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Ukraine-Russia war – live: Major wave of heavy bomber strikes on Kyiv ‘start of concerted campaign’

Russia has launched a “concerted campaign” intended to damage Ukraine’s key energy infrastructure, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

In the UK’s latest defence intelligence update, they said the Russian Air Force had conducted a “major wave” of strikes overnight on Thursday December 7.

It is believed that Putin’s forces almost certainly used missiles they had stockpiled to carry out the attacks with their heavy bomber fleet, which has not been used since September.

the MoD update read.: “Russia has almost certainly been stockpiling these missiles for use in the winter campaign. This was probably the start of a more concerted campaign by Russia aimed at degrading Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.”

Initial reports indicate the majority of these missiles were intercepted by Ukrainian air defences and while one civilian was killed, there appears to be minimal infrastructural damage.

There have been fears that Russia would target Ukraine’s energy grid in a similar way to last winter’s attacks - which left millions of people without electricity, heating and water.

It comes after analysts said Russia would likely seek a military push in Ukraine over the harsh winter period ahead of presidential elections in March.

Key Points

  • Fears of winter push by Moscow ahead of Vladimir Putin elections in March

  • 11,000 Russian soldiers killed in November

  • Lord Cameron says blocking Ukraine aid would be ‘Christmas present’ to Putin and Xi

  • Biden says ‘if Putin takes Ukraine he won’t stop there’ after aid falters

  • Ukrainian air defences down 14 of 19 missiles in Russian attack - air force

Video shows aftermath of overnight Russian missile strike on Kyiv

10:30 , Tom Watling

Below is a look at the aftermath of a Russian ballistic missile strike on a southeastern district of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

A series of loud explosions rang out in Ukraine’s capital just after 4 am local time this morning, according to accounts of events on Telegram, as the city was under its nightly curfew, followed by air raid sirens.

The Ukrainian air force said all eight missiles were intercepted.

But the Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said that in the Darnytskyi district of eastern Kyiv the debris of an intercepted missile fell without catching fire.

The aftermath of that can be seen on the video below.

One person was injured during the nightly attack, though it is unclear if that person was residing in the Darnytskyi district.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirm transfer of two naval minehunters to Ukraine

10:20 , Tom Watling

Ukraine soldier says situation in Avdiivka is ‘very difficult’

10:14 , Tom Watling

A Ukrainian soldier has described to The Independent the “very difficult” situation facing those fighting in Avdiivka, a small town in eastern Ukraine that has become the flashpoint of the frontline.

Serhiy Zhuykov, a Ukrainian section chief and sniper currently stationed nearby to the town, said: “We try to stay but there are many, many Russian attacks on our army. It is difficult, very difficult.”

A British Ministry of Defence update from this morning suggested that as much as 40 percent of combat engagements across the frontline at the moment are occurring near Avdiivka.

Ukrainian military soldiers fire from the MT-12 or 2A29 gun ‘Rapira' is a Soviet smoothbore 100-mm anti-tank gun on December 7, 2023 in Avdiivka (Getty Images)
Ukrainian military soldiers fire from the MT-12 or 2A29 gun ‘Rapira' is a Soviet smoothbore 100-mm anti-tank gun on December 7, 2023 in Avdiivka (Getty Images)

Soviet-era monument dismantled in Kyiv as Ukraine continues ‘de-Communisation’ process

09:53 , Tom Watling

Workers on Saturday (9 December) dismantled the Soviet-era monument of Red Army General Mykola Shchors from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, as a gesture of the country’s “‘de-Communisation” process.

The Ministry of Culture gave permission to take down the statue and authorities were seen working for hours to dismantle the statue.

A few passers-by watched the proceedings and clapped when workers finished taking down the monument.

Heorhii Lukianchuk, a Kyiv resident, said he ran to witness this “historical moment” and that it will “be on the pages of history books.”

Soviet-era monument dismantled in Kyiv as Ukraine continues ‘de-Communisation’

Nearly 40 percent of fighting taking place near one Ukrainian town, says British MoD

09:19 , Tom Watling

Nearly 40 percent of fighting on the frontline is taking place at times around one town in eastern Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence has said.

During its latest intelligence update, the MoD said nearly “40 percent of all combat engagements have likely taken place” around Avdiivka, a small town in Donetsk Oblast most famous for its larging coking plant.

The Russian forces appear to have prioritised this area, committing up to eight brigades and hundreds of heavy vehicles to capturing the town, but have made only minor territorial gains, measurable in kilometres.

Ukraine minister: No green light for EU membership talks would be 'devastating'

08:49 , Tom Watling

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said it would be “devastating” for both Ukraine and the European Union if EU leaders do not give his country the green light for membership talks at a summit later this week.

“I cannot imagine, I don’t even want to talk about the devastating consequences that will occur shall the (European) Council fail to make this decision,” Kuleba told reporters as he arrived for a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said it would be ‘devastating’ if Ukraine was not given the green light for membership (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said it would be ‘devastating’ if Ukraine was not given the green light for membership (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Day 656: What’s happening this morning in Ukraine?

