Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
December 29, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Kathleen Magramo, Eliza Mackintosh, Leinz Vales, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN
Ukrainian officials say power supply remains limited in key regions after Russian strikes
From Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv
Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine damaged power facilities and left key regions with limited electricity supply Thursday evening, a top Ukrainian official said in an update.
Even though the country's air defenses shot down many missiles from the Russian barrage, “some of them hit several power facilities," said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.
"We will not specify the locations of these objects, but because of these hits, we have limited power supply capacities in some regions," he continued.
Engineers are working to restore electricity across Ukraine, with capacity limitations remaining in Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa, he said.
Tymoshenko said he was hopeful that the situation in Kyiv would improve Friday.
He praised the efforts of engineers who worked through the past week to stabilize supply in the capital city, saying that their hard work was realized on Christmas weekend, "when practically all households in Kyiv had electricity supply."
"I believe that now our power engineers will work a few more hours in such a mode and there will be a normal power supply to the city of Kyiv,” Tymoshenko said.
Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the CEO of the Ukrainian utility Ukrenergo, also reported that disruptions to energy supply persisted Thursday evening.
“At the moment, a significant part of the generating capacities in the system has been restored, but there is significant damage to the network and some power plants. That is related to the fact that it was not one missile attack, but in fact a series of attacks,” he said.
Repairs are ongoing, but due to significant network damage, “it is difficult for us to supply electricity in regions of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Lviv,” he said.
It's nearly midnight in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know
Residents in Kyiv were woken up Thursday by air raid sirens and the sound of explosions as Russia unleashed what Ukraine has called one of Moscow's largest missile barrages since the war started. At least three people were killed and seven were injured in the attacks.
Here are the war's latest developments:
Missile interception: The Ukrainian military said the majority of cruise missiles fired at the country Thursday were intercepted, with its defense forces shooting down 54 of 69, according to preliminary data.
Power outages: The wave of missile attacks left several Ukrainian regions without power, particularly hitting the major cities of Lviv, Kyiv and Odesa. Kyiv's mayor earlier said 40% of the city was without power, while 90% of Lviv was left in the dark, according to the western city's mayor. Engineering crews are racing to restore services as the New Year's holiday approaches this weekend.
Focus on Bakhmut: Russian forces have diverted resources to the battle for the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region but have made no advances, according to the Ukrainian military. A military official also said Ukrainian forces have made gradual progress toward the city of Kreminna in the eastern Luhansk region, which fell to the Russians in the spring.
Belarus missile claims: The Belarusian Ministry of Defense said Thursday that fragments from a Ukrainian guided missile landed on its territory close to the border. Kyiv said it would investigate the Belarusian missile claims, adding that it had not ruled out a Russian false flag operation aimed at placing blame on Ukraine. CNN has not been able to independently verify the ministry's report and has reached out to the Ukrainian military for comment.
Ukraine says Russia is diverting resources to fight for key Donetsk city and claims gradual advance in Luhansk
From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva
The Ukrainian military says Russian forces have diverted resources to the battle for the key city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region but have made no advances.
Brig. Gen. Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the General Staff’s main operational directorate, told a briefing Thursday that the situation in the east remained difficult for Ukrainian forces, as the Russians conducted offensive actions on several fronts, including Bakhmut, Avdiivka and toward Kupyansk, which was liberated in September.
"The main efforts of the enemy concentrated on the Bakhmut direction," Hromov said. "Around Bakhmut, the defenders of Ukraine are resisting up to 20 attacks of the enemy daily, which is persistently attacking the positions of our troops under the cover of artillery fire."
"In order to concentrate artillery fire around Bakhmut, the enemy has deliberately reduced the number of attacks on the positions of our troops in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia directions in recent weeks, with ammunition being delivered to the Bakhmut and Lyman directions," Hromov said.
Lyman is another settlement in Donetsk liberated by Ukrainian forces at the end of September.
"More than 40% of the enemy's artillery attacks along the contact line from Kupyansk to Mariinka are in the Bakhmut direction," Hromov said.
Other advancements: Hromov said that Ukrainian forces had made gradual progress towards the city of Kreminna in the eastern Luhansk region. The city fell to the Russians in the spring.
Ukrainian units had advanced up to 2.5 kilometers (more than 1 mile) in the direction of Kreminna this week, Hromov said. The area has been heavily mined by the Russians, according to Ukrainian officials.
Hromov also claimed that Russia was beginning to prepare defensive lines around the city of Luhansk "in case the Ukrainian Defense Forces break through the defensive borders of the Russian occupation troops on the Svatove-Kreminna line and, accordingly, move the hostilities closer" to the area.
Hromov said that following Russia's partial mobilization, trained units continued to be moved to occupied territories of Ukraine. He said that in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, units of the Russian territorial reserve had been deployed.
"We are tracking the movement of enemy units. Currently, there is no significant threat of offensive grouping in the Zaporizhzhia sector."
Belarus claims to have shot down missile launched from Ukraine
From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Radina Gigova
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense said Thursday that fragments from a Ukrainian S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile landed on its territory in an area close to the border with Ukraine.
“Today, at around 10 o’clock, an air target was hit by the forces of the air defense," the ministry said in a statement. "Its fragments were found in an agricultural field near the village of Gorbakha, Ivanovo district, Brest region."
"During the verification activities, it was preliminarily established that the wreckage belonged to an S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile fired from the territory of Ukraine,” the ministry claimed.
CNN has not been able to independently verify the ministry's report and has reached out to the Ukrainian military for comment.
