The Soviet-era Beriev A-50, an early warning and control aircraft, first flew in 1978
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1842 GMT:
The European Commission and Poland have announced a joint initative to trace Ukrainian children who have been abducted and taken to Russia.
Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant said the initiative would “collect evidence so that the abducted children can be found and those responsible for the crime are brought to justice”.
Russian forces have abducted and sent thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. It is a tragedy and a crime.
— Dana Spinant (@DanaSpinant) February 27, 2023
UPDATE 1642 GMT:
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has met in Kyiv with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and other senior officials.
Yellen said the trip was “to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine, discuss ways we can continue our support – including through economic assistance – and pay tribute to the bravery of the Ukrainian people a year after Russia’s unprovoked invasion”.
She announced the transfer of the first $1.25 billion of the latest package of $9.9 billion in financial and budget assistance, announced during President Joe Biden’s trip to Kyiv last week.
The Secretary said the US and its allies are discussing how to ensure that Russia pays for the hundreds of billions of dollars from its devastation of Ukraine. But she said there are “significant legal obstacles” to seizing fully the $300 billion in Russian Central Bank assets frozen by sanctions.
Yellen also cautioned that President Zelenskiy’s calls for sanctions on the Russian State nuclear energy company Rosatom must be “mindful” of the potential consequences for western allies.
Zelenskiy said of the “important” meeting that the US has been “powerfully supporting” Ukraine but “it is necessary to further strengthen sanctions to deprive Russia of the ability to finance the war”.
🇺🇸 is among the leaders in providing financial support to 🇺🇦. We spoke with @Secylllen today about supporting 🇺🇦's rapid recovery, military risks, sanctions pressure, and the seizure of frozen russian assets. We appreciate the solidarity of the US government and 🇺🇸 people with 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/yrXetu6Iaw
— Denys Shmyhal (@Denys_Shmyhal) February 27, 2023
Yellen tweeted that her visit was to “reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine, discuss ways we can continue our support – including through economic assistance — and pay tribute to the bravery of the Ukrainian people a year after Russia’s unprovoked invasion”.
UPDATE 1524 GMT:
A Ukrainian court has sentenced two captured Russian troops to prison over the shelling of residential areas in eastern Ukraine.
One soldier received a 10-year sentence and the other a nine-year term.
One defendant began fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and fought in the Bakhmut area in the Donetsk region last year. The other was in charge of Russian troops that shelled the eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in Luhansk Province, occupied by Russia last summer.
UPDATE 1036 GMT:
A second emergency services worker has died from this morning’s Russian attack with Iran-made drones on Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine (see 0746 GMT).
Mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn said, “Unfortunately, we have another hospital death. Doctors failed to save the life of another hero, a rescuer.”
UPDATE 0902 GMT:
During a visit to Kyiv and a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud has announced a $400 million aid package — $100 million in humanitarian assistance and $300 million in oil products.
The visit is the first since the two countries established diplomatic relations in April 1993.
Zelensky said to the Foreign Minister, “Thank you for supporting peace in Ukraine, our sovereignty, and territorial integrity This is very important for us and our society.”
The President said he expected the meeting would “provide a new impetus to further intensification of our mutually beneficial dialogue”.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
This is the first official visit of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Ukraine since the establishment of diplomatic relations. pic.twitter.com/tYJgF8undz
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 26, 2023
UPDATE 0859 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has dismissed the commander of joint force operations, Major Gen. Eduard Mykhailovich Moskalov.
Zelenskiy gave no reason for the removal of Moskalov, who had been in post since last March.
UPDATE 0838 GMT:
UK military intelligence notes that Russian proxy officials have reported at least 14 explosions near the occupied city of Mariupol in southeast Ukraine since February 21.
The blasts have been reported at an ammunition store at the airport, two fuel depots, and a steelworks used as a military base.
The explosions point to longer-range Ukrainian weapons. Mariupol is at least 80 km (50 miles) from the frontline.
Before its successful counter-offensive in southern Ukraine this autumn — including the liberation of Kherson city — Ukrainian forces degraded Russian military positions, supplies, and logistics with a series of strikes.
The UK analysts note that Mariupol, which gave way in May after 12 weeks of Russian attacks and siege that killed thousands of civilians, is “the largest city Russia captured in 2022 that it still controls, and sits on a key logistics route.”
Russia will likely be concerned that unexplained explosions are occurring in a zone it had probably previously assessed as beyond the range of routine Ukrainian strike capabilities.
UPDATE 0746 GMT:
Ukraine’s military says air defenses downed 11 of 14 Iranian-made attack drones early Monday.
Most of the drones, deployed in two waves, were destroyed near Kyiv. Air raid sirens sounded for 5 1/2 hours.
An emergency service worker was killed in Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine. Four people were injured.
UPDATE 0732 GMT:
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has reiterated that China would make “a bad mistake” if it sent military aid to Russia.
Sullivan said on Sunday, “Beijing will have to make its own decisions about how it proceeds, whether it provides military assistance, but it will come at real cost to China, and I think China’s leaders are weighing that as they make their decisions.”
On February 18 at the Munich Security Conference, Sullivan told China’s Wang Yi that there would be consequences if Beijing propped up Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with military assistance.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said three days later that no aid would be given. There was no reference to military assistance during Wang Yi’s talks in Moscow with Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
But the US intelligence community continues to assess that China is considering the supply of drones and ammunition to Moscow.
Sullivan said Sunday:
We will watch carefully, we will be vigilant, and we will continue to send a strong message that we believe that sending military aid to Russia at this time, when they are using their weapons to bombard cities, kill civilians, and commit atrocities would be a bad mistake and China should want no part of it.
Commenting on China’s 12-point “position paper”, issued on Friday, Sullivan encouraged a meeting between the Chinese leadership and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“The Chinese have talked to the Russians a lot, but at the most senior levels they have not talked to the Ukrainians, and it’s very difficult to advance any kind of peace initiative when there’s that kind of one-sided diplomacy going,” he said.
US President Joe Biden continued to express his opposition to the Chinese proposals, “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.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The opposition in Belarus, a neighbor of Ukraine and Russia, claims that it destroyed a Russian A-50 surveillance plane near the Belarusian capital Minsk.
The exiled opposition says partisans destroyed the warplane in a drone attack on Sunday. Franak Viacorka, an advisor of opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanovskaya, tweeted:
GLORY TO BELARUSIAN PARTISANS!
Partisans from the "Pieramoha" (Victory) plan confirmed a successful special operation to blow up a rare Russian plane at the airfield in Machulishchy near Minsk. This is the most successful diversion since the beginning of 2022. pic.twitter.com/4Q6UmmvylT
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) February 26, 2023
Viacorka said the two partisans who carried out the operation have left the country and are safe.
Witnesses said they heard two explosions between 8 and 9 a.m. The front and central parts of the A-50 were struck, affecting avionics and a radar antenna.
The Belarusian opposition group BYPOL said in a statement, “One of the nine Awacs of the Russian aerospace forces worth $330 million [was destroyed]. The damage is serious, the plane will definitely not fly anywhere.”
Residents saw military personnel and police vehicles respond to the explosion. They checked passing cars as riot police walked around apartments. A helicopter patrolled the area for 90 minutes.
The Belarus Defense Ministry made no official comment. An official said the explosions were “pops” and insisted that nothing serious had occurred. He claimed the subsequent concentration of the military was “training”.
Russian troops used Belarus, led by Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian ally Alexander Lukashenko, for their invasion last February and continue to base troops and warplanes there.
In the initial phase of the invasion, partisans disrupted Russian mobilization by blowing up railway lines.
The damaged A-50 flew from Russia to Belarus hours before the Russian invasion. It returned to Belarus on January 3, 2023, making 12 sorties.