Ukraine-Russia war – live: Putin’s forces bomb rail station as train set to evacuate Kherson residents

By Isaac M December 26, 2023

Kyiv suffers largest ever drone attack by Russia leaving five wounded

Russian forces shelled the railway station in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Tuesday as a train was set to evacuate residents, killing one policeman and injuring four people, interior minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Klymenko said about 140 civilians had been at the station in the early evening and quick action by police to direct them away saved many lives.

“Thanks to the clear actions of the police, everyone was successfully taken to safe places,” Mr Klymenko said on Telegram. “Unfortunately, a police lieutenant from the Kirovohrad region lost his life due to the shelling. … Two more police officers are in the hospital with shrapnel wounds.”

Two civilians were also being treated for shrapnel wounds.

Ukrainian railways said evacuees were taken from the station by bus northwest to the town of Mykolaiv, which has been subject to fewer Russian attacks. Delayed trains were rescheduled.

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Russian forces shell Kherson rail station, one policeman dead -Ukraine interior minister

Russian forces shelled the railway station in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Tuesday as a train was set to evacuate residents, killing one policeman and injuring four people, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Klymenko said about 140 civilians had been at the station in the early evening and quick action by police to direct them away saved many lives.

“Thanks to the clear actions of the police, everyone was successfully taken to safe places,” Klymenko said on Telegram. “Unfortunately, a police lieutenant from the Kirovohrad region lost his life due to the shelling. … Two more police officers are in the hospital with shrapnel wounds.”

Two civilians were also being treated for shrapnel wounds.

Kherson was captured by Russian forces in the first days of the February 2022 invasion but retaken by Ukrainian forces a little more than a year ago. It is under constant attack from Russian forces entrenched in new positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River, with shelling very heavy in recent days.

Video posted on social media showed debris and shattered building materials in different areas of the station.

Ukrainian railways said evacuees were taken from the station by bus northwest to the town of Mykolaiv, which has been subject to fewer Russian attacks. Delayed trains were rescheduled.

The general prosecutor’s office said Russian shelling had struck other infrastructure sites and dwellings in the city.

Roman Mrochko, head of Kherson’s military administration, had earlier reported a series of Russian attacks using different weapons. Four people were injured.

Matt Mathers26 December 2023 22:00

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Armenian leader travels to Russia despite tensions and promises economic bloc cooperation

Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose country’s relations with Russia grew tense this year, has said he will try to suppress politics obstructing regional integration when Armenia takes the rotating chairmanship of a Moscow-dominated economic alliance.

Armenia is to become the chairman country of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2024. The bloc, established in 2014, includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, along with Russia and Armenia, and encourages the free movement of goods and services.

In the past year, Mr Pashinyan has offended Russia by refusing to allow a Moscow-led security alliance to hold exercises in Armenia and by declining to attend an alliance summit.

Russia also was angered when Armenia joined the Treaty of Rome, which established the International Criminal Court that has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes for deportation of children during the war with Ukraine.

However, Mr Pashinyan attended a meeting of the union’s Supreme Council in St Petersburg on Monday.

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 21:05

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Explosions seen in Crimea port town as Ukrainian Air Force damages Russian ship

Footage shows explosions in Crimea as Ukrainian officials claimed responsibility for a massive air attack on the town of Feodosia early on Tuesday, reports my colleague Oliver Browning.

The airstrikes damaged Vladimir Putin’s fleet parked in the port area as powerful explosions rocked the region.

Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of Ukraine’s air force, shared a video of the attack on his official Telegram channel and stated that the assault destroyed a major Russian Navy vessel, the landing ship Novocherkask.

“And the fleet in Russia is getting smaller and smaller! Thanks to the Air Force pilots and everyone involved for the filigree work,” the top commander said.

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 20:18

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Russian warship ‘a total loss’ after strike by Ukraine

Ukraine has said it has destroyed a Russian warship in occupied Crimea, appearing to mark another successful attack on Vladimir Putin’s prized Black Sea fleet.

Thord Are Iversen, a defence analyst specialising in the Russian navy, said he believed the warship had been destroyed beyond repair.

He told The Independent: “I think whatever the Novocherkassk was loaded with, likely munitions of some sort, blew up following the missile hit and the ship is a total loss.”

A Ukrainian military official said the Novocherkassk, which was partially damaged in March 2022, had been used recently to transport weapons and soldiers to the Zaporizhzhia region, which is partly held by Russian forces. Satellite imagery showed the vessel arrived in Feodosia in September this year.

The attack is yet another high-point of a months-long missile assault on the Russian naval ports across Crimea that has forced the Black Sea Fleet to partially retreat.

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 19:34

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Full report: Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny breaks silence after disappearance

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has issued his first statement after going missing for nearly three weeks.

Mr Navalny disappeared shortly after Vladimir Putin announced his intention to run for a fifth presidential term in early December. On Christmas Day, his lawyers said they had tracked him down to one of Russia’s toughest prisons.

On Tuesday, the jailed critic made a series of bizarre posts on X, formerly Twitter, discussing the details of the past few weeks, during which many feared for his life.

Playing on the theme of being found on Christmas Day in a penal colony near the Arctic Circle, Mr Navalny began his statement by describing himself as the new Santa Claus.

My colleague Tom Watling has the full report:

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 18:47

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Watch: Explosions seen in Crimea port town as Ukraine air force damages Russian ship

Explosions seen in Crimea port town as Ukraine air force damages Russian ship

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 18:01

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Anti-war candidate barred from running against Putin lodges appeal

A former TV journalist who opposes Russia’s war in Ukraine and who was disqualified on Saturday as a candidate for Russia’s upcoming presidential election has lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Members of the central electoral commission voted unanimously to reject the candidacy of Yekaterina Duntsova, citing “numerous violations” in the papers she had submitted in support of her bid.

Speaking to Reuters after submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court, Duntsova – who is not well known across Russia and by her own admission commands a core support base of thousands in a country of over 140 million people – made it clear that she did not expect her appeal to be successful.

But the 40-year-old said she had been unfairly barred from taking part in a contest widely expected to be won by incumbent Vladimir Putin who has been in power as either president or prime minister for more than 20 years.

By not letting her run, she said the authorities had deprived some young Russians of a way of expressing their views within what is a tightly controlled political system.

That, she asserted, risked stoking apathy and a boycott of the March election by some voters.

Reuters26 December 2023 17:13

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How Ukrainian special forces secured a critical Dnipro River crossing in southern Ukraine

Their first battle plan was outdated the moment the dam crumbled. So the Ukrainian special forces officers spent six months adapting their fight to secure a crossing to the other side of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.

But it wasn’t enough just to cross the river. They needed backup to hold it. And for that, they needed proof that it could be done. For one of the officers, nicknamed Skif, that meant a Ukrainian flag — and a photo op.

Skif, Ukrainian shorthand for the nomadic Scythian people who founded an empire on what is now Crimea, moves like the camouflaged amphibian that he is: Calculating, deliberate, until the time to strike.

He is a Center 73 officer, one of Ukraine’s most elite units of special forces — water operations specialists, frontline scouts, drone operators, underwater saboteurs. They are part of the Special Operations Forces that run partisans in occupied territories, sneak into Russian barracks to plant bombs and prepare the ground for reclaiming territory seized by Russia.

Their mission on the more dynamic of the two main fronts in the six-month counteroffensive reflects many of the problems of Ukraine’s broader effort. It’s been one of the few counteroffensive successes for the Ukrainian army.

Mstyslav Chernov has the full report:

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 16:32

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Exclusive: Ukrainian refugees falling victim to ‘extremely sophisticated’ UK visa scam

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.

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.

Andy Gregory26 December 2023 15:48

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Ukraine’s top general criticises military draft offices in rare press conference

Ukraine’s top general has that he is not satisfied with the work of military draft offices that are responsible for mobilising troops to keep up the war effort against Russia.

Ukrainian army chief General Valeriy Zaluzhny spoke at his first wartime news conference a day after Ukraine‘s parliament published the text of a draft law containing reforms to the army draft programme, including lowering the age of men who can be mobilised to 25 from 27.

The bill’s publication sparked controversy on social media, which appeared to be the prompt for the typically publicity-shy general into a rare effort to speak to the media.

“I am not currently satisfied with the work of the (draft offices),” he said.

The reforms are highly sensitive for a weary population in the midst of a 22-month-old war, which has no end in sight. Last week, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the military had proposed mobilising an additional 450,000-500,000 people into the army.

Ukrainian army chief General Valeriy Zaluzhny said he was unsatisfied with military draft officers

(AFP via Getty Images)

Tom Watling26 December 2023 15:00

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