Ukraine Russia war latest: Putin’s Black Sea fleet ‘struggling’ with threats as Biden pledges more US aid

Houses destroyed in Russian missile strike

Russia’s prized Black Sea Fleet is struggling to contend with threats to Ukraine’s southern flank, according to British military intelligence.

In its morning briefing, the Ministry of Defence said: “In recent weeks, the Naval Aviation component of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has assumed a particularly important role in the Fleet’s operations as it struggles to deal with concurrent threats on the southern flank of the Ukraine war.

“Naval Aviation is emphasising maritime air patrol operations, highly likely with a primary mission of the early identification of uncrewed surface vessels.”

The MoD’s latest update comes after a person was killed and six injured, including two children, as Russian shelling continued to hammer Ukraine‘s southern region of Kherson overnight.

On the Telegram messaging app the governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said Russian forces had launched 71 attacks in the past 24 hours, “aimed at the residential districts”, as well as shops and medical infrastructure, among other establishments.

Twenty of the air and land attacks targeted the city of Kherson, the region’s administrative district, the governor added, while authorities promptly doused a fire sparked by shelling early on Monday.


Russia’s Black Fleet struggling to deal with ‘concurrent threats’ in south of Ukraine

The Ministry of Defence has warned Russians are struggling to deal with threats coming from Ukraine’s southern flank.

“The Naval Aviation component of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has assumed a particularly important role in the Fleet’s operations as it struggles to deal with concurrent threats on the southern flank of the Ukraine war,” the ministry posted on X.

“Russia is attempting to use naval air power to project force over the northwestern Black Sea.”

Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev talks on the phone as flames rise from the main headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet


They added: “Su-24 FENCER and FLANKER variant combat jets conduct maritime strike operations, including at least one recent air strike on the strategically located Snake Island.”

Barney Davis2 October 2023 10:03


Lindsey Graham warns Trump that ‘pulling the plug’ on Ukraine aid would be ‘10 times worse than Afghanistan’

US senator Lindsey Graham cautioned that if Donald Trump were to stop sending aid to the embattled country of Ukraine if elected president, the end result would be “10 times worse than Afghanistan.”

When asked about how he would advise Mr Trump and other Republicans in Congress who have threatened to stop sending aid to the country, Mr Graham said on Face the Nation on Sunday: “To President Trump and anybody else: if we pull the plug on Ukraine, that’s 10 times worse than Afghanistan.”

“To stop funding Ukraine is a death sentence for Taiwan,” the South Carolina Republican predicted. “Putin will keep going. You missed all of World War II if you missed how this movie ends.”

He then fired shots at members of his own party: “To the Republicans who say Ukraine doesn’t matter to us: you’re wrong. Respectfully, you’re wrong. The war gets bigger, not smaller.”

“If Ukraine can beat Russia,” Mr Graham added, “China is less likely to invade Taiwan and Putin gets stopped.”

Kelly Rissman has the full story:

Andy Gregory3 October 2023 06:02


Watch: Houses left destroyed in Ukrainian city after Russian bombardment of residential area

Houses left destroyed in Ukrainian city after Russian bombardment of residential area

Andy Gregory3 October 2023 05:03


Shapps plays down Western splits over Ukraine amid push for extra funding

Vladimir Putin would be “foolish” to believe internal political rows in the West were a sign that support for Ukraine is beginning to crack, Grant Shapps said.

The Defence Secretary suggested the possibility of Donald Trump winning the next US election would not necessarily result in the “worst case scenario” of America cutting its support.

The Western alliance has suffered a series of blows in recent days, with support for Ukraine dropped from a US stop-gap budget bill, election success for a pro-Russian party in Slovakia and rows between Poland and Kyiv over grain supplies.

But speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Shapps said the Kremlin should not over-interpret domestic political wrangles.

He said: “It’s very easy to sit here, think about the single issue of Ukraine and frame everything in that context and forget about domestic politics. It’s always a mistake to think in that way.”

David Hughes3 October 2023 04:01


Wagner succession: Yevgeny Prigozhin’s son ‘set to be next mercenary boss’

The 25-year-old son of Yevgeny Prigozhin is set to take over from his father and become the next boss of the Wagner group, Telegram channels associated with the group have claimed.

Pavel Prigozhin appears to be inheriting the vast majority of his father’s riches – including the mercenary group, properties, and about £100 million – according to a photograph posted on social media of what seems to be Prigozhin’s will.

He is now negotiating with the Russian national guard, Rosgvardia, over having the mercenary organisation rejoin combat in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War said.

My colleague Tara Cobam reports:

Andy Gregory3 October 2023 03:05


Elon Musk mocked by Ukraine’s parliament over tweet taunting Zelensky

Ukraine’s parliament and its speaker have taunted billionaire Elon Musk after he posted a meme on his social media platform mocking President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pleas for assistance from the West against Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Musk owns SpaceX, which provides Starlink satellite communication services that are vital for Ukraine’s defence effort, but his statements have sometimes angered Kyiv since the full-scale invasion launched by Russia in February last year.

The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, hit out at Musk’s jibe with his own post on Twitter/X: “The case when [Elon Musk] tried to conquer space, but something went wrong and in 5 minutes he was up to his eyeballs in s***,” an apparent reference to SpaceX’s failed rocket launch in April.

Ukraine’s parliament, on its official page on X, accused Musk of spreading Russian propaganda, posting its own version of the meme with a picture of Musk and the caption: “When it’s been 5 minutes and you haven’t spread Russian propaganda”.

Max Hunder has the story here:

Andy Gregory3 October 2023 02:04


Shapps slams Musk’s ‘unhelpful’ Ukraine commentary

UK defence secretary Grant Shapps has suggested recent tweets by Elon Musk mocking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky are “unhelpful”.

The senior Cabinet minister made the comments at a Conservative Party conference fringe event in Manchester, hours after the billionaire entrepreneur used Twitter/X to take aim at Mr Zelensky’s repeated requests for western support in the battle against Russian troops.

Mr Shapps, an avid social media user himself, expressed reservations about the owner of X’s recent attitudes to the war. “I think it’s unhelpful, to be blunt,” he said. “I can’t speak for him or his motivations. He’s a free individual, we live in a free world. He can tweet or X what he likes.”

“What Ukraine really needs is strong and steady friends who won’t waver,” he added.

Dominic McGrath3 October 2023 01:06


Watch: Explosions from drone attack in Ukraine seen from ferry on Danube crossing

Explosions from drone attack in Ukraine seen from ferry on Danube crossing

Andy Gregory3 October 2023 00:11


Row over Ukraine aid continues in US Congress

A last-ditch weekend spending agreement avoided a US government shutdown but left pro-Ukraine officials in Washington scrambling on Monday to determine the best path forward for securing approval for billions more assistance for Kyiv.

Leaders in the Senate, narrowly controlled by president Joe Biden’s Democrats, promised to take up legislation in the coming weeks to ensure continued US security and economic support for Ukraine.

But in the Republican-led House of Representatives, Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he wanted more information from the Biden administration, and a Republican pushing for his removal as speaker accused McCarthy of cutting “a secret deal” with Biden to allow the House to vote on a bill.

Opponents of Ukraine aid, many of whom are close allies of former president Donald Trump as he seeks re-election to the White House next year, kept up their drumbeat against assistance for Kyiv on Monday.

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, who said he would try this week to remove McCarthy as speaker, accused McCarthy on Monday of reaching a “secret deal” with Biden for Ukraine aide, amid reports that McCarthy had agreed to allow a House vote on assistance for Kyiv after the spending bill passed.

McCarthy later denied it. He called on the administration to arrange a briefing for House members about the path it sees to reach an end to the conflict.

“Our members have a lot of questions, especially on the accountability provisions of what we want to see with the money that gets sent,” he told reporters.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre urged Congress to move quickly. “They don’t have to wait 45 days to get this done,” she told a daily press briefing, where she also expressed confidence the assistance would continue.

Reuters2 October 2023 23:20


Analysis | Ukraine is increasing the pressure on Putin – it cannot afford support from the West to slip now

A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv that the bloc hailed as “historic” came at a difficult time for the Western alliance that has poured weapons, money and support into Ukraine’s fight against Vladimir Putin’s forces, writes journalist and author Askold Krushelnycky.

Kyiv was facing two bruising political blows as, America, her most important supporter in the war against Russia, excluded aid to Ukraine from an emergency congressional bill to prevent a government shutdown – while a pro-Kremlin candidate won the biggest share of votes in a parliamentary election in neighbouring Slovakia. It comes as a row simmers between Ukraine and another of its neighbours and closest allies, Poland, over grain exports.

These unwelcome political jolts have dampened Kyiv’s attempts to maintain an upbeat appearance. But it’s one thing to bravely shrug off horrors inflicted by an enemy and much trickier to remain sanguine in the face of attacks by friends.

The Kremlin will always look to exploit any potential cracks it sees in support for Ukraine, with Putin seemingly willing to hang on in there because of a confidence that Western support, predominantly in America, would falter and fade leaving Ukraine vulnerable. Kyiv needs its allies to stand strong.

You can read more of Askold’s thinking on the matter here:

Andy Gregory2 October 2023 22:33

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