Mon, Nov 6 202311:26 AM EST
Ukraine reportedly expects ‘positive’ EU report on membership bid
Ukraine is expecting a “positive” appraisal of its attempt to gain membership to the European Union, the country’s deputy prime minister told Reuters.
Olha Stefanishyna made the comments in an interview with Reuters ahead of a report on Ukraine’s progress in terms of becoming a member of the 27-country bloc, which is due for publication on Wednesday.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
Mon, Nov 6 20239:13 AM EST
Finland says Russian Baltic Sea telecoms cable also damaged
A Russian telecoms cable in the Baltic Sea suffered an outage last month and is now undergoing repairs by Russia, the Finnish economy ministry said on Monday, adding to a spate of damage to the region’s subsea infrastructure.
The 1,000 kilometre (620 miles) Baltika cable belonging to state-owned Rostelecom runs from the region of St. Petersburg to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in the southern Baltic Sea.
A gas pipeline linking Finland and Estonia and two other telecoms cables, connecting Estonia to Finland and Sweden, were also damaged last month.
The Finnish ministry declined to comment on whether the Baltika incident was in any way linked to the earlier outages.
The commanding officer of the Finnish Navy Toni Joutsia (L to R), lieutenant commander of the Finnish Border Guard Markus Paljakka, the detective inspector of the National Bureau of Investigation Risto Lohi and the Chief of National Bureau of Investigation Robin Lardot attend a joint press conference of the investigation of the possible attack on the Balticconnector gas line on October 8, 2023 between Finland and Estonia at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation in Vantaa, Finland on October 24, 2023. The screen shows Finnish Border Guard’s photo of a Hong Kong -registered cargo ship ‘Newnew Polar Bear’, which was spotted moving close to the Balticconnector gas line.Finnish police said a Chinese ship was the focus of their investigation into suspected sabotage of the Balticconnector pipeline. (Photo by Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva / AFP) / Finland OUT (Photo by HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)
Heikki Saukkomaa | Afp | Getty Images
Finnish police believe damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline was caused by a Chinese container ship dragging its anchor along the seabed but have not concluded whether this was an accident or deliberate act.
Rostelecom first reported the outage of its telecoms cable to Finnish authorities on Oct. 12, the economy ministry said on Monday, four days after the damage to the gas pipeline and the two other cables was first discovered.
The Finnish border guard said on Monday it was monitoring a Russian salvage ship, the Spasatel Karev, that was undertaking repairs to the Baltika cable in Finland’s economic zone.
In September 2022, the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Germany and Russia in the Baltic Sea were damaged by explosions that authorities have said were deliberate acts of sabotage.
Mon, Nov 6 20237:06 AM EST
Kremlin insists Putin has not yet decided whether to run in 2024
The Kremlin said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet announced his decision to run in the 2024 election.
Citing six unnamed sources, Reuters reported earlier that Putin had decided to run in in March vote next year.
Asked to comment on the report, Kremlin Dmitry Peskov told TASS news agency that “Putin has not yet made any statements on this matter. And the campaign itself has not yet been officially announced.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin (R) and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (L) attend the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting at the Congress Hall in Bishkek on December 9, 2022.
Vyacheslav Oseledko | Afp | Getty Images
There is little real political plurality in Russia and even supposed “opposition” parties generally support Putin’s government. Peskov himself previously said in September that “if we assume that the president stands as a candidate, then it is obvious that there can be no real competition for the president at this current stage.”
The Russian presidential elections are scheduled to take place on March 17, 2024. TASS reported that the Federation Council, or Senate (the upper house of Russia’s parliament, or Federal Assembly) will make an official decision on the date of elections in December, after which political parties must hold their pre-election congresses and officially nominate candidates.
Changes to Russia’s constitution in 2021 means Putin, age 71, can run for another two terms in office, potentially remaining in office until 2036.
Mon, Nov 6 20236:45 AM EST
Ukraine confirms 19 dead after Russian strike on awards ceremony
ZAPORIZHZHIA REGION, UKRAINE – JUNE 30, 2023 – Servicemen of the 128th separate mountain assault brigade pass a special obstacle course as part of the exam to receive a mountain assault beret. (Photo credit should read Dmytro Smoliyenko / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images
Ukraine’s 128th separate Transcarpathian Mountain Assault Brigade confirmed Monday that 19 of its soldiers died in a Russian strike on an awards ceremony last Friday.
“The missile attack by an insidious enemy took the lives of 19 fighters of the 128th separate mountain assault brigade,” it said on Facebook.
“Now a thorough check of all the circumstances of the tragedy is being conducted, until it is completed we call you not to spread unverified, often fake information.”
“Our best fighters have died… We express our sincere condolences to their relatives and promise to pay back 100 times more for our brothers,” the post concluded.
The deaths have stoked public anger given that Russia attacked the brigade during an awards ceremony, an even that was seen as an easy target.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took the unusual step of addressing the incident and losses in his nightly address on Sunday, admitting that the “tragedy could have been avoided.”
Mon, Nov 6 20235:07 AM EST
Russia’s Putin to stay in power past 2024, sources say
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Feb. 8, 2023.
Grigory Sysoev | Sputnik | via Reuters
Vladimir Putin has decided to run in the March presidential election, a move that will keep him in power until least 2030, as the Kremlin chief feels he must steer Russia through the most perilous period in decades, six sources told Reuters.
Putin, who was handed the presidency by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, has already served as president for longer than any other Russian ruler since Josef Stalin, beating even Leonid Brezhnev’s 18-year tenure. Putin turned 71 on Oct. 7.
The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of Kremlin politics, said that news of Putin’s decision had trickled down and that advisers were now preparing for the campaign and a Putin election.
For Putin, who opinion polls show enjoys approval ratings of 80% inside Russia, the election is a formality if he runs: with the support of the state, the state media and almost no mainstream public dissent, he is certain to win.
“The decision has been made – he will run,” said one of the sources who has knowledge of planning. A choreographed hint is due to come within a few weeks, another source said, confirming a Kommersant newspaper report last month.
Another source, also acquainted with the Kremlin’s thinking, confirmed that a decision had been made and that Putin’s advisers were preparing for Putin’s participation. Three other sources said the decision had been made: Putin will run.
“The world we look out upon is very dangerous,” said one of the sources.
Mon, Nov 6 20233:38 AM EST
‘Wet from head to toe’: Russian morale reportedly dropping as weather changes
Eyewitness accounts from deployed Russian troops in Ukraine suggest that the soldiers’ battle against the elements remains a major preoccupation for Russia’s army, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Sunday.
In an intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter, the ministry said Russian soldiers who recently returned from Ukraine who were speaking at the Ogakov Readings military affairs conference in Moscow on Nov. 1 described being “wet from head to toe” for weeks on end on the front line.
“One soldier highlighted that the risk of fire alerting Ukrainian forces meant that they ‘couldn’t even boil a mug of tea.’ They highlighted living and eating ‘monotonous’ food in pervasive mud,” the U.K. noted.
A soldier from a Ukrainian assault brigade walks on a muddy road used to transport and position British-made L118 105 mm Howitzers, on March 4, 2023, near Bakhmut, Ukraine.
John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Maintaining a decent level of personal comfort and sound administration in defensive positions is challenging for any army, the ministry noted, “however, open-source evidence suggests a generally very poor level on enforcement of basic field administration amongst Russian forces.”
“This is likely partially caused by a deficit in motivated junior commanders as well as variable logistical support.”
— Holly Ellyatt
Mon, Nov 6 20232:58 AM EST
Zelenskyy comments on soldiers’ deaths following public anger
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the European Political Community Summit in Granada, Spain, on Oct. 5, 2023.
Juan Medina | Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy commented on the deaths of a group of soldiers in the Zaporizhzhia region after a Russian strike on an awards ceremony last week.
Unofficial reports suggest at least 20 soldiers and officers died in the attack as they gathered for the ceremony on Artillery and Missile Forces Day.
Ukraine’s strategic communications department confirmed Sunday that the incident took place, saying on Telegram that the personnel of the 128th separate mountain assault brigade were hit “with an Iskander-M missile, as a result of which servicemen were killed, and local residents were also injured of various degrees of severity.”
It’s unusual for Zelenskyy to comment on specific losses, but those remarks came after public anger at the incident. The ceremony was seen as an easy target for Russian forces.
In his nightly address, the president said, “First and foremost, regarding the Russian strike on the soldiers of the 128th Separate Mountain Infantry Brigade occurred in Zaporizhzhia region,” adding that it was “a tragedy that could have been avoided.”
“Defense Minister Umerov has reported to me on the measures taken to clarify all the circumstances of what happened, who was specifically involved, and what orders were given,” Zelenskyy said. He added that “criminal proceedings have been initiated in response to this tragedy. The relevant investigation is ongoing.”
“The main thing is to establish the complete truth about what happened and prevent such incidents from happening again. Every soldier in the combat zone – in the enemy’s line of fire and aerial reconnaissance – knows how to behave in the open, how to ensure safety.”
Zelenskyy said the investigation “must provide honest answers to the families of the fallen soldiers and the society about how this tragedy occurred and whether any improper orders were issued.”
— Holly Ellyatt
Mon, Nov 6 20232:53 AM EST
Russia test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile from new submarine
Russia’s Ministry of Defense released a video on Sunday that appeared to show a nuclear-capable ballistic missile being test-fired from the country’s newest nuclear submarine.
The ministry posted a video on Telegram that it said showed its new nuclear submarine successfully completing a test launch of a Bulava sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile.
“As part of the final stage of the state testing programme, the new nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine Imperator Alexander III successfully launched a sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile Bulava from the White Sea,” a statement posted by the ministry said.
The test launch came after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law last week withdrawing Russia’s ratification of a global treaty banning the live testing of nuclear weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Navy Day Parade on July, 31 2022, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the missile was launched from an underwater position in the White Sea on Russia’s northern coast and hit its target all the way in Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East.
That was the final test run for the Imperator Aleksandr III submarine before it’s accepted into the Navy, the ministry said. The submarine is equipped with 16 Bulava ballistic missiles and modern torpedo weapons.
— Holly Ellyatt
Mon, Nov 6 20232:50 AM EST
Ukraine to introduce ‘intensive military training of citizens of draft age’
Ukraine’s defense minster signed a new plan for Ukraine’s military, including the replacement of conscription with “intensive military training for citizens of military age.”
Defense Minister Rustem Umerov signed an order on Sunday approving changes to the development of military personnel over the next five years, both during martial law and in peacetime.
The policy noted that, under peacetime conditions, Ukraine’s armed forces will transfer to military service under contract while long-term military service will be replaced by “intensive military training of citizens of draft age.”
A military training session aiming to teach Ukrainian youth how to follow military standards in war conditions in Lviv Region, Ukraine, on Aug. 18, 2023.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
“An effective system of recruiting the Armed Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will function with professional and motivated personnel,” the military personnel policy stated.
“The main emphasis of the concept is the guaranteed satisfaction of the needs of the Armed Forces in people during a full-scale war, integration into the Euro-Atlantic security space, interoperability of the Armed Forces with the armed forces of NATO member states,” it added.
The changes come after a period of turbulence in Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, with senior personnel changes. Umerov has been defense minister since September.
— Holly Ellyatt