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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 662: Battles spill over Russian border – Russian SU-25 downed by own forces

The war spills into Russia, with the insurgent group claiming responsibility for an attack on Belgorod Oblast. Concurrently, Ukrainian Intelligence is suspected in a drone attack on a Russian bomber air base, reportedly part of a joint special operation with the Armed Forces.

Exclusive

Frontline report: Russia continues powerful attacks on the Avdiivka northern frontline despite high casualties. Ukrainian forces conducted a series of missile strikes on the Russian logistics and an airstrike on the Russian command headquarters responsible for the Avdiivka offensive to undermine the offensive.

Military

General Staff: Russia fumbles dual aerial offensives; shoots down its own jet. In the last 24 hours, there were 54 battles between Ukrainian defenders and invading Russian forces along the frontline.

Friendly fire: Russians downed their SU-25 in Eastern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian military sources, Russian anti-aircraft gunners accidentally downed the attack aircraft. Meanwhile, Russian military bloggers claim it was an accident.

Ukrainian Intel suspected in drone attack on Russian bomber air base. The attack was reportedly a joint special operation by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Armed Forces, according to multiple media outlets citing their sources.

Locals terrified as Ukraine war crosses into Russia. Ukrainian intelligence reports combat clashes between Russian forces and ‘opponents of the Kremlin regime’ in the bordering Belgorod region of Russia.

Attack on Russia’s Belgorod Oblast: Insurgent group admits responsibility. The Freedom of Russia Legion, a Russian volunteer group supporting Ukrainian forces, claims responsibility for an attack near the village of Terebreno.

As of 17 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: 346070 (+1250)
      • Tanks: 5739 (+19)
      • APV: 10692 (+25)
      • Artillery systems: 8137 (+37)
      • MLRS: 923 (+3)
      • Anti-aircraft systems: 609 (+4)
      • Aircraft: 324
      • Helicopters: 324
      • UAV: 6278 (+40)
      • Cruise missiles : 1610 (+1)
      • Warships/boats: 22
      • Submarines: 1
      • Vehicles and fuel tanks: 10766 (+56)

Intelligence and Technology

Drones attack Russia’s tactical bomber base in Rostov Oblast (updated). Russia’s MoD claims to have repelled a massive UAV attack from Ukraine, allegedly intercepting and destroying 33 suicide drones. Local sources say one of the attack’s main targets was a bomber air base near Rostov’s Morozovsk.

Ukraine starts mass production of 750 km range “kamikaze” drones. Ukraine’s military receives its first AQ 400 Scythe drones with a remarkable 750 km range; the manufacturer says it produces 100 Scythes monthly and targets 500 units a month, emphasizing local production.

International

IMF chief urges US and EU to seal deals that would unlock aid for Ukraine. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva cautions that failure by the US and EU to swiftly deliver on tens of billions in pledged Ukraine aid could undermine the country’s fragile economic progress.

DW: Kyiv praises Scholz for EU summit move. On 17 December, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised a move by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during the EU summit, which enabled accession talks for Kyiv, Deutsche Welle reports.

Reuters: Pistorius says Europe must rearm as new threats from Russia loom. Russia has hiked its weapons production considerably to sustain its invasion of Ukraine, Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stressed, according to Reuters.

Austria clears EU’s Russia sanctions after Ukraine removes Raiffeisen from blacklist. Austria supports the 12th EU sanctions package on Russia, after Ukraine removes Raiffeisen Bank International from a symbolic blacklist. The bank was the only Austrian company on the list.

Humanitarian and Social Impact

Russian air attack kills civilian as Ukraine downs all 20 Russian Shahed drones, missile. Ukraine destroyed all 20 Russian explosive drones in an overnight aerial attack, but wreckage from one downed drone crashed and killed a civilian in Odesa Oblast.

Marіupol residents on brink as Russian occupation authorities ignore heating crisis. The occupation authorities in the temporarily seized Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, continue to devastate the city, which was almost completely destroyed by Russian forces in 2022, early in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Security alert: Secret recording devices found in office of General Zaluzhnyi. Reports from Ukrainian media, citing military sources, suggest that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi’s office was bugged with one or more devices, now discovered and removed.

Attack on Russia’s Belgorod Oblast: Insurgent group admits responsibility. The Freedom of Russia Legion, a Russian volunteer group supporting Ukrainian forces, claims responsibility for an attack near the village of Terebreno.

UK intel: Russia to extend voting to Ukraine’s occupied areas to legitimize invasion. Russian authorities will extend unfair and controlled 2024 presidential election voting to occupied Ukrainian territories in an effort to legitimize its invasion through rigged pro-Russian results, per UK intelligence.

Media: Kyiv puts head of Russian church on “wanted” list for abetting war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has placed the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who has been a long-time supporter of the Kremlin’s war against Kyiv, on a wanted list for abetting the conflict and spreading Moscow’s propaganda, according to Reuters.

New Developments

Russia pushes passports on occupied Ukrainian nuclear plant. Russia is mounting pressure on Ukrainian nuclear power plant workers who are working at the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to force them to obtain Russian passports by the end of the year.

Russia destroying evidence by flattening occupied Mariupol torture site. Russian occupiers dismantle a section of the building in the Central Police Department of Mariupol, used as a torture site, as reported by Ukrainian authorities.

More than 2000 trucks waiting in line on Polish-Ukrainian border amid blockade. As of the morning of 17 December 2023, three checkpoints on the border with Poland remain blocked by Polish protesters, where more than two thousand trucks are waiting in line.

Third Ukrainian trucker dies due to Polish blockade of Ukraine’s border. The third Ukrainian truck driver has died while stuck in winter conditions amid Polish truckers’ blockade of key border crossings with Ukraine.

Kharkiv presents upgraded armored vehicles, hands over first two cars to military. Scouts of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine received the first two upgraded Dozor-B armored vehicles developed by Kharkiv engineers and made in Ukraine.

Moldova conducts military exercises near Transnistria, adopts a defense strategy, and increases spending. Moldova organized military exercises near the Russian-controlled proxy Transnistria, 22 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Activists demand Russia’s exclusion from the 2024 Olympics. Ukraine’s supporters have placed a petition on Change.org, demanding to ban Russian athletes from participating in the 2024 Paris Olympics under the Russian flag, or any other “false flag”.

The Guardian: Putin warns of “problems” to come on Finland-Russia border after Helsinki joins NATO. US President Joe Biden has said Russia might be planning new wars “if Putin takes Ukraine,” as per The Guardian.

Budget committee: Ukraine counts on financial aid from EU, US but prepares for delay. Roksolana Pidlasa, MP and head of the budget committee of the Ukrainian Parliament, said the country counts on financial aid from partner countries but is already preparing for the challenging first quarter of 2024 due to delays.

Read our earlier daily review here.

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