February 2, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Eliza Mackintosh, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:11 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023
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6:54 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

EU to train 15,000 additional Ukrainian soldiers, says foreign policy chief 

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

The European Union (EU) will train an additional 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers as part of its Military Assistance Mission, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced on Thursday. 

“Russia brought war back to Europe, but Ukraine keeps fighting back,” tweeted Borrell.

“Glad to announce to [Ukraine's Prime Minister] Denys Shmyhal that EU Military Assistance Mission #EUMAM will train additional 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers, taking the total number of EUMAM trained personnel to 30,000."

Borrell also announced the EU would provide €25 million ($27.5 million) in equipment and training for mine-clearing operations in Ukraine.  

“Protecting civilians and their livelihood is a priority,” he said. 

8:43 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

CNN is on the ground in Kramatorsk, which is under renewed attack from Russian missiles

From CNN’s Tim Lister, Frederik Pleitgen, Konstantin Hak, Matthias Somm and Yulia Kesaieva

The site of a missile strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on February 2.
The site of a missile strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on February 2. (Konstantin Hak/CNN)

The eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk has come under renewed Russian attack Thursday, one day after a strike there left at least three people dead, according to a CNN team in the city.

Two missiles landed near an ongoing rescue operation in the residential neighborhood that was hit on Wednesday night.

CNN bore witness to the missile strikes on the city – hearing the first incoming strike, and then seeing the second.

According to preliminary information, Thursday’s strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the regional military administration, but it was not clear how many.

“Kramatorsk shook again with explosions as the Russians launched two more missile strikes,” Kyrylenko said on the messaging app Telegram. “Again, they hit the city center, residential buildings.”

The city's mayor, Oleksandr Honcharenko, confirmed that there had been a strike on Kramatorsk and urged residents to stay in bomb shelters.

Wednesday night's attack left eight people wounded, two of whom are in critical condition, Honcharenko said.

7:35 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Top US and Ukrainian generals discuss "current situation on the frontline" in phone call

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Mick Krever

Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak, right, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny had a phone call with U.S. President's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak, right, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny had a phone call with U.S. President's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. (President of Ukraine)

Top generals from the United States and Ukraine discussed recent military developments and what Russian forces might do next during a phone call, the Ukrainian president’s office said Thursday.

“The interlocutors were briefed on the current situation on the frontline, particularly in the Donetsk and southern directions,” the Ukrainian readout said. “In addition, the parties exchanged views on possible actions of the enemy in the near future.”

On the call were Valerii Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine; Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian President’s Office; Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Jake Sullivan, US National Security Advisor. 

Yermak thanked the US "for its powerful support of Ukraine and strengthening our defense capabilities," according to the readout.

He also underlined the Ukrainian government's commitment "to cleansing the authorities from corruption risks.”

6:13 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Russian shelling kills two in Kherson region

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Russian shelling has killed two people in Ukraine’s Kherson region overnight, according to local officials.

In Kherson city, a 25-year-old man was killed in his home, and a 44-year-old woman was killed in Komyshany, just west of Kherson city.

“At night, residents of the central part of Kherson city woke up to explosions,” the Kherson regional civil-military administration said on Telegram.

"Despite the danger of repeated attacks, the locals went to the most damaged house where a 25-year-old man lived. The body of the young Kherson resident was lying in the open air. The medics who arrived at the scene could do nothing to help – a fragment of a Russian shell had taken his life instantly,” it added.

In the village of Komyshany, the regional administration said a 44-year-old woman was killed by shrapnel at home.

The Kherson region prosecutor's office said it had opened criminal proceedings.

6:06 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Russia will come out of "current situation" in Ukraine “stronger,” says foreign minister

From CNN’s Anna Chernova  

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on January 31.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on January 31. (Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Russia will be stronger after the “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“I think that we will come out of the current situation stronger, and we’ll be able to protect ourselves more effectively in any situation,” Lavrov said in an interview with state TV Rossiya-24.

When asked if Moscow was ready for peace in Ukraine, Lavrov said: “I am definitely for peace. I am for peace. I don't remember who it was who said, 'If you want peace, prepare for war.' I do not share this philosophy. I share the idea that I would formulate this way: 'If you want peace, always be ready to defend yourself.'” 

“This US conviction of its superiority is the main reason why we are standing up to the United States and those who, along with them through Ukraine, are waging a hybrid war against us,” Lavrov added

Lavrov also said that Russia is “unlikely” to turn to ex-Soviet countries for their help in Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. 

