- Russian proxies launch 8 attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol sectors, incl heavy artillery and weapons banned by Minsk.
1 Ukrainian soldier wounded
- As of 19:30 Dec 13, OSCE SMM recorded 127 violations, incl 11 explosions in Donetsk Obl; 126 violations, incl 18 explosions in Luhansk Obl.
- Gunfire directed at SMM UAV at non-gov’t-controlled Zhovte, Luhansk Obl.
- Russian-led militants denied SMM passage at Zolote & Molodizhne, Luhansk Obl.
- NATO SecGeneral Stoltenberg to meet President Zelenskyy on December 16, 2021. No details disclosed. Talks will take place amid a worsening situation on the Ukrainian border.
- Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of National Security and Defense Council, in briefing: “Is there currently a threat to our country? Of course there is. It’s constant. Since 2014, we’ve been actively engaged with the RF. But, we are not to blame; we haven’t attacked anyone. We’re monitoring the situation. It’s under control.”
EU Eastern Partnership Summit
is taking place in Brussels, dedicated to the six Eastern Partnership countries — Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Belarus, and Azerbaijan. The six Eastern Partnership countries started out with similar intentions — Eurointegration– but with time, their positions shifted. Currently, Belarus has suspended cooperation with Brussels altogether; Armenia and Azerbaijan exclude the signing of Association Agreements and do not cooperate with each other.
Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have formed the so-called Associated Trio to pursue Eurointegration more closely.
On the sidelines of the summit, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who hosted an Associated trio leaders’ meeting, called for giving Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova the prospect of EU membership.
Also, the countries of the “Associated Trio” in the framework of the Eastern Partnership — Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia — for the first time agreed to cooperate on the path to EU membership. This is stated in a joint declaration signed by the leaders of the three countries, agreed on Wednesday in Brussels.
The entire summit also adopted a joint declaration acknowledging the creation of an “associated trio” format for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. This decision was taken unanimously by all EU member states, making it less ambitious than the trio’s own declaration.
Also, Slovenia, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, has become the 7th EU country to sign bilateral declarations recognizing Ukraine’s European perspective, President Zelenskyy tweeted. The other 6 countries are Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, and Croatia.
As well, during the summit, Berlin, Paris, and Kyiv agreed to continue working in the Normandy format, seeking to revive talks with Russia while keeping up pressure on Moscow to deter what the West says may be preparations for a new attack on Ukrainian territory.
US to allocate $ 300 million to Ukraine for military aid
American senators on Wednesday, December 15, approved the draft defense budget for 2022 in the amount of $ 778 billion, providing for the allocation of $ 300 million to support Ukraine. The document was adopted by 89 votes to 10. After that, the defense budget totaling $ 770 billion was sent to the signature of President Joe Biden. The draft budget provides for the allocation of $ 300 million to support Ukraine, which is $ 50 million more than President Biden requested, including $ 75 million for lethal weapons.
EU warns Russia of “unprecedented measures with serious consequences″
The chief of the European Union’s executive warned Russia on Wednesday that the bloc has a battery of additional sanctions ready if Moscow decides to invade neighboring Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said beyond scaling up and expanding existing sanctions, the EU can adopt “unprecedented measures with serious consequences for Russia.″
Big EU States Resist Push for Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine
Leading nations of the European Union are resisting a push to quickly draw up specific sanctions and other punishments to impose on Russia if it invades Ukraine, even as the Kremlin shows no sign of backing off a massive troop buildup near its neighbor.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain want to focus now on talking to Moscow before laying out details of painful economic measures they’d trigger. But other member states argue that backing up the public threats of sanctions would better deter Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to senior diplomats and officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, Bloomberg writes.
In first conviction for Donbas war crimes, Ukrainian court sentences aide of Russian FSB Colonel Bezler to 11 years
Ukraine has issued the first sentence for war crimes committed during the war in Donbas. Viktor Mykhed, a Ukrainian citizen who joined the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DNR”) in 2014, was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in Sloviansk, less than 100 km from the territory of the “DNR,” which is uncontrolled by the Ukrainian government.
The court found him guilty of joining the “communications” department which conducted “information activities” curated by Igor Bezler, Lieutenant Colonel of the FSB of the Russian Federation. During the early phases of the “DNR” in 2014-2016, Bezler was a prominent commander of the so-called “self-defense” of Donbas whose group controlled the local police department in Horlivka. The group he controlled (“Bezler group”) is accused of committing heavy crimes on Ukrainian territory: brutal murders, seizure of state power, terrorism, and others.
A UN report from 2016 accused the group of torturing and brutally raping two women and seizing their property.
Russia brings posthumous criminal charges against the refugee it killed in occupied Crimea
Russia has brought criminal charges against Nabi Rakhimov many months after its enforcement officers killed the Uzbek refugee, who was living peacefully in occupied Crimea with his wife and two underage children. The FSB are claiming that Rakhimov “used force against representatives of the authorities carrying out their duties’ (Article 318 of Russia’s criminal code) and was killed in the confrontation. There was, however, no reason for the armed operation against Rakhimov and his family, let alone for him to have shown any resistance against a large contingent of armed officers.
The Kovtun: meet the artistic gymnastics element just named after 18-year-old Ukrainian
The International Gymnastics Federation has officially named a new gymnastic element performed on parallel bars the Kovtun after the Ukrainian18-year-old athlete Illia Kovtun, among five new elements named for their creators in the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Code of Points.
Oleksandr Harkusha – a young cadet who lost his fingers to save the lives of 5 children
Meet Oleksandr Harkusha, a young cadet who saved the lives of 5 children! But, in doing so, he lost his fingers.
Oleksandr Harkusha was walking by a playground, when suddenly he noticed a little boy holding a grenade! Giving it no thought, the young man snatched it from the boy’s hand. Unfortunately, the grenade detonated…
“In our military lyceum we were told that a grenade usually detonates in 4 seconds. I didn’t have time…”
Oleksandr lost 4 fingers. The boy’s life was saved by his father, who had just returned from the front.
“Dad ran to get his first aid kit and the injection saved me.” As soon as Oleksandr regained consciousness, he asked about the children’s health.
Today, the young man continues his studies at the military lyceum. However, due to his injury, his dream of becoming a reconnaissance officer is almost impossible. But, Oleksandr was the first 17-year-old to be awarded the Order of Courage! Congratulations, Oleksandr!!!
Kyiv authorities publish map of bomb shelters
Analysis worth noting
How to de-escalate Russia: Ukrainian advice
“From the Russian point of view, deterrence is not only and not so much about military plans and the availability of weapons. Deterrence for Russians is about the psychology and application of reflexive control, the hidden influence on the decision-making process.
This influence of the Russian Federation is exercised, inter alia, through the publication of strategic military documents, military exercises, public and non-public statements of its diplomats.”
Ukrainian hybrid war analyst Oleksandr Danyliuk weighs in on the Russian troop buildup’s goals and how the West should respond.
RUSSIAN DECEPTION OPS RAISE RISK OF SURPRISE ATTACK ON UKRAINE
Russia has positioned enough military firepower near Ukraine to launch a major offensive on short order. Yet, despite the public nature of the buildup — much of which has been documented in detail on social media — some experts warn that a surprise attack is still possible, writes Nolan Peterson.
“What the deployments suggest to me is that they are looking to keep the timing, final disposition of forces, and likely vectors hidden,” said Michael Kofman, director of the CNA Corp.’s Russia Center and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Kennan Institute.