(NEW YORK) — One year after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine, both sides are still fighting for control of areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian troops have liberated nearly 30,000 square miles of their territory from Russian forces since the invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022, but Putin appears to be preparing for a long and bloody war. Tens of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have already died on the battlefield, while Ukrainian civilians continue to be terrorized by Russian missiles.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Feb 27, 11:58 AM EST
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen makes surprise visit to Kyiv
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited Kyiv Monday and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reaffirm the U.S.’s financial support to Ukraine.
Yellen announced $1.25 billion in economic and budgetary assistance, which helps the Ukrainian government continue to run, funds payroll for soldiers on the front lines and shores up critical infrastructure, according to the Treasury Department.
“I bring to Kyiv a clear message from President Biden and the American people: We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Yellen said in her remarks during her sitdown with Zelenskyy.
Yellen told Zelenskyy that the U.S. will provide over $8 billion in this type of assistance “over the coming months,” according to the Treasury Department. A readout of the meeting stated the U.S. will provide $9.9 billion total during the first three quarters of 2023.
Feb 25, 2:27 PM EST
Russian strike damages clinic, injuring one: Ukrainian official
One person was injured after a Russian missile hit a medical clinic in the town of Krasnotorka, Ukraine, in the eastern Donetsk oblast, Ukrainian regional military chief Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Facebook post.
Feb 24, 6:20 PM EST
Zelenskyy says he’s open to meet with Chinese president
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a press conference in Kyiv on Friday he would like to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Zelenskyy said he’d like to talk about the Chinese government’s offer to discuss a peace agreement in detail, “because it’s about our country.” However, the president noted that the Chinese government hasn’t directly talked to Ukrainian’s government.
“The first point of their plan is ‘recognition of national sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ but they didn’t even mention the country. I hope they meant us, Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said. “If it’s us, everybody understands that territorial integrity can be achieved by withdrawal of Russian troops from all occupied territories.”
Zelenskyy said it is “priority number one” for him to prevent China from providing Russia with weapons for the ongoing conflict.
“I believe China is going to side with the idea of fair peace, peace and fairness which is our side,” he added.
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman
Feb 24, 5:42 PM EST
Nearly 200k Russian troops killed or wounded so far: Western officials
Western officials have provided a more detailed look at the scope of losses for Russia since its invasion began a year ago.
The range of Russian casualties is believed to be between 180,000 and 200,000, which includes killed and wounded figures, a U.S. official told ABC News. The official cautioned that this number is all inexact but also includes Wagner forces.
The ratio of wounded to killed soldiers is three to one among estimated Russian casualties of 175,000 to 200,000, Western officials told ABC News on Feb. 21.
On the Ukrainian side, there are “at least 100,000” Ukrainian casualties in the war so far with a ratio of 20 wounded soldiers to every dead soldier, Western officials said on Feb. 21.
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez, Elle Kaufman and Zoe Magee
Feb 24, 3:19 PM EST
White House says Iran’s support for Russia is expanding
The White House is now warning that Iran’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is “expanding” with the country sending additional military aid in November with the expectation that more will be obtained.
“In November, Iran shipped artillery and tank rounds to Russia for use in Ukraine,” White House spokesperson John Kirby said Friday. “Russia is planning to cooperate with Iran to obtain more military equipment.”
In return, Kirby said that Russia “has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics and air defense.”
“We believe that Russia might provide Iran with fighter jets. Iran is also seeking to purchase additional military equipment from Russia including attack helicopters, radars and combat trainer aircraft. In total, Iran is seeking billions of dollars of military equipment from Russia,” Kirby said.
-ABC News’ Justin Gomez
Feb 24, 2:34 PM EST
Ukraine accuses Russia of conducting ‘state sponsored kidnapping of children’
Ukraine accused Russia of conducting state-sponsored kidnapping of children, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement to the United Nations Security Council on Friday.
“The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis brought on by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine cannot be overstated. I would like to highlight here one of numerous horrendous facts – Russia is now implementing in Ukraine probably the largest instance of state sponsored kidnapping of children in history of our modern world,” Kuleba said.
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman
Feb 24, 12:21 PM EST
Zelenskyy hopes China will not supply Russia with weapons
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters he wants to believe China won’t supply Russia with weapons in the ongoing conflict.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that the U.S. and NATO have intelligence that China is getting ready to possibly supply Russia with weapons. China has denied these claims.
