Ukraine-Russia war: First US Abrams tank seen on battleground

The Abrams tank is seen in a green camouflage at an unidentified location in Ukraine
The Abrams tank is seen in a green camouflage at an unidentified location in Ukraine - @OSINTtechnical

An American-made Abrams tank has been seen on the front-line in Ukraine for the first time, images circulated from Ukraine suggest.

Photos emerged on social media of four Ukrainian soldiers appearing to pose on top of an Abrams painted in green camouflage.

The US delivered 31 M1A1 Abrams to Kyiv in September but they have not been seen in action yet, with lighter Western-donated Bradleys and Leopards being used more often instead.

Ukrainian soldiers have been trained by the US Army to operate the Abrams, which were used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More of the tanks are likely being held back until weather conditions improve, analysts say.

Ukraine has not commented on the photo.

03:10 PM GMT

That is all for today

Thank you for following today’s live blog. Come back again tomorrow for all the latest developments in the war in Ukraine.

03:09 PM GMT

Today's headlines

  • A Russian tank factory was rocked by a mystery explosion overnight

  • More than 2,000 Ukrainian cities, towns and villages were left without power this morning amid freezing temperatures, high winds and heavy snowstorms

  • Two million people were left without power in Russia and occupied Ukraine by the storm

  • Russia advanced near the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, the ISW said

  • Volodymyr Zelensky hailed soldiers and rescuers saving lives and fighting in brutal weather

  • Russia has been forced to move anti-air defences from its Baltic enclave Kaliningrad to “backfill recent losses on the Ukraine front”, the MoD said

  • Russia has activated a network of sleeper spies to cripple Ukraine from within, SBU spy chief Oleksiy Danilov said

  • The SBU later walked back the claims, saying Mr Danilov had been “misinterpreted”

  • The Abrams tank was spotted on the front-line in Ukraine for the first time

03:03 PM GMT

What weapons does Ukraine have?

Since the outbreak of war in February 2022, The Telegraph has been tracking donations and deliveries of weapons to Ukraine – including the Abrams tank

Our correspondents have reported on their use on the battlefield and our experts have analysed their effectiveness.

Our catalogue of weapons being used in Ukraine can be found here.

02:58 PM GMT

Analysis: Why the Ukrainians have used the Leopard more than the Abrams

The United States agreed to provide Ukraine with the Abrams tank at the same time as Germany agreed to supply Leopard tanks.

But the Leopards have been used much more often so far.

Although they may be the most advanced of a new wave of armoured vehicles heading to the battlefield, they come with a number of challenges that have limited the speed of their rollout onto the front-lines.

Read why in this analysis by Dominic Nicholls, our Associate Editor (Defence).

02:54 PM GMT

What is the M1 Abrams tank?

The Abrams is an advanced battle tank with a 120mm cannon and a .50 calibre machine gun.

But Abrams require a high level of maintenance and are powered by a jet-like turbine engine.

The logistical challenges it poses were cited as reasons not to send them to Ukraine, but Germany refused to send Leopards without them.

Read our full guide to the M1 Abrams here.

02:47 PM GMT

'Three homeless Ukrainians found frozen to death' in Odesa

Three Ukrainians have been found frozen to death in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, police have said.

Two men and a woman are believed to have died in the severe cold weather that is battering the Black Sea.

Dumska, a local newspaper, said they are believed to have been homeless.

02:36 PM GMT

Ukrainian soldiers charged for selling army rations

A number of Ukrainian soldiers have been charged for selling army rations for private gain, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation has announced.

The military officials are accused of stealing 30 per cent of the supplies in a warehouse and selling them on in shops, restaurants and markets.

They are also accused of a second scheme where they issued invoices for non-existent supplies.

Together, the two schemes led to the embezzlement of £109,000 ($138,000) in public funds.

A businessman has also been charged. The detainees face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

02:20 PM GMT

Russian tank factory hit by mystery explosion

A mystery explosion rocked a Russian tank factory which produces engines and artillery for the war in Ukraine.

Online footage showed a fireball engulfing the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant in Chelyabinsk, a city near the border with Kazakhstan.

The factory is under sanctions from the Ukraine and the US as “an enterprise specialising in the production of diesel engines for military equipment”.

Ukraine has not commented but if responsible, it would be its furthest attack behind enemy lines of the war so far.

But Russian officials have insisted the huge blaze was caused by a short circuit.

01:44 PM GMT

Map: Where the tank factory explosion happened

01:43 PM GMT

Pictured: Abrams tank in Ukraine

An Abrams tank has been pictured in Ukrainian service for the first time after receiving a shipment of 31 from the US in September.

12:50 PM GMT

Ukrainian partisans blow up Chechen fighters near Melitopol

Ukrainian partisans blew up Chechen fighters as they drove through occupied Ukrainian territory near Melitopol over the weekend.

Ivan Fedorov, the city’s exiled mayor, said the car was engulfed in flames but did not confirm the number of Chechens killed.

Melitopol, a city with a pre-war population of about 150,000 people, has been occupied since March 2022.

12:22 PM GMT

Spy chief comments were 'misinterpreted', says Ukraine

Comments made by Ukrainian spy chief Oleksiy Danilov have been misinterpreted, the SBU secret service has insisted.

Mr Danilov said in an interview with the Times that a network of Russian sleeper agents has been activated inside Ukraine’s secret service and other institutions.

But the SBU has now insisted it is able to “neutralise” agents and “does everything possible to ensure that enemy networks are entirely eradicated”.

“We emphasise that some of the accents voiced today in the media regarding the activation of the network of spies within the Ukrainian special service do not correspond to reality and are a manifestation of the incorrect interpretation of words of the head of the National Security and Defenсe Council,” it said in a statement to Ukrainska Pravda.

12:07 PM GMT

Nato: Ukraine inflicting 'heavy losses' on Russia as fighting intensifies

Ukraine is inflicting “heavy losses” on Russia in recent weeks amid some of the most intense fighting “seen throughout the whole war”, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said.

“We see high casualty numbers and some of the most intense fightings that we have seen throughout the whole war has actually taken place over the last weeks and couple of months,” he said.

“Again we are impressed by the bravery, the competence of the Ukrainian forces, and also their ability to actually strike behind the Russian lines, deep into Russian-controlled territory.

“And of course military achievements can partly be measured in square metres but also on the losses you are able to inflict on your adversary.”

He added: “Of course we would like them to liberate as much territory as possible as quickly as possible, but even though the frontline has not moved, Ukrainians have been able to inflict heavy losses on the Russian invaders.”

11:57 AM GMT

Russia intensely attacking Avdiivka and Robotnye, Ukraine says

Russia is intensely attacking the eastern town of Avdiivka and the southern village of Robotnye, the Ukrainian army has said.

Russian soldiers have launched “more than 150” attacks on Ukrainian positions in villages around Avdiivka, an industrial hub in Donetsk that appears to be almost encircled by the Russians.

The army did not say if it had gained or lost any ground there.

In the south, Kyiv said Russian forces had “conducted around 20 attempts to restore lost positions near Robotyne of the Zaporizhzhia region, but gained no success.”

Ukraine recaptured the village in August and Russia has been attempting to retake it ever since.

11:45 AM GMT

Ukrainian positions on left bank of Dnipro 'stable', say Russian bloggers

Ukrainian positions on the left bank of the Dnipro river are “stable”, a military blogger closed to the Russian army has said.

“The Russian army with the help of the artillery counter-attacked in Krynky and got back part of their positions,” the WarGonzo Telegram account said.

“But the foothold of the Ukrainian army in this village remains quite stable.”

Ukraine established a foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro earlier this month.

11:34 AM GMT

Two million in Russia and occupied Ukraine without power

Almost two million people have been left without power in Russia and occupied Ukraine after a severe storm, Moscow’s energy ministry has said.

“About 1.9million people remained without power supply as of 10am Moscow time due to unfavourable weather conditions,” it said in a statement.

It listed the Russian regions of Dagestan, Krasnodar and Rostov and the occupied Ukrainian territories of Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Three people have now been confirmed dead in the storms, state news agency Tass added.

11:22 AM GMT

Putin sending more Russians to die than ever before, says Shapps

Vladimir Putin is “senselessly sending more Russians to die than at any time since the war began”, Britain’s defence secretary Grant Shapps has said.

“Ukrainian bravery and western support is holding back their advance, but we cannot be complacent,” he said.

“Ukraine needs our unwavering support to fight and win.”

His remarks came after the Ministry of Defence said Russian casualties have soared to 931 per day this month, up from a peak of 776 earlier this year during the assault on Bakhmut.

10:58 AM GMT

Man dies after going out to watch storm in occupied Crimea

A man has died in occupied Crimea after going out to watch the storm that has swept over the Black Sea.

“The man went out to look at the waves and, unfortunately, tragically died,” Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the region’s Russian-installed governor Sergei Aksyonov, said on state television.

How exactly the man died has not been disclosed.

Mr Kryuchkov added that 425,000 people remain without electricity and 500 trees have fallen down.

10:38 AM GMT

Russia 'activates sleeper spy network to cripple Ukraine from within'

Russia has activated a network of sleeper spies to cripple Ukraine from within, SBU spy chief Oleksiy Danilov has said.

“They realise they cannot win this militarily so attempts at internal destabilisation have become the priority,” Mr Danilov told the Times, adding that the spies were spreading “false narratives” to exploit “so-called tensions” between Volodymyr Zelensky and army chief Valery Zaluzhny.

He also said there were “traitors” within Ukraine’s security services left over from the Soviet period and the pro-Russia presidency of Viktor Yanukovych between 2010 and 2014.

“We made a big mistake in 1991 when we didn’t close down the KGB but just changed its name to SBU and the metastases of the KGB remained,” he said.

“We are all adults here. Unfortunately, we recognise that we have not been able to clean up all of the security systems. So of course there are traitors that exist there.

“The fact that there is an ongoing trial over Oleh Kulinich [the former head of the SBU in Crimea] on charges of high treason is a solid proof of that.”

10:13 AM GMT

I will never leave Avdiivka, says embattled resident

Retiree Oleksandre Makarov, 65, is one of the few Ukrainians who remain in the embattled city of Avdiivka, AFP reports.

A former employee from the town’s coking plant, he lives in a nine-storey block in the Khimik district, survives on humanitarian aid packages and has a wood stove to keep warm and cook.

The situation in Avdiivka has worsened since October 10, he said, when it started to come under heavy bombardment.

But, he said he wants to stay, “because this is where I come from”.

“I studied in Donetsk... I was sent to work in Avdiivka,” Mr Makarov said.

“Where am I going to find another flat? With what money?”

09:45 AM GMT

Half a million without power in occupied Crimea

Half a million people are without power in occupied Crimea after heavy storms overnight.

Russian state news agency Tass report that roads have been flooded, powerlines downed and one person killed.

Hospitals, schools and government offices are closed today as the bad weather continues.

Wind speeds have reached a high of 90 mph, Tatyana Lyubetskaya, a Russia-installed official at the Crimean environmental monitoring department, told Tass.

09:30 AM GMT

MoD: Russia casualties surge in Avdiivka assault

Russian casualties have surged as it continues its assault on Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the MoD said Ukraine’s estimates of Russia’s daily casualties have increased from 776 in March to 931 this month.

“Although Defence Intelligence cannot verify the methodology, taken as a total including both killed and wounded, the figures are plausible,” it said.

“The last six weeks have likely seen some of the highest Russian casualty rates of the war so far.

“The heavy losses have largely been caused by Russia’s offensive against the Donbas town of Avdiivka.”

09:08 AM GMT

Storm has cut 2,000 settlements off from power, says Ukraine

More than 2,000 Ukrainian cities, towns and villages are without power this morning amid freezing temperatures, high winds and heavy snowstorms.

“In total, 2,019 settlements in 16 regions are cut off from the grid,” the interior ministry said.

At least 1,370 cargo trucks were stuck and 840 cars had to be towed away because of snow drifts up to two metres high, minister Ihor Klymenko added.

Authorities in the southern city of Odesa have had to free 1,624 people who were snowed in.

Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, said early on Monday that it had been able to restore power to nearly 250 settlements.

Volodymyr Zelensky said last night that around 400 settlements had been cut off, meaning the number of power cuts increased fivefold overnight.

09:00 AM GMT

In pictures: The Ukrainian frontline

Ukrainian soldier is seen with his dog in a trench near Gorlivka in Donetsk
Ukrainian soldier is seen with his dog in a trench near Gorlivka in Donetsk - Diego Herrera Carcedo
The bearded Ukrainians are settling in for a long and cold winter at the front
The bearded Ukrainians are settling in for a long and cold winter at the front - Diego Herrera Carcedo
Ukraine's 56th brigade fires a mortar towards Russian positions near Bakhmut
Ukraine's 56th brigade fires a mortar towards Russian positions near Bakhmut - Madeleine Kelly

08:47 AM GMT

MoD: 'Overstretched' Russia forced to move anti-air from Kaliningrad

Russia has been forced to move anti-air defences from its Baltic enclave Kaliningrad to “backfill recent losses on the Ukraine front”, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In a defence intelligence briefing, the MoD said the move follows “an uptick in losses of SA-21” surface-to-air missile systems in October.

“As its most westerly outpost and bordered on three sides by NATO member states, Russia sees Kaliningrad as one of its most strategically sensitive regions,” it said.

“The fact that the Russian MoD appears willing to accept additional risk here highlights the overstretch the war has caused for some of Russia’s key, modern capabilities.”

08:30 AM GMT

Zaluzhny should be sacked, says MP from Zelensky's party

Valery Zaluzhny should be sacked, an MP from Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party has said.

Mariana Bezuhla, who is deputy head of parliament’s national security committee, said the Ukrainian army’s commander-in-chief had not drawn up a plan for next year’s fighting.

If the military leadership can’t provide any plan for 2024, and if all their proposals for mobilization boil down to needing more people without any proposal for changes in the military system, then this leadership should step down,” she said.

A party spokesperson told the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper that Ms Bezuhla “is responsible for her own words”.

Tensions between Ukraine’s military and political leadership have increasingly spilled out into the public domain amid the faltering counter-offensive.

08:19 AM GMT

US will back Ukraine no matter who the next president is, says Pompeo

The United States will back Ukraine no matter who the next president is, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said.

Mr Pompeo said Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, would “do the right thing” and continue to support Ukraine.

Trump has previously called on Congress to withhold additional Ukraine funding until the FBI, IRS and justice department “hand over every scrap of evidence” on the Biden family’s business dealings in the country.

Republicans are currently blocking a bill in Congress that would provide £19bn ($24bn) in new aid to Ukraine.

08:02 AM GMT

Meta spokesperson on Russian wanted list

Russia has placed a spokesperson for the parent company of Facebook and Instagram on a federal wanted list.

The reason why Meta’s Andy Stone is wanted by Russia’s interior ministry is not known.

Russia added Mr Stone to the list quietly in February, independent Russian outlet Mediazona reported.

Russia designated Meta as a “terrorist and extremist” organisation in October 2022, after banning Facebook and Instagram that March.

07:55 AM GMT

Russia has sold £800m of stolen grain, says Ukraine

Ukraine has accused Russia of selling £800m ($1bn) of grain taken from occupied territory, prime minister Denys Shmyhal has said.

“The occupiers have prepared technical means to steal and take away 12,000 tonnes of grain from the captured territories every day,” he said at a grain market forum in Kyiv.

“They succeeded only partially, because the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians forced the enemy to retreat.

“But the volume of stolen goods is impressive – it is millions of tons of grain worth about $1bn.

“Russia’s robbery of Ukraine continues even now.”

07:46 AM GMT

Zelensky hails soldiers and rescuers in brutal weather

Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed Ukraine’s soldiers and rescuers amid brutal winter weather conditions.

The president said 400 settlements in 10 different regions have been left without power by snowstorms and high winds.

“I would like to thank everyone who is working now and will continue to work tomorrow to protect us from this bad weather and to restore normal living conditions in all our Ukrainian communities as soon as possible,” Mr Zelensky said on Sunday in his nightly address.

“Now, when it is so difficult, in such conditions, we should all be especially grateful to those who defend our country, who carry out Ukrainian offensive operations, who are in combat positions, at combat posts, on duty in mobile fire groups and in all our other units that protect Ukraine, the life of our state and our independence.

Footage posted on social media shows blizzards near Odesa.

07:41 AM GMT

Five wounded over the weekend in Russia's largest drone attack

Five Ukrainians were wounded in Kyiv on Saturday when Russia launched its largest drone attack of the war so far.

An 11-year-old girl was among the injured after 75 Iranian-made Shahed drones were launched at dawn on Saturday.

Ukraine said its air defences shot down 74 of them before launching an armada of 35 drones in retaliation.

“The enemy is intensifying its attacks, trying to destroy Ukraine and Ukrainians,” Oleksiy Kuleba, the Ukrainian president’s deputy chief of staff, said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

It was doing so deliberately, “just like 90 years ago [during Holodomor], when Russia killed millions of our ancestors,” he said.

07:34 AM GMT

Russia advances near Avdiivka, says ISW

Russia has advanced near the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, the Institute for the Study of War think tank has said.

“Geolocated footage published on November 26 shows that Russian forces marginally advanced northwest of Krasnohorivka (7km northwest of Avdiivka) and in the eastern part of the industrial zone on Avdiivka’s southeastern outskirts,” it said.

“Geolocated video footage on November 26 shows Russian armored vehicles attacking Ukrainian positions in the northern part of the industrial area on Avdiivka’s southeastern outskirts.”

Russia has been assaulting Avdiivka with great ferocity since October in an attack reminiscent of its efforts to take Bakhmut earlier this year.

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