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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 236: Ukraine shoots down 85% of kamikaze drones

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 236: Ukraine shoots down 85% of kamikaze drones
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russians are trying to put all their forces together in Ukraine’s south but even nature is on side of Ukraine. 16 explosions over Belgorod exploded. Several blasts rock Kyiv’s center. Ukraine shot down 85-86% of kamikaze drones involved in latest attacks.  Gunmen kill 11 at a Russian army base in a new blow to Moscow’s Ukraine campaign. Iran agrees to provide ballistic missiles to Russia. “Grain corridor” to continue operating beyond 22 November. Part of ZNPP is under the control of the Kadyrov troops. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia call for the creation of a special tribunal to try the leadership of the Russian Federation. France will also supply Ukraine with Crotale air defense systems and train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers. Elon Musk says SpaceX will keep funding Starlink in Ukraine despite losing money. Ukrainian envoy calls on the United States to speed up delivery of air defense systems. Israeli minister says military aid should be provided to Ukraine.

Daily overview — Summary report, October 17

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, October 17, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below

Situation in Ukraine. October 16, 2022. Source ISW
Situation in Ukraine. October 16, 2022. Source: ISW.


“Russian forces are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, are concentrating their efforts on trying to restrain the actions of the Defence Forces in certain directions, and at the same time is trying to conduct offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions.

Russian forces are shelling the positions of our troops along the entire contact line, carrying out engineering defensive positions for equipment and lines in separate directions and conducting aerial reconnaissance. Violating the norms of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and customs of war, it strikes critical infrastructure and the homes of the civilian population.

Over the past day, Russian forces launched 2 missile strikes, 26 airstrikes and more than 80 MLRS attacks.

Areas of more than 20 settlements were hit by Russian forces. In particular, Bilopillia in the Sumy oblast, Sloviansk, Pavlivka and Novosilka in the Donetsk oblast, Marganets in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Pravdyne and Biloghirka in the Kherson oblast. Russian forces attacked Mykolaiv with 15 kamikaze drones, 11 of them were shot down by our defenders.

In the Volyn, Polissya and Siverskyi directions, the situation remains unchanged. There is still a threat of missiles and airstrikes, as well as the use of the “Shahed-136” attack UAV from the territory of the Republic of Belarus. [A planned rotation of units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus involved in the protection of the state border is being carried out.]

Russian forces fired in other directions:

Kharkiv Battle Map. October 16, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • in the Slobozhansky direction – from mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of Veterynarne, Vysoka Yaruga, Vovchansk, Vovchanski Khutory, Gatishche, Dvorichne, Zelene, Kozacha Lopan, Krasne and Ogirtseve settlements of the Kharkiv region;
Donetsk Battle Map. October 16, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • in the Kramatorsk direction – from tanks, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of Berestov, Petropavlivka, Pershotravneve settlements of the Kharkiv oblast; Hrekivka and Novoyehorivka in Luhansk oblast and Zarichne, Terny, Torske and Yampolivka in Donetsk oblast;
  • in the Bakhmut direction – from tanks and MLRS in the areas of Andriivka, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Bilohorivka, Vesele, Opytne, Soledar and Yakovlivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast;
  • in the Avdiivka direction – from tanks, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of Berdychi, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Mariinka, Nevelske, Novomykhailivka and Pervomaiske settlements of the Donetsk region.
  • in the Novopavlivsk and Zaporizhzhia directions – Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations. Fired artillery of various types in the areas of Bohoyavlenka, Velyka Novosilka, Volodymyrivka, Vuhledar and Paraskoviivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast.
  • In the Pivdennyy Buh direction, more than twenty-five settlements along the contact line suffered fire damage. In particular, Nikopol and Novokamyanka in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Ternovi Pody, Partyzanske, Shyroke in the Mykolaiv oblast, and Myrne in the Kherson oblast.
Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 16, 2022. Source: ISW.

The occupiers are trying to replenish their losses in manpower and massively mobilize men in the temporarily occupied territories. Thus, according to the available information, in Stanytsia Luhanska, Luhansk oblast, employees of communal services were forcibly registered for military service under Russian legislation and conducted a so-called medical examination. According to its results, all were found to be suitable for military service.

[The occupiers are intensifying filtering measures in the Kherson oblast and have begun the process of evacuating so-called “state” institutions. According to available information, employees and property of banks and a pension fund are being taken from Kherson to the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea.]

[The level of the moral and psychological state of the population in the border regions of the Russian Federation has significantly decreased. In particular, this is caused by the lack of medical care for civilians. According to available information, due to the mobilization of medical workers and an increase in the flow of wounded, civilians are being denied medical services in hospitals of the Belgorod region.]

It was confirmed that Russian manpower, weapons and military equipment had been destroyed in the previous days. As a result of accurate strikes by the Defence Forces, Russian forces suffered the following losses in the populated areas of the Zaporizhzhia oblast: Molochansk – up to 40 wounded, Kamianka-Dniprovska – 5 units of weapons and military equipment and about 25 wounded, Enerhodar – up to 20 wounded, Orihiv and Hulyaipole – up to 5 units of weapons and military equipment and up to 50 wounded, Polohy – about 7 units of military equipment and up to 30 wounded. The information is being clarified.

Over the past 24 hours, units of the Defence Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of Torske, Spirne, Soledar, Bakhmut, Mayorsk, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Mariinka and Novomykhailivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast.

Air Defence Forces have carried out more than 30 strikes in the past 24 hours. It has been confirmed that 25 concentrations of weapons and military equipment, as well as 6 positions of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems, have been hit. Also, our air defence units shot down fifteen enemy UAVs.

Missile forces and artillery hit 2 control points, 1 anti-aircraft defence position and 1 ammunition warehouse over the past day.“

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russians are trying to put all their forces together in Ukraine’s south but even nature is on side of Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Nataliia Humeniuk, Head of the united coordinating press centre of the defence forces of the south of Ukraine. “The situation on the front line itself is quite tense, as Russian forces are trying to gather up all available forces in a so-called fist to inflict losses. But still, it constantly (has difficulties- ed.) and the mobilised reinforcement is running away (from the moment of the military enlistment, conscripts are looking for ways to surrender).

The situation with equipment, supplies and logistics is very critical because the reserves [for the Russian occupiers – ed.] were pulled up through the Crimean Bridge – almost 75% of the supplies. And now even the sea is on our side, even nature is against them having something functioning there [on the front line – ed.]. Ferries are stopped because of the wind. It is impossible to communicate between points through the (Kerch) Strait. Therefore, they really suffer from the lack of equipment, ammunition, and military equipment.”

Humeniuk explained that […] the invaders do not even bother to transfer them [the reserves – ed.] to the right bank of the Dnipro, where the fighting is unfolding and where they are waiting for this reinforcement. On the contrary, they are looking for ways to pull up what is still functioning from the right to the left bank.”

Russians report 16 explosions over Belgorod, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The anti-aircraft defence system was activated over Belgorod; at least 16 explosions were heard. On 15 October, the governor of the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported that a shell had hit an oil depot.”

Several blasts rock Kyiv’s centre – mayor, Reuters reports. “Several blasts rocked the central Shevchenkivskiy district of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Monday morning, Mayor Vitalii Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app, with Reuters witnesses reporting three blasts. The Shevchenkivskiy district was hit by several explosions a week earlier, on Oct. 10.”

4 strikes in Kyiv this morning, a residential building was hit, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Russian forces have hit a residential building in the Shevchenkivskiy district of Kyiv during a morning attack using Iranian-made kamikaze drones. The authorities have reported 4 strikes in Kyiv as of 09:00.”

Eighteen people rescued from Kyiv building attacked by kamikaze drones, Ukrinform reports, citing Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. “A kamikaze drone attack in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital caused an explosion in a residential building. Eighteen people have been rescued so far. According to preliminary information, two residents remain under the rubble, he said.”

Ukraine shot down 85-86% of Russian drones involved in latest attacks – air force, Reuters reports. “Ukraine has destroyed 37 Russian drones since Sunday evening, around 85-86% of the number involved in attacks, Ukraine’s air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said on Monday.

That’s quite a good result for the work of our air defenses and that number will rise in the future, he told a news briefing, adding that all the drones had flown into Ukraine from the south.”

Ukrainian air defense units shot down close to dozen Shahed drones in an hour, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Air Force Command. “Ukrainian air defense units have destroyed 11 Shahed-136 kamikaze drones in the south of the country, including 9 within an hour.”

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

  • Logistical issues faced by Russian forces in southern Ukraine have likely become more acute following damage to the Kerch Bridge on 08 October 2022. Repair efforts are ongoing, and it is open to some traffic. However, a large queue of waiting cargo trucks remains backed up near the crossing.
  • Russian forces operating in southern Ukraine are likely increasing logistical supply flow via Mariupol in an attempt to compensate for the reduced capacity of the Kerch Bridge.
  • With the Russian presence in Kherson strained, and the supply routes through Crimea degraded, the ground line of communication through Zaporizhzhia Oblast is becoming more important to the sustainability of Russia’s occupation. The city of Melitopol is a junction of supply routes and hosts a major Russian aviation presence.
  • On 10 October 2022, Russia probably fired more than 80 cruise missiles into Ukraine. President Putin claimed the strikes were in retaliation for the attack on the Kerch Bridge.
  • Ukraine’s defence ministry reported that more than half of the projectiles were shot down, but dozens struck Kyiv and other population centres, killing civilians and damaging civil infrastructure.
  • Russia’s defence industry is probably incapable of producing advanced munitions at the rate they are being expended. These attacks represent a further degradation of Russia’s long-range missile stocks, which is likely to constrain their ability to strike the volume of targets they desire in future.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 17 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 65320 (+320),
  • Tanks – 2537 (+8),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5205 (+12),
  • Artillery systems – 1599 (+10),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 366 (+1),
  • Air defence means – 187 (+1),
  • Aircraft – 268 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 242 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3969 (+10),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1241 (+17),
  • Special equipment – 144 (+1),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 316 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Bahmut and Avdiivka directions.

It’s impossible to escape, our own guys will shoot us”: Security Service of Ukraine reveals how Russians barrier troops work, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Security Service of Ukraine. “The convicts were brought to us from prison. They were led somewhere further forward. And we are here like barrier troops: if someone runs back, we take them out. This is how it is done here: that is, we are the second line here, guarding the first one, and there is a line behind us, too. You can’t run there either. It’s impossible to escape – our own guys will shoot us…”.

Maliar: Ratio between Ukrainian and Russian losses in Ukraine’s south 1:6.5, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Hanna Maliar, the Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine. “The ratio of the losses is approximately 1 to 6.5. Kovalchuk states that the critical point of the ratio would be 1 to 8. After the Russian army reaches this line, it will begin to “crumble” psychologically.”

In the Kherson region, invaders growing increasingly demoralized – regional council, Ukrinform reports, citing Serhii Khlan, deputy of the Kherson Regional Council. “The demoralization is growing among the occupiers, among those who remained part of the ruscists forces in the occupied territories, because they expected that with the arrival of newly mobilized soldiers, they would be sent home on rotation. This absolutely isn’t happening. So they lost hope that they will be returned to Russia, and the rookies who were deployed aren’t willing to fight at all, they do not understand what they are supposed to do there, and some of them never even held weapons in their hands. Therefore, now this spirit of discoordination is so powerful among them that the only way out for them is to surrender, Khlan said.”

