The Nordic country said it has 36 Leopard 2 tanks but didn't say how many it will provide to Kiev as fighting continues in the eastern Donetsk region on the conflict's 341st day.

Norway and other countries that have purchased Leopard tanks need Berlin's approval if they want to transfer them to another country.
Norway and other countries that have purchased Leopard tanks need Berlin's approval if they want to transfer them to another country. (AFP Archive)

Norway will send part of its fleet of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine "as soon as possible", indicating perhaps late March, its defence minister said.

Norway was among several European countries that promised last week to deliver the tanks long sought by Ukraine in its battle against Russian forces, after Berlin gave its blessing despite fears of retaliation by Moscow.

The country has 36 Leopard 2 tanks, but has not said how many it will provide to Kiev. "We haven't yet determined the number," Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram said.

Norway and other countries that have purchased Leopard tanks need Berlin's approval if they want to transfer them to another country.

1716GMT - Fighter jets for Ukraine ‘not excluded in principle’ - Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he would not rule out the delivery of fighter planes to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict.

"Nothing is excluded in principle," Macron said after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when asked about the possibility of sending jets to Kiev as it battles Russian forces.

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."

The French president added that the Ukrainians "are not making this request at the moment for fighter jets."

It' s important that we coordinate closely with our partners, so that this aid makes a real difference for Ukraine.

Bjorn Arild Gram, Norwegian Defence Minister

1700GMT - Ukraine officials, lawmakers banned from travelling abroad

The Ukrainian government has banned senior public servants and lawmakers including women from travelling abroad during the war with Russia.

Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for Ukraine's border guard service, said that the measure - adopted last week - had entered force. "They can now only leave as part of a work mission," he said.

Under the new measure, senior officials will only be able to travel abroad if they are visiting their children, or in the event of medical treatment or following the death of a loved one, said Demchenko.

1655GMT - 5 Ukrainian civilians killed as warring sides mull next move

Fighting remained largely deadlocked in eastern Ukraine where Russian shelling killed five civilians over the past day, according to Ukrainian officials, as the warring sides sized up their needs for renewed military pushes expected in coming weeks.

The casualties included a woman who was killed and three others who were wounded by the Russian shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the country’s northeast, regional Gov. Oleh Syniyehubov said.

1630GMT - Israel: Kiev embassy back to full activity in weeks

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that an Israeli embassy in Kiev would return to full capacity in coming weeks and that he would soon be the first minister from the Middle East to visit the Ukrainian capital.

Cohen was speaking at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a visit to Israel.

1540GMT - British tanks to arrive on Ukraine's front lines 'this side of summer' - defence minister

Tanks donated by Britain to Ukraine will be on the front line before summer, defence minister Ben Wallace said, without giving an exact timetable.

Asked in parliament when the 14 Challenger tanks it has agreed to supply would be deployed onto the battlefield, Wallace said: "It'll be this side of the summer, or May - it'll be probably towards Easter time."

He said security reasons prevented him from setting out the timetable of training for Ukrainian forces on using the tanks, but that it would begin with instruction on operation of individual vehicles before progressing to how to fight in formation.

1540GMT - Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine - Croatian president

Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, will never again be part of Ukraine, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said in remarks detailing his objection to Zagreb providing military aid to Kiev.

A vocal critic of Western policy in Ukraine, Milanovic has said he does not want his country, the EU's newest member state, to face what he has called potentially disastrous consequences over the 11-month-old war in Ukraine.

What the West is doing about Ukraine "is deeply immoral because there is no solution (to the war)," Milanovic told reporters during a visit to military barracks in the eastern town of Petrinja, referring to Western military support for Kiev.

He added that the arrival of German tanks in Ukraine would only serve to drive Russia closer to China.

1515GMT - France and Australia to cooperate on shells for Ukraine

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said that France and Australia had agreed to cooperate to manufacture "several thousands" of 155-millimeter shells to help Ukraine.

Lecornu was speaking after meeting with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles, the first joint high-level talks since Canberra ditched a defence accord with Paris in favour of a tie-up with Britain and the United States two years ago.

1350GMT - Kiev denies Russian advance near Donetsk's Vugledar

A Moscow proxy official said Monday that Russian forces were advancing near Vugledar, a town in the eastern Donetsk region, which is the epicentre of fighting in Ukraine, but Kiev denied the claim.

A Ukrainian military spokesman in charge of the area said that Russia's attacks were unsuccessful.

"The enemy was hit by... firearms and artillery. The enemy had no success and retreated," said Yevgen Yerin, adding that Ukraine's forces didn't lose their positions.

1330GMT - New US ambassador to Russia heckled by pro-Kremlin protesters

The United States' new ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, has ben heckled by a crowd of people chanting anti-US slogans as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow to present her diplomatic credentials.

The group held hand-painted placards carrying messages criticising Washington, one of which read "Your tanks are killing civilians". Russia accuses Washington of engaging in a proxy war with Moscow.

Tracy arrived in Moscow last week, taking up her post amid high tensions over Russia's military actions in Ukraine and US support for Ukraine including President Joe Biden's recent decision to provide advanced battle tanks.

1300GMT - Ukraine's corn area could fall by up to 35%

The area sown to corn in Ukraine could fall by 30 percent to 35 percent in 2023 because of a shortage of money for farmers and electricity blackouts, the Ukrainian agriculture producers union has said.

Denys Marchuk, deputy chair of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council, told Ukrainian television that about 20 percent of corn from the 2022 harvest was still in fields, and drying the product would be a huge expense even if it is harvested.

He said the corn price inside the country was relatively low and farmers cannot get back the invested funds. "It is very important for us to understand what farmers will sow in spring and the fact that corn stays in the fields guarantees that we may have 30-35 percent less area under corn (in 2023)," he added.

1300GMT - Number of Ukrainians to enter Poland since war began tops 9.5M

The number of Ukrainians who have crossed into Poland since the war with Russia began has exceeded 9.5 million by a full 13,000, the Polish Border Guards said in a tweet.

Some 22,700 people arrived from Ukraine on Sunday alone, while about 7.66 million Ukrainians have exited Poland in this period, it added.

According to the latest UN data, the number of registered Ukrainian refugees in Poland currently stands at around 1.56 million.

1030 GMT - Deadly Russian shelling hit Ukraine's Kherson: Kharkiv

Russian shelling of Ukraine's southern city of Kherson has left at least three people dead, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, while a strike on Kharkiv killed one person, according to the regional governor.

"Today, the Russian army has been shelling Kherson atrociously all day," Zelenskyy said in his evening address. "Two women, nurses, were wounded in the hospital. As of now, there are reports of six wounded and three dead."

In eastern Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, the governor of the regional military administration said a Russian strike hit "a four-storey residential building".

"Three victims received minor injuries. Unfortunately, an elderly woman died... The building was partially destroyed," Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram.

1030 GMT - Pro-Kremlin activists in Germany gave money for Russian army gear

A group of pro-Russian activists in Germany have donated funds to a Russian army division fighting in Ukraine, and the money was used to purchase walkie-talkie radios, headphones and telephones, according to an officer in the division and messages from the group's organisers seen by Reuters.

The couple at the centre of the group, Elena Kolbasnikova and Max Schlund, handed the sum of $540 to the officer in person late last year. 

Their messages show they knew the money paid for telecommunications equipment – despite European Union sanctions which restrict the supply of such gear to Russia's military.

1001 GMT - Kremlin warns more Western arms for Ukraine will only lead to escalation

The Kremlin has said that further supplies of Western weaponry to Ukraine would only lead to further escalation of the conflict there.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO member countries were becoming more involved in the conflict, but that their provision of arms to Ukraine would not change the course of the conflict.

Last week, Germany and the United States announced they would supply main battle tanks to Ukraine, for the first time pledging unambiguously offensive weapons to help it resist Russian forces.

1001 GMT - Polish defence minister questions German commitment to helping Ukraine

The Polish defence minister has questioned Berlin's commitment to helping Kiev in fighting Russia, saying he is “not certain if Germany wants Ukraine to win the conflict.”

He told Polish Radio 1 that Germany should provide more battle tanks to Ukraine and that Warsaw would continue applying pressure on Berlin to do so.

“There is a reason for this pressure,” said Błaszczak. “It can be said plainly, if not for Polish pressure exerted on Germans, the decision to donate Leopard tanks to Ukraine would not have been made.”

0927 GMT - Russia warns US: the end of nuclear arms control may be nigh

Russia has told the United States that the last remaining pillar of bilateral nuclear arms control could expire in 2026 without a replacement due to what it said were US efforts to inflict "strategic defeat" on Moscow in Ukraine.

Both Russia and the United States still have vast arsenals of nuclear weapons which are currently partially limited by the 2011 New START Treaty, which in 2021 was extended until 2026.

What comes after February 4, 2026, however, is unclear, though Washington has indicated it wants to reach a follow-on agreement with Russia.

Asked if Moscow could envisage there being no nuclear arms control treaty after 2026, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA state new agency: "This is quite a possible scenario."

0923 GMT - Iran summons senior Ukraine diplomat over comments on drone strike

Iran has summoned Ukraine's charge d'affaires in Tehran over his country's comments on a drone strike on a military factory in the central Iranian province of Isfahan, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying hundreds of drones to Russia to attack civilian targets in Ukrainian cities far from the front, a senior aide to Zelenskyy linked the incident directly to the war there.

"Explosive night in Iran," Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Sunday. "Did warn you."

0856 GMT - Russia's forces advancing near Ukraine's Vugledar

A Moscow proxy official has said that Russian forces were advancing near Vugledar, a town in in the eastern Donetsk region, which is the epicentre of fighting in Ukraine.

"Our units continue advancing in the direction of Vugledar," said Denis Pushilin, the Kremlin-appointed leader of the Donetsk region, according to Russian news agencies.

"Now we can say that units have established positions in the eastern part of Vugledar, and work is also being carried out in the vicinity," he added.

0851 GMT - Kiev calls International Olympic Committee 'promoter of war'

Podolyak has called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a "promoter of war" after the sports body said it was considering ways for Russian athletes to compete.

"(The) IOC is a promoter of war, murder and destruction. The IOC watches with pleasure Russia destroying Ukraine and then offers Russia a platform to promote genocide and encourages their further killings. Obviously Russian money that buys Olympic hypocrisy doesn't have a smell of Ukrainian blood," Podolyak said on Twitter.

0652 GMT - Gazprom will ship 24.2 mcm of gas to Europe via Ukraine

Russia's Gazprom has said it will ship 24.2 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas to Europe via Ukraine.

0415 GMT - Russia rules out talks with Ukraine or West

With the United States having decided to supply tanks to Ukraine, it makes no sense for Russia to talk to Kiev or its Western "puppet masters", the RIA news agency quoted Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

Ryabkov said no one in the West has come up with any serious initiatives on resolving the Ukrainian crisis. 

0305 GMT – NATO's chief urges South Korea to step up military support for Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged South Korea to increase military support to Ukraine, citing other countries that have changed their policy of not providing weapons to countries in conflict after Russia's military campaign.

Stoltenberg is in Seoul, the first stop on a trip that will include Japan and is aimed at strengthening ties with US allies in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.

In meetings with senior South Korean officials, Stoltenberg argued that events in Europe and North America are interconnected with other regions, and that the alliance wants to help manage global threats by increasing partnerships in Asia.

0144 GMT – Zelenskyy presses drive to keep Russia out of Paris Olympics

Zelenskyy has said that allowing Russia to compete at the 2024 Paris Games was tantamount to showing that "terror is somehow acceptable".

Zelenskyy said he had sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron as part of his campaign to keep Russian athletes out of the Paris Games.

"Attempts by the International Olympic Committee to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable," he said in his nightly video address.

0123 GMT – Germany won't send fighter jets to Ukraine

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reiterated that Germany will not send fighter jets to Ukraine, as Kiev steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West to help repel Russian forces.

Scholz only just agreed on Wednesday to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other European countries to send theirs, after weeks of intense debate and mounting pressure from allies.

"I can only advise against entering into a constant bidding war when it comes to weapons systems," Scholz said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper. 

"If, as soon as a decision (on tanks) has been made, the next debate starts in Germany, that doesn't come across as serio

0010 GMT – Ukraine needs more weapons, faster: Zelenskyy

Ukraine needs new weapons and faster deliveries to confront a "very tough" situation of constant attacks by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, Zelenskyy said.

"The situation is very tough. Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other sectors in Donetsk region – there are constant Russian attacks. There are constant attempts to break through our defences," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

"Russia wants the war to drag on and exhaust our forces. So we have to make time our weapon. We have to speed up events, speed up supplies and open up new weapons options for Ukraine."

0005 GMT - Missile hits apartment building in Ukraine's Kharkiv: governor

A missile has hit an apartment building in Ukraine's city of Kharkiv, and rescue teams have been dispatched to the scene, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said.

A Reuters news agency's picture from the scene showed a fire ablaze in a residential building.

"An enemy rocket has struck an apartment building in the city centre, in Kyiv district," Synehubov said on Telegram. 

"First indications are a C-300 missile. Emergency services are on site. Information on casualties and damage is being clarified." 

For live updates from Sunday (January 29), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies