New foreign secretary David Cameron meets Zelensky
Ukrainian forces say they have pushed Russian troops three to eight kilometeres back on the banks of the key Dnipro River.
If confirmed, it would be the first meaningful advance by Kyiv’s forces months into a relatively slow counteroffensive.
“Preliminary figures vary from three to eight kilometres, depending on the specifics, geography and landscape design of the left bank,” army spokeswoman Natalia Gumenyuk told Ukrainian television, without specifying whether Ukraine’s military had complete control of the area or if the Russians had retreated.
Ukrainian and Russian forces have been entrenched on opposite sides of the vast waterway in the southern Kherson region for more than a year, after Russia withdrew its troops from the western bank last November.
Ukrainian forces have staged multiple attempts to cross and hold positions on the Russian-controlled side – with officials in Kyiv finally reporting a “successful” breakthrough last week.
After securing multiple footholds on the eastern bank, the Ukrainian military claimed to have repelled 12 attacks over the weekend. Mr Putin has lost around a brigade’s worth of forces there in a month, claims Kyiv.
Zelensky calls for rapid operation changes and sacks commander
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday demanded rapid changes in the operations of Ukraine’s military and announced the dismissal of the commander of the military’s medical forces.
Zelensky’s move was announced as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, and coincided with debate over the conduct of the 20-month-old war against Russia, with questions over how quickly a counteroffensive in the east and south is proceeding.
“In today’s meeting with Defence Minister Umerov, priorities were set,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”
Zelensky said he had replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces.
“The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers,” he said.
This, he said, included a range of issues — better tourniquets, digitalisation and better communication.
Umerov acknowledged the change on the Telegram messaging app and set as top priorities digitalisation, “tactical medicine” and rotation of servicemen.
Holly Evans20 November 2023 03:30
Plight of one Ukraine village illustrates toll of Russia’s invasion
Kamianka lies in a charming valley of bright flowers and lush trees. It used to be portrayed as a model village for a contented life in rural idyll. It was also a place of archaeological and geological lure, with its rare bronze age and Scythian sites and Jurassic limestone cliffs attracting visitors from afar.
The settlement, set in a sleepy hollow, was established in the 18th century by a count from the Tsar of Russia’s court who had returned from Britain with new methods of farming and an English bride. Keen to put his new knowledge into practice, he allocated land, built a mill, constructed roads and funded a church and a school.
But Kamianka, in eastern Ukraine, also has a dark history of violence.
Read the full article from Kim Sengupta here
Holly Evans20 November 2023 02:30
Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – now is not the moment for the West to turn away
hen Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, was fooled recently by two well-known Russian “comics” – surely paid-up Kremlin agents – into saying she was “tired” of the war in Ukraine and that everyone would soon be looking for a “way out”, too many of her counterparts in the West would have tacitly agreed (and perhaps sympathised: she is hardly the first to be pranked by these two).
But Ms Meloni deserves no sympathy. She thought she was talking to the head of the African Union Commission so this should have been a chance to exercise statecraft and reason with the supposed representative from the Global South and argue that Russia’s war in Ukraine is nothing if not colonialist itself – a desperate attempt to maintain its empire.
Russia, with an abundance of chutzpah and an absence of shame, claims that it is the West that is being colonialist in forcing its designs on Kyiv (even supposedly “Nazi-ruled Kyiv”). You have to apply to join Nato and the EU, of course, but facts like these are irrelevant.
Read the full article from James Nixey here
Holly Evans20 November 2023 01:30
Moscow mayor says air defence units intercept drone targeting city
Air defence units in Moscow intercepted a drone targeting the city on Sunday, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.
Sobyanin, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said units in the Elektrostal district in the capital’s east had intercepted the drone.
According to preliminary information, falling debris resulting from the operation had caused no casualties or damage, Sobyanin said.
Holly Evans20 November 2023 00:30
UK defence ministry say ‘few immediate prospects’ for change along front line
Russian drones have targeted Kyiv as the British Defence Ministry said there were “few immediate prospects” for major change along the Ukrainian front line as the war enters its second winter.
