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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Feb. 22

This aerial photograph shows a destroyed bridge in the village of Bohorodychne, Donetsk region on Feb. 21, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This aerial photograph shows a destroyed bridge in the village of Bohorodychne, Donetsk region on Feb. 21, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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

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

8:36 p.m.: Ukrainian marine Artem Dyblenko spent more than four months as a Russian prisoner of war. On Wednesday, he appealed to the international community to help bring home the thousands of soldiers and non-combatants who remain in captivity and seek justice for all who have suffered human rights violations at the hands of Russia since its invasion of Ukraine nearly one year ago, VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reports.

"I was 125 days in Russian captivity; this is about 3,000 hours," Dyblenko, who was twice decorated for bravery, told a special meeting organized by Ukraine at the United Nations to discuss gross human rights violations caused by Russia’s war.

"Three thousand hours of physical, moral, and psychological abuse," he said. "Three thousand hours of Russian hell."

7:33 p.m.: Streets in Kyiv are being renamed in honor of soldiers who lost their lives defending the country against Russia's invasion. Current Time correspondent Yulia Zhukova walked along the recently renamed streets and spoke with the loved ones of the fallen soldiers, RFE/RFL reports.

6:44 p.m.: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that a bill had been registered by a Ukrainian lawmaker to resume the requirement for state officials to file electronic asset declarations, according to The Kyiv Independent.

He said this in his response to a petition regarding resuming the filing of asset declarations. The petition collected the necessary 25,000 signatures on the president's site in early February.

5:23 p.m.: Ukrainian authorities say parts of the country will bolster security measures this week, days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion, The Kyiv Independent reports.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this month warned that Russia is planning a revenge attack for last year's defeats and is set to do something "symbolic."

Extra safety measures will be implemented in Ukraine's southern Kherson Oblast, the region's military administration said Wednesday.

From Feb. 23 to 25, most public offices and businesses will work remotely, except for critical infrastructure facilities, the administration said.

4:00 p.m.: Russian prosecutors said Wednesday they were proceeding with a case against exiled science fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky, accused of publishing "false information" about Russian atrocities in the Ukraine war, according to Reuters. Russia is targeting opposition figures and journalists with a law providing for jail terms up to 15 years for those convicted of spreading "fake" news about the military. Glukhovsky left Russia last year after the invasion and called for an end to the campaign.

2:44 p.m.: The good-humored Ukrainian fighter pilot Danylo Murashko was in low spirits on Jan. 27. He hadn’t gone out on a sortie in several days, which always put him in a bad mood, The Kyiv Independent reports.

Noticing Murashko’s state of mind, his commander, lieutenant colonel Rostyslav Lazarenko, decided to allow 24-year-old Murashko to join him on a combat mission.

As the two were up in the sky somewhere above Donetsk Oblast, a rocket launched from a Russian fighter hit Murashko's aircraft. The town of Shabelkivka, with a pre-war population of over 4,000 residents, was just ahead of him.

According to his brigade, Murashko tried to divert his plane so that it wouldn’t fall on residential buildings. The effort, however, made him fly lower and cost him precious time.

Murashko stopped the plane from killing civilians, but he could not eject safely.

"I turned [the aircraft] away," were the last words Lazarenko heard from Murashko, he said in an interview with the Defense Ministry's news agency Army Inform.

1:38 p.m.: Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a co-founder and owner of the Wagner mercenary group, has called on Russians to pressure the army to give his fighters more ammunition amid Defense Ministry denials that it is holding back supplies for artillery and missile-launchers in Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, RFE/RL’s Russian service reported.

"If every Russian at his own level -- in order not to call anyone to rallies -- would simply say 'give ammunition to Wagner,' as is already happening on social media, then this would already be important," he said in an audio post on Telegram on Tuesday.

The call comes a day after Prigozhin accused top armed forces officials of committing "treason" by failing to supply his private troops, who have been a major force in the battle to take the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, with enough ammunition.

He says his troops regularly lack about 80 percent of the ammunition they need while fighting against Ukrainian armed forces in the Donetsk region.

In response, the Russian Defense Ministry rejected the claims, saying that all volunteer brigades in Ukraine's east are being supplied with all types of ammunition in a "timely" fashion.

12:58 p.m.: Poland is braced for a spike in the number of refugees arriving from Ukraine, as fighting intensifies in the east ahead of the anniversary of Russia’s invasion on February 24.

Millions of Ukrainians fled into Poland in the first weeks of the war as a huge Russian column bore down on the capital, Kyiv. Every day, tens of thousands of refugees arrived in the Polish border city of Przemyśl by road, rail or on foot.

Ukraine successfully defended the capital and pushed back Russian forces in the ensuing months, eventually recapturing swathes of territory around Kharkiv and Kherson. As spring approaches, both Russia and Ukraine are preparing to launch new offensives, which could force thousands more Ukrainians to flee their homes.

