Russia-Ukraine war – live: Putin to give shock G20 speech as Moscow troops desert Donetsk frontline

LIVE – Updated at 08:30

Vladimir Putin will set out Russia’s view of the “deeply unstable world situation” in a shock G20 speech this week, the Kremlin has said, as Ukraine claimed growing numbers of Moscow’s troops were deserting the frontline in Donetsk.

Ukraine’s military has been bracing for a “third wave” of Russian assaults on the key city of Avdiivka – but a spokesperson claimed Moscow was being forced to rely increasingly on penal recruits and reservists due to its soldiers refusing to take part in casualty-heavy assaults.

Further south, Kyiv’s forces claimed to have pushed Mr Putin’s forces three to eight kilometres back on the banks of the Dnipro River, in what would mark the first significant advance by Kyiv’s forces months into a grindingly slow counteroffensive.

Ukrainian and Russian forces have been entrenched on opposite sides of the vast waterway in Kherson for more than a year, until Kyiv claimed last week to have finally established multiple footholds on the river’s eastern bank.

Key Points

  • Ukrainian army pushing Russian forces back at Dnipro river
  • Russia launches waves of drone strikes on Kyiv for second night
  • Cluster bombs in battle for Avdiivka fuelling stalemate on frontline, says UK
  • Ukraine establishes ‘several bridgeheads’ on eastern bank of Dnipro

Here are some of the latest pictures from Ukraine

08:30 , Tom Watling

Good morning. Below are some of the latest pictures from Ukraine as German defence minister Boris Pistorius arrived in Kyiv this morning for a secret visit.

His visit comes as snow has begun to fall in eastern Ukraine amid fears of a stalemate on the frontline.

General Valery Zaluzhny, the chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, wrote an article earlier this month in which he said the battle had descended into “positional” warfare and that there would be no major breakthrough such as the one many had hoped the summer counteroffensive would achieve. He met with US defece secretary Lloyd Austin yesterday.

Russia says it scuppers more Ukrainian attempts to cross the Dnipro

07:53 , Tara Cobham

Russia said on Tuesday that marines, aviation and artillery had scuppered more Ukrainian attempts to gain a foothold on the eastern bank of the River Dnipro and on islands at the mouth of the river in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine said this month that its forces had crossed the Dnipro and established several bridgeheads on the eastern banks of the river, though Russia said it was pummelling the Ukrainian positions.

“Black Sea Fleet marines are stopping all attempts by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to carry out amphibious landings on the Dnipro islands and the left bank of the Dnipro River,” Russia’s defence ministry said.

The Russian defence ministry published a video which it said showed marines from the 810th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade defeating Ukrainian forces. Soldiers were shown firing a variety of weapons, though the result of the fighting was unclear.

It said Ukrainian forces were suffering heavy casualties and losing equipment in unsuccessful attempts to land on islands in the Dnipro. Reuters was unable to immediately verify battlefield accounts from either side.

It is still unclear how significant the Ukrainian attempt to gain a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro is. Crossing the Dnipro leaves Ukrainian units exposed between river and marshland on one side and heavily fortified Russian lines on the other.

Russian strikes kill two and wound six in eastern Ukraine, say officials

07:42 , Tara Cobham

Two people were killed and six were wounded in overnight Russian missile attacks and shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday.

Missiles hit a hospital in the Donetsk town of Selydove and a coal mine, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on the Telegram messaging service.

“Two buildings of the hospital were damaged, six civilians were injured. There may be victims under the rubble, search operations continue,” Klymenko said.

One worker was killed in the attack on the coal mine, he said.

“Four buildings, 19 vehicles and a power line were damaged. 39 miners were trapped underground. As of now, all miners have been brought to the surface,” he said.

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

In Kharkiv, one person was killed in Russian shelling, the region’s governor, Oleh Synehubov, said.

Bodies of Ukrainian and Russian troops exchanged

07:00 , Alexander Butler

The bodies of Ukrainian and Russian troops have been exchanged.

The Coordination Headquarters on the Treatment of Prisoners of War said around 94 Ukrainian troops were returned to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine said forensic examinations will now take place to identify the bodies.

The bodies of Russian troops were also handed over, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Russia may begin full mobilisation after 2024 presidential election, says senior security official

06:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia may begin full mobilisation after the 2024 Russian presidential election on 17 March, the secretary of the national security and defence council of Ukraine, Oleksii Danilov, has suggested.

Danilov said in a speech to the International Security Forum in Halifax, Canada: “Russia has managed to adapt, and constantly injects funds into its defence sector. Russia proved to be more resilient to the west’s sanctions, as expected.

“Russia is increasingly putting its economy on a war footing. Total mobilisation may follow the 2024 presidential elections.”

Russia lodges protest against Finnish ambassador as country threatens more borders will close

04:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia’s foreign ministry has said it has lodged a formal protest with the Finnish ambassador in Moscow over the closure of four busy border crossings between Russia and Finland.

On Saturday, Finland closed crossings on the shared border in a bid to halt the flow of asylum seekers that it says was instigated by Moscow.

Only four crossing points remain open, which the Russian foreign ministry said has impacted tens of thousands of people in both countries.

Russian drones target Kyiv as UK Defense Ministry says little chance of front-line change

03:00 , Alexander Butler

Russian drones targeted Kyiv on Sunday as the British Defense Ministry said there were “few immediate prospects” for major change along the Ukrainian front line as the war enters its second winter.

Russia launched 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight, targeting the Ukrainian capital and the Cherkasy and Poltava regions, according to a military statement. Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems shot down 15 of the drones.

The overnight strike on Kyiv is the second attack on the Ukrainian capital in 48 hours, said the city’s Military Administration spokesperson, Serhii Popko.

Russian drones target Kyiv as UK Defense Ministry says little chance of front-line change

NATO committed to Bosnia’s territorial integrity condemns ‘malign’ Russian influence

01:00 , Alexander Butler

NATO supports Bosnia‘s territorial integrity and is concerned by “malign foreign interference,” including by Russia, in the volatile Balkans region that went through a devastating war in the 1990s, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.

Sarajevo is the first stop on Stoltenberg’s tour of Western Balkan countries that will also include Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia.

“The Allies strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “We are concerned by the secessionist and divisive rhetoric as well as malign foreign interference, including Russia.”

NATO committed to Bosnia’s territorial integrity condemns ‘malign’ Russian influence

At least 11,000 children in ‘re-education’ camps in Russia, UK ministry of defence says

00:01 , Alexander Butler

Russia is holding at least 11,000 Ukrainian children across 43 “re-education” camps, the UK ministry of defence said.

“At least 11,000 Ukrainian children are reportedly being detained at 43 re-education camps across Russia, thousands of miles from home. Their simple right to life and liberty is being impacted,” the ministry said on X.

Russia bars Moldovan nationals, summoning ambassador

Monday 20 November 2023 22:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia barred entry to a number of officials from Moldova on Monday and complained about moves by its pro-European government to block Russian media outlets ahead of local elections earlier this month.

The moves were the latest in a series of acerbic exchanges between the two sides and allegations by Moldova that Russia has been exerting pressure on the ex-Soviet state’s affairs and President Maia Sandu’s drive to join the European Union.

A Russian foreign ministry statement said Moldovan Ambassador Lilian Darie was summoned to be told of the decision.

“The Moldovan side was presented with a decisive protest in connection with the continuing politically motivated persecution of Russian media in Moldova, including the blocking of access to their Internet sites,” a ministry statement said.

US offer another $100m in assistance

Monday 20 November 2023 21:00 , Alexander Butler

The US has pledged a further $100m in defence assistance to Ukraine, which is set to include air defence interceptors and anti-tank weapons.

There have not been any further details, but it comes on the same day as US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv.

The US is with Ukraine ‘for the long haul’, defence secretary tells Zelensky

Monday 20 November 2023 20:13 , Alexander Butler

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the country remains behind Ukraine as it continues its war with Russia. It comes after announcing a further package of defensive aid worth $100m.

