Russia-Ukraine war: Putin claims village in Kharkiv as Moscow criticises ‘Cold War’ Nato drills – live

Firefighters battle blaze in Ukraine’s Odessa after Russian airstrike on residential building

Vladimir Putin’s defence ministry claims Russia has captured its first village in weeks, with troops seizing the small Kharkiv village of Krokhmalne more than a year after it was liberated by Ukraine.

The battlefield development came as Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko claimed the scale of Nato’s Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises – due to start next month – mark a “final and irrevocable return” to Cold War schemes.

Nato said on Thursday it was launching its largest exercise since the Cold War involving some 90,000 troops, rehearsing how US troops could reinforce European allies in countries bordering Russia and on the alliance’s eastern flank if a conflict were to flare up with a “near-peer” adversary.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that Russian troops have planted mines around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, with the watchdog alleging that the Russian army had reinstalled mines along the perimeter of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the IAEA, expressed concern over this development, emphasising that the presence of mines contradicts the agency’s safety standards.


Two Russian citizens on private plane which disappeared over Afghanistan, reports claim

Two Russian citizens were passengers on a charter flight bound for Moscow which disappeared over Afghanistan, state news agencies report.

A manifest list for the plane which named everyone on board and which was published by the SHOT news outlet appeared to show that the crew were Russian nationals too.

Russian aviation authorities said on Sunday a Russian-registered plane with six people thought to be on board had disappeared from radar screens over Afghanistan the previous night, after local Afghan police said they had received reports of a crash.

Russia’s RIA news agency said the flight was a medical evacuation from Thailand to Moscow, citing a source “in the operational services”. Russian investigators said they had opened a criminal investigation to determine whether there was any violation of safety rules.

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 10:13


Europe must ‘step up’ with Ukraine funding, says UK defence secretary

Europe needs to “step up” and provide more funding for Ukraine, Grant Shapps has said.

The Cabinet minister told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “Britain has, again, as with all of those other things, led the way with a £2.5bn package and a security agreement, a cooperation agreement with President Zelensky and Ukraine.

“Now … not just America, but Europe needs to step up and do their part to make sure that Ukraine can continue to defend herself.”

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 09:42


Russia claims to seize village in Kharkiv

Russian forces have taken control of the frontline village of Krokhmalne in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Russia’s Defence Ministry has claimed.

The small village was liberated by Ukraine in autumn 2022. It appears to have been recaptured by Russian troops in a grinding offensive aimed at Kupiansk.

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 09:31


12 killed in Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk, Russian governor claims

Twelve people were killed in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine by Ukrainian shelling, Alexei Kulemzin, the city’s Russian-installed mayor, has claimed.

Mr Kulemzin alleged that Ukrainian forces shelled a busy area where shops and a market are located. It was not possible to verify the claims.

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 08:53


Full report: Fire breaks out at Russia’s Novatek gas terminal, Leningrad’s governor says

A fire has engulfed a St Peterburg facility belonging to Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer, according to local officials, amid reports of a Ukrainian drone attack in the area, my colleague Shweta Sharma reports.

Drone attacks targeted the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga early Sunday, damaging a large gas storage facility, as reported by the regional newspaper operating out of St Petersburg, Fontanka.

Leningrad‘s governor, Alexander Drozdenko confirmed the outbreak of fire at the facility of the largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea. But did not confirm the cause of the fire.

If confirmed to be a Ukrainian drone strike, it will be the third one on Russian energy this week.

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 08:32


Zelensky says he expects new Western defence packages this month

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said he expects a number of new Western defence packages for Ukraine to be signed this and next month.

“We are preparing new agreements with partners – strong bilateral agreements,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “January and February should bring corresponding results. There are already specific dates when new and strong documents can be expected.”

The Ukrainian president did not name the countries with which he hoped to finalise agreements – but he has spent weeks on an international diplomatic frenzy trying to secure more political and military support.

Earlier this month, the UK said it would increase its support for Ukraine in the next financial year to £2.5bn. French president Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he would head to Ukraine in February to finalise a bilateral security guarantee deal under which Paris would deliver more sophisticated weaponry, including long-range cruise missiles.

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 08:07


Scale of Nato drills mark ‘irrevocable return’ to Cold War schemes, Moscow claims

The scale of Nato’s Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises mark an “irrevocable return” of the alliance to Cold War schemes, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko has claimed.

Nato said on Thursday it was launching its largest exercise since the Cold War involving some 90,000 troops, rehearsing how US troops could reinforce European allies in countries bordering Russia and on the alliance’s eastern flank if a conflict were to flare up with a “near-peer” adversary.

“These exercises are another element of the hybrid war unleashed by the West against Russia,” Mr Grushko told state news agency RIA.

“An exercise of this scale … marks the final and irrevocable return of Nato to the Cold War schemes, when the military planning process, resources and infrastructure are being prepared for confrontation with Russia.”

Nato did not mention Russia by name in its announcement. But its top strategic document identifies Russia as the most significant and direct threat to Nato members’ security.

Alexander Grushko gavo a news conference after a meeting at Nato headquarters last week between Russian ministers and alliance diplomats


Andy Gregory21 January 2024 07:40


Fire at Russian Baltic Sea gas terminal ‘caused by two explosions’

A fire at a terminal of Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea was caused by two explosions, the state RIA news agency reported on Sunday, citing local officials.

The agency said that the fire has since been contained to a 100-cubic-metre fuel depot.

Andy Gregory21 January 2024 07:17


Russia to consider law on property confiscation for ‘fakes’ about army

Russian lawmakers have prepared a bill allowing for the confiscation of money and property from people who spread “deliberately false information” about the country’s armed forces, a senior member of parliament said on Saturday.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, said the measure would also apply to those found guilty of what he described as other forms of betrayal. These included “discrediting” the armed forces, calling for sanctions against Russia or inciting extremist activity.

“Everyone who tries to destroy Russia, who betrays it, must face deserved punishment and compensate for the damage inflicted on the country, at the cost of their own property,” Volodin wrote on Telegram.

Alexander Butler21 January 2024 06:30


At Putin campaign HQ, soldier’s wife says bring him home

The wife of a Russian soldier delivered an emotional appeal for his return from Ukraine on Saturday at the election headquarters of President Vladimir Putin, a defiant gesture in a country where open criticism of the war is banned.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has issued a decree that my husband has to be there (in Ukraine). I’m interested to know when he will issue a decree that my husband has to be home,” Maria Andreyeva said as campaign workers looked on.

She became involved in a heated exchange with a woman who told her that Russian soldiers in Ukraine were defending the motherland and she should pray for them.

Alexander Butler21 January 2024 04:30

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