Volodymyr Zelensky: In the new year Ukrainian air defense will become stronger, more effective

I held another meeting of the Staff – already the 45th this year.

The main thing is Donetsk region, Luhansk region – our Donbas, where the fiercest battles are going on. Bakhmut, Soledar, Kreminna… In general, we hold our positions. There are also areas of the front where we are slowly advancing. And I thank all our soldiers who ensure this. You are real heroes!

We discussed the situation in the south, on our border, the supply of weapons, and the further strengthening of air defense.

This year, we not only maintained our air defenses, but we made them stronger than ever. But in the new year Ukrainian air defense will become even stronger, even more effective.

Ukrainian air defense can become the most powerful in Europe, and this will be a guarantee of security not only for our country, but also for the entire continent.

After the meeting of the Staff, at a separate meeting we discussed the situation in the energy industry, what we are preparing for.

We have a clear strategy for ensuring the generation and supply of electricity. It takes time to implement it. It takes a lot of effort. But it will be. It will be mandatory. It is one of the most important tasks for the next year, and I have no doubt that we will accomplish it.

Today I spoke with the Prime Minister of Greece. We summarized the year, and I thanked Greece for supporting our country. We agreed for next year how we can make cooperation even more meaningful.

I held a meeting with our diplomats. There are many questions, but the main thing is the measures we are preparing to strengthen Ukraine already in January and February.

Ukraine will retain the achieved leadership in foreign policy and will be even more active, that’s for sure.

And one more.

Today, for the first time, the ceremony of awarding our volunteers with the Golden Heart took place.

It is fair and honest – at the end of the year, to recognize those who help our defense, help people and our entire state all year long.

Thank you to everyone who fights for our country. Who helps Ukrainians. Who works for Ukraine and our future.

Glory to all our people!

Glory to Ukraine!

As a result of 2022, amid the war, Ukraine has been granted five “visa-free regimes” with the EU

Integration into the EU is not about some vast future that will give results someday. Integration into the EU is the transformation of our country right now. It means business opportunities, state stability, strengthening of our institutions, fair rules, opportunities and freedoms for all Ukrainians. Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal emphasized during a Gov’t session on December 30.

“The milestone in our history was obtaining the EU candidate status in June this year. In record time for all countries, we have completed the questionnaire for obtaining this status. We have already managed to implement the Association Agreement with the EU by more than 70%. Next year we expect to start negotiations on accession to the European Union,” accentuated the Head of Government.

According to the Prime Minister, this year, amid the war, Ukraine has been granted five so-called “visa-free regimes” with the EU. What was planned to be done for years, we have done in 10 months.

“Energy visa-free regime was granted in March, when we joined the European energy grid. Transport visa-free regime – in June, thanks to which Ukrainian business no longer needs permits for road freight transportation. Economic visa-free regime abolished for a year all duties and quotas on Ukrainian goods exported to the EU. Customs visa-free regime started to function in October and allows us to integrate our customs into the European one. Digital visa-free regime, thanks to which Ukraine is now a member of the Digital Europe Programme,” explained Denys Shmyhal.

The Prime Minister added this was only the tip of the whole work. Hundreds of regulations have already been adopted to make Ukrainian legislation fully compliant with the European one. Hundreds more are being prepared for adoption next year: “Our strategic goal is to meet the accession criteria by the end of 2024”.

Korean partners donated 6,000 tablets to ensure continuity of education for Ukrainian children

On December 30, the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Serhii Shkarlet met with Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Ukraine Kim Hyung Tae. The parties discussed bilateral cooperation and outlined the main areas of support for Ukraine from the Republic of Korea.

The government of the Republic of Korea donated 6,000 tablets for children in Ukraine as a part of humanitarian relief.

“Together with numerous development partners, we continue to cover needs of computer equipment for Ukrainian teachers who are dedicated to keep teaching our children despite any circumstances. We are happy to announce that the next large-scale stage of digitalization of education in Ukraine has started. This stage will cover the needs of school-aged children who cannot continue their studies due to the lack of technical access to the learning process. I am grateful to the Korean partners for the much-needed support of Ukrainian education in this difficult time”, noted Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Serhii Shkarlet.

These devices will be aimed at ensuring the organization of the educational process in a distance format, primarily for children from vulnerable categories who live in regions where distance learning prevails. The list of these regions includes Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

Devices will be received in the following areas:

Dnipropetrovsk region – 1887;

Donetsk region – 637;

Zaporizhzhia region – 933;

Luhansk region – 165;

Mykolaiv region – 609;

Kharkiv region – 1367;

Kherson region – 402.

“I hope these devices will be of substantial help to Ukrainian students in a vulnerable situation. Today we are glad to make such a meaningful contribution to Ukraine’s future, and Korea will continue to render support to Ukraine,” noted Ambassador.

Tablets will be transferred to the balance of educational institutions and will be handed over to children who need devices the most to ensure uninterrupted access to education.

President of Ukraine presents Golden Heart awards to volunteers

The Head of State presented the representatives of the Ukrainian volunteer movement with the Golden Heart awards of the President of Ukraine.

The award was established by decree of the President of Ukraine No. 825 dated December 5, 2022 with the aim of recognizing the significant contribution of volunteers to the provision of assistance and the development of the volunteer movement, in particular during the implementation of measures to ensure the defense of Ukraine, the protection of the safety of the population and the interests of the state in connection with the military aggression of Russia Federation against Ukraine and overcoming its consequences.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the volunteers for their difficult and extremely important work.

“I want to thank you for strengthening our defense forces since 2014. And I want to thank you – because I am sure of this – for bringing our victory closer, starting from February 24, every day, every hour, every minute,” he said.

The President said that the Golden Heart award symbolizes the dedication of volunteers to Ukraine and the defenders of our state.

“This year, the Golden Heart award was established. I believe that you and all representatives of the volunteer movement have this kind of heart. I want to thank you for your heart, for your time, for your life, because many of you have completely changed your life since the first days of this war. And for your immense love for Ukraine and for our beautiful people and strong soldiers,” the Head of State said.

Those present honored the memory of volunteers who gave their lives for Ukraine with a moment of silence.

Zelenskyy wished the volunteers victory of Ukraine in the war with the aggressor in the new year, 2023.

“I wish you all that the New Year becomes the year of our victory, because this is the most important thing that each of us expects. I wish you only victory!” the Head of State said.

For a significant personal contribution to the provision of volunteer aid and the development of the volunteer movement, the Golden Heart award of the President of Ukraine was presented to representatives of volunteer organizations and movements that contribute to the defense of Ukraine, the protection of the safety of the population and the interests of the state in connection with Russia’s military aggression and overcoming its consequences.

Prime Minister says during 10 months of 2022 the country attracts more than USD 31 billion from partners

Every week the Government engages in constant negotiations to mobilize more support for Ukraine. During the 10 months of 2022, the country has already attracted more than USD 31 billion from partners. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that during a regular Government session on December 30.

“During this year, we have repeatedly said that battles are won by armies, and wars are won by economies. We managed to maintain stability in financial, banking and economic spheres. We managed to finance all key budget expenditures. We did not delay pensions, salaries to doctors or teachers,” stressed Denys Shmyhal.

Apart from that, the Prime Minister told that due to the success of the negotiations conducted by the Government and the Ministry of Finance the country was allowed the postponement of all external debt payments for 2 years. Almost UAH 200 billion was raised from the sale of military bonds.

“International support has become extremely important. At the same time, it should be understood that 2/3 of all the funds that we received in the budget were our internal resources. Payment of taxes, duties by each of us, purchase of bonds. That is why from the first days of the war we did everything to support the private sector. We introduced tax, regulatory and credit privileges. We launched new business support programs, helped with relocation, assisted with logistics,” told the Head of Government. Inter alia, according to the PM, more than 700 enterprises were relocated

At that, thousands of enterprises have been working for the army and performing the most crucial tasks for the country in various spheres, the Prime Minister added. Namely, 28,000 Ukrainian enterprises are involved in the implementation of mobilization tasks.

Olena Zelenska: The mission of my Foundation is to recover Ukraine through the recovery of every person

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska told how her Foundation appeared in response to the Russian invasion and challenges related to the war and what tasks the organization faces. The main goal of the Foundation is to recover the human capital of Ukraine so that every citizen feels physically and mentally healthy, protected, able to exercise their right to education, work and build a future in their native country.

“After the Russian attack, I have been doing many charitable projects simultaneously: our hospitals were bombed – we took children with cancer to safe countries. Our adults and children have lost and are losing limbs – we find them the best prosthetics abroad. Due to constant stress, our women began to give birth prematurely – and we import special incubators with the uninterrupted power supply to save premature babies,” the President’s wife said.

According to her, there were more and more directions for help and requests.