Zelenskyy said it is “priority No. 1” for him to prevent China from providing Russia with weapons.
“This is very important. This is priority No. 1 for me and I am doing my best to prevent that from happening. It is important for us,” he said.
He added, “I believe China is going to side with the idea of fair peace, peace and fairness which is our side.”
Feb 24, 12:01 PM EST
After a year, is the US strategy to help Ukraine win or force a stalemate?
One year ago, with Ukraine’s borders surrounded by what seemed to be a superior military force, many U.S. officials and analysts predicted a swift Russian blitz to Kyiv.
But after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his more than 150,000 arrayed troops across the border, it soon became clear that a dual reassessment was in order: The Russian invaders were less potent than advertised, and the Ukrainians were unexpectedly stubborn and wily in the defense.
Some of the Russian troops weren’t even aware they were on a combat mission until Ukrainian bullets came cracking past them, according to U.S. officials. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces stalled a massive Russian supply convoy through direct attacks and by destroying a key bridge. Only one week into the invasion, Putin’s men were plagued with food and fuel shortages, morale running similarly low.
“Putin assumed that Ukraine was an easy target, Putin assumed that Kyiv would easily fall, and Putin assumed that the world would stand by,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during a speech in Brussels last week. “But the Kremlin was wrong on every count.”
Ukrainian forces were armed with more than grit.
They also had years of U.S. and NATO military training, plus American-made weapons, like anti-armor Javelins and anti-aircraft Stinger missiles. These made Russian vehicles vulnerable to ambush, and left Russian helicopter and jet pilots wary of flying over Ukrainian positions. Indeed, many airmen did not return from their sorties.
Despite astonishing losses of soldiers and vehicles, Putin has shown no inclination to end the conflict anytime soon. And despite its tenacity, Ukraine has also taken significant casualties, and is not able to produce enough of its own weapons and ammunition to keep up the fight.
Ukraine, after thwarting the advance on its capital, and later routing Russian forces from Kharkiv, now largely faces a battle of supply.
“When this war began, Russia had a larger population, a much bigger defense budget, a bigger military, bigger industrial base. So, this became an industrial war and a war of industrial bases,” said Seth Jones, director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This is why Western industrial support has been so critical.”
A key question now is, despite massive military aid packages and a promise to send even more, could the U.S. strategy ultimately result, not in a Ukrainian victory, but a stalemate in a years-long war of attrition?
Feb 24, 11:31 AM EST
If Ukraine’s partners keep their word on aid, Ukraine will ‘definitely win,’ Zelenskyy says
Asked if he believes in victory, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country “definitely” will if fellow nations keep their word about help and aid.
“Luckily, we’re not alone, so all of us should stay focused,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy also said Ukraine has “put forward its peace plan, peace formula,” which is “supported by many nations.”
Rather than having bilateral peace negotiations, Zelenskyy suggested a “peace forum with participation of many countries from different continents.”
“I’d like to see China, India, other countries approving post-war security guarantees,” Zelenskyy said.
Feb 24, 10:27 AM EST
US adds 200 export control restrictions on Russia
On the anniversary of the war, the U.S. Commerce Department is adding nearly 200 additional export restrictions on Russian entities for the invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. has already sanctioned Russia and Belarus with export controls because of the war. The new controls levied Friday limit semiconductor exports to Russia as well as oil and gas exports.
The U.S. said previously that its export controls have impacted on Russia’s military.
“Thanks to President Biden’s leadership and the collective efforts of the Global Export Control Coalition, we have further degraded Russia’s military capabilities by denying access to many components used for aircraft and tanks, as well as semiconductors and other items needed for advanced military applications,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said in a statement.
Feb 24, 10:17 AM EST
Ukraine’s surprising resistance and the rise of its unlikely wartime hero
As tens of thousands of invading Russian troops and tanks thundered across his nation’s border in February 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received an offer from the United States to evacuate him and his family out of the country.
But in the biggest moment of his yet budding political life, with a world superpower bearing down with brutal force, Zelenskyy rejected the offer to escape, replying, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
A year later, he and his country are still standing strong, forcefully pushing back against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive campaign to pummel Ukraine into submission.
