February 7, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Mike Hayes, Tori B. Powell and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:52 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
9 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:53 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

It's "only a matter of time" before Ukraine gets US fighter jets, official says

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen and Tim Lister in Kyiv, and Mick Krever in London

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, speaks during a news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 7.
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, speaks during a news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 7. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Ukraine’s top national security official told CNN that he is confident Ukraine will eventually receive American-made F-16 fighter jets.

It’s only a matter of time before we get F-16s,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told CNN in Kyiv on Monday. “They will definitely come. Unfortunately, in the meantime we’re losing our people while fighting for our independence.”

The F-16, first developed in the 1970s, is a highly maneuverable fighter jet, capable of carrying six air-to-air or air-to-surface missiles under its wings.

F-16s would give Ukraine the capability, should it overcome air defenses, to strike Russia with an American-made weapon far behind the frontlines, even outside of territory considered internationally to be Ukrainian.

There have been pledges from the West for main battle tanks to Ukraine in recent days, which has led to renewed calls from Kyiv for fighter jets. Publicly, however, Western leaders have eschewed discussion of fighter jets going to Ukraine.

In an interview with CNN last month, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov: “I sent a wish list card to Santa Claus last year, and fighter jets also [were] including in this wish list.”

1:25 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

NATO forces put tanks through their paces, as Ukraine pins its hopes on Western-supplied armor

From CNN's Nic Robertson and Joseph Ataman in Tapa, Estonia

Leopard 2A4 tanks take part in training near Tata, Hungary on Monday.
Leopard 2A4 tanks take part in training near Tata, Hungary on Monday. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

In the distance there are gunshots, a heavy blanket of snow muffling the sound, confusing the senses — how far away and which direction, impossible to know.

Inside their German-made Leopard 2 tanks, Danish soldiers wait to pounce on their prey, an “enemy” force hiding in a warren of trenches deep in the freezing Estonian forest.

Before they leap into action in this NATO military exercise, just 100 miles from the Russian border, French and Estonian infantry open up a ferocious fusillade of fake gunfire, duking it out for control of the trenches in almost hand-to-hand fighting.

Troops fall to the ground amid thunderous simulated artillery explosions, as exercise officials bellow who is dead, who is injured.

The annual NATO winter military exercise is intended to gel the multinational soldiers — this year comprising Estonian, French, British, Danish and US troops — into a singular fighting force able to take enemy territory even in the bone-chilling cold.

Amid the trees, the message for Russian President Vladimir Putin is clear: NATO’s high-tech forces are ready for action. There are lessons here for the Ukrainians, too, whose training on Leopard 2 tanks began Monday in Germany.

Read the full story:

3:11 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

This 102-year-old Ukrainian survived Stalin's forced famine. Now she is making camouflage sniper suits

From CNN's Sarah Dean and Sam Kiley in Khodorkiv, Ukraine

Liubov Yarosh has survived three man-made famines and World War II, she continues to fight for her country: Ukraine.
Liubov Yarosh has survived three man-made famines and World War II, she continues to fight for her country: Ukraine. (Sarah Dean/CNN)

Traditional Ukrainian tapestries, family photos and pastoral scenes on cheap posters cover the walls of her cottage warmed by a wood-burning stove. The only record of her tragic past are her birth certificate and her memories.

In her 102 years, Liubov Yarosh has survived three famines, including the 1932-33 “Holodomor” when — under Joseph Stalin’s orders — Ukraine’s farmers were stripped of every grain they produced, to feed Moscow’s industrialization and suppress Ukrainian nationalist resistance.

“There was nothing to eat then. We ate linden leaves… and nettles. We used to grind these wild plants into flour, bake with it, and eat it. That’s what we ate during the famine,” Yarosh tells CNN from her home in the village of Khodorkiv, in the Zhytomyr region, around two hours’ drive west of Kyiv.

At 13 she saw her older brother and sister perish in what was Ukraine’s worst mass starvation. “I was completely swollen. My legs were swollen, my arms were swollen. I was so sick. I thought I was going to die,” she says of her own suffering.

Back then the Kremlin sought to rid Ukraine of independent farmers, of its language, its history, its artists and its independence.

Many believe what Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to do now has startling similarities.

Read the full story here.

7:45 p.m. ET, February 6, 2023

Ukrainian official claims Russia plans to mobilize up to half a million extra soldiers

From CNN's Tim Lister and Maria Kostenko

Ukraine expects Russia to mobilize up to half a million additional soldiers in the coming months, according to a senior intelligence official.

Vadym Skibitskyi, deputy head of Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, asserted in an interview that "Russia is going to mobilize 300,000 to 500,000 people in order to carry out offensive operations in the south and east of Ukraine in spring and summer of 2023."

"Those 500,000 are in addition to the 300,000 mobilized in October 2022," Skibitskyi said. "This proves that Putin’s Kremlin has no intention of ending this war. The Russian offensive may happen in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and possibly in Zaporizhzhia region. Russian troops will go on the defensive in Kherson region and in Crimea. This new mobilization wave will last up to two months." 

Russian officials have consistently denied that another mobilization is planned. But at a conference in December of Russia's military chiefs, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed strengthneing the armed forces by up to 1.5 million combat personnel from the current 1.15 million over a period of three years.

This was required "to guarantee the solving of problems related to Russia's military security", Shoigu said.

Skibytskyi also said that at the beginning of 2022, Defense Intelligence was aware that a "full-scale invasion was to begin in early February or a bit later ... In January we saw troops from Russia's Eastern Military District begin arriving in Belarus," as well as preparations in Crimea, he said.

7:43 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

UN Secretary General António Guterres attends a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria during the 58th plenary meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
UN Secretary General António Guterres attends a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria during the 58th plenary meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

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."
7:43 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 of 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. 

7:42 p.m. ET, February 6, 2023

Bakhmut's natural defenses make it an "unwinnable fortress," Ukrainian commander says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Smoke billows over Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk region on January 25.
Smoke billows over Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk region on January 25. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

The landscape around the eastern Ukrainian 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 US and Western officials were urging Ukraine to shift its focus from the brutal, months-long fight in 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.

7:35 p.m. ET, February 6, 2023

Diesel prices fall in Europe despite ban on Russian fuel

From CNN's Anna Cooban in London

Europe’s ban on Russia’s diesel arrived painlessly on Sunday.

Although the EU cut off its biggest supplier, diesel futures prices in the bloc fell 1.6% on Monday, amounting to a 20% loss over the past two weeks as demand in the region has waned, and efforts by countries to stockpile ahead of the ban have started to pay off.

The price drop will be met with relief by millions of the continent’s truckers, drivers and businesses that rely on diesel. About 96% of trucks, 91% of vans and 42% of passenger cars in the European Union run on the fuel, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

“The expectation was that, when the ban came in, diesel supply into Europe would tighten but, actually, that’s currently not materializing,” Mark Williams, a research director at consultancy Wood Mackenzie, told CNN.

The diesel ban comes two months after the bloc placed an embargo on seaborne crude oil imports from Russia, as part of a package of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Russia accounted for 29% of the region’s total diesel imports last year, data from Rystad Energy shows.

Countries have prepared for the latest ban by ramping up imports of Moscow’s diesel in recent months. Europe’s imports were up nearly 19% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared with the same period the previous year, according to energy data provider Vortexa.

“Those stocks should act as a buffer against the immediate loss of Russian diesel imports,” Williams said.

Read the full story here.

7:37 p.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, Maj. Gen. 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.