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Ukraine-Russia war – live: Kyiv shoots down Russian bomber over Snake Island as it battles Putin’s forces

Ukraine says it downed a Russian Su-24 fighter plane over the Black Sea near Snake Island as the aircraft was on its way to attack Odesa region.

Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Ukraine’s “sky guards” following the incident overnight on Tuesday, as he tweeted: “We are strengthening our air defense, particularly in the Odesa region. Gradually, but noticeably. I thank every country that helps us achieve this task.”

Snake Island, which lies around 22 miles off the Ukrainian coast, achieved worldwide fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there at first resisted a Russian warship’s demand for their surrender.

It comes as Zelensky told Ukrainians on Wednesday that Kyiv would defeat Russia and win a fair peace “against all odds” after he unexpectedly cancelled his US Senate address.

The president delivered his defiant message in an unusual early-morning video that showed him walking through Kyiv on his way to pay his respects to fallen soldiers on what Ukraine marks as Armed Forces Day.

“It is not easy now, but we are moving. No matter how difficult it is, we will get there. To our borders, to our people. To our peace. Fair peace. Free peace. Against all odds.”

Key Points

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

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

  • Zelensky abruptly cancels US Senate address as aid for Ukraine war hits dead end

  • Putin arrives in Abu Dhabi on rare visit to UAE

  • Ukraine air force says Russia launches 48 attack drones

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

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.

Cameron positive that US will come through with funding for Ukraine

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’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

British MoD release video detailing destruction to eastern Ukraine town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

In case you missed it: Nepal police arrest 10 for ‘smuggling’ youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine

03:15 , Maira Butt

Shweta Sharma reports:

Nepal police arrested 10 people for allegedly sending unemployed youths to Russia for illegal recruitment into the army amid Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Kathmandu police said these people were charging up to $9,000 ( £7,143) per person to send them to Russia on a tourist visa and have them embedded in the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

The detention is part of the police’s campaign to discourage vulnerable men from fighting on the frontlines.

Nepal has been compelled to consolidate its diplomatic efforts following the deaths of at least six of its soldiers serving in the Russian military in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022. One Nepali soldier was captured by the Ukrainian army.

It prompted Nepal to call on Russia to stop sending its Gurkha soldiers to fight on the frontlines in Ukraine after a series of losses sparked anger among the families as they waited for the return of the last remains of slain combatants.

Nepal police arrest 10 for smuggling Gurkhas to fight for Russia in Ukraine

Zelensky thanks G7 for ‘strong statement’ against Russia

02:15 , Maira Butt

Following a virtual meeting with the G7 summit leaders, President Zelensky thanked the group for crucial new steps taken in support of Ukraine.

He said: “I thank the Japanese Presidency and all G7 leaders for their strong statement following our meeting today. Crucial new steps have been taken.

“Import restrictions on Russian diamonds starting January 1st; call for decisive progress in using frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine; recognition of Ukraine’s success in the Black Sea and maritime exports; commitment to preventing Russia’s access to dual-use technologies; and readiness to formalize long-term security guarantees.

“These are tangible new steps that support Ukraine while also limiting Russia’s ability to continue its aggression against our country and people. The G7 declaration today demonstrates that all talk of waning international support for Ukraine is wrong.

“Today and every day, our partners are foursquare behind Ukraine. And we are sending a signal to Russian terrorists that they cannot and will not outlast our collective determination to defend freedom.”

China warns of ‘firm response’ after UK sanctions businesses ‘propping up Russia'

01:16 , Maira Butt

Beijing has accused the UK of violating international law and warned of a “firm response” after Chinese entities accused of supplying Russia were hit with sanctions.

The British Foreign Office on Wednesday imposed 46 new sanctions targeting military suppliers it said were “propping up Putin’s war machine” with exports of equipment to Russia amid its conflict with Ukraine.

This included businesses in Belarus, China, Serbia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

Three Chinese entities - Asia Pacific Links Limited, Sinno Electronics Co, Limited, and Xinghua Co, Limited - were targeted for allegedly supplying sanctioned goods.

China’s embassy in the UK said in a statement: “The UK side’s action constitutes violation of international law, abuse of unilateral sanctions, and damages the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. We firmly oppose such action and have lodged stern representations with the UK side.

“On the Ukraine issue, China has all along upheld an objective and fair stance, and has been actively working for peace talks and political settlement. However, the UK government, ignoring the public opinion at home and in the world, has continued to add fuel to the fire.

“We urge the UK government to immediately rectify its wrongdoing and revoke sanctions against Chinese companies. The Chinese government will take firm and strong measures to defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.

“The UK side must know that any action that harms China’s interests will be met with our firm response.”

US announces new weapons aid for Ukraine as Congress is stalled on more funding

00:15 , Maira Butt

The US is sending a $175 million package of military aid to Ukraine, including guided missiles for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), anti-armor systems and high-speed anti-radiation missiles, the Pentagon and State Department announced on Wednesday.

The latest aid comes as Congress remains stalled on legislation that would provide new funding for Ukraine as it battles to push back Russian forces as well as provide assistance to Israel. The Biden administration has said funding to aid Ukraine is running out, and the Pentagon packages of weapons and other equipment for the war have become much smaller in recent months.

In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that unless Congress approves the supplemental funding, “this will be one of the last security assistance packages we can provide to Ukraine.”

Secretary Blinken said the package would be ‘one of the last’ unless Congress approved supplemental funding (Getty Images)
Secretary Blinken said the package would be ‘one of the last’ unless Congress approved supplemental funding (Getty Images)

G7 bans direct import of Russian diamonds

Wednesday 6 December 2023 23:15 , Maira Butt

The G7 have announced a direct ban on Russian diamonds starting from 1 January 2024 followed by phased-in restrictions on indirect imports of Russian gems from around 1 March, a statement said on Wednesday.

The group has been weighing various proposals for how to restrict the import of Russian diamonds with the European Union proposing a package that includes a diamond ban. However, the EU were waiting for coordination from the G7 to move forward.

The ban excludes diamonds for industrial use. The announcement does not include the tracing of polished stones, an element included in the proposals, including one by Belgium designed on the EU’s behalf, nor does it mention the carat size.

Diamonds represent an important sector of Belgium. Antwerp has the world’s main diamond hub and most of the world’s rough stones transit through the city even though they are now mostly cut in India.

“I am pleased that the G7 applied the central principles of the Belgian proposal,” Belgium Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said.

“The traceability system launched today is another step in the pioneering work Belgium started 25 years ago in the fight against blood diamonds. The G7 declaration offers the Antwerp diamond sector a unique opportunity to further develop into the trading centre of ‘clean’ diamonds.”

G7 summit leaders and guests took part in the virtual meeting on Wednesday (AP)
G7 summit leaders and guests took part in the virtual meeting on Wednesday (AP)

In pictures: Putin in UAE

Wednesday 6 December 2023 22:16 , Maira Butt

Vladimir Putin visited Abu Dhabi on Wednesday on a rare trip to the UAE. He touched down in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday evening.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Under Putin, the uber-wealthy Russians known as 'oligarchs' are still rich but far less powerful

Wednesday 6 December 2023 21:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, the outside world viewed those Russians known as “oligarchs” as men who whose vast wealth, ruthlessly amassed, made them almost shadow rulers. A “government of the few,” in the word’s etymology.

The term has persisted well into Putin’s rule, broadening in popular usage to refer to almost any Russian with a substantial fortune.

How much political power any of Russia’s uber-rich now wield, however, is doubtful.

Under Putin, the uber-wealthy Russians known as 'oligarchs' are still rich but far less powerful

Zelensky addresses G7 leaders

Wednesday 6 December 2023 20:44 , Maira Butt

In an address to members of the G7, Ukraine’s President Zelensky said he hoped the coming year would be productive for “free nations. Not for Putin.” He thanked members for their continued support.

He said: “In my address to G7 leaders, I stressed the importance of the free world maintaining consolidation and interaction, as well as supporting those whose freedom is under attack.

“Together, we can make the coming year productive for free nations. Not for Putin. Ukraine has strength. And I ask you to be as strong as you can, as strong as freedom can be.

“I thank you on behalf of all Ukrainian warriors, every Ukrainian family, and our entire country for your tremendous support.”

