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Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine first lady urges UK to support special tribunal for Russian war crimes – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-11-29

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7.00pm GMT

Closing summary

It is 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • Ukraine’s supplies of spare parts for its battered electricity grid are running out amid sustained Russian bombing. European companies are being asked to urgently donate surplus kit to help the country get through the winter, after the latest step in Russian bombings targeting power plants and substations resulted in power cuts lasting 48 hours or more across the country.

  • Air raid alerts were issued across all Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday after warnings by officials that Russia was preparing a new wave of missile attacks. There were no immediate reports of any new strikes, and Kyiv sounded the all clear after about 10 minutes of air raid warnings.

  • Ukraine’s state energy operator, Ukrenerg o, has said it is still struggling to restore full power nearly a week after Russian missile strikes damaged energy facilities across the country. The power deficit was running at 30% as off 11am local time (09:00 GMT) on Tuesday, Ukrenergo said in a statement, a slight rise from yesterday after emergency shutdowns at several power plants and an increase in consumption as winter sets in.

  • The jailed Belarusian senior opposition leader, Maria Kolesnikava, has been taken to the intensive care of a hospital in the city of Gomel, according to reports. Belarusian opposition politician, Viktor Babariko, posted to Telegram that Kolesnikova, one of the most prominent opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko, was taken to hospital on Monday for unknown reasons.

  • Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Moscow had been left with “no other choice” but to cancel nuclear weapons talks with the US, state-run news agencies reported. He said it was unlikely any meeting would take place this year. Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, accused the US of “the highest level of toxicity and hostility” and of “a pathological desire to harm our country”.

  • Ukraine has detained a deputy head of newly liberated Kherson’s city council on suspicion of aiding and abetting Russian occupation forces, Ukraine’s state prosecutor has said. The official, who was not named in the statement, cooperated with the occupation authorities and helped with the functioning of public services under the Russians, according to the prosecutor.

  • Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said the alliance will not pull back in its support for Ukraine, calling on partners to pledge more winter aid for Kyiv as it braces itself for more cold and darkness due to Russian attacks on infrastructure. Nato foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest are focusing on ramping up military assistance for Ukraine such as air defence systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s wife has called for Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and the country’s leaders to be put on trial in a specially created war crimes court. Olena Zelenska called for British support in creating a Nuremberg-style tribunal for Russian leadership for ordering the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the bloodshed that followed it.

  • The G7 group has agreed to set up a network to coordinate investigations into war crimes, as part of a push to prosecute suspected atrocities in Ukraine. In a joint declaration, G7 justice ministers said member countries would ensure there is a central national contact point in each state for the prosecution of international crimes.

  • Pope Francis has sparked fury in Russia over an interview in which he suggested that Chechen and Buryat members of its armed forces showed more cruelty in Ukraine than ethnic Russian soldiers. He said soldiers from Buryatia, where Buddhism is a major religion, and the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, were “the cruellest” while fighting in Ukraine.

  • Germany’s justice minister, Marco Buschmann, said his country contributed to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine by “adhering” to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, despite Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Buschmann also said Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure constituted a “terrible war crime”, adding that he was “certain that at the end, we will see war crimes cases at the International Criminal Court against senior Russian leadership too”.

  • The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has confirmed that a Zambian national who died in Ukraine had been fighting for his group. Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda , 23, “died a hero” fighting with Russian forces, Prigozhin said on Telegram. The admission by Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, comes two weeks after Zambia demanded an urgent explanation from Moscow over the death of its citizen.

  • China’s president, Xi Jinping, has said Beijing is ready to “forge a closer partnership” with Moscow to “maintain international energy security”. “ China is willing to work with Russia to forge a closer energy partnership, promote clean and green energy development and jointly maintain international energy security and the stability of industry supply chains,” Xi was cited by state-owned broadcaster CCTV as writing.

• This post, and several others in this liveblog, were amended on 30 November 2022 to correct the spelling of Ukraine’s state energy operator, Ukrenergo.

Updated at 9.13am GMT

6.44pm GMT

Ukrainian refugees and their hosts have delivered a petition to Downing Street signed by more than 4,500 people calling on the government to provide housing support for those struggling or unable to find independent accommodation.

Krish Kandiah, the founder of Sanctuary Foundation , the charity behind the petition, was accompanied by Ukrainian refugees including nine-year-old Danylo from Kyiv, who knocked on 10 Downing Street to deliver the petition on Tuesday.

The petition comes as more than 100,000 people have become guests of British families under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. But as many six-month hosting arrangements come to an end, Ukrainians are struggling to find accommodation in the social housing and private rental sectors, a situation compounded by the cost of living crisis.

“We can’t say to the Ukrainian government that we’re standing with them if we’re not adequately caring for women and children who are here,” said Kandiah, who is one of many hosts who together have provided accommodation for more than 10,000 refugees, calling on the government to “meet the compassion of the public” with practical solutions.

The petition asks the government for clarity on the rematching and rehosting process, to make local authorities guarantors for rental properties and consider increasing the monthly “thank you” payment given to hosts, among other considerations.

Read the full story here:

Related: Ukrainian refugees and hosts petition UK government for housing support

6.30pm GMT

Here’s more from Germany’s justice minister, Marco Buschmann, who said his country contributed to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine by “adhering” to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Speaking during talks with his G7 counterparts, Buschmann said Germany stood united and in support of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

He added that with today’s perspective, Berlin’s adherence to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connecting Russia and Germany, despite Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, contributed to the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

6.08pm GMT

Ukraine's first lady calls appeals to UK to support Nuremberg-style tribunal for Russian war crimes

Volodymyr Zelenskiy ’s wife called for Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and the country’s leaders to be put on trial in a specially created war crimes court for ordering the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the bloodshed that followed it.

Olena Zelenska was visiting the UK parliament where she gave a speech to a private audience that included former prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer , in which she called for British support in creating a Nuremberg-style tribunal.

“We need to start the special tribunal against the crime of aggression of Russia against Ukraine, which will enhance the work of the ICC [International Criminal Court] and not weaken it,” Zelenska said.

We need to unite the world community just as it happened in January 1942 to support the special tribunal against the aggression of Russia against Ukraine. I’m asking you a small favour to become the world leader in the justice efforts.

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First lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska during the opening of a Russian war crimes exhibition at Portcullis House, London. Photograph: James Manning/PA

The first lady also visited a special photographic exhibition set up in parliament documenting Russian war crimes against civilians, supported by the Pinchuk Foundation, which is designed to rally support among British parliamentarians to support the creation of an international tribunal, which would require the support of the UN and several key states.

Some of the pictures in the exhibition are graphic, although carefully screened from passing viewers. “Every torturer in this war has his face too I really want you to look at those photographs,” Zelenska said. “Then your abstract idea of the war in Ukraine will become real.”

Bjorn Geldhof , the curator of the exhibition, which will run in parliament for 10 days, said the exhibition was intended to be graphic and uncompromising. He said:

People need to start thinking seriously about how to bring these war criminals to justice.

Updated at 6.12pm GMT

5.56pm GMT

Russia accuses US of ‘toxicity and hostility’ after pulling out of nuclear arms talks

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, has accused the US of “the highest level of toxicity and hostility” and of “a pathological desire to harm our country”.

Her comments came after Russia pulled out of nuclear arms talks with US officials that were due to take place in Cairo this week.

Writing on Telegram, Zakharova said Moscow’s decision to postpone the talks had been driven by the poor state of relations with Washington.

She wrote:

In all areas, we note the highest level of toxicity and hostility from Washington. As part of the all-out hybrid war unleashed against us, almost every US step towards Russia is subject to a pathological desire to harm our country wherever possible.

The US state department has said it is “ready to reschedule at the earliest possible date as resuming inspections is a priority for sustaining the treaty as an instrument of stability”.

But Zakharova accused Washington of trying to alter the balance of forces under the treaty in a “wholly illegitimate” way by converting or renaming weapons to take them outside the scope of the agreement. She did not provide examples or evidence.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov , was cited by state-owned media as saying that Moscow had “no choice” but to postpone the meeting.

State news agency Tass quoted him as saying:

We were faced with a situation where our American colleagues in a number of areas demonstrated not just an unwillingness to perceive our signals and take into account our priorities but acted in the opposite direction.

He added:

Of course, there is an effect of what is happening in Ukraine and around it.

Updated at 6.13pm GMT

5.43pm GMT

Germany’s justice minister, Marco Buschmann, said Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure constituted a “terrible war crime”.

Moscow was launching a “systematic destruction of the heating and electricity supply” in Ukraine as winter sets in, Buschmann told reporters after hosting talks with his G7 counterparts.

“Many people will fall victim to the winter”, he said, adding:

War criminals should not and must not be allowed to feel safe anywhere.

He added that he was “certain that at the end, we will see war crimes cases at the International Criminal Court against senior Russian leadership too”.

5.23pm GMT

Jailed Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova ‘in intensive care’

The jailed Belarusian senior opposition leader , Maria Kolesnikava, has been taken to the intensive care of a hospital in the city of Gomel, according to reports.

Belarusian opposition politician, Viktor Babariko, posted to Telegram that Kolesnikova, one of the most prominent opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko, was taken to hospital yesterday for unknown reasons.

The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, wrote on Telegram:

Awful news. Our dear Masha, we all hope that you are going to be okay!

Kolesnikova was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison, after being charged with conspiracy to seize power, calling for action to damage national security, and calling for actions damaging national security using media and the internet.

She was one of three women who in 2020 united to lead an uprising in which tens of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets in the largest protests in the country’s modern history.

She was arrested and taken to the border, where she was told to leave the country. Instead, she reportedly ripped up her passport, risking prison rather than going into exile.

Updated at 5.51pm GMT

5.02pm GMT

Here are some of the latest images we have received from the frontline in Kherson, southern Ukraine.

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A soldier in front of the Dnipro golf course gives the finger of honour like the soldier who gave the finger of honour to a Russian military ship on Snake Island last April. Photograph: Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium Agency/ZUMA/REX/Shutterstock
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A Ukrainian soldier guards the banks of the Dnipro in the Kherson region. Photograph: Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium Agency/ZUMA/REX/Shutterstock

Updated at 5.14pm GMT

4.11pm GMT

Nato powers must take the political decision to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine to give them a military edge against invading Russian forces during the winter months, Lithuania’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“I’ve talked to a number of military experts and the answer I’m hearing is that if we provided tanks by this winter, let’s say January, it could make a difference,” Reuters reports Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters during a Nato foreign ministers’ gathering in Bucharest, a day after a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv with several other ministers.

He said Ukrainian authorities had told him that they had “pilots” able to operate Nato battle tanks, suggesting some had already undergone commensurate training on alliance territory.

“It’s a political decision because from a military perspective during the winter when the frontline is stabilising, if an additional jolt is needed, then this could be achieved by providing extra battle tanks,” he said.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked for Nato’s main arms manufacturers to supply them with state-of-the-art tanks as they look to consolidate gains it has made in counter-offensives in recent months, notably in the embattled eastern Donbas region.

4.03pm GMT

Reuters has a quick snap that US president Joe Biden said aid to Ukraine and funding to continue the fight against Covid are his priorities as he convened a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday to discuss legislative actions for the remainder of the year.

Updated at 4.13pm GMT

4.00pm GMT

G7 agrees to set up network to coordinate investigations into war crimes in Ukraine

The G7 group agreed on Tuesday to set up a network to coordinate investigations into war crimes, as part of a push to prosecute suspected atrocities in Ukraine.

“Judicial examination of the atrocities committed in Ukraine will take years, perhaps even decades. But we will be well prepared * and we will persist for as long as it takes,” German justice minister Marco Buschmann said in a statement, Reuters reports.

It came after a meeting of G7 justice ministers in Berlin, also attended by special prosecutors of the international criminal court, Germany’s federal prosecutor and Ukrainian justice minister Denys Maliuska .

In a joint declaration, the ministers said G7 countries would ensure there is a central national contact point in each state for the prosecution of international crimes.

Buschmann told reporters this would ensure that information on evidence and legal requirements can be shared among states and international organisations.

He added that statements from victims of sexual assault should be recorded in such a way that is admissible in court so that victims would only have to give their statement once.

3.55pm GMT

Summary of the day so far

It’s almost 6pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • Air raid alerts were issued across all Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday after warnings by officials that Russia was preparing a new wave of missile attacks. There were no immediate reports of any new strikes, and Kyiv sounded the all clear after about 10 minutes of air raid warnings.

  • Ukraine’s state energy operator, Ukrenegro, has said it is still struggling to restore full power nearly a week after Russian missile strikes damaged energy facilities across the country. The power deficit was running at 30% as off 11am local time (09:00 GMT) on Tuesday, Ukrenegro said in a statement, a slight rise from yesterday after emergency shutdowns at several power plants and an increase in consumption as winter sets in.

  • Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Moscow had been left with “no other choice” but to cancel nuclear weapons talks with the US, state-run news agencies reported. He said it was unlikely any meeting would take place this year.

  • Ukraine has detained a deputy head of newly liberated Kherson’s city council on suspicion of aiding and abetting Russian occupation forces, Ukraine’s state prosecutor has said. The official, who was not named in the statement, cooperated with the occupation authorities and helped with the functioning of public services under the Russians, according to the prosecutor.

  • Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said the alliance will not pull back in its support for Ukraine, calling on partners to pledge more winter aid for Kyiv as it braces itself for more cold and darkness due to Russian attacks on infrastructure. Nato foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest are focusing on ramping up military assistance for Ukraine such as air defence systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid.

  • Pope Francis has sparked fury in Russia over an interview in which he suggested that Chechen and Buryat members of its armed forces showed more cruelty in Ukraine than ethnic Russian soldiers. He said soldiers from Buryatia, where Buddhism is a major religion, and the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, were “the cruellest” while fighting in Ukraine.

  • The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has confirmed that a Zambian national who died in Ukraine had been fighting for his group. Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda , 23, “died a hero” fighting with Russian forces, Prigozhin said on Telegram. The admission by Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, comes two weeks after Zambia demanded an urgent explanation from Moscow over the death of its citizen.

  • China’s president, Xi Jinping, has said Beijing is ready to “forge a closer partnership” with Moscow to “maintain international energy security”. “ China is willing to work with Russia to forge a closer energy partnership, promote clean and green energy development and jointly maintain international energy security and the stability of industry supply chains,” Xi was cited by state-owned broadcaster CCTV as writing.

3.43pm GMT

Russians are trying to “turn into horror” Ukraine’s days and nights with mass missile and drone attacks, Zelenska says.

More than 20 million Ukrainians were left without electricity, water and heat as a result of Russian missile strikes, she says, some for more than 30 hours.

Ukraine’s first lady says Russia has used “systematic violence” in many occupied towns and villages in Ukraine.

Thousands of crimes by Russian forces have been identified, she says, including sexual violence. She says:

The youngest girl who was raped by the Russian occupiers was four years old. The oldest survivor was 85. These are the victims.

3.38pm GMT

Ukraine's first lady addresses UK parliament: 'I come to you for justice'

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, is addressing British MPs and peers in Westminster now. She begins by comparing the experience of Ukrainians with that of the British during the Blitz in world war two.

She says the British survived the air raids, which were “identical to those that Russia uses now to put us on our knees”.

We’re hearing sirens every day. They are identical to those which were heard by British generations.

You did not surrender and we will not surrender. But victory is not the only thing we need. We need justice. I come to you for justice.

Updated at 3.45pm GMT

3.15pm GMT

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, is expected to address British MPs and peers in parliament shortly.

The wife of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is in London to raise awareness of violence against women and girls in conflict, as well as to appeal to Britain and the west to continue delivering vital aid to Ukraine.

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Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska arrives at Downing Street to meet Akshata Murthy, wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on Monday. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Updated at 3.21pm GMT

2.52pm GMT

Ukraine detains Kherson official suspected of aiding Russian occupiers

Ukraine has detained a deputy head of newly liberated Kherson’s city council on suspicion of aiding and abetting Russian occupation forces that seized control of the city in March, Ukraine’s state prosecutor has said.

Reuters reported that the Kherson official, who was not named in the statement, cooperated with the occupation authorities and helped with the functioning of public services under the Russians, according to the prosecutor.

The official, who could not be reached for comment, faces up to 12 years in prison under the allegations if prosecuted and found guilty. The official was in custody, but could post bail, the prosecutor said.

Ukraine proclaimed the liberation of Kherson on 11 November after Russian forces who invaded Ukraine in February pulled out of the city in the south of the country and crossed to the other side of the Dnipro River.

Updated at 3.00pm GMT

2.41pm GMT

Pope Francis has sparked fury in Russia over an interview in which he suggested that non-Christian members of its armed forces showed more cruelty in Ukraine than ethnic Russian soldiers.

In an interview with the Catholic magazine America published Monday, the pope said that soldiers from the Buddhist region of Buryatia and the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic were “the cruellest” while fighting in Ukraine.

“Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on,” he said.

Russia has disproportionately relied on ethnic minorities to provide its main fighting force in Ukraine.

Related: ‘Racist’ interview with Pope Francis causes fury in Russia

2.15pm GMT

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov has said that the New START treat on nuclear arms control between Russia and the United States remained effective, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

That was despite a lack of mutual inspections and Russia’s last-minute decision to call off talks of a joint commission this week, Ryabkov added.

However, he also signalled to the United States that increasing US involvement in the Ukrainian conflict brings growing risks, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Ryabkov said there was no dialogue between Russia and the United States over Ukraine as the two sides had “radically different positions.”

1.46pm GMT

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has confirmed that a Zambian national who died in Ukraine had been fighting for his group.

The admission by Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, comes two weeks after Zambia demanded an urgent explanation from Moscow over the death of its citizen.

Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda , 23, “died a hero” fighting with Russian forces, Prigozhin said on Telegram.

He said:

Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda on September 22 was one of the first to break into enemy trenches, showing courage and bravery.

Nyirenda father said he had been serving a nine-year jail sentence on the outskirts of Moscow for a drug offence when he was “conscripted” to fight, Reuters reports. His family said it was unclear how he was recruited or by whom.

Prigozhin said he “remembered this guy well” and had met Nyirenda on his recruitment drive across Russia’s prisons. He claimed the Zambian willingly agreed to go and fight for Wagner.

Prigozhin and other Wagner representatives have toured Russian prisons offering amnesty in return for signing up to fight for Russia in Ukraine.

It has not been possible to independently verify the circumstances of Nyirenda’s death or Prigozhin’s assertion that he had joined Wagner voluntarily.

1.18pm GMT

Ukraine’s state energy operator, Ukrenegro, has said it is still struggling to restore full power nearly a week after Russian missile strikes damaged energy facilities across the country.

The power deficit was running at 30% as off 11am local time (09:00 GMT), Ukrenegro said in a statement.

The figure represents a slight rise from yesterday after emergency shutdowns at several power plants and an increase in consumption as winter sets in.

The statement by Ukrenegro added:

We emphasise that the general deficit in the energy system is a consequence of seven waves of Russian missile attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure.

Updated at 1.48pm GMT

1.06pm GMT

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Moscow had been left with “no other choice” but to cancel nuclear weapons talks with the US, state-run news agencies reported.

The US state department yesterday said Russia had “unilaterally postponed” talks about the “New START” nuclear arms reduction treaty, which had been due to start in Cairo this week.

Ryabkov claimed Washington had only wanted to discuss resuming inspections while Moscow had other priorities. He was quoted by the Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti as saying:

By and large, the situation was such that we had no other choice. The decision was made at the political level.

Ryabkov was also quoted by state-owned Tass news agency as adding:

The Americans focused exclusively on the topic of resuming inspections ... meanwhile the solution of other issues has been and remains a priority for us. We have repeatedly explained our position ... but we did not see the slightest desire on the American side to move in this direction.

He said it was unlikely any meeting would take place this year.

12.43pm GMT

Ukraine is considering expelling all Russian citizens who came to Crimea after it was annexed by Moscow in 2014, according to a representative of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In a piece for the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, Tamila Tasheva , Zelenskiy’s top representative for Crimea, wrote:

According to Ukrainian legislation, all foreigners who entered the peninsula after 2014, not through Ukrainian checkpoints or through them, but violated the terms of stay, live in the territory of Crimea illegally.

The decision is simple and does not contradict international law: the population that came illegally to the territory of the peninsula must leave the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol through voluntary departure or forced expulsion.

She added that current Ukrainian legislation also provides for the possibility of forced return of foreigners and stateless persons, although it cannot currently be applied to temporarily occupied territories.

Tasheva also wrote that Ukraine does not recognise passports that Russia “forcibly” distributed to residents of the Crimea peninsula under its occupation, adding:

All of them were and remain citizens of Ukraine.

Updated at 1.05pm GMT

12.22pm GMT

Russia appears to be planning big air attacks, says security analyst

Russian forces appear to be planning “some quite big air attacks” in Ukraine”, according to a security and defence analyst.

Prof Michael Clarke, the former director general of the Royal United Services Institute, told Sky News:

It looks as though Russians are preparing some big air attacks. There’s a lot of Twitter chat and satellite imagery at air bases … so there may be a lot of air activity.

He added that Moscow’s troops were making “some progress” in the key eastern Ukraine town of Bakhmut, and were “really digging in for winter”.

He said:

The Russians have been pounding away at Bakhmut for about four weeks and they’re trying to attack it from the east, the north, and it looks as though they’ve made some progress from the south of Bakhmut.

Updated at 12.51pm GMT

11.58am GMT

Cleverly: Putin 'trying to freeze Ukraine into submission'

The UK’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly , has said Russia is targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure to “freeze” its people into submission.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Bucharest, he said:

We have seen Vladimir Putin attempting to weaponise energy supplies right from the very start of this conflict.

This targeting of civilian infrastructure of energy infrastructure is obviously designed to try and freeze the Ukrainians into submission.

Updated at 12.33pm GMT

11.33am GMT

Beijing wants 'closer partnership' with Moscow on energy, says Xi

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has said Beijing is ready to “forge a closer partnership” with Moscow to “maintain international energy security”.

The Chinese leader was cited by state-owned broadcaster CCTV as writing, in a congratulatory letter to the Fourth China-Russia energy forum:

China is willing to work with Russia to forge a closer energy partnership, promote clean and green energy development and jointly maintain international energy security and the stability of industry supply chains.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to China’s President Xi Jinping in Samarkand on 16 September, 2022. Photograph: Sergei Bobylyov/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images

State-owned news agency Xinhua also cited him as saying that Russia and China had “strengthened communication and coordination” and had “demonstrated strong resilience of China-Russia energy cooperation and broad prospects of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era”.

Updated at 12.52pm GMT

11.15am GMT

Air raid alerts issued all over Ukraine amid warnings Russia preparing new strikes

Air raid alerts were issued across all Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, after warnings by officials that Russia was preparing a new wave of missile attacks.

There were no immediate reports of any new strikes, and Kyiv sounded the all clear after about 10 minutes of air raid warnings.

Christopher Miller from the Financial Times shared a screenshot of the air raid app in Kyiv:

Vitaliy Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, said:

Last time, the Russians also disguised the strike as a training flight...Let’s see.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, warned in his Sunday night address that Russian forces would launch new missile strikes on the country.

Zelenskiy said:

We understand that the terrorists are planing new strikes. We know this for a fact. And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down.

The Ukrainian leader said this week could well be difficult as the previous week, and that defence forces and citizens should be prepared to “get ready” to withstand the consequences of fresh strikes.

Hello everyone. It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here again, taking over the live blog from Tom Ambrose to bring you all the latest news from Ukraine. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

Updated at 11.53am GMT

10.55am GMT

Summary

The time in Kyiv is almost 1pm. Here is a round-up of the day’s headlines so far:

  • The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said the alliance will not pull back in its support for Ukraine, calling on partners to pledge more winter aid for Kyiv as it braces itself for more cold and darkness due to Russian attacks on infrastructure. Nato foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest are focusing on ramping up military assistance for Ukraine such as air defence systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid, Reuters reported.

  • The United States is expected to announce “substantial” financial aid to Ukraine on Tuesday to help it deal with the damage caused by Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, senior US officials said. The aid, which will be detailed by secretary of state Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a Nato meeting in the Romanian capital Bucharest, “is substantial and it is not the end”, one senior official told journalists Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.

  • Ukrainian authorities are investigating sites where torture allegedly took place in the city of Kherson. More than two weeks after the Russians retreated, investigators say five torture rooms have been found in the southern city and at least four more in the wider Kherson region. Ukrainians allege that they were confined, beaten, given electric shocks, interrogated and threatened with death, AP reported.

  • Russia’s envoy has expressed Moscow’s strong dissatisfaction to the Vatican following Pope Francis’ latest condemnation of the “cruelty” of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

  • Rocketing energy bills are forcing Hungary to shutter libraries, theatres, swimming pools and even its new football stadiums for winter, AFP reports. The state-of-the-art grounds – symbols of rightwing nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán’s 12 years in power – are among a long list of buildings no longer able to cope with rising energy prices in the central European country.

