Ukraine-Russia war: Finland closes entire border with Russia

Finnish Border Guards escort migrants arriving at the Raja-Jooseppi crossing
Finnish Border Guards escort migrants arriving at the Raja-Jooseppi crossing - Emmi Korhonen

Finland will close its entire border with Russia on Wednesday night after accusing Moscow of orchestrating a surge of asylum seekers.

Prime minister Petteri Orpo said the last remaining open border crossing at Raja-Jooseppi in the far north will shut for two weeks until 13 December.

“This is an organised activity, not a genuine emergency,” interior minister Mari Rantanen said.

The closure comes after weeks of rising tensions between the countries after more than 1,000 migrants were given bikes and scooters by Russia to cross Finland’s 830-miles border without a visa since August.

Finland has steadily closed its border crossings in protest against the increase in migrants, most of whom are from Africa and the Middle East.

Russia warned of “counter-measures” when Finland joined Nato in April.

03:10 PM GMT

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That’s all for today from the Telegraph’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.

03:06 PM GMT

Today's headlines

  • A Ukrainian drone struck an aircraft factory nearly 200 miles behind enemy lines

  • A Russian court extended the pre-trial detention of reporter Evan Gershkovich by two months

  • Volodymyr Zelensky sent a delegation to meet Republican leaders in the US

  • Germany sent Ukraine £259m ($328m) to repair and modernise its energy grid

  • The wife of Ukraine’s military intelligence chief was hospitalised after being poisoned

  • Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was forced back to base after “the storm of the century” hit southern Ukraine and occupied Crimea

  • Russia’s pincer advance on Avdiivka is one of  its ‘greatest gains’ since spring, the MoD said

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister insisted the West is not pressuring the country into peace talks

  • Finland closed its entire border with Russia after a surge in illegal migration

02:53 PM GMT

Cold War-era tank confirmed on frontline for first time

The Cold War-era Leopard 1 tank is being used by Ukraine against Russia, it has been confirmed for the first time.

The AFP news agency filmed a freshly-painted Leopard 1A5 – a model which first entered service in the 1980s – near the front-line and interviewed its crew.

“We’ve already had combat missions with this tank, and on the Russian side, they’ve lost a lot of fighters because of it,” said tank crew member Grigorii, whose surname and rank were not disclosed.

“We can hit targets at distances of up to 3.5 to 5km,” added another called Vitalii. “We can, at a distance that does not allow us to be destroyed, shoot at them.”

The tanks are expected to be used primarily from range because of their light armour, which leaves them vulnerable to rocket-propelled grenades and drone explosives.

The tank was donated by Denmark and then refurbished and delivered by Germany, which has delivered 30 out of a promised 195 refurbished Leopard 1A5s to Ukraine so far.

02:43 PM GMT

Finland closes entire border with Russia

Finland has closed its entire border with Russia after accusing Moscow of orchestrating a surge of illegal migration.

Prime minister Petteri Orpo said the final remaining open border crossing at Raja-Jooseppi in the far north will be closed until 13 December.

Finland has steadily closed its border checkpoints with Russia in protest against an uptick in asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East.

Russia’s behaviour is a “hybrid warfare tactic”, the Institute for the Study of War think tank has said previously.

02:39 PM GMT

Kuleba: West is not pressuring us to start peace talks

Ukraine’s government has dismissed suggestions that its Western allies are pressuring it to enter peace talks with Russia.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said Ukraine is not feeling any such pressure to negotiate.

02:07 PM GMT

Ukraine does not need to change strategy, says Canada

Ukraine does not need to change its strategy in the war against Russia, Canada’s foreign minister has said.

“We have a good strategy and Ukraine has a good strategy, but we need to implement it,” said Melanie Joly.

01:28 PM GMT

Nato must 'stay the course', says Stoltenberg

Nato must “stay the course” and fulfil its “obligation” to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defeat Russia, secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has said.

“It’s our obligation to ensure that we provide Ukraine with the weapons they need,” he told reporters as he arrived at a meeting of Nato members’ foreign ministers in Brussels.

