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Russia-Ukraine War: Air Raid Sirens Reported Despite Russia Calling Ceasefire; Germany To Send 40 Armoured Personnel Carriers – live

Russia ‘planning attacks on churches’ during Christmas, says Ukraine’s deputy PMUkraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, has warned residents in occupied territories not to attend church services for Orthodox Christmas.

Russia is planning to launch “terrorist attacks” in churches, Vereshchuk said, without providing evidence, as she urged citizens to “be careful and if possible refrain from visiting places with large crowds”.

She said:

There is information that the Russians are preparing terrorist attacks in churches in the temporarily occupied territories for Orthodox Christmas.

It is not possible to verify these claims.

A Ukrainian open-source intelligence (OSINT) group also reported receiving tip-offs about attacks on Orthodox churches in Donetsk and other occupied territories, the Kyiv Independent reports.

⚡️ Ukraine’s Deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk warns of Russians planning to attack churches in occupied territories during Christmas service.

A Ukrainian OSINT group also reported getting tip-offs about such attacks, supposedly meant to frame Ukraine as an aggressor.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) January 6, 2023 Key events

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Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has dismissed Russia’s unilateral ceasefire as a “primitive and cynical deception”.

Jan 6. Air alert all over 🇺🇦. Children are again in cold bomb shelters. A fire station was shelled in Kherson. This is the essence of “Russian truce”: kill in the back, imitating silence.


Never take any RF’s words seriously. It is always a primitive & cynical deception.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) January 6, 2023 His tweet came after air raid alerts sounded across several regions in Ukraine earlier today, although there were no immediate reports of airstrikes after the temporary truce came into force.

One rescue worker was killed and four others injured after Russian forces shelled a fire department in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the regional governor said.

Germany to send around 40 Marder vehicles to UkraineGermany plans to send about 40 Marder armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine before the end of this year’s first quarter, according to government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit.

A Patriot anti-aircraft missile system from army stocks will also be delivered to Ukraine in the first quarter, he told reporters in Berlin.

Hebestreit said:

These 40 vehicles should be ready in the first quarter already so that they can be handed over to Ukraine.

Training on the Marder vehicles will take place in Germany and last about eight weeks, he added.

Harry Davies

Trusts holding billions of dollars of assets for Roman Abramovich were amended to transfer beneficial ownership to his children shortly before sanctions were imposed on the Russian oligarch.

Leaked files seen by the Guardian suggest 10 secretive offshore trusts established to benefit Abramovich were rapidly reorganised in early February 2022, three weeks before the start of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The sweeping reorganisation of Abramovich’s financial affairs commenced just days after governments threatened to impose sanctions against Russian oligarchs in the event of an invasion.

The leaked documents raise questions about whether the changes to trusts were made in an attempt to shield the oligarch’s vast fortune from the threat of asset freezes.

Analysis suggests the amendments made Abramovich’s seven children, the youngest of whom is nine years old, beneficiaries of trusts holding assets worth at least $4bn, though the total value could be much higher.

The changes appear to have made the children the ultimate beneficial owners of trophy assets long-linked to their father, including luxury properties and a fleet of superyachts, helicopters and private jets.

Sanctions experts said the sweeping reorganisation of the trusts could complicate efforts to enforce sanctions against the oligarch and potentially frustrate attempts to freeze assets previously believed to belong to the metals tycoon.

The revelations are likely to raise questions about whether Abramovich’s children should also be subject to asset freezes. Unlike family members of some of Putin’s closest advisers, many families of oligarchs subject to sanctions have avoided restrictions.

Read the full story here:

Hours before a unilateral temporary ceasefire declared by Vladimir Putin came into effect, Russian forces continued to launch fresh strikes on Ukrainian cities.

Russian shells hit the city of Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Friday morning, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the office of Ukraine’s president.

Russian troops “hit the city with rockets twice”, Tymoshenko wrote in an update on social media. A residential building had been hit but there were no victims, he added.

