Around a week before the possible decision on whether his country should begin EU accession negotiations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj once again appeared hopeful. It is the Ukrainian “priority” to make final decisions in parliament so that Ukraine meets all the required conditions, Zelensky said in his evening speech. "We believe that the EU will also fulfill all its promises to Ukraine," he added.
Ukraine received candidate status in 2022. A large majority of EU states now actually want to decide at a summit on December 14th and 15th, among other things, about the official start of accession negotiations for the country attacked by Russia. But it is still questionable whether this will happen.
A decision is only possible if no EU member state vetoes it - and just a few days ago the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened a blockade. Among other things, he criticizes the fact that Ukraine is not yet meeting all the reform requirements. However, some diplomats believe it is conceivable that Orban's threats are actually primarily about increasing pressure to obtain frozen EU funding for his country.
Blinken: Aid to Ukraine creates growth and jobs in the USA
In view of the great political resistance to further aid to Ukraine, the US government is now also aggressively using economic arguments to promote further support for Kiev. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday after a meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron in Washington: "If you look at the investments we have made in the defense of Ukraine (...), then 90 percent of them were made by us "The security assistance provided is actually spent here in the United States - at our manufacturers." Blinken emphasized: “This has created more American jobs and more growth in our own economy.”
The USA is Ukraine's main military supporter in the defense against the Russian invasion. Since the war began at the end of February 2022, the USA has provided billions of dollars in military aid to Kiev. However, the release of new US aid is currently being blocked by a domestic political dispute between Democrats and Republicans in the US Parliament.
Great Britain accuses Russia of hacking attacks
According to the British government, the Russian secret service FSB has attempted to interfere in British politics with cyber attacks on politicians, journalists and non-governmental organizations. "I can confirm today that the Russian security service FSB is behind ongoing efforts to interfere in our democratic processes," Foreign Secretary Leo Doherty told Parliament in London. Russia rejected the allegations.
The British government said: "While some attacks have resulted in documents becoming public, attempts to intervene in UK politics and democracy have been unsuccessful." The attacks on parliamentarians from all parties have continued since at least 2015.
Iran's President visits Moscow
During a visit to Moscow, Iranian leader Ebrahim Raisi accused Israel of bombing the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. The attacks must stop, he demanded at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During their meeting, Putin and Raisi also spoke out in favor of expanding bilateral cooperation. Putin mentioned the energy sector and large infrastructure projects.
Iran is Moscow's most important partner in the region, including as a supplier of weapons for the Ukraine war. Cooperation is set to become even closer through a free trade agreement between the Russian-dominated Eurasian Free Trade Zone and Iran. This will also be included in the Brics group of important emerging countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which Moscow plays an important role.
Kiev speaks of 28,000 civilians in captivity
The government in Kiev suspects that around 28,000 Ukrainian civilians from the occupied territories are in Russian captivity. About 2,000 of these prisoners are over 65 years old, said the government's human rights commissioner, Dmytro Lubinets, according to the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform in Kiev. The report did not say exactly what the Ukrainian estimate was based on.
What is important today
Heavy fighting continues in Ukraine. The Ukrainian army continues to be particularly under pressure, particularly in the eastern Donetsk region near the city of Avdiivka.