According to state information, the Russian air defense has repelled another drone attack on the Crimean peninsula. In the middle of the Russian war of aggression, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent his compatriots a message for the Orthodox Christmas. All news about the Ukraine war can be found in the Newsticker.

5:32 a.m .: In the middle of the Russian war of aggression, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj sent his compatriots a message for Orthodox Christmas. “This is a holiday of harmony and family unity. And together we are all one big Ukrainian family,” he said in a video released Friday night. Several Orthodox churches traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

More than 300 days after the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian family is united like never before – “in their courage, their steadfastness, their mutual respect and their mutual help,” said Zelenskyj, who is in the video in a festively decorated hall and a military green one wears a shirt with small armor embroidered on it.

The United States has meanwhile promised further military aid to the attacked country – it is the largest single package of this kind since the beginning of the war, according to Washington. Germany, in turn, wants to deliver its promised Marder armored personnel carriers from the Bundeswehr stocks.

Saturday, January 7, 2023, 4:13 a.m.: According to state information, the Russian air defense system has again repelled a drone attack on the Crimean Peninsula, which has been annexed by Moscow since 2014. The unmanned flying object was shot down early on Saturday morning over a pier near Sevastopol, the naval base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the city’s governor, Mikhail Rasvozhayev, wrote in his Telegram channel, according to the Tass state agency. The port has been the target of Ukrainian drone attacks on several occasions, most recently on January 4 when two drones were shot down.

Despite the ceasefire unilaterally announced by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas, renewed fighting broke out in Ukraine. The 36-hour ceasefire, which was due to begin Friday noon Moscow time (10:00 a.m. CET), would have been the first ceasefire along the entire frontline since Russia’s war of aggression began on February 24 last year. The Orthodox Churches of Ukraine traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

Rasvozhayev further complained that even the “Holy Christmas” could not prevent the “inhuman beings” from “attacking our hero city”. Ukraine had rejected the ceasefire on the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas celebrations as a hypocritical diversionary maneuver by the Russian attackers. On Friday, the air alert was in place for the entire Ukraine for around two hours – despite the ceasefire. Meanwhile, according to Tass, Putin attended an Orthodox Christmas service in the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Annunciation.

Russia supplies its occupying forces in southern Ukraine primarily through Crimea. Ukraine is therefore repeatedly targeting logistical and military targets on the peninsula. The recovery of Crimea is also one of Kiev’s declared goals after the Russian war of aggression has increasingly stalled in recent months. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that this could be done through diplomatic or military channels.

11:05 p.m .: On Friday, the United States announced its most extensive military aid package for Ukraine worth three billion dollars (the equivalent of around 2.82 billion euros). The package, which includes 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and dozens of other armored vehicles, will enable Ukraine to “advance and retake terrain,” US Deputy Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper told reporters on Friday.

It’s “the biggest package we’ve promised so far,” Cooper said. The Bradley armored personnel carriers, which are to be supplied with 500 TOW anti-tank missiles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for their machine cannons, are considered to be of military importance.

The vehicles would further strengthen “Ukraine’s ability to conduct complex maneuvers,” said Cooper, who is responsible for Russia and Ukraine at the Pentagon. This is particularly true in the south and east of the country – and in almost all weather conditions and in almost any terrain.

On Thursday, the United States and Germany announced the delivery of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles through Washington and Marder infantry fighting vehicles through Berlin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the new package from Washington in his evening video message as “swift and strong”. Kyiv gets “exactly what is needed right now”. With the new package, total US military aid to Ukraine since the Russian war of aggression began in February 2022 totals more than $24.2 billion.

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit previously said on Friday that Germany would provide Kyiv with around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles in the first quarter of the year.

For a long time, Ukraine has been pushing for the delivery of heavier weapons, including main battle tanks, in order to go on the offensive against Russia. While Bradley and Marder are not main battle tanks, they are considered powerful enough to take on Russian tanks.

8:56 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has reiterated his gratitude for the announced infantry fighting vehicle deliveries from Germany and the USA. “We managed to take Ukraine’s strength and defense cooperation with partners to a new level,” said Zelenskyy in his video address on Friday evening. “From now on, Ukraine will have more anti-aircraft defenses, more armored vehicles, western tanks for the first time, more guns and missiles.”

The United States had previously announced a new package for Kyiv worth around three billion US dollars (2.8 billion euros), which should also include Bradley-type armored personnel carriers. The attacked country is to receive around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles and a Patriot anti-aircraft system from Germany. Although Ukraine has received Western tanks in the past, these were anti-aircraft, armored transport or recovery tanks and not – as this time – armored personnel carriers.

“Germany has taken a significant step forward in strengthening the security of not only Ukraine but all of Europe,” said Zelensky, who also spoke to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on the phone earlier in the day.

7:18 p.m .: There were fighting in Ukraine on Friday despite the ceasefire ordered unilaterally by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian Presidential Office reported that Russian forces had attacked the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Kurakhove. The Russian Defense Ministry, on the other hand, said the army was observing the ceasefire. Journalists from the AFP news agency also heard shots from both sides in the heavily contested town of Bakhmut.

The ceasefire was to last from Friday morning to Saturday evening during Orthodox Christmas. According to the Kremlin, the Russian army should stop fighting along the entire front from 10:00 a.m. (CET).

“The occupiers twice attacked the city with rockets,” wrote the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Kyryklo Tymoshenko, about the situation in Kramatorsk. A residential building was also hit, but there were no victims. Residential buildings and a medical facility were damaged in the city of Kurachowe. Local authorities also reported artillery shelling and other attacks on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk region.

Moscow, on the other hand, claims to have seen attacks only on the Ukrainian side. “Despite Russian armed forces observing the ceasefire (…), the Kiev regime continued artillery shelling of population centers and Russian army positions,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in online networks.

Tymoshenko, on the other hand, said Russian forces had also attacked the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. Accordingly, there were “at least four explosions” in which numerous people were killed or injured. Tymoshenko did not say whether the attack came before or after the ceasefire announced by Moscow.

It is the first time since Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine began that Moscow has announced a full ceasefire in the country. Before that, there had been brief pauses in fighting in some places – for example, for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol in April.

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