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Ukraine-Russia war – live: Putin’s forces unleash new offensive as UK sends fresh weapons to Kyiv

Russia is launching a “massive assault action” on a key town in eastern Ukraine in what appears to be a renewed offensive, with 610 artillery shellings reported over the past day.

Military spokesperson Oleksandr Stupun told Ukrainian TV that “fierce battles continue” in Avdiivka, a town in Donetsk Oblast known for its coking plant.

“The enemy launched massive assault actions with the support of armoured vehicles in Avdiivka and Mariinka directions,” he said.

Earlier, the British Ministry of Defence said up to 40 percent of all combat engagements across the 600-mile frontline were happening in or around Avdiivka.

Serhiy Zhuykov, a Ukrainian section chief who recently rotated out of the town, told The Independent over the weekend that he had witnessed “many, many Russian attacks”.

It comes as the UK announced in tandem with the Norwegian ministry of defence a new Maritime Capability Coalition that will involve the supply of nearly four dozen amphibious vehicles and vessels to Kyiv.

Two mine-clearing vessels, 23 raiding crafts and 20 amphibious vehicles are included in the package.

Key Points

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

  • Ukraine soldier says situation in Avdiivka is ‘very difficult’

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

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

Ukraine soldier says situation in Avdiivka is ‘very difficult’

Monday 11 December 2023 10:14 , Tom Watling

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

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

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

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

Ukraine’s biggest mobile network operator victim of major cyberattack

11:46 , Alexander Butler

Ukraine’s biggest mobile network operator, Kyivstar, said it was the victim of a major hacker attack on Tuesday morning which has temporarily knocked out its cellular and internet signal, Reuters reports.

The company said it was working to repair the outage and was cooperating with law enforcement bodies.

Separately, the co-founder of Monobank, a major Ukrainian payment system, said his company was currently suffering a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, but that everything was “under control”.

Defence secretary Grant Shapps confirms transfer of two navy minehunters to Ukraine

10:00 , Alexander Butler

Britain is sending two Royal Navy minehunter ships to Ukraine to boost its Black Sea capabilities in the face of Russia’s aggressive invasion, officials said.

UK defence secretary Grant Shapps said the aid is part of the collaborative effort between Britain and Norway to bolster the Ukrainian Navy. Strong maritime forces are critical to fight Russia’s aggression and facilitate grain and steel shipments through the Black Sea, Mr Shapps said.

UK is also sending amphibious armoured vehicles and coastal raiding boats to the nation under siege.

Defence secretary Grant Shapps confirms transfer of two navy minehunters to Ukraine

Four wounded as Russia attacks Kyiv with ballistic missiles

09:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital with eight long-range ballistic missiles before dawn on Monday and four people were wounded by debris after air defences shot down the incoming salvo, officials said.

The strike at around 4am marked the first major attack on Kyiv in recent months using ballistic missiles, which travel faster than drones and cruise missiles and are harder to shoot down.

Four people were hurt by shards of shattered glass in the Darnitskyi district, in southeastern Kyiv, and needed medical assistance, the national police said in a statement.

Zelensky says US and European freedom threatened by ‘Putin and his sick clique’

08:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia’s real target is freedom in America and Europe despite a continuing war in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said in a candid speech at a defence university in Washington on Monday.

The Ukrainian president kick-started his visit to the US to ask for more aid to fight off the Russian invasion of his country.

Mr Zelensky said Russia’s war on Ukraine is not “just about some old-fashioned dictatorship trying to settle scores, real or imagined”.

Zelensky says US and European freedom threatened by ‘Putin and his sick clique’

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

07:00 , Lydia Patrick

Putin visits a shipyard to oversee the commissioning of new Russian nuclear submarines

06:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday traveled to a shipyard to attend the commissioning of new nuclear submarines, a visit that showcased the country’s nuclear might amid the fighting in Ukraine.

Putin’s trip to the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk in Russia’s northwestern Archangelsk region comes three days after he declared his intention to seek another six-year term.

Putin announced his decision to run in the March 17 presidential election, which he is all but certain to win, while speaking to soldiers who fought in Ukraine after a Kremlin award ceremony — a setting that underlined his focus on the military action in Ukraine.

Putin visits a shipyard to oversee the commissioning of new Russian nuclear submarines

05:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Schoolboy’s hilarious reaction to Zelensky walking into classroom

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

04:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

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

The two leaders were seen conversing in a corner of the Argentine parliament after Mr Orban threatened to block more European Union financial support to Kyiv. A nearly 20-second-long video showed Mr Zelensky engaging with Mr Orban animatedly in parliament where hundreds of leaders had gathered.

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

Who is Russian army chief Valery Gerasimov? The country’s top soldier turned Putin’s fall guy

03:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

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

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

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

02:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Hungary relies on Russia for some of its energy supplies, and Orban is seen as President Vladimir Putin’s strongest ally in Europe. The government in Budapest has routinely blocked work on sanctions against Moscow linked to the war.

In a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, who will chair the two-day summit starting on Thursday, Orban warned that forcing a decision on Ukraine could destroy EU unity. Other government leaders, ministers and EU officials admit to being perplexed about what Orban wants.

“The only way I can read the Hungarian position, not just on Ukraine but on many other issues, is that they are against Europe and everything Europe stands for,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

Pressure mounts on Hungary to unblock EU membership talks and funds for Ukraine

01:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Pressure mounted on Hungary on Monday not to veto the opening of European Union membership talks and the supply of economic aid to war-torn Ukraine at a pivotal EU summit this week, after Prime Minister Viktor Orban demanded that the issue be struck from the agenda.

With tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance blocked by Senate Republicans in the United States, Ukraine is desperate to ensure longer-term financial and military assistance as fighting in its almost 2-year war with Russia bogs down.

Pressure mounts on Hungary to unblock EU membership talks and funds for Ukraine

Zelensky in Argentina on leader’s first trip to South America

00:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine‘s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was in Argentina on Monday, where he attended the swearing-in of the country’s new president, Javier Milei.

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

Mr Zelensky met with Mr Milei as well as with the presidents of Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador. During the inauguration ceremony, Mr Zelenskyy could be seen exchanging words with Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, widely considered one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s closest allies in Europe and one of the few European leaders who has not sided with Ukraine in the war.

In his nightly video address, Mr Zelensky said he had a “highly straightforward conversation” with Mr Orban, “focused on our European affairs”.

He said he also spoke by phone with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, “about joint work at the EU level and about the joint defence of Europe”.

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

Ukraine warns Russia will target energy infrastructure

Monday 11 December 2023 23:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia will target energy infrastructure to cause power outages and blackouts like it did last winter.

In an intelligence update over the weekend, the UK Defence Ministry noted that Russia last week used its heavy bomber fleet for the first time since September.

It predicted the start of a more concerted campaign aimed at degrading Ukraine‘s energy infrastructure as winter sets in.

Kyiv is routinely targeted by Russian drone and missile attacks.

Just over two weeks ago, Kyiv came under what Ukrainian officials said was the most intense drone attack since the beginning of Russia‘s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Ukraine‘s air force said Russia launched 75 Iranian-made Shahed drones against the capital, of which 74 were destroyed by air defences.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ballistic missiles shot down in latest Russian attack on Kyiv

Monday 11 December 2023 22:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

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

Several homes were also destroyed and more than 100 were left without electricity.

The predawn attack on Kyiv came amid warnings that Russia will step up its attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure as winter sets in with freezing temperatures.

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

Ukraine‘s military said its air defenses intercepted all eight ballistic missiles. However, falling debris from rockets damaged homes on the ground, leaving one person wounded and three others suffering severe shock, officials said.

The attack also left some 120 households in the city without electricity, Ukraine‘s Ministry of Energy said.

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

Monday 11 December 2023 21:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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:

Afew 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.

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

Zelensky, in Washington, urges Congress not to play into Putin’s hands

Monday 11 December 2023 20:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told a U.S. military audience on Monday that he hoped he can still count on the United States and urged Congress not play into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands, as he started a critical visit to Washington to shore up security assistance.

“We won’t give up. We know what to do and you can count on Ukraine. And we hope just as much to be able to count on you,” Zelensky said in an address to the National Defense University.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has warned Congress that a failure to renew military assistance to Ukraine could tip the nearly two-year-old war in Russia‘s favor, creating national security threats for the West.

Zelensky, in an oblique reference to disputes in Congress over allocating aid, said it was “crucial that politics ... not betray the soldiers.”

