Ukraine latest news: Putin's forces 'preparing to blow up major dam and flood thousands'; Russia and US ministers 'hold phone call'; Ukraine deletes Boris Johnson tweet (2023)

Key points
  • First call between US and Russian defence heads in five months
  • Ukraine takes dig in odd Twitter exchange with Musk and Medvedev
  • Kremlin refuses to say if Putin has ordered troops to withdraw from Kherson|What is happening in Kherson?
  • Ukraine urges world leaders to stop Iran selling missiles to Russia
  • Russia preparing to blow-up major dam and cause 'historical disaster', Kyiv says| What do we know about the Kakhovka dam?
  • Podcast:'They are killing civilians because they can't do anything on the battlefield'
  • Updates from John Sparks in eastern Ukraine and Dominic Waghorn in Moscow

19:56:56

Goodnight - a round up of today's news

Here's the latest roundup of what's been happening in Ukraine today.

  • Kremlin refuses to say if Putin has ordered troops to withdraw from Kherson;
  • Ukraine says Russia is planning to blow-up a major dam and cause 'historical disaster';
  • US and Russian defence secretaries hold first call in five months;
  • UK among those calling for UN probe into Russia's use of Iranian drones;
  • Ukraine takes dig at Medvedev in odd Twitter exchange with Elon Musk;
  • Vladimir Putin fires sniper rifle at Russian boot camp.

Join us tomorrow for more updates.

19:52:01

Explainer: What do we know about Iranian drones in Ukraine?

There's been a lot of talk about the use of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine.

Retired Air-Vice Marshal, Sean Bell, says Russia is using them "largely because it is running out of its own weapons".

With increased Russian missile strikes in the last week, Sky News takes a look at where they are being used and what we know about them so far.

19:41:58

(Video) US, Russia Defence Ministers hold call on Ukraine, security issues | Latest News | WION

Iran advises citizens not to visit Ukraine a day after US makes drone accusations

Iran advised its citizens on Friday not to travel to Ukraine and urged Iranians already there to leave, semi-official news agencies reported.

This comes a day after the US accused Iran of helping Russia operate drones against Ukraine.

The Iranian foreign ministry advisory did not refer to the US allegation.

"Due to the military escalation in Ukraine, all Iranians are strongly advised to refrain from travelling to Ukraine. Also, Iranians living in Ukraine are advised to leave the country for their own safety," the ministry statement said.

Western allies are being urged to step in to prevent Iran from selling weaponry to Moscow.

Iran has denied supplying the Shahed-136 drones to Russia, and the Kremlin says its forces have not used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

The White House said on Thursday that Iranians had been on the ground in Crimea helping Russians target Ukraine with Iranian drones, and that US efforts to negotiate a return to the Iran nuclear deal have been set aside for the time being.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

The US is now concerned that Russia may seek to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Iran such as surface-to-surface missiles for use against Ukraine, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

19:15:01

'It doesn't stop' - the soldiers fighting Russia from beneath the trees

Ukrainian soldiers are operating beneath the trees in a village outside the city of Bakhmut, as Russian drones fly over.

Reporting from Ukraine, Sky correspondent John Sparks speaks to soldiers who are coming under attack 24 hours a day.

19:01:16

(Video) Ukraine War: the soldiers fighting Russia from beneath the trees

Ukraine takes dig at Medvedev over Twitter exchange with Elon Musk

Ukraine's official Twitter account has posted a meme in response to a rather odd Twitter exchange between Elon Musk and former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

Musk had asked Medvedev "how's it going in Bakhmut?".

Medvedev replied: "See you in Moscow on Victory Day!".

But the Ukrainian account took a dig at Medvedev posting a meme of Ukraine holding back the former president from 'victory day'.

The Tesla boss has made recent headlines over his pledge to keep the Starlink satellite network running in Ukraine.

Musk previously tweeted that SpaceX is losing "approximately $20 million a month from unpaid service and costs related to security measures for cyberwar defense".

18:30:01

At least half of Ukraine's thermal power capacity hit by strikes, minister says

Russian air attacks have hit at least half of Ukraine's thermal generation capacity, Ukraine's energy minister said on Friday.

German Galushchenko told Reuters that Ukraine may need electricity imports to get through the winter after attacks that had struck 30-40% of power infrastructure and traders were already holding negotiations with suppliers.

This comes after Moscow stepped up its strikes last week using missiles and loitering munitions to target Kyiv and major infrastructure.

Vladimir Putin has said the strikes were payback for what Russia says was a Ukrainian attack on Kerch Bridge, which links Russia to annexed Crimea.

When asked about the scale of damage, Mr Galushchenko said: "It's quite a lot of capacity. I can tell you that it's… at least half of thermal generation capacity, even more".

He added that this week, Russia "targeted a number of thermal general plants" and that Ukraine had lost 4000MW in generating capacity as a result of the strikes.

Five energy workers have been killed and 11 wounded in attacks since 10 October, Mr Galushchenko's ministry said.

(Video) Ukraine President Zelensky warns of 'large scale disaster', says Russia planning to blow up dam

Ukrainian officials say Russia is trying to destroy the country’s entire energy system.

Parts of Ukraine have also experienced blackouts and water shortages in recent days, amid intensified Russian strikes.

18:00:01

Ukrainian official shares video of Azovstal prisoner reunited with family

A video has emerged appearing to show a "tearful" reunion between an Azovstal prisoner and her daughters.

Emine Dzheppar, first deputy minister of foreign affairs for Ukraine, tweeted the video of Zoryana Repetska and claims she was in Russian captivity for five months.

"Tearful reunion with her daughters who were waiting for her mother so much," she said.

The video shows three girls screaming and running towards Ms Repetska holding flowers and hugging her.

On Monday, more than 100 Ukrainian women were released from Russian captivity as part of what is thought to be one of the biggest prisoner swaps in the war so far.

Of the Ukrainians, 12 were civilians and 37 had been captured by Russian forces after the fall of the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol in May. It is not clear whether Ms Repetska was among those released.

17:35:01

Pentagon declines to give details on first US-Russia defence call in five months

The Pentagon has declined to give specifics on the first call in five months between the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart.

On Friday the Pentagon said Mr Austin emphasised a need for lines of communication amid the war in Ukraine.

(Video) Russia-Ukraine War: Darkness engulfs Ukrainian cities, over a million household without power | WION

A Pentagon spokesperson told a televised news briefing that Mr Austin initiated the call with Sergei Shoigu and said Friday offered the best opportunity for the two sides to speak, withoutexplaining why that was the case.

She did not say whether anyadditional talks were scheduled between the two.

Earlier we reported that Russia's defence ministry confirmed that a call took place (see post at 14:30).

Mr Shoigu, who was appointed in 2012, is one of Putin's closest allies.

Mr Shoigu and his ministry have been criticised by Russian nationalists during the war for losing key battles for Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lyman and in the Kherson region.

17:15:11

Putin fires sniper rifle at Russian boot camp after setbacks

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been shown firing a sniper rifle while visiting a training facility for reservists.

Footage of the inspection of the military boot camp in the Russian region of Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, is thought to have been aimed at showing progress in rectifying problems with training and supplies.

Read more on this story below.

16:56:01

Russian civilians attend combat training session

These pictures show civilians in Russia attending a combat training session.

The session took place in Russia's Rostov region today and was organised by local authorities.

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