“We just have to stay the course. This is about also our security interests.”

01:00 PM GMT

Ukraine and Baltic states boycott meeting after Russia invited

Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will boycott a European security conference after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was invited.

Russia was banned from last year’s meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which it is a member.

But Mr Lavrov plans to attend this year’s summit in Skopje, North Macedonia when it starts on Thursday after being invited by the Balkan country.

The Baltic states said in a joint statement that the invite “risks legitimising aggressor Russia as a rightful member of our community of free nations”.

Oleg Nikolenko, Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman, said “we must work together to save the OSCE from Russia”.

“Lavrov’s place is at a special tribunal, not the OSCE table,” added Estonia’s foreign minister Margus Tsahkna.

12:45 PM GMT

Slovak truckers threaten to join Poland blockade

Slovak truckers have threatened to block the country’s main border crossing with Ukraine from Friday unless measures are taken to limit competition from Ukrainian hauliers.

The UNAS truckers’ association said it would shut the crossing at Vysne Nemecke, the only one which is open to heavy trucks.

UNAS is awaiting a response to the threat from the Slovak transport ministry and will make its final decision on Thursday.

Polish truckers have been blocking a number of crossings with Ukraine for three weeks in protest against what they see as unfair competition from Ukrainians.

12:30 PM GMT

Germany to hit Nato spending target next year

Germany will hit Nato’s spending target next year, its foreign minister has said.

Annalena Baerbock told a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels that the country would spend at least two per cent of its GDP on military expenditure in 2024.

Germany has not met the target since 1991, the year the reunification of West and East Germany was completed.

12:24 PM GMT

Spy chief Budanov is Russian 'hate figure'

Kyrylo Budanov, the Ukrainian military intelligence chief whose wife Marianna is said to have been poisoned, is a key figure in clandestine operations against Russia.

The apparent poisoning represents the most serious targeting of a senior Ukrainian leader’s family since the war began.

Ukrainian officials have previously said that “more than 10” attempted assassinations of Mr Budanov have been foiled during his espionage career

A Moscow court charged him in absentia with terrorism in April and he is a hate figure in the Russian media, Reuters have reported.

He has previously said he would “keep killing Russians anywhere on the face of this world until the complete victory of Ukraine”.

11:57 AM GMT

Businesswoman charged with treason for sending Russia troop locations

A Ukrainian businesswoman has been charged with treason after being accused of sending Russia the location of army units.

The information provided by the unnamed woman, who is from the southern city of Odesa, was then used to conduct targeted air strikes using Shahed drones, the SBU said.

She is also accused of telling the Russians what damage was caused by the strikes.

If convicted, the woman could be given a life sentence.

11:37 AM GMT

Other Ukrainian intelligence officials poisoned by heavy metals

A number of Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR) officials have fallen ill after being poisoned with the same heavy metals that hospitalised the wife of its chief, the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper has reported.

The HUR has confirmed reports that Marianna Budanova, the wife of Kyrylo Budanov, was taken ill.

11:19 AM GMT

Russia's pincer advance on Avdiivka one of 'greatest gains' since spring

Russia’s pincer advance on the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka is one of its “greatest gains” since spring, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In its latest defence intelligence briefing, the MoD said Russian forces have advanced by “up to 2km” around the industrial centre in Donetsk since October.

“Although modest, this advance likely represents one of the greatest Russian gains since spring 2023,” it said.

“It has cost the units involved thousands of casualties.”

It added: “Although Avdiivka has become a salient or bulge in the Ukrainian front line, Ukraine remains in control of a corridor of territory approximately 7km wide, through which it continues to supply the town.”

11:04 AM GMT

Stoltenberg: I'm confident US will keep backing Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg has said he is “confident” the United States will keep sending weapons to Ukraine.

“I’m confident that the United States will continue to provide support because it is in the security interest of the United States to do so and it’s also in line with what we have agreed,” Nato’s secretary general said at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

10:50 AM GMT

Watch: Ukrainian drone strike on Smolensk aircraft factory

10:34 AM GMT

Pictured: Blinken arrives at Nato

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, has arrived at Nato headquarters for a two-day meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers.

Blinken speaks to US ambassador to Nato Julianne Smith as they arrive at the summit
Blinken speaks to US ambassador to Nato Julianne Smith as they arrive at the summit - Geert Vanden Wijngaert

10:13 AM GMT

Scholz: Supporting Ukraine 'existential' for Europe

Supporting Ukraine in its defence against Russia is of “existential importance” to Europe, Olaf Scholz has said.

The German chancellor said his country will continue to provide “as long as it is necessary”.

“This support is of existential importance,” he said. “For Ukraine … but also for us in Europe.

“None of us want to imagine what even more serious consequences it would have for us if Putin won this war.”

Germany is Ukraine’s second largest provider of weapons and ammunition, behind the United States.

09:59 AM GMT

Russia's Black Sea Fleet forced back by biggest Crimea storm in 100 years

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been forced back to base after “the storm of the century” hit southern Ukraine and occupied Crimea.

No Russian ships are able to operate on the Black Sea and the Azov Sea because of the blizzards, giant waves and winds of up to 90mph, Ukraine’s navy and southern army command said.

The storm has destroyed coastal defences in occupied Crimea and one Russian military blogger claimed minefields have been swept across the seas.

The Institute for the Study of War think tank said heavy snowfall elsewhere in Ukraine has slowed down fighting because of poor visibility.

But it said Ukrainian forces have used the harsh conditions to secure their positions on the bridgehead over the Dnipro river.

Read the full article here

09:50 AM GMT

Putin signs off record military spending

Vladimir Putin has signed off a 70 per cent increase in Russian military spending that will take it to its highest level on record.

Approximately 30 per cent of government spending will go on the armed forces in 2024, a figure that rises to 40 per cent when internal security is included.

The increase of nearly 70 per cent from 2023’s budget has been working its way through Russia’s legislatures in recent months.

09:38 AM GMT

Watch: Russia's Black Sea Fleet forced back by storm

09:24 AM GMT

EU official praises Ukraine's anti-corruption measures

A European Union official has praised Ukraine’s anti-corruption measures.

“I think that Ukrainians are fed up with old Ukraine, and they want a new system,” said Vera Jourova, vice-president of the European Commission.

“They will want to see institutions well-functioning, prosecuting and investigating cases of organised crime corruption at all levels, not only the big fish but also lower levels.”

The Commission recommended earlier this month that the EU start formal accession talks with Ukraine once it satisfies several remaining conditions for membership, including stronger anti-corruption measures.

09:04 AM GMT

Wife of Ukraine's military intelligence chief 'poisoned'

The wife of Ukraine’s military intelligence chief has been poisoned by heavy metals, a Ukrainian newspaper has claimed.

Babel reported that Marianna Budanova, the wife of Kyrylo Budanov, is in hospital after a “prolonged deterioration in her health”, citing a military intelligence source.

“She is now completing the course of treatment, then she will be monitored by doctors,” the source was quoted as saying.

“These substances are not used in any way in everyday life or military affairs. Their presence may indicate a deliberate attempt to poison a particular person.”

The military intelligence agency (HUR) has told the Kyiv Independent that Babel’s story is accurate.

Marianna Budanova married Kyrylo Budanov in 2013
Marianna Budanova married Kyrylo Budanov in 2013

08:55 AM GMT

Germany sends £259m in aid for Ukraine's power grid

Germany has sent Ukraine £259m ($328m) to repair and modernise its energy grid.

“Together, we keep the lights on,” said Martin Jaeger, Germany’s ambassador to Ukraine.

Russia is expected to launch a major bombardment on Ukraine’s power infrastructure this winter, just as it did last year.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said last week that Russia has been building up its cruise missile stockpiles to cause maximum damage in the strikes.

08:47 AM GMT

Kadyrov sending 3,000 more Chechens to Ukraine

An additional 3,000 Chechen fighters are being sent to Ukraine, leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said.

The men will form part of new Russian army and national guard units.

