As the war enters its 631st day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Thursday, November 16, 2023.
- Russia acknowledged that Ukrainian troops had crossed the Dnipro River to Russian-occupied parts of southern Kherson. Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed governor, said Ukrainian forces were operating in small groups spread over an area from the region’s railway bridge to the village of Krynky, a distance of about 20km (12 miles), and that Russia had deployed more assets to the area. Ukraine said earlier this week that it had secured a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro “against all odds“.
- Two people were killed and at least three others injured after four Russian missiles hit the town of Selydove, northwest of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said the missiles hit six apartment buildings as well as a number of private homes.
- Two rescue workers were killed and seven people injured amid Russian shelling in the Zaporizhia region. Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said the two members of the State Emergency Service were killed after Russia launched a second attack while they were responding to the first. It was not clear where the incident took place. Earlier, the region’s governor Yuriy Malashko said at least one person had been killed and seven injured after Russia fired three rockets.
- A Ukrainian civic group said it had confirmed the deaths of nearly 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022 invasion by using open sources. Writing in the Ukrainian journal Tyzhden, historian Yaroslav Tynchenko and volunteer Herman Shapovalenko said Shapovalenko’s Book of Memory project had confirmed 24,500 combat and non-combat deaths using open sources. Kyiv treats its losses as a state secret and officials say disclosing the figure could harm its war effort.
Politics and diplomacy
- European Union diplomats said the European Commission proposed a ban on imports of diamonds and liquid petroleum gas from Russia, and also to tighten implementation of a price cap on Russian oil as part of its 12th package of sanctions against Moscow. The proposal will be discussed on Wednesday. The agreement needs the unanimous backing of all 27 EU states.
- Russia’s foreign ministry said the sanctions package against Russia was part of a “hybrid war” being waged against it by Western countries led by the United States. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said the EU had “become Washington’s ‘useful idiot’”.
- Hungary’s European affairs minister, Janos Boka said a “period of reflection and a strategic discussion on the policy of the European Union towards Ukraine” was needed, and that Budapest would not support any EU decisions to advance Ukraine’s accession process or further aid for Kyiv until that happened. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is close to Moscow, claimed previously that the bloc’s strategy of sending money and military aid to Ukraine had failed.
- Darya Trepova, a 26-year-old Russian woman accused of killing military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, went on trial for “terrorism” at a military court in St Petersburg. Prosecutors allege Trepova assassinated the blogger under orders from Ukraine and was working with anti-Kremlin activists. Tatarsky, a fervent supporter of the Russian invasion, was killed in a cafe in April after Trepova presented him with a bust of himself that then exploded. More than 50 other people were injured.
- The wife of prominent Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was jailed for 25 years in April for treason and spreading “false information” about Russia’s war in Ukraine, said she feared for his life in the Siberian penal colony where he is being held. Kara-Murza has a nerve disorder after surviving two poison attacks and needs regular exercise and medicine to control the condition. His wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, said exercise was now impossible for him in a cell measuring just 3 x 1.5 metres (9.8 x 4.9 feet). “His medical condition will of course deteriorate in the present situation … They’re using these punishment cells as a method of torture,” she said during a ceremony at Britain’s House of Lords, where she accepted a freedom award on his behalf.
- Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said it had seen a “serious increase in interest” overseas in its Lancet drone, but would not be exporting the weapon because Russian armed forces’ “need for it is high”. “[The munition] has proven itself excellent in real combat operations,” Rosoboronexport chief Alexander Mikheyev told state news agency TASS. Russia has been deploying the drones on the battlefield in Ukraine.