Russia launched 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight, targeting the Ukrainian capital and the Cherkasy and Poltava regions, according to a military statement.
Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems shot down 15 of the drones.
The overnight strike on Kyiv is the second attack on the Ukrainian capital in 48 hours, said the city’s Military Administration spokesperson, Serhii Popko.
He said that the drones attacked Kyiv from different directions in waves that were “constantly changing vectors”.
Preliminary reports indicated no casualties or critical damage, he said.
Holly Evans19 November 2023 23:30
Around 3,000 trucks stuck at Ukrainian border due to Polish drivers’ blockade
bout 3,000 mostly Ukrainian trucks were stuck on the Polish side of the border as of Sunday morning due to a more than 10-day blockade by Polish truckers, Ukrainian authorities said.
Polish truckers earlier this month blocked roads to three border crossings with Ukraine to protest against what they see as government inaction over a loss of business to foreign competitors since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Ukrainian officials said last week Kyiv and Warsaw had again failed to reach an agreement to stop the protest.
“For over 10 days, Ukrainian drivers have been blocked at the Polish border. Thousands of people are forced to live in difficult conditions with limited food, water and fuel,” Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Ukraine’s Prime Minister, said on X, formerly Twitter.
He said trucks were backed up more than 30 kms (18.6 miles)towards the Yahodyn crossing, more than 10 kms towards Rava-Ruska, and more than 16 kms towards the Krakivets crossing.
Holly Evans19 November 2023 22:30
Russia and Iran call for ceasefire in Gaza
Russia and Iran’s foreign ministers on Sunday called for a ceasefire in Gaza and said that urgent assistance must be given to the civilian population there.
Russia said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian at the request of Tehran.
“During the conversation, main attention was focused on the current situation in the zone of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.
Holly Evans19 November 2023 21:30
Ukrainian teen returns to Ukraine after being taken to Russia from occupied Mariupol
Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Russia from the occupied city of Mariupol during the war and prevented from leaving the country earlier this year returned to Ukraine on Sunday.
Bohdan Yermokhin, who turned 18 on Sunday, appealed to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this month to help bring him back to Ukraine. In March, he tried to leave Russia for Ukraine via Belarus, but was stopped and sent back.
“I believed I would be in Ukraine, but not on this day,” Yermokhin told Reuters while eating at a petrol station after crossing into Ukraine.
“This is a very pleasant gift, to put it in the right way. The emotions are overwhelming, all good, with the notion that Ukraine needs me.”
Zelenskiy welcomed Yermokhin’s return in his nightly video address.
“Many attempts were made to help him. I am happy everything worked out,” he said, expressing thanks to Ukrainian officials, international organisations, and particularly the U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and authorities in Qatar for help in mediation.
Holly Evans19 November 2023 20:39
Hungary’s Orban says Ukraine ‘light years away’ from joining EU
Hungary’s prime minister has said Ukraine is “light years away” from joining the European Union, further signalling that his government is likely to present a roadblock to Kyiv’s ambitions to join the bloc.
Speaking at a biannual congress of his nationalist Fidesz party, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he and his government would “resist” talks scheduled for mid-December on whether to formally invite Ukraine to start membership negotiations.
Admitting a new country requires unanimous approval from all existing member countries, giving Mr Orban a powerful veto.
Mr Orban said afterwards that standing in the way of Ukraine joining the EU would be one of his government’s top priorities in the coming months.
“Our task will be to correct the mistaken promise to start negotiations with Ukraine, since Ukraine is now light years away from the European Union,” Mr Orban said.
Athena Stavrou19 November 2023 19:30
ICYMI: In Russia, more Kremlin critics are being imprisoned as intolerance of dissent grows
Russia under President Vladimir Putin has been closing in on those who challenge the Kremlin. Protesters and activists have been arrested or imprisoned, independent news outlets have been silenced, and various groups have been added to registers of “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations.”
The crackdown has been going on for years.
Athena Stavrou19 November 2023 18:45