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Ukraine updates: Biden presses Congress to back aid package

Published December 6, 2023last updated December 7, 2023

President Biden urged Congress to "do the right thing" and support Ukraine with a new aid package. Ukraine's Zelenskyy told G7 leaders Russia was hoping for Western support to collapse. DW has the latest.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on funding for Ukraine from the Roosevelt Room of the White House
President Joe Biden called for Congress to put partisan politics to one side and support the Ukraine aid packageImage: Evan Vucci/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for Congress to pass a new Ukraine aid package and warned of handing Russia's Vladimir Putin "the greatest gift" by failing to support Kyiv.

The US leader's statement came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Group of Seven (G7) leaders that Russia had ramped up pressure on the frontlines, and that Moscow was hoping Western support for Kyiv would "collapse" in 2024.

Meanwhile, Russia carried out dozens of drone strikes against Ukraine overnight, according to Ukraine's air force. 

Here's a look at the latest headlines on Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, December 6:

Skip next section US Senate blocks Ukraine aid over immigration
December 7, 2023

US Senate blocks Ukraine aid over immigration

Republican lawmakers in the US Senate blocked billions of dollars in much-needed military aid to allies Ukraine and Israel in protest at a lack of US immigration policy reforms.

Republicans had insisted upon the need to increase security at the US-Mexico before providing emergency foreign funds. The largely party-line vote was a blow to President Joe Biden who had warned of the implications that failing to fund both countries could have for regional security and beyond.

Skip next section G7 leaders agree to ban on Russian diamond imports
December 6, 2023

G7 leaders agree to ban on Russian diamond imports

The Group of Seven nations (G7) on Wednesday announced a ban on Russian diamonds by January 1, 2024.

"We will introduce import restrictions on non-industrial diamonds, mined, processed, or produced in Russia, by January 1, 2024, followed by further phased restrictions on the import of Russian diamonds processed in third countries targeting March 1, 2024," G7 leaders said in a statement.

They said that the measure was part of steps being taken to limit "Russia's ability to fund its illegal war" in Ukraine by limiting "energy revenue and its future extractive capabilities."

The statement said that G7 members who were major importers of rough diamonds would establish "a robust traceability-based verification and certification mechanism within the G7 by September 1, 2024."

Russia is the world's largest producer of diamonds and produced some 41.92 million carats in 2022, according to figures from the data platform Statista.

Diamonds represent an important sector of Belgium's economy, with Antwerp home to the world's main diamond hub.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo welcomed the G7 measures and said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter: "Sanctioning Russian diamonds is the right thing to do. The G7 agreement will level up transparency in the sector." 


Skip next section Zelenskyy: Putin hopes for 'collapse' of Western unity
December 6, 2023

Zelenskyy: Putin hopes for 'collapse' of Western unity

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday told G7 leaders that Russia had increased pressure on the frontlines and warned that Moscow was hoping for Western unity to collapse.

Zelenskyy held a virtual meeting with key allies, including US President Joe Biden and UK's Rishi Sunak, amid concern over waning support for Ukraine's war effort.

"Russia hopes only for one thing — that next year the free world's consolidation will collapse," Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "significantly increased pressure on the front."

"We must win the battle for motivation. The motivation of our people and all of Europe. The ongoing battle is not just about the fate of Ukraine, it's about Europe," Zelenskyy told the leaders.  

Skip next section Biden tell lawmakers to 'stand for freedom,' pass Ukraine aid package
December 6, 2023

Biden tell lawmakers to 'stand for freedom,' pass Ukraine aid package

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for Congress to pass a Ukraine aid package and warned it would be handing Russia's Vladimir Putin "the greatest gift" if it fails to show support for Kyiv.

Biden wants Congress to approve a $106 billion (€98 billion) package to fund aid for Ukraine and Israel, as well as for border security, but it has been voted down by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. 

"Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security," Biden said during his speech at the White House, adding that the bloc was holding Ukraine's funding hostage.

Biden called on Congress to "do the right thing, to stand with the people of Ukraine. Stand against the tyranny of Putin. Stand for freedom."

Biden said he was willing to make significant compromises on the border system and said it was "broken" and needed fixing.

Biden urges US Congress to approve Ukraine aid

Skip next section Kyiv behind killing of pro-Russian politician near Moscow
December 6, 2023

Kyiv behind killing of pro-Russian politician near Moscow

Kyiv said its SBU security service was behind the assassination of a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician. The body of Ukrainian ex-lawmaker Illia Kyva, who had defected to Russia shortly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, was found outside Moscow on Wednesday.

Ukraine has claimed to have orchestrated several assassinations and attacks on pro-war Russians and former Ukrainian officials who backed Moscow's war.

Speaking on national TV, Ukraine's military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said: "We can confirm that Kyva is done. Such a fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine, as well as the henchmen of the Putin regime."

Russian investigators said Kyva died instantly after being shot in a park southwest of Moscow.

Kyiv used to rarely comment on whether it was behind a spate of killings of pro-Russian figures, both inside Russia and in parts of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces.

But it has started to claim responsibility for a number of attacks and said it would track down what it named "collaborators" and "traitors."

Skip next section US charges Russians with war crimes over torture of American
December 6, 2023

US charges Russians with war crimes over torture of American

The United States has charged four members of the Russian military with war crimes for the alleged abduction and torture of an American national in Ukraine.

According to US authorities, the US citizen was kidnapped from his home in a Ukrainian village in 2022, beaten and interrogated over a 10-day period at a Russian military compound. He was later released with his wife, who is Ukrainian.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the charges against the four "Russia-affiliated military personnel" were the first to be brought under the US war crimes statute.

"As the world has witnessed the horrors of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, so has the United States Department of Justice," Garland said on Wednesday. "The Justice Department will work for as long as it takes to pursue accountability and justice for Russia's war of aggression."

The charges mark the first prosecution of members of the Russian armed forces in connection with atrocities during their war against Ukraine. It is also the first time the Justice Department brought charges under a nearly 30-year-old statute outlawing torture or inhumane treatment during a war.

"This is our first, and you should expect more," Garland said. "We will not forget the atrocities in Ukraine. And we will never stop working to bring those responsible to justice."

Still, the charges are largely symbolic as it is unlikely the US will be able to bring any of the suspected to the United States for trial. 

Skip next section More than 900 patients brought to Germany from Ukraine
December 6, 2023

More than 900 patients brought to Germany from Ukraine

More than 900 patients from Ukraine have been brought to Germany for treatment since the start of the war with Russia, according to the German Interior Ministry.

By mid-November, 928 patients and about 300 accompanying persons had arrived. Within Germany, the patients were distributed evenly among the 16 federal states.

This made Germany the largest contributor to the reception of Ukrainian patients among EU member states under the EU civil protection mechanism. Patients were usually transported by air. 

Germany: Wounded Ukrainian soldiers treated

Skip next section UK announces new sanctions targeting 'Putin's war machine'
December 6, 2023

UK announces new sanctions targeting 'Putin's war machine'

Britain warned that Russia was trying to circumvent sanctions as it announced 46 new measures against individuals and groups from other countries it said were involved in Russia's military supply chains.

"Today's measures will disrupt [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's ability to equip his military through third-party supply chains," the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) added.

The new curbs bar UK firms from dealings with some businesses and individuals in countries such as Belarus, China, Serbia, Turkey, the UAE and Uzbekistan, among others.

The new sanctions focus on "individuals and groups supplying and funding Putin's war machine," the UK's Foreign Office said in a statement.

Britain sanctioned 31 people and entities it said were linked to the design and manufacture of drones and missile parts and the import of electronic components, four UAE-based entities it said were involved in trading Russian oil, and others linked to the Wagner mercenary group.

China said it was firmly opposed to the sanctions. "We urge the UK government to immediately correct its mistake and lift sanctions on Chinese companies," the Chinese embassy in London said.

Russia Sanctions Busters

Skip next section Kyiv warns of Ukrainian defeat if US aid runs out
December 6, 2023

Kyiv warns of Ukrainian defeat if US aid runs out

The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andrii Yermak, has warned of Ukraine's possible defeat in the war against Russia if US funding runs out at the end of the year.

"And, of course, it makes this very high possibility impossible to continually liberate [Ukrainian territory] and [brings] the big risk to lose this war," Yermak was quoted as saying by US state broadcaster Voice of America.

The Ukrainian politician called on the US Congress to pass a multi-billion dollar package that has been blocked since October. At the same time, Yermak assured that Kyiv also has military plans for the coming year. 

Washington, Kyiv's biggest supporter in the war against Russia, has admitted that funds earmarked for Ukraine are set to run out in December.

Can Ukraine still defeat Russia?

Skip next section Putin arrives in UAE on Middle East trip
December 6, 2023

Putin arrives in UAE on Middle East trip

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, greets Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival at an international airport in Abu Dhabi
UAE's Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan greeted Putin at the Abu Dhabi airportImage: Andrei Gordeyev/Sputnik/AP Photo/picture alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in the United Arab Emirates, host of the current COP28 summit, as part of a Middle East trip that also includes Saudi Arabia. 

His visit comes despite a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his role in the war in Ukraine.

However, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are not signatories of the ICC founding treaty, removing any obligation to detain Putin.

The Russian leader, whose provacative visit is to shore up Russia's business ties with the two nations in the face of heavy sanctions, is wanted for war crimes in Ukraine, including the alleged abductions of children from the country.

Skip next section Ukraine reports dozens of overnight drone attacks
December 6, 2023

Ukraine reports dozens of overnight drone attacks

Russialaunched a string of drone attacks on southern Ukraine overnight, the Ukrainian air force said on Telegram.

It claimed that 48 drones were fired — mainly at the city of Odessa — of which 41 were repelled.

The reports could not be independently verified. There were no reports of casualties or damage in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Russia has been ramping up its recent overnight drone assaults of Ukraine. Kyiv says it has been able to repel most of the drones using air defense systems provided by Western allies, including Germany's Iris-T system.

Skip next section Zelenskyy expected to join G7 summit
December 6, 2023

Zelenskyy expected to join G7 summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to join the Group of Seven (G7) summit via video link on Wednesday.

Japan, chair of the latest edition of the G7, confirmed that Zelenskyy will "join the first part" of the virtual meeting, which will be chaired by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

"We'd like to make clear that we stand with Ukraine as the G7," a Japanese government official was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

The official, who declined to be named, said the G7 would reiterate its commitment to imposing strong sanctions on Russia for its attack on Ukraine.

The G7 members, comprising Japan, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and the EU, pledged in May to restrict exports to Russia that could fund its war effort.

Wednesday's meeting comes a day after Zelenskyy canceled an appearance with US senators.

US support for Ukraine is showing signs of waning, despite US President Joe Biden's push to have an emergency aid package approved, with around $60 billion for Kyiv.