Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin makes rare trip outside of Russia | Ukraine – Freedom Voice


Putin arrives in Abu Dhabi

Vladimir Putin has arrived in Abu Dhabi, Russian state news agencies have reported.

The Russian president is visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a rare trip abroad and will hold talks with the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss oil, Opec and the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

Key events

Britain’s National Crime Agency has issued a warning to banks and the finance industry that Russia may seek to circumvent sanctions through intermediary countries.

The NCA said:

Sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine have had a significant impact on its ability to purchase products, including military supplies, on international markets.

However, in an effort to circumvent these controls, Russia is using complex supply chains and alternative supply routes to acquire sanctioned products.

A German government spokesperson has said that Ukraine will be “top of the list among priorities to be discussed in upcoming EU budget talks.

Afternoon summary

It is just coming up to 3pm in Kyiv. Here is a round-up of the day’s headlines so far:

  • Relations between Russia and the United Arab Emirates are at an unprecedented high, Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Wednesday. Russia and the UAE cooperate in Opec+ and are involved in major oil and gas projects, Reuters reported. Putin said in televised comments that the situation in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be among the topics of discussion.

  • Russia launched a total of 48 attack drones overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine’s air force said on Wednesday, adding that its air defence systems destroyed 41 of the drones before they reached their target. The air force said all of the attack drones were Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones, Reuters reported. It did not say what happened to the drones that were not downed or whether there was any damage from the attack.

  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Ukrainians on Wednesday that Kyiv would defeat Russia and win a fair peace “against all odds” as the future of vital US military and financial aid hung in the balance. Zelenskiy 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, Reuters reported. “It has been difficult, but we have persevered,” said Zelenskiy, who filmed himself on a mobile phone as he walked from his office down the central Hrushevskoho street towards central Kyiv’s “wall of remembrance”.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy will join a video summit of G7 leaders on Wednesday, host Japan said, hours after the Ukrainian president unexpectedly skipped a virtual meeting with US senators at the last minute. Almost two years after Russia’s invasion, the signs are growing that western support for Ukraine is fraying just as a counteroffensive struggles and as president Vladimir Putin’s oil revenues rebound.

  • Britain on Wednesday announced 46 new sanctions against individuals and groups from different countries it said were involved in Russia’s military supply chains and helping sustain its invasion of Ukraine. Those sanctioned included entities operating in China, Serbia and Uzbekistan, Britain’s foreign ministry said.

  • British police said they had issued an alert to financial institutions and other members of the UK regulated sector to warn that Russia was trying to obtain sanctioned goods through intermediary countries. The National Crime Agency, which issued the alert, said Russia was using complex supply chains and alternative supply routes to acquire sanctioned products, Reuters reported.

  • Charities and NGOs supplying military aid to Ukraine’s armed forces are facing delays of several weeks to critical supplies of drones, electronics and pickup trucks due to border protests by Polish truckers, three industry sources told Reuters. Thousands of trucks carrying commercial goods have been backed up for weeks at Poland’s border crossings with Ukraine because of the protests, which began on 6 November. Hauliers in Slovakia began a similar blockade on 1 December.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy cancelled a planned address to US senators on Tuesday, with the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, announcing the president would not be able to attend the classified briefing because “something came up at the last minute”. The Ukrainian president had been expected to speak to senators over Zoom. The news came a day after the White House sent an urgent warning that Kyiv’s war efforts to defend itself from Russia’s invasion may grind to a halt without further US military and economic assistance. The Biden administration is urging Congress to approve billions of dollars in support for Ukraine.

  • Hungary’s ruling party has submitted a resolution to parliament calling on the government to not support the start of talks on Ukraine’s EU accession. The moves comes as the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is stepping up pressure on Brussels before a crucial EU summit next week, Reuters reported.

  • Sweden has signed a defence co-operation agreement with Washington that will allow the US access to all military bases across the Scandinavian country, saying the deal will bolster regional security. The Swedish defence minister, Pal Jonson, said the deal, signed in Washington on Tuesday, “will create better conditions for Sweden to be able to receive support from the United States in the event of a war or crisis”, AP reported.

  • Six children will be returned to Ukraine from Russia under a deal brokered by Qatar, according to a Qatari official. The children are en route to Ukraine via Moscow, the source said. This is the second phase of a Qatar-mediated return of children, after four minors were returned in October.

  • The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, has told the House of Lords that there will be no reduction in UK military support for Ukraine in 2024. The update comes after the White House warned that “it is weeks away from running out of money to support Kyiv’s defence against Russia’s invasion”.

