Dmytro Kuleba says first deliveries will come from coalition of 12 countries following weeks of deliberations as fighting continues on 342nd day.

US says it will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks worth $400 million in a matter of months.
US says it will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks worth $400 million in a matter of months. (AA Archive)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ukraine will receive 120 to 140 tanks in a "first wave" of deliveries from a coalition of 12 countries, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

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

The foreign minister said Kiev was working behind the scenes to win over more countries to supply tanks at what officials say is a critical time in the war.

Here are the other developments:

2000 GMT - Ukraine announces EU-Ukraine summit

Ukraine's prime minister announced that a summit with the European Union summit will take place in Kiev on Friday that would send a "powerful signal" to Moscow and the world, almost a year after Russia launched its offensive.

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

1945 GMT - Blinken to discuss Russia-Ukraine war China

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.

Kirby told reporters that talks on a number of issues, such as the two countries' militaries and climate crisis, 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 the se issues "restored and/or revitalized," Kirby said. 

1920 GMT - US curbs exports to Iranian firms for producing drones for Russia

The US put new trade restrictions on seven Iranian entities for producing drones that Russia has used to attack Ukraine, the US Department of Commerce said.

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

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

1500 GMT - France to send additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine

France will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said.

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. 

1419 GMT - Russian Olympic chief says athletes must compete without restrictions
The head of Russia's Olympic Committee said that athletes representing the country must not be subjected to different conditions from those of other countries, amid a growing row over their participation in the 2024 Paris Games.

"Russians must participate exactly on the same conditions as all other athletes. Any additional conditions or criteria are unwelcome, especially any that have political overtones, which are completely unacceptable for the Olympic movement," Stanislav Pozdnyakov said, according to Russian news agencies.

1330 GMT - Ukraine preparing 'powerful rebuff'

Ukraine is gearing up to repel a possible new Russian offensive, the head of the country’s National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) said.

“The military-political leadership of Ukraine understands all the threats and challenges, and we are preparing to give a powerful rebuff to a possible offensive by the Russian Federation,” Oleksiy Danilov was quoted as saying in an RNBO statement. 

He said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been holding talks with foreign officials for military aid on a daily basis.

1230 - Air raid alerts heard across Ukraine, including capital Kiev
Three separate air raid alerts were activated across Ukraine, including the capital Kiev, warning of possible Russian airstrikes.

Local authorities urged the public to find and take safe shelter until the sirens turned off.

No warnings were reported in the Crimea region, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014 in a move widely rejected internationally, including by Türkiye.

1250 GMT - Brazil rejects German ammunition request for Ukraine

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva rejected Germany's request for delivery of ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank used by Ukraine, according to local media reports.

“Brazil is a land of peace. And that's why Brazil doesn't want any involvement in this war - not even indirectly," said Lula at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Brasilia, the BILD reported .

Kiev urgently needs additional ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank delivered from Germany and Brazil has reportedly up to 300,000 rounds of this kind of ammunition. 

1245 GMT - Poland not in talks with Ukraine

Poland is not in talks to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a deputy defence minister said, 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.

1240 GMT - Britain says it's 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, after Kiev 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.

"We will continue to discuss with our allies about what we think what is the right approach."

1238 GMT - Putin backs military training centres with Belarus

President Vladimir Putin 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, 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.

Minsk allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory as a launching pad for its Ukraine offensive that began on February 24 last year.

1117 GMT - Rights group accuses Ukraine of using banned mines

Human Rights Watch accused Ukraine of using banned anti-personnel landmines against 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 it would 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.

1330 GMT - Russia likely conducted attacks around Vuhledar, Pavlivka - Britain

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.

"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."

0915 GMT - Croatian president's comment on Crimea 'unacceptable' – Kiev

Ukraine's foreign ministry criticised Croatian President Zoran Milanovic for saying Crimea would never return to Ukrainian control, calling his comment "unacceptable".

Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Kiev has said it will not abandon efforts to regain control of the region. 

In remarks detailing his objection to Zagreb providing military aid to Kiev, Milanovic said it was "clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine".

0845 GMT – Russian court fines Twitch over Ukraine content

A Russian court 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, the Interfax news agency has reported.

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.

0304 GMT – Biden says 'no' to US sending F-16 jets

President Joe Biden said he will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help its war against Russian forces.

"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.

Biden said he will be visiting Poland, the key hub in the nearly year-long, massive Western effort to support Ukraine's war against Russian attack.

"I'm going to be going to Poland. I don't know when, though," he told reporters when asked about a visit.

NBC News reported last week Biden was considering a trip to Europe, including possibly Poland, to coincide with the February 24 anniversary of Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

0245 GMT – NATO to strengthen partnership with Japan: Stoltenberg

NATO will continue to strengthen its partnership with Japan, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said during a visit to Japan, where he will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

His trip is aimed at strengthening ties with Western allies in Asia in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.

0110 GMT  Ukrainian president, Danish premier visit war-battered southern city

Zelenskyy and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen have inspected a city in southern Ukraine.

A statement by the Ukrainian presidency said that Zelenskyy and Frederiksen inspected the building of the Mykolaiv Regional Military Administration, which it said was partially destroyed by Russian missiles in the early stages of Moscow’s war with Kiev.

“Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Mette Frederiksen about the destruction the city had suffered due to enemy shelling. He informed the Prime Minister of Denmark about Mykolaiv's infrastructure recovery needs,” the statement further noted.

It said Zelenskyy and Frederiksen also visited the Mykolaiv Commercial Sea Port as well as an individual heating point and a hospital. 

For live updates from Monday (January 30), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies