As the war enters its 708th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Thursday, February 1, 2024.
- A Russian bomb hit a hospital in northeastern Ukraine, forcing the evacuation of dozens of patients, smashing windows and damaging equipment. Volodymyr Tymoshko, head of the Kharkiv regional branch of the national police, said the bomb made a direct hit on the hospital in the town of Velykyi Burluk, northeast of Kharkiv, and a second bomb landed nearby. Four people were slightly injured.
- Ukraine’s air defences shot down 14 out of 20 drones launched by Russia in an overnight attack that injured one person and damaged commercial buildings. The air force said the Iranian-made Shahed drones and three Iskander missiles targeted five Ukrainian regions in the south and the east.
- Russia said it destroyed 20 missiles launched by Ukraine over the Black Sea and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow invaded in 2014 and then annexed.
- Ukraine’s air force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said its forces struck the Belbek military airfield in Crimea. He did not go into detail.
Politics and diplomacy
- Russia and Ukraine exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war. Russia’s Defence Ministry said 195 of its soldiers were freed, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 207 people, including some civilians, had been returned to Ukraine.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told his country’s parliament that he would rally European partners to deliver support for Ukraine that was “so huge” it would weigh on Russian President Vladimir Putin. His comments came ahead of a key European Union summit on 50 billion euros ($54bn) of funding for Ukraine that is being blocked by Hungary.
- Victoria Nuland, the United States acting deputy secretary of state, visited Kyiv and said she was encouraged by Ukraine’s strengthening defences and that Moscow should expect some “surprises” on the battlefield. A US military aid package for Ukraine is being held up in Congress by Republicans who want to link it to policy changes at the US border. Nuland said she was confident it would be adopted.
- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected much of a case filed by Ukraine that accused Russia of bankrolling separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine a decade ago, saying only that Moscow had failed to investigate alleged breaches.
- Boris Nadezhdin submitted his bid to run for the Russian presidency in March’s election after delivering 105,000 signatures backing his campaign to the Central Election Commission (CEC). The 60-year-old has emerged as a prominent critic of the Kremlin and promised to end the war in Ukraine.
- The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell admitted that the EU’s promise to supply Ukraine with one million artillery shells by March would fall short, with just over half that number expected to be delivered by that deadline. The remaining 155-mm artillery shells are likely to be delivered by the end of the year, Borrell said.