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Ukraine latest: Moldova bans pro-Russia party from local polls

The war in Ukraine, which broke out in February 2022 with Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, shows no sign of ending as both sides intensify attacks to gain control of contested regions.

Read our latest updates here. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Saturday, Nov. 4 (Tokyo time)

10:30 a.m. Russian forces, focused for weeks on seizing the key eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, are now intent on capturing its vast coking plant, the town’s mayor, Vitaliy Barabash, tells national television. “They have a new aim, and that’s the coking plant. They have to take it. Period,” Barabash said. “We understand that a [new] third wave of attacks is bound to start any day once the ground dries out and they can move forward. They are engaged in a build-up. We see and hear that.”

8:10 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appoints a new commander of its special forces, a unit known for conducting military operations in Moscow-held territories. The officer replaced in the shuffle said he had not been told why. Zelenskyy says in his nightly video address that Col. Serhiy Lupanchuk will now head the forces and his predecessor, Maj.-Gen. Viktor Horenko, who began leading the forces in July 2022, “will continue to perform special tasks” within the Defence Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate. The president gave no further explanation for the change.

6:00 a.m. Authorities in Moldova barred a pro-Russia party from taking part in local elections on the grounds it endangers national security — two days before the vote viewed as a litmus test of President Maia Sandu’s campaign to join the European Union. Prime Minister Dorin Recean announces the ban on candidates from the Chance Party linked to fugitive business magnate Ilan Shor, jailed in absentia earlier this year on fraud charges.

2:55 a.m. Turkey and France are ramping up engagement with Central Asia, traditionally a Russian sphere, as Moscow’s waning influence opens the door to a diplomatic tug of war.

The Turkey-led Organization of Turkic States has held its 10th summit in the Kazakh capital of Astana. The group of Turkic-language-speaking countries, which was renamed and strengthened in 2021, also includes Azerbaijan and former Soviet states Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

At the summit, leaders adopt 12 wide-ranging documents calling for broader economic, political, security and cultural cooperation. They urgedan immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas and expressed grave concern over the numerous civilian deaths in Gaza, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling it an “unprecedented human tragedy.” Read more.

The latest package of U.S. military aid to Ukraine includes Javelin anti-armor systems, the Pentagon says. (Photo by Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Service/handout via Reuters)

1:17 a.m. The U.S. announces its 50th tranche of military equipment from Department of Defense inventories for Ukraine since August 2021, including “additional air defense capabilities, artillery ammunition, anti-tank weapons” and more. The list includes a Patriot air defense battery and munitions, 12 National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems and munitions, 2,000-plus Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, 31 Abrams tanks, and small-arms ammunition and grenades.

The U.S. says it has committed more than $44.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine during the Biden administration, including $44.2 billion since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits training centers to mark the “Day of Missile Forces and Artillery and the Engineering Troops Day.” He is briefed on such equipment as artillery, vehicles and demining machinery.

Friday, Nov. 3

10:15 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says some Western weapons supplied to Ukraine are finding their way to the Middle East through the illegal arms market and being sold to the Taliban. “Now they say: weapons are getting into the Middle East from Ukraine. Well of course they are because they are being sold,” Putin says. “And they are being sold to the Taliban and from there they go onto wherever.” Ukraine says it keeps tight control over any weapons supplied to it, but some Western security officials have raised concerns and the U.S. has asked Ukraine to do more to address the broader issue of corruption.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova spoke to reporters on Nov. 3, brushing off the U.S.’s attempts to defeat Russia with sanctions.

  © Reuters

6:05 p.m. Russia dismissed new U.S. sanctions over the war in Ukraine, saying that the U.S. would never defeat Moscow, while the boss of Russia’s fastest growing natural gas company quipped that the sanctions were a badge of success. In new sanctions on hundreds of people and entities, the U.S. on Thursday targeted Russia’s energy capabilities, its evasion of existing sanctions, as well as a suicide drone that has been a menace to Ukrainian troops and equipment. “This is a continuation of the policy of inflicting, as they call it, ‘a strategic defeat’ on us,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, told Russian state television when asked about the new sanctions. “They will have to wait in vain forever before that happens.”

10:00 a.m. Russian drones hit civilian targets and triggered a fire early on Friday in and near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, officials say, but there was no immediate word on casualties. Kharkiv regional Gov. Oleh Synehubov, writing on Telegram, said the attacks targeted civilian infrastructure after midnight in the northeastern city and also struck a locality in the region. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the fire was being brought under control, without elaborating.

Thursday, Nov. 2

11:35 p.m. Washington announces a round of sweeping sanctions against Moscow, targeting energy and mining as well as sanctions evasion and an exploding drone that has caused major damage on the battlefield against Ukrainian troops and equipment.

The measures target a major company involved in the development, operation and ownership of a massive project in Siberia known as Arctic-2 LNG, the U.S. State Department says in a statement. The project is expected to ship liquefied natural gas to global markets.

Also targeted is the KUB-BLA and Lancet attack drones being used by the Russia in Ukraine, designating a network it accused of procuring items in support of their production as well as the creator and designer of the drones.

Titanium mining operations are also part of the sanctions.

5:05 a.m. Ukraine’s commander-in-chief says the war with Russia was moving to a new stage of static and attritional fighting, a phase he warned could benefit Moscow and allow it to rebuild its military power, Reuters reports by citing an article in The Economist.

“Basic weapons, such as missiles and shells, remain essential. But Ukraine’s armed forces need key military capabilities and technologies to break out of this kind of war. The most important one is air power,” General Valery Zaluzhnyi wrote.

1:55 a.m. North Korea is preparing to launch a military reconnaissance satellite with Russian assistance, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, which believes that Pyongyang is exchanging military supplies for technological know-how.

The development comes after two failed attempts by North Korea this year — in May and August — to launch military satellites.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had hinted he would support North Korea’s satellite development when he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in September. Read more.

Wednesday, Nov. 1

9:00 p.m. The Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Kyiv office has reopened, a move Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa says will help provide a wide range of prompt assistance for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Japan’s government will plans to host a conference on promoting Ukraine’s economic recovery in early 2024.

1:00 p.m. An air raid alert has been declared in the Crimean port of Sevastopol and traffic on the Crimean Bridge as well as sea transport were suspended, Russian-installed officials in the Crimean Peninsula said early on Wednesday.

5:00 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had an introductory meeting with newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday, the State Department says, adding the two discussed funding for Ukraine and Israel. “He talked to him about a number of things, most importantly the president’s request for supplemental assistance to support Ukraine and support Israel and to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza and into other areas,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

Tuesday, Oct. 31

Alexey Kuzmichev, chairman of the advisory committee of Russian investment company A1, is being questioned in France, his French homes having been searched.

  © Reuters

6:30 p.m. Russian tycoon Alexey Kuzmichev has been detained for questioning in France in connection with alleged tax evasion and money laundering and for violating international sanctions, the French Financial Prosecutors’ office says. Searches took place on Monday at Kuzmichev’s Paris home and in the Mediterranean Var region as part of the investigation, the office said, confirming a report in French daily Le Monde. Kuzmichev was still being detained on Tuesday but has not been charged in the case. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by saying Russia will be able to defend Kuzmichev’s rights once Paris provides detailed information about the case.

5:00 p.m. Russian investigators in part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow said late on Monday that they had detained two soldiers on suspicion of killing a family of nine people, including two children. The statement says the soldiers were from a region in Russia’s Far East and that the reason for the murders appeared to be some kind of personal conflict. The killings took place in Volnovakha, an industrial town between Donetsk and Melitopol.

5:20 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin blames the U.S. for the conflict in the Middle East in his latest attack on the West.

“They do not need lasting peace in the Holy Land, they need constant chaos in the Middle East,” Putin says of the U.S. at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council.

He also accuses Western intelligence services, operating from Ukrainian territory, of being behind the weekend unrest at the Makhachkala airport in Russia’s Dagestan. An angry crowd of hundreds overran the airport, shouting anti-Semitic slogans and looking for Israeli passengers from a flight that had arrived Sunday from Tel Aviv.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby brushed away Putin’s claims that the West was to blame for the riot as “classic Russian rhetoric.”

1:31 a.m. The first U.S.-made F-16 combat aircraft the Netherlands is donating to Ukraine will arrive in Romania’s training center within two weeks, Reuters reports by citing outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

“I expect the Patriot missiles to be delivered shortly, to aid Ukraine in the upcoming winter. And the same speed applies to the F-16s,” Rutte said during a video conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Monday, Oct. 30

Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrive for the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing on Oct. 30.

  © Reuters

3:30 p.m. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warns the West that its involvement in the Ukraine war created grave danger. “The Western line of steady escalation of the conflict with Russia carries the threat of a direct military clash between nuclear powers, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences,” Russia’s Tass state news agency cited Shoigu as saying at a security forum in Beijing on Monday.

Shoigu also accuses the West of trying to raise tensions in the Asia-Pacific region to dangerous levels.

“Having provoked an acute crisis in Europe, the West is seeking to spread the conflict potential to the Asia-Pacific region, and in several directions,” he says.

The defense minister says exchanges of missile launch information between the U.S. and its Asian allies South Korea and Japan are meant to “contain China and Russia.”

12:40 p.m. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the country is ready for talks on the post-conflict settlement of the Ukraine crisis. Speaking at the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, China’s largest annual military diplomacy event, Shoigu also said that Russia is ready for talks on further “co-existence” with the West.

5:10 a.m. Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia said on Sunday that all “unauthorised citizens” had been removed from the country’s Makhachkala airport as of 10:20 p.m. Moscow time.

Sunday, Oct. 29

10:50 p.m. Russian former president Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying on Sunday that cooperation with Europe in energy matters was frozen or pointless as European countries had fallen on hard times and had poor growth prospects. “Europe has castrated itself in bloody fashion and without anesthesia by walking away from energy cooperation with our country,” Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev, now deputy secretary of the Security Council, as saying on social media. “This cooperation is either spoiled or frozen for some time.”

Saturday, Oct. 28

Russia has named a new chief of the nation’s aerospace forces to replace Sergei Surovikin, who was relieved of his duties earlier this year. 

  © Reuters

2:20 a.m. Russia has named a new chief of the nation’s aerospace forces, Tass reports, citing the Ministry of Defense. Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov replaces army General Sergei Surovikin, who was relieved of his duties after mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed June mutiny. Surovikin was seen as an ally of Prigozhin. Before his appointment, Afzalov served as acting commander-in-chief of the Aerospace Forces, Tass reports.

For earlier updates, click here.

Read More:Ukraine latest: Moldova bans pro-Russia party from local polls