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Ukraine live briefing: Defense officials set to meet in Brussels; Russia pushes on eastern front


Ukraine’s appeals for advanced military aid, including fighter jets, are likely to be on the agenda as allied defense officials meet in Brussels this week. Almost one year after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, Western nations face new decisions on how far they are willing to go in arming Ukraine to defend itself.

Russian forces are continuing to press on fronts across the country’s east, according to Ukraine’s military. Kyiv’s forces have been preparing for a broader Russian spring offensive.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • NATO is set to host a two-day gathering of defense ministers in Brussels starting Tuesday. It comes amid concerns in some quarters that the West’s own stocks of weapons are being depleted after a year of supplying Kyiv.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is made up of senior military officials from more than 50 nations who have been providing Ukraine with weapons and other aid. While many members of the group represent NATO-aligned nations, it is not affiliated with the military alliance.
  • Kyiv appears hopeful it can win over the West on its request for fighter jets. Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain, Vadym Prystaiko, told the BBC on Sunday that allies eventually coalesced around sending long-range weapons and tanks and could also do so on jets: “Let’s wait and see.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked European Union and British leaders for warplanes during his trip to Western Europe last week.
  • Zelensky announced sanctions against 200 people working for the Russian nuclear industry, without providing details on what the penalties would involve. “Russia’s radiation blackmail of the world must be punished,” he said in his nightly address, adding that Kyiv will discuss the issue “at various diplomatic levels next week.”

2. Battleground updates

  • Russian forces deployed tanks, missiles and rockets in an offensive push spanning four regions of Ukraine, Kyiv’s armed forces said Monday. While Ukraine said it manage to repel attacks on 10 settlements over the previous 24 hours, Russian military officials claimed to have made small gains in the past four days, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. The Washington Post could not immediately verify either side’s claim.
  • The threat of further Russian air and missile strikes across Ukraine “remains high,” Ukraine’s armed forces added. Such attacks have pummeled Ukraine’s energy and other critical infrastructure throughout the winter, in a Kremlin bid to weaken Ukrainians’ resolve to fight by depriving them of light, heat and water.
  • Three people are dead after Moscow’s troops shelled targets in Kherson, officials in the southern Ukrainian region said Monday morning. Residential buildings, warehouses and an entertainment venue were among the buildings struck, according to the official. The Post could not immediately verify the claims.
  • Several metropolitan areas, including in the Kyiv, Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk regions, are expected to have unrestricted access to electricity on Monday, utility Ukrenergo announced on Telegram, in a rare respite after months of rationing in freezing temperatures.

3. Global impact

  • Russia increased coal exports to India and China by 147.8% and by 11.2% respectively last year — amounting to 77 million tons in total, Russia Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak wrote Monday. Moscow is redirecting energy exports away from European markets and toward “friendly” nations in response to Western sanctions, Novak said.
  • Austria’s foreign minister responded to a controversy over his country issuing visas to a number of sanctioned Russian politicians to attend an upcoming meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Alexander Schallenberg told The Post that Austria has an obligation by international law to permit delegations of member countries to enter.
  • Elon Musk responded to claims that Starlink satellite services had been restricted in Ukraine. “Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other internet connectivity has been destroyed,” he tweeted, but added that “we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.” He said that “SpaceX commercial terminals, like other commercial products, are meant for private use, not military, but we have not exercised our right to turn them off.” SpaceX previously accused Ukraine’s military of using Starlink to power drones.
  • Russia is planning to showcase some 200 types of weapons at an exhibition in India on Monday, state news agency Tass reported. India’s position on the conflict has been mixed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in September. A month later, India abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote condemning Moscow’s illegal claim of annexation over Ukrainian territory. Moscow has supplied New Delhi with roughly $13 billion of arms over the past five years, Reuters reported, citing Interfax.

4. From our correspondents

Russians abandon wartime Russia in historic exodus: Initial data shows that at least 500,000, and perhaps nearly 1 million, have left in the year since the war began — a similar number to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Francesca Ebel and Mary Ilyushina report.

Maxim, whom The Post is identifying only by first name for security reasons, flew to Yerevan, Armenia, from Volgograd to avoid the military mobilization in September. “We left for the same reason everyone did: There was suddenly a real danger in the country for me and, above all, my family,” he said.

Natalia Abbakumova contributed reporting.