Displaying items by tag: Russia
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has warned against underestimating Russia's determination to continue the war. The EU has delivered 300,000 of its promised 1 million shells to Ukraine, with calls for closer alignment of Ukrainian and NATO arms production. Ukraine reported killing five high-ranking Russian officials in an air strike, and claimed that Russian casualties have reached 327,580. Ukrainian air defences successfully intercepted 21 Iranian-made Shahed drones heading towards a region where an airbase is located. Meanwhile, Russia escalated attacks in the Donetsk region, intensifying artillery fire, airstrikes, and ground infantry attacks. British intelligence indicated the potential use of 500kg cluster bombs. Russia also claimed control of the village of Khromove, near the city of Bakhmut.
In an unexpected virtual appearance at the G20 summit, Vladimir Putin called on world leaders to ‘stop the tragedy’ of the war with Ukraine but bizarrely ignored his own role in starting the conflict. In February 2022, after weeks of growing aggression near the Ukrainian border, the Russian president ordered his forces into Ukraine. He claimed it was important to ‘demilitarise’ the country and made baseless neo-Nazi allegations about the Ukrainian government to justify the invasion. Ukraine has only agreed to peace negotiations if Russia agrees to hand back all of the land which it has illegally annexed since 2014 - including the Crimea peninsula, which Putin claims now belongs to Russia. He also broke international law by illegally annexing four other regions in eastern Ukraine in September 2022. In his G20 appearance, Putin also tried to deflect attention from the war by focusing on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, for which he has tried to position himself as a potential mediator.
A court in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) follower to seven years in prison on charges of ‘extremism’. Yevgeny Bushev had been under house arrest for over a year on allegations of continuing ‘the illegal activities of a banned religious organisation’. In 2017 the Supreme Court declared the JW movement to be extremist, banning its estimated 400 branches across the country. Bushev is the 15th JW follower from the region to be prosecuted. The prosecution’s witness was an employee of the National Guard (Rosgvardia) who had ‘shown interest in the Bible’: a linguistic examination concluded that Bushev had ‘tempted’ him to accept the JW faith when responding to questions about religion. International human rights NGOs have condemned Russia’s crackdown on JW followers in the years since the ban, and in June 2022 the European Court of Human Rights said that Russia had violated over 1,400 followers' right to religious freedom.
On 8 November Ukraine said that a Russian missile had struck a civilian ship while it was moored in a port in the Black Sea region of Odessa, killing a pilot and injuring four others. The missile hit the ship’s superstructure, which includes the command cabin. The ship was travelling under the Liberian flag, and the three wounded crew members were citizens of the Philippines. If confirmed, the attack would be the first time that Russian forces have hit a civilian vessel sailing near the Odessa region since Moscow pulled out of a UN-brokered deal in July which allowed Ukraine to export its grain through the Black Sea. In another incident, on 3 November, Russia targeted a military medals ceremony, killing at least a dozen men. The Ukrainian army has been criticised for organising an event involving so many soldiers in such a public and old-fashioned way. See
On 1 November, Russia unleashed a barrage on 118 Ukrainian towns and villages within 24 hours, marking the highest number of settlements hit in a single day this year, according to Ukrainian interior minister Ihor Klymenko. The attacks, targeting ten of Ukraine's 27 regions, resulted in casualties and fatalities. Many of the affected areas were near the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine. Russia has been concentrating its military efforts on Avdiivka, a strategically vital town in the Donetsk region, causing significant damage. Ukraine has repelled multiple attacks in the area, and Russia has increased attacks on other towns and areas away from the front lines. Amid concerns about Western fatigue with the war, Volodymyr Zelensky has emphasised the need for advanced weaponry and unity among allies. Ukraine's chief military commander warned that the war is entering a positional stage, favouring Moscow's ability to rebuild its military power. Russia continues to have superior weaponry and ammunition. The situation has prompted the USA to seek approval for a $106 billion package to support Ukraine and Israel.
In the 85th week of the war, Russia is trying to freeze Kyiv’s four-month-old counteroffensive which has succeeded in wresting back half the territory captured earlier this year and depriving Russia of control of the western Black Sea. On 6 October Russian forces resumed an offensive effort against the city of Kupyansk: they are also attempting to capture Avdiivka, an eastern city which they have surrounded to the north and south. These tactical operations aimed to stop what has been a slow but steady Ukrainian advance, ahead of the Russian presidential elections. Despite these attacks, Ukraine seems to be pressing on with the counteroffensive. Meanwhile, two Ukrainian brothers have been accused of responsibility for organising the Russian missile strike on a shop and café in the village of Hroza, also on 6 October, which killed 55 civilians out of a population of 350: see
The editor-in-chief of RT, formerly Russia Today, has threatened legal action against critics after a backlash to her comments proposing a nuclear strike on Siberia. ‘Slanderers get ready’, Margarita Simonyan wrote on her Telegram channel, announcing that she had filed a defamation complaint against parliamentary aide Nikolai Korolev and warning of action against others. The often-controversial executive, among the most powerful in Russian media, has drawn criticism over a bizarre video monologue in which she appeared to propose a nuclear detonation in Russia as a deterrent against the West. The video triggered an avalanche of criticism from pundits and politicians. Mr Korolev said, ‘Such statements are a violation of the legislation of the Russian Federation, not to mention the wildness and absurdity’. Other critics noted that the history of Soviet nuclear tests in Siberia has left a legacy of contamination. The Kremlin moved to distance itself from Ms Simonyan, who has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin.
Independent news outlet Vyorstka has reported a huge uptick in the number of Russian soldiers facing trial for murders committed outside the conflict zone in Ukraine. At least 147 soldiers went on trial for murder between January and September, compared to the 15 murder cases heard against soldiers in military courts in all of 2022. Court verdicts from this year indicate that most soldiers facing trial committed murders under the influence of alcohol. In one case an intoxicated soldier killed a woman with a Kalashnikov assault rifle after learning that she did not support Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. He was sentenced to nine years in prison in March. It is unclear whether the figures cited by Vyorstka include members of the Wagner mercenary outfit, which recruited prison inmates to fight in Ukraine in exchange for pardons. Among the weapons used in the murders were knives, axes, pistols, and Kalashnikovs.
Ukrainian forces have reportedly achieved success in villages near Bakhmut, a key town previously seized by Russian forces. According to Ilia Yevlash, spokesperson for Ukraine's forces in the east, Russian troops fired on Ukrainian soldiers 580 times and used aircraft four times. Ukrainian troops have made significant progress, with defenders continuing to repel the enemy under heavy fire. The spokesperson claimed that 141 Russian troops were killed and several pieces of artillery equipment destroyed. Ukrainian forces in the south are reportedly preparing to advance towards the Sea of Azov, prompting Russian forces to bring in reserves. Volodymyr Zelenskiy commended the successes in his recent address, noting damage to Russian logistics and headquarters. Additionally, Ukraine has conducted attacks inside Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea. The counteroffensive operations launched in early June have resulted in gains in eastern and southern regions, despite the challenging conditions of heavily mined and destroyed areas.
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has lost his appeal against a 19-year prison term, which was added to his existing sentence last month. The ruling was upheld by a Moscow court, with the proceedings closed to the media except for the reading of the verdict. Navalny, considered the most prominent figure in Russia's opposition movement, has been seen as a symbol of hope for many, with supporters likening him to Nelson Mandela. His political movement has been banned, and key figures have either been jailed or forced to flee the country as part of a government crackdown on dissent. His latest sentence was imposed on charges related to alleged ‘extremist activity’, which he denies. He was already serving an 11-and-a-half-year sentence on fraud charges, which he also described as politically motivated. Navalny's appeal rejection comes despite international admiration for his return to Russia after being poisoned with a nerve agent in Siberia, an act he attributes to the Kremlin. The Russian government has sought to diminish Navalny's political significance and portrays him as an extremist and a puppet of foreign intelligence agencies.