Ukraine war latest: 1,000 'heating points' set up in Kyiv as winter looms – while Russia is accused of 'covert' mobilisation (2023)

Key points
  • 1,000 'heating points' set up in Kyiv ahead of winter
  • Is 'covert' mobilisation ongoing in Russia?
  • Johnson says Putin 'would be crazy' to use tactical nuclear weapon
  • Former PM warns West against making 'grubby deal' with Putin
  • Do Vladimir Putin's hands give us a clue about his ill health?
  • Analysis:Boris Johnson's close relationship with Zelenskyy still holds sway - that Sunak will find difficult to match
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler. Updates also from John Sparks in southern Ukraine and Diana Magnay in Moscow


Boris Johnson's close relationship with Zelenskyy still holds sway - that Sunak will find difficult to match

He may be a former British prime minister, but any comment made by Boris Johnson on the war in Ukraine still carries weight, especially when it comes to nuclear weapons.

His uniquely close relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his decision to be a leading voice among Western allies in supporting Ukraine from the outset of the invasion has made London one of Kyiv's most trusted and valued partners.

It also gave Mr Johnson privileged access during his time in office to the private thoughts of Mr Zelenskyy as well as a deep understanding of Ukraine's need to defeat Russia's invasion and the threats it could face - all the way up to Vladimir Putin launching a nuclear strike.

Having been the leader of a nuclear power, Mr Johnson would have been carefully briefed by officials about the risk of nuclear escalation by Russia and how Western allies, led by the United States, might respond.

NATO allies have a deliberate policy of "strategic ambiguity" when it comes to anything nuclear - refusing to set out in public how they might retaliate should the Kremlin choose to break the nuclear taboo and use an atomic weapon against Ukraine.

However, Mr Johnson made clear there would have to be a Western response, noting in his interview with Sky News that there "are all sorts of options".

You can read more from our security and defence editor Deborah Haynes below...


Russia begins semi-annual conscription drive - but does 'covert' mobilisation continue?

Moscow yesterday launched its semi-annual autumn conscription drive - as reports emerge of continuing "covert mobilisation" across Russia, a US-based thinktank says.

The Institute for the Study of War said the Kremlin had announced the autumn conscription call-up of 120,000 men on Tuesday.

Defence minister Sergey Shoigu also insisted that "partial mobilisation" of 300,000 reservists in Russia has concluded - but it is unclear if this is true.

The ISW said: "Numerous Russian sources reported that Russian enlistment officers are continuing to mobilise men despite Mr Shoigu’s previous announcements of the conclusion of partial mobilisation and transition into the conscription period on 28 October.

"Local Russian outlets reported instances of men receiving mobilization notices in Tyumen and St Petersburg as of 31 October.

"The Russian Central Military District (CMD) reportedly told journalists of a Russian outlet that mobilisation processes will continue across Russia until Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a decree ending the mobilisation period."

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The Kremlin said yesterday that a decree was not necessary.

The thinktank added: "Ukrainian Melitopol and Mariupol authorities also reported that Russian occupation authorities are continuing to coerce Ukrainians into volunteer battalions and territorial defence units."

The partial mobilisation was said to only impact those with military experience, amounting to around 300,000 men. It sparked a mass migration of young Russian men who feared conscription.

For context: Russia has conducted semi-annual conscription call-ups for decades, and according to the ISW, and "should be able to execute this process effectively and efficiently".

Any problems with a call-up would "likely indicate that partial mobilisation and the war in Ukraine have complicated a standard procedure", the ISW said.


1,000 'heating points' set up in Kyiv as Russia continues to strike key infrastructure

A thousand heating points will be established throughout the Ukrainian capital ahead of the winter, to prepare for further strikes on critical infrastructure.

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said the city was pre-empting a potential loss of its heating system - in the wake of renewed strikes on energy and water supply facilities.

Missile and drone attacks have damaged 40% of Ukraine'senergy infrastructure and have already briefly left large partsof Kyiv without power and water, prompting power rationing.

Mr Klitschko said thatcity authorities were considering different scenarios due tomissile attacks.

"The worst one is where there will be no electric power,water or district heating at all," he said. "For that case, weare preparing over 1,000 heating points in our city."

The locations will be equipped by generators and have astock of necessities such as water, he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians who have already left the country due to the war with Russia have been urged tostay abroad for the winter.

Kyiv has accused Moscow ofprovoking a new humanitarian crisis by forcing even more peopleto flee, scared by the prospects of having to survive with nopower or heating during the cold season.


Inside Ukraine's trenches: 'It's like the First World War - very compact, claustrophobic'

In the lowlands which separate the regions Mykolaiv and Kherson, there is little of great value to see, writes our international correspondent John Sparks.

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The fields are flat and generally featureless, and the residents of local villages have evacuated their homes.

Yet this territory is critically important, for it serves as the gateway to the city of Kherson.

A metropolitan centre of some 300,000, it is the only regional capital the Russians have managed to capture - which makes it an inestimable military prize.

By capturing the city, the Ukrainians would effectively banish the enemy from western side of the Dnipro River, reinforcing the momentum they have built over the past weeks.

Their forces lie some 30km from the outskirts of the city and we were taken to a series of narrow-walled trenches which form the Ukraine side of the current front line.

A soldier called Oleksandr, who led us down a passage, then pointed at a hole that had been chiselled in the wall.

You can read more from Sparks in the link below...


Good morning - here's your early rundown

After Russia toldcivilians to leave a swathe of Ukraine along theeastern bank of the Dnipro River, here is the latest on the crisis:

  • Experts from the UN's nuclear power agency are inspecting two sites where Russia has made unfounded claims that Ukraine is manufacturing "dirty bombs";
  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had an "extremely important and productive conversation" with the French president about restoring Ukraine's damaged energy facilities;
  • Ukraine's defence ministry claimed that Iran planned to send over 200 drones to Russia at the start of this month;
  • The UN coordinator forthe Ukraine Black Sea grain deal said he expected loaded ships todepart Ukrainian ports on Thursday;
  • In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Boris Johnson said he did not think Vladimir Putin will use a tactical nuclear weapon in his war in Ukraine.

The map below shows the areas of Ukraine that are under Russian control...


Britain and US brought Hitler and Mussolini to power, Russian activist claims

Russian social activist Nikolai Starikov has claimed the UK and the US brought Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini to power.

In a clip shared by the BBC's Francis Scarr, Mr Starikov can be heard telling panellists on Russian state TV that that the two dictators were the "fruit of British intelligence agencies".

He said: "In essence, we understand that Hitler was brought to power by Britain and the US.

"They were behind the very same process around ten years earlier in Italy. But they don't talk about that because it wouldn't look very good."

He went on to say: "It turns out that it was the fruit of British intelligence agencies."

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War in Ukraine could 'flare up and die down for a generation', expert says

The war in Ukraine is an ongoing conflict which could "flare up and die down for a generation", ProfessorMichael Clarke, former director-general at the Royal United Services Institute has said.

Speaking about what could happen going forward in the war, the defence analyst told Sky's Mark Austin: "It's impossible to imagine this war carrying on with this intensity indefinitely. It will go up and down.

"My guess is it will certainly run into next year.

"My second guess is there will be an unstable ceasefire which will probably favour Ukraine more than we thought it would a couple of months ago."

Mr Clarke went on to say the war would be an "on and off" conflict and the West needed to be prepared for that.

"This is an ongoing conflict which could flare up and die down for a generation," he added.


Putin using nuclear threats to 'calibrate' how West will respond

It is unlikely Vladimir Putin wants to leave behind a "nuclear legacy" unless he has to, Sky's Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay has said.

As fears continue to mount over whether Russia will launch a nuclear attack on Ukraine, Diana said the threats were Mr Putin's way of trying to "calibrate" how his adversary would respond.

She said: "All the way we have heard angrier nuclear rhetoric when his army is doing worse and different messaging when it is not.

"If you look at Russian military doctrine on how to escalate and de-escalate conflict you'll see they talk about using conventional non-nuclear strikes coupled with nuclear threats."

She added: "I don't think Vladimir Putin is mad.

"He is a rational actor and therefore there are many things he may be trying to carve out for his legacy, such as getting back as much of Ukraine as he can."


Former PM warns West against making 'grubby deal' with Putin

Former prime minister Boris Johnson said that the crisis in Ukraine meant that now was a "critical" and "pivotal" moment for the world.

Mr Johnson said that it was important for Western powers to "hold firm" and support Ukraine in its war with Russia.

"It's a turning point and I think the danger is that we will try to compromise and find some sort of deal," he said.

"Some grubby bargain with Putin trying to encourage the Ukrainians to trade some of their territory which will only encourage Putin to create aggression as we've seen since 2014.

"The prize for holding firm and continuing to support Ukraine is absolutely immense because for the first time in decades we will have shown that we really believe in democracy and freedom and that we're really willing to support it."

He went on to say a "Ukrainian victory could be an absolute turning point for the world".

Asked if he regretted losing the influence he had on the war in Ukraine after losing power, Mr Johnson added: "The most important thing is to focus not on me or my political career, but to focus on what matters."

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Putin would be 'crazy' to use nuclear weapons

Boris Johnson has said he does not believe Vladimir Putin will use a tactical nuclear weapon in the conflict with Ukraine, as it would be "crazy" to wreak "total disaster" on his own country.

The former prime minister said the act would "immediately tender Russia's resignation from the club of civilised nations" and plunge the country into a "kind of cryogenic economic freeze".

"I don't think he will. I think he would be crazy to do so," he said.

"I think what would happen is he would immediately tender Russia's resignation from the club of civilised nations. It would be a total disaster for his country."

Mr Johnson suggested Mr Putin would also lose a lot of the "kind of middle ground of global tacit acquiescence that he's had" if he were to launch a nuclear attack.

He added: "The current economic punishment that the West has been able to dish out would be massively intensified. Russia would be put into a kind of cryogenic economic freeze."

Mr Johnson went on to say that Mr Putin had "disastrously miscalculated" the war.

"In the UK government we all read his crackers essay on Ukraine in the summer of last year," he added.

"He fundamentally misunderstood what Ukraine is. It was like reading Slobodan Milosevic on the subject of Kosovo.

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"Slobodan thought Kosovo was an integral part of greater Serbia and the spiritual homeland and the origins of the Serb nation and I think that's how Putin felt about Kyiv and the origins of the Orthodox faith.

"It's a total category error. Ukraine is a free independent European culture with its own identity, its own ambitions and its own destiny and he made a fundamental mistake."


Was Ukraine part of the Cold War? ›

Ukraine became the centre of Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. The republic was also turned into a Soviet military outpost in the cold war, a territory crowded by military bases packed with the most up-to-date weapons systems. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite.

Why there is a tension between Ukraine and Russia? ›

Throughout 2021 and 2022, a Russian military buildup on the border of Ukraine escalated tensions between the two countries and strained their bilateral relations. Ukraine broke diplomatic relations with Moscow in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

What is the Russian Federation? ›

The Russian Federation (Russia) is physically the largest country in the world, covering 6.6 million square miles and 11 time zones over its 6,000-mile length. Its population of about 141.7 million includes well over 100 ethnic groups, though the majority are ethnic Russians.

Can Ukraine build nuclear weapons? ›

All ICBMs were dismantled or removed from Ukraine, and all nuclear missile silos in Ukraine were destroyed. As a Non-Nuclear Weapon State Party to the NPT, Ukraine has upheld its obligation not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or to seek or receive assistance in their manufacture.

Why does Ukraine have so many nuclear power plants? ›

Ukraine has 15 functional nuclear reactors, which together supplied 51 percent of its electricity in 2020, according to the IAEA, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog. Kyiv has relied on nuclear power to avoid energy dependence on Russia, which controls some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves.

How many tanks does Russia have? ›

According to the Military Balance 2021, quoted in Kyiv Independent, Russia has over 10,000 battle tanks in storage, mainly T-72s and T-80s.

Why is Ukraine so important to the United States? ›

Ukraine is a key regional strategic partner that has undertaken significant efforts to modernize its military and increase its interoperability with NATO. It remains an urgent security assistance priority to provide Ukraine the equipment it needs to defend itself against Russia's war against Ukraine.

Why is Ukraine important to world? ›

Ukraine is historically a large exporter of grain. In 2021, Ukrainian grain fed 400 million people around the world. For the first 5 months of the war, Ukraine was unable to export its grain through its primary shipping routes through the Black Sea. Countries reliant on this grain suffered as a consequence.

Which religion belongs to Russia? ›

Today Russian Orthodoxy is the country's largest religious denomination, representing more than half of all adherents. Organized religion was repressed by Soviet authorities for most of the 20th century, and the nonreligious still constitute more than one-fourth of the population.

Is Russia 3 miles from the United States? ›

Separating the two islands is the International Date Line (IDL) which is also the border between Russia and the United States. A mere 2.4 miles (3.8 kilometers) separates the two islands.

What rights do Russian citizens have? ›

Everyone in Russian Federation enjoys the right to a favourable environment, right to education, and freedom of literary, artistic, scientific, intellectual and other creative pursuits. Citizens enjoy the freedom to practice and enjoy their cultural life as well as to pursue their cultural values and heritage.

What would happen in a nuclear war? ›

According to a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature Food in August 2022, a full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would kill 360 million people directly and more than 5 billion people would die from starvation.

Can the UK shoot down a nuke? ›

There is no real credible capability to shoot down an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile. No nation really has a credible capability in this respect. Whilst anti-ballistic missile technology exists, current technological advances do not stretch to a capable system to protect against even a limited ICBM attack.

