Live: Ukraine says ‘survived the hardest winter in our history’

Live: Ukraine says ‘survived the hardest winter in our history’

Ukraine has survived the “hardest winter” in its history, enduring months of Russian strikes on critical infrastructure, the country’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. The fight to defend the eastern city of Bakhmut from Russian forces intensified, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday. Follow our live blog for the latest updates on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

11:15: Ukraine says “survived the hardest winter in our history”

Ukraine has “survived” a months-long assault by Russian strikes on critical infrastructure throughout the winter, Ukraine’s foreign minister said as he marked the first day of spring in Kiev.

Since October, Russia has struck key energy facilities in Ukraine with missiles and drones, disrupting water, heat and electricity supplies to millions of people.

“On March 1, 2023, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin suffered his fifth major defeat since his full-scale invasion – Ukraine defeated his winter terror,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement.

“We survived the hardest winter in our history. It was cold and dark, but we were unbreakable.”

8:05 am: Russia changes censorship laws to punish criticism of Wagner

Russia has submitted new legislative amendments to parliament that further strengthen the country’s censorship laws, with up to 15 years in prison for discrediting the armed forces and volunteer military organizations such as the Wagner Group.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of The Wagner group who is trying to storm Ukraine’s Bakhmut, complained in January that there are bloggers and social media channels discrediting his fighters who cannot be punished under current laws.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said “any public dissemination of knowingly false information about the forces” will be punishable under the changes to the criminal code.

“As public acts aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, voluntary formations, organizations and persons facilitated in the implementation of tasks assigned to … armed forces,” would be punishable, Volodin wrote on the Telegram messaging platform.

06:15: Blinken warns Central Asia of dangers from war in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden’s administration has pledged to support the independence of five Central Asian nations, in a not-so-subtle warning to former Soviet states that Russia’s value as a partner has been severely compromised by its years-old war on Ukraine.

In Kazakhstan for meetings with top Central Asian diplomats, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said no country, especially one that has traditionally been in Moscow’s orbit, can afford to ignore the threats posed by Russian aggression against not only its territory but the international rules-based order and the global economy.

In all his discussions, Blinken emphasized the importance of respect for “sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.

Blinken will arrive in New Delhi later today along with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov for a G20 meeting, with Ukraine and tensions with China set to overshadow host India’s efforts to forge unity among the world’s top economies.

A meeting is seen as unlikely between the two men, who have not been in the same room since a G20 meeting in Bali in July when Lavrov, according to Western officials, walked out.

02:15: The fighting around Bakhmut is intensifying, says Zelensky

Russian forces have launched sustained attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in their bid for a breakthrough in the year-long war, with Ukraine’s military describing the situation there as “extremely tense”.

“The most difficult part, as before, is Bakhmut and the battles that are crucial for the defense of the city,” the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said in his video address in the evening, adding that “the intensity of the fighting is only increasing”.

>> Ukraine’s Bakhmut: Inside the Front Line

Live: Ukraine says 'survived the hardest winter in our history'

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

Originally published on France24

Live: Ukraine says 'survived the hardest winter in our history'


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