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Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin ‘wants to put nuclear plant on moon’ as arrest warrants issued for commanders

Russia and China are considering putting a nuclear power plant on the moon from 2033-35, which could eventually lead to lunar settlements, Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.

Borisov, a former deputy defence minister, said that Russia and China had been jointly working on a lunar programme and that Moscow was able to contribute with its expertise on “nuclear space energy”.

It comes as the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for top Russian commanders Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov for suspected war crimes in Ukraine, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ICC, based in The Hague, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the two were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023”.

“All wars have rules. Those rules bind all without exception”, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said, adding that he would continue to seek cooperation from Russia, which has so far refused to engage with the ICC.

Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Key Points

  • Ukraine says it has finally stopped Russia’s advance west of Avdiivka

  • Russia and Germany spar over a leaked audio on missiles for Ukraine

  • Germany recording shows direct involvement on West in Ukraine conflict - Kremlin

  • Alleged leak by Germany military to Russia detailing British troops in Ukraine ‘worrying’

  • Blast rocks railway bridge over Russia’s Volga river

Nuclear chief Grossi meets Putin to discuss Zaporizhzhia plant

20:57 , Lydia Patrick

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday after talks with energy officials over safety at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The Kremlin published introductory remarks by Putin and Grossi at the meeting in Sochi in southern Russia but gave no details of the closed-door meeting that followed.

Putin told Grossi he was prepared to discuss “particularly sensitive and important issues on the agenda ... and do everything to ensure security anywhere we are in one or another involved in nuclear energy”, the Kremlin said.

Grossi met the head of state nuclear power company Rosatom Alexei Likhachev alongside Putin.

Russian forces seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in their 2022 invasion of Ukraine and have occupied it since. Grossi is due to meet Putin in the southern Russian city of Sochi later on Wednesday.

Zaporizhzhia lies close to the front lines in a part of southern Ukraine which Moscow claims to have annexed. All six of its reactors are shut down, but it requires constant power and a water supply to keep it cool and prevent a potentially catastrophic meltdown.

It was damaged by fire when it was taken over in March 2022, and Russian and Ukrainian troops continue to clash nearby, accusing each other of shelling around the station. The IAEA has been trying to set up a safety mechanism to prevent accidents.

Ukraine aims to conduct counter-offensive actions in 2024, top commander says

19:30 , Sam Rkaina

The Ukrainian military will stabilize the battlefield situation shortly and aims to form units for counter-offensive actions later this year, a top military commander said on Wednesday.

Ukrainian forces experienced a setback following nine months of mostly stable front lines, when the eastern city of Avdiivka fell into Russian hands earlier in February after months of devastating attacks.

Ukrainian troops were forced to leave several settlements neighboring the city due to Russia’s continued offensive amid its own depleting stockpiles of munitions. Meanwhile, a vital aid package from the U.S. has been stalled by Republicans in Congress.

“We will stabilize the situation shortly,” Oleksandr Pavliuk, appointed as ground force commander during the recent top military reshuffle, said in televised comments, “and do everything possible to prepare the troops for more active actions, and to seize the initiative.”

He added that current work was aimed at withdrawing military units that lost their potential and restoring them to later form a force for counter-offensive actions this year.

Russia launched more than 880 drone attacks on Black Sea port, Ukraine says

18:30 , Sam Rkaina

Russia launched over 880 attack drones and over 170 missiles on the Black Sea port infrastructure in Ukraine‘s Odesa region since July last year, a Ukrainian navy commander said on Wednesday.

Moscow has stepped up attacks on port infrastructure since mid-July, when it quit a U.N.-brokered deal that allowed safe passage of Ukrainian grain shipments via the Black Sea.

 (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Russia says attack on Odessa ‘a success'

18:00 , Sam Rkaina

Russia successfully attacked a hangar housing Ukrainian naval drones in a strike on the port of Odesa on Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

“The goal has been achieved. The target has been hit,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine has made extensive use of naval drones to strike Russian ships in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that people had been killed and injured in a Russian attack on Odesa. Later a navy spokesperson told the Ukrainska Pravda media outlet that five people were killed.

Russian missile kills elderly man in Kharkiv, five die in Luhansk mine blast

17:30 , Matt Mathers

A Russian missile strike on a village in Ukraine’s northern Kharkiv region killed a 70-year-old man and injured seven other people, including four teenagers, local officials said on Wednesday.

In a separate incident in the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine, the top Moscow-installed official in the Luhansk region said five people were killed and three injured when a bus on its way to a cemetery was blown up by a mine.

It was not clear who was responsible for placing the mine. The official, Leonid Pasechnik, called it a tragedy and said an investigation was under way.

The United Nations said last month that its human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine had verified more than 10,000 civilian deaths and nearly 20,000 injuries in the two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion. It said the actual numbers were likely to be significantly higher.

European Commission President condemns “new attempt at terror” by Russia

17:00 , Sam Rkaina

President Zelensky has regularly visited cities and military units on the front line during the war, always in secrecy until after he has left.

Foreign leaders have made numerous trips to Ukraine, and they occasionally have had to take refuge in shelters when air raid sirens sound.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned on X, formerly Twitter, what she called the “vile attack” during the Greek visit. She called it a “new attempt at terror” by Russia.

Mr Zelensky showed Mitsotakis around the destruction in Odesa, where in the most recent major Russian attack 12 people — including five children — were killed when debris from a Russian drone hit an apartment block on March 2.

Mr Mitsotakis said Odesa held a special place in Greek history as the place where the Filiki Etairia organization was founded that fought for Greek independence from Ottoman rule in the 19th century.

 (AP)
(AP)

‘Large explosion’ heard during motorcade attack

16:36 , Sam Rkaina

The sound of a large explosion reverberated around the Ukrainian port of Odesa as President Volodymyr Zelensky and Greece’s prime minister ended a tour of the war-ravaged southern city Wednesday.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the delegations were getting into their vehicles when they heard the blast, which he called a “vivid reminder” that Odesa is gripped by the war with Russia. It is one thing to hear about the war and “quite another to experience war firsthand,” Mitsotakis said.

Zelensky said the explosion caused an unknown number of dead and wounded. “You see who we’re dealing with, they don’t care where to hit,” he told reporters. Russian officials made no immediate comment.

ICYMI: Ukraine says it has sunk another Russian warship in drone attack

16:30 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine has sunk another Russian warship off the coast of occupied Crimea, Kyiv has said.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special unit called Group 13 had fired Magura V5 maritime kamikaze drones at the Sergey Kotov – a patrol ship Kyiv has said was worth $65m (£51m) – near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. The loss is another significant and embarrassing blow to Moscow’s naval power.

Full report:

Ukraine says it has sunk another Russian warship in drone attack

Russian missile nearly hits Zelensky motorcade

16:07 , Sam Rkaina

A Russian missile nearly hit Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s motorcade during an attack on Odessa today, it has been reported.

The president was in the Black Sea port to meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis when the incident happened.

“We saw this strike today,” Mr Zelensky said. “You see who we are dealing with, they do not care where they hit. I know there were casualties today, I don’t know all the details yet, but I know there are dead and wounded.

“We need to defend ourselves first and foremost. The best way to do that is with an air defense system.”

Taurus missiles: What are the stealth weapons at heart of leaked audio and Russian German tension?

15:30 , Matt Mathers

On the day that Alexei Navalny was laid to rest in Moscow, Putin’s state media leaked an audio recording of German military officers discussing the hypothetical use of Taurus long-range missiles in Ukraine.

The conversation was never meant to be public, and the leak embarrassed Germany and raised concerns about security.

Taurus missiles: Stealth weapon at heart of leaked audio and Russian German tension

Russian jailed for seven years for articles about Ukraine war

14:26 , Matt Mathers

A reporter for an independent Russian news outlet was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for articles he wrote about alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine, his publication said.

Roman Ivanov, who works for the online RusNews, was convicted of publishing "fake news" about the Russian army under wartime censorship laws passed shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Russia has used those laws to crack down on journalists and activists who report information that counters Kremlin narratives of what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

The charges against Ivanov stem from articles he wrote about a massacre in Bucha, Ukraine, a U.N. war crimes report and Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

Escaping Russian capture: An ex-British soldier’s account of fighting for Ukraine detailed in our event

13:30 , Matt Mathers

Former British Army soldier Shaun Pinner will be sharing the true story of his six months spent imprisoned in Russian-occupied Ukraine in this exclusive event.

Follow the link below to find details on how you can join the event:

Escaping Russian capture: Sign up to our exclusive event

A timeline of restrictive laws that authorities have used to crack down on dissent in Putin's Russia

13:00 , Matt Mathers

As part of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ever-increasing clampdown on dissent, authorities in recent years have adopted a slew of laws restricting fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly, as well as the rights of minorities and religious groups.

These laws have taken aim at “foreign agents” allegedly seeking to exert influence on Russia, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and organizations spreading information critical of the Kremlin or contrary to official narratives, especially regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Full report:

A timeline of restrictive laws that authorities have used to crack down on dissent in Putin's Russia

The UN atomic watchdog’s director arrives in Russia for talks on nuclear safety in Ukraine

12:30 , Matt Mathers

The U.N. atomic watchdog agency’s director has arrived in Russia for talks on nuclear safety in Ukraine, where Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is at risk amid fighting.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly expressed alarm about the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant amid fears of a potential nuclear catastrophe. The plant has repeatedly been caught in the crossfire since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and seized the facility shortly after.

Full report:

The UN atomic watchdog’s director arrives in Russia for talks on nuclear safety in Ukraine

Ukraine drone attack

12:02 , Chris Stevenson

Two Ukrainian drones struck fuel facilities at one of Russia's largest iron ore plants.

Kursk governor Roman Starovoit said a second drone had hit the Mikhailovsky GOK iron ore plant which is owned by Metalloinvest, Russia's largest iron ore producer, around two hours after he announced a first strike.A source in Ukraine's GUR military intelligence agency told Reuters that it was responsible for the attack.

"Today, as a result of a drone attack in the Zheleznogorsky district, a fuel tank at the fuel and lubricants warehouse of the Mikhailovsky Mining and Processing Plant caught fire," Metalloinvest said in a statement after the first attack.

‘No apology’ over all

11:45 , Chris Stevenson

The Germany ambassador to the UK has said there is “no need to apologise” for the security breaches which led to a call between top military officials being leaked by Russian sources.

Miguel Berger told BBC Radio 4's Today programme one of the participants had likely dialled in via an insecure line.

In the audio, amry officers can be heard discussing details of British operations on the ground in Ukraine.

"I think that is a good lesson for everybody: never use hotel internet if you want to do a secure call," Mr Berger advised listeners.

Kyiv limiting Moscow operations in Black Sea as 3 navy vessels sunk in weeks - MoD

10:55 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine continues to limit Russia’s operations in the Black Sea, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said after Kyiv sunk a third Russian navy vessel in five weeks.

In a statement on X, the MoD said: “This is the third [Sergei Kotov] Russian Black Sea Fleet vessel sunk in the past five weeks.

“Likely because of Black Sea Fleet losses, on 15 February 2024, the Black Sea Fleet Commander, Admiral Sokolov, was dismissed. Ukraine continues to limit the freedom of manoeuvre of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea.”

Read the state in full here:

Moldova and France to sign defence and economic cooperation accords

10:05 , Matt Mathers

Moldova and France will sign defence and economic cooperation accords during a visit by Moldovan President Maia Sandu to Paris on Thursday, the French presidency said in a statement.

Western powers are seeking to increase support for Moldova amid what they fear are increasing efforts by Russia to destabilise Moldova. In parallel to Sandu’s visit, Western states will hold an audio call hosted by France to discuss increasing support for Ukraine, but also Moldova.

To Ukraine’s west, fellow former Soviet republic Moldova has a tiny defence budget and has long had tense relations with Moscow. Russia has troops and peacekeepers based in Transdniestria, a breakaway statelet of Moldova that has maintained its autonomy for three decades with the Kremlin’s support.

The French presidency said Macron would "reiterate France’s support for the independence, sovereignty and security of the Republic of Moldova, in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine" when he meets Sandu on Thursday.

It added that a defence cooperation agreement and a road map for cooperation in the economic field would be signed during the visit. It gave no further details.

The Transdniestria region asked Russia in February to help its economy withstand Moldovan "pressure", at a meeting of hundreds of officials dismissed by the pro-European Chisinau government as a propaganda event.

ICYMI: War crime arrest warrants issued for top Russian commanders Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov

09:35 , Matt Mathers

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for top Russian commanders Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The ICC, based in The Hague, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023”.

Full report:

War crime arrest warrants issued for two top Russian commanders

Woman who fled Ukraine war reopens pub in Wales

09:10 , Matt Mathers

A woman who fled the war in Ukraine has reopened a pub in Wales, saying she hopes the move will give the local economy a boost.

Vladyslava Krapyvka left her home in Kyiv along with her youngest son after Russia’s invasion in 2022, and has taken on the lease of The Lamb in Newport.

She said she liked Newport but that the city centre looks “abandoned” and wants to “change the situation”.

“There are lots of people working very hard here, and they need to have a place here in the centre of Newport, where they can come to a small pub and they can have good service,” she told the BBC.

Second Ukrainian drone hits iron ore refinery in Russia’s Kursk region - governor

08:45 , Matt Mathers

A second Ukrainian drone struck the Mikhailovsky GOK iron ore refinery in Russia’s Kursk region on Wednesday, shortly after an earlier attack at the plant, regional governor Roman Starovoit said on Telegram.

He said there were no casualties from either of the strikes.

Zelensky thanks ‘warriors’ for fight against ‘Russian terrorists’ in Black Sea

08:30 , Matt Mathers

Volodymyr Zelensky has praised his troops for the fight against “Russian terrorists” in the Black Sea.

The Ukraine president also said his army was restoring “security” and “control” over its skies.

Writing on X, he said: “Today, I would like to thank all of our warriors and units who are restoring security and Ukraine’s control over our skies and the Black Sea.

“Ukraine has already proven its capabilities and strength. The number of destroyed Russian aircraft, as well as our warriors’ achievements against the Russian fleet, serve as proof of this.

“There are no safe harbors for Russian terrorists in the Black Sea. And there will be none. Just as there will be no safe space in the skies for them if Ukraine has sufficient strength. This refers to both partner deliveries and domestic manufacturing.”

Ukraine’s small but lethal weapon lifting morale

08:03 , Matt Mathers

Uncrewed, remote-controlled boats have been around since the end of World War II. Late last century, technological innovations broadened their potential uses.

Lethal, advanced sea drones developed and deployed by Ukraine in its war with Russia have opened a new chapter in that story.

Full report:

Ukraine’s small but lethal weapon lifting morale

Argentine president to visit Kyiv in June and meet Zelensky

07:34 , Arpan Rai

The Argentine president Javier Milei says he will visit Kyiv as part of a diplomatic tour of Europe in June this year.

The South American leader said he will also meet Volodymyr Zelensky during the visit.

Mr Milei had previously announced his plans to hold a “summit of Latin America support” for Ukraine in late 2024.

ICYMI: Arrest warrants against Russian commanders issued by ICC over war crimes in Ukraine

07:29 , Arpan Rai

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for two Russian commanders over committing war crimes by attacking Ukrainian infrastructure, marking the second round of warrants issued for Russian leaders in the invasion of Ukraine.

The top global court said there are reasonable grounds to believe that the two top commanders were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023”.

As a result of these strikes, Ukraine’s electrical grid suffered civilian harm and damage that would have been clearly excessive to any expected military advantage, the court, at The Hague, said.

Even though Russia claims it does not deliberately target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, its troops have rained missiles on hospitals, schools, theatres-turned-shelter homes, villages, grocery stores and marketplaces far inside Ukraine during the course of its over two years of invasion.

Prosecutors in Kyiv said they were already investigating possible war crimes after the war-hit nation endured two bloodied winter campaigns under Russian attacks which hit Ukrainian energy and utilities infrastructure.

Escaping Russian capture: Sign up to our exclusive event

07:16 , Arpan Rai

To mark ten years of conflict in Ukraine, The Independent is hosting a Virtual Event that will explore the grim underbelly of the war - getting a first-hand perspective from a former British Army soldier captured by Russian forces.

Shaun Pinner will be joining journalist Tim White, to detail how he was detained in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic after the siege of Mariupol and later freed in a prisoner swap.

He will be sharing the true story of his six months spent imprisoned in Russian-occupied Ukraine in this exclusive event.

Sign up here.

Shaun Pinner: Escaping Russian capture

Ukrainian drone attacks Russian fuel and lubricants warehouse, says official

07:15 , Arpan Rai

A drone attack has sparked an explosion and fire in Russia’s Kursk at a local fuel and lubricants warehouse, with local officials describing it as an assault from Ukraine.

Local governor Roman Starovoit said that no one had been injured, and that a fuel tank was on fire.

The photos and videos of the attack on the petrol depot showed thick grey plumes of smoke emanating from the facility. The Independent has not verified the authenticity of the visuals.

A Russian city, Kursk borders Ukraine at the northeastern corner of the country.

Ukrainian officials have not commented on Russian claims.

Ukraine’s drone attacks over Russian border cities and oblasts have intensified this week as authorities in Russia’s Belgorod and Voronezh regions claimed their forces downed Ukrainian drones in separate incidents.

How Putin’s crackdown on dissent became the hallmark of his regime

07:04 , Arpan Rai

As part of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ever-increasing clampdown on dissent, authorities in recent years have adopted a slew of laws restricting fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly, as well as the rights of minorities and religious groups.

These laws have taken aim at “foreign agents” allegedly seeking to exert influence on Russia, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and organizations spreading information critical of the Kremlin or contrary to official narratives, especially regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They have helped the Kremlin to maintain tight control over the country’s political system, and as a result, Putin is expected to extend his rule virtually unchallenged in a presidential election this month.

Human rights advocates worry that more repressions are ahead.

Here’s a look at some of the restrictive laws passed in Russia:

A timeline of restrictive laws that authorities have used to crack down on dissent in Putin's Russia

Watch - Video appears to show moment Ukraine sinks $65m Russian warship off Crimea

07:00 , Lydia Patrick

Video appears to show moment Ukraine sinks $65m Russian warship off Crimea

German minister reveals how Russia managed to hack into top-secret military talks

06:54 , Arpan Rai

A German military leak that revealed that Britain had people “on the ground” in Ukraine was intercepted by Russia after a “mistake” by a participant on a top-secret, high-level conference call. The person, on the call from Singapore, had used an unsecure line.

Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, has also claimed that Moscow is likely to have tapped into the call not through a spy or targeted surveillance, but by widespread monitoring.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, he said that the unnamed senior military officer had called in from Singapore where an air show with other high-ranking European military officials was taking place – and then dialled into the Webex call using either his mobile phone or the hotel’s wifi but not a secured line – as would be mandatory for such calls.

Alex Ross reports:

German minister reveals how Russia managed to hack into top-secret military talks

Ukraine downs 38 Russian drones overnight in fierce battle with Russia

06:22 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine downed at least 38 drones fired by Russia overnight, the Ukrainian Air Force said in a morning update.

At least 42 Shahed-type attack drones were fired by Russia, it added.

Russian forces fired five S-300 anti-aircraft guided missiles using the occupied parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk oblast and also fired drones from the illegally occupied Crimea, the air force said.

Several drones were also fired from the Kursk oblast and the Russian port city of Primorsko-Akhtarsk in southern Krasnodar Krai.

Ukraine’s Air Force said it activated mobile fire groups and anti-aircraft missile units over various parts of Ukraine.Several explosions were also reported overnight in the Ukrainian cities of Odesa and Khmelnytskyi.

Russia says it is considering putting a nuclear power plant on the moon with China

06:00 , Lydia Patrick

Russia and China are considering putting a nuclear power plant on the moon from 2033-35, Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday, something he said could one day allow lunar settlements to be built

Borisov, a former deputy defence minister, said that Russia and China had been jointly working on a lunar programme and that Moscow was able to contribute with its expertise on “nuclear space energy”.

“Today we are seriously considering a project - somewhere at the turn of 2033-2035 - to deliver and install a power unit on the lunar surface together with our Chinese colleagues,” Borisov said.

“Solar panels would not be able to provide enough electricity to power future lunar settlements, he said, while nuclear power could.“This is a very serious challenge...it should be done in automatic mode, without the presence of humans,” he said of the possible plan.

Borisov spoke also of Russian plans to build a nuclear-powered cargo spaceship. He said all the technical questions concerning the project had been solved apart from finding a solution on how to cool the nuclear reactor.

“We are indeed working on a space tugboat. This huge, cyclopean structure that would be able, thanks to a nuclear reactor and a high-power turbines...to transport large cargoes from one orbit to another, collect space debris and engage in many other applications,” Borisov said.

Olena Zelenska declines White House’s State of the Union address invite

05:34 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has declined the White House’s invitation to attend the 7 March State of the Union address, reported The Washington Post.

A White House official said that the Ukrainian official’s decision was likely influenced by “schedule conflicts”, adding that the seating plan is typically finalised towards the end of the planning process.

The report added that the initial seating plan for the top leaders included Jill Biden alongside Olena Zelenska and Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny.

Sources aware of the development said the seating arrangement at the address was aimed to present a powerful image of both women being symbolic representation against the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s small but lethal weapon lifting morale

05:00 , Lydia Patrick

Uncrewed, remote-controlled boats have been around since the end of World War II. Late last century, technological innovations broadened their potential uses.

Lethal, advanced sea drones developed and deployed by Ukraine in its war with Russia have opened a new chapter in that story.

Ukraine claims it is the first country to set up a specific unit dedicated to producing them. Yemen-based Houthis have also deployed armed unmanned surface vessels as suicide drone boats that explode upon impact.

The 2-year-old Ukraine conflict has become a laboratory for new military technology, and naval drones are set to become an essential part of the combat toolbox in 21st-century warfare.

Unmanned vessels — also called drone boats or maritime drones — have had a broad range of applications for years. They have been employed for scientific research, search and rescue operations, surveillance and coastal patrols.

Read the full story here...

Ukraine’s small but lethal weapon lifting morale

Russia scrambles warplane to escort French military planes crossing Black Sea

04:47 , Arpan Rai

Russia scrambled an Su-27 fighter jet to escort two French fighter jets and a reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea, the Russian Defence Ministry said, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

It claimed the escorting was done to “prevent them from violating the Russian state border”.

The ministry claimed that after the Russian fighter approaching the foreign military aircraft made a U-turn and left the airspace over the Black Sea.

France has not issued a comment on claims from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Video appears to show moment Ukraine sinks $65m Russian warship off Crimea

04:33 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine has claimed it had sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea using high-tech sea drones.

Kyiv’s military intelligence agency said a special operations unit destroyed the large patrol ship Sergey Kotov overnight with Magura V5 uncrewed vessels that are designed and built in Ukraine and laden with explosives.

Ukraine said the cost of the sunken patrol ship, which was hit near the Kerch Strait, was $65m (£51.2m).

A video posted on social media appears to show the moment the Sergey Kotov was hit.

Russian authorities have not confirmed the claim.

Watch the video here:

Video appears to show moment Ukraine sinks $65m Russian warship off Crimea

White House says Zelensky is not asking for troops, but weapons

04:31 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine’s war-time leader Volodymyr Zelensky has not sought foreign troops on the battlefield but weapons and aid, the White House said yesterday.

Answering a question on France’s suggestion of Western boots on the ground in Ukraine, John Kirby, the White House’s national security council coordinator for strategic communications, said the US does not intend to send troops to fight the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

“He’s [Joe Biden] also been very clear since the very beginning of this war: There’s not going to be US troops on the ground fighting inside Ukraine. And you know what? President Zelensky isn’t asking for that. He’s just asking for the tools and capabilities,” Mr Kirby said at a regular press briefing last night.

Mr Zelensky has “never asked for foreign troops to fight for his country”, Mr Kirby said. “He – he and his troops want to do that. But they need the tools, and that’s what we need to help with,” he said.

Drone attacks on Crimea continue, power outage reported

04:18 , Arpan Rai

Crimea remained under relentless drone attacks overnight, leaving the region without power, reported Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda.

Locals reported hearing explosions and sounds of active air defence on the illegally annexed peninsula, reported Odesa-based media outlet Dumskaya.

The attacks left the Moldavanka district and part of the city centre without power, it reported on its Telegram channel.

This comes just a day after the Ukrainian military said it fired sea drones that hit and sank a Russian Black Sea Fleet patrol ship off occupied Crimea in an overnight attack.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency said a special unit called Group 13 had fired Magura V5 maritime drones at the Sergey Kotov near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.

It said on the Telegram messaging app that the vessel had sustained damage to the stern, starboard and port sides, at an estimated cost of $65m.

EU head office proposes plans to boost defense, joint procurement in face of Russian invasion

04:00 , Lydia Patrick

Top European Union officials on Tuesday outlined ambitious plans to boost its defence industry at an unprecedented pace as the bloc seeks to respond to the threat posed by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“After decades of underspending, we must invest more on defence, but we need to do it better and together,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

“A strong, resilient, and competitive European defence industry is a strategic imperative.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed glaring weaknesses in Europe’s arms manufacturing capacities that were neglected in the wake of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the promise of a peace dividend in Europe.

So when Kyiv was badly in need of the most elementary ammunition to stave off Russian forces, European nations were caught out, unable to deliver what was asked and even promised.

“Our defence spending goes to too many different weapon systems, primarily bought from outside the EU,” said EU Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager.

With defence budgets in EU member states rising, “we should invest better, which largely means investing together, and investing European.”Under the proposals, the 27 member states will be invited to buy at least 40% of defence equipment together and make sure that 35% of the defence value represents internal trade by 2030.

While production is improving, the EU had aimed to be making 1 million artillery shells annually by now but is only making around half that figure. Officials now say that production could reach 1.4 million shells per year by the end of December.

On sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine, Germany says no political decision made

03:39 , Arpan Rai

Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius has said intercepted high-ranking military call shows there’s clearly no political decision on deploying German Taurus missiles on Ukraine’s battlefield.

“They always mentioned during all that phone call, there is no political decision - neither by the chancellor (Olaf Scholz) nor by me to deploy Taurus to Ukraine,” Mr Pistorius said at a news conference.

Audio leaked to Russian media divulged a top-secret call involving German air force officers, which has since been authenticated by Berlin, suggested British soldiers were “on the ground” in Ukraine, helping Kyiv’s forces fire long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

During the conversation, Lt Gen Ingo Gerhartz, the head of the German air force, describes how the UK and Ukraine work to deploy Storm Shadow missiles against targets behind Russian lines.

Mr Pistorius said Germany’s allies are not upset after the scandal surrounding the call recorded by the Russians. The defence minister said he informed his partners in Washington and London on Monday that it was an individual mistake.

“They are not angry or upset with Germany because they know that we have rules and that things like this can happen,” said Pistorius.

A look at Taurus missiles, the weapon at the heart of a leaked audio and Russian-German tensions

Arrest warrants against Russian commanders issued by ICC over war crimes in Ukraine

03:24 , Arpan Rai

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for two Russian commanders over committing war crimes by attacking Ukrainian infrastructure, marking the second round of warrants issued for Russian leaders in the invasion of Ukraine.

The top global court said there are reasonable grounds to believe that the two top commanders were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023”.

As a result of these strikes, Ukraine’s electrical grid suffered civilian harm and damage that would have been clearly excessive to any expected military advantage, the court, at The Hague, said.

Even though Russia claims it does not deliberately target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, its troops have rained missiles on hospitals, schools, theatres-turned-shelter homes, villages, grocery stores and marketplaces far inside Ukraine during the course of its over two years of invasion.

Prosecutors in Kyiv said they were already investigating possible war crimes after the war-hit nation endured two bloodied winter campaigns under Russian attacks which hit Ukrainian energy and utilities infrastructure.

War crime arrest warrants issued for two top Russian commanders

Ukraine says it has sunk another Russian warship in drone attack

03:19 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine has sunk another Russian warship off the coast of occupied Crimea, Kyiv has said.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special unit called Group 13 had fired Magura V5 maritime kamikaze drones at the Sergey Kotov – a patrol ship Kyiv has said was worth $65m (£51m) – near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. The loss is another significant and embarrassing blow to Moscow’s naval power.

Seven Russian crew members were killed and six were injured in the strike, while 52 crew were rescued, the military intelligence agency said.

“Right now this ship is on the seabed,” Ukrainian navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said. He added: “And, by the way, they were also supposed to have a helicopter on board. This is the case where you ‘get two for the price of one’ so why pay more?”

Ukraine says it has sunk another Russian warship in drone attack

Ukraine says it has finally stopped Russia’s advance west of Avdiivka

03:00 , Lydia Patrick

The Ukrainian military said its forces halted a Russian advance outside Avdiivka, an eastern town in Ukraine captured by Russia last month.

Although Vladimir Putin’s forces took control of two more villages, their advance near Avdiivka was halted for now, Ukrainian military spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said.

“We are saying that in this hottest sector of the direct Russian assault, we are managing to stabilise the situation and the enemy’s advance has been halted,” the spokesperson said, speaking on national television.

The intensity of the attacks around villages west of Avdiivka has surged, Mr Lykhoviy said.

At least 30 assaults were reported in the area on Sunday, compared to 20 near Avdiivka itself, the Ukrainian official said.

Read the full story here...

Ukraine says it has finally stopped Russia’s advance west of Avdiivka

The bizarre messages Air Force staff accused of sharing Russian war info ‘sent on dating app’

02:00 , Lydia Patrick

A member of the US Air Force has been charged with sharing classified information on Russia‘s war with Ukraine on a foreign dating site after messages from an unnamed woman seemed to beg for secrets.

David Franklin Slater, 63, was charged in federal court in Nebraska with transmitting classified information about Russia’s war with Ukraine on a foreign online dating platform, the Justice Department said on Monday.

According to an indictment, that alleged co-conspirator, who is not identified by prosecutors, repeatedly asked Slater for information and described him as “my secret informant love.”

Slater who authorities say retired as an Army lieutenant colonel and was assigned to the US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, was arrested on Saturday on charges of illegally disclosing national defense information and conspiring to do so.

Read the full story here...

The messages Air Force staff accused of sharing Russian war info ‘sent on dating app’

German minister reveals how Russia managed to hack into top-secret military talks

01:00 , Lydia Patrick

A German military leak that revealed that Britain had people “on the ground” in Ukraine was intercepted by Russia after a “mistake” by a participant on a top-secret, high-level conference call. The person, on the call from Singapore, had used an unsecure line.

Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, has also claimed that Moscow is likely to have tapped into the call not through a spy or targeted surveillance, but by widespread monitoring.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, he said that the unnamed senior military officer had called in from Singapore where an air show with other high-ranking European military officials was taking place – and then dialled into the Webex call using either his mobile phone or the hotel’s wifi but not a secured line – as would be mandatory for such calls.

“For the Russian secret services, it was a real find... targeted hacking took place in the hotels used across the board,” Mr Pistorius said. “It must therefore be assumed that the access to this [phone] conference was a chance hit as part of a broad, scattered approach.” The defence minister said there was no spy on the call.

“Our communication systems have not been compromised,” he said. “The reason the air force call could nonetheless be recorded was because of an individual’s operational mistake.”

Read the full story here...

German minister reveals how Russia managed to hack into top-secret military talks

Russian spy chief calls Macron’s comments about NATO soldiers in Ukraine dangerous, RIA says

00:00 , Lydia Patrick

French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on NATO soldiers in Ukraine show the irresponsibility of Europe’s leaders and are moving the world to the brink of nuclear war, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) chief Sergei Naryshkin was quoted by state-run RIA news agency as saying on Tuesday.

Last week Macron opened the door to European nations sending troops to Ukraine, although he cautioned that there was no consensus at this stage.

Watch - Video appears to show moment Ukraine sinks $65m Russian warship off Crimea

Tuesday 5 March 2024 23:00 , Lydia Patrick

Video appears to show moment Ukraine sinks $65m Russian warship off Crimea

Ukrainian attacks increasingly sap the power of Russia’s Black Sea fleet

Tuesday 5 March 2024 22:00 , Lydia Patrick

Ukrainian sea drones reportedly sank another Russian warship in the Black Sea on Tuesday, the latest in a series of strikes that has crippled Moscow’s naval capability and limited its operations with the war now in its third year.Successful Ukrainian drone and missile strikes have provided a major morale boost for Kyiv at a time when its undermanned and under-gunned forces are facing Russian attacks along the more than 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line.Challenging Russia’s naval superiority also has helped create more favorable conditions for Ukrainian grain exports and other shipments from the country’s Black Sea ports.In the latest reported strike, Ukrainian naval drones attacked the Sergei Kotov patrol ship near the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, according to the Ukraine‘s military intelligence agency. The strike, which couldn’t be independently verified, killed seven members of the Russian crew and injured six others, while 52 were rescued, the agency said.The Russian Defense Ministry didn’t comment on the claim, but some Russian military bloggers confirmed the ship’s loss and said its crew had been rescued.The strike, if verified, would mark the latest successful use of Ukraine‘s domestically produced Magura drones, the agile uncrewed boats that have become the Russian navy’s nemesis. Just last month, drones sank Russia’s Caesar Kunikov amphibious landing ship and Ivanovets missile corvette. The Russian military hasn’t acknowledged those losses, either, but they have been reported by Russian military bloggers and some media.

Russia Black Sea Fleet Under Attack (Crimean Telegram channel)
Russia Black Sea Fleet Under Attack (Crimean Telegram channel)

War crime arrest warrants issued for top Russian commanders Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov

Tuesday 5 March 2024 20:45 , Lydia Patrick

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for top Russian commanders Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The ICC, based in The Hague, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023”.

This is the second set of warrants for the arrest of Russian officials related to the war in Ukraine.

In March last year the ICC issued warrants for the arrest of President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova on war crimes charges related to the abduction of Ukrainian children. The Kremlin rejects the allegations.

Read the full story here...

War crime arrest warrants issued for two top Russian commanders

Russia says it is considering putting a nuclear power plant on the moon with China

Tuesday 5 March 2024 20:07 , Lydia Patrick

Russia and China are considering putting a nuclear power plant on the moon from 2033-35, Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday, something he said could one day allow lunar settlements to be built

Borisov, a former deputy defence minister, said that Russia and China had been jointly working on a lunar programme and that Moscow was able to contribute with its expertise on “nuclear space energy”.

“Today we are seriously considering a project - somewhere at the turn of 2033-2035 - to deliver and install a power unit on the lunar surface together with our Chinese colleagues,” Borisov said.

“Solar panels would not be able to provide enough electricity to power future lunar settlements, he said, while nuclear power could.“This is a very serious challenge...it should be done in automatic mode, without the presence of humans,” he said of the possible plan.

Borisov spoke also of Russian plans to build a nuclear-powered cargo spaceship. He said all the technical questions concerning the project had been solved apart from finding a solution on how to cool the nuclear reactor.

“We are indeed working on a space tugboat. This huge, cyclopean structure that would be able, thanks to a nuclear reactor and a high-power turbines...to transport large cargoes from one orbit to another, collect space debris and engage in many other applications,” Borisov said.

Just in - Alexei Navalny’s widow invited as Biden’s guest to State of the Union

Tuesday 5 March 2024 20:05 , Lydia Patrick

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden invited Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, to be their guest at Thursday’s State of the Union address, the White House has said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday told reporters the invitation had been extended to Ms Navalnaya, but said the Russian opposition figure will not be in First Lady Jill Biden’s box above the House floor when Mr Biden addresses Congress on Thursday.

“I can confirm that she was indeed invited to the State of the Union. She is no longer able to attend,” said Ms Jean-Pierre, who referred further questions to Ms Navalnaya’s representatives.

Mr Navalny’s funeral took place on Friday in Moscow, with thousands of people paying their respects under a large police presence. The opposition leader died under unclear circumstances at a penal colony in the Arctic Circle more than two weeks ago.

More follows...

Alexei Navalny’s widow invited as Biden’s guest to State of the Union

Tuesday 5 March 2024 19:45 , Lydia Patrick

The Czech and French presidents have said their countries remain united in their support for Ukraine fighting Russian aggression and are ready to look for new ways of helping the Ukrainians succeed.

“We agree that that the only option for us is to continue supporting Ukraine,” Czech President Petr Pavel said. “We’ve agreed that Europe has to play a bigger role in helping Ukraine.”

Mr Pavel said that all options had to be considered but ruled out deploying combat troops in Ukraine, an idea French President Emmanuel Macron floated last week that prompted an outcry from other leaders.

“We haven’t talk about it at all,” Mr Pavel said. “We’re talking about various forms of assistance.”

He suggested the training of Ukraine‘s soldiers might possibly take place inside Ukraine despite the war.

French officials had sought to clarify Mr Macron’s earlier remarks about western troops on the ground in Ukraine while insisting on the need to send a clear signal to Russia that it cannot win in Ukraine.

“We must all be aware that this war affects us all,” Mr Macron said in Prague. He said European nations cannot put constraints on themselves when Russia has no limits, including threatening the use of nuclear weapons.

“It’s a strategic leap that I called for, and that I fully embrace,” Mr Macron said. “We must be rational about the reality of the situation playing out in Europe.

“I am convinced that the clarity of these words is precisely what Europe needed. Ask President (Vladimir) Putin what he is prepared not to do. Who started the war in Ukraine? Vladimir Putin who threatens whatever we do, whatever we say, with nuclear weapons?”

Ukraine’s small but lethal weapon lifting morale

Tuesday 5 March 2024 18:45 , Lydia Patrick

Uncrewed, remote-controlled boats have been around since the end of World War II. Late last century, technological innovations broadened their potential uses.

Lethal, advanced sea drones developed and deployed by Ukraine in its war with Russia have opened a new chapter in that story.

Ukraine claims it is the first country to set up a specific unit dedicated to producing them. Yemen-based Houthis have also deployed armed unmanned surface vessels as suicide drone boats that explode upon impact.

The 2-year-old Ukraine conflict has become a laboratory for new military technology, and naval drones are set to become an essential part of the combat toolbox in 21st-century warfare.

Unmanned vessels — also called drone boats or maritime drones — have had a broad range of applications for years. They have been employed for scientific research, search and rescue operations, surveillance and coastal patrols.

Read the full story here...

Ukraine’s small but lethal weapon lifting morale

German minister says no political decision made on sending Taurus to Ukraine

Tuesday 5 March 2024 17:45 , Lydia Patrick

A high-level military call on Ukraine intercepted by Russia made clear that no political decision on sending Taurus cruise missiles to Kyiv has been made, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday on a trip to Sweden.

“They always mentioned during all that phone call, there is no political decision - neither by the chancellor (Olaf Scholz) nor by me to deploy Taurus to Ukraine,” Pistorius said at a news conference.

Germany’s allies are not upset after the scandal surrounding the call recorded by the Russians, according to Pistorius. The minister said he informed his partners in Washington and London on Monday that it was an individual mistake.

“They are not angry or upset with Germany because they know that we have rules and that things like this can happen,” said Pistorius.

Fighting back: Tourism will return to Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities as soon as the guns fall silent (Simon Calder)
Fighting back: Tourism will return to Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities as soon as the guns fall silent (Simon Calder)

Hungary president signs Sweden's NATO membership ratification

Tuesday 5 March 2024 16:45 , Lydia Patrick

Hungary’s President Tamas Sulyok has signed the bill that approved Sweden’s accession to the NATO military alliance, the president’s office said on Tuesday, clearing the way for Sweden to become the 32nd member of the alliance in the coming days.

Stockholm abandoned its non-alignment policy for greater safety within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The remaining formalities, such as depositing accession documentation in Washington, are likely to be concluded swiftly.

“It is tremendously important and hopefully we will now become members and it will not be a matter of weeks but a matter of days,” Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson told a news conference in Stockholm. “It will be good for Sweden and it will be good for NATO. It will be good for stability in the entire Euro-Atlantic area that Sweden can become a full-fledged member of NATO.”

Most NATO countries approved Sweden’s bid quickly after its application in May 2022 but Turkey and Hungary delayed the process, unhappy with Sweden’s perceived support for Kurdish separatists and criticism of the Hungarian government.

The accession of Finland last year and soon Sweden, which has not been at war since 1814, is the most significant expansion of NATO since it took in members from eastern Europe after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The accession is a blow to President Vladimir Putin and Russia now faces an almost unbroken chain of NATO members to its west stretching from the Black Sea to the Arctic.

Hungarian lawmakers approved Sweden’s NATO bid on Feb. 26 after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government had faced pressure from NATO allies to fall in line and seal Sweden’s accession to the alliance.

Hungary Presidential Inauguration (MTVA - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund)
Hungary Presidential Inauguration (MTVA - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund)

Russia says it strengthens military forces in Europe in response to NATO

Tuesday 5 March 2024 15:30 , Lydia Patrick

Russia has strengthened its military forces in the north and west of the country to counter what Moscow perceives as a build-up of NATO forces near Russia, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

In response to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Finland has joined NATO and Sweden is on the point of doing so. NATO is this week conducting a military exercise called Nordic Response 2024 which it says will involve more than 20,000 soldiers in Norway, Finland and Sweden and will focus on collective defence.

“Against the background of a build-up of NATO’s military potential near the Russian borders, the expansion of the alliance through the accession of Finland and, in the future, Sweden, we have taken steps to strengthen the groupings of troops in the north-western and western strategic directions,” Shoigu told top generals, without providing details.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Vladimir Putin has warned the West that it risks provoking a nuclear war if Western troops are sent to fight in Ukraine.

FILE PHOTO Swedish self-propelled howitzer system Archer is driven at the front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
FILE PHOTO Swedish self-propelled howitzer system Archer is driven at the front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ukraine claims it has sunk another Russian warship using high-tech sea drones

Tuesday 5 March 2024 15:00 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine claimed Tuesday it has sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea using high-tech sea drones as Kyiv’s forces continue to take aim at targets deep behind the war’s front line. Russian authorities did not confirm the claim.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special operations unit destroyed the large patrol ship Sergey Kotov overnight with Magura V5 uncrewed vessels that are designed and built in Ukraine and laden with explosives. The patrol ship, which Ukraine said was hit near the Kerch Strait, reportedly can carry cruise missiles and around 60 crew.

The Ukrainian claim could not immediately be independently verified, and disinformation has been a feature of the fighting that broke out after Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor in February 2022.

Read the full story here...

Ukraine claims it has sunk another Russian warship using high-tech sea drones

German minister reveals how Russia managed to hack into top-secret military talks

Tuesday 5 March 2024 14:30 , Lydia Patrick

A German military leak that purported to reveal that Britain had people “on the ground” in Ukraine was intercepted by Russia after a “mistake” by a participant on a top-secret conference call. The person, on the call from Singapore, had used an unsecure line.

Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, has also claimed that Moscow is likely to have tapped into the call not through a spy or targeted surveillance, but by widespread monitoring.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, he said that the unnamed military officer had called in from Singapore where an air show with other high-ranking European military officials was taking place – and then dialled into the Webex call using either his mobile phone or the hotel’s wifi but not a secured line – as would be mandatory for such calls.

“For the Russian secret services, it was a real find... targeted hacking took place in the hotels used across the board,” Mr Pistorius said. “It must therefore be assumed that the access to this [phone] conference was a chance hit as part of a broad, scattered approach.” The defence minister said there was no spy on the call.

Read the full story here...

German minister reveals how Russia managed to hack into top-secret military talks

ICC issues arrest warrants against top Russian commanders Kobylash and Sokolov

Tuesday 5 March 2024 13:44 , Lydia Patrick

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against top Russian commanders Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash and Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ukraine ‘sinks’ Putin’s warship in the Black Sea ‘using high-tech drones’

Tuesday 5 March 2024 13:42 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine has claimed it has sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea using high-tech drones as Kyiv’s forces continue to take aim at targets deep behind the war’s front line.

Russian authorities did not confirm the claim.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special operations unit destroyed the large patrol ship Sergey Kotov overnight with Magura V5 uncrewed vessels that are designed and built in Ukraine and laden with explosives.

The patrol ship, which Ukraine said was hit near the Kerch Strait on Tuesday, can reportedly carry cruise missiles and around 60 crew members.

The claim by Ukraine could not be independently verified, and disinformation has been a feature of the fighting that broke out after Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.

The private security firm Ambrey said the attack took place at the port of Feodosia, in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Ambrey said it has seen footage taken by a crew member on a merchant vessel in the port, showing the Sergey Kotov firing at the drones.

The ship was hit at least twice, with the second strike resulting in a large blast, Ambrey reported.

The sinking of such a modern ship would be a significant loss and an embarrassing blow for Moscow, even though there are dozens of other vessels in its Black Sea fleet.

Kyiv’s forces are struggling to keep the better-provisioned Russian army at bay at some points along the largely static 1,500-kilometre (930 mile) front line, but are also taking aim at targets beyond the battlefield.

EU head office proposes plans to boost defense, joint procurement in face of Russian invasion

Tuesday 5 March 2024 12:30 , Barney Davis

Top European Union officials on Tuesday outlined ambitious plans to boost its defence industry at an unprecedented pace as the bloc seeks to respond to the threat posed by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“After decades of underspending, we must invest more on defence, but we need to do it better and together,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

“A strong, resilient, and competitive European defence industry is a strategic imperative.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed glaring weaknesses in Europe’s arms manufacturing capacities that were neglected in the wake of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the promise of a peace dividend in Europe.

So when Kyiv was badly in need of the most elementary ammunition to stave off Russian forces, European nations were caught out, unable to deliver what was asked and even promised.

“Our defence spending goes to too many different weapon systems, primarily bought from outside the EU,” said EU Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager.

With defence budgets in EU member states rising, “we should invest better, which largely means investing together, and investing European.”Under the proposals, the 27 member states will be invited to buy at least 40% of defence equipment together and make sure that 35% of the defence value represents internal trade by 2030.

While production is improving, the EU had aimed to be making 1 million artillery shells annually by now but is only making around half that figure. Officials now say that production could reach 1.4 million shells per year by the end of December.

The UK has already provided artillery training to Ukrainian troops, and is now investing £245m in replenishing Kyiv’s stock of munitions (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)
The UK has already provided artillery training to Ukrainian troops, and is now investing £245m in replenishing Kyiv’s stock of munitions (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)

German minister says participant dialed into military call via non-secure line

Tuesday 5 March 2024 12:03 , Barney Davis

Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday one of the participants on the military call on Ukraine intercepted by Russia had dialed in via a non-secure line and disciplinary measures were being looked into.

Russia had likely intercepted the military call via widespread surveillance, not a spy or targeted surveillance, Pistorius said. The use of WebEx for the call was authorised.

Germany would take technical and organizational measures to ensure such an incident would not happen again, he said.

Russia accuses Navalny of being EU agent

Tuesday 5 March 2024 11:20 , Barney Davis

Russia has accused Western ambassadors in Moscow of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs by attending the funeral of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, saying their behaviour raised questions about the point of such envoys.

The Ukraine war has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and President Vladimir Putin has warned that the West risks provoking a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine.

Russia was dismayed by what Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 4 was a refusal by European Union ambassadors to meet him for a conversation ahead of Russia’s March 15-17 presidential election.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, remarking on the envoys’ refusal, told Russian state television anchor Vladimir Solovyov: “The question indeed arises among everyone: what are they doing and why, how do they interpret their conduct on the territory of our country if they do not perform their most important function?”

Solovyov noted that EU ambassadors attended the March 1 funeral of Navalny, whom he cast as their agent.

Navalny, whose death at an Arctic prison colony was announced on February 16, has always denied being a Western agent. The West says Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death.

Russia reinforcing forces to counter NATO

Tuesday 5 March 2024 10:30 , Barney Davis

Russia has taken steps to strengthen its forces in the west and northwest of the country in order to counter NATO, Interfax quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Tuesday.

Ukraine claims special drone unit destroyed Russian warship

Tuesday 5 March 2024 09:52 , Barney Davis

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special operations unit destroyed the large patrol ship Sergey Kotov overnight with Magura V5 uncrewed vessels that are designed and built in Ukraine and laden with explosives.

The patrol ship, which Ukraine said was hit near the Kerch Strait on Tuesday, can reportedly carry cruise missiles and around 60 crew members.

The claim by Ukraine could not be independently verified, and disinformation has been a feature of the fighting that broke out after Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.

Russia says Western ambassadors are meddling in Russia's affairs

Tuesday 5 March 2024 08:36 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s foreign ministry on Tuesday accused Western ambassadors in Moscow of meddling in Russia‘s internal affairs and said their behaviour raised questions about the point of such envoys.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia‘s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and President Vladimir Putin has warned the West that it risks provoking a nuclear war if Western troops are sent to fight in Ukraine.

Russia was dismayed by what Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 4 was a refusal by European Union ambassadors to meet him for a conversation ahead of Russia‘s March 15-17 presidential election.

There was no immediate reaction to Lavrov’s statement from the Western ambassadors.

 (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Ukraine says it has finally stopped Russia’s advance west of Avdiivka

Tuesday 5 March 2024 07:58 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Ukrainian military said its forces halted a Russian advance outside Avdiivka, an eastern town in Ukraine captured by Russia last month.

Although Vladimir Putin’s forces took control of two more villages, their advance near Avdiivka was halted for now, Ukrainian military spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said.

“We are saying that in this hottest sector of the direct Russian assault, we are managing to stabilise the situation and the enemy’s advance has been halted,” the spokesperson said, speaking on national television.

Ukraine says it has finally stopped Russia’s advance west of Avdiivka

German government denies it is preparing for war after audio leak

Tuesday 5 March 2024 07:00 , Sam Rkaina

The German government on Monday vehemently rejected allegations that Russia’s leak of a conversation by high-ranking German military officers was an indication that Berlin was preparing for war against Russia.

At the same time, the government sought to contain the domestic fallout from the leak and promised a quick investigation into how a conversation by top German military personnel could be intercepted and published.

“It is absolutely clear that such claims that this conversation would prove, that Germany is preparing a war against Russia, that this is absurdly infamous Russian propaganda,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

Government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said the leak was part of Russia’s “information war” against the West, and that the aim was to create discord within Germany.

The 38-minute recording features military officers discussing in German how Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces.

While German authorities have not questioned the authenticity of the recording, Scholz said a week ago that delivering these weapons to Ukraine is not an option — and that he does not want Germany to be drawn into the war directly.

Russia’s foreign ministry, however, on Monday threatened Germany with “dire consequences” in connection with the leak. It did not elaborate.

“If nothing is done, and the German people do not stop this, then there will be dire consequences first and foremost for Germany itself,” foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

US Guardsman pleads guilty to leaking military secrets

Tuesday 5 March 2024 06:00 , Lydia Patrick

Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira has pleaded guilty in US federal court to leaking highly classified military documents about the war in Ukraine and other national security secrets.

Teixeira’s plea agreement with prosecutors calls for a prison sentence between 11 and nearly 17 years. Prosecutors plan to seek the high end of the range, according to the agreement.

Teixeira, of North Dighton, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to six counts of wilful retention and transmission of national defence information under the Espionage Act nearly a year after he was arrested in the most consequential national security leak in years.

US district judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for September and said she would decide then whether to formally accept the deal.

Teixeira smiled at his father before being led out of the courtroom on Monday with his hands and legs shackled.

Teixeira, 22, admitted illegally collecting military secrets and sharing them with other users on Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games.

The stunning breach raised alarm over America’s ability to protect its most closely guarded secrets and forced the Biden administration to scramble to try to contain the diplomatic and military fallout.

ICYMI - Navalny's mother brings flowers to his grave a day after thousands attended his funeral in Moscow

Tuesday 5 March 2024 05:00 , Lydia Patrick

The mother and mother-in-law of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were among mourners who brought flowers to his grave in Moscow on Saturday, a day after thousands turned his funeral into one of the largest recent displays of dissent.

Police kept a heavy presence at the cemetery but the situation was calm, Russian independent TV channel Dozhd (Rain) reported.

“The police let those wishing to bid farewell to the politician pass through and do not rush anyone,” the outlet wrote on the Telegram messaging app, quoting one of its readers on the scene.

Dozhd also reported that “spontaneous memorials” to Navalny had been destroyed in several Russian cities. Flowers were removed in cities including St. Petersburg and Voronezh, it said.

Under a heavy police watch, thousands bid farewell Friday to Navalny after his still-unexplained death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony. The crowds who thronged to honor Navalny outside a church and cemetery in a snowy southeastern suburb of the capital chanted slogans for him and against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.

Read the full story here...

Navalny's mother brings flowers to his grave a day after thousands attended his funeral in Moscow

Blast rocks railway bridge over Volga

Tuesday 5 March 2024 04:00 , Lydia Patrick

A railway bridge over the Volga River near Russia’s Samara city was damaged by a blast on Monday, the RIA news agency reported, citing emergency services.

While no casualties have been reported, authorities have suspended railway traffic from using the bridge. Located in Russia’s southwest, the Samara region is one of the country’s heavy industry hubs.

The incident, described by the Russian Railways company as “illegal interference”, was caused by an explosive device, reported Tass.

Russia, in recent months, has reported a series of attacks on its industrial and logistics infrastructure which it blamed on Ukraine.

Read the full story here...

Blast rocks railway bridge over Volga

Ukraine starts planning for post-war tourism: ‘We welcome our guests if they don’t come with guns’

Tuesday 5 March 2024 03:00 , Lydia Patrick

Ukraine will this week launch a campaign for international tourists – telling the world that it has the infrastructure, hotels and service to support visitors.

On the eve of the world’s biggest travel event, ITB in Berlin, the chair of Ukraine’s State Agency for Tourism Development has told The Independent that tourism will be an essential part of post-war recovery.

Mariana Oleskiv said: “We welcome our guests if they don’t come with guns.

“Any money that people will spend in Ukraine will help the economy to recover.

“We have now the brand of Ukraine developed and well known around the world. But it’s not associated with tourism.”

Read the full story here...

Ukraine starts planning for post-war tourism

Germany and Russia spar over a leaked audio on missiles for Ukraine. Berlin promises to investigate

Tuesday 5 March 2024 02:00 , Lydia Patrick

The German government on Monday vehemently rejected allegations that Russia‘s leak of a conversation by high-ranking German military officers was an indication that Berlin was preparing for war against Russia.

At the same time, the government sought to contain the domestic fallout from the leak and promised a quick investigation into how it was possible that a conversation by top German military personnel could be intercepted and published.

“It is absolutely clear that such claims that this conversation would prove, that Germany is preparing a war against Russia, that this is absurdly infamous Russian propaganda,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

Government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said the leak was part of Russia’s “information war” against the West, and that the aim was to create discord within Germany.

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Germany and Russia spar over a leaked audio on missiles for Ukraine. Berlin promises to investigate

Germany leak of UK military tactics in Ukraine is a security breach worrying on many levels, says MP

Tuesday 5 March 2024 01:00 , Lydia Patrick

The leak of a conversation revealing Britain’s activities on the ground in Ukraine is a security breach that is “worrying on a number of levels,” a prominent Conservative MP has said.

British soldiers are “on the ground” in Ukraine helping Kyiv’s forces fire long-range Storm Shadow missiles, according to the leak in Russian media of a top-secret call involving German air force officers, authenticated by Berlin. During the conversation, Lt Gen Ingo Gerhartz, the head of the German air force, describes how the UK and Ukraine work to deploy Storm Shadow missiles against targets behind Russian lines.

“When it comes to mission planning,” the German commander says, “I know how the English do it, they do it completely in reachback. They also have a few people on the ground, they do that, the French don’t.”

Berlin has launched an investigation. Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius has described the leak of the conversation as part of Russia’s “information war” against the West, and said it is about “undermining our resolve”. On Monday, the German government sought to contain the domestic fallout from the leak and promised a quick investigation into how it was possible that a conversation by top German military personnel could be intercepted and published.

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Germany leak of UK tactics in Ukraine a security breach “worrying on many levels”

The UN atomic watchdog's director says he's heading to Moscow for talks on nuclear safety in Ukraine

Tuesday 5 March 2024 00:00 , Lydia Patrick

The U.N. atomic watchdog agency’s director said that he’s due to depart for a trip to Moscow on Tuesday for high-level talks with Russian officials to discuss the issue of nuclear safety in Ukraine.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi made the announcement on Monday, the first day of a regular meeting of the agency’s 35-nation board of governors in Vienna. There was no immediate confirmation of the trip from the Kremlin.

“The situation continues to be very fragile,” Grossi told reporters, referring to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant located in southeastern Ukraine.

The safety of the nuclear plant, which is Europe’s largest, is “of tremendous importance in terms of international peace and security,” he said.

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The UN atomic watchdog's director says he's heading to Moscow for talks on nuclear safety in Ukraine

EU aims to shift European arms industry to ‘war economy mode’

Monday 4 March 2024 23:00 , Lydia Patrick

The European Commission will propose on Tuesday ways for the European Union to boost its arms industry so it can shift to “war economy mode” in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Thierry Breton, the European industry commissioner, will lay out proposals to encourage EU countries to buy more weapons together from European companies, and to help such firms increase production capacity, according to EU officials.

“We need to change the paradigm and move into war economy mode. This also means that the European defence industry must take more risks, with our support,” said Breton, previewing the package.

Breton, a French former tech company CEO, has also said the possibility of another U.S. presidential term for Donald Trump - who has questioned Washington’s commitments to NATO - means Europe has to do more to protect itself.

“In the current geopolitical context, Europe must take greater responsibility for its own security, regardless of the outcome of our allies elections every four years, Breton said.

The alleged leak is a “matter for Germany”, says Downing Street

Monday 4 March 2024 21:45 , Sian Elvin

The prime minister’s official spokesman said the alleged leak is “obviously a matter for Germany to investigate and you’ve got the chancellor Scholz’s words on this”.

“I think he said that it’s clearly a very serious matter and that’s why it’s now being investigated very carefully,” he added.

“On our part, the UK was the first country to provide long-range precision strike missiles to Ukraine and we would encourage our allies to do the same. We have been clear from the outset that the UK would provide Ukraine with the necessary aid, including lethal support to defend itself and reclaim its sovereign territory.”

Will spending on Ukraine increase after the Budget?

Monday 4 March 2024 20:45 , Sian Elvin

Former Army chief Lord Dannatt said he would like to see defence spending increase by up to 4%.

But he revealed he does not expect chancellor Jeremy Hunt to do so in his spring Budget this Wednesday.

He added that there is a “very strong case to say we should be giving the Ukrainians more, to support them more”.

Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Budget on Wednesday (PA Wire)
Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Budget on Wednesday (PA Wire)

Former Army chief expresses “disappointment"

Monday 4 March 2024 19:30 , Sian Elvin

Former Army chief Lord Dannatt said the German air force officers who were caught talking on the unencrypted call should be “censured pretty heavily”.

He told Times Radio: “I was very disappointed to read that story. I think the German air force officers who were talking on an open line, frankly, they should be censured pretty heavily.

“They are suggesting that there are British people in Ukraine. It’s not for you or me to comment on that. We have provided a lot of equipment to them. We provided a lot of training.

“As far as I’m concerned, I think what they were talking about was whether they would or wouldn’t supply a German system akin to our Storm Shadow. I suspect that we do our training on Storm Shadow, either in this country or in Poland or elsewhere. It’s not for you or I to confirm or deny whether there are British military in Ukraine.”

UK says to treat Kremlin comments “with caution”

Monday 4 March 2024 18:30 , Sian Elvin

The prime minister’s official spokesman spoke of Western unity when asked about the alleged leak.

Reporters were told “it is clearly in the Kremlin’s interest to propagate misinformation” and “we should not fall into that trap”.

“We do have to treat anything coming out of the Kremlin with caution. As we know, Russia has a tendency to spread misinformation and disinformation and clearly it is in their interests to sow disunity amongst allies who are seeking to support the armed forces of Ukraine,” he added.

It is likely conversations between Germany and the UK will take place behind the scenes.

The spokesman would not be drawn on UK operations in Ukraine, but said there was a “small number of troops” providing training.

Leaked recording is wake-up call that we're Putin targets, German minister says

Monday 4 March 2024 17:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The leaked intercepted recording of Germany’s military discussions are a wake-up call, the country’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the daily Handelsblatt on Monday.

“It is a wake-up call that we are being targeted by (Russian President) Putin,” he said, referring to the leak as a hybrid attack by Russia.

“From what we know so far, no confidential information has been made public as a result of this Russian espionage attempt,” Lindner said, adding that no critical information was exchanged.

Monday 4 March 2024 17:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia‘s Security Council and an ally of President Vladimir Putin, described Ukraine on Monday as part of Russia and said what he called historical parts of Russia needed to “come home.”

In a bellicose presentation that suggested Russia‘s military goals in Ukraine are far-reaching, Medvedev, who was Russia‘s president from 2008-2012, praised the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and said Moscow would prosecute its “special military operation” until the Ukrainian leadership capitulated.

“One of Ukraine‘s former leaders said at some point that Ukraine is not Russia,” Medvedev, a hawk who diplomats say gives a flavour of the thinking inside the Kremlin, told a youth forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

“That concept needs to disappear forever. Ukraine is definitely Russia,” he said to applause. “Historic parts of the country need to come home.”

There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Medvedev and other top Russian officials of waging an illegal war of conquest and said Ukraine and its people are distinct from Russia and Russians.

As Sweden joins NATO, it bids farewell to more than two centuries of neutrality

Monday 4 March 2024 16:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Sweden‘s last war ended in 1814, and when the rifles and cannons it aimed at Norway fell silent, the once-warring power would not take up arms again.

For the next two centuries, Sweden embraced a policy of neutrality, refusing to take sides in wars or join any military alliance. It was a stance that kept peace at home and contributed to the country becoming a prosperous welfare state and humanitarian superpower.

As Sweden joins NATO, it bids farewell to more than two centuries of neutrality