Situation as of 8:00 a.m. on December 18, 2023
- Russian troops continue attacks on the eastern sector of the front. Despite significant losses, they managed to move forward in certain directions.
- On the night of December 13, a large-scale attack on Kyiv was carried out using ballistic missiles. Despite the successful work of air defense, the fall of fragments of downed missiles led to the injury of 53 people.
- Russian hackers have dealt a serious blow to communication systems in Ukraine. As a result of the attack on December 12, they managed to disable the IT infrastructure of the largest mobile operator in Ukraine – “Kyivstar” – for several days.
- The European Council has made a historic decision to open membership negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. The 12th sanctions package against Russia was approved at the European Council meeting.
- The President of Ukraine made a working visit to the United States, where he met with U.S. President Joseph Biden and party leaders.
- Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially visited Norway, where the second Ukraine-Northern Europe summit took place on December 13th.
Russian troops continue intensive offensive operations in the East, despite heavy losses (according to the latest US intelligence data, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, they amount to about 315 thousand people).They are trying to create conditions for the capture of Kupyansk in the northern sector of the front and continue the offensive to encircle Avdiivka near Donetsk. The advances of the Russian military near Bakhmut and in the area of Maryinka were also recorded.
On the night of December 13, Russian troops struck Kyiv using ballistic missiles. Ukrainian air defense managed to intercept all 10 missiles used against the capital, but the fall of debris caused damage to the city’s residential infrastructure. As a result of the attack, 53 people were injured.
The target of missile strikes by Russian troops remains the Starokostiantyniv area in the Khmelnytskyi region, where Ukrainian aviation bases are located. On December 14, it was attacked by the “Kh-47 Kinzhal” missile, but it was intercepted by air defense. In addition, during the week, missile strikes were carried out against Kryvyi Rih and Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk region),
Massive attacks on the territory of Ukraine with the use of kamikaze drones do not stop. Russian troops are concentrating on strikes against the Odesa region. On the night of December 12 Ukrainian air defense reported the destruction of 9 out of 15 UAVs used. The next night, all 20 drones used in the attack were destroyed. A large-scale attack was carried out on the night of December 14. Air defense intercepted 41 of the 42 drones used. One of the Russian UAVs violated the airspace of Romania and fell on its territory. On the night of December 15, all 14 drones used to strike Ukraine were destroyed by Ukrainian air defense; on the night of December 16 – 30 out of 31 drones used were destroyed. On the night of December 17, 20 UAVs were destroyed. On the night of December 18, 5 UAVs were destroyed.
During the week, the losses of the civilian population in the frontline regions of Ukraine as a result of the actions of the Russian military amounted to at least: in the Donetsk region – 2 people killed and 5 people wounded; in the Kherson region – 4 people killed and 15 people wounded. 1 person was killed and 2 people were injured in Kharkiv region. 1 person was killed and 13 people were injured in Odesa region; 2 people were injured in Dnipropetrovsk region; 1 person was injured in Sumy region.
Russian sources reported Ukrainian drone attacks on the night of December 16 on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea and the Kursk region of the Russian Federation. Reports of attacks were repeated the following night. Its target was a military airfield in the Rostov region. It is also reported about the successful actions of a sabotage and reconnaissance group on the territory of the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation, where a stronghold of the Russian military was destroyed.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS
On December 12, due to a hacker attack, a massive disruption occurred in the operation of the Ukrainian mobile operator “Kyivstar” (24.8 million subscribers). Russian hackers from the “Solncepek” group (a unit of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) claimed responsibility for the attack on the Kyivstar network. Also on December 12, it became known that cyber units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine attacked the tax system of the Russian Federation, which paralyzed the work of the Federal Tax Service for several days.
In Zakarpattia, during a session of the village council, a deputy detonated three grenades. The reason was a conflict between the deputy and the village head regarding budgetary issues. As a result of the explosions, 26 people were injured, and 1 person died. The perpetrator was informed of suspicion of committing a terrorist act.
The Board of the National Bank of Ukraine decided to cut its key policy rate from 16% to 15% per annum. This decision is in line with the slowdown in inflation to 5.1% in November 2023. Until the summer of 2023, the key policy rate was 25%. At the same time, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation increased the key policy rate to 16% against the backdrop of inflation rising to 7.5% in November.
On December 11, Polish protesters unblocked the movement of trucks at the largest checkpoint “Yahodyn – Dorohusk” on the Ukrainian-Polish border. But from December 18, the protests may resume. On December 15, Slovak carriers also agreed to partially unblock the movement of trucks at the border between Slovakia and Ukraine.
FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
On December 14-15, following the results of the European Council summit, the heads of state and government of the European Union made a historic decision to initiate membership negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. During the summit, a crucial decision was also reached to establish the Ukraine Facility, with a budget of 50 billion euros for the years 2024-2027. These funds will be directed towards supporting macroeconomic stability, recovery, and modernization of Ukraine, as well as accelerating integration into the EU. Additionally, the leaders of the European Union agreed on the 12th package of EU sanctions against Russia, which includes measures such as banning the import, purchase, or transfer of diamonds from Russia and tools to prevent the circumvention of sanctions through third countries.
This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conducted a working visit to the United States, where he met with U.S. President Joseph Biden. They discussed joint arms production, the use of frozen Russian assets, and the approval of a U.S. Congress decision on funding for Ukraine. President Zelensky also met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson, Democratic Party leader in the House Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Party leaders in the Senate Chuck Schumer and Republican Party leader Mitch McConnell, as well as with World Bank President Ajay Banga and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva. During the U.S. visit, President Zelenskyy held a meeting with leaders of American defense companies.
As part of the official visit to the Kingdom of Norway, President Zelensky held meetings with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Speaker of the Storting of Norway Masud Gharahani, political party leaders represented in the Norwegian Parliament, and representatives of Norwegian business circles. An audience with King Harald V also took place. After completing the official visit to Norway, President Zelenskyy visited the U.S. Army command in Europe and Africa, located in the German city of Wiesbaden.
On December 13, the second Ukraine-Northern Europe summit took place in Oslo, with the participation of President Zelenskyy. The summit resulted in a Joint Statement. Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the overall assistance from Northern European countries amounts to approximately 11 billion euros. Summit participants pledged to continue providing substantial military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, both individually and collectively, as well as within international formats and platforms.
In addition, during his participation in the Oslo summit, President Zelenskyy held negotiations with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, and the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Germany announced a new aid package, including the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, tracked all-terrain vehicles Bandvagn 206, unmanned vehicles for demining, drone detection systems, ammunition, and other equipment. The U.S. allocated the 53rd package of military aid to Ukraine, amounting to 200 million dollars, including AIM-9M SAMs, components of SAM systems, ammunition for HIMARS, HARM and TOW missiles, artillery shells, and ammunition. Estonia allocated a new military aid package to Ukraine worth 80 million euros, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, boats, and other equipment. The Norwegian government approved the transfer of additional NASAMS air defense systems to Ukraine for 30 million dollars. As part of military aid, the United Kingdom will transfer 23 fast boats and 20 amphibious tracked vehicles Bandvagn BvS 10 (Viking) to Ukraine. Argentina is considering the possibility of transferring two multi-purpose helicopters Mi-171E to Ukraine, which were previously purchased from Russia.
The United Kingdom and Norway jointly lead a new maritime coalition aimed at enhancing Ukraine’s maritime capabilities to ensure the safety of civilian navigation and the operation of the grain corridor.
Sweden allocates 1.4 billion Swedish crowns (over $133 million) in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, aimed at supporting electrical power supply systems, heating, and shelter construction in schools. The World Bank allocates an additional 1.34 billion dollars to Ukraine to support critical state services at the national and regional levels in Ukraine.
Denmark has allocated a new financial aid package to Ukraine totaling 42.9 million dollars. Primarily, these funds will go towards the reconstruction of Mykolaiv and the region. Copenhagen is also considering the possibility of providing a new military aid package worth 1 billion euros.
From December 11 to 15, the first meeting of the Council of the International Register of Damages Inflicted by Russia (RD4U) took place in Hague. During the meeting, the categories of harm, losses, and damages proposed by the Government of Ukraine were presented. The creation of a Commission for awarding payments and the organization of a Compensation Fund are planned for the future.
On December 13 in Berlin, the first conference of the Coalition of Integrated Air and Missile Defense Capabilities took place, with the participation of around 70 attendees from 22 countries, including representatives from the EU and NATO. The coalition serves as the primary forum for coordinating activities and efforts for the long-term development of air defense architecture in Ukraine, compatible with NATO’s air defense.
Also on December 13, the European Court of Human Rights held a substantive hearing in the case “Ukraine v. Russia” regarding the occupation of Crimea. Ukraine presented details of the human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation in the occupied territory of the Crimean Peninsula.
Japan imposed a new package of sanctions, including 135 Russian and Russia-associated companies and individuals that aided Russia in bypassing sanctions. The UK introduced new trade restrictions against Iran, focusing on the UAV program by strengthening existing export limitations on components for drones. Canada imposed sanctions against 30 Russian individuals involved in pseudo-elections in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The EU Council announced sanctions against 6 individuals and 5 legal entities in connection with Iran’s military support for Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine.
On December 14, during its 100th anniversary session under Ukraine’s chairmanship, the Danube Commission excluded the Russian Federation from its members due to missile and drone strikes on the Lower Danube. Simultaneously, according to the Ukrainian side, Ukraine and Romania resolved a longstanding dispute related to the establishment of a deep-water navigation channel “Danube – Black Sea.”
During the week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held telephone conversations with the Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez, President of France Emmanuel Macron, President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda, President of Moldova Maia Sandu, President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz.
The information in the newsletter is collected from official sources—reports of state authorities of Ukraine, Ukrainian and international news agencies. The accuracy of the data is carefully checked by the project team and corrected in case of fake news.