As the war enters its 664th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Tuesday, December 19, 2023.
- Ukraine’s Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said the situation on the front line was not at a stalemate, after suggesting last month that it was a possibility. He declined to comment on the coming counteroffensive operations. “This is a war. I can’t say what I plan, what we should do. Otherwise, it will be a show, not a war,” Ukraine’s RBC media quoted him as saying.
- Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, a senior army general who has led counteroffensives against the Russians, told the Reuters news agency that front-line troops faced shortages of artillery shells – particularly Soviet-era 122mm and 152mm ammunition – and had scaled back some military operations because of a shortfall of foreign assistance.
- Zaluzhnyi criticised the president’s decision to fire regional military draft office chiefs. “These were professionals, they knew how to do this, and they are gone,” Interfax Ukraine cited him as saying. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired the country’s regional military recruitment heads in August in a corruption crackdown.
Politics and diplomacy
- Zelenskyy said new sanctions imposed on Moscow by the European Union would “truly reduce” Russia’s ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s diplomatic mission to the EU said the latest action showed previous efforts had failed. The 12th package of sanctions includes a ban on Russian-origin diamonds, additional import and export bans, and a tightening of the rules to close loopholes and combat sanctions circumvention, the EU said.
- The Russian government added the prominent writer Grigory Chkhartishvili – known by his pen name Boris Akunin – to a register of “terrorists and extremists” after he criticised the invasion of Ukraine. The 67-year-old is known for his historical detective novels and his longstanding criticism of President Vladimir Putin.
- United States President Joe Biden said he was planning one more military aid package for Ukraine this month and that further assistance would require agreement in Congress.
- The Alphen Group, made up of more than 40 former top US and NATO diplomats and defence officials, urged the US Congress to approve new aid for Ukraine, warning that if Ukraine failed to win, it would not only be disastrous for Ukraine but also threaten the security of the US and its allies. Republicans earlier this month blocked an emergency spending bill including billions of dollars of aid for Ukraine, demanding tougher steps to control immigration at the US-Mexico border.
- Denmark set aside 1.8 billion Danish crowns ($264m) to help finance a Swedish initiative to donate CV90 armoured combat vehicles to Ukraine, the Danish Defence Ministry said in a statement.