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Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin says ‘agreement will have to be reached’ to end conflict

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-12-09

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3.32pm GMT

Putin threatens to cut oil output over west’s price cap

Vladimir Putin said Russia may cut oil production and will refuse to sell oil to any country that imposes the G7’s price cap on its oil.

His comments came after the G7, the EU and Australia announced a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil last week.

Speaking to reporters, the Russian president said:

I have already said that we simply will not sell to those countries that make such decisions. We will think, maybe even about the possible, if necessary … reduction in production.

He described the west’s price cap move as “stupid” and that energy prices would “skyrocket” for those who imposed the caps.

But he said Russia had an agreement with Opec+ about production, so such a drastic step was still only a possibility. He said:

We are thinking about this, there are no solutions yet. And concrete steps will be outlined in the decree of the president of Russia, which will be released in the next few days.

Updated at 3.45pm GMT

3.12pm GMT

Russian athletes have been offered a path to compete at the Paris 2024 Games even if the war in Ukraine continues to rage for another 18 months.

It comes after a proposal was made by the Olympic Council of Asia to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in its qualifying competitions for 2024 – even though they are still banned by most sports.

The International Olympic Committee will now explore the OCA’s plan in the coming weeks, although it is widely expected to be approved. The decision is likely to be controversial, however the IOC has also made it clear that the sporting sanctions against Russia and Belarus as countries will remain in place.

It means neither is able to host international events – while Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from wearing the colours of their country, or having their anthems played, when they compete in international competitions.

Russian athletes who show overt support for the war in Ukraine will also be denied a chance to compete.

In a statement the IOC accepted there had been an “intense debate” at its 11th Olympic summit in Lausanne about the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in international competitions. However it stressed that it wanted sport to continue to be a place where athletes from many different countries and political systems could come together.

Read the full story here:

Related: Russian athletes could compete at Paris Olympics even if Ukraine war continues

2.53pm GMT

Putin: 'Agreement will have to be reached' to end Ukraine conflict

Vladimir Putin said Russia would probably have to reach agreements regarding Ukraine in the future, but was wary of doing so following the Minsk agreements.

Germany and France brokered ceasefire agreements in the Belarusian capital Minsk between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. Putin said the two countries had betrayed Russia, as they were now pumping Ukraine with weapons.

The then German chancellor, Angela Merkel , said in an interview published in Germany’s Zeit magazine on Wednesday that the Minsk agreements had been an attempt to “give Ukraine time” to build up its defences. Putin said he was “disappointed” by Merkel’s comments.

Updated at 3.19pm GMT

2.47pm GMT

In his news conference today, Vladimir Putin vaguely acknowledged that there had been some problems supplying equipment and clothes to the 300,000 men who were conscripted to fight in Ukraine in recent months.

He acknowledged the problem by saying that some of these issues were now easing.

2.15pm GMT

When a reporter asked Vladimir Putin for comment on a Russian court sentencing opposition politician Ilya Yashin to eight and a half years in prison for opposing the invasion of Ukraine, Putin responded: “Who is Yashin?”

Putin continued by saying it was wrong to doubt a court’s decision.

The official charge against Yashin was for spreading false information meant to discredit the Russian army. But Yashin was one of a small group of vocal opponents to the war who chose not to leave the country, saying earlier this year that he believed that “anti-war voices sound louder and more convincing if the person remains in Russia”.

“I must remain in Russia, I must speak the truth loudly, and I must stop the bloodshed at any cost,” he said in a courtroom speech this week. “It physically pains me to think how many people have been killed in this war, how many lives have been ruined, and how many families have lost their homes. You cannot be indifferent. And I swear I do not regret anything.”

Read more about Yashin here:

Related: Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin jailed for denouncing Ukraine war

1.58pm GMT

Putin: further prisoner exchanges with US are possible

Vladimir Putin has been speaking at a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where he said further prisoner swaps between the US and Russia were possible.

He has also vowed to wipe from the face of the earth any country that dared to attack Russia with nuclear weapons, and said there was no need to call up additional troops to fight in Ukraine.

We’ll bring you more lines from the Russian leader’s news conference shortly.

Updated at 2.19pm GMT

1.51pm GMT

Russian forces abducted two Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant staff, says Ukraine’s Energoatom

Ukraine’s state-run power agency, Energoatom, has accused Russian forces of abducting two senior Ukrainian staff at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in south-eastern Ukraine and detaining a third person.

Energoatom said the two abducted members of staff were beaten before being driven off in an “unknown direction” on Thursday.

A third worker, who was detained, was responsible for safety at the plant, it said.

In a statement, it said:

Through such actions, the occupiers are trying to gain loyalty from the courageous pro-Ukrainian staff ... Nevertheless, the invaders fail to do so because the personnel resist.

Ukraine has accused Russia of putting pressure on Ukrainian employees at the plant, which was captured by Moscow’s troops soon after the invasion, to sign contracts with Russia’s nuclear energy company.

It has not been possible to independently verify these claims.

Updated at 2.19pm GMT

1.44pm GMT

Earlier we reported that representatives from Russia and the US were meeting in Istanbul to discuss “difficult questions”. That meeting has finished and did not involve discussions about the war in Ukraine, according to a US embassy spokesperson.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was cited by state-run media as saying that the meeting was between heads of department from the Russian foreign ministry and the US state department.

He said it was a technical meeting and should not be seen as a sign the two sides were ready to resume discussing “major issues”.

A US embassy spokesperson confirmed the meeting and said “a senior official from the state department was in Istanbul to meet with Russian interlocutors on a narrow set of bilateral issues”. They added:

Russia’s war in Ukraine was not discussed.

1.29pm GMT

Russia has told Zambia it pardoned a Zambian student to go and fight in Ukraine, where he was killed, according to the Zambian foreign affairs minister, Stanley Kakubo.

Zambia has demanded answers over the death of Lemekhani Nyirenda, a 23-year-old Zambian citizen, after Russia announced he had been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine in September.

Kakubo said Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told him by telephone that Nyirenda was pardoned on 23 August to fight in Ukraine, in exchange for an amnesty.

He said:

We were informed that Russia allows for prisoners to be provided an opportunity for pardon in exchange for participation in the special military operation.

Nyirenda’s father said he was “conscripted” to fight while serving nine years in a jail on the outskirts of Moscow for a drug offence.

The Moscow Engineering Physics Institute student was working as a part-time courier when an unknown person handed him a package containing drugs, his father told Reuters.

Kakubo said Nyirenda’s remains had arrived in Moscow on Friday and were expected in Zambia on Sunday.

He added that Russia had told Zambia that money owed to Nyirenda, together with all the documentation relating to his amnesty, recruitment and death, would be handed to a Zambian representative who would accompany the body.

Russian businessman and Putin ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said last month that Nyirenda had been fighting for his Wagner private military group. Russia has offered freedom to some prisoners in exchange for fighting in its war in Ukraine.

1.17pm GMT

A Russian court has sentenced the opposition politician Ilya Yashin to eight and a half years in prison, in the most high-profile case to date of a Russian dissident being jailed for opposing the invasion of Ukraine.

A veteran of Russia’s anti-Putin opposition, Yashin was one of a small group of vocal opponents to the war who chose not to leave the country, saying earlier this year that he believed that “anti-war voices sound louder and more convincing if the person remains in Russia”.

In a courtroom speech this week, Yashin said:

I must remain in Russia, I must speak the truth loudly, and I must stop the bloodshed at any cost. It physically pains me to think how many people have been killed in this war, how many lives have been ruined, and how many families have lost their homes. You cannot be indifferent. And I swear I do not regret anything.

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Ilya Yashin gestures in the dock at Meshansky district court on Friday. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/AFP/Getty Images

He added:

It’s better to spend 10 years behind bars as an honest man than quietly burn with shame over the blood spilled by your government.

Yashin joins a small group of other prominent dissenters who have been imprisoned for speaking out against the war.

In July, a Russian city councillor was sentenced to seven years in prison after he spoke critically of a children’s drawing contest. “What kind of children’s drawing contest can we talk about for Children’s Day … when we have children dying every day?” he had said, the key piece of evidence against him in the trial.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, another veteran opposition member , has also been charged with spreading false information about the army. Some media reports say he has also been charged with treason.

Read the full story here:

Related: Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin jailed for denouncing Ukraine war

1.12pm GMT

US and Russian representatives meet in Istanbul to discuss 'difficult questions' – Russian media

Representatives from Russia and the US are meeting in Istanbul today to discuss “difficult questions”, the Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported.

The two sides are set to discuss “irritants” in bilateral relations including visas, embassy staffing levels and the work of each side’s institutions and agencies abroad, among other unspecified issues, the report said.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Serge i Ryabkov, confirmed the meeting during a discussion in Moscow. He was cited by Tass as saying:

Yes, it is true that a meeting is being held today in Istanbul at the level of the directors of relevant departments. In principle, this event is held periodically to discuss so-called irritants in bilateral relations. After a certain pause, we resumed communication with the Americans in person on this issue.

The allusion to “irritants” means that they are discussing the technicalities of how the US diplomatic missions in Russia and Russian ones in the US function.

Updated at 1.40pm GMT

1.05pm GMT

A senior Orthodox Christian cleric has been accused of engaging in anti-Ukrainian activity by supporting Russian policies in social media posts, Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said.

In a statement, it said an archbishop in a diocese in western Ukraine had distributed posts that “humiliated the national honour and dignity of Ukrainians” and “contributed to the incitement of religious enmity and hatred”, Reuters reports.

The cleric, who was not named, was accused of using an anonymous profile on Facebook to spread “narratives of Russian propagandists”.

The SBU’s statement followed a series of raids of property used by a Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox church, including the 1,000-year-old Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex, as part of operations to counter suspected “subversive activities by Russian special services”.

A spokesperson for the church said last week that it had always acted within the framework of Ukrainian law and that the state had no legal grounds to put pressure on its followers.

Updated at 1.10pm GMT

12.49pm GMT

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he would speak to his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in order to strengthen the UN-backed Black Sea grain deal.

Erdoğan said he would speak to Vladimir Putin on Saturday, and Volodymyr Zelenskiy separately, during an address at a conference in Istanbul today.

Updated at 1.01pm GMT

12.40pm GMT

Here are some of the latest images we have received from Ukraine.

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A civilian building in Nikopol in southern Ukraine hit by a Russian missile a few days ago. Photograph: Alessio Mamo/The Guardian
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A man checks the wood stove in an apartment house basement that local residents use as a bomb shelter in Avdiivka, Donetsk region. Photograph: LIBKOS/AP
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Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, attends an International Human Rights forum in Kyiv. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

12.29pm GMT

The jailed Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has described the sentencing of Ilya Yashin as “another shameless and lawless verdict” that will not silence his long-time ally.

In a series of tweets, Navalny said he had known Yashin since he was a teenager and that he was “proud” of his friend.

12.18pm GMT

Kremlin critic Ilya Yashin sentenced to eight and a half years years in prison for spreading ‘false information’ about Russian army

A Moscow court has sentenced opposition politician Ilya Yashin to eight and a half years in prison for spreading “fake information” about the Russian army.

Yashin, 39, was found guilty of spreading “false information” on a YouTube video released in April in which he discussed evidence uncovered by western journalists of Russian war crimes in Bucha, near Kyiv.

In the video, the Kremlin critic and former municipal deputy cast doubt on the official Moscow version that such reports had been fabricated as a “provocation” against Russia.

Sentencing him, the judge, Oksana Goryunova of the Meshchansky district court, said Yashin had committed a crime by disseminating “knowingly false information about Russia’s armed forces”.

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Russia’s opposition leader, former Moscow’s municipal deputy Ilya Yashin, at the Meshchansky district court in Moscow. Photograph: Reuters

In his final statement to the court this week, Yashin appealed directly to President Vladimir Putin, describing him as “the person responsible for this slaughter” and asking him to “stop this madness”.

He said:

As if they will sew my mouth shut and I would be forbidden to speak forever. Everyone understands that this is the point.

He added:

I am isolated from society because they want me to be silent. I promise as long as I’m alive I’ll never will be. My mission is to tell the truth. I will not give up the truth even behind bars. After all, quoting the classic: ‘Lie is the religion of slaves.’

An ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Yashin is one of hundreds of Russians to face prosecution under new laws that criminalise disseminating information about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine that clash with the Kremlin’s narrative.

Updated at 12.40pm GMT

12.04pm GMT

Moscow and Washington will continue to talk about possible prisoner swaps directly, without intermediaries, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was cited by the state-owned news agency Ria Novosti as saying.

President Joe Biden yesterday expressed regret that the US had not been able to secure the release of the detained American, Paul Whelan, after news that Brittney Griner had been freed as part of a prisoner exchange for the arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Biden said:

For totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.

Updated at 12.38pm GMT

11.51am GMT

‘Only 100 metres apart’: Ukrainians and Russians face off in Donetsk

When Nazar and his fellow soldiers came to the village outside the key city of Bakhmut that they had been ordered to attack, they thought they would be there for a single day. They arrived without sleeping bags or extra rations, as snow lay on the ground.

Instead of the 15 Russians they had been warned to expect, they encountered 50 of them, dug into the tree line, triggering a fight that lasted several days. “In places we were only 100 metres apart,” recalls Nazar.

We were on one low hill and they were on another. Sometimes, we could even hear their laughter.

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A Ukrainian serviceman is seen in the trenches in the frontline of Bakhmut in Donetsk, Ukraine. Photograph: Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

For the 19-year-old machine gunner in the 24th mechanised brigade, it was his first fight since finishing his training. For many of the other soldiers in this battalion, however, it was only the latest in a series of battles that has seen them fight in the Donbas region in Popasna, in the battle for Kherson and then around Bakhmut, the embattled eastern city that is currently the war’s most violent front.

Even 5 miles (8km) from Bakhmut, back from the frontlines, the sound of heavy rockets and artillery is constant in a frozen landscape where all the roads are covered in a glazing of sheet ice.

It is here on this frontline that the Russians have spent almost six months trying to break through to reach the cities of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Konstantinovka in warfare that is being fought from frigid muddy trenches, and where the combatants must now slog through the fields and the dense woods of Ukraine’s east.

While there are still civilians in towns and villages surrounding Bakhmut, a city under attack from two directions that was once home to 72,0000 people, evidence of the scale of the continuing battle is everywhere.

Read the full story here:

Related: ‘Only 100 metres apart’: Ukrainians and Russians face off in Donetsk

11.42am GMT

The notorious arms dealer, Viktor Bout, has spoken in an interview following his release from US detention in a prisoner exchange for the basketball star, Brittney Griner.

Speaking to the Russian state-run news outlet RT, Bout said it was difficult to find the words to describe his feelings after being freed.

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Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was arrested in a US sting operation in Thailand in 2008, extradited to the USand sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison. Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

He added that he had not encountered much anti-Russian sentiment during his imprisonment in the US, and claimed that many of his fellow prisoners had sympathies with Moscow.

Nicknamed the “Merchant of Death”, Bout is a former Soviet lieutenant colonel who the US justice department once described as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.

He was serving a 25-year sentence for conspiring to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons US officials said were to be used against Americans.

His wife, Alla Bout, said he felt terrible and “exhausted” after his long prisoner swap journey and hadn’t slept for three days, according to the Russian state-owned news agency Tass.

