Ukraine LIVE: Breakthrough with Russia as two nations look to avoid nuclear disaster

Aleks Phillips

Zelensky refuses pressure for peace talks

Volodymyr Zelensky has stressed that he is not willing to sue for peace with Russia, as nine months into the war such a move would be ultimately destructive for the nation.

The Ukrainian President confirmed in an interview with Czech television that some countries were trying to pressure him into a compromise with Putin. He said: “I will not put myself under pressure, we have seen something like this before.”

Andreas Umland, of the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies, told German outlet RND that such a move would likely result in a civil war in Ukraine, adding: “A large part of the population has suffered so much from the war that it is not willing to make concessions to Russia.”

The timing of Russia’s demands for peace talks – in a war that it started – is uncanny, coming after Ukraine has taken back around half the territory Putin’s military occupied as well as its retreat from Kherson, the only regional capital it was able to assume control of.

Alexander Dubowy, an expert in eastern Europe and Russia, commented: “Russia’s offers of negotiations are Putin’s attempt to get out of the war in Ukraine as advantageouly as possible.”

He added: “Basically, Russia wants to force a dictatorial peace in which Ukraine accepts all Russian demands as well as agreeing to the cession of the territories quasi-annexed by Russia.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

Aleks Phillips

One child dead, two others injured in Kherson

One teenager has died and two others were left with life-changing injuries in Kherson following Russian attacks yesterday.

Ukrainian officials confirmed that last night, a 13-year-old boy had died of his wounds in a regional hospital due to Russian shelling. Another boy was left without an arm, while a further child was left wounded in his stomach. A 73-year-old man also died.

Aleks Phillips

Ukrainian military warns of false flag ‘terror’ attack on Belarus

The Ukrainian armed forces has warned that Russia is “preparing to carry out terrorist attacks on criticial infrastructure facilities” in Belarus in a bid to “drag the country into war”, officials have said.

Belarus has been the sole supporter of Putin through the invasion of its neighbour, and is believed to have aided the Russian military while remaining officially neutral in the conflict. Earlier this year, it was rumoured that the Kremlin was lobbying its President Alexander Lukashenko to join the invasion as part of a coalition in a vain attempt to give the war legitimacy.

Ukraine’s military command has called on Belarusians to monitor potential suspicious people and vehicles near their infrastructure, and inform the world if the authorities do not take action.

Aleks Phillips

Poland tells Germany to give Patriot system to Ukraine

Poland has told Germany that its offer of a air defence system should be instead given to Ukraine following yesterday’s barrage. Berlin had offered Poland a Patriot missile system, to be installed on its border with Ukraine following what is believed to be an errant missile killed two in a Polish village.

Mariusz Blaszczak, the Polish defence minister, had initially received Germany’s offer with “satisfaction”. But the fresh wave of rockets to hit population centres across Ukraine has made its Government think otherwise.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland’s ruling party, said he believed “it would be best for Poland’s security if Germany handed the equipment to the Ukrainians, trained Ukrainian teams, with the caveat that the batteries would be placed in Ukraine’s west”.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Warsaw, Vasyl Zvarych, thanked Mr Blaszczak for his suggestion, saying his country needs as many air defense weapons as it can get.

Aleks Phillips

70 percent of Kyiv still without power

Roughly 70 percent of Kyiv is still without power this morning, following a blitz of missile strikes on the capital’s energy infrastructure yesterday afternoon.

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of the capital, said that “power engineers are doing their best to get [electricity] back as soon as possible”, adding that the city’s water supply has been restored in about half of Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region, said “an optimistic scenario” suggested that electricity will come back to residents of his central region on Thursday.

He wrote: “In the next few hours, we will start supplying energy to critical infrastructure, and then to the majority of household consumers”, noting that power had already been restored for 15,500 people.

Aleks Phillips

MoD: Russia redeploys air forces to eastern front

Russia has redeployed large parts of its air forces to its front lines in the eastern Donbas region after pulling out of Kherson at the start of the month, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In an intelligence update this morning, it said that over the past few months, the majority of the “severely weakened” units had been dedicated to defending its hold on the southern port city and the territories it occupied to the west.

Russia has been unable to secure air supremacy over Ukraine thoughout the war, thanks to Ukraine’s growing air defences, despite having the much larger air force. It has also faced sabotage attacks on its bases in Crimea, from which its Black Sea fleet and Navy aircraft operate.

The MoD added that some air units “have likely been reinforced with mobilised reservists”, who are “poorly trained” and “will dilute [the airforce’s] supposedly elite capacity”.

Some air units ‘have likely been reinforced with mobilised reservists’ who are ‘poorly trained’ (Image: MoD)

Aleks Phillips

Russia batters Kherson, Ukraine eyes Crimea

Two weeks after a humiliating retreating from Kherson, Russia is pounding the newly-liberated port city with artillery as it digs in along defensive lines across the Dnipro River.

Ukraine is striking back at Russian troops with its own long-distance weapons, and Ukrainian officers say they want to capitalise on their current momentum, despite fighting being expected to slow in the bitter cold winter months.

The Russian withdrawal from the only provincial capital it gained in nine months of war was one of Vladimir Putin’s most significant defeats. The Ukrainian armed forces believe it is planning its next move, giving the advancing forces a need to act swiftly.

Ukraine is now able to strike deeper into Russian-controlled territory thanks to the supply of long-range weapons, opening the possibility of pushing toward Crimea – which has been in Russian hands since 2014, but that Mr Zelensky has set his sights on. Earlier in the week, it emerged that Ukrainian armed forces were looking to flush occupying forces from Kinburn Spit on the mouth of the Dnipro, securing the shipping route for grain and giving them a hold on the southern side of the river.

Russia is continuing to establish fortifications, including trenches, along its front line, suggesting it is preparing for fresh waves of counter-offensives.

Mick Ryan, a former Australian Major General and military strategist, said: “The armed forces of Ukraine seized the initiative in this war some time ago. They have momentum. There is no way that they will want to waste that.”

However, the same tactical advantage that pushed Russia into retreat in Kherson may now serve as a roadblock to further Ukrainian advances. River crossings have been blown up by both sides, and pushing across the natural boundary would require complex logistics, analysts say.

Aleks Phillips

Key headlines this morning

• Zelensky has requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss yesterday’s strikes

• Heart surgeons in Kyiv operated on a child in darkness due to the ongoing blackout last night

• Moldova, which is connected through a Soviet-era power grid to Ukraine, has been able to restore electricity supply

Aleks Phillips

Death toll rises from Kyiv strikes

Three people were killed and 11 wounded in a strike in Kyiv, city authorities said last night. Another four people were killed and 35 wounded in the wider Kyiv region, according to its governor.

Ukraine’s Air Force said Russia launched around 70 cruise missiles, of which 51 were shot down, as were five exploding drones. The afternoon timing of the barrage — as was also the case last week — left workers toiling into the winter darkness to restore supplies.

In Kyiv, a city of 3 million, the administration said water and heating would only return to residential buildings this morning. Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska wrote: “Horrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive.”

Aleks Phillips

‘Increasingly precarious’ situation at Europe’s largest nuclear plant

The latest Russian blitz on Ukraine has left the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in an “increasingly precarious and challenging” situation, Rafael Grossi, the UN’s atomic energy chief has said. The plant was subject to shelling over the weekend, and following strikes on Ukraine’s power grid yesterday, was forced to rely on backup diesel generators to avoid a meltdown.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement: “Reactors need power for cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions also when they are in shutdown mode and do not produce electricity anymore.

“In the case of an external power loss, they have emergency diesel generators that can provide back-up electricity for a limited period of time, at least for 10 days in the case of the ZNPP.”

Aleks Phillips

Zelensky vows to hit back at ‘terrorist state’ Russia

Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine “will not be scared” by the “cowardly, inhumane terrorist attacks” on the part of Russia, which he once again branded “war criminals” following a barrage of attacks on civilian infrastructure and residential buildings. Air raid alerts across the embattled nation were triggered yesterday by a wave of fresh missiles which knocked out power to many cities, including Kyiv, as well as Moldova.

The bombing campaign against is widely believed to be designed to brutalise the Ukrainian people with a lack of water, heat and electricity as winter begins to bite. Yesterday’s attacks left the capital without water and power, and forced the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in a “precarious” position, having to rely on backup diesel generators to avoid a meltdown.

The Ukrainian President also thanked his US counterpart for “standing with Ukraine” and responding with a new defence package which he said will “allow us to save lives and continue our fight”.

Marking the anniversary of Holodomor – the enforced Ukrainian famine under Soviet rule – Joe Biden reaffirmed America’s “steadfast commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty” and honoured “the brave Ukrainian people who continue to courageously resist Russia’s assault on their democracy”.

Aleks Phillips

Good morning

I’m Aleks Phillips and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine this morning.