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Ukraine updates: Kuleba tells NATO 'there is no stalemate'

Published November 29, 2023last updated November 29, 2023

Kyiv's top diplomat said that "Ukraine is not going to back down" in defending itself against Russian invaders during a meeting with NATO foreign ministers. DW has the latest.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg address a media conference prior to a meeting in Brussels
Ukraine has pushed to join NATO to ensure it is covered by the US-led alliance's protective umbrellaImage: Virginia Mayo/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

In a meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed concerns of a "stalemate" in his country's fight against Russian invasion. 

Kyiv's goal of retaking Russian-occupied territories remains unchanged, he said, and called on NATO countries to step up the supply of arms to his country.

Kyiv also says the onset of winter has slowed Russia's offensive in the east.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, November 29:

Skip next section France aims for 2024 security accord with Kyiv
November 29, 2023

France aims for 2024 security accord with Kyiv

France intends to complete a bilateral security guarantee accord with Ukraine by the start 2024, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said.

"On the security guarantees and the work we have been doing with our Ukrainian partners ... we are working towards a conclusion of this accord with the Ukrainian authorities by the end of the year, start of next year," Legendre told reporters at a weekly news briefing.

Since Ukraine is not a NATO member, it has lobbied for long-term security commitments from its main backers.

France is among several countries that have been negotiating bilaterally with Kyiv in recent months. 

The accord would outline the framework for long-term humanitarian aid, support for reconstruction and military assistance, Legendre said.

Skip next section Russia ramps up attacks in eastern Ukraine
November 29, 2023

Russia ramps up attacks in eastern Ukraine

Russian forces have been increasing attacks in eastern Ukraine, Moscow and Kyiv both said.

Although the front lines have barely shifted in 2023, fighting has remained intense, with the nearly encircled industrial town of Avdiivka still up for grabs.

"The enemy has doubled its artillery fire and airstrikes. It has also intensified ground infantry attacks and is using armored vehicles," said Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesman for Ukraine's army.

Improving weather conditions, after powerful storms hit both southern Ukraine and Russia earlier this week, had enabled Russia's forces to intensify their assaults and use drones again, Shtupun added.

Russia's military claimed it had taken control of Khromove, a small village on the outskirts of Bakhmut.

"Troops, supported by aviation and artillery fire, improved their positions along the front line and liberated the village of Artemovskoye," Russia's Defense Ministry said in a daily briefing, referring to the village by a previous version of its name.

Skip next section Slovakia extends import ban on Ukrainian grain
November 29, 2023

Slovakia extends import ban on Ukrainian grain

Slovakia's government said it had extended and expanded a ban on the import of certain agricultural products from Ukraine, such as wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds.

The new regulation applies indefinitely and adds 10 other products to the list, including hops, honey, cane and beet sugar.

Poland and Hungary have already imposed similar restrictions. 

Unable to use its Black Sea ports to export to the rest of the world since the Russian invasion on February 2022, Ukraine has been transporting its agricultural products to Europe via the country's land borders. But this has caused disruption to local markets.

Slovakian Agriculture Minister Richard Takac told the news agency TASR that Slovakian farmers have suffered losses of around €110 million ($110 million) due to the import of cheap Ukrainian grain.

What's behind Poland's row with Ukraine?

Skip next section US 'must and will' continue backing Ukraine, Blinken says
November 29, 2023

US 'must and will' continue backing Ukraine, Blinken says

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington and its allies would continue to back Ukraine against Russia's invasion, despite doubts over future assistance and stalemate on the ground.

"Some are questioning whether the United States and other NATO allies in truth continue to stand with Ukraine as we enter the second winter of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's brutality," Blinken said.

"But the answer here today at NATO is clear and it's unwavering. We must and we will continue to support Ukraine."

The top diplomat said that there was "no sense of fatigue" among NATO allies when it came to helping Ukraine.

Western officials have also insisted they are not pressing Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow, even as Ukraine's top general admits fighting has ground to a bloody stalemate.

Skip next section Sweden expects NATO membership 'as swiftly as possible'
November 29, 2023

Sweden expects NATO membership 'as swiftly as possible'

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told DW that it's "quite clear now" that his country has fulfilled all its commitments for joining NATO.

The Scandinavian country applied for NATO membership in May 2022, in the aftermath of Russia's full-blown invasion of Ukraine, alongside neighbor Finland.

 "NATO allies have been very clear that they want to see Sweden as a member in NATO as swiftly as possible," Billstrom said.

"We are very grateful for all the support given, not at least from Germany towards the Swedish NATO accession, and we hope that this will come through as swiftly as possible," he added.

Billstrom made the remarks at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, where Ukraine and Sweden's ministers were also invited to participate in the discussions.

Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve Sweden's NATO bid, even as neighbouring Finland has already joined the alliance.

Skip next section Kyiv's top diplomat tells NATO: Ukraine 'will not back down'
November 29, 2023

Kyiv's top diplomat tells NATO: Ukraine 'will not back down'

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, left, speaks with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, center, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting of the NATO Ukraine Council in NATO foreign ministers session at NATO headquarters in Brussels
Western officials insist they remain committed and are not pressing Kyiv to negotiate with MoscowImage: Virginia Mayo/AP Photo/picture alliance

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, "There is no stalemate" in Kyiv’s defense against invading Russian forces.

"We have to continue," he said, "We have to keep fighting. Ukraine is not going to back down."

Kuleba also called on his NATO counterparts, "to ramp up significantly production of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment."

Kuleba said he was "hopeful" that long-term aid commitments from the US and EU would be sealed soon.

He also emphasized that Kyiv's goal of retaking territories currently occupied by Russia, including Crimea, "remains unchanged and nothing will stop us."

Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Skip next section Bad weather slows Russian offensive in east: Ukraine
November 29, 2023

Bad weather slows Russian offensive in east: Ukraine

Storms and rain have slowed Russia's efforts to secure eastern Ukraine including the shattered town of Advdiika in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said, as per a Reuters report.

After already seeing two days of storm, weather agencies have predicted more rain in the east, leaving the ground unsuitable for military manoeuvres. 

"They've started to shell the town centre from Donetsk. Our brigade is holding its ground, but we can't see any equipment coming," Serhiy Tsekhotskyi, a Ukrainian officer in Advdiika, said on national television.

"The weather is unsuitable. But once the frosts come and the ground hardens, an attempted assault with equipment is possible."

Russia's forces have been trying to capture Avdiivka since mid-October as part of their advance through eastern Ukraine.

Another Ukrainian military official, Volodymyr Fitio, said the bad weather had forced Russia to make "adjustments."

"You cannot advance when the ground is like this," Fitio told the media outlet Espreso TV. "The Russians previously brought in reserves and threw them into battle. There are a lot fewer movements like that now because of the weather."

Skip next section Putin won't make peace in Ukraine before 2024 US election: US official
November 29, 2023

Putin won't make peace in Ukraine before 2024 US election: US official

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not make peace in Ukraine before the US Presidential elections slated for 2024, a senior US State Department official said on Tuesday. 

"My expectation is that Putin won't make a peace or a meaningful peace before he sees the result of our election," the official said, according to a Reuters report, on condition of anonymity. The report said the official was briefing reporters after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussles. 

When asked if this was the view of the US government, he said it was a "widely shared premise."

The State Department official's comments come amid concerns that former US President Donald Trump could disrupt the effort of the western nations to support Ukraine. Trump, who is currently the lead candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has frequently criticized Washington's support for Kyiv.

Skip next section Putin signs federal budget with record amount for defense: report
November 29, 2023

Putin signs federal budget with record amount for defense: report

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a 2024 federal budget and is planning budgets for the next two years, with a record amount devoted to defense spending, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The 2024 budget accounts for 36.6 trillion rubles ($412.5 billion) in state expenses and a deficit of 1.6 trillion rubles ($9.5 billion), the ISW report said.

Russian parliament's lower house Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that the budget was designed to allocate funds to the military and deal with the fallout from international sanctions imposed on Moscow. 

Ukraine's allies have hit Russian institutions and individuals with a barrage of sanctions in the wake of Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

A portion of the Russian budget remains undisclosed. 

Skip next section Russia says downed destroys Ukrainian-launched drone
November 29, 2023

Russia says downed destroys Ukrainian-launched drone

Russia's air defence forces took down a Ukraine-launched drone headed toward Moscow, according to the capital city's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin.

In a post on the Telegram app, Sobyanin said the drone was destroyed over the Podolsk district in western Russia. "According to preliminary information, there was no damage or casualties at the site where the debris fell," he said.

Skip next section Ukraine says it fended off overnight drones and missile attack
November 29, 2023

Ukraine says it fended off overnight drones and missile attack

Russia launched 21 drones and three missles on Ukraine overnight, according to Ukraine's Air Force. 

All the drones and two missles were destroyed before they reached their targets, the official account on messaging platform Telegram said. A third missile, while not destroyed, "did not reach" the target, it added. 

The post said that the Iranian-made Shahed drones were headed toward the Khmelnitskyi region in western Ukraine while the missiles were aimed at the southern region. 

mk/fb (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)