December 12, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Aditi Sangal and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 12:50 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022
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2:56 p.m. ET, December 12, 2022

Zelensky asks G7 to maintain support for Ukraine next year, outlines steps for securing peace

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood and Josh Pennington

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting of G7 leaders via video link in Kyiv on December 12. 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting of G7 leaders via video link in Kyiv on December 12.  (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the Group of Seven leaders Monday to maintain its support for Ukraine next year while outlining three steps for securing peace.

More military equipment: In a video statement, Zelensky said the first step is a “new force,” and he requested more military equipment from the G7.

“Russia still has the advantage in artillery and missiles, this is a fact,” Zelensky said in his statement. “Ukraine needs modern tanks — and I ask you to provide this defensive capability to us. It can be done right now.”

He also said Ukraine needed more “rocket artillery and more long-range missiles,” adding that Ukraine needs “constant artillery support with guns and shells.”

“The more effective we are with such weapons, the shorter the Russian aggression will be,” he said. 

Support for financial and energy stability: The second step, according to Zelensky, was for the leaders to maintain financial, energy and social stability next year.

 He also asked the G7 to commit to increasing the assistance of gas to Ukraine.

“The terror against our power plants forced us to use more gas than expected. This is why we need additional support over this particular winter,” Zelensky said. “We are talking about the volume of about 2 billion cubic meters of gas that has to be procured additionally.”

New diplomacy: In the third and final step, Zelensky said Ukraine would like to offer a peace solution, beginning with asking Russia to start withdrawing troops this Christmas. 

“I propose Russia to take a concrete and meaningful step toward a diplomatic settlement, which is being mentioned by Moscow so regularly,” he said. "Very soon we’ll have holidays celebrated by billions of people. Christmas — according to the Gregorian calendar or the New Year and Christmas — according to the Julian calendar," Zelensky said. 

“This is the time for normal people to think about peace, not aggression. I suggest Russia to at least try to prove that it is capable of abandoning the aggression.”
“If Russia withdraws its troops from Ukraine, it will ensure a lasting cessation of hostilities.”

More context: Earlier on Monday, G7 leaders pledged to give “unwavering support for and solidarity with Ukraine” by promising to boost the country with military and air-defense systems, condemning Russia’s ongoing “war of aggression.” 

1:51 p.m. ET, December 12, 2022

Moscow-appointed Kherson governor involved in car explosion, Russian state media reports 

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Denis Lapin in Kyiv

Vitaly Bulyuk, the Russian-appointed first deputy governor of Kherson region, has been involved in a car incident, Russian state media TASS and the occupied regions' official Telegram channel reported.

There are conflicting reports about the condition of Bulyuk. 

TASS is reporting, citing the head of the regional Ministry of Health Vadim Ilmiev, that Bulyuk has been injured in a “car explosion."

Ilmiev is quoted as saying, "he is wounded, his condition is stable, of moderate severity. He is in one of the medical institutions of the region." 

However, the occupied Kherson region's Telegram channel is reporting that Bulyuk “was not hurt” and “miraculously Vitaly Viktorivich was not injured. His life is not in danger at the moment”. 

The Telegram channel did report a few more details of the incident, saying it took place in the city of Skadovsk and that “one civilian was killed.” 

It was not immediately clear who the fatality was. 


1:45 p.m. ET, December 12, 2022

G7 leaders pledge "unwavering support" to Ukraine, including boosting air defense systems

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler in Berlin

The Group of Seven leaders (G7) pledged on Monday to give “unwavering support" and solidarity to Ukraine by promising to boost the country with military and air defense systems, condemning Russia’s ongoing “war of aggression.”

“We condemn Russia’s continuous inhumane and brutal attacks targeting critical infrastructure, in particular energy and water facilities, and cities across Ukraine, and recall that indiscriminate attacks and attacks on the civilian population or civilian objects, constitute a war crime,” a statement from the G7 leaders said. “We are determined to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure.” 

The statement also said the leaders are determined that Russia will ultimately need to pay for the restoration of critical infrastructure “damaged or destroyed” through the invasion.  

“We will hold President Putin and those responsible to account in accordance with international law,” the statement said. “We reiterate that Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable and that any use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons would be met with severe consequences.”

