Advertisement

Ukraine withdraws from two villages near Avdiivka

Ukrainian army medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Bakhmut
Ukrainian army medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Bakhmut - Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu via Getty Images

Ukraine has withdrawn from the villages of Severne and Stepove near the eastern town of Avdiika, recently captured by Russian forces, its military spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said on Tuesday.

The Kremlin announced its gain earlier in the day, with the ministry saying that its forces now “occupied more advantageous lines and positions” and had struck concentrations of Ukrainian manpower and equipment near three other settlements.

The capture of Avdiivka after months of fighting was Russia’s most significant gain since it seized the ruined city of Bakhmut last May.

After major successes in 2022 in pushing back the Russian army, Ukraine has suffered recent setbacks on eastern battlefields, with its generals complaining of shortages of arms and ammunition. Russia controls just under a fifth of Ukraine’s internationally recognised territory.

Follow the latest updates below


02:57 PM GMT

That’s all for today

Thank you for following our coverage. The key developments from the day were:

  • Ukraine withdrew from the villages of Severne and Stepove near the eastern town of Avdiika, recently captured by Russian forces.

  • Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks, including about prisoners of war, following previous Saudi mediation in POW swaps with Russia.

  • Olaf Scholz ruled out sending Nato troops to Ukraine as he held firm on blocking the supply of long-range missiles. Britain also said it has no plans for a large-scale deployment of troops to Ukraine.

  • US treasury secretary Janet Yellen underscored the urgency of moving forward together with Western allies to unlock the value of frozen Russian sovereign assets to help Ukraine.

  • A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced top human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov to two and a half years in jail for denouncing Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

  • A billionaire ally of Russian businessman Roman Abramovich lost his latest attempt to overturn British sanctions.

  • The CIA has built 12 “secret spy bases” along the Russian border in Ukraine which act as the “nerve centre” of Kyiv’s military, an investigation by the New York Times revealed.

  • Russia announced a six-month ban on exports of petrol as Vladimir Putin’s regime races to meet domestic demand from drivers and farmers.

  • Russian security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a top ally of President Vladimir Putin, met Cuba’s former leader Raul Castro to discuss security cooperation.


02:50 PM GMT

‘You promised not to cry’: Russian human rights activist reassures wife as he’s sent to penal colony


02:49 PM GMT

Scholz rules out Nato troops to Ukraine

Olaf Scholz has ruled out sending Nato troops to Ukraine as he held firm on blocking the supply of long-range missiles.

The German chancellor flatly rejected Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion on Monday night that European soldiers could be deployed to the battlefield.

“Once again, in a very good debate, it was discussed that what was agreed from the outset among ourselves and with each other also applies to the future, namely that there will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil sent there by European countries or Nato states,” Mr Scholz said.

He also rejected pressure from Kyiv to supply them with long-range Taurus missiles, saying “we will not become a warring party.”

Mr Scholz has previously issued veiled jabs at Mr Macron over France’s lack of military assistance to Ukraine.

The Kremlin said any Nato deployment would ‘inevitably’ lead to conflict with Russia.


02:43 PM GMT

Ukraine names new head of anti-corruption watchdog

Ukraine has approved the new head of a state watchdog responsible for crafting anti-corruption policy, officials said.

Fighting graft is a top priority for Ukraine as it seeks membership in the European Union, and authorities have stepped up their crackdown during the war with Russia.

Viktor Pavluschyk, a former investigator, will serve a four-year term heading the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) after winning an internationally supervised recruitment competition.

NACP formulates Ukraine’s anti-corruption agenda and monitors public servants for illicit gains, working closely with Kyiv’s anti-graft law enforcement agencies.

During Moscow’s two-year-old invasion it has also helped track international companies’ ties to Russia.

Mr Pavluschyk previously served as a senior detective at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and in Kyiv’s domestic security service, the SBU.


02:35 PM GMT

Pictured: Zelensky arrives in Saudi Arabia

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky is welcomed upon arriving to Saudi Arabia
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky is welcomed upon arriving in Saudi Arabia - Service/Handout via Reuters

02:26 PM GMT

Unlocking value of frozen Russian assets ‘necessary and urgent’, says US

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen has underscored the urgency of moving forward together with Western allies to unlock the value of frozen Russian sovereign assets to help Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of meetings with her G7 and G20 counterparts, Ms Yellen said the US and its allies were evaluating different options for some $285 billion in Russian assets immobilised in 2022 and the associated risks.

Ms Yellen acknowledged there were risks involved, but downplayed concerns raised by some in Europe that confiscating Russian assets would undermine the role of the US dollar, euro or Japanese yen as important global reserve currencies.

“I believe the G7 should work together to explore the number of approaches that have been suggested for unlocking their economic values. One would be, of course, seizing the assets themselves, but there are other ideas, such as using them as collateral to borrow from global markets,” Ms Yellen said, reported by Reuters news agency.

Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, speaks during a news conference ahead of the G20
Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, speaks during a news conference ahead of the G20 - Tuane Fernandes/Bloomberg

She said she considered it “extremely unlikely” that any G7 move on Russian assets would result in a massive shift from currencies, given the uniqueness of this situation and what she called Russia’s brazen violation of international norms.

The countries involved represented half the global economy, and any action would be taken in coordination, she said.

“It’s important for the G7 to work together. We need to find a way that is legal, both domestically in all of our countries and also in accordance with international law,” she said.


02:18 PM GMT

Ukraine withdraws from two villages near Avdiivka, military says

Ukraine has withdrawn from the villages of Severne and Stepove near the eastern town of Avdiika, recently captured by Russian forces, military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy said on Tuesday.


02:08 PM GMT

Two police killed by Russian shelling in north Ukraine

Two police officers were killed and four were wounded by Russian shelling in the northern Ukrainian region of Sumy, Ukraine’s interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Tuesday.

In a post on the Telegram app, Klymenko wrote that an investigative team was deliberately fired upon while documenting damage caused by an earlier Russian strike.

“The bodies of two police officers were recovered from under the rubble. We express our condolences to the families of the dead,” he wrote.


01:59 PM GMT

Zelensky arrives in Saudi Arabia to discuss POW swaps

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday he had arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks, including about prisoners of war, following previous Saudi mediation in POW swaps with Russia.

“The kingdom’s leadership has already contributed to the release of our people. I am confident this meeting will also yield results,” Mr Zelensky said on X, formerly Twitter.


01:08 PM GMT

Send Ukraine weapons – not soldiers, says German vice-chancellor

German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck has also rejected French suggestions that Ukraine could be supported with a deployment of Western troops.

“German soldiers are not going to Ukraine,” he told a news conference.

“I’m glad if France is considering how to support Ukraine more strongly, but if I can make a suggestion, then send more weapons,” he added. “Do what you can do now and give Ukraine the ammunition and tanks that can be sent right now.”


12:57 PM GMT

Spain disagrees with sending European troops to Ukraine

Spain does not agree with the suggestion of sending European ground troops to Ukraine and wants to limit aid to sending more weapons and other material to Kyiv, government spokesperson Pilar Alegría told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Unity has been and is the most effective weapon Europe has to face up against (Vladimir) Putin’s attack,” Ms Alegría said.


12:34 PM GMT

Russia says its forces take Ukrainian village near Avdiivka

Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday its forces had taken control of the village of Severne near Avdiivka, a Ukrainian town it captured earlier this month.

The claims could not be independently verified.


12:16 PM GMT

Britain has no plans for large-scale deployment in Ukraine

Britain has no plans for a large-scale deployment of troops to Ukraine, a spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday, in response to Emmanuel Macron’s comments about European nations sending troops to war-ravaged country.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “We’ve got no plans to make a large scale deployment.”

The spokesperson added that a “small number” of British personnel are already in-country, supporting the armed forces of Ukraine with medical training.

The briefing came after the French president said: “Nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we must so that Russia does not win.”

The Kremlin hit back Mr Macron’s comments, warning that a conflict between Russia and Nato would be inevitable if European members of the alliance send troops to fight in Ukraine.


12:06 PM GMT

ICYMI: Macron won’t rule out sending troops to Ukraine


11:57 AM GMT

Abramovich ally Shvidler loses appeal over UK sanctions

A billionaire ally of Russian businessman Roman Abramovich on Tuesday lost his latest attempt to overturn British sanctions, as the UK maintained its 100 per cent record of defending challenges to sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.6 billion, was sanctioned in March 2022 on the grounds of his association with former Chelsea Football Club owner Mr Abramovich. His two private jets were also seized.

Britain also cited Mr Shvidler’s position as a director of London-listed Russian steel producer Evraz and role at Russian oil company Sibneft, sold by Mr Abramovich in 2005, as evidence he obtained a financial benefit from Mr Abramovich.

Lawyers for Mr Shvidler – a dual British-US citizen – had argued Britain was wrong to impose sanctions just because of his relationship with Mr Abramovich.

They also cited the impact of sanctions, arguing that they had destroyed Mr Shvidler’s ability to conduct his business and disrupted his and his family’s lives.


11:37 AM GMT

CIA has 12 ‘secret spy bases’ in Ukraine

The CIA has built 12 “secret spy bases” along the Russian border in Ukraine which act as the “nerve centre” of Kyiv’s military, an investigation by the New York Times has revealed.

Over eight years, the US agency has trained and equipped Kyiv’s intelligence officers in the underground bunkers, some of which are buried deep in Ukraine’s forests. They have also fully financed and partially equipped them, according to the NYT.

Until now, they have been kept a secret.

“Teams of Ukrainian soldiers track Russian spy satellites and eavesdrop on conversations between Russian commanders,” the NYT reports, adding that the agents report back to the CIA.

The intelligence partnership began a decade ago after Russia’s invasion of Crimea. The Ukrainians later proved themselves by collecting intercepts that helped prove Russia’s involvement in the 2014 downing of a commercial jetliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. They also helped to pursue Russian operatives who interfered in the 2016 US election.

In return, the CIA began training a “new generation of Ukrainian spies” who operated inside Russia, across Europe, and in Cuba.

They also began training an elite Ukrainian commando force, Unit 2245, which captured Russian drones and communications equipment so that CIA technicians could crack Moscow’s encryption systems. One of the unit’s officer’s was Kyrylo Budanov, who is now the general leading Ukraine’s military intelligence.


11:28 AM GMT

‘No soldiers’ to Ukraine from Europe, says Nato

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said that the military alliance has no plans to send combat troops into Ukraine amid reports that some Western countries may be considering putting boots on the ground in the war-ravaged country.

Mr Stoltenberg said that “Nato allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine. We have done that since 2014 and stepped up after the full-scale invasion. But there are no plans for Nato combat troops on the ground in Ukraine.”


11:06 AM GMT

Hungary will not send weapons or troops to Ukraine

Hungary is not willing to send weapons or troops to Ukraine and this stance is “rock solid,” Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We hear and see the news about last night’s meeting in Paris. Hungary’s stance is clear and rock-solid: we are not willing to send either weapons or troops to Ukraine,” Mr Szijjarto said.


11:05 AM GMT

Jens Stoltenberg says no plans for Nato troops on the ground in Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, poured cold water on Mr Macron’s claimed talks over Western boots on the ground in Ukraine.

“Nato allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine,” Mr Stoltenberg told the Associated Press news wire.

“We haver done that since 2014 and stepped up after the full-scale invasion. But there are no plans for Nato combat troops on the ground in Ukraine.”


10:55 AM GMT

Russian court jails veteran activist for 2.5 years

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced top human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov to two and a half years in jail for denouncing Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

The 70-year-old, a key figure of the Nobel Prize-winning Memorial group, is the latest target of Kremlin repression, which has intensified since the offensive in Ukraine.

“The court has determined Orlov’s guilt and orders a sentence of two years and six months... in a general regime penal colony,” the judge said.

Oleg Orlov at his court hearing
Oleg Orlov at his court hearing - REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva
Oleg Orlov pictured with his wife before the hearing
Oleg Orlov pictured with his wife before the hearing - ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images

As the judge read the verdict, the bespectacled, white-haired activist winked at his wife, fellow activist Tatyana.

Around 200 supporters were waiting in the corridor outside the courtroom to bid him goodbye.

Mr Orlov was accused of discrediting the Russian army in a column written for the French online publication Mediapart, and fined in October after a first trial.

He had told AFP in a recent interview that he held no illusions on the outcome of the trial.


10:31 AM GMT

Macron won’t rule out sending troops to Ukraine

Emmanuel Macron has said that sending Western ground troops to Ukraine could not be “ruled out” at a meeting convened to ramp up Europe’s support for Kyiv.

“There is no consensus at this stage... to send troops on the ground,” the French president said. “Nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we must so that Russia does not win.”

Mr Macron delivered the remarks at a hastily arranged meeting of 20 European leaders in Paris, convened to discuss how to ramp up ammunition supplies to Ukraine amid what his advisers say is an escalation in Russian aggression over the past few weeks.

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, who has opposed military aid to Ukraine, said several NATO and EU members were considering sending soldiers to Ukraine on a bilateral basis.

“I can confirm there are countries that are prepared to send their own troops to Ukraine, there are countries that say never, among which Slovakia belongs, and there are countries that say this proposal needs to be considered,” he said.


10:06 AM GMT

Poland does not plan to send troops to Ukraine, PM says

Poland is not considering sending army troops to Ukraine, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday after meeting with his counterparts from the Czech Republic.

On Monday Emmanuel Macron, the French president, opened the door to European nations sending troops to Ukraine, although he cautioned that there was no consensus at this stage.


09:48 AM GMT

Frustration in Germany over chancellor’s refusal to provide Ukraine with Taurus missile system

James Rothwell, our Berlin Correspondent, writes:

German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition partners have vented their frustration in the media over his refusal to provide Ukraine with the Taurus missile system.

Speaking to Die Welt, the Bundestag’s defence committee chairman Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann said it was not the case that German troops would need to be deployed to Ukraine for the system to operate – as Mr Scholz has repeatedly suggested.

Ms Strack-Zimmermann, of the FDP party, argued that the necessary programming of the system could be done in Germany, or Ukrainian soldiers could travel to Germany for full training in how to use Taurus.

She then pointed out that German-made weaponry is already being used in Ukraine, which undermined Mr Scholz’s argument that Berlin could not risk becoming “directly or indirectly” involved in the war.

“If that is the argument, we would have to immediately withdraw all automatic weapons that respond to attacks,” she said.

Katrin Göring-Eckardt, the vice-president of the Greens, another coalition partner, also criticised Mr Scholz.

“No one who is calling for Taurus missiles to be sent to Ukraine wants Germany to become a party to the war,” she said.

Mr Scholz has repeatedly ruled out sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine as he fears this would be interpreted by Vladimir Putin as an unacceptable escalation in the war. He is particularly concerned about the long-range missiles being used on targets deep inside Russia.

The UK has already provided the Ukrainian army with Storm Shadows, which are very similar to Taurus missiles, and which has caused further scrutiny of Mr Scholz’s position.


09:33 AM GMT

Russia bans petrol exports for six months from March 1

Russia has announced a six-month ban on exports of petrol as Vladimir Putin’s regime races to meet domestic demand from drivers and farmers.

The ban, which comes into force on March 1, was confirmed by a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak and will also allow for planned maintenance of refineries.

Russia previously imposed a similar ban between September and November last year to tackle high domestic prices and shortages.

Then only four ex-Soviet states – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – were exempt.

However, the ban will this time not extend to member states of the Eurasian Economic Union, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and two Russian-backed breakaway regions of Georgia - South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Follow our business live blog here.


09:15 AM GMT

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline

Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk Oblast
Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk Oblast - Jose Colon/Anadolu via Getty Images
Ukrainian soldiers wait in their fighting position for the commander's order
Ukrainian soldiers wait in their fighting position for the commander's order - Jose Colon/Anadolu via Getty Images

09:01 AM GMT

France says ‘nothing ruled out’ to thwart Russia in Ukraine

Gabriel Attal, the French prime minister, has said that nothing was off the table in Western efforts to prevent a Russian victory in Ukraine.

Speaking a day after president Emmanuel Macron said that sending Western ground troops was not excluded, Mr Attal said that “you can’t rule anything out in a war”.

He told the RTL broadcaster that there was “no consensus” on any “official” deployment of ground troops.

“But no dynamic can be ruled out. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war,” he said, using the same words as Mr Macron a day earlier.

A White House official told Reuters that the United States had no plans to send troops to fight in Ukraine and that there were also no plans to send NATO troops to fight in Ukraine.


08:47 AM GMT

North Korea speeds up pace of secretive weapons shipments to Putin

North Korea has shipped containers that could hold millions of artillery shells to Russia, a top South Korean official has said, allowing Vladimir Putin to maintain his assault on Ukraine as Kyiv’s stocks of ammunition dwindle.

Shin Wonsik, South Korea’s defence minister, told reporters that North Korea is estimated to have sent about 6,700 containers to Russia, accelerating the pace of shipments since Mr Putin held a summit with Kim Jong Un in September, Yonhap News reported. The containers could hold about three million rounds of 152 mm shells, Mr Shin said.

Russia in return is providing North Korea with food, raw materials and parts used in weapons manufacturing, Mr Shin said. The food aid has helped Mr Kim stabilise prices for necessities, he said.

