Friday evening news briefing: Ukrainian flags raised in Kherson

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Good evening. Celebrations are under way in Kherson after Ukrainian troops re-entered the city that has been under Russian control for months. We examine the consequences for Vladimir Putin. But, first, the headlines...

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Public finances row | Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has appeared to reject a claim by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng that the short-lived Truss administration cannot be blamed for the UK's economic difficulties. It highlights tensions within the Tory Party as Mr Hunt prepares to deliver an Autumn Statement next week that will set out tax rises and public spending cuts – with more than four million workers set to be dragged into the higher rate income tax bracket as a result of a stealth grab.

The big story: Ukrainian flag flies over Kherson again

After more than eight months of Russian occupation, Ukrainian flags are once again flying in Kherson today.

Following a remarkable change in fortunes, Volodymyr Zelensky's forces re-entered the city in the most important victory for Ukraine since its defence of Kyiv in March.

Locals in previously occupied areas were seen pulling down Russian propaganda posters this morning. By this afternoon, soldiers were being warmly welcomed by locals in jubilant scenes.

Despite announcing it had withdrawn all its troops and equipment from the city in the early hours of today, the Kremlin insisted Kherson was still part of Russia.

Senior foreign correspondent Roland Oliphant reports that the retreat marks the end of one of the most hard-fought battles of the war so far and a major defeat for Vladimir Putin, who just two months ago declared he was "annexing" Kherson, the only regional capital his forces had managed to capture.

Ahead of the G20 summit in Bali next week at which US president Joe Biden will discuss Russia's war with Xi Jinping, it has emerged that four US-made Avenger air defence systems are being sent to Ukraine to create a protective "net" around civilian areas.

A Ukrainian flag is raised above Kherson this afternoon
A Ukrainian flag is raised above Kherson this afternoon

With their injured husbands having reportedly been abandoned on the battlefield, a group of Russian women have set off to rescue them from Ukraine.

In a series of desperate videos, more than 20 women said they are seeking their spouses, whose unit was hit by Ukrainian attacks.

Four brigades of mostly mobilised men from Kursk, Voronezh and Belgorod came under heavy artillery fire outside Makiivka.

Russia correspondent Nataliya Vasilyeva reports on the wives' efforts to save those who "are being thrown into the fight like blind kittens into a fire".

Putin 'learning from mistakes'

Does Vladimir Putin's decision to withdraw from Kherson show that he has come to realise his limitations and is willing to let his generals run his war?

Perhaps he is learning from his mistakes earlier in the conflict when he ignored the Russian military's carefully structured way of waging war.

Dr Mark Galeotti argues that, in Putin ceding power to wiser heads, there is a risk here for the Ukrainians that Russia might begin to pose a more professional challenge to their forces.

Dirty bomb threat analysed

Two weeks ago, Putin claimed that the US was turning Ukraine into a "testing site for military biological experiments" and that "we know about [Ukraine's] plans to use a so-called 'dirty bomb' as a provocation".

Did he have genuine intelligence or was it another Kremlin trick? Might Russia itself be planning to detonate a dirty bomb in Ukraine? And, if so, why? Others suspect a "false-flag operation".

Regardless, nuclear experts around the world have been dusting off intelligence files on dirty bombs as a precaution, as Harriet Barber and Paul Nuki report.

Comment and analysis

World news: Diplomatic migrant spat deepens

Italy's prime minister Giorgia Meloni has attacked "aggressive" France for tearing up a refugee deal, as a diplomatic row deepened over who should deal with migrant boats. Paris accepted the Ocean Viking and the 234 migrants onboard – a first for a boatload from the Mediterranean – but, in retaliation, said it would suspend a previous plan to take in 3,500 refugees in Italy and urged other EU nations to do the same. Meanwhile, home affairs editor Charles Hymas reports that Albanian migrants are being smuggled into the UK with Christmas presents and festive goods to avoid the danger of winter Channel crossings by small boat.

Friday interview: 'Bawdy behaviour could be fun – but these are different times'

John Barrowman talks to Chris Harvey about the future of Doctor Who – and the jokes that simply would not land well with audiences today. Read the interview

John Barrowman
John Barrowman

Sport briefing: Red Roses, by those who know them

All of England's 33-strong squad played their part in the Red Roses' journey to tomorrow's World Cup Final against New Zealand. We asked those who have seen their journey close up what makes each of them tick and why they deserve success. With the World Cup kicking off in Qatar in nine days, Jamie Carragher argues Gareth Southgate should go after the contest – win or lose. And Thom Gibbs has a complete ranking of all the kits in the tournament. Disagree? Cast your votes here.

Editor's choice

  1. Young, Black and Right-Wing | 'Why are young black people told to vote Labour?'

  2. Leonora Knatchbull | The tragic saga that played out at the heart of British aristocracy

  3. Katie Morley Investigates | 'Hit and run bump will add 50pc to my insurance'

Business briefing: Gloomy predictions for Twitter

Elon Musk has told Twitter employees that "bankruptcy isn't out of the question", as the social media firm struggles with the economic downturn and an exodus of advertisers. The SpaceX founder made the suggestion on an all-staff call, reportedly saying that the company may have a "net negative cash flow of several billion dollars" next year. Gareth Corfield reports that it suggests recent changes, including 3,700 compulsory redundancies, have damaged Twitter's prospects. Meanwhile, Heathrow airport has ruled out a flight cap this Christmas.

Tonight starts now

Movie night | My Father's Dragon, an animated film released on Netflix today, is about a boy who rescues an enslaved dragon from a gloomy metropolis. It captivated chief film critic Robbie Collin, who says the "richly imaginative adaptation makes for gloriously giddy viewing". Read his four-star review. And one film to potentially avoid, at least according to Robbie, is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In his devastating one-star review, he describes this jewel in the franchise's crown as having "sadly begat one of its drabbest, stalest, most incoherent sequels".

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

'Free' Netflix clones | If there is one thing no one needs right now, it is more TV. But this is the age of super-abundance and the battle for every last minute of your attention rages. So, whether you like it or not, more TV is coming. Benji Wilson explains a new format on the horizon: Free, Ad-Supported Television (or FAST for short).

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