Day 296 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Heavy Russian Strikes on Multiple Ukrainian Cities

World » UKRAINE | December 16, 2022, Friday // 10:43
Bulgaria: Day 296 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Heavy Russian Strikes on Multiple Ukrainian Cities @Twitter

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Russia fires missiles at Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities

Ukrainians woke up to an air raid alert. The Ukrainian media reported this morning about a massive Russian missile attack on Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities in Ukraine. Sirens wail across the country, residents are urged to seek refuge, UNIAN writes.

The governor of the Mykolaiv region Vitaly Kim warned that Russia is launching missiles with the help of strategic aviation. "The first rockets are already coming. Don't ignore the alarm," he appealed.

Kim added that about 60 Russian missiles are expected to be launched. "Some of them are already over Ukrainian territory in the northern part of the country. I think our air defense will shoot down at least 50+," he wrote.

The governor of the Zhytomyr Region, Vitaly Bunechko, also warned of the threat of a massive missile strike.

UNIAN reports that as of 9:15 a.m. local time, there were several strikes on the energy infrastructure, without specifying the objects.

Explosions were heard in Kyiv and the region. Residents of the capital were also warned of massive strikes and urged to take shelter. Mayor Vitaly Klitschko reported explosions in the "Desnyanski" and "Dneprovski" districts. The town of Boryspil in the Kyiv region is in emergency mode, critical sites are running on generators, and water is being delivered on a strict schedule.

A series of explosions were heard in Kharkiv after 8:40 a.m. local time, adds UNIAN.

The electricity supply company "Kharkovoblenergo" does not supply power to the city.

Authorities reported explosions in the capital Kyiv, in the southern city of Kryvyi Rih and northeastern Kharkiv, as well as around Odesa and Vinnytsia region. Kharkiv, the northern Sumy region, the city of Poltava and parts of Kyiv were left without electricity. The capital's water supply has been cut off by new attacks today, the subway has been shut down and subway stations are being used as bomb shelters. Authorities had earlier warned citizens across the country with warning sirens of impending devastating strikes. Ukraine's railway operator reports that some railway lines have also been left without power. Deputy head of the presidential office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said a residential building in Kryvyi Rih had been hit and that people there may be trapped under the rubble, Reuters reported. Two people died, AFP reported. The governor of Kyiv Oblast, Oleksiy Kuleba, said Russia was launching "massive attacks" against Ukraine. The damage is not yet clear and there are no details on exactly what critical infrastructure is affected.

8 people have died and over 20 have been injured in strikes in the Luhansk region controlled by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, TASS and Reuters report.

A building was destroyed in the village of Lantratovka, and it is believed that there are people trapped by the debris.

According to pro-Russian authorities in Luhansk, Ukrainian forces fired three US-made missiles shortly after 4 a.m. local time this morning.

Ukraine has accused Russia of planning a ground operation in January

Two people, one of them a Red Cross worker, were killed in Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. Due to the attack, the electricity was completely cut off. Ukraine has accused Russia of planning a large-scale ground operation early in the new year.

Despite the humiliating withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson in November, the city remains within range of Russian weapons. After another attack, Kherson is completely without electricity, announced the governor of the region Yaroslav Janushevich.

Mirjana Spoljaric - head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, announced that one of the humanitarian organization's employees in Ukraine was killed in the Russian attacks.

Moscow-appointed authorities in the occupied city of Donetsk said they had come under one of the heaviest shelling in recent years by the Ukrainian military. One person was killed.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said there was evidence that the Russian army had executed 441 civilians between the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24 and April 6.

Heavy fighting also continues in the area of the city of Bakhmut in the east.

The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, General Valery Zaluzhny, told the British publication "The Economist" that a new Russian attack on Kyiv is expected in the first months of 2023. According to him, Russia is preparing 200,000 new soldiers to send to Ukraine.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War reports that Russia has been increasing its military presence in Belarus in recent weeks, but there is no indication that Belarusian forces themselves are preparing for an invasion.

In Washington, the Pentagon announced that it is expanding the scope of training missions for the Ukrainian military. In Germany, up to 500 people will be trained per month.

18 billion euros for Ukraine and the 9th package of sanctions for Russia

8 billion euros to finance Ukraine next year and a 9th package of sanctions for Russia. This decision was taken by the leaders of the European Union at their last summit for 2022 in Brussels.

Poland lifted its veto on the global minimum corporate tax, unblocking a series of related agreements, including the loan to Kyiv.

The ninth package of sanctions against Moscow includes the names of nearly 200 more people, as well as a ban on investment in Russia's mining industry.

The summit also gave official candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European Union. A decision was also taken to introduce a minimum tax rate for large companies.

The presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed optimism that Bulgaria and Romania will be admitted to Schengen next year.

"Dear Peter and all your team, Europe is grateful to you for the impressive work you have done. I also want to congratulate Croatia for introducing the euro from next year and being accepted into Schengen. To Romania and Bulgaria I want to say - we are fully behind your joining Schengen, we will continue to work tirelessly to make it possible for you to be admitted as soon as possible next year. Finally, I want to congratulate Bosnia and Herzegovina for obtaining candidate status. We now look to 2023. I look forward to working with the upcoming Swedish presidency," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"I am optimistic that the decision on Bulgaria and Romania will be made within 2023," added Charles Michel, President of the European Council.

More EU sanctions

This is the third package agreed during the Czech presidency, which began on July 1 and will end at the end of the year.

The package was presented on December 7 by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. It provides for a total ban on the export of drone engines to Russia, as well as to any third countries such as Iran that might supply it.

The EC also proposes to add nearly 200 more persons and entities to the sanctions list. Among them are the Russian Armed Forces, individual military personnel and companies from the defense industry, as well as members of the State Duma, the Federation Council, ministers, governors and political parties. Another idea is to sanction 3 more Russian banks.

Europe also wants to impose new controls and restrictions on exports, especially on dual-use goods. Among them are basic chemicals and nerve agents, electronics, components for information technology.

It is planned to suspend the broadcasting of 4 Russian channels.

US sanctions behaviors that are in support of the war

The US has very strict rules that do not allow a person to be punished for belief or speech. But when they see actions supporting the war in Ukraine, then they will impose sanctions”.

This is how US diplomat James O'Brien - head of the Sanctions Coordination Office at the State Department - answered a question of Bulgarian media “ClubZ”. He gave a telephone briefing to journalists in Brussels.

Our question was whether the USA intends to impose measures against parties in the EU maintaining contacts with the parliamentary forces in Russia. Washington has already designated all members of the Duma and many other Russian representatives involved in the illegal attempts to annex Ukrainian territory.

Yesterday, the US named 29 Russian regional governors it believed to be part of Moscow's war machine and linked to the violent mobilization, O'Brien said. The same step was applied to the oligarch Vladimir Potanin and the heads of the Russian Railways (RZD).

"The important thing is to highlight the criminal nature and violence inherent in this war," the diplomat pointed out.

And he added that the US has targeted Russian-backed actions, including the cyber attack in Moldova. O'Brien assured that the Americans will be watching very carefully the way the Kremlin tries to influence the ongoing public debate and policies in different countries.

"We will continue to label, to sanction people based on their behavior, through which more and more representatives of the Russian political class show that they violate the basic rules of the international system.

Behavior matters, and in particular any behavior that supports war and attempts to annex Ukrainian territory," James O'Brien concluded.

Putin: Russian GDP to shrink by around 2.5 percent in 2022

Russia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 will shrink by about 2.5 percent. This was stated yesterday by President Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, TASS reported.

“The decline, predicted by both Western and some Russian experts, has not happened despite the economic war declared by Western countries against Russia”, said the head of state.

Supplies of Russian gas in the eastern direction will increase to 88 billion cubic meters by 2030, he added.

Already by 2025, the implementation of a number of projects will make it possible to increase supplies in the eastern direction to 48 billion cubic meters, and by 2030 - to 88 billion cubic meters, Putin pointed out.

According to him, this is more than 60 percent of deliveries in the western direction in 2021.

Russia will expand its trade cooperation with new partners, including by sharply increasing gas exports to China, Putin stressed, quoted by Reuters.

Moscow will develop its economic relations with partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America to counter Western efforts to isolate Russia economically, he said.

In his televised speech, the president promised that pensions and the minimum wage would continue to increase.

Russia began selling natural gas to China at the end of 2009 through the Power of Siberia pipeline, which has delivered about 10 billion cubic meters of the blue fuel in 2021, and is expected to reach full capacity in 2025 which is 38 billion cubic meters. A second similar gas pipeline through Mongolia is planned.

The US will train 500 Ukrainians a month in Germany starting in January

The US military said it will expand wartime training in Germany for Ukrainian military personnel fighting against Russia's invasion, with a focus on joint maneuvers and combined arms operations, BTA reported, citing Reuters.

The training of about 500 Ukrainians per month will begin in January next year, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said. So far, the US and its allies have trained more than 15,000 Ukrainian servicemen since April.

The new training will be in addition to efforts to train Ukrainians to operate specialized Western military equipment that the US and NATO have provided them since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

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