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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 665: Russia preps Avdiivka offensive as White House urges faster Ukraine funding 

In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces repelled 29 Russian attacks east of the Dnipro River in 89 frontline battles, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. Meanwhile, the White House alerts to Russia’s readiness for a major offensive in Avdiivka.

Military

Ukrainian forces fend off 29 Russian attacks East of Dnipro River, says General Staff. In the last 24 hours, there were 89 battles between Ukrainian defenders and invading Russian forces along the frontline.

Russia preparing major offensive in Avdiivka as ground freezes, warns White House. White House National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby has urged the US Congress to approve funding for Ukraine as swiftly as possible.

Frontline report: Disjointed Russian attacks stall against stubborn Ukrainian defenses north of Avdiivka. Disjointed Russian assaults fail to dislodge Ukrainian defenses north of Donetsk’s Avdiivka as Russians take heavy losses from firm Ukrainian positions and drone strikes.

UK intel: Ukraine pivots to defense, rapidly bolstering defenses. With troops moving to defensive posture in war, Ukraine intensively bolsters fortifications like anti-tank ditches on frontlines and border with Belarus to shore up defenses against Russia, as per UK intelligence.

Ukrainian air defenses down 18/19 Russian suicide drones launched from occupied Crimea. Russian forces again used occupied Crimea to launch overnight drone attack across Ukraine, employing 19 drones targeting multiple regions; Ukraine’s air defenders downed 18 of the UAVs, as per Ukraine’s Air Force.

First NATO-Ukraine Council meeting with Chiefs of Defence. Formed at the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, the NATO-Ukraine Council replaced the 1997 NATO-Ukraine Commission.

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

Lithuania sends field equipment, rations to Ukraine. Lithuania’s ongoing support for Ukraine includes the delivery of field equipment and dry rations, alongside ammunition and training assistance.

US strengthens sanctions on Russian oil. The US Treasury updated recommendations for capping Russian oil prices, but the impact on the effectiveness of these sanctions remains uncertain.

Czech volunteers plan fleet of 10,000 FPV drones for Ukraine. The NGO headed by the Czech Republic’s Chief of the General Staff, Karel Řehka, is to raise millions of dollars for the drone purchase.

Ukraine’s Cobra drone now in serial production. According to the developers, their primary goal is to enhance safety by replacing human roles with robots, reducing risks, and promoting more secure and efficient operations.

Ukraine aims to produce 1 million FPV drones and thousands of advanced UAVs in 2024. During his press conference on 19 December, President Zelenskyy promised that Ukraine would manufacture one million drones in 2024. However, Zelenskyy was referring specifically to FPV drones, and the government says the number will be even higher.

Japan to change rules, export Patriots to enable US to send more to Ukraine. Japan plans major policy shift on defense exports that would permit supplying Patriot missiles to the US, freeing up more for Ukraine’s strained air defenses.

International

France to welcome first Ukrainian pilots for training in early 2024. France will train Ukrainian pilots starting 2024 and continue military training programs for Ukrainian troops under EU assistance mission, while supplying weapons and equipment.

Polish court convicts 14 Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians of spying for Russia. A court in Lublin, Poland has convicted 14 Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian citizens of spying for Russia. The defendants were sentenced to between 1 year and 6 years in prison for carrying out surveillance and other intelligence tasks.

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.

Humanitarian and Social Impact

Russians destroy Red Cross humanitarian aid warehouse in Kherson (photo). Russian army launched an attack on a Kherson humanitarian aid warehouse, leading to its complete destruction, as confirmed by the Red Cross of Ukraine. There were no reported casualties in this attack.

Slovakia to block Ukraine’s NATO membership, says PM Fico. Robert Fico believes that Ukraine’s NATO membership could lead to a third world war.

Duda: Ukraine in NATO, EU vital for Poland’s security. According to the Polish President, Ukraine joining NATO would move the Alliance’s eastern flank away from Poland.

German prosecutors break new ground with request to seize Russian entity’s €720 million. Germany’s Chief Federal Prosecutor takes a historic move to seize €720 million in Russian assets held by a Moscow exchange subsidiary in a German bank account. This comes in response to a company’s attempt to hide funds, signaling a major shift from asset freezing.

Read our earlier daily review here.

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