Ukraine war latest: Russia ‘driving its own soldiers to their deaths’ in Donbas

Ukrainian soldier flashes a victory sign in Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battle against the Russian troops - AP

Ukrainian soldier flashes a victory sign in Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battle against the Russian troops – AP

Russia is ‘driving its own soldiers to their deaths’ in the Donbas due to the ‘craziness’ of the Russian command.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian troops are holding out against repeated attacks near two key towns in the eastern Donbas region.

The most severe fighting is taking place near Avdiivka, outside Donetsk, and Bakhmut, further to the northeast, he said in an evening video address on Wednesday.

“This is where the craziness of the Russian command is most evident. Day after day, for months, they are driving people to their deaths there, concentrating the highest level of artillery strikes,” he said.

Mr Zelensky also said there would be good news from the front, but gave no details.

Follow the latest updates below.

09:20 AM

Statement from Ben Wallace on Australian troops helping to train Ukrainian soldiers

08:58 AM

Estonia urges Sunak to raise UK defence spending

Estonia has called on new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to commit to raising British defence spending.

Mr Sunak has not matched a pledge by his predecessor Liz Truss to boost defence spending from 2 per cent to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030, having previously described such targets as “arbitary”.

When asked in a BBC interview if Nato countries should aim to spend 3 per cent of GDP on defence, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said: “Absolutely.”

He also said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “game-changer”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who survived Mr Sunak’s reshuffle in the same role, would be on resignation watch if the Government backtracks on the defence spending commitment.Mr Reinsalu also asked the UK not to cut troop numbers in Estonia, saying “we love UK soldiers” and “we want more”.

Contender to become the country's next Prime minister and leader of the Conservative party Britain's former Chancellor to the Exchequer Rishi Sunak looks at a NLAW anti tank launcher, supplied to Ukraine, as he visits the the Thales Defence System plant in Belfast, on August 17, 2022, as part of his political campaign ahead of the election of September 5, 2022. (Photo by Paul Faith / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)  - PAUL FAITH/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesContender to become the country's next Prime minister and leader of the Conservative party Britain's former Chancellor to the Exchequer Rishi Sunak looks at a NLAW anti tank launcher, supplied to Ukraine, as he visits the the Thales Defence System plant in Belfast, on August 17, 2022, as part of his political campaign ahead of the election of September 5, 2022. (Photo by Paul Faith / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)  - PAUL FAITH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Contender to become the country’s next Prime minister and leader of the Conservative party Britain’s former Chancellor to the Exchequer Rishi Sunak looks at a NLAW anti tank launcher, supplied to Ukraine, as he visits the the Thales Defence System plant in Belfast, on August 17, 2022, as part of his political campaign ahead of the election of September 5, 2022. (Photo by Paul Faith / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) – PAUL FAITH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

08:42 AM

A train transporting fuel burns in Russian-occupied Donetsk Oblast

08:21 AM

Head of Rosneft says EU proposals to cap Russian gas prices ‘unthinkable’

Proposals by the European Commission to introduce cap prices for Russian gas were “unthinkable”, said Igor Sechin, the head of Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft.

Speaking at an international forum in Baku, Mr Sechin said on Thursday that Western sanctions were destroying corporate law while the refusal to buy Russian hydrocarbons is leading to an “acute energy deficit”, boosting global inflation.

08:06 AM

Crimea power plant hit by drone attack

A thermal power plant on the peninsula was targeted by an overnight drone attack, but it was not badly damaged, said authorities in Moscow-annexed Crimea.

“Today at night there was a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] attack on the Balaklava thermal power station,” the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.

“The transformer is minimally damaged. There were no casualties,” he added.

The official said there was “no threat to power supply” and that “the incident does not affect the power supply of Sevastopol and the peninsula.”

07:38 AM

Latest update on the war from the UK Ministry of Defence

07:25 AM

Russia will have to answer for Ukraine atrocities, says French PM

Russia will have to answer for its “barbaric violations of the laws of war” in Ukraine, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Wednesday.

Whenever Ukraine troops take back territory from the invading Russian forces, they discover “massacres or mass graves, as in Bucha in the spring and more recently in Izyum,” Ms Borne said during a debate on the conflict in the upper house Senate.

“These are shocking, revolting, monstrous acts. They are barbaric violations of the laws of war, and Russia will have to answer for them,” she added.

Ms Borne also referred to “implausible statements by the Russian defence minister about Ukraine using a dirty bomb. It is nothing but another lie by Moscow to legitimise the escalation”.

07:14 AM

UN upbeat on renewing grain export deal

The United Nations it was relatively optimistic about prospects for renewing an agreement that allows grain exports from war-torn Ukraine.

The 120-day Black Sea Grain Initiative, a UN-led deal agreed with Moscow and Kyiv, runs until November 19.

It spells out terms for exporting grain from Ukrainian ports blocked by the war Russia started in February.

A second agreement signed in parallel allows the export of Russian food and fertilizers despite Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the invasion.

06:51 AM

Energy crisis sparked by war to speed up green transition

The drop in Russian fossil fuel exports would transform the global energy landscape for decades and could help to hasten a green energy transition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

The IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook acknowledges the economic hit from reduced supplies of Russian oil, natural gas and coal but is keeping an environmental bes- case scenario in which no investment in new fossil fuel projects is needed.

The IEA’s report said the global energy crisis was causing profound and long-lasting changes that could hasten the transition to a more sustainable and secure energy system.

“Energy markets and policies have changed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, not just for the time being, but for decades to come,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

06:47 AM

Russian and Ukrainian delegates to discuss Antarctica

Delegations from Russia and Ukraine are among those meeting in Australia this week to decide the future of Antarctica’s pristine waters.

Conservationists say new marine protected areas and rules to prevent overfishing are desperately needed, but that Russia could use its veto-like powers to once again block progress.

Achieving the required consensus for action among this diverse group of 27, which also includes China, the United States and the European Union, has always been an immense challenge.

And when two of the members are at war – and relations between China and many Western nations have deteriorated – consensus looms as an even bigger obstacle. Just this month, Russian bombing in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, partially destroyed Ukraine’s Antarctic research centre.

Despite the enormous political hurdles, some remain hopeful that scientific arguments will win through. The US is paying more attention to the region under President Joe Biden

05:07 AM

Zelensky: ‘Crazy’ Russian tactics on eastern Donbas front

Volodymyr Zelensky has described the Russian tactics used in repeated attacks near two key cities in the eastern Donbas region as “crazy”.

Intense fighting is taking place near Avdiivka, outside Donetsk, and Bakhmut, further to the northeast.

“This is where the craziness of the Russian command is most evident. Day after day, for months, they are driving people to their deaths there, concentrating the highest level of artillery strikes,” Mr Zelensky said.

Speaking in his nightly video address on Wednesday, Mr Zelensky said there would be good news from the front, but did not give any details.

Russian forces have repeatedly tried to seize Bakhmut, which sits on a main road leading to the Ukrainian-held cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

A Ukrainian soldier looks on in the town of Bakhmut, in eastern industrial Ukraine's Donbas region - AFPA Ukrainian soldier looks on in the town of Bakhmut, in eastern industrial Ukraine's Donbas region - AFP

A Ukrainian soldier looks on in the town of Bakhmut, in eastern industrial Ukraine’s Donbas region – AFP

04:31 AM

UN aid chief ‘relatively optimistic’ on Black Sea grain deal extension

The United Nations aid chief said he remains “relatively optimistic” that a UN-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine Black Sea grain exports to resume would be extended beyond mid-November.

Martin Griffiths travelled to Moscow with senior UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan earlier this month for discussions with Russian officials on the deal.

Ukraine was able to restart its Black Sea grain and fertiliser exports under the July 22 agreement, which had stalled when Russia invaded.

“We are keen to see that renewed promptly, now. It’s important for the market. It’s important for just continuity. And I’m still relatively optimistic that we’re going to get that. We’re working hard,” Mr Griffiths said.

03:45 AM

Australia to deploy soldiers to Britain to help train Ukrainian troops

Australia will deploy 70 soldiers to help train Ukrainian troops in Britain as Russia’s relentless invasion continues.

The Australian Government also agreed to send 30 more armoured vehicles to aid Ukraine.

“We expect this now to be a protracted conflict,” Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles told ABC television on Thursday.

“We’re mindful that Ukraine needs to now be supported over the longer term if we’re going to put Ukraine in a position where it can resolve this conflict on its own terms.”

The latest package takes Australia’s support for Ukraine to about $655 million AUD (£365 million) since the war began in February.

03:00 AM

Putin oversees exercise for ‘massive nuclear strike’

Vladimir Putin on Wednesday oversaw Russia’s first nuclear exercises since the beginning of the war as he endorsed the baseless claim that Ukraine was preparing a “dirty bomb”.

Sitting alone, the Russian president watched via video link as nuclear submarines and strategic bombers displayed Moscow’s readiness for nuclear conflict.

The annual exercise, named “Grom” or “Thunder”, showed Russia “delivering a massive nuclear strike by strategic offensive forces in response to an enemy nuclear strike,” defence secretary General Sergei Shoigu told Putin.

Nuclear-capable missiles were fired from land, sea and TU-95MS strategic bombers. Some were fired from the Arctic to Russia’s Far East, nine time zones away.

Read the full story by Nataliya Vasilyeva here.

A still image from video, released by the Russian Defence Ministry, shows what it said to be Russia's Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launched during exercises - ReutersA still image from video, released by the Russian Defence Ministry, shows what it said to be Russia's Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launched during exercises - Reuters

A still image from video, released by the Russian Defence Ministry, shows what it said to be Russia’s Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launched during exercises – Reuters

01:46 AM

Boris Johnson looks to raise millions to help rebuild Ukraine

Boris Johnson is considering setting up a new organisation to help support Ukraine and rebuild the war-torn country as he seeks to build a new career on the international stage, The Telegraph can disclose.

The former prime minister has set up an office in Westminster from which he hopes to start a new foundation which his friends say could raise millions to reconstruct the war-torn country.

One friend of Mr Johnson who is familiar with the plans described it as a “Marshal plan for Ukraine” adding “Boris will raise loads of money” from private donors.

Read the full story by Christopher Hope here.

Boris Johnson visits Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv -  No10 Downing StreetBoris Johnson visits Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv -  No10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson visits Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv – No10 Downing Street

01:43 AM

Today’s top stories

  • Vladimir Putin personally oversaw military drills designed to simulate a “massive nuclear strike” on Wednesday

  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said fighting remained intense in the eastern Donbas region near Bakhmut

  • The US and its Western allies on the Security Council have insisted the UN chief has the right to investigate if Russia has used Iranian drones to attack civilians and power plants in Ukraine

  • Australia announced on Thursday it would deploy 70 soldiers to Britain to help train Ukrainian troops

  • United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Wednesday that he was “relatively optimistic” that a UN-brokered deal that allowed a resumption of Ukraine Black Sea grain exports would be extended beyond mid-November

  • Boris Johnson is considering setting up a new organisation to help support Ukraine and rebuild the war-torn country