Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s address to US senators cancelled at last minute; Vladimir Putin makes rare trip abroad since international arrest warrant issued
Volodymyr Zelenskiy cancelled a planned address to US senators on Tuesday, with the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, announcing the president would not be able to attend the classified briefing because “something came up at the last minute”. The Ukrainian president had been expected to speak to senators over Zoom. The news came a day after the White House sent an urgent warning that Kyiv’s war efforts to defend itself from Russia’s invasion may grind to a halt without further US military and economic assistance. The Biden administration is urging Congress to approve billions of dollars in support for Ukraine. Schumer said the administration had invited Zelenskiy to address the senators so they “could hear directly from him precisely what’s at stake”. “If Ukraine falls, Putin will keep on going,” Schumer said on Monday. “Autocrats around the world will be emboldened. Democracy, this grand and noble experiment, will enter an era of decline.”
Vladimir Putin will travel to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on a rare overseas trip to discuss the Israel-Hamas war as Moscow seeks to reassert Russia’s role in the Middle East. The Russian president is making only his fifth trip abroad since the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for him in March that accused him of responsibility for the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia have signed the ICC’s founding treaty, which means they would not have to arrest him.
Six children will be returned to Ukraine from Russia under a deal brokered by Qatar, according to a Qatari official. The children are en route to Ukraine via Moscow, the source said. This is the second phase of a Qatar-mediated return of children, after four minors were returned in October.
British foreign secretary David Cameron has told the House of Lords that there will be no reduction in UK military support for Ukraine in 2024. The update comes after the White House warned that “it is weeks away from running out of money to support Kyiv’s defence against Russia’s invasion”.
At least two people were killed and one wounded after Russian forces struck the southern city of Kherson, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency said. Regional prosecutors opened a war crimes investigation into one of the strikes, which occurred at about 9am and killed a 48-year-old man and a woman who had not yet been identified.
Russia claims it downed dozens of Ukrainian drones on Tuesday. Russian air defence systems destroyed or intercepted a total of 41 Ukraine-launched drones, the Russian defence ministry has said.
Ukraine’s military shot down 10 out of 17 attack drones launched on Tuesday by Russia, Ukrainian authorities said. The governor of Ukraine’s western Lviv region, Maksym Kozytskyy, said three drones had struck an unspecified infrastructure target, causing a fire, but damage had been minimal and no casualties had been reported.