Russia builds new army base in Mariupol

A satellite image shows a new Russian military facility in Mariupol, Ukraine, November 30, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT. MUST NOT OBSCURE LOGO - Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters
A satellite image shows a new Russian military facility in Mariupol, Ukraine, November 30, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT. MUST NOT OBSCURE LOGO - Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters

Russia has built an army base in Mariupol in a sign that it’s consolidating power in the port city after capturing it earlier this year, according to satellite photos.

Photos show a large U-shaped building akin to a storage depot surrounded by security fencing and several smaller buildings nearby.

“In Mariupol, a Russian military compound has been recently built in the north-center of the city. Notice the Russian Army slogan on the top of the roof,” said Maxar Technologies, referring to its satellite image from November 30.

Mariupol fell into Russian hands after months of bitter fighting that left much of it in ruins. Ukraine estimates that around 25,000 civilians were killed during this period. According to Maxar photos the city’s main cemetery has also been expanded.

"The main city cemetery (Starokrymske) on the western side of Mariupol has had significant expansion of the number of graves," the space technology company said.

05:48 PM

Today's top stories

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, which he claims to have annexed, the Kremlin told Russian news agencies on Saturday

  • All European Union governments completed on Saturday the written approval of a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, the European Commission said

  • Emergency plans are being drawn up by the government as the risk of blackouts looms amid the Ukraine war

  • Ukraine's SBU security services have raided eight monasteries and churches across the country suspected of holding pro-Russia sympathies

  • A work of art by the elusive street artist Banksy has been ripped from a wall in Ukraine

  • Britain's National Crime Agency has arrested a "wealthy Russian businessman" on suspicion of money laundering and other offences as part of a crackdown on corrupt oligarchs

05:34 PM

All EU governments complete approval of Russian oil price cap

All European Union governments completed on Saturday the written approval of a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, the European Commission said.

The measure, an idea of the Group of Seven nations, comes on top of the EU's embargo on imports of Russian seaborne crude that also kicks in on Dec 5, and is meant to allow oil-related services to third countries only for those cargoes below the cap.

"The G7 and all EU Member States have taken a decision that will hit Russia's revenues even harder and reduce its ability to wage war in Ukraine," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

05:24 PM

Putin to visit the Donbas as fighting intensifies

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, which he claims to have annexed, the Kremlin told Russian news agencies on Saturday.

"In due time this will happen, of course. This is a region of the Russian Federation," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, without indicating when this could happen.

The region, which includes the destroyed Sea of Azov city of Mariupol and the smaller cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychank, has emerged as a key battleground in the war, becoming the site of some of the fiercest fighting so far.

In February Putin signed a decree recognising its two regions, Donetsk and Lukhansk, as independent. The region holds huge nationalistic signigicance for him, having described Eastern Ukraine as “ancient Russian lands”.

05:13 PM

Electric car journeys could be restricted in Switzerland under plan to deal with energy shortages

Emergency plans are being drawn up by the government as the risk of blackouts looms amid the Ukraine war, writes Verity Bowman

Electric cars could be banned from making non-essential journeys in Switzerland this winter under a Covid lockdown-style plan to deal with potential energy shortages.

Emergency proposals have been drafted by the government that could see buildings heated to no more than 20 degrees Celsius, shop opening hours reduced and streaming services limited.

The strictest measures - designed to avoid a blackout in the worst case scenario - include a ban on sports matches, concerts and theatre performances.

Switzerland is bracing for an energy crisis this winter due to its reliance on imports to sustain the country through the colder months.

Read the full story

04:51 PM

In pictures: Latest scenes from the war

TORETSK, DONETSK OBLAST, UKRAINE, DECEMBER 02: Ukrainian servicemen take cover as they fire a mortar load in the Toretsk frontline in Donbas, Ukraine, December 02nd, 2022. (Photo by Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) - Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
TORETSK, DONETSK OBLAST, UKRAINE, DECEMBER 02: Ukrainian servicemen take cover as they fire a mortar load in the Toretsk frontline in Donbas, Ukraine, December 02nd, 2022. (Photo by Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) - Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
KHARKIV REGION, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 02: Ukrainian rescuers are dismantling the damaged structures of a residential building, as a result of a Russian missile hit in the village of Kluhyno-Bashkyrivka, Kharkiv region on December 02, 2022. (Photo by Sofia Bobok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) - Sofia Bobok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
KHARKIV REGION, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 02: Ukrainian rescuers are dismantling the damaged structures of a residential building, as a result of a Russian missile hit in the village of Kluhyno-Bashkyrivka, Kharkiv region on December 02, 2022. (Photo by Sofia Bobok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) - Sofia Bobok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

04:39 PM

Russia builds new military facility in Mariupol, according to satellite photos

Russia has built a military compound in Mariupol in a sign that it’s consolidating power in the port city after capturing it earlier this year, according to satellite photos.

Photos show a large U-shaped building akin to a storage depot surrounded by security fencing and several smaller buildings nearby.

“In Mariupol, a Russian military compound has been recently built in the north-center of the city. Notice the Russian Army slogan on the top of the roof,” said Maxar Technologies, referring to its satellite image from November 30.

Mariupol fell into Russian hands after months of bitter fighting that left much of it in ruins. Ukraine estimates that around 25,000 civilians were killed during this period. According to Maxar photos the city’s main cemetery has also been expanded.

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03:59 PM

Moldova Deputy PM announces deal to reduce risk of massive power outages

Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu announced an energy deal on Saturday he said would reduce the risk of "massive electricity outages" in the former Soviet republic.

Moldova has suffered from widespread power outages amid Russian air strikes on energy infrastructure in neighbouring Ukraine and a reduced flow of natural gas from Russian state energy giant Gazprom.

03:51 PM

Watch: Local engineers have apparently developed a driverless tractor to safely de-mine fields

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03:39 PM

Pictured: Four lion cubs rescued from Odessa arriving at a sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota

Stefania emerges from her transport crate at The Wildlife Sanctuary - Julia Cumes, IFAW/ Newsflash
Stefania emerges from her transport crate at The Wildlife Sanctuary - Julia Cumes, IFAW/ Newsflash

03:32 PM

Ukrainian security services raid eight monasteries suspected of being pro-Russian

Ukraine's SBU security services have raided eight monasteries and churches across the country suspected of holding pro-Russia sympathies, writes James Kilner. 

The investigations follow a raid on a monastery in Kyiv last week where Ukrainian officials found material showing that the monks there had maintained links to the Russian Orthodox Church throughout the war.

"These activities are being carried out to prevent the use of religious communities as cells of the ‘Russian world’ and to protect the population from provocations and terrorist acts, among other things,” the SBU said.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Russian Orthodox Church in May but Ukrainian officials have said that some links have been maintained. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a separate branch that was set up in 2018 and has never had links to the Russian Orthdox Church in Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has now also asked Ukraine’s parliament to pass a law that will ban any churches still affiliated to Russia from operating.

03:15 PM

UK crime agency arrests 'wealthy Russian' over money laundering

Britain's National Crime Agency has arrested a "wealthy Russian businessman" on suspicion of money laundering and other offences as part of a crackdown on corrupt oligarchs.

The unidentified 58-year-old was among three men arrested by officers from the Combatting Kleptocracy Cell on Thursday at a "multi-million pound residence" in London, the NCA said.

He was detained on suspicion of money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury, the NCA said.

A 35-year-old man was arrested at the premises after, the NCA say, he was seen leaving with a bag which contained thousands of pounds in cash. A former boyfriend, 39, of the businessman's partner was also arrested at the property, police said. All three have been released on police bail.

03:11 PM

Eight arrested over Banksy theft

Ukraine has detained eight people over the theft from a wall in the Kyiv suburbs of a mural painted by the elusive street artist Banksy, the authorities said.

The stencil image of a person in a nightgown and gas mask holding a fire extinguisher next to the charred remains of a window in the town of Gostomel went missing on Friday.

