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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Ukraine’s top military leader admits war is at a ‘stalemate’

Valery Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, at an event commemorating Ukraine’s Independence Day, on Aug. 24, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief has conceded that the war against Russia has reached a “stalemate,” with few successes and advances in Ukraine’s five-month-long counteroffensive.

Likening the current state of conflict to World War I — in which many long and intense battles were fought over, at times, a few miles of territory and at the expense of huge numbers of men — Ukraine’s General Valery Zaluzhny said the war had reached an impasse.

“Just like in the first world war, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate,” he told The Economist magazine, adding that it would take a massive technological leap to break the deadlock.

“There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”

Ukraine launched its much-anticipated counteroffensive in June, in the hope of breaking Russia’s hold on a swathe of territory along the south and east of Ukraine. Russia had months to fortify its positions in the lead-up, however, and Ukraine has struggled to overcome layers of deep defensive lines made up of minefields, trench networks and anti-tank obstacles while being hit with Russian artillery and airpower.

Ukraine has repeatedly said it needs longer-range weapons, more air defenses and its own airpower to be able to fight Russia effectively. While its allies have donated massive amounts of equipment, decisions over further tranches of weaponry, such as tanks, have been tortuous affairs and supplies slow to materialize.

Ukrainian military personnel receive armored maneuver training on German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks at the Spanish army’s training center of San Gregorio in Zaragoza on March 13, 2023.

Oscar Del Pozo | AFP | Getty Images

Zaluzhny told The Economist that he had made a mistake thinking that he could stop Russia by bleeding its troops. “That was my mistake. Russia has lost at least 150,000 dead. In any other country such casualties would have stopped the war.”

Russia has shown it can quickly mobilize thousands of men at will and it’s estimated that it has amassed over 420,000 troops in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian defense intelligence, with the troops having varying degrees of military skill and training. Some Russian units are, for example, made up of former prisoners offered the chance to fight in exchange for reduced sentences and pay.

Russia launched a partial mobilization last year, calling up around 300,000 people. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in October that Russia had no plans for an additional mobilization as more than 335,000 have signed up so far this year to fight.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine sees most attacks in a day since the start of the year

A Ukrainian soldier drives a car near the frontline as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Kharkiv, Ukraine on October 27, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia has ramped up the intensity of its attacks on Ukraine, with a minister saying the country on Tuesday experienced the most attacks in one day since the start of the year.

Russian troops fired on 118 settlements in 10 regions of Ukraine over the past day, causing deaths and casualties, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram Wednesday

“This is the largest number of towns and villages hit since the beginning of the year,” he said, adding, “At night, the occupiers launched massive shelling on the territory of Ukraine, there are dead and wounded.”

Klymenko said a number of regions were targeted, including Poltava, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Mykolaiv.

— Holly Ellyatt

Italian PM discussed international “fatigue” over Ukraine war with pranksters, Reuters reports

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said there was international “fatigue” regarding the war in Ukraine in a phone call with Russian pranksters in September, Reuters reported.

“I see that there is a lot of fatigue, I have to say the truth, from all the sides. We (are) near the moment in which everybody understands that we need a way out,” she reportedly said.

“The problem is to find a way out which can be acceptable for both without destroying the international law,” she added.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Meloni also commented that Italy was not receiving enough help from other nations to deal with the large number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Two Russians leaked the 13-minute audio from the call online Wednesday after several similar pranks in which they try to get Western politicians and celebrities to make unguarded remarks.

“They do all agree that only Italy has to solve this problem alone. It’s a very stupid way of thinking,” she allegedly said.

Meloni’s office said the imposters had posed as the head of the African Union Commission.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Any F-16s given to Ukraine will only last ‘around 20 days,’ Russia claims

Russia’s defense minister claimed Wednesday that any F-16 fighter jets that the West supplies to Ukraine will be only last around 20 days if Russian air defense systems are operating effectively.

The United States has said that it will begin flight training for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.

Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In a conference call with military officials, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian air defense systems had shot down 37 aircraft in the past month and that this was almost twice the number of F-16 aircraft that was expected to be given to Ukraine by its Western allies.

“That is, with such work, our air defense systems [would have] approximately 20 days of work,” he said in comments posted on the Telegram account of Russia’s Ministry of Defense. CNBC was unable to verify Shoigu’s claims.

Several of Ukraine’s allies in Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway, have promised to supply kyiv with F-16 jets although the timeframe for training and supply, as well as the number of aircraft that will be donated, differs between the nations and is not yet fully confirmed.

Denmark is expected to supply Kyiv with 19 jets but the deliveries will be made in tranches with the first six to be delivered in March or April 2024.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine says Russian warplanes drop explosives on Black Sea shipping lanes

Ukraine said on Wednesday Russian warplanes had dropped “explosive objects” into the likely paths of civilian vessels in the Black Sea three times in the last 24 hours, but that its fledgling shipping corridor was still operating.

Ukraine is trying to build up a new shipping lane without Russian approval to revive its vital seaborne exports. Russia said it would consider any vessel a potential military target after it quit a U.N.-brokered deal in July that allowed some food exports to flow despite the war.

The first cargo ship using new Black Sea shipping lanes is seen leaving the southern port of Odesa on August 16, 2023. Ukraine said the first cargo ship to use the shipping lanes had exited a southern port despite threats from Russia that its navy could target vessels leaving the country. “The first vessel is moving along the temporary corridors established for civilian vessels to and from Black Sea ports,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a statement. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

“The occupiers are continuing to terrorise the paths of civilian shipping in the Black Sea with tactical aviation, dropping explosive objects into the likely paths of civilian vessel traffic,” the southern military command said.

“There were three such drops registered in the last 24 hours. However, the navigation corridor continues to function under the watch of the defense forces,” it said.

Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command said on Tuesday that Russia was regularly dropping guided aerial bombs, sea mines or other as-yet unknown explosive devices near the corridor, the Suspilne public broadcaster reported.

— Reuters

Two Russian tanks explode on their own mines, Ukraine claims

View of a captured Russian T-72 tank hidden in a forest near Kivsharivka, Ukraine.

Michael Brochstein | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ukraine claimed two Russian tanks exploded on their own mines as they retreated following an attempt to storm Ukrainian positions.

“In the Kupyansk direction, two enemy T-72 tanks, after another unsuccessful assault on our positions, were returning to the original line and exploded on their own mines,” the Steel Frontier 15th Mobile Border Detachment said on Facebook Wednesday.

“One of them immediately exploded, and the other only ‘took off’, damaging the track,” the post said, with an accompanying video showing an explosion.

The detachment said wryly that it had sent two drones to the damaged tank to carry out “explosive maintenance” and that “now both tanks are beyond repair.” CNBC was unable to verify the information in the post.

The Kupiansk area in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine is one of the combat hotspots in the war with a significant increase in fighting in the area in recent days, defense analysts say. Ukraine says Russian forces are trying to re-occupy the city of Kupiansk as it’s an important logistics hub.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine is being defeated despite NATO help, Russia’s defense minister claims

Russia’s defense minister claimed Wednesday that Ukraine is facing defeat, despite massive amounts of military support from Western military alliance NATO.

“Despite the supply of new types of NATO weapons, the Kyiv regime is suffering defeat. The group of Russian troops continues to conduct an active defense, inflicting effective fire damage on the enemy,” Sergei Shoigu said in a conference call Wednesday, reported by news agency RIA Novosti.

Shoigu then claimed that Ukraine’s forces were “desperately and unsuccessfully” trying to attack in the Zaporozhzhia, Donetsk and Kherson directions, but that this was leading to large losses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu (R) during the annual Navy Day Parade on July 30, 2023, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images

“The forces of Ukraine are being depleted, and the demoralization of personnel is growing,” Shoigu claimed, without presenting evidence. In the meantime, he said, Russian units were advancing.

Russia has ramped up the intensity of its attacks on Ukraine, with the country’s interior minister noting Wednesday that the country had experienced the most attacks in one day, on Tuesday, since the start of the year.

Defense experts tend to agree that Ukraine’s counteroffensive that was launched in June has not been as successful as hoped, with the front line having shifted little and fighting remaining highly attritional.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in the western Zaporizhia region while “Russian forces “continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast [region] and advanced near Avdiivka.”

— Holly Ellyatt

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