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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 31

A woman carries her child as they evacuate from a residential building which was hit by a Russian rocket at the city center of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jan. 30, 2023.
A woman carries her child as they evacuate from a residential building which was hit by a Russian rocket at the city center of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jan. 30, 2023.

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.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday said it had no indication that U.S. funds had been misused in Ukraine and said it would continue to work closely with Ukrainian authorities to ensure appropriate safeguards were in place to avert corruption, Reuters reported.

It was the Treasury's first comment on the issue after Ukraine's government last week dismissed a slew of senior officials in the country's biggest political shake-up of the war following corruption allegations.

The World Bank has disbursed more than $13 billion to Ukraine through its Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance (PEACE) in Ukraine, as of December, much of it coming from the United States.

PEACE funds are disbursed to Ukrainian authorities a month after bank officials have verified that they have paid salaries to teachers and civil servants and pension payments, which helps safeguard against problems.

The bank last month told Reuters it is working with Ukraine to improve its already well-regarded E-Government Procurement System called ProZorro, adding that digital system would help ensure transparency, integrity and ease of access.

10 p.m.:

9:25 p.m.: Olympic gold medalist Wladimir Klitschko has joined Ukraine's fight against IOC plans to let some Russians compete at the 2024 Paris Summer Games, The Associated Press reported.

The former heavyweight champion suggested in a video message published Monday that sports leaders will be accomplices to the war if athletes from Russia and its military ally Belarus can compete at the next Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee set out its preferred path last week for Russians and Belarusians who have not openly supported the war to qualify for Paris and compete in 18 months' time as neutral athletes with no flag or anthem. Qualifying events would likely be in Asia.

That softening of the IOC advice given last February — that sports bodies should exclude Russia and Belarus from international events — provoked anger in Ukraine, which warned it could boycott Paris.

Klitschko's elder brother, Vitali, is the mayor of Kviv and also a former heavyweight champion.

8:49 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will discuss Ukraine's latest requests for advanced weaponry to defend against Russia with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We're going to talk," Biden told reporters, speaking the morning after he answered with an emphatic "no" when asked at the White House whether he favored sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

The United States is by far the biggest supplier of weapons to Ukraine, where the Russian invasion is now approaching the one-year mark. A coalition of other Western countries is also sending arms, ranging from rifles to armored vehicles and artillery.

Most recently, the United States and Germany agreed to send advanced tanks, following the earlier lead of Britain.

Now, Ukraine is pressuring for fighter jets and long-range missiles that could hit Russian targets far behind the front lines.

8:14 p.m.: Ukraine's prime minister said a Ukraine-European Union summit will take place in Kyiv on Friday, as the war-torn country battles to repel the Russian invasion, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The Ukraine-EU summit will be held in Kyiv on February 3," Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told a government meeting on Tuesday, calling the event "extremely important" for Kyiv's bid to join the European bloc.

"The fact that this summit will be held in Kyiv is a powerful signal to both partners and enemies."

No details were provided on who would be attending on the European Union side.

The Ukrainian prime minister said that another key event will take place on Thursday, when consultations between the government of Ukraine and the European Commission will take place "for the first time in our history."

Ukraine gained EU candidacy status in June last year.

7:47 p.m.: Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, pressing the United States to sustain aid to Ukraine to help it fight off Russia's assault.

Johnson spoke with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican, in his office and is scheduled to speak at a private Republican club in the evening, said Representative Joe Wilson, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Johnson is also scheduled to meet with a group of Republican senators, said U.S. Senator Todd Young, though he said he was unaware of the exact timing.

McCarthy's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Johnson, who left office in September following a series of scandals, was prime minister when Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

7:16 p.m.: United Nations experts on Tuesday called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by government forces and Russian private military contractor Wagner Group in Mali, Reuters reported.

Mali, whose government took power in a 2021 military coup, have previously said Russian forces in the West African country are not mercenaries but trainers helping local troops with equipment bought from Russia.

Western powers say the Russian forces in Mali include Wagner Group contractors.

Wagner Group has attracted international attention over its prominent role in fighting during Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Washington last week designated Wagner as a transnational criminal organization responsible for widespread human rights abuses.

6:26 p.m.: A court in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg has sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for throwing Molotov cocktails at a military conscription center in the Siberian autonomous district of Khanty-Mansi, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The Central Military District Court identified the man as Vladislav Borisenko.

