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Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 680

Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 680

As the war enters is 680th day, these are the main developments.

Here is the situation on Thursday, January 4, 2024.

Fighting

  • Russia and Ukraine exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war in the biggest single release of captives since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Ukrainian officials said that 230 of its prisoners were released while Russia said 248 of its soldiers were returned following mediation by the United Arab Emirates.
  • Russia said Ukraine launched attacks on its Belgorod and Kursk regions, as well as the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow invaded and annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Belgorod regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the situation remained “tense” after 12 missiles were shot down over the region. Some 25 people were killed in an air attack on Belgorod on Saturday. There were no reports of casualties from Wednesday’s attacks.
  • Two people were killed and one injured after 134 Russian strikes hit the Zaporizhia region over the 24 hours to Wednesday, according to Yuriy Malashko, the head of Ukraine’s regional military administration.
  • One person was killed in heavy Russian shelling of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region including its main city.
  • One person was killed and one injured after Russia launched four missiles on the eastern town of Avdiivka, Donetsk regional head Vadym Filashkin said in a Telegram message. The town, not far from Donetsk, which is occupied by the Russians has been the scene of intense fighting for weeks.
  • The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said Russia’s military might have changed its strike strategy in Ukraine to target the country’s defence industry rather than energy infrastructure as it did last winter. “Russian planners almost certainly recognise the growing importance of relative defence industrial capacity as they prepare for a long war,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.
  • Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ukrainian army’s ground forces, said Russian forces were continuing their offensives in Bakhmut and Kupyan on the eastern front with fighting in Bakhmut particularly intense. Syrskyi said Russian forces had suffered losses in Lyman and were regrouping in preparation for a new offensive.
  • Russia said four people were injured after its aircraft accidentally bombed the village of Petropavlovka in southwest Russia on Tuesday. There was also damage to houses, a school and some administrative buildings as well as to vehicles.

Politics and diplomacy

  • The European Union imposed sanctions on Alrosa, the world’s biggest diamond miner, to further squeeze Russian sources of revenue. The company’s CEO, Pavel Alekseevich Marinychev, was also sanctioned. Alrosa accounts for more than 90 percent of all Russian diamond production, according to the EU.
  • Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the country will need more than $37bn in foreign funding this year, and that Kyiv was counting on “stable and timely assistance” from its international partners to help keep its economy going.
  • Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said inspectors had been denied access to parts of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station for two weeks and had yet to receive 2024 maintenance plans for the facility.

Weapons

  • Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Western countries should tighten sanctions against Russia and provide Kyiv with long-range missiles that will enable it to target “launch sites and command centres”.
  • Norway will send two F-16 fighter jets to Denmark so Ukrainian pilots can train to use the US-made aircraft. Ten Norwegian instructors have already been sent to Denmark to help train the pilots.

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