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Ukraine Latest: Italy Offers Use of Logistics, Ports to Kyiv

(Bloomberg) — Ukraine said its forces are fighting in Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region as analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces likely control most if not all of the settlement, and have likely pushed Ukrainian forces out of its western outskirts. The ISW report cited geolocated footage posted on Jan. 11 and 12.

Italy offered use of its logistics infrastructure, including the Adriatic Sea ports of Venice and Trieste, for Ukraine’s exports, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said in an interview Friday. Urso had met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials in Kyiv on Thursday. 

Ukrainian forces pushed back Russian attacks near 17 settlements mostly in the eastern Donetsk region over the past 24 hours, the General Staff said. 

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On the Ground

The Ukrainian army repelled Russian attacks near 17 settlements in Ukraine’s east, mostly in the Donetsk region, in the past 24-hour period, the General Staff said on Facebook. Russia carried out five missile strikes on residential areas in Kostyantynivka, Kramatorsk and Zaporizhzhia, 18 aviation strikes and 52 strikes from multiple launch rocket systems. Ukrainian troops hit Russian military strongholds 16 times, downed an Su-24 airplane and a drone.

(All times CET)

Ukrainian Security Service Repelled 4,500 Russian Cyberattacks in 2022 (9:10 a.m.)

The Security Service of Ukraine repelled 4,500 Russian cyberattacks on Ukrainian critical state infrastructure last year, Illya Vityuk, the head of cybersecurity department, said at a briefing Friday. Russian security forces continue to look for vulnerable areas in order to destroy or steal data, Vityuk said.

Ukraine Says Forces Fighting on in Soledar (9:05 a.m.)

“Friday night was hot in Soledar, the battle is on. Russia threw almost all its main forces on the Donetsk direction to support an intensive offensive”, the Ukrainian military news agency ArmiyaInform said, citing Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar. “Ukrainian troops bravely keep up the defense”, she said.

Russian Troops Likely Seized Ukraine’s Soledar, ISW Says (8:30 a.m.)

Russia has “overexaggerated” the importance of Soledar, which is “at best a Russian Pyrrhic tactical victory,” the Institute for the Study of War said, adding that the capture of Soledar — a settlement smaller than 5.5 square miles — will not enable Russian forces to exert control over critical Ukrainian ground lines of communication into the city of Bakhmut, southwest from Soledar. Russian troops have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months.

Russian forces likely captured Soledar after committing significant resources to a highly attritional tactical victory which will accelerate degraded Russian forces’ likely culmination near Bakhmut, it said.

China Runs Record Trade Deficit With Russia as Energy Costs Jump (8:05 a.m.)

China’s trade deficit with Russia reached a record $38 billion last year as global energy prices surged following the outbreak of war in Ukraine. 

The world’s second-largest economy purchased $114.1 billion worth of goods from Russia in 2022, up 44% from a year earlier, figures from China’s General Administration of Customs showed Friday. By comparison, China’s total imports from around the globe were up just 1.1% for the year.

Italy Offers Use of Ports to Ukraine (8 a.m.)

Italy has offered the use of its logistics infrastructure, including the Adriatic Sea ports of Venice and Trieste, for Ukraine’s exports, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said in an interview with newspaper Il Messaggero on Friday. Urso was in Kyiv Thursday where he met with Zelenskiy, ahead of a planned visit by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in coming weeks.

Austin Reaffirms Sweden’s Bid for NATO Membership (2:50 a.m.) 

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin underscored his support for Sweden’s quest to join NATO after meeting that country’s defense minister, Pal Jonson, on Thursday. In a tweet, Austin also thanked Sweden for “its security assistance to Ukraine.” 

Turkey has expressed strong misgivings about Sweden’s membership in the military alliance because Swedish courts have blocked extradition of suspects wanted by the Turkish government. Earlier Thursday, Turkey summoned Sweden’s ambassador after supporters of the Kurdish militant group PKK hanged an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest in Stockholm. 

Asked about the new tensions between Turkey and Sweden, John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said President Joe Biden continues to “firmly support” Sweden’s accession. 

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