The Russo-Ukrainian War at a Glance: What We Know as of Day 349 of the Invasion | Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said personnel changes at the border and on the front line will strengthen Ukraine’s military efforts amid uncertainty over the future of his defense minister. “We are strengthening our leadership positions,” Zelenskiy said in his Monday night speech. “In a number of regions, especially border or frontline ones, we will appoint leaders with military experience. Those who can prove most effective in defending against existing threats,” he said.
EU prepares for Zelenskiy’s possible visit to Brussels on Thursday meet bloc leaders and address parliament, officials said Monday. European Council chief Charles Michel has invited Zelenskiy to attend a “future summit” of the 27 EU countries, his spokesman said on Monday. Zelenskiy is invited “to participate in person” at a Brussels summit, the spokesperson said in a tweet, adding that for security reasons “no further information will be provided”.
Russia launched five missiles and 12 airstrikes as well as 36 bombardments over a 24-hour periodhitting southern targets such as Khersonthe General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement on Monday evening.
Ukrainian planes launched nine strikes on a concentration of Russian forces and two anti-aircraft positions, it said. Battlefield reports could not be immediately verified.
Weeks of intense fighting continued to rage around the town of Bakhmut and the neighboring towns of Soledar and Vuhledar, The presidential office of Ukraine said. Ukraine said Monday evening that Russian forces had trained tank, mortar and artillery fire in Bakhmut over the past 24 hours. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia was continuing to make small progress in its effort to encircle Bakhmut. “While several alternative supply routes across the country remain available to Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is increasingly isolated,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Russian forces are trying to link Ukrainian forces to the fighting in the eastern region of Donbass, Ukraine said. Moscow is reportedly gathering additional troops there for an expected offensive in the coming weeks, possibly targeting the Luhansk region. “The battles for the region are intensifying,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk. In Lugansk, fellow governor Serhiy Haidai said shelling had decreased because “the Russians saved ammunition for a full-scale offensive”.
The western area of the Luhansk region is likely to be at the center of any new Russian offensive, Kyrylo Budanov, said Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, who has been tipped to take charge of the defense ministry. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said the offensive would most likely be launched by “real mechanized brigades” rather than poorly trained reservists and Wagnerian mercenaries who have suffered heavy casualties in recent battles.
Ukraine has faced temperatures as low as -20C this winter, while coping with a humanitarian crisis as Russia strikes key civilian infrastructure. According to research, the Dnipro, Donetsk and Kharkiv regions are particularly vulnerable. Some areas are home to tens of thousands of displaced people over the winter, as crucial infrastructure – including energy and housing – is targeted by Russian missiles and artillery.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned that the world is heading for a “wider war” against Ukraine. Addressing the UN General Assembly weeks before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, António Guterres said: “The prospects for peace keep diminishing. The chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing.
Germany’s plan to quickly assemble two battalions of Leopard 2 tanks from European allies and send them to Ukraine is progressing more slowly than expected. Several states have yet to decide whether they can spare vehicles from their own inventory. In Europe, apart from Berlin, only Poland and Portugal have so far made concrete pledges to supply Leopard 2 tanks. Ukrainian soldiers are expected to start training on Leopard 2 tanks in Germany and Poland from from this week. “Germany’s commitment stands,” government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner said on Monday.
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand shared an image of the first Leopard tank donated by Canada arriving in Poland. “Alongside our allies, we will soon train the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the use of this equipment,” she tweeted.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has proposed that his country provide 75 billion Norwegian kroner (£6.1 billion) in aid to Ukraine over five years. Half of the aid in 2023 will fund Kyiv’s military needs while the rest will go to humanitarian needs, though that split may change in coming years, he said. The announcement comes after Støre’s government came under pressure to increase support for Ukraine, after earning billions more in oil and gas revenue from wartime Russia.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will not meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow this week, says the Kremlin. Grossi is expected to meet with officials from Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom and the Foreign Ministry, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow expected a “substantive dialogue”.
Russia’s oil and gas revenues fell 46% in January, compared to the same month in 2022, under the impact of the price cap on oil exports imposed by Western allies during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s Finance Ministry said January’s budget revenue was 35% lower than the same month in 2022, the last month before Russia sends troops to Ukraine.
Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report