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The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.
11:15 p.m.: A court in Norway acquitted Andrei Yakunin, son of a former close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was charged with flying a drone over Svalbard despite a ban, his lawyer said Wednesday, according to AFP.
Yakunin, 47, was arrested in October and accused of using drones during a trip to the Arctic archipelago last summer aboard his Firebird luxury yacht.
He is the son of the former head of the Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin, who is sometimes described as a confidant of Putin.
Norway has banned Russian citizens and organizations from flying over its territory following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a rule that also applied to the use of drones.
But the Nord-Troms og Senja court ruled "Yakunin did not commit a criminal act," his lawyers said in a statement.
10:30 p.m.: A lawsuit in Britain against Russian private military contractor Wagner could help Ukrainians seek reparations for alleged crimes committed during Russia's invasion, a lawyer whose firm filed the suit said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Jason McCue said the lawsuit initiated in Britain's High Court last month on behalf of alleged Wagner victims would target what Kyiv says are the group's global assets and aim to tie Moscow up in courts.
Other suits would follow, with the intention of damaging Russian President Vladimir Putin's "war machine," he said.
Wagner representatives could not be reached for comment.
9:02 p.m.: Western officials are in talks with Turkish counterparts to resolve oil tanker lines off Turkey, a British Treasury official said, after the G-7 and European Union rolled out new restrictions on December 5 aimed at Russian oil exports.
"The UK, U.S. and EU are working closely with the Turkish government and the shipping and insurance industries to clarify the implementation of the Oil Price Cap and reach a resolution," the official told Reuters. "There is no reason for ships to be denied access to the Bosporus Straits for environmental or health and safety concerns."
U.S. officials did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The G-7 group of countries, the European Union and Australia have agreed to bar shipping service providers like insurers from helping export Russian oil unless it is sold at an enforced low price, or cap, in a bid to deprive Moscow of wartime revenue.
But a separate Turkish measure in force since the start of the month has caused a logjam, requiring vessels to provide proof they have insurance covering the duration of their transit through the Bosphorus strait or when calling at Turkish ports.
At least 20 oil tankers continue to face delays to cross from Russia's Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean as operators race to adhere to the Turkish rules.
8:10 p.m.: An alleged Russian intelligence agent was charged with violating U.S. sanctions and money laundering by purchasing two condominiums in Beverly Hills, California, and concealing his involvement, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Andrii Derkach, who is at large, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in September 2020 for being an active Russian agent for over a decade and for assisting the Kremlin's efforts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election.
The indictment unsealed on Wednesday said that since 2013 Derkach has used overseas accounts in Latvia and Switzerland belonging to companies registered in the British Virgin Islands to pay for the purchase and maintenance of the properties.
Derkach has previously denied wrongdoing and said he has been targeted for exposing corruption. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
The charges come as the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to use criminal charges and asset seizures targeting wealthy and powerful individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin to pressure Moscow to halt its invasion of Ukraine.
7:22 p.m.: Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Wednesday dismissed criticism by Ukraine's president about his office's preparations for a winter of Russian air strikes, Reuters reported.
Klitschko was chided by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in one of his nightly video addresses to Ukrainians last week, when he accused city authorities of failing to provide enough shelters despite the energy system being pounded by Russian attacks.
Officials are rolling out special "heating points" to provide people with warmth and electricity in case Russian missile strikes on critical infrastructure cause sweeping blackouts.
In an interview with Reuters, Klitschko responded to the accusations by saying Kyiv had considerably more heating hubs than any other city in Ukraine.
Klitschko, in his ninth year as mayor, was seen as one of Zelenskyy's highest-profile opponents before Russia invaded Ukraine
"I am convinced that politics is behind this, because representatives of one political group began to run around trying to find faults (in Kyiv)," he said.
6:34 p.m.: The EU's executive arm on Wednesday proposed imposing sanctions on Russia's armed forces, three banks and scores of officials, in the latest salvo from Brussels against the Kremlin's war on Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Russia continues to bring deaths and devastation to Ukraine. It is deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. "But we stand by Ukraine, and we will make Russia pay for its cruelty."
The EU so far has imposed eight waves of sanctions on Russia since it launched the full-scale invasion in February, including targeting its key oil exports.
EU ambassadors were to start discussing the new, proposed package late Wednesday. The agreement requires unanimity of all 27 member countries.
Von der Leyen said the EU would now look to add "almost 200 individuals and entities" to its visa ban and asset freeze blacklist, including military officers, ministers, and defense firms.
The commission was also proposing sanctions on three additional banks, including the Russian Regional Development Bank.
6 p.m.: A convicted felon suspected of firing at Russian police with a machine gun in a region bordering Ukraine has been detained, investigators said on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse.
Separately, a Telegram channel close to Russia's security services said the 38-year-old suspect was a member of the Wagner mercenary group whose forces have been at the forefront of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.
The man has been detained in the village of Kiselyovo in the southern Rostov region bordering Ukraine, said the Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes.
The man is suspected of shooting at police officers with a machine gun and injuring one of them in the city of Novoshakhtinsk on Tuesday, investigators said.
4:34 p.m.: Vitalii Kim, the head of the Mykolaiv Regional Military Administration, said Wednesday that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have all entrances to the Kinburn Spit under their control, disabling any supplies by Russian forces to that territory. Kinburn Spit is the last piece of land in the Mykolaiv region still occupied by Russian forces, according to VOA’s Anna Chernikova in Ukraine.
Russian forces remain on the Kinburn Spit despite the recent liberation of part of the Kherson region and the city of Kherson by the Ukrainian army.
Ukrainian military officials previously confirmed that the goal of the Ukrainian forces is to liberate the Mykolaiv region completely. They also confirmed that the military operation for the liberation of the Kinburn Spit is ongoing but said no further details would be provided until its completion.
3:57 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed the annexation of Ukrainian territories as a major achievement and said his country’s nuclear weapons serve as a tool of deterrence in the war that the Kremlin calls a “special military operation,” The Associated Press reported.
Speaking with members of the presidential Human Rights Council, Putin described the land gains as “a significant result for Russia,” noting that the “Sea of Azov has become Russia’s internal sea.” He added that “Peter the Great fought to get access to the Sea of Azov.”
Russia seized broad swaths of southern Ukraine in the opening days of its invasion of Ukraine and captured the key Sea of Azov port of Mariupol in May after a nearly three-month siege. In late September, Putin illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine: Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south, and Donetsk and Luhansk in the east.
Asked by a member of the Human Rights Council to pledge that Russia would not be the first to use nuclear weapons, Putin demurred, saying Russia would not be able to use nuclear weapons at all if it agreed not to use them first and then came under a nuclear strike.
3:15 p.m.: The European Union on Wednesday proposed travel bans and asset freezes on almost 200 more Russian officials and military officers as part of a new round of sanctions aimed at ramping up pressure on Moscow over its war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
The proposals were made by the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission. They must still be debated and endorsed by the 27 member countries, a process that routinely results in the commission’s suggestions getting watered down.
The targets of the latest recommended sanctions include government ministers, lawmakers, regional governors and political parties.
2:30 p.m.: Serhiy Mak said he spent 25 days locked in the cellar of an office building in Kherson, southern Ukraine, where he was tortured by a Russian man nicknamed "The Specialist." Mak spoke to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty after Ukrainian forces liberated the city from Russian occupation.
1:55 p.m.: Canada and the Netherlands have filed a joint declaration of intervention in Ukraine’s genocide case against Russia at International Court of Justice (ICJ), the countries said in a joint statement on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“Canada and the Netherlands avail themselves of the right to intervene in this case ... in order to place their interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) before the court,” the countries said in the statement.
1:25 p.m.: Kyiv's mayor warned on Wednesday of an "apocalypse" scenario for the Ukrainian capital this winter if Russian air strikes on infrastructure continue but said there was no need for residents to evacuate now, though they should be ready to do so, Reuters reported.
"Kyiv might lose power, water, and heat supply. The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it's not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature," Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Reuters in an interview.
"But we are fighting and doing everything we can to make sure that this does not happen," the former boxer went on to say, raising his booming voice to drive the point home.
Even so, the picture is bleak: the capital lacks enough heated shelters to take in all 3.6 million residents in the event of completes outages and people should be ready to evacuate if the situation worsens, Klitschko said.
12:50 p.m.: A Russian military officer who illegally crossed into Kazakhstan because he objected to the invasion of Ukraine has been detained there, his family said, leaving Kazakh authorities with a diplomatic dilemma over whether to hand him over to Moscow, Reuters reported.
Hundreds of thousands of Russians fled to Kazakhstan and other neighboring states after the war started. Many of them were civilians, crossing legally as they sought to avoid a Russian mobilization order.
As an army officer, Major Zhilin, 36, was barred from leaving Russia and he illegally crossed into Kazakhstan in September when it became clear he could be sent to Ukraine, his wife Yekaterina told Reuters.
She travelled to Kazakhstan legally with their two children.
“As someone who disagrees with the actions of the Russian leadership with regards to Ukraine, I could not legally leave Russia even if I had resigned from military service because I am barred from doing so as a person who has access to classified information,” she quoted him as saying.
12:35 p.m.: Soviet-era T-72 tanks are getting new optics, armor, and more at a Czech facility in Sternberk, thanks in part to the efforts of Ukrainian refugees working there. Some 150 people have been hired by Excalibur Army in the effort to modernize old military equipment from around the world, which is shipped to Ukraine after months of work on upgrades. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
12:20 p.m. A Russian woman was among more than two dozen suspects detained in Germany on Wednesday during nationwide raids on an extremist group linked to the Reichsbuerger movement that allegedly aimed to overthrow the government, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
According to German prosecutors, the detained Russian citizen is suspected of facilitating unsuccessful attempts to make contact between a would-be group leader and Russian officials.
The Russian Embassy in Berlin has denied any links with the group, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the arrests an internal issue for Germany.
11:45 a.m.: Russian shelling killed at least six people and set buildings ablaze in the town of Kurakhove in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskyy's office, put the death toll higher. He said eight people had been killed and five wounded in the attack, in which a market, bus station, petrol stations and residential buildings came under fire.
"Terrorists attacked the peaceful town of Kurakhove, Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app under video footage of buildings in flames. "Terrorists are inhuman. And they will be held to account for it."
Kurakhove is in the Donetsk region, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24. Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians but cities across Ukraine have been pummeled by Russian forces, Reuters reported.
11:15 a.m.: The United States has made clear to Ukraine its concerns about any escalation of the war with Russia, but it respects Ukrainian sovereignty, including decisions about how Kiev uses weapons supplied by Washington, the White House's national security spokesman said.
"We have been consistent on our concerns over escalation. We have not encouraged them to do that," John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday, after apparent Ukrainian drone strikes on two airbases deep inside Russia, Reuters reported.
"When we give them a weapons system, it belongs to them. Where they use it, how they use it, how much ammunition they use to use that system, those are Ukrainian decisions, and we respect that," he said.
He said the United States has had conversations with Ukraine about accountability of weapons systems and made clear U.S. concerns about escalating the war. "But in the end these are Ukrainian decisions that they have to make."
11 a.m.: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said “Russia is trying to freeze the conflict” in Ukraine, in order to “regroup and launch a bigger offensive later on because Ukraine now has the momentum.” He was speaking at a Financial Times’ Global Boardroom event via video link, according to a NATO statement.
Stoltenberg said Ukraine would decide on the timing and subject of any negotiation with Russia. “The more we want a peaceful solution, the more urgent it is that we provide military support to Ukraine,” he added.
10:50 a.m.: A Ukrainian priest from a church affiliated with Russia has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of assisting Russians, the Prosecutor General's Office said on Wednesday.
