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Russia-Ukraine war live: Moscow trying to ‘freeze’ war as it prepares for new assault, says Nato | Ukraine

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Russia trying to ‘freeze’ war before renewed assault, says Stoltenberg

Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said Russia is attempting to “freeze” the fighting in Ukraine over the winter to prepare its forces for a renewed assault early next year.

The conditions for a peaceful settlement to the war are “not there now”, the Nato chief said at an event hosted by the Financial Times, after weeks of speculation over the potential for diplomatic talks. He said:

The conditions [for talks] are not there now because Russia has shown no sign of engaging in negotiations which are respecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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It is for Ukrainians to decide when the time is right to start to negotiate and to agree the conditions. Most wars and most likely also this war will end at the negotiating table.

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Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general
Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Stoltenberg urged Nato allies to continue sending weapons to Kyiv over the winter because, he warned, Russia was seeking a “break” in the fighting to prepare for a spring offensive. He said:

What we see now is that Russia is attempting to try to freeze this war, at least for a short period of time, so they can regroup, repair and recover, and try to launch a bigger offensive next spring.

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Ukraine had “momentum”, he continued, adding that he “cannot go into the specific systems that we are now considering”. He said:

The paradox is that the more we want a peaceful, negotiated solution, ensuring that Ukraine prevails, the more urgent it is that we provide military support to Ukraine.

Key events

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the “spirit of Ukraine” have been named Time magazine’s 2022 Person of the Year.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said 31 “suspicious packages” had been sent to Ukrainian missions in 15 countries in what Kyiv has described as a “campaign of terror and intimidation”.

In the past week, Ukraine says its embassies and consultants across Europe have received “bloody” packages, some containing animal eyes, including its embassy in Madrid, which also received a letter bomb.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Kuleba wrote:

In the last two days, suspicious packages have arrived at embassies in Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Denmark, as well as consulates in Gdansk. In total, we already have 31 cases in 15 countries: Austria (1), Vatican (1), Denmark (1), Spain (5), Italy (4), Kazakhstan (1), Netherlands (1), Poland (6), Portugal (2), Romania (2), USA (1), Hungary (2), France (1), Croatia (1), Czech Republic (2).

Ukrainian embassies and consulates had been functioning “in the mode of enhanced security measures” as the “threats to our diplomats keep coming”, he said.

According to Kuleba, all envelopes “noted the same address of the sender: Tesla dealership in the German town of Sindelfingen”. He said the packages came from post offices that were not equipped with video surveillance systems.

He said the packages came from attackers who took measures not to leave traces of their DNA, adding this “indicates the professional level of embodiment of this action”.

A Ukrainian embassy employee in Madrid was injured last Wednesday by a letter bomb, which was addressed to Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain. A further four letter bombs were sent to addresses in Spain, including to a Spanish arms manufacturer that has produced rockets donated to Ukraine, as well as Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the US embassy in Madrid.

In an interview with CNN last week, Kuleba described what followed the Madrid attack as “more weird” and “even sick”.

He said after Wednesday packages started arriving at various Ukrainian diplomatic missions soaked in liquid with a distinctive smell and containing animals’ eyes.

He said:

In one case it’s most probably an eye of a cow, and an eye of a pig in another case.

Asked who he thought was behind the packages, Kuleba said he “feels tempted to name Russia” as it benefited from sowing fear among Ukrainian diplomats. But he added that it could also be someone who sympathises with Russia, so he would await the findings of ongoing investigations.

Here are some of the latest images we have received from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where temperatures are below zero.

Officials have warned that half of the Kyiv region will be without electricity in the coming days, after a fresh wave of Russian missile attacks on Monday.

People walk down a street amid a snowfall in central Kyiv.
People walk down a street amid a snowfall in central Kyiv. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
A municipal worker removes snow in central Kyiv.
A municipal worker removes snow in central Kyiv. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
People walk down a street in central Kyiv.
People walk down a street in central Kyiv. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Russia trying to ‘freeze’ war before renewed assault, says Stoltenberg

Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said Russia is attempting to “freeze” the fighting in Ukraine over the winter to prepare its forces for a renewed assault early next year.

The conditions for a peaceful settlement to the war are “not there now”, the Nato chief said at an event hosted by the Financial Times, after weeks of speculation over the potential for diplomatic talks. He said:

The conditions [for talks] are not there now because Russia has shown no sign of engaging in negotiations which are respecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

It is for Ukrainians to decide when the time is right to start to negotiate and to agree the conditions. Most wars and most likely also this war will end at the negotiating table.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general
Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Stoltenberg urged Nato allies to continue sending weapons to Kyiv over the winter because, he warned, Russia was seeking a “break” in the fighting to prepare for a spring offensive. He said:

What we see now is that Russia is attempting to try to freeze this war, at least for a short period of time, so they can regroup, repair and recover, and try to launch a bigger offensive next spring.

Ukraine had “momentum”, he continued, adding that he “cannot go into the specific systems that we are now considering”. He said:

The paradox is that the more we want a peaceful, negotiated solution, ensuring that Ukraine prevails, the more urgent it is that we provide military support to Ukraine.

