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France 24

Germany delivers promised Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, media reports say

Two Leopard 2 tanks are seen in action at the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks in Augustdorf, Germany, on February 1, 2023. © Martin Meissner, AP

Germany has transferred the 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks it pledged to Ukraine, Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on protecting the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, which is partially controlled by Russian forces. Follow our blog to see how the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

This live blog is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage on the war in Ukraine, please click here.

12:30am: Zelensky tells IAEA's Grossi, Russia must leave Zaporizhzhia plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency on Monday that safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station could not be guaranteed until Russian troops left the facility.

The president, quoted by his website, said he met Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, at the Dnipro hydroelectric power station - northeast of the Zaporizhzhia plant.

10:00pm: Britain's Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine, Kyiv says

Britain's Challenger tanks have arrived in Ukraine, a spokeswoman for the defence ministry in Kyiv said on Monday.

"They are in Ukraine already," spokeswoman Iryna Zolotar told AFP, without providing any further details.

7:33pm: Zelensky says no 'safety' at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant without Russian withdrawal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday told the visiting head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was not possible to restore safety to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant with Russia still in control.

"Without the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and adjacent territory, any initiatives to restore nuclear safety and security are doomed to failure," Zelensky told IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, according to a statement.

4:26pm: IAEA chief visits Zaporizhzhia with Ukraine's Zelensky

Rafael Grossi of the UN's IAEA said Monday he was visiting Ukraine's southern region of Zaporizhzhia, which is partly controlled by Russian forces, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"I met Zelensky today in Zaporizhzhia City and had a rich exchange on the protection of the Zaporizhzhia NPP (nuclear power plant) and its staff. I reiterated the full support of the IAEA to Ukraine's nuclear facilities," Grossi wrote on Twitter.

3:54pm: German Leopard 2 tanks transferred to Ukraine, Spiegel reports

The 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks pledged by Germany to support Ukraine in its war against Russia have been handed over at the Ukrainian border, Germany's Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

Around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles have also reached Ukraine, the report added.

3:05pm: Zelensky visits army positions in Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday he was visiting army positions in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, which is partially controlled by Russian forces. 

"I am honoured to be here today, next to our military," Zelensky said on social media, posting a video of himself and Ukrainian servicemen. "We will definitely win."

2:23pm: 'Not a single reason' to lift Russia Olympics ban, say Poland, Ukraine, Baltics 

Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states reiterated on Monday their call to maintain the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympics, saying "not a single reason" existed to lift the restrictions.

"There exists not a single reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) more than a year ago," Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said in a statement co-signed by Ukraine.

The joint stance was published by the foreign ministries on the eve of the IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne beginning Tuesday, where the issue of Russian athletes will be discussed.

"We strongly believe that now is not the time to consider the opening up of a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to the Olympic Games in any status," the statement said. 

"We strongly urge it (the IOC) to reconsider its plans," the ministries added.

1:20pm: Ukraine withdraws city workers from frontline town Avdiivka

Municipal workers are being evacuated from the frontline town of Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, said a Ukrainian official.

"It's a shame to admit, but Avdiivka looks more and more like a scene from post-apocalyptic movies," the head of the town's administration Vitalii Barabash said on social media.

"Therefore, a difficult decision was made to evacuate ... municipal workers, who at least somehow tried to maintain the cleanliness and vitality of the city."

Russian forces have been working to capture the entire eastern Donetsk region for several months, with the focus of fighting centring on Bakhmut, north of Avdiivka.

1:12pm: Russia won't change plans on Belarus nuclear weapons, says Kremlin

The Kremlin has said Western criticism would not change plans announced by President Vladimir Putin to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.

Ukraine and its Western allies have condemned Moscow's weekend announcement that it was placing nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Kyiv is seeking an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the move. 

"Such a reaction of course cannot influence Russian plans," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

1:05pm: Russian shelling kills two in Sloviansk

Russian shelling of the town of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine killed at least two people and injured more than two dozen others, the regional governor said Monday. 

"As of 13:00, there are two dead and 29 wounded in Sloviansk ... administrative and office buildings, five high-rise buildings and seven private houses were damaged," Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Facebook.

"(Russian forces) struck the city centre around 10:30 (0730 GMT) with two S-300 missiles," he added.

11:51am: Russia will identify perpetrators of Nord Stream blasts, says Kremlin

The Kremlin has said Russia will establish which state or states were behind blasts that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines and would do everything to stop what it called Western efforts to "cover-up" what happened.

The pipelines, which connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, were hit by unexplained blasts last September in what Moscow called an act of international terrorism.

President Vladimir Putin has said he believes the US was behind the blasts, an idea Washington has dismissed as false.

9:08am: NATO party to Ukraine war, says top Russian security chief

The secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said that NATO countries are a party to the conflict in Ukraine, according to excerpts from an interview with Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Monday.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited Patrushev as saying: "In fact, NATO countries are a party to the conflict. They made Ukraine one big military camp. They send weapons and ammunition to the Ukrainian troops, provide them with intelligence."

Patrushev, a former chief of the FSB internal security service, is widely seen as one of the most hawkish members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

6:45am: Ukraine wants 'effective' UN action to counter Russian 'nuclear blackmail'

Kyiv said on Sunday it was seeking an emergency meeting of the United Nation's Security Council to counter Russia's "nuclear blackmail" after President Vladimir Putin announced his country would station tactical nuclear arms in Belarus.

Putin said the deployment was similar to moves from the United States, which stores such weapons in bases across Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, an analogy western allies called "misleading".

"Ukraine expects effective actions to counteract the Kremlin's nuclear blackmail from the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France," the Ukrainian foreign ministry said. 

"We demand that an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council be immediately convened for this purpose," it added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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