Ukraine has released extraordinary video footage that appears to show Russian fighters dragging their badly wounded commander away from the battlefield, and then beating him violently with what appear to be shovels. A Ukrainian drone captured the incident near the eastern city of Bakhmut, where intense fighting has been raging for months.
Russia almost certainly now lacks the munitions and manoeuvre units required for successful offensives, the UK Ministry of Defence says. Moscow will continue to demand sweeping advances, but it remains unlikely that Russia can build up the forces needed to substantially affect the outcome of the war in the coming weeks, according to the MoD’s latest intelligence update.
Ukraine’s parliament has approved the appointment of Ihor Klymenko as the country’s new interior affairs minister and Vasily Malyuk as the new head of the country’s security services, known as the SBU. Klymenko, formerly Ukraine’s national police chief, was serving as acting interior minister after the former minister, Denis Monastyrsky, was killed last month in a helicopter crash on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said personnel changes on the border and frontline will bolster Ukraine’s military efforts amid uncertainty over the future of his defence minister. “We are bolstering our managerial positions,” Zelenskiy said in his Monday evening address. “In a number of regions, particularly those on the border or on the frontline, we will appoint leaders with military experience. Those who can show themselves to be the most effective in defending against existing threats,” he said.
Recriminations have broken out among EU officials after a possible visit by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to Brussels was leaked, raising concerns over his security. Zelenskiy was reported to be planning a trip to Brussels this Thursday to meet EU leaders in person at a summit and address the European parliament in an extraordinary session. The European Council chief, Charles Michel, has invited Zelenskiy to take part in a “future summit” of the 27 EU nations, his spokesperson said Monday.
Loud explosions have been reported in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, according to Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the exiled city’s mayor. “Five loud explosions in a row in the Prymorskyi district of Mariupol. Our people report that they rang out in the seaport area,” he posted to social media.
Ukraine’s top national security official, Oleksiy Danilov, has said he is confident that his country will eventually receive American-made F-16 fighter jets. It was “only a matter of time” before Kyiv gets the F-16s, Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, told CNN. He also suggested Ukraine may be capable of striking Russian on its own territory, beyond occupied Ukraine.
Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has warned that western arms supplies to Ukraine are effectively “dragging” Nato into the conflict and that could lead to an “unpredictable level of escalation”. In remarks during a conference call with military officials, quoted by state-owned Tass news agency, Shoigu accused the US and its allies of “trying to prolong the conflict as much as possible” by supplying Kyiv with what he described as “heavy offensive weapons”.
Weeks of intense fighting continued to rage around the city of Bakhmut and the nearby towns of Soledar and Vuhledar, Ukraine’s presidential office said. Ukraine said on Monday evening that Russian forces had trained tank, mortar and artillery fire in Bakhmut in the past 24 hours. The UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russia was continuing to make small advances in its efforts to encircle Bakhmut. “While multiple alternative cross-country supply routes remain available to Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is increasingly isolated,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Russian forces are attempting to tie down Ukrainian forces with fighting in the eastern Donbas region, Ukraine has said. Moscow is reportedly assembling additional troops there for an expected offensive in the coming weeks, perhaps targeting the Luhansk region. “The battles for the region are heating up,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk. In Luhansk, fellow governor Serhiy Haidai said shelling there had subsided because “the Russians have been saving ammunition for a large-scale offensive”.
The western area of the Luhansk region is likely to be the focus of any new Russian offensive, Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, who has been tipped to take over the Ministry of Defence, has said. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said that offensive would most likely be launched by “proper mechanised brigades” rather than the ill-trained reservists and Wagner mercenaries who have been suffering heavy casualties in recent battles.
Andrei Kostin, the chief executive of VTB, Russia’s second largest bank, has blamed sanctions for its entire 2022 losses, acknowledging how western sanctions have crippled parts of Russia’s financial sector. Kostin, in an interview with state television channel Rossiya 24, said the bank had managed to grow its retail and corporate loan portfolios, but that sanctions accounted for all the lender’s losses.
Ukraine had withdrawn from its libraries 19m copies of books by last November that came either from the Soviet era or were in Russian, a senior lawmaker has said. After Russia moved to annex Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Kyiv increasingly restricted the use of Russian books. The process of the so-called “de-russification” sped up when Russia invaded the country nearly a year ago.
Russia launched five missile and 12 air attacks as well as 36 shelling incidents over a 24-hour period, hitting southern targets such as Kherson, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a Monday evening statement.
Ukrainian aircraft have launched nine strikes on a concentration of Russian forces and two anti-aircraft positions, it said. Battleground reports could not be immediately verified.
A plan for Volodymyr Zelenskiy to give a speech via video link during the last night of Italy’s Sanremo song festival has been scrapped due to political controversy over his participation. Italian politicians from across the spectrum said the Ukrainian president’s appearance was inappropriate for the popular annual music competition, which is televised by the state broadcaster Rai.
Ukraine has faced temperatures as low as -20C this winter, at the same time as dealing with a humanitarian crisis as Russia hits key civilian infrastructure. Areas in Dnipro, Donetsk and Kharkiv are particularly vulnerable, according to research. Some areas are housing tens of thousands of displaced people through the winter, at the same time as crucial infrastructure – including energy and housing – is being targeted by Russian missiles and artillery.
The UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, has warned the world is walking into a “wider war” over Ukraine. Addressing the UN general assembly just weeks before the first anniversary of Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, 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 slower than expected. Several states have yet to decide whether they can spare vehicles from their own stocks. In Europe, other than Berlin, only Poland and Portugal have so far made concrete promises to contribute Leopard 2 tanks. Ukrainian soldiers are supposed to start being trained on Leopard 2 tanks in Germany and Poland from this week. “Germany’s commitment stands,” the government spokesperson Wolfgang Büchner said on Monday.
Canada’s defence minister, Anita Anand, shared an image of the first Canadian-donated Leopard tank arriving in Poland. “Alongside our allies, we’ll soon be training the armed forces of Ukraine in the use of this equipment,” she tweeted.
Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, has proposed his country should provide 75bn Norwegian kroner (£6.1 bn) in aid to Ukraine over five years. Half of the aid in 2023 will fund Kyiv’s military requirements while the rest will go to humanitarian needs, although this split could change in coming years, he said. The announcement comes after Støre’s government came under pressure to increase support for Ukraine, after earning billions in extra oil and gas revenue from Russia’s war.
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will not be meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow this week, the Kremlin has said. Grossi is expected to meet officials from the Russian state nuclear energy firm Rosatom and the foreign ministry, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow expected a “substantive dialogue”.
Russia’s oil and gas revenues plunged 46% in January, compared with the same month in 2022, under the impact of the price cap on oil exports imposed by western allies over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s finance ministry said budget revenue in January was 35% lower compared with the same month in 2022, the last month before Russia sent troops into Ukraine.
Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report
Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 349 of the invasion
Intense fighting continues in eastern city of Bakhmut; EU preparing for potential visit by Zelenskiy to Brussels on Thursday
Tobi Thomas is a data reporter at the Guardian. She is a former Scott Trust bursary recipient
Léonie Chao-Fong is a London-based reporter. Twitter @leonie_chaofong