The UK is set to announce a major new artillery package for Ukraine as British prime minister Rishi Sunak prepares to meet with his Nordic, Baltic and Dutch counterparts in Riga, Latvia, on Monday. According to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office and as cited by Agence France-Presse, he will announce Britain’s intention to supply “hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition next year under a £250m ($304m) contract that will ensure a constant flow of critical artillery ammunition to Ukraine throughout 2023”.
Ukraine said Russian shelling targeted the southern city of Kherson on Sunday, which has faced repeated attacks since Kyiv’s forces recaptured it last month. “Another blow was delivered to the city center. Three people were injured. They received shrapnel wounds, one wounded is in a serious condition,” deputy head of the president’s office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said. Regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said on Sunday that Moscow’s troops had carried out 54 attacks on Kherson region with artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, tanks and mortars over the previous day, leaving three dead and wounding six others.
Four people in the southern Russian border region of Belgorod were reportedly wounded by shelling on Sunday, the governor said. Witnesses reported loud blasts in the regional capital.
Ukraine’s forces are holding on to the heavily contested eastern city of Bakhmut, according to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “The Bakhmut direction is key,” he said in his latest national address. “We keep the city, although the occupiers are doing everything so that not a single undamaged wall remains there.”
Power has been restored to three million more Ukrainians after the latest Russian attacks on infrastructure, bringing the total to nine million after two days, Ukraine’s president has said. “Electricity supplies have been restored to a further three million Ukrainians,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his Sunday evening video address. “That means after the terrorist strikes on Friday, we have results already for nine million of our people.” Heating has also been fully restored to Kyiv, the city’s mayor said.
Protecting Ukraine’s borders is a “constant priority” as the country prepares for all possible scenarios with Russia and its ally Belarus, Zelenskiy added. “Protecting our border, both with Russia and Belarus – is our constant priority,” he said in his nightly video address. “We are preparing for all possible defense scenarios.” Zelenskiy also issued a new appeal to western nations to provide Ukraine with effective air defenses.
Russia will reportedly deploy musicians to Ukraine’s frontlines in a bid to boost morale, according to its defense ministry. The “frontline creative brigade” will be tasked with maintaining “a high moral, political and psychological state [among] the participants of the special military operation,” Russian outlet RBC news quoted the ministry as saying. UK defense officials said the new unit is in keeping with the historic use of “military music and organized entertainment” to boost morale as low morale continues to be a “significant vulnerability across much of the Russian force”.
Iran’s foreign ministry has said it will not “seek permission from anyone” to expand relations with Russia, dismissing US concerns over a growing military partnership between Tehran and Moscow. Iran has been accused of supplying drones to Russia, allegedly used to attack Ukraine. CIA chief William Burns said the military cooperation between Iran and Russia “poses real threats” to US allies in the Middle East. Nasser Kanani, spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, called the comments “baseless” adding that Tehran “acts independently in regulating its foreign relations and does not seek permission from anyone”.
Veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger believes the time is approaching for a negotiated peace in Ukraine. “The time is approaching to build on the strategic changes which have already been accomplished and to integrate them into a new structure towards achieving peace through negotiation,” Kissinger wrote in The Spectator magazine. “A peace process should link Ukraine to Nato, however expressed. The alternative of neutrality is no longer meaningful,” he added. Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed the comments as amounting to “appeasing the aggressor” and said there could be no deal involving ceding territory. “Any agreement with the devil – a bad peace at the expense of Ukrainian territories – will be a victory for Putin and a recipe for success for autocrats around the world,” he said in a statement on Telegram.