The Ukrainian army chief reckons that Russia could attack Kyiv again early next year. Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is demanding modern tanks from the EU. All information about the Ukraine war can be found in the news ticker.
9:12 a.m .: On Friday, Russia again carried out massive rocket attacks on numerous regions of Ukraine. There was an air alert in large parts of the country, as the warning maps showed in the morning. There were also reports of explosions in the capital Kyiv after the deployment of anti-aircraft defenses. Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed the attacks in the Telegram news service and called on people to seek protection.
Numerous regions reported rocket fire, including Zaporizhia, Mykolayiv, Vinnytsia, Poltava, Dniprotepetrovsk and Kharkiv. Accordingly, Russia again specifically targeted the energy infrastructure. It was initially unclear whether there were victims and how extensive the damage was.
The Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine also reported rocket fire. In the town of Lantratowka in the Luhansk region, 8 people are said to have been killed and 20 people injured by fire from the Ukrainian side. This was reported by the Russian state news agency Tass, according to local rescue services. The information could not be verified by an independent party.
4:39 a.m .: The federal government wants to step up its efforts to maintain the energy supply in war-torn Ukraine. The Federal Ministry of Economics will contribute around 100 million euros to a program of the European Energy Community this year, the ministry said on request. The budget committee has released the necessary funds for this.
Ukraine should be supported in the short term in repairing and continuing to operate the energy infrastructure, because the Russian armed forces have been attacking the critical infrastructure of Ukraine intensified and targeted since October. The contribution from the Ministry of Economic Affairs is in addition to the contribution from the Federal Foreign Office of 30 million euros.
In addition, the Ministry of Economics is paying 40 million euros into a World Bank pot to finance measures for the modernization and maintenance of the Ukrainian electricity transmission network. The ministry is also giving an additional 20 million euros for a project by the German Society for International Cooperation.
1:30 a.m.: The United States wants to increase the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Germany. This was announced on Thursday by a spokesman for the Department of Defense in Washington. The new program should start at the beginning of the year and “train around 500 Ukrainian soldiers per month”.
Washington has been supporting Ukraine with massive military aid since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. Ukrainian soldiers were also trained for the weapons supplied by the USA. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the new program would include more complex training. Among other things, the Ukrainian soldiers should be trained in the best possible interaction between infantry and artillery and joint maneuvers should be held.
The new training program is said to take place in Germany. Ryder said it would be in addition to the special training courses already taking place on handling US weapons delivered to Kyiv. According to him, the USA has so far trained around 3,100 Ukrainian soldiers, and their allies have trained around 12,000 other Ukrainian soldiers.
Friday, December 16, 12:40 a.m.: The international development bank FCI wants to support companies in Ukraine with aid worth 2 billion US dollars (1.88 billion euros). Initially, the focus is on rebuilding and maintaining the critical infrastructure – for example through funding for farms and importing fuel. The Ukrainian private sector has shown “unprecedented resilience” in the face of the war, which must be supported and expanded, said IFC director Makhtar Diop on Thursday (local time) in Washington. “The provision of capital during this extraordinary time is essential to keep businesses and essential services afloat and, when the time comes, to prepare for the massive recovery efforts that lie ahead.”
Since February 24, Russia has been waging a devastating war of aggression against Ukraine. The Russian attacks have partially destroyed infrastructure in vital areas such as energy, transport, agriculture and also water and health care. As part of the World Bank Group, the FCI (Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation) development bank has specialized in the promotion of private companies. It offers various financing products such as loans, equity investments, guarantees and advice.
11:48 p.m .: According to Ukrainian information, the southern Ukrainian city of Cherson was the target of massive Russian attacks on Thursday. “Since the beginning of the day alone, Russia has bombed Kherson more than 16 times, just in a single day,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening video message. There were also “brutal Russian attacks” in the Donbass and Kharkiv regions.
The city of Kherson has come under repeated Russian attacks since it was retaken from Ukraine a month ago. Regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevich told the Telegram online service that the latest attacks had led to a power outage in the city. According to the Ukrainian Presidential Office, two people were killed in the Russian attacks on Kherson.
