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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 291 of the invasion

Nato head warns the war could spin out of control and Ukrainian president says eastern city of Bakhmut has been ‘destroyed’

The fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between Russia and Nato, the head of the alliance said in an interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong,” Jens Stoltenberg said.

Iran’s backing for the Russian military is likely to grow in coming months and Moscow will probably offer Tehran an “unprecedented” level of military support in return, the UK Ministry of Defence has said. The ministry’s latest intelligence update said Iran had become one of Russia’s top military backers since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and that Moscow was trying to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles.

Russian forces have “destroyed” the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said, while Ukraine’s military reported missile, rocket and airstrikes in multiple parts of the country. The latest battles of Russia’s nine and a half-month war in Ukraine have centred on four provinces that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, illegally claimed to have annexed in late September.

Heavy fighting has continued in eastern and southern Ukraine, mainly in regions that Russia illegally annexed in September. Ukraine’s presidential office said on Friday that five civilians had been killed and another 13 wounded by Russian shelling in the past 24 hours.

Boris Johnson has urged western countries to “look urgently” at what more they can do to support Ukraine in the hopes of ending the war against Russia as soon as next year. The former UK prime minister, who was hailed by Zelenskiy as a key ally, used an article in the Wall Street Journal to argue that ending the war as soon as possible is “in everyone’s interest, including Russia”.

Russia wants to turn Ukraine into a “dependent dictatorship” like Belarus, the wife of jailed Belarusian Nobel peace prize laureate Ales Bialiatski said on Saturday upon receiving the prize on his behalf, speaking his words. Bialiatski, the Russian rights group Memorial and Ukraine’s Centre for Civil Liberties won the 2022 prize in October.

Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, said the government would place targeted sanctions on Russia and Iran in response to what it called “egregious” human rights violations.

Moscow has announced it is banning 200 Canadian officials from entering Russia in response to similar sanctions from Ottawa. The health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce head, Victor Dodig, were among those targeted.

All non-critical infrastructure in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa were without power after Russia used drones to hit energy facilities, local officials said, with much of the surrounding region also affected.

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