Ukraine in talks with allies to negotiate supply of long-range missiles
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Ukraine and its Western allies are engaged in “fast-track” talks on the possibility of equipping the invaded country with long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide said Saturday. Earlier that day, at least three people were killed after Russian forces struck a residential neighbourhood in Kostiantynivka in Donetsk Oblast, the regional governor said. Read FRANCE 24's liveblog below to see how the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
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8:32pm: Devastation and destruction in eastern Ukrainian cities
On Saturday, a Russian strike killed three people in a residential district of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka. "I closed my eyes, opened them, and suddenly everything was blown out," one resident said of the attack that destroyed her home. "I was covered in blood."
Moscow is seeking to seize control of the entire Donetsk region, which it has already declared a part of Russia.
FRANCE 24 journalist Oliver Farry bring us this report on the recent offensives:
6:46pm: Ukraine denies report it intends to get 24 jets from allies, says media
Ukraine's air force on Saturday denied a newspaper report saying it intended to get 24 fighter jets from allies, saying talks about potential deliveries were still continuing, a domestic media outlet said.
Spain's El Pais newspaper, citing air force spokesperson Yuri Ihnat, said Ukraine initially wanted two squadrons of 12 planes each, preferably Boeing F-16 jets.
But in a statement provided to Ukraine's Babel outlet on Saturday, Ihnat said his comments to a media briefing on Friday had been misinterpreted.
"Ukraine is only at the stage of negotiations regarding aircraft. Aircraft models and their number are currently being determined," he said.
4:25pm: 'Fast-track' talks underway for missiles, planes
Ukraine and its Western allies are engaged in “fast-track” talks on the possibility of equipping the invaded country with long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide said Saturday.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Ukraine’s supporters in the West “understand how the war is developing” and the need to supply planes capable of providing cover for the armoured fighting vehicles that the United States and Germany pledged at the beginning of the month.
However, in remarks to online video channel Freedom, Podolyak said that some of Ukraine's Western partners maintain a “conservative” attitude to arms deliveries, “due to fear of changes in the international architecture.”
4:04pm: Moscow says 14 killed in Ukraine strike on eastern hospital
Russia's defence ministry on Saturday accused the Ukrainian army of striking a hospital in the eastern Luhansk region, leaving 14 dead and injuring 24 others.
On Saturday morning in the town of Novoaidar, "the Ukrainian armed forces deliberately attacked the building of a district hospital with rockets of a US-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket system," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry added that 14 were killed and 24 wounded among the "hospital patients and medical staff".
FRANCE 24 could not confirm this information.
3:32pm: On the Ukrainian front in Donetsk: 'We're being shelled all the time'
A Ukrainian soldier takes shelter in his trench. “They’re shelling us all the time,” he says of the Russian soldiers. Ammunition is lacking and Vuhledar, a city in the eastern Donetsk region, is under heavy fire.
The situation at the front has remained “extremely acute” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday, especially in the Donetsk region, where Russia is stepping up an offensive amid its full-scale invasion.
FRANCE 24 journalist Kimberley Lestieux brings us this report:
12:49pm: EU president says Ukraine has unconditional support ahead of summit
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said ahead of an EU-Ukraine summit next week that Ukraine had unconditional support from the bloc and that the country needed to prevail against Russian attacks to defend European values.
"We stand by Ukraine's side without any ifs and buts," von der Leyen said in a speech on Saturday at an event of her party, the Christian Democrat CDU, in Dusseldorf, Germany. Ukraine "is fighting for our shared values, it is fighting for the respect of international law and for the principles of democracy and that is why Ukraine has to win this war", she said.
Von der Leyen and her fellow EU commissioners are planning to host a EU-Ukraine summit on February 3.
10:24am: Three killed in Russian strike on eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka
Three people were killed and at least two others wounded after Russian forces struck a residential neighbourhood in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka, the governor of Donetsk Oblast (regional administrative unit) said on Saturday.
Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app that four apartment buildings and a hotel had been damaged and that rescuers and police officials were at the site to "carefully document yet another crime by the Russian occupiers".
Earlier on Saturday Kyrylenko said four people had been killed and at least seven wounded from Russian strikes over the past 24 hours.
8:41am: Russia's deputy foreign minister to meet new US envoy early next week, reports RIA news agency
Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov will hold a meeting with Lynne Tracy, the new US ambassador to Moscow, early next week, the RIA news agency reported on Saturday.
Tracy arrived in Moscow earlier this week. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday that the new US ambassador would not improve ties between the two countries because of what she called Washington's ongoing "hybrid war" against Russia.
6:55am: Situation at front 'extremely acute', says Zelensky
President Volodymyr Zelensky described the situation at the front as "extremely acute", particularly in the eastern Donetsk region where Russia is stepping up an offensive.
Zelensky also reported major battles taking place for Vuhledar, to the southwest of Donetsk's regional capital, and Bakhmut, to the northeast. Bakhmut has largely been pulverised by repeated Russian attacks.
Ukraine has been promised 321 heavy tanks by several countries, said its ambassador to France.
4:00am: 'Fierce' battle in Ukraine for Vuhledar near Donetsk
Ukrainian troops were locked in a "fierce" confrontation with Russian fighters Friday for control of the town of Vuhledar southwest of Donetsk as the two sides battle along the southern front.
Both sides claimed success in the small administrative centre of apartment blocks surrounded by flat fields, a short distance from the strategic prize of the village of Pavlivka.
"The encirclement and subsequent liberation of this city solves many problems," said Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-appointed leader of the Donetsk region. "Soon, Vuhledar may become a new, very important success for us," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
But Kyiv said the town, which had a pre-invasion population of around 15,000 people, remained contested. "There is fierce combat there," Ukrainian military spokesman Sergiy Cherevaty told local media.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
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