Russia releases US basketball player Brittney Griner. Ukraine has apparently attacked the military bases in Russia with old Soviet drones. Vladimir Putin admits that the war against Ukraine can become “a long process”. All current voices and developments on the Ukraine war in the ticker.

10:21 a.m .: According to a media report, the United States wants to impose further sanctions on Russia and China on Friday. The measures were directed against human rights violations by both countries, Russia’s use of Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine and Beijing’s support for alleged illegal fishing in the Pacific, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing government circles familiar with the matter.

Accordingly, the sanctions are aimed at high-ranking members of the government, military and business, whom the United States accuses of human rights abuses and corruption. As part of the sanctions, US-deposited assets of the targets would be frozen and their entry into and business with the US would be banned, the newspaper said. For government employees and business people, these measures could also affect their international travel and financial activities – affected companies would be cut off from access to the world’s largest markets.

A large part of the sanctions should be passed as part of the “Global Magnitsky Act”. The law is named after tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of corruption.

Further sanctions were directed against representatives of the Russian arms industry, the report said. The United States accuses them of being involved in providing Iranian military drones for the Russian war in Ukraine. The drones are said to have flown deadly attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, US officials said.

Friday, December 9, 8:39 a.m .: After a break of several weeks, Russia has probably attacked Ukraine again with the help of Iranian drones, according to British information. If reports are verified, it means Russia has received supplies, the UK Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence report on Friday. It is likely that Russia has previously used up its current stock of hundreds of Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones – so-called kamikaze drones.

Official Ukrainian reports were referred to in London. Accordingly, the Ukrainian secret service announced on December 6 that 17 drones had been shot down, including 14 Shahed-136. On December 7, it was said that kamikaze drones had been used in attacks on Zaporizhia and Dnipro Oblasts. A Shahed-136 shot down had previously been reported on November 17. If the new attacks are confirmed, “it is likely that Russia has resumed attacks with newly delivered kamikaze drones,” London said.

The British Ministry of Defense has been publishing daily information on the course of the war since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February, citing intelligence information. In doing so, the British government wants to both counter the Russian portrayal and keep allies in line. Moscow accuses London of a disinformation campaign.

10:50 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has complained about the danger posed by Russian mines on Ukrainian territory. “This is the form of Russian terror that we will have to contend with for years to come,” he said in his daily video message on Thursday. He accused Russia of deliberately leaving the mines as a deadly threat to civilians as well. He is therefore certain that mine terrorism is one of the charges against Russia.

9.40 p.m .: In an interview with “n-tv”, political scientist Thomas Jäger makes it clear that a demand for security guarantees for Russia is absurd. “From a European point of view, it is not about security guarantees FOR Russia at the moment, but about security guarantees BEFORE Russia. Russia does not need security guarantees either, for the simple reason that no one is threatening Russia,” said Jäger.

According to Jäger, the fault lies with French President Emmanuel Macron, who used the Russian term “security guarantees”.

However, this presupposes that Russia would be actively threatened. He said: “Anyone who says Russia needs security guarantees assumes that NATO is threatening Russia. In this logic, Russia is only defending itself. This is exactly what Russian propaganda wants to suggest: in this narrative, Ukraine is not fighting a defensive battle against Russia, but Russia is fighting NATO.”

8:45 p.m .: According to a media report, around 300,000 Ukrainians have received a Russian passport since the beginning of the war. In October alone, after the annexation of four Ukrainian regions by the Kremlin, 70,000 to 80,000 people were naturalized, the Kremlin-critical Internet portal Mediazona said on Thursday, citing statistics from the Ministry of the Interior. Most applicants received their new Russian passports in the southern Russian region of Rostov-on-Don and in the Crimea peninsula, annexed by Moscow since 2014.

According to Mediazona, the reason for applying for the passports is the otherwise completely lawless situation of the residents in the areas annexed by Russia. “Often they don’t get medical help or social support without a (Russian) passport. For example, a family with a small child was taken to the Crimea, the child fell ill. To get help for the child, they needed a Russian passport,” Mediazona quoted a helper as saying.

6:20 p.m .: As a result of the oil price cap and the associated new regulations, some oil tankers are currently prohibited from passing through the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey. The Turkish Ministry of Transport announced on Thursday that 15 tankers were currently waiting to be checked whether the ships’ insurances were still valid. Only insured tankers are allowed to pass through the more southern Dardanelles straits.

An EU regulation has been in force since Monday, which is intended to force Russia to sell oil to customers in other countries for a maximum of 60 dollars per barrel (159 liters). Since then, Western insurance companies have only been able to insure shipments of Russian oil if the upper price limit is observed. Otherwise they have to reckon with sanctions. The G7 countries and Australia support the oil price cap.

2:20 p.m .: The US basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia, has been released in a prisoner exchange. It was exchanged for the Russian arms dealer Viktor But (also Bout), also known as the “Dealer of Death”, who was arrested in the United States at Abu Dhabi airport, the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow announced on Thursday. The negotiations had been going on for months. Russia and the US have exchanged prisoners in the past, despite tensions over Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.

In August, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in a camp for drug possession in a trial heavily criticized by the United States. Most recently, she was transferred to a women’s prison in the Russian republic of Mordovia in the greater Volga region. From the beginning there was hope that the 32-year-old could be released if prisoners were exchanged.

7:43 a.m .: In the attacks on two Russian military bases hundreds of kilometers in Russia, Ukraine is said to have used converted Tu-141 Soviet drones. This is reported by the “Politico” portal, citing two people familiar with the operation. “The most important success factor was surprise. Russia didn’t expect anything like that,” a source is quoted as saying.

In an interview with FOCUS online, the Austrian army colonel Markus Reisner considered it very likely that the drones were modified Soviet drones. Read more about this here.

According to Russian sources, at least three soldiers were killed and others injured in the attack on two Russian military airfields in the Ryazan and Saratov regions. Russian long-range bombers, with which Russia has been repeatedly attacking critical infrastructure in Ukraine for months, are also said to have been damaged. Ukraine has not yet officially claimed responsibility for the attacks.

4:35 a.m .: According to President Volodymyr Selenskyj, the Ukrainian army has liberated around 2,000 Russian-occupied towns in the country. “We have already succeeded in liberating 1,888 towns from the occupiers,” said the head of state on Wednesday in his evening video speech. “Almost as many Ukrainian towns and villages are still occupied,” he added.

According to Zelenskyj, Russia attacked the city of Kurakhove near Donetsk in the east of the country on Wednesday. The “very brutal attack” killed ten people and injured “many more”. The Russian troops “targeted normal people,” said the Ukrainian president.

Fighting between the two sides is currently concentrated in the region. “It’s a tough confrontation, every meter counts,” said Zelenskyj.

Thursday, December 8, 2:27 a.m.: According to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the danger of a nuclear escalation in the Ukraine war has decreased. “Russia has stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons. In response to the international community marking a red line,” Scholz told Funke Mediengruppe newspapers and French newspaper Ouest-France.

“During my visit to Beijing, Chinese President Xi and I jointly expressed that nuclear weapons should not be used. Shortly thereafter, the G20 countries reaffirmed this stance.” When asked whether the danger of a nuclear escalation has been averted, the SPD politician said: “For the moment we have taken a peg against it.”

Scholz called on Russia to end the war immediately and withdraw troops from Ukraine. “It is correct that the question then becomes how we can achieve security for Europe,” he said, referring to statements by French President Emmanuel Macron on possible security guarantees for Russia. “Of course we are ready to talk to Russia about arms control in Europe. We already offered that before the war and nothing has changed in this position.”

Scholz once again defended the extent of German support for Ukraine. “After the United States, Germany is one of the countries that supports Ukraine the most, including with weapons,” said the Chancellor. “By the way, no one has delivered Western-style main battle tanks,” added Scholz.

In order to save the peace order in Europe, Germany also accepts economic disadvantages and spends more money on its defense capabilities. “Because there is no guarantee that Russia will not attack other countries,” said Scholz. At the same time he emphasized: “We are doing everything to prevent a direct war between Russia and NATO. Such a conflict would only have losers – all over the world.”

11:32 p.m.: The son of a former top Russian official with ties to President Vladimir Putin has been acquitted in a drone case in Norway. This was reported by the NTB news agency on Wednesday evening. While the defender of the accused businessman Andrei Yakunin expressed his satisfaction with the verdict, the responsible public prosecutor announced an appeal to the radio station NRK and the newspaper “Verdens Gang”.

Yakunin, a 47-year-old British-Russian national, had denied the allegations before a court in Tromso, northern Norway. There he was accused of flying a drone illegally on a sailing trip in Spitsbergen in the summer, thereby violating sanctions for Russian citizens. He was arrested for this in mid-October.

Recently, drones have been repeatedly sighted over sensitive infrastructure in Norway, including oil platforms in the North Sea or airports. Several Russians were arrested in the course of this and some were sentenced to several months in prison – Yakunin’s acquittal could now have an impact on these sentences.

Yakunin’s father is Vladimir Yakunin, a former head of the Russian railways and one of the founders of the dacha cooperative “Osero”, of which Putin was also a member. All of the founding members went on to have careers either as businessmen or high-ranking officials after Putin’s election to the presidency. Yakunin himself was sorted out from Putin’s closest circle a few years ago.

11:14 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has reported ongoing heavy fighting in the east of his country. Ten people were killed in recent Russian attacks on the city of Kurakhove in the Donetsk region, Zelensky said in his video speech on Thursday night. About the situation around the small town of Bakhmut, which the Russians have been trying to take for months, which is currently being particularly heavily shelled, he said: “There is a very tough confrontation there. Every meter counts.” He also thanked all Ukrainian soldiers who opposed the attackers.

Russia invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago on February 24th. Since then, according to Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian army has liberated almost 1,900 towns. Just as many places are still occupied, he explained.

4:47 p.m .: Roughly nine and a half months after the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not rule out a long war against the neighboring country. “Of course, it can be a long process,” Putin said on Wednesday at a meeting with representatives of a human rights council he had set up himself.

Independent Russian media, citing circles close to the Kremlin, reported that the members of the Human Rights Council had to pledge before the meeting not to raise certain issues with Putin, such as the army’s poor equipment. The members of the committee are hand-picked by Putin, and he recently had critical representatives replaced.

2:35 p.m .: The war in Ukraine reminds Pope Francis of the crimes of the Holocaust. At the general audience on Wednesday in the Vatican, the pontiff greeted pilgrims from Poland and mentioned an initiative by the Catholic University of Lublin for “Operation Reinhardt”. This was the National Socialists’ code name for the systematic murder of Jews and Roma in Poland during World War II – almost two million people were killed by the Nazis.

“May the memory of this terrible event inspire us all to resolve and act for peace,” Francis said, before adding, “And history repeats itself, it repeats itself. Now let’s see what’s happening in Ukraine.” Russia has been waging a war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine since the end of February.

09:22: Fatal accident in the Russian-controlled part of the Donetsk region. A military truck crashed into a minibus carrying civilians on a road between Shakhtyorsk and Torez. According to the first media reports, 16 people died. Three others were injured and taken to a hospital.

A video shows how the truck is at an angle on the road. The front is dented and is apparently hanging in the completely destroyed minibus.

9:06 a.m .: According to British secret services, Russia is increasingly building defensive positions on the border with Ukraine. Sophisticated systems to defend against attacks have been set up in the border region of Belgorod, according to a report by the Ministry of Defense in London on Wednesday. Trenches were also dug there. London interpreted this as concerns about a Ukrainian invasion. It is also conceivable that the Kremlin wants to strengthen patriotism in its own country.

The British Ministry of Defense has been publishing daily information on the course of the war since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February, citing intelligence information. In doing so, the British government wants to both counter the Russian portrayal and keep allies in line. Moscow accuses London of a disinformation campaign.

5:38 a.m .: The United States has apparently manipulated the Himars rocket launchers delivered to Ukraine in such a way that they cannot be used to attack Russian territory. The Wall Street Journal claims to have learned this from a US official.

The rocket launchers had been modified so that they could only fire rockets supplied by the US. The missiles delivered in this way would have a shorter range than those that are also Himars-compatible – which would have allowed Ukraine to attack targets on Russian soil.

5:17 a.m .: Two weeks ago, Defense Minister Lambrecht proposed moving the Patriots to Poland. Her Polish colleague Blaszczak initially accepted the offer. A day later, however, he surprisingly suggested that German anti-aircraft defenses should be stationed on Ukrainian territory instead of in Poland. This caused resentment in Berlin.

“After a discussion with the German Defense Ministry, I was disappointed with the decision to refuse support for Ukraine. Deploying Patriots in western Ukraine would increase the security of Poles and Ukrainians,” Blaszczak wrote on Twitter. They are therefore working on stationing the Patriots in Poland.

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