‘Immigration reform’ stalls congressional aid package to Ukraine.
Putin has signed a decree to add another 170K troops to the Russian army. Most of these are likely to come from ethnic minorities.
Is the Sea of Azov more real than actual or more actual than real.
Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine on the night of December 4 and 5. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces launched 17 Shahed-136/-131 drones from Kursk Oblast and Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar Krai, and six S-300 missiles at targets in Ukraine and that Ukrainian air defenses shot down 10 of the drones. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that the Russian missiles targeted civilian objects in Donetsk and Kherson oblasts. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian drones struck civilian residences and infrastructure in Lviv Oblast and Izyum and Chuhuiv raions, Kharkiv Oblast.
The year now stands to end with Russian President Vladimir Putin more certain than ever that he can wait out a fickle West and fully absorb the Ukrainian territory already seized by his troops.
Ukraine’s top national security leaders are in Washington this week for a series of critical meetings with their U.S. and NATO counterparts as Kyiv seeks to become a weapons-building powerhouse once again.
The meetings, which begin Wednesday, have major implications for not only the war, but also for Ukraine’s ability to manufacture arms in the coming years. With the war at a standstill and concern building over long-term Western support for Kyiv, the gathering is likely a barometer for what that support will look like in the months and years ahead.
The Ukrainian delegation is being led by presidential adviser Andriy Yermak, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and Alexander Kamyshin, minister of strategic industries. After meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday, they’ll spend Wednesday and Thursday huddling with their counterparts from the White House, Pentagon, Commerce and State departments as well as key NATO members and executives from the largest defense firms.
The European Union countries have significantly increased spending on defense equipment due to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Janes reported on this.
Total defense spending across the European Union in 2022 was €240 billion—a 6% increase compared to 2021, according to the European Defence Agency’s (EDA’s) new annual report, Defence Data 2022.
This figure is a record high in absolute terms for the 27 member states of the European Union. Despite this, the overall expenditure rate in individual countries still did not reach the NATO target of 2% of GDP.
- Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted successful drone strikes against Russian military targets in occupied Crimea on the night of December 4 to 5.
- Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine on the night of December 4 and 5.
- The Russian State Duma will reportedly consider a proposed bill that would recognize the Sea of Azov as an internal Russian body of water, likely setting conditions to coerce recognition of Russia’s illegal annexation of occupied Crimea and Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Donetsk oblasts.
- Russian State Duma Deputy representing occupied Crimea Mikhail Sheremet stated on December 5 that the Duma will try to adopt a proposed bill that would formally designate the Sea of Azov as an internal water of Russia by the end of 2023. Russia and Ukraine signed and ratified a treaty in 2003 and 2004 that included stipulations that the Sea of Azov is a historically internal water of both Russia and Ukraine and that vessels flying Ukrainian or Russian flags in the Sea of Azov enjoy freedom of navigation. The Ukrainian Rada denounced the treaty in February 2023, stating that Russia had violated the stipulation that all issues concerning the Sea of Azov should be resolved by peaceful, bilateral means and that the treaty’s authorization of Russian warships to freely navigate the sea posed a threat to Ukrainian national security. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in June 2023 that also denounced the treaty, claiming that Ukraine lost its status as a littoral state of the Sea of Azov when Russia (illegally) annexed Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts in 2022. The proposed bill likely portends a series of corresponding Russian administrative measures that would require maritime traffic en route to or from ports on the Sea of Azov to formally recognize the sea as a Russian internal body of water and, therefore, to de facto recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories.
- Russian opposition party Yabloko founder Grigory Yavlinsky advocated for a ceasefire in Ukraine as part of his presidential bid likely in an attempt to distinguish himself from Russian President Vladimir Putin and give voice to Russians who support a ceasefire.
- The Kremlin may be strategically allowing Yavlinsky to criticize the Russian government in order to preserve its veneer of electoral legitimacy and to delegitimize possible support for a ceasefire among factions in the Kremlin.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized the benefits that migrants provide to the Russian economy, while promoting ongoing efforts to Russify migrants in Russia and citizens of post-Soviet countries.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia on December 6 and will host Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi in Russia on December 7— a bout of diplomatic outreach likely focused on strengthening Russia’s position with Gulf States while continuing to solidify the deepening Russian-Iranian security partnership.
- Armenia appears to be effectively abstaining from participation in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
- The Kremlin continues to intensify censorship efforts, targeting prominent Russian messaging and social media app Telegram.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced near Avdiivka.
- Russian forces are reportedly quickly sending poorly trained convict recruits to reinforce assaults elements in Ukraine.
- Russian occupation authorities are reportedly intensifying their seizure of Ukrainian property in occupied Berdyansk, Donetsk Oblast.
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)
Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on December 5 but did not make confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Synkivka (9km northeast of Kupyansk), Petropavlivka (7km east of Kupyansk), Novoselivske (14km northwest of Svatove), Terny (17km west of Kreminna), the Serebryanske forest area (10km south of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna), Spirne (25km south of Kreminna), and Vesele (31km south of Kreminna). … Nadiya Zamryha, a spokesperson for a Ukrainian brigade operating in the Kupyansk direction, stated on December 5 that Russian forces in the Kupyansk direction have decreased the density of artillery fire in comparison to late summer 2023 and are using tanks more frequently than in October 2023.
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks near Bakhmut on December 5 but did not make any confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued assault actions south of Bakhmut. A Ukrainian military observer stated that Ukrainian forces counterattacked near Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut) and captured two positions previously held by elements of the Russian 331st Airborne (VDV) Regiment (98th Guards VDV Division). The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that unspecified elements of the Russian Southern Grouping of Forces repelled four Ukrainian assaults near Bohdanivka, Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut), and Toretsk (21km south of Bakhmut and 12km northwest of Horlivka).
Russian forces continued offensive operations near Avdiivka on December 5 and made confirmed gains. Geolocated footage published on December 5 indicates that Russian forces advanced along a section of the railway line north of the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northwestern Avdiivka. Additional geolocated footage published on December 4 indicates that Russian forces also advanced south of the Avdiivka waste heap. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled at least 23 Russian assaults east of Novobakhmutivka (7km northwest of Avdiivka); northeast of Berdychi (4km north of Avdiivka); and near Stepove (3km north of Avdiivka), Avdiivka, Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka), and Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka). ...The Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Press Service reported on December 5 that Russian forces resumed conducting air strikes with Su-25 attack aircraft and Ka-52 helicopters in the Avdiivka area after a period of less intense Russian aviation activity.
Ukrainian forces counterattacked near Avdiivka on December 5 and recently made a confirmed advance. Geolocated footage published on December 4 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced east of a section of the railway line north of the Avdiivka Coke Plant. A Ukrainian military observer claimed on December 5 that Ukrainian forces counterattacked north of the Avdiivka Coke Plant and forced Russian forces to withdraw from two forward positions.