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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky meets new UK Foreign Secretary; death toll of Selydove attack rises to 4

by The Kyiv Independent news desk November 16, 2023 11:54 PM 7 min read
Ukrainian soldiers of the 72nd Mechanized Brigade on duty as Russian attacks on the town of Vuhledar, where a "tank duel" is taking place between the two armies, continue in Donetsk Oblast on Nov. 15, 2023. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Key developments of Nov. 16:

  • Zelensky meets new UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron
  • Death toll of Donetsk Oblast attack rises to 4
  • Ukraine's secret 'Black Box' project revealed to be long-range attack drones
  • Russian attack damages thermal power plant fourth time
  • Air Force: Ukraine downs 16 out of 18 Russian attack drones launched overnight

President Volodymyr Zelensky met with newly-appointed U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Kyiv, Zelensky announced on Nov. 16.

Zelensky congratulated Cameron, who was appointed on Nov. 13, and thanked him for making Kyiv the destination of his first working trip.

"We are grateful for the United Kingdom's unwavering support for Ukraine. We are grateful for the warm welcome of Ukrainian citizens in the UK. And we are glad that you have come to Ukraine," Zelensky said.

Cameron told Zelensky that although he "had some disagreements" with Boris Johnson, who was U.K. Prime Minister between 2019 and 2022, "his support for you was the finest thing."

"We will continue to give you the moral support, the diplomatic support, the economic support, but above all the military support that you need, not just for this year and next year, but for however long it takes," Cameron said.

"I admire the strength and determination of the Ukrainian people."

The two discussed defense cooperation, strengthening Ukraine's air defense, the security situation in the Black Sea, and Ukraine's progress toward NATO membership, Zelensky said.

Cameron was U.K. Prime Minister between 2010 and 2016, and is no longer a member of parliament.

Upon his appointment as Foreign Secretary, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made Cameron a life peer, meaning he will have a permanent seat in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the U.K. parliament.

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Death toll of Selydove attack rises to 4

More bodies have been found by emergency workers at the site of a Russian missile attack on the city of Selydove, bringing the death toll to four, the State Emergency Service reported on Nov. 16.

Russian forces launched a missile attack on the night of Nov. 15 on Selydove, which is located around 30 kilometers west of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast. A four-story apartment building was hit in the strike.

Initial reports said that one person had been killed and two had been injured, but more bodies were lying under the rubble.

The number of injured civilians has since been revised to three.

The State Emergency Service said that as of the morning of Nov. 16, emergency responders are still working at the scene.

Selydove had a pre-war population of around 21,000 residents.

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Ukraine's secret 'Black Box' project revealed to be long-range attack drone

The Ukrainian secret military technology project "Black Box," was shown to be a long-range attack drone, named the "Beaver," that can fly up to 800 kilometers, Ukraine's military charity Come Back Alive announced on Nov. 16.

The Black Box project is a collaborative effort of Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR), the Come Back Alive fund, and Ukrainian blogger Ihor Lachenkov.

Details of the project were kept secret until the Nov. 16 announcement, although the military intelligence, had hinted about what it might be in the past.

The  fund's Nov. 16 announcement said that in the first eight months of 2023, the Beaver, along with other Black Box components, had caused more than $900 million in damages to Russian forces, attacking them in Crimea and other parts of occupied Ukraine, as well as in Russia.

The Beaver drone is only one of the components of the Black Box project. The Beaver has struck a variety of critical targets, including Russian missile production and storage facilities, the announcement said.

Come Back Alive was founded in 2014 to provide assistance and funding for Ukraine's military. As of September 2023, it has raised over $249 million, according to its website.

Hr 15 million ($414,000) had been raised to buy vehicles that would help Ukrainian special forces get closer to occupied parts of Ukraine, as well as Russian territory, in order to increase the range of potential future attacks using the Beaver.

There have been numerous Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, including in Moscow and other locations hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Moscow usually blames Ukraine, while Kyiv rarely takes direct responsibility for strikes on Russian soil.

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Russian attack damages thermal power plant for fourth time

A Russian overnight attack damaged a thermal power plant in one of Ukraine's front-line regions, Ukraine's largest private energy company DTEK said on Nov. 16.

This is reportedly the fourth time the DTEK plant has been damaged as a result of shelling. DTEK did not reveal the exact location of the facility.

There were no casualties, but "equipment was seriously damaged" and nearby residents were cut off from electricity and water during the night.

Power has since returned, but first responders are still trying to reconnect the water supply.

DTEK "continues to do everything possible to maintain the reliable operation of the Ukrainian energy system" amid ongoing Russian attacks, the company said.

As Ukraine braces for an uptick in Russian strikes against the energy grid during winter, preparations are being made to mitigate the damage and defend critical infrastructure.

President Volodymyr Zelensky approved a plan on Nov. 7 by the National Security and Defense Council to stabilize Ukraine's energy sector in preparation for the coming winter months.

Andrii Cherniak, a representative of Ukraine's military intelligence, told Ukrainian media outlet Liga on Nov.14 that Russia's special services were actively gathering information, including attempting to recruit collaborators, in order to better strike Ukraine's energy infrastructure this coming winter.

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Air Force: Ukraine downs 16 out of 18 Russian attack drones launched overnight

Ukrainian forces shot down 16 of the 18 Shahed "kamikaze" drones and one missile launched by Russia overnight, the Air Force reported on Nov. 16.

The Kh-59 missile was downed on the evening of Nov. 15 over Poltava Oblast.

Russia also attacked civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv Oblast with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, but no victims were reported, according to the Air Force.

Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said that an educational building and a residential building were damaged by a S-300 strike on the city of Chuhuiv at around midnight.

Also on Nov. 16, Russian attacked the town of Bilozerka in Kherson Oblast, killing one man and injuring four other people, regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported.

Rescue workers found the man's body under the rubble of a house. The four people injured, three women aged 28, 34, and 56, and a 62-year-old man, were taken to a hospital for treatment, Prokudin said.

It is unknown at the time of this publication if there were other casualties or what the extent of the damage was. Prokudin did not specify what type of weapon was used in the attack.

Bilozerka, with a pre-war population of under 10,000, lies around 10 kilometers west of Kherson on the Ukrainian-held western bank of the Dnipro River.

The area suffers regular attacks from the Russian-controlled eastern bank. A 50-year-old woman was killed by Russian attacks in Bilozerka on Nov. 9.

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