Russia probably firing missiles stripped of nuclear warheads, says UK

Russia’s stock of long-range missiles is so depleted that it is likely removing nuclear warheads from ageing nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed rockets at Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence says.

Its latest intelligence update says imagery has shown the wreckage of an AS-15 Kent cruise missile – apparently shot down – that was designed in the 1980s “exclusively as a nuclear delivery system”.

The ministry tweeted:

The warhead had probably been substituted for ballast. Although such an inert system will still produce some damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets.

Russia almost certainly hopes such missiles will function as decoys and divert Ukrainian air defences.

Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.

Key events

Volodymyr Zelenskiy went to the town of Vyshhorod, just north of Kyiv, on Friday to look at a four-storey building damaged by a Russian missile.

The Ukrainian president also visited one of the many emergency centres that have been set up to provide heat, water, electricity and mobile communications, Reuters reported.

Zelenskiy said in an earlier video statement:

Together we will be able to go through this difficult path for our country. We will overcome all challenges and we will definitely win.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy with soldiers and others while visiting the site of a residential building destroyed by a Russian attack in Vyshhorod, near Kyiv
Zelenskiy (centre) outside the residential building destroyed by a Russian attack in Vyshhorod, near Kyiv.
Photograph: Ukrainian presidential press service/Reuters

Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring power, aided by the reconnection of the country’s four nuclear plants, but millions of people were still in the dark on Friday after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.

Reuters reported President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Ukrainians to use energy sparingly.

If there is electricity, this doesn’t mean you can turn on several powerful electrical appliances at once.

Zelenskiy also said in his nightly video address that the 6 million people still without power was half as many as in the immediate aftermath of the Russian assault on Wednesday.

The attacks caused the worst damage so far in the conflict, leaving millions of people with no light, water or heat even as temperatures fell below zero.

The national power grid operator, Ukrenergo, said several hours earlier that 30% of electricity supplies were still out, and asked people to cut back on their energy use.

It said in a statement on Telegram:

Repairs crews are working around the clock.

People at a restaurant lit with candles in Lviv, Ukraine, amid a power outage
People at a restaurant lit with candles in Lviv, Ukraine, amid a power outage after Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.
Photograph: Mykola Tys/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Russia probably firing missiles stripped of nuclear warheads, says UK

Russia’s stock of long-range missiles is so depleted that it is likely removing nuclear warheads from ageing nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed rockets at Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence says.

Its latest intelligence update says imagery has shown the wreckage of an AS-15 Kent cruise missile – apparently shot down – that was designed in the 1980s “exclusively as a nuclear delivery system”.

The ministry tweeted:

The warhead had probably been substituted for ballast. Although such an inert system will still produce some damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets.

Russia almost certainly hopes such missiles will function as decoys and divert Ukrainian air defences.

Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.

Summary

Welcome back to the Guardian’s continuing live coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Here’s an overview of the latest developments as it passes 9am in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

  • More than 6m households in Ukraine are still affected by power cuts, two days after targeted Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. “As of this evening, blackouts continue in most regions [of Ukraine] and in Kyiv. In total, more than 6 million subscribers,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Friday. The number of affected households had reduced “by half” since Wednesday. He said about 600,000 people were experiencing power cuts in Kyiv, the capital, with the Odessa, Lviv, Vinnytsia and Dnipropetrovsk regions also among the worst affected as temperatures approach freezing.

  • Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed 15 civilians on Friday, officials said, as engineers across the country sought to restore heat, water and power to major cities. Thirty-five people had been injured, including a child, and several “private houses and high-rise buildings” damaged, city official Galyna Lugova said. The shelling of Kherson, a key eastern city recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, was the deadliest Russian bombardment in recent days. Yarovslav Yanushovich, head of the Kherson military administration, said Russian forces “opened fire on a residential area with multiple rocket launchers”.

