Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping ‘willing to expand cooperation with Putin’; Crimean bridge ‘a security burden’ for Russia

China is willing to expand trilateral cooperation with Russia and Mongolia, President Xi Jinping has said. Meanwhile, the UK’s Ministry of Defence reports that the Crimean bridge is “now almost certainly a significant security burden” for Russia, requiring multi-domain protection.

Russian sources ‘concerned’ about Ukrainian activity in Kherson – ISW

Russian sources have expressed “pronounced concern” about ongoing Ukrainian activity in Kherson, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports.

For context, Ukraine’s counteroffensive has yet to make up significant ground on what is the westernmost Russian-held territory. In June, the Kakhovka Dam was destroyed – with many analysts suggesting it was Russia’s attempt to hinder the Ukrainian drive. Russia has denied this.

Now, the US-based thinktank cites a prominent Russian military blogger who has “expressed concern” about a Ukrainian offensive across the Dnipro River this year and “escalated his warnings” in September.

“Russian concerns about the ability of Russian forces to repel a potential Ukrainian offensive operation across the Dnipro River may be partially connected to the condition of the Russian grouping of forces on the left bank,” the ISW reports.

The thinktank also notes that in recent months the Russian command has drawn more elite units from the Kherson direction to support defensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia – which, along with the east of Ukraine, has been the focus of much of our counteroffensive reporting these past months.

The ISW says that it cannot speculate on the scope and prospects of ongoing Ukrainian activity on the east bank of Kherson but “it is noteworthy that prominent and generally reliable Russian sources are discussing Ukrainian activities on the east bank as occurring at a larger scale than previously documented”.

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Russian foreign minster meets Kim Jong Un

In the last few moments, reports have come through that Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Kremlin official is currently visiting to Pyongyang to discuss implementing the agreements Vladimir Putin and Mr Kim signed when they met at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome last month.

The Russian ministry has not provided any details of the meeting, which, according to state-run TASS news agency, lasted just over an hour.

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Overnight airstrikes on Ukraine

Russian forces carried out new airstrikes overnight on targets in eastern, southern and northern Ukraine, Kyiv’s military report this morning.

The air force said 17 different weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles and attack drones, had been used to strike industrial, infrastructure, civilian and military objects.

Ukrainian forces shot down three drones and one cruise missile, it said.

There are no reports of any casualties from the latest strike.

For context: Russia has carried out frequent airstrikes since launching its invasion.

But Moscow continues to maintain the stance that it does not target civilians.

Ukraine’s military has also used airstrikes to attack Russian military forces on or near the battlefield and Russia has reported shooting down Ukrainian drones over the Russian regions of Belgorod, Kursk and Kaluga.

Ukraine typically does not comment on who is behind attacks on Russian territory.

In pictures: Civilians receive humanitarian aid in Donetsk region

The crisis in Ukraine has left many civilians in the east with limited resources.

As the territory continues to face the brunt of the war, yesterday, local residents in the Donetsk region received a humanitarian aid delivered by volunteers.

Russia is currently attempting to storm Avdiivka, a heavily defended city that stands in the way of Moscow’s ambition of securing control of the entire Donetsk region.

According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, this operation is Moscow’s “most significant offensive operation” in Ukraine since the start of the year.

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

US journalist detained in Russia for ‘failing to register as foreign agent’

A US-Russian journalist has been detained in Russia and charged for failing to register as a foreign agent while visiting Russia for a family emergency, her employer has said.

Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor with Radio Free Europe/RadioLiberty’s Tatar-Bashkir Service who holds both US and Russian passports, travelled to Russia on 20 May for a family emergency.

As Ms Kurmasheva sought to leave Russia at the end of that trip, she was detained and her passports were confiscated as she awaited her return flight.

The term “foreign agent” is used in Russia to label organisations, journalists, activists and writers deemed to be engaging in political activity with foreign support.

“Alsu is a highly respected colleague, devoted wife, and dedicated mother to two children,” said RFE/RL acting president Jeffrey Gedmin.

“She needs to be released so she can return to her family immediately.”

Russia’s Tatar-Inform news agency said Ms Kurmasheva had been gathering information on Russia’s military activity. She could face up to five years in prison, according to RFE/RL.

Over the course of the war, Russia has tightened its control over  he media, forcing the closure of leading independent news outlets and designating many journalists and publications as “foreign agents”.

Ms Kurmasheva is the second US journalist to be held by Russia in recent months. Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has been detained in the country since March this year

Crimean bridge ‘a security burden’ for Russia

The Crimean bridge is “now almost certainly a significant security burden” for Russia requiring multi-domain protection, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reports this morning.

In its latest update, the ministry states that while Russian deputy prime minister Marat Khusnullin declared that damage from Ukraine’s July strike on the Crimean bridge had been repaired, “use of the bridge remains restricted”.

The bridge is the only direct link between the transport network of Russia and the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula and has come under repeated attacks throughout the war.

While the bridge remains a vital link in sustaining Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its forces in southern Ukraine, “it is now almost certainly a significant security burden requiring multi-domain protection”, the ministry adds.

This includes the use of air defence systems and crews who would otherwise be deployed elsewhere.

“Russian security forces confidence in their ability to protect this large and vulnerable structure will continue to be threatened by the ingenuity of Ukraine’s military and security services,” the report adds.

What happened to the Crimean bridge in July?

On 17 July this year, an explosion on the bridge left it damaged.

Russia claimed the attack was carried out by Ukrainian sea drones but Ukraine has not confirmed this.

Two people were killed following the explosion.

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Xi Jinping ‘willing to expand cooperation with Putin’

China is willing to expand trilateral cooperation with Russia and Mongolia, President Xi Jinping has said.

The Chinese leader told visiting Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh today that China would help Mongolia revitalise its economy and open up new channels of connectivity between the two countries and Russia.

Chinese state media has cited Mr Xi saying this during his meeting with Mr Khurelsukh.

For context: Vladimir Putin has been on a visit to Beijing this week for talks.

The talks come as concerns grow about possible conflicts with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s rising threats against Taiwan.

Just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, Mr Putin and Mr Xi met in Beijing and signed an agreement pledging a “no-limits” relationship.

And China’s attempts to present itself as a neutral peace broker in Russia’s war on Ukraine have been widely dismissed by the international community. 

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Good morning – here’s your early rundown

It’s approaching 9.30am in Ukraine and we’re back to bring you the latest on the crisis.

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin said US deliveries of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine were a “mistake”.

A Russia blogger also said Ukrainian forces had made a “breakthrough” across the River Dnipro.

Here are some of the other key things that have happened over the last 24 hours:

  • Russia’s Black Sea fleet repelled an aerial attack, according to the governor of Sevastopol;
  • Pictures emerged of Vladimir Putin being accompanied by Russian officers carrying the so-called nuclear briefcase during his trip in Beijing;
  • Two people were killed and at least five wounded after a Russian air attack destroyed an apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia;
  • Russia’s foreign minister said Moscow highly appreciated North Korea’s “principled, unequivocal support for Russia’s actions” in Ukraine during a visit there.

The map below shows the latest territorial picture in Ukraine…

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Almost 5,000 Ukrainian households who fled to UK facing homelessness

Thousands of Ukrainians who came to the UK under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme are homeless or at risk of homelessness, a report has found.

The National Audit Office, which has conducted a report into the scheme, said 4,890 households (8% of the total that had arrived in England at the time) were assessed as such by a local authority.

Even this “likely understates the true picture” as about a third of local authorities did not provide data and the risk of homelessness is “likely to increase”, the NAO said.

Exact data was not given on the number of Ukrainians who have become homeless.

“Local authorities have taken a range of actions to protect people from becoming homeless, including sponsor rematching and support to move into rented accommodation, and many will have been provided temporary accommodation in the interim,” the report said.

Russian Black Sea fleet repels aerial attack, governor says

Russia’s Black Sea fleet repelled an aerial attack today, according to the governor of Sevastopol, the fleet’s home on the Crimean peninsula.

“Rescuers have already left for the scene,” Mikhail
Razvozhayev said on Telegram.

“Information about infrastructure damage is being clarified.”

The Black Sea Fleet (BSF) has around 30 warships and is primarily based in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea.

Despite not having a navy itself, Ukraine has managed to carry out a series of successful attacks including strikes on Russia’s Black Sea navy HQ in Sevastopol in September and its 612ft flagship Moskva last April.

In pictures: Cathedral and village homes wrecked in Russian strikes

At least seven civilians have been killed in Russian attacks overnight and throughout the day, Ukrainian officials have said.

Four were killed in a morning missile strike on a residential building in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, and a 31-year-old woman was killed in an attack on the village of Obukhivka in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk.

A man and a woman were also killed in an overnight attack on the southern region of Kherson, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Telegram.

Officials in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, said the local power grid was damaged in a Russian air strike and that outages were possible. 

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Moscow thanks North Korea for ‘unequivocal support’ after Pyongyang ‘sends weapons’

Russia’s foreign minister has said Moscow highly appreciates North Korea’s “principled, unequivocal support for Russia’s actions” in Ukraine.

Sergei Lavrov is visiting the hermit kingdom days after the US said Pyongyang had transferred munitions to Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

Shortly after arriving Mr Lavrov said his visit was an opportunity to discuss implementing the agreements Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed when they met at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome last month, according to Russian state news agency Tass. On Friday the White House said North Korea has delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia.

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Will aid to Ukraine wither outside the spotlight?

With the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza captivating people around the world, people in Kyiv are beginning to worry.

Some are beginning to ask: will aid to Ukraine wither outside the spotlight?

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been increasingly vocal in his support for Israel in recent days, but he has also been open about his fears for his own people who face rocket attacks of their own.

The US says it can “certainly” afford to support wars on two fronts, and Germany has vowed to do “everything we can” to ensure support for Ukraine does not crumble.

But is an impact on the flow of aid inevitable all the same?

Google’s Russian subsidiary recognised as bankrupt

Google’s Russian subsidiary has been recognised as bankrupt by a court in Moscow, the RIA news agency has reported.

Alphabet Inc’s Russian unit filed for bankruptcy in summer last year after authorities seized its bank account, making it impossible to pay staff and vendors.

Free services including search and YouTube have continued operating.

Moscow has repeatedly clashed with foreign tech companies over content, censorship, data and local representation – a bristling that intensified after Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine in February last year.

Google’s Russian subsidiary has been under pressure for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal and for restricting access to some Russian media on YouTube, though while the Kremlin has banned platforms including Facebook and Twitter, it has stopped short of blocking access to Google’s services.

Your questions answered: Will Abrams tanks make a difference?
Michael & Pedro B

What difference will Abrams tanks make in Ukraine? How will they be integrated with other tanks? Is it better to form separate divisions or is it ok to mix them with Leopards, Leclercs and Challengers?

Military analyst Sean Bell says: I will aim to address both of these questions in this one answer.

In the first phase of the Ukraine conflict, Russia launched waves of attacks supported by their tanks.

The early consignments of Western military support focused on anti-tank weapons such as NLAWS, which proved very effective at destroying Russian tanks.

Indeed, according to Oryx (which records only losses it can confirm) 2,082 Russian tanks have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured since the start of the war last February.

At one stage, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the biggest donor of tanks to Ukraine was Russia as so many were being abandoned by Russian forces on the battlefield and subsequently repaired and sent back into battle – for the Ukrainians.

Although Russia might have hoped to employ its new, state-of-the-art tank – the T-14 Armata – in the conflict, the project has been plagued with difficulties.

The Kremlin initially planned for 2,300 of the tanks to arrive between 2015 and 2020, but in December 2021, the Russian conglomerate Rostec said production of around 40 tanks had only just started, and that they were anticipated for delivery after 2023, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Having lost a significant proportion of its most modern T-72 and T-80 tanks in the early stages of the war, Russia has been obliged to field older tanks taken from long-term storage.

The T-62 and T-64 tanks are still capable, but as they are around 60 years old, they lack much of the technology – such as weapon aiming or sighting systems – available in modern tanks.

So, although donated Western tanks will not arrive in Ukraine in significant volumes – current expectation is that around 300 tanks will have been donated by the year’s end – the technology far exceeds that available to Russian forces.

Not only can modern Western tanks take a great deal more punishment than old Russian armour, but they can also target accurately while on the move, day or night, and with specialist armour-piercing rounds.

The Ukrainian tank crews are reported to be delighted with their improved survivability when operating Western tanks.

This improves trust and confidence in the donated armour, and therefore dramatically improves operational capability.

However, Western tanks will probably come into their own once the Ukrainians break through the Russian layered defences on the frontline and gain momentum in severing the land bridge between the Donbas and Crimea.

Until then, it is reported that the Ukrainians are using the tanks to target accurately Russian armour and defensive emplacements beyond the reach of the Russian tanks.

As to the tactical deployment of the tanks, I suspect that will depend on the circumstances of their employment.

Notwithstanding Western tactics and doctrine, Ukraine has proven very effective at adopting a flexible, innovative and agile approach to warfare, but it will be fascinating to read all about this episode of the war once the conflict is over.

Russia ‘facing new missile threat and will be forced to adapt again’

The Russian military is facing a new threat in the form of US-made ATACMS missiles and will be forced to adapt, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

Ukraine claimed to have used the long-range missiles to destroy nine Russian helicopters, as well as ammunition, an air defence system and other assets at two airfields in Russian-occupied regions.

Moscow “has consistently shown it can adapt to new Ukrainian strike capabilities”, the US-based thinktank said in its latest analysis.

“Russian milbloggers noted that Russian forces adapted their airfields to Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities but that ATACMS are a new missile threat which will similarly force the Russian command to adapt once again,” it said.

“The Russian military has consistently shown it can adapt to new Ukrainian strike capabilities – but only after suffering initial and pronounced losses from Ukrainian capabilities Russian commanders realistically should have prepared for.”

In its analysis, it added that ATACMS strikes “will likely prompt the Russian command to disperse aviation assets and withdraw some aircraft to airfields further from the frontline”.

Watch: Aftermath of Zaporizhzhia attack

This footage shows the aftermath of the Russian attack on Zaporizhzhia, which killed two civilians, according to Ukrainian officials.

“The evil state continues to use terror and wage war on civilians. Russian terror must be defeated,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.

A Moscow-installed official in part of the Zaporizhzhia region controlled by Russia since soon after last year’s invasion blamed the strikes on Ukrainian forces.

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Russia’s foreign minister arrives in North Korea

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in North Korea, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

It is the latest in a flurry of diplomatic activity between the two countries, after Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea in July and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travelled to Russia last month.

Earlier in the week Mr Lavrov accompanied Vladimir Putin on a visit to Beijing – he last visited North Korea in 2018.

During his two-day visit Mr Lavrov is expected to meet North Korean foreign minister Choe Son Hui, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said.

Mr Putin also accepted an invitation from Mr Kim to visit North Korea, but the timing has not been announced.

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

In pictures: Putin accompanied by Russian nuclear briefcase

These pictures show Vladimir Putin in Beijing accompanied by Russian officers carrying the so-called nuclear briefcase that can be used to order a nuclear strike.

After a meeting with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, Mr Putin was seen walking to another meeting surrounded by security and followed by two Russian naval officials in uniform each carrying a briefcase.

Russia’s nuclear briefcase, known as the “Cheget” after Mount Cheget in the Caucasus Mountains, is traditionally carried by a naval officer and is with the president at all times, but is rarely filmed or photographed.

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Ukraine war latest: Xi Jinping 'willing to expand cooperation with Putin'; Crimean bridge 'a security burden' for Russia

Lower house of Russian parliament votes to revoke ratification of global nuclear test ban

The lower house of Russia’s parliament has given its final approval to a bill revoking the ratification of a global nuclear test ban treaty.

Moscow described the move as putting it on par with the United States.

State Duma politicians voted unanimously to revoke the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the third and final reading.

The bill will now go to the upper house, the Federation Council, which will consider it next week – though officials there have already said they will support it.

The legislation was introduced to parliament following a statement from Vladimir Putin, who warned earlier this month Moscow could revoke its 2000 decision to ratify the treaty to “mirror” the stand taken by the US, which has signed but not ratified the nuclear test ban.

The treaty, adopted in 1996, bans all nuclear explosions anywhere in the world, though it has never fully entered into force.

In addition to the US, it is yet to be ratified by China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran and Egypt.

There are widespread concerns Russia could resume nuclear tests to try to discourage the West from offering military support to Ukraine, but Mr Putin has said while some experts have talked about the need to conduct nuclear tests, he has not yet formed an opinion on the issue.

Last week Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow will continue to respect the ban and will only resume nuclear tests if Washington does so first.

Putin says long-range US missiles in Ukraine are a ‘mistake’

Vladimir Putin has said US deliveries of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine were a “mistake”.

Speaking at a televised news conference in Beijing, the Russian president said the missiles would create additional threats to Russian forces, but they would not significantly change the situation on the front.

On Monday, we brought you the news that Ukraine has used the missiles, according to President Zelenskyy.

While some versions of the missiles have a range of 180 miles, the ones sent to Ukraine have a shorter range and carry cluster munitions, which when fired, open in the air, releasing hundreds of bomblets, rather than a single warhead.

Putin on talks to end the war

Speaking after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr Putin said he welcomed what he saw as a less hawkish Western position on Ukraine and agreed with statements about the need to solve the conflict via talks.

He said in order for such talks to happen, Ukraine needed to scrap a decree banning any negotiations with Moscow.