Ukraine vowed to strengthen its armed forces after Russia launched its biggest aerial assaults on cities since the beginning of the war, forcing thousands to flee to bomb shelters and prompting Kyiv to halt electricity exports to Europe.
Missiles hit targets across Ukraine on Monday morning, killing 14 people and injuring scores, as they tore into intersections, parks and tourist sites.
Explosions were reported in Kyiv, Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in the centre, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Kharkiv in the east, Ukrainian officials said.
The barrage of dozens of cruise missiles fired from air, land and sea was the most widespread wave of air strikes to hit away from the front line, at least since the initial volleys on the war’s first day, on 24 February.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said he ordered “massive” long-range strikes after accusing Ukraine of an attack on a bridge linking Russia to annexed Crimea on Saturday, but the United States said the scale of the attacks meant they had likely been planned for longer.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke to US president Joe Biden on Monday and wrote on Telegram afterwards that air defence was the “number 1 priority in our defence cooperation.”
“We will do everything to strengthen our armed forces,” he said in a Monday night address. “We will make the battlefield more painful for the enemy.”
Biden told Zelenskiy the United States will provide advanced air defence systems. The Pentagon said on 27 September it would start delivering the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System over the next two months or so.
A total of 14 people were killed and 97 were injured, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported. The rush-hour attacks were deliberately timed to kill people and knock out Ukraine’s power grid, according to Zelenskiy.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal reported 11 major infrastructure targets were hit in eight regions, leaving parts of Ukraine with no electricity, water or heat. He promised to restore utilities as quickly as possible.
As it tried to end blackouts, Ukraine halted electricity exports to the European Union, at a time when the continent already faces surging power prices that have stoked inflation, hampered industrial activity and caused sky-high consumer bills.
The Kremlin’s air strikes come three days after a blast damaged the bridge it built after seizing Crimea in 2014. Russia blamed Ukraine and called the deadly explosion “terrorism”.
“To leave such acts without a response is simply impossible,” said Putin, alleging other, unspecified attacks on Russian energy infrastructure. He threatened more strikes in future if Ukraine hits Russian territory.
The United States, however, said attacks of such a scale could not have been put together in just a couple of days.
“It likely was something that they had been planning for quite some time,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told CNN. “That’s not to say that the explosion on the Crimea bridge might have accelerated some of their planning.”
Ukraine, which views the bridge as a military target sustaining Russia’s war effort, celebrated the blast without claiming responsibility.
After weeks of setbacks on the battlefield, Russian authorities are facing the first sustained domestic criticism of the war, with commentators on state television demanding ever tougher measures.
Putin responded to Ukrainian advances by ordering a mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists, proclaiming the annexation of occupied territory and threatening to use nuclear weapons.
On Saturday, Russia made its third senior military appointment in the space of a week by appointing Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as commander of Russian forces in Ukraine. He previously commanded Russia’s brutal air campaign in Syria.
Russia says it is waging a “special military operation” in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West say it is an unprovoked war of aggression.
Monday’s blasts tore a huge crater next to a children’s playground in one of central Kyiv’s busiest parks. The remains of an apparent missile were buried, smoking in the mud. More volleys struck the capital again later in the morning.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said in its evening update Russia had staged at least 84 missile and air strikes, and Ukraine’s air defences had destroyed 43 cruise missiles and 13 drones.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had hit all its intended targets. Reuters could not independently verify battlefield accounts.
Russia also suffered a setback on the diplomatic front, with the UN General Assembly voting to reject Moscow’s call for the 193-member body to hold a secret ballot later this week on whether to condemn its annexations four partially occupied regions in Ukraine. Read full story
The General Assembly decided, with 107 votes in favor, that it would hold a public vote - not a secret ballot.
The president of the United Arab Emirates, a member of the group of oil producers known as OPEC+ that rebuffed the United States last week by announcing steep cuts last week, will travel to Russia on Tuesday to meet Putin and push for “military de-escalation”, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Biden and Group of Seven leaders will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss their commitment to support Ukraine, the White House said.
Cyclone Michaung landfall has started near Bapatla on Andhra Pradesh coast after causing rain mayhem in Tamil Nadu. So far, at least eight people have died in rain-related incidents in Chennai.
The southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, as well as Odisha in the east, experienced heavy downpours Monday as authorities issued warnings for Tropical Cyclone Michaung, which is likely to hit the southern coast with maximum sustained winds of 90-100 kph (56-62 mph) and gusts up to 110 kph (68 mph), the Indian Meteorological Department said.
A deep depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified into a tropical storm Monday as it inched towards Bapatla, a coastal district in Andhra Pradesh state.
On Monday night, authorities in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, said people in the city had died as the impending storm unleashed rains that caused trees to topple and walls to collapse, and submerged roads and cars in knee-deep waters.
Videos showed water streaming onto the city's airport tarmac, forcing authorities to shut it down and divert more than 30 flights while around 70 were canceled, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Schools were shut in Andhra Pradesh, where the storm might make landfall, and officials evacuated nearly 2,000 people from coastal and low-lying villages with instructions to move over 7,000 more to safer areas, local media reported.
Tamil Nadu authorities have set up nearly 5,000 relief camps in coastal areas. In Chennai, rescuers used boats to evacuate hundreds of people stranded on the roads and inside homes that had filled with floodwaters. Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said the state was ready to face the storm with authorities deployed to vulnerable areas, and asked the public to stay indoors until it subsided.
India's weather department said parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh could see over 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rain as the storm approaches.
: BSS, NDTV
The United Nations has said they do not deploy observers to elections like Bangladesh one, noting that they rarely do that without a specific mandate.
"The UN is not deploying observers to these elections. We don't… we rarely, rarely do that without a specific mandate," Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at a regular briefing on November 29.
He said they have seen the reports from Human Rights Watch and other organisations.
"We again call on all parties involved to ensure that people are able to express their votes freely, their opinion freely, free of any harassment,” the spokesman said.
Candidates of 30 political parties out of 44 registered political parties have submitted nomination papers for the January 7 national election.
The United States has said it is aware of Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova's “deliberate mischaracterization” of US foreign policy and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas’ meetings.
“The United States does not support any political party in Bangladesh. Nor does the United States favor one political party over another,” a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.
The US State Department reiterated that they want what the Bangladeshi people want: free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner.
To support that shared goal of free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner, the US embassy personnel engage and will continue to engage with the government, opposition, civil society, and other stakeholders to urge them to work together for the benefit of the Bangladeshi people, said the State Department spokesperson.
Maria Zakharova, during a weekly briefing on November 22, said that Russia has spoken repeatedly about the attempts by the United States and its allies to influence the internal political process in Bangladesh, ostensibly under the banner of ensuring “transparency and inclusiveness” in the upcoming parliamentary election.
Information has come to light regarding a meeting at the end of October between US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and a high-ranking representative of the local opposition, according to the Russian side.
They reportedly discussed plans to organize mass anti-government protests in the country during the meeting, the Russian side said.
In particular, the American Ambassador “promised” the representative of the opposition information support in the event that the authorities use force against participants in “peaceful demonstrations.”
These assurances were purportedly made on behalf of the embassies of the United States, Britain, Australia and several other countries, according to a Facebook post shared by the Russian Embassy in Dhaka.
"How can these actions of the American Ambassador to Bangladesh be regarded? They can be seen as nothing less than gross interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state on the part of Washington and its satellites, demonstrating open disregard for the norms and rules enshrined in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," the Russian spokeswoman said.
"On our part, we have no doubts regarding the ability of the Bangladeshi authorities to hold the parliamentary election scheduled for January 7, 2024, in full compliance with national legislation, independently, without the help of overseas well-wishers," said the Russian spokeswoman.
Bangladesh has underlined the need for early conclusion of the Teesta agreement and other water-sharing treaties of common rivers as foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and India held a meeting at Hyderabad House here this afternoon.
In the meeting styled Bangladesh-India Foreign Office Consultation (FOC), the Bangladesh side also stressed on removing trade barriers from Bangladesh's exportable goods and uninterrupted supply of essential commodities between the two countries.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and his Indian Counterpart Vinay Mohan Kwatra led their respective sides in the meeting that also discussed wide range of bilateral issues covering from border security to trade and commerce and water, power and energy cooperation.
After the meeting, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh issued separate statements in New Delhi and Dhaka on the FOC, an institutional dialogue mechanism between the foreign secretaries to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
The foreign ministry statement said that the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary requested his counterpart to deepen and expand the people-to-people contacts and sought India's assistance in resolving Rohingya crisis.
The two sides also stressed on deepening collaboration for greater prosperity of the people of the two friendly countries.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary thanked the Government of India for inviting Bangladesh Prime Minister to attend the "G20 Leaders' Summit" as the only South Asian leader under India's G20 Presidency.
Both the Foreign Secretaries expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral relations and the progress made in the year 2023.
Referring to the recent inauguration of number of projects for enhancing connectivity and power and energy sector cooperation by the two Prime Ministers, they said that this sort of cooperation reflects the tangible outcomes of the strong bilateral relations.
The two foreign secretaries further emphasized bolstering cooperation in important areas such as development, trade and commerce, regional connectivity, regional power grid connection, security and water related issues, consular and cultural issues.
They also discussed to address the challenges to be faced by Bangladesh during post-graduation scenario. Both the sides reiterated that the two border guard forces should continue their cooperation to have a peaceful border.
According to MEA statement issued here the two sides reviewed entire gamut of bilateral relations as they held comprehensive discussions on a wide range of issues covering border and security, trade, commerce and connectivity, cooperation in water, power and energy sectors, people to people ties and development cooperation in Bangladesh.
Apart from bilateral issues, the both sides also exchanged views on sub-regional, regional and multilateral issues.
The Indian side appreciated Bangladesh's participation in the recently held Virtual G20 summit and the Voice of Global South Summit 2.0.
The meeting agreed that the next FOC will be hosted by Bangladesh on a mutually convenient date.
This was the second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and India this year as the first one was held in February in Dhaka.
An Israeli man whose
family was kidnapped by Hamas and freed on Friday said he was happy but could
not celebrate their return without the release of all those still held in the
Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages on the first day of a truce in the Palestinian territory, bringing the total number of captives released to 29 of around 240 taken when the Islamist group launched its deadly October 7 attack on Israel.
Yoni Asher was at home near Tel Aviv that day when his wife Doron Asher Katz, 34, and their two children, aged two and four, where kidnapped while visiting Doron's mother, 69-year-old Efrat Katz, who was killed during the attack.
"I am happy that I received my family back. It's allowed to feel joy and it's allowed to shed a tear. That's a human thing," Asher said in a video released by the Hostage Families Forum on Friday evening.
"But I am not celebrating. I will not celebrate until the last of the hostages returns home," he added.
"Our children, fathers, mothers, sisters are currently hostages. There are people whose hearts are breaking at this time and I want to ensure that each and every hostage returns home."
Doron's brother and her mother's partner were also kidnapped and are still being held hostage in Gaza.
"I am determined to help my family recover from the terrible trauma and loss we went through", Asher said. "Difficult days are still ahead of me."
The renewable agreement that led to their release covers four days during which 50 hostages held in Gaza must be released, as well as 150 Palestinians held in Israel.
On Friday, 39 Palestinian women and children were released from Israeli prisons.
Ten Thai hostages and one Filippino were also released Friday in a separate agreement, according to Qatar, which led the negotiations along with Egypt and the United States.
Cyclone Michaung landfall has started near Bapatla on Andhra Pradesh coast after causing rain mayhem in Tamil Nadu. So far, at least eight people have died in rain-related incidents in Chennai. The southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, as well as Odisha in the east, experienced heavy downpours Monday as authorities issued warnings for Tropical Cyclone Michaung, which is likely to hit the southern coast with maximum sustained winds of 90-100 kph (56-62 mph) and gusts up to 110 kph (68 mph), the Indian Meteorological Department said.
The United Nations has said they do not deploy observers to elections like Bangladesh one, noting that they rarely do that without a specific mandate. "The UN is not deploying observers to these elections. We don't… we rarely, rarely do that without a specific mandate," Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at a regular briefing on November 29.
An Israeli man whose family was kidnapped by Hamas and freed on Friday said he was happy but could not celebrate their return without the release of all those still held in the Gaza Strip. Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages on the first day of a truce in the Palestinian territory, bringing the total number of captives released to 29 of around 240 taken when the Islamist group launched its deadly October 7 attack on Israel.