Russia 'may have packed explosives' onto the Nord Stream pipelines during construction

A gas leak from Nord stream 1 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea - TT NEWS AGENCY
A gas leak from Nord stream 1 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea - TT NEWS AGENCY

Russia may have packed explosives onto the Nord Stream pipelines while construction was being finalised last year, said the former head of Ukraine’s state energy company.

Gazprom brought in its own construction ships to complete work on a final section of the pipeline around the Danish island of Bornholm after US sanctions forced a Swiss contractor to pull out.

Last week's explosions, which ripped holes into at least three of the four pipelines that make up the two projects, occurred in the vicinity of where this construction work took place.

The suggestion was that Russia had sabotaged in recent days. But Andriy Kobolyev, who was CEO of Naftogaz up until 2021, told the Telegraph it could have been the result of explosive devices planted well in advance as a sort-of insurance measure.

He said that it was common practice in Soviet times to build explosives into key infrastructure in case it was captured in war.

“Knowing that many of these guys are ex-KGB, we shouldn’t be surprised that they use this as a standard,” said Mr Kobolyev, 44.

He said that all gas and oil pipelines are equipped with highly sensitive sensors that would normally detect any interference with the line once it is up and running.

“Even in Ukraine we have such sensors. Gazprom, with all its money, will have installed more sensitive ones of Nord Stream 2,” he said, adding that such equipment is “sensitive enough to answer the questions we are asking.”

But the noise of final construction work could have given the company the cover to place explosives on both Nord Stream 2 and the already operational Nord Stream 1, he believes.

“The most important thing to have is construction noise that you can use to hide your actions.”

He added that he did not believe that Russia had planted explosives on any other infrastructure key to western Europe, saying that the consequences would be “too painful.”

07:02 PM

Russian pilot killed in Mali plane crash

A Russian pilot died on Tuesday when a plane that Russia had recently delivered to Mali's armed forces crashed near the northern city of Gao, a military official said.

Video provided to AFP by a witness shows an aircraft descending at high speed before crashing in a plume of smoke.

In a brief statement on social media, the military confirmed a plane had crashed near Gao airport at around 9:30 am "on its way back from a mission to support the civilian population".

The statement said it was a Sukhoi Su-25, but the military official previously identified the plane as an Albatros, a Soviet-era Czechoslovakian-built model.

06:55 PM

Navalny organisation to reopen Russian offices

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's organisation said it would reopen its offices in Russia to fight against the conflict in Ukraine and President Putin's mobilisation.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) will restore its network to oppose the partial mobilisation aimed at bolstering Russia's forces in Ukraine, close Navalny ally Ivan Zhdanov said in a video published on social media.

The announcement comes with the Russian opposition in a beleaguered state since Moscow launched its military intervention in February, with most of Putin's prominent critics in exile or locked up.

Russian authorities have designated Navalny's organisations "extremist" following months of increasing repression against his supporters, putting FBK employees, volunteers and sympathisers at risk of prosecution and imprisonment.

06:44 PM

Biden pledges another $625 million to Ukraine

The US will give to Ukraine another $625 million in military assistance, including four HIMARS multiple rocket launchers.

US President Joe Biden made the pledge during a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.

The White House said  "a new $625 million security assistance package that includes additional weapons and equipment, including HIMARS, artillery systems and ammunition, and armored vehicles" will be sent to Ukraine.

Ukraine already has 16 of the HIMARS systems, which are widely seen as one of the most effective tools in its arsenal as the pro-Western country fights back against a massive eight-month-old Russian invasion.

Mr Biden reaffirmed that his administration will "continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes."

06:28 PM

Latest update from MoD on Ben Wallace's visit to Poland

06:15 PM

Nuclear weapons attack 'would not go without a response,' says Cleverly

The use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia "would not go without a response," James Cleverly has said.

The Foreign Secretary told a Tory conference fringe event: "It would inevitably be the case that the use of nuclear weapons by any country anywhere in the world would not go without a response."

He declined to discuss "the nature or the threshold" but said: "What we have seen in Vladimir Putin's decision-making is that he has made just so many strategic errors.

"Increasingly what we need to do is we need to make it very clear that his sequence of strategic errors has got to stop." He also vowed to "continue to support the Ukrainians in the defence of their homeland".

05:48 PM

Ukrainian central bank governor quits

Ukrainian Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko abruptly submitted his resignation on Tuesday, he said in Facebook post, citing health reasons.

"Due to health-related issues that can no longer be ignored, I have made a difficult decision for myself. I am leaving the post of the head of Ukraine's National Bank," he said.

"I have addressed to the president a request to accept my resignation."

Kyrylo Shevchenko, governor of the National bank of Ukraine, gestures during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Ukraine expects to receive more transfers from its $5 billion International Monetary Fund loan before it expires at year-end, according to the head of the country’s central bank. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg - Bloomberg /Hollie Adams
Kyrylo Shevchenko, governor of the National bank of Ukraine, gestures during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Ukraine expects to receive more transfers from its $5 billion International Monetary Fund loan before it expires at year-end, according to the head of the country’s central bank. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg - Bloomberg /Hollie Adams

05:22 PM

Ben Wallace to buy seabed warfare ship 'now' for underwater surveillance

As suspicions grow that damage to the Nord Stream gas pipeline was an act of sabotage, Ben Wallace tells the Telegraph the Royal Navy needs seabed drones to help protect underwater infrastructure

A new ship that can launch drones to keep the seabed under surveillance for threats to underwater cables and pipelines will be purchased for the Royal Navy immediately because "I need it now", the Defence Secretary has said.

The “seabed warfare ship” will be specially modified to counter the increased threat from Russia in the wake of a suspected sabotage attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Germany.

Ben Wallace stopped short of blaming Russia for the attack in an interview with The Telegraph, but said it was clear that it was a "deliberate act".

Drones and other undersea technology will be launched from the ships, in a bid to better protect critical national infrastructure. Design work on a second, bespoke vessel will start in 2023.

Read the full story here

05:07 PM

Russian maps show rapid withdrawals of its forces

Russian defence ministry maps presented on Tuesday appeared to show rapid withdrawals of Russian invasion forces from areas in eastern and southern Ukraine where they have been under severe pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The ministry's daily video briefing made no mention of any pullbacks, but on maps used to show the location of purported Russian strikes, the shaded area designating Russian military control was much smaller than the day before.

In northeast Ukraine, where Russia suffered a rout last month, its forces along a frontline running some 70 km southward from Kupiansk along the River Oskil appeared to have retreated some 20 km to the east, as far as the border of Luhansk province.

This would mean they had vacated the last remnants of Ukraine's Kharkiv province - where Russia for several months maintained an occupation administration - but for a small patch between the town of Dvorichna and the Russian border.

04:56 PM

Russian annexations will worsen rights violations, says UN

Russia's claimed annexation of Ukrainian territory will only exacerbate human rights violations, the UN rights office said on Tuesday as it outlined the "unspeakable suffering and devastation" inflicted on Ukrainians.

Christian Salazar Volkmann, presenting a report on Ukraine to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said UN experts had documented "a range of violations of the rights to life, liberty and security".

"The Russian Federation's wide-scale armed attack has resulted in a dire human rights situation across Ukraine," the UN rights office's field operations chief said.

"The people in Ukraine have experienced unspeakable suffering and devastation."

04:46 PM

Listen to today's Telegraph podcast on Ukraine

Everyday we produce a podcast analysing the latest updates on the war in Ukraine.

In today's, we discuss the news that the Ukrainian army is pushing Russian troops back in Kherson - we also analyse European energy security as Autumn descends across the continent and take a look at some of the revealing reactions to tweets by Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Listen here

04:32 PM

Putin promises to donate fertiliser to Mali

Vladimir Putin told Malian junta leader Assimi Goita that he wanted to donate to his country Russian fertiliser currently blocked by Western sanctions.

"The importance of carrying out Russia's initiative to transfer for free 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertiliser blocked in European ports because of illegal sanctions to countries that need it was underlined," the Kremlin said in a statement after the two leaders spoke by telephone.

Putin said last month Russian fertiliser was stuck in European Union ports despite a deal in July between Moscow and Kyiv that allowed Russia to export its agricultural products and fertiliser despite sanctions.

Putin accused the EU of seeking to hoard the fertiliser and promised that Russia would send it, if recovered, to developing countries.

04:15 PM

What would happen if Putin unleashed a nuclear strike?

The Russian president’s latest threat of tactical nuclear weapons has revived fears he could drop an atomic bomb on Ukraine. James Rothwell explores what would happen if he did.

Nuclear weapons are generally classified as being either strategic or tactical, with the former deployed to win a war and the latter to win an individual battle.

According to the British security think tank Rusi, Russia’s tactical arsenal is limited in range to around 300 miles - compared to a 3,000-mile strategic nuclear missile.

Tactical weapons are also lower in explosive yields, such as the 10kt [kilotons of dynamite] SSC-8.

However, even tactical nuclear weapons wield immense destructive power. The atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima had a yield of around 15kt

Russian use of nuclear weapons in such a way would be unprecedented, so it is difficult to predict how such an attack might unfold. But analysts closely following Russian nuclear rhetoric have outlined a handful of scenarios.

Read the full analysis

04:02 PM

Russian oligarch's palatial Italian villa confiscated

A palatial villa on the Italian Riviera said to be under an ancient Egyptian curse has been confiscated from its Russian oligarch owner.

Perched on a cliff near the exclusive resort of Portofino, Villa Altachiara is one of the most imposing properties on Italy’s Riviera coastline.

Owned by Eduard Yurevich Khudaynatov, a Russian tycoon who is close to Vladimir Putin and was included on a European Union black list, the villa was among assets worth 57 billion euros that were confiscated by the Italian authorities.

The mansion was built in 1874 by Henry Herbert, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon, whose son George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, financed the British archaeologist Howard Carter in his quest for the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Olycom Spa/Shutterstock (1310552n) Exterior of Villa Altachiara Villa Altachiara, Portofino, Italy - 2000s - Olycom Spa/Shutterstock
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Olycom Spa/Shutterstock (1310552n) Exterior of Villa Altachiara Villa Altachiara, Portofino, Italy - 2000s - Olycom Spa/Shutterstock
 Olycom Spa/Shutterstock - Olycom Spa/Shutterstock
Olycom Spa/Shutterstock - Olycom Spa/Shutterstock

03:49 PM

Cleverly warns Russia over using nuclear weapons

Britain's foreign minister James Cleverly on Tuesday said Putin's sequence of strategic errors must stop and the use of nuclear weapons would lead to consequences.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that it did not want to take part in "nuclear rhetoric" spread by the West after a media report that Russia was preparing to demonstrate its willingness to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

03:33 PM

Miss Crimea fined for singing Ukrainian patriotic song

Two women in Moscow-annexed Crimea, including Miss Crimea, were found guilty of discrediting the Russian army by singing a Ukrainian patriotic song in a video posted on social media, local authorities have said.

Olga Valeyeva - who won the Miss Crimea 2022 beauty pageant - and an unnamed friend sang the popular Ukrainian "Chervona Kalyna" song on a balcony.

A video of the women singing was posted on Instagram stories, which auto-deletes after 24 hours.

Crimean police said Valeyeva was fined 40,000 rubles (680 euros), while her friend was given a 10-day prison sentence.

03:21 PM

American sentenced by Russian court was a US Marine

More details have emerged of the 28-year-old American sentenced by a Russian court. He has been identified as Robert Gilman, a former US marine.

He was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in a Russian penal colony on Tuesday for attacking a police officer while drunk, Russian news agencies reported.

Police hauled Mr Gilman off a train in Voronezh in January, while he was travelling from the southern city of Sochi to Moscow, after complaints from fellow passengers about his behaviour, the agencies reported, citing the prosecution.

While in custody, Mr Gilman was accused of kicking out at a police officer, leaving him with bruises.

Mtr Gilman, whose lawyers told the TASS news agency he had come to Russia to study and obtain citizenship, told the court in Voronezh that he did not remember the incident but had "apologised to Russia" and to the police officer.

03:04 PM

Ukraine's foreign minister pledges to export grain to Africa

Ukraine will do all it can to send more grain to Africa, said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as he began his tour this week of the continent in Senegal.

Ukraine will be sending "boats full of seeds for Africa," Mr Kuleba said after meeting with Senegal's president and foreign minister in Dakar on Monday.

"We will do our best until the last breath to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to Africa and the world for food security," Mr Kuleba said at a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Aissata Tall Sall.

Senegal's President Macky Sall, the current chairman of the African Union, has urged Russia and Ukraine to resume their grain exports despite the ongoing war.

02:49 PM

A Russian war reporter becomes the latest pro-Kremlin voice to warn of tough task facing Russian troops

02:45 PM

Russian court jails US citizen for kicking police officer

A 28-year-old US citizen has been sentenced by a Russian court to four years and six months in prison for kicking a law enforcement official.

"This man, who disagreed with lawful actions taken by the authorities, used violence against a police officer who was on duty, kicking him several times," the investigative committee, which probes major crimes, said in a statement.

02:15 PM

Finnish city removes last publicly displayed statue of Lenin

A city in southeastern Finland  removed the country's last publicly displayed statue of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin following pressure from residents in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine.

A group of construction workers in Kotka, a port city of 52,000 not far from the border with Russia, hoisted the statue into a truck on Tuesday and drove it away to a warehouse of a local museum.

City museum director Kirsi Niku told Finnish public broadcaster YLE that the bronze bust was designed and constructed by Estonian sculptor Matti Varik in the late 1970s on orders from Moscow.

It was presented to Kotka in 1979 as a gift from friendship city Tallinn, then the capital of the Estonian Soviet republic and now the capital of the Baltic nation of Estonia.

Presenting such statues was a common practice by Moscow, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, to underline the Finnish-Soviet friendship in the post-WWII era.

A statue of Vladimir Lenin is removed from the streets of the city of Kotka, Finland Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The southeastern Finnish city of Kotka on Tuesday removed the last publicly displayed statue of Russian bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in the Nordic country due to increasing pressure from residents in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. (Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP) - Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP
A statue of Vladimir Lenin is removed from the streets of the city of Kotka, Finland Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The southeastern Finnish city of Kotka on Tuesday removed the last publicly displayed statue of Russian bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in the Nordic country due to increasing pressure from residents in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. (Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP) - Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP
A statue of Vladimir Lenin is removed from the streets of the city of Kotka, Finland Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The southeastern Finnish city of Kotka on Tuesday removed the last publicly displayed statue of Russian bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in the Nordic country due to increasing pressure from residents in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. (Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP) - Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP
A statue of Vladimir Lenin is removed from the streets of the city of Kotka, Finland Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The southeastern Finnish city of Kotka on Tuesday removed the last publicly displayed statue of Russian bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in the Nordic country due to increasing pressure from residents in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. (Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP) - Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP

01:50 PM

Ukrainian economy will plunge 35pc this year

Devastated by Russia's invasion eight months ago, the Ukrainian economy will plunge 35 per cent this year, the World Bank forecast Tuesday.

The war has destroyed factories and farmland and displaced millions of Ukrainians. The World Bank, a 189-country anti-poverty agency, estimates that rebuilding the country will cost at least $349 billion, 1.5 times the size of Ukraine's prewar economy.

"Ukraine continues to need enormous financial support as the war needlessly rages on as well as for recovery and reconstruction projects," said Anna Bjerde, World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia.

Still, the bank's assessment for Ukraine's economy marks an upgrade from the 45.1 per cent freefall it forecast in June. And it expects that the Ukrainian economy will return to growth in 2023, expanding 3.3 per cent though the outlook is highly uncertain and will depend on the course of the war.

01:33 PM

UK adds one designation under Russian sanction regime

The British government said on Tuesday it had imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze on Sergei Yeliseyev as part of its broader sanctions against Russia.

The government said Yeliseyev was deputy prime minister of Kaliningrad and was involved in "destabilising Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine".

01:15 PM

Kremlin thanks Elon Musk after he tweets his ‘peace’ plan for Ukraine

Elon Musk is not one to shy away from controversy. In his latest Twitter stunt, the billionaire has offered advice on bringing about an end to the war, drawing condemnation from Ukraine and praise from Russia, writes Verity Bowman and Josie Ensor

The Kremlin has thanked Tesla founder Elon Musk after the billionaire suggested his own controversial peace plan to end the war with Russia.

Mr Musk, the world's richest person, suggested on Monday that four annexed regions of Ukraine should redo referendums on joining Russia under the supervision of the United Nations.

The votes held in September were condemned as illegitimate by both Kyiv and Western governments.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it was a "positive step" that Mr Musk was outlining a possible peace deal, hours after Kyiv slammed Mr Musk's call for a negotiated settlement to Russia's seven-month-old conflict with Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters in a conference call that Moscow had always been open to a negotiated end to the conflict.

Read the full story

12:57 PM

'Together we'll protect the world from infection': A recruitment poster from the Wagner mercenary group plastered on the side of a bus

12:42 PM

The latest troop movements as mapped by the UK MoD

12:27 PM

Kyiv giving out iodine pills in case of nuclear strike

The city council of Kyiv says it is providing evacuation centers with potassium iodine pills in preparation for a possible nuclear strike on the capital, Ukraine's largest city.

Potassium iodine pills can help block the absorption of harmful radiation by the thyroid gland if taken just before or immediately after exposure to nuclear radiation.

The pills will be distributed to residents in areas contaminated by nuclear radiation if there is a need to evacuate, the city council said in a statement.

President Putin has said that he would "use all the means at our disposal" to win the war while his ground forces retreat from a Ukrainian counterattack.

12:10 PM

Russia poised for bumper harvest

Russia is set to have a bumper grain harvest thanks to its takeover of four Ukrainian territories, said its agriculture minister. 

Dmitry Patrushev said Russia's harvest is set to grow by about 5 million tonnes a year after it took over the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

"Considering the arable land that exists there, I think at least 5 million tonnes of grain will be added to the Russian savings box. I also think that we'll get other crops," he was quoted as saying by the state news agency TASS.

The Kremlin said that President Putin was likely to sign laws on Tuesday to annex the four regions, representing about 18 per cent of Ukraine's internationally recognised territory.

11:49 AM

Japan expels Russian consul in tit-for-tat move

Japan has ordered a senior Russian official stationed in the country to leave in retaliation for the expulsion of a Japanese diplomat accused of spying.

The tit-for-tat move came after Tokyo demanded an apology last week from Moscow for detaining a diplomat based in the eastern city of Vladivostok, accusing Russia of blindfolding and pinning the man down in "unbelievable acts".

On Tuesday, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement that it would expel a Russian consul in the northern city of Sapporo "as a corresponding measure to Russia's actions".

"The Japanese government declared one consul from the Russian consulate general's office in Sapporo persona non grata, and demanded that the person leave Japan in six days, which is to say by October 10," it said in a statement.

11:37 AM

Russia will not take part in West's 'nuclear rhetoric', Kremlin says

The Kremlin said that it did not want to take part in the nuclear rhetoric spread by Western powers and media organisations on Tuesday.

That was Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov's response when asked about media reports that Russia was preparing to demonstrate its willingness to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

The Times newspaper reported on Monday that the NATO military alliance had warned members that President Vladimir Putin was set to hold a nuclear test on Ukraine's borders.

Asked about the report, Mr Peskov said Russia did not want to take part in what he cast as Western exercises in "nuclear rhetoric".

In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Russian nuclear submarines Prince Vladimir, above, and Yekaterinburg are harbored at a Russian naval base in Gazhiyevo, Kola Peninsula, Russia, on April 13, 2021 - Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP
In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Russian nuclear submarines Prince Vladimir, above, and Yekaterinburg are harbored at a Russian naval base in Gazhiyevo, Kola Peninsula, Russia, on April 13, 2021 - Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP

11:33 AM

More than 200,000 Russians drafted so far in 'partial mobilisation', claims Moscow

More than 200,000 people have been called up for military service since Russia announced a "partial mobilisation" two weeks ago, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Tuesday.

Shoigu said Russia is aiming to recruit an additional 300,000 military personnel as part of the initiative.

His claims come after widespread reports that hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled to countries such as Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland to avoid being drafted.

A Russian reservist bids his child farewell before his departure for a base in the course of partial mobilization of troops - Stringer/REUTERS
A Russian reservist bids his child farewell before his departure for a base in the course of partial mobilization of troops - Stringer/REUTERS

11:20 AM

'Positive step' that Elon Musk suggested Ukraine peace deal, says Kremlin

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it was a "positive step" that Tesla founder Elon Musk was outlining a possible peace deal, hours after Kyiv slammed Musk's call for a negotiated settlement to Russia's seven-month-old conflict with Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters in a conference call that Moscow had always been open to a negotiated end to the conflict.

See below what Musk posted on his Twitter yesterday:

11:15 AM

Kremlin says conflict in Ukraine won't end if Kyiv rules out talks

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that its "special military operation" in Ukraine will not end if Kyiv rules out talks, adding that it "takes two sides to negotiate".

"We will either wait for the current president to change his position or wait for the next president to change his position in the interests of the Ukrainian people," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

UKrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on Tuesday formally declaring any talks between Kyiv and President Vladimir Putin "impossible", but left the door open to talks with Russia.

11:13 AM

Putin 'likely' to sign laws to annex Ukraine territories today, Kremlin says

President Vladimir Putin is "likely" to sign laws to incorporate four Ukrainian territories into Russia during the course of the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Earlier, the upper house of the Russian parliament unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, representing around 18 per cent of Ukraine's internationally-recognised territory, following a similar vote in the lower house on Monday.

10:51 AM

Norwegian police put drone detectors on offshore oil and gas platforms

Norwegian police have placed drone detection systems on offshore oil and gas platforms to investigate recent safety breaches, newspaper VG reported on Tuesday, as part of a wider security ramp-up following damage last week to the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

Oil companies in recent weeks have reported a jump in sightings of unidentified drones, and Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority on September 26 warned of risks of accidents or even deliberate attacks.

Benedicte Bjoernland, the head of Norway's police directorate, told VG the sensors were deployed to identify any illegal drones and also as a deterrent against anyone seeking to use them in the first place.

The police directorate declined to say how many of the more than 90 Norwegian oil and gas fields had been equipped with drone detectors.

10:39 AM

Zelensky decree rules out Ukraine talks with Putin as 'impossible'

President Zelensky signed a decree on Tuesday formally declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin "impossible", but leaving the door open to talks with Russia.

The decree formalised comments made by Zelensky on Friday after the Russian president proclaimed four occupied regions of Ukraine to be a part of Russia, in what Kyiv and the West said was an illegitimate farce.

"He (Putin) does not know what dignity and honesty are. Therefore, we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia," Zelensky said on Friday.

Ukrainian forces have broken through Russian defences in the south of the country and expanded a rapid offensive in the east, seizing back territory in areas annexed by Russia.

10:23 AM

Russia fines TikTok for 'LGBT propaganda' and Twitch over Ukraine content

On Tuesday Russia fined TikTok for failing to delete content that violates Russian laws on 'LGBT propaganda' and streaming service Twitch for hosting a video interview with a Ukrainian political figure that Moscow said contained 'fake' information.

Interfax reported that a TikTok representative in the courtroom had insisted the proceedings be terminated, without giving further details.

The fines mark the latest step in Moscow's long-running dispute with Big Tech, with penalties over content, demands over data storage and some outright bans.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based IT company ByteDance, was fined 3 million roubles ($51,000), Moscow's Tagansky District Court said.

News agencies reported that the case against TikTok was based on accusations that the company was "promoting non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values" on its platform.

Twitch, owned by Amazon, was fined 4 million roubles ($68,000), the court said. News agencies said the case had been drawn up in response to Twitch hosting an interview with Oleksiy Arestovych, and adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia passed a law in early March, soon after sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, that prohibits "discrediting" the armed forces, with a sentence of up to 15 years. Foreign tech firms have been warned against violating that law.

09:47 AM

Russian rouble firms vs dollar but falls back sharply against euro

The rouble firmed against the dollar on Tuesday and fell back sharply against the euro, giving up most of the previous session's gains, as concerns over possible new sanctions against Moscow continued to buffet the Russian currency.

By this morning, the rouble was 0.5 per cent stronger against the dollar at 58.59​​ and had lost 4.2 per cent to trade at 55.84 versus the euro. It had firmed 1.1 per cent against the yuan to 8.18.

The rouble may come under pressure amid a low supply of foreign currency by exporters, said Banki.ru chief analyst Bogdan Zvarich, and may try to weaken past the 59 mark against the greenback.

The Russian currency has experienced significant swings in recent sessions, hampered by limited liquidity and investors' concerns that any new sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine could restrict access to foreign currency in Moscow.

09:17 AM

Russia's Federation Council ratifies annexation of four Ukrainian regions

The upper house of Russia's parliament voted on Tuesday to approve the incorporation of four Ukrainian regions into Russia, as Moscow sets about formally annexing territory it seized from Kyiv during its seven-month conflict.

In a session on Tuesday, the Federation Council unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, following a similar vote in the State Duma, Russia's lower house, yesterday.

The documents now pass back to the Kremlin for President Vladimir Putin's final signature to complete the process of formally annexing the four regions, representing around 18 per cent of Ukraine's internationally-recognised territory.

Russia declared the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

Despite having passed through Russia's rubber-stamp parliament, the Kremlin is yet to formally designate the borders of the new regions - large parts of which are under the control of Ukraine's forces.

09:06 AM

Pictured: The destruction caused by Russian shelling in Ukraine

A woman walks her dog outside a destroyed building in Izium, Ukraine - Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
A woman walks her dog outside a destroyed building in Izium, Ukraine - Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Destruction is seen in a civilian neighborhood in Siversk city - Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Destruction is seen in a civilian neighborhood in Siversk city - Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A destroyed petrol station in Siversk city after Russian shelling - Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A destroyed petrol station in Siversk city after Russian shelling - Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

08:58 AM

Grim winter looms as Ukraine braces for infrastructure attacks

In an abandoned tower block damaged by Russian shelling in Ukraine's second city, Olga Kobzar plans to tough out winter for as long as she can without electricity, water and central heating by lighting the gas stove in her kitchen for warmth.

The 70-year-old, who lives alone in a devastated district of northern Kharkiv where the temperature can fall to -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), is at the sharp end of what Ukrainian officials say will be the grimmest winter in decades.

She is the last remaining inhabitant of her tower block in the Saltivka district, around 30 km (20 miles) from the Russian border.

