Our live coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told reporters at the White House he thinks world leaders should create a coalition aimed at ending the war in Ukraine — and that he expressed the idea to US President Joe Biden during their meeting at the White House Friday.
Lula said he'd also mentioned the idea to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
He suggested the world leaders "create a group of countries that are not involved directly in the war between Ukraine and Russia, so that we can find a possibility for us to build peace,” Lula said Friday. “I am convinced that it’s necessary to find a way out, to put an end to this war. And I felt from the side of President Biden the same concern."
In an interview with CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour Friday, Lula said if a country is invaded, “of course it has the right to defend itself,” but that he wants to “fix the error” Russia made.
“I don’t want to join the war," the Brazilian leader said. "I want to end the war.”
Lula has sought to be a global statesman who could broker a truce between Russia and Ukraine, telling CNN that he began this work by speaking to Scholz, who visited Brazil in January.
Lula reiterated that hope Friday evening, telling reporters he’d like to see, “a partnership capable of building a group of negotiators which both sides believe in."
What the US is saying: The Biden administration has repeatedly deferred to Ukraine on the decision to open peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
Pressed on Lula’s earlier comments around Ukraine during Friday’s press briefing, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that while the administration “would like to see this war end today,” Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure would appear to belie that hope.
“We're going to have to stay at the task of supporting Ukraine so it can succeed at the battlefield, so that if and when president Zelensky has determined it's time to negotiate and sit down at the table to solve this diplomatically, he can do it with the wind at his back,” Kirby said. “So, it’s really up to President Zelensky to determine if and when negotiations are appropriate."
The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it was informed by Ukraine's energy regulator on Friday that the power output at two nuclear power plants was reduced as a precaution after sustained Russian shelling.
The IAEA said in a statement that the power plants in Rivne and in southern Ukraine "had reduced power output as a precautionary measure due to renewed shelling of the country’s energy infrastructure."
The shelling of a third plant — the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine — caused one of the plant's reactor units to "shut down," continued the statement. The UN watchdog added that its own support and assistance missions present on the ground had confirmed that "all nuclear safety systems at Khmelnytskyi worked as expected."
Talks with Russia: IAEA chief Rafael Grossi held talks with senior Russian officials in Moscow this week. According to the IAEA, the talks were part of the lengthy efforts to "agree and implement a much-needed nuclear safety and security protection zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP)."
The UN watchdog said it has been unable to rotate its team of experts present in the plant in southern Ukraine due to "increased military activity."
After meeting on Thursday with the head of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, and an intergovernmental group of the Russian Federation, Grossi met representatives from the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday, according to the statement.
As the meetings wrapped, Grossi said he remained hopeful that the safety zone will be established while acknowledging it should've been done earlier. He also raised the idea of the zone during recent talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, according to the IAEA statement.
“The situation around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant remains volatile and unpredictable, as it is an active combat zone. The postponement of the planned rotation demonstrates all too clearly the need for urgent measures to protect the plant and the people working there,” Grossi stressed.
Ukrainian authorities have warned of a drone attack threat in the Kyiv region.
"We urge residents to stay in safe places until the air raid alarm ends," the region’s military administration said on Telegram Friday night.
Air raid alarms sounded Friday night across several regions of Ukraine as Russia escalated attacks on the country.
The Russian-occupied city of Melitopol was hit with a series of explosions on Friday night, according to both Ukrainian and pro-Russian officials.
Ukrainian forces have repeatedly struck Melitopol in the last several weeks in an effort to reclaim land in the south of the country and underline the importance of longer-range weaponry.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the region's pro-Russian military-civilian administration, said on Telegram that "a series of explosions were heard in the city for the second time this evening," adding that the Russian Armed Forces air defense system was working to combat the attacks.
Rogov claimed the Armed Forces of Ukraine were striking the city with heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems. He said that "fragments of downed rockets" hit private residential houses.
"There is damage, and fire broke out at the site of the shelling by the Ukrainian armed forces of the residential area of the city. There are casualties," Rogov said. "Information on casualties and destruction is being clarified."
Meanwhile, Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol, said in a Telegram post on Friday that the southern city was shuddering from powerful explosions.
"The power of incoming hits is such that the windows are shaking," he said.
Ukrainian air defense systems are defending the central city of Dnipro against a Russian attack, the region’s military administration said on Telegram on Friday.
"Explosions in Dnipro city — air defense is working," said Serhii Lysak, the head of the Dnipropetrovskk region military administration.
Russia attacked the Mykolaiv, Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions of Ukraine using drones on Friday, regional officials said.
Vitalii Kim, the head of the Mykolaiv region military administration, said in a Telegram post that there were drones flying in the area. He also suggested three drones had been downed by Ukrainian forces in Mykolaiv.
In the Odesa region, air defense units shot down four Iranian Shahed-136 drones "that were trying to hit energy infrastructure facilities," according to Maksym Marchenko, head of the regional military administration.
"I am grateful to the air defense units that are always on guard over our skies and have once again demonstrated their professionalism," Marchenko said in a Telegram post.
Meanwhile, Mykola Lukashuk, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region council, said on Telegram that unmanned aerial vehicles had been spotted in the region.
Earlier on Friday, the Ukrainian Military general staff update said Russia carried out two attacks using Iranian Shahed-136 drones.
President Joe Biden will visit Poland this month to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, returning to the region as the war enters a volatile new phase without a clear path to peace.
The president is planning to visit Poland from February 20 to 22. The White House said he would meet Poland's President Duda and other leaders from the region. He'll deliver remarks ahead of the official anniversary on February 24.
Biden’s aides have been planning for several weeks how they will mark the anniversary of the invasion, including potentially a major address. They hope to emphasize the resilience of the Ukrainian people while stressing the importance of unity in the uncertain months ahead.
The US president hopes to reiterate American support for Ukraine on his upcoming trip to the region, a top White House official said, including making clear additional assistance would be forthcoming.
“He wants to talk about the importance of the international community's resolve and unity in supporting Ukraine for now going on a year,” said John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council.
Preparing for an offensive: Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky is currently preparing for an expected Russian offensive in the spring, appealing to Western governments for additional assistance and weaponry — including fighter jets and tanks — to help sustain the fight. He visited London, Paris and Brussels this week to deliver his requests in person, a rare trip outside his country that lent his appeals new urgency.
Some background: Polish President Andrzej Duda said allied relations are “stronger than ever” after the White House's announcement.
Biden last visited Poland, a key NATO ally, in April, traveling near the Ukraine border to visit with US and Polish troops. He also met with refugees fleeing Ukraine after the invasion.
In a speech delivered from the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden said for the first time that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” edging toward calling for regime change in Moscow.
A US State Department spokesperson condemned the latest Russian attacks against Ukraine, which damaged energy infrastructure in several regions of the country.
The strikes are “yet another reminder that Russia seeks the full destruction of Ukraine,” principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a phone briefing.
According to Patel, Russia launched a barrage of ballistic missiles and Iranian-made drones against not just transformer stations, but thermal generation stations and hydroelectric stations as well.
“These strikes against entire power plants that heat millions of homes and light thousands of city blocks, offices, hospitals and schools — these are essential structures that make a cold winter survivable for millions,” he said.
“This is a deliberate targeting of infrastructure that keeps Ukrainians alive in winter. Today is yet another reminder that Russia seeks the full destruction of Ukraine,” he said. “They literally want to bring darkness to Ukraine.”
“There is right and there is wrong, and Russia is wrong,” Patel added.