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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 3

A Ukrainian serviceman sets up a Stugna-P anti-tank guided missile launcher in a frontline, in Donetsk region, Jan. 3, 2023.
A Ukrainian serviceman sets up a Stugna-P anti-tank guided missile launcher in a frontline, in Donetsk region, Jan. 3, 2023.

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

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

11 p.m.: Germany has recorded its highest annual inflation in more than 70 years, The Associated Press reported.

Preliminary data released Tuesday by the country’s Federal Statistical Office showed that surging energy and food prices due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine saw full-year inflation reach 7.9% in 2022.

The last time annual inflation was near that level was in 1951, when it stood at 7.6% as the post-war economic boom began. Annual inflation in 2021 stood at 3.1%. The preliminary data showed inflation slowed somewhat in December, to 8.6% compared to the same month in the previous year, as one-off government payments to help consumers pay their heating and gas bills took effect. In October monthly inflation reached a record 10.4% before dipping to 10% in November.

10:17 p.m.: Britain said on Tuesday it was committed to leading a NATO task force in 2024, dismissing a report by Berlin-based Table.Media that British delays had prompted the German defense ministry to look into extending its leadership beyond 2023, Reuters reported.

"The U.K. is ready to honor our commitment to lead NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2024, any suggestion otherwise is completely untrue," a spokesperson for Britain's Ministry of Defense said.

"NATO is currently reviewing its military plans and force model which may affect their requests to Alliance members," the spokesperson added.

Citing German army sources, the Table.Media news outlet reported earlier on Tuesday that Britain would take over leadership in 2024 several months later than planned.

9:10 p.m.:

8 p.m.: Russia's defense ministry said on Wednesday that 89 servicemen were killed in the Ukrainian attack on Makiivka in the Moscow-controlled parts of the Donetsk region, adding the main reason for the attack was unauthorized use of mobile phones by the troops, Reuters reported.

"It is already obvious that the main reason for what happened was the switching on and massive use - contrary to the prohibition - by personnel of mobile phones in a reach zone of enemy weapons," the ministry said in a statement.

"This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers' location for a missile strike."

The strike just after midnight on New Year's Day on a school that was converted into military quarters in Makiivka has spurred anger among Russian nationalists and some lawmakers, questioning the military strategy used there. Russia previously said 63 Russian soldiers were killed.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.

7:12 p.m.: The first regular shipment of liquefied natural gas from the United States has arrived in Germany, The Associated Press reported.

It's part of a wide-reaching effort to help the country replace energy supplies it previously received from Russia. The vessel arrived Tuesday at the port of Wilhelmshaven where its shipment of LNG will be converted back into gas at a special floating terminal that was inaugurated last month.

Germany has rushed to find a replacement for Russian gas supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The facility in Wilhelmshaven is one of several such terminals being put in place to help avert an energy supply shortage. Germany has also temporarily reactivated old oil- and coal-fired power stations and extended the life of its last three nuclear power plants until mid-April.

6:08 p.m.:

5:05 p.m.: Ukraine's government plans to accelerate the country's transition to clean and green energy as it tries to strengthen the national power network against Russian attacks, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Ukraine, which was invaded by Russian forces last February, faces an energy shortage and blackouts following Russian missile and drone strikes, which Ukrainian officials say have damaged about 40% of the national energy infrastructure.

"Plans for the decarbonization of energy and the green transformation remain relevant. The war has made these challenges even more urgent," Shmyhal said in a government meeting.

Shmyhal said creating the conditions to build mini-electricity stations and small generating facilities would be a priority this year.

The government is also focused on repairing damage and strengthening security at energy facilities, especially at nuclear power plants, he said.

4:14 p.m.: President Vladimir Putin ordered his government on Tuesday to ensure by February the screening in cinemas of documentary films dedicated to his assault on Ukraine and the fight against "neo-Nazi" ideology, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Kremlin said in a statement that the culture ministry had until February 1 to implement the order.

Putin ordered the defense ministry to render assistance to Russian filmmakers who will produce documentaries dedicated to "the heroism of the participants of the special military operation," the Kremlin said, using the official term for the offensive.

Since the start of Moscow's military campaign, state television channels have ramped up propaganda lauding Russian troops fighting in Ukraine as heroes.

Independent media outlets have been suspended or shut down in Russia, with many journalists leaving the country.

Criticism of the offensive in Ukraine is now punishable with jail time, while words such as "war" and "invasion" are banned.

3:22 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to talk to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax news agency on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The two leaders have had several phone calls since Russia invaded Ukraine last February. Turkey acted as mediator alongside the United Nations in 2022 to set up a deal allowing grain exports from Ukrainian ports.

