HERE IS THE SITUATION ON TUESDAY DECEMBER 13, 2023. (658 DAY)
Yevgeny Balitsky, the appointed leader of the Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhia region, reported significant progress by Russian forces northeast of Novopokrovka. This village is situated approximately 20 km (12 miles) east of Robotyne, which Kyiv confirmed regaining control of in August. Balitsky highlighted that Russian forces are not only maintaining their position but are also steadily advancing.
Ukraine acknowledged the ongoing battles in the region, with the army stating in its daily report that the defense forces successfully repelled three enemy attacks in the areas north of Pryutne and west of Novopokrovka in the Zaporizhia region.
This update provides a clearer overview of the current situation in southern Ukraine, emphasizing key details without sacrificing clarity or conciseness.
The Ukrainian Air Force successfully intercepted and brought down nine out of 15 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia across multiple Ukrainian regions.
In the southern Kherson region, 24 hours of Russian bombardment resulted in one fatality and four injuries, according to Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the regional military administration.
On a positive note, Ukraine declared the capture of a strategically significant hill in the eastern Donetsk region. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared on social media that Ukrainian forces secured this vantage point overlooking the front line near Pivdenne, a mining town northwest of Donetsk city’s Horlivka.
In a separate development, a major outage at Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile network operator, left 24.3 million people without mobile coverage and potential air raid alerts. This incident is believed to be the most extensive cyberattack since Russia initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Kyivstar’s CEO, Oleksandr Komarov, acknowledged the cyber warfare aspect, stating, “War is also happening in cyberspace. Unfortunately, we have been hit as a result of this war.” Ukraine is investigating potential Russian state involvement, and Kyivstar aims to restore services by Wednesday.
According to a recently declassified US intelligence report, approximately 315,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured in the ongoing war in Ukraine. This staggering figure represents nearly 90 percent of the personnel Moscow had at the commencement of the conflict, as revealed by a source familiar with the intelligence, speaking to Reuters news agency.
Furthermore, the report outlines that Russia’s losses, both in personnel and armored vehicles to the Ukrainian military, have significantly impeded Moscow’s military modernization efforts, setting them back by an estimated 18 years. This assessment provides a comprehensive view of the toll the conflict has taken on Russian forces and its potential long-term consequences for the country’s military capabilities.
United States President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy convened at the White House to discuss the crucial need for ongoing US assistance to Ukraine. This meeting occurred amid challenges as US Republicans, seeking to tie funding for Ukraine to new border security measures, blocked billions of dollars in support.
In a subsequent press conference, President Biden emphasized the urgency of maintaining military aid for Ukraine, cautioning that any hindrance from Republicans would essentially present a “Christmas gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He stressed the importance of stopping Putin’s actions to prevent further escalation.
President Zelenskyy provided updates on the situation, noting that around 600,000 Ukrainians were actively engaged in combating Russian forces. He highlighted successes in the Black Sea and the establishment of a new corridor for grain exports. Looking ahead to 2024, Zelenskyy outlined the goal of challenging Russia’s air superiority.
While expressing optimism about the meeting’s outcome, President Zelenskyy directly appealed to the US Congress for new funding. Despite positive signals, House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, expressed skepticism, citing concerns about oversight, a clear strategy, and accountability in the proposed funding. The focus remains on translating positive signals into concrete action, emphasizing the need for a strategic and transparent approach in supporting Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had previously underscored Russia’s close scrutiny of the meeting between Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy, dismissing the prospect of further US military aid to Ukraine as a potential “fiasco.” Peskov claimed that previous billions of dollars in aid had not translated into tangible battlefield improvements for Ukraine.
President Zelenskyy, responding emphatically to suggestions that Ukraine should cede territory for a peace deal, labeled such proposals as “insane.” He emphasized the profound personal and historical significance of Ukraine’s territories, firmly stating, “We are not going to give up territories to terrorists.”
Meanwhile, Poland’s newly-elected Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, asserted that Warsaw would insist on the “full mobilization” of the West to assist Ukraine, emphasizing that there is no viable alternative. Tusk’s statement signals a strong call for collective action in support of Ukraine from the international community.
These key statements capture the geopolitical tension surrounding the US-Ukraine meeting and reflect the contrasting perspectives on military aid, territorial integrity, and the broader international response to the ongoing crisis in the region.
In a bid to further isolate Russia over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States has announced an expansive set of sanctions targeting over 250 individuals and entities, spanning countries including Turkey, China, and the United Arab Emirates.
The journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, detained by Russia in October, faced additional charges of “spreading false information about the Russian army.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), her employer, strongly condemned these charges, with acting president and board member Jeffrey Gedmin asserting, “It is time for this cruel persecution to end.”
In a significant move to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities, the US has unveiled a new $200 million military aid package. This package includes ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), high-speed anti-radiation missiles, and artillery rounds. However, the Biden administration underscored that without prompt Congressional action to pass additional aid, this would be among the last security assistance packages provided to Ukraine. This statement emphasizes the urgency and necessity of ongoing support amid the evolving conflict dynamics.
Source : Al Jazeera