December 29, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Eliza Mackintosh, Leinz Vales, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 1:42 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022
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1:34 a.m. ET, December 29, 2022

Russia won't negotiate under terms of Zelensky's peace plan, Lavrov says

From CNN’s Irene Nasser and Josh Pennington

Moscow will not negotiate with Kyiv on the basis of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s proposed peace formula, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to state-media on Thursday.

Lavrov told state-run RIA Novosti that Zelensky's idea of driving Russian troops out from the Donbas, Crimea, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson with help from the West was "an illusion."

He also dismissed the idea that Kyiv would achieve reparations or that Russia would appear in international courts.

“We will not talk to anyone under such conditions," Lavrov said.

Lavrov stressed however, that Russia remains open to diplomatic solutions to end the war. 

Peace plan: Zelensky presented Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November.

The steps includes a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes, and a final peace treaty with Moscow. He also urged G20 leaders to use all their power to “make Russia abandon nuclear threats” and implement a price cap on energy imported from Moscow.

During his speech to the US Congress last week, Zelensky claimed US President Joe Biden had endorsed the plan.

7:46 p.m. ET, December 28, 2022

Zelensky says war has strengthened Europe's unity and continent now "protects itself"

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Yulia Kesaieva

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his annual address Wednesday to the Ukrainian Parliament that the war Russia has waged on his country has strengthened Europe's unity, and that "no one in the West is afraid and will ever be afraid of Russia."

"It was Ukraine that united the European Union. Turned out, it is possible," Zelensky said from the parliament's floor. "And now Europe protects itself. Europe overcomes crises. And this is despite the enormous resources thrown by Russia to wreck our continent.
"For the first time in history, some European countries have reconsidered the notion of staying neutral and are resisting aggression together with us, together with Ukraine.
"We helped Europe and most of the world to feel that to be neutral now is, I'm sorry, but to be immoral."

Zelensky went on to say that countries are no longer interested "in whether Russia will hear them," but rather "what else to expect from Ukraine, what else Ukraine can give to Europe, what else we can give to the world."

Zelensky also thanked Ukrainian servicemen, calling them "heroes" and said the powerful weapons Ukraine has received have strengthened its advantage. 

"And let me remind you — a year ago it seemed impossible that our state would have 'Patriot' air defense systems. But now we do have such an agreement," he said. "This is a special sign of trust to Ukraine. This is a true alliance with the United States of America. We have achieved this."
7:44 p.m. ET, December 28, 2022

Ukraine says Russians have moved out of key eastern city to other settlements

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Olga Voitovych

As fighting near the key Ukrainian city of Kreminna in the eastern Luhansk region continues, Russian civilians who had come to the city have stopped their work and left, Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said Wednesday in a television interview. 

"The military command has indeed moved [from Kreminna] to other settlements. All the Russians who came to work, the civilians — doctors, repair teams — they have all stopped their work, all left for the Russian Federation, and all the work that was started is now frozen," Hayday said. 

Why Kreminna matters: If the Ukrainian military is able to dislodge the Russians from Kreminna, it could then proceed in two directions, Hayday said. 

"There are two prospects. The first is to go to Starobilsk, which is the logistics center of Luhansk region. Whoever controls Starobilsk will be able to control the entire logistics of the Luhansk region with firepower. In other words, there will be almost no roads left along which the enemy could quietly move either personnel or equipment," Hayday said. 

"The second direction is towards Rubizhne and Severodonetsk. This is in order to break the grouping, which is now constantly, round the clock, advancing towards Bakhmut. It could be split in two and, accordingly, make the defense for the military who are defending Bakhmut easier." 

Some background: Kreminna has been occupied since the spring and lies on a key north-south road from Svatove, which Russian troops had been using for resupplies. Losing Kreminna would limit Russia's ability to resupply its troops in the key city of Severodonetsk.

7:41 p.m. ET, December 28, 2022

Fresh shelling dents Ukraine's energy capacity

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The electricity deficit in the Ukrainian power grid grew on Wednesday due to shelling of gas infrastructure in eastern Ukraine, according to the latest update from state power utility Ukrenergo.

“As of Dec. 28, the electricity deficit in the system has increased. This is due to the stop of some units of power plants due to the shelling of gas infrastructure in the eastern region,” Ukrenergo said in a statement.

Ukraine has been facing a wide assault on critical infrastructure and power sources since early October. 

The deficit did not mean further power restrictions because of “relatively warm weather," Ukenergo said, but added: "the available capacity in the system is not enough to meet all the needs of consumers in the country. In this regard, all regions were informed about consumption limits, the excess of which leads to the need for emergency outages.”

In the past three months, the power grid has suffered nine missile and 12 Russian UAV attacks, according to Ukrenergo.

“As a result, generation facilities and transmission systems suffered large-scale and complex damage. Their restoration requires significant resources and time. Repair teams of Ukrenergo, electricity producers and distribution system operators are working continuously,” the statement said.

7:28 p.m. ET, December 28, 2022

Russian troops fighting in Ukraine can freeze their sperm for free

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Russian soldiers taking part in the war on Ukraine will be eligible for free sperm freezing and storage in cryobanks, state news agency TASS reported, citing a lawyers union.

“The families of those called up for military service as part of the partial mobilization will receive free access to fertility treatment and the storage of biomaterial in a cryobank,” said Igor Trunov, president of the Russian Union of Lawyers, which represents several couples where the husband has been mobilized and the family has asked for assistance, according to TASS.

Read more here.