Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
February 22, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news
By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Mike Hayes and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN
Putin commits to strengthening Russia’s nuclear triad
From CNN's Duarte Mendonca
President Vladimir Putin has committed to Russia strengthening its nuclear triad, a military force structure capable of launching three types of nuclear weapons.
“This year, the first Sarmat missile system launchers with the new heavy missile will be put on combat duty. We will continue full production of the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic systems and begin mass deployment of Tsirkon sea-launched hypersonic missiles,” Putin said in a statement released to coincide with Thursday's Fatherland Day celebrations.
“With the Borei-A nuclear-powered submarine Emperor Alexander III becoming operational in the Navy, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the naval strategic nuclear forces will reach 100 per cent. In the coming years, three more cruisers from this project will be delivered to the Navy,” he added.
Putin’s remarks for Fatherland Day — a Russian holiday designed to celebrate the country’s military achievements — went on to emphasize the reliance on a “modern and efficient Army and Navy.”
“Relying on actual combat experience, we will pursue balanced and high-quality development of all components of the Armed Forces, improve the system for training units. A solid foundation here is the soldiers, sergeants and officers who showed their worth in combat on the frontline,” Putin was quoted as saying.
He added that Russia’s military manufacturing industry was “quickly increasing production” as the government prioritizes investment in military hardware.
Biden wraps up his trip to Poland and Ukraine. Here are the latest headlines
US President Joe Biden met with leaders of the eastern flank of NATO on Wednesday, praising the so-called Bucharest Nine and saying democracy and freedom are at stake in helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia.
"You're the front lines of our collective defense, and you know better than anyone what's at stake in this conflict. Not just for Ukraine but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe, and around the world," Biden said at the top of the meeting.
"Article 5 is a sacred commitment the United States has made. We will defend literally every inch of NATO, every inch of NATO," he added.
Here are the latest headlines:
- Ukraine will implement extra safety measures ahead of war anniversary: Parts of Ukraine will heighten security this week for the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of the country, according to local officials. Additional safety measures will be implemented in Ukraine's Kherson region, the region's military administration said in a statement Wednesday. From February 23 to 25, additional security measures will be implemented "in connection with the possible escalation of hostilities by the enemy," the regional military administration said.
- Russia's Federation Council unanimously passes bill on New START suspension: The bill passed the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, earlier Wednesday after it was introduced by President Vladimir Putin. The decision to restore Russia's participation in New START can only be made by Putin, according to TASS. On Tuesday, Putin announced his decision to suspend Russia’s participation in the treaty in his address to the Federal Assembly.
- Challenger tanks could arrive in Ukraine in the spring, UK official says: Challenger 2 battle tanks could start to arrive in Ukraine in "the spring," British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in an interview with Reuters. Britain could offer Ukraine more of its main battle tanks on top of the 14 already promised, but that would depend on the country's defense needs, Wallace told the news agency. Wallace was visiting a training site in southwest England where Ukrainian soldiers are learning to operate the tanks in combat conditions.
- There have been more than 800 attacks on Ukraine's health facilities since Russia's invasion, WHO chief says: Ukraine has suffered at least 802 attacks on health care facilities, resulting in the deaths of 101 doctors and patients, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing on Wednesday. “The health consequences of this war have been devastating,” he said.
- Ukraine's finance minister says it needs an extra $10 billion in financing: Sergii Marchenko told CNN's Julia Chatterley the country needs an extra $10 billion to cover its budget needs in 2023 and to start the reconstruction of the economy. Marchenko said his meeting with Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in Kyiv on Monday was very productive. He added: "Now we see our relationship is quite stable and we are moving in the direction of a fully-fledged program with the IMF."
Challenger tanks could arrive in Ukraine in the spring, British defense minister tells Reuters
From CNN's Michael Rios
Challenger 2 battle tanks could start to arrive in Ukraine in "the spring," British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
Britain could offer Ukraine more of its main battle tanks on top of the 14 already promised, but that would depend on the country's defense needs, Wallace told the news agency.
Wallace was visiting a training site in southwest England where Ukrainian soldiers are learning to operate the tanks in combat conditions. The UK defense ministry said in a statement that training was "continuing at pace" and would last several weeks.
"Ukrainians will continue to fight, and the UK, alongside our allies will not falter," Wallace said. "We will continue to provide the capabilities needed to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he added.
Putin pulling out of nuclear treaty "a trick to increase pressure," Lithuanian prime minister says
From CNN’s Isa Soares, Duarte Mendonca and Jaya Sharma in London
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Wednesday that Russia suspending its participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty is Moscow's "trick to increase pressure."
"It's in Putin's habit to use tricks like that, you know, to increase pressure. And there is no big surprise in this," the prime minister told CNN's Isa Soares in an interview.
Šimonytė demanded more NATO forces on the ground in the alliance's eastern flank, as well as higher investment in air defense to serve as “deterrence” against Russia.
"There should be an upscale of the military presence on the eastern flank from battalion up to brigade," she said.
