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Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow demands west recognises annexations before peace talks – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-12-02

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6.54pm GMT

We are now closing the blog. Here is a summary of today’s events:

  • Up to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia invaded in February, according to Kyiv’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. At certain points in the war, Ukraine said that between 100 and 200 of its forces were dying a day on the battlefield, making Podolyak’s estimate seem conservative. Speaking to Ukraine’s 24 Kanal, Podolyak said they were official figures from Ukraine’s general staff. He said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , would make the total public “when the right moment comes”.

  • Three people were killed and seven wounded in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson over the past 24 hours , the regional governor said.

  • Vladimir Putin is open to talks on a possible settlement in Ukraine but the refusal of the United States to recognise annexed territories as Russian is hindering a search for any potential compromise, the Kremlin said. US president Joe Biden said on Thursday that he was prepared to speak to Putin if the Kremlin chief was looking for a way to end the war but that Putin had not yet indicated that.

  • Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region said that they would start evacuating some people with reduced mobility from the Russian-occupied town of Kakhovka , on the east bank of the Dnieper River. The evacuations were set to start on Saturday, they said in a Telegram post on Friday.

  • European Union member states have agreed to put a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian oil after Poland, which was holding out, gave the green light to the deal. In an effort to reduce the Kremlin’s income from fossil fuels, the EU has agreed to limit the amount that can be paid for seaborne oil to diminish Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine .

  • Russian troops in Ukraine are deliberately attacking the country’s museums, libraries and other cultural institutions, according to a report issued by the US and Ukrainian chapters of the international writers’ organisation PEN.

  • Germany is aiming to deliver seven Gepard tanks that had been destined for the scrap pile to Ukraine this spring, adding to 30 of the air-defence tanks that are already being used to fight against the Russian army, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday.

  • The Finish prime minister, Sanna Marin , has called for Europe to build its own defence capabilities in the wake of the war in Ukraine, saying that without US help it is not resilient enough .

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the UN atomic watchdog was quoted as saying. The nuclear plant, Europe’s biggest, provided about a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s invasion, and has been forced to operate on back-up generators a number of times, Reuters reported.

  • The United States is reportedly working with two Middle Eastern countries to shift advanced Nasams air defence systems to Ukraine in the next three to six months. Kyiv received two of the eight approved deliveries of Nasams in early November.

  • Russia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian armed forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has suggested. This threat is likely to have prompted Russian logisticians to relocate supply nodes, including rail transfer points, further south and east, the latest British intelligence report states.

  • Russia tested a new missile defence system rocket, its defence ministry said today. The missile was launched from the Sary Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan. Other than saying the test was successful, the ministry gave few other details.

  • The chief economic adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , has called on BP to exit Russia entirely after the fossil fuel firm was offered a £580m dividend by the oil giant Rosneft. Oleg Ustenko has written to BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, to demand the British company cuts ties with the state-controlled Russian firm nine months after announcing its intention to leave the country.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has said there must be “no way we force peace” in Ukraine . Justin Welby added that the need for support is going to be “very long term”, the Press Association reported.

  • US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron presented a united front on Ukraine with Biden saying he would talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin if he is willing to end the war and only in consultation with Nato allies. “I’m prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet,” Biden told a news conference at the White House with Macron on Thursday.

  • Biden and Macron pledged to hold Russia accountable for widely documented atrocities and war crimes in Ukraine. Biden said their support would continue in the face of Russian aggression. In a joint statement, the leaders said: “Intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.”

  • Ukrainian refugees will spend a further five months on a ship which has been accommodating them since June this year, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

6.47pm GMT

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MS Victoria is providing temporary accommodation to Ukrainian refugees. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Ukrainian refugees will spend a further five months on a ship which has been accommodating them since June this year, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

MS Victoria, which is docked in Leith, Edinburgh, will continue to provide “safe accommodation for displaced people” until June 2023 with the option to extend.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, however, accused the Scottish Government of “quietly” extending the contract, according to reports by LBC on Friday.

On Friday evening, Mr Cole-Hamilton told the PA news agency:

This isn’t a new life, it’s a new limbo. Ukrainian refugees deserve a long-term solution.

I spoke to aid workers, working in Lviv, connecting Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Scotland with homes and routes out of Ukraine, who have described the Scottish Government as being humiliatingly underprepared.

They wanted the kudos of throwing open their doors but they did none of the groundwork.

I don’t think when these Ukrainians are fleeing unimaginable atrocities at the hands of the Russians, I don’t think they dreamed about a very crowded passenger ship.”

Appropriate long-term accommodation is yet to be identified.

Minister with Special Responsibility for Refugees from Ukraine Neil Gray said:

We do not want people to spend any longer than is absolutely necessary in temporary welcome accommodation, however, we know from speaking to those on board the MS Victoria that it is a safe environment that has built a powerful sense of community.

We’ve extended the contract with the MS Victoria to continue to safely accommodate arrivals from Ukraine. Work continues to match people in temporary accommodation with hosts and matching teams are operating on board both ships.”


6.32pm GMT

European Union member states have agreed to put a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian oil after Poland, which was holding out, gave the green light to the deal.

In an effort to reduce the Kremlin’s income from fossil fuels, the EU has agreed to limit the amount that can be paid for seaborne oil to diminish Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine .

The price cap also aims to avert a surge in global oil prices after the EU’s embargo on Russian crude takes effect on 5 December.

Warsaw had held out on approving the deal in order to examine an adjustment mechanism to keep the cap below the market price – having pushed in negotiations for the cap to be as low as possible.

Poland’s ambassador to the EU, Andrzej Sadoś, said on Friday that the mechanism in the final deal would keep the price cap at least 5% below the market rate.

However, security experts from the CSIS thinktank have suggested a cap at $60 is toothless since it is above the price of existing Russian oil prices of about $52 a barrel.

It has been estimated that Russian oil is sold at a profit from $40-45 a barrel, but Russia’s true extraction costs are hard to estimate.

The cap is expected to be formally announced on Sunday, and oil embargoes in the EU and G7 will begin next week.

Read the full report here .

Related: EU states agree $60 a barrel cap on Russian oil after Polish green light

6.12pm GMT

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A theatre destroyed in Mariupol in March. The Russian word for “children” is written on the pavement. Photograph: Reuters

Russian troops in Ukraine are deliberately attacking the country’s museums, libraries and other cultural institutions, according to a report issued by the US and Ukrainian chapters of the international writers’ organisation PEN.

The report stated:

Culture is not collateral damage in the war against Ukraine; it’s a target, a central pillar of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for the war.

Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukrainian culture and language simply don’t exist. By targeting art museums, music halls, libraries, theaters and historical sites, he attempts to make it so.”

PEN cited Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture as saying that 529 “cultural heritage and cultural institutions” have been destroyed or damaged since the war started. The figure includes both sites of national importance and cultural venues in towns and villages, the report said.

The list includes the bombing in March of a theatre in Mariupol, where hundreds of people were sheltering. Around 600 people died in the attack, according to an Associated Press investigation.

The PEN report said Russian soldiers have also seized and destroyed Ukrainian literature and Ukrainian-language books from public libraries in occupied regions.

However, it acknowledged “it is not always possible to determine if the bombings of cultural sites are deliberate or the result of Russia’s indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.”

PEN Ukraine said it has documented 31 civilian writers, artists and other cultural workers killed in Russian attacks this year, and that some other cultural figures have died while fighting with Ukrainian forces.

American author and publisher Dave Eggers, part of the PEN delegation that presented the report, said:

The irony of Putin’s attempts to erase the culture and heritage of Ukraine [is it] has only enriched their culture and made the world pay attention and be far more interested in Ukrainian writers and traditions.”


5.29pm GMT

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A dog with a lit-up collar walks in a street during a blackout in Kyiv last month. Photograph: Andrew Kravchenko/AP

The Kremlin thought it would sweep across Ukraine and take Kyiv in a matter of days.

Now, more than nine months into its disastrous war with Ukraine, the new Russian strategy of targeting the infrastructure that brings light, heat and water into millions of Ukrainian homes has revealed Russia’s own weakness and its desperation in the face of a defiant Ukrainian resistance.

Russia’s impotence – and the scale of the destruction wrought by Moscow against territory it considers its own – has leaked back into official statements, even as the Kremlin seeks to leave Ukraine in a dire state on the cusp of a bitter winter .

At moments, Russian officials have compared the destruction in Ukrainian cities and its strategy to that of the second world war, nearly portraying the strategy as one of scorched earth.

At a press conference on Thursday, the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was given a tough question about Russia’s shelling of Kherson, a city it claimed to annex in September and then fled from in November, and now regularly shells from across the banks of the Dnipro River.

“How can you justify missile attacks on the civilian population, infrastructure, depriving people of access to water and electricity, including in the area of Kherson, which Russia considers its territory?” he was asked.

“The city of Stalingrad was our territory,” replied Lavrov, referring to the modern city of Volgograd that was stage to the deadliest battle of the second world war . “We hit the Germans such that they ran away from there.”

Moscow’s current strategy stands in stark contrast to Russia’s initial plan: a shock-and-awe strike on Kyiv and other cities that would let them take over the country and its key infrastructure within weeks.

Read the full analysis here .

Related: Russia’s vicious tactics in Ukraine serve only to further expose its weakness

4.42pm GMT

Russian oil output could fall by 500,000 to 1m barrels per day early in 2023 after the European Union imposes a ban on seaborne imports from Monday, two sources at major Russian producers have told the Reuters news agency.

The estimate is at the lower end of market analysts’ forecasts of the combined impact of the ban and a proposed price cap on Russian oil, although the sources said the true level would depend on several factors yet to be settled.