Kramatorsk mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko warned the city was “under fire” and urged residents to stay in shelters. Some 14 homes were damaged after rockets hit the residential building, he said.

Residents described several explosions to Reuters. Oleksnadr, 36, told the news agency:

It’s bad, very bad. We need to pressure them, get them to leave, maybe more air defence systems would help. This happens often, not only on festive occasions. Every other day.

A local resident runs past a burning house hit by the Russian shelling in Kherson, Ukraine. Photograph: LIBKOS/APIn the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Russian forces shelled a fire department on Friday morning before the ceasefire came into effect, the regional governor said. One rescue worker was killed and four others were injured, he said.

Journalists from AFP news agency and CNN reported hearing both outgoing and incoming shelling around the frontline city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has welcomed recent announcements by Germany, France and the US to step up military support for Kyiv.

Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the US president, Joe Biden, agreed on Thursday to send infantry fighting vehicles to help Ukraine fight Russia, a day after France said it would supply its own armoured vehicles to Kyiv.

The US will supply Ukraine with Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and Germany will provide Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles, the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

Germany will also supply Ukraine with a Patriot air defence system, in addition to one promised by the US last month, it added.

France said on Wednesday it was upping its military aid to Kyiv by supplying an unspecified number of AMX-10 RC light armoured vehicles capable, experts said, of scouting roles and supporting main battle tanks.

Writing on Twitter today, Podolyak said the Patriot system would help with strengthening Ukraine’s air defence system and with “closing the sky”.

He added that he was “expecting” German-made Leopard battle tanks, which Kyiv has sought to obtain so far unsuccessfully.

Powerful decisions by key allies. 🇺🇸, 🇫🇷 & 🇩🇪.

1. Strengthening defense & “closing the sky” – transfer of several Patriot batteries now

2. Strengthening 🇺🇦 offensive – Bradley, Marder, AMX now. Expecting Leopards…

Demilitarization of RF will be completed by ATACMS & analogues.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) January 6, 2023 Russia’s defence ministry has accused Ukrainian troops of shelling its military positions in the occupied Donetsk region, just as a temporary ceasefire declared by Moscow came into effect.

State-run news agency Tass reports that Moscow-installed officials in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) wrote in a Telegram channel that “six shells of 155 mm calibre were fired” from “155 mm Nato artillery guns”.

It went on to claim that Ukrainian troops shelled the region three times with heavy artillery before the ceasefire. Reports by Russian state media cannot be verified.

The ceasefire began at noon Moscow time (0900 GMT) “along the entire line of contact” in the conflict, according to Russia’s Channel 1 state television. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has accused Moscow of announcing a temporary truce “to continue the war with renewed vigour”.

Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun writes that reports of air raid alerts across Ukraine show “how must one can trust Putin” after the Russian president ordered his troops to temporarily stop fighting.

So, two hours into the announced ceasefire, air raid sirens are blaring all over #Ukraine. Like literally, he couldn’t even hold it for two hours. That’s how much one can trust #Putin.

— Inna Sovsun (@InnaSovsun) January 6, 2023 New Voice of Ukraine’s Euan MacDonald writes that the alert was triggered by the launch in Belarus of a MiG-31K fighter jet. It has not been possible to verify this claim.

So much for Putin’s “Christmas ceasefire” – no sign of shelling letting up on the front, and now an air raid alert across the whole country, triggered by the launch in Belarus of a MiG-31K warplane that can carry nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) January 6, 2023 Air raid sirens reported across UkraineAir raid alerts have been issued across parts of Ukraine, according to officials.

The sirens were reported just hours after Russia declared a temporary ceasefire along the frontline in Ukraine to mark Orthodox Christmas.

For the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine, eurozone economic sentiment has improved, Reuters reports.

European Commission data showed on Friday that there had been more optimism across all sectors of the economy and a sharp drop in inflation expectations in December.

The commission’s monthly economic sentiment index rose to 95.8 in December from 94.0 in November, the first upward movement after a slide from a record high of 114.0 scaled in February, the month Russia invaded Ukraine.

Consumers, retailers ad the construction industry were also all more optimistic, signalling that the expected economic slowdown in the last three months of 2022 and the first three months of 2023 is likely to be a shallow one.

Reuters has the detail on this morning’s fighting in Ukraine:

Earlier on Friday morning – Christmas Eve for Russians and many Ukrainians – Russian shells hit Kramatorsk, a Ukrainian city near the frontline in the industrial Donetsk region that Russia claims as its territory, the city mayor said.

“Kramatorsk is under fire. Stay in shelters,” mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko said on social media. He did not give details of damage.

Shortly after the ceasefire was due to come into effect, Russian-backed officials accused Ukraine of shelling the city of Donetsk with artillery, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency said.

Despite air raid warnings sounding in several regions, no major air strikes were reported by Ukrainian officials after the ceasefire starting time.

A Reuters snap says Germany is planning to send around 40 vehicles to Ukraine.

This would constitute a battalion of Marders, which are armoured tanks, along with a Patriot missile system and will arrive in the first quarter of 2023, according to a spokesperson.

More detail to follow.

The Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who has just taken on the rotating role of the G7 leading economies, has told Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelenskiy that he will consider an invitation to visit Kyiv depending on “various circumstances”.

Kishida reaffirmed Tokyo’s full support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

He told reporters:

I strongly condemned Russia’s continued aggression, and stated that Japan would do its utmost to provide assistance, including to get through the winter, in order to protect the lives of the Ukrainian people.

Earlier, the chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, told a regular news conference that the head of Zelenskiy’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, had extended an invitation via Tokyo’s ambassador to Kyiv for Kishida to visit Ukraine.

Kishida confirmed that he had received the invitation but said nothing had yet been decided.

“I would like to consider it based on various circumstances,” he added.

In a heartening sign that life goes during the war, former Zelenskiy adviser Iulia Mendel has tweeted to say that during the 315 days of full-scale war, 22,600 couples have married and 13,965 children have been born in Kyiv.

Russian soldiers have shelled a fire station in Kherson, resulting in casualties, Interfax reports.

The state emergency service Telegram channel quoted Serhii Kruk, head of the state emergency service of Ukraine on Friday:

The Russians have once again confirmed the fact that they cannot be trusted. Kherson. Another shelling of our unit. Dead and wounded.

He said that this was the second fire department in two days that had been fired upon by the enemy, “violating all the principles and norms of international law.”

The report contains no details of how man were dead and wounded.

Belarusia’s President Alexander Lukashenko visited a military base where Russian troops are stationed, the defence ministry said on Friday, as reports emerged that a train carrying troops and equipment from Russia has arrived in Belarus.

Reuters reports:

During the meeting, Lukashenko and an unnamed representative from the Russian army discussed the two countries’ joint military drills, it said.

The representative said:

At this stage, units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are ready to carry out tasks as intended.

Belarus, which is closely allied with Moscow, said on Thursday that it will receive more weapons and equipment from Russia as the two boost their military co-operation, fuelling fears it could be used as a staging post to attack Ukraine from the north.

Minsk has said it will not enter the war in Ukraine, but Russia used Belarus as a launch pad for its 24 February invasion and continues to use Belarusian airspace for drone and missile strikes, Kyiv says.

A further snap from Reuters says that a train carrying troops and equipment from Russia has arrived in Belarus.

Russia’s unilateral 36-hour ceasefire begins as Ukraine rejects moveRussia’s unilateral ceasefire to allow soldiers to celebrate Orthodox Christmas officially began at noon Moscow time, according to Russian state TV.

Russia’s state first TV channel reported:

At noon today, the ceasefire regime came into force on the entire contact line. It will continue until the end of 7 January.

Russia has been criticised for failing to offer a ceasefire on 25 December, which many Orthodox Ukrainians celebrate, and new year, with many observers speculating that its objective is to allow Russian soldiers to rest.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, rejected the idea, saying the goal was to halt the progress of Ukraine’s forces in Donetsk and the wider eastern Donbas region and bring in more of Moscow’s forces.

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