Fighting at 'reduced tempo' as Ukraine prepares for counter offensive

Fighting in Ukraine has slowed down and this trend is set to continue across the winter months, according to US intelligence agencies.

US director of intelligence Avril Haines said both sides would be trying to "refit, resupply and reconstitute" for a possible counter-offensive from Ukraine early next year, but that there was no sign of Ukrainian resistance fading.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California she said that fighting had diminished following Russia's withdrawal from parts of the Kherson region.

She said: "We're seeing a kind of reduced tempo already of the conflict... and we expect that's likely to be what we see in the coming months."

Referring to the challenges being faced by the Russian military, she added: "We see shortages of ammunition, for morale, supply issues, logistics, a whole series of concerns that they're facing."

04:56 PM

Today's main events

That’s all for today’s live blog. Here’s a round up of today’s major events:

  • More than half of Russians support peace talks, according to UK intelligence, with public support for the “special military operation” dwindling

  • Russia could ban the sale of oil to countries which sign up to the oil-price cap due to be enforced by the G7 and its allies. Volodymyr Zelensky has said the measure is too “weak”

  • Meanwhile, the OPEC+ alliance of oil-producing countries has no plans to change its target for reduced output. The group has previously been accused by the US of siding with Russia

  • More than 500 localities in Ukraine remain without power following the Russian attacks on the electricity grids

  • Russians are also facing power shortages this winter after sending crucial engineers and maintenance staff to fight in the war

  • Heavy shelling has continued in Kherson, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last month, as Ukrainians face an anxious wait to see if their loved ones can escape via a river-crossing amnesty

  • The boss of Italian energy giant Enel has warned that it could take years before energy prices return to their pre-war levels

04:52 PM

'No diplomatic solution with Putin's regime' says Nobel Peace Prize winner

The co-founder of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Russian rights organisation has said there is currently no diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine.

Irina Scherbakova, the co-founder of Mermorial, said: "I am absolutely convinced that there is not a diplomatic solution with Putin's regime, so long as it is still there."

She said she believed there would be a form of diplomatic resolution to the conflict, but that "this diplomacy will only happen when Ukraine believes it has won this war and can set its terms".

Scherbakova's organisation, Memorial, will be presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Saturday December 10.

Memorial was awarded the prize along with fellow campaigners the Centre for Civil Liberties in Ukraine and the Belarussian activist, Ales Bialiatski.

One of the foremost Russian civil liberties organisations, Memorial has worked for decades to shed light on terrors from the era of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, while also compiling information on ongoing political oppression in Russia.

04:43 PM

Video reveals devastation after heavy shelling in Bakhmut

03:37 PM

Ukrainians in Kherson face anxious wait for loved ones at river crossing

There has not been a single river crossing despite a three-day amnesty to allow civilians to escape from the Kherson region ahead of an expected increase in fighting.

The city has been under heavy shelling since it was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last month and the military temporarily lifted a ban on river crossings to allow civilians to flee on Saturday.

Reuters reports that, under the three day, amnesty not a single civilian has crossed the Dnipro River.

Around 20 Ukrainians braved the cold on Sunday to wait for any sign of their loved ones.

Reuters reports from the banks of the river:

Olena, 40, who would only give her first name and declined to give her surname to protect the identity of her family, said she was waiting for her 10-year-old daughter.

Olena had travelled to Germany for work just days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February and had been unable to see her daughter since.

"I haven't seen my daughter in nine months," said Olena anxiously.

"I wish I could go and pick them up," she said.

Civilians must use their own boats and show proof of Ukrainian citizenship to make use of the amnesty.

Russian forces have intensified artillery attacks on the Kherson region since withdrawing from the western bank of the Dnipro. Ukrainian military officials have warned that fighting could intensify in the region.

03:20 PM

Russians facing power shortages despite oil reserves

It isn't just Ukrainians facing power shortages this winter.

Despite living in one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, Russians are facing power shortages like much of the rest of Europe.

The country's war in Ukraine means many municipal workers, including engineers and repairmen, have enlisted into the military leaving a lack of people to repaid its antiquated, Soviet-era infrastructure.

Residents in remote parts of the country have been complaining about the issue on social media.

It comes amid the heavy bombardment of Ukraine's power grid, causing rolling blackouts which could last until March.

James Kilner has the full report here.

02:23 PM

In pictures: life continues in Ukrainian city of Chernihiv

Footballers in Chernihiv train in the damaged Olympic Stadium, which is exposed to conflict - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Footballers in Chernihiv train in the damaged Olympic Stadium, which is exposed to conflict - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Hot meals are distributed to civilians in Chernihiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Hot meals are distributed to civilians in Chernihiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
A damaged building in Chernihiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
A damaged building in Chernihiv - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

01:32 PM

Russia could ban oil supplies to countries accepting price cap

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday that the country is working on the possibility of banning oil supplies subject to the Western-imposed price cap.

"We are working on mechanisms to prohibit the use of a price cap instrument, regardless of what level is set, because such interference could further destabilise the market," Novak said.

Russia will not operate under a price cap, even if Moscow has to cut production, he added.

The cap, which was agreed on Friday, comes into force on Monday and would would mean that countries who sign up would be allowed to pay a maximum of $60 for a barrel of Russian seaborne crude oil.

Ukraine has described the measure as "weak".

12:48 PM

Large parts of Ukraine still without power

More than 500 localities in Ukraine are still without power following weeks of attacks on the electricity grid, a government official has said.

Deputy Interior Minister Yevgueny Yenin told Ukrainian television: "The enemy continues to attack the country's essential infrastructure. Currently, 507 localities in eight regions of our country are cut off from electricity supplies."

