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Russia-Ukraine war – live: Putin signs record boost to military spending amid huge losses on battlefield

Vladimir Putin has signed a record national budget aimed at boosting the military amid staggering losses on the battlefield.

After the budget was passed by the lower house of the parliament, speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said it was developed specifically to fund the military and to mitigate the impact of international sanctions imposed after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Part of the Russian budget is secret as the Kremlin tries to conceal its military plans and sidestep scrutiny of its operation in Ukraine.

But independent business journalists Farida Rustamova and Maksim Tovkaylo said this month that around 39 per cent of all federal spending will go towards defence and law enforcement in 2024.

It comes as data published by the UK Ministry of Defence, provided by Ukraine’s General Staff, showed the number of Russians casualties had risen to an average 931 a day this month.

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Putin is stepping up his invasion - senselessly sending more Russians to die than at any time since the war began.”

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

  • Full statement from Grant Shapps

Snow storm forces Russia's Black Sea fleet to retreat

12:30 , Lydia Patrick

The Institute for the Study Of War reported that the storm forced Russia to return all of its naval vessels and missile carriers to their bases, and suggested that the threat of mines drifting in the Black Sea will increase because the storm has dispersed minefields.

The damage caused by the storm affected “the tempo of military operations along the frontline in Ukraine“ but has not stopped military activity entirely, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said.

There were also reports that the storm damaged railways in coastal areas which could have an impact on the Russian military’s logistics capabilities in occupied Crimea and southern Ukraine, the ISW said.

Winds of 67 mph were forecast for Tuesday in Crimea, southern Russia and parts of north-western Russia, the state news agency Tass reported.

Russia Crimea Storm (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Russia Crimea Storm (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Tornadoes to sweep across Black Sea region

12:00 , Lydia Patrick

Tornadoes have been forecast for the Black Sea region, a day after a storm that left more than two million people without electricity in Russia and Ukraine.

A think tank said the weather also affected Russian military operations.

The storm killed at least 14 people in Russia and Ukraine, officials said, as it toppled trees, tore down power lines and flooded coastal areas.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at least five people died in the Odesa region of southern Ukraine, and that engineers were working to restore electricity to villages that have been cut off.

Winds of 67 mph were forecast for Tuesday in Crimea, southern Russia and parts of north-western Russia, the state news agency Tass reported.

In the Vologda region, about 310 miles north east of Moscow, more than 10 days worth of snow - about 25cm (10in) - fell in one day, Tass said, citing the mayor of a small town who said road clearing took twice as long as usual.

The storm also caused the Moscow region to be blanketed with snow on Monday, piling drifts up to 25cm deep, three times heavier than normal, the Tass news agency said.

It was part of a weather system that created blizzard-like conditions in Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia on Sunday, dumping snow and causing power outages and fatal traffic crashes.

Ukrainian emergency workers tow ambulance from snow as storm kills five (The State Emergency Service of Ukraine)
Ukrainian emergency workers tow ambulance from snow as storm kills five (The State Emergency Service of Ukraine)

UK's Cameron to underline support for Ukraine at NATO meeting

11:43 , Lydia Patrick

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron will underline the country’s “unwavering” support for Ukraine at his first meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, his office said in a statement.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron (left) and Minister of State for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell leave 10 Downing Street (PA)
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron (left) and Minister of State for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell leave 10 Downing Street (PA)

In depth- Russian forces encircle Ukraine’s Avdiivka and ‘ready to storm city’ after months-long offensive

11:15 , Lydia Patrick

Russian troops have encircled the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka from “all directions” following a months-long offensive that is yet to see a significant breakthrough on the battlefield.

Vladimir Putin‘s forces have suffered some of their heaviest losses in the war so far as they escalated land and air-based attacks on Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, but have been facing a strong pushback from Ukrainian forces in recent weeks.

“Things in the Avdiivka sector have become tougher. The intensity of clashes has been increasing for some time,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, told Espreso TV.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar has the full story

Russian forces encircle Avdiivka and ‘ready to storm city’

Russian forces surround Adviika

10:39 , Lydia Patrick

Russian troops have been pressing land and air-based attacks, attempting to encircle the eastern town of Avdiivka,

Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka‘s military administration, said last week that Ukrainian troops had made some headway in halting and pushing back the Russian advance.

“Things in the Avdiivka sector have become even tougher. The intensity of clashes has been increasing for some time,” Barabash told the media outlet Espreso TV.

“The Russians have opened up two more sectors from which they have begun making assaults - in the direction of Donetsk ... and in the so-called industrial zone. The enemy is attempting to storm the city from all directions.”

