Russo Ukrainian War. Day 228: Ukraine might be behind the explosion on the Crimean bridge

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukraine might be behind the explosion on the Crimean bridge. The Russian authorities resumed movement across Crimean Bridge. Residents of Crimea are buying up food in panic. Сollaborators flee from Crimea through Melitopol en masse. The Russian military hit Zaporizhzhia with over ten missiles. Russians block 6,000 cars at a checkpoint in the Zaporizhzhia region. EU does not recognize Russia’s seizure of ZNPP and calls for reinforced IAEA presence at the site. IAEA chief announces urgent steps to protect Zaporizhzhia NPP.

Daily overview — Summary report, October 9

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, October 9, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below

Situation in Ukraine. October 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. October 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

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Russian forces are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, concentrates efforts on attempts to disrupt the counteroffensive actions of the Defense Forces in certain directions, and at the same time, periodically conduct offensive actions. So, almost forty combat clashes took place during the day. The tensest situation was observed in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka directions, where our defenders repelled more than 30 enemy attacks.

Russian forces fire at the positions of our troops along the contact line, carries out engineering equipment of defensive lines and positions in certain directions and conduct aerial reconnaissance by UAVs.

Russian forces continue to violate the norms of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and customs of warfare. Thus, during the past day, the occupiers launched 3 missile strikes, 26 airstrikes and more than 75 MLRS attacks from MLRS. At night, the Russian occupiers cynically struck the residential buildings and civil infrastructure of Zaporizhzhia. Information about the victims is being clarified, but it is already known about dozens of dead and injured.

In addition, more than thirty settlements were damaged by fire. In particular, Kharkiv, Chasiv Yar, Popivka, Hrabovskoe, Makiyivka, Spirne, Bilohorivka, Ivanhrad, Opytne, Klishchyiivka, Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Nikopol, Urozhaine and Davydiv Brid.

There remains the threat of air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine.

The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly.

In other directions, Russian forces fired mortars and artillery in the areas of populated areas:

  • in the Siversky direction – Lypivka and Mykolaivka of Chernihiv oblast and Lisne and Ryasne of Sumy oblast;
Kharkiv Battle Map. October 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. October 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Slobozhansk direction – Chervona Zorya, Veterynarne, Strilecha, Krasne, Ohirtseve, Hlyboke, Zelene, Starytsa, Ternova and Chuhunivka;
  • in the Kramatorsk direction – Pershotravneve, Novoyehoryvka, Makiyivka, Nove, Terny, Serebryanka, Bilohorivka and Hryhorivka;
Donetsk Battle Map. October 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. October 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

in the Bakhmut direction – Verkhnyokamianske, Yakovlivka, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Ivanhrad, Zaitseve, Vershyn, Zelenopillya and Opytne;

  • in the Avdiyivka direction – Pervomaiske, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka and Novomykhailivka.
  • In the Novopavlivsk and Zaporizhzhia directions – the infrastructure of more than twenty-five settlements was damaged by enemy shelling. Among them – Solodke, Zelene Pole, Novosilka, Vuhledar, Pobyeda. At the same time, as a result of the defeat by the Defense Forces of the concentration of Russian manpower, more than twenty enemy soldiers were confirmed wounded and were taken to the local hospital of the city of Tokmak.
Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 8, 2022.Source: ISW. ~

Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 8, 2022.Source: ISW.

  • in the Pivdennyy Buh direction – areas of more than forty-five settlements near the contact line were shelled. Among others, Sukhy Stavok, Kvitneve, Myrne, Zorya and Ternovi Pody.

Russian forces and its henchmen are fleeing, frightened by the successes of the Defense Forces of Ukraine. Representatives of the occupying authorities of Nova Kakhovka are taking their families to the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. According to available information, on October 7, a convoy of 12 minibuses left for the city of Sevastopol. A similar situation is observed in the Luhansk region. Thus, collaborators began to be evacuated from Starobilsk to Luhansk.

According to available information, in the Melitopol district of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, under the guise of searching for and fighting partisans, the occupying forces search and steal private cars in garage cooperatives of the district.

[Russian forces continue to suffer losses. Local hospitals in the temporarily occupied areas of the Kherson region cannot cope with the flow of wounded occupiers.]

[Up to thirty wounded invaders have been confirmed to have arrived at the children’s clinical hospital in the city of Lysychansk, Luhansk oblast. Additional medical personnel have been sent to the indicated institution.]

The occupiers continue to put pressure on small and medium-sized businesses in the temporarily occupied territories. Since the beginning of October, in the city of Horlivka, the tax inspectorate of the Russian Federation has started inspections with subsequent raiding of companies with detected violations. In particular, this applies to entrepreneurs who did not want to re-register their companies following Russian legislation.

Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine have repelled enemy attacks in Terne, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Ivanhrad, Pervomaisk, Opytne, Nevelske and Pobyeda settlements. [Yesterday, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled enemy attacks in the areas of the settlements of Bilohorivka, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Mayorsk, Krasnohorivka, and Terny.]

