Day 311 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky indicated the Priorities for 2023
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Explosions send Ukrainians to shelters for New Year, air alert across country
Russia fired dozens of missiles at cities in Ukraine today, Ukrainian authorities said. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klishko said there were several explosions in the city that caused damage and at least one death.The attacks came two days after Russia carried out one of the largest airstrikes since the start of the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia could carry out more attacks to make Ukrainians "welcome the New Year in darkness".The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaly Kim, said that the launch of Russian missiles had been reported. "The occupiers have decided to try to spoil our day," he wrote on Facebook. In Kyiv, amid New Year's celebrations, people rushed to shelters when air raid sirens sounded at midday. Rescuers were sent to three areas affected by the explosions. Air defense has been activated in the regions of the whole country.
British intelligence: Ukraine should expect another missile attack for the holiday
On New Year's Eve, the Russian army may launch a new missile attack on Ukraine. This was reported by the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain on its Twitter account, citing data from British intelligence.
The Russian Federation follows a pattern of massive strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure every 7-10 days. On December 29, for example, the target of another attack was energy facilities, while at the same time the Russians are trying to hit Ukraine's anti-aircraft forces.
The message claims that, according to British intelligence, Russia may change this tactic and attack again before the holiday, trying to demoralize Ukrainian citizens.
"There is a real possibility that Russia will break the pattern and strike again in the coming days to undermine the morale of the population of Ukraine over the New Year holiday period," wrote the British military department.
Last night, Russian troops shelled the Chernihiv region, reports the "Gordon" website. This was announced by the head of the regional military administration, Vyacheslav Chaus.
"Last night, the enemy launched a missile attack on Chernihiv region. The target was one of the military towns. According to preliminary information, it was an Iskander ballistic missile, the trajectory of which is practically impossible to track with the existing means of air defense," he wrote on Telegram.
Chaus notes that the intensity of shelling in the region has increased in recent days.
Yesterday, the Russian occupiers shelled the Kherson region 60 times, the head of the regional military administration, Yaroslav Yanushevich, announced today.
"The enemy hit places populated by civilians with artillery, rocket launchers, mortars and tanks. Kherson itself Russian Federation attacked 31 times. Shells hit the gas pipeline, private and residential homes," the message said.
For the entire 24 hours, in which the area was shelled, two people were injured.
On December 30, a total of six civilians died in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression, the deputy head of the presidential office Kiril Tymoshenko reported on Telegram.
Another 7 people were injured.
"Donetsk region - three dead, three wounded; Zaporizhzhia region - one wounded; Kharkiv region - two dead (including one blown up by a mine), one wounded; Kherson region - two wounded; Chernihiv region - one dead," Tymoshenko wrote.
Ukraine: Since the beginning of the war, we have liquidated 105,960 Russian occupiers
The Defense Forces of Ukraine have liquidated 105,960 Russian occupiers since the beginning of the war on February 24 of this year. Of them, 710 were killed in the last 24 hours. This was announced by the press center of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on its Facebook profile.
The remaining losses of the aggressors are (the equipment destroyed in the last 24 hours is given in parentheses):
Tanks – 3029 (+3);
Armored Fighting Vehicles – 6075 (+16);
Artillery systems – 2016 (+6);
Reactive salvo fire systems – 423;
Means of air defense - 213 (+1);
Aircraft – 283;
Helicopters – 269 (+1);
Drones – 1746 (+6);
Cruise missiles – 711;
Ships/boats – 16;
Automotive equipment and tankers – 4707 (+24);
Specialized technique – 180.
The data continues to be updated, notes the General Staff
Russia claimed that 3,000 civilians died in Mariupol
Russian representatives stated that 3,000 civilians died during the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, DPA reported, noting that this is the first such data that Moscow has released.
According to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the damage caused to the city during the long siege was worth 176 billion rubles (.4 billion).
Moscow blames the deaths and destruction in Mariupol on Kyiv, although international organizations say Russian forces committed a large number of war crimes in taking the city.
Fighting in Mariupol, which is located in the Donetsk region, began in February and lasted until May.
Kyiv said the artillery shelling and humanitarian disaster in the city had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians. The European Union and the United Nations have also accused Moscow of committing war crimes in the capture of Mariupol.
However, Moscow blames the city's Ukrainian defenders. The Russian Investigative Committee, headed by Alexander Bastrykin, who is a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin, said that three thousand civilians were killed by Ukrainian soldiers.
The massive destruction of civilian infrastructure was solely due to Ukrainian forces using it for military purposes, the Investigative Committee claimed.
Ukrainian forces advance in Eastern Donbas
Ukrainian forces are holding positions against the Russian army in the eastern Donbas region and are slowly advancing, President Volodymyr Zelensky said today, quoted by Reuters and BTA.
"In general, we are holding our positions. In some parts of the front line, we are making slow progress," he said in his evening address.
Zelensky also said that Ukraine, which has been subjected to a series of Russian airstrikes, has improved its anti-aircraft capabilities and will continue to defend itself and all of Europe in the new year.
"Next year, Ukraine's air defense will become even stronger and more effective. This will be a guarantee not only for our country, but also for the entire continent," Zelensky also stated, quoted by DPA.
In his video address, the Ukrainian president also stated that he has prepared a clear strategy for the production and supply of electricity in Ukraine. "It will require a lot of effort, but it will happen. This is one of the most important tasks in 2023 and I have no doubt that we will cope with it," he said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky defined the production and supply of electricity to Ukraine as the most important task for the country for the next year and indicated that the improvement of Ukrainian air defense will also be a priority for 2023.
President Zelensky pointed out that it will take time and a lot of effort to implement the strategy for securing electricity supplies. He also noted that the improvement of Ukrainian air defense will be a guarantee not only for Ukraine, but also for all of Europe.
Dozens of villages on the front line in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions remain under Russian artillery fire. Areas in the eastern Kharkiv region and in the north near Chernigov were attacked.
Since February 24, Ukraine has attracted more than 31 billion dollars from international partners, announced Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. He pointed out that the government has managed to maintain stability in the financial, banking and economic spheres.
Shmyhal emphasized that Kyiv's strategic goal is to fulfill the criteria for membership in the European Union by the end of 2024.
Zelensky indicated the priorities for 2023: Electricity supply and air defense
“Ukraine's air defense will become even stronger and more effective next year.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky stated this in his evening address.
According to him, Kyiv has improved its anti-aircraft capabilities and will continue to defend itself and all of Europe in 2023.
Ukrainian forces are holding positions against the Russian army in the eastern Donbas region and are slowly advancing, Zelensky also pointed out.
The other important task for Ukraine is the provision of electricity.
Russian gas will again paid in foreign currency
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing the so-called “unfriendly” countries participating in the sanctions against the Russian Federation to pay for natural gas supplies in foreign currency.
The decree comes eight months after Gazprom stopped supplies to Bulgaria due to a refusal to pay in rubles and a day before the expiration of the supply contract with the Russian company.
The presidential decree is now in effect. It specifies that payments for the received natural gas must be transferred to the supplier's bank account in the currency specified in the contract. The new decree amends the previous one, which dates back to April 1, and required countries designated by Moscow as hostile to pay for Russian gas supplies in rubles.
The proposed scheme provided for consumers of blue fuel to transfer dollars and euros to accounts at Russia's Gazprombank, which would convert the currency into rubles on the Moscow Stock Exchange. Vladimir Putin then warned that if Gazprom's European customers do not accept the new rules, the existing contracts will be terminated.
"If such payments are not forthcoming, we will consider this a default on the part of the buyers. With all the resulting consequences. Nobody sells anything to us for free. We also do not intend to engage in charity. That is, the current contracts will be terminated ".
The new rules affected 54 companies from 27 European countries. At the end of April, Poland was the first to refuse to pay for Russian gas in rubles. It was subsequently joined by Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Russian natural gas suppliers may accept payments in foreign currency from gas buyers from unfriendly countries if they collect gas supply obligations from such buyers, the decree published today on the legal information portal states.
