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Russia-Ukraine war - live: Putin launches overnight barrage of drones as bad weather slows ground attacks

Ukraine destroyed 10 out of 12 drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks alongside a cruise missile, Ukraine‘s air force said today. The Iranian-made Shahed drones were headed towards Ukraine‘s northwest, the air force said. Most were downed in the Mykolaiv region in Ukraine‘s south.

The cruise missile was not destroyed but did not reach its target, the air force said without giving further detail. It did not say what happened to the two drones that were not destroyed.

It comes as the Institute for the Study of War said bad weather conditions have slowed the pace of combat “across the entire frontline but have not completely halted them”.

Russian milbloggers claimed that strong winds near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast prevented Russian forces from using drones and artillery over the past two days.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin ordered a significant boost in the country’s military, increasing the troop numbers by nearly 170,000 to reach a total of 1.32 million as the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion enters its 22nd month.

Key Points

  • Russia hits Ukraine with 12 drones and a cruise missile

  • Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

  • Russian president ‘really needs elections’- expert

  • Moscow repelled on six fronts on battlefield

  • US issues fresh sanctions over shipment of Russian oil

Execution of surrendering soldiers a 'war crime', Ukraine says

11:00 , Alexander Butler

Vladimir Putin’s troops have been accused of executing Ukrainian soldiers who had surrendered near Avdiivka amid heavy fighting.

In a video posted to Telegram, footage appeared to show two soldiers coming out of a shelter, one with his hands above his head, before lying on the ground in front of soldiers. Gunfire and smoke appears, before the video cuts off.

Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said the footage was evidence of war crimes and slammed Russia as showing its “terrorist face”. The video has not been independently verified.

“Today, a video of the execution by Russian servicemen of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered as prisoners appeared on the internet,” Mr Lubinets said.

The Strategic Committee of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said it had confirmed the authenticity of the footage showing Russian troops gunning down two Ukrainian soldiers upon surrender.

“The published footage depicts the execution of two prisoners of war from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. According to verified information, the Russian occupiers have once again treacherously fired upon unarmed soldiers,” the Ukrainian army said.

Hundreds of settlements without power

16:00 , Alexander Butler

Over 500 settlements in a dozen Ukrainian regions experienced power outages due to bad weather, and over 400 more lost power due to Russian attacks and equipment disturbances, the Ukrainian energy ministry said.

In Lviv Oblast, 41,000 households in 388 settlements were left without power due to weather. Up to 422 settlements have been without power due to hostilities and technological disturbances, the ministry said.

Ease up of offensive on Avdiivka shows Russian's "running out of steam"

15:00 , Alexander Butler

Ukraine has claimed the ease up of Russia’s offensive on the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka shows its military is “running out of steam”.

“Over the past 24 hours, the number of ground attacks has decreased,” Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the city’s military administration, said.

“There are fewer and fewer Russian people willing to go on assaults voluntarily, and there are more and more refuseniks,” Mr Barabash said.

He explained that difficult “weather conditions”, “large losses in both Russian and manpower” meant the Russian army was “running out of steam”.

Ukraine to open crossing for lorries on Monday to unblock Polish border

14:00 , Alexander Butler

Ukraine and Poland will open an additional border crossing for empty trucks on Monday in order to open up a much-needed route for Kyiv, with some crossings blocked by weeks of protests by Polish drivers, Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday.

Those protests, over what Polish truckers see as unfair competition from their Ukrainian peers, started on 6 November, with four border crossings now under blockade.

Polish hauliers’ main demand is to stop Ukrainian truckers having permit-free access to the EU, something that Kyiv and Brussels say is impossible.

“The opening of Uhryniv is the first point on the list of measures implemented to unblock the border, reduce queues and increase the capacity of the Ukrainian-Polish border,” the border service said.

Ukraine said last week it had agreed some measures with Poland that could ease the pressure at the blockaded border crossings, but that they had not discussed the main demands of the protests.

Elderly man killed in Russian strikes, Kyiv claims

13:30 , Alexander Butler

An elderly man was killed during Russian shelling of Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson on Sunday, regional officials said.

“The occupants attacked the Sadove village. One of the hits was to a private garage, where a 78-year-old man was at the time. He died on the spot from the explosive injury,” the Kherson military administration said on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian troops had abandoned Kherson and the western bank of the Dnipro river late last year, but now regularly shell those areas from positions on the eastern bank.

Soviet war memorials ‘destroyed’ in Eastern Europe

13:00 , Alexander Butler

Soviet war memorials are being destroyed in some Eastern European countries, Russia has claimed.

“Regrettably, memorials dedicated to Soviet liberator soldiers are presently being destroyed in some Eastern European countries as part of a campaign to falsify history,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry brings these outrageous facts to public attention and actively works to preserve and restore these memorials. The memory of those who sacrificed their lives for our future remains immortal.”

It comes as Russia celebrates the Day of the Unknown Soldier, a day established to remember fallen soldiers in Russia and abroad.

Ukrainian parliament’s chairman accuses Russia of war crimes

12:19 , Alexander Butler

The chairman of the Ukrainian parliament has shared a still of a video which is said to show Russian soldiers executing two prisoners of war.

Ruslan Stefanchuk said: “This is another crime committed by russian terrorists. Violation of the rules of war. The killing of unarmed soldiers.

“Russia has once again proved that it is a terrorist country for which there are no laws and norms of international law.”

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

12:00 , Alexander Butler

Volodymyr Zelensky said on that the war with Russia was in a new stage, with winter expected to complicate fighting after a summer counteroffensive that failed to produce desired results.

Despite setbacks, however, the president of Ukraine said his nation wouldn’t give up.

“We have a new phase of war, and that is a fact,” Zelensky said, speaking in Kharkiv after a morale-boosting tour of the region.

“Winter as a whole is a new phase of war. Am I satisfied? Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied.”

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Destroying ground air defence systems most important ‘contest’ of the war

10:30 , Alexander Butler

Destroying both Ukrainian and Russian ground air defence systems remains the most important “contest” between the two adversaries, the UK ministry of defence said.

“The efforts of both Russia and Ukraine to overcome their adversary’s ground-based air defence systems continue to be one of the most important contests of the war,” it said.

The MoD explained the Russian SA-15 surface-to-air missile plays a critical and “largely effective role” in the war, which is used to combat Ukrainian unmanned aerial attacks.

Russia eases attacks on Avdiivka

10:00 , Alexander Butler

The Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television that Russian attacks on Avdiivka had halved over the past 24 hours, largely as a result of heavy losses.

“The coking plant is controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces,” Shtupun said. “Enemy forces are trying to make their way inside, but are suffering losses in infantry and equipment.”

The Russian military had set its sights on seizing Avdiivka and its vast coking plant since mid-October in attacks described as “meat grinder” assaults.

Russia launches 12 drones and a cruise missile at Ukraine

09:30 , Alexander Butler

Russia launched 12 drones and a cruise missile at Ukraine overnight, with Ukraine’s air defence systems destroying 10 drones before they reached their targets, Ukraine’s air force said on Sunday.

The cruise missile was not destroyed but did not reach its target, the air force said without giving further detail. It did not say what happened to the two drones that there were not destroyed.

The Iranian-made Shahed drones were headed towards Ukraine’s north-west, the air force said. Most were downed in the Mykolaiv region in Ukraine’s south.

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

09:00 , Shweta Sharma

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a significant boost in the country’s military, increasing the troop numbers by nearly 170,000 to reach a total of 1.32 million as the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion enters its 22nd month.

Mr Putin signed the decree on Friday in response to “the aggressive activities of the Nato bloc” and its special military operation in Ukraine, as stated by the Kremlin.

“In accordance with the decree of Russian president signed on November 29, 2023, the maximum size of the armed forces of the Russian Federation has been increased by 170,000 military personnel to 1,320,000 military personnel,” the defence ministry said.

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Ex-president stopped from leaving Ukraine over Russian plot, security service says.

08:30 , Shweta Sharma

Ukraine‘s security service said it had prevented former president Petro Poroshenko from leaving the country on grounds that Russia planned to exploit a planned meeting with Hungary’s prime minister to hurt Ukrainian interests.

Mr Poroshenko’s political party, European Solidarity, said the former president had scheduled only meetings in Poland and the US and warned the SBU security service against becoming involved in politics.

Mr Poroshenko was turned away at a border post on Friday.

The SBU said yesterday he had planned to meet Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who maintains ties with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin and opposes opening talks on European Union membership with Ukraine.

An SBU statement said Russia was preparing a series of “provocations” to discredit Ukraine among its foreign allies as the war against Russia stretches beyond 21 months.

Of the possible meeting with Mr Orban, the SBU said: “Russia planned to use this meeting (like other ‘working meetings with ... representative of countries voicing pro-Russian narratives) in psychological operations against Ukraine.”

The SBU said Orban “systematically holds an anti-Ukrainian position”, was a “friend of Putin” and sought the removal of sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Orban, who is open about his friendly ties with Putin, opposes the start of EU membership talks with Ukraine, to be considered at the bloc’s forthcoming summit. He called this week for the creation instead of a “strategic partnership” with Kyiv.

Russia eases attack in Avdiivka after ‘failure to capture’ southwest town

08:00 , Shweta Sharma

Russian forces eased their attacks on the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, as unofficial reports from the region indicated that they were unsuccessful in capturing the devastated town of Maryinka to the southwest.

Russian reports on Friday suggested Moscow’s troops had taken control of Maryinka, 40 km (25 miles) to the southwest, engulfed in fighting for well over a year. But unofficial Ukrainian reports yesterday said its forces were holding some districts.

Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television that Russian attacks on Avdiivka had halved over the past 24 hours, largely as a result of heavy losses.

“The coking plant is controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces,” Mr Shtupun said. “Enemy forces are trying to make their way inside, but are suffering losses in infantry and equipment.”

Fighting was still intense, he said, in an adjacent area outside the town centre known as the “industrial zone”.

Russia’s popular war blog Rybar said the zone had fallen under Russian control.

Vitaliy Barabash, head of the town’s military administration, told Channel 24 television that Avdiivka was “starting to look like Maryinka, a settlement that basically no longer exists. It has been razed to its foundations”.

There were no official Ukrainian reports on Maryinka, but military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said reports of its capture by Russian troops were untrue.

“We acknowledge that there was an advance there of the Russian military,” Zhdanov said in an online presentation.

“But the southwestern and northwestern parts of the town are under the control of Ukrainian forces.”

Russia and Ukraine to conduct mutual visits to prisoners of war

07:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s Commissioner for Human Rights Tatiana Moskalkova and Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets plan to conduct several mutual visits to prisoners of war, Russia‘s RIA news agency reported on Sunday.

“Russian military personnel will be visited on the Ukrainian side. Ukrainian military personnel will be visited on the Russian side. There will be several of these visits, we have a schedule,” RIA cited Moskalkova as saying.

‘We will not let Hamas or Putin win,’ says US defence secretary

07:30 , Shweta Sharma

US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, vowed to not let Hammas or Russia win in their respective wars as he delivered a lengthy address to defend the US’ support of Ukraine and Israel.

He criticised those endorsing “an American retreat from responsibility” at the Reagan National Defense Forum and stressed the necessity for consistent US leadership to contribute to a free and safe world.

“In both Israel and Ukraine, democracies are fighting ruthless foes who are out to annihilate them,” Mr Austin said.

“And we will not let Hamas or Putin win. And we will not let our enemies divide or weaken us. So as we surge support into Israel, we remain focused on Ukraine.”

Watch - Schoolboy’s hilarious reaction to Zelensky walking into classroom

07:00 , Lydia Patrick

Russia hits Ukraine with 12 drones and a cruise missile

06:30 , Shweta Sharma

Russia launched 12 drones and a cruise missile towards Ukraine’s northwest in overnight attacks, Ukraine‘s air force said today.

But Ukraine‘s air defence systems successfully destroyed 10 drones before they reached their targets, it added.

The cruise missile was not destroyed but did not reach its target, the air force said without giving further detail. It did not say what happened to the two drones that were not destroyed.

The Iranian-made Shahed drones were headed towards Ukraine‘s northwest, the air force said. Most were downed in the Mykolaiv region in Ukraine‘s south.

There were no immediate reports of damage from falling debris or the drones that were not destroyed.

Police raid Moscow gay bars after a Supreme Court ruling labeled LGBTQ+ movement 'extremist'

06:00 , Lydia Patrick

Russian security forces raided gay clubs and bars across Moscow Friday night, less than 48 hours after the country’s top court banned what it called the “global LGBTQ+ movement” as an extremist organization.

Police searched venues across the Russian capital, including a nightclub, a male sauna, and a bar that hosted LGBTQ+ parties, under the pretext of a drug raid, local media reported.

Eyewitnesses told journalists that clubgoers’ documents were checked and photographed by the security services. They also said that managers had been able to warn patrons before police arrived.

Police raid Moscow gay bars after a Supreme Court ruling labeled LGBTQ+ movement 'extremist'

Global Red Cross suspends Belarus chapter after its chief boasted of bringing in Ukrainian children

05:00 , Lydia Patrick

The International Red Cross on Friday suspended the Belarusian chapter after its chief stirred international outrage for boasting that it was actively ferrying Ukrainian children from Russian-controlled areas to Belarus.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies halted the membership of the Belarus branch after it refused to oust its leader Dzmitry Shautsou. He is accused of having breached the Red Cross’ much-vaunted and much-defended standards of neutrality and integrity. The board of IFRC had given the Belarus Red Cross until Nov. 30 to dismiss him, and said it would suspend the branch if it didn’t.

“The suspension means that the Belarus Red Cross loses its rights as a member of the IFRC,” the Geneva-based international organization said in a statement Friday. “Any new funding to the Belarus Red Cross will also be suspended.”

Global Red Cross suspends Belarus chapter after its chief boasted of bringing in Ukrainian children

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

04:00 , Lydia Patrick

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a significant boost in the country’s military, increasing the troop numbers by nearly 170,000 to reach a total of 1.32 million as the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion enters its 22nd month.

Mr Putin signed the decree on Friday in response to “the aggressive activities of the Nato bloc” and its special military operation in Ukraine, as stated by the Kremlin.

“In accordance with the decree of Russian president signed on November 29, 2023, the maximum size of the armed forces of the Russian Federation has been increased by 170,000 military personnel to 1,320,000 military personnel,” the defence ministry said.

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Ukraine says it is repelling Russian attacks across six fronts as Zelensky orders more fortifications

03:00 , Lydia Patrick

Missile attacks and ground clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces surged on Thursday, according to the Ukrainian military, as Russian troops launched offensives but failed to move forward on as many as six fronts.

A total of 73 combat skirmishes took place across the war’s frontline in the past 24 hours, an update from Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces on Thursday read, a day after Russia launched more than 100 attacks to recapture its lost positions in eastern Ukraine’s Robotyne.

These included 43 airstrikes and 34 attacks from multiple-launch rocket systems. Russian forces also used seven Iranian Shahed drones to target Ukrainian personnel, weapons and military equipment.

Ukraine repelling Russian attacks across six fronts as Zelensky seeks fortifications

Watch - Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

01:30 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Russians ease attacks in eastern Ukraine, shattered town may still be held by Kyiv

00:30 , Lydia Patrick

Russian forces eased attacks on the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka on Saturday and unofficial reports from the region suggested they had failed to capture the devastated town of Maryinka to the southwest.

Russia’s military has focused on eastern Ukraine since abandoning an advance on Kyiv in the first days after the February 2022 invasion. Since mid-October, the military has set its sights on seizing Avdiivka and its vast coking plant.

Russian reports on Friday suggested Moscow’s troops had taken control of Maryinka, 40 km (25 miles) to the southwest, engulfed in fighting for well over a year. But unofficial Ukrainian reports on Saturday said its forces were holding some districts.

Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television that Russian attacks on Avdiivka had halved over the past 24 hours, largely as a result of heavy losses.

“The coking plant is controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces,” Shtupun said. “Enemy forces are trying to make their way inside, but are suffering losses in infantry and equipment.”

Fighting was still intense, he said, in an adjacent area outside the town centre known as the “industrial zone.” Russia’s popular war blog Rybar said the zone had fallen under Russian control.

Reuters could not verify accounts from either side.

Schoolboy’s hilarious reaction to Zelensky walking into classroom

Saturday 2 December 2023 23:30 , Lydia Patrick

Schoolboy’s hilarious reaction to Zelensky walking into classroom

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Saturday 2 December 2023 22:30 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Saturday 2 December 2023 21:30 , Lydia Patrick

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a significant boost in the country’s military, increasing the troop numbers by nearly 170,000 to reach a total of 1.32 million as the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion enters its 22nd month.

Mr Putin signed the decree on Friday in response to “the aggressive activities of the Nato bloc” and its special military operation in Ukraine, as stated by the Kremlin.

“In accordance with the decree of Russian president signed on November 29, 2023, the maximum size of the armed forces of the Russian Federation has been increased by 170,000 military personnel to 1,320,000 military personnel,” the defence ministry said.

It has expanded the Russian forces to approximately 2.2 million, including 1.32 million troops.

The decree came into effect immediately.

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Ex-president barred from leaving Ukraine amid alleged plan to meet Hungarian PM

Saturday 2 December 2023 20:30 , Lydia Patrick

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko was denied permission to leave Ukraine for a planned meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Ukraine‘s security service has said.

Mr Poroshenko announced on Friday that he had been turned away at the border despite previously receiving permission from parliament to leave the country.

Under martial law, Ukrainian men between 18 and 60 years of age are not allowed to leave the country without special approval.

The 58-year-old, who lost his re-election bid in 2019 to current Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, said he had planned to meet US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson and visit the Polish parliament during his trip.

But security officials said that Mr Poroshenko had also agreed to meet Mr Orban, who has previously praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and refused to support Kyiv’s bid for EU accession.

In a statement on social media, they said such talks would make Mr Poroshenko a “tool in the hands of the Russian special services”.

Mr Poroshenko, who called his experience at the border an “attack on unity”, is yet to comment on the allegation that he planned to meet Mr Orban.

Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Police raid Moscow gay bars after a Supreme Court ruling labeled LGBTQ+ movement 'extremist'

Saturday 2 December 2023 19:30 , Lydia Patrick

Russian security forces raided gay clubs and bars across Moscow Friday night, less than 48 hours after the country’s top court banned what it called the “global LGBTQ+ movement” as an extremist organization.

Police searched venues across the Russian capital, including a nightclub, a male sauna, and a bar that hosted LGBTQ+ parties, under the pretext of a drug raid, local media reported.

Eyewitnesses told journalists that clubgoers’ documents were checked and photographed by the security services. They also said that managers had been able to warn patrons before police arrived.

The raids follow a decision by Russia’s Supreme Court to label the country’s LGBTQ+ “movement” as an extremist organization.

Police raid Moscow gay bars after a Supreme Court ruling labeled LGBTQ+ movement 'extremist'

Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant suffered power outage-energy ministry

Saturday 2 December 2023 18:30 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine‘s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant lost its power supply after the last remaining line to it from Ukrainian-controlled territory was disrupted, but it has since been repaired, the energy ministry said.

The plant was occupied by Russia in March 2022 and is no longer generating power, but needs a supply of electricity to cool one of its four reactors which is in a state of ‘hot conservation’ - meaning it has not fully been shut down.

According to a statement published by Ukraine‘s energy ministry on Telegram, one power line to the plant was disrupted late on Friday, while the last, 750 kW, line was broken at 2:31 a.m. (0031 GMT) on Saturday.

“This is the eighth blackout which occurred at the (Zaporizhzhia plant) and could have led to nuclear catastrophe,” the statement said.

The ministry said that after losing grid connection the plant turned on 20 backup generators to supply its own electricity needs.

It said that at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) Ukrainian specialists repaired the 750 kW line which was now bringing power to the plant once more.

Russia warns those who try to “divide” country

Saturday 2 December 2023 17:30 , Alexander Butler

“Russian president Vladimir Putin has warned those who try to “divide” Russia by sowing “ethnic” or “religious discord”.

“Any attempt to sow ethnic or religious discord, to split Russian society is betrayal, a crime against all of Russia. We will never allow anyone to divide our country,” the UK Russian embassy reported Putin as saying.

Russian forces make advances in Avdiivka

Saturday 2 December 2023 16:26 , Alexander Butler

Russian forces have made advances in the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, according to a US think tank.

“Russian forces continued offensive operations near Avdiivka on 1 December and made confirmed advances. Geolocated footage published on December 1 indicates that Russian forces advanced east and SE of Stepove,” The Institute for the Study of War said.

Ukraine ‘blows up petrol station used by Russian army'

Saturday 2 December 2023 16:07 , Alexander Butler

Ukrainian troops blew up a petrol station used by Russian occupation forces to refuel military equipment in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia, according to the country’s military intelligence agency.

The explosion damaged military equipment and killed several Russian military personnel, it said. The attack was reportedly carried out at around midday.

Russian military forces in Melitopol are the frequent target of attacks by Ukrainian resistance groups.

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

Saturday 2 December 2023 15:00 , Alexander Butler

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”.

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

Officials walk out as Russia’s Sergei Lavrov speaks at European security meeting

Saturday 2 December 2023 14:30 , Alexander Butler

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov came face-to-face with Western critics while attending international security talks on Thursday, amid European protests that Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat was invited to the summit while he wages war against Ukraine.

Some European officials present in North Macedonia walked out as the Russian minister addressed a session for foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE), videos of the event showed.

A number of foreign ministers refused to attend the event over Russia’s involvement, including those of Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Some states, Ukraine among them, sent no representatives whatsoever. US secretary of state Antony Blinken made only a brief stop in North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, late on Wednesday, and did not attend Thursday’s talks.

Officials walk out as Russia’s Sergei Lavrov speaks at security meeting

Police raid Moscow gay bars after a Supreme Court ruling labeled LGBTQ+ movement 'extremist'

Saturday 2 December 2023 14:00 , Alexander Butler

Russian security forces raided gay clubs and bars across Moscow Friday night, less than 48 hours after the country’s top court banned what it called the “global LGBTQ+ movement” as an extremist organization.

Police searched venues across the Russian capital, including a nightclub, a male sauna, and a bar that hosted LGBTQ+ parties, under the pretext of a drug raid, local media reported.

Eyewitnesses told journalists that clubgoers’ documents were checked and photographed by the security services. They also said that managers had been able to warn patrons before police arrived.

Police raid Moscow gay bars after a Supreme Court ruling labeled LGBTQ+ movement 'extremist'

Zaporizhizhia power plant loses power

Saturday 2 December 2023 13:25 , Alexander Butler

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant lost its power supply after the last remaining line to it from Ukrainian-controlled territory was disrupted.

In its statement, the Ukrainian energy ministry stated that it was the eighth blackout at the nuclear power plant, which was captured by Russia in early March 2022. The ministry warned that this latest incident could have led to “nuclear catastrophe”.

Latvia accuses Russia of committing war crimes

Saturday 2 December 2023 12:34 , Alexander Butler

Russia has violated human rights and committed war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine, Latvia’s representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe claimed.

Speaking at the organisation’s conference in North Macedonia, Katrina Kaktina said Russia was waging an “unprovoked” war and was deliberatley killing civilians.

“It is Russia that is waging an unprovoked and unlawful war against Ukraine, and it is Russia that is obstructing the OSCE agenda,” she said.

“Russia is continuing violations of human rights: deliberate killings of civilians, including children, forced deportations, tactics of torture and sexual violence. Those are war crimes being committed by Russia in Ukraine.”

Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny handed new charges

Saturday 2 December 2023 11:58 , Alexander Butler

Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed new charges by Russian prosecutors in what he described as “sad, funny and absurd”.The 47-year-old is already serving more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of crimes including extremism — charges that his supporters characterize as politically motivated.

In comments passed to his associates, Navalny said he had been charged under article 214 of Russia’s penal code, which covers crimes of vandalism.

“I don’t even know whether to describe my latest news as sad, funny or absurd,” he wrote in comments on social media Friday via his team. “I have no idea what Article 214 is, and there’s nowhere to look. You’ll know before I do.”

Navalny is one of President Vladimir Putin’s most ardent opponents, best known for campaigning against official corruption and organizing major anti-Kremlin protests.

The former lawyer was arrested in 2021, after he returned to Moscow from Germany where he had recuperated from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

He has since been handed three prison terms and has faced months in solitary confinement after being accused of various minor infractions.

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Zelensky acknowledges need for increased war mobilisation

Saturday 2 December 2023 11:34 , Alexander Butler

President Volodymyr Zelensky said changes to mobilisation are necessary as he ordered a strategic turn focused on defense following a lackluster counteroffensive in Ukraine’s southern regions.

“Everything necessary for our state, our brigades. These specific results must be calculated precisely. This includes issues of mobilization,” Zelensky said.

Official EU data revealed 650,000 Ukrainian men of fighting age had fled Ukraine and received residency in Europe since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Under martial law, male citizens between the ages of 18–60 are generally prohibited from leaving the country. Exemptions exist for medical, education, and business reasons.

Wives of Russian soldiers ‘paid not to protest'

Saturday 2 December 2023 10:50 , Alexander Butler

The wives of Russian soldiers are being paid not to protest against the government following small-scale demonstrations in Moscow, the UK ministry of defence said.

“The Russian authorities are likely attempting to quash public dissent by wives of deployed Russian soldiers, including by attempting to pay them off and discrediting them online,” the MoD said.

“In recent weeks, the authorities have likely offered increased cash payments to families in return for them refraining from protest,” it added.

Putin ‘really needs elections’

Saturday 2 December 2023 09:18 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, said Vladimir Putin “really needs elections, at least in theory” in reference to the presidential election in spring next year.

The Russian journalist said that by voting for Putin in 2024, “Russians will legitimise the war”.

He said: “In addition to refreshing his legitimacy, they serve as a way to show that the opposition—through the predictable landslide outcome—remains a tiny minority and cannot go against the overwhelming will of the Russian people.

RUSIA-EJÉRCITO (AP)
RUSIA-EJÉRCITO (AP)

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Saturday 2 December 2023 09:01 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a significant boost in the country’s military, increasing the troop numbers by nearly 170,000 to reach a total of 1.32 million as the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion enters its 22nd month.

Mr Putin signed the decree on Friday in response to “the aggressive activities of the Nato bloc” and its special military operation in Ukraine, as stated by the Kremlin.

“In accordance with the decree of Russian president signed on November 29, 2023, the maximum size of the armed forces of the Russian Federation has been increased by 170,000 military personnel to 1,320,000 military personnel,” the defence ministry said.

Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Control over devastated eastern Ukrainian town uncertain

Saturday 2 December 2023 08:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Control over Maryinka, a town in eastern Ukraine all but destroyed by more than a year of fighting, remained uncertain on Friday, with unofficial reports suggesting Russian forces had registered some gains.

Most accounts of Maryinka, southwest of the Russian-held regional centre of Donetsk, describe it as a ghost town amid daily reports of Ukrainian forces defending different districts. Once a city of 10,000, there are no civilians left.

Ukraine‘s General Staff, in its evening report, said Russian forces had been unsuccessful in attempts to advance on villages near Maryinka, but said nothing of troop movements in the town.

Russia‘s Defence Ministry made no mention of the town in its dispatches.

Unofficial Russian blogger Rybar referred to a photo circulating on social media showing Russian forces hoisting the national flag in the southwest of the town. Ukrainian forces, it said, remained in control of other districts.

“However, if information about the movement of Russian troops to the south is accurate, the enemy’s retreat is a question that is fast approaching,” it said.

Ukrainian social media accounts noted Russian advances, but quoted soldiers as rejecting the notion that Moscow’s troops controlled the entire town.

“The Russians have been taking Maryinka since March 2022,” read one post on the blog DeepState. “Maryinka has been in ruins for more than a year.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Saturday 2 December 2023 08:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Ukrainian official predicts Kyiv airport soon to reopen

Saturday 2 December 2023 07:38 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine has become progressively stronger over the past year and will soon be able to reopen Kyiv’s international airport, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff said on Friday.

Andriy Yermak made the pledge while addressing diplomats at Boryspil International Airport outside the capital.