It is the first time an arson attack against a military conscription center was classified as a terrorist act. There have been dozens of such attacks since Russia launched its ongoing invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

5:52 p.m.: One person was killed and three were injured in a suspected Russian missile strike on a residential building in the center of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine late on January 29. Rescuers say they found the body of an elderly woman in the rubble. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

5:21 p.m.: Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Britain trumpeted new legislation requiring property-ownership disclosure aimed at cracking down on Russian oligarchs and corrupt elites laundering illicit wealth, Reuters reported.

Foreign companies holding UK property have until the end of Tuesday to identify their “beneficial owners” in a new public register, making Britain one of the first countries to do so. But a Reuters analysis of government data found that the people behind thousands of U.K.-property owning foreign companies remain veiled in secrecy.

Only four Russian nationals under British government sanctions appeared on the register as of Tuesday morning. They were: Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen; Igor Shuvalov, Russia's former first deputy prime minister, and his wife; and Alexander Frolov, the former chief executive officer of Evraz, a Russian steel and mining company.

Absent from the register as of Tuesday morning were some sanctioned Russians who have been linked to UK properties, including Roman Abramovich.

4:54 p.m.: Ukraine protested to Hungary's ambassador on Tuesday over "disparaging" comments made by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and urged Budapest to stop what it called anti-Ukrainian rhetoric, Reuters reported.

The envoy was summoned by the foreign ministry after its spokesperson said last week that Orban had told reporters Ukraine was a no man's land and compared it to Afghanistan.

Ambassador Istvan Ijdjarto was delivered "a strong protest in connection with the recent disparaging statements of the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban," the ministry said.

4:18 p.m.:

3:58 p.m.: Former U.S. Navy SEAL Daniel Swift, who was killed fighting for Ukraine, was commemorated in a memorial service in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, who attended the service, said on Facebook that Swift had fought for Ukraine's International Legion, and earned an award during his service.

"Sincere condolences to the family and eternal memory to the defender," Sadovyi wrote.

According to a statement by the U.S. Navy, Swift deserted from the U.S. military in 2019, and was killed while fighting in Ukraine on Jan. 18.

3:16 p.m.:

2:30 p.m.: The United States on Tuesday accused Russia of violating the New START Treaty, the last major pillar of post-Cold War nuclear arms control between the two countries, saying Moscow was refusing to allow inspection activities on its territory, Reuters reported.

The treaty came into force in 2011 and was extended in 2021 for five more years. It caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

The two countries, which during the Cold War were constrained by a tangle of arms control agreements, still account together for about 90% of the world's nuclear warheads.

Washington has been keen to preserve the treaty but ties with Moscow are the worst in decades over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an element that could complicate attempts by U.S. President Joe Biden's administration to maintain and reach a follow-on agreement.

2:15 p.m.:

2:00 p.m.: Sweden’s government should “act differently” if it wants to clinch Turkish support for its bid to join NATO, Hungary’s foreign minister said Tuesday. He added that a recent Quran-burning protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm was “unacceptable,” The Associated Press reported.

Peter Szijjarto made the remark at a news conference following talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Hungary’s capital Budapest. Both diplomats addressed the Jan. 21 anti-Turkish protest that increased tensions between Ankara and Stockholm as Sweden seeks Turkey’s approval to join the NATO military alliance.

“As a Christian and as a Catholic, I must say that burning of a holy book of another religion is an unacceptable act,” Szijjarto said, and criticized a statement by Sweden’s prime minister that while the burning of the Quran was inappropriate and “deeply disrespectful,” it fell under Swedish freedom of speech protections.

The meeting in Budapest came as Turkey and Hungary remain the only two NATO members that haven’t approved bids by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance. The northern European neighbors which share a border with Russia dropped their long-standing military neutrality and sought NATO membership in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

1:45 p.m.:

1:30 p.m.: Poland aims to get training time on Leopard 2 battle tanks down to five weeks at a center where Ukrainian soldiers are likely to be taught how to operate the Western battlefield workhorse against Russia's invasion, Reuters reported.

The village of Swietoszow in western Poland, near the German border, hosts one of just three Leopard training centers in Europe - the others are in Germany and Switzerland.

1:15 p.m.:

1:00 p.m.: Ukraine hopes to secure widespread international support for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris Olympics due to Moscow's invasion, the sports minister said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is open to including Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals at the 2024 Games and has opened a door to them competing in qualifiers.

"This is unacceptable for us," Sports Minister and former Olympic champion Vadym Huttsait told Reuters at his offices in Kyiv, beside a wall with portraits of athletes killed in the war launched by Moscow a year ago with assistance from Belarus.

"It is impossible for us at a time when the full-scale war is going on, when our athletes, our soldiers are defending our homeland, our land, defending their homes, their families, their parents."

At least 220 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have died in the war, Huttsait said, with over 340 sports facilities damaged or ruined.

12:50 p.m.:

12:40 p.m.: Human rights researchers say they’ve documented “numerous cases” in which Ukrainian forces fired banned anti-personnel mines at Russian military positions in the fierce battle for the eastern city of Izium last year, VOA’s White House correspondent Anita Powell reported.

A report, released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch and including multiple, detailed accounts by researchers, raises questions about Kyiv’s credibility and intentions as NATO allies pour billions of dollars’ worth of aid and weapons into Ukraine as the Russian invasion nears the one-year mark. The rights group is calling for an investigation in Ukraine.

On numerous occasions, Human Rights Watch has accused Russia of using other types of anti-personnel mines in Ukraine and of committing a range of atrocities, including kidnapping and torture, during their occupation of Izium.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines told VOA that the next steps are clear, as are the implications. “States Parties to the (Mine Ban) treaty should urge Ukraine authorities to immediately conduct an investigation to determine who deliberately used or ordered the use of these weapons as they may be criminally liable,” representatives of the global advocacy group told VOA in written a statement on behalf of the group.

After being notified by Human Rights Watch in November, Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Polishchuk did not directly respond to questions about whether his forces used the banned mines, but wrote to the rights group, “Ukraine is a reliable member of the international community, and it fully commits to all international obligations in the sphere of mine usage. This includes the non-use of anti-personnel mines in the war.”

The U.S. has previously had a conversation about the responsible use of weapons in Ukraine.

12:30 p.m.:

12:10 p.m.: The United States on Tuesday put new trade restrictions on seven Iranian entities for producing drones that Russia has used to attack Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The firms and other organizations were added to a U.S. export control list for those engaged in activities contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

The additions to the Commerce Department's "entities list" were posted in a preliminary filing in the U.S. Federal Register, the government's daily journal, and will be officially published on Wednesday.

11:55 a.m.:

11:40 a.m.: France said on Tuesday it will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine and has discussed training Ukrainian pilots to fly French fighter jets as part of military assistance to Kyiv in the war with Russia, Reuters reports.

Speaking after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov in Paris, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said France will also send 150 army staff to Poland to train up to 600 Ukrainian soldiers per month there.

France's position when it came to supplying arms to Ukraine was that it should not weaken France's own defense capacity, that it should be useful and practical to help Kyiv in the war with Russia and that the weapons be used only by Ukraine to defend itself, Lecornu said.

Training Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets was "part of our discussions but no decision has yet been taken on that issue," he added.

11:25 a.m.:

11:10 a.m.: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that his country is willing to offer more assistance to close ally Russia in its war against Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. But Lukashenko stressed that Russia does not need “any help” right now.

“However, if our Russian brothers need help, we are always ready to offer such assistance,” he said on a state visit to the southern African nation of Zimbabwe — which is also close to Russia.

Lukashenko was speaking through a translator in a brief response to a question on whether his country is under pressure to step up its support for Russia in the nearly yearlong war against Ukraine. Lukashenko did not specify what that help would entail.

Belarus allowed Russia to stage part of its invasion from its territory last February and has also been a launching pad for Russian missiles into Ukraine. But Belarus hasn’t committed any of its troops to the war.

Russia and Belarus have engaged in joint military exercises on Belarusian territory this month and Ukraine says it has maintained forces along its border with Belarus to fend off any potential invasion. The Pentagon says that it hasn’t seen any Russian troop movement in Belarus that would indicate an imminent attack.

10:50 a.m.: Ukrainian civilians come under shelling as they attempt to flee from Russian attacks in the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, in a video posted online by foreign volunteers. Also, correspondents visit trenches 100 kilometers southwest -- where Russian forces have also been testing the Ukrainian lines. Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, has this report.

