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Russia-Ukraine updates: Russian officials dismiss Zelenskyy trip to US

Andrei Pungovschi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — More than nine months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into neighboring Ukraine, the two countries are engaged in a struggle for control of areas throughout eastern and southern Ukraine.

Putin’s forces in November pulled out of key positions, retreating from Kherson as Ukrainian troops led a counteroffensive targeting the city. Russian drones have continued bombarding civilian targets throughout Ukraine, knocking out critical power infrastructure as winter sets in.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Dec 23, 4:23 PM EST
Pentagon weighs training Ukrainians on Patriot missile use inside US

The Pentagon is weighing whether to carry out Patriot missile training for Ukrainian troops inside the United States, according to two U.S. officials.

If so, it would mark the first time Ukrainian forces trained inside the U.S. since the start of Russia’s invasion.

The officials say the Army base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, is being considered as the site for stateside training.

Last week, a senior defense official told reporters that several options were being considered for training that could last several months. However, no decision has been made and it is still possible that the training may take place in Germany, as previously reported.

Weapons systems training for Ukrainian troops has taken place only in Ukraine.

– ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Dec 22, 2:35 PM EST
New US sanctions target Russian naval operations

The United States announced Thursday it is imposing sanctions against 10 Russian entities that support the Kremlin’s naval operations.

“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,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The State Department said it expects the sanctions will place “severe costs on Russia’s defense establishment.”

The sanctions are being imposed against Russian companies linked to both the defense and marine sectors of Russia’s economy, the State Department said.

Among the entities being sanctioned are the Rigel Battery Company, which has provided the Russian Navy with batteries for 15 years; Elektropribor, which produces navigation systems for Russian combat ships; and Avorora, which supplies automated control systems for Russian military surface ships and submarines.

“The United States remains determined to use all appropriate measures to deter Russia’s attacks on Ukraine — whether those attacks be from the air, land, or sea,” Blinken said. “These accountability measures underscore a simple message: the Kremlin must end its brutal campaign against Ukraine.”

The State Department and the U.S. Treasury Department also imposed sanctions against a company owned by Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

A close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of the richest people in Russia, Potanin owns Interros, a company that carries out business “across nearly all sectors of Russia’s economy,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The State Department said it has identified Potanin’s super yacht “Nirvana” — which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars — as blocked property.

Additional sanctions were levied against five members of the state-owned Russian Railways’ board of directors and nearly 30 heads of regions and governors the State Department said “oversee and enforce the conscription of citizens in response to Russia’s recent mobilization order.”

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Dec 22, 1:01 PM EST
Talks resume on safe zone for Ukrainian nuclear power plant

The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief was in Russia Thursday, resuming negotiations for a safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

“It’s key that the zone focuses solely on preventing a nuclear accident,” Mariano Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a Twitter post Thursday.

During the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, has been shelled during the fighting, prompting concerns of a potential nuclear catastrophe in the region.

Grossi met in Moscow with Aleksei Likhachev, director general of the Russian Atomic Energy Corporation. A Russian delegation, including representatives of the Russia’s armed forces and the ministry of foreign affairs, also participated in the talks.

“Consultations will be continued with the understanding of the need to reach a mutually acceptable text as soon as possible,” the Russian delegation said in a statement.

During Thursday’s negotiations, the parties discussed the Zaporizhzhia plant “in the context of the task of improving the reliability of electricity and heat supply to the NPP site” and the nearby city of Enerhodar, according to the statement.

Dec 22, 11:44 AM EST
NSC spokesman tight-lipped on more advance weapons for Ukraine

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stayed tight-lipped in an ABC “Good Morning America” interview Thursday on whether the United States will offer Ukraine additional advanced military supplies beyond Patriot missiles and precision-guided munitions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked for more advanced weapons, such as American-made planes and long-range missiles, which the Biden administration has been hesitant to supply.

In his speech to Congress Wednesday night, Zelenskyy noted that Russia has “much more missiles and planes than we ever had.”

“We’re going to keep supporting Ukraine as the president said for as long as it takes and doing it in lockstep with the Ukrainians,” Kirby told “GMA” co-anchor Whit Johnson.

Kirby added, “The focus is very much on air defense. You saw the president announce the Patriot battery which will soon go to Ukraine. That will be a significant contribution to their air defense. I won’t get ahead of decisions that are still before us. We’ll keep working with Ukrainians as the needs evolve on the battlefield.”

