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The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.
9:53 p.m.: Oleksandr Zinchenko was named captain of Premier League leaders Arsenal for their trip to Leicester on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.
The Ukrainian international replaced Martin Odegaard as the Gunners’ normal skipper at the King Power stadium and wore an armband in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
“Zinchenko will wear our captain’s armband today, as a mark of respect and love on the first anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine,” Arsenal posted on Twitter.
The 26-year-old joined Arsenal last summer from Manchester City, where he won four league titles in the past five seasons.
One of his country’s most talented players, Zinchenko has played 52 times for Ukraine.
9 p.m.: Russia on Saturday accused the West of destabilizing the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting in India by trying to force through a joint statement on Ukraine that stalled because of disagreements, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a foreign ministry statement.
Moscow accused the United States, the European Union and the G-7 nations of having “disrupted the adoption of collective decisions” by trying to impose their “diktat” by what they said was “clear blackmail.”
Their aim had been to impose their interpretation of the Ukraine conflict in the joint statement by means of lobbying and “ultimatums,” the ministry statement said.
G-20 finance ministers failed Saturday to agree a joint statement on the global economy at talks in India, after China sought to water down references to the Ukraine conflict.
8:12 p.m.: Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, the brothers who together dominated international heavyweight boxing for a decade, are much more than Ukrainian ambassadors to the world.
Vitali, 51, became mayor of Kyiv within months of Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea early in 2014.
Wladimir, 46, addressed crowds during the tumult of 2014, using his influence where possible before joining the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a reservist in the Territorial Defense Brigade shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Both men talked to RFE/RL’s Georgian Service on the sidelines of last weekend’s Munich Security Conference.
They credited Ukrainians with “growing through these battles and through our resistance,” and exposing Russian weaknesses. They also talked about being on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s purported “hit list,” life in the crosshairs of constant Russian air barrages, and cowardice in the face of an authoritarian in the Kremlin.
7:08 p.m.: Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s Land Forces and Eastern Operational Command, visited embattled Bakmut in eastern Donetsk Oblast on Saturday as Russian troops try to advance on the outskirts, the Kyiv Independent reported, citing a Land Forces post on Telegram.
In his visit to command posts in the front-line city, Syrskyi assessed the state of units fighting in the area and listened to problems and requests raised by their commanders, the report said.
Intense fighting is ongoing around Bakhmut and reaching the outskirts of the city, the brief said. Russia’s strategy of attacking Bakhmut and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast aims to delay Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Andriy Yusov, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate spokesperson, said on Feb. 15.
Ukraine continues to hold Bakhmut despite the seven-month-long Russian attempt to capture the city. About 380 clashes have been recorded in the area since the beginning of February, General Oleksiy Hromov said Thursday.
6:18 p.m.: Thousands of people protested in Berlin on Saturday to condemn Germany’s supply of arms to Ukraine and call for peace talks to end the war, The Associated Press reported.
The organizers were criticized before the protest for downplaying Ukraine’s right to defend its territory from Russian aggression and failing to distance themselves from political extremists on the far right and far left, where pro-Russia views are common.
While most placards at the protest reflected traditional left-wing positions, some participants bore banners with the slogan “Americans go home” and the logo of a far-right magazine. Some waved Russian flags.
Police said that about 13,000 people took part in the rally at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, while organizers claimed that 50,000 people participated.
There were several small counterdemonstrations. On Friday, about 10,000 people staged a protest at the same site in support of Ukraine.
5:15 p.m.: NATO has to consider Ukraine’s membership after the war with Russia ends, the Czech Republic’s president-elect, Petr Pavel, said. Speaking with Ukrainian publication Suspilne, the retired general and former senior NATO commander said that Ukraine has “done its homework” on common values, long-term interests, and technical interoperability with the alliance. He added that the Ukrainian military, which is probably “the most experienced of all,” would be a big asset. However, he said, admitting Ukraine now would make NATO a party to the conflict, which might lead to nuclear war, The Kyiv Independent reports.
3:46 p.m.: Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has commented about a document featured in a joint investigation by The Kyiv Independent and a group of U.S. and European media outlets. The document detailed Russia’s future plans to take complete control of Belarusian political, economic, and military spheres by 2030.
Speaking to local journalists at a sporting event on February 25, Lukashenko said the document allegedly detailing Russia’s plans to overpower Belarus and dismantle its independence “might have been” written three years ago, The Kyiv Independent reports.
According to one of the sources cited in the investigation, an unnamed Western intelligence officer, the document was created in 2021 by the Kremlin’s Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation.
The plan outlined that by 2030, Belarus should have a single currency and tax system with Russia, and its military and media space will have come under Russian control.
Lukashenko told state-controlled news agency Belta that Belarus and Russia discussed the formation of integration roadmaps three years ago.
“There were different points of view. Some said this way, and some said that way. Maybe some (in Putin’s administration) officials, a group of people, suggested which way they will go with Belarus,” Lukashenko said, according to Belta, adding that he sees Belarus as “an independent and sovereign state.”
2:46 p.m.: The Metropolitan Opera marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine with “A Concert of Remembrance and Hope.” Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo appeared on stage wearing a skirt with a tally mark for each day of the 365 days of the war. Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska addressed the crowd in a prerecorded video speech, The Associated Press reports. Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted Ukrainian tenor Dmytro Popov and bass-baritone Vladyslav Buialskyi and South African soprano Golda Schultz and D’Angelo in the Mozart Requiem and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
“Although an opera house doesn’t have the offensive capacity of an Abrams tank or an F-16 jet, the Metropolitan Opera is proud to be a powerful cultural resource for Ukraine, helping to lead the fight for artistic liberty against (Vladimir) Putin’s cultural propaganda machine,” Met general manager Peter Gelb told an intermission group that included U.N. Ambassadors Sergiy Kyslytsya of Ukraine and Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the U.S. “We demonstrate the free world’s ongoing cultural resolve to defend Ukraine’s liberty in the face of brutal oppression,” he said.
The Met has dismissed Russian singers who refused to distance themselves from Russia President Vladimir Putin.
2:12 p.m.: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said forces of his Russian paramilitary group had captured the village of Yahidne, just north of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.
Ukrainian military reports issued a day after the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, contradicted Prigozhin’s assertion suggesting that villages near the key town remained under Kyiv’s control.
Reuters could not independently confirm Prigozhin’s claim, or the report by the Ukrainian military’s general staff.
“A day earlier, he said Wagner had taken control of Berkhivka, an adjacent village on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
The months-long struggle for Bakhmut, has seen some of the bloodiest fighting since Russia’s invasion.
1:35 p.m.: Members of the Ukrainian community in Washington hold a mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Later, the crowd will march to the White House and the residence of Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Reuters reports.
12:52 p.m.: Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and currently deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council said Moscow had increased military production “by tens of times” at some factories and was closely studying weapons fired into Russian-held areas from the Ukrainian side in an effort to gain an advantage, Reuters reports.
A leading Western think-tank said last week that Russia had lost around half of its most modern tanks and was struggling to replace them. Ukrainian and Western officials have said that Moscow is running low on some types of missiles, and that Western sanctions are hampering its ability to replenish its stocks of guided weapons that rely on imported microchips.
“It was funny to hear the Kyiv fantasists reasoning that ‘missiles ran out’ in Russia or ‘production stopped’. The reality convinced them of the opposite – they still cannot get over the shock,” Medvedev said in an article published on Saturday in monthly magazine National Defense.
“We are not just expanding production, but also introducing the latest technologies, perfecting them literally ‘on the march’.”
11:43 a.m.: About 2000 secret recordings of intercepted conversations between Russian soldiers and their loved ones at home offer a bleak picture of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The AP identified calls made in March 2022 by Russian soldiers in a miliary division that Ukrainian prosecutors say committed war crimes in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv that became a symbol of Russian atrocities.
The calls throw light into how unprepared for war where these young soldiers and how many felt were deceived by assurances that they would return as heroes for liberating Ukraine against its Nazi oppressors and their Western backers, and that Kyiv would fall without bloodshed.
As violence increased, the soldiers said in those phone calls, they grew more and more afraid, missed their families and turned to alcohol to numb themselves from the killings. Some said they were following orders to kill civilians or prisoners of war.
9:47 a.m.: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff indicated Saturday a possible further delay in Budapest’s ratification of Finland and Sweden joining NATO, saying a vote may take place only in the second half of March.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the transatlantic defense alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But all 30 NATO members need to back the applications and Sweden has faced objections from Turkey for harboring what Ankara considers to be members of terrorist groups.
With Hungary’s ratification process stranded in parliament since July, Orban aired concerns about Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership for the first time on Friday. Among other criticisms, he has accused both countries of spreading “outright lies” about the state of democracy in Hungary, Reuters reports.
9:15 a.m.: Various politicians have called for a protest at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to promote peace negotiations between Russia and the Ukraine. Police in Berlin have stepped up their presence over fears that the peace protest in the German capital Saturday could turn violent, local media reported.
Organizers of the Rebellion for Peace rally have received fierce criticism from many politicians, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who say the demonstration could undermine public support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
8:45 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday he will visit China in early April, in part to discuss ending Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports.
China called for a comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine on Friday and has put forward a 12-point peace plan.
“The fact that China engages in peace efforts is a good thing,” Macron told reporters at an agricultural fair in Paris.
“China must help us put pressure on Russia so that it never uses chemical or nuclear weapons, (an effort) which China has already made, and that it stops its aggression as a precondition for talks,” he added.
7:45 a.m.: The European Union is imposing new sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The bloc is targeting more officials and organizations accused of supporting the war, spreading propaganda or supplying drones. It’s also slapping trade restrictions on products that could be used by the armed forces. The EU’s Swedish presidency said Saturday that the sanctions “are directed at military and political decision-makers, companies supporting or working within the Russian military industry, and commanders in the Wagner Group. Transactions with some of Russia’s largest banks are also prohibited.” The measures were proposed by the EU’s executive branch three weeks ago but only adopted after much internal wrangling, AP reports.
5:06 a.m.: Canada is sending four additional battle tanks to Ukraine, doubling its commitment, and sanctioning an additional 192 Russian individuals and entities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Canada has stood in solidarity with Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict,” Trudeau said in a news conference on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We will continue to do so,” Trudeau told journalists, speaking in Toronto where he is to attend an evening vigil for the victims of the war.
The new sanctions target Russian lawmakers who’ve backed the invasion of Ukraine, including deputy prime ministers, ministers, others in Putin’s office, its military and defense sector, as well as family members of individuals already on Canada’s sanctions list.
Trudeau’s office said four previously announced German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks have been delivered to Poland where Ukrainian soldiers are being trained on their use.
In addition to the four new Leopard 2 tanks, Canada is also sending an armored vehicle and munitions.
4:07 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said that since Ukraine hasn’t shot down any Iranian drones lately, Russia’s supply of the craft is probably running low. It’s likely that Russia will get more drones.
“Although the weapons do not have a good record in destroying their intended targets,” the update said, “Russia likely sees them as useful decoys which can divert Ukrainian air defenses from more effective Russian cruise missiles.”
3:15 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces continued to conduct ground attacks northwest of Svatove and near Kreminna, made marginal territorial gains around Bakhmut and continued to conduct ground attacks across the Donetsk Oblast front line.
2:06 a.m.: The European Union, after hectic last-minute haggling, has approved a 10th package of Russia sanctions on the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the Swedish EU presidency said late Friday, Reuters reported.
“Together, the EU member states have imposed the most forceful and far-reaching sanctions ever to help Ukraine win the war,” the presidency announced on Twitter.
“The EU stands united with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. We will keep supporting Ukraine, for as long as it takes.”
The package includes tighter export restrictions regarding dual-use goods as well as measures against entities supporting the war, spreading propaganda or delivering drones used by Russia.
With two hours to go until midnight, EU member states made it across the finish line with little time to spare after Poland earlier threw a spanner into the works.
1:06 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden, in an ABC News interview Friday, said that the idea China would be negotiating the outcome of the Ukraine war was not rational, following the release of Beijing’s peace plan for the conflict.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s applauding it, so how could it be any good?” Biden told ABC News on the one-year anniversary of the war.
“I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia, if the Chinese plan were followed.”
“The idea that China is going to be negotiating the outcome of a war that’s a totally unjust war for Ukraine is just not rational.”
China’s plan urges both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation and warns against the use of nuclear weapons.
The plan, set out in a foreign ministry paper, was largely a reiteration of China’s line since Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” on Feb. 24 last year.
12:02 a.m.: Ukraine on Friday issued a postage stamp reproducing a mural by British street artist Banksy showing a boy defeating a grown man in judo, to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Agence France-Presse reported.
It was painted by Banksy on a demolished wall in the town of Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, where many buildings were reduced to rubble by Russian aircraft at the start of the invasion, which began a year ago to the day.
The image draws inspiration from Russian President Vladimir Putin, known to be a black belt in judo, and depicts a young judoka representing Ukraine knocking down a grown man.
The phrase “Get lost Putin” has been added to the lower left part of the new stamp, which reproduces the stencil.
A number of Banksy drawings also appeared in Kyiv at the end of 2022.
Residents of the capital flocked to buy the new stamps on Friday, from the main post office on Kyiv’s central square, the Maidan.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.