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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8:14 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.