British defence secretary Ben Wallace is doing a media round of UK outlets from Brussels, and said on Sky News on Wednesday that allies could help Ukraine more quickly by supporting their position on the ground rather than focusing on the provision of jets.
Wallace has argued that fighter jets require a “very substantial pit crew” and that Britain could provide more immediate support through the provision of long range weapons and anti-aircraft missiles.
“I think we can help Ukraine sooner by delivering the effects they need on the battlefield rather than the platform specific request,” Reuters report he said.
Nato countries should spend a minimum of 2% of their GDP on defence, said German defence minister Boris Pistorius on Wednesday as Nato defence ministers gathered in Brussels.
“Just spending two percent will not be enough. It must be the basis for everything that follows. The German government is debating that right now and will soon reach an agreement,” Reuters reports Pistorius told the media.
Here are some of the latest images sent to us from Ukraine across the news wires.
That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. My colleague Martin Belam will bring you the latest for the next while.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has not mentioned any significant setbacks in Luhansk in its morning update on Wednesday.
The Kremlin has intensified attacks across a swathe of southern and eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, and a major new offensive has been widely anticipated.
Russia’s main effort has been focused on the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk province adjacent to Luhansk.
The General Staff said Ukrainian units had repelled attacks in the areas of more than 20 settlements, including Bakhmut as well as Vuhledar – a town 150 km (90 miles) southwest of Bakhmut.
More now on that poll from AP.
US president Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that the United States will help Ukraine for “as long as it takes”. Privately, administration officials have warned Ukrainian officials that there is a limit to the patience of a narrowly divided Congress — and American public — for the costs of a war with no clear end. Congress approved about $113bn in economic, humanitarian and military spending in 2022.
The poll shows 19% of Americans have a great deal of confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the situation in Ukraine, while 37% say they have only some confidence and 43% have hardly any.
Views of Biden’s handling of the war divide largely along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 40% say they have a great deal of confidence in Biden to handle the situation, 50% have some confidence and 9% have hardly any. Among Republicans, a large majority (76%) say they have hardly any confidence. Those numbers are largely unchanged since last May.
Support among the American public for providing Ukraine weaponry and direct economic assistance has softened as the Russian invasion nears the one-year mark, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
48% say they favour the US providing weapons to Ukraine, with 29% opposed and 22% saying they’re neither in favour nor opposed. In May 2022, less than three months into the war, 60% of US adults said they were in favor of sending Ukraine weapons.
Americans are about evenly divided on sending government funds directly to Ukraine, with 37% in favour and 38% opposed, with 23% saying neither. The signs of diminished support for Ukraine come as President Joe Biden is set to travel to Poland next week to mark the first anniversary of the biggest conflict in Europe since the second world war.
The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament will hold extraordinary meeting on 22 February, RIA Novosti news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a senior lawmaker.
The head of a Federation Council committee, Vyacheslav Timchenko, told RIA the meeting would focus on adoption of laws on the integration of four regions into the Russian Federation.
Last year Moscow moved to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions in Ukraine in a move condemned by most countries of the United Nations as illegal.
RIA quoted a source as saying that State Duma, a lower chamber, will gather in the morning on 22 February while Federation Council’s extraordinary session will start at 12:00 GMT.
President Vladimir Putin will deliver his annual address to the federal assembly – a joint meeting of Russia’s two houses of parliament – on 21 February.
At least 6,000 children from Ukraine have attended Russian “re-education” camps in the past year, with several hundred held there for weeks or months beyond their scheduled return date, according to a new report published in the US.
Russia has also unnecessarily expedited the adoption and fostering of children from Ukraine in what could constitute a war crime, the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab report found. The report was funded by the US state department.
Since the start of the war nearly a year ago, children as young as four months have been taken to 43 camps across Russia, including in Moscow-annexed Crimea and Siberia, for “pro-Russia patriotic and military-related education”, said the report.
In at least two of the camps, the children’s return date was delayed by weeks, while at two other camps, the return of some children was postponed indefinitely.
Russian authorities sought to provide a pro-Moscow viewpoint to children through school curricula as well as through field trips to patriotic sites and talks from veterans, the report found:
Nato defence ministers are meeting today in Brussels, where the alliance’s head Jens Stoltenberg urged Western countries to boost supplies to Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Stoltenberg urged members of the transatlantic military alliance to ramp up ammunition production for Ukraine as he warned Vladimir Putin was preparing for new offensives and attacks.
“We see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. What we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, for new offensives and new attacks,” Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg said the question of supplying fighter jets to Ukraine was on the agenda but “not the most urgent issue now”.
Instead, he said, “the urgent issue right now is to deliver what has always been promised”, namely armoured vehicles, including German Marders and US Bradleys, Leopard battle tanks and others. “We need the training, we need the equipment, we need the ammunition and that’s exactly what allies are now providing and will be a top issue at the meetings today here at Nato.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia was in a hurry to achieve as much as it could with its latest offensive before Kyiv and its allies could gather strength.
“That is why speed is of the essence. Speed in everything – adopting decisions, carrying out decisions, shipping supplies, training. Speed saves people’s lives, speed brings back security,” he said in an evening video address.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments for the next few hours.
Our top stories this morning. Nato members will meet for a second day in Brussels to discuss sending supplies to Ukraine.
Nato defence ministers met on Tuesday to discuss the war and stockpiles, after which Zelenskiy said Russia was in a hurry to achieve as much as it could with its latest push before Ukraine and its allies could gather strength.
“That is why speed is of the essence,” he said in an evening video address.
“Speed in everything – adopting decisions, carrying out decisions, shipping supplies, training. Speed saves people’s lives, speed brings back security, and I thank all our partners who realise that speed is important.”
And at least 6,000 children from Ukraine have attended Russian “re-education” camps in the past year, with several hundred held there for weeks or months beyond their scheduled return date, according to a new report published in the US.
More on these stories shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key recent developments:
Russia has lost “strategically, operationally and tactically”, Gen Mark Milley, chairman of America’s joint chiefs of staff, has said. Speaking at a joint news conference with US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin, Milley said Russians were “paying an enormous price on the battlefield” in Ukraine.
Lloyd Austin has said he expects Ukraine to conduct an offensive against Russia in the spring. Speaking at a news conference following a meeting of the Ukraine defence contact group, Austin said Russia is introducing a number of new troops to the battlefield but that many are ill-trained and ill-equipped. Russia has “inflicted a year of tragedy and terror” on its neighbour Ukraine, he said.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday that supplying Ukraine with fighter jets was not a focus at the moment but would certainly be discussed. Securing Ukraine’s airspace is the priority, he told Germany’s ARD television. “Only when the skies over Ukraine remain safe over the next three, four months, then you can talk about all other further steps,” he said.
Ukrainian forces have reportedly blown up a bridge near the eastern city of Bakhmut, in a sign they may be planning to retreat from the area. Ukraine denies it intends to leave Bakhmut, despite six months of heavy fighting. The capture of Bakhmut would give Russia a significant symbolic boost ahead of the first anniversary of the war.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner group whose mercenaries have been fighting for months to take the eastern city of Bakhmut, has said the battle is far from over. In a Telegram post, Prigozhin said Ukraine was reinforcing with up to 500 new fighters a day. “Bakhmut will not be taken tomorrow, because there is heavy resistance and grinding, the meat grinder is working,” he said, adding “We will not be celebrating in the near future.”
Russian forces have made incremental progress in the last day or two in their assault on the Ukrainian city of Bahkmut but it is unclear if it will fall, the White House has said. John Kirby, the US national security council spokesperson, added that if Bakhmut were to fall to the Russians “it would not have a strategic impact on the overall war”.
A British national has died in Ukraine, the UK government has said. The identity of the individual is not yet known, but their family has been informed. They are believed to be the eighth British national to have died in Ukraine since the war began last February.
One Ukrainian worker was killed and many have been hurt in recent days trying to repair the power network following Russian airstrikes, according to energy minister German Galushchenko. Russia unleashed a wave of airstrikes on Friday, targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and causing emergency power outages for millions of people. In a statement, Galushchenko and Ukraine’s grid operator Ukrenergy said the country was producing enough energy to meet consumers’ needs.