She was quoted as saying:

Viktor Anatolyevich feels terrible, he is really exhausted.

She added that she hoped the US will hand over his documents and drawings to the Russian embassy, adding that she was grateful for how the Americans treated her husband during the exchange. She said:

He said he was grateful to the American side for feeding him. He said he hasn’t eaten as much for the last 12 years. He was treated well, with respect, he wasn’t shackled or in handcuffs.

11.26am GMT

Brittney Griner arrives in US after prisoner exchange with Russia

A plane carrying the US basketball star, Brittney Griner, has landed in the US.

Griner was freed in a prisoner exchange after nearly 10 months of detention in Russia.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was swapped for for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout .

Updated at 11.26am GMT

11.18am GMT

Russia shells ‘entire Donetsk front line', says region’s governor

Russian forces have shelled the “entire front line” in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, the region’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, has said.

The fiercest fighting was near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, Reuters quotes him as saying in an interview on Friday.

Five civilians were killed and two injured in Ukrainian-controlled parts of Donetsk over the previous day, he said.

He added that Russian troops were also trying to advance near Lyman, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in November.

In Bakhmut and other parts of the Donetsk region neighbouring the Luhansk province, Ukraine countered with barrages from rocket launchers, a witness said.

Kyiv’s forces attacked Russian positions and troop assembly points in at least half a dozen towns in the south of Ukraine, Ukraine’s general staff said in an update this morning.

Ukrainian presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, said in a social media post:

The Russians have intensified their efforts in Donetsk and Luhansk. They are now in a very active phase of attempting to conduct offensive operations. We are advancing nowhere but, rather, defending, destroying the enemy’s infantry and equipment wherever it tries to advance.

Hello everyone. It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here again, taking over the live blog from Vivian Ho to bring you the latest developments from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

Updated at 11.48am GMT

11.00am GMT

Today so far

  • Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at Ukraine’s shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, raising fears that Europe’s largest atomic power station could be used as a base to fire on Ukrainian territory and heightening radiation dangers.

  • This comes as the UK Ministry of Defence says in its latest intelligence report that Russia has likely received a resupply of Iranian Shahed-131 and 136 loitering munitions , with new reports over the past three weeks of attacks involving these devices. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian general staff reported shooting down at least 14 Shahed-136s, while on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials reported the use of Iranian-provided one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles to attack the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro oblasts.

  • The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, has announced in today’s Guardian that he will place new sanctions on 2,000 individuals and 400 entities across the world with connections to the Kremlin. “We are right to express our horror and revulsion, but our words will always count for more when they are backed by action,” Cleverly wrote. “I will ensure this remains the theme of British diplomacy. We are not passive observers and we should not merely voice our feelings: we will use our country’s leverage to make a difference.”

  • In that same vein, the US is set to levy fresh sanctions against Russia and China on Friday , according to the Wall Street Journal reports, with measures intended on targeting Russia’s deployment of Iranian drones in Ukraine, as well as alleged human-rights abuses by Russia.

  • The war’s most violent front is currently situated in the area of Bakhmut , an embattled city in the eastern Donetsk region. Here, three civilians died yesterday, with one more killed in Toretsk and another in Netailovo.

  • Meanwhile in Moscow, firefighters are battling a blaze the size of a football pitch at a shopping centre. However, the suspected cause of the fire is arson and authorities currently believe it has nothing to do with Ukraine.

10.53am GMT

After almost months in Russian detention, US basketball star Brittney Griner was freed in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange for the notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout , the so-called “Merchant of Death” who had been held in a US prison for 12 years.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty in July, saying in court that she had no criminal intent and the canisters’ presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.

Her family and supporters repeatedly decried the charges against her as politically motivated; in May, the US designated her as unlawfully detained.

