Latest Developments in Ukraine: Dec. 6

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For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.

7:42 p.m.: A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered the arrest in absentia of two Ukrainian ministers after they were accused of violating Russia’s territorial integrity, Agence France-Presse reported.

The decision came following a request by the FSB security service to arrest in absentia Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk and Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova.

Russia said in September it had annexed four Ukrainian regions its forces only partially controlled after holding so-called referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

Senior Ukrainian political figures including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have traveled across the country including to the regions Moscow claimed to have annexed despite the fighting.

Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s minister for the reintegration of the occupied territories, traveled to Kherson after Kyiv’s forces recaptured the city in November.

Dzhaparova, a Crimean Tatar, promotes issues related to the ethnic minority on the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia is 2014, and calls for internat

ional support for the «de-occupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine.»

7 p.m.:

5:58 p.m.: Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have sparked «a new level of need» in the war-torn country, the U.N. aid chief said on Tuesday, warning that millions of people are without heat as temperatures drop, Agence France-Presse reported.

Nearly half of Ukraine’s energy system has been damaged after months of systematic Russian strikes on power infrastructure, with fresh attacks carried out on Monday.

«Since October, the sustained attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have created a new level of need that impacts the whole country and exacerbates the needs caused by the war,» Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told the UN Security Council.

Griffiths warned that more people risked being displaced by the conflict, which he said has forced 14 million people from their homes, including 6.5 million within Ukraine and more than 7.8 million who fled the country.

The U.N. humanitarian agency has made a record-breaking appeal for $51.5 billion in funds for 2023 to address soaring humanitarian needs worldwide, driven by the conflict in Ukraine and climate change.

5 p.m.: The United States said Tuesday it was «not encouraging» Ukraine to strike into Russia after drone attacks on bases widely seen as carried out by Kyiv, Agence France-Presse reported.

«We are not enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders; we are not encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,» State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

«Everything we are doing — everything the world is doing to support Ukraine — is in support of Ukraine’s independence,» he said.

Russia said three people were killed and two aircraft damaged in the attacks Monday on three bases deep into its territory.

Experts believe Ukraine penetrated Russian airspace with simple Soviet-era drones and not any of the billions of dollars in military assistance given by Western powers since Moscow’s February 24 invasion.

4:10 p.m.: The United States and Russia accused each other on Tuesday of not being interested in Ukraine peace talks as calls grow at the United Nations for a cease-fire and diplomacy to end the war started by Moscow’s invasion nine months ago, Reuters reported.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine that Moscow had noted “interest from a significant majority” of U.N. member states in a diplomatic settlement.

Moscow initially said its mission was to “disarm” Ukraine so that it could not be a threat to Russia, and “denazify” it by rooting out leaders it characterized as nationalists. Western countries believe Russia’s true initial aims were to defeat Ukraine’s military and to overthrow its pro-Western government.

“Ukraine needs peace and Ukraine wants peace. More than any other country. It is our territory that has been invaded,” said Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya. “Please keep this in mind every time Moscow attempts to … persuade us that it is not the aggressor, but the victim who resists peace efforts.”

3:17 p.m.: A man in military dress opened fire with a machine gun at a group of police officers on Tuesday, wounding one of them, in the southwestern Russian region of Rostov, which borders Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The region’s governor, Vasily Golubev, said on Telegram that the wounded officer was being treated in a hospital in the town of Novoshakhtinsk, where the incident took place.

Law enforcement is working on locating the perpetrator, whom media described as a possible deserter from the war in Ukraine.

2:30 p.m.:

 

2:10 p.m.: Language learning app Duolingo said on Tuesday over 1.3 million people took up Ukrainian as a language to learn after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February in a show of solidarity, Reuters reported.

The report said people studying Ukrainian in Germany and Poland rose over 1,600% compared to last year.

The company said the growth of Ukrainian learners in the United Kingdom propelled it up 20 places to 17th position in the most popular languages.

Ukrainian was also the fastest-growing in countries far from the conflict such as Argentina, Vietnam and Japan, the company said. Ireland topped the list of countries with the largest growth in people studying Ukrainian.

1:50 p.m.: English teachers in Ukraine will soon have access to language learning materials through a joint project developed by the Voice of America (VOA), an international news and information organization, and GoGlobal, a nongovernmental organization working on educational projects in Ukraine, according to a statement released by VOA on Tuesday.

“We’re very excited about this new collaboration,” Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lopez said. “Our partnership with GoGlobal will not only expand VOA’s audience, but also provide Ukrainians with free access to VOA’s excellent English language training materials from our dedicated and experienced Learning English team.”

VOA’s Learning English team uses “clear and simple vocabulary” to teach American English on radio and television, on the internet, and mobile phones, according to the statement.

“VOA will create a training program for English teachers in Ukraine using VOA Learning English materials,” it said, adding that “GoGlobal will assist in the distribution of VOA Learning English content to Ukrainian schools and educational institutions.”

1:35 p.m.: The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Twitter Tuesday that it is working with Ukrainian television host and public figure Oleksandr Pedan to bring health and safety information to children and their with families across Ukraine.

 

1:15 p.m.: Attacks on airfields deep inside Russia will have struck a powerful psychological blow, senior Western officials said on Tuesday, saying it meant Moscow would have to think much more carefully about how to keep its long-range bombers safe, Reuters reported.

The Engels air base, near the city of Saratov and at least 600 km (372 miles) from the nearest Ukrainian territory, and two other airfields have been hit in the last two days by drone attacks.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks but has celebrated them, and Russia retaliated with a «massive strike on Ukraine’s military control system.»

The senior Western officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strikes were the deepest inside Russia since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

«If it were them (the Ukrainians)… it does show that they can operate in Russia at will, and that will deeply worry the Russians,» one official said. «Psychologically I think it strikes a blow.»

12:55 p.m.:

12:40 p.m.: Ukraine’s health ministry said on Tuesday it was asking regional officials to consider suspending non-essential surgeries until the energy situation inside the country stabilizes, Reuters reported.

Eight waves of Russian air strikes on critical infrastructure in recent weeks have seriously damaged Ukraine’s power grid and led to emergency and planned outages across the country.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said hospitals were continuing to provide emergency care but that planned surgeries should be temporarily suspended to ease the load on the medical system amid potential future blackouts.

Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenergo said on Tuesday that it would take workers several more days to restore electricity production to levels prior to the latest wave of Russian strikes on Monday.

12:25 p.m.: Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Tuesday said the country’s energy system was operating at 19% below the projected consumption level, following renewed Russian missile attacks this week, VOA’s Anna Chernikova reported from Kyiv.

People across the country are continuing to experience emergency power outages after Russia began relentless missile strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure last October.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Ukrainian technicians are working around the clock to stabilize the energy system. Once that work is completed, scheduled electricity outages will resume.

Ukrainian residents are buying generators, large power banks, and other alternative sources of energy in order to survive the difficult winter months ahead.

12:10 p.m.: Children from occupied areas of Ukraine were taken to a camp in Chechnya for «military-patriotic» training in November, according to Russian officials. The children were described as «socially troubled» and designated for «reeducation.» Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, has this report.

11:35 a.m.: The Ukraine conflict has spurred some Russians to seek Kalashnikov training, Reuters reported Tuesday.

In a sports club just outside Moscow run by a former Russian special forces captain, 70 women and men turned out to train with automatic rifles on Saturday, many of them seeking military skills because of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

The United States and its Western allies have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a devastating post-imperial land grab, but inside Russia what the Kremlin calls «a special military operation» is seen differently by some Russians.

The upsurge in patriotism among some Russians is such that civilians like 31-year-old Vladimir are seeking out urban warfare training in free classes provided by Ilya Shadrikov, a former captain in the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) elite special forces Directorate «A».

«We are doing urban military training which for us civilians who have not served in the army could be a very useful skill if we need to defend our homes or if we need to be sent to the front to defend our motherland,» said Vladimir, after 45 minutes of training with Kalashnikov automatic weapons.

11:05 a.m.: At a United Nations Security Council meeting concerning Ukraine Tuesday, French ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said that France and Ukraine are organizing an international conference on December 13 in Paris to support civil society, VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer reported.

France seeks to mobilize the assistance of the international community to help Ukraine’s people survive the winter, he said.

The conference will focus on energy, water, food, health, and transport, he added.

10:45 a.m.: Hungary vetoed an 18 billion euro ($19 billion) loan to Ukraine from the European Union on Tuesday as its row with the bloc over undermining democracy rumbled on and EU finance ministers delayed a decision on whether to unfreeze billions of euros in aid earmarked for Budapest, Reuters reported.

At an EU economics and finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Hungarian minister Mihaly Varga confirmed his government’s opposition to supporting Ukraine with the loan.

Hungary has said it would not take part in joint EU borrowing for Ukraine, though Budapest has said it would provide bilateral assistance. But this is not how Hungary’s decision to block the EU loan has been received by all.

Varga’s Lithuanian colleague told Reuters ahead of the talks that «immoral» for Hungary to hold up EU aid for Ukraine to extract approval from other member states for handing billions of euros from their joint budget to Budapest.

10:25 a.m.:

9:50 a.m.: Ukrainian embassies in Denmark and Romania have received more «bloody packages,» Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an online interview on Tuesday with the Ukrinform news agency, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Last week, Ukrainian embassies and consulates in several European countries received «bloody packages» that contained animal eyes as Russia continues its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine launched in late February.

9:35 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent shared photos from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to meet with troops on the eastern frontline on Tuesday.

Marking Ukraine’s armed forces day, Zelenskyy traveled to the eastern Donetsk region Tuesday and vowed to push Russian forces out of all of Ukraine’s territory.

“Everyone sees your strength and your skill. … I’m grateful to your parents. They raised real heroes,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to Ukrainian forces from the city of the Sloviansk, a key Ukrainian stronghold in the east.

9:15 a.m.: Russia said on Tuesday that it can agree with the United States about the need for lasting peace in Ukraine, but played down the prospect of negotiations until it achieves the goals of its «special military operation,» Reuters reported.

Both U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have said they are open to diplomacy on Ukraine, but a meeting between the two leaders has not been organized and neither side agrees on the conditions for talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Monday that the conflict in Ukraine, now in its 10th month, would almost certainly end with diplomacy and negotiations, and that «just and durable peace» was needed.

Responding to Blinken’s comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he agreed about the need for peace. «That the outcome should be a just and durable peace – one can agree with this,» he said. «But as for the prospects for some kind of negotiations, we don’t see them at the moment, we have repeatedly said so.»

9:05 a.m.:

8:55 a.m.: Romania has started transporting natural gas to Moldova, which is struggling to meet energy demand amid Russia’s war against Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Tuesday.

Gas began arriving on December 3 through a pipeline connecting Iasi in eastern Romania with the Moldovan border town of Ungheni, state news agency Agerpres reported, citing Romanian gas distributor Transgaz.

The 43-kilometer pipeline, unveiled in 2014 to reduce dependence on supplies from Russia, has not been used until now. Moldova connected it in 2019 to supply Chisinau, and the compressor stations were commissioned in 2021.

8:40 a.m.:

8:25 a.m.: Finland must lift an arms embargo on Ankara as a condition to securing support from Turkey for its NATO membership bid, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Finland and Sweden both asked to join NATO this year in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but longtime member Turkey refused to endorse their request until a number of demands were met, including taking a tougher stance against Kurdish militants and removing a ban on arms sales.

While Sweden lifted the embargo in September – initially imposed by both countries in 2019 in response to Ankara’s incursion against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia – Finland has not followed suit.

8:10 a.m.: Russia’s government has commandeered private enterprise to supply its war machine, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

“Russian officials have crisscrossed the country to increase production and replenish dwindling stockpiles of missiles and other munitions,” according to the news organization.

“Napkin makers and upholstered-furniture producers are now making balaclavas, boots and first-aid kits. But increasing military output—and quickly—is difficult,” it quoted analysts and Western officials as saying.

7:55 a.m.:

7:40 a.m.: The Russian government is concerned labor shortages across the country could undermine any chance of Russia mounting a sustained economic recovery in the months ahead, Reuters reported Tuesday quoting Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov.

The Russian economy is set to contract by 2.9% this year, according to the ministry’s official forecasts, with analysts expecting another contraction in 2023 and saying Russia’s medium-term growth potential could be as low as just 1%.

Western sanctions and the fallout of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have hit the economy hard, disrupting supply chains, triggering an exodus of manpower and Western firms, and cutting Russian companies off from Western technology and capital markets.

But the economy has held up better than initial predictions for a possible double-digit fall in GDP, and unemployment is just above a record low at 3.9%.

That tightness in the labor market is causing concerns among decision makers in Moscow, Reshetnikov said in an interview on the state-run Rossiya-24 TV channel on Tuesday. “We are very much concerned, of course, about the labor market. Because in fact (labor) is scarce at the moment, and this is a constraint,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize more than 300,000 reservists — mostly working-age men — to fight in Ukraine has exacerbated existing shortages in Russia’s already shrinking labor force. Hundreds of thousands more have fled Russia in opposition to the war and to avoid being conscripted.

7:25 a.m.:

7:10 a.m.: Ukrainian forces have fought off a fresh round of Russian attacks in the east, Ukraine’s General Staff said Tuesday, as technicians race to restore electricity following Moscow’s latest wave of missile strikes that caused power disruptions across the country amid dropping temperatures, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Russian troops continued their relentless offensive in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka areas of Donetsk region, the General Staff said, adding that tank and artillery bombardment hit some 20 settlements in the area, including Soledar, Verkhnokamyanske, Andriyivka, and Yakovlyivka.

7:00 a.m.: European Union and Western Balkans leaders met in the Albanian capital Tirana on Tuesday for a summit meant to reassure the region of a future in the wealthy bloc amid fears of rising Russian and Chinese influence.

The leaders of the six Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have long expressed disillusion that negotiations have not started or are stalled, years after being promised eventual EU membership.

While reluctance over further enlarging the EU is rife among member states, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed them to focus more energy on bringing the region closer to the bloc, Reuters reported.

“I am absolutely convinced that the future of our children will be safer and more prosperous with the Western Balkans within the EU and we are working very hard to make progress,” EU Council chief Charles Michel said at the start of the meeting.

“Kosovo will be submitting its application for EU membership by the end of this year,” its president, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, said, adding that she hopes an EU summit next week will approve visa liberalization for Kosovo.

Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo hinted that the path to accession will still be long for Western Balkan countries. “We know that there is progress, we know that there is an ambition to make this progress work faster … but there is no shortcut,” he said.

6:45 a.m.:

6:30 a.m.: Russia is set to receive 60 soldiers in a prisoner swap with Ukraine on Tuesday, Reuters reported citing a lawmaker from Russia’s ruling party.

“The Russian Ministry of Defense is conducting another exchange of prisoners of war today. Sixty Russian servicemen are returning home,” State Duma deputy Shamsail Saraliev wrote on Telegram.

6:15 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy said on Tuesday he visited troops in the eastern Donbas region to mark Armed Forces Day, Reuters reported.

“Thank you for this resilience and strength. You are an outpost of our independence,” he wrote in a Telegram post that carried footage of him meeting soldiers.

Zelenskiyy also recorded a separate video in which he appeared to be speaking from Sloviansk, near the besieged city of Bakhmut.

6:05 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron said it was «absurd» to stoke fear in France over the country’s energy situation and reaffirmed France would get through this winter in spite of energy market tensions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

«The role of public authorities is not to spread fear nor to govern by fear,» said Macron, as he arrived at a summit of European Union and Western Balkans leaders in Albania.

«We must not make people feel scared. We must stop all that,» Macron also said. «We will get through this winter, despite the war,» he added.

5:15 a.m.:

 

5:05 a.m.: Ukraine aims to significantly reduce the power deficit caused by the latest Russian air strikes by Tuesday evening, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said, according to Reuters.

Missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday destroyed homes and knocked out power in some areas, but Ukrainian air defenses limited the impact and the damage appeared less severe than the previous wave of air strikes on November 23.

Galushchenko said power generation facilities and substations had been hit and signaled that the regions of Kyiv, Vinnytsia in west-central Ukraine and Odesa in the south had suffered the worst damage.

«We are now bringing the nuclear blocks (power stations) back into operation and the (power) deficit will be significantly reduced by evening,» he told Ukrainian television.

4:05 a.m.:

 

3:30 a.m.: Russia’s No. 2 bank VTB was hit by the largest cyberattack in its history, it said on Tuesday, warning of temporary difficulties in accessing its mobile app and website, but assuring customers that their data remained safe, Reuters reported.

State-owned VTB said it was repelling the distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack, in which hackers attempt to flood a network with unusually high volumes of data traffic in order to paralyze it.

«The bank’s technological infrastructure is under an unprecedented cyberattack from abroad,» VTB said in a statement. «The largest not only this year, but in the whole time the bank has operated.»

Russian government entities and state-owned companies have been targeted over events in Ukraine, with the websites of the Kremlin, flagship carrier Aeroflot and major lender Sberbank among those to have seen outages or temporary access issues.

Hackers also delayed the start of President Vladimir Putin’s speech at Russia’s flagship economic forum earlier this year.

Pro-Russian hackers, meanwhile, have claimed responsibility or been blamed for attacks on websites and infrastructure in the likes of Lithuania, Norway and the United States this year.

VTB said the majority of attacks had come from abroad, but that it was particularly concerned by traffic from Russian IP addresses. It said it would hand over all identified Russian IP addresses to law enforcement.

3:16 a.m.: The Latvian broadcasting regulator’s chairman said Tuesday that the regulator canceled the license of a Russian independent television station TV Rain, Reuters reported.

«In connection with the threat to the national security and public order, (the regulator) has made a decision this morning to annul the broadcast license of TV Rain,» Ivars Abolins said on Twitter, adding the broadcasts will cease on Thursday.

3 a.m.: Oil rebounded on Tuesday after plunging by more than 3% in the previous session, as the implementation of sanctions on Russian seaborne crude oil eased concerns about oversupply while the relaxing of China’s COVID curbs bolstered the demand outlook, Reuters reported.

The Group of Seven set a top price of $60 a barrel on Russian crude, aiming to limit Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine, but Russia has said it will not abide by the measure even if it has to cut production.

The price cap, to be enforced by the G-7 nations, the European Union and Australia, comes on top of the EU’s embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea and similar pledges by the United States, Canada, Japan and Britain.

While the market weighs the impact of sanctions on Russian supply, it was also watching a traffic jam of oil tankers off the coast of Turkey on Monday, with Ankara insisting on new proof of insurance for all vessels.

“The threat of losing protection and indemnity (P&I) insurance will limit Russia’s access to the tanker market, reducing crude exports to 2.4 million barrels per day (bpd) — 500,000 bpd lower than levels seen before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February this year,” analysts from Rystad Energy who spoke to Reuters said in a note.

2:22 a.m.: A drone attack on an airfield in Russia’s Kursk region set fire to an oil storage tank, Reuters reported Tuesday citing a governor, a day after Russia accused Ukraine of audacious drone attacks on two military airfields deep inside Russian territory.

Roman Starovoyt, the governor of the Kursk region bordering Ukraine, said on the Telegram messaging app there were no casualties from the attack and the fire was “localized.” Reuters reported that the news agency was not able to immediately verify the reports.

Russia’s defense ministry said earlier the Ukrainian drones attacked two air bases at Ryazan and Saratov in south-central Russia on Monday, killing three servicemen and wounding four, and damaging two aircraft.

Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility for any of the attacks. If it was behind them, Monday’s strikes would be the deepest inside Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The New York Times, citing a senior Ukrainian official, said the drones involved in Monday’s attacks were launched from Ukrainian territory, and at least one of the strikes was made with the help of special forces close to the base. Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat International shared images it said showed burn marks and objects near a Tu-22M aircraft at the Dyagilevo airbase.

2:15 a.m.: Russian state-owned multinational energy company Gazprom said it plans to ship 42.4 million cubic meters of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

2:05 a.m.:

 

1:43 a.m.: From The Associated Press’ Year in Photos:

 

1:13 a.m.: Canada on Monday said it will contribute $11.04 million (C$15 million) for equipment needed by Ukraine for humanitarian clearing of landmines, Reuters reported.

The assistance will help fund detection and clearance of landmines, unexploded explosive ordnance and other explosive remnants of war.

Canada is providing bomb suits to help protect Ukrainian de-miners, along with funding for advanced remote-control de-mining systems to clear large areas like farmland, the Canadian government said in a statement.

12:40 a.m.:

 

12:05 a.m.: Three parcels containing animal eyes and addressed to Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid and consulates in Barcelona and Malaga were intercepted at offices of the national postal company, Spanish police said Monday, according to The Associated Press.

Seven European countries, including Spain, reported Friday that similar packages had arrived at their Ukrainian embassies or consulates last week. Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican also reported that the entrance to his Rome residence was vandalized Thursday afternoon with what he believed to be animal feces.

A security guard at the Ukrainian Embassy in Spain’s capital was injured November 30 while opening a parcel addressed to the ambassador. Four more letters containing explosive devices were intercepted during the next 24 hours, including one sent to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.

A similar package addressed to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was discovered a week earlier.

Spain’s National Court is investigating the explosive parcels as an act of terrorism. According to the initial investigation, the packages were mailed from within Spain.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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Dahiana Camilo