Latest news on Russia and war in Ukraine

Russia is unnecessarily strengthening defenses in Belgorod, UK says

The UK Ministry of Defense said Russia’s decision to expand defense positions along its international border with Ukraine and deep into the Belgorod border region reflected a mistaken belief that Ukraine might try to invade Russia.

A view of damaged structures in Belgorod, Russia, after the alleged attacks, seen on November 6, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The United Kingdom has suggested in its latest intelligence that the recent strengthening of Belgorod’s defenses may be a desire by the Russian authorities to promote the baseless idea that Ukraine could be invaded.

“There is a real possibility that the Russian authorities are promoting defense preparations in internationally recognized Russian territory in order to aggravate patriotic feelings. However, this may illustrate the genuine (but misguided) belief of some Russian decision-makers that there is a credible threat of Russian invasion. Ukrainian forces,” the United Kingdom announced.

“The lack of strategic assessment is one of the critical weaknesses of Russia’s central government architecture: as highlighted by Russia’s initial decision to invade Ukraine,” it said, adding: “Biased official analysis is almost certainly often undermined by a tendency toward groupthink and politically expedient conclusions.”

In its latest intelligence update, the ministry noted that trench digging has been reported in Belgorod since at least April, “but the new structures are likely to be more sophisticated systems designed to repel mechanized attacks.” In addition, the governor of Belgorod announced on Tuesday that he was forming local “self-defense units”.

Russia has accused Ukrainian forces of shelling Belgorod and other border regions repeatedly during the war, killing several civilians. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the incidents on Russian territory and at one point accused Russia of staging the attack to fuel anti-Ukraine sentiment.

— Holly Elliott

Belarus to move military equipment and personnel to test “terrorist” response

A Ukrainian border guard with a monocle will spy on Ukraine’s border with Russia and Belarus in November. The Ukrainian army has expressed concern about the “increasing threat” of the Russian offensive through Belarus.

Sergej Supinski | Afp | Getty Images

Belarus is moving military equipment and its security forces on Wednesday and Thursday to test its response to possible “terrorist” attacks.

The state news agency BelTA referred to the information provided by the State Security Council that during the inspections, the movement of citizens on certain public roads will be temporarily restricted, and also indicated that it is planned to use imitation weapons for training purposes.

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Any military activity by Belarus in Ukraine is closely watched for signs that its forces might join the war and help its ally Russia. Belarus does not appear to want to go to war with Russia in Ukraine, but it does hold joint military exercises with Russia and has a joint unit with its neighbor.

— Holly Elliott

Pro-Russian officials say conditions are ripe for Bakhmut’s capture

Pro-Russian official Denis Pushylin, the acting leader of the separatist “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine, has claimed that Russian forces could soon be in the region, which is now arguably the most heavily fought in Ukraine’s war. position to advance and capture Bahmut.

Deniss Pushilins (C), the separatist leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), arrives for a press conference in Donetsk on April 11, 2022.

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

Pushilin told the TASS news agency that the “liberation” of Mayorsk, near Horlivka, just south of Bakhmut, “set the stage for the advance on Dzerzhinsk. [known as ‘Toretsk’ in Ukrainian] and the subsequent siege of Artemovska” — the Russian name for Bakhmut.

He said units of Russia’s state-sanctioned private military company Wagner Group were working in Bakhmut and were seeing “some success,” echoing comments by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Tuesday there were several settlements near Bakhmut. had come under the control of the Russian armed forces.

The fighting in Donetsk has turned into bloody trench warfare in recent months, with fierce battles for every mile of territory and settlement around Bakhmut.

Russia is believed to be targeting the city as a key target, believing that its capture would allow it to cut Ukrainian supply lines and allow its forces to advance towards Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, north of Bakhmut.

CNBC could not verify Pushilin’s claims. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on Wednesday morning that Russian forces continue to focus their forces on “conducting offensive operations” in the vicinity of Bakhmut.

It is not the first time that Pushilin claims that Bakhmut is close to encirclement, as he said the same thing last week. Ukraine strongly denies that it is even close to being partially encircled, with one official telling CNBC that Russia is experiencing massive personnel losses and little gains in the area, although the official acknowledged that the fighting has been intense.

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— Holly Elliott

Blinken says the US neither encourages nor allows Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russia

US Secretary of State Blinken attends the Freedom of Speech Roundtable in New York, US on September 19, 2022.

Craig Ruttle | Reuters

The United States has neither encouraged nor allowed Ukrainians to carry out strikes inside Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, but reiterated Washington’s determination to provide Kiev with the equipment it needs to defend itself.

A third Russian airfield was in flames from a drone strike a day after Ukraine demonstrated an apparently new ability to penetrate hundreds of miles (km) into Russian airspace by attacking two Russian air force bases. Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility for the strikes, but celebrated them.

— Reuters

The UN, the US and Russia accuse each other of not being interested in the Ukraine talks

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebentsia, addresses reporters regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York, the United States, on April 4, 2022.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

The United States and Russia have accused each other of being disinterested in Ukraine peace talks, amid growing UN calls for a ceasefire and diplomacy to end the war that began nine months ago when Moscow invaded.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told a UN Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine that Moscow had taken into account the interest of a “significant majority” of UN member states in a diplomatic settlement.

“We react to this very seriously. We express our willingness to negotiate,” he said, but added that the aim would be to “eliminate the root causes that led us to launch our Special Military Operation (SMO).

— Reuters

Turkey says Finland must end arms embargo to join NATO

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlit Çavuşoğlu speaks at a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 3, 2022.

Shadati | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Finland must announce publicly that it is lifting the arms embargo on Turkey in order to win Ankara’s agreement to NATO membership, Turkey’s foreign minister said.

Mevlit Çavuşoğlu made the comments ahead of a visit by Finnish Defense Minister Enti Kaikonen, who will discuss his country’s bid to join the military alliance with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday.

“The visit of the Finnish defense minister to Turkey is important because we have not yet heard a statement from Finland saying that they have lifted their arms embargo against us,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters. “We are waiting for such an announcement from there.”

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Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policy of military non-alignment and applied to join the alliance after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February amid concerns that Russia might target them.

— Associated Press

Hungary vetoes 18 billion euro EU aid package for Ukraine

Hungary vetoed an 18 billion euro ($18.9 billion) EU aid package for Ukraine, meaning it cannot go ahead and the European Commission will have to find other ways to continue helping Ukraine until 2023.

“Orbán is going full escalation,” a Green Party MP tweeted in response to the news.

The move is seen as a way for Hungarian President Viktor Orban, a longtime Putin ally, to force the EU to give Hungary its share of recovery funds, some of which have been blocked by the EU due to violations of the bloc’s laws.

The European Commission will now look at ways to “provide the necessary solution for Ukraine as early as January,” EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn said.

Czech Finance Minister Zbinek Stanjura said he had asked his EU colleagues to work on a “solution supported by 26 member states” that could bypass Hungary’s veto.

“We could not accept the package as a whole, but we will not be discouraged,” Stanjura said. “Our ambition remains that we will start payments to Ukraine in January.”

– Natasha Turak

The Kremlin says there is no chance of peace talks with Ukraine at this time

Moscow says it agrees with the US that Ukraine needs a long-term peace, but it sees no prospects for talks in that direction at the moment.

“It can be agreed that the outcome should be a just and lasting peace,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the press, referring to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remarks on Monday. Blinken said the war in Ukraine “will almost certainly end with diplomacy” and that a “just and lasting peace” was essential.

“But as for the prospects of some kind of talks, we don’t see them at the moment,” Peskov said.

He added that for the talks to take place, Russia would have to complete the objectives of its “special military operation”, which the Kremlin has used since February to describe its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

– Natasha Turak

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