• Directory of Taiwan

Ukraine updates: NATO chief warns war may be a 'long haul'

Ukrainian troops have made less progress than might have been hoped for against an entrenched enemy

Ukrainian troops have made less progress than might have been hoped for against an entrenched enemy

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Ukraine's allies must accept that Ukraine's war against Russia might take longer than had been hoped.

The conflict is concentrated in the south and east of the country, where Russia had prepared its defensive lines for months ahead of Kyiv's offensive this year.

Stoltenberg said Ukraine would still need support to remain a sovereign state and end the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a military command center in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.

Here's a look at the latest developments on Friday, November 10, in Russia's war in Ukraine:

Ukrainian air defenses repel Russian drones in several regions

Ukraine has reported a new wave of Russian drone attacks, with air defenses active around the capital Kyiv late on Friday evening, the local military administration announced on Telegram.

There was initially no information about possible casualties or damage. People were ordered to seek shelter in basements and other safe shelters.

Drone attacks were also reported from other parts of the country, including Kharkiv in the east and Kherson in the south.

Meanwhile, according to official Ukrainian reports, the Black Sea region of Odessa was bombarded with rockets on Friday evening. At least three people were injured.

IMF reached an agreement with Ukraine on $900 million disbursement

The International Monetary Fund said it had reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine on updated economic and financial policies under a four-year lending arrangement, paving the way for a $900 million (€840 million) disbursement once approved by the board.

The IMF said its executive board was expected to consider the agreement in coming weeks.

It said Ukraine met all quantitative performance criteria set for the end of June, and indicative targets for the end of September, as well as most of the structural benchmarks set under the IMF's Extended Fund Facility program.

Kremlin defends using convicts in Ukraine war

More than 20 months after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has defended its much-criticized practice of releasing convicted criminals from prison for military service.

"The convicts, including serious criminals, pay for their crime with blood on the battlefield," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Tens of thousands of Russians convicted of violent crimes including murder and rape have been recruited to fight in Ukraine.

Russian media outlets have reported several instances of released prisoners going on to commit serious offences, including murders, after having left the army.

Ukraine, Russia agree to return of teenager taken from Mariupol

A Ukrainian orphan from Mariupol, taken to Russia after it captured the port city last year, will be returned to Ukraine as part of a rare deal, the two sides announced on Friday.

Bohdan Yermokhin, 17, was taken last spring and — like an unknown number of other Ukrainian children — placed in a Russian foster family.

He would be reunited with a relative "in a third country" on his 18th birthday, with a view to then returning to Ukraine. The children's rights commissioners of Ukraine, Dmytro Lubinets, and of Russia, Maria Lvova-Belova, announced the decision.

Moscow said earlier this year that Yermokhin had tried to escape but had been stopped near the Belarus border.

According to lawyers representing his family in Ukraine, the timing of the deal is crucial as the boy had already received summonses for Russian military service on turning 18.

Qatar helped mediate the similar return of a group of Ukrainian youngsters, in a deal made public last month.

The issue of child abductions from Ukraine has been in particularly sharp focus in recent months as the same allegations underpin the international arrest warrant issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lvova-Belova has also been indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of the same case.

The Kremlin dismisses the warrants as null and void, primarily because Russia is not party to the ICC and doesn't recognize its jurisdiction. Lvova-Belova has also disputed the case's detail, arguing the children were relocated for their own safety rather than being abducted.

Finland, Estonia focus on Chinese-flagged ship in undersea cable probe

Investigators in Finland and Estonia looking into damage to a gas pipeline and nearby telecommunications cable in the Baltic Sea have said that a ship registered in China was the main focus of their investigations.

After damage to the two undersea cables on October 7, investigators had already highlighted their suspicion of the ship, reporting that they had found an anchor on the seabed nearby late last month.

The ship in question, now called NewNew Polar Bear, sails under a Hong Kong flag after being sold to a Chinese company, NewNew Shipping Line, earlier this year.

"At this stage we can state that the anchor lifted from the sea on 24 October 2023, may for some technical details be considered to belong to Newnew Polar Bear," Detective Superintendent Risto Lohi of the Finnish police said in a statement.

Lohi said that the "same type of paint has also been detected as in the damaged pipeline."

Police said they had contacted Chinese authorities and requested international legal assistance.

The damage to the pipelines evoked the apparent sabotage of three of the four Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last year, which cut off a major supply route to Europe from Russia at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and the West.

Investigators in that case have also said that sabotage appears probable. NATO countries and Russia have pointed the finger at each other but provided only limited and circumstantial evidence to back up their respective arguments. Germany, Denmark and Sweden have all said they do not know when their investigations will conclude.

Hungary's Orban says opposed to opening Ukraine EU accession process

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has spoken out against opening negotiations for Ukraine to join the EU, after the European Commission recommended that leaders vote in favor of the idea at their summit next month.

"Ukraine is in no way in a condition to negotiate over its desires to join," Orban said on public radio on Friday.

He said that the country, which sought EU membership in the aftermath of Russia's invasion, was "light years" away from EU membership.

The leaders of the 27 existing EU members would need to unanimously vote to start accession talks with Ukraine — an often lengthy process that can take years or even decades — in order for the process to start.

Orban retains particularly close ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin by the standards of EU leaders, with close trade and energy links among other connections. He held a personal meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a summit in Beijing a few weeks ago.

The Hungarian leader said his position was not connected to frozen EU funds earmarked for Hungary, in other words claiming his position was not a bartering position aiming to recover the funds.

"Hungary's position of rejecting the start of accession talks with Ukraine cannot become part of any deal," Orban said.

He said that the issue could not be connected to any "financial questons."

Ukraine says it damaged two Russian landing boats

Ukraine's military intelligence agency says Kyiv's forces damaged two small Russian landing boats in an overnight operation that used sea drones.

Russia seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and its Black Sea Fleet is based in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

"As a result of a night operation on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea, small amphibious ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet were hit by soldiers," the intelligence agency posted on the messaging app Telegram.

The vessels were crewed, Kyiv said, and they were loaded with armored vehicles, although the extent of the damage was not immediately clear.

Putin visits Rostov-on-Don military HQ

Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited a military command center in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don for an update on military operations.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimo accompanied him.

At the headquarters, Putin saw new weapons and technology and was briefed on the state of the war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave no further details of the visit, which came a day after Putin was in Kazakhstan to meet

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for talks about closer military cooperation.

It is apparently the fifth time the Russian president has met his top commanders in the southern military district, the last time being on October 20.

NATO chief tells Kviv's allies to prepare for long haul

The Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, says he is counting on the Ukrainian armed forces to make advances, but warned that it might take some time.

Stoltenberg said providing support to Kyiv was the only way to ensure that Ukraine remained a sovereign and democratic state — and convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that he could not win on the battlefield.

"We need to be prepared for [the] long haul. Wars are, by nature, unpredictable," Stoltenberg told the DPA news agency while visiting Berlin.

"What we do know is that what happens around a negotiating table is inextricably linked to the situation on the battlefield," he said.

The fighting in Ukraine is still concentrated around the east and south.

Progress has been limited since Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive earlier this year.

Stoltenberg said it had always been clear that it would not be easy for Ukraine to win back all of its territory.

"We knew that Russia has prepared defensive lines for months — with mines, with tank trenches, with a lot of defensive positions."

Nevertheless, the Ukrainians "have been able to make gains and to liberate more territory," he said.

Germany's Scholz doubles down on 2% military spending pledge

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he will ensure that his country meets the commitment of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense, even after a fund set aside especially becomes exhausted.

The 2% figure is a goal of the NATO military alliance, but Scholz only firmly committed to it after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which he described as a turning point.

The fund was specifically set up to modernize the Bundeswehr after the war in Ukraine raised questions about Germany's military readiness for any real combat scenario.

"The global political situation confirms how important and necessary this change of course is," said Scholz, pointing to the Kremlin's war on Ukraine as one reason for the commitment.

rc/sms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)