New wave of missile attacks hits Ukraine; explosions reported at Russian air bases

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates. 

Ukraine appears keen to rebuff a claim by a U.S. official that fighting in the war could take slow down over winter.

On Saturday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said the U.S. expects to see a "reduced tempo" in the fighting in Ukraine to continue over the next few months before counteroffensives resume in earnest in the spring.

Destroyed Russian vehicles and tanks in Mykhailivska Square on Nov. 19, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians are facing severe power disruptions after recent waves of Russian missile and drone strikes reportedly left almost half of Ukraine's energy infrastructure disabled and in need of repair, as temperatures plunge.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A spokesperson for Ukraine's armed forces in the east of the country, which is seeing intense fighting as Russian troops try to advance on and seize the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, said Sunday that Ukraine is "doing everything to be ready for the winter period of military operations" and is preparing its equipment and units for winter combat.

Ukraine has been keen to dispel any idea of a lull in the fighting or loss of momentum in their counteroffensives, with President Zelenskyy calling for unity and for citizens to support one another as freezing temperatures set in. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense has been posting videos of tanks plowing through muddy, water-logged fields in recent days, and high morale among its soldiers.

India signals it will keep buying oil from Russia

India will prioritize its own energy needs and continue to buy oil from Russia, its foreign minister signaled Monday, as Western governments press Moscow with a price cap to squeeze its earnings from oil exports.

Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the comments after holding talks with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, in which they discussed bilateral relations and Russia's war in Ukraine. Jaishankar said it isn't right for European countries to prioritize their energy needs but "ask India to do something else."

"Europe will make the choices it will make. It is their right," he told reporters.

India has so far not committed to the $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil set by the Group of Seven major industrialized countries and European Union that is expected to come into effect Monday. The move is an attempt by Western governments to limit fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow's budget, its military and its invasion of Ukraine, while also avoiding a possible sharp price spike if Russia's oil is suddenly taken off the global market.

— The Associated Press

Russian terror is not only a threat to Ukraine, but to the entire region and beyond, Zelenskyy says

Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked European nations to stop buying Russian oil.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the need for cooperation in combatting Russian aggression and terror in his nightly address, following another deadly wave of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine.

"When one terrorist destabilizes everyone's lives, stopping terror is a joint task," Zelenskyy said.

The strikes also caused power interruptions in neighboring Moldova once again, prompting Zelenskyy to acknowledge the spillover effects of the war.

"Russian terror again affects neighboring states," he said. "And this once again proves that Russia's ability to carry out such massive terrorist attacks is a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to our entire region. At least," he added.

Ukrainian air defense shot down "most of" the 70 missiles launched by Russia, according to Zelenskyy. At least four people were killed and several others injured by the strikes, he reported. Energy infrastructure was also targeted, prompting more emergency blackouts in regions across the country still reeling from prior attacks.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russia's war in Ukraine underscores urgent need to address supply chain vulnerabilities: US-EU Trade and Tech Council

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discusses Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the State Department in Washington on March 2, 2022.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

The Trade and Technology Council jointly administered by the United States and the European Union convened on Monday to discuss "the urgent need to identify and address supply chain vulnerabilities" exposed by Russia's war in Ukraine.

"The United States and the European Union recognize that the concentration of resources in key supply chains can expose our economies to challenging disruptions," reads a joint statement issued by the Council. "We plan to explore coordinated actions to foster diversification and make key supply chains more resilient."

The meeting was held outside of Washington D.C. and co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, as well as other representatives from the U.S. and the EU.

The Council reiterated its commitment to Ukraine in support of its critical infrastructure and vowed to continue addressing the spread of Russian disinformation, both in the context of its war in Ukraine and abroad.

"We condemn attacks by Russia on Ukraine's infrastructure and will continue supporting Ukraine in securing, maintaining, and rebuilding this infrastructure, including its telecommunications and internet infrastructure," the statement said. "We resolve to continue to impose severe and immediate costs on Russia and hold it accountable for its brutal war against Ukraine, including through unprecedented cooperation on sanctions-related export restrictions, and countering Russian disinformation."

