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У новорічному зверненні Макрон пообіцяв підтримувати Україну до перемоги

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Повітряна тривога в частині України: Кім повідомив про виліт двох груп безпілотників

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Putin Tells Russia: ‘Sanctions War Was Declared on Us’

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address to the nation usually is rather anodyne and backed with a soothing view of a snowy Kremlin. This year, with soldiers in the background, he lashed out at the West and Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine cast a long shadow as Russia entered 2023. Cities curtailed festivities and fireworks. Moscow announced special performances for soldiers’ children featuring the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus. An exiled Russian news outlet unearthed a video of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, now the Ukrainian president despised by the Kremlin, telling jokes on a Russian state television station’s New Year’s show just a decade ago.

Putin, in a nine-minute video shown on TV as each Russian time zone region counted down the final minutes of 2022 on Saturday, denounced the West for aggression and accused the countries of trying to use the conflict in Ukraine to undermine Russia.

“It was a year of difficult, necessary decisions, the most important steps toward gaining full sovereignty of Russia and powerful consolidation of our society,” he said, echoing his repeated contention that Moscow had no choice but to send troops into Ukraine because it threatened Russia’s security.

“The West lied about peace, but was preparing for aggression, and today it admits it openly, no longer embarrassed. And they cynically use Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia,” Putin said. “We have never allowed anyone and will not allow anyone to do this.”

The Kremlin has muzzled any criticism of its actions in Ukraine, shut independent media outlets, and criminalized the spread of any information that differs from the official view — including diverging from calling the campaign a special military operation. But the government has faced increasingly vocal criticism from Russian hardliners who have denounced the president as weak and indecisive and called for ramping up strikes on Ukraine.

‘Sanctions war was declared on us’

Russia has justified the conflict by saying that Ukraine persecuted Russian speakers in the eastern Donbas region, which had been partly under the control of Russian-backed separatists since 2014. Ukraine and the West says these accusations are untrue.

“For years, the Western elites hypocritically assured all of us of their peaceful intentions, including the resolution of the most difficult conflict in the Donbas,” Putin said.

Western countries have imposed wide sanctions against Russia, and many foreign companies pulled out of the country or froze operations after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine.

“This year, a real sanctions war was declared on us. Those who started it expected the complete destruction of our industry, finances, and transport. This did not happen, because together we created a reliable margin of safety,” Putin said.

Year-end celebrations tempered

Despite such reassurances, New Year’s celebrations this year were toned down, with the usual fireworks and concert on Red Square canceled.

Some of Moscow’s elaborate holiday lighting displays made cryptic reference to the conflict. At the entrance to Gorky Park stand large lighted letters of V, Z and O – symbols that the Russian military have used from the first days of the military operation to identify themselves.

“Will it make me a patriot and go to the front against my Slavic brothers? No, it will not,” park visitor Vladimir Ivaniy said.

Moscow also announced plans to hold special pageant performances for the children of soldiers serving in Ukraine.

The Russian news outlet Meduza, declared a foreign agent in Russia and which now operates from Latvia, on Saturday posted a video of Zelenskyy, who was a hugely popular comedian before becoming Ukraine’s president in 2019, performing in a New Year’s Day show on Russian state television in 2013.

Zelenskyy jokes that the inexpensive sparkling wine Sovietskoe Shampanskoye, a popular tipple on New Year’s, is in the record books as a paradox because “the drink exists but the country doesn’t.”

Adding to the irony, the show’s host was Maxim Galkin, a comedian who fled the country in 2022 after criticizing the military operation in Ukraine.

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Mega Millions Lottery Draw Likely to Reach a BillIon-Dollar Pot

Someone is likely to have a very good year in 2023 as the Mega Millions lottery creeps toward the billion-dollar mark, after no one had the winning numbers (1, 3, 6, 44 and 51, plus Mega Ball 7) for Friday’s draw.

The prize for the U.S. game next week will be an estimated $785 million according to a Mega Millions statement.

“On only three previous occasions has the Mega Millions jackpot gone beyond $700 million, “Mega Millions said, “and all three times those rolls continued on past $1 billion.”

The game, however, does offer different ways of winning and players can win by matching only some of the numbers. with payoffs ranging from $2 to $1 million.

The current estimated $785 million is the value of the prize if it is paid through an annuity, with annual checks over 29 years. If a winner takes cash, the next drawing would get them an estimated $395 million before taxes.

