February 4, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 2230 GMT (0630 HKT) February 4, 2023
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5:29 p.m. ET, February 4, 2023

We've wrapped up our live coverage for the day. You can read more about Russia's invasion of Ukraine here.

5:08 p.m. ET, February 4, 2023

This map shows the latest state of control in Ukraine

Ukraine is fighting to hold on to the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday.

Communities surrounding the city, including the town of Soledar, have seen some of the fiercest fighting in the conflict in recent months.

This map shows the status of other areas Russia currently occupies in Ukraine:

4:50 p.m. ET, February 4, 2023

New Jersey governor extends condolences to family and friends of US volunteer aid worker killed in Ukraine

From CNN's Samantha Beech

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy offered their condolences to the family and friends of Pete Reed, an American volunteer aid worker from New Jersey who was killed in Ukraine while providing aid to civilians.

"Pete dedicated his life to service, both founding and working for organizations that help people in need throughout the world," Murphy said in a statement Saturday. "Pete will be remembered for the depth of his courage and his compassion, his selflessness, and his sacrifice.

"His death serves as a devastating reminder of the catastrophic suffering that this unjustified war has caused," he continued. "New Jersey will continue to stand on the side of the Ukrainian people in their valiant effort to fight back against Russia’s brutal invasion. I can speak on behalf of our entire state to say that our hearts are heavy today."

Pete Reed
Pete Reed (Global Outreach Doctors)

Reed, a US Marine veteran, was “killed while rendering aid” during a mission in the eastern city of Bakhmut with another organization, according to a statement from Global Response Medicine, the humanitarian aid group he founded.

A US State Department spokesperson confirmed “the recent death of a US citizen in Ukraine” when asked for comment.

2:10 p.m. ET, February 4, 2023

Zelensky thanks UK for training Ukrainian soldiers on Challenger 2 tanks 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Ukrainian tank crews train in the UK.
Ukrainian tank crews train in the UK. (UK Ministry of Defence)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the United Kingdom for training Ukrainian soldiers in the use of the Challenger 2 tanks it donated to Ukraine.

Zelensky said he expressed his gratitude to British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak during a phone call Saturday.  

Downing Street said last week that the UK will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of efforts to "intensify" support for the Ukrainian defense against Russia.

Earlier Saturday, the UK's defense ministry said the Ukrainians were "quick to master" the tanks.

"We also talked about the further expansion of the capabilities of the Ukrainian army, the all-round support of Ukraine in the short and long term," Zelensky said, recapping the call in a Telegram post

According to a Downing Street readout of the call, the two leaders discussed the "latest situation on the ground in Ukraine," with Sunak outlining his commitment to "ensuring the UK’s defensive military equipment reached the front line as quickly as possible."

“Both leaders agreed that it was vital that international partners accelerated their assistance to Ukraine to help seize the opportunity to push Russian forces back, as well as looking at how they could support the long-term capability of Ukraine’s armed forces," Downing Street said. 

Sunak also recounted his experiences meeting Ukrainian troops training in the UK last week, telling Zelensky that he was "inspired by their courage and the stories of their loved ones back home." 

As the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine grows closer, the two leaders "agreed on the importance of UN partners once again demonstrating their solidarity with Ukraine," Downing Street added in the readout. 

Top Ukrainian officials, including the country's defense minister, have floated the possibility of Russia attempting to mark the anniversary on Feb. 24 with a renewed offensive

Speaking through a French interpreter on French television BFM Wednesday, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov outlined Ukraine's belief that Russia "will attempt something around February."

Denis Lapin in Kyiv contributed reporting to this post.

12:15 p.m. ET, February 4, 2023

Nearly half a million people in Odesa have power out after "serious accident," regional official says 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

A "significant accident" has resulted in widespread power outages for the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, where infrastructure has been battered by Russian strikes, according to Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. 

"A technological accident happened in Odesa today at one of the high-voltage substations that were repeatedly damaged after previous Russian attack," Shmyhal said in a Facebook post

Almost 500,000 people were cut out of electricity supply after the "serious accident," according to a local official. Maksym Marchenko, head of the Odesa region military administration, said on his official Telegram channel that "all services and facilities are involved."

"The damages are complex and very severe, so it is too early to give any qualitative forecasts on the completion of repairs,” Marchenko said, adding that heat, sewage, and water supply are running normally.

Generators will be delivered to the Odesa region within 24 hours, according to Marchenko. The government will also transport a gas turbine power plant donated by the United States to the city. 

In light of the situation, Ukraine's government convened Saturday for an emergency meeting and decided to form 24-hour government headquarters focused on safeguarding the country's energy supply, according to Shmyhal. 

Shmyhal stressed that the government's "main task" now is to "revive critical infrastructure and multi-apartment buildings" in Odesa, adding that the heating of these buildings depends on electricity supply. 

The Ukrainian energy minister and the head of the utility company Ukrenergo have both headed to the city to help restore energy infrastructure, Shmyhal added. 

Stations offering emergency shelter will remain open 24 hours a day to assist those impacted in Odesa, the prime minister said. 

Remember: This is not the first time Odesa has been hit by emergency power outages. As recently as Jan. 26, emergency shutdowns were introduced in the city after Russian forces continued their patten of striking energy facilities. 

CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Denis Lapin contributed to this report 

2:28 p.m. ET, February 4, 2023

Russia slams EU-Ukraine summit where countries pledged new round of sanctions

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova and Sugam Pokharel

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen attend a European Union summit meeting on February 3.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen attend a European Union summit meeting on February 3. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

Russia criticized the European Union for participating in a summit with Ukraine in Kyiv on Friday, where members pledged a new round of sanctions against the Kremlin.

The bloc's support for Ukraine only serves the “hegemonic aspirations” of the US and NATO, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Saturday, when asked for Moscow's response to the summit. Zakharova said attendees are seeking to weaken Russia.

EU leaders at the event in Kyiv announced a new round of sanctions against Russia, and also discussed Ukraine's bid for EU membership. It was the first such summit to take place in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade the country.

Zakharova blamed the bloc for “promising” EU membership and violating its own standard requirements for European candidacy.

What participants said about the summit: European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen said that the bloc's 10th round of sanctions will target Russian trade and technology sectors fueling the war in Ukraine.

The EU also pledged an additional $27 million to support Ukraine's de-mining of liberated territories that were temporarily occupied by Russian forces. The EU's top diplomat said the alliance's priority was "protecting civilians and their livelihood."

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is eyeing a fast-tracked admission into the EU, the process is complicated and lengthy, and it is likely to take years if Ukraine is ultimately admitted.

9:59 a.m. ET, February 4, 2023

Ukrainian tank crews "quick to master" the Challenger 2 in training, UK defense ministry says

Ukrainian tank crews train in the UK.
Ukrainian tank crews train in the UK. (UK Ministry of Defence)

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence shared images of Ukrainian crews training on the UK's Challenger 2 tanks, writing that the trainees were learning to use the combat vehicles quickly.

"Tank crews from the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been quick to master the controls of the mighty Challenger 2 this week," the defense ministry wrote in a tweet Saturday.

The UK has committed to sending 14 of the tanks to aid Kyiv's forces, and the Ukrainian tank crews arrived for training last weekend.

See the tweet:

8:33 a.m. ET, February 4, 2023

"Large exchange of prisoners" occurs between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian official says

From Svitlana Vlasova in Kyiv, Josh Pennington and CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Russia has returned 116 prisoners of war to Ukraine as part of the latest prisoner exchange between the two countries, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak posted on Telegram Saturday to announce that "another large exchange of prisoners" had taken place. 

This follows reports from Russia state media earlier Saturday that Ukraine had returned 63 Russian POWs after a "difficult negotiation process."

"We managed to return 116 of our men, defenders of Mariupol, Kherson partisans, snipers from the Bakhmut sector and other heroes," Yermak said in the Telegram post. 

Ukraine also secured the "return the bodies of foreign volunteers" Christopher Parry and Andrew Bagshaw, according to Yermak. 

Parry and Bagshaw, both British nationals, were killed a during a humanitarian mission in Soledar in eastern Ukraine, according to a statement from the Parry family on Jan. 24.

Yermak said that Ukraine also recovered the body of Yevhen Kulyk, a Ukrainian volunteer soldier "who served in the French Foreign Legion and returned to defend Ukraine" after the Russian invasion began.  

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, citing the Russian Defense Ministry, reported Saturday that the 63 "released Russian servicemen includes persons of a ‘sensitive category’ whose exchange was facilitated by the mediation efforts of the United Arab Emirates leadership."

The soldiers are back on Russian territory and are "being provided with all necessary psychological and medical assistance" and the chance to contact relatives, RIA Novosti added. 

Some background: On Jan. 8, 100 soldiers were returned to their respective home countries as a part of a prisoner exchange carried out by Russia and Ukraine. At the time, Yermak promised that it would not be "the last exchange," outlining Ukraine's commitment to returning "all our people."

Uliana Pavlova and Denis Lapin contributed reporting to this post.

9:19 a.m. ET, February 4, 2023

France and Italy plan to deliver long-range anti-missile system to Ukraine this spring

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris

Defense ministers from France and Italy have concluded talks on sending the SAMP/T-MAMBA air defense system to Ukraine this spring, the French Ministry of Armed Forces said in a statement late Friday. 

“It is the best long-range European anti-missile system, designed by France and Italy,” the statement said. 

The new system can target drones, missiles and fighter jets, according to the statement. 

“Supplying this system meet(s) the urgency expressed by the Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov to his French and Italian counterparts,” according to the statement. 

The system will be further reinforced by the Thales GM200 radar system, purchased earlier this month by Ukraine with the help of France, the statement added.