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Ukraine updates: Kyiv says Russian warship destroyed

Published February 14, 2024last updated February 14, 2024

Ukraine's military says it successfully targeted a Russian landing vessel in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, NATO allies are holding talks focused on Ukraine ahead of an official meeting. DW has the latest.

Caezar Kunikov pictured landing a marine party tactical drills in the Black Sea
The large landing ship Caezar Kunikov took part in Russian military operations in Georgia in 2008Image: Sergey Pyatakov/RIA novosti/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The Ukrainian military says it has destroyed a large Russian landing ship off the occupied Crimea Peninsula.

Local media posted footage of smoke billowing and helicopters flying over the sea surface.

The Black Sea has become a key battleground in the war, with Kyiv's forces having increased attacks there more recently.

Meanwhile, NATO members' defense ministers are meeting unofficially to talk about support for Kyiv. 

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, February 14.

Skip next section Ukrainian troops 'running out of ammunition,' US national security adviser says
February 14, 2024

Ukrainian troops 'running out of ammunition,' US national security adviser says

Ukrainian troops are starting to run out of ammunition, a top White House official warned on Wednesday, as a huge package of US military assistance remained blocked by Republicans in Congress.

"We cannot afford to wait any longer. Every day comes at a cost to the people of Ukraine and to the national security interests of the United States of America," said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, as he urged the Republican-led House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Democrat-controlled Senate and pass the multi-billion-dollar package.

"The stakes are getting higher and the costs of inaction are also getting higher every day," he said.

"We've been increasingly getting reports of Ukrainian troops rationing or even running out of ammunition on the front lines, as Russian forces continue to attack both on the ground, and from the air trying to wear down Ukrainian air defenses."

Ukraine's new army chief, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said earlier Wednesday that the situation on the front line was "extremely difficult" as the delays to US military aid cast a shadow over his country's efforts to fight off the Russian invasion.

Sullivan laid responsibility for the future of the $95.34 billion package – which combines aid for Ukraine with support for Israel and also Taiwan – with House speaker Mike Johnson, who controls what bills are taken up for a vote.

"If that vote comes to the floor... it will pass on an overwhelming bipartisan basis, just as it did in the Senate," Sullivan insisted, saying that US allies and adversaries alike would be "watching this closely."

But Johnson indicated again on Wednesday he has no immediate plans to allow the chamber to vote on the package, saying "we're not going to be forced into action by the Senate."

Skip next section Pentagon chief vows to support Ukraine despite funding problems
February 14, 2024

Pentagon chief vows to support Ukraine despite funding problems

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States would not back down from providing short- and longer-term assistance to Ukraine, even as President Joe Biden's administration runs out of money for Kyiv and a request for additional funds stalls in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

"We will continue to dig deep to provide Ukraine with both short-term and long-term support," Austin said virtually, without mentioning the $95 billion (€89 billion) military aid package for Ukraine and other allies that has not been taken up yet by House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Austin said the contact group would work Wednesday on resourcing some of Ukraine's most critical near-term needs, "including its urgent need for more artillery, ammunition and air defense missiles."

The defense secretary was speaking from his house after he was forced to cancel a planned trip to Brussels for the NATO meeting because he was hospitalized to address a bladder issue.

Meanwhile, Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair, meeting with NATO military allies in Brussels, said Canada would donate $44 million to Ukraine to help in its war against Russia.

Skip next section Stoltenberg urges US House to pass Ukraine aid package
February 14, 2024

Stoltenberg urges US House to pass Ukraine aid package

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged the US House of Representatives to pass a "vital" multibillion-dollar military aid package for Ukraine. He told lawmakers that China would be emboldened if Russia wins its war.

"I count on the House of Representatives to agree support to Ukraine, because this is not charity. This is an investment in our own security," Stoltenberg told the Reuters news agency in an interview.

"If President Putin wins in Ukraine, it will send a message to him but also to other authoritarian leaders that they get what they want when they use military force. It will make the world more dangerous (and) us more vulnerable," he added. 

"Today it is Ukraine, tomorrow it can be in Taiwan. So Beijing, China is watching closely what's going on in Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

The US Senate passed a $95 billion (€89 billion) package of military aid for Ukraine and other US allies on Tuesday. But it is unclear whether the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will even take up the proposal.

