What Happened To Borders Bookstores?

Borders bookstore

You might remember Borders bookstores. They were all over the country in the early 2000s, selling all kinds of books and even multimedia like CDs and movies. Their stores ranged from small outlets in shopping malls to huge buildings packed full of books. In 2003, according to NPR , there were more than 1,200 of the stores nationwide. But by 2012, the chain had liquidated and closed all of its locations.

Bookstores like Barnes & Noble still hold ground in the bookselling market, and the oldest bookstore in America is still standing after more than 150 years. Clearly, people are still reading, and they're going to bookstores to discover new favorites. Borders, a familiar sight and staple storefront for more than four decades, faced plenty of problems in its final years. But what was the final straw for the bookselling giant? Was it a shift to online sales and e-readers, or something else?

The store didn't have great online sale strategies

When Borders first entered the scene, there wasn't really an online marketplace. It made its name by being a big box store where everyone could find something they wanted, according to NPR . But when the internet came around, customers found other ways to get their reading fix.

Other retailers created websites to help move products along. But Borders opted to go a different route. The store actually opted to use Amazon to sell its online products, according to Time , instead of creating its own online marketplace. Time reports that the decision meant Borders handed over control over its online presence and that the lack of cohesive branding likely hurt the store in the long run.

Borders did have its own website for a while. Surprisingly, it was actually hurting the company, and according to Lit Reactor , that website cost the company $20 million to maintain even before it started working with Amazon. That's not exactly a recipe for success.

E-readers and digital books were more popular

The creation of the internet marketplace led to another trend that hurt Borders' prospects. On top of buying physical books online, readers started to shift to electronic books (via Time ). Over the early 2000s, e-books outpaced the sale of physical books, according to Time.

Other outlets saw the change coming and adapted. Barnes & Noble created its Nook e-reader to compete with Amazon's marketplace, according to Time, but Borders never created its own e-reader. In an online essay about the bookstore's closure, former Borders Director of Merchandise Planning and Analysis Mark Evans in part blamed the slow adaptation to e-books.

"[Borders] also dropped the ball on e-books," Evans wrote. "But by the time this became an issue they were just trying to figure out how to keep the whole house from burning down around them, so I find it more understandable."

Without a place to direct people interested in e-books, Borders missed out on a market that could have brought in more sales.

It invested too much in selling other media

Borders might have started out as just a bookstore, but it didn't stay that way. The stores later shifted to selling DVDs and CDs and opted to heavily focus on that market in the 1990s, according to Time . But ultimately, it wasn't as great a success as business executives might have hoped for. The iPod and other MP3 players came through shortly after the shift, and it drew customers away from the physical media Borders was selling (via Time).

According to Lit Reactor , Borders filled almost half of its retail space with CDs. That left them with a lot of empty or underutilized space later on when CDs fell out of fashion, including warehouse space. According to Evans, it took a lot of resources to fill the empty space and the loss of revenue that came around when CDs fell out of fashion.

Their troubles with real estate strategy

Another issue that pops up during a Borders post-mortem is somewhat  easier to understand. The hypothesis is that Borders went on a commercial retail buying spree and bought up too many storefronts — and simply didn't have enough money to support them. According to Time , a vast majority of its stores were also in close proximity to other booksellers like Barnes & Noble. So on top of the shift to online sales and e-books, there were too many physical bookstores (both other stores in the chain and competitors) around wherever a Borders was operating.

According to NPR , Borders bought up plenty of real estate in the 1990s when the business was doing well. It might have been that they couldn't sustain that level of expense , and eventually it caught up with them. That theory is backed up by former employee Mark Evans , too according to NPR . He says they didn't do as well with relocating stores to better locations, and their storefronts couldn't compete with other stores in the area. The company was also trying to recover from massive debt, according to Time, even before the market crash in 2008.

The workplace atmosphere might have played a part

The issues with online sales and real estate were all pretty visible from the outside. But there's also some commentary on the differences in workplace atmosphere between Borders and other retailers. Barnes & Noble, for example, gave its employees an opportunity to try other things. According to Lit Reactor , some were able to work as baristas or fill other roles in addition to cashier or bookseller duty. And a different seller, Half Price Books, also offered better policies for workers, including paid hour-long lunches, full benefits, and better wages. Those factors probably didn't lead directly to Borders' closure, but they didn't help them, either.

Borders closed its doors for a variety of reasons. Some of those were due to management, while others were the result of a changing market. But the bookselling industry is still going strong. From at least some analyses , Borders' disappearance even allowed independent booksellers to expand and flourish in different parts of the country. But for many, the loss of the traditional big-box storefronts is still a sore subject.

borders book shop

Borders' rise and fall: a timeline of the bookstore chain's 40-year history

This timeline provides a historical perspective of the rise and fall of Ann Arbor-based Borders Group Inc. from its inception in 1971 to its liquidation announcement this afternoon. It is based on AnnArbor.com research, interviews, Securities and Exchange Commission documents, archived news reports and information from Borders.

1971 : Brothers Tom and Louis Borders open an 800-square-foot used bookstore called Borders Book Shop at 211 S. South State St . in Ann Arbor.

The first Borders store at 211 S. State, now the site of a CVS store under construction.

Ann Arbor District Library

1988 : In an effort to import business leadership, Borders recruits Robert DiRomualdo to lead the company's expansion. DiRomualdo is later credited with leading the company's rise to national prominence in the 1990s.

1991 : Borders starts integrating music and movies into some of its stores.

1992 : Kmart Corp., which bought Waldenbooks in 1984, acquires Borders and creates the Borders-Walden Group. At the time, Borders had 21 large stores and had valued itself at about $190 million, the New York Times reported at the time.

1994 : Borders' flagship store moves from 303 S. State to the ex-Jacobson's department store on East Liberty. The bookseller is the largest retailer in downtown Ann Arbor.

1995 : The book store chain, renamed Borders Group Inc., spins off from Kmart and goes public on the New York Stock Exchange (Ticker: BGP) under CEO Robert DiRomualdo. At the time, Borders' innovative inventory management system was considered " the envy of the industry ," as one publisher put it, and was a catalyst in the forthcoming boom in the company's superstore footprint.

1995 : The company's Waldenbooks division moves to Ann Arbor after receiving a $7.7 million tax credit from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s Michigan Economic Growth Authority board.

1995 : Borders headquarters moves to a renovated, abandoned downtown retail destination on Washington Street called Tally Hall. A few years later, the company moves to its current headquarters on Phoenix Drive on the city's south side.

Feb. 4, 1997 : Shares close at an all-time high of $44.88.

March 11, 1997 : Borders executes a 2-for-1 split on its stock.

January 1998 to January 1999 : Borders expands its store footprint by 25.5 percent, adding 52 superstores in the biggest one-year expansion in its history. By January 1999, the company has 256 superstores averaging $256 in sales per square foot.

May 1998 : Borders launches an online retail presence for the first time at Borders.com.

Nov. 12, 1998 : Philip Pfeffer is hired to replace DiRomualdo.

Greg Josefowicz was CEO of Borders Group from 1999 to 2006.

Photo courtesy of Borders

November 1999 : Greg Josefowicz becomes Borders permanent CEO. August 2001 : Borders contracts with online retailer Amazon to sell products online -- a relationship later blamed for making Borders late to the emerging web retail segment.

July 2004 : Borders buys United Kingdom-based Paperchase Products Ltd. The company also starts branding some Waldenbooks stores as Borders Express.

August 2004 : Borders signs deal with Starbucks Corp. to run Seattle’s Best Coffee cafe operations in its stores.

2005 : Borders posts its most recent annual profit: $101.0 million.

February 2006 : The company launches a loyalty program called Borders Rewards.

July 2006 : George Jones replaces Josefowicz, who had led Borders since November 1999. At the time, Borders had nearly 36,000 employees worldwide and more than 1,200 in Ann Arbor.

September 2007 : Borders sells its U.K. and Ireland subsidiaries.

September 2007 : Stock hits then-six-year-low $12.28 a share.

The Borders store on Lohr Road in Pittsfield Township was created as the chain's new "concept" store when it opened in 2008.

Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com

March 28, 2008 : Stock closes down 28.5 percent to $5.07 after Borders says it lost $157.4 million in 2007.

March 2008 : Borders puts itself up for sale and accepts $42.5 million loan from New York hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management to boost financial position.

May 2008 : Severing ties with Amazon, the company launches a new Borders.com.

June 3, 2008 : Borders’ shrinking Ann Arbor personnel count hits 1,000 after 156 job cuts are announced as part of a $120 million cost-cutting plan . At this point, the company still has 30,000 employees overall.

June 10, 2008 : Borders sells off its business based in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Former Borders Group CEO George Jones speaks to employees in February 2008. He was fired less than a year later.

File photo | AnnArbor.com

Jan. 5, 2009 : CEO George Jones is fired and replaced with Ron Marshall as global financial crisis raises questions about Borders' viability.

March 2009 : Borders cuts costs, conserves cash in effort to avoid bankruptcy in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

March 30, 2009 : Borders, despite posting a $187 million loss in 2008, gets some breathing room after receiving a one-year extension on a loan from Pershing Square Capital Management.

Nov. 5, 2009 : Borders announces plans to close 200 of its small stores and cut 1,500 jobs. By February 2011, the number of small-format stores is about 170, down from more than 1,100 in 1995.

November 2009 : Investors criticize Borders' sluggish approach to the emerging electronic books market.

Borders started selling the Kobo e-reader in its stores in summer 2010.

Jan. 18, 2010 : Executives say they're “ disappointed ” with 13.7 percent decline in holiday sales.

Jan. 26, 2010 : CEO Ron Marshall resigns to become CEO of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which files for bankruptcy later in the year after Marshall’s departure. Borders executive Mike Edwards is named interim CEO of Borders Group.

Jan. 28, 2010 : Layoffs hit 10 percent of the Ann Arbor corporate staff.

Feb. 3, 2010 : Hedge fund investor and Borders shareholder Bill Ackman says bankruptcy is unlikely .

March 31, 2010 : Borders pays off $42.5 million loan to Ackman, renegotiates credit agreement with lenders.

April 1, 2010 : Executives describe strategy of " transforming the Borders brand ."

May 21, 2010 : Tobacco executive and activist investor Bennett LeBow invests $25 million and is named chairman.

Borders liquidating

  • Borders plans to liquidate, ending 40-year-old bookstore chain
  • Column: Borders' expansion hastened its implosion
  • Borders' rise and fall: a timeline of the bookstore chain's 40-year history
  • What's next for downtown Ann Arbor Borders store after chain closes?
  • Downtown store closure also means a loss of arts and music venue
  • Expected closure of Borders superstore in Pittsfield Township leaves shopping center with vacancy
  • Disappearing act: Borders brothers nowhere to be found
  • Residents express disappointment and sense of inevitability at closing of flagship Borders store
  • Read Borders CEO Mike Edwards' letter to employees announcing liquidation
  • Media watch: What other news sites are reporting on the Borders liquidation 
  • Share your memories of Borders' 40-year heritage in Ann Arbor

July 2010 : Borders launches e-book store, starts selling e-readers, sets strategy to get 17 percent market share in e-books within a year.

July 31, 2010 : Borders sells Paperchase unit for $31 million.

Aug. 11, 2010 : Borders lays off more Ann Arbor workers. About 600 workers left.

Sept. 1, 2010 : Borders posts $46.7 million loss in second quarter, eyes " non-book products " like games and toys.

Nov. 15, 2010 : Borders launches redesigned website.

Dec. 6, 2010 : Ackman says he’d be willing to finance a Borders bid to acquire Barnes & Noble and merge the retailers.

Dec. 9, 2010 : Borders posts $74.4 million loss for third quarter, acknowledges possible cash crunch in early 2011.

Dec. 30, 2010 : Borders confirms that it’s delaying payments to some publishers in hopes of reworking vendor financing arrangements.

Dec. 31, 2010 : Stock plunges 22 percent to $0.90 a share.

Early January 2011 : Publishers weigh whether to agree to short-term debt in exchange for giving up immediate cash payments for book shipments.

Jan. 6, 2011 : University of Michigan expert says Borders likely headed toward bankruptcy or merger.

Jan. 12, 2011 : Borders announces plans to cut 300-person Tennessee distribution center .

Jan. 17, 2011 : Borders lays off another 40 employees at its corporate headquarters, leaving about 550 workers there.

Jan. 24, 2011 : Company sells off Day By Day Calendar unit in bid to raise cash.

Jan. 27, 2011 : Borders announces tentative financing deal with GE Capital but acknowledges possibility of "in-court restructuring."

Jan. 30, 2011 : Borders announces decision to delay payments to more partners, including some landlords.

Feb. 1, 2011 : Reports indicate bankruptcy filing may come with weeks.

Feb. 3, 2011 : New York Stock Exchange warns Borders that its stock could face delisting if it doesn't rise above an average monthly price of $1 within six months.

Feb. 11, 2011 : Ackman acknowledges $125 million loss on Borders investment.

Feb. 16, 2011 : Borders files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with plans to close 30 percent of its stores.

March 25, 2011 : Borders asks court to approve executive bonus plan contingent upon a successful exit from bankruptcy.

April 6, 2011 : Executives reveal plans to move Borders out of its corporate headquarters building on Phoenix Drive on Ann Arbor's south side, saying they would consider the metro Detroit region. Later, the company identifies the former Visteon Village complex in Van Buren Township as one possible destination.

April 22, 2011 : Judge approves bonus plan with several strings attached.

May 5, 2011 : In an interview , Borders CEO Mike Edwards says the company could emerge from bankruptcy by September if it gets support from publishers. He also says the company has fewer than 400 workers left at its headquarters.

May 19, 2011 : In a filing, Borders asks the court to approve the severance of its deal with Seattle's Best Coffee , a subsidiary of Starbucks Corp.

June 1, 2011 : A Los Angeles-based private equity firm named Gores Group , which is led by the brother of the billionaire who recently bought the Detroit Pistons, is reported to be considering an acquisition of Borders .

June 7, 2011 : Phoenix-based private equity firm Najafi Companies is reported to be considering a bid to buy Borders. Najafi owns Direct Brands , which operates the Book of the Month Club and the Doubleday Book Club .

June 30, 2011 : Najafi submits a tentative bid to buy Borders for $215.1 million in cash and the assumption of $220 million in liabilities. Borders asks the court to establish Najafi as the "stalking-horse bidder" and to approve a $6.45 million breakup fee for Najafi if Borders chooses another buyer against Najafi's will.

July 13, 2011 : A committee of unsecured creditors — namely, publishers that ship books to Borders — file an objection to the proposed sale, saying that nothing would prevent Najafi from liquidating Borders on its own and pocketing valuable intellectual property. The creditors said that if Borders was to be liquidated, it wanted the Borders-approved liquidators to handle the process.

July 13, 2011 : Najafi says it cannot proceed with an acquisition of Borders under the terms it previously laid out — a development believed to be related to the publishers' objection.

July 14, 2011 : A bid by a team of liquidators is established as the top bid in an auction tentatively scheduled to take place July 19. Without another bid, the company would have to start liquidation sales as soon as July 22.

July 17, 2011 : Deadline for bids passes without any new possible acquirers emerging.

July 18, 2011 : Borders announces plans to liquidate . Some 10,700 people will lose their jobs, including 400 in Ann Arbor.

Contact AnnArbor.com's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or [email protected] . You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's newsletters.

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

A few more dates to bear in mind, when Border's downtown store added music in 1991, Schoolkids, SKR Classical and Discount Records each closed. Capitalism and legacy don't have a lot to do with each other. Pay attention to your customers and innovate or die. I do mourn the early days of Borders when I could walk into the computer book section on State St. and have the buyer steer me to just the book I needed. My career benefited markedly by that guidance. But its hard to pity serial bad management decisions and repeatedly turning their back on the roots.

