Ukraine-Russia news - live: Putin’s ‘weaponising of winter’ prompts Nato aid boost

Nato allies will boost aid for Ukraine as Russian president Vladimir Putin continues to wield winter as a weapon of war because his forces are failing on the battlefield, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said.

“We have delivered generators and spare parts, and the allies are helping to rebuild destroyed infrastructure,” he said ahead of a Nato foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest, adding the gathering would serve as a platform to ramp up western aid to rebuild Ukraine‘s energy infrastructure.

It comes after the most recent UK latest intelligence update suggested Russia’s semi-permanent tactical formations have often proved insufficient in the Ukraine war and are now likely not being deployed on the warfront.

“Over the last three months, Russian forces in Ukraine have likely largely stopped deploying as Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs),” the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in its latest intelligence update.

BTGs are task-based motorised rifle or tank battalion-plus-sized combat units prepared to perform semi-independent combined arms combat missions and are comparatively smaller than most other military units. The MoD said they had played a “major part” in Russia’s military doctrine over the past decade.

Key Points

  • Putin’s major tactical formations ‘proving insufficient’

  • Ukraine’s first lady to urge UK to remember ‘tragedy’ of war over Christmas

  • Russia postpones arms control talks without explanation, US claims

  • Putin ‘has lost nearly 160 generals and colonels among 1,500 officers’ since Russia invaded Ukraine

  • Heavy shelling continues in Donetsk

Ukraine investigates suspected Russian torture sites in liberated Kherson

11:12 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian authorities have launched an investigation into a series of suspected torture sites in the liberated city of Kherson after local civilians told of being confined, beaten, given electric shocks, interrogated and threatened with death by Russian occupiers.

Kyiv forces entered Kherson on 11 November after the Russian army had withdrawn from the city which they captured in the early stage of the conflict, shortly after Russian troops had entered Ukraine in February 2022.

More than two weeks after the Russians retreated, investigators say five torture rooms have been uncovered in the once-bustling port city and at least four more in the wider Kherson region.

Human rights experts have indicated, however, that these early allegations are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Read our full report here:

Ukraine investigates suspected Russian torture sites in liberated Kherson

Nato ‘to ramp up aid for Kyiv as Putin uses winter as weapon of war'

10:49 , Emily Atkinson

Nato allies will ramp up aid for Ukraine as Russian president Vladimir Putin is using winter as a weapon of war because his forces are failing on the battlefield, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

“We have delivered generators and spare parts, and the allies are helping to rebuild destroyed infrastructure,” he told reporters ahead of a Nato foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest, adding the gathering would serve as a platform to ramp up Western aid to rebuild Ukraine‘s energy infrastructure.

Ukraine’s struggle to restore full power persists

10:25 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine was still struggling to restore full power on Tuesday, nearly a week after a wave of Russian missile strikes that damaged critical infrastructure across the country.

National power grid operator Ukrenegro said the electricity deficit had risen slightly from Monday following emergency shutdowns at several power plants and an increase in consumption as winter sets in.

“As of 11am. on 29 November, electricity producers provide 70 per cent of electricity consumption in Ukraine. The current capacity deficit is 30 per cent,” Ukrenergo said on Facebook and the Telegram messaging app.

“We emphasise that the general deficit in the energy system is a consequence of seven waves of Russian missile attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure.”

Russia protests Vatican’s criticism of Ukraine war

10:02 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s envoy has expressed Moscow’s strong dissatisfaction to the Vatican following Pope Francis’ latest condemnation of the “cruelty” of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency reports.

Francis had told the Jesuit magazine in an interview: “When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in.

“Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati and so on. Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear.”

Ukraine investigates suspected Russian torture sites in liberated Kherson

09:40 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian authorities have launched an investigation into a series of suspected torture sites in the liberated city of Kherson after local civilians told of being arbitrarily confined, beaten, given electric shocks, interrogated and threatened with death by Russian occupiers.

Kyiv forces entered Kherson on 11 November after the Russian army had withdrawn from the city which they captured in the early stage of the conflict, shortly after Russian troops had entered Ukraine in February 2022.

More than two weeks after the Russians retreated, investigators say five torture rooms have been uncovered in the once-bustling port city and at least four more in the wider Kherson region. Though human rights experts have indicated these early allegations are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Nato ‘will not back down’ in supporting Ukraine

09:20 , Emily Atkinson

Nato will not pull back in its support for Ukraine, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said as he called on partners to pledge more winter aid for Kyiv.

“Nato will continue to stand for Ukraine as long as it takes. We will not back down,” Mr Stoltenberg said in a speech in Bucharest.

“The main focus is supporting Ukraine and ensuring President (Vladimir Putin) doesn’t win,” he said, adding that the only way to get the right terms for a negotiation to begin would be for Ukraine to advance on the battlefield.

Putin ‘has lost nearly 160 generals and colonels among 1,500 officers’ since Russia invaded Ukraine

09:00 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has lost more than 1,500 military officers – including nearly 160 generals and colonels – since Russia invaded Ukraine nine months ago, according to an open-source tally which echoes the findings of other independent investigations.

The Kremlin has been guarded in its public admissions regarding the scale of millitary losses in Ukraine, with the most recent official figure of 5,397 – given in September by defence minister Sergei Shoigu – sitting significantly lower than Western estimates.

In stark contrast, the United States’ top general Mark Milley suggested earlier this month, as the Russians retreated from Kherson, that Moscow and Kyiv’s forces had each sustained upwards of 100,000 casualties since the war began.

My colleague Andy Gregory has more:

Putin ‘has lost nearly 160 generals and colonels and 1,500 officers in Ukraine war’

James Cleverly to meet Nato allies in Romania

08:40 , Emily Atkinson

James Cleverly’s trip to Romania will see the war in Ukraine bumped to the top of his agenda as he prepares to meet Nato allies.

The gathering of Nato foreign ministers in Bucharest is expected to discuss on how to continue support for Ukraine across the cold winter months.

The UK foreign secretary said: “With Russia’s war disrupting peace in Europe it’s vital that Nato and its allies look closely at how we shore up our defences to handle the challenges we face today.

“We are united in the long-term objective of supporting Ukraine and further strengthening Nato as a defensive alliance.

“The UK and its Allies will continue to show collective strength in dealing with the complex issues the world faces today, as we are doing in Bucharest today.”

Mr Cleverly will travel to Poland after the Nato meeting for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s ministerial council on Thursday.

Nato chief to urge allies to pledge more winter aid for Ukraine

08:20 , Emily Atkinson

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg is set to call on allies to pledge more winter aid for Ukraine at a meeting this week, after its president told residents to brace for another week of cold and darkness due to Russian attacks on infrastructure.

Nato foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest on Tuesday and Wednesday will focus on ramping up military assistance for Ukraine such as air defence systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid as well.

Part of this non-lethal aid - goods such as fuel, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jammers - has been delivered through a Nato assistance package that allies can contribute to and which Stoltenberg aims to increase.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Russia's Gazprom to ship 42.4 mcm of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday

08:00 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s Gazprom said it would ship 42.4 million cubic metres of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday, a level similar to recent days.

Ukraine’s first lady to urge UK to remember ‘tragedy’ of war over Christmas

07:37 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska is set to urge Britons not to forgot the war in Ukraine this Christmas as the country braces for a brutal, cold and dark festive season.

Ms Zelenska is also expected to address MPs and peers on Tuesday as she visits London, days after Rishi Sunak made his first visit as prime minister to Kyiv to meet president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Zelenska will urge the British public not to forget the “tragedy” of the Russian invasion amid the festive season.

She told the programme: “We feel that [strong support] by the aid for our forcefully displaced people, by the political and financial assistance and by humanitarian aid we are receiving from the British.

“Ukrainians are very tired of this war, but we have no choice in the matter. We are fighting for our very lives. The British public do have a choice. They can get used to our tragedy, concentrate on their own important things in life.

“My message for the British is as follows: It’s not just a war for our freedom and our lives.

“This is the war of opposing world views, the war for the values. It’s important that these are preserved. This is a fight for the truth and human values.”

“We do hope that the approaching season of Christmas doesn’t make you forget about our tragedy and get used to our suffering.”

The full interview is set to broadcast later on Tuesday morning.

Russia’s Battalion Tactical Groups proved to be insufficient in Ukraine war - MoD

07:10 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s semi-permanent Battalion Tactical Groups (BTG) taskforces have often proved insufficient in the Ukraine war and are now likely not being deployed on the warfront, the British defence ministry said today.

“Over the last three months, Russian forces in Ukraine have likely largely stopped deploying as Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs),” it said in the latest intelligence update.

The BTGs are task-based motorised rifle or tank battalion-plus-sized combat units prepared to perform semi-independent combined arms combat missions and are comparatively smaller than most other military units.

The defence ministry has pointed out that the BTG concept has “played a major part in Russian military doctrine for the last ten years, and saw battalions integrated with a full range of supporting sub-units, including armour, reconnaissance and (in a departure from usual Western practice) artillery.”

“Several intrinsic weaknesses of the BTG concept have been exposed in the high intensity, large-scale combat of the Ukraine war so far. BTGs’ relatively small allocation of combat infantry has often proved insufficient,” it said.

The ministry added that the decentralised distribution of artillery by Russian forces has not allowed the invading country to “fully leverage its advantage in numbers of guns; and few BTG commanders have been empowered to flexibly exploit opportunities in the way the BTG model was designed to promote.”

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Ukraine’s first lady visits Downing Street during London trip

06:44 , Arpan Rai

Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty met Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska on Monday in Downing Street.

Ms Murty greeted Ms Zelenska outside No 10 Downing Street, part of an itinerary for the wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky‘s visit to the UK.

The Ukrainian first lady is expected to address MPs and peers today as part of her visit.

Ms Zelenska is in London to participate in an international conference on preventing sexual violence during conflicts.

