HERE IS THE SITUATION ON SUNDAY DECEMBER 17, 2023. (662 DAY)
President Zelensky Commends Ukrainian Air Defense
In his recent video address, President Zelensky commended the Ukrainian air defense for intercepting 104 out of 112 Iranian Shahed kamikaze drones launched by Russia in the past week. Stressing the significance of each interception in saving lives and infrastructure, Zelensky thanked the Air Defense Forces for their efforts. He also highlighted the successful defense against ballistic missiles using systems like Patriot, NASAMS, and Cheetah provided by Ukraine’s partners, emphasizing the need for ongoing improvements in air defenses.
Russian Airstrike Claims a Life in Odesa Region
Governor Oleg Kiper reported one casualty in a Russian airstrike in Ukraine’s Odesa region. Ukrainian air force confirmed the destruction of 20 drones, with nine Iranian-made drones targeted over Odesa. Tragically, one downed drone exploded in a residential area, causing damage and claiming a life. The air force also reported the successful interception of a Russian cruise missile, countering additional drone and missile threats across various regions.
Putin’s Response to Finland Joining NATO
President Putin expressed concern over Finland joining NATO, citing the impact on Russo-Finnish relations. Putin announced the creation of the Leningrad Military District, concentrating military units in response to Finland’s NATO entry. Despite past positive relations, Putin anticipates challenges due to this geopolitical shift.
Putin Dismisses Biden’s Concerns about NATO Attack
Putin dismissed President Biden’s statement suggesting a potential Russian attack on a NATO country if successful in Ukraine as “complete nonsense.” Putin emphasized Russia’s lack of interest or reason to engage in military conflict with NATO members, attributing Biden’s remarks to a flawed policy. The Russian president insisted on Russia’s commitment to peace and criticized the unsubstantiated nature of Biden’s warning.
Kuleba Praises Scholz’s Diplomatic Move at EU Summit
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s tactful approach at the EU summit, facilitating talks for Ukraine’s EU accession. Kuleba commended Scholz’s diplomatic leadership in overcoming Hungary’s veto threat, describing it as a historic act in the interest of Europe. The EU summit deadlock on Ukraine’s accession talks was resolved when Scholz suggested Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban temporarily leave the meeting, allowing consensus to be reached.
Raiffeisen Removed from Blacklist as Austria Approves Sanctions
Austria approved the EU’s 12th package of sanctions against Russia after Ukraine removed Raiffeisen Bank International from its blacklist of “international war sponsors.” Austria’s support came after Ukraine’s move, indicating a connection between the two events. Raiffeisen, willing to spin off its Russian business, faced pressure from international regulators. Austria’s approval of sanctions underscores the impact on companies supporting Russia’s war efforts, even if the blacklist isn’t legally binding. The removal of Raiffeisen from the list also paves the way for further EU cooperation.