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Russia-Ukraine war – live: Putin’s forces ‘double’ artillery and air attacks on Donetsk

Russian forces doubled their artillery fire and air strikes in eastern Ukraine as they ramped up attacks on the Donetsk region on Wednesday, Kyiv said.

Both sides in the war are vying to secure territorial gains before the end of the year.

The industrial town of Avdiivka, which Russian troops have encircled from “all directions” is the latest major flashpoint, after Moscow renewed efforts to capture it last month.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s army, Oleksandr Shtupun, said: “The enemy has doubled its artillery fire and air strikes. It has also intensified ground infantry attacks, and is using armoured vehicles.”

Earlier, Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had taken control of the village of Khromove in eastern Ukraine.

The village, which Russia calls Artyomovskoe, is on the outskirts of Bakhmut, a city that Russia captured last summer after a months-long battle.

Meanwhile, US officials said they don’t expect Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to make peace before he knows the results of the November 2024 US election.

There are concerns that victory for Donald Trump could upend Western support for Kyiv.

Key Points

  • Vladimir Putin signs Russia’s largest national budget as he bolsters military spending

  • Putin suffering losses ‘well behind the front line’, says UK

  • Ukraine targets Moscow in major drone assault

  • Explosions heard overnight in Kyiv as Putin launches biggest drone attack yet

Russian missiles fired overnight bury families in rubble

11:52 , Athena Stavrou

Russian missiles have torn through apartment buildings in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, killing at least one person and burying families under rubble.

The missiles hit three Donetsk cities, Pokrovsk, Novohrodivka and Myrnohrad, Ukrainian internal affairs minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Emergency workers pulled the body of a 62-year-old man from the wreckage of a destroyed multi-storey building in Novohrodivka.

Four more people may be under the rubble, including a child, authorities said.

In Pokrovsk, the strikes destroyed a multi-storey building, nine houses, a police office and cars. Emergency crews helped rescue a man with a six-month-old baby, covered in blood, in his hands, officials said.

The head of the city administration, Serhii Dobriak, said it is fourth time Pokrovsk has come under attack in the past month.

“They are striking the city centre, the houses,” he said. “They are just destroying the civilian population.”

All three of the targeted cities are close to Avdiivka, a city where a fierce battle has taken place in recent months.

Ukrainian officials said recently that Russian forces have ramped up attacks in eastern Ukraine in a bid to gain ground near Avdiivka and around Bakhmut, another key frontline city.

The Ukrainian military said earlier on Thursday its air defence shot down 14 out of 20 drones in a Russian overnight strike.

Ukraine's president visits troops on northeastern frontline

11:20 , Athena Stavrou

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited troops near the Kupiansk sector of the frontline in the country’s northeast, he announced on social media on Thursday.

“I thank the warriors for their service, for defending our state,” Zelenskyy wrote on X, adding photos which showed him visiting a command post alongside a top Ukrainian general.

Russia calls Bulgaria ‘absurd and stupid’ amid diplomatic row

10:30 , Athena Stavrou

Russia has accused Bulgaria of malice and stupidity on Thursday for refusing to allow Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s plane to fly through its airspace.

The plane was forced to take a longer route over Greece to deliver Lavrov to a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Bulgaria’s position “absurd and stupid”.

Zakharova wrote on the Telegram messenger app: “The malicious stupidity of the Russophobes reached the point that, for the first time in our history, official authorities banned not an airplane, but a person on that airplane.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who is under European Union sanctions, said her presence on board the plane was the reason given by Bulgaria’s foreign ministry for denying access to its airspace.

No comment was immediately available from the Bulgarian ministry.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Update on overnight Donetsk strike

09:45 , Lydia Patrick

The Russian overnight missile strike has claimed one life, says Ukrainian interior minister.

Moscow carried out an overnight attack on the eastern region of Donetsk which has injured 10 and left four trapped under rubble.

Russia fired six missiles at three settlements in the region, most of which is occupied by Russian forces, Klymenko said on Telegram messaging app.

“Pokrovsk, Novohrodivka and Myrnohrad came under fire. The shelling injured 10 people, including four children. Five more people are being searched for under the rubble,” the minister said.

Later, Donetsk authorities said rescuers found one body while four others, including one child, were still under the rubble.

Russia’s Putin praises Henry Kissinger as wise and pragmatic statesman

09:20 , Lydia Patrick

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday expressed his condolences over the death of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, saying in a telegram to Kissinger’s widow Nancy that he was a “wise and farsighted statesman”.

“The name of Henry Kissinger is inextricably linked with a pragmatic foreign policy line, which at one time made it possible to achieve detente in international tensions and reach the most important Soviet-American agreements that contributed to the strengthening of global security,” Putin said.

