Ukraine-Russia war live: UK and Europe to ramp up efforts to help Kyiv beat Putin’s forces

By Isaac M December 31, 2023

Kyiv suffers largest ever drone attack by Russia leaving five wounded

Russia has bombarded Ukraine’s second largest city with missiles and drones during the early hours of New Year’s Eve, just hours after accusing Kyiv of carrying out a deadly strike in one of its border cities.

Moscow said 22 people, including two children, have been killed in “indiscriminate” Ukrainian strikes on the Russian provincial capital of Belgorod on Saturday.

Images of Belgorod on social media showed cars on fire and plumes of black smoke rising among damaged buildings as air raid sirens sounded.

Local media said missiles hit a skating rink in the heart of the city, a shopping centre, residential buildings and a car.

Russian officials accused Kyiv of carrying out the attack the day after an 18-hour aerial Russian barrage across Ukraine killed at least 39 civilians.

More than 144 people were injured and an unknown number were buried under rubble after Moscow launched its biggest wave of airstrikes since the war began.

Within hours, the UK announced it was sending Kyiv hundreds of defence missiles, ministers condemning Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “barbarity”.

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Kharkiv strikes were retaliation for Ukraine’s Belgorod attack, Russia says

Russia on Sunday said it attacked military facilities in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv overnight, including a hotel housing military commanders and “foreign mercenaries”, in response to Ukraine’s strikes on Belgorod the previous day.

Kharkiv officials had said that at least six missiles hit Ukraine’s second city, injuring at least 28 people and damaging residential buildings, hotels and medical facilities, followed by waves of drone attacks on housing blocks.

Russia’s statement said its attack hit the former Kharkiv Palace hotel and the headquarters of the Ukrainian Security Service for the Kharkiv region.

It said military and intelligence officers involved in Ukraine’s attack on Belgorod had been among those killed, along with “foreign mercenaries and militants” preparing to carry out cross-border raids.

Holly Evans31 December 2023 10:38

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Drone strikes hit Kharkiv and Kyiv

Russia launched a fresh drone assault on Ukraine on Saturday night, after promising that strikes on the Russian border city of Belgorod earlier in the day “would not go unpunished”.

The Ukrainian Air Force said on Sunday that it had shot down 21 of 49 drones launched by Russian forces overnight.

Twenty-eight people were injured in an attack on the eastern city of Kharkiv, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Sunday.

A central hotel, apartment buildings, nursery school, shops and administrative buildings were damaged, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.

In the Kyiv region that surrounds the capital, a Russian drone attack caused a fire to break out at a critical infrastructure facility, local officials said. They did not identify the facility further.

Firefighters put out a fire after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv

(AP)

Holly Evans31 December 2023 09:14

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Missile threat alert issued in Russia’s Belgorod

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, called residents of the city of Belgorod to hide in shelters on Sunday as a missile threat alert was issued in the city, according to a post on his Telegram account.

More than 20 people were killed in Belgorod on Saturday in what Moscow said was an “indiscriminate” Ukrainian air attack on the city.

Holly Evans31 December 2023 08:45

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Russia will be held responsible for every strike on Ukraine, says Zelensky

“For every Shahed drone, for every Russian missile, there will be a fair responsibility of the terrorist state, both political and very practical,” Mr Zelensky said on Saturday.

He also said that Ukraine is preparing to produce more weapons in 2024.

Holly Evans31 December 2023 08:01

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Russia pounds Kharkiv with missiles and drones after attack on Belgorod

Russia pounded the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with missiles and drones in the hours leading into New Year’s Eve, Ukrainian officials said, hours after Moscow accused Kyiv of carrying out a deadly air assault just across the border on nearby Belgorod.

In the first waves of Russia’s attacks, at least six missiles hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s National Police said on Sunday, injuring at least 22 people and hitting 12 apartment buildings, 13 residential houses and a kindergarten.

(EPA)

Earlier, Ukrainian officials said that among those injured in Kharkiv were two boys aged 14 and 16 and a security adviser for a team of German journalists.

Closer to midnight, as part of a wider bombardment of Ukraine that also targeted Kyiv, several waves of Russian drones hit residential buildings in Kharkiv’s centre, spouting fires, the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, said.

“On the eve of the New Year, the Russians want to intimidate our city, but we are not scared – we are unbreakable and invincible!” the mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said.

Holly Evans31 December 2023 07:20

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Russia responds to Polish accusations

During Russia’s huge attack on Ukraine earlier this week, Poland, a NATO member, claimed an unknown object travelled 24 miles into the country’s airspace.

The head of the Polish armed forces, Gen. Wiesław Kukuła, said “everything indicates” it was a Russian missile.

Since the claim, Russia’s charge d’affaires in Warsaw, Andrei Ordash, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Saturday that Poland’s claims were “unsubstantiated.”

“We will not give any explanations until we are presented with concrete evidence, because these accusations are unsubstantiated,” Ordash told RIA Novosti.

Some 500 Polish Territorial Defense troops were combing an area between the city of Zamosc and the border with Ukraine for any traces of the object.

Alex Ross31 December 2023 06:30

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Time to celebrate Christmas

The nation has traditionally used the Julian calendar, also used by Russia, where Christmas falls next month.

Many Ukrainians have embraced this year’s change with enthusiasm, viewing it as a positive step that will further strengthen their cultural separation from Moscow.

Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on 25 December for first time in shift from Russia

For the first time, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine observed Christmas on 25 December instead of 7 January. The nation has traditionally used the Julian calendar, also used by Russia, where Christmas falls next month. Many Ukrainians have embraced this year’s change with enthusiasm, viewing it as a positive step that will further strengthen their cultural separation from Moscow. “The war has helped bring this about, but most Ukrainians have long dreamt about this change,” Father Heorhii told Al Jazeera. “It is a desire to live with the whole world.”

Alex Ross31 December 2023 05:30

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New US funding could be final package of military aid

Worrying news for Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky as US officials announced on Wednesday that funding, worth up to $250 million, could be the final package unless Congress approves new legislation that is stalled.

The weapons, worth up to $250 million, include an array of air munitions and other missiles, artillery, anti-armor systems, ammunition, demolition and medical equipment and parts.

In a statement, Lt. Col. Garron Garn, a Pentagon spokesman said there is no more funding to replace the weapons taken from department stocks. And the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides long-term funding for future weapons contracts, is also out of money.

As a result, Garn said Wednesday, “Without the supplemental funding, there will be a shortfall in replenishing U.S. military stocks, affecting American military readiness.”

President Joe Biden is urging Congress to pass a $110 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security needs.

Alex Ross31 December 2023 04:30

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British soldiers to go on standby

Thousands of UK soldiers will go on standby from next year as a first response unit against threats to members of Nato.

Germany had been leading the reaction force but will hand over to the UK on 1 January 2024. The role is rotated every year among Nato members. The UK’s 7th Light Mechanised Brigade, known as the Desert Rats, will be at the core of this 6,000-person responsive unit.

Alex Ross31 December 2023 03:30

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What to expect from Ukraine war in 2024

It’s a worrying time for Ukraine and president Volodymyr Zelensky with funding stalling on both the European and US fronts. But what will this current “lack” of funding mean to the war in 2024.

Well, British writer Keir Giles, who is an expert on the Russian military, says it is likely to mean Ukraine will remain on the defensive with the construction of fortifications along Russian’s main lines of advance.

What we can expect from the war in Ukraine in 2024

Kyiv’s forces are likely to remain on the defensive for much of next year, writes Keir Giles. That is unless the West finally gets fully behind the idea that Putin’s war aims will only change if his hand is forced

Alex Ross31 December 2023 02:30

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