Russia-Ukraine latest: Putin unleashes wave of drones as Kremlin death toll in Avdiivka ‘exceeds 17,000’

By Isaac M February 20, 2024
<p>Russia Ukraine War</p>

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Russia unleashed a barrage of drone attacks on seven cities in Ukraine overnight as footage released by the Kremlin’s defence ministry showed the recently-occupied city of Avdiivka completely destroyed by five months of heavy bombardment.

Ukraine said they had destroyed all 23 drones Russia had launched at the country overnight. “As a result of combat operations, all 23 “shaheds” drones were shot down in Kharkiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions,” the military said on Telegram messaging app.

It comes as television footage released by Russia’s defence ministry showed that almost every house in Avdiivka was branded with war.

In the footage, the cupola of a church was seen in pieces, roads were strewn with the detritus of war and whole apartment blocks hung broken.

More than 17,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the five months-long fight for Avdiivka, which ended over the weekend, according to Dmytro Lykhovii, spokesperson for Ukraine’s military. An additional 30,000 were wounded, he added.

If true, that means that Russia lost more personnel in the half a year fight for Avdiivka than during a decade-long occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.

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Finland says thousands of migrants are seeking to enter via Russia

Finland has claimed that “thousands” of third-country migrants were waiting to cross the border onto its territory from Russia.

Finland closed all crossings on its 830-mile border with Russia late last year amid a growing number of arrivals who lacked valid documents to enter the European Union. Helsinki accuses Moscow of funnelling migrants to the border, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

“We have information that thousands of people on the Russian side are waiting to get to Finland,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told a news conference, adding that this represented “a threat to society”.

Rantanen declined to say how Finnish authorities had obtained the information.

While Finland’s forested border areas have seen freezing temperatures and deep snow during the winter months, Rantanen said she believed more migrants may seek to cross illegally as spring arrives and temperatures gradually increase.

Rantanen said existing EU legislation did not offer solutions for handling situations like the one faced by Finland.

The Finnish border authority has said more than 1,300 asylum seekers from nations including Yemen, Somalia and Syria had entered Finland from Russia between August and December last year, 900 of them in November alone. In comparison, the number before last August had averaged just one person a day.

Finland’s immigration authority told Reuters in January that it had not been able to locate some 160 of the migrants and that they had probably continued to another European country.

Relations between Russia and Finland, once relatively cordial, have deteriorated sharply since Helsinki’s decision to join NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

The Finnish Interior Ministry said on Monday it would swiftly draft legislation to strengthen border security and combat attempts by Moscow to pressure Finland in the form of instrumentalised migration.

The government will present its proposal to parliament next month, it added.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 14:40

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Russia places US senator Graham on ‘terrorist and extremist’ list – TASS

Russia’s financial monitoring agency, Rosfinmonitoring, has included US Senator Lindsey Graham on its “list of terrorists and extremists”, the Russian state-owned TASS news agency reported.

United States Senator Lindsey Graham attends a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill

(Anadolu via Getty Images)

Tom Watling20 February 2024 14:00

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Russian drones kill five people, damage industrial facility, Ukraine says

Russian drone attacks on Tuesday killed five people from one family and damaged an industrial facility in Ukraine‘s northern and central regions, local authorities said.

A drone of Lancet type hit a residential building in the northerly Sumy region in the morning, killing a mother, her two sons and two other relatives, the regional military administration said on the Telegram messenger app.

Earlier on Tuesday Ukraine‘s military said that Russia had launched 23 Shahed drones overnight and its air defences had destroyed all of them, including over the central Poltava region.

But the head of the regional military administration said an industrial facility caught fire after a drone attack overnight on the Kremenchuk district, where an oil refinery is located.

He did not specify the type of drones used or whether the fire was caused by falling debris from the downed weapon.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 13:45

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Ukraine is investigating reports Russia executed prisoners of war after Avdiivka withdrawal

Six unarmed Ukrainian soldiers awaiting evacuation were shot in Avdiivka, while two others were shot in the village of Vesele on the town’s outskirts, according to reports.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 13:26

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Ukraine premier in Tokyo says his country needs missiles, but expects new US aid to come through

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday that his country needs long-range missiles and other ammunition to end Russia‘s invasion, and said he expects a U.S. aid package that’s stalled in Congress to come through, speaking at a news conference the day after he attended a conference in Tokyo on reconstructing Ukraine.

Ukraine has modern equipment, training soldiers and fighting at NATO standards and that “European countries and the United States are supporting us, absolutely,” Shmyhal said.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 13:00

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Three big lessons from two years of war in Ukraine (that tell us what might happen next)

When Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February two years ago, nobody knew how it would play out. Here author and Russia expert Mark Galeotti sifts through the carnage of the bloody conflict for clues as to what will happen next

Three big lessons from two years of war in Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February two years ago, nobody knew how it would play out. Here author and Russia expert Mark Galeotti sifts through the carnage of the bloody conflict for clues as to what will happen next

Tom Watling20 February 2024 11:55

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Canada sending more than 800 drones to Ukraine to support its fight against Russia

The Canadian government said Monday it will dispatch more than 800 drones to Ukraine starting as early as this spring.

The Department of National Defence said in a statement that drones have become a critical capability for Ukraine in its war with Russia. It said the drones are important for surveillance and intelligence gathering, and can also be used to move supplies, including munitions.

They will cost more than $95 million Canadian ($70 million) and are part of a previously announced $500 million Canadian ($370 million) in military help for Ukraine.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 11:00

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Kim Jong Un adds latest to his exotic car collection – a Putin limousine

The Russian-made car was delivered to Kim‘s top aides by the Russian side on February 18, official KCNA news agency said.

The gift was “for his personal use”, Russian state media reported, in what could be a violation of UN ban that Moscow had agreed to adopt against Pyongyang.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 10:30

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Russian spy chief: killed Russian pilot was ‘moral corpse’ for defecting

Russia’s foreign intelligence chief has said that a Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine and was found shot dead in an underground garage in Spain last week was a “moral corpse” when he planned his crimes, Russian news agencies reported.

Spain’s state news agency EFE reported that a body found on 13 February in the town of Villajoyosa, near Alicante in southern Spain, belonged to pilot Maxim Kuzminov, who had landed in Ukraine with his Mi-8 helicopter last August.

“In Russia it is customary to speak either good of the dead or nothing at all,” Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), was quoted as saying when asked about Kuzminov.

“This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment when he planned his dirty and terrible crime,” Naryshkin was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.

Ukraine‘s GUR military intelligence said Kuzminov had been found dead in Spain.

Kuzminov’s defection to Ukraine was presented last year as a major coup for Kyiv.

He had been living in Spain with a Ukrainian passport under a different name, EFE said. Ukraine‘s Ukrainska Pravda newspaper reported that Kuzminov had been found shot dead.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 10:08

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Russian forces lack ‘combat effectiveness’ to exploit Avdiivka takeover, says British MoD

Russian forces lack the “combat effectiveness to immediately exploit the capture of Avdiivka”, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has claimed in its latest intelligence update.

The Russian MoD announced it had taken over the city over the weekend after five months of costly mechanised and then infantry-led assaults.

The key eastern frontline city had been fought over for 10 years, and could unlock the rest of the Donetsk region in Russia’s bid to control the wider east.

But the British MoD suggested the heavy casualties suffered by Russian forces to seize the city will cap their ability to push on from their new positions.

“It is likely that Russian forces lack the combat effectiveness to immediately exploit the capture of Avdiivka and will require a period of rest and refit,” they wrote on X.

“In the coming weeks, Russia will likely seek to extend its territorial gain beyond Avdiivka.”

In the meantime, images have shown Ukrainian forces shoring up backward defensive positions in the town of Lastochkyne, northwest of Avdiivka.

Tom Watling20 February 2024 09:31

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