Russo Ukrainian War. Day 254: 107 Ukrainian defenders are liberated from captivity, most from Azovstal

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove. Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City. Ukraine’s air defense units downed nine enemy kamikaze drones overnight. Russian invaders used 68 missiles and 30 suicide drones against Ukraine over the past week. Ukrainian forces destroy Russian military boats and barges under Antonivka Bridge. Ukrainian IT army gains access to Russian Central Bank documents. Russians attack energy and water facilities in Kryvyi Rih with Iskander missile systems and Shahed drones. 107 Ukrainian defenders are liberated from captivity, most from Azovstal. Bodies of 868 civilians found in liberated cities and villages. Shelling leaves Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant completely without power, back-up generators have fuel to last 15 days. IAEA says no sign of ‘dirty bomb’ work at Ukrainian sites. Spain gives Ukraine SAM battery, 4 Hawk air defence systems, guns and shells.

Daily overview — Summary report, November 4

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, November 4, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below

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Situation in Ukraine. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW.

“Russian forces are trying to keep the temporarily captured territories, concentrating efforts on restraining the actions of the Defense Forces in certain areas. Conducts offensive actions in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka directions.

Russian forces launched 4 missile strikes, 28 airstrikes and more than 45 MLRS attacks from rocket salvo systems. About 30 settlements of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kherson and other regions were affected by these criminal actions.

The threat of new strikes and the use of strike UAVs remains. In particular, from the territory of the Republic of Belarus.

The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly. The Republic of Belarus continues to support the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

Russian forces shelled in other directions:

  • in the Siverskyi direction – from mortars and artillery, in the area of ​​the village of Volfyne, Sumy oblast. The invaders also used attack UAVs;
Kharkiv Battle Map. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Slobozhansky direction – from mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Stelmakhivka, Berestovka, Bilogorivka, Veterynarne, Hatyshche, Chuhunivka and Udy;
  • in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions – from tanks and artillery of various calibres, in the areas of Myasozharivka, Zvanivka, Rozdolivka, Siversk, Verkhnyokamianske, Serebryanka, Novoyehoryvka, and Yampolivka settlements;
Donetsk Battle Map. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Bakhmut direction – from tanks and artillery of various types, in the areas of the settlements of Bakhmut, Andriivka, Klishchiivka, Ozaryanivka, Kurdyumivka, Mayorsk, Ivanhrad, Soledar, Opytne, and Zelenopillia;
  • in the Avdiivka direction – from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of Avdiivka, Oleksandropil, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Nevelske and Pervomaiske settlements;
  • in the Novopavlivsk direction – from the entire range of artillery, in the areas of the settlements of Prechystivka, Vodyane, Pavlivka, Vremivka and Velyka Novosilka;
  • and the Zaporizhzhia direction – from mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Hulyaipole, Dorozhnianka, Novoandriivka, Olhivske, Shcherbaki and Mali Shcherbaki.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. November 3, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Pivdennyy Buh direction, more than 25 settlements along the contact line were hit by. In addition, Russian forces continued aerial reconnaissance. Actively used the UAV, made up to thirty sorties.

The leadership of the Primorsky Krai of the Russian Federation is forced to introduce additional security measures and strengthen the police regime. In the city of Vladivostok, the authorities are preparing for possible protests among the local population, which expresses dissatisfaction with the previously held mobilization measures and the heavy losses of representatives of the region in the war in Ukraine.

In the temporarily occupied territories, the occupiers continue to violate the norms of international humanitarian law, norms and customs of warfare. In the village of Pisky, Starobilsky district, Luhansk oblast, representatives of the so-called military commander’s office conducted filtering measures against the local population. About 30 citizens were kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination. Similar events are held in settlements along the Oleshky – Nova Kakhovka highway of the Kherson oblast.

In addition, the highways of the Kherson oblast are marked by increased traffic of trucks and cars with looted property. Significant robberies are taking place in Beryslav and nearby settlements. In particular, the property and repair base are exported from power grid maintenance enterprises. In the village of Topolivka, the Russian occupiers are using a local school and a kindergarten, where up to three hundred enemy soldiers and equipment are located, as a “human shield”.