The G7 leaders also condemned Russia’s “continued seizure” of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, adding they support the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) efforts to establish a safety and security zone. 

“Russia can end this war immediately by ceasing its attacks against Ukraine and completely and unconditionally withdrawing its forces from the territory of Ukraine,” the statement said.

CNN reported earlier Monday that US President Joe Biden was among the G7 leaders that would join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the virtual meeting Monday, a senior administration official told CNN. Energy — both immediate assistance for Ukraine, as well as the European Union’s energy issues — were set to be key topics.

CNN's Betsy Klein and Phil Mattingly contributed reporting to this post.

2:09 p.m. ET, December 12, 2022

Biden: US will continue "sending material" to Ukraine, but not troops

From CNN's DJ Judd and Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden said Monday that there are no plans to send US troops to Ukraine.

“Are we sending troops to Ukraine? No, we’re sending material, like we have, millions of dollars,” Biden told reporters traveling with him in Virginia following a question about whether his administration is planning on sending to troops to Ukraine.

In November, the Biden administration called on Congress for additional funding to continue to support Ukraine.

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi detailing a $37.7 billion request for Ukraine aid.

The Ukraine request is spread across four US government departments, according to a fact sheet shared with CNN. Young wrote to Pelosi that the request would “ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons, and support it needs to defend itself, and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid. The request also addresses the critical global food and energy shortages caused by Russia’s invasion.”

It includes $21.7 for the Department of Defense that will be spent on “equipment for Ukraine, replenishment of Department of Defense stocks, and for continued military, intelligence and other defense support,” $14.5 billion for the State Department for “direct budget support to Ukraine, critical war time investments, security assistance, to strengthen global food security, and for humanitarian assistance,” $626 million for the Department of Energy “for nuclear security support to Ukraine and for modernizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and $900 million for the Department of Health and Human Services “to provide standard assistance health care and support services to Ukrainian parolees,” per the fact sheet.

12:01 p.m. ET, December 12, 2022

Exiled mayor of Melitopol says Russians are "redeploying" in the city

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

An image from social media shows an attack on Melitopol on December 11.
An image from social media shows an attack on Melitopol on December 11. (Citizen of Ukraine/Twitter)

Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, said in a Ukrainian TV interview that Russian troops in the city are “redeploying” and are now “panicking” given Ukrainian strikes on the city over the weekend.

Without providing any evidence he said, “they are busy moving their military groups to other places to try to hide them.”

Fedorov also gave an update on the number of injured and killed as a result of the missile attacks, “there are dozens of Russo-fascists killed, and there are wounded, who were taken to hospitals and to Crimea: about 200 Russo-fascists went to hospitals.”

The Russian-occupied city in southern Ukraine saw heavy shelling during the weekend, according to reports from both Russian and Ukrainian sources — but there were conflicting reports on injured and dead.

9:55 a.m. ET, December 12, 2022

US says "candid and substantive" meeting with China officials covered Ukraine war and North Korea threats

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The meetings between US and Chinese officials in recent days were “candid and substantive” a senior administration official said, adding that the two sides exchanged views on issues including Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and DPRK threats to regional security on the Korean peninsula. 

The meetings took place in Langfang, China, and they “are the latest in a series of engagements and part of our ongoing diplomacy with the PRC,” the official explained. The dialogue followed President Biden’s meeting with President Xi Jinping on November 14 on the margins of the G20 in Bali.

The US officials met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng on Dec. 11 and 12. The US delegation included Assistant Secretary Dan Kritenbrink, National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Laura Rosenberger, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for China and Taiwan China Coordinator Rick Waters.

One of the issues that the US side emphasized was the fact that “bringing home U.S. citizens who are wrongfully detained or subject to exit bans in China is a personal priority for the President,” the official said.

The US delegation also touched on topics and themes that have been ongoing themes in the Biden administration’s policy approach to China.

“As part of managing competition responsibly, Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink and Senior Director Rosenberger emphasized the importance of setting a floor under the bilateral relationship, to ensure that the United States and China maintain open lines of communication and manage the competition responsibly. They emphasized that competition must not veer into conflict,” the official said.

“Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink and Senior Director Rosenberger made clear that the United States would continue to compete vigorously, stand up for U.S. interests and values, defend the rules-based international order, and coordinate closely with allies and partners,” the official said.

After their meetings, Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink and Senior Director Rosenberger traveled to Seoul and Tokyo for consultations on a range of regional and bilateral issues from Dec 12 to 14, the official said.

8:59 a.m. ET, December 12, 2022

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN staff

Russian forces fired at least 30 shells in the central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, while freed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has joined a pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party. US President Joe Biden is one of a number of world leaders who will hold a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Russian forces strike central Ukraine: Heavy artillery fire, including Grad missiles, was reported in Dnipropetrovsk overnight, a Ukrainian military official said on Telegram Monday. The communities of Nikopol and Marhanets were impacted and at least 30 shells were fired, but there were no casualties.
  • Bout joins ultranationalist party: Freed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was exchanged in a prisoner swap with WNBA star Brittney Griner, has joined the pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday he is not sure whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with Bout.
  • Power supply issues continue: Ukraine is suffering a "significant power deficit," according to state energy provider Ukrenergo. Destruction caused by Russian attacks has limited the capacity of thermal and hydroelectric power plants, and "additional time is needed to restore their work," added Ukrenergo. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN affiliate ARD that "a general blackout is indeed realistic” in Ukraine and gave a snippet of what his life at home has been like personally for him. “I had no electricity, heating or water for 30 hours at my home.” Only a fraction of Ukrainians are able to move out of the cities to country houses where “they have possibilities to heat stoves with wood," he added.
  • Biden and Zelensky to talk Monday: US President Joe Biden will be among the G7 leaders that will join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a virtual meeting Monday, a senior administration official told CNN. Energy — both immediate assistance for Ukraine, as well as the European Union’s energy issues — will be a key topic.
  • Ukrainian embassy receives suspicious parcel: The Ukrainian embassy in Greece has received a “bloody package,” according to Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko. It is the latest in a string of packages sent to Ukrainian diplomatic missions across Europe over the past two weeks.
  • Ukrainian forces strike Melitopol: The Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine saw heavy shelling at the weekend, but there are conflicting reports on the number of casualties. Exiled city mayor Ivan Fedorov initially claimed 200 Russians were killed, before rowing back the number of casualties to "dozens" dead. Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-installed governor of Zaporizhzhia region, where Meliopol is located, said that two people were killed and 10 more injured.
1:44 p.m. ET, December 12, 2022

Ukrainian president will join G7 leaders for a virtual meeting Monday

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Phil Mattingly 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his office in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his office in Kyiv, Ukraine. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will join leaders of the Group of 7 nations, including US President Joe Biden, for a virtual meeting this morning, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN.

The leaders will "discuss the progress we’ve made together under Germany’s presidency to address the most pressing global challenges of our time," the senior official said.

Energy, as it relates to Ukraine and the European Union, will be a key topic.

“The Leaders will discuss Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and coordinate our efforts to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. They will also discuss other priorities like addressing the climate crisis, food and energy security, the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, and more. The G7 is more united than ever before and we look forward to further strengthening the partnership under Japan’s G7 Presidency in 2023,” the senior official said. 

The meeting comes after Biden and Zelensky spoke by phone Sunday. On the call, Biden highlighted how the US "is prioritizing efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense through our security assistance,” the White House said in a statement.

7:40 a.m. ET, December 12, 2022

Kremlin spokesman unsure if Putin has spoken with Bout 

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday he is not sure whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with freed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. 

"No, as far as I know, he didn't. Although, I can't say about a phone [conversation], I don't know for sure," Peskov said during a regular briefing with journalists in response to a question about whether Putin has spoken with Bout since the arms dealer's release on Thursday.  

Peskov also commented on Bout joining the pro-Kremlin nationalist party Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). 

"This is not our question, this is Bout's personal choice," Peskov said. "If he sees party prospects for himself, well, good for him. This is his own business." 

Earlier on Monday, Russian state news agency TASS quoted Bout as saying that for now he is not planning to run for political office or participate in elections. 

TASS also quoted LDPR leader Leonid Slutsky as saying that Bout will be invited to a meeting of the State Duma’s committee on international affairs. 

During the call with journalists, Peskov was also asked whether WNBA star Brittney Griner, with whom Bout was exchanged in a prisoner swap, had filed a petition for clemency. 

"All necessary procedures were performed in accordance with the law," Peskov said without elaborating further.