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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 659: EU approves Ukraine membership talks despite Hungarian resistance

In a historic step, the European Council voted Thursday to begin EU membership negotiations with war-torn Ukraine. The decision was made despite the objections of Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who exited a room as the vote was held.

Exclusive

Russia’s war: an attack on Europe. Despite the pandemic of German “useful idiot” pacifists, Europe must be defended – by unreserved military support for Ukraine until its victory.
Russian explosive drone crashes in Romania, NATO doesn’t see attack as intentional. Another Russia’s drone crashed inside the NATO territory, in the area of Grindu in Romania’s Tulcea county, leaving behind a 1.5 m deep crater.
“Putin at the table” as EU scrambles to persuade Orban at crucial summit. The EU’s financial and political support for Ukraine is in the air as leaders settle in for long and difficult talks in Brussels, with a 20-30% chance of success

Military

Ukraine downs one of three Russian Kinzhal missiles targeting airfield with Storm Shadow carriers. Today Russia launched a missile strike on Kyiv and Starokostiantyniv, firing three Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles. Ukrainian air defense forces intercepted one of the Kinzhals,

British Intel: Russian soldiers suffer heavy losses in combat near Krynky, east bank of Dnipro river. Russia’s newly formed 104th Guards Airborne Division likely endured “exceptionally heavy losses” and failed to meet its objectives, the UK Defense Ministry reported.

ISW: Russia make marginal gains near Avdiivka. Over the past several days, Ukrainian defenders repelled over 70 Russian attacks near Avdiivka, where fighting has emerged as some of the most intense since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

Intelligence and technology

Germany to send tracked all-terrain vehicles, over 7,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition to Ukraine. On 14 December, Germany announced a new military aid package for Ukraine. The assistance includes a Patriot air defense system, capable of intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles, and additional rounds of 155mm ammunition.

US approves record $ 886 bn defense budget, Ukraine aid considered separately. It’s the US’s largest military budget in history, in which Ukraine would receive $300 million for its battle against invading Russian forces.

International

Zelenskyy visits command of the US Army Europe in Germany. On 14 December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the command of the US Army Europe and Africa in Wiesbaden, Germany, following his visit to Norway.

Reuters: Austria seeks removal of Raiffeisen from Ukraine blacklist in exchange for Russia sanctions support. While Austria publicly backs Ukraine, officials admitted anonymously that they remain reluctant to fully cut long-standing relations with Moscow, Reuters stated.

Zelenskyy visits Germany amid EU talks on Ukraine support in Brussels. Ukrainian President paid an unscheduled visit to Germany after EU leaders declined to invite him to Brussels, allegedly over concerns regarding Hungarian PM Viktor Orban’s reaction.

Australia commits additional $ 126 mn to train Ukrainian soldiers. Over the next year, 90 Australian Defence Force instructors per rotation will expand training for Ukrainian soldiers in the UK.

“Historic moment” as European Council decides to open accession talks with Ukraine. Hungarian PM Orban stepped out of the room as the decision was being made

Humanitarian and social impact

Russian military used Ukrainian POWs as human shields, Prosecutor’s Office confirms. Zaporizhzhia Regional Prosecutor’s Office initiates a criminal investigation following RFE/RL’s release of footage on 13 Dec showing unarmed Ukrainian POWs being led at gunpoint by Russian troops as shields in an attack on Ukrainian positions.

Ukraine returns 5 children from Russia-occupied territories. According to Ukrainian authorities, Russia illegally deported nearly 20,000 children from Ukraine. Ukrainian human rights advocates say the number of children forcibly displaced from Ukraine is “hundreds of thousands.”

Former Lithuanian foreign minister says Orban wants to undermine EU. “The EU is being forced to transfer from a union of values into a market where the right to act without the rules can be bought at the expense of those values. Orbán is not going to change. His goal (or maybe someone else’s task?) is to ruin the entire EU. We must stop it,” the diplomat wrote on X.

Zelenskyy: Putin will win at EU summit if leaders hesitate. “Europe must win, agreements must be honored, and words must matter,” Zelenskyy said.

New developments

UK escalates sanctions against Russia, targeting metal and diamond imports. In a bid to starve Russia’s war machine, the UK is extending its export bans on dual-use items to Russia, in addition to banning certain metal and diamond imports, while also imposing stricter reporting rules on Russian assets held in the UK.

Sweden approves €124 mn winter aid package for Ukraine. The Swedish government has authorized a €124 million winter aid package for Ukraine, underscoring its significance in bolstering civil infrastructure.

Bulgarian Parliament approves EUR 3.6 bn aid package for Ukraine. Bulgaria’s National Assembly officially approves EUR 3.6 billion aid package for Ukraine, reinforcing their role in supporting Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

Estonia rolls out new €80 million aid package for Ukraine. The newest aid package includes Javelin anti-tank missiles, machine guns, ammunition for light weaponry, various vehicles and vessels, as well as diving equipment.

Finland reopens two border crossings with Russia. Two checkpoints are to be opened for a month. However, if there is an influx of Russian, Middle Eastern, African, and other migrants to the Finnish border, the Finnish government is ready to close the checkpoints again, YLE reports.

Read our earlier daily review here.

As of 14 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: 342800 (+1300)
    • Tanks: 5692 (+10)
    • APV: 10616 (+22)
    • Artillery systems: 8088 (+12)
    • MLRS: 920 (+1)
    • Anti-aircraft systems: 605
    • Aircraft: 324
    • Helicopters: 324
    • UAV: 6206 (+33)
    • Cruise missiles : 1606 (+10)
    • Warships/boats: 22
    • Submarines: 1
    • Vehicles and fuel tanks: 10675 (+13)
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