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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 281 of the invasion

  • A security officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid was injured when he opened a letter bomb addressed to the ambassador on Wednesday. The security officer suffered light injuries, Spanish government official Mercedes Gonzalez told broadcaster Telemadrid.

  • In the wake of the incident, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered all Kyiv’s embassies abroad to “urgently” strengthen security, a ministry spokesperson said.

  • The European Commission president has proposed a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russia’s “crime of aggression” against Ukraine. Ursula von der Leyen also wants to use the proceeds of Russian funds that have been frozen under western sanctions to aid Ukraine.

  • Russian forces tried to advance in eastern Ukraine and trained tank, mortar and artillery fire on Kherson in the south, the Ukrainian military said, as western allies sought to buttress Ukraine and its neighbours against Moscow.

  • Ukraine needs the US made Patriot missile defence systems to protect its civilian infrastructure, under heavy attack by Russia, foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said, adding he would be working with the German government on this issue. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned Nato on Tuesday against providing Ukraine with Patriot systems, Reuters reported.

  • The UK has announced a fresh round of sanctions against 22 Russians, including those the Foreign Office says were involved in enlisting criminals to fight in Ukraine. James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, said on Wednesday his department would target a new set of officials, including Denis Manturov, the deputy prime minister, who is responsible for troop equipment supplies.

  • US president Joe Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, pledged on Wednesday to make the release of detained Americans a priority if she is confirmed to one of most important, and challenging, US diplomatic posts.

  • Ukraine’s state emergency service has said nine people have been killed in fires in the past 24 hours, after breaking safety rules in an attempt to heat their homes after Russian attacks on power facilities. “Only in the last day there were 131 fires in Ukraine, 106 of them in the residential sector. Nine people died, eight were injured,” the emergency service said.

  • Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, has arrived in Kyiv for a three-day visit to show solidarity with the people and churches of Ukraine. Welby will meet leaders of Ukraine’s churches, refugees and internally displaced people.

  • The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, discussed nuclear issues and Ukraine in a meeting this month with the CIA director, William Burns, the RIA news agency reported. Elizabeth Rood, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Moscow, previously told RIA that Burns “did not negotiate anything and he did not discuss a settlement of the conflict in Ukraine”.

  • Moscow has promoted the chief engineer of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Yuriy Chernichuk, to become its head, according to Russia’s nuclear agency Rosenergoatom. The position has been vacant since October, when Kyiv says the plant’s boss Ihor Murashov was abducted by Russian authorities.

  • Oleksandr Starukh, the head of Zaporizhzhia regional military administration, said on Telegram early on Wednesday morning that Russian strikes in the region overnight hit a gas distribution point, causing a fire that has since been extinguished. There were no injuries or casualties.

  • One person was killed and another wounded in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Wednesday, the regional governor said. Yaroslav Yanushevych wrote on the Telegram messaging app that several residential buildings and medical facilities had been damaged in the city, which was liberated this month after months of Russian occupation.

  • Ukraine claims to have killed another 500 Russian soldiers in the last 24 hours, bringing the total who have died in combat since 24 February to about 88,880. The general staff of the armed forces said it had taken out three more tanks and six armoured personnel carriers.

  • Ukrainian forces have downed three Russian reconnaissance drones in the last 24 hours, according to its armed forces. In an early morning bulletin from Ukraine, the spokesperson for the general staff of the armed forces, Alexander Štupun, said Ukraine had been subjected to a number of missile attacks from planes and artillery, including on Kivsharivka in Kharkiv and Sloviansk in Donetsk.

  • A teenager was killed in Russian shelling of a hospital in the northern Ukrainian region of Sumy, a presidential aide has said. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, said on the Telegram messaging app that Russian forces had pounded the region with artillery and mortar bombs over the past 24 hours.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he did not believe Russian president Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons. He made the comment while speaking by video link at the New York Times ‘DealBook’ summit in New York City. It comes as Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it was vital to avoid any kind of military confrontation between nuclear powers, even if it only involved conventional weapons, the TASS news agency reported.

  • Russia’s defence minister has said it will focus on nuclear arms infrastructure in 2023, including facilities to accommodate new missile systems. Sergei Shoigu told a meeting of the board of the department on Wednesday that it would be a priority for Russia next year. “When preparing the list of major construction facilities for 2023, special attention will be paid to construction in the interests of the strategic nuclear forces,” Shoigu was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.

  • The city council in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa has voted to remove and relocate a monument to Empress Catherine the Great of Russia that has been daubed with red paint at least twice. The statue to the city’s founder, which towers over a central square, has been vandalised repeatedly since the invasion of Ukraine that has prompted many Ukrainians to reject their country’s historical ties to Moscow, Reuters reported.

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