Day 634 of the Invasion of Ukraine: The Army Pushed Russian Forces 3-8 Kilometers from the Eastern Back of the Dnieper
Day 634 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Viktor Orban: Ukraine is light years away from EU membership
- Air alert in 13 regions of Ukraine
- The Ukrainian army announced that it had pushed Russian forces 3 to 8 kilometers from the eastern bank of the Dnieper River
- An infrastructure facility was damaged in a Russian drone attack on Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said
- Ukraine with new sanctions on Russian organizations and individuals
- Scholz said he intends to talk to Putin again
Viktor Orban: Ukraine is light years away from EU membership
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was re-elected as head of the Hungarian ruling FIDES party at a congress in Budapest, AP reported. Orban wins 11th consecutive term at the head of the party since 2003, BTA clarifies
In a speech to delegates at the party congress, Orban said that Ukraine is light years away from joining the EU. He thus signaled that his government could prove to be a stumbling block to Kyiv's ambitions to join the bloc.
Orban also said he and his government would resist during talks between European leaders formally inviting Ukraine to start negotiations to join the bloc.
The admission of a new member state to the EU requires the unanimous approval of the current member states.
Earlier in the month, the European Commission recommended opening formal talks with Ukraine to join the EU, but Orban said that was a false promise and it would be Hungary's task to make things right. Orban stressed that negotiations with a country should not start while it is at war and that Ukraine's membership would reorient the system for allocating funds from Brussels to member states.
Some critics of Orban say that Hungary wants to use such threats to unfreeze funds for Budapest, which Brussels has withheld because of concerns that the Hungarian government does not respect human rights standards and adhere to the rule of law.
Orban also threatened to block the EU's plan to provide 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine over a four-year period.
The Hungarian prime minister also criticized Ukraine for violating the rights of ethnic Hungarians in the western part of the country by preventing them from learning their language. In September, he told the Hungarian parliament that his government would not support Ukraine on any international issue until the right of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine to study in their own language was restored.
Air alert in 13 regions of Ukraine
An air alert was declared in 13 regions of Ukraine last night. The military administration in Kyiv region reported that the area was attacked by Shahed drones and Ukrainian air defenses repulsed the attack.
The mayor of Moscow, Segey Sobyanin, wrote on Telegram that the Russian air defense in the Moscow region intercepted an attempt to attack a Ukrainian drone on the capital.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky imposed new sanctions on natural and legal entities from Russia:
"Several decisions of the National Security and Defense Council are taking effect, in relation to almost 40 Russian legal entities and over 100 individuals. In particular, those related to the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories, as well as those, who in different ways support Russian terror against Ukraine. Each of them must be held accountable for what they have done, and we will not retain any ties of these people to the Ukrainian side."
Among those included in the list are Russian passport holder former Ukrainian Minister of Education Dmytro Tabachnyk and former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Other famous persons are the Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, and the leader of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic Leonid Pasechnik.
The Ukrainian army announced that it had pushed Russian forces 3 to 8 kilometers from the eastern bank of the Dnieper River
The Ukrainian army announced today that it has pushed the Russian forces 3 to 8 kilometers from the eastern bank of the Dnieper River, AFP reported.
The agency noted that this was the first statement by Kyiv about successes in this area after months of a generally disappointing counteroffensive.
"Preliminary estimates range from 3 to 8 km depending on the specifics, geography and topography of the eastern coast," Ukrainian army spokeswoman Nataliya Gumenyuk told Ukrainian television.
If this progress is confirmed, it would be the biggest success of the Ukrainian army against Russian forces in several months.
Nataliya Gumenyuk, however, did not say whether Ukrainian forces now fully control this area of Kherson region or whether the Russian army has withdrawn from it as a result of the counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops.
"The enemy continues its artillery shelling on the west coast," she said, estimating the number of Russian soldiers in the area at "several tens of thousands."
"We still have a lot of work to do," added the Ukrainian army spokeswoman.
The counteroffensive, which was so eagerly awaited by Kyiv and its Western allies, launched in June last year, failed and allowed the Ukrainian army to retake only a few villages in the south and east of the country, the agency said.
The last major success that Ukraine claims to have achieved in its counteroffensive was the capture of the village of Robotyne in August in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.
An infrastructure facility was damaged in a Russian drone attack on Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said
Russia carried out several waves of drone attacks on Kyiv last night for the second night in a row, stepping up its attacks on the Ukrainian capital after a hiatus of several weeks, the military administration of the Kyiv region said, quoted by Reuters.
As a result of the attacks, an infrastructural object in the Kyiv region was damaged, the head of the military administration of the region, Ruslan Kravchenko, announced on his Facebook account, as quoted by the Ukrinform agency.
"For the second night in a row, Russian forces attacked the Kyiv region with unmanned aerial vehicles. The air alert lasted for almost five hours. The air defense in the Kyiv region was activated in a timely manner," Kravchenko said.
According to him, during the attack, an infrastructure object was damaged in one of the regions of Kyiv region. According to preliminary data, there are no victims or injured. The fire caused by the impact has now been extinguished.
All emergency services are working to determine and repair the damage from the attack, Kravchenko added.
Last night, Ukrainian air defenses shot down 15 out of a total of 20 Russian Shahed-136 strike drones aimed at Ukraine, Ukrainform reports.
Ukraine with new sanctions on Russian organizations and individuals
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has imposed sanctions on 37 Russian organizations and 108 individuals, including a former prime minister and a former minister of education. He said his goal was to fight wartime abductions of Ukrainian children and other forms of "Russian terror," Reuters reported.
"We are increasing the pressure of our state on them, and each of them must be held accountable for what they have done," Zelensky said in his nightly video address after his office issued the corresponding decrees with sanctions signed by him.
Zelensky did not link specific individuals or groups to specific wrongdoings. The decrees introduce a number of 10-year sanctions for individuals and 5-year sanctions against non-profit groups, including one called in English the Russian Children's Foundation.
Zelensky said the list includes "those involved in the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children from the occupied territory." The sanctions also affect persons who "in various ways support Russian terror against Ukraine".
Some of the newly sanctioned individuals, including many with Russian citizenship, had previously received individual or similar punishments. They include Dmytro Tabachnyk, a former minister who was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, and former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
Azarov has had his assets frozen and property confiscated in the past, among other penalties. Then he was sanctioned together with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The pair fled Ukraine to Russia in 2014 following a crackdown on pro-European demonstrators that killed more than 100 demonstrators in Kyiv.
Others now sanctioned include Sergei Aksyonov, Russia's appointed head of Crimea, and Leonid Pasechnik, whom Putin appointed head of the Luhansk region, which Russia has announced it will annex in 2022, according to Reuters.
Among the sanctioned Russian groups are those whose names or websites indicate that they work with children. One of the sanctioned groups is called "Kvartal Loui", which matches the name of an organization with a website that says its founder is Russian child rights ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova, who was sanctioned by Kyiv in October 2022.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Lvova-Belova, along with President Vladimir Putin, accusing them of the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine.
The list of sanctions announced by Zelensky also includes the executive director of "Kvartal Loui" Sofia Lvova-Belova.
Maria Lvova-Belova says the Ukrainian children were taken to protect them from violence and denies committing a war crime. Kiev claims that around 20,000 children were taken to Russia without the consent of their families or guardians, which it says constitutes a war crime meeting the UN treaty's definition of genocide.
Yale University published a study Thursday that found more than 2,400 children between the ages of 6 and 17 were also taken to 13 centers in Russia's ally Belarus.
The report, based on findings from the US State Department, said the transport of the children through Russian territory to its western neighbor was "coordinated" between Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Scholz said he intends to talk to Putin again
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said yesterday that he intends to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin to thaw bilateral contacts that have been disrupted as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, DPA reported.
"I intend to talk to him," Scholz said during a meeting in Brandenburg.
The chancellor added that so far no specific date has been agreed for the conversation and that he does not expect it to lead to a significant breakthrough.
Scholz and Putin last spoke by phone on December 2 last year. The German chancellor has repeatedly stated that in principle he is inclined to hold a conversation with the Russian leader, but it depends on Putin whether such contact will take place.
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