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Russia-Ukraine War At A Glance: What We Know On Day 714

Ukrainian special forces have said they blew up a drilling platform in the Black Sea that Russia was using to increase the range of its drones. The operation, dubbed Citadel, was conducted at night and also captured “important enemy equipment”.

Joe Biden told Republicans in Congress to “show some spine”, stand up to Donald Trump and stop playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands as he acknowledged that an exhaustively negotiated, bipartisan bill that includes security funding for Ukraine is stalled. “All indications are this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor,” said the US president. “Why? The simple reason: Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically.”

Some parts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka are in a “critical” condition as they fight off Russian shelling and incursions, according to Vitaliy Barabash, head of the town’s military administration. “This does not mean that everything is lost, that everything is very bad. But the enemy is directing very large amount of forces at our city,” he told Ukrainian TV.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has decreed the creation of a separate branch of Ukraine’s armed forces devoted to drones. Zelenskiy has pointed to drone production domestically and with partner nations as strategically vital, and pledged Ukraine will produce a million in 2024. The commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said in a comment for CNN last week that drones “along with other types of advanced weapons” help Ukraine avoid being drawn into costly positional warfare.

Frontline soldiers have little patience for rumours that Zelenskiy may soon fire Zaluzhnyi, according to the AFP news agency. “Replacing the commander during fighting, especially when they are so intense in our area, is not appropriate,” said an army medic with the callsign “Beria”. Sergeant “Luntik” said the issue was damaging morale and feeding “all sorts of conspiracy theories”. But troops said they would not stop fighting even if Zaluzhnyi is removed. “Nothing will change. I will continue to carry out my tasks like I have until now,” said Vitaly, 32.

Nuclear power station staffing at the Zaporizhzhia plant is being cut to dangerous levels by the Russian occupiers, officials have warned, as the UN nuclear watchdog chief, Rafael Grossi, prepares to visit it on Wednesday. Grossi said the plant was “operating with a very, very small number of operators”. Ukraine’s energy minister, German Galushchenko, said the Russians had locked out several hundred “skilled and, most importantly, licensed [operators]. You can’t just take them away.” Zaporizhzhia’s radioactive fuel is also reaching the end of its useful life and potentially needs safe removal and storage. Grossi described the nuclear plant’s state as “very delicate”.

At the UN security council, the US and Russia have traded accusations over illegally supplied North Korean missiles being fired at Ukraine and the downing of a Russian military transport. “To date, Russia has launched DPRK-supplied ballistic missiles against Ukraine on at least nine occasions,” said Robert Wood, deputy US ambassador. Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said there was “irrefutable evidence” a Patriot missile shot down a Russian air force Il-76 on 24 January. Russia claims it was carrying Ukrainian soldiers to a prisoner exchange but has produced no evidence to back this up.

Russia requested the security council meeting after it said Ukraine killed at least 28 people when it hit a bakery in Russian-controlled Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine. Senior Ukrainian UN diplomat Serhii Dvornyk accused Russia of misusing the security council “for disseminating fakes”. Russia has admitted one of its senior occupation officials died in the bakery strike, while Ukrainian news outlets have reported the bakery was a supplier to the Russian side and a meeting place for Russian officials.

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who fought in Ukraine and fled to Norway in 2023 has been denied asylum but will not be deported as it is too dangerous to send him back, his lawyer has said. Andrei Medvedev escaped Russia in January 2023 across its Arctic border with Norway.

The EU diplomacy chief, Josep Borrell, has visited a course for Ukrainian law enforcement personnel whose job it is to restore law and order in territories returned from Russian control. It covers arresting dangerous residents as well as dealing with war crimes and mass graves. “Discovering mass graves and then having to inform the relatives, this is not a joke, this is something that has to be done with adequate psychological capacities,” Borrell said. Training is run by gendarmes from EU countries including France, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania.

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