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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Dec. 27

Ukrainian soldiers with the 43rd Heavy Artillery Brigade sit atop 2S7 Pion self propelled cannon on the battlefield, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, during intense shelling on the front line in Bakhmut, Ukraine, Dec. 26, 2022.
Ukrainian soldiers with the 43rd Heavy Artillery Brigade sit atop 2S7 Pion self propelled cannon on the battlefield, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, during intense shelling on the front line in Bakhmut, Ukraine, Dec. 26, 2022.

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

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

10:40 p.m.: France and Poland have signed a deal for the sale of two French observation satellites to Poland, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Twitter, Reuters reported.

"This major contract reflects Poland's trust in our technology and industry," Lecornu said after meeting with his Polish counterpart in Warsaw.

The Polish Armament Agency said the net value of the deal is around $611.69 million and that the launch into space of the Polish satellites produced by Airbus Defense & Space is to be completed by 2027.

10 p.m.: Roughly 1,000 Crimean Tatars, the indigenous population of occupied Crimea, fled to Turkey, escaping Russia’s mobilization drive for its war against Ukraine, according to Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yasin Serim.

This is according to Tamila Tasheva, Ukraine’s presidential representative in Crimea after a business visit to Turkey, Euromaidan Press reported.

Mobilization by the occupying state into its army in occupied territories is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Earlier, Tasheva reported that Crimean Tatars, who stood up against Russian occupation in 2014, were being disproportionately drafted into the Russian Army amid accusations that Russia is purposefully targeting national minorities.

9:28 p.m.: In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian forces again shelled and bombed towns and cities on Tuesday. After a number of dramatic Ukrainian gains in the autumn, the war has entered a slow, grinding phase as bitter winter weather has set in at the front, Reuters reported.

The heaviest fighting has been around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying for months to storm at huge cost in lives, and further north in the cities of Svatove and Kreminna, where Ukraine is trying to break Russian defensive lines.

In Bakhmut, home to 70,000 people before the war and now mostly a bomb-wracked ghost town, Reuters reporters saw fires burning in a large residential building, while debris littered the streets and the windows of most buildings were blown out.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said in an update: "Russia continues to initiate frequent small-scale assaults in these areas (of Bakhmut and Svatove), although little territory has changed hands."

8:23 p.m.: Lost status and a desperate existence in Iran are driving thousands of former Afghan troops — many of them elite commandos trained by the United States — to consider fighting as mercenaries in Ukraine and other battlefields, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

Many ex-Afghan security personnel accuse the United States of abandoning them after the Taliban regained power last year. They also say poverty and security concerns are factoring into their decisions to take a private Russian mercenary group up on its recruitment offers.

It marks a major turnaround for the former members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and its elite commando force, which were trained by the United States and Western allies and formed the backbone of the former Afghan government's efforts to defend the country and combat the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group.

7:12 p.m.: Fostering a recovery in consumer demand and helping the corporate sector become profitable are the biggest tasks for the Russian government to address in 2023, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Russia's economy is set to contract for the second year running in 2023, with sweeping Western sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine and a "partial mobilization" of mostly working-age men adding to longer-term issues such as falling disposable incomes.

"The consumer market is recovering very slowly," Belousov said in an interview on state television. He referred to the situation as something "close to stagnation."

"This is above all because our real wage growth is recovering very slowly, and in turn is the flip side of a low unemployment rate," Belousov said. Consumer lending, a powerful tool in supporting demand, is down as well, he said.

On the corporate side, companies' profits are down about 8-10% year on year, Belousov said, creating problems with investment.

"More than 50% of our investment funding is from a company's own funds. If profits sag, that means investment will also sag," he said.

6:04 p.m.: Russia will be forced to reduce its oil production because of Western sanctions, while mature fields, which do not enjoy tax breaks, will likely bear the brunt of the contraction to cushion producers' losses, analysts said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Russia may cut oil output by 5%-7% in early 2023, as it responds to Western price caps, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday. Russia produces 10% of the world's total oil output.

The sanctions over Ukraine have hit sales of Russian oil, which jointly with other key Russian commodity, natural gas, account for around 45% of state budget revenues. Exports of Russia's flagship Urals crude blend from the Baltic Sea ports may fall by up to a fifth in December.

Russian oil majors did not respond to requests for comment.

5 p.m.:

4:10 p.m.: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday reaffirmed her government's "full support" for Ukraine in a call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, her office said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Meloni has been a firm supporter of Kyiv, despite friction on the issue within her rightist ruling coalition and divided public opinion.

"Meloni renewed the Italian government's full support for Kyiv in the political, military, economic and humanitarian fields, to repair energy infrastructure and (to work) for the future reconstruction of Ukraine", her office said.

In a tweet posted earlier Tuesday, Zelenskyy thanked Meloni for her "solidarity and comprehensive support," and said Italy was considering providing Kyiv with air defense systems.

3:18 p.m.: Indian police are investigating the sudden deaths of a wealthy Russian politician who reportedly criticized Moscow's war in Ukraine and his traveling companion at a luxury hotel, authorities said Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

The body of Pavel Antov, 65, was found Saturday in a pool of blood outside his lodgings in eastern Odisha state, where he was on holiday with three other Russian nationals.

His death came two days after another member of the travel party, Vladimir Bidenov, was found unconscious after suffering an apparent heart attack at the same hotel and could not be revived.

Police said they were reviewing CCTV footage, questioning hotel staff and were waiting on detailed autopsy reports, but so far there was no sign of foul play.

Bidenov's heart attack had likely been caused by binge drinking and a possible drug overdose, regional police chief Rajesh Pandit told AFP.

"So far it seems that Antov accidentally fell from the hotel terrace," he added.

2:52 p.m.: Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, an arch loyalist of Vladimir Putin given a new job this week, predicted war between Germany and France next year and a civil war in the United States that would lead to Elon Musk becoming president, Reuters reported.

Medvedev, deputy head of Putin's advisory security council, served as president during a four-year spell when Putin held the office of prime minister. He appears to have seen his fortune rise in the Kremlin, which said on Monday he would now serve as Putin's deputy on a body overseeing the military industry.

In his list of predictions for 2023, published on his personal Telegram and Twitter accounts, he also foresaw Britain rejoining the EU, which would in turn collapse.

2:07 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin's decree banning the supply of crude oil to foreign companies and citizens that abide by a $60-per-barrel price cap set by Western allies will take effect on February 1 and remain in effect until July 1, the decree said. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

It applies not only to oil but also to oil products; however, the government will separately determine the date from which sales of those products at the established price ceiling will be prohibited.

The G-7, the European Union, and Australia agreed earlier this month to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil effective from December 5. The price cap, designed to cut the amount of money Russia has to fund its war in Ukraine, was agreed to back up an EU embargo on seaborne Russian oil that went into effect that day.

12:20 p.m.: Report: Russia takes step to combat Western oil price cap

9:05 a.m.: Ukraine’s energy minister says the power situation across the country remains “really difficult” because of Russian shelling and expressed worry that Russia could launch fresh attacks to damage power generation on New Year’s.

Herman Halushchenko told Ukrainian television Tuesday that between Russian attacks, Ukraine is trying to fix damage to the electric grid and increase electricity production, reports CNN.

He said the unpredictability of Russian shelling makes it difficult to make fixed plans for repair work.

"There is a feeling that [Russians] have not refused to continue shelling our energy system. They are tied to certain dates. I think that the New Year is one of such dates when they will try to cause maximum damage to the energy system," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that about 9 million people in Ukraine remain cut off from the power supply.

6:49 a.m.: Russian forces shelled and bombed eastern and southern Ukraine Tuesday, Reuters reports, a day after Russia's foreign minister said Kyiv must accept Moscow's demands for ending the war or suffer defeat on the battlefield.

6:08 a.m.:

5:30 a.m.: Russia's budget deficit could be wider than a planned 2% of GDP in 2023 as an oil price cap squeezes export income, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, an extra fiscal hurdle for Moscow as it spends heavily on its military activities in Ukraine.

Reuters reported that his comments represented Moscow's clearest acknowledgement yet that the $60 per barrel cap, imposed on December 5 by the Group of Seven, European Union and Australia with the aim of limiting Russia's ability to fund the military campaign, could indeed hit state finances.

Russia last week said price caps on its crude and refined products could see it cut oil output by 5%-7% early next year. But regardless of how deep the cuts are, Siluanov said spending commitments would be met, tapping debt markets and the country's rainy day fund as needed.

"Is a bigger budget deficit possible? It is possible, if revenues are lower than planned. What are the risks next year? Price risks and restrictions," Siluanov told reporters in comments cleared for publication on Tuesday.

4:55 a.m.:

4:25 a.m.: The United States has committed $19 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 — an average of $2 billion per month.

VOA’s Carla Babb looks back on how that $19 billion has been spent on the battlefield over the past year and what’s still to come.

3:45 a.m.:

3:20 a.m.:

2:50 a.m.: Russia does not intend to propose any new initiatives on strategic arms or security guarantees, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview published by the TASS news agency on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Lavrov also called on the West to exercise maximum restraint in the "highly sensitive" nuclear sphere.

2:22 a.m.: The United States and its NATO allies together with Ukraine want to defeat Russia "on the battlefield" in order to destroy it, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the state TASS agency in remarks published Monday, according to Reuters.

"The actions of the countries of the collective West and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy under their control confirm the global nature of the Ukrainian crisis," Lavrov said.

"It is no secret to anyone that the strategic goal of the United States and its NATO allies is to defeat Russia on the battlefield as a mechanism for significantly weakening or even destroying our country," Lavrov continued.

1:50 a.m.:

1:25 a.m.: On Monday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a phone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to a statement from the Indian government, during the conversation Modi “strongly reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities” and emphasized his support for any peace efforts.

VOA’s Anjana Pasricha has the story:

12:45 a.m.:

12:05 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that power shortages were persisting, with nearly nine million people remaining without electricity.

Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that power workers repairing the grid after repeated Russian attacks had reconnected many people over Christmas but problems remained, Reuters reported.

"Naturally, shortages persist. Blackouts are continuing," he said.

"The situation as of this evening in different regions of Ukraine is that nearly nine million people are without electricity. But the numbers and the length of the blackouts are gradually decreasing."

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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