As the war enters its 707th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Wednesday, January 31, 2024.
- Four people in two villages in Ukraine’s northern Sumy region near the Russian border were killed in Russian shelling, while a woman died in a new assault on the devastated eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, according to local officials.
- Three people were also reported injured after Russian drones hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to local officials. The attack also started a fire and caused damage to apartment blocks and infrastructure.
- Ukraine’s Air Force said Russia launched a total of 35 attack drones and two guided missiles targeting energy and military infrastructure near the front line and other Ukrainian regions, with air defence systems destroying 15 of the 35 drones.
- Russia said it brought down 11 drones launched by Ukraine over Crimea, which it occupied and annexed in 2014 in a move that was not recognised internationally. Ukraine’s military said it hit a Russian air defence radar station on the peninsula. Russian news agencies said several alleged Ukraine-launched drones were also shot down over Belgorod, Bryansk, Kaluga and Tula – all regions in Russia.
- Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency GUR, said he expected Russia’s offensive on the eastern front to fizzle out by early spring. In recent months, Russia has stepped up its attacks in the area, attempting to encircle towns such as Avdiivka. Budanov said they had only achieved “a few advances across some fields”.
- The Ukrainian government submitted an amended version of its controversial military mobilisation bill to parliament, including a new provision that would allow certain people to serve in the armed forces despite being convicted of a crime. The bill aims to lower the age of conscription to 25 from 27.
- Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military intelligence, said Russia showed “no readiness” to return the bodies of 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war Moscow claims were killed in the crash of a military transport plane last week.
- Ukraine said it temporarily disrupted communications for military units in a cyberattack that knocked out a server used by Russia’s Defence Ministry.
Politics and diplomacy
- Writing on the website of the journal Foreign Affairs, the director of the United States’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Bill Burns, said Ukraine was likely to face a tough year fighting Russia in 2024, and that a US move to cut off aid to Kyiv would be an “own goal of historic proportions”. A huge assistance package for Ukraine is currently held up in Congress because some Republicans want to link it to changes in US border policies.
- Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza wrote in a letter to his lawyer that he was in four months of solitary confinement after being transferred to a new Siberian penal colony. In the letter, published by his wife, he said the move was punishment for not standing up when a guard commanded him to “rise”, which he said the authorities had deemed a “malicious violation”. Kara-Murza, a critic of President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, was jailed for 25 years last April after being found guilty of treason.
- Russian investigators charged two 17-year-olds with carrying out sabotage for Ukraine after they set fire to a rail-side equipment box in Moscow. The two have been remanded in custody and face as long as 20 years in prison if found guilty.
- Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia had more than doubled production of air defence missiles and aimed to further increase production but that there were “questions” over engine and launcher production that needed to be addressed,
- Ukraine is expected to receive its first batch of the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), a new long-range precision bomb developed by Boeing, as soon as Wednesday, according to Politico. The new bomb can travel about 145km (90 miles) and will give Ukraine “a deeper strike capability they haven’t had”, a US official told the magazine.