“They have the best equipment and modern weapons,” he said.

“In addition, the guys are highly combative and very motivated to achieve results.”

Mr Kadyrov said in May that Chechnya had sent more than 26,000 men to fight in Ukraine.

08:44 AM GMT

Ukraine revises storm death toll to 10

Ukraine has said 10 people are confirmed to have died in the storm, revising the figure up from five.

“23 people were injured, including two children,” interior minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Four are dead and 10 have been injured in Moldova.

In Russia and the occupied Ukrainian territories it controls, four people have died.

There is no injured total for Russia as things stand.

08:27 AM GMT

WSJ statement on Evan Gershkovich

The Wall Street Journal has issued this statement after reporter Evan Gershkovich had his pre-trial detention in Russia extended by two months.

Evan has now been unjustly imprisoned for nearly 250 days, and every day is a day too long.

The accusations against him are categorically false and his continued imprisonment is a brazen and outrageous attack on a free press, which is critical for a free society.

We continue to stand with Evan and call for his immediate release.

08:21 AM GMT

Zelensky sends delegation to meet US Republicans

Volodymyr Zelensky has sent a delegation to meet Republican leaders in the United States amid the continuing deadlock in Congress over new funding for Ukraine.

The New Voice newspaper said Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, would lead the delegation of MPs, officials, veterans and children affected by the Russian invasion.

Joe Biden’s £83bn ($105bn) funding package, including £48bn ($61bn) for Ukraine has met fierce opposition from Republicans in Congress.

The Senate announced a vote on the Ukraine aid bill could take place as early as December 4.

08:05 AM GMT

MP should be sacked for criticising Zaluzhny, say colleagues

An MP who criticised Ukrainian army chief Valery Zaluzhny should be expelled from Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, fellow MPs have said.

Mariana Bezuhla, deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament’s national security committee, said on Sunday that Zaluzhny should “step down” for not providing a plan for next year’s operations.

Roman Kostenko, secretary of the national security committee, told Suspilne that Zaluzhny had not been asked to submit the plan.

“Most lawmakers are outraged by Bezuhla’s behavior and propose excluding her. However, it is not guaranteed to be put to a vote,” one party colleague told Ukrainian newspaper Suspilne.

The party has distanced itself from Ms Bezuhla’s comments, saying she “is responsible for her own words”.

07:51 AM GMT

Russia extends detention of Evan Gershkovich

A Russian court has extended the pre-trial detention of Evan Gershkovich by two months.

He has been detained for eight months and will now remain in custody until January 30 2024 after the ruling by Moscow’s Lefortovsky Court.

The Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison.

He denies the charges.

Evan Gershkovich stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing on the extension of his pre-trial detention
Evan Gershkovich stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing on the extension of his pre-trial detention - Lefortovsky Court

07:40 AM GMT

Watch: Russian railway line damaged by storm

A Russian railway line has almost been washed away by the ferocious storm that has hit the Black Sea.

The line between Sochi and Tuapse was teetering on the edge of the coastline as waves crashed on the shore, a video shared by a prominent Ukrainian blogger shows.

The weather has lashed the southern regions of Dagestan, Krasnodar and Rostov and the occupied Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Crimea since Sunday.

Russia’s energy ministry said about 1.9 million people have been affected by power cuts.

07:35 AM GMT

Ukraine strikes aircraft factory 200 miles behind enemy lines

A Ukrainian drone has struck a Russian aircraft factory more than 200 miles behind enemy lines.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) claimed responsibility for the explosion at the Smolensk Aviation Factory.

Footage of the blast showed plumes of black smoke billowing up from the plant, which also produces Kh-59 cruise missiles.

Baza, a Russian Telegram channel with links to the military, said two drones were downed over the factory, one of which crashed into the roof and exploded. It said there were no casualties.

It is the second time Ukraine has sent drones to attack the factory. A previous raid in October caused widespread damage to production lines.

The attack appears to have been part of a wave of 35 drones Ukraine launched over the weekend in retaliation to a dawn attack by 70 Russian Shahed drones on Saturday.

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