10:35 a.m.: Ukraine said on Tuesday its forces had repelled Russian attacks on a road near the eastern town of Bakhmut, preventing Moscow gaining control of an important Ukrainian supply line.

Russian troops have been unable to cut off the road leading from the town Chasiv Yar to Bakhmut, military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevaty said in televised comments.

"Russian troops could not cut off the road which is used for supplying the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Ukrainian army in Bakhmut is supplied with everything necessary," he said.

He said Bakhmut remained one of the main focuses of Russian attacks, including artillery strikes and infantry assaults.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia said its forces had taken control of Blahodatne, a small village just north of Bakhmut.

Reuters was not able to independently verify battlefield accounts by either side.

Ukrainian troops, the Russian military and Russian private military contractor Wagner Group have been locked for months in a fierce battle of attrition in the Bakhmut area.

10:10 a.m.:

9:50 a.m.: Ukraine will receive 120 to 140 Western tanks in a "first wave" of deliveries from a coalition of 12 countries, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Kyiv secured pledges from the West this month to supply main battle tanks to help fend off Russia's full-scale invasion, with Moscow mounting huge efforts to make incremental advances in eastern Ukraine.

"The tank coalition now has 12 members. I can note that in the first wave of contributions, the Ukrainian armed forces will receive between 120 and 140 Western-model tanks," Kuleba said during an online briefing.

He said those tanks would include the German Leopard 2, the British Challenger 2 and the U.S. M1 Abrams, and that Ukraine was also "really counting" on supplies of French Leclerc tanks being agreed.

Kuleba gave no timeline for any of the deliveries. Time will also be needed for training with the tanks.

9:35 a.m.: Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said his country needed more weapons to repel Moscow's forces because Russia has stepped up attacks.

He wrote on Twitter Tuesday that "systematic shelling of frontline cities, accumulation of ordnance, redeployment of troops, additional forced mobilization surely do not indicate RF’s (Russia's) readiness for peace."

"These are direct signs of significant escalation. Therefore, weapons, weapons & more weapons for Ukraine," he wrote.

Podolyak also said on Twitter that without more weapons for Ukraine, the war could spread further in Europe.

9:20 a.m.: Russia will begin checks for weapons and explosives in cars in regions of the country with a high terrorist threat level, according to a presidential decree published on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The decree, published on the government's legislative portal, said that "inspections of vehicles using technical means for detecting weapons and explosives" would begin in regions where "a level of terrorist threat has been confirmed."

The Russian government has since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine designated a "yellow" level terrorist threat, which corresponds to confirmed information about a planned terrorist act, in a number of regions that border or are nearby Ukraine.

Russian officials have repeatedly described artillery and air strikes against Russian territory as "terrorism" by Ukraine. Kyiv has traditionally neither confirmed nor denied its role in strikes on Russian territory.

9:05 a.m.:

8:55 a.m.: Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with Republican lawmakers this week as he presses the United States to sustain aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russia's assault, Reuters reported.

Johnson is scheduled to speak at a private Republican club in Washington on Tuesday evening, said Representative Joe Wilson, a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. He is also scheduled to meet with a group of Republican senators, said U.S. Senator Todd Young on Monday, though he said he was unaware of the exact timing of the talks.

On Wednesday, Johnson will discuss the need for "Western unity and support for Ukraine and what more can be done against the threat Russia poses" at the Atlantic Council think tank.

8:40 a.m.:

8:25 a.m.: Britain does not believe it is practical to send its fighter jets to Ukraine, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday, after Kyiv indicated it would push for such Western planes.

“The U.K.’s ... fighter jets are extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly. Given that, we believe it is not practical to send those jets into Ukraine,” the spokesperson told reporters. “We will continue to discuss with our allies about what we think what is the right approach.”

8:10 a.m.:

7:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s push for fighter jets to help beat back Russia’s invasion force risks straining the unity of Ukraine’s Western allies, amid fears that the move could escalate the nearly year-long conflict and draw them deeper into the war, The Associated Press reported.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was due in Paris Tuesday where discussions about the possible delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine was expected to be on the agenda.

Kyiv officials have repeatedly urged allies to send jets, saying they are essential to challenge Russia’s air superiority and to ensure the success of future counteroffensives that could be spearheaded by tanks recently promised by Western countries.

There was no indication that a decision on warplanes to Ukraine might come any time soon and no sign that Western countries have changed their earlier stance on the issue. Ukraine’s allies also have ruled out providing Kyiv with long-range missiles able to hit Russian territory, signaling a similarly cautious stance on warplanes.

Both Ukraine and Russia are believed to be building up their arsenals for an expected offensive in coming months. The war has been largely deadlocked on the battlefield during the winter.

Asked about Lithuania’s call for Western countries to provide Ukraine with fighter jets and long-range missiles, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the comments “reflected an aggressive approach taken by the Baltic nations and Poland, who are ready to do everything to provoke further escalation without thinking about consequences.”

7:35 a.m.:

7:20 a.m.: Russia said on Tuesday that calls by the president of Lithuania to supply Ukraine with fighter planes highlighted the "extremely aggressive position" of the Baltic states and Poland, and that "major European countries" should counterbalance their stance, Reuters reported.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday that NATO should stop drawing "red lines" and should supply Ukraine with whatever weapons it needed, including fighter jets and long-range missiles.

Asked about those comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "In general, we see an extremely aggressive position from representatives of the Baltic countries and Poland. They are apparently ready to do anything to provoke the growth of further confrontation, with little regard for the consequences."

He added: "Of course, it is very sad that under these conditions the leaders of major European countries, who drive all European processes, unfortunately do not play a balancing role."

7:05 a.m.:

6:55 a.m.: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Japanese premier Fumio Kishida pledged on Tuesday to strengthen ties, saying Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its growing military cooperation with China had created the most tense security environment since World War Two, Reuters reported.

The comments came in a statement issued during Stoltenberg's trip to Japan following a visit to South Korea on which he urged Seoul to increase military support to Ukraine and gave similar warnings about rising tension with China.

"The world is at a historical inflection point in the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II," the two leaders said in the statement.

It also raised concerns about Russia's nuclear threats, joint military drills between Russia and China near Japan, and North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.

Stoltenberg told reporters a Russian victory in Ukraine would embolden China at a time when it is building up its military, "bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan."

6:40 a.m.: A large Russian force has advanced hundreds of metres in a major new assault on a Ukrainian-held bastion in southeastern Ukraine this week, though it is unlikely to force a significant breakthrough there, Britain said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Russian officials claimed the advance had secured a foothold in the coal-mining town of Vuhledar. Kyiv has acknowledged heavy fighting there but says it has repelled the push so far while inflicting heavy losses on the attackers.

In an intelligence update offering rare battlefield detail, the British ministry said Russia was attacking the town with a force at least the size of a brigade, a unit normally comprising several thousand troops with a full range of capabilities.

So far, the Russians had likely advanced from the south several hundred meters beyond the Kashlahach River, which it said had marked the front line for months. The small river flows on the edge of the town of Pavlivka, about 2 kilometers south of Vuhledar.

6:25 a.m.:

6:10 a.m.: Finnish, Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic unions will quit a global media federation on Tuesday in protest at "corruptive activity," including most recently allowing Russian state media journalists in Ukraine to stay as members, the Finnish union said according to Reuters.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents 600,000 journalists in 146 countries, calls itself "the global voice of journalists," many of whom strive to reveal corruption and wrongdoings.

It denounced the accusations as "false, defamatory and damaging."

The Nordic members accused the IFJ of longstanding undemocratic practices, unethical finances and of allowing the Russian state media representatives to continue as members.

"We call this corruptive activity," Hanne Aho, the chairwoman of the Union of Journalists in Finland, told Reuters.

"We have decided to resign together with the Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic unions. We will hand in our letters of resignation on Tuesday."

Aho said the Nordic unions had for years tried to raise problems internally within the IFJ, with their latest disappointment being the IFJ not taking action against the Russian Union of Journalists for setting up regional journalists' associations in Ukrainian territories invaded by Russia.

"They have been able to do so in all tranquility without the international federation expelling the Russian union," Aho said.

The IFJ said its executive committee had triggered a formal process for suspending and expelling the Russian Union of Journalists. It said expenditure was formally audited every year, adding that it had sought to answer all questions posed by the Nordic unions.

