Russia-Ukraine war live: Kremlin says engaging in peace talks on Kyiv’s terms ‘unrealistic’ | Ukraine – Freedom Voice


Kremlin says idea it will engage in peace talks on Kyiv’s terms ‘unrealistic’

The Kremlin said on Friday that the idea Russia would engage in peace talks with Ukraine on Kyiv’s terms in 2024 was unrealistic.

It was responding to a media report that said Washington wanted such a scenario to unfold, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the idea “absolutely unrealistic”.

Key events

Ukraine’s farm ministry on Friday raised its 2023 grain harvest forecast to 59.7m tonnes, saying the country had a “record grain yield”.

The total grain and oilseed harvest is expected to reach 81.3m tonnes, the ministry added in a statement.

A British defence intelligence update today said that “a Russian naval aviation Su-24M Fencer D fighter bomber was highly likely shot down by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile” in the vicinity of Ukraine’s Snake Island on 5 December.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has underscored Kyiv’s need for more air defence and the importance of EU unity in the run-up to a key summit next week.

The Ukrainian leader said that during a call with Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, the leaders “discussed the importance of maintaining EU political and financial support for Ukraine, as well as EU unity in light of the expected (European Council) summit decisions to open accession negotiations and provide €50bn in support.”

He added:

Ukraine, for its part, is fulfilling all of its obligations to the EU.

I spoke with Estonia’s Prime Minister @KajaKallas.

In the wake of Russia’s morning attempts to hit Ukrainian civilian infrastructure with missiles, I emphasized the importance of further strengthening Ukraine’s air defense. This task is particularly relevant for the frontline… pic.twitter.com/y72y5JpIQu

— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 8, 2023

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

Vladimir Putin has said he will run for re-election in the March 2024 presidential poll, moving the longtime Russian leader a step closer to a fifth term in office.

The announcement was widely expected and there is little question about the outcome.

Putin has dominated Russia’s political system and the media over the past two decades, jailing prominent opposition politicians, such as Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin, who could challenge him on the ballot. Putin has won previous elections, which independent election watchdogs say were marred by widespread fraud, in a landslide.

Putin’s long-term spokesperson in a previous interview said that “Putin will be re-elected next year with more than 90% of the vote”.

European Union leaders are conscious of how “existential” financial aid is to Ukraine and will honour their commitments, a senior official said on Friday, less than a week before a summit where billions in aid for Kyiv hang in the balance.

Ahead of the year’s final summit of EU leaders in Brussels on the 14 and 15 December, Hungary has threatened to veto a proposal for the bloc to grant €50bn in budget aid to Kyiv through 2027, Reuters reported.

“We know how existential it is. European leaders are responsible people – at least 26,” said the official, who is involved in preparing the summit. “They will stick to their commitments.”

Putin confirms he will run for re-election

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said on Friday that he would run for re-election next year, the state news agency TASS reported.

He made the announcement in the Kremlin after awarding soldiers who had fought in Ukraine with the country’s highest military honour, the hero of Russia gold star, TASS reported.

In a snow-covered field in western Poland, Ukrainian soldiers are being trained in trench warfare, days before being sent to the front in what has become a grinding war of attrition against Russia.

Reuters was among a number of media organisations invited this week to watch the training, which was conducted by soldiers from Poland, France and Belgium, in Wedrzyn, about 40 kilometres from the German border.

“Most of the people have no military experience and they are taught how to execute some basic tactics,” said one Ukrainian soldier. “We are taught how to use weapons in urban areas and in trenches.”

The training was conducted by the Combined Arms Training Command, which was established as part of the European Union’s efforts to aid Ukraine’s military. Exercises have been held in 24 out of the bloc’s 27 member states.

“We will keep adapting because the situation on the battlefield is changing every day,” said Lieut Gen Michiel van der Laan, the director general of European Union military staff.

The European Union’s executive is due to approve next week a legal proposal on using proceeds from Russian assets frozen under sanctions, but doubts in France, Germany and Belgium mean Ukraine would not get the money anytime soon, officials and diplomatic sources said.

The draft law is expected on 12 December, two days before the year’s final summit of the EU’s 27 national leaders at which billions of much-needed budgetary and military aid for Kyiv are at stake, as well as advancing Ukraine’s membership bid.

The prospect of a Hungarian veto and budget bickering between EU states weigh heavy on chances for agreement that would give a boost to Ukraine, exhausted fighting against a Russian invasion through the war’s second winter, Reuters reported.

Kyiv would not be getting instant good news either on getting its hands on proceeds derived from the frozen Russian assets, according to diplomats and officials in EU hub Brussels, who laid out lingering doubts by the three key capitals.

Kremlin says idea it will engage in peace talks on Kyiv’s terms ‘unrealistic’

The Kremlin said on Friday that the idea Russia would engage in peace talks with Ukraine on Kyiv’s terms in 2024 was unrealistic.

It was responding to a media report that said Washington wanted such a scenario to unfold, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the idea “absolutely unrealistic”.

A woman looking out of a window that has been broken by an explosion, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 8 December, 2023.
A woman looking out of a window that has been broken by an explosion, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 8 December, 2023. Photograph: Pavlo Pakhomenko/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Ukrainian air defences shot down 14 out of 19 missiles fired by Russia during a morning air strike on Friday, Ukraine’s air force spokesman said.

The missiles were shot down in the region outside Kyiv and the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, the military official, Yuryi Ihnat, said on television.

A Russian missile attack killed one civilian and injured four others in Ukraine’s central region of Dnipropetrovsk on Friday, the region’s governor, Serhiy Lysak, said.

“Unfortunately, one person is dead. Preliminarily, four people are wounded. They are all in hospital. Two people are in severe condition,” Lysak said on the Telegram messaging app.

Kyiv urges Ukrainians to conserve energy after attack on power plant

Hello, this is the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine has told residents to save energy after a power plant near the front line was hit by shelling, in the first such warning this winter.

“This afternoon, the enemy attacked one of the thermal power plants in the front-line zone. The equipment was seriously damaged as a result of shelling,” the energy ministry said on Thursday.

It did not say which plant was affected, but said that two of its power units had stopped working, leading to a “temporary shortage of electricity” in the grid.

“The energy ministry appeals to consumers to support power engineers by consuming electricity reasonably and economically, especially during peak load hours,” it said.

Officials have warned for months Moscow was planning to step up strikes on energy infrastructure, after attacks on the power grid last year led to widespread blackouts.

“I thank every Ukrainian family – everyone who understands the challenges of war and temperature and uses electricity sparingly and rationally,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address.

In other developments:

  • British foreign secretary David Cameron urged US lawmakers to approve fresh aid for Ukraine, one day after Senate Republicans blocked a funding bill for Kyiv. “I’m not worried about the strength and unity and consensus and bravery of the Ukrainian people … I’m worried that we’re not going to do what we need to do,” Cameron told the Aspen Security Forum in the US capital.

  • The Biden administration is considering getting behind new restrictions on who can seek asylum and an expanded deportation process to secure new aid for Ukraine and Israel in a supplemental funding bill, a source familiar with discussions told Reuters. The White House and congress are racing to strike a deal that would deliver military aid to the two allied nations while discouraging illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border with only a week until lawmakers depart for a Christmas break.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron met Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán in a bid to break the deadlock ahead of an EU summit after the Hungarian leader threatened to block Ukraine’s accession talks. Macron welcomed Orban at the Élysée Palace for a working dinner to discuss, according to the French presidency, “several subjects” on the agenda for the EU summit next week, including “various aspects of European support for Ukraine”.

  • Ukraine began using train platforms to bypass a border blockade by Polish truck drivers, Ukrzalynitsya, Ukraine’s rail network, said. The first train deployed in the operation moved 23 trucks across the border from Ukraine into Poland, a statement said.

  • The UK and US accused Russian security services of engaging in a sustained cyber-espionage campaign against top politicians, journalists and NGOs. The UK foreign ministry said Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was behind “unsuccessful attempts to interfere in UK political processes” and said it had summoned Russia’s ambassador to London about the issue.

  • Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida pledged $4.5bn to Ukraine, including $1bn in humanitarian aid to help support the war-torn country’s recovery effort in an online summit of leading industrial nations. The $1bn humanitarian aid includes funding for generators and other power supplies, as well as measures to clear mines planted by Russia, the foreign ministry said. The remaining $3.5bn includes funding for credit guarantees for World Bank loans to Ukraine.

  • Kyiv has agreed with two American firms to jointly manufacture vital 155mm artillery shells in Ukraine, a Ukrainian minister said, although production will not start for at least two years. “We have agreements with two leading American companies to jointly produce, in Ukraine, 155-calibre ammunition,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, minister for strategic industries, said in televised comments.

  • Lawmakers in Russia set the country’s 2024 presidential election for 17 March, moving Vladimir Putin a step closer to a fifth term in office. Members of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, voted unanimously Thursday to approve a decree setting the date.

  • Russian forces relied heavily on aerial attacks in their slow-moving campaign to win control of eastern Ukraine and resorted to new smaller attack groups in pressing to capture the beleaguered town of Avdiivka. “For the second day in a row, occupying forces have been actively using kamikaze drones and aviation. And the number of combat clashes has significantly increased,” Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television.

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