Officials say not a single building remains intact after months of battles in the town noted for a vast coking plant. Fewer than 1,500 residents remain of 32,000 before the war.

Ukrainian serviceman stands next to residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in the front line town of Avdiivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine (REUTERS)
Ukrainian serviceman stands next to residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in the front line town of Avdiivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine (REUTERS)

Watch - Ukrainian Emergency Workers Tow Ambulance From Snow As Storm Hits Black Sea Region

10:00 , Lydia Patrick

Wife of Ukraine military chief poisoned

09:42 , Lydia Patrick

Marianna Budanova, the wife of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Chief Kyrylo Budanov, was poisoned, a representative of the military intelligence agency (HUR)told the Kyiv Independent.

Budanova was hospitalised due to heavy metal poisoining, reported the Ukrainian media outlet Babel who say they were informed by undisclosed military intelligence sources.

The HUR representative confirmed Babel’s report in a comment for the Kyiv Independent.

The Independent has not been able to verify the reports.

Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov offers Putin thousands more fighters amid heavy Russian losses in Ukraine

09:30 , Lydia Patrick

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said another 3,000 of his men were ready to join Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine amid reports of heavy losses for Vladimir Putin‘s troops in their push to capture an eastern city.

Mr Kadyrov, a self-proclaimed “foot soldier” of the Russian president, said his fighters were ready to form new units of the Russian defence ministry and the Russian National Guard forces.

His statement comes amid reports of Russian troops suffering “some of the highest” casualties of the conflict so far amid intense fighting in eastern Ukraine. The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday said Russia was losing an average of 931 men a day this month, largely in the fight for the town of Avdiivka.

Until now the heaviest casualties suffered in a month by Russia – according to Ukrainian data – was March this year, with an average of 776 losses per day during the push to capture Bakhmut.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar has the full story

Chechen warlord Kadyrov offers Putin 3,000 more fighters amid heavy Russian losses

WSJ says Russia's continued detention of Gershkovich is attack on free press

09:00 , Lydia Patrick

The Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday that Russia’s continued imprisonment of U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich was a “brazen and outrageous attack” on a free press, and called for his immediate release.

A Russian court said on Tuesday it had extended the pre-trial detention of Gershkovich, who denies the Russian espionage charges, for two months until Jan. 30.

“Evan has now been unjustly imprisoned for nearly 250 days, and every day is a day too long,” the Journal said in an emailed statement.

“The accusations against him are categorically false and his continued imprisonment is a brazen and outrageous attack on a free press, which is critical for a free society. We continue to stand with Evan and call for his immediate release.”

Ten people die in Ukraine snowstorms - interior minister

08:30 , Lydia Patrick

Ten people have died in snowstorms in Ukraine, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Tuesday.

Icy winds and storms have swept in since Sunday, cutting power and blocking roads, particularly in the south.

“As a result of worsening weather conditions, 10 people died in Odesa, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Kyiv regions,” Klymenko wrote on the Telegram app.

“Twenty-three people were injured, including two children,” he added.

A total of 411 settlements in 11 regions had lost power, and more than 1,500 vehicles had to be rescued, Klymenko said.

This handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Emergency Service on November 27, 2023, shows a rescuer pushing a car during heavy snowfall in Odesa region (UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)
This handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Emergency Service on November 27, 2023, shows a rescuer pushing a car during heavy snowfall in Odesa region (UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP)

Russian court extends pre-trial detention for WSJ reporter Gershkovich

08:00 , Lydia Patrick

A Russian court has extended the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for two months until Jan. 30, 2024, the court’s press service said on Tuesday.

Gershkovich was arrested on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison. The reporter denies the charges.

“The court ruled to extend the term of detention of Gershkovich, accused of a crime under Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, for up to 10 months, that is, until January 30, 2024,” Moscow’s Lefortovo district court said.

Nearly 2,500 rescued after snowstorm in Ukraine's Odesa region

07:35 , Lydia Patrick

Nearly 2,500 people were rescued after a snowstorm in Ukraine‘s southern region of Odesa, local governor Oleh Kiper said, adding that 313 settlements in the region were without power as a result of the bad weather.

Odesa region, which lies on the shore of the Black Sea, has been hit by severe snowstorms since Sunday, stranding vehicles and downing power lines.

“849 vehicles have been towed out, including 24 buses and 17 ambulances,” Kiper wrote on the Telegram app.

He said all those trapped by the snow since the start of the snowstorm had now been rescued.

Emergency workers release a car which stuck in snow during a heavy snow storm in Odesa region (via REUTERS)
Emergency workers release a car which stuck in snow during a heavy snow storm in Odesa region (via REUTERS)

Ukraine and the Western Balkans top Blinken agenda for NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels

05:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is turning his attention to Ukraine, NATO and the Western Balkans after weeks of intense focus on Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Blinken has spent much of the last month-and-a-half deeply engaged on the Gaza crisis, making two trips to the Middle East. Now, amid signs that a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas due to expire on Monday may be extended, Blinken is departing for Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting.

In Brussels, the alliance will reaffirm its support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion, explore ways of easing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia and look at preparations for NATO’s 75th anniversary next year.

Ukraine and the Western Balkans top Blinken agenda for NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels

Putin unveils Russia’s new AI strategy to rival Western advances in artificial intelligence

04:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin has unveiled what he calls Russia’s new strategy to counter Western dominance of the field of artifical intelligence, claiming that new AI models “cancel Russian culture”.

The president addressed an AI conference in Moscow on Friday where he said Russian investment in AI development was being increased across all sectors.

Citing the example of Gazprom Neft, Mr Putin said one of Russia’s largest oil producers was using AI to slash the cost of oil well development and to address complicated logistics safety issues.

Putin targets AI as latest battleground with West

Russia forced to move air defences from Kaliningrad to Ukraine frontline amid heavy losses

03:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia has likely been forced to move several air defence systems from its Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea coast to the frontline in Ukraine amid the losses it has suffered there, according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Vladimir Putin appears to have been left with no choice but to weaken the defences of Kaliningrad, an outpost bordered by Nato members on three sides and considered one of Moscow’s most strategically sensitive regions.

“Exceptional Russian air transport movements through November 2023 suggest that Russia has likely moved strategic air defence systems from its Baltic coast enclave of Kaliningrad, to backfill recent losses on the Ukraine front,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update on Sunday.

Russia forced to move air defences from Kaliningrad to Ukraine front after losses

More than half a million people left without power in Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after huge storm

02:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

More than half a million people were left without power in Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after a storm in the Black Sea area flooded roads, ripped up trees and took down power lines, Russian state news agency Tass and Ukraine’s energy ministry said. Meanwhile, the Moscow region experienced its heaviest snowfall in 40 years, the governor said.

The storms and snowfall were part of a weather front that left one person dead and many places without electricity amid heavy snow and blizzards in Romania and Moldova on Sunday.

The head of Russia’s national meteorological service said the storm that hit Crimea was the most powerful since record keeping began, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

More than half a million people left without power in Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after huge storm

Schumer to bring spending package on Israel and Ukraine to Senate floor

01:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that he’s set to bring a spending package connecting funding for Ukraine and Israel to the floor of the upper chamber.

In a letter to colleagues on Sunday, the New York Democrat wrote, “One of the most important tasks we must finish is taking up and passing a funding bill to ensure we as well as our friends and partners in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region have the necessary military capabilities to confront and deter our adversaries and competitors”.

Both GOP congressional leaders – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Mike Johnson – have argued that any Republican backing of aid to Ukraine must be tied to restricting immigration, CNN noted. Mr Schumer said talks regarding the border issue had gone on over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Schumer to bring spending package on Israel and Ukraine to Senate floor

Russian supermarkets are full of fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat. But shoppers can’t afford any of it

00:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The shelves at Moscow supermarkets are full of fruit and vegetables, cheese and meat. But many of the shoppers look at the selection with dismay as inflation makes their wallets feel empty.

Russia’s Central Bank has raised its key lending rate four times this year to try to get inflation under control and stabilize the ruble’s exchange rate as the economy weathers the effects of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and the Western sanctions imposed as a consequence.

The last time it raised the rate — to 15%, doubled that from the beginning of the year — the bank said it was concerned about prices that were increasing at an annualized pace of about 12%. The bank now forecasts inflation for the full year, as well as next year, to be about 7.5%.

Russian supermarkets are full of fruit and vegetables. But shoppers can’t afford it

Lavrov says no meeting between Russia and US this week

Monday 27 November 2023 23:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia said on Monday there would be no meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at an OSCE meeting in North Macedonia this week.

Lavrov had said earlier he would join the foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Canada and the United States, in Skopje if Bulgaria opened its air space for him. He said some Western countries had requested meetings with him.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, the West has sought to isolate Russia, and face-to-face meetings between senior ministers have been rare.

But in response to a question at the same Primakov Readings foreign policy forum, the TASS news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying Washington had not requested a meeting “and will not request one. And there will be no meeting”.

The meeting of the 57-member OSCE, which is intended to prevent conflict and security crises, takes place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

“Apparently Bulgaria has promised Macedonia it will open its air space - if that happens then we will be there. Let’s see,” Lavrov said.

“There are already several requests for meetings - including from Western representatives,” Lavrov said, without naming any countries.

Putin pardons two cannibals who joined Russia’s war in Ukraine – report

Monday 27 November 2023 22:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin has reportedly pardoned two Russian men convicted of cannibalism after they deployed to the frontline in the war with Ukraine.

One of the men, Denis Gorin, was recruited into a private military company after signing a contract with the Russian ministry of defence but is known to have been convicted thrice for murdering at least four people between 2003 and 2022. He was also convicted of eating the remains of his victims along with his brother, reported Sibir Realii, a news outlet aligned with Radio Free Europe.

He is the 17th person convicted for murder to be pardoned by the Russian president between 2022 and 2023. “At the trial, he (Gorin) admitted that they ate the murdered man who was their acquaintance,” said his neighbour Dmitry Vladimirovich.

Putin pardons two cannibals who joined Russia’s war in Ukraine – report

Putin to boost AI work in Russia to fight a Western monopoly he says is 'unacceptable and dangerous'

Monday 27 November 2023 21:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In case you missed it...

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced a plan to endorse a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, emphasizing that it’s essential to prevent a Western monopoly.

Speaking at an AI conference in Moscow, Putin noted that “it’s imperative to use Russian solutions in the field of creating reliable and transparent artificial intelligence systems that are also safe for humans.”

“Monopolistic dominance of such foreign technology in Russia is unacceptable, dangerous and inadmissible,” Putin said.

Putin to boost AI work in Russia to fight a Western monopoly he says is 'unacceptable and dangerous'

Dead, wounded or AWOL: Secret recordings reveal Russian soldiers trying to get out of the Ukraine war

Monday 27 November 2023 20:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In audio intercepts from the front lines in Ukraine, Russian soldiers speak in shorthand of 200s to mean dead, 300s to mean wounded. The urge to flee has become common enough that they also talk of 500s — people who refuse to fight.

As the war grinds into its second winter, a growing number of Russian soldiers want out, as suggested in secret recordings obtained by The Associated Press of Russian soldiers calling home from the battlefields of the Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine.

The calls offer a rare glimpse of the war as it looked through Russian eyes — a point of view that seldom makes its way into Western media, largely because Russia has made it a crime to speak honestly about the conflict in Ukraine.

They also show clearly how the war has progressed, from the professional soldiers who initially powered Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion to men from all walks of life compelled to serve in grueling conditions.

Secret recordings reveal Russian soldiers trying to get out of the Ukraine war

Ukraine and the Western Balkans top Blinken's agenda for NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels

Monday 27 November 2023 19:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is turning his attention to Ukraine, NATO and the Western Balkans after weeks of intense focus on Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Now, with the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas extended for two more days, Blinken departed Monday for Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting.In Brussels, the alliance will reaffirm its support for Ukraine‘s defense against Russia‘s invasion, explore ways of easing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia and look at preparations for NATO’s 75th anniversary next year.

The two-day session on Tuesday and Wednesday will include the first foreign minister-level meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, a body created by alliance leaders at their last summit to improve cooperation and coordination and help prepare Kyiv for eventual membership.

“Allies will continue to support Ukraine‘s self-defense until Russia stops its war of aggression,” said Jim O’Brien, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe.

In a call with reporters on Monday, O’Brien said Blinken may travel to Skopje, North Macedonia, after Brussels for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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

Monday 27 November 2023 18:14 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a national budget for the next three years that increases spending by around 25% and reportedly devotes a record amount to defence as the country’s military operation in Ukraine drags on.

The budget foresees spending in 2024 of 36.6 trillion roubles with an expected deficit of 1.595 trillion roubles.

After the budget was passed by the lower house of the parliament, speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said it was developed specifically to fund the military and to mitigate the impact of international sanctions imposed after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Record low unemployment, higher wages and targeted social spending should help the Kremlin ride out the domestic impact of pivoting the economy towards the military, but could pose a problem in the long term, analysts say.

Part of the Russian budget is secret as the Kremlin tries to conceal its military plans and sidestep scrutiny of its operation in Ukraine.

But independent business journalists Farida Rustamova and Maksim Tovkaylo said this month that around 39% of all federal spending will go towards defence and law enforcement in 2024.

 (Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
(Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Pictures from the conflict make agency AFP Pictures of the Year

Monday 27 November 2023 18:00 , Alex Ross

Ukrainian servicemen walk on the road toward their base near the frontline in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen walk on the road toward their base near the frontline in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
A portrait of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner group, is seen at the makeshift memorial in Moscow (AFP via Getty Images)
A portrait of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner group, is seen at the makeshift memorial in Moscow (AFP via Getty Images)
Steeplejacks wave the Ukrainian flag after finishing installing the coat of arms of Ukraine on the shield of the 62 metre Motherland Monument in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Steeplejacks wave the Ukrainian flag after finishing installing the coat of arms of Ukraine on the shield of the 62 metre Motherland Monument in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)

Finland plans to stop asylum surge from Russia

Monday 27 November 2023 17:35 , Alex Ross

More measures may soon be taken by Finland to stop a surge in asylum seekers crossing the border from Russia.

Some 900 asylum seekers from nations including Afghanistan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have entered Finland from Russia in November.

Finland say the increase is an orchestrated move by Moscow in retaliation for its decision to increase defence cooperation with the United States

“Intelligence information from different sources tells us that there still are people on the move ... If this continues, more measures will be announced in the near future,” Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told a press conference.

Several Finnish media outlets have reported that the government had held talks over closing the whole border.

Crimean artefacts arrive in Ukraine

Monday 27 November 2023 17:10 , Alex Ross

We mentioned earlier about ancient artefacts from Russian-occupied Crimea being sent to Ukraine by a Dutch museum.

They include precious items such as a solid gold Scythian helmet and golden neck ornament, and were on loan to Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum when Russian troops seized and annexed the peninsula in 2014.

Now we’re seeing video on social media of a truck carrying the items coming into Ukraine

Extreme weather kills four people

Monday 27 November 2023 16:40 , Alex Ross

Russian news agency TASS is reporting that four people have now died in severe cold weather in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Emergency conditions have been declared in the Crimean Peninsula, Tatyana Lyubetskaya, a Russia-installed official at the region’s environmental monitoring department, told the news agency.

It follows a weekend storm that pounded the Black Sea region toppled trees, tore down power lines and flooded coastal areas.

More than half a million people were without power on Monday morning.

The storms were part of a weather system that created blizzard-like conditions in Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia on Sunday.

Damage at a storm-hit seafront in Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)
Damage at a storm-hit seafront in Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)

Polish truckers start blockade

Monday 27 November 2023 16:10 , Alex Ross

Polish truckers and farmers today started a round-the-clock blockade of access to one of the busiest border crossings with Ukraine.

The truckers, now blocking the Medyka crossing as well as three other border crossings, complain they are losing out to Ukrainian companies which offer cheaper prices for their services and which are transporting goods within the European Union.

Tomasz Borkowski, leader of the Committee to Protect Transporters and Transport Employers, a Polish union, said: “I would like to end this protest as soon as possible, because it is as burdensome for us as for everyone around us.

“We have no intention of giving up and we will stand until we get our terms.”

The protest started on November 6, with truckers demanding the EU bring in a permit system for Ukrainian truckers to ensure fair competition.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

More on the tractor plant

Monday 27 November 2023 15:40 , Alex Ross

The factory is believed to employ around 30,000 people, and produces two of Russia’s most advanced main battle tank systems; T-72 and T-90 tanks.

On Monday morning, Russia’s emergencies ministry said the fire was under control.

Although it was reported that residents nearby were still without water and power.

Pictures from the explosion at Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant

Monday 27 November 2023 15:25 , Alex Ross

If the fire was responsibilty of Ukraine, it would be its furthest attack behind enemy lines of the war so far.

Russian officials have said it was caused by a short circuit.

 (Twitter/@EuromaidanPR)
(Twitter/@EuromaidanPR)
 (Twitter/@EuromaidanPR)
(Twitter/@EuromaidanPR)
 (Twitter/@EuromaidanPR)
(Twitter/@EuromaidanPR)

Crimean artefacts sent to Ukraine

Monday 27 November 2023 15:00 , Alex Ross

Ancient artefacts from Russian-occupied Crimea have been sent to Ukraine by a Dutch museum.

More than 1,000 Scythian artefacts, including a solid gold Scythian helmet and golden neck ornament, were on loan to Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum when Russian troops seized and annexed the peninsula in 2014.

Now, following a legal dispute over ownership rights between Ukraine and the Moscow-contolled territory, 565 of the items have been sent to Kyiv.

They date from when the Scythian people lived in the area between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC.

“This was a special case, in which cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical developments,” said Els van der Plas, director of the Allard Pierson. “We are pleased that clarity has emerged and that they have now been returned.”

It comes after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by TASS state news agency as saying the artefacts “belong to Crimea and should be there”.

A 1st-century AD golden pendant in the shape of a deer, found in a grave at the necropolis of Ust’Alma and which is part of the collection sent to Kyiv (ALLARD PIERSON MUSEUM/AFP via Ge)
A 1st-century AD golden pendant in the shape of a deer, found in a grave at the necropolis of Ust’Alma and which is part of the collection sent to Kyiv (ALLARD PIERSON MUSEUM/AFP via Ge)

Heavy snow

Monday 27 November 2023 14:40 , Alex Ross

More than 2,000 towns and villages across Ukraine have been hit by power cuts after heavy snow

Pedestrians make they way along a pavement cleared of snow in Kyiv (EPA)
Pedestrians make they way along a pavement cleared of snow in Kyiv (EPA)
Ukrainian rescuers assisting stranded following overnight snowfall in the Odesa region (EPA)
Ukrainian rescuers assisting stranded following overnight snowfall in the Odesa region (EPA)
People walk past snow covered, destroyed Russian machinery displayed in Kyiv (EPA)
People walk past snow covered, destroyed Russian machinery displayed in Kyiv (EPA)
Communal workers clear snow from a street of Kyiv (EPA)
Communal workers clear snow from a street of Kyiv (EPA)

NATO focus back on Ukraine

Monday 27 November 2023 14:16 , Alex Ross

After weeks of intense focus on the Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be putting Ukraine at the top of the agenda in a meeting with NATO foreign ministers this week.

Mr Blinken will join the two-day sessions in Brussells tomorrow and on Wednesday, with the alliance expected to reaffirm its support for Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion.

“Allies will continue to support Ukraine’s self-defence until Russia stops its war of aggression,” said Jim O’Brien, the top US diplomat for Europe.

The session will alos see the first foreign minister-level meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, a body created by alliance leaders at their last summit to improve cooperation and coordination and help prepare Kyiv for eventual membership.

The meeting will come amid continued fighting between Kyiv and Moscow - with both facing worsening weather conditions.

Antony Blinken will bring Ukraine to the top of the agenda in a meeting with NATO foreign ministers (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Antony Blinken will bring Ukraine to the top of the agenda in a meeting with NATO foreign ministers (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Several rockets fired close to nuclear plant

Monday 27 November 2023 13:40 , Alex Ross

The UN’s nuclear agency has today reported hearing several rockets appearing to have been fired closed to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

It is believed they were fired from a multiple launch rocket system nearby.

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “Today’s events once again clearly demonstrate the extremely fragile nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – located on the frontline – continues to face many potential threats as a result of this tragic war,

“I remain deeply concerned about nuclear safety and security at the plant, both when it comes to its vulnerable off-site power supplies – which can be affected by attacks far away from the site – and the more direct military risks it is facing, potentially undermining the principals hat I set out at the United Nations Security Council in May. In this context, the apparent firing of rockets from near the plant is a special source of concern.”

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was captured by Russia in March 2022 (REUTERS)
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was captured by Russia in March 2022 (REUTERS)

‘Heavy losses'

Monday 27 November 2023 13:20 , Alex Ross

Appearing to back the data on Russian casualties reported by the UK’s Ministry of Defence today, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said Ukraine is inflicting huge losses for the Russians in recent weeks.

It comes as the fighting now takes place under a blanket of snow storms as winter sets in across the region.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “We see high casualty numbers and some of the most intense fightings that we have seen throughout the whole war has actually taken place over the last weeks and couple of months.

“Again we are impressed by the bravery, the competence of the Ukrainian forces, and also their ability to actually strike behind the Russian lines, deep into Russian-controlled territory.

“And of course military achievements can partly be measured in square metres but also on the losses you are able to inflict on your adversary.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Almost 1,000 casualties in Avdiivka attack

Monday 27 November 2023 13:00 , Alex Ross

As Russia continues its attack on almost all sides of the eastern city of Avdiivka, we’re now hearing more on the number of injuries on the Moscow side.

A briefing from Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Ukraine’s estimate on the number of daily Russian casualties has increased from 776 in March to 931 this month.

It said: “Although Defence Intelligence cannot verify the methodology, taken as a total including both killed and wounded, the figures are plausible.

“The last six weeks have likely seen some of the highest Russian casualty rates of the war so far.

