Ukraine Says Russian Missiles Target Kherson

Ukraine said Russia attacks Wednesday included missiles fired at civilian targets in the southern city of Kherson.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported 33 missiles fired at Kherson, which Ukraine recaptured after Russian forces withdrew last month.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military also reported fighting Wednesday around the city of Bakhmut and other parts of the eastern Donbas region.

Oil price cap

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that the country would ban any oil exports to countries that agreed to an oil price cap imposed by Western nations that took effect earlier this month.

According to a presidential decree published on a government portal and the Kremlin website, “The supply of Russian oil and oil products to foreign legal entities and individuals is prohibited if the contracts for these supplies directly or indirectly” are using a price cap.

The decree was presented as a direct response to “actions that are unfriendly and contradictory to international law by the United States and foreign states and international organizations joining them,” Reuters reported.

The oil price cap was agreed to earlier this year by the Group of Seven nations, which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union. It will be enforced by the G-7 nations, the EU and Australia, Reuters reported.

Shortly after the agreement was reached December 2, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said, “This price cap has three objectives: First, it strengthens the effect of our sanctions. Second, it will further diminish Russia’s revenues, and thirdly, at the same time, it will stabilize global energy markets.”

Russia, however, has said the cap will not affect its military campaign in Ukraine and expressed confidence it will find new buyers for its oil products.

Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, said the ban will be in effect from February 1 to July 1.

In his nightly video address on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a meeting of the military command had “established the steps to be taken in the near future.”

“We will continue preparing the armed forces and Ukraine’s security for next year. This will be a decisive year. We understand the risks of winter. We understand what needs to be done in the spring,” he said.

Zelenskyy said he also spoke with the International Monetary Fund “regarding the work of the banking system and our cooperation with the IMF. We must provide even more opportunities for Ukrainians in the coming year and guarantee the strength of our banking and financial systems.”

Retired General James Jones, the former commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, told VOA’s Eurasia service Tuesday that two military takeaways from the past 10 months of war in Ukraine are how well-trained the Ukrainian forces are and how poorly the Russian forces have performed.

“I’m quite sure that Mr. Putin was convinced that this would be a very short war. I think he was convinced that NATO would be somewhat impotent to react to that,” said Jones, a national security adviser to former President Barack Obama. “The ability … to train and equip the Ukrainian army was slow to start with but has now achieved a certain cadence that is much more encouraging.”

“I’m quite convinced that President Putin believed that this would be a very short war, and I think his military probably told him what he wanted to hear, which is what militaries do when dealing with dictators,” he said.

As far as what could happen in 2023, that “remains to be seen,” he said. “I’m hopeful that things will come to a conclusion.”

Jones said the most important thing for NATO and the United States right now is quickly meeting the needs of Ukrainian forces. Later, he added, the alliance members must “make sure that we have a plan that can help Ukraine rebuild itself.”

“Ukraine, I think, is destined to be on the forward edge of the defense of Europe for a long time, depending on what happens in Russia, of course,” Jones said.

VOA’s Eurasia Service contributed to this story. Some material for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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