Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 10

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The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.

11 p.m.: Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine has been about 16% lower in the past week from previous levels amid mild weather in Europe, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the data said on Tuesday, and as the region remains well supplied with gas from other sources.

Kremlin-controlled gas giant Gazprom has said that Russian daily gas deliveries via the Sudzha entry point through Ukraine to Europe have been at 35.5 million cubic meters for the past five days, down from more than 40 mcm in the past few months.

Gazprom did not reply to a request for comment about why volumes have declined.

9:40 p.m.: An online sale of works by artist Banksy intended to raise funds for civilians in Ukraine has been the target of a computer attack from Russian IP addresses, Agence France-Presse reported, citing organizers.

The Legacy of War Foundation organized the sale in December of 50 serigraphs by the British artist at a unit price of 5,660 euros.

The sale of works, numbered and certified, was limited to one copy per buyer.

"The site received more than a million requests (and 3,500 hostile attacks from Russian IP addresses)," the foundation said on its website.

Banksy had indicated on Instagram that the profits from the sale of these 50 serigraphs "will go to our friends in Ukraine."

They will be used in particular to buy ambulances, generators, heaters and solar lamps for populations deprived of electricity and to continue to help shelters for women and the LGBTQ community, according to the association.

9:08 p.m.: Sweden's SAPO domestic security agency warned Tuesday that it expects Russia to increase activities threatening Swedish security in fields including telecoms and the power network, The Associated Press reported.

SAPO head Charlotte von Essen said Russia's actions were unpredictable but stressed that "we can expect that Russian security-threatening activities against Sweden will increase."

The sectors "where there is reason to be particularly vigilant to counter espionage and sabotage" are telecommunications, electricity supply and the transport of "critical material," von Essen said. She didn't elaborate on what she meant by the latter.

She spoke at the end of the three-day People and Defense conference in Salen, Sweden.

8:12 p.m.: The European Union's ambassador to Ukraine said on Tuesday that Kyiv was close to reaching a milestone in reform of its court system, an important step before starting accession talks with the 27-member bloc, Reuters reported.

Ambassador Matti Maasikas welcomed the expected appointment this week of eight new members of Ukraine's High Council of Justice, an important body which appoints, dismisses and disciplines judges, as part of reforms of the judiciary.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, made reforming the judiciary one of its main recommendations when it offered Ukraine the status of candidate member last June despite Russia's invasion.

Ukraine's parliament has passed all the legislation sought by the EU before accession talks start, the speaker of the assembly said last month, but the road to membership is widely expected to be long, possibly lasting a decade.

7:22 p.m.: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said he had revoked the citizenship of Viktor Medvedchuk, once seen as Russian leader Vladimir Putin's top ally in Kyiv and accused of high treason, Agence France-Presse reported.

Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who was handed over to Russia in a prisoner exchange last September, was stripped of his citizenship along with three others, Zelenskyy said in his daily address.

Medvedchuk was one of more than 50 prisoners handed over to Russia in September in exchange for 215 Ukrainian imprisoned soldiers.

The super-rich powerbroker, once dubbed the "dark prince" of Ukrainian politics, was accused of high treason and attempting to steal natural resources from Russia-annexed Crimea and of handing Ukrainian military secrets to Moscow.

The others to lose their Ukrainian citizenship include Andriy Derkach, an alleged Russian agent and wealthy former member of the Ukraine parliament; Taras Kozak, accused by the United States of being involved in operations by Russia's FSB intelligence service; and Renat Kuzmin, also a Ukrainian politician suspected of links with Russia.

6:45 p.m.: Russian strikes hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late Tuesday, the regional governor said, just hours after a surprise visit by the German foreign minister together with her Ukrainian counterpart, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Stay in the shelters!" Governor Oleg Synegubov warned on Telegram. An AFP journalist heard several explosions in the city.

5:09 p.m.: Russia swung from a budget surplus to a deficit last year, officials said Tuesday, as authorities boost defense spending amid Moscow's assault on Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

The deficit reached 3.3 trillion rubles ($47 billion), or 2.3% of its gross domestic product, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told a government meeting.

Russia ran a budget surplus in 2021.

Siluanov said that compared to 2021, state spending increased by more than 6 trillion rubles, adding that the expenses "were mainly aimed at helping the population."

Last year revenues surpassed government estimates by 2.8 trillion rubles, Siluanov said.

4:33 p.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty opened its new office in the Lithuanian capital on Tuesday in what the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster called its "latest step in a comprehensive strategy to counter pervasive Russian disinformation and reach new audiences with trusted, independent news and information," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The Vilnius facilities are slated to host journalists exiled from neighboring Belarus since Alexander Lukashenko's regime raided and sealed off RFE/RL's Minsk bureau in mid-2021, nearly a year after a flawed presidential election that the beleaguered opposition said was rigged sparked unprecedented street protests.

Lukashenko then designated RFE/RL as an "extremist organization," effectively criminalizing both its reporting and the following of its news coverage.

The broadcaster noted in its statement on the launch of the Vilnius office that two of its journalists, Igar Losik and Andrey Kuznechyk, "remain unjustly imprisoned by the Lukashenko regime."

3:22 p.m.: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said his country will not host a Russian-led grouping of forces from ex-Soviet countries for military exercises this year, signaling growing frustration with Moscow, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.

Pashinyan's announcement comes after the leader of the ex-Soviet republic criticized the work of Russian peacekeepers in the South Caucasus, which has been plagued for decades by fighting between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan.

Speaking to reporters, Pashinyan said he saw no reason for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to stage military drills in Armenia this year. Headquartered in Moscow, the CSTO groups Russia and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Pashinyan noted the organization had refused to condemn Azerbaijan, which fought a six-week war with Armenia for control of the majority-Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.

Despite the end of the large-scale fighting, tensions over their borders persist. Pashinyan has recently accused Russian forces deployed in Azerbaijan of failing to protect ethnic Armenians in Karabakh and called for a multinational peacekeeping force to step in.

2:30 p.m.: The global economy will come “perilously close” to a recession this year, led by weaker growth in all the world’s top economies — the United States, Europe and China — the World Bank warned on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added major new costs,” World Bank President David Malpass said on a call with reporters. “The outlook is particularly devastating for many of the poorest economies where poverty reduction is already ground to a halt and access to electricity, fertilizer, food and capital is likely to remain limited for a prolonged period.”

2 p.m.: The family of a British voluntary worker missing in Ukraine expressed concerns for his health and whereabouts on Tuesday in a statement released by Britain's foreign office, Reuters reported.

The family of Chris Parry, one of the two British nationals who the Ukrainian police have said were missing in east Ukraine, said: "We are very worried and concerned about the health and whereabouts of Chris right now."

"He is an extraordinary person who is compassionate and caring and would not be dissuaded from his work in Ukraine liberating elderly and disabled people."

1:25 p.m.: Britain said on Tuesday Russia had probably captured most of a salt mining town in eastern Ukraine where Kyiv accused Moscow of sacrificing wave upon wave of soldiers and mercenaries in a horrific and senseless battle over wasteland, Reuters reported.

The British Defense Ministry said Russian troops and fighters of Wagner, a mercenary company run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, "are likely in control of most of the settlement" of Soledar after four days of advances.

If confirmed, it would be Russia's most substantial gain since last August, after a series of humiliating retreats throughout much of the second half of 2022. Russian forces have been fighting for months to capture the nearby larger city of Bakhmut, a few kilometers (miles) to the southwest.

But any victory would come at a massive cost, with troops from both sides having taken heavy losses in some of the most intense combat since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly 11 months ago. Kyiv has released pictures in recent days showing what it says are scores of Russian soldiers strewn dead in muddy fields.

12:45 p.m.: Egypt continues to battle surging inflation amid a dramatic slide of its currency as many Egyptians struggle with price hikes, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, quoting the country’s statistics bureau.

The economy was also hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and the fallout from the war in Ukraine. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, with most of its imports having traditionally come from eastern Europe.

The higher inflation has inflicted heavy burdens on consumers, especially lower-income households. Nearly 30% of Egyptians live in poverty, according to official figures.

12:05 p.m.: Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made a surprise visit to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv near the Russian border on Tuesday, promising more weapons as well as "concrete offers" to help the country's accession to the European Union, Reuters reported.

In a statement ahead of a meeting with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock expressed Germany's support and solidarity with Ukrainians living through Russia's invasion and harsh winter conditions.

After Germany last week promised to send Marder fighting vehicles to Ukraine as part of stepped up military support, Baerbock promised more weapons, without specifying which ones.

She also said it was important not to lose sight of Ukraine's place in Europe and its desire to join the EU.

12 p.m.: The Group of Seven coalition will seek to set two price caps on Russian refined products in February — one for products trading at a premium to crude oil and the other for those trading at a discount, Reuters reported, quoting a G7 official.

The coalition — which consists of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States, plus the 27-nation European Union — introduced a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian crude from December 5 on top of the EU embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea.

From February 5, the coalition also will impose price caps on Russian products, such as diesel, kerosene and fuel oil, to further reduce Moscow's revenue from energy exports and its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine.

But capping Russian oil product prices is more complicated than setting a price limit on crude alone, because there are many oil products and their price often depends on where they are bought, rather than where they are produced, the official said, asking not to be named.

11:35 a.m.: A record number of business and government leaders will descend on the Swiss resort of Davos next week to pore over challenges ranging from global economic slowdown to environmental collapse as the World Economic Forum returns to its winter slot, Reuters reported.

While the Russian delegation will be conspicuous by its absence, organizers hailed a record turnout in terms of the number and diversity of participants, with expectations of a "high-level" Chinese presence.

Organizers said that Ukraine, which dominated last year's forum, would send another high level delegation and that there would be several sessions related to the war.

11:10 a.m.: Estonia wants to outline a plan by the end of January for seizing some $21.4 million of Russian assets and delivering them under European Union sanctions to Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Estonian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mihkel Tamm said on January 10 that the Baltic state had started working on the proposal last month.

The announcement comes as the European Commission is developing a bloc-wide arrangement to deal with $322 billion in Russian central-bank reserves and billions in frozen assets of Russian nationals sanctioned over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

10:55 a.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday released data showing that donors contributed $327 million in 2022 to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund.

10:40 a.m.: The CEO of energy company Uniper has decided to step down after the German government nationalized the gas supplier last month, Uniper said Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Klaus-Dieter Maubach is exercising a special right to terminate his contract and will leave the board this year, Uniper said in a statement. It added that Maubach, who has led the company since March 2021, was willing to stay in the job until a suitable replacement is appointed.

The German government announced its plan to nationalize Uniper in September, expanding state intervention in the energy sector to prevent a shortage resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Before the invasion of Ukraine, the company bought about half of its gas from Russia, which started cutting deliveries to Germany in June and hasn’t supplied any gas to the country since the end of August.

Uniper has incurred huge costs as a result of those cuts because it was forced to buy gas at far higher market prices to meet its supply contract obligations.

9:35 a.m.: Europe has dodged an energy apocalypse this winter, economists and officials say, thanks to unusually warm weather and efforts to find other sources of natural gas after Russia cut off most of its supply to the continent.

Natural gas suppliers in recent days have increased their stocks at a time when they’re usually being drawn down — an unexpected boost that has relieved fears of gas used to heat homes, generate electricity and power factories running out by winter’s end.

As a result, short-term gas prices have fallen from record highs, dropping from 18 times what they were before Russia massed troops on Ukraine’s border in early 2021 to four times higher. That’s still painfully high, eating away at company earnings and consumer spending power through costly utility bills and inflation.

But analysts say the worst case of shortages and rationing has been avoided.

The Associated Press published key facts about Europe’s energy struggles.

8:30 a.m.: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a press conference Tuesday. They spoke to the media after signing a third NATO-EU joint declaration on their strategic partnership. “This is a great way of starting the new year,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the alliance is more important than ever, in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine. “President (Vladimir) Putin wanted to take Ukraine in a few days and to divide us. On both counts, he has clearly failed,” he said.

8:10 a.m.: The European Union will impose new sanctions on Belarus as it keeps up the pressure on Russia to end its war in Ukraine and extends measures to those countries that support Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

"We will keep pressure on the Kremlin for as long as it takes with a biting sanctions regime, we will extend these sanctions to those who militarily support Russia's war such as Belarus or Iran," von der Leyen said at a news conference.

"And we will be coming forward with new sanctions against Belarus answering their role in this Russian war in Ukraine."

7:55 a.m.: Ryan Hendrickson is a retired Green Beret, a special forces unit of the U.S. Army. But today he is in Ukraine, helping to clear mines laid by invading Russian forces and keep soldiers and civilians safe. VOA’s ?a Meurmishvili talked to Hendrickson in this report.

7:40 a.m.: Ukraine's military said early on January 10 that it conducted airstrikes overnight on unspecified Russian positions and antiaircraft missile systems, while fierce fighting continued in the small northeastern town of Soledar where Russian troops are said to be making tactical advances over the past four days, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The Ukrainian General Staff also said the Russian military is waging offensive operations in the direction of several cities in the eastern Donetsk region, including Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, and Lyman and is seeking to improve its tactical position in the direction of Kupyan.

It said its forces shot down two unmanned enemy drones.

Bakhmut and Soledar lie in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, which Putin claims to have annexed. Full control of it and the neighboring Luhansk region, the so-called Donbas, is Putin’s main priority at this stage in the war, analysts have said.

6:30 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Ukraine and the West had reacted "cynically" to a 36-hour ceasefire proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark Orthodox Christmas, Reuters reported.

"We met with a cynical reaction from Kyiv and a number of Western leaders," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a daily briefing.

Russia says the truce was announced for humanitarian purposes so that Orthodox Christians could celebrate Christmas, but Ukraine says Russian troops shelled dozens of positions and settlements along the front line on Saturday, when the truce was meant to be in effect.

6 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia has appointed Colonel-General Alexander Lapin as chief of staff of the country's ground forces, state-owned news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, despite fierce criticism from leading hawks over his performance in Ukraine.

Lapin, previously commander of Russia's central military district, was blasted last October by hawkish allies of President Vladimir Putin after Russian forces were driven out of the city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, a key logistics hub.

His appointment follows other sweeping changes to Russia's military leadership in the course of the 11-month war, in which Moscow's forces have seized large areas of south and eastern Ukraine but suffered a series of painful defeats and retreats.

On October 8, Russia named Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of its forces in Ukraine, shortly after the reported sacking of the commanders of the Eastern and Western military districts.

In August, the state-owned RIA news agency reported that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet had been fired after a series of humiliations including the sinking of its flagship and the loss of eight warplanes in an attack on a Russian base in Crimea.

After Russia lost Lyman in October, Lapin drew savage public criticism from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner private military group, who have both sent units to Ukraine to bolster the efforts of the regular army.

Kadyrov said Lapin should be stripped of his medals and sent to the front with a gun to wash away his shame with blood.

5:40 a.m.: Italy intends to supply Ukraine with a missile defense system to help protect it against Russia attacks but must deal with technical issues before it can be dispatched, Reuters reported Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani as saying on Tuesday.

Tajani was speaking after Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported on Monday that a decision on the supply of new arms to Ukraine had been delayed until next month due to political tensions, cost considerations and equipment shortages.

Two weeks ago Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Rome was considering supplying air defenses after a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in which she reaffirmed her government's "full support" for Ukraine.

Shortly afterwards, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto struck a cautious tone on whether Italy would be able to supply Ukraine with air defense systems such as the Franco-Italian SAMP/T.

Tajani said Italy was working with the French to resolve issues prior to deployment of the SAMP/T.

5:05 a.m.: One of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies said on Tuesday that Russia was now fighting the U.S.-led NATO military alliance in Ukraine and that the West was trying to rip Russia apart and ultimately wipe it from the political map of the world.

"The events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kyiv — this is a military confrontation between Russia and NATO, and above all the United States and Britain," Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said, according to Reuters.

"The Westerners' plans are to continue to pull Russia apart, and eventually just erase it from the political map of the world," Patrushev told the Argumenti i Fakti newspaper.

Patrushev, a former Soviet spy who has known Putin since the 1970s, is a hardline ally and seen as one of the few people able to influence the Russian president.

4:40 a.m.: Reuters reported the Russian energy ministry as saying on Tuesday it has been working on additional measures to limit discounts to international benchmarks on Russian oil prices, after the West imposed price caps.

President Vladimir Putin last month signed a decree that banned the supply of crude oil and oil products from February 1 for five months to nations that abide by the cap.

3:50 a.m.: The Dutch Media Authority issued a five-year broadcasting permit for the Russian independent television station TV Rain after its license had been canceled in Latvia, according to a statement on the regulator's website.

Reuters reported that the permit, dated December 22, will "provide a commercial television broadcasting service as a commercial media institution," the regulator said. It was not immediately clear when the statement was published.

Latvia canceled the license of TV Rain in early December after the company was branded a threat to national security.

The liberal-leaning TV Rain, or Dozhd, shifted to broadcasting from Latvia and other countries in July, after being forced to shut its Moscow studio following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

2:45 a.m.: A Russian warship armed with hypersonic cruise weapons has held exercises in the Norwegian Sea, Reuters cited the defense ministry as saying on Tuesday.

"The crew of the frigate 'Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov' conducted an air defense exercise in the Norwegian Sea," the ministry said.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin sent the frigate to the Atlantic Ocean armed with new generation hypersonic cruise missiles, a signal to the West that Russia will not back down over the war in Ukraine.

1:55 a.m.: Poland’s President Andrzej Duda met Monday with the prime minister and some of his ministers to discuss security issues amid the war in neighboring Ukraine, including Kyiv's request for delivery of Western-made heavy battle tanks.

The Associated Press reported that, after the meeting, top national security official Jacek Siewiera said decisions were taken as to current and future support to Ukraine, but did not provide any details.

Earlier, a presidential aide said that Kyiv’s request for German-made Leopard 2 tanks which Poland, among other countries, uses, would be on the agenda.

Pawel Szrot said that should Warsaw decide to hand over a limited number of Leopard tanks it would “only be within a wide agreement and an undertaking by other countries that have these tanks.”

Szrot stressed that such decisions need to also take Poland's security into account.

1 a.m.: According to The Associated Press, Russian authorities on Monday announced parallel criminal probes against a famous actor critical of the war in Ukraine and a philanthropist who supports the Russian opposition, the latest in a months-long, sweeping crackdown on dissent.

Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement that its chief Alexander Bastrykin ordered the launch of a criminal case against Russian film and theater actor Artur Smolyaninov, who left the country after Moscow's forces invaded Ukraine and repeatedly spoke out against the war.

According to the statement, Smolyaninov "made a series of statements directed against Russia in an interview to a Western media outlet." The Investigative Committee didn't clarify which of Smolyaninov's actions constituted a criminal offense and what charges it would bring against him.

12:18 a.m.: According to Reuters, on a visit to Taiwan, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the head of Germany's parliamentary defense committee and a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's junior coalition partner Free Democrats (FDP), told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen that Germany and Taiwan are friends.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a wake up call for the whole world, Strack-Zimmermann said.

"That's the reason why we come to your country, to your wonderful island, to say (to) the world that we stand close together as democratic states," she added.

12:01 a.m.: Reuters reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday he remained convinced of the need to coordinate weapons deliveries to Ukraine with allies as pressure mounts on Berlin to send Kyiv its Leopard 2 battle tanks.

Germany announced last week it would provide Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles to help repel Russian forces. The announcement came on the same day that the United States pledged Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and a day after a similar announcement from France.

Scholz, who has often underscored the importance of not escalating the conflict in Ukraine or giving Russia a reason to deem it party to the war, said the Western allies had spent "a long time preparing, discussing and organizing this."

Kyiv has also requested heavier vehicles such as the Leopards, which would represent a significant step-up in Western support to Ukraine.

"Germany will not go alone," he said at an event of his center-left Social Democrat party (SPD) kicking off the campaign for the Berlin state election.

"Germany will always remain united with its friends and allies ... Anything else would be irresponsible in such a dangerous situation."

Source: Voice of America