(NEW YORK) — More than six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into neighboring Ukraine, the two countries are engaged in a struggle for control of areas throughout eastern and southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose forces began an offensive in August, has vowed to take back all Russian-occupied territory. But Putin in September announced a mobilization of reservists, which is expected to call up as many as 300,000 additional troops.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Dec 14, 10:20 AM EST
US Air Force vet released from Russian captivity
A U.S. Air Force veteran from Minnesota was freed Wednesday from Russian-controlled territory and told ABC News he survived being beaten and electrocuted by his captors.
Suedi Murekezi, 35, was freed in a war gray zone just outside Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. A prearranged two-hour cease-fire was called to allow an exchange of prisoners of war.
Murekezi and other prisoners of war were brought out of Russian-controlled territory as part of the exchange. Following his release, Murekezi was seen clutching a Ukrainian flag given to him by a Ukrainian military intelligence officer.
Murekezi was arrested in June when he was falsely accused by the Russians of being a member of the CIA, he said. He said he was later released; however, he was stuck in Donetsk, a city in Russian-controlled territory, because he was without his U.S. passport.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Murekezi said he felt “trapped” in Donetsk and lived under intense uncertainty about his future.
He said he was relieved and happy to be back in Ukrainian-controlled territory, a free man in the country where he has lived for years, working in cryptocurrency.
What he is looking forward to most when he gets back to Minnesota? “A peanut butter sandwich,” Murekezi said.
-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge, Dada Jovanovic, Natalia Kushniir and Kuba Kaminski
Dec 14, 10:28 AM EST
Drone attacks launched on Kyiv
Two waves of drone attacks were launched before dawn on Wednesday in Kyiv. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that every drone was shot down and urged residents of Ukraine’s capital city not to ignore air raid warning sirens.
“This morning has started with 13 Shahed drones attacking. All 13 were downed by our air defense. Good job. Thank the air defense and please don’t ignore the air raid sirens,” Zelenskyy said in a statement following the drone attacks.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitchko also confirmed the attack and urged residents to take shelter underground.
The latest attack comes as the U.S. is preparing to approve sending Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine and that these plans could be approved by President Joe Biden as early as this week.
United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also has to sign off on the transfer before it goes to the White House but, if approved by Biden, the transfer of the advanced air defense systems would meet a long-standing request from Ukraine.
A senior Ukrainian Defense official told ABC News on Tuesday that the Patriots “will be a game changer.”
-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge
Dec 13, 3:36 PM EST
US preparing to send Patriot air defense missiles to Ukraine
Two U.S. officials confirm that the U.S. has prepared plans to send Patriot air defense missile systems to Ukraine that could be approved by President Joe Biden as early as this week.
If approved by Biden, the transfer of the advanced air defense systems would meet a long-standing request from Ukraine.
The U.S. has stressed the importance of Ukraine getting additional air defense systems in the coming months but has worked with other countries on alternative systems other than the Patriot.
The Patriot missile systems to be given to Ukraine will come from
U.S. inventories under the presidential drawdown authority, according to officials.
Another one of those announcements is expected to be announced on Thursday, though it is unclear if the Patriots will be included as part of that package.
If Biden approves the Patriot systems, then the training of Ukrainian troops will begin in Germany a few weeks later, officials said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin must sign off on the transfer before it goes to the White House.
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Dec 13, 3:17 PM EST
Ukraine to get 30 upgraded Soviet-era tanks from Czech Republic next year
Soviet-era tanks are getting new optics, armor, and more at a Czech facility in Šternberk, thanks partly to the efforts of Ukrainian refugees working there.
Around 150 people have been hired by Excalibur Army in an effort to modernize old military equipment from around the world, which will then be shipped to Ukraine after months of work on upgrades.
According to the company’s commercial director, Richard Kuběna, it is concentrating on a large order to modernize up to 120 T-72 tanks, which the U.S. and the Netherlands governments ordered and paid 2.2 billion crowns for.
The tanks were ordered initially from Šternberk by an African country. However, after negotiating with the U.S., E.U., and Czech Ministry of Defense, they decided to give the tanks to Ukraine, Kuběna said.
“Next week, the first five units of tanks for Ukraine will be received, we would like to deliver 18 units by the end of the year,” noted Kuběna.
Kuběna said he would like to
Dec 13, 6:47 AM EST
Russian withdrawal ‘out of the question’
A Kremlin official said on Tuesday that Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine was “out of the question.”
A reporter asked Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov for comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s proposal that Russia start to pull out forces from Ukraine before Christmas. Peskov was also asked whether Moscow was ready to do so before the end of this year.
“This is out of the question,” Peskov said.
Dec 11, 7:56 PM EST
Biden speaks with Zelenskyy about recent security assistance packages: White House
President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday to discuss continued support for Ukraine’s defense amid Russian attacks on critical infrastructure, according to a White House readout of their call.
“President Biden highlighted how the U.S. is prioritizing efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense through our security assistance, including the December 9 announcement of $275 million in additional ammunition and equipment that included systems to counter the Russian use of unmanned aerial vehicles,” the White House said.
“President Biden also highlighted the November 29 announcement of $53 million to support energy infrastructure to strengthen the stability of Ukraine’s energy grid in the wake of Russia’s targeted attacks,” it added.
-ABC News’ Justin Ryan Gomez
Dec 09, 12:05 PM EST
Treasury sanctions 4 Russians for carrying out human rights abuses
The U.S. Department of Treasury issued sanctions against four Russians accused of forcibly seizing personal data and conducting interrogations and searches against Ukrainian citizens to determine if they have any connections to the Ukrainian government or military.
There are also allegations that deportations, disappearances and torture have also been carried out.
Two of those sanctioned “oversaw the filtration of city government officials and other civilians from Mariupol, Ukraine, including through the filtration center in Manhush, Ukraine. Witnesses have reported insufficient food supplies, overcrowded cells, and beatings at the Manhush filtration center. One witness overheard Russia’s soldiers discussing shooting people who underwent filtration at Manhush,” according to a press release from the Treasury.
The Treasury is also sanctioning members of Russia’s Central Election Commission for overseeing the sham referenda held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine in September, during which Ukrainians were forced to vote for annexation.
Dec 07, 6:01 PM EST
10 civilians killed in Russian air strike, Zelenskyy says
A Russian airstrike that struck Kurakhov, a city in Donetsk Oblast in southeastern Ukraine, has killed 10 people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Wednesday.
Civilian areas such as a market, gas station, bus station and a residential building were among the targets that were struck, Zelenskyy said.
Dec 07, 1:19 PM EST
Putin says Russia will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in war with Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday the threat of nuclear war is increasing but Russia will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.
Putin, speaking at Russia’s Human Rights Council, said nuclear weapons should act as a deterrent in conflicts, not provoke them.
“We consider weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, it is all built around the so-called retaliatory strike. When we are struck, we strike back,” Putin said.
“I have already said: we don’t have our own nuclear weapons, including tactical ones, on the territory of other countries, but the Americans do. Both in Turkey and in a number of other European states … we haven’t done anything yet,” Putin said.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Dec 07, 8:56 AM EST
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Time’s 2022 ‘Person of the Year’
Time named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Spirit of Ukraine as the 2022 “Person of the Year.”
More than a dozen Ukrainians who embodied the spirit of Ukraine were also named: Dr. Iryna Kondratova, who helped mothers give birth during shelling in the hospital basement; Oleg Kutkov, an engineer who laid the groundwork for the essential connectivity; Olga Rudenko, editor-in-chief of the Kyiv Independent; and Levgen Klopotenko, a Kyiv chef who converted his restaurant into a relief canteen.
“This year’s choice was the most clear-cut in memory. Whether the battle for Ukraine fills one with hope or with fear, the world marched to Volodymyr Zelensky’s beat in 2022,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.
Dec 06, 4:22 PM EST
Ukrainian special forces were deep in Russia to guide drone, senior Ukrainian official says
Ukrainian special forces were deep inside Russian territory and helped guide drones to at least one of the bases hit in Monday’s attacks, a senior official from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inner-circle confirmed to ABC News.
-ABC News’ Marcus Moore
Dec 06, 2:28 PM EST
White House does not have assessment on drone attacks inside Russia
The U.S. does not have an assessment on recent drone attacks deep inside Russia, which a person close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told ABC News Ukraine is responsible for, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.
“I don’t want to speculate about whether Ukraine is responsible for these attacks,” Jean-Pierre said.
Jean-Pierre also told reporters Russia is to blame for this conflict.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Dec 06, 11:30 AM EST
Russia now out of Iranian-made drones, Western officials say
According to Western officials, Russia has run out of Iranian-made drones. Russia had been using the lethal drones, along with missiles, in a wave of aerial bombardments on Ukrainian infrastructure over a period of several weeks.
But, the drones have been absent in recent Russian attacks. A western official said the Russians “anticipate a resupply.”
In light of Ukraine’s apparent drone attacks on military airbases deep inside Russia, Western officials said Russia will now be undergoing “a significant amount of soul-searching” over their ability to defend significant military assets deep inside Russia’s borders.
The official, who characterized the attacks as “an egregious failure of security” said the Russian military’s potential had been consistently overestimated by the west.
“I no longer think the Russians are ten-feet tall,” the official said.
-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge
Dec 06, 10:17 AM EST
Ukrainian drone crashes into military airfield in Russia
A Ukrainian drone crashed into a military airfield in Russia, setting an oil tanker on fire, according to the governor of Russia’s Kursk region.
There were no casualties at the Kursk base. This comes a day after drone attacks on two Russian airbases where jets used to bomb Ukraine are housed. No one immediately claimed responsibility.
-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti
Dec 05, 10:36 AM EST
Missiles rain on Ukraine after purported drone strikes in Russia
A new barrage of missiles strikes was launched against Ukraine on Monday, hitting targets across the country, including the capital city of Kyiv, officials said.
Casualties and damage from the attacks were being assessed, Ukrainian officials said.
The majority of the missiles were shot down by air defense forces, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said the Russians launched missiles from the Volgodonsk, Caspian and Black seas.
The strikes damaged two infrastructure objects in the Odesa region, leaving the area without electricity and running water, officials said. One person was hospitalized, according to Ukrainian officials.
Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov said a missile hit a substation that supplies the city of Belvaevska’s pumping station with electricity.
According to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, missile strikes in the Zaporizhzhia region killed two people and injured three others, including a toddler, in the village of Novosofiyivka.
Explosion were also heard in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi, Kherson and Cherkasy, officials said.
The missile strikes followed reports from Russian media outlets that drones were used to bomb two military air bases in Russia, hundreds of miles from the Ukrainian border.
Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility for the drone attacks, but Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukraine’s president, posted a cryptic tweet, saying “if you launch something very often into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later the unknown flying objects will return to the place of departure.”
Dec 02, 2:18 PM EST
No peace talks till Russian soldiers leave, Ukraine says
Ukraine said it would not consider peace talks before the last Russian soldier leaves Ukrainian territory. This comes after President Joe Biden indicating he would be willing to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he has legitimate interest in peace negotiations.
Ukraine also said that there must not be any peace negotiations without Ukraine, reiterating that Biden has been clear that there won’t be any talks happening without the participation of U.S. allies and Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Dec 02, 2:17 PM EST
IAEA expresses optimism over creation of protection zone around Zaporizhzhia
The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed optimism over possibly creating a safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant before the end of the year.
“I know that President Putin is following the process, and I do not rule out another meeting with him soon, as well as with Ukrainian President Zelensky,” IAEA Director General Rafael Rossi said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
“There is a concrete proposal on securing Zaporizhzhia and important progress has been made. …The two sides now agree on some basic principles. The first is that of protection: it means accepting that you don’t shoot ‘on’ the plant and ‘from’ the plant. The second is the recognition that the IAEA is the only possible way forward: that was the heart of my meeting with President Putin in St. Petersburg on October 11,” Rossi added.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Dec 02, 12:27 PM EST
Bloody packages with animal eyes sent to Ukrainian embassies
Packages believed to be blood-soaked and containing the eyes of animals, were sent to Ukrainian embassies worldwide, including in Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs said Friday.
The entrance to the ambassador’s residence in the Vatican was also vandalized, according to the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs.
The Ukrainian embassy in the U.S. received a letter with a photocopy of a critical article about Ukraine. Like most other envelopes, the letter arrived along with others from the territory of an unnamed European country.
“We have reason to believe that a well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation of Ukrainian embassies and consulates is taking place. Not being able to stop Ukraine on the diplomatic front, they are trying to intimidate us. However, I can immediately say that these attempts are useless. We will continue to work effectively for the victory of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement.
