Ukraine war: Makiivka strike death toll disputed, Banksy removal, gas prices hit record low

Ukraine war: Makiivka strike death toll disputed, Banksy removal, gas prices hit record low

1. Scores of Russian soldiers killed in Donetsk missile attack

Scores of Russian soldiers have been killed in a Ukrainian strike on the occupied city of Makiivka, Russia's defence ministry admitted on Monday.

Kyiv claimed that around 400 Russian soldiers died and 300 more were injured in the incident, which happened at a temporary accommodation centre in the eastern Donetsk region.

Russia acknowledged that 63 troops were killed, making it one of the deadliest strikes in the Ukraine war so far. Moscow is usually tight-lipped about its war dead.

Euronews is unable to independently verify either casualty claim.

A spokesman for Russia's defence ministry said four missiles hit the structure but did not give a date for the attack.

Igor Girkin, a pro-Russian commentator, said many of the victims were troops who had been called up by the authorities to fight, rather than those who volunteered.

Nationalist bloggers in Russia, who yield sizable influence, have called on military commanders to be punished for allegedly housing soldiers alongside an ammunition dump.

They claimed the huge destruction was because ammo was stored near a barracks, despite Russia's top brass knowing it was within range of Ukrainian rockets.

However, the bloggers, followed online in some cases by hundreds of thousands of people, say the number of those dead is lower than what Ukraine claims.

Russian-backed Donetsk official Daniil Bezsonov said US-made HIMARS rockets hit the centre on 1 January.

"Apparently, the high command is still not aware of the capabilities of this weapon (HIMARS)," he wrote on Telegram. "I hope that the perpetrators who made the decision to use this facility will be punished.

2. Russia launches more overnight attacks on Ukraine's capital

A new airstrike targeted Kyiv in the early hours of Monday, according to authorities in the Ukrainian capital.

Ukraine claimed it shot down tens of drones launched by Russia in an unprecedented third straight night of air strikes against civilian targets in Kyiv and other cities.

Ukrainian officials said their success in shooting down these targets proved that Moscow's tactic of hammering the country's energy infrastructure was increasingly a failure, amid moves by Kyiv to strengthen its air defences.

Monday's attack comes after a New Year's Day marked by dozens of Russian strikes that left at least four people dead and 50 injured in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Russia continues to target critical infrastructure in Ukraine, claiming it was aiming for unmanned aircraft manufacturing facilities.

It has launched dozens of Iranian-made 'Shahid' (martyr) drones, prompting the EU to sanction Tehran.

Russia has been attacking Ukraine's energy infrastructure for months, with millions losing power amid sub-zero wintry temperatures in the country.

3. Mastermind of Banksy removal could face years behind bars, Ukraine says

The suspected mastermind behind the removal of a Banksy mural in a Ukrainian town could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty, Ukraine's interior ministry said on Monday.

Depicting a woman clad with a gas mask and a dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher, the artwork was taken off a wall in the town of Hostomel on 2 Dec, according to officials.

The ministry announced on its website that the man it believes orchestrated the operation had been handed a "suspicion notice".

The artwork by the renowned British artist had been valued at over 9 million hryvnias (228,000 euros), the ministry statement said.

"The criminals tried to transport this graffiti with the help of wooden boards and polyethylene," it said.

"Thanks to the concern of citizens, the police and other security forces managed to arrest the criminals."

The mural was retrieved.

Banksy confirmed he had painted the mural and six others in places that were hit by heavy fighting after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

4. Europe gas prices lowest since start of war

Europe's wholesale natural gas price fell to its lowest level since the start of the war in Ukraine on Monday, continuing its decline on the back of a relatively warm winter.

The benchmark contract for the continent, the TTF on the Dutch market, fell another 4.67% to €72.75 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for delivery in February.

At around 09:35 Monday morning, the price hit its lowest rate since 21 February. That's compared to its peak in August 2022, when it sat at around €342 per MWh.

Gas prices began to rise in the autumn of 2021, with the start of a reduction in Russian gas deliveries to Europe.

They took a very sharp upturn following the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Since then, gas pipelines between Russia and Europe have almost all shut down.

Volumes traded on Monday were weak as the main commodity market, London, was closed.

In France, the price of wholesale electricity for delivery in 2023, which had exceeded €1000 per MWh at the end of August, fell to €240 on Friday, the lowest since April.

But these variations in wholesale prices are not directly reflected in the prices charged to consumers, as electricity suppliers smooth their rates, especially during this period when prices can jump from one day to the next.

5. Russia risks causing IT worker flight with remote work law

Russia's IT sector risks losing more workers in the New Year because of planned legislation on remote working, as authorities try to lure back some of the tens of thousands who have gone to work abroad.

IT workers featured prominently among the many Russians who fled after Moscow sent its army into Ukraine in February, and the hundreds of thousands who followed when a military call-up began in September.

The government estimates that 100,000 IT specialists currently work for Russian companies from overseas locations.

Now, legislation is being mooted for early next year that could ban remote working for some professions.

Some lawmakers, fearful that more Russian IT professionals could end up working in NATO countries and inadvertently sharing sensitive security information, have proposed banning some IT specialists from leaving the country.

6. Ukrainian drone knocks power out in Russian region

A Ukrainian drone attack hit energy infrastructure in southwest Russia on Monday, cutting off power temporarily, according to a regional governor.

Ukraine's ariel strike damaged an electricity facility in Russia's southwest Bryansk region on the Ukrainian border, knocking out power for several hours.

"A Ukrainian drone attack was carried out this morning on the Klimovsky district," said regional governor Alexander Bogomaz on Telegram.

"As a result of the strike, a power supply facility was damaged," he added.

Bogomaz said the power supply in the district had been fully restored around 12 hours later.

Euronews could not able to independently verify the report.

Russia has accused Ukraine of conducting a number of high-profile strikes in Russian-controlled territories.

One of those was on a Russian airbase on the Crimean peninsular, though Ukraine did not claim responsibility for these attacks.