HERE IS THE SITUATION ON TUESDAY DECEMBER 12, 2023. (657 DAY)
The Ukrainian military has reported a significant new offensive by Russian forces on the eastern city of Avdiivka, located just northwest of the Russian-occupied Donetsk. Military spokesperson Oleksandr Stupun, speaking on Ukrainian television, described intense fighting, with 610 artillery shellings near Avdiivka in the past 24 hours. Despite the severity of the situation, there has been no immediate comment from Russia. Notably, only 1,500 residents remain in Avdiivka out of its pre-war population of 32,000.
In an early morning attack, Russia targeted Kyiv with eight long-range ballistic missiles, resulting in four injuries. Fortunately, Ukrainian air defenses successfully intercepted the missiles, but individuals were harmed by debris and shattered glass. Additionally, Ukrainian air defenses thwarted a separate assault involving 18 Shahed drones in the southern region.
During the initial day of his visit to Washington, DC, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the critical importance of maintaining support for Ukraine. Zelenskyy warned that a lack of support would only serve the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday, Zelenskyy faces resistance from Republicans in the US Congress regarding additional funding for Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva, shortly after the fund’s executive board approved a new $900 million disbursement for Ukraine. The meeting, lasting nearly an hour at the IMF headquarters in Washington, DC, saw Zelenskyy expressing gratitude for the IMF’s ongoing support. Georgieva highlighted that, except for one country, the board unanimously backed Ukraine.
Zelenskyy characterized his brief discussion with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the sidelines of Argentinian President Javier Milei‘s inauguration as “frank.” Orban, expressing opposition to Ukraine joining the European Union and threatening to impede additional financial support from the EU, remains a notable figure in the ongoing diplomatic conversations. The EU is set to discuss Ukraine’s membership at an upcoming summit on Thursday.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced the arrest of 18 individuals it claims are “agents and accomplices” of Ukraine’s special services. According to Moscow, these individuals were part of a network of assassins targeting pro-Russian figures in occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The FSB alleges their involvement in activities dating back to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In response to alleged support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has expanded its Iran sanctions list, adding six individuals and five entities. Among those sanctioned are the Shahed drone-manufacturer, Shakad Sanat Asmari, along with its CEO, deputy CEO, and chief scientist. Additional companies involved in drone production were also targeted in the sanctions.
Russia’s central election commission has declared that the upcoming presidential election in March will encompass voting in four regions of Ukraine, which Russia partially occupied and annexed the previous year. Despite Ukraine’s rejection of the annexation, along with widespread condemnation at the United Nations General Assembly, Russia’s plan to conduct voting in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson faces strong opposition. Ukraine has firmly stated that any Russian vote in these regions would be considered null and void, and it intends to prosecute any observers sent to monitor the voting process.
The United Kingdom has transferred two minehunters to Ukraine as part of a new Maritime Capability Coalition, led jointly by the UK and Norway. This coalition aims to provide sustained military support, bolstering maritime security in the Black Sea.
John Kirby, the US national security spokesman, has indicated that Washington is likely to announce additional military aid for Ukraine by the end of the month. The decision is driven by the expectation that Russia may target Ukraine’s energy facilities as the weather gets colder. This move underscores the ongoing commitment to support Ukraine in the face of evolving security challenges.
Source: Al Jazeera