Ukraine-Russia war – live: Biden says history will judge US as funds for Kyiv to fight Putin’s forces collapse

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US President Joe Biden has issued a plea to Republicans blocking further aid to Ukraine to “not turn our back on freedom” after a disappointing debate in Congress saw a thin majority vote down a new multibillion dollar support package for Kyiv.

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, on Wednesday night.

Republicans have suggested more money needs to be allocated to securing the US border with Mexico.

In a video statement on X, Mr Biden said: “Petty partisan, angry politics cannot get in the way of our responsibility as a leading nation in the world.”

He added: “History will judge us harshly if we turn our back on freedom’s cause in Ukraine. We can’t let Putin win.”

By mid-November, the US Defense Department had used 97% of its pre-agreed funds for Ukraine, US budget director Shalanda Young said this week. If it is not replenished, those funds could run out by the end of 2023, leaving Ukraine without substantial military support.

Key Points

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

  • Day 652: What’s happening this morning in Ukraine?

  • Kyiv shoots down Russian bomber over Snake Island as it battles Putin’s forces

  • Putin arrives in Abu Dhabi on rare visit to UAE

  • Ukraine’s president says Kyiv will win ‘against all odds’ as he pays respect to fallen soldiers

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

09:30 , Matt Mathers

Ukrainian air defences shot down 14 out of 19 missiles fired by Russia during a morning air strike on Friday, Ukraine’s air force spokesman said.

The missiles were shot down in the region outside Kyiv and the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, the military official, Yuryi Ihnat, said on television.

11,000 Russian soldiers killed in November

08:58 , Matt Mathers

Ukrainian Ground Forces Command spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo has said that 11,000 Russian soldiers were killed in November.

The troops were presumably killed in the Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut directions, according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War.

The institute also said Russian forces “may be suffering losses along the entire front in Ukraine at a rate close to the rate at which Russia is currently generating new forces.”

Russian missile attack kills one civilian in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region

07:14 , Matt Mathers

A Russian missile attack killed one civilian and injured four others in Ukraine’s central region of Dnipropetrovsk on Friday, the region’s governor, Serhiy Lysak, said.

"Unfortunately, one person is dead. Preliminarily, four people are wounded. They are all in hospital. Two people are in severe condition," Lysak said on the Telegram messaging app.

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

07:06 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

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 $110bn (£88bn) package of wartime funding for Ukraine and Israel as well as other national security priorities.

More here.

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

UN: Russia intensifies attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities, worsening humanitarian conditions

07:04 , Maira Butt

Intensifying Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities are worsening humanitarian conditions across the war-torn country, where heavy snow and freezing temperatures have already arrived, U.N. officials said Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca told the UN Security Council that Russia’s continuing daily attacks on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure have resulted in civilian casualties, and Moscow recently escalated its barrages in populated areas including the capital, Kyiv.

“All attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop immediately,” he said. “They are prohibited under international humanitarian law and are simply unacceptable.”

UN: Russia intensifies attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities, worsening humanitarian conditions

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

06:50 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

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.

He blames his decision on financial woes back home, according to a clip posted by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the minister of internal affairs in Ukraine.

“My family is in trouble. My mother doesn’t work, we need money. So, I went for it (joining the Russian Army),” Khatri says in the video. He says his friends suggested that he join up as a mercenary. “I wanted to return to my mom as a successful man. So, I joined.”

Khatri is not the only one being drawn by lucrative offers from Moscow. Nearly 200 Nepalese nationals are believed to be serving in the Russian army as mercenaries.

Namita Singh has more.

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

Ukraine claims assassination of ‘traitor’ ex-MP who fled to Russia

06:02 , Maira Butt

Tom Watling reports:

A pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who fled to Moscow after Vladimir Putin’s invasion has been shot dead, with Ukraine’s security service said to be behind the assassination.

Illia Kyva, 46, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament, was shot in a park in Odintsovo region, southwest of Moscow, according to Russian investigators.

A Ukrainian source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the SBU security service was responsible.

Andriy Yusov, spokesperson for Ukraine’s GUR, another intelligence agency, said on Ukrainian television Kyva was “finished” but did not say who was behind his death.

Another source with knowledge of the killing told the Financial Times that Kyva had been killed with a “small arms” weapon.

Ukraine claims assassination of ‘traitor’ ex-MP who fled to Russia

Slovakia warned by US on plan to scrap corruption prosecutor

05:10 , Maira Butt

The United States on joined the European Commission on Thursday in urging Slovakia not to rush into plans to scrap a special prosecutor’s office focused on corruption, saying the change and other reforms “require a thorough and sound analysis”.

Slovakia’s new government led by populist Robert Fico approved a plan on Wednesday to end the special prosecutor’s office, using a fast-track procedure that could be completed in weeks.

Fico, who has already battled with some leading media outlets and stopped Slovak military aid to Ukraine, has accused the institution of violating human rights and said it must be disbanded.

“We support the European Commission’s recommendation not to advance the intended amendments nor resort to a fast-track procedure without proper and thorough consultation with stakeholders at the national and European level,” the US embassy said in a statement on its website.

Mariupol Reborn: One year on from regeneration scheme in Ukrainian seaside city where thousands were killed

04:14 , Maira Butt

A major project to rebuild Ukraine‘s famous seaside city of Mariupol has made progress one year on.

Tens of thousands of Mariupol residents were killed in the six weeks after the full-scale invasion in February 2022 as a direct consequence of Russian aggression. Hundreds of thousands of Mariupol residents have been displaced.

Vadym Boychenko, the mayor of Mariupol, said: “People are our greatest assets. Lost lives are our greatest pain. Mariupol’s struggle will go down in history as an example of extraordinary heroism.

“They deserve the best home to return to and our goal is to create that. We know the government of Ukraine and our military will return Mariupol to Ukrainians. And when that happens, we will be ready to start work on Day One.”

The Fast Recovery Plan will get the city running, prioritizing housing and utilities. Russian forces are alleged to have destroyed 90% of the city’s infrastructure, half the apartment buildings, 15 hospitals, 63 schools and 40,000 houses have been damaged.

In pictures: The latest in Ukraine

03:03 , Maira Butt

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries responds to a question during a press conference on Thursday. Supplemental aid to Ukraine and Israel has been stalled in Congress over disputes about the US Southern border security funding and policy (EPA)
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries responds to a question during a press conference on Thursday. Supplemental aid to Ukraine and Israel has been stalled in Congress over disputes about the US Southern border security funding and policy (EPA)
Ukrainian medical team from 'Austriyka' bus evacuate and treat wounded Ukrainian solders in Donbas (Anadolu via Getty Images)
Ukrainian medical team from 'Austriyka' bus evacuate and treat wounded Ukrainian solders in Donbas (Anadolu via Getty Images)
Foreign secretary David Cameron spoke at the Aspen Security Forum (Getty Images)
Foreign secretary David Cameron spoke at the Aspen Security Forum (Getty Images)

After failed test vote, prospects dim for new Ukraine aid in US Congress

02:06 , Maira Butt

US Senate leaders vowed on Thursday to keep trying to reach an agreement to provide billions of dollars in new security aid to Ukraine, but faced uncertainty about doing so quickly after Republicans blocked a sweeping foreign security assistance bill.

Senate Republicans voted unanimously on Wednesday to block the emergency spending bill to provide $110.5 billion in funds for Ukraine, Israel and other security needs, to press their demands for more control of immigration via the US border with Mexico.

The result, which had been expected, threatened Democratic President Joe Biden’s effort to provide new aid before the end of 2023. It came after Democrats and Republicans had negotiated for weeks to add immigration policy changes to the security bill to win enough Republican votes to pass.

Those talks broke off last Friday, and emotions ran so high that a classified Senate briefing on Ukraine on Tuesday erupted into a shouting match from which several Republicans stormed out.

Zelensky marks first night of Hannukah in Kyiv

01:03 , Maira Butt

Ukraine’s President Zelensky joined representatives of the Jewish clergy on Thursday to mark the first night of Hannukah celebrations.

He took part in the Hannukah candle-lighting ceremony and lit the first candle in Kyiv.

He said: “The sacred Hanukkah lights, lit these days, remind us once again that light always prevails over evil. And of the value of life, which is worth fighting for. My best wishes to the Jewish community on Hanukkah”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marks the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah by lighting the first candle in Kyiv, Ukraine (AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marks the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah by lighting the first candle in Kyiv, Ukraine (AP)

Japan pledges $4.5B more in aid for Ukraine, including $1B in humanitarian funds

00:04 , Maira Butt

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged $4.5 billion to Ukraine, including $1 billion in humanitarian aid to help support the war-torn country’s recovery effort in an online summit of leading industrial nations.

Kishida made the announcement late Wednesday in Tokyo while hosting his last Group of Seven summit as this year’s chairperson.

The $1 billion humanitarian and recovery aid includes funding for generators and other power supplies for the Ukrainian people to survive the winter, as well as measures to clear mines planted by Russia, the Foreign Ministry said. The remaining $3.5 billion includes funding for credit guarantees for World Bank loans to Ukraine.

