Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said the war in Ukraine is part of Russia’s wider struggle against western domination. “We are standing at a historical frontier:
Ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two,” he said. The Ukraine offensive, he said in a speech addressed to the Valdai Discussion Club, a gathering of Russian specialists, on Thursday. He added the war was simply part of the “tectonic shifts of the entire world order” and that “the historical period of the west’s undivided dominance over world affairs is coming to an end”.
Putin said he ordered his defence minister to call top Nato commanders this week over the potential detonation of a “dirty bomb” in Ukraine.
Putin claimed that Russia knew “about an incident with a so-called ‘dirty bomb’ being prepared”, and that Russia knew “where, generally, it was being prepared” in a speech near Moscow on Thursday. He gave no evidence of the alleged plot, which included the possibility of the device being loaded on to a Tochka-U or other tactical missile, detonated and then “blamed on Russia”.
Fighting on the ground appears to have slowed in recent days, with Ukrainian officials saying tough terrain and bad weather had held up their main advance in the southern Kherson province. On Thursday a close ally of Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, said 23 of his soldiers had been killed and 58 others wounded in a Ukrainian artillery attack this week in Kherson region. After the attack, Chechen forces carried out a revenge attack and killed about 70 Ukrainians, he claimed.
Ukrainians living in and around Kyiv have been told of a “sharp deterioration” in the region’s electricity supply after a fresh wave of Russian strikes aimed at sapping public morale as the country’s cold winter approaches.
A new timetable of scheduled blackouts will be introduced in Kyiv and the surrounding area over the coming days designed to prevent uncontrolled blackouts and will be stricter and longer. Residents in Kyiv apartment buildings have started leaving small packages of snacks in lifts to be used in case people get stuck during a blackout.
Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s occupied region of Zaporizhzhia ordered phone checks on local residents on Thursday, announcing the implementation of military censorship under Putin’s martial law decree. “From today in the Zaporizhzhia region, law enforcement officers have begun a selective preventing check of the mobile phones of citizens,” the Moscow-appointed official Vladimir Rogov said.
Moscow has said that provisions of the Black Sea grain deal to ease Russian agricultural and fertiliser exports were not being met, and that it was yet to make a decision on whether the agreement should be extended. Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters that the west had not taken sufficient steps to ease sanctions on Russia’s logistics, payments and insurance industries to facilitate Russia’s exports.
The United States has not seen anything to indicate that Russia’s ongoing annual ‘Grom’ exercises of its nuclear forces may be a cover for a real deployment, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
“We haven’t seen anything to cause us to believe, at this point, that is some kind of cover activity,” Austin told reporters.
An oil depot in the Russian-occupied city of Shakhtarsk, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk, was engulfed in flames overnight on Wednesday. The city’s Russian-installed mayor, Alexander Shatov, claimed the fire was caused by Ukrainian shelling of the railway station.
The US is sending Ukraine a new $275m package of weapons and other aid, in a move to bolster the effort to drive Russian forces out of key areas in the south as the winter closes in, US officials said on Thursday.
Officials said there are no major new weapons in the package, which is expected to be announced on Friday.
Ukrainian authorities say they will launch a criminal case against Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, accusing her of enabling the abduction and forced adoption of thousands of vulnerable Ukrainian children. Maria Lvova-Belova said this week that she herself has adopted a boy seized by the Russian army in the bombed-out city of Mariupol. Last month, she was sanctioned by the west over allegations that she masterminded the removal of more than 2,000 children from Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. According to Ukraine, she orchestrated a new policy to facilitate their forced placement with “foster families” in Russia.
Russian journalist and Putin’s rumoured goddaughter has fled to Lithuania, intelligence services in Vilnius said, after police in Moscow raided one of her homes. Ksenia Sobchak is the daughter of the former mayor of St Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak, whom Putin has previously described as his mentor.
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