16 dead in Donetsk road accident – pro-Russia official

A road accident in the temporarily occupied eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk has left 16 people dead and several injured, according to a Russian-backed official and state media.

The accident involved a minibus and a truck, whose passengers included soldiers, and took place between Torez and Shakhtarsk, emergency services told the Russian state-owned news agency Tass.

They were cited by Tass as saying:

On the Shakhtersk-Torez highway, a truck carrying military personnel collided with a minibus. Sixteen people died, three victims were hospitalised.

The truck driver was among the dead, the news agency reported, adding that the cause of the accident had not yet been established.

Writing on Telegram, Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-backed head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said:

A tragedy on the T-0517 highway claimed the lives of 16 people, among them were some of our defenders.

Summary

The time in Kyiv is 1pm. Here is a roundup of the day’s news so far:

  • The US said it had not “enabled” Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russia, after a spate of drone attacks on military-linked facilities deep within Russian territory. Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility but neither did it criticise the action, which killed three people and damaged long-range bombers and a fuel depot, according to reports from Russia. The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said: “We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia.”

  • Belarus plans to move military equipment and security forces on Wednesday and Thursday in what it says are checks on its response to possible acts of terrorism, the state BelTA news agency reported on Wednesday. “During this period, it is planned to move military equipment and personnel of the national security forces,” the news agency cited the country’s security council as saying.

  • The Kremlin has said a US military aid spending bill providing $800m to Ukraine approved by lawmakers on Tuesday was “provocation towards our country”. The Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorises the additional spending for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, an increase of $500m over President Joe Biden’s request earlier this year.

  • Oleksandr Starukh, the Zaporizhzhia regional governor, said on Telegram that Russia launched drone and missile strikes on two villages overnight, injuring a 15-year-old girl and two other people. The Guardian has not been able to verify the reports independently.

  • Ukraine’s culture minister has called on western allies to boycott Russian culture, urging a halt to performances of the music of Tchaikovsky and other Russian composers until the end of the war. Writing in the Guardian, Oleksandr Tkachenko argues that such a “cultural boycott” would not amount to “cancelling Tchaikovsky”, but would be “pausing the performance of his works until Russia ceases its bloody invasion”.

  • The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, visited troops close to frontlines in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday. Addressing service personnel later in the presidential palace in Kyiv, Zelenskiy said he had spent the day with troops in Donbas, theatre of the heaviest battles, and in Kharkiv region, where Ukrainians have retaken swaths of territory from Russian forces.

  • Poland is preparing to deploy the German Patriot air defence system on its territory, after Berlin refused to place the system in Ukraine, Poland’s defence minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said on Twitter. Germany last month offered Poland the Patriot system to help secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed and killed two people in Poland.

  • Europe is likely to scrape through this winter without cutting off gas customers despite reduced Russian supplies, but even adjusting to colder homes and paying more may not be enough in coming years, analysts have told AFP. Russia’s progressive reduction of gas supplies to Europe via pipeline triggered a bidding war for liquefied natural gas (LNG), sending prices sharply higher.

  • Shelling by Ukrainian forces killed at least six civilians in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk on Tuesday, according to the Russian-installed head of the separatist-controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Alexey Kulemzin. The head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, said Ukrainian shelling killed a deputy in the self-proclaimed republic’s People’s Council, Maria Pirogova.

  • Dmytro Zhyvytsky, the governor of Sumy region on the Russian border, said several people were wounded when Russian forces fired 226 shells on seven communities during the day.

  • The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin met senior officials on Tuesday to discuss “domestic security”, and Russia was taking “necessary” measures to fend off more Ukrainian attacks. One of the attacks struck the key Engels airfield in the Saratov region, where Russia keeps some of its strategic nuclear bombers.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for the moment. My colleague Léonie Chao-Fong will be with you shortly to continue bringing you all the latest from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Kremlin has said a US military aid spending bill providing $800m to Ukraine approved by lawmakers on Tuesday was “provocation towards our country”.

The Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorises the additional spending for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, an increase of $500m over president Joe Biden’s request earlier this year.

Charlotte Higgins

Charlotte Higgins

Ukraine’s culture minister has called on western allies to boycott Russian culture, urging a halt to performances of the music of Tchaikovsky and other Russian composers until the end of the war.

Writing in the Guardian, Oleksandr Tkachenko argues that such a “cultural boycott” would not amount to “cancelling Tchaikovsky”, but would be “pausing the performance of his works until Russia ceases its bloody invasion”.

He argues that such a step is right given that the war is “a civilisational battle over culture and history” in which Russia is actively “trying to destroy our culture and memory” by insisting that the two states constitute a single nation.

Many cultural figures in Ukraine have said the Russian state is actively instrumentalising its artistic heritage during the conflict. Billboards in Russian-occupied Kherson, for example, showed images of Pushkin, with text referring to the Russian poet’s link with the city.

The US said it had not “enabled” Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russia, after a spate of drone attacks on military-linked facilities deep within Russian territory.

“We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia,” the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told reporters.

US has not ‘encouraged nor enabled’ Ukraine to strike inside Russia, says Blinken – video

Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon at Russian positions on the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Tuesday
Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon at Russian positions on the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Photograph: AP

 

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