During a joint press conference Wednesday, President Joe Biden and Zelenskyy were asked by a Ukrainian journalist why the United States couldn’t just give Ukraine all military capabilities it needs to defeat Russia.

While Zelenskyy said he agreed that he would like to see Ukraine get more advanced weapons, Biden said such a move could trigger World War III.

“The idea that we would give Ukraine material that is fundamentally different than is already going there, would have a prospect of breaking up NATO and breaking up the European Union and the rest of the world,” Biden said. “We’re going to give Ukraine what it needs to be able to defend itself, to be able to succeed and succeed on the battlefield.”

Dec 22, 7:01 AM EST
Russian officials dismiss Zelenskyy trip to Washington

Russian officials said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit on Wednesday to Washington, his first trip out of his country since the invasion began 10 months ago, amounted to political theater.

Other officials in Moscow warned that the U.S. was “continuing down the path” toward getting further involved in the conflict.

“We can say with regret that so far neither President Biden nor President Zelensky have said even a few words that could be perceived as potential readiness to listen to Russia’s concerns,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “America is continuing down the path toward a de facto and indirect war with Russia until the last Ukrainian.”

He added, “The U.S. and other countries are going to expand the range of arms supplies to Ukraine; this does not contribute to a fast resolution. Arms supplies to Ukraine prolong the suffering of the Ukrainian people.”

Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said the visit showed that neither Zelenskyy nor the U.S. were “ready for peace.”

“The Hollywood-style trip to Washington by the head of the Kyiv regime has confirmed that the administration’s conciliatory statements about the lack of intention to start a confrontation with Russia are just empty words,” Antonov said.

Dec 21, 4:58 AM EST
US ‘must help Ukraine liberate its territories,’ Institute for the Study of War says

As President Volodymyr Zelenskyy travels to Washington, calls for the United States to take a larger role in the conflict are continuing.

The Institute for the Study of War called on Tuesday on the West, led by the United States, to stop expending resources trying to change a reality it does not control and instead focus on what it can shape plenty: Denying Russia’s ability to wage a war against Ukraine.

Instead of focusing on Russia’s inflexible and maximalist intent in Ukraine, “the United States must help Ukraine liberate its territories and people through a large-scale counteroffensive or risk facing the same challenge with the same escalation risks under worse conditions,” the ISW said, warning of the dangers of a Russian military foothold in Ukraine.

Dec 20, 6:17 PM EST
Plans underway for Zelenskyy to visit Capitol Wednesday and address Congress: Sources

Plans are underway for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to visit the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, sources told ABC News.

The speech comes as the U.S. is set to announce a military aid package for Ukraine that includes Patriot air defense systems, U.S. officials told ABC News .

Zelenskyy previously addressed Congress via video on March 16, roughly three weeks into the war with Russia.

Dec 20, 5:57 PM EST
US to announce Patriot defense systems deal in aid package Wednesday: Sources

U.S. officials told ABC News that the next military aid package for Ukraine will be announced Wednesday and that it will include Patriot air defense systems and JDAM precision bomb kits.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Dec 20, 1:22 PM EST
100,000 Russian soldiers killed, defected or missing in war: UK defense chief

More than 100,000 Russian soldiers battling in Ukraine have either been killed, reported missing or defected since the war began in February, according to estimates released Tuesday by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Marking the 300th day of the war, Wallace provided the update on Russia’s war losses to the House of Commons in London. He also estimated that 4,500 Russian armored vehicles have been destroyed as well as 140 Russian helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

The estimated losses by Russian forces are similar to what Ukrainian officials have released.

Wallace said the number of missions to Ukraine by the Russian Air Force have drastically declined from 300 a day in March to currently tens of missions per day.

He described Russia’s once powerful Black Sea fleet as “little more than a coastal defense flotilla.”

In March, Russia occupied about 27% of Ukrainian territory, Wallace said. Since then, Ukraine liberated around 54% of the territory that has been taken since February.

He said Russia now controls roughly 18% of internationally recognized areas of Ukraine.

The Kremlin has yet to respond to Wallace’s battlefield estimates.

Russia has failed to achieve any strategic objectives, Wallace said, adding that not one Russian operational commander who was in place at the start of the Russian invasion Feb. 24 remains.

Wallace also spoke about a deal between the Kremlin and Iran to supply Russia with more than 300 kamikaze drones.

“Iran has become one of Russia’s top military backers,” Wallace said.

He said that in exchange, Russia intends to provide Iran with advanced military components, undermining international security, particularly in the Middle East.

“We must expose that deal,” Wallace said.

Dec 20, 7:03 AM EST
Zelenskyy visits frontline in Donetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday made an unannounced trip to Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, posing for pictures with soldiers and handing out awards, as he inspected the frontlines.

Zelenskyy said Monday that Bakhmut remains the “hottest point” out of the entire 1,300-kilometer frontline as Russian forces relentlessly try to break Ukraine’s defenses in the city.

Dec 19, 6:11 PM EST
Zelenskyy calls for more international aid following drone strike

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy provided an update on Monday’s strike by Russian forces, citing that the blasts came from a “new batch” of drones.

Zelenskyy, however, said in a statement that most of the Iranian Shaheds drones “fell short of their intended targets,”

“[Thirty] Shaheds were shot down – not bad,” he said in a statement.

Zelenskyy appealed to the leaders of the Northern European countries with a request to provide more weapons, shells, and new defense capabilities.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Dec 19, 2:10 PM EST
Putin agrees to train Belarus’ pilots to fly nuclear-capable bombers

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko have concluded their talks in Belarus’ capital Minsk, hailing their countries’ close relationship, but giving few details of any agreements they reached.

The two leaders gave a joint press conference following their talks in front of their top officials, including Putin’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, and foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

Putin and Lukashenko gave little indication they had agreed for Belarus to play a greater role in Russia’s war in Ukraine. But Putin said the two sides had agreed to continue joint military exercises and were developing a shared military doctrine.

Lukashenko and Putin both said they agreed Russia would train Belarusian pilots to fly nuclear-capable bombers. The Kremlin and Lukashenko have previously hinted at the possibility Russia would deploy nuclear weapons to Belarus — an apparent threat to Europe.

“I consider it possible to continue the implementation of the proposal of the President of Belarus to train the crews of combat aircraft of the Belarusian army, which have already been converted for the possible use of air-launched ammunition with a special warhead,” Putin said.

Putin also denied that Russia had any intention of “swallowing” anyone up, referring to speculation that Russia has pressured Lukashenko to sacrifice Belarus’ political and economic independence to Moscow in return for its help in propping up his dictatorship.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Dec 19, 10:22 AM EST
Putin in Belarus to talk ‘military questions’ with Lukashenko: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Belarus Monday for a meeting with his ally Alexander Lukashenko amid fears Russia is seeking to force Belarus’ army into directly joining the war in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed as “absolutely ridiculous conjecture” speculation Putin will attempt to force Lukashenko into sending troops to fight in Ukraine.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet in the Belarus’ capital, Minsk. Talks will center on “military questions,” Peskov said without providing specifics.

This is the first time Putin has visited Belarus since 2019, and the trip comes amid warnings from Ukrainian commanders that Putin is preparing to launch a fresh offensive against Ukraine in early 2023.

Russia launched an unsuccessful attack on Kyiv in February from Belarus and it has long been believed the Kremlin is pressuring Lukashenko to send Belarusian troops to bolster Russia’s floundering war.

Dec 19, 5:44 AM EST
Viktor Bout visits occupied Ukrainian city following release

A little over a week since he was freed in the prisoner swap for Brittney Griner, the Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout has visited the city of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, one of the regional capitals of the Donbas that is occupied by Russia.

Bout took part in a ceremony opening the local branch of the far right pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), of which he has become a member since his release.

Video of the event showed Bout with a senior MP from the party at the ceremony in a hall. Bout compared Lugansk’s annexation and return to Russia with his own return.

“I closely followed what was happening in Donbas all these 8 years,” Bout said. “And you know, your example for me did a lot for me, it helped me, because you are all heroes … And so big thanks to all of you. And you were also for me an inspiration which allowed me to also return to the motherland, like all of Donbas, to return to Russia. Thank you.”

Bout has expressed his “full” support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and in his first interview after his release said he would have gone to fight if he could.

Lugansk has been under Russian control since 2014, when Moscow used proxy fighters to help set up two breakaway statelets in Donbas. The Lugansk region was one of the four Ukrainian regions Putin annexed in September.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Dec 19, 3:29 AM EST
Russian drones strike Ukrainian capital

Ukraine’s Air Force said it shot down 30 of the 35 Russian drones fired at Ukrainian targets overnight.

Ukrainian authorities said Russia’s earlier drone attack on Kyiv damaged critical infrastructure and injured two people.

At least two explosions were heard Monday morning in the capital.

-ABC News’ Guy Davies

Dec 18, 2:34 PM EST
Zelenskyy’s World Cup address ‘banned’ by FIFA: Ukrainian ambassador

A pre-recorded address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that was set to be played at the World Cup final Sunday was purportedly cut by the soccer tournament’s governing body, FIFA, according to Ukrainian officials.

The office of the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States told ABC News on Sunday that Zelenskyy’s speech did not air to the audience at the championship match between Argentina and France because “at the very last moment it was banned by FIFA.”

FIFA has not confirmed whether it forbid the airing of Zelenskyy’s speech at the match in Qatar that was won by Argentina.

In the one-minute and 43-second speech sent to ABC News by the ambassador’s office, Zelenskyy praised the World Cup tournament as a “common victory, the celebration of the human spirit.”

“The World Cup proved time and again that different countries and nationalities can decide who is the strongest in fairplay…,” Zelensky said.

He added, “This is the dream of so many people when players compete, making everybody enjoy peace,” he said. “Every father would like to take his son to the football match all over the world. Every mother would like her son to be back from the war.”

Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine has proposed a “peace formula” for ending the war with Russia that he said is “absolutely fair.”

“We offered it because there are no champions in war, there can be no draw,” he said.

He ended the speech by inviting all countries to participate in a global peace summit that he has proposed for this winter.

Dec 16, 3:58 PM EST
3 dead in missile strike on residential building

Three people have been killed and 13 are injured from a Russian missile strike on a residential building in Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, according to the mayor.

Among those killed is a mom whose child is missing.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Dec 16, 10:33 AM EST
First round of energy aid from US arrives in Ukraine

Following an overnight barrage of strikes from Russia into Ukraine, the White House announced that the first round of $53 million worth of energy-related equipment and technical support has arrived in Ukraine.

“It includes the kinds of equipment that they need to make emergency repairs such as relays and busbars and surge arrestors, disconnectors, circuit breakers,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday.

Kirby said more aid will be delivered “in coming weeks” to fulfill the full pledge.

“The United States remains committed to helping Ukraine put the put the lights back on and put the heat back on, and try to alleviate some of the suffering of the Ukrainian people that they’re already experiencing in the winter months,” he said.

Dec 16, 3:38 AM EST
Russia launches new wave of missile strikes on Ukraine

Russia has launched another wave of missile strikes on energy infrastructure sites across Ukraine, resulting in severe power outages in large parts of the country.

There have been least three explosions in Kyiv by early Friday morning while other cities, including Kryvi Rih, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Zaporizhe, have also been targeted this morning, ABC News has learned.

According to officials in Kryvi Rih, a residential building has been hit. Details on possible casualties are still emerging.

Officials in Kharkiv say there have been at least three explosions there and reports suggest Ukraine’s second city is completely without power.

There are shortages of running water in Kyiv right now and a large part of the city is without power.

Initial information suggests Russia has fired dozens of missiles and Ukraine’s air defenses have been operating. It’s likely many missiles have been shot down but some have clearly found their targets.

It’s currently unclear if Russia used drones in the waves of strikes this morning.

Dec 15, 1:40 PM EST
Russia responds to possible US Patriot missile supply to Ukraine

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson offered an angry response to reports that the United States is preparing to send Patriot air defense missiles to Ukraine.

During a news conference Thursday, Maria Zakharova said that if media leaks are true, the move by the White House “would be another provocative step.”

“Given the increasing amounts of direct U.S. military assistance, including the presence of U.S. servicemen on the ground, the delivery of equipment of such complexity, the operation of which requires months of training, will signify a broader involvement of U.S. career servicemen in the hostilities with all the ensuing consequences,” Zakharova said.

Two U.S. officials have confirmed to ABC News that the United States has prepared plans to send Patriot air defense missile systems to Ukraine that could be approved by President Joe Biden by the end of this week.

If approved by Biden, the transfer of the advanced air defense systems would meet a long-standing request from Ukraine.

“We strongly recommend that the decision-makers in Washington finally listen […] and draw the right conclusions from our repeated warnings that any weapon systems delivered to Ukraine, including Patriot, and the respective personnel, have been and remain legitimate priority targets of the Russian Armed Forces,” Zakharova said.

Dec 15, 12:48 PM EST
Putin purportedly planning major new year offensive: Report

Ukraine’s defense minister is claiming in a news interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a major new offensive to launch in the new year.

Oleksii Reznikov told the British newspaper The Guardian that emerging evidence indicates the Kremlin is preparing a broad new offensive possibly in February.

Reznikov said the new offensive is part of a second wave of a mobilization of 300,000 reservists Putin announced in September.

“The second part of the mobilization, 150,000 approximately, started their training courses in different camps,” Reznikov said. “The [draftees] do a minimum of three months to prepare. It means they are trying to start the next wave of the offensive probably in February, like last year. That’s their plan.”

News of the possible offensive comes after a series of setbacks the Russians have had on the battlefield, including a botched attempt in March to the take Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

Dec 14, 10:20 AM EST
US Air Force vet released from Russian captivity

A U.S. Air Force veteran from Minnesota was freed Wednesday from Russian-controlled territory and told ABC News he survived being beaten and electrocuted by his captors.

Suedi Murekezi, 35, was freed in a war gray zone just outside Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. A prearranged two-hour cease-fire was called to allow an exchange of prisoners of war.

Murekezi and other prisoners of war were brought out of Russian-controlled territory as part of the exchange. Following his release, Murekezi was seen clutching a Ukrainian flag given to him by a Ukrainian military intelligence officer.

Murekezi was arrested in June when he was falsely accused by the Russians of being a member of the CIA, he said. He said he was later released; however, he was stuck in Donetsk, a city in Russian-controlled territory, because he was without his U.S. passport.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Murekezi said he felt “trapped” in Donetsk and lived under intense uncertainty about his future.

He said he was relieved and happy to be back in Ukrainian-controlled territory, a free man in the country where he has lived for years, working in cryptocurrency.

What he is looking forward to most when he gets back to Minnesota? “A peanut butter sandwich,” Murekezi said.

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge, Dada Jovanovic, Natalia Kushniir and Kuba Kaminski

Dec 14, 10:28 AM EST
Drone attacks launched on Kyiv

Two waves of drone attacks were launched before dawn on Wednesday in Kyiv. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that every drone was shot down and urged residents of Ukraine’s capital city not to ignore air raid warning sirens.

“This morning has started with 13 Shahed drones attacking. All 13 were downed by our air defense. Good job. Thank the air defense and please don’t ignore the air raid sirens,” Zelenskyy said in a statement following the drone attacks.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitchko also confirmed the attack and urged residents to take shelter underground.

The latest attack comes as the U.S. is preparing to approve sending Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine and that these plans could be approved by President Joe Biden as early as this week.

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also has to sign off on the transfer before it goes to the White House but, if approved by Biden, the transfer of the advanced air defense systems would meet a long-standing request from Ukraine.

A senior Ukrainian Defense official told ABC News on Tuesday that the Patriots “will be a game changer.”

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge

Dec 13, 3:36 PM EST
US preparing to send Patriot air defense missiles to Ukraine

Two U.S. officials confirm that the U.S. has prepared plans to send Patriot air defense missile systems to Ukraine that could be approved by President Joe Biden as early as this week.

If approved by Biden, the transfer of the advanced air defense systems would meet a long-standing request from Ukraine.

The U.S. has stressed the importance of Ukraine getting additional air defense systems in the coming months but has worked with other countries on alternative systems other than the Patriot.

The Patriot missile systems to be given to Ukraine will come from
U.S. inventories under the presidential drawdown authority, according to officials.

Another one of those announcements is expected to be announced on Thursday, though it is unclear if the Patriots will be included as part of that package.

If Biden approves the Patriot systems, then the training of Ukrainian troops will begin in Germany a few weeks later, officials said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin must sign off on the transfer before it goes to the White House.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Dec 13, 3:17 PM EST
Ukraine to get 30 upgraded Soviet-era tanks from Czech Republic next year

Soviet-era tanks are getting new optics, armor, and more at a Czech facility in Šternberk, thanks partly to the efforts of Ukrainian refugees working there.

Around 150 people have been hired by Excalibur Army in an effort to modernize old military equipment from around the world, which will then be shipped to Ukraine after months of work on upgrades.

According to the company’s commercial director, Richard Kuběna, it is concentrating on a large order to modernize up to 120 T-72 tanks, which the U.S. and the Netherlands governments ordered and paid 2.2 billion crowns for.

The tanks were ordered initially from Šternberk by an African country. However, after negotiating with the U.S., E.U., and Czech Ministry of Defense, they decided to give the tanks to Ukraine, Kuběna said.

“Next week, the first five units of tanks for Ukraine will be received, we would like to deliver 18 units by the end of the year,” noted Kuběna.

Kuběna said he would like to

Dec 13, 6:47 AM EST
Russian withdrawal ‘out of the question’

A Kremlin official said on Tuesday that Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine was “out of the question.”

A reporter asked Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov for comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s proposal that Russia start to pull out forces from Ukraine before Christmas. Peskov was also asked whether Moscow was ready to do so before the end of this year.

“This is out of the question,” Peskov said.

Dec 11, 7:56 PM EST
Biden speaks with Zelenskyy about recent security assistance packages: White House

President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday to discuss continued support for Ukraine’s defense amid Russian attacks on critical infrastructure, according to a White House readout of their call.

“President Biden highlighted how the U.S. is prioritizing efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense through our security assistance, including the December 9 announcement of $275 million in additional ammunition and equipment that included systems to counter the Russian use of unmanned aerial vehicles,” the White House said.

“President Biden also highlighted the November 29 announcement of $53 million to support energy infrastructure to strengthen the stability of Ukraine’s energy grid in the wake of Russia’s targeted attacks,” it added.

-ABC News’ Justin Ryan Gomez

Dec 09, 12:05 PM EST
Treasury sanctions 4 Russians for carrying out human rights abuses

The U.S. Department of Treasury issued sanctions against four Russians accused of forcibly seizing personal data and conducting interrogations and searches against Ukrainian citizens to determine if they have any connections to the Ukrainian government or military.

There are also allegations that deportations, disappearances and torture have also been carried out.

Two of those sanctioned “oversaw the filtration of city government officials and other civilians from Mariupol, Ukraine, including through the filtration center in Manhush, Ukraine. Witnesses have reported insufficient food supplies, overcrowded cells, and beatings at the Manhush filtration center. One witness overheard Russia’s soldiers discussing shooting people who underwent filtration at Manhush,” according to a press release from the Treasury.

The Treasury is also sanctioning members of Russia’s Central Election Commission for overseeing the sham referenda held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine in September, during which Ukrainians were forced to vote for annexation.

Dec 07, 6:01 PM EST
10 civilians killed in Russian air strike, Zelenskyy says

A Russian airstrike that struck Kurakhov, a city in Donetsk Oblast in southeastern Ukraine, has killed 10 people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Wednesday.

Civilian areas such as a market, gas station, bus station and a residential building were among the targets that were struck, Zelenskyy said.

Dec 07, 1:19 PM EST
Putin says Russia will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in war with Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday the threat of nuclear war is increasing but Russia will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

Putin, speaking at Russia’s Human Rights Council, said nuclear weapons should act as a deterrent in conflicts, not provoke them.

“We consider weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, it is all built around the so-called retaliatory strike. When we are struck, we strike back,” Putin said.

“I have already said: we don’t have our own nuclear weapons, including tactical ones, on the territory of other countries, but the Americans do. Both in Turkey and in a number of other European states … we haven’t done anything yet,” Putin said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Dec 07, 8:56 AM EST
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Time’s 2022 ‘Person of the Year’

Time named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Spirit of Ukraine as the 2022 “Person of the Year.”

More than a dozen Ukrainians who embodied the spirit of Ukraine were also named: Dr. Iryna Kondratova, who helped mothers give birth during shelling in the hospital basement; Oleg Kutkov, an engineer who laid the groundwork for the essential connectivity; Olga Rudenko, editor-in-chief of the Kyiv Independent; and Levgen Klopotenko, a Kyiv chef who converted his restaurant into a relief canteen.

“This year’s choice was the most clear-cut in memory. Whether the battle for Ukraine fills one with hope or with fear, the world marched to Volodymyr Zelensky’s beat in 2022,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.

Dec 06, 4:22 PM EST
Ukrainian special forces were deep in Russia to guide drone, senior Ukrainian official says

Ukrainian special forces were deep inside Russian territory and helped guide drones to at least one of the bases hit in Monday’s attacks, a senior official from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inner-circle confirmed to ABC News.

-ABC News’ Marcus Moore

Dec 06, 2:28 PM EST
White House does not have assessment on drone attacks inside Russia

The U.S. does not have an assessment on recent drone attacks deep inside Russia, which a person close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told ABC News Ukraine is responsible for, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.

“I don’t want to speculate about whether Ukraine is responsible for these attacks,” Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre also told reporters Russia is to blame for this conflict.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Dec 06, 11:30 AM EST
Russia now out of Iranian-made drones, Western officials say

According to Western officials, Russia has run out of Iranian-made drones. Russia had been using the lethal drones, along with missiles, in a wave of aerial bombardments on Ukrainian infrastructure over a period of several weeks.

But, the drones have been absent in recent Russian attacks. A western official said the Russians “anticipate a resupply.”

In light of Ukraine’s apparent drone attacks on military airbases deep inside Russia, Western officials said Russia will now be undergoing “a significant amount of soul-searching” over their ability to defend significant military assets deep inside Russia’s borders.

The official, who characterized the attacks as “an egregious failure of security” said the Russian military’s potential had been consistently overestimated by the west.

“I no longer think the Russians are ten-feet tall,” the official said.

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge

Dec 06, 10:17 AM EST
Ukrainian drone crashes into military airfield in Russia

A Ukrainian drone crashed into a military airfield in Russia, setting an oil tanker on fire, according to the governor of Russia’s Kursk region.

There were no casualties at the Kursk base. This comes a day after drone attacks on two Russian airbases where jets used to bomb Ukraine are housed. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti

Dec 05, 10:36 AM EST
Missiles rain on Ukraine after purported drone strikes in Russia

A new barrage of missiles strikes was launched against Ukraine on Monday, hitting targets across the country, including the capital city of Kyiv, officials said.

Casualties and damage from the attacks were being assessed, Ukrainian officials said.

The majority of the missiles were shot down by air defense forces, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said the Russians launched missiles from the Volgodonsk, Caspian and Black seas.

The strikes damaged two infrastructure objects in the Odesa region, leaving the area without electricity and running water, officials said. One person was hospitalized, according to Ukrainian officials.

Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov said a missile hit a substation that supplies the city of Belvaevska’s pumping station with electricity.

According to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, missile strikes in the Zaporizhzhia region killed two people and injured three others, including a toddler, in the village of Novosofiyivka.

Explosion were also heard in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi, Kherson and Cherkasy, officials said.

The missile strikes followed reports from Russian media outlets that drones were used to bomb two military air bases in Russia, hundreds of miles from the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility for the drone attacks, but Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukraine’s president, posted a cryptic tweet, saying “if you launch something very often into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later the unknown flying objects will return to the place of departure.”

Dec 02, 2:18 PM EST
No peace talks till Russian soldiers leave, Ukraine says

Ukraine said it would not consider peace talks before the last Russian soldier leaves Ukrainian territory. This comes after President Joe Biden indicating he would be willing to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he has legitimate interest in peace negotiations.

Ukraine also said that there must not be any peace negotiations without Ukraine, reiterating that Biden has been clear that there won’t be any talks happening without the participation of U.S. allies and Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Dec 02, 2:17 PM EST
IAEA expresses optimism over creation of protection zone around Zaporizhzhia

The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed optimism over possibly creating a safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant before the end of the year.

“I know that President Putin is following the process, and I do not rule out another meeting with him soon, as well as with Ukrainian President Zelensky,” IAEA Director General Rafael Rossi said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“There is a concrete proposal on securing Zaporizhzhia and important progress has been made. …The two sides now agree on some basic principles. The first is that of protection: it means accepting that you don’t shoot ‘on’ the plant and ‘from’ the plant. The second is the recognition that the IAEA is the only possible way forward: that was the heart of my meeting with President Putin in St. Petersburg on October 11,” Rossi added.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Dec 02, 12:27 PM EST
Bloody packages with animal eyes sent to Ukrainian embassies

Packages believed to be blood-soaked and containing the eyes of animals, were sent to Ukrainian embassies worldwide, including in Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs said Friday.

The entrance to the ambassador’s residence in the Vatican was also vandalized, according to the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs.

The Ukrainian embassy in the U.S. received a letter with a photocopy of a critical article about Ukraine. Like most other envelopes, the letter arrived along with others from the territory of an unnamed European country.

“We have reason to believe that a well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation of Ukrainian embassies and consulates is taking place. Not being able to stop Ukraine on the diplomatic front, they are trying to intimidate us. However, I can immediately say that these attempts are useless. We will continue to work effectively for the victory of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement.

