Friday, 08 December 2023 04:27

What to know after Day 652 of Russia-Ukraine war

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RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Western aid to Ukraine falls off a cliff – German monitor

New commitments of weapons and money to Ukraine by the US and its allies have reached a new low in the past three months, down to almost one tenth of what they were a year ago, Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) reported on Thursday.

The research institution updated this week its Ukraine Support Tracker, a database of public aid pledges, which it has been tracking since January last year. Between August and October, the value of new packages dropped to just €2.11 billion ($2.28 bn), marking an 87% decrease year by year.

Of the 42 donor nations monitored, only 20 committed new assistance in the three months. The active group was the smallest in the entire almost two-year period, IfW Kiel said. The majority of aid actually delivered was sent under multi-year programs pledged previously.

European nations for the first time surpassed the US as the largest source of heavy weapons for Ukraine, mainly due to the pledges of F-16 fighter jets and Patriot and IRIS-T air defense systems by Germany and the Nordic countries. Military aid accounted for 58% of what the top ten donors offered, the institute reported.

IfW Kiel stressed that aid outlook was “unclear” for Kiev, considering the latest snags in the US Congress and the EU’s failure so far to approve the promised €50 billion ($54 bn) under the so-called Ukraine Facility.

The US Senate this week blocked a vote on a White House appropriation request, which would have funded Ukraine assistance programs to the tune of over $60 billion. Senior officials have warned that previously approved spending will run out within weeks.

President Joe Biden implied that other Western nations would follow the US lead, if it stops funding Kiev, as he pleaded with Congress to approve more spending on Wednesday.

“If we don’t support Ukraine, what’s the rest of the world going to do? What’s Japan going to do, which is supporting Ukraine now? What’s going to happen in terms of the G7? What’s going to happen in terms of our NATO Allies?” he asked.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has blamed shortage of Western arms for the largely unsuccessful counteroffensive against Russia, which his troops conducted between June and November. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has estimated Ukrainian losses over that period at over 125,000 troops and 16,000 heavy weapons.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine says Russian forces use aviation, keep pushing on Avdiivka

Russian forces relied heavily on aerial attacks on Thursday in their slow-moving campaign to win control of eastern Ukraine and resorted to new smaller attack groups in pressing to capture the beleaguered town of Avdiivka.

Moscow has focused its attention on the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk since failing to advance on Kyiv in the early days of the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

It has set its sights since mid-October on Avdiivka, a gateway to the Russian-held regional centre of Donetsk -- 20 km (12 miles) to the east. The town has resisted capture while coming under sustained enemy fire.

"For the second day in a row, occupying forces have been actively using kamikaze drones and aviation. And the number of combat clashes has significantly increased," Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television.

Russian losses were mounting sharply in terms of both men and equipment in the southern theatre of operations, he said.

Ukraine's General Staff, in its evening bulletin, said its forces had rebuffed 15 attacks in Avdiivka and nearby villages, in addition to 34 attacks reported in its morning account.

Media outlet Espreso TV said Russian forces were pressing from the north but had made no inroads into the "industrial zone" outside the city centre.

Ukrainian serviceman Andriy Shyshuk said the new Russian tactic involved sending groups of up to five men into action and, with the backing of armoured vehicles and air cover, opening up bursts of heavy fire as they advance.

Shyshuk said the Russian forces had made little progress. He echoed President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's call for more fortifications around towns and other defensive points, but said this should be done by "engineering units, not assault units".

Fortifications were erected around Avdiivka after Ukrainian forces recaptured the town from Russian-financed separatists who seized it briefly in 2014 as they captured chunks of eastern Ukraine.

Official Russian accounts rarely mention Avdiivka. Russian war bloggers on Thursday said Moscow's forces had made progress near the village of Stepove, north of the town, and "stabilised" the situation in the industrial zone.

Reuters could not verify accounts from either side.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Kyiv's forces have recaptured a swathe of occupied territory in a lightning push through the northeast a year ago. But they have made only marginal gains in a counteroffensive launched in the east and south in June.

 

RT/Reuters

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