The aviation of the Defense Forces made more than thirty strikes. In particular, twenty-four were on the areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment and nine on Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. In addition, our air defence units shot down five UAVs.

Missile forces and artillery during the past day hit two control points, nine areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, three warehouses with ammunition and eleven other important objects.“

Military Updates

Five Russian Kalibr missile carriers remain combat-ready in the Black Sea, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “In the Sea of Azov, Russian forces continue to control maritime communications, keeping up to six ships and boats combat-ready. In the Mediterranean Sea, there are five Russian Kalibr-type cruise missile carriers.

Security Service of Ukraine behind the explosion on the Crimean bridge, Ukrainska Pravda claims, citing an anonymous source from within law enforcement agencies. “The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) is behind the explosion on the Crimean bridge that occurred on early 8 October. According to a source, the explosion is a special operation conducted by the SSU. However, the secret service itself has not officially commented on its participation in these events.”

Occupiers resume movement across Crimean Bridge, people are buying up food in panic, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Sergey Aksyonov, the “head” of the occupation administration of Crimea, has claimed that the movement of motor transport across the Crimean bridge has resumed. At the moment, the passage is open for cars and buses after they undergo a full inspection procedure. We ask truck drivers to plan their routes using the Kerch ferry crossing. […] Aksyonov also said that the railway line over the bridge would be operational by the end of the day.

Refat Chubarov, the head of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatars, reported that people are panic-buying food and fuel following the fire and partial destruction of the Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait. Bakery products were swept off the shelves this morning; flour and cereals are being bought in batches of 3 kg per person. We don’t know yet if these are centralised orders by the authorities. We do have photos of what is happening. The longest queues are at petrol stations to buy fuel, Chubarov stated.

He added that in the eastern outskirts of the city of Kerch, there is a long queue of people who want to leave the peninsula by ferry. It’s already longer than 3 km, that was more than two hours ago, and there is still no ferry. They are waiting for it to leave, and there’s already a queue of people who urgently want to leave the Crimean peninsula, Chubarov said.”

Occupiers begin allowing passenger trains to cross Crimean Bridge, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax. “Russian occupiers have restored freight and passenger train traffic over the Crimean Bridge which was damaged by an explosion on Saturday morning. On the evening of Saturday, the first passenger train, en route from occupied Simferopol to Moscow, went under the arches of the Crimean Bridge.”

Divers to check damage to blast-hit Crimea bridge key to Russia’s war, Reuters reports. “Russian divers will examine on Sunday the damage caused by a powerful blast on a road-and-rail bridge to Crimea that is a prestigious symbol of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula and a key supply route to forces battling in southern Ukraine.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said divers would start work at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT), with a more detailed survey above the waterline expected to be complete by day’s end, domestic news agencies reported.”

Сollaborators flee from Crimea through Melitopol en masse, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ivan Fedorov, Mayor of Melitopol. “Today, dozens of thousands of collaborators and traitors use Melitopol to pass from Crimea, because they are running away. We see panic among them; a big movement from Crimea to Berdiansk has started, because the only way to leave the occupied territory is through Melitopol, Berdiansk, Mariupol, and then the territory of the Russian Federation. As of now, this area is overloaded, a large amount of cars have left Crimea and are going to Russia.”

Russian propagandists instructed on how to explain what happened with Crimean Bridge, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. The independent Russian media outlet Meduza has reported that there are recommendations on how to explain the explosion on the Crimean Bridge; the administration of Vladimir Putin […] is sending these out to propagandists and state agencies.

  • the bridge was not destroyed but rather its roadway and railway parts were simply damaged;
  • the preparation for restoration work has started;
  • the Ministry of Transport has launched new logistics routes;
  • the Kerch ferry crossing has started working.

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • Early on 08 October 2022, an explosion damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge, the road and rail crossing which links Russian-occupied Crimea and the Krasnodar region of Russia.
  • Two of the four carriageways of the roadway have collapsed in several places over a length of approximately 250m. It is almost certain that some vehicle transits via the other two carriageways have resumed, but capacity will be seriously degraded.
  • The extent of damage to the rail crossing is uncertain, but any serious disruption to its capacity will highly likely have a significant impact on Russia’s already strained ability to sustain its forces in southern Ukraine. The rail crossing was only opened to freight in June 2020, but the line has played a key role in moving heavy military vehicles to the southern front during the invasion.
  • This incident will likely touch President Putin closely; it came hours after his 70th birthday, he personally sponsored and opened the bridge, and its construction contractor was his childhood friend, Arkady Rotenberg. In recent months, Putin’s former bodyguard, now commander of the Russian National Guard, Viktor Zolatov, has provided public assurances about the security of the bridge.
  • Following continued battlefield setbacks for Russia over the last two weeks, increasingly diverse actors within the Russian system have joined voices in criticism of the Russian MoD leadership. Critics have included Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Wagner Group private military company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, state-approved TV presenters, pop stars, and an increasingly vocal community of ultra-nationalistic military bloggers.
  • Kadyrov and Prigozhin are likely being perceived as informal figure heads of a ‘pro-war’ bloc whose criticism hinges on arguments for greater state commitment and willingness to escalate. Both likely achieve some credibility based on the significant deployment of both Chechen and Wagner combat units on the ground.
  • The criticism remains focused at the military high command rather than senior political leadership, but it does represent a trend of public voicing of dissent against the Russian establishment which is being at least partly tolerated and which will likely be hard to reverse.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of 7 October, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • Personnel – more than 62500 (+440),
  • Tanks – 2486 (+14),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5133 (+22),
  • Artillery systems – 1477 (+18),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 348 (+3),
  • Air defence means – 180 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 266 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 235 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3890 (+15),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1086 (+7),
  • Special equipment – 136 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 247 (+1)

Intelligence announces numerous arrests of military personnel in Moscow, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “According to Ukrainian Intelligence, numerous arrests of servicemen have started in Moscow, with traffic in the city centre blocked, although Russian media are failing to report this.

Units of the Dzerzhinsky operational division – the elite of the Russian Guard – are reported to have entered the city. They are allegedly moving towards the centre together with police units.

Numerous arrests, detentions and blockades of the military are known to have taken place. Meanwhile, all military units on the perimeter of Moscow have been put on high alert.”

“We’re just cannon fodder here”: occupiers complain that Ukraine’s Armed Forces are killing them in huge numbers – intercepted call, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing a phone call recorded by the Security Service of Ukraine, “One of the invaders says that the Russians are trying to seize the initiative on the battlefield, but the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not allow them to do so and are killing the invaders in huge numbers. Meanwhile, their artillery observers, who are sitting it out behind the front line, often hit their own forces, while the Ukrainian army lands strike on the occupiers’ positions with great precision.”

Humanitarian 

Enemy hits Zaporizhzhia with ten missiles on 9 October, Ukrinform reports, citing Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration. “Russian forces continue to terrorize the city of Zaporizhzhia. Almost a dozen new missile strikes. The consequences are being established,” Starukh wrote. At the same time, Anatolii Kurtiev, acting mayor of Zaporizhzhia, wrote on Telegram that residential buildings had been damaged in the rocket attack.”

Last night’s rocket attack on Zaporizhzhia damaged apartment buildings and streets of the private households sector of the city. According to initial reports, five private buildings were destroyed and about 40 were damaged. At this time, 17 people are known to have died.“

Russian forces fired seven rockets at high-rise buildings in the city of Zaporizhzhia in the early hours of 6 October, targeting infrastructure facilities. According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, the death toll has risen to 17 following a Russian missile strike on residential buildings in the city of Zaporizhzhia on 6 October. The Service reported that the bodies of 13 civilians, including one child, were recovered from under the rubble of a five-storey building that was hit on 6 October. Another six people were rescued; four of them have been hospitalised.

Four bodies were retrieved from under the rubble of a four-storey building at the site of another strike. Fifteen people were rescued at that site, and eight of them have been hospitalised.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1578848727154184192

Russians block 6,000 cars at a checkpoint in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrinform reports. “There were 6,000 cars in Vasylivka – the only town that linked the temporarily occupied territories to Ukraine-controlled territory, in the morning. They [Russians] let about 100 cars move to the last checkpoint when they were stopped and told that Saturday and Sunday were weekend,” Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said. According to him, people blocked by invaders have been living in cars for 10 days.”

Seven ships with Ukrainian grain leave for Asian and European countries, Ukrinform reports, citing  Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure. “Seven more ships carrying 172,600 tonnes of agricultural products have departed for countries in Asia and Europe as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Since the departure of the first ship with Ukrainian foodstuffs, 6.6 million tonnes of agricultural products have been exported. As many as 292 ships with food for countries in Asia, Europe and Africa left Ukrainian ports.”

Environmental 

EU does not recognize Russia’s seizure of ZNPP and calls for reinforced IAEA presence at the site, Ukrinform reports, citing the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell. “The EU does not recognize and strongly condemns Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. Consequently, the decree on the seizure of the ZNPP is illegal and legally null and void, the document reads.

The EU High Representative noted that Russia must fully withdraw its military forces and equipment and hand back control of the NPP to its rightful owner, Ukraine. He stressed that the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security as set out by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency must be fully adhered to and respected.

A reinforced IAEA presence at the site and its unhindered access to the plant are urgently needed in the interest of the security of Europe as a whole. A nuclear safety and security protection zone must be established immediately, without prejudice to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU strongly supports the efforts of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to this end, the EU High Representative said.”

IAEA chief announces urgent steps to protect Zaporizhzhia NPP, Ukrinform reports, citing IAEA’s press release. “Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) must be urgently protected, as it has lost the last remaining external power source due to renewed shelling.

The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant must be protected. I will soon travel to the Russian Federation and then return to Ukraine, to agree on a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant. This is an absolute and urgent imperative,” Grossi said.

All the plant’s safety systems continue to receive power and are operating normally, relying on emergency diesel generators, the IAEA experts were informed by senior Ukrainian operating staff at the site. According to the IAEA, although the six reactors are in cold shutdown, they still require electricity for vital nuclear safety and security functions. The plant’s diesel generators each have sufficient fuel for at least ten days.”

Legal 

Bodies of four civilians shot by Russian forces were found in the Kharkiv region, Ukrinform reports, citing the press service of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office. “The Russian military shot dead four civilians in the cellar of a private home in the Kharkiv region. According to preliminary data, in the town of Kupiansk-Vuzlovyi in mid-September, Russian soldiers shot dead four civilians in the cellar of a house. Among them are the 73-year-old owner of the house and the neighbouring family – a 65-year-old woman, her grandson and daughter-in-law. The deceased were buried by relatives and neighbours on the territory of their homesteads, the report said.”

421 children were killed, 798 children injured, 7,992 deported by foe forces, and 239 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of October 9. 2,608 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 313 of them are destroyed fully. 39,107 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 17,343 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

Lithuanian foreign minister: All weapon stocks of allies need to be opened for the Ukrainian army, Ukrinform reports. “Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has said that the Ukrainian army has proven its ability to effectively use NATO-grade weapons to retake the temporarily occupied territories, so all the weapon stocks of allied countries need to be opened for Ukrainian forces.”

Germany announces more weapons deliveries for Ukraine and says NATO needs to fill “gaps in defence”, CNN reports. “NATO needs to work on strengthening its defence, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Saturday. We live in serious times, and in such times, it is also important to know where we have gaps in the defence. The air defence is one such area where it is urgent to act, Lambrecht said while visiting German troops deployed in Lithuania.

Germany also announced more weapon deliveries for Ukraine, including the IRIS-T air defence system, and a total of 100 tanks from Greece and Slovakia.”

France under fire over Ukraine weapons deliveries, France24 reports. “France has repeatedly been in critics’ sights over its lower level of military support to Ukraine compared with allies, but officials and experts say capacity rather than political will is at the root of the differences. According to an August ranking by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, France’s 233 million euros ($230 million) of military aid place it 11th in the world, well behind the US (25 billion euros), Britain (four billion euros) and Poland (1.8 billion euros).

Even neighboring Germany, historically leery of military entanglements following World War II, has committed more than four times as much as France. […] Initial fears that arms deliveries might make Russia see Ukraine’s backers as parties to the war have faded, said Sylvie Matelly, deputy director of France’s Institute for International and Strategic Studies (IRIS). […] The weapons we have here ready to use are the weapons supposed to ensure our national defence, Matelly said. If we give them away, if we tap into our reserves, we’re causing big headaches for ourselves, she added.

It’s not a lack of political will, perhaps it’s political prudence about our own security, our own defence. Several high-ranking French officers said that although Paris has boosted military spending in recent years, set to reach 44 billion euros in 2023, its stocks of equipment remain limited. […]

Handing off vital weapons systems like the CAESAR — the 18 delivered to Kyiv made up a quarter of the French fleet of mobile artillery platforms — reduces the army’s own ability to fight the kind of high-intensity war now raging in Ukraine.

And with the war on the European Union’s doorstep, we can’t compare (arms deliveries by) France and the US, Matelly said. Washington has less need of weapons to defend its national territory directly, rather than protecting its interest abroad, she added. Even with its far higher stocks and productive capacity, there is starting to be concern among US military leaders about weapons reserves given the level delivered to Ukraine and the parallel commitment to defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese attack.”

NATO must do more to counter Putin’s ‘delusions of grandeur,’ German minister says, Reuters reports. “NATO must do more to protect itself against Russia and President Vladimir Putin, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Saturday because we cannot know how far Putin’s delusions of grandeur can go.

One thing is certain: the current situation means we need to do more together, Lambrecht said while visiting German troops deployed in Lithuania. The brutal Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is getting more and more brutal and unscrupulous… Russia’s threat of nuclear weapons shows that Russian authorities have no scruples.”

Hans Petter Midttun: German Defence expenditure as a share of GDP between 2014 and 2022 has according to NATO fluctuated between 1,19-1,53%, way under the agreed target of 2%. Asking NATO to do more while not fulfilling its own commitments demonstrates the fundamental challenges the Alliance is facing. 20 out of 30 do not meet the NATO target. Increasingly more member states have become dependent upon NATO for their security, a trend that undermines the Alliance’s ability to deliver security. The headline should therefore read: “Germany (and the 19 other countries) must do more to counter Putin’s delusions of grandeur”.

IMF board approves $1.3 bln in emergency funding for Ukraine, Reuters reports. “The International Monetary Fund said on Friday its executive board approved Ukraine’s request for $1.3 billion in additional emergency funding to help sustain its economy as it battles Russia’s invasion.”

New Developments 

  1. Putin wants to negotiate a new “grand bargain” between Russia and the West, a Turkish official says, CNNMoscow feels that the agreements made at the end of the Cold War, under Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, no longer reflect the Russia of today, he said. There is a new Russia, there is a new world, there is a new reality, and they want to have a new bargain, [a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan], Kalin said. As a result, the entire global liberal order is facing a big test, he said.”
  2. Ukraine denies plotting to attack Belarus – MFA, Ukrinform reports, citing Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. “On the evening of October 8, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Minsk, Ihor Kyzym, was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, where he was handed a diplomatic note. In the note, the Belarusian side claims that Ukraine is allegedly planning an attack on Belarusian territory, he said. Nikolenko said this information was not true. “We categorically reject another insinuation by the Belarusian regime. We do not rule out that the handing over of the diplomatic note may be part of the Russian Federation’s plan to stage a provocation and then accuse Ukraine, he wrote. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry urged the Belarusian people not to succumb to provocations.“
  3. Russian Defence Ministry appoints new commander of joint troops in Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaThe Ministry of Defence of Russia has appointed Sergey Surovikin commander of the joint group of troops in Ukraine. He has held the office of the Commander-in-chief of the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation since 31 October 2017. He participated in the armed conflict in Tajikistan (1992-1997), the Second Chechen War (1999-2009) and the military operation in Syria (2015-to date). Earlier, the Russian forces in Ukraine were led by General Aleksandr Dvornikov.”
  4. Britain slaps down Russia’s push for secret U.N. vote on Ukraine, ReutersBritain on Friday rejected Russia’s call for a secret ballot in the U.N. General Assembly next week on whether to condemn Moscow’s move to annex four partially occupied regions in Ukraine and requested that the 193-member body vote publicly. The General Assembly is set to vote on a draft resolution that would condemn Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation.” It also reaffirms the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and calls on states not to recognize Russia’s move.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 8 October, 2022:

Eastern Ukraine: (Oskil River-Kreminna Line)

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations from Kharkiv Oblast in the direction of Svatove on October 8. […] The Head of the Kharkiv Oblast administration, Oleg Synehubov, reported that Russian forces continued to shell Kupyansk and surrounding settlements. Russian forces continued routine artillery, air, and missile strikes in eastern Ukraine in the vicinity of Kharkiv City, Bohodukhiv, and near Izium.

Russian sources also claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Kreminna direction on October 8. […] 

Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces are continuing to suffer personnel losses in Luhansk Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 8 that Russian forces transported 300 wounded personnel to a hospital in Luhansk Oblast.

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)

Russian forces continued establishing defensive positions in Kherson Oblast on October 8. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces continued to shell areas along the line of contact to prevent Ukrainian advances and began establishing new defensive lines in the Beryslav and Nova Kakhovka Raions. A Russian source claimed that Ukrainian forces are continuing to consolidate along the front line near Davydiv Brid and Mala Oleksandrivka and are equipping strongholds in Bezimenne, all near the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River. […]

Ukrainian and Russian sources reported ongoing battles north and northwest of Kherson City, near the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River, and northeast of Beryslav on October 8. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian ground attack near Ternovy Pody, roughly 20km northwest of Kherson City. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance in the area of Davydiv Brid and Mala Oleksandrivka near the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River. […] A Russian source claimed that Russian forces retook Pravdyne, 33km northwest of Kherson City. A Russian source claimed that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian ground attack near Dudchany on the western bank of the Dnipro River. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claimed that Russian forces maintain positions in Snihurivka, Mykolaiv Oblast, approximately 60km east of Mykolaiv City, and reported ongoing fighting on the outskirts of the settlement.

Ukrainian forces continued their interdiction campaign in Kherson Oblast to support their southern counteroffensive on October 8. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces struck three Russian concentrations of manpower and equipment and a logistics point in Beryslav Raion. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command also reported that Ukrainian aviation struck Russian anti-aircraft systems in Beryslav and Kakhovka Raions. Geolocated images show that Ukrainian forces likely hit five fuel storage facilities near Kyselivka, Bilozerskyi Raion. […] The Russian MoD claimed that land and maritime logistics routes are continuously provisioning Russian forces operating in the Mykolaiv-Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhzhia directions, however.

A large-scale explosion damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge that links occupied Crimea with Russia on October 8. Maxar satellite imagery shows that the explosion collapsed one lane of the road bridge and damaged the nearby railway track. The Russian Investigative Committee stated that a truck exploded on the bridge and ignited seven fuel tanks on the railroad. […]. The Kremlin refrained from accusing Ukraine of sabotage or attack, echoing similar restraint following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva and the Ukrainian strike on Saky airfield in Crimea. Ukraine did not claim responsibility for the incident, but The New York Times reported that an unnamed senior Ukrainian official stated that Ukrainian intelligence participated in the explosion. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a government commission composed of government officials, security services, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations to investigate the ”emergency.”

The explosion will not permanently disrupt critical Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Crimea, but its aftermath is likely to increase friction in Russian logistics for some time. The road bridge appears at least partially operational, and the railroad bridge did not suffer significant structural damage according to Russian reports that generally seem plausible based on the available video evidence. Russian footage shows people walking on the damaged road bridge and a train moving on the railroad bridge. The Head of occupied Crimea Sergey Aksyonov claimed that the remaining lane of the road bridge opened to cars and buses after a rigorous security check, but that trucks must move by ferry. The collapsed lane of the road bridge will restrict Russian military movements until it is repaired, forcing some Russian forces to rely on the ferry connection for some time. Russian forces will likely still be able to transport heavy military equipment via the railroad. Russian officials will likely intensify security checks on all vehicles crossing the bridge, however, adding delays to the movement of Russian military equipment, personnel, and supplies to Crimea. Putin has already signed a decree strengthening the security protocol on the bridge under the supervision of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Kremlin is likely continuing to frame the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) as the scapegoat for the Kerch Bridge explosion and other Russian military failures to deflect the blame from Putin. The Russian MoD has not issued an official statement regarding the incident as of this publication. […] Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov stated that Russia must initiate a strike campaign on critical Ukrainian infrastructure […].

Some nationalist voices noted that Putin and his close circle are failing to immediately address the attack on a symbolic bridge, voicing direct criticism of Putin for the first time. A milblogger warned that if Putin fails to undertake retaliatory actions it “will be mistaken for the weakness of the president himself.” Another milblogger noted that it is hypocritical for the Kremlin to call on Russians to rally behind Putin if he is unable to comment on significant events such as the Moskva sinking, prisoner exchanges including Azovstal fighters, or the collapse of the Kharkiv frontline. […] Russian milbloggers and propagandists alike called on the Kremlin to resume strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and notably did not make any calls for Russia to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Russian sources claimed that the Kremlin targeted some higher military command figures following the Kerch Bridge explosion, but these reports remain unverified as of this publication. The Ukrainian [Defence Intelligence of Ukraine] reported that the Kremlin detained, arrested, and blocked unspecified military officials and ordered the units of the elite Dzerzhinsky Separate Operation Purpose Division to enter Moscow on October 8. Milbloggers who favor the Wagner Group claimed that Kremlin has replaced Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov supposedly with Tula Governor Alexey Dyumin and the deputy commander-in-chief of the ground forces, Lieutenant General Alexander Matovnikov, respectfully. ISW cannot independently verify either of these reports at this time.

Key Takeaways

  • A large-scale explosion seriously damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge that links occupied Crimea with Russia.
  • The Kremlin named the Russian Commander of the Aerospace Forces, Army General Sergey Surovikin, the new commander of the Russian operation in Ukraine, and this appointment has generated positive feedback within the nationalist community.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in Kharkiv and Luhansk Oblasts.
  • Russian forces continued establishing defensive positions in northern Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued to attack settlements around Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and west of Donetsk City.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to shoot down Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones.
  • Russian federal subjects are facing financial challenges in funding mobilization.

Russian and occupation administration officials continued measures to remove Ukrainian children from their homes in Russian-occupied territories.“

Putin wants to negotiate a new “grand bargain” between Russia and the West, a Turkish official says, CNN reports. “Earlier on Friday, Erdogan spoke with Putin about the “latest developments” in the war in Ukraine, according to a readout from the Turkish government. His spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, told CNN that negotiations will likely resume at some point. The question is: When we will come back to it and how much damage will have been done by then?” Kalin said during an interview with CNN’s Isa Soares.

Negotiation ground to a halt after Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions last week, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky going so far as signing a decree declaring negotiations impossible. The decree, published on the Ukrainian Presidency’s website, declared “the impossibility of holding negotiations with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.” It was dated Sept. 30, the day on which Putin announced that he would illegally annex four partially-occupied regions of Ukraine. 

Kalin said the halt in talks was to be expected, adding he had recently discussed the issue with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The Turkish official said there was also a larger point at play when it comes to Russian involvement in negotiations. Our understanding is that Mr. Putin wants to have a new grand bargain, a new deal with the West. It’s partly about Ukraine, no doubt. But the larger issue is really a new deal between Russia and the Western world, Kalin said.

Moscow feels that the agreements made at the end of the Cold War, under Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, no longer reflect the Russia of today, he said. There is a new Russia, there is a new world, there is a new reality, and they want to have a new bargain, Kalin said. As a result, the entire global liberal order is facing a big test, he said.”

In Dealing With Putin Threat, Biden Turns to Lessons of Cuban Missile Crisis, The New York Times reports. President Biden has mused publicly on whether there might be an “off-ramp” for nuclear threats from the Russian leader that invoke Cold War rhetoric. President Biden’s declaration on Thursday night that the world may be facing “the prospect of Armageddon” if President Vladimir V. Putin uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine included a revealing side note: that Mr. Biden has been looking to help the Russian president find an “off-ramp” that might avert the worst outcome.

His logic came right out of the Cuban Missile Crisis, to which Mr. Biden referred twice in his comments at a Democratic fund-raiser in New York, a good indication of what is on his mind. In that famous case — the closest the world came to a full nuclear exchange, 60 years ago this month — President John F. Kennedy struck a secret bargain with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, to remove American missiles from Turkey. With that deal, which came to light only later, a disaster that could have killed tens of millions of Americans and untold numbers of Soviet citizens was averted.

For weeks now, Mr. Biden’s aides have been debating whether there might be an analogous understanding, a way for the wounded Russian leader to find an out. They have offered no details, knowing that secrecy may be the key to seeking any successful exit and avoiding the conditions in which a cornered Mr. Putin reaches for his battlefield nuclear weapons. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, reiterated on Friday that Mr. Biden had no new intelligence about nuclear weapons use and said she “saw no indications” the Russians were “preparing to use them.”

After Mr. Biden’s remarks, some foreign leaders said they would like to go back to the days when nuclear threats were not discussed in public. […] But as one senior European diplomat said earlier this week, when the history of this era is written, many will be shocked at how much work was underway to assess the risks of a nuclear detonation — and to think about how to deter it. It is a hard topic to talk about in public for most officials, for fear of inducing public panic or market sell-offs.

So it was a surprise that the first member of the administration to talk openly about how to avoid forcing Mr. Putin’s hand was the president himself. […] We’re trying to figure out: What is Putin’s off-ramp? Mr. Biden said […]. Where, where does he get off? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not — not only lose face, but lose significant power within Russia?

[…] Nor is it at all clear that Mr. Putin is looking for a way out, at least yet. At just about every turning point in the war over the past seven months, he has reacted to failures among his troops with ever more escalation, calling up untrained recruits, conducting more indiscriminate attacks on cities, reducing gas flows and threatening, of course, to use his ultimate weapons. […]

Nonetheless, the main message that Mr. Biden seemed to be conveying is that he was heeding one of the central lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis […]. That lesson, in his telling, is that the United States and its allies need to avoid getting Mr. Putin’s back to the wall, forcing him to strike out.

“It’s part of Russian doctrine,’’ he explained to the well-heeled crowd of potential donors to Democratic senatorial campaigns, that “if the motherland is threatened, they’ll use whatever force they need, including nuclear weapons.”

It is hard to translate Mr. Biden’s description of the risks into a strategy that fits the moment. No one in the administration wants to suggest, in public or private, that the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky should avoid chasing Russian troops out of every corner of Ukraine, back to the borders that existed on Feb. 23, the day before the invasion began.

But behind closed doors, some Western diplomats and military officials say, that is exactly the conversation that may have to happen if the goal is to balance winning back territory against preventing Mr. Putin from lashing out. William Burns, the C.I.A. director and the former US ambassador to Moscow during Mr. Putin’s rise, said on CBS this week that the Russian leader can be “quite dangerous and reckless” when he feels cornered or “feels his back against the wall.”

Of course, that is exactly the kind of assessment Mr. Putin is trying to encourage; his ultimate hope, American intelligence officials say, is to fracture Europe over the question of whether to confront Moscow or appease it.

He has plenty of steps remaining on the escalation ladder: He could conduct exercises with his nuclear-ready troops, he could step up cyberattacks outside Ukraine’s borders and he could make use of chemical weapons, as he has done in the past, against dissidents and other targets. Then, of course, there is the possibility of attacks on energy infrastructure — perhaps similar to what happened last week, mysteriously, to the Nord Stream I and II gas pipelines.

But what the administration says it is looking for are incentives for Mr. Putin to de-escalate — a search that appears fraught.

One of Mr. Putin’s periodic demands is that NATO pull back its forces from former Soviet states and not conduct what he calls provocative exercises on its borders. Early this year, he demanded that NATO sign a treaty that would have essentially rolled the alliance back to what it looked like in the late 1990s. […]

All those would be temporary moves, and Mr. Putin is clearly looking for a permanent alteration in NATO’s stance. And he is not likely, many officials insist, to stop invoking the power of his nuclear arsenal as long as his ground troops are struggling.»

Ukraine to target Russia’s bases of Iran-supplied explosive drones, Defense News reports. “Ukrainian forces are working to find and target bases from which Russia has launched Iran-supplied explosive drones at civilian infrastructure, according to Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetsky, the defence attache at the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States.

The officer said the Shahed-136 drones are “easy to fight” because they are audible from miles away and move slowly. But Ukraine is in the dark about how many Russia received from Iran, he said […].

The defence attache added that the weapons used for shooting down the drones — up to six per day — exemplify the mix-and-match approach Ukrainian forces are taking in using Soviet-era equipment alongside modern kit supplied by Western nations.

Ukrainian SA-8 missile launchers and self-propelled Shilka anti-aircraft guns are “very effective” against the relatively crude Iranian-made weapons, Kremenetsky said. German-made Gepard air defence tanks also are being used to great effect to counter the suicide drones before they can do damage on the ground, he added.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Ukraine’s economy has been cut by one-third over nine months, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Economy Ministry. “Following three quarters of 2022, the decline in Ukraine’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at about 30%.

In “Why the West must stop Putin’s drive to export Russia’s cruel pathologies”, published by The Washington Post, George F. Will argues that “Russia in the 20th century experienced two discontinuities: the 1917 revolution that created the Soviet regime, and the 1991 dissolution of that regime and the nation it had held together with gulags and barbed wire. It is, however, also true, as the behaviour of the Russian army in Ukraine demonstrates, that Russia has a centuries-old continuity: a culture of cruelty.

After reading a Post report from Bucha, where Russian occupiers beheaded a man, then “burned his head and left it out for all to see.” After reading the Associated Press report on the 10 torture sites its reporters visited in Izium after this Ukrainian city was liberated from Russian occupation. (“They beat him, over and over: Legs, arms, a hammer to the knees, all accompanied by furious diatribes against Ukraine.”) After reading the Wall Street Journal report from Izium. (“Most of the 436 bodies had signs of violent death including gunshot wounds, broken limbs, bound hands and amputated genitalia.”) After reading the Journal’s report from the city of Vovchansk. (“They were beaten, their heads slammed between the door and the door frame.”) After reading in the New York Times snippets of phone calls, intercepted by Ukrainian agencies, from Russian soldiers to friends and family in Russia. (“They gave us the order to kill everyone we see. … I’ve already become a murderer.”) And after reading Putin’s speech on the “outright Satanism” of “the West,” this is the question:

Is Russia’s endemic cruelty (and the related, rabble-like looting by Russian soldiers, stealing everything portable, from screwdrivers to televisions) germane to US policy regarding Ukraine? The answer:

Putin has correctly cast this as a civilizational conflict. Were he visiting violence and corruption only on Russians, the West would have neither prudential reason nor practical means to restrain him. The history of the previous century, however, teaches the pertinence of a nation’s internal dynamics to its external behavior. Putin’s Russia has a metabolic urge to export its pathologies, becoming the collectivist alternative to open societies of rights-bearing individuals fulfilled through private rather than nationalist aspirations. If this export is not defeated — if the West chooses, in the name of “realism,” to let it metastasize, which it may — the West will wither from self-loathing, and will deserve to.”

Hans Petter Midttun: After having closely followed the Russian war against the world to the west of its borders for nearly nine years, I am in no doubt that Putin has correctly cast this as a conflict between civilizations. Or rather, between civilization and barbarism.

On one side, the liberal democracies of the West which highlight the fundamental rights of the individual, countries’ right to self-determination and the freedom of States to choose their own security arrangements (Charter of Paris). It is by no means without flaws. Still, it is the only system that has ensured 70 years of peace, stability and prosperity in modern history.

On the other side, an autocracy which highlights the rights of the state over the individual and wages war for its claim of a sphere of interest at the cost of neighbour countries’ sovereignty and independence. As we have seen globally – including America and Europe – but particularly in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, it is willing to set aside international law and conventions to achieve its strategic aim and objectives.

There are no apparent limits to its cruelty. The true extent of Russian atrocities in Ukraine will probably never be known. In his Op-ed, George F. Will, provided just some samples of the extreme cruelty Russian security and defence sector have applied against Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike. According to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, 39.107 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 17.343 crimes against national security have been registered so far.

The war Russia started on 20 February 2014 has so far resulted in around 150-200,000 Ukrainians killed, more than 7.6 million refugees and 7 million internally displaced persons, and more than 17.7 million in need of humanitarian assistance or protection. More than 1.6 million, including 240,000 children have been forcibly displaced through Russian filtration and concentration camps. Russia is embarked on a campaign meant to erase the Ukrainian nation in which changing its demographic composition is only one out of several means employed.

More than 30% of Ukrainian territory and maritime economic zones are either occupied or controlled by the Russian Federation. According to a report released by the World Bank, the Ukrainian government and the European Commission, it could cost nearly $350 billion to rebuild the country after the Russian war.

Its atrocities in Ukraine are, however, only a continuation of its warfare elsewhere.

But the ultimate proof of its brutality and lack of moral fibre is found in its nuclear blackmail. It is threatening to use nuclear arms unless given the freedom to uphold what it sees as its right to export cruelty, subjugate free and independent countries and integrate them into the “Russian World”.

This is “why the West must stop Putin’s drive to export Russia’s culture of cruelty”.

There can be no negotiations with a terrorist. There can be no off-ramp to save the face of Russia and its president. There can be no compromise at the cost of Ukrainian sovereignty and independence because ultimately, it will infringe on the sovereignty and independence of all. It means that international law and universal rights will be set aside.

We either defend the core values and principles of society or we will own what is forever lost: the fundamental rights of individuals, countries’ right to self-determination and the freedom of States to choose their own security arrangements.

 

Giving in to a terrorist does not stop him. It only encourages Russia to continue. Unless effectively countered, it will uphold a strategy that works.

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