Ukraine promises not to hit Russia with new long-range missiles
Kyiv will not use new long-range weapons from the West to strike targets in Russia, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov promised on Sunday.
"On Friday our partners decided to provide us with weapons capable of firing at a distance of 150 kilometres," or around 90 miles, Mr Reznikov told a news conference.
"We always... [promise] not to use the weapons of foreign partners against the territory of Russia, only against their units in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine for the purpose of de-occupying our land," he said.
In an interview published on Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said there was an agreement to this effect.
The US on Friday announced a $2.2 billion package of arms and munitions for Ukraine, which the Pentagon said included a new rocket-propelled precision bomb that could nearly double Kyiv's strike range against Russian forces.
They potentially give Kyiv's forces the ability to strike anywhere in the Russian-occupied Donbas, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, as well as the northern part of occupied Crimea.
France and Italy are also expected to deliver mobile surface-to-air missile systems.
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Today's top stories included:
Rumours swirled that Ukraine's defence minister will be replaced
Ukraine said it expects that Russia will begin a major new offensive in the next few weeks, to mark a year since the invasion began
Russia is press-ganging women convicts in occupied regions of Ukraine into joining the Russian army, the Ukrainian military said
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he secured a promise from Vladimir Putin not to kill President Zelensky during his brief stint as a mediator at the start of the invasion - but Ukraine expressed skepticism about the legitimacy of any promise from Putin
The head of the Wagner mercenary group said his soldiers are fighting for "every street, house and stairwell" in Bakhmut as Ukrainian forces refuse to back down
Arming Ukraine "is the only path to peace", said UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly
In pictures: Ukrainians undertake military training in Spain
Wagner-linked mercenary who claimed to have originated 'Z' war symbol shot
A Russian spin doctor-turned-mercenary has apparently been targeted in a possible execution attempt in eastern Ukraine in what analysts have suggested could be a warning to the increasingly influential boss of the Wagner Group.
Igor Mangushev, a captain in the Russian army going under the call name of Bereg, was taken to a hospital in the town of Stakhanov with a gunshot in the head in the early hours on Saturday.
Read the full report from The Telegraph’s Russia Correspondent Nataliya Vasilyeva.
280,000 still without power in Odesa
About 280,000 people are still without power in Odesa after a fire broke out at an overloaded substation yesterday, Ukraine's Prime Minister has said.
The fire initially left nearly 500,000 people under blackout after months of Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy grid, but the supply was partially restored overnight.
Rumours swirl that Ukraine’s defence minister will be removed
Rumours are swirling that Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov will be replaced next week, following a report in the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.
Sources told the newspaper that Mr Reznikov could be moved to the justice ministry, while his position would be taken over by Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency.
Mr Reznikov has led the defence ministry throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but recently the department has been dogged by a high-profile corruption scandal. Mr Reznikov denies any wrongdoing.
Asked about the rumours, Mr Reznikov said he knew of no plan to replace him but that it was a decision for the president.
“No official is in the chair forever,” he said.
In pictures: Sunday service amid shellfire
After months of stalemate, Vladimir Putin’s army is on the move again
Volodymyr Zelensky last week declared that Russia’s long-awaited spring offensive had begun.
Other officials are bracing for something big around next month's anniversary of the invasion on Feb 24.
What is certain is that after months of stalemate, Vladimir Putin’s army is on the move again.
In the past few weeks, they have put in attacks along the southern front in the Zaporizhzhia region, in the south-eastern Donetsk region town of Vuhledar, as well as along the forested front line in Luhansk region.
What no one yet knows is which is the main threat.
Read the full analysis from The Telegraph’s Senior Foreign Correspondent Roland Oliphant
Russia 'recruiting women prisoners for human wave attacks'
Russia is so desperate for soldiers that it is press-ganging women convicts in occupied regions of Ukraine into joining the Russian army, the Ukrainian military has said.
The intelligence tip-off confirms reports in January that the Russian army was pressuring thousands of Ukrainian convicts in areas it occupies to sign up to fight.
“Throughout the week, the occupiers recruited about 50 people from the women's correctional colony in the city of Snizhne in the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk region,” said the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
It comes after the UK Ministry of Defence suggested that Russia was running out of soldiers to use in so-called "human wave attacks" as recruitment from Russian prisons slows.
Women do not usually fight in front line combat roles in the Russian army.
Lack of jets ‘will cost lives’
The West's reluctance to send Ukraine modern fighter jet will cost “more lives”, the country’s defence minister has said.
"I am sure that we will win this war, I am sure we will liberate all the occupied territories," Oleksii Reznikov told reporters in Kyiv. But without the delivery of Western jets, "it will cost us more lives".
The Ukrainian government began asking for fighter jets in recent weeks after finally securing tanks but US President Joe Biden has ruled out sending F-16s and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said that the delivery of jets was not up for discussion.
Ukraine anticipates major Russian offensive before Western supplies arrive
Ukraine expects a possible major Russian offensive this month, but Kyiv has the reserves to hold back Moscow's forces even though not all the West's latest military supplies will have arrived in time, Ukraine's defence minister said on Sunday.
At a news conference, Oleksii Reznikov said Russia could launch the new attack in February for symbolic reasons around the first anniversary of its invasion, but that Moscow's resources were not ready from a military point of view.
Images from the front line
Wives of fallen Ukrainian soldiers create Facebook support group
The wives of fallen Ukrainian soldiers have set up a Facebook support group, talking about their struggle to cope with grief and to find sufficient support from the community as the war continues.
Two women who created the group spoke to Current Time TV, a Russian-language television channel funded by the US government.
Oksana said she had retreated to the home she and her husband built together as a “fortress” against the outside world, using painting as a form of relief, while Tetiana said “the pain will not disappear… It is with us for life”.
"Live for two - win for two"
Wives of fallen Ukrainian soldiers tell about their feelings and pain from their losses.
📹: CurrentTimeTv pic.twitter.com/PdxPgEChIl
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 5, 2023
Ukraine promises not to strike Russian territory with new long-range weapons
Ukraine will not use longer-range weapons pledged by the United States to hit Russian territory and will only target Russian units in occupied Ukrainian territory, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Sunday.
The United States confirmed on Friday that a new rocket that would double Ukraine's strike range was included in a $2 billion military aid package to help Kyiv fight back Russian forces.
"We always tell our partners officially that we will not use weapons supplied by foreign partners to fire on Russian territory. We only fire on Russian units on temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory," Mr Reznikov told reporters.
In an interview published on Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said there was an agreement with President Zelensky that weapons supplied by the West must only be used on Ukrainian territory.
"We have a consensus on that," he said.
Wagner chief's bravado ‘overcompensating for declining influence’, says ISW
Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is “likely overcompensating for his declining influence by continuing to frame himself as the sole victor in the Bakhmut area and attempting to leverage his remaining influence online,” according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Prigozhin founded the Kremlin-backed mercenary group but in recent weeks cracks have emerged in his relationship with the Russian military as they compete for credit in the war in Ukraine.
Prigozhin said earlier today that his soldiers were engaged in fierce fighting in Bakhmut, denying Russian media claims that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from the city, and yesterday spoke about the group's own battle strategy.
However, the mercenary leader seems to have lost favour with some Russian military bloggers, ISW noted. For example, one characterised him as a “brilliant troll”, claiming that mobilised forces were suffering significant casualties along the Donbas frontline due to insufficient support while Wagner Group forces concentrated their efforts around Bakhmut.
Russia preparing to stage 'decisive offensive' in Bakhmut and Western Luhansk
Russia is concentrating troops and military equipment around the western Luhansk Oblast and Bakhmut areas in order to “stage a decisive offensive”, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank.
Russia has been attempting to encircle and capture Bakhmut for weeks in fighting that has cost both sides heavily and it is now expected to attempt a decisive offensive.
ISW said on Saturday that it “continues to observe Russian transfers of military equipment and elite units and the preparations of logistics in occupied Luhansk Oblast that support Western, Ukrainian, and Russian forecasts for the western Luhansk Oblast–Bakhmut offensive”.
However the focus on this objective means that Moscow's efforts elsewhere are being neglected, including around Donetsk city and Zaporizhzhia, where Russia does not have enough manpower to conduct an offensive, it said.
Germany has 'hundreds' of pieces of evidence of Russian war crimes
Germany has collected "hundreds" of pieces of evidence showing war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine, its prosecutor general said on Sunday as he called for an international effort to bring Russian leaders to justice.
"At the moment we are focusing on mass killings in Bucha and attacks on Ukraine's civil infrastructure," prosecutor Peter Frank told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
He said most of the evidence came from interviews with Ukrainian refugees, and the goal was now to "prepare for a possible later court case - whether in Germany or with our foreign partners or an international court".
Mr Frank's office has previously used the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of certain crimes regardless of where they took place, to try Syrians over atrocities committed during the country's civil war.
‘Putin won't honour promise to spare Zelensky’
A former Israeli prime minister who served briefly as a mediator at the start of Russia's war with Ukraine says he drew a promise from the Russian president not to kill his Ukrainian counterpart.
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emerged as an unlikely intermediary, becoming one of the few Western leaders to meet President Vladimir Putin during the war.
In a new interview, Mr Bennett says he asked Putin about whether he intended to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that Putin gave him his word he would not.
Mr Bennett appears to have accepted the promise, informing Mr Zelensky in a phone call afterwards that “100 per cent [Putin] won't kill you.”
But Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said Putin’s “promises” were meaningless.
“In the past, Putin has made promises not to occupy Crimea, not to violate Minsk agreements, not to invade Ukraine, yet he has done all of these things. Do not be fooled: he is an expert liar. Every time he has promised not to do something, it has been exactly part of his plan,” Dmytro Kuleba said.
Russia ‘burns Ukrainian books’ in occupied areas
Russians in occupied areas are seizing Ukrainian books and burning them, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
A post on the website of the National Resistance Centre, a website run by Ukraine’s special operations forces, states that books are being confiscated from local libraries and schools.
“In Rovenki (Luhansk region), cases of mass burning of Ukrainian literature in local boiler houses have been recorded,” it says.
Ukraine needs ‘hundreds of thousands of drones’
The Ukrainian Defence Forces need hundreds of thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who has been meeting with local developers and manufacturers.
Drones are needed for attack purposes, to deliver military equipment and to help evacuate the wounded, he said.
He added that supporting the local UAV industry was a key part of maintaining an independent military industry and defence capability in Ukraine.
Russians 'pummelling' Ukrainian cities
The Telegraph's Senior Foreign Correspondent Roland Oliphant reports from Kharkiv, which has suffered multiple missile strikes in recent days, including this morning.
Fighting rages for ‘every street, house and stairwell’ in Bakhmut
The head of Russia's private Wagner militia said on Sunday that fierce fighting was ongoing in the northern parts of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been the focus of Russian forces' attention for weeks.
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the founder and head of the Wagner group, said his soldiers were "fighting for every street, every house, every stairwell" against Ukrainian forces who were not retreating.
Russian forces have been attempting to encircle and capture Bakhmut, a city in the eastern Donbas region, for weeks, and appear to be making slow, grinding and costly progress.
Prigozhin rejected reports in Russian media outlets that Ukrainian troops were abandoning Bakhmut.
"Ukrainian forces are not retreating anywhere. They are fighting to the last," he said in a statement published on his Telegram channel.
Ukraine 'holding on' to last corner of Luhansk
Ukraine remains in control of the village of Bilohorivka, the last part of Luhansk still held by its forces, a regional official said on Sunday.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said the situation there is tense but under control.
"Information is being spread in the Russian Federation about the alleged capture of Bilohorivka and the removal of our people from there," Mr Haidai told the national broadcaster.
"Our troops remain in their positions, nobody has captured Bilohorivka, nobody has entered there, there is no enemy there,” he said.
"The number of Russian attacks has... increased, but all of them have been repulsed by our troops,” he added.
Some Moscow-installed officials and pro-Russian military bloggers have recently claimed Russian advances in the direction of Bilohorivka.
Arming Ukraine ‘is the only path to peace’, says UK Foreign Secretary
Helping to arm Ukraine so it can defend itself against Russia is the swiftest path to achieving peace, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in an article published on Sunday.
Cleverly was writing in a Maltese newspaper ahead of a visit on Tuesday to the Mediterranean island, which assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council at the start of February.
"Like all authoritarian rulers, Putin responds only to strength in his opponents," Cleverly wrote in the Times of Malta.
He added that he was delighted that Germany and the US had joined Britain in agreeing to send tanks to Ukraine.
"Giving the Ukrainians the tools they need to finish the job is the swiftest - indeed the only - path to peace," he wrote.
Ukraine strips citizenship of pro-Russia politicians
Ukraine has reportedly stripped a group of influential pro-Russia politicians of their citizenship.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said late on Saturday that he had “signed the relevant documents to take another step to protect and cleanse our state from those on the side of the aggressor.”
He said the request had come from the security services, regarding a group of people with dual Russian citizenship.
According to Ukrainian state media, the list includes several top politicians from the office of Viktor Yanukovych, who served as Ukraine's pro-Russian president from 2010 until he was removed from office in 2014 during the pro-Western revolution.
The list includes Dmytro Tabachnyk, former minister of education and science, Andriy Klyuyev, former deputy prime minister, and Vitaliy Zakharchenko, former interior minister, RBC-Ukraine news agency reported.
Russia throwing 'more and more of its forces' at the front line
The situation on the front line is becoming increasingly difficult, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Saturday, as Russia throws all its weight towards breaking through Ukrainian defences.
“During the 346 days of this war, I often had to say that the situation at the front was tough. And that the situation is getting tougher,” Mr Zelensky said.
“Now is that time again. A time when the occupier throws more and more of its forces to break our defences. Now, it is very difficult in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, near Lyman, and other directions.”
But “the resilience of our soldiers decides everything,” he said.
Bakhmut ‘increasingly isolated’ amid Russian advances
The city of Bakhmut is becoming “increasingly isolated” as Russia slowly advances around it, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
Russia has been battling for months to completely capture the city in eastern Ukraine and both sides have suffered heavy losses.
In its morning update on Sunday, the MoD said that “Russia has continued to make small advances in its attempt to encircle” Bakhmut over the past week.
“The M03 and the H32 – the two main roads into the city for Ukrainian defenders – are likely now both threatened by direct fire,” it said, and another route linking Bakhmut to the town of Siversk was likely captured by Wagner paramilitaries earlier in the week.
“While multiple alternative cross-country supply routes remain available to Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is increasingly isolated,” the MoD update stated.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 5 February 2023
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/GXvI2wG4B6
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/r9hMX3jvHQ
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) February 5, 2023
Russians 'trying to destroy Kharkiv bit by bit'
The target of the missile strikes on Kharkiv on Sunday morning was not immediately. The S-300 anti-aircraft rockets that were reportedly used are not as accurate as purpose-built ballistic or cruise missiles. It is possible that the Russians were trying to hit a specific building but missed.
However, Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of Kharkiv, said there were no military targets nearby and that the Russians were "just trying bit by bit to destroy Kharkiv."
Russia has frequently struck residential buildings during its invasion of Ukraine.
Telegraph photographer Julian Simmonds captured the aftermath of the strikes.
Civilians injured in strikes on Kharkiv
Two Russian missiles struck central Kharkiv this morning, hitting an apartment block and a university and injuring at least five people.
Two loud explosions were heard in quick succession in the city centre at about 8.20am local time, The Telegraph's Roland Oliphant reported from the scene.
One missile landed at the foot of a 19th century block of flats, while another hit the roof of a neighbouring university building, destroying the top three floors.
The governor of Kharkiv said the injured included a 54-year-old woman and 58-year-old man from the apartment block, a 51-year-old security guard from the university and an 83-year-old resident of another building.
Firemen searched the damaged buildings for survivors, removing several wounded civilians on stretchers.
One man suffered severe lacerations to his face from flying glass. He returned to his flat to collect belongings and clear up after being bandaged up.
A parked car was also destroyed.