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The extradition of a Neo-Nazi from Finland to Ukraine has been blocked.
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The extradition of a Neo-Nazi from Finland to Ukraine has been blocked.

The highest court in Finland issued a ruling on Friday preventing the transfer of a Russian neo-Nazi to Ukraine, where he faces accusations of terrorism.

It is believed that Jan Petrovsky is involved with a terrorist group operating in Ukraine.

The court in Finland halted his extradition, citing concerns that he would face inhumane conditions in a prison in Ukraine.

Petrovsky, a previous member of the Wagner Group private military, was freed from prison in Finland but subsequently detained by the Finnish Border Guard.

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported that a missile attack occurred in the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk areas in the morning. However, he stated that a considerable number of Russian missiles were intercepted with success. He also confirmed that one individual died as a result of the attack.

According to Zelenskyy, Ukraine is currently in the process of removing its citizens from Israel. He stated that approximately 40 Ukrainian citizens have been successfully evacuated and are now out of harm’s way.

Energy infrastructure targeted

The energy infrastructure in Ukraine has been damaged by Russian airstrikes, shelling, and severe weather, resulting in intermittent blackouts for 500 settlements.

According to Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s grid operator, energy usage on Friday was close to reaching record levels, putting added pressure on the already vulnerable power grid.

For another consecutive winter, Russia is aiming at the nation’s electric system by deploying numerous drones almost every night to attack power plants and distribution networks throughout the country.

Ukrenergo reported that a thermal power plant located in the eastern region has once again been affected by relentless and extended shelling. Additionally, another power facility has been forced to cease operations for urgent repairs.

In light of ongoing attacks from Russia, Ukrenergo has advised residents to conserve their electricity usage.

The grid operator stated that this morning, Ukrenergo once again observed a significant level of usage, nearly matching yesterday’s record. They also noted that consumption has reached its peak for this heating season.

Ukrainian soldiers train in a trench during Combined Arms Training in Wedrzyn, Poland, on Dec. 7, 2023.

On December 7, 2023, Ukrainian military personnel practice in a dugout as part of their Combined Arms Training in Wedrzyn, Poland.

Last year, before Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was exporting energy. However, due to the current situation, Ukrenergo stated that this week they had to resort to importing emergency power from neighboring countries such as Romania and Poland to meet the demand.

“The current state of the power system is challenging. At the moment, power plants do not have any available capacity,” the statement read.

EU aid debate

A high-ranking official stated on Friday that the European Union is determined to find solutions to offer financial support to Ukraine, despite the potential veto from Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has threatened to obstruct the proposed $53 billion budget allocation for assisting Kyiv until 2027.

A high-ranking EU representative, who spoke anonymously to Reuters, suggested that if Hungary were to veto the aid package, the EU could provide a reduced amount of funding to Ukraine for a shorter period of time. Alternatively, the remaining 26 EU nations could individually increase their contributions to Kyiv.

“We know how existential it is. European leaders are responsible people — at least 26,” said the official, who is involved in an EU summit scheduled for next week.

Ukraine relies on financial assistance from Western countries to maintain its defenses against Russia.

A high-ranking diplomat from the European Union, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed optimism that a resolution could be reached. This situation has occurred previously, such as last year when Orban opposed the EU’s $18 billion aid package for Ukraine but eventually agreed after negotiating concessions for his own country.

Next week’s summit may see Hungary preventing Ukraine from starting EU membership discussions.

The European Union will be reviewing a legal proposal on Tuesday that would permit the use of frozen assets from Russia’s sanctions to aid Ukraine. Despite this, EU officials have stated that Ukraine may not receive the funds in the near future due to disagreements among member states over the promised amounts for Ukraine.

The European Union’s governing body reported that around $30 billion in private assets belonging to Russia and an additional $223 billion from the Russian central bank have been seized.

Euroclear, a Belgian company, holds about $135 billion of that amount. The estimated tax revenue from this sum for 2023 and 2024 is $2.5 billion, according to Belgium. These funds will be allocated towards Ukraine.

Putin presidency 2024

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his bid for the upcoming presidential election in March. This announcement came after a ceremony at the Kremlin, where war veterans and others urged him to run for reelection. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, these pleas were made spontaneously.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to present Gold Star medals to Heroes of Russia at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Dec. 8, 2023.

On December 8, 2023, in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace where he presented Gold Star medals to Heroes of Russia.

Putin, who assumed the presidency from Boris Yeltsin on the final day of 1999, has now surpassed Josef Stalin as the longest-serving president in Russia’s history.

As Putin, who is 71 years old, approaches the upcoming election, it is essentially just a ceremonial process. He has the backing of the government, state-controlled media, and minimal opposition from the general public, making his victory a guarantee. There is no clear candidate to succeed him.

According to a recent survey by the independent organization Levada Center, approximately 80% of Russians express approval for Putin’s actions as leader. However, it is uncertain if this support is genuine or influenced by Putin’s authoritarian rule, which suppresses any dissenting voices.

The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters provided information for this story.