Fri, 08 Dec 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict. Follow FRANCE 24's live coverage of the day's developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are in Paris time (GMT+1).

This live blog is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage on the war in Ukraine, please click here.

05:00am: Ukraine war dominates Nobel year again

From NATO secretary general to the Ukrainian president, the war in Ukraine dominates the names known so far to have been submitted by Tuesday's deadline for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.

The list of nominees submitted to the committee is kept secret for at least 50 years, in line with Nobel statutes.

Lawmaker Christian Tybring-Gjedde, from Norway's populist party, hinted on Facebook shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24 that he would nominate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Others known to have been nominated are jailed Putin opponents -- anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who was the victim of a poisoning attack, and journalist and political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who claims to have survived two poisonings.

10:17pm: Biden says 'no' to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

President Joe Biden said Monday he will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help its war against Russian invaders.

"No," he said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favour of sending the jets, which Ukraine's leaders have said are at the top of their latest weapons wish list.

10:14pm: Eastern Ukraine's Vugledar 'heavily fought for'

Vugledar in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region is being "heavily fought for", noted FRANCE 24's Emmanuelle Chaze, reporting from Kyiv. "Russia is claiming that it has almost won [...] the town; it is also part of a disinformation campaign [...] to try and demoralise Ukrainian troops there. What we know are the heavy losses on both sides."

9:31pm: Croatia's president criticises tank deliveries to Ukraine

NATO-member Croatia's president on Monday criticized Western nations for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons in its campaign against invading Russian forces, saying those arms deliveries will only prolong the war.

Zoran Milanovic told reporters in the Croatian capital that it's "mad" to believe that Russia can be defeated in a conventional war.

"I am against sending any lethal arms there," Milanovic said. "It prolongs the war."

7:44pm: Macron says fighter jets for Ukraine 'not excluded'

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict.

"Nothing is excluded in principle," Macron said after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when asked about the possibility of sending jets to Kyiv as it battles Russia's invasion.

But Macron set out a series of "criteria" before making any decision, as Ukraine steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West just days after its allies pledged to deliver tanks. These included that Ukraine must first make the request, that any arms would "not be escalatory" and that they would "not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort". Macron added that any arms delivery "must not weaken the capacity of the French armed forces.

6:16pm: Norway to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine 'as soon as possible'

Norway will send part of its fleet of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine "as soon as possible", indicating perhaps late March, its defence minister said Monday.

Norway was among several European countries that promised last week to deliver the tanks long sought by Ukraine in its battle against Russian forces, after Berlin gave its blessing despite fears of retaliation by Moscow.

The country has 36 Leopard 2 tanks, but has not said how many it will provide to Kyiv.

"We haven't yet determined the number," Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram told AFP

6:03pm: Ukraine officials, MPs banned from travelling abroad

The Ukrainian government has banned senior public servants and lawmakers including women from travelling abroad during the war with Russia.

Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for Ukraine's border guard service, told AFP on Monday that the measure -- adopted last week - had entered force. "They can now only leave as part of a work mission," he said.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year, Ukrainian men of fighting age were ordered to remain in the country barring a few exceptions

4:45pm: British tanks to arrive on Ukraine front lines 'this side of summer', defence minister says

Tanks donated by Britain to Ukraine will be on the front line before summer, defence minister Ben Wallace said on Monday, without giving an exact timetable. Asked in parliament when the 14 Challenger tanks it has agreed to supply would be deployed onto the battlefield, Wallace said: "It'll be this side of the summer, or May - it'll be probably towards Easter time."

He said security reasons prevented him from setting out the timetable of training for Ukrainian forces on using the tanks, but that it would begin with instruction on operation of individual vehicles before progressing to how to fight in formation.

4:23pm: France, Australia agree to cooperate to produce artillery for Ukraine

France Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu on Monday announced that France and Australia have forged a deal to manufacture "several thousands" of 155-millimetre shells to help Ukraine.

Lecornu was speaking after meeting with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles, the first joint high-level talks since Canberra ditched a defence accord with Paris in favour of a tie-up with Britain and the United States two years ago.

3:30pm: Iran summons Ukraine envoy over top aide's drone strike remarks

Tehran on Monday summoned a Ukrainian diplomat to protest "biased" remarks by a presidential aide in Kyiv over a recent drone strike in Iran, the Islamic republic's foreign ministry said.

Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, linked in a tweet on Sunday Iran's support for Russia's invasion of his country with the night-time strike on a military site.

"Explosive night in Iran -- drone and missile production, oil refineries," he said. "War logic [...] bills the authors and accomplices strictly".

"Ukraine did warn you," Podoliak added

2:07pm: Zelensky meets Danish PM on southern Ukraine trip

President Volodymyr Zelensky met Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during a trip to the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Monday.

Video footage posted online by Zelensky's office showed the president greeting Frederiksen with a handshake on a snowy street before entering a hospital where they met soldiers wounded in Russia's invasion.

"It is important for our warriors to be able to undergo not only physical, but also psychological rehabilitation," Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "I am grateful to all the medical workers who care about the health of our defenders. I wish them a speedy recovery!"

Zelensky's office gave no immediate details of his discussions with Frederiksen.

1:33pm: Ukrainians to get millions of LED light bulbs to ease energy shortfall

Ukrainians were urged on Monday to swap old light bulbs for free energy-efficient LED bulbs under a scheme intended to ease an energy shortfall caused by Russian attacks.

Launching a programme backed by the EU and aimed at replacing 50 million light bulbs, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said all adults would be able to exchange five incandescent light bulbs for five LED bulbs at post offices.

The goal is in the next few months to reduce by a quarter the energy deficit caused by Russian missile and drone strikes on power infrastructure that have frequently left millions of Ukrainians without light, water or heating.

1:21pm: Finland will stick with Sweden in NATO process despite Turkish rejection

Finland is maintaining its plan to join NATO at the same time as Nordic neighbour Sweden, and hopes to do so no later than July, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Monday.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan signalled on Sunday that Ankara could agree to Finland joining NATO ahead of Sweden, amid growing tensions with Stockholm, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday made similar statements.

"Our strong wish is still to join NATO together with Sweden," Haavisto told a news conference in Helsinki.

Last week, Turkey suspended NATO talks with Sweden and Finland over protests in Stockholm that included the burning of a Koran.

12:25pm: More Russian forces moved to Kursk region on Ukraine border, governor says

Russia has moved additional forces and equipment to the Kursk region on the border with Ukraine to protect the frontier and ensure security, regional governor Roman Starovoit said on Monday, according to Interfax news agency.

Local authorities say that the region has repeatedly been subjected to Ukrainian shelling since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago.

Some of Russia's troops entered from the Kursk region, although the areas of northeastern Ukraine that they seized have since been retaken by Kyiv's forces.

Starovoit told a meeting of the regional government that a solid contingent of personnel from the armed forces, border guards and law enforcement agencies had already been formed in Kursk, but that "it is necessary to provide comprehensive support for the reception, deployment and arrangement of additional forces".

12:20pm: Russia claims advances near eastern Ukraine's Vugledar

A Moscow proxy official said Monday that Russian forces were advancing near Vugledar, a town in the eastern Donetsk region, which is the epicentre of fighting in Ukraine, but Kyiv denied the claim.

"Our units continue advancing in the direction of Vugledar," said Denis Pushilin, the Kremlin-appointed leader of the Donetsk region. "Now we can say that units have established positions in the eastern part of Vugledar, and work is also being carried out in the vicinity," he said on Russian television.

But a Ukrainian military spokesman in charge of the area said that Russia's attempted attacks were not successful.

12:12pm: Russian shelling kills five in fierce eastern Ukraine combat

Russian shelling killed at least five people and wounded 13 others during the previous 24 hours, Ukrainian authorities said Monday, as the Kremlin's and Kyiv's forces remained locked in combat in eastern Ukraine ahead of renewed military pushes that are expected when the weather improves.

The casualties included a woman who was killed and three others who were wounded by the Russian shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city in the country's northeast, according to regional Gov. Oleh Syniyehubov.

Moscow's troops seized large areas of the northeastern Kharkiv region in the months following its invasion of its neighbor last February. But Ukrainian counteroffensives that began in August snatched back Russian-occupied territory, most notably in Kharkiv

9:55am: Kyiv calls International Olympic Committee 'promoter of war' over Russian athletes controversy

Ukrainian Presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak on Monday called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a "promoter of war" after the sports body said it was considering ways for Russian athletes to compete.

"(The) IOC is a promoter of war, murder and destruction. The IOC watches with pleasure Russia destroying Ukraine and then offers Russia a platform to promote genocide and encourages their further killings. Obviously Russian money that buys Olympic hypocrisy doesn't have a smell of Ukrainian blood," Podolyak said on Twitter.

9:12am: Russian company offers over $70,000 for first soldier who destroys Western tanks in Ukraine

Russian company Fores - a Urals-based firm which makes proppants for the energy industry - said it will offer five million roubles ($72,000) in cash to the first soldier who captures or destroys Western-made tanks in Ukraine, after the Kremlin vowed Russian forces would wipe out any Western tanks shipped to Ukraine.

The company said it will pay five million roubles to the first Russian soldier to destroy one of the tanks, and 500,000 roubles ($7,200) for all subsequent attacks. Echoing language used by Russian officials and pro-war state TV hosts, Fores said NATO was pumping Ukraine with an "unlimited" amount of arms and escalating the conflict.

It also said it would pay a 15-million rouble ($215,000) bounty on Western-made fighter jets, should they ever be delivered to Ukraine.

6:42am: NATO chief asks South Korea to 'step up' military support for Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg asked South Korea on Monday to "step up" military support for Ukraine, suggesting it reconsider its policy of not exporting weapons to countries in conflict.

In Seoul on the first leg of his Asia trip, Stoltenberg met top South Korean officials Sunday, and on Monday urged Seoul to do more to help Kyiv, saying there was an "urgent need for more ammunition". He pointed to countries like Germany and Norway that had "long-standing policies not to export weapons to countries in conflict" which they revised after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February last year.

"If we believe in freedom, democracy, if we don't want autocracy and tyranny to win then they need weapons," he said, speaking at the Chey Institute in Seoul.

South Korea is an increasingly important arms exporter globally and has recently signed deals to sell hundreds of tanks to European countries, including NATO-member Poland. But South Korean law bans the export of weapons to countries in active conflict, which Seoul has said makes it difficult to provide arms directly to Kyiv, although it has provided non-lethal and humanitarian assistance.

4:28am: Russian shelling of southern city of Kherson leaves at least three dead

Russian shelling of Ukraine's southern city of Kherson left at least three people dead on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

"Today, the Russian army has been shelling Kherson atrociously all day," Zelensky said in his evening address. "Two women, nurses, were wounded in the hospital. As of now, there are reports of six wounded and three dead."

The front in southern Ukraine has been considerably quieter recently than in the east, with Moscow withdrawing from Kherson city in November last year. But the key city and regional capital is still subject to frequent shelling.

2:35am: Russian strikes eastern Kharkiv city destroying residential building

In eastern Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, the governor of the regional military administration said a Russian strike hit "a four-storey residential building".

The victims included an elderly woman and the "building was partially destroyed," said regional governor, Oleh Synehubov, on Telegram.

In the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine, where fighting intensified in recent days after several months of a stagnant front, Moscow-appointed officials said Kyiv struck a railway bridge, killing four people.

Ukraine on Sunday carried out an "attack from a HIMARS multiple rocket launcher on a railway bridge across the Molochnaya river", the Russian-installed head of the region, Yevgeny Balitsky, wrote on social media. "Four people from the railways brigade were killed, five were injured," Balitsky added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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