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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Dec. 14

Rescuers and police officers examine parts of the drone at the site of a building destroyed by a Russian drone attack, as their attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine Dec. 14, 2022.
Rescuers and police officers examine parts of the drone at the site of a building destroyed by a Russian drone attack, as their attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine Dec. 14, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.

11:05 p.m.:

10:22 p.m.: Three Latvian parties have signed a deal to form a coalition government more than two months after a general election in the Baltic country that was shaped by neighboring Russia’s war in Ukraine and economic woes, The Associated Press reported.

The new Cabinet will be led by Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ ruling center-right New Unity party, which won the most votes in the October 1 general election. It will include two smaller junior coalition partners.

The parties would control 54 seats in Latvia’s 100-seat parliament. None of the parties catering to Latvia’s sizable ethnic Russian minority, which makes up more than 25% of the country’s 1.9 million people, managed to secure a seat in parliament.

9:21 p.m.:

8:38 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged New Zealand to take a leading role in focusing on the environmental destruction his country is suffering as a result of Russia’s invasion, The Associated Press reported.

Zelenskyy delivered his message via video link to lawmakers who packed the debating chamber at 8 a.m. Wednesday. He became just the second foreign leader to address New Zealand’s parliament, after Australia’s Julia Gillard did so in 2011.

Zelenskyy is pushing for a 10-point peace plan that, as well as environmental protection, includes items such as nuclear safety and justice. He has been asking various countries to take a lead on different points.

7:50 p.m.:

7:14 p.m.: Since Mark Hamill was tapped as an ambassador for United24's “Army of Drones” campaign earlier this fall, a lot has happened, The Associated Press reported.

He had a Zoom call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 500 drones have already been sent to Ukraine and a new effort to raise funds toward 10 reconnaissance drones has been launched.

As one of the most famous celebrities in the galaxy, Hamill told The Associated Press on a Zoom call last week that he has a responsibility to use his voice to help those in need.

6:18 p.m.:

5:35 p.m.: French broadcasting authority Arcom on Wednesday urged satellite company Eutelsat (ETL.PA) to stop carrying three Russian TV channels, whose coverage of the war in Ukraine included "repeated incitement to hatred and violence and numerous shortcomings in honesty of information," Reuters reported

Arcom said it told Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV. A Eutelsat spokeswoman said the French company would comply and stop broadcasting the three channels.

4:20 p.m.:

3:40 p.m.: The European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed at their first summit Wednesday on a need for deeper economic ties and a respect for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The leaders of 27 EU countries and nine of 10 ASEAN leaders were invited to a commemoration of 45 years of diplomatic relations, with only military-ruled Myanmar excluded.

The leaders discussed areas of future cooperation, including trade, the green and digital transitions and health. The two blocs have already signed a deal to allow their airlines to expand services more easily.

2:30 p.m.:

2:00 p.m.: The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday that a major prisoner of war swap deal was a "possibility" in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Reuters reported.

Mirjana Spoljaric, a former Swiss diplomat who took on the role of ICRC president in October, was speaking days after returning from a trip to Ukraine where she met senior officials in Kyiv.

The independent humanitarian body is involved with visiting prisoners on both sides of the war and has a history of managing prisoner exchanges in conflicts around the world.

"On an all-for-all exchange, it has happened in the past, it is a known practice, and it can happen in the Russia-Ukraine international conflict as well," Spoljaric told reporters at the group's Geneva headquarters in response to a Reuters question.

1:35 p.m.: Life in the recently liberated city of Kherson is a constant struggle for locals. Russian forces continue to shell the war-torn regional capital. Although supermarket chains have started to reopen, residents say they need greater support during the cold winter months, including more generators and better access to medicine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:15 p.m.: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke by phone Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to spokesman Stephane Dujerric. They talked about a wide variety of issues regarding the conflict in Ukraine, including the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he said.

U.N. Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths is in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. He met with humanitarian aid workers, government officials, and diplomats. Dujarric said Griffiths was in the vicinity of Russian missile attacks yesterday in Kherson and today in Kyiv.

Griffiths noted what he saw is just a fraction of what the Ukrainian people are experiencing. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs retweeted Griffith’s interview with a BBC reporter about his experience in Kyiv.

