As the war enters its 720th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.
- Norway’s intelligence service warned Russia was “gaining the advantage” in the war in Ukraine owing to a greater number of troops and materiel supplied by Iran, China, North Korea and Belarus. Nils Andreas Stensones, the head of the military intelligence unit, said Kyiv would need “extensive” Western military assistance to turn the situation around.
- Researchers in Kyiv said a preliminary analysis concluded that Russia hit the Ukrainian capital last week with a hypersonic Zircon missile, marking the weapon’s first use in the war. The Zircon has a range of 1,000km (625 miles) and travels at nine times the speed of sound, according to Russia.
- Ukraine’s Air Force said air defence systems destroyed 14 out of 17 drones that Russia launched overnight and one Kh-59 cruise missile. Some buildings were damaged, including in the central city of Dnipro, but there were no reports of casualties.
- The Kremlin denied Ukraine’s claim that its troops were using Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet system for military communications in parts of Ukraine it occupies. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the system was neither certified for use in, nor officially supplied to, Russia, and therefore could not be used.
Politics and diplomacy
- The European Union adopted a law to set aside windfall profits made on frozen Russian central bank assets, in the first concrete step towards the bloc’s aim of using the money to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. Some 300 billion euros ($323 billion) of Russian central bank assets were frozen after the country launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.
- Kristina Puzyreva, a Canadian-Russian woman, pleaded guilty in a United States court to money laundering conspiracy for her role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to send drone and missile components to Russia for military use against Ukraine, the US Justice Department said. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison
- Russia imposed sanctions on 18 UK citizens including officials, historians and Russia experts accusing them of trying to demonise Russia. Moscow also claimed that the United Kingdom’s strategy in Ukraine had led to further escalation and loss of life in the war.
- France’s Viginum agency, which works to defend against foreign online threats, said it had discovered a “structured and coordinated” network of Russian websites designed to spread Kremlin propaganda in Europe and the US.
- A court in Moscow ordered the arrest of Meta spokesperson Andy Stone for two months pending trial on a number of terrorism-related counts. Meta’s main social platforms – Facebook and Instagram – were banned soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, and Meta was subsequently found guilty of “extremist activities” in Russia. Stone is not in Moscow.
- Ukraine’s Digital Minister Mykhailo Fedorov told the Reuters news agency that Ukraine would produce thousands of long-range drones capable of deep strikes into Russia in 2024, and already had as many as 10 companies making drones with the ability to reach Moscow and St Petersburg.
- Authorities in Moldova said they destroyed some 50kg of explosives discovered in part of a Russian-launched Shahed drone that crashed on its territory near the southern town of Etulia, close to the border with Ukraine.