“I had the opportunity to personally communicate with this deep, extraordinary man many times, and I will undoubtedly retain the fondest memory of him.”

Kissinger, who died on Wednesday at the age of 100, pursued dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1970s that led to the first major nuclear arms control treaties between the two Cold War superpowers.

Five decades on, the war in Ukraine has raised tensions between Moscow and Washington to their most acute point since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, and the Kremlin has described the current state of relations as “below zero”.

: Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, speaks at the George W. Bush Presidential Center's 2019 Forum on Leadership in Dallas (REUTERS)
: Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, speaks at the George W. Bush Presidential Center's 2019 Forum on Leadership in Dallas (REUTERS)

‘Let us be a lesson’ - Kazakhstan’s message to leaders about risk of nuclear war

09:00 , Lydia Patrick

As Russia warns of the rising risk of nuclear war, and relations with the United States sink into a deep freeze, communities close to the vast Soviet-era nuclear testing site in northern Kazakhstan have a message for leaders: “Let us be a lesson.”

Hundreds of tests were carried out between 1949 and 1989 on the barren steppe near the city of Semey, formerly known as Semipalatinsk, close to the Kazakh-Russian border. The effect of radiation had a devastating impact on the environment and local people’s health, and continues to affect lives there today.

Many nuclear proliferation experts believe resuming testing by either nuclear superpower more than 30 years after the last test is unlikely soon.

But tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to increasingly hostile rhetoric, and the arms control architecture built since the Soviet Union’s collapse more than three decades ago has begun to unravel.

In early November, President Vladimir Putin revoked Russia’s ratification of the 1996 global treaty banning nuclear weapons tests. Moscow says it will not lead to a resumption of testing unless the United States does first.

“Let our suffering be a lesson to others,” said Serikbay Ybyrai, local leader in the village of Saryzhal, who saw tests being carried out some 20 km (12 miles) away when he was a boy. “If this (testing) resumes, humanity will disappear.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference following a meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon at the Kremlin (via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference following a meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon at the Kremlin (via REUTERS)

Putin urges Russian women to have ‘eight or more’ children amid soaring deaths in his Ukraine war

08:30 , Lydia Patrick

Vladimir Putin has urged Russian women to have eight or more children and make large families “the norm” amid soaring numbers of casualties in his war against Ukraine.

Russia’s birth rate has been steadily falling since the 90’s and the country has suffered more than 300,000 casualties since the start of the Ukraine conflict, according to data maintained by Kyiv.

In a speech via video link at the World Russian People’s Council in Moscow on Tuesday, Mr Putin said boosting the Russian population will be “our goal for the coming decades”.

“Many of our peoples maintain the tradition of the family, where four, five or more children are raised,” said Mr Putin. “Recall that in Russian families our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had both 7 and 8 children. Let us preserve and revive these traditions. Having many children, a large family, should become a norm, a way of life for all the peoples of Russia.”

Putin asks Russian women to have ‘eight or more’ children amid deaths in his war

Senior Russian general ‘killed by one of Putin’s own landmines’ in Ukraine

08:05 , Lydia Patrick

Russia may have lost as many as six high-ranking officers in Ukraine in just one week following reports a senior general was killed by a landmine placed by his own side.

Major general Vladimir Zavadsky, 45, the deputy commander of the 14th Army Corps, died in occupied Ukraine on Tuesday, reported pro-Kremlin newspaper Lenta.

The elite military academy where Zavadsky studied, the Moscow Higher Combined Arms Command School, also announced his death in a social media post, although that has now been deleted.

Russia’s defence ministry has not officially commented on the reports.

Zavadsky was not reported to have been killed in action. According to the Telegram channel VChK-OGPU, which claims to have ties to Russian security services, the general died in a blast on a landmine placed by Vladimir Putin’s own forces to target Ukrainian reconnaissance groups.

Senior Russian general ‘killed by one of Putin’s own landmines’ in Ukraine

Russian missile strikes wound ten in east Ukraine, Kyiv says

07:45 , Lydia Patrick

Ten people were hurt and five appeared under rubble in overnight Russian missile attacks in Ukraine‘s eastern Donetsk region, Ukrainian interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Thursday.

Russia fired six missiles at three settlements in the region, most of which is occupied by Russian forces, Klymenko said on Telegram messaging app.

“Pokrovsk, Novohrodivka and Myrnohrad came under fire. The shelling injured 10 people, including 4 children. Five more people are being searched for under the rubble,” the minister said.

