The Kremlin confirmed four attacks on Ukrainian targets on Friday as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on a video call.
The “special military operation in Ukraine” is entering its 10th month, although neither leader spoke directly of Ukraine during the public broadcast of their talks.
Russian missile and artillery troops also struck “83 artillery units at firing positions, manpower and military hardware in 102 areas,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told TASS, Russia’s government-owned media.
“The Russian invaders carried out 16 airstrikes, 15 of which hit civilian infrastructure. In particular, the enemy used 8 Shahed-136 UAVs. All of them were shot down,” countered the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (GSAFU) in a Friday post (original message in Ukrainian, translated via Google Translate). “In addition, the enemy launched 17 attacks from MLRS. Civilians died from artillery fire by the Russian occupiers of peaceful settlements.”
GSAFU reported a hospital in Bilovodsk, part of the Luhansk region, was full of wounded Russian service members on Friday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 54 Russian missiles and 11 drone attacks were shot down across the country Thursday night, though some hit targets.
“Our power engineers and repair crews are doing everything to make Ukrainians feel the consequences of the terrorists’ strike as little as possible,” he said in his nightly address to the country. “And I thank everyone who is working to restore energy supply.”
Zelenskyy spoke of power outages in most Ukraine regions, especially in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Kherson, Vinnytsia, and Zakarpattia.
Putin and Xi’s friendly bilateral talk and vow to strengthen their collaboration happened the morning after the Ukrainian president’s address.
According to the Kremlin’s transcription (original Russian message translated via Google Translate), Xi said that he was very glad that the two countries had made their talks on New Year’s Eve a tradition and that business was booming between them.
“The internal potential and special values of bilateral cooperation are increasingly making themselves felt,” he said. “In January-November of this year, our trade turnover exceeded 170 billion US dollars. This is higher than the figure for the whole of last year.”
Although there was no mention of Ukraine or war in the Kremlin’s 1,200-word transcript of the public meeting, Xi did reference an “unambiguous international situation” and maintained China and Russia are ready to build up strategic cooperation as “global partners for the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interests of stability throughout the world.”
As The Dallas Express previously reported, even prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China was lending its support to Putin. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared that Russia had “reasonable security concerns” that the United States and NATO allies needed to take “seriously.”
Despite the seemingly lighthearted chat, both Xi and Putin are facing domestic troubles. While Xi is facing a COVID-19 surge after mounting opposition to its zero-COVID measures forced the authorities to back down, Putin must maintain support among Russian politicians and citizenry alike for a war with Ukraine that seems to be at a stalemate.
“Russia is only driving itself deeper into a dead end,” Zelenskyy had said the night before.
He said Russia’s “status of the biggest terrorist in the world” will come back and haunt the country and its people, and each attack on Ukraine should be considered a war crime worthy of a tribunal.
“And that is exactly what will happen,” Zelenskyy said.
On Friday night, Zelenskyy said Ukrainian air defense could become the most powerful in Europe, guaranteeing safety to the entire continent.
He said getting the power turned on across Ukraine was the main priority, and a strategy has been put in place, but he added that the tactic would take time to show results.
Putin spent part of his Friday thanking and wishing happy holidays to more than 20 foreign leaders, including the heads of Serbia, Cuba, and Vietnam, according to his presidential office.
He concluded his good wishes with a nod to former government leaders Silvio Berlusconi (Italy), Robert Kocharyan (Armenia), Nursultan Nazarbayev (Kazakhstan), Serzh Sargsyan (Armenia), and Gerhard Schröder (Germany).