Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Moscow moves troops into eastern Ukraine ahead of new offensive, Luhansk governor says

LIVE – Updated at 05:49

Serhiy Haidai says Russian reserves are being deployed ‘in our direction’ as they prepare for a ‘full-scale offensive’ this month.

Summary and welcome


Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. I’m Jordyn Beazley and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments as they unfold over the next hour.

Russia has been pouring reinforcements into eastern Ukraine ahead of a new offensive that could begin next week along a front where there have been relentless battles for months, Reuters reports, citing a Ukrainian governor.

“We are seeing more and more [Russian] reserves being deployed in our direction, we are seeing more equipment being brought in … ,” said Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of the mainly Russian-occupied province.

“They bring ammunition that is used differently than before – it is not round-the-clock shelling anymore. They are slowly starting to save, getting ready for a full-scale offensive,” Haidai told Ukrainian television.

“It will most likely take them 10 days to gather reserves. After 15 February we can expect [this offensive] at any time.”

Here are some of the other latest developments:

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said personnel changes on the border and frontline would bolster Ukraine’s military efforts amid uncertainty over the future of his defence minister. “We are bolstering our managerial positions,” Zelenskiy said in his Monday evening address. “In a number of regions, particularly those on the border or on the frontline, we will appoint leaders with military experience. Those who can show themselves to be the most effective in defending against existing threats.”

  • The EU is preparing for a potential visit by Zelenskiy to Brussels on Thursday to meet the bloc’s leaders and address parliament. The European Council chief, Charles Michel, invited Zelenskiy to take part in a “future summit” of the 27 EU nations, his spokesperson said Monday. Zelenskiy was invited “to participate in person”, the spokesperson said, adding that, for security reasons, “no further information will be provided”.

  • Russia launched five missile and 12 air attacks as well as 36 shelling attacks over a 24-hour period, hitting southern targets such as Kherson, the Ukrainian armed forces said on Monday evening.

  • Ukrainian aircraft also launched nine strikes on a concentration of Russian forces and two anti-aircraft positions. Battleground reports could not be immediately verified.

  • Weeks of intense fighting continued to rage around the city of Bakhmut and the nearby towns of Soledar and Vuhledar, Ukraine’s presidential office said. Ukraine said on Monday evening that Russian forces had used tank, mortar and artillery fire in Bakhmut in the past 24 hours. The UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russia was continuing to make small advances in its efforts to encircle Bakhmut. “While multiple alternative cross-country supply routes remain available to Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is increasingly isolated.”

  • Russian forces are attempting to tie down Ukrainian forces with fighting in the eastern Donbas region, Ukraine has said. Moscow is reportedly assembling additional troops there for an expected offensive in the coming weeks, perhaps targeting the Luhansk region. “The battles for the region are heating up,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk. In Luhansk, fellow governor Serhiy Haidai said shelling there had subsided because “the Russians have been saving ammunition for a large-scale offensive”.

  • The western area of the Luhansk region is likely to be the focus of any new Russian offensive, Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, who has been tipped to take over the Ministry of Defence, has said. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said that offensive would most likely be launched by “proper mechanised brigades” rather than the ill-trained reservists and Wagner mercenaries who have been suffering heavy casualties in recent battles.

  • Ukraine has faced temperatures as low as -20C this winter, at the same time as dealing with a humanitarian crisis as Russia hits key civilian infrastructure. Areas in Dnipro, Donetsk and Kharkiv are particularly vulnerable, according to research. Some areas are housing tens of thousands of displaced people through the winter, at the same time as crucial infrastructure – including energy and housing – is being targeted by Russian missiles and artillery.

  • The UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, has warned the world is walking into a “wider war” over Ukraine. Addressing the UN general assembly just weeks before the first anniversary of Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said: “The prospects for peace keep diminishing. The chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing.”

  • Germany’s plan to quickly assemble two battalions of Leopard 2 tanks from European allies and send them to Ukraine is progressing more slowly than expected. Several states have yet to decide whether they can spare vehicles. In Europe, other than Berlin, only Poland and Portugal have so far made concrete promises to contribute. Ukrainian soldiers are supposed to start being trained on Leopard 2 tanks in Germany and Poland from this week. “Germany’s commitment stands,” government spokesperson Wolfgang Büchner said on Monday.

  • Canada’s defence minister, Anita Anand, shared an image of the first Canadian-donated Leopard tank arriving in Poland. “Alongside our allies, we’ll soon be training the armed forces of Ukraine in the use of this equipment,” she tweeted.

  • Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, has proposed his country should provide 75bn Norwegian kroner (£6.1 bn) in aid to Ukraine over five years. Half of the aid in 2023 would fund Kyiv’s military requirements while the rest would go to humanitarian needs, although this split could change in coming years, he said. The announcement comes after Støre’s government came under pressure to increase support for Ukraine, after earning billions in extra oil and gas revenue from Russia’s war.

  • The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will not be meeting Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow this week, the Kremlin has said. Grossi is expected to meet officials from the Russian state nuclear energy firm Rosatom and the foreign ministry, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow expected a “substantive dialogue”.

  • Russia’s oil and gas revenues plunged 46% in January, compared with the same month in 2022, under the impact of the price cap on oil exports imposed by western allies over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s finance ministry said budget revenue in January was 35% lower compared with the same month in 2022, the last month before Russia sent troops into Ukraine.

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