As the war enters its 635th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Monday, November 20, 2023.
- The Ukrainian army said it has pushed Russian forces back as far as 8km (5 miles) from the banks of Dnipro river in the southern Kherson region. Ukrainian and Russian forces have been entrenched on opposite sides of the Dnipro for more than a year after Russia withdrew its troops from the western bank last November. Ukraine said last week it had made a breakthrough. “Preliminary figures vary from 3 to 8 kilometres (2 to 5 miles), depending on the specifics, geography and landscape of the left bank,” army spokeswoman Natalia Gumenyuk told Ukrainian television when asked how much progress Kyiv had made. She added that there remained a “lot of work to do”.
- The United Kingdom’s defence ministry said that there were “few immediate prospects of major changes in the front line,” saying neither Russia nor Ukraine had made meaningful progress on the battlefield. In a statement, it said that intense fighting was concentrated near Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region, Avdiivka in the Dontesk region, and on the left bank of the Dnipro River.
- Russia launched several waves of drone attacks on Kyiv for the second successive night, triggering air raid warnings. Ukraine’s Air Force said its air defence systems destroyed 15 of the 20 Shahed kamikaze drones targeting the Kyiv, Poltava and Cherkasy regions. There were no initial reports of “critical damage” or casualties. On Saturday, Russian drone attacks caused power outages in more than 400 towns and villages in the south, southeast and north of Ukraine.
- Five people, including a three-year-old girl who was outside with her grandmother, were injured in Russian artillery shelling of Kherson, according to Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. One person was killed by shelling in the northeastern Sumy region.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded swift changes in the operations of Ukraine’s military as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov. Zelenskyy said “priorities were set” noting there was “little time left to wait for results”. Zelenskyy said he had also replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces, saying the armed forces needed a “fundamentally new level of medical support”.
Politics and diplomacy
- Bohdan Yermokhin, an orphaned Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Russia from the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol during the war and prevented from leaving in March, has returned to Ukraine. Yermokhin, now 18, told the Reuters news agency his return was a “very pleasant gift”. Ukraine estimates about 20,000 children have been taken illegally by Russia. Zelenskyy welcomed Yermokhin’s return and thanked Ukrainian officials, international organisations, and particularly UNICEF, and authorities in Qatar for help in mediation.
- Zelenskyy imposed sanctions on 37 Russian groups and 108 people including two former Ukrainian top officials now in Russia for their alleged involvement “in the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children from the occupied territory” and individuals who “in various ways help Russian terror against Ukraine”.
- Pro-war Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who is in custody awaiting trial for inciting extremism, said he wanted to run for president. Also known by the alias Igor Strelkov, the former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer has repeatedly said Russia will face a revolution and even a civil war unless President Vladimir Putin’s military top brass fight the war in Ukraine more effectively. Girkin helped Russia to annex Crimea in 2014 and then to organise pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine.
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