VOA’s Henry Ridgwell has more on this story.

11:38 a.m.: Two civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine on Wednesday, and two were wounded in a missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv, regional officials said, according to Reuters.

An 81-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man were killed during shelling of the village of Novotyahinka, about 40 km from the city of Kherson, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

Ukraine recaptured Kherson in November after nearly eight months of occupation by Russian forces who seized it soon after the invasion. The area is now under almost constant bombardment from Russian forces on the opposite side of the Dnipro River.

10:36 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to travel to New York later this week (Feb. 23-24) to attend the U.N. Security Council ministerial meeting on Ukraine, marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A State Department statement said Blinken will also meet with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to “discuss the broad range of economic, security, and humanitarian support the United States and other U.N. Member States are continuing to provide to Ukraine.”

“During the Security Council meeting, the Secretary will underscore U.S. commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and call upon the international community to endorse U.N. actions that will help secure a just and durable peace in Ukraine,” the statement said.

9:20 a.m.: The International Federation of Journalists has suspended with immediate effect the Russian Union of Journalists over its action since Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its role in annexed Ukrainian territories, the Associated Press reported

The IFJ, which represents more than 600,000 media workers across the world, said the Russian union's membership was suspended following an investigation then a vote by its global executive committee on Wednesday.

The vote was held after the union refused to reconsider its decision to set up branches in four regions annexed by Russia, the federation said.

The Kremlin in September illegally annexed the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions, where it claims its rule is welcomed. Pro-Moscow separatists have controlled part of Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk province since 2014.

8:00 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are in Warsaw Wednesday, to attend the summit of the Bucharest Nine, countries on NATO’s easternmost flank; Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

This little-known grouping is an initiative launched in 2015 by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Polish President Andrzej Duda. It is aimed at enhancing cooperation among NATO’s newest members to support the alliance’s objectives of improving security and stability between the Baltic and Black Seas.

Biden is set to reaffirm U.S. commitment for B-9 security, whose members joined the military alliance after being under Russia’s sphere of influence during the Cold War and are now looking at Moscow’s expansionist ambitions with concern.

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara is traveling with Biden and has more details.

7:15 a.m.: Russian forces pummeled the front line in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with artillery and air strikes, the Ukrainian military said on Wednesday, as regional authorities reported heavy bombardments in the southern region of Dnipropetrovsk, according to RFE/RL

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians that the front line was holding despite Moscow's incessant pressure.

Heavy fighting continued unabated around the disputed cities of Bakhmut, Lyman, and Avdiyivka in Donetsk, where Ukrainian defenders repelled Russian attacks in several other locations including Fedorivka, Yahidne, and Berkhivka, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its daily report.

Russian attacks were also repelled in the Luhansk settlements of Kyzemivka and Dibrova, and in Kupyansk, in northeastern Kharkiv region, the General Staff said, adding that indiscriminate rocket attacks destroyed residential buildings, killing and wounding civilians. It did not elaborate on casualties.

6 a.m.:

5:40 a.m.: The Czech Republic will continue to aid Ukraine in its defense against Russia's invasion for as long as needed, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and leaders of NATO's eastern flank on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

"We will continue in (our) help for as long as Ukraine needs it," Fiala said.

5:25 a.m.: Pope Francis said on Wednesday that the war in Ukraine is "absurd and cruel" and called for ceasefire and negotiations, two days before the first anniversary of the February 24 Russian invasion.

During his weekly general audience, Francis called it a "sad anniversary" and said he was "close to the martyred Ukrainian people" according to Reuters.

The pope added that "real victory" in Ukraine "cannot be built on ruins".

4:50 a.m.: Korrine was a second-year medical student in the city of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine when Russia invaded last year.

The 27-year-old, from Leicester in central England, fled the country along with a group of Zimbabwean students.

"When it actually started kicking off, I realized we were on our own," she told AFP.

Before the war, Korrine was among tens of thousands of international students in Ukraine, many from developing countries, who paid relatively low fees for courses such as medicine and dentistry.

After fleeing the country, they have found they cannot access the same benefits and rights as exiled Ukrainians.

Agence France-Presse had the full story.

4:30 a.m.: India on Wednesday reiterated its stance on the war in Ukraine that it was time for dialog and diplomacy, days ahead of the February 24 anniversary of Russia's invasion and as G-20 finance officials started a meeting near Bengaluru.

"Today's era is not for war. Democracy, dialog and diplomacy is the way forward," Anurag Thakur, India's information minister, told a news conference after welcoming delegates to the meeting which ends on Saturday, Reuters reported.

India does not want the Group of 20 nations to discuss additional sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine during New Delhi's one-year presidency of the bloc, six senior Indian government officials told Reuters.

On the sidelines of a key G-20 gathering in India, financial leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations will meet on February 23, the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion, to discuss measures against Russia, Japan's finance minister said on Tuesday.

