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Waves of Russian troops 'crushed' in fresh assault on strategic eastern town

Anastasia, 4, stands next to an artwork of the famous street artist Tvboy in the town centre outside Kyiv - VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS
Anastasia, 4, stands next to an artwork of the famous street artist Tvboy in the town centre outside Kyiv - VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

Waves of Russian troops are being "crushed" during a fresh assault on a strategically important town in eastern Ukraine.

Mykola Salamakha, a Ukrainian colonel and military analyst, said that Moscow's assault on the Donetsk coal-mining town of Vuhledar, which is south of Bakhmut, was coming at a huge cost.

"This is a repetition of the situation in Bakhmut - one wave of Russian troops after another crushed by the Ukrainian armed forces," he told Ukrainian Radio NV, adding that an "extremely strong defensive hub" had been created there.

It comes as Russia's defence ministry said its troops had taken up "more advantageous positions" in Vuhledar and inflicted losses on Ukrainian forces.

Last night, Volodymr Zelensky said: "The situation is very tough. Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other sectors in Donetsk region - there are constant Russian attacks."


03:00 PM

What we learned today

  • Poland announced a sharp increase in defence spending on Monday, with the prime minister saying the country needed to arm itself "faster" in light of Russia's war in Ukraine.

  • The Kremlin accused Boris Johnson, the former British Prime Minister, of "lying" when he said President Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.

  • Nato’s Secretary General has urged South Korea to reconsider its policy of not sending weapons to countries in conflict and join international efforts to arm Ukraine.

  • Rishi Sunak said Britain should be "really proud" of the action it has taken in standing up to Russian aggression.

  • Mykhaylo Podolyak, the Ukrainian Presidential aide, has called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a "promoter of war" after the sports body said it was considering ways for Russian athletes to compete.

Please follow along tomorrow for all the latest updates on Ukraine.


02:56 PM

Ukraine plans $550 million drone investment in 2023

Ukraine's military will spend nearly $550 million on drones in 2023, and 16 supply deals have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine's defence minister, said on Monday.

"In 2023, we are increasing the procurement of UAVs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Reznikov wrote on Facebook. "We plan to allocate about 20 billion hryvnias ($547.05 million) to this segment."

Ukraine has received significant supplies of UAVs from its partners, from Turkey's missile-equipped Bayraktar TB2 to the Norwegian-made Black Hornet reconnaissance drone, which weighs less than 33 grams.

Kyiv is now seeking to boost domestic production to build what officials cast as an "army of drones".

"The independence of the military-industrial complex is one of the factors of the country's defence capability," Reznikov wrote.


02:49 PM

Comment: The West must face down Putin’s nuclear brinkmanship

As the war in Ukraine enters its twelve month with no clear end in sight, Moscow is once hinting at the use of nuclear weapons.

Last week former president and close Putin-ally Dmitry Medvedev sent a stark warning to European leaders, saying that “nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends."

This was swiftly followed by a prominent Russian commentator calling for a nuclear strike against Berlin in retaliation against Germany’s decision to allow its Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine.

Read the full story from Robert Clark here


02:31 PM

New US ambassador to Russia heckled by pro-Kremlin protesters

Lynne Tracy, the United States' new ambassador to Russia, was heckled by a crowd of people chanting anti-US slogans on Monday as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow to present her diplomatic credentials.

The group held hand-painted placards carrying messages criticising Washington, one of which read "Your tanks are killing civilians".

US ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy walks out of the headquarters of Russia's foreign ministry after a meeting in Moscow - SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/REUTERS
US ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy walks out of the headquarters of Russia's foreign ministry after a meeting in Moscow - SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/REUTERS

Protests in Russia - particularly on issues related to the war - are effectively banned unless they have the backing of the authorities.


02:15 PM

Boris Johnson lying about Putin missile threat, says Kremlin

The Kremlin has accused Boris Johnson, the former British Prime Minister, of "lying" when he said President Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told reporters that what Johnson said was not true, or "more precisely, a lie".

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Johnson said that the Russian leader had threatened him with a missile strike that would "only take a minute".

"He threatened me at one point, and he said, 'Boris, I don't want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute' or something like that," Mr Johnson said.


02:03 PM

Ukrainians to get millions of LED light bulbs to ease energy shortfall

Ukrainians were urged on Monday to swap old light bulbs for free energy-efficient LED bulbs under a scheme intended to ease an energy shortfall caused by Russian attacks.

Launching a programme backed by the European Union and aimed at replacing 50 million light bulbs, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said all adults would be able to exchange five incandescent light bulbs for five LED bulbs at post offices.

The goal is in the next few months to reduce by a quarter the energy deficit caused by Russian missile and drone strikes on power infrastructure that have frequently left millions of Ukrainians without light, water or heating.