“During my visits abroad, I was increasingly asked how to help civilian Ukrainians. How to help in reconstruction? Is it possible to become a sponsor of a specific school or hospital? Where it is possible to go with this, whom to contact? In short, the moment that happens to every volunteer has come: people trust your name, but you need an official status. Being the First Lady is not enough for that. Many tools are lacking for effective assistance – financial, legal, organizational. More resources are needed to help as many people as possible. To act most effectively, I created the Foundation,” the First Lady said.

The Foundation works in three main directions:

• Medicine – physical and mental health for all.

• Education – quality knowledge and conditions for the development for children and youth.

• Humanitarian aid – everyone who needs support should receive it.

The First Lady said that in the conditions of the exhaustion of the Ukrainian economy, the Foundation attracts foreign partners (businesses, funds, donors, etc.) to assist in Ukraine where it is urgently needed. For this, the organization cooperates with Ukrainian embassies abroad, ministries and local authorities, which speeds up negotiations with partners and the transfer of aid to Ukrainian citizens as much as possible.

To attract such foreign aid more widely, the presentation of the Foundation was held abroad – at a charity event in New York during the opening of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. It was joined by world leaders, businessmen and philanthropists.

“The war goes on, but so does life. It paves its way to recovery even in war. The task of the Foundation is to help life win. And for this we need hospitals, schools, and education,” Zelenska said.

Even more attention of foreign partners was attracted during other Foundation presentations: they were also held in London (in cooperation with Christie’s, which helped organize the charity auction) and Paris (the presentation was organized in cooperation with First Lady of France Brigitte Macron).

Zelenska spoke about the implemented and ongoing projects of the Foundation:

1. Assistance to teachers from 12 regions of Ukraine most affected by the war: Luhansk region, Donetsk region, Kherson region, Dnipropetrovsk region, Zhytomyr region, Chernihiv region, Kyiv region, Zaporizhzhia region, Mykolaiv region, Odessa region, Sumy region, Kharkiv region. As part of the Digital Equity for Ukraine project, initiated by the Global Business Coalition for Education, through the Olena Zelenska Foundation, Hewlett Packard (HP) and Microsoft are handing over 38,000 laptops to teachers to support the educational process. The cost of donor support is $42 million. There remains a need for more than 200,000 laptops for students across Ukraine. The Foundation is in ongoing negotiations with HP and Microsoft regarding new supplies of laptops.

2. The launch of the project to rebuild schools in Ukraine. After the meeting and negotiations between Olena Zelenska and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in September, the European Commission and the government of Ukraine signed an agreement on a EUR 100 million support package for the restoration of educational institutions. The European Commission, together with the Government of Ukraine and the Foundation, will work on the restoration of educational institutions that suffered from the brutal attacks of Russia. The Foundation will take over the coordination of the school reconstruction process, as well as monitor the success of the renovation projects.

3. Reconstruction of the central city hospital in Izyum, Kharkiv region. Raising funds for the restoration of the central city hospital in Izyum has begun. Before the full-scale war, the institution served almost 150,000 people. Now four operating units, the intensive care unit, a tomograph, the elevator shaft have been damaged. Shrapnel hits, broken windows are recorded in all buildings. The hospital is operating at 10% capacity. Zelenska dedicated the presentation of the Foundation and a special charity event in Paris (France) to raising funds for the hospital in Izyum.

“By fundraising for the reconstruction of the largest hospital in Kharkiv region, I want to draw the attention of foreign partners to the problems in the de-occupied territories. And I want Ukrainians who survived the occupation to feel not only our support but also the support of the whole world,” the First Lady said.

1. Purchase of hearing aids for residents of Kyiv and Chernihiv regions. The Foundation joined the “Doctor’s Office on Wheels. We are Close” project of the Vidchui public organization. In the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions (77 settlements), this organization checked citizens’ hearing and found the need for 521 hearing aids. The Foundation closed this need шin cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Korea.

2. Humanitarian aid for people in the de-occupied territories. Thanks to partners, 120 powerful generators, as well as 4,500 sleeping bags, 100 field stoves, 85 heaters, 69 electric blankets and 40 batteries were handed over to residents of Kharkiv region. This aid was sent at the specific request of the residents of the district and distributed accordingly. 220 powerful generators, 880 electric blankets, and 2,700 heaters were transferred to Kherson region. The aid provided was delivered and distributed among the residents of communities, Points of Invincibility and shelters.

3. Humanitarian aid for family-type orphanages. The Foundation is in contact with 23 family-type orphanages from Kyiv region and Odesa region. Some of these families moved from the east and south of Ukraine. There is a family (10 children) who lived in the occupation in Kherson region for a month and a half. The Foundation supports them with everything they need. On December 25, children from family-type orphanages of Kyiv region attended the Iron Nicholas fairy-tale event on the Kyiv Children’s Railway. A total of 3,000 children will watch the fairy tale: children from family-type orphanages, children who are forced migrants, children of military personnel, in particular national guardsmen, employees of the State Emergency Service and Ukrzaliznytsia, as well as young railway workers and children with disabilities. 6,000 children will receive gifts from project partners.

4. For the winter holidays, the Foundation handed over gifts for children to the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Immunotherapy of the Okhmatdyt Children’s Specialized Hospital.

Zelenska talked about the partners with whom the Foundation cooperates. They are:

• large technological companies HP and Microsoft, which provide laptops for teachers in 12 regions of Ukraine;

• the Temerty Foundation, founded by philanthropist James Temerty, a Canadian citizen of Ukrainian origin, who donated $500,000 for humanitarian aid to citizens in de-occupied Kharkiv region;

• The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), which handed over 100 powerful generators to residents of de-occupied Kharkiv region;

• businesses from Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States, in particular WILO from Germany, which supplies water purification systems to citizens in Mykolaiv region.

Contributions are also made by former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and film director Michel Hazanavicius, who sent almost UAH 5 million to help Ukraine.

“At the center of my Foundation is a person, his or her well-being. I believe that the restoration of the country begins with the people. If you improve their lives, recuperate, the whole country will improve and recover,” Zelenska said.

Dozens of Chechens stuck in Europe trying to escape mobilization

Several dozen Chechens are trying to get into the European Union through Bosnia and Herzegovina, escaping from mobilization for the war against Ukraine, and are facing problems.

In particular, on Thursday, December 29, a group of Chechens was allegedly detained at the Sarajevo airport to “verify the data and assess the validity of their intention to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Radio Liberty reports.

According to the representative of the border police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Svevlad Hofman, we are talking about people who did not have return tickets.

“It has been established that these people are trying to abuse the visa-free regime between Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

The police do not announce how many people are involved. According to Kavkaz.Realii (Radio Liberty project), 20 people were detained, including children. Some of them connected their visit to the country with the flight from mobilization for the war against Ukraine. In the end, the border guards denied them entry, and on December 29, these persons were returned to Turkey, from which they came to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some detainees told reporters they planned to seek political asylum in Croatia.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina announced the presence in the country of about 50 Russian citizens, mostly from Chechnya.

“These people entered our country legally based on a visa-free regime and can stay up to 30 days. Most of these people … want to continue traveling to the EU because, according to their own statements, they want to avoid mobilization in the country,” the message said.

Also, the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Selmo Cikotić, informed that these people entered Bosnia and Herzegovina legally but could not enter Croatia.

“They want political asylum in Croatia. Croatia does not agree to this yet,” said Cikotić.

At the same time, the Croatian Ministry of the Interior stated that Zagreb did not refuse entry to this group of persons. They also reported that a certain number of Chechens received permission to enter but did not name the number.

Russia has already responded to reports of its citizens stranded on the way between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, running away from mobilization. The Russian embassy called these reports “speculations,” writes the Russian propaganda agency RIA Novosti.

Defence Intelligence: in Crimea, there is an increase in pro-Ukrainian sentiments and an understanding that the return of the peninsula is inevitable

In Crimea, there has been an increase in the amount of information and other assistance that the Ukrainian Defense Forces receive from resistance on the temporarily occupied peninsula.

Intelligence also receives a large amount of data from the Crimeans, said Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Main Directorate of Intelligence.

“Of course, this is information from local residents who literally massively and at every step about the actions of the occupiers and what is happening there. This only concerns information, but further, it is also various actions of informational resistance and actions of a special nature. Therefore, yes. Crimea is preparing, and Ukrainians – Crimeans, Crimean Tatars – are preparing to liberate Crimea and return to their homeland in Ukraine,” the intelligence official stressed.

According to him, there is an increase in pro-Ukrainian sentiments in Crimea and an understanding that the return of the peninsula is inevitable.

“The enemy cannot hide this. Panic preparation, all these trenches, and concrete structures are different… In this way, they show the local population what they are preparing for. Therefore, the local population is happy to wait for the Ukrainian Defense Forces, which will liberate our Crimea,” said Yusov.

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