Russia-Ukraine war live: EU leader urges China to use influence on Russia to end war in Ukraine | Ukraine

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EU leader urges China to use influence on Russia to end war in Ukraine

Jennifer Rankin

The head of the European Council, Charles Michel, has urged China’s top leaders to use their influence over Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Michel, who chairs EU leader summits, held talks with Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Thursday, in the first face-to-face encounter between the head of an EU institution and China’s top officials since the start of the pandemic.

Speaking to reporters, Michel said the pair had met for around three hours, where they spent “a lot of time” discussing the situation in Ukraine. Michel said he had urged Xi to use its influence as a permanent member of the UN security council to convince Russia to accept international law.

Michel said:

President Xi made very clear that China is not providing weapons to Russia,” Michel said, adding that the Chinese leader had also said Russia’s “nuclear threat is not acceptable and not responsible”.

I sincerely hope that all the international community, China included, will use all possible tools and instruments to advocate in order to convince the Kremlin and Russia to end the war and to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine

The EU demands echo a similar message delivered to Xi by the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, last month, when the German chancellor went to Beijing.

In a readout of the meeting provided by EU officials, it was said Michel and Xi had discussed “Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war against Ukraine”. Last month a video message for a Shanghai trade fair by Michel that used similar language was dropped from the programme by Chinese authorities.

While Michel’s message is consistent with the EU line on Ukraine, ahead of the trip diplomats had worried about political missteps from the European Council president. EU diplomats also raised eyebrows about Michel’s decision to meet Xi alone, without the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is responsible for drafting and executing EU policy.

Key events

Russia has pulled back forces from towns opposite Kherson, says Ukraine

Ukraine’s military said Russia had pulled some troops from towns on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River from Kherson city, the first official Ukrainian report of a Russian withdrawal on what is now the main frontline in the south.

The statement gave only limited details and made no mention of any Ukrainian forces having crossed the Dnipro. Ukrainian officials also stressed that Russia had intensified shelling across the river, knocking out power again in Kherson where electricity had only begun to be restored nearly three weeks after Russian troops vacated the city and fled across the river.

Since Russia abandoned Kherson last month, nine months into its invasion of Ukraine, the river now forms the entire southern stretch of the front, Reuters reported.

Russia has already told civilians to leave towns within 15 km of the river and withdrawn its civilian administration from the city of Nova Kakhovka on the bank. Ukrainian officials have previously said Russia pulled back some artillery near the river to safer positions further away, but until now had stopped short of saying Russian forces were quitting towns.

“A decrease in the number of Russian soldiers and military equipment is observed in the settlement of Oleshky,” the military said, referring to the town opposite Kherson city, on the far side of a destroyed bridge over the Dnipro.

“Enemy troops were withdrawn from certain settlements of the Kherson oblast and dispersed in forest strips along the section of the Oleshky – Hola Prystan highway,” it said, referring to a 25-km (15-mile) stretch of road through riverside towns scattered in woods on the bank opposite Kherson city.

It said most of the Russian troops in the area were recently mobilised reservists, suggesting that Moscow’s best-trained professional troops had already left. Reuters could not independently confirm the report.

Russia’s foreign minister has accused the west of becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying it with weapons and training its soldiers.

Sergei Lavrov also said that Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities and other key infrastructure that have left millions without power, heating and water were intended to weaken Ukraine’s military potential and derail the shipments of western weapons, the Associated Press reported.

“You shouldn’t say that the US and Nato aren’t taking part in this war, you are directly participating in it,” Lavrov said in a video call with reporters.

“And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel. You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries.”

He said that the barrage of Russian missile strikes was intended to “knock out energy facilities that allow you to keep pumping deadly weapons into Ukraine in order to kill the Russians”.

“The infrastructure that is targeted by those attacks is used to ensure the combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces and the nationalist battalions,” he said.

An investigation is under way into a suspected letter bomb sent to the US embassy in Madrid.

It would be the sixth after five were sent to the Ukrainian embassy and Spanish government officials on Wednesday.

Spanish police confirmed to the Reuters news agency that an envelope similar to the previous letter bombs had been intercepted at the embassy.

The road outside the embassy in the Spanish capital is closed with police on the scene.

EU leader urges China to use influence on Russia to end war in Ukraine

Jennifer Rankin

Jennifer Rankin

The head of the European Council, Charles Michel, has urged China’s top leaders to use their influence over Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Michel, who chairs EU leader summits, held talks with Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Thursday, in the first face-to-face encounter between the head of an EU institution and China’s top officials since the start of the pandemic.

Speaking to reporters, Michel said the pair had met for around three hours, where they spent “a lot of time” discussing the situation in Ukraine. Michel said he had urged Xi to use its influence as a permanent member of the UN security council to convince Russia to accept international law.

Michel said:

President Xi made very clear that China is not providing weapons to Russia,” Michel said, adding that the Chinese leader had also said Russia’s “nuclear threat is not acceptable and not responsible”.

I sincerely hope that all the international community, China included, will use all possible tools and instruments to advocate in order to convince the Kremlin and Russia to end the war and to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine

The EU demands echo a similar message delivered to Xi by the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, last month, when the German chancellor went to Beijing.

In a readout of the meeting provided by EU officials, it was said Michel and Xi had discussed “Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war against Ukraine”. Last month a video message for a Shanghai trade fair by Michel that used similar language was dropped from the programme by Chinese authorities.

While Michel’s message is consistent with the EU line on Ukraine, ahead of the trip diplomats had worried about political missteps from the European Council president. EU diplomats also raised eyebrows about Michel’s decision to meet Xi alone, without the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is responsible for drafting and executing EU policy.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has called for the EU to include Russia’s missile industry in its next sanctions package.

Kuleba says it is warranted for their part in Russia’s war efforts, including those which have targeted Ukraine’s power infrastructure.

After meeting EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell in Poland, Kuleba tweeted: “I thanked the EU for its continued defence assistance and stressed that next EU sanctions should include those hitting Russia’s missile production industry: it must be put to a halt.”

More on the letter bombs that have been sent to officials in Spain, including at the Ukrainian embassy (see 10:46am).

Spain’s deputy interior minister, Rafael Pérez, told a press briefing that the letters do not justify raising the terror level in the country.

Reuters reports that early stages of the investigations suggest that the envelopes were sent within Spanish territory, and that the government was unaware of other letters being received in other countries.

You can find our Madrid correspondent Sam Jones’ report below.

The Russian embassy in Spain has condemned the sending of letter bombs to the Spanish government, and Ukrainian embassy.

In a statement on Twitter, in Spanish, it said: “Any terrorist threat or act, even more so directed against a diplomatic mission, is totally reprehensible.”

Switzerland has said it has frozen $7.9bn in Russian assets, in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The amount is higher than the figure published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) in July.

Switzerland is a favoured destination for wealthy Russians and their assets, and has also seen 15 Russian-owned properties seized.

The country’s banks are banned from accepting deposits from Russian nationals or people or entities based in Russia, of more than 100,000 swiss francs.

The government in Berne positioned itself alongside the EU over sanctions in the aftermath of the invasion in February.

Another PoW exchange will take place later on Thursday between Russia and Ukraine.

Fifty prisoners of war will be handed over in the latest swap between the two sides.

The news was revealed by the Russian-installed official in charge of the Russian-occupied region of Donetsk Denis Pushilin on Telegram.

Some more on that news conference with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, earlier on Thursday (see 9:34am).

He said that it was impossible to discuss nuclear arms control while the war in Ukraine continues, claiming the “western involvement” must not be ignored.

Russia backed out of talks that were due to start on Monday on the Start treaty on nuclear disarmament, which expires in 2026.

“It is crystal clear that it is impossible to discuss strategic stability today while ignoring everything that is happening in Ukraine. Because the goal in Ukraine has been declared – not to save Ukrainian democracy, but to defeat Russia on the battlefield, or even destroy Russia,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister claimed that Russia would have looked at extending the Start treaty in the past to include hypersonic weapons, and that the Kremlin was prepared to go beyond a statement in June 2021, issued jointly with the US, that a nuclear war could not be fought and was unacceptable. He said that it could have included that war between nuclear powers would be unacceptable.

However Lavrov added it was “naive” of the US to expect Russia to discuss strategic nuclear issues while the US appeared to be trying to destroy Russia, in the view of Moscow.

Nearly half of Ukraine’s electricity grid still damaged

A private energy company in Ukraine has said that 40% of the country’s power infrastructure is damaged, as Russian attacks continue to target the supply.

Millions have been without or with intermittent power since October, as Russia has focused on Ukraine’s energy system.

“Russia has destroyed 40% of the Ukrainian energy system with terrorist missile attacks. Dozens of energy workers were killed and wounded,” DTEK company said in a statement on social media.

“Electrical engineers are doing everything possible and impossible to stabilise the situation regarding energy supply,” the company said, according to Agence France-Presse, adding its technical teams are working “day and night” to quickly repair the infrastructure.

Nine people were confirmed to have died on Tuesday according to authorities, as incidents have increased where Ukrainians are trying to find alternative sources of energy, including generators and gas cylinders, both of which can be dangerous.

Summary

The time in Kyiv is 1pm. Here is a round-up of the day’s stories so far:

  • Police in Spain are investigating four more incendiary devices and letter bombs, a day after one exploded at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid. The devices have now been sent to the prime minister, the defence ministry, an arms company that makes rocket launchers donated to Kyiv, and a military airbase near the Spanish capital, as well as the one found at the embassy.

  • Ukraine dismissed the deputy chief engineer of its Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday, accusing him of collaborating with Moscow’s forces and treason, the Energoatom state nuclear energy company said. The statement was published a day after Russia said it had promoted the engineer, Yuriy Chernichuk, to serve as the director of the vast nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine.

  • The US army awarded a $1.2bn contract to Raytheon Technologies Co for six national advanced surface-to-air missile systems (Nasams) for Ukraine on Wednesday, the Pentagon said. The United States has approved sending Ukraine a total of eight Nasams to help fend off Russian missile and drone attacks.

  • The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said the west had a real chance to avoid conflict in Ukraine, but had chosen to spurn Russian proposals to halt the expansion of Nato and agree a special security status for Kyiv. Lavrov made the comments during a news conference in Moscow, Reuters reported.

  • Russia said on Thursday the German parliament’s move to recognise the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine as a Soviet-imposed genocide was an anti-Russian provocation and an attempt by Germany to whitewash its Nazi past. In a decision welcomed by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, German lawmakers passed a resolution on Wednesday declaring the death by starvation of millions of Ukrainians – the Holodomor – was genocide.

  • The UN appealed for record funds for aid next year, AFP reports, as the Ukraine war and other conflicts, climate emergencies and the still-simmering pandemic push more people into crisis, and some towards famine. The United Nations’ annual Global Humanitarian Overview estimated that 339 million people worldwide will need some form of emergency assistance next year – a staggering 65 million more people than the estimate a year ago.

  • As Ukrainians wake up on the first official day of winter, nearly 6 million people across a majority of Ukraine’s regions have no electricity, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday night. Ukraine’s state emergency service has said nine people had been killed in fires, after breaking safety rules in an attempt to heat their homes after Russian attacks on power facilities.

  • The European Commission president has proposed a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russia’s “crime of aggression” against Ukraine. Ursula von der Leyen also wants to use the proceeds of Russian funds that have been frozen under western sanctions to aid Ukraine.

  • Russian forces tried to advance in eastern Ukraine and trained tank, mortar and artillery fire on Kherson in the south, the Ukrainian military said, as western allies sought to buttress Ukraine and its neighbours against Moscow.

  • Ukraine needs the US made Patriot missile defence systems to protect its civilian infrastructure, under heavy attack by Russia, foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said, adding he would be working with the German government on this issue. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned Nato on Tuesday against providing Ukraine with Patriot systems, Reuters reported.

  • The UK has announced a fresh round of sanctions against 22 Russians, including those the Foreign Office says were involved in enlisting criminals to fight in Ukraine. James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, said on Wednesday his department would target a new set of officials, including Denis Manturov, the deputy prime minister, who is responsible for troop equipment supplies.

  • US president Joe Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, pledged on Wednesday to make the release of detained Americans a priority if she is confirmed to one of most important, and challenging, US diplomatic posts.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for the moment. My colleague Harry Taylor will be with you shortly to continue bringing you all the latest news from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Spanish police investigate four more incendiary devices and letter bombs

Sam Jones

Police in Spain are investigating four more incendiary devices and letter bombs, a day after one exploded at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid.

The devices have now been sent to the prime minister, the defence ministry, an arms company that makes rocket launchers donated to Kyiv, and a military airbase near the Spanish capital, as well as the one found at the embassy.

The first letter bomb exploded when it was opened by an embassy employee on Wednesday, causing minor injuries to the worker’s hands and leading Ukraine to warn its diplomats to bolster their security precautions.

The second, discovered hours later at the Instalaza weapons firm in Zaragoza in the Aragón region that manufactures C90 rocket launchers, was deactivated by bomb squad officers.

A child swings at a park in front of damaged residential building due to airstrikes in Vyshorod, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine.

A child swings at park in front of damaged residential building due to airstrikes as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Vyshorod, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine on November 30, 2022.
A child swings at park in front of damaged residential building due to airstrikes as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Vyshorod, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine on November 30, 2022. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine sacks Zaporizhzhia engineer accused of collaboration

Ukraine dismissed the deputy chief engineer of its Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday, accusing him of collaborating with Moscow’s forces and treason, the Energoatom state nuclear energy company said.

The statement was published a day after Russia said it had promoted the engineer, Yuriy Chernichuk, to serve as the director of the vast nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine.

Spanish PM office confirms ‘similar’ package to letter bombs sent to him

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s office received on 24 November a letter containing an explosive device “similar” to the ones received by the Ukrainian embassy, a Spanish weapons manufacturer on Wednesday and an air force base on Thursday, the interior ministry said.

Security around public and diplomatic buildings are to be stepped up after a series of letter-bombs were received around the country, the ministry added.

Spanish security forces found a third suspected explosive device hidden in an envelope mailed to a European Union satellite centre located at an air force base in Torrejon de Ardoz, outside Madrid, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

After scanning the envelope by X-ray, air force security officers determined it contained “a mechanism”, the ministry statement said. Police were still analysing the parcel on Thursday morning.

The satellite centre supports the EU’s common foreign and security policy by gathering information from space intelligence devices, according to its website. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described such systems as “the eyes of Europe” in September.

Two letter-bombs were found on Wednesday addressed to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid and to a weapons manufacturer, Instalaza in Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain, police said.

Instalaza manufactures the C90 rocket launcher that Spain has supplied to Ukraine.

The first letter-bomb exploded, causing minor injuries to a Ukrainian embassy official.





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