A building in Kherson after Russian bombing
A building in Kherson after Russian shelling. Photograph: Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium Agency/Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock
  • The European Union will step up efforts to provide Ukraine with support to restore and maintain power and heating, the head of the European Commission said on Friday. Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement after a phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy that the EU executive arm was preparing the delivery to Ukraine large donations from EU countries and from the EC’s reserves.

  • Hungary’s President Katalin Novak is travelling to Kyiv to meet Volodymyr Zelenskiy, her Ukrainian counterpart, the website index.hu reported on Friday, adding that Novak would go by train via Poland. The Hungarian president’s office said it would neither deny nor confirm the information. Novak, a close ally of the nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban, would be the highest-ranking Hungarian politician to visit Zelenskiy since Russia’s invasion in February.

  • Ukraine’s leaders would have to be “far-sighted” to secure peace, Pope Francis said, suggesting Kyiv would have to make concessions to end the war with Russia. In an open letter released on Friday to mark the war’s nine-month anniversary, the pontiff praised the strength of Ukrainians in the face of the onslaught. “The world has recognised a bold and strong people, a people that suffers and prays, cries and struggles, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people.”

  • Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants have been reconnected to the national power grid after completely losing off-site power earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. The facilities were all disconnected from the grid on Wednesday for the first time in Ukrainian history after the latest wave of Russian air strikes on vital infrastructure. In a statement on Friday, the nuclear watchdog said Ukraine had informed it on Friday that its Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyy plants had been reconnected. Ukraine reconnected its vast Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday, Kyiv said earlier.

  • Armenia has asked the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to chair peace talks with Azerbaijan in a fresh challenge to Vladimir Putin’s increasingly loose grip on Russia’s regional allies in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The snub from a traditional ally to Putin comes immediately on the back of his disastrous summit with six former Soviet states.

  • EU diplomats were meeting on Friday night in an effort to reach a deal on a price level at which to cap Russian oil exports, according to a report by Bloomberg. European governments have failed so far to find an agreement ahead of a 5 December deadline. A G7 proposal for a cap of $65-$70 a barrel is seen as far too high by some, and too low by others.

  • Angela Merkel has insisted that her position as a lame duck in the last months of her time in office made it more or less impossible for her to influence the behaviour of Vladimir Putin. The former German chancellor appeared defensive and quietly defiant about her inability to change the course of the Russian president’s decision-making in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine, telling German news magazine Spiegel she felt acutely aware that her ability to negotiate with Putin was minimal because it was known she would not stand for a fifth term.

  • The head of the Russian mercenary outfit Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed a former US Marine general is working for the group. In response to a request for comment from Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Prigozhin said on Friday: “There are not very many Finnish citizens in the Wagner PMC, about 20 people … They are fighting in a British battalion [as part of Wagner PMC] which is commanded by a US citizen, a former general of the Marine Corps,” Prigozhin said, as quoted by the press service of his company Concord.

    With contributions from Reuters and Agence France-Presse

You May Also Like

Prince Harry who? King Charles brushes off all mention of the Duke of Sussex with a chuckle

King Charles brushed off a member of the public’s comments about Prince Harry…

Longmont man accused of sexual exploitation of a child

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A 37-year-old from Boulder County was arrested this…

Zelenskiy’s skilful UK ‘state visit’ is key move in keeping Ukraine on west’s mind | Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Few world leaders arrive for an effective state visit to the UK…

Father reunited with two Missouri children ‘kidnapped’ by mother details ordeal

A mother accused of kidnapping her two children for nearly a year…

Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 351 of the invasion | Russia

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has used a visit to Paris to urge Europe to…

Biden Forgets When Super Bowl Sunday is During State of the Union

President Joe Biden appeared to forget when Super Bowl Sunday occurs less…

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Gives GOP Response to SOTU

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) will deliver on Tuesday evening Republicans’…

Police extend search for Nicola Bulley towards the sea after finding no evidence she fell into river

Police have extended the search for Nicola Bulley towards the sea after…