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No plans to deploy British troops to Ukraine, Sunak says

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty, arrive on the opening day of the UK Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, UK, on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Prime minister Rishi Sunak said he wants to cut taxes as many members of his UK Conservative Party want, but that his immediate priority is on bringing down inflation.. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg on the opening day of the UK Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, UK, on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is trying to reset the political narrative a year or so out from a general election. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg
Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty arrive on the opening day of the UK Conservative Party Conference in Manchester - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Rishi Sunak said on Sunday there were no immediate plans to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, rowing back on comments by his defence minister who had suggested troops could carry out training in the country.

Mr Shapps told the Telegraph Britain will ramp up its training programme for Ukrainian soldiers under plans being discussed with military chiefs.

One idea is to move “more training and production” of military equipment into Ukraine, he said, while calling on more British defence firms to set up factories in Ukraine.

On Sunday, Mr Sunak said: “What the defence secretary was saying was that it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine.”

“But that’s something for the long term, not the here and now. There are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict.”

His comments follow inflammatory rhetoric from former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday, who said British troops would be legitimate targets for Russian troops if they were stationed in Ukraine.


05:09 PM BST

Today's top stories

Thanks for following our daily live blog - it’s now closed. Here are the day’s top stories:

  • Rishi Sunak said there were no immediate plans to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, rowing back on comments by his defence minister who had suggested troops could carry out training in the country

  • Ukraine’s air defence systems shot down 16 out of around 30 drones that Russia launched on Ukraine’s territory overnight, according to the Ukrainian Air Forces on Sunday

  • European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday that Ukraine needed more military aid and he promised ongoing EU support

  • British soldiers training troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Moscow’s forces, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said

  • Slovakia’s pro-Russia former prime minister has won the country’s parliamentary elections, potentially dealing a major blow to the fragile pro-Ukraine unity of the European Unity and Nato


05:06 PM BST

Pictured: A ceremony in Lviv to commemorate slain Ukrainian soldiers

LVIV, UKRAINE – OCTOBER 1: The military band of Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy performs during the commemoration ceremony for Ukrainian defenders at Lychakiv Cemetery on October 1, 2023 in Lviv, Ukraine. Day of Defenders and Defendresses of Ukraine usually is marked on the day of the Intercession of the Theotokos. This year it is celebrated for the first time on October 1. (Photo by Les Kasyanov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
Ukrainian honour guard puts flowers
Ukrainian honour guards lay flowers at the grave of a soldier - Les Kasyanov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images
LVIV, UKRAINE – OCTOBER 1: Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) hold flags near the grave of the unknown soldier of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) at Lychakiv Cemetery during the commemoration ceremony for Ukrainian defenders on October 1, 2023 in Lviv, Ukraine. Day of Defenders and Defendresses of Ukraine usually is marked on the day of the Intercession of the Theotokos. This year it is celebrated for the first time on October 1. (Photo by Les Kasyanov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

04:34 PM BST

Russian MoD footage allegedly shows stockpiles of Iranian ammunition for the first time


04:23 PM BST

EU's Borrell, in Kyiv, says bloc is preparing long-term security pledges

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday that Ukraine needed more military aid and he promised ongoing EU support.

“Ukraine needs more capabilities & needs them faster,” he said in a statement posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. He said he had discussed “continuous EU military assistance” during his first in-person meeting with Defence Minister Rustem Umerov.

“We are preparing long-term security commitments for Ukraine,” Mr Borrell added.


03:55 PM BST

Pictured: People pay their respects to Dmitry Utkin, whose grave was adorned with flowers and a sledgehammer

A man places flowers at the grave of Dmitry Utkin, a commander of the Wagner mercenary group, while marking 40 days since Utkin and the group's chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's death at a cemetery in Mytishchi on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer
A man places flowers at the grave of Dmitry Utkin, a commander of the Wagner mercenary group, while marking 40 days since Utkin and the group's chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's death at a cemetery in Mytishchi on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer
A view shows a sledgehammer at the grave of Dmitry Utkin, a commander of the Wagner mercenary group, as people mark 40 days since Utkin and the group's chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's death at a cemetery in Mytishchi on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer
A view shows a sledgehammer at the grave of Dmitry Utkin, a commander of the Wagner mercenary group, as people mark 40 days since Utkin and the group's chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's death at a cemetery in Mytishchi on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer

03:37 PM BST

Mourners hail dead Russian mercenary Prigozhin as hero of the people

At memorials to Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in an unexplained plane crash exactly 40 days ago, dozens of mourners hailed the mutinous mercenary chief as a patriotic hero of Russia who had spoken truth to power.

The private Embraer jet on which Prigozhin was travelling to St Petersburg crashed north of Moscow killing all 10 people on board on Aug 23, including two other top Wagner figures, Prigozhin’s four bodyguards and a crew of three.

It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash two months to the day since Prigozhin’s failed mutiny. The Kremlin said on Aug. 30 that investigators were considering the possibility that the plane was downed on purpose.


03:13 PM BST

Populist ex-PM to win Slovakia election in blow to Western backing for Ukraine

Slovakia’s pro-Russia former prime minister has won the country’s parliamentary elections, potentially dealing a major blow to the fragile pro-Ukraine unity of the European Unity and Nato.

According to preliminary results at 6am local time this morning, Robert Fico’s Smer-SSD party had a clear lead with almost 24 per cent of the vote.

With 99.2 per cent of the votes counted, the populist candidate, who has pledged to immediately end all military support for Ukraine, left his liberal newcomer opponent trailing with 17 per cent of the vote.

But with no party winning a majority of seats, Mr Fico will need to win over allies to form the next government.

Read the full story


03:00 PM BST

Pictured: A woman in Saint Petersburg visits the grave of Wagner boss Prigozhin who died in a plane crash in August

OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)
OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)

02:40 PM BST

Slovakia's poll winner defies European consensus on Ukraine

Slovakia’s pro-Russian and anti-liberal election winner Robert Fico was poised on Sunday to begin coalition talks to form a government likely to join Hungary in opposing the European Union’s military aid for Ukraine.

The 59-year-old former prime minister’s SMER-SSD party scored nearly 23 per cent of Saturday’s vote, earning the president’s nod to start talks to replace a technocrat government that has been backing Kyiv against Russia’s invasion.

“We are not changing that we are prepared to help Ukraine in a humanitarian way,” said Fico, whom analysts consider to be inspired by Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban who has frequently clashed with the EU.


02:14 PM BST

In case you missed it: Here's the latest instalment of our podcast on Ukraine


01:50 PM BST

British troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets, says Medvedev

British soldiers training troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Moscow’s forces, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Mr Medvedev, who is deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, was responding to a recent announcement by Defence Minister Grant Schapps who said he had held talks with Army leaders about moving “more training and production” of military equipment into Ukraine.

Up until now Kyiv’s forces have been training in the UK, with the idea of formal training programmes in Ukraine considered risky owing to the possibility of personnel being drawn into combat with Russia.

“[This will] turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces,” Mr Medvedev said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

“They will be ruthlessly destroyed. And not as mercenaries, but namely as British Nato specialists,” he added.


01:37 PM BST

Russian losses so far, according to Ukraine


01:25 PM BST

Ukraine says working with US after Congress drops aid

Ukraine said Sunday it was working with Washington to ensure new wartime aid, after US lawmakers dropped new funding for Kyiv in a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown.

“The Ukrainian government is now actively working with its American partners to ensure that the new US budget decision, which will be developed over the next 45 days, includes new funds to help Ukraine,” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said.


12:45 PM BST

Russia intercepts five HIMARS, JDAM bomb, 37 drones over Ukraine in last 24 hours

Russia’s defence ministry said Russian air defences had intercepted five US-made HIMARS shells, an air-launched JDAM bomb and 37 Ukrainian drones over Ukrainian territory in last 24 hours.

The ministry said those interceptions had occurred on the territory where Russia is fighting what it calls a “special military operation”.

Separately, the ministry reported that its air defences had shot down six Ukrainian drones over Russian regions and two Ukrainian missiles over Crimea.


12:15 PM BST

Five more cargo ships head for Ukraine's Black Sea ports, says deputy PM

Five more ships are on their way to Ukrainian sea ports using a new corridor opened to resume predominantly agricultural exports, an alternative arrangement to the Black Sea grain deal blocked by Russia, a top Ukrainian official said on Sunday.

“5 new vessels are waiting to be loaded in Ukrainian ports,” Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on the X social media platform.

“Bulk carriers OLGA, IDA, DANNY BOY, FORZA DORIA, NEW LEGACY are going to export almost 120,000 (metric) tons of Ukrainian grain to Africa and Europe,” he added.


11:56 AM BST

Slovak coalition talks to start after ex-PM Fico's election win

Slovakia’s Robert Fico, who won an election after pledging to end military aid to Ukraine, was in pole position to start talks on forming a government on Sunday while a liberal rival vowed to seek partners to prevent the former leftist prime minister’s return to power.

With 99.98 per cent of voting districts reporting in the Saturday election, Fico’s SMER-SSD party scored nearly 23 per cent of the vote, followed by almost 18 per cent for the Progresivne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia, PS) party.

The winner is expected to be given a political mandate by President Zuzana Caputova to try to find a majority, and form a government if successful.


11:39 AM BST

Wagner is trying to reignite civil war in Mali, says US

Russia’s Wagner mercenaries are trying to reignite Mali’s civil war in an attempt to keep its African business venture afloat, US officials have told the Sunday Telegraph.

Far from disintegrating after the death of their founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash outside Moscow in August, Wagner forces in Mali have been involved in fierce battles across the country and have continued to expand their operations across Africa.

But where before their activities were limited mostly to providing security and training for Mali’s forces, the guns for hire are now clashing with anti-government Tuareg rebels to sow instability, the officials said.

US officials believe the instability caused by extra fighting benefits the Wagner business model.

Read Joe Barnes’s full story 


11:25 AM BST

Russian defence spending to surge next year, says MoD

Russia is preparing to dramatically boost spending on defence in a sign that it won’t wind down its war in Ukraine any time soon, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Citing documents apparently leaked from Russia’s defence ministry, the MoD said Moscow’s defence spending is set to surge to approximately 30 per cent of total public expenditure in 2024.

“The ministry proposes a defence budget of 10.8 trillion roubles, equivalent to approximately 6 per cent of GDP and a 68 per cent increase over 2023.

“Full details on Russian defence spending are always classified, but these figures suggests that Russia is preparing for multiple further years of fighting in Ukraine.”

Despite being hit by punishing sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s economy is expected to grow this year.

However, the MoD said: “It is highly likely that Russia can support this level of defence spending through 2024, but only at the expense of the wider economy.”


11:10 AM BST

Pictured: Fires rage at grain warehouses following a Russian drone strike in Ukraine's Uman, Cherkasy region

A warehouse burns after a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack, in Uman, Cherkasy region, Ukraine October 1, 2023. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Cherkasy region/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. DO NOT OBSCURE LOGO.
A warehouse burns after a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack, in Uman, Cherkasy region, Ukraine October 1, 2023. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Cherkasy region/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. DO NOT OBSCURE LOGO.
Head of Cherkasy Regional Civil-Military Administration Ihor Tablets via Telegram/Handout via
Head of Cherkasy Regional Civil-Military Administration Ihor Tablets via Telegram/Handout via
Head of Cherkasy Regional Civil-Military Administration Ihor Tablets via Telegram/Handout via
Head of Cherkasy Regional Civil-Military Administration Ihor Tablets via Telegram/Handout via

10:53 AM BST

Russian regions hit by Ukrainian drones and shelling

Russia was targeted by another wave of Ukrainian drones and shelling on Sunday, wounding three people and forcing an airport to divert flights, officials said.

Since Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in early June, Russian regions have accused Kyiv’s armed forces of almost daily drone strikes and shelling on civilian targets.

“On Sunday morning, the armed forces of Ukraine shelled the area of the central market in Shebekino,” said Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of Russia’s Belgorod region bordering Ukraine.


10:30 AM BST

Slovak election heads for tense finish as early results roll in

Slovakia’s parliamentary election is poised on a knife’s edge with exit polls handing liberal party Progressive Slovakia (PS) an initial lead while early official results put former leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico’s party on top.

With 30 per cent of voting districts reporting, the SMER-SSD party led by Mr Fico - who has vowed to end military aid to Ukraine - led with nearly 25 per cent of the vote. The HLAS party and potential Fico ally followed at 17 per cent, with PS in third with 13 per cent of the vote.

“What has been counted are small districts,” said Robert Kalinak, a SMER-SSD candidate and long-time Fico ally. “It all depends on when you have 50 per cent, a critical mass of voters. Then you can start thinking about how many votes can still shift.”


10:15 AM BST

Grant Shapps to ramp up support for Volodymyr Zelensky

Britain will ramp up its training programme for Ukrainian soldiers under plans being discussed with military chiefs, Edward Malnick writes.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Grant Shapps said that he had held talks with Army leaders about moving “more training and production” of military equipment into Ukraine. He also called on more British defence firms to set up factories in Ukraine.

Following a trip to Kyiv last week, Mr Shapps also reveals that he has talked to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, about how Britain’s Navy could play a role in defending commercial vessels from Russian attacks in the Black Sea.

Both moves would mark a significant escalation in the UK’s involvement in defending Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s onslaught.

Read the full story


10:00 AM BST

Ukraine shoots down 16 Russian drones

Ukraine’s air defence systems shot down 16 out of around 30 drones that Russia launched on Ukraine’s territory overnight, according to the Ukrainian Air Forces on Sunday.

It said on Telegram messaging app that drones were launched from the southern, southeastern and northern directions.

Authorities said the central Ukrainian Cherkasy region was under the attack.