Ukraine war news – live: Zelensky warns of more Russian air strikes over Christmas

American Age Official

Volodymyr Zelensky has warned of a new wave of Russian attacks over Christmas.

In his nightly address on Friday following his return from a trip to the US, the Ukraine president said: “With the holiday season fast approaching, the Russian terrorists could again step up their activities,” he said. “They have no regard for Christian values or any values for that matter.”

His comments come as Vladimir Putin referred to Russia’s 10-month-long invasion of Ukraine as “war” for the first time in public, as one of his ambassadors warned of the “high” risk of a clash with the US, with diplomatic relations in an “ice age”.

Having previously only called the invasion a “special military operation,” the president said he wants to end the war in Ukraine “the sooner the better” through an inevitable “diplomatic solution”.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” Mr Putin said. “We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course.”

Key Points

  • Putin refers to Ukraine invasion as ‘war’ for first time publicly and calls for ‘diplomatic solution’

  • Zelensky returns to Kyiv as he accelerates his track to victory

  • Kremlin says Russia has made significant progress towards ‘demilitarising’ Ukraine

  • Zelensky gives ‘patriot’ hint as he leaves for Ukraine with ‘good results’

  • Towns shelled in Bakhmut and Avdiivka as fight grips eastern Ukraine

Ukraine ‘repells attacks on 17 settlements’

23:20 , Sam Rkaina

Ukrainian forces repelled attacks on at least 17 eastern settlements, the general staff said early on Friday.

It added that Kremlin forces had launched 12 missile and air strikes, including on civilian targets, away from the front lines in eastern and southeastern Ukraine.

The exiled mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol in the south said more Russian troops had been brought into the city and were strengthening fortifications, with residents now only able to leave on foot.

A car bomb exploded in the city earlier in the day, Ivan Fedorov added in his online media briefing.

Russian forces shelled the southern Kherson region 61 times in 24 hours, half of those within Kherson city, killing one person, Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said. Russia withdrew from that city last month.

Russian authorities begin demolishing Mariupol theatre

22:41 , Sam Rkaina

Russian authorities in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol have begun demolishing most of the city’s drama theatre, where Ukrainian authorities say hundreds died in an air bombardment in March.

Video posted on both Ukrainian and Russian websites on Friday showed heavy equipment taking down much of the building, while leaving its front facade intact.

Ukrainian officials denounced the demolition as a bid to cover up the deaths in the March 16 bombardment and wipe out Ukrainian culture. Russian officials said it was part of plans to rebuild the theatre in a city firmly under their control.

“The Mariupol Theatre no longer exists,” Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko wrote on Facebook. “The occupiers are removing traces of their crimes and couldn’t care less whether this is cultural heritage or whether it belongs to another culture.”

Russia’s Tass news agency quoted the theatre’s director, Igor Solonin, as saying that the demolition concerned “only that part of the building that is impossible to restore”. Plans called for reconstruction to be complete by the end of 2024.

The bombing of the theatre was part of a protracted Russian siege of Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov seen as critical to Russian supply lines between areas its forces control in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Civilians had taken refuge in the theatre and large signs emblazoned simply with “Children” had been erected on either side of it. Ukrainian officials said at least 300 people were killed during the Russian bombing, though some estimates said the toll was higher

Russia denied bombing the theatre deliberately.

Mariupol held out for more than two months out against Russian assaults which left most of its buildings in ruins.

Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to the exiled mayor of Mariupol, said that despite demolition, the truth about the theatre bombing “will not stay hidden no matter what they do. There is enough video evidence, witness testimonies and those who survived.”

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Zelensky sends Christmas wishes to UK after year of support

21:44 , Sam Rkaina

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sent Christmas wishes to the UK, as he thanked Rishi Sunak and the British public for their support in the country’s fight against Russia.

Earlier, the Prime Minister had tweeted a short video with the message: “This Christmas, we’re with you Ukraine.”

Mr Zelensky tweeted back: “I’m grateful to Rishi Sunak and the entire British people! We feel your support. We feel the light and the warmth of your hearts.

“Light always prevails over darkness. Thus together, we will defeat evil and restore peace in Ukraine, Europe, and the world. Merry Christmas, friends!”

Mr Zelensky has returned to Kyiv after a short visit to Washington to meet US President Joe Biden and to call on American politicians to continue to rally behind Ukraine.

It comes as the Ukrainian people face their first Christmas since the Russian invasion, as both sides dig in for the winter.

Rishi Sunak with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (PA Media)Rishi Sunak with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (PA Media)

Rishi Sunak with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (PA Media)

Zelensky to increase diplomatic efforts in Africa, Latin America and Asia

21:12 , Sam Rkaina

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday Kyiv would intensify diplomatic efforts in Africa, Latin America and Asia to take advantage of “colossal economic potential” and other international benefits.

African countries have had varying responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as some countries like South Africa have close trade and security ties with Russia they do not want to jeopardise.

In his nightly video address, Zelensky said diplomats would focus on countries where Ukraine has lesser influence, particularly in the Global South.

“There is colossal economic potential and considerable diplomatic avenues,” he said.

He singled out votes in support of Ukraine from developing countries at the United Nations General Assembly as it fights off Russia’s 10-month-old invasion.

Ukraine also seeks to develop ties with its traditional partners “to make next year the decisive one in this war so that Ukraine attains its goals.”

US House gives final approve to $45 billion for Ukraine

20:05 , Sam Rkaina

The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives gave final approval on Friday to a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelensky returned from Washington with the promise of Patriot missiles to help fend off Russia’s invasion.

The measure, part of a $1.66 trillion government funding bill that passed the Senate a day earlier, will now go to Joe Biden for signing into law.

The military and economic assistance follows US aid worth around $50 billion sent to Ukraine this year as well sanctions imposed on Russia by the West that now include a cap on Russian oil prices.

Russia responded to the cap on Friday by threatening to cut oil output by 5%-7% early next year through halting sales to countries that support the measure.

Zelensky has long sought Patriot surface-to-air missiles to help counter Russian air strikes, which have razed cities, towns and villages during 10 months of conflict and knocked out power and water supply across the country over the past three months.

The Ukraine president said in his Telegram channel: “We are coming back from Washington with …something that will really help.”

U.S. officials say, however, that the single Patriot battery that President Joe Biden told Zelenskiy would be supplied to Ukraine would not change the course of the war.

Washington and its allies have been unwilling to supply Kyiv with modern battle tanks and long-range missiles called ATACMS that could reach far behind frontlines and into Russia itself.

 (AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Funding for Ukraine hosts set to rise in new year

19:15 , Sam Rkaina

The funding given to individuals who take in Ukrainian refugees will rise from £350 to £500 a month after the first year.

Mr Gove also announced a £500 million fund aimed at allowing councils in England to buy up housing stock for the use of refugees, which is expected to provide up to 4,000 homes.

Addressing the funding increases, the ministers said the £500 payments should start immediately rather than after 12 months, adding that the devolved nations do not have the “fiscal headroom” to offer similar funds to local authorities to buy up housing stock.

“We therefore ask that you urgently revisit this decision, which was made without appropriate consultation and engagement with devolved Governments, and to meet with us quickly to find a more effective way forward,” the ministers concluded.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government said: “We are grateful to all sponsors who have opened their homes to Ukrainians. We understand they may be concerned about rising costs, which is why we have increased thank you payments to £500 a month, once the guest has been in the UK for a year.

“Councils have received £1.1 billion through the Homes for Ukraine scheme so they can support arrivals and they have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads.

“Ministers and officials meet regularly with their counterparts in the devolved governments and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure Ukrainians and their hosts have the support they need.”

Cutting Ukraine refugee funding is short-sighted, Gove told

18:45 , Sam Rkaina

Cutting the funding that local authorities receive for each Ukrainian refugee they house is “counter-productive and short-sighted” Michael Gove has been told.

The Communities Secretary announced earlier this month that the funding would be cut, while the money given to people who host those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine is set to rise.

Funding provided to councils will drop from £10,500 per person to £5,900 per person as a result of “wider pressures on the public finances”, Mr Gove said.

In a letter from Scottish Ukraine minister, Neil Gray, and Welsh social justice minister, Jane Hutt, the two asked for the decisions to be “urgently” reviewed.

“The changes announced amount to a reduction in funding available to help people fleeing Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine settle into a new home,” the letter said.

“In the face of continued and acute need, it is counter-productive and short-sighted to cut vital funding available to deliver public services to the most vulnerable.

“It will place local authorities under extreme and unacceptable pressure during an unprecedented cost of living crisis.

“Those arriving from Ukraine deserve the same care and support which we provide to those arriving from Afghanistan or through the UK Resettlement Scheme.

“The approach and funding model used under those schemes is internationally recognised as good practice and supported by each of our Governments.

“The decision to undermine the success of this safe and legal route to the UK is at odds with recent UK Government claims about a generous approach.”

What is Russia’s ‘Satan II’ hypersonic intercontinental nuclear missile?

18:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has issued a fresh warning that Moscow’s RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), nicknamed “Satan II”, could soon be ready for deployment as its war in Ukraine rumbles on after 10 gruelling months.

In an end-of-year speech to military chiefs on Wednesday, Mr Putin hinted at the future involvement of Satan II in the conflict as he heralded Russian soldiers and defence chiefs as “heroes” and pledged further support for the armed forces.

Joe Sommerlad has more:

What is Russia’s ‘Satan II’ intercontinental nuclear missile?

What will Zelensky visiting Washington and Putin going to Minsk mean for the war in Ukraine?

17:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Two international visits this week are strong indicators that the Ukraine war is unlikely to end soon, and that another round of prolonged and bloody fighting is expected to unfold in the near future, writes Kim Sengupta.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s journey to Washington, his first foreign trip since the Russian invasion began, comes as Congress is due to vote on a $45bn (£37bn) assistance package for his country – the biggest tranche from the US so far in the conflict.

At the same time, Vladimir Putin has met Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk as reports persist that the Kremlin may try to use Belarus once more as a launchpad for its next offensive, with yet another attempt to capture Kyiv and impose regime change.

How Zelensky was flown to US in the middle of Ukraine war for historic address

17:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The idea of a daring wartime trip by Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington had percolated for some time before the surprise visit was revealed just hours ahead of the Ukrainian president’s arrival.

During an October summit in Zagreb, House speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed with her counterpart in the Ukrainian parliament the prospect of Mr Zelensky addressing the US Congress.

Biden administration officials had similarly talked for months with Ukraine about a Zelensky visit to the White House, hoping for one before year’s end to send an unmistakeable signal of support ahead of a brutal winter that could deepen Russian president Vladimir Putin’s assault.

Read more here:

How Zelensky was flown to US in the middle of Ukraine war for historic address

Zelensky returns to Kyiv as he accelerates his track to victory

16:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sounded another defiant note on his return to his nation’s capital Kyiv following a wartime visit to the United States, even as Russia launched new strikes across the country.

Mr Zelensky posted on his Telegram account that his forces are “working toward victory” following a US trip that secured a new 1.8 billion dollar (£1.49 billion) military aid package, and pledged that “we’ll overcome everything”.

The President’s return comes amid relentless Russian artillery, rocket and mortar fire as well as air strikes on the eastern and southern fronts and elsewhere in Ukraine.

Officials in Moscow repeated that there would be no end to the war until its military objectives are achieved.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the war would end at the negotiating table once the “special military operation” achieves “the goals that the Russian Federation has set”, adding that “a significant headway has been made on demilitarisation of Ukraine“.

The Kremlin spokesman said no reported Ukrainian peace plan can succeed without taking into account “the realities of today that can’t be ignored”, a reference to Moscow’s demand that Ukraine recognises Russia‘s sovereignty over the Crimea Peninsula, which was annexed in 2014, as well as other territorial gains.

Mr Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to visit a weapons factory in Tula, about 90 miles south of Moscow, and chair a meeting on the country’s arms industry.

Ukraine to receive up to $2.65 billion in aid from Netherlands in 2023

16:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Netherlands will provide Ukraine with up to 2.5 billion euros (approx £2.2 billion) in aid in 2023, the Dutch government said on Friday.

The money is earmarked for military assistance, work to recover critical infrastructure and to help investigations into possible war crimes, the government said.

“As long as Russia continues its war against Ukraine, the Netherlands will provide assistance to Ukraine. Military, humanitarian and diplomatic,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet.

Ukraine eyeing bigger diplomatic footprint in Africa

16:04 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that Kyiv would boost its footprint in Africa next year by opening 10 new embassies and strengthening trade ties with the continent.

Ukraine has been trying to rally African countries to its cause as it fights off Russia‘s full-scale invasion, in part by promoting a humanitarian grain initiative to help alleviate hunger in highly vulnerable countries.

Russia‘s blockade of Ukrainian agricultural exports through the Black Sea had sparked global grain and fertiliser shortages earlier this year, endangering millions, before a U.N.-brokered deal partially eased it in July.

“We are overhauling relations with dozens of African countries,” Zelensky told a gathering of diplomats in Kyiv. “Next year we need to strengthen this.”

Besides opening the new embassies, Zelensky said, Ukraine would also aim to set up trade representative offices in several key hubs on the continent – which he described as a region “where our interests are so far represented less than we need”.

He did not specify in which countries those new embassies or trade offices would be located, but added that he would like Ukraine to eventually be represented in 30 countries on the continent.

North Korea fires missile amid tension over Russia arms aid.

15:37 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea off its east coast on Friday, the South Korean military said, the latest in an unprecedented number of missile tests this year.

Coming only days after two other missiles were launched and a day after allegations were made the country is shipping munitions to Russian forces in Ukraine, North Korea continued actions its neighbours say are destabilising the region.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles flew 350 km (217.5 miles) and 250 km, respectively, after being fired at around 16:30 p.m. (0730 GMT) from the Sunan area of the North Korean capital Pyongyang. Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile launch.

Such launches are a “serious provocation that harms peace and stability” on the Korean peninsula and beyond and a clear violation of U.N. resolutions, South Korea’s military said, urging an immediate halt.

“We will track and monitor developments together with the United States in preparation for additional provocations by North Korea, while maintaining a firm readiness posture based on our ability to overwhelmingly respond to any provocations by North Korea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Japan’s State Minister of Defence Toshiro Ino said Tokyo has lodged a strong protest to North Korea through diplomatic channels in Beijing.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno condemned the latest launch as “absolutely unacceptable.”

“North Korea’s rapid escalation of provocations in a series of actions threatens the peace and security of Japan’s region and the international community,” Matsuno told reporters.

‘High risk of clash’ between Russia and US, says ambassador – with diplomatic relations in ‘ice age’

15:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

There is a “high” risk of a clash between the US and Russia, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington has said, with relations between the two countries in an “ice age”.

Russian state-owned news agency TASS cited Anatoly Antonov as saying that it was hard to say when talks on strategic dialogue between the two sides could resume, although it is unclear if the ambassador meant a clash militarily or politically.

US-Russia ties have fallen to their lowest point in decades, thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which has led Western nations to impose sanctions.

Chris Stevenson has more:

‘High risk of clash’ between Russia and US, says ambassador

Russian actress and poet Vera Polozkova brands Putin the ‘main maniac of 21st century’

14:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In case you missed it…

Russian president Vladimir Putin has been branded the “main maniac of the 21st century” by a leading Russian actress as his war on Ukraine enters its tenth month.

Vera Polozkova, 36, expressed her feeling of “crazy pain and shame” over Russia’s self-styled special military operation in Ukraine, and urged her fellow citizens to prepare to acknowledge, repent and atone for Moscow’s “crimes”.

Ms Polozkova made her remarks during an interview with popular Russian journalist and YouTuber Yury Dud, known for his interviews with a series of critics of Mr Putin’s brutal attacks on Ukraine.

Emily Atkinson has more:

Russian actress brands Putin the ‘main maniac of 21st century’

Canada condemns N.Korean arms sale to Russia’s Wagner Group

14:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Canada on Friday condemned what it said were North Korean arms deliveries to Russia, saying Pyongyang’s transaction with the private military company the Wagner Group “clearly violates international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

“We will continue to work with international partners to address these developments and respond to further arms deliveries should they take place,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement.

North Korea’s foreign ministry, in a statement, has denied that it has supplied munitions to Russia but did not make any mention of Wagner.

The United States on Thursday said North Korea had completed an initial arms delivery to the Wagner Group to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine, confirming news first reported by Reuters.

What is Russia’s ‘Satan II’ hypersonic intercontinental nuclear missile?

14:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has issued a fresh warning that Moscow’s RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), nicknamed “Satan II”, could soon be ready for deployment as its war in Ukraine rumbles on after 10 gruelling months.

In an end-of-year speech to military chiefs on Wednesday, Mr Putin hinted at the future involvement of Satan II in the conflict as he heralded Russian soldiers and defence chiefs as “heroes” and pledged further support for the armed forces.

The prospect of the ICBM being launched was last raised in June when Mr Putin addressed military academy graduates at the Kremlin and said, ominously: “We will continue to develop and strengthen our armed forces, taking into account potential military threats and risks.”

Joe Sommerlad has more:

What is Russia’s ‘Satan II’ intercontinental nuclear missile?

North Korea denies media report it supplied munitions to Russia- Part two

14:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Thursday they have been monitoring North Korea’s activities amid concerns over possible arms transactions with Russia.

In a separate statement, the North Korean foreign ministry also slammed the United States’ attempt to issue a U.N. Security Council presidential statement on its latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

“The DPRK has already and clearly warned that such foolish attempt of the U.S. may entail a very undesirable consequence,” the spokesperson said in the statement, calling the U.S. move a “very dangerous act” that the North “has to counter with action.”

North Korea has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to reach the U.S. mainland, in defiance of international sanctions.

North Korea denies media report it supplied munitions to Russia- Part one

13:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

North Korea’s foreign ministry denied a media report it supplied munitions to Russia, calling it “groundless,” and denounced the United States for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported earlier that North Korea had shipped munitions, including artillery shells, to Russia via train through their border last month and that additional shipments were expected in the coming weeks.

“The Japanese media’s false report that the DPRK offered munitions to Russia is the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by the KCNA.

The White House said on Thursday the North has completed an initial arms delivery to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

The North Korean foreign ministry statement did not make any mention of Wagner.

According to the White House, Wagner took delivery of infantry rockets and missiles from North Korea, though Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin denied the assertion as “gossip and speculation”.

“The DPRK remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of ‘arms transaction’ between the DPRK and Russia which has never happened,” the North Korean spokesperson said, adding it is the United States that’s “bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine by providing it with various kinds of lethal weapons.”

DPRK are the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Zelensky thanks Biden and ‘ordinary people’ of America for support at White House meeting

13:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Americans for their support on Wednesday as he returned to Washington for a lightning-round of meetings with President Joe Biden and an address to Congress on the day it is set to approve some $40bn in additional military aid.

Mr Zelensky, dressed in cargo pants and his signature miltary-style jacket, was greeted by the president and first lady Jill Biden, who quickly escorted him through the executive mansion’s diplomatic entrance.

Andrew Feinberg and John Bowden report:

Zelensky thanks Biden and ‘ordinary people’ of America for support of Ukraine defence

Russia’s former deputy prime minister injured in shelling of Ukraine hotel

13:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In case you missed it…

A former Russian deputy prime minister was injured in a Ukrainian attack on Donetsk on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.

Dmitry Rogozin, who has been giving military advice to two occupied regions of Ukraine which Russia has claimed as its territory, was hurt but his life was not in danger, the state-owned Tass agency reported, quoting an aide of Vladimir Putin’s former second-in-command.

Also hurt was Vitaly Khotsenko, the head of government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, his press secretary was reported as saying.

Liam James reports:

Russia’s former deputy prime minister injured in shelling of Ukraine hotel

Putin refers to Ukraine invasion as ‘war’ for first time publicly and calls for ‘diplomatic solution’

13:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin, in rare remarks, said Russia wants an end to its war in Ukraine “the sooner the better” through an inevitable “diplomatic solution”.

This was the first time since Russia’s 10-month-long invasion of Ukraine that the president publicly used the term “war” to describe what he previously called a “special military operation”.

His remarks on Thursday come a day after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met his American counterpart Joe Biden in Washington, where he promised continued and unwavering support.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” Mr Putin said. “We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course.”

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:

Putin refers to Ukraine invasion as ‘war’ for first time publicly

US House to vote on $1.66 trillion funding bill as shutdown deadline nears

12:46 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The US House of Representatives on Friday is due to vote on a $1.66 trillion bill that provides the U.S. military with robust funding, dispatches emergency aid to Ukraine and keeps all federal agencies operating through Sept. 30, 2023.

Passage of the Senate-approved measure in the Democratic-controlled House would send it to President Joe Biden to sign into law before a midnight Friday (0500 GMT Saturday) deadline when temporary funds would expire.

After weeks of haggling and threats of government shutdowns, Congress aims to complete one of its most basic duties: appropriating money to keep the bureaucracy humming, three months after a new fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

Its failure to pass a funding bill on time, which is becoming a norm, meant that the government had to function on temporary extensions of last year’s funding levels, which Democrats and Republicans alike say poses threats to national security.

National security concerns prompted legislators to include a provision to ban the use of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on federal government devices.

House Republicans oppose the bill, arguing it is too bloated and was crafted in secrecy among top congressional leaders. The 4,155-page bill was passed on Thursday in the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 68-29.

While many House Republicans said they preferred to simply legislate another temporary funding bill extending into early next year, the massive full-year measure takes a heavy load off of Republican leaders who will take control of the chamber on Jan. 3 as a result of November’s midterm elections.

That will allow House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to avoid a fierce fight at the start of the new year and focus on his run for the powerful position of House speaker.

While the majority of his caucus supports him, a vocal minority of conservative Republicans have voiced opposition to his candidacy, a concern since he needs a majority of the 435-member House to support him.

Democrats are likely to support their newly selected leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, to be speaker in a mostly symbolic effort.

Zelensky returns to Kyiv as he accelerates his track to victory

12:31 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sounded another defiant note on his return to his nation’s capital Kyiv following a wartime visit to the United States, even as Russia launched new strikes across the country.

Mr Zelensky posted on his Telegram account that his forces are “working toward victory” following a US trip that secured a new 1.8 billion dollar (£1.49 billion) military aid package, and pledged that “we’ll overcome everything”.

The President’s return comes amid relentless Russian artillery, rocket and mortar fire as well as air strikes on the eastern and southern fronts and elsewhere in Ukraine.

Officials in Moscow repeated that there would be no end to the war until its military objectives are achieved.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the war would end at the negotiating table once the “special military operation” achieves “the goals that the Russian Federation has set”, adding that “a significant headway has been made on demilitarisation of Ukraine“.

The Kremlin spokesman said no reported Ukrainian peace plan can succeed without taking into account “the realities of today that can’t be ignored”, a reference to Moscow’s demand that Ukraine recognises Russia‘s sovereignty over the Crimea Peninsula, which was annexed in 2014, as well as other territorial gains.

Mr Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to visit a weapons factory in Tula, about 90 miles south of Moscow, and chair a meeting on the country’s arms industry.

Several killed as fierce fighting continues in Ukraine

12:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Ukrainian military said Russian forces fired multiple rockets “more than 70 times” across Ukrainian territory overnight, while fierce battles raged around the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region where regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said four people were killed and seven others were wounded over the past day.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Bakhmut and Lyman in the neighbouring Luhansk region as well as the front line between the Luhansk and Kharkiv regions bore the brunt of the Russian strikes, but did not specify to what degree.

In the Kherson region, as many as 61 Russian rocket, artillery and mortar fire attacks over the past 24 hours killed one person and wounded two others.

Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych posted on Telegram that Russian forces attacked from dug-in positions on the right bank of the Dnieper river, hitting educational institutions, apartment blocks and private homes.

In the eastern Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, Ukraine‘s military said Russia launched six missile strikes and as many air attacks on civilian targets while Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks on or near 19 settlements in the north and east.

Russian shelling overnight also struck a district hospital in the north-eastern city of Volchansk, Kharkiv region, wounding five people, according to local governor Oleh Syniehubov.

He Syniehubov posted on Telegram that the four men and one woman were all in “moderate condition”.

Kremlin says Russia has made significant progress towards ‘demilitarising’ Ukraine

11:53 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Friday that Russia had made significant progress towards “demilitarising” Ukraine, one of the goals President Vladimir Putin declared when he launched his war against Kyiv 10 months ago.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov offered the assessment of Russia‘s military progress when asked during a briefing about comments by Putin, who on Thursday said that Ukraine‘s defence potential was close to zero.

“It can be stated that there is significant progress towards demilitarisation,” Peskov replied.

Ukraine‘s own defence potential – its military industrial complex – has been badly disrupted by Russian missile strikes.

But the West has poured tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons into Ukraine and U.S. President Joe Biden this week promised a U.S. Patriot air defence system and pledged continued support.

Putin dismissed the Patriot system as “quite old” and said Russia would adapt to it.

After suffering a series of defeats in what Moscow calls its “special military operation”, Russia is looking for a battlefield victory in eastern Ukraine where its forces have been trying to capture the small city of Bakhmut for months.

Biden, who has said he’d be ready to talk to Putin if the Russian leader was serious about finding a way to end the war, has spoken of the difficulty that Moscow may face finding what he described as a face-saving off-ramp to end the conflict.

Putin said on Thursday that he wanted to end the war as soon as possible, and that this would have to happen through diplomatic means. The United States said he had shown “absolutely zero indication that he’s willing to negotiate”.

Peskov said Russia had no knowledge of a Ukrainian peace plan that the Wall Street Journal reported Kyiv was preparing to put forward in February.

He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had until now ignored the “realities” of the situation – a reference to Russia‘s proclaimed incorporation of four partly occupied Ukrainian regions, a move Kyiv and the West have dismissed as illegal.

Watch: Fire engulfs Russian military facility in eastern Moscow

11:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian ambassador to Washington says US-Russia relations in ‘ice age’

11:27 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s ambassador to the United States on Friday compared the state of US-Russia relations to an “ice age”, and said that the risk of a clash between the two countries was “high”, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.

TASS cited Anatoly Antonov as saying that it was hard to say when talks on strategic dialogue between the two sides could resume, but that talks on prisoner swaps had been “effective” and would continue.

US-Russia ties have fallen to their lowest point in decades amid the fallout from Russia‘s military campaign in Ukraine, and the consequent imposition of Western sanctions.

Two prisoner swaps, in which U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed and basketball star Brittney Griner were freed by Russia in return for convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko and arms dealer Viktor Bout, were rare instances of successful US-Russia diplomacy in 2022.

Russian politician files legal challenge over Putin’s reference to Ukraine “war”

11:17 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A St Petersburg politician has asked prosecutors to investigate Russian President Vladimir Putin for using the word “war” to describe the conflict in Ukraine, accusing the Kremlin chief of breaking his own law.

Putin has for months described his invasion as a “special military operation”. He signed laws in March that prescribe steep fines and jail terms for discrediting or spreading “deliberately false information” about the armed forces, putting people at risk of prosecution if they call the war by its name.

But he departed from his usual language on Thursday when he told reporters: “Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war.”

Nikita Yuferev, an opposition councillor in the city where Putin was born, said he knew his legal challenge would go nowhere, but he had filed it to expose the “mendacity” of the system.

“It’s important for me to do this to draw attention to the contradiction and the injustice of these laws that he (Putin) adopts and signs but which he himself doesn’t observe,” he told Reuters.

“I think the more we talk about this, the more people will doubt his honesty, his infallibility, and the less support he will have.”

In his challenge, filed in an open letter, Yuferev asked the prosecutor general and interior minister to “hold (Putin) responsible under the law for spreading fake news about the actions of the Russian army”.

Yuferev, who asked Reuters not to disclose his location, said Putin critics who publicly called the war a war have suffered harsh punishments.

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin was jailed for 8-1/2 years this month for spreading “false information” about the army. In July another local councillor, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced to seven years for criticising the invasion.

Yuferev said he had previously drawn authorities’ attention to the use of the word “war” by other prominent figures including Sergei Kiriyenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, and leading lawmaker Sergei Mironov.

He said police told him they examined the complaint against Kiriyenko and found he had done nothing wrong, and refused to look into the Mironov case.

After publishing the open letter about Putin, Yuferev said he had received hundreds of hate messages. But he said he believed the majority of Russians understood what was really happening in Ukraine.

“War, in Russian society, is a frightening word. Everyone is brought up by grandparents who lived through World War Two, everyone remembers the saying ‘Anything but war’,” he said.

Ukraine to receive up to $2.65 bln in aid from Netherlands in 2023

11:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Netherlands will provide Ukraine with up to 2.5 billion euros ($2.65 billion) in aid in 2023, the Dutch government said on Friday.

The money is earmarked for military assistance, work to recover critical infrastructure and to help investigations into possible war crimes, the government said.

“As long as Russia continues its war against Ukraine, the Netherlands will provide assistance to Ukraine. Military, humanitarian and diplomatic,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet.

Russia denounces EU for granting Bosnia candidacy status

10:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia criticised the European Union for granting Bosnia a candidate status, saying on Friday it was part of a Western push to impose its policies on the Western Balkan countries.

Last week, EU leaders agreed to make Bosnia and Herzegovina a formal candidate to become a member of the 27-nation bloc.

“In the context of the current situation in the world and the West’s expansionist line, it is obvious that this decision was primarily prompted by a task of the total geopolitical conquering of the region,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to a statement issued by the Russian embassy in Bosnia.

Bosnia will be joining Albania, Moldova, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine, which have already launched a long-term process that involves complex negotiations on adjusting local laws to those of the EU.

EU officials have said the decision to grant it the candidate status was prompted mainly because of a fear that instability created by the war in Ukraine may spread to the volatile Western Balkans region.

The West is concerned about Russian influence in the Balkans, especially in Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb Republic which oppose sanctions against Moscow.

Zaharova said the EU has used the accession talks to force the Balkan countries to “automatically” adopt the bloc’s foreign policy and decisions on sanctions, according to the statement.

Russia has also lobbied for the office of international peace overseer in Bosnia to be closed down, encouraging separatist Bosnian Serbs to disobey the envoy’s decisions.

“We intend to continue working with a goal to free sovereign and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina of the external protectorate’s outdated regime,” the statement said.

While Russia has warned it would regard steps Bosnia might take to join NATO as a “hostile act” it has so far not criticised its EU ambitions.

Watch: CCTV captures Putin’s soldiers raiding Ukrainian orphanage to abduct children

10:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

CCTV footage has captured Russian soldiers raiding an oprhanage in Ukraine and taking children. Watch here:

Russian ambassador to Washington says risk of clash between US and Russia ‘high’

10:26 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s ambassador to the United States said on Friday that the risk of a clash between the U.S. and Russia was “high”, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.

TASS cited Anatoly Antonov as saying that it was hard to say when talks on strategic dialogue between the two sides could resume, but that talks on prisoner swaps had been “effective” and would continue.

Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region says shelling of nuclear plant has almost stopped

10:12 , Chris Stevenson

The top Russian-installed official in Ukraine‘s Zaporizhzhia region said on Friday that shelling of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, had “almost stopped”.

Speaking on Russian state television, Russian-installed regional governor Yevgeny Balitsky said that Russian troops would not leave the nuclear plant, and that it would never return to Ukrainian control.

Zelensky stopped at Poland before arriving back in Kyiv

09:58 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Part of the reason Volodymyr Zelensky took some time to get back to Kyiv from Washington is that he stopped off in Poland, where he met for two hours with the Polish president, Andrzej Duda on Thursday.

The meeting happened near the airport in the southeastern city of Rzeszow, a major artery for Western weapons flowing into Ukraine and for refugees fleeing Poland.

Fighting still heavy in Bakhmut and Avdiivka, Ukraine army says

09:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Fighting in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk remains focused on Bakhmut and Avdiivka, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has said.

Meanwhile, the Russian chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov, said the frontline in Ukraine was stable, and that Moscow’s forces is concentrating on “the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic”.

Zelensky back at work in Kyiv after historic visit to US

09:12 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Friday saying he was back at work in Kyiv after his landmark visit to Washington this week.

“I am in my office. We are working toward victory,” he said in the video posted to his Telegram channel.

President Zelensky with US president Joe Biden this week (AFP via Getty Images)President Zelensky with US president Joe Biden this week (AFP via Getty Images)

President Zelensky with US president Joe Biden this week (AFP via Getty Images)

What will Zelensky visiting Washington and Putin going to Minsk mean for the war in Ukraine?

09:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In case you missed it…

“Two international visits this week are strong indicators that the Ukraine war is unlikely to end soon, and that another round of prolonged and bloody fighting is expected to unfold in the near future,” writes Kim Sengupta.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s journey to Washington, his first foreign trip since the Russian invasion began, comes as Congress is due to vote on a $45bn (£37bn) assistance package for his country – the biggest tranche from the US so far in the conflict.

“At the same time, Vladimir Putin has met Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk as reports persist that the Kremlin may try to use Belarus once more as a launchpad for its next offensive, with yet another attempt to capture Kyiv and impose regime change.”

Read more here:

What will Zelensky in the US and Putin in Belarus mean for Ukraine? | Kim Sengupta

Zelensky’s US visit shows Ukraine is not ‘striving for peace’, claims Russia

08:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia has claimed Volodymyr Zelensky’s wartime visit to Washington proves he is not “striving for peace” in Ukraine, as it coincides with a $1.8bn military aid package from the United States.

The Ukrainian president received thunderous applause from members of Congress during his short, hastily-organised trip – his first outside the country since Russian troops invaded on 24 February.

He returned to Kyiv on Thursday after a brief stop in Poland where greeted President Andrzej Duda.

The new US deal includes supplies of the Patriot air defence system, the most powerful such weapons yet promised to Ukraine.

Alastair Jamieson reports:

Zelensky’s US visit shows Ukraine is not ‘striving for peace’, claims Russia

How Zelensky was flown to US in the middle of Ukraine war for historic address

08:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The idea of a daring wartime trip by Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington had percolated for some time before the surprise visit was revealed just hours ahead of the Ukrainian president’s arrival.

During an October summit in Zagreb, House speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed with her counterpart in the Ukrainian parliament the prospect of Mr Zelensky addressing the US Congress.

Biden administration officials had similarly talked for months with Ukraine about a Zelensky visit to the White House, hoping for one before year’s end to send an unmistakeable signal of support ahead of a brutal winter that could deepen Russian president Vladimir Putin’s assault.

Read more here:

How Zelensky was flown to US in the middle of Ukraine war for historic address

Russian diplomat says Nato instructors must leave Ukraine before talks can start

08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A senior Russian diplomat said on Friday that talks on security guarantees for Russia cannot take place while Nato instructors and “mercenaries” remain in Ukraine, and while Western arms supplies to the country continue.

In an interview with Russian state-owned news agency TASS, Alexander Darchiev, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North America department, said talks would be premature “until the flood of weapons and financing for the (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky regime stops, American and Nato servicemen/mercenaries/instructors are withdrawn”.

Russia typically refers to foreign volunteers fighting with the Ukrainian army as “mercenaries”, and has convicted captured foreign fighters of acting as such.

Russian officials have increasingly stressed their openness to talks on Ukraine in recent weeks, even as they have emphasised that they do not believe Zelensky is interested in a peaceful settlement.

In his comments, Darchiev said that talks would also need to be preceded by “recognition of the realities we have defined on the ground”, an apparent reference to Russia‘s control of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

North Korea denies media report it supplied munitions to Russia

07:53 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

North Korea’s foreign ministry denied a media report it supplied munitions to Russia, calling it “groundless”, and denounced the United States for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported earlier that North Korea had shipped munitions, including artillery shells, to Russia via train through their border last month and that additional shipments were expected in the coming weeks.

“The Japanese media’s false report that the DPRK offered munitions to Russia is the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by the KCNA.

The White House said on Thursday the North has completed an initial arms delivery to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

The North Korean foreign ministry statement did not make any mention of Wagner.

According to the White House, Wagner took delivery of infantry rockets and missiles from North Korea, though Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin denied the assertion as “gossip and speculation”.

“The DPRK remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of ‘arms transaction’ between the DPRK and Russia which has never happened,” the North Korean spokesperson said, adding it is the United States that is “bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine by providing it with various kinds of lethal weapons.”

DPRK are the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

South Korea’s foreign ministry condemned the North’s reported arms dealing with the Wagner Group, stressing that Pyongyang is banned from any weapons transaction under the U.N. Security Council resolution.

“Our government has been communicating with the U.S. side on this, and supports the United States’ push to raise the issue at the U.N. Security Council,” the ministry said in a statement.

In a separate statement, the North Korean foreign ministry also slammed the United States’ attempt to issue a U.N. Security Council presidential statement on its latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

“The DPRK has already and clearly warned that such foolish attempt of the U.S. may entail a very undesirable consequence,” the spokesperson said in the statement, calling the U.S. move a “very dangerous act” that the North “has to counter with action”.

Russia says ‘quite old’ U.S. Patriot missiles in Ukraine won’t stand in its way

07:37 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia said that Ukraine acquiring Patriot missiles from the United States, announced during President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington, would not help settle the conflict or prevent Moscow from achieving its goals.

Though the Patriot air defence system is widely regarded as advanced, President Vladimir Putin dismissed it as “quite old”, telling reporters Moscow would find a way to counter it. At the same time, he said Russia wants an end to the war in Ukraine and that this would inevitably involve a diplomatic solution.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” Putin said.

“We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course.”

These comments drew quick U.S. scepticism. White House spokesman John Kirby said Putin had “shown absolutely zero indication that he’s willing to negotiate” an end to the war.

“Everything he (Putin) is doing on the ground and in the air bespeaks a man who wants to continue to visit violence upon the Ukrainian people (and) escalate the war,” Kirby told reporters.

Russia has repeatedly said it is open to negotiations, but Ukraine and its allies suspect a ploy to buy time after a series of Russian battlefield defeats and retreats that have swung the momentum of the 10-month war in favour of Ukraine.

Russia wanting to prepare troops for long-term challenges due to war – MoD

07:02 , Arpan Rai

Officials in Russia are looking to prepare its forces for long-term challenges caused due to the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the British defence ministry said today.

The ministry pointed to Vladimir Putin’s meeting on Wednesday where he was presented with plans to expand the Russian military by around 30 per cent to 1.5 million personnel.

However, the MoD said it isn’t clear when this level would be achieved.

“Russian defence Minister Sergei Shigou explained that the expansion would involve at least two brigades in north-western Russia growing to divisional strength. He cited the supposed threat from Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato,” according to the ministry’s latest intelligence update.

It added: “This constitutes one of the first insights into how Russia aspires to adapt its forces to the long-term strategic challenges resulting from its invasion of Ukraine.”

“It remains unclear how Russia will find the recruits to complete such an expansion at a time when its forces are under unprecedented pressure in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

Pentagon looking to train Ukrainian troops on Patriot missile system – report

06:45 , Arpan Rai

Officials in the US defence department are contemplating training Ukrainian soldiers to operate the Patriot missile defence system as the war-hit country prepares to ward off growing Russian offence revived by Iranian drones this month.

The Pentagon is considering training Ukrainian soldiers to operate the surface-to-air missile system at a military base in the US, two defence department officials told news magazine Politico.

This was also confirmed by Joe Biden during his address at the Oval office alongside Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We’re going to continue to support Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, particularly air defence and that’s why we’re going to be providing Ukraine with Patriot missile battery and training your forces to be able to accurately use it,” he said in a joint address.

Zelensky’s US visit shows Ukraine is not ‘striving for peace’, claims Russia

06:22 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington proves he is not “striving for peace” in Ukraine, Russia said, pointing out that the high-level diplomatic gathering coincides with a $1.8bn military aid package to the country from the United States.

“They say they may send Patriot there, fine, we will crack the Patriot too,” Vladimir Putin said, adding that the deliveries will only extend the fighting. “Those who do it do so in vain, it only drags out the conflict.”

The Ukrainian president received thunderous applause from members of Congress during his short, hastily-organised trip – his first outside the country since Russian troops invaded on 24 February.

Read the full story here:

Zelensky’s US visit shows Ukraine is not ‘striving for peace’, claims Russia

It’s time to stop pretending what’s happening in Ukraine is anything other than a US proxy war

06:01 , Arpan Rai

Do you remember how quickly this whole thing was meant to be over – and not in a good way for Ukraine.

Back in February, as Russian troops massed on the border, there was an anticipation that if and when they launched an invasion, they could reach Kyiv in days.

This assessment was partly the result of Russia’s own propaganda. Moscow believed it could swiftly seize the capital, oust the government, and establish its own regime. Russia’s military was believed to be large and powerful; how could Ukraine hope to resist?

Ten months later, we know that was not the case. The West overestimated the abilities of Russia’s armed forces, wrongly assumed Putin had a workable plan, and underestimated the capability and resolve of Ukraine’s military.

Joe Biden and the US Congress spent more than $100bn for military aid for Kyiv, a windfall for the US arms makers who were called on to stock up Zelensky’s arsenal, but probably essential to his survival.

Andrew Buncombe writes in Voices:

It’s time to stop pretending what’s happening in Ukraine is not a US proxy war

Russia’s former deputy prime minister injured in shelling of Ukraine hotel

05:38 , Arpan Rai

A former Russian deputy prime minister was injured in a Ukrainian attack on Donetsk on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.

Dmitry Rogozin, who has been giving military advice to two occupied regions of Ukraine which Russia has claimed as its territory, was hurt but his life was not in danger, the state-owned Tass agency reported, quoting an aide of Vladimir Putin’s former second-in-command.

Also hurt was Vitaly Khotsenko, the head of government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, his press secretary was reported as saying.

Read the full story here:

Russia’s former deputy prime minister injured in shelling of Ukraine hotel

Towns shelled in Bakhmut and Avdiivka as fight grips eastern Ukraine

05:35 , Arpan Rai

Fighting in Donetsk is focused on Bakhmut and nearby Avdiivka, according to the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Russian forces have shelled about 10 towns near Bakhmut and the other towns of Kostyantyivka and Maryinka as well as Vodyane and Nevelske near Avdiivka, the top Ukrainian military office said.

Russia has, however, denied the intense battle on the eastern front.

The frontline in Ukraine is stable and Moscow’s troops have concentrated on “completing the liberation of the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” said Russian chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov.

Donetsk, a separatist territory falling within Ukraine’s borders, is one of the four areas Russia illegally annexed from Kyiv in early October.

Putin calls his ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine ‘war’ in a first

05:08 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin has made rare remarks by saying there should be an inevitable “diplomatic solution” to the conflict. But while talking about the full-scale invasion, he referred to it as a “war” publicly for the first time.

Mr Putin ordered tens of thousands of soldiers into Ukraine on 24 February this year and has since termed the offensive a “special military operation” while the West and other nations termed it an invasion.

But yesterday, Mr Putin said Moscow’s goal was “not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war” after a State Council meeting on youth policy.

In stark contrast, the Russian president’s critics have said Russians are banned from using the term “war” which has effectively been rendered illegal since March.

Putin refers to Ukraine invasion as ‘war’ for first time publicly

Putin says want to end Ukraine war ‘sooner the better’

03:59 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin has said that Russia wants to end the war in Ukraine using an inevitable “diplomatic solution”.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” the Russian president said.

“We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course,” he said just a day after the US president Joe Biden hosted Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in the White House.

The US president has promised the war-time leader a continued and unwavering US support.

Russia’s Wagner Group denies US claims it tried to buy weapons from North Korea for use in Ukraine

03:38 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s proxy Wagner Group fighting in Ukraine has denied a claim from the US that it has bought weapons from North Korea, a move that would be in breach of UN resolutions.

The Wagner Group rejected the claim as “gossip and speculation”.

“Everyone knows that North Korea has not been supplying any weapons to Russia for a long time. And no such efforts have even been made,” Reuters quoted Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin as saying in a statement.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said this week that US intelligence had concluded the Wagner Group had obtained the equipment to help its forces as they fight alongside Russian troops in Ukraine.

“We assess that the amount of material delivered to Wagner will not change battlefield dynamics in Ukraine,” Mr Kirby said.

Read the full story here:

Wagner Group denies US claims it tried to buy weapons from North Korea

Zelensky gives ‘patriot’ hint as he leaves for Ukraine with ‘good results’

03:24 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that he is returning to Ukraine with productive outcomes after meeting with all top leaders in Washington, suggesting he has procured the most advanced missile defence system for the war-hit country.

“We are returning from Washington – we are coming with good results. With something that will really help. When we say “patriots” in Ukraine and in the United States, we equally mean the protection of the state and people. This issue has been settled for Ukraine,” he said in an indirect reference to the powerful Patriot missile defence system.

There is financial support too, he said.

“Also there are other agreements – more on that later. We are bringing to Ukraine, to Donbas, to Bakhmut and to the south the decisions that our defence forces have been waiting for,” he said in his nightly address.

Russia sanctioned over Ukraine port attacks

03:00 , Liam James

The US has imposed sanctions on 10 Russian naval entities over Russian operations against Ukrainian ports, Washington said.

The action comes after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met Joe Biden at the White House and delivered a speech to Congress on Wednesday, during which he thanked the United States for its support of Ukraine in the conflict and pleaded for more weapons.

“In the wake of Russian naval operations against Ukrainian ports, including those that are providing much-needed food and grain to the world, the United States today is imposing sanctions on Russian naval entities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The entities include manufacturers and research organisations who aid the Russian navy.

Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since October, Moscow has been targeting Ukraine‘s energy infrastructure with large waves of missile and drone strikes. Ukraine said its Black Sea port of Odesa did not operate for a day earlier this month and the ports of Chornomorsk and Pivdenny had operated only partially after a Russian attack on the region’s energy system.

Putin claims Russia wants to end war

02:00 , Liam James

President Vladimir Putin said Russia wants an end to the war in Ukraine and that all armed conflicts end with diplomatic negotiations.

Russian officials have in recent months been positioning themselves as looking to end the war through negotiations and suggesting that Ukraine was dragging the conflict on, despite them being responsible for the invasion.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war. We are striving for this and will continue to strive,” Mr Putin told reporters. “We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course.”

Just yesterday Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia saw no sign of peace talks with Kyiv as western supplies of weapons “aggravate the conflict”.

Russian former deputy prime minister speaks after being hit in missile strike

01:00 , Liam James

Russian former deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday he required surgery after being hurt in a blast in Russian-occupied Ukraine, the latest in a series of attacks on pro-Moscow officials.

Earlier, authorities in a Russian-controlled part of Ukraine‘s southern Kherson region said a local official had been killed on Thursday in a car bomb attack

Mr Rogozin, also former head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, was hurt on Wednesday when Ukrainian shells hit the hotel where he was staying in Donetsk, a town controlled by Russian proxies since 2014.

“I have wounds – a piece of metal 8 millimetres by 6 millimetres that entered above the right shoulder blade,” Mr Rogozin said on Telegram. “There will have to be an operation. Several people close to me were also hit.”

Tass news agency quoted a Rogozin aide as saying he would be transported to Moscow as local doctors had decided an operation was too risky.

Russia’s Wagner Group denies US claims it tried to buy weapons from North Korea for use in Ukraine

00:00 , Liam James

Russia’s Wagner Group has denied a claim from the US that it has bought weapons from North Korea, a move that would be in breach of UN resolutions (Andrew Buncombe writes).

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said this week that US intelligence had concluded the Wagner Group had obtained the equipment to help its forces as they fight alongside Russian troops in Ukraine.

“We assess that the amount of material delivered to Wagner will not change battlefield dynamics in Ukraine,” Mr Kirby said.

Wagner Group denies US claims it tried to buy weapons from North Korea

Russia’s former deputy prime minister injured in shelling of Ukraine hotel

Thursday 22 December 2022 23:00 , Liam James

A former Russian deputy prime minister was injured in a Ukrainian attack on Donetsk on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.

Dmitry Rogozin, who has been giving military advice to two occupied regions of Ukraine which Russia has claimed as its territory, was hurt but his life was not in danger, the state-owned Tass agency reported, quoting an aide of Vladimir Putin’s former second-in-command.

Also hurt was Vitaly Khotsenko, the head of government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, his press secretary was reported as saying.

Russia’s former deputy prime minister injured in shelling of Ukraine hotel

US thanks Turkey for Ukraine grain deal

Thursday 22 December 2022 22:30 , Liam James

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call today with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, thanked Ankara’s efforts to ensure continuation of the UN-brokered Black Sea grain initiative, the State Department said.

The two diplomatic leaders also underscored the importance of Nato unity in supporting Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion, the State Department said, adding Blinken also expressed concern over the situation in Syria.

Turkey has played a broker role in the war so far, accomodating the discussion over the grain deal which ended a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports, and hosting peace talks earlier this year.

Update: Germany arrests suspected Russian spy

Thursday 22 December 2022 22:00 , Liam James

German federal prosecutors have given more details about an employee of Berlin’s foreign intelligence service (BND) arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia.

Police arrested the suspect, a German citizen identified as Carsten L, on Wednesday in the German capital, the federal prosecutors office said. It said police also raided his flat and workplace as well as those of another person.

“The accused is suspected of state treason,” federal prosecutors said in a statement. “In 2022, he shared information that he came by in the course of his work with a Russian intelligence agency. The content is considered a state secret.”

In a separate statement, the BND said the employee had been placed in pre-trial detention and searches at two of its offices had been carried out.

German authorities have warned of likely heightened Russian spying given the Kremlin’s stand-off with the West over its invasion of Ukraine. The German government expelled 40 Russian “spies” in April, according to the domestic intelligence agency.

BND headquarters in Berlin today (AP)BND headquarters in Berlin today (AP)

BND headquarters in Berlin today (AP)

Ukraine says Zelensky’s US trip was ‘success’

Thursday 22 December 2022 21:30 , Liam James

Ukrainians hailed President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wartime visit to the United States as a success, while Russian officials said on Thursday that it only fuelled the conflict.

The US has announced a new $1.8bn (£1.49bn) military aid package, including supplies of the Patriot air defence systems, the most powerful such weapons to be delivered to Ukraine yet.

“We are returning from Washington with good results, with things that will really help,” Mr Zelensky said on a video message shared on Thursday night on his Telegram account. He thanked President Joe Biden and the US Congress for supporting Ukraine‘s fight against Russia.

Neither Mr Zelensky nor any other Ukrainian authorities have confirmed if he is already back in Kyiv. He stopped in Poland on the return trip from the US.

Nancy Pelosi and vice president Kamala Harris hold a Ukrainian flag signed by members of its military, given to them by Volodymyr Zelensky (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Nancy Pelosi and vice president Kamala Harris hold a Ukrainian flag signed by members of its military, given to them by Volodymyr Zelensky (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nancy Pelosi and vice president Kamala Harris hold a Ukrainian flag signed by members of its military, given to them by Volodymyr Zelensky (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Thursday 22 December 2022 21:00 , Liam James

A local official in a part of Ukraine‘s southern Kherson region controlled by Russian forces was killed on Thursday in a car bomb attack, the Russian-installed local administration said.

It blamed the death of Andrei Shtepa on “Ukrainian terrorists”.

There was no immediate comment on the incident from Ukrainian authorities.

Ukrainian media reports about Mr Shtepa’s death referred to him as “an occupier” and as someone who had actively collaborated with Russian forces.

A resident passes a destroyed residential building following overnight shelling in Kherson yesterday (EPA)A resident passes a destroyed residential building following overnight shelling in Kherson yesterday (EPA)

A resident passes a destroyed residential building following overnight shelling in Kherson yesterday (EPA)

Zelensky stops off in Poland on way home from US

Thursday 22 December 2022 20:00 , Liam James

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda for nearly two hours of talks during his trip home from the United States.

“We summed up the year, which brought historic challenges due to a full-scale war,” Mr Zelensky said on Telegram after meeting Mr Duda in Rzeszow, southeastern Poland.

“We also discussed strategic plans for the future, bilateral relations and interactions at the international level in 2023.”

Mr Zelensky made his first foreign trip aboard since the Russian invasion in February. While the United States is strategically Kyiv’s most important ally, Poland is Ukraine’s neighbour and the two countries have deep historical ties.

Video footage showed Mr Duda and Mr Zelensky embracing warmly as the Ukrainian’s plane was greeted by Polish officials.

“They talked for a long time, almost two hours. First of all, about President Zelensky‘s visit to the United States and the importance of the visit for support for Ukraine, but also about bilateral relations between Poland and Ukraine,” Pawel Szrot, Mr Duda’s top aide said.

Zelensky and Duda at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport in Poland today (KPRP/Reuters)Zelensky and Duda at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport in Poland today (KPRP/Reuters)

Zelensky and Duda at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport in Poland today (KPRP/Reuters)

Zelensky’s US visit shows Ukraine is not ‘striving for peace’, claims Russia

Thursday 22 December 2022 19:30 , Liam James

Russia has claimed Volodymyr Zelensky’s wartime visit to Washington proves he is not “striving for peace” in Ukraine, as it coincides with a $1.8bn (£1.5bn) aid package from the United States (Alastair Jamieson writes).

The Ukrainian president received thunderous applause from members of Congress during his short, hastily-organised trip – his first outside the country since Russian troops invaded on 24 February.

He returned to Kyiv on Thursday after a brief stop in Poland where greeted president Andrzej Duda.

The new US deal includes supplies of the Patriot air defence systems, the most powerful such weapons yet delivered to Ukraine.

Zelensky’s US visit shows Ukraine is not ‘striving for peace’, claims Russia

Thursday 22 December 2022 19:00 , Liam James

Italy’s prime minister Giorgia Meloni called on Italians to switch off gas and electricity for an hour a day in solidarity with Ukraine.

Moscow has intensified missile and drone attacks on Ukraine since October, hitting critical infrastructure and leaving many areas of the country without power amid sub-zero temperatures.

“To understand what the Ukrainians are going through, I ask all Italians to switch off all energy sources for one hour a day,” Meloni said on Thursday, during a speech in Rome to a gathering of Italian ambassadors.

Ms Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party often stresses the importance of nationalism and patriotism, paid tribute to Ukrainians “who are defending their freedom and their love for their country.”

A yoga class during a blackout in Kyiv (AFP/Getty)A yoga class during a blackout in Kyiv (AFP/Getty)

A yoga class during a blackout in Kyiv (AFP/Getty)

Putin says Russia will find ‘antidote’ US Patriot missiles

Thursday 22 December 2022 18:30 , Liam James

President Vladimir Putin said the Patriot air defence the US is supplying to Ukraine was an old weapons system that Russia would be able to counter.

Mr Putin told reporters that the Patriot was “quite old” and did not work like Russia’s S-300 system.

“OK, we will take this into account and an antidote will always be found,” he said.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky told US Congress yesterday that US aid to his country was an investment in democracy. He said the Patriot system was an important step in creating an air shield.

Germany arrests suspected Russian spy

Thursday 22 December 2022 18:00 , Liam James

Germany’s federal prosecutors said they had arrested an employee of the foreign intelligence service (BND) on suspicion of spying for Russia.

BND head Bruno Kahl said that discretion was key, as any detail of the investigation that was made public could give the “opponent an advantage in its intent to harm Germany”.

“With Russia, we are dealing with an actor where we must reckon with its ruthlessness and willingness to be violent.”

Putin claims Russia wants end to war

Thursday 22 December 2022 17:30 , Liam James

President Vladimir Putin said Russia wants an end to the war in Ukraine and that all armed conflicts end with diplomatic negotiations.

Russian officials have in recent months been positioning themselves as looking to end the war through negotiations and suggesting that Ukraine was dragging the conflict on, despite them being responsible for the invasion.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war. We are striving for this and will continue to strive,” Mr Putin told reporters. “We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course.”

Just yesterday Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia saw no sign of peace talks with Kyiv as western supplies of weapons “aggravate the conflict”.

Russia sanctioned over Ukraine port attacks

Thursday 22 December 2022 16:45 , Liam James

The US has imposed sanctions on 10 Russian naval entities over Russian operations against Ukrainian ports, Washington said.

The action comes after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met Joe Biden at the White House and delivered a speech to Congress on Wednesday, during which he thanked the United States for its support of Ukraine in the conflict and pleaded for more weapons.

“In the wake of Russian naval operations against Ukrainian ports, including those that are providing much-needed food and grain to the world, the United States today is imposing sanctions on Russian naval entities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The entities include manufacturers and research organisations who aid the Russian navy.

Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since October, Moscow has been targeting Ukraine‘s energy infrastructure with large waves of missile and drone strikes. Ukraine said its Black Sea port of Odesa did not operate for a day earlier this month and the ports of Chornomorsk and Pivdenny had operated only partially after a Russian attack on the region’s energy system.

UN watchdog discusses Ukraine nuclear plant

Thursday 22 December 2022 16:00 , Matt Mathers

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog met officials from Russia’s military and state atomic energy company in Moscow on Thursday as he pursues a long-running drive to set up a protection zone around a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Russian company Rosatom described the talks on measures needed to safeguard Ukraine‘s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the surrounding area as “substantive, useful and frank”.

International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Grossi indicated that more negotiations are needed after “another round of necessary discussions”.

“It’s key that the zone focuses solely on preventing a nuclear accident,” he tweeted. “I am continuing my efforts towards this goal with a sense of utmost urgency.”

The meeting in Moscow came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a defiant wartime visit to the US capital, his first known trip outside his country in the nearly 10 months since Russia invaded.

Russian front line stable – Kremlin

Thursday 22 December 2022 15:40 , Matt Mathers

Russia’s chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov said on Thursday that the frontline in Ukraine was stable, and that Russia had concentrated its forces on “completing the liberation” of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

In an end of year message delivered to foreign military attaches and published by the defence ministry, Russia’s top military officer said: “The situation on the front line has stabilised, with the main efforts of the Russian troops concentrated on completing the liberation of the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.”

Russia has, since its retreat from Kyiv in April, framed its war aims as taking full control of the eastern Donbas region, of which Donetsk region makes up half, alongside neighbouring Luhansk region.

Russian forces control almost all of Luhansk region, but only around 60% of Donetsk region. Since August, they have been bogged down in a costly and extended fight for Bakhmut, a Donetsk region industrial town with a pre-war population of around 70,000.

Zelensky met Polish president on way back from US

Thursday 22 December 2022 15:10 , Matt Mathers

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday he met his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda during his trip home after the landmark visit to the United States.

“We summed up the year, which brought historic challenges due to a full-scale war,” Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app after meeting Duda.

“We also discussed strategic plans for the future, bilateral relations and interactions at the international level in 2023.”

ICYMI: US sending $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine

Thursday 22 December 2022 14:00 , Matt Mathers

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will provide $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, rolling out funding for a Patriot missile battery as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is arriving in Washington for a first trip out of his country since Russia invaded in February.

Full story:

US sending $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine

Lunchtime catch up

Thursday 22 December 2022 13:40 , Matt Mathers

DIPLOMACY

  • Zelensky told lawmakers in the soaring House of Representatives chamber on Wednesday he hoped they would continue to support Ukraine on a bipartisan basis – a major point as Republicans are due to take the majority in the House on 3 Jan.

  • Zelensky said that a “just peace” with Russia means no compromises on his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and support for Ukraine was an investment in democracy.”

  • His surprise visit to Washington where he met President Joe Biden, his first overseas trip since Russia invaded his country 300 days ago, started with a secretive train ride to Poland late on Tuesday.

  • The United States announced $1.85 billion in additional military assistance for Ukraine, including a transfer of the Patriot Air Defense System. Kremlin said the system’s supplies would not contribute to settling the conflict or keep Russia from achieving its goals.

  • The US Senate has advanced a government-funding bill that includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies.

CONFLICT

  • Russian forces attacked targets in the Zaporizhzhia region and pushed to advance near the battered eastern front-line towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, the focal point of fighting in the Donetsk region, Ukraine‘s military said on Wednesday evening.

  • Putin has promised to give his military whatever it needs to prosecute the war and backed a plan to boost the size of the armed forces by more than 30%.

  • Ukraine’s power grid operator, Ukrenergo, reported a “significant power shortage” and restrictions caused by missile and drone attacks.

Russia defence minister visits troops in Ukraine – Russian state media

Thursday 22 December 2022 13:20 , Matt Mathers

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had visited army units fighting in Ukraine, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported.

RIA cited the ministry as saying that Shoigu had visited Russian units deployed to the “area of the special military operation”, using Moscow’s term for the conflict in Ukraine.

The agency It did not specify where the visit took place.

Mitch McConnell calls winning Ukraine war ‘most important thing’ in world

Thursday 22 December 2022 13:00 , Matt Mathers

Mitch McConnell, unlike some of his more skeptical Republican colleagues, is throwing his full weight behind the Ukrainians defeating Russia.

“This is so important, the most important thing going on in the world is to beat the Russians in Ukraine,” he said on Wednesday. “Fortunately they have a leader that everyone can look up to and admire, and also it’s nice to have something here at the end of the year that we all actually agree on.”

ICYMI: Putin claims ‘Satan II’ hypersonic missile will be ready for deployment soon in speech to military chiefs

Thursday 22 December 2022 12:20 , Matt Mathers

President Vladimir Putin has said his armed force will be provided with anything they ask for, without financial limits, and that the hypersonic Sarmat missile – dubbed “Satan II” – would be ready for deployment in the near future. at an end-of-year meeting of Russia’s top defence chiefs.

The president also vowed Moscow would complete all the goals – without providing much detail – of its invasion of Ukraine, as he heralded Russian soldiers and defence chiefs as “heroes”.

Mr Putin said the Nato military alliance was using its full capabilities against Russia and urged the assembled military leaders to use their experience gained fighting in Syria and during the 10 months of the invasion in the new year. The president said that the combat readiness of the country’s nuclear forces must be assured, while the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, added that the process of getting new weapon supplies to troops has been sped up.

Chris Stevenson has the details.

Putin claims “Satan II” hypersonic missile will be ready for deployment soon

Will Zelensky’s visit be enough to win over sceptical Republicans?

Thursday 22 December 2022 11:55 , Matt Mathers

With just weeks until the ascendant Republican majority — complete with a renewed isolationist wing — seizes control of the House, Mr Zelensky’s visit is his last chance to mount an in-person charm offensive in hopes of keeping enough GOP House members convinced of the necessity of continuing — and increasing — US support in the coming years.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

Zelensky’s visit to Washington is his last chance to win over a sceptical GOP

EU invites Zelenksy to discuss more support for war effort

Thursday 22 December 2022 11:19 , Matt Mathers

The chairman of the European Union’s 27 leaders Charles Michel and the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will hold a summit with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on 3 February next year, an EU spokesman said on Thursday.

The location of the summit has not been determined yet.

“I can confirm the EU-Ukraine summit will take place on 3 February and there is an open invitation to President Zelensky to visit Brussels,” said Barend Leyts, spokesman for the chairman of EU leaders.

He said the invitation for Zelensky to visit Brussels did not mean that’s where the summit would be held.

Officials said the theme of the summit was likely to be how the EU can continue to support Ukraine against Russia. The leaders of the EU’s two key institutions – the Commission and the council of EU leaders – would also assess Ukraine’s path to membership in the bloc.

Zelensky has made regular appearances via video-link at EU summits since the start of the Russian invasion in February. He made his first in-person trip since the start of the war to Washington on Wednesday.

US missile deal won’t stop Russia achieving military goals – Kremlin

Thursday 22 December 2022 11:15 , Matt Mathers

Russia said on Thursday that US supplies of Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, announced during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to Washington, would not contribute to settling the conflict or prevent Russia from achieving its goals.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the Patriot shipment: “This is not conducive to a speedy settlement, quite the contrary. And this cannot prevent the Russian Federation from achieving its goals during the special military operation”, using Russia’s term for the war.

Peskov said that there had been no calls for peace or signs of willingness to “listen to Russia’s concerns” during Zelenskiy’s visit on Wednesday, proving that the United States was fighting a proxy war with Russia “to the last Ukrainian”.

The crucial US spending bill which will determine Ukraine’s military future

Thursday 22 December 2022 11:00 , Josh Marcus

Congress is considering a $1.7 trillion government funding, with supporters pointing to a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week as another reason to advance the measure in a show of support for the beleaguered nation.

The measure includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies, above even President Joe Biden’s emergency request, and ensures that funding flows to the war effort for months to come. The measure would also boost U.S. defense spending by about 10% to $858 billion, addressing concerns from some lawmakers that more investment in the nation’s military is needed to ensure America’s security.

Both houses will need to pass the measure before midnight Friday to avoid a partial-government shutdown.

Kevin Freking reports.

Schumer urges show of support for Ukraine with spending bill

EU to hold summit with Zelensky in new year

Thursday 22 December 2022 10:16 , Sam Rkaina

The European Union’s 27 heads of state and government and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky will hold a summit in February next year, but the location has not been determined.

“I can confirm the EU-Ukraine summit will take place on 3 February and there is an open invitation to President Zelenskiy to visit Brussels,” said Barend Leyts, spokesman for the chairman of EU leaders.

The spokesman said the invitation for President Zelensky to visit Brussels did not mean that’s where the summit would be held.

Officials said the theme of the summit was likely to be how the EU can continue to support Ukraine against Russia. Leaders would also assess Ukraine’s path to membership in the bloc.

President Zelensky has made regular appearances via video-link at EU summits since the start of the Russian invasion in February. He made his first in-person trip since the start of the war to Washington on Wednesday.

Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress in his first trip abroad since Russia’s invasion (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress in his first trip abroad since Russia’s invasion (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress in his first trip abroad since Russia’s invasion (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

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