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Після російської атаки у Києві немає аварійних відключень – влада

У Києві близько 30% споживачів не мають електроенергії, але це планові відключення, повідомив перший заступник голови Київської міської державної адміністрації Микола Поворозник.

«Все працює в штатному режимі – вода є, тепло є. Є обмеження в подачі електроенергії для близько 30% міста. Але це планові відключення, за графіком», – розповів він в ефірі національного телемарафону.

Він також повідомив оновлені дані щодо постраждалих внаслідок російської атаки – наразі їх 21.

Читайте також: Ракетний удар по Запоріжжю: влада повідомляє про чотирьох поранених, серед них – вагітна жінка та дитина

Росія завдала масованого ракетного удару по Україні напередодні Нового року. Відомо про вибухи в Києві, є руйнування в чотирьох районах міста – Голосіївському, Солом’янському, Печерському та Дніпровському. Також вибухи пролунали у Хмельницькому, Запоріжжі та Миколаєві, є постраждалі.

Москва від початку повномасштабного вторгнення заперечує цілеспрямовану атаку на цивільних, попри наявність свідчень і доказів цього.

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Через російську атаку у Хмельницькому постраждали десять людей – мер

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Despite War, Some Ukrainian Families Reunite for New Year

For millions of Ukrainians, many of them under Russian bombardment and grappling with power and water shortages, New Year’s celebrations will be muted as Russia’s 10-month war rumbles on with no end in sight.

But for some families, it is a chance to reunite, however briefly, after months apart.

At Kyiv’s central railway station on Saturday morning, Mykyta, still in his uniform, gripped a bouquet of pink roses tightly as he waited on platform 9 for his wife Valeriia to arrive from Poland. He hadn’t seen her in six months.

“It actually was really tough, you know, to wait so long,” he told The Associated Press after hugging and kissing Valeriia.

Nearby, another soldier, Vasyl Khomko, 42, joyously met his daughter Yana and wife Galyna who have been living in Slovakia because of the war, but they returned to Kyiv to spend New Year’s Eve together.

The mood contrasted starkly with that from 10 months ago when families were torn apart by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Back in February, fathers, husbands and sons had to stay behind as their wives, mothers and daughters boarded trains with small children seeking safety outside the country. Scenes of tearful goodbyes seared television screens and front pages of newspapers across the world.

But on the last day of the year marked by the brutal war, many returned to the capital to spend New Year’s Eve with their loved ones.

As Russian attacks continue to target power supplies leaving millions without electricity, no big celebrations are expected, and a curfew will be in place as the clock rings in the new year. But for most Ukrainians being together with their families is already a luxury.

Valeriia first sought refuge from the conflict in Spain but later moved to Poland. Asked what their New Year’s Eve plans were, she answered simply: “Just to be together.”

The couple declined not to share their family name for security reasons as Mykyta has been fighting on the front lines in both southern and eastern Ukraine.

On platform 8, another young couple reunited. University student Arseniia Kolomiiets, 23, has been living in Italy. Despite longing to see her boyfriend Daniel Liashchenko in Kyiv, Kolomiiets was scared of Russian missiles and drone attacks.

“He was like, ‘Please come! Please come! Please come!’” she recalled. “I decided that (being) scared is one part but being with beloved ones on the holidays is the most important part. So, I overcome my fear and here I am now.”

Although they have no electricity at home, Liashchenko said they were looking forward to welcoming 2023 together with his family and their cat.

In an attempt to ensure residents have light during their celebrations, the regional government of Ukraine’s southwestern Odesa province is planning to limit the work of the most energy-intensive industries on Dec. 31 and Jan 1.

Regional head Maksym Marchenko made the announcement on Friday via Telegram and said that power engineers in the province had used all means possible to “eliminate the consequences” of Russia’s barrage of attacks on Ukraine on Thursday and reinstate the power supply.

In Kyiv, recent attacks have left many on edge, unsure about whether the skies will be peaceful on the last day of the year.

“We are hoping there will be no surprises today,” said Natalya Kontonenko who had traveled from Finland. It was the first time she had seen her brother Serhii Kontonenko since the full-scale invasion began on February 24. Serhii and other relatives traveled from Mykolaiv to Kyiv to meet Natalya.

“We are not concerned about the electricity, because we are together and that I think is the most important,” he said.

