🔴 Live: Russian forces may advance to Kyiv or Lviv, ex-president Medvedev says

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Russian forces may have to advance as far as Kyiv or Lviv in Ukraine to “destroy this infection”, the country’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian news agencies on Friday. His comments come as Ukraine prepares an expected counteroffensive. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

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11:42am: Kremlin says important to identify object found next to Nord Stream pipeline

The Kremlin on Friday said it was important to identify an object discovered next to one of the Nord Stream pipelines, and said the ongoing investigation into blasts that struck the pipelines last September must be conducted with full transparency.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters it was a positive sign that Denmark had invited the Russian-controlled operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to help salvage an unidentified object found close to the Baltic Sea pipelines. “It’s certainly positive news when the owner of the pipeline is invited to take part in very important phases of the investigation,” he said.

Last week, Danish authorities said a tubular object, protruding around 40 cm (16 inches) from the seabed and 10 cm in diameter, had been found during an inspection of the last remaining intact Nord Stream pipeline by its operator, Nord Stream 2 AG.

“It is critically important to determine what kind of object it is, whether it is related to this terrorist act   apparently it is  and to continue this investigation. And this investigation must be transparent,” Peskov added.

Three of the four pipelines of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas links were hit in a still-unexplained explosion last September.

11:36am: Russia says use of depleted uranium shells in Ukraine would harm the population

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday that the use of depleted uranium shells in Ukraine would harm Ukrainian troops, the wider population and negatively affect the country’s agriculture sector, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia reacted furiously to plans outlined by Britain earlier this week to send shells containing depleted uranium to Ukraine.

London says they are a conventional form of ammunition, while President Vladimir Putin said the move showed NATO members were sending weapons with a “nuclear component” to Kyiv.

11:29am: Russian wanted by US goes missing in Italy

The son of a senior Russian official arrested in Italy at Washington’s request disappeared the day after a court approved his extradition to the United States, media reports said.

Following his arrest at Milan Malpensa Airport on October 17, Artyom Uss was held at his residence near Milan but required to wear an electronic bracelet.

US authorities accuse Uss, the son of a Siberian governor, of having illegally sold US technologies to Russian arms companies.

On Tuesday, an Italian court agreed to his extradition to the United States – but the following day, he disappeared, media reports said. According to La Repubblica newspaper, police checked on Uss early Wednesday but around lunchtime his electronic bracelet sounded the alarm, and he has not been seen since

10:09am: ‘We don’t want direct conflict with NATO’, says Russia’s Medvedev

Russian ex-President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that Russia was not planning to enter into a direct conflict with NATO and was interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis through talks, the Interfax news agency reported.

However, he warned that any Ukrainian attempt to take the Crimean peninsula – which Moscow annexed in 2014 – would be grounds for Russia to use “absolutely any weapon” against Kyiv in response.

9:46am: Several civilians killed in overnight Russian attacks in northern and eastern Ukraine

Overnight Russian missile strikes and shelling killed at least seven civilians in northern and eastern Ukraine, regional officials said.

Emergency services said five civilians were killed in Kostiantynivka in the eastern region of Donetsk region, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said two were killed and seven wounded following intense shelling of Bilopillia in the northern region of Sumy.

9:35am: Russian officer sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for desertation

A Russian security officer who fled the country because he objected to the invasion of Ukraine has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in high-security prison, the Taiga.info news website reported on Friday.

Federal Protective Service Major Mikhail Zhilin, 36, fled to Kazakhstan last year when Russia announced a conscription campaign, illegally crossing the border through woods while his wife and children drove through a checkpoint. Zhilin sought refugee status in the former Soviet republic but his request was denied and authorities there stopped him from leaving for Armenia.

Kazakhstan handed him over to Russia late last year, leading to the rare conviction of an officer for desertion.

According to Taiga.info, a court in the city of Barnaul found Zhilin, who had worked on communications at a security facility in Siberia, guilty of deserting and illegal border crossing and, in addition to the prison term, stripped him of his officer rank.

7:19am: Russian forces may advance to Kyiv or Lviv, Medvedev says

Russian forces may have to advance as far as Kyiv or Lviv in Ukraine to “destroy this infection”, the country’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian news agencies.

“Nothing can be ruled out here. If you need to get to Kyiv, then you need to go to Kyiv, if to Lviv, then you need to go to Lviv in order to destroy this infection,” RIA Novosti quoted Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, as saying.

1:47am: Ukraine prepares counteroffensive

Ukrainian troops will soon counterattack as Russia’s offensive looks to be faltering, a commander said, noting Russia’s Wagner mercenaries “are losing considerable strength and are running out of steam”.

“Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” Kyiv’s ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a social media post.

There was no immediate response from Moscow to suggestions its forces in Bakhmut were losing momentum, but Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin issued statements in recent days warning of a Ukrainian counterassault.

On Monday, Prigozhin published a letter to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, saying Ukraine aimed to cut off Wagner’s forces from Russia’s regular troops.

Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine
Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP and AP)