As the war enters its 657th day, these are the main developments.

Here is the situation on Tuesday, December 12, 2023.

Fighting

  • The Ukrainian military said Russian forces unleashed a huge new offensive on the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, just northwest of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk. Military spokesperson Oleksandr Stupun told Ukrainian television that fighting had been intense with 610 artillery shellings reported near Avdiivka over the previous 24 hours. There was no immediate comment from Russia on the fighting in the area. About 1,500 people remain in Avdiivka out of a pre-war population of some 32,000.
  • Four people were injured after Russia attacked Kyiv with eight long-range ballistic missiles in the early hours of the morning. The missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defences and people were hurt after being hit by the debris or shards of glass.
  • In a separate Russian attack, Ukrainian air defences shot down 18 Shahed drones aimed at the south.

Politics and diplomacy

  • Speaking on the first day of his visit to Washington, DC, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that failing to maintain support for Ukraine would play into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Zelenskyy is due to meet President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday as Republicans in the US Congress resist additional Ukraine funding.
  • Zelenskyy also met International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva, hours after the fund’s executive board approved a new $900m disbursement for Ukraine. Georgieva and Zelenskyy spoke for nearly an hour at the IMF headquarters in Washington, DC. Zelenskyy thanked the IMF for its support. Georgieva noted that the board, with the exception of one country, was unanimous in its support for Ukraine.
  • Zelenskyy described his brief chat with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the sidelines of the inauguration of Argentinian President Javier Milei on Sunday as “frank”. Orban has threatened to block more European Union financial support for Kyiv and is opposed to Ukraine joining the group. EU leaders will discuss Ukraine’s membership at a summit on Thursday.
  • Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had arrested 18 “agents and accomplices” of Ukraine’s special services it claimed were part of a network of assassins targeting pro-Russian figures in occupied Crimea and eastern parts of Ukraine. Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
  • The EU added six people and five entities to their Iran sanctions list over their alleged support for Russia in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The sanctioned include the Shahed drone-maker Shakad Sanat Asmari, its CEO, deputy CEO and chief scientist. Other companies involved in drone manufacturing were also targeted.
  • Russia’s central election commission said March’s presidential election would include voting in four regions of Ukraine that it partly occupied and annexed last year. Ukraine, which rejected the annexation along with most members of the United Nations General Assembly, has already said that any Russian vote in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions would be null and void, and that it will prosecute any observers sent to monitor voting.

Weapons

  • The United Kingdom said it transferred two minehunters to Ukraine. The move is part of a new Maritime Capability Coalition, led by the UK and Norway, aimed at providing long-term military support to bolster maritime security in the Black Sea.
  • US national security spokesman John Kirby said Washington was likely to announce additional military aid for Ukraine before the end of the month in the expectation that Russia was likely to target Ukraine’s energy facilities as the weather gets colder.

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By David

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