Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine, preparing for new offensive

Russia was pouring reinforcements into eastern Ukraine ahead of a new offensive that could begin next week along a front where there have been relentless battles for months, a Ukrainian governor said.  Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

11:05am: Russia says NATO involvement in Ukraine threatens ‘unpredictable’ escalation

Russia’s defence minister said on Tuesday that Western arms shipments to Ukraine were effectively dragging NATO into the conflict, warning this could lead to an “unpredictable” level of escalation.

“The US and its allies are trying to prolong the conflict as much as possible,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

“To do this, they have started supplying heavy offensive weapons, openly urging Ukraine to seize our territories. In fact, such steps are dragging NATO countries into the conflict and could lead to an unpredictable level of escalation,” he said.

9:14am: BP posts annual loss on Russia exit, despite oil price surge

BP slid into a net loss last year after its exit from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the British energy giant announced Tuesday, despite the surge in oil prices.

The company posted annual losses after tax totalling $2.5 billion, compared with net profit of $7.6 billion in 2021.

Excluding the exceptional hit, profit more than doubled to $27.7 billion on soaring oil and gas prices — mirroring huge 2022 earnings by BP’s rivals.

Oil and gas prices soared last year after the attack by major energy producer Russia on neighbouring Ukraine triggered massive supply constraints.

9:11am: Swiss neutrality on the line as arms-for-Ukraine debate heats up

Switzerland is close to breaking with centuries of tradition as a neutral state, as a pro-Ukraine shift in the public and political mood puts pressure on the government to end a ban on exports of Swiss weapons to war zones.

Buyers of Swiss arms are legally prevented from re-exporting them, a restriction that some representing the country’s large weapons industry say is now hurting trade.

Calls from Switzerland’s European neighbours to allow such transfers to Kyiv have meanwhile grown louder as Russia’s assault intensifies, and parliament’s two security committees recommended that the rules be eased accordingly.

Lawmakers are divided on the issue. “We want to be neutral, but we are part of the western world,” said Thierry Burkart, leader of the centre-right FDP party, who has submitted a motion to the government to allow arms re-exports to countries with similar democratic values to Switzerland.

7:46am: Russia likely restarted Ukraine offensive operations in January, Britain says

Russia’s military likely attempted to restart major offensive operations in Ukraine since early January this year, with the goal of capturing Ukraine-held parts of Donetsk, Britain’s Defence Intelligence update said on Tuesday.

However, it remains unlikely that Russia will be able to build up the forces required to significantly affect the war’s outcome within the next few weeks, the update added.

6:00am: Russia says protective structures at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant near completion

The construction of protective structures for key facilities at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeast Ukraine is nearing completion, Russia’s state TASS news agency reported on Tuesday, citing an adviser to the head of Russia’s nuclear plants operator.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, was captured by Russian troops in March of last year, in the opening days of Moscow’s invasion in Ukraine.

It remains close to the frontlines, and has repeatedly come under fire, raising fears of a nuclear disaster.

5:28am: Russia’s Lavrov visits Mali in sign of deepening ties

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Mali early Tuesday for talks with its junta leaders seeking Moscow’s help in battling an Islamist insurgency that remains entrenched despite years of fighting.

Lavrov, who was in Iraq on Monday, was welcomed upon his arrival by his counterpart Abdoulaye Diop. The two men did not make any statements to journalists. The visit of fewer than 24 hours will be his third trip to Africa since July, part of a bid to expand Russia’s presence on the continent amid broad international isolation after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Since taking control of Mali in two coups since August 2020, the military junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita has embraced Russian support to aid its anti-jihadist fight after successfully demanding that French troops leave.

1:21am: Ukraine withdraws 19 million Russian and Soviet-era books from libraries

Ukraine had withdrawn from its libraries about 19 million copies of books by last November that came either from the Soviet era or were in Russian, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.

Yevheniya Kravchuk, deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament’s committee on humanitarian and information policy, said that of the 19 million books, 11 million were in Russian.

“Some Ukrainian-language books from the Soviet era are also written off,” Kravchuk said according to a statement published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament. “There are also recommendations to write off and remove books whose authors supported armed aggression against Ukraine.” It was not immediately clear what happened to the withdrawn books.

12:02am: Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine

Russia was pouring reinforcements into eastern Ukraine ahead of a new offensive that could begin next week along a front where there have been relentless battles for months, a Ukrainian governor said.

Desperate for Western military aid to arrive, Ukraine anticipates a major offensive could be launched by Russia for “symbolic” reasons around the February 24 anniversary of the invasion. Ukraine is itself planning a spring offensive to recapture lost territory, but awaiting delivery of promised longer-range Western missiles and battle tanks, with some analysts saying the country was months away from being ready.

“We are seeing more and more (Russian) reserves being deployed in our direction, we are seeing more equipment being brought in,” said Serhiy Haidai, Ukrainian governor of the mainly Russian-occupied Luhansk province.

“They bring ammunition that is used differently than before – it is not round-the-clock shelling anymore. They are slowly starting to save, getting ready for a full-scale offensive,” Haidai told Ukrainian television.

“It will most likely take them 10 days to gather reserves. After February 15 we can expect (this offensive) at any time.”


© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)


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