Pro-Russian units near Bakhmut in Donetsk region
Photo: ALESSANDRO GUERRA/EPA
That says Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced his annual state of the nation address to the Rada.
"I want this message not to be a report, but our dialogue with you about the coming year," said the 44-year-old on Tuesday in his daily video address.
It is about formulating the tasks for the future.
The speech is expected by the end of the week, but Selenskyj did not give an exact date.
The Ukrainian President also reported on his meeting with the General Staff.
The situation in the eastern Ukrainian Donbass and especially around the small towns of Kreminna and Bakhmut was discussed, he said.
The industrial town of Bakhmut in the north of the Donetsk region has been the subject of fighting for months.
The situation has recently deteriorated near Kreminna, a small town north of it in the Luhansk region.
Both sides are fighting for the initiative there.
In addition, Selenskyj reported on a conversation with Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
According to him, Rome is currently examining the delivery of anti-aircraft systems for Ukraine.
"I believe that Italian support will allow us to strengthen the defense of Ukrainian airspace," said Zelenskyy.
After the right-wing alliance's victory in Italy in the autumn, there was speculation as to whether the country would end its support for Ukraine.
The coalition includes the Forza Italia party of ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was one of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin's closest allies in the West.
In the dispute over whether the Orthodox Church should remain in the world-famous Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the Ukrainian leadership has emphatically called on the Church to distance itself from Moscow.
"If you have no relations with Russia, then officially renounce it, say that (Vladimir) Putin is Satan," National Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov demanded of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on television on Tuesday.
Moscow Patriarch Kirill is also a devil, added Danilov.
Until May, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate.
At that time, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially broke with Moscow and condemned Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine ordered by Kremlin chief Putin.
However, the Ukrainian authorities continue to suspect the church of collaborating with Moscow.
The organization's premises were searched several times.
The church's lease for the Cave Monastery in Kyiv was terminated at the turn of the year.
The head of the cave monastery, Pavel Lebed, then turned to President Zelenskyj with criticism and a request to stay.
Moscow says so
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sees the United States as the main culprit and at the same time the greatest beneficiary of the Ukraine conflict.
The strategic goal of the United States and its allies in NATO is a "victory over Russia on the battlefield" in order to weaken or even destroy Russia, Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian state agency TASS on Tuesday.
In order to achieve this, Moscow's opponents are "willing to do much."
"The main beneficiaries of this burning conflict are the United States, which wants to get the maximum benefit from it, both in the economic and military-strategic spheres," Lavrov said.
Washington is also pursuing another geopolitical goal - the destruction of Russia's traditional ties with Europe.
Because of the Russian war of aggression, which has so far claimed thousands of lives, the USA, the EU and a number of Western countries have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia.
Ukraine also receives military support in the form of weapons and ammunition from the West.
From the 72-year-old's point of view, the USA is doing everything it can to exacerbate the conflict.
Lavrov claimed that Kyiv is being supplied with the most modern weapons, which have not even been delivered to the US's western allies.
The military support of 40 billion dollars provided this year alone exceeds the defense budgets of some European countries.
On the other hand, Kyiv is trying to "draw the Americans and other NATO members deeper into the conflict, hoping to make a hasty clash with the Russian army inevitable."
Lavrov also accused the United States of alleged plans to kill Kremlin chief Putin.
"Unnamed officials" from the Pentagon threatened to "decapitate" Russia.
"In fact, it's about the threat of the physical elimination of the Russian head of state," the Russian chief diplomat claimed - without citing any evidence.
According to the city administration, the residents of Kiev will have to reckon with sudden emergency power cuts again and again until the end of winter.
"We will have to live under these conditions all winter," said the deputy chief of the city administration, Petro Pantelyev, on Ukrainian television on Tuesday.
As in other Ukrainian cities, the power supply in Kyiv has been severely affected by the Russian rocket attacks.
Electricians worked around the clock to repair the system, but Panteleyev admitted the situation remained difficult.
The official warned that the capacities are not sufficient, especially on working days, when there is an increased power consumption.
Since October, Russia has repeatedly launched rocket attacks on Ukraine's energy supply infrastructure.
The danger of further attacks remains acute, the Ukrainian general staff warned in its situation report on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal had previously stated that Ukraine could spend New Year's Eve without emergency shutdowns if there was no further shelling.
However, he admitted that there was a high risk that the Russian military would again target objects that supply electricity in Ukraine.
Russia reacts to the EU, G7 and Australian oil price caps for Russian oil by banning oil exports to the countries concerned.
According to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, states and companies subject to the oil price cap decided in response to the Russian offensive in Ukraine would no longer receive Russian oil from February 1.
The order is valid until July 1st.
"The supply of Russian oil and Russian oil products to foreign legal entities and other private individuals is prohibited if the contracts for such supplies directly or indirectly" apply the price cap, the decree says.
Only Kremlin boss Putin can personally decide to lift the ban in individual cases.
The EU, the group of seven leading industrialized nations (G7) and Australia had agreed on a price cap of 60 dollars (56.52 euros) for Russian crude oil, which has been in effect since early December.
Germany and its partners want to reduce Moscow's lavish income from oil sales.
At the same time, it should be ensured that Russia continues to supply the world market.
The price cap was introduced in addition to an EU embargo on Russian crude oil transported by ship.
This is intended to prevent Russia from circumventing the sanctions and selling the raw material to other countries at the prevailing market price.
Russian oil is currently priced at around $65 a barrel, just a little above the upper limit of the oil price cap.
According to observers, the measure taken by the EU, G7 and Australia will only have a minor impact on Russia's oil revenues, at least in the short term.
The Ukrainian head of state, Volodymyr Zelensky, had attested to the states involved in introducing the oil price cap as having a “weak position”.