The Ukrainian embassy in Spain received a letter-bomb on Wednesday which was opened and ignited, resulting in one slight injury.

A similar envelope was sent to the U.S. embassy in Madrid, but it was detected before going off, according to Spanish officials.

All Ukrainian embassies and consulates have been placed under heightened security. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on foreign governments to guarantee maximum protection of Ukraine’s diplomatic institutions.

Dec 01, 3:28 PM EST
Biden ‘prepared to speak with Putin’ if he wants to end war

Speaking at a joint press conference with France’s Emmanuel Macron, President Joe Biden said he would be open to speaking with Vladimir Putin if the Russian leader has legitimate interest in peace negotiations. Biden, however, said he has “no immediate plans to contact Mr. Putin.”

Biden also noted that Putin has “miscalculated every single thing” when it comes to this war.

“So the question is what is his — how does he get himself out of the circumstance he’s in? I’m prepared if he’s willing to talk to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO. I’m not going to do it on my own,” Biden said.

Meanwhile, President Macron, who has continued speaking with Putin, said it’s up to Ukraine to come to the negotiating table.

“So it’s only legitimate that President Zelenskyy sets some conditions to talk. We need to work on what could lead to a peace agreement. But it’s for him to tell us when the time comes and what the choices of the Ukrainians are,” Macron said.

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Dec 01, 1:46 PM EST
Shelling in Kherson damages power lines as energy company works to finish repairs

Electricity was back for 60% of customers in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, but shelling overnight damaged power lines, according to the head of Ukraine’s regional energy company.

Workers are hoping to finish the repairs by the end of Thursday.

In Kyiv, 652,000 residents were subject to power outages throughout Thursday, according to the director of YASNO energy company, Serhiy Kovalenko. Kyiv’s main power grid is operating at less than 70% capacity and 20% of residents are still without power or heat.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Dec 01, 12:20 PM EST
Russia accuses US, NATO of direct involvement in war

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of being directly involved in the war in Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and training its soldiers.

“You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries,” Lavrov said at a press conference Thursday.

Lavrov also claimed that Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities and other key infrastructure were intended to weaken Ukraine’s military potential and derail the shipments of weapons from the West.

Lavrov also said Moscow is open to peace talks to end the conflict.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Nov 29, 11:47 AM EST
US to send $53M in energy aid to help Ukraine through winter

The U.S. will provide Ukraine with more than $53 million to acquire critical electric grid equipment to help its citizens get through the winter, the State Department announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes amid Russia’s continued attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

“This new assistance is in addition to $55 million in emergency energy sector support for generators and other equipment to help restore emergency power and heat to local municipalities impacted by Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s power system,” the State Department said in a release.

-ABC News’ Matt Seyler

Nov 28, 4:36 PM EST
UN lays out ‘dire’ situation in southern Ukraine

Denise Brown, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, traveled to the Ukrainian cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv over the weekend to get an update on the humanitarian issues affecting the southern part of the country, according to the U.N.

Although repairs to the area’s water system are finally able to commence, there is still a lot of work to be done to help the people in those cities, the U.N said.

“We continue to be concerned about the plight of civilians in Ukraine especially as winter sets in,” a U.N. spokesperson said in a statement.

Some heating points have already been established in Mykolaiv to help people who cannot heat their homes, according to the U.N.

“Aid workers are providing supplies and generators to make these places functional,” the U.N. said in a statement.

The agency added that donations and funding for humanitarian efforts are critical as the cold weather sets in.

Nov 25, 1:13 PM EST
Power restored in all regions, Ukraine grid operator says

All of Ukraine’s regions are now connected to the European Union’s energy system and all three nuclear power plants located in the Kyiv-controlled area are working, CEO of Ukrenergo grid operator Volodymyr Kudrytskyi announced.

“In one to two days, they will reach their normal planned capacity, and we expect to introduce planned rolling blackouts instead of emergency outages,” Kudrytskyi said.

Power is slowly returning to all Ukrainian cities, but blackouts and emergency shutdowns continue. Power issues are the worst in Kyiv, Kirivigrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Poltava and Lviv, according to Kudrytskyi.

Kyiv’s critical infrastructure receives electricity, the water supply is fully restored and heating is being restored, but 50% of residential houses remain without power. Only one-third of houses currently have heating, according to the mayor.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

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