“The message that I bring you today is that the United States of America is with you. We will remain with you for the long haul,” Mr Austin said.

He added: “I think they are prepared for combat in the winter. They did a great job last year. This year we expect them to be, just based on what President Zelensky has said, them to be even more aggressive.”

Ukrainian sniper ‘breaks world record after killing Russian solider nearly 2.5 miles away’

Monday 20 November 2023 18:12 , Alexander Butler

A Ukrainian sniper claims to have broken the world record by killing a Russian soldier almost 2.5 miles away, with a custom rifle called ‘Lord of the Horizon’, Holly Evans reports.

The previous record was held by a Canadian special operations sniper at a distance of 2.2 miles in Iraq in 2017.

In a press statement, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said: “The SBU sniper set a world record for a successful shot.

“He hit a Russian soldier from an incredible distance.

“SBU snipers are changing the rules of world sniping, demonstrating the ability to work effectively at fantastic distances.”

Ukrainian sniper ‘breaks world record after killing solider nearly 2.5 miles away’

Full report: Russia puts Ukrainian winner of Eurovision Song Contest on wanted list

Monday 20 November 2023 17:14 , Andy Gregory

Russia has placed a Ukrainian singer who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on its wanted list, state news agencies reported Monday.

The independent news site Mediazona said singer Susana Jamaladinova was charged under a Russian law adopted last year which outlaws spreading so-called fake information about the war in Ukraine.

Russia puts Ukrainian winner of Eurovision Song Contest on wanted list

Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Lachlan Murdoch in Kyiv

Monday 20 November 2023 16:46 , Andy Gregory

Volodymyr Zelensky has met Fox Corp chief executive Lachlan Murdoch in the Ukrainian capital, in what Kyiv described as a “very important signal” of support at a time when global media attention has shifted from the war in Ukraine.

“The Head of State thanked Lachlan Murdoch for his visit and emphasised that it is a very important signal of support at the time when the world’s attention is blurred by other events,” the Ukrainian president’s office said.

Mr Zelensky was quoted by his office as saying it was vital to keep the world’s attention focused on the war in Ukraine, adding: “For us, for our warriors, this is not a movie. These are our lives. This is daily hard work. And it will not be over as quickly as we would like, but we have no right to give up and we will not.”

Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall, who was badly wounded covering the war in Ukraine last year, and Sun journalist Jerome Starkey were also invited to the meeting with Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son, who was named the sole chair of News Corp in September.

ICYMI: Zelensky invites Trump to Ukraine after claims he could stop war in 24 hours

Monday 20 November 2023 16:24 , Andy Gregory

Opinion | Ukrainian victory is all but certain – so long as its allies do not seek a ‘way out’

Monday 20 November 2023 16:03 , Andy Gregory

In this Independent Voices piece, James Nixey of Chatham House writes:

Calling the war a stalemate is an obvious example of self-defeat: if it is believed that Ukraine cannot win the war, then Ukraine will not be given weapons to win the war which, in turn, means … they will not win the war. It takes rare political courage to imagine Ukraine’s victory, although EU officials Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell have managed this.

Ukraine’s EU accession, likely and in progress, and Nato accession, less likely in times of war and very dependent on US backing, will be a hollow victory if its resources dry up. Russia has had a poor war – its Black Sea fleet has retreated from Crimea, meaning it will have problems defending the peninsula, and Ukraine’s counter-offensive at Avdiivka has been costly for Russia.

But Russia can absorb costs like no other. Its industry is war-mobilised and its soldiers are dispensable, replaceable commodities. Depopulation and brain drain are problems for another day and arguably affect Ukraine more. Nor should a bad plan be mistaken for a bad army that does not learn from its mistakes. Russia does. And it may have been forced to turn to North Korea to fill a “munitions gap”, but that too has worked.

Vladimir Putin’s ideology is delusional of course, but he remains deeply committed to seeing his war through to a successful conclusion: “all in” and long since recovered from the Prigozhin affair, he surely believes he can win.

