New $2.2bn US military aid package for Ukraine includes bomb that will double strike range; Zelenskiy vows to hold Bakhmut as long as possible
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Ukraine has unveiled a criminal case against Yevgeny Prigozhin,
head of the Wagner group of mercenaries fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine. Prigozhin has been charged with encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine and of waging a war of aggression against Ukraine. Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said Wagner fighters of all ranks would be held responsible, including those who fled abroad.
New tanks supplied by Nato
New tanks supplied by Nato allies will serve as an “iron fist” in a counteroffensive by Kyiv to break through Russian defensive lines, Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has said. Western supplies of 155-mm artillery would be vital for Ukraine to deter Russian attacks in the south and in the east, Reznikov said at a joint news conference with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Błaszczak.
Germany has approved the export of older Leopard 1 battle tanks
Germany has approved the export of older Leopard 1 battle tanks, which would add to the raft of fighting vehicles Berlin promised last week. A spokesperson said Olaf Scholz’s government had granted an export licence for the German-made tanks first produced in the 1960s and replaced within Germany’s own military by Leopard 2 tanks in 2003.
The EU will launch a humanitarian
The EU will launch a humanitarian de-mining programme in Ukraine worth €25m, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has confirmed, saying de-mining was “crucial to save the lives of civilian population”.
An American medic has been killed
An American medic has been killed while working on the frontlines in Ukraine, just weeks after arriving in the country. Pete Reed, 34, was killed on Thursday while he was helping evacuate civilians when his vehicle was reportedly hit by a missile in Bakhmut
EU leaders offered strong support for Ukraine
EU leaders offered strong support for Ukraine but set “no rigid timelines” for its accession to the bloc. Zelenskiy had hoped the EU would put Ukraine on a rapid track to membership, but western EU member states are concerned that Kyiv’s expectations on speedy membership talks are unrealistic. “There are no rigid timelines but there are goals that you have to reach,” von der Leyen told the news conference
EU member countries have agreed
EU member countries have agreed on a European Commission proposal to set price caps on Russian oil products, the Swedish presidency of the EU said. Ambassadors of the 27 EU states agreed at a meeting on Friday to impose a $100-a-barrel cap on premium products such as diesel and a $45 cap on low-end products, according to diplomats. The price cap comes into effect on Sunday, as does the EU’s ban on Russian oil product imports.
Air raid sirens twice sounded across Ukraine on Friday
Air raid sirens twice sounded across Ukraine on Friday as Zelenskiy hosted the EU leaders in Kyiv. The first air alert in Kyiv was on Friday morning. The second, hours later, followed a joint news conference involving Zelenskiy, von der Leyen and Charles Michel. There were no immediate reports of any Russian airstrikes on Kyiv throughout the day.
The EU has promised
The EU has promised that a tenth package of sanctions against Russia will be in place by 24 February, the first anniversary of the war. The EC president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the package would cover trade worth €10bn (£8.9bn/$10.8bn) and “hit the trade and technology that supports [Russia’s] war against Ukraine”. The next round of EU sanctions, however, is not expected to include nuclear power, which Hungary has already threatened to block.
France and Italy have finalised technical talks
France and Italy have finalised technical talks for the joint delivery of the Samp/T air defence system to Ukraine in spring 2023, the French defence ministry has announced. It comes after Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said on Thursday that the system would be operational in Ukraine “within seven to eight weeks”. The system can track dozens of targets and intercept 10 at once. It is the only European-made system that can intercept ballistic missiles.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine will continue to fight
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine will continue to fight for Bakhmut as long as it can, vowing that “nobody will give away” the eastern “fortress” city. Speaking at a press conference following a summit in Kyiv with European Union leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, Ukraine’s president said the country would be able to begin to liberate occupied Donbas if weapons supplies were “quickened, specifically long-range weapons”.
The United States has announced
The United States has announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $2.2bn (£1.8bn) which will include precision-guided rockets and Hawk air defence firing units, as well as other munitions and weapons, the US state department said. Significantly, it includes the ground launched small diameter bomb (GLSDB) for the first time, which will double Ukraine’s strike range and allow Ukraine’s military to strike deep behind the frontlines of the war.