Here is the situation on Friday, December 22, 2023.
- Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said at least three people were killed and five injured after Russia bombed two coal mines in Toretsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region. Some 32 miners who were underground at the time of the attack were brought safely to the surface, he added. The attack also damaged administrative buildings and equipment.
- Regional Governor Serhiy Lysak said two women were killed and an 86-year-old man injured in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian city of Nikopol, which lies on the Dnipro river. Russian artillery fire also killed another woman in the village of Tyagynka in the Kherson region, officials said.
- Ukraine’s air force said air defences shot down 34 out of 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched in a major Russian attack on 12 Ukrainian regions. The drones were launched in several waves during the night. There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties.
- In its regular update from the front, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Ukrainian forces repelled at least 30 Russian attacks near Avdiivka and a further 11 around nearby Maryinka – two of the hottest points on the front line in eastern Ukraine – with a further seven outside Bakhmut.
- Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said Russia had launched about 7,400 missiles and 3,700 Shahed attack drones on the country since it began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ihnat said air defences were able to shoot down 1,600 of the missiles and 2,900 of the drones. Fewer of the missiles were destroyed due to Russia’s use of supersonic ballistic missiles and because Patriot air defence systems from Western allies did not arrive until April this year, he added.
Politics and diplomacy
- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he accepted an invitation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy to hold a bilateral meeting in the future. Orban said Zelenskyy requested discussions on Ukraine’s ambitions to join the European Union. Orban did not give a date for the meeting, which would be their first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
- The EU paid the final tranche of a multibillion-euro support package to Ukraine to help keep its war-ravaged economy afloat. The EU has sent 1.5 billion euros ($1.6bn) each month this year to ensure macroeconomic stability and rebuild critical infrastructure destroyed in the war. The money has also helped pay wages and pensions, keep hospitals and schools running, and provide shelter for people forced from their homes. Future financial support is unclear because Hungary is blocking a new $54bn aid plan.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reacted angrily to a German proposal to seize frozen assets worth more than 720 million euros ($790m) from the Frankfurt bank account of a Russian financial institution. Asked about the plan at a press conference in Tunisia, Lavrov lashed out at German leaders as a “thieving lot”.
- A Russian court jailed two men, one of them Ukrainian, for financing an alleged ultranationalist group in Ukraine by selling illegal drugs. The two men were given jailed terms of 16 and 17 years after being found guilty of “financing extremist activities”.
- The chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said Moscow had established “comprehensive” defence cooperation with North Korea but did not go into detail. The United States and South Korea have said Pyongyang could be sending weapons to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine in exchange for Russian technological know-how. Russia has denied the allegation.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies