(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the US had not encouraged or helped Ukraine to launch strikes inside Russia. 

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of carrying out aerial attacks that were the deepest inside Russian territory since the war started, as authorities reported another drone assault on an airfield closer to the border. 

An oil storage tank caught fire after the drone strike at an airfield in the Kursk region, the state-run Tass news service reported, citing regional Governor Roman Starovoyt on Telegram. Ukraine has never officially claimed responsibility for any attacks that have happened on Russian soil.

Ukraine has enough personnel in its armed forces and doesn’t plan to respond to Russia’s mobilization of more troops with similar steps, the country’s defense minister said.

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Key Developments

  • Russia Blames Ukraine for Blasts at Bases That Damaged Warplanes
  • Poland Makes U-Turn, Accepts German Patriot Missiles on Its Soil
  • EU Pauses Hungary Funds Debate as Budapest Halts Ukraine Aid
  • South Korea’s Arms Sales Double on Russia’s War in Ukraine
  • Russia Independent TV Network Stripped of License in Latvia 
  • Yale Professor Became Enemy of the Russian State Over a List

On the Ground

Russian forces resumed strikes on the recently liberated southern city of Kherson, further damaging infrastructure, said the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. One person was killed. Kremlin forces targeted the suburbs around the city of Zaporizhzhia with missiles overnight, damaging infrastructure and residential buildings, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said. The Nikopol district in the central Dnipropetrovsk region was shelled, according to local authorities, while Russian troops continued an offensive around Bakhmut and Avdiyivka.  

(All times CET) 

Blinken Says US Has Not Aided in Strikes on Russia (11 p.m.)

Blinken said the US had not encouraged or helped Ukraine to launch strikes inside Russia, but contrasted Ukraine’s actions against what he said was a barrage of Russian missile attacks. Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out attacks on airfields in its territory.

“We have neither encouraged or enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia,” Blinken said at a press conference on Tuesday. “But the important thing is to understand what Ukrainians are living through every day with the ongoing Russian aggression against their country.”

“Put it in context — what’s happening every single day and every single night Ukraine is strike upon strike coming from Russia and now trying to take out the civilian infrastructure that is allowing people to have heat and water company electricity,” Blinken said.

Ukraine Sees No Need for Additional Mobilization (8:45 p.m.)

Ukraine doesn’t plan to respond to Russia’s mobilization of additional troops with a similar step, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said, adding that what the country needs most is more weapons from its allies.

“Additional mobilization isn’t an issue so far. Today we have sufficient number of people in the military forces and in the security and defence sector in general,” Reznikov said, putting the total at about 1 million. “What we need, and we don’t hide that and we say that to our western partners: we need weapons. Weapons and weapons again. Starting from artillery, ammunition for this artillery, armed vehicles, tanks, aircraft.”

Russia Seeks UN Security Council Meeting on Western Arms (7:15 p.m.)

Russia requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Dec. 9 to discuss western supplies of weapons to Ukraine, Tass reported, citing Russia’s envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzya.

Ukraine’s Reserves Exceed Pre-War Level, Central Bank Says (5:39 p.m.)

Ukraine’s foreign currency and gold reserves surpassed the pre-war level to approach $28 billion as of Dec. 1, the central bank said on its website. The boost was the result of an inflow of foreign aid, lower net sales of foreign currency through market interventions and more moderate debt payments last month, it said.

Ukraine received more than $4.6 billion in foreign aid in November, including more than $2.5 billion from the European Union and $1.5 billion from the US. The current reserve level covers about 3.5 months of imports.

Ukraine Has Spent More Than $30 Billion on Military (5:10 p.m.)

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said his government has spent 1.13 trillion hryvnia ($30.6 billion) on military and security needs since the conflict began in February. He told a cabinet meeting in Kyiv that the bill included salaries of 770 billion hryvnia and expenditures on equipment and weaponry purchases, including repairs, worth 176 billion hryvnia.

The overall sum is equal to more than a decade of defense spending before the war, with another 300 billion hryvnia earmarked for equipment purchases next year, the premier said. 

Russia Mulls Setting an Oil Price Floor in Response to G-7 Cap (3:22 p.m.) 

Russia is considering setting a price floor for its international oil sales as a response to a cap imposed by the Group of Seven. Authorities in Moscow are weighing either imposing a fixed price for the nation’s barrels, or stipulating maximum discounts to international benchmarks at which they can be sold, according to two officials familiar with the plan.

There’s no visibility yet about what the precise level might be, and if it materializes traders will be focused on whether it’s above the cap level, or comfortably below. The level would be important because companies that want to access industry standard insurance and other key G-7 services can only do so if they pay $60 a barrel or less. Greek oil tankers would also be off limits for above-cap cargo purchases.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Slams India’s Purchase of Russian Oil (3:08 p.m.) 

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed India’s purchases of cheap Russian oil as “morally inappropriate.”

“The opportunity for India to buy Russian oil at a cheap price comes from the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from Russian aggression and dying every day,” Kuleba told India’s New Delhi Television news channel. “It is not enough to point fingers at the European Union and say, ‘Oh, they are doing the same thing’.”

Russia’s Running Out of Missiles, Ukrainian Intelligence Chief Says (1:42 p.m.) 

Stockpiles of high-quality missiles in Russia are running out, while the production of new missiles is insufficient, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said in a televised interview.

“They have missiles for several large-scale attacks — and then will totally run out,” he said. China and Iran haven’t helped Moscow replenish its stocks, he said. “As of now, Iran has not delivered a single ballistic missile to the Russian Federation. The same story with China: nothing special, except for household goods,” Budanov said.

Ukraine, Russia Exchange 60 Prisoners Each on Armed Services Day (1:29 p.m.)

Ukrainian and Russian authorities conducted an exchange of 60 prisoners of war each on the nation’s Armed Services Day, Zelenskiy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak and Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said in statements.

Yermak identified the returned Ukrainian prisoners as personnel from the military, the national guard and the border service, including 58 men and two women – 15 officers and 45 privates and sergeants. Among them are those who fought in the Russian-captured Black Sea port of Mariupol and held prisoner in Olenivka in the occupied eastern Donetsk region. Pushilin offered no details.

EU Funding Held up as Hungary, Member States Spar Over Relief (1:26 p.m.)

Some €18 billion ($19 billion) in European Union funding for Kyiv was held up in a standoff between member states and Hungary over the fate of billions in funding for Budapest. EU ministers delayed the adoption of a Covid-recovery plan for Hungary after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s finance minister said his government would veto the joint EU support for Ukraine, which is struggling to prop up its battered economy. 

EU ministers may reconvene as soon as next week, according to a diplomat.

Ukraine Receiving Energy Equipment Shipments, Kuleba Says (1:15 p.m.) 

High-power generators worth $30 million will be shipped to Ukraine by the U.S.-based Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Foreign Minister Kuleba said during a video briefing. 

Aid shipments will also include 26 powerful generators from the Netherlands and cables and transformers from Poland. While Ukraine has made progress in obtaining air-defense weapons and munitions in recent weeks, talks with US on sending advanced tanks and Patriot missile systems are moving much more slowly, Kuleba said. 

Kyiv Seeks More Than 1,000 Generators for Farmers (12:22 p.m.)

The government is reaching out to other countries and organizations for help buying generators for the agricultural sector, Deputy Minister for Agrarian Policy Markiyan Dmytrasevych said in a statement on the ministry’s website. The country needs 1,125 units, with only 25 confirmed so far, he said.

More Blasts Hit Russian Airfields After Monday’s Drones (11:22 a.m.)

The latest incident followed attacks Monday on military bases in Russia’s Saratov and Ryazan regions that damaged two aircraft and killed three service personnel when drones crashed after being intercepted by air-defenses, according to the Defense Ministry in Moscow. The airfields are home to strategic aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Air defense spokesman Yuriy Ihnat during an online video briefing from Kyiv didn’t comment on any role by Ukraine in the “mysterious explosions” in Russia. That’s in line with Ukraine’s long-standing approach of neither confirming nor denying attacks on targets inside Russian territory.

 

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