But it also remains the case that a Ukrainian victory is possible – more than possible. In fact, it is all but certain; but only if Western countries do not “get tired”, do not look for a “way out”, and if Ukraine is given the tools to finish the job.

Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – the West must not turn away now

‘Double standards’ in Israel-Hamas conflict have ‘undermined fight’ for Ukraine, says Varadkar

Monday 20 November 2023 15:38 , Andy Gregory

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said there is “double standards” from the EU and some Western powers in relation to Israel and Palestine.

The Taoiseach said the stance of some Western countries in response to the Israel-Hamas war had “undermined the fight” to garner support for Ukraine as it battles against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Here is the full report:

Varadkar raises concerns about EU ‘double standards’ on Israel and Palestine

Kyiv hoping for Poland talks over lorry driver protests

Monday 20 November 2023 15:09 , Andy Gregory

Kyiv hopes to hold a new round of talks with Poland and the European Union this week to resolve an issue with Polish lorry drivers holding protests to block border crossings, a Ukrainian trade representative has said.

“This week we hope to have negotiations in a trilateral format,” Taras Kachka told broadcasters.

Yesterday, some 3,000 mostly Ukrainian lorries – including those carrying fuel and humanitarian aid – were caught on the Polish side of the border due to a more than 10-day blockade by Polish hauliers, Ukrainian officials said.

The hauliers are protesting against what they see as government inaction over a loss of business to foreign competitors since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US defence secretary meets with Zelensky in Kyiv

Monday 20 November 2023 14:32 , Andy Gregory

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has said he was “honoured” to meet Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during a surprise visit to Kyiv today – his second since April 2022.

Washington will “continue to support Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs and long-term defence requirements”, Mr Austin said.

Russia places Eurovision winner on its wanted list

Monday 20 November 2023 14:03 , Andy Gregory

Russia has placed the 2016 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest on its wanted list.

An Interior Ministry database lists Ukrainian singer Susana Jamaladinova – who uses the stage name Jamala, and is of Crimean Tatar descent – as being sought for violating a criminal law, Russian state news agencies reported.

She won the Eurovision contest with the song “1944,” whose title refers to the year the Soviet Union deported Crimean Tatars en masse. Russia protested the song being allowed in the competition, saying it violated rules against political speech. But the song made no specific criticism of Russia or the Soviet Union.

The independent news site Mediazona said Ms Jamaladinova was charged under a Russian law adopted last year to outlaw the spread of so-called fake information about the Ukraine war.

Watch: Lazarus Project star says series predicted Russia-Ukraine war

Monday 20 November 2023 13:35 , Andy Gregory

Top Ukrainian cyber defence officials sacked amid corruption probe

Monday 20 November 2023 13:22 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine has sacked two high-ranking cyber defence officials amid a probe into alleged embezzlement, a senior government official said.

Yurii Shchyhol, head of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP), and his deputy, Viktor Zhora, were dismissed by the government, cabinet chief Taras Melnychuk said on Monday.

The firings coincided with an announcement by anti-corruption prosecutors that they were investigating officials in cyber defence positions over their alleged roles in a six-person plot to embezzle 62 million Ukrainian hryvnia (£1.38m) in 2021.

Prosecutors did not identify either official by name, and the SSSCIP did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

Jailed Russian nationalist Girkin hopes to challenge Putin in presidential elections

Monday 20 November 2023 12:56 , Andy Gregory

Pro-war Russian nationalist Igor Girkin has announced that he wants to run for president – despite understanding the upcoming March election will be “sham” with the winner already clear.

Mr Girkin – who is in custody awaiting trial for inciting extremism – has repeatedly said Russia faces revolution and even civil war unless Vladimir Putin’s military top brass fight the war in Ukraine more effectively.

A former FSB officer who helped annex Crimea in 2014 and organise pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, Mr Girkin said before his arrest that he and his supporters were entering politics.

“I understand perfectly well that in the current situation in Russia, participating in the presidential campaign is like sitting down at a table to play with card sharps,” he said in a letter published on Telegram entitled: “I am going to run.”

Mr Girkin said that he did not think that he would be allowed to take part in the election, but hoped that his attempt to unite patriotic forces would disrupt the Kremlin’s plan for a “sham election” in which “the only winner is known in advance”.

Analysis | Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – now is not the moment for the West to turn away

Monday 20 November 2023 12:27 , Andy Gregory

In this Independent Voices piece, James Nixey – director of Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Programme – writes:

When Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, was fooled recently by two well-known Russian “comics” – surely paid-up Kremlin agents – into saying she was “tired” of the war in Ukraine and that everyone would soon be looking for a “way out”, too many of her counterparts in the West would have tacitly agreed (and perhaps sympathised: she is hardly the first to be pranked by these two).

But Ms Meloni deserves no sympathy. She thought she was talking to the head of the African Union Commission so this should have been a chance to exercise statecraft and reason with the supposed representative from the Global South and argue that Russia’s war in Ukraine is nothing if not colonialist itself – a desperate attempt to maintain its empire.

But Ms Meloni’s admission was worse than just not showing moral leadership. She was also playing into Russia’s hands by parroting its narrative: being tired and looking for a way out of the war is precisely what Vladimir Putin now wants from the Western world.

Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – the West must not turn away now

Nato concerned by secessionist rhetoric and Russian influence in Bosnia

Monday 20 November 2023 11:58 , Andy Gregory

Jens Stoltenberg has said Nato is concerned by secessionist rhetoric and Russian influence in Bosnia, after months of Serb leaders increasingly saying they want to split and join Serbia.

Bosnia emerged from civil war in 1995 with a federal structure uniting a Serb-dominated republic and a federation of Croats and Bosniak Muslims. But the leader of Serbian entity, Milorad Dodik, has increasingly said in recent months that he aims to secede and join neighbouring Serbia.

“We are concerned by secessionist and divisive rhetoric as well as … foreign interference including Russia,” the Nato chief told reporters in Sarajevo, during a tour of the western Balkans region.

“This undermines the stability and hampers reform,” Mr Stoltenberg said, adding that all political leaders must work to preserve unity, build national institutions and achieve reconciliation.

Nato had deployed about 60,000 troops in Bosnia after the war, which were replaced by an EU peacekeeping force in 2004. Last year, the EU almost doubled its size to 1,100 troops, amid fears that instability from the Ukraine war could spill over to the western Balkans.

Putin to address G20 summit this week, Kremlin says

Monday 20 November 2023 11:15 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin will set out Russia’s view of what it sees as the “deeply unstable world situation” when he addresses an upcoming virtual G20 summit, the Kremlin has said.

Russian state TV presenter Pavel Zarubin said on his Telegram channel on Sunday that it would be the “first event in a long time” including both the Russian president and Western leaders.

According to the state RIA news agency, the G20 virtual summit will be held on Wednesday.

Russia relying on penal recruits to stem increase in deserters on Donetsk frontline, Ukraine claims

Monday 20 November 2023 11:06 , Andy Gregory

Growing numbers of Russian soldiers are deserting the frontline in Donetsk, Ukraine’s military has claimed as it braces for a long-awaited “third wave” of attacks by Moscow’s forces in Avdiivka.

The Institute for Study of War think-tank cited Ukrainian Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun as saying that Russia may soon intensify artillery preparations for the new wave of assaults on the strategically key city.

Moscow’s forces have not actively used heavy military equipment Avdiivka in recent days, have decreased aviation use in the area, and are increasingly using infantry, he said, claiming that Russia’s significant losses mean only 10 to 15 percent of some detachments’ original personnel remain.

In remarks on Sunday, Mr Shtupun claimed there were growing numbers of Russian deserters and personnel who refuse to conduct offensive operations, leading Russian commanders to use physical force and barrier troops to push Russian forces to fight, with an increased reliance on mobilised reservists and penal recruits.

EU sanctions tend to have ‘boomerang effect’, Russia claims

Monday 20 November 2023 10:54 , Andy Gregory

The Kremlin has claimed that European Union sanctions tend to have a “boomerang effect”, as Moscow faces the prospect of an EU ban on imports of Russian diamonds.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that such a move had been anticipated for a long time, but was likely to backfire.

