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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8:18 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.

8:19 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Ukrainian officials say power supply remains limited in key regions after Russian strikes

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Blackout in Lviv, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack on December 29.
Blackout in Lviv, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack on December 29. (Pavlo Palamarchuk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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 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, saying 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, 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.

8:14 p.m. ET, December 29, 2022

Ukraine says Russia is diverting resources to fight for key Donetsk city and claims gradual advance in Luhansk

From CNN's Tim Lister and Yulia 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."

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 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."

7:59 p.m. ET, December 29, 2022

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."

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 said. 

Ukraine said it would conduct an investigation and was also prepared to invite "reputable experts" from states not affiliated with Russia to participate.

8:19 a.m. ET, December 30, 2022

Ukrainians defiant after Russia launches one of its biggest missile barrages ahead of New Year's Eve

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Eliza Mackintosh, Daria Markina-Tarasova and Dima Olenchenko

Explosions rattled villages and cities across Ukraine on Thursday, damaging civilian infrastructure and killing at least three people in what Kyiv has called one of Moscow’s biggest missile barrages since the war began in February.

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 Christmas holidays, which for the country’s Orthodox Christians falls on January 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.”

Read more here.

7:49 p.m. ET, December 29, 2022

Ruble hits 8-month low against dollar, as falling oil prices and sanctions bite

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, and 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.

Read more here.