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Sledgehammers were thrown into the Finnish embassy by a group of masked men prompting a plea to guarantee the safety of diplomatic staff.
The deputy head of the diplomatic mission at Finland’s Nordic embassy has asked Russia to “guarantee the security of staff and of the building, in keeping with the Geneva convention on diplomatic relations," a ministry spokesperson said.
A video posted to the Telegram social media platform appeared to show a group of around 10 people running towards the building and throwing sledgehammers over the fence.
The accession to Nato of Finland, which borders Russia, was cited by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shigou this week as a reason for the Kremlin drawing up plans to boost the size of its army by about 30%.
Unidentified persons threw sledgehammer at the embassy of Finland in Moscow.

I wonder whether there are a lot of foreigners now in Russia and do they feel safe? pic.twitter.com/IWFnSb6M3a
Sledgehammers are known to be the calling card of the mercenary Wagner Group, with reports they have used them in executions and even sent them to EU politicians.
In November a gruesome video emerged which appeared to show the summary execution of a Wagner deserter using a sledgehammer. The group also claimed to have sent a bloodied sledgehammer to the EU Parliament.
Follow the latest below.
That’s all for today’s live blog. Here’s a round up of the main events:
Both President Putin and his Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited weapons factories today.
Videos on social media showed Mr Putin surveying new tanks and Mr Shoigu visiting a Kalashnikov factory in Izhevsk. 
Mr Putin was reported as saying it was necessary to support the troops with new equipment.
‼️🇷🇺 #Putin visited defense enterprises.

It was stated that it was necessary to increase support for the troops with new equipment, to strengthen feedback from the recipients of this equipment at the front. #Russia pic.twitter.com/IoBKyaf7Gl
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visits Kalashnikov factory in Izhevsk. pic.twitter.com/qLyNZFiFSN
More on the story from earlier today on the reported targeting of Russian agents in Melitopol.
The exiled mayor of the occupied city Ivan Fedorov has said that the car used in the attack had been stolen from a Ukrainian police officer and had been used by a local man who collaborated with the Russians.
Ukraine’s Ria-Melitopol news site reported that both men targeted had been seriously injured.
You can read the full story here.
Retired vice air marshall Sean Bell has told Sky News Russia is making slow progress in the key town of Bakhmut because of its reliance on mercenaries.
He said: "Part of the answer lies in the fact that the volunteer group, the mercenary group, are the lead for that operation in that area. 
"There’s about 50,000 troops, 10,000 of their contractors, 40,000 convicts there."
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy revealed plans to open 10 new embassies in Africa in 2023 in a bid to rally the continent to its cause. 
The Russian blockade of Ukrainian agricultural exports sparked a global grain shortage earlier this year, heavily affecting African countries, before a UN-brokered agreement partially eased those concerns.
Speaking on Friday in Kyiv, Mr Zelenskiy said he was "overhauling relations" with African countries and intended to strengthen this in the new year.
Besides opening the new embassies, Zelenskiy said, Ukraine would also aim to set up trade representative offices in several key hubs on the continent – which he described as a region "where our interests are so far represented less than we need".
The UK Government has posted an updated map of Russian attacks and troop locations.
You can see British intelligence’s current assessment of the situation below.
The illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is continuing.

The map below is the latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 23 December 2022.

Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/t3sSQ81JJG

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/Fh5KIkGy2d
Sledgehammers, known to be a violent calling card of the mercenary Wagner Group, were thrown over the fence of the Finnish embassy in Moscow.
Finland has requested assurances from Russia that diplomatic staff in the country will be kept safe. 
Video shared on social media by Anton Garashchenko, a Ukrainian minister, showed the incident, which happened earlier this week.
Unidentified persons threw sledgehammer at the embassy of Finland in Moscow.

I wonder whether there are a lot of foreigners now in Russia and do they feel safe? pic.twitter.com/IWFnSb6M3a
Canada has said that North Korea’s sale of arms to the Russian private military company the Wagner Group "clearly violates international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions".
Canada’s foreign minister said: "We will continue to work with international partners to address these developments and respond to further arms deliveries should they take place."
North Korea has denied that it supplied munitions to Russia.
Read the full story here.
Reports from Ukraine suggest two people were killed by an attack in the city of Kherson on Friday afternoon.
Ukrainian media organisation Hromadske Int reported that residential buildings and a kindergarten were damaged in the strike.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President’s office, said on Telegram that a man had died and emergency services were on site.
It comes the day after the Russian-installed head of a village in the Kherson-Oblast region was killed by a car bomb explosion.
Russian troops shelled the civilian infrastructure of Kherson in the afternoon of December 23, said Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko. As a result, 2 people were killed. Residential buildings and a kindergarten were damaged. pic.twitter.com/t4HX8ud9wH
An apparent car bomb has been set off in central Melitopol, a port city in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region.
Two FSB agents were allegedly targeted with one having "a limb torn off" according to reports from Russian sources.
Russian-appointed official Vladimir Rogov described the incident as a "terrorist attack". 
Video shows firefighters dealing with the remains of a smouldering car near the city’s Gorky Park.
A short video from the scene of the car bomb blast in #Melitopol where it's thought at least one FSB officer has been killed by #Ukraine Partisans. pic.twitter.com/64fOae9nZV
Earlier today we reported on social media videos which appear to show Russian forces demolishing a theatre in Mariupol which was the site of a strike killing up to 600 people in March.
The Drama Theatre was being used as an air raid shelter when it was hit by missiles in what Amnesty International later called "a clear war crime".
The video circulating on Twitter showed diggers demolishing the remaining walls of the building. 
Moscow has been accused of covering up the evidence.
Read the full story and watch the video here.
The Kremlin has said it has made significant progress towards "demilitarising" Ukraine and that the country’s defence potential was "close to zero".
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "It can be stated that there is significant progress towards demilitarisation."
This was one of President Putin’s stated goals when the war began 10 months ago.
Ukrainian forces have been badly disrupted by repeated Russian strikes, but it has been boosted by support from the West in the form of money and weapons.
A St Petersburg politician has asked prosecutors to investigate President Putin for using the word "war" to describe the conflict for the first time.
For months, the Russian leader has used the words "special military operation" to describe the conflict, and in March he passed laws which meant those who called it war could face prosecution.
But in a rare slip on Thursday, Mr Putin told reporters his goal was to "end the war". 
Opposition councillor Nikita Yuferev said he knew that his legal challenge would go nowhere, but that he had filed it to expose the "mendacity" of the system.
The Government of the Netherlands said on Friday it will provide Ukraine with up to €2.5bn (£2.2bn) in 2023.
The money is earmarked for military assistance, work to recover critical infrastructure and to help investigations into possible war crimes, the government said.
"As long as Russia continues its war against Ukraine, the Netherlands will provide assistance to Ukraine. Military, humanitarian and diplomatic," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States said on Friday that the risk of a clash between the U.S. and Russia was "high", Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
TASS quoted Anatoly Antonov as saying that it was hard to say when talks on strategic dialogue between the two sides could resume, but that talks on prisoner swaps had been "effective" and would continue.
 
The top Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region said on Friday that shelling of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, had "almost stopped".
Speaking on Russian state television, Russian-installed regional governor Yevgeny Balitsky said that Russian troops would not leave the nuclear plant, and that it would never return to Ukrainian control.
Moscow is planning to expand its military personnel by around 30% to 1.5 million, according to British military intelligence.
The Ministry of Defence tweeted its latest intelligence update on Friday morning suggesting that President Putin had been presented with plans to boost the size of the country’s army.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shigou cited the supposed threat from Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato, the MOD said.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 23 December 2022

Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/3hTCDMM4Xq

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/C7wHk3WLS3
A group of Ukrainian military mechanics have left the Lithuanian town of Rukla after being trained to repair the German artillery howitzers being supplied to Kyiv, AFP reports.
The 16 mechanics spent the past two weeks in the Nato-member country, several after receiving an introductory course in Germany.
Berlin in June said it had begun supplying 155mm self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine.
German reports have suggested the weapons were suffering severe wear and tear due to being fired up to 300 times a day. 
The training will mean they can be repaired closer to the battlefield.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, posted a video on Friday saying he was back at work in Kyiv after his landmark visit to Washington this week.
"I am in my office. We are working toward victory," he said in a video posted on his Telegram messaging app.
In the 20-minute speech to the US Congress on Wednesday, Mr Zelensky told America that Ukraine was "alive and kicking" and would "never surrender".
He added that his soldiers needed more weapons, including planes, and that US spending on Ukraine was not "charity" but an "investment in global security and democracy".
North Korea has delivered arms to Russia’s private military group Wagner, the White House said on Thursday.
The sale of weapons last month included infantry rockets and missiles, said John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman.
He added that the US would impose further sanctions on the group due to the sale’s violation of UN Security Council resolutions. 
"We can confirm that North Korea has completed an initial arms delivery to Wagner, which paid for that equipment," he said.
Mr Kirby said the Wagner group, which is independent of the Russian defence forces, is spending more than $100 million each month on its Ukraine operations as it emerges as a "rival" for power to the defence and other ministries in the Kremlin.
"Wagner is searching around the world for arms suppliers to support its military operations in Ukraine," he said.
Read the full story here
A burial. Hiding all evidence of their crimes in the rubble. This is most of Mariupol btw. Look at Bucha and what they did in just a month – now scale that up to Mariupol. This will give you a rough idea, and explain why they have to demolish entire blocks to "clean up". https://t.co/mcYuuIRQP2
A senior Russian diplomat said on Friday that talks on security guarantees for Russia cannot take place while Nato"mercenaries" remain in Ukraine, and while Western arms supplies to the country continue.
Alexander Darchiev, head of the Russian foreign ministry’s North America department, told the Russian state news agency Tass that talks would be premature "until the flood of weapons and financing for the Zelensky regime stops, American and Nato servicemen, mercenaries, instructors are withdrawn".
Russia typically refers to foreign volunteers fighting with the Ukrainian army as "mercenaries", and has convicted captured foreign fighters of acting as such.
Russian officials have increasingly stressed their openness to talks on Ukraine in recent weeks, even as they have emphasised that they do not believe President Zelensky is interested in a peaceful settlement.
In his comments, Mr Darchiev said that talks would also need to be preceded by "recognition of the realities we have defined on the ground", an apparent reference to Russia’s control of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.
Russia said that Ukraine acquiring Patriot missiles from the US, announced during President Zelensky’s visit to Washington, would not help settle the conflict or prevent Moscow from achieving its goals.
The Patriot, which stands for phased array tracking radar for intercept on target, is a surface-to-air missile defence system built by Raytheon Technologies Corp and considered one of the most advanced air defense systems in the US arsenal.
However, Vladimir Putin described the system as "quite old" and said Russia would find a way to counter it. 
He also said Russia wants to end the war in Ukraine and this would inevitbaly involve a diplomatic solution. 
"Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war," Putin said. "We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course."

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