Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 348 of the invasion

Ukraine’s defence minister to be reshuffled into another job, Zelenskiy ally says; Ukraine braces for possible major Russian offensive this month

Ukraine’s defence minister, under pressure from a corruption scandal, is to be reshuffled into another government job, a close ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has announced. Oleksii Reznikov will be replaced by Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence. His position had been under threat after it emerged the defence ministry paid twice or three times the supermarket price of food to supply troops on the frontline.

Ukraine is bracing for a possible Russian offensive this month before the first anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine. “There are already many reports that the occupiers want to do something symbolic in February to try to avenge their last year’s defeats,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his Sunday night address. “We see this increased pressure in various areas of the frontline, as well as pressure in the information field.”

Kyiv has the reserves to hold back Moscow’s forces even though the latest western military supplies will not all arrive in time, Reznikov, has claimed. “Not all of the western weaponry will arrive in time. But we are ready. We have created our resources and reserves, which we are able to deploy and with which we are able to hold back the attack.” Reznikov added that the attack would be for “symbolic” reasons but its resources were not ready from a military point of view. “Despite everything, we expect a possible Russian offensive in February. This is only from the point of view of symbolism; it’s not logical from a military view. Because not all of their resources are ready. But they’re doing it anyway,” he said.

Russia is gradually stepping up its attacks and closing in on the eastern city of Bakhmut amid heavy fighting. Reznikov claimed that Moscow was losing “500 killed and wounded every day in Bakhmut” – a figure that it is not possible to verify. Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Bakhmut was becoming “increasingly isolated”, in its latest intelligence assessment which noted that Russia now had the two main roads into the city under threat from direct artillery fire, making it harder to supply the defending forces into the town.

Iran and Russia are looking to build a factory in Russia that could supply more than 6,000 Iranian-designed drones for the war in Ukraine, according to reports. The Wall Street Journal claimed that the two governments are moving ahead with plans, and that an Iranian delegation went to Russia in January to visit the planned site.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Iraq on Sunday for talks on energy and food security in view of the Ukraine conflict, an Iraqi foreign ministry spokesperson said. Lavrov will also visit Mali this week, in a trip that the west African country’s government says will strengthen defence and security ties. It will be the first time a Russian foreign minister has visited Mali, and is part of a push by Moscow to extend its influence over countries in Africa.

The EU-imposed ban on Russian seaborne oil products will come into force on Monday. The 27-nation bloc is banning Russian refined oil products such as diesel fuel and joining the US and other allies in imposing a price cap on sales to non-western countries. A ban on Russian seaborne crude came into force on 5 December and the extension to oil products will mean that 70% of Russian energy exports will now be subject to sanction. Oil products represent a third of Russian oil exports.

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