Ukraine Daily Summary - Saturday, December 9

Putin plays it safe by delaying new mobilization ahead of election in Russia -- Putin plays it safe by delaying new mobilization ahead of election in Russia? -- Russia holds 500 Ukrainian medical workers captive -- Tusk says Orban government 'openly' supports Russian positions -- and more

Saturday, December 9

Russia’s war against Ukraine

A Ukrainian T-64 tank goes on combat duty near Bakhmut on Dec. 8, 2023. (Kostya Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images)

Ukraine ships first load of trucks stuck at Polish border by train. Ukraine’s state-owned railway Ukrzaliznytsia shipped 23 trucks by train that had been stuck at the Polish border amid the ongoing protest and blockade by Polish truckers, the company’s press service announced on Dec. 7. Once across the Polish border, the trucks unloaded from the trains and continued their journey by road.

Ambassador: Russia holds 500 Ukrainian medical workers captive. Russia holds 500 Ukrainian medical workers in detention, Ukraine’s representative in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said on Dec. 8, calling it a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Putin announces he will seek 5th term as president. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999. Constitutional changes signed by the Russian leader in 2021 allowed Putin to run for two more six-year terms, meaning he could stay in power until 2036. It is unclear if other candidates will nominally participate, but Putin’s victory is all but assured.

Russians, Belarusians to be allowed to compete as neutral athletes at 2024 Paris Olympics. Under the rules, Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be able to participate as teams nor display any flags or any official identification with either country.

RFE/RL: Russian intelligence may receive data from Ukrainian surveillance cameras. A Schemes investigation found that footage from surveillance cameras with Russian software goes directly to servers in Moscow with ties to the FSB.

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Businessmen charged with trying to steal funds for military aircraft parts. A former director of a state-owned defense company and three others were charged over a scheme to embezzle Hr 3.9 million ($106,500) in funds for Su-27 aircraft parts, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported on Dec. 8.

Prosecutors: Ukrainian spy who coordinated Russian attacks in Odesa identified. According to the prosecutors, the individual began spying for Russia in October and was tasked with taking pictures of the locations of Ukrainian troops, as well as defense and energy infrastructure in Odesa, which he then sent to his Russian contacts.

Parliament approves additional amendments to law on national minorities. Ukraine’s parliament adopted an updated draft law on national minorities to implement the latest recommendations by the Council of Europe, lawmakers reported on Dec. 8.

Zelensky signs 4 laws required for EU accession. However, the law on reforming the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) signed by Zelensky failed to fully repeal the so-called Lozovyi’s amendments, which are thought to help those suspected or accused of corruption to avoid responsibility.

Hackers impersonated Ukrainian agencies in emails to Polish officials. Government employees in Poland and Ukraine received emails with subject lines related to “debts” and “legal claims,” according to an investigation carried out by the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine.

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Ukraine war latest: Scammers reportedly cheat volunteers out of millions on drone purchases

Alleged scammers may have stolen up to Hr 84 million ($2.3 million) from volunteers and charitable organizations on the pretenses of selling drones for the military, an investigation by Ukrainska Pravda published on Dec. 8 revealed.

Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

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Putin plays it safe by delaying new mobilization ahead of election in Russia

Russia’s upcoming presidential election on March 17, 2024 lacks intrigue and can hardly be called a real election at all. Analysts say that it is a sham ritual used to legitimize Putin’s dictatorial rule.

Photo: Contributor/Getty Images

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Anger and disappointment in endless lines of Ukrainian trucks at Polish border

As Polish haulers’ blockade of border checkpoints with Ukraine stretches into its second month, thousands of Ukrainian truckers remain stranded in huge lines waiting to cross into their homeland.

Photo: Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine

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This week in Ukraine Ep. 37 — What’s behind the crisis at the Ukraine-Poland border?

