Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with US counterpart Joe Biden in the Oval Office at the White House, Washington, DC, December 21, 2022 (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1952 GMT:
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he is returning to Ukraine from the US “with good results”, particularly for the frontlines: “We are bringing to Ukraine, to Donbas, to Bakhmut, and to the south the decisions that our Defense Forces have been waiting for”.
He thanked US counterpart Joe Biden “for his help, his international leadership, and his determination to win”.
UPDATE 1847 GMT:
US officials say Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group has received an arms shipment from North Korea.
One official said:
We can confirm that North Korea has completed an initial arms delivery to Wagner, which paid for the equipment. Last month, North Korea delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia for use by Wagner.
The official said the amount of arms would not change the battlefield situation in Ukraine, but the US is “concerned that North Korea is planning to deliver more military equipment to Wagner”.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, “The fact that President Putin is turning to North Korea for help is a sign of Russia’s desperation and isolation.”
UPDATE 1747 GMT:
A Russian proxy official in the occupied part of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine has been killed by a car bomb.
Andrei Shtepa, the head of the village of Lyubimovka, was slain in the attack, said the Russian proxy administration.
UPDATE 1705 GMT:
Returning from the US, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has stopped in Poland to meet Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda for almost two hours.
Posting on Telegram, Zelenskiy said he and Duda “summed up the year, which brought historic challenges due to a full-scale war….We discussed strategic plans for the future, bilateral relations and interactions at the international level in 2023.”
UPDATE 1610 GMT:
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has lashed out at Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s speech to the US Congress, proclaiming that he “better learn from the fate of leaders who relied on US support”.
Zelenskiy spoke in his address about Iran’s supply of drones to Russia for attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure and other civilian sites.
Ministry spokeman Nasser Kan’ani lied that the statement was “unfounded”. He compounded the falsehood with the declaration that Iran has not provided weapons or military equipment to either side during Russia’s invasion.
Kan’ani warned, “We have always respected the territorial integrity of other countries, including Ukraine. Mr. Zelensky should know that Iran may run out of strategic patience regarding such unsubstantiated accusations.”
UPDATE 1305 GMT:
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, is in another round of discussions with Russian officials about a protection zone around the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.
“It’s key that the zone focuses solely on preventing a nuclear accident. I am continuing my efforts towards this goal with a sense of utmost urgency,” Grossi said.
Russia seized the nuclear plant, the largest in Europe, in March. It has converted the site into a military base, attacking Ukrainian-controlled territory across the Dnipro River.
Moscow has resisted calls by the UN and IAEA to demilitarize the complex and withdraw its forces.
UPDATE 1218 GMT:
Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant is replacing Russian fuel with supply from Westinghouse Electric Sweden.
The 2,000-megawatt plant produces about 35% of the country’s electricity. Both of its reactors have used fuel from the Russian firm Rosatom.
“We have finally made a step towards diversifying the nuclear fuel for our plant. This way we are ensuring our energy security,” said Kozloduy CEO Georgi Kirkov.
UPDATE 1206 GMT:
The perception of Ukraine Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak of the outcome of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to Washington.
The United States has finally pinpointed the baseline.
1. Russia must lose.
2. No "territory in exchange for pseudo/world" compromises.
3. Ukraine will receive all necessary military aid. As much as possible.
4. No one cares about Russia's "talk to us" hysteria…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) December 22, 2022
UPDATE 0921 GMT:
The Ukraine General Staff says the number of Russian soldiers killed during Vladimir Putin’s invasion has passed 100,000.
The General Staff said that, in addition to the 104,000 troops, Russia has lost 3,003 tanks, 5,981 armored fighting vehicles, 4,615 vehicles and fuel tanks,1,978 artillery systems, 413 multiple launch rocket systems, 212 air defense systems, 283 warplanes, 267 helicopters, 1,693 drones, and 16 warships.
UPDATE 0805 GMT:
Russian State media say Dmitry Rogozin, a former Russian Deputy Prime Minister, and a Russian proxy official were injured by Ukrainian shelling of occupied Donetsk city on Wednesday.
Rogozin, a nationalist politician and former head of the Russian space program, was giving military advice in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.
He posted on Telegram early Thursday that “someone leaked information” about his “working meeting in a small group” at a local hotel: “Several high-precision hits occurred around 19:45, including the direct place we were in.”
Rogozin said he expects to undergo surgery for “a 3×4 mm metal splinter [that] entered my right shoulder blade”.
Vitaly Khotsenko, the head of government of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” was also injured, said his press secretary.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been rapturously acclaimed in a visit to Washington, telling a joint session of the US Congress of the need for a united resistance to Russia’s invasion of his country.
Invoking the World War II stand against Nazi and President Franklin Roosevelt’s commitment, Zelenskiy said:
Our two nations are allies in this battle and next year will be a turning point. I know it.
The point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom. The freedom of people who stand for their values.
In his first journey outside Ukraine since the February 24 invasion, Zelenskiy’s priority — both in the speech to Congress and in a meeting with President Joe Biden and his national security advisors — was continued and expanded military assistance.
Congress is soon expected to pass a $1.7 trillion spending bill which includes $45 billion in financial aid for Ukraine. However, this autumn House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said provocatively that support of Kyiv should not be assured.
As Zelenskiy was en route to Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed an additional $1.85 billion in additional military assistance for Ukraine, including the Patriot air defence system.
With $1 billion for “expanded air defense and precision-strike capabilities” and $850 million in security assistance, the package takes the Biden Administration’s military support for Ukraine’s resistance to about $24 billion.
To a series of standing ovations from the members of the US Senate and House, Zelenskiy said:
Against all odds and doom and gloom, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking….
We defeated Russia, in the battle for minds of the world. We have no fear. Nor should anyone in the world have it. Ukraine’s gained this victory and it gives us courage, which inspires the entire world….
I know that everything depends on us, on the Ukrainian armed forces. Yet so much depends on the world. So much in the world depends on you.
Russia could stop its aggression, really, if it wanted to. But you can speed up our victory.
The President used his visit on Monday to the frontline city of Bakhmut, “soaked in blood” in eastern Ukraine, to illustrate both the extent of Russian aggression and the necessity of resistance.
The Russians have tried since May to overrun Bakhmut, now reduced to symbolic importance after Ukrainian advances in the east since September, but have made only marginal gains amid heavy casualties on both sides.
“Russians use everything they have against Bakhmut and other our beautiful cities. The occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery, they have an advantage in ammunition, they have much more missiles and planes than we ever had,” Zelenskiy said. “It’s true, but our defence forces stand.”
Citing Iran’s supply of drones for Russia’s waves of aerial attacks against Ukrainian energy infrastructure and other civilian sites, the President warned, “It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now. We must do it.”
But Zelenskiy concluded with hope. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris held up a Ukrainian flag brought from the frontline, he said:
This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war. We stand, we fight and we will win because we are united – Ukraine, America and the entire free world.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 22, 2022
Zelenskiy-Biden Press Conference
At a press conference alongside Biden after their meeting, Zelenskiy addressed the issue of “peace for Ukraine”, in the unlikely event that Vladimir Putin embraces negotiations to end his invasion.
For me, as a president, just peace is no compromises to the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country, the payback of all the damage inflicted by Russian aggression.
As a father, I’d like to emphasize how many parents lost their sons and daughters on the frontlines so what is just peace for them?
He warned that Vladimir Putin “can even go further” and possibly invade former Soviet states.
“He needs to be interested in getting attention from the world because he is not a subject of civilized people,” Zelenskiy explained.
Putin is increasingly going after civilian targets….He’s going to fail….He’s failed in the past and it’s very important for him and everyone else to see that President Zelenskiy and I are…united together.
We’re going to continue help Ukraine succeed on the battlefield… I don’t think we should underestimate the impact this war is having on Russia and the losses they’re suffering.
Biden emphasized the ongoing international support for Kyivi:
I’ve never seen NATO and the European Union more united on any issue and I see no sign of change….We all know what’s at stake, the very idea of sovereignty, the UN Charter. Putin thought he would weaken NATO, instead he strengthened NATO… He produced a more united Europe.
I feel very good about the solidarity for support for Ukraine.