Ukraine President Zelensky calls now House Speaker McCarthy to congratulate ….
Russia is going to draft almost a half million more troops?
Ukraine troops are getting training on their coming Patriot missiles…
The Ukraine military is ecstatic at getting new more powerful armored combat vehicle’s….
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Saturday for becoming House speaker, adding that Kyiv was “counting on your continued support and further U.S. assistance to bring our common victory closer.”
Here is the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.
- U.S. support “has been vital for Ukraine’s success on the battlefield,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter as he congratulated McCarthy. Zelensky made a historic address to Congress last month, after the GOP had won control of the 2023-2025 session, and some Republicans have pushed back on future funding for Ukraine. In October, McCarthy said that if Republicans won control of Congress, further military aid for Ukraine should not be taken for granted.
- The Biden administration announced a $2.85 billion military aid package for Ukraine, the largest drawdown from U.S. defense stockpiles to date. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the package will include additional howitzers, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as MRAPs. In his nightly address, Zelensky praised the military aid package and said the armored vehicles — for which Kyiv had long called — were “exactly what [Ukraine] needed.”
- Putin marked Orthodox Christmas alone at the Kremlin on Saturday, Russian media said. The Russian leader took part in a religious service by himself in a Kremlin cathedral rather than attending a public Mass, and brief clips on state television showed him alongside priests, Reuters reported. In Ukraine, which has large Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic communities, worshipers marked the day in churches and with muted festivities.
- Russia is seeking to mobilize 500,000 additional troops, a senior Ukrainian military intelligence official said, according to the Guardian. Russian officials have previously denied that they were planning further drafts. In September, the Russian military conducted an unpopular mobilization of 300,000 people. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters that “just adding more people is not going to address some of the systemic issues that the Russian military has faced throughout this campaign.”
- The Russian Defense Ministry would comply with the cease-fire until the end of Saturday, it said in a statement. However, British and U.S. officials said that fighting had continued, and the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, noted that “hostilities continued in Ukraine” and that some pro-Russian officials and military bloggers had criticized the cease-fire announcement.
- “Fighting has continued at a routine level into the Orthodox Christmas period,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Saturday. “One of the most fiercely contested sectors continues to be around the town of Kremina, in Luhansk,” it added. Kremina is about 30 miles north of Bakhmut. The dense forest area there means combat has “largely devolved to dismounted infantry fighting, often at short range.”
- U.S. instructors this month will start training Ukrainian troops to use Patriot missiles, the antiaircraft systems that the United States and Germany have pledged to supply to Ukraine. “It will take several months. So, again, Patriot is not an immediate-term capability. But we will start that training very soon,” said Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant U.S. defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
- Kremlin-backed authorities in occupied Melitopol and areas in the Zaporizhzhia region have ended broadcasts of Ukrainian television in favor of Russian programming, according to the Ukrainian military. The Post could not immediately verify the military’s assertions, shared in a daily Facebook update. Russia illegally annexed eastern Ukraine this summer after an orchestrated vote that the international community has criticized as a sham election….
….The Ukrainian government is ecstatic: “The time of weapons taboo has passed,” the foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said in a Facebook post, welcoming the new lethal equipment.
Russia is furious: The new vehicles are “another step toward an escalation of the Ukrainian conflict,” the embassy in Berlin decried in a statement.
And frontline troops are cynical, often complaining that while the allies are not letting them lose, they aren’t letting them win, either.
But the new weapons seem to mark a policy change in Washington, Paris and Berlin, giving more lethal support to the Ukrainian infantry, indicating less anxiety about Russian escalation and angling for more decisive Ukrainian victories in 2023.
The trilateral decision “clarifies Western support for Ukraine for a potential offensive in the months to come,” said Ulrich Speck, a German foreign policy analyst. “And it signals Moscow that we’re not on the trajectory to peace negotiations soon.”…
Currently, Ukrainian forces are using their Soviet-era tanks in more of a support role, keeping them protected behind the lines and employing their large main guns like artillery. They often rely on armored personnel carriers to move troops quickly in offensive maneuvers….
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