He added that if the arms transfers grow, Russia is set to send more military technology to North Korea, which could increase Pyongyang’s ability to threaten the region.

The Ukrainian leader said his country believes North Korea has transferred 1.5 million artillery shells to Russia and an unknown number of missiles, adding that Pyongyang is poised to continue providing weapons.

While North Korea and Russia deny any arms transfers, imagery from commercial satellites has shown about four cargo vessels shuttling between North Korea’s Najin port near the Russian border and the Russian port of Dunay, a former Soviet submarine port about 180 kilometres away. The White House said it has tracked some of those shipments as they travelled by rail across Russia to be stored in depots in Russia near Ukraine.


08:33 AM GMT

ICYMI: ‘Large number’ of Ukrainian soldiers will die if West does not step up support, says Zelensky


08:17 AM GMT

Zelensky says Black Sea grain corridor in doubt without US aid

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that without new US military aid his country would be unable to defend a Black Sea shipping corridor that has allowed Kyiv to export millions of tonnes of grain to global markets.

Zelensky warned that if the US Congress did not approve $60 billion in new security aid then the future of the shipping corridor would be in doubt. “I think the route will be closed… because to defend it, it’s also about some ammunition, some air defence, and some other systems,” Mr Zelensky said.

Ukraine and Russia are both major grain exporters, and the United Nations has blamed Russia’s invasion for worsening a global food crisis.


07:58 AM GMT

Top Putin ally meets Cuba’s Raul Castro to discuss security cooperation

Russian security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a top ally of President Vladimir Putin, has met Cuba’s former leader Raul Castro to discuss security cooperation, the Interfax news agency reported.

“Various issues of Russian-Cuban cooperation in the field of security were discussed,” Russia’s security council said in a statement cited by Interfax.

“Nikolai Patrushev assured Raul Castro that Moscow remains committed to the spirit of strategic partnership between the two countries,” it said.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the worst crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Since being slapped with sanctions, the Kremlin has boosted ties with countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Putin has an invitation to visit Cuba.


07:46 AM GMT

Pictured: Ukraine buries its dead

Ukrainian soldiers fire a salute during the burial of eight Ukrainian soldiers killed in the war at a cemetery in Kharkiv
Ukrainian soldiers fire a salute during the burial of eight Ukrainian soldiers killed in the war at a cemetery in Kharkiv - David Young / Avalon
Elena Kuzmenko, mother, and Anhelina Bezotosna, girlfriend, mourn Yehor Voloshyn, 27, who was killed in the fighting near Avdiivka
Elena Kuzmenko, mother, and Anhelina Bezotosna, girlfriend mourn Yehor Voloshyn, 27, who was killed in the fighting near Avdiivka - AP Photo/Alex Babenko

07:34 AM GMT

Ukraine says it destroys 11 Russia-launched drones

Russia launched 13 attack drones and a barrage of missiles at Ukraine overnight, with air defence systems destroying 11 drones as well as two guided missiles over several regions, Ukraine’s air force said on Monday.

In total, Russia launched 13 attack drones, four of the Kh-59 guided air missile, one air-to-surface Kh-31P missile and ballistic missiles, the Ukraine’s force said on the Telegram messaging app.

It was not immediately clear how many ballistic missiles Russia reportedly launched or what happened to the missiles and drones that were not downed.


07:28 AM GMT

Russia says its forces are stopping Ukraine from crossing Dnipro near Krynky

Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that its forces were preventing Ukrainian forces from crossing from the right bank of the Dnipro river, near the village of Krynky in Ukraine’s Kherson region, Russian state news agency TASS reported.


07:23 AM GMT

Hungary’s parliament ratifies Sweden’s NATO bid

Hungary’s parliament has voted to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO, ending more than 18 months of delays that frustrated the alliance as it sought to expand in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The vote – which passed with 188 votes for and six against – was the culmination of months of wrangling by Hungary’s allies to convince its nationalist government to lift its block on Sweden’s membership.

Unanimous support among NATO members is required to admit new countries, and Hungary was the last of the alliance’s 31 members to give its backing since Turkey ratified the request last month.

Hungary’s decision paved the way for the second expansion of NATO’s ranks in a year after both Sweden and Finland applied to join the alliance in May 2022.

Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said his country was “now leaving 200 years of neutrality and nonalignment behind us”.

“It is a big step, we must take that seriously. But it is also a very natural step that we are taking. NATO membership means that we’ve found a new home within a large number of democracies which work together for peace and freedom,” he said.