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Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy names new chief of staff

Published February 9, 2024last updated February 9, 2024

A shakeup at the highest echelons of Ukraine's military continues. Meanwhile, the new commander of the armed forces has called for a more "innovative" strategy in fighting Russia. DW has the latest.

A soldier inspects the remains of a Russian attack drone
Ukraine is replacing top military leadership amid increased Russian attacksImage: National Police Of Ukraine/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Staffing changes at the top of the Ukrainian military continued on Friday, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointing Major General Anatoliy Barhylevych as the new chief of the general staff.

He said the appointment was made at the recommendation of Ukraine's new commander-in-chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was appointed on Thursday. 

For his part, Syrskyi said on Friday that Ukraine needed to adapt and find innovative ways to fight Russia.


This live updates article has been closed. For the latest developments on the war in Ukraine, please click here

Here's a look at the developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, February 9:

Skip next section Ukraine's new general calls for 'innovative' strategy
February 9, 2024

Ukraine's new general calls for 'innovative' strategy

The newly appointed leader of Ukraine's armed forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said Friday that Ukraine must adapt and find innovative ways to fight Russia.

Syrskyi was appointed command of Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday, in the biggest shakeup of top brass since Russia's invasion nearly three years ago. 

In a message on Telegram, he wrote, "Only changes and constant improvement of the means and methods of warfare will make it possible to achieve success on this path."

Syrskyi pointed out drones and electronic warfare as examples of new technology that would help Ukraine achieve victory.

Skip next section Zelenskyy names new chief of general staff
February 9, 2024

Zelenskyy names new chief of general staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Major General Anatoliy Barhylevych as the new Chief of the General Staff, replacing Serhiy Shaptala.

Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address, described Barhylevych as "an experienced individual who understands the tasks of this war and Ukrainian objectives."

He said the appointment was made at the recommendation of Ukraine's new commander in chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was appointed on Thursday.

Earlier on Friday, Zelenskyy named former army chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi a "Hero of Ukraine," a day after he was replaced in the biggest reshuffle yet in the war with Russia.

Skip next section Scholz urges US Congress to pass Ukraine aid 'very soon'
February 9, 2024

Scholz urges US Congress to pass Ukraine aid 'very soon'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged the US Congress to approve a delayed aid package for Ukraine's fight against Russian invasion "very soon."

Commenting on the US Senate's vote to consider a further military package for Ukraine after several failed attempts, Scholz said that this was "a sign of the confidence that is now necessary that a decision will soon be made."

Scholz added that he hopes "the entire Congress will also make this decision."

The German chancellor added that his meetings with US senators on both sides of the aisle on Thursday evening reassured him that Congressional foreign policy and security experts understood the need for sustained support for Ukraine.

However, Scholz warned of serious consequences if the US were to abandon its support for Ukraine.

"Europe can make a big contribution, Germany is definitely making a big contribution, but without the contribution of the United States of America, the situation in Ukraine would be very difficult," he told a press conference in Washington ahead of meeting President Joe Biden.

German chancellor in US to rally support for Ukraine

Skip next section Russia should pay for wartime environmental damage in Ukraine, report says
February 9, 2024

Russia should pay for wartime environmental damage in Ukraine, report says

The damage inflicted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine has included environmental costs such as contamination by land mines, and Kyiv should seek reparations from Moscow for this, a high-level working group said in a report.

The group, established last year by Ukraine's presidential administration to investigate issues ranging from nuclear safety to soil pollution, unveiled 50 recommendations aimed at tracking damages from the nearly two-year-old invasion, holding Russia accountable and charting a green recovery.

The members of the 12-person group include European Union environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, former Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Ireland's former President Mary Robinson and Ukraine's prosecutor general Andrii Kostin.

The recommendations, intended for both Ukraine and the international community, include establishing a high-level body to oversee the collection and preservation of evidence of environmental impacts and appointing an official to oversee climate-friendly reconstruction.

The group recommended that Ukraine speed up development of its Mine Action Strategy and create national guidance on the removal of toxic waste, such as asbestos-laden rubble and contaminated sediment from the Kakhovka dam breach.

To pay for such work, the group "encouraged all avenues for reparation to be considered," including using Russian state assets that have been frozen in overseas accounts.

Ukraine prepares war crimes case over environmental damage

Skip next section Ukraine says Russian strike on northeast kills three, injures four
February 9, 2024

Ukraine says Russian strike on northeast kills three, injures four

Ukraine said a Russian strike on the northeastern region of Sumy killed three people and wounded four others. 

"Three dead and four injured: the consequences of a Russian airstrikes in Sumy region," Ukraine's Interior Minister, Igor Klymenko, said on Telegram. He said the victims were in a "workshop of an agriculture firm" that was hit.

Klymenko said Russian aircraft launched seven guided bombs in the Sumy district. He did not name the village but posted a photo of rescuers working through the rubble of what appeared to be a small destroyed building.

The Ukrainian Sumy region borders Russia and is often shelled and bombed. Russian forces entered Sumy but were pushed back at the start of their invasion in 2022. 

Skip next section US Congress delegation arrives in Kyiv, vows to get Ukraine aid through
February 9, 2024

US Congress delegation arrives in Kyiv, vows to get Ukraine aid through

A bipartisan delegation of US Congress members came to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine's president as they sought to give assurances they would do their part to get crucial, stalled military aid legislation through the House of Representatives.

The delegation included four members of the House Intelligence Committee: Republicans Mike Turner and French Hill, along with Democrats Jason Crow and Abigail Spanberger, and a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Republican Zach Nunn.

"The United States is working diligently in the House of Representatives and the Senate to secure the funding that is necessary in 2024," Turner told journalists at a press conference before the delegation left to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"We stand with Ukraine not just because we understand that defending freedom and democracy around the world is an American value, but we stand with Ukraine because it's also in America's interests to do so," said Crow. 

The lawmakers also met with officials from the SBU and GUR intelligence agencies, said US Ambassador to Kyiv Bridget Brink.

The $95.34 billion (€88.4 billion) bill providing aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan advanced in the US Senate on Thursday after Republicans blocked previous compromise legislation.

Skip next section UK says staff fatigue may explain Russia missile factory blast
February 9, 2024

UK says staff fatigue may explain Russia missile factory blast

The UK Ministry of Defence says an explosion at a missile factory near the city of Izhevsk in central Russia could have been the result of worker fatigue as the country scrambles to produce more munitions.

The blast at the Votkinsk plant in Russia's Udmertia region was officially blamed on a problem with "planned tests" of rocket engines.

According to the Kremlin website, the factory makes sections and warhead platforms for Topol-M, Yars, and Bulava missile systems as well as bodies for Iskander missiles — a type regularly used against Ukraine.

The UK ministry said it was unlikely that Ukrainian drones had caused the explosion, given that the site is 1,200 kilometers (about 750 miles) away from Ukraine. 

It noted that the blast was the fifth military-industrial factory explosion in four months that had not been properly explained.

"There is a realistic possibility that the explosion is due to negligent handling and storing of highly volatile, combustible, and explosive materials," the ministry said.

"Additionally, senior political pressure to increase military-industrial output to support the war in Ukraine has likely led to round-the-clock production and staff fatigue." 

"Increased demands on production will highly likely result in greater numbers of industrial accidents in the future." 

Skip next section Russian defense minister calls for more reconnaissance
February 9, 2024

Russian defense minister calls for more reconnaissance

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Moscow's forces have been successful in most areas of fighting in Ukraine, but said deeper and more active reconnaissance operations were needed. 

The Interfax news agency said Shoigu was speaking to commanders of the "West" army group at a meeting alongside general staff chief Valery Gerasimov.

Shoigu "focused the attention of commanders and commanders to more actively conduct reconnaissance to the entire depth of the enemy’s defense and act proactively," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Skip next section Scholz, Biden to hold Ukraine support talks amid US impasse
February 9, 2024

Scholz, Biden to hold Ukraine support talks amid US impasse

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is headed to Washington to talk to US President Joe Biden about weapons support for Ukraine. 

The United States and Germany are the first and second biggest providers of military support to Ukraine respectively. 

Both have sent a significant amount of weaponry to the country but, as the conflict becomes more entrenched, concerns have arisen about Western commitment to providing help.

Shortly before departing for Washington, Scholz urged both the EU and the US to step up efforts to help Ukraine. 

The German chancellor said Kyiv's Western allies had to "send a very clear signal to the Russian president — that he cannot count on our support diminishing but that it will last long enough, and it will be big enough."

White House spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday that Biden and Scholz would "reaffirm their strong support for Ukraine and finding a way to continue to help Ukraine."

A White House request for some $60 billion (about €56 billion) in military aid for Kyiv has so far failed to make it past the Senate

Scholz has voiced hope that an EU agreement on €50 billion of aid for Ukraine can help Biden push through the package in the US.

In an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal ahead of the trip, Scholz warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine would "dramatically change the face of Europe" and "deal a severe blow to the liberal world order."

US Congress still deadlocked over funding for Ukraine

Skip next section Russia and Ukraine exchange 100 prisoners each
February 9, 2024

Russia and Ukraine exchange 100 prisoners each

The United Arab Emirates says it has been successful in mediating the release of 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war in exchange for 100 Russian war prisoners.

The Russian Defense Ministry noted the UAE's "human mediation," as did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian body that oversees such exchanges.

The UAE's Foreign Ministry said it was the third such mediation effort between Russia and Ukraine this year, and added that it was calling for diplomacy, dialogue, and de-escalation. 

Skip next section Ukraine and Russia fire 35 drones, Kyiv targets energy
February 9, 2024

Ukraine and Russia fire 35 drones, Kyiv targets energy

Russia and Ukraine's militaries say they fired some 35 drones at one another overnight into Friday, with Kyiv targeting Russian energy infrastructure.

The Russian military downed 19 Ukrainian drones over four different regions and the Black Sea, while Ukraine said it shot down 10 of 16 drones Russia fired.

Russia's defense ministry said its "air defences had intercepted and destroyed drones in the regions of Kursk [2], Bryansk [5], Oryol [4], Krasnodar [2] and over the Black Sea [6]."

The drones in Oryol were aimed at a fuel and energy complex but were downed by air defenses, regional governor Andrei Klychkov said.

Rescue services in Krasnodar say a fire erupted overnight at an oil refinery in Ilsky, although they did not specify if the drone attack caused the blaze.

Ukraine's air force says 10 out of 16 Iranian-made Shahed drones fired from Russian bases in the annexed Crimean peninsula and the western Kursk region had been intercepted.

The drones were destroyed in Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Kharkiv regions, the ministry said.

Ukraine has been under persistent aerial bombardment by Russian forces for nearly two years, with residential buildings hit regularly. Thousands are believed to have died in the attacks. Ukraine's attacks on Russia have increased in recent months. 

Russia vows retaliation after attack on Belgorod

Skip next section Putin says Russia can't be defeated, no interest in wider war
February 9, 2024

Putin says Russia can't be defeated, no interest in wider war

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed it is "impossible" to defeat Russia and claimed bringing an end to the war is in Ukraine's hands in a wide-ranging interview with right-wing former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Putin also said Russia had no intention of invading Poland or Latvia and indicated that an agreement could be reached for imprisoned Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich to be released from prison.

Anti-war Putin opponent barred from Russian election

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