European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy at a press conference in Kyiv, February 2, 2023 (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
Thursday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy Government’s Anti-Corruption Drive
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1801 GMT:
The European Union is fulfilling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s request for a tougher limit on imports of Russian oil.
The cap, which takes effect on Sunday, is $45 per barrel for standard products such as fuel oil and $100 per barrel for premium products such as diesel.
The EU cap of $60 per barrel on Russian crude oil took effect on December 5.
We must continue to deprive Russia of the means to wage war against Ukraine. EU’s import ban on Russian petroleum products comes into force on Sunday.
With the G7 we are putting price caps on these products, cutting Russia’s revenue while ensuring stable global energy markets.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 3, 2023
UPDATE 1755 GMT:
The US has confirmed another military aid package, worth $2.175 billion, for Ukraine.
For the first time, the US is providing the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb with a range of 94 miles.
That is also double the 50-mile range of the HIMARS rocket systems that have significantly enhanced Ukrainian capability since their arrival last summer.
See also Ukraine War, Day 343: US Sending Longer-Range Rockets to Kyiv
The assistance also includes precision-guided rockets, HAWK air defense firing units, Javelin anti-tank missiles, mine-resistant vehicles, and other weapons and equipment.
Here’s the full list of new US military aid heading to Ukraine.
The HIMARS Ammo, artillery rounds, MRAPs and Javelins should arrive in days or weeks.
Air defense capabilities and the bottom half of the list need to be procured from weapons manufacturers, which could take months pic.twitter.com/4rLCvt0Mlm
— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) February 3, 2023
UPDATE 1722 GMT:
At a press conference alongside European Union leaders, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked the bloc to impose sanctions on Russia’s State nuclear agency Rosatom and its senior executives.
We would like some of the states, European states who still don’t want to impose sanctions against Rosatom, the top managers of Rosatom… the nuclear power for them to understand what if their children were just taken, put into buses and forcefully taken to the Russian Federation.
For this forced deportation you need to enforce sanctions.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU’s 10th package of sanctions, being sought before the anniversary of the Russian invasion on February 24, will cover trade worth €10 billion ($10.83 billion) and focus on technology used by Moscow’s military, such as drone components.
European Council President Charles Michel tweeted:
The Ukrainian people have made a clear choice for freedom, democracy, and rule of law. And we in the EU have also made a clear decision.
Your future is with us. Your destiny is our destiny.
That’s why we are here today. Standing by your side.@ZelenskyyUa #EUUkraine pic.twitter.com/c3uNs1GnGX
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) February 3, 2023
UPDATE 1503 GMT:
At least one person has been killed by Russian shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on Friday.
The victim was in the center of Toretsk, where another six people were injured. Three civilians were wounded in Kurakhivka.
UPDATE 1226 GMT:
The Zelenskiy Government’s anti-corruption drive is continuing with charges against two heads of companies working with Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.
The executives are under scrutiny for misappropriation of more than 120 million hrvynias ($3.23 million) from the Ministry.
The National Police said in a statement, “Under the guise of supplying food to military units, the offenders transferred part of the funds to the bank account of a company they controlled.”
Journalists and activists highlighted the misappropriation earlier this month, putting pressure on the Government to act as it removed or forced the resignation of more than 20 officials in other cases.
See also Ukraine War, Day 344: Zelenskiy Government’s Anti-Corruption Drive
The two company heads are charged with misappropriation, expropriation, or seizure of property through abuse of office. They face 7 to 12 years in prison and confiscation of property if convicted.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his address to the nation on Thursday night, “We…continue our fight against the internal enemy. I am grateful to the Security Service of Ukraine, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Prosecutor General’s Office and all those who are involved in the cleansing of our country. New steps will follow.”
UPDATE 1101 GMT:
“Western officials” say the number of slain or wounded Russian troops during Vladimir Putin’s invasion is approaching 200,000.
The officials said the toll has surged because of Russia’s attempts to seize territory in the Donetsk region, including near the city of Bakhmut.
Since the autumn, the Russians have relied on Wagner Group mercenaries for mass assaults on the areas. Ukrainian troops have spoken of the mercenaries, some of them pardoned convicts, as “cannon fodders” in waves of attacks that resemble a “zombie movie” (see Thursday’s Coverage).
The last public casualty estimate from the Biden Administration was in November. Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more than 100,000 troops on each side had been killed or wounded. Officials said privately that the tolls were closer to 120,000.
Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen, Norway’s defense chief, estimated on January 22 that Russia had suffered 180,000 casualties, and Ukraine had 100,000 killed or wounded along with 30,000 civilian deaths.
Kristoffersen added this week that there is “much uncertainty regarding these numbers, as no one at the moment are able to give a good overview. They could be both lower or even higher.”
UPDATE 1024 GMT:
Russian proxy officials in occupied Crimea have nationalized about 500 Ukrainian properties.
Vladimir Konstantinov, Speaker of the proxy Crimean Parliament, said the seizures targeted “accomplices of the Kyiv regime”, taking over banks and tourist and sport infrastructure.
The proxy administration said the properties including those belonging to former Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and businessmen Igor Kolomoisky, Rinat Akhmetov, and Serhiy Taruta.
UPDATE 1014 GMT:
The Ukraine Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin has filed criminal charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group mercenaries.
Prigozhin has been charged with encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine and of waging a war of aggression against the country.
The head of this group is directly responsible for thousands of war crimes. He openly admits his role in the war against Ukraine and, with the Kremlin’s permission, resolves staff issues by recruiting tens of thousands of prisoners.
See also Ukraine War, Day 328: Kremlin Pushes Back v. Wagner Group’s Prigozhin
UPDATE 1005 GMT:
A policeman who defected to work for the occupying Russia authority in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine has been assassinated.
The policeman was killed by a car bomb in Enerhodar, near the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Dmitri Orlov, the exiled Ukrainian mayor of Enerhodar, indicated the policemen was targeted by fellow pro-Russian elements because of criminal and corrupt activity:
Since the beginning of March last year and until now, Enerhodar has been a city where the occupiers have been active in criminal activities: they torture and capture people, rob the city’s residents and entire businesses.
But they put in their pockets a part of what they receive from the Russian Federation to provide for their needs. Living Rashists do not need…witnesses. Therefore, they will continue to carry out similar “cleanings”. And the first one has already left.
None of the claims by either Rogov or Orlov have been independently verified.
However, Ukraine partisans have carried out a series of assassination attempts, some of them successful, against Russian and Russian-proxy officials and military commanders in the occupied south.
UPDATE 0819 GMT:
The body of a fourth victim has been recovered from an apartment block destroyed by a Russian missile strike in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday.
Another 21 people were injured, two of them seriously, in the attack of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region.
The Russians shelled again on Thursday, injuring five people as they damaged 16 houses, a children’s clinic, a school, garages, and cars.
UPDATE 0810 GMT:
Vladimir Solovyov, a leading commentator on Russian State TV, sums up 11 1/2 months of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:
We are not doing anything. Terrorist attacks have been carried out in our country, including at military facilities.
🤡 Propagandist #Solovyov is already nervously summing up the results of #Russia's "successes" for almost a year of war with #Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/6yflj1ytWz
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 3, 2023
UPDATE 0749 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks across the Kherson region in southern Ukraine have killed two civilians and injured nine, including a 5-year-old boy.
There were 65 shellings with artillery, anti-aircraft guns, mortars, and tanks. Targets included a shipbuilding plant, a school, and residential buildings. Three large fires were set: two in warehouses and one in a residential area.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: As European Union leaders met Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials in Kyiv on Thursday, the EU announced a series of measures bolstering financial, military, and energy support.
But Zelenskiy asked for further steps in important areas, including tougher sanctions on Russia over Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Standing alongside Zelenskiy at a press conference, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said the EU’s 10th sanctions package will be ready for the first anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion on 24 February and the bloc will “keep on turning up the pressure further”:
We are making Putin pay for his atrocious war. Russia is paying a heavy price as our sanctions are eroding its economy, throwing it back by a generation.
She said an international center for the prosecution of crimes in Ukraine will be set up in The Hague in the Netherlands to “coordinate the collection of evidence”.
The EU will double a military aid program, training another 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers to take the total to 30,000. And Von der Leyen announced the supply of 35 million LED lightbulbs, another 2,400 generators adding to 3,000 already delivered, and funding for solar panels on public buildings.
The future of the EU is being written, right now, in Ukraine.
This is a fight for freedom, sovereignty and democracy. 🇪🇺 🇺🇦@vonderleyen pic.twitter.com/L6UNdkdFg4
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 2, 2023
A Tighter Cap on Russian Oil?
But the President pushed for confirmation of key sanctions measures, including a tougher cap on the price of Russian oil products exported to the EU.
“We see today that the pace of sanctions in Europe has slowed down a little,” Zelensky said at the press conference. “The terrorist state increases the pace of adaptation to sanctions instead. It should be resolved. We believe that we can do it together.”
The EU, following the G7 nations, agreed a price cap on Russian crude oil of $60 per barrel that took effect in December. Von der Leyen noted that the limit is costing the Russian State €160 million ($175 million) a day.
But some EU states are seeking a cap of $45 on discounted petroleum products and $100 on premium products by a deadline of February 5.
Ukraine in the EU?
Kyiv is also looking for faster consideration of its application to join the 27-nation bloc. Zelenskiy said the discussions should take place “this year”.
On Thursday, in a 489-36 vote, the European Parliament approved a roadmap for Ukraine’s accession
The resolution stipulates that the EU will “work on the start of accession negotiations and support a roadmap outlining further steps to ensure Ukraine’s accession to the EU single market”.
The MEPs also stressed the need for Ukraine to show “compliance with relevant procedures and to “carry out significant reforms as soon as possible”.
Von der Leyen said Ukraine was “taking notable steps forward to meet our recommendations while simultaneously fighting an invasion.”
“We have never been closer,” she said. “We are also working on extending tariff-free access to our market.”
Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has announced an agreement with the European Union over participation in the bloc’s Single Market Program.
Kyiv will obtain support to businesses, access to markets, a favorable business environment, sustainable growth, and internationalization.
We have also signed the agreement on 🇺🇦's participation in 🇪🇺 Single Market Programme. Its budget amounts to €4.2 billion. Our participation will contribute to additional support for 🇺🇦 entrepreneurs, who are the foundation of the economy. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/CMZkEMgFiy
— Denys Shmyhal (@Denys_Shmyhal) February 2, 2023