December 8, 2022

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits soldiers who were wounded in the fighting in Ukraine at a military hospital in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits soldiers who were wounded in the fighting in Ukraine at a military hospital in Moscow – Copyright AFP Tauseef MUSTAFA

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

– Residents of occupied cities to get Russian passports – 

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a decree making it easier for residents of Russian-occupied parts of southern Ukraine to get a Russian passport.

The move targets people in the city of Kherson, which was the first to fall to Russian forces, and in the region of Zaporizhzhia, which is partially controlled by Moscow.

Moscow has said both regions could become part of Russia. 

Ukraine slams the passport plan, which was devised in 2019 for parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, as a “flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The US State Department says the plan is part of “Russia’s attempt to subjugate the people of Ukraine — to impose their will by force.” 

– Putin meets injured soldiers –

President Putin visits soldiers wounded in Ukraine for the first time since the invasion.

Clad in a white medical coat he shakes their hands and tells one man his baby son “will be proud of his dad”.

At a meeting with government officials afterwards Putin acclaims the injured as “heroes”, saying: “These are people who are risking their health and lives for the sake of the people and children of Donbas, for the sake of Russia.”

Russia said on March 25 that 1,351 soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded in Ukraine. Four days earlier Ukraine claimed Russia had lost 28,850 troops.

– Russian forces at gates of Severodonetsk –

Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has reached the outskirts of the key eastern city of Severodonetsk, the regional governor says.

“Russian troops have advanced far enough that they can already fire mortars” on the city, Lugansk governor Sergiy Gaiday says in a statement on social media.

Severodonetsk, which had a pre-war population of around 100,000 people, has been under relentless Russian shelling for weeks.

It is one of the key goals in Russia’s offensive in the industrial Donbas region, which consists of Donetsk and Lugansk.

In a video later Wednesday, he governor says Russia now controls “around 95 percent” of the Lugansk region.

– Zelensky blasts Western disunity – 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blasts the West for lacking unity on the war during an address by videolink to an event held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He renews calls for heavy weapons from foreign partners, saying the billions of dollars’ worth already put up are not enough to help Ukraine’s outgunned forces.

– And FM lashes NATO –

Ukraine’s top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba accuses NATO of “doing literally nothing” in the face of Russia’s invasion, while praising the EU for its “revolutionary” decisions to back Kyiv. 

“NATO as an alliance, as an institution, is completely sidelined and doing literally nothing. I’m sorry to say it,” Kuleba tells the World Economic Forum.

– Russian army eyes over-40s –

Russia’s parliament passes a law scrapping the upper age limit for people joining the army, in a sign Moscow may be looking to recruit more troops for its military campaign in Ukraine.

Under current legislation, only Russians aged 18 to 40 and foreign nationals aged 18 to 30 have the right to sign their first military service contract.

– Chelsea FC takeover approved –

The UK government approves the proposed takeover of Chelsea football club from Roman Abramovich, saying it is satisfied the deal “will not benefit” the sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Abramovich put Chelsea on the market in early March.

A consortium led by Todd Boehly, a co-owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, has agreed to buy the club for a record £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion). The Premier League has also agreed to the deal.