Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 638

As the war enters its 638th day, these are the main developments.

Rescue teams in the rubble of a hospital in Selydove that was hit by a Russian missile
Rescuers found a third body in the rubble of a hospital in Selydove, that was hit by a Russian missile on Tuesday [Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]

Here is the situation on Thursday, November 23, 2023.

Fighting

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said troops face “difficult” defensive operations on parts of the eastern front as the bitter winter cold sets in, but forces in the south continued to conduct offensive actions. “Difficult weather, difficult defence on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Donetsk and Avdiivka fronts. Offensive actions in the south,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram messenger. In its evening report, Ukraine’s General Staff said 22 Russian attacks had been beaten back in and around Avdiivka. In its account of the fighting, Russia’s Defence Ministry said its forces had struck Ukrainian troops and equipment near Bakhmut, another devastated town north of Avdiivka.
  • The Ukrainian general prosecutor’s office said one man died when Russian forces shelled Avdiivka, another in an attack on Chasiv Yar to the north, and a third in the southern city of Kherson. In the town of Selydove in the east, another body was pulled from the rubble lifting the death toll from Tuesday’s Russian missile strike to three.
  • The Ukrainian Air Force said it brought down 14 attack drones and an X-22 cruise missile fired from southern Russia, as authorities in the southern region of Odesa said they had destroyed a rare Iranian-built Mohajer-6 attack and reconnaissance drone. Russia bought 30 of the drones last year, they added.
  • Russia’s Defence Ministry said anti-aircraft units destroyed three Ukrainian drones over the Crimean peninsula, as well as four sea drones. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
  • Separately, the Defence Ministry said a group of Russian journalists came under a Ukrainian drone attack in the southern Zaporizhia region. A reporter from the Rossiya 24 state TV channel suffered minor injuries, the ministry added.

Politics and diplomacy

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to make dovish remarks on Ukraine, telling the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) that it was necessary to think about how to stop “the tragedy” of the war. Putin noted that some leaders had said in their speeches that they were shocked by Russia’s ongoing “aggression” in Ukraine. “Yes, of course, military actions are always a tragedy,” Putin told the virtual meeting. “And of course, we should think about how to stop this tragedy.” Putin launched Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. During his speech, the Russian president also described the conflict as a “war” rather than using the Kremlin’s preferred term of “special military operation”.
  • Following the G20 meeting, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters that he had urged Putin to withdraw all Russian troops from Ukraine “so that this war can finally end”. Scholz was speaking alongside Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who said that it was necessary to work towards peace but also to remember “that in Ukraine, there is an aggressor and a [party that was] attacked. It is simply enough for Russia to withdraw its troops from the invaded territory”.
  • Poland said it had charged 16 foreigners with spying for Russia, and allegedly preparing acts of sabotage and gathering information on deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine. The spy ring was dismantled in March.
  • A court in St Petersburg sentenced 17-year-old Yegor Balazeikin to six years in a juvenile penal colony for throwing Molotov cocktails at army recruitment offices in protest against Moscow’s assault on Ukraine. There were no casualties or significant damage in the attack because the device failed to ignite.
  • Russia said it had protested to Finland after a damaged Russian T-72B3 tank was put on display near the Finnish parliament. “Why are they doing this, for what? Why do Finns need this?” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, accusing Helsinki of “Russophobia”. The tank was put on display on Saturday in an initiative by two pro-Ukraine associations in Finland to remind people of the ongoing conflict.

Weapons

  • Zelenskyy and Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov welcomed the formation by Ukraine’s Western allies of a 20-nation “coalition” to boost the country’s air defences. The group will be led by Germany and France.
  • The Kremlin declined to comment on a suggestion by White House spokesman John Kirby that Iran may be considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles for use in Ukraine. “We are developing relations with Iran, including in the field of military-technical cooperation, but we do not comment on this information,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a regular news briefing.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies