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Russia Ukraine latest: Unarmed prisoners ‘executed by Putin’s forces’ after fall of Avdiivka

Seven dead after drone strike hit fuel depot causing huge fire in Kharkiv

Ukraine has claimed that Russian forces executed eight unarmed prisoners after they seized control of the city of Avdiivka.

The Security Service of Ukraine opened a pre-trial investigation into the alleged killing of unarmed prisoners of war in Avdiivka and the village of Vesele, state-run media outlet Ukrinform said on Monday.

Ukrinform quoting the security agency, added: “The defenders were seriously injured and were waiting for evacuation.”

Unverified footage circulating on Telegram appears to show two unarmed Ukrainian soldiers being shot at close range.

The Kremlin is yet to publicly comment on the claims.

It came as Russia claimed full control of the frontline city of Avdiivka after four months of intense bombardment.

Now Russian forces are launching more attacks on territory to the west of the city as Vladimir Putin’s troops look to consolidate his biggest military gain since taking Bakhumut in May.

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Russia exploiting delays in Western aid, warns Zelensky

Russia is exploiting delays in extending aid to Ukraine, and the situation in areas where Moscow’s troops are concentrated is “extremely difficult”, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

“There is now an extremely difficult situation in several parts of the frontline, precisely where Russian troops have concentrated maximum reserves,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address, after a visit to frontline areas in the northeast.

“They are taking advantage of delays in aid to Ukraine and this is a very sensitive matter. Artillery shortages, the need for frontline air defence and for longer-range weapons.”

(UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 05:03

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Canada to donate £55m-worth of drones to Ukraine

Canada has announced that it will donate more than 800 SkyRanger R70 drones to Ukraine.

The drones, sourced from Teledyne in Ontario, have been valued at over C$95m (£55.9m), Canada’s defence ministry said, adding that the donation was funded by the C$500m in military assistance announced by prime minister Justin Trudeau during last year’s visit to Kyiv.

“Today’s announcement ensures that Ukraine has the drones it needs to detect and identify targets which are critical to Ukraine’s ongoing fight. Canada will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said defence minister Bill Blair.

Canada has committed over C$9.7bn (£5.7bn) in aid to Ukraine since February 2022, including over C$2.4bn (£1.4bn) in military assistance, the country’s defence ministry said.

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 04:01

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UK ministers facing questions over sudden closure of Ukraine family scheme

Ministers are facing calls to “urgently explain” why a scheme offering visas to Ukrainians fleeing war was shut down at 3pm on Monday and is no longer accepting applications.

The Home Office closed the Ukraine family scheme at 3pm on Monday, which had allowed applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK.

The decision by the Home Office to close the Ukraine family scheme was among a series of changes to immigration rules set out in a policy document published without warning earlier in the day. It also confirmed a visa extension scheme will close on 16 May.

Labour said the move “sends the wrong message” about the UK’s “willingness” to stand by Ukraine while campaigners raised concerns that one of “few safe routes” created to allow families to reunite amid the conflict was “closing at such short notice”.

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 03:04

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Ukraine seeking action to stop Russian use of Starlink, minister says

Ukraine has asked Elon Musk’s firm SpaceX Aerospace to prevent Russia from using its Starlink terminals for communications in areas occupied by Vladimir Putin’s troops, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said.

Starlink terminals were rushed in to help Ukraine after Russia’s invasion and have been vital to Kyiv’s battlefield communications. Starlink says it does not do business of any kind with Russia’s government or military.

But Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov told the Wall Street Journal this month that Russian troops were using thousands of Starlink terminals, after acquiring them from private Russian firms that purchased them from intermediaries.

Deputy PM and minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov has now told public broadcaster Suspilne that Ukrainian authorities have sought action from SpaceX.

“We found an algorithm and made a proposal to SpaceX and are in communication with them to ensure that such cases do not occur,” said Mr Fedorov. “SpaceX has done something similar with the Israeli government.”

Mr Fedorov said Ukraine needed the terminals to work in all areas “because specific technologies are being used linked to drones. There are other ways so that our Starlinks work and others do not. We are working on this with SpaceX.”

Reuters20 February 2024 02:02

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EU moves closer to new sanctions against Russia

The European Union has moved closer to new sanctions against Moscow over its war on Ukraine, as Alexei Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya met with the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers in Brussels.

Germany, Lithuania and Sweden were among EU countries calling at the meeting – scheduled before Navalny’s death – for specific new penalties against Russia in response to the suspected killing.

And in a development which will relieve Brussels, Hungary – the last EU country needed to pass the proposed new restrictions against nearly 200 more firms and people deemed involved in the war – said it would not stall or veto the bloc’s 13th package of Russia sanctions since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

The EU’s top diplomat suggested that Russian prison officials linked to Navalny’s death could be added to the list of those subjected to asset freezes and travel bans.

There was no immediate word of any more hard-hitting measures that could target Russia’s broader economy and an EU diplomat said so far it seemed any specific new sanctions related to Navalny’s death would be “symbolic” and come later.

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 00:59

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Biden willing to meet with Republican US House speaker over Ukraine aid

US President Joe Biden said he was willing to meet with House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson to discuss a funding bill for Ukraine’s war against Russia, saying that Republicans are making a mistake by opposing the aid package.

The Senate in a bipartisan vote earlier this month passed a £75billion aid package that includes funds for Ukraine, but Johnson so far has declined even to bring it up for a vote on the floor of the House, which Republicans control by a narrow 219-212 margin. He has been demanding a meeting with Biden.

“Sure I’d be happy to meet with him, if he has anything to say,” Biden said.

Speaking to reporters as he returned to the White House from a weekend in Delaware, Biden said Republicans are making a big mistake by opposing aid to Ukraine for use in its war to repel Russian invaders.

Alexander Butler20 February 2024 00:01

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Zelensky thanks Japan for reconstruction conference

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed his “sincere gratitude” to Japan for hosting a conference on the reconstruction of his country.

Writing on X, Zelensky said Ukrainians would be “forever grateful” for Japanese support and welcomed the country’s “expertise and experience” on post-war resconstruction.

“As Tokyo hosts the Japan-Ukraine Conference for the promotion of economic growth and reconstruction, I express my sincere gratitude to prime minister Fumio Kishida his team, and the entire Japanese people for all their firm support for our country and people,” he said.

“Japan has been standing with Ukraine since the first days of this full-scale war. Japan’s ongoing long-term assistance has helped our people withstand this difficult time and saved many Ukrainian lives.

“Most importantly, we have seen how many Japanese people hold Ukraine dear to their hearts. We will be forever grateful for this.

“The Ukraine-Japan cooperation is gaining momentum and we are looking forward to further realizing its full potential in many areas, including recovery, where Japan has unique expertise and experience.”

Alexander Butler19 February 2024 23:00

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Russia claims control of Avdiivka coke plant after most intense battle of war so far

Alexander Butler19 February 2024 22:00

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Why is Japan hosting a conference for Ukraine reconstruction?

Alexander Butler19 February 2024 21:00

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Three big lessons from two years of war in Ukraine

Three big lessons from two years of war in Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February two years ago, nobody knew how it would play out. Here author and Russia expert Mark Galeotti sifts through the carnage of the bloody conflict for clues as to what will happen next

Alexander Butler19 February 2024 20:00


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