Here is the situation on Wednesday, January 24, 2024.
- At least 18 people were killed and more than 130 injured after Russia targeted Ukraine’s major cities in a wave of missile strikes, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. Russia launched nearly 40 missiles of different types in “another combined strike to try to circumvent our air defence system”, he said in a sombre evening address warning the death toll could rise. Eight people were killed in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, which was hit by three waves of attacks. Dozens of Kyiv residents were also injured after Russian missiles hit apartment blocks in the capital.
- Celeste Wallander, an assistant secretary of defence at the United States Pentagon, said the Russian missile and drone attacks were part of an attempt by Moscow to find weaknesses in Ukraine’s military while additional US funding for security assistance is tied up in Congress.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry claimed its air assault on Ukraine targeted companies producing weapons, missiles and ammunition and had been successful. Asked by reporters about the raids and civilian casualties, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military “does not hit social facilities and residential neighbourhoods and does not hit civilians”.
Politics and diplomacy
- Turkey’s parliament voted 287-55 to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership after more than a year of delays that frustrated Western efforts to show resolve in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the Turkish move and said he was counting on Hungary to “complete its national ratification as soon as possible”. Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said earlier he had invited his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson to Budapest to “negotiate” the accession deal.
- Russia rejected allegations that it had forcibly deported Ukrainian children to Russia. Ukraine has said that 20,000 children have been forced to move to Russia since the war erupted in February 2022. The International Criminal Court last year issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s commissioner over the transfers.
- The US Central Intelligence Agency released a Russian-language video to try and persuade Russian intelligence employees to switch sides and work as double agents for Washington, amid perceived disaffection over the war in Ukraine.
- The documentary 20 Days in Mariupol was nominated for an Oscar. The film recounts the Russian siege and brutal capture of the Ukrainian port city in 2022.
- NATO signed a 1.1 billion euro ($1.2bn) deal to buy 220,000 rounds of 155mm artillery shells for Ukraine. The shells are not expected to arrive in the country for two to three years.
- Coordinated raids in five European countries led to the arrest of three people in the Netherlands suspected of breaking sanctions to export technological and lab equipment to Russia that could have military uses, EU judicial agency Eurojust said.
- US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin opened a monthly meeting of about 50 nations that coordinate support for Ukraine against Russia, but did not announce any new US aid for Kyiv. Funding has been blocked by Republicans who want more action on US border issues. Austin joined the meeting from home where he is recovering from surgery for prostate cancer.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies