Will Ukraine war become a wider European conflict?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused thousands of deaths and destroyed entire cities.
Western countries have answered Kyiv’s pleas for military aid.
Does this mean the conflict has become an international one?
And what are the risks of escalation to a wider war?
Zelenskyy says Macron changed his Ukraine stance
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron has undergone significant change on his stance towards Ukraine after seeking to keep channels open to Russia in the early phase of the conflict.
“I believe he has changed,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with Le Figaro daily.
“And that he changed for real this time. After all, he [Macron] opened the door to tank deliveries,” he said.
He also supported Ukraine’s candidacy for the EU. I believe it was a real signal. We had a lot of conversations with France, Germany and other countries. I believe that confidence is real today,” he added.
Blinken: Putin has no interest to end Ukraine war through diplomacy
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russian President Vladimir Putin has no interest in resolving the Ukraine conflict through diplomatic means.
“As President Zelenskyy said, ‘Diplomacy is the only way to definitively end Russia’s war of aggression and to create a path to peace that is both just and durable. Clearly, President Putin has no genuine interest in diplomacy right now,” Blinken said to reporters after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, .
“The best way to hasten prospects for real diplomacy is to keep tilting the battlefield in Ukraine’s favour,” he added.
Sunak on jets to Ukraine: Nothing is off the table
Sunak says nothing is off the table when it comes to supplying Ukraine with jets to fight Russia.
“The first step in being able to provide advanced aircrafts is to have soldiers or aviators that are capable of using them. That is a process that takes some time. We’ve started that process today,” the British prime minister said at a news conference with Zelenskyy after announcing Britain would train Ukrainian pilots.
“Nothing is off the table and our leadership on this issue is something that we all collectively should be very proud of.”
‘Utterly false’: US denies it was behind Nord Stream explosions
The White House has dismissed a blog post by a US investigative journalist alleging that the United States was behind explosions of the Nord Stream gas pipelines as “utterly false and complete fiction.”
Journalist Seymour Hersh claimed an attack was carried out last September at the direction of President Joe Biden.
“This is utterly false and complete fiction,” Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said.
Spokespeople for the CIA and US Department of State have told the Reuters news agency the same.
Russia warns UK against sending Ukraine fighter jets: TASS
Russia’s embassy to UK has warned London against sending fighter jets to Ukraine, saying such a move will have “military and political consequences for the European continent and the entire world”, Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in London on Wednesday, where he called on the United Kingdom to give Ukraine fighter jets as the next stage in the West’s supplies of weapons to help Kyiv fight off the Russian invasion.
The UK said it would start training Ukrainian pilots in how to fly advanced NATO-standard fighter jets, but has not yet pledged to send planes.
German Chancellor Scholz to meet Ukraine’s Zelenskyy in Paris
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is flying to Paris to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron, German government sources told the Reuters news agency.
Macron will host the meeting between the three leaders in the French capital on Wednesday, the French presidency said.
German broadcaster ntv first reported Scholz’s trip, citing unnamed sources.
Portuguese PM announces plan to send three Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
Portugal will send three Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine next month after it has repaired the German-made units, Prime Minister Antonio Costa says.
The announcement followed Costa saying on Saturday that his country was in talks with Berlin to obtain parts needed to repair inoperable Leopard tanks in Portugal’s inventory.
“Right now, we are implementing the recovery and maintenance plan for the Leopard 2 tanks, and according to the plan, we are in a position to be able to send three of them in March,” Costa told the Portuguese parliament. “This is what we are working towards.”
German defence minister says Leopard 2 tanks could reach Ukraine by April
Western partners could deliver the first battalion of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine in the first three or four months of this year, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius says on a trip to the Polish capital.
“We need to proceed as fast as possible, of course,” Boris Pistorius said in Warsaw, adding that a battalion would consist of about 31 tanks.
Germany has pledged to deliver highly sought-after Leopard 2 units to Ukraine from its own stocks and has also approved the re-export of the German-made tanks to Kyiv by other allies in Europe.
Russia says US has questions to answer over Nord Stream blasts
Russia’s foreign ministry says the United States has questions to answer about the explosions on the undersea Nord Stream gas pipelines last year.
Commenting on a report published earlier on Wednesday that said Washington was involved in the blasts, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called on the White House to comment on the “facts” that had been presented.
European investigators say the attacks were carried out on purpose, but they have not said who they think was responsible. Moscow, without providing evidence, has blamed the explosions on Western sabotage.
UK seeks to train Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as possible
The UK wants to start training Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as possible, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says.
The spokesperson said, however, that the UK had yet to decide on whether to supply fighter jets to Kyiv.
“The prime minister has tasked the defence secretary with investigating what jets we might be able to give, but to be clear, this is a long-term solution rather than a short-term capability, which is what Ukraine needs most now,” the spokesperson said.
Ukraine has appealed for combat aircraft from its Western allies as it continues to face down Russia’s nearly year-long offensive.
Ukraine’s president to head to Paris after UK visit
Zelenskyy is expected to travel to Paris after his visit to the UK, French President Emmanuel Macron’s office says.
Macron will host his Ukrainian counterpart on Wednesday evening, his office said, without providing details.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also expected to travel to Paris to meet with Zelenskyy and Macron, Scholz’s spokesman said.
Dutch PM promises to hold Russia to account over MH17 downing
The Netherlands will hold Russia to account for the downing of passenger flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says.
Rutte said it was a “bitter disappointment” that the international investigation into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight, which took off from Amsterdam, had ended without further prosecutions for lack of evidence.
“We will continue to call the Russian Federation to account for its role in this tragedy,” Rutte said in a statement.
Russia has denied any involvement in the downing of the civilian airliner, which killed all 298 people on board, but investigators said they uncovered convincing evidence that Putin had approved the supply of missiles that shot down MH17.
Zelenskyy pushes UK, Western allies for fighter jets
Ukraine’s president has urged the UK and its allies in the West to supply fighter jets to Kyiv.
Zelenskyy, wearing his trademark khaki military fatigues, told the UK Parliament that combat aircraft would be “wings for freedom”.
The president, who planned to meet later with King Charles III, noted that the British monarch was a qualified military pilot.
“The king is an Air Force pilot,” Zekenskyy said, adding that “in Ukraine today, every Air Force pilot is a king”.
“I will be leaving Parliament today, thanking you all in advance for powerful English planes,” he said.
Ukraine’s president addresses UK parliamentarians
Zelenskyy has told UK parliamentarians in a showpiece address that Russia will be defeated in the war, saying the world needs “Ukrainian bravery” to persevere.
“I have come here and stand before you on behalf of the brave,” Ukraine’s president said, paying tribute to Ukraine’s military. “I thank you for your bravery … London has stood with Kyiv since day one.”
Zelenskyy also said a victory for Ukraine against Russia would deter future aggressors.
“The victory will change the world and this will be a change that the world has long needed,” he said. “The United Kingdom is marching with us towards the most important victory of our lifetime. It will be a victory over the very idea of the war.”
Zelenskyy’s UK visit in pictures
Ukraine’s president is in the UK on his second trip abroad since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
He is reportedly due to travel on to Brussels on Thursday for talks with European Union officials.
MH17 investigators halt criminal probe
An international team of investigators has suspended its criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, saying they have insufficient evidence to launch any new prosecutions.
Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer said that the probe had “reached its limit” with all leads having been “exhausted” as the team began laying out the evidence it uncovered in its long-running investigation.
The investigators said there were “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “decided on supplying” the Buk missile system used to shoot down the plane, killing all 298 people on board.
“Although a lot of new information has been discovered about various people involved, the evidence is at the moment not concrete enough to lead to new prosecutions,” they added.
Russia has always denied any involvement in the downing of the plane. In November, a Dutch court convicted two former Russian intelligence agents and a Ukrainian separatist leader of multiple murders for their roles in the incident.
Russian threat to Baltic security rising: Estonian intelligence report
Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service has said it believes Russia still has the strength to exert “credible military pressure” on the Baltic region, where it assessed the security risk had risen for the medium and long term.
“A military attack against Estonia is unlikely in 2023” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but “in the mid-to-long term, Russia’s belligerence and foreign policy ambitions have significantly increased the security risks for Estonia,” the Estonian service said in its annual report.
“Russia considers the Baltic states to be the most vulnerable part of NATO, which would make them a focus of military pressure in the event of a NATO-Russia conflict,” it added.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – the so-called Baltic states – have sharply boosted defence spending in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
UK seeking ‘decisive military victory’ in Ukraine this year
The UK government wants to see a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year in Ukraine, Britain’s prime minister has said.
“Our objective remains to ensure a Ukrainian victory in this conflict,” Rishi Sunak told parliament ahead of an anticipated address by Ukraine’s president, who is on a visit to the UK.
“We will continue to support Ukraine to ensure a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year.”
Russia says its forces destroyed drone workshop in Kharkiv
Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have destroyed a drone workshop in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv.
“Workshops (belonging to) an aviation industry company in the city of Kharkiv where unmanned aerial vehicles and loitering munitions were being upgraded have been destroyed,” the ministry was quoted as saying by Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency.
There was no immediate response from Ukraine’s government, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify the account.
Ukraine grain exports depressed by war, agriculture ministry data shows
Ukraine grain exports in the 2022/23 season are down nearly 30 percent due to a smaller harvest and logistical difficulties caused by the Russian invasion, agriculture ministry data shows.
Total exports for the season so far amount to 28.2 million tonnes. The season runs until June.
The volume to date included about 10.1 million tonnes of wheat, 16.2 million tonnes of corn and about 1.9 million tonnes of barley. Exports at the same stage of the prior season were 39.9 million tonnes.
UK announces new round of Russia sanctions
The UK government has announced further sanctions on Russia, targeting manufacturers of military equipment and individuals with ties to the Kremlin.
Foreign secretary James Cleverly said the new measures would “accelerate the economic pressure on [Russian President Vladimir Putin] – undermining his war machine to help Ukraine prevail”.
The sanctions package, announced as Zelenskyy visited the UK, targets six organisations providing military equipment such as drones to Russia’s army.
It also includes new measures targeting eight individuals and one organisation connected to “nefarious financial networks that help maintain wealth and power amongst Kremlin elites”, the UK government said in a statement.
Zelenskyy keen to focus ‘spotlight’ on support for Ukraine: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from London, says Zelenskyy’s visit to the UK capital comes at a “significant” moment in the war.
“It is just over two weeks now until the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine … and President Zelenskyy is not just a wartime leader but has also become a tireless campaigner for ever broader and ever deeper support from Ukraine’s Western allies and donors,” Hull said.
“This is a significant moment for him to have the spotlight refocused on Ukraine and on efforts to arm and support Ukraine,” he added.
Hull also pointed out Zelenskyy’s visit was a “rare departure” from Ukraine, with his choice of destination “perhaps a recognition of the UK’s dedicated efforts since the beginning of the war” to support Kyiv.
Zelenskyy arrives in the UK for wartime visit
Ukraine’s president has arrived in the UK for only his second wartime visit outside of his home country since Russia launched its invasion.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed Zelenskyy as he touched down at London’s Stansted Airport.
A large convoy of vehicles left the airport shortly after the plane landed for the drive to central London, where Zelenskyy will hold talks with Sunak at his official Downing Street residence.
Zelenskyy will also address the UK parliament and meet with King Charles III and British military chiefs during his visit.
Russia sanctions creating a ‘grey’ oil market: TotalEnergies CEO
Western sanctions against Russia are creating a parallel oil market, the chief executive officer of French oil giant TotalEnergies has said.
“We had a relatively transparent, well-functioning global oil market … I understand the political objective, but I don’t think we have fully appreciated the consequences,” Patrick Pouyanne told reporters after his company posted a record profit for 2022.
“There is no longer a unified oil market … With all these bans, we are creating a grey market for oil,” he said, adding that Russia was “without a doubt capable of selling its products elsewhere”.
“The weapon Russia has is to reduce volumes and raise prices,” Pouyanne said
European countries promise Ukraine more Leopard 1 tanks
Three European countries have promised Ukraine that it will get at least 100 Leopard 1 tanks in the “coming months”.
The German, Dutch and Danish defence ministries said on Tuesday that training on the units would be provided to Ukrainian forces, ahead of the delivery of more advanced battle tanks in the future.
Russia accuses US of witholding visas for its UN diplomats
Russia’s foreign ministry has accused the United States of failing to issue visas to Russian delegates to the United Nations and of restricting the movements of its diplomats.
Russian foreign ministry official Pyotr Ilyichev told the state-owned RIA news agency the US had failed to comply with the 1947 UN Headquarters Agreement, which bans most restrictions on diplomats’ access to the UN – which is headquartered in New York.
“The US is raising increasing doubts about the validity of its right to retain its status as host state for the UN Headquarters,” Ilyichev said, adding Moscow would pursue arbitration proceedings over its concerns.
Zelenskyy to visit UK on second wartime overseas trip
Ukraine’s president will travel to London on Wednesday to meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address the United Kingdom’s parliament, marking only his second visit overseas since Russia launched its invasion.
Zelenskyy is also expected to visit Ukrainian troops training with British forces during his trip.
“President Zelenskyy’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries,” Sunak said in a statement.
His visit comes at a time when Kyiv is urging its allies in the West to deliver more weapons support to help Ukrainian forces push back Russia’s troops.
EU price cap ‘exemptions’ show Russian oil is still in demand: Official
European Union moves to add “exemptions” to its price cap on Russian oil products show that the commodity is still in demand, Russia’s deputy prime minister has said.
“Yesterday we saw another change to the European Union’s regulations, the exemptions,” Alexander Novak said in comments published by the state-run TASS news agency.
“This once again emphasises that our oil products are in demand in Europe, once European politicians indicated that their actions defy any logic and take such decisions and think how to get out of this situation,” he added.
The EU said last week it agreed to set price caps on Russian refined oil products to limit Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine. However, the bloc has also introduced several exemptions to the way its price cap works.
Ukrainian official warns of new Russian attacks on Kharkiv, Zaporizhia
Ukraine’s national security chief has warned Moscow will seek to broaden its offensive in the coming weeks as part of a move to secure battlefield successes in line with the upcoming February 24 first anniversary of its invasion.
“They need to have something to show before their people, and have a major desire to do something big, as they see it, by this date,” Oleksiy Danilov told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
Danilov predicted Russia, which has focused its offensive on eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region in recent months, would try new attacks on Kharkiv further north or Zaporizhia further south.
“How successful they’ll be will depend on us,” he added.