New foreign secretary David Cameron meets Zelensky
Vladimir Putin has signed a record national budget aimed at boosting the military amid staggering losses on the battlefield.
After the budget was passed by the lower house of the parliament, speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said it was developed specifically to fund the military and to mitigate the impact of international sanctions imposed after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
Part of the Russian budget is secret as the Kremlin tries to conceal its military plans and sidestep scrutiny of its operation in Ukraine.
But independent business journalists Farida Rustamova and Maksim Tovkaylo said this month that around 39 per cent of all federal spending will go towards defence and law enforcement in 2024.
It comes as data published by the UK Ministry of Defence, provided by Ukraine’s General Staff, showed the number of Russians casualties had risen to an average 931 a day this month.
UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Putin is stepping up his invasion – senselessly sending more Russians to die than at any time since the war began.”
Nearly 2,500 rescued after snowstorm in Ukraine’s Odesa region
Nearly 2,500 people were rescued after a snowstorm in Ukraine‘s southern region of Odesa, local governor Oleh Kiper said, adding that 313 settlements in the region were without power as a result of the bad weather.
Odesa region, which lies on the shore of the Black Sea, has been hit by severe snowstorms since Sunday, stranding vehicles and downing power lines.
“849 vehicles have been towed out, including 24 buses and 17 ambulances,” Kiper wrote on the Telegram app.
He said all those trapped by the snow since the start of the snowstorm had now been rescued.
Lydia Patrick28 November 2023 07:35
Ukraine and the Western Balkans top Blinken agenda for NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels
Blinken has spent much of the last month-and-a-half deeply engaged on the Gaza crisis, making two trips to the Middle East. Now, amid signs that a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas due to expire on Monday may be extended, Blinken is departing for Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting.
In Brussels, the alliance will reaffirm its support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion, explore ways of easing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia and look at preparations for NATO’s 75th anniversary next year.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 November 2023 05:00
Putin unveils Russia’s new AI strategy to rival Western advances in artificial intelligence
Vladimir Putin has unveiled what he calls Russia’s new strategy to counter Western dominance of the field of artifical intelligence, claiming that new AI models “cancel Russian culture”.
The president addressed an AI conference in Moscow on Friday where he said Russian investment in AI development was being increased across all sectors.
Citing the example of Gazprom Neft, Mr Putin said one of Russia’s largest oil producers was using AI to slash the cost of oil well development and to address complicated logistics safety issues.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 November 2023 04:00
Russia forced to move air defences from Kaliningrad to Ukraine frontline amid heavy losses
Russia has likely been forced to move several air defence systems from its Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea coast to the frontline in Ukraine amid the losses it has suffered there, according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Vladimir Putin appears to have been left with no choice but to weaken the defences of Kaliningrad, an outpost bordered by Nato members on three sides and considered one of Moscow’s most strategically sensitive regions.
“Exceptional Russian air transport movements through November 2023 suggest that Russia has likely moved strategic air defence systems from its Baltic coast enclave of Kaliningrad, to backfill recent losses on the Ukraine front,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update on Sunday.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 November 2023 03:00
More than half a million people left without power in Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after huge storm
More than half a million people were left without power in Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after a storm in the Black Sea area flooded roads, ripped up trees and took down power lines, Russian state news agency Tass and Ukraine’s energy ministry said. Meanwhile, the Moscow region experienced its heaviest snowfall in 40 years, the governor said.
The storms and snowfall were part of a weather front that left one person dead and many places without electricity amid heavy snow and blizzards in Romania and Moldova on Sunday.
The head of Russia’s national meteorological service said the storm that hit Crimea was the most powerful since record keeping began, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 November 2023 02:00
Schumer to bring spending package on Israel and Ukraine to Senate floor
In a letter to colleagues on Sunday, the New York Democrat wrote, “One of the most important tasks we must finish is taking up and passing a funding bill to ensure we as well as our friends and partners in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region have the necessary military capabilities to confront and deter our adversaries and competitors”.
Both GOP congressional leaders – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Mike Johnson – have argued that any Republican backing of aid to Ukraine must be tied to restricting immigration, CNN noted. Mr Schumer said talks regarding the border issue had gone on over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 November 2023 01:00
Russian supermarkets are full of fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat. But shoppers can’t afford any of it
Russia’s Central Bank has raised its key lending rate four times this year to try to get inflation under control and stabilize the ruble’s exchange rate as the economy weathers the effects of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and the Western sanctions imposed as a consequence.
The last time it raised the rate — to 15%, doubled that from the beginning of the year — the bank said it was concerned about prices that were increasing at an annualized pace of about 12%. The bank now forecasts inflation for the full year, as well as next year, to be about 7.5%.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 November 2023 00:00
Lavrov says no meeting between Russia and US this week
Russia said on Monday there would be no meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at an OSCE meeting in North Macedonia this week.
Lavrov had said earlier he would join the foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Canada and the United States, in Skopje if Bulgaria opened its air space for him. He said some Western countries had requested meetings with him.
Since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, the West has sought to isolate Russia, and face-to-face meetings between senior ministers have been rare.
But in response to a question at the same Primakov Readings foreign policy forum, the TASS news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying Washington had not requested a meeting “and will not request one. And there will be no meeting”.
The meeting of the 57-member OSCE, which is intended to prevent conflict and security crises, takes place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.
“Apparently Bulgaria has promised Macedonia it will open its air space – if that happens then we will be there. Let’s see,” Lavrov said.
“There are already several requests for meetings – including from Western representatives,” Lavrov said, without naming any countries.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 November 2023 23:00
Putin pardons two cannibals who joined Russia’s war in Ukraine – report
One of the men, Denis Gorin, was recruited into a private military company after signing a contract with the Russian ministry of defence but is known to have been convicted thrice for murdering at least four people between 2003 and 2022. He was also convicted of eating the remains of his victims along with his brother, reported Sibir Realii, a news outlet aligned with Radio Free Europe.
He is the 17th person convicted for murder to be pardoned by the Russian president between 2022 and 2023. “At the trial, he (Gorin) admitted that they ate the murdered man who was their acquaintance,” said his neighbour Dmitry Vladimirovich.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 November 2023 22:00
Putin to boost AI work in Russia to fight a Western monopoly he says is ‘unacceptable and dangerous’
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced a plan to endorse a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, emphasizing that it’s essential to prevent a Western monopoly.
Speaking at an AI conference in Moscow, Putin noted that “it’s imperative to use Russian solutions in the field of creating reliable and transparent artificial intelligence systems that are also safe for humans.”
“Monopolistic dominance of such foreign technology in Russia is unacceptable, dangerous and inadmissible,” Putin said.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 November 2023 21:00