Ukraine-Russia war – live: EU meets to discuss Kyiv aid after US rejection as Putin set for major address

By Isaac M December 14, 2023

Kyiv suffers ‘largest ever’ drone attack by Russia leaving ‘five wounded’

European Union leaders, including Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, are convening in Brussels this morning as Kyiv looks to secure billions in funds after a fruitless visit to the US.

The European Commission has proposed granting Ukraine €50 billion (£46bn) in economic aid over the next four years, as well as agreeing now to start accession talks with Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials say the package would be crucial in filling budget gaps. Most EU countries have said they are in favour but the vote must receive unanimous support.

Last night, the EU blocked €10bn in funds for Hungary as a sweetener; the nation under prime minister Viktor Orban has expressed serious doubt about further aid to Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky’s trip to the US to shore up a $61bn military package this week, which is being blocked by Republican lawmakers, bore no fruit, making the EU package additionally important.

It comes as Vladimir Putin is set to answer questions from Russian journalists and the public, operating what has become known as the “Direct Line”.

More than 2 million questions have been sent already, according to Russia-1, the nation’s main state media channel.


Russia attacks south Ukraine with 42 drones and missiles, killing 1, Ukraine says

Russia launched 42 drones and 6 missiles at Ukraine’s southern regions overnight with air defences destroying 41 drones, but missiles killed one civilian, Ukrainian military has said.

“The defenders of the sky managed to shoot down 41 out of 42 Shahed-136/131 attack drones. The vast majority of them were shot down in Odesa region,” Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram.

The Ukrainian military said wreckage of downed drones damaged more than a dozen buildings in the southern city of Odesa and 11 civilians, including three children, were injured.

Emergency services said that during an overnight missile strike on the neighbouring Kherson region, one person was killed and a medical facility, private house and garage were destroyed.

Firefighters in Odesa attend the aftermath of a Russian drone strike

(Telegram / Defence Forces of Southern Ukraine )

Tom Watling14 December 2023 08:26


Here are some of the latest photos from Ukraine and Russia

Below are some of the latest photos from Ukraine and Russia.

Russian journalists are seen queueing up in the snow for Vladimir Putin’s Moscow speech

(Telegram )

A building in Odessa, southern Ukraine, is destroyed by a Russian drone overnight

(Defence Forces of Southern Ukraine / Telegram )

A dog sits in the snow next to a Ukrainian tank crew in a position near to the town of Bakhmut

(AFP via Getty Images)

Tom Watling14 December 2023 07:48


New Polish PM calls ‘apathy on Ukraine unacceptable’ as EU braces for bitter tussle with Orban

“Apathy on Ukraine is unacceptable,” Mr Tusk said, adding that he will try to convince “some member states”, a day after his appointment to the top position.

Tom Watling14 December 2023 07:30


Voices – The mysterious prison disappearance of Putin’s most powerful opponent

Russia’s best-known opposition figure Alexei Navalny has gone missing, from the one place you would have thought no one could go missing: a high-security Russian prison camp.

The most prosaic explanation for Navalny’s disappearance is that he is in the process of being transferred to another camp. In August, he was sentenced to an additional 19 years for offences, including “inciting and financing extremism”, which his supporters see as politically motivated.

Read the full comment piece by Mary Dejevsky here

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 07:15


Watch – Soviet monument dismantled in Kyiv as Ukraine continues ‘de-Communisation’ process

Soviet monument dismantled in Kyiv as Ukraine continues ‘de-Communisation’ process

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 06:15


Deputy editor of Putin’s favourite newspaper ‘found dead just one year after boss’

Anna Tsavera was found by her parents at her home just one year after the mysterious death of her former boss Vladimir Sungorkin, police told Russian news agency TASS.

Ms Tsavera was the deputy editor-in-chief of Komsomolskaya Pravda, a daily tabloid newspaper described by Mr Putin as his “favourite newspaper”, according to a document from the European Commission.

Athena Stavrou has the full story

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 05:15


EU unblocks billions for Hungary even though its leader threatens to veto Ukraine aid

The European Union on Wednesday relented and granted Hungary access to billions of euros in frozen funds just as Prime Minister Viktor Orban appeared ready to defy his EU partners and veto the opening of membership talks and vital financial aid for Ukraine.

A year ago, the European Union’s executive branch blocked substantial amounts of money out of concern that democratic backsliding by Orban’s nationalist government could put the bloc’s budget at risk.

The billions withheld mostly concern “cohesion funds” earmarked for Hungary. This envelope of money, one of the biggest slices of the 27-nation bloc’s budget, helps countries maintain their infrastructure at EU standards. They must apply for the money to fund building and other projects.

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 04:15


Analysis – Russia’s intensifying missiles strikes on Ukraine’s cities are a grim reminder how key Western support is

With critical military supplies from Ukraine’s most important ally, America, in danger of drying up, Russia is stretching Ukraine’s air defences to the limit with an intensified onslaught using drones and ballistic missiles.

More than 50 people, including six children, were injured after Russia launched 10 ballistic missiles at the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, early on Wednesday.

Ballistic missiles are more difficult to detect than other types like cruise missiles or drones, whose entire journey is powered by engines. The important difference in ballistic missiles is that the last stage of their trajectory is unpowered giving less warning where they will land.

Askold Krushelnycky has the full report

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 03:15


US lawmakers grapple with border security deal details linked to foreign aid

U.S. lawmakers and the White House are discussing what level of border arrests should trigger stringent new asylum rules under a possible border security deal that would also include aid for Ukraine and Israel, a Republican senator said on Wednesday.

Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican involved with bipartisan talks over a border deal, said the White House had offered a proposal that included the creation of a new migrant expulsion authority similar to the COVID-era Title 42 policy.

“The administration has set something forward,” Tillis told reporters. “It’s not a detailed proposal, but it actually does define some of the contours that I think could dramatically reduce future flows.”

A group of Senate lawmakers have been negotiating a border agreement that would be paired with the Ukraine and Israel military aid. But they face a tight timeline to pass a bill amid opposition from both liberals and conservatives. Lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington at the end of the week for a three-week holiday break.

The White House offer raised hopes that the Senate could act before Christmas on a bill the Republican-led House of Representatives could then take up in January. But some lawmakers warned that such a move would doom the legislation.

The House has pushed to pair aid for Ukraine with an enforcement-focused immigration bill known as H.R. 2., a measure Democrats have opposed.

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 02:15


Meet the women helping Putin’s frontline

Natalia Yermakova’s husband, Alexander, has been fighting in Ukraine for over a year after responding to President Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation call as a volunteer. Wounded in the leg, he was operated on and then sent back to the front.

A believer in what Russia calls its “special military operation” against Ukraine, Natalia is toiling as a volunteer in a “Family Battalion” in Moscow.

She is one of a group of around 40 mostly female relatives of mobilised men who thread camouflage netting, make signs to mark minefields, gather candles to be used in dug-outs, and put food parcels together in their free time.

As Putin positions himself to win a fifth presidential term in March, casting himself as the right man to lead a military campaign that the West says is a colonial-style war of aggression, it is people like Yermakova whom Putin is relying on to hold his support base together.

Her work takes place in an office belonging to the ruling United Russia party, which is adorned with Russia’s red, blue and white flag and portraits of politicians such as Putin.

There are similar groups working around Moscow, she said.

The relatives take turns accompanying the deliveries they assemble – in a more-than-30-year-old van – to the Russian military in what Yermakova calls “the new territories” – Ukrainian land annexed by Russia.

“We really want to support them (the soldiers) morally and emotionally and send them a message…that what they are doing there is needed by people here,” Yermakova told Reuters, while taking a break from threading a giant camouflage net.

Lydia Patrick14 December 2023 01:15


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