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
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2:58 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Leopard 2 tanks will be ready for Ukraine at the end of March, German army says

From CNN's Inke Kappeler

Leopard 2 battle tanks from Germany will be ready for Ukraine to use at the end of March, the German army said in a tweet Tuesday. 

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius visited Kyiv Tuesday, where he met with soldiers who will soon go to Germany to train on Leopard 2 tanks.

He said he was "deeply impressed" by the "determination" and "solemn faces" of the Ukrainian soldiers.

3:26 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Germany, Denmark and Netherlands will send more than 100 tanks to Ukraine by spring 2024, official says

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler in Berlin 

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius attends a meeting in Kyiv on February 7.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius attends a meeting in Kyiv on February 7. (Press Service of the Defence Ministry of Ukraine/Reuters)

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands will send more than 100 Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine by spring 2024, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced during an unannounced visit to Kyiv Tuesday. 

A contingent of 20 to 25 Leopard 1 tanks will arrive in Ukraine by this summer, and up to an additional 80 by early next year, Pistorius told reporters during a joint press meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov. 

The Leopard 1 had been in service since the 1960s until it was phased out in 2003. 

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands will be providing “refurbished” Leopard 1 from their “industrial stocks” and the three countries will also provide required logistic support and training to operate the vehicles, the German defense ministry said in a news release. 

The German government on Tuesday approved up to 178 export licenses for Leopard 1 tanks for Ukraine, according to the news release. 

Pistorius speaking at the news conference also announced imminent weapons deliveries to Ukraine. 

He said that by the end of the month, there will be more missiles, five additional Gepard tanks, and another five armored engineer vehicles. 

Training on Leopard 2 battle tanks will soon begin in Germany, Pistorius said, adding that he was “deeply impressed” by the Ukrainian trainee soldiers' “solemn faces” and “determination.” 

Ukraine’s Reznikov said he discussed the need for fighter jets with his German counterpart.  

“It could be different platforms” and Ukraine’s partners will decide the best platform to discuss the request, Reznikov said. 

Before deciding on fighter jets, the “first priority” for Ukraine's allies was to “deploy their Leopards" and “guarantee the training," Pistorius said. 

10:24 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Ukraine gets new Security Service chief and Interior Minister

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Newly appointed Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko looks on during a session of Ukrainian parliament, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 7.
Newly appointed Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko looks on during a session of Ukrainian parliament, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 7. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

Ukraine’s parliament has approved the appointment of a new Interior Minister and head of the Security Service.

The new Interior Minister is Ihor Klymenko, formerly the National Police Chief. He had been serving as acting minister after Denis Monastyrsky, the former Interior Minister, was killed last month in a helicopter crash in the outskirts of Kyiv.

Vasyl Maliuk is the new head of the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). He had been serving as acting SBU chief since last July, when President Volodymyr Zelensky suspended the previous SBU chief, Ivan Bakanov, over the presence of Russian collaborators in the SBU. Bakanov was not personally accused of wrongdoing. While he touted the SBU’s successes in countering Russia’s invasion, he admitted “there were also failures.” 

Zelensky on Tuesday praised Maliuk for his work protecting Ukraine so far during the Russian invasion. 

"I believe that such appointments correspond to the meaning and tasks of this stage of the war. Vasyl Maliuk is a combat officer who, from the first minutes of the full-scale invasion, stood up for the defense of the state of Ukraine and performs his work with absolute dedication and professionalism. During the actual management of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasyl Maliuk proved that the SBU can be the way the people of Ukraine want to see it," Zelensky said, speaking to the Ukrainian parliament.

Zelensky added that the SBU carries out "successful and often truly unique special operations" and some of these operations "changed the picture of the war in favor of Ukraine." Zelensky said "heavy blows" were inflicted on the "internal enemy" and this is reflected in the decisions of the National Security Council.

Parliament also extended martial law in the country, as it has regularly done since Russia’s invasion nearly one year ago.

7:34 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Ukraine has removed millions of books from libraries in "de-Russification" effort

From CNN's Mick Krever in London and Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Ukraine has removed millions of books from public libraries in its ongoing effort at “de-Russification,” according to Ukraine’s parliament.

“There were guidelines to withdraw books of authors who supported armed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” said Yevheniya Kravchuk, a Ukrainian MP who is deputy head of the Parliamentary Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy.

“There is a list of such authors who were sanctioned. Overall, the proportion of books in Ukrainian and in Russian in libraries is quite regrettable. Which is why we are now talking about the need to renew the collections and purchase books in Ukrainian as soon as possible,” she added.

As of November last year, 19 million books had been removed from public libraries following an initiative from the Ministry of Culture to withdraw “certain types of books.”

The parliament said that 44% of books in public libraries are still in Russian, with the rest in Ukrainian and other languages.

12:04 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Ukrainian defense minister thanks Germany for soon-to-be-delivered Leopard 2 tanks

Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov on Tuesday thanked German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius for Berlin's pledge to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

A tweet from Reznikov included an image of the pair posing with a miniature model of the Leopard 2, a German-made battle tank that several countries have announced they will to send to Ukraine in the coming weeks.

"There will be more of them," Reznikov said. "The tank coalition is marching... to victory!"

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the first Leopard 2 tanks have been delivered to Ukraine. It’s unclear when the tanks will arrive.

9:07 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Russia says Western supplies of heavy weapons to Ukraine prolonging conflict and drawing NATO into it 

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Anna Chernova

Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Kherson region, Ukraine, on January 9.
Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Kherson region, Ukraine, on January 9. (Libkos/AP)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has accused the US and its allies of trying to drag out the conflict in Ukraine for as long as possible by supplying heavy weapons to Kyiv, and that such steps are drawing NATO countries into the conflict. 

The US and its allies are trying to prolong the conflict as much as possible. With this purpose, they have commenced to deliver heavy offensive armament, openly urging Ukraine to capture our territories," Shoigu said during a meeting with Russian defense officials on Tuesday. 

"Indeed, this kind of steps involve NATO countries in the conflict, and can lead to an unpredictable level of its escalation," he added. "The groups of Russian forces continue grinding all the armament and hardware, delivered to Kyiv, both at the routes of their delivery, and at the combat positions."

CNN is unable to independently verify those claims. 

Shoigu's claim comes as 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."

6:11 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Ukraine says Russia is stockpiling ammunition and troops ahead of eastern offensive

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv and Mick Krever in London

Russian forces in eastern Ukraine appear to be stockpiling ammunition and building up troop reserves ahead of an offensive that could begin in weeks, Ukraine’s top official in the Luhansk region has said.

The Russians “are bringing in ammunition, but they do not waste as much of it as they used to,” Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk region military administration, said Monday on VotTak television.

“Meaning they are saving ammunition load because they are getting ready for the full-scale offensive," he added.

Hayday said that the Russian military continues to mass mobilized troops in Ukraine. He said he believes there are tens of thousands of mobilized troops in the occupied Luhansk region, not including regular army personnel like paratroopers.

The major threat is the quantity,” he said Tuesday on Apostrophe TV. “It is a huge monster which is at war with us, and it owns immense resources – not endless, but still. There are too many of them.”

Ukrainian leaders have for some time been warning of a renewed Russian offensive, particularly in eastern and southern Ukraine. Hand-in-hand have come pleas for more advanced and powerful western weaponry. Having received pledges for dozens of western main battle tanks, Ukrainian officials have stepped-up messaging about their desire for western fighter jets.

Despite the alleged build-up of resources in eastern Ukraine, it is unclear how much Russia will be able to change the calculus of the battlefield. The UK Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it was “unlikely that Russia can build up the forces needed to substantially affect the outcome of the war within the coming weeks.”

Russia has for months been trying to capture the eastern city of Bakhmut, without success. Its only notable victory has been the capture of a small town, Soledar, just north of Bakhmut. Nonetheless, its troops have successfully continued to advance slowly to the north and south of the city, in an effort to make a continued Ukrainian presence there untenable.

The commander of Ukraine’s land forces on Monday said that the landscape around Bakhmut – particularly hills to the west of the city – provides natural defenses that make it an “un-winnable fortress.”

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 Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt and Katie Bo Lillis contributed to this post.

5:30 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Ukraine defense minister "holding the line" with uncertainty over his tenure

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov holds a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 5.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov holds a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 5. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

Ukraine’s defense minister, whose continued tenure has been questioned by the leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party in parliament, on Tuesday posted the message “holding the line” on Twitter.

“Thank you all for your support, as well as constructive criticism,” Oleksii Reznikov said. “We draw conclusions. We continue the reforms. Even during the war. We are strengthening the defense and working for victory. Glory to Ukraine!”

Reznikov's ministry has been mired in a corruption scandal related to military spending in recent weeks.

The leader of Zelensky’s parliamentary faction, David Arakhamia, announced on Sunday that Reznikov would be replaced as Defense Minister, but appeared to temper that on Monday, saying that no change is expected this week.

Some context: Ukraine is making an anti-corruption push as it tries to gain accession to the European Union.

Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau has been investigating “high-profile media reports” on allegations that the defense ministry was buying military provisions, including food for the troops, at inflated prices.

5:10 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Ukraine official hints at ability to strike Russian territory

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

Damaged buildings after missile attacks in the Shebekino town of Belgorod, Russia, on November 4.
Damaged buildings after missile attacks in the Shebekino town of Belgorod, Russia, on November 4. (Vladimir Aleksandrov/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s top national security official, Oleksiy Danilov, also hinted at his country’s ability to strike Russia on its own territory, beyond occupied Ukraine, in his interview with CNN.

Regarding Russian territory, nobody prohibits us to destroy targets with weapons produced in Ukraine. Do we have such weapons? Yes, we do,” Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said Monday.

Western nations have restricted Ukraine from striking Russian territory with Western-donated weapons. Though there have consistently been unexplained explosions at strategic sites in Russia over the course of the war, Ukraine has never publicly admitted being responsible for the strikes.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency, last month predicted attacks “deeper and deeper” inside Russia, away from the frontlines, without acknowledging any Ukrainian role.

Budanov told ABC News in January that he was “very glad to see” attacks inside Russia, but that he was unable to “give you [an] answer” until after the war about whether Ukraine has played a role in such strikes.

“Do you think there will be more?” the reporter asked Budanov. “I think so,” he replied.

"Inside Russia? Deep inside Russia?” the reporter asked. “Deeper and deeper,” he said.