Day 651 of the Invasion of Ukraine: US Aid in Political DeadlockUkraine | December 6, 2023, Wednesday // 11:54| views
Day 651 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- The presidential elections in Russia will be scheduled for March 17
- Britain has imposed new sanctions on individuals and groups supporting Putin
- Ukraine reported a new Russian night attack with 48 drones
- Zelensky: Saint Nicholas will come to those who behave well, and VSU - to those who behave badly
- Zelensky refused to speak to the US Congress, will address the G-7
- US Treasury Secretary: We Will Be Blamed If Ukraine Loses The War
- Russia has rejected a US offer to exchange prisoners
- Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE today
The presidential elections in Russia will be scheduled for March 17
The presidential elections in Russia will be scheduled for March 17. This is clear from a draft law submitted to the upper house of the Russian parliament - the Federation Council, which will be voted on on Thursday.
The chairman of the parliamentary committee on constitutional legislation, Andrey Klishas, said that the debate on it is scheduled for Wednesday and the issue should not be postponed because of approaching constitutional deadlines, the Russian Interfax news agency reported.
"We are submitting a draft resolution to the Federation Council, tomorrow we will consider it in a plenary session. Today, based on our proposal, the House Council will include it in the agenda of the plenary session," the senator said on Wednesday.
According to Klishas, the decision on whether the voting in the Russian presidential elections should be three days is made by the Central Election Commission, whose head Ella Panfilova will be invited to a meeting of the Federation Council on December 7.
Incumbent President Vladimir Putin is the favorite for the election after the Russian constitution was changed to allow him to stay in office until 2036, with his previous terms erased.
Putin himself has not yet officially announced whether he will run, although many observers outside Russia say the decision has been made.
Moscow plans to organize a presidential vote in the occupied Ukrainian territories as well. In November, Putin signed a law on the organization of elections, which stipulates that in areas under martial law, voting will be limited to a few hours or postponed.
Elections will be covered only by journalists on contract, and photography in polling stations will only be allowed by military correspondents approved.
Putin has been president since 2000, when he succeeded Boris Yeltsin, with brief interruptions in which he and Dmitry Medvedev alternated between the presidency and prime ministership. In 2020, the Russian constitution was changed so that he could remain in office until 2036.
Britain has imposed new sanctions on individuals and groups supporting Putin
The UK has announced 46 new sanctions targeting individuals and groups supplying and financing President Vladimir Putin's war machine.
Foreign military suppliers exporting equipment and parts to Russia are among dozens of individuals and groups sanctioned today. Russian arms manufacturers and defense importers are also on the list, as are three individuals linked to the Wagner group and four operators of vessels from the so-called "shadow fleet" used by Russia to cushion the blow from sanctions oil-related measures imposed by the UK and its G7 partners.
It specifically states that Britain has sanctioned 31 individuals and organizations related to the design and manufacture of drones and missile parts and the import of electronic components.
The sanctions include businesses in Belarus, China, Serbia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan that continue to support Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine and specific entities in some of those countries.
Britain has staunchly supported Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022 and has indicated that the new sanctions mainly target third-party suppliers to limit Russia's ability to try to circumvent existing sanctions.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
"We will continue to increase pressure on Putin and fight third countries providing certain goods and technologies to Russia, wherever they are."
Ukraine reported a new Russian night attack with 48 drones
Ukraine announced today that it was subjected to a new Russian night attack with 48 Iranian-made Shahed drones, France Press reported.
"A total of 48 Shahed 136/131 drones were launched, of which 41 were shot down by air defenses," the Ukrainian army said on Telegram.
Zelensky: Saint Nicholas will come to those who behave well, and VSU - to those who behave badly
"Remember, Saint Nicholas the Miracle-Maker will come to those who behave well, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine - the creators of justice - will come to those who behave badly", reports the publication "Ukrainska Pravda".
Zelensky congratulated the servicemen and assured that the liberation of the territories controlled by the Russians and the victory over the "aggressor" is imminent.
Zelensky having a stroll this morning down the street from my house. Locals "Good morning".— Jay in Kyiv (@JayinKyiv) December 6, 2023
Very cool. pic.twitter.com/3DJvkck4Qw
In his address, he said that in the morning hours of the day he left the presidential office and walked the streets of Kyiv to the Wall of Memory of Ukrainian Heroes. In this regard, he called on Ukrainians to also visit the place to pay tribute to the fallen heroes, as well as "to think about the past and the future".
"December 6, 7:00 a.m., Day of the Armed Forces. Day of indestructible men and women, day of heroes, day of everyone who continues to defend the country and who gave his life not to give up Ukraine. Those who have not yet been here should come, see the faces of our heroes, look into their eyes and just be silent. Remember this morning and the morning 651 days ago - how noisy it was and how much we were afraid then , but the fear disappeared - and now everyone has heard about us, how hard it was then and how shameful it is now. To remember what they could have lost and what they saved, knowing thanks to whom exactly and for what reason."
"No matter how difficult it is, we will reach our borders, our people, our world, thanks to our people and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I congratulate all of you on your professional holiday. Today the word is ‘Bravo!’, the emotion - gratitude, desire - victory. Remember, St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker will come to those who behave well, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine - the creators of justice - to those who behave badly."
Biden: It's madness to stop helping Ukraine
US President Joe Biden described as "madness" the possible termination of military aid to Ukraine, writes The New York Times.
According to him, such a perspective is "simply wrong".
"Failure to support Ukraine is simply insane. It is against the interests of the United States," Biden said.
He expressed confidence that the United States will continue to provide assistance to Ukraine.
"We will do it," concluded the American president.
Earlier, the White House warned that without the passage of the aid bill, the US would soon run out of money for Ukraine.
This worried the Ukrainian leadership, in particular the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, who said that without the help of the United States, Ukraine could lose the war. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said that the US would be responsible for the defeat of Ukraine if it did not provide aid.
At the same time, Republicans gave Biden an ultimatum regarding support for Kyiv. In particular, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, on whom the bills that will be presented to US lawmakers depend, has warned that he will not support further military aid to Ukraine if the Biden administration does not agree to strengthen security on the border with Mexico.
Zelensky refused to speak to the US Congress, will address the G-7
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky canceled plans to directly appeal to US lawmakers for new aid on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives have been debating for weeks President Joe Biden's October request for 6 billion for Ukraine, Israel, US border security with Mexico and US interests in the Indo-Pacific, without make a decision.
On Tuesday, the White House warned that money for Ukraine is running out and will run out by the end of the year if Congress does not renew funding.
Members of the House and Senate were briefed by Biden administration officials, who were expected to be joined by Zelensky, but that did not happen, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Ukrainian leader was unable to is present.
The most serious objections to aid to Ukraine came from the Republican-led House. On Tuesday, its chairman, Mike Johnson, released a letter demanding more information from the Biden administration.
"I reiterate that President Biden must satisfy congressional oversight inquiries regarding the administration's failure thus far to present clearly defined objectives and its failure to provide essential weapons (to Ukraine) on time," Johnson wrote.
According to the letter, Johnson met with administration officials on Oct. 26 and said at the time that "additional funding for Ukraine is dependent on the passage of transformative changes to our nation's border security laws."
Congress has approved about 3 billion for Ukraine since the Russian invasion, but has not approved new funds since Republicans took control of the House from Biden's fellow Democrats in January.
Johnson himself voted against more aid to Kyiv's security in September, Reuters reminds.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned on Tuesday that the US would be "responsible for the defeat of Ukraine" if the US Congress fails to approve the latest funding request.
She added that the funding - especially for the general budget support of the government of Ukraine - is "extremely important" and a precondition for maintaining the flow of support from the International Monetary Fund to Ukraine.
"I've talked to members of Congress, my colleagues. I think they understand that this is a terrible situation and we can hold ourselves responsible for the defeat of Ukraine if we fail to provide this funding to Ukraine that is needed. And here I include direct budget support, because that's extremely important," Yellen said.
Meanwhile, the president of Japan, which currently chairs the group of seven most advanced industrialized nations united in the G7, said its leaders would talk via video link on Wednesday. Zelensky will join them.
A spokesman for Japan's foreign ministry said they would discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as artificial intelligence.
In addition to the USA and Japan, the G7 also includes Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Canada.
US Treasury Secretary: We Will Be Blamed If Ukraine Loses The War
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said yesterday that the United States "will be responsible for the defeat of Ukraine" if the US Congress fails to approve the latest request from President Joe Biden's administration for multibillion-dollar aid to finance the war-torn country. reported Reuters, quoted by BTA.
Yellen told reporters on a trip to Mexico that the funding — specifically for Ukraine's general budget — was "extremely important" and a prerequisite for maintaining continued International Monetary Fund support for Ukraine.
"I've spoken to members of Congress, my colleagues as well. I think they understand that the situation is dire and we can hold ourselves responsible for the defeat of Ukraine if we fail to provide the necessary funding for Ukraine, and I include direct budget support because it is essential," Yellen said.
Russia has rejected a US offer to exchange prisoners
US negotiators made a "new and worthwhile offer" to Russia in recent weeks to free Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, but Moscow rejected the offer, the US State Department said on Tuesday.
Both are US citizens, and Washington maintains that their detention on espionage charges, which led to the arrest of one and the 16-year prison sentence of the other, was unlawful. Whelan - a former US Marine - was convicted of espionage in 2020 and imprisoned in a penal colony in Mordovia, southeast of Moscow.
According to people familiar with the matter, quoted by the "Wall Street Journal", American negotiators have made an offer to exchange prisoners.
US officials have so far not disclosed that they have made proposals to Russia for the simultaneous release and return to the U.S. of Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned for more than 250 days with several consecutive extensions of his detention, and Whelan, a security official detained in Russia from the end of 2018
Earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US had made a significant offer for Whelan, 53, who was not included in two previous cases when the US was able to bring home Americans Trevor Reid and Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap. On the Russian side, this exchange resulted in the release of the Russians Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout.
Since then, Russia has shown no sign of interest in releasing other Russian citizens detained in the US, prompting US officials to begin looking at Russian citizens held elsewhere around the world as a potential opportunity for the next exchange.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that the US is "continually discussing this matter with third parties that may be able to assist."
Moscow and a representative of the Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to The Wall Street Journal's request for comment.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller gave the briefing on Tuesday, hours after Gershkovich's parents appeared in a television interview and a week after Whelan's family said he was attacked by a cellmate following an altercation at his penal colony. Miller declined to comment on details of the proposal.
“We had President Biden's promise that he would do whatever it takes to get Evan back. He also told us that he understands and feels our pain as a parent and his words echo in my mind every day. But it's been 250 days and Evan is not here,” Gershkovich's mother, Ella Millman, told Fox News on Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued Gershkovich accreditation to work as a journalist at the time of his arrest. He was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service on March 29 while on a reporting mission in the city of Yekaterinburg on espionage charges and recently celebrated his 32nd birthday in pre-trial detention. The publication and the US government strongly deny the allegations against him. Washington said Gershkovich was not a spy and had never worked for the government."
Late last month, a Russian court extended Gershkovich's pretrial detention until at least January 30, 2024.
Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE today
Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates today despite an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court over the war in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.
According to the Kremlin, the working visits will be focused on bilateral relations, as well as on the coordination of actions regarding the oil markets between the oil-producing countries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"All this will happen practically within 24 hours," Peskov said of the short trip. Putin last visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kremlin leader's foreign contacts are limited because of Russia's diplomatic isolation after the invasion of Ukraine. This will be Putin's first visit to countries that are not close allies - such as China, Belarus or Kazakhstan - since he ordered the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, DPA noted.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE are signatories to the International Criminal Court's treaty, meaning they are not required to detain Putin over the warrant accusing him of being personally responsible for abducting children from Ukraine during his war against the country.
However, the visit comes as armed UN police officers are patrolling a part of the Dubai Exhibition Center where the COP28 climate meeting is being held and which is now considered international territory.
Information released early this morning by Russian state news agency TASS about Putin's trip did not mention that the president might visit the COP28 venue. Russian presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov was quoted as saying Putin would have a "palace meeting" and face-to-face talks with UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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