Skip next section Russian pensioner gets 10 years for setting fire to military office
February 14, 2024

Russian pensioner gets 10 years for setting fire to military office

A Russian military court has sentenced a woman in her 60s to 10 years in a penal colony after finding her guilty of setting fire to an army recruitment office, the court's press service said.

Investigators found that Zhumagul Kurbanova had used gasoline and engine oil to set fire to the door of the military recruitment center in St. Petersburg in August.

Prosecutors charged Kurbanova, whose age was reported by various media outlets to be 66 or 67, with a terrorist offense. She reportedly admitted her guilt and repented in court.

Russia has recorded 220 attacks on military offices and other government facilities, as well as 184 cases of railway sabotage, in the two years since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Skip next section UK's Cameron calls on US Congress to approve aid to Ukraine
February 14, 2024

UK's Cameron calls on US Congress to approve aid to Ukraine

During a visit to Bulgaria, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron urged members of the US Congress to vote for a $95 billion (€89 billion) security aid package for Ukraine and other allies.

"We appeal to them to do the right thing to stop aggression, to be on the side of freedom, to stand up for a country that's defending its borders," Cameron said.

"This is absolutely crucial for American security. The whole world is going to be watching what happens in Congress," he added. 

The Republican leader of the US House of Representatives on Tuesday blocked war aid for Ukraine, ignoring President Joe Biden's plea that passing the bill was vital for standing up to "Russian dictator" Vladimir Putin. The bill was approved in the Senate earlier Tuesday. 

Skip next section NATO chief praises Ukraine's 'great victory' after Kyiv says warship destroyed
February 14, 2024

NATO chief praises Ukraine's 'great victory' after Kyiv says warship destroyed

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed Ukraine's recent gains in the Black Sea as a "great achievement," after Kyiv said it had destroyed another Russian warship near the shores of Crimea.

"The Ukrainians have been able to inflict heavy losses on the Russian Black Sea Fleet," Stoltenberg told a news conference. "And this is a great achievement, a great victory for Ukrainians."

The Caesar Kunikov amphibious ship sank near Alupka, a city on the southern edge of the Crimean peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014, Ukraine's General Staff said. It said the ship could carry 87 crew members. 

Successes in Black Sea show skill of Ukraine’s armed forces: Jens Stoltenberg

Skip next section Putin signs law to confiscate property of war critics
February 14, 2024

Putin signs law to confiscate property of war critics

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing authorities to confiscate the assets of those convicted of speaking out against Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The law allows authorities to seize money, property, assets and valuables from those convicted of criticizing the offensive. It could potentially target critical Russian exiles who have fled their country but still have property back home. 

Putin signed the document two weeks after Russia's parliament, the Duma, approved the bill. 

Moscow has banned criticism of its offensive and harshly punished those who publicly oppose it, having passed a series of harsh laws after sending troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia's crackdown on Ukraine war opponents

Skip next section Kremlin denies that Russia offered to freeze Ukraine war
February 14, 2024

Kremlin denies that Russia offered to freeze Ukraine war

The Kremlin has denied reports that Russia, through mediators, offered a cease-fire in Ukraine to the US to freeze the conflict in Ukraine.

"No, this is not true," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The Reuters news agency previously cited multiple Russian sources as saying that Russia's President Vladimir Putin floated such proposals in late 2023 and that White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan telephoned Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, in January.

Separately, a US source cited by Reuters denied that any official contact had taken place and added that Washington would not participate in talks that did not involve Ukraine.

Russian sources told the Reuters news agency that the efforts had failed because the US did not want to pressure Ukraine and believed that Kyiv should be involved. 

One of the sources also said that officials in Moscow did not believe that Washington felt that Russia's desire for peace was genuine.

Skip next section Ukraine's new army head Syrskyi visits front line
February 14, 2024

Ukraine's new army head Syrskyi visits front line

Thenewly appointed head of the Ukrainian military, Oleksandr Syrskyi, has described the situation on the front line as precarious after a visit to the eastern combat zone. 

Russian forces in the Donetsk region have been pressing to capture the town of Avdiivka and have poured huge resources and troops into the operation for incremental gains.