  • People should not forget the war in Ukraine this Christmas, the country’s first lady has said ahead of a speech to British MPs on Tuesday. Olena Zelenska is expected to address MPs and peers on Tuesday as she visits London, days after Rishi Sunak made his first visit as prime minister to Kyiv to meet Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

  • The pace of global shipping activity is set to lose steam next year as economic turmoil, conflict in Ukraine and the impact of the pandemic weaken the outlook for trade, UN agency Unctad said on Tuesday. The world’s largest investment banks expect global economic growth to slow further in 2023 following a year roiled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and soaring inflation.

  • Kyiv plans to erect Christmas trees, minus lights, throughout the battered city in a defiant display of holiday spirit as the capital area’s millions of residents suffer through blackouts due to Russian attacks, officials said. “No one is going to cancel the New Year and Christmas, and the atmosphere of the New Year should be there,” the Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, told the RBC-Ukraine news agency in an interview. “We cannot allow Putin to steal our Christmas.”

  • Fighting around the key eastern Ukraine town of Bakhmut has descended into a bloody morass with hundreds of dead and injured reported daily. Russia moved fresh formations to the area in recent weeks, but neither Russian nor Ukrainian forces have made a significant breakthrough after months of fighting.

  • Russian forces continue to shell residential infrastructure and housing in the recently liberated city of Kherson , according to Ukraine’s military. In its update on Monday, US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Russian troops were digging trenches and fortifying their positions in preparation for a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Kherson.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for now. My colleague Léonie Chao-Fong will be with you shortly.

Updated at 11.19am GMT

10.26am GMT

A Ukrainian soldier tries to warm up on the frontline in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

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A Ukrainian soldier tries to warm up on the frontline, in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on November 28, 2022. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

9.47am GMT

Nato chief says alliance won't back down on Ukraine aid

The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said the alliance will not pull back in its support for Ukraine, calling on partners to pledge more winter aid for Kyiv as it brace s itself for more cold and darkness due to Russian attacks on infrastructure.

Nato foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest are focusing on ramping up military assistance for Ukraine such as air defence systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid, Reuters reported.

Part of this non-lethal aid – goods such as fuel, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jammers – has been delivered through a Nato assistance package that allies can contribute to and which Stoltenberg aims to increase.

“Nato will continue to stand for Ukraine as long as it takes. We will not back down,” Stoltenberg said in a speech in Bucharest.

He added that the only way to get the right terms for a negotiation to begin would be for Ukraine to advance on the battlefield.

Updated at 9.50am GMT

9.18am GMT

Russia protests Vatican's criticism of war in Ukraine

Russia’s envoy has expressed Moscow’s strong dissatisfaction to the Vatican following Pope Francis’ latest condemnation of the “cruelty” of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Francis had told the Jesuit magazine America in an interview:

When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in.

Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati and so on. Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state.

This is very clear.

8.52am GMT

The defining image of the current state of the war in Ukraine – and at the same time a metaphor for the entire country – is the snow-covered rubble of a residential building split in two by a Russian bomb in the town of Borodianka.

Some people who lived in that building have died as a result of the conflict. Others have managed to escape, joining the great exodus of refugees across Europe. Some are now living in a dormitory on the outskirts of the town, struggling, like millions of other Ukrainians, with the nightmare of what is expected to be the hardest winter in the country’s history since the second world war.

In an effort to force Ukraine to negotiate a peace, in recent weeks Russia has been trying to destroy the country’s energy infrastructure with a series of mass strikes. No energy system in the world has been subjected to such powerful attacks, and now a long period of blackouts is looming. More than 6 million Ukrainians are being plunged into extreme hardship. The World Health Organization did not mince its words last week when it said: “The destruction of houses and lack of access to fuel or electricity due to damaged infrastructure could become a matter of life or death.”

In Kherson, recently liberated from Russian control, people have started gathering wood – not a simple task in a war-torn country – in preparation for winter. “I have already started using the burzhuika,” a traditional homemade welded metal stove, said Kateryna Sliusarchuk, 71, as temperatures dropped close to zero. “Of course, I’ll have to wave my arms around and look for wood every day to protect myself from the cold. And it won’t be easy at my age.”

Ukrainian authorities have advised citizens not to head into the woods without consulting the military, because Russian troops may have left behind mines, tripwires and unexploded shells. But with the price of firewood rising, many have no choice but to take the risk. If a mine doesn’t kill them, the cold might.

Related: Onset of winter in Ukraine – a photo essay

Updated at 9.05am GMT

8.22am GMT

Ukrainian authorities are investigating sites where torture allegedly took place in the city of Kherson.

More than two weeks after the Russians retreated, investigators say five torture rooms have been found in the southern city and at least four more in the wider Kherson region.

Ukrainians allege that they were confined, beaten, given electric shocks, interrogated and threatened with death, AP reported.

Human rights experts warned that the allegations made so far are only the beginning.

The Ukrainian national police say more than 460 war crimes have been committed by Russian soldiers in recently occupied areas of Kherson.

7.39am GMT

Most evenings, while Katya Zaikhchuk was waiting in Poland for the Home Office to grant her and her 15-year-old son, Sasha, a visa to come to England, she would get a video call from her host, Clare Birkbeck, as she cooked supper at home in Essex .

“I’d walk around the house, showing her the kitchen and the bedrooms, trying to make her feel comfortable, showing her what living in our house would be like. I was more worried for them than nervous for us,” Birkbeck remembers.

She and her husband bought a Ukrainian flag from Amazon, and their daughter made a poster decorated with yellow and blue curled ribbons and carefully transcribed a welcome message from Google Translate, which they took to the airport when they went to meet their guests in April. “You could see they were both very nervous. When they saw us, they hugged us and cried.”

Birkbeck, a landscape architect, and her husband deliberated for only a couple of days in early March before resolving to host Ukrainian refugees. There was a community of people in and around the Essex town of Saffron Walden who were coming together to offer rooms, and it felt as though there would be a lot of support for both the hosts and the guests.

“It felt very easy to decide. People were in awful situations,” she says. They had the space: three of their four children had left home – two were at university and the third was working in London. “So far it has been a very positive experience. We’ve been really lucky because we’ve got on so well.”

But eight months on, Birkbeck and her Ukrainian guests are beginning to think longer term, and realising that an agreement that they envisaged lasting at most a year may be challenging to move on from.

There is much to celebrate about the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which was set up very rapidly in the weeks that followed the Russian invasion, but the next few months will test whether it can survive as a model.

Related: ’There’s nowhere else for them to go’: what next for 100,000 Ukrainians and the Britons who took them in?

7.12am GMT

Nato remains firmly committed to supporting Ukraine through a “difficult” winter, even though an end to the conflict with Russia remains out of sight, Canada’s foreign minister has told the Guardian.

“Russia isn’t at the negotiation table at all. And so our goal right now is just to reinforce Ukraine’s position on the ground through military aid, intelligence sharing and financial support,” said Mélanie Joly. “Because when we do that, we’re actually reinforcing their position at the negotiation table. There will be a diplomatic solution eventually. That’s been the case in every single conflict. But we’re not there yet.”

Despite reports that western allies are growing wary of continued and costly arms shipment – and concerned at the speed with which Ukraine is using up its ammunition – Joly said there was “strong support for Ukraine” ahead of the Nato summit.

She pointed to Canada’s pledge of C$500m (£310m) in new military aid to Ukraine, announced at the G20 summit in Jakarta.

Russia’s targeting of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, particularly power plants, had only increased support from allies, Joly said.

“We need to make sure that Ukrainians are able to get through this difficult winter,” she said, adding that energy ministers from Nato countries were looking for solutions to the looming energy crisis.

Related: Canada says Nato fully behind Ukraine through hard winter

6.47am GMT

Rocketing energy bills are forcing Hungary to shutter libraries, theatres, swimming pools and even its new football stadiums for winter, AFP reports.

The state-of-the-art grounds – symbols of rightwing nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán’s 12 years in power – are among a long list of buildings no longer able to cope with rising energy prices in the central European country.

Despite being one of the country’s richest cities and being run by Orbán’s own party, Székesfehérvár is one of many closing its museums, libraries and theatres.

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A notice that says ‘The central library is closed from 1 November’ hangs on the main entrance of the library in Székesfehérvár, Hungary. Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Its new 14,000-capacity city-run stadium also pulled down its shutters this month to save costs, said the mayor, András Cser-Palkovics.

“Community spaces are what make a city. No one was happy about the measures but they accepted that they are needed,” Cser-Palkovics, a member of Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party, told AFP in Székesfehérvár’s City Hall.

Updated at 7.17am GMT

6.18am GMT

People should not forget the war in Ukraine this Christmas, the country’s first lady has said ahead of a speech to British MPs on Tuesday.

Olena Zelenska is expected to address MPs and peers on Tuesday as she visits London, days after Rishi Sunak made his first visit as prime minister to Kyiv to meet Ukraine‘s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Zelenska will urge the British public not to forget the “tragedy” of the Russian invasion amid the festive season.

Updated at 6.29am GMT

6.03am GMT

The pace of global shipping activity is set to lose steam next year as economic turmoil, conflict in Ukraine and the impact of the pandemic weaken the outlook for trade, UN agency Unctad said on Tuesday.

The world’s largest investment banks expect global economic growth to slow further in 2023 following a year roiled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and soaring inflation.

The slowdown is expected to impact shipping, which transports more than 80% of global trade, although tanker freight rates could stay high.

For the overall 2023-2027 period, growth is predicted at an annual average of 2.1%, a slower rate than the previous three-decade average of 3.3%, UNCTAD said, adding that “downside risks are weighing heavily on this forecast”.

“The recovery in maritime transport and logistics is now at risk from the war in Ukraine, the continued grip of the pandemic, lingering supply-chain constraints, and China’ss cooling economy and zero-Covid policy, along with inflationary pressures and the cost-of-living squeeze,” Unctad said in the report.

5.52am GMT

Kyiv plans to erect Christmas trees, minus lights, throughout the battered city in a defiant display of holiday spirit as the capital area’s millions of residents suffer through blackouts due to Russian attacks, officials said.

“No one is going to cancel the New Year and Christmas, and the atmosphere of the New Year should be there,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told the RBC-Ukraine news agency in an interview.

“We cannot allow Putin to steal our Christmas.”

Sergey Kovalenko, chief executive officer of YASNO, which provides power to Kyiv, said on his Facebook page that to save electricity, the trees will be without illuminations and garlands.

“There will be the New Year’s-Christmas tree and it will be the most energy-responsible, but still festive for all of us,” Kovalenko said.

Klitschko said that there will be no mass gatherings or concerts - a tradition to welcome the New Year. The city’s businesses will sponsor trees throughout Kyiv, including on the Sophia Square in the Old Kyiv neighbourhood.

5.39am GMT

US to announce ‘substantial’ aid as Nato foreign ministers meet in Romania

The United States is expected to announce “substantial” financial aid to Ukraine on Tuesday to help it deal with the damage caused by Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, senior US officials said.

The aid, which will be detailed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in the Romanian capital Bucharest, “is substantial and it is not the end”, one senior official told journalists Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.

However, he noted that the Biden administration had budgeted $1.1bn for energy spending in Ukraine and Moldova.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Bucharest where the alliance’s support for Ukraine since the Russian invasion will be discussed.

Germany, which currently chairs the G7, has convened a meeting Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of the NATO gathering to discuss the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

Romania, as well as neighboring Moldova, has been hard hit by the war, and around two million people fleeing Ukraine have passed through the country.

Bucharest currently hosts nearly 80,000 refugees, according to figures cited by Washington.

5.33am GMT

Summary

Hi, this is the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours.

The United States is expected to announce “substantial” financial aid to Ukraine on Tuesday to help it deal with the damage caused by Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, senior US officials said.

The aid, which will be detailed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a Nato meeting in the Romanian capital Bucharest, “is substantial and it is not the end”, one senior official told journalists Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.

However, he noted that the Biden administration had budgeted $1.1bn for energy spending in Ukraine and Moldova.

Here are the other key recent developments:

  • Fighting around the key eastern Ukraine town of Bakhmut has descended into a bloody morass with hundreds of dead and injured reported daily. Russia moved fresh formations to the area in recent weeks, but neither Russian nor Ukrainian forces have made a significant breakthrough after months of fighting.

  • Russian forces continue to shell residential infrastructure and housing in the recently liberated city of Kherson , according to Ukraine’s military. In its update on Monday, US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Russian troops were digging trenches and fortifying their positions in preparation for a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Kherson.

  • The United States will announce new aid on Tuesday to help Ukraine restore electricity as the country faced another week of cold and darkness after Russian strikes on its power grid caused rolling blackouts.

  • The US is considering a Boeing proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted on to abundantly available rockets, allowing Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines as the west struggles to meet demand for more arms. US and allied military inventories are shrinking, according to Ukraine’s armed forces general staff.

  • DTEK, Ukraine’s biggest private electricity producer, said it would reduce electricity supply by 60% for its consumers in Kyiv. National grid operator Ukrenergo said on Monday it had been forced to resume regular emergency blackouts across the country after a setback in its race to repair energy infrastructure.

  • Ukrainian forces damaged a rail bridge north of the Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol that has been key to supplying Russian forces , Ukraine’s armed forces said.

  • Russians are sporadically shelling cities with no apparent strategic aim other than to cause casualties. The Guardian visited a residential district in Dnipro, where a series of houses were destroyed by a fragmentation warhead, designed to inflict maximum casualties.

  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office has said 329 children are considered missing in Ukraine, while 12,034 have been deported to Russia. According to the Ukrainian government’s children of war portal, 440 children have been killed as a result of Russia’s war and 851 children are reported as injured.

  • Russia has “unilaterally postponed” talks with the US aimed at resuming nuclear weapons inspections in Cairo this week, a US state department spokesperson confirmed. Talks between US and Russian officials were scheduled to begin tomorrow. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed in a statement that talks would no longer take place this week.

  • The Ukraine war hotline between Russia and the US has been used once , according to a Reuters source. The communications line was created at the start of the war. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the US initiated a call on the “deconfliction” line to communicate its concerns about Russian military operations near critical infrastructure in Ukraine.

Comments / 49

Vicki Maxwell
11-29

ok, World leaders, aren't you kinda getting tired of this? no? I don't think you are, as putin (poopoo) and company are apparently still alive. I am not the type of person to wish bad on anyone (except child killers and murderers which poopoo also seems to fall into both categories anyway) hmm. I know world leaders usually have militaries themselves, if needed. why is putin and company still around? And, which I believe at this point, Prigozhin also has to have a target/price tag on his head as well. I've begged you before. you all aren't paying attention to me. please make it happen yesterday! thank you

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9
John C
11-29

NATO won't back down on violating the Minsk Agreement and advancing eastward to Russian borders over the years either which caused this war in part.

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6
Ephraim Wolobah
11-29

Well, it's been entertaining watching this war with all you crazy folks, but this war will be shorter than we thought. I predict it will end in a year or less. Especially if Russia's winter freeze plan backfires.

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4

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