The Ukrainian embassy in Spain received a letter-bomb on Wednesday which was opened and ignited, resulting in one slight injury.
A similar envelope was sent to the U.S. embassy in Madrid, but it was detected before going off, according to Spanish officials.
All Ukrainian embassies and consulates have been placed under heightened security. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on foreign governments to guarantee maximum protection of Ukraine’s diplomatic institutions.
Dec 01, 3:28 PM EST
Biden ‘prepared to speak with Putin’ if he wants to end war
Speaking at a joint press conference with France’s Emmanuel Macron, President Joe Biden said he would be open to speaking with Vladimir Putin if the Russian leader has legitimate interest in peace negotiations. Biden, however, said he has “no immediate plans to contact Mr. Putin.”
Biden also noted that Putin has “miscalculated every single thing” when it comes to this war.
“So the question is what is his — how does he get himself out of the circumstance he’s in? I’m prepared if he’s willing to talk to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO. I’m not going to do it on my own,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, President Macron, who has continued speaking with Putin, said it’s up to Ukraine to come to the negotiating table.
“So it’s only legitimate that President Zelenskyy sets some conditions to talk. We need to work on what could lead to a peace agreement. But it’s for him to tell us when the time comes and what the choices of the Ukrainians are,” Macron said.
-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky
Dec 01, 1:46 PM EST
Shelling in Kherson damages power lines as energy company works to finish repairs
Electricity was back for 60% of customers in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, but shelling overnight damaged power lines, according to the head of Ukraine’s regional energy company.
Workers are hoping to finish the repairs by the end of Thursday.
In Kyiv, 652,000 residents were subject to power outages throughout Thursday, according to the director of YASNO energy company, Serhiy Kovalenko. Kyiv’s main power grid is operating at less than 70% capacity and 20% of residents are still without power or heat.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Dec 01, 12:20 PM EST
Russia accuses US, NATO of direct involvement in war
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of being directly involved in the war in Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and training its soldiers.
“You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries,” Lavrov said at a press conference Thursday.
Lavrov also claimed that Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities and other key infrastructure were intended to weaken Ukraine’s military potential and derail the shipments of weapons from the West.
Lavrov also said Moscow is open to peace talks to end the conflict.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Nov 29, 11:47 AM EST
US to send $53M in energy aid to help Ukraine through winter
The U.S. will provide Ukraine with more than $53 million to acquire critical electric grid equipment to help its citizens get through the winter, the State Department announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes amid Russia’s continued attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
“This new assistance is in addition to $55 million in emergency energy sector support for generators and other equipment to help restore emergency power and heat to local municipalities impacted by Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s power system,” the State Department said in a release.
-ABC News’ Matt Seyler
Nov 28, 4:36 PM EST
UN lays out ‘dire’ situation in southern Ukraine
Denise Brown, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, traveled to the Ukrainian cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv over the weekend to get an update on the humanitarian issues affecting the southern part of the country, according to the U.N.
Although repairs to the area’s water system are finally able to commence, there is still a lot of work to be done to help the people in those cities, the U.N said.
“We continue to be concerned about the plight of civilians in Ukraine especially as winter sets in,” a U.N. spokesperson said in a statement.
Some heating points have already been established in Mykolaiv to help people who cannot heat their homes, according to the U.N.
“Aid workers are providing supplies and generators to make these places functional,” the U.N. said in a statement.
The agency added that donations and funding for humanitarian efforts are critical as the cold weather sets in.
Nov 25, 1:13 PM EST
Power restored in all regions, Ukraine grid operator says
All of Ukraine’s regions are now connected to the European Union’s energy system and all three nuclear power plants located in the Kyiv-controlled area are working, CEO of Ukrenergo grid operator Volodymyr Kudrytskyi announced.
“In one to two days, they will reach their normal planned capacity, and we expect to introduce planned rolling blackouts instead of emergency outages,” Kudrytskyi said.
Power is slowly returning to all Ukrainian cities, but blackouts and emergency shutdowns continue. Power issues are the worst in Kyiv, Kirivigrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Poltava and Lviv, according to Kudrytskyi.
Kyiv’s critical infrastructure receives electricity, the water supply is fully restored and heating is being restored, but 50% of residential houses remain without power. Only one-third of houses currently have heating, according to the mayor.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
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