Home » Russia-Ukraine war live: Drone attack in southern Ukraine damages gas pipeline – as it happened

Russia-Ukraine war live: Drone attack in southern Ukraine damages gas pipeline – as it happened

Gas pipeline and buildings damaged in Mykolaiv drone attack

More now on those overnight drone attacks overnight on Kyiv and southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian officials say falling debris from a downed drone and the blast wave damaged a gas pipeline and residential buildings in the river and sea port of Mykolaiv.

Ukraine’s southern military command said on Telegram that its air defence systems were engaged for more than five hours and destroyed 26 Russia-launched Shahed drones over several southern regions, chiefly over the Mykolaiv region near the Black Sea, according to Reuters.

At least one civilian was injured, the military said.

“The priority for the enemy was again the coastal strip of infrastructure and agro-industrial facilities,” the military said.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app that its air defence systems destroyed 40 out of 45 Russia-launched Shahed attack drones overnight.

“The air alert in the capital lasted almost two hours,” Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on Telegram.

He added that over Kyiv all the drones were downed on their approach, with no casualties.

Skies over Kyiv were declared clear shortly before 4am (0200 GMT).

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

Both Russia and Ukraine have increased their air attacks away from the frontline in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.

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Key events

Summary

Here are some of today’s key events:

  • Top western officials have weighed in to criticise former president Donald Trump after he suggested the U.S. might not protect Nato allies who aren’t spending enough on defence from a potential Russian invasion.

  • Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said any suggestion Nato allies would not defend each other undermines all of the alliance’s security and puts US and European soldiers at risk.. “Any attack on Nato will be met with a united and forceful response,” he said.

  • The White House also rejected the comments, calling them “appalling and unhinged”. Trump made the statement on Saturday during a campaign rally in Conway, South Carolina, ahead of the state’s Republican presidential preference primary on 24 February.

  • Ukraine has claimed that Russian forces were using terminals of Elon Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink in occupied areas, releasing what it said was an intercept of an exchange between two Russian soldiers as proof of its “systemic” use. Starlink systems have been vital for Ukraine’s battlefield communications throughout Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion as Kyiv has faced a larger and better-equipped military.

  • A narrowly divided U.S. Senate will try to move closer to passing a $95.34 billion (£75.49 billion) aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Sunday, while hoping to show enough bipartisan support to propel the measure all the way through Congress.The legislation needs 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle and continue toward Senate passage in the coming days.

  • A Russian drone strike on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, killed seven people, including three children, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov reported Saturday. A Ukrainian prosecutor, her husband, and their three small children were among the seven killed after the strike hit an oil depot, triggering blazes that burned half a street to the ground, officials said. An elderly couple living in the same street were also killed in the attack that mayor Ihor Terekhov said injured 57 people and razed 15 homes.

  • President Zelenskiy has appointed Oleksandr Pavliuk, former first deputy defence minister, as the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces. Pavliuk, a lieutenant-general who served in the ministry role for a year, replaces Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi after he was appointed this week as commander of Ukraine’s armed forces. Zelenskiy has announced five senior military appointments.

  • The UK’s Ministry of Defence said there are indications that Russia’s war with Ukraine is contributing to a shortage of healthcare professionals across Russia. In its latest intelligence update, the MoD adds the heavy resource and financial burden of the war is negatively affecting a range of civilian sectors.

  • Russia’s registration of candidates for the March presidential election has closed, TASS reported on Sunday, with a list including president Vladimir Putin and three politicians who all support Moscow’s war in Ukraine. The list did not include the Russian anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin after the Central Election Commission barred him on Thursday from running. Nadezhdin said on Thursday he would challenge the CEC’s decision in Russia’s supreme court.

  • Japan will pledge 15.8bn yen ($106m) in aid to Ukraine at a conference to be held in Tokyo on 19 February, Kyodo News reported on Sunday, citing unidentified sources. The funding will be used for reconstruction in seven areas, including agriculture and the disposal of rubble, Kyodo said.

  • Centre-right Alexander Stubb of the National Coalition Party is the frontrunner in Finland’s presidential run-off on Sunday, according to opinion polls, as the Nordic country elects a new leader of its security and foreign policy. The election marks a new era in Finland after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The winner is expected to be known by around 2100 GMT.

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Western officials hit out at Trump over Nato comments

Top western officials have weighed in to criticise former president Donald Trump after he suggested the US might not protect NATO allies who aren’t spending enough on defence from a potential Russian invasion, Reuters reports.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” said NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in a written statement. “Any attack on NATO will be met with a united and forceful response,” he added.

Polish defence minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said: “NATO’s motto ‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete commitment. Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire NATO,” he wrote on social media platform X. “No election campaign is an excuse for playing with the security of the Alliance.”

Germany’s foreign ministry posted the message ‘One for all and all for one’ with the hashtag #StrongerTogether on its English language X account following Trump’s comments.

EU council president Charles Michel said: “Reckless statements on #NATO*s security and Art 5 solidarity serve only (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s interest.”

Article 5 of the NATO treaty says that an armed attack against an alliance member will be considered an attack against them all, triggering collective self-defence.

Trump, speaking during a political rally in South Carolina and appearing to recount a meeting with NATO leaders, quoted the president of “a big country” that he did not name as asking, “Well sir, if we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia – will you protect us?” “I said: ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ He said: ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No I would not protect you. In fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay.”

“We have heard that before … Nothing new under the sun”, said EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton in an interview with France’s LCI television, adding:
“He maybe has issues with his memory, it was actually a female president, not of a country, but of the European Union,” Breton said, referring to European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and a conversation she had with Trump in 2020.
“We cannot flip a coin about our security every four years depending on this or that election, namely the U.S. presidential election,” Breton said, adding European Union leaders understood the bloc needed to boost its own military spending and capacities.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates, asked about Trump’s comments, said, “Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged – and it endangers American national security, global stability and our economy at home.”

NATO’s 31 members have agreed on a target of spending at least 2% of gross domestic product on defence, but NATO estimates have shown that only 11 are spending that much.

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Nato has issued a response to comments earlier by former US president Donald Trump about not protecting Nato allies who are not paying enough.

Any suggestion that Nato allies would not defend each other undermines all of the alliance’s security and puts US and European soldiers at risk, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Sunday, Reuters reports.

“Any attack on Nato will be met with a united and forceful response”, he added,

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Centre-right Alexander Stubb of the National Coalition Party is the frontrunner in Finland’s presidential run-off on Sunday, according to opinion polls, as the Nordic country elects a new leader of its security and foreign policy.

The election marks a new era in Finland after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The winner is expected to be known by around 2100 GMT.

Reuters reports:
The vote marks a new era in Finland, which for decades has elected presidents to foster diplomacy, in particular with neighbouring Russia, and opted not to join military alliances so it could soothe tensions between Moscow and Nato.

But Finns changed their minds about playing that role after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, in a rapid u-turn that led to Finland joining Nato in April last year.

Now under the western alliance’s security umbrella, the new president will replace Sauli Niinisto, who is retiring after two six-year terms in which he earned the nickname “the Putin Whisperer” for his previous close ties with the Russian leader.

Niinisto’s successor will have a central role in defining Finland’s Nato policies, while leading on overall foreign and security policy in close cooperation with the government and acting as a commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Stubb, a former prime minister, won the election’s first round on 28 January with 27.2% of the ballots ahead of liberal Green party member Pekka Haavisto on 25.8%. He has also led Haavisto in surveys, most recently by 6-8 percentage points.

Both candidates are pro-European and strong supporters of Ukraine who have taken a tough stance towards Russia in their campaigns.

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President Zelenskiy poses for a photograph with his newly appointed military commanders.

Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy (sixth from right) attends a meeting with newly appointed top military commanders in Kyiv including new commander in chief, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, (fifth from right) Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

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A narrowly divided U.S. Senate will try to move closer to passing a $95.34 billion (£75.49 billion) aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Sunday, while hoping to show enough bipartisan support to propel the measure all the way through Congress.

Reuters reports:
The legislation needs 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle and continue toward Senate passage in the coming days. It could move more quickly if Democrats and Republicans reach an agreement to fast-track the measure, though even then it will face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The money is viewed as crucial by Kyiv as it grinds toward the second anniversary of a Russian invasion. Democratic President Joe Biden, who has been seeking the aid for months on Friday said Congress would be guilty of “neglect” if it failed to pass the measure.
Voting is expected to begin around 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who has a slim 219-212 Republican majority, has indicated he could try to split the aid provisions into separate measures, once the bill arrives from the Senate.

But a standalone aid bill for Israel fell victim in the House last week to opposition from Democrats who favour the broader Senate legislation and from hardline Republicans who wanted compensating spending cuts in a pair of humiliating defeats for Johnson.

The bill includes $61 billion (£48.3 billion) for Ukraine , $14 billion (£11 billion) for Israel in its war against Hamas, and $4.83 billion (£3.8 billion) to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, and deter aggression by China.
It also would provide $9.15 billion (£7.24 billion) in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones around the globe, according to Reuters.

Ukraine claims Russia using Musk’s Starlink

Ukraine claimed on Sunday that Russian forces were using terminals of Elon Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink in occupied areas, releasing what it said was an intercept of an exchange between two Russian soldiers as proof of its “systemic” use.

Starlink systems have been vital for Ukraine’s battlefield communications throughout Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion as Kyiv has faced a larger and better-equipped military.

According to a Reuters report, the defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence posted an audio clip on Telegram which it said featured troops from Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade discussing setting up the terminals in eastern Ukraine.

The directorate gave no details about the alleged scale of use, or how the terminals were obtained, Reuters reports.

Spokesman Andriy Yusov told Ukrainian media on Saturday that the matter was “beginning to take on a systemic nature”. Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

SpaceX, which runs Starlink terminals, said in a statement on X last week that it “does not do business of any kind with the Russian government or its military”, and that its service does not work in Russia.

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Outgunned and exhausted: what hope for Ukraine if US military aid dries up?

With Republicans blocking US military aid, if Europe does not plug the gap Ukraine risks slow motion defeat, the Guardian’s defence and security correspondent, Dan Sabbagh, writes.

You can read read his analysis here:

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said there are indications that Russia’s war with Ukraine is contributing to a shortage of healthcare professionals across Russia.

In its latest intelligence update, the MoD adds the heavy resource and financial burden of the war is negatively affecting a range of civilian sectors.

You can watch video footage of the Russian drone attack on Kharkiv here:

Fire rips through buildings in Kharkiv after Russian drone attack – video

Japan will pledge 15.8bn yen ($106m) in aid to Ukraine at a conference to be held in Tokyo on 19 February, Kyodo News reported on Sunday, citing unidentified sources.

The funding will be used for reconstruction in seven areas, including agriculture and the disposal of rubble, Kyodo said.

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida and Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal are set to attend the conference, along with government and industry representatives from both countries, national broadcaster NHK reported on Saturday.

Japan’s cabinet secretariat was not available for comment outside of regular working hours, Reuters reports.

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President Zelenskiy has appointed Oleksandr Pavliuk, former first deputy defence minister, as the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, according to a decree published on Sunday.

Pavliuk, a lieutenant-general who served in the ministry role for a year, replaces Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi after he was appointed this week as commander of Ukraine’s armed forces.

On Saturday, Zelenskiy announced five other senior military appointments, filling out a rebooted team to bolster defences against Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion.

Reuters reports Ukraine is experiencing a shortage of men and equipment as it heads into 2024 having made few battlefield gains throughout the past year. It also faces a disruption in military aid from the United States, its biggest backer.

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In case you missed our story earlier, the White House has rejected comments made by Donald Trump about not protecting NATO allies from a potential Russian invasion as “appalling and unhinged”.

On Saturday, Trump claimed that during an unspecified Nato meeting he told a fellow head of state that the US under his leadership would not defend any countries who were “delinquent”.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’” Trump said, adding “I said, ‘You didn’t pay, you’re delinquent?’”

“No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.”

Read our full story here:

Gas pipeline and buildings damaged in Mykolaiv drone attack

More now on those overnight drone attacks overnight on Kyiv and southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian officials say falling debris from a downed drone and the blast wave damaged a gas pipeline and residential buildings in the river and sea port of Mykolaiv.

Ukraine’s southern military command said on Telegram that its air defence systems were engaged for more than five hours and destroyed 26 Russia-launched Shahed drones over several southern regions, chiefly over the Mykolaiv region near the Black Sea, according to Reuters.

At least one civilian was injured, the military said.

“The priority for the enemy was again the coastal strip of infrastructure and agro-industrial facilities,” the military said.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app that its air defence systems destroyed 40 out of 45 Russia-launched Shahed attack drones overnight.

“The air alert in the capital lasted almost two hours,” Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on Telegram.

He added that over Kyiv all the drones were downed on their approach, with no casualties.

Skies over Kyiv were declared clear shortly before 4am (0200 GMT).

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

Both Russia and Ukraine have increased their air attacks away from the frontline in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.

Updated at 

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to the Ukraine live blog. It’s just after 10am in Kyiv.

Russia launched drone attacks overnight on Kyiv and southern Ukraine, injuring at least one civilian and damaging a gas pipeline and residential buildings in the river and sea port of Mykolaiv, Ukraine’s military said on Sunday.

Ukraine’s southern military command said on Telegram that its air defence systems were engaged for more than five hours and destroyed 26 Russia-launched Shahed drones over several southern regions, chiefly over the Mykolaiv region near the Black Sea.

At least one civilian was injured in the southern Ukraine attack, the military said.

In Kyiv all the drones were downed on their approach and there were no casualties nor destruction in or near the capital.

In other news:

  • A Russian drone strike on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, killed seven people, including three children, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov reported Saturday. A Ukrainian prosecutor, her husband, and their three small children were among the seven killed after the strike hit an oil depot, triggering blazes that burned half a street to the ground, officials said. An elderly couple living in the same street were also killed in the attack that mayor Ihor Terekhov said injured 57 people and razed 15 homes.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Saturday that “Russian terrorists” would be held accountable for the Kharkiv attack: “It should be noted that in history, the perpetrators of such murders did not go unpunished,” he said.

  • Zelenskiy also announced five senior military appointments, filling out a rebooted team after he named Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new armed forces chief. Zelenskiy said he spent the day meeting his military leadership and government and that experienced “combat commanders of this war” would be taking on new duties. The country is closing in on two years of war since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting with newly appointed top military commanders. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters
  • Nato’s secretary general called on Europe to increase its arms production to support Ukraine and prevent “potentially decades of confrontation” with Moscow, in an interview published by German media Saturday. Ahead of a key meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg insisted that “we need to reconstitute and expand our industrial base faster, to increase deliveries to Ukraine and refill our own stocks”.

  • The White House on Saturday rejected comments made by former US president Donald Trump about not protecting Nato allies from a potential Russian invasion as “appalling and unhinged”. Trump made the statement on Saturday during a campaign rally in Conway, South Carolina, ahead of the state’s Republican presidential preference primary on 24 February.

  • Russia said on Saturday it had repelled an attempted Ukrainian drone attack on Russian “civilian transport ships” on Friday evening in the south-western part of the Black Sea, a key artery for grain and oil exports from both countries. Civilian vessels on the Black Sea have not generally been targeted since Moscow ordered its troops into Ukraine in February 2022, but last July both sides said they would start treating ships headed to the other’s ports as potential carriers of military cargo.

  • Russia’s registration of candidates for the March presidential election has closed, TASS reported on Sunday, with a list including president Vladimir Putin and three politicians who all support Moscow’s war in Ukraine. The list did not include the Russian anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin after the Central Election Commission barred him on Thursday from running. Nadezhdin said on Thursday he would challenge the CEC’s decision in Russia’s supreme court.

  • Centre-right Alexander Stubb of the National Coalition Party is the frontrunner in Finland’s presidential run-off on Sunday, according to opinion polls. Stubb, a former prime minister, won the election’s first round ahead of liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto. Both candidates are pro-European and strong supporters of Ukraine who have taken a tough stance towards Russia in their campaigns, after Finland joined Nato in April last year.