Šimonytė urged Kyiv's allies to increase military support to Ukraine.
"How can you push back Russia’s military forces if you do not have heavy weapons?" she questioned.
The prime minister went on address the importance of getting resources to Ukraine quicker. In previous occasions, time was lost in conversations that led to weapons being delivered with a “delay of a couple of months.”
“This means that people's lives were being lost during those sorts of moments of, you know, of debate and hesitation,” the Lithuanian leader said, adding “it would be in the best interest of all the countries that can provide the relevant weapons or relevant means to make those decisions faster than later.”
Šimonytė admitted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “wakeup call," which has created a “rush to review the policies towards the defense spending.”
“Countries in this region, of course, have changed their attitudes or have increased their spending on defense and security significantly since the Crimea invasion and are continuing to do so in recent years because our defense spending will be somewhere between 2.5, 3% of GDP this year,” she said.
Pentagon warns of consequences for China if it provides lethal aid to Russia
From CNN's Haley Britzky
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Wednesday there “will be consequences for China” if it were to provide lethal military aid to Russia in its war against Ukraine.
“[W]e haven't seen them give lethal aid to Russia at this time, for the war, but they haven't also taken that off the table,” Singh said. “And so we have been consistent from here, and I believe Secretary Blinken also met with his counterpart in Germany just last week, we reinforced there that … there will be consequences for China should this partnership with Russia, further deepen.”
Singh added that China providing lethal aid to Russia in its war against Ukraine would “certainly be a miscalculation.”
Officials previously told CNN that there are signs Chinese officials want to “creep up to the line” of providing lethal military aid to Russia. The United States ambassador to the United Nations previously said that China doing so would be a red line.
Russians accused of crimes against humanity likely to "enjoy impunity" in Russia, US State Department says
From CNN's From Kylie Atwood, Michael Conte and Saba Haroon
While Russians involved in crimes against humanity in the Ukraine war could be prosecuted before the war is over, the main challenge will be getting them in custody while they reside in Russia, US State Department said.
“While individuals remain within Russia, they will probably enjoy impunity because there is no international police force who can go and make those arrests,” said Beth Van Schaack, State Department ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice.
Van Shaack said the US is “trying to support accountability wherever it is being pursued" without commenting on whether the US has shared its evidence used to determine the crimes against humanity.
A recent report funded by the department on at least 6,000 Ukrainian children being deported or trapped within Russia could show evidence of genocide, she said, adding that the US would continue to watch for other indications of genocide in Ukraine.
Biden's visit to Kyiv sends an "incredibly powerful signal," Polish president tells CNN
US President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv on Monday sends “an incredibly powerful signal, a political and strategic signal” Polish President Andrzej Duda has told CNN.
It "sends a signal of the defense of the free world, of the defense of NATO, of the defense of every inch of the territory," Duda said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Warsaw.
He added this was a significant message to Polish people.
“To Poles, this American signal, this allied signal, not only within NATO, but first of all a signal sent by the greatest superpower in the world, a signal sent by our friend and ally today, is so significant,” Duda said.
Modern weapons are key to ensuring Ukraine's defense, Polish president says
From CNN’s Ken Olshansky and Alex Hardie
Polish President Andrzej Duda told CNN modern weapons are key for Ukraine's defense against Russia.
Asked by CNN's Christiane Amanpour if that even includes fighter jets, he responded: “If there is such a need, of course, yes.”
He added, “We still have got MiG-29s, Ukrainian pilots are prepared to operate them today. The question is when will Ukrainian pilots be ready to fly modern aircraft at NATO standards, such as F-16s, or Mirage, French planes, or Eurofighters, or any other type of modern machines. This is a question mark, when the Ukrainian pilots will be ready to do that. Because the training of a pilot is much more complicated and much longer [than the training of a tank operator]."
Poland’s Leopard tanks are “ready to be sent” to Ukraine, Duda said, adding that Ukrainian soldiers are currently being trained in Poland to operate those tanks.
He said those Ukrainian soldiers would be ready “within one month to come back to Ukraine together with tanks.”
However, Poland has “serious problems” with getting spare parts to tanks from Germany, the Polish leader added.
“It’s not only us — these problems are quite common. Other countries also have problems with Leopards, because Germans have got a serious problem with providing spare parts. We do not understand this situation, but that’s the way it is. Now, our Leopard tanks are ready for Ukraine today. In our training center, there are Ukrainian tankers training on Leopard tanks, we are preparing them right now, there is a training cycle going on,” Duda said.
The Polish president recalled talking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on February 23, 2022, the day before Russia invaded Ukraine.
“When I said goodbye to Volodymyr, Volodymyr told me, ‘Andrzej, I do not know whether we would see each other again.’ That was a very powerful moment, a moving moment. And then he told me, ‘If Putin thinks that he would control Ukraine, conquer Ukraine, just as they did with Crimea in 2014, then he is mistaken. We have got eight years of combat experience and thousands of people who were fighting on the front. We are going to fight till the end, till we drop.’ And that is what has happened. And they’re fighting until today,” Duda said.