Biden: ‘We will defend every inch of Nato territory'

Wednesday 6 December 2023 20:05 , Maira Butt

In a White House address ahead of a congressional vote for funding for Ukraine, President Biden reiterated the importance of Ukraine’s fight against Russia for the security of Nato members.

“If Putin attacks a Nato ally, if he keeps going and attacks a Nato ally, we’ve committed as a Nato member to defend every inch of Nato territory,” he said.

“Then we’ll have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops, if he moves into other parts of Nato.

“Make no mistake, today’s vote is going to be long-remembered. And history’s going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom’s cause.”

Biden said history would judge those who ‘turned their backs' (AP)
Biden said history would judge those who ‘turned their backs' (AP)

Zelensky: ‘Ukraine does not wish to depend solely on partners'

Wednesday 6 December 2023 19:13 , Maira Butt

In an address to the nation, Ukraine’s President Zelensky said he did not “wish to rely solely on partners”.

The broadcast, aired on X, formerly known as Twitter comes amid uncertainties in funding for military aid. President Zelensky cancelled an address to the US Senate on Wednesday amid the tensions.

He said he envisioned the country supporting others in turn once it has ensured its own safety.

He said: “We are holding the Defense Industrial Base Conference ‘DFNC1: US Edition’ today in Washington, D.C., to increase cooperation and joint defense projects between Ukrainian and American defense companies.

“Ukraine does not wish to rely solely on partners; Ukraine aspires to and is capable of becoming a security donor to all of our neighbors once it has ensured its own safety. This is absolutely feasible and realistic.

“I invite all American defense companies to work with Ukraine. Together, we can create a new and powerful arsenal of freedom that will provide dependable support to all of the world’s free nations.

“Together, we can accomplish much more than any of us could alone. So let us keep working together. For the greater power of freedom. Our team is in Washington right now and will present specific perspectives and opportunities.”

Zelensky said he envisioned Ukraine supporting its partners in future (AFP via Getty Images)
Zelensky said he envisioned Ukraine supporting its partners in future (AFP via Getty Images)

Biden: ‘If Putin takes Ukraine he won’t stop there'

Wednesday 6 December 2023 18:30 , Maira Butt

President Biden urged Congress to pass a bill for supplemental funding for Ukraine as a matter of urgency in a White House address on Wednesday.

“This cannot wait,” he said. “Congress needs to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine, before they break for the holiday. It’s as simple as that. Frankly, I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place.”

Biden also mentioned the possibility of American troops fighting Russian troops if Russia were to attack any of its Nato allies. He underscored the importance of military aid to Ukraine as a move crucial to the national security of the US.

“If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there,” he said in the address. “Its important to see the long-run here. He’s going to keep going. He’s made that pretty clear.”

President Biden urged Congress to pass supplemental funding ‘before the holiday' (REUTERS)
President Biden urged Congress to pass supplemental funding ‘before the holiday' (REUTERS)

US charges four Russians with war crimes against American in Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 18:08 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Department of Justice has made its’ first-ever use of a decades-old war crimes statute to charge four Russia-aligned soldiers with atrocities against an American living in Ukraine in April 2022 during Russia’s war on Ukraine, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington at Justice Department headquarters, Mr Garland said the charges are being brought under the War Crimes Act, a statute enacted in 1996 which gives federal prosecutors jurisdiction over alleged war crimes committed against US nationals abroad.

US charges four Russians with war crimes against American in Ukraine

Biden slams Congress for ‘gift’ to Putin as he urges passage of Ukraine funding

Wednesday 6 December 2023 18:00 , Maira Butt

President Biden on Wednesday slammed Republicans for their refusal to allow Congress to approve renewed funding for Ukraine’s defence and warned that their recalcitrance would be a “gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin because it would hurt Ukraine’s efforts to repel Mr Putin’s invading troops.

“Frankly I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place,” Mr Biden said, adding that the GOP is “willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership” by holding up the legislation to fund Ukraine’s defence.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House ahead of a Senate vote on a supplemental funding bill to support Ukraine, Israel and other US national security priorities, Mr Biden said he was calling on Congress to “do something and do the right thing to stand with the people in Ukraine”.