5:37 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

EU-Ukraine summit sends "very strong signal" to Ukrainians and to Russia, says senior EU official

From CNN’s James Frater

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in Strasbourg, France on January 18.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in Strasbourg, France on January 18. (Philipp von Ditfurth/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

A joint European Union-Ukraine summit due to be held in Kyiv on Friday is “a very strong signal” of support, a senior EU official said in a briefing ahead of the meeting.

Speaking to journalists in Brussels this week, a senior EU official said that holding the meeting in Kyiv during Russia’s invasion "is a signal first of all to Ukrainians, of support, in person, being there.”

“It is a signal, of course also to Russia,” the official added.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, arrived in the Ukrainian capital Thursday, alongside her commissioners, ahead of the summit. 

This is the 24th summit between the European Union and Ukraine, but the first since the start of Russia’s invasion and also since the European Council granted Ukraine the status of candidate country.

Leaders are expected to discuss Ukraine’s progress towards becoming a full member state of the EU, response to Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine, further support for Ukraine and global food security.

The official said that "the question as to whether Ukraine will join the European family has been decisively answered with a yes, it's not a question of if anymore.”

However they didn’t want to speculate on when this process would conclude, as historically it takes years to become a full member country of the EU.

A second senior EU official welcomed Ukraine's recent anti-corruption efforts, including a recent government shake up amid a growing corruption scandal.

“Of course, much work remains to be done on this and we are working with Ukraine on that,” the official added.

On January 24, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said that “anti-corruption measures are of course an important dimension of the EU accession process." 

5:04 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Former Russian officer claims he witnessed torture in Ukraine

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

A former Russian army officer has claimed that he witnessed torture of Ukrainian soldiers while stationed in the south of that country last year.

Konstantin Yefremov told the BBC in an exclusive interview that he had been part of a mine clearance unit in Chechnya in the months leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and had been on an exercises deployment in Crimea on February 24 last year.

Yefremov, who has since fled Russia, told the BBC he then found himself on an air base in the southern city of Melitopol, where Russian forces had captured a Ukrainian soldier.

“The Ukrainian had a blindfold on. The colonel put a pistol to the prisoner’s forehead and said, ‘I’m going to count to three and then shoot you in the head,” Yefremov told the BBC through a translator. “He counted and then fired just to the side of his head. On both sides.”

The BBC shared an image of Yefremov’s military identification and said that it had geolocated images that the former officer took while deployed in Ukraine.

“The interrogations, this torture, continued for about a week,” Yefremov told the BBC. “Every day. At night. Sometimes twice a day.”

“During another interrogation, the colonel shot the prisoner in the arm and in the right leg. Under the knee, and the bone. I went to the commanders and said, ‘The Ukrainian needs to go to hospital. He’ll be dead by morning from blood loss.’ We dressed him up in a Russian uniform and took him to hospital. We told him, ‘Don’t say you’re a Ukrainian prisoner of war. Because either the doctors will refuse to treat you or the injured Russian soldiers will hear you and shoot you.’”
3:29 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Austria to expel 4 Russian diplomats

From CNN's Angus Watson

Austria has revoked the diplomatic status of four Russian diplomats, labeling them "personae non gratae" and giving them a week to leave the country.

Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that two Russian diplomats at the embassy in Vienna had “engaged in acts incompatible with their diplomatic status.”
A further two Russian diplomats at the country’s permanent mission to the United Nations must also leave Austria after “committing acts incompatible with the Headquarters Agreement,” the statement added.

The ministry did not specify in the statement what the acts were. 

2:58 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Ukraine expects Russia to mark invasion anniversary with renewed offensive, defense minister says

From CNN's Mick Krever, Arnaud Siad and Yulia Kesaieva

Oleksii Reznikov addresses a news conference in Paris on January 31.
Oleksii Reznikov addresses a news conference in Paris on January 31. (Julie Sebadelha/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s defense minister said Wednesday that Kyiv believes Russia will mark the first anniversary of its invasion next month with a renewed offensive.

“We think since they believe in symbols, they will attempt something around Feb. 24,” Oleksii Reznikov said in an interview with French channel BFM.
“They can attempt a push on two axes,” Reznikov said. “It can be the Donbas, it can be in the south. And we tell our partners we must also ourselves be ready as soon as possible, and that's why we need weapons, to contain the enemy. Wars are all about initiative, and we can't lose the initiative.”

Reznikov was echoing repeated warnings from Ukrainian officials in recent weeks about an anticipated spring offensive from Moscow's forces. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Tuesday that the coming months of the war will be “defining.” 

Ukraine’s General Staff, in its daily morning update on Thursday, said Russian forces were “active in reconnaissance and preparing for an offensive.”