Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Friday that large swathes of the eastern Donbas region had been significantly damaged by Russian shelling.
“The front-line situation remains very difficult in the key areas of Donbas — Bakhmut, Soledar, Maryinka, Kreminna … For a long time, there is no living place left on the land of these areas that have not been damaged by shells and fire,” Zelenskyy said.
“The occupiers actually destroyed Bakhmut, another Donbas city that the Russian army turned into burnt ruins,” he added.
The president’s comments come after sustained shelling of the frontline in Donetsk throughout Friday.
Russian military sources on Saturday also claimed to have conquered positions in Donetsk, as well as making advances between the towns of Lyman and Kreminna in neighboring Luhansk province.
Russian forces control large parts of Donetsk and have illegally claimed it as Russian territory following a “sham” referendum.
Zelenskyy also thanked the soldiers and commanders who have been fighting on the front line and how they continue to “hold the front in these directions, repel attacks and inflict significant losses on the enemy.”
Here are the other top stories related to the war in Ukraine on Saturday, December 10.
Odesa left without power after drone attack
Over 1.5 million people were without power in the southern Ukrainian region of Odesa on Saturday after a night attack by Russian “kamikaze drones,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“After the night strike by Iranian drones, Odesa and other cities and villages of the region are in darkness,” Zelenskyy said.
“As of now, more than one and a half million people in Odesa region are without electricity.”
Regional governor Maksym Martshenko said almost all districts in the region had been hit with blackouts.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said only critical infrastructure including hospitals and maternity wards had access to electricity.
“The situation remains difficult, but it is under control,” Tymoshenko said.
Russian forces have been targeting civilian infrastructure in recent weeks as winter temperatures in Ukraine fall below freezing.
The Kremlin has justified such attacks by pointing to the destruction of the bridge that connected mainland Russia with the illegally occupied Ukrainian territory of Crimea at the beginning of October.
EU adopts €18 billion assistance to Ukraine
European Union member states on Saturday voted to free up €18 billion ($19 billion) in loans to help Ukraine bear the ongoing costs of Russia’s invasion.
The European Council adopted the proposal, despite a veto by Hungary. To get around the veto, the Council redesigned the aid package as grants guaranteed by individual member states — as opposed to the EU budget.
“Ukraine can count on the EU,” said Czech Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura. “We will continue to support Ukraine, also financially, for as long as it takes. The legislation which we adopted today means that Ukraine can count on regular financial help from the EU throughout 2023.”
A statement from the Council said the loans would “provide short-term financial relief, financing Ukraine’s immediate needs, rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and initial support towards sustainable post-war reconstruction, with a view to supporting Ukraine on its path towards European integration.”
The statement added that the loans would have a 10-year grace period and member states would cover the bulk of the interest costs.
The measure is expected to come before the European Parliament in the coming weeks.
Russian lawmaker blames Germany and France for lack of peace
The head of Russia’s State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday that Germany and France are responsible for what he claimed is a “genocide” in the Donbas region.
Germany and France were signatories to the Minsk Agreement, which sought to end the conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in Donbas that broke out when Russia invaded and illegally annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
Volodin claimed that European leaders, including Germany’s then-Chancellor Angela Merkel, had never intended the agreements to bear fruit. He called for them to take moral responsibility for what Moscow has portrayed as the victimization of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
Russia increasingly dependent on Iranian support
The daily intelligence update from the UK’s Ministry of Defense on Saturday said that “Iran has become one of Russia’s top military backers since Russia invaded Ukraine.”
It also expects Iranian support to increase as Russia seeks to replenish its ammunition stocks, especially ballistic missiles.
The ministry believes that Russia has exhausted much of its own stock of SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles and so is likely to try and get hold of more from Iran.
Russian will likely use more Iranian missiles “to continue and expand its campaign of strikes against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure,” the update said.
mm, ab/fb (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)