Thu, 07 Dec 2023

US supplies of long-range ATACMS missiles and Abrams tanks to Ukraine will not change the situation on the battlefield, the Kremlin warned on Tuesday, hours after the latest wave of Russian drones hit Ukraine's Danube river port of Izmail, damaging grain-exporting facilities. Follow our live blog for the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

12:45pm: Russian Black Sea commander shown working after Ukraine said it killed him in missile attack

Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and one of Russia's most senior navy officers, has been pictured attending a video conference, a day after Ukrainian special forces said they had killed him.

In a photograph released by the Russian defence ministry, Sokolov was shown apparently taking part in a video conference with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top admirals and army chiefs.

Ukraine's special forces said on Monday they had killed Sokolov, Moscow's top admiral in Crimea, along with 33 other officers in a missile attack last week on the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol.

12:30pm: Russia says US Abrams tanks for Ukraine won't change battlefield situation

US supplies of long-range ATACMS missiles and Abrams tanks to Ukraine will not change the situation on the battlefield, the Kremlin has warned.

Kyiv announced Monday it had received deliveries of the US Abrams battle tank, boosting its forces as they seek to break through heavily-fortified Russian defensive lines.

"All this can in no way affect the essence of the special military operation, its outcome," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a briefing. "There is no panacea, no single weapon that can change the balance of power on the battlefield."

Repeating a talking point the Kremlin has used about Western weapons, he said: "They too will burn."

12:10pm: Turkey will back Sweden's NATO bid if US keeps promise on F-16 sale, Erdogan says

Turkey's parliament will keep its promise to ratify Sweden's NATO bid if US President Joe Biden's administration paves the way for F-16 jet sales to Ankara, President Tayyip Erdogan has said in remarks carried by Turkish media.

Speaking to reporters on his flight back from Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhchivan, Erdogan said that Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Sweden's NATO membership bid last week in New York.

The US administration is linking F-16 fighter jet sales to Turkey with Ankara's ratification of Sweden's bid, Erdogan said.

"If they (the US) keep their promises, our parliament will keep its own promise as well. Turkish parliament will have the final say on Sweden's NATO membership," he said.

11:50am: Romania plans to buy 32 planes for $6.5 billion under F-35 deal

Romania plans to buy 32 latest-generation F-35 fighter planes from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, for $6.5 billion, the defence ministry has announced.

The European Union and NATO member has raised defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product this year from 2%, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Romania shares a 650-km (400 mile) border with Ukraine, and has seen the conflict approach its borders as Moscow has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian ports across the River Danube.

Last year it agreed to buy 32 second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Norway, to add to 17 acquired from Portugal since 2016.

10:40am: Russian villages lose power after Ukraine drone strike

Several villages in Russia's Kursk region bordering Ukraine lost power this morning after a Ukrainian drone dropped explosives on an electricity substation, the region's governor has said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Russian regions bordering Ukraine have repeatedly accused Kyiv's forces of attacking civilian infrastructure, including the power grid.

"In the morning, a Ukrainian drone dropped an explosive device on an electricity substation in the village of Snagost in Korenevsky District. Seven settlements were left without power," Kursk Governor Roman Starovoit said.

"None of the residents were injured. Emergency crews will start restoring power as soon as the situation allows," he added.

10:23am: Cargo vessel sets off from Ukrainian Black Sea port

A cargo vessel set off from a Ukrainian Black Sea port this morning, in defiance of Russian threats to attack merchant vessels, an industry source has told Reuters, without providing further details.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said last week that three cargo ships were heading towards Ukrainian Black Sea ports for food and steel exports.

The country has established a new temporary "humanitarian corridor" hugging the coastline since Moscow quit a deal in July that had enabled safe Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea.

10:15am: Polish experts confirm missile that hit grain facility in 2022 was Ukrainian

Polish experts have confirmed that the missile that killed two people at a grain facility in southern Poland in November was fired by Ukraine, Rzeczpospolita daily reports.

The explosion of the missile in NATO-member Poland fuelled fears that the war in Ukraine could spiral into a wider conflict by triggering the alliance's mutual defence clause - but at the time Warsaw and NATO said that they believed that it was a Ukrainian stray, easing worries about escalation.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation told Rzeczpospolita that Poland had established that the missile that landed in the village of Przewodow was an S 300 5-W-55 air-defence missile fired from Ukrainian territory.

"This rocket has a range of 75 km to 90 km," the newspaper cited a source as saying. "At that time, the Russian positions were in a place from which no Russian missile could reach Przewodow."

8:50am: Attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet aimed at thwarting Navy strikes on Ukraine

Ukraine says the missile strike that blasted the Crimean headquarters of Russia's navy last week killed 34 officers, including the fleet commander.

While Kyiv has provided no evidence to support its claim, the brazen attack has struck at the heart of a naval force that plays a key role in bombing Ukraine and impeding its grain exports.

FRANCE 24's Kyiv correspondent Gulliver Cragg has the details.

8:05am: Russian air strike damages Ukraine's Izmail port

The overnight Russian air strike on Izmail's grain exporting port has injured two people and damaged infrastructure, the governor of the Odesa region has said in a social media post.

A port building, storage facilities and more than 30 trucks and cars were damaged in the attack, which lasted more than two hours, Oleh Kiper said on the Telegram messaging app.

Separately, a Russian missile strike also damaged a local enterprise in the southern Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, Mayor Oleksandr Vilkul said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

7:15am: Ukraine says 26 of 38 Russian drones downed overnight

Russia attacked Ukraine with 38 drones overnight, Ukraine's air force has said, adding that the grain-exporting Danube river port of Izmail was hit again.

"The launches of 38 Shahed-136/131 strike unmanned aerial vehicles" were recorded, the air force said on the messaging platform Telegram, adding that Ukrainian defence forces "destroyed 26".

4:17am: Russia shoots down missile over Crimea

Russian air defences shot down a missile over Crimea late on Monday, said the Moscow-installed head of Sevastopol city in the Russian-annexed Black Sea peninsula.

Ukraine has targeted Crimea throughout Russia's offensive but attacks on military installations there have recently intensified as Kyiv vows to recapture the peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

"Our military is repelling a missile attack. According to preliminary data, air defence shot down one missile near the Belbek airfield. Work continues," Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on the messaging platform Telegram.

Key developments from Monday, September 25:

Ukrainian officials claimed on Monday that Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, was killed in last week's attack targeting a meeting of the Russian Navy leadership in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

The claim came as President Volodymyr Zelensky said his army has taken delivery of US Abrams battle tanks, boosting Kyiv's forces in their slow-moving counteroffensive against Russian troops.

Earlier, Ukraine said a Russian overnight strike had caused "significant damage" to port infrastructure in Odesa and destroyed some grain storage facilities.

Read yesterday's live blog to see how the day's events unfolded.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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