Gunmen kill 11 at a Russian army base in a new blow to Moscow’s Ukraine campaign, Reuters reports. “Russia has opened a criminal investigation after gunmen shot dead 11 people at a military training ground near the Ukrainian border, authorities said on Sunday […]. Russia’s RIA news agency, citing the defence ministry, said two gunmen opened fire with small arms during a firearms training exercise on Saturday, targeting personnel who had volunteered to fight in Ukraine. RIA said the gunmen, who it referred to as “terrorists,” were shot dead. […]

A senior Ukrainian official, Oleksiy Arestovych, said the two men were from the mainly Muslim Central Asian Republic of Tajikistan and had opened fire on the others after an argument over religion.

As a result of the incident at a shooting range in Belgorod region, 11 people died from gunshot wounds and another 15 were injured, Russia’s Investigative Committee said, announcing the criminal investigation. It gave no other details.”

Iran agrees to provide ballistic missiles to Russia – media, Ukrinform reports, citing The Washington Post. “The Iranian authorities are preparing to transfer to Russia a batch of ballistic missiles, which are likely to be used in the war against Ukraine. According to US security officials and those of the allied states, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, this is about the supply of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, such as Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar, capable of hitting targets at a range of 300 km to 700 km, respectively.

The Washington Post notes that on September 18, Iran deployed to Moscow a delegation that agreed to increase the supply of Iranian weapons to Russia, including ballistic missiles.

As reported earlier, in August, Russia began purchasing from Iran kamikaze drones, starting to massively employ them on the battlefield in Ukraine as early as September. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the Russian Federation ordered some 2,400 one-way attack drones from Iran.”


“Grain corridor” to continue operating beyond 22 November, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine. “The participating parties to the [Grain] Initiative – the UN, Türkiye, and Ukraine – expressed their readiness to continue operating and committed themselves to undertake maximum efforts for its successful implementation. There is no doubt that the grain corridor will continue operating after November 22, [Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure, said].

Over 7.7 million tonnes of agricultural products have been exported from Ukraine via the “grain corridor” since the launch of the Grain Initiative on 22 July. This has helped stabilise food prices and mitigate the threat of global hunger.”


Part of ZNPP is under the control of the Kadyrov gang, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing National Resistance Centre. “The occupiers are constantly strengthening security on the territory of the station, and the number of posts has increased, which indicates that they feel insecure. It is known that a part of the station has recently fallen under the control of the Kadyrov gang – SOBR unit Akhmat, which placed equipment and weapons directly in turbine halls №1 and №2.

The National Resistance Centre has also reported that Russia is trying to connect ZNPP to its power system as soon as possible. The occupiers are hastily carrying out measures to convert the spent nuclear fuel storage system at the ZNPP to Russian standards, as well as to adapt all nuclear reactors of the ZNPP to use Russian fuel assemblies.

Currently, four out of six nuclear reactors of the ZNPP operate using fuel assemblies of the American company Westinghouse Electric Company, which was carried out as part of Ukraine’s independence from Russian raw materials for our NPPs.

Ukrainians brace for blackouts, hard winter after Russia pummels power grid, Reuters reports. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government said power had been restored to millions of people, but warned Ukrainians to prepare for more blackouts and asked people to cut down on their electricity use wherever possible. “It is important to understand that Russian terrorists will try to use the cold as their weapon,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Wednesday. […]

Russian missiles and drones struck Ukrainian targets 128 times over three days this week, hitting 28 energy installations, the Ukraine government said. Moscow has denied targeting civilians. Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podoliak told Reuters that the government had prepared for strikes on critical infrastructure and managed to prevent the power grid from overloading, thanks also to an appeal to people to cut back on electricity use. […]

Power has been restored to more than 4,000 towns and villages since the strikes, Shmyhal said, but warned of difficult times ahead. The government is urging citizens to stock up on warm clothes, candles, flashlights and batteries while asking people to limit their use of energy-guzzling appliances like ovens, washing machines or kettles during peak consumption times.

It’s not about sitting in the dark. It is only necessary to reduce the use of the most energy-intensive devices, Shmyhal said. It has also asked businesses to switch off outdoor advertising and said homes should be heated only up to a maximum of 18 degrees Celsius (64.4°F) in the coming months. So far that plea has had some impact – Shmyhal said consumption reduced by 10% between Tuesday and Wednesday, without giving specific figures.”

Russians wanted to paralyze Ukraine’s energy supply but did not achieve their aim, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, emphasized that Ukraine managed to retain its energy stability after Russians launched up to 130 missile attacks and attacks with kamikaze drones in only three days. Ukraine retained its energy stability after Russia’s massive attacks.

Within just the first three days of this week, Russians launched up to 130 missile attacks and attacks with kamikaze drones on civil and energy facilities, especially in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. The Russians tried to intimidate Ukrainians and paralyse the energy sector of Ukraine but did not manage to achieve their goal. Ukraine was ready for this scenario. We mobilised our efforts for emergency repair work and restored electricity supply in 4,000 settlements”.

Shmyhal remarked that Ukrainians showed how energy-conscious they are by decreasing electricity consumption by 10% on average.”

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia call for the creation of a special tribunal to try the leadership of the Russian Federation, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have issued a joint statement calling on the EU, together with international partners, to help Ukraine create a special tribunal that will judge the top leadership of the Russian Federation. The text of the joint statement of the ministers was published on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sites of the three countries. […] 

They call for continued support for investigations conducted by Ukraine, a number of other states, as well as the International Criminal Court since it plays a key role in collecting evidential materials, identifying and punishing those responsible for the war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.

However, they note that this is not enough, because currently there is no international court or tribunal that could bring Russia’s top political and military leadership to account for committing the crime of aggression against Ukraine.”

UN: Rape part of Russia’s military strategy, Ukrinform reports, citing Forbes. “Acts of sexual violence committed by Russian forces in Ukraine are part of Russia’s “military strategy.” That’s according to Pramila Patten, Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Patten confirmed that rape is part of Russia’s “military strategy” and a “deliberate tactic to dehumanize the victims.” She emphasized that “when women are held for days and raped, when you start to rape little boys and men, when you see a series of genital mutilations, when you hear women testify about Russian soldiers equipped with Viagra, it’s clearly a military strategy.”

According to Patten, the United Nations managed to verify more than a hundred cases of rape or sexual assault in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022. The data obtained to date suggests that the age of the victims of sexual violence ranges from four to 82 years old. The victims are mostly women and girls, but also men and boys. In her address, Patten stressed the need for justice and accountability.

423 children were killed, 811 children injured, 8,140 deported by foe forces, and 243 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of October 17. 2,614 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 313 of them are destroyed fully. 40,348 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 17,817 crimes against national security were registered as of October 16.


Eighty-four percent of Finns agree that the only way to end the war is to drive Russian troops out of Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Yle reports. “Eighty-four percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the only way to end the war in Ukraine is to drive Russian troops out of the country, with only nine percent disagreeing. Nearly 80 percent said that Ukraine should be given heavier weapons to do so, suggests the survey published on Sunday by the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat.”

France will also supply Ukraine with Crotale air defense systems and train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, Ukrinform reports, citing French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu. The “soldiers “will be seconded to our units for several weeks, Lecornu explained, saying that the training will focus on three levels: general combat training, training for specific needs reported by Ukraine, and training with the equipment provided.

France will also supply Ukraine with Crotale air defense systems, Lecornu said, clarifying a statement made Wednesday by President Emmanuel Macron. The number of Crotale short-range air defence systems that will be sent to Kyiv is being agreed on with the Ukrainians but will be significant to allow them to protect their sky, he said.

We have twelve of them, but this is the equipment that should be phased out and replaced by MAMBAs (air defence systems equipped with Aster missiles with a range of up to 50 or even 100 km), so it will not create a deficit for the French army, said the minister, noting that the goal is to complete this operation within the next two months.”

Elon Musk says SpaceX will keep funding Starlink in Ukraine despite losing money, Reuters reports. “Elon Musk said on Saturday his rocket company SpaceX would continue to fund its Starlink internet service in Ukraine, citing the need for “good deeds,” a day after he said it could no longer afford to do so. Musk tweeted: “the hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free”.

Musk said on Friday that SpaceX could not indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine. The service has helped civilians and military stay online during the war with Russia.”

Ukrainian envoy calls on the United States to speed up delivery of air defense systems, Ukrinform reports, citing CBS News. “Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oksana Markarova has called on the United State to do everything possible to speed up the delivery of weapons for Ukraine, especially air defence systems.

Unfortunately, these systems are difficult to produce, and they are not ready on the shelves waiting, but we are doing everything possible and asking our partners to do everything possible to speed up not only the delivery but also the ordering of these systems, Markarova said.”

Lithuanian MP says West must send Ukraine interceptor aircraft, early warning radars, Ukrinform reports, citing Guildhall. “It is the responsibility of the democratic world to immediately provide Ukraine with air defense systems or interceptor aircraft and early warning radars. This was stated by Vice Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Paulius Saudargas.”

Israeli minister says military aid should be provided to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai has said that military aid should be provided to Ukraine in view of recent reports about Iran’s possible supply of ballistic missiles to Russia.

This morning it was reported that Iran is transferring ballistic missiles to Russia. There is no longer any doubt where Israel should stand in this bloody conflict. The time has come for Ukraine to receive military aid as well, just as the USA and NATO countries provide, he wrote on Twitter.”

New Developments 

  1. Putin convenes Russia’s Security Council again, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza and RIA Novosti. “Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, will convene the Security Council of Russia on short notice. Reportedly, Putin will hold a meeting with the members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation “in a few days”. Putin last convened the Russian Security Council on 10 October.”
  2. S. embassy criticises ‘desperate’ Russian attacks on Ukraine, Reuters reports. “The US embassy in Kyiv condemned Russian attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on Monday and said the United States stood with the Ukrainian people. More desperate and reprehensible Russian attacks this morning against civilians and civilian infrastructure. We admire the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people. We will stand with you for as long as it takes, the embassy wrote on Twitter.”
  3. EU Council to consider the ninth package of sanctions against Russia [today], Ukrinform repo “The EU Foreign Affairs Council will call for more support for Ukraine, work on the 9th sanctions package against Russia, confiscation of the frozen Russian state assets and the establishment of the special tribunal for the crime of aggression committed by Russia,” the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs wrote.”


  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 16 October, 2022:

Ukraine must regain certain specific areas currently under Russian occupation to ensure its long-term security and economic viability. Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against a future Russian attack requires liberating most of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. Ukraine’s economic health requires liberating the rest of Zaporhizia Oblast and much of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, including at least some territory Russia seized in 2014. Ukraine’s security would be materially enhanced by liberating Crimea, which would also benefit NATO’s ability to secure its southeastern flank.

Ukraine has every right to fight to liberate all the territory Russia has illegally seized, particularly in light of the continued atrocities and ethnic cleansing Russia is perpetrating in the areas it occupies. Kyiv’s insistence on regaining control of Ukrainian territory to the internationally-recognized borders is not an absolutist or extremist demand—it is the normal position of a state defending itself against an unprovoked attack as part of a war of conquest. It is also the default position of the international community under international law, as it should be. Nothing in the following discussion should be construed as supporting any attempt to encourage, let alone coerce, Ukraine to abandon either its claims or its efforts to free all its land and people.

However, Ukraine also requires the liberation of the areas mentioned above for purely strategic military and economic reasons. ISW continues to assess that Putin’s intentions toward Ukraine are unlikely to change whether or not a ceasefire or some other settlement occurs. The Kremlin would use any suspension of hostilities to consolidate its gains and freeze the frontline in the best configuration Putin can get to prepare for future coercion and aggression against Ukraine. Those seeking enduring peace in Ukraine must resist the temptation to freeze the lines of combat short of Ukraine’s international borders in ways that set conditions for renewed conflict on Russia’s terms. The purpose of this brief essay is to consider why specific parts of Ukrainian territory still under Russian occupation are so important for the long-term viability of an independent Ukraine that is not a financial ward of the international community and can effectively defend itself against a renewed Russian invasion.

The Dnipro River is a formidable obstacle for its entire course in Ukraine. Any military would struggle to cross it in the face of prepared defenders. The current Russian lodgment on the west bank in Kherson Oblast is therefore a vital piece of terrain. If a ceasefire or any sort of agreement suspends fighting with the Russians still in possession of that lodgment, the prospects for a renewed Russian offensive in southern Ukraine would be vastly improved. If Ukraine regains control of the entire west bank of the river, on the other hand, the Russians would likely find ground attacks against southwestern Ukraine extraordinarily difficult. The long-term defensibility of Mykolayiv, Odesa, and the entire Ukrainian Black Sea coast thus rests in no small part on the liberation of western Kherson.

Parts of Kherson Oblast on the east bank of the Dnipro are also strategically critical, however. The oblast follows the line of the river to its mouth and then juts out into the Black Sea, coming to within about 40 miles of Odesa. The tip of the Kinburn Spit, the northwesternmost point of this part of Kherson Oblast, is less than 2.5 miles from the city of Ochakiv on the west bank of the Dnipro. Russian military positions in these areas allow Russian forces to bring artillery, drone, and missile fire against much of the Ukrainian Black Sea coast from many short-range systems without having to use expensive longer-range capabilities that will always be in shorter supply. These short distances also make the prospect of amphibious operations far more plausible and easier to support by fire than if the Russians had to conduct them from bases in Crimea. Ukraine’s hold on its entire western Black Sea coast will remain tenuous as long as Russia holds territory in southwestern Kherson much further north than the 2014 lines.

Tracing defensible lines requires constantly referring to the roughly 25-kilometer maximum effective range of the 152mm artillery system. All modern armies have ground-based systems with much longer ranges, to be sure. But 152mm guns are relatively easy and inexpensive to mass produce, as are the rounds they fire. They are also effectively impossible to defend against when used at scale. Systems exist that can shoot down individual artillery rounds (as well as missiles and drones), but not that can shoot down thousands of them at a time. The Russians showed how effective massed bombardments by such weapons can be in their seizures of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, where they pounded Ukrainian troops with artillery and enabled relatively weak Russian ground forces to advance. Planners must assume that Ukrainian positions within 25 kilometers of Russian lines may be subjected to massive artillery barrages from the outset of a renewal of hostilities.

Sound military doctrine also teaches that one does not attempt to defend a position by standing on it—reliable defenses must be established well forward of the points or lines that must be held. The Dnipro River should not be Ukraine’s first line of defense, but rather its last. Contested river crossings are very difficult but can be made easier if the attacker can make all preparations right at the river, including establishing protected artillery positions, pre-positioning bridging equipment, amassing necessary supplies, and generally laying in all the infrastructure needed to get across a wide river while the defenders fight back. The river is most reliable as a defense if the Russians must first advance to it and then prepare to cross it while Ukrainian defenders disrupt their efforts.

Ukraine must therefore be able to establish and hold positions on the eastern bank of the river. Those positions cannot be in a narrow strip along the river, however. They must be far enough away from the river that a concerted Russian attack cannot easily throw them back against the river itself—a potentially disastrous position for the defender. They must also be far enough east to keep the Russians out of artillery range (about 25 kilometers) of the west bank to prevent the Russians from bombarding Ukrainian defenders on that bank from the outset of a renewed invasion. The 2014 line of contact north of Crimea was close to the limit of how far Russian forces can be allowed to hold ground in the south without beginning to put the Ukrainian defense of the Dnipro and what lies behind it at risk. The distance from the northwesternmost part of those lines to the river at closest approach is about 70 kilometers, which is far enough to allow Ukraine to establish front-line defenses at the line of contact and then a main defensive area out of tube artillery (152mm) range, from which Ukrainian defenders could retreat some distance if necessary while still keeping the Russians out of artillery range of the river and avoiding finding themselves pressed right up against the river.

Consideration of key terrain in eastern Kherson and western Zaporizhzhia Oblasts must integrate security and economic concerns because of the location of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) at Enerhodar. The plant provided a significant proportion of Ukraine’s electricity before the 2022 invasion, and its loss would require considerable investment to replace the generating capacity and possibly redesign elements of Ukraine’s electrical grid. The liberation of Enerhodar in a way that allows the plant to come back online is therefore central to containing the costs in time and money of the restoration of Ukraine’s economy, which is in turn central to allowing Ukraine to avoid becoming an expensive ward of the international community.

Russia’s demonstrated irresponsibility toward nuclear facilities in Ukraine also makes restoring the ZNPP to Ukrainian control essential from a security perspective. Russian forces damaged the inactive Chernobyl facilities, kicking up radioactive dust and irradiating themselves in the process. Russian false-flag operations and the use of the ZNPP grounds as a base for conventional military operations show a similarly cavalier attitude toward the dangers of bringing war to a massive nuclear power plant. Allowing Moscow to retain control of the ZNPP puts Ukraine and all Black Sea states at permanent risk of the downstream consequences of Russia’s willingness to play with nuclear fire. The Russians must therefore also be kept out of artillery range of Enerhodar. Taking an approach to calculating required positions similar to the one used above would bring the line required to allow Ukrainian forces to reliably defend the ZNPP about 50 kilometers south of Enerhodar in principle. That line would be about 40 kilometers northwest of Melitopol, the next major geographical feature to consider.

