Western weapons won’t be used to hit Russia, Rosatom speeds construction on Hungarian NPP
Your slice of the top headlines in Ukraine. Daily. Thursday, February 9th, 2023.
• Ukraine uses Western weapons only to defend itself and liberate occupied territories, and will not deploy them against targets inside Russia.
That’s according to presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, echoing a similar statement made earlier by Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Earlier, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said that Ukraine already has weapons that can reach and destroy targets within Russia
• Russian nuclear operator Rosatom is ready to speed up the construction of the Paks-2 nuclear power plant (NPP) in Hungary if necessary.
“In principle, we’re proceeding according to the current contract, and the stage of switching to construction and entering the second phase has already been decided in advance, in our understanding,” said Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev. Likhachev clarified that the first concrete at the NPP site could be poured “in a year,” i.e. in 2024.
• A Russian soldier has been caught on video dying from an explosion while poking a downed Ukrainian UAV with a stick.
The poking seems to have disturbed unexploded ammunition stored within the drone, which led to the soldier’s fate. There are no details on why the soldier decided to poke the drone in the first place.
• Ukraine’s international reserves amounted to $29.9 billion as of Feb. 1, 2023.
According to the National Bank of Ukraine, this represents a growth of 5% from January, thanks to inflows to the government’s accounts and spending on servicing and repaying public debt.
• The training program for Ukrainian forces in the United Kingdom will be expanded to include fighter pilots and marines.
The U.S. political news outlet Politico wrote that, while no decision on the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine has been made, the “internal debate” on the matter is underway – referring to European military officials and diplomats. Still, fears of “escalation" prevent some countries from making a positive decision on the matter.
• French film director and Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius has arrived in Ukraine, visiting the liberated Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Bucha, as well as becoming an ambassador of Ukrainian support initiative United24.
Hazanavicius visited the two suburbs with fellow United24 ambassador, tennis player Elina Svitolina, stopping by the Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle First-Called in Bucha and Irpin’s Cultural House, which had been struck by Russian shells. The pair were joined by two more United24 ambassadors, football player Andriy Shevchenko and boxer Oleksandr Usyk, via video link.
• The National Bank of Ukraine declared JSC Forward Bank, owned by Russian citizen Rustam Tariko, to be insolvent.
The bank has been considered problematic since Nov. 24, 2022 due to a drop in its income, which created the risk of it dipping lower than its statutorily required capital levels. Since then, the bank’s situation has only worsened, with a further fall in capital and no prospects for its improvement.
• The United Kingdom unleashed a new round of sanctions targeting Kremlin elites and entities providing military equipment.
The announcement came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was on a visit to the United Kingdom on Feb. 8. In total, this new sanctions package affects six entities providing military equipment to Russia, such as drones, as well as eight individuals and one entity connected to financial networks that help maintain wealth and power amongst Kremlin elites.
• Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace in London.
The Ukrainian president congratulated the English monarch on his recent accession to the throne and wished peace and prosperity to the British people, the President’s Office reported. The Ukrainian leader also expressed gratitude to the British people and His Majesty’s Government and emphasized that the United Kingdom is one of Ukraine’s closest and most important allies.
• By Jan. 1, 2023, the share of non-performing loans in Ukrainian banks has increased to 38%.
This is almost entirely due to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the NBU announced. In specific figures, the volume of non-performing loans increased by UAH 87 billion ($2.4 billion) over the last year, to UAH 432 billion ($11.8 billion).
• Berlin has handed over a new military aid package to Ukraine, which includes Gepard flak artillery panzers and ammunition.
Specifically, Germany will transfer two Gepard anti-aircraft systems and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, six 15-ton load-handling trucks, 29 power generators, and other equipment.
The day’s long read: Why Defense Minister Reznikov hasn’t been removed from his post, despite a decision to do so
NV analyzes the decision, and seeming rollback, of removing Oleksii Reznikov from the post of Defense Minister, amid a food procurement scandal for the military under Reznikov’s tenure, and what possible replacement candidates there may be.
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