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Nato and EU states ‘considering sending troops to Ukraine’

Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia (right), meets Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, in Paris for talks about Ukraine
Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia (right), meets Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, in Paris for talks about Ukraine - Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

The prime minister of Slovakia has claimed that Nato and EU member states are preparing to deploy troops to Ukraine.

Robert Fico, a pro-Russia populist, offered no details of how Western soldiers could be sent to assist Ukraine, and commentators said he was probably just trying to stir up trouble.

He was speaking ahead of a hastily-arranged meeting of European leaders in Paris because of what his advisers say is an escalation in Russian aggression over the past few weeks.

The meeting implies that “a number of Nato and EU member states are considering that they will send their troops to Ukraine on a bilateral basis”, Mr Fico told a televised briefing following a meeting of Slovakia’s security council.

“I cannot say for what purpose and what they should be doing there,” he said, adding that Slovakia, a member of the EU and Nato, would not be sending soldiers to Ukraine.

Mr Fico, who was elected last October, said the move could risk an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, but could not offer more information.

It was not clear whether he was referring to the prospect of Western troops being deployed to Ukraine while the war is still raging.

Nato allies have spent billions of pounds providing arms to Kyiv and are training Ukrainian forces in the West, but Western capitals have refused to consider boots on the ground to avoid entering a direct conflict with Russia.

However, this has not prevented planning for future training deployments to enhance Kyiv’s military after the war comes to an end.

Before he stood down, Ben Wallace, the former defence secretary, suggested Britain would station more troops in Ukraine than it ever had before.

The UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and other Western nations have long-term security agreements with Kyiv that raise the prospect of similar training missions.

Asked about the comments, Petr Fiala, the Czech prime minister said: “The Czech Republic certainly is not preparing to send any soldiers to Ukraine, nobody has to worry about that.”

Mr Fico was propelled to office on a promise to halt military aid to Ukraine and oppose Western sanctions on Russia.

The Slovak leader has since performed a U-turn on his central campaign pledge, and private arms exports continue to flow into Kyiv.

His rise to power in a country that neighbours Ukraine was one of the initial signs of a growing fatigue for the war in Eastern Europe.

Slovakia has also been considered a useful asset to the Kremlin as it seeks to make a show of the West’s dwindling support for Ukraine.

Mr Fico was among Western leaders attending talks in Paris on Monday night to send Vladimir Putin a message of European resolve on Ukraine and counter the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is bound to win a war now entering its third year.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, hosted the leaders of 17 EU countries, as well as ministers and officials from the UK, United States and Canada.

Mr Fico earlier said the meeting showed the West’s strategy on Ukraine had failed. He said he would to take part in a constructive spirit, although the material for discussions sent “shivers down his spine”.

In January, the Slovakian leader said there was “no war in Kyiv” and described life there as “absolutely normal”.

Following the meeting, Mr Macron announced that a new coalition would be created to supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles and munitions, adding that not even the sending of Western ground troops to fight the Russian invasion should be ruled out.

“There is no consensus today to send ground troops... but nothing should be excluded. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war,” Mr Macron said after the meeting in Paris.

He said the new coalition would be set up to supply “missiles and bombs of medium and long range” to Ukraine and added: “We are convinced that the defeat of Russia is indispensable to security and stability in Europe.”


03:02 PM GMT

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03:01 PM GMT

‘No compromise’ if Orban and Fico question Ukraine, says Tusk

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said “no compromise” was possible with his Hungarian and Slovak counterparts if they decline to openly support Ukraine facing Russia’s invasion.

Mr Tusk will meet Czech, Hungarian and Slovak premiers Petr Fiala, Viktor Orban and Robert Fico in Prague on Tuesday at a meeting in the so-called Visegrad group.

“If you are a Nato and EU member, by definition and by the very nature of this membership you have to support Ukraine in its defence against the Russian invasion,” Mr Tusk told reporters.

“If someone fails to understand this, and I will say this openly in Prague tomorrow, they place themselves ... outside our communities, and there is no compromise to be made on this,” he told reporters.

Mr Tusk said he would say this to Mr Orban “in the eyes” when they meet in Prague, and added he was “stunned” by Fico’s recent statements on Ukraine.


02:24 PM GMT

Kremlin troops ‘advance in three locations’

Russian troops have advanced in three locations, the Institute for the Study of War reported.

