Zelensky in Washington as US confirms aid; Putin says Russia has ‘no limitations’ on military spending

Zelensky in Washington as US confirms aid; Putin says Russia has ‘no limitations’ on military spending
US President Joe Biden (R) meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) in the Oval Office at the White House, in Washington DC, USA, 21 December 2022 in Washington. Zelenskiy is on his first known foreign trip since Russia invaded Ukraine more than 300 days ago, travelling to the US on a high-stakes visit to secure support for his war effort. EPA-EFE/Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA/POOL

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Washington on Wednesday to address Congress, his first trip outside his country since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

US President Joe Biden’s administration confirmed nearly $2-billion in military assistance and will announce moves to deliver a Patriot missile battery to help Ukraine bolster its defences this winter.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war in Ukraine, and his defence minister said Moscow should expand its armed forces to 1.5 million troops from the current 1.15 million.

Key developments

On the ground

Ukrainian forces repelled assaults near 25 settlements, including the eastern city of Bakhmut, over the past day, Ukraine’s General Staff reported. Russian troops launched five missile attacks and 16 airstrikes, as well as 61 multiple rocket launcher assaults, damaging civilian infrastructure in several cities, including Kherson, according to the statement.

Russia hit the southern town of Ochakiv, in the Mykolayiv region, with cannon artillery on Wednesday afternoon, injuring three people including a 10-year-old child, according to Zelensky Office deputy chief Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

Biden to announce Patriots, other aid 

Biden announced that the US would provide Ukraine with $1-billion worth of military aid via a drawdown of existing stock including expanded air defence and precision-strike capabilities, as well as other munitions and equipment, the State Department said in a statement.

The Department of Defense also announced an additional $850-million of security assistance, bringing total US military aid to $21.9-billion.

The package will for the first time include the Patriot Air Defence System, which will improve Ukraine’s anti-air capabilities as it can shoot down short-range ballistic missiles and aircraft at a higher ceiling than now, the State Department said.




Sites go dark across the globe in support of Ukraine 

More than 60 famous world locations including the Colosseum in Rome, the Sydney Opera House and the Rockefeller Center in New York, switched off the lights on Wednesday in support of Ukraine.

The project was a fundraising effort to collect aid for power generators for hospitals in Ukraine, United24, the fundraising arm of the government in Kyiv, said on Telegram.

Putin vows no limit in funds to ensure victory

Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war and urged the army to deliver on his declared goals, with the invasion approaching its 11th month.

“The country and government is giving everything that the army asks for — everything,” Putin told top military officials at the Defence Ministry’s annual meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.

The commitment to spare no expense on the war will be a strain on government finances as the proceeds from energy exports come under pressure from price restrictions imposed by the US and its allies.

US to impose new controls on Iranian-supplied drones to Russia  

Biden’s administration is poised to announce new export controls targeting Iranian drones and drone parts that Russia has used in Ukraine since its invasion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ukraine still suffering from significant energy deficit 

Limits were placed on electricity consumption in all Ukrainian regions after nine waves of Russian missile and drone attacks on energy targets, national grid operator Ukrenergo said.

The most difficult situations were in the capital, where half the city was still without electricity after Monday’s drone attack, Kyiv region, and the areas previously occupied by Russia in the east and south under permanent Russian shelling, Ukrenergo said.

Xi calls for talks on Ukraine crisis in meeting with Medvedev  

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of the United Russia party, in Beijing, state-run CCTV reported.

On Ukraine, Xi said he hoped all sides could remain rational and begin talks. Medvedev said the situation was “very complicated”, but Russia was willing to solve the problem through talks.




Zelensky to address US Congress in person 

Zelensky leaves Ukraine at a critical stage in the war. His country has faced a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks targeting Ukraine’s civilians and critical energy infrastructure in recent weeks, leading to power and water cuts.

The speech to Congress gives Zelensky the opportunity to personally appeal to US legislators to continue assistance for Ukraine even after Republicans, who have been more sceptical of Biden’s support for the country, take control of the House in January. Zelensky has pleaded for more advanced weapons systems to blunt Russian attacks and for additional energy and economic support as civilians brace for a brutal winter ahead.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Zelensky’s visit to Washington will show “strong, bipartisan support for Ukraine.”

Ukrainian hackers gather data on Russian soldiers 

Pro-Ukrainian hackers are gathering intelligence about Russian military personnel to help inform decision-making on the battlefield, according to Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation.

Members of Ukraine’s so-called IT Army, a volunteer band of computer specialists, is assembling a “Book of Executioners” to catalogue Russian soldiers who kill and allegedly torture Ukrainians, Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with Bloomberg News in Kyiv.

Officials in Kyiv have previously told Bloomberg they’re documenting suspected Russian hacking incidents as part of a plan to prosecute Russian leaders in an international court. DM


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