Here is the situation on Friday, October 27, 2023.
Ukrainian officials said they planned to evacuate 275 children from 10 communities near the northeastern city of Kupiansk, as Russia steps up assaults in the area. Kyiv’s forces recaptured Kupiansk and the surrounding areas in September 2022, but Moscow has since pushed back. Kupiansk lies less than eight kilometres (five miles) from the front line.Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov denied reports that it had suspended its Black Sea export corridor because of threats from Russian attacks and sea mines. Kubrakov said the reports by several British and Ukrainian firms were false. “All available routes established by the Ukrainian Navy are valid and being used by civilian vessels,” he wrote on social media platform X.Russian lawmakers backed a record increase in military spending to fund Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, in a first reading of the bill. Under the plan, the defence will account for almost a third of all spending in 2024 – up 68 percent to 10.8 trillion rubles ($115bn). At more than six percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), military spending will hit its highest share of the economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.The United States said it had information that the Russian military was executing soldiers who did not follow orders in the war with Ukraine. “We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.Russia’s FSB security service said it killed a man during an attempted arrest after discovering a plot to blow up an enlistment building in the city of Tver, 150km (93 miles) northwest of Moscow. The TASS news agency reported officials saying the man had been recruited by Ukraine’s secret services and was a member of a “banned Ukrainian nationalist group”.
Politics and diplomacy
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and newly-appointed Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said they opposed the European Union giving Ukraine 50 billion euros ($53bn) in aid. Orban said Hungary would not back more aid for Ukraine unless it saw “a very well-justified proposal”, while Fico said Slovakia would contribute only to humanitarian aid because of concerns about corruption. EU budgetary decisions require unanimity.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Pentagon announced additional security assistance for Ukraine valued at $150m. The package includes more ammunition for national advanced surface-to-air missile systems (NASAMS) and high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS).US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said Ukrainian pilots were now being trained on F-16 fighters in Arizona. “This is an essential part of building Ukraine’s air defence,” she wrote on the social media platform X. “The United States is proud to work [with] European partners to support Ukraine against Russia’s brutal aggression.”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia planned to build close ties with North Korea, a day after South Korea, Japan and the US condemned what they said were weapons supplies from Pyongyang to Moscow. “North Korea is our neighbour, and we continue and will continue to develop close relations in all areas,” Peskov told reporters, declining to comment on whether weapons deliveries had taken place.A Swedish court acquitted Sergey Skvortsov, a Russian-born Swedish businessman, of spying for Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, for almost a decade. The court found that while 60-year-old Skvortsov had largely acted in the way prosecutors alleged and that advanced technology had been acquired and delivered to Russia, the business was “not aimed at obtaining information concerning Sweden or the United States that may constitute espionage”.Germany said it arrested a businessman for allegedly selling Russian components used in military equipment, including drones currently deployed by Moscow’s troops in Ukraine. The unnamed suspect from the central city of Kassel is accused of exporting various electronic components, model aircraft engines and other goods to Russia via a Hong Kong intermediary in 2022 and 2023.Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies