February 2, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Eliza Mackintosh, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:11 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023
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4:53 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

US expected to include longer-range missiles in new $2.2 billion Ukraine aid package, sources say

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Kevin Liptak

The US is expected to include longer-range missiles in a new Ukraine security package worth approximately $2.2 billion, according to a senior administration official and multiple US officials.

The package will include a commitment to provide Ukraine with the Ground-launched Small Diameter Bomb, a guided missile with a range of 90 miles, two officials said.

Though the missiles will effectively double the range of Ukrainian weaponry, the package won’t include the long sought-after ATACMS missile with a range in excess of 200 miles. The US has constantly rebuffed Ukraine’s requests for that system over concerns they may be used to hit targets deep inside Russia.

This is the first security package since the US committed to providing Ukraine with advanced M-1 Abrams tanks in January — a decision made in concert with European countries providing German-made Leopard 2 tanks.   

The package, which could be announced as early as Friday, will be split between $500 million in weapons and equipment pulled directly from US inventories and approximately $1.7 billion in supplies purchased from military contractors, known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

Details of the package were first reported by Reuters.

On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Olivia Dalton said there would be another announcement of security assistance to Ukraine “soon” without providing further details.

Some background: The Ground-launched Small Diameter Bomb, which is fired from a HIMARS rocket launcher, has an effective range of some 90 miles, according to Saab, the company that developed the weapon in conjunction with Boeing.

That’s more than twice the range of the GMLRS munitions that Ukraine currently launches from the HIMARS rocket launchers. The long-range missile then unfolds small wings and uses a rocket engine to fly toward its target. 

But the new weapon will not arrive in Ukraine immediately, since it will not come directly out of US inventories. Instead, the US will contract with the weapons manufacturers to provide the long-range missile to Ukraine, a process which could take weeks or months.

The package also includes ammunition for artillery and HIMARS, as well as support systems and equipment for the Patriot missile system, one official said. Ukrainian forces have not completed training on the Patriot system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma – but the US is making sure the logistics and maintenance are in place well before the first Patriot battery is operational in Ukraine, the official said.

Within the last month, the US has announced three of the largest aid packages to Ukraine in a sign of ongoing support as the war nears its one-year mark. 

3:50 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Number of people wounded in latest attack on Kramatorsk rises to 7

From CNN's Tim Lister, Fred Pleitgen and Sana Noor Haq

At least seven people were wounded in Thursday's attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration.

That included one person who was critically injured and is currently undergoing surgery, the leader said in an evening update. Officials hope to soon move him to the nearest safe hospital outside the region.

Most residents of the buildings that were hit by missiles in the city center had already left to seek temporary accommodation in safer areas, Kyrylenko added.

“Such a relatively small number of victims indicates that only 15% of those who lived in these buildings before stayed there (at the moment of the strike). That is, most of the residents had left," he said.

Kyrylenko urged those remaining in the city to evacuate.

Officials said earlier Thursday that the latest barrage of missiles damaged 13 two-story buildings, three four-story buildings, a children's clinic and school, garages and cars.

A CNN team had just arrived at the scene and heard the first incoming strike on Kramatorsk. CNN saw the second attack, with two impacts about one minute apart.

Thursday's assault followed a pair of missile strikes that killed at least three people in the city Wednesday night. Rescue operations had still been underway when the latest bombardment rocked Kramatorsk.

3:31 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

White House not opposed to allowing Russian and Belarus athletes to compete as individuals in Olympics

From CNN's Sam Fossum

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre talks to reporters during the daily news conference February 2 in Washington, DC.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre talks to reporters during the daily news conference February 2 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The White House does not object to allowing athletes from Russia or Belarus from taking part in the 2024 Summer Games and 2026 Winter Games — as long as it is "absolutely clear" that they are not representing their home countries, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.

She reiterated that current sanctions against Russia and Belarus must remain in place. 

"In cases where sports organizations and event organizers, such as the International Olympic Committee, choose to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in supporting events, it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states," Jean-Pierre said, adding that the use of any official Russian or Belarusian flags, emblems or anthems should be prohibited.

She continued: 

"The United States has supported suspending Russia and Belarus' sport national governing bodies from International Sports Federation, removing individuals closely aligned to the Russian and Belarusian states, including government officials from positions of influence in international sport federations such as boards and organizing committees, encouraging national and international sports organizations to suspend and broadcasting of sports competition into Russia and Belarus." 

Some background: The White House's comments come after the International Olympic Committee outlined a multi-step plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate at the upcoming games as neutrals, which has drawn public outcry from Kyiv.   

“No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” the IOC’s executive board declared at the time. 

The IOC this week said it would stand by sanctions imposed on both countries following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has decried what it called "defamatory" statements

Ukrainian government officials and star athletes like Ukrainian tennis star and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina have called for Russian athletes to be banned from qualifying for the upcoming games. 

“With this in mind, we must stick to banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, sending a strong message worldwide, that we are united in the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for the heinous acts of their governments; their lives cannot continue as normal and the world, nor the Russian or Belarusian people can be ignorant of the atrocities they are committing in Ukraine,” Svitolina said Wednesday. 

Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned by many sporting federations following a previous recommendation by the IOC. 

2:55 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Ukrainian military claims Russian forces are preparing covert mobilization in Donetsk

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Russian forces are preparing for a "covert mobilization" in the eastern Donetsk region, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Thursday on its official Facebook page

"In the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk region, Russia is preparing for covert mobilization. In particular, in the city of Horlivka, all budget and communal institutions were ordered to submit lists of necessary persons to the occupation military commissariat. All these people will be examined by special commissions of the enemy, with subsequent conscription into the ranks of the enemy," it said in the statement.

Russian forces continue "active reconnaissance and preparation for an offensive in several directions,” it said, adding that "offensive operations" continue toward Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiiv and Novopavliv.

For context: Ukrainian officials have repeatedly warned that Russia planned on using its claimed annexations as a pretext to draft Ukrainians in occupied areas. In October, the military said Russian forces were carrying out “door-to-door” checks in occupied areas, looking for young men of conscription age.

2:05 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Kherson official says Ukrainian Armed Forces are countering increased shelling of residential areas

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Kostan Nechyporenko 

A top Kherson official said the Ukrainian Armed Forces are "working very well" to counter increased shelling of residential areas in the southern Ukrainian city.  

Two people were killed and seven wounded by overnight shelling from Wednesday into Thursday, according to Yurii Sobolevskyi, the first deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council. Sobolevskyi said on a Ukrainian national telethon Thursday that all of the injured are currently in the hospital. 

"The enemy continues to shell mostly residential areas — private households and areas with high-rise apartment buildings. It's definitely not military targets," he added.  

He declined to speculate as to whether the intensification in shelling could be linked to a possible Russia plan to carry out an offensive on Feb. 24.

"We are keeping silent on the movement of their forces, the accumulation of their forces at the request of our military. We see some movement, some concentration. But I am sure that our armed forces are well aware of what is happening and are ready for any scenario," he added. 

He stressed that Ukrainian forces are "working very well" to destroy military targets on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river and fend off the groups that have attempted to enter Ukrainian territory. 

Remember: Russian troops withdrew from the western half from Kherson in early November 2022.

3:01 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Ukraine’s defense chief pledges not to strike Russian territory if given long-range missiles by allies 

From Victoria Butenko and Lindsay Isaac

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov speaks during a press conference in Paris on January 31.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov speaks during a press conference in Paris on January 31. (Julie Sebadelha/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Ukraine's minister of defense said the country will provide guarantees that it would not strike Russia should it receive the long-range missiles it has been asking its allies for.

“As Ukraine needs long-range missiles that will not allow the enemy to maintain defenses and force them to lose, it is ready to coordinate targets with partners," Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov said at a meeting with the European Commission Thursday, state media Ukriniform reports. 

Reznikov called on other countries to help Ukraine establish anti-missile defense capabilities. He emphasized the need to get Patriot and SAMP/T systems at the first opportunity, along with more IRIS-T and NASAMS, which are both air defense systems.

"If we had the opportunity to strike at a range of 300 kilometers (about 186 miles), the Russian army would not be able to maintain defenses and would be forced to lose. Ukraine is ready to provide any guarantees that your weapons will not be involved in attacks on Russian territory. We have enough targets in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and are ready to coordinate targets with our partners," he said.

Ukraine also needs to increase the amount of artillery, shells and weapons capable of surpassing and destroying Russian e-warfare and air defense systems, he added. Ukraine will receive Western battle tanks after a long negotiation and is seeking fighter jets to push back against Russian and pro-Moscow forces.

4:59 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

It's nighttime in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN staff

An international center for the prosecution of the "crime of aggression” in Ukraine will be set up in The Hague, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced on Thursday. 

