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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 656: Zelenskyy arrives in US, set for strategic discussions with top officials

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Charles Brown. The UK and Norway are creating a new naval coalition to boost security for Ukraine in the Black Sea region. Ukraine continues to make gains on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.

Exclusive

Russia outspends West 2:1 so far in Ukraine war. Experts estimate Moscow’s military spending on Ukraine hits a staggering $200 billion, doubling the West’s $100 billion support to Kyiv. To secure 🇺🇦 success, Western investment must match Moscow’s commitment.

Military

Frontline report: Russia’s new tactic fails repeatedly in Kherson forest. Over two days, Russian forces made multiple attempts at a new tactic to flank entrenched Ukrainian units near Kherson. As a result, the Russians lost 10 out of 11 tanks and 28 out of 31 drones.

Ukraine captures Velykyi Potemkin island on Dnipro’s east bank. Ukrainian forces continue striking Russian positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River and “maintain a sustained high tempo of operations in the area.”

Media: Top Swedish general visits Ukrainian soldiers on a battlefield. The commander in chief of the Swedish armed forces, General Micael Byden, has visited positions of the 45th Separate Artillery Brigade on the front in eastern Ukraine.

As of 11 Dec 2023, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

      • Personnel: 339850 (+1030)
      • Tanks: 5655 (+19)
      • APV: 10560 (+31)
      • Artillery systems: 8070 (+6)
      • MLRS: 919
      • Anti-aircraft systems: 605
      • Aircraft: 324
      • Helicopters: 324
      • UAV: 6154 (+18)
      • Cruise missiles : 1586
      • Warships/boats: 22
      • Submarines: 1
      • Vehicles and fuel tanks: 10636 (+13)

Intelligence and technology

British Intel: Ukraine regains Stepove amid fierce battles for Avdiivka. Avdiivka continues to be the scene of the most intense combat on the front, accounting for “on some days approaching 40 % of all combat engagements.

International

Zelenskyy arrives in US, meets with senior defense officials. Zelenskyy thanked the US “for fulfilling our agreements, especially regarding strengthening our air defense,” and praised Austin and Brown’s “personal leadership.”

UK and Norway create new maritime coalition for Ukraine. A coalition will provide ships and other naval aid which aims to boost Ukraine’s security in the Black Sea region.

Reuters: European lawmakers unite in plea for US military support to Ukraine. Over a hundred senior European lawmakers will send a joint letter to their American counterparts on 12 December, urging the US Congress to provide further military aid to Ukraine.

RFE/RL: Ukrainian president thanks Latin American leaders for support during visit to Argentina. On 10 December, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his first trip to Latin America to meet regional leaders as the country sought support from the world amid Russia’s war, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has informed.

The Hill: Blinken says Russia would be “happy” if US aid bill for Ukraine stalls in Congress. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that the US’s adversaries such as Russia, Iran, and China would be “happy” if the White House aid bill to support Ukraine and Israel stalls in Congress, as per The Hill.

Sweden allocates nearly €120 million to aid Ukraine, focusing on winter support. The funds will be used to support the Ukrainian infrastructure as Russia is conducting a form of “energy terrorism” against Ukraine, Swedish Minister Johan Forssell said.

Humanitarian and social impact

Russia attacks Kyiv with ballistic missiles, injuring 4 people. The air alert was announced after the explosions, as ballistic missiles fly extremely fast and “it takes minutes for Ukraine’s air defense to react and destroy them,” Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman said.

Famous Ukrainian filmmaker Ruslan Volodin dies at frontline. From working behind the scenes on hit movies like Cyborgs and The Sniffer, Ruslan Volodin switched to the frontlines once Russia’s full-scale invasion began, defending Ukraine in the 205th Battalion.

Polish sejm votes out Morawiecki, selects Tusk as new PM. After nine years out of power, Donald Tusk regained Poland’s top office on 11 December with 248 votes from parliament members.

UK launches new unit to intensify pressure on Russian sanction evaders. The Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation is set to bolster enforcement of trade sanctions against Russia. Announced by Minister Nusrat Ghani, this unit will focus on civil enforcement, aiding compliance, and cracking down on sanction evasion.

EU imposes sanctions on individuals and entities linked to Iran’s military support for Russia. The EU announced sanctions against six individuals and five entities linked to Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicles program, which Russia uses it its “illegal, unprovoked, and unjustified” war of aggression against Ukraine.

Ukrainian foreign minister meets with Hungarian counterpart for first time since start of invasion. The officials discussed the updates to Ukrainian legislation on national minorities and also addressed Ukraine beginning its EU accession talks.

New developments

UK commits $4.6 million to support war crimes investigations in Ukraine. The funds will assist Ukraine in documenting, investigating, and prosecuting war crimes committed by the Russian military during the ongoing full-scale invasion.

Slovak carriers resume blocking border crossing for Ukrainian carriers. Over 1200 trucks are in the queue as Slovakian carriers resumed blocking the key Vyšné Nemecké border crossing to Ukrainian freight traffic for the third time over the several weeks.

One Poland-Ukraine border crossing resumes operations following blockade resolution. Dorohusk-Yahodyn crossing on the Polish-Ukrainian border, one of the four checkpoints blocked by Polish truckers, resumes operations, as reported by Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister.

Read our earlier daily review here.

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