Ukraine war latest: Kyiv 'aiming for peace talks' with Russia at UN by … – Sky News

Latest updates on the war in Ukraine as its foreign minister says his government aims to hold peace talks at the UN by February; officials say a Ukrainian drone was shot down over a Russian airbase, killing three. Listen to the latest episode of Ukraine War Diaries while you scroll.
After the Ukrainian foreign minister told the Associated Press that Kyiv is ready to negotiate with Russia, the Kremlin hit back, saying it would need its own proposals fulfilled. 
According to Russian news agency Tass, Sergei Lavrov said that Russian aims of “demilitarisation and denazification” are known to Kyiv. 
He added that if Ukraine fails to fulfil Russia’s aims, the issue will be decided by the military.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this evening that work is ongoing to try and repair the national grid in Ukraine, to prevent rolling blackouts.
Despite claims of attacks from Russia, workers have managed to reconnect some people, Mr Zelenskyy said.
“Naturally, shortages persist. Blackouts are continuing,” he added.
“The situation as of this evening in different regions of Ukraine is that nearly nine million people are without electricity. 
“But the numbers and the length of the blackouts are gradually decreasing.” 

The Ukrainian leader, in his daily evening update, says the situation in the Donbas, which is currently occupied by pro-Russian separatists, is “difficult and painful”, and required the country’s “strength and concentration”.
He said: “First of all, matters at the front. Bakhmut, Kreminna and other areas in Donbas, which require a maximum of strength and concentration.” 
“The situation there is difficult and painful. The occupiers are deploying all resources available to them – and these are considerable resources – to make some sort of advance.” 
Mr Zelenskyy added that nine million people in Ukraine are still without power. 
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the Associated Press the country is aiming to hold peace talks by the end of February – around the anniversary of the war’s outbreak.
He added this is likely to be at the United Nations, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres as a possible mediator.
He added he is “absolutely satisfied” with the results of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the US last week, saying the US government plans to get a Patriot missile battery ready to be operational in the country in under six months.
Mr Kuleba said that diplomacy will play an important role in ending the conflict in Ukraine.
“Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table,” he said.
“The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit because this is not about making a favour to a certain country.
“This is really about bringing everyone on board.”
Before Russia joins the talks, Mr Kuleba said the Kremlin should first be tried for war crimes at an international court.
He also downplayed comments from Moscow that Russia is ready for negotiations, adding: “They regularly say that they are ready for negotiations, which is not true, because everything they do on the battlefield proves the opposite.”
In recent days, Vladimir Putin has claimed he is ready to negotiate, but that Ukraine is unwilling to talk. 
In an interview with Sky News, Ukrainian air force spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ignat refused to directly comment on the blasts at Engels air base.
“Everything that is connected with the liberation of Ukraine, and all the targets that attack us inside Ukraine – like in Crimea – has been confirmed by central command. But regarding explosions in Russian territory we are not commenting,” he said. 
The Ukrainian military is known to be guarded about attacks on targets within Russia’s borders. 
Ukrainian officials have seen no movement of military equipment by Belarus near the country’s border with Ukraine.
Andriy Demchenko, the spokesman for the State Border Guard Service, said the situation on the border with Belarus remains “fully controlled”. 
“We are recording no movement of military equipment either of Russia or the Belarus army near the border, as they recently carried out a combat readiness check units. At the same time, of course, we must remain vigilant,” he said. 
Two weeks ago, Belarus announced it was holding combat readiness drills for its troops. 
Ukraine has raised concerns Belarus could send troops into the conflict, but war analysts believe this possibility remains unlikely. 
Mr Demchenko said there had been movement of equipment deep into Belarusian territory. 
“On the other hand, as for the units of the Belarus armed forces, which have been strengthening positions at the border with Ukraine before, we are seeing no increase in their numbers or changes in the nature of their actions,” he added.
The former commander-in-chief of Russia’s ground forces has died suddenly. 
General Alexei Maslov, who had also served as Russia’s chief military representative to NATO, passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 69. 
Machine-building company Uralvagonzavod, where he worked following his military career, announced his death. 
Mr Maslov retired from military service in 2011.
A father of two is among those killed in fighting near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. 
Ukraine’s defence forces said Volodymyr Yezhov had worked as a developer for popular Xbox game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
The first-person shooter survival game series is set in Ukraine. 
Fierce fighting has continued as Russian forces attempt to reach Bakhmut. 
We’re getting more details of the phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. 
In a statement, the Indian government said Mr Modi had reiterated his call for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”. 
He had told Mr Zelenskyy that both sides should revert to dialogue and diplomacy to end the war – something that is likely to be rejected by the Ukrainian president, who has previously said Russia must pull out of Ukraine’s territory before talks can be held. 
Mr Modi had also expressed India’s support for any peace efforts, after Mr Zelenskyy unveiled a 10-point peace plan. 
The pair discussed opportunities for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the call, the Indian government said. 
For context: India has been seeking to strengthen trade relations with Russia and has not explicitly condemned the invasion of Ukraine. 
It has emerged as the largest buyer of Russian oil after China, arguing that it had to look after its own interests as the world’s third-largest consumer of oil and gas. 
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