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Russia Steps Up Drone Assaults on Kyiv

Russia launched several waves of drone attacks on Kyiv early Sunday for the second night in row, stepping up its assaults on the Ukrainian capital after several weeks of pause, the city’s military administration said.

“The enemy’s UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were launched in many groups and attacked Kyiv in waves, from different directions, at the same time constantly changing the vectors of movement along the route,” Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app. 

Ukraine’s air force said its air defense systems destroyed 15 of 20 Russia-launched Shahed kamikaze drones over Kyiv, Poltava and Cherkasy regions.

In Kherson five people including a 3-year-old girl were injured by Russian artillery shelling Sunday morning, Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said.

“All of them sustained shrapnel wounds. The child and the grandmother were walking in the yard. Enemy artillery hit them near the entrance,” Klymenko said on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian troops abandoned Kherson and the western bank of the Dnipro River in the region late last year, but now regularly shell those areas from positions on the eastern bank.

Ukraine’s military said on social media Friday that it had gained “a foothold on several bridgeheads” on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, near the southern city of Kherson. 

Ukrainian troops are trying to push Russian forces away from the Dnipro to stop them from shelling civilian areas on the Ukrainian-held west bank, the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a report Friday.  


Russia conceded that Ukrainian forces had claimed back some territory on the opposing bank.  

Teen returns to Ukraine

A Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Russia from the occupied city of Mariupol during the war and prevented from leaving Russia earlier this year, returned to Ukraine Sunday.

Bohdan Yermokhin, an orphan from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol that was captured by Moscow’s troops during the first year of the war, had been taken to Russia and placed in a foster family in the Moscow region.

Yermokhin, who turned 18 Sunday, appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this month to help bring him back to Ukraine.

“This is a very pleasant gift, to put it in the right way. The emotions are overwhelming, all good, with the notion that Ukraine needs me,” he said.

Zelenskyy welcomed Yermokhin’s return in his nightly video address.

“Many attempts were made to help him. I am happy everything worked out,” he said, expressing thanks to Ukrainian officials, international organizations, and particularly the U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and authorities in Qatar for help in mediation.

Twenty-thousand children have been illegally transferred to Russia since the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, with some being put up for adoption. Kyiv says this is a war crime, an allegation denied by Russia, which says it was protecting children in a war zone. 

Ukraine – EU

About 3,000 mostly Ukrainian trucks were stuck on the Polish side of the border Sunday morning due to a blockade lasting more than 10-days by Polish truckers, Ukrainian authorities said.

Polish truckers earlier this month blocked roads to three border crossings with Ukraine to protest what they see as government inaction over a loss of business to foreign competitors since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“For over 10 days, Ukrainian drivers have been blocked at the Polish border. Thousands of people are forced to live in difficult conditions with limited food, water and fuel,” Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said on X, formerly Twitter.


Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 


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Philippines President in Hawaii, Boosts US-Philippines Ties, Recalls Family History

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is meeting with senior U.S. military leaders and members of Hawaii’s large Filipino community this weekend in a visit steeped in geopolitical and personal significance for the leader, but also drawing small protests from a younger generation of Filipinos who point to the actions of his dictator father who died in exile in Hawaii.

Marcos, who stopped in Hawaii on his way home from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, connected Saturday evening with members of Hawaii’s large Filipino-American community before a planned Sunday meeting with Adm. John Aquilino, the top U.S. military commander in the Indo-Pacific region.

Marcos is then due to deliver a talk about his nation’s security challenges and the role of the Philippines-U.S. alliance.

A small number of protesters gathered outside the community meeting and at the airport where he landed.

Marcos’ trip comes at a time when the U.S. and the Philippines have been deepening their long-standing alliance in a shift after Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, nurtured cozy ties with China and Russia.

The Philippines this year agreed to give the U.S. access to four more bases as America looks to deter China’s increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan and in the South China Sea. In April, the two countries held their largest military exercises in decades.

But the trip also likely has personal resonance for the leader of the Philippines. His father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, died in exile in Honolulu after he was ousted in a 1986 army-backed “people power” uprising.

Many Filipino immigrants in Hawaii also hail from the same part of the Philippines as Marcos and revere him and his family. Filipinos are the largest single ethnic group in Hawaii, accounting for 26% of the state’s population as of the 2020 census.

Winfred Damo, who immigrated to Honolulu from Marcos’ province of Ilocos Norte in 1999, said being Ilocano means “we always support the Marcoses.”

The 58-year-old helped campaign for Marcos Jr. in Hawaii and said the president is a different person than his father and from a different era. Philippine nationals living abroad can vote in elections back home.

“We have a better government now in the Philippines,” he said. “Marcoses are good people. They did a lot in our country, and they are the best.”

Not all are Marcos fans. Arcy Imasa organized a protest outside the convention center where Marcos met with community members Saturday. Her aim was to help younger Filipinos learn his family’s history.

Marcos’ father placed the Philippines under martial rule in 1972, a year before his term was to expire. He also padlocked Congress, ordered the arrest of political rivals and left-wing activists and ruled by decree.

A Hawaii court found the senior Marcos liable for human rights violations and awarded $2 billion from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who filed a lawsuit against him for torture, incarceration, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

Imasa, 40, who is part of Hawaii Filipinos for Truth, Justice and Democracy and grew up in the Ilocos province of Pangasinan, said the mindset of many Filipinos in Hawaii is fixed, especially those of older generations.

“They’re not on the right side of history. They’re not fully aware of the crimes that transpired,” she said.

Satu Limaye, the vice president of the East-West Center, noted the U.S. and the Philippines have a long, complicated relationship. He pointed to years when the U.S. ruled the archipelago as a colony, when the two nations signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951 and when the U.S. military withdrew from major bases in the country in the 1990s.

Duterte was often critical of the U.S., at times questioning the value of the alliance and demanding more military aid to preserve the pact. Under Marcos there has been a “180-degree turn” and a massive change in cooperation and coordination with the U.S., Limaye said.

China has laid sweeping territorial claims over virtually the entire South China Sea, areas also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

China has clashed with its smaller neighbors and subsequently drawn in the U.S., which is Manila’s treaty ally and China’s main rival in the Asia-Pacific region. Washington and its allies have deployed navy ships and fighter aircraft to promote freedom of navigation and overflight, to build up deterrence and reassure allies.

Earlier this month, dozens of Chinese coast guard and accompanying ships chased and encircled Philippine vessels during a four-hour faceoff.

Marcos in September said his country does not want a confrontation but will defend its waters after its coast guard dismantled a floating barrier placed by China at a disputed shoal.

Limaye said it’s important to watch how the U.S. and the Philippines manage their nations’ long and complex relationship while facing their common concern, China.


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Orphaned Teen Who Was Taken to Russia Early in Ukraine War Back Home With Relatives

An orphaned Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Russia last year during the war in his country returned home after being reunited with relatives in Belarus on his 18th birthday Sunday.

Bohdan Yermokhin was pictured embracing family members in Minsk in photographs shared on social media by Russia’s children’s rights ombudswoman, Maria Lvova-Belova.

Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, confirmed that Yermokhin had arrived back in Ukraine and shared a photo of him with a Ukrainian flag. Yermak thanked UNICEF and Qatari negotiators for facilitating Yermokhin’s return.

Yermokhin’s parents died two years ago, before Russia invaded Ukraine. Early in the war, he was taken from the port city of Mariupol, where he lived with a cousin who was his legal guardian, placed with a foster family in the Moscow region and given Russian citizenship, according to Ukrainian lawyer Kateryna Bobrovska.

Bobrovska, who represents the teenager and his 26-year-old cousin, Valeria Yermokhina, previously told The Associated Press that Yermokhin repeatedly expressed the desire to go home and had talked daily about “getting to Ukraine, to his relatives.”

Yermokhin was one of thousands of Ukrainian children taken to Russia from occupied regions of Ukraine. The practice prompted the International Criminal Court in March to accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin and children’s rights ombudswoman Lvova-Belova of committing war crimes.

The court in The Hague, Netherlands, issued warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova’s arrests, saying they found “reasonable grounds to believe” the two were responsible for the illegal deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine.

The Kremlin has dismissed the warrants as null and void. Lvova-Belova has argued that the children were taken to Russia for their safety, not abducted — a claim widely rejected by the international community. Nevertheless, the children’s rights ombudswoman announced in a Nov. 10 online statement that Yermokhin would be allowed to return to Ukraine via a third country.

The teenager reportedly tried to return home on his own earlier this year. Lvova-Belova told reporters in April that Russian authorities caught Yerkmohin near Russia’s border with Belarus on his way to Ukraine. The ombudswoman argued that he was being taken there “under false pretenses.”

Before he was allowed to leave Russia, lawyer Bobrovska described an urgent need for Yermokhin to return to Ukraine before his 18th birthday, when he would become eligible for conscription into the Russian army. The teenager had received two official notices to attend a military enlistment office in Russia, although officials later said he had only been summoned for record-keeping purposes.

Last month, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said in his Telegram channel that a total of 386 children have been brought back to Ukraine from Russia. “Ukraine will work until it returns everyone to their homeland,” Lubinets stressed.

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Around 3,000 Trucks Stuck at Ukrainian Border Due to Polish Drivers’ Blockade

About 3,000 mostly Ukrainian trucks were stuck on the Polish side of the border as of Sunday morning due to a more than 10-day blockade by Polish truckers, Ukrainian authorities said.

Polish truckers earlier this month blocked roads to three border crossings with Ukraine to protest against what they see as government inaction over a loss of business to foreign competitors since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukrainian officials said last week Kyiv and Warsaw had again failed to reach an agreement to stop the protest.

“For over 10 days, Ukrainian drivers have been blocked at the Polish border. Thousands of people are forced to live in difficult conditions with limited food, water and fuel,” Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Ukraine’s Prime Minister, said on X, formerly Twitter.

He said trucks were backed up more than 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) toward the Yahodyn crossing, more than 10 kilometers toward Rava-Ruska, and more than 16 kilometers toward the Krakivets crossing.

According to the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry, an average of 40,000-50,000 trucks cross the border with Poland per month via eight existing crossings, twice as many as before the war. Most of the goods are carried by Ukraine’s transport fleet.

Now only a few vehicles per hour are going through the Polish border at blocked checkpoints, Ukrainian border guards say.

Ukrainian grain brokers said last week Ukraine’s shipments of food by road decreased 2.7% in the first 13 days of November due to difficulties on the Polish border caused by a drivers’ strike.

Spike Brokers, which regularly tracks export statistics, said that the passage of vehicles through customs checkpoints on the border with Poland decreased to 4,000 tons of cargo per day, compared to the peak of 7,500 tons per day a month earlier.