“The heavy losses have largely been caused by Russia’s offensive against the Donbas town of Avdiivka.”

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

Full statement from Grant Shapps

Monday 27 November 2023 12:43 , Alex Ross

Mr Shapps did not hold back in his response to new figures published on the number of Russian casualties.

The figures, from the Ukgrainian General Staff and described as “plausible” by the UK’s Ministry of Defence showed an average 931 Ukrainian soldiers were killed or injured every day this month.

Mr Shapps wrote on X: “Putin is stepping up his invasion - senselessly sending more Russians to die than at any time since the war began. Ukrainian bravery and western support is holding back their advance, but we cannot be complacent. Ukraine needs our unwavering support to fight and win.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Pictures from the severe weather impacting Ukraine

Monday 27 November 2023 12:11 , Alex Ross

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky has shared pictures showing the damage caused by the severe weather to towns and villages across Ukraine.

The extreme weather comes as tens of thousands of troops man front-line positions in the 21-month-old war with Russia and amid fears Moscow could target the power grid with air strikes this winter.

Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, said early on Monday that it had been able to restore power to nearly 250 villages and towns.

Wanted man

Monday 27 November 2023 12:00 , Alex Ross

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone has been added to Russia’s wanted list on unspecified terrorism charges, according to media reports.

It comes after Russia banned Facebook and Instragram in March 2022, calling parent company Meta “extremist”.

Media reports say Mr Stone is wanted by Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, reported Mediazona, an independent news website that covers Russia’s opposition and prison system.

Russia places Meta spokesperson on wanted list

Zelensky hails soldiers

Monday 27 November 2023 11:30 , Alex Ross

“I would like to thank everyone who is working now and will continue to work tomorrow to protect us from this bad weather,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, as he praised his soldiers amid brutal winter weather conditions in the conflict with Russia.

Snowstorms and high winds had left 400 settlements without power, he said.

He added: “Now, when it is so difficult, in such conditions, we should all be especially grateful to those who defend our country, who carry out Ukrainian offensive operations, who are in combat positions, at combat posts, on duty in mobile fire groups and in all our other units that protect Ukraine, the life of our state and our independence.”

How the weather is impacting Ukraine

Monday 27 November 2023 11:02 , Alex Ross

Ukraine was hit by a severe snowstorm today, with more than 2,000 villages and towns witout power and dozens of motorways closed.

The extreme weather comes as tens of thousands of troops man front-line positions in the 21-month-old war with Russia and amid fears Moscow could target the power grid with air strikes this winter.

At least 1,370 cargo trucks were stuck and 840 cars had to be towed away amid snow drifts that in some places were two meters (6.56 ft) high, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko wrote on the Telegram messenger.

Southern and central Ukraine were the worst hit, he said.

Volodymyr Zelensky said: “I would like to thank everyone who is working now and will continue to work tomorrow to protect us from this bad weather and to restore normal living conditions in all our Ukrainian communities as soon as possible.”

Half a million people without power in Crimea

Monday 27 November 2023 10:11 , Alex Ross

Almost half a million people have been left without power and one person was killed after a storm in the Black Sea area flooded roads, ripped up trees and took down power lines in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said.

The storm also hit southern Russia and sent waves flooding into the beach resort of Sochi, blew the roof off a five-story building off in Anapa and damaged homes and schools in Kuban, the state news agency said.

It was part of a weather front that earlier left one person dead and hundreds of places without electricity amid heavy snowfall and strong blizzards in Romania and Moldova on Sunday.

The storm prompted several Crimean regions to declare a state of emergency after it became the strongest recorded in the past 16 years with wind speeds reaching 144 kph (almost 90 mph), Tatyana Lyubetskaya, a Russia-installed official at the Crimean environmental monitoring department, told Tass.

The government in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, told people to stay at home on Monday and closed government offices including schools and hospitals as strong winds are still expected Monday.

Russia forced to move air defence systems out of Kaliningrad

Monday 27 November 2023 09:15 , Alex Ross

Russia is having to move several air defence systems from the Baltic Sea coast to the frontline after losses to its SA-21 air defence systems in occupied Ukraine, according to UK Ministry of Defence.

Ukrainian attacks most likely destroyed at least four Russian surface-to-air missile systems that were located in occupied territories in a span of a single week, the MoD said in an earlier update on 2 November.

It now appears that Putin has been forced to move the systems from Kaliningrad, which is considered one of Moscow’s mosts strategically sensitive regions.

