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Russia Ukraine war latest: Putin unleashes wave of drones as death toll in Avdiivka ‘exceeds 17k’

<p>Russia Ukraine War</p>

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Russia unleashed a barrage of drone attacks on seven cities in Ukraine overnight as footage released by the Kremlin’s defence ministry showed the recently-occupied city of Avdiivka completely destroyed by five months of heavy bombardment.

Ukraine said they had destroyed all 23 drones Russia had launched at the country overnight. “As a result of combat operations, all 23 “shaheds” drones were shot down in Kharkiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions,” the military said on Telegram.

It comes as television footage released by Russia’s defence ministry showed that almost every house in Avdiivka was branded with war. In the footage, the cupola of a church was seen in pieces, roads were strewn with the detritus of war and whole apartment blocks hung broken.

More than 17,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the five months-long fight for Avdiivka, which ended over the weekend, according to a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military. An additional 30,000 were wounded, he added.

If true, that means Russia lost more personnel in the fight for Avdiivka than during a decade-long occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.

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Belarusian opposition leader calls for boycott of upcoming elections

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is in exile in neighboring Lithuania after challenging Alexander Lukashenko in the 2020 ballots, has called for boycotting the upcoming election in Belarus.

“We are calling for a boycott of this cynical farce because this imitation of election has nothing to do with democracy,” Tsikhanouskaya told The Associated Press. “Belarusians inside the country hate this regime, but they can’t openly say that due to brutal repressions.”

Speaking during a meeting Tuesday with top Belarusian law enforcement officials, Mr Lukashenko alleged that Western countries were pondering plans to stage a coup in the country or try to seize power by force. He claimed, without offering evidence, that Polish authorities in particular could use blackmail and threats to try to convince senior Belarusian officials to switch allegiances.

Valery Karbalevich, an independent Belarusian political analyst, observed that Lukashenko treats the election as a “military operation.”

“This is the continuation of the concept of election as a war, a military operation in which the Belarusian leader is fighting internal and external foes,” Mr Karbalevich said. “Authorities in Belarus see any election as a threat and a pretext to step up repressions and tighten the screws.”

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Lukashenko accuses West of trying to undermine his rule ahead of contentious Belarus elections

Belarus’s authoritarian leader of nearly 30 years, Alexander Lukashenko, has accused the West of trying to foment protests during parliamentary and local elections this month in order to undermine his rule.

Early balloting began on Tuesday in the tightly-controlled parliamentary and local vote, in which only those who follow Mr Lukashenko’s political course were allowed to compete. Most candidates belong to the four officially registered parties, which all support Lukashenko’s policies.

It marks the first election in Belarus since the contentious 2020 presidential vote which handed Lukashenko his sixth term in office and triggered an unprecedented wave of mass demonstrations.

This month’s election takes place amid a relentless crackdown on dissent. Over 1,400 political prisoners remain behind bars, including leaders of opposition parties and renowned human rights advocate and 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski.

The Viasna human rights centre reported on Tuesday that Ihar Lednik, one of the leaders of the opposition Social Democratic Party, had died in prison at age 64. Lednik, who was serving a three-year sentence after being convicted of slandering Lukashenko, has died of cardiac arrest following a surgery in prison.

Viasna said that Lednik’s death marked the fifth death of a political prisoner in custody over the last three years.

Andy Gregory21 February 2024 03:24

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Avdiivka would not have fallen if Kyiv had received stalled US aid package, Ukraine’s Kuleba says

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has lamented that Avdiivka would not have fallen had Kyiv received weapons held up by the US Congress’s failure to approve a large aid package.

“We wouldn’t [have lost] Avdiivka if we had all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it. Russia does not intend to pause or withdraw … Once Avdiivka is under their control, they undoubtedly will choose another city and begin to storm it,” Mr Kuleba told CNN.

Ukrainian troops, he said, were “making miracles … but the reason they have to sacrifice themselves and die is that someone is still debating a decision. I want everyone to remember that every day of debate in one place means another death in another place.”

The US Senate passed a $95bn aid package earlier this month that includes funds for Ukraine, but House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson has declined to bring it up for a vote on the floor of the House.

Andy Gregory21 February 2024 02:17

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Putin claims Russia will push further into Ukraine after seizing Avdiivka

Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russian troops will push further into Ukraine to build on their success on the battlefield after the fall of the town of Avdiivka, where he said Ukrainian troops had been forced to flee in chaos.

The town, which once had a population of 32,000, fell to Russia on Saturday, marking Mr Putin’s largest battlefield victory – and the most costly – since Russian forces captured the city of Bakhmut last May.

“As for the overall situation in Avdiivka, this is an absolute success, I congratulate you. It needs to be built on,” Mr Putin told defence minister Sergei Shoigu in the Kremlin.

“But that development must be well-prepared, provided with personnel, weapons, equipment and ammunition,” Mr Putin said. “It seems to be self-evident, but nevertheless I draw your attention to it.”

Andy Gregory21 February 2024 01:09

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Rishi Sunak accuses Putin of setting off ‘energy and a food price bomb’

Rishi Sunak accuses Putin of setting off ‘energy and a food price bomb’

Andy Gregory21 February 2024 00:05

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Ukraine rejects Russian claim to have wrested control of Dnipro village

Ukraine’s military has dismissed a claim by Russia’s defence minister that Moscow’s forces have secured full control over the village of Krynky, on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in southern Kherson.

A statement on Telegram by the Ukrainian military’s southern district said Russian forces had made no headway on the eastern bank and that Sergei Shoigu’s statement was a “falsification of the facts.”

Russian troops abandoned the western bank of the Dnipro in Kherson region in late 2022, but remain in areas on the eastern bank. Ukrainian forces captured some districts on the eastern bank last November.

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 23:11

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Joanna Lumley hails ‘great feeling of unity’ at Ukraine event

People in the UK sometimes “don’t know how to focus” their help for Ukraine, Dame Joanna Lumley has suggested as she read a poem at a theatre event to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

The 77-year-old joined more than 1,000 others at London’s Palace Theatre for an evening which featured performances by Ukrainian poets, a ballerina and musicians in a show of support for the war-torn country.

The actress read the English translation of a poem by Ukrainian poet and medic Yuliia Paievska, who was imprisoned by Russian soldiers between March and June 2022.

The Absolutely Fabulous star told the PA news agency afterwards: “The house was packed, it was extraordinary, there was a great feeling of unity. I think the important thing about the world, which is very fragmented, is that if you see how strong people are together, it weakens the opposition.”

When asked if Britons were doing enough to support Ukraine, she said: “If somebody said ‘collect milk bottles’ or something like that, or ‘collect tin cans’, we would all do it all the time, but sometimes it’s too nebulous and people don’t know how to focus their aid.

“I know that this country stands absolutely behind Ukraine and we long for what will happen.”

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Ukraine and US defence ministers discuss ammunition and war’s front line

Ukrainian defence minister Rustem Umerov has said that he and the new forces commander Oleksandr Syrsky discussed the war’s front line and ammunition supplies with US defence secretary Lloyd Austin.

Writing on Facebook, Mr Umerov described the call as “productive”

“General Syrskyi gave updates on the current dynamics on the frontline,” he wrote. “The common understanding of the situation and the action plan were discussed. The ammunition supply was in focus as well.”

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 20:41

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Ukraine probes alleged shooting of captured Ukrainian soldiers near Robotyne

Ukraine has begun an investigation into the alleged shooting by Russian troops of three Ukrainian soldiers captured on the southern front line, prosecutors have said, marking the second such inquiry announced since Sunday.

According to the prosecutor’s general office, the three Ukrainian prisoners of war were shot dead on Sunday near Robotyne, a village in Zaporizhzhia wrested back from Russian forces during last year’s painstaking counteroffensive.

A criminal proceeding is looking into “the fact of violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder”, prosecutors said.

On Sunday, Kyiv said it was investigating the alleged fatal shooting by Russians of six unarmed Ukrainian soldiers after Ukrainian forces withdrew from the embattled town of Avdiivka, in Russia’s biggest battlefield success in nine months.

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 20:05

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Jon Stewart reacts to Tucker Carlson getting ‘radicalised’ following his Russian shopping trip

Jon Stewart reacts to Tucker Carlson getting ‘radicalised’ following his Russian shopping trip

Andy Gregory20 February 2024 18:44


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