Russian President Putin acknowledges that his army could be fighting in Ukraine for a long time, but for now there will be no second call-up of soldiers, as conflict enters its 287th day.

Russia started daily strikes in Ukraine after the October 8 explosion on the bridge connecting the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula with mainland Russia.
Russia started daily strikes in Ukraine after the October 8 explosion on the bridge connecting the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula with mainland Russia. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi / Reuters)

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Ukraine conflict can end tomorrow if Kiev shows political will: Kremlin

The conflict in Ukraine may end as early as tomorrow if Kiev shows the political will, a Kremlin spokesman said.

"In this case, here you can talk until you're blue in the face, when it's all over. (Ukraine's President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy knows when it can all end, it can all end tomorrow if he has a will," Dmitry Peskov said at a press briefing in Moscow, commenting on remarks by Ukraine's leader that the conflict may end in 2023.

Also on Thursday, Peskov commented on Time magazine's decision to name Zelenskyy as "Person of the Year," saying "The publication's editorial line does not go beyond the European mainstream, which is absolutely blinkered, anti-Russian and frantically Russophobic." 

Goal of Zaporizhzhia nuclear safety zone is to 'stop Ukraine shelling': Russia

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the main goal of a proposed safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was to "stop Ukraine shelling" the facility, while Kiev said Moscow was storing advanced weapons on the site.

The plant has come under repeated shelling - for which Kiev and Moscow blame each other -  since Russia seized it shortly after the war began in February, prompting the United Nations nuclear watchdog to call for a demilitarised safety zone around the plant.

Russia for months rejected the calls but has since appeared to warm to the initiative, though the sides have failed to agree on details of what a potential secure zone could look like. The IAEA hopes to have an agreement in place by the end of the year.

Strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure 'response to Kiev's actions': Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow carries out strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure in response to Kiev's actions.

"There is a lot of fuss about our strikes on the energy infrastructure of the neighbouring country. Yes, we do that. But who started that? Who hit the Crimean Bridge? Who blew up the power lines from the Kursk nuclear power plant? Who cut water supply to Donetsk? Cutting water supply to a million-population city is an act of genocide," Putin told a meeting with the servicemen nominated for the Hero of Russia state award.

"No one has said a word about (Ukraine's actions in Donbass) anywhere at all, complete silence. And as soon as we move, we do something in response – noise, uproar, crackling throughout the universe," he said.

US plans to fuel conflict in Ukraine till 2025: Moscow

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the US plans to fuel the conflict in Ukraine through at least the end of 2025.  

She said that such a conclusion may be drawn from documents published by US authorities – in late November they signed a three-year, $1.2 billion contract with aerospace conglomerate Raytheon for the purchase of air defence systems for Kiev.

She said the US presidential administration requested $37 billion in 2023 for additional assistance to Ukraine, and added that Moscow expects that a significant part of this amount will go to the needs of the Ukrainian army, and the rest will "settle on accounts" in European, world banks and private funds. Earlier, committees of both chambers of the US Congress agreed on a draft defence budget for next year, and the document provides for the transfer of at least $800 million to Ukraine.

Russian forces plan to 'liberate' annexed parts of Ukraine

The Kremlin has said that its forces are still set on seizing parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that Moscow has claimed as its own.

Asked about the goals of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia still has to "liberate" parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Moscow proclaimed it had annexed those four regions of Ukraine after holding so-called referendums in September.

Kremlin says 'risk' of Ukrainian attacks in Crimea

The Kremlin said it was vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks on the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula after the Russian military downed a drone near its largest city.

"There are certainly risks because the Ukrainian side continues its policy of organising terrorist attacks. But, on the other hand, information we get indicates that effective countermeasures are being taken," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia may change approach to medium-range missiles moratorium if US deploys missiles in Europe or Asia

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow would adhere to its moratorium on deploying intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe, as long as the United States did not deploy such weapons in Europe or Asia.

"The moratorium is still in place, but if such weapons are deployed by the United States on European or Asian territory, our approach cannot remain unchanged," Ryabkov told the Rossiya 24 news channel, echoing comments he made a year ago.

Ukraine faces 'significant' power shortages after Russian attacks

Ukraine enforced new emergency power cuts as it tried to repair energy infrastructure damaged in Russian air strikes which the national grid operator said had caused significant supply shortages.

Russia pummeled power facilities across Ukraine in the latest big wave of attacks on Monday at a time of the year when energy consumption usually rises because winter is setting in.

"As of 11:00 a.m. on December 8, because of damage caused by missile strikes to power plants and the high-voltage network, the system has a significant shortage of electricity," grid operator Ukrenergo said.

Red Cross visits POWs held by Russia and Ukraine, commends progress

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) gained access to both Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war last week and more visits are planned in what it described in a statement as "important progress".

Since Russia attacked Ukraine in February, the Geneva-based body has reached hundreds of prisoners on both sides. But hitherto, that access has been "sporadic", it said. 

"My expectation is that these visits lead to more regular access to all prisoners of war," the statement cited ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric as saying.

After months of airstrikes, restoring energy a priority: Ukraine

After months of Russian airstrikes targeting utilities that have left millions of Ukrainians without power, restoring energy will remain a priority item for Ukraine’s government, according to the nation’s president.

“(The) energy sector is a permanent item on our agenda – both at the staff and government levels,” Zelenskyy said in an address.

Noting that he held a meeting on the stabilisation of the energy system and the protection of Ukrainian power plants, Zelenskyy said they are increasing the generation and supply of electricity by adding more volume to the country’s energy system “almost every day.”

EU 'stepping up pressure' on Russia with proposed 9th package of sanctions

The European Union is proposing to add around 200 more individuals and entities to its sanctions list and to introduce sanctions against three more Russian banks in an effort to step up pressure against Moscow over the war against Ukraine, the president of the European Commission said.

In a video message shared on Twitter, Ursula von der Leyen said the EU’s previous eight sanctions packages against Russia are "already biting hard" and the bloc is now "stepping up pressure on Russia" with a ninth package.

“First, we are proposing to add almost 200 additional individuals and entities to our sanctions list. This includes the Russian armed forces as well as individual officers and defence industrial companies, members of the State Duma and Federation Council, ministers, governors and political parties,” she noted. 

Russian troops take part in tactical drills in Belarus

Russia said its troops were taking part in tactical exercises in Belarus, amid fears that Moscow is pressing its ally to get more involved in the Ukraine war.

Belarus has said it will not enter the war in Ukraine, but President Alexander Lukashenko has in the past ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing threats from Kiev and the West.

In a statement, Russia's defence ministry said, "Servicemen of the Western Military District ... continue intensive combat training on the ranges of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus."

Ukraine conflict casts its shadow on biodiversity summit

The Ukraine conflict has cast a shadow over a high-stakes UN summit on biodiversity in Montreal, as Western nations slammed the environmental destruction brought about by Russia's offensive.

Supported by Western allies, Zelenskyy accused Moscow of "ecocide" and of devastating his country's dolphin population.

Russia fired back that the meeting was an inappropriate forum and accused its critics of attempting to sabotage a new global deal for nature.

Russian delegate Denis Rebrikov said that conflicts of the recent past — such as those in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria — were not brought up at environmental summits, despite the harms done to ecosystems.

Russia nuke threat reduced — Scholz

The risk of nuclear weapons being used in the Ukraine conflict has lessened thanks to international pressure on Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published Thursday.

"One thing has changed for the time being: Russia has stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons. In response to the international community marking a red line," Scholz said in the interview with Germany's Funke media group.

For live updates from Wednesday (December 7), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies