AS IT HAPPENED

Zelensky says talks on Western tank exports 'must end with decisions'

In this file handout picture taken and released on December 20, 2022 by the Ukrainian presidential press services, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut.
In this file handout picture taken and released on December 20, 2022 by the Ukrainian presidential press services, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut. ? AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said tank transfer talks "must end with decisions", shortly after telling French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that Russian athletes should have "no place" at the 2024 Paris Olympics. The day also marked?11 months since the start of the war.?Follow our blog to see how the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

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This live blog is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage on the war in Ukraine, please click here.

3:00am:?Washington's possible tank deliveries to Ukraine a 'blatant provocation' says?Russian ambassador

The possible deliveries of battle tanks by Washington?to Ukraine?will be a "another blatant provocation" against Russia, Anatoly Antonov, Russia's?ambassador to the United States, said on Wednesday.

"It is obvious that Washington is purposefully trying to?inflict a strategic defeat on us," Antonov said in remarks?published on the embassy's Telegram messaging app.

"If the United States decides to supply tanks, then?justifying such a step with arguments about 'defensive weapons'?will definitely not work. This would be another blatant?provocation against the Russian Federation."

10:36pm:?Zelensky says tank transfer talks 'must end with decisions'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said tank transfer talks "must end with decisions", highlighting that the issue is "not about 10 or 15 tanks", but that Ukraine needs more.??

9:32pm:?Two British aid workers killed during Ukraine evacuation

British voluntary aid workers Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw were killed during an attempted humanitarian evacuation in eastern Ukraine, Parry's family said on Tuesday, weeks after they were reported missing in the war-torn country.

"It is with great sadness we have to announce that our beloved Chrissy has been killed along with his colleague Andrew Bagshaw whilst attempting a humanitarian evacuation from Soledar, eastern Ukraine," his family said.

"His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud," they added, in a statement released by Britain's Foreign Office.

8:23pm: Swiss parliamentary commission says transfer of its arms to Ukraine should be permitted

A Swiss parliamentary commission voted Tuesday to request a change to the country's laws to allow its war material to be transferred via third countries to Ukraine.

Switzerland has so far refused to allow countries that hold Swiss-made weaponry to export it on to war-ravaged Ukraine, in line with its strict military neutrality

Under Switzerland's War Material Act, export requests cannot be approved if the recipient country is in an international armed conflict.

But the parliament's security policy committee decided Tuesday, with 14 votes in favour and 11 opposed, to back a motion to request a law change to make such transfers possible.

7:50pm:?Russian athletes should not compete at 2024 Paris Olympics, says Zelensky

Russian athletes should have "no place" at the 2024 Paris Olympics, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday as his country marked 11 months of war.

"I particularly emphasised that athletes from Russia should have no place at the Olympic Games in Paris," Zelensky wrote on Telegram following a telephone call with Macron.

7:17pm:?G7, partners vow to support Ukraine's energy sector, US?says

G7 and other partner countries on Tuesday pledged to maintain their support for Ukraine's energy sector, including delivering equipment and other humanitarian aid during winter, the US?State Department said following a meeting of the group's foreign ministers.

US?Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi co-hosted the meeting, in which countries also vowed to continuing coordinating on Ukraine's efforts to "modernize and decarbonize its energy grid," the department said after Tuesday's virtual meeting.

6:44pm:?25 killed in Russia border region since Ukraine assault, says?governor

Twenty-five people have been killed and more than 90 injured in Russia's border region of Belgorod since the start of Moscow's assault on Ukraine, the region's governor told President Vladimir Putin.

"Ukraine, the enemy, is targeting peaceful settlements. There are 25 dead, 96 people were wounded," governor Vyacheslav Gladkov told Putin in televised remarks.

This is the first time Russian officials have announced an official death toll for a Russian region since the start of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

6:17pm:?'We will hold our ground': Life in the trenches with a Ukrainian unit, near Krasnohorivka

A Ukrainian unit stands guard in a trench near Krasnohorivka, in Ukraine's Donetsk region. Oleksandr, one of its members, 26, explains that there is "electricity", "heating", as well as "tea" and "hot meals”. “It's enough for a normal life," he says, while showing us the place where he lives with his comrades. The latter are firing at Russian positions located about 500-600 metres from the trench, using various weapons, such as automatic pistols or grenade launchers.

Watch FRANCE 24's full report here:

'We will hold our ground': Life in the trenches with a Ukrainian unit, near Krasnohorivka (2023)
'We will hold our ground': Life in the trenches with a Ukrainian unit, near Krasnohorivka (2023) ? AFP / France 24

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6:08pm:?US flags some?concerning activities from Chinese?firms over Ukraine war, says?source

The US?has seen some concerning activities from Chinese companies in relation to the ongoing war in Ukraine and will continue to communicate to the Chinese government any implications of providing material support for Russia's invasion.

US?has observed some non-lethal military assistance and economic support from those Chinese companies that "stops short of wholesale sanctions evasion", the source said. The source also said it was unclear if the Chinese government was aware of these activities.

5:34pm:?Finland underscores training strength in Ukraine tank talks

Finland's president on Tuesday suggested the Nordic nation could offer its training capabilities to prospective tank units as European countries mull supplying Ukraine with powerful Leopard tanks.

"We are the few countries in Europe which still have conscripts. That means our training system is very developed," Sauli Niinisto said in a press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, during a surprise visit to Kyiv.

"They take in every year newcomers, train them and we have very experienced training and premises for trainees," he added.

5:04pm:?No military equipment found in Ukrainian nuclear plants, says?IAEA

An inspection of Ukrainian nuclear plants found no military equipment, debunking a claim from Russia, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi told the European Parliament on Tuesday.

4:27pm:?European Commission to present space defence plan in March

The European Commission will present a strategy to bolster the EU's security and defence efforts in space in March, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said Tuesday, with Russia's war in Ukraine raising tensions in space.

Moscow's invasion last year led to Europe and Russia calling off their previously close cooperation in space, delaying a range of missions and affecting European efforts to launch satellites.

"In the current geopolitical context, we need to enhance the Union's strategic posture to be able to defend our interests, protect our space systems and services and become a more assertive space power," Breton told the opening of the European Space Conference in Brussels.

4:19pm:?US?may drop opposition to sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, say?officials

The United States, in a reversal, appears to be dropping its opposition to sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine and an announcement could come as soon as this week, two US?officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were not aware of a final US?decision to send the Abrams to Ukraine, a move that could encourage Germany to follow.

The Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment.

4:12pm: Finland's top diplomat suggests?joining NATO without Sweden

Finland’s foreign minister suggested Tuesday that the country may consider joining NATO without neighbouring Sweden?if Turkey continues to block their joint bid to enter the military alliance.

Pekka Haavisto later backpedaled, but his comments were the first time a leading government official in either Nordic country appeared to raise doubts about becoming NATO members together, at a time when the alliance is seeking to present a united front in the face of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Sweden and Finland rushed to apply for NATO membership following Moscow's invasion, abandoning their long-standing non-alignment policy. To gain membership they need the approval of all existing NATO members,?including Turkey, which has so far blocked the expansion. Turkey has refused to greenlight Finland and Sweden's accession?saying Sweden in particular needs to crack down on exiled Kurdish militants and their sympathizers.

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3:49pm: Close combat marks 'hellish' battle at Ukraine's Marinka

In a conflict dominated by artillery, Ukrainian soldiers fighting for control of the eastern town of Marinka have been coming unusually close to Russian troops.

Russia has made a priority of capturing the industrial Donetsk region where Marinka is located, and Moscow's nearly year-long invasion has become a grinding war of attrition between long-range weapons.

But among the pancaked buildings in Marinka, which had a population of around 10,000 before the war and is now cut down the middle by the front line, Ukrainian soldiers have been coming suddenly face-to-face with the enemy.

"They could appear from behind a wall 10 to 20 metres (33 to 66 feet) from you, unexpectedly, climbing through the debris," said one member of Ukraine's 79th Brigade, who declined to give his name.

The soldiers fending off Russian troops in Marinka told AFP that, with no buildings left to shelter behind, they are fighting from basements, crouching behind chunks of remaining walls, rubble or debris.