How many nukes does NATO have? ›

As of 2022, there were estimated to be approximately 4,178 nuclear warheads belonging to three NATO allies, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.

What would happen if Zaporizhzhia blew up? ›

In the immediate aftermath of an explosion, experts said the likely result would be widespread evacuations to escape an invisible radioactive cloud. However, the effect of a leak in radiation would probably be felt for years to come.

How far would radiation from Zaporizhzhia reach? ›

Cizelj estimated a 30-kilometer radius.

How Far Can radiation spread? ›

Mild, first-degree burns can occur up to 11 km (6.8 miles) away, and third-degree burns – the kind that destroy and blister skin tissue – could affect anyone up to 8 km (5 miles) away. Third-degree burns that cover more than 24 percent of the body will likely be fatal if people don't receive medical care immediately.

What countries were involved in the Cold War? ›

The Cold War was an ongoing political rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies that developed after World War II.

What was Ukraine called before the Cold War? ›

The Ukrainian War of Independence of 1917 to 1921 produced the Makhnovshchina, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (in 1919 merged from the Ukrainian People's Republic and West Ukrainian People's Republic) which was quickly subsumed in the Soviet Union.

Who was involved in the Cold War? ›

After World War II, the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its satellite states began a decades-long struggle for supremacy known as the Cold War. Soldiers of the Soviet Union and the United States did not do battle directly during the Cold War.

What type of government did Ukraine have during the Cold War? ›

In the anthem of the Ukrainian SSR, it was referred to simply as Ukraine. Under the Soviet one-party model, the Ukrainian SSR was governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union through its republican branch: the Communist Party of Ukraine.

Which country was most responsible for the Cold War? ›

The United States and the Soviet Union both contributed to the rise of the Cold War. They were ideological nation-states with incompatible and mutually exclusive ideologies. The founding purpose of the Soviet Union was global domination, and it actively sought the destruction of the United States and its allies.

Which countries were the most powerful during the Cold War? ›

The United States and the Soviet Union since they were the two strongest nations that could affect the world.

Who won ww2 USA or Russia? ›

The Allied Powers won the war. The USA was one of the Allied Powers, and Russia was part of the Soviet Union, which also fought with the Allied Powers. So, you could say that both the USA and Russia won World War 2.

When did Ukraine give up nuclear weapons? ›

In 1992, Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol and it joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state in 1994. The transfer of all nuclear material took some time, but by 2001, all nuclear weapons had been transferred to Russia to be dismantled and all launch silos decommissioned.

Why did Khrushchev give Crimea to Ukraine? ›

He was ethnically Russian, but he really felt great affinity with Ukraine." Sergei Khrushchev, Khrushchev's son, claimed that the decision was due to the building of a hydro-electric dam on the Dnieper River and the consequent desire for all the administration to be under one body.

What was Ukraine called in 1941? ›

Reichskommissariat Ukraine

What if the Soviet Union won the Cold War? ›

The USSR would also come up with a more powerful political organization called the "Paris Pact" which includes some Communist nations in Asia (including China and Korea). With all this in place, the USSR would be *the* world's superpower with the USA now being isolated. But, American isolation wouldn't last for long.

What was it like to live during the Cold War? ›

Most citizens were happy and living successful lives. At the same time, however, some were paranoid and feared Soviet invasion or nuclear war. Nuclear preparedness became a way of life, and many schools and businesses practiced duck-and-cover drills in case of an event.

Why didn't war happen during the Cold War? ›

It's called the Cold War because no actual military engagement took place between the United States and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Instead, fighting took place in proxy wars conducted in "third-world" countries. The United States and USSR clashed over their economic and political philosophies.

Is Ukraine a poor country? ›

According to its results, by the end of 2020, 45% of the population of Ukraine fell into the poor category. The study claimed that this was 6.5 percentage points higher than in 2019. A pre-COVID-19 study forecast the poverty rate in 2020 to be 31.2%.

Does Ukraine have a strong economy? ›

In April 2020, the World Bank reported that economic growth was solid at 3.2 percent in 2019, led by a good agricultural harvest and sectors dependent on domestic consumption.
Economy of Ukraine.
GDP$198.32 billion (nominal, 2021.) $588 billion (PPP, 2021.)
GDP rank55th (nominal, 2021) 40th (PPP, 2021)
37 more rows

Why is Ukraine so important to the United States? ›

Ukraine is a key regional strategic partner that has undertaken significant efforts to modernize its military and increase its interoperability with NATO. It remains an urgent security assistance priority to provide Ukraine the equipment it needs to defend itself against Russia's war against Ukraine.


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