"The operational environment is extremely complex and stressful. The Russian occupiers continue to increase their efforts and have a numerical advantage in personnel," Syrsky said in a statement.

"We are doing everything possible to prevent the enemy from advancing deep into our territory and to hold the occupied positions," he added.

The Donetsk region of Ukraine has seen the worst fighting of the nearly two-year invasion.

Syrsky said he and Defense Minister Rustem Umerov had also visited Ukrainian forces further north, near the town of Kupiansk. Moscow's forces there have been trying to dislodge Ukrainian troops from their positions, and Kyiv is looking for new ways to bolster its defenses there.

"Based on the results of the work, a number of important decisions were made aimed at strengthening the combat capabilities of our military units and preventing enemy actions," Syrsky said, without elaborating on any changes.

"The Russian occupiers continue to increase their efforts and have a numerical advantage in personnel."  

Syrskyi, who has led Ukraine's ground forces since 2019, was promoted to replace Valeriy Zaluzhnyi as commander of the armed forces last week as the war with Russia approaches its third year.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy announces new command

Skip next section Russian missile attacks kill 3 in Donetsk region
February 14, 2024

Russian missile attacks kill 3 in Donetsk region

Ukrainian officials say Russia launched an overnight missile attack on the town of Selydove in the eastern Donetsk region, killing three people and injuring about a dozen.

A hospital and several apartments were damaged, they added.

One of the dead was a child, the city's military administration said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Donetsk region's Governor Vadym Filashkin also posted on Telegram that 100 patients had to be evacuated to hospitals in nearby towns after the bombardment hit a wing of the town's hospital.

He posted footage of blown-out windows, ripped-apart walls, and rubble inside an apparent medical facility, where patients were sitting or lying in beds.

Filashkin said another strike had blown up several apartments in a medium-sized residential building and that at least four people had been injured.

Russia and Ukraine have denied targeting civilians in attacks on each other's territories, claiming that their goal is to destroy important military, power, and transport infrastructure.

Skip next section Ukraine says destroyed another Russian warship
February 14, 2024

Ukraine says destroyed another Russian warship

Kyiv's military said its forces supported by military intelligence units have "destroyed" the Russian ship, the
Caesar Kunikov, in the Black Sea.

"It was in Ukrainian territorial waters near Alupka at the time of the hit," the military posted on the messaging app Telegram.

The targeted vessel, described as "a large Russian landing ship," took part in Russian military operations in Georgia in 2008.

An earlier report from local media outlet Ukrainska Pravda said sea drones had struck and damaged a ship off the Crimean Peninsula.

The news organization's website showed several videos of a column of smoke over the sea off the southern coast of Crimea, with helicopters also seen flying over the area.

Meanwhile, Moscow said it had intercepted six Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea, which has become a key battleground in the war, with Kyiv's forces having escalated attacks there more recently.

Ukrainian cruise missiles hit a large Russian landing warship in Crimea in December, killing at least one person.

Skip next section NATO allies talk Ukraine after Trump threat
February 14, 2024

NATO allies talk Ukraine after Trump threat

Defense ministers from NATO member states are meeting in Brussels to talk about their support for Ukraine, plus their commitment to spend at least 2% of gross domestic product on military and security needs.

The meeting is officially a US-coordinated gathering of Ukraine-supporting allies rather than NATO itself, although an official NATO ministerial meeting takes place on Thursday.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was hospitalized at the weekend, will be represented by the US ambassador to NATO Julie Smith.

The talks at NATO headquarters have been overshadowed by comments from former US President Donald Trump, who said he would "encourage" the Kremlin to "do whatever the hell they want" to NATO member states that do not meet the spending requirement. 

Allies have agreed since 2006 that they should spend 2% of GDP on defense. However, only a few met this target before Russia extended its invasion of Crimea and the Donbas to the whole of Ukraine in February 2022. 

NATO is holding largest military exercise in decades

Russia's invasion saw several NATO member states, most notably Europe's largest economy Germany, reaffirm their commitments. 

Berlin has now approved a national budget that allocated 2% of GDP to defense in 2024. 

The delegates will also discuss Swedish accession to NATO in Brussels. The push is being delayed by the Hungarian parliament failng to ratify the decision.

rc,dh/dj,wd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)