Fierce fighting is underway in Soledar, Donbass

Heavy fighting is underway on the outskirts of Soledar, a town in eastern Ukraine near Bakhmout – the hottest point on the front – said the leader of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. Follow the latest developments in the war in Ukraine hour by hour.

  • 13:32: London has not made a “final decision” to send tanks to Ukraine

Britain has yet to make a final decision on whether to send tanks to Ukraine – which would be its first – to help the country fight Russian troops, said the prime minister’s spokesman, Rishi Sunak. “We have not made a final decision on supplying the tanks at this stage… Until a decision is made on such matters, we do not comment on speculation about other equipment that may or may not be delivered,” he told reporters. .

The spokesperson added that the UK will continue to coordinate its support with its allies after Germany, France and the US all indicated last week they would provide armored vehicles to Ukraine: “We will continue to discuss with our Ukrainian partners the best form we can provide. And this was done in cooperation with our allies.”

  • 13:15: EU and NATO pledge to strengthen their support for Ukraine’s defense

The EU and NATO are committed to providing Ukraine with all the necessary military means to defend their homeland and discussions are scheduled “next week” on the types of weapons that can be provided, the leaders of the two organizations announced.

“Discussions are planned next week with Ukraine to see what kind of weapons are needed and which of the allies can afford them,” Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the meeting. institution.

These discussions will take place within the framework of the Ramstein group (a contact group for the defense of Ukraine) created by the United States, he explained.

“Russia has suffered heavy losses, but they should not be underestimated. Russia is mobilizing more troops and equipment. It is ready to suffer to continue the war. Vladimir Putin has not changed his goals and he must prepare to support Ukraine in the long term,” insisted Jens Stoltenberg.

  • 12:24 pm: EU promises new sanctions against Belarus for supporting Russia

The European Union will impose new sanctions on Belarus, as it continues to pressure Russia to end its war in Ukraine and extend the measure to countries supporting Moscow, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“We will continue to put pressure on the Kremlin as long as necessary with a biting sanctions regime, we will extend these sanctions to those who militarily support Russia’s wars such as Belarusians or Iran,” Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference. “And we will introduce new sanctions against Belarus in response to their role in Russia’s war on Ukraine.”

  • 11:56 a.m.: Armenia refuses to host Russian military drills in 2023

Armenia has announced that it will refuse to host military maneuvers by the Russian-led alliance in 2023, against a backdrop of dissatisfaction with Moscow over blocking a vital axis for the Nagorno-Karabakh supply enclave. .

This announcement comes as Armenia has redoubled signs of annoyance with its Russian ally, which it accuses of inaction in the face of Azerbaijani “provocations” around Nagorno-Karabakh – where Moscow, currently entangled in its offensive on Ukraine, has yet to deploy its troops. peacekeepers.

“Armenia does not consider it necessary to carry out the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) exercises this year… These exercises will not be carried out,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian told a news conference.

  • 11:41 a.m.: NATO should further strengthen its support for Ukraine, according to Jens Stoltenberg

NATO should further strengthen its support for Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

“We are determined to take the partnership between NATO and the EU to the next level,” said Jens Stoltenberg, who added that Vladimir Putin had “failed” in his attempts to divide Western allies over the issue of war in Ukraine.

  • 11:13 a.m.: Kremlin says Ukraine and the West are reacting ‘cynically’ to the Christmas truce

The Kremlin said Ukraine and the West were reacting “cynically” to a 36-hour truce proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark Orthodox Christmas.

“We are facing a cynical reaction from Kyiv and some Western leaders,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a daily news briefing.

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Russia says the truce was declared for humanitarian purposes so Orthodox Christians can celebrate Christmas, but Ukraine says Russian troops shelled dozens of positions and settlements along the front on Saturday, when a truce should have been in place.

  • 10:35 a.m.: “Very violent and bloody battle” takes place in Soledar, says militia leader Wagner

Heavy fighting is underway on the outskirts of Soledar, a town in eastern Ukraine near Bakhmout, the hottest point on the front, said the leader of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner.

“To be honest (…) Ukrainian soldiers are fighting bravely for Bakhmout and Soledar. A very violent and bloody battle is taking place on the western outskirts of Soledar,” said Yevgeny Prigojine, quoted on Telegram by his hasty service. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine respectfully defend the Soledar region. Claims of mass desertion from its ranks do not correspond to reality.”

The town of Soledar, located about ten kilometers northeast of Bakhmout, is close to Bakhmoutské, a village that pro-Russian separatists claim to have conquered. Denis Pushilin, a separatist leader in the Donetsk region, whose annexation by Moscow claims, also said on Russian television on Tuesday that Soledar was “very close to liberation”.

  • 09:11: The West is trying to divide Russia, says Vladimir Putin’s ally

Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the West was trying to divide Russia and aimed to wipe it off the world political map.

“In the face of emerging military threats, it is important for us to have armed forces and special services so that Russia’s enemies don’t even think they can fight us,” Patrushev told the Argumenti i Fakti newspaper.

  • 07:51: Russian warships conduct exercises in the Norwegian Sea

A Russian warship armed with hypersonic cruise weapons has conducted exercises in the Norwegian Sea, the Norwegian Defense Ministry has said.

“The crew of the frigate ‘Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet Gorshkov’ conducted air defense exercises in the Norwegian Sea,” the ministry said.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin sent a frigate into the Atlantic Ocean, armed with next-generation hypersonic cruise missiles, a signal to the West that Russia would not back down from the war in Ukraine.

With AFP and Reuters

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