Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the food crisis as a result of the Ukraine war was felt worldwide — now on its 288th day.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that “there is no doubt that a full-fledged war is a possibility,” adding that it was important to avoid a conflict
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that “there is no doubt that a full-fledged war is a possibility,” adding that it was important to avoid a conflict "that involves more countries in Europe and becomes a full-fledged war in Europe”. (Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix via AP)

Friday, December 9, 2022

NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict

The head of NATO expressed worry that the fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between Russia and NATO, according to an interview released Friday.

“It is a terrible war in Ukraine. It is also a war that can become a full-fledged war that spreads into a major war between NATO and Russia,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in remarks to Norwegian broadcaster NRK. "We are working on that every day to avoid that.”

Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, said in the interview that “there is no doubt that a full-fledged war is a possibility,” adding that it was important to avoid a conflict "that involves more countries in Europe and becomes a full-fledged war in Europe.”

Russia, White House say more prison swaps possible

With negotiations and compromises, Russia and the US could exchange more prisoners in the future, President Vladimir Putin said at a news conference in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, after a Eurasian Economic Union summit.

Commenting on the swap of American basketball star Brittney Griner and Russian national Viktor Bout, Putin said it happened because “compromises were found,” and that Moscow does not "rule out continuing such efforts in the future.” 

John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, told reporters in response to Putin's comment that further prisoner swaps are possible: "We're going go be actively working through those channels to try to bring Paul home." He said "actions, not words" matter. 

Germany to give Ukraine Skynex air defence systems: report

Germany will supply Ukraine with two Skynex mobile air defence systems, according to a local media report.

The systems will be purchased from the German manufacturer Rheinmetall for nearly €194 million ($204 million), the Handelsblatt newspaper reported, and Rheinmetall confirmed it would be supplying “an international customer” with two Skynex air defence systems, without disclosing the recipient country.

“The systems will enhance the customer’s ability to defend itself against aerial threats,” Rheinmetall said in a statement, adding that they will be delivered at the beginning of 2024. Germany has pledged to provide Ukraine with €2 billion ($2.11 billion) worth of arms and equipment that will be purchased this year from German defence companies.

Bulgaria to send its first military aid to Ukraine

Bulgaria will send its first military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion after parliament approved a list of arms drawn up by the interim government.

It had been one of the few EU countries not to send aid after the Russia-friendly Socialist party, a coalition partner in the previous government, blocked a previous proposal in May.

The list of arms is classified, but government officials have said Sofia would mainly send light weaponry and ammunition.

Biden authorises new $275M in military aid for Ukraine - White House

The White House announced a new 275-million-dollar aid package to help boost Ukraine's air defences, against Russian drones in particular.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters the aid "will soon be on its way to provide Ukraine with new capabilities to boost its air defences and counter the threats that Ukraine is facing from drones."

Putin: There were some problems supplying newly mobilised troops

Putin said that there had been some problems procuring equipment and clothes for the hundreds of thousands of troops Moscow has conscripted to fight in Ukraine in recent months.

At a news conference in Bishkek, he said some of the issues related to supplying the 300,000 men who were called up in a mobilisation drive in September and October were now easing.

Putin: Russia may have to make Ukraine deal one day

Putin said Russia would likely have to reach agreements regarding Ukraine in the future, but felt betrayed by the breakdown of the Minsk agreements.

Putin said Germany and France — which brokered ceasefire agreements in the Belarusian capital Minsk between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 — had betrayed Russia and were now pumping Ukraine with weapons.

In an interview published in Germany's Zeit magazine on Wednesday, former German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the Minsk agreements had been an attempt to "give Ukraine time" to build up its defences. Speaking at a news conference in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, Putin said he was "disappointed" by Merkel's comments.

Russian politician sentenced for Ukraine action criticism

Russia sentenced opposition politician Ilya Yashin to eight and a half years in prison for spreading "false information" about Russia's offensive in Ukraine, the highest-profile conviction under new legislation criminalising criticism of the assault.

The 39-year-old Moscow councillor is just the latest in a long line of Kremlin critics to have been sidelined in recent years in a crackdown that has intensified after the start of the war.

Judge Oksana Goryunova said Yashin had committed a crime by disseminating "knowingly false information about Russia's armed forces" and sentenced him to eight years and six months in a penal colony.

Russia is expanding its nuclear arsenal: Austin

Russia is expanding and modernising its nuclear arsenal, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a time when Putin, faced with setbacks in Ukraine, has repeatedly suggested he could use nuclear weapons.

Russia has said that it will pay special attention to building infrastructure for its nuclear forces in 2023.

Earlier on Friday, Putin vowed at a news conference that any country that dared attack Russia with nuclear weapons would be wiped from the face of the earth and said that Russia had no mandate to launch a preventative first nuclear strike but that Russia's advanced hypersonic weapons would ensure Russia could respond forcefully if it ever came under attack.

Russia beat, detained two nuclear plant staff: Ukraine

Ukraine accused Russian troops of detaining two senior employees at the occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant, Europe's largest nuclear facility, after a "brutal beating".

"Yesterday ... the Russian military broke into the premises of the social programmes department and... severely beat the department head Oleksiy Trubenkov and his deputy Yuriy Androsov," Ukraine's nuclear agency Energoatom said.