“Russia must be held accountable in court for its odious crimes. Prosecutors from Ukraine and the European Union are already working together. We are collecting evidence, and as a first step I’m pleased to announce that an international center for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine will be set up in The Hague,” von der Leyen said in Kyiv, speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

The UN has defined aggression as "the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.”

“This center will coordinate the collection of evidence, it will be embedded in the joint investigation team which is supported by our agency Eurojust [the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation],” von der Leyen said. 

Here are the latest developments:

  • Missiles rip through Kramatorsk: At least five people were wounded and the strikes damaged 13 two-story buildings, three four-story buildings, a children's clinic and school, garages and cars, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk region military administration. A CNN team had just arrived at the scene and heard the first incoming strike on Kramatorsk. CNN saw the second attack, with two impacts about one minute apart. Two women jumped from their car and ran yelling while other civilians took shelter wherever they could. Shrapnel bounced off the blastproof glass of one CNN vehicle. 
  • Zelensky calls for more sanctions against Russia: Zelensky called on Thursday for more punitive measures against Russia by the European Union and said he had discussed a 10th EU sanctions package with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “And now the pace of sanctions has somehow slowed down in Europe, and the terrorist state on the contrary is adapting to the sanctions, and we need to catch up. We need to correct this,” Zelensky said, speaking alongside EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who is in Kyiv on an official visit along with bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and other officials.
  • Polish prime minister says he is open to sending fighter jets to Ukraine: Poland would be ready to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets if NATO partners collectively decide to do so, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview with German daily newspaper Die Bild published Thursday.  "If this was a decision of the whole of NATO, I would be in favor of sending these fighter jets," he said. He added, "My assessment is based on what NATO countries decide together," the Polish leader said, stressing that Russia's invasion of Ukraine ''is a very serious war,” in which Poland and other NATO countries “are not participating.” Top Ukrainian officials have in recent days escalated their public lobbying campaign for US-made F-16 fighter jets, arguing they need them urgently to defend against Russian missile and drone attacks.  

1:20 p.m. ET, February 2, 2023

CNN reporter describes the moment a missile "hit about 40 or 50 yards away from where we were"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A police officer inspects a hole after a rocket strike, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on February 2.
A police officer inspects a hole after a rocket strike, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on February 2. (Yasuyoshi/ Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

CNN is on the ground at Kramatorsk, where Russian missiles struck on Thursday, right after Wednesday's attack killed at least three people in the eastern Ukrainian city.

As the CNN crew arrived in Kramatorsk on Thursday — it had just parked their car and gotten out — there was a Russian attack targeted at the building that the team had parked in front of.

"The first missile hit about 40 or 50 yards away from where we were. It was a giant blast. You could also tell it was a very big missile," CNN's Fred Pleitgen said.

Like a lot of people, the team tried to make its way to safety.

"As we were going there, I turned around and looked up and I saw the second missile hit the exact same building once again," he said.

The missile used in this attack is typically used to shoot down airplanes, Pleitgen explained.

"If they are used against the ground targets, they are very inaccurate. And of course, if they are used against ground targets in densely populated urban centers, it makes things all the more dangerous," he reported.

Watch CNN's reporting from the ground:

10:40 a.m. ET, February 2, 2023

Putin on Western tanks: "We are not sending our tanks to their borders, but we have something to answer with"

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the West was threatening Russia “again” with German-made Leopard fighter tanks. 

“Those who are dragging European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, especially by irresponsibly declaring this as a fait accompli, those who expect to defeat Russia on the battlefield, apparently do not understand that a modern war with Russia will be completely different for them. We are not sending our tanks to their borders, but we have something to answer with. And it will not end with the use of armored vehicles,” he said, speaking at an event in the southwestern Russian city of Volgograd to mark 80th anniversary of Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad.

In January, Vadym Omelchenko, Kyiv’s ambassador to France, said that Western countries were planning to send 300 tanks to Ukraine.

“As of today, numerous countries have officially confirmed their agreement to deliver 321 heavy tanks to Ukraine,” Omelchenko told French TV station and CNN affiliate BFM television.

He did not specify which countries would provide the tanks or provide a breakdown of which models.

The US has pledged to provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks and Germany agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 A6s. Previously the United Kingdom has pledged 14 Challenger 2 tanks, while Poland has asked for approval from Germany to transfer some of its own German-made Leopard 2s to Ukraine.

Here's more on the Leopard 2 tanks pledged to Kyiv:

CNN's Pierre Meilhan and Heather Chen contributed to this post.