Day 305 of the Invasion of Ukraine: China's Foreign Minister signaled Deepening Ties with Russia
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Putin: Russia is ready to negotiate on Ukraine, but Kyiv and its Western backers refuse
"Russia is ready to negotiate with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine, but Kyiv and its Western backers refuse to participate in talks," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview broadcast today, Reuters reported.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 of this year sparked Europe's deadliest conflict since World War II and is the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the agency noted. And so far the end of the current conflict is not in sight.
The Kremlin says it will fight until it achieves all its goals, while Kyiv has said it will not rest until it expels every single Russian soldier from its territory — including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
"We are ready to negotiate with anyone on acceptable terms, but it depends on them - we do not refuse to negotiate, they refuse," Putin said in an interview with Russia 1 TV.
CIA chief William Burns said earlier this month that most conflicts end with negotiations, but the agency's assessment is that Russia is not yet serious about genuine negotiations to end the war. An adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, said today that Putin needs to come back to reality and admit that it is Russia that does not want any negotiations.
"Russia unilaterally attacked Ukraine and killed its people. Russia does not want negotiations, but is trying to escape responsibility," Mykhailo Podoliak wrote on Twitter.
Putin said Russia was acting in the "right direction" in Ukraine as the West, led by the United States, sought to tear Russia apart. Washington denies that it aims for the collapse of Russia.
"I think we are acting in the right direction, we are protecting our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no choice but to protect our citizens," the Russian president said. Asked if the geopolitical conflict with the West was approaching dangerous levels, Putin replied: "I don't think it's too dangerous."
Putin said the West had started the conflict in Ukraine in 2014 by ousting the pro-Russian president during massive protests. Soon after, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and Russian-backed separatist forces began fighting Ukrainian armed forces in eastern Ukraine. "In fact, the fundamental thing here is the policy of our geopolitical opponents, which aims to tear apart Russia, historical Russia," Putin said.
The Pope denounced the war in his traditional Vatican Mass
Pope Francis denounced the wars that are being waged around the world during his traditional Christmas Eve liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, which is also the first of his Christmas services, DPA reported.
"The people of the world, who are hungry for power and money, devour even their neighbors, their brothers and sisters. How many wars there are! And in how many places today dignity and freedom are still being trampled!", the Holy Father was outraged, although not to specifically name Russia's war against Ukraine, notes BTA.
St Peter's Basilica was packed during the service for the first time since the pandemic began, with 7,000 guests attending and another 3,000 following outside from St Peter's Square.
Pope Francis called the weak and the poor "the main victims of human greed".
"And this Christmas humanity, insatiably pursuing money, power and pleasure, does not make room for the little ones, for the many unborn, poor, forgotten people, just as it was with Jesus. I think especially of the children who are swallowed up from war, poverty and injustice," the Holy Father also said.
The Pope presided over the Mass, but mostly served it from a seated position at the altar because of the condition of his knee. He noted that Jesus was born without luxuries and comforts, but thanks to this "the real richness of life came to light", namely interpersonal relationships.
"Of course, it is not easy to leave the comfortable warmth of worldly life to enter the harsh beauty of the Bethlehem cave," Francis said. "But we must remember that without the poor there is no real Christmas. Even without them, we celebrate Christmas, but not the Christmas of Jesus," he added. "Brothers, sisters, at Christmas God is poor: Let charity flourish again!", urged the Holy Father.
Zelensky on the eve of Christmas: Slavery has an even higher price than freedom
"Freedom comes at a high price. But slavery comes at an even higher price," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a defiant speech late Saturday. He called on his people to resist Russian attacks as they celebrate Christmas, the BBC reported.
Russia's missile and drone attacks have left millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heating and running water. On December 24, Russian airstrikes killed 10 people in the southern city of Kherson. Ukrainian authorities said 68 people were injured and urged local residents to urgently donate blood.
Describing Russia as a "terrorist country", Zelensky accused Russian troops of "killing for the purpose of intimidation and pleasure". In a post on social media, the Ukrainian president showed photos of streets littered with bodies and burning cars, saying "the world needs to see and understand what absolute evil we are fighting against."
Kherson, the only regional capital captured by Russia since it launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, was liberated from Ukraine last month. Since then, it has been frequently attacked by Russian forces stationed on the east bank of the Dnieper River. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that its attacks were aimed at civilians. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently admitted that Russian forces had struck energy facilities important to Ukraine.
Three Ukrainians died during mine-clearing operations in the Kherson region
Three Ukrainian emergency services workers were killed yesterday in a mine explosion while demining parts of the Kherson region, Reuters reported.
"All three selflessly served in the emergency rescue squad of the special purpose unit in Zhytomyr region and carried out the task of demining territories in Kherson region freed from the enemy," says the Zhytomyr emergency service, which included the dead, on the page is on Facebook, BTA informs.
Zhytomyr Oblast is located west of Kyiv, in northern Ukraine.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine 10 months ago, controls most but not all of Kherson Oblast. In mid-November, Ukrainian forces retook control of the city of Kherson - the administrative center of the region - and a number of settlements in the region.
Explosives experts have been working there since then, after President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces had detonated much of the buildings and sites there. They have done this in many other areas that Ukraine has been able to recapture, according to Reuters.
The US State Department estimated in early December that about 100,000 square miles (160,000 square kilometers) of Ukrainian land needed to be screened for explosive hazards. This is almost half the area of Germany, Reuters compares.
"We expect this to be one of the largest challenges with available landmines and unexploded ordnance since World War II," the State Department said in a briefing posted on its website.
On Saturday, Ukrainian authorities said a Russian strike in the city of Kherson killed at least 10 people, and Moscow blamed Ukrainian forces for the attack, Reuters recalls.
Russian political scientist: We will go to war with Kazakhstan
Russia will go to war with Kazakhstan.
This was predicted by the Russian political scientist Yevgeny Satanovsky during an appearance on the state television "Russia 1".
"We don't even mention the military-biological laboratories in Ukraine, which are more than enough and where Americans, Englishmen and Germans work. We also forget about the laboratories in Kazakhstan. I used to laugh at this idea: Kazakhstan and America? How? Military labs?"
However, Satanovsky not only convinced himself that there are laboratories supported by the West in the Central Asian country, but also indicated their exact number - two.
"Therefore, in my opinion, there will certainly be a clash with Kazakhstan," assured the expert.
"There are American biolabs in Kazakhstan that we forgot about." pic.twitter.com/scmyVsocZ9— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) December 23, 2022
For the second month in a row, a Russian specialist dares to comment on the air about the possibility of a conflict with Astana.
On November 22, Russian political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky called for Kazakhstan to be de-Nazified during a guest appearance on Vladimir Solovyov's propaganda show. He proposed other arguments in support of a possible invasion.
"Nazi trials can also begin there, as in Ukraine."
"And our longest border is there," Soloviev joined in the fantasizing.
"And there are many Russians there. As well as nuclear fuel for our entire Rosatom," Drobnitsky added.
Russian soldiers have exported the production of a cognac factory in Ukraine
The Russian military looted a Ukrainian brandy factory - "Tavria" - in the temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka, Kherson region. This was announced by the mayor of the city, Alexander Kovalenko, to Radio Freedom.
The Russian military initially - in the summer - deployed a field hospital at the plant. They declared it municipal property and threatened to shoot the workers if even one bottle of cognac disappeared.
In September, however, they themselves began looting the plant. They dismantled and took away two new cognac bottling lines, looted the alcohol aging workshop and all the finished products in the warehouses.
"The enterprises had and still have a unique workshop for aging alcohol. The pride of both the management of the enterprise and the city itself, because there were spirits that were aged for decades - 30, 35 years each. Unique types of cognac are collectible, unfortunately, this alcoholic material, these stocks, as far as I know, were taken either to the Crimea or to the Krasnodar Territory," explains Kovalenko.
Of course, this was not enough for the Russians - they also destroyed the company's vineyards and much of the company's real estate.
In addition, a significant portion of the company's real estate and vineyards have been destroyed as a result of the hostilities, he added.
Kovalenko said that Russian military personnel are still occasionally on the premises of the enterprise. This allowed the armed forces of Ukraine to recently strike effectively against them.
According to him, it is currently impossible to calculate the damage to the enterprise, but it is "tens and hundreds of millions of hryvnias".
"It's not going to be easy to restore all this. What is it like for alcohol to sit for 25-30-35 years in warehouses... It can't be measured simply in money, because it's a damage of such a technological nature. And it's much more -difficult, because it takes time, and considerable time," notes Kovalenko.
China's foreign minister signaled deepening ties with Russia
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi today defended his country's position on the war in Ukraine and signaled that China will deepen ties with Russia next year, the Associated Press reported.
Wang, speaking via video link at a conference in the Chinese capital, also blamed America for the deterioration of relations between the world's two largest economies, saying China "firmly rejects the wrong policy of the United States toward China."
Beijing has hit back at Western pressure on trade, technology, human rights and its claims to a vast swath of the western Pacific, accusing the US of bullying. China's refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine and join other countries in imposing sanctions on Russia has further soured ties with Washington and fueled a nascent rift with much of Europe.
Wang said China will "deepen strategic mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation" with Russia.
"Regarding the Ukraine crisis, we consistently uphold the basic principles of objectivity and impartiality, without favoring one side or the other, without adding fuel to the fire, much less seeking selfish benefits from the situation," the Chinese foreign minister said.
At the same time, Wang Yi said that China will seek to return relations with the US to normal, saying that they have deteriorated because "the United States stubbornly continues to view China as its main competitor and engage in a clear blockade, suppression and provocations against China".
The EU has delivered 1,000 generators to Ukraine
The countries of the European Union have already provided over 1000 power generators to Ukraine.
This was announced on Twitter by the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic.
According to him, the program of the Civil Protection Mechanism of the European Union has already made it possible to deliver more than 78 thousand tons of such aid to the country. According to him, they are intended for residential homes and hospitals.
Previously, the United Arab Emirates announced that it was sending 2,500 generators with capacities from 3.5 to 8 kilowatts, the first 1,200 of which will be sent through Warsaw today, the rest in January.
Ukraine is in urgent need of generators due to the heavy damage Russian strikes have caused to the country's energy infrastructure since October 10. A donation campaign for them gained momentum in Bulgaria as well.
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