They requested anonymity to discuss sensitive market dynamics connected with the conflict in Ukraine that Russia calls a “special military operation”, Reuters said.

Alexei Kokin of Otkritie brokerage broadly agreed with their assessment of the likely impact of Western measures on Russian output.

It’s roughly the same as the volume of seaborne supplies to the EU in recent weeks. I don’t think they (Russian producers) will be able to divert that elsewhere.

The west wants to squeeze Russia’s finances to reduce its ability to fund the conflict. Exports of crude, gas and oil products account for the majority of Russia’s revenues, which have stayed high as disruption to production and sales following western sanctions has been more than offset by high prices on international markets.

Russia’s budget revenues from oil and gas jumped by over a third in the first 10 months of the year. Before the Ukraine conflict began on 24 February, Russia exported around 8m bpd of oil and oil products.

3.58pm GMT

Turkey expects a “clear picture” on the war by next spring, its foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said, as fighting continued and Putin indicated he was open to negotiations. According to Reuters, he said:

Now Ukraine is advancing on the ground, retaking some of their occupied territories. But Russia in return is deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure. So life is getting difficult for Ukrainians particularly, and for all of us.

I think before the spring time we will have clear picture about ceasefire or truce or negotiation table. But we will not give up. As Turkey we will continue our efforts.

Russia’s war against Ukraine became more complicated with the fighting on the ground getting heavier, Cavusoglu said, adding that some Western countries should do more to get two sides to the negotiation table.

3.41pm GMT

Olena Zelenska, the wife of the Ukrainian president, has urged the UK and other western nations not to allow themselves to become accustomed to her country’s plight.

Speaking to the Times, she has said:

It is quite understandable that the west is tired. However, this phrase, I hear it quite a lot — war fatigue — is quite a dangerous phrase for us because that is exactly what our adversary wants. They expect people to forget and the world to get tired of the sad news and for Ukraine to disappear from the front pages. They would then feel they had the permission to do what they want.

As winter draws in, she accused the Russians of trying to terrorise Ukrainians into believing they will not be able to survive.

It would be wrong to say these things don’t scare us, they do, but we know we must endure this. The winter is treacherous and that is what they are counting on, it’s not the first time they are using the force of nature against the civilian population.

She also detailed how she has cut off all contact with any Russian relative or acquaintance, telling the paper:

Of course, Putin is to blame but without the support of the Russian people he couldn’t have done it on such a scale … I have relatives [in Russia], but we don’t communicate. Those relationships have ended completely … There will be no point in returning to those dialogues, when your own life and children’s and your family’s is in great danger and people don’t even ask if you are still alive, I think such relationships are over.

2.40pm GMT

UN-appointed investigators are looking into whether Russia’s attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine amount to war crimes, one of the inspection team said on Friday.

Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure since early October, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heating as temperatures plummet, Reuters reported.

Russia says the assaults do not target civilians and are meant to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight and push it to negotiate – though Kyiv says such attacks are a war crime.

“Part of the analysis that we are engaged in at present … is whether the attacks constitute war crimes,” Pablo de Greiff told a news conference, speaking from Kyiv.

If they do, the team would work out what it “can do in order to make a contribution to the accountability for such crimes,” he added.

The three-member commission of inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council in March has already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in areas it occupied in Ukraine.

Moscow regularly dismisses such accusations as a smear campaign.

2.27pm GMT

When Alina Trebushnikova woke up on Thursday morning, the light was on and she knew the day had already got off to a bad start.

The electricity in her neighbourhood of Novomoskovsk had returned in the middle of the night and that meant it would not be on for much longer. As a result, the little house would be colder and darker for much of the day.

It gets dark by 4pm in Ukraine now and temperatures hover just below zero after nightfall. Next week a deep frost is expected and the days will grow even shorter, as Ukrainians approach their hardest winter since the second world war.

Alina’s husband, Oleksii, was away at his construction job and would only return long after dark. Their two boys, nine-year-old Ilia and Yakov, three years younger, were at the home of Alina’s parents, who have a wood stove, independent of the vagaries of the grid.

Alina is 31 and has lived in Novomoskovsk since she was seven, when her parents moved out of a block of flats in nearby Dnipro to live closer to the earth, as they put it. She now spends most of her days alone with Polina, born three months ago, while making food for the family, juggling with limited light, heat and ingredients.

Related: ‘There are no lights, it’s scary’: a family prepares for winter in eastern Ukraine

2.20pm GMT

Ukrainian embassy in Madrid receives 'bloody package'

Spanish police have cordoned off the area surrounding the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid after it received a “bloody package” similar to the ones sent to other embassies abroad, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.

This comes after a spate of six letter bombs targeted high-profile targets in Spain related to the war in Ukraine, including the United States’ embassy, prime minister Pedro Sánchez, the defence minister, an arms manufacturer, an airbase and a European satellite centre.

On Friday, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said several of the country’s embassies abroad have received “bloody packages” containing animal eyes.

1.15pm GMT

EU proposes fines and jail terms for breaking Russia sanctions

Companies who break EU sanctions against Russia face fines of at least 5% of their worldwide turnover, under proposals put forward by the European commission.

The plan, which needs approval from the European parliament and the EU’s 27 member states before it can take effect, also said individuals breaking EU sanctions would face potential jail terms of at least five years, Reuters reports.

Breaking sanctions on Russia is already a criminal offence in some EU countries, but in others it is treated as an administrative offence and penalties vary across the bloc. The Justice commissioner Didier Reynders said the proposed rules would bring clarity, adding:

Too many gaps still remain between member states when it comes to the punishment of violation of EU sanctions.

12.48pm GMT

Several Ukrainian embassies abroad have received “bloody packages” containing animal eyes, Ukraine’s foreign ministry has said, after a series of letter bombs were sent to sites in Spain including Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid.

The packages, soaked in a liquid with a distinctive colour and smell, were sent to Kyiv’s embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, to general consulates in Naples and Krakow, and the consulate in Brno, spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

12.20pm GMT

The Ukrainian government will draw up a law banning churches affiliated with Russia, under moves described by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as necessary to prevent Moscow being able to “weaken Ukraine from within”, Reuters reports.

The National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, which groups top security, military and political figures, told the government to draft the law following a series of raids on parishes that Kyiv says could be taking orders from Moscow.

The security council also ordered investigations into suspected “subversive activities of Russian special services in the religious environment of Ukraine” and called for sanctions against unspecified individuals.

Further searches of church premises were taking place on Friday. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) it said was searching at least five parishes belonging to a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which until May was subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The agency also announced on Friday that it had served a notice of suspicion to a former diocese head in central Ukraine for allegedly coordinating a pro-Moscow information campaign with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The branch has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but many Ukrainians fear it could be a source of Russian influence in the country.

We have to create conditions where no actors dependent on the aggressor state (Russia) will have an opportunity to manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within. We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation on Thursday.

A spokesman for the church, Metropolitan Kliment, told Reuters his organisation “has always acted within the framework of Ukrainian law”.

Therefore, the state of Ukraine does not have any legal grounds to put pressure on or repress our believers.

12.07pm GMT

Germany calls for peace talks - but Moscow says west must accept annexations

The German chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged the Russian president Vladimir Putin to find a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict as soon as possible, “including a withdrawal of Russian troops”, when the two leaders spoke recently.

According to the Reuters news agency, Scholz’s spokesperson said:

The chancellor condemned in particular the Russian airstrikes against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and stressed Germany’s determination to support Ukraine in ensuring its defence capability against Russian aggression.

The Kremlin said Putin told Scholz the German and western line on Ukraine was “destructive” and urged Berlin to rethink its approach. Its readout of the call served to highlight the gulf between Russia and western governments over Ukraine, even though Moscow and Washington have both said in the past 24 hours they are open in principle to talks, Reuters reports. The Kremlin said:

Attention was drawn to the destructive line of Western states, including Germany, which are pumping the Kyiv regime with weapons and training the Ukrainian military. All this, as well as comprehensive political and financial support for Ukraine, leads to the fact that Kyiv completely rejects the idea of any negotiations.

Kyiv has said peace talks are possible only if Russia stops attacking Ukrainian territory and withdraws its troops from Ukrainian soil.

The Kremlin has indicated it wants a diplomatic solution and claimed Putin had always been open to talks, but said this was complicated by Washington’s refusal to recognise “the new territories” as Russian was hindering a search for any potential compromise.

Separately, a German government spokesperson confirmed Berlin is not in talks with Ukraine about the transfer or deployment of Patriot air defence systems there.

Reuters reports that Germany offered Poland the Patriot system last month to help secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed and killed two people. The Polish defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak later asked Germany to send the fire units to Ukraine instead.

Updated at 4.47pm GMT

11.32am GMT

The Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić has said he will not allow his country to become a tool for those who want to circumvent EU sanctions on Russia.

After meeting the EU enlargement commissioner Olivér Várhelyi , he said:

We have reacted in cases of re-export of certain goods and our state bodies have detained people from companies that were involved in bypassing sanctions against the Russian Federation.

Serbia, which aims to join the EU, has been criticised by foreign diplomats for not formally introducing sanctions against Russia, with which it has strong historical ties.

Updated at 12.08pm GMT

11.00am GMT

Summary

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

  • Up to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia invaded in February, according to Kyiv’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. At certain points in the war, Ukraine said that between 100 and 200 of its forces were dying a day on the battlefield, making Podolyak’s estimate seem conservative. Speaking to Ukraine’s 24 Kanal, Podolyak said they were official figures from Ukraine’s general staff. He said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , would make the total public “when the right moment comes”.

  • Three people were killed and seven wounded in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson over the past 24 hours, the regional governor said. Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych wrote on the Telegram messaging app that Russian troops had bombarded the city of Kherson and other parts of the region 42 times in the same period.

