‘The enemy continues to launch massive air attacks on Ukraine’s capital city.’Video

A swarm of drones damaged a residential building in Ukraine’s capital.CreditCredit…Valentyn Ogirenko/ReutersUkraine’s military said on Friday that it had thwarted another drone swarm targeting Kyiv in the morning, a day after Russia fired one of the largest missile barrages in weeks on towns and cities across Ukraine.

Kyiv, the capital, was one of several cities rocked by explosions on Thursday when Russia unleashed a wave of Iranian-made exploding drones followed by scores of cruise missiles.

Early Friday, the authorities in Kyiv said that Russia had followed the previous day’s missile strikes with seven more drones — all of which were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

“The enemy continues to launch massive air attacks on Ukraine’s capital city,” the Kyiv military administration said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app, adding that the city had “withstood an attack by Iranian-manufactured” Shahed drones.

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said that falling debris had damaged a building but that there were no casualties from the overnight attack. Ukraine’s Air Force said that a total of 16 drones had been launched overnight across the country and that all had been intercepted.

Image

Credit…Valentyn Ogirenko/ReutersUtility crews were still working on Friday to repair the damage from the strikes a day earlier, which caused further power outages amid freezing winter temperatures. Russia’s large volleys of cruise missiles and drones have for the past three months targeted Ukraine’s energy grid, in what military analysts say is a strategy of plunging the country into cold and darkness to lower morale.

Ukrenergo, the national electric utility, said on Friday that the power supply was back at the levels it was before the latest strikes.

Volodymyr Kudrytsky, the head of Ukrenergo, said that Russia’s attempt to shut down the power system had failed but cautioned that there was “significant damage” from the overall attacks in recent months.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine reiterated late Thursday his recent refrain that Russia could be planning more strikes timed to the New Year holiday.

“Perhaps the enemy will try once again to make us celebrate the new year in darkness,” he said in his overnight address. “Perhaps the occupiers are planning to make us suffer with the next strikes at our cities. But no matter what they plan, we know one thing about ourselves: We will endure.”

NATO’s chief argues that giving more weapons to Ukraine is the fastest path to peace talks.Image

Credit…Kenzo Tribouillard/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesNATO’s secretary general is urging increased military support for Ukraine, saying in an interview published on Friday that supplying the country with more weapons and ammunition will chart the quickest path to peace negotiations.

The interview with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general, was published by the German news agency DPA one day after another round of Russian cruise-missile strikes took aim at Ukraine’s power grid, pounding cities and towns around the country. Asked his views about recent Ukrainian attacks on military targets inside Russia, Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that Ukraine had a right to defend itself, especially in the face of strikes on its civilian infrastructure.

“It may sound like a paradox, but military support for Ukraine is the fastest way to peace,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. While most wars end at the negotiating table, he said, the strength of Ukraine’s negotiating position will be determined by the military picture.

“So if you want a negotiated peaceful solution ensuring that Ukraine prevails as an independent democratic state, the best way of achieving that is to provide Ukraine with military support,” he said.

Since Russia began battering Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure with missiles and drones in October, Western allies have provided more advanced air defense weapons to help Ukrainian forces shoot down incoming strikes. But the growing arsenal has not stopped Moscow’s debilitating attacks on energy infrastructure.

Mr. Stoltenberg dodged a question about whether NATO member nations should provide medium-range missiles, saying that conversations were ongoing. But he called on allies to “do more” for Ukraine, emphasizing that it was “not just about” more weapons systems for the country.

“Perhaps even more important is that there is enough ammunition for the systems already in place,” he said. “The need for ammunition and spare parts is enormous.”

His comments came as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine chaired another meeting of his country’s military leadership on Friday, with how to improve air defenses and protect critical infrastructure high on the agenda.

Three officials at the Pentagon said on Thursday that the United States and its allies were working with Ukraine to weave together a range of technology, weapons, tactics and intelligence to help thwart the missile and drone attacks.

Two NASAM air defense systems have been delivered to Ukraine, along with interceptor missiles for Hawk medium-range and Avenger short-range defensive systems, and more than 1,600 Stinger antiaircraft missiles, the officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Visiting Washington last week, Mr. Zelensky accepted an offer of a battery of Patriot missiles, the United States’ most advanced ground-based missile defense system. But it is likely to be several months before the Patriot, which Ukraine has long coveted, is deployed on the Ukrainian battlefield with troops are trained to use it.

There are other weapons that Ukraine wants but has yet to receive.The country’s allies are measuring their continued aid to Kyiv so as to avoid escalating the war or provoking Russia to attack beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Ukraine has asked the United States for long-range missiles called ATACMS, with a range of about 190 miles, but the Biden administration has declined to provide them because it fears that Ukraine could use them to strike targets in Russia. Washington has also declined to provide more advanced drones, out of concern that if they are shot down or crash, Russia could recover them and use their technology.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, said on Friday that American support for Ukraine was unyielding. Despite Russia’s attempts to “extinguish Ukraine’s light,” she said in a video message to the Ukrainian people, “your courage and perseverance have only burned brighter.”

“Your determination strengthens our resolve, and as we approach the new year, I want to assure you that our commitment to Ukraine is ironclad,” Ms. Brink said.

Britain — which has provided Ukraine with anti-air missiles along with anti-aircraft guns, radars and anti-drone technology — said it had given 2.3 billion pounds ($2.67 billion) in military aid to Ukraine in 2022. The country’s Defense Ministry said in a statement issued on Friday that it would maintain that level of funding for the coming year.

Shashank Bengali and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

A call between Xi and Putin highlights their mutual dependence.Image

Credit…Mikhail Kuravlev/Sputnik, via ReutersWhen China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia declared a “no limits” partnership 10 months ago, the pair projected an aura of strength in a direct challenge to the United States and the West.

But as the two leaders met again on Friday via video, they found themselves in positions of greater weakness, encumbered by geopolitical and economic threats to their informal authoritarian alliance. Both now have less room to maneuver, making the relationship all the more important, albeit also a lot more complicated.

Yet they betrayed little shakiness in their situations on Friday, pointing in public statements to beefier bilateral trade and growing military cooperation. In a seeming nod to the strains, Mr. Xi acknowledged the “complicated and consistently changing international situation,” but said China was ready to improve “strategic collaboration” with Russia, according to a transcript of Mr. Xi’s remarks published by state media.

Mr. Putin used the call to reaffirm Russia’s ties with China, saluting “a model of cooperation between major powers in the 21st century,” according to a readout by the Kremlin. He invited Mr. Xi to visit Moscow in the spring and suggested that the two countries could overcome the “unfavorable external situation” together.

“We share the same views on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape, in the face of unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West,” Mr. Putin said.

Russia sees China as the most important partner in what Mr. Putin has framed as an existential showdown with the West, and very word of support from Mr. Xi is amplified in Russian state media as evidence that Mr. Putin is far from alone in taking on Europe and the United States.

Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.

In a battered Ukrainian city, workers are battling winter, not the Russians.With winter setting in, Ukrainian firefighters in the city of Lyman spend their time between emergencies covering up destroyed windows and damaged roofs around the city.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York TimesIn winter, during wartime, any number of obstacles can make life difficult for firefighters in Lyman.

Cell service is so bad in this eastern Ukrainian city that there’s a good chance an emergency call won’t go through at all. Water is sparse, leaving the city’s only aging fire truck with barely enough to fight a blaze. Some streets on its outskirts are impassable because of mines and unexploded munitions.

And then there are the windows.

After the war moved through Lyman like a monthslong destructive wave, damaging and destroying neighborhoods with explosive shells, it left thousands of blown-out windows. So the workers at Emergency Service Department Number 21, Lyman’s single working fire station, are often diverted to an arduous but important task: covering up destroyed windows and damaged roofs as winter sets in.

