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Huge explosions hit Kremlin military base after Moscow warns of Nato confrontation

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Huge explosions have rocked Russia’s southern city of Rostov-on-Don, footage has shown, after the local governor claimed Ukraine had fired dozens of drones at the region.

Footage showed the moment a drone hit what is believed to be a power station at the Morozovsk military airfield in the Rostov region, erupting into a large fireball.

Vasily Golubev, governor of the region, said that air defence units had destroyed more than 40 airborne targets but admitted that an electricity substation was damaged.

It comes as the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said relations between Russia and Nato had slid to the level of direct confrontation.

Peskov said the US-led military bloc was already involved in the conflict in Ukraine and continued to expand towards Russia’s borders.

It is a claim often made by the Kremlin but was made in the wake of comments by Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg calling for a €100 billion investment in Ukraine.

Some leaders of Nato members, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, have also recently signalled they may be more open to sending troops into Ukraine, though not in fighting capacity.

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In a conflicting version of events, Russia’s defence ministry said 44 drones were intercepted and destroyed in the Morozovsky district, more than 60 miles from the border.

Rostov governor Vasily Golubev said eight people near the airfield targeted by Ukraine were injured.

Russian military bloggers confirmed an attempted attack by Ukrainian drones on a military air base in Morozovsk but said there were no casualties at the base and no damage to warplanes.

The Russian defence ministry said nine more drones were intercepted over the border regions of Kursk, Belgorod, Krasnodar and the nearby Saratov region, bringing the total of attack drones deployed by Ukraine overnight to 53.

Ukraine’s air force said it intercepted 13 Russian drones launched overnight at the southern regions of Odesa, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk, but five missiles got through. Authorities did not report any casualties.

Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, suffered drone attacks on Wednesday (EPA)
Jane Dalton5 April 2024 13:40

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Ukrainian officials say they have used a barrage of drones to destroy at least six military aircraft and badly damage eight others at an airfield in Russia’s Rostov region.

Russian defence officials, however, claim they intercepted 44 Ukrainian drones and that only a power substation was damaged.

The assault appears to be one of Kyiv’s biggest air attacks in the war, coming as its forces step up their assaults on Russian soil.

The overnight attack, which officials said was conducted by Ukraine’s Security Service in co-operation with the army and Ukrainian intelligence, targeted a military airfield near Morozovsk in Russia.

They said about 20 airfield staff were killed or injured.

Morozovsk airfield is used by Russian bombers that have been launching guided aerial bombs at Ukraine’s cities and frontline positions, the officials say.

If true, the attack would be among Ukraine’s most successful cross-border strikes.

Jane Dalton5 April 2024 13:30

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Russia is very likely to have been behind a series of disturbances affecting GPS navigation in the Baltic region, the German Defence Ministry said on Thursday, pointing to the Kaliningrad exclave as a source of the problem.

“The persistent disruptions to the global navigation satellite system are very likely of Russian origin and are based on disruptions in the electromagnetic spectrum, including those originating in the Kaliningrad Oblast,” a spokesperson for the ministry told Reuters, confirming a report by news website t-online.

The spokesperson declined to give details on how Berlin made its assessment or the exact nature of the disruptions, citing “reasons of military security”.

Kaliningrad is Russian territory wedged between Lithuania and Poland on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

The Russian embassy in Berlin declined to comment on the matter.

Last month, a government source told Reuters that Russia was believed to have jammed the satellite signal on an aircraft used by British defence minister Grant Shapps when it flew close to Kaliningrad.

The aviation industry has voiced concern over a surge in GPS interference linked to conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The jamming of GPS signals can be disruptive to commercial airliners but they can usually navigate by other means.

Tom Watling5 April 2024 13:00

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Tom Watling5 April 2024 12:30

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NATO is debating a plan to provide more predictable military support to Ukraine in coming years as better armed Russian troops assert control on the battlefield, the organization’s top civilian official said Wednesday.

“We strongly believe that support to Ukraine should be less dependent on short-term, voluntary offers and more dependent on long-term NATO commitments,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said before chairing a meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the organization is debating a plan to provide more predictable military support to Ukraine as better armed Russian troops assert control on the battlefield

Tom Watling5 April 2024 12:00

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Communications with Russia must remain open despite its attack on Ukraine, Italy’s defence minister said on Friday, commenting on recent talks between his French and Russian counterparts.

On Wednesday, French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu had a phone conversation with Russia’s Sergei Shoigu – the first since October 2022 – during the course of which France condemned Russia’s “war of aggression” in Ukraine.

France later denied Russian claims that it expressed willingness to hold dialogue on Ukraine or discuss possible peace negotiations when the two countries’ defence ministers spoke on Wednesday.

“Although the Russian Federation has invaded a sovereign country, and for this reason Italy and France always support and will support Ukraine, it is important (…) that channels of confrontation and dialogue are also kept open,” Italy’s Guido Crosetto said in a statement.

Crosetto, who spoke to Lecornu on Thursday, added that “tough and critical” communication, is essential to achieve the goal of stopping the Russian attacks and to be able to “create the conditions for a just peace”.

Italy’s Defence Minister Guido Crosetto takes part in a NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting (REUTERS)
Tom Watling5 April 2024 11:30

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On the alliance’s landmark anniversary, historian Sten Rynning says the future of European security may depend on whether it can convince three steadfastly neutral countries to sign up

On the alliance’s landmark anniversary, historian Sten Rynning says the future of European security may depend on whether it can convince three steadfastly neutral countries to sign up

Tom Watling5 April 2024 11:00

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Russia’s top diplomat warned Thursday that prospective negotiations to end the fighting in Ukraine could be successful only if they take Moscow‘s interests into account, dismissing a planned round of peace talks as a Western ruse to rally broader international support for Kyiv.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov charged that Ukraine’s Western allies are currently involved in a massive diplomatic blitz to persuade as many countries of the Global South as possible to join a meeting in Switzerland to discuss a potential peace plan.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that prospective negotiations to end the fighting in Ukraine could be successful only if they take Moscow’s interests in the account

Tom Watling5 April 2024 10:30

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Ukraine attacked Russia’s Morozovsk military air base in the Rostov region, destroying six Russian warplanes in a joint operation conducted by the SBU security service and military, a Kyiv intelligence source told Reuters on Friday.

Reuters could not independently verify the claim. The source did not say how the attack was conducted but that eight more warplanes had also been damaged.

Russia’s RIA news agency cited the Russian defence ministry earlier as saying Russian air defences had downed 53 Ukrainian drones overnight, most of them over the Rostov region.

The source said the Morozovsk air base was used by Russian tactical bombers like the Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-24M that Moscow’s air force uses to fire guided bombs at the Ukrainian military and frontline towns and cities.

The source described the operation as an important one.

Ukraine has significantly stepped up its drone attacks on targets in Russia in recent weeks, focusing on oil refineries in an effort to reduce Russian oil revenue.

Unable to rapidly produce long-range missiles and with limited access to those made by Western allies, Kyiv has focused on developing long-range uncrewed vehicles to strike back at Russia, which has used a sprawling arsenal of missiles and drones to bomb Ukraine.

Tom Watling5 April 2024 09:56

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Germany‘s defense minister on Thursday announced a plan to streamline and reorganize the country’s military command as part of efforts to make the armed forces of NATO’s most populous European member “war-capable.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz set in motion a big increase in military spending shortly after Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, which he described as a “turning point.” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius last year took on the job of overhauling the military, the Bundeswehr, after years of neglect and in November called for a review of its structure.

Germany’s defense minister has announced a plan to streamline and reorganize the country’s military command as part of efforts to make the armed forces of NATO’s most populous European member “war-capable.”

Tom Watling5 April 2024 09:30

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