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Major new Russian assault on Ukraine's eastern bastion

(Reuters) – Russian has begun a major new assault on the Ukrainian-held bastion of Vuhledar that could make local gains but is unlikely to lead to an operational breakthrough, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday.


* Ukraine said it had repelled assaults on Vuhledar and Blahodatne, a village just north of Bakhmut. The administrator of Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk province, Denis Pushilin, said Russian troops had secured a foothold in Vuhledar.

* In an intelligence update, the British ministry said Russia had been assaulting the coal mining town with a force at least the size of a brigade, a unit that normally comprises several thousand troops. "There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the sector. However, it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough."

* Ukraine's general staff said Russia had carried out air strikes and three missile strikes in the past 24 hours, one of them on Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine. It is also continuing offensive operations in the areas of Bakhmut, Avdiivka and elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, it said.

* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

* Human Rights Watch called on Ukraine to investigate accusations it used thousands of rocket-fired antipersonnel landmines in and around the eastern city of Izium when Russian forces occupied the area. Human Rights Watch said use of antipersonnel mines violates international humanitarian law because the devices cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants.


* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's bid to rally support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion during his first South American tour fell flat, with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reiterating his view both parties shared blame.

* Ukraine's foreign ministry criticised Croatian President Zoran Milanovic for saying Crimea would never return to Ukrainian control, describing his comment as "unacceptable."

* Ukraine's defence minister is expected in Paris to meet Macron amid a debate among Kyiv's allies over whether to provide fighter jets for its war against Russia, after Biden ruled out giving F-16s.

* Biden said he will visit Poland but does not know when after reports suggested he is considering a trip to Europe to coincide with the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in the southern city of Mykolaiv during a rare visit by a foreign leader to a region close to the war front.


* France and Australia on Monday unveiled plans to jointly manufacture ammunition for Ukraine as the two countries seek to shore up defence cooperation and move past a row over Canberra's decision to ditch plans to buy French submarines two years ago.

* Ukraine's military will spend nearly $550 million on drones in 2023, and 16 supply deals have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.

* Tanks donated by Britain to Ukraine will be on the front line before summer, Defence Minister Ben Wallace said, without giving an exact timetable.

* Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said further supplies of Western weaponry to Ukraine would lead to further escalation of the conflict there and draw NATO members more deeply into it.

(Compiled by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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