What do Polish truckers want? | This Week in Ukraine Ep. 37

Human cost of war

8 injured, 1 killed in Russian missile strike on Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. The number of people injured in a Russian missile attack against Dnipropetrovsk Oblast’s Pavlohrad district on Dec. 8 has risen to eight, Governor Serhii Lysak reported.

Death toll in Russian strike on Donetsk Oblast rises to 5. Forensic experts identified the body of the fifth victim of Russia’s Nov. 29 missile strike on Novohrodivka in Donetsk Oblast, the National Police reported on Dec. 8.

General Staff: Russia has lost 337,220 troops in Ukraine. Russia has lost 337,220 troops in Ukraine since the beginning of its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on Dec. 8. This number includes 990 casualties Russian forces suffered just over the past day.

Opinions and insights

Alexander Khrebet: Don’t write off Ukrainians living under Russian occupation

“It’s been almost a decade since I fled Donetsk after living under Russian occupation for two months. Going back before liberation would be suicide following the years I’ve spent reporting on Russian atrocities in the occupied territories,” reporter Alexander Khrebet writes.

Photo: Anton Skyba

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International response

FT: EU to grant members rights to block Russian gas imports. The EU is preparing to give its member states powers to block Russian gas imports in a bid to curb Moscow’s energy revenues, the Financial Times reported on Dec. 8, citing a draft document seen by the outlet.

UK sanctions 17 members of Belarusian judiciary over role in politically-motivated cases. The U.K. announced sanctions on Dec. 8 against 17 members of the Belarusian judiciary, including judges, prosecutors, and an investigator, for their involvement in politically-motivated cases. The sanctioned individuals had been involved in cases against “political activists, independent journalists, and human rights defenders.”

Germany hands over shells, drones, other equipment in latest delivery to Ukraine. The delivered items included 11 reconnaissance drones, six border protection vehicles, eight off-road Zetros trucks, 100,000 first aid kits and other medical materials, 33 GMG automatic grenade launchers, and additional 155mm artillery shells.

Bulgaria’s defense committee backs air defenses, F-16 training for Ukraine. The Bulgarian parliament’s defense committee approved on Dec. 7 the provision of older, faulty air defenses to Ukraine, as well as assistance with F-16 training, the Bulgarian National Radio reported.

Bulgarian parliament overrides presidential veto to approve more military aid to Ukraine. The agreement to provide Kyiv with over 100 previously written-off Soviet-era armored vehicles, already signed by both Sofia and Kyiv, had been initially sent back by Rumen Radev on Dec. 4 to parliament, which now approved the transfer again, with 162 votes in favor and 55 against.

Guardian: EU set to unlock part of frozen funds for Hungary. The European Commission is expected to unlock 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in frozen funds for Hungary, the Guardian reported on Dec. 8, citing anonymous diplomatic sources.

Tusk says Orban government ‘openly’ supports Russian positions. “(Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor) Orban does not hide it,” Donald Tusk added, saying, “his relationship with Moscow is organic.”

Finnish court releases suspected Russian terrorist, rules he cannot be extradited to Ukraine. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) found that Yan Petrovsky collaborated with members of the Russian-installed proxy government in occupied Luhansk Oblast and the Rusich neo-Nazi paramilitary unit to aid the Russian invasion of Ukraine starting in 2014.

International Maritime Organization to send mission to Ukraine. “This decision, as well as the non-election of Russia to the International Maritime Organization Council for 2023-2024, shows the protection of the international maritime community’s right to free navigation of every country,” said Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

In other news

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to exchange prisoners, work toward peace treaty. Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on Dec. 7 to work toward a peace treaty and make tangible steps for stabilizing mutual relations, including an exchange of prisoners.

Zelensky: Nearly 40 more Ukrainians evacuated from Gaza. Ukraine evacuated another group of its citizens from the Gaza Strip amid increasing Israeli strikes on the Palestinian enclave, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Dec. 8.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Martin Fornusek, Oleksiy Sorokin, Nate Ostiller, Francis Farrell, Dinara Khalilova, Dmytro Basmat, and Abbey Fenbert.

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