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Report: Russian troops strained by elements

 A man walks past destroyed Russian military vehicles outside St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery on a foggy morning, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine October 21, 2023. [Reuters]

The British Defense Ministry said Sunday that Russian soldiers in Ukraine are suffering from an “age-old battle against the elements.”

The daily British intelligence report said that soldiers at a military affairs conference in Moscow complained earlier this month about being “wet from head to toe” for weeks on the front line and unable to light a fire for “a mug of tea” because that action risked alerting their positions to Ukrainian soldiers. The Russian soldiers also complained about eating monotonous food in pervasive mud.

The soldiers’ discomfort, according to the report, is likely due to Russia’s inability to enforce basic field administration among its troops.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked the U.S. for more funding to fight off Russian aggression and has invited former U.S. President Donald Trump to Kyiv to gauge the scale of the conflict for himself.

Zelenskyy said American soldiers could eventually be pulled into a greater European conflict with Russia if Washington did not increase support.

"If Russia kills all of us, they will attack NATO countries and you will send your sons and daughters [to fight]," Zelenskyy said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental spending bill last week providing $14.3 billion in aid to Israel, but adding nothing in aid for Ukraine, a large contrast to President Joe Biden’s $106 billion request. The bulk of that money would go to bolster Ukraine’s defenses, and the remainder would be split among Israel, the Indo-Pacific and U.S.-Mexico border enforcement.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, majority leader of the Democratic-controlled Senate, said he would not bring the House bill to a vote and Biden vowed to veto it if it reached his desk.

In the NBC interview, Zelenskyy invited former U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, to visit Ukraine and experience firsthand the fallout of the conflict initiated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin in February 2022.

Trump, who is seeking reelection in 2024 and is the leading candidate for his party's presidential nomination, has been sharply critical of U.S. support for Kyiv and has said he could end the war in 24 hours if he were reelected.

"If he can come here, I will need ... 24 minutes to explain to President Trump that he can't manage this war," Zelenskyy said. "He can’t bring peace because of Putin."

War front

Fierce fighting is ravaging east Ukraine’s Donetsk region, where entrenched Ukrainian soldiers told Reuters how Russian artillery has intensified significantly in recent weeks.

"I don’t know where these shells are coming from, but they are flying in," the crew’s commander said, gesturing in the direction of several recent craters near his position. The commander asked that his name not be used.

The intelligence service of South Korea said Wednesday that neighboring North Korea had supplied over a million shells to Russia since August. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied that arms are being transferred from the North for Russia's war against Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Russia's new strategic nuclear submarine, the Imperator Alexander III, has successfully tested a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, the Russian defense ministry said Sunday.

The missile, which the Federation of American Scientists said was designed to carry up to six nuclear warheads, was launched from an underwater position in the White Sea off Russia's northern coast and hit a target thousands of kilometers away on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, the defense ministry said.

"Firing a ballistic missile is the final element of state tests, after which a decision will be made to accept the cruiser into the navy," a ministry statement said.

The Imperator Alexander III is a Borei class submarine armed with 16 Bulava missiles. The 12-meter (40-foot) missile has a range of about 8,000 km (5,000 miles).

Russia aims to build 10 to 12 Borei-class submarines to be divided between the Northern and Pacific fleets, according to the current plans disclosed by Russian media.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv Saturday, where she met with Zelenskyy.

The European Union is expected to make an announcement this week about Ukraine's progress in fulfilling the necessary steps to begin EU membership negotiations, set for December.

"I must say you have made excellent progress. This is impressive to see," von der Leyen said after meeting with Zelenskyy. "We should never forget you are fighting an existential war and at the same time you are deeply reforming your country."

Zelenskyy said in his daily address Saturday, “Ukraine has passed an enormous path – from a point where many didn't believe in the possibility of our alignment with the European Union during a full-scale war to achieving the status of a candidate country at record speed and fulfilling the necessary prerequisites for opening negotiations.”

Ukraine applied to become a member of the EU days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February of last year.

During a news conference with von der Leyen, Zelenskyy denied that the war had reached a stalemate and said Ukraine needed more help from its allies to strengthen its air defenses as it enters the 21st month of war.

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