(Reuters) – Russia carried out its second major round of missile attacks on Ukraine in three days, Ukrainian officials said, with explosions reported throughout the country on New Year’s Eve.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted his annual New Year’s address to rallying the Russian people behind his troops fighting in Ukraine and pledging victory over Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” and a West supposedly intent on “destroying Russia”.
* Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said victory for Russia over Ukraine was “inevitable” as he hailed Russian soldiers’ heroism in a New Year’s video message.
* Russia and Ukraine said they had freed more than 200 captured soldiers, the latest prisoner exchange between the two sides in the 10-month-old conflict.
* “I would really like this year to be over”, said 35-year-old Kyiv resident Oksana Mozorenko as 2022 came to an end, though she said her family had put up a Christmas tree and bought presents to make it “a real holiday”.
* Russia shelled Ukrainian towns across a long stretch of the frontline from north to south, Ukrainian officials said on Friday, a day after Moscow fired dozens of missiles in its latest barrage against critical infrastructure.
* Ukrainian forces are holding their positions against Russian troops in the eastern Donbas region and making small advances in some areas, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday.
* Russia’s Defence Ministry on Friday described a barrage of missiles it fired on Thursday as a “massive strike” against Ukraine’s energy and military-industrial infrastructure using high-precision weapons.
* In a video conference call, Russian President Vladimir Putin told China’s Xi Jinping on Friday that he aimed to deepen military cooperation with Beijing and that he expected the Chinese president to visit Russia in spring 2023.
* Xi told Putin the road to peace talks on Ukraine would not be smooth and China would continue to uphold its “objective and fair stance” on the issue, Chinese state media said. Their readout did not mention a state visit or military cooperation.
* NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on NATO member states to supply more weapons to Ukraine, according to an interview.
* The rouble soared in its final session of a volatile year on Friday, but remained on course for hefty losses in December, after fears over the impact of a Western oil price cap on Russia’s export revenues dominated this month’s trading.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)