As the war enters its 692nd day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.
- Ukraine said it shot down a Russian A-50 spy plane and an Il-22 command post aircraft in the area of the Sea of Azov. Army chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi praised Ukraine’s Air Force saying it had “perfectly planned and executed” the operation. Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, told a briefing that Russia had used the plane extensively to prepare for and conduct long-range missile strikes on Ukraine. “We expect such a strike [on the A-50] to be fairly painful and, at least, to delay powerful missile strikes,” she said.
- Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s number two military commander, said the country’s troops were on “active defence” against the Russians who were pressing in multiple directions along the eastern front with the aim of wresting full control of the industrial Donbas region despite heavy losses in men and supplies. Russia was also hoping to claw back ground it lost in the southern Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, he added. “Our goals remain unchanged: holding our positions… exhausting the enemy by inflicting maximum losses,” Syrskyi told the Reuters news agency in an interview.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry said air defence systems destroyed three Ukraine-launched Tochka-U missiles over southwest Russia’s Kursk region. There were no reports of damage. The Tochka-U is a short-range ballistic missile.
Politics and diplomacy
- Switzerland said it would host a summit on Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was in the country on Monday to meet Swiss officials and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Measures in Zelenskyy’s formula include the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the end of hostilities and the release of all prisoners and detainees. Zelenskyy said it was important that China attend the discussions.
- The Kremlin dismissed weekend talks on the proposals held by officials from 83 countries, saying there could be no progress on peace without Russia’s involvement. Russia currently occupies about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory.
- The United Nations appealed for $4.2bn from donors on Monday to support war-ravaged communities in Ukraine as well as Ukrainian refugees in 2024. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says more than 14.6 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will need humanitarian assistance this year as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion. More than 6.3 million people have fled overseas. Four million people, including nearly 1 million children, remain displaced within the country, according to OCHA.
- Russia said it sentenced more than 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war to lengthy sentences, with some getting life in prison. Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, told state news outlet RIA Novosti that the POWs had committed “murder of civilians and mistreating prisoners [of war]” and that prosecutions would continue.
- Russia jailed a 20-year-old student for five years for allegedly working with Ukrainian special services and planning sabotage attacks on military bases. FSB security services in the central Russian city of Kurgan said the man had earlier been detained on suspicion of working with a foreign state.
- Russia said it aimed to deepen ties with North Korea and build on discussions between President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome last year, as the two countries’ foreign ministers prepared to meet in Moscow. The United States and others have accused Pyongyang of sending weapons to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine.
- Putin spoke on the phone with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, discussing Ukraine, with the two wishing each other well in upcoming elections, according to the Kremlin.
- Yuriy Nikolov, a prominent Ukrainian investigative journalist who has frequently criticised senior government officials, said unidentified men tried to break down his door and demand that he join the army. Nikolov, who was not at home at the time, said he did not know who was responsible.