Here is video of the prisoner exchange in Abu Dhabi:

10.31am GMT

Russian landmines continue to put Ukrainian lives at risk, with civilians attempting to return to some form of normalcy in some areas, only to find that danger still persists. Now almost 10 months into the invasion, more than a fourth of the country needs to be checked for mines.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy last night paid tribute to four policemen killed by landmines in the Kherson oblast, calling the landmines left behind by Russian troops “perhaps even fiercer and more devious than missile terror”.

10.15am GMT

Ukrainian and Russian forces are now battling it out in the Donetsk region, with the embattled city of Bakhmut seeing the most violence and fighting.

“In places we were only 100 metres apart,” one Ukrainian soldier recalled, of a days-long skirmish in a village outside of Bakhmut. “We were on one low hill and they were on another. Sometimes, we could even hear their laughter.”

The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont has more from what is now currently the war’s most violent front :

Related: ‘Only 100 metres apart’: Ukrainians and Russians face off in Donetsk

9.55am GMT

Ukraine’s ministry of defence believes that up to 310 Russian soldiers were killed in Ukraine yesterday:

9.33am GMT

A 40-year-old man has died of injuries sustained in yesterday’s rocket attacks on the Kharkiv oblast , Vasily Golubev, the region’s governor, said on Telegram.

Russian forces injured three others after launching rocket and artillery strikes on the Kupyan, Kharkiv, Chuguyiv and Izyum districts, damaging houses and cars.

Russian shelling burned down the warehouses of a food enterprise in the city of Kupyansk,

9.13am GMT

The Guardian’s chief culture writer, Charlotte Higgins, went on the Guardian’s Today in Focus to discuss how the war has changed Ukraine’s culture while Ukrainian artist Oleksiy Sai talked to the Guardian’s Hannah Moore about how he sees the work he produces not as art, but a tactical weapon.

Related: The artists defying Putin’s war on Ukrainian culture – podcast

8.51am GMT

Here are some of the latest images we have received from around Ukraine:

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Bells are seen surrounded by debris of a destroyed Orthodox church in the village of Bohorodychne
in Donetsk region, Ukraine December 8, 2022. Photograph: Yevhen Titov/Reuters
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Civilians warm themselves at a humanitarian centre in Bakhmut, Ukraine on 8 December 2022. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
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Ukrainian emergency service workers extinguish a fire in Bakhmut, Ukraine on December 08, 2022. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
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A destroyed Orthodox church is seen, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Bohorodychne in Donetsk region, Ukraine December 8, 2022. Photograph: Yevhen Titov/Reuters
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Aftermath of a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv
A crater left by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, is seen at a residential area in Kharkiv, December 8, 2022. Photograph: Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters

8.27am GMT

From the Guardian’s chief culture writer, Charlotte Higgins:

I spent two eventful weeks in Ukraine in October, punctuated by major cruise missile attacks on Kyiv and then the start of the current campaign of drone attacks on energy infrastructure. Happily that didn’t stop me undertaking the reporting I had gone there to do – which was talking to artists – poets, playwrights, dancers, composers, visual artists, musicians – about how they were using their work in all kinds of ways during the current conflict as a means of resistance.

Sometimes that means refusing to stop working – the National Opera of Ukraine , for example, reopened soon after the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv as an amazing symbol of resilience. Other artists have used their skills as part of the war effort, producing campaigning work that sits on the edge of propaganda, aimed at a western audience; others have found themselves recording, witnessing and testifying through their writing; others have found moving and poetic ways to respond to the violence and rupture that war brings. All of this is against the backdrop of Putin’s insistence that Ukraine does not have a culture of its own, but exists only in relation to Russia – meaning the underlying motivation for the invasion is, in the end, about identity and culture.

Here, I explore the surprising and fascinating upsurge in Ukrainian poetry engendered by the war.

