Mon, 06 Feb 2023

The US has denied any involvement in drone attacks on Russian bases widely seen as having been perpetrated by Kyiv. Meanwhile, Ukraine scrambled to restore its battered power grid a day after key facilities were targeted in the latest wave of Russian missile strikes. Follow our blog to see how the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

This live blog is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage on the war in Ukraine, click here.

03:10am: Latvia revokes licence for exiled Russian TV channel

Latvia announced Tuesday it was revoking the licence for exiled Russian independent channel Dozhd, or TV Rain, for multiple violations that included showing the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russia.

The channel, which moved to Latvia after Russian authorities blocked its broadcasts for critical coverage of the war in Ukraine, dismissed the accusations as "unfair and absurd", saying that it would remain on YouTube.

The network, which was founded in 2010 as the main opposition channel in Russia, is also accused of supporting Russian soldiers, which the channel denies, and failing to ensure Latvian language translation, the LETA news agency reported.

12:00am: President Zelenskiy meets troops near eastern front

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited troops close to front lines in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday and expressed thanks to everyone involved in the war effort to mark the country's Armed Forces Day.

Addressing servicemen later in the presidential palace in Kyiv, Zelenskiy said he had spent the day with troops in Donbas, theatre of the heaviest battles, and in Kharkiv region, where Ukrainians have retaken swathes of occupied territory from Russian forces who invaded more than nine months ago.

10:02pm: US to sell $3.75 billion of tanks and other equipment to Poland

The US government on Tuesday announced the approval of a $3.75 billion sale of 116 Abrams tanks and other equipment to Poland.

"The proposed sale will improve Poland's capability to meet current and future threats by providing a credible force that is capable of deterring adversaries and participating in NATO operations," the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

The announcement comes more than nine months into the war in neighboring Ukraine, which spilled over the border last month when what is thought to have been a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile landed in Poland, killing two people.

8:20pm: US says 'not encouraging' Ukraine strikes into Russia

The United States said Tuesday it was "not encouraging" Ukraine to strike into Russia after drone attacks on bases widely seen as carried out by Kyiv.

"We are not enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders; we are not encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"Everything we are doing - everything the world is doing to support Ukraine - is in support of Ukraine's independence," he said.

8:04pm: UN sounds alarm on humanitarian impact of Ukraine infrastructure destruction

Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure have sparked "a new level of need" in the war-torn country, the UN aid chief said on Tuesday, warning that millions of people are without heat as temperatures drop.

Nearly half of Ukraine's energy system has been damaged after months of systematic Russian strikes on power infrastructure, with fresh attacks carried out on Monday.

"Since October, the sustained attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure have created a new level of need that impacts the whole country and exacerbates the needs caused by the war," Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told the UN Security Council.

5:55pm: Ukraine asks hospitals to temporarily suspend planned surgeries

Ukraine's health ministry said on Tuesday it was asking regional officials to consider suspending non-essential surgeries until the energy situation inside the country stabilises.

Eight waves of Russian air strikes on critical infrastructure in recent weeks have seriously damaged Ukraine's power grid and led to emergency and planned outages across the country.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said hospitals were continuing to provide emergency care but that planned surgeries should be temporarily suspended to ease the load on the medical system amid potential future blackouts.

5:10pm: Ukraine's foreign reserves hit $27.95 billion, topping pre-invasion level

The National Bank of Ukraine announced on Tuesday that the country had $27.95 billion in foreign reserves as of Dec. 1.

That figure topped the $27.42 billion in state coffers on the morning of Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the bank said in a statement. It also said its reserves had grown 10.7% in November.

5:02pm: Germany's Scholz sees new mood within EU on Western Balkans accession

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday he detected a new, more positive mood among European Union members on the prospect of Western Balkans countries joining the bloc compared to a few years ago, before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"I am quite sure that a new inclusive movement has arisen and that the scepticism that was formulated a few years ago by several member states has now mutated into a willingness to actively push this forward," Scholz told reporters after a summit on the potential accession of the six Balkan countries.

4:27pm: Drone strikes deep in Russia humiliate Moscow

Twin strikes on air bases deep inside Russian territory have dealt Moscow a major reputational blow and raised questions about why its defences failed, analysts said, as attention turned to the use of drones in the war between neighbours.

Ukrainian officials revelled in the blasts but declined to acknowledge Kyiv's role, after Russia said Ukraine used unmanned Soviet-era aerial vehicles to attack two military air bases in the Ryazan and Saratov areas of south-central Russia.

FRANCE 24's International Affairs Editor Philip Turle has more on the story below.

3:45pm: Russia considers setting oil price floor in response to G7

Russia is considering setting a price floor for its international oil sales as a response to a cap imposed by G7 nations, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.

Moscow is considering either imposing a fixed price for the nation's barrels, or stipulating maximum discounts to international benchmarks at which they can be sold, the report added, citing two officials familiar with the plan.

The G7 price cap on Russian seaborne oil came into force on Monday as the West tries to limit Moscow's ability to finance its war in Ukraine, but Russia has said it will not abide by the measure even if it has to cut production.

2:16pm: Hungary blocks 18 billion euro Ukraine aid package

Hungary on Tuesday blocked a mammoth EU aid package for Ukraine, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban seeks to pressure Brussels into handing him billions of euros in frozen funds.

Budapest made good on its threat to oppose 18 billion euros ($19 billion) of financial support for war-torn Ukraine at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels.

