Ukraine-Russia war latest: Elon Musk denies switching off Starlink to halt Ukrainian drone boat attack

A Ukrainian serviceman of the128th separate mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
A Ukrainian serviceman of the128th separate mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Credit: REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

Elon Musk has denied switching off Starlink satellite internet and called for an immediate truce between Russia and Ukraine. 

The 52-year-old South African-born billionaire had been accused of covertly instructing his engineers to deactivate the communications network during a major Ukrainian offensive.

They claimed it was part of a plan to thwart the secret attack, adding that Ukrainian submarine drones, armed with explosives, lost connectivity as they advanced towards Russian warships.

But Mr Musk denied the accusations on Twitter on Thursday. 

“The Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything,” he wrote. 

“Both sides should agree to a truce. Every day that passes, more Ukrainian and Russian youth die to gain and lose small pieces of land, with borders barely changing. This is not worth their lives.”

Satellite terminals donated by Mr Musk’s SpaceX, as well as the US government and private donors, have become vital to Ukrainian military communications.

One killed, dozens injured in Russian strikes on Ukraine

ussian missiles struck cities in central and eastern Ukraine Friday killing one person and injuring dozens of others, officials said.

In the central city of Kryvyi Rig, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown, a missile attack on a police building killed a policeman, Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said.

“Rescuers of the State Emergency Service pulled out three more from under the rubble. They are in serious condition,” he said.

A damaged building following an alledged Russian strike in the Kryvyi Rig Credit: AFP

Photos he shared from the scene showed smoke spewing from the ruins of the building as rescue workers carried an injured person to an ambulance.

Over 40 people were injured, the head of the city administration Oleksandr Vilkul said.

At least three people were injured after Russia also struck the city of Sumy in northeast Ukraine, officials said, while one man was injured by a rocket attack on Zaporizhzhia in the southeast.

UK trains Ukrainian surgeons

Ukrainian surgeons have attended a three-day reconstructive surgery course delivered by the UK’s Defence Medical Services (DMS), according to the Ministry of Defence. 

“The visiting surgeons learned modern reconstructive techniques to improve the functional recovery of patients back in Ukraine,” they said. 

Romania upgrades Black Sea port infrastructure to bring in more Ukrainian grain

Romania’s government will approve on Friday a plan to upgrade road infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Constanta, part of wider investments in the port which could help more Ukrainian grain to transit.

Constanta is Ukraine’s largest alternative export route, with grains arriving by road, rail or barge on the Danube.

Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters and Romanian government officials have said they aimed to double the monthly transit capacity of Ukrainian grain to Constanta to 4 million tonnes in the coming months.

The government has upgraded dozens of railroad lines connecting it to Ukraine, and works are under way on the Danube to enable more barges to pass, including by hiring more pilots and making navigation possible at night.

In Constanta Port, the transport ministry will use European Union funds to repair or reinforce existing infrastructure, build new roads, access ramps and roundabouts, as well as launch a digitized traffic management system, the draft project showed.

Russian strike kills one, injures nine in Ukraine's Kryvyi Rih

A Russian missile attack killed one person and wounded nine others on Friday morning in the southern Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, the regional governor said.

Serhiy Lysak said on the Telegram messaging app that the missile hit an administrative building.

EU has no immediate plans to ban Russian LNG, says Spain's Ribera

The European Union has no short-term plan to ban Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) despite soaring imports to the bloc, Spain’s energy minister said, citing fears of another price spike.

Russia’s energy revenue has fallen since western powers imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, but LNG still brings in billions of dollars.

“There is this feeling of scarcity and fear,” Spanish energy minister Teresa Ribera told Reuters, referring to Europe’s energy crisis last year.

Spain holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of December, enabling it to prioritise legislative decision-making.

Russia's FSB says it prevented "terrorist attack" in Crimea

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Friday it had prevented a “terrorist attack” at a railway transport facility in annexed Crimea.

It gave no immediate further details.

Russia holds elections in occupied Ukrainian regions in an effort to tighten its grip there

Russian authorities are holding local elections this weekend in occupied parts of Ukraine in an effort to tighten their grip on territories Moscow illegally annexed a year ago and still does not fully control.

The voting for Russian-installed legislatures in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions begins Friday and concludes Sunday. It has already been denounced by Kyiv and the West.

“It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, which Russia continues to disregard,” the Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body, said this week.

Kyiv echoed that sentiment, with the parliament saying in a statement that the balloting in areas where Russia “conducts active hostilities” poses a threat to Ukrainian lives. Lawmakers urged other countries not to recognize the results of the vote.

Russian blockade of Ukraine ports 'must stop'

Russia “must stop” its blockade of Ukrainian seaports after pulling out of a United Nations and Turkey-mediated deal to ensure grain shipments, the president of the European Council Charles Michel said Friday.

“It’s frankly scandalous that Russia, after having terminated the Black Sea grain initiative, is blocking and attacking Ukrainian ports. This must stop,” Mr Michel told reporters in India’s capital of New Delhi, ahead of a G20 summit.

Russia pulled out of the grain agreement in July after claiming that it had failed to fulfil the goal of relieving hunger in Africa.

Tensions have built in the region since, with Russia mounting attacks on Ukrainian export hubs and Kyiv’s forces targeting Moscow’s naval ports and warships.

The Kremlin has since asked Turkey to help Russia export its grain to African countries without any involvement from Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Moscow is just weeks away from supplying free grain to six African countries.