February 3, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Sana Noor Haq, Hannah Strange, Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:44 PM ET, Fri February 3, 2023
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7:43 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Number of Russian missile launching ships in the Black Sea has increased, Ukraine says 

From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Radina Gigova

The number of Russian ships capable of launching missiles on Ukrainian territory from the Black Sea has increased, the Ukrainian military's Operational Command South said in Facebook post Friday.

"Among the 10 ships are 2 Kalibr surface carriers. The total volley of missiles can be 16," reads the post. "Against the backdrop of intensified enemy reconnaissance drones, preparations for missile strikes are evident."

"A massive missile attack with the use of aircraft is not excluded. Do not ignore air raid warning signals, be vigilant and attentive," Operational Command South warns. 

CNN is unable to independently verify this assessment. 

7:48 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

EU to provide additional $27 million to support Ukraine’s de-mining of the liberated territories  

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Members of the Ukrainian National guard demining team Battalion Dnipro 1 walk in mine fields in the northern part of the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on December 12.
Members of the Ukrainian National guard demining team Battalion Dnipro 1 walk in mine fields in the northern part of the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on December 12. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The European Union will provide an additional $27 million to support Ukraine’s de-mining of the liberated territories that were temporarily occupied by Russian armed forces, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell announced Friday

“A large spread of mines and other explosive ordnances is being found in territories liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces. We will provide up to 25 million euros to support de-mining efforts in these endangered areas. Protecting civilians and their livelihood is a priority," Borrell said on the sidelines of the EU-Ukraine summit taking place in Kyiv.

These funds are on top of the $18 million allocated in 2022 for this purpose, a spokesman of the EU Commission told CNN.

The funding will include essential equipment for Ukrainian state mine action operators and support the capacities of the Ukrainian authorities to effectively manage the national mine action sector, the diplomatic service of the EU said Friday in a press release.

7:57 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN staff

Air raid sirens rang across Kyiv Friday, as European Union leaders prepared to meet in the Ukrainian capital amid President Volodymyr Zelensky's bid for accession to the bloc.

Here are the latest developments:

  • EU leaders in Kyiv: Top on the agenda for a summit between Zelensky and EU officials will be talks about Ukraine joining the bloc. The EU is a key ally for Kyiv in the face of Russia's invasion and it has accepted Ukraine as a candidate state, but Zelensky is unlikely to be offered the fast-track entry he is seeking amid a complicated accession process and widespread corruption in Ukraine.
  • Kramatorsk casualties rise: The death toll from repeated Russian missile strikes on the eastern Ukrainian city Thursday increased to four, with 18 others injured. Two S-300 missiles were fired at the city center, landing about a minute apart and less than a hundred meters from a CNN team. Two civilians were also killed in strikes elsewhere in the Donetsk region, as the battle for its control intensifies.
  • Kherson under attack: An onslaught of Russian shelling in the last 24 hours has killed two people and injured another nine in the liberated southern city, sparking three large fires overnight.
  • Berlin sanctions tanks delivery: The German government authorized manufacturers to send Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine, beginning the process of dispatching offensive armored vehicles to Kyiv and bolstering its military efforts against Russia's invasion.
6:54 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Analysis: Fears of Russian escalation spark calls for even more Western arms for Ukraine

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

A Polish Air Force F-16 performs during an airshow in Tukums, Latvia, on July 21, 2019. 
A Polish Air Force F-16 performs during an airshow in Tukums, Latvia, on July 21, 2019.  (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

Russia’s mass mobilization, looming offensive and missile-borne terror against civilians is triggering fresh calls for even greater Western lethal aid to Ukraine, days after leaders signed off on their latest package that included the first tanks.

A building public debate over whether to send F-16 fighter jets is resurfacing a dilemma underlying the entire NATO response: Is the aim of the United States and its allies simply to allow Ukraine to ensure its survival or is it to help it expel Russia from all its territory and to ensure the defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin?

The likely escalation in the war, close to its first anniversary, comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warns that Moscow is mustering its forces for a “revenge” attack against the free world. The sense that another turning point is approaching was, meanwhile, underscored Thursday by CIA Director William Burns.

“The key is going to be on the battlefield in the next six months, it seems to us,” Burns said at Georgetown University. This involves “puncturing Putin’s hubris, making clear that he’s not only not going to be able to advance further in Ukraine, but as every month goes by, he runs a greater and greater risk of losing the territory he’s illegally seized so far,” the CIA chief said.

Washington is hearing Ukraine’s calls for even more multi-billion dollar assistance. It is about to announce a new $2.2 billion haul that includes longer-range missiles for the first time, according to multiple US officials. CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Oren Liebermann reported that the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb — a guided missile with a range of 90 miles — will be included in the package. It could take weeks or months for the weapon to arrive, however, since the US will contract with American arms manufacturers to provide it.

Still, the latest US offering solidifies one of the most important and ironic consequences of the war. One of Putin’s perceived invasion goals was to forever sever the hopes of Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union, of joining NATO. It may not be a member of the alliance, but Ukraine is now waging a stronger-than-expected response against Moscow using some of the West’s most advanced military kit.

Read Collinson's full analysis here.

7:06 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Ukrainian intelligence official says he believes Putin aims to "capture Donbas by March"

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Dennis Lapin 

A Ukrainian intelligence official said he thinks fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next few months, as Russian President Vladimir Putin's goal is "to capture Donbas by March."

"We expect very active events in February-March. Putin's task is to capture Donbas by March," Andriy Yusov, a representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, said in remarks published Friday on its website.

CNN is not able to independently verify those claims. 

Yusov went on to say that this alleged plan "will not work" and that "these dates have already been postponed many times."

"The intensity that we are seeing in Donbas now is an attempt to implement these plans. Not counting the losses in manpower and equipment. The enemy is trying to fulfil the dictator's task," Yusov added. 

"So yes, there will be active events in the near future. The Ukrainian Defense Forces are not waiting around."

Andrii Chernyak, another representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, said earlier there are signs that Russia is preparing for a big offensive aimed at seizing eastern parts of the country.

"We observe that the Russian occupation forces are redeploying additional assault groups, units, weapons and military equipment to the east. According to Ukraine's military intelligence, Putin has ordered to seize the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by March," Cherniak said in commentary published in the Kyiv Post Wednesday.

The comments came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and senior Ukrainian officials warned Russia is planning a major new offensive in the coming months, repeatedly asking Western allies for more weapons, tanks and fighter jets. 

7:40 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Germany confirms approval of Leopard 1 battle tank deliveries to Ukraine

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

A Leopard 1 tank of the German Bundeswehr during military exercises in the field.
A Leopard 1 tank of the German Bundeswehr during military exercises in the field. (Egon Steiner/picture alliance/Getty Images)

The German government has authorized manufacturers to send Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine, beginning the process of dispatching offensive armored vehicles to Kyiv and bolstering its military efforts against Russia's invasion.

''I can confirm that an export license has been issued," Germany's government spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit, announced Friday. However, he declined to comment on the number of these tanks that would be exported.

The Leopard 1 had been in service since the 1960's until it was phased out in 2003, and it cannot keep up to the same extent as a Leopard 2 tank on the battlefield, according to Germany's armed forces spokesman Arne Collatz.

Remember: After longstanding pressure from NATO allies, Germany agreed in January to send 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine — a move that Kyiv hopes will be a game-changer on the battlefield. The decision of leaders from the US and Germany to send contingents of tanks to Ukraine marks a major moment of the nearly year-long war.

CNN's Kevin Liptak, Stephanie Halasz, Sophie Tanno and Sugam Pokharel contributed reporting.

6:14 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Two Ukrainian company officials under investigation for misappropriating nearly $3 million in Defense Ministry funds 

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Dennis Lapin 

Two heads of companies working with Ukraine's Defense Ministry are under investigation for misappropriating nearly UAH 120 million (or $3.23 million) from the department, as Kyiv makes efforts to bolster anti-corruption measures amid a prospective EU membership bid.

"Under the guise of supplying food to military units, the offenders transferred part of the funds to the bank account of a company they controlled. The total amount of stolen funds is over UAH 120 million," Ukraine's National Police said in a statement Friday. 

The heads of the two companies entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Defense to provide food for the personnel and the staff animals of military units, as well as food for military educational institutions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, "the criminals transferred part of the proceeds to the bank account of the company previously involved in the criminal activity," Ukraine's National Police said.  

The two company officials are charged with committing a crime under Part 5 of Art. 191 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which includes misappropriation, expropriation or seizure of property through abuse of office, committed in a particularly large scale. 

The defendants face imprisonment for a term of 7 to 12 years with confiscation of property, police added. 

The criminal activity was exposed by investigators from the Main Department of the National Police working jointly with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) under the procedural supervision of the Prosecutor General's Office, according to the statement. 

The revelations come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his government is working on “new reforms” that will make the country “more human, transparent and effective." Rooting out widespread corruption is an important part of its EU candidacy.

Zelensky has also fired a number of senior Ukrainian officials linked to corruption investigations related to the procurement of wartime supplies.

8:02 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Russian strikes spark three large fires in Kherson

From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Radina Gigova

Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters attend to a fire at a shopping center in Kherson, Ukraine, on February 3.
Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters attend to a fire at a shopping center in Kherson, Ukraine, on February 3. (LIBKOS/AP)

Russian shelling caused three large fires in Kherson overnight, after military forces attacked civilian settlements in the liberated southern city.

"Once again, the enemy chaotically shelled all neighborhoods almost all night. Rescuers extinguished fires under enemy fire," Ukraine's Emergency Service said on Telegram Friday. 

One of the fires broke out in the warehouse of a shopping center, it said.

"A shell hit the department with pyrotechnic products, so the fire was accompanied by explosions and fireworks, and the enemy started shelling again," the Emergency Service added. 

"The fire destroyed 8 pieces of equipment and racks of building materials adjacent to the building with a total area of 600 square meters."

Another fire was caused by a shell that hit a two-story residential building in one of the city's districts, while the third fire started after a shell hit a warehouse, according to the Emergency Service.

Kherson has come under an onslaught of Russian shelling in the last 24 hours, killing two people and injuring another nine -- including a five-year-old boy who was taken to hospital.

8:23 a.m. ET, February 3, 2023

Russian shelling kills two civilians in Donetsk region

From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Radina Gigova

Russian shelling left two people dead and injured another eight in Donetsk over the last 24 hours, as the battle for control of the eastern Ukrainian region escalates.

One of the deaths was reported in Bakhmut, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration. Two other people were wounded in the city.

A multi-story building, a private house and a shop were also damaged in Bakhmut, he said. 

The situation "remains tense" in several villages, including Paraskoviivka, Razdolivka and Vasyukivka, near the Russian-controlled town of Soledar, Kyrylenko added. 

Some context: Moscow has launched relentless attacks on eastern Ukraine in recent days, after a top Kyiv official said Russia is preparing for a “maximum escalation” of the nearly year-long war in Ukraine.

“These will be defining months in the war,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told Sky News in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

“I’m conscious the main fights are yet to come and they will happen this year, within two to three months,” he said.

“Russia is preparing for maximum escalation. It is gathering everything possible, doing drills and training. When it comes to an offensive from different directions, as of now, I can say that we are not excluding any scenario in the next two to three weeks.”

CNN's Jack Guy, Yulia Kesaieva, Mick Krever, Jonny Hallam and Josh Pennington contributed reporting.