Donbas Fighting Heavy Overnight As West Says Moscow Turning To ‘Sanctioned States’ For Weaponry

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The Ukrainian military reported intense fighting as Russian forces attacked cities in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine early on December 10, as international commitments of support for Kyiv focused on air defense and Western officials warned Moscow is increasingly desperate for weaponry as its stockpiles dwindle.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on December 9 that Moscow’s troops had brought “hell under the Russian flag” to his country.

He called the situation of the heaviest fighting in eastern Ukraine “very difficult,” particularly in Bakhmut, Soledar, and Kreminna.

Zelenskiy called Bakhmut — a city of around 70,000 before the invasion — “another Donbas town that the Russian Army turned into a burnt ruin.”

He said there was “no residential space that hasn’t been damaged by shelling for a long time.”

Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom cautioned that Russia was becoming increasingly reliant on Tehran to sustain its war effort as fears persisted of a wider conflict in the 10th month of the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said late on December 9 that beyond the hundreds of Iranian drones already transferred to Russia since August to “kill civilians and illegally target civilian infrastructure” in Ukraine, “Russia is now attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles.”

Woodward also said London was “almost certain that Russia is seeking to source weaponry from North Korea [and] other heavily sanctioned states, as their own stocks palpably dwindle.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council later that Moscow had already refuted “on many occasions” Western suggestions that it was being supplied by Iran.

In Photos: The Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has been described as a “meat grinder” due to being on the forefront of trench warfare, shelling, and assaults that have killed an untold number of soldiers and civilians.

Battle For Bakhmut: Ukrainian City Endures Freezing Temperatures As Shelling And Fighting Rages
Photo Gallery:Battle For Bakhmut: Ukrainian City Endures Freezing Temperatures As Shelling And Fighting Rages

“The military industrial complex in Russia can work perfectly fine and doesn’t need anyone’s assistance, whereas the Ukrainian military industry does not basically exist and is being assisted by the Western industry,” Nebenzia said.

The back and forth accompanied a Security Council meeting requested by Russia on weapons “falling into the hands of bandits and terrorists” in Europe and elsewhere.

Zelenskiy adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak described the conditions around the embattled city of Bakhmut as “hell on Earth.”

The so-called Donbas region of eastern Ukraine has been the focus of much of the Russian effort since major gains farther west by Ukrainian forces against the occupiers before the recent onset of freezing temperatures.

Early on December 10, the Ukrainian Army General Staff listed three communities in the Luhansk Region and nearly a dozen in the Donetsk region, where it said Ukrainian forces had repelled attacks by Russian forces in a heavy bout of fighting.

More than 20 settlements were hit in fighting in the fiercely contested Bakhmut area alone, it said.

Ukrainian regional officials said Russian troops had “massively” attacked the communities of Nikopol and Marganets in the Dnipropetrovsk region overnight on December 9-10, causing at least four casualties.

The head of the regional administration, Valentyn Reznychenko, shared images of bombed-out residences and said 11 high-rise or residential buildings had been hit as well as damage to a kindergarten and other civilian sites.

RFE/RL cannot independently corroborate claims of battlefield gains or losses or casualty counts by either side in areas of heavy fighting.

Early on December 10, the Ukrainian military claimed to have shot down 10 Iranian drones in the past day in the southern Kherson, Nikolayiv, and Odesa regions.

The Ukrainian General Staff also said via Facebook that it had liquidated nearly 94,000 enemy troops since the start of the invasion.

The White House announced a new $275 million aid package to help boost Ukraine’s air defenses, in particular against Russian drones, on December 9.

“We feel supported by states as well as international organizations and human rights institutions,” Zelenskiy said.

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