In the east of Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian troops fought heavy battles. Russian troops continued their advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Donbass on Saturday, while Ukrainian troops shelled a number of Russian-held towns. Explosions were also reported from Crimea, when Russian anti-aircraft defenses became active there for reasons that have not yet been specified.
“Donbass is the main front in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence,” Serhiy Cherevatyy, spokesman for Army Group East of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said on television on Saturday. The focus of the fighting was therefore the traffic junction of Bakhmut and the small town of Avdiivka. “The enemy has changed their tactics,” said Cherevaty. Instead of attacks by larger units, there were now attacks by smaller groups, above all by the mercenary troop “Wagner”, supported by barrel and rocket artillery. “We analyze this tactic and find an antidote for every military poison.”
The Russian military had previously reported on its offensive in the region. “In the Donetsk area, the Russian units continued their attacks and drove the enemy out of their fortified positions,” army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow on Saturday. Positions were also seized in the north between the small towns of Kreminna and Lyman. The information could not be verified independently. Reports have been circulating for weeks that the Ukrainian army is on the defensive in the Donetsk region, trying to hold its defense lines in front of the industrial city of Donetsk and east of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk conurbation.
Ukrainian forces fired rocket launchers at Donetsk several times on Saturday, according to Russian authorities. The bus station in the center and a school were also hit, the Russian state agency Tass reported. Donetsk is the largest city in the region of the same name, which was declared an independent people’s republic by Moscow-backed separatists. In the meantime, Moscow has annexed the area in violation of international law. Russia attacked the neighboring country at the end of February.
According to initial reports, two people were killed and two others injured in an attack by Ukrainian artillery on the city of Melitopol in south-eastern Ukraine, which was occupied by Russian troops. According to Tass, the representative of the occupation administration, Vladimir Rogov, said that a restaurant was hit during the attack. According to his account, several projectiles had been fired at the city from a Himars rocket launcher. A convalescent home was also hit.
In the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian troops, air defenses were activated on Saturday evening, according to military information. There were reports of air defense deployments from both Simferopol in Crimea and Melitopol in south-eastern Ukraine, Tass reported. Local residents reported numerous detonations in the sky on social media. There was no information about the nature of the possible attack or its impact.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is urging Germany and other allies to continue supplying arms to Ukraine. “I urge all allies, including Germany, to send everything to Ukraine that it needs to defend itself,” said the Prime Minister of the German Press Agency. “If all allies had sent arms as early as January or February, many lives would have been saved.” Unlike Germany, Estonia, one of the smallest EU countries, already had arms in Ukraine before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine began on February 23 delivered.
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj recognized the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the human rights organization of his compatriot Olexandra Matviychuk as a special event. “This year, for the first time, the language of Ukraine, our Ukrainian language, was heard at the ceremony – thanks to the Center for Civil Liberties and its director, Ms. Matviychuk, who was awarded the Peace Prize,” Zelenskyy said in his daily on Saturday night video address. Human rights activists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday in Oslo.
The EU states agreed on a package worth billions for Ukraine. However, the decision was taken on Saturday against Hungary’s vote, as the German Press Agency learned from EU circles. According to the decision, 18 billion euros will be paid out to Kiev in the course of the coming year. According to the original proposal by the EU Commission, a unanimous decision by the 27 EU countries was actually necessary for the aid package. However, Budapest blocked the package because of a dispute over the possible freezing of EU billions for Hungary. That is why the current Czech EU Council Presidency was looking for a way to decide on aid without Hungary.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on Sunday. The aim is to “strengthen” the corridor for cargo ships in the Black Sea set up with the grain agreement, Erdogan announced in Istanbul. He did not give details.
Also read: The Ukraine update on December 10th.