Internal documents of the Russian army once again show the disastrous planning of the invasion. London reports that Putin is now sending circus people to Ukraine to boost troops’ morale. All information about the Ukraine war can be found in the news ticker.
5:39 a.m .: According to the military administration of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv was attacked by Russia with drones on Monday night. “The enemy is attacking the capital,” the military administration said on Telegram. Nine enemy unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down in Kyiv airspace. She called on the population to pay attention to air alerts.
At 1:56 a.m., the capital’s civil administration issued an initial air alert, which lasted a little over three hours. A second alarm at 5:24 a.m. was canceled after half an hour. According to the Ukrainian military administration, the Russian armed forces used Iranian-made Shahed drones.
05:20: The Ukrainian military leadership fears new Russian rocket attacks at the turn of the year. As army spokesman Yuri Ignat explained on Sunday, it cannot be ruled out that the enemy will “congratulate” in this way at the end of the year. “They have a clear plan in which they have laid down priority goals.” The aim is to damage Ukraine as much as possible.
“And depending on where it hurts us the most, that’s where they’ll aim, as mean, as bold and as painful as possible,” Ignat was quoted as saying by the Unian state agency. In addition, the date of the next attacks will be set “to please the dictator (Vladimir Putin)”. But the attacks at the turn of the year were also intended to appeal to the “internal audience”, i.e. the Russian population.
The Russian military has been using a new tactic for several weeks now and is targeting Ukraine’s energy supply network with rockets and cruise missiles. As a result, the supply of electricity, water and district heating repeatedly collapsed in Ukraine. This is primarily intended to put pressure on the civilian population this winter. Most recently, on Friday, Russia launched a major attack with over 70 projectiles, which caused severe damage in Kyiv, among other things.
5:15 a.m .: The war in Ukraine has triggered an unprecedented amount of donations for a single crisis at the Catholic aid organization Caritas International. So far, around 71 million euros have been collected for emergency aid in the country, the aid organization of the German Caritas Association in Freiburg reported to the German Press Agency. That’s more than was donated to help after the 2004 tsunami in South Asia.
Russia has been waging a war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine since the end of February. Among other things, Caritas takes care of the distribution of food and drinking water.
“Of course, our donors are also feeling the effects of the economic crisis and the consequences of the war in Ukraine,” said the head of Caritas International, Oliver Müller. However, donors in Germany are aware that millions of people around the world are more severely affected by crises. “Our donors show great solidarity because they know how badly necessary it is in these times.” The aid organization expects more donations in the year that is coming to an end.
Last year private donors, monasteries and media foundations collected almost 90 million euros. Including government and church grants, Caritas International even took in around 147 million euros.
The organization is concerned about the multitude of conflicts and disasters worldwide. Since the purchasing power of the euro against the US dollar has decreased, fewer aid supplies could be bought in some regions, spokesman Achim Reinke said.
Monday, December 19, 12:17 a.m .: Great Britain wants to continue to deliver armaments to Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, in the coming year. The British government announced on Sunday evening that several hundred thousand rounds of artillery ammunition worth around 250 million pounds (around 286 million euros) would be delivered over the course of the year. This should ensure a continuous supply of Ukraine.
So far, Britain says it has supplied Ukraine with more than 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition since the start of the war, as well as several missile systems and recently 125 anti-aircraft guns. The British see themselves as leaders in Europe.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wanted to travel to Riga, Latvia, on Monday for a meeting of the defense cooperation known as the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) and exchange views with his Scandinavian and Baltic counterparts. “To achieve peace, we must ward off aggression,” Sunak said in a statement. Cooperation like this is crucial in order to be able to react to serious threats in an emergency.
According to a BBC report citing government sources, Sunak is said to have commissioned a water level report on the Ukraine report, which is intended to examine, for example, how weapons supplied from Britain are being used there. In some security circles, there are said to be fears that Sunak could be a less determined ally on Ukraine’s side than his predecessors. In particular, ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson was very popular in Ukraine and was praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
7:17 p.m .: The Ukrainian armed forces say they have destroyed at least two Russian ammunition depots and anti-aircraft systems in fighting in the east of the country. This was announced by the General Staff in Kyiv on Sunday. The Luftwaffe flew several missions. Location information was not given.
Heavy losses were inflicted on Russian troops in bitter fighting for the city of Bakhmut in the Donbass. There, a Russian unit with a strength of 400 to 800 men fell into a carefully prepared ambush and was “put out of action,” said presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich in Kyiv. The information could not be independently verified.
During the day, the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk came under artillery fire several times. A hospital was hit, the Russian state agency TASS reported, citing local authorities. Because of the resulting fire, the evacuation of staff and patients had begun.
4:46 p.m .: According to British secret services, Moscow wants to use music and culture to strengthen the morale of its own troops in the Ukraine war. A few days ago, two so-called “creative brigades” with opera singers, actors and circus people were announced to be deployed at the front, the British Ministry of Defense said in the daily short report on Twitter on Sunday.
The British suspect that Russia’s culture and entertainment offensive is closely linked to ideologically shaped political education. This has been closely intertwined with the Russians since Soviet times. At the same time, there are doubts in London that the Kremlin can actually use this to boost the morale of the Russian troops. The biggest problems for the Russians continue to be the high number of casualties, poor leadership, problems with salaries and incomplete equipment. It was said that the creative brigades could do little with these challenges.
12:39 p.m .: According to the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, there were several explosions in the Russian city of Belgorod near the border with Ukraine. A correspondent reports that a total of nine explosions were heard. The governor said four people were injured and air defense intervened. It is unclear how many of the explosions were impacts or intercepted projectiles.
Sunday, December 18, 8:07 a.m. Secret Russian army documents once again show the disastrous planning of the invasion. The “New York Times” says it has received logs, timetables, orders, maps and other documents from two Russian divisions that prove the completely unsuccessful planning.
For example, the 76th Airborne Division was sent into the war with the aim of reaching Kyiv within 18 hours without much resistance. The planners were so sure that police units were already marching in the first rows of the Russian column to put down uprisings there after the occupation of Kiev. In addition, Russian troops were equipped with maps of Ukraine from the 1960s.
A Russian soldier summed up the situation in Ukraine to the New York Times as follows: “This is not a war. This is the destruction of the Russian people by their own commanders.”
6:23 p.m .: In an interview with the French news channel LCI, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj spoke about Vladimir Putin’s alleged “obsession” with himself. He made a clear statement.
“A man, a real man, if he wants to convey a message to someone, like smack his face, he does it all by himself, without using the services of an intermediary,” the head of state said. “If I had to convey such a message to Putin, I would do it all by myself.”
When the moderator asked if he was ready for a direct duel with the 70-year-old Putin, the 44-year-old smiled. “Always ready,” says Zelenskyj and even underlined it. “Tomorrow, but that would be President Putin’s last summit.”
4:35 p.m .: The Kremlin meanwhile informed that President Vladimir Putin spent the whole day on Friday in the command staff of the “military special operation”. The Russian leadership uses this expression to describe their war of aggression against Ukraine. Putin was informed there about the next war goals. Details were not given. On Friday, Russia once again launched massive rocket attacks on Ukraine.
In the Donetsk region, sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the Ukrainian armed forces and a camp with foreign mercenaries were also destroyed, Konashenkov said. He also confirmed Friday’s new massive rocket attacks. “The aim of the blow has been achieved. All targeted objects have been destroyed.”
3:24 p.m .: According to Klitschko, the water supply for all residents of the capital Kyiv has now been restored. Half of the citizens have heating again, Klitschko announced on Saturday in his channel in the Telegram news service. “We are working to restore heating to all citizens of the city,” he said. According to the German weather service, the temperatures in Kyiv on Saturday were around four degrees.
According to Klitschko, two-thirds of the capital’s residents have electricity again. Nevertheless, there are still emergency shutdowns because the power deficit is significant. According to the authorities, 50 percent of households in the Kiev region are still without light. The metro also resumed operations in the morning, according to Klitschko.
10:24 a.m .: According to British secret services, Moscow is now using Iranian drones from a different location than before in its war of aggression in Ukraine. In addition to air and sea-launched cruise missiles, drones provided by Iran and launched from the southern Russian region of Krasnodar were most likely used in the attacks on critical infrastructure in recent days, according to the British Ministry of Defense’s daily briefing on Twitter on Saturday.
Previously, such drones were mainly launched from the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. The British see the shift as a sign that Moscow may be concerned about Crimea’s vulnerability. In addition, it is easier for the Russians to organize supplies at the new location, since the weapons are believed to arrive in the Russian region of Astrakhan, which is closer.
08:38: Vladimir Putin is said to have ignored warnings from Russian economic experts about the consequences of an invasion shortly before the outbreak of the Ukraine war. This is reported by the Financial Times. Accordingly, about a month before the Russian invasion, Putin received numerous top economists in his country, including Herman Gref, head of Russia’s Sberbank, and Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Russian central bank.
Economists were worried about the West’s reaction should Putin recognize the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. They predicted GDP losses of up to 30 percent, inflation rates of 35 percent and the Russian economy set back by decades.
According to the report, Putin was unimpressed. While Gref listed the possible consequences, Putin simply interrupted him – and asked a question: how does Russia prevent this? The obvious answer, of course, would have been to advise Putin against a military escalation. But according to the Financial Times report, economists lacked the courage to tell Putin the truth to his face.
The newspaper quotes a person who is said to have known about the talks: “You were brave enough to ask the big man to meet you. But they failed to get the message across. You were unable to give him the only answer.”
Saturday, December 17, 8:34 a.m.: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has promised further talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin about ending the war of aggression against Ukraine. “Our goal is for Russia to end its war of aggression and for Ukraine to defend its integrity,” Scholz told the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ, Saturday edition). For this it will “be necessary to speak,” explained Scholz. “Whether that’s done by phone, video link or at a long table remains to be seen.”
Russia must “recognize that this cannot continue”. Putin must “end the war, withdraw troops and thus create the opportunity for mutual understanding”. The appeal could only be: “Putin, end this war.” In view of Russia’s military failure, the danger of an escalation is “great”.
In early December, Scholz called Putin for the first time since mid-September. According to Steffen Hebestreit, the chancellor pushed for a diplomatic solution as quickly as possible during the hour-long conversation.
The Chancellor also does not expect a gas emergency, neither this winter nor the following. In view of the state aid programs that have already been launched, “it can be assumed that with this sum we can mitigate the high prices this winter and next,” Scholz told the “SZ”. In the future, the supply situation should improve and prices on the energy market should go back down. Despite the Russian supply freeze, the supply of gas will also be guaranteed in the coming winter.
With a view to the raw materials needed for the energy transition, Germany must also overcome its “reluctance” when it comes to procurement. In the future, for example, the country must be “honest enough” to say that the cobalt needed for the batteries of electric cars can be mined “with our support” and ensure “better working and environmental conditions”. “We can’t afford to be etepetete,” Scholz continued.
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