Head of Wagner Group mercenaries Yevgeny Prigozhin (AP)
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1701 GMT:
Two more civilians have been killed in the Kherson region by Russian shelling, bringing the total to eight in just over 24 hours.
An 81-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man were killed in the village of Novotyahinka, about 40 km (25 miles) from Kherson city.
In the Kharkiv region in the northeast, two civilians were wounded by a Russian missile.
UPDATE 1628 GMT:
In a press conference after his meeting with the Bucharest Nine — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia — Joe Biden has assured that the US will help defend “every inch” of NATO.
The Bucharest 9 agreed on mutual support in the event of a threat and on the “condemnation of the brutal, bloody war against Ukraine, which is being waged by Russia”.
The White House said the leaders “discussed the strengthened defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank” and “looked forward to further strengthening alliance unity and collective defense”, with discussions at the NATO summit in Lithuania in July.
Lithuania President Gitanas Nausėda said he urged Biden for NATO deployment of additional military equipment in the Baltic states, including airspace surveillance, HIMARS rocket systems and attack helicopters.
UPDATE 1600 GMT:
The International Federation of Journalists has suspended the Russian Union of Journalists.
The suspension followed the RUJ’s establishment of branches in occupied regions of Ukraine.
IFJ President Dominique Pradalie said:
The IFJ is an organisation built on international solidarity, on principles of cooperation between member unions and respect for the rights of all journalists. The Russian Union of Journalists’ actions in establishing four branches in the annexed Ukrainian territories have clearly shattered this solidarity and sown divisions among sister unions.
UPDATE 1258 GMT:
Ukrainian advisor Anton Geraschenko has sent a message by juxtaposing Tuesday’s speeches — and audiences — of US President Joe Biden in Warsaw and Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Different values pic.twitter.com/kElycMmrYc
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 21, 2023
UPDATE 1214 GMT:
China’s foreign policy head Wang Yi, in Moscow for discussions with Russian officials (see 0831 GMT), has met Vladimir Putin.
Russian State media carried an anodyne quote from Wang, “The Chinese side will, as in the past, firmly adhere to an objective and impartial position and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the crisis.”
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) February 22, 2023
UPDATE 1057 GMT:
Ukraine is asking Turkey and the UN to start talks on an extension of the July deal lifting Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports.
Kyiv is seeking an extension of at least one year after Russia, having threatened to scrap the agreement, accepted a four-month renewal in November for grain exports from three Ukrainian ports.
“A formal proposal will come out from us this week on the need to work on an extension,” said Deputy Minister of Restoration Yuriy Vaskov. He said the exact date of talks has not been set.
Despite November’s renewal, exports fell in January. Ukrainian officials said Russia is holding up ships in the inspection and clearance process.
Vaskov said Ukraine will insist on an increase in the number of inspection teams “in order to eliminate the accumulation of vessels”.
Kyiv is also adding for the addition to the deal of ports in Mykolaiv, which accounted for 35% of Ukrainian food exports before the Russian invasion. Vaskov said they will need a maximum of two weeks to start operations.
UPDATE 0948 GMT:
Responding to US and NATO pressure, China’s Foreign Ministry has said Beijing is not considering the supply of lethal military assistance to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said:
The United States and other NATO countries are now constantly spreading that China may provide weapons to Russia, which is a ploy that was used and busted at the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.
Wang said NATO should “stop smearing China with unfounded speculations on Ukraine, abandon the old Cold War mentality of zero-sum game and bloc confrontation, and stop fomenting confrontation”.
Last Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — repeating a series of US warnings since last March — told China’s foreign policy head Wang Yi “about the implications and consequences” if China stepped up support for Russia’s invasion.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that the alliance is “increasingly concerned that China might be planning lethal support for Russia’s war”.
UPDATE 0916 GMT:
Ukraine’s military has updated the toll from Russia’s deadly rocket attacks on Kherson city on Tuesday.
At least five civilians were killed and 16 injured, including a 16-year-old girl.
Targets included residential areas, facilities, a local market, a kindergarten, a hospital, a bus stop, garages, and cars as well as infrastructure.
Several apartments were set on fire by the shelling.
UPDATE 0903 GMT:
The Biden Administration will impose sanctions on about 200 Russian individuals and entities this week, according to “people familiar with the matter“.
The latest sanctions accompany this week’s announcement, during US President Joe Biden’s trip to Kyiv, of a new package of $460 million in military aid.
Among those to be sanctioned will be Russian governors, family members of Russian government officials, defense industry organizations, technology firms, and sanctions evasion networks.
UPDATE 0858 GMT:
Air raid sirens have sounded across Ukraine, with explosions reported in Kharkiv in the northeast.
Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synyehubov said two people were lightly injured as the Russians attacked infrastructure.
Four loud explosions in Kharkiv city center. Just saw people running into the metro to find a shelter. Damned terrorists. pic.twitter.com/MKPomBR0pV
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) February 22, 2023
UPDATE 0831 GMT:
China’s top foreign policy official Wang Yi met Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s Security Council, in Moscow on Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the two men agreed to oppose “the Cold War mentality, bloc confrontation, and ideological opposition” and to “strengthen cooperation” multilaterally to improve global governance.
Patrushev added, “I want to reaffirm our invariable support for Beijing on the Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong issues, which the West is exploiting to discredit China.”
The Ministry said Wang and Patrushev discussed the situation in Ukraine but gave no details.
The Chinese diplomat is meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today.
Ukraine Foreign Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said earlier on Tuesday that Wang had shared with him the key points of China’s “peace plan”. However, he noted, the 10-point peace formula of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — presented to the UN last autumn — is the priority.
We look forward to receiving the text, as this is not a place where you can jump to conclusions just by hearing what the plan is about. We need to find out all the details. Once we receive the document, we will carefully study it and draw conclusions.
Zelenskiy said later in the day, “We expect the UN to support our peace formula on February 23. I think it is essential to have one, single standpoint. I have not seen any official document [from China].”
UPDATE 0742 GMT:
Poland’s Foreign Ministry says 14 German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks will be delivered to Ukraine in the “next two or three weeks” after training of Ukrainian troops is complete.
Spokespereson Łukasz Jasina said that Poland still supports the supply of fighter jets to Kyiv but that there is some way to go in establishing a consensus among NATO countries.
Exactly like it was with the tanks, we hope that this coalition will be big enough to support Ukrainians more and more. Jets are very useful in Ukrainian war.
Still, I’m an optimist.
UPDATE 0729 GMT:
Russia’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile — taking place as US President Joe Biden was in Ukraine on Monday — has failed according to “two US officials familiar with the matter“.
An official said Russia notified the US in advance of the launch of the SARMAT missile as part of “deconfliction” arrangements.
Nicknamed “Satan II” by Western officials, the SARMAT can deliver multiple nuclear warheads.
The US officials believe Vladimir Putin wanted to highlight the ballistic missile test in his address to the Russian Parliament on Tuesday.
UPDATE 0713 GMT:
Vladimir Putin has escalated his threat to Moldova, which is west of Ukraine.
The Russian leader has revoked a 2012 decree recognizing Moldova’s sovereignty.
The document was part of discussions over the future of Moldova’s Transnistria region, occupied by Russia since 1992. The Russians permanently maintain 1,500 troops and a large arms depot in the area.
Putin’s decree said he acted to “ensure the national interests of Russia in connection with the profound changes taking place in international relations”.
Moldova’s new Prime Minister, Dorin Recean, said on Sunday, “The Russian troops in Transnistria must be expelled.”
President Maia Sandu warned earlier this month that Russia and its proxies are plotting a coup to replace the Government in Chișinău.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The split in Russia’s military over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine widened on Tuesday, as the head of the Wagner Group mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused leaders of “treason”.
Prigozhin and Wagner fighters have issued a series of video and audio messages over the past two weeks accusing the Defense Ministry and commanders of depriving them of ammunition and other resources.
The attacks followed the Defense Ministry’s move to curb Prigozhin’s influence. It took over recruitment of prisoners, which had been central to Wagner’s “cannon fodder” assaults in eastern Ukraine.
Prigozhin upped the ante against the “monstrous bureaucracy” on Wednesday, “The Chief of General Staff and the Defense Minister give out orders left and right not only to not give ammunition to PMC Wagner, but also to not help it with air transport.” He said the ban covered even the delivery of shovels to dig trenches.
“There is just direct opposition going on, which is nothing less than an attempt to destroy Wagner. This can be equated to high treason,” he asserted.
The conflict between Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense is escalating#Prigozhin said he was ready to provide the military prosecutor's office with evidence that the Russian Defense Ministry does not supply the "#Wagner" PMC with 80% of ammunition.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 21, 2023
Without naming Wagner or Prigozhin, the Defense Ministry denounced the “absolutely false” claims:
All requests for ammunition for assault units are met as soon as possible,
Attempts to create a split within the close mechanism of interaction and support between units of the Russian groups are counter-productive and work solely to the benefit of the enemy.
Prigozhin immediately hit back, “[This is] nothing more than simply spitting at Wagner.”
In his 105-minute lecture to the Russian Parliament on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin did not refer to the in-fighting. He made the sweeping statement, which may or may not have been a signal to Prigozhin and the Defense Ministry, “We must get rid of…any interdepartmental contradictions, formalities, grudges, misunderstandings, and other nonsense.”
Prigozhin posted that he could not comment, as he had been too busy to watch Putin’s speech.
Biden: “Ukraine Will Never Be A Victory for Russia”
In his latest speech during to a trip to Kyiv and Warsaw, US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, “Instead of an easy victory he predicted, Putin left burned-out tanks and Russian forces in disarray.”
Speaking in the gardens of Warsaw’s Royal Palace, Biden summarized:
Autocrats only understand one word: no.
No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom. No, you will not take my future.
I’ll repeat tonight what I said last year at the same place. A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to ease the people’s love of liberties. Brutality will never grind down the will of the free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.
He proclaimed, “Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall, and most important it stands free.”
Biden did not refer to Putin’s address, including the Russian leader’s suspension of the New Start treaty on strategic weapons limitations.
Instead, he assured:
There will continue to be hard and very bitter days, victories and tragedies. But Ukraine is steeled for the fight ahead and the United States, together with our allies and partners, are going to continue to have Ukraine’s back as it defends itself.