“It had all started in the winter, and it has come to the winter again,” said Andriy Liakh, 33, an emergency official from a neighboring town who is now working in Lyman. No more than 25 to 30 percent of the buildings in the city of Lyman are totally beyond repair, he estimated, meaning there is a lot of work to be done to preserve the rest.

— Natalia Yermak and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

Critics say a new media law signed by Zelensky could restrict press freedom in Ukraine.Image

Credit…Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA, via ShutterstockPresident Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Thursday signed into law a bill that expands the government’s regulatory power over the news media, a measure that journalist organizations have warned could erode press freedoms in the country.

While some of the law’s more stringent provisions were relaxed in response to criticism, serious concerns about the independence of the regulatory body remained, domestic and international media groups said on Friday, noting that they were still reviewing details of the final 279-page legislation.

The law expands the authority of Ukraine’s state broadcasting regulator, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting, to cover the online and print news media. Previous drafts gave the regulator the power to fine media outlets, revoke their licenses, temporarily block certain online media outlets without a court order and request that social media platforms and search giants like Google remove content that violates the law, the Ukrainian news media reported.

Mr. Zelensky, whose administration has been accused of undermining press freedom in recent years, ordered the drafting of a law increasing media regulation in 2019.

The measure was passed by Ukraine’s Parliament earlier this month, along with a spate of other bills that lawmakers say were intended to help the country meet the European Union’s legislative conditions for membership. The bills included measures to protect the rights of national minorities.

But Ukrainian journalists and international press freedom groups raised alarms about the media bill as it advanced through Parliament, saying it went far beyond what the European Union requires and accusing the government of using the membership obligations as a pretext to seize greater control of the press.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group that champions press freedom around the world, called for Ukrainian lawmakers to drop the bill in September, saying it tightened “government control over information at a time when citizens need it the most.”

The European Federation of Journalists, whose general secretary called a previous draft of the law “worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes,” said on Friday that the legislation remained in contradiction with European press freedom standards because the independence of the state media regulator, whose members are appointed by the president and Parliament, could not be guaranteed.

“Ukraine will demonstrate its European commitment by promoting a free and independent media, not by establishing state control of information,” said the federation’s general secretary, Ricardo Gutiérrez.

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine said there was a lack of transparency as the draft bill was revised, claiming that changes were made in closed-door parliamentary committee meetings and that members of the media and the public were not given sufficient time to respond.

The union warned in a statement issued before Ukraine’s Parliament voted to approve the bill that the legislation would erode the freedoms that “distinguish the social system of Ukraine from the regime of dictatorial Russia.” The union did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday after Mr. Zelensky signed the bill into law.

The main legal department of Ukraine’s Parliament also noted in an analysis published earlier this month that it was given little time to review changes in the bill and that its language gave insufficient consideration to the risk of introducing censorship.

Ukrainian officials have rejected charges that E.U. requirements were being used as a cover to rein in press freedoms. Significant revisions to the draft bill were made in consultation with news media professionals, they said, and argued that sweeping changes to Ukraine’s media legislation were overdue.

“Of course, this bill is even broader than the E.U. directive because we needed to change and modernize our media legislation, which has not been changed for 16 years,” said Yevheniia Kravchuk, the deputy chair of the Parliament’s information policy committee, in a statement after the bill was approved. “It was adopted back when there was no internet at all.”

At least one Ukrainian organization focused on press freedom, the Kyiv-based Institute of Mass Information, said on Thursday that it was largely satisfied with the revised legislation but would monitor its implementation. The organization’s main concern remains ensuring the independence of the media regulator.

“To improve it, we will need to introduce amendments to the Constitution, which is unfortunately not possible during the martial law,” said the executive director, Oksana Romaniuk. “It is one of our main plans for future.”

A Catherine the Great statue is taken down in Odesa.Image

Credit…Oleksandr Gimanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesKYIV, Ukraine — In Russia, the empress Catherine the Great is glorified for expanding the borders of the Russian Empire, an idea not surprisingly very much out of favor in present-day Ukraine.

This year’s Russian invasion has stirred a re-evaluation of monuments to even pre-Communist historical figures associated with Russia. And for many Ukrainians, Catherine the Great, who reigned in the 18th century, is an odious figure for imposing bans on the Ukrainian language and quashing an early independent Cossack state in southern Ukraine.

That has prompted officials in the Black Sea port city of Odesa to dismantle a statue to Catherine the Great with an intention to place it in a museum. The statue, built in 2007 as a replacement for one that was taken down in 1920, was standing on Wednesday but gone on Thursday.

“A truly historic event took place today,” Odesa’s military governor, Maksym Marchenko, wrote on the Telegram messaging app of the monument’s removal.

Residents of Odesa had petitioned to remove the statue as Russian missiles repeatedly struck the city, arguing that “Russian imperial heritage has no place in democratic Ukraine,” Mr. Marchenko wrote.

A petition to President Volodymyr Zelensky calling for the demolition of Catherine’s monument gathered more than 25,000 signatures over the summer, the threshold needed to require the president to respond under Ukrainian law.

Mr. Zelensky referred the matter to the local government in Odesa, but city officials were in no rush to act, given Odesa’s considerable pro-Russian sentiment before the war, much of which evaporated as the city was attacked.

Amid the delays in voting on the monument, the statue was doused with red paint twice and the inscription “Catherine = Putin” appeared on the pedestal. In November, a red cap was put on the head of the monument to the Russian empress, and a rope with a loop for hanging was placed in its hand.

“She has fallen victim to radical changes in public opinion as Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion forces Ukrainians to re-evaluate attitudes toward their country’s imperial Russian past,” Oleksiy Goncharenko, a member of Parliament from Odesa, wrote in an article for the Atlantic Council.

After the statue was repeatedly vandalized, the Odesa City Council voted to move it from a prime spot — on a square in the center of the city near the landmark Potemkin Steps — to the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, in a storage room.

“In this way, we begin a difficult, long, but necessary process of rethinking our own history, freeing ourselves from all Soviet and czarist myths,” the city’s deputy mayor, Oleg Bryndak, said in a video address.

One of those myths is that Catherine the Great founded Odesa. The empress established a Russian port and a new city plan at the site of an already existing town, called Khadjibey, which was founded three centuries earlier, according to the Odesa historian Serhiy Hutsaliuk, who works at the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.

“Catherine herself would be surprised that she founded Odesa,” Mr. Hutsaliuk said.

— Oleksandr Chubko

Dispatch: Though far away, the war is transforming a Turkish resort town.Scenes from Turkish resort town of AntalyaANTALYA, Turkey — The ice cream man grappled with how much the war in Ukraine had changed his neighborhood.

So many Russians had moved to Antalya, a resort city in southern Turkey, that local families were being priced out of their homes. Russian co-working spaces, hair salons and other businesses were using signs in Russian to advertise their services.

And Russians clearly outnumbered Turks in the park where the ice cream vendor worked — pushing their children on the playground swings, doing video conferences with faraway places from the park benches and, thankfully, buying lots of ice cream.

“It is as if one morning we woke up and we no longer heard any Turkish words. It’s all Russian,” said the vendor, Kaan Devran Ozturk, 23. “Turks feel like strangers in their own country.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent huge numbers of people fleeing from both countries, and tens of thousands of them have ended up in this historic city on the so-called Turkish Riviera, where they are settling in as the conflict rages back home.

While Russians have long flocked to Antalya’s beaches for summer vacations, and some Russians lived here year-round, the influx this year has sharply increased their numbers, and their presence in neighborhoods where they were not often seen before.

They have brought lots of much-needed foreign currency into Turkey, helping keep its economy afloat, but their new Turkish neighbors grumble about skyrocketing housing prices and wonder how long these new residents will stay, potentially altering the social fabric.

— Ben Hubbard and Safak Timur

Read More