08:32 , Tom Watling

As Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky travels from Argentina to Washington DC today, back home in Kyiv, residents are recovering from another night of Russian strikes on the capital.

At least one person was injured as eight missiles were intercepted by air defences. Russia appears to have resumed its campaign of winter strikes that targeted critical infrastructure across Ukraine throughout this time last year.

Meanwhile:

  • Mr Zelensky’s office said he would arrive in Washington today to meet his counterpart Joe Biden and hold a “series of meetings and discussions”. Further meetings are expected on Tuesday.

  • Britain said it had delivered two mine-hunting ships to Ukraine to help maintain a critical route for merchant shipping travelling across the Black Sea.

  • Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said on Monday that it had cracked a network of Ukrainian agents in Crimea who were involved in attempts to assassinate pro-Russian figures.

  • Slovak truckers will restart a partial blockade of the country’s sole freight road crossing with Ukraine at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Monday, a hauliers’ association said. The protesters want to end Ukrainian truckers’ permit-free access to the EU.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference with local media in Buenos Aires (REUTERS)
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference with local media in Buenos Aires (REUTERS)

At least one injured in Russian strikes on Kyiv

08:20 , Tom Watling

Russia fired eight ballistic missiles at Kyiv early on Monday, all of which were shot down, Ukraine‘s air force said.

The thwarted attack still left one person injured by shrapnel and three more suffered severe stress reactions, officials said.

A series of loud explosions rang out in Ukraine‘s capital just after 4am, as the city was under its nightly curfew, followed by air raid sirens.

Interior minister Ihor Klymenko said that in Darnytskyi district of eastern Kyiv the debris of an intercepted missile fell without catching fire, and elsewhere in the capital the explosive wave damaged the windows of a house.

Police officers inspect a site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv (REUTERS)
Police officers inspect a site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv (REUTERS)

Zelensky says had ‘frank’ talk with Hungary’s Orban ahead of Nato summit on Kyiv membership

08:13 , Tom Watling

Volodymyr Zelensky said he had a “frank” conversation with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban on Sunday as the two were seen chatting on the sidelines of the inauguration of Argentina’s new president Javier Milei.

“It was as frank as possible – and obviously, it was focussed on our European affairs,” said Mr Zelensky in his nightly address, referring to his interaction with the Hungarian leader.

Zelensky says had ‘frank’ talk with Hungary’s Orban ahead of Nato summit

Who is Russian army chief Valery Gerasimov?

07:00 , Sam Rkaina

Valery Gerasimov, an unsmiling, grey-haired giant, stood waiting for Vladimir Putin outside the entrance to the Russian Southern Military Command Centre, about 60 miles from the eastern Ukraine border.

His clenched hands hung by his sides, like a schoolboy waiting for the headmaster. It was 19 October 2023. The Russian chief of the general staff, Mr Putin’s top soldier, had been appointed the operational commander of the invasion of Ukraine in January.

It was a move akin to the owner of a football club appointing the manager as his captain on the field. Since 2012, when he was appointed chief of the Russian military, his job had been big-picture strategy; from January 2023, he had needed to be engaged in day-to-day tactics as well.

Click below for the full story.

Who is Russian army chief Valery Gerasimov? Top soldier turned Putin’s fall guy

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Zelensky flies to Buenos Aires to meet Argentina’s new chainsa-wielding president

06:00 , Sam Rkaina

President Zelensky traveled to Buenos Aires to witness the swearing-in on Sunday of Argentina’s new far-right president, Javier Milei.

It is the Ukrainian leader’s first-ever trip to Latin America as Kyiv continues to court support among developing nations for its 21-month-old fight against Russia’s invading forces.

Milei welcomed Zelensky at the presidential palace after his inauguration. The two shared an extended hug, exchanged words and then Milei, who has said he intends to convert to Judaism, presented his Ukrainian counterpart with a menorah as a gift. They were expected to have a longer one-on-one meeting later on Sunday.

A political outsider who has railed against what he calls entrenched official corruption in Argentina and promised to uproot the political establishment, Milei ran on a pro-Western foreign policy platform, repeatedly expressing distrust of Moscow and Beijing.

Zelensky phoned Milei shortly after the Argentine’s electoral victory, thanking him for his “clear support for Ukraine“ which he described in social media posts as “well-noticed and appreciated by Ukrainians.”

President of Argentina Javier Milei greets President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky after his Inauguration Ceremony at National Congress (Getty Images)
President of Argentina Javier Milei greets President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky after his Inauguration Ceremony at National Congress (Getty Images)

Asked about peace talks, Russia's Lavrov says: Ask Ukraine

05:00 , Sam Rkaina

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday that the west was trying to exhaust Russia in Ukraine and that if peace talks were to take place then Kyiv would have to change its own presidential decree.

“It is up to the Ukrainians to recognise how deep they are in the hole where the Americans put them,” Lavrov said of the war.

When asked what the chances were of diplomacy to bring about a ceasefire or peace, he said: “You’ll have to call Mr Zelensky because a year and half ago he signed a decree prohibiting any negotiations with Putin.”

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

US Senators still split over further support for Ukraine

04:00 , Sam Rkaina

Senator JD Vance, Republican for Ohio, said the administration has yet to justify additional aid to Ukraine.

“So what we’re saying to the president and really to the entire world is, you need to articulate what the ambition is. What is $61 billion going to accomplish that $100 billion hasn’t?” Vance said.

Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat for Connecticut, said the money would make a difference because Russia is struggling to fund its war effort. “It can change the outcome of this war,” Murphy said. “Because at the very same time that we are making a renewed commitment to Ukraine, Russia’s ability to continue to fight this war is in jeopardy.”

Romney said he also supports the aid to Ukraine. “My own view is that it’s very much in America’s interest to see Ukraine successful and to provide the weapons that Ukraine needs to defend itself.

“Anything other than that would be a huge dereliction of our responsibility, I believe, to the world of democracy but also to our own national interest,” he said.

‘It’s time to step up’ Blinken says

03:00 , Sam Rkaina

The stakes are especially high for Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during two television interviews Sunday, given that “ we are running out of funding “ for the Ukrainians.

“This is a time to really step up because if we don’t, we know what happens,” he continued, “Putin will be able to move forward with impunity and we know he won’t stop in Ukraine.”

Earlier, he defended the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition and also called for quick congressional approval of the foreign assistance. Blinken said the needs of Israel’s military operations in Gaza justify the rare decision to bypass Congress. “Israel is in combat right now with Hamas,” he said. “And we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas.”

The tank ammunition and related support constitute only a small portion of military sales to Israel, Blinken said, and that the rest remains subject to congressional review. “It’s very important that Congress’ voice be heard in this,” he said.

The decision to proceed with the sale of more than $106 million for tank shells came as the administration’s larger aid package is caught up in a larger immigration debate.

Blinken noted that Biden has said he is willing to make significant compromises to get the aid package moving. “It’s something the president is fully prepared to engage on,” Blinken said.

 (AP)
(AP)

US meeting to ‘underscore unshakeable commitment'

02:00 , Sam Rkaina

The visit is intended “to underscore the United States’ unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion,” the White House said in a statement Sunday.

“As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine‘s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment.”

Biden has asked Congress for a $110 billion package of wartime funding for Ukraine and Israel, along with other national security priorities. But the request is caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security.

Zelensky traveled to Buenos Aires to witness the swearing-in on Sunday of Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei. The Ukrainian leader had been scheduled to address U.S. senators by video last week, but had to cancel the appearance, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Congress already has allocated $111 billion to assist Ukraine, and Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, said in a letter this past week to House and Senate leaders that the U.S. will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year, which would “kneecap” Ukraine on the battlefield.

“It’s time to cut a deal that both sides can agree to,” Young said Sunday.

Biden invites Zelensky to White House for Dec. 12 meeting this week

01:00 , Sam Rkaina

Joe Biden has invited Volodymyr Zelensky to a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, to discuss the ongoing war against Russia and the “vital importance” of continued US support.

In a statement, the White House said the two will discuss Ukraine‘s “urgent needs” facing Ukraine, and comes as the White House looks to strike an agreement with Congress that would provide military aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Zelensky’s office said on the Telegram messaging app that the Ukrainian leader would arrive in Washington on Monday and that he would meet Biden during a working visit that would include “a series of meetings and discussions.”

Key topics during Zelensky’s visit would include defense cooperation between the United States and Ukraine, “particularly through joint projects on the production of weapons and air defense systems, as well as the coordination of efforts between our countries in the coming year,” Zelenskiy’s office said.

 (AP)
(AP)

Will Ukraine compete in the Paris olympics?

00:01 , Athena Stavrou

Ukraine’s sports minister has said participation in next year’s Olympics is impossible unless the International Olympic Committee alters their “non-constructive position”.

Some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics, IOC said on Friday in a decision to remove the option of a blanket ban over the invasion of Ukraine.

Eight Russians and three from Belarus are among 4,600 athletes worldwide who have so far qualified for the Summer Games.

Speaking on national television, Matviy Bidnyi, Ukraine’s minister of youth and sport, said: “The decision to participate should be made based on what it will bring to the country, what the reaction will be and how much it will bring us closer to victory.”

“We should not make rash decisions. It will be a balanced decision and we have to communicate it to the public. We will weigh the pros and cons very carefully.”

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals at the Paris Olympics (Mike Egerton/PA). (PA Wire)
Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals at the Paris Olympics (Mike Egerton/PA). (PA Wire)

Hungarian truckers to protest at Ukraine border crossing on Monday

Sunday 10 December 2023 23:00 , Athena Stavrou

Hungarian truckers have planed to protest near Hungary’s main border crossing with Ukraine on Monday.

Protesters are aiming to slow the movement of trucks as they demand restrictions on Ukrainian hauliers working in the European Union, police said on Sunday.

Police have given permission for the protest in which about a dozen trucks will partially block the main road leading to the Zahony crossing.

Police did not say how long the protest would last but website index.hu reported the plan was to partially block the road leading to the border until the end of December.

Truckers from Ukraine have been exempt from seeking permits to cross into the European Union since Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Hauliers across eastern Europe have sought to win restrictions on the number of Ukrainian trucks entering the EU.

In the past weeks trucks at the Poland-Ukraine crossing were backed up for miles as Polish truckers blocked roads to three border crossings.

Latest pictures from Ukraine

Sunday 10 December 2023 22:00 , Athena Stavrou

President Volodymyr Zelensky attends the inauguration of Argentina's new president Javier Milei (AFP via Getty Images)
President Volodymyr Zelensky attends the inauguration of Argentina's new president Javier Milei (AFP via Getty Images)
A woman holds up pictures of a captured relative during a demonstration calling for authorities to return their relatives from Russian captivity. (EPA)
A woman holds up pictures of a captured relative during a demonstration calling for authorities to return their relatives from Russian captivity. (EPA)
Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers who were captured by Russia hold their photos and posters in Kyiv (AP)
Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers who were captured by Russia hold their photos and posters in Kyiv (AP)

Zelensky discusses defence package with Macron

Sunday 10 December 2023 21:00 , Athena Stavrou

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said he spoke to French president Emmanuel Macron while in Argentina.

Mr Zelensky said the pair discussed Ukraine’s priorities and the next defence package from France over a phone call.

Also on the agenda was Ukraine’s EU accession talks, which has been a major goal for Zelensky and Ukraine.

Russia tells reporters to ‘ask Ukraine’ about peace talks

Sunday 10 December 2023 20:00 , Athena Stavrou

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the world would have to ‘ask Ukraine’ on the matter of peace talks between the nations.

He said on Sunday that the West was trying to exhaust Russia in Ukraine and that if peace talks were to take place then Kyiv would have to change its own presidential decree.

“It is up to the Ukrainians to recognise how deep they are in the hole where the Americans put them,” Lavrov said of the war.

When asked what the chances were of diplomacy to bring about a ceasefire or peace, he said: “You’ll have to call Mr Zelensky because a year and half ago he signed a decree prohibiting any negotiations with Putin.”

Zelensky meets with South American leaders

Sunday 10 December 2023 19:00 , Athena Stavrou

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has met with several South American leaders as he attempts to win the support of the global south.

Zelensky is currently in Argentina to witness the inauguration of Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei.

According to Mr Zelensky’s official website, he split his journey up to include meeting the prime minister of Cape Verde, Ulisses Correia e Silva, to thank him for his support for Kyiv’s diplomatic initiatives.

While in Argentina, he has also held meetings to discuss trade and bilateral cooperation with the presidents of Paraguay and Ecuador.

Ukraine moves first lorries to Poland through blocked border

Sunday 10 December 2023 18:00 , Athena Stavrou

Ukraine has transported the first batch of lorries to Poland by rail since a Polish truck driver strike began several weeks ago.

The lorries bypassed the blockage of the land border between the two countries by Polish drivers, Ukrainian state railways Ukrzaliznytsia said on Sunday.

Protests by Polish truckers started last month against the terms of EU access for Ukrainian lorries, which they say has taken work away from them.

The main demand of Polish hauliers is to stop Ukrainian truckers from having permit-free access to the European Union, something that Kyiv and Brussels say is not negotiable.

Ukrainian authorities say about 3,500 lorries are blocked on the Polish side of the Polish-Ukrainian border as of Sunday morning and so far authorities have not been able to reach an agreement with the protesters to stop the action.

Main road corridors have been blocked coming into Ukraine, leading to higher prices for fuel and some food items as well as delays to drone deliveries to the Ukrainian army.

 (Anadolu via Getty Images)
(Anadolu via Getty Images)

White House to intensify push for Ukraine aid and border security deal

Sunday 10 December 2023 17:00 , Athena Stavrou

The White House is planning to step up its efforts to push a deal for Ukrainian aid through US Congress, a Democratic senator said on Sunday.

Republican senators blocked the passage of a $110bn (£88bn) US aid bill last week, as they insisted that additional funding for Ukraine must be paired with major US border security changes.

Senators are desperately trying to broker a compromise on the matter, but are having little success with less than a week before US Congress leaves for a Christmas break.

“The White House is going to get more engaged this week,” Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Murphy said it was important to know if Democratic President Joe Biden would sign any prospective deal.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

Russia launch ‘concerted campaign’ to diminish Ukraine’s energy grid

Sunday 10 December 2023 15:48 , Athena Stavrou

Russia has launched a “concerted campaign” to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

In their latest defence intelligence update, the MoD said a “major wave” of strikes was launched on Thursday night, targetting central Ukraine and Kyiv.

The MoD statement read: “Russia has almost certainly been stockpiling these missiles for use in the winter campaign.

“This was probably the start of a more concerted campaign by Russia aimed at degrading Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.”

One civilian was killed in the attack, however, initial reports indicate the majority of these missiles were successfully intercepted by Ukrainian air defence.

The IOC confirms Russian athletes can compete at Paris Olympics with approved neutral status

Sunday 10 December 2023 14:45 , Holly Evans

Some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics, the IOC said Friday, in a decision that removed the option of a blanket ban over the invasion of Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee’s decision confirms moves it started one year ago to reintegrate Russia and its military ally Belarus into global sports, and nine months after it urged sports governing bodies to look at ways to let individual athletes compete.

It is up to each Olympic sport’s governing body to assess and enforce neutral status for individual athletes who have not actively supported the war and are not contracted to military or state security agencies.

Read the full story here

The IOC confirms Russian athletes can compete at Paris Olympics with approved neutral status

Ukraine first lady Olena Zelenska begs US not to ‘let us die’ over funding row

Sunday 10 December 2023 13:45 , Holly Evans

Ukraine’s first lady has appealed to the international community to keep up financial support for its war with Russia, after Republican senators blocked the passage of a multibillion-dollar US aid bill.

Calling the political row in America “a matter of life” for Ukrainians, Olena Zelenska said: “We really need the help. In simple words, we cannot get tired of this situation, because if we do, we die.

“And if the world gets tired, they will simply let us die.”

Read the full article here

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska begs US not to ‘let us die’ over funding row

Ukraine's human rights envoy calls for a faster way to bring back children deported by Russia

Sunday 10 December 2023 12:45 , Holly Evans

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman voiced hope Friday that a coalition of countries formed to facilitate the return of Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia will be able to come up with a faster mechanism to repatriate them.

Over 19,000 children are still believed to be in Russia or in occupied regions of Ukraine.

Dmytro Lubinets spoke to reporters following the first meeting of the National Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children, which was formed based on a recommendation by Canada, in Kyiv.

Read the full report here

Ukraine's human rights envoy calls for a faster way to bring back children deported by Russia

Putin announces intention to run for President in 2024

Sunday 10 December 2023 11:45 , Holly Evans

Putin announces intention to run for President in 2024

A Soviet-era statue of a Red Army commander taken down in Kyiv

Sunday 10 December 2023 10:45 , Holly Evans

City workers in Kyiv on Saturday dismantled an equestrian statue of a Red Army commander, the latest Soviet monument to be removed in the Ukrainian capital since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.

The statue of Mykola Shchors on horseback, erected in the 1950s, was taken down from a pedestal in downtown Kyiv to the applause of a small group of onlookers. City officials said it will be stored in the State Aviation Museum.

“Derussification and decommunization are continuing. We have already dismantled more than 60 monuments related to the history and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union,” Mykhailo Budilov, director of the city’s Department of Territorial Control, said in a statement.

Read more here

A Soviet-era statue of a Red Army commander taken down in Kyiv

Ukraine condemns Russian plan to hold ‘election’ in occupied territory

Sunday 10 December 2023 09:42 , Holly Evans

Ukraine on Saturday condemned Russian plans to hold presidential elections inoccupied territory next year.

Declaring such an election “null and void”, the Ukrainian foreign ministry threatened to prosecute any international observer sent to monitor the ballot.

Russia’s upper house has set the date for the country’s next presidential for 17 March next year, though the result is already a foregone conclusion with there being little organised political opposition left in the country.

Read more here

Ukraine condemns Russian plan to hold ‘election’ in occupied territory

Fears of winter push by Moscow ahead of Putin elections in March

Sunday 10 December 2023 08:24 , Andy Gregory

Russia will likely seek to regain the initiative in Ukraine in a military push over the harsh winter period, analysts say, ahead of presidential elections in March expected to see Vladimir Putin remain in the Kremlin until at least 2030.

After a year dug in among a heavily fortified front line in order to push back Kyiv’s counteroffensive efforts, the Institute for the Study of War think-tank suggests Russia is now launching attacks along the vast front line and is seeking to regain the initiative in its 22-month war.

However the think-tank is sceptical about the success of any winter push by Moscow, and notes that, in something of a role reversal, Ukraine is using the harsher weather to build its own fortifications in parts of the front line – “thereby conserving manpower and resources for future offensive efforts”.

“Difficult weather conditions have likely slowed the rate of Russian advance along much of the frontline, increased Russian losses, and further damaged the morale of Russian soldiers,” the think-tank said.

It added: “The establishment of Ukrainian tactical defensive positions will most likely strengthen Ukrainian forces' capabilities to defend against ongoing and costly Russian attacks with fewer forces of their own and/or while suffering fewer casualties in the defence.

“Furthermore, the establishment of Ukrainian tactical defensive positions may become a springboard for future Ukrainian offensive operations where and when Ukrainian forces choose to re-initiate offensive operations.”

Full report: Fears for jailed Putin critic Navalny missing for three days after ‘serious health incident’

Sunday 10 December 2023 08:07 , Andy Gregory

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been missing for three days following a “a serious health-related incident”, his associates have warned – just as Vladimir Putin launches his presidential re-election campaign.

Allies of the Kremlin critic – who has been sentenced to more than 30 years on what he says are politically motivated charges – had this week stepped up a campaign to undermine popular support for Mr Putin and the war in Ukraine ahead of the March 2024 presidential elections.

And days earlier, Russian prosecutors brought fresh charges against Mr Navalny, in what the 47-year-old said was part of the Kremlin’s desire to “initiate a new criminal case against me every three months”.

But Mr Navalny failed to show up at scheduled court hearings this week, according to Maria Pevchikh, chair of his Anti-Corruption Foundation, who said he had been “missing for three days now”.

You can read more here:

Fears for jailed Putin critic Navalny missing for three days after ‘serious incident’

Some Russian athletes allowed to compete at Paris Olympics

Sunday 10 December 2023 07:00 , Athena Stavrou

Some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday.

The decision has removed the option of a blanket ban over the invasion of Ukraine. The IOC’s decision confirms moves it started one year ago to reintegrate Russia and its military ally Belarus into global sports.

Eight Russians and three from Belarus are among 4,600 athletes worldwide who have so far qualified for the Summer Games.

Russia sent a team of 335 athletes to the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 but only dozens are likely to compete in Paris. Russia remains banned from team sports.

Blocking Ukraine aid would be ‘Christmas present’ to Putin and Xi, Cameron says

Sunday 10 December 2023 06:00 , Athena Stavrou

Blocking a package of support for Ukraine would be a “Christmas present” for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, Lord David Cameron has warned after Senate Republicans opposed a multi-billion-dollar aid bill.

The Foreign Secretary urged allies to rally around Kyiv, describing the response to the conflict as “the great test for our generation” as he delivered a speech at the Aspen security conference in Washington DC on Thursday.

The US Congress failed to pass a 110 billion dollar (£88 billion) package of wartime funding for Ukraine and Israel as well as other national security priorities.

Read the full report:

Blocking Ukraine aid would be ‘Christmas present’ to Putin and Xi, Cameron says

David Cameron calls for $350bn in frozen Russian bank accounts to fund Ukraine war

Sunday 10 December 2023 05:00 , Athena Stavrou

David Cameron has called for 350 billion dollars (£278 billion) in frozen Russian bank accounts to be used to fund the Ukrainian war effort.

The UK foreign secretary said there is a strong argument for seizing frozen Russian assets and using them to rebuild Ukraine, during a visit to the US.

“Instead of just freezing that money, let’s take that money, spend it on rebuilding Ukraine and that is, if you like, a downpayment on reparations that Russia will one day have to pay for the illegal invasion that they’ve undertaken,” Mr Cameron said. “I’ve looked at all the arguments and so far, I haven’t seen anything that convinces me this is a bad idea.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Soviet-era statue dismantled in Kyiv

Sunday 10 December 2023 04:00 , Athena Stavrou

The statue of a of a Red Army commander was dismantled by authorities in Kyiv on Saturday.

Ukrainian officials pressed on with a campaign to remove Soviet-era monuments in an effort to erase all traces of Russian rule amid a full-scale invasion by Kremlin troops, now nearing its two-year mark.

Municipal workers on Saturday carefully hoisted the hulking statue of Mykola Shchors, a Soviet field commander during the Russian Civil War, off its pedestal.

“We need to educate our youth so that they know our history,” said Zoya Kobyliukova, 82, an onlooker who described communism as a “utopia” that led to many people being killed.

“They’re doing the right thing to be taking him down.”

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

338,000 Russian troops have been killed, according to Ukraine

Sunday 10 December 2023 03:00 , Athena Stavrou

Ukrainian figures have suggested that 338,120 Russian soldiers have died since the war began last Febraury.

The latest numbers also say over 10,000 armoured combat vehicles have been destroyed, while 5,632 Russian tanks have reportedly been eliminated.

Fears for jailed Putin critic Navalny missing for three days after ‘serious health incident’

Sunday 10 December 2023 02:00 , Athena Stavrou

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been missing for three days following a “a serious health-related incident”, his associates have warned – just as Vladimir Putin launches his presidential re-election campaign.

Allies of the Kremlin critic – who has been sentenced to more than 30 years on what he says are politically motivated charges – had this week stepped up a campaign to undermine popular support for Mr Putin and the war in Ukraine ahead of the March 2024 presidential elections.

You can read the full report below:

Fears for jailed Putin critic Navalny missing for three days after ‘serious incident’

Zelensky visiting Argentina in bid to win support

Sunday 10 December 2023 01:00 , Athena Stavrou

Ukrainian President Zelensky is visiting Argentina in hopes that he will win the support of the global south.

Zelenskyy’s trip, announced on the Telegram messaging app, will focus on Ukraine‘s longstanding bid to secure the support of countries in the Global South in Ukraine‘s 21-month-old war against Russia.

The Ukrainian president said he had met the prime minister of the West African country of Cape Verde, Ulisses Correia e Silva, en route to Argentina and thanked him for “condemning Russian aggression” and supporting Ukrainian initiatives.

The trip marks his first trup to Latin American, where he is to attend the inauguration of new Argentine President Javier Milei.

Kyiv has been trying to build ties with African, Asian and Latin American governments, but has found its support for Israel at odds with the positions of some of those countries.

Why so many of Nepal’s Gurkhas end up fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Sunday 10 December 2023 00:00 , Holly Evans

A few months ago, a Ukrainian official posted a video of a man who had been captured while fighting for Russia.

The man was neither trained by Russia nor a resident of that country, and he had no direct stake in the Ukraine war. Yet he had flown over 4,000km to serve in “one of the Russian Airborne Forces brigade”, the video said.

Belonging to the landlocked Himalayan state of Nepal, which has a growing population and rising unemployment, Bibek Khatri admits to joining the Russian forces solely for the money.

Read the full story here

Why so many of Nepal’s Gurkhas end up fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Blocking Ukraine aid would be ‘Christmas present’ to Putin and Xi, Cameron says

Saturday 9 December 2023 23:00 , Holly Evans

Blocking a package of support for Ukraine would be a “Christmas present” for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, Lord David Cameron has warned after Senate Republicans opposed a multi-billion-dollar aid bill.

The Foreign Secretary urged allies to rally around Kyiv, describing the response to the conflict as “the great test for our generation” as he delivered a speech at the Aspen security conference in Washington DC on Thursday.

The US Congress failed to pass a 110 billion dollar (£88 billion) package of wartime funding for Ukraine and Israel as well as other national security priorities.

Read the full article here

Blocking Ukraine aid would be ‘Christmas present’ to Putin and Xi, Cameron says

Ukraine’s first lady warns of ‘mortal danger’ if West backs down over support

Saturday 9 December 2023 22:00 , Holly Evans

Ukrainians face “mortal danger” if the West backs down over financial support for the resistance against Vladimir Putin’s forces, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has warned.

Ms Zelenska argued that people in her country will be left to die if the world gets tired of providing support, in an interview with the BBC, as the UK presses US Republicans to agree to send aid to Kyiv.

In a diplomatic mission to America, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron warned US Republicans that blocking fresh financial backing would be a “Christmas present” for Russian President Mr Putin.

Read more here

Ukraine’s first lady warns of ‘mortal danger’ if West backs down over support

Ukraine actor dies after battling frontline wounds for months

Saturday 9 December 2023 21:00 , Holly Evans

Ukrainian actor Vasyl Kukharskyi died on Thursday nearly three months after suffering severe injuries on the frontline while fighting against Russia’s troops. He was 42.

“Vasily Kukharsky passed away. He never made it back to life,” announced Kyiv-based Theater on Podil in a statement on Facebook.

He reportedly joined the Ukrainian armed forces shortly after Russia‘s invasion began in February 2022.

Read more here

Ukraine actor dies after battling frontline wounds for months

Latest pictures from Kyiv

Saturday 9 December 2023 20:00 , Holly Evans

Soveity era statues have been pulled down in Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
Soveity era statues have been pulled down in Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
People and journalists view and take pictures of the Soviet monument (REUTERS)
People and journalists view and take pictures of the Soviet monument (REUTERS)
Municipal workers dismount a monument to Mykola Schors, a Soviet field commander during the Russian Civil War, (REUTERS)
Municipal workers dismount a monument to Mykola Schors, a Soviet field commander during the Russian Civil War, (REUTERS)

If they’re saying Zelensky’s an autocrat, we should all be worried

Saturday 9 December 2023 19:00 , Holly Evans

As Russia’s war on Ukraine starts to emerge into the news once again from beneath the shadow of the newer conflict in the Middle East, you might have noticed a change. It is a change of mood quite as much as a change of substance – and, as you may also have noticed, it is the opposite of upbeat.

It is evident most conspicuously, and crucially, at the centre of power in Kyiv. Volodymyr Zelensky, for so long the shining hero of Kyiv’s resistance to Moscow, is facing increasingly open criticism, including from some of those hitherto seen as closest to him.

The latest is the mayor of Kyiv, former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who told the Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that Zelensky risked becoming an autocrat, which could mean Ukraine being “no different from Russia, where everything depends on the whim of one man”.

Mary Dejevsky writes

If they’re saying Zelensky’s an autocrat we should all be worried | Mary Dejevsky

Polish truck drivers are blocking the border with Ukraine. It's hurting on the battlefield

Saturday 9 December 2023 18:00 , Holly Evans

Pickup trucks and tourniquets bound for Ukraine’s battlefield are stuck in a mileslong line at the border with Poland. Components to build drones to fight off Russian forces are facing weeks of delays.

Ukrainian charities and companies supplying the war-torn country’s military warn that problems are growing as Polish truck drivers show no sign of ending a border blockade that has stretched past a month.

The Polish protesters argue that their livelihoods are at stake after the European Union relaxed some transport rules and Ukrainian truckers undercut their business.

Read the full article here

Polish truck drivers blocking border with Ukraine

Ukraine first lady Olena Zelenska begs US not to ‘let us die’ over funding row

Saturday 9 December 2023 17:00 , Holly Evans

Ukraine’s first lady has appealed to the international community to keep up financial support for its war with Russia, after Republican senators blocked the passage of a multibillion-dollar US aid bill.

Calling the political row in America “a matter of life” for Ukrainians, Olena Zelenska said: “We really need the help. In simple words, we cannot get tired of this situation, because if we do, we die.

“And if the world gets tired, they will simply let us die.”

Read the full article here

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska begs US not to ‘let us die’ amid funding row

Man with US-Russian nationality accused of ‘rehabilitating Nazism’

Saturday 9 December 2023 16:00 , Holly Evans

A man with dual U.S.-Russian nationality has been placed in pre-trial custody in St Petersburg for “rehabilitating Nazism” in posts on social media, the city’s court service said on Saturday.

Yuri Malev was charged over posts in which he was alleged to have denigrated the St George’s ribbon, a symbol of Russian military valour. One contained obscene language and the other showed a picture of a corpse wearing the ribbon.

The court service said this showed disrespect for society and insulted the memory of the Great Patriotic War, as Russians refer to World War Two.

The statement said Malev, who was detained in St. Petersburg on Friday, had “partially admitted guilt”, but did not elaborate. He was placed in custody until Feb. 7.

Last week, a Russian court extended the pre-trial detention of Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent”, an offence that carries up to five years in prison.

Full report: Russia faces Putin’s iron grip until at least 2030 as he stands for president again

Saturday 9 December 2023 15:02 , Andy Gregory

Russia faces the prospect of Vladimir Putin extending his two-decade stranglehold on power until at least 2030, with an announcement that he will run for president again in March 2024.

The 71-year-old Russian autocrat has been in power since 1999, bar a four-year stint as prime minister under Dmitry Medvedev, during which he was widely regarded to still be at the helm of the Kremlin.

Given Mr Putin’s domination of the Russian political and media landscape – and the jailing of opposition figures like Alexei Navalny who could challenge him on the ballot – there is little doubt about the result when the elections take place next year.

My colleague Tom Watling has more in this report:

Russia faces Putin’s iron grip until at least 2030 as he stands for president again

Kyiv authorities remove statue of Red Army commander from capital

Saturday 9 December 2023 14:09 , Andy Gregory

Ukrainian officials pressed on with a campaign to remove Soviet-era monuments on Saturday as authorities in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv dismantled a statue of a Red Army commander from a central boulevard.

Ukraine has doubled down on efforts to erase all traces of Russian rule amid a full-scale invasion by Kremlin troops, now nearing its two-year mark.

Municipal workers on Saturday carefully hoisted the hulking statue of Mykola Shchors, a Soviet field commander during the Russian Civil War, off its pedestal. The structure had occupied a prominent spot on a central artery named after Ukraine’s national poet.

“We need to educate our youth so that they know our history,” said Zoya Kobyliukova, 82, who described communism as a “utopia” that led to many people being killed. “They’re doing the right thing to be taking him down.”

Thousands of Ukrainian streets and settlements have also been renamed in recent years as part of a de-communisation campaign launched after the 2014 Maidan Revolution, which toppled a pro-Russian leader.

People gathered around the statue depicting Red Army commander Mykola Shchors after it was dismantled (Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images)
People gathered around the statue depicting Red Army commander Mykola Shchors after it was dismantled (Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia puts prominent Russian-US journalist Masha Gessen on wanted list for criminal charges

Saturday 9 December 2023 13:44 , Andy Gregory

Russian police have put prominent Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen on a wanted list after opening a criminal case against them on charges of spreading false information about the Russian army.

The independent Russian news outlet Mediazona was the first to report Friday that Gessen’s profile has appeared on the online wanted list of Russia’s Interior Ministry, and The Associated Press was able to confirm that. It wasn’t clear from the profile when exactly Gessen was added to the list.

Russian media reported last month that a criminal case against Gessen, an award-winning author and an outspoken critic of president Vladimir Putin, was launched over an interview they did with the prominent Russian journalist Yury Dud.

In the interview, which was released on YouTube in September 2022 and has since been viewed more than 6.5 million times, the two among other things discussed atrocities by Russian armed forces in Bucha, a Ukrainian town near Kyiv that was briefly occupied by the Russian forces.

Dasha Litvinova has the report:

Russia puts prominent Russian-US journalist Masha Gessen on wanted list for criminal charges