Ms Zelenska briefly waved and smiled to the assorted cameras in Downing Street as she arrived on an overcast and rainy Monday afternoon in Westminster.

Read the full story here:

Ukraine’s First Lady visits Downing Street during London trip

Heavy shelling continues in Donetsk

06:40 , Arpan Rai

Russian forces have continued heavily shelling towns on the west bank of the Dnipro River, including Kherson, a top Ukrainian military official said last night.

Russia kept up heavy shelling of key targets Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Donetsk province, and to the north bombarded areas around the towns of Kupiansk and Lyman, both recaptured recently by Ukrainians troops, the Ukrainian military said.

Ukrainian forces had damaged a rail bridge north of the Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol that has been key to supplying Russian forces dug in there.

This was confirmed by Volodymyr Zelensky last night who said that incessant shelling of Kherson has continued.

“That day, as every other day, the occupiers again shelled Kherson and the communities of the region. In just one week, the enemy fired 258 times on 30 settlements of our Kherson region,” he said in his nightly address, and added that the Russian army also damaged the pumping station that supplied water to Mykolaiv.

“Well, what can be said about them? This is the real essence of those random “comrades” who took over Russia. After 20 years of rule, a large part of their own state is in such devastation, as if a war had taken place there. And this is not a war - it’s just because they have come,” Mr Zelensky said.

Russia postpones arms control talks without explanation, US claims

05:59 , Arpan Rai

Moscow has abruptly and without explanation postponed the scheduled resumption of arms control talks this week, the Biden administration said today.

The State Department said Russia had “unilaterally postponed” a meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Commission that was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Egypt and last through next week.

It said Russia had promised to propose new dates but had offered no reason for the delay.

“The United States is ready to reschedule at the earliest possible date as resuming inspections is a priority for sustaining the treaty as an instrument of stability,” the department said.

Read the full story here:

Russia postpones arms control talks without explanation, US claims

Ukraine downs Russian fighter jet, aircraft - officials

05:37 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian forces have downed one Russian Su-25 fighter jet and one Su-24 aircraft over past day, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said today.

It added that the Ukrainian military struck three Russian concentrations of military equipment and personnel.

Several Russian attacks have been countered near Novoselivske and Bilohorivka in Luhansk oblast and Serebrianka, Verkhnokamianske, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, Pervomaiske, Opytne, Nevelske, and Krasnohorivka in Donetsk oblast, the general staff said.

Putin’s forces may leave occupied plant, says Ukraine nuclear boss

05:12 , Arpan Rai

There are signs that Russian forces may be preparing to leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the coming days, the head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy company has said.

Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, said on national television that in recent weeks the agency has been “effectively receiving information that signs have appeared that they are possibly preparing to leave the (plant)”.

“Firstly, there are a very large number of reports in Russian media that it would be worth vacating the (plant) and maybe worth handing control (of it) to the (International Atomic Energy Agency - IAEA),” Mr Kotin said, referring to the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

“One gets the impression they’re packing their bags and stealing everything they can.”

Moscow seized the key power plant in southern Ukraine in March, shortly after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion.

Authorities installed by Moscow in the nearby city of Enerhodar quickly rejected the claim by the Ukrainian official, stating that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains under Russian control.

Read the full story here:

Ukraine nuclear boss says he sees signs Russia may leave occupied plant

More than 17,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine war – UN

04:50 , Arpan Rai

The Russian war against Ukraine has killed at least 6,655 civilians and injured 10,368, the UN says in its latest update.

The deaths include 2,601 men, 1,783 women, 173 girls, and 209 boys, as well as 37 children and 1,852 adults whose sex is as yet unknown, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

There have been 7,350 casualties – 3,502 and 3,848 injured – in the area controlled by the Ukrainian government, the UN officials said, citing the latest figures.

The Donetsk and Luhansk regions alone have recorded 9,352 civilian casualties – 3,962 killed and 5,390 injured, they said.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes,” they said.

The actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration, the OHCHR said.

These include Mariupol (Donetsk region), Izium (Kharkiv region), Lysychansk, Popasna, and Sievierodonetsk (Luhansk region), where there are allegations of numerous civilian casualties.

Putin ‘has lost nearly 160 generals and colonels among 1,500 officers’ since Russia invaded Ukraine

04:39 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin has lost more than 1,500 military officers – including nearly 160 generals and colonels – after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February this year, an open-source tally stated, matching the findings of other independent investigations.

According to one such tally, compiled by a Twitter account with the handle KilledInUkraine, which frequently includes links to Russian articles and social media posts corroborating the Russian casualties added to its public list, Moscow has now lost more than 1,500 officers.

The list of alleged Russian losses, cited on Monday by Ukrainian colonel Anatoly ‘Stirlitz’ Stefan, includes more than 150 colonels and lieutenant colonels, 205 majors, 296 captains and nearly 500 senior lieutenants – in descending order of rank.

Read the full story here:

Putin ‘has lost nearly 160 generals and colonels and 1,500 officers in Ukraine war’

03:41 , Arpan Rai

Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Tuesday, 29 November.