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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Feb. 13

The coffin of Oleksandr Maksymenko, 38, is carried by Ukrainian officers during his funeral in his home-village Kniazhychi, east of Kyiv, Feb. 13, 2023. Oleksandr, a civilian who was a volunteer in the armed forces of Ukraine, was killed in the fighting in the Bakhmut area.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia's war on Ukraine. All times EST.

11 p.m.: The U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted: Missiles continue to be fired at the Ukrainian people.

Throughout this war, the Kremlin has cynically targeted civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Yet it claimed that it would only carry out “surgical strikes” on military targets.

10:25 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about the importance of Ukraine's diplomacy efforts.

“In general, Ukrainian diplomacy has a clear task: to reach all regions of the world where our position is not yet well represented, to make Ukraine and Ukrainian interests understandable to all those states and nations with whom we do not yet have stable ties,” Zelenskyy said. “This concerns Asian destinations, as well as Africa and Latin America.”

9:05 p.m.: The Institute for the Study of War tweeted: #Russian sources claimed that #Russia may build a Black Sea Fleet base in occupied #Mariupol.

8:10 p.m.:

7:04 p.m.: Ukraine is urging allies for more weapons to fight Russia but experts warn the West is struggling to produce enough ammunition for the arms it has already donated to Kyiv, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions, and depleting allied stockpiles," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told journalists on Monday.

"The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defence industries under strain."

Stoltenberg admitted that the Western military alliance was facing a "problem," as waiting times for large-calibre ammunition had grown from 12 to 28 months.

5:47 p.m.: Russian athletes should publicly denounce the war if they are to be allowed to participate in the 2024 Olympics, Kyiv mayor and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko told Agence France-Presse.

"Russian and Belarusian athletes can't participate in the Olympic Games in Paris if they don't say 'no' to war," Klitschko said.

"If they publicly express against this war, they can (participate). But they're afraid," the former heavyweight boxer said.

Russia and its ally Belarus, which allowed its territory to be used as a launchpad when Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine last February, have been sidelined from most Olympic sports since the war began.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a boycott of the 2024 Paris Olympics if Russian athletes are allowed to take part.

4:56 p.m.: The Institute for the Study of War tweeted: The #Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate released an intercepted call excerpt of #Shahed drone operators in UKR speaking in Kurdish and Farsi and stated that #Russian forces may be using Kurdish mercenaries to operate #Iranian drones in UKR.

4:05 p.m.: Fourteen years after a financial crisis nearly brought Dubai to its knees, several major abandoned real estate projects are finally showing signs of life as part of a new economic boom in the city-state, The Associated Press reported.

As with previous upturns in Dubai, war is a driving force. But this time it’s Russian investors fleeing Moscow’s war on Ukraine, rather than people escaping Mideast battlefields.

“There’s lots of parts of the world where there are real challenges and people looking for a safe haven,” said Richard Waind, group managing director for Betterhomes, a real estate brokerage in the emirate. “I think that’s a safe haven both for the capital but also for their families.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury is worried about the amount of Russian money flowing into the real estate market of the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

“In theory, there should be significant reputational risk with the UAE apparently acting as a willing bridge, enabling Russian oligarchs to use the Emirates as a waystation between the Russian financial system and that of the West,” said Jodi Vittori, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has written extensively on Dubai being a money-laundering haven.

3:18 p.m.: Argentine officials have blamed organized "mafias" for promoting birth tourism to the South American country by Russian mothers-to-be amid a boom in numbers traveling there since the invasion of Ukraine looking to get their children citizenship, Reuters reported.

Thousands of expectant Russian mothers have arrived in Argentina over the last year, including 33 on a single flight last week, which threw a spotlight on the trend. Some were detained and officials launched a crackdown on the practice.

Florencia Carignano, head of Argentina's immigration office, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that "mafia organizations were profiting by offering packages to obtain our passport to people who do not actually want to reside in our country."

Russians can travel to Argentina without a visa, where all newborns are granted citizenship automatically, making it an attractive destination for so-called birth tourism.

2:30 p.m.:

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Monday became the first senior official from a European Union country to visit Belarus since the authoritarian Belarusian regime imposed a harsh crackdown on opposition in 2020, The Associated Press reported.

His trip came as the EU is expected to consider a new package of sanctions against Belarus. The EU has slapped an array of sanctions on the country already, both for the repression that followed mass protests against the 2020 presidential election — widely seen as rigged — and for Belarus’ hosting Russian troops during the war in Ukraine.

1:50 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with bankers from JPMorgan Chase & Co last week to get their advice on rebuilding the country and weathering the financial impact of the war, Reuters reported, quoting a statement from the president's office.

Officials from the country's economic ministry and executives from JPMorgan's asset management and investment-banking arms signed a memorandum of understanding for the bank to advise on rebuilding, financial stabilization, sovereign credit ratings and economic ties to Europe.

"We are proud of our long-standing support of Ukraine and committed to doing our part to lift up the country and its people," Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan, said in a statement. "The full resources of JPMorgan Chase are available to Ukraine as it charts its post-conflict path to growth."

The bank also convened a virtual investment meeting attended by 200 corporations, investors and financial firms as Ukraine steps up efforts to lock in financial support from businesses to help rebuild the country.

1:20 p.m.:

12:45 p.m.: Russia has launched a system that will scan the internet for illegal content, making it easier for authorities to detect unsanctioned protests, anti-war dissent and “LGBT propaganda,” Reuters reported Monday, quoting officials.

The “Oculus” system will be able to read text and recognize illegal scenes in photos and videos, analyzing more than 200,000 images per day at a rate of about three seconds per image, the Interfax news agency reported.

Since sending its armed forces into Ukraine in February, Moscow has suppressed political opposition and independent media inside Russia that had survived previous clampdowns, and amplified a conservative, nationalist narrative that frowns on “non-traditional” lifestyles and orientations.

12:10 p.m.: Poland’s president and defense minister met Monday with Polish and foreign instructors intensively training Ukrainian troops to operate the German-made Leopard 2 tanks that some European countries and Canada have offered Kyiv to help fight the Russian invasion, The Associated Press reported.

President Andrzej Duda and minister Mariusz Blaszczak also watched Leopard 2 training at a military base and test range in Swietoszow, in southwestern Poland. The training is part of the European Union’s military assistance to Ukraine, but Canadian instructors also have a role, as do Norwegians.

Taking part are Ukrainian tank crews from units fighting in the east of the country. The intensive training lasts up to 10 hours a day, including weekends, the Polish military said. Instruction is also being held in Germany.

Duda voiced hope the tanks would help Ukrainian forces “in a much more efficient way to defeat the enemy.”

He said the Ukrainian trainees have come straight from the front line. “You can see in their faces that these people have gone through terrible things, but they are determined to defend their homeland.”

11:50 a.m.:

11:15 a.m.: Russia said Monday its gas exports plummeted by 25 percent in 2022 after the Ukraine conflict brought turmoil to Moscow's ties with key buyers in Europe, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Kremlin's decision to deploy troops to Ukraine in February last year was met with a flurry of sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe, which relied heavily on Russia to meet its energy needs.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak announced the figures and attributed the fall in gas exports to "the refusal of European countries to buy Russian gas." The European Union, once the largest buyer of Russian gas, has drastically reduced its imports during 2022.

Germany scrapped the approval for the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would have deepened European reliance on Russian gas supplies. And in September explosions on sections of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines under the Baltic Sea saw Washington and Moscow trade blame over the incident.

Novak said that while gas deliveries to Europe had dropped off sharply, those to new buyers, in particular China, were rising rapidly. Novak said that going forward Russia was working to pivot its energy exports to countries that had not imposed sanctions on Moscow or criticized the Kremlin's offensive in Ukraine.

"Today we continue to seek and find new markets. This year, we plan to export more than 80 percent of oil exports and 75 percent of oil products to friendly countries," Novak said.

10:40 a.m.: Moldova’s President outlined Monday what she described as a plot by Moscow to use external saboteurs to overthrow her country’s government, put the nation “at the disposal of Russia” and derail its aspirations to one day join the European Union, The Associated Press reported.

President Maia Sandu’s briefing comes a week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country had intercepted plans by Russian secret services to destroy Moldova, claims that were later confirmed by Moldovan intelligence officials.

“The plan for the next period involves actions with the involvement of diversionists with military training, camouflaged in civilian clothes, who will undertake violent actions, attack some state buildings, and even take hostages,” Sandu told reporters at a briefing.

“The purpose of these actions is to overthrow the constitutional order, to change the legitimate power from Chisinau to an illegitimate one,” Sandu said, “which would put our country at the disposal of Russia, in order to stop the European integration process.” She defiantly vowed: “The Kremlin’s attempts to bring violence to our country will not succeed.”

There was no immediate reaction from Russian officials to Sandu’s claims.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought to forge closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, it was granted European Union candidate status, the same day as Ukraine.

Sandu said that Russia wants to use Moldova in the war against Ukraine, without providing more details, and that information obtained by intelligence services contained what she described as instructions on rules of entry to Moldova for citizens from Russia, Belarus, Serbia, and Montenegro.

“I assure you that the state institutions are working to prevent these challenges and keep the situation under control,” Sandu said.

On Friday, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington that “Russia has for years supported influence and destabilization campaigns in Moldova, which often involve weaponizing corruption to further its goals.”

10:10 a.m.:

9:45 a.m.: Europe's economy will grow more than previously forecast this year as it avoids a winter recession, with inflation expected to ease as gas prices have fallen, Agence France-Presse reported Monday, quoting the European Commission.

The 20-nation eurozone's economy is now expected to expand by 0.9 percent instead of 0.3 percent, as "favorable developments" helped the single-currency area weather the fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the European Union's executive arm said.

The eurozone and the wider 27-nation EU are now expected to "narrowly avoid" a technical recession -- two straight quarters of economic contraction -- this winter, the commission said. The commission also raised its growth forecast for the EU bloc to 0.8 percent.

"These are quite outstanding outturns, proving the remarkable resilience of the EU economy to the headwinds unleashed by Russia's war against Ukraine and in particular the energy crisis," said the EU's economy commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni.

"The main risk to these forecasts is based on the geopolitical tensions, the evolution of the war," Gentiloni said.

9:20 a.m.: A video showing the sledgehammer execution of a former Russian mercenary who fled the Wagner mercenary group while fighting in Ukraine was shared on social media on Monday, Reuters reported.

In an unverified video published by the Grey Zone Telegram channel, which is linked to Wagner, a man identifies himself as Dmitry Yakushchenko, 44, and says he was born in Crimea and left prison before joining Wagner.

In the footage, which is captioned "Video from the court for treason," Yakushchenko is shown with his head taped to a block on a brick wall, while an unidentified person dressed in camouflage stands behind him carrying a sledgehammer.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the video.

9 a.m.:

8:40 a.m.: Neutral Austria is under pressure to get tougher on Russia, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Austria has come under heavy criticism for granting visas that will allow sanctioned Russian lawmakers to attend a Vienna meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The issue highlights the delicate balancing act the European country has engaged in while trying to maintain its longstanding position of military neutrality during the war in Ukraine. The Austrian government has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago but also stressed the need to maintain diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Austria hosts several U.N. agencies and international organizations such as the OSCE, which was established during the Cold War as a forum for dialogue between East and West. Russia is one of the 57 nations in North America, Europe and Asia that participate in the Vienna-based organization.

Moscow plans to send delegates to the Feb. 23-24 meeting of the OSCE’s parliamentary assembly, including 15 Russian lawmakers who are under European Union sanctions. Among them are Deputy Duma Chairman Pyotr Tolstoy and fellow parliament member Leonid Slutsky.

In a letter to Austria’s chancellor, foreign minister and other officials, 81 OSCE delegates from 20 countries, including France, Canada, Britain, Poland and Ukraine, called upon the Austrian government to prohibit the participation of the sanctioned Russians.

8:10 a.m.: Neutral Austria is refusing to train Ukrainian soldiers on Leopard 2 tanks, The Kyiv Independent reported Monday, citing Kurier.

Austria's Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner stated on Ö1 radio station that Austria has declined to provide training for Ukrainian troops on the Leopard 2 main battle tank, the media organization reported.

7:55 a.m.: Ukrainian soldiers began training on Leopard 2 battle tanks, Germany’s Defense Ministry spokeswoman Nadine Krueger said Monday in Berlin, according to The Associated Press.

Germany pledged to deliver 14 of the tanks to Ukraine by the end of March.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg again urged Ukraine’s Western allies to ramp up their military support. Asked Monday when he expects Russia’s so-called spring offensive to begin, Stoltenberg said that “the reality is that we have seen the start already.”

“For me, this just highlights the importance of timing. It’s urgent to provide Ukraine with more weapons,” he told reporters in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said that NATO sees “no sign whatsoever that President Putin is preparing for peace” and that arming Ukraine more quickly could save lives by bringing a quicker end to the conflict.

7:40 a.m.:

7:15 a.m.: Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that he's en route to the next meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as Ramstein, set to take place on Tuesday at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, The Kyiv Independent reported Monday.

Reznikov has identified several key topics for the upcoming meeting, including safeguarding Ukrainian airspace, advancing the "tank coalition," establishing an ammunition safety margin, providing training for Ukrainian troops, and ensuring the continuity of military support.

6:55 a.m.: Intense fighting continues in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Russian forces have been in engaged in a major push to take the strategic Donetsk region city of Bakhmut, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Monday.

Ukrainian officials expect a broad Russian offensive, which many observers believe has already begun, to focus on the Donbas, the Kharkiv region in Ukraine’s northeast, and the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region.

Kyiv maintains that Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to take advantage of the new offensive to highlight battlefield success when he makes his state of the nation address on February 21, days before the anniversary of the invasion.

Russian forces had suffered more than 820 casualties per day over the past two weeks, according to the Ukrainian military, leading British intelligence to say the Russian military is suffering the greatest battlefield losses since the start of the war.

Much of the focus is on the well-fortified towns of Bakhmut and Vuhledar in the Donetsk region, where Russian forces are believed to have suffered major losses. On Sunday, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed the private mercenary group had taken a village on the outskirts of Bakhmut and has vowed to take the city located along important highway routes.

In the Luhansk region, Russian forces have targeted the towns of Bilohorivka and Kreminna near the territory’s western border with the Donetsk region.

On Monday, the Ukrainian military said it had repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut, Bilohorivka, and Kreminna, and in the Zaporizhzhya region.

A statement by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed forces said that Russian forces had launched four missile strikes and fired 85 rounds from multiple-rocket launchers over the previous 24 hours.

6:30 a.m.:

6:05 a.m.: Belarus will this year host three drills of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-dominated alliance of former Soviet states, Reuters cited the state-run Belta news agency as saying on Monday.

It quoted the secretary general of the organization as saying the exercises would be code-named Cooperation, Echelon and Search.

5:35 a.m.: Ukraine was meeting consumers' energy needs on Monday after carrying out repairs to the national power network following the latest wave of Russian air strikes, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said according to Reuters.

Galushchenko said emergency repairs had been completed rapidly after Russian attacks on Friday that struck energy facilities across the country.

"And today, on the first business day of the week, despite a significant increase in consumption, Ukraine's power system continues to meet the electricity needs of consumers," Galushchenko said in a statement.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also hailed the repair efforts in an evening video address on Sunday, but said it was too soon to declare victory on the energy front.

Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine's southern military forces, said the country should ensure it was prepared for further air attacks, possibly on the first anniversary of Russia's invasion on February 24 last year.

"If we are talking about the time from one massive missile attack to the next, it's about two weeks, and we can note that from the previous (date) to the next one is exactly February 24," she told Ukrainian television on Monday.

"Considering the enemy's commitment to sacred dates, it's necessary to be ready," she said.

5:15 a.m.: NATO is expected to ask its members to raise its ammunition stockpiles which have been badly depleted by the war in Ukraine, as allies try to put arms supplies to Kyiv and their own militaries on a sustainable footing after a year in crisis mode, Reuters reported.

4:55 a.m.: Reuters reported that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said his organization is not on the wrong side of history after opening the door for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in next year's Summer Games in Paris.

The IOC received a backlash after setting out a path last month for athletes of both countries to earn slots for the Olympics through Asian qualifying and to compete as neutrals, with no flags or anthems.

Athletes from Russia and its neighbor Belarus have been banned from many international competitions in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

In a letter to Bach last week, Ukrainian athletes said the IOC was "on the wrong side of history" after Bach had urged Ukraine to drop threats of a boycott.

When asked if the IOC was on the wrong side of history, Bach told reporters on Sunday: "No, history will show who is doing more for peace. The ones who try to keep lines open, to communicate, or the ones who want to isolate or divide.

"We're trying to find a solution that is giving justice to the mission of sport, which is to unify, not to contribute to more confrontation, more escalation."

Lithuania's sports minister said on Friday a group of 35 countries, including the United States, Germany and Australia, will demand Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from the 2024 Olympics.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin was quoted as saying by TASS news agency that the calls were "absolutely unacceptable."

Bach, speaking at the Alpine skiing world championships in Courchevel, France, said the IOC stood in "solidarity" with Ukraine's athletes.

"With every Ukrainian athlete, we can from a human point of view understand their reactions, we share their suffering," he said.

"Every Ukrainian athlete can be rest assured that we are standing in full solidarity with them and that all their comments are taken very, very seriously into consideration."

4:20 a.m.:

3:55 a.m.: A Russian scheme to grant loan payment holidays to troops fighting in Ukraine, and for banks to write off the entire debt if they are killed or maimed, has added to growing pressure for the remaining overseas lenders in Russia to leave, Reuters reported.

3:10 a.m.:

2:20 a.m.: The United States has told its citizens to leave Russia immediately due to the war in Ukraine and the risk of arbitrary arrest or harassment by Russian law enforcement agencies, Reuters reported.

"U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately," the U.S. embassy in Moscow said. "Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions."

"Do not travel to Russia," the embassy said.

The United States has repeatedly warned its citizens to leave Russia. The last such public warning was in September after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization.

"Russian security services have arrested U.S. citizens on spurious charges, singled out U.S. citizens in Russia for detention and harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and convicted them in secret trials or without presenting credible evidence," the embassy said.

"Russian authorities arbitrarily enforce local laws against U.S. citizen religious workers and have opened questionable criminal investigations against U.S. citizens engaged in religious activity."

Russia has opened a criminal case against a United States citizen on suspicion of espionage, the Federal Security Service (FSB) said in January.

2 a.m.:

1:45 a.m.: Russian supplied India with around $13 billion of arms during the past five years, and New Delhi has orders placed with Moscow for weapons and military equipment exceeding $10 billion, Russian state news agencies reported late on Sunday, according to Reuters.

India is the world's biggest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20% of Moscow's current order book, and New Delhi has not explicitly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for dialog and diplomacy to solve the conflict, now in its 12th month.

Scores of Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia, including on arms, in response to the invasion, which Moscow calls a "special military operation."

India, China and some Southeast Asian countries have maintained their interest in buying Russian arms, according to Dmitry Shugayev, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, the agencies reported.

"Despite the unprecedented pressure on India from Western countries led by the United States in connection with Russia's special operation in Ukraine, it continues to be one of Russia's main partners in the field of military-technical cooperation," Interfax agency quoted Shugayev as saying.

Annual arms exports were about $14-15 billion, and the order book has remained steady at around $50 billion, Interfax reported.

1:20 a.m.:

12:40 a.m.:

12:01 a.m.: Specialists from Russia's defense ministry are building a water pipeline system that would connect the country's Rostov region bordering Ukraine with the Donbas region inside Ukraine, the state TASS news agency reported late on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Moscow last year claimed the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which make up the broader Donbas region in Ukraine, as "republics" of Russia, in a move condemned by most members of the United Nations as illegal.

The project, to be completed in the next few months, will have the capacity to carry 300,000 cubic meters of water per day and will include two 200-km (124-mile) lines, TASS reported, citing the defense ministry.

"More than 2,600 specialists ... from the Russian Ministry of Defence and over 1,000 units of equipment are involved around the clock in the construction," TASS cited an unnamed defense representative as saying.

The structure will pass through the territory of the Rostov region in Russia and into the Donetsk region to the Severskiy Donets-Donbas Canal, which extends from the Donets River near the village of Raihorodok to the city of Donetsk.

The water situation in the Donbas region, which has few resources, has been critical. The region depends on large-scale pipelines that have been damaged by nearly a year of fighting and which require electricity that is often interrupted.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Reuters.