Zelenskyy set the defiant tone for his country just hours after the war started. He shed his suits and ties for military fatigues and combat boots, and boldly posted a selfie video message to the frightened citizens of his nation. Standing on a street outside his office in the capital city of Kyiv, members of his cabinet and military advisors at his side, the then-44-year-old Zelenskyy stared into the camera and announced he and his leadership team were staying put.
“We are all here defending our independence and we are defending our country and we will keep doing that,” he said.
It was a dramatic rallying cry that echoed around the world and began the transformation of Zelenskyy into a wartime hero with some admirers even comparing him to Great Britain’s Winston Churchill standing up to Nazi Germany during World War II.
Feb 24, 9:46 AM EST
Poland delivers 1st Leopard tanks to Ukraine
Poland announced Friday that it has provided Ukraine with its first Leopard tanks to aid the fight against Russia.
“The Leopard tanks will definitely stand up well in your formation on the battlefield. They will work great,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a visit to Kyiv to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Poland delivered four Leopard 2A4s — a model of the latest version of the German main battle tank — to Ukraine, with more expected to be on the way, according to Morawiecki.
“We will also soon hand over more and we urge our partners from the European Union and NATO to do the same,” Morawiecki said.
-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti
Feb 24, 9:23 AM EST
Kuleba says Ukraine will do ‘whatever it takes’ to defeat Russia
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Friday that his country will do “whatever it takes” to defeat the Russian invaders.
“This war has no timeline. It has only [one] result in the end and that’s victory, because we stand for the right cause,” Kuleba told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview on Good Morning America.
“We defend ourselves. We are liberating our territory with generous support of many countries of the world, with the United States being at the top of it,” he added. “I want to convey the words of gratitude from the people of Ukraine to the people of America for standing by us in this very just struggle for freedom and peace.”
Kuleba noted that “ammunition, tanks, long-range missiles, planes” are the “most-wanted weapons” on Ukraine’s list.
“I have no doubt that we will prevail,” he said. “But, you know, for David to be able to defeat Goliath, David needs a sling. And all of these weapons, it’s all about this sling that will help us to win.”
Kuleba said Ukrainians are fighting for “territorial integrity.”
“If you are attacked, you have to fight. You have to take up the fight and defend your country,” he added. “And this is the feeling that drives us through all of this endless suffering.”
When asked whether there’s any kind of peace proposal that could be accepted by both sides, Kuleba said: “As of now, we are irreconcilable.”
“Because while we defend our territory, [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants to grab our territory. While we want accountability for numerous atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, Putin wants to escape responsibility,” he explained. “This aggression of Russia will go down in textbooks as the most apparent case of aggression in modern history. So the truth is on our side and this is why we feel so empowered to fight and to win.”
Feb 24, 7:58 AM EST
Blinken talks status of Russia-Ukraine war
Speaking to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed where things stand in the Russia-Ukraine war on Friday, one year after it began.
“Ukraine is still standing, it remains free, it remains independent,” Blinken said. “Putin’s first objective was to erase Ukraine from the map, to erase its identity, to absorb it into Russia. That has failed and will never succeed.”
“Now, there’s a fierce battle going on for the territory that Russia has seized,” he added. “Ukraine’s gotten about 50% of what Russia’s taken since last February and now, there’s a fight for the rest.”
When asked how long Ukraine can hold on, with its economy devastated and Russian President Vladimir Putin seemingly preparing for a long war, Blinken said he thinks “the Ukrainians are the ones who are going to fight to the finish.”
“There’s one big difference: The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, for their land, for their future; the Russians are not,” he noted. “And at the end of the day, assuming the support continues from so many countries around the world — material support, military, economic, humanitarian — Ukraine will succeed.”
Blinken said it’s “hard to predict” when the war will end.
“No one wants peace more than the Ukrainians, but it has to be a just and durable peace,” he added. “Just in terms of reflecting the basic principles that are at the heart of the U.N. Charter, which is territorial integrity of countries, their sovereignty. And durable in the sense that wherever it lands, we don’t want it to land in place where Russia can simply repeat the exercise a year or two or five years later.”
Feb 24, 7:36 AM EST
Blinken warns China is ‘contemplating lethal assistance’ for Russia
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Friday that China is “actively thinking about” providing lethal assistance to Russian forces in war-torn Ukraine.
“We’re very concerned that they’re thinking about it. Up until now, Chinese companies have provided non-lethal support,” Blinken told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview on Good Morning America.
