Ukrainian foreign minister says Russia may be able to launch a "large offensive" in January or February
From CNN's Seb Shukla in London and Victoria Butenko in Kyiv
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, said Tuesday that Russia’s capability to launch a “large offensive may be restored" by the end of January or February.
Speaking to foreign reporters from a bomb shelter in Kyiv on Tuesday, Ukraine’s top diplomat said “they definitely still keep hopes that they will be able to break through our lines and advanced deeper in Ukraine.”
Kuleba explained that he felt several reasons contributed to the signs that Russia still has its sights set on larger portions of Ukraine.
He attributed that view to, “the conscription they have announced, and the training of new conscripts and the movement of their heavy weapons supports the country.”
European Union agrees to $19 billion Ukraine aid package after striking a deal with Hungary
From CNN's Gayle Harrington
European Union member states have agreed plans to provide a $19 billion aid package for Ukraine in 2023 after Hungary dropped its opposition in return for funding from the EU.
Hungary had initially blocked the package last week, amid a long running standoff over EU aid. Brussels had called for EU funds for Hungary be frozen due to concerns over corruption and insufficient reforms to strengthen the rule of law.
On Monday evening, the EU struck a deal with Hungary. Under the new agreement, Brussels will give Budapest $6.1 billion in grants to "enable Hungary to foster its economic recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic and finance the green and digital transitions."
It will still freeze some funds, around $6.9 billion, but that is less than the near $8 billion the EU had previously planned on suspending.
The Czech Presidency of the European Council tweeted about the deal and the aid package for Ukraine Monday evening.
2:14 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022
Exclusive: US finalizing plans to send Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine
The Pentagon’s plan still needs to be approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before it is sent to US President Joe Biden for his signature. The three officials told CNN that approval is expected.
Why this matters: Ukraine has been calling for the US to send the advanced long-range air defense system that is highly effective at intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles as it comes under a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks that have destroyed key infrastructure across the country. It would be the most effective long-range defensive weapons system sent to the country and officials say it will help secure airspace for NATO nations in eastern Europe.
It is not clear how many missile launchers will be sent but a typical Patriot battery includes a radar set that detects and tracks targets, computers, power generating equipment, an engagement control station and up to eight launchers, each holding four ready to fire missiles.
Once the plans are finalized, the Patriots are expected to ship quickly in the coming days and Ukrainians will be trained to use them at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, officials said.
Ukraine has been asking for the system for months but the logistical challenges of delivering it and operating it are immense. Despite those obstacles, “the reality of what is going on the ground” led the administration to make the decision, the senior administration official told CNN, noting the continuing intense Russian missile barrages.
No Russia-US prisoner exchange talks on agenda for now, Russia's deputy foreign minister says
From CNN's Radina Gigova
There are no prisoner exchange talks on the agenda at the moment between the United States and Russia, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday, according to state news agency TASS.
"I don’t know what they [the Americans] have in mind," he said, when asked to comment on statements from the US that the two sides would hold consultations later this week on US citizen Paul Whelan, who is in prison in Russia.
"According to my sources, no talks on this issue via any of the channels I know about are anticipated," he said.
"We occasionally communicate with the Americans via different channels, at different levels, but the exchanges are carried out by people who were previously engaged in this activity," Ryabkov added.
"Two explosive devices" were used on key bridge in city of Melitopol, Russian regional administration says
From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Seb Shukla and Teele Rebane
Russian-installed administrators in the city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine claimed on Tuesday that "two explosive devices" of 15-20 kilograms of TNT were used to blow up a portion of a bridge used for supplying Russian armed forces.
Yevgeny Balitskyi, the Russian-appointed head of Zaporizhzhia region, said on Telegram “unknown persons blew up two reinforced concrete supports of the road bridge, after which the bridge received a subsidence.”
He stressed that the damage to the bridge “did not affect cargo traffic in anyway” and claimed that the bridge “had no strategic significance.”
He finished his message by saying that the perpetrators are being pursued and they will “be punished to the fullest extent of the law”.
More background: The bridge connects the main part of the city of Melitopol to a suburb Konstantynivka.