"We entirely reject what are false, defamatory and damaging allegations," IFJ Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Dear told Reuters in an emailed response.

5:30 a.m.: According to Reuters, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had met with newly arrived U.S. ambassador Lynne Tracy and they had discussed arms control.

5:05 a.m.:

4:40 a.m.: A Russian court on Tuesday fined streaming service Twitch 4 million roubles ($57,000) for failing to remove what it said were "fakes" about Russia's military campaign in Ukraine, Reuters cited the Interfax news agency as reporting.

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moscow has long objected to foreign tech platforms' distribution of content that falls foul of its restrictions, with Russian courts regularly imposing penalties.

4:10 a.m.: Russia's Gazprom said it will ship 24.5 million cubic meters of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday, a volume in line with recent days, according to Reuters.

3:30 a.m.: Ukraine's foreign ministry criticized Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday for saying Crimea would never return to Ukrainian control, describing his comment as "unacceptable" Reuters reported.

Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. In remarks on Monday detailing his objection to Zagreb providing military aid to Kyiv, Milanovic said it was "clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine."

"We consider as unacceptable the statements of the president of Croatia, who effectively cast doubt on the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

3:05 a.m.:

2:20 a.m.: Russia and Belarus have started a week-long session of staff training for the joint command of their regional grouping of forces, the Belarusian defense ministry said on Tuesday.

The training is part of preparation for joint drills the two countries will hold in Russia in September, the ministry added in its statement, Reuters reported.

1:50 a.m.: Russian forces have likely conducted attacks around the Ukrainian towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar in the past three days and may be aiming to develop a new axis of advance into Donetsk, Britain said in a regular intelligence update on Tuesday.

"There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the sector," the update added.

"However, it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough."

1:32 a.m.: NATO will continue to strengthen its partnership with Japan amid the ongoing Ukraine war, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday during a visit to Japan, where he will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Reuters reported.

"The war in Ukraine matters for all of us, and therefore we're also very grateful for the support that Japan is providing, using also the planes and the cargo capabilities," Stoltenberg said during a brief speech after surveying the Japanese Self Defense Force's Iruma Air Base.

His trip, which included a stop in South Korea, is aimed at bolstering ties with Western allies in Asia in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.

Speaking in Seoul on Monday, Stoltenberg urged South Korea to increase its military support to Ukraine, citing other countries that have changed their policy of not providing weapons to countries in conflict following Russia's invasion.

1:05 a.m.: Human Rights Watch published a new report on Tuesday on the alleged use of banned anti-personnel landmines by Ukraine during the Russian invasion. These “butterfly mines” are “about the width of a child’s cupped hands” and “cannot be disarmed; they must be detonated or destroyed.”

This is exactly what makes them so dangerous. VOA’s White House correspondent Anita Powell had the full report.

12:30 a.m.:

12:01 a.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's bid this week to rally support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion during his first South American tour fell flat, with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reiterating his view both parties shared blame, Reuters reported.

Scholz has sought to project unity on Ukraine during his whistlestop three-day tour, thanking all three countries he has visited — Argentina, Chile and Brazil — for condemning Russia's invasion at the United Nations General Assembly last year.

But the fallout of the war and harsh sanctions on Russia, such as soaring food and energy prices, have hit the region particularly hard, raising questions over the West's approach. Skepticism also abounds about interventionism and sanctions given its own past.

On the final leg of his South American tour, Scholz on Monday became the first foreign leader to visit Lula since his inauguration. Europe is seeking to reset ties with Brazil which were frosty under far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro.

In a joint news conference in Brasilia, Scholz said he was delighted by Brazil's return to the world stage. But he grew stony-faced as his fellow leftist leader expounded his views on the Ukraine war.

"I think Russia made the classic mistake of invading another country's territory, so Russia is wrong," Lula told reporters.

"But I still think that when one won't, two won't fight. You have to want peace," he said, adding that he had heard very little from either side about finding a peaceful end to the war.

Lula also said Brazil would not provide ammunition to Ukraine for German-made Gepard anti-aircraft guns, as reportedly requested by Germany.

Brazil would work with other countries to help achieve peace in Ukraine, as his country has not taken sides, he said.

China has an important role to play in peace talks, he added, which he will discuss on a planned visit to Beijing in March.

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

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