December 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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

Updated 2204 GMT (0604 HKT) December 30, 2022
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8:15 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Russian forces shell entire frontline in Donetsk overnight, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Denis Lapin

Russian forces shelled the entire frontline of the Donetsk region on Thursday night into Friday morning, according to the head of the regional military administration, as fighting in the eastern Ukrainian region grinds on.

Pavlo Kyrylenko said the towns of Vuhledar and Kurakhivska were among the settlements that came under attack. The city of Kostyantynivka, which is some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the front line, was hit by rocket fire on Thursday, damaging schools and a theater. 

The Ukrainian military also reported artillery shelling of Maryinka and Avdiivka in Donetsk on Friday morning. It said Russian forces were intensifying their assaults around several settlements immediately to the west and north of Donetsk city, an area where the front lines have changed little since the Russian invasion.

Much of the war's fiercest fighting has raged around the key Donetsk city of Bakhmut. Both sides have been locked in brutal battle there since Russian forces launched their siege on the city in earnest in May.

An adviser to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, Oleksiy Arestovych, said on Thursday that Ukrainian and Russian forces were both experiencing heavy troop losses in Bakhmut, and the nearby city of Soledar, describing the fighting there as "very serious."

Elsewhere: Russian forces attacked several parts of the eastern Luhansk region, where Ukrainian forces have made modest gains since September, according to the Ukrainian military.

In the north-eastern region of Sumy, officials reported cross-border mortar fire, the consequences of which were unclear. 

And in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, authorities said that nearly twenty settlements were shelled, several of them some distance from the front lines, damaging apartments and civilian infrastructure.

6:59 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

More than 80 Russian strikes on Kherson Thursday, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Denis Lapin

Local resident Klavdia, 82, stands near her house which was destroyed by a Russian military strike in Kherson, Ukraine, on December 29.
Local resident Klavdia, 82, stands near her house which was destroyed by a Russian military strike in Kherson, Ukraine, on December 29. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Russian forces are relentlessly bombarding Kherson in southern Ukraine with artillery and rockets, shelling the region 81 times on Thursday, Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the regional military administration said.

"The enemy attacked Kherson city 27 times. Enemy shells hit a store, critical infrastructure facilities, industrial enterprises, private and apartment buildings," Yanushevych said, referring to the regional capital.

One person was wounded in the shelling on Thursday. There were unofficial reports of further shelling Friday.

Some background: Ukrainian troops reclaimed Kherson city in November, but fighting has still raged in the region in recent weeks, as they try to wrest control of areas still occupied by Russia east of the Dnipro River.

Russia's retreat from Kherson -- the only regional capital that Russian forces had captured since launching their invasion in February -- represented a major blow to Moscow's war effort. Russian President Vladimir Putin formally declared Kherson "independent" in September, illegally annexing the territory.

5:11 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Xi says China is ready to "increase political cooperation with Russia"

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing was ready to ramp up political cooperation with Moscow on Friday, during a virtual meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, according to a Russian state media translation of their call.

"Against the background of a difficult international situation, China is ready to increase political cooperation with Russia" and "to be global partners," Xi said, according to the Russian state media report.
5:35 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Putin says Russia-China partnership more important than ever amid "unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West"

From CNN's Darya Tarasova 

China's President Xi Jinping, left, is welcomed by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of "The Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia" in Moscow, on March 22, 2013.
China's President Xi Jinping, left, is welcomed by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of "The Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia" in Moscow, on March 22, 2013. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping began a call via video link on Friday by reaffirming their mutual partnership in the face of international condemnation over Moscow's war in Ukraine.

In opening remarks broadcast on Russian state TV, Putin said that the stabilizing force of the Russia-China relationship was becoming even more critical against the backdrop of increasing geopolitical tensions.

He added that relations between the Russian Federation and China were "the best in history" and could "withstand all tests," and invited Xi to Moscow in the spring of 2023.

"We share the same views on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape," Putin said. "In the face of unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West, we defend our principled positions and defend not only our own interests, but also all those who stand for a truly democratic system and the right of countries to freely determine their own destiny."

The Russian leader also pointed to record growth in trade, despite "unfavorable market conditions," a veiled reference to sanctions, and said they would increase trade turnover to $200 billion ahead of schedule.

Putin also said that the two countries would strengthen cooperation between their armed forces: "We intend to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China."

6:59 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Iranian-made drone damages administrative and residential buildings in Kyiv

From CNN's Dennis Lapin in Kyiv and Martin Goillandeau in London

Damage to a residential building by a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 30.
Damage to a residential building by a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 30. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

An Iranian-made Shahed drone partially destroyed a four-story administrative building and damaged a nearby residential building in Kyiv on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, amid a barrage of Russian attacks overnight.