Biden slams Congress for ‘gift’ to Putin as he urges passage of Ukraine funding

Ukraine's SBU killed fugitive Ukrainian lawmaker in Russia- source

Wednesday 6 December 2023 17:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine‘s SBU agency was responsible for the killing of former Ukrainian lawmaker Illia Kyva in Russia, a Ukrainian source told Reuters on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

Kyva was a member of Ukraine‘s parliament before Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022, but had been in Russia throughout the war.

Putin lands in Saudi Arabia

Wednesday 6 December 2023 17:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Riyadh on Wednesday evening, Russian news agencies reported, where he was due to discuss oil, Gaza and Ukraine with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Putin arrived from Abu Dhabi, where he had earlier held talks with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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

Wednesday 6 December 2023 16:04 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine said it had downed a Russian Su-24 fighter plane over the Black Sea near Snake Island as the aircraft was on its way to attack Odesa region overnight.

Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Ukraine’s “sky guards” as he tweeted: “We are strengthening our air defense, particularly in the Odesa region. Gradually, but noticeably. I thank every country that helps us achieve this task.”

Snake Island, which lies around 22 miles off the Ukrainian coast, achieved worldwide fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there at first resisted a Russian warship’s demand for their surrender.

In pictures: Zelensky in Kyiv for the Day of Armed Forces of Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 15:32 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

 (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
(UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
 (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
(UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
 (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
(UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)

US charges four Russian soldiers with war crimes

Wednesday 6 December 2023 15:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The United States has charged four Russian soldiers with war crimes carried out against an American citizen during Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported on Wednesday.

NBC News, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported earlier on Wednesday that Attorney General Merrick Garland was expected to announce war crimes charges related to Ukraine at a news conference in Washington at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT).

Putin begins trip to UAE and Saudi Arabia

Wednesday 6 December 2023 14:32 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun a trip to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, hoping to shore up support in the Middle East from two major oil producers allied to the US as his invasion of Ukraine grinds on.

Mr Putin landed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms now hosting the United Nations’ Cop28 climate talks.

It marked his first trip to the region since before the coronavirus pandemic and the war - and as he faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court over the war in Ukraine.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE has signed the ICC founding treaty, meaning they do not face any obligation to detain Mr Putin over the warrant accusing him of being personally responsible for the abductions of children from Ukraine during his war on the country.

Mr Putin skipped a summit in South Africa over concerns he could be arrested on arrival there.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s foreign minister, met a smiling Mr Putin after he descended the stairs of his presidential plane.

As he arrived at Abu Dhabi’s Qasr al-Watan palace to meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the country’s ruler, the UAE’s military acrobatics team flew in formation with red, white and blue smoke trailing them in the colours of the Russian flag.

“I’m happy to meet you again,” Sheikh Mohammed said as he sat with Mr Putin in the palace.

 (AP)
(AP)

Nepal police arrest 10 for ‘smuggling’ youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 14:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Nepal police arrested 10 people for allegedly sending unemployed youths to Russia for illegal recruitment into the army amid Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Kathmandu police said these people were charging up to $9,000 ( £7,143) per person to send them to Russia on a tourist visa and have them embedded in the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

The detention is part of the police’s campaign to discourage vulnerable men from fighting on the frontlines.

Nepal has been compelled to consolidate its diplomatic efforts following the deaths of at least six of its soldiers serving in the Russian military in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022. One Nepali soldier was captured by the Ukrainian army.

Nepal police arrest 10 for smuggling Gurkhas to fight for Russia in Ukraine

UK police warn Russia trying to circumventsanction measures

Wednesday 6 December 2023 13:32 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Britain’s National Crime Agency said it had issued a warning to banks and other financial institutions and members of the UK regulated sector about Russia seeking to obtain sanctioned goods through intermediary countries.

“Sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine have had a significant impact on its ability to purchase products, including military supplies, on international markets,” the NCA said.

“However, in an effort to circumvent these controls, Russia is using complex supply chains and alternative supply routes to acquire sanctioned products.”

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Britain has sanctioned more than 1,600 individuals and about 250 entities.

Zelensky says Kyiv will win ‘against all odds’ as he pays respect to fallen soldiers

Wednesday 6 December 2023 12:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians on Wednesday that Kyiv would defeat Russia and win a fair peace “against all odds” as the future of vital U.S. military and financial aid hung in the balance.

Zelensky delivered his defiant message in an unusual early-morning video that showed him walking through Kyiv on his way to pay his respects to fallen soldiers on what Ukraine marks as Armed Forces Day.

“It has been difficult, but we have persevered,” said Zelensky, who filmed himself on a mobile phone as he walked from his office down the central Hrushevskoho street towards central Kyiv’s “wall of remembrance”.

“It is not easy now, but we are moving. No matter how difficult it is, we will get there. To our borders, to our people. To our peace. Fair peace. Free peace. Against all odds.”

His remarks appeared to respond to uncertainty over the future of a $60-billion aid package being debated in U.S. Congress that has been stuck for weeks.

On Tuesday, Zelensky cancelled plans to address U.S. lawmakers to appeal directly for the aid as Congress wrangles over Republican demands to tie the assistance to a revamp of U.S. immigration and border policies.

 (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
(UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)

Polish trucker blockade holds up Ukraine's volunteer military aid

Wednesday 6 December 2023 12:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Charities and NGOs supplying military aid to Ukraine‘s armed forces are facing delays of several weeks to critical supplies of drones, electronics and pickup trucks due to border protests by Polish truckers, three industry sources told Reuters.

Thousands of trucks carrying commercial goods have been backed up for weeks at Poland’s border crossings with Ukraine because of the protests, which began on Nov. 6. Hauliers in Slovakia began a similar blockade on Dec. 1.

The protesters want to end Ukrainian truckers’ permit-free access to the EU, saying Ukrainian drivers are undercutting their prices. Kyiv says the volume of wartime traffic makes a truck permit system impracticable.

While the protesters say they allow humanitarian and military aid through, many resources required by Ukraine‘s armed forces are bought by civilian organisations and transported on commercial trucks, which are not allowed to pass the blockade.

Taras Chmut, head of Come Back Alive, Ukraine‘s largest military aid charity, said dozens of night-vision systems and pickup trucks as well as hundreds of drones procured by his group had been stuck at the border for several weeks.

“This is not good, because they are tied to projects, timings and deadlines ... Things are getting through, but it is slower than it was before,” he told Reuters.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

The West has sanctioned Russia's rich. But is that really punishing Putin and helping Ukraine?

Wednesday 6 December 2023 12:09 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Sitting on a terrace in Verona as the bells toll at a nearby medieval church, Igor Makarov sips coffee as he describes his life as a billionaire under Western sanctions.

Most of his fortune earned doing business in Russia and the former Soviet Union is frozen, and his plans to develop his energy businesses are currently shelved. His yacht is seized and his two private jets are grounded, so he flew commercial from Cyprus to Italy on budget carrier EasyJet.

“I ask the question, what is the meaning of these sanctions against me? What do they achieve? They don’t help Ukraine,” Makarov said in a rare interview, blinking in the Italian sunshine.

The West has sanctioned Russia's rich. But is that really punishing Putin and helping Ukraine?

Russia-UAE relations at unprecedented level, Putin says at start of Abu Dhabi talks

Wednesday 6 December 2023 11:47 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Relations between Russia and the United Arab Emirates are at an unprecedented high, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Wednesday.

Russia and the UAE cooperate in OPEC+ and are involved in major oil and gas projects.

Putin said in televised comments that the situation in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be among the topics of discussion.

Putin is visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on a rare trip abroad. He will also hold talks with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss oil, OPEC+ and the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)
 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Britain announces 46 new sanctions against Russia

Wednesday 6 December 2023 11:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Britain on Wednesday announced 46 new sanctions against individuals and groups from different countries it said were involved in Russia‘s military supply chains and helping sustain its invasion of Ukraine.

Those sanctioned included entities operating in China, Serbia and Uzbekistan, Britain’s foreign ministry said.

G7 leaders to meet virtually on Wednesday with Ukraine’s Zelensky

Wednesday 6 December 2023 10:59 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday with Ukraine‘s president, Volodomyr Zelensky, in a show of support for the country’s war against Russia, Japan said on Wednesday.

“We’d like to make clear that we stand with Ukraine as the G7” a Japanese government official said, adding the message would be reinforced amid concern that the international community’s focus could shift away from Ukraine to the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

The official, who declined to be named, said the G7 will reiterate its commitment to imposing strong sanctions on Russia for its attack on Ukraine, but details were being negotiated. The official did not elaborate.

A statement issued at the time said the restrictions would cover exports of industrial machinery, tools and technology and it would also try to limit Russian revenues from trade in metals and diamonds.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the G7 will also discuss the Middle East and artificial intelligence.

The White House announced earlier that the meeting will be held at 1430 GMT and will be closed to the media.

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

Putin arrives in Abu Dhabi

Wednesday 6 December 2023 10:24 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Abu Dhabi, Russian state news agencies reported on Wednesday.

Putin is visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a rare trip abroad and will hold talks with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss oil, OPEC+ and the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

Zelensky abruptly cancels US Senate address as aid for Ukraine war hits dead end

Wednesday 6 December 2023 09:51 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Volodymyr Zelensky unexpectedly cancelled his address to the US Senate where he would have appealed for fresh aid for the war in Ukraine, majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday.

Kyiv’s calls for multi-billion dollar military funding have been rejected by the Congress, leaving Ukraine out in the cold.

The war-time president has been pleading with his allies in the West for financial and military help against Russian forces as Moscow’s invasion clocked 650 days. The US is now showing signs of fatigue and disapproval for funding the war.

Zelensky abruptly cancels US Senate address as aid for Ukraine war hits dead end

Putin's forces and Kyiv's troops clash nearly 100 times in 24 hours across front

Wednesday 6 December 2023 09:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s military has said it has clashed with Russian forces 97 times across the frontline over the last 24 hours, amid fierce fighting as Kyiv looks to defend its lines.

The general staff of the Ukrainian army said that it had repelled Russian attacks around Bakhmut and other areas of the east, and had pushed Vladimir Putin’s forces back around Zaporizhzhia in the south.

 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Nepal police arrest 10 for ‘smuggling’ youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 09:11 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Nepal police arrested 10 people for allegedly sending unemployed youths to Russia for illegal recruitment into the army amid Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Kathmandu police said these people were charging up to $9,000 ( £7,143) per person to send them to Russia on a tourist visa and have them embedded in the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

The detention is part of the police’s campaign to discourage vulnerable men from fighting on the frontlines.

Nepal has been compelled to consolidate its diplomatic efforts following the deaths of at least six of its soldiers serving in the Russian military in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022. One Nepali soldier was captured by the Ukrainian army.

Nepal police arrest 10 for smuggling youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine

Ukraine claims Russia killing own troops with drones

Wednesday 6 December 2023 08:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine claims Russia kiling own troops with drones

Andriy Yusov, from Ukrainian intelligence (HUR), told Kyiv Post that Russia had been killing their own troops rather than allow them to be captured by Ukraine.

He said the practice had been recorded “repeatedly, including by Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance using [drones].”

He added there were also cases of Russian units firing on their comrades trying to escape the front lines, he said: “Barrier units and killing their own soldiers is what the Russian army is really using against its own.

“Those who refuse to go into battle and carry out criminal orders or go on meat assaults. This is all a tactic of terror and intimidation of our own people in order to reduce the number of refuseniks, deserters, and those who voluntarily surrender.

“This is actually a reaction to the fact that there are quite a few people willing to surrender to Ukrainian captivity.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Russian distributor to launch sales of Adidas, Reebok goods- Kommersant

Wednesday 6 December 2023 08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Russian distributor of Western sports brands will start selling Adidas and Reebok products as soon as this week, despite the companies’ departure from the market over the war in Ukraine, the Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday.

Adidas and Reebok were among hundreds of Western companies that decided to suspend business operations in Russia soon after Moscow launched its war in Ukraine in February 2022.

Adidas and rival Nike subsequently opted to leave the market completely. Authentic Brands Group-owned Reebok’s Russian business was taken over by Turkey’s FLO retailing, Kommersant daily reported in May 2022.

Russians have developed solutions to the brand exodus with small-scale imports and online sellers helping to keep foreign brands alive, particularly consumer goods that are not subject to sanctions.

Citing the head of the marketing department at Lestate, the distributor, Kommersant reported that the company will develop a network of mono-brand stores with goods from Adidas and Reebok.

Lestate already sells clothing and shoes from Nike in Russia, Kommersant reported. There was no suggestion that Adidas, Reebok or Nike were facilitating Lestate’s sale of their goods.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ukraine air force says Russia launches 48 attack drones

Wednesday 6 December 2023 07:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia launched a total of 48 attack drones overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine‘s air force said on Wednesday, adding that its air defence systems destroyed 41 of the drones before they reached their target.

The air force said all of the attack drones were Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones.

It did not say what happened to the drones that were not downed or whether there was any damage from the attack.

US House Speaker Johnson insists on border security changes in exchange for aid to Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 07:06 , Maira Butt

House Speaker Mike Johnson told fellow Republicans on Tuesday that sweeping changes to US border policy would be their “hill to die on” in negotiations over President Joe Biden’s nearly $106 billion package for the wars in Ukraine and Israel and other security needs.

Johnson delivered the hard-line message Tuesday morning before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s video address to senators, a classified briefing that the Biden administration organized to underscore how desperately the aid is needed.

Biden is pushing a reluctant Congress to approve the military, economic and humanitarian aid package, but the injection of border security into the negotiations has made progress difficult.

“The battle is for the border,” Johnson said at a news conference. “We do that first as a top priority, and we’ll take care of these other obligations.”

‘The battle is for the border,’ Johnson said at a news conference (Getty Images)
‘The battle is for the border,’ Johnson said at a news conference (Getty Images)

Zelensky thanks volunteers: 'They are another branch of our army’

Wednesday 6 December 2023 06:07 , Maira Butt

On International Volunteer Day, Ukraine’s President Zelensky took to X, formerly known as Twitter to thank civilian volunteers.

He said: “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 indifferent, our army of active Ukrainians.”

Ukraine to top agenda in Cameron visit to Washington

Wednesday 6 December 2023 05:07 , Maira Butt

Support for Ukraine will top the agenda when Lord Cameron makes his first visit to the US as Foreign Secretary.

He will arrive in Washington later for a two-day visit, as world leaders grapple with the ongoing battle in Ukraine as well as the escalating crisis in Gaza.

The visit comes at a crunch time for Kyiv, with concerns about the provision of US military aid amid deep divisions in Congress about new funding and support.

The Foreign Secretary is expected to meet US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders as part of the trip.

Ahead of the Washington visit, Lord Cameron announced a £37 million package of winter humanitarian support for the country as it continues to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Lord Cameron said: “The UK and the US are deeply bound by a shared mission to defend the values that provide security and prosperity for us all.

“That is why we remain unwavering in our support of Ukraine. If we allow Putin’s aggression to succeed, it will embolden those who challenge democracy and threaten our way of life. We cannot let them prevail.”

David Cameron reiterated that continuing support for Ukraine would be a priority (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
David Cameron reiterated that continuing support for Ukraine would be a priority (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

In case you missed it: What the Republican candidates have said on the war in Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 04:09 , Maira Butt

Gustaf Kilander and Ariana Baio report:

As President Joe Biden likes to remind anyone who will listen, “This is not your grandfather’s Republican Party”.

That has never been more evident than when examining the way the 2024 Republican presidential candidates approach the topic of Ukraine.

Support for Ukraine is dividing the GOP field. Several candidates believe the US should continue to support the war effort – a stance that adheres to more traditional Republican foreign policy beliefs.

For years, leaders in the GOP like George W Bush sounded alarms about Russia and supported Nato membership for Ukraine.

But in more recent years, notably under former president Donald Trump, modern conservatives have embraced isolationism.

Read the full piece here.

US imposes new round of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Wednesday 6 December 2023 03:05 , Maira Butt

The US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Belgian involved in procuring electronics for the Russian military, his companies and a group of Belarusian firms and people tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted a network led by Belgium-based Hans De Geetere, which included nine entities and five people across Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. They are accused of being involved with procuring military-grade equipment for Russia.

Also on Tuesday, the US Justice Department unsealed two indictments against Hans De Geetere and the Commerce Department added him and five firms to its entity list.

US sanctions block access to US property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans.

De Geetere did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment through email.

Read the full piece here.