Russia-Ukraine war: UK to expel Russian defence attache, who it claims is ‘undeclared military intelligence officer’ – as it happened (2024)

Key events

  • 20h agoClosing summary
  • 22h agoRussian deputy defence minister kept in pre-trial detention over bribery charges
  • 23h agoUK to expel Russian defence attache, who it claims is 'undeclared military intelligence officer'
  • 23h agoAfternoon summary
  • 24h agoRussia claims to have captured two villages in Ukraine
  • 1d agoKremlin plays down Ukraine claim of foiled plot to kill Zelenskiy
  • 1d agoOvernight Russian attack could lead to power cuts, Ukraine's grid operator says
  • 1d agoRussia attacks gas storage facility in Ukraine's Lviv region, governor says

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1d ago06.00EDT

The Kremlin also said that it valued its relations with North Korea, when asked about a report that Russia has been shipping refined petroleum to North Korea at levels that appear to breach a cap set by the United Nations Security Council.

“We value our bilateral relations with North Korea and intend to further develop them in all possible areas,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

North Korea, he said, was “our good and very promising partner.”

Reuters on Tuesday cited an unidentified US official as saying that Russian shipments of refined petroleum had already pushed North Korean imports “above the 500,000-barrel annual cap mandated by the UN Security Council”.

1d ago05.41EDT

Kremlin plays down Ukraine claim of foiled plot to kill Zelenskiy

The Kremlin said it had no comment on Ukrainian assertions that Kyiv caught Russian agents plotting the assassination of president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, but said that it was hardly likely to be accurate information.

Ukraine’s state security service said on Tuesday it caught two agents for Russia who planned to kill Zelenskiy and other top officials as “a gift” for Russian president Vladimir Putin as he was sworn in for a new term.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no comment on the assertion but added that was unlikely to be accurate information.

Zelenskiy assassination plot foiled by security service, says UkraineRead more

1d ago05.24EDT

Overnight Russian attack could lead to power cuts, Ukraine's grid operator says

Overnight Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure caused a deficit in grid system which could prompt power cuts in the evening for consumers around the country, Ukraine’s grid operator Ukrenergo said on Wednesday.

Hydropower and thermal power plants were damaged in the attack, Ukrenergo said in a statement via the Telegram messaging app.

On Wednesday morning, nine Ukrainian regions experienced power cuts as a result of the attack and ongoing fighting.

1d ago05.12EDT

China’s foreign ministry congratulated Vladimir Putin on his inauguration as president of Russia, according to a spokesperson.

“China congratulates president Putin on his inauguration,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian, noting president Xi Jinping had already sent a congratulatory message to Putin on his re-election.

Lin said Sino-Russian relations have remained healthy under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, Reuters reported.

“China attaches great importance to the strategic leading role of the head of state diplomacy in bilateral relations between the two countries. The two heads of state agreed to continue to maintain close exchanges to ensure the smooth and stable development of Sino-Russian relations,” he said.

The United States and most European Union nations boycotted a Kremlin ceremony to swear in Putin for a new six-year term as president on Tuesday, citing Russia’s war in Ukraine.

1d ago04.55EDT

India’s federal police said four people linked to a network of human traffickers have been arrested, accused of luring young men to Russia with the promise of lucrative jobs or university admissions only to force them to fight in the war in Ukraine.

About 35 Indian men were duped in this manner, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said in March, Reuters reported.

The four Indian nationals arrested were a translator, a person facilitating visa processing and the booking of airline tickets as well as two “main recruiters” for the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the CBI said on Tuesday.

The investigation “is continuing against other accused persons who are part of this international network of human traffickers,” the CBI said.

The families of two Indian men who were killed in the war have told Reuters they had gone to Russia expecting to work as “helpers” in the army.

India’s foreign ministry says each case has been “strongly taken up” with Russia. Moscow has not responded to repeated requests from Reuters for comment.

1d ago04.33EDT

Russia warned France on Wednesday that if president Emmanuel Macron sent troops to Ukraine then they would be seen as legitimate targets by the Russian military.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia was already seeing growing numbers of French nationals among those killed in the Ukraine war.

1d ago04.21EDT

Russia-Ukraine war: UK to expel Russian defence attache, who it claims is ‘undeclared military intelligence officer’ – as it happened (1)

Luke Harding

Ukraine says it has foiled a Russian plot to assassinate its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and other senior officials, using a network of agents who were recruited by Vladimir Putin’s domestic spy agency.

The SBU state security service in Kyiv said the alleged agents had been instructed to find someone close to the presidential guard. The person would take Zelenskiy prisoner – in his office or when he left the building – and then kill him, the SBU said.

Zelenskiy’s murder was intended as a “gift” for Putin, the Russian president, who was inaugurated at the Kremlin on Tuesday for a fifth time, it added. The FSB also hatched a plan to eliminate Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, who is a hated figure in Moscow, and the SBU’s head, Vasyl Maliuk, the SBU said.

The agency said three FSB intelligence officers were behind the operation. It named them as Maxim Mishustin, Dmytro Perlin, and Aleksii Kornev, from the ninth department of the FSB’s fifth service. Perlin handled a network of Ukrainian “moles”, recruited before Russia’s full-scale invasion, it added.

Zelenskiy assassination plot foiled by security service, says UkraineRead more

1d ago04.02EDT

The airstrikes came on the day Ukraine commemorates victory over Nazism in World War Two, something that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy emphasised in an address on Telegram along with the February 2022 invasion.

“The world slept through the revival of Nazism - at 5 a.m. on February 24, 2022. And today, everyone who remembers the Second World War and lived to this day feels deja vu,” he said.

Grid operator Ukrenergo said on Telegram that equipment at one of its facilities in central Ukraine was damaged, without providing further detail, Reuters reports.

In the central Poltava region, an energy infrastructure facility was hit by a drone, sparking a fire, Poltava Regional Governor Filip Pronin wrote on Telegram. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties.

Governors of the Vinnytsia and Zaporizhzhia regions said separately that critical civilian infrastructure facilities were damaged, without providing further detail.

All missiles targeting Kyiv were destroyed, Serhiy Popko, head of the city’s military administration, said on Telegram. He added there was no major damage or injuries as a result of the attack.

Air defence systems were also engaged in repelling the Russian attack over the Lviv region, which borders Nato-member Poland, where several blasts took place, regional officials said.

1d ago03.37EDT

Russian missiles and drones struck nearly a dozen Ukrainian critical infrastructure facilities in a major airstrike early on Wednesday, causing serious damage at three Soviet-era thermal power plants, Kyiv officials said.

The air force said it shot down 39 of 55 missiles and 20 out of 21 attack drones used in the attack, which piles more pressure on Ukraine’s beleaguered energy system more than two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Reuters reported.

“Another massive attack on our energy industry!” Energy Minister German Galushchenko wrote on the Telegram app. Two people were injured in the Kyiv region and one was hurt in the Kirovohrad region, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Some 350 rescuers were racing to minimise the damage caused to multiple energy facilities, 30 homes, public transport vehicles, cars and a fire station, he said.

Power generation and transmission facilities in the Poltava, Kirovohrad, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Vinnytsia regions were targeted, Galushchenko said. The strike was the latest in a wave of attacks on critical energy infrastructure that began in March.

The attacks have already forced authorities to impose rolling blackouts in several regions, but their full impact will likely be felt later in the year when energy consumption peaks at the height of summer and in winter.

Apart for southeastern Zaporizhzhia, all those regions are located far from the front lines in the east where heavy fighting is taking place and Russia has been gaining ground.

Galushchenko did not name the hit facilities, part of a policy of wartime secrecy that Kyiv says is needed to prevent Russia using the information for further airstrikes.

Lviv governor Maksym Kozytskyi said Russia also attacked a natural gas storage facility in his region in the west of the country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow. Russia denies targeting civilians but it sees the Ukrainian energy system as a legitimate military target.

1d ago03.18EDT

Russia attacks gas storage facility in Ukraine's Lviv region, governor says

Hello and welcome to the Ukraine live blog. We start with news that Russia has hit critical energy infrastructure in Stryi district and a power generation facility in Chervonohrad district in western Ukraine on Wednesday, Lviv governor said in a statement on Telegram messaging app.

The missile strike caused a fire at the power generation facility, with emergency services working on site, he said. No casualties were reported in the attack on Lviv region at the time, Reuters reported.

Russia’s air attack caused serious equipment damage at three thermal power plants, DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private electricity company, said.

“The equipment is seriously damaged,” DTEK said on the Telegram messaging app. “Power engineers are currently working on eliminating the consequences of the attack.”

In other news so far today:

  • Two Ukrainian security officials have been detained over an alleged Russian assassination plot against Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president. Luke Harding writes from Kyiv that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said it had exposed a network of agents run by Russia’s FSB that also intended to kill Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, and the SBU’s head, Vasyl Maliuk.

  • The plans included finding someone in the presidential entourage to capture and kill Zelenskiy, the SBU said; and to kill Budanov and others with a missile strike, kamikaze drones launched locally, then another missile strike to destroy the evidence of drones.

  • The SBU named three FSB intelligence officers behind the operation as Maxim Mishustin, Dmytro Perlin and Aleksii Kornev. In intercepted messages, Perlin referred to the missile attack on Budanov as a “big bird” and the drone as a “small bird”. He emphasised: “The order is rocket, drone, rocket.”

  • The SBU said it recovered drones, warheads and mines from one of the arrested Ukrainian alleged accomplices. He and others face charges of treason and terrorism. One of the alleged agents was a colonel serving in Ukraine’s state guard service, said to have met Kornev secretly before 2022 in a neighbouring European country.

  • Ukrainian prosecutors say they have examined debris from 21 of around 50 North Korean ballistic missiles launched by Russia between late December and late February. The office of the chief prosecutor, Andriy Kostin, told Reuters the missiles’ failure rate appeared to be high: “About half of the North Korean missiles lost their programmed trajectories and exploded in the air; in such cases the debris was not recovered.”

  • Use of North Korean missiles by Russia threatens a nearly two-decade consensus among permanent members of the UN security council on preventing North Korea expanding its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Russia recently vetoed the annual renewal of UN sanctions monitoring of North Korea.

  • Russia has been shipping refined petroleum to North Korea at levels that appear to violate the mandates of the security council, a US official said on Thursday, adding that the US was planning new sanctions in response. The US would continue working with other countries to impose sanctions “against those working to facilitate arms and refined petroleum transfers between Russia and the DPRK”.

  • Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, has said he is open to discussing sending a Patriot system to Ukraine after German appeals to EU and Nato member states.
    Iohannis met with the US president, Joe Biden, at the White House on Tuesday.

  • Ukrainian forces on Tuesday attacked an oil storage depot and sparked a large fire, injuring five people, on the outskirts of the Russian-held city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, the region’s Russia-installed leader said. There was no official Ukrainian statement on the incident. Separatist fighters backed and financed by Russia seized control of large chunks of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine in 2014 after Moscow annexed Crimea.

Russia-Ukraine war: UK to expel Russian defence attache, who it claims is ‘undeclared military intelligence officer’ – as it happened (2024)
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