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Kyiv suffers largest ever drone attack by Russia leaving five wounded

Vladimir Putin has issued a stark warning to the west over reports Ukraine may receive seized Russian assets.

The Kremlin on Friday threatened “serious consequences” for Europe and the US if Russian assets held abroad are given to aid the Ukrainian budget and war effort. These might include tit-for-tat financial seizures or even a break in diplomatic relations.

It comes as Ukraine’s air force chiefs said they had shot down three Russian Su-34 fighter bombers over the south of the country, in what would be a blow to Putin. Su-34 aircraft, which are armed with guided bombs and Kh-59 missiles, can carry out long-distance attacks.

Earlier, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky cited a report by HUR, the country’s military intelligence agency, that suggested a noticeable slowdown in Russia’s military-industrial complex, almost 22 months after Moscow’s full-scale invasion.

It comes as the Dutch government announced it is preparing to give 18 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, in a boost for the embattled nation that is growing increasingly anxious about aid from its Western allies.

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Would-be challenger Duntsova barred from running against Putin in election

Former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova was barred on Saturday from running against President Vladimir Putin in an election next March because of alleged mistakes in her application to register as a candidate.

Video from a meeting of the central electoral commission showed members voting unanimously to reject her candidacy.

The head of the commission, Ella Pamfilova, was then shown offering words of consolation to Duntsova. “You are a young woman, you have everything ahead of you. Any minus can always be turned into a plus. Any experience is still an experience,” Pamfilova said.

Screenshots posted by Duntsova’s campaign channel showed documents that it said the commission had highlighted as lacking proper signatures.

The move came only three days after Duntsova, 40, had presented documents to the commission in support of her bid. She had planned to run on a platform of ending the war in Ukraine and freeing political prisoners. The immediate torpedoing of her campaign will be seized on by Putin’s critics as evidence that no one with genuine opposition views will be allowed to stand against him in the first presidential election since he launched the war in Ukraine. They see it as a fake process with only one possible outcome.

The Kremlin says Putin will win because he enjoys genuine support across society, with opinion poll ratings of around 80 per cent.

When Duntsova said last month that she wanted to stand, commentators had variously described her as crazy, brave, or part of a Kremlin-scripted plan to create the appearance of competition.

“Any sane person taking this step would be afraid – but fear must not win,” she told Reuters in an interview in November.

Former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova was barred on Saturday from running against President Vladimir Putin in an election next March because of alleged mistakes in her application to register as a candidate

(AP)

Tara Cobham23 December 2023 11:03

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan backs cars for Ukraine scheme in apparent U-turn

The Mayor of London has pledged his support to send 4x4s and other vehicles to Ukraine that would otherwise be scrapped under the Ulez scheme.

In an apparent U-turn, Sadiq Khan has asked the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, to enable Londoners, and others across the country, to donate suitable vehicles to Ukraine through scrappage schemes.

The mayor had previously made it clear he did not believe altering the Ulez scheme for exporting vehicles would be possible under current laws.

Tara Cobham23 December 2023 10:09

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Ukraine claims to down three Russian fighter-bomber jets

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and military officials said the country’s forces shot down three Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft on Friday on the southern front, hailing it as a success in the 22-month-old war.

The Russian military made no mention of the incident. But Russian bloggers acknowledged the loss, and analysts suggested US-supplied Patriot missiles had probably been used.

Reuters could not independently confirm the reports.

“Today at noon in the southern sector — minus three Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers!” Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Air Force spokesperson Yuri Ihnat described it on national television as a “brilliantly planned operation.” “There haven’t been Su-34s for some time in our positive statistics,” he said, citing the model as one of Russia’s most modern aircraft for bombing and other assaults.

Zelenskiy in his nightly video address praised the Odesa region anti-aircraft unit for downing the planes in Kherson region.

Eurasia Daily, a Russia-based journal, said the Ukrainian account was plausible. Kyiv could have launched Patriot missiles, which have a range of up to 160 km (100 miles) against high-altitude targets, from the western side of the Dnipro River, it said.

A Ukrainian serviceman looks at the debris of Russian fighter-bomber aircraft Su-34 in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ukraine in March last year

(EPA)

Tara Cobham23 December 2023 09:15

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Putin issues ‘serious’ warning to west

Vladimir Putin has issued a “serious” warning to the west.

The Kremlin on Friday threatened “serious consequences” for Europe and the US if Russian assets held abroad are given to aid the Ukrainian budget and war effort. These might include tit-for-tat financial seizures or even a break in diplomatic relations.

A spokesperson for the Russian President told reporters that if central bank assets, believed to be worth more than $300bn (£236bn), which were frozen after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are now seized, “Russia will never leave those who do it alone”.

Tara Cobham23 December 2023 08:29

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Putin ally ‘responsible’ for Wagner chief assassination, according to reports

Vladimir Putin’s close ally Nikolai Patrushev has been named by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as the person “responsible” for the assassination of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to a US war think wank.

Quoting Western intelligence officials and former Russian intelligence sources, the newspaper named the Secretary of the Russian Security Council as the person who, with the Russian President’s permission, gave the order to ”dispose” of Prigozhin in early August 2023 by planting an explosive on the wing of Prigozhin’s jet, reported the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

ISW said it “had originally assessed on 23 August that Russian forces might have shot down Prigozhin’s jet on Putin’s orders, but evidence for that assessment was circumstantial, and ISW has no reason to doubt that the sources of the WSJ report are more reliable”.

It added that Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov accused the WSJ of putting forward a ”pulp fiction” conspiracy theory about Prigozhin’s death.

Tara Cobham23 December 2023 07:42

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Anti-war ex-journalist enters race against Putin in Russian election

Jane Dalton23 December 2023 05:00

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Investigators ‘uncover fraud’ in arms procurement

Ukraine’s security service and the defence ministry have said they have uncovered a scheme for fraudulent purchase of artillery shells that involved embezzlement of the equivalent of nearly $40 million.

Corruption in Ukraine has become an even more crucial issue as Kyiv proceeds with its application to join the European Union.

A statement issued by the SBU security service said the corrupt scheme focused on contracts to procure artillery shells.

A contract to secure the shells at higher than market prices had been abandoned by the defence ministry’s recently created procurement agency and a new deal struck eliminating intermediaries and significantly reducing the price.

But a senior ministry official, it said, had extended the previous contract and funds totalling nearly 1.5 billion hryvnias were deposited in accounts belonging to the intermediary firms.

The official, the main suspect in the case, was removed from his duties, legal proceedings have been launched against him and attempts are under way to recover the money.

Jane Dalton23 December 2023 03:30

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Russian mines blown up

The Ukrainian defence ministry has posted footage of what it says is a Russian anti-tank-mines stockpile being blown up.

Jane Dalton23 December 2023 02:00

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Kiss for a serviceman

Ukrainian serviceman Vyacheslav greets his wife Viktoria who is visiting him during a short Christmas break from his frontline duty, at the station in Kramatorsk

(REUTERS)

Jane Dalton22 December 2023 23:59

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Recap: Anger toward West swells across Africa

Jane Dalton22 December 2023 22:15

#Russia #issues #warning #west #Ukraine #shoots #bombers

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