The drone strike on the administrative building in Holosiivskyi, a leafy southwestern district in the capital, started a fire, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office, said in a post on the messaging app Telegram.

The strike blew out windows in a nearby nine-story residential building. Photos from the scene showed shattered panes of glass and shards strewn on the ground.

Kyiv's Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the damage was a "result of falling debris,” and that no one was injured in the attack.

Sixteen Iranian-made drones launched by Russia overnight were shot down by Ukraine's air defense forces, its military said on Friday, a day after what appeared to be one of Moscow's largest missile barrages since the war began.

Seven of the 16 drones were shot down in the Kyiv region, according to local authorities.

4:43 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Ukraine shoots down 16 Iranian-made drones, Air Force Command says

From Dennis Lapin in Kyiv and Martin Goillandeau in London

Ukrainian air defense forces shot down 16 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight through Friday, the Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.

The attacks come a day after Russia launched one of the largest missile barrages against Ukraine since the war began.

The drones "attacked Ukraine from the southeastern and northern directions. To overcome the air defense system of Ukraine, the enemy tried to use the Dnipro riverbed,” the the Air Force Command statement said. “All 16 kamikaze drones were destroyed by the forces and equipment of the 'Skhid' (East) and 'Center' air commands, as well as air defense units of other units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces."

Five drones were shot down over the capital Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, the city’s military administration said in a Telegram post.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko added in a Telegram post that two other drones were shot down outside the city, bringing the total shot over the Kyiv region to seven.

3:30 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Xi and Putin to speak via video as grinding Ukraine war tests China-Russia partnership

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greets Chinese President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting on November 13, 2019 in Brasilia, Brazil.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greets Chinese President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting on November 13, 2019 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are scheduled to speak Friday via video conference, the Kremlin said, with analysts watching for any sign of a softening in the Chinese leader’s support for the Russian president after more than 10 months of war in Ukraine and as China faces an unprecedented Covid outbreak.

The two leaders will primarily discuss bilateral relations between their countries, and exchange views on regional issues and their strategic partnership, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

Moscow and Beijing have drawn closer in recent years, with Xi and Putin declaring the two countries had a “no limits” partnership weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

China has since refused to condemn the aggression, instead repeatedly laying blame for the conflict on NATO and the United States — and remaining one of Russia’s key remaining supporters as it grows increasingly isolated on the world stage.

But more than 10 months into the grinding war, the world looks much different — and the dynamic between both partners has shifted accordingly, experts say.

“China is eager for (the war) to end,” said Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Washington-based think tank Stimson Center.

“Xi will try to emphasize the importance of peace to Putin. As Russia is getting impatient with the lack of progress on the battlefield, the timing is ripening for peace talk in China’s eyes.”

Read more here.

8:18 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Ukrainian forces face "heavy losses" in Bakhmut and Soledar, presidential adviser says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Oleksii Arestovych in Kyiv on October 10.
Oleksii Arestovych in Kyiv on October 10. (Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Heavy Russian attacks on the eastern Ukrainian cities of Bakhmut and Soledar "smack of desperation, reminiscent of suicide bombers," according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser.

Oleksiy Arestovych was speaking during his nightly livestream on Feygin Live, a pro-Ukrainian channel.

As fighting continues in the area, Ukrainian forces are experiencing heavy troop losses, Arestovych said, adding "[the enemy] is losing more, of course, but we have heavy losses. It's a very serious fight." 

Some context: Bakhmut has become perhaps the most contested and kinetic part of the 1,300 kilometer (800 mile) front line in Ukraine and the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the war. The greater Donetsk region, where Bakhmut and Soledar are located, has been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014 and is one of four Ukrainian regions that Moscow claims as Russian territory in violation of international law.

1:45 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Russian region offers paid tuition for children of military conscripts

From CNN's Josh Pennington

A remote Russian republic is offering to pay the tuition fees of students whose parents are enlisted in the military, according to the region's education minister.

Aybulat Khazhin, education minister of Bashkortostan, said on Telegram that students whose parents have been drafted to serve in the Russian army will receive coverage for their college tuition, dormitory expenses and additional financial support.

Khazhin said the effort is meant as a "means of social support to students studying in programs of secondary professional education and higher education whose parents have been drafted during the partial mobilization."

Some context: In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced an immediate "partial mobilization" in a bid to reinforce his faltering invasion of Ukraine. The controversial move sparked protests and an exodus of young men from Russia who were at risk of punishment if they refused to be drafted.

Russian officials ended the draft in November and claimed that its target of recruiting 300,000 personnel had been completed.