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Ukraine Latest: Russia Continues to Reinforce Troops in East

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Russia continues to reinforce positions in Ukraine’s east. Moscow may be setting up for another big northward push in the Donetsk region, the UK defence ministry said. For now, frontline operations have slowed due to deteriorating weather, said the Institute for the Study of War, but could pick up again when temperatures drop further and the ground freezes.

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(Bloomberg) —

Russia continues to reinforce positions in Ukraine’s east. Moscow may be setting up for another big northward push in the Donetsk region, the UK defence ministry said. For now, frontline operations have slowed due to deteriorating weather, said the Institute for the Study of War, but could pick up again when temperatures drop further and the ground freezes. 

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Vladimir Makei, Belarus foreign minister since 2012 and a former chief of staff to President Alexander Lukashenko, died suddenly at the age of 64. No cause of death was provided. Makei was set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Minsk on Monday and had been scheduled to travel to Poland for a regional security meeting.  

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European officials offered renewed support for Ukraine on the 90th anniversary of the Holomodor, the famine orchestrated by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Several traveled to Kyiv for the official launch of the “Grain from Ukraine” initiative. Some $150 million has been pledged from more than 20 countries, Ukraine’s president said. 

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On the Ground

Russia continues to regroup its forces near Liman, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka, Ukraine’s General Staff reported in its regular update on Facebook page. Over the past day. the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks in some settlements in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. In the Kupiansk region Russia is conducting offensive operations, while it’s focused on defense in the direction of Liman. Russian forces carried two missile strikes on civilian objects in Dnipro area and shelling from MLRS at Ukraine army positions and civilian targets, including the recently liberated city of Kherson. The General Staff says Russia plans another wave of mobilization from Dec. 10, something Moscow hasn’t confirmed. 

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(All times CET)

Russia Likely Setting Up For Another Northern Advance, UK Says (8 a.m.)

Intense combat continues around the towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar in south-central Donetsk Oblast, though little territory has changed hands over two weeks, the UK defence ministry said. 

Russia likely assesses that “the area has potential as a launch point for a future major advance north to capture the remainder of” Ukrainian-held parts of Donetsk, the UK said. 

Belarus Foreign Minister, Ally of Lukashenko, Dies Suddenly (4:30 p.m.)

Vladimir Makei, Belarusian foreign minister since 2012 and one of the longest-service officials in the circle of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, died suddenly at the age of 64, the ministry said in social media posts with no further detail. 

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Makei was shown receiving Vatican envoy Ante Jozic in Minsk on Friday. Earlier in the week he attended the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization meeting in Armenia. Makei and Lukashenko had been scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Minsk on Monday. 

Makei presided over the foreign ministry during unprecedented repression in 2020 and as Belarus became a staging ground for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed “deep shock” at Makei’s death. 

Ukraine Formally Launches Food Initiative for Poorest Countries (2 p.m.)

“Grain From Ukraine” aims to send grain and agrarian products to the poorest nations of Africa and Asia. It’s already attracted funding of about $150 million and support from over 20 countries.

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Zelenskiy hosted an international food summit in Kyiv on Saturday attended by the prime ministers of Belgium, Lithuania and Poland, as well as the president of Hungary. Several other leaders joined via video. 

“Food security is one of the elements of the Ukrainian peace formula”, Zelenskiy said. Among the countries that will receive Ukrainian cargoes are Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Kenya and Yemen, he said, helping more than one million people. 

Russia, Ukraine Make Another Prisoner Swap (1:30 p.m.)

Another 12 Ukrainian service members were released by Russia, Andriy Yermak, a top presidential aide, said on Twitter. 

The soldiers included those who served in Mariupol, at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and on Snake Island, he said. Over the past week, 98 Ukrainian POWs were returned, Yermak said. 

The Russian defense ministry said nine of its servicemen were released, according to Interfax. No further details were offered. 

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