Ukraine-Russia war – live: Kyiv’s military wants 500,000 troops and says Putin’s forces hit by ‘mouse fever’

By Isaac M December 21, 2023

Kyiv suffers largest ever drone attack by Russia leaving five wounded

President Zelensky said his military has asked for an additional 500,000 troops as Ukraine claims Putin’s forces have been hit by a disease outbreak.

Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate said that Russian troops are being “mowed down” by a lack of medical assistance following an outbreak of so-called ‘mouse fever’.

The disease causes people to bleed from their eyes, vomit several times a day and experience extreme temperatures and headaches.

“Dissatisfaction is growing in the units of the Russian occupation army due to inadequate provision of winter items and a complete lack of medical assistance,” they reported on Telegram.

“Thus, an outbreak of the so-called “mouse fever” was recorded in many units of the Russian invaders in the Kupyansk direction.”

It comes as Mr Zelensky told a press conference that the military has asked for an additional 450,000-500,000 people to be mobilised.

“I said that I would need more arguments to support this move,” Mr Zelensky said. “Because first of all, its a question of people, secondly, it’s a question of fairness, it’s a question of defence capability, and its a question of finances.”

He added that the mobilisation would require additional an additional 500 billion hryvnias ($13.5 billion).

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Ukraine to produce a million FPV drones next year

Kyiv plans to produce a million FPV (first-person-view) drones and more than 11,000 medium- and long-range attack drones next year, Ukraine‘s minister for strategic industries said on Wednesday.

Ukraine has used FPV drones – small drones originally for personal civilian use, but modified for the battlefield – since the first days of the 2022 Russian invasion as a cheap but effective option for attacks.

The tactic was subsequently adopted by Moscow’s troops, now estimated to have many more such drones at their disposal.

“All production facilities are ready, and contracting for 2024 begins,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, the minister, said on Telegram messenger.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy later said the issue of drones, both in stock and being deployed, was discussed at a meeting of commanders and officials on Wednesday

“Logistics will be faster. We are also working on making the use of drones, particularly FPV drones, more efficient in all areas,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

“This is an obvious priority for our country and a very concrete way to protect the lives of our soldiers.”

Ukraine has been working to increase its domestic weapons production in order to secure stable deliveries, not rely exclusively on partners’ aid, and give a boost to the economy.

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 21:00

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Ukrainians prepare for first wartime Christmas on new calendar

Ukrainians are gearing up to celebrate their first Christmas according to a new calendar, another step towards erasing all traces of Russian influence as their military fends off a Kremlin invasion.

Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians and the country’s main church agreed this year to move away from the traditional Julian calendar, which is used in Russia and celebrates the holiday on Jan. 7.

“It turns out that Ukrainians used to celebrate Christmas on December 25, just like the rest of Europeans,” said Tetiana, a 25-year-old believer who said she would celebrate on Dec. 25 for the first time.

Standing outside Kyiv’s golden-domed St. Michael’s Monastery, she added that it would feel “a little unusual” but was “the right thing to do”.

Near the front line of Russia’s invasion, which is nearing its two-year mark and shows no signs of abating, soldiers were also preparing to make the switch to Dec. 25.

“Just like it was before Jan. 7 was imposed upon us,” said Bohdan, a service member stationed in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow’s February 2022 attack rallied the nation in defence and sparked many Ukrainians to reject the Russian language and culture, among other historical ties to Kyiv’s former ruler.

“Everything that was related to Russia, and everything that Russia did the same way we did, provoked disgust among people,” said Mykhailo Omelian, an Orthodox priest in Kyiv.

A serviceman lights a candle during a mass in an Orthodox church near the front lines in the Donetsk region as Ukrainians prepare to celebrate their first Christmas according to a Western calendar

(REUTERS)

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 20:00

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Kremlin claims Ukraine peace talks fell through because of Britain

The Kremlin said that there is no current basis for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and that Britain had sunk chances of a peace deal in 2022 by putting pressure on Kyiv to refuse a draft deal.

“We really consider that the topic of negotiations is not relevant right now,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He said Ukraine withdrew from the negotiation process in 2022 “at Britain’s insistence” and “forbade” negotiations with Russia.

Peskov said: “After that, there were no prerequisites for negotiations – and there were even fewer prerequisites after Ukraine actually legally prohibited any negotiations with the Russian side,”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a decree in October 2022 formally declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Putin “impossible” after Russia claimed to have annexed four regions of southern and eastern Ukraine.

Peskov said that Zelenskiy’s peace plan, known as his “peace formula”, was flawed because he said it sought to find peace without Russia’s participation.

(RIA NOVOSTI/AFP via Getty Images)

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 19:00

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Russian court fines Google $50.8 mln over ‘fake’ information

A Russian court fined Google 4.6 billion roubles ($50.84 million) on Wednesday for failing to delete so-called “fake” information about the conflict in Ukraine, Russian news agency TASS reports.

