Here is the situation on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.
- Vadym Filashkin, the governor of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, said Russia was firing between 1,500 and 2,500 shells and rockets at the area every day and targeting critical infrastructure. Filashkin told the Reuters news agency that Russia had dropped 200 guided aerial bombs on the front-line town of Avdiivka over the past month and was “totally destroying it”.
- Separately, Vitalii Barabash, the head of Avdiivka’s military administration, said the situation there was “very difficult and in some places, critical”. About 32,000 people lived in the town, the site of Europe’s largest coking plant, before the war. Fewer than 1,000 remain, according to officials.
- A two-month-old baby boy was killed and his mother injured after two Russian S-300 missiles hit Zolochiv in northeastern Ukraine, according to Kharkiv regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov. The village is 20km (12.4 miles) from Ukraine’s border with Russia. Two other people were injured in the attack, which also damaged dozens of buildings.
- Ukraine said a special forces unit blew up a drilling platform in the Black Sea that Russia was using to enhance the range of its drones. Equipment on the platform was used for drones involved in attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and to control the northwestern part of the sea.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry said it thwarted an alleged attack by seven Ukrainian drones on the Belgorod region. There were no reports of casualties. Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region’s governor, said four homes were damaged.
Politics and diplomacy
- The United States and Russia traded accusations at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Ukraine called by Moscow. The US accused Russia of firing at least nine North Korean-supplied missiles at Ukraine and urged UNSC members to hold the two countries accountable for breaching UN sanctions on Pyongyang. Moscow, meanwhile, accused Washington of being a “direct accomplice” in last month’s crash of a Russian military transport plane in the Belgorod region. Moscow has claimed Kyiv shot down the plane. Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement and has called for an international investigation.
- US President Joe Biden said Congress would play into the Kremlin’s hands if it failed to pass a $118bn bill tying Ukraine aid to immigration curbs demanded by right-wing Republicans. Biden said the “clock is ticking” for Ukraine and criticised former President and likely 2024 rival Donald Trump for discouraging lawmakers from passing the legislation.
- European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Kyiv on a trip to underline the EU’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine.
- Rafael Grossi, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko and other officials in Kyiv ahead of his visit to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Wednesday. Grossi noted that the number of staff at the plant had dropped from 12,000 to as few as 2,000.
- A Moscow court ordered the arrest of bestselling Russian language writer Boris Akunin for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about the Russian army. The 67-year-old was charged in December last year after he expressed support for Kyiv in a phone call with Russian pranksters posing as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Akunin has lived overseas since 2014.
- Ukraine said it had arrested five former and current intelligence officers it said were secretly working for Russia. The SBU said the suspects were caught passing information to Russia’s FSB security service about Ukrainian military sites, its defensive fortifications, personal data and strategic energy facilities.
- Norway rejected an asylum application from Andrei Medvedev who claimed to have deserted the Russian mercenary group Wagner after fighting in Ukraine for four months. The 27-year-old sought asylum after fleeing to Norway in January 2023.
- A senior official with Ukraine’s intelligence agency was fired after revelations that investigative journalists including at outlet Bihus.info, had been wiretapped, a source at the agency told the AFP news agency.
- Zelenskyy ordered the creation of a separate branch of Ukraine’s Armed Forces devoted to drone warfare. In December, he said Ukraine would produce a million drones in 2024.
- Turkish defence company Baykar has started building a factory near Kyiv to make either its TB2 or TB3 drone models, chief executive Haluk Bayraktar told the Reuters news agency.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies