Russian fighter jets have flown close and low over a NATO naval formation. According to British military experts, Russian soldiers are already preparing for the next setbacks. Zelenskyy does not believe that Ukraine is responsible for the rocket hit in Poland. All current voices and developments on the Ukraine war can be found in the ticker.
More on the course of the war in Ukraine.
Saturday, November 19, 4:45 p.m.: According to NATO, two Russian fighter jets approached ships of the alliance operating in the Baltic Sea in a dangerous maneuver. In the incident on Thursday, the aircraft flew past the naval association SNMG1 at a distance of only about 73 meters, said the responsible NATO headquarters in Northwood near London. The flight altitude was only 300 feet, which corresponds to about 91 meters. The pilots did not respond to attempts to make contact.
When asked by the German Press Agency, a spokeswoman said on Saturday that the aircraft were two-seater SU-24 tactical bombers, which had the NATO code name “Fencer” (German: Fechter). Accordingly, the Allies alarmed the quick readiness of their air force. The Russians would then have pursued planes until they had left the area again. The naval association SNMG1 was less than 50 kilometers from the Polish port city of Gdansk (Gdansk).
The spokeswoman did not say how the crew of the ships reacted to the approach of the aircraft and which units were involved. It would be conceivable, for example, that the fighter planes were even detected by a fire control radar in the meantime so that they could be shot down in an emergency. The spokeswoman said the Russian planes were probably not armed with missiles.
According to NATO, the maneuver was particularly risky because the Russian pilots were flying in an area that is considered a danger zone and is currently being used for anti-aircraft exercises by the alliance. The approach is therefore to be classified as “unsafe and unprofessional” and has increased the risk of miscalculations, errors and accidents, according to the headquarters in Northwood.
Friday, November 18, 2:49 p.m.: A day after extending an agreement on Ukrainian grain exports, the presidents of Russia and Turkey spoke on the phone. According to the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke out in favor of implementing the agreement in full and as a package. Moscow understands that not only Ukraine can export grain, but also that Russian exports of grain and fertilizer will be facilitated.
According to information released on Friday, the heads of state also discussed bilateral economic projects, including making Turkey a hub for Russian gas exports.
According to the Presidential Office, President Erdogan thanked Putin for his constructive attitude towards the 120-day extension of the grain agreement. Erdogan pointed out that the prolongation of the Russian-Ukrainian war increases the risks and that diplomatic talks should therefore be resumed. Erdogan also recalled that the meetings between Russian and American intelligence chiefs in Turkey played a crucial role in preventing an uncontrolled escalation.
Friday, November 18, 9:36 a.m.: According to British military experts, the Russian invasion troops in Ukraine are preparing for further setbacks. This emerges from the daily intelligence update from the Ministry of Defense in London on Friday.
According to the report, after withdrawing from the western bank of the Dnipro River, Russian forces in most of the country they occupied are focusing on regrouping and making defensive arrangements. New trenches have been dug near the border with the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, and near the Siwerskyi Donets river between the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“Some of the sites are up to 60 kilometers behind the current front line, suggesting that Russian planners are making preparations in the event of further major Ukrainian breakthroughs,” the London statement said. However, it is also likely that Russia will try to redeploy some of the troops withdrawn from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson to reinforce its offensive operations near the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.
The British Ministry of Defense has published daily information on the course of the war since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February, citing intelligence information. In doing so, the British government wants to both counter the Russian portrayal and keep allies in line. Moscow accuses London of a targeted disinformation campaign.
6:21 p.m .: Street artist Banksy has published a video on his Instagram channel showing several of his works in Ukraine. This makes it clear that the artist is also behind a motif that was posted on his channel on Friday: a girl who appears to be doing a handstand on rubble.
In the video, Banksy now shows other motifs that he applied to war-torn cities. Among other things, there is an elderly woman who looks at her destroyed apartment with a gas mask. The video was clicked thousands of times within a short period of time.
6:16 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made an exchange of all prisoners of war with Russia a condition for the restart of an important chemical pipeline. At an economic forum on Thursday, he commented on the future of the ammonia pipeline from Togliatti on the Volga in Russia to Odessa in the Ukraine. The line, which is more than 2,400 kilometers long, has been idle since the start of the war on February 24.
“We don’t want to trade with Russia, help them – they are our enemy,” Zelenskyy said after media reports in Kyiv. “We could only come to an agreement if they first exchange all our prisoners for all their prisoners.”
Both sides have exchanged prisoners several times in the Russian war of aggression that has been going on for almost nine months. It is the only publicly known, functioning thread of communication between Kyiv and Moscow. Ukraine is trying hard to get its soldiers home from Russian captivity.
Ammonia is mainly used to make fertilizer. Russia has so far exported the chemical through the pipeline to Odessa. The ammonia was processed there and partly exported.
11.16 a.m .: After the rocket hit the Polish border area with Ukraine, Warsaw has indicated its willingness to grant Ukrainian specialists access to the investigation site. A team of Polish and American investigators is currently working there, President Andrzej Duda’s foreign policy advisor, Jakub Kumoch, told TVN24 on Thursday. “If both sides agree – and as far as I know, there are no objections from the American side – this access can be granted soon.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj had previously called for experts from his country to be involved.
“No one is accusing Ukraine of knowingly bombing Polish territory,” Kumoch said. There are many indications that one of the anti-aircraft missiles launched to launch a Russian missile missed its target and subsequently the self-destruct mechanism failed. This then led to an accident.
When asked what evidence Poland had, Kumoch said it was the missile’s debris and the depth of the funnel it caused on impact. “The experts calculate the direction from which the rocket came, even the amount of fuel consumed, and therefore the area from which it could have been launched. This is a purely technical statement,” said the presidential adviser.
9:11 a.m .: The agreement on the safe export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea has been extended by 120 days. The United Nations announced this on Thursday.
10:25 p.m .: The highest-ranking US general, Mark Milley, does not believe that the Ukrainians will soon win on the battlefield. Despite the setbacks, Russia still has significant combat power in Ukraine, he said at the Pentagon’s press briefing on Wednesday. “The probability of a Ukrainian military victory – defined as the Russians being kicked out of all of Ukraine, including the Crimea they claim – is not very high militarily.” But there is the possibility of a political victory. Russia is “on its back at the moment”.
9:29 p.m .: US Chief of Staff Mark Milley tried in vain to contact his Russian counterpart Valeri Gerasimov after the rocket hit Poland. All efforts by his staff to reach the chief of staff have been unsuccessful, Milley said in Washington on Wednesday. However, Milley emphasized that he was able to speak to the Ukrainian army chief Valery Saluschnyj and other European generals several times.
7:29 p.m .: The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has doubted that the rocket impact on Polish territory should have been a Ukrainian projectile. “Can you get facts or any evidence from the partners?” the 44-year-old asked journalists in a televised interview on Wednesday. The head of state called for the use of a joint commission of inquiry and access to the existing data. Western countries are currently assuming that a missile from the Ukrainian air defense system was behind the explosion.
“I think it was a Russian missile – according to the trust I have in the military reports,” Zelenskyy said. According to the Ukrainian data, one of the 25 Russian missile strikes in western Ukraine coincided with the impact in Poland. He also asked, “Can a crater 20 meters in diameter and five meters deep have been caused by debris or not?”
If, despite his doubts, it turns out that a Ukrainian missile was responsible for the deaths of two Poles, Zelenskyi offered an apology.
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