As the war enters its 709th day, these are the main developments.

Here is the situation on Friday, February 2, 2024.

Fighting

  • Oleksandr Prokudin, the governor of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, said two French volunteer aid workers were killed after a Russian drone attack on the town of Beryslav. Four people were injured, three of them foreigners.
  • One person was killed and two injured in Russian shelling and rocket attacks on villages in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian presidential office said.
  • Ukraine said four people were injured in a Russian missile attack on a medical facility in the eastern Kharkiv region, near the front line town of Kupiansk.
  • Ukraine’s military intelligence agency GUR, said it attacked and sank the Russian corvette Ivanovets in the Black Sea using undersea drones. The private security firm Ambrey said Ukraine used up to six sea drones in the attack. There was no official word from Russia on the alleged sinking.
  • In an opinion piece published by CNN, Ukraine’s army chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi called the development of unmanned weapons systems “a central driver” of the war. Zaluzhnyi also laid out key issues for Ukraine including mobilisation and arms production.
  • Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s main state criminal investigation agency, said evidence from missile fragments suggested two Patriot missiles brought down the Russian Il-76 military transport plane that crashed near the border with Ukraine last month. Kyiv has neither confirmed nor denied a role in the crash.
  • Russia’s Defence Ministry said air defences shot down 11 Ukrainian drones over the Russian regions of Belgorod, Kursk and Voronezh.

Politics and diplomacy

  • European Union leaders overcame objections from Hungary to approve a 50 billion euro ($54bn) aid package to support Ukraine over the next four years.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the approval, saying it was “critically important” for Ukraine’s stability and a “clear signal” both to Russia and the United States, where a massive assistance package remains held up in Congress.
  • China demanded that Ukraine immediately remove some 14 Chinese companies from Kyiv’s list of firms designated as “international sponsors of war”, the Reuters news agency reported.
  • A Russian court extended the pretrial detention of journalist Alsu Kurmasheva. The dual US-Russian citizen, who works for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was jailed in October and accused of failing to register as a “foreign agent” and spreading “false information” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Thailand deported members of Bi-2, a dissident Russian-Belarusian rock band critical of Moscow’s war in Ukraine, to Israel after they were arrested for performing without a permit. Human rights groups warned the group would face persecution for their criticism of the war if they were sent to Russia.
  • Latvia’s parliament voted to ban its national teams from playing any national teams of Russia and Belarus regardless of what flag they may compete under, as a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine.

Weapons

  • Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, called on the US to supply A-10 attack jets to Ukraine, arguing they would significantly strengthen Ukraine’s frontline capabilities.

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