February 6, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 12:58 a.m. ET, February 7, 2023
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5:20 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023

No change in Ukraine defense minister expected this week, says parliamentary leader

From CNN's Masha Kostenko and Mick Krever

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is not expected to be replaced this week, according to the leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s parliamentary faction.

David Arakhamia appears to be tempering remarks he made on Sunday, when he announced that Reznikov would be moved to the Ministry of Strategic Industries, and that the current head of defense intelligence, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, would head up the Ministry of Defense.

“No personnel changes in the defense are expected this week,” Arakhamia said in a Telegram post Monday.

On Sunday, Reznikov told Ukrainian news outlet Fakty ICTV that the idea that he was being moved between ministries was “news to me,” but that he served at the pleasure of the president.

Rumors about Reznikov’s position have amplified in recent weeks, as probes into procurement decisions at the defense ministry continue.

8:43 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023

Ukraine's defense minister responds to reports he is being replaced

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Jonny Hallam

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov holds a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 5.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov holds a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 5. (Oleksii Chumachenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was asked to comment on rumors that he could be replaced.

"No official stays in office forever. Not a single one. So one should be ready at any time for this stage to end," Reznikov told reporters in Kyiv on Sunday.

"The decision whether I will be or won't be the Minister of Defense is made by one person - the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky," Reznikov said.

"Therefore, I will make certain decisions only upon the decision of the President of Ukraine. And then, again, I will do what the President of Ukraine offers me, I will do everything for our victory." he added.

The formal process to replace Ukraine's defense minister requires that Zelensky first ask parliament to remove the minister. Ukrainian lawmakers then hold a vote on the proposal. Afterwards Zelensky will then propose a new defense minister which the lawmakers also need to vote to approve. This could happen in the coming days.

On Wednesday last week, officials from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said they had charged the Ministry of Defense’s former head for procurement with embezzlement over the purchase of thousands of substandard protective vests.

The official spent the equivalent of $2.7 million on almost 3,000 "bulletproof vests" for the Ukrainian armed forces which were later found to be unable to “properly protect Ukrainian soldiers.”

The SBU said that the official was charged with “misappropriation, embezzlement or seizure of property through abuse of office,” obstruction of the armed forces, and “committing a criminal offense by a group of persons.”

The SBU said that the individual faced five to eight years in prison and had recalled the sub-standard body armor.

“In addition, the SBU is conducting investigative actions against other officials in the security and defense sector who may be involved in illegal activities that harm state security. This is a set of measures aimed at strengthening the defense capabilities of our state," the SBU said at the time.

The charges come after Zelensky fired a slew of senior Ukrainian officials since late January amid a growing corruption scandal linked to the procurement of war-time supplies, in the biggest shakeup of his government since Russia’s invasion began.

CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Mick Krever and Jack Guy contributed reporting.

8:10 p.m. ET, February 5, 2023

Russian forces allegedly burn Ukrainian books in occupied Luhansk

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Russian forces allegedly seized and burned Ukrainian books in public and school libraries in the Luhansk region, the Ukrainian National Resistance Centre said.  

Luhansk was one of four regions annexed last autumn by Russia, in a process that is illegal under international law. The region is run by Russian-backed separatists who have claimed it as the "Luhansk People's Republic."

In a statement posted on its website Sunday, the National Resistance Center, which is run by Ukraine's Special Forces, said books have been "seized from the collections of public and school libraries" in the eastern Ukrainian region. 

"In Rovenky (Luhansk region), cases of mass burning of Ukrainian literature in local boiler rooms have been recorded," the statement added. 

The Education Ministry of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic sent a 365-item list to the heads of city and district administrations and educational organizations. They were advised to remove the listed books from their libraries, the statement added.  

Ukrainian officials have spoken out about the pressure placed on educators in occupied areas to adapt school programs to align with pro-Russian rhetoric. 

Nina, a 48-year-old school principal, recounted to CNN last May how Russian forces arrived at her school in northeastern Ukraine and forced her to hand over all history textbooks and quizzed her on the school's curriculum. She did not give her last name.

CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Oleksandra Ochman contributed to this report.

4:46 a.m. ET, February 6, 2023

Ukrainian military to start training on Leopard tanks on Monday, defense minister says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Stephanie Halasz

Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 5.
Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 5. (Daniel Cole/AP)

Ukrainian troops will begin training with German-made Leopard tanks from Monday, according to Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Speaking at a news conference in Kyiv, Reznikov also warned of an upcoming Russian offensive to coincide with the first anniversary of Moscow's invasion.

“We expect an offensive. It's February, and Russians love symbolism. We expect this pressure from them, and we are ready,” he said.

On Thursday, US officials said the US was expected to announce a new Ukraine security package worth approximately $2.2 billion that will include longer-range missiles in a first for the country.

But these will not reach the distance Ukraine is asking for out of fear longer-ranging weapons — like the sought after ATACMS missile —  will be used to hit targets in Russia.

“I want to emphasize that we promise our partners not to use long-range systems to hit targets on Russian territory, only on the Ukrainian territory which Russians occupied,” Reznikov said.

7:51 p.m. ET, February 5, 2023

Analysis: Bitter harvest of freedom and victory as Kherson suffers Russian bombardment

Analysis from CNN's Sam Kiley in Kherson, Ukraine

Gone are the acres of jubilant crowds that filled Freedom Square with blue and yellow Ukrainian flags that swayed like heads of wheat when the Russians were driven out. Now the crack-crunch of Russian artillery eating into the city echoes around the plaza.

The harvest of victory in the fall has been a bitter winter.

In the previous 48 hours, Kherson had endured more than 130 strikes by rockets, artillery, mortars and even direct tank fire across the Dnieper River from Russian forces. Four people were killed in the same period, another dozen or more wounded.

Several warehouses were also set ablaze. One of them stored fireworks — bizarre goods to store amid shelling. But also a symbol of hope, in the face of bloody experience, that there may be something more to celebrate, sometime.

The regional capital was captured last March in the early stages of Russia’s invasion. Many of its 290,000 citizens left then. More appear to have fled since it was liberated in November. Ukraine’s administration implored them to leave since then to escape the Russian shelling.

Young mothers, pensioners and a handful of drunks scuttle and stagger as fast as they can across Freedom Square to catch buses. Time above ground, just a few hundreds meters from the river, is time spent in mortal danger — especially here.

Read the full analysis here.

7:34 p.m. ET, February 5, 2023

Colorado State apologizes for "Russia" chant at Utah State's Ukrainian player during basketball game

From CNN's Wayne Sterling and Alaa Elassar

Colorado State University has apologized to Utah State’s Ukrainian junior guard after spectators chanted "Russia" toward him at a men’s basketball game in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday night.

“We became aware that a small group of individuals in our student section chanted ‘Russia’ at a student-athlete from Utah State, who is from the Ukraine. On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State,” the school wrote in a series of tweets early Sunday.

The chant could be heard when Max Shulga, who is from Kyiv, went to the free throw line late in the game.

Read more here.