Live: Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine, preparing for new offensive
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Russia was pouring reinforcements into eastern Ukraine ahead of a new offensive that could begin next week along a front where there have been relentless battles for months, a Ukrainian governor said. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
7:46am: Russia likely restarted Ukraine offensive operations in January, Britain says
Russia’s military likely attempted to restart major offensive operations in Ukraine since early January this year, with the goal of capturing Ukraine-held parts of Donetsk, Britain’s Defence Intelligence update said on Tuesday.
However, it remains unlikely that Russia will be able to build up the forces required to significantly affect the war’s outcome within the next few weeks, the update added.
6:00am: Russia says protective structures at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant near completion
The construction of protective structures for key facilities at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeast Ukraine is nearing completion, Russia‘s state TASS news agency reported on Tuesday, citing an adviser to the head of Russia’s nuclear plants operator.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, was captured by Russian troops in March of last year, in the opening days of Moscow‘s invasion in Ukraine.
It remains close to the frontlines, and has repeatedly come under fire, raising fears of a nuclear disaster.
5:28am: Russia’s Lavrov visits Mali in sign of deepening ties
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Mali early Tuesday for talks with its junta leaders seeking Moscow’s help in battling an Islamist insurgency that remains entrenched despite years of fighting.
Lavrov, who was in Iraq on Monday, was welcomed upon his arrival by his counterpart Abdoulaye Diop. The two men did not make any statements to journalists. The visit of fewer than 24 hours will be his third trip to Africa since July, part of a bid to expand Russia’s presence on the continent amid broad international isolation after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
Since taking control of Mali in two coups since August 2020, the military junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita has embraced Russian support to aid its anti-jihadist fight after successfully demanding that French troops leave.
1:21am: Ukraine withdraws 19 million Russian and Soviet-era books from libraries
Ukraine had withdrawn from its libraries about 19 million copies of books by last November that came either from the Soviet era or were in Russian, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.
Yevheniya Kravchuk, deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament’s committee on humanitarian and information policy, said that of the 19 million books, 11 million were in Russian.
“Some Ukrainian-language books from the Soviet era are also written off,” Kravchuk said according to a statement published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament. “There are also recommendations to write off and remove books whose authors supported armed aggression against Ukraine.” It was not immediately clear what happened to the withdrawn books.
12:02am: Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine
Russia was pouring reinforcements into eastern Ukraine ahead of a new offensive that could begin next week along a front where there have been relentless battles for months, a Ukrainian governor said.
Desperate for Western military aid to arrive, Ukraine anticipates a major offensive could be launched by Russia for “symbolic” reasons around the February 24 anniversary of the invasion. Ukraine is itself planning a spring offensive to recapture lost territory, but awaiting delivery of promised longer-range Western missiles and battle tanks, with some analysts saying the country was months away from being ready.
“We are seeing more and more (Russian) reserves being deployed in our direction, we are seeing more equipment being brought in,” said Serhiy Haidai, Ukrainian governor of the mainly Russian-occupied Luhansk province.
“They bring ammunition that is used differently than before – it is not round-the-clock shelling anymore. They are slowly starting to save, getting ready for a full-scale offensive,” Haidai told Ukrainian television.
“It will most likely take them 10 days to gather reserves. After February 15 we can expect (this offensive) at any time.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)