“This is significant support for the recovery of Ukraine and our economy, said Japan stands firmly with Ukraine and our people,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his message posted on X, formerly Twitter, “We will keep working together to bring our common victory closer.”

Japan pledges $4.5B more in aid for Ukraine, including $1B in humanitarian funds

‘Excess profits’ by large companies following Ukraine invasion could have worsened cost-of-living

Thursday 7 December 2023 23:00 , Maira Butt

“Excess profits” made by large international companies could have exacerbated inflation and passed on higher costs to consumers, according to a report.

Researchers from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Common Wealth – both British think tanks – analysed the financial statements of 1,350 firms listed on the UK, US, German, Brazilian and South African stock markets.

They found that UK-listed firms such as Shell, Glencore, Vodafone and Barclays saw their profits outpace inflation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while ordinary families’ real incomes plummeted.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at IPPR, said: “Our research finds that markets aren’t working efficiently, enabling large companies to make profits that likely amplified inflation.

“This has made the cost of living crisis worse for most people, and for many smaller firms across the economy.

“The original inflation spike was driven by global supply chains gumming up post-pandemic, and then by the energy price shock following the Ukraine invasion.”

Cameron positive that US will come through with funding for Ukraine

Thursday 7 December 2023 22:20 , Maira Butt

UK foreign secretary David Cameron said in a joint press conference with US secretary of state Anthony Blinken that he is sure that the US will provide more funding for Ukraine.

He said: “I believe the US will come through with supplemental funding for Ukraine.

“I’m sure that goodwill will prevail and the money will be voted through.”

Lord Cameron: ‘No more important relationship for Britain than with US’

Thursday 7 December 2023 22:07 , Maira Butt

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said there is “no more important” relationship for Britain than its partnership with the US.

He said he was glad to see the so-called special relationship was “stronger than ever” and that it was all the more important in the “dangerous and insecure and unstable world in which we currently live”.

At a press conference alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he said: “There is no more important relationship for Britain than this partnership with the United States.”

Lord Cameron said Europe and the US were “rightly” sharing the financial burden of supporting Ukraine.

Mr Blinken earlier said: “Our countries are in lockstep when it comes to continuing to do everything possible to ensure that Putin’s aggression remains a strategic defeat and failure for Russia.”

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said there is “no more important” relationship for Britain than its partnership with the US.

 (AP)
(AP)

Blinken: UK’s leadership has been ‘absolutely essential' in support of Ukraine

Thursday 7 December 2023 22:03 , Maira Butt

Secretary Blinken praised the UK’s commitment to supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

He said: “The UK’s leadership has been absolutely essential. The UK has committed the second most after the United States in terms of military assistance and across the board.

“This is a global coalition in support of Ukraine. “

Video: Fox News host clashes with US presidential candidate Vikek Ramaswamy over Ukraine policy

Thursday 7 December 2023 22:01 , Maira Butt

Presidential candidate Ramaswamy clashed with a Fox News host as he defended his position on Ukraine on Thursday.

“I think we have to play hardball there and make a hard deal that requires any reneging on that deal to have major consequences. The clear principles are this war doesn’t advance US interests,” he said while suggesting that US priority should be on border control.

The Fox News host suggested a “world war could enfold” if eastern Europe were “given up”.

Secretary of State Blinken: US and UK ‘in lockstep’ to ensure Putin’s aggression remains a failure

Thursday 7 December 2023 21:56 , Maira Butt

US secretary of state Anthony Blinken addressed a White House press conference along with foreign secretary Lord David Cameron.

He opened his address with a nod to the UK and US’s “special relationship” which he said “has never been more important than it is now.”

He added: “Our countries are in lockstep when it comes to continuing to do everything possible to ensure that Putin’s aggression remains a strategic defeat and failure for Russia and we are determined to ensure that Ukraine stands strongly on its own feet as a sovereign independent country.”

Secretary Blinken added that there remained “unwavering support” for Ukraine across the Nato alliance.

The US and UK remain in ‘lockstep’ said Secretary Blinken (AP)
The US and UK remain in ‘lockstep’ said Secretary Blinken (AP)

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

Thursday 7 December 2023 21:00 , Maira Butt

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.

The White House has sounded the alarm about what might happen if further funding is not approved soon, suggesting Ukraine‘s military would be stalled or overrun.

Activists post billboards asking citizens to vote against Putin

Thursday 7 December 2023 20:01 , Maira Butt

Opposition activists in Russia have dodged censorship laws while urging citizens to vote against President Putin using billboards disguised as holiday greetings.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation founded by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny paid for billboards in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian cities which said “Russia” and “Happy New Year.” But a website address and QR code printed on the signs led to a site titled “Russia without Putin.”

There, voters were encouraged to oppose the longtime Russian leader on March 17, the day that Russian lawmakers have set for the presidential election. The website says the election is important for Putin as a referendum on whether Russians approve of his war in Ukraine, rather than a real contest for the presidency.

Ivan Zhdanov, the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s director, told The Associated Press the billboards had been up for two days and it seems unlikely the agency that put them up checked the contents of the website ahead of time. Journalists for the Associated Press saw several of them were swiftly removed Thursday.

Zhdanov acknowledged the campaign was unlikely to kick Putin out of office — “Nothing will change on election day,” he said.

“Ninety-nine percent of opposition figures who opposed Putin are now either in prison or abroad,” Zhdanov said.

Navalny, 47, who is Putin’s biggest political opponent, is currently serving a term of more than 30 years for convictions on extremism and other charges that his supporters characterize as politically motivated.

This photo taken from video released by telegram channel Navalny's team on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, shows a billboard with the words Happy New Year and the QR code in Moscow, Russia (AP)
This photo taken from video released by telegram channel Navalny's team on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, shows a billboard with the words Happy New Year and the QR code in Moscow, Russia (AP)

Putin hosts Iranian President in round of Middle East diplomacy

Thursday 7 December 2023 19:02 , Maira Butt

Vladimir Putin has hosted Iran’s president as part of a round of Middle East diplomacy that also included visits to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in efforts to raise Moscow’s profile as a power broker in the region.

The Russian president has cast the Israel-Hamas war as a failure of US diplomacy and suggested Moscow could be a mediator, thanks to its friendly ties with both Israel and the Palestinians.

“It’s very important for us to exchange views of the situation in the region, particularly regarding the Palestinian situation,” Mr Putin said as he welcomed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the start of their talks in Moscow.

Mr Raisi emphasised the need to quickly stop the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, declaring that “a child is killed there every 10 minutes”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow (EPA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow (EPA)

Cameron urges US to approve Ukraine aid package

Thursday 7 December 2023 18:00 , Maira Butt

Foreign Secretary David Cameron used a visit to Washington on Thursday to urge politicians in the United States to approve a fresh package of military aid for Ukraine.

Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Wednesday that would have provided billions of dollars in security assistance for Ukraine over disputes around border policy.

“I’m not worried about the strength and unity and consensus and bravery of the Ukrainian people. I’m worried that we’re not going to do what we need to do,” Cameron said.

“We’ve got to make sure we give them the weapons, the economic support, the moral support the diplomatic support, but crucially, that military support that can make a difference.”

Addressing concerns among some in the US that Europe was not doing enough, Cameron said Europe was now doing twice as much as the United States in terms of economic and military support.

David Cameron visited Washington on Thursday and urged support for Ukraine (AP)
David Cameron visited Washington on Thursday and urged support for Ukraine (AP)

Ukraine and US companies to jointly produce 155-caliber ammunition

Thursday 7 December 2023 17:05 , Maira Butt

Ukraine has agreed on joint production of vital 155mm artillery shells with two American companies, a Ukrainian official said on Thursday.

Demand for 155mm artillery rounds skyrocketed following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The US and allies have sent Kyiv more than 2 million rounds of it and were aiming to increase production to refill depleting stocks.

“We have agreements with two leading American companies to jointly produce in Ukraine 155-caliber ammunition,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukrainian minister for strategic industries, said in televised comments.

However, he said that implementation of the deal would take years.

“To produce 155-caliber, the process takes a minimum of two years, a maximum of three. And to start this production, we need technologies that our partners own. Ukraine has never produced this caliber,” he said.

Biden says ‘history will judge’ the US if it doesn’t pass more aid to Ukraine

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:49 , Tom Watling

US President Joe Biden has said “history will judge” the US if they do not pass further aid to Ukraine.

Mr Biden issued a plea on X to Republicans who voted down a proposed package of further aid on Wednesday night.

You can view his plea below.

British MoD release video detailing destruction to eastern Ukraine town

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:30 , Tom Watling

The British Ministry of Defence has published a video detailing the destruction wrought by Russian forces in the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka.

You can view the video below.

Ukraine to use trains to move blocked lorries across Polish border

Thursday 7 December 2023 15:00 , Tom Watling

Ukraine aims to bypass a border blockade by Polish truck drivers by bringing in lorries on train platforms, Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted an official from the national railways company as saying on Thursday.

Protests by Polish truckers started last month against the terms of EU access for Ukrainian lorries. They blocked the main land corridors into Ukraine, leading to higher prices for fuel and some food items as well as delays to drone deliveries to the Ukrainian army.

“Now we have a loaded train standing at the crossing with Hrubeshuv (on the Ukrainian-Polish border). We already have 23 loaded container wagons with lorries,” Valeriy Tkachov, deputy director of the commercial department at the railway, was quoted as saying.

He said that the Ukrainian and Polish sides were currently harmonising technical issues.

“As soon as this test train passes and all is well, we will launch this on a mass scale,” Tkachov said.

Ukrainian authorities say about 3,000 lorries are blocked on the Polish side of the Polish-Ukrainian border and so far the authorities have not been able to agree with the protesters on terms to stop the action.

Polish hauliers’ main demand is to stop Ukrainian truckers having permit-free access to the European Union, something that Kyiv and Brussels say is impossible.

A man offers food for sale to lorry drivers held up because of striking customs officers near Kukuryki at the Polish-Belarus border (REUTERS)
A man offers food for sale to lorry drivers held up because of striking customs officers near Kukuryki at the Polish-Belarus border (REUTERS)

Teenage girl kills classmate and herself in Russia school shooting

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:35 , Tom Watling

A Russian schoolgirl has shot dead a classmate – and injured five others – before killing herself, local authorities have said.

The 14-year-old girl walked into her school in Bryansk, in western Russia, close to the Ukrainian border, with a shotgun registered in the name of her father, according to local authorities.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said the teenager killed one of her classmates and that it looking into a motive.

Teenage girl kills classmate and herself in Russia school shooting

Russian nationalist who wanted to run against Putin to stay in detention

Thursday 7 December 2023 14:00 , Tom Watling

Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who had said he wanted to challenge Vladimir Putin in a presidential election in March, had his detention extended for six months on Thursday as he awaits trial on charges of inciting extremism.

The ruling, announced by a Moscow court, extinguishes the already faint prospect that Girkin might be allowed to run.

The 52-year-old is known in the West for his role in the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of 298 passengers and crew. A Dutch court last year convicted him in absentia of murder. Girkin has denied involvement.

The former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer had organised pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine since early 2014. Also known as Igor Strelkov, he has repeatedly said Russia faces upheaval unless the military leadership fights more effectively in Ukraine.

He could be jailed for five years if convicted of “public calls to commit extremist activity”.

Ex-Russian officer Igor Girkin said Putin’s troops were ‘deteriorating’ in Ukraine (AP)
Ex-Russian officer Igor Girkin said Putin’s troops were ‘deteriorating’ in Ukraine (AP)

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

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:35 , Tom Watling

Nearly 200 Nepalese nationals are serving as mercenaries in the Russian army – but it’s not only a phenomenon benefitting the Kremlin’s military recruitment, as Namita Singh explains.

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

Russia detains man it accuses of blowing up trains on Ukraine’s orders

Thursday 7 December 2023 13:05 , Tom Watling

Russia’s FSB security service said on Thursday it had detained a Belarusian man who had blown up two trains in Siberia on the orders of the Ukrainian intelligence services as part of a sabotage campaign against Russia’s critical infrastructure.

The two attacks in Russia’s Buryatia region, which borders Mongolia and is thousands of kilometres from Ukraine, occurred on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.

A Ukrainian source told Reuters at the time that the operations were conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) which wanted to disrupt railway lines in Siberia that Russia uses for military supplies.

Reuters could not independently verify whether the rail routes were used for military supplies.

In the first attack, explosives were detonated on a cargo train that was moving through the Severomuysky Tunnel. At 9.5 miles (15.3 km) long, the tunnel on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway is Russia’s longest, excluding urban underground railway tunnels.

The second attack hit a freight train as it crossed the Chertov Bridge in the same region on a railway line used as a backup when trains are diverted from the Severomuysky Tunnel.

Russian spies hack high-profile politicians and former spy chief in ‘grey warfare’ campaign

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:35 , Tom Watling

British politicians and civil servants have been hacked by a group “almost certainly” linked to Russia’s security service, a UK foreign minister has said.

Leo Docherty issued a statement in the Commons reporting that they had discovered a cyber influence campaign perpetrated by a group known as Star Blizzard, suspected of being a subordinate of an FSB cyber unit.

The group had “selectively leaked and amplified information” since 2015, conducting an exercise known as spear-phishing to steal information from a “significant” number of parliamentarians from multiple political parties.

Mr Docherty said the Russian ambassador was summoned to the foreign office (FCDO) to be told “these actions have consequences”.

Russian spies hack high-profile politicians and former spy chief

Putin’s plane escorted by four Su-35 fighter jets on rare trip out of Russia to Middle East

Thursday 7 December 2023 12:04 , Tom Watling

Four Sukhoi fighter jets escorted Vladimir Putin‘s presidential plane on Wednesday as he arrived in the UAE for a rare trip outside of Russia.

The Su-35 fighter jets of the Russian Air Force formed a tight safety net around Mr Putin’s plane as they escorted him all the way from Russia to Abu Dhabi, landing at the commercial airport there. Less than 30km away is the Al-Dhafra Air Base, is a major US military hub in the region.

The Russian president has become increasingly isolated on the world stage since launching his invasion of Ukraine and his solo trip to the Middle East, flanked by an unusually heavy air force escort, could not have contrasted more strongly with the show of international unity on display at the Cop28 climate talks nearby.

Russia says White House is ‘demonising' it to win over Congress

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:39 , Tom Watling

The Kremlin has accused the White House of playing the Russian threat card in order to secure money from Congress, after President Joe Biden said Russia would eventually attack a NATO member country unless it was defeated in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Biden wanted to “continue burning taxpayers’ money in the furnace of war”.

He accused the White House of demonising Russia and said that, if Washington were to stop backing Kyiv, all other Western countries would also turn away from it.

President Biden warned congress aid to Ukraine ‘cannot wait' (Getty Images)
President Biden warned congress aid to Ukraine ‘cannot wait' (Getty Images)

Ukraine claims assassination of ‘traitor’ ex-MP who fled to Russia

Thursday 7 December 2023 11:05 , Tom Watling

A pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who fled to Moscow after Vladimir Putin’s invasion has been shot dead, with Ukraine’s security service said to be behind the assassination.

Illia Kyva, 46, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament, was shot shot in a park in Odintsovo region, southwest of Moscow, according to Russian investigators.

A Ukrainian source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the SBU security service was responsible.

Andriy Yusov, spokesperson for Ukraine’s GUR, another intelligence agency, said on Ukrainian television Kyva was “finished” but did not say who was behind his death.

Ukraine claims assassination of ‘traitor’ ex-MP who fled to Russia

Ukraine suffering power deficit due to cold weather - grid operator

Thursday 7 December 2023 10:30 , Tom Watling

Ukraine‘s power grid operator Ukrenergo said on Thursday that cold weather had pushed power usage 2.7% above forecast levels, causing a deficit in the power system which was being filled by imports from Poland, Slovakia and Romania.

Ukrenergo said in a statement on the Telegram app that 700 MW of power would flow into Ukraine from neighbouring countries from 11:00 to 19:00 local time (0900 to 1700 GMT) on Thursday.

Ukrainian service members help to clear a highway and release cars stuck in snow following a heavy snowstorm in Odesa region (via REUTERS)
Ukrainian service members help to clear a highway and release cars stuck in snow following a heavy snowstorm in Odesa region (via REUTERS)

Russian schoolgirl shoots classmates, killing one

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:58 , Tom Watling

A Russian schoolgirl shot several of her classmates, killing one person and injuring five others, before killing herself, state news agencies and authorities have said.

The shooting happened at a school in Bryansk, in a region that borders Ukraine, Russia’s Investigative Committee said.

Children were reportedly among the wounded.

One of the people injured was in a serious condition, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said.

Video shared by RIA Novosti showed children cowered in a classroom behind a door barricaded with upended desks and chairs during the attack.

Occupied Ukraine could take part in Russian presidential elections, says Kremlin

Thursday 7 December 2023 09:00 , Tom Watling

The Russian central election commission has said that it will make a decision by 12 December on whether the four regions of occupied Ukraine, which Vladimir Putin claimed as Russian territory last September, will take part in presidential elections next year.

Interfax quotes the head of the commission, Ella Pamfilova, saying:”Having weighed all the pros and cons, we will make such a decision.

“If we accept it, then the next step will be to adopt the procedure for holding elections there; of course, it will be somewhat different, as the law provides for this, from voting in other constituent entities of the Russian Federation.”

The Russian Federation claimed to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson from Ukraine in late 2022, despite not fully controlling the territory of any of the regions.

In September 2023, the four occupied regions held elections as part of Russia’s 2023 regional elections.

Zelensky thanks Japan for billion-dollar package

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:30 , Tom Watling

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed gratitude to his Japanese counterpart for a billion-dollar pledge.

In a message on X, Mr Zelensky wrote: “I am grateful to Japan and Prime Minister

Fumio Kishida for the decision to provide an additional $1 billion in assistance to Ukraine as well as their readiness to further increase the total to $4.5 billion.

“This is significant support for the recovery of Ukraine and our economy.”

The Japanese pledge comes as the support of other countries, such as the US, has been cast in doubt.

Russia confirms next presidential election

Thursday 7 December 2023 08:00 , Tom Watling

Russia’s upper house of parliament has voted to set the date for Russia’s presidential election for 17 March , 2024.

The decision was passed unanimously by 162 votes in the Federation Council.

“With this decision, we are effectively launching the start of the election campaign,” Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federation Council, said.

While few expected anyone but Vladimir Putin to win the election - he has held effective charge of Russia for nearly a quarter of a century - the autocrat will still have to campaign in the run-up to next March.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Wednesday (Sputnik)
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Wednesday (Sputnik)

What’s happening this morning in Ukraine? Day 652

Thursday 7 December 2023 07:46 , Tom Watling

Ukrainian soldiers were dealt a serious blow overnight - not from the Russian forces across the field, rather from Republican Senators across the Atlantic.

Senate Republicans blocked the advance of tens of billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine and Israel on Wednesday, remaining concerned about shoring up the border with Mexico, with President Joe Biden calling the move “stunning” and dangerous.

US military aid will run out by the end of the year if this is not unblocked. Max Bergmann, a Ukraine and Russia expert, told The Independent “many Ukrainians will die” if this is not remedied.

You can read more on this here.

On the frontline

Russian forces made confirmed, though marginal, gains southeast of Avdiivka, a town in eastern Ukraine that has become a flashpoint on the frontline. Ukrainian forces made confirmed counterattack gains northwest of Avdiivka.

In Ukraine

A driver has been killed and grain infrastructure damaged after a Russian drone attack on Ukrainian grain infrastructure near the Danube River slipped through air defences, the governor of Odessa region has said.

The governor said the drones attacked over two hours overnight, and that while most were shot down, some got through, damaging a storage building, an elevator and trucks.

In Russia

A former Ukrainian lawmaker regarded by Kyiv as a traitor has been shot dead near Moscow and a Ukrainian source said he was killed by the country’s security service.

Illia Kyva was a pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament before Moscow invaded in February 2022, but had been in Russia throughout the war and frequently criticised Ukrainian authorities online.

In Europe

A top Ukrainian official, Andriy Yermak, has said he wants to arrange a meeting between the Ukrainian and Hungarian leaders amid Budapest’s opposition to a proposal to start talks on European Union membership for Kyiv.

Unanimous approval at an EU summit next week is needed to proceed with membership talks for Ukraine and ex-Soviet Moldova as recommended by the European Commission. Kyiv sees EU membership as a key step, 21 months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, of moving closer to the West.

Ukraine-US talks on Wednesday were undermined by Republican Senators voting down a bill on further aid (Getty Images)
Ukraine-US talks on Wednesday were undermined by Republican Senators voting down a bill on further aid (Getty Images)

Here are some of the latest photos from Ukraine

Thursday 7 December 2023 07:24 , Tom Watling

Below are some of the latest photos from Ukraine.

A dejected US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken leaves Capitol Hill after the Senate voted down additional funding to Ukraine (EPA)
A dejected US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken leaves Capitol Hill after the Senate voted down additional funding to Ukraine (EPA)
Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko takes selfies with people in the St. Sophia square, next to a newly built Christmas tree in Kyiv (AP)
Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko takes selfies with people in the St. Sophia square, next to a newly built Christmas tree in Kyiv (AP)
Russian investigators are seen at Illia Kyva’s house, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who was assassinated yesterday near Moscow (AP)
Russian investigators are seen at Illia Kyva’s house, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who was assassinated yesterday near Moscow (AP)

Putin visits UAE and Saudi Arabia in bid to boost Moscow’s clout

Thursday 7 December 2023 07:12 , Maira Butt

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a lightning tour intended to raise Moscow’s profile as a Middle East power broker, even as his war in Ukraine grinds on.Putin landed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates, that is hosting the United Nations’ COP28 climate talks. It was his first trip to the region since before the coronavirus pandemic and the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.Speaking at the start of his talks with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Putin offered to discuss energy cooperation, the conflict in the Middle East and the “Ukrainian crisis.”

He praised the current state of Russia‘s relations with the UAE and congratulated the country for hosting the COP28 climate talks.

President Vladimir Putin visited Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud (EPA)
President Vladimir Putin visited Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud (EPA)

G7 bans Russian diamonds from January in show of solidarity to Zelensky

Thursday 7 December 2023 06:22 , Arpan Rai

The Group of Seven (G7) nations will ban direct imports of Russian diamonds starting next year as a punitive measure against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

There will be phased-in restrictions on indirect imports of Russian gems from March, a joint statement yesterday after the G7 nations’ meeting said. The measures were announced as Joe Biden and leaders of the G7 countries met Volodymyr Zelensky virtually in a show of solidarity.

The new measures will ensure a ban on non-industrial diamonds from Russia by 1 January and on third-party nations which sell Russian diamonds from March.

The move was being mulled as a part of fresh sanctions by the European Union last month. The G7 will phase in restrictions on indirect imports from a targeted date of March and introduce a “robust traceability-based verification and certification” mechanism for rough diamonds within the G7 by 1 September 2024. The ban excludes diamonds for industrial use.

Read more here:

G7 bans Russian diamonds from January in show of solidarity to Zelensky

In pictures: US sends military aid but warns it could be ‘last’ unless congress approves additional funding

Thursday 7 December 2023 06:15 , Maira Butt

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomes Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov with an official ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, United States on Wednesday (Anadolu via Getty Images)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomes Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov with an official ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, United States on Wednesday (Anadolu via Getty Images)
President Biden warned congress aid to Ukraine ‘cannot wait' (Getty Images)
President Biden warned congress aid to Ukraine ‘cannot wait' (Getty Images)
Zelensky thanked Biden and the American people for their support (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
Zelensky thanked Biden and the American people for their support (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)

Senate Republicans and Bernie Sanders block vote on Ukraine and Israel aid

Thursday 7 December 2023 06:03 , Arpan Rai

Senate Republicans and Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blocked a vote on a supplemental bill that would have provided aid to Ukraine and Israel as Republicans continue negotiations to tie restrictions on immigration with aid to Ukraine.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had put the supplemental legislation – which included $110.5bn in aid to Ukraine and Israel as well as humanitarian assistance for Gaza--to a floor vote in an attempt to pressure Republicans.

“To show our Republican colleagues that we care about this issue deeply and are serious about moving forward in a bipartisan way, we are willing to give them an amendment here on the floor on any border proposal of their choice, at sixty votes,” Mr Schumer said in a speech before the vote.

Senate Republicans and Bernie Sanders block vote Ukraine and Israel aid

Russia amps up attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities, says UN

Thursday 7 December 2023 05:40 , Arpan Rai

Intensifying Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities are worsening humanitarian conditions across the war-torn country, where heavy snow and freezing temperatures have already arrived, UN officials said yesterday.

Russia’s continuing daily attacks on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure have resulted in civilian casualties, and Moscow recently escalated its barrages in populated areas including the capital, Kyiv, assistant secretary-general Miroslav Jenca told the UN Security Council.

“All attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop immediately,” he said. “They are prohibited under international humanitarian law and are simply unacceptable.”

UN: Russia intensifies attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities, worsening humanitarian conditions

Zelensky ‘grateful’ for new US aid package

Thursday 7 December 2023 05:16 , Maira Butt

The US sent a $175 million aid package to Ukraine on Wednesday in what Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, called “the last” of such packages unless Congress approved supplemental funding for Ukraine’s war against the Russian invasion.

Following the support, President Zelensky took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to thank the American government and express his gratitude.

He said: “I am grateful to @POTUS Joe Biden, Congress, and the American people for the new military aid package announced today.

“Additional ammunition for air defense, HIMARS, and artillery is much needed on the frontlines.

“Continued support allows for a robust defense of freedom.”

Ukrainian MP who supported Russia found shot dead in Moscow suburb

Thursday 7 December 2023 04:15 , Maira Butt

A former Ukrainian lawmaker regarded by Kyiv as a traitor was shot dead near Moscow on Wednesday and a Ukrainian source said he was killed by the country’s security service.

Illia Kyva was a pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament before Moscow invaded in February 2022, but had been in Russia throughout the war and frequently criticised Ukrainian authorities online.

Russian investigators said Kyva died on the spot after being shot in a park in Odintsovo region, southwest of Moscow, and they had opened a murder hunt.

The Ukrainian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the SBU security service was responsible.

Andriy Yusov, spokesperson for Ukraine’s GUR, another intelligence agency, said on Ukrainian television Kyva was “finished” but did not say who was behind his death.

Kyva had been sentenced in absentia by a Ukrainian court to 14 years in prison for charges including treason and incitement to violence.

Several pro-war Russian figures have been assassinated since the start of the war in operations blamed by Moscow on Ukraine, including journalist Darya Dugina and war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky.