Here is the situation as it stands on Friday, February 17, 2023:
Diplomacy and fighting
- The Munich Security Conference kicks off on Friday with an opening video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron will also be attending the summit.
- Echoing a pattern of heavy aerial bombardment at times of Ukrainian battlefield or diplomatic advances, Russia launched 32 missiles in the early hours of Thursday, Ukraine’s air force said. Half were shot down, it added, a lower rate than usual.
- Russia has usually carried out its biggest waves of air attacks in daylight, striking energy facilities, but Ukrainian officials suggest Moscow is starting to adapt its strategy, including using air balloons for reconnaissance.
- Russia and Ukraine exchanged 101 prisoners of war in their latest prisoner swap, authorities said.
- A top American trade official said that export controls on Russia have slowly reduced the supply of materials that it can use to rebuild its war machine.
- Israel will expand existing aid to Ukraine and help rebuild the country, foreign minister Eli Cohen said on Thursday during the first official Israeli visit to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion a year ago.
- NATO countries are ramping up production of artillery munitions as Ukraine is burning through shells much faster than the West can make them, the alliance said.
- European Union countries are “on good track” to adopt new sanctions against Russia in time for the February 24 one-year anniversary of its invasion, according to diplomatic sources.
- Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Russia had never asked Belarus to go to war in Ukraine, and he would only order his troops to fight alongside ally Russia if another country attacked Belarus, state-run Belta news agency reported.
- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Polish President Andrzej Duda agreed on Thursday on the importance of stepping up support to Ukraine in the coming weeks, Sunak’s office said.
- Billionaire financier George Soros said that if Russia was defeated in the Ukraine war it would result in the dissolution of what he called the “Russian empire”, something he said would be greeted positively by former Soviet republics.