  • Vladimir Putin is open to talks on a possible settlement in Ukraine but the refusal of the United States to recognise annexed territories as Russian is hindering a search for any potential compromise, the Kremlin said. US president Joe Biden said on Thursday that he was prepared to speak to Putin if the Kremlin chief was looking for a way to end the war but that Putin had not yet indicated that.

  • Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region said that they would start evacuating some people with reduced mobility from the Russian-occupied town of Kakhovka, on the east bank of the Dnieper River. The evacuations were set to start on Saturday, they said in a Telegram post on Friday.

  • Germany is aiming to deliver seven Gepard tanks that had been destined for the scrap pile to Ukraine this spring, adding to 30 of the air-defence tanks that are already being used to fight against the Russian army, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday. The seven tanks, which are now being repaired by Munich-based arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), are meant to help Ukraine in protecting its cities and infrastructure against Russian shelling, reported Der Spiegel.

  • The Finish prime minister, Sanna Marin , has called for Europe to build its own defence capabilities in the wake of the war in Ukraine, saying that without US help it is not resilient enough. “We should make sure that we are stronger,” Marin said in Sydney on Friday. “And I’ll be brutally honest with you, Europe isn’t strong enough. We would be in trouble without the United States.”

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the UN atomic watchdog was quoted as saying. The nuclear plant, Europe’s biggest, provided about a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s invasion, and has been forced to operate on back-up generators a number of times, Reuters reported.

  • The United States is reportedly working with two Middle Eastern countries to shift advanced Nasams air defence systems to Ukraine in the next three to six months. Kyiv received two of the eight approved deliveries of Nasams in early November.

  • R ussia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian armed forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has suggested. This threat has highly likely prompted Russian logisticians to relocate supply nodes, including rail transfer points, further south and east, the latest British intelligence report reads.

  • Russia tested a new missile defence system rocket, its defence ministry said today. The missile was launched from the Sary Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan. Other than saying the test was successful, the ministry gave few other details.

  • The chief economic adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , has called on BP to exit Russia entirely after the fossil fuel firm was offered a £580m dividend by the oil giant Rosneft. Oleg Ustenko has written to BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, to demand the British company cuts ties with the state-controlled Russian firm nine months after announcing its intention to leave the country.

  • The archbishop of Canterbury has said there must be “no way we force peace” in Ukraine . Justin Welby added that the need for support is going to be “very long term”, the Press Association reported.

  • US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron presented a united front on Ukraine with Biden saying he would talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin if he is willing to end the war and only in consultation with Nato allies. “I’m prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet,” Biden told a news conference at the White House with Macron on Thursday.

  • Biden and Macron pledged to hold Russia accountable for “ widely documented atrocities and war crimes ” in Ukraine. Biden said their support would continue in the face of Russian aggression, which he added has been “incredibly brutal”. In a joint statement with Macron, the leaders said: “Intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.”

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for now. My colleague Kevin Rawlinson will be along shortly to continue bringing you the latest news from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Updated at 11.10am GMT

10.36am GMT

Russia says west's refusal to recognise annexations a barrier to peace talks

Vladimir Putin is open to talks on a possible settlement in Ukraine but the refusal of the United States to recognise annexed territories as Russian is hindering a search for any potential compromise, the Kremlin said.

US president Joe Biden said on Thursday that he was prepared to speak to Putin if the Kremlin chief was looking for a way to end the war but that Putin had not yet indicated that.

“The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about Biden’s remarks.

“The most preferable way to achieve our interests is through peaceful, diplomatic means,” Peskov said. “Putin was, is and remains open to contacts and negotiations.”

Updated at 1.22pm GMT

10.02am GMT

Three killed in Russian attacks on Kherson region

Three people were killed and seven wounded in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson over the past 24 hours, the regional governor said.

Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych wrote on Telegram that Russian troops had bombarded the city of Kherson and other parts of the region 42 times in the same period.

The city of Kherson was liberated by Ukrainian forces in mid-November after months of Russian occupation, but has been under fire since then from Russian troops who retreated to the opposite side of the River Dnipro.

The city has also suffered problems with its power supply, Reuters reported. Yanushevych said yesterday that power had been lost again after recently being restored.

Updated at 11.34am GMT

9.51am GMT

Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region said that they would start evacuating some people with reduced mobility from the Russian-occupied town of Kakhovka, on the east bank of the Dnieper River .

The evacuations were set to start on Saturday, they said in a Telegram post on Friday.

Updated at 11.26am GMT

9.18am GMT

The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the UN atomic watchdog was quoted as saying.

The nuclear plant, Europe’s biggest, provided about a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s invasion, and has been forced to operate on back-up generators a number of times, Reuters reported.

Repeated shelling around the Russian-held plant has raised concern about the potential for a grave accident just 300 miles from the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.

“My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year,” Rafael Grossi told Italian newspaper la Repubblica in an interview published on Friday.

Grossi did not rule out meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“Our goal is to avoid a nuclear accident, not to create a military situation that would favour either one party or the other”, Grossi said.

Updated at 11.01am GMT

8.26am GMT

Germany is aiming to deliver seven Gepard tanks that had been destined for the scrap pile to Ukraine this spring, adding to 30 of the air-defence tanks that are already being used to fight against the Russian army, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday.

The seven tanks, which are now being repaired by Munich-based arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), are meant to help Ukraine in protecting its cities and infrastructure against Russian shelling, reported Der Spiegel.

The German government also aims to send more ammunition for the Gepards along with the additional tanks, it reported.

Supply of ammunition for the Gepard has proven problematic as Switzerland, which has stocks of ammunition, refuses to supply it, citing its neutral status, Reuters reported.

Updated at 10.05am GMT

7.47am GMT

The archbishop of Canterbury has said there must be “no way we force peace” in Ukraine.

Justin Welby added that the need for support is going to be “very long term”, the Press Association reported.

Asked what he learned from his visit to the war-torn country, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

First of all, the need for solidarity and support for Ukraine.

And secondly, that there must be no way in which we force peace on Ukraine or they’re put under pressure. Third, that the need for support is going to be very long term.

Pressed on whether he meant, in some cases, war is the right course, he said:

Peace is always better than war. But there are times when justice demands that there is the defeat of what we call, the archbishop of York and I called when it started, an evil invasion. And I don’t regret saying that.

Ukraine is the victim here, we can’t slip back to a 1938 Czechoslovakia, sort of people far away of whom we know little situation. There has to be real resilience.

Updated at 7.54am GMT

7.22am GMT

Russia tested a new missile defence system rocket, its defence ministry said today.

The missile was launched from the Sary Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan.

Other than saying the test was successful, the ministry gave few other details.

Updated at 7.42am GMT

7.01am GMT

The Belarusian media outlet Nexta has published a series of images purportedly showing the aftermath of Russian strikes on the south-eastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia early this morning.

The city’s mayor, Anatoly Kurtev, earlier announced the attack on Telegram, saying Russia intended to destroy the industrial and energy infrastructure of the city.

Updated at 8.22am GMT

6.58am GMT

Russia’s withdrawal from west bank of Dnipro allows Ukraine to strike at logistics: UK MoD

Russia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian armed forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has suggested.

This threat has highly likely prompted Russian logisticians to relocate supply nodes, including rail transfer points, further south and east, the latest British intelligence report reads.

“Russian logistics units will need to conduct extra labour-intensive loading and unloading from rail to road transport. Road moves will subsequently still be vulnerable to Ukrainian artillery as they move on to supply Russian forward defensive positions,” the report adds.

“Russia’s shortage of munitions (exacerbated by these logistics challenges) is likely one of the main factors currently limiting Russia’s potential to restart effective, large scale offensive ground operations.”

6.50am GMT

The chief economic adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , has called on BP to exit Russia entirely after the fossil fuel firm was offered a £580m dividend by the oil giant Rosneft .

Oleg Ustenko has written to BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, to demand the British company cuts ties with the state-controlled Russian firm nine months after announcing its intention to leave the country.

BP has a 19.75% stake in Rosneft, one of the Kremlin’s most important oil assets. The FTSE 100 company vowed to end its shareholding in late February after Russia invaded Ukraine.

BP took a £18.7bn hit by writing off the shareholding from its books, but still owns the stock. Last month Rosneft’s boss, Igor Sechin, said the British company should reconsider that position and that it had put aside a dividend, in a Russian account, for BP .

In a letter to Looney, seen by the Guardian, Ustenko wrote: “BP was among the first of the oil majors to announce its intention to exit Russia by selling its stake in Rosneft, the Kremlin’s oil company.

“Yet after nine months of Russian aggression, war crimes and the bombardment of civilian infrastructure, all funded and fuelled by Russian oil, gas and coal, BP remains a shareholder in Rosneft.”

Ustenko cited Global Witness analysis that showed the dividend for the first nine months of 2022 was worth an estimated £580m, or the equivalent of a third of the UK’s direct aid to Ukraine this year.

“No accounting mechanisms or statements from BP will change this fact. This is blood money, pure and simple,” he said.

Related: BP shares in Kremlin oil firm are ‘blood money’, says Zelenskiy adviser

6.31am GMT

Finland PM Sanna Marin says Europe is ‘not strong enough’ without the US

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Sanna Marin: ‘Europe would be in trouble without the United States.’ Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/EPA

The Finish prime minister, Sanna Marin , has called for Europe to build its own defence capabilities in the wake of the war in Ukraine, saying that without US help it is not resilient enough.

“We should make sure that we are stronger,” Marin said in Sydney on Friday. “And I’ll be brutally honest with you, Europe isn’t strong enough. We would be in trouble without the United States.”

Marin insisted Ukraine must be given “whatever it takes” to win the war, adding that the United States had been pivotal in supplying Kyiv with the weapons, finance and humanitarian aid necessary to blunt Russia’s advance.

“We have to make sure that we are also building those capabilities when it comes to European defence, the European defence industry, and making sure that we could cope in different kinds of situations,” she said.

Marin said when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, the priority of most Finns changed “overnight” to security.

Until Russia invaded Ukraine, Finland’s priorities were to have working bilateral relations with Russia and be close partners with members Nato, but not be a member, she said. “That was the best way to secure our nation.”

Related: Finland PM Sanna Marin says Europe is ‘not strong enough’ without the US

Updated at 7.47am GMT

6.25am GMT

The United States is reportedly working with two Middle Eastern countries to shift advanced Nasams air defence systems to Ukraine in the next three to six months.

Weapons manufacturer Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told Politico late Thursday:

There are Nasams deployed across the Middle East, and some of our Nato allies and we [the US] are actually working with a couple of Middle Eastern countries that currently employ Nasams and trying to direct those back up to Ukraine.”

He spoke a day after the Pentagon awarded a $1.2bn contract to Raytheon for six Nasams expected to be built in late 2025.

“Just because it takes 24 months to build, it doesn’t mean it’s going to take 24 months to get in country,” Hayes said.

He declined to name the Middle Eastern countries that would send the systems to Ukraine, but Defence Security Cooperation Agency records cited by Politico list Oman and Qatar as its purchasers.

Kyiv received two of the eight approved deliveries of Nasams in early November.

Nasams, or national advanced surface-to-air missile systems, have a longer range than other western-supplied air defence systems in Ukraine.

6.16am GMT

Biden prepared to speak to Putin if he is willing to end the war

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron presented a united front on Ukraine with Biden saying he would talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin if he is willing to end the war and only in consultation with Nato allies.

I’m prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet,” Biden told a news conference at the White House with Macron on Thursday.

Macron said he would continue to talk to Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results” such as the safety of nuclear plants.

Biden and Macron pledged to hold Russia accountable for “ widely documented atrocities and war crimes ” in Ukraine.

At the East Room press conference, Biden said he had been shocked by Russia’s brutality in Ukraine but insisted that Vladimir Putin was “not going to succeed”, adding: “President Macron and I have resolved that we’re going to continue working together to hold Russia accountable for their actions and to mitigate the global impacts of Putin’s war on the rest of the world.”

“Intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.”

Taking questions from reporters, Biden added:

There’s one way for this war to end – the rational way. Putin to pull out of Ukraine … it’s sick, what he’s doing … I’m prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war.”

Macron said they discussed initiatives “to keep supporting and strengthen our support to the Ukrainian troops and enable them to resist”.

Related: Biden and Macron seek to heal trade rift and present united front on Ukraine

6.07am GMT

Russian missiles hit Zaporizhzhia, mayor says

Russian forces reportedly struck the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia overnight.

Zaporizhzhia mayor Anatoly Kurtev announced the attack on Telegram early this morning.

As a result of the enemy attack, the building of the infrastructure object is on fire. The blast wave blew out windows in nearby houses.”

Kurtev said emergency services are on the scene and casualties are not yet known.

Zaporizhzhia administrative head Oleksandr Starukh posted an update to Telegram this morning, writing:

Tonight, the enemy once again launched a rocket attack on Zaporizhzhia. Its goal was the destruction of the industrial and energy infrastructure of the regional centre. As a result, a fire broke out. According to available data, there are no victims.”

5.58am GMT

Up to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed, Zelenskiy aide reveals

Ukraine’s armed forces have lost somewhere between 10,000 and 13,000 soldiers so far in the war against Russia, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told a Ukrainian television network on Thursday.

We have official figures from the general staff, we have official figures from the top command, and they amount to [between] 10,000 and 12,500 to 13,000 killed,” Podolyak told the Kanal 24 channel.

Zelenskiy would make the official data public “when the right moment comes”, he added.

Top US general Mark Milley last month said more than 100,000 Russian military personnel have been killed or wounded in Ukraine, with Kyiv’s forces likely suffering similar casualties.

Those figures - which could not be independently confirmed - are the most precise to date from the US government.

Updated at 6.16am GMT

5.50am GMT

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine . I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments as they unfold over the next few hours.

Ukraine’s armed forces have lost somewhere between 10,000 and 13,000 soldiers so far in the war against Russia, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told a local television network on Thursday.

Meanwhile Russian forces reportedly struck the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia overnight. City mayor Anatoly Kurtev announced the attack on Telegram early this morning. “As a result of the enemy attack, the building of the infrastructure object is on fire. The blast wave blew out windows in nearby houses,” he said.

For any updates or feedback you wish to share, please feel free to get in touch via email or Twitter .

If you have just joined us, here are all the latest developments:

  • US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron presented a united front on Ukraine with Biden saying he would talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin if he is willing to end the war and only in consultation with Nato allies. “I’m prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet,” Biden told a news conference at the White House with Macron on Thursday. Macron said he would continue to talk to Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results” such as the safety of nuclear plants.

  • Biden and Macron pledged to hold Russia accountable for “ widely documented atrocities and war crimes ” in Ukraine. Biden said their support would continue in the face of Russian aggression, which he added has been “incredibly brutal”. In a joint statement with Macron, the leaders said: “Intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.”

  • Russian rockets pounded neighbourhoods in Kherson knocking out power in the city where electricity had only begun to be restored nearly three weeks after Russian troops left. Local authorities said about two-thirds of Kherson had electricity as of Thursday night. Some residents congregated at the train station or at government-supported tents that provided heating, food, drinks and electricity to charge mobile phones.

  • Ukraine’s military said Russia had pulled some troops from towns on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River from Kherson city , the first official Ukrainian report of a Russian withdrawal on what is now the main frontline in the south. The statement gave only limited details and made no mention of any Ukrainian forces having crossed the Dnipro.

  • Kyiv’s mayor Vitaliy Klitschko told residents to stock up on water, food and warm clothes in the event of a total blackout caused by Russian strikes. Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Wednesday nine people had been killed in fires in the past 24 hours as people broke safety rules trying to heat their homes following Russian attacks on power facilities.

  • Ukraine’s armed forces have lost somewhere between 10,000 and 13,000 soldiers so far in the war against Russia , presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told a Ukrainian television network on Thursday. “We have official figures from the general staff, we have official figures from the top command, and they amount to (between) 10,000 and 12,500 to 13,000 killed,” Podolyak told the Kanal 24 channel.

  • More than 1,300 prisoners have been returned to Ukraine since Russian troops invaded, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday. Zelenskiy was speaking after a new exchange of 50 prisoners with Russian and pro-Russian forces. “After today’s exchange, there are already 1,319 heroes who returned home,” Zelenskiy said on Instagram, posting a photo showing a few dozen men holding Ukrainian flags.

  • EU members have tentatively agreed to a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, diplomats said on Thursday. Europe will begin enforcing an embargo on Russian crude shipments from Monday, so the price cap will apply to oil exported by sea by Moscow to ports around the world. Poland is left to give the final nod and Estonia is under pressure to abandon its threat to veto the cap that it believes is set too high to have an impact on the Russian war machine.

  • The head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, said it was too early reach a verdict on talks between Poland and Germany about sending the Patriot air-defence systems from Germany to Ukraine . “We all agree on the urgent need to help Ukraine, including with air defence systems,” Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference with German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

  • European Council President Charles Michel urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to use the country’s “influence” on Russia over its war in Ukraine during a visit to Beijing on Thursday. “I urged President Xi, as we did at our EU-China summit in April, to use his influence on Russia to respect the UN charter,” Michel said. President Xi made it clear that China is not providing weapons to Russia and that nuclear threats are not acceptable, the European Council president added

  • Spain has ordered increased security at government buildings and embassies after the discovery of letter bombs and incendiary devices , including one that exploded at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid on Wednesday and another that was detected at the US embassy on Thursday. Devices have also been sent to the prime minister, the defence ministry, an arms company that makes rocket launchers donated to Kyiv, and a military airbase near the Spanish capital.

  • Ukraine will move to impose limitations on religious organisations in the country which have links to Russia . “The National Security and Defence Council has instructed the government to propose to [parliament] a bill on proscribing activities in Ukraine by religious organisations affiliated with centres of influence in Russia,” Zelenskiy said in his latest national address on Thursday. “National security officials should intensify measures to identify and counteract the subversive activities of the Russian special services in the religious space in Ukraine.”

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An elderly woman looks at damage caused by overnight Russian shelling of a residential building on 1 December in Kherson, Ukraine. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Comments / 143

Something Clever
12-02

🖕Putin and the Russian regime. They invaded Ukraine in 2014, claimed they only wanted Crimea and if they got that there would be peace going forward. They’ve had mercenaries fighting inside the Donbas ever since always trying to carve off bigger and bigger pieces of Ukraine. They lie about their intentions and constantly break the treaties they signed. Slava Ukraini! 🇺🇸🇺🇦

Reply(1)
36
Neanderthal Chief
12-02

So Putin invades Ukraine 🇺🇦. Kills tens of thousands. Displaces 12 million Ukrainians. Destroys 50% of Ukraine’s infrastructure. And tells us Ukraine 🇺🇦 has no right to exist as a nation. What exactly would Zelensky discuss other than some form of surrender?

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21
Bill Armstrong
12-02

the US is not recognizing annexation? give me a break. the US is simply supporting Ukraines decision to not recognize what russia wants. Ukraine said, "Not one meter of Ukrainian soil will be annexed." The collective free world also will not recognize it either, what about them? Putin is just butt hurt like a prepubescent girl..

Reply
13

Comments / 0