Ukraine-Russia war – live: Belarus leader says Putin’s nuclear weapon shipment is complete as Kyiv downs planes

By Isaac M December 25, 2023

Kyiv suffers largest ever drone attack by Russia leaving five wounded

Russia has shipped nuclear weapons to Belarus in a move intended to deter what Minsk claims to be Polish aggression in the region.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said the shipments were completed in October, but did not give details of how many weapons were sent or where they have been deployed.

Mr Lukashenko claimed hosting Russian nuclear weapons was intended to deter aggression by neighbouring Nato member Poland.

Poland has given Kyiv military, economic and political support ever since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Polish ministry of defence was approached for comment.

It comes after Ukraine claimed it downed five Russian fighter jets in three days, which would be one of the biggest weekly losses for the Russian air force since the war began.

On Friday, the Ukrainian military claimed to have downed three Su-34 fighter-bombers. It then said it had destroyed two more on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is celebrating Christmas on 25 December for the first time in over 100 years in a historic break with Russian cultural traditions.


US welcomes Russia’s Navalny being located

The United States welcomed reports that jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny had been located but remained “deeply concerned” about his well-being, the U.S. State Department said, calling for his immediate release.

Navalny has been tracked down to a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle, his spokeswoman said on Monday, after supporters lost touch with him for more than two weeks.

Navalny’s allies had been preparing for his expected transfer to a “special regime” colony, the harshest grade in Russia’s prison system, and had said earlier he had not been seen by his lawyers since Dec. 6, raising alarm about his fate.


Alexander Butler25 December 2023 22:00


Russia Today host ‘poisioned’

Former Russia Today host Anton Krasovsky has been hospitalized after falling sick, he wrote on Telegram on 24 December Ukrainian media outlet Hromadske later said he had been poisoned, citing anonymous sources in Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) on 25 December.

The source did not comment on whether HUR was involved in the alleged poisoning. Krasovsky reported that his health began worsening early last week. HUR spokespeople did not respond to the Kyiv Independent’s requests to comment.

“In the beginning of the week I had a stomach ache, I started to feel sick, then fainted. I was taken to a clinic. I am gradually recovering,” Mr Krasovsky wrote in a post on Telegram.

Former Russia Today host Anton Krasovsky


Alexander Butler25 December 2023 21:00


Russian nuclear weapons shipped to Belarus, Minsk says

Russia has shipped nuclear weapons to Belarus in a move intended to deter what Minsk claims to be Polish aggression in the region.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said the shipments were completed in October, but did not give details of how many weapons were sent or where they have been deployed.

Mr Lukashenko claimed hosting Russian nuclear weapons was intended to deter aggression by neighbouring Nato member Poland.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said Russian nuclear weapons had been delivered to his country

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Alexander Butler25 December 2023 20:19


Ukraine proposes terminating Belarus free trade agreement

Ukraine’s government has proposed to parliament terminating a free trade agreement with Belarus, which supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022, cabinet minister Taras Melnychuk said.

The move to cancel the agreement was taken “in connection with a fundamental change of circumstances…. involvement of the Republic of Belarus in the illegal use of force against Ukraine”, he said on the Telegram messaging app.

The government proposes terminating the free trade agreement of December 1992 and two protocols related to the treaty. After Russia’s invasion, Ukraine suspended its trade relations with Minsk.

Belarus supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, right, supports Russia president Vladimir Putin, left


Alexander Butler25 December 2023 20:00


Grant Shapps: Ukraine celebrates Christmas with Britain

The UK defence minister has recognised Ukraine celebrating Christmas on 25 December in a move away from Russian cultural traditions.

“For the first time Ukraine celebrates Christmas with us on the 25 December. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians will spend Christmas away from family on the frontlines in a battle for freedom,” Grant Shapps said on X.

“But they are not alone. We’re standing with them today & everyday until victory,” he added. Ukraine has celebrated Christmas on 7 January, in line with the Julian calendar, since 1917. It is the first time Kyiv has celebrated Christmas on 25 December since then.

Alexander Butler25 December 2023 19:00


Russian cruise missile shot down over Ukraine

Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian Kh-59 cruise missile over the Kryvyi Rih district of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on 25 December, Ukraine’s Operational Command East said it had in a statement.

Ukraine’s Air Force announced the cruise missile was flying in Kryvyi Rih direction at 3.39pm local time. The air raid siren was over for the oblast seven minutes later.

Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Serhii Lysak later confirmed that the missile was shot down over the Kryvyi Rih district on Telegram.

Alexander Butler25 December 2023 18:00


Ukrainian refugees are arriving at UK airports with fake visas and false promises of a Homes for Ukraine sponsor family after being targeted by “extremely sophisticated” scams, charities have warned, Andy Gregory reports.

Charities told The Independent that they are dealing with increasing numbers of cases in which Ukrainians have been tricked into paying hundreds of pounds for letters giving them “permission to travel” to the UK and fake British visas, by criminals taking advantage of their desperation to leave.

The visas are impossible to identify as fraudulent by sight, meaning that Ukrainians are permitted to travel by airline staff, only to be told by Border Force that their documents are not valid, according to the charity Settled, which says it is now dealing with between one and five such cases each week.

Alexander Butler25 December 2023 17:00


Russian defence minister says country’s forces gain full control of Maryinka in east Ukraine

Russian forces have gained full control of Maryinka, a town in eastern Ukraine, news agencies cited Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Monday.

Most accounts of Maryinka, southwest of the Russian-held regional centre of Donetsk, describe it as a ghost town after once being home to 10,000 people.

Tara Cobham25 December 2023 16:00


Recap: Ukraine to suffer ‘insane’ losses if US stops aid, generals warn

There is a growing sense of alarm among Ukraine’s frontline forces at dwindling supplies of arms and ammunition and signs that the commitment of international partners is faltering, according to multiple senior Ukrainian military officials.

Ukraine’s military fears Vladimir Putin’s forces could break through its defensive lines and secure victory for Russia within days if the US does not commit to more aid, with intense fighting still taking place and hourly assaults targeting the key industrial town of Avdiivka, despite the onset of the country’s bitter winter.

“It is a very difficult situation, very difficult, but the guys from the defence forces are holding their ground,” says Vitaliy Barabash, the head of Avdiivka’s military administration, in an interview with The Independent.

Tara Cobham25 December 2023 15:00


Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Navalny located in penal colony 3 weeks after contact lost

Associates of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Monday that he has been located at a prison colony above the Arctic Circle nearly three weeks after contact with him was lost.

Navalny, the most prominent foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism. He had been imprisoned in the Vladimir region of central Russia, about 230 kilometers (140 miles) east of Moscow, but his lawyers said they had not been able to reach him since 6 December.

His spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said on X, formerly Twitter, that he was located in a prison colony in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenetsk region about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow.

The region is notorious for long and severe winters; the town is near Vorkuta, whose coal mines were among the harshest of the Soviet Gulag prison-camp system.

“It is almost impossible to get to this colony; it is almost impossible to even send letters there. This is the highest possible level of isolation from the world,” Navalny’s chief strategist, Leonid Volkov, said on X.

Transfers within Russia’s prison system are shrouded in secrecy and inmates can disappear from contact for several weeks. Navalny’s team was particularly alarmed when he could not be found because he had been ill and reportedly was being denied food and kept in an unventilated cell.

Supporters believed he was deliberately being hidden after Putin announced his candidacy in Russia’s March presidential election. While Putin’s reelection is all but certain, given his overwhelming control over the country’s political scene and a widening crackdown on dissent, Navalny’s supporters and other critics hope to use the campaign to erode public support for the Kremlin leader and his military action in Ukraine.

Navalny has been behind bars in Russia since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. Before his arrest, he campaigned against official corruption and organized major anti-Kremlin protests.

He has since received three prison terms and spent months in isolation in Penal Colony No. 6 for alleged minor infractions. He has rejected all charges against him as politically motivated.

Alexei Navalny has been behind bars in Russia since January 2021

(Getty Images)

Tara Cobham25 December 2023 14:07


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