Russian air defences shoot down one of its most advanced fighter jets

Russian air defences have shot down one of the country’s most advanced jet fighters in a friendly-fire incident on Thursday night, according to reports.

The Russian Su-35 was downed over Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, which is the target of Ukraine’s counteroffensive to retake territory.

A Russian Telegram channel with close links to its air force appeared to confirm the incident on Friday when it paid tribute to the pilot, who did not survive.

Footage of the incident began circulating on social media on Friday, showing a fireball falling out of the sky.

Ukrainian channels claimed a Russian S-300 missile had brought down the aircraft, each of which is believed to cost more than £35 million.

Follow the latest updates below.

12:57 PM BSTRussian athletes to compete at Paris Paralympics

Russian athletes will be able to compete as full participants or neutral athletes at next year’s Paris Paralympics after the International Paralympic Committee members voted against a full ban of Russia on Friday.

The decision clears the way for Russians, whose athletes are currently banned from any Paralympic competition, to be in Paris and what the IPC will decide later on Friday is whether they will do so in full national team gear or if they will compete as neutrals, without national emblems, flags or anthem.

“At the IPC General Assembly in Bahrain, IPC members voted 74-65 (13 abstentions) against a motion to fully suspend NPC (National Paralympic Committee) Russia for breaches of its constitutional membership obligations,” the IPC said.

The decision comes two weeks before the International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai where it will also discuss Russia’s and Belarus’ participation at the Paris Olympics next year.

12:32 PM BSTCleverly: ‘We cannot accept this attack on Ukrainian sovereignty’

Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukraine.

Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are Ukraine.

Crimea is Ukraine.

Today, we have sanctioned those responsible for staging sham elections on Ukrainian soil.

We cannot accept this attack on Ukrainian sovereignty.

— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) September 29, 2023

12:02 PM BSTUK sanctions officials linked to elections in annexed regions of Ukraine

The British government on Friday imposed an asset freeze and travel bans on officials linked to elections in the annexed Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea.

The government said the sanctioned officials had been involved in recent “sham elections” in the regions.

“The UK will never recognise Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory – Crimea, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson are Ukraine,” foreign minister James Cleverly said in a statement.

Britain also added Russia’s emergencies minister Alexander Kurenkov and the secretary of the Russian Central Election Commission Natalya Budarina to the sanctions list.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the elections conducted this month in Russian-held parts of Ukraine marked a step towards their full integration into Russia.

11:46 AM BSTUS Abrams tanks welcomed by Ukrainian soldiers

US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine’s east, offering tank crews more firepower and protection in their fight against Russia.

Their arrival was previously confirmed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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US General Mark Milley said the tanks “will make a difference” in the war.

Crews serving in the eastern region of Donetsk added that the tanks would mark a big improvement of the Soviet-era tanks currently on the battlegrounds.

“The Abrams tank….has protection against ammunition detonation. (This tank) does not have it. If ammunition detonates, there is no chance to survive,” said tank driver Vitalii.

11:22 AM BSTWatch: Putin tasks former Wagner commander with overseeing volunteer fighters

Vladimir Putin has tasked a former commander of the Wagner group with overseeing volunteer fighter units in Ukraine, according to a Kremlin statement on Friday.

“At the last meeting we talked about you overseeing the formation of volunteer units that can carry out various tasks, first and foremost of course in the zone of the special military operation,” Putin was quoted as saying to Andrei Troshev, using Moscow’s name for its offensive in Ukraine.

“You yourself have been fighting in such a unit for more than a year,” Putin said. “You know what it is, how it is done, you know about the issues that need to be resolved in advance so that the combat work goes in the best and most successful way.”

11:01 AM BSTPictures: Ukrainian serviceman on the frontline

Here, a Ukrainian serviceman uploads shells in a tank, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the Donetsk region.

A Ukrainian serviceman – REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

10:44 AM BSTUkrainian ‘spy’ detained

Russian security forces have arrested a man accused of passing information to Ukraine on the Kerch Peninsula in eastern Crimea, according to local media.

The 45-year-old local allegedly established contact with the main intelligence directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

He carried out photo and video recordings of the movement of military equipment in the direction of the special military operation zone, transmitting the specified information through closed communication channels.

10:19 AM BSTZelensky in running for Nobel Peace Prize

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian dissident Alexei Navalny are in the running for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Although bookmakers have Mr Zelensky as a top candidate to join the list of laureates from Nelson Mandela to Martin Luther King, Nobel specialists believe that as a wartime leader, the Ukrainian president is unlikely to be named.

The imprisoned Mr Navalny’s chances are lessened because Russian dissidents won last year and the year before.

Last year’s prize, seen by many as a rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, went to jailed Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, Russian rights group Memorial and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.

09:55 AM BSTZelensky blessed by Ukraine’s chief rabbi

President Volodymyr Zelensky joined Ukraine’s chief rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman to Babyn Yar on Friday.

He made the trip to pay his respects on the anniversary of the massacre there in the Second World War.

The Rabbi said he had blessed Mr Zelensky:

“At Babyn Yar, starting on 29 September 1941, more than 35,000 Jews were killed in the first three days.

“The tragedy of the Holocaust leaves a deep mark in the hearts of many, the losses are irreversible and painful, and it is important to remember those who lost their lives in those dark days.

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“I blessed the President of Ukraine at this holy place and wished him, on the eve of the Sukkot holiday, strength of spirit, inspiration and God’s protection for the entire Ukrainian people.

“May the blessings of the Almighty accompany Ukraine on the way to peace and prosperity.”

Today, September 29, on the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Babyn Yar, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, together with the Righteous Among the Nations and the rabbis of the cities of Ukraine, honored the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in Babyn Yar.


— Chief Rabbi Of Ukraine Moshe Azman (@RabbiUkraine) September 29, 2023

09:35 AM BSTRussian bloggers admit to self-censorship

Numerous Russian bloggers have admitted to self-censoring their reporting, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The news speaks to a wider trend in how Russia discusses certain battle areas.

Self-censorship can make it harder for groups like the ISW to accurately talk about Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the ISW said.

One blogger was found to have changed a post to make it seem like Ukraine had not made much progress, hinting at the possibility that Russia could be controlling the information shared.

09:03 AM BST’Tough issues’ to clear before EU membership talks with Ukraine

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that “very difficult questions” would need to be answered before the European Union could even start membership talks with Ukraine.

EU countries are due to decide in December whether to allow Ukraine to begin accession negotiations, which would require the unanimous backing of all 27 members. Diplomats have said Hungary may be an obstacle.

“We cannot avoid the question – when during the autumn we will have negotiations in Brussels about the future of Ukraine – whether we can actually seriously consider membership for a country, to start accession talks with a country that is at war,” Orban told state radio.

“We don’t know how big the territory of this country is, as the war is still ongoing, we don’t know how big its population is as they are fleeing … to admit a country to the EU without knowing its parameters, this would be unprecedented.

“So I think we need to answer very long and difficult questions until we get to actually deciding about the start of accession talks,” he said.

08:34 AM BSTWagner fighters returning to Ukraine, says UK MoD

Hundreds of Wagner mercenaries are likely to have returned to Ukraine, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

The MoD said that it is thought the fighters have joined official Russian military forces and other private military companies.

Wagner veterans are gathering around Bakhmut, which was seized by Wagner after months of brutal fighting, according to reports.

The MoD said that “their experience is likely to be particularly in demand” in the area.

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Wagner withdrew from combat operations in Ukraine by early June 2023, prior to the abortive mutiny of 24 June 2023, the MoD added.

It also follows the death of Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin and other senior leaders in a plane crash on 23 August 2023.

08:12 AM BSTAutumn conscripts will not fight in Ukraine

A Russian official in the country’s armed forces has said that those conscripted during the autumn campaign will not be sent to fight in Ukraine.

Vladimir Tsimlyansky, deputy chief of the main organisational and mobilisation directorate of the general staff of the Russian Federation armed forces, said the conscriptions began on Oct 1.

He said:

“Servicemen undergoing conscription military service will not be sent to the points of deployment of units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in new regions of the Russian Federation: Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, or to participate there in carrying out the tasks of a special military operation.”

07:49 AM BSTRussian shelling kills five in southern, eastern Ukraine

Russian shelling on Thursday killed three women in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson and two people in eastern Donetsk region, local officials said.

Prosecutors said the three women were killed on a street in Kherson, a town abandoned by Russian troops late last year along with other settlements on the west bank of the Dnipro River. Russian forces routinely shell Kherson and nearby areas from positions on the river’s east bank.

Prosecutors in Donetsk region in the east said two people died when Russian forces shelled Krasnohorivka, west of the Russian-held city of Donetsk and near the long-contested town of Maryinka.

In Kostyantynivka, west of the town of Bakhmut, in Russian hands since May, three people were injured when Russian forces launched two air strikes within an hour, prosecutors said.

Reuters could not independently verify any of the accounts of military activity.

07:33 AM BSTRussia says 11 Ukrainian drones destroyed overnight

Russia claimed on Friday that it had destroyed 11 Ukrainian drones overnight, though one UAV dropped explosives on a substation, cutting the local power supply, a regional governor said.

“Eleven Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed by air defence systems on duty, one of them over the territory of Kaluga region and 10 over Kursk region,” Russia’s defence ministry said on the messaging platform Telegram.

Kursk governor Roman Starovoyt said that the region bordering eastern Ukraine was “massively attacked” by Ukrainian UAVs.

In Belaya village, less than 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the border, “a Ukrainian drone dropped two explosive devices on a substation”, he said on Telegram.

“One of the transformers caught fire. Five settlements and a hospital were cut off from power supply. Fire crews rushed to the scene,” he added.

“Power will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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