Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 702

As the war enters its 702nd day, these are the main developments.

Ukrainian servicemen install an automatic cannon after routine maintenance on an armoured military vehicle at a workshop in the Donetsk region [Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]Published On 26 Jan 202426 Jan 2024

Here is the situation on Friday, January 26, 2024.

Ilyushin-76 plane crash

Russia and Ukraine traded accusations on the circumstances surrounding the crash of a Russian military transport plane over the southern region of Belgorod.
Russia claimed Ukraine shot down the Ilyushin-76, which it said was carrying dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) as well as nine Russians, and Kyiv had been given 15 minutes’ notice of the flight.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which opened a “terrorism” investigation, said it had recovered the plane’s flight recorders and released a 39-second video of the scene that mainly showed aerial shots of a large blackened stretch in a snow-covered field with some damaged trees. The video also showed one block of twisted metal and wires, a hand and an arm.
Ukraine said there had been no Russian request for secure airspace in the area where the plane crashed.
Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets said that a list of the supposed POWs on board being circulated in Russian media included discrepancies and soldiers who returned home in earlier exchanges. He demanded that international experts from the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) be given access to the site.
Kyiv opened a criminal investigation into the crash.

The crash site of the Russian Ilyushin-76 military transport plane near the village of Yablonovo in Russia’s Belgorod region [Russian Investigative Committee/Handout via Reuters]

The UN Security Council met at Russia’s request to discuss the crash. UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council the UN was not in a position to verify the circumstances of what had happened. “What is clear is that the incident took place in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ongoing war,” she said. “To avoid further escalation, we urge all concerned to refrain from actions, rhetoric or allegations that could further fuel the already dangerous conflict.”

Fighting

Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched 14 attack drones and five missiles on the southern Black Sea regions with air defence systems destroying 11 of the drones. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine said six people were injured in the historic city of Odesa and residential buildings and a warehouse were damaged.
Ukrainian security sources said they orchestrated a drone attack on an oil refinery in the southern Russian town of Tuapse, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) southeast of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula. The attack caused a major fire, but there were no reports of casualties.
Nepal’s Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud told the Associated Press news agency that Nepal had asked Russia to send back hundreds of Nepali nationals who had been recruited to fight against Ukraine and repatriate the bodies of those who had died in the conflict. The Russian army is estimated to have recruited more than 200 Nepali nationals to fight in Ukraine and at least 14 have died there, Saud said.
Ukraine’s National Resistance Centre said it had seen “mercenaries from Malaysia, accompanied by a translator” at Russian military training camps in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region. It warned that anyone fighting alongside the Russians against Ukraine was a “military target”. Malaysia did not respond to requests for more information on the alleged presence of Malaysian nationals.
Several major Ukrainian state organisations, including the state-run energy firm Naftogaz, the post office and transport safety agency, reported major cyber attacks that a source close to the government blamed on Russian intelligence.

Politics and diplomacy

A court in St Petersburg jailed antiwar activist Darya Trepova for 27 years after finding her guilty of “terrorism” in the killing of a prominent ultra-nationalist blogger Vladlen Tatarsky last year that Russia said was orchestrated by Ukraine. Trepova told the court she thought the package she gave Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, contained a covert listening device and did not realise it was rigged with explosives.
A Moscow court jailed prominent nationalist and former rebel commander Igor Girkin for four years for “inciting extremism”. Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, has repeatedly criticised the Kremlin for its war strategy in Ukraine.
Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was concerned that Ukrainian journalists investigating corruption were coming under increasing pressure, noting recent acts of intimidation against Yuriy Nikolov, Iryna Hryb and the staff of Bihus.info.

Weapons

The White House urged senators in the United States to reach a deal linking vital military assistance for Ukraine to US border security, after reports that former President Donald Trump, who is seeking reelection, was trying to torpedo any agreement in an attempt to deprive US President Joe Biden, who is seeking a second term, of a political victory.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies