Every week we wrap up essential coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, opinion and more.
Republicans block military funding bill for Ukraine
The US Senate blocked a supplemental funding bill that included financial aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as provisions aimed at bolstering border security, Joan E Greve, and Patrick Wintour reported.
The vote, which fell mostly along party lines, increased the likelihood that Congress will fail to approve more funding for Ukraine before the end of the year.
The vote was 49 to 51, as every Senate Republican opposed advancing the legislation. Sixty votes were needed to take up the bill. Republicans in both chambers of Congress had demanded stricter border regulations in exchange for their support, and they said the bill failed to meet their requirements.
The gridlock has angered and at times perplexed Democrats. In their minds, sending financial aid to US allies such as Ukraine benefits the entire country and thus should be an area of common ground between the two parties, Joan E Greve wrote in a separate analysis.
“Republicans think they can get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise. That’s not the answer,” US President Joe Biden said. “And now they’re willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process.”
A day after the failed vote, David Cameron used his first trip as UK foreign secretary to urge Republicans to back Ukraine, including by sending it long-range weapons and seizing Russian central bank assets in the west to help rebuild Ukraine, Patrick Wintour reported.
“There has been a hesitancy over escalatory threats that has not been borne out,” Cameron said. “As long as you don’t cross the red line of Nato soldiers fighting Russia soldiers, we should do everything we can to continue to support Ukraine.”
A sense of betrayal among Ukrainian lorry drivers
On a snowy road next to Poland, Ukrainian lorry driver Vitaliy Zemyenko pondered the long journey ahead. It would take him nine hours to get through the Medyka border crossing. Over on the other side he would drop off a consignment of vodka. The problem was getting back.
“At the moment it’s taking a minimum of eight days to re-enter Ukraine,” he told Luke Harding. “That’s the best case scenario. Worst case is two weeks. This is a terrible situation”. The Poles, he added, wanted to stop Ukrainian drivers from operating in the EU. “They don’t want us,” he said.
Over the past two months, Polish lorry drivers have blocked three border crossings with Ukraine. On 26 November, they expanded their protest by including Medyka, a key transportation hub. Slovakia has followed suit, with local lorry drivers staging their own blockade since Friday near the Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod.
The Polish drivers want the EU to restore a transport permit scheme that limited the number of Ukrainian drivers able to operate in Poland to 200,000 entries a year, saying the lifting of restrictions in the months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has hit their earnings.
EU leaders scramble to stop Hungary from derailing Ukraine’s accession bid
European leaders scrambled to rescue a plan to begin European Union accession negotiations for Ukraine, as Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, vowed to block the decision at a summit of EU leaders next week, Shaun Walker, Lisa O’Carroll and Lili Bayer reported.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, hosted Orbán for dinner in Paris on Thursday, while the European Council president, Charles Michel, was in Budapest last week looking for a way out of the impasse.
Orbán, widely seen as the EU’s most pro-Russian leader, has said repeatedly that he will not support Ukraine’s path to accession at this point. On Monday, he sent a letter to Michel demanding to take the issue off the agenda at the leaders’ meeting next Thursday and Friday.
“The obvious lack of consensus would inevitably lead to failure,” if the issue remains on the table, Orbán wrote in the letter, a copy of which has been seen by the Guardian.
Many in Brussels believe Orbán is repeating a favoured tactic of playing hardball to seek gains from EU partners, before eventually falling into line. However, political and diplomatic sources in Budapest said they did not believe the Hungarian leader was likely to relent this time.
Former Ukrainian MP shot dead in Moscow park
A former Ukrainian MP regarded by Kyiv as a traitor has been shot dead in a park in suburban Moscow, in an attack attributed to Ukraine’s SBU security service, Pjotr Sauer reported.
Illia Kyva was a pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but fled to Russia a month before the start of the war and frequently criticised Ukrainian authorities online and on Russian state TV talkshows.
Russian investigators said in a statement on Wednesday that Kyva had been shot, adding that his body was discovered in a park in the elite Moscow suburb of Odintsovo.
“An unknown person fired shots at the victim from an unidentified weapon. The man died on the spot from his injuries,” Russia’s investigative committee said in a statement.
‘My mum’s books survived Putin’s missiles’
Earlier this year Ed Vulliamy donated works by his late mother, the author Shirley Hughes, to Kherson’s regional children’s library, which was due to celebrate its centennial next year.
Last month however it was hit by two Russian artillery shells, reducing it to a heap of charred masonry, gnarled metal, glass shards, rubble and dust.
But staff braved the rubble to find that many books, including those sent by Vulliamy, had survived. Alla Gordiienko, the director general of the National Library of Ukraine for Children, told him that “it’s as though God and Shirley Hughes’s ghost rescued them from the afterlife.”
It seems that Mum’s best-loved character, Dogger, has survived not only loss by his owner, Dave, and being put up for sale at a school fete – but also Vladimir Putin’s rockets, Vulliamy wrote.