What Ukraine is saying: Kyiv said Thursday that it would investigate the Belarusian missile report, adding that it had not ruled out a Russian false flag operation aimed at placing blame on Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that it was "aware of the Kremlin's desperate and persistent efforts to drag Belarus into its aggressive war against Ukraine."
"In this regard, the Ukrainian side does not rule out a deliberate provocation on the part of the terrorist state of Russia, which laid such a route for its cruise missiles to provoke their interception in the airspace over the territory of Belarus," the update continued.
Ukraine said it would conduct an investigation and was also prepared to invite "reputable experts" from states not affiliated with Russia to participate.
Ruble hits 8-month low against dollar, as oil prices fall and sanctions squeeze Russian economy
From CNN's Clare Sebastian
Russia’s currency hit an eight-month low Thursday, adding to sharp declines in December as global oil prices fell and western sanctions targeted Russia’s energy sector.
The ruble hovered below 72 to the dollar, down 18% from the start of the month — its weakest level since late April.
After almost halving in value in the first weeks of the war, the ruble has held up remarkably well for most of the year, trading within a narrow range. The ruble has been helped by measures from Russia’s central bank, which more than doubled interest rates at the start of the war, introduced capital controls, and forced exporters to convert 80% of their earnings into rubles, artificially creating demand for the currency. It later rolled back some of those policies as the exchange rate stabilized.
But with the price of oil, Russia’s biggest export, down by about a third from its June peak, and an EU embargo on seaborne oil, plus Western price cap mechanisms now in place, Russia’s oil export revenues are likely to fall. This means there will be less foreign currency to prop up the ruble.
The International Energy Agency said this month that Russian oil export revenues fell by $700 million in November because of falling prices.
Read more here.
Ukrainians resolute to ring in new year despite power outages from latest Russian attacks
From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Eliza Mackintosh, Daria Markina-Tarasova and Dima Olenchenko
The Russian strikes that killed three people on Thursday were aimed at Ukraine's electrical infrastructure, knocking out power in several regions and sending engineering crews racing to restore services as the New Year’s holiday approaches this weekend.
Authorities have been cautioning for days that Russia was preparing to launch an all-out assault on the power grid to close out 2022, plummeting the country into darkness as Ukrainians attempt to ring in the New Year and celebrate the Orthodox Christmas holiday on Jan. 7.
“Russian terrorists have been saving one of the most massive missile attacks since the beginning of the full-scale invasion for the last days of the year,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Twitter Thursday. “They dream that Ukrainians will celebrate the New Year in darkness and cold. But they cannot defeat the Ukrainian people.”
Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said that Lviv, Kyiv and Odesa were particularly hard-hit, and the cities are experiencing emergency power outages – which is when the electricity is protectively turned off to diminish damage from the grid shorting out.
Forty percent of Kyiv residents were without power as of mid-morning local time, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, while in western Ukraine, Lviv Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said 90% of the city was without power.
Residents in Kyiv told CNN that they are planning to celebrate the new year despite possible power outages or blackouts.
"We have already become perfectly oriented on how to survive in such conditions. Anyway, we will celebrate the New Year and hope for the best,” Kyiv resident Halyna Hladka said.
Read more here.
At least 3 killed in Ukraine from Russian missile attacks, emergency service says
From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv
At least three people were killed and seven were injured in nationwide missile attacks, according to the latest figures provided by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service.
The service's press officer, Oleksandr Khorunzhyy, told CNN that two people were killed in the northeastern Kharkiv region, while one person was killed in the eastern Donetsk region.
In the Kyiv region, four people were injured in the attacks, while two were injured in the Kharkiv region and one was injured in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region.
“As of 16:00 [4 p.m. local time], 41 objects including 21 residential buildings were damaged,” he said.
Earlier, a local official said one of the the two people killed in Kharkiv was a man who died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
“Incoming hits of enemy missiles were recorded in the region. All of them were targeted at our critical infrastructure facilities,” the head of the regional military administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said on his Telegram account.
Bulgaria calls journalist's placement on Russian "wanted" list an attack on free speech
From CNN's Radina Gigova
Placing Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev on Russia’s "wanted" list is an unacceptable "attack on freedom of speech," acting Bulgarian Prime Minister Galab Donev said Thursday.
"I would like to note that Bulgaria has not been informed through the established channels by the Russian side about the charges against Mr. Grozev," Donev said as he opened a government meeting. "For us this act is unacceptable, it represents an attack on freedom of speech and an attempt to intimidate a Bulgarian citizen."
On Monday, Russia placed Grozev, who is the lead Russia investigator at the journalism group Bellingcat, on its "wanted" list, according to Russia's Interior Ministry. Information published on the ministry’s website said he was “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code,” without specifying the exact article.
Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova has been summoned to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs "for an explanation on the case," Donev said, adding that it will "express official protest" against the search warrant and insist on receiving more information.
After meeting Bulgarian officials Thursday, Mitrofanova told journalists she had no information why Grozev was wanted. She said he is wanted only in Russia and not other countries, according to Bulgarian state broadcaster BNT.
The "Russian ambassador says she doesn't know why I am on Russia's 'Wanted' list, but that 'we won't chase him around the world, and this just means that one more time we are telling him he's not wanted here,'" Grozev tweeted Thursday. "So.. they 'want' me, to tell me they not 'want' me?"
After Mitrofanova's comments to reporters, the Russian Embassy in Bulgaria's capital of Sofia released a statement.
It said that Moscow had "clarified the situation with H. Grozev, emphasizing that a violation of Russian legislation leads to corresponding legal consequences, independent of the type of activity of the accused/suspect person or his citizenship," according to BNT.
The embassy also said "it is not about intimidation of the journalist or any threat to his life," according to the Bulgarian state media outlet.