"Ukraine is fighting on military, economic and energy fronts," Svyrydenko told a news briefing. "It is an important step to reduce pressure on Ukraine's energy system."

One LED bulb uses eight times less electricity than the older bulbs, she said.


01:37 PM

Pictured: Inside a hospital in Kharkiv

Surgery takes place on a soldier with shrapnel wounds in this left leg at a hospital in the Kharkiv region - JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph/JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph
Surgery takes place on a soldier with shrapnel wounds in this left leg at a hospital in the Kharkiv region - JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph/JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph
Surgery takes place on a soldier with shrapnel wounds in this left leg at a hospital in the Kharkiv region - JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph/JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph
Surgery takes place on a soldier with shrapnel wounds in this left leg at a hospital in the Kharkiv region - JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph/JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph
Oleksei Kuznetsov, 35, recovers at hospital in the Kharkiv region - JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph/JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph
Oleksei Kuznetsov, 35, recovers at hospital in the Kharkiv region - JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph/JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph

01:21 PM

Zelensky meets Danish prime minister in southern Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelensky met Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during a trip to the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Monday.

Video footage posted online by Zelenskiy's office showed the president greeting Frederiksen with a handshake on a snowy street before entering a hospital where they met soldiers wounded in Russia's invasion.

"It is important for our warriors to be able to undergo not only physical, but also psychological rehabilitation," Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "I am grateful to all the medical workers who care about the health of our defenders. I wish them a speedy recovery!"

Zelensky's office gave no immediate details of his discussions with Frederiksen.


12:51 PM

Slovenia detains two suspected Russian spies

Slovenian authorities said on Monday the EU country's intelligence services had detained two suspected spies, with media reports saying they were allegedly working for Russia.

The Ljubljana Public Prosecution confirmed two men had been detained in December suspected of spying for a foreign country, but did not give more details since the investigation was still under way.

"The court has ordered a criminal investigation that is still being carried out against the two suspects who were detained on December 5," public prosecutor Katarina Bergant told AFP.

The detainees are members of the Russian military intelligence organisation GRU and had false identities, Slovenian daily Delo said.

The two had registered a real estate and antiques business in Ljubljana as a cover-up, with one of them holding Argentine citizenship, it added.


12:30 PM

Iran and Russia link banking systems amid Western sanctions

Iran and Russia have connected their interbank communication and transfer systems to help boost trade and financial transactions, a senior Iranian official said on Monday, as both Tehran and Moscow are chafing under Western sanctions.

Since the 2018 reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran after Washington ditched Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the Islamic Republic has been disconnected from the Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging service, which is a key international banking access point.

Similar limitations have been slapped on some Russian banks since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last year.

"Iranian banks no longer need to use SWIFT ... with Russian banks, which can be for the opening of Letters of Credit and transfers or warranties," Deputy Governor of Iran's Central Bank, Mohsen Karimi, told the semi-official Fars news agency.


12:12 PM

Ukraine-Russia in pictures

Ukrainian servicemen carry a coffin with the body of their brother-in-arms Vitalii Svintsitskyi - PAVLO PALAMARCHUK/REUTERS
Ukrainian servicemen carry a coffin with the body of their brother-in-arms Vitalii Svintsitskyi - PAVLO PALAMARCHUK/REUTERS
Picture shows Russian Su-35S fighter on a combat mission in Ukraine in undated footage released by the Russian MoD - Ministry of Defense of Russia/Newsflash/Ministry of Defense of Russia/Newsflash
Picture shows Russian Su-35S fighter on a combat mission in Ukraine in undated footage released by the Russian MoD - Ministry of Defense of Russia/Newsflash/Ministry of Defense of Russia/Newsflash
Ukrainian rescuers access at the debris for clearing at a residential building, partially destroyed after a missile strike on Kharkiv - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP
Ukrainian rescuers access at the debris for clearing at a residential building, partially destroyed after a missile strike on Kharkiv - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP

11:52 AM

Ryanair hiring Ukrainian staff in anticipation of return after war

Ryanair is hiring significant numbers of Ukrainian pilots and cabin crew so that it will be ready to return to the country when the war with Russia ends, Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on Monday.

"We are very committed to returning to Ukraine as soon as it is safe to do so," said O'Leary, who had said on the eve of the conflict that he was considering basing up to 20 aircraft in the country.

"We are hiring quite a number of Ukraine pilots and cabin crew specifically so that we can ... restore bases in Ukraine if and when it is safe to do so," O'Leary told analysts after the release of third-quarter financial results.


11:39 AM

PM: Britain should be 'really proud' of the action it has taken in standing up to Russian aggression

Rishi Sunak said Britain should be "really proud" of the action it has taken in standing up to Russian aggression.

He stressed that the UK has recently provided heavy tanks - Challenger 2s - to Ukraine to help with its defence.

"We were the first major country to do that. What that has led to is other countries, like America and like Germany, saying they will do the same thing," he said during a Q&A in County Durham.

"That is really important because it will provide the support that Ukraine needs to, hopefully, make more progress against Russia over the early part of this year."

Mr Sunak added: "When I was chancellor, we increased funding in the armed forces by a record amount because we recognised that the world was changing and becoming a less safe place."


11:20 AM

Argentina rules out sending weapons to Ukraine

Alberto Fernandez, the Argentine President, has ruled out sending weapons to Ukraine.

When asked if Argentina would send weapons to Ukraine to fend off Russian troops like Germany and its western allies had, he gave an emphatic no.

"Argentina and Latin America are not planning to send weapons to Ukraine or any other conflict zone," he told a joint news conference with Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, in Buenos Aires.

But Mr Fernandez said that Argentina, like Germany, wanted to help restore peace as soon as possible.


11:09 AM

Kyiv calls International Olympic Committee 'promoter of war'

Mykhaylo Podolyak, the Ukrainian Presidential aide, has called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a "promoter of war" after the sports body said it was considering ways for Russian athletes to compete.

"[The] IOC is a promoter of war, murder and destruction. The IOC watches with pleasure Russia destroying Ukraine and then offers Russia a platform to promote genocide and encourages their further killings. Obviously Russian money that buys Olympic hypocrisy doesn't have a smell of Ukrainian blood," Mr Podolyak said on Twitter.

In response, an IOC spokesperson said: “The IOC rejects in the strongest possible terms this and other defamatory statements. They cannot serve as a basis for any constructive discussion. Therefore, the IOC will not further comment on them.”


10:49 AM

Watch: Boris Johnson claims Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike

Boris Johnson has said Vladimir Putin threatened to kill him with a "missile," and added it "would only take a minute".

Following his visit to Kyiv in early February last year, Mr Johnson told the BBC he had a “very long, most extraordinary call” with the Russian president.

After the then prime minister described the likely sanctions response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin replied: “Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute,” Mr Johnson recalled.

The Kremlin hit back at the claims and accused Mr Johnson of "lying".

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told reporters that what Johnson said was not true, or "more precisely, a lie".


10:45 AM

Russia seeks 'new level' of China ties

Russia said that it wanted to take ties with China to a "new level" and was looking forward to face-to-face talks with Beijing's leadership as a Russian newspaper reported that China's top diplomat would visit Moscow in February.

"We are convinced that the potential for Russian-Chinese bilateral cooperation is still far from exhausted," Russia's foreign ministry said.

Russia aims to reach its target of $200 billion worth of trade between the two countries ahead of schedule and to "significantly deepen" its ties with Beijing, it said.

The deepening "no limits" partnership between the rising superpower of China and the natural resources titan of Russia is being watched by the West with some anxiety, though it is unclear just how deep the partnership is.

China has refrained from condemning Russia's operation against Ukraine or calling it an "invasion" in line with the Kremlin which casts the war as "a special military operation".


10:33 AM

Pictured: A view from the Odessa city opera

A general view from the Oleksandr Rodin's opera "Kateryna" based on the poem by T. G. Shevchenko as people watch during the world premiere, at the Odessa City Opera in Ukraine - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
A general view from the Oleksandr Rodin's opera "Kateryna" based on the poem by T. G. Shevchenko as people watch during the world premiere, at the Odessa City Opera in Ukraine - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

10:07 AM

Poland to raise defence budget to 4 per cent of GDP

Poland has announced a sharp increase in defence spending, with the prime minister saying the country needed to arm itself "faster" in light of Russia's war in Ukraine.

The country's defence budget will amount to four percent of gross domestic product this year, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters.

The parliament approved last week a 2023 budget that included 97.4 billion zloty ($22.5 billion) for the military, or three percent of GDP, which has yet to be signed by the president.

"The war in Ukraine makes us arm ourselves even faster. That is why this year we will make an unprecedented effort: four percent of GDP for the Polish army," Morawiecki said.


09:57 AM

'War in Europe'

The Government should reverse "swathing cuts" to the army because its equipment has become "obsolete" and we are at "war in Europe", the chairman of the Defence Select Committee has said.

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP, told Sky News: "The army is in a dire state. Our army is simply too small, we have cut down by 10,000 troops.

"I do hope the defence review will look at these issues and reverse some of the swathing cuts that were made a couple of years ago.

"It is up to the Treasury and Number 10 to recognise the world is changing - we are now at war in Europe, we need to move to a war footing.

"We have become complacent. We need invest to make sure we retain people, the good people that are there, but there are not enough of them and the equipment is now obsolete."


09:37 AM

Iran summons senior Ukraine diplomat over comments on drone strike

Iran summoned Ukraine's charge d'affaires in Tehran on Monday over his country's comments on a drone strike on a military factory in the central Iranian province of Isfahan, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying hundreds of drones to Russia to attack civilian targets in Ukrainian cities far from the front, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy linked the incident directly to the war there.


09:20 AM

Ukraine in pictures:

A man walks near a destroyed Russian tank with an artwork of the famous street artist Tvboy in the village of Dmytrivka - VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS
A man walks near a destroyed Russian tank with an artwork of the famous street artist Tvboy in the village of Dmytrivka - VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS
Armoured personnel carriers ride on a road near a frontline in Donetsk - VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/REUTERS
Armoured personnel carriers ride on a road near a frontline in Donetsk - VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/REUTERS

09:15 AM

Russian missile kills one in Kharkiv apartment blast

A Russian missile strike killed an elderly woman in Kharkiv on Sunday, and wounded three others on Sunday, after an attack on an apartment building.

Oleh Synehubov, the regional Governor of Kharkiv, said a Russian strike hit "a four-storey residential building".

"Three victims received minor injuries. Unfortunately, an elderly woman died ... The building was partially destroyed," Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram.

Synehubov said that rescue operations were ongoing.

Pictures from the scene show a fire engulfing part of a residential building in the country's second most-populous city.


09:02 AM

Nato's chief urges South Korea to step up military support for Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato Secretary-General, urged South Korea on Monday to increase military support to Ukraine, citing other countries that have changed their policy of not providing weapons to countries in conflict after Russia's invasion.

Speaking at the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul, he thanked South Korea for its non-lethal aid to Ukraine, but urged it to do more, adding there is an "urgent need" for ammunition. Russia calls the invasion a "special operation".

"If we don't want autocracy and tyranny to win, then (the Ukrainians) need weapons, that's the reality," he said.

Stoltenberg is in Seoul, the first stop on a trip that will include Japan and is aimed at strengthening ties with US allies in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.


08:46 AM

Russian soldiers offered £58k to ‘destroy or capture’ western tanks in Ukraine

A Russian business is offering a cash reward as a prize to the first soldiers who destroy Western-made tanks in Ukraine.

Russian soldiers who "capture or destroy" German-made Leopard 2 or US made Abrams tanks will be paid in cash.

Fores, a Urals-based energy firm, is offering five million roubles (roughly £58,000), to the first Russian soldier to destroy one of the tanks, and 500,000 roubles (roughly $5,800) for all subsequent attacks.

It also said it would pay a 15-million rouble (roughly £174, 000)  bounty on Western-made fighter jets, should they ever be delivered to Ukraine.

Last week, Ukraine finally secured US-made Abrams tanks and German-made Leopard tanks following months of bickering among allies. It quickly made clear that modern Western fighter jets would be its next priority.


08:46 AM

Latest MoD update


08:08 AM

Zelensky condemns 'constant Russian attacks'

Volodymr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has said the country is facing a difficult situation in Donetsk, and needed faster weapons supplies and new types of weaponry.

"The situation is very tough. Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other sectors in Donetsk region - there are constant Russian attacks," President Zelensky said in a video address late on Sunday.

"Russia wants the war to drag on and exhaust our forces.

So we have to make time our weapon.

We have to speed up events, speed up supplies and open up new weapons options for Ukraine."


08:01 AM

Russia says nuclear arms treaty with US may end after 2026

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said that it was "quite possible" the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States would end after 2026.

"This is quite a possible scenario," the deputy foreign minister told the RIA news agency.

US-Russia talks on resuming inspections under the New START treaty, which expires in February 2026, were called off at the last minute in November 2022.

Neither side has agreed on a time frame for new talks.


07:58 AM

Pictured: Aftermath of Kharkiv apartment strike

Rescuers work at the site where an apartment building was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike - STRINGER/REUTERS
Rescuers work at the site where an apartment building was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike - STRINGER/REUTERS
Ukrainian rescue workers disassemble the damaged structures of a building in the center of Kharkiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Ukrainian rescue workers disassemble the damaged structures of a building in the center of Kharkiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Ukrainian rescue workers disassemble the damaged structures of a building in the center of Kharkiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Ukrainian rescue workers disassemble the damaged structures of a building in the center of Kharkiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

07:54 AM

China's top diplomat to visit Moscow in February, reports suggest

Wang Yi, the senior Chinese diplomat, is set to visit Moscow in February, Russia's Vedomosti newspaper said on Monday, citing two sources.

According to the newspaper, Wang may visit Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the sources said.

Reuters was not able to immediately verify the report.


07:51 AM

Good Morning

Good morning and welcome to today's Ukraine liveblog.