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Ukraine-Russia – live: Russia ‘killing own troops with drones’ to prevent POW swaps

Kyiv’s military security services are claiming Russian forces are killing their own troops using drones so they can’t be captured.

Spokesman for the Tauride Defense Forces, Oleksandr Stupun, made the claim on Ukrainian national TV saying: “The fact is that the Russians do not allow their soldiers to surrender.

“There have even been cases when Russian drones have killed their own wounded.”

According to Ukrainian figures, over the past three weeks around 80 Russians have surrendered.

It came as a Ukrainian soldier on the frontline said he can “smell a Russian offensive coming”.

Dmytro Verbych, a soldier who took part in the main attack in the counteroffensive earlier this year, admitted his men were “exhausted” and “had lost the initiative”.

“We have a difficult winter and spring ahead, which smells like a Russian offensive,” he wrote in a local Ukrainian publication focused on the war. “The situation is truly ‘unfortunate’.”

Key Points

  • Ukraine launches dozens of drones towards occupied Crimea

  • Russia makes gains during increased attacks on devastated Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine

  • Day 650: What’s happening this morning in Ukraine? 5 December

  • US is running out of money for Ukraine and that could hinder fight against Russia, White House warns

Britain announces 46 new sanctions against Russia

11:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Britain on Wednesday announced 46 new sanctions against individuals and groups from different countries it said were involved in Russia‘s military supply chains and helping sustain its invasion of Ukraine.

Those sanctioned included entities operating in China, Serbia and Uzbekistan, Britain’s foreign ministry said.

G7 leaders to meet virtually on Wednesday with Ukraine’s Zelensky

10:59 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday with Ukraine‘s president, Volodomyr Zelensky, in a show of support for the country’s war against Russia, Japan said on Wednesday.

“We’d like to make clear that we stand with Ukraine as the G7” a Japanese government official said, adding the message would be reinforced amid concern that the international community’s focus could shift away from Ukraine to the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

The official, who declined to be named, said the G7 will reiterate its commitment to imposing strong sanctions on Russia for its attack on Ukraine, but details were being negotiated. The official did not elaborate.

A statement issued at the time said the restrictions would cover exports of industrial machinery, tools and technology and it would also try to limit Russian revenues from trade in metals and diamonds.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the G7 will also discuss the Middle East and artificial intelligence.

The White House announced earlier that the meeting will be held at 1430 GMT and will be closed to the media.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Putin arrives in Abu Dhabi

10:24 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Abu Dhabi, Russian state news agencies reported on Wednesday.

Putin is visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a rare trip abroad and will hold talks with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss oil, OPEC+ and the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

Zelensky abruptly cancels US Senate address as aid for Ukraine war hits dead end

09:51 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Volodymyr Zelensky unexpectedly cancelled his address to the US Senate where he would have appealed for fresh aid for the war in Ukraine, majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday.

Kyiv’s calls for multi-billion dollar military funding have been rejected by the Congress, leaving Ukraine out in the cold.

The war-time president has been pleading with his allies in the West for financial and military help against Russian forces as Moscow’s invasion clocked 650 days. The US is now showing signs of fatigue and disapproval for funding the war.

Zelensky abruptly cancels US Senate address as aid for Ukraine war hits dead end

Putin's forces and Kyiv's troops clash nearly 100 times in 24 hours across front

09:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s military has said it has clashed with Russian forces 97 times across the frontline over the last 24 hours, amid fierce fighting as Kyiv looks to defend its lines.

The general staff of the Ukrainian army said that it had repelled Russian attacks around Bakhmut and other areas of the east, and had pushed Vladimir Putin’s forces back around Zaporizhzhia in the south.

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

Nepal police arrest 10 for ‘smuggling’ youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine

09:11 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Nepal police arrested 10 people for allegedly sending unemployed youths to Russia for illegal recruitment into the army amid Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Kathmandu police said these people were charging up to $9,000 ( £7,143) per person to send them to Russia on a tourist visa and have them embedded in the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

The detention is part of the police’s campaign to discourage vulnerable men from fighting on the frontlines.

Nepal has been compelled to consolidate its diplomatic efforts following the deaths of at least six of its soldiers serving in the Russian military in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022. One Nepali soldier was captured by the Ukrainian army.

Nepal police arrest 10 for smuggling youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine

Ukraine claims Russia killing own troops with drones

08:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine claims Russia kiling own troops with drones

Andriy Yusov, from Ukrainian intelligence (HUR), told Kyiv Post that Russia had been killing their own troops rather than allow them to be captured by Ukraine.

He said the practice had been recorded “repeatedly, including by Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance using [drones].”

He added there were also cases of Russian units firing on their comrades trying to escape the front lines, he said: “Barrier units and killing their own soldiers is what the Russian army is really using against its own.

“Those who refuse to go into battle and carry out criminal orders or go on meat assaults. This is all a tactic of terror and intimidation of our own people in order to reduce the number of refuseniks, deserters, and those who voluntarily surrender.

“This is actually a reaction to the fact that there are quite a few people willing to surrender to Ukrainian captivity.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Russian distributor to launch sales of Adidas, Reebok goods- Kommersant

08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Russian distributor of Western sports brands will start selling Adidas and Reebok products as soon as this week, despite the companies’ departure from the market over the war in Ukraine, the Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday.

Adidas and Reebok were among hundreds of Western companies that decided to suspend business operations in Russia soon after Moscow launched its war in Ukraine in February 2022.

Adidas and rival Nike subsequently opted to leave the market completely. Authentic Brands Group-owned Reebok’s Russian business was taken over by Turkey’s FLO retailing, Kommersant daily reported in May 2022.

Russians have developed solutions to the brand exodus with small-scale imports and online sellers helping to keep foreign brands alive, particularly consumer goods that are not subject to sanctions.

Citing the head of the marketing department at Lestate, the distributor, Kommersant reported that the company will develop a network of mono-brand stores with goods from Adidas and Reebok.

Lestate already sells clothing and shoes from Nike in Russia, Kommersant reported. There was no suggestion that Adidas, Reebok or Nike were facilitating Lestate’s sale of their goods.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ukraine air force says Russia launches 48 attack drones

07:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia launched a total of 48 attack drones overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine‘s air force said on Wednesday, adding that its air defence systems destroyed 41 of the drones before they reached their target.

The air force said all of the attack drones were Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones.

It did not say what happened to the drones that were not downed or whether there was any damage from the attack.

US House Speaker Johnson insists on border security changes in exchange for aid to Ukraine

07:06 , Maira Butt

House Speaker Mike Johnson told fellow Republicans on Tuesday that sweeping changes to US border policy would be their “hill to die on” in negotiations over President Joe Biden’s nearly $106 billion package for the wars in Ukraine and Israel and other security needs.

Johnson delivered the hard-line message Tuesday morning before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s video address to senators, a classified briefing that the Biden administration organized to underscore how desperately the aid is needed.

Biden is pushing a reluctant Congress to approve the military, economic and humanitarian aid package, but the injection of border security into the negotiations has made progress difficult.

“The battle is for the border,” Johnson said at a news conference. “We do that first as a top priority, and we’ll take care of these other obligations.”

‘The battle is for the border,’ Johnson said at a news conference (Getty Images)
‘The battle is for the border,’ Johnson said at a news conference (Getty Images)

Zelensky thanks volunteers: 'They are another branch of our army’

06:07 , Maira Butt

On International Volunteer Day, Ukraine’s President Zelensky took to X, formerly known as Twitter to thank civilian volunteers.

He said: “On International Volunteer Day, we honor Ukrainian civilian volunteers. Symbolically, this day falls on the eve of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Day.

“Because our civilian volunteers are essentially another branch of our army and another source of strength for us.

“Our guard of the indifferent, our army of active Ukrainians.”

Ukraine to top agenda in Cameron visit to Washington

05:07 , Maira Butt

Support for Ukraine will top the agenda when Lord Cameron makes his first visit to the US as Foreign Secretary.

He will arrive in Washington later for a two-day visit, as world leaders grapple with the ongoing battle in Ukraine as well as the escalating crisis in Gaza.

The visit comes at a crunch time for Kyiv, with concerns about the provision of US military aid amid deep divisions in Congress about new funding and support.

The Foreign Secretary is expected to meet US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders as part of the trip.

Ahead of the Washington visit, Lord Cameron announced a £37 million package of winter humanitarian support for the country as it continues to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Lord Cameron said: “The UK and the US are deeply bound by a shared mission to defend the values that provide security and prosperity for us all.

“That is why we remain unwavering in our support of Ukraine. If we allow Putin’s aggression to succeed, it will embolden those who challenge democracy and threaten our way of life. We cannot let them prevail.”

David Cameron reiterated that continuing support for Ukraine would be a priority (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
David Cameron reiterated that continuing support for Ukraine would be a priority (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

In case you missed it: What the Republican candidates have said on the war in Ukraine

04:09 , Maira Butt

Gustaf Kilander and Ariana Baio report:

As President Joe Biden likes to remind anyone who will listen, “This is not your grandfather’s Republican Party”.

That has never been more evident than when examining the way the 2024 Republican presidential candidates approach the topic of Ukraine.

Support for Ukraine is dividing the GOP field. Several candidates believe the US should continue to support the war effort – a stance that adheres to more traditional Republican foreign policy beliefs.

For years, leaders in the GOP like George W Bush sounded alarms about Russia and supported Nato membership for Ukraine.

But in more recent years, notably under former president Donald Trump, modern conservatives have embraced isolationism.

Read the full piece here.

US imposes new round of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

03:05 , Maira Butt

The US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Belgian involved in procuring electronics for the Russian military, his companies and a group of Belarusian firms and people tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted a network led by Belgium-based Hans De Geetere, which included nine entities and five people across Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. They are accused of being involved with procuring military-grade equipment for Russia.

Also on Tuesday, the US Justice Department unsealed two indictments against Hans De Geetere and the Commerce Department added him and five firms to its entity list.

US sanctions block access to US property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans.

De Geetere did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment through email.

Read the full piece here.

Dutch government announces $8 million in support for Ukraine

02:05 , Maira Butt

The Netherland’s foreign minister, Hanke Bruins Slot, visited Kyiv on Tuesday to sign an agreement announcing $8 million in aid to Ukraine to assist with law enforcement in territories liberated from Russian occupation.

The European Union Advisory Mission announced the initiative on its website stating:

“The Ukrainian Government faces tremendous challenges in re-establishing security and safety, in getting basic services and public institutions to function, and not least in rebuilding social cohesion, in those areas liberated thanks to the determined actions of the Ukrainian Defence Forces.

“The Ukrainian law enforcement agencies take on a host of new tasks once they arrive in the liberated areas. They have to build mine awareness among civilians, not least with children.

“They must engage in community policing to resolve disputes and de-escalate possible tensions. And not least, they must act quickly to investigate possible war crimes, before crime scenes become contaminated, or victims and witnesses disperse.”

Dutch Foreign Minister Bruins Slot and her Ukrainian counterpart Kuleba shake hands before a joint press conference in Kyiv (REUTERS)
Dutch Foreign Minister Bruins Slot and her Ukrainian counterpart Kuleba shake hands before a joint press conference in Kyiv (REUTERS)

In pictures: Ukrainian army takes part in anti-sabotage drills in Chernihiv

01:06 , Maira Butt

Ukrainian service members attend anti-sabotage drills in Chernihiv region (REUTERS)
Ukrainian service members attend anti-sabotage drills in Chernihiv region (REUTERS)
Ukraine service members take part in drills as part of training for war (REUTERS)
Ukraine service members take part in drills as part of training for war (REUTERS)
Zelensky said the weather had complicated Ukraine’s military strategy (REUTERS)
Zelensky said the weather had complicated Ukraine’s military strategy (REUTERS)

Zelensky hosts Dutch foreign minister

00:15 , Maira Butt

Ukraine’s President Zelensky met with Hanke Bruins Slot, the Dutch foreign minister on Tuesday.

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

“Today, I hosted Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot in Kyiv for a substantive meeting.

“We focused on frontline developments, the needs of our defenders, and the training of our F-16 pilots.

“We also discussed the operation of our alternative maritime export corridor and ways to strengthen its security, as well as the Peace Formula and Ukraine’s EU integration.

“I am grateful to the Netherlands for its strong support for Ukraine.”

Nato has three years to prepare for attack by Russia, says Poland

Tuesday 5 December 2023 23:10 , Maira Butt

New fears of Russian escalation across Europe have emerged after a German think tank said Western countries must prepare for a direct attack from Russia.

In a statement the German Council on Foreign Relations wrote: “With its imperial ambitions, Russia represents the greatest and most ­urgent threat to Nato countries.

“Once intensive fighting will have ended in Ukraine, the regime in Moscow may need as little as six to ten years to reconstitute its armed forces.

“Within that timeframe, Germany and Nato must enable their armed forces to deter and, if necessary, fight against Russia. Only then will they be in a position to reduce the risk of another war breaking out in Europe.”

But, the head of Poland’s national security agency estimated that Russia could attack Nato countries within three years in an interview with Nasz Dziennik.

Read the full piece here.

Ukraine claims Russia kiling own troops with drones

Tuesday 5 December 2023 22:28 , Barney Davis

Andriy Yusov, from Ukrainian intelligence (HUR), told Kyiv Post that Russia had been killing their own troops rather than allow them to be captured by Ukraine.

He said the practice had been recorded “repeatedly, including by Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance using [drones].”

He added there were also cases of Russian units firing on their comrades trying to escape the front lines, he said: “Barrier units and killing their own soldiers is what the Russian army is really using against its own.

“Those who refuse to go into battle and carry out criminal orders or go on meat assaults. This is all a tactic of terror and intimidation of our own people in order to reduce the number of refuseniks, deserters, and those who voluntarily surrender.

“This is actually a reaction to the fact that there are quite a few people willing to surrender to Ukrainian captivity.”

Ukrainian service members attend anti-sabotage drills in Chernihiv region (REUTERS)
Ukrainian service members attend anti-sabotage drills in Chernihiv region (REUTERS)

Boy, 8, performs in burn mask at ballroom dance after Russian missile attack

Tuesday 5 December 2023 22:15 , Maira Butt

An eight-year-old Ukrainian boy who was wounded by a Russian missile strike on the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia has returned to school.

Roman Oleksiv has had over a year of skin grafts and over 30 surgeries after being injured in one of the deadliest single strikes since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country last year.

He took part in a ballroom dance competition on Tuesday, wearing a full burn mask.

Roman was waiting with his mother at the doctor when the attack happened, she did not survive.

She was among 28 people killed, while Roman suffered shrapnel wounds, a broken arm and burns over 45% of his body. After medics in Lviv stabilised him, he was sent to a specialist burns unit in Dresden, Germany, where he spent nearly a year undergoing more than 30 rounds of surgery.

He is now back in Lviv, and, while he must return to Dresden regularly for treatment, Roman has begun to settle back into daily life with the help of his father, Yaroslav.

“We did not know whether he would be able to walk, move his hand or his fingers,” Yaroslav told Reuters at the school, his hand around Roman‘s shoulder. He explained that his son was not in a state to speak to the media yet.

Roman, wounded by Russian missile strike last year, wears a burn mask as he takes part in a ballroom dance competition, in Lviv (REUTERS)
Roman, wounded by Russian missile strike last year, wears a burn mask as he takes part in a ballroom dance competition, in Lviv (REUTERS)
His father said he was not in a position to speak to the media yet (REUTERS)
His father said he was not in a position to speak to the media yet (REUTERS)
Roman returned to school after experiencing serious injuries and burns (REUTERS)
Roman returned to school after experiencing serious injuries and burns (REUTERS)

US House speaker wants more info on Ukraine strategy before approving aid

Tuesday 5 December 2023 21:03 , Maira Butt

Mike Johnson, the US House Speaker, reiterated his request for further information on Ukraine’s strategy before approving aid on Tuesday.

“I reiterate that President Biden must satisfy Congressional oversight inquiries about the Administration’s failure thus far to present clearly defined objectives, and its failure to provide essential weapons (for Ukraine) on a timely basis,” Johnson said in a letter released on Tuesday.

Johnson released his letter in response to one from White House budget director Shalanda Young on Monday in which she warned that Washington was running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war against Russia.

Biden administration officials were due to conduct classified briefings on the situation in Ukraine for members of Congress on Tuesday - the House starting in late morning and the Senate in the afternoon.

House Speaker Johnson asked for more clarity on strategic objectives before approving more aid (REUTERS)
House Speaker Johnson asked for more clarity on strategic objectives before approving more aid (REUTERS)

Cameron: Aid to Ukraine will be the ‘same’ or ‘ahead’ of past commitments

Tuesday 5 December 2023 20:15 , Maira Butt

Lord Cameron was unable to tell peers how much military aid the UK would give to Ukraine next year, but assured them it would be the same “or even ahead” of past commitments.

In the House of Lords on Tuesday, crossbench peer Baroness Meacher asked the foreign secretary:

“What commitment can the foreign secretary make in terms of what weapons and how much are we spending on weapons for 2024 for Ukraine?”

Lord Cameron responded: “I don’t have the figure here for what 2024 will provide. All I can say is we are absolutely committed to continuing to support Ukraine at the level or even ahead of what we have done.”

David Cameron said on Tuesday: ‘We are absolutely committed to continuing to support Ukraine' (PA)
David Cameron said on Tuesday: ‘We are absolutely committed to continuing to support Ukraine' (PA)

Russian attacks kill three and destroys Ukrainian aid centre

Tuesday 5 December 2023 19:30 , Maira Butt

Russian forces hit an aid centre, a medical building and residences in Ukraine‘s southern and eastern regions, killing three people and injuring at least 11, officials said on Tuesday.

The morning shelling on the southern city of Kherson is also reported to have injured four doctors when a Russian projectile hit a medical building, according to Roman Mrochko, head of the city’s military administration in a message on Telegram.

In an overnight missile strike on the city, the humanitarian centre “I am Kherson” was targeted, destroying stockpiles of aid, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement. No personnel or visitors were hurt, it said.

Local officials said Russia fired two S-300 missiles, also damaging residential buildings nearby.

“We endured a sleepless night due to the relentless explosions as we witnessed our hub engulfed in flames. At dawn, the devastating aftermath revealed nearly everything reduced to ashes,” Nataliia Humenna, project coordinator at the centre, was quoted as saying by IRC.

Ukraine sees ‘big risk’ of losing war if US Congress postpones vital aid

Tuesday 5 December 2023 18:46 , Maira Butt

President Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, has warned that any postponement of aid would run the risk of Ukraine losing its war against Russia.

“If the help which (is) now debating in Congress will be just postponed...it gives the big risk that we can be in the same position to which we’re located now,” he said, addressing the audience in English.

“And of course, it makes this very high possibility impossible to continually liberate and give the big risk to lose this war.”

White House officials said on Monday that the United States was running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war against Russia but they were hopeful they could still get a significant package approved.

David Cameron: UK could do more to help Ukraine

Tuesday 5 December 2023 18:00 , Maira Butt

The UK’s defence industries could do more to produce weapon stocks in order to help arm Ukraine according to Lord David Cameron.

As he responded to Lord Robertson in his first questions in the House of Lords, the foreign secretary said: “I think the one area where we can do more is in trying to mobilise the British defence industries to produce the stocks that are needed rather than simply running down stocks.

“We can also work with European allies. Sometimes if they are reluctant to give support they may be able to backfill some of our capabilities and we can give more.

“I am absolutely clear, the military support is essential. That is what is helping Ukraine to succeed.”

Lord Cameron said more could be done to help Ukraine in the House of Lords on Tuesday (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
Lord Cameron said more could be done to help Ukraine in the House of Lords on Tuesday (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

US issues fresh Russia-related sanctions targeting Belarus

Tuesday 5 December 2023 17:15 , Maira Butt

The United States imposed fresh Russia-related sanctions on Tuesday, targeting a defense procurement network consisting of people and entities in Belgium, Sweden and Hong Kong, among other places, as Washington cracks down on Moscow’s evasion of Western sanctions.

“The United States and our allies remain focused on disrupting any attempts by Russia or its trusted agents to gain access to the critical inputs and technologies necessary to support Moscow’s defense industry and facilitate its brutal war in Ukraine,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.

The US Treasury Department separately imposed sanctions on 11 entities and seven people in a move it said was aimed at increasing the pressure on Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko over what it called his suppression of democratic civil society, corrupt financial enrichment of his family and complicity in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Russia confirms death of seventh major general since invasion of Ukraine

Tuesday 5 December 2023 16:03 , Tom Watling

Russia has confirmed the death of a seventh major general since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a week after local reports said he was killed by a landmine placed by his own side.

Major general Vladimir Zavadsky, deputy commander of Russia’s 14th Army Corps, died “at a combat post in the special operation zone”, said Alexander Gusev, governor of Russia’s Voronezh region. Russia uses the term “special military operation” to describe its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian official called Zavadsky a “much-decorated officer” and a former tank commander, adding that his death was a heavy loss that caused “transfixing pain”. He did not give any further details of how the death occurred.

Russia confirms death of seventh major general since invasion of Ukraine

Live: David Cameron takes first questions on Ukraine from peers in the House of Lords

Tuesday 5 December 2023 15:29 , Tom Watling

UK's Cameron, China's Yi discussed intention to have 'constructive relationship'

Tuesday 5 December 2023 15:00 , Tom Watling

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Tuesday and the pair had discussed their “intention to have a constructive relationship”.

“The UK will continue to engage with China where it furthers our interests,” Cameron said in a post on X, adding that they had also discussed the situation in Israel and Gaza, and the war in Ukraine.

David Cameron said he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Tuesday (Getty Images)
David Cameron said he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Tuesday (Getty Images)

Nepal calls on Russia not to deploy its Gurkhas in Ukraine war

Tuesday 5 December 2023 14:29 , Tom Watling

Nepal has called on Russia to stop sending its Gurkha soldiers to fight on the frontline in Ukraine after a series of losses sparked anger back home.

The Nepali government said six soldiers serving in the Russian military have died in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022, Nepali prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said.

“The government of Nepal has requested the Russian government to immediately return their bodies and pay compensation to their families,” the foreign ministry said late on Monday.

Nepal calls on Russia not to deploy its Gurkhas in Ukraine war

Hungary's Orban to meet Macron ahead of EU summit

Tuesday 5 December 2023 14:02 , Tom Watling

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday, his press chief has said, ahead of a European Union summit at which talks on Ukraine‘s joining the bloc and financial aid for Kyiv will meet resistance from the populist Hungarian leader.

Mr Orban on Monday demanded that the leaders’ summit avoid taking any decision on giving Ukraine the green light for membership talks and deciding a budget plan that includes 50 billion euros ($54 billion) in economic support for Kyiv.

Mr Orban, who has maintained ties with Moscow even as the EU has imposed sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, is at odds with the EU’s executive body on his stance.

Any decision on accession talks requires the unanimous support of EU leaders.

Prime Minister Orban insisted that a ‘strategic discussion’ take place first to avoid ‘unity for unity’s sake’ (REUTERS)
Prime Minister Orban insisted that a ‘strategic discussion’ take place first to avoid ‘unity for unity’s sake’ (REUTERS)

White House warns US is running out of money for Ukraine war

Tuesday 5 December 2023 13:28 , Tom Watling

The White House has issued a grave warning to Congress that if it fails to pass legislation by the end of the year to continue funding Ukraine’s defence, then Russia will be more likely to win the nearly two-year-old war.

In a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda said that the Defense and State departments are at the stage where they have almost exhausted all available US funds for Kyiv — approximately $111bn — leaving recent assistance packages smaller and smaller.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from US military stocks,” she said.

White House warns US is running out of money for Ukraine war

Zelensky is turning into an autocrat, says Kyiv mayor Klitschko

Tuesday 5 December 2023 12:45 , Tom Watling

Volodymyr Zelensky is becoming increasingly autocratic and is pushing Ukraine to a point at which it will no longer be any different from Russia, a former heavyweight boxing champion turned mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has claimed.

It is unprecedented critism of the Ukrainian president since Russia’s invasion almost two years ago and comes as Kyiv’s counteroffensive against the forces of Vladimir Putin has stalled.

Mr Klitschko told the Swiss media outlet 20 Minuten: “People [are beginning to] see who’s effective and who’s not. And there were and still are a lot of expectations. Zelensky is paying for mistakes he has made.”

Zelensky is turning into an autocrat, says Kyiv mayor Klitschko

Six Ukrainian children to be returned from Russia through Qatari mediation

Tuesday 5 December 2023 12:15 , Tom Watling

Six Ukrainian children will be returned to Ukraine from Russia under a deal brokered by Qatar, a Qatari official said on Tuesday, with a source involved in organising the returns saying they had been staying with relatives in Russia or Russian-occupied territory.

The children are en route to Ukraine via Moscow, the source added.

This is the second phase of a Qatar-mediated return of children, after four minors were returned in October.

Negotiations on the returns had been underway since at least April 2023, a source said in July.

Qatar agreed to a Ukrainian request to mediate with Russia on the return of children to their immediate families during a visit to Ukraine in July 2023 by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

Ukrainian soldier on frontline says he can ‘smell an incoming Russian offensive’

Tuesday 5 December 2023 11:42 , Tom Watling

A Ukrainian soldier has admitted that he and his colleagues are preparing for a “difficult winter and spring ahead”, adding that it “smells like a Russian offensive” is imminent.

Dmytro Verbych, writing for the Ukrainian publication Novynarnya, which means “Newsroom” in English, said he had “lost a lot of quality people” in the past few months.

He is stationed in Robotyne, southern Ukraine, where the main thrust of the counteroffensive took place, but said he knew in June, when the attack started, that “it would be a failure”.

Writing in the wake of the counteroffensive, he said: “We are exhausted. We have lost the initiative. We have a difficult winter and spring ahead, which smells like a Russian offensive. The situation is truly ‘unfortunate’.

“The main deficit is not drones, shells or equipment. We lost a lot of quality people . And those who remained are exhausted and unmotivated.”

He and his forces currently reside in a bulge in the Russian frontline, having made small advances during their months-long attack.

Subsequently, they are surrounded on three sides by Russian forces and are at a heightened risk of a Russian counterattack.

A Ukrainian soldier of the 65th Mechanized Brigade walks past a destroyed car, next to the trenches built by Russian forces, and that were captured by the Ukrainian army, near the frontline village of Robotyne, in the Zaporizhzhia region, on 1 October 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian soldier of the 65th Mechanized Brigade walks past a destroyed car, next to the trenches built by Russian forces, and that were captured by the Ukrainian army, near the frontline village of Robotyne, in the Zaporizhzhia region, on 1 October 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

Zelensky and top US officials to make case for Ukraine funding to Congress

Tuesday 5 December 2023 11:03 , Tom Watling

Ukraine president Volodomyr Zelensky and top aides to US President Joe Biden will make their case to US senators on Tuesday about why a fresh infusion of military assistance is needed to help Ukraine repel Russian invaders.

The Ukrainian wartime leader was invited to address the upper chamber of Congress by the Senate majority leader after the lower chamber, known as the House of Representatives, was warned on Monday that if they continue to block aid to Ukraine, financial and military support will run out by the end of the year - leading to potential Russian advances on the battlefield.

Mr Biden’s administration in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion (£84bn) to pay for ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and US border security, but Republicans who control the House with a slim majority rejected the package.

A variety of top Biden officials, including Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, are expected to brief the senators on Tuesday.

Senate leader Mick Schumer also started the process of advancing a Ukraine-Israel emergency aid bill on the Senate floor.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will address Senators later today (Brenden Smialowski via Reuters)
President Volodymyr Zelensky and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will address Senators later today (Brenden Smialowski via Reuters)

Isolated Putin set for ‘working visits’ to UAE and Saudi Arabia as rest of world discusses climate action at Cop28

Tuesday 5 December 2023 10:30 , Tom Watling

Vladimir Putin is reportedly set to travel this week to meet with oil-producing allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in a trip that serves to highlight the Russian president’s international isolation over his war against Ukraine.

Just days after more than 100 world leaders walked together down the flag-lined boulevard at Cop28 in Dubai for a “family photo” at the start of crucial UN climate talks, the absent Russian president will instead make his own “working visit” to the UAE.

That will then be followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia, where Mr Putin will sit down for negotiation mainly with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov.

Isolated Putin set for his own ‘working visits’ to UAE and Saudi Arabia

Iranian president Raisi to travel to Russia on Thursday

Tuesday 5 December 2023 09:57 , Tom Watling

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi will travel to Russia on Thursday along with a political and economic delegation, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday.

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was in Moscow on Tuesday to attend a Caspian littoral states meeting.

Moscow and Tehran have boosted security, political and economic ties since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 as both countries are targeted by US sanctions. Iran has also been accused of supplying Russia with deadly kamikaze drones.

Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in September (Copyright 2022 Sputnik)
Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in September (Copyright 2022 Sputnik)

Russia making ‘creeping advances’ in eastern Ukraine, says British MoD

Tuesday 5 December 2023 09:30 , Tom Watling

Russian forces are making “creeping advances” around Donetsk City in eastern Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence brief, as the Kremlin looks to take control of the entire region.

The update said Russia “likely controls most of the built-up area” of Marinka, a small town to the west of Donetsk City.

The area has been on the frontline of the Russia-Ukraine conflict since Kremlin proxy forces, nicknamed “little green men”, took control of parts of the region in 2014.

The briefing said: “Over recent weeks Russian forces have made creeping advances through the ruins of Marinka, a town in Donetsk Oblast. Russia now likely controls most of the built-up area. However, Ukrainian forces remain in control of pockets of territory on the western edge of the town.

“Russia’s renewed efforts against Marinka are part of Russia’s autumn offensive which is prioritising extending Russia’s control over the remaining parts of the Donetsk Oblast – highly likely still one of the Kremlin’s core war aims.”

Marinka is just 17 miles southwest of Avdiivka, a town that has been razed almost entirely to the ground by Russian forces in the past couple of months.

Two killed in Russian strike on southern Ukraine

Tuesday 5 December 2023 08:59 , Tom Watling

At least two people were killed and three wounded after Russian forces shelled the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, local authorities have said.

Regional prosecutors opened a war crimes investigation into one of the strikes, which occurred around 9 am local time and killed a 48-year-old man and a woman who had not yet been identified.

“Terrorists,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine‘s presidential administration, posted on Telegram along with two images of bodies laying on a sidewalk.

Kherson Mayor Roman Mrochko said two doctors had been wounded in a separate artillery strike on a medical facility early on Tuesday.

Russian forces have regularly shelled Kherson since retreating from the regional capital late last year to the other side of the Dnipro River.

Russia presses attacks on devastated Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine

Tuesday 5 December 2023 08:30 , Tom Watling

Russian forces intensified attacks on Monday on the pulverised town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian officials said, as Moscow’s military presses its slow advance through eastern Ukraine.

The town is just 12 miles north of the Russian-held city of Donetsk, part of the eastern Donbas region which Russia‘s military has been fighting to control since failing to take Kyiv at the start of its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The Institute for the Study of War wrote that Russia had made confirmed gains in the area.