Joe Bavonese

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

I was disappointed that the original Borders store on State St was not given more space in this timeline. To those of us who remember it, it was like going to a shrine - the first bookstore where you could sit down, relax, not feel pressured - and measure your time in dollars per minute. It was a destination and part of what made the Ann Arbor book scene unique.

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:24 a.m.

This should be a warning to the bookstore business. Borders reckless expansion caused much of its problems, but online innovation could also be the next knockout blow. Barnes and Noble should be cautious in their approach. While they are much better managed than Borders and wisely did not purchase the latter company; they are not immune to the online onslaught.

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

A couple of important milestones that would be interesting (and relevant) to include would be: Beginning sales of eReaders (such as Kindle) Arrival of Napster Launch of iPod and iTunes Launch of Netflix Launch of Amazon All of those events helped to act as killer technologies for all of Borders sales channels.

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A Decade After Borders Shut Down, Here’s What’s in Its Former Locations

A Decade After Borders Shut Down, Here’s What’s in Its Former Locations

It’s been almost exactly ten years since the last Borders bookstore closed, following the company’s February 2011 bankruptcy. Vacating roughly five hundred locations throughout 2011, the erstwhile king of brick-and-mortar book retailing left behind a massive real-estate footprint, millions in unused gift cards, and a lot of memories. (And did you know “Borders” was the last name of two brothers who founded the chain, and not a reference to expanding the borders of your mind?)

It is hard to overstate, yet already difficult to remember, just how popular and big Borders was. More than Barnes & Noble, its similarly sized competitor, Borders was practically synonymous with bookstores during its height in the 1990s and early 2000s. In its heyday it was one of the finest and most successful examples of the category killer or “ medium-box ” store, a now-struggling retail concept that mixes discounting and large selection with curation and attention to quality.

Borders distinguished itself in a number of ways. Most of its stores boasted a café and comfortable interior, and later free wifi, which made them social, multi-use spaces: light breakfast spots, teen hangouts, places to read a story to the kids. The chain also included an unusual number of two-story locations, and many urban or downtown ones as well. Despite its large footprint and rapid expansion, many of its stores were architecturally unique. In a fascinating and detailed post on the chain’s style , architect Marc Lortie notes, “Some Borders stores featured circular turret towers that would jut out of the corner of the façade, physically embodying some of the idyllic romance and innocence of children’s books.”

Borders curated its selection with some attention to local interests , ameliorating some of the concern over the fate of local, idiosyncratic bookstores. And despite the heat it took as a corporate chain, Borders unquestionably increased the quantity and variety of books available to the average consumer at reasonable prices, combining the discounting of Walmart with the browsing ability of the local library. “The big-box store [for books] was a glorious thing while it lasted,” Wharton School professor Dan Raff told NPR in 2011. “To people in many parts of America, they were a kind of Aladdin’s cave.”

But Borders also did damage to itself. One widely noted misstep was the chain’s emphasis on media sales—CDs and DVDs—even as it was becoming increasingly clear that physical media was a dwindling market. (Although if Borders had eked it out, perhaps they’d be selling vinyl today!) Unlike Barnes & Noble, which rolled out its own e-reader in 2009, Borders showed little interest in e-books. And in an early and deeply symbolic misstep, the company outsourced its e-commerce operations in 2001 —to Amazon. It later took back its own web operations in 2008, too late and behind the e-commerce curve.

There were also concerns that the company had overexpanded, a mistake common to a number of defunct retailers. Many Borders locations, intentionally placed near Barnes & Noble stores, faced stiff competition. Many were oversized as well. In a Twitter thread I started about the chain, one former employee recalled being told by his general manager that Borders offered a “third space”—i.e., neither home nor work —“and how that justified huge square footage, multi-levels, and a café even at stores that (unlike ours) didn’t have high foot traffic.” The things that made Borders a pleasant space to lounge also cut into its profitability.

When it went bankrupt, Borders was so big that its failure stranded over $200 million in unused gift cards , triggering a multi-year legal saga that ended in the Supreme Court declining to involve itself in the issue . Who knew a bookstore would help set a precedent that gift-card holders are basically out of luck when a company goes bankrupt?

B ut along with the memories, the worthless plastic, and a throwback webpage on the Barnes & Noble website welcoming former Borders customers , Borders lives on in the form of its vacated real estate, the afterlife of which is still unfolding. Storefronts in the category-killer segment have proven difficult to fill in recent years—many of the category killers who would otherwise lease them are themselves struggling or defunct , and the spaces tend to be too small for discount department stores and too large for most others. They’re useless to a Walmart or Target, which have fewer competitors than they had even twenty years ago; and they’re too large for things like drugstores, specialty shops, and most small businesses.

For some insight, I asked on Twitter if anybody recalled a local Borders location, and what its status is today. To my surprise, I received nearly 100 responses regarding locations all over the country, representing a considerable share of the chain’s entire portfolio. In addition to those tips, I used Google Maps and its Street View function to look at a number of former Borders sites. The fate of these stores says something about where America’s overbuilt retail is going. Broken down roughly, this is what happened to them.

Of the sizable sample I looked at, only a few have been demolished. About 10 percent have been subdivided into two or more spaces. A small number have become other bookstores—the Books-A-Million chain, for example, took over several Borders locations. A few have become restaurants; the space seems to suit a certain kind of big-scaled eatery . Somewhat larger numbers have become furniture showrooms or medium-sized discount stores like Ross or Home Goods. About 10 percent have become larger clothing or fashion stores, such as H&M, Forever 21, or even Sephora. About 12 percent are currently vacant; some have been other stores in between, such as the now-defunct Pier 1, while a few have been vacant ever since Borders closed. Only about 16 percent are other category killers: everything from Total Wine to Hobby Lobby to Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Perhaps surprisingly, nearly a fifth of the sample I looked at have become small-format or medium-sized supermarkets, from Aldi to Whole Foods to Fresh Market. This may herald a trend towards downsizing in supermarket spaces , which could in turn leave a raft of oversized and vacant former supermarkets to fill.

But even more surprisingly, a little more than a fifth of the former Borders spaces I looked at are no longer retail at all; their uses include studios, gyms, medical clinics or facilities, a daycare, and a coworking space. It’s clear that on the one hand, there are in fact many possibilities for these kinds of retail spaces, but on the other hand, their traditional options are dwindling.

Decades ago, Borders pioneered the new idea of category-specific superstores in the book space, transforming how Americans searched for, bought, and read books. For those who miss the concept, Barnes & Noble remains a surprisingly solid company, likely to hold on for many years to come. But in its own way, Borders remains. First the driver and then the victim of retail innovation, now its old spaces are evolving and giving us a real-time preview of a new era in the American built environment.

Addison Del Mastro

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Timeline: A short history of Borders Group bookstores

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Borders Group Inc has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The No. 2 U.S. bookseller, which operates namesake superstores as well as the smaller Waldenbooks chain, has contended with double-digit comparable sales declines for two years.

Here are some key dates in Borders' history:

Tom and Louis Border found Borders Book Shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kmart buys Borders, then a Michigan-based chain of 21 book superstores in the Midwest and Northeast. In 1984, KMart buys Waldenbooks.

Kmart spins off Borders-Walden Group in an IPO and changes its name to Borders Group.

Announces plans for an international superstore chain that would have 1,000 locations. At that point, it had 203 stores.

Launches Borders Online, but analysts fault it for being late to embrace e-commerce.

April: Company buys toy retailer All Wound Up, a deal that harms its liquidity. The plan foretells Borders' intention to expand its toys and games selection in late 2010 to diversify its offerings.

March: Hires Merrill Lynch & Co to review options, including a recapitalization, leveraged buyout or combination with another company.

April: Announces a deal with Amazon.com Inc to relaunch Borders' money-losing e-commerce site and feature Amazon.com's books and music offerings.

Bill Ackman's Pershing Square takes 11 percent stake in Borders, saying its shares are undervalued and could rise to $36 from $23.92. Ackman says fears of the threat from online retailer Amazon.com are "exaggerated."

March: Says it might put itself up for sale, but never finds a buyer. It also gets $42.5 million loan from Ackman's firm and says it would have faced imminent liquidity problems without it.

May: Barnes & Noble puts together a team to look at a merger with Borders. Separately, Borders launched its own web site.

April: Says it expects only 50-60 of its Waldenbooks stores to survive in the long term. It had 564 in 2006.

Jan 28: Announces cuts of 10 percent of corporate jobs.

March 31: Repays $42.5 million loan to Pershing Square, gets more credit and posts a profit on cost cuts. Shares jump.

July 7: Launches e-book store, eight months after Barnes & Noble.

December 6: Ackman offers to finance a merger with larger rival Barnes & Noble Inc..

January 27: Borders says it gets conditional refinancing commitment from GE Capital and warns it may seek an "in court restructuring," meaning a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

January 30: Borders says it is delaying payment to vendors and landlords, among other creditors.

February 4: Borders gets warning from New York Stock Exchange about low share price, says it could be delisted.

February 16: Borders files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection in Manhattan.

Sources: Reuters archives, Borders Group website

Compiled by Phil Wahba

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Borders of the Al Maya Group is a household name in the UAE and has currently been awarded with a Superbrands Status. Borders is a one-stop shop for everyone, with books that are powerful and allow individuals to be literally inspired. Borders opened its first store in 2006 and since then has revolutionized the book retail in the Middle East and have soon become a place for knowledge and entertainment in the United Arab Emirates and Gulf region, offering a wide range of books, stationery, toys and games.

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borders book shop

Store Showcase: Borders Books and Music

In 1971 an 800-square-foot independent used bookstore called “Borders Book Shop” was opened by two brothers. And it was these two gentlemen, Tom and Louis Borders, who helped pioneer the book megastore business.

Border's Books and Music

After opening additional stores in Michigan, Atlanta, and Indianapolis the brothers developed an inventory system tailored to bookshops. This system not only kept track of the inventory but also accurately projected sales for each store location. This gave them a very competitive edge over any competition.

Borders Books and Music

After almost two decades of continual growth, the brothers decided to set their sights on a new concept for the book retail industry. And in 1985 they opened their first prototype large-scale retail store, complete with a coffee bar. This store was to become the predecessor of many that came afterward.

Borders Books and music

The success of the store caused a sensation and the rise of similar competing stores was quick. The book industry was alive and healthy. The brothers knew this was the time to make the expansion they always hoped for. It was time to take the Borders name national.

Borders Books and Music Mystery Section

In 1988 Robert DiRomualdo, the president and chief executive of Hickory Farms joined the Borders brothers. With his help Borders opened another 14 new stores within just three years. And by 1992 Borders had quadrupled its size. Borders was now a household name, and most would consider them the premier retail book store chain of the 1990s.

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Russia-Ukraine war – live: Putin to give shock G20 speech as Moscow troops desert Donetsk frontline

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Vladimir Putin will set out Russia ’s view of the “deeply unstable world situation” in a shock G20 speech this week, the Kremlin has said, as Ukraine claimed growing numbers of Moscow’s troops were deserting the frontline in Donetsk .

Ukraine’s military has been bracing for a “third wave” of Russian assaults on the key city of Avdiivka – but a spokesperson claimed Moscow was being forced to rely increasingly on penal recruits and reservists due to its soldiers refusing to take part in casualty-heavy assaults.

Further south, Kyiv ’s forces claimed to have pushed Mr Putin’s forces three to eight kilometres back on the banks of the Dnipro River , in what would mark the first significant advance by Kyiv’s forces months into a grindingly slow counteroffensive.

Ukrainian and Russian forces have been entrenched on opposite sides of the vast waterway in Kherson for more than a year, until Kyiv claimed last week to have finally established multiple footholds on the river’s eastern bank.

Ukrainian army pushing Russian forces back at Dnipro river

Russia launches waves of drone strikes on Kyiv for second night

Cluster bombs in battle for Avdiivka fuelling stalemate on frontline, says UK

Ukraine establishes 'several bridgeheads' on eastern bank of Dnipro

Russian defence minister claims Ukraine failing to cross the Dnipro River

11:08 , Tom Watling

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu has claimed that Ukraine have failed to carry out a landing operation in the Kherson region, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Russian politician, a senior figure involved in the “special military operation” and an integral member of Vladimir Putin’s siloviki (inner circle), was echoing dismissive claims made by the official channel of his own ministry earlier today.

Andriy Shevchenko urges the world not to forget Ukraine: ‘The cold is coming. Russia will try to hit our energy’

10:45 , Tom Watling

Almost two years into Russia’s devastating invasion, one of Ukraine’s most famous exports is desperate to keep shining a light on his country’s plight, writes Lawrence Ostlere , as global attention shifts to the Middle East.n

Andriy Shevchenko on Ukraine: ‘The cold is coming. Russia will try to hit our energy’

Russia says co-existence not possible with Ukraine's current 'regime'

10:20 , Tom Watling

Russia cannot co-exist with the current Ukrainian “regime” and will resist the might of the NATO military alliance for as long as Moscow needs to achieve its aims, a senior Russian foreign ministry diplomat said on Tuesday.

“The current regime is absolutely toxic, we do not see any options for co-existence with it at the moment,” Russian Ambassador-at-Large Rodion Miroshnik told reporters in Moscow.

Miroshnik said Ukraine had carried out crimes against civilians and that NATO had supplied forbidden weapons to Ukraine but that the West would eventually lose interest in Ukraine.

“We can resist NATO just as much as we need to fulfill the tasks that the president has formulated,” Miroshnik said.

European Council president arrives in Kyiv to discuss ‘next steps’ of EU accession

09:54 , Tom Watling

Charles Michel, the European Council president, has also arrived in Kyiv ahead of talks about Ukrainian accession to the European Union.

Moldovan leader Maia Sandu arrived in the Ukrainian capital earlier this morning, as did German defence minister Boris Pistorius.

In a statement on X, Ms Sandu said that “discussing the next steps in EU accession of Moldova and Ukraine” was on the agenda for discussions.

She added that “enhancing regional security” as well as discussion on the “EU’s continued support of reforms and development in our countries” would also be a part of meetings today.

Mr Michel was greeted by the EU’s ambassador to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova, at Kyiv’s railway station. She can be seen shaking Mr Michel’s hand below in a picture posted by the European Council chief to X. He captioned the photo: “Good to be back in Kyiv - among friends.”

Good to be back in Kyiv – among friends. pic.twitter.com/w9cAQzqYyo — Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) November 21, 2023

‘It’s like Covid’: Zelensky says Putin has made ‘five or six’ attempts on his life

09:48 , Tom Watling

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that at least “five or six” Russian attempts to assassinate him have been foiled by his security services.

The wartime leader, speaking from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, said the volume of attempts had turned him almost numb to the danger. He compared the later attempts to catching the Covid-19 infection.

“The first one is very interesting , when it is the first time, and after that it is just like Covid,” he said in a new interview.

You can read the full story here.

Ukraine air defence downs 9 out of 10 Russian drones

09:35 , Tom Watling

Ukraine air defence shot down one missile and 9 out of 10 drones in a Russian overnight strike, the nation’s air force has said.

The air force said in a statement the Russian forces launched Iranian-made drones from Russian territory on several directions.

US announce $100m aid package for Ukraine

09:17 , Tom Watling

The US have announced that they will send an additional $100 million in security aid to Ukraine.

The pledge follows US defence secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Kyiv yesterday, during which he promised American support “for the long haul”.

