Russia and Ukraine blame explosions in Melitopol. Norway is putting its army on high alert. All news about the Ukraine war in the ticker.

4:07 p.m .: According to Western security circles, Russia is preparing to withdraw its troops from the southern Ukrainian city of Cherson. The Russians may have decided that “the city wasn’t worth the fight,” a senior Western government official said in a background briefing to journalists on Thursday. However, it is always possible that the military leadership will change its mind at short notice, even if everything currently points to a withdrawal, he said.

Located on the right bank of the Dnipro, Cherson was captured by Russia at the very beginning of the war of aggression. At the end of September, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin officially annexed Cherson as one of four Ukrainian regions for Russia. At the same time, the situation of the Russian troops west of the river has deteriorated significantly. The Ukrainian troops systematically destroyed the Russian supply routes across the Dnipro and advanced further towards the city in their counter-offensive in early October.

12:11 p.m .: The Russian flag has disappeared from the administration building of the annexed Kherson region. This is reported by the independent Russian news site “Meduza”. One of four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia after mock referendums, Kherson is currently the subject of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces. However, as of Thursday morning, the flag was no longer visible in front of the building, according to Yuri Sobolevsky, the region’s chief administrative officer. Pro-Russian Telegram channels also confirmed the absence of the flag. However, the Russian flag would continue to fly in the other three annexed areas, according to the pro-Russian site WarGonzo project.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 10:56 a.m .: In the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine there were several heavy explosions on Thursday night. This was confirmed by representatives of both sides, although the accounts differed. Russian anti-aircraft defenses shot down incoming Ukrainian missiles, a representative of the occupation administration, Vladimir Rogov, wrote on Telegram.

The expelled Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, said a factory building with a Russian staff inside was shelled. The information could not be independently verified. Russia uses Melitopol as the administrative center for the partially conquered Zaporizhia region, which it has declared annexed.

In its morning situation report, the Ukrainian General Staff reported Russian attacks on the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donbass. Destruction of a power supply facility was reported in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih. A Russian drone struck there.

10:32 p.m .: Ukraine has reported intense fighting with Russian units in the Donbass, especially around the cities of Bakhmut and Soledar. “Dozens of attacks in one day” were repelled, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maljar said on Ukrainian television on Wednesday. If the Russian army advances, Ukraine will immediately respond with a counterattack.

According to the Ukrainian general staff, Russia continued to attack infrastructure in several regions of the country with missiles and Iranian drones. According to the authorities in the Kharkiv area, five women and two men were injured in the attacks. The attackers damaged four private houses, two high-rise buildings and a shop with artillery fire, it said. For its part, Ukraine reported the destruction of an ammunition depot, among other things. The information from the combat area could not be independently confirmed.

Russia had recently targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Numerous power plants were hit, and there are power cuts every day. Power was cut off in the Kyiv region on Wednesday. Consumption has increased significantly – in order to avoid a massive outage, the decision was made to take this step, said the utility Ukrenerho in the capital.

Wednesday, November 2, 8:16 a.m .: According to British secret services, Russian troops are making extremely slow progress in their attacks in Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense in London referred on Wednesday to statements by the head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to which his units advanced 100 to 200 meters a day. Prigozhin did say that this is normal in modern warfare. However, the British Ministry emphasized that Russian military doctrine provides for advances of 30 kilometers per day.

For comparison, the agency said: “In February, Russian forces planned a 1,000-kilometer advance through Ukraine within a month. In September, Ukrainian units made advances of more than 20 kilometers per day.”

In the past two months, Prigozhin has given up any pretense that he has no connection to the Wagner group and has spoken out much more publicly, the ministry said. “He’s probably trying to brush up on his credibility within the stressed-out Russian national security system.”

2:09 p.m .: The EU is considering further sanctions against Belarus for its role in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. “We cannot allow Belarus to join Russian politics or for Russia to circumvent the effects of sanctions imposed by (…) Belarus,” said Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala on Tuesday, whose country currently holds the EU Council Presidency.

Fiala spoke after his return from a trip to Kyiv. There are already sanctions against Belarus, said the head of government. But the EU is now also dealing with the role that Belarus is playing in the Ukraine war. A “possible need” to “target” the country again is being examined.

The government in Minsk has repeatedly emphasized that it does not want to get involved in the war. However, it allows Russia to station its troops on Belarusian territory and launch attacks on neighboring Ukraine from there. “We must be aware that the attacks on Ukraine are being launched from Belarusian airspace and that Belarus is supplying arms to Russia,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said.

Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko recently announced the establishment of a joint military alliance with Russia. According to Minsk, up to 9,000 Russian soldiers and around 170 tanks are to be stationed in Belarus. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of wanting to “dragge Belarus directly into this war”. Belarus assured that the establishment of the joint military alliance was purely “defensive”.

11:23 a.m .: In view of the Ukrainian offensive to recapture Kherson, the Russian occupation authorities in the southern Ukrainian region have announced the evacuation of tens of thousands of other people. “We will resettle and relocate up to 70,000 people,” Moscow-appointed Kherson Governor Vladimir Saldo said in a live radio broadcast on Tuesday. The people affected are therefore on a 15-kilometer-wide strip east of the Dnipro River.

The Russian army announced last week that 70,000 civilians had evacuated their homes on the west bank of the Dnipro. Saldo said the new evacuations were decided because of the risk of a “possible missile attack” on a dam on the river, which could flood the left bank.

According to the governor, the evacuations have already begun and will now be extended to Cherson or “other regions of Russia”. Saldo did not give any details. On Monday, he said clearing the 15-kilometer stretch of shore would allow the Russian army to build better defenses “to repel the Ukrainian attack.”

You can read more reports on the Ukraine conflict on the following pages.