Putin suffering ‘extremely heavy casualties’ in Bakhmut ‘killing zone’

Vladimir Putin is suffering “extremely heavy casualties” in Ukraine as the battle for Bakhmut rages on, according to UK intelligence.

Russia has made Bakhmut the main target of a winter push involving hundreds of thousands of reservists and mercenaries. It has captured the eastern part of the city and outskirts to the north and south, but has so far failed to close a ring around Ukrainian defenders.

On Saturday, UK defence officials said Ukrainian forces were still in control of the west of Bakhmut, leaving them able to fire from fortified buildings at Russian lines.

“This area has become a killing zone, likely making it highly challenging for Wagner forces attempting to continue their frontal assault westwards,” the MoD said.

In its Sunday update, the MoD said that the impact of Russia’s losses varies across the country.

“In proportion to the size of their population, the richest cities of Moscow and St Petersburg have been left relatively unscathed,” it said. “This is especially true for the families of the country’s elite.

“In many of the Eastern regions, deaths are likely running, as a percentage of population, at a rate 30+ times higher than in Moscow.”

Key points

  • Russia suffering ‘extremely heavy casualties’, says MoD

  • Wagner chief ‘cut off’ by Putin over arms call

  • IAEA chief makes plea for Zaporizhzhia safe zone after outage

  • Russia unleashes barrage of missiles on many Ukrainian regions

  • Berlin warns against hasty accusations after Nord Stream reports

Russia says forces continue attack in Ukraine’s Donetsk region

13:55 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that its forces continued to conduct military operations in Ukraine‘s eastern Donetsk region, claiming to have killed more than 220 Ukrainian servicemen over the past 24 hours.

“In the Donetsk direction… more than 220 Ukrainian servicemen, an infantry fighting vehicle, 3 armoured fighting vehicles, 7 vehicles, as well as a D-30 howitzer were destroyed during the day,” the defence ministry said.

Watch: Edward shares message for Ukrainians in Scotland after being made Duke of Edinburgh

13:10 , Emily Atkinson

Russian advance stalls in Ukraine’s Bakhmut, think tank says

12:25 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s advance seems to have stalled in Moscow‘s campaign to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a leading think tank said in an assessment of the longest ground battle of the war.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said there were no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut. Russian forces and units from the Kremlin-controlled paramilitary Wagner Group continued to launch ground attacks in the city, but there was no evidence that they were able to make any progress, ISW said late Saturday.

More on this story from The Associated Press here:

Russian advance stalls in Ukraine’s Bakhmut, think tank says

Ankara says it believes Black Sea grain deal will be extended

11:39 , Emily Atkinson

Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday that he believes that a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea will be extended from its current March 18 deadline.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered between Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey last July, aimed to prevent a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain blockaded by Russia’s invasion to be safely exported from three Ukrainian ports.

The deal was extended for 120 days in November and will renew on March 18 if no party objects. However, Moscow has already signalled it will only agree to an extension if restrictions affecting its own exports are lifted.

Turkey has said previously that it is working hard to extend the deal. “In separate talks with the Russian and Ukrainian sides, we saw that both sides are approaching this positively. We believe it will conclude positively,” Akar said in an interview with state-owned Anadolu Agency.

“We have the opinion that the duration will be extended on March 18,” he added.

Hundreds of Russians killed in Bahkmut battle as snipers ‘create killing zone’

10:00 , Emily Atkinson

Hundreds of Russian troops have been killed in Bakhmut as Vladimir Putin’s troops seek to wrest control of the frontline Donetsk city – with Kyiv’s snipers said to have set up a “killing zone”.

Some 520 Russian troops were killed and wounded in Bakhmut alone in one day’s fighting, Ukraine’s military said, claiming Russia had suffered 2,000 fatalities since Friday – marking some of the deadliest days of the war since Russia’s invasion.

Seeking to replenish its heavy losses, Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said his Wagner private army had opened recruitment centres in 42 cities – as the UK asserted that the impact of casualties “varies dramatically” across Russian regions.

My colleague Andy Gregory reports:

Hundreds of Russians killed in Bahkmut battle as snipers ‘create killing zone’

Russia suffering ‘extremely heavy casualties’, though country’s elite ‘left relatively unscathed’, says MoD

09:15 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin continues to suffer “extremely heavy casualties” in Ukraine, though the impact of those losses varies “dramatically” across Russia’s regions, according to UK intelligence.

“In proportion to the size of their population, the richest cities of Moscow and St Petersburg have been left relatively unscathed,” the Ministry of Defence said in its daily update.

“This is especially true for the families of the country’s elite,” it adds.

“In many of the Eastern regions, deaths are likely running, as a percentage of population, at a rate 30+ times higher than in Moscow. In places, ethnic minorities take the biggest hit; in Astrakhan some 75 per cent of casualties come from the minority Kazakh and Tartar populations.

“As the Russian MoD seeks to address its continued deficit of combat personnel, insulating the better-off and more influential elements of Russian society will highly likely remain a major consideration.”

Ukrainian president denied permission to speak at Oscars – report

08:30 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to speak at the Oscars has been rejected for the second year in a row, reported Variety Magazine.

Mr Zelensky has participated virtually in mega-cultural events like the Grammys, Golden Globe Awards, Cannes Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival since the war in Ukraine.

A request was reportedly sent to the Academy to include Mr Zelensky by WME power agent Mike Simpson. However, the request was turned down, it reported.

Last year, Oscars executive producer Will Packer was vary of giving Mr Zelensky airtime because “everyone involved in the conflict is white and previous tragedies involving people of colour did not receive the same level of attention”.

The Oscars that year showed solidarity with Ukraine by observing a moment of silence during the ceremony.

Over 40 missiles hit Kharkiv since beginning of 2023, Ukrainian president says

07:45 , Emily Atkinson

An onslaught of 40 missiles has hit the northeastern city of Kharkiv since the beginning of the year, Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address.

“Ruins, debris, shell holes in the ground are a self-portrait of Russia, which it paints where normal life reigns without Russia,” he said.

He said Russian shelling has killed three Ukrainians in Kherson who simply “went to a store to buy groceries”.

Russia has “become a synonym for terror” and “will be an example of defeat” as well as fair punishment for its acts in Ukraine.

“The punishment that the Kremlin cannot stop,” he said.

Hundreds of causalities in Russian and Ukrainian forces in 24 hours in Bakhmut

07:00 , Shweta Sharma

More than 500 Russian and Ukrainian troops have been killed over the previous 24 hours as the battle in Bakhmut continued to rage.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a Ukrainian military spokesperson, said 221 pro-Moscow troops were killed and more than 300 wounded in Bakhmut.

While Moscow did not specify Bakhmut casualties, the defence ministry said up to 210 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the broader Donetsk part of the frontline.

Ukrainian forces are fending off unabating attacks in Bakhmut and a small river that bisects the town now marks a new front line as the Wagner mercenary group made advances in most of the eastern part of the city.

Moscow says capturing Bakhmut would punch a hole in Ukrainian defences and be a step towards seizing all of the Donbas industrial region, a major target. Kyiv says the battle is grinding down Russia’s best units.

Aerial view of Lviv Oblast as Russian missiles strike Ukraine

06:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Aerial footage reveals the extent of destruction in Lviv Oblast after Russia launched a barrage of missile strikes against Ukraine.

This video, shared by the region’s governor, shows the state civilian houses were left in after the shelling hit the area.

It was the first such missile attack in weeks, with Volodymyr Zelenskiy reporting a total of 81 strikes across the country.

He said it has “been a difficult night” and offered his condolences for the families of the dead and injured.

Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Dnipro, Odesa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr, and Vinnytsia regions were hit.

Watch:

Aerial view of Lviv Oblast as Russian missiles strike Ukraine

The turmoil in Georgia over a ‘foreign agents’ bill raises fresh questions over Russia’s influence

05:00 , Eleanor Noyce

In case you missed it…

Georgia’s ruling party has shelved a controversial “foreign agents” law that critics called a Russian-inspired authoritarian move that could have hit hopes of the country joining the European Union.

The bill, which had been given initial parliamentary approval, has sparked several nights of protest, with tens of thousands of on the streets. Demonstrations were dispersed by police using water cannons and tear gas.

Given Georgia’s status as former Soviet state situated at Russia’s south-west border, any suggestions of influence from Moscow will carry significant weight. Vladimir Putin has long seen Georgia as part of Moscow’s sphere of influence. Since his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president has also upped his rhetoric about Western institutions, such as the EU and the Nato military alliance, seeking to erode Russia’s standing in the world. Georgia is not a member of Nato, but has sought to join.

My colleague Chris Stevenson reports:

Ukraine’s leading campaigner against Russian fossil fuels refused entry to top US energy conference

04:00 , Eleanor Noyce

In case you missed it…

A Ukrainian lawyer, who founded the war-torn country’s leading campaign against Russian fossil fuels, has been refused entry to the world’s most prominent energy summit.

Svitlana Romanko travelled from her home in Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine, in late February to Houston, Texas to attend CERAWeek, an annual summit which attracts the heads of major oil and gas companies and industry bodies along with senior government officials.

CERAWeek speakers this year included both John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, ExxonMobil chief executive Darren Woods, and the Cop28 climate summit president, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is also CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Read the full story:

Ukraine’s leading campaigner against Russian fossil fuels barred from US energy event

Support will put Ukraine in ‘strongest position’ to negotiate ceasefire – Sunak

03:00 , Eleanor Noyce

In case you missed it…

Rishi Sunak has said new support measures for Ukraine agreed between the UK and France are designed to put Kyiv in the “strongest possible position” to negotiate a ceasefire.

The Prime Minister and French President Emmanuel Macron used the UK-France summit to sign off on jointly training Ukrainian marines and supplying weapons to the country in its fight against Russia’s invading forces.

During a press conference in Paris, the leaders said the immediate priority was to bolster Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces and allow them to “mount a successful counter-offensive”.

Mr Sunak announced in February, during Mr Zelensky’s visit to Britain, that the UK would start to train Kyiv’s marines as well as pilots.

Friday’s declaration from the summit at the Elysee Palace will see France join Britain in preparing marines for the drive to purge Ukraine of Russian troops.

Patrick Daly reports:

Support will put Ukraine in ‘strongest position’ to negotiate ceasefire – Sunak

Vladimir Putin: What is driving Russian leader’s relentless assault on Ukraine?

02:00 , Eleanor Noyce

In the year since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has been the figurehead of what he initially termed a “special military operation”. Russia’s president might have prepared the political ground with a show of collective responsibility – few will forget how he solicited the support of key ministers live on TV just hours before ordering the invasion – but he has fronted the invasion ever since, often alone, and it is he who will answer to history.

From the start, Russia’s military action tended to be seen as an old-fashioned war launched by an old-fashioned autocrat. As such, it was as surprising as it was shocking to all those who believed such wars to be over, at least in Europe. The scenes that have dominated our television screens ever since have been tragically reminiscent of black-and-white newsreel showing battles for the very same cities during the Second World War.

But the supposedly old-fashioned autocrat who gave the orders for this war is a more complicated figure than many think.

He sold the invasion as a collective decision with his military chiefs, but it is the president alone who will have to answer to history, writes Mary Dejevsky:

What is driving Putin’s relentless war on Ukraine?

How British eels could be helping Putin in his war with Ukraine

01:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Wildlife groups are calling for Britain to ban the transportation of eels to Russian conservation projects because of fears they are being sold on to China for food.

The alarm was sounded after a consignment of half a million eels were moved to Kaliningrad. Charities have said that the profits Russia has made from these sales could be funding the Ukraine war.

Multi-member organisation Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), which represents the RSPCA, CPRE and the Marine Conservation Society, has called for action from Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).

Conservation has been required with the European eel population falling by 90 per cent in the past four decades despite hundreds of millions of baby, or glass, eels arriving each year.

Read more:

How British eels could be helping Putin in his war with Ukraine

What are hypersonic missiles and why is the west developing them amid Russia’s war in Ukraine?

00:01 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia launched its first large-scale missile assault on Ukrainian cities for several weeks in the early hours of Thursday 9 March, firing at least 81 missiles and killing at least five people.

The capital Kyiv, Kharkiv and the Black Sea port of Odessa were all struck as air raid sirens rang out across the nation while explosions were also reported in the northern city of Chernihiv and the western Lviv region, as well as in Dnipro, Lutsk and Rivne.

Among the projectiles fired were six Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic ballistic missiles, according to the Ukrainian Air Force, which are difficult to intercept because they reportedly travel at up to ten times the speed of sound, which is around 8,000mph.

Russia has used hypersonic missiles since the earliest stages of the conflict, claiming to have destroyed a fuel depot in the Black Sea city of Mykolaiv and an underground ammunition store in western Ivano-Frankivsk in the opening skirmishes.

Ukraine has confirmed that those targets were struck but did not specify what weapons were used.

Joe Sommerlad reports:

What are hypersonic missiles?

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Saturday 11 March 2023 23:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been raging for one year now as the conflict continues to record devastating casualties and force the mass displacement of millions of blameless Ukrainians.

Vladimir Putin began the war by claiming Russia’s neighbour needed to be “demilitarised and de-Nazified”, a baseless pretext on which to launch a landgrab against an independent state that happens to have a Jewish president in Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine has fought back courageously against Mr Putin’s warped bid to restore territory lost to Moscow with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued to defy the odds by defending itself against Russian onslaughts with the help of Western military aid.

Battle tanks from the US, Britain and Germany are now being supplied for the first time and Mr Zelensky toured London, Paris and Brussels in early February 2023 to request fighter jets be sent as well in order to counter the Russian aerial threat, a step the allies appear to have reservations about making, although Joe Biden has since visited Kyiv in a gesture of solidarity.

Joe Sommerlad and Thomas Kingsley report:

Here’s why Putin really invaded Ukraine

Russia’s first missile barrage against Ukraine in weeks knocks nuclear plant off grid for hours

Saturday 11 March 2023 22:00 , Eleanor Noyce

In case you missed it…

Russia has launched a huge wave of missile strikes across Ukraine, killing a number of civilians and forcing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant off the electrical grid for hours.

It is the first search mass attack in weeks, with the strikes including the use of hypersonic cruise missiles – one of Moscow’s most valuable weapons which travel at such speed they can evade air defences.

“The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them,” said Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done.”

In all Russia was said to have fired 81 missiles, with Ukraine’s military saying that 34 cruise missiles were successfully shot down, as well as four of the eight Iranian-made Shahed drones that were sent. Eight guided missiles did not reach their target. Ukraine said six hypersonic missiles had been fired, with Russia’s Defence Ministry confirming their use.

My colleague Chris Stevenson has the full story:

Russia missile barrage knocks Ukraine nuclear plant off grid for hours

China denies hidden motives after hosting Iran-Saudi talks

Saturday 11 March 2023 21:00 , Eleanor Noyce

After hosting talks at which Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations, China said Saturday it has no hidden motives and isn’t trying to fill any “vacuum” in the Middle East.

The agreement announced Friday to reestablish Iran-Saudi ties and reopen embassies after seven years was seen as a major diplomatic victory for China, as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States as reducing its presence in the Middle East.

The Foreign Ministry quoted an unidentified spokesperson as saying China “pursues no selfish interest whatsoever” and opposes geopolitical competition in the region.

Following Friday’s announcement, China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi said the agreement showed China was a “reliable mediator” that had “faithfully fulfilled its duties as the host.”

Notably, Wang also stated that “this world has more than just the Ukraine question and there are still many issues affecting peace and people’s lives.”

China has been heavily criticized for failing to condemn Russia’s invasion and for accusing the U.S. and NATO of provoking the conflict. A Chinese proposal calling for a cease-fire and peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine went nowhere, largely because of China’s perceived backing of Russia.

Read the full story here:

China denies hidden motives after hosting Iran-Saudi talks

UK: Russian advance in Bakhmut could come with heavy losses

Saturday 11 March 2023 20:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Russian forces have made progress in the front-line hotspot of Bakhmut, a key target of Moscow’s monthslong campaign in eastern Ukraine that has resulted in staggering casualties, but their assault will be difficult to sustain without further harsh losses, U.K. military officials said in an assessment Saturday.

The U.K. defense ministry said in the latest of its regular Twitter updates that units from the Kremlin-controlled paramilitary Wagner Group have captured most of eastern Bakhmut, with a river flowing through the city center now marking the front line.

However, the update added, it will be “highly challenging” for Wagner forces to push ahead, as Ukraine has destroyed key bridges over the river, while Ukrainian sniper fire from fortified buildings further west has made the thin strip of open ground in the center “a killing zone.”

At the same time, Ukrainian troops and supply lines in the mining city remain vulnerable to “continued Russian attempts to outflank the defenders from the north and south,” as Russian forces try to close in on them in a pincer movement, the ministry said.

Karl Ritter has the full story:

UK: Russian advance in Bakhmut could come with heavy losses

Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles poses a difficult challenge for Ukraine’s air defences

Saturday 11 March 2023 19:00 , Eleanor Noyce

The Russian airstrikes across Ukraine are the latest in a series aimed at damaging infrastructure and are part of a pattern to emerge in the last five months.

They are, however, the largest attacks for a while and included hypersonic as well as cruise missiles in their number. The former, in particular, poses great challenges for the Ukrainian air defences which have become increasingly adept at coping with swarms of drones used in previous raids.

Hypersonic missiles can travel at nine times the speed of sound or more, are extremely difficult to track, can only by tackled by counter-hypersonic systems, and can destroy an aircraft carrier even without a warhead.

The Kinzhal – or Dagger – was among the supposedly “invincible” weapons which Vladimir Putin first spoke about in a national address five years ago. Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced the deployment of the hypersonic missile system in Ukraine at the end of last year and US officials have subsequently charted their use in combat in the country.

Read the full story:

Analysis: Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles poses a challenge for Ukraine

Norway to donate air defence systems in cooperation with US

Saturday 11 March 2023 18:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Norway is to provide Ukraine with new air defence systems, cooperating with US aid.

The country’s defence minister announced that two complete NASAMS air defence systems would be utilised as Ukraine continues to push back in Bakhmut, with its Colonel-General revealing that a counter-offensive is “not far off.”

Norwegian defence minister Bjorn Arild Gram visited Kyiv this week, holding meetings with Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

“The devastation is difficult to comprehend. Seeing this with my own eyes makes a deep impression”, Mr Gram stated.

An anti-government protest in Czech capital draws thousands

Saturday 11 March 2023 17:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Thousands of people in the Czech Republic rallied against the government Saturday, protesting high inflation and demanding an end to the country’s military support for Ukraine.

A new political group, PRO, organized the rally at Prague‘s Wenceslas Square as an anti-poverty event. As participants called on the coalition government to resign, party leader Jindrich Rajchl said they want “a government to care first of all about the interests of the Czech citizens.”

His group, whose name translates in English to Law, Respect, Expertise, blames the European Union for soaring energy prices. Inflation slightly dropped to 16.7% in Czechia in February from 17.5% a month earlier.

PRO also wants the Czech government to stop taking actions that are intended to reduce misinformation and fake news.

Ukraine was a key issue at Saturday’s demonstration, where the crowd called for a peaceful solution to the war. Some people had the letter “Z,” a symbol of the Russian military, on their bags.

Read more:

An anti-government protest in Czech capital draws thousands

Ukraine’s counter-offensive “not far off”, says commander of ground forces

Saturday 11 March 2023 16:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi – the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces – has said that its counter-offensive is “not far off.”

“The real heroes now are the defenders who hold the eastern front on their shoulders,” his statement – communicated by the Ukrainian Army Land Forces’ Telegram account – read.

He remarked that holding Bakhmut – the area at the centre of Russian efforts for months now – is necessary to buy Ukraine extra time.

“It is necessary to gain time to accumulate reserves and start a counteroffensive, which is not far off.”

Three civilians killed in Kherson

Saturday 11 March 2023 15:00 , Katy Clifton

Three civilians were killed in Russian shelling of Kherson in southern Ukraine on Saturday, and one more died in the eastern Donetsk region, regional officials said.

Regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said three people, including an elderly woman, were also wounded during the artillery shelling of the city.

“Today the Russian occupiers have hit Kherson again. On a Mykolayivsky road near a shop debris from a shell killed three people…,” Prokudin told Ukrainian TV, adding that a car, several buses and a commercial property were damaged.

Russia claims to have entered metal processing factory in Bakhmut

Saturday 11 March 2023 14:00 , Katy Clifton

Russian military bloggers and other pro-Kremlin Telegram accounts on Friday claimed Russian forces have entered a metal processing factory in north-west Bakhmut.

A Washington-based think tank late on Friday also referenced geolocated footage showing Russian forces within 800 metres of the heavily built up and fortified Azom complex.

The Institute for the Study of War said Moscow’s apparent focus on capturing the factory, rather than opting for a “wider encirclement of western Bakhmut” by attempting to take nearby villages, is likely to bring a further wave of Russian casualties.

‘Highly challenging’ for Wagner forces to push ahead

Saturday 11 March 2023 12:58 , Katy Clifton

Russian forces have made progress in the frontline hotspot of Bakhmut but their attack will be hard to sustain without further harsh losses, UK military officials say.

Bakhmut is a key target of Moscow’s campaign in eastern Ukraine, which has resulted in staggering casualties.

The Kremlin-controlled paramilitary Wagner Group has captured most of eastern Bakhmut, which a river flowing through the city centre now marking the frontline, the Ministry of Defence said.

But, its assessment added, it will be “highly challenging” for Wagner forces to push ahead because Ukraine has destroyed key bridges over the river – while Ukrainian sniper fire from fortified buildings further west has made the thin strip of open group in the middle a “killing zone”.

At the same time, Ukrainian troops and supply lines in the mining city remain vulnerable to “continued Russian attempts to outflank the defenders from the north and south” as Russian forces try to close in on them in a pincer movement, the ministry said.

Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

Saturday 11 March 2023 11:30 , Shweta Sharma

Russia is trying to destabilise Moldova’s government and replace it with leadership more friendly toward Moscow, the White House has said.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US believes Russia “is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government” to prevent it from more closely integrating with Europe, and “with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian-friendly administration in the capital”.

Mr Kirby said “Russian actors” with ties to Moscow’s intelligence services are “seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government”.

Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

Saturday 11 March 2023 10:40 , Katy Clifton

An aide to president Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine’s troops are focusing on disrupting Russia’s offensive by making them focus their efforts of a “few key wearisome battles”.

“Russia has changed tactics,” Mr Podolyak said in an interview published by Italy’s La Stampa newspaper. “It has converged on Bakhmut with a large part of its trained military personnel, the remnants of its professional army, as well as the private companies.”

“We, therefore, have two objectives: to reduce their capable personnel as much as possible, and to fix them in a few key wearisome battles, to disrupt their offensive and concentrate our resources elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive. So, today Bakhmut is completely effective, even exceeding its key tasks.”

Why would Russia use hypersonic missile in strike on Ukraine

Saturday 11 March 2023 10:30 , Shweta Sharma

The latest Russian missile barrage against Ukraine‘s civilian infrastructure has marked one of the largest such attacks in months.

On Thursday, Russia fired over 80 missiles in a massive effort to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses and cripple the country’s energy system.

Russia has been regularly launching similar strikes since Octothe population and force the Ukrainian government in a bid to demoralize to bow to the Kremlin‘s demands.

Why would Russia use hypersonic missile in strike on Ukraine

Ancient artefacts returned to Ukraine during ceremony at embassy in Washington DC

Saturday 11 March 2023 09:30 , Shweta Sharma

Ancient Ukrainian artefacts were returned during a ceremony at the embassy in Washington DC on Friday, 10 March.

Items such as a stone axe and three swords were returned to the consulate in the US.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of items are estimated to have been stolen from museums.

Conflict Observatory, a research group supported by the US Government, used satellite imagery to uncover how Putin’s troops stole approximately 15,000 paintings from the Oleksii Shovkunenko Art Museum in Kherson.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture, Russia has damaged more than 550 culturally significant sites and objects in the country.

Support will put Ukraine in ‘strongest position’ to negotiate ceasefire – Sunak

Saturday 11 March 2023 08:30 , Shweta Sharma

Rishi Sunak has said new support measures for Ukraine agreed between the UK and France are designed to put Kyiv in the “strongest possible position” to negotiate a ceasefire.

The Prime Minister and French President Emmanuel Macron used the UK-France summit to sign off on jointly training Ukrainian marines and supplying weapons to the country in its fight against Russia’s invading forces.

During a press conference in Paris, the leaders said the immediate priority was to bolster Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces and allow them to “mount a successful counter-offensive”.

Support will put Ukraine in ‘strongest position’ to negotiate ceasefire – Sunak

Russia’s first missile barrage against Ukraine in weeks knocks nuclear plant off grid for hours

Saturday 11 March 2023 07:35 , Shweta Sharma

Russia has launched a huge wave of missile strikes across Ukraine, killing a number of civilians and forcing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant off the electrical grid for hours.

It is the first search mass attack in weeks, with the strikes including the use of hypersonic cruise missiles – one of Moscow’s most valuable weapons which travel at such speed they can evade air defences.

“The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them,” said Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done.”

In all Russia was said to have fired 81 missiles, with Ukraine’s military saying that 34 cruise missiles were successfully shot down, as well as four of the eight Iranian-made Shahed drones that were sent. Eight guided missiles did not reach their target. Ukraine said six hypersonic missiles had been fired, with Russia’s Defence Ministry confirming their use.

Fake ‘nuclear bomb’ alert on TV and radio scares Russians

Saturday 11 March 2023 01:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Hackers took over Russian state media on Thursday to tell listeners to rush to nuclear bomb shelters and take anti-radiation pills.

Radio and television broadcasts in Moscow and the western Sverdlovsk area were interrupted with a phony warning of a missile strike on the country.

The Kremlin blamed the false alarm, which told listeners to take potassium iodine, put on gas masks and seek shelter, on a cyber attack.

William Mata has the full story:

Fake ‘nuclear bomb’ alert on TV and radio scares Russians

How British eels could be helping Putin in his war with Ukraine

Saturday 11 March 2023 00:01 , Eleanor Noyce

Wildlife groups are calling for Britain to ban the transportation of eels to Russian conservation projects because of fears they are being sold on to China for food.

The alarm was sounded after a consignment of half a million eels were moved to Kaliningrad. Charities have said that the profits Russia has made from these sales could be funding the Ukraine war.

Multi-member organisation Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), which represents the RSPCA, CPRE and the Marine Conservation Society, has called for action from Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).

Conservation has been required with the European eel population falling by 90 per cent in the past four decades despite hundreds of millions of baby, or glass, eels arriving each year.

William Mata reports:

How British eels could be helping Putin in his war with Ukraine

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Friday 10 March 2023 23:30 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been raging for one year now as the conflict continues to record devastating casualties and force the mass displacement of millions of blameless Ukrainians.

Vladimir Putin began the war by claiming Russia’s neighbour needed to be “demilitarised and de-Nazified”, a baseless pretext on which to launch a landgrab against an independent state that happens to have a Jewish president in Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine has fought back courageously against Mr Putin’s warped bid to restore territory lost to Moscow with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued to defy the odds by defending itself against Russian onslaughts with the help of Western military aid.

Battle tanks from the US, Britain and Germany are now being supplied for the first time and Mr Zelensky toured London, Paris and Brussels in early February 2023 to request fighter jets be sent as well in order to counter the Russian aerial threat, a step the allies appear to have reservations about making, although Joe Biden has since visited Kyiv in a gesture of solidarity.

Much of the fighting has been concentrated around the key eastern city of Bakhmut of late, with bombardments and heavy artillery fire taking place as Russian forces ramp up a major new offensive with the one-year anniversary of the war looming.

Thomas Kingsley and Joe Sommerlad report:

Here’s why Putin really invaded Ukraine

Vladimir Putin: What is driving Russian leader’s relentless assault on Ukraine?

Friday 10 March 2023 23:00 , Eleanor Noyce

In the year since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has been the figurehead of what he initially termed a “special military operation”. Russia’s president might have prepared the political ground with a show of collective responsibility – few will forget how he solicited the support of key ministers live on TV just hours before ordering the invasion – but he has fronted the invasion ever since, often alone, and it is he who will answer to history.

From the start, Russia’s military action tended to be seen as an old-fashioned war launched by an old-fashioned autocrat. As such, it was as surprising as it was shocking to all those who believed such wars to be over, at least in Europe. The scenes that have dominated our television screens ever since have been tragically reminiscent of black-and-white newsreel showing battles for the very same cities during the Second World War.

But the supposedly old-fashioned autocrat who gave the orders for this war is a more complicated figure than many think.

Read more:

What is driving Putin’s relentless war on Ukraine?

Russia’s first missile barrage against Ukraine in weeks knocks nuclear plant off grid for hours

Friday 10 March 2023 22:30 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia has launched a huge wave of missile strikes across Ukraine, killing a number of civilians and forcing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant off the electrical grid for hours.

It is the first search mass attack in weeks, with the strikes including the use of hypersonic cruise missiles – one of Moscow’s most valuable weapons which travel at such speed they can evade air defences.

“The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them,” said Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done.”

In all Russia was said to have fired 81 missiles, with Ukraine’s military saying that 34 cruise missiles were successfully shot down, as well as four of the eight Iranian-made Shahed drones that were sent. Eight guided missiles did not reach their target. Ukraine said six hypersonic missiles had been fired, with Russia’s Defence Ministry confirming their use.

Chris Stevenson has the full story:

Russia missile barrage knocks Ukraine nuclear plant off grid for hours

Ukraine orders Russian-aligned Orthodox Church to leave Kyiv monastery

Friday 10 March 2023 22:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Ukrainian officials ordered a Russian-aligned wing of the Orthodox Church to leave a monastery in Kyiv, Reuters reports.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) accepted the authority of the patriarch of Moscow until Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. The Moscow patriarch, Kirill, has supported the invasion.

The Ukrainian culture ministry reported that it had been ordered to leave the 980-year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery complex, noting in a statement that it had “violated the terms of the agreement regarding the use of state property.”

The UOC has until 29 March to vacate the premises, though noted in a Facebook post that the action was “obviously biased and grossly violate[s] legal norms.”

Man dies in shelling in Kherson

Friday 10 March 2023 21:30 , Eleanor Noyce

A 35-year-old man has died after Russian forces fired artillery in Kherson, Sky News reports.

The man died at the scene, the regional military administration confirmed.

Shelling in Kherson killed three people yesterday, including two civilians who had been waiting at a bus stop.

Biden and von der Leyen issue joint statement on Ukraine

Friday 10 March 2023 21:10 , Eleanor Noyce

US President Biden and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen have issued a joint statement on Ukraine, reiterating a joint commitment towards Russian sanctions.

“The United States and the European Union have taken a strong and united stand against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war against Ukraine. We, along with a broad coalition of partners, have imposed swift and sweeping sanctions that are reducing Russia’s revenue to fund its war and its military-industrial base.

“Putin thought that he would divide us, and yet we are more united than ever. We stand together in our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes”, the statement read.

The pair also underlined the commitment of both the US and the EU towards ensuring economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine.

“We have worked together to supply the Ukrainian Armed Forces with the military equipment and training it needs to defend itself from Russian aggression”, the statement added.

“We, together with Ukraine, are co-chairing the Multi-agency Donor Coordination Platform, and, in line with its European path, are helping advance Ukraine’s reform agenda, laying the foundation for sustainable growth and reconstruction, and ensuring assistance is delivered in a coherent, transparent, and accountable manner.”

Anti-Russia guerrillas in Belarus take on ‘two-headed enemy’

Friday 10 March 2023 21:00 , Eleanor Noyce

After Russia invaded Ukraine, guerillas from Belarus began carrying out acts of sabotage on their country’s railways, including blowing up track equipment to paralyze the rails that Russian forces used to get troops and weapons into Ukraine.

In the most recent sabotage to make international headlines, they attacked a Russian warplane parked just outside the Belarusian capital.

“Belarusians will not allow the Russians to freely use our territory for the war with Ukraine, and we want to force them to leave,” Anton, a retired Belarusian serviceman who joined a group of saboteurs, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

“The Russians must understand on whose side the Belarusians are actually fighting,” he said, speaking on the condition that his last name be withheld for security reasons.

More than a year after Russia used the territory of its neighbour and ally to invade Ukraine, Belarus continues to host Russian troops, as well as warplanes, missiles and other weapons. The Belarusian opposition condemns the cooperation, and a guerilla movement sprang up to disrupt the Kremlin’s operations, both on the ground and online. Meanwhile, Belarus’ authoritarian government is trying to crack down on saboteurs with threats of the death penalty and long prison terms.

Find the full story here:

Anti-Russia guerrillas in Belarus take on ‘two-headed enemy’

Duke of Edinburgh tells Ukrainians the UK can be home for as long as they need

Friday 10 March 2023 20:30 , Eleanor Noyce

The new Duke of Edinburgh told Ukrainian refugees he hoped they could make Scotland their home for as long as they felt they needed as he attended a reception marking one year since the Scottish capital welcomed the first Ukrainians to the city.

In his first official engagement in the role after the King appointed him, Edward addressed refugees at a reception in Edinburgh’s City Chambers on the Royal Mile on Friday.

He said: “I hope you can all try to make Scotland and Britain your home for as long you feel that you need to stay here and we will try to make it as welcoming and as safe as possible for you.

“I wish you all the very best in the future and we’re thinking of you.

The duke, who had the title conferred upon him on Friday by the King, marking his 59th birthday, said he and his wife Sophie were “slightly overwhelmed” by the appointment.

He said: “Thank you for welcoming us to Edinburgh today on, indeed, a very special and very overwhelming day for now my wife and duchess,” he joked, while looking at his wife.

He added: “I also want to express my thanks to everybody who has worked so hard to make our Ukrainian friends so welcome.”

Ukraine’s leading campaigner against Russian fossil fuels refused entry to top US energy conference

Friday 10 March 2023 20:00 , Eleanor Noyce

A Ukrainian lawyer, who founded the war-torn country’s leading campaign against Russian fossil fuels, has been refused entry to the world’s most prominent energy summit.

Svitlana Romanko travelled from her home in Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine, in late February to Houston, Texas to attend CERAWeek, an annual summit which attracts the heads of major oil and gas companies and industry bodies along with senior government officials.

CERAWeek speakers this year included both John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, ExxonMobil chief executive Darren Woods, and the Cop28 climate summit president, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is also CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Read the full story here:

Ukraine’s leading campaigner against Russian fossil fuels barred from US energy event

Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

Friday 10 March 2023 19:30 , Eleanor Noyce

Russia is trying to destabilize Moldova’s government and replace it with leadership more friendly toward Moscow, the White House has said.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said US believes Russia “is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government” to prevent it from more closely integrating with Europe, and “with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian-friendly administration in the capital”.

Mr Kirby said “Russian actors” with ties to Moscow’s intelligence services are “seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government”.

The US expects “another set of Russian actors to provide training for manufactured demonstrations in Moldova,” he added.

“In years past we’ve seen Russia tried and failed to destabilize other European countries,” Mr Kirby continued, noting that such an attempt was made in Montenegro in 2016.

Andrew Feinberg reports:

Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

Why would Russia use hypersonic missile in strike on Ukraine?

Friday 10 March 2023 19:00 , Eleanor Noyce

The latest Russian missile barrage against Ukraine‘s civilian infrastructure has marked one of the largest such attacks in months.

On Thursday, Russia fired over 80 missiles in a massive effort to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses and cripple the country’s energy system.

Russia has been regularly launching similar strikes since Octothe population and force the Ukrainian government ber in a bid to demoralize to bow to the Kremlin‘s demands.

Thursday’s strikes differed from earlier attacks, though, by including a larger number of sophisticated hypersonic missiles that are the most advanced weapons in the Russian arsenal. But just like previous such barrages it has failed to cause lasting damage to the country’s energy network, with repair crews quickly restoring power supplies to most regions.

Here is a look at the latest Russian missile attack and the weapons involved:

Why would Russia use hypersonic missile in strike on Ukraine

Support will put Ukraine in “strongest position” to negotiate ceasefire, says Sunak

Friday 10 March 2023 18:35 , Eleanor Noyce

Rishi Sunak has said new support measures for Ukraine agreed between the UK and France are designed to put Kyiv in the “strongest possible position” to negotiate a ceasefire.

The Prime Minister and French President Emmanuel Macron used the UK-France summit to sign off on jointly training Ukrainian marines and supplying weapons to the country in its fight against Russia’s invading forces.

During a press conference in Paris, the leaders said the immediate priority was to bolster Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces and allow them to “mount a successful counter-offensive”.

Mr Sunak announced in February, during Mr Zelensky’s visit to Britain, that the UK would start to train Kyiv’s marines as well as pilots.

Friday’s declaration from the summit at the Elysee Palace will see France join Britain in preparing marines for the drive to purge Ukraine of Russian troops.

Mr Sunak said the agreement would “help to give Ukraine a decisive advantage on the battlefield and for Ukraine to win this war”.

He argued that a successful counter-punch would allow the Ukrainians to enter any potential future negotiations with Moscow from a position of strength.

“In regards to the future, that is a decision for Ukraine, not a decision for us to make for them,” he said.

“Our job is to put Ukraine in the strongest possible position, and that is what our conversations today have been about.

“The announcements you’ve seen from us today around training marines, helping with the provision of ammunition, are very tangible examples of our commitment to deliver Ukraine that advantage.

“And that’s where our focus is going to be over the coming weeks and months.”

Ukraine “preparing Bakhmut counteroffensive”, claims Wagner Group chief

Friday 10 March 2023 17:47 , Eleanor Noyce

The head of Russia’s Wagner Group has claimed that Ukraine is preparing to launch a counteroffensive near the city of Bakhmut.

“Yes, it is a well-known fact that the enemy is preparing a counter-offensive. Of course, we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening,” Yevgeny Prigozhin stated.

He added that his private army had opened new recruitment centres across 42 cities after suffering losses in combat. The centres have, according to reports, been comprised of sports centres and martial arts clubs.

Watch live: Ancient artefacts returned to Ukraine during ceremony at embassy in Washington DC

Friday 10 March 2023 16:42 , Eleanor Noyce

Watch live as ancient Ukrainian artefacts are returned during a ceremony in Washington DC.

Items such as a stone axe and three swords, will be returned to the consulate in the US.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of items are estimated to have been stolen from museums.

Conflict Observatory, a research group supported by the US Government, used satellite imagery to uncover how Putin’s troops stole approximately 15,000 paintings from the Oleksii Shovkunenko Art Museum in Kherson.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture, Russia has damaged more than 550 culturally significant sites and objects in the country.

Holly Patrick has more:

Live: Ancient artefacts returned to Ukraine during ceremony in Washington DC

Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

Friday 10 March 2023 15:54 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s government is currently undertaking efforts to destabilize Moldova’s government and install leadership more friendly toward Moscow, the White House has said.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Friday told reporters the US believes Russia “is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government” to prevent it from more closely integrating with Europe, and “with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian friendly administration in the capital”.

Mr Kirby said “Russian actors” with ties to Moscow’s intelligence services are “seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government”.

Andrew Feinberg has more:

Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

Prigozhin: Ammunition output is up but still a worry for Wagner and Russian army

Friday 10 March 2023 15:19 , Emily Atkinson

Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has said thanked the government for a “heroic” increase in production of ammunition but he was still worried about shortages for his fighters and the Russian army as a whole.

Prigozhin also said Wagner, which has taken heavy losses in fighting for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, had opened recruitment centres in 42 Russian cities.

“In spite of the colossal resistance of the Ukrainian armed forces, we will go forward. Despite the sticks in the wheels that are thrown at us at every step, we will overcome this together,” he said.

Prigozhin said his men had been “blown away” by the fact they had started to receive ammunition deliveries labelled as produced in 2023. He said ammunition was now being produced “in huge quantities, which cover all the necessary needs”.

But he appeared to contradict himself in the same audio message by saying: “I am worried about ammunition and shell shortages not only for the Wagner private military company but for all units of the Russian army.”

Swiss government refuses re-export of arms to Ukraine

Friday 10 March 2023 14:51 , Emily Atkinson

Switzerland’s government said on Friday it will not change its long-standing policy banning the transfer of Swiss-made arms to a third country despite growing pressure from countries to export them to Ukraine.

“The Federal Council is committed to the values of Swiss neutrality and will continue to work to ensure the benefits of neutrality are realised,” it said in a statement.

Russia targeting civilian infrastructure ‘because they can’t find military assets to hit’

Friday 10 March 2023 14:22 , Andy Gregory

Russians are striking civilian infrastructure, because they can’t efficiently target Ukrainian military assets, a Ukrainian military analyst has claimed.

“The Russians lack data about the location of Ukrainian troops and weapons, so they are targeting civilian infrastructure and using the same old methods of attacking civilians to sow fear and panic in the society,” Oleh Zhadnov told the Associated Press.

“Ukraine has survived the winter and Russia’s strikes on the energy system in the spring hardly make any sense.”

The Institute for the Study of War, a US think tank, has said that “these missile strikes will not undermine Ukraine’s will or improve Russia’s positions on the front lines.”

Ukraine restores power to many following fatal Russian barrage

Friday 10 March 2023 13:54 , Andy Gregory

Kyiv has restored most of its power supply, officials said, following the largest Russian onslaught against civilian infrastructure in several weeks.

The Associated Press reported that more than 80 Russian missiles and exploding drones – including hypersonic Kinzhal cruise missiles – were deployed in the barrage, which killed six people and left hundreds of thousands without heat or running water.

Power and water were largely restored in Kyiv, said Serhii Popko, the head of the city’s military administration, adding that around 30 per cent of consumers in the capital remaining without heating and that repair work was ongoing.

The electricity supply was restored to more than nine in 10 consumers in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, local officials said, while power was also restored to a third of consumers in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region.

Ukraine’s leading campaigner against Russian fossil fuels refused entry to top US energy conference

Friday 10 March 2023 13:21 , Andy Gregory

A Ukrainian lawyer, who founded the war-torn country’s leading campaign against Russian fossil fuels, has been refused entry to the world’s most prominent energy summit, our senior climate correspondent Louise Boyle reports.

Svitlana Romanko travelled from her home in Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine, in late February to Houston, Texas to attend CERAWeek, an annual summit which attracts the heads of major oil and gas companies and industry bodies along with senior government officials.

Ms Romanko, who holds a doctorate in environmental and climate law, and climate policy, launched the RazomWeStand (Stand With Ukraine) campaign to ban all imports of fossil fuels from Russia, end the war, and hasten a clean energy transition across the globe. The campaign is supported by nearly 900 organisations from 60 countries.

She had received a registration confirmation email for CERAWeek and a few invite reminders for the event, she said, ahead of it opening on Monday.

“On Sunday morning, I received a welcome email with logistics,” Ms Romanko told The Independent. “Then at 11am, there was a two-sentence email which said my registration was not accepted and was cancelled. It did not have a signature.”

Ukraine’s leading campaigner against Russian fossil fuels barred from US energy event

Fake ‘nuclear bomb’ alert on TV and radio scares Russians

Friday 10 March 2023 13:00 , Emily Atkinson

Hackers took over Russian state media on Thursday to tell listeners to rush to nuclear bomb shelters and take anti-radiation pills.

Radio and television broadcasts in Moscow and the western Sverdlovsk area were interrupted with a phony warning of a missile strike on the country.

The Kremlin blamed the false alarm, which told listeners to take potassium iodine, put on gas masks and seek shelter, on a cyber attack.

William Mata has more:

Fake ‘nuclear bomb’ alert on TV and radio scares Russians

Sunak to discuss China’s approach to Russia with Macron

Friday 10 March 2023 12:28 , Emily Atkinson

Rishi Sunak said he will raise China’s approach to Russia and the war in Ukraine when he meets French President Emmanuel Macron later on Friday.

Asked whether he was concerned that China may step up cooperation with Russia, Sunak told reporters: “Yeah, that’s definitely something that I’m planning to spend some time talking to Emmanuel about later.”

“We’d urge all countries not to be providing support to Russia, or trying to circumvent sanctions,” he said.

The United States has said China is considering supplying arms to Russia and warned Beijing against such a move. Western powers have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in weapons.

China has denied the US claims and said that “sending weapons will not bring peace” in Ukraine.

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