3:44pm: Berlin will handle Poland's request with utmost urgency, says?senior official

The German government will handle with utmost urgency Poland's request to allow Warsaw the export of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the state secretary at the economy ministry said on Tuesday.

"I can only tell you: We will urgently work on taking a decision," Sven Giegold told a defence conference in Berlin organised by Handelsblatt, adding that the defence ministry was in the lead on the matter.

Poland is seeking a "quick" response from Germany for permission to send its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine. For more, FRANCE 24 is joined by Petro Burkovskiy, Executive Director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation:?

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3:17pm: Russia's Putin says stockpile needed to curb drug shortages

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that there were shortages of some medicines in Russia, despite the country producing more of its own drugs, and suggested building up stocks of popular medicines to help meet demand.

While prescription drugs are exempt from Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, their delivery to Russia has been hit by transport, insurance and customs hurdles caused by the war and other restrictive measures, industry figures say.

3:00pm: Ukraine PM says?energy supplies sufficient to see out the winter

Ukraine has enough coal and gas reserves for the remaining months of winter despite repeated Russian attacks on its energy system, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday.

Shmyhal said the situation in the energy sector remained difficult but under control after a months-long Russian campaign of drone and missile strikes on critical infrastructure that damaged about 40% of the energy system.

"For now all Russia's attempts to plunge Ukraine into darkness have failed," Shmyhal told a government meeting.

"We have enough reserves to continue and end the heating season in normal mode. About 11 billion cubic metres of gas are stored in gas storages and nearly 1.2 million tonnes of coal are in storages."

2:14pm:?Russia's Medvedev says Moscow has enough weapons

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev hit back on Tuesday at Western reports that Russia is running low on missiles and artillery, saying Moscow's weapons stocks were enough to continue fighting in Ukraine.

"Our opponents are watching, they periodically make statements that we don't have this or that ... I want to disappoint them. We have enough of everything," Medvedev said during a visit to a Kalashnikov factory in Izhevsk, around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) east of Moscow.

In a video posted on his Telegram channel, Medvedev was seen inspecting Kalashnikov rifles, artillery shells, missiles and drones.

1:41pm:?More EU sanctions should hit Russian arms production, says?Czech foreign minister

The European Union should introduce more sanctions against Russia's technology sector to curb Moscow's ability to produce arms and rockets it is using to wage war on Ukraine, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky told Reuters.

He spoke after EU member states' foreign ministers on Monday agreed to allocate another 500 million euros in military aid for Ukraine, as well as discussing more sanctions against Russia and how to hold the Kremlin accountable for starting the war 11 months ago.

"We need to be looking for new and creative ways of how to make our sanctions stronger... how to decrease (Russia's) ability to produce weapons, rockets used for shelling Ukraine's critical infrastructure," said Lipavsky.

1:21pm: Putin says Russian pharmacies are short on some medicines

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that inspections had revealed shortages of some medicines in Russian pharmacies.

Speaking at a meeting with government officials, he also said that the prices of some medicines had risen.

While prescription drugs are exempt from Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, their delivery to Russia has been hit by transport, insurance and customs hurdles caused by the war and other restrictive measures, industry figures say.

1:10pm: 'Huge amount of money' involved in Ukraine corruption scandal

As the Ukrainian government makes sweeping personnel changes at all levels, "some anti-corruption activists in Ukraine would say that Volodymyr Zelensky hasn't gone far enough today, because they are calling for the resignation of none other than the Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov", FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reported from Kyiv.

"That is because of this scandal in the defence ministry, which is accused of signing a contract to pay more than three times the market price for food for the armed forces, not on the front lines, where you might think that logistical problems would mean that it might be a bit more expensive, but in areas that are not right where the fighting is taking place," Cragg continued.

"And it is a huge amount of money that is involved in this scandal; the total amount in this contract is about 300 million euros, and so that would mean 200 million euros would have been stolen if that is indeed why these prices were so grossly inflated."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video link during a meeting of defence ministers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on January 20, 2023.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video link during a meeting of defence ministers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on January 20, 2023. ? Ukrainian Presidential Press Service, Reuters

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12:30pm: Poland trying to respect Germany's 'dignity'

Warsaw has officially requested a green light to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine. "Poland has already said it will not need Germany's authorisation to send in those tanks, so I think it's doing all it can to respect procedure; to respect Germany's [...] dignity in terms of diplomacy and its image internationally," FRANCE 24's Nick Spicer reported from Berlin.

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11:48am: Decision on supplying tanks to Kyiv 'purely political', German defence chief says

The decision about the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine will be taken solely at the political level, Germany's Chief of Defence Eberhard Zorn said on Tuesday.

"This is purely a political decision," he said at a defence conference in Berlin organised by Handelsblatt.

11:05am: Kremlin says 'nothing good' would come of German tanks in Ukraine

The Kremlin said Tuesday that "nothing good" would come of German-made Leopard tanks being delivered to Ukraine, as pressure grows on Berlin sign off on deliveries of the weaponry to Kyiv.

"These deliveries would bring nothing good to the future relationship" between Berlin and Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in his daily briefing, adding: "They will leave a lasting mark."

11:02am: Belarus's Lukashenko says Ukraine has proposed a non-aggression pact with Minsk

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Ukraine had proposed a non-aggression pact with his country, the Belta state news agency reported.

Lukashenko was cited as disclosing the alleged offer to a meeting of government and law enforcement officials at which he also accused the West of arming militants in Ukraine who could potentially destabilise the situation in Belarus.

10:15am: Germany says allies can start training Ukrainians to use Leopard tanks

Germany's defence minister said Tuesday that allies could start training Ukrainian forces on using Leopard tanks, even though a decision is still pending from Berlin on whether to allow delivery of the armaments to Kyiv.

"I have expressly encouraged partner countries that have Leopard tanks that are ready for deployment to train Ukrainian forces on these tanks," said Boris Pistorius.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the "clear message" from Pistorius, "because after a decision has been taken on the delivery on battle tanks, it will take some time to identify, to make them ready and to train Ukrainian" soldiers to use them.

10:05am: No indications Putin has changed his goals on Ukraine, NATO's Stoltenberg says

Western allies must provide Ukraine with heavier weapons to repel Russia's invasion as Moscow has shown no signs of changing course, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

"We have no indication that President (Vladimir) Putin has changed his goals... The only way to lasting peace is to make it clear to Putin that he will not win on the battlefield. Therefore, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems," Stoltenberg said during a visit to Berlin.

9:42am: Germany says no decision yet on Leopard tanks for Ukraine

Germany will help Ukraine to win the war against Russia, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said Tuesday, adding however that a decision has yet to be made on whether Berlin would supply Leopard tanks to Kyiv.

"We are supporting Ukraine not to lose this war, to win it against Russia," Pistorius said in an interview with the broadcaster ZDF. "And to that end, Germany is doing more than practically any other ally except the US," he said.

Asked when Germany was planning to make a decision on German-made Leopard tanks long sought by Kyiv, Pistorius said it was not up to him. "This decision will be made in the chancellery," he said.

8:56am: Ukrainian deputy defence minister resigns, citing 'baseless' corruption allegations

Ukraine's deputy defence minister responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment resigned on Tuesday morning, citing "media accusations" of corruption that he and the ministry say are baseless.

A statement on the defence ministry's website said that Vyacheslav Shapovalov's resignation was "a worthy deed" that would help retain trust in the ministry.

8:35am: Finland must consider joining NATO without Sweden, Finnish FM says

Finland must consider joining NATO without Sweden, the Finnish foreign minister said Tuesday, after Turkey indicated it would not approve Sweden's bid following a burning of the Koran outside its Stockholm embassy.

"We have to assess the situation, whether something has happened that in the longer term would prevent Sweden from going ahead," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said, adding that it was "too early to take a position on that now" and that a joint application remains the "first option".

4:35am: Ukraine sanctions 22 associated with Russian Orthodox Church

Ukraine has imposed sanctions on 22 Russians associated with the Russian Orthodox Church for what President Volodymyr Zelensky said was their support of genocide under the cloak of religion.

According to a decree issued by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the list includes Mikhail Gundayev, who represents the Russian Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches and other international organizations in Geneva. Russian state media reported that Gundayev is a nephew of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, whom Ukraine sanctioned last year.

? France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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