Russia has been at loggerheads with foreign technology companies over content, censorship, data and local representation in a simmering dispute that intensified after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The RIA news agency said the fine had also been imposed due to Google failing to remove “extremist content” and the distribution of what Russia calls “LGBT propaganda”.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The fine was calculated as a share of Google’s annual turnover in Russia. The company was handed similar turnover-based penalties of 7.2 billion roubles in late 2021 and 21.1 billion roubles in August 2022.

(AP)

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 18:30

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Latest pictures from Ukraine

Residents and relatives carry belongings out of their burned out flat in Donetsk

(AFP via Getty Images)

An elderly woman kneels as she begs next to a poster of a Ukrainian soldier calling for donations to the army, in the center of the capital Kyiv

(AFP via Getty Images)

A serviceman lights a candle during a mass in an Orthodox church near the front lines in the Donetsk region

(REUTERS)

Children hide inside a bomb shelter near their school as part of police and security drills in Ozera village

(EPA)

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 17:59

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Ukrainian army proposal to call up more civilians gets mixed reaction in Kyiv

Following the army’s request for a further 500,000 troops to be mobilised, Ukrainians have expressed mixed feelings.

Anton Hrushetskyi, executive director of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, said closed polling data showed more than 65% of Ukrainians would strongly support or rather support a significant further mobilisation.

But he told Reuters the figure could be skewed by people wanting to give a “socially desirable” response in wartime.

Rafael, a 40-year-old sculptor who declined to give his surname, said forcibly conducting a large-scale mobilisation could badly affect morale on the front lines.

“People’s motivation is dying. If some are forced to fight against their will, our army won’t be as (motivated) to fight,” he said.

Tetiana, a 37-year-old office worker, said a more important matter than manpower was securing more military and financial assistance from abroad.

“I think (mobilising people) won’t be enough (to win the war). We need the support of the West, the United States. Our soldiers will not suffice,” she said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the army’s proposal on Tuesday but said he had not yet decided whether to back it.

Such a move would be intended to help replenish exhausted Ukrainian forces nearly two years of Russia’s full-scale invasion, but could risk a backlash from those who oppose it.

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 17:29

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How many troops do Russia, US and UK have as Ukraine military calls for 500,000 more

Ukrainian generals are looking to mobilise up to half a million new soldiers to push back Putin’s invading army, president Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Mr Zelensky said he was yet to make a final decision on the military’s request as it was a question of “fairness and money” as well as Ukraine’s defence capability.

It comes amid fears Russia could grind down Kyiv’s army with its huge population and resources as western military aid to Ukraine faces US and EU deadlock.

But how many troops does Ukraine have and how does this compare to the US and British Army?

Read the full article below:

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 16:55

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Anti-war candidate applies to run against Putin in presidential elections

Former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova has put her name forward to stand in the Russian presidential election next year.

Current President Vladimir Putin is expected to win the March 2024 elections by a landslide.

Duntsova, 40, has previously called for an end to the conflict in Ukraine and the release of political prisoners including opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

She submitted documents to officials at the Central Electoral Commission to formally enter the election on Wednesday.

Putin, 71, has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999 and is seeking another six-year term.

With Navalny serving prison sentences totalling more than 30 years and other leading Kremlin critics either behind bars or outside the country because of the risk of arrest, there is no established opposition figure to challenge him.

Navalny’s supporters call the election a sham, saying the Kremlin controls who can run and can easily manipulate the vote if needed with the help of an opaque electronic voting system.

The Kremlin says Putin will win because he enjoys overwhelming public support, with opinion poll ratings of around 80%.

In her interview with Reuters, Duntsova avoided using the word “war” to describe the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which Putin calls a “special military operation”, and acknowledged she was afraid.

“Any sane person taking this step would be afraid – but fear must not win,” she said.

(AP)

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 16:37

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Ukraine shifts to defensive position, UK says

Ukrainian forces have shifted to a more defensive posture in recent weeks, Britain’s Ministry of Defence says.

In their latest intelligence update, the UK added that the move follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s calls, from late November 2023, for faster fortification in key sectors.

“In recent weeks, Ukraine has mobilised a concerted effort to improve field fortifications as its forces pivot to a more defensive posture along much of the front line,” the MoD update reads on X.

It adds: “In one part of the project, Ukraine has worked to improve defences along its border with Belarus with dragon’s teeth, razor wire, and anti-tank ditches as of mid-December 2023.”

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 16:07

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US imposes harsher Russian oil price cap

The US have imposed a harsher price cap on Russian oil in an effort to make it harder for Russian exporters to bypass the cap, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

“These changes will further complicate efforts by Russian exporters to circumvent the price cap while deceiving Coalition service providers, and further raise costs for any Russian exporters that need premier services but are unwilling to sell oil under the cap,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

It comes after the US Senate said they would not be able to pass a bill on additional funding for Ukraine before their Christmas break despite warnings from the White House that funding would run out.

Athena Stavrou20 December 2023 15:21

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