The much-needed aid for Kyiv is one of several initiatives Budapest is stalling as it faces having 13 billion euros in EU funds for it frozen by the bloc over its failures on stopping graft and ensuring judicial independence.

1:51pm: Russian-appointed mayor says six killed by Ukraine shelling in Donetsk city

The Russian-appointed mayor of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine said Tuesday that incoming fire from Kyiv's forces had killed at least six civilians in the city controlled by the Russian military.

"Preliminary data shows that, today six civilians were killed as a result of shelling in Donetsk, the number of wounded is being specified," Alexei Kulemzin, the Moscow-installed head of the city, said on social media.

11:53am: 'Absurd' to stoke fear of winter power cuts, says France's Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said it was "absurd" to stoke fear in France over the country's energy situation and reaffirmed France would get through this winter in spite of energy market tensions caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.

"The role of public authorities is not to spread fear nor to govern by fear," said Macron, as he arrived at a summit of European Union and Western Balkans leaders in Albania.

"We must not make people feel scared. We must stop all that," Macron also said. "We will get through this winter, despite the war," he added.

11:39am: Russian lawmaker says 60 soldiers to be freed in prisoner swap

Russia is set to receive 60 soldiers in a prisoner swap with Ukraine today, a lawmaker from Russia's ruling party said.

"The Russian Ministry of Defence is conducting another exchange of prisoners of war today. Sixty Russian servicemen are returning home," State Duma deputy Shamsail Saraliev wrote on Telegram.

11:30am: Ukraine's Zelensky visits troops near Donbas front line

President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited the frontline city of Sloviansk in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk, where Russian forces have been pressing an offensive for months, the presidency has said.

Zelensky appeared in a video on social media wearing a winter coat and standing next to large sign in Ukraine's blue and yellow colours bearing the city name Sloviansk and calling for a moment of silence to commemorate slain Ukrainian soldiers.

"From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate you on this great holiday, the Day of the Armed Forces," Zelensky said in the video.

Sloviansk, which was briefly held by Russian-backed separatists in 2014, lies some 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Bakhmut, which has become the centre of fighting since the fall of Kherson.

10:44am: Kremlin does not see prospect for peace talks

The Kremlin has said it agrees with the United States about the need for lasting peace in Ukraine but does not see the prospect of negotiations at the moment.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Monday that the conflict in Ukraine would end "almost certainly with diplomacy" and negotiations, and that "just and durable peace" was needed.

"That the outcome should be a just and durable peace - one can agree with this. But as for the prospects for some sort of negotiations, we do not see any at the moment," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

10:22am: Ukraine aims to significantly reduce power outages by Tuesday evening

Ukraine aims to significantly reduce the power deficit caused by the latest Russian air strikes by Tuesday evening, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said.

Missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday destroyed homes and knocked out power in some areas, but Ukrainian air defences limited the impact and the damage appeared less severe than the previous wave of air strikes on Nov. 23.

Galushchenko said power generation facilities and substations had been hit and signalled that the regions of Kyiv, Vinnytsia in west-central Ukraine and Odesa in the south had suffered the worst damage.

"We are now bringing the nuclear blocks (power stations) back into operation and the (power) deficit will be significantly reduced by evening," he told Ukrainian television.

10:12am: Russia sees 'positive dynamics' in talks on Zaporizhzhia safety zone, says TASS

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has spoken of "positive dynamics" in discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the creation of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the TASS news agency reports.

Moscow and Kyiv have repeatedly accused each other of threatening to trigger a nuclear catastrophe at the site, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war but is located near the front line.

Earlier this morning, Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian forces are taking "all measures" to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant in the face of what he called "nuclear terrorism" from Kyiv.

10:01am: Latvia licence withdrawal 'unfair and absurd', says exiled Russian TV channel

Russian exiled independent TV channel Dozhd said Tuesday that accusations against it were "unfair and absurd" after Latvia, where the outlet is now based, revoked its broadcasting license.

"The TV channel will stop broadcasting on cable but will remain on YouTube. We continue to work and believe all accusations against us to be unfair and absurd," Dozhd (Rain) said on Twitter after it was accused of showing the Crimea peninsula annexed from Ukraine as part of Russia, among other alleged violations.

06:54am: Ukraine races to restore power grid after Russian strikes

Ukraine is racing to restore power after Russia's latest wave of missile strikes caused disruptions across the country, right as winter frost builds and temperatures plunge.

Out of the 70 missiles launched by Moscow, "most" were shot down, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, but the barrage still hit Ukraine's already battered infrastructure.

Fresh power cuts were announced in all regions "due to the consequences of shelling," national electricity provider Ukrenergo said on Telegram.

The head of Ukrenergo said he had "no doubt that Russian military consulted with Russian power engineers during this attack", judging by where the missiles landed.

"The time that Russians chose for this attack was connected with their desire to inflict as much damage as possible," Volodymyr Kudrytskyi told a Ukrainian news programme, explaining that the attacks were launched as the country enters a "peak frost" period.

06:30am: 'Drone attack' strikes Russian airfield bordering Ukraine, says governor

A drone has attacked an airfield in Russia's Kursk region bordering Ukraine, the local governor has said, a day after Moscow blamed Ukraine for drone strikes at two Russian airfields.

"As a result of a drone attack in the area of the Kursk airfield, an oil storage tank caught fire. There were no casualties," governor Roman Starovoyt said on social media.

FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg has more from Kyiv.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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