Ukraine war live updates: Russia unleashes drone and missile attack on Ukraine; war becomes key topic for Russian school kids

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and basic military training for older pupils have become a key part of the country’s new school curriculum, according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense.

“Russia’s new school year has begun with a new curriculum incorporating both military skills and the Kremlin’s view of the history of Ukraine,” the ministry said on Wednesday in its latest analysis on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter.

It noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally held an open lesson with 30 schoolchildren on the first day of term.

“Topics in the updated national history exam include Crimean reunification with Russia and the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine. Russia’s parliament approved the curriculum last year,” the ministry noted.

“The new curriculum serves three objectives: to indoctrinate students with the Kremlin rationale for the ‘Special Military Operation’, instil students with a martial mindset, and reduce training timelines for onwards mobilisation and deployment,” the ministry added.

A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a page of the chapter “Russia Today – The Special Military Operation” in the newly published textbook for school children entitled “History of Russia 1945 – the start of 21st Century” in this illustration picture taken August 10, 2023. 

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

One element of the new curriculum is called the “Basics of Life Safety” and is aimed towards older students. It includes a basic military training module that covers the handling of Kalashnikovs, the use of hand grenades, uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, and battlefield first aid, the ministry said, adding that pupils may also be visited by Ukraine veterans.

“The introduction of UAV operations indicates their evolving importance on the battlefield and the lessons learnt about these systems directly from the conflict in Ukraine,” the U.K. defense ministry added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine was attacked with a barrage of drones and missiles overnight, officials said, with the capital Kyiv and the southern port of Odesa among the targets.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s air force said on Telegram that its air defenses destroyed 23 out of 33 air and ground-launched missiles and attack drones that were used against the country, according to a Google translation.

“A total of 33 enemy air targets were recorded: seven air-based Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 missiles launched from nine Tu-95ms strategic bombers from the Engels area, one Iskander-M ballistic missile, 25 Shahed-136/131 attack UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] launched from the south-eastern and southern directions.”

Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv city military administration, said the capital Kyiv was attacked by cruise missiles and, potentially, by ballistic missiles.

“The attack is not simple, but combined,” Popko said on Telegram, according to a Google translation. “Preliminary, from the Saratov region, the Russian Tu-95MS strategic aviation aircraft fired cruise missiles of the Kh-101/555/55 type. At the same time, missiles of a different type, probably ballistic, were launched over Kyiv.”

The sun rises behind the houses of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on February 24, 2023, the first anniversary of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

He said the missiles had been destroyed, and no injuries or damage to infrastructure were recorded as yet.

Oleg Kiper, the head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration said that the southern port was attacked by Russian drones for almost three hours. One person was wounded and died during the attacks, he said on Telegram.

“Destruction and fires were recorded in several settlements. Portside and agricultural infrastructure facilities were damaged: elevators, administrative buildings, agricultural enterprises,” Kiper said in Google-translated comments. Air alerts continued in the city this morning.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information in the posts.

— Holly Ellyatt

Cuban officials have detected, and are now working to dismantle, a human trafficking network within Russia attempting to get Cuban citizens to participate in military operations in Ukraine, Cuba’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a press release.

Cuban citizens living in Cuba were also targeted, the ministry said, and criminal proceedings have started against people who were involved.

“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine. It is acting and it will firmly act against those who within the national territory participate in any form of human trafficking for mercenarism or recruitment purposes so that Cuban citizens may raise weapons against any country,” the ministry wrote in the statement.

The Russian ministry of foreign affairs did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

The return of American nuclear weapons to the U.K. will be perceived by Moscow as an “escalatory step,” according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, as compiled and translated by NBC News.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the U.S. may be looking to house American nuclear weapons in the U.K., according to the Federation of American Scientists, who listed a location around 100 kilometers away from the capital, London, as the planned dormitory.

Atomic bombs had been stored at the Lakenheath Royal Air Force base from 1954, before they were removed in 2008, according to the Federation.

Protesters gather outside the air force base behind a large ‘No Nukes in Britain’ banner on November 19, 2022 in Lakenheath, England.

Martin Pope | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Zakharova described the move as “leading exactly in the opposite direction from the solution of the urgent task of withdrawing all US nuclear weapons from European countries, where they are deployed in the framework of the so-called NATO joint nuclear missions.”

Moscow also regards the West’s plans to expand weapons production in Ukraine as further confirmation of its involvement in the war between Russian and Ukraine. Zakharova said the Kremlin “paid attention” to announcements by the likes of Rheinmetall and subsidiaries of BAE Systems to assist in maintaining equipment for Ukraine’s armed forces.

“We consider such intentions as another confirmation of the Western ruling circles and military-industrial complex’s direct involvement in the conflict and support for the criminal Kiev regime,” she added.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Sergei Surovikin, the former commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, seen here in 2021.

Mikhail Metzel | Afp | Getty Images

A photo has emerged online that appears to show Russian General Sergei Surovikin, a top military figure who was regarded as an ally of Yevgeny Prigozhin, alive and in public.

Surovikin had not been since since Prigozhin’s failed mutiny in June, prompting speculation that he had been detained for his links to the ill-fated mercenary boss. Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary Wagner Group, died last month in a plane crash.

The general’s last public appearance was on the day of the rebellion itself as he called on Prigozhin to turn back as he and a band of Wagner mercenaries headed to Moscow. The rebellion was seen as the culmination of a long-running dispute between Prigozhin and Russia’s defense ministry.

On Monday, however, a photo was posted on Telegram by Russian media personality Ksenia Sobchak purportedly of Surovikin and his wife. NBC News was unable to authenticate the image.

“General Sergei Surovikin is out. Alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow. Photo taken today,” Sobchak wrote in a caption on the picture on Telegram.

The general was reportedly arrested in June and then dismissed as the head of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in August, according to the Moscow Times.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that Surovikin appeared to have been freed but cited unnamed U.S. officials as saying it was not clear if his movement was restricted.

The Kremlin and Russian defense ministry have refused to answer reporters’ questions on the whereabouts and role of Surovikin now.

Surovikin had been appointed to lead Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine last October, and was credited for spearheading the building of deep lines of Russian defenses on occupied territory ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. The defensive lines have proved a hard obstacle for Ukraine to overcome.

Surovikin was replaced by Putin loyalist General Valery Gerasimov in January 2023, with speculation that he was replaced because he had become too powerful.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu (R) during the annual Navy Day Parade on July 30, 2023, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed Tuesday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had been unsuccessful, but acknowledged the situation was tense in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, where Ukraine’s forces claimed to have broken through a first layer of Russian defenses.

“The Kiev [Russia uses this spelling for the Ukrainian capital] regime, despite colossal losses, has been trying to conduct a so-called counter-offensive for three months now. The Ukrainian armed forces did not achieve their goals in any of the directions,” Shoigu said during a conference call to Russian defense officials, a statement released by the Ministry of Defense said.

Shoigu added that the Ukrainian leadership was “desperately trying to demonstrate to Western curators at least some success of offensive actions in order to further receive military-economic assistance, which only prolongs the conflict.”

The minister said the “most tense situation” had developed in the Zaporizhzhia area, saying Ukraine had “brought into battle brigades from the strategic reserve, whose personnel were trained under the guidance of Western instructors.”

Last weekend, Ukrainian officials said their units had broken through the first (and toughest) line of Russian defenses in the Zaporizhzhia area as they aim to push southwards toward Melitopol and Berdiansk and cut Russia’s so-called “land bridge” to occupied Crimea.

Ukraine has seen few territorial gains since launching its counteroffensive in June. Deep lines of Russian defenses, built in the winter and spring in the lead up to the counteroffensive, have proven tricky to surmount. It’s hoped in Kyiv that momentum will build following the recent breakthrough in the south.

— Holly Ellyatt

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