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Ukraine-Russia war: Putin's forces 'advancing on all fronts'

Yevhen Tkachov, 54, carries Nelia, 85, to a shelter for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kostiantynivka, Ukraine
Yevhen Tkachov, 54, carries Nelia, 85, to a shelter for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kostiantynivka, Ukraine - ALINA SMUTKO/REUTERS

Russia has claimed its troops are advancing along every section of the Ukrainian front, despite observers seeing little movement.

“Our servicemen are acting competently and decisively, occupying a more favourable position and expanding their zones of control in all directions,” Russia’s defence minister, General Sergei Shoigu, said.

The front lines in Ukraine have barely shifted in 2023 but fighting has remained intense. The latest major flashpoint is the eastern town of Avdiivka, which Russian forces are attempting to encircle.

Moscow’s claim of progress came hours after Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian defences must quickly be beefed up across the front line.

“In all major sectors where reinforcement is needed, [we must] speed up building of structures,” the Ukrainian leader said after meeting commanders in some of the main pressure points in the south and east.


03:01 PM GMT

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02:57 PM GMT

Counteroffensive ‘didn’t achieve desired results,’ Zelensky admits

Ukraine’s counteroffensive did not achieve its “desired results,” Volodymr Zelensky has said, as he admitted they wanted “faster results”.

The Ukrainian president told the Associated Press: “We wanted faster results. From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact.”

Ukraine did not get all the weapons it needed from allies, he said, and limits in the size of [our] military force precluded a quick advance, he said.

“There is not enough power to achieve the desired results faster. But this does not mean that we should give up, that we have to surrender,” Mr Zelensky said. “We are confident in our actions. We fight for what is ours.”

He added that he was “satisfied” and said Ukraine was “not backing down”.

Elsewhere in the interview, he admitted that “only the blind” cannot see the consequences of international attention shifting because of the tragedy in the Middle East, adding that Ukraine had to “fight for attention”.


02:52 PM GMT

Ukraine says some measures agreed with Poland to ease border situation

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said it had agreed with Poland on some measures which could help ease the situation at border crossings blocked by Polish truckers but that protesters’ main demands have not been on the agenda.

Protests by truckers over what they see as unfair competition from their Ukrainian peers started on Nov. 6, with four border crossings now under blockade.

A Ukrainian senior official said this would reduce the country’s overall imports by about a fifth in November and could cost one percentage point of GDP growth if they drag on.

In a statement on its website, the ministry said that a request to reintroduce a permit system for Ukrainian truckers entering the European Union - one of the main demands of Polish protesters - had not been discussed.


02:36 PM GMT

Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier stands next to residential buildings damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in Avdiivka

A Ukrainian serviceman stands next to residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in Avdiivka
A Ukrainian serviceman stands next to residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent Russian military strikes in Avdiivka - RFE/RL/SERHII NUZHNENKO/REUTERS

02:35 PM GMT

Nato chief tells Turkey's Erdogan that 'the time has come' to let Sweden join the alliance

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he has told Turkey’s president that “the time has come” to let Sweden become a member of the military alliance.

Turkey and Hungary are the only Nato countries that have not yet formally approved Sweden’s accession bid.

Mr Stoltenberg told The Associated Press that he urged Turkey to finalize the process as he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

“I met with President Erdogan this morning and I reiterated my message that the time has come to finalize the accession process for Sweden,” he said.

Turkey has delayed ratification for more than a year, accusing Sweden of not taking Turkey’s security concerns seriously enough, including its fight against Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers to be security threats.

An apparent breakthrough happened at a Nato summit in July when Mr Erdogan said he would submit accession documents to Parliament, but a debate on the matter in the foreign affairs committee was adjourned last month without a decision.


01:50 PM GMT

EU chairman says bloc already has "strategic partnership" with Ukraine

The European Union already has an association agreement with Ukraine, the bloc’s chairman said, when asked to comment about Hungary’s call to sign a “strategic partnership” with Kyiv before starting membership talks.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for the “strategic partnership” instead of allowing Ukraine to advance on its path to an eventual EU membership.

His comments come ahead of a Dec.14-15 summit of EU leaders where unanimity of all the bloc’s 27 member states is needed to agree to start accession negotiations with Ukraine once it meets final conditions.

Mr Orban’s comments threaten to upset that decision and deny Kyiv a coveted prize as the country struggles to push back against Russia’s invasion.

Asked to comment on Mr Orban’s remarks, the chairman of the EU summits - European Council President Charles Michel - told Reuters on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai: “We have an association agreement with Ukraine, which offers a lot of possibilities for close cooperation with Ukraine.

“In December, we’ll have an in-depth debate with the 27 colleagues to assess what decision we’ll make.”


01:28 PM GMT

Goals in Ukraine are 'unchanged,' says Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his government was not prepared to “review its goals” in Ukraine — delivering a blunt and confrontational message to Western leaders on a rare trip to a Nato member state.

“We aren’t seeing any signals from Kyiv or its masters about their readiness to seek any kind of political settlement,” Mr Lavrov told reporters while attending a security conference in North Macedonia.

“We see no reason to review our goals,” he said.

North Macedonia, which joined Nato in 2020, waived a flight ban on Russian officials so that Mr Lavrov could attend the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, prompting the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to skip the meeting in protest.


12:57 PM GMT

Pictured: A local resident walks in front of damaged residential buildings in the town of Avdiivka

A local resident walks in front of damaged residential buildings in the town of Avdiivka
A local resident walks in front of damaged residential buildings in the town of Avdiivka - STRINGER/REUTERS

12:33 PM GMT

Kyiv claims railway sabotage attacks in Russia's Siberia

Ukraine claimed to have orchestrated attacks on a Russian railway line in Siberia, thousands of kilometres from the frontline, in the latest reported sabotage incidents inside Russian territory.

Russian authorities have reported a number of attacks on transport infrastructure since it launched full-scale hostilities in Ukraine in February last year, occasionally pointing the finger at Kyiv.

“The Russians have fallen into the SBU’s trap twice - another fuel train has exploded on the Baikal-Amur railway,” a source in Ukrainian law enforcement agencies told AFP, referring to the SBU security services.

The source said the alleged attack on Friday was a follow-up to an initial explosion on Wednesday night involving a train transiting the remote region of Buryatia.

There was no immediate response from the Russian side to the latest incident, but Moscow confirmed a train crew earlier this week had spotted smoke in a fuel tank and called firefighters to the scene.


11:51 AM GMT

Latest MoD update on Ukraine:


11:15 AM GMT

Pictured: A woman walks in the old town of Uzhhorod during heavy snowfall

A woman walks in the old town of Uzhhorod during heavy snowfall
A woman walks in the old town of Uzhhorod during heavy snowfall - THOMAS PETER/REUTERS

10:54 AM GMT

Ukraine to increase missile production next year

Ukraine will increase its missile production next year to bolster defence against Russian aggression, a defence minister has said.

Ivan Havryliuk, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, said Ukraine would produce more missiles, arms, and other military equipment including Koral guided missiles which have a range of more than 100km.

He said on television: “In addition, the approved budget for 2024 allocates about Hr 175 billion ($4.8 billion) for the purchase of missiles and ammunition so that our defence forces can properly resist Russian aggression.”


10:18 AM GMT

Kremlin: Russia assumes Western sanctions will last for many years

Russia is working on the assumption that sanctions against it by the United States and its allies will last for many years, but that US influence on the world economy is waning, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

“We have no doubt that these sanctions will last for many years. Even without statements from the respected (US) representative, we already knew this. We assume this when formulating our line,” Mr Peskov told reporters.

Mr Peskov made the comments in response to an interview in which US. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt told the Financial Times that Washington was aiming to halve Russia’s oil and gas revenues by the end of the decade.

Russia frequently boasts that its economy has proved more resilient than expected in the face of unprecedented Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine.


09:38 AM GMT

Ukrainian MP: There are many difficulties ahead


09:23 AM GMT

Ukraine in pictures:

A Ukrainian serviceman of a drone hunting team stands next to German Gepard anti-aircraft-gun tank
A Ukrainian serviceman of a drone hunting team stands next to German Gepard anti-aircraft-gun tank - ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP
Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team gather next to a German Gepard anti-aircraft-gun tank
Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team gather next to a German Gepard anti-aircraft-gun tank - ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP
Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team stand next to an anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannon
Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team stand next to an anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannon - ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP

09:02 AM GMT

Navalny says he has been handed new criminal charges

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said that he had been informed of new criminal charges against him.

Mr Navalny, 47, is already serving sentences in a penal colony totalling more than 30 years on charges including extremism, which he denies, and has spent much of the last two years in solitary confinement for a range of alleged misdemeanours.

In comments issued through his associates, he said he had now been charged under Article 214 of the penal code, which covers vandalism.

“I have no idea what article 214 is, and there’s nowhere to look. You’ll know before I do,” he said on his Telegram channel.

“They really do initiate a new criminal case against me every three months. Rarely does an inmate confined to a solitary cell for over a year have such a vibrant social and political existence.”

Navalny is by far the best known figure in Russia’s splintered opposition; supporters cast him as a Nelson Mandela-style figure who will one day be freed from jail to lead the country.


08:18 AM GMT

Orban: EU should sign strategic partnership accord with Ukraine before starting membership talks

The European Union should first sign a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine instead of starting membership talks with the country, Hungary’s Viktor Orban said on Friday, flagging a way to a possible compromise ahead of a crucial EU summit.

The 27 national EU leaders are due to decide in mid-December on whether to accept the European Commission’s recommendation to invite Kyiv to begin membership talks as soon as it meets final conditions, even as it fights to repel Russia’s invasion.

Any such decision requires unanimity of the bloc’s 27 members, with Hungary seen as the main potential obstacle. The Hungarian prime minister has repeatedly said Hungary would not support the Commission’s proposal in its present form.

Mr Orban reiterated on Friday that several issues would need to be cleared before membership talks could start with Ukraine, saying the country, making it impossible to assess what consequences Ukraine’s membership would have on the bloc.

“If we don’t know (what consequences it would have) then we should not start talks... So I will represent the view that the EU should first sign a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine,” he said in an interview on state radio.

“This (agreement) could last for up to 5-10 years, let’s bring them closer, as the gap is too wide now,” he said. “Let’s give time for us to work together, and when we see that we can work together, then let’s bring up the issue of membership.”


08:08 AM GMT

Zelensky: War with Russia is in a 'new phase' as winter looms

Ukraine’s war with Russia has entered a “new phase” as it enters winter, Volodymr Zelensky has said.

The Ukrainian president told The Associated Press: “We have a new phase of war, and that is a fact,” adding, “winter as a whole is a new phase of war.”

Asked if he was satisfied by the results of the summer’s counteroffensive, he replied: “Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second (best) army in the world, I am satisfied,” he said, referring to the Russian military.

But he added: “We are losing people, I’m not satisfied. We didn’t get all the weapons we wanted, I can’t be satisfied, but I also can’t complain too much.”

Ukraine managed to make incremental territorial gains against a better-armed and fortified enemy, Zelenskyy said.


07:44 AM GMT

Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team in the outskirts of Kyiv

Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team in the outskirts of Kyiv
Ukrainian servicemen of a drone hunting team in the outskirts of Kyiv - ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP

07:40 AM GMT

Russia attacked Ukraine with 25 drones overnight, says Ukraine

Ukraine said that Russian forces had launched more than two dozen Iranian-designed attack drones and two missiles on the south and east of the country, in Moscow’s latest aerial barrage.

Officials in Kyiv say Russian forces have been stockpiling drones and missiles for systematic attacks on Ukraine’s struggling energy grid over winter months.

“In total, the enemy used two X-59 missiles and 25 Shahed-136/131 attack drones,” the air force said, claiming to have downed 18 of the drones and one missile over southern regions.

Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure last winter left millions in the cold and dark for extended periods.

Kyiv has bolstered its air defence systems since with Western arms, but conceded that it needs more weapons to protect vulnerable regions.


07:38 AM GMT

Putin praises ‘wise and far-sighted’ Kissinger

Vladimir Putin has praised Henry Kissinger as a “wise and far-sighted statesman” who calmed Cold War tensions with a “pragmatic” foreign policy, after the diplomat died aged 100.

The Russian president, an international pariah after his invasion of Ukraine, drew an unflattering comparison with Joe Biden’s policy of sending weapons to Kyiv.

In a message to Mr Kissinger’s wife, Putin said his name was “inextricably linked with a pragmatic foreign policy line”.

Read more here


07:38 AM GMT

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