February 17, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Amy Woodyatt, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Matt Meyer, Tori B. Powell and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 10:14 PM ET, Fri February 17, 2023
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5:58 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Russian shelling kills 5, injures 10 in Donetsk region, military governor says

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Russian shelling has killed 5 residents of the Donetsk region and injured 10 others over the last 24 hours, the Donetsk region military governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said in a Facebook post Friday.

The deaths occurred in the area of Horlivka, while the majority of the injuries occurred in the city of Bakhmut, Kyrylenko said.

In Bakhmut, 10 high-rise buildings, 3 private houses and an administrative building were damaged, he said.

Two houses were also damaged by Russian shelling in the city of Lyman.

Some of the heaviest shelling was also reported in the areas of Vuhledar and Soledar, Kyrylenko said.

5:45 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Kremlin says Washington "unlikely" to welcome Lukashenko’s suggestion of three-way summit with Putin and Biden

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko speaks as he meets with foreign media at the Independence Palace, in Minsk, Belarus, on February 16.
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko speaks as he meets with foreign media at the Independence Palace, in Minsk, Belarus, on February 16. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

The Kremlin said Friday that Washington is “unlikely” to welcome the initiative put forward by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to mediate talks between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is unlikely that Washington will respond positively to this initiative,” Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said during a regular press briefing.

Pressed further if the Kremlin is ready for such a meeting in principle, Peskov said: “President Putin is always ready for a dialogue with the president of Belarus, who will be in Moscow today.”

On Thursday, Lukashenko said he wants to host peace talks, calling on CNN to relay the message: “If Biden has a desire, pass on to him through your channels that we are ready to welcome him in Minsk and have a serious talk with him if he wishes for peace in Ukraine. Even Putin will fly to Minsk, and we can meet here, the three of us -- two aggressors and a peace-loving President. Why not?” 

Putin is expected to hold talks with Lukashenko in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence Friday. The two presidents are planning to consider “key issues of further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance, as well as integration cooperation within the framework of the Union State,” according to the Kremlin.

Read more:

5:36 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

World leaders gather ahead of war anniversary to discuss more support for Ukraine

By CNN staff

Boris Pistorius, German Minister of Defense, makes a statement in front of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof before the start of the 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, Germany, on February 17.
Boris Pistorius, German Minister of Defense, makes a statement in front of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof before the start of the 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, Germany, on February 17. (Sven Hoppe/picture alliance/Getty Images)

US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to join world leaders at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, where the war in Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron will be among those speaking Friday, the first day of the three-day summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will also appear by videolink.

The conference comes just ahead of the one-year anniversary of of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell are among other top officials in attendance.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Friday morning: "It has now been almost one year since Russia brought an imperialistic war to our continent. At the @MunSecConf, let us renew our commitment to a global order governed by the rule of law – not the right of might."

Russian government officials were not invited to this year’s annual MSC.

4:46 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Russian shelling kills 3 and injures 7 in Kherson region, regional authorities say

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Radina Gigova

Three people were killed and seven were injured by Russian shelling in Ukraine's Kherson region on Thursday, the Kherson region military administration said in a statement Friday.

Russian forces attacked Kherson region 76 times over the last 24 hours, the regional military administration said. "They fired from MLRS, mortars, artillery, tanks and UAVs," it added.

"The Russian army attacked Kherson city 9 times -- residential areas of the city once again came under enemy fire," the regional military administration said. 

"The occupiers hit the commercial port and residential buildings," the regional military administration added.

Some background: The regional capital of Kherson was captured last March in the early stages of Russia’s invasion, and many of its 290,000 citizens left then. In November, Ukrainian forces swept into the key city as Russian troops retreated to the east, delivering a major victory to Kyiv. Since then, Kherson has been the scene of Russian shelling, and many residents have fled, on the advice of Ukraine's administration.

4:00 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Russia-backed governor says Ukrainian drone shot down in Crimea

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Olga Voitovych 

A Ukrainian drone was shot down Friday morning near a power station in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, according to a local Russia-backed official.

Gov. Mikhail Razvozhaev said in a Telegram post that air defenses shot the drone down near the Balaklava thermal power plant and there was no damage to the facility.

It comes after two Ukrainian drones were shot down overnight into Thursday near Sevastopol and "several more" unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down over the waters around the Crimean Peninsula, according to Razvozhaev.

Razvozhaev claimed the Ukrainians "have not abandoned their attempts to strike important facilities for Sevastopol."