“As a rule, it turns out that a boomerang effect is partially triggered: the interests of the Europeans themselves suffer. So far, we have been able to find ways to minimise the negative consequences of sanctions,” he claimed.

EU diplomatic sources told Reuters last week that the proposal under discussion was to ban direct diamond imports from Russia from 1 January, and to implement a traceability mechanism by March which would prevent imports of Russian gems processed in third countries.

Exclusive: Andriy Shevchenko urges the world not to forget Ukraine

Monday 20 November 2023 10:29 , Andy Gregory

On the morning of 24 February 2022 – a date etched in every Ukrainian’s mind – Andriy Shevchenko was woken by a phone call from his mother. She told him through tears that Russia was invading. Shevchenko was in London, where he lives with his wife and four sons; his mother and wider family were in Ukraine, under attack.

Shevchenko has barely slept since. “It’s almost impossible,” he says. “It’s going to be almost two years since the full war started, and every day I wake up, check the phone – what’s the news? Are we going to be attacked in Kyiv? Are we going to be attacked in a different city? How many drones? How many rockets? Where have the rockets hit? And then, talking to my friends – who’s dead? It’s a normal day for us.”

Shevchenko is using his platform as one of Europe’s greatest footballers, a Ballon d’Or winner and a Chelsea cult hero to keep the spotlight on Ukraine at a time when the world’s attention has turned to the Middle East. In the West, the initial shock caused by Russia’s invasion has subsided, and a sense of normalisation has crept in. He is understandably worried that Ukraine’s cause might be forgotten.

“I hope not,” he says. “Because for us, it’s everything. For us, it’s exist or not exist.”

Our senior sports writer Lawrence Ostlere has the full exclusive interview here:

Andriy Shevchenko on Ukraine: ‘Every day I wake up, check the phone. Who’s dead?’

Kremlin ‘deeply regrets’ Finland’s border closures

Monday 20 November 2023 10:08 , Andy Gregory

The Kremlin has said it deeply regrets Finland’s decision to close crossings along the two countries’ vast border on Saturday.

Finland closed four crossings on Saturday in a bid to halt the flow of asylum-seekers, having accused Moscow of funnelling migrants to the frontier in retaliation for Helsinki’s ascension to Nato and increased Western military cooperation since the invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied Finland’s accusation on Monday and insisted that Russian border guards were carrying out their duties in line with the rules.

Asked about the closure of the four crossings, Mr Peskov told reporters: “This causes nothing but deep regret, because we had long-standing, very good relations with Finland, pragmatic, based on mutual respect.

“And of course, we regret that these relations were replaced by such an exclusively Russophobic position, which the leaders of this country began to espouse,” he said.

Moscow protest shows lengthy Russian deployments to frontline ‘unsustainable’, says UK

Monday 20 November 2023 09:44 , Andy Gregory

Protests in Moscow by the wives of Russian soldiers show that their lengthy deployments to the front line are increasingly viewed as unsustainable, Britain’s Ministry of Defence suggested.

Russian wives and mothers have been making daily online appeals protesting against the conditions of their loved ones’ service since the invasion of Ukraine last February.

“However, Russia’s draconian legislation has so far prevented troops’ relatives from coalescing into an influential lobbying force, as soldiers’ mothers did during the Afghan-Soviet War of the 1980s,” said the ministry”.

But on 7 November, they held a rare street protest in Moscow’s central Teatralnya Square, unfurling banners demanding the rotation of their partners away from the frontline.

Police broke up the protest within minutes, according to the ministry, which added: “However, the protestors’ immediate demand is notable.

“The apparently indefinitely extended combat deployments of personnel without rotation is increasingly seen as unsustainable by both the troops themselves and by their relatives.”

US defence secretary’s visit to Kyiv is his first since early months of war

Monday 20 November 2023 09:21 , Andy Gregory

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has made an unannounced visit to Kyiv today, as he pushes to keep money and weapons flowing to Ukraine.

Mr Austin travelled by train from Poland, and is scheduled to meet with senior Ukrainian officials.

It marks his second trip to Kyiv – with his first having taken place in April 2022, just two months after Russia’s invasion.

Two killed in Kherson after Russia shells parking lot, officials say

Monday 20 November 2023 08:55 , Andy Gregory

Two people have been killed this morning after Russian forces shelled a parking lot in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, according to officials.

Regional prosecutors said they had opened a war-crimes investigation into the artillery strike, which occurred at around 9am and injured one other person.

Kherson governor Oleksandr Prokudin said the two dead were drivers for “a private transport business”.

Images posted on Telegram showed firefighters dousing cars that had been blasted apart, one day after a separate strike on the city wounded five people, including a 3-year-old girl.

Russian forces have regularly shelled Kherson from across the Dnipro River since the city was liberated last November by Ukrainian troops – who are now seeking to push Moscow’s troops away from the river after establishing a foothold on the opposite bank.

Second drone in as many days shot down near Moscow as Russia and Ukraine exchange attacks on capitals

Monday 20 November 2023 08:29 , Andy Gregory

Russia and Ukraine sent drones targeting each other’s capital cities over the weekend in signs of renewed intensity for their aerial warfare, my colleague Arpan Rai reports.

Drones were shot down on both Saturday and Sunday in areas around Kyiv and Moscow. Air defence systems for both sides intercepted attacks and no casualties were reported.

Multiple drones that were heading for Moscow and Russia’s border areas on Sunday were downed by Russian air defence systems over the weekend, officials said.

Kyiv has promised to wage a major drone campaign against Russia this winter, as bad weather conditions make it difficult to conduct operations on the ground.

Russia under Ukraine’s drone attack for two nights in row as Moscow remains on target

Zelensky dismisses Ukraine’s military medical chief

Monday 20 November 2023 08:11 , Andy Gregory

Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed Major General Tetiana Ostashchenko as the commander of Ukraine’s medical forces, as he demanded rapid changes in the operations of the country’s military medical system.

“In today’s meeting with defence minister [Rustem] Umerov, priorities were set,” the Ukrainian president said in his nightly address on Sunday. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”

He added: “The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers.”

A wide range of improvements are needed, Mr Zelensky said – from better tourniquets, to improvements in digitalisation and communication.

Ms Ostashchenko was replaced by Major General Anatoliy Kazmirchuk, head of a military clinic in Kyiv.

US defence secretary arrives in Kyiv

Monday 20 November 2023 07:45 , Andy Gregory

US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin has arrived for a visit in Kyiv.

Two killed as grenade explodes in Kyiv apartment

Monday 20 November 2023 07:26 , Andy Gregory

A Ukrainian soldier and a woman died when a grenade exploded in an apartment in Kyiv, injuring a second man, police said.

Explosives technicians and investigators were working at the scene of Sunday’s explosion in the Dniprovskiy district, Kyiv police said in a statement.

“A citizen contacted the police with a report that an explosion rang out in a neighbouring apartment,” they added.

Earlier this month, an aide to Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhnyi, died when a grenade given to him as a birthday gift blew up.

An orphaned teenager who was taken to Russia early in the Ukraine war is back home with relatives

Monday 20 November 2023 07:00 , Holly Evans

An orphaned Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Russia last year during the war in his country returned home after being reunited with relatives in Belarus on his 18th birthday Sunday.

Bohdan Yermokhin was pictured embracing family members in Minsk in photographs shared on social media by Russia’s children’s rights ombudswoman, Maria Lvova-Belova.

Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, confirmed that Yermokhin had arrived back in Ukraine and shared a photo of him with a Ukrainian flag. Yermak thanked UNICEF and Qatari negotiators for facilitating Yermokhin’s return.

Read the full article here

An orphaned teenager who was taken to Russia early in the Ukraine war is back home with relatives

Putin could face new war crime case as evidence suggests starvation of Ukraine was pre-planned

Monday 20 November 2023 05:30 , Holly Evans

Russia was actively preparing to steal grain supplies and starve the Ukrainian population of food for months before Vladimir Putin ordered last year’s invasion, according to new evidence compiled by human rights experts.

When Russian tanks did roll across the border on 24 February 2022 they deliberately targeted grain-rich areas and food production infrastructure first, the new report by international human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance found.

GRC found that Russia’s defence contractor began purchasing trucks to transport grain, as well as three new 170-metre bulk carrier cargo ships, as early as December 2021, evidence of advance planning for the pillage of Ukrainian food resources “on an unprecedented scale”.

Read the full article here

Putin could face new war crime case over ‘planned’ starvation of Ukraine

Wife of twice-poisoned Briton held in Kremlin prison fears ‘time is running out’

Monday 20 November 2023 04:30 , Holly Evans

The wife of a British-Russian national held in a Krelimn prison says she fears time is running out, and has called for the UK to take more urgent action to free him.

Vladimir Kara-Murza survived two near-fatal poisonings, in 2015 and 2017, which resulted in organ failure and polyneuropathy, a condition that causes nerve damage.

The Vladimir Putin critic was jailed for 25 years in April this year on charges of treason and spreading “false information” about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Read the full article here

Wife of twice-poisoned Briton held in Kremlin prison fears ‘time is running out’

Zelensky calls for rapid operation changes and sacks commander

Monday 20 November 2023 03:30 , Holly Evans

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday demanded rapid changes in the operations of Ukraine’s military and announced the dismissal of the commander of the military’s medical forces.

Zelensky’s move was announced as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, and coincided with debate over the conduct of the 20-month-old war against Russia, with questions over how quickly a counteroffensive in the east and south is proceeding.

“In today’s meeting with Defence Minister Umerov, priorities were set,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”

Zelensky said he had replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces.

“The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers,” he said.

This, he said, included a range of issues — better tourniquets, digitalisation and better communication.

Umerov acknowledged the change on the Telegram messaging app and set as top priorities digitalisation, “tactical medicine” and rotation of servicemen.

Plight of one Ukraine village illustrates toll of Russia’s invasion

Monday 20 November 2023 02:30 , Holly Evans

Kamianka lies in a charming valley of bright flowers and lush trees. It used to be portrayed as a model village for a contented life in rural idyll. It was also a place of archaeological and geological lure, with its rare bronze age and Scythian sites and Jurassic limestone cliffs attracting visitors from afar.

The settlement, set in a sleepy hollow, was established in the 18th century by a count from the Tsar of Russia’s court who had returned from Britain with new methods of farming and an English bride. Keen to put his new knowledge into practice, he allocated land, built a mill, constructed roads and funded a church and a school.

But Kamianka, in eastern Ukraine, also has a dark history of violence.

Read the full article from Kim Sengupta here

Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – now is not the moment for the West to turn away

Monday 20 November 2023 01:30 , Holly Evans

hen Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, was fooled recently by two well-known Russian “comics” – surely paid-up Kremlin agents – into saying she was “tired” of the war in Ukraine and that everyone would soon be looking for a “way out”, too many of her counterparts in the West would have tacitly agreed (and perhaps sympathised: she is hardly the first to be pranked by these two).

But Ms Meloni deserves no sympathy. She thought she was talking to the head of the African Union Commission so this should have been a chance to exercise statecraft and reason with the supposed representative from the Global South and argue that Russia’s war in Ukraine is nothing if not colonialist itself – a desperate attempt to maintain its empire.

Russia, with an abundance of chutzpah and an absence of shame, claims that it is the West that is being colonialist in forcing its designs on Kyiv (even supposedly “Nazi-ruled Kyiv”). You have to apply to join Nato and the EU, of course, but facts like these are irrelevant.

Read the full article from James Nixey here

Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – the West must not turn away now

Moscow mayor says air defence units intercept drone targeting city

Monday 20 November 2023 00:30 , Holly Evans

Air defence units in Moscow intercepted a drone targeting the city on Sunday, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

Sobyanin, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said units in the Elektrostal district in the capital’s east had intercepted the drone.

According to preliminary information, falling debris resulting from the operation had caused no casualties or damage, Sobyanin said.

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