"After a brutal beating, the invaders took them out of the premises in an unknown direction," the state-run company said and added that Russia "intensified repression" against the facility's staff.

TotalEnergies walks away from stake in Russian gas producer

French energy giant TotalEnergies said that it will walk away from its stake in Russian natural gas producer Novatek and take a $3.7 billion loss.

TotalEnergies, which has come under criticism for pursuing some of its projects in Russia amid the war in Ukraine, said Western sanctions prevent it from selling its 19.4 percent stake to the Russian company. It said it was withdrawing its representatives from the Novatek board, who have been abstaining from voting because of sanctions, with “immediate effect."

As a result, TotalEnergies will no longer account for its ownership interest in Novatek, which will lead it “to record an impairment of approximately $3.7 billion in the accounts for the 4th quarter of 2022," the French company said in a statement.

Russian assets worth $19.9B frozen in EU over Ukraine war

EU countries, led by Belgium and Luxembourg, have frozen $1.9.9 billion worth of assets belonging to Russian oligarchs and entities hit by sanctions over the war on Ukraine, Brussels has said.

Belgium leads the way with 3.5 billion euros blocked, followed by Luxembourg with 2.5 billion, Italy with 2.3 billion and Germany with 2.2 billion, according to EU statistics seen by AFP.

Ireland, Austria, France and Spain were the other members of the 27-country bloc to have frozen more than 1 billion euros each, according to data declared by November 25.

Putin accuses West of turning Ukraine into 'colony'

 In an attempt to preserve its global dominance, the West has turned Ukraine into a "colony" and is using Ukrainians as "cannon fodder," Putin said.

"For a number of years, the West has shamelessly siphoned and exploited its (Ukraine's) resources, encouraged genocide and terror in the Donbass, turned this country into a colony, and now cynically uses the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder, as a battering ram against Russia, continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, sending mercenaries, pushing it on a suicidal path," Putin said in a video message.

These are the "severe consequences" of illegal economic and trade sanctions deployed to contain alternatives to Western models of development, as well as colour revolutions to oust "disagreeable governments" and fuel military conflicts, Putin said, addressing a meeting of senior defence officials of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Moscow.

'We ended threat of poverty' through Istanbul grain deal: Ukraine's president

Through the landmark deal this summer unblocking grain exports and staving off a food crisis, Ukraine along with Türkiye and the UN put "an end to threat of poverty," said the Ukrainian president.

Addressing the 6th TRT World Forum in Istanbul via video message, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the food crisis as a result of the Ukraine war was felt worldwide.

"The food crisis that happened this year led to instabilities in the global market. Different countries felt the negative ramifications of the food crisis, starting with some African and Asian countries," he added.

Putin vows more strikes on Ukraine energy infrastructure

Putin vowed to keep battering Ukraine's energy grid despite an outcry against the systematic attacks that have plunged millions into the cold and dark as winter sets in.

He instead blamed Ukraine for initiating a trend of attacking civilian infrastructure, pointing to a blast on a key bridge between the Russian mainland and the annexed Crimean peninsula that he recently visited. 

"There's a lot of noise about our strikes on the energy infrastructure of a neighbouring country. This will not interfere with our combat missions," Putin said at a military awards ceremony in the Kremlin.

War shows EU lacks 'critical defence capabilities': Borrell

Russia's war on Ukraine has drained the EU's weapon stockpiles and showed it lacks "critical" capabilities to protect against the threat on its border, the bloc's foreign policy chief said.

"This war against Ukraine has been a brutal wake-up for many of us," Josep Borrell told a defence conference in Brussels. 

"We realise that our military stockpiles have been quickly depleted due to years of under investment."

Red Cross visits Ukrainian, Russian POWs but seeks more access

The Red Cross announced it had recently visited some Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war but said it wants regular access to them all, following ill-treatment and torture allegations.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine recently detailed the mistreatment of POWs by their Russian and Ukrainian captors, including torture, beatings, electric shocks, and humiliating treatment while naked.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross last week carried out one two-day visit to Ukrainian prisoners of war, with another happening this week," the ICRC said.

Ukraine accuses Russia of heightening radiation dangers

Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at Ukraine's shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukrainian officials claimed, raising fears Europe's largest atomic power station could be used as a base to fire on Ukrainian territory and heightening radiation dangers.

Ukraine's nuclear company Energoatom said in a statement that Russian forces occupying the plant have placed several Grad multiple rocket launchers near one of its six nuclear reactors.

It said the offensive systems are located at new "protective structures" the Russians secretly built, "violating all conditions for nuclear and radiation safety." The claim could not be independently verified. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling the plant and risking a radiation release.

Zelenskyy vows to drive Russia from all Ukraine's lands 

Zelenskyy has said his troops will eventually drive Russia from all the captured territory, including the Crimea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, which sits between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

He also paid tribute to four policemen killed by landmines in Kherson province.

"This is perhaps even fiercer and more devious than missile terror," said Zelenksyy, whose country has faced barrages of Russian missile and drone strikes. "For there is no system against mines that could destroy at least part of the threat as our anti-aircraft systems do."

He accused Russian forces of deliberately leaving behind buried landmines, tripwire mines, mined buildings, cars and infrastructure in places they abandoned under Ukrainian military pressure.

For live updates from Thursday (December 8), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies