Senator Mitch McConnell arrives for the weekly Senate Republican Leadership press conference in the US Capitol, Washington, D.C., December 5, 2023 (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/AP)
Map: Institute for the Study of War
“People familiar with the figures” claim European Union countries have placed orders for only 60,000 artillery shells of the 1 million rounds promised by the EU to Ukraine by March.
The EU had pledged to supply the munitions by allowing countries to place orders with industry, with contracts negotiated by the bloc’s European Defence Agency, as well as by providing shells from their existing stocks
EU leaders and Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have said that the 27-nation bloc delivered 300,000 shells by October, but acknowledged that the 1 million pledge would not be fulfilled by the spring.
The EU says that about 480,000 shells have now been sent to Kyiv.
UPDATE 1930 GMT:
The US Justice Department has announced the indictment of four Russian troops for war crimes against an American national who lived in Ukraine.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement, “War crimes charges against four Russia-affiliated military personnel were unsealed today in the Eastern District of Virginia. The charges include torture, inhuman treatment, and unlawful confinement of a US national in Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Court documents said the Russian soldiers abducted the national from his home in the village of Mylove in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
The soldiers and four unnamed co-defendants unlawfully confined him for at least 10 days, allegedly throwing the victim face down to the ground while he was naked, tying his hands behind his back, pointing a gun at his head, and severely beating him, including with the stocks of their guns.
UPDATE 1925 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has told an online summit of G7 leaders of his gratitude for their assistance.
“We maintain important bridgeheads on several directions on the frontline and are preparing for the next steps…and the long-range capabilities will help a lot,” he said.
UPDATE 1912 GMT:
Ukraine’s State security service SBU has claimed the assassination of former pro-Russian Ukrainian MP Illia Kyva, shot in a park in suburban Moscow.
Kyva, 46, fled to Russia a month before the launch of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He frequently criticised Ukrainian official online and on Russian State TV.
Ukrainian officials confirmed to the country’s media and to Reuters that the SBU was responsible.
The spokespersson for Ukraine military intelligence, Andriy Yusov, said: “We can confirm that Kyva is done. Such a fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine, as well as the henchmen of the Putin regime.”
Yusov said the death of Kyva — “one of the biggest scumbags, traitors and collaborators” — was “justice”.
Kyva had been sentenced in absentia by a Ukrainian court to 14 years in prison for treason and incitement to violence. He was sanctioned last year by the UK for “undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”.
Another Russian-backed politician, Oleg Popov, was killed on Wednesday in a car bombing.
Popov was a deputy in the parliament of the Russian proxy “Luhansk People’s Republic”.
Sources for the Ukrainian State outlet Ukrinform claimed the SBU also carried out Popov’s assassination.
UPDATE 1133 GMT:
The UK has sanctioned another 46 individuals and entities over involvement in Russia’s military supply chains in the invasion of Ukraine.
Sanctioned entities operate in China, Serbia, and Uzbekistan as well as Russia.
UPDATE 0918 GMT:
On Armed Forces Day, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has laid flowers at the Wall of Memory of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine near St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv.
Earlier, Zelenskiy said in a video to the nation:
To see the faces of our heroes. To look into their eyes. And just be silent. And in that silence, to reflect. To remember. To comprehend. To compare this morning with the morning 651 days ago. How loud it was. And how fearful it was for many. But fear was defeated. And now everyone has heard about us. How tough it was back then, but now we’re not ashamed.
To recall what we could have lost and what we have preserved. Knowing exactly who made it possible. For the sake of what exactly. Knowing what exactly we are all defending. We’re defending our own. We’re defending what’s ours.
UPDATE 0916 GMT:
The Ukraine Air Force says air defenses downed 41 of 48 Iran-made attack drones launched by Russia overnight.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy cancelled Tuesday’s meeting with US Senators after senior Republicans — notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — blocked any move towards further authorization of aid to Kyiv against Russia’s 21 1/2-month invasion.
Throughout the autumn, a group of hard-right Republicans and Trumpists have blocked a Biden Administration request for more than $100 billion in budget authorization, including $61.4 billion for Ukraine; assistance for Israel, Taiwan, and allies in the Asia-Pacific region; and funds for border security.
Zelenskiy was scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. Washington time via video to a classified briefing, so senators could “hear directly from him precisely what’s at stake”. The session was also to be addressed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other senior national security officials.
Hours before the meeting, House Republicans insisted that any appropriations bill — which has to be initiatied in the House, rather than the Senate — put a priority on measures over the US-Mexico border.
Democrats have balked at the condition, saying the measures are draconian, punishing asylum seekers as well as migrants.
But the biggest blow did not come from the hard-right GOP and Trumpists. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell — who had backed the bipartisan effort to authorize assistance to Kyiv — instructed colleagues to vote No on a procedural measure supporting the $106 billion Administration proposal.
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer had set the vote for this week. While it could not replace the initiation of the budget measure in the House, a large Yes vote would have sent a significant signal.
McConnell said he would vote No “to make the point, hopefully for the final time, that we insist on meaningful changes to the border”.
— Mike Eckel (@mikeeckel.bsky.social) (@Mike_Eckel) December 5, 2023
After McConnell’s press conference, Zelenskiy sent Ukrainian officials to the Capitol to accompany US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and other senior national security staff in the hearing.
Blackmail Over Aid to Kyiv
Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma maintained the Republicans’ effective blackmail over the assistance, declaring that nothing said by Zelenskiy would break the GOP’s opposition.
No. I don’t mean to say that flippantly, for him to be able to say he is very worried about a Russian invasion that is happening — he has every right to be able to say that and every ability to be able to come and speak to all of us and say this is really serious.
We have said for years to our administration, “When is the moment we are actually going to deal with our border and with the issues that we are facing here?”
Lankford had met with a bipartisan group of negotiators who have been trying for weeks to agree over border provisions. The talks stalled last Friday.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, one of the negotiators, said:
I don’t think the talks are ever going to end until Ukraine is funded….I think it’s not surprising that we’re getting to a point where this is going to be negotiated at the highest level at the White House and here in the Senate as well….
People are going to have to sharpen their pencils and spend the next week negotiating a deal that keeps American’s commitment not just to Ukraine but to democracies around the world.
But after Tuesday’s closed-door hearing, hard-right Republicans bragged about their barracking of Administration officials.
Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota shouted questions at the officials, including Blinken, Austin, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Charles Q. Brown Jr.
I took them on with the microphone in my hand.
I asked Gen. Brown his best military advice. Is supporting Ukraine and Israel important enough that Democrats could at least consider reluctantly supporting some southern border security? He wanted to talk about Ukraine.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has previously supported aid to Ukraine, contributed to the political show:
It started off pretty bad … a lot of tension in the room because nobody talked about the border. In case you don’t have a television or you’ve been living in a cave, you would know that most Republicans feel like we need to address the broken border.