As the war enters its 666th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Thursday, December 21, 2023.
- Nine people, including four children, were injured in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, as Russia also targeted the capital Kyiv, the second-largest city of Kharkiv and other regions with drones and missiles. Ukraine’s Air Force said air defence systems destroyed 18 out of 19 Russian attack drones and that Russia fired two surface-to-air guided missiles at Kharkiv. No casualties were reported.
- Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun acknowledged that Russian forces were gaining ground around the industrial city of Avdiivka. Sthupun told Ukrainian television the Russians had “advanced by one and a half to two kilometres [0.3 to 1.2 miles] in some places” since October 10, but it had “cost them a lot”.
- The evening update from the Ukrainian General Staff reported 89 incidents of Russian ground attacks on seven sections of a front line that extends for about 1,000km (600 miles). There were 31 attacks near Avdiivka, it added.
- Ukraine’s Armed Forces are taking up a more defensive posture after a months-long counteroffensive failed to achieve a significant breakthrough, the United Kingdom’s Defence Ministry said in its latest assessment of the war. It said Ukraine was improving field fortifications along the front line.
Politics and diplomacy
- The Kremlin said there was no current basis for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and that Kyiv’s proposed peace plan was absurd because it excluded Russia. “We really consider that the topic of negotiations is not relevant right now,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a “severe” response to foreign agents who try to help Ukraine by engaging in sabotage in Russia.
- Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich lost his attempt at the European Union’s top court to overturn the sanctions the EU imposed on him after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
- German federal prosecutors said they aim to seize more than 720 million euros ($789 million) from an unnamed Russian bank it suspects of trying to violate Western sanctions.
- Ukraine’s biggest mobile operator Kyivstar said it had fully restored its services in the country and overseas following a huge cyberattack last damaged IT infrastructure and affected air raid alert systems. More than half of Ukraine’s population are Kyivstar subscribers.
- A Russian court fined Google 4.6 billion roubles ($50.84m) for failing to delete so-called “fake” information about the war in Ukraine and other topics, according to the state TASS news agency.
- Yekaterina Duntsova, a 40-year-old former broadcast journalist, put her name forward to stand in Russia’s presidential election on a platform “for peace and democratic processes”. Duntsova has previously called for an end to the war in Ukraine and the release of political prisoners including opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The 40-year-old needs 300,000 signatures from across Russia by January 31 to support her candidacy. Vladimir Putin is expected to win in a landslide.
- Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s minister for strategic industries, said Kyiv plans to manufacture 1 million reconnaissance and attack drones as well as more than 11,000 medium- and long-range attack drones next year. The figure includes at least 1,000 drones with a range of more than 1,000km (620 miles), he said.
- Japan is considering allowing Patriot missile transfers to Ukraine, according to a report in Nikkei.