Included in the latest package is one High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and an unspecified number of shells.

Ukraine’s ministry of defence welcomed the package in a statement on X. The amount, however, is minimal to the point of nominal; Ukraine has been using billions of dollars worth of munitions and heavy weaponry every month.

While the US Congress remains frozen without a fiscal plan for next year, they are unable to send more significant packages to Ukraine.

🇺🇸 @DeptofDefense announced additional security assistance for Ukraine valued at up to $100 million. Thank you for supporting Ukraine in our struggle against russian aggression. The capabilities in this package include: ◾️1 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and… — Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) November 21, 2023

Moldova's president Maia Sandu arrives in Ukraine

09:09 , Tom Watling

Moldova’s President Maia Sandu have arrived in Kyiv, the Ukrainian presidential office said on Tuesday.

Sandu and Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy honoured the memory of people who died during the Revolution of Dignity 10 year ago, the office said on social media platform X.

German defence minister Boris Pistorius also arrived on Tuesday morning in Kyiv.

Today marks 10 years since the start of Euromaidan, a defining moment for Ukraine’s European path. Together with @ZelenskyyUa and @ZelenskaUA , I honoured all those who stood for freedom and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their legacy lives on. pic.twitter.com/2cti4oFGR2 — Maia Sandu (@sandumaiamd) November 21, 2023

Here are some of the latest pictures from Ukraine

08:30 , Tom Watling

Good morning. Below are some of the latest pictures from Ukraine as German defence minister Boris Pistorius arrived in Kyiv this morning for a secret visit.

His visit comes as snow has begun to fall in eastern Ukraine amid fears of a stalemate on the frontline.

General Valery Zaluzhny, the chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, wrote an article earlier this month in which he said the battle had descended into “positional” warfare and that there would be no major breakthrough such as the one many had hoped the summer counteroffensive would achieve. He met with US defece secretary Lloyd Austin yesterday.

Russia says it scuppers more Ukrainian attempts to cross the Dnipro

07:53 , Tara Cobham

Russia said on Tuesday that marines, aviation and artillery had scuppered more Ukrainian attempts to gain a foothold on the eastern bank of the River Dnipro and on islands at the mouth of the river in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine said this month that its forces had crossed the Dnipro and established several bridgeheads on the eastern banks of the river, though Russia said it was pummelling the Ukrainian positions.

"Black Sea Fleet marines are stopping all attempts by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to carry out amphibious landings on the Dnipro islands and the left bank of the Dnipro River," Russia's defence ministry said.

The Russian defence ministry published a video which it said showed marines from the 810th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade defeating Ukrainian forces. Soldiers were shown firing a variety of weapons, though the result of the fighting was unclear.

It said Ukrainian forces were suffering heavy casualties and losing equipment in unsuccessful attempts to land on islands in the Dnipro. Reuters was unable to immediately verify battlefield accounts from either side.

It is still unclear how significant the Ukrainian attempt to gain a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro is. Crossing the Dnipro leaves Ukrainian units exposed between river and marshland on one side and heavily fortified Russian lines on the other.

Russian strikes kill two and wound six in eastern Ukraine, say officials

07:42 , Tara Cobham

Two people were killed and six were wounded in overnight Russian missile attacks and shelling in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday.

Missiles hit a hospital in the Donetsk town of Selydove and a coal mine, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on the Telegram messaging service.

"Two buildings of the hospital were damaged, six civilians were injured. There may be victims under the rubble, search operations continue," Klymenko said.

One worker was killed in the attack on the coal mine, he said.

"Four buildings, 19 vehicles and a power line were damaged. 39 miners were trapped underground. As of now, all miners have been brought to the surface," he said.

Invading Russian forces have occupied much of Donetsk and Russia has said it intends to take over the whole region.

In Kharkiv, one person was killed in Russian shelling, the region's governor, Oleh Synehubov, said.

Bodies of Ukrainian and Russian troops exchanged

07:00 , Alexander Butler

The bodies of Ukrainian and Russian troops have been exchanged.

The Coordination Headquarters on the Treatment of Prisoners of War said around 94 Ukrainian troops were returned to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine said forensic examinations will now take place to identify the bodies.

The bodies of Russian troops were also handed over, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Russia may begin full mobilisation after 2024 presidential election, says senior security official

06:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia may begin full mobilisation after the 2024 Russian presidential election on 17 March, the secretary of the national security and defence council of Ukraine, Oleksii Danilov, has suggested.

Danilov said in a speech to the International Security Forum in Halifax, Canada: “Russia has managed to adapt, and constantly injects funds into its defence sector. Russia proved to be more resilient to the west’s sanctions, as expected.

“Russia is increasingly putting its economy on a war footing. Total mobilisation may follow the 2024 presidential elections.”

Russia lodges protest against Finnish ambassador as country threatens more borders will close

04:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia’s foreign ministry has said it has lodged a formal protest with the Finnish ambassador in Moscow over the closure of four busy border crossings between Russia and Finland.

On Saturday, Finland closed crossings on the shared border in a bid to halt the flow of asylum seekers that it says was instigated by Moscow.

Only four crossing points remain open, which the Russian foreign ministry said has impacted tens of thousands of people in both countries.

Russian drones target Kyiv as UK Defense Ministry says little chance of front-line change

03:00 , Alexander Butler

Russian drones targeted Kyiv on Sunday as the British Defense Ministry said there were “few immediate prospects” for major change along the Ukrainian front line as the war enters its second winter.

Russia launched 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight, targeting the Ukrainian capital and the Cherkasy and Poltava regions, according to a military statement. Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems shot down 15 of the drones.

The overnight strike on Kyiv is the second attack on the Ukrainian capital in 48 hours, said the city’s Military Administration spokesperson, Serhii Popko.

NATO committed to Bosnia's territorial integrity condemns 'malign' Russian influence

01:00 , Alexander Butler

NATO supports Bosnia‘s territorial integrity and is concerned by “malign foreign interference,” including by Russia, in the volatile Balkans region that went through a devastating war in the 1990s, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.

Sarajevo is the first stop on Stoltenberg’s tour of Western Balkan countries that will also include Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia.

“The Allies strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “We are concerned by the secessionist and divisive rhetoric as well as malign foreign interference, including Russia.”

At least 11,000 children in ‘re-education’ camps in Russia, UK ministry of defence says

00:01 , Alexander Butler

Russia is holding at least 11,000 Ukrainian children across 43 “re-education” camps, the UK ministry of defence said.

“At least 11,000 Ukrainian children are reportedly being detained at 43 re-education camps across Russia, thousands of miles from home. Their simple right to life and liberty is being impacted,” the ministry said on X.

At least 11,000 Ukrainian children are reportedly being detained at 43 re-education camps across Russia, thousands of miles from home. Their simple right to life and liberty is being impacted. #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/Dk7Lh9E935 — Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) November 20, 2023

Russia bars Moldovan nationals, summoning ambassador

Monday 20 November 2023 22:00 , Alexander Butler

Russia barred entry to a number of officials from Moldova on Monday and complained about moves by its pro-European government to block Russian media outlets ahead of local elections earlier this month.

The moves were the latest in a series of acerbic exchanges between the two sides and allegations by Moldova that Russia has been exerting pressure on the ex-Soviet state’s affairs and President Maia Sandu’s drive to join the European Union.

A Russian foreign ministry statement said Moldovan Ambassador Lilian Darie was summoned to be told of the decision.

“The Moldovan side was presented with a decisive protest in connection with the continuing politically motivated persecution of Russian media in Moldova, including the blocking of access to their Internet sites,” a ministry statement said.

The US is with Ukraine ‘for the long haul’, defence secretary tells Zelensky

Monday 20 November 2023 20:13 , Alexander Butler

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the country remains behind Ukraine as it continues its war with Russia. It comes after announcing a further package of defensive aid worth $100m.

“The message that I bring you today is that the United States of America is with you. We will remain with you for the long haul,” Mr Austin said.

He added: “I think they are prepared for combat in the winter. They did a great job last year. This year we expect them to be, just based on what President Zelensky has said, them to be even more aggressive.”

Ukrainian sniper ‘breaks world record after killing Russian solider nearly 2.5 miles away’

Monday 20 November 2023 18:12 , Alexander Butler

A Ukrainian sniper claims to have broken the world record by killing a Russian soldier almost 2.5 miles away, with a custom rifle called ‘Lord of the Horizon’, Holly Evans reports.

The previous record was held by a Canadian special operations sniper at a distance of 2.2 miles in Iraq in 2017.

In a press statement, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said: “The SBU sniper set a world record for a successful shot.

“He hit a Russian soldier from an incredible distance.

“SBU snipers are changing the rules of world sniping, demonstrating the ability to work effectively at fantastic distances.”

Ukrainian sniper ‘breaks world record after killing solider nearly 2.5 miles away’

Full report: Russia puts Ukrainian winner of Eurovision Song Contest on wanted list

Monday 20 November 2023 17:14 , Andy Gregory

Russia has placed a Ukrainian singer who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on its wanted list, state news agencies reported Monday.

The independent news site Mediazona said singer Susana Jamaladinova was charged under a Russian law adopted last year which outlaws spreading so-called fake information about the war in Ukraine.

Russia puts Ukrainian winner of Eurovision Song Contest on wanted list

Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Lachlan Murdoch in Kyiv

Monday 20 November 2023 16:46 , Andy Gregory

Volodymyr Zelensky has met Fox Corp chief executive Lachlan Murdoch in the Ukrainian capital, in what Kyiv described as a “very important signal” of support at a time when global media attention has shifted from the war in Ukraine.

“The Head of State thanked Lachlan Murdoch for his visit and emphasised that it is a very important signal of support at the time when the world’s attention is blurred by other events,” the Ukrainian president’s office said.

Mr Zelensky was quoted by his office as saying it was vital to keep the world’s attention focused on the war in Ukraine, adding: “For us, for our warriors, this is not a movie. These are our lives. This is daily hard work. And it will not be over as quickly as we would like, but we have no right to give up and we will not.”

Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall, who was badly wounded covering the war in Ukraine last year, and Sun journalist Jerome Starkey were also invited to the meeting with Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son, who was named the sole chair of News Corp in September.

ICYMI: Zelensky invites Trump to Ukraine after claims he could stop war in 24 hours

Monday 20 November 2023 16:24 , Andy Gregory

Opinion | Ukrainian victory is all but certain – so long as its allies do not seek a ‘way out'

Monday 20 November 2023 16:03 , Andy Gregory

In this Independent Voices piece, James Nixey of Chatham House writes:

Calling the war a stalemate is an obvious example of self-defeat: if it is believed that Ukraine cannot win the war, then Ukraine will not be given weapons to win the war which, in turn, means … they will not win the war. It takes rare political courage to imagine Ukraine’s victory, although EU officials Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell have managed this.

Ukraine’s EU accession, likely and in progress, and Nato accession, less likely in times of war and very dependent on US backing, will be a hollow victory if its resources dry up. Russia has had a poor war – its Black Sea fleet has retreated from Crimea, meaning it will have problems defending the peninsula, and Ukraine’s counter-offensive at Avdiivka has been costly for Russia.

But Russia can absorb costs like no other. Its industry is war-mobilised and its soldiers are dispensable, replaceable commodities. Depopulation and brain drain are problems for another day and arguably affect Ukraine more. Nor should a bad plan be mistaken for a bad army that does not learn from its mistakes. Russia does. And it may have been forced to turn to North Korea to fill a “munitions gap”, but that too has worked.

Vladimir Putin’s ideology is delusional of course, but he remains deeply committed to seeing his war through to a successful conclusion: “all in” and long since recovered from the Prigozhin affair, he surely believes he can win.

But it also remains the case that a Ukrainian victory is possible – more than possible. In fact, it is all but certain; but only if Western countries do not “get tired”, do not look for a “way out”, and if Ukraine is given the tools to finish the job.

Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – the West must not turn away now

‘Double standards’ in Israel-Hamas conflict have ‘undermined fight' for Ukraine, says Varadkar

Monday 20 November 2023 15:38 , Andy Gregory

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said there is “double standards” from the EU and some Western powers in relation to Israel and Palestine.

The Taoiseach said the stance of some Western countries in response to the Israel-Hamas war had “undermined the fight” to garner support for Ukraine as it battles against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Here is the full report:

Varadkar raises concerns about EU ‘double standards’ on Israel and Palestine

Kyiv hoping for Poland talks over lorry driver protests

Monday 20 November 2023 15:09 , Andy Gregory

Kyiv hopes to hold a new round of talks with Poland and the European Union this week to resolve an issue with Polish lorry drivers holding protests to block border crossings, a Ukrainian trade representative has said.

“This week we hope to have negotiations in a trilateral format,” Taras Kachka told broadcasters.

Yesterday, some 3,000 mostly Ukrainian lorries – including those carrying fuel and humanitarian aid – were caught on the Polish side of the border due to a more than 10-day blockade by Polish hauliers, Ukrainian officials said.

The hauliers are protesting against what they see as government inaction over a loss of business to foreign competitors since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

US defence secretary meets with Zelensky in Kyiv

Monday 20 November 2023 14:32 , Andy Gregory

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has said he was “honoured” to meet Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during a surprise visit to Kyiv today – his second since April 2022.

Washington will “continue to support Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs and long-term defence requirements”, Mr Austin said.

I was honored to meet with President @ZelenskyyUa in Kyiv today to reaffirm the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine. We, along with our allies and partners, will continue to support Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs and long-term defense requirements. pic.twitter.com/Odv6ClgcrP — Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) November 20, 2023

Russia places Eurovision winner on its wanted list

Monday 20 November 2023 14:03 , Andy Gregory

Russia has placed the 2016 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest on its wanted list.

An Interior Ministry database lists Ukrainian singer Susana Jamaladinova – who uses the stage name Jamala, and is of Crimean Tatar descent – as being sought for violating a criminal law, Russian state news agencies reported.

She won the Eurovision contest with the song “1944,” whose title refers to the year the Soviet Union deported Crimean Tatars en masse. Russia protested the song being allowed in the competition, saying it violated rules against political speech. But the song made no specific criticism of Russia or the Soviet Union.

The independent news site Mediazona said Ms Jamaladinova was charged under a Russian law adopted last year to outlaw the spread of so-called fake information about the Ukraine war.

Watch: Lazarus Project star says series predicted Russia-Ukraine war

Monday 20 November 2023 13:35 , Andy Gregory

Top Ukrainian cyber defence officials sacked amid corruption probe

Monday 20 November 2023 13:22 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine has sacked two high-ranking cyber defence officials amid a probe into alleged embezzlement, a senior government official said.

Yurii Shchyhol, head of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP), and his deputy, Viktor Zhora, were dismissed by the government, cabinet chief Taras Melnychuk said on Monday.

The firings coincided with an announcement by anti-corruption prosecutors that they were investigating officials in cyber defence positions over their alleged roles in a six-person plot to embezzle 62 million Ukrainian hryvnia (£1.38m) in 2021.

Prosecutors did not identify either official by name, and the SSSCIP did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

Jailed Russian nationalist Girkin hopes to challenge Putin in presidential elections

Monday 20 November 2023 12:56 , Andy Gregory

Pro-war Russian nationalist Igor Girkin has announced that he wants to run for president – despite understanding the upcoming March election will be “sham” with the winner already clear.

Mr Girkin – who is in custody awaiting trial for inciting extremism – has repeatedly said Russia faces revolution and even civil war unless Vladimir Putin’s military top brass fight the war in Ukraine more effectively.

A former FSB officer who helped annex Crimea in 2014 and organise pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, Mr Girkin said before his arrest that he and his supporters were entering politics.

“I understand perfectly well that in the current situation in Russia, participating in the presidential campaign is like sitting down at a table to play with card sharps,” he said in a letter published on Telegram entitled: “I am going to run.”

Mr Girkin said that he did not think that he would be allowed to take part in the election, but hoped that his attempt to unite patriotic forces would disrupt the Kremlin’s plan for a “sham election” in which “the only winner is known in advance”.

Analysis | Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – now is not the moment for the West to turn away

Monday 20 November 2023 12:27 , Andy Gregory

In this Independent Voices piece, James Nixey – director of Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Programme – writes:

When Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, was fooled recently by two well-known Russian “comics” – surely paid-up Kremlin agents – into saying she was “tired” of the war in Ukraine and that everyone would soon be looking for a “way out”, too many of her counterparts in the West would have tacitly agreed (and perhaps sympathised: she is hardly the first to be pranked by these two).

But Ms Meloni deserves no sympathy. She thought she was talking to the head of the African Union Commission so this should have been a chance to exercise statecraft and reason with the supposed representative from the Global South and argue that Russia’s war in Ukraine is nothing if not colonialist itself – a desperate attempt to maintain its empire.

But Ms Meloni’s admission was worse than just not showing moral leadership. She was also playing into Russia’s hands by parroting its narrative: being tired and looking for a way out of the war is precisely what Vladimir Putin now wants from the Western world.

Nato concerned by secessionist rhetoric and Russian influence in Bosnia

Monday 20 November 2023 11:58 , Andy Gregory

Jens Stoltenberg has said Nato is concerned by secessionist rhetoric and Russian influence in Bosnia, after months of Serb leaders increasingly saying they want to split and join Serbia.

Bosnia emerged from civil war in 1995 with a federal structure uniting a Serb-dominated republic and a federation of Croats and Bosniak Muslims. But the leader of Serbian entity, Milorad Dodik, has increasingly said in recent months that he aims to secede and join neighbouring Serbia.

“We are concerned by secessionist and divisive rhetoric as well as ... foreign interference including Russia,” the Nato chief told reporters in Sarajevo, during a tour of the western Balkans region.

“This undermines the stability and hampers reform,” Mr Stoltenberg said, adding that all political leaders must work to preserve unity, build national institutions and achieve reconciliation.

Nato had deployed about 60,000 troops in Bosnia after the war, which were replaced by an EU peacekeeping force in 2004. Last year, the EU almost doubled its size to 1,100 troops, amid fears that instability from the Ukraine war could spill over to the western Balkans.

Putin to address G20 summit this week, Kremlin says

Monday 20 November 2023 11:15 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin will set out Russia’s view of what it sees as the “deeply unstable world situation” when he addresses an upcoming virtual G20 summit, the Kremlin has said.

Russian state TV presenter Pavel Zarubin said on his Telegram channel on Sunday that it would be the “first event in a long time” including both the Russian president and Western leaders.

According to the state RIA news agency, the G20 virtual summit will be held on Wednesday.

Russia relying on penal recruits to stem increase in deserters on Donetsk frontline, Ukraine claims

Monday 20 November 2023 11:06 , Andy Gregory

Growing numbers of Russian soldiers are deserting the frontline in Donetsk, Ukraine’s military has claimed as it braces for a long-awaited “third wave” of attacks by Moscow’s forces in Avdiivka.

The Institute for Study of War think-tank cited Ukrainian Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun as saying that Russia may soon intensify artillery preparations for the new wave of assaults on the strategically key city.

Moscow’s forces have not actively used heavy military equipment Avdiivka in recent days, have decreased aviation use in the area, and are increasingly using infantry, he said, claiming that Russia’s significant losses mean only 10 to 15 percent of some detachments’ original personnel remain.

In remarks on Sunday, Mr Shtupun claimed there were growing numbers of Russian deserters and personnel who refuse to conduct offensive operations, leading Russian commanders to use physical force and barrier troops to push Russian forces to fight, with an increased reliance on mobilised reservists and penal recruits.

EU sanctions tend to have ‘boomerang effect’, Russia claims

Monday 20 November 2023 10:54 , Andy Gregory

The Kremlin has claimed that European Union sanctions tend to have a “boomerang effect”, as Moscow faces the prospect of an EU ban on imports of Russian diamonds.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that such a move had been anticipated for a long time, but was likely to backfire.

“As a rule, it turns out that a boomerang effect is partially triggered: the interests of the Europeans themselves suffer. So far, we have been able to find ways to minimise the negative consequences of sanctions,” he claimed.

EU diplomatic sources told Reuters last week that the proposal under discussion was to ban direct diamond imports from Russia from 1 January, and to implement a traceability mechanism by March which would prevent imports of Russian gems processed in third countries.

Exclusive: Andriy Shevchenko urges the world not to forget Ukraine

Monday 20 November 2023 10:29 , Andy Gregory

On the morning of 24 February 2022 – a date etched in every Ukrainian’s mind – Andriy Shevchenko was woken by a phone call from his mother. She told him through tears that Russia was invading. Shevchenko was in London, where he lives with his wife and four sons; his mother and wider family were in Ukraine, under attack.

Shevchenko has barely slept since. “It’s almost impossible,” he says. “It’s going to be almost two years since the full war started, and every day I wake up, check the phone – what’s the news? Are we going to be attacked in Kyiv? Are we going to be attacked in a different city? How many drones? How many rockets? Where have the rockets hit? And then, talking to my friends – who’s dead? It’s a normal day for us.”

Shevchenko is using his platform as one of Europe’s greatest footballers, a Ballon d’Or winner and a Chelsea cult hero to keep the spotlight on Ukraine at a time when the world’s attention has turned to the Middle East. In the West, the initial shock caused by Russia’s invasion has subsided, and a sense of normalisation has crept in. He is understandably worried that Ukraine’s cause might be forgotten.

“I hope not,” he says. “Because for us, it’s everything. For us, it’s exist or not exist.”

Our senior sports writer Lawrence Ostlere has the full exclusive interview here:

Andriy Shevchenko on Ukraine: ‘Every day I wake up, check the phone. Who’s dead?’

Kremlin ‘deeply regrets’ Finland’s border closures

Monday 20 November 2023 10:08 , Andy Gregory

The Kremlin has said it deeply regrets Finland’s decision to close crossings along the two countries’ vast border on Saturday.

Finland closed four crossings on Saturday in a bid to halt the flow of asylum-seekers, having accused Moscow of funnelling migrants to the frontier in retaliation for Helsinki’s ascension to Nato and increased Western military cooperation since the invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied Finland’s accusation on Monday and insisted that Russian border guards were carrying out their duties in line with the rules.

Asked about the closure of the four crossings, Mr Peskov told reporters: “This causes nothing but deep regret, because we had long-standing, very good relations with Finland, pragmatic, based on mutual respect.

“And of course, we regret that these relations were replaced by such an exclusively Russophobic position, which the leaders of this country began to espouse,” he said.

Moscow protest shows lengthy Russian deployments to frontline ‘unsustainable’, says UK

Monday 20 November 2023 09:44 , Andy Gregory

Protests in Moscow by the wives of Russian soldiers show that their lengthy deployments to the front line are increasingly viewed as unsustainable, Britain’s Ministry of Defence suggested.

Russian wives and mothers have been making daily online appeals protesting against the conditions of their loved ones’ service since the invasion of Ukraine last February.

“However, Russia’s draconian legislation has so far prevented troops’ relatives from coalescing into an influential lobbying force, as soldiers’ mothers did during the Afghan-Soviet War of the 1980s,” said the ministry”.

But on 7 November, they held a rare street protest in Moscow’s central Teatralnya Square, unfurling banners demanding the rotation of their partners away from the frontline.

Police broke up the protest within minutes, according to the ministry, which added: “However, the protestors’ immediate demand is notable.

“The apparently indefinitely extended combat deployments of personnel without rotation is increasingly seen as unsustainable by both the troops themselves and by their relatives.”

US defence secretary’s visit to Kyiv is his first since early months of war

Monday 20 November 2023 09:21 , Andy Gregory

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has made an unannounced visit to Kyiv today, as he pushes to keep money and weapons flowing to Ukraine.

Mr Austin travelled by train from Poland, and is scheduled to meet with senior Ukrainian officials.

It marks his second trip to Kyiv – with his first having taken place in April 2022, just two months after Russia’s invasion.

Two killed in Kherson after Russia shells parking lot, officials say

Monday 20 November 2023 08:55 , Andy Gregory

Two people have been killed this morning after Russian forces shelled a parking lot in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, according to officials.

Regional prosecutors said they had opened a war-crimes investigation into the artillery strike, which occurred at around 9am and injured one other person.

Kherson governor Oleksandr Prokudin said the two dead were drivers for “a private transport business”.

Images posted on Telegram showed firefighters dousing cars that had been blasted apart, one day after a separate strike on the city wounded five people, including a 3-year-old girl.

Russian forces have regularly shelled Kherson from across the Dnipro River since the city was liberated last November by Ukrainian troops – who are now seeking to push Moscow’s troops away from the river after establishing a foothold on the opposite bank.

Second drone in as many days shot down near Moscow as Russia and Ukraine exchange attacks on capitals

Monday 20 November 2023 08:29 , Andy Gregory

Russia and Ukraine sent drones targeting each other’s capital cities over the weekend in signs of renewed intensity for their aerial warfare, my colleague Arpan Rai reports.

Drones were shot down on both Saturday and Sunday in areas around Kyiv and Moscow. Air defence systems for both sides intercepted attacks and no casualties were reported.

Multiple drones that were heading for Moscow and Russia’s border areas on Sunday were downed by Russian air defence systems over the weekend, officials said.

Kyiv has promised to wage a major drone campaign against Russia this winter, as bad weather conditions make it difficult to conduct operations on the ground.

Russia under Ukraine’s drone attack for two nights in row as Moscow remains on target

Zelensky dismisses Ukraine’s military medical chief

Monday 20 November 2023 08:11 , Andy Gregory

Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed Major General Tetiana Ostashchenko as the commander of Ukraine’s medical forces, as he demanded rapid changes in the operations of the country’s military medical system.

“In today’s meeting with defence minister [Rustem] Umerov, priorities were set,” the Ukrainian president said in his nightly address on Sunday. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”

He added: “The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers.”

A wide range of improvements are needed, Mr Zelensky said – from better tourniquets, to improvements in digitalisation and communication.

Ms Ostashchenko was replaced by Major General Anatoliy Kazmirchuk, head of a military clinic in Kyiv.

US defence secretary arrives in Kyiv

Monday 20 November 2023 07:45 , Andy Gregory

US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin has arrived for a visit in Kyiv.

I just arrived in Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian leaders. I’m here today to deliver an important message – the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine in their fight for freedom against Russia’s aggression, both now and into the future. pic.twitter.com/1D96aeeACl — Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) November 20, 2023

Two killed as grenade explodes in Kyiv apartment

Monday 20 November 2023 07:26 , Andy Gregory

A Ukrainian soldier and a woman died when a grenade exploded in an apartment in Kyiv, injuring a second man, police said.

Explosives technicians and investigators were working at the scene of Sunday’s explosion in the Dniprovskiy district, Kyiv police said in a statement.

“A citizen contacted the police with a report that an explosion rang out in a neighbouring apartment,” they added.

Earlier this month, an aide to Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhnyi, died when a grenade given to him as a birthday gift blew up.

An orphaned teenager who was taken to Russia early in the Ukraine war is back home with relatives

Monday 20 November 2023 07:00 , Holly Evans

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.

Read the full article here

Putin could face new war crime case as evidence suggests starvation of Ukraine was pre-planned

Monday 20 November 2023 05:30 , Holly Evans

Russia was actively preparing to steal grain supplies and starve the Ukrainian population of food for months before Vladimir Putin ordered last year’s invasion, according to new evidence compiled by human rights experts.

When Russian tanks did roll across the border on 24 February 2022 they deliberately targeted grain-rich areas and food production infrastructure first, the new report by international human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance found.

GRC found that Russia’s defence contractor began purchasing trucks to transport grain, as well as three new 170-metre bulk carrier cargo ships, as early as December 2021, evidence of advance planning for the pillage of Ukrainian food resources “on an unprecedented scale”.

Putin could face new war crime case over ‘planned’ starvation of Ukraine

Wife of twice-poisoned Briton held in Kremlin prison fears ‘time is running out’

Monday 20 November 2023 04:30 , Holly Evans

The wife of a British-Russian national held in a Krelimn prison says she fears time is running out, and has called for the UK to take more urgent action to free him.

Vladimir Kara-Murza survived two near-fatal poisonings, in 2015 and 2017, which resulted in organ failure and polyneuropathy, a condition that causes nerve damage.

The Vladimir Putin critic was jailed for 25 years in April this year on charges of treason and spreading “false information” about Russia’s war in Ukraine .

Zelensky calls for rapid operation changes and sacks commander

Monday 20 November 2023 03:30 , Holly Evans

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday demanded rapid changes in the operations of Ukraine’s military and announced the dismissal of the commander of the military’s medical forces.

Zelensky’s move was announced as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, and coincided with debate over the conduct of the 20-month-old war against Russia, with questions over how quickly a counteroffensive in the east and south is proceeding.

“In today’s meeting with Defence Minister Umerov, priorities were set,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”

Zelensky said he had replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces.

“The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers,” he said.

This, he said, included a range of issues -- better tourniquets, digitalisation and better communication.

Umerov acknowledged the change on the Telegram messaging app and set as top priorities digitalisation, “tactical medicine” and rotation of servicemen.

Plight of one Ukraine village illustrates toll of Russia’s invasion

Monday 20 November 2023 02:30 , Holly Evans

Kamianka lies in a charming valley of bright flowers and lush trees. It used to be portrayed as a model village for a contented life in rural idyll. It was also a place of archaeological and geological lure, with its rare bronze age and Scythian sites and Jurassic limestone cliffs attracting visitors from afar.

The settlement , set in a sleepy hollow, was established in the 18th century by a count from the Tsar of Russia ’s court who had returned from Britain with new methods of farming and an English bride. Keen to put his new knowledge into practice, he allocated land, built a mill, constructed roads and funded a church and a school.

But Kamianka, in eastern Ukraine , also has a dark history of violence.

Read the full article from Kim Sengupta here

Russia’s plan B in Ukraine is working – now is not the moment for the West to turn away

Monday 20 November 2023 01:30 , Holly Evans

hen Italy ’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni , was fooled recently by two well-known Russian “comics” – surely paid-up Kremlin agents – into saying she was “tired” of the war in Ukraine and that everyone would soon be looking for a “way out”, too many of her counterparts in the West would have tacitly agreed (and perhaps sympathised: she is hardly the first to be pranked by these two).

But Ms Meloni deserves no sympathy. She thought she was talking to the head of the African Union Commission so this should have been a chance to exercise statecraft and reason with the supposed representative from the Global South and argue that Russia ’s war in Ukraine is nothing if not colonialist itself – a desperate attempt to maintain its empire.

Russia, with an abundance of chutzpah and an absence of shame, claims that it is the West that is being colonialist in forcing its designs on Kyiv (even supposedly “Nazi-ruled Kyiv”). You have to apply to join Nato and the EU, of course, but facts like these are irrelevant.

Read the full article from James Nixey here

Moscow mayor says air defence units intercept drone targeting city

Monday 20 November 2023 00:30 , Holly Evans

Air defence units in Moscow intercepted a drone targeting the city on Sunday, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

Sobyanin, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said units in the Elektrostal district in the capital’s east had intercepted the drone.

According to preliminary information, falling debris resulting from the operation had caused no casualties or damage, Sobyanin said.

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