Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed the shooting down of two Russian fighter jets on Christmas Eve and said “this Christmas sets the right mood for the entire year ahead”.
In a Christmas message marking the first time Ukraine has officially observed the holiday on 25 December rather than 7 January, Zelenskiy also referred to Ukraine’s claim to have destroyed a further three Russian fighter planes on Friday.
“The stronger our air defence, the fewer Russian devils will be in our skies and on our land,” the Ukrainian president said, praising the country’s “capabilities in negotiations with partners, capabilities in bolstering our sky shield, capabilities in defending our homeland from Russian terrorists”.
His upbeat assessment came amid growing concern about battlefield disappointments and the future of western aid for Ukraine’s war effort. Despite high hopes for a summer counteroffensive, the frontline has barely moved and political disputes in allied countries have left billions of dollars of aid in doubt.
On Monday the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said Moscow’s forces had taken control of Marinka, a now-deserted strategic town about 20km (12 miles) west of Donetsk, the largest city in Russian-held territory. [Continue reading…]