The US think-tank said geolocated footage confirmed Moscow’s forces had made gains near Bakhmut, Avdiivka and western Zaporizhzhia.

Its assessment came after Russia said on Sunday that its forces had taken more advantageous positions near Avdiivka and Donetsk, in the east, with President Vladimir Putin having ordered the military to push further into Ukraine after two years of full-scale war.

A Ukrainian report made no mention of Russian gains in the Donetsk region, the focal point of Moscow’s offensive. It noted clashes around Avdiivka, captured by Russian forces last week, and other areas contested for months.


01:47 PM GMT

Pictured: Piles of corn lying on the ground near train cars in a Polish village

Piles of corn lying on the ground near train cars in the village of Kotomierz, Kuyavian-Pomeranian region, Poland
Piles of corn lying on the ground near train cars in the village of Kotomierz, Kuyavian-Pomeranian region, Poland - Anadolu/Anadolu

01:34 PM GMT

Polish farmers block highway at border crossing with Germany

Polish farmers protesting against European Union regulations and cheap food imports from Ukraine blocked the A2 highway at a border crossing with Germany on Monday.

Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks against constraints placed on them by European Union measures to tackle climate change, as well as rising costs and what they say is unfair competition from outside the EU, particularly Ukraine.

Polish farmers planned to block the Swiecko crossing with Germany until early afternoon, said Adrian Wawrzyniak, a spokesman for the Solidarity farmers’ union.

“As far as I know, there are also German farmers on the German side, the crossing is blocked from both sides,” he said.

“This is a show of common solidarity, that both Polish and German farmers will not allow these goods from Ukraine to continue to enter the European market. It’s a common cause.”

Farmers’ trade unions plan a big protest in the Polish capital Warsaw on Tuesday.


01:02 PM GMT

Zelensky: Putin will never stop

Donald Trump does not understand Vladimir Putin because he never fought a war against him, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Mr Trump, who is leading the Republican field in his bid to reclaim the White House, has previously praised the Russian leader and claimed he could end the Ukraine war in one day.

“I think Donald Trump doesn’t know Putin,” Mr Zelensky told CNN. “I know he met him… but he never fought with Putin. [The] American army never fought with the army of Russia. Never.”

He added: “I have a better understand... I don’t think he understands that Putin will never stop.”


12:33 PM GMT

MoD: Russia using energy as political weapon

Russia will continue using its oil and gas reserves as a “weapon for global economic gain and political influence”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) believes.

It wrote on social media: “Throughout its conflict with Ukraine, Russia has sought to use energy as a weapon.

“Russia’s weaponisation of energy will likely remain a coercive instrument, demonstrating the links between Russia’s security and energy policy.

“It is highly likely that Russia will continue to use energy as a weapon for global economic gain and political influence.”


12:09 PM GMT

Macron seeks to rally support for ‘battered and bruised’ Ukraine

Emmanuel Macron will attempt to rally support for a “battered and bruised” Ukraine at a conference of European leaders in Paris on Monday, two years after Russia’s invasion.

The Elysee Palace meeting was called at short notice after an escalation in Russian aggression over the past few weeks. It signals the French leader’s eagerness to present himself as a European champion of Ukraine’s cause, amid growing fears that American support could wane.

“Battered and bruised, but still standing. Ukraine is fighting for itself, for its ideals, for our Europe. Our commitment at its side will not waver,” Mr Macron wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

David Cameron, the British Foreign Secretary, will attend. Also in attendance will be Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, and some 20 other European leaders including Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish prime minister, and Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister.

The conference will be opened with a video address from Volodymyr Zelensky.

It comes after the Ukrainian president issued an emotional appeal for Western allies to step up military aid, saying large numbers of his country’s troops would die without it.

“Whether Ukraine will lose, whether it will be very difficult for us and whether there will be a large number of casualties depends on you, on our partners, in the Western world,” he told reporters at a press conference marking the second anniversary of the war.


11:56 AM GMT

Ukraine in pictures:

Locals look at a damaged hangar used to store grain after a night rocket attack in Pisochyn, near Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine
Locals look at a damaged hangar used to store grain after a night rocket attack in Pisochyn, near Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine - YAKIV LIASHENKO/EPA
A hangar used to store grain stands damaged after a night rocket attack in Pisochyn, near Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine
A hangar used to store grain stands damaged after a night rocket attack in Pisochyn, near Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine - YAKIV LIASHENKO/EPA

11:29 AM GMT

Follow all the latest updates on Ukraine


11:24 AM GMT

Navalny was close to being freed in a prisoner swap, says ally

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was close to being freed in a prisoner swap at the time of his death, Maria Pevchikh, a Navalny ally, said on Monday, repeating her allegation that Vladimir Putin had him killed.