“Let me be frank with you, friends. If there’s anyone inspired by unresolved issues on Capital Hill, it’s just Putin and his sick clique,” Zelensky added.

On Ukraine’s frontline, Kyiv’s troops know US funding is vital to keep them alive

Monday 11 December 2023 19:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Delays in receiving shells and other weapons because of a political spat in Washington will only benefit Vladimir Putin and Russia, writes Askold Krushelnycky:

Ukraine is firing thousands of shells a day on the frontlines against the forces of Vladimir Putin – and believes it needs to be firing thousands more to try and push back Russia‘s troops.

Speaking to soldiers on the frontline in the south and the east of Ukraine, two of the major theatres of battle, they have been calling for more ammunition and weapons for months. European weapons manufacturers suggest that Ukraine may need up to 1.5 million artillery shells a year. This requires money and time, two things that Kyiv believes it doesn’t have enough of.

On Ukraine’s frontline, Kyiv’s troops know US funding is vital to keep them alive

EU seeks to raise 15 billion euros for Ukraine from Russia's frozen assets - FT

Monday 11 December 2023 19:22 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The European Union will propose on Tuesday to ringfence profits generated from Russia‘s frozen assets in the EU, aiming to eventually collect up to 15 billion euros ($16.14 billion) for Ukraine‘s benefit, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

“It’s important to look at how we can use Russian immobilised assets and proceeds from those immobilised assets to support Ukraine,” European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told the FT.

Who is Russian army chief Valery Gerasimov? The country’s top soldier turned Putin’s fall guy

Monday 11 December 2023 18:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

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

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

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

IMF chief Georgieva to meet with Ukraine’s Zelenskiy on Monday

Monday 11 December 2023 18:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Washington on Monday, an IMF spokesperson said, as the fund’s executive board prepared to release more funds from the country’s $15.6 billion loan program.

An IMF spokesperson confirmed Georgieva’s meeting with Zelenskiy, but gave no time for that meeting or the meeting where the IMF board will review Kyiv’s progress on a four-year Extended Fund Facility loan approved earlier this year.

The IMF last month announced a staff-level agreement with Ukraine on updated economic and financial policies, paving the way for a $900 million disbursement, once it is finalized by the board.

At the time, the IMF said the Ukrainian economy continued to show “remarkable resilience” despite Russia‘s invasion in February 2022, with recent developments pointing to a stronger-than-expected economic recovery in 2023 and continued growth in 2024.

Zelenskiy is also scheduled to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional officials while in Washington as he seeks to shore up support for continued U.S. security assistance to help Kyiv continue its fight against Russia‘s invasion.

Ukraine has received more than $68.5 billion in budgetary support since the war started, finance ministry data shows.

Its government expects a budget deficit of about $43 billion in 2024 and plans to cover it with domestic borrowing and financial aid from its Western partners. But Ukrainian officials are growing worried about the certainty of financing, and some analysts predict Western aid could start diminishing next year.

Navalny’s team says he has vanished in Russia’s prison system

Monday 11 December 2023 17:46 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been removed from the penal colony where he had been imprisoned since the middle of last year and his current whereabouts are unknown, his allies said on Monday.

Navalny aides have been preparing for his expected transfer to a “special regime” colony, the harshest grade in Russia‘s prison system, after he was sentenced in August to an additional 19 years in prison on top of 11-1/2 years he was already serving.

The process of moving prisoners by rail across Russia‘s vast territory can take weeks, with lawyers and family unable to obtain information about their location and well-being until they reach their destination. It was unclear if Navalny was already in transit to a new prison.

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said staff at the IK-6 facility in Melekhovo, 235 km (145 miles) east of Moscow, had told his lawyer waiting outside that the opposition leader was no longer among its inmates.

“Where they have taken him, they refuse to say,” she said on social media platform X.

The United States said it was deeply concerned.

 (REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo)
(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo)

White House: Seeing increased missile, drone attacks by Russians in Ukraine

Monday 11 December 2023 17:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia is increasing its missile and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and the White House expects Moscow to target energy facilities as winter approaches, national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday.

Kirby said U.S. President Joe Biden, who will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the White House on Tuesday, would continue to make the case for Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine.

He said Washington also expected to announce additional military aid for Ukraine before the end of the month.

“We don’t have too many more weeks left in this year to be able to provide security assistance, so I would fully expect that you’re going to see us announce additional security assistance before the end of the month.” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said Biden and top White House officials were in close and frequent touch with lawmakers about the urgency of approving about $50 billion in new security assistance for Ukraine.

“Our own national security is at stake in Ukraine. Putin has indicated that if he is successful there, he has designs on other Eastern European countries who are members of NATO, and who we are obligated to defend,” Bates told reporters.

“It would be infinitely more expensive in every way not to act on this supplemental” funding, he said.

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny declared missing days after Putin announces presidential bid

Monday 11 December 2023 15:40 , Tom Watling

Jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has been declared missing by his lawyers and allies just days after Vladimir Putin announced he would run for a fifth presidential term next year.

Mr Navalny, 47, who is serving a 19-year-term on charges of extremism, was due to appear in court on Monday via videolink but did not show up, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said.

His lawyers said they have not been able to contact him since last Tuesday and that his whereabouts are now unknown.

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny declared missing

Putin visits a shipyard to oversee the commissioning of new Russian nuclear submarines

Monday 11 December 2023 15:19 , Tom Watling

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday traveled to a shipyard to attend the commissioning of new nuclear submarines, a visit that showcased the country’s nuclear might amid the fighting in Ukraine.

Putin’s trip to the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk in Russia’s northwestern Archangelsk region comes three days after he declared his intention to seek another six-year term.

Putin announced his decision to run in the March 17 presidential election, which he is all but certain to win, while speaking to soldiers who fought in Ukraine after a Kremlin award ceremony — a setting that underlined his focus on the military action in Ukraine.

EU expands Iran sanction list over support for Russia

Monday 11 December 2023 14:16 , Tom Watling

European Union member states have added six people and five entities to their Iran sanctions list, regarding their support for Russia in the war against Ukraine.

Those being sanctioned include the company Shakad Sanat Asmari, its CEO, deputy CEO and chief scientist, and companies involved in the manufacturing of drones.

Polish drivers lift blockade at one border crossing with Ukraine, says Kyiv

Monday 11 December 2023 13:47 , Tom Watling

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Monday that protesting Polish drivers had lifted a blockade at a Ukrainian-Polish border crossing and that the first lorries were passing through on their way into Ukraine.

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.

“The blockade of the Yahodyn-Dorohusk crossing is over. Stable truck traffic has been restored since 14:00,” Kurakov said on Facebook.

“Fifteen vehicles have crossed into Ukraine and are now at the crossing. In addition, 25 trucks are being cleared to head towards Poland,” he said.

However, Tomasz Borkowski, leader of the Polish Committee to Protect Transporters and Transport Employers said that there was no agreement on ending a blockade at the Yahodyn-Dorohusk crossing.

Ukrainian authorities say about 3,500 lorries are blocked on the Polish side of the Polish-Ukrainian border as of Sunday morning.

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

“We held dozens of meetings and negotiations at all possible levels. It was a difficult job, but it is not over yet. The border must be fully unblocked, and further blockages will not be allowed,” Kubrakov said.

A Ukrainian truck driver walks past Ukrainian trucks as he carries bags full of groceries, on the parking lot near Korczowa Polish-Ukrainian border crossing (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian truck driver walks past Ukrainian trucks as he carries bags full of groceries, on the parking lot near Korczowa Polish-Ukrainian border crossing (AFP via Getty Images)

Russia's Putin attends ceremony for new nuclear-powered submarines

Monday 11 December 2023 13:15 , Tom Watling

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a televised flag-raising ceremony on Monday for two nuclear-powered submarines that he said would start patrols in the Pacific.

Putin travelled to the northern city of Severodvinsk to inaugurate the vessels, the Krasnoyarsk and Emperor Alexander the Third.

“Soon the Alexander the Third and Krasnoyarsk will start keeping watch in the Pacific Ocean,” Putin said.

Vladimir Putin makes a speech in the northern city of Severodvinsk to mark the reveal of two nuclear-powered submarines (TASS / Telegram)
Vladimir Putin makes a speech in the northern city of Severodvinsk to mark the reveal of two nuclear-powered submarines (TASS / Telegram)

Life in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine is grim. People are fleeing through a dangerous corridor

Monday 11 December 2023 12:45 , Tom Watling

Whenever 52-year-old Anna is agitated, she senses the chilling touch of a gun barrel between her brows — a haunting reminder of an encounter with a group of Russian soldiers on her street about a year ago.

On that day, amid tears and screams, the soldiers threatened to kill her and her husband, fired bullets on the ground between their feet and then dragged her brother-in-law to an unknown location, apparently furious that he couldn’t guide them to where they could find alcohol.

Life in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine is grim. People are fleeing through a dangerous corridor

Hungary says it will not be ‘blackmailed’ into accepting Ukraine’s membership to the European Union

Monday 11 December 2023 12:12 , Tom Watling

Hungary said on Monday it would not bow to pressure from other European Union states to give the green light for accession talks with Ukraine, setting the stage for a showdown at an EU summit this week.

Ukraine’s foreign minister said it would be “devastating” for his country and the EU if the 14-15 December summit did not get the go-ahead for membership talks and more financial and military aid for Kyiv to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

Hungary has been blocking Ukraine’s membership ostensibly over the EU withholding funds to Budapest.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said: “The topic of this week’s debate will be mostly Ukraine. Most European politicians want to make significant decisions that are completely unprepared and present strategic agreement on the future of Europe.

“We continue to make our decisions in accordance with European and national interests and do not allow any kind of pressure, regardless of who it comes from, blackmail or blackmail.”

Russia to hold presidential election in four annexed Ukrainian regions

Monday 11 December 2023 11:45 , Tom Watling

Russia will hold its presidential election in four annexed regions of Ukraine, Interfax news agency quoted the country’s central election commission as saying on Monday.

Russia claimed last year to have annexed the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, though it does not control all their territory. Moscow has imposed martial law in the areas of the four regions that it does control.

President Vladimir Putin confirmed last Friday, in comments to Russian soldiers who have fought in Ukraine, that he will run again for president in the election due in March 2024.

Vladimir Putin announced he would be re-running for the presidency in 2024 last Friday (AP)
Vladimir Putin announced he would be re-running for the presidency in 2024 last Friday (AP)

Live: Grant Shapps and Norwegian defence minister launch Ukraine capability coalition

Monday 11 December 2023 11:15 , Tom Watling

Live: Grant Shapps and Norwegian defence minister launch Ukraine capability coalition

Here are some of the latest photos from Ukraine

Monday 11 December 2023 11:00 , Tom Watling

Below are some of the latest photos from Ukraine.

A local resident cleans the debris at a site of a recent Russian missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine (AP)
A local resident cleans the debris at a site of a recent Russian missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine (AP)
Top EU official Josep Borrell (R), speaks with the Hungarian foreign minister in Brussels ahead of discussions on Ukraine’s membership to the bloc (EPA)
Top EU official Josep Borrell (R), speaks with the Hungarian foreign minister in Brussels ahead of discussions on Ukraine’s membership to the bloc (EPA)
Local resident Nadiia Matviienko removes pieces of glass from a broken window of her house damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kyiv (REUTERS)
Local resident Nadiia Matviienko removes pieces of glass from a broken window of her house damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kyiv (REUTERS)

Video shows aftermath of overnight Russian missile strike on Kyiv

Monday 11 December 2023 10:30 , Tom Watling

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

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

The Ukrainian air force said all eight missiles were intercepted.

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

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

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 10:20 , Tom Watling

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

Monday 11 December 2023 09:53 , Tom Watling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 09:19 , Tom Watling

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

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

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 08:49 , Tom Watling

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

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

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 08:32 , Tom Watling

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

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

Meanwhile:

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

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

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

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

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

At least one injured in Russian strikes on Kyiv

Monday 11 December 2023 08:20 , Tom Watling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 08:13 , Tom Watling

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

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

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

Who is Russian army chief Valery Gerasimov?

Monday 11 December 2023 07:00 , Sam Rkaina

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

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

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

Click below for the full story.

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 06:00 , Sam Rkaina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 11 December 2023 05:00 , Sam Rkaina

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

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

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

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

US Senators still split over further support for Ukraine

Monday 11 December 2023 04:00 , Sam Rkaina

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

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

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

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

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

‘It’s time to step up’ Blinken says

Monday 11 December 2023 03:00 , Sam Rkaina

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

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

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

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

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

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

 (AP)
(AP)

US meeting to ‘underscore unshakeable commitment'

Monday 11 December 2023 02:00 , Sam Rkaina

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

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

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

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

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

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