Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty amid Ukraine war, US says
The US said Tuesday that Russia was not complying with New START, the last remaining arms control treaty between the world’s two main nuclear powers, as tensions soar over the Ukraine war. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are in Paris time (GMT+1).
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8:58pm: Blinken to discuss Russia-Ukraine war with Chinese officials
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine with Chinese officials during a February 5-6 trip to China, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.
Kirby told reporters that talks on a number of issues, such as the two countries’ militaries and climate change, were sidelined when China protested a visit to Taiwan last August by then-US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Blinken will seek to get talks on these issues “restored and/or revitalized,” Kirby said.
8:21pm: IOC says sporting sanctions on Russia ‘non-negotiable’ amid row
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) insisted Tuesday that the sporting sanctions on Russia and Belarus, imposed over the invasion of Ukraine, were “non-negotiable”.
The head of Russia’s Olympic Committee said earlier Tuesday that athletes representing Russia must not be subjected to different conditions than those of other countries, amid a growing row over their possible participation in the Paris 2024 Games.
In response, the IOC said the rules banning Russians from competing under the Russian flag, anthem or colours would remain in place.
“The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian state and governments are not negotiable,” an IOC spokesperson said.
Zelensky on Russia at Olympics
Zelensky says it’s unacceptable that the International Olympic Committee is moving toward allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes compete in the Olympics again. pic.twitter.com/e0mStZDk06
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) January 27, 2023
7:54pm: Rights group accuses Ukraine of using banned mines
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Ukraine of using banned anti-personnel landmines against invading Russian forces, saying almost 50 civilians, including five children, had been wounded.
Ukraine’s defence ministry insisted the army upholds its treaty obligations against mines, but will not comment on the types of weapons used until the war ends.
Distributed by rocket across a target area, the tiny PFM mines are also known as “butterfly” or “petal” mines for their distinctive shape.
“Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines” around the Izyum area in the northeast, HRW arms expert Steve Goose said.
6:51pm: US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty
The US said Tuesday that Russia was not complying with New START, the last remaining arms control treaty between the world’s two main nuclear powers, as tensions soar over the Ukraine war.
Responding to a request from Congress, the State Department faulted Russia for suspending inspections and canceling talks but did not accuse its Cold War rival of expanding nuclear warheads beyond agreed limits.
>> Spectre of ‘tactical’ nuclear attack risks normalising weapons of mass destruction
“Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” a State Department spokesperson said, charging that Moscow’s refusal “threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control.”
“Russia has a clear path for returning to full compliance. All Russia needs to do is allow inspection activities on its territory, just as it did for years under the New START Treaty, and meet in a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission,” he said, referring to the formal talks set up under the treaty.
6:46pm: Baltics, Poland come out against Russian athletes at Olympics
Baltic countries and Poland oppose any participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympic Games, even under a neutral flag, Latvia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
The IOC said last week it was examining a “pathway” for Russians to take part in next year’s Summer Games in Paris, probably as neutral athletes rather than under their national flag.
That announcement sparked an immediate backlash from Kyiv, with a Ukrainian presidential aide accusing the IOC of being a “promoter of war”.
Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics said in a tweet: “Decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the next Olympics is immoral and wrong.”
6:50pm: Ukraine PM says EU-Ukraine summit to take place in Kyiv on Friday
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.
“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,” Shmygal added.
5:50pm: Memorial held for former US Navy Seal killed in Ukraine
Former US 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.
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
5:19pm: Ukraine demands Hungary stop ‘anti-Ukrainian rhetoric’
Ukraine said it delivered a strong protest to Hungary’s ambassador on Tuesday over “disparaging” comments by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and urged Budapest to stop what it called anti-Ukrainian rhetoric.
“The Hungarian side was urged to stop this negative trend in order to avoid irreparable consequences for the relations between the two countries,” the foreign ministry said after summoning the Hungarian ambassador.
4:48pm: Sanctions a ‘blessing’ in disguise, Belarus’s Lukashenko tells Zimbabwe
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday during a visit to Zimbabwe that sanctions imposed by Western nations had brought the two countries closer together, as he offered the Southern African nation “everything you need.”
Lukashenko, who backs Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa are both subjected to US sanctions, along with a coterie of their aides and family members.
“Sanctions on Belarus and Zimbabwe were not just a curse but also a blessing, because if not for the sanctions, maybe Zimbabwe would continue trading with the West, selling its natural resources,” Lukashenko told a news conference in Harare on his first visit to the country. “But now, because of sanctions, Zimbabwe is trading with Belarus and we are happy to trade with Zimbabwe,” Lukashenko continued.
4:42pm: French Caesar artillery system announcement ‘clearly important’ for Kyiv
French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu’s announcement that France will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Kyiv is “clearly important for the Ukrainians, particularly the Caesar artillery system”, said FRANCE 24 Chief Foreign Editor Robert Parsons.
The Caesar system is “highly regarded by the Ukrainians; it’s what’s known as a shoot and scoop system; in other words, you can fire off your artillery and then quit the scene as fast as possible and be well away before the enemy can find out where you were and counter-attack”, Parsons continued.
“They’ve been very successful in Ukraine, so the Ukrainians will be delighted, I am sure, to get another 12. I think that brings that total to over 40 now, closing on 50 Caesars in Ukraine. And the fact that the French are stepping up their training of Ukrainian troops will be welcome too. It’s not just the French who are doing it; the British are contributing even more, I think, to the training than the French are.”
As far as the situation on the ground in Ukraine is concerned, “it’s coming towards spring now; the Ukrainians are desperately in need of the West stepping up supplies of virtually every possible kind of weaponry”, Parsons said.
4:30pm: US Treasury says no indication US funds were misused in Ukraine
The US Treasury Department on Tuesday said it had no indication that US funds had been misused in Ukraine, but would continue to work closely with Ukrainian authorities to ensure appropriate safeguards were in place to avert corruption.
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.
“We have no indication that US funds have been misused in Ukraine,” Treasury spokesperson Megan Apper said in response to a query from Reuters. “We welcome the ongoing efforts by the Ukrainian authorities to work with us to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place so that US assistance reaches those for whom it is intended.
4:29pm: Biden says will discuss Ukraine weapon requests with Zelensky
US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will be discussing Ukraine’s latest requests for advanced weaponry to defend against Russia with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“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.
4:23pm: Russia says would welcome moves to allow its athletes at Olympics
Russia said on Tuesday it would welcome moves by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow its athletes to compete in the Olympics, after the world’s top sports body looked at options for their return to international events.
“Certainly, there is some attempt by the International Olympic Committee to allow our athletes to participate in international competitions,” Stanislav Pozdnyakov, head of Russia’s Olympic Committee, told reporters.
“Maybe in the future Olympic Games as well, of course, we welcome it entirely,” he added, while cautioning against what he said were “additional conditions” imposed on Russian athletes.
4:04pm: Ukraine hails ‘snowball’ effect of French armoured combat vehicles pledge
Ukraine’s defence minister said on Tuesday that a decision by France this month to provide Kyiv with light AMX-10 RC armoured combat vehicles had had a “snowball” effect, with other allies later promising to send tanks.
Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov made his comments in Paris after talks with French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu.
3:35pm: France to send 12 additional powerful Caesar howitzers to Ukraine
France will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Tuesday.
France will also send 150 army staff to Poland to train up to 600 Ukrainian soldiers per month there, he added. Lecornu was speaking after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov in Paris.
The Caesar was the first truck-based howitzer to be mass-produced. This unusual concept of installing a powerful howitzer on the chassis of a military truck proved successful. They have a high degree of mobility, and this is their main advantage. They usually fire on targets outside the line of sight but can also fire at point-blank range.
2:16pm: Ex-Wagner Group member apologises to Ukrainians in Norway
A former member of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group who’s seeking asylum in Norway has apologized to Ukrainians living in the Scandinavian country, who object to his presence there.
“I’m a scoundrel to you, but I only ask you to take into account that I have come to realize that, albeit belatedly, and I spoke against all that,” Andrey Medvedev said in an excerpt from his interview to Norwegian broadcaster NRK that was posted online Tuesday. “I ask you not to condemn me, and in any case I apologize.”
Medvedev who has said that he fears for his life if he returns to Russia, lives in a center for asylum seekers in Oslo. He illegally crossed into Norway, which has a 198-kilometer (123-mile) -long border with Russia, earlier this month.
1:58pm: Russia boosts LNG exports to Europe by 20 percent in 2022
Russia supplied Europe with some 17 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) last year, up about 20 percent from 2021 volumes, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday, partially offsetting a steep decline in Russian pipeline gas exports.
Europe has been boosting imports of seaborne LNG, gas transported in liquid form at minus 160 degrees Celsius (minus 256 Fahrenheit), amid a cut in pipeline gas supplies from Russia due to a deep political crisis over Ukraine.
Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted to a post-Soviet low in 2022 as its largest customer cut imports due to the conflict in Ukraine, and a major pipeline was damaged by mysterious blasts
1:46pm: Ukraine to receive 120-140 tanks in ‘first wave’ of deliveries, minister says
Ukraine will receive 120 to 140 tanks in a “first wave” of deliveries from a coalition of 12 countries, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday.
Ukraine secured pledges earlier this month from a group of Western countries to supply main battle tanks to help Kyiv’s forces fend off Russia’s full-scale invasion.
“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.
1:33pm: Poland not in talks to send F-16s to Ukraine
Poland is not in talks to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a deputy defence minister said Tuesday, a day after the US ruled out delivering fighter jets to the war-torn country.
“There are no official discussions on transferring F-16s at the moment,” Poland’s Wojciech Skurkiewicz told AFP. Poland currently has 48 American-made F-16 warplanes.
Asked earlier whether Poland would take action on sending F-16s to Kyiv, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said “any new air force would be organised and possibly transferred in consultation with NATO countries.”
1:05pm: Britain says ‘not practical’ to send Ukraine fighter jets
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 UK’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.
12:50pm: Putin backs plan for joint military training centres with Belarus
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday backed a plan to set up joint military training centres with Belarus, with fears mounting that Minsk could enter the Ukraine conflict to fight with Moscow.
In a decree published Tuesday, Putin tasked the defence and foreign ministers to conduct talks with Belarus and sign an agreement to establish the facilities.
The document did not specify where they would be based. Earlier this month Moscow and Minsk launched joint air force drills in Belarus that are scheduled to last until February 1.
12:41pm: Russia claims capture of village north of Bakhmut in Ukraine
The Russian military claimed Tuesday to have captured the village of Blagodatne in eastern Ukraine and north of the town of Bakhmut that has been the epicentre of heavy fighting.
The defence ministry said that “as a result of successful offensive actions” its forces “liberated the settlement of Blagodatne of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” using Moscow’s term for the eastern Donetsk region.
8:55am: Russia likely conducted attacks near Vuhledar, Pavlivka, UK says
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, according to Britain’s latest military intelligence update.
“There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the (Bakhmut) sector,” the update added.
“However, it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough.”
8:05am: Ukraine war dominates Nobel year again
From NATO secretary general to the Ukrainian president, the war in Ukraine dominates the names known so far to have been submitted by Tuesday’s deadline for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.
The list of nominees submitted to the committee is kept secret for at least 50 years, in line with Nobel statutes.
Lawmaker Christian Tybring-Gjedde, from Norway’s populist party, hinted on Facebook shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 that he would nominate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Others known to have been nominated are jailed Putin opponents — anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who was the victim of a poisoning attack, and journalist and political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who claims to have survived two poisonings.
7:29am: Kyiv’s allies differ over supplying fighter jets
Ukraine’s defence minister is expected in Paris on Tuesday to meet with French officials amid a debate among Kyiv’s allies over whether to provide fighter jets for its war against Russia, after US President Joe Biden ruled out supplying Ukraine with F-16 jets.
Ukraine planned to push for Western fourth-generation fighters like F-16s after securing supplies of main battle tanks last week, an adviser to Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday.
France and Poland appear to be willing to entertain such a request from Ukraine, with French President Emmanuel Macron telling reporters in The Hague on Monday that “by definition, nothing is excluded” when it comes to military assistance.
But Macron set out a series of “criteria” before making any decision, as Ukraine steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West just days after its allies pledged to deliver tanks. These included that Ukraine must first make the request, that any arms would “not be escalatory” and that they would “not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort”. Macron added that any arms delivery “must not weaken the capacity of the French armed forces”.
6:07am: Human Rights Watch urges Ukraine to investigate antipersonnel mine use
Advocacy group Human Rights Watch called on Ukraine on Tuesday to investigate accusations that its military used thousands of rocket-fired antipersonnel landmines in and around the eastern city of Izium when Russian forces occupied the area.
Human Rights Watch noted that it had also issued three reports last year accusing Russian forces of using antipersonnel mines in multiple areas across Ukraine since they invaded the country on Feb. 24, 2022.
10:17pm: Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine
President Joe Biden said Monday he will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help its war against Russian invaders.
“No,” he said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favour of sending the jets, which Ukraine’s leaders have said are at the top of their latest weapons wish list.
(FRANCE 24 WITH AFP, AP AND REUTERS)