Related: For Ukrainians, poetry isn't a luxury, it's a necessity during war | Charlotte Higgins

7.58am GMT

In its latest intelligence report, the UK Ministry of Defence says Russia has likely received a resupply of Iranian Shahed-131 and 136 loitering munitions , with new reports over the past three weeks of attacks involving these devices.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian general staff reported shooting down at least 14 Shahed-136s, while on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials reported the use of Iranian-provided one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles to attack the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro oblasts.

The last reported takedown of a Shahed-136 in Ukraine was on 17 November.

7.26am GMT

Russian forces shelled the region of Kherson 68 times yesterday, targeting residential homes and apartment buildings, said Yaroslav Yanushevych, the regional governor.

Eight civilians were injured in the attacks.

7.06am GMT

Five killed, two injured in Donetsk oblast

Five civilians were killed in Russian attacks on the Donetsk oblast yesterday, Pavlo Kyrylenko , the governor of the Donetsk oblast, said in his morning update on casualties.

Three were killed in the besieged city of Bakhmut, one in Toretsk and another in Netailovo. Two more were injured, Kyrylenko said.

Updated at 7.07am GMT

6.44am GMT

US to impose further sanctions on Russia – report

The US is set to levy fresh sanctions against Russia and China on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing officials familiar with the matter.

The measures will target Russia’s deployment of Iranian drones in Ukraine, as well as alleged human-rights abuses by Russia.

6.29am GMT

The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, has announced in today’s Guardian that he will place new sanctions on individuals in Russia .

In an opinion piece titled, “Britain is not a passive observer on the world stage. We want oligarchs and dictators to fear us”, Cleverly writes:

After Vladimir Putin launched his latest onslaught against Ukraine in February, the UK put together the biggest package of sanctions ever enacted against a major economy.

So far we have targeted over 1,200 Russian individuals , including at least 100 oligarchs and their families, with a net worth exceeding £140bn .

We’ve hit whole sectors of the Russian economy, immobilising Russian central bank reserves, preventing Russian companies from raising funds in the City of London, and placing UK financial services beyond the Kremlin’s reach. Together with allies, our sanctions have undermined Russia’s ability to wage war.

Today, I will announce new sanctions on individuals in 11 countries, including Iran, Russia, Mali and Nicaragua, targeting those responsible for acts of torture, sexual violence and the repression of protests.

6.13am GMT

Meanwhile in Moscow, firefighters are battling a blaze the size of a football pitch at a shopping centre, emergency services say.

The fire broke out overnight at the Mega Khimki mall in the northern suburb of Khimki.

The suspected cause of the fire is arson, according to authorities, and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Mega had been home to a large number of western retail chains before the companies’ departure from Russiaamid the Ukraine conflict, including one of the first Ikea stores in the area.

Updated at 7.10am GMT

6.06am GMT

In his late Thursday video address, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenksiy, paid tribute to four policemen killed by landmines in Kherson province.

“This is perhaps even fiercer and more devious than missile terror,” said Zelenksiy.

“For there is no system against mines that could destroy at least part of the threat as our anti-aircraft systems do.”

He accused Russian forces of leaving landmines, tripwire mines, mined buildings, cars and infrastructure in places they abandoned under Ukrainian military pressure.

5.58am GMT

Russia has installed multiple rocket launchers at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at Ukraine’s shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukrainian officials claimed Thursday, raising fears Europe’s largest atomic power station could be used as a base to fire on Ukrainian territory and heightening radiation dangers.

Ukraine’s nuclear company Energoatom said in a statement that Russian forces occupying the plant have placed several Grad multiple rocket launchers near one of its six nuclear reactors. It said the offensive systems are located at new “protective structures” the Russians secretly built, “violating all conditions for nuclear and radiation safety.”

The claims have not been verified by the Guardian.

Although the risk of a nuclear meltdown is greatly reduced because all six reactors have been shut down, experts have said a dangerous release of radiation is still possible, the Associated Press reports.

5.56am GMT

Summary

This is the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine with me, Helen Sullivan.

Our top story this morning is that Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at Ukraine’s shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukrainian officials claimed Thursday, raising fears Europe’s largest atomic power station could be used as a base to fire on Ukrainian territory and heightening radiation dangers.

We’ll have more on this shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key recent developments:

  • US basketball star Brittney Griner has been released in a prisoner swap with Russia in exchange for former arms dealer Viktor Bout and was heading back to the United States on Thursday, ending what President Joe Biden called months of “hell” for her and her wife.

  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Thursday the United States is confident that Finland and Sweden will be approved soon for membership of N ato despite ratification delays from members Turkey and Hungary. After meeting his Finnish and Swedish counterparts on Thursday, Blinken said both countries had proved their bona fides to join the alliance, most notably in joining Nato to provide support to Ukraine to counter Russia’s invasion.

  • Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue attacking Ukrainian energy systems despite global criticism of strikes that have left millions without electricity and water at the start of winter. The Russian leader presented the strikes as a response to the explosion on Moscow’s bridge that connected Russia to annexed Crimea, as well as other attacks, accusing Kyiv of blowing up power lines near the Kursk nuclear power plant and not supplying water to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

  • Russia is still set on seizing parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that Putin claimed as his own, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. He added that the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine, which Russia annexed in 2014, was vulnerable to attacks by Ukrainian forces, after officials there said they had shot down a drone near a key naval base.

  • The United States is preparing to send Ukraine a $275m military aid package offering new capabilities to defeat drones and strengthen air defenses, according to a document seen by Reuters on Thursday and people familiar with the package.

  • Russian shelling of a town in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has left one person dead and two injured, according to the region’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko. At least 12 houses were destroyed by the shelling in the town of Toretsk, he said in a Telegram post.

  • About 10,000 Ukrainian service personnel and roughly the same number of Ukrainian civilians are believed to be being held in Russian detention facilities, according to a Ukrainian official. Oleksandr Kononenko, who oversees human rights in the security and defence sector on behalf of Ukraine’s parliament, said the civilians were being detained illegally as prisoners of war because of their alleged association with the Ukrainian army or state.

  • Russian forces have fired more than 1,000 rockets and missiles at Ukraine’s power grid during the war. The grid is still working despite taking major damage, a senior official said. Volodymyr Kudrytsky, the chief executive of the grid operator Ukrenergo, also told a meeting arranged by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that his officials were scouring the world for the complex equipment needed for repairs.

  • Ukraine has introduced new emergency power cuts as it tries to repair energy infrastructure damaged in Russian airstrikes . The grid operator Ukrenergo said the situation was complicated by the weather , with western regions facing frost, rain, snow and strong winds that were causing wires to ice over, but the most difficult situation was in eastern areas, where fighting has been fiercest.

  • Russian troops are reportedly taking part in tactical exercises in Belarus, according to the Russian defence ministry. Video clips posted by the ministry showed Russian soldiers in snow gear training near tanks in a winter landscape, firing weapons including artillery.

  • The EU plans to tighten up sanctions on Russia’s military and industrial complex, pro-Kremlin media and Russian nationalist groups fighting in Ukraine, according to leaked papers. A total of eight individuals are facing personal sanctions, including Russian officials said to be involved in the illegal transfer and adoption of Ukrainian children in Russia , as well as the leaders of rightwing nationalist groups.

  • Pope Francis broke down and wept as he prayed for peace in Ukraine during a traditional Christmas visit to the Spanish Steps in Rome. Reuters reports that Francis had to stop speaking and was unable to continue for about 30 seconds, and his head trembled. He later tweeted that “peace is possible; disarmament is possible”

Comments / 29

Tim Roseboro
12-10

they already reached an agreement this was back in 1993, I think. Ukraine said they would give control of all the nuclear weapons they possessed and Russia said they would respect Ukraine sovereignty. They already blew that. Leave all of Ukraine, loan them the money to rebuild their country interest free,of the wounded and killed make restitution to every family.

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