Her neighbour's flat was hit and others engulfed in flames, but hers is still intact, without basic utilities.

"It would be a sin to leave this place," she says, gesturing at shelves of old books and the portrait of her late husband she believes keeps her safe.

The seven-month-old war has wrought huge damage to the energy network - and to residential areas in swathes of Ukraine - and officials fear Moscow could deliberately attack critical infrastructure when the frost sets in.

Officials are urging people to stock up on everything from firewood to electric generators and fear disruptions to the centralised home-heating season that are hard to prepare for because so many different things could go wrong.

Women try to communicate on a mobile phone outside a destroyed building in Izium, Ukraine - Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Women try to communicate on a mobile phone outside a destroyed building in Izium, Ukraine - Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

08:33 AM

More towns liberated in several regions, says Zelensky

Ukrainian forces have broken through Russia's defences in the south of the country while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, seizing back more territory in areas annexed by Moscow and threatening supply lines for Russian troops.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, said his country's army had seized back towns in a number of areas, without providing details.

"New population centres have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting is going on on several sectors of the front," Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

Making their biggest breakthrough in the south since the war began, Ukrainian forces recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said.

08:01 AM

Nuclear weapons convoy sparks fears Putin could be preparing test to send ‘signal to the West’

A Russian convoy transporting equipment for Russia's nuclear weapons programme has sparked fears that Vladimir Putin could be preparing a test to send a “signal to the West”.

A train operated by the secretive nuclear division and linked to the 12th main directorate of the Russian ministry of defence was spotted in central Russia over the weekend heading towards the front line in Ukraine.

The pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar shared the footage showing the large freight convoy hauling upgraded armoured personnel carriers and other equipment.

Konrad Muzyka, a defence analyst specialising in Ukraine, said the 12th directorate operated a dozen central storage facilities for nuclear weapons.

"This is actually a kit belonging to the 12th Main Directorate of the Russian MoD,” The Poland-based analyst said. “The directorate is responsible for nuclear munitions, their storage, maintenance, transport, and issuance to units."

Mr Muzyka said it could be a “signalling to the West that Moscow is escalating," in reference to Vladimir Putin's nuclear war warning last week.

However, the expert stressed that the video in no way shows "preparations for a nuclear release".

READ MORE: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/10/03/nuclear-weapons-convoy-sparks-fears-putin-could-preparing-test/

07:39 AM

Lawyers overwhelmed by requests to help Russians avoid fighting in Ukraine

Swamped by panic-stricken requests for help to avoid being drafted, Russian lawyers say they are working flat out to offer advice to those at risk of being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Lawyers and civil society groups say they have been overwhelmed by demands for support since President Vladimir Putin announced on September 21 that 300,000 people would be mobilised to boost Russia's flagging war effort.

Hundreds of thousands have fled to countries such as Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland. Many more remain in Russia and are hiding from military recruiters, praying they won't be summoned or hoping for exemptions from service.

"We are working round the clock," said Sergei Krivenko, who runs a group of around 10 lawyers called Citizen. Army. Law.

"People are being torn from their normal lives," he said. "This is a mobilisation without time limit during a war. It could last months or years. People may not return ... Leaving the army is pretty much impossible. The only way is death, injury or prison for disobeying orders."

06:50 AM

Russian space agency plans for future

Russia's space agency is discussing with Moscow a continuation of its participation in the International Space Station past 2024, a Roscosmos official has said.

Sergei Krikalev, head of Russia's human space flight programmes, told reporters that Roscosmos had started "to discuss extending our participation in ISS program with our government and hope to have permission to continue next year".

With ties between Russia and the West rupturing over the war in Ukraine, Roscosmos chief Yuri Borissov had announced over the summer that Russia would leave the ISS "after 2024", and would seek to build its own space station.

He has not set a firm date for that plan.

Krikalev admitted that building a new station would not happen quickly, "so probably we will keep flying until we will have any new infrastructure".

His remarks, in English, came during a NASA press conference ahead of Wednesday's launch of a SpaceX rocket that will carry a Russian cosmonaut, two American astronauts and a Japanese astronaut to the ISS.

ISS partner countries – the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan – are for the moment only committed to operating the orbiting laboratory until 2024, though US officials have already stated they want to continue until 2030.

The space sector is one of the few areas of cooperation that have survived the extreme tensions between the US and Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.

06:05 AM

Royal Navy frigate heads to North Sea

A Royal Navy frigate was on Monday night sent to the North Sea in a show of force after a suspected Russian attack on the Nord Stream pipeline.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it was looking to reassure partners after the pipelines in the Nord Stream network burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters.

Moscow, whose state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, is the main owner of the pipelines, denied responsibility, saying the US had more to gain from the damage.

MoD said a Royal Navy frigate was in the area and working with the Norwegian navy.

READ MORE: Royal Navy sends frigate to North Sea after Nord Stream ‘sabotage’

05:05 AM

Anger over Elon Musk's 'peace' plan

When American billionaire Elon Musk asked Twitter users on Monday to weigh in on a plan to end Russia's war in Ukraine, he drew immediate condemnation from Ukrainians, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, who responded with his own poll (below):

Lithuania's President, Gitanas Nausėda, tweeted: "Dear @elonmusk, when someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn't make them legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favour of it. Just saying."

Ukraine's outspoken outgoing ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, also had a blunt reaction to Mr Musk's peace plan: "F--- off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk."

Read the full story – including Elon Musk's controversial suggestions for peace – here.

04:15 AM

Ticket sales increase as Russians try to leave

The number of one-way tickets from Russia increased 27pc the week Vladimir Putin declared mobilisation, according to flight data from Spain-based ForwardKeys.

The mobilisation of men to fight in Ukraine prompted thousands of fighting-age men to flee Russia to avoid being drafted.

Sixty per cent of tickets bought the week of Putin's announcement had a departure date within 15 days.

According to ForwardKeys' air travel booking data, there was a triple-digit increase for the week ended September 27 in one-way tickets from Russia to the cities of Tbilisi, Georgia; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Istanbul, Turkey; Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

03:26 AM

Ukraine making significant advances

Ukraine has made significant advances in two of the four Russian-occupied regions Moscow annexed last week after what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.

In a sign Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, columns of Ukrainian military vehicles were seen on Monday heading to reinforce rail hub Lyman, a staging post to press into the Donbas region.

Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine's army had seized back towns in a number of areas, but did not provide more details.

"New population centres have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting is going on on several sectors of the front," the Ukrainian President said in his nightly video address.

02:49 AM

Ukrainians break through Russia's defences

Ukrainian forces have broken through Russia's defences in the south of the country while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, seizing back more territory in areas annexed by Moscow and threatening supply lines for Russian troops.

Making their biggest breakthrough in the south since the war began, Ukrainian forces recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said.

The southern breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian advances in the east even as Moscow has tried to raise the stakes by annexing land, ordering mobilisation, and threatening nuclear retaliation.

02:48 AM

Russian troops take over psychiatric hospital

A multiple rocket launcher crew move down a road along the front line in Donetsk region - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP
A multiple rocket launcher crew move down a road along the front line in Donetsk region - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

Russian forces had taken over a psychiatric hospital in the town of Svatovo, a target en route to recapturing the major cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk, according to Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk – one of two regions that make up the Donbas.

"There is quite a network of underground rooms in the building and they have taken up defensive positions," he told Ukrainian television. "This might be an understandable tactic, but it won't save them."

In the south, Ukrainian troops recaptured the town of Dudchany along the west bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine's Kherson province, told Russian state television.

"There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces," Saldo said.

Dudchany is around 30km (20 miles) south of where the front stood before Monday, indicating the fastest advance of the war so far in the south. Russian forces there had been dug into heavily reinforced positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion.

02:20 AM

Today's top stories

  • Elon Musk has found himself embroiled in a row with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky after the billionaire suggested his own controversial peace plan to end the war with Russia

  • A Royal Navy frigate was on Monday night sent to the North Sea in a show of force after a suspected Russian attack on the Nord Stream pipeline

  • Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov - a key ally of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president - is sending his three teenage sons to fight in Ukraine, amid mounting criticism of the Kremlin’s handling of the war among propagandists

  • A Russian convoy transporting equipment for Russia's nuclear weapons programme has sparked fears that Vladimir Putin could be preparing a test to send a “signal to the West”

  • France is becoming “irrelevant” in the Ukraine war and should do more to bump up its meagre supply of weapons, a top French defence expert has warned

  • Russia fired a top general on Monday as its forces retreated on two fronts in the face of fresh Ukrainian breakthroughs

  • For nearly a thousand years they have stood guard over Izyum, gazing west towards the setting sun. Now the babas of Mount Kremenets have become perhaps the oldest victims of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

  • When Ukrainian troops forced a gap in the Russian lines to the east of Kharkiv a month ago, piling through in their droves and forcing a pell-mell retreat by Moscow’s forces, the world saw quite how vulnerable Putin’s army was