Ukraine-Russia war – live: Frontline city facing ‘critical’ Kremlin attack as Putin wants political prize

By Isaac M February 7, 2024

Moment Russian plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war appears to crash

Ukrainian soldiers holed out in a key eastern city on the frontline, surrounded on three sides, are facing a “very difficult” challenge to defend their positions, a Ukrainian official has said.

Following reports that Russian forces had advanced into the northeast outskirts of Avdiivka, a key city in Donetsk Oblast, the Ukrainian head of the city’s military administration hinted that they have lost control of the situation.

“The situation is very difficult, very tense,” Vitalii Barabash said. “We could say that a few weeks ago, the situation was difficult but (still) under control.”

On Monday, veteran Ukrainian war journalist Andriy Tsaplienko described the situation as “critical”.

“[Russian forces] are hundreds of metres away from the main logistical artery of the Ukrainian defenders,” he said. “The situation is critical.”

Avdiivka, a small city known for its coke plant, has been a flashpoint on the frontline since last October, when Russia launched a costly, mechanised assault.

Military analysts have told The Independent that their renewed attempts to take the city are likely a push to give Vladimir Putin something to show off when he is re-elected in March.

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Former Fox News host announces he is interviewing Vladimir Putin

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson has announced that he is in Moscow to interview Vladimir Putin, ending days of speculation after he was first spotted in the Russian capital a couple days ago.

We will have more on this story later. For now, you can view his statement as to why has decided to interview the Russian autocrat.

His video has drawn widespread criticism for playing into the hands of Putin’s propaganda.

Tom Watling6 February 2024 22:00

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Norway must brace for conflict with Russia amid Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids, warns defence minister

Norway’s defence minister urged his country to be ready for a possible conflict with Russia even after the end of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said Russia might retaliate in response to Finland and Sweden‘s new Nato membership. Other Nato nations have also explicitly warned of Russia’s aggression and plans to disrupt peace in the region in the past few months.

“We must be ready that Russia may review its plans and where it deploys its forces in response to Finland and Sweden’s Nato membership,” Bjørn Arild Gram said on Monday during a lecture at the Oslo Military Society Assembly.

Tom Watling6 February 2024 21:00

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Ukraine-born Miss Japan gives up title after alleged affair with married man and eligibility debate

The controversy escalated when Shukan Bunshun published allegations of her relationship with a married influencer and doctor, leading to public backlash.

Tom Watling6 February 2024 20:00

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A bestselling novelist was duped by pro-Putin prank callers. He now faces jail

Grigory Chkhartishvili, known under the pen name Boris Akunin, was charged in absentia by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on Tuesday. He is now under an arrest warrant and will be detained if he returns to Russia.

In December last year, after Mr Akunin expressed support for Ukraine on a call with two Russian pranksters, known as Vovan and Lexus – who were posing as Ukrainian officials – the Kremlin escalated its crackdown on the novelist.

Tom Watling6 February 2024 19:00

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IAEA chief to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to check safety

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said he would visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied Ukraine on Wednesday to see if it can be run with a reduced number of staff and whether its years-old uranium fuel is safe.

Russia gained control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, and its six nuclear reactors are now idled.

Ahead of his visit, Grossi discussed the current security situation and potential risks at the occupied plant on Tuesday in Kyiv with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the presidential office reported.

Ukrainian energy minister German Galushchenko said the Russian occupation authorities were preventing hundreds of qualified workers from working at the plant, which he said dramatically reduces safety.

“We’re talking about 400 people who are highly skilled and, most importantly, licensed. You can’t just take them away,” Galushchenko told a joint news conference with Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“There is the issue of the staff. The situation where the plant is operating with a very, very small number of operators,” Grossi added.

A view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Matt Mathers6 February 2024 18:30

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Wagner defector refused permanent asylum in Norway, report says

A Russian man who reportedly defected from a high-ranking position in the Wagner Group has been given permission to stay in Norway but was refused permanent asylum, a Norwegian newspaper has reported.

The lawyer for Andrey Medvedev told Dagbladet that his client was granted temporary residence “due to the security risk involved in sending him back to Russia” but was not given permanent residence or citizenship.

Medvedev sought asylum in January 2023 after defecting from Wagner and fleeing to Norway, crossing illegally over the country’s 123-mile border with Russia, saying he feared for his life if he were sent back.

Medvedev said he agreed to join the Wagner Group from July to November 2022, but he left after his contract was extended without his consent.

Andy Gregory6 February 2024 18:01

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Ukraine claims to blow up Black Sea drilling platform being used for Russian drone attacks

Ukraine has claimed that a group of its special forces blew up a drilling platform in the Black Sea that Russia was using to enhance the range of its drones to attack Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

The operation, dubbed Citadel, was conducted at night and resulted in the capture of “important enemy equipment” and the platform being blown up, Ukraine’s special forces said.

“A successful special operation ensured safer movement of ships and limited the enemy’s capabilities in the northwestern part of the Black Sea,” it added.

Footage published alongside the statement featured troops landing on the platform in the dawn hours, operating inside and moving away from it while a bright explosion is seen in the background.

The claims could not be independently verified.

Andy Gregory6 February 2024 17:43

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Turkish drone manufacturer building factory in Kyiv

Turkish defence company Baykar has started building a factory near Kyiv that will employ around 500 people, the company’s chief executive has told Reuters.

Turkish-made Bayraktar drones have gained prominence globally after being used by Ukraine’s military to thwart Russian forces by destroying armoured vehicles and artillery systems.

“Our factory is being built – we need about 12 months to finish construction and then we will move on to internal machinery, equipment, and organizational structure,” Baykar chief executive Haluk Bayraktar said on the sidelines of the World Defence Show in Riyadh.

“The factory in Ukraine is a big one, we are planning to employ around 500 people,” he said.

Bayraktar noted that capacity would total around 120 units every year, but said it was still not clear whether production at the Ukrainian factory would focus on the TB2 or TB3 drone model.

Asked if security issues related to the ongoing conflict would pose a concern for the plant, he said that plans were “fully moving ahead” and that “nothing” could halt them.

Reuters6 February 2024 16:31

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Watch: Ukrainian newsreader ends broadcast by telling viewers he is joining army to fight Putin

Ukrainian newsreader ends broadcast by telling viewers he is joining army to fight Putin

Andy Gregory6 February 2024 16:03

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Russia looks to India for bananas and papaya after bitter spat with Ecuador

Russia has started buying bananas from India and will look for other fruit in a bitter spat with its biggest supplier Ecuador.

The decision was made after the South American country swapped Russian-made military hardware with the United States.

Andy Gregory6 February 2024 15:39

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