Ukraine latest: Zelenskyy ‘counting’ on more U.S. aid, he tells new House speaker


The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022 continues, with casualties rising on both sides.

Ukrainian forces are mounting a strong counteroffensive against Russian troops, reclaiming territory lost when Moscow launched its invasion.

Ukraine has managed to withstand the Russian onslaught with the help of Western military aid, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

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Note: Nikkei Asia decided on March 5 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Tokyo time)

5:30 a.m. Ukraine has announced sanctions on 119 mostly Russian cultural figures for reasons that presidential chief-of-staff Andriy Yermak says include visiting Russian-occupied territories and participating in concerts that advance Moscow’s propaganda.

The list includes singer Irina Allegrova and Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian state-controlled media group RT.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak calls the sanctioned figures “propagandists of death.”

5:00 a.m. With new Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he hopes for continued engagement with Washington, his country’s most important source of military aid.

In congratulating Kevin McCarthy on becoming House speaker on Twitter, Zelenskyy says Ukraine is “counting on your continued support and further U.S. assistance to bring our common victory closer.”

It took 15 rounds of voting to elect McCarthy as speaker, a politically grueling fight that observers say may bode ill for his leadership.

Some House Republicans have sought a more vigorous congressional debate on the growing flows of U.S. military aid to Ukraine, now at nearly $25 billion since the start of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Zelenskyy enjoyed a cordial relationship with the previous House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, who led a delegation on a visit to Kyiv last May and welcomed him to Congress in December.

Saturday, Jan. 7

7:41 a.m. The U.S. has announced $3.75 billion in military assistance for Ukraine and other affected countries, mostly from a drawdown from Department of Defense stocks. The $2.85 billion drawdown will immediately supply Ukraine with Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missiles, ammunition and more, the State Department says.

This brings total American military assistance for Ukraine to about $24.9 billion since the start of the Biden administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in the news release.

Ukrainian servicemen remain on the front line on Jan. 6 during an Orthodox Christmas cease-fire announced by Russia.

  © Reuters

4:30 a.m. Fighting continues in Ukraine despite Russia’s unilateral declaration of a 36-hour cease-fire for the Orthodox Christmas holiday, according to reports from both sides.

Ukrainian media report 14 shelling attacks in the eastern region of Luhansk in the three hours following the start of the cease-fire.

The Russian side says it came under fire from Ukrainian forces after the start of the cease-fire, Tass reports, citing a Defense Ministry spokesperson.

Ukraine has rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s temporary truce. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells visiting U.S. senators that the cease-fire was a ploy meant to disguise the Russian military’s true intentions.

Separately, Zelenskyy thanks U.S. President Joe Biden for a new military aid package that includes Bradley fighting vehicles, calling it an “[a]wesome Christmas present” for Ukraine.

1:15 a.m. The U.S. imposes sanctions on seven top officials at Iranian drone maker Qods Aviation Industries as well as the Aerospace Industries Organization, which oversees Iran’s ballistic missile program, accusing them of supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The sanctions are the Biden administration’s latest action targeting Iran’s ability to produce Shahed- and Mohajer-series unmanned aerial vehicles, “which Moscow continues to use in its brutal attacks against Ukraine, including its critical infrastructure,” the State Department says in a news release.

Friday, Jan. 6

6:20 p.m. A unilateral Russian cease-fire ordered by President Vladimir Putin has come into force along the entire front as of noon Moscow time, Russian state television said. “At noon today, the cease-fire regime came into force on the entire contact line,” Russia’s state First Channel said. “It will continue until the end of January 7.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine says there will be no truce until Moscow withdraws.

  © AP

10:30 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden suggests Vladimir Putin’s struggle in Ukraine after 10 months of war and thousands of lives lost has prompted the Russian president to offer a 36-hour truce. The Kremlin said Putin has ordered a cease-fire to start on Friday. Ukraine had spurned an offer of a cease-fire during Russia’s Orthodox Christmas period, saying there would be no truce until Moscow withdraws. Asked about the latest proposal, Biden said: “I’m reluctant to respond to anything that Putin says. I found it interesting that he was willing to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches … on the 25th and New Year’s. I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.”

4:30 a.m. The leaders of the U.S. and Germany announce new military aid to Ukraine, joining France in pledging armored fighting vehicles for the war effort.

The U.S. will supply Ukraine with Bradley fighting vehicles and train Ukrainian forces to use them.

The U.S. will supply Ukraine with Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles while Germany intends to provide Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles, President Joe Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz say in a joint press statement after a phone call.

The statement does not say when the vehicles will arrive in Ukraine, but the leaders say that Ukrainian forces will be trained to use them. The new U.S. weapons package for Ukraine will include about 50 Bradleys, Reuters reports, citing two U.S. officials.

The announcement follows France’s promise to send AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles to Ukraine.

All of these pledges stop short of supplying Ukraine with heavily armored, big-gunned tanks, which no Western nation has yet to provide. The Bradley and Marder fighting vehicles were designed as armored personnel carriers for reconnaissance.

To bolster Ukraine’s air defenses, Germany will join the U.S. in supplying an additional Patriot missile battery, the leaders say.

1:50 a.m. Ukraine has rejected a unilateral cease-fire declared by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who seeks a truce during the Orthodox Christmas holiday. Read more.

“RF must leave the occupied territories — only then will it have a ‘temporary truce,'” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says, referring to the Russian Federation.

Thursday, Jan. 5

10:00 p.m. Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to visit, the president’s chief of staff says.

Andriy Yermak met with the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine, Kuninori Matsuda, on Thursday, according to the presidential office.

Yermak congratulated Japan on assuming the Group of Seven presidency for 2023 and said regular talks between Zelenskyy and G-7 leaders are an effective way to rally the international community against Russian aggression.

“We look forward to new results of this cooperation,” Yermak said.

Among G-7 leaders, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with Zelenskyy in Ukraine last November. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italy’s then-Prime Minister Mario Draghi made a joint visit to Kyiv in June.

Kishida visited Ukraine in 2013 while he was Japan’s foreign minister.

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to visit. (Nikkei montage/Zelenskyy photo by Reuters)

2:00 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a frigate armed with the country’s latest Zircon hypersonic missile on a transoceanic cruise, a show of force as tensions with the West escalate over the war in Ukraine. Russia says Zircon missiles can evade any Western air defense by flying at an astounding 11,265 kilometers per hour. Commissioned by the navy in 2018 following long trials, the Admiral Gorshkov is the first ship in a new series of frigates designed to replace the Russian navy’s aging Soviet-built destroyers as a key strike component.

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1:30 p.m. CES is not allowing Russian companies to display their products at the annual tech show because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. A spokesperson for the Consumer Technology Association, the trade group putting together the event in Las Vegas, said the move has only impacted one potential exhibitor. No Russian exhibitors were present at last year’s show, but four attended virtually in 2021, the spokesperson said. The U.S. is among about 30 countries that have sanctioned Russia over the invasion.

10:30 a.m. Australia announces it will boost its defense capabilities by spending more than 1 billion Australian dollars ($700 million) on new advanced missile and rocket systems, including U.S.-made HIMARS which have been successfully used by Ukraine’s military. In Ukraine, the truck-mounted HIMARS have proved crucial in enabling Ukrainian forces to hit key targets, including a recent strike on one building that killed at least 89 Russian soldiers.

5:00 a.m. France will become the first Western nation to supply armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine.

The presidential office, which announced the provision of the AMX-10 RC vehicles, did not say how many would be sent to Ukraine, or when.

Developed as tank destroyers, the AMX-10 RC travels on wheels, not tracks like tanks. France will also sent Bastion armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for the pledge of armor “as well as for intensifying work with partners in the same direction.”

U.S. President Joe Biden said “yes” when asked on Wednesday whether his administration was considering sending armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine, Reuters reports.

So far, the U.S. has stopped short of supplying Ukraine with tanks but has supported refurbishing Soviet-era Czech T-72 tanks for deployment in the war-torn country.

12:00 a.m. As Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives feud over the choice of the next speaker of the House, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanks outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Zelenskyy and Pelosi met both in Kyiv and in Washington, where the Ukrainian leader delivered an address to Congress last month.

For earlier updates, click here.

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