As the war enters its 632nd day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Friday, November 17, 2023.
- Russia stepped up attacks on the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, near the Russian-held regional stronghold of Donetsk. Mayor Vitaliy Barabash told national television the situation was “very hot” and that the Russians were using armoured vehicles, targeting the industrial zone and hitting positions in the town “around the clock” in their attempts to seize it. Avdiivka had a population of about 30,000 people before the war, and just over 1,400 remain.
- Two people were killed and at least 12 injured in Russian attacks on different areas of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region. Regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said one of the dead was a 75-year-old woman who was killed when Russian forces on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river shelled Kherson, the region’s biggest town.
- Ukrainian officials said Russia launched 18 drones and an unspecified number of missiles with the air force destroying 16 of the drones and one missile. One person was hurt by falling debris in the western Khmelnytskyi region. Food warehouses were also damaged.
- Search and rescue teams in the eastern Ukrainian town of Selydove found the bodies of a married couple as they cleared rubble from Wednesday’s Russian missile attack in which two people had already been confirmed dead. The Prosecutor’s General Office said the couple had moved from another town in the Donetsk region because of the war.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the use of a fleet of naval drones had helped Kyiv “seize the initiative” from Russia in the Black Sea, forcing the Russian navy to limit its activities.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry said its missile defences had brought down three Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea near Crimea, and two more over the Bryansk region.
- A Russian court convicted Ukraine-based Russian far-right activist Denis Kapustin of state treason and terrorism for organising armed incursions into Russia’s Bryansk region, the state-run TASS news agency reported.
Politics and diplomacy
- The Yale Humanitarian Research Lab said in a report that at least 2,442 Ukrainian children had been transferred from Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine to 13 facilities in Belarus, where they have to participate in political and cultural re-education and military training. The report accused Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko of direct involvement in the children’s removal. The Yale lab is a partner of The Conflict Observatory, which is funded by the United States State Department.
- A St Petersburg court jailed Russian artist Alexandra Skochilenko for seven years after finding her guilty of spreading false information about the Russian military. Skochilenko was arrested after she replaced five supermarket price tags with messages calling for an end to Moscow’s war in Ukraine in March 2022.
- Newly-appointed British Foreign Secretary David Cameron made a surprise trip to Kyiv where he promised Ukraine the United Kingdom’s “moral, diplomatic and military support” for “however long it takes”. Cameron also travelled to the Black Sea port city of Odesa.
- Switzerland joined an international call to establish a special tribunal to address Russia’s crime of “aggression” against Ukraine. “Switzerland is firmly convinced that the aggression against Ukraine must not go unpunished,” the foreign minister said in a statement. The tribunal has support from 38 countries, including Canada, France, Guatemala and Japan.
- Finland said it would close four of its eight border crossings with Russia on Saturday after a surge in the number of people seeking asylum. Helsinki believes Moscow is encouraging people to go to the Finnish border, where they can apply for asylum, in an effort to destabilise the country. There has been a sharp increase in the number of undocumented people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, crossing from Russia.
- The US imposed sanctions on three United Arab Emirates’ shipping firms and their vessels for transporting Russian oil sold above a $60 per barrel price cap agreed by the Group of Seven nations (G7) and Australia.
- The Kremlin said the Czech Republic’s decision to freeze Russian state-owned properties was illegal and warned it could retaliate against what it called a hostile step. The Czech government announced the freeze on Wednesday in an expansion of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
- Zelenskyy said deliveries of key artillery shells to Ukraine had dropped since the Israel-Hamas war began last month. “Our deliveries have decreased,” Zelenskyy told reporters, referring specifically to 155-millimetre shells that are widely used on the eastern and southern front lines in Ukraine, saying “they really slowed down” adding that “everyone is fighting for [stockpiles] themselves”.