Ukraine news – latest: Putin rules out peace talks as Kremlin says more US weapons will worsen war

‘We will beat Russia,’ says Zelensky

Russia has warned more US weapons aiding the war in Ukraine will worsen the siege, issuing a direct threat to the war-hit country on the sidelines of Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington.

The flow of western weapon supplies to Ukraine has triggered “an aggravation of the conflict and, in fact, does not bode well for Ukraine,” warned the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday, adding that Russia saw no chance of peace talks with Kyiv.

His remarks came just hours before Mr. Zelensky addressed the US Congress amid a rousing cheer and support for the nation under Russian invasion. The Ukrainian president was also seen holding back tears as all members of the US House gave him a standing ovation.

The high-level diplomatic visit between Mr Zelensky and Joe Biden has not gone down well with Russia which has warned that this will backfire.

Mr. Putin is now eyeing a new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile in the Russian military to replace aging Soviet-era missiles.

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EU to hold summit with Zelensky in new year

The European Union’s 27 heads of state and government and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will hold a summit in February next year, but the location has not been determined.

“I can confirm the EU-Ukraine summit will take place on February 3 and there is an open invitation to President Zelenskiy to visit Brussels,” said Barend Leyts, spokesman for the chairman of EU leaders.

The spokesperson said the invitation for President Zelensky to visit Brussels did not mean that’s where the summit would be held.

Officials said the theme of the summit was likely to be how the EU can continue to support Ukraine against Russia. Leaders would also assess Ukraine’s path to membership in the bloc.

President Zelensky has made regular appearances via video-link at EU summits since the start of the Russian invasion in February. He made his first in-person trip since the start of the war to Washington on Wednesday.

Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress in his first trip abroad since Russia’s invasion

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Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress in his first trip abroad since Russia’s invasion

(Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Sam Rkaina22 December 2022 10:16

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Is the Ukraine war really just a US ‘proxy’ fight against Russia?

The Independent‘s Andrew Buncombe explores the question in his latest Voices column.

As the months have gone on, so too has the US’s involvement in the conflict become deeper and more intertwined.

Initially, the US was content to call on Putin to withdraw his forces. Soon, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was calling for Russia to be “weakened” as a nation, and made unable to launch such an operation again. Earlier this month, the US gave in to demands from Kyiv and dispatched its highest capability defense system, the Patriot missile.

If there was any lingering doubt what is happening in Ukraine is now a full-on proxy war for the US, it was dispatched by the visit to Washington DC this week of Zelensky, his first visit outside of the country since the invasion began.

Josh Marcus22 December 2022 10:00

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Talks on Zaporizhzhia safe zone ‘close’, says Russian nuclear energy firm

Talks with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi about a safe zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – which is held by Russia – would continue, Moscow’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom has said.

The firm said that the two sides’ positions were “close” to each other.

Andy Gregory22 December 2022 09:26

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Zelensky outlines his version of a ‘just peace’ with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was asked by a report from his own country about what a “just peace” with Russia would look like, and the wartime leader offered a philosophical answer.

Speaking alongside President Joe Biden in his first appearance with a world leader outside of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, Mr Zelensky pontificated on what that phrase meant and whether reaching such a peaceful end to the war was even possible in its current state.

He firstly described his own definition of such a resolution: “[N]o compromise as to the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country”, as well as reparations for the damages inflicted by Russian forces during their invasion. Presumably, this would mean the end of Russian occupation in breakaway regions annexed by Moscow after the conflict began in 2014.

But Mr. Zelensky went on to say that for many parents of those killed by Russian forces in the brutal war, a “just peace” would mean seeking revenge for the deaths of their loved ones.

John Bowden has the details.

Josh Marcus22 December 2022 09:00

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EXPLAINER: How the latest US aid makes Ukraine stronger

The presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Washington on Wednesday puts a dramatic exclamation point on the Biden administration’s latest announcement of military aid to the war-torn nation.

In ways big and small, the massive $1.85 billion package will expand the abilities of Zelenskyy’s troops to take out incoming Russian airstrikes and continue counter-offensives to push back against the invading troops. It also allows President Joe Biden to deliver his commitment to one of Zelenskyy’s most urgent battlefield requests — a Patriot missile battery.

And there’s more help to come. Beyond the assistance announced Wednesday, Congress is poised to approve an additional $45 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The money is part of a massive government funding bill that would support Ukraine not only next year, but in some cases into 2025, ensuring continued assistance even as the House changes hands to Republican control.

Lolita Baldor and Tara Copp have the story.

Josh Marcus22 December 2022 08:43

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US aid to Ukraine ‘is not charity’, says Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky has told the US Congress that aid to Ukraine is an investment in democracy, not charity – as he sought to soften Republican concerns over the size of funding handed to Ukraine since the war began, before they assume control of the House of Representatives in a fortnight.

“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” the Ukrainian president told a joint session of the House and Senate.

The world was too interconnected to allow any country to stand aside and feel safe, he added.

Andy Gregory22 December 2022 08:22

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Belarus ‘discreetly’ training thousands of Russian reservists in ‘role reversal’, UK claims

It is likely that Belarus has recently begun “discreetly” training thousands of newly mobilized Russian reservists, with Moscow’s reliance upon forces it typically deems inferior to its own a sign of “overstretch” in Ukraine, the UK has claimed.

“The likely use of Belarusian instructors is an attempt to partially remedy the lack of Russian military trainers, many of whom are deployed in Ukraine or have become casualties,” said the British Ministry of Defence, in an “intelligence update” in the wake of Mr. Putin’s visit to Minsk on Monday.

“Although Russia and Belarus have an extensive background of military co-operation, the training of mobilized Russian personnel by Belarusians represents a role reversal.

“Belarusian forces have traditionally been considered by Russia as inferior to Russian forces and their employment as trainers is an indication of overstretch within the Russian military system.”

Andy Gregory22 December 2022 07:54

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US announces new export curbs for Wagner Group

The United States has unveiled new curbs on technology exports to Russia’s Wagner military group, in a bid to further choke off supplies to the contractor over its role in Vladimir Putin’s war.

The Wagner group, added to a trade blacklist in 2017 after Russia illegally annexed Crimea, will now be labeled a military end user and face tough new curbs on access to technology made anywhere in the world with US equipment.

“The Wagner Group is one of the most notorious mercenary organizations in the world and is actively committing atrocities and human rights abuses across Ukraine,” said US under-secretary of commerce for industry and security Alan Estevez.

“Today we are sending a clear message to non-state actors seeking to pick up the baton of brutality from Putin’s faltering military that the Department of Commerce will not hesitate to act against them.”

Andy Gregory22 December 2022 07:38

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Russian attacks ‘focal point’ of fighting in Donetsk – officials

Fighting has continued to batter Ukraine’s east amid Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington as Russian attacks targeted the Zaporizhzhia region.

Russian forces have pushed their offensive near the battered eastern front line in Bakhmut and Avdiivka — regions currently being hotly contested in Ukraine — and made the towns and villages the focal point of fighting in Donetsk, Ukraine’s military said last evening.

“Each day, there are anywhere from seven to 10 attempts to storm our positions. And it’s the same at night,” the commander of Ukraine’s “Freedom” battalion Petro Kuzyk said.

“They won’t be able to take Bakhmut, but if they take the heights above it and set up their artillery and cut our logistical arteries, that will make the situation much more difficult,” Mr. Kuzyk said.

Arpan Rai22 December 2022 07:06

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Zelensky thanks Biden and ‘ordinary people’ of America for support at the White House meeting

Mr. Zelensky, dressed in cargo pants and his signature military-style jacket, was greeted by the president and First Lady Jill Biden, who quickly escorted him through the executive mansion’s diplomatic entrance.

Mr. Zelensky’s arrival in the US marked the first moment since Russia invaded his country 300 days ago that the ground under his feet was foreign soil.

Andrew Feinberg has the story.

Josh Marcus22 December 2022 07:00

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