NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is demanding more arms deliveries from Germany to Ukraine. 50 Russian soldiers die in an attack on the Russian-occupied city of Berdyansk. All news about the Ukraine war can be found in the Newsticker.
3:07 a.m .: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Germany and the other alliance states to continue supplying arms to Ukraine. “It may sound paradoxical, but military support for Ukraine is the fastest way to peace,” the Norwegian told the German Press Agency at the turn of the year. The background is that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be convinced that he will not achieve his goal of taking control of Ukraine. Then there could be a peaceful negotiated solution that would ensure the survival of Ukraine as an independent democratic state.
Stoltenberg also made it clear that he considers the recent Ukrainian attacks on military targets in Russia to be perfectly legitimate. “Every country has the right to defend itself. Ukraine too,” he said. In the case of the Ukrainian attacks, the context must also be seen. These are massive Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure aimed at depriving Ukrainian civilians of water, heating and electricity in winter.
When asked whether he thought it would be okay to provide Ukraine with medium-range missiles, Stoltenberg said there was a constant dialogue between allies and with Ukraine on specific systems. He also pointed out that NATO allies had already supplied long-range weapon systems to Ukraine in the past. These include Himars missile launchers, long-range artillery, and drones.
2:14 a.m .: US President Joe Biden has signed his government’s new budget law, which, among other things, provides for billions in aid for Ukraine. With his signature, Biden put into effect the $1.7 trillion budget approved by both chambers of Congress on Thursday evening (local time). About half of the budget – almost 858 billion US dollars – is spent on defense. Around 45 billion US dollars are earmarked for supporting Ukraine.
Passing the budget bill is a win for Biden’s Democrats. The budget provides slightly more support for Ukraine than the President originally requested from the House and Senate. Only on Wednesday last week did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj appeal for further support in an impassioned speech to the US Congress in Washington. “Your money is not charity, it is an investment in global security and democracy, which we will handle in the most responsible way,” Zelenskyi told both chambers of parliament.
The almost 45 billion US dollars that have now been decided for Ukraine include around 9 billion dollars for military aid and almost 16 billion dollars for economic and humanitarian aid for the country attacked by Russia. In addition, twelve billion dollars are planned to replenish the US military’s ammunition stocks and stores after deliveries to Ukraine. Another $7 billion is earmarked for additional spending by US troops in Europe.
The new budget finances government business until September 2023.
Friday, December 30, 2022, 12:01 a.m.: According to Ukrainian presidential adviser Alona Verbytska, thousands of soldiers and civilians have been missing since the war began in Ukraine. “Russia has currently confirmed 3,392 Ukrainian prisoners of war, but 15,000 people are currently missing in Ukraine, including many civilians,” she told the editorial network Germany (Friday). The fate of these people is completely uncertain, said Verbytska, who works as an ombudswoman for the rights of Ukrainian soldiers.
“We don’t know what happened to them,” she said. “Are they also in Russian captivity, have they been abducted from Russian-occupied areas or have they perhaps been killed long ago?” This uncertainty is terrible, especially for the relatives, explained Verbytska, who is also an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyj and in the search for missing persons helps.
Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly pointed out that entire families, including children, are being deported to Russia from the occupied territories.
10:27 p.m .: According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia is getting closer to an international tribunal with every further rocket attack against Ukraine. “With each such missile attack, Russia is only driving itself deeper into a dead end,” said Zelenskyj in his daily video address on Thursday evening, just a few hours after the most recent Russian large-scale attack with cruise missiles and so-called kamikaze drones. The “status of the world’s greatest terrorist” will affect Russia and its citizens for a long time to come.
“And every missile only confirms that this all has to end with a tribunal, that’s exactly how it will be,” said Zelenskyy. In his talks with foreign heads of state and government, the Ukrainian leader is trying to win their support for an International Criminal Court modeled on the Nuremberg Tribunal, before which politicians and the military from Moscow are to answer for the war of aggression against Ukraine.
According to Zelenskyy, the latest Russian missile attack has again caused serious damage to the energy grid in large parts of the country. “This year has two more days, maybe the enemy will try again to make us celebrate the New Year in the dark,” Zelenskyy warned of further attacks. “But no matter what they plan to do, we know one thing about ourselves: we will persevere.”
8:46 p.m .: After a missile was found on Belarusian territory, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has offered to cooperate in the investigation of the incident. A statement by the ministry in Kyiv published on Thursday evening said that the agency was ready for an “objective investigation into the incident”. State media in the Belarusian capital Minsk had reported that a missile launched by the S-300 air defense system had fallen on Belarusian territory on Thursday morning.
The Ministry of Defense in Kyiv pointed out that Ukraine was attacked by a wave of Russian cruise missiles on Thursday. “Therefore, a provocation by the terrorist state of Russia cannot be ruled out, which has chosen a flight path for its cruise missiles in order to provoke their launch in the airspace over Belarus,” it said. That would be a similar incident as in November when Polish territory was hit.
The Belarusian long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko was informed about the incident. Shortly thereafter, the Ukrainian ambassador in Minsk was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where he was handed a note protesting the incident,
7.35 p.m .: According to their own statements, the Ukrainian armed forces have attacked Russian bases in the vicinity of the industrial and port city of Berdyansk in the south-east of the country. Around 50 Russian soldiers were “liquidated” in the process, the General Staff in Kyiv announced on Thursday. The information could not be independently verified.
The military in Kyiv did not provide any information about the weapons systems used to attack Berdyansk. The city on the Azov Sea lies almost 100 kilometers behind the current front lines.
5.41 p.m .: According to the Russian leadership, Russia is ready to allow the use of the “Druzhba” pipeline for the transmission of Kazakh oil to Germany. Russia is ready to agree to such a request, Energy Minister Alexander Nowak said on Thursday, according to the Interfax news agency. “We are normal about this and if part of Kazakh oil from Ust-Luga is diverted to the Druzhba, then that is normal.”
Because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Europe wants to reduce its dependence on Russian oil. In this context, Germany and Poland have announced that they will no longer use Russian pipeline oil from January. In order to continue to ensure the supply, the ex-Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, among others, was asked to expand its oil supplies. According to the head of the state oil and gas company Kazmunaygas, Magsum Mirsagaliev, his company is ready to send test deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline to Germany to the PCK refinery in Schwedt from January. Until recently, the refinery in Brandenburg belonged to the Russian oil company Rosneft.
In Russia, the punishment for acts of sabotage and undermining the social order is being increased to up to life imprisonment. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin signed the relevant amendments on Thursday, according to the publication on the official law portal. Accordingly, not only acts of sabotage themselves can be punished, but also the financing, solicitation and preparation of coups and other “subversive acts”.
The tightening of the law takes place against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. After the outbreak of war, there were a series of attacks against district military replacement offices and infrastructure in Russia. Especially after the mobilization called by Putin, the wave of attacks intensified. Up until November alone, attacks on more than 75 public buildings were registered, including more than 50 military commissariats.
4:52 p.m .: In the southern Russian region of Saratov, according to the authorities, the air defense shot down a drone near the Engels-2 military airfield. We already reported at 10:04 am (see entry below). “On the territory of the district, anti-aircraft defense has become active. An unknown object was destroyed,” Governor Roman Busargin said on his Telegram channel on Thursday. There is no danger to the population. The military airfield, where Russia deploys strategic bombers for missile attacks on Ukraine, was previously attacked twice in December.
2:14 p.m.: The Ukrainian military has reported “massive” Russian rocket attacks on several cities in the country on Thursday morning. “29. December. Massive missile attacks … The enemy is attacking Ukraine on several fronts, using cruise missiles launched from planes and ships,” the Ukrainian Air Force declared in online services.
Of the total of 69 Russian missiles fired, 54 were shot down by air defenses, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zalushny said in the online service Telegram. The 16 rockets fired at Kyiv were reportedly all shot down. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said the Russian army had “launched more than 120 rockets to destroy vital civilian infrastructure and mass killings of civilians.”
In line with this topic:
1:44 p.m .: According to their own statements, the Ukrainian military has advanced near the strategically most important city of Kreminna in the Luhansk region. “Our soldiers continue their offensive actions in the area of the city of Kreminna. During the week, the defenders of Ukraine advanced up to 2.5 kilometers in the direction of the mentioned settlement,” General Oleksiy Hromov said at a General Staff briefing on Thursday. Kreminna is considered a possible gateway to advance further in eastern Ukraine.
The American think tank Institute for the Study of the War (ISW) had previously announced that the Russian army was gathering troops in the Luhansk region and preparing for a decisive battle. The Ukrainian military governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Hajdaj, also reported on his Telegram channel on Thursday about a concentration of Russian troops and heavy fighting in front of Kreminna.
1:40 p.m .: According to the authorities there, a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile crashed in Belarus on Thursday. The missile, launched from an S300 air defense system “from Ukrainian territory,” fell on Belarusian territory in the morning, the Ministry of Defense said in Minsk.
President Alexander Lukashenko was informed immediately, it said. There are two possible explanations for the incident: either the missile went off course and accidentally landed on Belarusian territory, or it was shot down by Belarusian air defenses.
A Telegram account close to the authorities distributed photos of rocket debris in a field. There was no immediate information about injuries or damage. The former Soviet republic of Belarus stands with Russia and supports its offensive in Ukraine.
11:19 a.m .: After the new Russian rocket attacks, 40 percent of consumers in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are without electricity, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko. The energy suppliers had taken safety precautions because of the air alarm, and they are now working on restoring the power supply, Klitschko announced on Thursday. The heat and water supply are working normally. According to authorities, 16 rockets were launched in the morning. Three people were injured, including a 14-year-old girl.
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