HERE IS THE SITUATION ON MONDAY DECEMBER 25, 2023. (670 DAY)
Russian attacks on southern Ukraine’s Kherson region resulted in the tragic loss of five civilians on Sunday, according to Ukrainian officials. Regional police reported three fatalities in the shelling of an apartment building and a private home in Kherson city. Additionally, a woman lost her life in a drone attack in a small town south of Kherson, while another woman was killed in a town farther north under heavy fire.
In the town of Horlivka, located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region under Russian control, Ukrainian shelling caused the death of one woman and injuries to six civilians, as confirmed by a Russian-installed official. The mayor of Horlivka, Ivan Prikhodko, reported on Telegram that a shopping center and several other buildings were destroyed.
Polish farmers have concluded their blockade of one of the border crossings between Ukraine and Poland, and the movement of lorries has been fully restored, as announced by the Ukrainian border service. The blockade, ongoing since November 6, was a protest demanding the reinstatement of a system requiring permits for Ukrainian companies operating in the EU and vice versa for European truckers entering Ukraine.
Ukrainian Orthodox Christians celebrated services on Sunday as the country marked Christmas on December 25 for the first time, following a government decision to change the date from January 7. This move was seen as a gesture against Russia. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy emphasized unity in a Christmas message, stating, “All Ukrainians are together. We all celebrate Christmas together, on the same date, as one big family, as one nation, as one united country.”
On Sunday, both Russian and Ukrainian military officials reported downing enemy aircraft in different areas of the 1,000-km-long (621-mile) front. The commander of Ukraine’s air force, Mykola Oleshchuk, claimed that Ukrainian anti-aircraft units had struck a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber near the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov in southern Ukraine. Oleshchuk provided no further details on the fate of the aircraft.
The Russian defense ministry, in its daily dispatch, stated that its air defense systems had shot down four Ukrainian military aircraft over the past 24 hours. This came just two days after President Zelenskiy mentioned Kyiv downing three Russian aircraft. The dispatch reported the downing of three Su-27 fighter aircraft and one Su-24 tactical bomber in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions of southeastern Ukraine, providing no further details.
In Moscow, hundreds of supporters rallied on Sunday in backing Igor Girkin, a jailed former commander of Russian-backed fighters in Ukraine, who aims to stand for president. Also known as Igor Strelkov, Girkin was a key leader of separatist fighters in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Detained in July on an extremism charge after criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin, Girkin has been a vocal critic of Russia’s military strategy in Ukraine, deeming it “too kind.”
Russia launched 15 drones at Ukraine, primarily in the south of the country, overnight, with Ukrainian air defenses successfully destroying 14 of them, as reported by the Ukrainian air force on the Telegram messaging app.