CNN cannot independently confirm Razvozhaev’s claim.

Some context: Sevastopol, along with the rest of Crimea, is internationally recognized as being part of Ukraine. It is the largest city in the peninsula and has been an important port and a major naval base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to “liberate” all of the country’s territory including Crimea, which has been under Russian occupation since 2014.

1:48 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Inside the Pentagon's plan to keep Ukraine armed

From CNN's Haley Britzky and Oren Liebermann in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Artillery shells are packed for shipping at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Pennsylvania on Thursday.
Artillery shells are packed for shipping at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Pennsylvania on Thursday. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Inside a sprawling factory just off the President Biden Expressway in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, the future arsenal of Ukraine’s war effort is being forged, one red hot artillery shell at a time.

Running full-tilt, as it was on a recent January morning, the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant churns out roughly 11,000 artillery shells a month. That may seem like a lot, but the Ukrainian military often fires that many shells over just a few days.

To meet that demand, the Scranton plant is undergoing a massive expansion, fueled by millions of dollars in new defense spending from the Pentagon. It’s investing in new high-tech machinery, hiring a few dozen additional workers and will eventually shift to a 24/7 schedule of constant production.

“It’s certainly ramped up over the last year. As we bring in more modern equipment, it’ll be able to ramp up even further,” said Todd Smith, senior director of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, which operates the plant for the Army.

“Intensity has gone up,” Smith added. “Let’s just put it that way.”

The US and its allies have already sent nearly $50 billion in aid and equipment to Ukraine’s military over the past year. To keep that up, and to rebuild its own stockpiles, the Pentagon is racing to re-arm, embarking on the biggest increase in ammunition production in decades, and putting portions of the US defense industry on a war-footing despite America technically not being at war.

Read the full story:

1:00 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Energy crisis sparked by war could push 141 million into extreme poverty, report says

From CNN's Tara Subramaniam

A Lotos gas station is seen in Gdansk, Poland on February 5.
A Lotos gas station is seen in Gdansk, Poland on February 5. (Michal Fludra/NurPhoto/Getty Images/FILE)

The energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine could push 141 million people worldwide into extreme poverty, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Nature Energy.

Researchers from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, China and the United States modeled the impacts of increased energy prices in 116 countries and found household spending increased up to 4.8% on average, as coal and natural gas prices surged after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, adding to post-pandemic increases.

In low-income countries, the report said poorer households already facing severe food shortages were at greater risk of poverty due to higher energy costs. Households in higher income countries also felt the impact of rising energy prices but were more likely to be able to absorb them into household budgets, the report said.

Read the full story here.

12:49 a.m. ET, February 17, 2023

Russian strikes kill 5 civilians near embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Amy Cassidy

Russian strikes around the fiercely embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut left three men and two women dead Thursday, according to a regional official, and nine other civilians also sustained various wounds from shrapnel.

The five civilians killed varied in age between 32 and 66, according to a statement published online by the Donetsk region prosecutor's office.

The statement said the shelling also damaged many residential buildings.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk appealed to the civilians who remain in Bakhmut to leave the city immediately.

"Frankly speaking, I am very surprised that there are still 6,000 civilians there (in Bakhmut)," she wrote on Telegram citing the latest data.

"Those who choose to stay in Bakhmut are endangering themselves and loved ones," creating additional risks for the military and police, and "preventing our defense and security forces from working properly in the city," she said.

8:01 p.m. ET, February 16, 2023

Zelensky rules out conceding territory in potential future peace deal with Russia, he tells BBC News

From CNN's Allegra Goodwin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would not agree to give up any Ukrainian territory in a potential future peace deal with Russia, he said in an interview with BBC News, warning it could lead Russia to "keep coming back."

"Any territorial compromises would make us weaker as a state," Zelensky told BBC News. "It's not about compromise itself. Why would we fear that? There are millions of compromises in life. The question is with whom? Compromise with Putin? No. Because there's no trust."

Zelensky also said a spring offensive, warned of by Kyiv officials, had already begun.

"Russian attacks are already happening from several directions," he said.

He also responded to comments made at a Thursday news conference by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in which Lukashenko insisted he would not send troops into Ukraine unless Belarus itself is attacked.

"I hope [Belarus] won't join [the war]," Zelensky told BBC News. "If it does, we will fight and we will survive."

Zelensky added it would be a "huge mistake" to allow Russia to use Belarus as a staging area for an attack.