Melitopol is a critical junction of roads that run from the Dnipro around the Nova Kakhovka Dam to the Sea of Azov coast and ultimately Mariupol on the one hand and that run from Crimea north to the city of Zaporizhzhia on the other. If the Russians retain control of Melitopol and the roads running south and east of it, they can and likely will turn it into a major militarized base from which to launch mechanized attacks across the largely flat steppe land to its north and west. Such a base, which could come to be similar to Belgorod, Russia, in the extent of military facilities and capabilities it houses, would be a permanent threat to the ZNPP, Ukrainian positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River, and the major cities of Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk as well. If Ukraine regains control of Melitopol, on the other hand, the Russians would be confined to Crimea and the narrow and vulnerable road and rail connections across the Perekop Isthmus that separates Crimea from the mainland. Defense against such an attack is far easier than would be a defense against an attack that could use Melitopol as a well-stocked and fully prepared forward base.

Further east the weight of consideration becomes more economic. The Donbas—the area of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts divided by the line of control since 2014—had been a single integrated economic unit for centuries. Its mineral deposits were extracted and sent by rail to the port of Mariupol, on the one hand, and to Ukrainian industries in the west on the other. The 2014 Russian seizure of large parts of Donetsk Oblast disrupted this economic activity to Ukraine’s detriment. Permanently removing the entire Donbas would do far more serious economic damage to Ukraine. The reconstruction of a viable Ukrainian economy that does not require large amounts of long-term international financial assistance requires restoring the Donbas economic region to Kyiv’s control.

The military requirement for that restoration includes the Ukrainian liberation of Mariupol and the road and rail networks north via Volnovakha toward Donetsk City and to the west toward Melitopol and Zaporizhzhia City. Establishing secure Ukrainian control over Mariupol requires liberating at least some of the land the Russians had seized in 2014. The line of control resulting from that invasion was too close to the city to allow its defenders to avoid encirclement in the face of determined attacks. The same calculations used above regarding 152mm artillery ranges would argue that Ukraine must actually recapture all its land to the internationally recognized border, in fact.

Similar economic arguments hold for the historically industrial cities of Donetsk, Sievierodonetsk, and Luhansk. In the remaining areas of occupied northeastern Ukraine, the balance of concern shifts primarily to the agricultural sector. Grain plays such a critical part in Ukraine’s economy that one could straightforwardly calculate the cost of each lost hectare and consider the requirements to offset that loss over the long term as part of the price of ceding any of this land to Russia.

Northeastern Ukraine does contain some strategically important areas, however. The towns of Svatove, Starobilsk, and Bilovodsk sit on major road junctions, control of which determines in part which bases in Russia proper the Russians can use to support future attacks in Ukraine directly. Russia has major mechanized bases at Valuiki and Boguchar to the northwest and northeast of Luhansk Oblast. Russian forces have been flowing from their bases around Belgorod via Valuiki into northern Luhansk Oblast on the road that runs to Starobilsk and thence westward via Svatove to Kharkiv Oblast. The railway that runs from just north of Luhansk via Starobilsk to the Russian border is particularly important because Russian forces are heavily dependent on rail to move equipment and supplies. The base at Boguchar can also flow forces into Ukraine along a road that runs through Bilovodsk, however. Allowing Russia to retain control of these key junctions and the road and rail networks on which they sit would give Moscow a significant advantage in building up for a renewed invasion from the northeast.

The Crimean Peninsula, finally, is strategically important for NATO as well as Ukraine. Russian possession of the peninsula allows Russia to base anti-air and anti-shipping missiles 325 kilometers further west than it could using only the territory it legally controls. It lets Russia position aircraft in Sevastopol, about 300 kilometers further west than airbases on the territory of the Russian Federation. These differences matter greatly to the scale and scope of the air and missile threat Russia can pose to NATO’s southeastern flank as well as to Russia’s ability to prepare and support future invasions of Ukraine. Of all the Ukrainian lands NATO should desire Ukraine to regain for NATO’s own interests, Crimea should be at the top of the list.

Principled legal, moral, and ethical considerations require supporting Ukraine’s efforts to regain its lost lands and people and should not be dismissed. The aim of this essay has been to show that purely military realities and strategic considerations lead to the same conclusion. If Ukraine is to emerge from this war able to defend itself against a future Russian attack and with a viable economy that does not rely on long-term international financial support, it must liberate almost all its territory.

Key inflections in ongoing military operations on October 16:

  • Several Russian sources reported renewed Ukrainian assaults in the Kherson direction and Ukrainian sources reported higher-than-average numbers of daily shelling and missile strikes, but Ukrainian forces are maintaining operational silence about any operations.
  • Ukrainian military officials stated on October 16 that Russian forces are falsely claiming to have captured several towns near Bakhmut in the past several days, but Ukrainian forces have held their lines against Russian attacks. Russian forces are likely falsifying claims of advances in the Bakhmut area to portray themselves as making gains in at least one sector amid continuing losses in northeast and southern Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate announced a $100,000 bounty for the capture of prominent Russian milblogger and former proxy commander Igor Girkin and confirmed his presence in Ukraine, stating “it is known that one of the most famous Russian terrorists has decided to renew his participation in the war against our state.”
  • Russian and Belarusian sources continued to report Russian men and material entering Belarus.
  • Ukrainian sources reported Russian occupation officials in Kherson City are stepping up filtration measures against Ukrainian partisans and accelerating efforts to evacuate key materials and personnel from Kherson to Crimea.
  • Unknown assailants attacked a military commissariat in the suburbs of Moscow with a Molotov cocktail on October 16.
  • Local Russian authorities in Krasnodar Krai reportedly intend to mobilize 1,000 more people by December 2022 and discussed proposals to redirect funding from entertainment events so supply mobilized personnel, seemingly contradicting Putin’s announcement that mobilization will conclude by the end of October 2022.

