Russia is now said to use an armored train for its conquests in Ukraine. Ukraine expects up to 140 main battle tanks from western alliance. A Russian governor offers a bounty on German tanks. All news about the Ukraine war can be found in the Newsticker.

7:54 a.m .: The Ukrainian leadership expects a new Russian offensive and, as a result, the heaviest fighting since the beginning of the war by spring. “We have come a long, hard road, but I understand that the most important battles are still ahead and will take place this year, in the next two to three months,” said Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov an interview broadcast on UK television channel Sky News on Wednesday. These are the decisive months of the war, he predicted.

Danilov did not rule out the start of a Russian offensive in the next two to three weeks. “Russia is preparing for the maximum escalation,” said the 60-year-old. New units would be focused and trained. Danilov estimates the number of soldiers fighting in Ukraine at around 320,000. About half of them could take part in the new offensive, he warned.

Representatives of Ukraine have been warning of an impending offensive by the Russian military for weeks. Kyiv has been demanding increased arms aid from the West for months. Most recently, the United States, Germany and other NATO countries have promised deliveries of battle tanks that Kyiv has been longing for. However, the Leopard tanks will not arrive in Ukraine until the end of March at the earliest. The US tanks Abrams could not arrive there until the end of the year.

Wednesday, February 1, 5:16 a.m.: German tanks are apparently in demand with the Russian military. Only a few days after Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Leopard 2 main battle tanks produced in Germany were to be sent to Ukraine, kill bonuses were already being offered in Russia.

As the Russian news portal “RBK” reports, the governor of the Russian region of Transbaikalia offered a bonus of three million rubles (equivalent to 40,000 euros) for a captured Leopard 2 main battle tank. Shooting down the modern European main battle tank will be rewarded with a million rubles.

American Abrams M1 main battle tanks don’t seem to be that popular with the Russians. The Russian soldiers are to receive 1.5 million or 500,000 rubles for capture or shooting down. Similar bonuses are already being paid for destroying a tank from other NATO countries, the report goes on to say.

10:24 p.m .: In the midst of the Russian invasion, which has been going on for almost a year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj wants to push ahead with his country’s planned EU accession. Kyiv expects “news” from an EU-Ukraine summit at the end of this week, said Zelenskyj in his evening video address on Tuesday. “We expect decisions from our partners in the European Union that (…) correspond to our progress. Progress that is obviously there – even in spite of the widespread war.” Zelenskyj confirmed that reforms are being worked on in Kyiv.

8:59 p.m .: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal confirmed an EU-Ukraine summit on Friday in Kyiv. The meeting will take place “on February 3 in Kyiv,” Schmyhal said at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The summit is “extremely important” for Kiev’s application for EU accession from Ukraine, which has been an official candidate for accession to the Union since 2022.

“The fact that this summit will take place in Kyiv is a strong signal to both partners and enemies,” Schmyhal said. It shows Russia that its efforts to sow discord among Kiev’s western allies and prevent Ukraine from joining the EU have been in vain. However, Schmyhal did not say who would take part in the summit for the EU.

The Prime Minister also announced that “for the first time in our history” consultations between the Ukrainian government and the EU Commission will take place on Thursday.

5:30 p.m.: France delivers twelve more Caesar howitzers to Ukraine. This was announced by French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu on Tuesday during a visit by his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Resnikov to Paris. France has already delivered 18 of these howitzers to Ukraine and has now freed up tens of millions of euros for the maintenance of the guns, Lecornu said.

In addition, Ukraine is to receive a GM 200 air surveillance radar and fuel supplies from France. France will also ensure the training of 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers in France by the summer. The minister also announced that 150 French soldiers would be sent to Poland to join Polish soldiers in training 600 Ukrainian fighters. The French defense minister said nothing about a possible delivery of battle tanks or combat aircraft.

5:05 p.m .: Croatia’s President Zoran Milanović has caused indignation with statements about Russia’s annexed Crimea. The former Prime Minister criticized the planned deliveries of battle tanks from Germany and other EU countries to the Swiss newspaper Blick and declared: “Crimea will never again become part of Ukraine.”

Milanovic justified his statement with the “precedent” of Kosovo. “We annexed Kosovo. The international community, including us. It was forcibly taken from Serbia. It wasn’t an annexation, it was a kidnapping, part of Serbian territory was taken away,” Milanović said. He emphasized that he was not questioning Kosovo, but the whole concept. A concept “where you think you can do anything if it suits you, but if the other side does it, then it’s a crime”.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry criticized Milanović for questioning Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

4:58 p.m .: Greece will not deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine because of tensions with Turkey. This was announced by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday during a visit to Japan, as reported by Japanese media and Greek State Television (ERT). “We will not give Leopard-2s for the simple reason that they are absolutely necessary to our defense strategy,” Mitsotakis said. Relations between Greece and Turkey are currently going through a very tense phase due to a dispute over sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has more Leopard tanks than any other country in Europe: around 350 Leopard 2 and 500 Leopard 1. However, the government in Athens has no interest in selling tanks because it feels threatened by NATO partner Turkey.

3:53 p.m .: Russia has admitted that since last fall it has wrongly drafted several thousand men into the army for the war against Ukraine. “More than 9,000 citizens who were unlawfully mobilized were brought back home – including those who should not have been called up for health reasons,” said Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov at a meeting with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Critical observers assume, however, that significantly more people were illegally recruited during the mobilization ordered by Putin last September – and may never have returned. Especially in the first few weeks, chaotic conditions in the district military replacement offices were described in many places. A total of 300,000 men had been drafted for the front across the country. In retrospect, Prosecutor General Krasnow also attested to “a mass of serious problems” in his country’s military structures.

On Tuesday, a video message was also circulated on social networks, addressed to Putin by the wives and mothers of mobilized Russians. The women from the Far Eastern region of Primorje complain, among other things, that their husbands lack equipment and medicines. In addition, there are no hygiene products, which is why lice and scabies are rampant.

3:50 p.m .: At a meeting with his Egyptian colleague Samih Schukri in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complained of an increasing military threat in Ukraine from weapons from NATO countries. The Russian armed forces would do everything in Ukraine to prevent the West’s plans from working in the country, Lavrov said on Tuesday. He criticized the discussion about more and heavier weapons for Ukraine. “We are taking the necessary measures not to allow Ukraine to become an even greater threat to our security,” Lavrov said.

3:48 p.m .: In the next few months, Ukraine expects 120 to 140 modern Western Leopard 2, Challenger 2 and M1 Abrams main battle tanks. “There are currently twelve participants in the tank coalition,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video message on Tuesday. The 42-year-old cannot name all the participating states at the moment, as some still have to go through formal procedures. Kyiv is also very much hoping for French Leclerc tanks and larger deliveries from countries that are already involved.

“The armed forces must be given all types of weapons they need to defend and restore the territorial integrity of our state,” Kuleba stressed. The chief diplomat mentioned in particular combat aircraft and long-range missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers. Negotiations are already underway for this.

3.30 p.m .: According to media reports, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov traveled to Paris. France is considered one of the main countries in the possible supply of fighter jets for Ukraine. The spokesman for the Air Force, Yuri Ihnat, had stated that 200 jets would be needed. According to Western experts, before the Russian attack a little more than eleven months ago, Kyiv had a little more than 100 operational Soviet-designed fighter jets.

2:24 p.m .: In the war in Ukraine, the Russian troops say they have now completely taken control of the village of Blahodatne in the Donetsk region. This was announced by the Ministry of Defense in Moscow on Tuesday. The head of the Russian private army Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had previously claimed combat success for his paramilitary units. The capture of the Ukrainian side was not confirmed. At the weekend it was said in Kyiv that the attacks had been repelled. The information cannot be verified independently. The place is north of the currently particularly competitive city of Bachmut.

The Russian army is trying to bypass Bakhmut from the north and south in order to force the Ukrainian army to withdraw from the small town. Both sides are said to have suffered massive losses in the bloody battles. However, the main supply route to the north-west is still under Ukrainian control. Ukraine is urgently demanding heavy weapons from the West to stop the advance of Russian troops and liberate occupied towns.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also informed about the use of an armored train in the war zone. The crew on the train, named after the Volga River, is said to be used for technical reconnaissance and mine clearance, as well as destroying military targets in the air and on the ground. “This massive armament complex allows soldiers to work even in the most difficult conditions,” the ministry said in a statement. “This is a real armored train, armed to the teeth.” The soldiers there had simple firearms, but also large-calibre equipment.

10:55 am: Abbas Gallyamov, the former speechwriter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, considers a military coup in Russia increasingly likely given the heavy Russian casualties. The Russians are looking for a culprit given Ukraine’s sluggish economy and tens of thousands of dead soldiers, Gallyamov told CNN.

“The Russian economy is deteriorating. The war is lost,” he told the US news channel. “The death toll is increasing, (…) and the Russians will try to find an explanation for it, (…) and will explain it to themselves “Well, that’s because our country is ruled by an old tyrant, an old dictator,” Gallyamov said, referring to Putin.

He thinks a military coup is possible within the next twelve months. Then a “hated, unpopular president” would be at the helm of the country. “Without a victory over Ukraine, he will have problems with the Russians,” he continues. That’s why Gallyamov expects Putin to cancel the presidential elections scheduled for March 2024.

10:01 a.m .: According to British military experts, a significant breakthrough by the Russian troops in their war of aggression in Ukraine is currently unlikely. That’s according to the Department of Defense’s daily intelligence update on Tuesday. According to this, Russian commanders are currently trying to advance into the Ukrainian-held part of Donetsk Oblast. “There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local territorial gains in the area,” the statement said. However, a significant breakthrough is unlikely given insufficient uncommitted troops.

The British Ministry of Defense has been publishing daily information on the course of the war since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February last year, citing intelligence information. In doing so, the British government wants to both counter the Russian portrayal and keep allies in line. Moscow accuses a targeted disinformation campaign.

You can read more news on the following pages.