Ukraine has decided to continue fighting in Bakhmut because the battle is pinning down Russia’s best units and degrading them ahead of a planned Ukrainian spring counter-offensive, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. Mykhailo Podolyak’s comments in an interview with Italy’s La Stampa newspaper were the latest signal of a shift this week by Kyiv to continue the defence of the heavily contested eastern city, site of the war’s bloodiest battle.
Most of Kyiv’s power supply had been restored, officials said, after Ukraine responded swiftly to the latest Russian missile and drone barrage targeting critical infrastructure on Thursday.
In the Kharkiv region, the governor said the energy situation was difficult. “The energy system has suffered significant damage,” Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram. “Nevertheless, critical infrastructure has already been restored in the city, and water supply has been almost completely restored.” Public transport remained closed.
The underwater bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipelines last September was carried out by a team of divers operating from a 15-metre chartered yacht called the Andromeda, according to a news report. The report in Der Spiegel traces the Andromeda’s route around the Baltic from its home marina in Rostock to the German island of Rügen and then to the Danish island of Christiansø, close to the site of the 26 September blasts. Questions have been raised about whether another vessel was involved.
Switzerland’s government has said it will not change its longstanding policy banning the transfer of Swiss-made arms to a third country despite growing pressure to export them to Ukraine.
The UN nuclear watchdog’s 35-country board of governors has backed the reappointment of Argentina’s Rafael Grossi to a second four-year term as director general, diplomats said.
Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has visited Kyiv and met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. They attended a church service at St Michael’s Golden Dome cathedral in memory of the well-known Ukrainian military commander Dmytro Kotsiubailo.
Thousands of people gathered in Kyiv to attend Kotsiubailo’s funeral. Kotsiubailo, nicknamed Da Vinci and hailed as a national hero and symbol of resistance, was killed near Bakhmut on Tuesday, aged 27.
The British prime minister has said the war in Ukraine will end at the negotiating table. Rishi Sunak said he would support Volodymyr Zelenskiy to be in the “best possible place to have those talks” and recommitted to providing additional support to Ukraine to ensure it has a battlefield advantage. Sunak’s comments marked a clear divide with his predecessor, Boris Johnson, in his stance on how the war against Russia will end.
Ukrainian officials have ordered a historically Russian-aligned wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox church to leave a monastery complex in Kyiv where it is based, the latest move against a denomination regarded with deep suspicion by the government.
The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has thanked Moscow for a “heroic” increase in ammunition production but said he was still worried about shortages for his fighters and the Russian army as a whole. Yevgeny Prigozhin also said on Friday that Wagner had opened recruitment centres in 42 Russian cities.
The Kremlin said it saw risks of possible “provocations” in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two Russian-backed breakaway regions of Georgia, after days of protests in Georgia over a “foreign agents” bill. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Moscow was watching the situation “with concern”. The Kremlin regime sometimes issues false warnings about “provocations” for its own propaganda purposes.
The war in Ukraine is driven by the interests of several “empires” and not just the “Russian empire”, Pope Francis has said in an interview. Speaking to Swiss television RSI, the pontiff described how he had offered to go to Moscow to negotiate peace but had been rebuffed.
The newly installed president of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, barely 10 days after he assumed power. In his first interview with a foreign TV channel, Christodoulides told Greece’s state broadcaster, ERT, that opposing Moscow’s self-styled “special military operation” put the island on the “right side of history”.
The International Fencing Federation has decided to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Olympic qualifying events, sparking outrage in Ukraine. Fencing became the first Olympic sport to reopen events to the aggressor and its ally, one year after their exclusion due to the war in Ukraine.