Vladimir Putin has threatened Finland and the wider Nato alliance, according to a US war think tank, while Russian paramilitaries based in Ukraine have claimed responsibility for a cross-border attack.
The Russian President’s interview with his country’s state TV on Sunday is indicative of the Kremlin’s “hostile intent” towards the alliance, which poses a “credible and costly threat to Western security”, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Meanwhile, the Freedom of Russia Legion – which says it was formed in spring 2022 to fight Putin’s forces from within the Armed Forces of Ukraine – claimed to have carried out a cross-border raid a few miles into Russia’s Belgorod region on Sunday.
The group, designated as terrorist in Russia, alleged it had destroyed a platoon stronghold of Russian troops near Trebreno village, without specifying whether it had destroyed infrastructure or killed soldiers, and said it had left mines behind.
It comes after Ukraine and Russia launched a swarm of drones at each other’s territories on Sunday as both sides step up attacks, with the Russian assault reportedly killing one person in Odesa and the Ukrainian strike targeting a Russian military airfield.
Russia’s diplomatic mission to the European Union said on Monday that new sanctions imposed by the EU showed that punitive measures against Moscow had failed.
“The Russian economy is not ‘torn to shreds’, attempts to isolate us on the international stage, including the Brussels platform, have failed miserably, the goal of ‘inflicting a strategic defeat’ has not been achieved,” the mission said in a statement posted online.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry in Moscow issued no statement, saying only that a response to the sanctions would be forthcoming.
Ukrainian President Zelensky has welcomed the EU’s adoption of a 12th package of sanctions against Russia on Monday.
The package focuses on imposing additional import and export bans on Russia and closing loopholes, it said. It also prohibits the direct and indirect import, purchase or transfer of diamonds from Russia.
“I welcome the adoption of the 12th EU sanctions package against Russia,” Zelensky wrote on X.
“Full ban on Russian diamonds; closing loopholes in existing sanctions; import restrictions on dual-use goods and other items, which provide Russia a total of €2.2 billion in profits every year and assist it to continue its aggression against Ukraine. “
Russian soldiers are likely being sent back to combat duty with unhealed wounds, the UK’s ministry of defence said on Monday.
In their latest defence intelligence update, Britain said that members of Russian units are “highly likely being returned to combat duties with unhealed wounds, and even after limb amputations”.
They added that the information follows credible reports that some units have frequently received minimal or no treatment.
Ukraine has been forced to scale back military operations due to a shortfall of foreign aid, a senior army general said
Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi told Reuters that there is now a shortage of artillery shells and said the drop in foreign military aid was having an impact on the battlefield
“There’s a problem with ammunition, especially post-Soviet (shells) – that’s 122 mm, 152 mm. And today these problems exist across the entire front line,” he said in an interview.
“The volumes that we have today are not sufficient for us today, given our needs. So, we’re redistributing it. We’re replanning tasks that we had set for ourselves and making them smaller because we need to provide for them,” he said, without providing details.
The comments underline Kyiv’s reliance on Western military aid to fight Russian troops along a 1,000-km front nearly 22 months into the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two.
He added:“In some areas, we moved (to defence), and in some we continue our offensive actions – by manoeuvre, fire and by moving forward. And we are preparing our reserves for our further large-scale actions.”
A Russian man suspected of committing war crimes in Ukraine in 2014-2015 has been remanded in custody in Finland.
Finnish authorities took Yan Petrovsky into custody in August after Ukraine issued an arrest warrant for the man who is suspected of participating in a terrorist organisation, court documents seen by Reuters showed.
Ukraine had requested extradition of Petrovsky but the Finnish Supreme Court earlier this month rejected this, citing the risk of inhumane prison conditions.
The deadline for pressing charges is May 31, 2024, the district court said on Monday.
Social media channels linked to Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries said in August that Petrovsky was a top fighter in Rusich, a far-right sub-unit affiliated to Wagner.
Rusich identified Petrovsky as a founding member and leader of the unit who has been under European Union and United States sanctions since last year, Reuters reports.
Around 4,800 combat-ready German soldiers are expected to be stationed on the Russian border in Lithuania by 2027, German and Lithuanian defence ministers said on Monday.
The agreement marks the first permanent foreign deployment of German soldiers since World War Two.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius compared what he called a “historic” agreement to the stationing of allied forces in West Germany during the Cold War, deployed to defend Western Europe in case of a Soviet attack.
“The eastern flank has now moved to the east, and it’s the duty of Germany to protect it,” Pistorius told a joint press joint conference with his counterpart in Lithuania, which borders both Russia and its close ally Belarus.
Most of the units will be arriving in 2025-2026, and they and their families will get “attractive conditions”, including German-language schools, kindergartens, housing and flight connections, said Pistorius.
Ukraine‘s top general has criticised President Volodymyr Zelensky’s previous decision to fire military recruitment chiefs on Monday.
Zelensky fired all of Ukraine‘s regional military recruitment heads in August in a corruption crackdown.
He said at the time a state investigation into centres across Ukraine had exposed abuses by officials ranging from illegal enrichment to transporting draft-eligible men across the border despite a wartime ban on them leaving the country.
When asked by reporters about whether the decision affected mobilisation levels, Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi criticised the recruitment chiefs’ sacking.
“These were professionals, they knew how to do this, and they are gone,” Interfax Ukraine cited him as saying.
Asked by reporters to comment on the Defence Ministry’s recent plan to boost military recruitment, Zaluzhnyi said the old system should be brought back.
He told Interfax Ukraine: “It is still a little early to evaluate recruiting. As for mobilization issues, it is not necessary to strengthen it, but to return it to those boundaries (and) to those frameworks that worked before.”
Ukraine, which initially saw tens of thousands of eager volunteers queue up to fight off Russia’s invasion, is now trying to conscript more men to replace those currently at the front.
Angry social media posts have abounded in recent weeks purporting to show army recruiters turning up at gyms and resorts to hand out draft notices.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented documents to Russia’s Central Election Commission to register as a candidate in the 2024 presidential election.
“He submitted them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media.
Supporters of Mr Putin on Saturday formally nominated him to run in the 2024 presidential election as an independent candidate.
The nomination by a group of at least 500 supporters, under Russian election law, is mandatory for those running not on a party ticket.
Independent candidates also need to gather at least 300,000 signatures of support from 40 regions or more.
The group that nominated Mr Putin included top officials from the ruling United Russia party, prominent Russian actors and singers, athletes and other public figures.
The United States is planning one more aid package for Ukraine later in December, the White House said on Monday.
“When that one’s done … we will have no more replenishment authority available to us and we’re going to need Congress to act without delay,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.