These are the main developments as the war enters its 696th day.
Here is the situation on Saturday, January 20, 2024.
- Ukraine has attacked an oil depot in western Russia, where four oil reservoirs with a total capacity of 6,000 cubic metres (212,000 cubic feet) caught fire, a Ukrainian security services source told the AFP news agency. The attack targeted the facility in Klintsy, about 70km (45 miles) from the Ukrainian border.
- An official in Ukraine’s intelligence service claimed Ukrainian drones attacked a gunpowder mill in Russia’s Tambov, local media has reported.
- Russian shelling in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region has killed a 57-year-old woman and a man was killed by a land mine, the Ukrainian president’s office confirmed.
- The Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border cancelled its traditional Orthodox Epiphany festivities on Friday due to the threat of Ukrainian drone strikes.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that landmines are once again surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which is in Russian hands. Mines at Europe’s largest nuclear facility had been removed in November by the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
Diplomacy and politics
- The European Union has said it will drastically increase ammunition production this year in response to Ukraine’s growing pleas for support in its war against Russia.
- The EU also aims to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia next month to mark the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the AFP news agency and Bloomberg News reported. The bloc has already hit Russia with 12 rounds of sanctions.
- Finland does not see any immediate military threat from Russia, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said at a news conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. “We in Finland sleep peacefully at night because we are well prepared,” Orpo said.
- Ukraine has called on Western nations to stop Russia from sourcing key parts for its own weapons production.
- The Kremlin has said there is no prospect of reviving the Black Sea grain deal – which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey – and that alternative routes for shipping Ukrainian grain carried huge risks.
- The lower house of Russia’s parliament plans to formally ask France’s National Assembly if it is aware that French mercenaries have been fighting on Ukraine’s side. France has denied the allegations, calling them a “disinformation” plot.
- A court in Siberia sentenced a truck driver to 19 years in prison for shooting a military enlistment officer in 2022, while prosecutors in Saint Petersburg asked for a 28-year sentence for a woman charged in the bombing of a cafe last April that killed a prominent military blogger, with both cases underscoring the tensions in Russian society over the war.