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Відзначатимуть свята вдома. Омбудсмен повідомив про звільнення з полону 140 українців

Дмитро Лубінець каже, що додому повертаються поранені, захисники Маріуполя, острова Зміїний, добровольці ТРо зі Славутича, а також військові з Бахмутського напрямку

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UN Chief Appeals for Peace in the New Year

As the old year gives way to the new, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a heartfelt appeal to the citizens of the world to put peace at the center of their words and actions in 2023.

Every new year is a moment of rebirth and hope. It is a time for reflection and for resolve to make things better in the year to come than they were in the year gone by.

In reviewing the events of 2022, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres considered the difficulties and the heartbreak of the past year.  In his New Year’s message, he said millions of people around the world have literally swept out the ashes of the old year.

He said they are preparing for a new dawn and a brighter day in the year ahead.

“From Ukraine to Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond, people left the ruins of their homes and lives in search of something better.  Around the world, one hundred million people were on the move, fleeing wars, wildfires, droughts, poverty, and hunger.  In 2023, we need peace, now more than ever,” said Guterres.

He said conflicts can end and peace can be assured through dialogue.  He said a more sustainable world can be achieved by making peace with nature and climate.  He appeals for peace in the home, so women and girls can live in dignity and safety.

Guterres said peace on the streets and communities, peace in places of worship, and freedom from hate speech and abuse online depend upon the full protection of human rights.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Tuerk echoes those sentiments. He said the shape of the New Year will be determined by the individual and collective actions people take.

His hope for the next year, he said, is for people to lead their lives with kindness, empathy, unity, and protection of human rights.

“We must ensure women’s rights, for example, are respected at home and in public, that women and girls have full equality and freedom from discrimination.  We must open our children’s eyes to the mistakes of the past, we can inspire them to write a story of hope and unity and instill in them a commitment to creating a better world,” said Guterres.

The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be celebrated in 2023.  The core message inherent in this document – that there cannot be progress and peace without human rights – is as relevant now as it was in 1948.

U.N. rights chief Tuerk appeals to all nations and peoples to strive to make the world more dignified, to create a world where everyone’s rights are respected.

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Highlights from the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died. Below are highlights from his life.

April 16, 1927: Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Germany, youngest of three children to Joseph and Maria Ratzinger.

1943-45: Assistant in Germany’s anti-aircraft defense and infantry soldier; imprisoned in 1945 in American POW camp in Neu-Ulm.

June 29, 1951: Ordained along with brother Georg Ratzinger in Freising.

1969-77: Professor at University of Regensburg.

March 25, 1977: Named archbishop of Munich and Freising.

June 27, 1977: Made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI.

Nov. 25, 1981: Named prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II; takes up post in March 1982.

April 2, 2005: Pope John Paul II dies.

April 8, 2005: As dean of the College of Cardinals, Ratzinger presides over John Paul’s funeral.

April 19, 2005: Elected 265th pope in one of the fastest conclaves in history. Choosing name Benedict XVI, he says he is merely a “simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”

April 24, 2005: Installed as pope with Mass.

Aug. 18-21, 2005: First foreign trip, to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.

Sept. 24, 2005: Meets with dissident theologian Hans Kung at papal summer residence.

Dec. 25, 2005: First encyclical, God is Love, signed. Released Jan. 25, 2006.

May 28, 2006: During trip to Poland, visits Auschwitz concentration camp.

Sept. 12, 2006: During visit to Germany, delivers speech at University of Regensburg that enrages Muslims; quoting a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith.”

April 16, 2007: First volume of Jesus of Nazareth completed on his 80th birthday. Released April 13.

May 27, 2007: Signs letter to China’s Catholics, urging them to unite under his authority. Published June 30.

July 7, 2007: Removes restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass in major gesture to traditional Catholics.

April 20, 2008: During visit to United States, prays for victims of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks at ground zero.

July 19, 2008: During visit to Australia for World Youth Day, meets with victims of priestly sex abuse and during a Mass apologizes for their suffering.

Jan. 21, 2009: Lifts excommunication of Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson and three other ultra-traditionalist bishops of Society of St. Pius X, igniting outrage. Decree released Jan. 24.

March 10, 2009: Acknowledges Vatican mistakes in Williamson affair, says Vatican must make better use of Internet to prevent future controversies. Letter released March 12.

March 17, 2009: En route to Cameroon, tells reporters aboard papal plane that condoms are not the solution to AIDS and can make problem worse, prompting widespread criticism.

May 11, 2009: During visit to the Holy Land, lays wreath at Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, says Holocaust victims “lost their lives but they will never lose their names.”

June 29, 2009: Third encyclical, Charity in Truth, signed. Released July 7, 2009.

July 17, 2009: Breaks right wrist in late-night fall at summer vacation home.

Oct. 20, 2009: Vatican announces pope is making it easier for Anglicans to convert en masse to Catholicism.

March 19, 2010: Rebukes Irish bishops for “grave errors of judgment” in handling clerical sex abuse but makes no mention of Vatican responsibility in letter to Irish faithful. Released March 20.

May 1, 2010: Orders major overhaul of Legion of Christ after Vatican investigation determines founder was a fraud.

Sept. 16-19, 2010: During first state visit by a pope to Britain, meets with Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and beatifies Anglican convert John Henry Newman.

Nov. 20, 2010: Revises controversial condom-AIDS comments in book and says male prostitutes who use condoms may be taking a first step toward a more responsible sexuality.

March 2, 2011: Issues sweeping exoneration of Jews for the death of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth-Part II. Book released March 10.

May 1, 2011: Beatifies John Paul II before 1.5 million people.

June 28, 2011: Tweets for the first time, announcing launch of Vatican news information portal.

Oct. 6, 2012: Pope’s former butler is convicted on charges he stole the pontiff’s private letters and leaked them to a journalist.

Feb. 11, 2013: Reveals in Latin that he is stepping down Feb. 28 during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, surprising even his closest collaborators.

Feb. 28, 2013: Departs Vatican City in a helicopter bound for Castel Gandolfo, where he begins his final journey as a “simple pilgrim.”

March 23, 2013: Receives Pope Francis for lunch at Castel Gandolfo; the two men pray side by side and Francis insists “We are brothers.”

April 28, 2014: Joins Francis on altar to canonize St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, the first time a reigning and retired pope celebrate Mass together.

April 11, 2019: In an essay, blames the clergy sex abuse scandal on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and an absence of God.

January 2020: Contributes to a book reaffirming celibacy for priests at a time when Francis was considering an exception, sparking calls for rules governing future “popes emeritus.”

June 18, 2020: Travels to Germany to visit his ailing brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who dies two weeks later, on July 1.

July 16, 2021: Has his signature relaxation of restrictions on celebration of old Latin Mass reversed by Pope Francis.

Jan. 21, 2022: Is faulted for his handling of four sex abuse cases while bishop of Munich in the 1970s and 1980s by independent report commissioned by German church.

Feb. 8, 2022: Asks forgiveness for any “grievous faults” in handling of Munich priests, but denies personal or specific wrongdoing.

Dec. 28, 2022: Pope Francis announces Benedict is “very ill,” asks for special prayers and visits him at his home.

Dec. 31, 2022: Benedict dies at 9:34 a.m. at his home in the Vatican Gardens at age 95.

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Nuremberg Prosecutor to Receive Congressional Gold Medal

Congress has signed off on the Congressional Gold Medal for the chief prosecutor in what was regarded as “the biggest murder trial in history.”

South Floridian Benjamin Ferencz was 27 years old in 1948 when he had secured enough evidence to prosecute 22 members of Nazi killing squads responsible for the deaths of more than 1 million Jewish, Roma, Soviet, and others in shooting massacres in occupied Soviet territory.

“Mr. Ferencz is a hero of the Jewish community who has dedicated decades of his life to combatting antisemitism, prosecuting those who act on their hatred, and keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive,” said U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents most of Palm Beach County and co-led the bipartisan effort. “It is a privilege to recognize his remarkable, lifelong commitment to justice, peace, and human dignity with the Congressional Gold Medal — Congress’s highest expression of honor.”

The award was included in the $1.66 trillion government funding bill that provides assistance for victims of natural disasters, funding for those struggling with drug addiction, and sends emergency aid to Ukraine, approved hours before a midnight deadline Friday to avoid a partial shutdown of federal agencies.

Ferencz was born on March 11, 1920, in Transylvania, in what is now Hungary. That same year his family fled to “Hell’s Kitchen” on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to avoid the persecution of Hungarian Jews by Romania.

“The neighborhood was known for having one of the highest crime rates in America. I decided early on that if my choices were to either be a crook or be a lawyer, I would choose law,” he once said in a newspaper interview.