  • At least two people were killed and one wounded after Russian forces struck the southern city of Kherson, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency said. Regional prosecutors opened a war crimes investigation into one of the strikes, which occurred at about 9am and killed a 48-year-old man and a woman who had not yet been identified.

  • Russia claims it downed dozens of Ukrainian drones on Tuesday. Russian air defence systems destroyed or intercepted 41 Ukraine-launched drones, the Russian defence ministry has said.

  • Ukraine’s military shot down 10 out of 17 attack drones launched on Tuesday by Russia, Ukrainian authorities said. The governor of Ukraine’s western Lviv region, Maksym Kozytskyy, said three drones had struck an unspecified infrastructure target, causing a fire, but damage had been minimal and no casualties had been reported.

My colleague Rachel Hall will be with you for the next hour or so.

Charities and NGOs supplying military aid to Ukraine’s armed forces are facing delays of several weeks to critical supplies of drones, electronics and pickup trucks due to border protests by Polish truckers, three industry sources told Reuters.

Thousands of trucks carrying commercial goods have been backed up for weeks at Poland’s border crossings with Ukraine because of the protests, which began on 6 November. Hauliers in Slovakia began a similar blockade on 1 December.

The protesters want to end Ukrainian truckers’ permit-free access to the EU, saying Ukrainian drivers are undercutting their prices. Kyiv says the volume of wartime traffic makes a truck permit system impractical.

While the protesters say they allow humanitarian and military aid through, many resources required by Ukraine’s armed forces are bought by civilian organisations and transported on commercial trucks, which are not allowed to pass the blockade.

Ukraine’s government has much smaller financial resources to fund its military than Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

As a result, the armed forces have relied heavily on hundreds of millions of dollars of auxiliary supplies of items like drones, vehicles and body armour from Ukrainian charities throughout the war.

British police said they had issued an alert to financial institutions and other members of the UK regulated sector to warn that Russia was trying to obtain sanctioned goods through intermediary countries.

The National Crime Agency, which issued the alert, said Russia was using complex supply chains and alternative supply routes to acquire sanctioned products, Reuters reported.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Ukrainians on Wednesday that Kyiv would defeat Russia and win a fair peace “against all odds” as the future of vital US military and financial aid hung in the balance.

Zelenskiy 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, Reuters reported.

“It has been difficult, but we have persevered,” said Zelenskiy, who filmed himself on a mobile phone as he walked from his office down the central Hrushevskoho street towards central Kyiv’s “wall of remembrance”.

“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.”

His remarks appeared to respond to uncertainty over the future of a $60bn aid package being debated in US Congress that has been stuck for weeks.

Relations between Russia and the United Arab Emirates are at an unprecedented high, Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Wednesday.

Russia and the UAE cooperate in Opec+ and are involved in major oil and gas projects, Reuters reported.

Putin said in televised comments that the situation in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be among the topics of discussion.

Putin is visiting the UAE and Saudi Arabia on a rare trip abroad. He will also hold talks with the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss oil, Opec+ and the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

Britain announces 46 new sanctions aimed at Russia’s military supply chain

Britain on Wednesday announced 46 new sanctions against individuals and groups from different countries it said were involved in Russia’s military supply chains and helping sustain its invasion of Ukraine.

Those sanctioned included entities operating in China, Serbia and Uzbekistan, Britain’s foreign ministry said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy presents an award to an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a hospital on Ukrainian Armed Forces Day in Kyiv
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy presents an award to an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a hospital on Ukrainian Armed Forces Day in Kyiv on Wednesday. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Sweden has signed a defence co-operation agreement with Washington that will allow the US access to all military bases across the Scandinavian country, saying the deal will bolster regional security.

The Swedish defence minister, Pal Jonson, said the deal, signed in Washington on Tuesday, “will create better conditions for Sweden to be able to receive support from the United States in the event of a war or crisis”, AP reported.

Jonson told the Swedish broadcaster SVT that it did not mean that “all 17 locations will be used” but “where it is most important from a military perspective for them to be able to store defence equipment, for example”.

The deal was signed at the Pentagon by Jonson and the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, who said that by adding the capabilities of the Swedish armed forces to Nato, “we will get even stronger”.

The deal “sends a strong signal that we remain committed to addressing security challenges together”, Austin said.

Sweden’s strategically important Baltic Sea island of Gotland sits a little more than 186 miles from the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

Putin arrives in Abu Dhabi

Vladimir Putin has arrived in Abu Dhabi, Russian state news agencies have reported.

The Russian president is visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a rare trip abroad and will hold talks with the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss oil, Opec and the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin on Wednesday will visit both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as Dubai hosts the United Nations’ Cop28 climate talks – despite facing an arrest warrant from the international criminal court over the war in Ukraine.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE has signed the ICC founding treaty, meaning they don’t face any obligation to detain the Russian president over the warrant accusing him of being personally responsible for the abductions of children from Ukraine during his war on the country.

However, the visit comes as armed UN police patrol a portion of Dubai’s Expo City now considered international territory for the talks, again highlighting the Emirates’ expansive business ties to Russia that have increased significantly in the time since grinding western sanctions have targeted Moscow.

Ukrainians in Dubai for the event expressed outrage over Putin being in the UAE at the same time they accused him of committing environmental crimes in their country.

“It is extremely upsetting to see how the world treats war criminals, because that’s what he is, in my opinion,” said Marharyta Bohdanova, a worker at the Ukrainian pavilion at Cop28, wiping away tears. “Seeing how people let people like him in the big events … treating him like a dear guest, is just so hypocritical in my opinion.”

Officials at Russia’s pavilion declined to speak to the Associated Press.

Hungary’s ruling party has submitted a resolution to parliament calling on the government to not support the start of talks on Ukraine’s EU accession.

The moves comes as the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is stepping up pressure on Brussels before a crucial EU summit next week, Reuters reported.

His ruling party said the start of accession talks with Ukraine should be based on a consensus among member states and “conditions are not there for that today”.

Russia launched a total of 48 attack drones overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine’s air force said on Wednesday, adding that its air defence systems destroyed 41 of the drones before they reached their target.

The air force said all of the attack drones were Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones, Reuters reported.

It did not say what happened to the drones that were not downed or whether there was any damage from the attack.

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to our continuing live coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy will join a video summit of G7 leaders on Wednesday, host Japan said, hours after the Ukrainian president unexpectedly skipped a virtual meeting with US senators at the last minute.

Almost two years after Russia’s invasion, the signs are growing that western support for Ukraine is fraying just as a counteroffensive struggles and as president Vladimir Putin’s oil revenues rebound.

At the meeting, hosted by the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, Zelenskiy will “join the first part”, the government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Besides Ukraine, the talks will cover the Middle East, support for developing countries and artificial intelligence, a White House official said.

Below is a summary of the latest developments:

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy cancelled a planned address to US senators on Tuesday, with the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, announcing the president would not be able to attend the classified briefing because “something came up at the last minute”. The Ukrainian president had been expected to speak to senators over Zoom. The news came a day after the White House sent an urgent warning that Kyiv’s war efforts to defend itself from Russia’s invasion may grind to a halt without further US military and economic assistance. The Biden administration is urging Congress to approve billions of dollars in support for Ukraine.

  • Vladimir Putin will travel to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on a rare overseas trip to discuss the Israel-Hamas war as Moscow seeks to reassert Russia’s role in the Middle East. The Russian president is making only his fifth trip abroad since the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for him in March that accused him of responsibility for the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia have signed the ICC’s founding treaty, which means they would not have to arrest him.

  • Six children will be returned to Ukraine from Russia under a deal brokered by Qatar, according to a Qatari official. The children are en route to Ukraine via Moscow, the source said. This is the second phase of a Qatar-mediated return of children, after four minors were returned in October.

  • The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, has told the House of Lords that there will be no reduction in UK military support for Ukraine in 2024. The update comes after the White House warned that “it is weeks away from running out of money to support Kyiv’s defence against Russia’s invasion”.

  • At least two people were killed and one wounded after Russian forces struck the southern city of Kherson, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency said. Regional prosecutors opened a war crimes investigation into one of the strikes, which occurred at about 9am and killed a 48-year-old man and a woman who had not yet been identified.

  • Russia claims it downed dozens of Ukrainian drones on Tuesday. Russian air defence systems destroyed or intercepted 41 Ukraine-launched drones, the Russian defence ministry has said.

  • Ukraine’s military shot down 10 out of 17 attack drones launched on Tuesday by Russia, Ukrainian authorities said. The governor of Ukraine’s western Lviv region, Maksym Kozytskyy, said three drones had struck an unspecified infrastructure target, causing a fire, but damage had been minimal and no casualties had been reported.

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