Poor medical care in both frontline and rear-area Russian units is exacerbating already dire morale problems.”

Danilov: Russia enters the strategic zugzwang phase of the war, every step bringing it closer to the end, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksii Danilov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. He “believes that Russia entered the strategic zugzwang [a term derived from chess – ed.] phase of the war, where every move worsens its situation and brings it closer to the end. Danilov provides 5 arguments to support his opinion.

First, Putin’s mobilisation has prompted over 500,000 Russians to flee the country and led to political destabilisation in Russia.

Second, the attempt to annex Ukrainian territories was met with a degree of unity unprecedented in the history of the UN in its support for Ukraine and condemnation of Russia (one of the latest signs of this is the UN General Assembly vote on 12.10.2022).

Third, Putin’s nuclear blackmail has resulted in a complete reboot and modernisation of NATO’s structures, as well as a budget increase, rearmament, readiness and capability to give an immediate harsh response (annual nuclear deterrence exercise “Steadfast Noon”, 17.10.2022). As a result of its nuclear blackmail, Russia may also lose influential partners such as India and China.

Fourth, Russian missile attacks on Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on other Ukrainian cities and on critical infrastructure has accelerated the process of supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine with modern air defence systems by Ukraine’s partners (Ramstein-6 meeting, 12.10.2022).

And most importantly, the aggressive war started with the aim of destroying Ukraine has led to the formation of a single Ukrainian political nation which is growing ever stronger, while the unity of the Russian pseudo-federation is dissolving and entering a stage of semi-decay“.

Russia’s escalation won’t turn the tide of the war, experts say, The Washington Post reports. “Russia’s efforts to counter Ukrainian advances by pounding Kyiv and other cities with missiles and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists represent a significant escalation in the seven-month-old war but are unlikely to shift the dynamics of a conflict now clearly tilting in favor of Ukraine, Western intelligence assessments and military experts say.

The missile strikes alone have little strategic value, although they are inflicting widespread human misery and have disrupted lives in cities that have been relatively untouched by the fighting, the assessments say. Since the onslaught began on Monday, more than three dozen people have been killed and scores more wounded. Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure appears to be the main target, meaning that some residential areas have been plunged into darkness, leaving civilians confronting the possibility of facing winter without power.

But conditions on the battlefield continue to favor the nimbler, more highly motivated and better armed Ukrainian military, which seems likely to retain the advantage over Russia’s lumbering, poorly equipped and exhausted army, at least for the foreseeable future. […]

US and other Western officials predict that Ukraine will remain on the counteroffensive well into the coming months, even as the weather forces the pace of the war to slow. “I expect that Ukraine will continue to do everything it can throughout the winter to regain its territory and to be effective on the battlefield,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels this past week. […]

The tempo of the fight has already slowed in recent days as Ukraine consolidates the positions it has recently won. […] The pace will slow further as winter brings snow and ice in the east and mud in the south to the terrain on which most of the recent battles have been fought, military experts say. At some point in the months ahead, the weather may force Ukraine to halt its advances, said a Western official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive subjects. But for now, “the Ukrainians maintain the initiative and the momentum,” he said.

No longer, however, is there an expectation that Russia will be in a position to seize significantly more ground. So dramatically has Ukraine turned the fight around that the only outstanding question is how much more territory Ukraine will be able to take back — not whether Russia will be able to achieve its goals, said Rob Lee of the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Ukraine’s army, which was heavily outgunned by Russia at the start of the war, now outclasses the Russian military by almost every measure, he said, from the sophisticated Western artillery systems it is using to pinpoint Russian targets far from the front lines to the availability and quality of the soldiers it can bring to the fight.

Russia continues to suffer heavy losses of its forces and equipment and is digging into defensive positions while Ukraine is steadily receiving supplies of new and technologically advanced weaponry from its Western allies. US intelligence assessments say Russia has lost 6,000 tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment during the course of the war, and some of those are being captured intact by the Ukrainians, further replenishing their arsenal. […]

 “We don’t want to underestimate our enemy, and we understand that if 200,000 arrive on the battlefield things could change,” he said. There are, however, doubts about Russia’s capacity to adequately train and equip such a large number of inexperienced troops, the Western official said. The ones that have shown up so far “have been fielded with very, very limited training and very, very poor equipment,” he said. “It’s really unlikely they will have any positive impact in the near term.”

Even the onset of winter can be expected to favor Ukraine, said a Ukrainian government defense adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the news media. Russia is struggling to provide sleeping bags and other winter gear for all its soldiers, while Ukraine’s cold-weather allies such as Canada, Estonia and Lithuania are contributing tens of thousands of winter uniforms, he said.

Mobilizing tens of thousands of inexperienced and ill-equipped soldiers into a harsh winter environment such as Ukraine’s, where temperatures routinely plunge well below freezing, could lead to deepening demoralization among forcibly recruited soldiers, the adviser said. Moreover, Russia also needs experienced and capable officers and commanders to lead the new men, but its existing leadership ranks have already suffered heavy casualties and are worn down from months of fighting, he said. […]

Russia appears to be hoping that by flooding the battlefield with tens of thousands of new men it can use “a human wave” to blunt Ukraine’s advances, almost certainly suffering huge casualties in the process, the adviser said. But although Ukraine has the reserve forces to match Russia’s deployments, it is determined not to be drawn into fighting pitched, bloody battles with the Russians. Rather, Ukraine is hoping to continue to outsmart the Russians, by focusing on hitting their command posts, key equipment and supply lines.

“Russia is hoping to get some victories through numerical superiority,” the adviser said. “If we want to win this war we should be thinking about technological superiority. It shouldn’t be an infantry-to-infantry, Soviet way of fighting. “We are ready to fight to the end, but at the same time we shouldn’t play this game, according to the Russian vision, in which soldiers’ lives don’t matter,” he added. […]

Russia does still have sizable stocks of unguided missiles that it can use to hit cities, without precision, and it is likely to continue to use them in an attempt to demoralize the Ukrainian population, the government adviser said. But as long as the strikes are hitting civilians and civilian infrastructure rather than core military targets, “they are not going to turn the tide in this war,” Muzyka said.”

Belarusian Ministry of Defence reveals how many Russian soldiers are set to arrive there, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “The first [military trains carrying Russian troops, members] of the [‘joint military group’], began to arrive in Belarus. The relocation will take several days. The total number will be a little less than 9,000 people.”

Belarus preparing for war: weapons allocated to Ministry of Emergency Situations employees and shelters being checked, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Vadim Sinyavsky, the Minister of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus, in an interview with the Belarusian ONT TV channel. “According to Sinyavsky, some of the employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations may be armed in order to “protect the motherland” in the event of a conflict or military operations, placing them on an equal footing with the army. The orders of the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, were carried out and the weapons were received from the Ministry of Defence, the Minister noted.

There are more than 5,000 different closed facilities in the country that can be used to shelter the population in the event of missile strikes, in particular.  We will conduct an operational verification of these and will notify people where, when and in which region it is possible to go down into the shelters for protection from these things.This is the first story.

And the second story is evacuation in the event of an immediate emergency. We are training our forces and staff so that we can quickly organise an evacuation if necessary.”

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine: no changes along the border, Russian forces watched by intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Demchenko, spokesperson of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. “The situation is tense yet fully controlled along the border. We have not recorded any changes in the actions of those units of the Armed Forces of Belarus that are strengthening the border with Ukraine, either in staffing or in the character of their actions in general.

Of course, both the Ukrainian intelligence units and all security and defence units are studying and monitoring the situation in Belarus itself, in the hinterland, due to the claims made by the government of that state. The situation with the units of the Armed Forces of Russia is being monitored as well, since Lukashenko claimed that he is ready to receive a few thousand Russian troops in his country.

Our main task is to strengthen this front. Close attention is paid to both the border with Russia and the border with Belarus…We are doing this so that all the forces deployed on this front are able to repel attacks successfully in the event that either Russian units try once again to carry out an offensive, or the Armed Forces of Belarus enter the war, as we see that Russia is actively pressuring Belarus.”


  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Thousands take to the streets of Paris to protest soaring prices, Reuters reports. “Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest against soaring prices as weeks of strikes for higher wages at oil refineries spurred demands for a general strike.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Today’s analysis by ISW “focuses on the specific parts of Ukrainian territory currently under Russian occupation that are important for the long-term viability of an independent Ukraine. [….] Ukraine has every right to fight to liberate all the territory Russia has illegally seized, particularly in light of the continued atrocities and ethnic cleansing Russia is perpetrating in the areas it occupies. Kyiv’s insistence on regaining control of Ukrainian territory to the internationally-recognized borders is not an absolutist or extremist demand—it is the normal position of a state defending itself against an unprovoked attack as part of a war of conquest. It is also the default position of the international community under international law, as it should be.”

The analysis supplements international law with military logic.

It does, however, focus on terrain instead of the aggressor and its military capabilities. Until 2014, Russia had no military forces on Ukrainian territory outside the numbers agreed with Ukraine in support of or as a part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. That did not stop it from launching the war in 2014.

If Ukraine and the West are to avoid a repetition of the last 9 years of hybrid war, Russia needs to be both evicted and defeated in Ukraine. Its military power must be degraded to a level where future wars are effectively rendered impossible. Additionally, the sanctions must be upheld to contain Russia as it will remain a nuclear power for the foreseeable future and will, therefore, be tempted to act according to its nuclear “fait accompli” strategy.

When focusing on “terrain”, however, it is crucial to remember the importance of the maritime domain. In the report “Ukrainian storm warning” by the Centre for Defence Strategies, I outlined the “Maritime Ripple Effects” resulting from an embargo/blockade.

“Any interruption of maritime trade and freedom of navigation will cause ripple effects across all sectors of the Ukrainian economy and society, as its future prosperity is closely linked to the maritime domain. The Maritime Ripple Effect model illustrates how a maritime conflict might impact all of Ukraine and ultimately, Ukrainian independence and sovereignty.

The sense that Russia is failing and the tide is turning is based on the assumption that the Russian Army needs to advance to be victorious. As previously stressed, that is not the case. It only needs to defend and hold what it has already occupied. But most of all, the Black Sea Fleet needs to uphold the maritime embargo. Ukraine is far more likely to be defeated in the economic sphere than in the military.

The key message is that a 3-dimensional problem needs a 3-dimensional solution.

As previously argued, the single-minded focus on the military situation – further limited to ground operations in the East and South only – will render us unable to come up with an effective counter-strategy. Western support for Ukraine allows it to counter the Russian Army but renders it unable to counter the threats in the Air and at Sea. It does not counter the non-military effects of the Russian Hybrid War. The support is not designed to counter the Hybrid War, which after nearly 9 years continues to undermine the basis for Ukrainian statehood.F

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