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Russia-Ukraine War Live: Number Of Civilians Killed ‘considerably Higher’ Than 6,884 Known, Says UN

Number of civilians killed ‘considerably higher’ than 6,884 known, says UNThe United Nations high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) has released a count of the number of civilian casualties in Russia’s war on Ukraine so far, saying that 6,884 people are known to have died in Ukraine, including 429 children, between 24 February 2022 to 26 December 2022.

The agency says the actual figure is likely to be “considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”

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Reuters reports that one of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin aides has visited the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in a part of southern Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed.

Sergei Kiriyenko, a Kremlin official responsible for overseeing Russia’s domestic politics and a former head ofRussia’s state nuclear corporation, discussed the safety of the plant, according to Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed “official” in the occupied region.

In a picture published by Rogov on Telegram, Kiriyenko was seen outside the plant.

The US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, has tweeted to reiterate the support the US is providing to keep energy systems running in Ukraine, following Russia’s sustained attacks on the energy infrastructure that civilians rely on.

The ambassador said the embassy in Kyiv is “proud to carry out the secretary of state’s mission to work day and night with Ukrainian partners to help keep the energy grid up and running through the winter. We stand with Ukraine.”

Ukraine has bought 1,400 drones, mostly for reconnaissance, and plans to develop combat models that can attack the exploding drones Russia has used during its invasion, according to the Ukrainian government minister in charge of technology.

Associated Press reports that in an interview with the minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, the Ukrainian official said:

The next stage, now that we are more or less equipped with reconnaissance drones, is strike drones. These are both exploding drones and drones that fly up to 3 to 10km and hit targets. I can say already that the situation regarding drones will change drastically in February or March.

To date, Ukraine has been coy about claiming that explosions reported within the borders of the Russian Federation have been down to military and drone activity.

In the last few moments, authorities in Kyiv and Mykolaiv have declared air raid alerts, according to posts on Telegram.

The state-owned Russian news agency Tass is reporting that Russian authorities claim to have thwarted a Ukrainian-sponsored terrorist attack in Chegem in the Kabardino-Balkarian republic, which is near Russia’s border with Georgia. It reports:

The federal security service stopped the activities of two previously convicted Russian citizens who, on the instructions of the Ukrainian special services, were preparing a terrorist act in the city of Chegem. After committing the crime, they planned to leave for Ukraine to take part in hostilities against the Russian armed forces. At the scene of the clash, they found an improvised explosive device with a capacity of about 2kg in TNT equivalent, an AK-74 assault rifle, a pistol and ammunition.

The report states that the two suspects were killed. No evidence was offered for the claims of the Russian security services.

Adeshola Ore and Amy Remeikis report for the Guardian:

The mother of an Australian man from Victoria killed fighting in Ukraine has remembered her son as a defender of freedom who was driven by empathy. The Australian department of foreign affairs and Trade (Dfat) confirmed on Wednesday that Sage O’Donnell from Melbourne had died.

His mother, in a statement released via Dfat, said her son had fallen in love with Ukraine and was “humbled by the kindness and hospitality within his new community”.

“Sage died in action defending the freedom of the Ukrainian people,” she said. “Sage has always believed in defending country, people and the right for freedom.”

She said her son upheld his values as he served in Australia and abroad in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and described her son as driven by “empathy for the Ukrainian people” at the “injustice that has taken place”.

Sage’s mother was not named in the statement, but said her family was devastated by their loss and would remember Sage’s “humour, kind heart and laughter”.

Read more here: Australian man who died fighting in Ukraine remembered as ‘defender of freedom’

Oleh Synyehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region that borders two of the areas in the east of Ukraine – Luhansk and Donetsk – which Russia has claimed to annex, has posted to Telegram to say one person has been wounded due to enemy action. He said:

A 48-year-old man received a shrapnel wound as a result of the morning attacks of the occupiers on Kharkiv. He is in the hospital in a moderate condition.

The claim has not been independently verified.

An “official” channel of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) – one of the areas of Ukraine that Russia claimed to have annexed in September – has posted on Telegram to say in the last 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have fired at seven of the settlements the DPR claims as its territory.

It says one civilian was injured, and two houses and three civilian infrastructure facilities were damaged. The claims have not been independently verified. Russia, Syria and North Korea were the only UN member states to recognise the DPR as any kind of legitimate authority before the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, declared it was territory of the Russian Federation.

EU claims aid is helping ‘more than 700,000’ Ukrainians through winterThe European Union delegation to Ukraine has announced that it will support “more than 700,000 Ukrainians in the winter” during the war. In a press statement released on Wednesday, the office of the international organisation for migration (IOM) in Ukraine says it is “stepping up efforts to help internally displaced and war-affected people survive the cold weather”.

The statement claims that:

IOM’s winter preparedness support, made possible by EU funding, includes repairs to collective centres for displaced people, improvements to water, drainage and heating systems, repairs to damaged houses, and the provision of warm blankets, bedding, mattresses and hygiene items. The programme also provides solid fuel and cash assistance to help people have flexible winter livelihoods. This funding will also enable IOM to ensure the availability of critical assets to ensure that aid continues to reach war-affected populations, and to support partner organisations responding to urgent needs on the ground.

Claudia Amaral, head of the European Commission’s directorate-general for civil protection and humanitarian aid in Ukraine, is quoted as saying:

Vulnerable sections of the population of Ukraine are going through the hardest winter. As the attacks continue, leaving millions without reliable access to electricity, heating and water, our humanitarian partners, including IOM, continue to work to meet the most urgent needs.

Maksym Kozytskyi, governor of Lviv region in Ukraine’s west, has posted to Telegram to say that it was quiet overnight in the region. He said there was one air alert yesterday, a warning of cruise missiles being fired from Belarus in the north, but that the danger “did not materialise”.

The official Telegram channel of the Kyiv city state administration has posted to say that there are air raid warnings in effect in Ukraine’s capital.

This is Martin Belam taking over the live blog from my colleague Helen Sullivan. You can contact me at [email protected].

Russian forces have fired 33 rockets at civilian targets in the Ukrainian city of Kherson in the 24 hours to early Wednesday, Ukraine’s military said on Telegram.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov says that fighting has intensified, according to Reuters, with Russia deploying more tanks and armoured vehicles on front lines.

Russian troops who have been part of a mobilisation drive for military operations in Ukraine will have the right to get their sperm frozen for free in cryobanks, the state TASS agency reported on Wednesday.

Citing Igor Trunov, president of the Russian Union of Lawyers, TASS reported that the Health Ministry responded to his appeal for budgetary assistance with the plan.

The ministry “determined the possibility of financial support from the federal budget for free conservation and storage of germ cells (spermatozoa) for citizens mobilised to participate in the special military operation for 2022-2024”, Trunov was quoted as saying.

Families can also use the stored biomaterial free of charge if their compulsory medical insurance indicates they can do so.

More on Russia’s response to the oil price cap, via Reuters:

Under the cap, oil traders who want to retain access to Western financing for such crucial aspects of global shipping as insurance must promise not to pay above $60 per barrel for Russian seaborne oil.

That is close to the current price for Russian oil, but far below the prices at which Russia was able to sell it for much of the past year, when windfall energy profits helped Moscow offset the impact of financial sanctions.

The decree from Putin, published on a government portal and the Kremlin website, was presented as a direct response to “actions that are unfriendly and contradictory to international law by the United States and foreign states and international organisations joining them”.

The Kremlin ban would halt crude oil sales to countries participating in the price cap from 1 February to 1 July 2023. A separate ban on refined oil products such as gasoline and diesel would take effect on a date to be set by the government. Putin would have authority to overrule the measures in special cases.

Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, and any actual disruption to its sales would have far-reaching consequences for global energy supplies.

Russia retaliated on Tuesday against a price cap on its oil imposed by Western countries, while its forces were involved in heavy fighting around the bombed-out ghost town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

Despite an intensification in the fighting the frontline in eastern Ukraine remains little changed, with neither side making any major advances, said Britain’s Ministry of Defence and Ukraine military analysts.

Moscow will ban oil sales to countries that abide by the price cap that was imposed on 5 December, President Vladimir Putin decreed.

The price cap, unseen even in the times of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union, is aimed at crippling Moscow’s military efforts in Ukraine – without upsetting markets by actually blocking Russian supply.

Number of civilians killed ‘considerably higher’ than 6,884 known, says UNThe United Nations high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) has released a count of the number of civilian casualties in Russia’s war on Ukraine so far, saying that 6,884 people are known to have died in Ukraine, including 429 children, between 24 February 2022 to 26 December 2022.

The agency says the actual figure is likely to be “considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”

SummaryHello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments as they happen.

The UN high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) says that since the start of the war, at least 6,884 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, including 429 children. However, the agency believes that the actual figures are “considerably higher”.

We’ll have more on this story shortly.

In the meantime, here are the key recent developments:

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has signed a decree that bans the supply of oil and oil products to nations participating in an imposed cap from 1 February 2023 for five months. The Group of Seven major powers, the European Union and Australia agreed this month to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil effective from 5 December.

Ukrainian forces appear to have edged closer to recapturing the key-Russian controlled city of Kreminna in Luhansk province. The regional governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, said fighters in part of the city controlled by Russian command were forced to retreat to Rubizhne, a town a few miles to the south-east, as a result of Ukrainian military pressure.

Heavy fighting continues in the east and south of the country amid no sign of imminent peace talks. Recapturing Kreminna and nearby Svatove could open the way for Kyiv to launch an offensive on Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, two cities Ukraine lost in the summer. The Guardian could not independently confirm the battlefield developments.

Russian troops continued to focus their efforts on capturing the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, Britain’s defence ministry said in its daily military briefing on Tuesday.

Russia’s military has moved many of its warplanes from Engels airbase to other locations after strikes on the crucial airbase, according to a spokesperson for the Ukrainian air force. Three Russian servicemen were killed on Monday after a Ukrainian drone attack on the airbase, which lies deep inside Russian territory, according to Russia’s defence ministry.

Putin’s comments that he was “ready to negotiate with all parties” involved in the conflict in Ukraine are part of a deliberate information campaign aimed at misleading the west into making concessions, according to analysts. The US thinktank Institute for the Study of War said the Russian president did not offer to negotiate with Ukraine on Saturday, contrary to some reporting.

The bodies of 42 Ukrainian servicemen who died while fighting have been returned to Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian government. Work on bringing back the bodies of Ukraine’s fighters “does not stop for a day”, Oleh Kotenko, the commissioner for missing persons, said.

Vladimir Putin met his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, twice in the past 24 hours to “finalise many issues”, Belarusian state-owned Belta news agency reported. The meetings took place in St Petersburg, over breakfast on Tuesday at the Russian Museum, as well as at an informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) yesterday evening, it reported.

A Russian sausage tycoon who reportedly criticised the war in Ukraine has died after falling from the third-floor window of a luxury hotel in India. The body of Pavel Antov, 65, was discovered just two days after his friend and another local Russian politician, Vladimir Bidenov, was found dead in the same hotel after an apparent heart attack.

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