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Embezzlement investigation in Ukraine, Russia tries to retake southern village, Odesa museum hit

A photograph shows the Motherland monument silhouetted against a cloudy sky at sunset in Kyiv on October 28, 2023.
A photograph shows the Motherland monument silhouetted against a cloudy sky at sunset in Kyiv on October 28, 2023. Copyright GENYA SAVILOV/AFP or licensors
Copyright GENYA SAVILOV/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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The latest developments from the Ukraine war.

Ukrainian officers investigated after deadly Russian strike

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Ukraine on Monday launched a criminal investigation into military officers who organised an award ceremony for troops that was hit by a Russian missile strike. 

Nineteen soldiers were killed in the blast, one of the deadliest single attacks reported by Ukrainian forces since the war began.

Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation said will hold military officials accountable for the Rocket Forces and Artillery Day event held on Friday near the front line in Zaporizhzhia, where Russian reconnaissance drones could easily spot the crowded gathering.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lamented that the deaths of the men in the 128th Separate Mountain-Assault Brigade of Zakarpattia was a “tragedy that could’ve been avoided.” 

The carnage sparked a wave of criticism among Ukrainians on social media for planning the event so close to the battlefield. 

Ukraine investigates two defense officials for embezzlement

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office announced on Monday that it had officially notified two defence officials that they were being investigated for embezzling several million euros. 

The latest corruption case surrounds the purchase of poor-quality bulletproof vests, amid the Russian invasion grinding into its second winter. 

The two men, who are in custody, face up to 12 years in prison. They are unnamed. 

They are alleged to have ordered shoddy protective equipment from abroad, pre-paying for it in full and without respecting "the planned quality control procedure", the State Investigation Bureau, an anti-corruption body, detailed in early October.

“As a result, the Ukrainian armed forces received poor quality bulletproof vests which cannot be used in combat without endangering lives,” it added, estimating the fraud was worth more than six million euros.

According to the Bureau of Investigation, this case is a new episode in a global embezzlement scandal worth more than 36 million euros, relating to contracts for supplying ammunition to the Ukrainian army that was insufficient.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has been rocked by several corruption cases since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, even pushing Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov to resign last September.

The fight against corruption, an endemic evil in Ukraine, is one of the criteria set by Brussels for joining the EU, which has given Kyiv tens of billions of euros in aid since the start of the war.

Russia hits historical museum in Odesa, says Kyiv

Overnight Russian strikes on Odesa between Sunday and Monday have injured at least eight and damaged an art museum, according to Ukrainian officials.

Images released by authorities in the southern Ukrainian city showed debris and shards of glass in the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts, which had some shattered windows.

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Walls are cracked and some paintings appear to have been thrown to the ground by the force of the explosion.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Djeppar said she was “deeply outraged” by the strike.

“The deliberate destruction of cultural sites is a crime against Ukrainian heritage,” she denounced, demanding “a strong international response and immediate action from UNESCO.”

The Odessa Museum of Fine Arts, an elegant pink building, was opened in the late 19th century, according to its website.

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Most of the works on display had been "evacuated", said Oleg Kiper, an official with the regional authorities.

Russians try to recapture southern village

The Ukrainian army said on Monday that Russian forces were trying to retake Robotyne, a village in the south whose liberation at the end of August had given Ukraine hope of a breakthrough in its counteroffensive, a hope that has not come to fruition.

In the south, "the enemy tried to regain its positions near Robotyne, without success", said Andri Kovaliov, spokesperson for the Ukrainian army.

In the east of the country, Moscow's troops are also "continuing" to attack Avdiivka, an industrial town they have been trying to encircle for several weeks, he added.

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Since June, the Ukrainian army has been conducting a counteroffensive in the east and south, without succeeding in breaking through the Russian lines. In recent weeks, it has been the Russians who have gone on the attack, leading assaults in several areas.

There have been no significant developments on the front since around a year ago, when the Ukrainian army recaptured the town of Kherson.

The lack of movement is such that the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valery Zaloujny, recently declared that the war had "reached a stalemate".

These were unusually frank statements, but they were firmly rejected by both the Kremlin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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Russia tests intercontinental ballistic missile

The Russian military on Sunday reported a successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to carry nuclear warheads, which was fired from a submarine. 

The report comes as tensions are soaring between Russia and the West over the fighting in Ukraine. 

Worsening relations, President Vladimir Putin last week signed a bill revoking Russia’s ratification of a global nuclear test ban in a move that Moscow said was needed to establish parity with the United States.

Emperor Alexander III nuclear submarine of the Russia navy test-fires a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile from the White Sea, 5 November 2023
Emperor Alexander III nuclear submarine of the Russia navy test-fires a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile from the White Sea, 5 November 2023AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Imperator Alexander III strategic missile cruiser fired the Bulava missile from an underwater position in Russia's northern White Sea. They said it hit a target in the far-eastern region of Kamchatka. 

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It wasn't immediately clear from the statement when the test launch occurred.

The Imperator Alexander III is one of the new Borei-class nuclear submarines that carry 16 Bulava missiles each. They are intended to serve as the core naval component of the nation’s nuclear forces in the coming decades. 

According to the Defense Ministry, launching a ballistic missile is the final test for the vessel, after which a decision should be made on its induction into the fleet.

The Russian navy currently has three Borei-class submarines in service, one more is finishing tests and three others are under construction, the Defense Ministry said.

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Ukrainian missile strike on a shipyard in Crimea damages a Russian ship

The Russian military said a Ukrainian missile strike on a shipyard in annexed Crimea had damaged a Russian ship.

The Russian Defense Ministry said late Saturday that Ukrainian forces fired 15 cruise missiles at the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch, a city in the east of the Crimean Peninsula. 

Air defences shot down 13 missiles but others hit the shipyard and damaged a vessel, a statement from the ministry said.

The ministry didn't give details about the ship or the extent of the damage.

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The Ukrainian air force commander, Mykola Oleshchuk, said in a statement that at the time of the attack carried out by Ukrainian tactical aviation, “one of the most modern ships of Russia's Black Sea fleet was at the shipyard - carrier of the Kalibr cruise missiles.” 

He didn't say directly, however, that this particular ship was damaged by the strike.

The Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has been a frequent target since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine 20 months ago. Crimea has served as the key hub supporting the invasion.

Ukraine has increasingly targeted naval facilities in Crimea in recent months.

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