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Ukraine updates: Russia blames deadly shelling on Kyiv

Published February 4, 2024last updated February 4, 2024

Moscow is claiming that Western weapons were used in the bombing of a Russian-held city that killed more than two dozen people. DW has the latest.

Russian Emergency Ministry employees work at the side of a collapsed bakery after the Lysychansk bombing
Rescuers pulled at least 10 people from rubble in Lysychansk, the Russian Emergency Ministry said Image: Russian Emergency Ministry Press Service/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Russia says it expects condemnation from Western nations for Ukraine over a shelling that killed 28. 

Moscow claims the attack took place using weapons supplied by Kyiv's NATO backers.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Sunday, February 4:

Skip next section UK says 1,000 Wagner fighters remain in Belarus
February 4, 2024

UK says 1,000 Wagner fighters remain in Belarus

The British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence briefing that some 1,000 fighters with the Russian private military force known as the Wagner Group have remained in Belarus to train soldiers and local security forces.

Around 8,000 Wagner mercenaries arrived in Belarus in June 2023 after their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin's failed uprising against the Russian military.

"It is unlikely that Belarusian President (Alexander) Lukashenko would use the Wagner mercenaries beyond their current remit," the intelligence briefing said.

"They are involved in the training of Ministry of Interior troops but are highly unlikely to participate directly in maintaining domestic or border security in Belarus."

Skip next section Zelenskyy visits southern front line
February 4, 2024

Zelenskyy visits southern front line

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited the front line, meeting troops in the village of Robotyne in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

Zelenskyy said on social media that he spoke to "the defenders, thanked them and presented state awards" during his Sunday visit, describing it as an "honor."

The president was seen in uniform in a video depicting the visit, meeting soldiers in a dark room.

"I have the great honor to be here today, to reward you, because you have such a difficult and decisive mission on your shoulders to repel the enemy and win this war," Zelenskyy said. "I wish you victory, I want to reward you and I wish you to do everything to achieve this victory sooner."

The brigade Zelenskyy met, the 65th brigade, led an assault on Robotyne last summer which saw Kyiv retake the small village from Russian forces, as part of its counteroffensive.

Ukraine had at the time hailed the victory as a major success, but Moscow has been consistently attacking Robotyne since, with the village becoming among the main hotspots on the southern front.

Skip next section Kyiv reports heavy fighting in past day near Avdiivka
February 4, 2024

Kyiv reports heavy fighting in past day near Avdiivka

Ukraine's General Staff says Ukrainian forces have come under intense Russian attack over the past 24 hours along the front lines in the east.

The fighting has been particularly intense in the eastern city of Avdiivka, where Russia is trying to surround Ukrainian troops, officials said. 

They added that Ukraine repelled 27 Russian attacks near Avdiivka, which Russia has been trying to seize for months, as well as the nearby village of Novokalynove.

Avdiivka has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after it briefly fell to Russian troops but was recaptured by Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Kyiv's forces were also reported to have been on the defensive in Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, and Zaporizhzhia amid the intensified onslaught.

On the front line with Ukrainian drone pilots

Skip next section Ukraine says repelled border breakthrough in Sumy
February 4, 2024

Ukraine says repelled border breakthrough in Sumy

In Ukraine's northern Sumy region, the military administration says Russian forces fired on border communities in 16 separate attacks on Saturday.

Yunakivka, Bilopillia, Krasnopillia, Velyka Pysarivka, and Esman were all said to have been targeted.

Commander of the Ukrainian Joint Forces Serhii Naiev also said Kyiv's forces had repelled Russian sabotage and reconnaissance units attempting to cross the frontier from Russia into Sumy.

The reported incursion indicates that Moscow may be  seeking to test vulnerabilities in Ukraine's defenses. Many of Kyiv's troops and resources are deployed elsewhere, in the eastern regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv.

Skip next section HBO drops Serbian actor from 'The White Lotus' due to Russian ties
February 4, 2024

HBO drops Serbian actor from 'The White Lotus' due to Russian ties

US giant HBO has announced dropping Serbian actor Milos Bikovic from the cast of its hit series "The White Lotus," over his connections to Russia.

An HBO spokesperson told the French AFP news agency that "we have decided to part ways with Milos Bikovic and the role will be recast."

The announcement of casting Bikovic for the third season of the show was sharply criticized by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

"HBO, is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?" the ministry tweeted at the US production company on January 24. It accused Bikovic of "supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion."

The actor condemned HBO's decision as "the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art." He denied supporting any wars, saying that growing up in the former Yugoslavia, "a war-torn country," means he "could never wish such devastation on anyone."

Bikovic has a large fan base in Russia and has starred in several Russian-language projects. In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave him the Pushkin medal for contributions to Russian culture. He was then given Russian citizenship.

Skip next section Russia blames Ukraine for deadly Lysychansk shelling
February 4, 2024

Russia blames Ukraine for deadly Lysychansk shelling

The death toll from an attack on  the Moscow-controlled city of Lysychansk has risen to 28, Russian officials announced.

Russian-installed authorities say Ukraine targeted a bakery known for making fresh bread on weekends, and that Western weapons were used.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it expects "quick and unconditional condemnation" from international organisations.

Russia's Emergency Ministry said search and rescue operations were ongoing and that 10 people had been rescued from beneath the rubble.

Russia seized Lysychansk in July 2022 after months of heavy fighting. Only about a tenth of the city's pre-war population of 110,000 remain there, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine did not immediately comment on the shelling. 

Eastern Ukraine has seen bloody battles and intense fighting for many months, although the front has barely moved for much of that time. Lysychansk is about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from territory controled by Ukraine. 

Skip next section South Korea says Russian diplomat visited after North Korea row
February 4, 2024

South Korea says Russian diplomat visited after North Korea row

Russia's deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko has visited South Korea to discuss the Ukrainian war and bilateral ties, Seoul's Foreign Ministry says.

The trip took place after the two countries tradedy heated rhetoric over nuclear-armed North Korea.

Rudenko, who is Russia's deputy foreign minister with a brief for Asia-Pacific affairs, met his South Korean counterpart Chung Byung-won.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said Chung had expressed Seoul's "grave position" on Moscow's increasing cooperation with Pyongyang. It said he had urged Russia to take "responsible actions."

US: Russia firing North Korean missiles at Ukraine

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