Ukrainian forces are holding their positions against Russian troops in the eastern Donbas region and making small advances in some areas, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. The Ukrainian president added in his nightly video address that Kyiv had strengthened its anti-aircraft capability and would further strengthen it in the new year to protect itself and the entire European continent. It was not possible to verify his claims.
Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Vladimir Putin had not given up his plans to “control Ukraine” and warned everyone to “prepare for the long haul”. Stoltenberg told the dpa news agency that Russia had mobilised “many new troops” and “demonstrated a willingness to endure painful losses”. “This is not over,” he said. “We should not underestimate Russia.”
Vladimir Putin has invited his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to make a state visit to Moscow next northern spring, as Russia seeks to deepen its ties with China amid growing international isolation over the war in Ukraine. Speaking to Xi via a videoconference, Putin said Russia’s ties with China were the “best in history” and expressed his wish to extend military collaboration.
The call between the two leaders came hours after Ukraine was again attacked by Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones. The Ukrainian military said it shot down all 16 drones, which it said were sent from the south-east and north. Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said there were no casualties from the strikes.
Belarus has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador, saying it shot down a Ukrainian air defence missile in Belarusian territory. Alexander Volfovich, the secretary of the Belarus security council, has accused Ukraine of trying to “provoke a regional conflict”, claiming it was “unlikely” that the Ukrainian air defence missile downed on Thursday had entered Belarusian airspace by accident. A Ukrainian military spokesperson said the incident was “the result of air defence”.
Zelenskiy repeated his earlier warnings that Moscow could be planning to plunge Ukraine into darkness before the New Year’s Eve holiday. The latest drone attack comes at the end of a week in which Russian forces launched a series of deadly bombardments of the recently liberated city of Kherson.
Moscow’s exiled chief rabbi says Jews should leave Russia while they still can, before they are made scapegoats for the hardship caused by the war in Ukraine. Pinchas Goldschmidt told the Guardian: “When we look back over Russian history, whenever the political system was in danger you saw the government trying to redirect the anger and discontent of the masses towards the Jewish community … We’re seeing rising antisemitism while Russia is going back to a new kind of Soviet Union.” Goldschmidt resigned from his post and left Russia in July after refusing to back Putin’s war.
The self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR), both of which are occupied areas of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed, have adopted new “constitutions”, the Russian state-owned Tass news agency reported. Denis Pushilin, who is styled as the acting leader of the DPR, was quoted as hailing “the return of Donbas to the bosom of the Russian cultural and historical tradition”.
The richest Russian oligarchs have lost almost $95bn this year amid sanctions imposed by western nations over the Ukraine war – shedding $330m a day since the Kremlin launched its invasion. Roman Abramovich, the former Chelsea FC owner, was the biggest loser, with his fortune falling by 57% to $7.8bn this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Britain says it has given Ukraine more than 1,000 metal detectors and 100 kits to deactivate bombs to help clear minefields in the latest instance of military support. “This latest package of UK support will help Ukraine safely clear land and buildings as it reclaims its rightful territory,” the British defence minister, Ben Wallace, said in a statement.
Vladimir Putin “warmly congratulated” Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the coming new year, adding that “mutually beneficial relations” between the two countries were developing “very dynamically”, the Kremlin said. Putin would not wish a happy new year to Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron or leaders of other “unfriendly countries”, it added.
The chief of Eurovision, Martin Österdahl, has told BBC radio that Russia’s ongoing ban from the international song contest has been hard but the event should stand for “the basic and ultimate values of democracy”.
Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 311 of the invasion
Ukrainian troops are either holding their positions or making small advances in Donbas, says Zelenskiy; Putin invites Xi to Moscow