Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that his government is aiming to have a peace summit by the end of February, preferably at the United Nations with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a possible mediator, around the time of the anniversary of Russia’s war.
“The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit, because this is not about doing a favor to a certain country,” Kuleba said. “This is really about bringing everyone on board.”
Asked about whether they would invite Russia to the summit, he said that first that country would need to be seated to be prosecuted for war crimes at an international court, for example. “They can only be invited to this step in this way,” Kuleba said.
About Guterres’ role, Kuleba said: “He has proven himself to be an efficient mediator and an efficient negotiator, and most importantly, as a man of principle and integrity. So we would welcome his active participation.”
The Ukrainian minister also told the AP news agency that he was “absolutely satisfied” with the results of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the US last week, and he revealed that the US government has made a special plan to get the Patriot missile battery ready to be operational in the country in less than six months. Usually, the training takes up to a year.
Kuleba said that Ukraine will do whatever it can to win the war in 2023, adding that diplomacy always plays an important role. “Every war ends in a diplomatic way,” he said. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”
HHere are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Monday, December 26:
Zelenskyy says nearly 9 million Ukrainians without electricity
Some 9 million people in Ukraine still don’t have power although repair work is under way to fix the electricity grid which sustained heavy damage in Russian attacks, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“The situation as of this evening in different regions of Ukraine is that nearly nine million people are without electricity. But the numbers and the length of the blackouts are gradually decreasing,” he said in his nightly address.
Zelenskyy also said that important decisions had been made during consultations with government representatives on the energy and infrastructure situation. “We are preparing for the next year, not only for the winter months,” he said.
Zelenskyy seeks India PM Modi’s help with ‘peace formula’
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he asked for help from India with implementing a “peace formula” in a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The conversation comes at a time when India is seeking to strengthen trade relations with Moscow while Western nations introduce new measures to limit Russia’s funding of the war.
Zelenskyy wished Modi a successful G20 presidency. “It was on this platform that I announced the peace formula and now I count on India’s participation in its implementation,” he wrote on Twitter.
Zelenskyy asked the Group of 20 (G20) major economies last month to adopt Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula and to end the war.
This formula includes, among other things, radiation and nuclear safety; food security; energy security; release of prisoners and deportees; implementation of the UN Charter; withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities.
During the call, Modi “strongly reiterated” his call for an immediate end to hostilities in Ukraine and conveyed India’s support for any peace efforts.
Czech president predicts Russia will withdraw from Ukraine
Czech President Milos Zeman called for further support for Ukraine, including military backing, arguing that Russia would eventually have to leave Ukraine.
“I am convinced that the pressure of free countries will sooner or later compel Russia to leave the territory of Ukraine,” Zeman said in his traditional Christmas television address.
He said he had always favored correct economic relations between his country and Russia, especially due to its important energy supplies.
Now, however, the security of the world and thus also of the Czech Republic was under threat, he noted. In such situations, economic interests had to take a back seat to security interests.
Until the Russian attack on Ukraine, Zeman was considered an opponent of tough EU sanctions against Russia. He had therefore often been criticized as “pro-Russian.”
Russia places Bellingcat journalist on wanted list
Russia placed a senior journalist with the Bellingcat investigative website on a wanted list, following his extensive reporting on Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev’s name was added to a list of wanted people on Russia’s interior ministry website.
The ministry did not specify what crime he was wanted for. But the RIA Novosti news agency quoted a source as saying that a criminal case had been opened against Grozev for “spreading fakes about the Russian army” under strict censorship laws adopted after Moscow sent troops to Ukraine in February.
Russia’s FSB domestic security agency had accused Grozev of helping Ukrainian intelligence.
Grozev is Bellingcat’s chief Russia investigator, and has led investigations into the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. This year he has focused on Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.
UK: Monitoring new minefields challenging for Russia
The British Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence report that Moscow lacked adequate personnel to effectively monitor new minefields that it laid in Ukraine.
The ministry said that Russia has focused on expanding its defensive positions since October with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, “almost certainly going beyond Russian doctrinal guidelines.”
“A major challenge for the Russian forces will likely be a shortage of surveillance assets and trained personnel to effectively monitor large areas of the new minefields,” the report said.
It noted that the minefields would particularly pose a hurdle to trained Russian troops if they were covered by proper surveillance and fire.
Reports: 3 dead at Russian base after drone attack
Russian news agencies reported, citing Russia’s Defense Ministry, that three military personnel died at a base near the southwestern Russian region of Saratov when downing a Ukrainian drone.
“A Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region,” the Russian ministry was quoted as saying.
“As a result of the fall of the wreckage of the drone, three Russian servicemen of the technical staff who were at the airfield were fatally wounded.”
Roman Busargin, the governor of the Saratov region, said that civil infrastructure facilities were not damaged in the incident.
“There is absolutely no threat to residents,” Busargin said, adding, “Civil infrastructure facilities were not damaged.”
Earlier this month, three people were reportedly killed in explosions hitting military airfields near Saratov, some 860 kilometers (534 miles) southeast of Moscow.
Ukraine seeks Russia’s removal from the UN Security Council
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv would call on Monday for Russia to lose its veto-wielding permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
“We have a very simple question: Does Russia have the right to remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and to be in the United Nations at all?” he said on national television.
“We have a convincing and reasoned answer — no, it doesn’t.”
The top Ukrainian diplomat said the issue was already being discussed around diplomacy circles.
“These issues are not yet discussed at press conferences and in public statements by the leaders of states and governments, but at a lower level, people are already asking the question — what Russia should become like in order not to pose a threat to peace and security,” he said.
The US, the UK, France, China and Russia have held permanent seats on the UN Security Council since the multilateral organization’s inception after the end of the Second World War.
Western countries have tried to turn to the 193-member UN General Assembly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow has blocked Security Council resolutions on the war.
Russian weapon systems in Belarus ready for use
The S-400 air defense system and the Iskander tactical missile systems that Russia had sent to Belarus are both battle-ready and prepared to carry out their assigned tasks, a senior official at the Belarusian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
“These types of weapons (Iskander and S-400 systems) are on combat duty today and they are fully prepared to perform tasks for their intended purpose,” Leonid Kasinsky, head of the Main Directorate of Ideology at the ministry, said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging app.
The Iskander systems’ two guided missiles can transport either conventional or nuclear warheads and have a maximum range of 500 kilometers (300 miles). This reaches deep into the territories of Belarus’ neighbors Ukraine and Poland.
The S-400 system is a mobile Russian surface-to-air missile (SAM) interception system with the capacity to engage aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles, and has a terminal ballistic missile defense capability.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine drags on, Moscow has increased pressure on Minsk to aid its war efforts.
In February, Russian forces used Belarus as a launch pad for their abortive attack on Kyiv. Meanwhile, there has been a growing flurry of Russian and Belarusian military activity in recent months.
China to deepen ties with Russia
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday defended Beijing’s neutral stance on the war in Ukraine and said China will strengthen its ties with Russia in the upcoming year.
In his words, China would “deepen strategic mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation” with Russia.
China’s refusal to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and join other countries in imposing sanctions on Moscow has further strained relations and created a rift with the West.
“With regard to the Ukraine crisis, we have consistently upheld the fundamental principles of objectivity and impartiality, without favoring one side or the other, or adding fuel to the fire, still less seeking selfish gains from the situation,” Wang said, according to an official text of his remarks.
Last week, Russia and China held joint naval drills in the East China Sea.
Zelenskyy vows to ‘find every murderer’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed on Sunday to avenge those who died in Russian artillery attacks in Kherson, while calling on Ukrainians to be prepared for all scenarios in the coming days.
“We will find every murderer,” the president said in his daily video address on Sunday after at least 16 people were killed and 64 wounded in Russian attacks in Kherson on Saturday.
Zelenskyy warned Ukrainians of more Russian attacks in the last days of the year.
“We must be aware that our enemy will try to make this time dark and difficult for us,” he said, adding “we must be prepared for any scenario.”
The Ukrainian president said Moscow was trying to compensate its losses “with the cunning of its propagandists.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said on Sunday that a meeting in the village of Zabaryne was targeted by Kyiv’s forces, injuring at least 70 Russian officers. The number of fatalities was unknown.
More on the war
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier used his Christmas speech to call for peace in Ukraine after 10 months of “terrible suffering.” When peace comes, he said, it must benefit the Ukrainian people and not Russia.
dh,ss/dj,sri (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)