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Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine has entered its most active phase, according to Ukraine’s defence ministry spokesperson, Oleksandr Motuzyanyk. Battles being fought in eastern Ukraine could determine the country’s fate, he added. “The situation on the (eastern) front is extremely difficult because the fate of this country is perhaps being decided (there) right now.”
Russian forces have taken control of three Donetsk region towns including Svitlodarsk, according to the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko. Earlier today, it was reported that Russian forces had entered Svitlodarsk and hung up a Russian flag over the city administration building.
The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region said the situation there “is only getting worse” as Russian troops advance.“The situation is very difficult and unfortunately it is only getting worse. It is getting worse with every day and even with every hour,” said governor Sergiy Gaidai. “They are simply eliminating Severodonetsk from the earth.”
The bodies of more than 200 people have been discovered in the rubble of a high-rise apartment building in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, according to a Ukrainian official. Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boychenko, said workers found the bodies while digging through a basement underneath the collapsed building.
Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russian forces after the three-month siege of the Azovstal steel plant are being held in “satisfactory” conditions, according to the unit commander’s wife, amid uncertainty over the fate of the prisoners. At least 1,000 Ukrainian fighters, including members of the Azov battalion, were transferred to Russian-held territory last week after the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol was taken by Russian forces.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said the Russian offensive in the Donbas is “the largest one on European soil since WWII”. He urged allies to “speed up deliveries of weapons and ammunition”. The UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russia has increased the intensity of its operations in the Donbas as it seeks to encircle Severodonetsk, Lyschansk, and Rubizhne in order to place the whole of Luhansk oblast under Russian occupation.
Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers found in formerly occupied towns in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war or for Ukrainian bodies. In Kharkiv, 60 bodies were retrieved and stacked in a refrigerated rail carriage, Reuters reports.
Ukrainian prosecutors have launched a war crimes investigation in Kharkiv’s Gorky Park which was hit by about 50 shells in three months of war. “Hitting civilian targets, civilian infrastructure, trying to kill civilians and destroy cultural heritage, are considered war crimes. An error can happen once or twice, but there are 56 hits recorded. It’s not an accident. They were targeting the park,” Ukrainian prosecutor Roman Petrenko said.
A new survey has found that 82% of Ukrainians believe that their country should not sign away any of its territories as part of a peace deal with Russia under any circumstances. Researchers at the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found that only 10% of respondents found it acceptable for Ukraine to concede territory to achieve peace.
Turkish officials will meet with Swedish and Finnish delegations in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss the Nato bids by the two Nordic countries. Finland’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, said his country and Sweden would send delegations to the Turkish capital to try to resolve its opposition to their applications for membership in the military alliance. Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed the meeting.
A Russian court has rejected an appeal from opposition leader Alexei Navalny against a nine-year prison sentence he is serving for large-scale fraud and contempt of court, charges which he denies. Navalny lambasted President Vladimir Putin during court hearing, casting him as a madman who had started a “stupid war” in Ukraine based on lies.
Russia’s foreign ministry has announced a ban on 154 members of the British parliament’s House of Lords on entering the country, in a tit-for-tat move for sanctions against Russian officials over Ukraine. It accused them of having “used their authority to whip up anti-Russian hysteria in the UK” and “pandered to the Russophobic political course of the British Conservative government”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to be the “beginning of the third world war” that could spell the end of civilisation, the veteran philanthropist and former financier George Soros has warned from the World Economic Forum in Davos. Soros added that autocratic regimes were in the ascendant and the global economy was heading for a depression.