Ukraine Daily Summary - Thursday, February 1

Germany hands over IRIS-T anti-air missiles, armored vehicles, other equipment in latest delivery to Ukraine -- UN Court rules Russia broke international anti-terrorism financing treaty -- Russia suffers large-scale internet outages -- 207 Ukrainian POWs return home; Ukraine says Russian airbase in Crimea struck -- and more

Thursday, February 1

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics welcomes Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska in Riga, Latvia, on Jan. 31, 2024. (President Edgars Rinkevics/X)

Zelensky: 207 Ukrainian prisoners return home from Russian captivity, almost half of them Mariupol defenders. It was one of the largest groups of Ukrainian prisoners to be brought back from Russian captivity since the beginning of the full-scale war.

Ukrainian commander says Russian airbase in Crimea hit in attack. Balbek airfield in Russian-occupied Crimea was hit in an attack, Air Force Commander General Mykola Oleshchuk said on Telegram on Jan. 31.

Media: Bail was paid for detained ex-Supreme Court head. The 18.17 million ($480,000) bail for Vsevolod Kniazev, the ex-chief of the Supreme Court arrested on corruption charges, was paid, Ukrainska Pravda and Ukrinform reported on Jan. 31, citing official sources.

US Under Secretary Victoria Nuland arrives in Kyiv. “Today we will meet government leaders, veterans, and civil society to underscore our shared commitment to defeating Russian aggression in Ukraine,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink wrote on the social media platform X.

Shmyhal: Ukraine goes through winter using only its own gas for the first time. “We currently have about 10 billion cubic meters of gas in our storage facilities. And we are going through this heating season using exclusively Ukrainian-produced gas,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.

Russia reports ‘incident’ at St. Petersburg oil refinery, media claim potential drone strike. The Ukrainian media outlet RBC claimed that a drone had struck the Nevsky Mazut oil refinery in the city. Citing unnamed sources, RBC said that the strike was carried out by Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR).

Israeli opposition leader Lapid says Russia’s siding with Hamas will be ‘difficult to forgive’. While “states do not break off relations just like that, but they also do not forgive in the event of such an insult,” Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said, referring to Russia’s alliance with Iran.

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Armenia formally joins ICC. Armenia formally joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Jan. 31, months after ratifying the Court’s Rome Statute, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Jan. 31.

Media: Members of Russian rock band Bi-2 avoid deportation to Russia. Members of the Russian rock band Bi-2 were allowed to fly to Israel after some of their members risked being deported from Thailand to Russia, the band’s lawyer told independent media outlet Mediazona on Jan. 31.

First Lady Zelenska arrives in Latvia. Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska arrived in Latvia on Jan. 31 for a two-day visit to meet top Latvian officials and participate in the conference “Russia’s war on children” in Riga.

Military intelligence confirms Russia used North Korean shells in Ukraine. “Yes, we can confirm that if we are talking about artillery rounds, such cooperation between the two regimes is being documented. North Korea has already delivered a significant part of artillery rounds to Russia,” military intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov told Ukrinform.

Germany hands over IRIS-T anti-air missiles, armored vehicles, other equipment in latest delivery to Ukraine. Germany’s latest delivery of military equipment to Ukraine included an undisclosed number of IRIS-T missiles, 24 APCs, four tracked all-terrain armored vehicles, several thousand rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, 14 mine plows, three mine-clearing tanks, a naval mine clearance system, a Satcom surveillance system, and other equipment.

Russia’s State Duma adopts bill on property seizure for ‘discrediting’ Russian military. The bill, first introduced in the Duma on Jan. 22, would allow Russian authorities to seize the property of even those Russian citizens who criticized the Kremlin and have left the country but, for instance, still benefit from renting out their houses or apartments in Russia.

Ukraine confirms China invited to discuss peace formula. Ukraine’s ambassador to China, Pavlo Riabikin, did not comment on whether the Chinese side had accepted the invitation.

Russia suffers large-scale internet outages. Hundreds of websites and services were unaccessible, including the Yandex search engine, the Sberbank bank, the VKontakte social media platform, as well as state services.

Finnish court charges Russian neo-Nazi fighter with entering country illegally. Yan Petrovsky is a co-leader of Rusich, a Russian neo-Nazi paramilitary unit that has fought against Ukraine. He is accused by Ukraine, and now Finland, of committing war crimes during the Russian invasion of Donbas that started in 2014.

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Ukraine war latest: 207 Ukrainian POWs return home; Ukraine says Russian airbase in Crimea struck

President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 207 Ukrainian prisoners had returned home from Russian captivity on Jan. 31 and that “almost half of them are Mariupol defenders.”

Photo: Ignacio Marin/Anadolu via Getty Images

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Human cost of war

Russian attacks on Kherson Oblast injure 3 civilians. Russian attacks against Kherson Oblast over the day on Jan. 31 injured three people, including two in Beryslav and one in Tiahynka, regional officials reported.

Russian attacks kill 2, injure 17 over past day. Russia carried out attacks against 10 of Ukraine’s oblasts over the past day, killing at least two civilians and injuring a least 17 others, regional authorities reported early on Jan. 31.

General Staff: Russia has lost 385,230 troops in Ukraine. This number includes 1,090 casualties Russian forces suffered just over the past day.

International response

European Commission proposes to extend duty-free imports from Ukraine until June 2025. The European Commission proposed that import duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU should remain suspended until June 2025, though exceptions will apply to certain agricultural products, according to a Jan. 31 announcement.

RFE/RL: Moldovan companies supplied aircraft parts to Russia. Three Moldovan companies continued to supply aircraft parts worth around $15 million to Russia in 2023 despite European sanctions, RFE/RL Moldova reported on Jan. 31.

UN Court rules Russia broke international anti-terrorism financing treaty. Russia violated an international convention on prohibiting terrorist financing by supporting its proxies in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in 2014, the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled on Jan. 31.

UK makers criticize failure to use funds from Russian oligarch Abramovich’s sale of Chelsea FC for Ukraine. The sale of Chelsea FC generated 2.5 million pounds ($3.2 billion), which Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich said he would donate to Ukraine.

Estonian general: Russia likely responsible for uptick in GPS jamming in Eastern Europe. “Russia has demonstrated its electronic warfare capabilities elsewhere, not just in Ukraine and the Baltic countries,” said Martin Herem, the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces. “They’re definitely quite strong in this.”

Polish foreign minister: Berlin within range of Russian missiles. When asked if Poland is in danger, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said, “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin threatened Poland, Latvia and Finland. When he threatens a country, he is serious. Too often we have not taken him seriously.”

Bulgaria issues warrants for 6 Russians accused of arms warehouses’ explosions. The six suspects, whose name was not mentioned, are accused of involvement in the 2011 explosion in blast at EMCO Emilian Gebrev’s facility Lovnidol, two successive blasts at the IMZ-Sopot facility in Iganovo in 2015, and another one at the Arsenal plant near Muglizh in 2020.

Opinions and insights

Understanding Zelensky’s decree on Russian lands ‘historically inhabited by Ukrainians’

Unity Day, observed on Jan. 22 in Ukraine as a state holiday, typically commemorates the 1919 unification of eastern and western Ukraine. But this year, the date garnered attention for a decree signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky relating to modern-day Russian territories that were historically populated by Ukrainians.

Photo: Genya Sevilov/AFP via Getty Images

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Nate Ostiller, Martin Fornusek, Dinara Khalilova, Elsa Court, Lili Bivings, Oleksiy Sorokin, Kate Tsurkan, and Rachel Amran.

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