UK assesses sending jets as Zelensky pays a surprise visit; Russian missiles strike the centre of Kharkiv

UK assesses sending jets as Zelensky pays a surprise visit; Russian missiles strike the centre of Kharkiv
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) welcomes Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to 10 Downing Street in London on 8 February 2023. Zelensky is making his first visit to the UK since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Neil Hall)

The British government was assessing the long-term possibility of sending combat aircraft to Ukraine to help in the war against Russia as President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to the UK on Wednesday.

While addressing legislators in London on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the UK for supporting his nation in its fight against Russia since the first day of the invasion. He was due to meet the leaders of France and Germany later in the day.

The Ukrainian leader’s speech came after US President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address that Vladimir Putin’s invasion “has been a test for the ages, a test for America, a test for the world,” adding that the US and its allies had risen to the challenge.

Key developments

On the ground

Russia struck the centre of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine with at least six S-300 missiles, regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram overnight. An industrial facility and the city’s central park were hit, Interfax-Ukraine reported, citing Mayor Ihor Terekhov. Over the past day, Ukrainian forces repelled attacks near 22 settlements in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Facebook. Russian troops were continuing their offensive on several axes in the east, including near the towns of Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, Vuhledar and Kreminna.

Zelensky expected to attend EU summit

The Ukrainian leader was expected to be in Brussels on Thursday to attend a summit of European Union leaders, according to people familiar with the matter. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will have a bilateral meeting with Zelensky on the sidelines of the event.




Naftogaz chief discusses energy investment with JPMorgan delegation

Oleksiy Chernyshov, the chief of national energy company Naftogaz Ukrainy, met a JPMorgan Chase & Co delegation to discuss investment in the Ukrainian energy sector.

Naftogaz proposed that the US bank consider cooperation and projects to increase the extraction and transportation of hydrocarbons, as well as projects in renewable energy, Chernyshov said on Facebook.

Portuguese premier suggests tanks may be provided in March 

Portugal is carrying out a maintenance plan for Leopard 2 tanks under which the country may be able to provide Ukraine with three such vehicles in March, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in Parliament on Wednesday.

UK assessing possibility of sending jets to Ukraine 

The UK is assessing the possibility of sending combat aircraft to Ukraine and aims to begin training Ukrainian pilots in the spring. Britain isn’t looking to send Typhoon jets in the immediate future, but rather sees the possibility of sending planes as a long-term solution, Max Blain, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, told reporters.

Zelensky had earlier in the day urged Britain to provide planes, telling parliamentarians “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”

Zelensky, Scholz to meet Macron in Paris

Zelensky and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were due to travel to Paris later on Wednesday to meet Emmanuel Macron, according to a statement from the French president’s office.

Zelensky hails UK support in London 

Addressing legislators in English, Zelensky praised the UK for backing Ukraine from the very start of the war.

“London has stood with Kyiv since day one,” he said, insisting that Russia was destined to lose.

“The United Kingdom is marching with us toward the most important victory of our lifetime. After we win together, any aggressor, it doesn’t matter, big or small, will know what awaits him if he attacks international order.”

Read more: Zelensky hails UK support in London ahead of Russian offensive

Russia won’t ‘break’ Ukraine, says Estonia’s spy chief 

Estonia’s top intelligence official predicted a grinding conflict in Ukraine, with the war to be decided “on the battlefield”, though he expressed optimism that Kyiv would prevail against Russian forces.

Kaupo Rosin, the director-general of Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, spoke after the agency issued an annual report assessing that Vladimir Putin remains convinced time is on his side in the war. As Nato member states ramp up weapons deliveries with battle tanks — and potentially air power — the Kremlin will struggle to fulfil its war aims, he said.

Sunak hopes to see first ICC indictments over Ukraine war 

UK Prime Minister Sunak said he expected the International Criminal Court (ICC) to announce its first indictments relating to Russia’s war in Ukraine soon. Sunak told the House of Commons on Wednesday that he discussed Britain’s work with the ICC with Zelensky during their meeting and that he hoped to see the ICC’s first indictments shortly.

Russia asks Roger Waters to speak at UN 

Russia has invited Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters to address a UN Security Council meeting on the almost year-long invasion of Ukraine.

Waters sparked condemnation in September when he blamed “extreme nationalists” for setting Ukraine “on the path to this disastrous war” in an open letter to Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. Planned concerts by the musician in Poland were later cancelled.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, praised Waters’ letter as “a very emotional and wise message”. The Russian diplomat said on Telegram that Waters would take part in the Security Council hearing on Wednesday on peace prospects “in the light of escalating Western arms supplies” to Ukraine, at Moscow’s request.




Russia invests as never before to survive sanctions 

Russia is trying to spend its way out of the self-inflicted economic crisis that threatened to deliver the deepest recession of Putin’s more than two-decade rule.

Roaring exports of commodities funnelled capital into the coffers of the government and companies, feeding an upswing in business investment that was without precedent during previous economic contractions and proved crucial to powering the war effort in the year since the invasion of Ukraine.

Facing initial forecasts for a decline of up to 20% in capital expenditure, Russia instead saw it increase by 6% in 2022, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Zelensky meets new German Defence Minister Pistorius  

Zelenksy on Tuesday met new German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, who visited Ukraine on his first overseas trip in that post. Zelensky praised Germany for a long-expected decision to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine and allow third countries to do likewise.

“The recent decisions on the tank coalition and the initiative from our European friends in cooperation with our Ministry of Defence can really give us not advantages, yet parity on the battlefield,” the Ukrainian President’s Office said in a statement on its website citing Zelensky. “It is necessary to understand that it depends on time, on the quantity and modernity of the tank coalition’s equipment.” DM


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