Ukraine Claims Foothold Against Russian Positions on East Bank of Dnipro River

Ukraine’s military said on social media Friday that it had gained “a foothold on several bridgeheads” on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, near the key southern city of Kherson. 

Russia conceded that Ukrainian forces had claimed back some territory on the opposing bank. 

Ukrainian troops are trying to push Russian forces away from the Dnipro to stop them from shelling civilian areas on the Ukrainian-held west bank, the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a report Friday.

Ukraine also said Friday it has destroyed 15 Russian naval vessels and has damaged 12 others in the Black Sea since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in 2022.

Ukraine has forced Russia to move its naval forces to positions more difficult for Kyiv’s weapons to reach, Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said in televised comments.

Russia is also suffering logistical problems, he said, due to having to relocate vessels to Novorossiysk and periodically to Tuapse, both ports on the eastern flank of the Black Sea to the southeast of Crimea and farther from Ukraine.

The Associated Press and Reuters could not independently confirm battlefield claims. Russia usually does not acknowledge damage to its military assets and says it repels most Ukrainian attacks.

More aid 

Meanwhile, EU membership talks with Ukraine are “at risk,” and there is no agreement in the bloc to grant Kyiv a further $54 billion (50 billion euros) in aid, a senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Friday. 

The official said Hungary is potentially obstructing the unanimity necessary for Ukraine’s EU membership talks. 

The proposal by the bloc’s executive European Commission to revise the bloc’s long-term budget to assign the funds for Ukraine through 2027 was also criticized from several sides, said the official.

“Leaders … were realizing it’s quite expensive,” said the official, who is involved in preparing a December 14-15 summit in Brussels of the EU 27 member states’ national leaders. “How do we pay for this?”

The downbeat comments reflect the increasing fatigue and gloomier mood setting in among Kyiv’s Western backers as the war drags on.

“Maybe we have had too high expectations,” said the official. “Will we continue to support Ukraine financially, military? Do we have the means to do this? Are we sure that the U.S. will be following us over the coming years?

“The consensus is to continue to provide support to Ukraine, but some of those questions are coming,” he added.

The Dutch government has earmarked an additional $2.2 billion (2 billion euros) in military aid for Ukraine in 2024, in what Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said Friday was a sign of unwavering support for Kyiv’s war against Russia.

It is part of a wider package the Netherlands will provide to Ukraine next year that includes an initial $111 million (102 million euros) for reconstruction and humanitarian aid that will be increased during the year if needed.

The latest package takes the total amount of Dutch support for Ukraine during the conflict to around $8 billion (7.5 billion euros), Ollongren said.

“What’s most critical for me is that we’ll be providing an additional 2 billion euros in military aid next year,” Ollongren told Reuters.

Military conference

Ukraine and the United States will hold a military industry conference in December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“In December of this year, a special conference involving Ukrainian and American industries, government officials and other state actors will take place — everyone involved in organizing our defense,” Zelenskyy said in a Friday evening address.

Kyiv is ramping up efforts to produce its own weapons amid concerns that supplies from the West might be faltering. It also hopes joint ventures with international armament producers can help revive its domestic industry.

The British Defense Ministry said Friday that Russia is “likely” using an updated surveillance aircraft due to concerns that Ukraine could deploy combat aircraft provided by the West. 

The ministry, in its daily update on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, said that Russia is “likely” using the A-50 MAINSTAY D. The report said the newest version of the Mainstay, which was first developed in the 1980s, is able to spot adversary aircraft at longer ranges than previous models. 

Ukraine’s children

More than 2,400 Ukrainian children have been taken to Belarus since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, according to new research published Thursday by Yale University. 

The findings by the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health are the most extensive yet about Belarus’ alleged role in Russia’s forced relocation of Ukrainian children.

The report found that Ukrainian children, ages 6 to 17, had been transported from at least 17 cities in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied territory.

Yale identified more than 2,000 children who were transported to the Dubrava children’s center in the Minsk region of Belarus between September 2022 and May 2023. More than 390 children were taken to another 12 facilities, the report said.

That’s on top of the nearly 20,000 Ukrainian children who were forcibly taken from Ukraine to Russia since the war began, according to Kateryna Rashevska, a legal expert at the Regional Center for Human Rights in Kyiv. 

Ukraine’s war crimes prosecutors are investigating the forced transfer of Ukrainian children as potential genocide.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.   

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