Ukraine's government has been tasked with drawing up a law on banning churches affiliated with Russia under moves portrayed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as necessary to prevent Moscow being able to "weaken Ukraine from within," Reuters reported.
The priest, from the eastern Luhansk region, was not named and could not be reached for comment. He had been collecting information on equipment and weapons held by the Ukrainian military since mid-April, the state prosecutors said. "The enemy used the information to establish the location and fire on targets," they wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
10:35 a.m.: Samaritan’s Purse, which describes itself as a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to people around the world, said in a statement Wednesday that as of this week, it has distributed more than 45,000 metric tons of food aid to Ukraine.
"As winter sets in, things in Ukraine are only getting worse," Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, said in the statement. "Many areas have lost electricity and food is impossible to buy in parts of the country closer to the fighting.”
Graham called for “an end to the conflict that has brought so much pain and devastation.”
Samaritan's Purse has also flown emergency relief supplies to Ukraine on 38 airlifts, treated more than 23,000 patients and performed more than 250 surgeries in two inpatient and six outpatient facilities, and provided 30 million liters of clean water, the organization said.
10:20 a.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shared a video on Twitter Wednesday showing teams packing food and livelihood assistance to be delivered to Ukrainians in need of help.
10:10 a.m.: A series of suspicious packages sent to Ukrainian embassies all bore the address of a Tesla car dealership in Germany and were usually sent from post offices without video surveillance, Ukraine's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Facebook that 31 Ukrainian missions in 15 countries had received such packages in what he called a "campaign of terror against Ukrainian diplomats," according to Reuters.
Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia, said last week "bloody packages" containing animal eyes had been sent to some of its missions in Europe, soon after a letter bomb detonated at its embassy in Spain and police defused others sent to, among others, Spain's prime minister.
9:45 a.m.: The United States has not seen evidence that Iran has transferred ballistic missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine, the White House said on Wednesday.
John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, told reporters the United States has seen the continued provision of Iranian drones to Russia, according to Reuters.
"We know that their defense industrial base is being taxed," Kirby said of Russia. "We know they're having trouble keeping up with that pace. We know that he's (Russian President Vladimir Putin's) having trouble replenishing specifically precision guided munitions."
9:30 a.m.: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday that the Russian war in Ukraine is damaging the environment and killing wildlife. He posted a video on Twitter by United24media which reports on some of the ecological damage done.
9:10 a.m.: President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would fight to defend its interests using all available means, Reuters reported.
Putin was speaking at a televised annual session of his Human Rights Council where he complained that Western rights organizations viewed Russia as "a second-class country that has no right to exist at all."
"This is what we are dealing with," Putin said. "There can be only one answer from our side - a consistent struggle for our national interests. We will do just that. And let no one count on anything else."
8:35 a.m.: Time magazine named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 2022's "Person of the Year" on Wednesday, saying he inspired Ukrainians and won global accolades for his courage in resisting Russia's devastating invasion.
Refusing to leave Ukraine's capital of Kyiv at the outbreak of the war as Russian bombs rained down, the former comedian rallied his compatriots in broadcasts from the capital and traveled across his war-torn nation, the publication noted in bestowing its annual title.
8:15 a.m.: Russian forces killed at least 441 civilians in the early days of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations human rights office said on Wednesday, documenting attacks in dozens of towns and summary executions that it said might be war crimes.
The actual number of victims in the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions was likely to be much higher, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a report looking into the invasion's start on February 24 until early April, when Russian forces withdrew from the three areas.
"The acts in question were committed by Russian armed forces in control of these areas and led to the deaths of 441 civilians (341 men, 72 women, 20 boys and 8 girls)," the report said, according to Reuters.
"There are strong indications that the summary executions documented in the report constitute the war crime of wilful killing," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a statement.
Through the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), OHCHR gathered evidence from 102 towns and villages.
7:25 a.m.: Pope Francis on Wednesday compared the war in Ukraine to a Nazi operation that killed some two million people, mostly Jews, in the first years of World War Two, Reuters reported.
Speaking to Polish pilgrims at his weekly general audience, Francis noted that the Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland, had recently commemorated the anniversary of Operation Reinhard.
It was the code name for a secret operation in a part of occupied Poland which the Germans called the "General Government" area, that included territory now in Ukraine.
"May the memory of this horrible event arouse intentions and actions of peace in everyone," he said, specifically mentioning the operation, saying it was one of "extermination."
He then went off script to add: "And history is repeating itself. We see now what is happening in Ukraine."
7:10 a.m.: Russian forces attacked several Ukrainian regions with kamikaze drones and heavy artillery, officials said on December 7, killing two people and wounding several others, as heavy fighting continued in the east a day after Moscow accused Kyiv of hitting an airfeld inside Russia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
In Kherson, Russian troops shelled the region 51 times the previous day, killing two people, Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the regional military administration, said on Wednesday.
Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said all Russian drones were destroyed by Ukrainian forces in the overnight attack.
"Military men from the East air command did a great job. We shot down all eight enemy drones that the enemy directed at the area,"Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.
He said Russian shelling targeted the Nikopol district and city, causing damage to gas pipelines, houses, and farm buildings, but no people were wounded.
Russian troops also shelled two settlements in the Zaporizhzhya region, the head of the regional military administration, Oleksandr Starukh, said on December 7.
6:25 a.m.: The Kremlin on Wednesday said that a U.S. military aid spending bill providing $800 million to Ukraine approved by U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday was “confrontational” towards Russia, Reuters reported.
In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The document that has been adopted is of an extremely confrontational nature in relation to our country.”
The Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizes the additional spending for Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, an increase of $500 million over U.S. President Joe Biden’s request earlier this year.
The bill also suspends some restrictions on contracts for munitions to support Ukraine.
It is expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives this month and be sent to the White House for Biden to sign into law.
5:05 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia has been assessing different options regarding how to respond to caps on its oil price, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who spoke to the state-owned RIA news agency.
A $60-per-barrel price cap set by the G-7 nations, the European Union and Australia came into force on Monday as they try to limit Russia’s ability to finance its military operation in Ukraine.
4:30 a.m.: Russia's Gazprom said on Wednesday that it will ship 42.4 million cubic meters of gas to Europe via Ukraine today, a volume in line with recent days, Reuters reported.
3:30 a.m.: 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, according to Reuters.
"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 movement of citizens (transport) along certain public roads and areas would be restricted and the use of imitation weapons for training purposes is planned."
There was no information on what parts of the country could be affected.
Belarus has said it will not enter the war in neighboring Ukraine, but President Alexander Lukashenko has in the past ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing threats to Belarus from Kyiv and the West.
Belarus and Russia are formally part of a "union state" and are closely allied economically and militarily, with Russia using Belarus as a staging post for its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine has been warning for months that it fears that Belarus and Russia could be planning a joint incursion across Ukraine’s northern border.
Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held talks with his Belarusian counterpart, Viktor Khrenin, to discuss military cooperation.
3:15 a.m.: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is among those nominated for a “Ripple of Hope” award by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation, which honors leaders across government, business, advocacy and entertainment who have shown an "unwavering commitment to social change."
2:30 a.m.: A third Russian airfield was set ablaze by a drone strike a day after Ukraine demonstrated an apparent new ability to penetrate hundreds of kilometers into Russia with attacks on two air bases, Reuters reported.
Officials in the Russian city of Kursk, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Ukraine's border, released pictures of black smoke above an airfield after the latest strike on Tuesday. The governor said an oil storage tank had gone up in flames but there were no casualties.
On Monday, Russia said it had been hit hundreds of kilometers from Ukraine by what it said were Soviet-era drones — at Engels air base, home to Russia's strategic bomber fleet, and in Ryazan, a few hours' drive from Moscow.
Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility for the strikes but nonetheless celebrated them.
1:30 a.m.: China's trade with Russia grew at a slower pace in November, as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, global recession risks and strict COVID restrictions in some Chinese cities weighed on demand abroad and at home, Reuters reported.
