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UKRAINE UPDATE: 15 DECEMBER 2022

Russia warns on Patriot missiles after striking Kyiv; Zelensky aide reports new prisoner swap

Russia warns on Patriot missiles after striking Kyiv; Zelensky aide reports new prisoner swap
An excavator removes the rubble on 14 December 2022 from apartment blocks destroyed by a Russian airstrike in March in Borobyanka town, Kyiv region, Ukraine . (Photo: EPA-EFE / Oleg Petrasyuk)

Russia launched a drone strike on Kyiv early on Wednesday, the first such attack in weeks, hitting about four residential buildings and an administrative complex, the city’s military administration said. Air defence forces shot down 13 drones. The assault came as the country continues to suffer from significant power shortages from previous attacks, the nation’s grid operator said.

President Vladimir Putin’s top spokesman said any Patriot air-defence missile batteries on Ukrainian soil would be a target for Russia’s military as the US weighs delivery of the system to Kyiv.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded “absolutely” when asked if such weapons would be targeted, declining to comment further. The delivery of Patriot systems to bolster Ukraine’s defences against Russian missile attacks on its cities and critical infrastructure is pending final approval by President Joe Biden.

Key developments

On the ground

Russian shells damaged the building of the Kherson regional state administration in the southern city centre on Wednesday morning, the deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Telegram. Ukrainian troops repelled attacks near 14 settlements in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions in the country’s east over the past day, the country’s General Staff said on Facebook.

Russia’s initial response to oil cap holds back from retaliation

Russia’s initial response to the crude-price cap holds back from any drastic retaliatory measures that could further disrupt global oil supplies.

A presidential decree due in the coming days won’t include a price floor for crude sales that was being considered last week, people with knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity as the document is still being finalised in the Kremlin. It won’t ban specific countries from buying Russian oil, but will prohibit sales through any contract that mentions a price cap, the people said.

 

 

 

Rain and blackouts strand a third of Ukraine’s maize crop in fields  

A third of Ukraine’s maize crop remains unharvested in fields as winter sets in, adding further strain on its vital farming sector.

Growers have been hit by a series of hurdles: Record autumn rainfall muddied fields. The war has depressed how much farmers can fetch for their goods. And strikes on the country’s infrastructure limited electricity needed to dry soggy grain.

Zelensky aide reports new prisoner swap, US citizen released  

Another 64 Ukrainian prisoners of war returned home after a swap with Russia, Andriy Yermak, a top presidential aide, said on Telegram. A US citizen who “helped our people” was also released, Yermak wrote. He didn’t comment on the number of Russian POWs released.

Ukraine still doesn’t have enough electricity, says Ukrenergo  

While Wednesday’s Russian drone attack failed to inflict any damage on Ukraine’s energy system, there remains a significant power shortage caused by earlier missile strikes, according to the national grid operator.

The most problematic situation is in the country’s east, where constant Russian shelling has damaged the grid and slowed repairs, Ukrenergo said on Telegram.

Sweden sets Europe’s security as top task for its EU presidency

Sweden laid out its priorities for its six-month presidency of the European Union with continued economic and military support for Ukraine, as well as support for the country’s path toward the bloc, at the top of its list.

The Nordic nation said it would also work to build consensus toward “a robust European security and defence policy”.

Oil may rally as Russian exports sink, says International Energy Agency

Crude prices may rally next year as Russia’s output is poised to plunge by 14% by the end of the first quarter and demand beats earlier expectations, according to the International Energy Agency.

The full impact of embargoes on Russian oil and product supplies “remains to be seen,” the Paris-based agency said in a report.

Latvia calls for tribunal to deal with Russia’s war

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine needs to be judged by a special tribunal, even in absentia, to safeguard the global system and seize assets needed for the reconstruction of Ukraine, Latvian President Egils Levits said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been pushing for an international tribunal to be established to bring Russian political and military leaders to justice. Such a body would resolve legal loopholes as other courts don’t have jurisdiction.

Kyiv officials say 13 drones shot down

Air-defence forces shot down 13 drones in two waves of attacks, Kyiv’s military administration said. One administrative and four residential buildings suffered insignificant damage, it said on Telegram.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the president’s office, had earlier said on Telegram that two administrative buildings had been affected in the first strike on the capital in weeks.

UK ‘to train Ukrainian judges for war crimes trials’

UK Attorney General Victoria Prentis told Sky News that 90 Ukrainian judges would receive intensive training to help them run courts to try war crimes. The first group attended sessions at a secret location last week, Sky reported.

 

 

 

Austin, Sullivan in talks with Ukrainian military chiefs

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to their Ukrainian counterparts, according to a readout from the Pentagon late on Tuesday. They “discussed Ukraine’s priorities for security assistance”, according to the US statement, which offered few other details.

US finalising arms upgrade to Ukraine with Patriot missiles 

The US was poised to send Patriot air and missile defence batteries to Ukraine pending final approval from Biden, two US officials said on Tuesday, fulfilling a key demand from Ukrainian leaders.

Ukraine’s Zelensky has urgently sought the system, produced by Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin, saying Patriots were needed to counter the relentless barrage of Russian missiles that have targeted Ukraine’s military as well as civilian and energy infrastructure. DM

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