He said among the victims were a family with two children and two 13-year-old children. An apartment block, nine private houses, a police station, cars and garages were damaged.

Klymenko said a police paramedic helped a man with an injured baby get out from under the rubble.

Invading Russian forces have occupied much of Donetsk and Russia has said it intends to take over the whole region.

The Ukrainian military said earlier on Thursday its air defence shot down 14 out of 20 drones in a Russian overnight strike.

Ukraine destroys 14 of 20 Russia-launched drones

07:25 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine air defence shot down 14 out of 20 drones in a Russian overnight strike, the nation’s air force said on Thursday.

The air force said in a statement the Russian forces launched Iranian-made drones from Russian territory in several directions.

his handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Emergency Service on November 25, 2023 (UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)
his handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Emergency Service on November 25, 2023 (UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)

Slovak government extends ban on Ukrainian products

07:12 , Maira Butt

The government of Slovakia is set to add honey, barley, wheat flour, soybeans, and cane or beet sugar to the list of banned agricultural products, according to the Kyiv Independent.

The ban previously applied to four cereals, namely wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds, and will remain in place until the end of 2023.

Ukraine and Slovakia had previously agreed to a licensing system for their grain trade in September which raised homes the ban could have been lifted.

In case you missed it: At least fourteen people dead in Ukraine and Russia snowstorm

06:15 , Maira Butt

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:

At least 14 people died due to extreme weather conditions as a winter storm lashed parts of Russia and Ukraine, knocking out power from hundreds and thousands of households.

The severe cold struck war-torn Ukraine at a time when thousands of both Russian and Ukrainian troops were engaged in intense fighting in the eastern towns near the Black Sea almost 22 months into Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Kyiv fears Moscow could attack its power grids with air strikes this winter.

In Ukraine, at least 10 people were killed and almost 1,500 towns and villages were left without power after storms dumped up to 10 inches of snow in some places.

“As a result of worsening weather conditions, 10 people died in Odesa, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Kyiv regions,” interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Tuesday.

Read the full piece here.

France aiming to complete security accord with Ukraine by start of 2024

05:08 , Maira Butt

“On the security guarantees and the work we have been doing with our Ukrainians partners - we are working towards a conclusion of this accord with the Ukrainian authorities by the end of the year, start of next year,” Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters at a weekly news briefing.

A diplomatic source said early 2024 was more likely.

The accord would outline the framework for long-term humanitarian aid, support for reconstruction and military assistance, she said.

A second diplomatic source said the accord would not provide detailed financial figures or commitments as such with the French government not wanting to have the text going to parliament for approval.

“I think that the Ukrainians are in a logic where they want to see what the Americans offer them for benchmarking for others,” the source said.

“Our proposal to them doesn’t contain figures. It’s more our objectives. We describe the type of action we are ready to take in terms of military support, economic support, etc.”

G7 unveil international framework for long-term security of Ukraine

04:12 , Maira Butt

G7 countries in June unveiled an international framework for the long-term security of Ukraine to boost its finances and defences against Russia with a view to deterring Moscow from future aggression, officials said.

Unable to join NATO while the war with Russia continues - given that NATO’s Article 5, stipulating that an attack on one member is an attack on all, could push it into war with Russia - Ukraine has lobbied for long-term security commitments from its main backers.

Countries, including France, have been negotiating bilaterally since June, but there has been scant detail on what countries are willing to do and with the war entering its second year there are question marks about how committed Kyiv’s allies may be.

Funeral held for servicemen killed in Ukraine

03:12 , Maira Butt

A funeral for a Ukrainian servicemen killed in the conflict with Russia took place on Wednesday.

Sergiy Pavlichenko was killed fighting Russian troops in the Zaporizhzhia region.

He was buried in Kyiv.

Relatives and friends toss handfuls of soil over the coffin during the funeral service of Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy Pavlichenko, who was killed fighting Russian troops in the Zaporizhzhia region, at a cemetery in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Relatives and friends toss handfuls of soil over the coffin during the funeral service of Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy Pavlichenko, who was killed fighting Russian troops in the Zaporizhzhia region, at a cemetery in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman holds the portrait of Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy Pavlichenko, who was killed fighting Russian troops (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman holds the portrait of Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy Pavlichenko, who was killed fighting Russian troops (AFP via Getty Images)

David Cameron meets European Commission and reiterates support for Ukraine

02:12 , Maira Butt

Lord David Cameron met European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who leads on Brexit matters for the bloc, in Brussels on Wednesday.

The former prime minister tweeted: “Good to speak with Maros Sefcovic in Brussels.

“I look forward to working together on the issues that matter to us both, including support for Ukraine, the Withdrawal Agreement and maximising the opportunities of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

In case you missed it: Ukraine spy chief’s wife treated for suspected metal poisoning

01:12 , Maira Butt

Illia Novikov and Alastair Jamieson report:

The wife of Ukraine’s intelligence chief has been diagnosed with heavy metals poisoning and is undergoing treatment in hospital, it emerged on Tuesday. Meanwhile, deadly winter weather has hit the front lines of the conflict with Russia.

Marianna Budanova is the wife of Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency known by its local acronym GUR.

Her condition was confirmed to AP by Andriy Yusov, the agency’s spokesman.

He did not provide more details about the alleged poisoning, nor did he say if it was believed to have been intended for Mr Budanov or whether Russia was thought to be behind it.

Earlier this year, he told Ukrainian media that the military intelligence chief had survived 10 assassination attempts carried out by the Russian state or federal security services.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, center, attends a commemorative event on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one year anniversary in Kyiv, Ukraine in February (AP)
Major General Kyrylo Budanov Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, center, attends a commemorative event on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one year anniversary in Kyiv, Ukraine in February (AP)

Around 78% of Ukrainians in favour of joining the EU

00:12 , Maira Butt

A new survey has revealed that 78 per cent of Ukrainians are in favour of joining the EU with only 5 per cent opposing accession.

In a statement on their website, the Rating Group who conducted their 25th annual survey said its purpose was to conduct “a study of the dynamics of the attitude of the Ukrainian population to international unions”.

However, the figures represent a drop as in July a poll revealed that 85 per cent of Ukrainians favoured joining the EU. Likewise, a drop in support for joining NATO was observed, however most Ukrainians were still in support.

The new study revealed that 77 per cent favoured joining the EU, a significant majority, although this number was down from 83 per cent in July.

France aiming to complete security accord with Ukraine by start of 2024

Wednesday 29 November 2023 23:16 , Maira Butt

France intends to complete a bilateral security guarantee accord with Ukraine at the start of 2024, its foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Paris has been negotiating with Kyiv for several months with the agreement aimed at agreeing the broad lines of long-term financial, humanitarian and military support, Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters at a weekly press briefing.

Zelensky: 'Today we are working in Odesa region’

Wednesday 29 November 2023 22:02 , Maira Butt

President Zelensky confirmed he was focused in the Odesa region on Wednesday.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said:

“We started with reports from the military and a meeting on the protection of the region. The situation in the Black Sea, mine countermeasures and ensuring the security of the grain corridor.

“The work of air defense in Odesa region, air cover for Odesa and our ports. I presented state awards to the warriors defending the southern regions and our Black Sea water area.

“I visited the regional center for IDPs in Odesa. I also held a meeting on eliminating the aftermath of severe weather. We must speed up the restoration of electricity supply in the affected towns and villages.”

Ukraine insists it sees no sign of NATO war fatigue even as fighting and weapons supplies stall

Wednesday 29 November 2023 21:12 , Maira Butt

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba insisted on Wednesday that NATO allies are showing no sign of war fatigue and remain committed to helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia and take back occupied territory.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Kuleba also said that President Vladimir Putin is miscalculating if he sees any value in keeping his forces in Ukraine at least until presidential elections in the United States in a year’s time, which could usher in a new administration.

“I heard a clear ‘no’ to any reference to fatigue, and I heard (a) clear ‘yes’ to increased support to Ukraine,” Kuleba said after meeting NATO counterparts in Brussels. He said that some allies had made fresh offers of support, but he declined to provide details.

“They understand that in order for them to feel safe, in order for them not to end up in a situation where NATO’s soldiers will have to fight, Ukraine has to win in this war,” Kuleba said.

Zelenskiy: ‘OPCW is a very reputable international body and terrorists have no place in it’

Wednesday 29 November 2023 20:12 , Maira Butt

Russia failed to be elected on to the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Weapons for the first time in history.

Meanwhile Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania were elected for the 2024-2026 period.

The Executive Council is made up of 41 member states. It states its mission is to “achieve a world permanently free of chemical weapons and to contribute to international security and stability, general and complete disarmament, and global economic development.”

President Zelensky welcomed the decision saying that international body had no place for “terrorists” in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Latest map of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Wednesday 29 November 2023 19:00 , Athena Stavrou

Here’ is the latest map of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to war monitoring think-thank the Institute for the Study of War.

