Here is the situation as it stands on Friday, December 9:
- US basketball star Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian prison and is on her way back to the United States after a prisoner exchange with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
- The Kremlin said the Russia-US prisoner swap was not a step towards improving ties between Washington and Moscow, which remain “grievous”.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said the West’s desire to maintain its dominance of global affairs was increasing the risk of potential conflicts.
- Putin says the aims of the war in Ukraine include an expansion of Russia’s borders, in contrast with comments made at the beginning of the “special military operation” when he said Russian plans did not include the occupation of Ukrainian land.
- The US is expected to impose new sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s deployment of Iranian drones in Ukraine and other actions, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported, citing officials familiar with the matter.
- Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have shelled the entire front line in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine as part of what appeared to be Russia’s scaled-back ambition to secure only the bulk of lands it has claimed.
- The Ukrainian general staff said its forces attacked Russian positions and troop assembly points in at least half a dozen towns in southern Ukraine.
- In the settlement of Posad-Pokrovske in the southern region of Kherson, retaken by Ukraine, some villagers have returned to homes damaged or reduced to rubble by Russian shells.
- The US House of Representatives passed a defence bill that provides Ukraine with at least $800m in additional security assistance next year.
- The US was also preparing to send Ukraine a $275m military aid package offering new capabilities to defeat drones and strengthen air defences, according to a document seen by the Reuters news agency and people familiar with the package.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies