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Key events

Hungary will veto EU sanctions on Russian on nuclear energy

Hungary will veto any European Union sanctions against Russia affecting nuclear energy, prime minister Viktor Orbán told state radio on Friday.

Ukraine has called on the 27-nation EU to include Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom in sanctions but Hungary, which has a Russian-built nuclear plant it plans to expand with Rosatom, has blocked that.

Reuters reports that Orbán reiterated in an interview that sanctions on nuclear energy “must obviously be vetoed”.

“We will not allow the plan to include nuclear energy into the sanctions be implemented,” the Hungarian premier said. “This is out of the question.”

Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne reports that the night passed in Sumy region without any shelling.

The UK’s ministry of defence has published its latest intelligence briefing on how it sees the situation in Ukraine. In it, it casts doubt on recent Russian claims of military advances in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk, writing:

Over the last six days, Russian online commentators have claimed Russian forces have made significant advances, breaking through Ukrainian defences in two areas: in Zaporizhzhia Oblast near Orikiv, and 100km to the east, in Donetsk Oblast, near Vuhledar.

Russian units have probably conducted local, probing attacks near Orikiv and Vuhledar, but it is highly unlikely that Russia has actually achieved any substantive advances.

There is a realistic possibility that Russian military sources are deliberately spreading misinformation in an effort to imply that the Russian operation is sustaining momentum.

The claim is presented on social media without any supporting evidence being published.

Oleskandr Musiyenko, head of the Military and Strategic Research Centre of Ukraine, says Russia is sending in more reinforcements to block Ukrainian advances.

“They are mostly sending infantry and artillery forces into battle, made up mainly of conscripts. But they do not have the level of artillery and tank support they had on Feb. 24,” Musiyenko said in an interview with Ukrainian television.

“They have fewer resources. They are relying on the numerical superiority of their troops.”

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese on Friday reiterated Australian support for Ukraine and criticised supporters of Russia’s invasion after a video emerged showing Novak Djokovic’s father posing at the Australian Open with fans holding Russian flags, Reuters reports.

Police questioned four fans seen with “inappropriate flags and symbols” after a quarter-final match on Wednesday between Russia’s Andrey Rublev and favourite Djokovic, organisers Tennis Australia said.

“I will make this point, that Australia stands with the people of Ukraine. That is Australia’s position and Australia is unequivocal in our support for the rule of international law,” Albanese told a news conference after a reporter asked if Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, should be deported after he was seen posing for pictures with fans holding Russian flags.

“We do not want to see any support given to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that is having a devastating impact on the people of Ukraine.”

Albanese did not respond directly to the question about whether Srdjan Djokovic should be deported.

Djokovic’s father could not be reached for comment by Reuters.

An adviser to president Zelenskiy has issued a warning to fellow Ukrainian officials which appears to be related to the ongoing drive to stamp out corruption.

More than a dozen Ukrainian officials have been removed this week after a series of scandals and graft allegations. Political analysts said Zelenskiy needs to show western partners and war-weary Ukrainians that he is serious about punishing misrule.

“Everyone should understand their level of responsibility to the country and nation during the war. Whoever forgets about it receives a quick reaction,” said Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy’s office.

“This will happen to everyone who allows themselves to forget (their duties), regardless of names and offices,” Yermak wrote on Twitter.

Among the most high-profile cases was that of a deputy defence minister who resigned following a report, which he denied, that his ministry paid inflated prices to feed troops.

A presidential adviser who had been called out by local media for driving flashy cars also quit, as did a senior prosecutor who Ukrainian media reported had gone on holiday to Marbella in Spain, flouting martial law.

Explosions heard near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station during Thursday’s strikes, says UN nuclear agency

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who visited Ukraine last week, said IAEA monitors reported powerful explosions near Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station on Thursday and renewed calls for a security zone around the plant.

But Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the head of Rosenergoatom, the company operating Russia’s nuclear plants, said the comments were unfounded and called it a “provocation”.

Russia has in the past reacted to Ukrainian successes with massed airstrikes that left millions without light, heat or water.

On Thursday, it appeared to follow that pattern. Prime minister Denys Shmyhal said Russia’s attacks targeted energy plants.

“I held an urgent meeting today about the energy situation – about the shortages that are occurring and repair work after the terrorists’ strikes. Repair teams are working in those sites,” Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

The Kremlin said it saw the promised delivery of western tanks as evidence of growing “direct involvement” of the United States and Europe in the 11-month-old war, something both deny.

Zelenskiy calls for further sanctions and more weapons after latest strikes

In his nightly address following Thursday’s deadly missile strikes across, Zelenskiy called for further sanctions on Russia and for allies to supply Ukraine with more weapons.

Ukrainian civilians raced for cover on Thursday as Russia fired a barrage of missiles and drones across the country, killing at least 11 people, a day after Kyiv won pledges of battlefield tanks to combat Moscow’s invasion from western countries.

Zelenskiy said:

This Russian aggression can and should be stopped only with adequate weapons. The terrorist state will not understand anything else. Weapons on the battlefield. Weapons that protect our skies.

New sanctions against Russia, i.e. political and economic weapons. And legal weapons – we need to work even harder to establish a tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Welcome and summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. I’m Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments as they happen.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called for further sanctions on Russia and more weapons for Ukraine, after Russian strikes on Thursday left 11 dead and 11 wounded.

We’ll have more from Zelenskiy’s latest address shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • Ukrainian civilians raced for cover on Thursday as Russia fired a barrage of missiles and drones across the country, killing at least 11 people, a day after Kyiv won pledges of battlefield tanks to combat Moscow’s invasion from western countries.

  • Ukrainian skeleton racer Vladyslav Heraskevych criticised the International Olympic Committee on Thursday for considering allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to international competitions.

  • Russia’s finance ministry has proposed scrapping liquidity restrictions for spending on “anti-crisis” investments from its national wealth fund (NWF), citing the need to support key sectors amid challenging geopolitical conditions.

  • The UK hopes the Challenger 2 tanks it is supplying to Ukraine will arrive in the country at the end of March, defence department minister Alex Chalk said on Thursday.

  • Russian authorities designated the independent news outlet Meduza an “undesirable organisation” on Thursday, effectively outlawing the site from operating in Russia and banning any Russian from cooperating with Meduza or its journalists.

  • The Ukrainian central bank’s foreign currency reserves will stand at about $30bn at the end of January, Yuri Heletiy, the deputy governor told reporters on Thursday, according to Reuters.

  • The arrest of a high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence agent accused of spying for Russia has highlighted the urgent need for a cleanout of the country’s key security service, a former deputy head of the agency has said.




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