“From Day One, President Biden warned President Xi not to provide material lethal assistance to Russia for use against Ukraine or to engage in the systematic evasion of sanctions. And the information we have suggests that they’re now actively thinking about it, which is why we’ve been public about warning them not to,” he added. “It could make a material difference in Russia’s capacity on the ground at a time when we want to bring this war to an end, not add fuel to the fire and have it continue.”
The U.S. government has “shared a lot of information with other countries, with allies and partners,” regarding the fact that China is now considering lethal assistance, according to Blinken.
“We always have to get the balance right between making sure that we’re protecting the way we get our information and releasing it,” he said. “But we thought it was really important to make clear that China’s looking at this. And what they’re hearing not just from us but from many other countries around the world is: Don’t do it.”
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a position paper on Friday, calling for a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, the resumption of peace talks, an end to unilateral sanctions and the consideration of sovereignty, territorial integrity and security concerns of all countries. Blinken told ABC News that the U.S. government is “taking a look at it.”
“No one wants peace more than the Ukrainians and any proposal that can advance peace is something that’s worth looking at,” he said. “But, you know, there are 12 points in the Chinese plan. If they were serious about the first one, sovereignty, then this war could end tomorrow.”
“China’s been trying to have it both ways,” he added. “It’s on the one hand trying to present itself publicly as neutral and seeking peace, while at the same time it is talking up Russia’s false narrative about the war, it is, as I said, providing non-lethal assistance to its companies and now contemplating lethal assistance.”
Feb 24, 6:52 AM EST
How the Russia-Ukraine conflict became a cultural war
In the basement of the Syayvo bookstore in Ukraine’s capital, hundreds of Russian language books stand piled, waiting to be pulped.
The books — ranging from everything between the classics of Russian literature to works translated into Russian and Soviet-era textbooks — have been donated by Ukrainians who have turned away from Russian culture to embrace their own since the invasion last year.
They are set to be recycled and turned into Ukrainian language texts or other products, with all profits going to support the war effort, Nadia Kibenko, the 32-year-old store worker who is handling the books, told ABC News. They have recycled 75 tons — around 150,000 volumes — since last July, she said. As a child, Kibenko grew up in a Ukrainian speaking household but, more often than not, only had the choice to read in Russian.
“We do not burn books,” Kibenko told ABC News during a recent interview in Kyiv. “We just give them second life.”
The cultural battleground is not just symbolic. Witnesses from the Russian occupied territories say that, in schools, Ukrainian language books were thrown out and replaced by Russian ones as new curricula taught Putin’s view that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people.”
A report published in December by PEN America, a New York-based literary and human rights organization, said that “culture was on the frontlines” and Putin “seeks not only to control Ukrainian territory, but to erase Ukrainian culture and identity.”
-ABC News’ Guy Davies
Feb 24, 6:13 AM EST
US announces $2 billion more in military aid for Ukraine
The United States announced an additional $2 billion military aid package for Ukraine on Friday, as the Eastern European country marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The new aid package includes more missiles for Ukraine’s U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), additional 155mm artillery ammunition, more Switchblade one-way drones and other military equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
“One year into a war of aggression waged by a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, our allies and partners worldwide stand united and resolute,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “Putin’s reckless, illegal war is not just an all-out assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and a historic threat to European security. It is also a direct attack on the system of rules, institutions, and laws that the world built at such great cost after World War II — a system that rejects aggression and respects the rights of all countries, big and small.”
The additional aid is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) plan, meaning this equipment and artillery have to be made from scratch before being delivered, which will take time. This is different from the other aid packages that come from existing U.S. military stockpiles and get delivered faster.
With the new aid package, the Biden administration has now provided $31.8 billion in assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s war began on Feb. 24, 2022.
“Putin thought that Ukraine’s defenses would collapse, that America’s resolve would falter, and that the world would look the other way. He was wrong,” Lloyd said. “One year later, Ukraine’s brave defenders have not wavered, and neither has our commitment to support them for as long as it takes. Despite the Kremlin’s campaign of cruelty, the people of Ukraine have shown stunning bravery, skill, and fortitude. Today and every day, we stand by the courageous Ukrainians fighting to defend their country, and we mourn with those who have lost their loved ones in Moscow’s monstrous and unnecessary war.”
“Difficult times may lie ahead, but let us remain clear-eyed about what is at stake in Ukraine,” he added. “And let us remain united in purpose and in action — and steadfast in our commitment to ensure that a world of rules and rights is not replaced by one of tyranny and turmoil.”
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Feb 24, 5:37 AM EST
US announces fresh sanctions targeting Russia
The United States announced Friday a series of fresh sanctions against those who are supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The White House said the new sanctions target more than 200 people and companies in Russia and other countries around the world. The Biden administration will also target a dozen Russian financial institutions as well as Russian officials and will restrict U.S. companies from exporting products to around 90 companies in Russia and other countries, including China, according to the White House.
The products that will be limited, such as semiconductor chips, are being used for “sanction evasion and backfill activities in support of Russia’s defense sector,” the White House said.
The U.S. will also increase tariffs on Russian metals, minerals and chemicals, which will eventually cost Moscow some $2.8 billion, according to the White House.
“These sanctions, export controls, and tariffs are part of our ongoing efforts to impose strong additional economic costs on Russia,” the White House said. “We will continue to work with our allies and partners to use all economic tools available to us to disrupt Russia’s ability to wage its war and degrade its economy over time.”
The announcement came on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett
Feb 24, 5:05 AM EST
No end in sight as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters 2nd year
As tens of thousands of Russian troops lined up along Ukraine’s eastern and northern borders for “military exercises” last February, some international observers warned that Russia was about to do the unthinkable.
U.S. President Joe Biden had declassified intelligence in the weeks prior that showed an attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty was imminent. That intel was shared with allies, in an attempt to rally support and to stop the war, but the effort proved unsuccessful. The invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022.
The following four seasons have seen some of the bloodiest fighting on European soil in generations. Tens of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian troops have been killed. And Ukrainian civilians have been terrorized by missiles aimed at energy infrastructure, city centers and apartment buildings.
This month marks both the 9-year anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which he illegally annexed in 2014, and the first anniversary of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The ends to which he’d go in his mission to capture Ukraine have become clear in the last year.
-ABC News’ Kevin Shalvey
Feb 24, 4:26 AM EST
Ukraine braces for Russian missile strikes on 1-year anniversary of war
There was a somber mood over Kyiv on Friday morning as the country marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion while bracing for a potential barrage of missile strikes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, along with the country’s top general and the defense minister, took part in a military ceremony in Sofia Square in the historical center of the capital city. Zelenskyy and Poland’s president also visited a memorial wall for fallen Ukrainian soldiers.
Ukrainians are anticipating Russian missile strikes to mark the anniversary, amid warnings from the Ukrainian Air Force that there is a high risk of them. But so far it has been quiet, with no major strikes beyond routine shelling in northern and eastern Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell
Feb 23, 3:19 PM EST
China pushes back against US claims it may supply weapons to Russia
The United States’ claims that they have intelligence showing China plans to provide weapons to Russia to assist in the ongoing war in Ukraine will impede the “political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis” and “will also further damage” China-US relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a press conference Thursday.
Wenbin called US claims of intelligence “nothing more than catching up on the wind, slandering and discrediting China.”
“Since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, China has been steadfast in dialogue. While standing on peace, it has persuaded and introduced peace in its own way and played a constructive role in resolving the crisis in line with the situation,” Wenbin said.
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Karson Yiu
Feb 23, 2:37 PM EST
Eiffel Tower lit up in blue and yellow
The Eiffel Tower in Paris has been lit up in blue and yellow in honor of the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Alexandra Faul
Feb 23, 2:19 PM EST
13 million people have been displaced due to the war in Ukraine
A year into the war in Ukraine, 13 million people have been displaced, including nearly 8 million refugees across Europe and more than 5 million internally displaced in Ukraine, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement Thursday.
“The vast majority of refugees and internally displaced Ukrainians – some 77% and 79%, respectively – want to return home one day, however, only 12% of both refugees and [internally displaced people] plan to do so in the next three months,” the UNHCR said in a press release.
-ABC News’ Zoe Magee
Feb 22, 1:16 PM EST
Air raid sirens go off across Ukraine; 4 airstrikes in Kharkiv injure 2
Air raid sirens went off across Ukraine on Wednesday due to jets taking off in Belarus.
There were four strikes from Russian S-300 missiles on industrial infrastructure facilities in central Kharkiv, the head of Kharkiv’s Regional Military Administration Oleh Synegubov said.
Two men, ages 46 and 57, were injured from the attacks. They have both been hospitalized.
