US did not ‘enable’ Ukraine strikes inside Russia
The United States has said it hadn't "enabled" Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russia, after a spate of drone attacks on military-linked facilities deep within Russian territory.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin convened his security council in the wake of the apparent drone strikes, Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility but neither did it criticize the action, which killed three people and damaged long range bombers and a fuel depot, according to reports from Russia.
"We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Tuesday.
Washington has held back from supplying Ukraine forces with long-range ATACMS missiles that could strike inside Russia out of fears it could lead to a direct confrontation between Russian forces and those of the US and Nato.
But experts believe Ukraine was able to modify old long-distance Soviet-era reconnaissance drones on its own to target them at the bases in the Kursk, Ryazan and Saratov on Monday.
But Blinken did not criticize the strikes. Instead, he said, the United States is determined "to make sure that they (Ukraine) have in their hands -- along with many other partners around the world -- the equipment that they need to defend themselves, to defend their territory, to defend their freedom."
Meanwhile, Time magazine named President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as "the spirit of Ukraine" as its 2022 person of the year yesterday, for the resistence the country has shown in the face of Russia's invasion, reports AFP.
"Whether the battle for Ukraine fills one with hope or with fear, Volodymyr Zelensky galvanized the world in a way we haven't seen in decades," Time editor in chief Edward Felsenthal wrote.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said there was no need to conduct an additional call-up of Russian reservists to fight in Ukraine at the moment.
Putin said of the more than 300,000 Russian reservists who were drafted in what Moscow called a "partial mobilisation" in September and October, 150,000 were deployed in the zone of what Moscow calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.
Of those, 77,000 were in combat units and the remainder performing defensive functions, he said.
In Washington, lawmakers agreed to provide Ukraine at least $800 million in additional security aid next year.
The Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorises the additional spending for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, an increase of $500 million over President Joe Biden's request earlier this year, reports Reuters.
As winter's grip tightens, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that Russia was looking to stall the fighting in Ukraine over the winter in order to build up its forces for a renewed assault next year.
Ukrainian forces have been pushing a counter-offensive in which they have made significant gains in the east and south, including Kyiv's retaking of the city of Kherson.
"What we see now is that Russia is actually attempting to try to have some kind of freeze of this war, at least for a short period of time, so they can regroup, repair, recover and then try to launch a bigger offensive next spring," Stoltenberg told a public event hosted by the Financial Times.