 a.m. The U.S., U.K. and European Union have stepped up pressure on the United Arab Emirates to stop helping Russia evade Western sanctions through the export of critical goods, the Financial Times reports. The Western allies are particularly concerned about goods being routed through the UAE to sidestep restrictions in a practice known as “re-exporting.”

“Our main request [to the UAE] is that they stop the re-exports [and] acknowledge these re-exports are problematic,” the FT quotes a Western official as saying, adding that “conversations are continuing.”

Wednesday, March 1

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on March 1. This is his 13th visit to China, according to Chinese media. (BelTA/Pavel Orlovsky handout via Reuters)

10:00 p.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping hosts Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko at a summit where the leaders agree on “upgrading bilateral relations to an all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency reports.

Lukashenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been in power for nearly three decades, led a delegation to Beijing to sign a raft of agreements on economic and other cooperation. The two leaders also discussed the war in Ukraine.

According to China’s Foreign Ministry, Xi says the “core” of China’s position on Ukraine is to “promote peace and talks.” He rejects Cold War thinking, saying, “relevant countries should stop politicizing and instrumentalizing the world economy, and really do things that help to cease fire and war and resolve the crisis peacefully” — an apparent veiled jab at the Western-led effort to isolate Russia.

Lukashenko reportedly welcomes Xi’s proposal for mediation between Russia and Ukraine. That proposal, announced last week, says China is willing to play a constructive role but lacks specific measures.

According to Chinese media, this is Lukashenko’s 13th visit to China. The two leaders last met at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan in September.

Foreign ministers from around the world will meet on Thursday’s G-20 gathering in New Delhi.

6:39 p.m. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Wednesday, a day before attending the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting, according to officials from both sides. The two ministers discussed the Russia-Ukraine war and ironed out issues around the use of local currencies to settle trade deals, said a senior Russian official. Lavrov is scheduled to meet his Chinese, Bangladeshi and South African counterparts later on Wednesday, the official added.

3:55 p.m. The Russia-Ukraine conflict will be an important point of discussion when the foreign ministers from around the world meet during Thursday’s Group of 20 (G-20) gathering in New Delhi, India’s foreign secretary has said. Top diplomat Vinay Kwatra told reporters on Wednesday that it was equally important to focus on the impact of the Ukraine conflict on the world and the challenges it poses to developing countries.

2:30 a.m. President Vladimir Putin has signed a law suspending Russia’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the U.S. The law takes immediate effect.

Putin’s signature makes good on his vow during an annual address to the nation last week. The upper house of Russia’s legislature approved the necessary legislation a day after his speech.

Putin has said Moscow will not withdraw from the treaty, the only existing arms control pact between the U.S. and Russia. The two nations agreed in 2021 to a five-year extension, during which time a new arrangement was to be discussed. The U.S. and Russia together hold roughly 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said the country will continue to adhere to the treaty’s limits on deployed nuclear warheads even after suspending implementation of New START. The law allows the president to make a decision to resume implementation, Interfax reports.

1:30 a.m. Moscow’s governor says a drone crashed outside of the Russian capital in a failed attempt to target civilian infrastructure.

The crash occurred Tuesday about 100 kilometers southeast of Moscow in an area where natural gas facilities are located, according to Gov. Andrei Vorobyov, who says no one was hurt.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense accused Ukraine of two other attempted drone attacks on civilian infrastructure the same day in the southern regions of Krasnodar and Adygea. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for any drone strike within Russia’s borders.

A Ukrainian fighter near the town of Bakhmut, where the assault from Russian forces has become more intense.

  © Reuters

Tuesday, Feb. 28

4:30 p.m. The commander of Ukrainian ground forces Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi says that the situation around the besieged town of Bakhmut is “extremely tense.” “Despite significant losses, the enemy threw in the most prepared assault units of Wagner, who are trying to break through the defenses of our troops and surround the city,” Syrskyi was quoted as saying on the Telegram messaging platform.

12:30 p.m. Japan has decided to add 143 individuals and organizations linked to Russia to its list of sanctions over the country’s invasion of Ukraine, after the Group of Seven leaders pledged to levy further punishments on Moscow last week. The sanctions, including asset freezes and bans on exports by Japanese companies, target politicians, military officers, businesspeople and companies in Russia, among others. The Wagner Group, Russia’s private military company, is among them. Wagner has been designated as a “significant transnational criminal organization” by the United States, which alleges the military company is deploying about 50,000 personnel in Ukraine.

6:40 a.m. Western sanctions imposed on Russia during the Ukraine war have created an opening for Chinese-made autos and electronics to expand their market share in the country.

New data show that three Chinese auto makes — Chery, Great Wall and Geely — more than doubled their combined share of shrinking Russian vehicle sales last year. But the Russian auto market’s Chinese shift goes deeper than sales. Read more.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping before an Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September. (Sputnik via Reuters)

5:00 a.m. China may say otherwise, but the U.S. thinks Beijing has “clearly taken a side” in Russia’s war against Ukraine, State Department spokesman Ned Price tells reporters.

China “has told the world that essentially it is not taking a position, but rather it has tried to portray itself as an honest broker. In word and in deed, however, the PRC has been anything but an honest broker,” he says, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“Leaving aside the question of lethal assistance, which we don’t believe the PRC has provided yet, but we do believe it is considering … the PRC has already provided important forms of assistance to Russia, including in the context of its aggression against Ukraine,” Price says. “It’s provided Russia with diplomatic support, with political support, with economic support, with rhetorical support, including by parroting Russia’s dangerous propaganda, dangerous lies and disinformation on the world stage.”

Monday, Feb. 27

7:00 p.m. Two explosions at an air base in Belarus damaged a Russian early warning and control aircraft, independent Belarusian media report.

The blasts took place at the Machulishchy airfield outside of the Belarusian capital of Minsk and were carried out by anti-government partisans using drones, according to the reports. The reports could not be immediately confirmed, and neither Russian nor Belarusian authorities commented on them.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, right, has spelled out the realities of a nuclear apocalypse in comments to Russian newspaper Izvestia, claiming the West’s provision of arms to Ukraine is tipping the world towards such an outcome.

  © Reuters

5:00 p.m. Russia’s former president and an ally of President Vladimir Putin says that the West’s continued supply of arms to Kyiv risks a global nuclear catastrophe, reiterating his threat of nuclear war over Ukraine.

“Of course, the pumping in of weapons can continue …. and prevent any possibility of reviving negotiations,” Medvedev said in remarks published in daily newspaper Izvestia. “Our enemies are doing just that, not wanting to understand that their goals will certainly lead to a total fiasco. Loss for everyone. A collapse. Apocalypse. Where you forget for centuries about your former life, until the rubble ceases to emit radiation.”

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2:45 p.m. More than 100 heads of state and ministers will take part in the U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva starting on Monday, seeking to tackle issues ranging from Russia’s alleged war crimes in Ukraine to China’s treatment of its Muslim minority.

During the session, which runs until April 4, many states will seek to extend the mandate of a U.N. investigation body set up to probe atrocities in Ukraine. Kyiv, which has called for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russia’s political and military leadership over the invasion, has said the body was essential to ensure Russia is held accountable for its crimes.

Ukrainian service members ride on tanks near the frontline town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Feb. 21.

  © Reuters

10:30 a.m. The commander of Ukrainian ground forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi visited besieged Bakhmut to boost morale and talk strategy with units defending the town and surrounding villages in eastern Ukraine, the military says. Military analysts expect that Ukraine’s forces will put their “maximum effort” in coming days into defending Bakhmut.

Russia has made the capture of Bakhmut a priority in its strategy to take control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas industrial region. The 57-year-old commander, one of Ukraine’s most experienced, has been regarded as the mastermind behind the defeat of Russian forces as they advanced on Kyiv early in the war and in the Kharkiv region in September.

3:00 a.m. Russian online bank Tinkoff, run by TCS Group Holding, says it will suspend trading in euros from Monday following the imposition of a further set of European Union sanctions. The EU agreed to a 10th round of punitive measures late on Friday to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. The package includes cutting off more banks, among them Tinkoff and the private Alfa-Bank, from the SWIFT global payments system.

“Withdrawals in euros will be available. Euro trading will be suspended from Feb. 27, 2023,” Tinkoff said in a statement, adding that trading in other currencies would not be affected.

Sunday, Feb. 26

11:50 p.m. China has not moved toward providing lethal aid that would help Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and the United States has made clear behind closed doors that such a move would have serious consequences, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday. “Beijing will have to make its own decisions about how it proceeds, whether it provides military assistance, but if it goes down that road, it will come at real costs to China,” Sullivan said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” program. China has not moved forward in providing that aid, but neither has Beijing taken that option off the table, Sullivan said in a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to deliver his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow on Feb. 21.

  © Reuters

4:22 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says the West has “one goal: to disband the former Soviet Union and its fundamental part, the Russian Federation,” in a newly released interview recorded Wednesday with Rossiya 1 state television.

On Russia’s recent decision to suspend the New START arms control treaty, Putin says he had no choice but to take into account NATO’s nuclear capabilities. He says Russia will only resume discussion once French and British nuclear weapons are also taken into account, according to Reuters.

8:24 a.m. Ukraine plans no more outages to ration electricity if there are no new strikes, and it has been able to amass some power reserves, the nation’s energy minister says in remarks posted on the ministry’s Telegram messaging platform.

“Electricity restrictions will not be introduced, provided there are no strikes by the Russian Federation on infrastructure facilities,” Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko writes, Reuters reports.

Cadets of a military academy attend the funeral a mercenary for the private Russian military company Wagner Group who killed during the war in Ukraine.

  © Reuters

2:00 a.m. The European Union adopts a 10th round of sanctions against Russia and those that support Moscow’s war with Ukraine, including further export bans worth more than 11 billion euros ($11.6 billion),

The new sanctions are on 120 individuals and entities, including “Russian decision-makers, senior government officials and military leaders complicit in the war against Ukraine, as well as proxy authorities installed by Russia in the occupied territories in Ukraine, among others,” the European Commission says in a statement.

Two commanders of Wagner Group, a Russian private security company, whose forces were actively involved in the capture of the town of Soledar, Ukraine, in January, are among the sanctioned individuals.

Wagner Group troops have played a role in Russia’s ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine and have even vied with the Russian military for victories. But recent weeks have revealed tensions between the mercenaries and the military, with Wagner Group’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claiming his forces were being denied ammunition.

Wagner Group figures involved in conflicts in Africa are also targeted, as is the company’s public relations arm, The Foundation for the Defense of National Values.

The wide-ranging export restrictions include heavy trucks, snowmobiles, electric generators, binoculars, radars, compasses, complete industrial plants and aviation goods, such as turbojets.

12:50 a.m. Finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of 20 countries conclude a two-day meeting in India without a joint communique after China backed Russia against language concerning the war in Ukraine.

“There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions” against Russia, according to the outcome document issued by chair country India instead of the typical communique. This wording was similar to a declaration released at the G-20 leaders summit in Indonesia last year. Read more.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference in Kyiv on Feb. 24, the first anniversary of Russian invasion of his country.

  © Reuters

Saturday, Feb. 25

2:40 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he intends to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I plan to meet with Xi Jinping, and I think that would be useful to our countries and to global security,” Zelenskyy says, speaking through an interpreter at a news conference. The Ukrainian leader gives no indication of when such a meeting would take place.

The two countries have an interest in preserving economic relations, Zelenskyy says in response to a reporter who asked how Ukraine can keep geographically distant countries like China engaged.

“As far as I know, China respects territorial integrity, historic territorial integrity, which means that China needs to do its best to make sure that the Russian Federation withdraws from our territory because that is what respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty is,” Zelenskyy says.

1:40 a.m. Leaders from the Group of Seven major industrial nations urge countries not to provide assistance to Moscow on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, affirming a commitment to sanctions against Russia and assistance for Kyiv.

“We call on third countries or other international actors who seek to evade or undermine our measures to cease providing material support to Russia’s war, or face severe costs,” the bloc said in a statement.

While the G-7 did not name specific countries, the warning was likely a message to China, which is believed to be considering supplying arms to Moscow. Read more.

12:30 a.m. The latest U.S. sanctions targeting the Russian war machine include five Chinese companies chosen “for engaging in sanction evasion and backfill activities in support of Russia’s defense sector,” the White House says.

Of the roughly 90 newly sanctioned companies, 79 are based in Russia. Russian- and Chinese-affiliated companies operating in France, Canada and the Netherlands are also among the total.

Polish army soldiers atop their Leopard 2A4 tank after a live-firing exercise in Zagan, Poland.

  © Reuters

Friday, Feb. 24

11:45 p.m. Sweden will donate up to 10 Leopard 2 tanks and HAWK anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, its government says, in its latest tranche of military support to help Kyiv push back the Russian invasion.

“The Swedish tanks reinforce the Leopard 2 contribution that other European countries make. Coordination of support is ongoing with international partners donating Leopard 2 or other tanks,” the statement said.

11:04 p.m. Poland has delivered four Leopard tanks to Ukraine and is prepared to send more quickly, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says.

“Poland and Europe stand by your side. We will definitely not leave you. We will support Ukraine until complete victory over Russia,” Morawiecki said during a visit to Kyiv, standing next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Warsaw’s commitment to its neighbor has been instrumental in persuading European allies to donate heavy weapons to Ukraine including tanks, a move opposed by several governments including Berlin until recently.

11:00 p.m. Russia is in talks with a Chinese manufacturer to buy 100 drones for delivery in April, German magazine Der Spiegel reports, without citing specific sources.

Xian Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology reportedly said it was prepared to make 100 prototypes of its ZT-180 drone, which the magazine says can carry a 50-kilogram warhead. Russia has launched countless attacks on Ukraine using Iran’s Shaheed-136 drone, killing hundreds and damaging civilian infrastructure.

The U.S., Germany and other Western countries have warned China not to sell weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine, saying any such move would have severe consequences. “I have told China’s representatives that it cannot be accepted,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told ZDF public television on Thursday.

8:19 p.m. Japan is considering new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, in step with moves by other Group of Seven countries, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday. Speaking ahead of a call with other G-7 leaders and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, due later on Friday, Kishida said he would present new ideas for sanctions but did not give any details.

Britain on Friday announced a new package of Russian sanctions, including export bans on every item used by Russia in war, while the United States has said it is also preparing new measures. “Russia is refusing to change their hard-line stance,” Kishida told reporters at a news conference to mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Feb. 24 that as Russia refuses “to change its hard-line stance’ on Ukraine, Tokyo will join fellow G-7 members in increasing sanctions. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

7:30 p.m. The United States marked the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday by announcing new sanctions against Russia and its allies, new export controls and tariffs aimed at undermining Moscow’s ability to wage war. The U.S. joined with G-7 allies with plans to impose sanctions that will target 200 individuals and entities and a dozen Russian financial institutions. The sanctions are aimed at targets in Russia and “third-country actors” across Europe, Asia and the Middle East that are supporting Russia’s war effort, the White House said in a fact sheet.

6:15 p.m. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev says the only way for Moscow to ensure a lasting peace with Ukraine is to push back the borders of hostile states as far as possible, even if it means the frontiers of NATO member Poland. “Victory will be achieved. We all want it to happen as soon as possible. And that day will come,” said Medvedev in a message on his Telegram.

He predicted that tough negotiations with Ukraine and the West would follow that would culminate in “some kind of agreement.” But he said such a deal would lack what he called “fundamental agreements on real borders” and not amount to an overarching European security pact, making it vital for Russia to extend its own borders now.

“That is why it is so important to achieve all the goals of the special military operation. To push back the borders that threaten our country as far as possible, even if they are the borders of Poland,” said Medvedev.

6:00 p.m. Russia has to lose its war in Ukraine so it stops seeking to conquer territories it once controlled, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. “Russia must lose in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told a conference in Lithuania via videolink. “Russian revanchism must forever forget about Kyiv and Vilnius, about Chisinau and Warsaw, about our brothers in Latvia and Estonia, in Georgia and every other country that is now threatened.”

A Ukrainian soldier on patrol in Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Feb. 21. On Feb. 24, the Wagner mercenary group claimed to be in “full control” of Berkhivka, about 3 kilometers to the northwest.

  © Reuters

4:10 p.m. Russia’s Wagner group of mercenaries has taken full control of the Ukrainian village of Berkhivka, a village on the outskirts of Bakhmut, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin says. “Berkhivka is fully under our control. Units of Wagner Private Military Company are in full control of Berkhivka,” he said in a post on social media. Berkhivka is about 3 kilometers northwest of the suburbs of Bakhmut, a front-line city that has seen intense fighting.

2:30 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no direct mention of the Ukraine war in his address to G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors at the Nandi Hills resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru, as he inaugurated a G-20 meeting on Friday, the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, the leader urged global financial leaders to focus on the world’s “most vulnerable citizens.” New Delhi has maintained a neutral stance on the conflict, vastly increasing its purchases of cheaper Russian oil.

11:50 a.m. The war in Ukraine entered its second year with no end in sight and Russia isolated at the United Nations in a vote demanding its forces withdraw, while G-7 leaders are set to coordinate more support for Ukraine on Friday. At the U.N. General Assembly, which overwhelmingly adopted the resolution, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy dismissed the action as “useless.” Russia’s ally China abstained from the vote. On the battlefield, the Ukraine military reported increased Russian activity in the east and south as the anniversary approached, with at least 25 towns and villages in three northern regions along the Russian border under fire. Some U.S. and Western officials estimate Russia’s casualties at nearly 200,000 dead or wounded, while in November the top U.S. general said more than 100,000 troops on each side had been killed or wounded.

11:00 a.m. China says it wants to prevent the Ukraine crisis from getting out of control in a position paper released on Friday on the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “Dialogue [and] negotiation are the only viable ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis,” China said according to a paper on its position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis as released by the Foreign Ministry.

China’s fresh call for a cease-fire comes after it abstained from a U.N. vote demanding that Russia withdraw its forces.

U.N. General Assembly members voted in favor of a resolution to bring peace in Ukraine as soon as possible.

  © Reuters

5:43 a.m. The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approves a nonbinding resolution calling for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

Japan, the U.S. and the other Group of Seven members are among the 141 countries voting in favor. North Korea, Russia, Belarus, Syria and three other countries vote against the resolution, which The Associated Press reports was drafted by Ukraine in consultation with its allies. The 32 abstainers include China, India, Bangladesh, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

3:50 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will meet virtually Friday with other Group of Seven leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tells reporters. She says “sweeping sanctions” will be imposed on key revenue-generating sectors for Russia, with measures targeting more banks as well as the defense and technology industries.

New economic, energy and security assistance for Ukraine will also be announced, Jean-Pierre says.

Thursday, Feb. 23

9:00 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine “has been a strategic failure for the Kremlin,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says in India ahead of a two-day meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors.

The U.S. has provided over $46 billion in security, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Yellen says. In the coming months, Washington expects to provide another $10 billion worth of support, she adds.

Asked about China’s deepening ties with Russia, she says: “We have made clear that providing material support to Russia or assistance with any type of systemic sanctions evasion would be a very serious concern to us.”

Read  Ukraine latest: U.N. General Assembly calls for Russia to withdraw

“And we will certainly continue to make clear to the Chinese government and to companies and banks in their jurisdictions about what the rules are regarding our sanctions, and the serious consequences they would face in violating them.”

Read more for Yellen’s remarks on debt assistance for Sri Lanka and other countries.

6:02 a.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls the invasion “an affront to our collective conscience” that not only violates the U.N. charter and international law, but is also having “dramatic humanitarian and human rights consequences” and an impact “felt far beyond Ukraine.”

“The possible consequences of a spiraling conflict are a clear and present danger,” Guterres warns a General Assembly emergency special session. “Every day, we are reminded of the grave threat that haunts us all when irresponsible military activity continues around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest nuclear facility in Europe.”

The U.N.’s position “is unequivocal,” he says: “We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.”

4:15 a.m. What keeps Chinese President Xi Jinping up at night lately? A diplomatic source familiar with Sino-American diplomacy believes it is not the fallout from the spy balloon incident but the possibility that the U.S. might take a harder line on sanctions.

In a meeting between Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, and his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Germany, Blinken warned that there would be “implications and consequences” if China provides military support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion. That statement might mean more than meets the eye. Read the whole story in Nikkei Asia’s China Up Close this week.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

9:45 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping plans to visit Russia as their two nations’ relations reach “new frontiers.”

“We await a visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China to Russia, we have agreed on this,” Putin says at a meeting in Moscow with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi. Read more.

7:46 p.m. Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has voted quickly in favor of suspending Moscow’s participation in the New START treaty, rubber-stamping a decision that President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday when he accused the West of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine. Asked in what circumstances Russia would return to the deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Everything will depend on the position of the West … When there’s a willingness to take into account our concerns, then the situation will change.”

7:06 p.m. Pope Francis, speaking two days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has called for a cease-fire and peace negotiations, saying no victory could be “built on ruins.” Francis, who has appealed for an end to violence in Ukraine at nearly every public appearance since Russia’s invasion of the country last year, spoke at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

“It has been a year since the start of this absurd and cruel war, a sad anniversary,” he said. “The number of dead, wounded, refugees and displaced people, the (amount of) destruction and economic and social damage speak for themselves,” Francis said.

6:30 p.m. German exports to Russia plummeted 45% year-on-year to close to 15 billion euros ($16 billion) in 2022, its lowest level in two decades, as European Union sanctions targeted Moscow for the war in Ukraine and German companies ended their businesses in the country, the German Eastern Business Association said Tuesday.

“The disentanglement from the Russian market is progressing rapidly and will continue in 2023,” Michael Harms, managing director of the German Eastern Business Association, said at the group’s spring press conference in Berlin.

11:21 a.m. Russia urges U.N. states to vote against an “unbalanced and anti-Russian” move at the General Assembly by Ukraine and others to mark one year since Moscow invaded. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly is due to vote later this week on a draft resolution stressing “the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” Ukraine and its supporters hope to deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation by seeking approval of nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly to match — if not better — the support received for several resolutions last year.

Meanwhile, China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters on Tuesday that China would release a “position paper” on Ukraine likely within days that “will be mainly reflecting the consistent positions of China on this issue.” He said China would call for dialogue and a peaceful settlement. “We have never called it a peace plan,” Zhang said. “We will continue to emphasize respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. We emphasize that countries should accommodate the security concerns of each other.”

7:35 a.m. At least one Russian rocket slammed into a busy street in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, killing six people, officials say, as Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech marking one year of war in Ukraine. Military and city authorities said 12 others were wounded in the attack. The blast also damaged shops behind a bus stop, took down power cables, and shattered windows. “This time of day it’s very crowded here so there are probably many casualties,” Viktoria, a woman waiting for a bus who declined to give her last name, told Reuters.

6:00 a.m. Nikkei Asia’s Big Story this week looks at the nearly yearlong war through the eyes of Ukrainians like Marta Yuzkiv, an army surgeon.

“Combat medics face unusual challenges in the Donbas battles,” Marta says, referring to Ukraine’s eastern coal region. “Normal fighting lasts 30 or 40 minutes, an hour at most, and when interrupted we carry the casualties out, but the fighting in Donbas is almost endless.” Read more here.

U.S. President Joe Biden poses onstage with children holding flags after he delivered remarks outside the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 21. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

  © Reuters

2:40 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden rallies NATO allies in Poland after his surprise visit to Ukraine.

“One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden said at Warsaw’s Royal Castle. “I can report: Kyiv stands strong, Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall and, most important, it stands free.”

Biden also said the U.S. will host a NATO summit next year as the defense alliance turns 75 years old.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, during a news conference, thanks Biden for his visit to both Ukraine and Poland, saying it “sends a very powerful message of responsibility, which the United States of America carries constantly the responsibility for the security of Europe and the world.”

2:20 a.m. Russia will still abide by limits on how many nuclear warheads it can deploy under the New START arms control treaty, despite its decision to suspend participation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.

“In order to maintain a sufficient degree of predictability and stability in the sphere of nuclear missiles, Russia intends to adhere to a responsible approach and will continue to strictly observe the quantitative restrictions provided for by the New START treaty within the life cycle of the treaty,” the ministry says in a statement.

The ministry says Russia will continue to notify the U.S. of planned test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles under a 1988 agreement.

New START was signed in 2010 by the two countries, which together possess 90% or so of the world’s nuclear warheads.

Russian video footage released Feb. 15 reportedly shows the country’s Tu-95MC strategic bombers. (Russian Defense Ministry/handout via Reuters)

  © Reuters

Tuesday, Feb. 21

10:07 p.m. President Vladimir Putin says Russia will suspend its participation in the New START arms control treaty and warns that Moscow could resume nuclear tests. The treaty, signed in 2010, caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads the two countries can deploy. It was due to expire in 2026.

Putin says, without citing evidence, that some people in Washington were considering a resumption of nuclear testing. “Of course, we will not do this first,” he said. “But if the United States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.”

China, whose top diplomat Wang Yi arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, has cautioned against any nuclear escalation to the Ukraine war.

Speaking to reporters in Athens, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls Putin’s announcement “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.”

“We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,” Blinken adds, saying the U.S. remains “ready to talk about strategic arms limitations at any time with Russia irrespective of anything else going on in the world or in our relationship.”

6:50 p.m. President Vladimir Putin vows to continue with Russia’s yearlong war in Ukraine, accusing the U.S.-led NATO alliance of fanning the flames of the conflict in the mistaken belief that it can defeat Moscow in a global confrontation.

Flanked by four Russian tricolor flags, Putin tells Russia’s political and military elite that Russia will “carefully and consistently resolve the tasks facing us.” Putin says Russia has done everything to avoid war, but that Western-backed Ukraine had been planning to attack Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow on Feb. 21. (Sputnik/Pool via Reuters)

5:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has been a strategic failure, says U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “One year after President Putin attacked Ukraine it is clear that his war has been a strategic failure in every way,” Blinken told a joint news conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Athens.

3:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin will update the country’s elite on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, nearly one year to the day since ordering an invasion. Putin will focus on what he casts as the “special military operation” in Ukraine, give his analysis of the international situation and outline his vision of Russia’s development after the West slapped on the severest sanctions in recent history.

“At such a crucial and very complicated juncture in our development, our lives, everyone is waiting for a message in the hope of hearing an assessment of what is happening, an assessment of the special military operation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state television. The speech, to members of both houses of parliament and to military commanders and soldiers, is due to begin at 0900 GMT in central Moscow.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Feb. 21 voiced concern the Ukraine war could escalate and urged “certain countries to … stop fueling the fire.” 

  © Reuters

11:30 a.m. China is “deeply worried” about the escalation of the Ukraine conflict and the possibility of the situation spiraling out of control, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang says. Beijing, which last year struck a “no limits” partnership with Moscow, has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The United States has warned of consequences if China provides military support to Russia, which Beijing says it is not doing. “We urge certain countries to immediately stop fueling the fire,” Qin said during a speech.

7:30 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden landed in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Monday evening, Polish television footage shows, after making a surprise visit to Ukraine. Earlier in the day Biden walked around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on an unannounced visit, promising to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, on a trip timed to upstage the Kremlin ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

1:00 a.m. Russia’s economy contracted 2.1% last year, the federal statistics service said on Monday, compared with a 5.6% year-on-year rise in 2021, hurt by the fallout from Moscow’s decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine last February. Rosstat’s first gross domestic product (GDP) estimate for 2022 was a marked improvement on forecasts made soon after the conflict began. The economy ministry at one point predicted that Russia’s economy would shrink more than 12% last year, exceeding the falls in output seen after the Soviet Union collapsed and during the 1998 financial crisis.

12:30 a.m. President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv was “meticulously planned over a period of months, involving several officers in the White House,” Jon Finer, the U.S. principal deputy national security adviser, says during a press call.

Planning for operational security was conducted by only a few people each from the White House, Pentagon, National Security Council and other groups. “The president was fully briefed on each stage of the plan and any potential contingencies, and then made the final ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decision after a huddle in the Oval Office and by phone with some key members of his national security cabinet on Friday,” Finer says.

“We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv,” says Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser. “We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes.”

Biden had the opportunity for extended talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Sullivan says.

“They talked about Ukraine’s needs in terms of energy, infrastructure, economic support, humanitarian needs,” he says. “And they also talked about the political side of this, including the upcoming U.N. General Assembly session on Ukraine.”

Monday, Feb. 20

U.S. President Joe Biden visits St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Feb. 20.

  © Reuters

7:26 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden says during an unannounced visit to Kyiv that Washington will provide Ukraine with a new military aid package worth $500 million. Biden says the package details will be announced on Tuesday and that Washington will also provide more ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems in Ukraine’s possession. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has written on Telegram that Biden’s visit is an “extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians” and has posted a photo of the two leaders shaking hands.

7:10 p.m. China tells the United States to keep out of its relationship with Russia, just as Beijing’s top diplomat prepares for a visit to Moscow, and possibly a meeting with Vladimir Putin, to discuss ideas for peace in Ukraine. China is preparing to outline its position on a possible “political settlement” to the Ukraine war just as Washington and Beijing spar over the shooting down of spy balloons over the United States and amid U.S. claims China may supply weapons to Moscow.

7:04 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday, days before the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Read more.

1:00 p.m. Russia has charged 680 Ukrainian officials, including 118 members of the armed forces and defense ministry, with breaking laws governing the conduct of war, including the use of weapons against civilians, TASS news agency reports. According to the report, which quoted Russia’s chief public investigator, the Ukrainian officials were charged with the “use of prohibited means and methods of warfare,” referring to Article 356 of the Russian criminal code. Of the 680, 138 have been charged in absentia.

9:00 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview published on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron was wasting his time considering any sort of dialogue with Russia. Zelenskyy, interviewed by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, was responding to a suggestion by Macron that Russia should be “defeated but not crushed” and that the conflict in Ukraine would have to be settled by negotiations. The two presidents spoke by telephone on Sunday. “It will be a useless dialogue. In fact, Macron is wasting his time. I have come to the conclusion that we are not able to change the Russian attitude,” Zelenskyy told the Italian daily.

1:00 a.m. The Ukraine war will have cost the German economy around 160 billion euros ($171 billion) — or some 4% of its gross domestic output — in lost value creation by the end of the year, the head of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) says. That means GDP per capita in Europe’s largest economy will be 2,000 euros lower than it would otherwise have been, DIHK chief Peter Adrian told the “Rheinische Post.” Industry makes up a higher share of the economy in Germany than in many other countries, and the sector is for the most part energy-intensive, meaning German companies have been especially hard hit by a surge in energy prices, which last year hit record highs in Europe.

For earlier updates, click here.


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