“This return to the elements of peace is possible because Ukraine has grown stronger,” Yermak told the diplomats in remarks posted on Zelensky’s website.

“We are now capable of providing security for this site. Thanks to our defence forces and our friends, your countries. I am certain that the symbolic boarding cards that you were given when you came in today will soon turn into real ones.”

Yermak’s deputy, Andriy Sybiga, told the gathering that the airport was the first major site to be closed in Ukraine as Russian troops poured over the border on Feb. 24, 2022 and would be the first to be reopened once conditions permitted.

Yermak had invited the diplomats to discuss elements of Zelenskiy’s 10-point peace plan, which calls for a withdrawal of Russian troops, recognition of Ukraine‘s 1991 borders and the establishment of a tribunal to examine war crimes.

US issues fresh sanctions over shipment of Russian oil above price cap

Saturday 2 December 2023 06:45 , Tom Watling

The United States on Friday imposed additional sanctions related to the price cap on Russian oil, targeting three entities and three oil tankers as Washington seeks to close loopholes in the mechanism designed to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department in a statement accused those targeted on Friday of using price cap coalition services while carrying Russian crude oil above the agreed price cap.

It marks Washington’s latest sanctions action cracking down on the shipment of oil above the Russian price cap as the United States seeks to enforce the punitive measures it has imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine, which has killed or wounded tens of thousands and reduced cities to rubble.

“Enforcement of the price cap on Russian oil is a top priority for the United States and our Coalition partners,” Treasury deputy secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the statement.

“By targeting these companies and their ships, we are upholding the dual goals of the price cap by restricting Russia’s profits from oil while promoting stable global energy markets.”

The Treasury Department on Friday also issued a general license authorizing limited safety and environmental transactions involving those targeted, including transactions necessary for the safe docking and anchoring of the blocked vessels, until 29 February.

Here are some of the latest photos from Ukraine

Saturday 2 December 2023 06:00 , Tom Watling

Below are some of the latest photos from Ukraine.

A woman looks at flags bearing symbols and colours of Ukraine that commemorate fallen Ukrainian soldiers at Independence Square (AFP via Getty Images)
A woman looks at flags bearing symbols and colours of Ukraine that commemorate fallen Ukrainian soldiers at Independence Square (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian military Mi-8 helicopter fires unguided missiles towards Russian troops in an undisclosed location in eastern Ukraine (REUTERS)
A Ukrainian military Mi-8 helicopter fires unguided missiles towards Russian troops in an undisclosed location in eastern Ukraine (REUTERS)
Medics of the 47th 'Magura’ Separate Mechanised Brigade help a Ukrainian serviceman, who was recently wounded in the town of Avdiivka (REUTERS)
Medics of the 47th 'Magura’ Separate Mechanised Brigade help a Ukrainian serviceman, who was recently wounded in the town of Avdiivka (REUTERS)

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Saturday 2 December 2023 05:00 , Tom Watling

Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday 30 November that the war with Russia was in a new stage, with winter expected to complicate fighting after a summer counteroffensive that failed to produce desired results.

Despite setbacks, however, the president of Ukraine said his nation wouldn’t give up.

“We have a new phase of war, and that is a fact,” Zelensky said, speaking in Kharkiv after a morale-boosting tour of the region.

“Winter as a whole is a new phase of war.

“Am I satisfied? Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied.”

Ukraine’s war with Russia complicated by winter, Zelensky says

Russia’s top court bans LGBT+ activism as ‘extremist’ in latest crackdown

Saturday 2 December 2023 04:00 , Tom Watling

Russia’s top court has ruled that LGBT+ activists should be designated as “extremists” and issued a ban against such work – the most drastic step in a years-long crackdown on the community in the country.

This effectively outlaws LGBT+ activism across the country, in a move that representatives of the gay and transgender communities fear will lead to arrests and prosecutions.

The hearing took place behind closed doors and with no defendant. Multiple rights activists have pointed out that the lawsuit targeted the “international civic LGBT movement”, which is not an entity but rather a broad and vague definition that would allow Russian authorities to crack down on any individuals or groups deemed to be part of the “movement”.

Russia’s top court bans LGBT+ activism as ‘extremist’ in new crackdown