In Izyum, a city in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, a 55-year-old civilian stepped on a “petal” mine. He was hospitalized with an explosive wound, Synehubov said.
One person was killed and another person was injured from fighting in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on Tuesday, the head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
-ABC News’ Natalia Kushnir
Feb 22, 11:24 AM EST
US believes Russia held failed ICBM test 2 days before Biden visited Ukraine
The United States believes that Russia carried out a test launch of an intercontinental missile on Saturday that appears to have failed, a U.S. official said.
Russia notified the U.S. ahead of the SARMAT ICBM launch, per agreements said the official.
The failed test launch would have taken place two days before President Joe Biden arrived in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on an unannounced trip, as he made his way to Poland to meet with NATO allies and to give a speech marking a year of war.
Ukrainian officials on Sunday publicly claimed Russia was preparing to stage large scale nuclear exercises including a launch to coincide with Biden’s trip.
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez and Patrick Reevell
Correction: This post initially stated the test happened on Monday when Biden was in Ukraine. It has been updated to reflect that the test actually happened on Saturday.
Feb 20, 5:39 AM EST
Biden in Kyiv says Putin was ‘dead wrong’
U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “dead wrong” when he started the war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided,” Biden said in a statement. “He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong.”
The White House released the statement from Biden as he made an unannounced visit to the war-torn country, arriving in Kyiv on Monday morning.
“As the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Biden said.
“Today, in Kyiv, I am meeting with President Zelenskyy and his team for an extended discussion on our support for Ukraine. I will announce another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments,” he continued. “And I will share that later this week, we will announce additional sanctions against elites and companies that are trying to evade or backfill Russia’s war machine. Over the last year, the United States has built a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific to help defend Ukraine with unprecedented military, economic, and humanitarian support — and that support will endure.”
Biden added: “I also look forward to traveling on to Poland to meet President Duda and the leaders of our Eastern Flank Allies, as well as deliver remarks on how the United States will continue to rally the world to support the people of Ukraine and the core values of human rights and dignity in the UN Charter that unite us worldwide.”
Feb 20, 5:21 AM EST
Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine
U.S. President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to war-torn Ukraine on Monday, arriving in Kyiv as Washington signals its ongoing support ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
Biden’s visit came ahead of a planned meeting with NATO allies in Poland. He is expected to give a speech at the Royal Castle Arcades in Warsaw on Tuesday evening to offer an appraisal of international support during the first year of the war and to address “how we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement earlier this month.
Biden also plans to meet in Poland with leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of eastern NATO allies formed in 2015 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a dramatic visit to the United States in December, his first known international trip since the Russian invasion began in February 2022. Zelenskyy met with Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., before addressing members of U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill.
Feb 19, 1:03 PM EST
Russia planning nuclear exercises to disrupt Biden’s Europe visit, Ukrainian military says
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency has accused Russia of planning to stage “large-scale nuclear exercises” to coincide with President Joe Biden’s visit to Europe next week.
The GUR said Russia is preparing for test launches of nuclear capable missiles from land and sea, the agency said in a statement Sunday on its official Telegram channel.
The GUR said a nuclear armed submarine has been placed on the “highest level” of combat readiness and that strategic bombers have been moved to a base in Tambov, Russia.
The agency claimed the exercises are intended disrupt President Joe Biden’s European trip.
“Such actions of the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation, in particular, are an attempt to hinder Joe Biden’s visit to Europe, which is scheduled for February 20-22, through direct nuclear blackmail and to weaken international support for Ukraine,” the GUR statement said.
– ABC News’ Patrick Reevell
Feb 18, 11:41 AM EST
Harris meets with British, Finnish, Swedish PMs
Vice President Kamala Harris met with the British, Finnish and Swedish prime ministers before departing Munich on Saturday.
Amid concerns in Europe that Republican lawmakers could dampen U.S. aid to Ukraine, the Finnish prime minister, Sanna Marin, thanked Harris for saying U.S. support for Ukraine would persevere domestic political differences.
Both Marin and Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, spoke with hope about joining NATO. But in recent days, there have been signals from NATO, the Finnish and the Swedish that perhaps they will not join at the same time as they had hoped due to continued Turkish objections over Swedish membership.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Feb 17, 3:41 PM EST
White House previews Biden trip to Poland
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby provided a preview Friday of President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Poland, saying the president’s main message will be continued support from the United States in the face of Russian aggression.
