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Vladimir Putin asserts that both countries are “sharing a sorrow” and that Russia is not to blame for the conflict in Ukraine. The Russian president stated that he still views Ukraine as a “brotherly nation” in a televised talk with senior military leaders.

He asserted that rather than being the outcome of Russian policy, the conflict was “the product of the policy of third countries.” Outside of Russia, the theory—which contends that Western expansion is the reason—has consistently been refuted. President Putin asserted that the West had “brainwashed,” beginning with Ukraine, the post-Soviet republics.

He said: “For years, we tried to build good-neighbourly relations with Ukraine, offering loans and cheap energy, but it did not work.

“There’s nothing to accuse us of. We’ve always seen Ukrainians as a brotherly people and I still think so.

“What’s happening now is a tragedy, but it’s not our fault.”

President Putin’s persistent worries appear to be related to Nato’s expansion since the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991.

Although the Kremlin has long contended that NATO’s admission of former Soviet allies as members endangers the alliance’s security, Nato’s primary purpose was to thwart Russian expansion following World War Two.

Following the fall of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 as a result of months of public unrest, tensions between the Kremlin and the West grew.

Military personnel vowed to continue the alleged “special military operation” through 2023 during the speech. The amount of money Russia was willing to spend was unbounded, President Putin added.

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s minister of defence, suggested raising the minimum age requirement for conscription.

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In an effort to raise morale, Russia claims it will send musicians to the front lines of its conflict in Ukraine. This week, the defence ministry made an announcement about the creation of the “front-line creative brigade,” saying it would include musicians and singers.

In a Sunday intelligence update, the UK’s ministry of defence emphasised the formation of the brigade. According to the government, Sergei Shoigu, the Russian minister of defence, visited Ukrainian frontline troops. The Russian military’s advanced positions in the area of the special military operation were verified by Mr. Shoigu, according to a statement sent to Telegram by the defence ministry.

Although it was noted that he “spoke with troops on the frontline” and at a “command post,” the BBC is unable to confirm the timing of the visit or whether Mr. Shoigu actually travelled to Ukraine. Low morale is reportedly still a “major weakness throughout most of the Russian army,” according to UK defence experts.

The UK claimed the new creative brigade is in keeping with the historical use of “military music and organised entertainment” to promote morale. This comes after a recent campaign inviting the public to donate musical instruments to troops. However, they questioned if the new brigade would actually divert troops from their main concerns, which were “extremely high mortality rates, weak leadership, pay problems, shortage of equipment and ammunition, and lack of clarity about the war’s objectives”.

Heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces has been going on in the area for months as Russia tries to hold onto its territory after suffering a series of setbacks in eastern Ukraine early this year.

Russian attacks on the town, according to earlier claims made by Western intelligence sources, are being led by the Wagner Group, a private military contractor. In order to launch operations on the Ukrainian-held cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, Moscow intends to utilise the town as a staging area.

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The US claims that there is now a full-fledged defence alliance between Russia and Iran. According to John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, Russia is providing an unheard-of amount of military assistance.

The US is aware of rumours that the two nations are thinking about producing lethal drones together, he continues. It comes despite initial denials from Tehran after Ukraine charged Iran with providing Russia with “kamikaze” drones used in fatal assaults on October 17.

Later, the Middle Eastern nation acknowledged providing Moscow a small number of drones “several months” prior to the conflict. Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, responded by claiming that this was untrue and that many more Iranian drones were in use.

In the early hours of Saturday, the Ukrainian air force claimed to have shot down 10 of the 15 such drones being deployed to strike southern regions. The majority of his territory experienced power outages, according to the governor of Odesa.

Australia has issued sanctions on three Iranian individuals and one Iranian company for providing drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.

Speaking on Friday, Mr. Kirby asserted that a joint drone-production venture between Iran and Russia would be detrimental to Ukraine, Iran’s neighbours, and the global community.

“Russia is seeking to collaborate with Iran in areas like weapons development, training,” he said, adding that the US fears that Russia intended to “provide Iran with advanced military components” including helicopters and air defence systems.

“Iran has become Russia’s top military backer…” he said. “Russia’s been using Iranian drones to strike energy infrastructure, depriving millions of Ukrainians of power, heat, critical services. People in Ukraine today are actually dying as a result of Iran’s actions.”

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly responded to Mr. Kirby’s remarks by claiming that Iran had turned into one of Russia’s primary military allies and that their alliance was endangering international security.

Iran has sent hundreds of drones to Russia as part of the “sordid negotiations” between the two nations, he claimed. Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, issued the following statement on Saturday: “The sale of drones to Russia is proof of Iran’s contribution to the weakening of international security. This listing emphasises that individuals who give Russia material help will suffer the repercussions.”

Following the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in jail earlier this year, she also announced actions against 19 additional people and two companies, including Iran’s Morality Police, for the cruel treatment of anti-government protestors.

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The only regional capital that Russia managed to seize after invading in February is the Ukrainian city of Kherson, and the Russian force has been told to leave. Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russia in Ukraine, declared that the city could no longer receive supplies. Russian forces will completely leave the western bank of the River Dnipro as a result of the withdrawal.

In light of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, it represents a severe setback to Russia. According to BBC Russia Editor Steve Rosenberg, it is embarrassing for the Kremlin as well. On Russian official television, the military’s senior brass could be seen making the choice as Gen Surovikin provided updates on the situation in Kherson.

Vladimir Putin, the president, stayed away from the fake event. It seemed as though the mastermind of Russia’s futile invasion of Ukraine had delegated the declaration to his generals.

At the end of September, Mr. Putin announced that Russia had annexed Kherson as well as three other seized territories. The defence should be organised along a barrier line along the Dnipro River in these circumstances, Gen. Surovikin told the gathering.

At the beginning of the conflict, Russian forces pushed across southern Ukraine from the occupied Crimea, capturing Kherson in early March. However, Ukrainian authorities were wary of their choice to retreat over the Dnipro River. Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser, cautioned that it would be premature to take the news at its value.

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The contentious Russian ban on disseminating alleged “homosexual propaganda” appears to be expanding to include all adults. With this change, a 2013 regulation that made it illegal to tell minors about being LGBT has been made much stricter.

For encouraging what Russia refers to as “non-traditional sexual interactions,” those found guilty face significant fines. The Russian State Duma passed the extension’s initial approval with a unanimous majority.

Officials had earlier this week lobbied members of Russia’s lower house of parliament to approve the extension, framing it as a component of a larger conflict with the West over civilizational norms and connecting it to the decision to invade Ukraine.

Information about “non-traditional lifestyles” or “the rejection of family values” would be viewed legally on par with pornography, the encouragement of violence, or igniting racial, ethnic, or religious tensions under the plan.

Additionally, it outlaws “promotion of paedophilia,” which the Russian government frequently equates with homosexuality.

The additions also forbid any information that could “lead minors to desire to change their sex,” a reference to transgender individuals.

Infractions of the ban are punishable by fines ranging from 50,000 roubles (£705; $815) to 400,000 roubles, and non-Russians who do so risk being expelled from the nation.

Although the proposal has widespread support, it must first be approved by the Federation Council, the Russian parliament’s upper house, before Vladimir Putin can sign it into law.

One of the law’s leading supporters claimed on Monday that the sharing of information about LGBT individuals with Russians was a part of a “hybrid war” being fought by the West against the nation. Politicians in the Duma heard this argument.

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Elon Musk has refuted claims that he communicated with Vladimir Putin before putting his recommendations for stopping Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a Twitter poll.

Head of the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer claimed that Mr. Musk had personally briefed him about the chat with Mr. Putin.  However, Mr. Musk has since denied this.

“Putin and I have only communicated once, perhaps 18 months ago. The topic concerned space, “Musk posted a tweet.

The Tesla CEO invited his 107.7 million followers to vote on how to end the conflict in Ukraine last week.

One of the ideas was to organise elections in regions of Ukraine that Russia claims it has seized and has occupied. His remarks were well received in Moscow.

If the people’s will is to have Russia go, the multibillionaire said. Four Ukrainian regions have already been annexed by Russia, according to President Putin, after phoney referendums that Kyiv and its Western partners deemed fake. All four of these regions are not entirely under Russian authority.

The illegally annexed Crimea by Moscow in 2014, according to Mr. Musk, should be “officially” recognised as a part of Russia. According to Mr. Bremmer’s account in a newsletter, Mr. Musk told him that the Russian president was “prepared to negotiate,” but only if Ukraine agreed to some form of permanent neutrality, Crimea remained under Russian control, and Kyiv acknowledged Russia’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.

Mr. Bremmer claimed that the CEO of SpaceX had informed him that Mr. Putin had stated that these objectives would be achieved “no matter what” and that a nuclear attack may be launched if Ukraine attacked Crimea.

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According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a “major move” will be taken to put an end to the war that Russia’s leader started in Ukraine. He claimed that based on recent conversations with Vladimir Putin, he intended to “finish this as quickly as possible.”

This month, Ukraine has reclaimed large portions of its land. The Turkish president said that Russia was facing “quite a dilemma.” At a summit in Uzbekistan last week, Mr. Erdogan mentioned having “extremely deep discussions” with Mr. Putin.

The Turkish president claimed in an interview with US channel PBS that he had the idea that the Russian president wanted the war to finish quickly.

He is genuinely demonstrating to me his willingness to put a stop to this as quickly as possible, Mr. Erdogan remarked. That was my impression because of how bad things are now going.

He added that the two sides would shortly exchange 200 “hostages.” He did not elaborate on who would be involved in such a prisoner exchange.

Mr. Erdogan has often attempted to negotiate during the conflict, advocating for Turkey as a Nato member to take a “balanced” approach while rejecting Western sanctions against Russia. He stated last week that he was attempting to set up direct ceasefire talks. He assisted the UN in mediating the restart of food exports from Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has regained some of the area that Russian soldiers had taken two months earlier in the eastern region of Luhansk. Serhiy Haidai, the mayor of Luhansk, claimed that although Russian forces had left the settlement of Bilohorivka, they were still making every effort to fortify their positions elsewhere.

Along with taking back a large portion of the northeastern Kharkiv region, Ukrainian forces have started a counteroffensive in Kherson in the south, forcing the territory’s Russian-installed governor to postpone a referendum on joining Russia.

When asked by PBS if a peace agreement should include any area that Russia had seized since February, Mr. Erdogan responded, “No, and without a doubt no.”

He added that Ukraine would receive its seized regions back. It was unclear if he also mentioned areas controlled by separatists backed by Russia since 2014.

When asked if Russia should be allowed to retain control of Crimea, which it acquired in 2014, Mr. Erdogan responded that since then, Turkey had been in contact with Mr. Putin regarding this.

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The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union. Putin’s work schedule will prevent him from attending the ceremony on Saturday, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Gorbachev passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91, and he said that the Russian president had paid his respects at the hospital in Moscow. Although Gorbachev’s reforms contributed to the end of the Cold War, Mr. Putin grieved the fall of the Soviet Union. The dissolution of the USSR, according to the Russian president in 2005, was “the greatest geopolitical calamity of the [20th] Century.”

However, Mr. Putin struck a more amiable tone in his condolence telegram to Gorbachev’s family on Wednesday, referring to him as “a leader and statesman who had a major impact on the course of world history.” On Thursday, Mr. Putin was seen on Russian state television laying red roses next to Gorbachev’s casket at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow.

There will be other noticeable absences from the burial besides Mr. Putin. In response to Western sanctions implemented as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many of the foreign leaders who would have been anticipated to participate are temporarily prohibited from entering Russian territory. Top politicians from the US, UK, EU, Japan and Canada are among those on the exclusion list, including US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the two candidates vying to succeed him, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

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The president of Russia has signed a directive that might result in the addition of 137,000 soldiers to the armed forces of the nation in the upcoming months. Russia is currently limited to having slightly over a million military troops and about 900,000 civilian employees.

The announcement by Vladimir Putin coincides with a nationwide recruitment campaign that offers generous financial incentives. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine six months ago, 70–80,000 troops have reportedly died or been injured, according to Western officials. According to accounts, recruiters have even gone to prisons and made financial and freedom promises to convicts.

A new army corps is likely to be composed of the volunteer battalions that are being established in different Russian areas, according to a statement made by the UK Ministry of Defence two weeks ago.

However, it noted that recruiting the necessary number of soldiers would be challenging due to “extremely limited levels of popular excitement for enlisting for combat in Ukraine.”

When it invaded Ukraine in February, Russia had initially predicted a swift, successful campaign, but the country’s staunch opposition has slowed its advance, and in recent weeks, the front lines have barely shifted.

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A suspected vehicle bombing has claimed the life of a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. According to Russia’s investigating committee, Darya Dugina, 29, perished following an explosion on a road outside of Moscow.

As “Putin’s brain,” the Russian scholar Alexander Dugin, her father may have been the intended victim of the assault. Mr. Dugin is a well-known advocate of ultra-nationalism who is thought to be close to the Russian president. The philosopher was giving a talk at a festival close to Moscow when Alexander Dugin and his daughter attended.

At the Zakharovo estate, where Russian poet Alexander Pushkin once stayed, the “Tradition” festival bills itself as a family outing for art enthusiasts. The two were scheduled to depart the location on Saturday night in the same automobile, but Mr. Dugin apparently decided to go his own way at the last minute.

Unconfirmed video that was uploaded to Telegram appears to show Mr. Dugin staring in disbelief as emergency personnel arrive at the scene of the smouldering wreck of a car. Investigators have determined that Ms. Dugina passed away at the spot close to Bolshiye Vyazemy.

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