Ukraine: Russian Wagner base hit by missile strike in Svatove
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Speaking in an interview with US showman David Letterman filmed at the end of October and aired this evening for Netflix, the Ukrainian President said he believes the war will end as soon as Vladimir Putin dies. Dismissing the Russian leader’s threats of a nuclear attack on the West, Mr Zelensky said: “I saw him (Putin) and his desire to live. He loves life very much – he even sits behind a long table… because he is afraid of COVID-19.”
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KEY EVENTSMacron pledges ‘full support’ to Ukraine peace proposal 10:55Russian losses in Ukraine near 100,000 after 200 killed in strikes 09:30Russia is “currently unlikely to achieve its objectives” in Ukraine09:20Kyiv bombs strike two hotels housing Wagner thugs08:40
Russian dad recounts harrowing moment Putin’s forces ‘beat’ his son for refusing to fight
A Russian father has recounted the horrifying moment his son was “beaten over the head with a pistol” after refusing to fight in Ukraine.
In an interview with the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg, an elderly Russian man, who used the nickname “Sergei” to protect his anonymity, told of how he made several trips to the frontlines in Ukraine to retrieve his son, who had been detained and was, for all intents and purposes, missing in action.
His son, who went by the nickname “Stas”, was already an army officer when he was called up to fight at the beginning of the war, and though he had declined his father’s advice to stay home, eventually changed his mind about fighting after he was instructed to engage in a battle without any cover or realistic prospect of survival.
Sergei recalled: “So off he went to Ukraine. Then I started getting messages from him asking what would happen if he refused to fight.”
“Stas said the [Russian] soldiers had been given no cover; there was no intelligence gathering; no preparation. They’d been ordered to advance, but no one knew what lay ahead.
“But refusing to fight was a difficult decision for him to take. I told him: ‘Better to take it. This is not our war. It’s not a war of liberation.’
“He said he would put his refusal in writing. He and several others who’d decided to refuse had their guns taken off them and were put under armed guard.”
Bold move would deal ‘catastrophic’ blow to Russia’s teetering economy as recession bites
The West has been urged tighten the screws on Vladimir Putin with a move which could deal a ‘catastrophic’ blow to Russia’s already fragile economy.
And Vladyslav Vlasiuk said sanctions are already taking their toll, 10 months after Putin ordered his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Vlasiuk, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, was speaking days after it was confirmed Russia’s economy’s shrunk by four percent in the third quarter of 2022, meaning it is officially in recession.
He was also commenting in the wake of the G7’s agreement of a price cap of $60 a barrel on purchases of Russian oil on December 3.
Mr Vlasiuk, who is also Deputy Head of the Task Force Ukraine, told Express.co.uk Ukraine had by contrast been pushing for a price cap of $35 a barrel.
Speaking via video link and warning the transmission could be interrupted at any time by another air raid, he explained: “This price would mean that Russia will get no more than $150-170 billions in revenue next year for the oil, which would be a catastrophe for its state budget.
“The price of $60 is not a catastrophe – it will be impactful, but not excessive.”
Russian tank blown to smithereens as huge fireball erupts after dramatic face-off
Almost 3,000 Russian tanks have been immobilised or commandeered by Ukrainian forces since Putin’s forces invaded on February 24.
Ukrainian forces have destroyed a Russian tank after a dramatic duel during which the two vehicles squared off against each other.
In footage shared by the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, who were responsible for the successful hit, the Ukrainian T-64 tank can be seen driving down a dirt path between the ruins of a war zone before firing multiple times at the Russian T-73, which explodes into a fireball.
Putin will not use nuclear weapons because he is ‘scared of death’, says Zelensky
Despite Putin’s threats, a defiant President Zelensky has expressed his doubt that Putin will order a nuclear strike on Ukraine.
The Ukrainian President was interviewed by David Letterman for his Netflix programme ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’.
According to Zelensky, the Russian President is too scared of his own death and enjoys life too much to make such an error.
“I saw him, and I saw his desire to live – he loves life a lot”, Zelensky said.
He added: “He even sits at a long table, as he is terrified of catching Covid or something else.
“I am not sure if he’s ready to use nuclear weapons because he understands that if he does do that, any country could next move against him personally.”
