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Ukraine news – live: Russia ‘has proof’ of UK involvement in Black Sea drone strike

UK brushes off allegations as ‘invented story’

Arpan Rai,Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Friday 04 November 2022 16:55 GMT
Russian conscripts protest over pay at military base in Ulyanovsk

Moscow has claimed it will publish proof that British specialist troops were involved in a drone attack over the weekend on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

It comes as the Ministry of Defence dismissed Russia’s allegation as an “invented story” which says “more about arguments going on inside the Russian government than it does about the West”.

Andrei Kelin, the Russian ambassador to the UK, said it will publish its evidence “pretty soon”, adding that the UK is in “too deep” with its Ukrainian involvement.

He told Sky News: “We perfectly know about participation of British specialists in training, preparation and execution of plans against the Russian infrastructure and the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. We know that it has been done,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official has suggested that Russia’s decision to withdraw troops from the west bank of the Dnipro river in Kherson could be a trap as Moscow prepares the settlements for street battles.


Pentagon, U.S. arms makers to talk Russia, labor and supply chain

Pentagon leaders plan to meet with defense industry executives next week to discuss ways to tackle supply-chain problems, a U.S. official told Reuters, amid an expected surge in demand for weapons from U.S. allies due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kath Hicks will host a classified meeting with top U.S. defense contractors to discuss the National Defense Strategy, securing supply chains and shoring up the defense industrial base, including workforce challenges, spokesperson Eric Pahon told Reuters earlier this week.

Concern among Pentagon officials is growing that top U.S. defense suppliers will struggle with a surge in orders for weapons from European nations like Germany and Poland, amid growing fears of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in the region.

Prior meetings between Pentagon officials and top arms makers including Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Technologies Corp and General Dynamics Corp were focused on Ukraine and hypersonic weapon development.

Despite global interest in weapons, major U.S. arms makers continue to cite a tight labor market and lingering supply-chain problems from the coronavirus pandemic to tamp down expectations about how quickly they will be able to deliver on those expected orders.

“We have heard the concerns from industry regarding supply-chain challenges and workforce issues and we share them,” the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer Bill LaPlante told Reuters in a statement.

Pandemic related supply-chain issues are still hurting defense contractors because components and materials fail to arrive on time, which delays production and ultimately payment.

The Pentagon plans $500 million in workforce training and retention programs coupled with over $2 billion in supply-chain investments in the coming years as part of an effort to tackle the problems.

But Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine has prompted countries like the United States and Germany to raise their defense spending budgets to record levels.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 13:38

Finnish president optimistic Turkey will ratify Nato bid

Finnish president Sauli Niinisto is optimistic Turkey will ratify Finland’s application to join Nato, he told reporters on Friday.

“I’m optimistic that at the end Turkey will ratify our membership, I hope it takes place as soon as possible,” Niinisto told a joint news conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Vilnius.

Finland and neighbouring Sweden applied for membership of the defence alliance after Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.

The process has been prolonged by negotiations between Finland, Sweden and Turkey after Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan claimed the Nordic countries support groups Turkey deems terrorists.

Niinisto repeated his stance that Finland and Sweden joining together would benefit the whole alliance.

“It’s very important to walk hand in hand with Sweden ... Swedish membership is important for all of us,” he said.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is currently in Turkey and will meet with Erdogan on Friday while Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson is due to travel to Ankara on Nov. 8.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 13:23

Poland, Lithuania analysing Ukrainian troop training, says general

Poland and Lithuania are looking at how to maintain the training of Ukrainian troops through what they expect to be a tough winter, a general was quoted as saying on Friday, as the nations signed an agreement to deepen defence cooperation.

“The Russians are... preparing for the next phase, so we are considering how to maintain the training rhythm of the Ukrainian army at various levels, integration, logistics,” General Rajmund Andrzejczak, chief of the general staff of the Polish Armed Forces, was quoted as saying by state-run news agency PAP.

Andrzejczak was speaking in Vilnius at the signing of an agreement on defence cooperation and intelligence sharing between Poland and Lithuania, PAP reported.

“The agreement contains concrete guidelines on the exchange of intelligence information in all dimensions,” Lithuania’s Chief of Defence General Valdemaras Rupsys was quoted as saying.

Poland is already serving as a site for training Ukrainian troops.

The European Union agreed in October to set up the Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine), and appointing Polish general Piotr Trytek to lead training that will mostly take place in Poland.

Meanwhile, Canada said in October it would send 40 more combat engineers to help support Polish efforts to train Ukrainian forces.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 13:06

Japan to keep stake in Russian energy project in Sakhalin

A Japanese consortium has decided to retain its stake in the new Russian operator of the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project and is set to notify Moscow, moving to secure stable energy supplies for resource-scarce Japan.

“It’s an extremely important project,” Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Friday in welcoming the unanimous decision by the shareholders in Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development Co., or SODECO, a consortium of Japanese companies holding a 30% stake in Sakhalin-1 in Russia‘s Far East.

Nishimura said SODECO was expected to notify the Russian operator of its decision by Nov. 11, meeting a deadline set by Russia. The government will do its utmost to ensure Japan’s energy security by working closely with the private sector, he said.

The decision by SODECO shareholders Friday came days after Nishimura met with consortium executives asking them to keep their stake in the Russian project.

Many major Western energy companies have withdrawn from projects in Russia due to the war in Ukraine. Japanese officials maintain that oil and gas from Sakhalin is vital for the country’s energy security.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 12:47

Germany's Scholz urges Xi to exert influence on Russia

In a much-scrutinised meeting Friday with president Xi Jinping in Beijing, German chancellor Olaf Scholz urged China to exert its influence on Russia, while the Chinese leader repeated a call for talks between Moscow and Ukraine and warned against the conflict going nuclear.

Scholz is in Beijing for a one-day visit that has drawn criticism over China’s tacit support for Russia, lingering controversies over economic ties and human rights issues, as well as the timing of the trip.

It comes after Xi further cemented his authoritarian rule at a major Communist Party congress last month and as China continues to refuse to criticize Russia.

“At present, the international situation is complex and changeable,” Xi was quoted as telling Scholz by state broadcaster CCTV. “As influential powers, China and Germany should work together in times of change and chaos to make more contributions to world peace and development.”

On Ukraine, Xi “pointed out that China supports Germany and the EU in playing an important role in promoting peace talks and promoting the building of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” CCTV reported.

That was apparently a nod to Russia‘s anger over NATO’s eastern expansion, largely a result of Moscow’s increasingly belligerent policies toward its neighbors.

The international community should “create conditions for the resumption of negotiations (and) jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons,” Xi said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 12:18

Putin signs mobilisation law for people who have committed serious crimes

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing the mobilisation of people who have committed serious crimes, RIA news agency said on Friday.

The law excludes those convicted of child sex abuse, treason, spying or terrorism, RIA said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 11:57

Putin says civilians in Ukraine's Kherson should be evacuated

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Friday that civilians in the Ukrainian region of Kherson which Russia declared it had annexed in September must be evacuated from the conflict zone, state-owned news agency RIA reported.

RIA quoted Putin as saying during a meeting with pro-Kremlin activists: “Now, of course, those who live in Kherson should be removed from the zone of the most dangerous actions, because the civilian population should not suffer.”

Russian-installed officials in Kherson region, one of four Ukrainian provinces that Putin declared part of Russia at a Kremlin ceremony in September, have pleaded for civilians to leave the region’s west, where Ukrainian forces have retaken ground in recent weeks.

On Thursday, Kherson’s Russian-appointed deputy governor Kirill Stremousov issued several video appeals for civilians to leave the part of the province on the west bank of the Dnipro river. He said that

Russian forces would likely soon give up the west bank of the Dnipro to Ukraine.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 11:39

In pictures:

Photos from Makiivka in eastern Ukraine show a destroyed building following shelling by Ukrainian forces.

Rescuers, left, work at a site of a damaged apartment building after shelling by Ukrainian forces in Makiivka, Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine (AP)
A covered lifeless body lies next to a damaged car after shelling by Ukrainian forces in Makiivka, Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine (AP)
Investigators inspect a site of an apartment building after shelling by Ukrainian forces in Makiivka, Donetsk People's Republic, (AP)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 11:20

Russia ‘withdrawal’ from Kherson city could be a trap, says Ukraine

A Ukrainian official has called Russia’s move to withdraw troops from the west bank of the Dnipro river in Kherson a trap and said it was making the settlements appear safer but setting them up as a pretext for street battles.

“This could be a manifestation of a particular provocation, in order to create the impression that the settlements are abandoned, that it is safe to enter them, while they are preparing for street battles,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, said in televised remarks.

This comes a day after a Russian-backed official in southern Ukraine’s Kherson city – one of the four cities captured by Moscow in an illegal referendum last month – said Russia’s soldiers will be leaving the critical riverside area which has served as a ground for Moscow’s military unit.

Arpan Rai has more:

Russia ‘withdrawal’ from Kherson city could be a trap, says Ukraine

No immediate confirmation of a military retreat from Moscow in Kherson

Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 11:13

Erdogan and Putin agree Russian grains should go to poor African countries for free

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that he had agreed with counterpart Vladimir Putin that Russian grains sent under the Black Sea export deal should go to poor African countries for free.

“In my phone call with Vladimir Putin, he said ‘Let’s send this grain to countries such as Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan for free’ - and we agreed,” Erdogan said in a speech to businesspeople in Istanbul.

The comment came after Moscow resumed on Wednesday its participation in the U.N. and Turkey-brokered grain agreement, ending four days of non-cooperation that still saw exports continue from Ukrainian ports.

Earlier this week, Putin said even if Russia withdrew from the deal again, it would substitute the entire volume of grain destined for the “poorest countries” for free from its own stocks.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan (AP)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain4 November 2022 11:06

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