December 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 9:18 p.m. ET, December 16, 2022
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9:25 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

At least 76 Russian missiles were fired at Ukraine, the country's armed forces say

From CNN's Maria Kosetenko in Kyiv

Preliminary data from Friday’s wave of Russian missile attacks against Ukraine suggests at 76 missiles were fired, according to Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Of the 76 missiles, 72 were “cruise missiles” of the Kh-101, "Kalibr" and Kh-22 variety. The other four were “guided aircraft missiles," Kh-59 and KH31P. 

The origin of the missiles were from the Caspian and Black Seas. 

Ukraine’s top military chief added that 60 missiles were destroyed.

12:13 p.m. ET, December 16, 2022

At least 2 killed and 8 injured in Russian missile attacks in southern city of Kryvyi Rih

From CNN's Tim Lister

ainian officials say that the southern city of Kryvyi Rih was among the hardest hit in the latest wave of Russian missile attacks.

Oleksandr Vilkul, head of Kryvyi Rih city military administration, spoke to Ukrainian television and provided the following updates:

  • At least two people are dead
  • Eight people are injured, including four children. Two of the injured are in a serious condition.
  • The energy infrastructure facility was completely destroyed
  • One missile had hit an apartment building.
  • Rescue workers were sifting through the rubble, and some people were still missing. 
  • The strike also impacted 596 people who were in the region's mines, and rescue work continues there too, with 246 people brought to the surface so far.
  • There were emergency power cuts in place.

"The water is supplied in the city partly through generators. The gas supply system is completely supported by generators," as were area hospitals, he said. "Half of the mobile communication base stations are already connected. The second half is running on generators."

9:30 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

Ukrainian armed forces: Russian air force planes seen in Belarusian skies during missile attacks on Ukraine

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Seb Shukla

An Ilyushin-76 A50U and MiG-31K aircrafts were seen in the “sky of Belarus” during the air attacks on Friday in Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have said.

The MiG-31K is capable for carrying a “Kinzal” missile. The missile is hypersonic and therefore difficult to intercept. However, the statement is unclear if the “Kinzal” was used in the attacks.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces suggested that the attacks in general were “peculiar” given that the missiles were not only fired from Caspian Sea, but “also from the Saratov region, in the Engels area, where strategic bombers-missile carriers Tu-95MS are based”.

The statement continued and claimed that missiles were also launched from the Black Sea from the “Admiral Marakov” frigate of the Russian navy.

Additionally, 27 S-300s were used, it said.

There was an explosion at the Engels airbase inside the Russian Federation last week. The attack was blamed on the Ukrainians by the Russians. Ukraine has never admitted to carrying out the attack.

Earlier this week, Belarus announced snap military drills across the country and President Vladimir Putin is due to meet with Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko next week. 

9:20 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

Wagner group rep badly hurt in assassination attempt in Central African Republic, officials say

From CNN's Tim Lister, Sebastian Shukla, Amy Cassidy and Anna Chernova 

A Russian citizen closely linked to the Wagner group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin has been injured in an assassination attempt in the Central African Republic, according to Prigozhin and Russian officials.

Dmitry Syty, who runs the “Russian House” in the capital of CAR, Bangui, received a package which exploded in his hands, according to the press service of Concord, Prigozhin's holding company.

Prigozhin said that Syty’s last words before falling unconscious and taken to hospital were:

“I saw a note: ‘This is for you from all the French, the Russians will get out of Africa.’”

Wagner's presence in the CAR, where it has trained and fought with the local armed forces, has been controversial. CNN investigations have linked Wagner and associated entities with the lucrative diamond trade in central Africa as well as multiple human rights abuses in the country, where the army has been fighting a number of rebel factions. 

A CNN team met with Syty in 2019, when he was involved in mediating between the CAR government and rebel groups. He was also the founder of a diamond company linked to Prigozhin's business empire.

Prigozhin accused France of being behind the attack on Syty. 

"On February 1, 2022, the “Russian House” was opened in the Central African Republic, which for hundreds of years was oppressed by the French, who destroyed the population and plundered the wealth of the Central African Republic. It was headed by a patriot of Russia and the Central African Republic, Dmitry Syty," he said.

"On November 11, Dmitry Syty received a package from Togo containing a photograph of his son, who lives in France. It contained a note saying that next time he would receive his son's head if "the Russians do not get out of the African continent and open the doors for the French." 

Prigozhin said: "Today he got another package. Despite all the instructions for observing security measures, Dmitry Syty, being in the heat of the moment and thinking that the head of his son was in the package, opened it. There was an explosion."

CNN is unable to confirm Prigozhin's allegations.

"I have already applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation so that it initiates the procedure for declaring France a state sponsor of terrorism, as well as conducting a thorough investigation of the terrorist methods of France and its Western allies — the United States and others."

A Russian group in CAR associated with the Russian House in Bangui said Syty's "condition is serious and doctors are fighting for his life."

The official Russian news agency TASS quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying: "The assassination attempt on the head of the Russian house in the Central African Republic is an inhuman terrorist act that requires strong condemnation."

He said: "Russia will make every effort to find the organizers of the assassination attempt on the head of the Russian House in the Central African Republic. The Russian Federation will not show fear of terrorists and will not close the Russian House in the Central African Republic."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it "strongly condemn[s] this criminal act, which is clearly aimed at hindering the activities of the Russia House in Bangui, and more broadly, harming the successful development of friendly relations between our two countries."

"We hope that as a result of an operational investigation by the competent authorities of the Central African Republic, those responsible for organizing and committing this atrocity will be identified and punished," the ministry added.

Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.

8:56 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

9 power facilities damaged in Friday airstrikes on Ukraine, energy minister says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko has said that “9 power generation facilities” have been damaged in Friday’s attacks.

He did not specify which locations. 

The minister said the substations were damaged and as a result this has lead to a “restrictions of electricity production at nuclear generation facilities.”

The power situation in Kharkiv “will be difficult,” he continued. The northeastern city has lost power completely, Mayor Ihor Terekhov noted on Telegram earlier. 

Halushchenko noted in his message that “electricity supply is impossible for 50% of customers.”

It comes as Ukraine’s state energy provider Ukrenergo said it had activated its "emergency mode," following the wave of Russian attacks on Friday.

Ukrenergo said the targets included “thermal power plants, hydroelectric power plants and substations of 330-750 kV main grids.”

7:19 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

FIFA rebuffs Zelensky’s request to share message of peace at World Cup final

From CNN's Matthew Chance

President of FIFA Gianni Infantino, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
President of FIFA Gianni Infantino, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Getty Images)

A request by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to share a message of world peace prior to kickoff at the World Cup final on Sunday has been rebuffed by FIFA, a source told CNN.

The source said Zelensky’s office is offering to appear in a video link to fans in the stadium in Qatar, ahead of the game and was surprised by the negative response. It’s unclear if Zelensky’s message would be live, or taped.

“We thought FIFA wanted to use its platform for the greater good,” the source said.

However, talks between Ukraine and the sport’s governing body are still underway, the source added.

CNN has reached out to FIFA for comment, but it did not immediately respond.

8:56 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

Kyiv says it shot down 37 out of 40 missiles from Friday morning attack

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

The Ukrainian capital’s city administration has claimed it shot down 37 of 40 missiles launched at Kyiv on Friday morning. 

Writing on Telegram it said “Kyiv city has withstood one of the largest missile attacks since the beginning of the full-scale invasion!”

The note ended by saying that only one person had been injured so far, in Dniprovskyi district, but information on casualties was being “clarified.” 

The regions reported in Kyiv as taking hits include Holosiivskyi, Dniprovskyi and Desniansky.

CNN teams in Kyiv had earlier reported hearing the air defense systems working in the Ukrainian capital as they witnessed the missiles falling.

Missile attacks have been reported across Ukraine on Friday, including in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia.

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, described the damage to the city's infrastructure from Friday's missile attacks as “colossal,” saying there was currently “no electricity, no heating and no water."

5:57 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

Putin to meet with Lukashenko in Minsk

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenkoi n Moscow, Russia, on February 18.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenkoi n Moscow, Russia, on February 18. (Kremlin Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Minsk on Monday and meet with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the Kremlin said Friday.

“At the invitation of the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, Vladimir Putin will visit Belarus on December 19 on a working visit,” the statement published on the Kremlin’s website said.

Putin and Lukashenko are planning to discuss “key issues of further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance with an emphasis on integration cooperation within the framework of the Union State, as well as current topics on the international and regional agenda,” according to the statement.

The two leaders will focus on strategic issues, especially in the economic sphere, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported earlier on Monday.

Russia used Belarus as a staging ground for its invasion of Ukraine in February, deploying troops and weaponry to its territory.

A CNN report published in October found that Belarus’ authoritarian government also provided medical aid to Russian military personnel, who were secretly ferried to several civilian hospitals in the southern Gomel region and treated by Belarusian doctors operating under harsh surveillance.

6:31 a.m. ET, December 16, 2022

60 missiles launched so far at Ukraine and strategic bombers used for first time, says Ukrainian Air Force

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla and Mariya Kostenko

Civilians take shelter inside a metro station during air raid alert in the centre of Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 16.
Civilians take shelter inside a metro station during air raid alert in the centre of Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 16. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Air Force Spokesman Yurii Inhat has said that as of 10:50am (3:50aET) “60 missiles” had been launched towards Ukraine. 

Inhat also gave a detailed description of the weaponry used in the attacks. 

He said missiles were launched from Tu-95 aircraft and the missiles were of the Kh-555 and Kh-101 variety. 

The spokesman added that “Kalibr” missies were launched from the Black Sea, and that S300s and Tu22M3 bombers launched X-22 missiles. 

Mig31K aircraft were spotted in the skies, Inhat said.  

He also noted that “for the first time, the occupiers used Tu95 strategic bombers from the area where those aircraft are located, from the Engels area. In addition, there were launches from the north of the Caspian Sea.”

Engels is an airbase in Russia that Moscow says came under attack from Ukrainian launched drones on December 5.

Missile attacks have been reported across Ukraine on Friday, including in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia

In Kyiv, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko reported explosions in the capital's Desniansky district.

CNN teams in Kyiv earlier reported hearing explosions, as well as seeing and hearing missiles. They also heard the air defense systems working in the Ukrainian capital. 

In Kharkiv, Oleh Syniehubv, head of the regional military administration, said “critical infrastructure facilities” were hit in the Chuhuiv district of Kharkiv region and in Kharkiv city.

In the central city of Kryvyi Rih, the head of the city military administration, Olkesandr Vilkul, reported that “there are rocket hits.”

In Zaporizhzhia, a “dozen and a half” Russian missile strikes have been reported, the regional military head, Oleksandr Starch, said on Telegram Friday. 

Starch said: “The consequences of the enemy attack are being clarified. All relevant services are working. We ask citizens to prepare for possible temporary restrictions while restoring the damaged infrastructure.”

Since October, Russia has waged a series of strikes against Ukraine that have damaged the energy system and civilian infrastructure, causing power outages in the freezing winter.