Wed, 08 Feb 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the frontline city of Sloviansk on Tuesday in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, which Russia claims as its own, his office said, as Ukraine scrambled to restore its battered power grid a day after key facilities were targeted in the latest wave of Russian missile strikes. Follow our live blog for the latest updates on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

11:23am: It's 'absurd' to stoke fear over energy, France will get through the winter, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said it was "absurd" to stoke fear in France over the country's energy situation and reaffirmed France would get through this winter in spite of energy market tensions caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.

"The role of public authorities is not to spread fear nor to govern by fear," said Macron, as he arrived at a summit of European Union and Western Balkans leaders in Albania.

"We must not make people feel scared. We must stop all that," Macron also said. "We will get through this winter, despite the war," he added.

11:39am: Russian lawmaker says 60 soldiers to be freed in prisoner swap

Russia is set to receive 60 soldiers in a prisoner swap with Ukraine today, a lawmaker from Russia's ruling party said.

"The Russian Ministry of Defence is conducting another exchange of prisoners of war today. Sixty Russian servicemen are returning home," State Duma deputy Shamsail Saraliev wrote on Telegram.

11:30am: Ukraine's Zelensky visits troops near Donbas front line

President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited the frontline city of Sloviansk in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk, where Russian forces have been pressing an offensive for months, the presidency has said.

Zelensky appeared in a video on social media wearing a winter coat and standing next to large sign in Ukraine's blue and yellow colours bearing the city name Sloviansk and calling for a moment of silence to commemorate slain Ukrainian soldiers.

"From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate you on this great holiday, the Day of the Armed Forces," Zelensky said in the video.

Sloviansk, which was briefly held by Russian-backed separatists in 2014, lies some 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Bakhmut, which has become the centre of fighting since the fall of Kherson.

10:44am: Kremlin does not see prospect for peace talks

The Kremlin has said it agrees with the United States about the need for lasting peace in Ukraine but does not see the prospect of negotiations at the moment.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Monday that the conflict in Ukraine would end "almost certainly with diplomacy" and negotiations, and that "just and durable peace" was needed.

"That the outcome should be a just and durable peace - one can agree with this. But as for the prospects for some sort of negotiations, we do not see any at the moment," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

10:22am: Ukraine aims to significantly reduce power outages by Tuesday evening

Ukraine aims to significantly reduce the power deficit caused by the latest Russian air strikes by Tuesday evening, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said.

Missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday destroyed homes and knocked out power in some areas, but Ukrainian air defences limited the impact and the damage appeared less severe than the previous wave of air strikes on Nov. 23.

Galushchenko said power generation facilities and substations had been hit and signalled that the regions of Kyiv, Vinnytsia in west-central Ukraine and Odesa in the south had suffered the worst damage.

"We are now bringing the nuclear blocks (power stations) back into operation and the (power) deficit will be significantly reduced by evening," he told Ukrainian television.

10:12am: Russia sees 'positive dynamics' in talks on Zaporizhzhia safety zone, says TASS

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has spoken of "positive dynamics" in discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the creation of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the TASS news agency reports.

Moscow and Kyiv have repeatedly accused each other of threatening to trigger a nuclear catastrophe at the site, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war but is located near the front line.

Earlier this morning, Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian forces are taking "all measures" to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant in the face of what he called "nuclear terrorism" from Kyiv.

10:01am: Latvia licence withdrawal 'unfair and absurd', says exiled Russian TV channel

Russian exiled independent TV channel Dozhd said Tuesday that accusations against it were "unfair and absurd" after Latvia, where the outlet is now based, revoked its broadcasting license.

"The TV channel will stop broadcasting on cable but will remain on YouTube. We continue to work and believe all accusations against us to be unfair and absurd," Dozhd (Rain) said on Twitter after it was accused of showing the Crimea peninsula annexed from Ukraine as part of Russia, among other alleged violations.

06:54am: Ukraine races to restore power grid after Russian strikes

Ukraine is racing to restore power after Russia's latest wave of missile strikes caused disruptions across the country, right as winter frost builds and temperatures plunge.

Out of the 70 missiles launched by Moscow, "most" were shot down, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, but the barrage still hit Ukraine's already battered infrastructure.

Fresh power cuts were announced in all regions "due to the consequences of shelling," national electricity provider Ukrenergo said on Telegram.

The head of Ukrenergo said he had "no doubt that Russian military consulted with Russian power engineers during this attack", judging by where the missiles landed.

"The time that Russians chose for this attack was connected with their desire to inflict as much damage as possible," Volodymyr Kudrytskyi told a Ukrainian news programme, explaining that the attacks were launched as the country enters a "peak frost" period.

06:30am: 'Drone attack' strikes Russian airfield bordering Ukraine, says governor

A drone has attacked an airfield in Russia's Kursk region bordering Ukraine, the local governor has said, a day after Moscow blamed Ukraine for drone strikes at two Russian airfields.

"As a result of a drone attack in the area of the Kursk airfield, an oil storage tank caught fire. There were no casualties," governor Roman Starovoyt said on social media.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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