Speaking on YouTube, Ms Pevchikh said talks about exchanging Navalny and two unnamed US nationals for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB security service hit man in jail in Germany, were in their final stages at the time of his death.

Ms Pevchikh did not name the two US nationals in contention to be swapped along with Navalny. But the United States has said it is trying to return Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Paul Whelan, a former US marine.

“Alexei Navalny could be sitting in this seat right now, right today. That’s not a figure of speech, it could and should have happened,” said Ms Pevchikh.

“Navalny should have been out in the next few days because we got a decision about his exchange. In early February, Putin was offered to exchange the killer, FSB officer Vadim Krasikov, who’s serving time for a murder in Berlin, for two American citizens and Alexei Navalny.”

Ms Pevchikh said she had confirmation that negotiations for the swap were in their final stages on the evening of Feb 15. Navalny, she alleged, had been killed a day later because Putin could not tolerate the thought of him being free.


10:34 AM GMT

Kremlin shrugs off latest Western sanctions against Russia

The Kremlin shrugged off the latest round of Western sanctions against Moscow, saying that Russia’s economy had adapted to restrictions and that those imposing sanctions were hurting themselves with any new measures.

The United States on Friday imposed extensive sanctions against Russia, targeting more than 500 people and entities to mark the second anniversary of what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine and retaliate for the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“Nothing fundamentally new has been announced, and it is unlikely that anything fundamentally new can be thought up by those who impose these sanctions without harming their own economy,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.


10:18 AM GMT

Ukraine military confirms its retreat from eastern village of Lastochkyne

The Ukrainian military confirmed its retreat from the village of Lastochkyne in eastern Ukraine, saying the move would help it to better halt the westward advance of Russian forces.

“Ukrainian Armed Forces units withdrew from the village of Lastochkyne in order to organise defences... and prevent the enemy from advancing further in a western direction,” military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy said on television.


10:07 AM GMT

Pictured: Ukrainian medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier at a stabilisation point in the direction of Bakhmut

Ukrainian medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier at a stabilisation point in the direction of Bakhmut
Ukrainian medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier at a stabilisation point in the direction of Bakhmut - DIEGO HERRERA/ANADOLU/GETTY
Ukrainian medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier at a stabilisation point in the direction of Bakhmut
Ukrainian medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier at a stabilisation point in the direction of Bakhmut - DIEGO HERRERA/ANADOLU/GETTY

09:52 AM GMT

Denmark closes Nord Stream sabotage probe

Danish police said Monday that they were closing their investigation into the 2022 sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia and Germany.

“Based on the investigation, the authorities can conclude that the sabotage of the pipelines was intentional,” Copenhagen police said in a statement.

“At the same time, it is also assessed that there is not the necessary basis for pursuing a criminal case in Denmark,” it said.

Neighbouring Sweden closed its investigation in early February citing a lack of jurisdiction, meaning only Germany now has an ongoing investigation into the leaks.

Four large gas leaks were discovered on Nord Stream’s two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm, with seismic institutes recording two underwater explosions just before.

The pipelines had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation for Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.


09:30 AM GMT

Kyiv urges Poland to punish those behind Ukrainian grain spills

Kyiv has urged Poland to punish those responsible for spills of a Ukrainian grain cargo at the border over the weekend, Oleksandr Kubrakov, the deputy prime minister, said.

Around 160 tonnes of Ukrainian grain were destroyed at a Polish railway station amid protests in what a senior Ukrainian official said on Sunday was an act of “impunity and irresponsibility”.

“Those who have damaged Ukrainian grain must be found, neutralized, and punished. Two friendly civilized European states are interested in this,” Mr Kubrakov said on X.

Polish farmers protesting over what they describe as unfair competition from Ukraine and European Union environment regulations have blocked border crossings with Ukraine as well as motorways, and deliberately spilled Ukrainian produce from train wagons.

Previous incidents of grain being spilt from trains took place on the border with Ukraine last week.


09:03 AM GMT

UN Security Council ‘must reform’, warns UN chief

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations chief, deplored how the UN Security Council had failed to counter Israel’s offensive in Gaza and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he said had “perhaps fatally” undermined its authority.

“The Council’s lack of unity on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and on Israel’s military operations in Gaza following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on Oct 7, has severely – perhaps fatally – undermined its authority,” he said at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The Council needs serious reform to its composition and working methods.”


08:30 AM GMT

Pictured: A woman and her child walk past a railway station destroyed by a Russian missile attack

A local resident and her child walks past the railway station destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region
A local resident and her child walks past the railway station destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

08:22 AM GMT

Hungarian parliament to vote on Swedish Nato bid

Hungary’s parliament is expected to ratify Sweden’s Nato bid, ending more than a year of delay that left fellow defence alliance partners furious as Ukraine fought off Russian troops.

After a meeting Friday between Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, and his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson in Budapest, the nationalist leader announced progress.

“We have managed to clarify our mutual good intentions,” Mr Orban told journalists after signing a deal to acquire four Swedish-made fighter jets, expanding its existing fleet of 14 Jas-39 Gripen fighters.

Lawmakers are therefore widely expected to greenlight the Nordic nation’s bid in the parliamentary vote at around 4:20pm (15:20pm GMT) on Monday.

Hungary remains the last obstacle to Stockholm’s Nato membership after Turkey ratified their request in January.


08:08 AM GMT

Analysis: The two challenges facing European leaders in Paris

When two dozen or so world leaders meet in Paris later on Monday, they face two challenges, writes Joe Barnes, The Telegraph’s Brussels Correspondent.

First they must prove to Vladimir Putin that he is not on the cusp of a victory having outlasted their backing for Ukraine. Secondly, they must win over Western doubters seemingly growing tired of their backing for Kyiv.

Despite Ukraine warning of the grave consequences of a lack of US aid, there will not be any specific promises of weapons from those meeting in the French capital.

Instead, the group – which includes Foreign Secretary David Cameron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte – will simply discuss how to better coordinate their support to plug ammunition shortages on the front line.

“The first aim will be to contradict any impression that things are crumbling. There is no fatigue,” an Elysee official said.

“Europe’s mobilisation and that of its allies is intact and will be reinforced as a result of Russia’s aggressiveness. We are neither doomy nor gloomy.”


07:58 AM GMT

Kremlin propagandists attack director of new ‘Master and Margarita’ film captivating Russians

A new film adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s anti-totalitarian Soviet novel Master and Margarita is winning rave reviews in Russia but irritating the Kremlin and its supporters.

Colleagues of Michael Lockshin, the American-Russian director of the Russian-language film, have now accused Kremlin trolls of harassing him since the film was released last month in Russia.

“Propagandists are both envious and also hateful that a movie with an anti-censorship, anti-totalitarian, anti-war message is getting so much popularity,” an unnamed source told the Variety film magazine in the US.

Read more here


07:51 AM GMT

ICYMI: Watch Zelensky's speech in Kyiv


07:47 AM GMT

Millions will be killed in Ukraine without more US aid, warns Zelensky

Volodymr Zelensky has warned that millions more Ukrainians will die without further aid from the United States.

When asked about comments from a Republican Senator who said new US funding for Ukraine would not change the war’s outcome, Mr Zelensky said he was unsure JD Vance “understands what is going on here.”

The Ukrainian president told CNN:

“To understand it, is to come to the front line to see what’s going on, to speak with the people, then to go to civilians to understand … what will (happen to) them without this support.

And he will understand that millions (of) people … will be killed. It’s a fact.”

Earlier this month, Mr Vance, an ally of Donald Trump, had argued that the package stuck in Congress would not “fundamentally change the reality” on the ground.


07:35 AM GMT

Zelensky makes duplicates after counter-offensive plans leaked to Moscow

Ukraine’s counter-offensive plans were leaked to Russia last year, Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday.

In a startling admission at a press conference marking the second anniversary of the war, the Ukrainian president said the plans “were on the Kremlin’s table” before the long-awaited offensive began.

Kyiv’s forces made little progress against heavy Russian defences despite being provided with billions of dollars in Western weaponry.

The Ukrainian president said “several plans” for a new offensive are now being drawn up to fool Moscow if they are leaked again. He gave no further details on what was leaked to Russia.

Read more here


07:30 AM GMT

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