Ukraine Latest: US, Germany Sending Armored Vehicles, Patriots
The comment marks the first time Erdogan, a key ally, has called on Putin’s forces to suspend fighting without a commitment from Ukraine that it would do the same.
(Bloomberg) -- The US and Germany will send armored vehicles to Ukraine, President Joe Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a joint statement, providing a significant upgrade in firepower urgently sought by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Germany also will follow the US in providing a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to cease fighting in Ukraine for 36 hours starting Friday at noon, Moscow time, but Zelenskiy and US President Joe Biden dismissed the move as a ploy, unlikely to slow a conflict well into its 11th month. The Kremlin said Putin gave the order ahead of Russian Orthodox Christmas.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier urged Putin to call a unilateral cease-fire, even as Moscow stuck to its long-held line that Kyiv needs to give ground first. The comment marked the first time Erdogan, a key ally, called on Putin’s forces to suspend fighting without a commitment from Ukraine that it would do the same. Erdogan also spoke Thursday with Zelenskiy.
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- US, Germany to Send Ukraine Armored Vehicles in Major Upgrade
- Putin Orders Surprise 36-Hour Ukraine Cease-Fire as Kyiv Scoffs
- Erdogan Renews Ukraine Peace Push But Putin Sticks to Line
- Kazakhstan Loses McDonald’s as Russia’s War Limits Supplies
- Russia Pardons First Convicts Who Survived 6 Months at Front
- Europe Gets a Warm New Year Gift to Tackle the Energy Crisis
On the Ground
Russian forces continued their assault on the eastern city of Bakhmut, shelling more than 60 settlements in the area, according to Ukraine’s general staff. Russian shelled targets in the southern Zaporizhzhia region more than 100 times in 24 hours, killing at least two and wounding three, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said. Another 45 settlements came under attack in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
(All times CET)
Zelenskiy Ridicules Cease-Fire Offer, Praises New Weapons (9:29 p.m.)
The Ukrainian president joined allies in the West in ridiculing Putin’s cease-fire announcement.
“Now they want to use the Christmas as cover to halt offensive of our boys in Donbas at least for a while and redeploy their military vehicles, ammunition and mobilized closer to our position,” Zelenskiy said in a statement. “What will that bring? Just more casualties.”
In a tweet, he praised Germany’s decision to send armored fighting vehicles and a Patriot missile defense system, saying that “Germany is making a crucial contribution in intercepting of all Russia’s missiles.”
US, Germany Add Armored Vehicles, Another Patriot System (8:18 p.m.)
The US will provide Ukraine with its Bradley Fighting Vehicles while Germany is sending its Marder vehicles, Biden and Scholz said in a joint statement. Germany also will provide Ukraine a Patriot battery — the second headed to the country after the US said last month that it would send one of the powerful air-defense systems.
“President Biden and Chancellor Scholz expressed their common determination to continue to provide the necessary financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine for as long as needed,” the leaders said in the statement after a phone call.
Biden Scoffs at Putin’s Cease-Fire Announcement (6:39 p.m.)
Biden said that he believed Putin was “trying to find some oxygen” with his announcement of a brief cease-fire in Ukraine.
“I found it interesting he was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches on the 25th and New Years,” Biden told reporters at the White House when asked about Putin’s announcement. “I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.”
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council asked in a tweet, “Who will trust villains that kill children, shell maternity hospitals, torture prisoners?”
US, Germany to Send Ukraine Armored Vehicles in Major Upgrade (6:02 p.m.)
The US and Germany will send armored vehicles to Ukraine, a significant upgrade in firepower urgently sought by Zelenskiy, leaders of the two nations announced in a joint statement after a
In an announcement that may come as soon as Thursday, the US will send Bradley Fighting Vehicles while Germany is expected to send its Marder vehicles, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing deliberations that are still private. Biden was expected to discuss the matter with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday.
Read the full story here.
Putin Orders 36-Hour Orthodox Christmas Cease-Fire; Kyiv Skeptical (5:03 p.m.)
Putin ordered his forces to cease fighting in Ukraine for 36 hours starting Friday at noon, Moscow time. Kyiv dismissed the move as a ploy.
The Kremlin said Putin gave the order ahead of Russian Orthodox Christmas. It followed an appeal by the patriarch of the Russian church, which has close ties to the Kremlin.
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak suggested the offer was “hypocrisy” and in remarks to reporters, called Putin’s move “purely a propaganda gesture” also designed to buy time for under-pressure Kremlin troops.
Erdogan Offers Peacemaking to Zelenskiy After Talking to Putin (3:30 p.m.)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued efforts to lay the ground for talks between Russia and Ukraine in a call with Ukraine’s president after speaking earlier with Vladimir Putin earlier.
Erdogan reiterated that Turkey can mediate talks between the two countries and also offered help with efforts to create a safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant occupied by Russia.
Zelenskiy discussed his so-called peace formula, or pre-conditions to end the war, with Erdoğan, he said in a tweet. The peace formula, presented during G20 summit in November, would see Russia leaving all of occupied territories in Ukraine as one of main conditions of ending the war.
Belarus, Russia to Conduct Joint Air Force Exercises (2 p.m.)
Belarus and Russia will undertake joint air force exercises as part of an ongoing build-up in combined military activities, the Belarusian defense ministry said on Telegram without elaborating.
Moscow is continuing to boost its presence in its neighbor and ally by sending more soldiers and weapons, according to the statement. President Vladimir Putin visited Minsk on Dec. 19 for the first time since 2019 for talks with top officials.
Kazakhstan Loses McDonald’s as War Limits Supplies (1:50 p.m.)
McDonald’s Corp. is exiting Kazakhstan after disruptions triggered by the invasion of Ukraine left the central Asian nation without a substitute for Russian meat supplies.
The world’s biggest fast-food chain is withdrawing from the nation of 20 million that borders Russia to the north after only six years.
The Kazakh business was unable to source meat from local or European suppliers, as higher prices and freight costs would mean running restaurants at a loss.
Read more: Kazakhstan Loses McDonald’s as Russia’s War Limits Supplies
Russia Has Enough Artillery, Zaporizhzhia Governor Says (12:48 p.m.)
Russian forces, which effectively had “unlimited” munitions early in the war, maintain a sufficient supply to be able to match Ukrainian artillery rounds and launch dozens of attacks in return, the regional chief in Zaporizhzhia, Oleksandr Starukh, said during a video briefing.
Mobilized Russian troops are increasingly concentrating in the region, as elsewhere along the frontline, Starukh said. Ukrainian forces need more weapons to push the Russian troops away from cities, such as Zaporizhzhia’s eponymous regional capital. Even a retreat of 30 kilometers (19 miles) would put Kremlin forces’ S-300 rockets out of range, he said.
Ukraine’s Economy Slumped by Nearly a Third Last Year (11:22 a.m.)
Ukraine’s economy contracted by some 30% last year on the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion, the Economy Ministry said. Its preliminary estimates for 2022 gave a range between 28.4% and 32.4%.
The scope of the economy’s plunge was less drastic than projections made at the beginning of the invasion last February, when some economists forecast a slump in gross domestic product on the order of 50%. The projection also beat the ministry’s initial estimate of more than 33%.
Erdogan Urges Unilateral Cease-fire in Putin Call (10:58 a.m.)
Calls for peace and negotiations in Ukraine “should be supported by a unilateral cease-fire and a vision for a fair solution,” Tayyip Erdogan told Russia’s Putin in a call.
Erdogan reminded Putin of “positive results” from negotiations over the grain corridor that Ukraine is using to export food, prisoner exchanges and the still unrealized safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Scholz Faces Renewed Heat to Give Tanks to Ukraine (10:52 a.m.)
Scholz came under renewed pressure in Germany to supply Ukraine with additional heavy weapons after France pledged to deliver armored fighting vehicles.
The German chancellor has so far resisted calls to directly supply modern armor, arguing the policy must first be agreed to among European Union and NATO allies. But Marcus Faber, a lawmaker with the Free Democrats Party, part of Scholz’s three-way coalition, said Germany needs to change course. The co-governing Greens also signaled support for more deliveries.
Scholz’s administration should start with training Ukrainian forces to operate the Leopard battle tank and Marder infantry fighting vehicle, he said. “It’s time to supply Ukraine at least with the Marder from industrial stocks directly,” Faber, in Kyiv for discussions with Ukrainian officials, told Bloomberg.
Cold Weather Lifts Power Consumption in Ukraine (10:25 a.m.)
Power consumption continues to rise in Ukraine amid cooling temperatures and increasing industry and business activity after the holidays, national grid operator Ukrenergo said on Telegram.
The country’s energy system produces enough power to meet demand in during the night but is limiting consumption from 8 a.m. till 11 p.m. Russian shelling damaged an energy infrastructure site Wednesday in Ukraine’s east, and difficult weather conditions in the country’s central regions caused disruptions, the utility said.
Russia Pardons Convicts After Six Months at Front (9:56 a.m)
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner military-contracting company, announced the pardons and hailed the roughly two dozen survivors as “warriors” in a meeting with them in the southern Krasnodar region near the Ukrainian border, according to the state-run RIA Novosti agency.
The longtime Putin ally is one of the most prominent supporters of his war. Prigozhin has about 50,000 personnel on the ground in Ukraine, including 40,000 convicts and 10,000 contractors, the US said last month.
One clip showed Prigozhin at an event with wounded fighters, including several who had lost legs. He didn’t comment on how many of the first wave of convict recruits were killed or captured, citing only one example of a man serving a 30-year sentence who he said had blown himself up in battle after being cut off from his unit.
Relocation of Russian Bombers Adds Stress to Fleet, UK Says (8 a.m.)
Russia reported after Christmas that it had relocated long-range aviation (LRA) bomber jets to the nation’s far east, in a likely general dispersal following to airstrikes on the Engels air base much closer to Ukraine, the UK defense ministry said.
Kremlin forces “will still be able to fire air-launched cruise missiles into Ukraine because the weapons have a 5000km range, in addition to the flight range of the bombers,” the UK said. Still, the move adds additional “maintenance stress” to the aircraft.
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