Russia-Ukraine war live: Vladimir Putin to hold first major news conference since invasion | Ukraine #RussiaUkraine #war #live #Vladimir #Putin #hold #major #news #conference #invasion #Ukraine

Key events

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is expected to hold his annual end of the year press conference after cancelling last year’s setpiece event. Russian citizens will phone in their questions along with those asked by journalists. His last news conference was in 2021 amid warnings that Russia was on the brink of sending troops into Ukraine. Putin has limited his interaction with the foreign media since the fighting began in Ukraine.

It comes against the backdrop of an EU meeting with an expected face off against Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán as he threatens to veto a massive aid package and start membership talks for Ukraine.

The crunch summit in Brussels – which diplomats fear could drag on longer than the two days planned – comes as fears mount over western backing for Ukraine nearly two years into Russia’s war.

Kyiv is desperately seeking to improve the narrative after President Volodymyr Zelensky failed in Washington to win over Republican lawmakers blocking US support.

But Orbán – Russia’s closest ally in the European Union – stands in the way of Ukraine’s hopes for 50 billion euros ($54 billion) in financial aid and progress towards its goal of one day joining the bloc.

Meanwhile, Moscow said it had shot down two drones targeting the Russian capital overnight. No casualties or damage were reported. Separately, the Ria news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying a total of nine drones had been destroyed over the Moscow region and the adjacent Kaluga region. It did not provide a breakdown.

In other key developments:

  • Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is expected to hold his annual end of the year press conference on 14 December. The event will include a call-in known as the “direct line”, in which Russians can ask Putin for his advice. “On December 14, Vladimir Putin will sum up the results of the year. It will be a combined format of the direct line and the president’s final press conference,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

  • Russia launched a massive missile attack on Kyiv in the early hours of Wednesday in an apparent show of strength, minutes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met his US counterpart Joe Biden for talks in Washington. Ukraine’s air defences shot down all 10 Russian missiles targeting the capital but least 53 people were injured by falling debris.

  • Ahead of Thursday’s EU leaders summit, Zelenskiy said that Orbán had no reason to block Ukraine’s EU membership. “I was very direct … He has no reasons to block Ukrainian membership in the EU. I asked him to tell me one reason … I’m [still] waiting for an answer,” Zelenskiy said about his short encounter with Orban in Argentina on Sunday.

  • Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, also urged EU countries to recognise that Ukraine has “much to offer” the bloc. “Values-wise and ideologically, Ukraine is an indisputable part of Europe – which is precisely why Russia attacked us … Without Ukraine, the ‘Europe’ puzzle cannot come together,” he said.

  • Arriving at the summit in Brussels, Poland’s new prime minister, Donald Tusk, said that “apathy on Ukraine” was “unacceptable”. Poland’s previous government had become embroiled in a row with Ukraine over grain exports but new foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski also stressed that supporting Ukraine would be a “priority” for the new administration.

  • The five Nordic nations told Zelenskiy during previously unannounced talks in Oslo that they would support his country “for as long as it takes” in its struggle to drive out Russian forces. Together, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland have provided aid to Ukraine worth 11bn euros since Russia invaded in February 2022 and are ready to continue giving extensive military, economic and humanitarian support, the five nations said in a joint statement.

  • Denmark’s government would present a new support package for Ukraine worth 1 bn euros ($1.08bn) to parliament on Thursday, prime minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference in Oslo with the Nordic leaders and Zelenskiy in Oslo.

  • Ukraine’s top mobile phone operator, Kyivstar, started restoring voice services to some clients a day after its networks were knocked out by a major cyber-attack, Kyivstar CEO Oleksandr Komarov said, with data and other services to follow. The company, which provides services to more than half of Ukraine’s population, sustained “huge” damage during the attack on Tuesday, Komarov told Reuters, calling it “the biggest cyber-attack on telco infrastructure in the world”.

  • A hacking group believed by Kyiv to be affiliated with Russian military intelligence claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack. A group of activist hackers, or “hacktivists”, called Solntsepyok said in a post on the Telegram messaging app that it carried out the cyber-attack, and published screenshots appearing to show that the hackers had accessed Kyivstar’s servers.

#RussiaUkraine #war #live #Vladimir #Putin #hold #major #news #conference #invasion #Ukraine

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