 (ISW)
(ISW)

In pictures: Latest from Ukraine

Wednesday 29 November 2023 18:10 , Athena Stavrou

Ukrainian servicemen of the 22nd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training exercise in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 22nd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training exercise in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
A local resident inspects his flat damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
A local resident inspects his flat damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
A local woman hugs her daughter in front of their apartment building after their flat was damaged by recent shelling (REUTERS)
A local woman hugs her daughter in front of their apartment building after their flat was damaged by recent shelling (REUTERS)

EU transport commissioner says truck blockade at Polish-Ukrainian border 'unacceptable'

Wednesday 29 November 2023 17:20 , Athena Stavrou

Ukraine and the European Union cannot be “taken hostage” by Polish truckers blockading the Polish-Ukrainian border in protest at competition from Ukrainian hauliers, the European Commissioner for Transport said on Wednesday.

The round-the-clock blockade in Medyka and three other border crossings, which started on Monday, extends a protest that has left over a thousand lorries stranded for days in queues that stretch for miles.

Transport commissioner Adina Valean said the situation was “unacceptable”.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Polish truckers complain they are losing out to Ukrainian companies which offer cheaper prices for their services and which are transporting goods within the EU, rather than just between the bloc and Ukraine.

“There is no good faith in finding a solution... and there is nearly a complete lack of involvement from Polish authorities... who are supposed to enforce the law at that border,” Valean said.

“While I support the people’s right to protest, the entire EU, not to mention Ukraine, a country currently at war, cannot be taken hostage by blocking our external borders.”

Four killed in Ukrainian strike on Kherson region police station

Wednesday 29 November 2023 16:30 , Athena Stavrou

Four police officers were killed and another 18 people wounded in a Ukrainian HIMARS strike on a police station in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s Kherson region on Tuesday, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Wednesday.

TASS quoted a local police spokesperson as saying that five police officers had been critically wounded in the strike on a facility in the village of Yuvileine.

Reuters could not independently verify the report but fighting in the Kherson region has heated up in recent months, with Ukrainian forces making a number of incursions on the Russian-held eastern bank of the Dnipro river, which divides the province.

Jailed US ex-marine attacked in Russian prison

Wednesday 29 November 2023 15:40 , Athena Stavrou

Former U.S. marine Paul Whelan has been attacked by another inmate in a Russian prison while serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges, Russia‘s prison service said on Wednesday.

Whelan, who denies spying on Russia, was punched in the face and forced to defend himself at a sewing workshop in a high security penal colony southeast of Moscow, his brother Dave Whelan said in a statement.

“A new prisoner blocked part of the production line and Paul asked him to move out of the way. After repeated requests, the prisoner hit Paul in the face, breaking Paul’s glasses in the process, and attempted to hit him a second time,” Dave Whelan said.

 (Moscow News Agency)
(Moscow News Agency)

“Paul stood up to block the second hit and other prisoners intervened to prevent the prisoner continuing the attack on Paul.”

Arrested in 2018 in Russia, Paul Whelan was convicted of espionage in 2020 and handed a 16-year sentence.

Dave Whelan said the incident took place on Tuesday afternoon. He thought his brother was a target because he was an American and anti-American sentiment was “not uncommon among the other prisoners”.

Six months after Volkswagen exit, idle Russian car plant offers workers redundancy

Wednesday 29 November 2023 15:00 , Athena Stavrou

Furloughed workers at Volkswagen’s former plant in Russia are being offered redundancy, according to the union representing them.

The plant, in Russia’s Kaluga region south of Moscow, has annual production capacity of 225,000 cars, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought work to a standstill. The plant will remain idle until at least March 2024, the trade union added.

Under the furlough scheme being offered by the new owners, who took over the plant in May, the staff are currently paid two thirds of their salary.

They are now being offered three months’ pay if they quit, with bonuses for those who have been employed there for a long time.

Only a few of the remaining staff of around 3,600 people have taken up the new owners on their offer so far, Elena Kryukova, head of the MPRA trade union’s plant committee, told Reuters.

 (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Russian man who traced ‘No to War’ in snow jailed

Wednesday 29 November 2023 14:12 , Athena Stavrou

A Russian court has ordered a man to be jailed for 10 days after he used his finger to write “No to War” on a snow-covered turnstile.

According to court papers, the incident happened on November 23 at the entrance to an ice-skating rink at Moscow’s Gorky Park.

The man, named as Dmitry Fyodorov, was sentenced the following day after being detained by the police.

Police decided his actions could amount to a civil offence under a law which targets anyone deemed to have acted publicly to discredit Russia’s armed forces, a crime which in his case was punishable by a fine.

New laws cracking down on dissent were brought in soon after President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022 in what he called a “special military operation.”

For those opposed to Russia’s war in Ukraine, speaking out in public has since become a risky thing to do and critics say nearly 20,000 people have been detained and over 800 criminal cases opened.

Ukraine estimates Russian casualties as 327,580

Wednesday 29 November 2023 14:10 , Athena Stavrou

The Ukrainian military has claimed the number of Russian casualties since the beginning of the ward has reached 327,580.

In its latest update, they added that 5,538 Russian tanks and 10,312 Russian armored combat vehicles had been destroyed.

Putin won’t consider stopping Ukraine war until after US election, says Biden official

Wednesday 29 November 2023 13:40 , Athena Stavrou

Vladimir Putin will not consider ending his invasion of Ukraine until he knows the result of the 2024 US presidential election, a senior official from the Joe Biden administration has said.

Read the full article here:

Putin won’t consider stopping Ukraine war until after US election – official

Russia warns US against entering new arms race

Wednesday 29 November 2023 13:10 , Athena Stavrou

A senior Russian diplomat said the US would be mistaken to expect to win the next armed race.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister in charge of ties with the U.S., non-proliferation and arms control, also told the Izvestia daily that a military conflict between NATO and Moscow could not be ruled out.

“If the United States expects to win the next arms race, repeating to some extent the experience of the presidency of Ronald Reagan ... then the Americans are mistaken,” Izvestia cited Ryabkov as saying.

“We will not succumb to provocations .... but we can guarantee that we will ensure our security.”

He also told the newspaper that Russia was not threatening a conflict with the Western military alliance and that “the onus is entirely on NATO’s side”.

'No sense of fatigue' when it comes to support for Ukraine, Blinken says

Wednesday 29 November 2023 12:40 , Athena Stavrou

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that there was “no sense of fatigue” among NATO allies when it came to helping Ukraine.

“We must and we will continue to support Ukraine,” he said after a NATO-Ukraine meeting in Brussels, adding that NATO allies were unanimous on this position and that he was also hearing continued support for Ukraine in both chambers of the US Congress.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AP)

Kyiv has been concerned that the Israel-Hamas war could divert international attention away from its efforts to defeat Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“It is important that our solidarity with Ukraine is not only demonstrated in words but also in deeds,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, urging allies to do more. “These are concrete actions, we need more of them and we need sustained and stepped up support.”

Russia claims control over Ukrainian village

Wednesday 29 November 2023 11:58 , Athena Stavrou

Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday that its forces had taken control of a village in eastern Ukraine.

Khromove, which Russia calls Artyomovskoe, is on the western outskirts of Bakhmut, a city which Russia captured last summer after a months-long battle. The village had a pre-war population of 1,000 people.

Reuters could not independently verify the defence ministry’s assertion and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Putin won’t make peace in Ukraine before 2024 US election, says US official

Wednesday 29 November 2023 11:49 , Athena Stavrou

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not make peace in Ukraine before he knows the results of the November 2024 US election, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday.

The comments come amid concerns that victory for former President Donald Trump - who is seeking reelection in 2024 - could upend Western support for Kyiv.

A senior official briefing reporters after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels said the alliance reiterated its support for Ukraine knowing that a peace agreement in the next year is unlikely.

“My expectation is that Putin won’t make a peace or a meaningful peace before he sees the result of our election,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Asked whether they were expressing a personal opinion or the view of the U.S. government, the official said it was a “widely shared premise.”

NATO say Russia has large missile stockpile for winter

Wednesday 29 November 2023 11:33 , Athena Stavrou

Russia has amassed a large missile stockpile ahead of winter, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

Russia has been making new attempts to strike Ukraine’s power grid and energy infrastructure, “trying to leave Ukraine in the dark and cold,” he said.

It comes after Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy has repeatedly expressed concern that Moscow would hit Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the winter as it did last year.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (AP)
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (AP)

Russia would see reported plan to send Polish troops to Finnish border as a threat

Wednesday 29 November 2023 11:00 , Athena Stavrou

Commenting on media reports that Poland plans to send troops to Finland’s border with Russia, the Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia would see such a move as a threat.

Finland has closed its border with Russia after a sudden wave of refugee arrivals that Helsinki said was orchestrated by Moscow - something Russia denied.

The head of Poland’s National Security Bureau was reported to have said this week that Warsaw planned to approve a Finnish request for troops to be deployed close to its border with Russia.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is an absolutely redundant measure to ensure border security, because there is no threat there, there is no tension in reality,” he said.

“That is why tension may arise during the concentration of additional units on our border, because the Finns must be clearly aware that this will pose a threat to us - an increase in the concentration of military units on our borders.”

The planned deployment was unprovoked and unjustified, said Peskov

UK defence ministry intelligence update

Wednesday 29 November 2023 10:30 , Athena Stavrou

The UK’s latest defence intelligence update has given an insight into Russia’s use of weaponry.

The Ministry of Defence said that the Russian air force has likely started to use the RBK-500 500kg cluster munition bomb more frequently.

They added that these have reportedly been deployed against Ukrainian forces near Avdiika and the Vuhledar axis in Donetsk Oblast.

Russia preparing ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners

Wednesday 29 November 2023 10:00 , Athena Stavrou

Russia’s interior ministry has prepared draft legislation that would force foreigners to sign a “loyalty agreement”.

The agreement would forbid them from criticising official policy, discrediting Soviet military history or contravening traditional family values.

The state TASS news agency reported that draft legislation had been prepared by the interior ministry which would force all foreigners entering Russia to sign an agreement that essentially restricts what they can say in public.

A foreigner entering Russia would be prohibited from “interfering with the activities of public authorities of the Russian Federation, discrediting in any form the foreign and domestic state policy of the Russian Federation, public authorities and their officials,” TASS said.

The proposed agreement would include clauses about morality, family, “propaganda about non-traditional sexual relations” and history.

In particular, foreigners would be barred from “distorting the historical truth about the feat of the Soviet people in the defence of the Fatherland and its contribution to the victory over fascism.”

German minister calls for protective winter shield over Ukraine

Wednesday 29 November 2023 09:30 , Athena Stavrou

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday called on Ukraine’s supporters to create a winter shield over the country to protect it from Russian attacks.

“Russia again is aiming at civil infrastructure”,” Baerbock told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ukraine receives 300,000 promised EU shells

Wednesday 29 November 2023 09:10 , Athena Stavrou

The European union has delivered about 300,000 of its promised million shells to Ukraine so far, Ukraine‘s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday while visiting a NATO event in Brussels.

Speaking to reporters on the event’s sidelines, Kuleba called for greater alignment of Ukraine‘s and NATO’s defence industries to ensure Kyiv has the supplies it needs to defeat Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

16-year-old named to post in rifle battalion

Wednesday 29 November 2023 08:40 , Athena Stavrou

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s teenage son has been named as an observer in a new battalion that is part of Russia’s defence ministry forces, a senior Chechen official said late on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Adam Delimkhanov, who heads the Chechen division of the Russian national guard and is also a member of Russia’s parliament, said the young Adam Kadyrov - who turned 16 last week - was named a curator, or observer, of a rifle battalion.

“This appointment was a natural result of Adam’s significant services in upholding the religious, family and cultural values of our people,” Delimkhanov, who is seen as Chechnya’s second most senior official behind Kadyrov, said on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukraine says bad weather slows Russian offensive in east

Wednesday 29 November 2023 08:07 , Athena Stavrou

Bad weather has slowed Russia’s campaign to secure eastern Ukraine and capture the shattered town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday.

Russian troops, backed by air strikes, have been trying to seize control of Avdiivka since mid-October as part of their slow-moving advance through eastern Ukraine.

After two days of storms - and snow in the south - the forecast was for more rain in the east, leaving the ground sodden and unsuitable for military manoeuvres.

“They’ve started to shell the town centre from Donetsk. Our brigade is holding its ground, but we can’t see any equipment coming,” Serhiy Tsekhotskyi, a Ukrainian officer in the town, told national television.

“The weather is unsuitable. But once the frosts come and the ground hardens, an attempted assault with equipment is possible.”

Another military spokesperson, Volodymyr Fitio, said inclement weather had forced the Russians to make “adjustments”.

“You cannot advance when the ground is like this,” Fitio told the media outlet Espreso TV. “The Russians previously brought in reserves and threw them into battle. There are a lot fewer movements like that now because of the weather.”

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Russia’s air defence forces destroy Ukraine-launched drone flying towards Moscow

Wednesday 29 November 2023 08:00 , Athena Stavrou

Russian air defence forces destroyed a Ukraine-launched drone flying towards Moscow, the mayor of the capital, Sergei Sobyanin, said on Wednesday.

The drone was destroyed over the Podolsk district in Moscow’s region, Sobyanin said on the Telegram messaging app.

“According to preliminary information, there was no damage or casualties at the site where the debris fell,” Sobyanin said.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet hits Ukraine’s military infrastructure

Wednesday 29 November 2023 07:52 , Athena Stavrou

A frigate of the Russian Black Sea Fleet launched an attack with four cruise missiles on Ukraine’s military infrastructure, Russia’s TASS state news agency reported on Wednesday.