Shipments of Chinese goods to Russia rose 17.9% year-on-year in dollar terms, slowing from 34.6% in October, but still marking the fifth monthly double-digit growth in a row, according to Reuters calculations based on Chinese customs data on Wednesday.
Imports from Russia soared 28.5% in November from a year earlier, slower than the 36% gain in October, as COVID-19 flare-ups and related curbs weighed on domestic demand.
Shipments of Chinese goods to Russia have maintained double-digit growth since July, as Russian imports from the European Union contracted under a raft of sanctions.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a video conference on Monday told his Russian counterpart the two countries should steadily advance cooperation projects in key areas and step up their economic and trade cooperation.
1:10 a.m.: The United States military is studying the rate of munitions used in Russia’s war in Ukraine to ensure that the Pentagon is accurately calculating the weapons it would need in case of any future conflicts or operations, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Western officials have said that Russia has depleted a significant proportion of its precision-guided ammunition in its invasion of Ukraine and its industry cannot produce all of the kinds of ammunition and weapon systems because of Western sanctions.
Ukraine, which is being armed by Western countries, is also using artillery and other types of munitions at a rapid rate.
The United States military has contingency plans for potential conflicts around the world, that include how many troops, pieces of equipment and munitions could be required.
"We are going through a study, an analysis right now, to ensure that our war plans, our contingency plans, which we have multiples around the world in different theaters, to make sure that we’ve done the right math, the right estimates," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said at an event.
12:30 a.m.: The National Bank of Ukraine announced on Tuesday that the country had $27.95 billion in foreign reserves as of December 1, Reuters reported.
That figure topped the $27.42 billion in state coffers on the morning of Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the bank said in a statement.
It also said its reserves had grown 10.7% in November.
12:25 a.m.: The U.S. Congress is now considering the White House’s request for $38 billion in additional support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia aggression. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Senator Jim Risch say they believe the aid will be approved in the coming weeks.
The two senators have been strong supporters of aid to Ukraine, part of bipartisan congressional support that, if the latest appropriation bill passes, will deliver more than $100 billion in aid to Ukraine this year.
The senators sat down with VOA Georgian Service’s managing editor Ia Meurmishvili on November 30 to discuss U.S. policy toward Ukraine and Russia, and the likelihood that Congress will continue backing Ukraine in 2023.
Shaheen said the lessons from World War II are still relevant in the context of Ukraine, and the West must stop Russia before it invades other countries in Europe. On providing arms to Ukraine, Risch said the U.S. should not engage in self-deterrence out of concern that Russia may escalate the war. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin should instead be thinking about how to avoid U.S. escalation.
12:15 a.m.: The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of 116 M1A1 Abrams tanks, other vehicles and munitions to Poland in a deal valued at up to $3.75 billion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The sale comes just months after Poland was authorized to buy 250 M1A2 tanks. With this new option, Poland could elect to buy a mix of the two tank versions as it seeks to modernize its military and adjust to new geopolitical realities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The package would include vehicles to recover disabled tanks, eight assault bridges and other vehicles. It would also provide thousands of rounds of advanced munitions including armor-piercing rounds, spares and technical support, the Pentagon said.
Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.
12:05 a.m.: Poland’s defense minister said Tuesday that his country will accept a Patriot missile defense system that Germany offered to deploy to Poland last month, The Associated Press reported.
The German offer was made after an errant missile fell in Poland near the border with Ukraine, killing two Polish men. Poland and NATO have said they believe it was a Ukrainian missile that misfired as the country was protecting itself from a missile barrage on November 15.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak had initially said that he accepted the offer, but the leader of Poland’s powerful ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said he thought the Patriot system should be placed in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Blaszczak said on Twitter he was sorry Germany did not want to place the Patriot system in Ukraine. But that German and Polish defense ministries were proceeding “with arrangements regarding the placement of the launchers in Poland.”
An opinion poll published this week showed significant support by regular Poles for having the German rocket launcher located in Poland, where it will beef up defenses already enhanced by Poland and the United States since Russia's full invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.