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Vladimir Putin snubbed the new British ambassador to Moscow as he kept his distance from a gathering of foreign diplomats “for sanitary reasons”.
“Unfortunately, for sanitary reasons, we cannot talk more, socialise,” he told them on Monday night from 70ft away.
“I hope that better times will come, not only in politics but also in health care, and we will be able to do so.”
The Russian president added that he hoped for “change for the better” in relations between London and Moscow.
He was speaking at the Kremlin in front of an enormous golden door as new foreign ambassadors formally presented their diplomatic credentials.
The speech was reminiscent of Putin’s engagements during the pandemic during which he would sit at the opposite end of long tables to foreign dignitaries.
Nigel Casey was appointed as Britain’s new ambassador to Russia in November.
03:04 PM GMT
That's all for today
Thank you for following today’s live blog on the war in Ukraine.
03:03 PM GMT
Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Wednesday, the Kremlin said
Nato has just three years to prepare for an attack by Russia, Poland’s national security agency warned
Ukraine has lost £200million because of the Polish border trucker blockade, an MP said
Russia will return six children it took from occupied Ukraine after a deal brokered by Qatar
Russian children were filmed shooting at portraits of Zelensky, Biden and Stoltenberg
Ukraine has expanded its Dnipro river bridgehead, the ISW said
The number of Russian soldiers trying to desert was said to have almost doubled in the last three months
02:54 PM GMT
Ukrainian drones strike Russian military in occupied Crimea
Ukrainian drones successfully damaged a number of Russian military sites in occupied Crimea on Tuesday morning, the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper reported.
Citing sources in the Ukrainian security service (SBU), the newspaper said a Nebo-M mobile radar unit was struck near Baherevo in the east of the peninsula.
To the north in the village of Strilkove, drones destroyed a P-18 Terek mobile radar unit and a Baikal-1M mobile anti-aircraft command centre.
02:24 PM GMT
Putin addresses ambassadors from 70ft away in bizarre ceremony
Vladimir Putin has addressed new foreign ambassadors from 70ft away in a bizarre ceremony.
The ambassadors were presenting their diplomatic credentials to the president, who stood at a distance in front of an enormous golden door for “sanitary reasons”.
Mr Putin did not greet them personally after a speech reminiscent of the Covid pandemic, when he attracted ridicule for speaking to foreign dignataries from opposite ends of an ornate table.
🇷🇺President of Russia Vladimir Putin received the letters of credence from 21 newly appointed foreign ambassadors. By tradition, the ceremony took place in the Alexander Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace.
🔗More info: https://t.co/3lCtjM6XbH pic.twitter.com/53iCBznD8w
— Russian Embassy in the Philippines (@RusEmbManila) December 5, 2023
02:15 PM GMT
Number of Russian soldiers trying to desert 'almost doubles'
The number of Russian soldiers contacting a group which assists deserters has almost doubled in the last three months, the Moscow Times has reported.
The Idite Lesom group, which translates as “Get Lost”, aid it received 577 requests for assistance between September and November, an increase of 89 per cent from the figures for June to August.
“Servicemen see that there is no rotation, that even seriously wounded men are sent back to the front after being hospitalised,” said Sergei Krivenko, director of the “Citizen. Army. Rights.” human rights group.
Grigory Sverdlin, Idite Lesom’s leader, said most soldiers who attempt to desert have been wounded.
It is difficult for Russian soldiers to desert because they have to surrender their passports within five days of being called up. Many do not have passports that are valid for international travel.
01:56 PM GMT
ISW: Ukraine expands Dnipro bridgehead
Ukraine has expanded its bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnipro river, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank has said.
The ISW said Ukrainian forces had “recently established a confirmed position on Bilohrudnyi Island south-west of Kherson city”.
“Geolocated footage published on 30 November, 1 December and 3 December shows Ukrainian forces engaging Russian forces in the settlement of Bilohrudove, indicating that Russian forces likely control most of Bilodrudnyi Island and that Ukrainian forces have recently established positions near Bilohrudove,” it said.
“A Russian milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces have positions in Bilohrudove as of December 4.”
Ukrainian marines crossed the Dnipro and established positions there last month. Bitter fighting has raged ever since as Russia looks to force them back across the river.
01:31 PM GMT
Russian children shoot Zelensky, Biden and Stoltenberg pictures
Russian children have been filmed shooting at portraits of Volodymyr Zelensky, Joe Biden and Jens Stoltenberg.
Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s internal affairs ministry, posted video footage of the firing range online.
It showed a group of youths firing mock assault rifles at pictures of the three men.
A report in Russia’s AiF newspaper said it was filmed at a technical college in the Siberian city of Tomsk on Saturday.
In Russia, children "learn patriotism" while shooting at Biden, Zelenskyy and Stoltenberg.
A festival called "Peaceful Warrior of the Russian Federation" was held in the Russian city of Tomsk. At one of the locations, a shooting range was set up for children, where instead of… pic.twitter.com/c55YStNBN5
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) December 5, 2023
01:11 PM GMT
Charles Michel to cut short China visit ahead of summit
Charles Michel will cut short a visit to China ahead of next week’s crucial European Union summit.
The European Council president’s return comes amid fears that Viktor Orban will disrupt the EU leaders’ summit next Tuesday, reports Politico.
12:25 PM GMT
Orban to meet Macron ahead of crunch EU summit
Viktor Orban will meet Emmanuel Macron on Thursday ahead of a crunch European Union summit next week.
The Hungarian prime minister said on Monday that the EU should avoid any discussion Ukraine’s ambition to start accession talks when it meets next Tuesday.
A French government source told Politico that the French president believes he can convince Mr Orban to support Ukraine’s accession.
The support of every EU head of state is required for a country to start accession talks.
12:14 PM GMT
Ukrainian children seized by Russia to be reunited with families
Russia has agreed to reunited six Ukrainian children who it seized from occupied Ukrainian territory with their families after negotiations mediated by Qatar.
The Gulf state has secured the release of the children, aged between eight and 15.
It is the second deal to have been successfully mediated by Qatar after a group of four other children were returned in October.
Ukraine has accused Russia of forcibly deporting 20,000 children from occupied territory since it invaded in February 2022.
Fewer than 400 have been allowed to return home.
11:27 AM GMT
Polish border blockade costs Ukraine £200m
The blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border by disgruntled truckers has cost Ukraine £200million, an MP has said.
Danylo Hetmantsev, head of Ukraine’s parliamentary tax committee, said exports across the border have dropped by 40 per cent, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
“By weakening Ukraine, they are strengthening our common enemy and pushing it to hit the economies of their own countries more powerfully,” he said.
Mr Hetmantsev added that Ukraine has lost £200million ($251million) in customs payments that would have been made if the blockade had not been implemented.
11:03 AM GMT
In case you missed it – Ukraine: The Latest
In yesterday’s Ukraine: The Latest, as well as news from the frontlines, we analyse news from the US and the EU as decisions regarding funding Ukraine’s war effort loom large in western politics and we speak to journalist Jen Stout about her reporting and long form journalism from Ukraine.
10:50 AM GMT
Zelensky hails Ukraine's civilian volunteers
Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed Ukraine’s civilian volunteers as an “army of active Ukrainians”.
“On International Volunteer Day, we honour Ukrainian civilian volunteers,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“Symbolically, this day falls on the eve of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Day. Because our civilian volunteers are essentially another branch of our army and another source of strength for us.”
On International Volunteer Day, we honor Ukrainian civilian volunteers. Symbolically, this day falls on the eve of Ukraine's Armed Forces Day. Because our civilian volunteers are essentially another branch of our army and another source of strength for us.
Our guard of the… pic.twitter.com/X4TF2q6aor
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 5, 2023
10:28 AM GMT
Finnish firms 'smuggled 3,500 drones to Russia'
Two Finish companies are suspected of earning millions by exporting 3,500 drones to Russia in violation of European Union sanctions, Finland’s customs agency has said.
Drones, controllers, semiconductors and anti-drone defences had been cleared for export to other countries but ended up in Russia.
“There are altogether six criminal suspects, one of whom has been detained since September,” the Tulli agency said.
10:00 AM GMT
Slovak truckers end border blockade
Slovak truckers have ended their blockade of the country’s sole truck crossing with Ukraine.
The hauliers joined their Polish counterparts in blocking the checkpoint in protest against competition from Ukrainians.
Stanislav Skala, head of the UNAS truckers union, told Reuters that the blockade had been “interrupted” after some hauliers stuck in the resulting queue threatened to block roads near the crossing, which would cut access to villages near the border.
He added that union leaders will meet later today to discuss further action.
UNAS started the blockade at the Vysne Nemecke crossing on Friday, only allowing four trucks to pass per hour.
09:35 AM GMT
Finland to up artillery shell production to help Ukraine
Finland will spend tens of millions to increase its production of artillery shells for Ukraine, defence minister Antti Hakkanen has said.
“We have finalised negotiations on how Finland will continue to increase its munition production to arm Ukraine,” he said, adding that it would invest tens of millions of euros in the project.
Finland has supplied Ukraine with £1.3bn ($1.7bn) in military aid since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
09:12 AM GMT
Russia aiming to take all of Donetsk this winter, says MoD
Russia is aiming to take control of the entire Donetsk region this winter, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
In its latest defence intelligence briefing, the MoD said the Russian army has made “creeping advances” in the ruined town of Marinka in recent weeks.
“Russia’s renewed efforts against Marinka are part of Russia’s autumn offensive which is prioritising extending Russia’s control over the remaining parts of the Donetsk Oblast – highly likely still one of the Kremlin’s core war aims,” it said.
09:07 AM GMT
Nato has three years to prepare for Russian attack, warns Poland
Nato has just three years to prepare for an attack by Russia, Poland’s national security agency has said.
Jacek Siewiera, head of the National Security Bureau, said a German think tank’s estimate that Russia could directly attack the West in “as little as six to 10 years” was incorrect.
“If we want to avoid war, Nato countries on the eastern flank should adopt a shorter, three-year time period to prepare for confrontation,” he told the Nasz Dziennik newspaper.
The German Council on Foreign Relations warned in a report last month that Russia could invade a Nato country in six years’ time and that Germany’s armed forces needed a “quantum leap” to be ready for it.
Mr Siewiera added that Poland needs to increase the size of its army in preparation for a potential attack.
08:52 AM GMT
Iranian president to visit Russia
The president of Iran will visit Russia on Thursday with a political and economic delegation.
Ebraham Raisi’s visit follows a trip by foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian to Moscow on Tuesday.
Russia and Iran have grown increasingly close since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Tehran has supplied Russia with vast numbers of its Shahed drones.
08:46 AM GMT
Russian shelling kills two in Kherson
Russian artillery shelling this morning has killed two civilians and injured three others in Kherson.
A 48-year-old man and a woman not yet identified were killed at around 9am local time (7am GMT) in a strike that also injured a 59-year-old man, governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.
City mayor Roman Mrochko said two doctors were wounded in a separate artillery strike on a medical facility.
Andriy Yermark, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, posted photographs of two dead bodies on Telegram with the caption “terrorists”, a reference to the Russian army.
Kherson was recaptured by Ukraine just over a year ago and has since been shelled constantly by Russian forces on the opposite side of the Dnipro river that runs next to the city.
08:33 AM GMT
Putin tours mock nuclear facility
Vladimir Putin toured a mock nuclear facility on Monday as he visited an exhibition of Russian achievements.
The Russian president was shown a fake “nuclear button” but declined to press it, Reuters reported.
He was also given an explanation of a Soviet nuclear bomb, shown a mock missile control panel and observed images of a blast through a viewing window.
Mr Putin has repeatedly spoken of the size and capability of Russia’s nuclear arsenal since the start of the war in Ukraine.
08:05 AM GMT
Russia advancing on Avdiivka, says ISW
Russia has made “confirmed advances” near the besieged eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tanks has said.
The ISW said “geolocated footage” showed the Russian army advancing on Monday to the north and north-west of the town, which it is fighting bitterly to take control of.
It added that a Ukrainian counter-attack to the south of Stepove, a nearby town, had been successful.
The brutal fighting near Avdiivka has evoked comparisons with Bakhmut, the town which Russia took at exceptional cost earlier this year.
07:43 AM GMT
Putin to visit Saudi Arabia and UAE
Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, the Kremlin has announced.
He will meet Saudi crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman before going to the UAE, where the COP28 climate conference is ongoing, according to Russian media reports.
It is not clear if Mr Putin will make an appearance at the climate summit.
“I hope that these will be very useful negotiations, which we consider extremely important,” Mr Putin’s aide, Yuri Ushakov, said.
The internationally isolated Russian president has rarely visited other countries since the war in Ukraine began.
He is facing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for war crimes but will not be detained by Saudi Arabia or the UAE because they are not parties to the court.
07:35 AM GMT
Not funding Ukraine will 'let Putin prevail', says US
Congress will “let Putin prevail” if it fails to approve the deadlocked £48bn ($61bn) aid package for Ukraine, national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said.
“Congress has to decide whether to continue to support the fight for freedom in Ukraine... or whether Congress will ignore the lessons we’ve learned from history and let Putin prevail,” Mr Sullivan told reporters at the White House.
“It is that simple. It is that stark a choice.”
His remarks came after Shalanda Young, Joe Biden’s budget director, said on Monday that current US funding for Ukraine would run out by the end of the month.
Volodymyr Zelensky will talk to Senators later today in a private address in a bid to convince them to support the aid package.
07:32 AM GMT
Ukraine launches 41 drones on occupied Crimea
Ukraine launched a 41-drone armada on occupied Crimea overnight, the Russian defence ministry has said.
It said 22 drones were “destroyed” and 13 “intercepted” over occupied Crimea and the Sea of Azov overnight.
“An attempt by the Kyiv regime to commit a terrorist attack with aerial drones... was foiled last night,” it said.
A “new attack attempt” on Tuesday morning saw four drones shot down and two interceptd over the Sea of Azov, it said in a separate statement.
The difference between a drone being destroyed and a drone being intercepted was not specified.