— Rocio Fabbro

Oil tankers backed up off Turkish coast as Russian oil price cap comes into effect, Financial Times report finds

Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy is seen off the coast of Black Sea port of Karasu, Turkey, July 2, 2022.
Yoruk Isik | Reuters

The Financial Times reported a "traffic jam" of oil tankers off the coast of Turkey as Ankara insists on new proof of insurance for the vessels, just one day after a West-imposed price cap on Russian crude oil took effect.

Approximately 19 ships carrying crude oil were in line to cross Turkish waters, according to the report, which was constructed using ship brokers, oil traders and satellite tracking.

The Group of Seven countries, along with Australia and the European Union, agreed upon a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil in efforts to curb Russia's funding of its war machine. The agreement only allows Russian oil to be sold to any of the states who signed the agreement and other organizations if it is bought at or below the capped price.

Russia said on Monday that the oil price cap would only destabilize global energy markets, but would not curb its actions in Ukraine, according to Reuters. Russia also said it would not deal with countries abiding by the cap, reported the Financial Times.

— Rocio Fabbro

Air defense a top priority for U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, Defense Secretary says

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin attends a media statement after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the American military's Ramstein Air Base, near Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany, September 8, 2022.
Thilo Schmuelgen | Reuters

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin underscored U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine's defense against Russian aggression in a phone call with Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov.

"Secretary Austin reiterated air defense as a top priority for U.S. security assistance efforts, made evident by recent commitments to provide Ukraine additional munitions for U.S.-provided National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) as well as capabilities to counter Unmanned Aerial System," Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said in a readout of the call.

Ukraine first received NASAMS in early November. The interceptor systems have proved invaluable to Ukraine's defense and security efforts, giving Ukraine the capability to shoot down Russian missiles before they strike.

Austin also pledged his "unwavering support" to Ukraine in its war against Russia, condemning "Russia's brutal air attacks on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure," according to Ryder.

— Rocio Fabbro

Biden administration looks to oil and gas execs to help bolster Ukraine energy assets

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he delivers remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure deal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2021.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

The Biden administration is convening a virtual meeting on Thursday with oil and gas executives to discuss how the United States can support Ukrainian energy infrastructure, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The meeting comes as Russia seeks to cut off Ukraine's energy supplies and infrastructure as winter approaches with missile attacks.

"As you know Ukrainian energy assets are being aggressively targeted in an effort to take advantage of the winter's coldest temperatures and harshest weather conditions. Together, we can help to boost Ukrainian resilience," wrote David Turk, U.S. deputy secretary of energy, in a letter to oil and gas executives.

— Reuters

Far-right Republicans don't want to help Ukraine 'maybe because they're supportive of the Russians', Rep. Aguilar says

U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) speaks at House Leadership news conference after Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) was elected as the new Democratic leader in the House of Representatives for the next session of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 30, 2022.
Michael McCoy | Reuters

Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar said that far-right Republicans don't want to help Ukraine, "maybe because they're supportive of the Russians."

President Joe Biden recently requested an additional $37.7 billion in funding for Ukraine, much of it for renewed military and defense capabilities and ammunition, as well as humanitarian aid. Aguilar, who was recently elected as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that this funding is a priority before the start of the newly elected Congress.

"Right now, Kevin McCarthy is caught in a position," Aguilar said. "He has his far flank that is telling him no, never, and we're not going to help Ukraine — maybe because they're supportive of the Russians."

He explained, however, that he hopes to find "reasonable Republicans" to help secure aid for Ukraine.

Since the start of Russia's war in Ukraine in late February, the U.S. has sent approximately $68 billion in aid to Ukraine, with the latest $400 million drawdown on Nov. 10. An email and call to the conservative Republican Freedom Caucus weren't immediately returned.

— Rocio Fabbro

Putin surveys repairs of the Kerch Bridge

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula across the Kerch Strait, December 5, 2022. 
Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Kerch Bridge, which is under repair following the explosion that destroyed a significant portion of the road in early October, confirmed the Kremlin in a Telegram post.

Putin "drove along the car lane of the Crimean Bridge" and discussed the progress of restoration work with builders, according to the Kremlin.

