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Live blog: Russia breaks through defences in Ukraine’s Luhansk – Moscow

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Russian troops have broken through the defences of Ukrainian forces in part of the Luhansk region, the Russian Defence Ministry said early on Wednesday.

“During the offensive … the Ukrainian troops randomly retreated to a distance of up to three kilometres (1.9 miles) from the previously occupied lines,” the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.

“Even the more fortified second line of defence of the enemy could not hold the breakthrough of the Russian military.”

The ministry did not specify in which part of the Luhansk region the offensive took place.

Here are the other updates:

1051 GMT — Ukraine defends Luhansk region as Russia builds up forces: governor

Russia is pouring heavy equipment and mobilising troops into the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine but Ukrainian forces are still defending the region, regional governor Serhiy Haidai has said.

Russia said earlier on Wednesday that its troops had broken through two fortified lines of Ukrainian defences on the eastern front. The Russian Defence Ministry said Ukrainian forces had retreated in the face of Russian attacks in the Luhansk region.

The ministry did not specify in which part of the Luhansk region the offensive took place.

1035 GMT — Russian journalist gets six years for accusing Russia of Ukraine theatre bombing

A Russian journalist has been sentenced to six years in a penal colony for accusing the Russian air force of bombing a theatre in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol last April where women and children were sheltering.

The Lenin district court in the Siberian city of Barnaul also banned Maria Ponоmarenko from working as a journalist for five years, according to a court service statement. State prosecutors had asked for a nine-year sentence.

“If it is a war – then call it a war,” Ponоmarenko said from a cage in the courtroom. “This is a state crime against the army – it is like spitting on the graves of veterans.”

The Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theatre in Mariupol was destroyed by an air strike on the morning of March 16, 2022. It had been used as a haven for civilians during the Russian siege of the city.

1014 GMT —
Tank delivery for Ukraine came a bit late: German vice chancellor

The delivery of German-made Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine came “a bit too late”, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has said, since time was running short ahead of an expected Russian offensive.

“With the decision to send the tanks we are doing what we can,” he told newspaper Die Zeit in comments published on Wednesday. “A bit too late, but it’s done… Everyone is expecting a terrible Russian offensive… Time is pressing.”

He added that Germany was not up for a debate on sending warplanes, which Ukraine says it needs in its war against Russia.

1000 GMT — Ukraine urges financial crime watchdog to expel Russia

Ukraine has issued a new appeal to the global financial crime watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to exclude Russia and blacklist it as a high-risk jurisdiction, the finance ministry said.

“As we near the first anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, it is time for both reflection and actions,” Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said in a statement.

“FATF designating Russia as high risk will choke (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s ability to finance his illegal and unjustified brutal war and insulate our economic systems from Russian malfeasance. We must stop Russia to protect not just Ukraine, but the entire global financial system.”

0846 GMT — EU to sanction Iran entities involved in Russian war in Ukraine: Von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the EU will propose sanctions targeting for the first time Iranian economic operators involved in the war in Ukraine.

“For the first time we are also proposing to sanction Iranian entities including those linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard,” Von der Leyen told European lawmakers in Strasbourg.

Von der Leyen said the 10th package of sanctions, worth a total of $11.79 billion, would target new trade bans and technology export cont rols, including drones, helicopters and missiles. 

0820 GMT — UN appeals for $5.6 billion for aid to Ukraine in 2023

The United Nations has said that $5.6 billion was needed to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine and to the millions who have fled the war-ravaged country.

Nearly a year after Moscow launched its attacks on Ukraine, the UN estimated that 21.8 million Ukrainians were now in need of humanitarian assistance.

“We must do all we can to reach the hardest-to-reach communities, including those close to the front line,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement.

The needs are so great that aid organisations cannot reach everyone, but the UN said the requested $5.6 billion would allow it to reach the 15.3 million people in most dire need this year.

A full $1.7 billion of that amount was needed for assistance to the more than four million Ukrainian refugees hosted across eastern Europe, it said.

0802 GMT — UK training Ukrainians to fight in ‘Western way’ with less ammunition: minister

Britain is training Ukrainian soldiers to fight in a more “Western way” and use less ammunition than the traditional Soviet way of fighting, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.

Britain along with other Western allies has been training Ukrainian soldiers and providing weapons and ammunition to support Kiev in its battle with Russia.

“Ukraine uses huge amounts of ammunition to defend itself, partly that’s why we’re training them to fight in a Western way,” Wallace told Times Radio.

0726 GMT — Ukraine, partners doing everything to make Russia lose: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Kiev and its partners are doing everything together to make Russia lose its war on Ukraine “as soon as possible.”

“Today is the day of another Ramstein, a meeting of the group of military support for Ukraine … We have got regular strong decisions on protecting our country and strengthening our warriors,” Zelenskyy said in a televised address.

He said Ukraine’s partners confirmed more air defence systems, tanks, artillery and training for the country’s military.

0709 GMT — Gazprom’s gas transit to Europe via Ukraine seen at monthly high

Russia’s Gazprom has said it would send 35.3 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas to Europe via Ukraine, the highest since January 16, when the flows were at 35.4 mcm.

That compares to 30.8 mcm on Tuesday, but would still be less than levels above 40 mcm in the second half of 2022 and early January.

Higher volumes could put more downward pressure on European gas prices, which are near their lowest level since September 2021, at around 52 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh).

0215 GMT — Russia accepts children forced to flee from Ukraine

Russia has accepted children who were forced to flee with their families from the shelling in Ukraine, Russia’s embassy to the United States has said, in response to reports that Russia forcefully holds children.

“Russia accepted children who were forced to flee with their families from the shelling,” the embassy said on the Telegram messaging platform.

“We do our best to keep underage people in families, and in cases of absence or death of parents and relatives — to transfer orphans under guardianship.”

0112 GMT — 6,000 Ukrainian children face re-education in Russia – report

Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children — likely many more — in sites in Russian-annexed Crimea and Russia whose primary purpose appears to be political re-education, according to a US-backed report.

The report said Yale University researchers had identified at least 43 camps and other facilities where Ukrainian children have been held that were part of a “large-scale systematic network” operated by Moscow since its February 2022 offensive in Ukraine.

The children included those with parents or clear familial guardianship, those Russia deemed orphans, others who were in the care of Ukrainian state institutions before the Russian attack and those whose custody was unclear or uncertain due to the war, it said.

“The primary purpose of the camp facilities we’ve identified appears to be political re-education,” Nathaniel Raymond, one of the researchers, said in a briefing to reporters.

For live updates from Tuesday (February 14), click here

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