Payments can be made in a foreign currency, which is specified in the contract, using a special account opened by an authorized bank based on an application from the Russian supplier. Gas delivery obligations are considered discharged once the foreign buyer's funds are transferred to such account.
At the same time, "repayment of the foreign buyer's debt under the natural gas supply contract is not a reason for the resumption of natural gas supplies from the Russian supplier, if the foreign buyer does not comply with the procedure established by this decree," the document states.
The European Commission initially viewed the scheme as a breach of sanctions. However, as reported by Bloomberg, the EC has circulated a new regulation, according to which European importers will be able to continue paying for Russian gas without violating the sanctions imposed on Moscow, and open bank accounts for payments in the currency provided for in the contracts.
Moscow's former chief rabbi to the Jews: Leave Russia while you still can
Former Moscow chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who left the country under pressure from Russian authorities to support their war in Ukraine earlier this year, called on Jews to leave Russia while they still can before atonement is made for the hardships caused by the war in Ukraine.
"If you look at Russian history, you can see that whenever the country's political system was in danger, the government tried to redirect the anger and discontent of the masses to the Jewish community. This happened both during the tsarist era and at the end of the Stalinist regime," says the rabbi in an interview with the Guardian.
Goldschmidt also says that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Russia as the country returns to a "new type of Soviet Union" and "the Iron Curtain is gradually coming down."
"That's why I think the best option for Russian Jews is to leave," concludes the rabbi.
The head of the Jews of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, left Russia shortly after the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine. It was initially reported that he did this due to the illness of his father, who lives in Israel. However, in early June, Rabbi Avital Chizyk-Goldschmidt's daughter-in-law tweeted that Moscow's chief rabbi had left the country due to pressure from Russian authorities, who demanded he publicly support the invasion of Ukraine.
“Community leaders were pressured to support the war and I refused to do so. I resigned because continuing as chief rabbi of Moscow would be a problem for the community because of the repressive measures taken against dissidents," the exiled rabbi told the Guardian.
In early July, the Russian authorities demanded that the Jewish Agency for Israel, which supports repatriation, suspend its activities in Russia. In the second half of July, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation filed a lawsuit for the liquidation of the agency’s representative office.
An Israeli delegation visited Russia, and the presidents of the two countries discussed the situation by telephone. Then the court adjourned the case for two months. The first hearing was due to take place on October 19, but was canceled due to an anonymous tip-off about a bomb threat at the court.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid promised that the Israeli authorities will make every effort to ensure that the agency will continue its work in Russia.
Russian Jews emigrated by the tens of thousands over the past 100 years, first to Europe and America, and later to Israel. According to the 1926 census, there were 2,672,000 Jews in the then Soviet Union, 59 percent of whom lived in Ukraine. Today, only about 165,000 Jews remain in the Russian Federation out of a total population of 145 million.
Goldschmidt estimates that since the start of the war, 25 to 30 percent of those who lived in Russia have left or are planning to, even though there are now few flights from Moscow and the cost of flying to Tel Aviv has quadrupled to about 2 thousand dollars.
In all, about 200,000 Russians are believed to have fled Russia, and the exodus accelerated because of the mobilization.
"There is a section of Russian society called the creacle, the creative class of business and cultural leaders, intellectuals and artists, and I think it's safe to say that a large percentage of these people have left Russia, which is and will be very damaging for Russian society," believes the rabbi in exile.
Curiously, he said, Ukraine has a long history of anti-Semitism, from pogroms in the late 19th century to aiding Nazi massacres during World War II. The most famous of these cases was the killing of 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar in Kyiv in 1941.
Given that history, Goldschmidt says it's remarkable that Volodymyr Zelensky, who made no secret of his Jewish heritage, was elected president of Ukraine with more than 70 percent of the vote.
This fact has rendered meaningless Vladimir Putin's claim that Ukraine is run by neo-Nazis, says the rabbi. “Show me another country that was in the grip of the Nazis where the Jewish community was thriving.”
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