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Ukraine updates: Kyiv attacked by overnight drones

Ukraine said it downed 16 “kamikaze” drones that targeted the capital and other cities. Meanwhile, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said military support for Ukraine “is the fastest way to peace.” DW rounds up the latest.

Ukraine’s army said on Friday that Russia launched 16 Iranian-made kamikaze drones in an overnight attack on the country. 

This came a day after Moscow launched a barrage of missiles on Ukrainian cities

Ukraine’s air defense destroyed “all” the 16 drones from the latest attack, Ukrainian officials said.

Air raid sirens wailed across the capital at around 2 a.m. local time (0000 GMT) and lasted for two hours. 

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the capital was attacked with seven drones, adding that two were shot down “on approach” and five over the city.  

There were no immediate reports of casualties. Klitschko said debris damaged windows in two buildings in Kyiv’s southwest. 

Moscow has targeted Ukraine’s energy grid in recent months, leaving millions of Ukrainians without heating or power in the cold winter months. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that most regions of the country were left without power following Thursday’s attack. 

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Friday, December 30:

Putin and Xi hold talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that he sought to strengthen military cooperation with Moscow’s key ally, Beijing. 

“We aim to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China,” Putin told Xi, calling the Chinese leader a “dear friend.”

The Kremlin chief also praised Moscow and Beijing’s efforts to counter “unprecedented Western pressure and provocations.”

“In the context of growing geopolitical tensions, the importance is growing of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership as a stabilizing factor,” Putin said.

NATO urges more military support for Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said military support for Ukraine “is the fastest way to peace.”

“We know that most wars end at the negotiating table — probably this war too — but we know that what Ukraine can achieve in these negotiations depends inextricably on the military situation,” he said in an interview with the German dpa news agency.

“If you want a negotiated peaceful solution ensuring that Ukraine prevails as an independent democratic state, the best way of achieving that is to provide Ukraine with military support.”

Stoltenberg also called on allies to “do more,” saying that Ukraine was in an “enormous” need of ammunition. 

Britain gives Ukraine tools to clear minefields 

British Defence Minister Ben Wallace said London was providing Ukraine with more than 1,000 metal detectors and 100 kits to deactivate bombs as Ukrainian forces work to clear minefields planted by Russia.

“Russia’s use of landmines and targeting of civilian infrastructure underline the shocking cruelty of Putin’s invasion,” Wallace said in a statement. 

The German-made metal detectors can help remove explosive hazards and the kits can defuse unexploded bombs, the British Defence Ministry said. 

UK intelligence: Russia’s officers shuffle likely due to division

The British Defence Ministry’s regular intelligence update said Russia was likely in the process of changing the chief of its Western Group of Forces in Ukraine for the fourth time since the beginning of the war

Lieutenant General Yevgeniy Nikiforov is likely replacing Colonel General Sergei Kuzovlev, who was appointed just three months ago, the report said. 

According to the report, Nikiforov was involved in planning “the disastrous attempt […] to advance on Kyiv from the north-west, via the Chernobyl area” in the early weeks of the invasion. 

“The continued churn of senior Russian officers probably reflects internal divisions regarding the Russian Ministry of Defence’s future conduct of the war,” it added.

RSF: 8 journalists killed in Ukraine since Russian invasion

Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its latest report that Ukraine was currently the most dangerous country in Europe for the media after Russia.

At least eight journalists were killed in Ukraine since Russia launched the war in February, RSF said. The figure marks a huge surge, as the country saw a total of 12 media deaths in the previous 19 years. 

“The war that began in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 is one of the reasons why this country has Europe’s second highest death toll,” RSF said. 

In Russia, 25 journalists were killed over the past two decades, according to RSF’s assessment. 

“Since [President] Vladimir Putin took over, Russia has seen systematic attacks on press freedom — including deadly ones — as RSF has repeatedly reported,” the group said. 

Ukraine says 15,000 missing since start of war

Aliona Verbytska, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, told German media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) that thousands of soldiers and civilians were reported missing since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February. 

“Russia has currently confirmed 3,392 Ukrainian prisoners of war, but in Ukraine some 15,000 people are considered missing, among them many civilians,” said Verbytska, who works as an ombudswoman for the rights of Ukrainian soldiers. 

The Ukrainian government is completely uncertain about the fate of these people, said Verbytska.

“We don’t know what happened to them,” she said. “Are they also Russian prisoners of war, have they been taken from Russian-occupied territories or possibly killed long ago?”

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