As the war enters its 652nd day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Thursday, December 7, 2023.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians that Kyiv would defeat Russia and win a fair peace in an unusual early-morning video that showed him walking through Kyiv on his way to pay his respects to fallen soldiers on what Ukraine marks as Armed Forces Day. “It has been difficult, but we have persevered,” he said. “No matter how difficult it is, we will get there. To our borders, to our people. To our peace. Fair peace. Free peace. Against all odds.”
- Russia launched a major drone attack on southern, central and eastern Ukrainian regions, damaging privately owned and commercial buildings as well as key infrastructure. Air defences shot down 41 of 48 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched from Russia’s western Kursk region and Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.
- Russian television broadcast footage of what it said was a US-built Bradley infantry fighting vehicle captured on the front line in Ukraine’s Luhansk region. Channel 1 said the Bradley, one of several dozen supplied to Ukraine this year, was immobilised by Russian fire and abandoned by its crew. The broadcaster suggested that its capture would enable Russian forces to identify the vehicle’s vulnerabilities.
Politics and diplomacy
- Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries met virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show of solidarity and agreed to a new ban on Russian diamonds. The countries will ban non-industrial Russian diamonds by January and those sold by third countries from March, they said in a joint statement. The G7 includes Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Legislation to provide $106bn in new security assistance for Ukraine and Israel was blocked in the US Senate as Republicans pressed their demands for tougher measures to control immigration at the US border with Mexico.
- Illia Kyva, a former pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament sentenced in absentia to 14 years in prison for charges including treason and incitement to violence, was shot dead near Moscow. News agencies, including Reuters and AFP, quoted sources saying Kyva was killed by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
- Oleg Popov, a deputy in the pro-Moscow regional parliament in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine, was killed in a car bombing. Ukraine did not immediately comment on Popov’s reported death.
- The US charged four Russia-affiliated soldiers with war crimes over their treatment of a US citizen kidnapped from his home in the village of Mylove in southern Ukraine in April 2022 and held captive for 10 days. The Justice Department accused the four of beating and torturing the man, who was not named, and staging a mock execution.
- Kathmandu District Police Chief Bhupendra Khatri said 10 people had been arrested in connection with the illegal recruitment of young men from Nepal into the Russian army. The country this week told Moscow not to recruit its citizens into the Russian army, and to send home any Nepali soldier in its ranks after six citizens were killed while fighting in Ukraine.
- The UK announced 46 new measures against individuals and groups it said were involved in Russia’s military supply chains. Those sanctioned included businesses operating in China, Turkey, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan, Britain’s foreign ministry said. The Chinese embassy in London said it condemned the move and would counter anything that undermined its interests.
- Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon as Austin announced an additional new $175m aid package for Kyiv, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, and also anti-armour systems and high-speed anti-radiation missiles. The package will be provided through presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, which takes weapons from existing US stockpiles
- A joint US-Ukraine defence conference was held behind closed doors in Washington. Zelenskyy told delegates that Kyiv was ramping up domestic military production. “Ukraine does not wish to rely solely on partners. Ukraine aspires to and is capable of becoming a security donor to all of our neighbours once it has ensured its own safety,” he said.
- At the conference, representatives from the US and Ukrainian governments signed an agreement to ramp up weapons co-production and data sharing. Areas of concentration include “air defence systems, repair and sustainment and production of critical munitions”, Jason Israel, the White House National Security Council’s Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, told the audience.
- The Reuters news agency, citing documents it had seen, said officials from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence also presented a new list of US weapons it says it needs to fight the Russian military. The list included sophisticated air defence systems, F-18 fighter jets, a variety of drones, and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.