1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Ukraine updates: Military proposes extra mobilization

Published December 20, 2023last updated December 20, 2023

Ukraine has proposed mobilizing 500,000 extra troops. Meanwhile, the leaders of the US Senate say Washington will not approve new aid for Ukraine before the year's end. DW has the latest.

Ukrainian soldiers stand with rifles around their shoulders
Ukraine's troop numbers are not known, but it has said in the past it has around 1 million people under armsImage: Kuba Stezycki/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday the military had proposed mobilizing 450,000-500,000 more Ukrainians into the armed forces in what would mark a dramatic step up.

In other news, US Senate leaders have denied Ukraine any further military aid before the end of the year.

Republican and Democrat lawmakers have been in a deadlock over releasing the proposed funds for Ukraine, with some members of the Republican party expressing outright opposition to continuing to support the defense against Russia's invasion.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, December 20:

Skip next section Ukraine's Western allies introduce anti cyber assault mechanism
December 20, 2023

Ukraine's Western allies introduce anti cyber assault mechanism

The Foreign Ministries of 10 Ukrainian allies have announced formalizing a new mechanism to coordinate and facilitate civilian cyber capacity building to help Kyiv defend itself against Russian cyber attacks and develop resilience.

Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States all teamed up together to create what they dubbed the Tallinn Mechanism.

The new mechanism aims to bring the 10 countries closer at work in supporting Ukraine in promoting cyber skills and further increasing its cyber resilience.

"As part of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the world has witnessed an unrelenting cyber assault against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure, from banking to energy supplies and innocent Ukrainian people," the UK said in a statement announcing the new mechanism.

The UK added that its CSSF UK-Ukraine Cyber Program has delivered over £10 million (approximately $12.67 million) "to bolster Ukraine's cyber defenses since the Russian invasion."

Meanwhile, Germany said it has supported Ukraine with cyber projects worth €23 million (approximately $25.21 million) this year alone.

Skip next section Russia critical of NATO plans for permanent German deployment in Lithuania
December 20, 2023

Russia critical of NATO plans for permanent German deployment in Lithuania

Russia has cirticizedGermany for its plans to deploy a brigade to Lithuania that it hopes will be fully combat ready by 2027.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deployment would lead to "an escalation of military tensions" between Russia and the NATO military alliance, of which both Germany and Lithuania are members.

NATO began establishing battalion-sized battlegroups in four eastern members on Russia's border as early as 2017, with Germany leading the group posted in Lithuania.

These were expanded in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The new plans to permanently station roughly 4,800 German soldiers in Lithuania will be the first time post-war Germany permanently stations troops outside its borders.

Germany to station troops in Lithuania

Skip next section Germany confirms seizing Russian bank funds
December 20, 2023

Germany confirms seizing Russian bank funds

German prosecutors announced on Wednesday a decision to seize hundreds of millions of euros from a Russian bank, confirming earlier media reports.

Germany's federal prosecutor's office said it filed a motion requesting "independent confiscation proceedings" to seize over €728 million (roughly $789 million) which a Russian financial institution deposited into a bank account in Frankfurt.

The motion was filed due to suspecting the depositing act was an attempt to violate embargo regulations under German law.

The bank in question was not named by the prosecution. But German magazin der Spiegel said it was a unit of the Moscow stock exchange, adding that it had parked the funds at the German subsidiary of US bank JP Morgan Chase.

Immediately after the Kremlin ordered its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 group started freezing some Russian assets. Some $300 billion have since been consequently blocked in participating countries following a series of different sanctions and steps.

Skip next section Russian court fines Google over 'fake' information on Ukraine war
December 20, 2023

Russian court fines Google over 'fake' information on Ukraine war

A Russian court has fined Alphabet's Google some 4.6 billion roubles (roughly $50.8 million or €46.3 million) over what it said was a failure to delete "fake" information about the Ukraine war, Russian media reported.

The fine was calculated as a share of Google's annual turnover in Russia.

Moscow, which calls its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine a "special military operation" has been struggling to control content on foreign technology companies regarding the conflict. 

Alphabet's YouTube has been a particular cause for Russia's concern. However, it has yet to try to block the platform, unlike other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or X (formerly Twitter).

Google was served similar turnover-based penalties in late 2021 and in August 2022.

Skip next section UK notes stalemate on Ukraine front lines
December 20, 2023

UK notes stalemate on Ukraine front lines

Ukraine's front lines are overall "characterized by stasis," the UK's Ministry of Defence said in its daily intelligence report on Wednesday.

Commenting on the Ukrainian side, the ministry said Kyiv has mobilized "a concerted effort to improve field fortifications as its forces pivot to a more defensive posture along much of the front line" in recent weeks.

It owed this to calls in late November from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for faster fortification in key sectors.

The ministry also noted work by Ukraine as of mid-December toward improving its border defenses with Belarus, using dragon's teeth, razor wire and anti-tank ditches.

Meanwhile on the Russian side, the British report noted "local offensive options." It, however, dismissed individual attacks as "rarely above platoon size."

"A major Russian breakthrough is unlikely and overall, the front is characterized by stasis," the ministry said.

Skip next section Putin urges 'severe' response to attempts at Russia destabilization
December 20, 2023

Putin urges 'severe' response to attempts at Russia destabilization

Russian President Vladimir Putin has strongly condemned what he described as attempts to destabilize Russia, in reference to sabotage acts that have targeted the country since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"The Kyiv regime with direct support of foreign special services has taken the path of terrorist methods, practically state terrorism," Putin said in a video address marking security agency workers' day.

He described the acts of sabotage as "attacks against civilians and representatives of authority," saying they target civilian sites, transport and energy infrastructure. 

"The attempts by foreign special agents to destabilize the political and social situation in Russia must be severely stopped," the Russian president said, stressing that "security services have no easy task."

Skip next section Kremlin accuses UK of pressuring Kyiv out of peace talks
December 20, 2023

Kremlin accuses UK of pressuring Kyiv out of peace talks

The Kremlin said on Wednesday there is no current basis for peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv amid the ongoing conflict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the prospect of negotiations as "not relevant right now," in statements to reporters on Wednesday.

He also accused Kyiv's ally Britain of sinking the chances of a peace deal last year "putting pressure on Kyiv to refuse a draft deal shortly after Russia sent troops into Ukraine."

"After that, there were no prerequisites for negotiations - and there were even fewer prerequisites after Ukraine actually legally prohibited any negotiations with the Russian side," Peskov claimed.

The Kremlin spokesman also ridiculed Kyiv's proposed peace plan, known as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's "peace formula," as "an absurd process" for excluding Russia.

Skip next section Ukraine to produce over 1 million FPV drones next year
December 20, 2023

Ukraine to produce over 1 million FPV drones next year

Ukraine is planning on producing a million First-Person-View (FPV) drones next year, in addition to over 11,000 medium- and long-range attack drones, the Ukrainian strategic industries minister said.

"All production facilities are ready, and contracting for 2024 begins," Oleksandr Kamyshin, the minister, said on the Telegram messaging platform.

The smaller, civilian-friendly FPV drones are used intensively on the front line with some modifications, making them widely in demand. Ukraine resorted to them since the start of the conflict, as a cheap but effective reconnaissance and offense option, with Russia following suit.

Ukraine is aiming to increase its domestic weapons production to stabilize weapons' delivery and ease its reliance on partners.

Skip next section EU court upholds Russian billionaire Abramovich sanctions
December 20, 2023

EU court upholds Russian billionaire Abramovich sanctions

A European Union court on Wednesday turned down a legal challenge by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich against sanctions imposed on him in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The court also dismissed Abramovich's claims for compensation. It noted the Russian billionaire's role in the Russian steel company Evraz. Steel is a major source of revenue for the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions involve the freezing of Abramovich's funds in the EU, as well as his ban from traveling within the bloc or through it. The billionaire alleged in his appeal  "a manifest error of assessment" in the reasoning, and an "infringement of the principle of proportionality" and of his fundamental rights.

The EU sanctioned several officials and Russian businessmen after Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022, including the former Premier League club Chelsea owner. Abramovich's net worth is estimated to be over $9 billion (approximately €8.22 billion), as per Forbes.

Skip next section Russia launches air assault on Kyiv for fifth time in December
December 20, 2023

Russia launches air assault on Kyiv for fifth time in December

Russia late on Tuesday launched its fifth air attack this month targeting the Ukrainian capital, with Ukraine's air defense systems destroying all weapons on approach to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv's military said early on Wednesday.

"According to preliminary information, there were no casualties or destruction in the capital," Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.

The full scale of the attack was not immediately clear and news agencies could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

Skip next section Ukraine could mobilize up to 500,000 into army, says Zelenskyy
December 20, 2023

Ukraine could mobilize up to 500,000 into army, says Zelenskyy

Ukrainian soldiers train Poland
Ukraine has around a million soldiers — an additional 500,000 would match Russian numbers.Image: Kuba Stezycki/REUTERS

Ukraine's President  Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday the military had proposed mobilizing 450,000-500,000 more Ukrainians into the armed forces in what would mark a dramatic step up in its defense against Russia's invasion.

The Ukrainian leader said in his end-of-year news conference it was a "highly sensitive" issue that the military and government were discussing before sending it to parliament.

Both sides are secretive about their number of casualties, but US officials estimate that hundreds of thousands have been killed and wounded.

Ukraine's troop numbers are not known, but it has said in the past it has around a million people under arms. Russia has been expanding its army during the war and said on Tuesday it planned to boost its ranks to 1.5 million service members.

"I said I would need more arguments to support this move. Because first of all, it's a question of people, secondly, it's a question of fairness, it's a question of defence capability, and it's a question of finances," Zelenskyy said.

Skip next section US Senate leaders deny aid before year's end
December 20, 2023

US Senate leaders deny aid before year's end

United States Senate Democrat policy luncheon press conference at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC Featuring: Chuck Schumer
Democrat Chuck Schumer, pictured here, and Republican Mitch McConnell released a joint statement.Image: Rod Lamkey/Cover-Images/IMAGO

The Democratic and Republican leaders of the US Senate said on Tuesday that Washington will not be able to approve new aid for Ukraine before year's end.

"As negotiators work through remaining issues, it is our hope that their efforts will allow the Senate to take swift action... early in the new year," Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Mitch McConnell said in a joint statement.

"In the time remaining this year, Senate and Administration negotiators will continue to work in good faith toward finalizing their agreement."

Despite the pledge to continue in the hope of breaking the deadlock in the new year, the two sides appear to be struggling to find a compromise.

"Challenging issues remain, but we are committed to addressing needs at the southern border and to helping allies and partners confront serious threats in Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific. The Senate will not let these national security challenges go unanswered." 

The announcement from Capitol Hill marked another setback for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose government has warned of the "dire need" for weapons ahead of winter.

mds/ab (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)