By Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes and Leinz Vales, CNN
Updated 12:58 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023
3:05 p.m. ET, February 6, 2023
UN chief's somber warning: Prospects for peace in Ukraine are diminishing as world faces a wider war
From CNN's Jorge Engels in London
United Nations head António Guterres on Monday struck a somber tone as he warned leaders convened in New York at the organization’s General Assembly that the world is knowingly marching into a “wider war."
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people with profound global implications. The prospects for peace keep diminishing,” he said. "The chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing. I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it's doing so with its eyes wide open."
12:34 p.m. ET, February 6, 2023
Drone explodes in Russia's Kaluga region, governor says
From CNN's Tim Lister, Radina Gigova and Anna Chernova
A drone exploded early Monday in the Russian city of Kaluga, Vladislav Shapsha, the governor of the region, said in a post on his official Telegram channel.
"Tonight, residents on the outskirts of Kaluga heard a pop [popping sound]. It was established that at 5 a.m. in a forest near the city, a drone exploded in the air at a height of 50 meters," Shapsha said.
The governor didn't provide any additional details about the drone or its suspected origin.
The city of Kaluga is about 200 kilometers (or about 124 miles) southwest from Moscow.
"There was no damage to civilian and social facilities. There were no casualties. Representatives of law enforcement agencies are working on the ground," he said.
8:23 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
Bakhmut's natural defenses make it an "unwinnable fortress," Ukrainian commander says
From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv
The landscape around the Ukrainian eastern city of Bakhmut provides natural defenses that make it an “unwinnable fortress,” the commander of Ukraine’s land forces said on Monday.
“This particular terrain has topographic features. The city is surrounded by dominating heights and hills which itself is an entanglement for the enemy,” Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said via Telegram.
The military’s “obstacle system along with natural landscape have turned this area into unwinnable fortress where thousands of enemies died,” Syrskyi said. “We are using all options, engineer capacities as well as natural ones in order to destroy the best enemy units. The battle is ongoing.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday “no one will surrender Bakhmut – we will fight as long as we can.”
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the leader of Russia’s Wagner private military company, said on Sunday that the battle in Bakhmut is ongoing with no signs of Ukraine’s armed forces retreating: “AFU fight to the last,” he said on Telegram, referring to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
More on Bakhmut: CNN reported in January that the US and Western officials were urging Ukraine to shift its focus from the brutal, months-long fight in the eastern city of Bakhmut and prioritize instead a potential offensive in the south, using a different style of fighting that takes advantage of the billions of dollars in new military hardware recently committed by Western allies.
CNN's Katharina Krebs and Uliana Pavlova contributed to this post.
7:46 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
EU official says there is an "open invitation" for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Brussels
From CNN's James Frater in London
A European Union official has underlined that “there is an open invitation to President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Brussels,” but would not comment on whether he will be present at a meeting of European leaders in the Belgian capital this week.
Zelensky was asked whether he would travel to Brussels to address EU leaders during a news conference last Friday in Kyiv with Charles Michel, President of the European Council and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
“There is significant risk and Charles knows about this. We’ve discussed about this many times,” said Zelensky.
“I really want to travel,” he said, but “there are big risks about me traveling abroad.”
Last December, Zelensky traveled to the US to meet with US President Joe Biden and addressed the US Congress.
The Ukrainian president could now travel to address EU leaders at an extraordinary two-day summit scheduled for February 9-10.
Ukraine has officially applied to join the EU and Ukraine was granted EU candidate status in June 2022.
In an interview published January 30, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told Politico that Ukraine has an "ambitious plan" to join the European Union within the next two years.
7:21 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
Around 300,000 people still without power in Odesa after "technological accident"
From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv
Around 300,000 people in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa remain without power after a “technological accident” an electricity substation on Saturday, according to the region's military administration.
“The repair works at one of the substations are ongoing, the situation remains complicated," it said Monday.
Nearly 500,000 people were cut off following a "serious accident" on Saturday said Maksym Marchenko, head of Odesa region military administration.
“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,” said Marchenko.
9:22 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
Kremlin says Russia is developing its own drone program following reporting on joint project with Iran
From CNN's Anna Chernova
Russia has its own programs to produce drones, the Kremlin said Monday, after the Wall Street Journal reported details of an alleged joint project with Iran.
According to officials quoted by the Journal, Moscow and Tehran have agreed to build a factory in Russia that could make at least 6,000 Iranian-designed drones for use in the war in Ukraine. The two countries are aiming to build a faster drone that could pose new challenges for Ukrainian air defenses, according to the Journal.
CNN is not able to independently verify those claims.
“Russia has a number of its own programs to create unmanned aerial vehicles for a variety of purposes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a regular call with reporters.
“These programs are being implemented, and a list of instructions was recently adopted by the President [Putin] for the development of the field of unmanned aerial vehicles,” he added, referring to a decree published in late December outlining Russia’s strategy for the development of a drone program.
In the decree, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to establish a commission to oversee the development of drones, the necessary infrastructure and the training of required personnel.
More on drones: Russia's use of drones has played a significant role in the conflict since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Iranian government has acknowledged that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine.
Last November, the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research examined several drones that had been downed in Ukraine and found that 82% of their components were manufactured by companies based in the US.
6:30 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
Rumors of shake up at Ukrainian defense ministry come amid corruption investigations
From CNN's Mick Krever in London
The uncertainty over Oleksii Reznikov’s tenure as Ukrainian Defense Minister comes against the backdrop of corruption investigations involving the ministry.
In total, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is evaluating procurement contracts totaling more than 13 billion Ukrainian hryvnia ($347 million).
The current uproar over Defense Ministry procurement began last month when Ukrainian media outlet “zn.ua" reported that the Defense Ministry was buying food at two to three times the retail price.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau said it was aware of “possible abuses," but Reznikov said that there was “no factual component to the claims.”
Whoever leaked the information to the media was trying “to undermine confidence in the Ministry of Defense at a highly sensitive time," he added.
On January 24, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Viacheslav Shapovalov resigned amid allegations linked to food procurement, but other accusations have also surfaced.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said last week that it had charged the Ministry of Defense’s former head for procurement with embezzlement over the purchase of thousands of substandard protective vests.
And last week Ukraine’s national police accused the heads of two companies working with the Defense Ministry of misappropriating nearly 120 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($3.23 million) from food contracts signed with the government.
For his part, Reznikov has spoken extensively about problems with the procurement process at the ministry and revealed that he had requested an audit soon after he took up his post in November 2021.
“The audit showed that the procurement and control systems need changes,” he said. Since then, the ministry has stepped up efforts to improve transparency, added Reznikov.
5:20 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
No change in Ukraine defense minister expected this week, says parliamentary leader
From CNN's Masha Kostenko and Mick Krever
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is not expected to be replaced this week, according to the leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s parliamentary faction.
David Arakhamia appears to be tempering remarks he made on Sunday, when he announced that Reznikov would be moved to the Ministry of Strategic Industries, and that the current head of defense intelligence, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, would head up the Ministry of Defense.
“No personnel changes in the defense are expected this week,” Arakhamia said in a Telegram post Monday.
On Sunday, Reznikov told Ukrainian news outlet Fakty ICTV that the idea that he was being moved between ministries was “news to me,” but that he served at the pleasure of the president.
Rumors about Reznikov’s position have amplified in recent weeks, as probes into procurement decisions at the defense ministry continue.
8:43 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023
Ukraine's defense minister responds to reports he is being replaced
From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Jonny Hallam
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was asked to comment on rumors that he could be replaced.
"No official stays in office forever. Not a single one. So one should be ready at any time for this stage to end," Reznikov told reporters in Kyiv on Sunday.
"The decision whether I will be or won't be the Minister of Defense is made by one person - the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky," Reznikov said.
"Therefore, I will make certain decisions only upon the decision of the President of Ukraine. And then, again, I will do what the President of Ukraine offers me, I will do everything for our victory." he added.
The formal process to replace Ukraine's defense minister requires that Zelensky first ask parliament to remove the minister. Ukrainian lawmakers then hold a vote on the proposal. Afterwards Zelensky will then propose a new defense minister which the lawmakers also need to vote to approve. This could happen in the coming days.
On Wednesday last week, officials from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said they had charged the Ministry of Defense’s former head for procurement with embezzlement over the purchase of thousands of substandard protective vests.
The official spent the equivalent of $2.7 million on almost 3,000 "bulletproof vests" for the Ukrainian armed forces which were later found to be unable to “properly protect Ukrainian soldiers.”
The SBU said that the official was charged with “misappropriation, embezzlement or seizure of property through abuse of office,” obstruction of the armed forces, and “committing a criminal offense by a group of persons.”
The SBU said that the individual faced five to eight years in prison and had recalled the sub-standard body armor.
“In addition, the SBU is conducting investigative actions against other officials in the security and defense sector who may be involved in illegal activities that harm state security. This is a set of measures aimed at strengthening the defense capabilities of our state," the SBU said at the time.
The charges come after Zelensky fired a slew of senior Ukrainian officials since late January amid a growing corruption scandal linked to the procurement of war-time supplies, in the biggest shakeup of his government since Russia’s invasion began.
CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Mick Krever and Jack Guy contributed reporting.