Russia-Ukraine war live: Moscow buying Starlink ‘in Arab countries’ to use on battlefield, Ukraine says

2 weeks ago 22

Elon Musk-owned service has been vital to Kyiv’s battlefield communications but Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are also increasingly relying on it

Good morning and welcome to the Ukraine live blog. We start with news that Russian forces are buying Starlink satellite internet terminals in “Arab countries” for use on the battlefield, Ukraine’s military spy agency has said.

The Elon Musk-owned service has been vital to Kyiv’s battlefield communications, but Ukrainian officials have said Russian forces are also increasingly relying on it during their nearly two-year-old invasion, Reuters reported.

Russia has hit Kyiv with what was probably a hypersonic Zircon missile, its first use in the nearly two-year-old war, a Ukrainian research institute has said. The Zircon has a range of 1,000km (625 miles) and travels at nine times the speed of sound, according to Russia. The Kyiv Scientific Research Institute for Forensic Examinations said pieces of debris that matched Zircon components were found after a strike on 7 February.

Russia said it completed testing of the Zircon missile in June 2022, and Vladimir Putin described it as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems. Russia has also attacked Ukraine with the Kinzhal hypersonic missile – which turned out to be a ground-launched ballistic missile dropped from a plane. It was supposed to be unstoppable, but Ukrainian troops have regularly shot them down with Patriot missiles.

Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched a missile and drone attack on Monday on the central city of Dnipro and the mayor said infrastructure had been hit. Suspilne public television quoted the water authority as saying power cuts had closed a pumping station and supplies were cut to certain districts.

A major Moscow-based online network has been spreading pro-Russian Ukraine war propaganda and disinformation in western Europe, French military and cybersecurity experts say. France’s Vignium agency, which works against foreign entities trying to sway public opinion, says the network, dubbed Portal Kombat, has operated at least 193 sites disseminating pro-Russian propaganda defending the invasion of Ukraine and criticising the government in Kyiv.

Hundreds of mourners on Monday attended the funeral of a family of five, including three small children, burned to death in a Russian drone attack in the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Russian drones struck a fuel depot on Friday evening, triggering fires that engulfed an entire street, including the house in which the Putyatina family lived. An elderly couple died in the same street. More than 50 people were injured and 15 homes burned down.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, is planning a tour of western European capitals to lobby for aid for Ukraine around this week’s Munich security conference, Bloomberg News has reported.

The EU has adopted a law to set aside windfall profits made on about €300bn in frozen Russian central bank assets, in a first concrete step towards using the money to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. The EU and G7 have been debating for over a year if and how the funds can be used.

After Vladimir Putin gave US interviewer Tucker Carlson his exhaustive version of Russia’s historical glory, a Mongolian leader has trolled Vladimir Putin over the size of defunct Eurasian empires. “After Putin’s talk. I found Mongolian historic map. Don’t worry. We are a peaceful and free nation,” wrote Tsakhia Elbegdorj, former Mongolian president, on Twitter/X. Elbegdorj, who was previously also Mongolian prime minister, is an international figure and was a leader in Monglia’s 1990 democratic revolution ending communist rule.

Russia on Monday imposed sanctions on 18 British citizens for what Moscow said was demonising Russia and escalating the war in Ukraine. Russia imposed what it called personal sanctions against deputy defence minister James Cartlidge, and a number of other officials and academics including historians Orlando Figes and Norman Davies and Russia specialist James Sherr.

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