Ukraine war: Russia and US ‘discuss holding talks on nuclear weapons’ – as Putin’s troops ‘prepare for street fighting’

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Russia and the US are reportedly discussing holding talks on strategic nuclear weapons for the first time since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine.

Talks between the two countries on strategic stability have been frozen since Vladimir Putin‘s forces invaded Ukraine eight months ago – even as the New Start treaty on nuclear arms reduction stays in effect.

Now, Russian newspaper Kommersant said the talks may take place in the Middle East, adding that Moscow no longer views Switzerland, the traditional venue, as neutral after it imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has accused Russia of looting empty homes in the southern city of Kherson – as well as occupying them with troops in civilian clothes to prepare for street fighting.

Ukraine’s military said Russian forces, “disguised in civilian clothes, occupy the premises of civilians and strengthen positions inside for conducting street battles”.

It said in an update on Monday that Russian forces were “involved in looting and theft from residents and from infrastructure sites and are taking away equipment, food and vehicles to the Russian Federation”.

Russia has ordered civilians out of Kherson in recent days, in anticipation of a Ukrainian assault to recapture it.

It comes as the city, which has a population of about 300,000, has been left cold and dark following a power and water cut to the surrounding area over the past 48 hours, according to both sides.

Russian officials blamed Ukrainian “sabotage” for the power cuts, while Ukrainian officials said the Russians had dismantled 1.5km of power lines.

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Russia lacks ‘air superiority’

Elsewhere, about 100 disabled children were moved from a medical facility in Dnipriany in the Kherson region to the Moscow area, Ukraine’s military said.

Patients from an elderly people’s home in Kakhovka were also being moved as Russian forces are taking over those facilities, it said.

Ukrainian forces around the recently liberated village of Nova Kamyanka in the Kherson region counted four Russian air strikes in the vicinity.

Recapturing Kherson has been the main focus of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south, which has accelerated since the start of October.

Other key developments:
• Ukraine has received its first delivery of NASAMS and Apside air defence systems, the country’s defence minister said
• North Korea denies having arms dealings with Russia after the US said it appeared to be supplying the Kremlin with artillery shells
• Putin said 50,000 Russian soldiers called up as part of his mobilisation drive were now fighting with combat units in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reported
• Russia’s defence ministry took the rare step of denying allegations that a naval infantry unit had suffered disastrous losses of men and equipment in a futile offensive in eastern Ukraine

Read more:
What are Iranian kamikaze drones and will the US send the deadly MQ-9 Reaper?
Why Ukraine is different from conflicts in earlier decades
Meet the Georgian Legion joining the fight against Russia’s invasion

Firefighters work at the scene of a damaged residential building after Russian shelling in the liberated Lyman, Donetsk region
Firefighters work at the scene of a damaged residential building after Russian shelling in the liberated Lyman, Donetsk region

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that the Donetsk region in the east remained the “epicentre” of the fighting, claiming hundreds of Russians are being killed every day.

The towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donetsk region are understood to be suffering the heaviest fighting.

In his nightly address on Monday, Mr Zelenskyy added that Russia should be forced to participate in “genuine” peace talks.

Russia has faced major setbacks in the east and south in recent months, and lost all the territories it captured in northern Ukraine in the weeks after the February invasion.

President Putin has responded by calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists and announcing the annexation of occupied lands.

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