|US aid to Ukraine: big wins on a small budget. While questions arise about the scale of US aid to Ukraine, the truth is that Kyiv has strategically utilized these funds to yield an extraordinary return on investment. With less than 0.2% of the total US budget over two years, Ukraine has effectively neutralized up to 50% of Russia’s military, standing as a cost-effective bulwark against Russian aggression.
Zelenskyy: Military proposes to mobilize up to 500,000 more people. Zelenskyy stressed the importance of establishing a strategic plan before he can “support this direction.”
General Staff: Ukrainian forces repel eight Russian attacks on Dnipro’s east bank. In the last 24 hours, there were 69 combat clashes between Ukrainian defenders and invading Russian troops along the frontline.
Frontline report: Russian commanders set sights on Novomykhailivka after multiple failed offensives. This week, Ukrainian forces beat back two Russian assaults on Novomykhailivka, the eastern village in Donetsk Oblast, which serves as the main supply hub of the Ukrainian positions. The situation is expected to remain difficult
As of 19 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: 348300 (+1140)
- Tanks: 5798 (+15)
- APV: 10771 (+19)
- Artillery systems: 8190 (+15)
- MLRS: 926
- Anti-aircraft systems: 611 (+1)
- Aircraft: 324
- Helicopters: 324
- UAV: 6299 (+9)
- Cruise missiles : 1611 (+1)
- Warships/boats: 22
- Submarines: 1
- Vehicles and fuel tanks: 10842 (+20)
Intelligence and technology
Zelenskyy: Ukraine to produce 1 million drones next year. Zelenskyy assures that Ukrainian military brigades will receive domestically produced drones, highlighting a significant push in UAV manufacturing.
Defense Ministry: Ukraine ramping up production of kamikaze drones due to shell shortages. Ukraine responds to artillery shell shortages by intensifying kamikaze drone production, focusing on defense industry collaboration with Western companies, as per Deputy Defense Minister.
UK intel: Russia’s first use of Kinzhal missile in months results in missed targets and interceptions in Ukraine. Russia launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles at a Ukrainian airfield last week for the first time since August. Missiles missed, and Ukraine intercepted some, 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.
Europe must urgently prepare for potential Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank, Belgian Admiral says. Belgian army chief cautions that Russia’s bellicose language and switch to a war footing suggest the possibility of new fronts opening against Moldova or the Baltic states. He urges Europe to urgently bolster military readiness.
Telegraph: UK to enhance Ukraine’s naval strength in decade-long security pact. Under the upcoming security agreement, the UK will provide Ukraine with naval assets, intelligence sharing, and financial aid.
US Senate Republicans say no Christmas deal for Ukraine, border. US Senate Republicans anticipate no agreement before Christmas on Ukraine aid and border security reforms, citing ongoing disagreements between White House and Senate negotiators.
FT: EBRD shareholders back €4 bn capital increase for Ukraine. EBRD shareholders approve €4 billion capital increase enabling bank to double annual lending to Ukraine to €3 billion, supporting critical infrastructure and exports during war.
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.
Humanitarian and social impact
UN: Russia committed serious war crimes in Ukraine. UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk accuses Russian forces of war crimes in Ukraine, citing 142 civilian executions, disappearances, torture, and sexual violence cases as major breaches of international law.
Political and legal developments
Polish truckers resume Yahodyn-Dorohusk border blockade. After a days-long pause, Polish truckers have again blocked freight traffic on the road to the Yahodyn-Dorohusk border crossing into Ukraine, hampering the passage of military assistance.
Zelenskyy addresses key issues in year-end press conference. Zelenskyy addresses concerns related to mobilization and announces forthcoming changes to the mobilization system by the military leadership.
NYT: Russia bypasses sanctions for Western electronics via Morocco. Correspondence obtained by The New York Times reveals Russia’s strategy of using Morocco’s ports to circumvent sanctions and acquire Western electronics.
French retailer Decathlon keeps trading in Russia despite exit claims – Disclose. Disclose investigation outlet reveals that Decathlon, after announcing its departure from Russia, continues to supply products through Desport stores using a network of shell companies.
Ukrainians can now digitally trade cars through state’s Diia app. The online portal will also enable exchanging the eRecovery housing certificate for housing. In 2023, the program’s mechanism paid 795 mn UAH ($21 mn) to Ukrainian families to repair or reconstruct their war-damaged properties
Read our earlier daily review here.