Russia forced to move air defences from Kaliningrad to Ukraine front after losses

Latest on Russian advances near Avdiivka

Monday 27 November 2023 08:26 , Alex Ross

Russian armoured vehicles attacked Ukrainian positions on the south eastern part of the key city of Avdiivka on Sunday, according to the Institute for the Study of War think tank.

The group also says Putin’s forces have also made advances in the town of Krasnohorivka, around four miles north of Avdiivka.

The attacks illustrate the focus of Russian forces on capturing the city, which is 13 miles north of Donetsk and was an industrial centre before the war.

ICYMI: Russian consumers feel themselves in a tight spot as high inflation persists

Monday 27 November 2023 07:00 , Matt Mathers

The shelves at Moscow supermarkets are full of fruit and vegetables, cheese and meat. But many of the shoppers look at the selection with dismay as inflation makes their wallets feel empty.

Russia’s Central Bank has raised its key lending rate four times this year to try to get inflation under control and stabilize the ruble’s exchange rate as the economy weathers the effects of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and the Western sanctions imposed as a consequence.

Full report:

Russian consumers feel themselves in a tight spot as high inflation persists

ICYMI: Putin pardons two cannibals who joined Russia’s war in Ukraine – report

Monday 27 November 2023 06:00 , Matt Mathers

Vladimir Putin has reportedly pardoned two Russian men convicted of cannibalism after they deployed to the frontline in the war with Ukraine.

One of the men, Denis Gorin, was recruited into a private military company after signing a contract with the Russian ministry of defence but is known to have been convicted thrice for murdering at least four people between 2003 and 2022. He was also convicted of eating the remains of his victims along with his brother, reported Sibir Realii, a news outlet aligned with Radio Free Europe.

Putin pardons two cannibals who joined Russia’s war in Ukraine – report

Ukraine aims a major drone attack at Crimea as Russia tries to capture a destroyed eastern city

Monday 27 November 2023 05:00 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine launched one of the biggest drone attacks on the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula since the full-scale war that started with Russia’s invasion 21 months ago, Russian officials said Friday.

At the same time, Ukrainian officials reported that the Kremlin’s forces escalated their weekslong and costly attempt to storm Avdiivka, a strategically important city in eastern Ukraine.

Full report:

Ukraine aims a major drone attack at Crimea

ICYMI: Slovak leader calls the war between Russia and Ukraine a frozen conflict

Monday 27 November 2023 04:00 , Matt Mathers

Slovakia’s new prime minister, Robert Fico, said on Friday he considers the war between Ukraine and Russia a frozen conflict that cannot be solved by sending arms to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Fico ended his country’s military aid for Ukraine after his new government was sworn in on Oct. 25.

Full report:

Slovak leader calls the war between Russia and Ukraine a frozen conflict

Dead, wounded or AWOL: The voices of desperate Russian soldiers trying to get out of the Ukraine war

Monday 27 November 2023 03:00 , Matt Mathers

In audio intercepts from the front lines in Ukraine, Russian soldiers speak in shorthand of 200s to mean dead, 300s to mean wounded. The urge to flee has become common enough that they also talk of 500s — people who refuse to fight.

As the war grinds into its second winter, a growing number of Russian soldiers want out, as suggested in secret recordings obtained by The Associated Press of Russian soldiers calling home from the battlefields of the Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine.

Full report:

Dead, wounded or AWOL: The voices of desperate Russian soldiers trying to get out of the Ukraine war

'You’ll die in this pit': Takeaways from secret recordings of Russian soldiers in Ukraine

Monday 27 November 2023 02:00 , Matt Mathers

Secretly recorded calls of Russian soldiers speaking from the front lines in Ukraine with loved ones back home offer a rare glimpse of the war through Russian eyes.

As the war in Ukraine grinds into its second winter, a growing number of Russian soldiers want out, audio intercepts obtained and verified by The Associated Press indicate. Russian soldiers speak in shorthand of 200s to mean dead, 300s to mean wounded. The urge to flee has become common enough that they also talk of 500s — people who refuse to fight.

Full report:

'You’ll die in this pit': Takeaways from secret recordings of Russian soldiers in Ukraine

ICYMI: Kyiv hit by biggest Russian drone attack since war began

Monday 27 November 2023 01:00 , Matt Mathers

Russia has launched its most intense drone attack on Ukraine since its full-scale invasion in 2022, targeting Kyiv.

Moscow launched around 75 Iranian-made Shahed drones against Ukraine, of which 71 were destroyed by air defense, Ukraine’s armed forces said.

Full report:

Kyiv hit by biggest Russian drone attack since war began