Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
February 13, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news
By Brad Lendon, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales and Mike Hayes, CNN
In photos: Ukrainian soldiers begin training on Leopard 2 tanks in Poland
From CNN Digital's Photo Team
Polish President Andrzej Duda and Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak visited the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade in Świętoszów, Poland, on Monday and met with Polish instructors and Ukrainian soldiers training on Leopard 2 A4 tanks.
Here's a look:
Moldova's president accuses Russia of plotting to destabilize the country
From CNN's Radina Gigova in London
Moldova's President Maia Sandu accused Russia on Monday of planning to use "saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians" to destabilize the country, echoing a claim made days earlier by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"In the past few days, there have been discussions in our society about the security of our country," Sandu said in an address to the citizens of Moldova, published on the presidential website. "The statements of President Zelensky about the plans of the Russian Federation to destabilize the Republic of Moldova have been confirmed by our institutions."
"Russia's plan to carry out subversive actions on the territory of our state is not new," she said. "Attempts to destabilize the situation and undermine the state were also made last autumn, but they did not achieve their goal thanks to the prompt intervention of our security and public order agencies."
Sandu went on to say that last fall, in anticipation of an energy crisis, there was a plan for "a series of actions involving saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings and hostage-taking."
Sandu also claimed individuals disguised as "the so-called opposition" were going to try forcing a change of power in Chisinau through "violent actions."
CNN is unable to independently verify those claims.
Some more context: On Thursday, Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence intercepted a Russian plan to destabilize Moldova.
On Friday, the prime minister of Moldova and her cabinet resigned – just hours after a Russian cruise missile crossed over the country's territory. The foreign ministry summoned Russia's ambassador over what it said was an "unacceptable violation of our airspace by a Russian missile.".
CNN also reached out to the Russian foreign ministry for comment on the allegations by Sandu and Zelensky.
German foreign minister calls on Turkey and Hungary to swiftly ratify Finland and Sweden's bids to join NATO
From CNN's Inke Kappeler and Lauren Kent
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday called on Turkey and Hungary to swiftly ratify Finland and Sweden's bids to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“I made it clear over recent months with regard to all NATO members, especially the two who haven't ratified yet, that it is not only in the spirit of an alliance to ratify swiftly, but also that it will make us stronger as an alliance,“ Baerbock said during a joint press conference with her Finnish counterpart in Helsinki.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto added, "On NATO accession – we are waiting for the two last ratifications Hungary and Turkey," adding that he hoped fulfilling "all those conditions that were set by Turkey" would lead “to a very rapid ratification process."
Haavisto said he hopes both Finland and Sweden can become NATO members by the middle of the summer, adding that "the conflict is not far away from us."
The two Nordic countries announced their intention to join NATO in May 2022, ending decades of neutrality after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused a sudden shift in attitudes toward joining the bloc.
Some more context: All 30 NATO member states must ratify their bids to join the bloc; however, Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve them.
Turkish-Swedish relations suffered a major blow in late January after a rally outside the Turkish Embassy in Helsinki at which an anti-immigration politician set alight a copy of the Quran. The incident sparked anger in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where protesters took to the streets and burned the Swedish flag outside the Swedish embassy in response.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said he has a positive view on Finland's entry to NATO, but not on Sweden's "as long as it permits attacks on Islam's holy book Quran," according to state news agency Anadolu. Turkey has also said Sweden must take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.
CNN's Jack Guy and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting to this post.
Ukrainian authorities claim Russia is "sabotaging inspections" of vessels heading to their ports
From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Lauren Kent
Ukraine's Ministry of Infrastructure said that Russia is "sabotaging inspections" of vessels heading to Ukrainian ports to load up agricultural products, noting that "the number of new vessels entering for loading continues to decrease" in the ports of Greater Odesa.
"Such decreasing dynamics are due to Russia’s actions in the inspection zone in the Bosphorus. It is now three months in a row that Russians are sabotaging inspections for unsubstantiated and sometimes preposterous reasons," the Ministry of Infrastructure claimed in a statement on social media.
There are 145 vessels in line for inspection by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) as of February 12, and 122 of those are heading to Ukrainian ports to get agricultural produce, the Ministry of Infrastructure said.
CNN has reached out to the Joint Coordination Centre, the UN initiative that oversees the export of Ukrainian grain, for comment.
"It is our hope that the issue of impeded inspections will be resolved by our partners and the entire civilized world," the ministry statement added. "Ukraine has the right to free trade navigation under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the world has the right to continuous access to food. Russia must stop imposing its discriminatory policies on the world."
Ukrainian military says Russian forces converted two hospitals for military use in Luhansk region
From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv
Russian forces have converted two hospitals for military use in the eastern Luhansk region, according to the Ukrainian military’s General Staff.
"Due to a vast number of sanitary losses [wounded] among the invaders, the maternity clinic in the occupied Luhansk is being used for the treatment of the Russian military. Children’s Hospital #3 was also converted into a military hospital," the Ukrainian General Staff said in one of its regular updates.
