Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 345 of the invasion


Zelenskiy urges west to supply long-range weapons; EU offers support to Ukraine in Kyiv meeting but no promises on membership

  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday Ukraine would fight to hold on to the eastern “fortress” city of Bakhmut for as long as it could, and urged the west to supply long-range weapons to help Kyiv push Russian forces out of the Donbas region. “Nobody will give away Bakhmut. We will fight for as long as we can. We consider Bakhmut our fortress,” Zelenskiy told a news conference with top European Union officials following a summit in Kyiv. “Ukraine would be able to hold Bakhmut and liberate occupied Donbas if it received long-range weapons,” he said.
  • Senior EU officials including the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Council president, Charles Michel, and 15 European commissioners travelled to the Ukrainian capital for talks. Air raid sirens twice sounded across Ukraine on Friday as President Zelenskiy hosted EU leaders in Kyiv. The first air alert in Kyiv was on Friday morning. The second, hours later, followed a joint news conference involving Zelenskiy, von der Leyen and Michel. There were no immediate reports of any Russian airstrikes on Kyiv throughout the day.
  • EU leaders offered strong support for Ukraine but set “no rigid timelines” for its accession to the bloc. President Zelenskiy had hoped the EU would put Ukraine on a rapid track to membership, but western EU member states are concerned that Kyiv’s expectations on speedy membership talks are unrealistic. “There are no rigid timelines, but there are goals that you have to reach,” von der Leyen told the news conference.
  • President Zelenskiy appealed to the EU to impose sanctions on Russia’s state-run nuclear monopoly Rosatom and its top managers. Zelenskiy said during talks with EU leaders on Friday that they had discussed “the extension of the energy sanctions to cover the nuclear sphere”. He argued sanctions should target Rosatom and its managers, whom he accused of the seizure and forced nationality change of staff at Ukrainian nuclear power facilities and their children.
  • The EU has promised a 10th package of sanctions against Russia will be in place by 24 February, the first anniversary of the war. Speaking alongside Zelenskiy, Ursula von der Leyen said the package would cover trade worth €10bn and focus on technology used by the Russian military, such as drone components, as well as measures to counter circumvention of sanctions. The next round of EU sanctions, however, is not expected to include nuclear power, which Hungary has already threatened to block.
  • Zelenskiy had called on Thursday for more punitive EU measures against Russia, but new sanctions the bloc is preparing will fall short of his government’s demands. “We see today that the pace of sanctions in Europe has slowed down a little,” Zelenskiy said at a news conference. “The terrorist state increases the pace of adaptation to sanctions instead. It should be resolved. We believe that we can do it together.”
  • Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, responded to the Ukrainian president’s comments by saying: “Western Europe, falling into recession, having long lost the habit of survival, is sinking, with Ukraine tied to its feet.”
  • EU member countries have agreed on a European Commission proposal to set price caps on Russian oil products, the Swedish presidency of the EU said. Ambassadors of the 27 EU states agreed at a meeting to impose a $100-per-barrel cap on premium products such as diesel and a $45 cap on low-end products, according to diplomats. The price cap comes into effect on Sunday, as does the EU’s ban on Russian oil product imports.
  • The US has announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $2.175bn (£2.2bn). The package will include precision-guided rockets and HAWK air-defence firing units, as well as other munitions and weapons, the US state department said. Significantly, it includes the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) for the first time, which will double Ukraine’s strike range and allow Ukraine’s military to strike deep behind the frontlines of the war.
  • France and Italy have finalised technical talks for the joint delivery of the SAMP/T air defence system to Ukraine in spring 2023, the French defence ministry announced. It comes after Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said on Thursday that the SAMP/T system would be operational in Ukraine “within seven to eight weeks”. The system can track dozens of targets and intercept 10 at once. It is the only European-made system that can intercept ballistic missiles.
  • The EU has pledged to double a military aid programme for Ukraine by training an extra 15,000 soldiers, as part of a blizzard of announcements aimed at showing it will “stand by Ukraine for the long haul”. The EU will launch a humanitarian de-mining programme in Ukraine worth €25m, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, confirmed. De-mining is “crucial to save the lives of civilian population”, Borrell said. The EU will also supply Ukraine with 35m LED lightbulbs, 2,400 generators on top of 3,000 already delivered and promised funding for solar panels to power Ukraine’s public buildings.
  • The prosecutor general’s office of Ukraine has pressed criminal charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner group of mercenaries fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine. Prigozhin has been charged with encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine and of waging a war of aggression against Ukraine.
  • There are reports that one person was killed in a car bomb explosion in occupied Enerhodar, in Zaporizhzhia region. Dmitri Orlov, Ukraine’s mayor of the city, claimed the victim was a former Ukrainian police officer who had defected to help the authorities in the area of Ukraine that the Russian Federation has claimed to annex
  • The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday morning that the war would continue in Ukraine as Donbas was not “fully protected yet”.
  • Germany has approved a delivery of Leopard 1 main battle tanks to Ukraine from industrial stocks, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit has said. Hebestreit confirmed “an export licence has been issued” for the delivery by a private arms-marker of its older Leopard 1 tanks, but did not provide further details.
  • Germany is also understood to be in the process of preparing a joint weapons package with Sweden in which Stockholm would provide air-defence missiles and launching platforms for Germany’s Iris-T systems. Robert Habeck, the German deputy chancellor and economic minister, discussed this joint package in a meeting with the Swedish minister for foreign trade, Johan Forssell, during a state visit on Thursday, one government official said.
  • Germany will not play a “key” role in the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv because “it is American technology”, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has said. In an interview with BBC News Ukraine, Kuleba said he had “no doubt” that the decision to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets would be made, adding that Kyiv was “open to communication with all partners” on aircraft such as the Swedish Gripens, French Mirages and Rafales.
  • Russian-installed authorities in Crimea said on Friday they had nationalised about 500 properties in the peninsula, including some belonging to senior Ukrainian politicians and business figures.
  • Nato has called on Russia to fulfil its obligations under the Start nuclear reductions treaty.
  • Norway will order 54 new German-made Leopard tanks for its army from the KraussMaffei Group, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reported on Friday.
  • Traders are using TurkeyKazakhstan and Armenia to evade European Union sanctions on Russia in a tactic that breaches these countries’ compliance with the bloc’s embargo, Latvia’s prime minister said.
  • The EU said on Thursday it intended to work with Ukrainian prosecutors to set up an international centre for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine, to be located in The Hague.
  • The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said on Thursday that sending fighter jets to Ukraine would require “months if not years” of training and that he was looking for the most effective way of helping Kyiv secure victory.
  • The head of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has said it is for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete in the Games next year.
  • Russia is planning a major offensive to coincide with the one-year anniversary of its invasion on 24 February, according to Ukraine’s defence minister. Speaking to French media, Oleksii Reznikov said Russia would call on a large contingent of mobilised troops. Referring to the general mobilisation of 300,000 conscripted soldiers in September, he claimed that numbers at the border suggest the true size could be closer to 500,000.
  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Thursday that everybody wanted the conflict in Ukraine to end, but that the west’s support for Kyiv was playing an important role in how Moscow approached the campaign.
  • A senior Russian lieutenant who fled after serving in Ukraine has described how his country’s troops tortured prisoners of war and threatened some with rape. “I have personally seen our troops torture Ukrainian soldiers,” Konstantin Yefremov, who is the most senior soldier to speak out against the war, told the Guardian in a phone call. “I feel relieved that I can finally speak out about the things I have seen.”
Source The Guardian