In 1940 he received a scholarship to Harvard Law School. With the onset of World War II, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1943, eventually transferring to a newly created War Crimes Branch of the Army to gather evidence that could be used in court.

Ferencz documented Nazi Germany’s crimes and visited concentration camps as they were liberated.

In 1946, the United States government recruited him to work on the Nuremberg tribunals.

In his role as a war crimes investigator, Ferencz visited concentration camps as they were liberated to gather evidence of atrocities carried out by the Nazis. They kept death registries, and Ferencz was assigned to collect these registries which contained victims’ names.

He became the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg’s Einsatzgruppen Trial, where he tried Nazi defendants for perpetrating the worst crimes against humanity. Einsatzgruppen was the ninth of 12 trials held by the U.S. government in occupied Germany.

“The defendants were commanders and officers of special SS groups known as Einsatzgruppen-established for the specific purpose of massacring human beings because they were Jews, or because they were for some other reason regarded as inferior peoples,” he said in his opening remarks presented before the trial.

The court found 20 defendants guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and two guilty of a lesser charge. Fourteen defendants were sentenced to death, more than in any other of the Nuremberg proceedings.

In the decades since the Nuremberg Trials, Ferencz has dedicated his life to ending war and promoting justice.

“I fought for compensation for victims and survivors of the Holocaust, the return of stolen assets, and other forms of restitution for those who had suffered at the hands of the Nazis,” he said in a newspaper interview earlier this year.

And since the 1970s, he contributed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court and to the recognition of aggression as an international crime.

In April, right after his 102nd birthday, in an interview with the Florida Jewish Journal, Ferencz said when he publicly presents his life story, he always tells his audience, “There are three important lessons I wish to transmit: One, never give up, Two, never give up, and three, never give up.”

Images the Delray Beach resident saw during the Holocaust are still vivid, he told the newspaper.

“Camps like Buchenwald, Mauthausen, and Dachau are vividly imprinted in my mind’s eye. Even today, when I close my eyes, I witness a deadly vision I can never forget,” he said.

He was honored by Florida’s Palm Beach County commissioners last year, who declared Nov. 5, 2021, as “Benjamin Ferencz Law Not War Day,” a shout-out to his motto: “Law. Not War.”

And in April, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis awarded him the governor’s medal of freedom.

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В Україні скасували підвищення тарифів на воду з 1 січня

Національна комісія, що здійснює державне регулювання у сферах енергетики та комунальних послуг (НКРЕКП), скасувала рішення щодо підвищення тарифів на водопостачання з 1 січня 2023 року на 10-30%, йдеться в рішенні, котре було схвалене 30 грудня.

Відомо також, що проєкт постанови направлений на доопрацювання.

Голова НКРЕКП Костянтин Ущаповський зазначив, що під час ухвалення рішення 27 грудня члени комісії по-різному зрозуміли зміст постанови та «голосували за різні проекти рішення».

«Крім того, рішення, запропоноване з голосу, суттєво відрізняється від проєктів, які були оприлюднені на сайті. Тому при їх оформленні виникли непорозуміння щодо розмірів та структури тарифів. Тому пропоную направити проекти рішень про встановлення тарифів на централізоване водопостачання та водовідведення на доопрацювання», – сказав він.

У травні уряд схвалив законопроєкти, які пропонують ввести на період воєнного стану та 6 місяців після його завершення мораторій на підвищення тарифів на тепло та гарячу воду, а також на газ та його розподіл для усіх категорій споживачів.

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Трагедії і звитяга: 2022-й на Донбасі у фото

Для Донбасу велике вторгення Росії в лютому 2022-го стало лише черговим етапом війни. Агресія Росії розпочалась там ще навесні 2014-го року. 

У 2022-му Кремль заявив, що хоче захопити усю територію Донецької та Луганської областей. Станом на кінець року Україна контролює значну частину Донецької області й продовжує звільняти Луганську область. Подивіться, як минув цей рік для жителів Донбасу. 


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Енергетики розповіли, скільки будинків у Києві й досі не підпадають під відключення світла

У столиці й досі є близько 300 будинків, для яких неможливо передбачити відключення електроенергії через технічні особливості

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Pioneering US Television Journalist Barbara Walters Dies at 93

Barbara Walters, one of the most visible women on U.S. television as the first female anchor on an evening news broadcast and one of TV’s most prominent interviewers, has died at age 93, her longtime ABC home network said on Friday.

Walters, who created the popular ABC women’s talk show The View in 1997, died Friday at her home in New York, Robert Iger, chief executive of ABC’s corporate parent, the Walt Disney Co., said on Twitter.

In a broadcast career spanning five decades, Walters interviewed an array of world leaders, including Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and every U.S. president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon.

She earned 12 Emmy awards, 11 of those while at ABC News, the network said.

Walters began her journalism career on NBC’s The Today Show in the 1960s as a writer and segment producer. She made broadcast history as the first woman co-anchor on a U.S. evening newscast, opposite Harry Reasoner.

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Роналду до 2025 року гратиме за саудівський клуб «Аль-Наср»

ЗМІ оцінюють контракт Роналду в понад 200 мільйонів доларів. Саме стільки, як припускають, він зароблятиме за рік у саудівському клубі

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Конгрес США оприлюднив податкові декларації Трампа

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США стурбовані зв’язками Китаю із Росією – Держдепартамент

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What Americans Googled Most in 2022

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Ukraine Facing ‘Tough’ Enemy in Battle for Key City

Behind the frontline near Kreminna, a strategically located Russian-controlled city in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv’s troops say they are facing a tough enemy.

“We fight them every day, in any weather. We attack in the direction of Kreminna, but they are not easy to defeat,” said a 24-year-old Ukrainian soldier who goes by the call sign “Kulak” or “Fist.”

“They are good, they are tough,” he told Agence France-Presse in Yampil, a village some 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Kreminna and recaptured by Ukrainian forces in late September.

The city in the eastern Luhansk region — which Moscow claimed to have annexed along with three other Ukrainian regions — has been the scene of intense fighting in recent days.

“We had some successes on the Ukrainian side, but nothing huge. The enemy is not giving up,” Kulak said with a smile.

For the past few days, the region’s governor, Serhiy Gaidai, has been posting encouraging — if slightly contradictory — messages on social media.

On Thursday, he wrote that Ukraine’s troops advanced 2.5 kilometers in the direction of Kreminna in a week.

A day earlier, he said Russians had sent reinforcements to the area, while adding that the city could be retaken early next year.

According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces “appear to be preparing for a decisive effort” in the Luhansk region.

‘Get it over with’

Yampil looks like a hive of wartime activity.

Military vehicles crisscross the main street of this largely destroyed village. There are nearly as many soldiers as there are civilians.

In a field behind several half-abandoned houses, soldiers are busy keeping two tanks — nicknamed Natalya and Salvador — in fighting shape. The tanks were captured during the Russian army’s retreat.

“If we liberate Kreminna, we will cut off the Russians’ supply route in Rubizhne, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk,” said one of the soldiers, Vlad, referring to other occupied towns in the region.

“We don’t want the situation to be put on ice. We want to push them back, get it over with,” said Vlad, who hails from Kyiv.

‘Nowhere better than home’

Although Yampil was liberated by Ukrainian forces during a sweeping counteroffensive in the fall, it is still within reach of Russian artillery.

A few kilometers up north, battles are raging in the village of Torske, and the shelling has intensified in recent days.

“It’s more or less fine. It would be better if it weren’t for these deafening noises,” said Olga, a 69-year-old retired teacher, declining to give her last name.

Every day, she meets with other residents of Yampil outside the only operating store.

The convenience store is both a collection point for humanitarian aid and a place to gather for a chat.

Despite the cold, they sit around a table in front of the store, talking and arguing as military vehicles drive by.

“We come here to talk; it’s our living room,” Olga said, smiling while a woman sitting next to her lamented the power cuts and lack of aid in the village.

“They don’t care about us!” she said.

Humanitarian aid dominates conversations here.

Not far away, an 84-year-old woman wearing a blue head scarf bursts into tears as she points to the people gathered round the table.

“When help arrives, they take everything, they don’t share anything. Why?” she asked tearfully, standing in front of her heavily damaged home.

But local official Yulia Rybalko insists that “nobody is starving” in Yampil.

She said she organizes the distribution of food, clothing and firewood delivered by NGOs.

Only some 600 civilians remain in the village that used to have a population of 2,500 people before Russia invaded on February 24.

But according to Olga, the former math teacher, many of those who leave choose to eventually return.

“Nowhere is better than home,” she said.