He said that the Kharkiv region is the worst hit with 112 villages isolated.

AFP reports that another 90 villages were cut off in the Donetsk and Kherson regions, he said, with others in the regions of Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Lugansk.

Millions have been left without heat or lighting amid daily power cuts while outside temperatures have begun to drop below zero degrees.

12:15 PM

Oil exporting nations agree to stick to targets amid row over price cap

The OPEC+ group of oil-exporting countries, including Russia, agreed to stick to oil output targets at a meeting on Sunday, sources have told Reuters.

The decision comes amid a row over a cap on the amount paid for Russian oil proposed by the G7 and coming into force on Monday.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had previously agreed to cut its output by about two million barrels per day, about 2 per cent of global demand, until the end of next year - a decision which angered the US and other western nations.

The group has been accused by Washington of siding with Russia despite the war.

The price cap will prevent the G7 nations and Australia from paying more than $60 per barrel of Russian seaborne crude oil.

11:59 AM

Ukrainian recruits preparing for plummeting temperatures

The UK's Ministry of Defence has shared pictures of Ukrainian soldiers training in the UK and being issued with kit before their return.

The Government department tweeted that as "temperature plummets" the recruits are being given additional cold-weather clothing.

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11:03 AM

More than half of Russians support peace talks - UK intelligence

The Ministry of Defence has cited data from Russia's Federal Protective Service to suggest that the public's appetite for the "special military operation" is waning.

According to its latest intelligence update, the internal data showed that 55 per cent of Russians favoured peace talks with Ukraine while only 25 per cent claimed to support the conflict.

This is a drastic fall from April when around 80 per cent of Russians said they were in support of the war.

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10:46 AM

Why a distracted Russia means an unstable future for Syria

The Telegraph's Middle East Correspondent Campbell MacDiarmid has written some analysis looking into what the Russian invasion of Ukraine means for Syria.

Vladimir Putin has ben a crucial source of support for Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad.

Campbell writes:

Russia, a crucial source of support to Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian president, since 2015, is now preoccupied with its disastrous Ukraine invasion.

Turkey, meanwhile, calculates that it has freer rein to pursue its ambitions in Syria, as Ankara is suddenly indispensable to the West again.

As a Nato member, Turkey is able to block, or accede to, Finland and Sweden joining the defence alliance. Equally, Turkish military support to Ukraine, in particular the game-changing Bayraktar TB2 drones, makes the United States less willing to challenge Ankara.

“They’re in a place to exploit that now,” said Elizabeth Tsurkov, a fellow at the New Lines Institute.

Read Campbell's analysis here.

10:31 AM

In pictures: life in Ukraine

A street musician plays drums during power outages in Kyiv - Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
A street musician plays drums during power outages in Kyiv - Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
A religious service is delivered inside the Transfiguration of Jesus Orthodox Cathedral during the Kyiv blackout - Efrem Lukatsky/AP
A religious service is delivered inside the Transfiguration of Jesus Orthodox Cathedral during the Kyiv blackout - Efrem Lukatsky/AP
Two women hold t-shirts and jumpers from sacks of donated clothing in a southern Ukrainian village - Finbarr O'Reilly/NYTNS / Redux / eyevine
Two women hold t-shirts and jumpers from sacks of donated clothing in a southern Ukrainian village - Finbarr O'Reilly/NYTNS / Redux / eyevine
Two police officers stand in front of a huge pile of Russian rockets that hit the city of Kharkiv - Libkos/AP
Two police officers stand in front of a huge pile of Russian rockets that hit the city of Kharkiv - Libkos/AP

10:23 AM

Cutting energy prices to pre-war levels 'will take years' - energy firm boss

It will take years to return household energy prices to the levels seen before the war in Ukraine, the chief executive of Enel, an Italian energy giant, has told the BBC.

Francesco Starace said price falls would depend on new sources of energy like renewables and heat pumps.

Enel supplies more than 70 million homes and businesses in over 30 countries - but it is planning to leave several of those to refocus its business towards renewables.

Mr Starace said the energy crisis showed "very clearly how dependence on one single source of energy is dangerous for Europe".

09:59 AM

Ukrainian president takes aim at allies over oil cap

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, has called a price cap established by his allies on Russian oil exports "weak".

The cap was approved on Friday and stops countries paying more than $60 (£48) for a barrel of Russian crude oil. It is due to come into force on Monday.

The policy was proposed in September by the G7 group of nations, which includes the UK, as a way to ramp up the financial pressure on Russia.

However, the BBC reports that Mr Zelensky last night said it would not be enough to cause serious damage to the Russian economy and called it a "weak position".

He added: "[It is] only a matter of time when [sic] stronger tools will have to be used."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Moscow has prepared for the cap's introduction but will not accept it.

Before the war, more than half of Russia's oil exports went to Europe, according to the International Energy Association.

09:49 AM

Kyiv sanctions clerics accused of helping Russia

Kyiv has frozen the assets of 10 clerics who are accused of helping Russia and will stop them from owning property in Ukraine, Reuters reported last night.

The religious leaders sanctioned belong to, or are closely linked to, a Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church which has been historically linked to Moscow. It is the latest in a series of steps the Ukrainian Government has taken against it.

Ukraine's security services said the 10 clerics had variously agreed to cooperate with occupation authorities, promoted pro-Russian narratives and justified Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

Most of the clerics live in Russian-controlled territories or are abroad.

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was planning "powerful steps" for December and January, and the US intelligence chief has predicted a post-winter counter-offensive.