Putin despairs as Russian troops bogged down in Ukraine ‘unlikely’ to make new offensive
Vladimir Putin will not be able to launch another offensive in Ukraine as he cannot muster enough troops.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that the Russian army has become stuck in of the country as it continues to focus on “liberating” the Donbas region.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow’s aims have remained unchanged since the invasion in February.
‘Tortured, murdered!’ Ukraine accuses Russia of mass rape as war crimes probe launched
Prosecutors in Ukraine are working with an international team of legal experts to gather evidence on Russian soldiers inflicting mass sexual violence on civilians.
Russian soldiers stand accused of using mass rape as a weapon of war. Legal experts from the Hague have been on the ground in Ukraine to collect evidence of alleged sexual crimes by Russian forces.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied committing war crimes and rejected allegations of sexual violence by the Russian military but investigators in Ukraine report that the number of alleged war crimes is running into the tens of thousands.
The heads of the International Energy Agency and European Union’s executive branch said Monday that the 27-nation bloc is expected to weather an energy crisis this winter but needs to speed renewables to the market and take other steps to avoid a potential shortage next year in natural gas needed for heating, electricity and factories.
Even after Russia cut most natural gas to Europe amid the war in Ukraine, EU countries largely were able to fill gas storage for the winter heating season by tapping new supplies, saving energy and benefiting from mild weather and low demand from China amid COVID-19 lockdowns.
But those reasons could evaporate next year, making it critical that the EU focus on ramping up energy efficiency efforts, easing the way for renewables and continuing to conserve energy, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a joint news conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“This winter, it looks like we are off the hook,” Birol said, despite “some economic and social bruises.” However, he added that “the crisis is not over and next year may well be … much more difficult than this year.”
The IEA says the EU faces a possible natural gas shortfall of up to 30 billion cubic meters, citing the potential of losing the rest of Russian pipeline supply and a tight market for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, that comes by ship if Chinese demand rebounds.
Plus, “nobody can guarantee that next year’s temperature is as mild is this year,” Birol said.
Zelensky opens up to David Letterman
David Letterman travelled to Kyiv to sit down with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for a special one-off episode of Netflix’s “My Next Guest,” debuting Monday. “I’ve never done anything quite like this,” says Letterman in a clip as he descends on an escalator 300 feet below ground. The conversation was recorded in October on a subway platform-turned-stage, complete with a small live audience.
Prime Minister calls on G7 leaders to remain aligned
Rishi Sunak called on world leaders to remain aligned “politically, economically, and militarily” to win the war in Ukraine, at a virtual meeting of G7 leaders this afternoon.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister said it was clear Putin was realising he could no longer win on the battlefield and was now resorting to cynical tactics, including barbaric attacks on critical national infrastructure.
“Negotiations while the Kremlin inflicted such harm on the Ukrainian people was unimaginable, and Putin needed to withdraw his forces before genuine peace discussions could happen, the Prime Minister said, adding that any political strategy had to follow the battlefield reality.
“He called on G7 partners to combine their efforts and match their support to Ukraine in 2023. Remaining aligned politically, economically, and militarily was the only way to be sure Putin felt the cost of his actions, the Prime Minister reflected.”
EU sanctions Iranian experts helping Russia
European Union foreign ministers imposed new sanctions Monday on Iranian clerics, senior officials and top state media employees over the brutal crackdown on protesters, and also on experts they believe are linked to supplying Russia with explosive drones to use in its war against Ukraine.
The ministers imposed bans on traveling to Europe and froze the assets of 20 individuals. They also froze the assets of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, saying the media outlet was a “mouthpiece” for “the violent response to the recent demonstrations in Iran.”
Iranian women — and some men — have protested the government’s severe restrictions on their daily life since late September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Iran executed a second prisoner convicted over crimes committed during the nationwide protests challenging the country’s theocracy, publicly hanging him Monday from a construction crane as a gruesome warning to others.
In a statement, the EU ministers called on Iran “to immediately end the strongly condemnable practice of imposing and carrying out death sentences against protesters as well as to annul without delay the recent death penalty sentences that were already pronounced.”
The ministers also hit out at Iran for supplying drones to Russia, saying the “weapons provided by Iran are being used indiscriminately by Russia against Ukrainian civilian population and infrastructure causing horrendous destruction and human suffering.”
Four people and four “entities” – often agencies, media outlets, companies or organisations – were hit with sanctions “for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
UK pledges to ‘turn lights back on’ Ukraine amid Russia’s attacks
Today, Exports Minister Andrew Bowie attended ‘Ukraine: Turning the Lights Back On – A supply procurement event’ to discuss government support in working together with Ukraine in meeting its short-term energy needs this winter.
Mr Bowie gave a speech to attendees outlining how the government is fully committed to supporting Ukraine in the fight against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war.
He pledged £10 million to the Ukraine Energy Support Fund – more than any other nation, and enough to deliver 850 generators to keep hospitals treating patients and keep powering critical infrastructure; $50 million guarantee to Ukraine’s public energy provider, Ukrenergo, through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to keep their power network running; £5 million for safety and security equipment to keep Ukraine’s nuclear energy sector going; and for UK Export Finance, the UK’s world leading export credit agency, to provide finance and insurance against war risks including half a billion-pound war chest to deploy in Ukraine and already supports British businesses with export insurance covering the risk of non-payment.
He said: “The scale of damage to infrastructure and livelihoods in Ukraine due to Putin’s illegal war is catastrophic. Ukraine needs critical assistance from the UK supply chain to help restore power in areas where essential infrastructure has been destroyed.
“This government is committed to supporting Ukraine. That’s why this winter we have a range of support packages, including providing £10m to the Ukraine Energy Support Fund – more than any other nation.
“Working together with industry, let’s do everything we can to support Ukraine, to keep the lights on, to keep hospitals running, to keep people warm – and to win their fight for freedom.”
Russia says MiG-31 fighter scrambled to escort Norwegian Air Force Orion over Barents Sea
A MiG-31 fighter jet of the Northern Fleet Air Defence Forces escorted a Norwegian R-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft over the Barents Sea, the Defence Ministry said.
The interceptor took to the skies after airspace controls detected a target over the sea area approaching the country’s border.
“The crew of the Russian fighter identified the air target as the R-3C Orion base patrol aircraft of the Norwegian Air Force and escorted it over the Barents Sea. As a result of the professional actions of the fighter crew, tracking and control over the manoeuvres of the foreign warship was ensured,” the defence ministry said.
After the Orion turned away from the state border, the Russian fighter returned to its base airfield.
The flight of the Russian fighter took place in strict accordance with international rules. The MiG-31 did not cross air routes and did not make a dangerous rendezvous with a foreign aircraft.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed in October that the number of flights by NATO reconnaissance and tactical aircraft near Russia’s borders this year has increased by 30 percent compared to the previous one.
Russian fighter jets regularly rise to escort the military aircraft of the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, which are trying to fly up to the borders of the country. Most often they appear over the Black Sea and the Baltic.
The Federal Air Transport Agency is confident that the increased intensity of flights by NATO countries near Russia creates risks for civilian aircraft.
Putin cancels end of year press conference
Vladimir Putin will not hold his “giant end of year press conference” this year, a Kremlin official has revealed, despite not having missed one in 10 years.
Since 2012, the final press conference of the President has been held every year in December. On Monday, however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that there will “not be a press conference before the New Year”.
In November, the media reported that the press conference was not prepared.
One of the reasons for the cancellation, as the media reported, was the “situation at the contact line”.
While Putin is not officially in charge of the war effort in Ukraine, which he calls a “special military operation”, reports have suggested he is making direct decisions, such as the continued assault in Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.
Macron pledges ‘full support’ to Ukraine peace proposal
French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to give his “full support” to Ukraine’s peace proposals during a conversation with the nation’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday.
The pair spoke ahead of two conferences to be held in Paris on Tuesday to discuss supporting Ukraine through the winter. The first will be an international meeting of the G7 while the second will be a support conference during which 500 French companies will meet to talk about the critical needs of Ukraine, to contribute to the reconstruction of the country and invest in the long term in the potential of the Ukrainian economy.
Following his telephone call, Mr Macron said: “With President Zelensky, we have prepared the conferences that France is hosting on Tuesday: the first, international, to meet Ukraine’s needs to get through the winter, and the second with French companies involved in the reconstruction of the country.”
Mr Zelensky added: “We synchronised our positions before a virtual G7 summit and support conference in Paris. We discussed the implementation of our 10-point peace plan, defence cooperation and energy stability.”
Mr Zelensky is expected to speak by video at Tuesday’s conference “for the resilience and reconstruction of Ukraine”.
According to the Elysée, “heads of state, heads of government, ministers” from 47 countries will participate, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
At the beginning of the month, Mr Macron said he would speak “soon” with Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning security around “civil nuclear power in Ukraine”.
The Russian leader last week then said an agreement would be necessary “in the end” to find peace in Ukraine.
Russian forces carry out mass strikes in the east
Russian forces carried out strikes against Ukrainian civilians in Donetsk on Sunday as a spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has claimed Putin’s forces are using innocent locals “as human shields”.
Oleksandr Shtupun said two Russian missile strikes hit “the civilian infrastructure of the city of Kostyantynivka, Donetsk oblast” on Sunday. He added that Russia carried out a further 11 strikes on Ukrainian forces along the front line in the east.
In Kherson, which was liberated last month, Mr Shtupun said Putin’s forces had “carried out more than 60 MLRS attacks on the civilian infrastructure of the city”.
And, he added: “In violation of International Humanitarian Law, the enemy continues to use civilians as human shields. In the village of Troitske in the temporarily occupied Luhansk oblast, the russian occupiers are placing military equipment and setting up firing positions near residential buildings where the civilian population lives.”
Russian losses in Ukraine near 100,000 after 200 killed in strikes
Russian military losses are closing in on 100,000 after a further weekend of brutal fighting.
According to the latest estimations by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 94,760 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion on February 24, an increase of 620 compared to last week.
Additionally, Ukraine claimed that more than 280,000 Russian soldiers have been wounded and roughly 1,000 captured.
Roughly a third of those recent losses are believed to be from the devastation wrought by four HIMARS missiles used by Ukraine on the city of Melitopol to the west of Mariupol and roughly 150 kilometres from northern Crimea. Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, has claimed that around 200 Russian soldiers have been killed in the southern Ukrainian city, which was occupied in March.
Kremlin officials have suggested the death toll is significantly lower, though they declined to give an exact figure.
Russia is “currently unlikely to achieve its objectives” in Ukraine
Russia is “currently unlikely to achieve its objectives” in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence has claimed.
After Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that Russia’s main aim was to reclaim all territory within the four recently-annexed regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson, the MoD said there were no signs that Putin’s forces would be able to achieve that goal in the near future.
In their latest defence intelligence update, it read: “Russia’s strategy is currently unlikely to achieve its objectives: it is highly unlikely that the Russian military is currently able to generate an effective striking force capable of retaking these areas.
“Russian ground forces are unlikely to make operationally significant advances within the next several months.”
At the moment, Russian forces are currently trying to hold a defensive frontline from the east of Kharkiv in the north all the way down to Kinburn Split in the southwest.
Ukraine official says more Wagner Group forces will die
A Ukrainian official has claimed that many Wagner Group soldiers have been killed after a strike in the town of Kadivka to the west of Luhansk on Saturday devastated one of their bases. Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Russian-occupied Luhansk region, told Ukrainian television that forces struck the site using HIMARS missiles.
Sources in Kyiv say the strike in Kadiivka resulted in ‘significant losses’, according to the Telegraph.
Photos posted on Telegram appeared to show a building largely reduced to rubble.
Mr Gaidai said those who survived the strikes did not have adequate medical services to be treated and “will die before they get care”.
He said: “I am sure that at least 50 percent of those who managed to survive will die before they get medical care,’ he said. ‘This is because even in our Luhansk region, they have stolen equipment.”
The Wagner Group is a vicious mercenary group of Russian soldiers made up of ex-offenders, those discharged from the Armed Forces and criminals. It is run by the oligarch and Putin-confidante Yevgeny Prigozhin, who reportedly enjoys a direct line to the Russian leader.
The group are renowned for their brutality and last month, a 55-year-old Wagner fighter from Russia, Yevgeny Nuzhin, was brutally beaten to death with a sledgehammer after defecting to Ukraine.
Footage in the summer showed Prigozhin recruiting soldiers from Russian prisons, telling murderers and rapists that, should they serve six months in his regiment, they would be then freed from incarceration.
Kyiv bombs strike two hotels housing Wagner thugs
Ukrainian forces struck Wagner Group soldiers in the eastern city of Svatove in the early hours of Monday, footage has shown. Reports have claimed there were “many fatalities” as a result of the strikes. One video shows one of the Russian mercenaries shouting “F***, there is not half a hostel here” as they inspect the damage.
Another video shows a wounded mercenary fighter holding a fellow Wagner Group soldier, who appears to no longer be alive.
Good morning from London. I’m Tom Watling, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.
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