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Daily review: Russia to hunt Ukrainian Bayraktars in Donbas, Ukraine wants more international exercises in Black Sea, Russian court’s slip of the pen

Daily review: Russia to hunt Ukrainian Bayraktars in Donbas, Ukraine wants more international exercises in Black Sea, Russian court’s slip of the pen
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December 15 in the war zone

Russian-hybrid forces launch ten attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Mariupol sectors, including heavy artillery and weapons banned by the Minsk accords, the Joint-Forces Operation Staff reported.

As of 19:30 December 14, OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission recorded 444 violations, including 89 explosions in Donetsk Oblast; 104 violations, including 14 explosions in Luhansk Oblast. Gunfire was reportedly directed at an SMM UAV at non-government-controlled Yasne, Donetsk Oblast.

News flash

  • President Zelenskyy met with President of the European Council Charles Michel, President Macron of France, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Brussels; expressed hope for EC’s clear signals on escalation on Ukraine’s eastern borders.
  • Sanctions must precede, not follow possible escalation by Russia, said Zelenskyy in his statement in Brussels.
  • During his visit to the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, President Zelenskyy also met with the PMs of Austria, Belgium, and Spain; requested support for Ukraine’s future accession to the EU.
  • US and Canada defense ministers discussed Russia’s escalation on border with Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel says Ukraine recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and is going to open an embassy there.

Russian court inadvertently acknowledges Russia’s military presence in occupied Donbas

A Russian court passed a verdict in a case of bribery in the army, the materials of which confirm the Russian military presence in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and the deployment of Russian Army military units to the territories of Russia’s puppet Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” (“DNR” and “LNR”). The verdict was published on the website of the Kirov district court of Rostov-on-Don, then deleted hours later.

Russian court publishes documents proving Russian army presence in Ukraine, deletes them hours later

Russia to transfer new Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft systems to Donbas to hunt for Bayraktars

Bayraktar drones can be based 150 km from the frontline and are able to fly for 24 hours. Image by Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

According to the data obtained by the volunteers of the InformNapalm international intelligence community, Russia plans to secretly transfer the modernized Pantsir-S1 version of the surface-to-air missile and gun system (SAMG) to the occupied areas of Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk across the non-government-controlled stretches of the Ukrainian border in the nearest future.

The Pantsirs proved totally ineffective against the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the digital sleuths of InformNapalm, Russia now seeks to take some kind of rematch by attempting to shoot down at least one Ukrainian TB2 in the Donbas in order not to lose export contracts for these systems.

European Parliament calls to disconnect Russia from SWIFT in the event of a new invasion of Ukraine

Against the backdrop of increasing Russian military threats against Ukraine, members of the European Parliament say any aggression by Moscow must come at a high economic and political price in a resolution adopted by 548 votes (69 against, 54 abstentions).

Any new sanctions package should include the Russian officer corps and flag officers involved in the planning of a possible invasion, as well as the immediate circle and oligarchs “in the orbit of the Russian President and their families.” It should also entail the freezing of financial and physical assets in the EU, travel bans, the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT payment system, the targeting of sectors important to the Russian economy, and the disruption of the financing of the country’s intelligence services and the military.

The resolution urges that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should not be made operational, regardless of whether it at some point fulfills the provisions of the EU Gas Directive.

European Parliament calls to disconnect Russia from SWIFT in the event of a new invasion of Ukraine

Reportage from the Donbas frontline

“…In response to the ultimatum from the masked strangers, Svan decided to leave the Donetsk military school and enroll in another academy in Zaporizhzhia, four hours away. His brother, who is six years older, also left and joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In the years since the war’s start, Svan’s father has died, and his mother continues to run the family business. Svan and his wife, Diana, who are friends from childhood, now have a baby, Karolina…” – read Politico’s reportage from the Donbas front and stories of Ukrainian soldiers who stand their ground there, titled “Europe remembers its forgotten war. While Russia masses troops and the West warns against escalation, in Ukraine the fighting grinds on as it has for years.”

“Inside Ukraine’s First World War-style trenches 150ft from huge Russian ‘invasion’ force”

The Mirror’s Defence and Security Editor Chris Hughes and photographer Rowan Griffiths arrived on the frontline in Donbas, Ukraine, went inside the trenches as Ukrainian troops await an invasion after eight years of bloody warfare along the 250-mile front. Here is what they saw.

“We fear that a big war will start. People are scared and packed up their bags” 

Liudmyla Momot weeps as she searches for any still-usable items Dec. 10, 2021, in the debris of her house in the village of Nevelske, Ukraine, after it was hit by a mortar shell fired by Russian-hybrid forces. Photo: Voice of America

Read Voice of America’s story of 68-year-old Liudmyla Momot, a resident of a Donbas warzone village,

“Her village of Nevelske, northwest of the rebel-held city of Donetsk, is only about 3 kilometers from the line of contact between the separatists and the Ukrainian military and has been emptied of all but five people. Small arms fire frequently is heard in the daytime, giving way to the booms of light artillery and mortar shelling after dusk.”

Ukraine wants more international exercises in the Black Sea

Ukraine initiates a negotiation process with international partners to increase the number of exercises and training activities in the Black Sea region, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He said this at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Mr. Stoltenberg said that neither NATO nor its cooperation with Ukraine poses any threat to Russia, while Russia has been the aggressor and must change its behavior. He also assured that NATO isn’t going to go for compromise on sovereign nations’ right to join, and would remain committed to the open-door policy regarding the alliance’s enlargement.

Slovenia becomes 7th EU country to support Ukraine’s aspiration for EU membership

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy have signed a declaration in support of Ukraine’s European prospects during the EU Eastern Partnership Summit that took place in Brussels on 15 December 2021. Therefore, Slovenia becomes the seventh country to openly acknowledge support for Ukraine’s EU membership.

Quarter of EU members officially support Ukraine’s membership as Slovenia signs corresponding declaration

Germany expels Russian diplomats over a state-sponsored assassination

A Berlin court has ruled that a 2019 assassination of a Georgian citizen in Berlin was ordered by Russia, resulting in two employees of the Russian embassy being declared “persona non grata.” Russia was quick to reject the accusations, saying that “the case is politicized, to put it mildly, and has nothing to do with any notion of law and justice.”

UNESCO adds Crimean Tatar ornament to World Intangible Heritage list
The Ornek Crimean Tatar ornament and knowledge about it have been officially added to the UNESCO World Intangible Heritage list at the 16th session of the Intergovernmental Commission in Paris, becoming Ukraine’s fourth element in the list. Overall, 46 items worldwide were inscribed in this list this year.

Crimean Tatar ornament now part of UNESCO World Intangible Heritage list

Coercing Ukraine into neutrality: the politics behind Russia’s military threat to Ukraine

Despite the scale of Russia’s military threats on Ukraine’s border, it would not be entirely accurate to focus on the possibility of Russian troop deployment and a full-scale invasion, although the survival and stability of the country depend on it. Even if a full-fledged military invasion along the entire border of the Ukrainian does not happen, tactically the Kremlin has achieved some of its goals, writes Yaroslav Bozhko.

Coercing Ukraine into neutrality: the politics behind Russia’s military threat to Ukraine

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