February 14, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Mike Hayes and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 1:19 a.m. ET, February 15, 2023
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4:07 a.m. ET, February 14, 2023

Moldovan President accuses Russia of plotting to destabilize the country

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Rob Picheta

Moldova's President Maia Sandu on Monday accused Russia of planning to use "saboteurs" to destabilize the former Soviet republic, echoing a claim made days earlier by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

In an address on the presidential website, Sandu said the statement by Zelensky "about the plans of the Russian Federation to destabilize the Republic of Moldova have been confirmed by our institutions."

"Russia's plan to carry out subversive actions on the territory of our state is not new," she said. "Attempts to destabilize the situation and undermine the state were also made last autumn, but they did not achieve their goal thanks to the prompt intervention of our security and public order agencies."

Sandu added that last fall, in anticipation of an energy crisis, there was a plan for "a series of actions involving saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings and hostage-taking."

Sandu also claimed individuals disguised as "the so-called opposition" were going to try forcing a change of power in Chisinau through "violent actions." 

CNN is unable to independently verify those claims.   

On Thursday, Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence intercepted a Russian plan to destabilize Moldova.

The next day, the prime minister of Moldova and her cabinet resigned — just hours after a Russian cruise missile crossed over the country's territory. The Foreign Ministry summoned Russia's ambassador over what it said was an "unacceptable violation of our airspace by a Russian missile."  

CNN has reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment on the allegations by Sandu and Zelensky.

Some context: The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in the emergence of a pro-Moscow de facto breakaway state along Moldova’s border with Ukraine known as Transnistria. Unrecognized by the international community, the 1,300-square mile enclave has played host to thousands of Russian troops and its economy is heavily dependent on Russian subsidies.

Concerns about Russia’s long-term plans for Transnistria have only intensified after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February.

8:32 p.m. ET, February 13, 2023

Ukrainian authorities claim Russia is "sabotaging inspections" of vessels heading to their ports

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Lauren Kent

Ukraine's Ministry of Infrastructure claims Russia is "sabotaging inspections" of vessels heading to Ukrainian ports to load up agricultural products, noting "the number of new vessels entering for loading continues to decrease" in the ports of Greater Odesa.

"Such decreasing dynamics are due to Russia’s actions in the inspection zone in the Bosphorus. It is now three months in a row that Russians are sabotaging inspections for unsubstantiated and sometimes preposterous reasons," the ministry said in a statement on social media.

There are 145 vessels in line for inspection by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) as of Feb. 12, and 122 of those are heading to Ukrainian ports to get agricultural produce, the ministry said.

CNN has reached out to the JCC, ​the UN initiative that oversees the export of Ukrainian grain, for comment.

"It is our hope that the issue of impeded inspections will be resolved by our partners and the entire civilized world," the ministry statement added. "Ukraine has the right to free trade navigation under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the world has the right to continuous access to food. Russia must stop imposing its discriminatory policies on the world." 

8:19 p.m. ET, February 13, 2023

German foreign minister urges Turkey and Hungary to speed up approval of Nordic nations' NATO bids

From CNN's Inke Kappeler and Lauren Kent

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday called on Turkey and Hungary to quickly ratify Finland and Sweden's bids to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

“I made it clear over recent months with regard to all NATO members, especially the two who haven't ratified yet, that it is not only in the spirit of an alliance to ratify swiftly, but also that it will make us stronger as an alliance,“ Baerbock said during a joint news conference with her Finnish counterpart in Helsinki.

The two Nordic countries announced their intention to join NATO in May 2022, ending decades of neutrality after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused a sudden shift in attitudes toward joining the bloc. 

All 30 NATO member states must ratify their bids to join the bloc; however, Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve them. 

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he hopes both Finland and Sweden can become NATO members by the middle of the summer, adding "the conflict is not far away from us." 

Haavisto said he hoped fulfilling "all those conditions that were set by Turkey" would lead "to a very rapid ratification process." 

Some context: Turkey-Sweden relations suffered a major blow in late January after a rally outside the Turkish Embassy in Helsinki at which an anti-immigration politician set a copy of the Quran alight. The incident sparked anger in Turkey, where protesters burned the Swedish flag outside the Swedish Embassy in response.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said he has a positive view on Finland's entry to NATO, but not on Sweden's "as long as it permits attacks on Islam's holy book Quran," according to state news agency Anadolu. Turkey has also said Sweden must take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

CNN's Jack Guy and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting to this post.

8:03 p.m. ET, February 13, 2023

Mauling of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine hotspot may signal problems to come

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv, Ukraine

The scenes are chaotic: Russian tanks veering wildly before exploding or driving straight into minefields, men running in every direction, some on fire, the bodies of soldiers caught in tank tracks.

Russian military bloggers are calling it a fiasco, and worse.

These scenes have been recorded by Ukrainian military drones over the past two weeks around the town of Vuhledar in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, where successive Russian assaults have failed.

The Vuhledar debacle suggests chronic failures in the command and tactics of the Russians as they gear up for a spring offensive. If replicated elsewhere on the long military front in Donetsk and Luhansk, such failings could jeopardize the Kremlin’s plans to seize more territory.

About 20 videos geolocated by CNN show basic tactical blunders in an area that’s open and flat, where Ukrainian spotters on higher ground can direct artillery strikes and where minefields are worsening Russian casualties.

One video shows a tank running into a minefield and exploding, followed almost obliviously by an infantry fighting vehicle that suffers the same fate. Others show Ukrainian drones dropping small explosive charges on static tanks in open country — and a graveyard of abandoned armor.

Read more here.