The bridge is part of the M14 highway that runs along Ukraine’s southern coastline and connects Melitopol to Berdyansk to the east and then onto to Mariupol and then into the Russian Federation.
9:37 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022
Germany pledges more than $50 million in winter aid to Ukraine
From CNN’s Inke Kappeler and Allegra Goodwin
Germany on Tuesday pledged an additional $53.2 million to support Ukraine over the winter period as it faces an onslaught of Russian attacks on its critical infrastructure, leaving millions of civilians without electricity, heating and water.
Confirming the pledge in a tweet, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to “break Ukrainians with his brutal tactic of plunging them into the cold,” adding: “We won't let that happen.”
Germany will send equipment to help restore Ukraine’s energy grid, including generators and transformers, Baerbock said in a tweet.
“Putin's bombs mean that doctors have to operate on a boy's heart by the light of their cell phones. That children do homework in candlelight with hats, scarves & jackets,” she added.
The money was part of a total of more than one billion dollars pledged by 46 countries and 24 international organizations at a conference in Paris on Tuesday that aimed to mobilize immediate support for Ukraine between December and March.
Switzerland also announced a pledge of more than $100 million to Ukraine, according to a Tuesday press release by the Swiss government.
8:47 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022
More than $1 billion pledged for Ukraine at winter aid conference, French foreign minister says
From CNN’s Marguerite Lacroix and Allegra Goodwin
More than one billion dollars was pledged to support Ukraine during a bleak winter at a conference in Paris Tuesday, France’s foreign minister said.
The money, pledged by 46 countries and 24 international organizations, will be split between restoring Ukraine’s depleted energy network, the food sector, water supply, health and transportation, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna told the conference, adding that $520 million of funding was yet to be allocated.
The announcement comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for $843 million in aid in a virtual address to delegates at the conference, as millions of Ukrainians face a freezing winter under the shadow of Russia’s war, without access to electricity, water and central heating.
8:09 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022
Belarus appoints new foreign minister, according to state media
From CNN’s Anna Chernova
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has appointed Sergei Aleinik as new foreign minister, state news agency Belta reported Tuesday.
Prior to this appointment, Aleinik worked in the foreign ministry as first deputy minister.
It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know
From CNN staff
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked world leaders gathered at a conference in Paris for more aid to help his country survive Russian attacks on critical infrastructure this winter.
Meanwhile, a key bridge used to resupply Russian forces occupying the city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine has been targeted.
Here are the latest headlines:
Zelensky asks for aid at Paris conference: Zelensky has called for $843 million in aid to support Ukraine's critical infrastructure this winter in a virtual address at a conference in Paris. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that hundreds of generators have been dispatched, adding that "in these times of suffering and darkness, it is so important to bring light to Ukraine."
Kremlin pushes back on Zelensky peace plan: Ukraine needs to appreciate that Moscow has added new territories to the Russian Federation, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday in response to Zelensky’s three-step proposal for peace. "Without taking these new realities into account, any progress is impossible," said Peskov.
Key Melitopol bridge targeted: A bridge essential to the resupply of Russian forces occupying the city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine was targeted by strikes overnight, according to both Ukrainian and Russian officials. The bridge appears to have buckled or collapsed inwards in a video posted online. It is part of the M14 highway, which runs along Ukraine’s southern coastline from Melitopol to Berdiansk and Mariupol to the east before reaching the Russian Federation.
Heavy shelling in central Ukraine: Russian forces hit Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region with heavy artillery and missiles overnight, according to a regional official. Nikopol, Chervonohryhorivka and Marhanets were hit, but no casualties were reported.
Ukrainian forces hit Russian territory: The Russian town of Klintsy in the Bryansk region has been shelled overnight by Ukrainian troops, said regional governor Alexander Bogomaz. Air defense systems destroyed the missile and there were no casualties or damage, he said.
Belarus announces military drills: The Belarusian Defense Ministry has announced snap military drills across the country. "A sudden inspection of combat readiness has begun under the leadership of the State Secretariat of the Security Council," said the ministry in a short statement.