12:20 p.m.: Ukrainian atomic energy agency Energoatom said on Wednesday it would offer higher bonuses to staff at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station who remain loyal to Kyiv, Reuters reported.

The plant in southern Ukraine, Europe's largest, has been occupied since shortly after Russia's February 24 invasion but is still operated by its Ukrainian staff.

Energoatom said Russian forces were telling Ukrainian workers at the plant that they would not be paid after January 1 if they did not sign contracts with Russia's nuclear energy company, Rosatom.

11:45 a.m.:

11:00 a.m.: Disappointment has set in two years after the election of U.S. President Joe Biden was supposed to reset trans-Atlantic relations with the European Union, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

They say conflict with Washington is the last thing they want, with war raging on their doorstep in Ukraine and common resolve essential in stopping Russia. But money is a threat to that unity.

“We already have war in Europe. The last thing we need is a trade war,” European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager told lawmakers Wednesday.

They were debating U.S. policies that many in the 27-nation bloc see as unfairly locking a longstanding and trusted ally out of the lucrative American market. The point of contention is the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, a $369 billion plan that favors American-made climate technology through subsidies and, according to the EU, will unfairly discriminate against its firms.

10:35 a.m.:

10:10 a.m.: Representatives of Ukraine have received the European Parliament's 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on behalf of "the brave people of Ukraine" amid their battle to repel invading Russian forces, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The annual prize, named after the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in 1988 by the European Parliament to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola opened the ceremony in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday, citing a Sakharov quotation in which he said, "A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the ceremony via a video link, saying that "Russia's terrorist war aims to deprive Europe of Ukraine and freedom," adding that Ukraine is fighting against Russia's invasion to prevent similar attacks against Ukraine and Europe in future.

Several Ukrainian nationals represented their country at the ceremony, including a veteran volunteer Yulia "Taira" Payevska; the Mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov; and human rights defender Oleksandra Matviychuk; and others.

9:40 a.m.:

9:15 a.m.: Ukraine's parliament has passed all the legislation sought by the European Union before Kyiv starts talks on joining the 27-member bloc, the assembly's speaker said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The European Commission, the EU executive, granted Ukraine the status of candidate member in June, despite Russia's invasion, on the understanding that Kyiv takes a series of recommended legislative and policy steps.

These included enacting legislation on a selection process for Constitutional Court judges, strengthening the fight against corruption, harmonizing media regulation with EU standards and protecting national minorities.

8:50 a.m.:

8:25 a.m.: Three Latvian parties signed a deal Wednesday to form a coalition government more than two months after a general election in the Baltic country that was shaped by neighboring Russia’s war in Ukraine and economic woes, The Associated Press reported.

The new Cabinet will be led by Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ ruling center-right New Unity party, which won the most votes, 19%, in the Oct. 1 general election. The junior partners will be the conservative National Alliance and the new centrist electoral alliance United List.

The parties pledged to direct the new government’s work to five areas in particular: Latvia’s security, education, energy, competitiveness and quality of life.

In a joint declaration, the parties stressed that the goal of the second government of Karins, who has been prime minister since 2019, is “the transformation of the economy” through polices that “provide security and prosperity to the people of Latvia.”

Latvia and its Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania, have been hit especially hard by the energy crisis due to their dependence on Russian gas before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

8:05 a.m.:

7:30 a.m.: Russia said on Wednesday it had not received any proposals about a "Christmas ceasefire" in Ukraine, as fighting looks set to drag on through the winter, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Russia this week to start withdrawing its troops by Christmas as the first step towards a peace deal after nearly 10 months of war.

Asked on Wednesday whether Moscow had seen proposals for a "Christmas ceasefire," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "No, no such offers have been received from anybody. This topic is not on the agenda."

7:10 a.m.:

6:55 a.m.: Reuters reported that a U.S. citizen was among dozens of detainees handed over to Ukraine by Russian forces in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said Wednesday.

Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app that Suedi Murekezi had been “helping our people” before ending up in Russian custody.

The Washington Post reported on Murekezi’s capture in July 2022, saying the U.S. Air Force veteran had been detained by pro-Russian separatists in the southern city of Kherson in early June. The Washington Post quoted his brother as saying that Murekezi had been falsely accused of participating in pro-Ukrainian protests.

6:40 a.m.:

6:25 a.m.: Russian forces firing multiple rocket launchers hit the regional administration building on the central square of the recently liberated southern city of Kherson on Wednesday, Reuters reported citing the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

Ukraine recaptured Kherson from Russian forces on November 11, prompting days of celebrations on the square by city residents and President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy visited the square on November 14 to hail the end of the Russian occupation.

Russian forces have been shelling Kherson from the opposite side of the Dnipro River since leaving the city.

6:15 a.m.: While Kyiv’s allies pledged more than $1 billion in aid on Tuesday, they also promised energy-efficient LED bulbs to ease power shortfalls and help Ukraine get through freezing winter months as Russia pounds the country’s infrastructure, Reuters reported.

They made the pledge at a global meeting, hosted by France, to discuss what could be offered between now and March to maintain water, food, energy, health and transport during Ukraine’s typically frigid winter.

The European Commission said it would provide up to 30 million light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that 50 million such bulbs would significantly reduce the power shortfall in the country.

LED bulbs use on average 75% less energy than traditional bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. “I hope that other partners will follow us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the conference.

She added that energy savings from a full deployment of 50 million LED bulbs to Ukrainian homes would amount to one gigawatt of electricity, equivalent to the annual production of a nuclear power plant.

6 a.m.: Pope Francis called Wednesday for people to restrain spending ahead of the upcoming Christmas holiday and use the money saved to help the people of Ukraine.

Speaking during his weekly audience at the Vatican, the pope said, “there is so much suffering in Ukraine” as he advocated for a “humble Christmas.”

“They are hungry, they are cold, so many die for lack of doctors and nurses,” he said. “Let’s not forget them. Christmas yes, in peace and with the Lord, yes. But with Ukrainians in the heart.”

Ukraine has experienced repeated Russian airstrikes on its infrastructure in recent months, causing power and water outages.

5:45 a.m.: Russian drone strikes on Kyiv and the region around the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday did not damage any energy facilities, national power grid operator Ukrenergo said.

Since October, Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with big waves of missile and drone strikes.

“Thanks to the brilliant work of the air defense forces, the energy infrastructure facilities were not damaged (on Wednesday) — all 13 drones were shot down,” Ukrenergo said on the Telegram messaging app.

5:30 a.m.:

4:50 a.m.: Agence France-Presse reported that EU leaders will meet their counterparts from Southeast Asia for a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, looking to bolster ties in the face of the war in Ukraine and challenges from China.

Europe is keen to boost trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which counts some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

“There is a need for Europeans to reconnect with ASEAN, one of the most dynamic areas in the world,” the French presidency said.

The EU has been on a diplomatic push to galvanize a global front against Moscow as its invasion has sent economic and political shock waves around the world.

But ASEAN’s 10 nations have been divided in their response to the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.

Singapore has gone along with Western sanctions on Russia, while Vietnam and Laos, which have close military ties to Moscow, have remained more neutral.

Along with Thailand, they abstained from a United Nations vote in October condemning Russia’s attempted annexation of regions of Ukraine seized since February.

The diverging views led to intense wrangling over a final declaration from the summit as the EU pushed for stronger language to condemn Moscow.

An EU official said Brussels was satisfied in the end that it sent a “crystal clear message” of the need to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.

4:25 a.m.: Issuing an annual Watchlist Wednesday, the head of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband said the war in Ukraine was exacerbating the problem in countries affected by drought and conflict elsewhere because rich countries were consumed by Russia’s aggression.

Somalia and Ethiopia, both Horn of Africa nations are ravaged by drought and conflict, and the aid group said they will be the countries of highest concern in 2023.

Speaking generally, Miliband said many rich countries were too focused on themselves and this was not right either morally or strategically. “The insularity, the inward-lookingness of too many of the wealthiest parts of the world is leaving too many of the poorest parts of the world having to fend for themselves in a way that they’re unable to do,” he said.

Miliband, however, singled out the United States for praise, noting that it was providing 90% of aid for Somalia, Reuters reported.

“In the U.S., Ukraine is not being used as an excuse to step back from tackling global issues. It’s being used by the administration as a reason to get involved in East Africa.”

Somalia has been hard-hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because it is dangerously reliant on imported food, with 90% of its wheat supplies coming from Russia and Ukraine.

In Ethiopia, where an estimated 20 million people do not have enough to eat, a ceasefire signed in November between the federal government and forces from the Tigray region after two years of war has raised hopes of improved humanitarian access.

“There has been some aid flowing through,” said Miliband. “But we’ve got an enormous amount of ground to make up.”

The other countries ranked in the top 10 on the IRC’s 2023 Watchlist are Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Haiti and Ukraine.

4 a.m.: Russia attacked Kyiv with Iranian-made Shahed drones early on Wednesday but air defenses systems prevented any major damage to the Ukrainian capital, city authorities said.

Reuters reported that Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were explosions in the central Shevchenkivskyi district, and two administrative buildings were damaged, but mentioned no casualties. The all clear was issued after three hours.

"From early morning, enemy drones attacked the region. The terrorist country once again targeted the critical infrastructure of the region and the capital," Kyiv regional governor said.

Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said the attack was deliberately timed for when it was dark to make it harder to shoot the drones down, but that Ukrainian air defense systems had been effective.

"The air defenses worked well." he said. "Thirteen (drones) were shot down."

"Well done, I am proud," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a brief video message, praising the air defense systems which he said appeared to have shot down all the drones launched by Russia on Wednesday.

Ihnat said the total number of Iranian drones launched on Wednesday was being verified but that Russia had used about 400 since the first was shot down by Ukraine in mid-September.

3:30 a.m.: The European Union is united in its support for Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the German parliament, adding, with apparent reference to Hungary, that attempts to undermine the bloc's values by blocking foreign policy measures would fail.

"Anyone who thinks he can undermine the values of the EU, to which every member state has committed itself, by blocking its foreign and security policies, will fail in that attempt," he told legislators on Wednesday, per Reuters' report.

Hungary earlier this week dropped its objections to an EU loan to Kyiv after the partial unfreezing of financial supports that had earlier been frozen over rule of law concerns.

3 a.m.:

2:30 a.m.:

2 a.m.: U.S. prosecutors announced criminal charges on Tuesday against five Russians and two American nationals suspected of operating a network to obtain sensitive U.S. technologies and ammunition for Russia’s military.

VOA’s Justice Department correspondent Masood Farivar has the story:

1:45 a.m.:

1:25 a.m.: Two administrative buildings in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv were damaged on Wednesday in a drone attack, the city’s administration said, adding that there was still no information about potential injuries or fatalities, Reuters reported.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said that air-defense systems shot down 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones and that there were explosions in the city’s central Shevchenkivskyi district, a cluster of universities, galleries and restaurants.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the information.

The capital and the Kyiv region remained under air raid sirens at 0600 GMT, more than two hours after they first went off.

“Weaklings,” Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app after the explosions in Kyiv.

The Associated Press confirmed the explosions in the capital, Kyiv, citing Ukrainian authorities, adding that the attack involved Iranian-made Shahed drones like those that Ukrainian authorities say have been involved in other Russian strikes in the country.

The AP said it was not immediately clear whether there were any casualties.

1:10 a.m.: In a video address to the New Zealand parliament on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Wellington — whose military has extensive experience in mine clearing — for long-term help in clearing mines in war-ravaged Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

“As of now, 174,000 square kilometers (67,000 square miles) of Ukrainian territory are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance,” Zelenskyy said, calling Russia’s nearly year-old invasion as an “ecocide” that would have a lasting impact.

“There is no real peace for any child who can die from a hidden Russian antipersonnel mine.”

12:40 a.m.: Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that air-defense systems shot down 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones early on Wednesday.

Reuters was not yet able to independently verify the information.

12:01 a.m.: Explosions were heard in the early hours of Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, two Reuters witnesses said.

The emergency services’ maps showed the capital and the region surrounding it have been under air raid siren alerts for about 20 minutes before the blasts.

Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of the Kyiv’s region, said that air defense systems were at work.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that blasts hit the city’s central Shevchenkivskyi district early on Wednesday.

“Emergency services dispatched,” Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app. “Details later.”

Some information in this report came from Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.