Ukraine news – live: Putin ‘playing politics’ as Russia says Kyiv stealing gas from Europe

Russia was accused of using gas as a political tool after threatening to further cut supplies to Europe, claiming that Kyiv was holding up deliveries to Moldova on Moscow’s last running pipeline via Ukraine.

Kremlin-owned energy giant Gazprom said a significant volume of gas had been kept by Ukraine instead of reaching its destination in Moldova, Ukraine’s western neighbour which has already been forced into blackouts due to Russian missile strikes that have downed some of its power lines.

Gazprom said if the alleged hold-ups continue it “will start reducing its gas supplies” through Ukraine starting from Monday, after having already cut supplies to Moldova by one-third last month.

Ukraine said all supplies that Russia sent through the country were “fully transferred” to Moldova. “This is not the first time that Russia resorts to using gas as a tool of political pressure,” said Olha Belkova of the Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s forces took aim at the Kinburn Spit, Vladimir Putin’s only remaining outpost in Mykolaiv, which acts as a gateway to the Black Sea and Russian-held parts of Kherson.

Key Points

  • Putin to meet the mothers of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

  • Potential Ukraine threat a challenge to Russia’s Black Sea fleet – MoD

  • Ukrainians evacuated from Kherson ahead of winter

  • Ukraine holding battle frontlines in south, fierce fighting in east

  • Russia’s ‘General Armageddon’ under pressure to deliver after Russia’s retreat in Kherson

Watch: Viktor Orbán wears scarf appearing to show Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary

09:20 , Emily Atkinson

In pictures: Rescue operation underway at blasted Zaporizhzhia maternity ward

09:00 , Emily Atkinson

More now from the alleged Russian missile attack on a maternity ward at a hospital in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia, where rescue operations are underway.

It was earlier reported by regional governor Oleksandr Starukh that a newborn baby was killed in the strike. Images show that at least one doctor has been rescued from the rubble.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)
 (State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS)
(State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS)
 (State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS)
(State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS)
 (State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS)
(State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS)

Ukraine to receive three Sea King helicopters, reports say

08:40 , Emily Atkinson

Britain will furnish Ukraine with three former Sea King helicopters, the BBC reports

The broadcaster said the first of the three UK-made anti-submarine warfare helicopters, styled on the twin-engined American Sikorsky S-61 chopper, has already arrived in Ukraine.

More than 85,000 Russian soldiers ‘killed in Ukraine'

08:20 , Emily Atkinson

An estimated 85,410 Russian soliders have been killed since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, Kyiv figures show.

This would bring the total number of Moscow personnel losses up by 410 troops from Tuesday.

The data shared by the Armed Forces of Ukraine cannot be independently verified.

Russia labels Ukraine ‘godless’ and ‘immoral’ over monastery raid

08:00 , Emily Atkinson

A Russian foreign ministery official has characterised Ukraine as “godless”, “wild” and “immoral” for its raid on an old Orthodox Christian Monastery in Kyiv.

Ukraine’s SBU security service and police raided the 1,000-year-old Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex - or Kyiv Monastery of the Caves - early on Tuesday as part of operations to counter suspected “subversive activities by Russian special services,” the SBU said.

The site is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that falls under the Moscow Patriarchate.

 (AP)
(AP)

This morning, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said there was no justification for the raid and compared the “Kyiv regime” to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine whose name is often associated in Russian with immoral mayhem, chaos and revelry.

“This is just some kind of total godless Bacchanalia. There is no justification or explanation for this. And there cannot be,” Ms Zakharova told Sputnik radio.

“This is another part of the absolutely immoral and wild actions of the Kyiv regime.”

Newborn baby 'killed in Russian strike on Zaporizhzhia maternity ward’

07:40 , Emily Atkinson

A Russian missile struck a maternity ward in the early hours of Wednesday morning in the city of Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia, the region’s governor has said.

A newborn baby was killed in the attack, Oleksandr Starukh added.

“Grief fills our hearts,” he said.

Mr Staruk shared a series of images of the destruction via the Kyiv Independent:

Putin says Russia ready to boost fertiliser exports

07:19 , Emily Atkinson

Russia is ready to increase its fertiliser exports, the TASS news agency has cited president Vladimir Putin as saying.

Moscow is pushing for the West to ease sanctions which it says complicate Russia’s ability to ship fertilisers and agricultural products around the world, and which Moscow says are aggravating a global food crisis.

