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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Guardian staff and agencies

Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 646

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (C) with Commander of the Ground Forces colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi (R) as he visits Ukrainian troops in Kupiansk.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (C) with commander of the ground gorces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi (R) as he visits Ukrainian troops in Kupiansk. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for faster construction of fortifications in key sectors under pressure from Russian forces, particularly in eastern Ukraine, a focal point of Moscow’s advances, 21 months into its invasion. Zelenskiy issued his appeal after touring Ukrainian frontline positions in the north-east. “This of course means the greatest attention to the Avdiivka, Maryinka and other sectors in Donetsk region. In Kharkiv region, this means the Kupiansk sector and the Kupiansk-Lyman line,” he said in his nightly video address.

  • Hungary will not support any EU proposal to begin talks on making Ukraine a member of the bloc, a government minister said. Gergely Gulyas, the chief of staff to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, said at a news conference in Budapest that it was premature to begin formal talks with Kyiv, and that Hungary would not consent to opening the discussions when EU leaders meet in mid-December.

  • The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) detonated explosives on a railway line in Siberia that Russia uses for military supplies, a Ukrainian source told Reuters. The source, who declined to be identified, said four explosive devices were detonated overnight as a cargo train was moving through the Severomuysky Tunnel in Buryatia region, which borders Mongolia. Russian sources acknowledged that a train had caught fire in the area, but made no mention of explosives.

  • Across the east and south of Ukraine, six people were killed in a spate of Russian attacks, with three more still missing, local officials said Thursday. In the Kherson region, authorities said Russian shelling had killed three people in the village of Sadove. Two people were killed and three more, including a child, were trapped under rubble in the eastern Donetsk region after simultaneous Russian strikes on three towns, Ukraine’s emergency services said. An evening attack on the town of Toretsk in the eastern Donetsk region also killed one and injured two, the local prosecutor’s office said.

  • The US has been working with Ukraine to prepare for Russia’s expected winter attack, including helping to provide equipment and supplies to keep people from losing heat and electricity, said White House national security spokesperson John Kirby. He said the US expects Russia will try to destroy Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure this winter.

  • Ukraine’s human rights commissioner accused Russia of refusing to agree new exchanges of prisoners of war after a stretch of three months in which no swaps have been reported. “All the initiatives, desires and actions of Ukraine regarding the return of our defenders from captivity are met by a Russian unwillingness to return its citizens,” Dmytro Lubinets said. He added that Russian prisoners held in Ukraine had expressed a wish to be exchanged. “No one from the Russian side wants to take them back,” he said.

  • EU countries are digging in against parts of the commission’s latest proposed sanctions on Russia, namely the so-called “no Russia clause”, retaliatory financial limits and enforcing sanctions on goods for personal use, six sources told Reuters. Some member states, which the sources declined to identify, say the new proposal goes too far and would backfire on EU global trade and ultimately fail in its aims.

  • Zelenskiy held phone calls with three European leaders; German chancellor Olaf Scholz, British prime minister Rishi Sunak and Bulgarian prime minister Nikolay Denkov. “I have a lot to thank our partners for,” Zelenskiy said. “Our agreements … are all being implemented. We have also outlined new joint steps.”

  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that the west was killing any chances of reviving the grouping which he said was on the brink of collapse. Speaking in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, at a meeting which Ukraine and some of its allies had boycotted, Lavrov said: “There are no particular reasons for optimism at present. The OSCE is essentially being turned into an appendage of Nato and the European Union.

  • The European Union should take Ukraine’s military needs into account as it determines the future strategy of Europe’s defence industry, European commission president Ursula von der Leyen said. “Our strategy can only be complete if it also takes into account Ukraine’s needs and Ukraine’s industrial capacity,” von der Leyen said in a speech at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency.

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