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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 663: Ukraine scales back some military operations amid artillery shortages

Ukrainian troops are reducing some military operations due to artillery shells shortage and a drop in foreign aid. Meanwhile, the Pentagon signals the imminent exhaustion of its funds designated for Ukrainian military assistance, expected to run out by 30 December.

Military

Commander: Ukrainian troops face artillery shortages, scale back some operations. Frontline Ukrainian troops battling Russia’s invasion are grappling with a shortage of artillery shells, forcing them to scale back military operations as foreign aid support experiences a significant drop, a Ukrainian commander says.

US funding for Ukraine to run out by 30 December, Pentagon warns. “It is essential that Congress act without delay on the Administration’s pending supplemental request,” Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord stated, highlighting the urgency to secure additional funding for Ukraine’s defense.

Frontline report: Russian convoy destroyed in Synkivka forest ambush near Kharkiv’s Kupiansk. Repeated Russian infantry and armor attacks on Synkivka result in temporary footholds, but Ukrainian defenders hold most positions, destroying reinforcement convoys with artillery and anti-tank weapons.

As of 18 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: 347160 (+1090)
      • Tanks: 5783 (+44)
      • APV: 10752 (+60)
      • Artillery systems: 8175 (+38)
      • MLRS: 926 (+3)
      • Anti-aircraft systems: 610 (+1)
      • Aircraft: 324
      • Helicopters: 324
      • UAV: 6290 (+12)
      • Cruise missiles : 1610
      • Warships/boats: 22
      • Submarines: 1
      • Vehicles and fuel tanks: 10822 (+56)

Intelligence and technology

UK intel: Russian Shtorm-Z convict soldiers deployed with unhealed wounds. Russian Shtorm-Z units mostly comprising convict recruits are being deployed with untreated injuries, exacerbating the strain on both military and home units, per UK intelligence.

Ukrainian Cobra fixed-wing suicide drone achieves rapid production. Ukrainian engineers have developed and launched the Cobra fixed-wing “kamikaze” drone manufacturing, with a 300 km operational range and 15 kg payload capacity, using riveted steel construction for rapid and affordable production.

Ukraine orders millions worth of artillery ammo from Rheinmetall. Ukraine orders artillery ammunition from Rheinmetall to replenish stocks. The multi-million euro deal, includes various shell types for the Ukrainian Armed Forces and continues the framework agreement with the Bundeswehr.

International

EU adopts 12th package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia. EU ramps up pressure on Russia with its 12th sanctions package with diamond import ban, tightened import-export controls, and enhanced enforcement measures to weaken Russia’s military capabilities.

CNN: Ukraine aid will run out at the end of the month, White House warns. White House warns final US military aid package for Ukraine will be sent later this month unless Congress authorizes additional assistance, with defense funds depleted.

Lithuania, Sweden, and Canada join forces to support Ukraine’s transportation sector. The Common Interest Group for Ukraine (CIG4U) aims to foster development in Ukraine’s road and railway freight transportation sectors.

Denmark, Sweden to provide Ukraine with additional infantry fighting vehicles. Denmark allocates 1.8 billion DKK (about $250M), covering vehicles, spare parts, ammo, and maintenance.

Humanitarian and social impact

Ukrainian mobile machine gun units down five Russia’s explosive drones. Russia stages a drone attack on Ukraine, launching five Shahed UAVs, a smaller assault compared to previous days. Ukrainian air defenses intercept all dive explosive drones.

Metinvest: Avdiivka Coking Plant beyond repair due to Russian attacks. Its largest consumers of coke were Azovstal and Illich Iron and Steel Works of Mariupol, which are not expected to resume operations in the foreseeable future.

Historic agreement: Germany to deploy troops in Lithuania to reinforce NATO flank. About 5,000 German soldiers will form a brigade in Lithuania from 2024, reaching full strength by 2027, strengthening NATO’s eastern flank with Russia.

First UK trade mission to Ukraine boosts defense cooperation. UK defense trade mission to Ukraine leads to major agreements: Contracts for vessel maintenance, specialized artillery support, and a collaborative engineering initiative to strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities.

New developments

General Staff affirms eavesdropping equipment discovery in Zaluzhny’s office. Confirming earlier media coverage, Ukraine’s General Staff has acknowledged the discovery of listening equipment in Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhny’s office. Zaluzhnyi gave more details.

Massive Russian disinfo campaign targeted former Ukraine’s Defense Minister on TikTok. A joint DFRLab and BBC Verify investigation has exposed a Russian disinformation operation on TikTok that used about 12,800 accounts to falsely accuse Oleksii Reznikov, former Defense Minister of Ukraine, of corruption.

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