2:30 p.m.:

2:05 p.m.: Emergency crews on Tuesday sifted through the rubble of a building struck by Ukrainian rockets, killing at least 63 Russian soldiers barracked there, in the latest blow to the Kremlin’s war strategy as Ukraine says Moscow’s tactics could be shifting, The Associated Press reported.

An Associated Press video of the scene in Makiivka, a town in the partially Russian-occupied eastern Donetsk region, showed five cranes and emergency workers removing big chunks of concrete under a clear blue sky.

In the attack, which apparently happened last weekend, Ukrainian forces fired rockets from a U.S.-provided HIMARS multiple launch system, according to a Russian Defense Ministry statement.

It was one of the deadliest attacks on the Kremlin’s forces since the war began more than 10 months ago and an embarrassment that stirred renewed criticism inside Russia of the way the war is being conducted.

The Russian statement Monday about the attack provided few other details. Other, unconfirmed reports put the death toll much higher.

1:40 p.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spoke with some Ukrainian civilians whose homes were damaged by Russian shelling, noting that aid organizations are trying to provide assistance to help families make critical repairs.

1:25 p.m.: A little known patriotic group which supports the widows of Russian soldiers has called on President Vladimir Putin to order a large-scale mobilization of millions of men and to close the borders to ensure victory in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Putin, Russia's 70-year-old paramount leader, is under intense pressure to deliver victory in Ukraine more than 10 months since he sent troops as part of an operation he says was intended to defend Russians in eastern Ukraine.

"We ask our President, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, to allow the Russian Army to carry out a large-scale mobilization," the Soldiers' Widows of Russia group said in a post on Telegram.

"We ask our President, our Supreme Commander-in-Chief, to prohibit the departure of men of military age from Russia. And we have a full moral right to do this: our husbands died protecting these men, but who will protect us if they run away?"

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the appeal from the widows' group. Putin said last month that there was no need for an additional mobilization.

1:10 p.m.:

12:55 p.m.: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the Ukrainian president can count on Britain for support over the long run following recent drone attacks, Sunak's office said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"The leaders discussed the abhorrent drone attacks on Ukraine in recent days," the spokesperson said in a statement issued after the two leaders spoke earlier in the day.

"The Prime Minister said Ukraine could count on the U.K. to continue to support it for the long term, as demonstrated by the recent delivery of more than 1000 anti-air missiles."

12:40 p.m.: A song by Tajik rapper Suhrob Soliev about a Tajik man sent to fight in Ukraine with the Russian Army has become popular on social media. The song by Soliev, AKA Master Sura, was based on a conversation with a real Tajik soldier who contacted the rapper from a hospital. The injured soldier was later killed after returning to the front line. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

12:20 p.m.: A Ukrainian official said 3,392 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians remain in Russian captivity, the Kyiv Independent reported Tuesday.

“Previous reports said that nearly 3,400 Ukrainian soldiers were in captivity. President’s Commissioner for Protecting Defenders Rights Alyona Verbytska clarified that the number includes civilians,” the media organization said on Twitter.

12:05 p.m.:

11:50 a.m.: Young acrobats from circus schools across Ukraine dazzled audiences in Budapest this week when the city hosted a Ukrainian youth circus festival to showcase the talents of children forced by the war to train underground or without electricity, Reuters reported.

After months of practice in their home cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Dnipro, Odesa and Donetsk, the children aged between 6 and 17 gave more than 30 performances alongside competitors from Hungary, Switzerland, Mexico and Italy at Budapest's Capital Circus.

"As these children are training in air raid shelters by candlelight from morning to night, [we thought] there must be a place where they can show their talent and knowledge," Budapest Circus director Peter Fekete said.

"We must give them faith that it is worth doing the work, it is worth the training, so we stopped our regular program for two days this January and ... handed over the circus to our Ukrainian friends."

11:35 a.m.:

11:10 a.m.: A Russian missile attack destroyed an ice arena in the town of Druzhkivka in Ukraine's Donetsk region on Monday, the Ukrainian ice hockey federation said, after earlier reports of a missile hitting the town and injuring two people.

"So it is that since the start of the war, the Russian occupiers have destroyed five ice stadiums," the federation said on its Telegram channel, naming them as the Druzhba venue in Donetsk, arenas in Mariupol and Melitopol, the Ice Palace in Sievierodonetsk and now the Altair arena in Druzhkivka.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reacted to Monday's attack with a scathing post on Twitter in which he blasted resistance to Ukraine's calls to exclude Russian athletes from international sporting events.

10:50 a.m.: A documentary released by independent journalist Jake Hanrahan details the Russian saboteurs undermining Putin's war effort, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Tuesday.

Mystery fires that have broken out across Russia in recent months have been blamed on Ukrainian saboteurs and even Western intelligence operatives. But a new documentary by British filmmaker Jake Hanrahan suggests a "large-scale, active resistance inside Russia" is now being waged by Russia's own citizens.

"There's this thing like, 'Well, it must be the CIA,'" Hanrahan told RFE/RL when asked about the spate of attacks on war-related infrastructure inside Russia. "How about, 'No'? How about some Russians are genuinely so sick of Putin that they're going to do something about it."

In the new film, Russia's Anti-Putin Underground, which was released on YouTube on January 3, two Russian "partisans" meet with Hanrahan in a snowy forest in Eastern Europe, near the border with Russia. With their faces masked and voices disguised, they detail the sabotage actions they claim to have taken part in directly

10:20 a.m.:

10 a.m.: French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that she was more confident over the situation of French energy supplies for the next few weeks, citing lower consumption and an increase in nuclear output capacity, Reuters reported.

Borne also told Franceinfo radio that while inflation was expected to retreat after peaking in early 2023, the government would continue with plans to shield targeted consumers and businesses from rising power prices until the end of the year.

The government has set a target of cutting France's energy consumption by 10% by 2024 from 2019 levels, as part of a wide ranging plan that includes turning off lights and lowering thermostats to avoid power and gas cuts over the winter amid the war in Ukraine.

9:45 a.m.:

9:25 a.m.: Combing the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, a group of volunteers have made it their mission to search for the bodies of fallen soldiers and return them to their families, Reuters reports.

Despite the daily horrors of their work, members of the "Black Tulip" organization say they believe they are performing a good deed by giving relatives of missing troops a sense of closure.

"Their parents are waiting for them at home," said volunteer Artur Simeiko. "Then, they can be buried properly."

"They shouldn't lie in some forest, field, or on the street," he said.

Made up of around 100 volunteers, the group undertakes the at times dangerous task of locating and exhuming bodies of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers close to the front line.

9:05 a.m.:

8:50 a.m.: Germany's defense ministry is looking into whether it will need to extend its leadership of a NATO joint task force beyond 2023 due to delays by Britain, the next country in line to lead, Reuters reported, quoting Table.Media which cited German army sources.

Germany's Bundeswehr took over command of the Very High Joint Readiness Task Force (VJTF) for 12 months, which requires the leader to be operational within 48 to 72 hours. Germany is providing up to 2,700 soldiers as lead nation.

According to the sources, Britain will only be able to take over leadership in 2024, several months later than planned, the Table.Media news outlet said.

The VJTF was created after Russia unilaterally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and was deployed for the first time for collective defense after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

8:35 a.m.:

8:20 a.m.: Former women's world chess champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, who holds dual Russian-Swiss citizenship, will compete on Switzerland's female grandmasters' team as of January 1, 2024, the Swiss Chess Federation said in a statement on Tuesday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

According to the statement, Kosteniuk will play for the country's male grandmasters' team as well, "if need be."

Kosteniuk stopped representing Russia after her country launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February last year. She currently is playing under the flag of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the statement says.

8:10 a.m.:

7:40 a.m.: When more than 2,000 Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies specialists from around the world gather in Philadelphia later this year for their largest annual conference, Russia's invasion of Ukraine will dominate the discussion -- or loom large over the proceedings, at the very least, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

In Ukraine, Moscow's unprovoked war has killed tens of thousands of people and laid cities and towns to waste. At universities across the West, it has thrust Russia's history of imperialism and colonialism to the forefront of Slavic and Eurasian academic discussion -- from history and political science to art and literature.

The war is forcing scholars, departments, and university officials to question how they teach the history of Russia, the former Soviet Union, and the region, what textbooks and sources they use, whom they hire, which archives they mine for information, and even what departments should be named.

7:25 a.m.:

7:10 a.m.: A Ukrainian missile strike on January 1 against a vocational school in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region of Ukraine housing mobilized Russian troops has become one of the bloodiest incidents of Russia's nearly year-long war in Ukraine.

What do we know, and what do we not know, about what happened? Reuters has published this Factbox.

6:50 a.m.:

6:35 a.m.: The Russian military continued to launch attacks on mostly civilian targets in Ukraine over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military reported in its daily update on Tuesday, a day after the Russian military acknowledged large losses in one of Kyiv’s deadliest strikes since the start of the conflict 10 months ago, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

In its daily update on January 3, the General Staff of the Ukraine Armed Forces also said that the Russian military had launched six missile and 52 air strikes as well as 77 attacks from rocket launcher systems. It said that all six missile strikes and 30 of the air strikes targeted civilian infrastructure.

Ukrainian forces also shot down 27 Iranian Shahed drones launched by Russian forces, the General Staff added.

Elsewhere, the Russian military launched a rocket attack on the ice hockey arena in Druzhkivka, in the Donetsk region. The hockey club, Donbas, former champions of Ukraine’s top ice hockey league, had played there.

Russia appears to have stepped up its air strikes against civilian targets in the capital, Kyiv, and other cities in recent days.

6:15 a.m.: Even as Ukraine and the European Union plan for a summit in February, the ongoing costs of the war are taking their toll on Europeans throughout the continent. “Germans are squirreling away candles, Finns who own electric cars are asked not to heat them before climbing inside,” VOA’s Lisa Bryant reported.

Bryant examines the sacrifices many are making and possible divisions the crisis has sparked. As winter and hard times roll in, some analysts say European unity may show cracks.

6 a.m.:

5:30 a.m.:

5:10 a.m.: Russian nationalists and some lawmakers have demanded punishment for commanders they accused of ignoring dangers as anger grew over the killing of dozens of Russian soldiers in one of the deadliest strikes in Moscow's war on Ukraine, Reuters reported.

In a rare disclosure, Russia's defense ministry said 63 soldiers were killed on New Year's Eve in a fiery blast that destroyed a temporary barracks in a vocational college in Makiivka, twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and some Russian nationalist bloggers have put the death toll much higher, in the hundreds, though pro-Russian officials say such estimates are exaggerated.

Russian critics said the soldiers were being housed alongside an ammunition dump at the site, which the Russian defense ministry said was hit by four rockets fired from U.S.-made HIMARS launchers.

The strike on Makiivka came as Russia was launching what have become nightly waves of drone attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian officials said Russia had on Monday struck Ukraine-controlled parts of the Donetsk region, hitting the village of Yakovlivka, the city of Kramatorsk and destroying an ice rink in the town of Druzhkivka.

4:40 a.m.: During the first two days of the new year, which were marked by relentless nighttime drone attacks on Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure, the country's forces shot down more than 80 Iranian-made drones. Many believe there will be more to come.

Russia is preparing to step up its attacks on Ukraine using more of these Iranian-made exploding drones, The Associated Press cited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as saying in their new report, focusing on a potential tactical shift 11 months into the conflict.

4:04 a.m.:

3:38 a.m.:

3:02 a.m.:

2:32 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia's Gazprom said it would ship 42.2 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday, a similar volume to that reported in recent days.

2:05 a.m.: NATO countries will discuss their defense spending targets in the coming months as some of them call for turning a 2% target into a minimum figure, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the German news agency DPA, Reuters reported.

"Some allies are strongly in favor of turning the current 2% target into a minimum," DPA quoted Stoltenberg as saying in an interview published on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg said that he would head the negotiations. "We will meet, we will have ministerial meetings, we will have talks in capitals," he said.

He did not say which NATO countries were calling for a more ambitious target, according to DPA.

The NATO chief said he aimed to reach an agreement no later than NATO's next regular summit, which will be in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, on July 11-12.

1:30 a.m.:

1 a.m.: After it was liberated by Ukrainian soldiers in September, the discovery of a mass burial site and the corpses of torture victims made Izyum a byword for the alleged atrocities committed under Russian occupation.

Agence France-Presse interviewed one Izyum resident who opened up his cellar to friends and neighbors to shelter in during the Russian occupation. At one point, the 70-square-meter space housed over 60 people – including a months-old baby.

12:30 a.m.:

12:02 a.m.: Japan's "anti-Russian course" makes peace treaty talks impossible, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said in comments published by the state TASS news agency on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Russia and Japan have not formally ended World War Two hostilities because of their standoff over islands, seized by the Soviet Union at the end of the war, just off Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido.

The islands are known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories.

"It is absolutely obvious that it is impossible to discuss the signing of such a document (a peace treaty) with a state that takes openly unfriendly positions and allows itself direct threats against our country," Rudenko told TASS in an interview.

"We are not seeing signs of Tokyo moving away from the anti-Russian course and any attempt to rectify the situation."

Russia withdrew from its talks with Japan in March last year, following Japanese sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Japan reacted angrily to the talks, calling Moscow's move "unfair" and "completely unacceptable."

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

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