Europe will stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday as Western delegates discussed the need to bolster support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s invading forces. Earlier, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said during a visit to Ukraine that he hoped to make progress on a safe zone deal around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant, though stressing that negotiations were tough. Follow our blog for the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
2:05pm: Ukraine ends search for survivors in Dnipro
Ukraine has now called off search and rescue operations at the rubble of an apartment building in Dnipro where at least 44 people were killed in a Russian missile attack.
The State Emergency Service said 20 people were still unaccounted after Saturday’s attack and that the 44 confirmed dead included five children. Thirty-nine people had been rescued from the rubble and a total of 79 had been hurt, it said.
“At 1:00 pm on January 17, search and rescue operations in the city of Dnipro at the site of the rocket attack were completed,” the emergency service wrote on the Telegram messaging app under a photograph from the scene.
1:45pm: EU sets up reserve in Finland to respond to nuclear, chemical threats
The European Union has given Finland €242 million ($262 million) to set up for the first time a reserve against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats for use by all member states, the Finnish government says.
“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the need to strengthen the EU CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) preparedness,” European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.
The reserve will consist of rescue equipment and medical supplies, such as antidotes and radiation metres, that are intended to protect first responders and the civilian population, Finland’s interior ministry said.
Finland shares a 1,300-km (800-mile) border with Russia and is located close to the Baltic states which also fear that an escalation of the war in Ukraine could lead to the use of nuclear weapons or a nuclear accident.
1:10pm: Death toll from Russian strike on Dnipro apartment building rises to 44
Ukraine said Tuesday 22 people were still missing after a Russian missile struck an apartment block in the city of Dnipro, killing at least 44 people.
Saturday’s strike was one of the deadliest attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly 11 months ago. The Kremlin denies that its forces were responsible.
Dnipro’s Mayor Borys Filatov gave the new toll from the attack which ripped open the side of the Soviet-designed housing block in the central city.
The presidency said earlier that one of the bodies recovered from the rubble Tuesday was that of a child. Officials have said five children were among the dead.
12:40pm: Russian economy likely shrank in 2022 but beating expectations, says Putin
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the Russian economy was likely to have shrunk by 2.5 percent in 2022, but that it was performing better than most experts had predicted.
Putin, who was speaking at a meeting with top officials including the finance minister and central bank chief, said real wage growth needed to be stimulated.
12:15pm: Serbia asks Russia to stop recruiting its people for Ukraine war
Russia should halt its efforts to recruit Serbs to fight for its Wagner paramilitary group in Ukraine, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said in a rare criticism of Moscow.
Vucic criticised Russia’s websites and social media groups for publishing advertisements in the Serbian language in which the Wagner group calls volunteers to join its ranks.
“Why do you, from Wagner, call anyone from Serbia when you know that it is against our regulations?” Vucic said. The Serbian legislature bans participation of its citizens in conflicts abroad and several people have been sentenced for doing so.
Serb volunteers took part in the fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. No one has a clear idea of exact numbers at any one time but dozens of Serbs have signed up to fight in Ukraine since 2014, observers say.
12:02pm: Wagner deserter seeks asylum in Norway after fleeing Russia
A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has said he fled to Norway and is seeking asylum in fear for his life after witnessing the killing of captured deserters from Wagner.
Andrei Medvedev, who joined the group last July on a four-month contract and says he fought in Ukraine, said in a video posted by the Gulagu.net rights group that he had crossed the border into Norway before being detained by Norwegian police.
“I am afraid of dying in agony,” Medvedev told Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Gulagu.net rights group, which said it had helped Medvedev leave Russia after he approached the group in fear for his life.
Medvedev said he crossed the border, climbing through barbed-wire fences and evading a border patrol with dogs, and heard guards firing shots as he ran through a forest and over thin and breaking ice into Norway.
11:45am: Von der Leyen vows ‘no let-up’ in EU support for Ukraine
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has promised there will be “no let-up” in EU support for Ukraine as she addresses delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“There will be no let-up in our steadfast support to Ukraine, from helping to restore power, heating and water, to preparing for the long-term effort of reconstruction,” she said after meeting the country’s first lady, Olga Zelenska.
“We are in it – for as long as it takes and stand with our Ukrainian friends.”
11:10am: Ukraine says 9,000 civilians killed since start of invasion
More than 9,000 civilians, including 453 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last February, a senior Ukrainian presidential aide has told delegates gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“We have registered 80,000 crimes committed by Russian invaders and over 9,000 civilians have been killed, including 453 children,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential staff.
“We will not forgive a single (act of) torture or life taken. Each criminal will be held accountable,” Yermak added, reiterating that Ukraine wants a special international tribunal to try Russian political leaders and reparations for the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion.
The office of the UN high commissioner for human rights said on Monday that more than 7,000 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded.
10:30am: Ukraine presidential adviser resigns over Dnipro missile comments
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has tendered his resignation after a public outcry over comments he made suggesting a Russian missile that killed at least 41 people in the city of Dnipro had been shot down by Ukraine.
Arestovych announced his resignation on Facebook after publicly apologising and rowing back on his comments in a post on the Telegram messaging app. The Ukrainian Air Force says the apartment complex was hit by a Russian Kh-22 missile, which Kyiv does not have the equipment to shoot down.
“I offer my sincere apologies to the victims and their relatives, the residents of Dnipro and everyone who was deeply hurt by my prematurely erroneous version of the reason for the Russian missile striking a residential building,” he wrote.
10:15: Ukraine’s first lady to address Davos forum
Ukraine’s first lady will give a rare international address at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in the Swiss town of Davos later today, part of a push by President Volodymyr Zelensky to acquire more foreign weapons.
Olena Zelenska (@ZelenskaUA), First Lady of Ukraine, will join the @wef’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. https://t.co/pmGTXzEOU5 #wef23 pic.twitter.com/iEanifqUaK
— World Economic Forum (@wef) January 16, 2023
Olena Zelenska’s speech will come after she told CNN through an interpreter on Sunday that despite Russian missile strikes that have pounded Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian areas in recent months, “we understand that upon carrying on for a year, we are capable of persevering for even longer”.
Zelensky will be beamed in by video on Wednesday to complement the in-person delegation of his wife and officials, including Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
9:25am: Russian defence minister visits troops involved in Ukraine offensive
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has inspected a military headquarters in Ukraine, his office said, without specifying the base’s whereabouts.
At the headquarters of Russia’s Vostok (East) group in an unnamed location, Shoigu was briefed by its commander and heard from commanders of other formations “on the progress of combat mission”, the ministry said in a statement.
A video released by the ministry with the statement showed Shoigu holding a meeting with military commanders in person and via video-link. Among those taking part in the video call was Russia’s Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who was recently put in charge of Moscow’s forces in Ukraine.
>> Read more: Putin’s army chief handed ‘poisoned chalice’ amid Russian power tussle
The video also showed Shoigu handing out awards to servicemen.
8:30am: Tanks for Ukraine to top agenda of new German defence minister
The first item on the agenda of Germany’s next defence minister will be whether to deliver main battle tanks to Ukraine, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has told Deutschlandfunk radio broadcaster, commenting on the resignation of his cabinet colleague Christine Lambrecht, who quit as defence minister on Monday.
Britain’s offer to send more than a dozen Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine has increased pressure on Germany to do likewise with its coveted Leopard 2 battle tanks. Lambrecht’s resignation, just days before a critical meeting at the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, has raised questions over whether Berlin will give the green light for battle tank exports to Ukraine.
Click here for more analysis from FRANCE 24’s Leela Jacinto.
7:45am: ‘Kyiv is concerned Russia might try to seize another nuclear plant’
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog is in Ukraine this week for talks on setting up a safe zone around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine.
FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports from the capital, Kyiv, where security at the country’s other nuclear plants remains a major concern.
5:55am: UN watchdog optimistic about Ukraine nuclear plant protection
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has said he hopes to make progress on a safe zone deal around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine, but stressed it was a tough negotiation.
Russian forces in March captured the Soviet-era plant, Europe’s largest, soon after their invasion of Ukraine. It has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear disaster.
“The situation around the plant continues to be very, very dangerous,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters during a visit to Ukraine. “A nuclear accident, an accident with serious radiological consequences, is in nobody’s interest.”
Russia downplayed the IAEA’s visit and its powers.
5:05am: Russian flags banned at Australian Open tennis after Ukraine complaint
Russian and Belarusian flags have been banned from the Melbourne Park precinct during the Australian Open after a complaint from the Ukraine ambassador to the country.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, posted a picture showing a Russian flag hanging from a bush beside the court where his compatriot Kateryna Baindl was playing her first-round match on Monday.
“I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the game of the Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl at the Australian Open today,” he wrote on Twitter. “I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”
I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the game of the Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl at the Australian Open today. I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its “neutral flag” policy. @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/zw8pLN4FIF
— Vasyl Myroshnychenko (@AmbVasyl) January 16, 2023
Tennis Australia responded on Tuesday by banning the flags of the two countries.
“Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open,” Tennis Australia said in a statement. “Our initial policy was that fans could bring them in but could not use them to cause disruption. Yesterday we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside (…). The ban is effective immediately.”
10:30pm: Zelensky says decision-making on Ukraine arms supplies needs to speed up
The deadly attack on an apartment building in the central city of Dnipro shows the need for faster and better coordinated decisions on supplying arms for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address Monday.
“What happened in Dnipro, the fact that Russia is preparing new attempts to seize the initiative in the war, the fact that the nature of military action at the front requires new decisions on arms supplies – only underscores how important it is to coordinate all the efforts of the coalition defending Ukraine and freedom,” Zelensky said. “And to speed up decision-making.”
Sources from: CNBC.COM
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