According to Ukraine’s military, Russian forces conducted aerial assaults late last night, including launching a missile that hit the Zaporizhzhia area.
The regional military administration in Zaporizhzhia announced on Telegram that a shop was damaged and one person was injured by a missile, according to initial reports.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military reported that their air defenses successfully took down a Russian attack drone.
On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that there has been heavy combat on the frontlines in Ukraine and frequent Russian drone strikes on Ukrainian cities in Brussels.
Stoltenberg mentioned that although there has been little movement in the front lines of Ukraine over the past year, Ukrainian troops have inflicted significant damage on Russia’s armed forces.
Prior to a two-day gathering with the foreign ministers of NATO, Stoltenberg urged for continued assistance from NATO allies towards Ukraine.
He stated that the more powerful Ukraine is in battle, the better its bargaining position will be when negotiating with Russia.
During the initial day of the NATO foreign ministers’ meetings, a high-ranking official from the State Department stated that there was complete agreement to continue supporting Ukraine in its efforts to achieve victory.
He mentioned that numerous NATO partners discussed boosting their aid, maintaining cooperation with Ukraine, and assisting Ukraine in its efforts to align with NATO in the future.
“We have proposed a series of governance reforms to Ukraine that we believe are crucial, particularly in strengthening anti-corruption agencies and authorities. We have observed significant advancements in this area in recent weeks, including notable changes in the government’s involvement in the economy. These types of reforms are essential not only for Ukraine’s relationship with NATO, but also for its political integration into the EU,” stated the official.
Russian defense spending
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a national budget for the next three years. The budget includes a 25% increase in spending and allocates a significant portion to defense, likely due to Russia’s ongoing involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.
In 2024, the budget plans for a total expenditure of $415 billion and predicts a deficit of $9.5 billion.
Following the approval of the budget by the lower chamber of parliament, Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stated that its purpose was to allocate funds for the military and address the repercussions of international sanctions imposed on Russia in response to their invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Analysts say that the Kremlin may face a dilemma in the future as they use a majority of their budget to finance the military due to the combination of record low unemployment, increased wages, and focused social expenditures.
The Russian government hides a portion of its budget in order to keep its military intentions and actions in Ukraine hidden from scrutiny. Nonetheless, Farida Rustamova and Maksim Tovkaylo, independent journalists, estimate that approximately 39% of federal funds will be allocated to the military and law enforcement.
During a visit to Kyiv on Monday, Vice President of the EU Commission Vera Jourova commended Ukraine’s efforts in combatting corruption. However, she also stated that further actions must be taken in order for Ukraine to fulfill its goal of becoming a member of the European Union.
In November, the committee suggested that the European Union, which has 27 members, begin official discussions for Ukraine’s accession once certain conditions are met, such as improving anti-corruption measures.
Jourova expressed her admiration for the progress made by Ukraine since 2017. Nevertheless, she acknowledged that there are still tasks that require attention.
Additionally, she emphasized the importance of considering the EU’s ability to absorb new members when it comes to their accession and adjusting the system accordingly.
It takes several years for talks about membership to occur, as potential candidates must meet strict legal and economic requirements. The EU is also hesitant to accept a country that is currently engaged in war.
The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters provided some information for this story.