"A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural. They cut out the work from the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians," Kyiv governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Eight people had been identified with several "detained on the spot," he said.

"All were aged between 27 and 60 years old. They are residents of Kyiv and Cherkasy" some 200 km southeast of the capital, he said.

"The image is in good condition and in the hands of the authorities."

02:30 PM

Russia ‘planning to encircle Bakhmut’

Russia is likely planning to encircle the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut with tactical advances to the north and south, Britain's defence ministry said on Saturday.

The capture of the town would have limited operational value but it can potentially allow Russia to threaten Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, the ministry added in a daily intelligence update.

"There is a realistic possibility that Bakhmut's capture has become primarily a symbolic, political objective for Russia," the ministry said in the update posted on Twitter.

02:13 PM

Putin will visit east Ukraine 'in due time'

Russian President Vladimir Putin will "in due time" visit east Ukraine's Donbas region, which he claims to have annexed, the Kremlin told Russian news agencies Saturday.

"In due time this will happen, of course. This is a region of the Russian Federation," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, without indicating when this could happen.

Since mid-April, Russian forces have focused much of their firepower on trying to capture the two eastern provinces known as the Donbas after failing to take Kyiv.

01:55 PM

Estonia to buy US rocket artillery system in $200 million deal

Russia's neighbor Estonia has acquired an advanced US rocket artillery system in its largest arms procurement project ever.

A deal signed Friday for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) is worth more than $200 million (£162 million) and includes equipment such as ammunition and rockets as well as training.

The package includes Himars rockets with ranges of 70-300 kilometers. Lockheed Martin Corp. is expected to make the first deliveries in 2024.

Washington has provided Ukraine with Himars during Russia's invasion of the country. The Estonian Defense Ministry said the Himars systems "have helped to destroy Russian military ammunition warehouses, transport nodes, and command and control centers with pinpoint accuracy beyond the range of the howitzers Ukraine has been using."

01:06 PM

Latest Russian losses according to the Ukrainian army

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01:01 PM

How Russian bombardment of a frontline village brought an estranged couple back together

Valeriy Shulypa and Nadia Chernoshenko seem to have survived due to a mix of stubbornness and because they had each other, writes Ben Farmer.

There is scarcely a house in the farming village of Posad-Pokrovske that has not somehow been smashed by shelling.

The civic landmarks of the village school and sports centre are in ruins, while the roofs of homes are torn off and walls knocked down.

It seems impossible for anyone to have remained in the once-busy settlement for the months when it found itself on the front line between Mykolaiv and Kherson.

Yet somehow a few did. From the pre-war population of around 3,000 residents, humanitarian volunteers estimate somewhere around 30 stayed through the worst rather than evacuate.

As fighting has swept across Ukraine and millions have left their homes looking for safety, it has often been the most vulnerable, the elderly, the infirm and their carers, who have been trapped by advances.

Read the full story

12:24 PM

Ukraine gets first batch of Hawk missiles

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Ukraine has received its first batch of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles systems from Spain, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

“Our 1st Hawks are provided by Spain,” he tweeted, following a meeting with Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles in Odesa on Friday.

The Hawk is a low to medium-altitude ground-to-air missile system developed the US company Raytheon.

11:57 AM

Ukraine grain exports down 29.6 per cent at 18.1 million tonnes so far in 2022/23

Ukraine has exported almost 18.1 million tonnes of grain so far in the 2022/23 season, down 29.6 per cent from the 25.8 million tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed on Friday.

The volume included more than 6.9 million tonnes of wheat, 9.7 million tonnes of corn and about 1.5 million tonnes of barley.

After an almost six-month blockade caused by the Russian invasion, three Ukrainian Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

11:31 AM

Canada sanctions another Iran firm over drone deliveries to Russia

Canada announced another round of sanctions against Iran on Friday, including a technology company that developed components of drones that the West says have been used by Russia to attack Ukraine.

"Canada will not stand idly by while the regime's human rights violations increase in scope and intensity against the Iranian people... [and it takes] actions that continue to threaten international peace," Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.

In November, Ottawa had already sanctioned two Iranian drone makers, Shahed Aviation Industries and Qods Aviation Industries.

Added in this new round were Baharestan Kish Company, which has contracted with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp to provide drone research.

10:57 AM

Ukraine says $60 oil price cap will 'destroy' Russia's economy

Ukraine welcomed a $60 price cap on Russian oil agreed by the EU, G7 and Australia, saying it would "destroy" Russia's economy.

The price cap, previously negotiated on a political level between the G7 group of wealthy democracies and the European Union, will come into effect with an EU embargo on Russian crude oil from Monday.

Poland had refused to back the price cap plan over concerns the ceiling was too high, before its ambassador to the EU confirmed Warsaw's agreement on Friday evening.

"We always achieve our goal and Russia's economy will be destroyed, and it will pay and be responsible for all its crimes," Ukraine's presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Saturday on Telegram.

"But a cap of "$30 would have destroyed it more quickly", he added.

10:29 AM

Price cap is 'dangerous' and will not curb demand for our oil, says Russia

Russia said an attempt by Western governments to introduce a price cap on its oil exports was a "dangerous" move that would not curbe exports.

A coalition of Western countries led by the G7 group of nations agreed on Friday to cap the price of Russian seaborne oil at $60 a barrel, as they aim to limit Moscow's revenues and curb its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine.

In comments published on Telegram, Russia's embassy in the United States criticised what it said was the "reshaping" of free market principles and reiterated that its oil would continue to be in demand despite the measures.

"Steps like these will inevitably result in increasing uncertainty and imposing higher costs for raw materials' consumers," it said.

"Regardless of the current flirtations with the dangerous and illegitimate instrument, we are confident that Russian oil will continue to be in demand."

10:08 AM

Latest update from MoD: Russia digs in along 15km stretch around Bakhmut

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09:44 AM

Thieves tear off Banksy mural

A work of art by the elusive street artist Banksy has been ripped from a wall in Ukraine.

Thieves cut out the mural of a woman in a gas mask from its position on the side of a building in Hostomel, near Kyiv.

Police and military arrested those responsible and reclaimed the artwork.

"I would like to emphasise that Banksy's works in the Kyiv region are under police protection," said Oleksii Kuleba, the Governor of Kyiv Oblast.

"These images are a symbol of our struggle against the enemy... stories about the support and solidarity of the entire civilised world."

Banksy confirmed he was in Ukraine last month after a series of anonymous artworks appeared in the Kyiv region.

One of the murals appeared to depict a small child in a karate uniform throwing Russian President Vladimir Putin to the ground.

A new graffiti in Banksy's signature style, although not posted by the mercurial artist on social media, is seen on the wall of a destroyed building in the Ukrainian town of Hostomel, which had been occupied by Russia until April and heavily damaged by fighting in the early days of Russian invasion, November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich - REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A new graffiti in Banksy's signature style, although not posted by the mercurial artist on social media, is seen on the wall of a destroyed building in the Ukrainian town of Hostomel, which had been occupied by Russia until April and heavily damaged by fighting in the early days of Russian invasion, November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich - REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Head of the National Police of Kyiv region Andrii Nebytov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS - NATIONAL POLICE OF UKRAINE
Head of the National Police of Kyiv region Andrii Nebytov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS - NATIONAL POLICE OF UKRAINE

09:12 AM

US 'disappointed' at Russia scrapping of arms talks

The United States said on Firday  it was disappointed that Russia had postponed talks on nuclear arms control, voicing willingness to sit down despite high tensions over the Ukraine war.

Russia and the United States were set to meet from Nov 29 in Cairo on New START, the last major disarmament treaty between the world's two largest nuclear powers, in what would have marked rare contact since the February invasion of Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia "abruptly and unilaterally" postponed the week-long meeting and that any suggestion the United States was to blame was "entirely false."