10:27 p.m .: The US is expanding its training programs for Ukrainian soldiers. Defense Department spokesman Pat Ryder announced in Washington on Thursday that the training, which has so far been focused on the use of weapons, will be supplemented by maneuvers. In the future, the training will include units for 400 Ukrainian soldiers every month, also as a supplement to programs from the EU and Great Britain.
The exercises should therefore take place at training places in Germany. According to the US Department of Defense, the United States has provided more than $19 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s war of aggression began in late February.
9:20 p.m .: Russia has warned the United States against delivering Patriot anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine. If such reports are confirmed, it would be “another provocative step” by the United States, State Department spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in Moscow on Thursday. The USA would thus allow itself to be drawn deeper and deeper into the conflict – “with all the ensuing consequences.” Zakharova also announced that the Russian army would target “Patriot” missiles as priority targets. Russia has been waging a war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine since the end of February.
8:48 p.m .: The Ukrainian army chief Valery Saluschnyj has warned of a new Russian attack on Kyiv early next year. “The Russians are raising new troops of around 200,000 soldiers. I have no doubt that they will try to capture Kyiv again,” Zalushnyi told the British weekly The Economist. That is why it is “a very important strategic task” to have reserves ready and to prepare for the war – which could take place in February or at best in March, “at the worst as early as the end of January”.
In their attack on Ukraine in late February, Russian troops aimed to quickly capture the capital, Kyiv. However, they were held up a few dozen kilometers from the city and had to withdraw from the region at the end of March. Most recently, the fighting has been concentrated primarily in the east and south of Ukraine.
But according to Zalushny, it won’t stay that way. The Russians have been bombing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since October because “they need time to build up resources” for a large-scale offensive in the coming months.
He knew he could “beat this enemy,” Zalushny assured, “but I need resources.” The Ukrainian army has “done all the calculations – how many tanks, artillery we need, and so on,” he said, adding: “I need 300 tanks, 600 to 700 armored personnel carriers, 500 howitzers.”
3:12 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the EU states to supply modern tanks to defend against Russian attackers.
“There is no rational reason why Ukraine shouldn’t get it now,” he said on Thursday at the EU summit, to which he was connected via video.
“I ask you to show leadership. Whoever is the first to deliver modern tanks opens up the possibility of supplies from all over the world and will be remembered as one of the greatest defenders of freedom of our time.”
The same applies to longer-range artillery and missile systems, which could accelerate the end of Russian aggression. “All of this would mean a direct saving of millions of lives.”
Ukraine has long been asking its allies for Western-style battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. According to Ukrainian information, talks are currently underway with the federal government about the delivery of German makes of the Leopard 2 and Marder types. Chancellor Olaf Scholz does not want to deliver such tanks as long as they are not supplied by other alliance partners.
The SPD politician has repeatedly emphasized that Germany will not go it alone on this issue. The US government has no problem with supplying German Leopard 2 main battle tanks or German Patriot anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said a few days ago in Berlin: “Our position is the same in both cases: it is Germany’s decision what Germany does.”
1:39 p.m .: The Ukrainian military leadership has ruled out a ceasefire between the New Year and the Orthodox Christmas.
“I believe that there will be a full ceasefire on our part only when there is no longer an occupier on our soil,” General Oleksiy Hromov said at a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday. The Kremlin had previously announced that no ceasefire was planned over the upcoming public holidays in early January.
The situation at the front has “not changed significantly” at the moment, said Hromow. In the Luhansk region, however, Ukrainian troops advanced about a kilometer and a half to the small town of Kreminna.
In the south of the country, Russian troops shelled the city of Cherson, which was liberated by the Ukrainian army in November. According to Ukrainian authorities, two people were killed and two injured. As a result of the shelling, the city was completely without electricity.
Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, the Russian occupiers reported heavy shelling of the city of Donetsk, which they controlled, with rocket launchers, among other things. According to them, at least one person was killed and nine others injured.
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