Earlier on Monday, the Ukrainian leader of the Luhansk region said Russia continues a high pace of attacks in the region, in what is a prelude to “massive attacks.”
With previous reporting from Mick Krever in London
Zelensky thanks Norwegian prime minister for new defense package
From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Lauren Kent
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Norwegian prime minister Monday for a new defense package and discussed "further cooperation" with Norway, he said in a Telegram post.
"I had a phone call with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. I thanked for the new defense package that will strengthen us on land, in the sky and at sea," Zelensky said. "I am also grateful for the substantial 5-year aid package that is being prepared for approval in Norway. We discussed our further cooperation. Victorious together!"
Last month, Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said in a statement that the country is in "close dialogue" with allies and Ukraine on how they can contribute "in the best possible way." Norway is also contributing to allies' efforts to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Ukrainian official disputes Russia's claim of capturing village near Bakhmut
From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv
Ukraine on Monday disputed Russia's claim that it had captured the village of Krasna Hora near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
The claim that Russians have taken Krasna Hora "is not true," Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told CNN. "There are ongoing battles there. We are keeping it under our control."
Cherevatyi added that Bakhmut remains the focus of Russia's main attacks.
"The enemy made 85 attacks in the Bakhmut sector. There were 33 combat engagements. In the area of the city of Bakhmut, there were 25 attacks and 19 combat engagements," Cherevatyi told CNN.
Cherevatyi said Russian forces have the ability to fire on the routes to Bakhmut, adding that "we are engaged in counter-battery fighting to reduce it."
"We have the ability to supply weapons, food, equipment, medicines and to evacuate the wounded from there," he said.
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said in a Telegram post on Monday that "the battle for Bakhmut continues."
"The enemy is constantly changing tactics. Sometimes it attacks with small assault groups, sometimes it uses dozens of mobilized soldiers to attack. Sometimes it intensifies shelling at night, systematically hits rear cities with rockets, terrorizes civilians, and undermines civilian infrastructure," the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine said. "Sometimes, the occupier seems to be stronger and more numerous. However, it has one big weakness: it is playing on someone else's field, fighting for someone else's land. And this is what promises the invader a big failure."
What Russia is saying: The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday echoed claims by the Russian private military group Wagner that Krasna Hora has been captured.
“In the Donetsk direction, the volunteers of the assault detachments, with fire support from the rocket troops and artillery of the Southern group of troops, liberated the settlement of Krasna Hora in the Donetsk People's Republic," the statement from the daily briefing of the ministry said.
Moscow's claims come as Russian forces continue to attempt to encircle the city. Krasna Hora lies on the main north-south road leading to Bakhmut. It sits just below Soledar, the town that Russian forces captured last month.
Russian human rights ombudsman asks for investigation into mistreatment of mobilized soldiers
From CNN's Katharina Krebs
Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova on Monday asked the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov to investigate the information that mobilized men from Tatarstan were allegedly sent to fight in Ukraine "practically without weapons."
This follows a video published on social networks in which about two dozen men in camouflage uniforms say that upon arrival to Ukraine, they were divided into different units, transferred to the command of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and sent on a mission without any equipment or support.
"We were handed over to the leadership of the DPR. The local leadership does not care about us, we are seen here as expendable material. Their motto is: we fight to the last soldier, and then they will be sent new ones," said one of the mobilized men in the video shared on social media. "When we arrived here, we were divided into different units, they took away all the equipment and humanitarian aid from us. On February 5, we were sent to attack without any preparation."
Moskalkova said in a statement on Monday, “I sent an appeal to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, with a request to investigate the information that appeared on the network that soldiers mobilized from the Republic of Tatarstan were sent to perform combat missions as part of a special military operation with virtually no weapons."
The Russian Human Rights Council — serving under Russian President Vladimir Putin — also reported that they will look into another case regarding mobilized men from Smolensk, who turned to the council with a complaint about the actions of the military command.
“I received such an appeal, and I managed to give it a go through the HRC channels: an inspection has been scheduled. Therefore, if any of you are faced with similar issues, reach out. At least we will help someone,” said Eva Merkacheva, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.
According to Merkacheva, the mobilized soldiers from Smolensk were immediately sent to the front lines, where they stayed for three months. Following that, they were briefly sent to the rear and returned back to the front lines. They were not allowed "neither physically nor mentally to rest."
The Human Rights Council said in a statement that they "will monitor this egregious situation with the mobilized."
What former Wagner fighters saying: Two former fighters of the Russian private military company Wagner have told CNN of their horrific experiences on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, and how anyone who faltered was immediately shot by their own commanders.
The two fighters were captured by Ukrainian forces late last year. CNN is not disclosing their identities for their own safety. Both are married with children and were recruited while in prison. One was serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter.
CNN's Tim Lister and Frederik Pleitgen contributed reporting to this post.