Here is the situation as it stands on Wednesday, December 21.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is on his way to the United States to meet his counterpart Joe Biden and visit Congress, the White House has said – his first known overseas trip since Russia’s invasion on February 24.
- The US is expected to announce $1.8bn in military assistance for Ukraine, US officials said on condition of anonymity. The package would include aid and the Patriot missile system.
- Zelenskyy’s US visit also comes as the Congress is on the brink of approving about $45bn more in economic and military aid to Kyiv in a funding bill.
- The World Bank said it had approved an additional financing package totalling $610m to address urgent relief and recovery needs in Ukraine.
- There are conflicting views in Russia on whether or not to launch a renewed offensive in Ukraine, a senior US State Department official said, reiterating that Washington would keep backing Kyiv regardless of which scenario plays out.
- Russia is planning to give Iran advanced military components in exchange for hundreds of drones, British defence minister Ben Wallace said, calling on the West to do more to expose the trade.
- The EU foreign policy chief told Iran’s foreign minister that Tehran should immediately halt military support for Russia and internal repression in Iran.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that conditions in Russian-held areas of Ukraine were “extremely difficult” and ordered the strengthening of Russia’s borders.
- Zelenskyy paid a surprise visit to the front-line city of Bakhmut, where he hailed the “superhuman” troops waging a battle that has come to symbolise the grinding brutality of the war.
- Electricity supplies in the Kyiv region were at a “critical” level, with less than half the capital’s power needs being supplied following Russian missile and drone attacks, regional officials said.
- Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine should prepare for new Russian attacks on its energy grid because Moscow wanted Ukrainians to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays in darkness.
- The World Health Organization said 10 million people, or approximately a quarter of Ukraine’s population, may suffer from a mental health disorder due to the war.