“On Tuesday evening, local time, President Biden will deliver remarks in Warsaw on how the United States has rallied the world to support the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and democracy. President Biden will make it clear that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine, as you’ve heard him say many times, for as long as it takes,” Kirby said of Biden’s major planned address.
“As we approach the one-year mark since this invasion, we can proudly say that our support for Ukraine remains unwavering and our alliances and our international coalition in support of Ukraine remain stronger than ever,” he added.
Biden is scheduled to arrive in Poland on Tuesday morning and meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda. On Wednesday, he’ll meet with leaders from the so-called Bucharest Nine –Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia — which are nine NATO countries in Eastern Europe.
Kirby was asked about Biden meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, or traveling anywhere besides Warsaw, like the border town of Rzeszow, but he shot down both ideas.
“There is no meeting with President Zelenskyy scheduled for the trip right now,” he said. “Right now, the trip is going to be in Warsaw.”
Feb 17, 2:11 PM EST
Harris meets allies amid pressure over Ukraine aid
Vice President Kamala Harris met with the leaders of France and Germany Friday as part of a U.S. diplomatic push in Munich to show strong, continued support for Ukraine.
Questions lingering over the leaders in Munich include how long the West can maintain its support for Ukraine –- amid declining public and political support at home –- and how Ukraine will withstand the expected Russian offensive.
A White House official said that at the meetings, the vice president planned to “recognize the courage and resilience shown by the people of Ukraine; reaffirm the support of American people for Ukraine; commend the international community on the historic actions taken since February 2022; celebrate Transatlantic unity and clarity of purpose; reaffirm our security commitments to our European allies; and condemn Russia’s continued illegal and brutal actions while calling for accountability and justice.”
She also planned to discuss “relations with China and actions to address the climate crisis,” the official said.
Feb 17, 1:20 PM EST
Belarus ready to make Russian attack planes, president says at meeting with Putin
Belarus is ready to make Russian attack planes, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
“Belarus has been making up to a thousand components for MC-21 and Superjet 100 planes. There used to be repair plants, but now they also make component parts,” Lukashenko said.
“We are even ready to make it in Belarus with a little support from Russia,” Lukashenko said.
Feb 16, 5:28 PM EST
Ukrainian vice prime minister tells remaining civilians in Bakhmut to evacuate
Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called on the roughly 6,000 civilians still in Bakhmut to evacuate “immediately.”
Officials said they don’t want the people still in the city to put themselves and their children at risk and don’t want them to interfere with the Ukrainian army. Five civilians were killed and nine others were injured on Thursday, according to the vice prime minister.
“Frankly speaking, I am very surprised that 6,000 civilians are still working there,” Vereshchuk said in a statement.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Feb 16, 3:25 PM EST
Belarus will fight alongside Russia if it is attacked, president warns
Belarus would only join the war in Ukraine, fighting alongside Russia, if it is attacked, President Alexander Lukashenko told state-run Belta news agency.
“We don’t want a war. And in no case are we going to send our troops into the territory of Ukraine. Unless you commit aggression against the territory of Belarus from there. Here is my answer. It was given a long time ago,” Lukashenko said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Lukashenko’s threat in an interview with the BBC.
“I hope [Belarus] won’t join [the war],” he said. “If it does, we will fight and we will survive.”
Allowing Russia to use Belarus as a staging post for an attack again would be a “huge mistake,” he added.
Russian forces launched part of their full-scale invasion from Belarus 12 months ago. They drove south toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, but were fought back and made to retreat within weeks, after suffering heavy casualties.
Lukashenko is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Tanya Stukalova
Feb 16, 3:11 PM EST
Zelenskyy rules out territorial deal with Putin in BBC interview
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out giving up any of his country’s territory in a potential peace deal with Russia.
In a BBC interview to mark a year since Russia’s full-scale invasion, he warned conceding land would mean Russia could “keep coming back,” while Western weapons would bring peace closer.
However, he does believe Ukrainian forces can keep resisting Russia’s advance until they are able to launch a counteroffensive — although he repeated his calls for more military aid from the West.
“Of course, modern weapons speed up peace. Weapons are the only language Russia understands,” Zelensky told the BBC.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Feb 16, 12:13 AM EST
Russian strikes hit infrastructure in Lviv, Ukrainians shoot down eight Russian missiles: Officials
An infrastructure object was hit in Lviv in the early morning hours of Thursday, the head of the Lviv Regional Military Administration, Maksym Kozytskyi, said on Telegram.