“The crew of a frigate of the Black Sea Fleet received a sudden task of launching a strike with Kalibr cruise missiles in the shortest possible time against enemy military infrastructure,” TASS cited the ministry as saying.

The ministry said that “the designated targets” were hit but there was no immediate comment early on Wednesday from Ukraine about infrastructure being hit overnight.

Ukraine defends from Russian drones attacks overnight

Wednesday 29 November 2023 07:34 , Athena Stavrou

Russia launched 21 drones and three cruise missiles overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine‘s Air Force said on Wednesday, adding that all the drones and two missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets.

The Iranian-made Shahed drones were headed towards the Khmelnitskyi region, which is home to an airbase.

The missiles were headed for the southern parts of Ukraine, the air force said on the Telegram messaging app.

Although not destroyed, the third missile “did not reach” the target, the air force said, without further detail and there were no immediate reports of damage from falling debris.

Good morning

Wednesday 29 November 2023 07:28 , Athena Stavrou

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s Ukraine live blog.

We will be bringing you the latest updates on the war in Ukraine, where several drones and missiles have been launched by Russian forces overnight, according to the Ukrainian military.

In case you missed it: At least fourteen people dead in Ukraine and Russia snowstorm

Wednesday 29 November 2023 18:39 , Maira Butt

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:

At least 14 people died due to extreme weather conditions as a winter storm lashed parts of Russia and Ukraine, knocking out power from hundreds and thousands of households.

The severe cold struck war-torn Ukraine at a time when thousands of both Russian and Ukrainian troops were engaged in intense fighting in the eastern towns near the Black Sea almost 22 months into Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Kyiv fears Moscow could attack its power grids with air strikes this winter.

In Ukraine, at least 10 people were killed and almost 1,500 towns and villages were left without power after storms dumped up to 10 inches of snow in some places.

“As a result of worsening weather conditions, 10 people died in Odesa, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Kyiv regions,” interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Tuesday.

Read the full piece here.

‘Our Nato allies will never turn a blind eye to Russian aggression’

Wednesday 29 November 2023 06:00 , Katy Clifton

British foreign secretary Lord Cameron is urging his counterparts in Nato not to waver in their support for Ukraine as it continues to fight against Russian invaders.

The former prime minister has travelled to Brussels to demonstrate the UK’s continued support for Kyiv as it battles President Vladimir Putin’s attack. There has been less focus on the war in eastern Europe as Western allies address the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

But Lord Cameron said Nato must show the Kremlin that Nato backing for Ukraine will not dampen.

He said: “Nato keeps over one billion people safe and secure and, nearly 75 years on, the alliance is stronger than ever. Putin first believed that Nato would be divided and that Ukraine would crumble.

“Now he believes he can wait out his war in Ukraine. He was wrong then and he is wrong now. Together, the UK and our Nato allies will never turn a blind eye to Russian aggression.

“The UK will continue to be a steadfast supporter of Ukraine and a champion for European peace and stability.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) speaks with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron (EPA)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) speaks with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron (EPA)

ICYMI: Wife of Ukrainian spy chief poisoned

Wednesday 29 November 2023 04:00 , Katy Clifton

The wife of Ukraine‘s intelligence chief has been diagnosed with heavy metals poisoning and is undergoing treatment in hospital, a spokesperson for the agency said as the country’s war with Russia stretched into its 22nd month.

Marianna Budanova is the wife of Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine‘s military intelligence agency known by its local acronym GUR.

Her condition was confirmed to The Associated Press by Andrii Yusov, the agency’s spokesman.

Mr Yusov did not provide more details about the alleged poisoning, nor did he say if it was believed to have been intended for Mr Budanov or whether Russia was thought to be behind it.

Earlier this year, he told Ukrainian media that the military intelligence chief had survived 10 assassination attempts carried out by the Russian state security service, or FSB.

Previously, Mr Budanov had also told local media that his wife lives with him in his office, which could suggest he was the intended target for the poisoning.

Latest pictures from Ukraine

Wednesday 29 November 2023 02:00 , Katy Clifton

Ukrainian servicemen of the 22nd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training exercise in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 22nd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training exercise in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
People standing on the rubbles of a destroyed house following Russian shelling, in Seredyna-Buda (UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR OFFICE IN T)
People standing on the rubbles of a destroyed house following Russian shelling, in Seredyna-Buda (UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR OFFICE IN T)
A local resident inspects his flat damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
A local resident inspects his flat damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian service members help to clear a highway and release cars stuck in snow following a heavy snowstorm in Odesa region (via REUTERS)
Ukrainian service members help to clear a highway and release cars stuck in snow following a heavy snowstorm in Odesa region (via REUTERS)