Here is the situation on Wednesday, January 3, 2024.
- Russia targeted Ukraine’s biggest cities with a barrage of drones, rockets and missiles, killing at least four people in Kyiv and one in Kharkiv. The State Emergency Service said 119 people have been injured. The bombardment, which also disrupted water and power supplies, came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would intensify attacks on Ukraine.
- Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military, said air defences shot down all 10 of the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles fired at Ukraine by Russia. The consequences of the weapons hitting their targets would have been “catastrophic”, he added.
- Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov accused Russia of “deliberately targeting critical infrastructure and residential neighbourhoods” in its attacks on Tuesday. The Russian defence ministry claimed the raids hit Ukrainian military-industrial facilities, as well as weapons storage facilities. “The goal of the strike has been achieved, all the targets have been hit,” it said.
- Poland mobilised two pairs of F-16 fighter jets and an air tanker to safeguard its airspace during Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Polish military authorities last week said a Russian missile briefly flew through the country’s airspace, prompting concern.
- Moscow said its air defences destroyed 17 Ukrainian Olkha rockets over Russia’s Belgorod, not far from the Ukrainian border. Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of Belgorod, said that one person was killed and five injured in the raids.
- Russia opened an investigation after one of its missiles accidentally hit the Russian border village of Petropavlovka, 40km (87 miles) from northeastern Ukraine, damaging several homes. No one was injured.
Politics and diplomacy
- The Russian attacks drew condemnation from across Europe. Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, reiterated the European Union’s support for Ukraine, saying Russia’s air attacks showed Moscow was not interested in peace talks. Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics, meanwhile, said the attacks were “Russian terrorism” and called on the West to provide more help to Ukraine. Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock promised Berlin’s continuing support, saying the latest attacks showed Moscow wanted to “annihilate” Ukraine.
- United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk called for the immediate de-escalation of fighting, measures to protect civilians and respect for international law following the recent “alarming escalation of hostilities”.
- Ukraine’s foreign minister urged Western allies to step up sanctions on Russia and deliver more advanced weaponry, including air defence systems and ammunition, combat drones and long-range missiles. In the US, a proposed $60bn aid package for Kyiv is being held up by Republicans in Congress, while Hungary has blocked $55bn in EU assistance for Ukraine.
- Mariana Katzarova, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in the Russian Federation, called on Moscow to immediately release two poets jailed for reading work criticising the war in Ukraine. A Moscow court last week sentenced Artyom Kamardin to seven years in prison and Yegor Shtovba to five-and-a-half years after they participated in a public poetry reading in Moscow in September 2022.
- Turkey said it would block two Royal Navy minehunter ships promised to Ukraine from travelling through its waters on their way to the Black Sea because it would breach an international pact that regulates maritime traffic through the straits that connect the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
- Norway said it would allow the direct sale of weapons to Ukraine. “In the extraordinary security situation resulting from Russia’s war of aggression, it is crucial that we continue to support Ukraine,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in a press statement.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies