Live blog | Macron supports Zelensky’s peace plan idea

(ANP / Abaca Press)

‘Russian cruise missiles are running out’

08:40 | The increasing use of Iranian drones indicates that the Russians are running out of precision cruise missiles. So says defense expert Patrick Bolder from The Hague Center for Strategic Studies. Over the weekend, the Russians attacked the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa with drones. The town is now largely without power.

Russia will adjust the grain agreement

08:20 | Russia will adjust the grain agreement for the Black Sea so that more food goes to the poorest countries in Africa and Asia. This is reported by the Russian news agency TASS, which on Monday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.

Since the agreement was signed in July, grain from Ukraine and Russia has been exported via the Black Sea. The agreement was briefly suspended in October, but has since been renewed.

The agreement was reached to allow Ukraine to start exporting grain again after the ships stopped for fear they would be attacked by the Russian navy. Russia can also export grain and fertilizer.

Ukraine is one of the world leaders in the production of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil and is known as the ‘breadbasket of Europe’.

Ukraine cracks down on pro-Russian clerics

08:10 | According to President Zelenskiy, the judiciary is preparing punitive measures against seven high-ranking and pro-Russian clerics. This is part of a tougher approach by a branch of the Orthodox Church with traditional ties to Moscow.

According to an order issued by Ukraine’s Security Council, all seven church officials have had their assets seized, banned from various financial and legal activities and de facto travel bans.

Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians, and competition between the traditionally Moscow-associated branch of the church and an independent church declared after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 is fierce. The Moscow-affiliated church cut ties with the Russian Orthodox Church after its invasion in February, but many Ukrainians remain deeply suspicious of its motives. The Russian Church wholeheartedly supports the invasion.

Pro-Kremlin Blogger: Russian officers are increasingly disaffected with the top

07:45 | Some Russian officers fighting in Ukraine are reportedly unhappy with the top military and President Vladimir Putin for the poor conduct of the war, an influential Russian nationalist blogger said after visiting the conflict zone.

Igor Girkin, a nationalist and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014 and then organized pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, said there was some discontent in the military’s top ranks.

In a scathing 90-minute video analyzing Russia’s conduct of the war, Girkin says the “fish head is completely rotten” and that the Russian military needs reform and an influx of competent people who can lead a successful military campaign.

1.5 million people without power in Odesa

07:30 | A senior Ukrainian presidential adviser has given this quick update on the situation in Odesa after Russian troops over the weekend attacked two power plants in the southern port city, leaving about 1.5 million people without power.

Anton Gerashchenko uploaded a short clip, allegedly from a supermarket in Odesa.

“Many people are still without electricity after yesterday’s Russian attack. The situation remains very difficult,” he tweeted.

Macron supports Zelensky’s peace plan idea

00:20 | French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his full support for a peace between Russia and Ukraine, as envisioned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Macron informed Zelensky in a phone call on Sunday, according to the Elysée. In his daily video message, Zelensky called Macron’s support “terribly important.”

The peace that Zelensky has repeatedly outlined begins with the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. In addition, such a peace would provide for Russian reparations, the legal resolution of war crimes and security guarantees from the West of Ukraine.

In his video message on Sunday evening, Zelensky said the conversation with Macron lasted more than an hour. Both presidents would “coordinate steps” and make preparations to “implement our formula for peace,” Zelensky said.

A week earlier, Macron had said in a TV interview that security guarantees for Russia should be taken into account in peace negotiations. “One of the vital points we have to discuss, as President Putin has always said, is the (Russian) fear that NATO is at the door and could deploy weapons that could threaten Russia,” he said.

Sunday, December 11

Ukraine: Wagner group headquarters hit, killed

22:20 | Ukrainian troops on Saturday attacked a hotel where members of the Russian military mercenary company Wagner Group were stationed, said Governor Serchi Gajdaj of the Russian-occupied Luhansk region. Many of them would be dead.

Gajdaj said in an interview on Ukrainian television that the attack targeted a hotel in the town of Kadiivka, west of the regional capital, also called Luhansk. According to Gajdaj, who could not say exactly how many people were killed, the hotel served as the headquarters of the Warner group in Luhansk. Pictures are circulating on Telegram that would show the hotel that was shot at is in ruins.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the report.

The Wagner Group has been accused of being used to advance Moscow’s foreign ambitions, but the Kremlin denies this. The paramilitary organization opened its first official headquarters in St. Petersburg this month. Founder and owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, a confidant of President Vladimir Putin, has admitted his fighters are active in Ukraine.

Erdogan discusses Ukraine, grain agreement, gas and Syria with Putin

16:40 | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken by telephone with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin about, among other things, Ukraine, the extension of the existing agreement on shipping from Ukrainian ports to Turkey, cooperation on gas projects and the situation in northern Syria.

According to Turkish media, Erdogan has asked the Russians in Syria to put pressure on Kurdish-Syrian militias not to get closer than 30 kilometers from the Turkish border. According to the Turkish leader, it is also in a Russian-Turkish agreement from 2019. Turkey is considering sending troops across the border to enforce this.

Ankara considers the Kurdish-Syrian militias as terrorists and accomplices of the PKK extremist movement, which mainly has bases in northern Iraq. Other powers have found an ally in the Kurdish-Syrian militias in the fight against jihadists in, among other places, Syria.

Erdogan initiated a grain deal that has kept cargo ships carrying agricultural products across the Black Sea from Ukrainian ports out of contention since the summer. They can sail safely through the Bosphorus to world markets.

Erdogan also called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later in the day. He thanked the Turkish leader on Twitter “for providing hundreds of generators to our cities.” The possible extension of the grain corridor was also discussed.

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