07:44am: Russian troops to hold drills in Ukraine’s neighbour Belarus
Russian troops will conduct military exercises in Belarus, which neighbours Ukraine, the Interfax news agency said on Monday, citing the defence ministry in Moscow.
In October, Belarus announced the formation of a joint regional force with Moscow with several thousand Russian servicemen arriving in the ex-Soviet country.
“The final assessment of the combat capability and combat readiness of the units will be given… after the battalion tactical exercises have been conducted,” Interfax quoted the ministry as saying.
It did not say when and where the drills will take place but the announcement comes hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Minsk for talks with counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
5:45am: Kyiv targeted in early morning drone attack, say authorities
Russia’s latest attacks hit “critical infrastructure” in and around Kyiv early on Monday, Ukrainian authorities said, adding air defence systems destroyed about 15 of the 20 drones directed at the capital.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said preliminary information suggested there were no deaths or injuries from the attack on the capital, and medics were working at the sites of the strikes in the Solomyanskyi and Shevchenkivskyi districts.
“As a result of the attack on the capital, critical infrastructure facilities were damaged,” Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.
“Energy and heating engineers are working to quickly stabilise the situation with energy and heat supply.”
A Reuters witness reported there was a fire as a result of the attack on the often targeted central Shevchenkivskyi district.
The Solomyanskyi district in the western part of Kyiv is a busy transport hub, home to a train station and one of the city’s two passenger airports.
Oleskiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region, which does not include the capital but surrounds it, said infrastructure and private houses were damaged by the night drone attacks.
3:50am: Russian troops stationed in Belarus to ‘begin military exercises’
Russian troops that were moved to Belarus in October to become part of a regional formation will conduct battalion tactical exercises, the Russian Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing the Russian defence ministry.
It was not immediately clear when and where in Belarus the exercises will be conducted.
The Belarusian defence ministry said in October that 9,000 Russian troops were moving to the country as part of a “regional grouping” of forces to protect its borders.
2:30am: Ukraine watchful of borders as Putin to head to Belarus
President Volodymyr Zelensky said protecting Ukraine’s borders was a “constant priority” and his country was ready for all possible scenarios with Russia and its ally Belarus, which Kyiv has warned could be drawn into the 10-month war.
Zelensky, in his nightly video address to Ukrainians, also issued a fresh appeal to Western nations to provide Kyiv with better air defences as “one of the most powerful” steps to halt the Russian invasion.
He also said Ukrainian forces were holding the eastern city of Bakhmut, where some of the fiercest fighting has been seen.
Air raid warnings again rang out over Kyiv and eastern Ukraine early on Monday, with videos of blasts and air defence systems shared on social media.
“Protecting our border, both with Russia and Belarus – is our constant priority,” Zelensky said after a meeting on Sunday of Ukraine’s top military command. “We are preparing for all possible defence scenarios.”
Zelensky made his remarks on the eve of a visit to Belarus by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s amid discussion of a possible new offensive by Moscow and suggestions it could originate in Belarus.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
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