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White House says U.S. funding about to run out; Ukraine to probe apparent shooting of two unarmed soldiers by Russian forces

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates.

Ukrainian soldiers in a tank in the direction of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on Dec. 1, 2023.
Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

At least two people were reportedly killed in Russian shelling in the Kherson region on Sunday, while 18 attack drones fired from occupied Crimea were downed overnight, according to Ukrainian officials.

Along with attacks by air, intense fighting continues along defensive lines in Ukraine's south and east, particularly Maryinka, Avdiivka and Bakhmut.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his nightly address to thank those who had not forgotten about fighters on the front line and people living in occupied areas. Ukraine is preparing new military support packages from its partners and strengthening air defenses, he said.

Last week, Zelenskyy said the war had entered a new phase as harsh weather sets in and the country braces itself for a rise in Russian strikes on energy infrastructure, a strategy Moscow employed last winter.

Zelenskyy also told AP in an interview that Ukraine had "wanted faster results" in this year's counteroffensive, which has made limited progress in the face of deeply entrenched Russian defenses. Ukraine says it needs to boost its own defensive lines for the winter.

On Sunday, Ukraine's prosecutor general's office said it launched an investigation into a video that circulated online over the weekend. The video appeared to show two unarmed Ukrainian soldiers who were surrendering as prisoners being shot at close range by people in Russian uniforms. CNBC has not independently verified the footage.

In an announcement on Telegram, the prosecutor general's office said the killing of prisoners of war was "a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions and is classified as a grave international crime," according to a Google translation.

Debates on Ukraine's EU membership to start Tuesday

Envoys of the European Union's member countries are set to start debating a proposal to begin membership talks with Ukraine on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing officials and diplomats.

The discussions are part of the preparations for the European Council meeting on Dec. 14-15, when leaders are set to consider potential EU accession for countries including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia.

A draft agreement on potential accession talks is set to be debated Tuesday and is expected to change following discussions, diplomats and officials said.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Ukraine is changing its strategic tactics, presidential aide says

Ukraine is shifting its military tactics as a result of the arrival of winter and an analysis of Russia's resource capabilities, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Monday.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Podolyak said: "On the frontline and in the cities, we are already moving to a different tactic of warfare - effective defense in certain areas, continuation of offensive operations in other areas, special strategic operations on the Crimean peninsula and in the Black Sea waters, and significantly reformatted missile defense of critical infrastructure."

Resources will be directed to increasing domestic arms production and speeding up negotiations with allies to increase equipment supplies for the "new stage" of Ukraine's offensive operations, he said, particularly missile defense systems, long-range missiles, drones, and electronic warfare systems.

Russia has increasingly focused on drones this year, Podolyak added.

This year has also seen numerous reports of drones being shot down by Russia.

— Jenni Reid

Bulgarian president blocks delivery of armored transport vehicles to Ukraine

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on Monday blocked a deal, signed in August, that would have provided armored transport vehicles to Ukraine, news agency Novinite reported.

Radev said parliamentarians did not fully understand the specifics of the donation, and that the vehicles could play a role in safeguarding Bulgaria's borders and aiding its own citizens in emergencies, according to Novinite.

He also said that recent floods that required military support showed the need for increasing, rather than reducing domestic supplies.

The agreement will now return to parliament for further debate.

It comes as Ukrainian officials stress their need for reinforcements amid struggles to make progress in occupied areas, and as frontline fighting progresses into winter.

The White House on Monday warned that the U.S. will no longer be able to provide additional military equipment to Ukraine by the end of the year, unless Congress approves further funding.

There are also rumblings of discontent over support for Ukraine within the European Union. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has threatened to block all EU funding for Ukraine unless the coalition holds a review of its strategy, while Slovakia's new Prime Minister Robert Fico has suspended the provision of all military aid.

— Jenni Reid

Russia trying to capture Avdiivka 'at any cost,' Ukrainian official says

A view of Ukraine's Avdiivka city as an airstrike on the Metinvest coke plant is seen in the background on Oct. 30, 2023.
Libkos | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian forces have launched new fronts in the fierce battle for Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, an Ukrainian official noted.

"The current third wave of enemy assaults differs from the previous two in that they have conditionally opened two new directions," the head of Avdiivka's military administration, Vitaliy Barabash said. "The launching of new directions proves that the enemy has been given a command to capture the city at any cost."

In comments to state media, Barabash said these latest events were an attempt to distract Ukrainian defences and close a gap west of the town that would see it entirely encircled. Independent military analysts have said that about 1,300 civilians remain in the town, which was once home to about 30,000 people.

The industrial town in eastern Ukraine has been under constant Russian fire in a bid by Moscow to capture it. Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of assaulting Avdiivka, in the eastern Donetsk region, from two new directions, AFP reported.

— Jenni Reid

White House says Ukraine funding will run out soon without congressional approval

Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House on September 29, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A senior White House official on Monday warned that the U.S. would run out of resources to supply Ukraine with more weapons and equipment by the end of the year unless Congress approves additional funding.

"There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time," Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a letter to congressional leaders.

Young said cutting off U.S. supplies would "kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield," risk it losing gains already made and increase the likelihood of Russian military victories.

U.S. packages of security assistance and aid deliveries have already become smaller, she said.

Congress has so far approved $111 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine, by far the largest such support of all Ukraine's allies, but the issue has become increasingly contentious in the U.S. legislature.

President Joe Biden has expressed staunch support for Ukraine and the continuation of U.S. support, and in October the White House requested more than $105 billion from Congress for security needs across Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the U.S. southern border.

Young said Monday that support for Ukraine would advance domestic national security interests by preventing larger conflict in the region that could involve NATO and U.S. forces, and by deterring future aggression.

— Jenni Reid

Deputy Russian army corps commander is killed in Ukraine

Major General Vladimir Zavadsky, deputy commander of Russia's 14th Army Corps, has been killed in Ukraine, a top regional official said on Monday.

The governor of Russia's Voronezh region, Alexander Gusev, said Zavadsky had died "at a combat post in the special operation zone", without giving further details.

"Special military operation" is the term that Russia uses to describe the war in Ukraine, now approaching the end of its second year.

The investigative news outlet iStories said Zavadsky was the seventh Major General whose death had been confirmed by Russia, and the 12 senior officer overall to be reported dead since the start of the war.

Deaths of senior Russian officers, which military analysts have attributed in some cases to Ukrainian success in intercepting lax communications, have become rarer as the war has progressed.

Zavadsky was a much-decorated officer and a former tank commander, said Gusev, adding that his death was a heavy loss that caused "transfixing pain".

— Reuters

Ukraine authorities to probe soldier shooting video as politician condemns 'execution'

Ukraine's prosecutor general's office said Sunday that Donetsk authorities had launched an investigation into a potential war crime over the apparent shooting of two soldiers.

The office said a video was circulated in media on Dec. 2 showing a group of people in Russian uniforms shoot two unarmed Ukrainian soldiers who had surrendered as prisoners at close range. CNBC has not independently verified the footage.

"Investigators and prosecutors have started an investigation. The killing of prisoners of war is a gross violation of the Geneva conventions and is classified as a serious international crime," the prosecutor general's office said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Investigations will be carried out by state security services in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it said.

Ukrainian politician Ruslan Stefanchuk described it as an "execution" in a post on social media platform X.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine shoots down 18 Russian drones; at least two killed in Kherson

Ukraine's air force said Monday that it destroyed 18 Shahed attack drones fired from occupied Crimea and one Kh-59 guided air missile from the occupied Kherson region overnight.

Its anti-aircraft defenses were used in at least nine regions, according to the statement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy decried "brutal strikes" on Kherson over the weekend, with at least two deaths reported.

Kherson city officials said a 78-year-old man was killed instantly while in a private garage, and Kherson Governor Prokudin Oleksandr said an "elderly woman" died at a bus stop near a high-rise building. Several others were reportedly injured.

CNBC is unable to verify the reports.

Kherson has been pummeled by strikes since Russian forces withdrew from the city and set up defensive lines on the opposite bank of the Dnieper river late last year.

— Jenni Reid

First lorries pass through new Ukraine crossing at Polish border

The first 30 lorries passed through the newly opened Uhryniv-Dolhobychuv crossing on the Ukrainian-Polish border, which Kyiv expects will unblock main land corridors amid protests by Polish drivers, Ukraine's border service said on Monday.

Those protests, over what Polish truckers see as unfair competition from their Ukrainian peers, started on Nov. 6, with four border crossings now under blockade.

Polish protesters block the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing Hrebenne during a strike on December 1, 2023 in Hrebenne, Poland.
Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Polish hauliers' main demand is to stop Ukrainian truckers having permit-free access to the EU, something that Kyiv and Brussels say is impossible.

"As of the morning of December 4, border guards cleared 30 heavy vehicles with a total permissible weight of more than 7.5 (metric) tons for departure from Ukraine at the Uhryniv checkpoint," the service said on Telegram messaging app.

The crossing was opened at 1.00 a.m. (midnight GMT) on Monday.

Ukraine said last week it had agreed some measures with Poland that could ease the pressure at the blockaded border crossings, but that the main demands of the protests had not been discussed.

— Reuters

'We have a new phase of war': President Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pays visits the soldiers in the Kupiansk frontline on November 30, 2023 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. 
Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu | Getty Images

"A new phase of war" had been entered as winter has begun, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told AP in an exclusive interview on Friday.

"Winter as a whole is a new phase of war. I'd say that a winter war takes place not only on the front lines but inside cities too," he said.

Stormy weather, including strong winds and heavy snow and rain, have resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as infrastructure issues, across Ukraine and Russia in recent weeks.

A Ukrainian soldiers are seen in a trench on the front line in the direction of Kupiansk, where clashes with the Russian army continue despite the severe winter conditions, in Kupiansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine on November 21, 2023.
Ozge Elif Kizil | Anadolu | Getty Images

Zelenskyy also addressed last summer's counteroffensive, saying Ukraine had "wanted faster results," adding that limitations to the size of Ukraine's army and having less weapons than requested from allies were factors.

"There is not enough power to achieve the desired results faster. But this does not mean that we should give up, that we have to surrender," he said. "We are confident in our actions. We fight for what is ours."

Looking ahead, Zelenskyy discussed plans to establish weapon production within Ukraine and said the country would quickly scale production if they were provided with monetary support and relevant licenses.

— Sophie Kiderlin

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