Russia-Ukraine war live: Fire at Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer; Russia says it has seized village in Kharkiv region | Ukraine

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Fire breaks out at Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, on Sunday.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, on Sunday. Photograph: Leningrad Region Governor Alexander Drozdenko/Reuters

A fire broke out at a terminal of Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea on early Sunday, according to the governor of the Leningrad region, amid reports of drone sightings in the area, Reuters reports.

“No casualties as a result of a fire at Novatek’s terminal in the port of Ust-Luga. Personnel were evacuated,” Alexander Drozdenko said on the Telegram messaging app early on Sunday. “A high alert regime has been introduced in the Kingiseppsky district (which includes the port),” he said, noting that the blaze was “localised”.

Drozdenko did not say what caused the fire at the Novatek terminal at the port of Ust-Luga in the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland, about 170 km (110 miles) west of St Petersburg and 35km from the Estonian border.

Local official Yuri Zapalatski said the fire started just before 02:45 am local time, reports Agence France-Presse.

Russian news outlet Shot reported on Telegram that people in the area had heard a drone followed by several explosions. St Petersburg-based news outlet Fontanka said at least two drones were spotted in the sky flying towards St Petersburg before the reports of the fire at the terminal.

Baza, a Russian news outlet known for its security services contacts, posted on Telegram footage of big flames shooting into the sky over what seemed like an industrial complex.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

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Key events

Further information has come in on claims by Russia that it had captured the small village of Krakhmalnoye in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine.

“The village of Krakhmalnoye in the Kharkiv region was liberated,” the Russian defence ministry said in its daily bulletin on operations in Ukraine, citing “successful active operations”, reports AFP.

A spokesperson for Ukrainian land forces, Volodymyr Fitio, interviewed on Ukrainian television on Sunday, said the capture of the village had “no strategic importance”.

“These are five houses”, he said, adding that Ukrainian forces were still holding the frontline. According to AFP, about 45 people lived in the village before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Krakhmalnoye is about 30km (nearly 20 miles) kilometres south-east of the regional hub of Kupiansk – an important railway junction that had a prewar population of about 30,000 people – which Russian forces have been pushing to take over.

About 3,000 people were evacuated from the north-east Kharkiv region after authorities urged people to evacuate in recent days, citing worsening Russian attacks in the area.

Russia has lost more than 376,000 troops since start of the war, says Ukraine

Russia has lost approximately 376,030 troops in Ukraine since the beginning of the war the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces reported on Sunday. The number, which has not been independently verified, includes 760 casualties over the past day.

The figures, which cover the period from the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022 up to 21 January 2024, also include details such as the number of weapons, vehicles and defence systems Ukraine says Russia has lost. According to the release, this includes 6,181 tanks, 11,466 armored fighting vehicles, 11,862 vehicles and fuel tanks, 8,875 artillery systems and 968 multiple-launch rocket systems among others since the start of the war.

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Europe needs to ‘step up’ and provide more funding for Ukraine, says UK defence secretary

Europe needs to “step up” and provide more funding for Ukraine, the UK’s defence secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Shapps said:

Britain has, again, as with all of those other things, led the way with a £2.5bn package and a security agreement, a cooperation agreement with president Zelenskiy and Ukraine.

Now … not just the US, but Europe needs to step up and do their part to make sure that Ukraine can continue to defend herself.”

In less than 24 hours, the UK took action against the Houthis & uplifted our support to Ukraine to record levels.

In doing so we dashed the hopes of tyrants like Putin, who naively believed we could be distracted by multiple crises.

The UK can and will act wherever we need to. pic.twitter.com/UYMhE5kRSx

— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) January 20, 2024

Russian forces have taken control of Krokhmalne in Kharkiv region, says defence ministry

Russian forces have taken control of the village of Krokhmalne in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday, reports Reuters.

No other information has been reported on this story by the news agency. We will update with more detail as it comes in.

13 people killed in Donetsk by Ukranian shelling, say officials

Thirteen people were killed and 10 injured after Ukrainian forces shelled the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, the Russian-appointed head of the Donetsk region said on Sunday, reports Reuters.

According to Alexei Kulemzin, the city’s Russian-installed mayor, Ukrainian forces shelled a busy area where shops and a market are located. Associated Press report that the missile hit on Sunday morning in Tekstilshchik, a suburb of the city of Donetsk. The Russian-installed authorities say the missile was launched by Ukraine but there was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Pushilin said emergency services were working at the scene and that the relevant specialists were also trying to collect fragments of the weapons used in the attack.

Donetsk is one of four Ukrainian regions which Russia claimed to have annexed last year in a move condemned as illegal by most countries at the UN general assembly. It does not fully control any of the four regions.

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Russian private jet believed to have crashed in Afghanistan

A Russian private jet carrying six people is believed to have crashed in a remote area of rural Afghanistan, reports Associated Press.

The crash happened on Saturday in a mountainous area near Zebak district in Badakhshan province, according to regional spokesperson Zabihullah Amiri. He said a rescue team had been dispatched to the area.

Badakhshan police chief’s office also confirmed the report of the crash in a statement on Sunday. Russian civil aviation authorities said a Dassault Falcon 10 went missing with four crew members and two passengers. The plane had been operating as a charter ambulance flight.

It has not been confirmed as related to Ukraine war.

NATO’s Steadfast Defender exercises mark return to Cold War schemes, Russia says

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko has pushed back against Nato exercises announced several days ago.

The scale of Nato’s Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises mark an “irrevocable return” of the alliance to cold war schemes, Grushko told the state news agency RIA in remarks published on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Nato said on Thursday it was launching its largest exercise since the cold war involving about 90,000 troops, rehearsing how US troops could reinforce European allies in countries bordering Russia and on the alliance’s eastern flank if a conflict were to flare up with a “near-peer” adversary.

“These exercises are another element of the hybrid war unleashed by the west against Russia,” Grushko told RIA.

“An exercise of this scale … marks the final and irrevocable return of Nato to the cold war schemes, when the military planning process, resources and infrastructure are being prepared for confrontation with Russia.”

Nato did not mention Russia by name in its announcement. But its top strategic document identifies Russia as the most significant and direct threat to Nato members’ security.

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Fire breaks out at Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, on Sunday.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, on Sunday. Photograph: Leningrad Region Governor Alexander Drozdenko/Reuters

A fire broke out at a terminal of Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea on early Sunday, according to the governor of the Leningrad region, amid reports of drone sightings in the area, Reuters reports.

“No casualties as a result of a fire at Novatek’s terminal in the port of Ust-Luga. Personnel were evacuated,” Alexander Drozdenko said on the Telegram messaging app early on Sunday. “A high alert regime has been introduced in the Kingiseppsky district (which includes the port),” he said, noting that the blaze was “localised”.

Drozdenko did not say what caused the fire at the Novatek terminal at the port of Ust-Luga in the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland, about 170 km (110 miles) west of St Petersburg and 35km from the Estonian border.

Local official Yuri Zapalatski said the fire started just before 02:45 am local time, reports Agence France-Presse.

Russian news outlet Shot reported on Telegram that people in the area had heard a drone followed by several explosions. St Petersburg-based news outlet Fontanka said at least two drones were spotted in the sky flying towards St Petersburg before the reports of the fire at the terminal.

Baza, a Russian news outlet known for its security services contacts, posted on Telegram footage of big flames shooting into the sky over what seemed like an industrial complex.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin showed his intention to visit Pyongyang soon, according to Reuters. The news agency cited a report by North Korea’s state media KCNA on Sunday.

Last week, Putin met North Korean foreign minister Choe Son Hui on her visit to Russia and during the meeting thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his invitation to visit, KCNA said citing a foreign ministry official.

Russia thanked North Korea for its support and solidarity in the Ukraine war, and the two also expressed serious concerns over provocative acts by the US and its allies against Pyongyang’s sovereign rights while agreeing to cooperate in regional affairs, the report said.

The cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow will be in line with the UN Charter and other international laws, it added.

This post was amended on 21 January. A previous version referred to Choe Son Hui as a man rather than as a woman.

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Opening summary

Hello and welcome to our continuing live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Russian president Vladimir Putin showed his intention to visit Pyongyang soon, North Korea’s state media KCNA reported on Sunday.

Putin also thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his invitation to visit as he met North Korean foreign minister Choe Son Hui who visited Russia last week, KCNA said citing a foreign ministry official.

Meanwhile, a fire broke out at the terminal of Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea, the governor of the Leningrad region said early on Sunday.

In other developments:

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy fears that if Donald Trump returns to the White House next year he could make unilateral concessions to Russia that override Ukraine’s interests and branded the former US president’s claims he could stop the war in 24 hours as “very dangerous”.

  • Zelenskiy has also spoken of putting together “new bilateral agreements” that will “reanimate” the system of international law. He added that new military packages will be delivered “in the coming weeks and months”.

  • Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said on Saturday that Ukraine was under the absolute control of the US. The populist politician, who is against military aid to the war-torn country and opposes sanctions against Russia, also reiterated his opposition to Ukraine’s bid to join Nato. “Ukraine is not an independent and sovereign country,” Fico told public broadcaster RTVS. “Ukraine is under the total influence and control of the US.” Slovakia is a member of both Nato and the European Union. Despite Fico’s criticism, it was only Hungary that vetoed the €50bn of aid that other EU members had voted to give Kyiv last December.

  • The UK’s Ministry of Defence has reported that Ukraine maintains a presence on the left bank of the Dnipro River and has continued to repel Russian attacks despite “logistical concerns”.

  • Russian lawmakers have prepared a bill allowing for the confiscation of money and property from people who spread “deliberately false information” about the country’s armed forces, a senior member of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin said on Saturday, Reuters has reported.

  • Russia has lost 375,270 troops in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed on Saturday. The number, which has not been independently verified, includes 750 casualties over the past day.

  • Russian troops have reinstalled mines along the perimeter of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which it occupies in the occupied Zaporizhzhia oblast, the International Atomic Energy Agency has said.

  • The wife of a Russian soldier delivered an emotional appeal for his return from Ukraine on Saturday at the election headquarters of Putin – it was a defiant gesture by Maria Andreyeva in a country where open criticism of the war is banned.

  • Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency, has referenced a quote from Winston Churchill in an interview with Le Figaro. Discussing the war in Ukraine, he said: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

  • Romanian protesters have ended their blockade at the Porubne-Siret crossing along the Romanian-Ukrainian border the Kyiv Independent reported, citing the border guard service. Romanian farmers and truck drivers had been protesting against high business costs.

  • Russian forces launched seven Shahed-136/131 attack drones against Ukraine, four of which were shot down by Ukraine’s air defences, according to an update from the general staff.

  • Russia has accused Ukraine of being behind a drone strike that sparked a huge inferno at an oil depot in western Russia on Friday, the latest in a series of escalating cross-border attacks. Russian officials and news reports said four oil reservoirs with a total capacity of 6,000 cubic metres (1.6m gallons) were set on fire at the oil refinery after the drone reached Klintsy, a city of 70,000 people located about 60km (40 miles) from the Ukrainian border.





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