Ukraine latest amid reports of “significant losses” for Vladimir Putin’s forces and a Russian city left without electricity following a Ukrainian attack; Belarus launches military drills near the Polish border.
HIMARS rockets donated to Ukraine have struck over 400 targets and are having a “devastating effect”, the most senior US general has said.
HIMARS – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System for short – are capable of firing six rockets with high precision at a range of up to 300km (186 miles).
Speaking at Ramstein air base in Germany, General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems.
“For example, the Ukrainians have struck over 400 targets with the HIMARS and they’ve had devastating effect.”
Heavy fighting has been going on in southern Ukraine near Kherson and also recently in the northeast near Kharkiv as defence forces mounted a surprise offensive.
The ferocity of the battle in recent days appears to be reflected in the latest claims by Ukraine’s military about Russian losses.
Since yesterday’s figures were released, the Ukrainian defence ministry says a further 640 Russian soldiers have been killed.
This brings the total number of Kremlin troops killed to 51,250, according to the department.
Sky News has been unable to verify these claims of Russian losses.
Earlier we reported that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are to restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the EU across their borders (see 12.20pm post).
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said her government will stop tourism from Russia to the EU over her nation’s border in response to “serious public security threats”.
“This is not an outright ban, exceptions will remain,” she said.
Now the Kremlin’s foreign ministry has responded, vowing that Russia will not “close itself up” in response to the restrictions.
But it also promised retaliatory measures.
Jailed Kremlin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny says prison authorities have told him that all his communications with his lawyers will now be subject to a “three-day check”.
He says he was told: “It has been established that you continue your criminal activity, you are committing crimes directly from the prison facilities.
“And you communicate with your accomplices through lawyers. Therefore, we abolish the attorney-client privilege with regard to you.”
When he asked what crimes he had committed, Mr Navalny said they told him this was “secret information” that he could not be told.
Mr Navalny has been outspoken against President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.
He was sentenced in March to nine years in prison after he was found guilty of large-scale fraud and contempt of court.
Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, previously described the charges as dubious.
More on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has been in Ukraine today on an unannounced visit.
He held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior officials.
In the meetings, Mr Blinken said the Biden administration had notified Congress of its intent to provide $2.2bn in long-term military financing to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbours (see 11.55am post).
Countries receiving the aid will include NATO members and regional security partners that are “potentially at risk of future Russian aggression”.
Mr Blinken said: “President Biden has been clear we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.
“I reiterated this message to President Zelenskyy and his team today in Kyiv, which remains – and will remain – the capital of a sovereign, independent Ukraine.”
More from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy now, who spoke this afternoon after reports of significant gains in the Kharkiv region.
He said on Telegram: “Ukraine does not for a single moment doubt itself, its future, its victory.
“We still have a long way to go to liberate our entire territory.
“But there is no doubt that it will happen.”
His remarks come as one of his generals said defence forces have advanced 50km into Russian-held territory near Kharkiv and liberated more than 20 villages (see 1.28pm post).
The body of a British aid worker who was captured by Russian-backed separatists has been returned with “signs of possible unspeakable torture”, Ukraine’s foreign minister has said.
Paul Urey died in July after he was charged with committing “mercenary activities” in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.
The 45-year-old from Warrington, Cheshire, was seized at a checkpoint outside the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia in April, alongside a fellow British volunteer, Dylan Healy.
Ukraine has advanced 50km into Russian-held territory near Kharkiv and liberated more than 20 villages, one of its generals has said.
With much of the attention on Ukraine’s much-vaunted counteroffensive in the south towards Kherson, it may have surprised some to awake today to reports that defence forces had gained ground in the east.
Ukrainian troops in the northeastern region of Kharkiv have retaken portions of Russian-held territory after “likely exploiting Russian force reallocation”, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said.
Their military used the situation “to conduct an opportunistic yet highly effective counteroffensive” in the province, the think tank added.
A Ukrainian general also said Ukraine had recaptured more than 700 square kilometres of its territory in the Kharkiv region and in the south.
They said the country’s military had advanced 50km into Russian lines in the region and recaptured more than 20 villages.
The Ukrainian military has shared video which appears to show its soldiers removing the flag of the Soviet Union from a pole in a region known to have been under Russian control.
It comes amid reports of Ukrainian successes in the eastern Kharkiv region, as well as gains in the south near the key city of Kherson.
Discussion continues about the new restrictions announced for Russians entering the EU through Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland (see 12.20 post).
Urmas Reinsalu, the Estonian foreign minister, said it was an “important security question” and something of “moral importance”.
Be the first to get Breaking News
Install the Sky News app for free