There were no casualties, and the fire from the impact has since been put out, Kozytskyi said.
Six Kalibr missiles were also shot down over the Mykolaiv region, and two Kalibr missiles were shot down over the Kherson region overnight, Odesa Military Administration spokesman Serhii Bratchuk posted on Telegram.
All eight of the missiles were fired from a Russian ship in the Black Sea, Bratchuk said in the post.
Feb 15, 2:48 PM EST
6 ‘reconnaissance’ balloons shot down over Kyiv
Authorities in Kyiv are investigating who owns six balloons that were in Ukraine’s airspace and what the balloons were doing over Kyiv. The balloons were shot down by Ukrainian air defense.
After a preliminary assessment, authorities think the balloons had intelligence gathering equipment.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Feb 14, 11:43 AM EST
If Bakhmut falls, won’t have ‘strategic impact’ on Ukraine war: White House
White House spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing Tuesday that the U.S. could not “predict one way or the other” whether Bakhmut will fall to the Russians and if it does fall, “on what timeline.”
“We’re watching this every day, and it is certainly true that the Russians are continuing to make incremental progress there,” Kirby said. “Again, I can’t predict one way or the other whether it falls or it doesn’t fall or on what timeline. They have made incremental progress again in just the last 24, 48 hours.”
He added that the U.S. did not think Russia obtaining control of Bakhmut would have any “strategic impact” on either the overall war or even fighting in that part of the country.
The U.S. thinks Russia — and specifically the Wagner Group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, which is doing much of the fighting for Bakhmut — wants to take over and benefit financially from gypsum and salt mines located in the area, Kirby said.
“Even if Bakhmut were to fall, it would not have a strategic impact on the overall war,” Kirby said. “I would go so far as to say it won’t even have, necessarily, a strategic impact on the fighting in that part of the country. We think one of the reasons why Prigozhin is so interested in Bakhmut is because there’s a gypsum mine there, and up in Soledar, there’s a salt mine. And it’s entirely possible that Mr. Prigozhin sees some economic benefit to him and his company to take Bakhmut and to take and hold Soledar.”
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Feb 11, 9:43 AM EST
US surveillance data ‘crucial’: Ukrainian commander
Ukrainian Lt. Gen. Serhiy Nayev told ABC News in an interview that the U.S. provides “surveillance data,” allowing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to more accurately pinpoint Russian targets within Ukraine’s borders.
“This help is crucial for us,” he said.
Nayev said he was in “constant contact” with American generals stationed in other parts of Europe. An exchange of data between the Ukrainians and Americans helped the Ukrainian military to pinpoint targets using US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems.
“This work goes perfectly in real time,” he said.
-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge, Dragana Jovanovic and Ale Pavone
Feb 10, 3:09 PM EST
Biden to visit Poland on eve of first anniversary of invasion of Ukraine
President Joe Biden will visit Poland on Feb. 20, on the eve of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda as well as the leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of our eastern flank NATO allies, and he’ll deliver remarks to mark the one-year anniversary, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday.
“President Biden will deliver remarks ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, addressing how the United States has rallied the world, to support the people of Ukraine, as they defend their freedom and democracy, and how we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Jean-Pierre said.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Feb 10, 12:25 PM EST
Russian missile comes within 22 miles of Romanian border with Ukraine
Romania, a member of NATO, said Friday a Russian missile had come within 22 miles of its border but that it did not cross into the country’s territory, countering a claim made by the Ukrainian military.
“The Romanian Air Forces’ air surveillance system detected on Friday, February 10th, an aerial target launched by a Russian Federation’s ship, navigating in the Black Sea, nearby the Crimean Peninsula. The target is most likely a cruise missile, which flew over the air space of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova and reentered the Ukrainian air space without ever infringing Romania’s air space,” Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tîlvăr said in a statement Friday.
Ukrainian officials had said earlier Friday that two Russian missiles crossed into the airspace of Moldova and Romania before entering Ukraine and being directed at targets in the country.
“Several Russian missiles passed through the airspace of Moldova and Romania. These missiles are a challenge to NATO and collective security. This is terror that can and must be stopped,” Zelenskyy said Friday.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
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