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Russia’s war on Ukraine latest: Shoigu calls victory for Russia ‘inevitable’

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said victory for Russia over Ukraine was “inevitable” as he hailed Russian soldiers’ heroism in a New Year’s video message.

Explosions in Kyiv

Ten explosions could be heard in the centre of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, amid a nationwide air raid siren.

Fighting

Russia shelled Ukrainian towns across a long stretch of the front line from north to south, Ukrainian officials said on Friday, a day after Moscow fired dozens of missiles in its latest barrage against critical infrastructure.

Ukrainian forces are holding their positions against Russian troops in the eastern Donbas region and making small advances in some areas, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday.

Ukraine’s military General Staff said on Friday that Russian forces had tried to advance near Bakhmut and Avdiivka, focal points of their slow-moving campaign to take all of Donetsk, which together with neighbouring Luhansk make up the Donbas.

The General Staff said Russian forces had also shelled towns near Kupiansk in the northeast Kharkiv region, settlements in Luhansk region, and in the south areas of Zaporizhzhia region and the city of Kherson, which Ukraine recaptured last month.

Russia launched 16 “kamikaze” drones into Ukraine overnight into Friday, Kyiv’s military said after the 2 a.m. air raid alert. All 16 had been shot down by air defences, it said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry on Friday described a barrage of missiles it fired on Thursday as a “massive strike” against Ukraine’s energy and military-industrial infrastructure using high-precision weapons.

Diplomacy

In a video conference call, Russian President Vladimir Putin told China’s Xi Jinping on Friday that he aimed to deepen military cooperation with Beijing and that he expected the Chinese president to visit Russia in spring 2023.

Xi told Putin the road to peace talks on Ukraine would not be smooth and China would continue to uphold its “objective and fair stance” on the issue, Chinese state media said. Their readout did not mention a state visit or military cooperation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on NATO member states to supply more weapons to Ukraine, according to an interview.

Economy

The rouble soared in its final session of a volatile year on Friday, but remained on course for hefty losses in December, after fears over the impact of a Western oil price cap on Russia’s export revenues dominated this month’s trading.

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