Early on, Moscow blamed the explosion, caused by a fuel tanker, on Ukrainian security services. Russia then used the alleged "sabotage" to justify subsequent deadly missile attacks on civilians in Ukraine.

The bridge is the longest in Europe and is strategically crucial for Russia, as it connects annexed Crimea to mainland Russia.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russian oil price cap, EU ban aim to limit Kremlin war chest

Bloomberg | Getty Images

Major Western measures to limit Russia's oil profits over the war in Ukraine took effect, bringing with them uncertainty about how much crude could be lost to the world and whether they will unleash the hoped-for hit to a Russian economy that has held up better than many expected under sanctions.

In the most far-reaching efforts so far to target one of Moscow's main sources of income, the European Union is banning most Russian oil and the Group of Seven democracies has imposed a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports to other countries.

The impact of both measures, however, may be blunted because the world's No. 2 oil producer has so far been able reroute much of its European seaborne shipments to China, India and Turkey, although at steep discounts, and the price cap is near what Russian oil already cost.

As it stands, Russia will likely have enough money to not only fund its military but support key industries and social programs, said Chris Weafer, CEO and Russian economy analyst at consulting firm Macro-Advisory.

"At this price level, that outlook really doesn't change much. But what is key is how much volume Russia would be able to sell," he said. "And that depends not only on the willingness of Asian buyers to continue buying Russian oil, but also what is the physical ability of Russia to shift that oil."

— Associated Press

Moscow says three killed in Ukrainian drone attacks on air bases deep inside Russia

A satellite image shows an overview of Engels Air Base, in Saratov, Russia, December 4, 2022. 
Maxar Technologies | Reuters

Russia said that three of its military personnel were killed in what it said were Ukrainian drone attacks on two Russian air bases hundreds of miles from the front lines in Ukraine.

Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility. If it did carry out the attacks, they were the deepest military strikes it has conducted inside the Russian heartland since Moscow invaded on Feb. 24.

One of the targets, the Engels air base near the city of Saratov, houses bomber planes that are part of Russia's strategic nuclear forces.

"The Kyiv regime, in order to disable Russian long-range aircraft, made attempts to strike with Soviet-made unmanned jet aerial vehicles at the military airfields Dyagilevo, in the Ryazan region, and Engels, in the Saratov region," the Russian defence ministry said.

It said the drones, flying at low altitude, were intercepted by air defences and shot down. The wreckage caused slight damage to two aircraft, it said, and four people were wounded.

The ministry called it a "terrorist act" aimed at disrupting its long-range aviation.

— Reuters

Germany's Scholz: We must avoid dividing world into Cold War-style blocs

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a joint news conference with German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner in Berlin, Germany, January 21, 2022.
Michael Sohn | Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned against creating a new Cold War by dividing the world into blocs.

In an opinion piece for Foreign Affairs magazine, he called for every effort to be made to build new partnerships.

The West must stand up for democratic values and protect open societies, "but we must also avoid the temptation to once again divide the world into blocs," wrote Scholz in the piece.

"This means making every effort to build new partnerships, pragmatically and without ideological blinders," he added.

Scholz singled out China and Russia as two countries that pose a threat to a multipolar world, which requires stronger European and transatlantic unity to overcome.

— Reuters

9 out of 10 Russian missiles were intercepted over Kyiv, city officials report

Firefighters work to put out fire at the scene of Russian missile strikes, as Russia's attack continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine October 10, 2022.
Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukrainian air defense intercepted nine out of 10 Russian missiles following a recent onslaught from Russia, the Kyiv city military administration reported.

The wave of missile strikes launched from three different Russian sites damaged residential buildings, inflicted further damage on energy infrastructure and left many residents in regions across the country without power and water.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lauded the efforts of air defense and on-the-ground services for helping mitigate the impacts of the widespread attack.

"Most of the missiles were shot down," Zelenskyy said on Telegram. "Energy workers have already started to restore the power supply."

Russia's continued attacks on energy and civilian infrastructure have put a strain on local resources and heightened concerns of a dark, brutal winter as temperatures have already begun to dip.

— Rocio Fabbro

Rocket discovered in Moldova following Russian missile bombardment

An unexploded short range hypersonic ballistic missile, according to Ukrainian authorities, from Iskander complex is seen amid Ukraine-Russia conflict in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022.
National Guard of Ukraine | Reuters

A rocket was discovered in northern Moldova after Russia's nationwide bombardment of Ukraine, the Moldovan Ministry of Interior Affairs said.

"A little while ago, near the city of Briceni, a rocket was discovered by a patrol of the border police, who, due to the Russian bombings today, have intensified their level of attention," the Moldovan Ministry of Interior Affairs shared on Facebook.

The area is cordoned off by police and border patrols, with specialized services from the Ministry expected at the scene, the Ministry said.

The rocket could heighten concerns about the spillover of the war, particularly for nations that border both Russia and Ukraine. In mid-November, an errant Ukrainian missile struck a village in Poland, killing two farmers. While the international community deemed it an accident, they ultimately blamed Russia for its initial provocation of the war that resulted in the external casualties.

— Rocio Fabbro

Restocking Western ammunition after arming Ukraine will take years, says owner of munitions manufacturing group

Workers and Ukrainian servicemen unload a shipment of ammunition delivered as part of the United States of America's security assistance to Ukraine, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine November 14, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Ukraine | Reuters

It will take 10-15 years to refill Western stocks of artillery ammunition depleted to support Ukraine's army as it battles Russia's invasion, according to the owner of major arms manufacturer Czechoslovak Group.

Despite the flow of ammo to Ukraine, CSG owner Michal Strnad said Ukrainian forces were experiencing shortfalls as Western governments were running down their arsenals amid limits on production capacity.

Strnad told Reuters his firm was now responsible for about 25-30% of European output of NATO-standard 155mm artillery.

"Artillery ammunition are very scarce goods today," he said in an interview. "I estimate it will take 10-15 years to refill (Western armies') stocks" as a result of the war in Ukraine.

European governments have significantly drawn on their arsenals to support Ukraine, which Strnad said was firing 40,000 shells per week from several hundred, Western-supplied howitzers against Russian invaders.

"Really a lot has been delivered to Ukraine," he said. "But the fact is that today the Ukrainians are shooting less than they could because they do not have enough ammunition."

— Reuters

Widespread Russian missile strikes leave at least two dead and others injured in Zaporizhzhia

A view shows a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine October 9, 2022.
Stringer | Reuters

At least two people are dead and two others injured, including a 1-year-old child, in the Zaporizhzhia region following nationwide Russian missile strikes, reported the Deputy Head of the Office of the Ukrainian President, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

Several private homes were destroyed and there are likely more injured, Tymoshenko said in a Telegram post. He noted that emergency services are already working at the scene.

The head of Kyiv's regional military administration, Oleksii Kuleba, urged residents to stay in shelters as Ukrainian air defense began operating in the region.

"There is an increased danger of rockets moving toward the region," Kuleba posted on Telegram.

The northeastern Sumy region is also without power due to an emergency shutdown of the energy system following the attacks left, according to the region's local energy company, Sumyoblenergo. Separately, the Odesa region was cut off from its water supply due to the strikes, local water supply company Infoksvodokanal said.

The wave of widespread missile strikes form part of Russia's efforts to cut off Ukraine from vital energy resources by targeting vital infrastructure across Ukraine, leaving many Ukrainians in harsh and uncertain conditions for the winter.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russia now controls 18% of Ukraine, UK ministry says

Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline in Donbass, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on November 22, 2022. 
Diego Herrera Carcedo | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine has liberated around 54% of the maximum amount of extra territory Russia seized since the beginning of its invasion on Feb. 24 this year, according to the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence.

Posting on Twitter, the ministry said Russia now controls around 18% of internationally recognized areas of Ukraine, "including the Donbas and Crimea regions under Russian control since 2014."

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and supported a pro-Russian uprising in two regions in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine where two separatist self-proclaimed "republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk are located.

Since the start of the war, Russia has been pushed back from several regions by Ukraine's forces, notably around Kharkiv in the northeast of the country. Russian forces have also withdrawn from areas around Kyiv, the capital, and Kherson in the south.

Donetsk in eastern Ukraine is now the scene of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine as Russian forces try to advance and capture the city of Bakhmut, in the hope of then advancing towards Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in a bid to cement their foothold in the region.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia launched a new wave of missile attacks, says Ukrainian air force spokesperson

A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic inspects the remains of a missile that landed on a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 26, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russia launched another wave of missile attacks against Ukraine Monday, Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said in a press briefing that took place amid air raid alerts in Kyiv and across the country.

"This is not a drill," Ihnat told reporters. "The missiles are already launched."

The attacks used strategic aviation launched from three separate sites: the Volgodonsk region in western Russia, the Caspian Sea and from ships in the Black Sea, according to Ihnat. The most recent missile launches are a continuation of Russia's attacks on critical Ukrainian infrastructure that began in early October, he said. To date, Russian strikes damaged approximately half of Ukraine's energy systems, leaving many Ukrainians without electricity as temperatures drop.

Ilhnat warned that Monday's launch could result in several waves of strikes, cautioning Ukrainians to take shelter. "Russians do this in order to disperse and confuse our air defense forces," he said of the launch waves.

Several top Ukrainian officials have requested additional air defense capabilities, including fighter jets and advanced missile deterrent systems, over the past weeks as Russia ramps up its missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure.

— Rocio Fabbro

Kremlin has no more information on airbase blasts

The St. Basil Cathedral and a Kremlin tower are visible on the Red Square in Moscow.
Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The Kremlin has told journalists it has received no further information on what caused explosions at two separate military air bases in Russia on Monday.

Explosions were reported at military airfields in the Saratov and Ryazan regions of Russia earlier today. Russian state media said a fuel tanker had exploded at one airbase, causing the deaths of three people and injuring several others. At the other airfield, Ukrainian media reported that a possible drone attack had damaged two Tu-95 strategic bombers.

Asked whether President Putin had been informed, and what could be behind the incidents, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he couldn't comment further.

"I don't have any precise information. I have only seen the media reports, but I do not have accurate information and cannot comment on it," he told reporters.

"Of course, the president regularly receives information about everything that happens from all relevant services," he added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian shelling of Donetsk damages kindergarten, houses

Ongoing Russian shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, seen as the epicenter of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, has damaged a kindergarten, residential buildings and an administrative facility, according to a regional official.

The head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram Monday that the town of Kurakhove and village of Gostre had come under fire with "a kindergarten, 4 high-rise buildings and 7 private houses ... damaged." Kyrylenko posted images of damaged buildings alongside the information.

He said Avdiivka had been attacked during the night, as well as the center of Bakhmut, a city that has become a key target for Russian forces looking to advance in Donetsk. There, an administration building, residential building and farm buildings were damaged, Kyrylenko said. 

A Ukrainian serviceman is seen in the trenches in the frontline of Bakhmut in Donetsk, Ukraine on December 04, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Towards Lysychansk in Luhansk, the region neighboring Donetsk, Kyrylenko said "numerous" shells had hit the villages of Torsky and Zarichny. CNBC was unable to verify the information in the report.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia says its preparing retaliatory measures against Western oil price cap

The Kremlin says it is preparing retaliatory measures after Ukraine's Western allies implemented a cap on the price of Russian-origin seaborne oil at $60.

"Decisions are being prepared, but, of course, one thing is obvious here - we will not recognize any ceilings," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Last week, Ukraine's allies in the G-7, Australia and the EU (known as the "Price Cap Coalition" in this case) agreed on the $60 cap on Russian seaborne oil in a bid to curtail Moscow's oil exporting revenues which helps it to finance its ongoing war.

The price cap, which began on Monday, means that third countries will only be able to access services such as insurance, shipping and brokerage from countries within the coalition (i.e the EU and G-7) if they trade Russian oil at or below the cap.

The U.K., U.S. and EU will not make use of the cap as they have already introduced an import ban on Russian oil.

On Monday, Peskov did not detail what form "retaliatory" measures could take. Russia has already lambasted the price cap, saying it would continue to find buyers for its oil and would not supply oil to countries adhering to the price ceiling.

— Holly Ellyatt

Explosions reported at Russian air bases, damaging two bomber aircraft

Explosions have been reported at two Russian military air bases in Russia, with bomber aircraft purportedly damaged in one of the incidents.

Earlier Monday morning, Russian news agency Tass said the explosion happened Monday morning at an airbase near the city of Ryazan to the south-east of Moscow, killing three people and injuring five, citing information from the emergency services.

Russian news agency Ria Novosti said the deaths had been caused when a fuel truck exploded at the airfield.

Separately, Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor in Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs, posted a video on his Telegram channel purportedly showing a blast at the "Engels-2" air base in the Saratov region in which he said two Tu-95 strategic bombers had been damaged.

— Holly Ellyatt

The role of Russia's air force in the war is decreasing, UK says

The number of sorties conducted by Russian tactical combat aircraft over Ukraine in recent months has reduced significantly, according to Britain's Ministry of Defense.

"Russian aircraft now probably conducts tens of missions per day, compared to a high of up to 300 per day in March 2022," the ministry said in its latest intelligence update Monday morning.

It believed Russia had now lost over 60 fixed-wing aircraft in the conflict in Ukraine, likely including an additional Su-24M FENCER fighter-bomber and a Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft last week.

The Sukhoi Su-24M (which has the NATO codename "Fencer") supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft/interdictor of the Russian Air Force. | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

"The decrease in sorties is likely a result of continued high threat from Ukrainian air defences, limitations on the flying hours available to Russian aircraft, and worsening weather," the U.K. said.

"With Russia's ground attack tactics largely reliant on visual identification and unguided munitions, the Russian air force will likely continue a low rate of ground attack operations through the poor winter weather," it added.

— Holly Ellyatt

'We will endure' this winter, President Zelenskyy insists

Locals transfer humanitarian aid across a collapsed bridge near Novopetrivka, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson region, Ukraine, on Nov. 17, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine's President Volodymy Zelenskyy used his nightly address Sunday to call on citizens to unite and support one another through the winter.

"The winter, which will obviously be difficult. But still, it is worth perceiving this winter not as a test, but as time - time that brings us closer to the main thing - to victory. Each of these 90 winter days," he said.

Zelenskyy said Russia "hopes to use winter against us: to make winter cold and hardship part of his terror. We have to do everything to endure this winter, no matter how hard it is. And we will endure. To endure this winter is to defend everything," he added.

Locals transfer humanitarian aid supplies near Novopetrivka, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson region, Ukraine, on Nov. 17, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The president said Russia "still has missiles and an advantage in artillery" but noted that Ukraine has the advantage in terms of its motivation for fighting: "we have something that the occupier does not have and will not have. We defend our home, and that gives us the strongest motivation possible. We fight for freedom, and that always multiplies any force."

"To get through this winter, we have to help each other more than ever and care for each other even more. And please don't ask if you can help, and how. Just help when you see you can."

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine appears to push back on U.S. claim that fighting could be at a 'reduced tempo' over winter

Ukrainian officials have seemingly pushed back against comments by a U.S. official that fighting in the country could be tempered over winter.

On Saturday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said the United States expects to see a "reduced tempo" in the fighting in Ukraine to continue over the next few months before counteroffensives resume in earnest in the spring.

"We're seeing a kind of a reduced tempo already of the conflict ... and we expect that's likely to be what we see in the coming months," Avril Haines told the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Reuters reported. She said both Russia and Ukraine would look to refit and resupply their armies over the winter.

Ukraine appears keen to dispel any idea of a lull in the fighting or loss of momentum in their counteroffensives, however, with its Ministry of Defense posting videos of tanks plowing through muddy, water-logged fields and high morale among its soldiers.

A Ukrainian tank runs on a road near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, on Dec. 2, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Serhii Cherevatyi, the spokesperson of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Eastern Group, said on Sunday that Ukraine is "doing everything to be ready for the winter period of military operations, we are preparing our equipment — we are transferring it to winter operation, we are providing the units with special clothing and ammunition and those means that provide an opportunity to warm up and rest," according to comments on Army Inform, an information agency of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense.

Cherevatyi said that frozen ground enables heavy wheeled and tracked vehicles to advance during offensive or counteroffensive actions. Meanwhile, he said hastily mobilized Russian troops or personnel within the private military company Wagner are unprepared for combat operations in winter in Ukraine.