February 9, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:12 a.m. ET, February 10, 2023
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10:11 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

Estonian prime minister proposes EU procurement of weapons for Ukraine

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has proposed a system similar to that of EU’s vaccine procurement, to its purchase of weapons supplies for Ukraine. 

Speaking ahead of a special European Council meeting in Brussels, Kallas said the move would speed up deliveries to Ukraine. 

“All of us have looked into the warehouses and seen what we have but we should do more. We should give a clear signal to the European defense industry to produce more,” Kallas told journalists.

“We could use a similar mechanism like we did with the Covid vaccines. European countries will provide funds, the European Commission will procure, and then it’ll be sent directly to Ukraine.” 

“The price goes up with every delay, with every hesitation and that could speed up the process,” she added. 

10:13 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

SpaceX blocks Ukrainian troops from using satellite technology for drones

 From CNN's Alex Marquardt and Kristin Fisher

A member of the 80th Separate Air Assault Brigade disconnects their Starlink on the front line in Kreminna, Ukraine, on January 6.
A member of the 80th Separate Air Assault Brigade disconnects their Starlink on the front line in Kreminna, Ukraine, on January 6. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

The president of SpaceX revealed the company has taken active steps to prevent Ukrainian forces from using the critical Starlink satellite technology with Ukrainian drones that are a key component of their fight against Russia.

“There are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that,” Gwynne Shotwell told reporters on Wednesday, referencing reports on Starlink and drone use. “There are things that we can do, and have done.”

Starlink was never meant to be used militarily in the way that it has, Shotwell argued, saying the company didn’t foresee how profoundly – and creatively – Ukrainian forces would rely on the technology.

“It was never intended to be weaponized,” Shotwell told an audience at a space conference. “However, Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement.”

Shotwell’s admission that SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, has prevented Ukrainian soldiers from fully using the technology confirms the long-standing belief that Musk and the company are uneasy with Ukraine’s military use of Starlink.

Speaking with reporters after, Shotwell argued that Starlink had sent units to Ukraine to “keep the banks going, hospitals, keep families connected.”

“We know the military is using them for comms, and that’s OK,” Shotwell added. “But our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes.”

Read the full article here.

9:51 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

Zelensky thanks EU citizens for providing refuge to Ukrainians

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a news conference during the European leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, on February 9.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a news conference during the European leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, on February 9. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday he is grateful for all the support his country has received so far from the European Union, but said he is particularly thankful to the citizens of the EU for providing shelter to Ukrainian citizens.

"I want to thank all of you, I want to thank the citizens of the European Union for all your support. For the way you support our people, for giving us the refuge and the shelter for the Ukrainian citizens who are trying to protect their children from the bombs," Zelensky said during a news conference in Brussels after an EU Council meeting. 

"Millions of our citizens are now supported in Europe and I hope your citizens can see that the European values are real. Thank you very much for this, thank you for everything, friends," he said. 

"That's the only way I can address you: friends," he added. 

9:28 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

Russia's Medvedev announces tank production boost

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Anna Chernova

Former Russian President and Deputy Chair of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said Russia will increase production of main battle tanks in response to supplies of the advanced armored vehicles to Ukraine. 

“Yesterday, our enemy begged for planes, missiles and tanks while abroad. What should we do in response? It is clear that in this case, it is natural for us to increase the production of various types of weapons and military equipment, including modern tanks,” Medvedev said Thursday. 

“We are talking about the production and modernization of thousands of tanks,” he added. “This task has been set, it follows from the state defense order, it follows from the decisions that are made by the president of the country.”

Russia’s ability to renew its dwindling stocks of some types of military equipment has been called into question by some experts, citing the impact Western sanctions have had on Moscow’s arms industry’s ability to procure certain components. 

9:27 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall in talks with Kyiv about Panther battle tank supply, CEO says

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall AG is in negotiations with Ukraine, with the view of exporting its state-of-the-art Panther battle tank to Kyiv, CEO Armin Papperger said in an interview Thursday. 

“We are talking to Kyiv about exporting the Panther,” Pappberger told German business daily Handelsblatt, adding that Ukraine is also interested in the Lynx, Rheinmetall's most modern infantry fighting vehicle. 

Pappberger said deliveries of the Panther to Ukraine are feasible within “15 to 18 months,” adding that the tanks could be built in either Germany or Hungary. 

Rheinmetall is also the maker of the Leopard battle tank, which European countries have recently agreed to send to Ukraine, with the first units expected to arrive in the spring. As with the Leopard, the provision of the Panther and the Lynx to Kyiv would have to be approved by the German government. 

Pappberger's remarks come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed European Union leaders in Brussels Thursday, reiterating his country's need for modern tanks to protect its security, adding that Ukraine's security is also Europe's security. 

More on the Panther battle tank: The Dusseldorf-based company introduced the Panther at a trade fair in Paris last summer, touting it as the strongest battle tank in the world. According to Rheinmetall, the Panther is still under development, but is eventually meant to replace its Leopard 2 battle tank and is “destined to be a game changer on the battlefields of the future.”

“Ukraine has to stand its ground in this war — and once it’s over, the country needs security,” Papperger said in the interview. “That's why we are prepared to set up a plant for the production of the Panther in Ukraine as well.
8:44 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

Iran appears to be modifying drones for Russia to inflict maximum damage on targets in Ukraine, report finds

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

Ukrainian firefighters works on a destroyed building after a drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17.
Ukrainian firefighters works on a destroyed building after a drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran appears to be modifying the attack drones that it’s providing to Russia so that the explosive warheads can inflict maximum damage on infrastructure targets inside Ukraine, according to a new investigative report obtained exclusively by CNN.

An unexploded warhead from an Iranian Shahed-131 drone found in the Southern Ukrainian region of Odesa in October 2022 was examined last month by the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research, along with the Ukrainian military. CAR provided its findings first to CNN.

The group’s analysts believe the warheads, which measure just under two-feet long, were hastily modified with poorly fitted layers of dozens of small metal fragments that on impact scatter across a large radius. In addition to the fragments, there are also 18 smaller “charges” around the circumference of the warhead that, when melted by the blast, can pierce armor and create a kind of “360-degree” explosive effect.

The accumulation of those elements essentially maximize the warhead’s ability to shred targets such as power stations, distribution grids, transmission lines and large, high-power transformers. They also make repair efforts substantially harder.

“It’s as though they looked at the finished warhead and said, ‘How can we make this even more destructive?’” said Damien Spleeters, one of the investigators who examined the warhead.

Warheads targeting battlefield assets such as tanks or artillery pieces might be designed differently, Spleeters explained, with a frontal shaped charge that is used for more concentrated targets. The warhead examined by CAR, though, has a radial shaped charge effect, which can result in a larger area of impact.

Some background: Iran has given Russia hundreds of drones to use in its war in Ukraine, many of which have targeted Ukraine’s power grid and energy facilities, leaving civilians without heat, electricity or running water during the freezing winter months. Last month, the Institute for the Study of War found that Russian forces had become increasingly reliant on the drones – so much so that their stockpile of the drones is already running low, just months after Iran began sending them.

12:56 p.m. ET, February 9, 2023

Zelensky: Ukraine needs modern tanks, long-range missiles and modern fighter jets

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Volodymyr Zelensky during an extraordinary European Union leaders summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on February 9.
Volodymyr Zelensky during an extraordinary European Union leaders summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on February 9. (Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday his country needs modern tanks, long-range missiles and modern fighter jets to protect its security, adding that Ukraine's security is also Europe's security. 

"We need artillery guns, ammunitions, modern tanks, the long-range missiles and modern fighter jets," Zelensky said during a speech at the European Council. "We have to enhance the dynamic of our cooperation" and act "faster than the aggressor." 

In the past "horrific" year, Zelensky said Europe made strong strong decisions despite doubts and discussions.

"This security cooperation has created a historic example for any aggressor," Zelensky said. "Our brave soldiers are fighting against the terror of Russia with your support."

Zelensky also said he'll have several bilateral meetings in Brussels to discuss the issue of providing fighter jets to Ukraine. 

"I'll have a number of bilaterals now and we are doing to raise the issue of the fighter jets and other aircraft," he said during a news conference, following a European Council meeting earlier Thursday. 

Zelensky said that the discussions he has had so far in the Belgian capital have been "quite concrete."

"I am very inspired by your statements that Europe will be with us until our victory. I have heard it from a number of European leaders and I am very grateful to them for this," Zelensky said.

He added that during Thursday's meetings, "we were talking about security, we were talking about saving lives and stability, we were talking about the return of justice."

More on military support to Ukraine: On Wednesday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a news conference that the first battalion of Leopard 2 tanks delivered by Western allies could reach Ukraine by March or April of this year.

8:04 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made an emotional appeal for his country to become a member of the European Union during a visit to Brussels, emphasizing the shared values between Kyiv and the bloc.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin says that deliveries of Western fighter jets to Kyiv would only make the war more "painful" for Ukraine.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Zelensky pushes for EU membership: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed the EU Parliament during a trip to Brussels, and underlined his desire for Ukraine to join the European Union. "This is our Europe, these are our rules, this is our way of life. And for Ukraine, it's a way home, a way to its home," Zelensky said.
  • EU official reiterates support for Ukraine: "We have your back," European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told Zelensky. "Ukraine is Europe and your nation's future is in the European Union," said Metsola. "We will be with you for as long as it takes," she said. 
  • UK fighter jets would make war more "painful" for Ukraine: Possible UK deliveries of fighter jets to Ukraine will not change the outcome of the war, but will only “escalate and prolong it and will make it more painful” for Ukraine, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Discussions around deliveries of fighter jets show the “growing involvement of the UK, Germany, and France in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine," said Peskov.
  • Washington showing "hostile attitude" to Moscow: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has accused Washington of having a “hostile attitude” towards Russia. The US perceives Moscow as an “adversary” and provokes further escalation, Peskov added, referring to US President Joe Biden’s address State of the Union address, in which he spoke of a need to confront Russia and support Ukraine.
  • Russian attacks intensify in Luhansk: Russian forces have stepped up attacks near Kupyansk and Lyman in the Luhansk region over the past week, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
  • No "red line" over fighter jets, says Portuguese PM: Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said his country did not have a "red line" when it came to providing fighter jets to Ukraine, but said his country would not be able to relinquish any of its own aircraft.
7:40 a.m. ET, February 9, 2023

Senior Ukrainian official hails "excellent connection" with French counterparts

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Yulia Kesaieva

There is an "excellent connection" between Ukrainian and French officials, who are working towards a shared goal of defeating Russia, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted that the pair had held discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron's political adviser Emmanuel Bonn and diplomatic adviser Isabelle Dumont.

“There's an excellent connection between our teams, and we've got a common goal – to defeat RF [Russian Federation]," said Yermak. 

Zelensky met with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris on Wednesday.