Moscow celebrated the annexation of huge swathes of Eastern Ukraine Friday but President Vladimir Putin’s party was wrecked by a lightning counter-attack that may have trapped thousands of his men in a key city supposedly now part of Russia.
“This is the will of millions of people,” Putin said at a glitzy ceremony in front of high-ranking Russian diplomats still in the country. “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever.”
But as he gloated, Ukrainian sources claimed that the strategic city of Lyman, which has served as a Russian military hub in Donetsk, has been encircled and supply lines cut. “Lyman! The operation to encircle the Russian group is at the stage of completion,” said Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko on Friday. The claim could not be independently verified but, if confirmed, it would be one of the most serious Russian military losses of the war so far.
Pro-Kremlin forces have conceded that the Ukrainians have made major gains in the region and are close to cutting off the Russian staging post in northern Donetsk, which has been under Russian control since July. An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky tweeted that Russian forces would have to “ask for an exit from Lyman” if they want to surrender, adding, “Only if, of course, those in the Kremlin are concerned for their soldiers.”
Ukraine said earlier in the week they had made deep gains in the stronghold region and were close to taking back the territory—despite Putin’s claims that the region now belonged to an enlarged Russia.
Speaking after Putin’s formally announced that four enclaves partially controlled by Russia would be subsumed into the country against all international law, Zelensky vowed to win them back.
“The entire territory of our country will be liberated from this enemy—the enemy not only of Ukraine, but also of life itself, humanity, law and truth,” he said.
The latest military humiliation for Moscow will continue to raise speculation that Putin could decide to lash out in new, more brutal ways.
Russian state television political editor Maxim Yusin warned that Putin intended to push the button on a nuclear attack in the “coming days or weeks,” adding that people should “have fun because it would be a shame to live out the remaining time with pessimism.”
Military analysts say the recapture of Lyman could bolster morale and push the Ukrainian military to move to Luhansk province, which is the heart of the industrial region of the Donbas. Putin planned to annex Donbas after the bogus ballot referendum, which Western intelligence sources say was mostly held at gunpoint.
Ukraine’s military outlined a large-scale counter attack. “If Lyman falls, our forces can… cut the main supply corridor to Russian troops in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk [in Luhansk],” Ukraine’s military General Staff said on Telegram.
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the gains came at the same time as a monumental supply issue for the Russians. “Medical provision for Russian combat troops in Ukraine is probably growing worse,” the MoD said Friday in its weekly war assessment bulletin. “Some newly mobilized Russian reservists have been ordered to source their own combat first aid supplies, with the advice that female sanitary products are a cost-effective solution.”
Among the other issues appears to be theft, with some new soldiers using zip ties to secure tourniquet supplies, rather than the standard Velcro attachments, which make them easier to steal. “This is almost certain to hamper or render impossible the timely application of tourniquet care in the case of catastrophic bleeding on the battlefield,” the MoD statement claims. “Russian troops’ lack of confidence in sufficient medical provision is almost certainly contributing to a declining state of morale and a lack of willingness to undertake offensive operations in many units in Ukraine.”
The British military also suggests that more Russians have escaped across the border than actually fought in the war so far after a mandatory draft was instated. “The better off and well educated are over-represented among those attempting to leave Russia,” they said. “When combined with those reservists who are being mobilized, the domestic economic impact of reduced availability of labor and the acceleration of ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant.”
Meanwhile in Moscow, plans for an annexation ceremony continue for Friday.
Kremlin demanding security guarantees from Ukraine shows Russian aggression has failed – Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s president, Volodimir Zelenskyy has said Russia demanding security guarantees from Kyiv demonstrates the failure of Moscow’s invasion after eight months of fighting.
On Wednesday November 1, Russia resumed its participation in the UN-brokered grain deal that it had left days earlier, saying it had received written security guarantees from Ukraine on demilitarizing the maritime corridor.
In televised comments, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “having received the necessary guarantees from the Ukrainian side that the humanitarian route will not be used for military purposes, Russia resumes the implementation of the grain deal.”
In his nightly address on Wednesday, November 2, the wartime leader said;
“252 days ago, Russia demanded security guarantees from the United States of America. After eight months of Russia’s so-called ‘special operation,’ the Kremlin is demanding security guarantees from Ukraine. These are indeed striking changes.”
“It shows both the failure of Russian aggression and how strong we are when we remain united,” Zelensky added.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 with intentions to topple the Zelenskyy led regime but have received setbacks on the battlefield and are currently battling to hold on to the Donbas region, the industrialized area of Ukraine comprising of it’s south and Eastern cities.
Video: 100 Killed, 300 Injured In Two Car Bomb Attacks In Mogadishu
The number of people killed in twin car bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu, claimed by Al-Shabaab Islamists, has risen to 100, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday.
“So far, the number of people who died has reached 100 and 300 are wounded, and the number for both the dead and wounded continues to increase,” he said after visiting the blast location.
Two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart near the busy Zobe intersection, followed by gunfire in an attack targeting Somalia’s education ministry.
The afternoon explosions tore through walls, and shattered windows of nearby buildings, sending shrapnel flying and plumes of smoke and dust into the air.
The victims included women, children and the elderly, police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said.
“The ruthless terrorists killed mothers. Some of them died with their children trapped on their backs,” he said on Saturday, adding that the attackers had been stopped from killing more “innocent civilians and students.”
The attack took place at the same busy junction where a truck packed with explosives blew up on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290, the deadliest attack in the troubled country.
Mohamud described the incident as “historic”, saying “it is the same place, and the same innocent people involved.”
“This is not right. God willing, they will not be having the ability to do another Zobe incident,” he said, referring to the Islamist group Al-Shabaab.
Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying its fighters were targeting the ministry of education.
The bloody siege drew international condemnation from Somalia’s allies, including the United Nations, Turkey as well as the African Union force tasked with helping Somali forces take over primary responsibility for security by the end of 2024.
The UN mission in Somalia UNSOM vowed to stand “resolutely with all Somalis against terrorism.”
“These attacks underline the urgency and critical importance of the ongoing military offensive to further degrade Al-Shabaab,” the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which replaced the previous AMISOM peacekeeping force, said on Twitter late Saturday.
Al-Shabaab has been seeking to overthrow the fragile foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.
Its fighters were driven out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force but the group still controls swathes of the countryside and continues to wage deadly strikes on civilian and military targets.
In August, the group launched a 30-hour gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, killing 21 people and wounding 117.
Mohamud, who was elected in May, vowed after the August siege to wage “all-out war” on the Islamists.
In September, he urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by jihadists, saying the armed forces and tribal militia were ratcheting up offensives against them.
Al-Shabaab remains a potent force despite multinational efforts to degrade its leadership.
The group last week claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo that killed nine people and wounded 47 others.
Somalia has been mired in chaos since the fall of president Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991.
His ouster was followed by civil war and the ascendancy of Al-Shabaab.
As well as the insurgency, Somalia — like its neighbours in the Horn of Africa — is in the grip of the worst drought in more than 40 years. Four failed rainy seasons have wiped out livestock and crops.
The conflict-wracked nation is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change but is particularly ill-equipped to cope with the crisis as it battles the deadly Islamist insurgency.
120 Killed In Seoul Halloween Party Stampede, 100 Injured – Officials
More than 100 people have died in a crush among huge Halloween crowds in a popular nightlife area of South Korea’s capital, officials say.
The death toll jumped from 59 to 120 in the last hour, with local media reporting a further 100 injured.
Videos from Seoul’s Itaewon district show body bags on the streets, emergency workers performing CPR, and rescuers trying to pull people trapped beneath others.
It is not known what caused the crush.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol has called an emergency meeting.
Meanwhile Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department, told the AP news agency that the bodies of 13 dead had been sent to hospital while the other 46 remained on the streets.
Crowded area ‘felt unsafe’
There were reportedly 100,000 revellers in the area celebrating the first outdoor no-mask Halloween event since the pandemic.
Social media messages posted earlier in the evening show some people remarking that the Itaewon area was so crowded that it felt unsafe.
The BBC’s Hosu Lee, who visited the scene, said he saw “a lot of medial staff, a lot of ambulances, they were taking the bodies away one by one”.
Mr Lee said there were thousands among the crowds, and a number of bodies covered in blue sheets, alongside a “ton of police”.
“A lot of young people have gathered here tonight. A lot of people came to the party and club, wearing costumes and a lot of people I’ve seen distraught and sad and there are chaotic scenes,” said Mr Lee.
Photos and videos show a number of both emergency responders and civilians attending to what appear to be unconscious people on the streets.
In one video numerous responders appear to be performing CPR on people in a narrow road in the district.
In another, emergency responders try to pull out people from what appears to be a pile of people’s bodies following a crowd surge.
Another local journalist said that an emergency broadcast had been sent to every mobile phone in the Yongsan District urging citizens to return home as soon as possible due to “an emergency accident near Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon”.
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