They wrote in their overnight assessment: “Geolocated footage published on December 4 shows that Russian forces advanced near the reservoir area directly north of Avdiivka. Additional geolocated footage published on December 4 shows that Russian forces have advanced within Stepove (5km northwest of Avdiivka).”

Ukrainian officials acknowledge that not a single building remains intact in the town. Fighting has also raged around two other nearby towns, Maryinka and Bakhmut.

“Yesterday and today, we have seen a significant increase in artillery shelling ... and a great many instances of mortar shelling,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, told national television.

“There has also been an increase in assault actions. They are probably waiting for better weather to use some of their equipment again as they did previously, but on a larger scale.”

Avdiivka was seized for a time in 2014 by Russian-financed separatists, but retaken by Ukrainian troops who put major fortifications in place.

Ukrainian soldiers are seen in a tank as Russia and Ukraine war continues in the direction of Avdiivka (Anadolu via Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers are seen in a tank as Russia and Ukraine war continues in the direction of Avdiivka (Anadolu via Getty Images)

What’s happening this morning in Ukraine?

Tuesday 5 December 2023 07:57 , Tom Watling

Below is a brief wrap-up of what has happened in Ukraine overnight and this morning.

- Russia and Ukraine exchanged drone attacks overnight, according to the armed forces of both sides. The Russian ministry of defence claimed they shot down 26 of 41 drones fired by Ukraine. The Ukrainian air forces said they intercepted 10 of 17 drones fired by Russian forces.

- On the frontline, Russian forces carried out “significantly increased artillery and mortar shelling” on Monday on the pulverised town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian officials said. The town is the latest flashpoint on the 600-mile combat line.

- Overseas, White House officials sent a letter of warning to House speaker Mike Johnson that the funding for Ukraine will run out by the end of this year unless the lower chamber of Congress, run by a razor thin Republican majority, stops blocking the Biden administration’s multibillion dollar proposals.

- US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, who oversees the upper chamber of Congress, announced after the White House warning that he had invited Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to address US senators. He said that senators should “hear directly from [Zelensky] precisely what’s at stake”. That will take place later today.

- On the Poland-Ukraine border, the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki called on the European Union to restore permits limiting transit for Ukrainian truckers as a spat between the two nations continues. Polish drivers have been blocking the crossings since 6 November demanding the restoration of permits. Slovakia and Hungary have also expressed frustration at what they view as cheaper Ukrainian goods and workers undercutting their domestic offerings.

A Ukrainian serviceman stands next to residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in the front line town of Avdiivka (REUTERS)
A Ukrainian serviceman stands next to residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in the front line town of Avdiivka (REUTERS)
Police officers stand as trucks belonging to different Polish transport company owners block the access to Polish-Ukraine border crossing in protest against ‘unfair' competition in Hrebenne, Poland (AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers stand as trucks belonging to different Polish transport company owners block the access to Polish-Ukraine border crossing in protest against ‘unfair' competition in Hrebenne, Poland (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen who sustained concussions or minor injuries are recovering in a field hospital near a frontline in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen who sustained concussions or minor injuries are recovering in a field hospital near a frontline in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)

Russian air defence systems destroy 41 Ukraine-launched drones -Russian defence ministry

Tuesday 5 December 2023 07:30 , Tom Watling

Russian air defence systems destroyed or intercepted a total of 41 drones launched overnight and early this morning by Ukraine, the Russian defence ministry has claimed.

Twenty-six of the drones were destroyed over Russian territory, and 15 were intercepted over the Sea of Azov and the Crimean Peninsula, the ministry said in a statement on its Telegram channel.

The ministry did not say whether there was any damage caused by the attack or falling debris.

Ukraine says it downs 10 of 17 Russian drones during overnight strike

Tuesday 5 December 2023 07:23 , Tom Watling

Ukraine‘s military shot down 10 out of 17 attack drones launched overnight by Russia, authorities said on Tuesday.

Kyiv’s air force said the drones were shot down over “various regions” of the country.

It also said six S-300 missiles had been launched at civilian objects in the eastern Donetsk and southern Kherson regions.

There were no immediate reports of damages.

A deminer touches the wreckage of a retrieved S-300 rocket, which fell a few months ago in the Dnipro river (REUTERS)
A deminer touches the wreckage of a retrieved S-300 rocket, which fell a few months ago in the Dnipro river (REUTERS)

Ukraine agricultural exports hit 5 million tons

Tuesday 5 December 2023 07:05 , Maira Butt

Ukraine has so far exported almost 5 million metric tons of agricultural products via its alternative Black Sea corridor, Deputy Prime Minister Oleksander Kubrakov said on Monday.

Kubrakov said a total of 200 ships had exported 7 million metric tons of cargo of all types from the Black Sea ports since the corridor was set up in August after Russia quit a UN-backed Black Sea grain initiative.

He said a further 31 ships were being loaded at the moment, but gave no details on the type of cargo they would carry.

Hundreds of Ukrainian truck drivers stuck in long queues in Slovakia during winter conditions (Anadolu via Getty Images)
Hundreds of Ukrainian truck drivers stuck in long queues in Slovakia during winter conditions (Anadolu via Getty Images)

Zelensky commends mobile firing groups as they destroy 18 drones

Tuesday 5 December 2023 05:57 , Maira Butt

President Zelensky confirmed 18 drones were destroyed by mobile firing groups in a video message on Monday.

“I thank everyone who trains the warriors of such groups and who works to provide them with everything they need.

“Last night the mobile firing groups in Mykolaiv, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kirovorhad regions worked well.”

He also added: “The International Maritime Organization’s Assembly adopted a resolution today in support of our efforts in the Black Sea, Ukraine’s success in restoring freedom of navigation, and the work of our new grain corridor. Ukraine’s export corridor has surpassed seven million tons of cargo.

“This is very significant for our economy, and not only ports and agrarians, but also many other sectors. Millions of jobs in Ukraine are dependent on exports that our state can guarantee. And I am grateful to everyone all across the world who is assisting Ukraine with this.

“The IMO will be among those who support our efforts, and a decision has been made to evaluate the level of technical assistance required to ensure the normal functioning of the maritime corridor.”

Polish minister speaks with truck drivers at Ukraine border

Tuesday 5 December 2023 04:55 , Maira Butt

Polish minister for infrasructure, Alvin Gajadhur, was seen speaking with protesting truck drivers on Monday.

Polish drivers have been blocking the crossings between Ukraine and Poland since 6 November as they demand that the EU reinstate a system whereby Ukrainian companies need permits to operate in the bloc and the same for European truckers to enter Ukraine.

They have been joined by Polish farmers, and also Slovakian truckers. They complain that their Ukrainian peers offer cheaper prices for their services and also transport goods within the EU, rather than just between the bloc and Ukraine.

Mr Gajadhur announced that he would submit a draft proposal to the Council of Ministers, in a bid to resolve the dispute.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Poland’s Ministry of Infrastructure said:

“The regulations will increase the effectiveness of control, and the assumptions are consistent with the demands of the social side.”

Poland’s minister of infrastructure visited striking truckers at the border of Poland and Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
Poland’s minister of infrastructure visited striking truckers at the border of Poland and Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
The transport blockade has been going on for nearly a month (AFP via Getty Images)
The transport blockade has been going on for nearly a month (AFP via Getty Images)

Biden administration warns House and Senate impasse will ‘kneecap’ Ukraine

Tuesday 5 December 2023 03:51 , Maira Butt

The Biden administration on Monday sent Congress an urgent warning about the need to approve tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Ukraine, saying Kyiv’s war effort to defend itself from Russia’s invasion may grind to a halt without it.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders and released publicly, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned the U.S. will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year, saying that would “kneecap“ Ukraine on the battlefield.

She added that the U.S. already has run out of money that it has used to prop up Ukraine‘s economy, and “if Ukraine‘s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting, full stop.”

“We are out of money — and nearly out of time,” she wrote.

Biden administration warns impasse could ‘kneecap’ Ukraine amid concerns of resources running out (REUTERS)
Biden administration warns impasse could ‘kneecap’ Ukraine amid concerns of resources running out (REUTERS)

Three including 8-year-old girl confirmed dead in Russian attack

Tuesday 5 December 2023 02:59 , Maira Butt

The death toll from a Russian attack on the town of Novohrodivka has risen to three, after rescuers retrieved the body of an eight-year-old girl on Monday.

Authorities were still looking for the girl’s parents but suspected they may be under the rubble after the attack on a residential building, according to Reuters.

“As of the morning, the girl’s body was recovered from the rubble. The child’s parents, who are probably still under the rubble, were not found,” Oleksandr Shevchenko, the head of local administration, said on Telegram.

Governor confirms Russian officer killed while deployed in Ukraine

Tuesday 5 December 2023 01:51 , Maira Butt

In a rare admission, Russian officials have acknowledged the deaths of a number of high-ranking servicemen in the war with Ukraine.

According to Barron’s, Voronezh governor Alexander Gusev said on Telegram: “A piercing pain. Major General Vladimir Zavadsky, deputy commander of the 14th Army Corps of the Northern Fleet, died in the line of duty in a special operation zone.”

Gusev called Zavadsky “a courageous officer, a real general and a worthy man,” but did not specify the circumstances of his death.

In case you missed it: Putin orders Russian military to increase troop numbers by 170,000

Tuesday 5 December 2023 01:03 , Maira Butt

Shweta Sharma reports:

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.

Read the full piece here.

Zelensky: ‘Our goal is to protect and strengthen our independence'

Monday 4 December 2023 23:51 , Maira Butt

Amid concerns around funding and ongoing instability in the Middle East, Ukraine’s President Zelensky took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to reiterate his mission in the ongoing conflict against Russia.

He said: “Our goal is to protect and strengthen our independence, to safeguard our people, and to restore a normal, decent life to the maximum extent possible.

“I am grateful to everyone who is fighting and working for this.”

In pictures: The latest on Ukraine

Monday 4 December 2023 22:51 , Maira Butt

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said that the Defense and State departments are at the stage where they have almost exhausted all available US funds for Kyiv (REUTERS)
Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said that the Defense and State departments are at the stage where they have almost exhausted all available US funds for Kyiv (REUTERS)
Zelensky thanked his ‘friends’ in the international community as he defence agreements with partners continued to be implemented. (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
Zelensky thanked his ‘friends’ in the international community as he defence agreements with partners continued to be implemented. (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said a vote against funding for Ukraine would ‘hurt demoracy and help dictators’ (EPA)
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said a vote against funding for Ukraine would ‘hurt demoracy and help dictators’ (EPA)