Ukraine war live updates: Russian media retract report of retreat; Ukraine war hotspot Avdiivka under ‘massive’ Russian shelling

100th ship departs through Black Sea corridor

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Monday that the 100th ship had departed through the Black Sea humanitarian corridor.

In a post on social media, Bridget Brink described the route as an “export lifeline” for Ukraine, allowing the safe passage of 3.7 million tons of food and goods.

— Karen Gilchrist

EU’s Borrell says Ukraine remains the bloc’s ‘top priority’

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell on Monday reiterated that Ukraine is the bloc’s top priority, and that there will be “no fatigue” in its commitment to supporting the war-torn country.

“Today, the EU’s 27 foreign ministers passed a united message of support to Ukraine, as we welcomed FM Dmytro Kuleba. Ukraine is EU’s top priority,” Borrell wrote in a post on social media.

— Karen Gilchrist

UK’s new foreign secretary says Ukraine presents a ‘daunting’ challenge

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 13: Britain’s former Prime Minister, David Cameron, leaves 10, Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary in a Cabinet reshuffle on November 13, 2023 in London, England. Rishi Sunak came under pressure last week to sack Suella Braverman after she wrote an article criticising the Met Police over Pro-Palestinian Marches which was not signed off by Downing Street. At the weekend, several far-right protestors were arrested after confrontations at the Cenotaph during the Armistice Day service. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The U.K.’s new Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who was prime minister of the country from 2010 to 2016, said Ukraine was among the most pressing challenges he faces in his new role.

“We are facing a daunting set of challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East,” Cameron said, Reuters reported.

Cameron was appointed to the foreign office on Monday amid a surprise cabinet reshuffle in London following the firing of Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

She was replaced by James Cleverly, Britain’s former foreign secretary, following widespread criticism after she accused London police of political bias in policing protests.

— Holly Ellyatt

Germany will ‘massively’ expand funding for Ukraine in 2024

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stands next to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (3rd from right), Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov (2nd from right) and Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov (5th from right) in Kharkiv on the site of a substation destroyed by the Russians during her trip to eastern Ukraine.

Jorg Blank | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Germany will significantly expand assistance to Ukraine next year, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Monday.

“Our support will be massively expanded for next year,” she said, according to the Associated Press. The comments come after several media reports, citing unnamed sources, stating that Germany plans to expand its military funding for Kyiv next year.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported at the weekend that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition wants to increase Germany’s military aid for 2024 from a planned 4 billion euros to 8 billion euros ($8.5 billion). The plans have not been confirmed yet, however, and will need to be approved by a parliamentary committee.

Asked about the report, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told the ARD broadcaster that “right now, as Ukraine has to continue its fight and at the same time part of public attention worldwide is directed more toward Israel, this is a strong signal to Ukraine that we won’t leave it in the lurch.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian artillery pounds Avdiivka but Ukraine resists encirclement

Russian forces pounded the town of Avdiivka in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk region Monday morning, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

Police officer Gennady convinces a local resident who lives in a dilapidated house to evacuate on October 30, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine.

Libkos | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“This morning, Avdiivka was subjected to massive artillery shelling,” the acting chief of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, Ihor Moroz, said on Telegram.

A number of households and an industrial building sustained damage in the area, Moroz said, and Russian artillery shelling was reported in the area of the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, the largest coke producer in Ukraine.

CNBC was unable to verify the report. Avdiivka has become one of the most intense combat hotspots in Ukraine with Ukraine’s General Staff stating Monday that Russian troops continued to try to surround the town, but unsuccessfully. Avdiivka lies south of Bakhmut and similarly has been a key Russian target since the beginning of the war given its strategic location in Donetsk.

— Holly Ellyatt

More signs appear of Ukrainian involvement in Nord Stream blasts, Russia says

Climate scientists described the shocking images of gas spewing to the surface of the Baltic Sea as a “reckless release” of greenhouse gas emissions that, if deliberate, “amounts to an environmental crime.”

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Kremlin said on Monday that more signs were appearing of Ukrainian involvement in the blasts that ruptured Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines last year, following a Washington Post report that a Ukrainian military officer coordinated the attack.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters in a call that it was “alarming” that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has denied that Kyiv was involved in the blasts on the Baltic seabed, was reported to have been unaware of the operation.

— Reuters

Kremlin says Putin 2024 election announcement is due soon

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet made a decision on participating in the next presidential elections, his press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

“It is clear that the time for the announcement of elections is approaching, but so far there have been no decisions. As soon as they are, we will inform you,” he told reporters on Monday.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin (R) and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (L) attend the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting at the Congress Hall in Bishkek on December 9, 2022.

Vyacheslav Oseledko | Afp | Getty Images

Neither Putin, 71, nor the Kremlin has confirmed he will run for another six-year term in office, taking his presidency up to 2030 and potentially beyond. Several media reports have cited unnamed sources saying Putin will stand for office, however.

Peskov told CNBC last week that while no decision had yet been made, he had “no doubt that if he puts forward his candidacy, he will win confidently.”

“Society is consolidated around the president,” Peskov added.

Read more here: Kremlin says Putin will ‘win confidently’ if he runs in the 2024 presidential election

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian state media withdraw alerts on troop ‘regrouping’ in southern Ukraine

Two Russian state news agencies published alerts on Monday saying Moscow was moving troops to “more favorable positions” east of the Dnipro River in Ukraine, only to withdraw the information minutes later.

The highly unusual incident suggested disarray in Russia’s military establishment and state media over how to report the battlefield situation in southern Ukraine.

The RBC news outlet quoted the defence ministry as saying: “The sending of a false report about the ‘regrouping’ of troops in the Dnieper (Dnipro) region, allegedly on behalf of the press centre of the Russian Ministry of Defence, is a provocation.”

Russia’s military last week said its forces had thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to forge a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dnipro and on nearby islands.

A Ukrainian serviceman of the 123rd Territorial Defense Brigade stands guard on a position next to the Dnipro River, in an undisclosed location in the Kherson region, on November 6, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While Ukraine’s recapture of Kherson city last November was a shock defeat for the Kremlin, Russian forces on the opposing bank still control swathes of territory and shell towns and villages they retreated from. The Dnipro, Europe’s fourth-longest river and a historic trading route, has become a key front since Ukrainian troops pushed Russian forces back over its banks in the south last year. (Photo by Roman PILIPEY / AFP) (Photo by ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP via Getty Images)

Roman Pilipey | Afp | Getty Images

In a series of three alerts on Monday, the RIA state news agency said that the command of Russia’s Dnepr group of forces had decided to relocate troops to “more favorable positions” east of the Dnipro.

It said that, after the regrouping, the Dnepr force would release some troops to be deployed in offensives on other fronts.

RIA said the Russian military command had agreed with the Dnepr leadership’s conclusions and ordered the relocation of troops to start.

Minutes later, RIA withdrew all three alerts without explanation. Another state agency, TASS, published just one alert on troops regrouping to more favorable positions, and then withdrew it, saying it had been released in error. It apologised to its readers.

The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War said last week that Ukraine appeared to have conducted assaults across the Dnipro in Kherson region in mid-October, and noted that Russian military bloggers were reporting continued Ukrainian ground operations on the eastern bank.

— Reuters

Wagner Group now likely being led by the son of killed mercenary leader

Large elements of the Wagner Group of mercenaries have likely been assimilated into the command structure of Russia’s National Guard (Rosgvardiya) and resumed active recruitment, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update Sunday.

The Wagner Group has been in a state of flux since the death of its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash in August. The incident is under investigation. The Kremlin denied any involvement in Prigozhin’s death, which came after he led a short-lived and unsuccessful rebellion against Russia’s defense ministry.

A view shows the grave of Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a private jet crash in the Tver region last week, at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in Saint Petersburg on August 30, 2023.

Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images

Now, the latest iteration of the Wagner Group, under Rosgvardiya’s command, is likely being led by Pavel Prigozhin, the son of the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, the U.K. said.

“Other groups of Wagner fighters have highly likely joined another Russian PMC [private military company], Redut, which according to a Radio Free Europe investigation now has 7,000 personnel in total,” the U.K. said in an intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The Russian state is now exercising more direct control of Wagner Group activities and former personnel following the mutiny in July 2023 and subsequent death of Wagner’s leadership in August 2023,” it added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks on Russian military

Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks against Russian military and logistical assets in occupied parts of the country, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War think tank said Sunday. 

Noting that the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (or GUR) reported Sunday that Ukrainian partisans had attacked a Russian military headquarters in occupied Melitopol in the Zaporizhia region, the ISW said it followed a number of audacious attacks by Ukraine in recent days.

BAKHMUT DISTRICT, UKRAINE – NOVEMBER 12: Portrait of a Ukrainian soldier against the background of an explosion over the horizon as the special unit “Achilles” is preparing to carry out a combat mission at night on the heavy drone “Vampire”, which the Russians call “Baba Yaga” on November 12, 2023 in the Bakhmut District, Ukraine. SkyFall, a Ukrainian company, has launched mass production of unmanned aerial vehicles. The new “Vampire” model can carry up to 15 kg of ammunition. The Armed Forces of Ukraine use Vampire hexacopters to drop different types of munitions on the enemy, such as cumulative and thermobaric, and are most often used against tanks and other armored vehicles. Unmanned aerial vehicles are equipped with a thermal imager, which allows you to attack the enemy in the dark. Ukrainian forces continue to fight to retake Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May, following a yearlong war battle. Over the summer, Ukraine regained territory north and south of Bakhmut but Russia has held the city itself. (Photo by Kostya Liberov/Libkos via Getty Images)

Libkos | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“The GUR’s November 12 announcement follows a Ukrainian partisan attack against a former Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) People’s Militia head on November 8; strikes against a Russian military base in occupied Skadovsk, Kherson Oblast and Black Sea Fleet assets in Crimea on November 9; and three rear-area strikes and partisan attacks in Russia on November 11,” the ISW said.

“Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks against Russian military, logistics, and other high-profile assets in rear areas in occupied Ukraine and Russia,” it added.

There is pressure on Ukraine to make progress in its counteroffensive given the limited amount of time before inclement weather and muddy fighting conditions take hold. Russia also appears to have intensified attacks in recent weeks and targeted the capital Kyiv on Saturday for the first time in 52 days.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine braces itself for Russian attacks on energy infrastructure

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country must brace itself for more attacks on national infrastructure as winter approaches.

“We are almost halfway through November and we must be prepared for the possibility that the enemy may increase the number of drone or missile strikes against our infrastructure,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday.

Firefighters work to put out a fire at energy infrastructure facilities damaged by Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv region, Ukraine.

State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | Via Reuters

Russia pummelled Ukrainian energy infrastructure last winter, putting pressure on much of the civilian population by depriving them of heating and power. The Kyiv School of Economics estimated last January that damage to the country’s energy sector had already totaled $6.8 billion.

“Russia is preparing for winter. And in Ukraine, all our attention should be focused on defense, on response to terrorists, on everything Ukraine can do to make it easier for our people to get through this winter and to increase the capabilities of our troops,” Zelenskyy said.

— Holly Ellyatt

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