Ukraine says it downed a Russian Su-24 fighter plane over the Black Sea near Snake Island as the aircraft was on its way to attack Odesa region.
Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Ukraine’s “sky guards” following the incident overnight on Tuesday, as he tweeted: “We are strengthening our air defense, particularly in the Odesa region. Gradually, but noticeably. I thank every country that helps us achieve this task.”
Snake Island, which lies around 22 miles off the Ukrainian coast, achieved worldwide fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there at first resisted a Russian warship’s demand for their surrender.
It comes as Zelensky told Ukrainians on Wednesday that Kyiv would defeat Russia and win a fair peace “against all odds” after he unexpectedly cancelled his US Senate address.
The president delivered his defiant message in an unusual early-morning video that showed him walking through Kyiv on his way to pay his respects to fallen soldiers on what Ukraine marks as Armed Forces Day.
“It is not easy now, but we are moving. No matter how difficult it is, we will get there. To our borders, to our people. To our peace. Fair peace. Free peace. Against all odds.”
Ukrainian MP who supported Russia found shot dead in Moscow suburb
A former Ukrainian lawmaker regarded by Kyiv as a traitor was shot dead near Moscow on Wednesday and a Ukrainian source said he was killed by the country’s security service.
Illia Kyva was a pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament before Moscow invaded in February 2022, but had been in Russia throughout the war and frequently criticised Ukrainian authorities online.
Russian investigators said Kyva died on the spot after being shot in a park in Odintsovo region, southwest of Moscow, and they had opened a murder hunt.
The Ukrainian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the SBU security service was responsible.
Andriy Yusov, spokesperson for Ukraine’s GUR, another intelligence agency, said on Ukrainian television Kyva was “finished” but did not say who was behind his death.
Kyva had been sentenced in absentia by a Ukrainian court to 14 years in prison for charges including treason and incitement to violence.
Several pro-war Russian figures have been assassinated since the start of the war in operations blamed by Moscow on Ukraine, including journalist Darya Dugina and war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky.
Maira Butt7 December 2023 04:15
In case you missed it: Nepal police arrest 10 for ‘smuggling’ youths to fight for Russian army in Ukraine
Nepal police arrested 10 people for allegedly sending unemployed youths to Russia for illegal recruitment into the army amid Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.
Nepal has been compelled to consolidate its diplomatic efforts following the deaths of at least six of its soldiers serving in the Russian military in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022. One Nepali soldier was captured by the Ukrainian army.
It prompted Nepal to call on Russia to stop sending its Gurkha soldiers to fight on the frontlines in Ukraine after a series of losses sparked anger among the families as they waited for the return of the last remains of slain combatants.
Maira Butt7 December 2023 03:15
Zelensky thanks G7 for ‘strong statement’ against Russia
Following a virtual meeting with the G7 summit leaders, President Zelensky thanked the group for crucial new steps taken in support of Ukraine.
He said: “I thank the Japanese Presidency and all G7 leaders for their strong statement following our meeting today. Crucial new steps have been taken.
“Import restrictions on Russian diamonds starting January 1st; call for decisive progress in using frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine; recognition of Ukraine’s success in the Black Sea and maritime exports; commitment to preventing Russia’s access to dual-use technologies; and readiness to formalize long-term security guarantees.
“These are tangible new steps that support Ukraine while also limiting Russia’s ability to continue its aggression against our country and people. The G7 declaration today demonstrates that all talk of waning international support for Ukraine is wrong.
“Today and every day, our partners are foursquare behind Ukraine. And we are sending a signal to Russian terrorists that they cannot and will not outlast our collective determination to defend freedom.”
Maira Butt7 December 2023 02:15
China warns of ‘firm response’ after UK sanctions businesses ‘propping up Russia’
Beijing has accused the UK of violating international law and warned of a “firm response” after Chinese entities accused of supplying Russia were hit with sanctions.
The British Foreign Office on Wednesday imposed 46 new sanctions targeting military suppliers it said were “propping up Putin’s war machine” with exports of equipment to Russia amid its conflict with Ukraine.
This included businesses in Belarus, China, Serbia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
Three Chinese entities – Asia Pacific Links Limited, Sinno Electronics Co, Limited, and Xinghua Co, Limited – were targeted for allegedly supplying sanctioned goods.
China’s embassy in the UK said in a statement: “The UK side’s action constitutes violation of international law, abuse of unilateral sanctions, and damages the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. We firmly oppose such action and have lodged stern representations with the UK side.
“On the Ukraine issue, China has all along upheld an objective and fair stance, and has been actively working for peace talks and political settlement. However, the UK government, ignoring the public opinion at home and in the world, has continued to add fuel to the fire.
“We urge the UK government to immediately rectify its wrongdoing and revoke sanctions against Chinese companies. The Chinese government will take firm and strong measures to defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.
“The UK side must know that any action that harms China’s interests will be met with our firm response.”
Maira Butt7 December 2023 01:16
US announces new weapons aid for Ukraine as Congress is stalled on more funding
The US is sending a $175 million package of military aid to Ukraine, including guided missiles for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), anti-armor systems and high-speed anti-radiation missiles, the Pentagon and State Department announced on Wednesday.
The latest aid comes as Congress remains stalled on legislation that would provide new funding for Ukraine as it battles to push back Russian forces as well as provide assistance to Israel. The Biden administration has said funding to aid Ukraine is running out, and the Pentagon packages of weapons and other equipment for the war have become much smaller in recent months.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that unless Congress approves the supplemental funding, “this will be one of the last security assistance packages we can provide to Ukraine.”
Maira Butt7 December 2023 00:15
G7 bans direct import of Russian diamonds
The G7 have announced a direct ban on Russian diamonds starting from 1 January 2024 followed by phased-in restrictions on indirect imports of Russian gems from around 1 March, a statement said on Wednesday.
The group has been weighing various proposals for how to restrict the import of Russian diamonds with the European Union proposing a package that includes a diamond ban. However, the EU were waiting for coordination from the G7 to move forward.
The ban excludes diamonds for industrial use. The announcement does not include the tracing of polished stones, an element included in the proposals, including one by Belgium designed on the EU’s behalf, nor does it mention the carat size.
Diamonds represent an important sector of Belgium. Antwerp has the world’s main diamond hub and most of the world’s rough stones transit through the city even though they are now mostly cut in India.
“I am pleased that the G7 applied the central principles of the Belgian proposal,” Belgium Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said.
“The traceability system launched today is another step in the pioneering work Belgium started 25 years ago in the fight against blood diamonds. The G7 declaration offers the Antwerp diamond sector a unique opportunity to further develop into the trading centre of ‘clean’ diamonds.”
Maira Butt6 December 2023 23:15
In pictures: Putin in UAE
Maira Butt6 December 2023 22:16
Under Putin, the uber-wealthy Russians known as ‘oligarchs’ are still rich but far less powerful
When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, the outside world viewed those Russians known as “oligarchs” as men who whose vast wealth, ruthlessly amassed, made them almost shadow rulers. A “government of the few,” in the word’s etymology.
The term has persisted well into Putin’s rule, broadening in popular usage to refer to almost any Russian with a substantial fortune.
How much political power any of Russia’s uber-rich now wield, however, is doubtful.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 December 2023 21:30
Zelensky addresses G7 leaders
He said: “In my address to G7 leaders, I stressed the importance of the free world maintaining consolidation and interaction, as well as supporting those whose freedom is under attack.
“Together, we can make the coming year productive for free nations. Not for Putin. Ukraine has strength. And I ask you to be as strong as you can, as strong as freedom can be.
“I thank you on behalf of all Ukrainian warriors, every Ukrainian family, and our entire country for your tremendous support.”
Maira Butt6 December 2023 20:44
Biden: ‘We will defend every inch of Nato territory’
“If Putin attacks a Nato ally, if he keeps going and attacks a Nato ally, we’ve committed as a Nato member to defend every inch of Nato territory,” he said.
“Then we’ll have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops, if he moves into other parts of Nato.
“Make no mistake, today’s vote is going to be long-remembered. And history’s going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom’s cause.”
Maira Butt6 December 2023 20:05