The officials, who are directly involved in this week's G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs, said the war's macroeconomic impact would be discussed but India does not want to deliberate on additional actions against Russia.

"India is not keen to discuss or back any additional sanctions on Russia during the G-20," said one of the officials. "The existing sanctions on Russia have had a negative impact on the world."

Another official said sanctions were not a G-20 issue. "G-20 is an economic forum for discussing growth issues."

Spokespeople for the Indian government and the finance and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

4:05 a.m.:

3:40 a.m.: Russia's flagship frigate equipped with new generation hypersonic cruise missiles has arrived in the South African port of Richards Bay for exercises that will include China, Reuters cited Russia's RIA state news agency as reporting on Wednesday.

South Africa was due to launch the joint exercises on Friday. It calls the drills routine but they have fueled domestic criticism and fears they could endanger relations with Western partners.

The beginning of the exercises coincides with the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to suspend its last major nuclear arms control treaty with the United States

The ship, named "The Admiral Gorshkov of the Fleet of the Soviet Union," had arrived at Richards Bay "performing the tasks of a long-range voyage," RIA reported, citing a statement from the Russian Northern Fleet.

The Gorshkov warship, which was sent off from Russia on January 4, carries the Zircon missiles which have a range of 900 km (560 miles) and can travel at several times the speed of sound, making it difficult to defend against them.

In late January, the ship tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic Ocean.

3:20 a.m.:

2:55 a.m.: Shells were exploding nearby but Tatiana Bushlanova didn't flinch when she spoke to Reuters in front of the shattered remains of her home in Mariupol last May. Fighting in the port city has long since ended but the pensioner is still struggling to take in the enormity of what has happened.

Mariupol's strategic location on the Sea of Azov made it a prime target in what Moscow calls the "special military operation" that it launched in Ukraine on February 24 last year.

Russian forces captured the city in May when, after a siege lasting nearly three months, the last Ukrainian defenders emerged from the underground tunnels of its vast Azovstal steelworks and surrendered.

By then, much of Mariupol lay in ruins, and tens of thousands of people had been killed in a city where more than half the pre-war population of some 450,000 have fled.

Reuters had the full story.

2:30 a.m.:

2:10 a.m.: A shed on a hillside on the outskirts of Canada's capital hides a Cold War bunker that has been fielding a surge of queries since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, asking if it is operational.

It's now a museum, so the answer of course is no.

Agence France-Presse had the full story.

1:20 a.m.:

1:05 a.m.: President Vladimir Putin revoked on Tuesday a 2012 decree that in part underpinned Moldova's sovereignty in resolving the future of the Transdniestria region - a Moscow-backed separatist region which borders Ukraine and where Russia keeps troops.

The decree, which included a Moldova component, outlined Russia's foreign policy 11 years ago which assumed Moscow's closer relations with the European Union and the United States.

According to Reuters, the order revoking the 2012 document was published on the Kremlin's website and states that the decision was taken to "ensure the national interests of Russia in connection with the profound changes taking place in international relations."

It is part of a series of anti-Western moves announced by Putin on Tuesday.

Alexandru Flenchea, Moldovan chairman of the joint control commission in the security zone around Transdniestria, said the cancellation did not mean that Putin was abandoning the notion of Moldovan sovereignty.

"The decree is a policy document that implements the concept of Russia's foreign policy," Flenchea told Publika-TV. "Moldova and Russia have a basic political agreement that provides for mutual respect for the territorial integrity of our countries."

The Kremlin has said that Russia's relations with Moldova, which last week approved a new pro-Western prime minister that vowed to pursue a drive to join the EU, were very tense. It accused Moldova of pursuing an anti-Russian agenda.

12:25 a.m.:

12:01 a.m.: Russia has urged U.N. states to vote against an "unbalanced and anti-Russian" move at the General Assembly by Ukraine and others to mark one year since Moscow invaded.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly is due to vote later this week on a draft resolution stressing "the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace" in line with the founding United Nations Charter.

Ukraine and its supporters hope to deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation by seeking yes votes from nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly to match — if not better — the support received for several resolutions last year.

The draft text would again see the General Assembly demand Moscow withdraw its troops and call for a halt to hostilities. General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, but carry political weight.

Russian ally Belarus on Tuesday suggested amendments to the draft U.N. resolution, seen by Reuters, including "prevention of further escalation of the conflict through feeding the parties with lethal weapons." Diplomats say they are unlikely to pass.

China's U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters on Tuesday that China would release a "position paper" on Ukraine likely within days that "will be mainly reflecting the consistent positions of China on this issue."

"We have never called it peace plan. Its position paper," Zhang said. "We will continue to emphasize respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. We emphasize that countries should accommodate the security concerns of each other."

"Mainly, we will call for peace, for dialogue, for peaceful settlement," he said.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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