The Kremlin said it foiled a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian territory overnight as Moscow’s forces pressed their offensive in eastern Ukraine, attempting to encircle the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut. The fighting came as Ukraine’s head of military intelligence dismissed fears that China was considering supplying arms to Moscow. Read our blog to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

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9: 45pm: Fighting around Bakhmut intensifying, says Zelensky

The intensity of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces around the eastern city of Bakhmut is continuing to increase, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday.

8: 41pm: Putin signs bill suspending last nuclear arms agreement with US

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a bill formally suspending the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States, amid soaring tensions with Washington over Moscow’s action in Ukraine.

Putin had declared a week ago in his state-of-the-nation address that Moscow was suspending its participation in the 2010 New START treaty. He had charged that Russia can’t accept US inspections of its nuclear sites under the pact at a time when Washington and its NATO allies have openly declared Russia’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal.

Both houses of parliament quickly ratified Putin’s bill on the pact’s suspension last week. On Tuesday, Putin signed it into law, effective immediately. The document says that it’s up to the president to decide whether Moscow could return to the pact.

Putin has emphasized that Moscow was not withdrawing from the pact altogether, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said the country would respect the caps on nuclear weapons set under the treaty and keep notifying the US about test launches of ballistic missiles.

8: 03pm: US senior official denies misuse of Ukraine aid 

There is “no evidence” Ukraine is misusing the tens of billions in aid provided since Russia invaded last year, a senior Pentagon official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee questioned Defense Department number three Colin Kahl and two other officials for two and a half hours, as Republicans seek to step up oversight of American aid to Ukraine after taking control of the lower chamber of Congress.

“There’s no evidence that the Ukrainians are diverting it to the black market,” Kahl told lawmakers of assistance to Kyiv.

“That’s not surprising given the intensity of the fight and the fact that they are clearly using what we are providing them and what our allies and partners are providing them to maximum effect,” he said.

7: 22pm: ICC investigates Russian attacks on Ukraine power infrastructure

The International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor was in Ukraine on Tuesday to investigate Russia’s campaign of missile and drone attacks on power and other infrastructure that killed hundreds of civilians and left millions with no electricity or water.

Russia says they are legitimate strikes aimed at weakening the enemy’s military, but Ukraine casts them as a means of intimidating ordinary people.

The Geneva conventions and additional protocols shaped by international courts say parties involved in a military conflict must distinguish between “civilian objects and military objectives” and that attacks on civilian objects are forbidden.

“Generally we see clearly a pattern, I think, in terms of the number, scale and breadth of attacks against the power grids of Ukraine and we need to look at why that’s taking place; are they legitimate targets or not?” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said to reporters in front of a damaged apartment block in the satellite town of Vyshhorod, just north of Kyiv, where a Russian missile fell in late November killing eight civilians and wounding many more.

“We need to find out what pattern, if any, is demonstrated by that because these are not isolated occurrences.”

7: 00pm: Ukraine joining NATO soon ‘not in the cards’

“The idea that Ukraine could join (NATO) before the conflict ends isn’t in the cards.” said FRANCE 24’s Dave Keating from Brussels over the ongoing discussion of Ukraine joining the alliance.

The question remains, “does inviting Ukraine in NATO at that point (when the war ends) risk reigniting the conflict and turning it into a direct NATO-Russia confrontation”, Keating said.

Click on the video below to watch full report.

5: 42pm: US defense official foresees slow Russian gains in Ukraine

Colin Kahl, the US under secretary of defense for policy, described the front line in Ukraine on Tuesday as a “grinding slog” and said he did not expect Russia to be able to make significant territorial gains in the near term.

“So you may see small portions of territory change hands in the coming weeks and months. I do not think that there’s anything I see that suggests the Russians can sweep across Ukraine and make significant territorial gains anytime in the next year or so,” Kahl told a House of Representatives hearing.

5: 29pm: Concern over reports that China is considering lethal aid to Russia  

The top US diplomat for East Asia Daniel Kritenbrink said on Tuesday the United States has shared its concerns that China is considering providing lethal assistance to Russia’s war in Ukraine and many US partners share those concerns.

Kritenbrink made the remark at a US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier that if China provides lethal aid to Moscow for the conflict it will be a serious problem Beijing in its relationship with countries around the world.

5: 07pm: Finland starts building wall on Russian border

Finland has begun construction of its planned 200-kilometre fence on the Russian border, the country’s border guard said Tuesday, as Helsinki fears Moscow could use migrant flows at the frontier for political purposes.

Terrain work began on Tuesday “with forest clearance and will proceed in such a way that road construction and fence installation can be started in March”, the Finnish Border Guard said in a statement.

The three-kilometre pilot project at the southeastern border crossing in Imatra is expected to be completed by the end of June, it added.

Construction of a further 70 kilometres (43 miles), mainly in southeastern Finland, will take place between 2023 and 2025.

3: 33pm: Putin demands stronger border controls with Ukraine over drone attacks

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered officials to tighten control of the border with Ukraine after a spate of drone attacks that Russian authorities blamed on Kyiv delivered a new challenge to Moscow more than a year after its full-scale invasion of its neighbor. 

While Putin didn’t refer to any specific attacks in a speech in Moscow, his comments came hours after drone attacks targeted several areas in southern and western Russia and authorities closed the airspace over St. Petersburg in response to what some reports said was a drone. 

Also Tuesday, several Russian television stations aired a missile attack warning that officials blamed on a hacking attack.

The attacks caused no casualties but provoked a security stir as the war with Kyiv stretched into its second year last week.

2: 48pm: US would target Chinese companies if Beijing provides lethal aid to Russia, Blinken says

Washington will not hesitate to target Chinese companies and individuals with sanctions if Beijing violate US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

If China provides lethal aid to Moscow for the conflict, it will be a serious problem for Beijing in its relationship with countries around the world, Blinken told reporters during a trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

1: 30pm: Drone crashes in ‘failed attack’ southeast of Moscow

A drone has crashed near a natural gas distribution station southeast of Moscow in an apparent failed attack, the regional governor has said.

Andrei Vorobyov reported the incident near the town of Kolomna, 110 km (68 miles) from the centre of Moscow, shortly after the defence ministry accused Ukraine of attempting two drone strikes in southern Russia overnight.

Postings on Russian social media showed the grey metal wreckage of a drone lying in a snowdrift by the edge of a wood said to be near Kolomna. The images could not be immediately verified.

1: 05pm: Ukraine will join NATO in ‘long term’, Stoltenberg says

Ukraine will become a member of the Western military alliance in the “long term”, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has told reporters during a visit to Finland’s capital Helsinki.

“NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member of our alliance, but at the same time that is a long-term perspective,” Stoltenberg said.

His visit to Finland coincides with the start of parliamentary debates on accelerating the country’s bid to join the alliance after decades of military non-alignment, with neighbouring Sweden also applying to join.

The two Nordic countries have the backing of all but two of NATO’s 30 members, the holdouts being Hungary and particularly Turkey.

12: 10pm: Moscow says Ukraine launched failed drone attacks on Russian territory

Russia‘s defence ministry has accused Ukraine of launching attempted drone strikes against civil infrastructure targets in two southern Russian regions overnight, adding that the attacks had failed.

“Overnight, the Kyiv authorities attempted to use unmanned aerial vehicles to attack civilian infrastructure facilities in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions,” the defence ministry said in a statement. It said its anti-drone defence systems had repelled the attacks, causing the drones to veer off course and fail to inflict any damage.

There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian authorities.

Russian state news agencies had earlier reported a fire at an oil depot in the Krasnodar region, around 240 km (149 miles) south-east of the Crimean peninsula, after a drone was spotted flying overhead.

11: 30am: France spent €630 million hosting Ukrainian refugees in 2022

France spent more than 630 million euros last year hosting almost 115,000 refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country’s top audit body has said.

The state auditor, the Cour des Comptes, said in a report that Ukrainians seeking shelter had enjoyed “satisfactory” conditions under an unprecedented “temporary protection” scheme last year. The scheme has allowed them access to rights denied to other asylum seekers, including the ability to work, health services, schooling for children and emergency accommodation.



Costs for the comparatively generous programme reached 634 million euros ($673 million), with most spent on housing (250 million euros) and cash payouts (220 million euros). Per person, France spent around twice as much on Ukrainian refugees as on “classic asylum seekers”, the auditor found.

11: 05am: Hacking attack prompts Russian broadcasters to issue air raid alerts

A hacking attack has caused some Russian regional broadcasters to put out a false warning urging people to take shelter from an incoming missile attack, the emergencies ministry has said.

“As a result of the hacking of servers of radio stations and TV channels, in some regions of the country information about the announcement of an air alert was broadcast,” the ministry said in a statement. “This information is false and does not correspond to reality.”

Among the regions where the fake messages were broadcast was Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

10: 15am: Online learning keeps children in school in wartime Ukraine

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine barring millions of children from attending school, online classes are often the only link between teachers and pupils in the war-torn country, even as they contend with daily bombardments, blackouts and air raid alerts.

FRANCE 24’s Robert Parsons, Pauline Godart and Raid Abu Zaideh report from a school in Zaporizhzhia, in southeastern Ukraine, which has been teaching exclusively online since the start of the war.

8: 55am: Bakhmut situation ‘extremely tense’ as Russia seeks to encircle city

The situation in war-ravaged Bakhmut is “extremely tense”, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces has said as Russian troops step up their efforts to encircle the eastern city.

“Despite significant losses, the enemy threw in the most prepared assault units of Wagner, who are trying to break through the defences of our troops and surround the city,” Ukraine’s Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi was quoted as saying on a military messaging platform.

Ukraine’s military said earlier Russia had strengthened its forces in the Bakhmut area and was shelling settlements around the city.

Victory in Bakhmut would give Russia its first major prize in more than half a year and open the way to the capture of the last remaining urban centres in the Donetsk region.



6: 40am: Ukraine intel chief sees no sign China plans to arm Russia

Ukraine‘s head of military intelligence has brushed aside claims that China is considering supplying arms to Russia, telling US media that he saw no “signs that such things are even being discussed”.

Senior US officials have said as recently as Sunday that they were “confident” China was considering providing lethal equipment to Moscow, with a diplomatic pressure campaign underway to discourage it from doing so.

But when asked about the possibility in a lengthy interview with Voice of America published on Monday, Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said: “I do not share this opinion.”

“As of now, I do not think that China will agree to the transfer of weapons to Russia,” he said. “I do not see any signs that such things are even being discussed.”

5: 35am: Belarus leader and Putin ally Lukashenko on China visit

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, is due in Beijing to begin a three-day state visit as geopolitical tensions rise over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

China has described the visit is an “opportunity to promote the further development of all-around cooperation between the two countries”, but there have been growing concerns that Beijing is considering providing military assistance to Russia, something United States officials say would bring serious consequences. 

China has called the US allegations a smear campaign, saying it is committed to promoting peace talks and accusing Washington and its allies of fueling the conflict by providing Ukraine with defensive weapons. 

“The US has no right to point fingers at China-Russia relations. We will by no means accept the US pressure and coercion,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Monday at a daily briefing. 

4: 15am: Russia fights to encircle Ukraine’s defenders in Bakhmut

Russian forces are pressing their offensive in eastern Ukraine as they attempt to encircle the mining city of Bakhmut, the scene of some of the toughest fighting since the start of the war.

Ukraine’s military said Russia had strengthened its forces in the Bakhmut area and was shelling settlements around the city. Moscow’s forces are trying to cut the Ukrainian defenders’ supply lines to the city and force them to surrender or withdraw.

“Over the past day, our soldiers repelled more than 60 enemy attacks,” Kyiv’s military said early on Tuesday referring to Bakhmut and nearby eastern areas, adding that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks on the villages of Yadhidne and Berkhivka, on the northern approaches to Bakhmut.

>> Ukraine’s Bakhmut: Inside the frontline city

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russian forces had driven a wedge between those villages as they tried to cut the road west to Chasiv Yar.

“The southern part of Bakhmut is the only area which can be described as under Ukrainian control. In all other districts, the situation is unpredictable,” he said in a video commentary, adding: “It is impossible to say where the front line lies.”

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

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