Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
February 1, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
By Sophie Tanno, Hannah Strange, Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales and Mike Hayes, CNN
Rescue operation underway in Kramatorsk after missile strike kills at least 3 people, police say
From Olga Voitovych
More than 100 police officers are working to rescue people from the rubble after a missile attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, according to Donetsk region police. The strike killed at least 3 people, police said.
"Russian troops targeted the residential area of the city with an 'Iskander-K' missile. At least 8 apartment buildings were damaged, one of them was completely destroyed. Preliminarily, it is known about 3 dead civilians and 20 wounded. People may remain under the rubble," the police said on Telegram.
The attack happened at 9:45 p.m. local time Wednesday. A search and rescue operation is underway.
Authorities are evacuating people to a local school for shelter.
Punishing mix of trench warfare and longer-range rocket fire marks grim standoff in Donetsk town
From CNN's Tim Lister, Frederik Pleitgen and Konstantyn Hak
In the town of Krasnohorivka, Ukraine, grim Soviet-era apartment buildings stand nearly but not quite empty, with only a few residents remaining.
Blocks on the southern edges of town are burned shells, windows shattered and awnings dangling in the winter breeze. Houses are largely shuttered; their tenants long gone. The central square is abandoned and eerie.
On Wednesday, a few civilians moved gingerly along icy pavements to a small store that seemed still to be open. A man cycled past with a load of firewood.
Then a Russian rocket propelled grenade burst in the ice-grey sky above — a reminder of the potent threat carried by the enemy.
While the world’s attention has been focused on the city of Bakhmut as the vortex of the conflict in Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has been as relentless elsewhere.
Areas south and west of the city of Donetsk — particularly the towns of Krasnohorivka and Vuhledar — have seen combat for much of the war: a punishing mix of trench warfare and longer-range rocket fire as each side probes for weaknesses. Progress here for the Russians is vital if they are to realize President Vladimir Putin’s goal of winning all of the Donetsk region.
At the moment, they are going nowhere.
Just to the north of Krasnohorivka, an elaborate system of trenches marks Ukraine’s forward defensive positions. More than two meters deep in the dark brown earth, the trenches extend for hundreds of meters, and in some places are within half a kilometer of Russian positions.
In the distance, a huge snow-covered slag heap rises out of the mist, like a ski slope in the wrong place.
A Ukrainian commander, who gave his first name as Bogdan, describes the situation as “controlled but tense” — a euphemism favored by the Ukrainian military for “very active.”
“The enemy is always searching for weak spots, but they don’t find them because we have a very durable defense,” Bogdan says. “Any enemy attempts are cut down immediately.”
His unit says it likes to take the fight to the enemy rather than wait to attack, to try to sap the Russians’ morale. As they fired Wednesday, the men occasionally yelled to each other: “Best job in the world.”
Read more here.
Zelensky condemns Kramatorsk missile strike
From CNN's Olga Voitovych
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the Russian strike that hit a residential building in Kramatorsk late Wednesday.
"This is not a repetition of history; this is the daily reality of our country. A country bordering absolute evil. And a country that has to overcome it in order to reduce to zero the likelihood of such tragedies happening again," he said on his official Telegram channel. "We will definitely find and punish all the perpetrators. They do not deserve mercy," he concluded.
Zelensky expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims. At least two people were killed and eight were wounded.
Human Rights Watch urges Ukraine to investigate apparent use of rocket-fired antipersonnel mines
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite, Rebecca Wright, Sam Kiley, Olha Konovalova and Peter Rudden
Advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Ukraine to investigate its military’s "apparent" use of rocket-fired antipersonnel landmines in and around the eastern city of Izium when Russian forces occupied the area.
In new research published Tuesday, HRW said it documented "numerous cases in which rockets carrying PFM antipersonnel mines, also called 'butterfly mines' or 'petal mines,' were fired into Russian-occupied areas near Russian military facilities."
“Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izium area, causing civilian casualties and posing an ongoing risk,” Arms Division director at HRW Steve Goose said.
“Russian forces have repeatedly used antipersonnel mines and committed atrocities across the country, but this doesn’t justify Ukrainian use of these prohibited weapons," Goose added.
"The use of antipersonnel mines violates international humanitarian law because they cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants," HRW said.
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the report will be "duly analyzed by the relevant Ukrainian institutions."
"Ukraine, exercising its right to self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, fully fulfills its international obligations against the background of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide of the Ukrainian people committed by the Russian occupiers," the ministry said in response to the HRW report.
Ukrainian forces retook Izium in September 2022, after six months of Russian occupation, marking a huge strategic loss for the Russian military.
At least 2 killed after Russian missile strikes residential building in Kramatorsk, official says
From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Sharon Braithwaite
At least two people were killed and eight wounded late Wednesday after Russian forces shelled the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, officials said.
"Two hours ago, Russian occupants hit a residential building in the city center with a missile and completely destroyed it," Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk region military administration said on his Telegram channel.
"Rescuers, law enforcement, and public utilities are working at the scene to dismantle the rubble of the destroyed building. It is possible that there may be people under the rubble," he said.
In a statement, the Prosecutor General's Office said eight people "sustained injuries of varying severity."
Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said Russia had targeted civilians. He added: "Russia is a terrorist state."
See the tweet:
This post was updated with the latest casualty report.
Amid anti-corruption drive, Zelensky says he will make as many personnel changes as necessary
From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Sharon Braithwaite
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday he would make as many personnel changes as necessary to guarantee the rule of law.
His words come after Ukrainian authorities conducted a series of anti-corruption searches and crackdowns across the country – including a search tied to the helicopter crash last month that left the country’s interior minister dead – to combat what they described as “the internal enemy" in the country.
Hours after Zelensky promised “new reforms,” Ukrainian authorities conducted a series of anti-corruption searches, according to the country’s parliamentary majority leader.
"I thank all law enforcement officers who have demonstrated the strength of law and the state today. I am grateful to the government of ukraine for its prompt personnel response. In particular, today, the heads of customs were dismissed," Zelensky said in his daily address.
"Unfortunately, in some areas, the only way to guarantee the rule of law is to change the leadership along with institutional changes. Changing as much as necessary to ensure that people do not get dirty in their positions," the president said.
"The purity of processes within the ministry of defense and the defense forces, in general, is especially important. Any internal supply, any procurement – everything must be absolutely as clean and honest as external supplies for our defense. Those who interfere with this will not remain in the relevant structures," Zelensky added.
CNN's Mick Krever contributed to this report
Paris Olympics will follow international committee stance on Russian and Belarusian athletes, organizers say
From CNN's David Close
Organizers for the next Summer Olympics said they will follow the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) previously announced plan to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate at the Games.
In an email to CNN, a Paris 2024 spokesperson reiterated the Olympic qualification system is determined not by their organization but by the IOC, International Paralympic Committee, and international federations.
In late January, the IOC outlined a multi-step plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in Paris and at the 2026 Winter Games in Milan. “No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” the IOC’s executive board declared.
The Paris 2024 spokesperson said the organization will comply with the sanctions already put in place on Russian and Belarusian athletes by the IOC. In order for athletes from the two countries to compete at the next two Olympics, they would represent as “neutral athletes and in no way represent their state or any other organization in their country,” the IOC said last month.
Paris 2024 said it stands in "full solidarity with Ukraine, its people and the Ukrainian Olympic and Paralympic movements, who are faced with an unimaginable crisis. ... Our wish is that the Olympic movement, the Paralympic movement and the athletes experience the Paris 2024 Games in a spirit of peace, respecting the values of fraternity and solidarity.”
Paris is set to host the XXXIII Olympic Summer Games from July 26 to August 11, 2024.
CNN’s Sammy Mngqosini contributed reporting to this post.
Ukraine conducted anti-corruption searches across the country Wednesday. Here's what they revealed.
From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Mick Krever and Jack Guy
Ukrainian authorities have conducted a series of anti-corruption raids across the country, uncovering stashes of cash as well as luxury watches and cars.
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said the raids were part of an effort to combat what they described as “the internal enemy” in the country.
The raids come as President Volodymyr Zelensky said his government is working on “new reforms” that will make the country “more human, transparent and effective” as he prepares to meet European Union officials on Friday for talks on Ukraine’s possible accession to the bloc.
Here are key things to know about the raids:
What was revealed:
- The acting head of the Kyiv tax authority was allegedly part of a scheme to overlook 45 billion Ukrainian hryvnia ($1.2 billion) in unpaid taxes. On Wednesday, the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) said that it had found hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, as well as luxury watches and cars, at the tax chief’s residence. CNN is attempting to reach that individual for comment.
- The SBU also accused the “former management” of Ukraine’s largest oil extraction and refinery firms of the “misappropriation” of $1.1 billion.
- The SBU said the Ministry of Defense’s former head for procurement spent the equivalent of $2.7 million on almost 3,000 bulletproof vests for the Ukrainian armed forces which were later found to be unable to “properly protect Ukrainian soldiers.”
Some actions taken so far:
- Top managers at oil firms PJSC Ukrtatnafta were served with a notice of suspicion of committing criminal offenses, according to the SBU.
- It also charged the Ministry of Defense’s former head for procurement with “misappropriation, embezzlement or seizure of property through abuse of office,” obstruction of the armed forces, and “committing a criminal offense by a group of persons.” The individual faced five to eight years in prison, the SBU said, adding that it had recalled the sub-standard vests.
The investigation into January's helicopter crash:
- Former interior minister Arsen Avakov’s property was searched in connection to an investigation into the Jan. 18 helicopter crash that killed 14 people.
- Avakov was interior minister when the ‘Super Puma’ ES-225 helicopter involved in the crash was purchased from France as part of a contract signed in 2018. On Wednesday, he denied any wrongdoing and said that the contracts were approved by parliament.
- As is standard, Ukrainian authorities have said they are investigating all possible causes of the helicopter crash, including pilot error, technical malfunction and sabotage.