Ukraine news – live: Putin ‘forcing troops with chronic health problems into battle’

Many Russian troops are being compelled to serve in Ukraine with "serious" health problems, while those forced to build trenches under fire are likely to have suffered "particularly heavy casualties", British defence experts believe.

A number of "common themes" are emerging in the experience of Moscow’s mobilised reservists, according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), with their deployment often characterised by "inadequate" training and personal equipment.

An MoD defence intelligence update suggests the Kremlin will likely be concerned that an increasing number of families are prepared to risk arrest by protesting against the conditions their relatives face at war.

Earlier the MoD said Russian reservists are being killed “in large numbers” in frontal assualts in Donetsk Oblast.

In its latest update, the ministry of defence said: “Mobilised reservists have highly likely experienced particularly heavy casualties after being committed to dig ambitious trench systems while under artillery fire around the Luhansk Oblast town of Svatove”.

The defence intelligence added that the eligibility of Russian reservists has often been questionable, and the training and equipment they are given is “inadequate”.

Key points

  • Putin ‘forcing troops with chronic health problems into battle’

  • Zelensky says Russian attacks on Kherson 'almost every hour'

  • Families of Russian reservists prepared to protest as large numbers of those mobilised killed

  • Russia spent $82bn on war since February, report says

  • Power restored to almost 50% consumers - Ukraine’s state grid operator

  • 7 killed, 21 injured in Kherson, governor says

Putin ‘forcing troops with chronic health problems into battle’

11:31 , Matt Mathers

Many Russian troops are being compelled to serve in Ukraine with "serious" health problems, while those forced to build trenches under fire are likely to have suffered "particularly heavy casualties", British defence experts believe.

A number of "common themes" are emerging in the experience of Moscow’s mobilised reservists, according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), with their deployment often characterised by "inadequate" training and personal equipment.

An MoD defence intelligence update suggests the Kremlin will likely be concerned that an increasing number of families are prepared to risk arrest by protesting against the conditions their relatives face at war.

Most mobilised reservists have previously served, it says, with "numerous examples" suggesting it is highly probably they are not having their medical status "adequately reviewed".

"Many are being compelled to serve with serious, chronic health conditions," the update states.

Multiple people killed in Russian bombardment of Kherson

10:09 , Matt Mathers

Kherson on Thursday came under its heaviest bombardment since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago.

The barrage of missiles killed four people outside a coffee shop and a woman was also killed next to her house, witnesses said, speaking to Associated Press reporters.

Hospitals without power and water are also contending with the gruesome after-effects of intensifying Russian strikes.

They hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets.

Nato - we won’t back down on support Ukraine

09:53 , Matt Mathers

Nato has reaffirmed its support for Ukraine, which has made major gains in recent weeks around Kherson - a regional economic centre.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said the military alliance would “not back down” in its efforts to supply Kyiv with non-lethal aid.

“NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said.

“We will not back down,” he told reporters in Brussels on Friday ahead of a foreign ministers’ meeting of the alliance in Bucharest next week.

Warmonger Putin to meet mothers of soldiers

09:28 , Matt Mathers

Warmonger Vladimir Putin has insisted he has no regrets about unleashing his bloody conflict in Ukraine as he prepares to meet the mothers of soldiers whose lives he has put at risk on the front line.

Up to 100,000 Russian troops and reservists have been killed or wounded so far in the illegal war, which Mr Putin continues to say is a “special military operation” to end what he claims - without evidence - is genocide against ethnic Russians in the country.

Russian resident Vladimir Putin (Mikhail Metzel/AP/PA) (AP)
Russian resident Vladimir Putin (Mikhail Metzel/AP/PA) (AP)

The war in Ukraine has killed and wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, according to the United States, and the Russian invasion has triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.

"On the eve of Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in Russia on the last Sunday of November, Vladimir Putin will meet with the mothers of servicemen participating in the special military operation," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Kyiv residents in survival mode as Putin knocks out power

08:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Residents of Ukraine‘s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafés for power and warmth Thursday, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and much of the country into the dark.

In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams labored to reconnect supplies.

Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back. Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s aerial onslaught on Ukraine‘s power grid left many with neither.

Cafés in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat but power had not.

His freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor.

So he hopped into a cab and crossed the Dnieper River from left bank to right, to a café that he’d noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes.

Sure enough, it was serving hot drinks, hot food and the music and Wi-Fi were on.“I’m here because there is heating, coffee and light,” he said. “Here is life.”

Kyiv residents fill plastic bottles at a water pump in a park in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Kyiv residents fill plastic bottles at a water pump in a park in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)

James Cleverly pledges more ambulances for Ukraine during visit to country

08:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

James Cleverly has announced a package of “hands-on” support to help Ukraine through the winter while on a visit to the war-torn nation.

The Foreign Secretary was due to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky during his trip, which comes days after Prime MinisterRishi Sunak travelled to Kyiv.

Mr Cleverly announced the practical support as Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure has been pounded by Russian strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.

UK to send more ambulances to war-torn Ukraine

UK foreign minister to pledge further winter support on Ukraine visit

08:23 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

British foreign minister James Cleverly will pledge millions of pounds in further support for Kyiv during a visit to Ukraine to ensure the country has the practical help it needs through the winter, his office said.

Cleverly, who is set to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky and foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on the trip, also condemned Russia for its “brutal attacks” on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure.

A statement from his office issued early on Friday said Cleverly had travelled to Ukraine, which this week suffered the most devastating Russian air strikes on its energy infrastructure so far in the months-long war.

“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine,” said Cleverly, as he set out 3 million pounds to help rebuild vital infrastructure and committed another 5 million for a Ukraine-led initiative to ship grain to countries at risk of famine.

“I’ve seen here first-hand how the UK’s efforts are helping brave citizens to resist and rebuild. Our support will continue for as long as it takes for this remarkable country to recover,” he added.

Cleverly’s trip to the European country comes just days after new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his first visit to Kyiv during which he vowed to continue the firm support for Ukraine that Britain provided under his predecessors.

Air defences triggered in Russia-annexed Crimea town -TASS

08:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The air defence system has been triggered in the town of Armiansk in Russia-annexed Crimea peninsula, TASS news agency quoted a local mayor as saying on Friday.

Families of Russian reservists prepared to protest as large numbers of those mobilised killed

07:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

An increasing number of reservists’ families are prepared to risk arrest by protesting against the conditions their relatives are serving under, the UK defence ministry has said.

It comes as the ministry reported that “mobilised reservists have highly likely experienced particularly heavy casualties after being committed to dig ambitious trench systems while under artillery fire around the Luhansk Oblast town of Svatove”.

The defence intelligence added that the eligibility of Russian reservists has often been questionable, and the training and equipment they are given is “inadequate”.

ICYMI: Putin to meet the mums of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

07:36 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin will meet the mothers of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine in time for the country’s celebration of Mother’s Day this weekend.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports:

Putin to meet the mums of Russian soldiers on Mother’s Day

15,000 people missing during Ukraine war

07:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

More than 15,000 people have gone missing since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The figures were provided by an official at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), reported Reuters.

The actual figure of those who are missing might be considerably higher.

Matthew Holliday, ICMP’s programme director for Europe, said it was unclear how many people were held in detention, had been forcibly transferred, were separated from their family members, or had died.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Heavy bombardment in Kherson

07:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Over two weeks after Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson, the city came under its heaviest bombardment yesterday.

Hospitals without power and water are also contending with the gruesome after-effects of intensifying Russian strikes, reported Associated Press.

Russian strikes have hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets.

Ukraine’s general staff said that Russian forces fired 67 cruise missiles and 10 drones during Wednesday’s “massive attack on residential buildings and energy infrastructure” in Kyiv and several other regions in Ukraine.

Ukrainian servicemen drive towards the frontline in Kherson, southern Ukraine on 23 November (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Ukrainian servicemen drive towards the frontline in Kherson, southern Ukraine on 23 November (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ICYMI: Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

06:40 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia’s “special military operation” has now been raging for nine months, the conflict continuing to record devastating casualties and force the mass displacement of millions of Ukrainians.

Thomas Kingsley, Joe Sommerlad explain the ongoing crisis and how it might unfold:

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

We will endure despite cold and blackouts, Ukraine's first lady says

06:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska has said that Ukraine will endure the winter despite the cold and the blackouts caused by Russian missiles.

In an interview with BBC, Ms Zelenska said: “We are ready to endure this.”

“We’ve had so many terrible challenges, seen so many victims, so much destruction, that blackouts are not the worst thing to happen to us.”

She added: “We all understand that without victory, there will be no peace. It would be a false peace and wouldn’t last long.”

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Kremlin denies energy infrastructure attacks were aimed at civilians

06:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia has acknowledged that it targeted Ukraine’s energy facilities but denied that they were aimed at civilians.

Defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said they were linked to Ukraine’s military command and control system and that the aim was to disrupt flows of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to front lines.

“We are conducting strikes against infrastructure in response to the unbridled flow of weapons to Ukraine and the reckless appeals of Kyiv to defeat Russia,” said Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

Authorities for Kyiv and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of seven people killed and dozens of wounded.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift blame for civilian hardship.

“Ukraine’s leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal, has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to meet the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, end all possible suffering of the civilian population,” he said.

Local residents queue for access to a water pump in a park to fill plastic bottles in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Local residents queue for access to a water pump in a park to fill plastic bottles in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)

Power restored to almost 50% consumers, Ukraine's state grid operator says

05:40 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Power supply has been restored for up to 50 per cent of consumers as of yesterday evening, Ukraine’s state grid operator Ukrenergo has said, reported The Kyiv Independent.

This after Russia’s mass missile strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure the day before.

“The consequences of yesterday’s missile attack are felt by all regions of Ukraine. It is impossible to tell any terms of full recovery now,” Ukrenergo said.

However, a “significant part” of thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants are already operating, the company added.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in an energy infrastructure facilities, damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, October 18, 2022 (via REUTERS)
Firefighters work to put out a fire in an energy infrastructure facilities, damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, October 18, 2022 (via REUTERS)

Zelensky says Russian attacks on Kherson 'almost every hour'

05:20 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said repeated Russian attacks on Kherson Oblast continue “almost every hour”.

In his evening address yesterday, Mr Zelensky said the frequent attacks started after Russian forces were forced to withdraw from Kherson Oblast.

“Only the liberation of our land and reliable security guarantees for Ukraine can protect our people from any escalation by Russia,” he said.

“We are working with our partners every day for this.”

7 killed, 21 injured in Kherson, governor says

05:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Seven people have been killed and 21 others injured in Kherson Oblast in Russian strikes carried out through Thursday.

Kherson Oblast governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said in a post on Telegram: “Today is another terrible page in the history of our hero city.”

Russia spent $82bn on war in Ukraine since February

04:38 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia has spent $82bn on the war in Ukraine since it started its invasion on 24 February, Forbes has estimated.

The estimate includes the direct costs that are necessary to support military operations but excludes stable defense spending, or losses related to the economy.

The report added that Russia has already spent a quarter of last year’s $340bn revenues on military operations.

Moscow spent more than $5.5bn on the provision of artillery alone, with the average price of a Soviet-caliber projectile at about $1,000.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

04:19 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine