Russia-Ukraine war live: US sees ‘reduced tempo’ in conflict; Russia will not accept oil price cap | Ukraine

US expects reduced tempo in fighting to continue for next few months

The top US intelligence chief says despite attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical winter infrastructure, she sees no evidence of a reduced Ukrainian will to resist and expects the reduced tempo in fighting to continue in the next several months.

“We’re seeing a kind of a reduced tempo already of the conflict … and we expect that’s likely to be what we see in the coming months,” Avril Haines told the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

She said both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries would be looking to try to refit and resupply to prepare for a counter-offensive after the winter, but there was a question as to what that would look like, and added:

“We actually have a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be in fact prepared to do that. I think more optimistically for the Ukrainians in that timeframe.”

Asked about the effects of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and other civilian infrastructure, Haines said Moscow’s aim was partly to undermine the will of Ukrainians to resist, and added: “I think we’re not seeing any evidence of that being undermined right now at this point.”

Key events

Ukraine slaps sanctions on senior clerics in pro-Moscow church

Reuters reports Ukraine is imposing sanctions on 10 senior clerics linked to a pro-Moscow church on the grounds they agreed to work with Russian occupation authorities or justified Moscow’s invasion, the security service said.

The announcement made on Saturday is the latest in a series of steps against a Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox church linked historically to Moscow. The Orthodox church in Russia itself backs the war.

In a statement, the security services said the 10 clerics had variously agreed to cooperate with occupation authorities, promoted pro-Russian narratives and justified Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

Most of the clerics – all either members of the church or closely linked to it – live in territories controlled by Russia or are abroad, the service said.

“The Security Service of Ukraine continues to carry out comprehensive work on the protection of Ukrainian statehood and will continue to expose persons who threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” it said.

The Ukrainian branch formally severed ties with the Russian Orthodox church last May, but is still mistrusted by many Ukrainians and accused of secret co-operation with Russia.

Zelenskiy says level of price cap on Russia oil won’t deter Russia

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has reacted to a deal struck by the G7 and Australia setting a $60 price cap on Russian seaborne oil, calling it not serious and doing little to deter Russia from waging war.

The price cap on Russian seaborne oil was adopted by the G7 and Australia, after it was agreed by EU countries. The measure aims to reduce Russia’s income from selling oil and limit a key source of funding for its war in Ukraine, while preventing a spike in global prices.

“You wouldn’t call it a serious decision to set such a limit for Russian prices, which is quite comfortable for the budget of a terrorist state,” Zelenskiy said in a video address on Saturday.

“It’s only a matter of time before stronger tools will have to be used anyway. It is a pity that this time will be lost.”

Russia has repeatedly said it will not supply oil to countries that implement the cap, and responded to the deal by reiterating it “will not accept” the cap and is analysing how to respond.

The G7 price cap will allow non-EU countries to continue importing seaborne Russian crude oil, but it will prohibit shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for less than $60.

That could complicate the shipment of Russian crude priced above the cap, even to countries which are not part of the agreement.

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen said the cap will particularly benefit low- and medium-income countries that have borne the brunt of high energy and food prices.

US expects reduced tempo in fighting to continue for next few months

The top US intelligence chief says despite attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical winter infrastructure, she sees no evidence of a reduced Ukrainian will to resist and expects the reduced tempo in fighting to continue in the next several months.

“We’re seeing a kind of a reduced tempo already of the conflict … and we expect that’s likely to be what we see in the coming months,” Avril Haines told the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

She said both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries would be looking to try to refit and resupply to prepare for a counter-offensive after the winter, but there was a question as to what that would look like, and added:

“We actually have a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be in fact prepared to do that. I think more optimistically for the Ukrainians in that timeframe.”

Asked about the effects of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and other civilian infrastructure, Haines said Moscow’s aim was partly to undermine the will of Ukrainians to resist, and added: “I think we’re not seeing any evidence of that being undermined right now at this point.”

Welcome and summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Christine Kearney and I’ll be with you for the next while.

US intelligence say they’re expecting the reduced tempo in fighting in Ukraine to continue in the next several months.

The US director of national intelligence said on Saturday she sees no evidence of a reduced Ukrainian will to resist, despite attacks on its power grid and other critical winter infrastructure.

In addition, she said both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries would be looking to try to refit and resupply to prepare for a counter-offensive after the winter, but there was a question as to what that would look like.

More on this shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key recent developments:

  • Russia “will not accept” a price cap on its oil and is analysing how to respond, the Kremlin said in comments reported on Saturday, in response to a deal by western powers aimed at limiting a key source of funding for its war in Ukraine. The price cap on Russian seaborne oil was adopted by the G7 and Australia, after it was agreed by EU countries.

  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the $60 price cap on seaborne Russian oil is not serious and will do little to deter Russia from waging war in Ukraine. “It’s only a matter of time before stronger tools will have to be used anyway. It is a pity that this time will be lost,” he said in a video statement on Saturday.

  • US treasury secretary Janet Yellen said the cap will particularly benefit low- and medium-income countries that have borne the brunt of high energy and food prices. “The price cap will immediately cut into (President Vladimir) Putin’s most important source of revenue,” Yellen said in a statement.

  • Russia’s embassy in the US criticised what it called the “dangerous” western move and said Moscow would continue to find buyers for its oil.

  • US defense secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday accused Russia of “deliberate cruelty” in its war in Ukraine, saying Moscow was intentionally targeting civilians. “With deliberate cruelty, Russia is putting civilians and civilian targets in its gunsights,” Austin told the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

  • Ukraine is slapping sanctions on 10 senior clerics linked to a pro-Moscow church on the grounds they agreed to work with Russian occupation authorities or justified Moscow’s invasion, the security service said on Saturday. The announcement is the latest in a series of steps against a Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church linked historically to Moscow. The Orthodox Church in Russia itself backs the war.

  • Eighteen Ukrainian diplomatic missions in 12 countries have received bloody packages, including animal parts, in what Ukraine has described as a “campaign of terror and intimidation”. Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson from Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said the packages were simultaneously sent from one European country, which he could not disclose while the investigation was ongoing.

  • The west should consider how to address Russia’s need for security guarantees if Vladimir Putin agrees to negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said. He said Europe needed to address Putin’s fear that “Nato comes right up to its doors”, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia, as Europe prepares its future security architecture, Reuters reports.

  • The Ukrainian army has recaptured 13 settlements in the Luhansk region, the eastern-most oblast in the country, according to the head of the regional administration, Serhiy Haidai. He said that artillery was still being fired at the villages by Russian forces. Doctors are due to visit next week and firewood is being organised for residents, Haidai posted on Telegram.

  • Russian forces are concentrating most of their strength on taking the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk, according to the British Ministry of Defence.

  • Ukraine has detained eight people over the theft of a mural painted by the elusive British street artist Banksy from a wall in the Kyiv suburbs, authorities said. The stencil image of a person in a nightgown and gas mask holding a fire extinguisher next to the charred remains of a window in the town of Hostomel went missing on Friday, they said.