Russia has likely exhausted its stock of Iranian drones - MoD

07:01 , Arpan Rai

The British defence ministry says Russia has likely nearly exhausted its current stock of Iranian drones and will probably seek resupply.

No drone strikes have been publicly reported since around 17 November, it said.

“Since September, Russia has likely launched hundreds of Iranian-manufactured uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) against Ukraine.

These have been a mixture of one way attack (OWA) UAVs and more traditional reusable armed systems,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update today.

It added that the Russian forces have largely used these weapons against tactical military targets and the Ukrainian electricity grid.

“However, recently Russian commanders likely also wanted Iranian-sourced UAVs to prioritise medical facilities as targets of opportunity, and strike them with guided munitions if identified,” the ministry said.

The ministry said that it is likely that Russia conceived the UAV campaign to “make up for its severe shortage of cruise missiles, but the approach has had limited success.”

Most UAVs launched have been neutralised by Ukraine, it added.

“No OWA UAVs strikes have been publicly reported since around 17 November 2022. Russia has likely very nearly exhausted its current stock, but will probably seek resupply.”

Russia can probably procure UAVs from overseas more rapidly than it can manufacture new cruise missiles domestically, the MoD claimed.

Britain sending helicopters to Ukraine ‘for first time’ since war began

06:52 , Arpan Rai

The British defence ministry has said it will send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since the war began.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace said it will be the first time piloted aircraft are being sent to the war-torn nation since Russia’s invasion in February this year.

The MoD’s military assistance to Ukraine includes three former Sea King helicopters — the first of which has already arrived in Ukraine.

Read the full story here:

Britain sending helicopters to Ukraine ‘for first time’ since war began

Ukrainians recollect life as Banksy artwork appears in background

06:16 , Arpan Rai

Dozens of Ukrainians stepped out in the streets of Horenka village to collect food on Tuesday. Behind them in the background, the iconic work of British artist Banksy can be seen in the ruins of a bombed-out building.

Last week, Banksy peppered photos on his Instagram page of the artwork in Borodyanka, northwest of Ukraine’s capital and some others from Horenka and Irpin.

A separate mural of a gymnast in black and white has been painted in a way that she looks like she is doing her handstand on the crumpled remains of concrete blocks that poke out of the blackened wall. Towering above her are the gutted, blown-apart innards of what were once apartments.

Members of public queue for food beside a picture  by graffiti artist Banksy on a the wall of a destroyed building in Horenka, Ukraine (Getty Images)
Members of public queue for food beside a picture by graffiti artist Banksy on a the wall of a destroyed building in Horenka, Ukraine (Getty Images)
The elusive British artist posted a video to Instagram last week that suggested he’s behind the spray-painted artworks that have appeared across the Ukrainian capital this month (Getty Images)
The elusive British artist posted a video to Instagram last week that suggested he’s behind the spray-painted artworks that have appeared across the Ukrainian capital this month (Getty Images)
Snow covered graffiti by the British street artist Banksy on Maidan Square in Kyiv, Ukraine (Getty Images)
Snow covered graffiti by the British street artist Banksy on Maidan Square in Kyiv, Ukraine (Getty Images)

Ukraine’s health system now a victim of Russian attacks, says WHO: ‘Darkest days so far'

05:55 , Arpan Rai

Hundreds of Ukrainian hospitals and healthcare facilities are on the verge of breakdown as they lack fuel, water and electricity, the World Health Organisation has said.

“Ukraine’s health system is facing its darkest days in the war so far. Having endured more than 700 attacks, it is now also a victim of the energy crisis,” WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said after visiting Ukraine.

This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine, the top official warned.

Ukraine is facing a therma-crisis on top of a perma-crisis brought on by the war and the pandemic, the official said.

Last week, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia’s strikes on energy infrastructure are a consequence of Kyiv being unwilling to negotiate.

Anger as Viktor Orban wears scarf showing Ukrainian territory as Hungarian

05:27 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine has objected to a football scarf worn by the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban showing an outline of “Greater Hungary”, the country’s former imperial territories.

Prime minister Viktor Orban met a Hungarian footballer while wearing the scarf, which the outlet Ukrainska Pravda said depicted a map of Hungary including territory that is now part of the neighbouring states of Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine.

Ukrainian ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said the country demanded an apology and a rebuttal of any Hungarian claims on Ukrainian territory.

Read the full story here:

Ukraine demand apology after Hungarian prime minister wears controversial scarf

Donetsk constantly shelled, edge over Russian soldiers in Luhansk - Zelensky

05:02 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the situation on the battle frontlines has not changed but his troops are bolstering their positions in Luhansk as massive territorial warfare grips Ukraine’s eastern edges.

“The situation on the frontline has not changed over the past day. In all areas of the front, the same dynamics as in the previous days is maintained. Donetsk region - fierce attacks, constant shelling. I thank all our heroes, who courageously hold out despite everything!,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address yesterday.

He added: “Luhansk region - with battles yet little by little we are strengthening our position and moving forward little by little.”

“Kherson region and other territories of the south - we are doing everything to reduce the combat potential of the occupiers and eliminate their ability to carry out shelling of our cities,” Mr Zelensky said.

He also said that Ukrainie will bring the Russian army to new defeats step by step, and “no shelling of Kherson or any of our cities will help the occupiers.”

Ukraine sets up ‘invincibility centres’ to provide basic supplies to millions for free

04:18 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine will now set up special “invincibility centres” around the country to provide locals with electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock.

“If massive Russian strikes take place again and if there is an understanding that the electricity supply cannot be restored within hours, the work of ‘Points of Invincibility’ will be activated - all basic services will be there, including electricity, mobile communications and the Internet, heat, water, and a first-aid kit. Absolutely free and 24/7,” Mr Zelensky said.

“Points will necessarily work at all regional and district administrations, as well as at schools, buildings of the state emergency service, etc,” the Ukrainian president said as he faces the task of helping more than 10 million endure the biting winter amid continuous attacks from Russian forces.

He added that a special website called nezlamnist.gov.ua that will provide a map of such points throughout the country is already available. The website will be constantly updated, he said.

This comes as officials in Kyiv vowed to create shelters to provide heat and water and encouraged citizens to conserve energy.

Calling the damage to Ukraine’s power grid colossal, the country’s national power grid operator confirmed that outages will last for long periods for up to 10 million consumers at a time.

Some 8,500 power generator sets are being imported to Ukraine daily, the country’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal said.

Months of power cuts face Ukraine after ‘colossal’ damage to energy infrastructure

04:00 , Andy Gregory

Ukrainian authorities have warned of “colossal” damage to the nation’s energy infrastructure and said that millions of Ukrainians could face power cuts until at least the end of March as a result of Russian attacks.

State energy firm Ukrenergo’s chief Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said that practically no thermal or hydroelectric stations had been left unscathed – though he dismissed the need to evacuate civilians from cities hit particularly badly by shortages.

“We cannot generate as much energy as consumers can use,” he told a briefing, adding that the planned shutdowns were being implemented to prevent the risk of the power system “collapsing”.

In his nightly video address, president Volodymyr Zelensky also appealed for residents to be “mindful” in their consumption of energy.

“The systematic damage to our energy system from strikes by the Russian terrorists is so considerable that all our people and businesses should be mindful and redistribute their consumption throughout the day,” he said.

Newborn killed in Russian strikes on maternity ward - Ukraine

03:26 , Arpan Rai

A newborn has been killed in Russian strikes on a maternity ward in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said today.

Zaporizhzhia region has been hotly engaged in fierce fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops, witnessing shelling which threatens a nuclear disaster, from the early days of Moscow’s invasion in February.

Earlier this week, authorities warned that attacks on Zaporizhzhia, which houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, is akin to “playing with fire”.

Kyiv confirms Ukraine attack on the Kinburn Spit

03:01 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In a key battlefield development, a Ukrainian official acknowledged that Kyiv’s forces are attacking Russian positions on the Kinburn Spit, which is a gateway to the Black Sea basin and parts of the southern Kherson region that are still under Russian control.

Despite an information blackout around the operation, Natalya Humenyuk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian army’s Operational Command South, said in televised remarks that Ukrainian forces are “continuing a military operation” in the area.

The Kinburn Spit is Russia‘s last outpost in Ukraine‘s southern Mykolayiv region, directly west of Kherson. Ukrainian forces recently liberated other parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.

Moscow has used the Kinburn Spit as a staging ground for missile and artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions in the Mykolaiv province, and elsewhere along the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea coast.

Ukraine recently recaptured the city of Kherson, on the western bank of the Dnieper River, and surrounding areas in a major battlefield advance.

Capturing the Kinburn Spit could help Ukrainian forces push into territory Russia still holds in the Kherson region “under significantly less Russian artillery fire” than an attempt at a direct crossing of the Dnieper would likely unleash, a Washington-based think tank said late Monday.

The Institute for the Study of War added that control of the area would help Kyiv alleviate Russian strikes on Ukraine‘s southern seaports and allow Ukraine to increase its naval activity in the Black Sea.

Putin to meet the mums of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

02:00 , Liam James

Vladimir Putin will meet the mothers of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine in time for the country’s celebration of Mother’s Day this weekend (Maryam Zakir-Hussain writes).

Russia has faced monumental setbacks in their invasion of Ukraine following the humiliating withdrawal of troops from the strategic southern region of Kherson earlier this month.

The Kremlin confirmed the meeting that was first reported by the Vedomosti newspaper. Mother’s Day takes place on 27 November in Russia.

“Indeed, such a meeting is planned, we can confirm,” a spokesperson for the Kremlin told reporters.

Putin to meet the mums of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

Russian pranksters trick Polish president into thinking he is talking to Macron

01:03 , Liam James

Poland’s president has been duped into speaking to a hoax caller pretending to be France’s Emmanuel Macron on the night that a missile hit a village near the Ukrainian border, his office said on Tuesday, an admission likely to raise questions about its operations.

The call lasted longer than seven minutes.

In a recording, posted on the internet by Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus, Polish President Andrzej Duda can be heard speaking in English to the caller, who attempts to put on a French accent.

At the time of the incident, there were claims Russian missiles had landed in Poland and fears that Nato could be dragged directly into the war. It was later said the missiles were fired from a Ukrainian air defence system.

The call, the second time in recent years that the pranksters from Russia have succeeded in getting through to Duda, came on an evening when the world feared that the conflict in Ukraine could spill beyond its borders.

Russian pranksters trick Polish president into thinking he is talking to Macron

Italy's La Scala defends its choice of Russian opera for season opening

Tuesday 22 November 2022 23:58 , Liam James

Milan’s famous La Scala opera house has defended its decision to open its new season next month with “Boris Godunov” despite criticism from Ukrainians about staging a Russian work.

Earlier this month the Ukrainian consul in Milan Andrii Kartysh wrote to the head of the theatre and local political leaders to protest over plans to stage the opera written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in the 19th century.

“We took that decision three years ago, it was impossible to cancel it and indeed why should we cancel it?” La Scala artistic director, Dominque Meyer, told a news conference.

“We do not do propaganda in favour of Putin and there is nothing against Ukraine,” he added.

Russian bass and soprano Ildar Abdrazakov and Anna Denisova are cast in the main roles for the production. The opening of a new season at La Scala is one of the highlights of Italy’s cultural calendar.

“Mussorgsky with this opera has challenged power – that’s one reason why it is right to stage it”, said director Kasper Holten depicting Boris Godunov as a story about power and cynicism.

Ukraine ‘invincibility centres’ will provide warmth and wi-fi

Tuesday 22 November 2022 22:52 , Liam James

Ukrainians left with a lack of basic services due to Russian attacks on power stations and other facilities this winter can turn to special “invincibility centres,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Thousands of centres spread across the country will offer electricity, heat, water, internet service, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock.

Russian attacks have knocked out power for long periods to up to 10 million consumers at a time, forcing cities across the country into rolling blackouts to conserve depleted energy stocks.

“If massive Russian strikes happen again and it’s clear power will not be restored for hours, the ‘invincibility centres’ will go into action with all key services,” Mr Zelensky said in a nightly video address.

He said more than 4,000 centres had already been set up, with more being planned.

Ukrainian refugees struggling to rent in UK, survey suggests

Tuesday 22 November 2022 21:50 , Andy Gregory

A new Office for National Statistics survey suggests that Ukrainians who have come to the UK are having trouble renting because they do not have a guarantor or references, Flora Thompson reports.

Some have moved addresses since arriving in the country as a result of “relationship difficulties” with their sponsor, the findings also indicate.

Meanwhile, there has been a “significant” increase in the number of people who are now working in Britain after fleeing war in their homeland, albeit in different roles than they held before.

Ukranian refugees struggling to rent in UK, survey suggests

Ukraine tells civilians from recently liberated areas to leave before winter

Tuesday 22 November 2022 21:21 , Andy Gregory

Ukrainian authorities have begun evacuating civilians from recently liberated sections of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing a lack of heat, power and water due to Russian shelling will make living conditions too difficult this winter, my colleague Oliver Browning reports.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says millions in Ukraine face “life-threatening” conditions over the coming months, with residents of the southern regions urged to move to safer areas in central and western parts of the country.

Meanwhile, citizens living abroad have been asked not to return to the country in an effort to conserve power.

Ukraine investigating alleged prisoner shooting footage

Tuesday 22 November 2022 20:54 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine has announced that it is now investigating whether Russian troops violated war customs by “feigning to surrender” before opening fire – after Moscow accused Ukrainian soldiers of “executing” its troops.

The heavily contrasting claims centre around brief clips which circulated on Russian social media channels, which Moscow alleges show Ukrainian forces killing troops who were trying to surrender.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova claims the footage shows an “execution” and says that Russia wants an international probe.

But Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said today that a probe has been launched on charges of violating the laws or customs of war over what they said was “feigning surrender and opening fire on the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” by the Russian servicemen.

Gas, water and communications ‘restored to hundreds of settlements' recaptured by Ukraine

Tuesday 22 November 2022 20:09 , Andy Gregory

Gas supplies have been restored in 1,300 settlements recaptured from Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, told a briefing cited by Ukrainian media.

Water supplies have been restored in 1,400 settlements and mobile communications in 1,200 settlements, he said.

Senators urge Pentagon to reconsider Gray Eagle drones for Ukraine

Tuesday 22 November 2022 19:44 , Andy Gregory

A bipartisan group of US senators have pressed Joe Biden’s administration to carefully reconsider Ukraine’s request for lethal Gray Eagle drones to fight Russia.

The Biden administration has so far rejected requests for the armable MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, which would represent a great technological leap forward for Ukraine, based on concerns that they could be shot down and could escalate the conflict, Reuters reports.

In a letter reported by the Wall Street Journal, 16 senators – including a Republican and a Democrat on the senate armed services committee – expressed concern over US opposition to the request, saying that provision of the armable drone “demands careful reconsideration.”

They gave US secretary of defense Lloyd Austin until 30 November to explain why the Pentagon believed the drone was not appropriate for the fight in Ukraine, whether US concerns related to technology transfer were surmountable, and if the Pentagon thought that introducing the drone, made by General Atomics, would further antagonise Russia.

At least five more civilians killed in Ukraine’s east, as shelling hits humanitarian aid centre, officials say

Tuesday 22 November 2022 19:21 , Andy Gregory

Four more people have been killed and four wounded in Ukraine-held areas of the Donetsk region, governor Pavlo Kyryleno has said.

In the Zaporizhzhia region, Russian shelling also hit a humanitarian aid distribution centre in Orihiv in southeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, killing a volunteer and wounding two women, the regional governor said.

Gazprom threatens to reduce supplies through last gas pipeline to Europe via Ukraine

Tuesday 22 November 2022 19:00 , Andy Gregory

Russian state energy giant Gazprom has threatened to reduce natural gas supplies through the last pipeline heading to Europe via Ukraine, claiming that the amount it is supplying to Moldova is not reaching the small former Soviet republic.

If “the imbalance observed during the transit of gas to the Moldovan consumers across Ukraine continues”, Gazprom “will start reducing its gas supplies” through Ukraine starting from Monday, the firm said.

Ukraine’s gas transmission system operator said all supplies that Russia sent through the country were “fully transferred” to Moldova, adding: “This is not the first time that Russia resorts to using gas as a tool of political pressure. This is a gross manipulation of facts in order to justify the decision to further limit the volume of gas supplies to European countries.”

The European energy crisis has hit Moldova hard – with Russia’s recent attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure also causing blackouts in Europe’s poorest nation, whose energy systems remain interconnected with that of Kyiv’s.

Ukrainian officials have discussed Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones with Tehran, says Kyiv

Tuesday 22 November 2022 18:38 , Andy Gregory

Russia’s alleged use of Iranian-made drones in its war against Ukraine has been discussed by Ukrainian and Iranian officials, Kyiv’s foreign ministry has said.

“Such an expert meeting did take place,” spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko told CNN. “I cannot disclose the details, but I can assure you that the Ukrainian side continues to take the most drastic measures to prevent the use of Iranian weapons by Russia for the war against Ukraine.

“Ukraine has informed Iran that the consequences of complicity in the Russian aggression will be incommensurable with the potential benefits of cooperation with Russia,” he added.

Ireland to stop using tents to accommodate Ukrainians and other refugees

Tuesday 22 November 2022 18:20 , PA

Ireland will stop using tents to house refugees despite a severe shortage of suitable accommodation, the minister for integration has said.

Roderic O’Gorman told an Oireachtas committee that there are 310 people living in tented accommodation, which had been used as an emergency measure this autumn amid record high numbers of homeless people and high house prices and rents.

Military-grade tents at the Gormanston army camp in Co Meath and other locations have been used to house refugees temporarily as more permanent accommodation was sought.

There has been a severe shortage of suitable emergency accommodation available as the number of Ukrainians in Ireland has increased – the latest figures show there are about 63,000 Ukrainians in Ireland.

Mr O’Gorman said that if they had not used hotels, Ireland would have had to stop taking in Ukrainian refugees from March or April.

Watch: Orban wears scarf depicting Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary

Tuesday 22 November 2022 17:58 , Andy Gregory

Here is the footage which has led Kyiv to summon Hungary’s ambassador, over the scarf worn by Viktor Orban depicting territories of Ukraine and other neighbouring nations as part of Hungary:

The scarf is alleged to depict “Greater Hungary” – an informal term for the land which belonged to Budapest prior to 1920, which includes territory now belonging to Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine.

While all eyes are on Ukraine, there’s another conflict licking at Russia’s borders

Tuesday 22 November 2022 17:38 , Andy Gregory

Our world affairs editor Kim Sengupta reports:

Vladimir Putin stayed away from the G20 summit in Bali to avoid the opprobrium he would have faced over his invasion of Ukraine. But this week he is going to be in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, as another conflict threatens to spread on Russia’s borders.

While international focus has been on Ukraine, the violent confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh – a disputed region which has led to two wars – is threatening to erupt once again.

A brief conflict two years ago has been followed by several large-scale clashes, with hundreds reported killed. Civilians have been forced to flee their homes, and there has been widespread destruction of cultural heritage. More than 120 square kilometres of its territory, says Armenia, is now occupied.

Gruesome images of atrocities have surfaced on social media, including one of an elderly Armenian villager being decapitated and his head being put on a pig’s carcass. Another image shows the naked body of a female Armenian soldier with her legs cut off, her eyes gouged out and a severed finger in her mouth.

While all eyes are on Ukraine, there’s another conflict to worry about | Kim Sengupta

Russian forces ‘on alert’ in Crimea over ‘drone attack’ in Sevastopol

Tuesday 22 November 2022 17:16 , Andy Gregory

Here is more from the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, who claims the Crimean port is under attack from drones.

“Our air defence forces are working right now,” Mikhail Razvozhaev said on social media. “There is an attack by drones. According to preliminary information, two UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] have already been shot down. All forces and services are on alert.”

“No civilian objects were damaged. Please remain calm,” he added.

Two drones shot down in Sevastopol, claims Russian-backed governor

Tuesday 22 November 2022 17:05 , Andy Gregory

Two drones have been shot down in Sevastopol after air defences were activated, the Russian-installed regional governor has said.

Sevastopol, in illegally annexed Crimea, is the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Last month, Moscow blamed Ukraine – and British Royal Navy “specialists” – for an attack on the port using air and marine drones, in response to which it briefly suspended its participation in a deal to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea.

Anger as Viktor Orban wears scarf showing Ukrainian territory as Hungarian

Tuesday 22 November 2022 16:41 , Andy Gregory

Viktor Orban has sparked a diplomatic row with Ukraine after wearing a scarf allegedly depicting Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary – prompting Kyiv to summon the Hungarian ambassador.

My colleague Maryam Zakir-Hussain has more details here:

Ukraine demand apology after Hungarian prime minister wears controversial scarf

Anger in Poland over Russian pranksters’ call to president on night of blast

Tuesday 22 November 2022 16:25 , Andy Gregory

Opposition politicians in Poland have reacted furiously after president Andrzej Duda was duped into speaking with Russian pranksters imitating France’s Emmanuel Macron on the night that a missile killed two people near its Ukrainian border and sparked fears Nato could be dragged into the war.

Tomasz Trela, of the Left party, called it a “disgrace for the special services and for all those who should be checking who they allow to contact the top leader”, adding: “This is a blow for our security and for the opinion we have in the eyes of our allies.”

During the seven-minute call, posted online by the Russian pranksters – who have previously duped Mr Duda, Boris Johnson and Mr Macron – the Polish president could be heard relaying details of the blast and speaking of his plans to request Nato consultations.Mr Duda can be heard saying that US president Joe Biden did not blame Russia for the missile incident but that Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy insisted it was a Russian-launched projectile. The Polish president adds that he himself is being “extra careful” not to blame Russia.

Japan to provide generators and solar lanterns to help Ukraine with blackouts

Tuesday 22 November 2022 16:14 , Andy Gregory

Japan has announced some $2.5m in aid for Ukraine to provide it with generators and solar lanterns in the face of blackouts this winter.

“The government of Japan will continue to provide support for and stand by the people of Ukraine who are facing hardship, in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 members,” Toyko’s foreign affairs ministry said.

US will soon begin transferring $4.5bn in aid to Ukraine

Tuesday 22 November 2022 15:49 , Andy Gregory

The US will start to disburse $4.5bn in pledged economic aid for Ukraine in the coming weeks, Washington’s Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has said.

Approved in September, the funds were aimed at “bolstering economic stability and supporting core government services,” Ms Yellen said in a statement.

Other donors should also increase and accelerate their assistance to Ukraine, she added.

Cuban president criticises Nato in address to Russian parliament

Tuesday 22 November 2022 15:30 , Andy Gregory

Cuba’s president Miguel Diaz-Canel has sought to blame Nato for the war in Ukraine, during an address to Russia’s parliament.

“The reasons for the current conflict in this zone must be sought in the aggressive policy of the United States and the expansion of Nato towards Russia’s borders,” Mr Diaz-Canel said – an argument Ukraine and its Western allies reject as a false justification for Russia’s illegal invasion.

He and Vladimir Putin unveiled a monument to Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in a square in Moscow today, pledging to deepen their friendship in the face of US sanctions against both nations.

Mr Putin told Mr Diaz-Canel that the two countries needed to build on the “solid foundation of friendship” established between Castro and Soviet leaders.

Miguel Diaz-Canel and Vladimir Putin stand before a new monument to Fidel Castro in Moscow (Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin via REUTERS)
Miguel Diaz-Canel and Vladimir Putin stand before a new monument to Fidel Castro in Moscow (Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin via REUTERS)

Russia preparing to draft up to 700,000 in new mobilisation round, Ukrainian official claims

Tuesday 22 November 2022 15:13 , Andy Gregory

A Ukrainian government advisor has claimed that Russia is preparing the draft up to 700,000 people in a second wave of mobilisation to take place in January.

The 300,000 reservists drafted in Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilisation” which began in mid-Septmber are “already killed”, wounded or demoralised, claimed Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to Ukraine’s internal affairs minister.

Yesterday, the Kremlin rejected claims that there were discussions ongoing over a second round of mobilisation – however similar denials were made by the same spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, just a week prior to Mr Putin’s “partial mobilisation” in September.

Germany ‘must be ready for an escalation’ of Ukraine war, says Scholz

Tuesday 22 November 2022 14:37 , Andy Gregory

Germany must be ready for the war in Ukraine to escalate, chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

“In view of the development of the war and Russia’s visible and growing failures, ... we must be ready for an escalation,” Scholz said at a conference in Berlin hosted by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Mr Scholz said his recent trip to China was worth it alone for spelling out the two countries’ joint stance against using nuclear weapons.

Months of power cuts face Ukraine after ‘colossal’ damage to energy infrastructure

Tuesday 22 November 2022 14:09 , Andy Gregory

Ukrainian authorities have warned of “colossal” damage to the nation’s energy infrastructure and said that millions of Ukrainians could face power cuts until at least the end of March as a result of Russian attacks.

State energy firm Ukrenergo’s chief Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said that practically no thermal or hydroelectric stations had been left unscathed – though he dismissed the need to evacuate civilians from cities hit particularly badly by shortages.

"We cannot generate as much energy as consumers can use," he told a briefing, adding that the planned shutdowns were being implemented to prevent the risk of the power system “collapsing”.

In his nightly video address, president Volodymyr Zelensky also appealed for residents to be “mindful” in their consumption of energy.

“The systematic damage to our energy system from strikes by the Russian terrorists is so considerable that all our people and businesses should be mindful and redistribute their consumption throughout the day,” he said.

Millions of lives at risk as Ukraine’s health system faces ‘darkest days’, warns WHO

Tuesday 22 November 2022 13:44 , Andy Gregory

Millions of lives are at risk in Ukraine this winter as the nation’s health system faces its “darkest days” of the war, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

While the WHO has counted more than 700 direct attacks on Ukraine’s health infrastructure – in alleged breaches of international humanitarian law and the rules of war – the country’s health system is now also a victim of the energy crisis," said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe

Hundreds of Ukrainian hospitals and healthcare facilities are no longer fully operational – lacking fuel, water and electricity to meet people’s basic needs, Mr Kluge warned, following a visit to Ukraine.

Poland investigating after Russian prankster dupes Duda on night of fatal blast

Tuesday 22 November 2022 13:23 , Andy Gregory

Polish president Andrzej Duda’s office is investigating how Russian pranksters managed to speak with him by phone while posing as Emmanuel Macron – on the night that fears were briefly sparked of a wider escalation in the war when a missile killed two people on Nato territory.

Alan Charlish has more details:

Russian pranksters trick Polish president into thinking he is talking to Macron

Ukrainian refugees in UK struggling to rent homes, survey suggests

Tuesday 22 November 2022 13:15 , Andy Gregory

Ukrainians who have come to the UK are having trouble renting because they do not have a guarantor or references, experimental research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.

Some 3,148 people took part in the survey between 17 October and 7 November, which saw a sample of adults questioned who had arrived in the UK in June under Ukraine visa schemes.

According to the findings, 45 per cent of respondents “experienced barriers to accessing private rented accommodation” and the most common challenge was not having a guarantor or references (59 per cent).

One in four respondents had changed address since June. When asked why, the most common reason was because they could now afford to live without a host. However, one in six (16 per cent) said they had “relationship difficulties with their sponsor”.

Kyiv summons Hungarian diplomat over Orban scarf depicting Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary

Tuesday 22 November 2022 13:00 , Andy Gregory

Kyiv has said it will summon the Hungarian ambassador as it seeks an apology after prime minister Viktor Orban was filmed wearing a scarf depicting some Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary.

Ukrainian media showed images of Mr Orban meeting a Hungarian footballer while wearing a scarf which the outlet Ukrainska Pravda said depicted a map of “Greater Hungary”, including territory that is now part of the neighbouring states of Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine.

“The promotion of revisionism ideas in Hungary does not contribute to the development of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations and does not comply with the principles of European policy,” Ukrainian ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.

Ukraine is seeking an apology and a rebuttal of any Hungarian claims on Ukrainian territory, Mr Nikolenko said.

Viktor Orban is seen wearing a scarf allegedly depicting other nations’ territory as part of Hungary, in footage shared to his official Facebook page (screengrab)
Viktor Orban is seen wearing a scarf allegedly depicting other nations’ territory as part of Hungary, in footage shared to his official Facebook page (screengrab)

In a Facebook post, Mr Orban did not directly address the controversy over the scarf, saying: “Soccer is not politics. Do not read things into it that are not there. The Hungarian national team belongs to all Hungarians, wherever they live.”

The two countries have repeatedly clashed in recent years over what Hungary said were curbs on the right of ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine to use their native tongue, especially in education, after Ukraine passed a law in 2017 restricting the use of minority languages in schools.

Russian prankster impersonating Macron spoke to Poland’s Duda after fatal blast

Tuesday 22 November 2022 12:41 , Andy Gregory

A Russian prankster impersonating Emmanuel Macron spoke with Polish president Andrzej Duda on the night that a blast killed two people on Nato territory near the Ukrainian border, initially sparking fears of a wider escalation of the war.

In a seven-minute recording of the call posted on the internet by Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus, Mr Duda can be heard speaking in English to the caller, who attempts to put on a French accent.

“Emmanuel, believe me, I am extra careful,” Duda tells the caller. “I don’t want to have war with Russia and believe me, I am extra careful, extra careful.”

Mr Duda’s office said on Twitter today: “After the missile explosion in Przewodow, during the ongoing calls with heads of state and government, a person claiming to be French president Emmanuel Macron was connected.”

“During the call, President Andrzej Duda realised from the unusual way the interlocutor conducted the conversation that there might have been an attempted hoax attempt and ended the conversation.”

Mr Duda’s office said it was investigating how the callers managed to get through to him together with the relevant services.

It is the second time the pranksters have managed to reach the Polish president, having previously pretended to be UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in 2020 – raising questions about security and call screening in the president’s office.