Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1538 GMT:
UN Secretary General António Guterres has met Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv for discussions of the July 2022 lifting the Russian blockade on three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
The two men called for an extension of the deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, ensuring Ukraine’s grain exports. Guterres said the continuation is “critical”.
Russia threatened to block an extension last November before relenting. The Kremlin is again indicating that it will stand in the way of a March 18 renewal, demanding an easing of international sanctions on Russian products.
Zelenskiy said after today’s meeting:
Right now, Ukraine is at the forefront of not just a struggle, but a real war for all the principles on which international life is based. Right now, it is Ukraine that is defending the goals and principles of the UN Charter. Hence, it is now and in Ukraine that the future of the UN and the global role of the United Nations are being decided.
I personally thank the Secretary General, his team, and the United Nations as a whole, who share our view of the need to protect universal values and the international order.
UPDATE 1209 GMT:
Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has announced the despatch of 21 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in March.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 8, 2023
UPDATE 1200 GMT:
German authorities carried out a two-day search of a ship they believe was involved in the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines (see Original Entry).
Prosecutor say the searches, on January 18-19, were of a vessel which may have transported explosives.
German outlets, citing officials, posted on Tuesday that the investigation suspects a six-person team — using a yacht rented by a Polish company with a Ukrainian owner — carried out the demolitions on September 26.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the reports should be treated with caution, “It could just as easily been a false [flag] operation, designed to shift the blame to pro-Ukraine groups. The likelihood is equally high”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said to reporters on the sidelines of the European Union Defense Ministers’ meeting in Stockholm:
What we do know is that there was an attack against the Nord Stream pipelines, but we have not been able to determine who was behind it.
There are ongoing national investigations and I think it’s right to wait until those are finalized before we say anything more about who was behind it.
UPDATE 0952 GMT:
“Western officials” say Russia has hesitated to purchase ballistic missiles from Iran because it is concerned Ukraine’s international partners would supply Kyiv with long-range rockets.
Those rockets include the US-made ATACMS missile system with a 300-km (186-mile) range.
However, the officials say Russia may change its position as it faces shortages of its own missiles.
UPDATE 0712 GMT:
Streetlights have been switched on in Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv for the first time since the Russian invasion in February 2022.
The lights illuminated the streets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov posted on Telegram:
For more than a year, the only source of light in Kharkiv during the dark hours of the day has mainly been car headlights. During this time, there were many road accidents in which people were injured….
I am convinced that this is a step in the right direction, which will contribute to the safety of Kharkiv residents and reduce the number of road accidents.
Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine, is only 30 km (19 miles) from the Russian border. The city held out against the initial Russian onslaught, and Ukrainian forces liberated all of Kharkiv Province last September.
Residents still have to endure periodic Russian shelling.
UPDATE 0702 GMT:
The Ukraine military’s commander-in-chief, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, has conferred with military leaders from NATO, the US, the UK, and Poland.
Zaluzhnyi confirmed that met on Tuesday with NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, US Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli; UK Chief of the Defense Staff Adm. Tony Radakin; Polish Armed Forces Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak; and the commander of Security Assistance Group Ukraine, US Army Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto.
Zaluzhnyi said he informed the quartet about the situation on the battlefield, particularly the Russian assault on Bakhmut in eastern Ukriane. The supply of military aid to Ukraine, including weapons and ammunition, was discussed.
The Ukrainian commander-in-chief posted, “Strengthening air defense and providing long-range weapons remain crucial.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Leaks from US intelligence officials and German investigators both suggest that a “pro-Ukrainian” group blew up three of four Nord Stream pipelines between Russia and Germany on September 26, 2022.
The US officials said a review of new intelligence pointed to Ukrainian or Russian nationals in the operations against both Nord Stream 1 and 1 of 2 Nord Stream 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
The officials say they have no evidence that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky or his senior officials were involved in the operation, or that the attackers were directed by Ukrainian government officials.
The German investigators have reportedly found and identified the vessel believed to have been used in the placing of explosives near the pipelines. The yacht was rented by a Polish company, owned by a Ukrainian citizen, using forged documents
The operation was carried out by five men and a woman: the captain, two divers, their assistants, and a doctor. The group went to sea from the German city of Rostock on September 6.
The citizenship of the six suspects has not yet been established.
Investigators spotted the yacht in Vik na Dars on the north German coast and then on the Danish island of Christians, northeast of the attack site near Bornholm. Traces of explosives were found in the cabin after the ship was returned to its owner.
The investigation has not yet established who may have ordered the explosions.
No Conclusions on Responsibility
Western officials initially suggested Russia might have been responsible for the attacks. US officials also privately speculated that the Ukraine Government might have some role. However, inquiries by Denmark, Sweden, and Germany reached no conclusion about responsibility.
US officials say President Joe Biden and his senior staff did not authorize any mission to destroy the pipelines, and there has been no US involvement. A senior aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Kyiv was “absolutely not involved” and has no information about what happened.
Nord Stream 2 was finished in September 2021. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on February 26, 2022 — two days after the launch of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — that it would not be operational.