[Despite the announced end of partial mobilization, the military leadership of the Russian Federation continues to recruit so-called “volunteers” to participate in the war on the territory of Ukraine. Military commissars received instructions on the further formation of so-called volunteer units. These “volunteers” can become men with cleared criminal records, without age restrictions and in any state of health, except for persons with official disabled status. In order to avoid legal and financial obligations, the conclusion of a contract with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with such persons is not envisaged.]

[Previously demobilized personnel have a low level of morale and psychological state, which leads to extraordinary events in places of deployment. Thus, in units of the 57th motorized rifle division of the so-called territorial troops, at the stage of reconciliation in Kazan, more than 15 soldiers and sergeants voluntarily left, and during the redeployment to Ukraine, two more mobilized committed suicide.]

[In addition, the main problem of already operating occupation units, in addition to private military campaigns, remains the low training of personnel and the rapid failure of military equipment that has been removed from storage and has not undergone appropriate maintenance.]

Aviation of the Defense Forces during the past day struck Russian forces 21 times. 20 areas of concentration of weapons and military equipment, as well as the position of Russian anti-aircraft defences, were affected. Our air defence shot down 3 “Shahed-136” UAVs.

During the day, units of missile troops and artillery of the Defense Forces hit Russian control post, 4 areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, an ammunition warehouse, a radio-electronic intelligence station, mine-explosive barriers and other important enemy military objects.“

Military Updates

Ukraine’s air defence units downed nine enemy kamikaze drones overnight, Ukrinform reports. “On the night of November 3-4, the Russian invaders launched the attack with Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones from the east. Eight loitering munitions were destroyed by the air defence units of the Air Command ‘East’,” the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Telegram.

Another drone was shot down in the area of responsibility of the Air Command “West” of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russian invaders used 68 missiles and 30 suicide drones against Ukraine over the past week, Ukrinform reports, citing Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the Ukrainian General Staff. “Between October 27, 2022 and November 3, 2022, Russian occupation troops used 68 missiles and 30 suicide drones to attack Ukraine’s territory.

Russian troops are attempting to actively conduct reconnaissance with various unmanned aerial vehicles in such regions as Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv and Kharkiv. The Ukrainian military is counteracting such actions with all the available means, namely modern electronic warfare systems.

In particular, according to Hromov, Russia’s Orlan-10 UAV was intercepted with an anti-drone weapon in the Kharkiv region on October 31, 2022. Over the past week, Ukraine’s Defense Forces have downed four Russian aircraft and nine helicopters, mainly those operating flights from the temporarily occupied Crimea.”

Ukrainian forces destroy Russian military boats and barges under Antonivka Bridge, Ukrinform reports, citing Kherson Regional Council deputy Serhii Khlan. “The Ukrainian military has destroyed Russian military boats and barges under the Antonivka bridge.

The occupiers announced last night that the so-called evacuation was over. They announced that movement by river transport for private individuals was prohibited. They did this after our artillery once again very powerfully struck their crossing. Military boats that moved the so-called pontoon platforms on which the occupiers moved their equipment, as well as barges that were under the Antonivka Bridge have been destroyed. And after that, they saw that everything was unusable and everything stopped, Khlan said

Ukrainian IT army gains access to Russian Central Bank documents, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mykhailo Fedorov, Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. “Ukraine’s IT-army has gained access to the networks of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation! Thanks to the Information Technology Department and the Financial Market Operations Department of their sorry excuse for a bank [the Central Bank of the Russian Federation,- ed.], we have a lot of interesting information about personnel, specialised automated banking systems, their output files, the principles of their interaction, cryptographic information security systems, and other materials that circulate in the networks of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.”

Mykhailo Fedorov states that Ukrainian specialists are already analysing the Russian Central Bank files. If the Central Bank cannot provide its own cybersecurity, how can it protect the stability of the rouble?” the government official said. Fedorov has also shared a link to the first 27,000 files and called on the public to read them and draw the appropriate conclusions“.

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

  • Due to low morale and reluctance to fight, Russian forces have probably started deploying “barrier troops” or “blocking units”. These units threaten to shoot their own retreating soldiers in order to compel offensives and have been used in previous conflicts by Russian forces.
  • Recently, Russian generals likely wanted their commanders to use weapons against deserters, including possibly authorising shooting to kill such defaulters after a warning had been given. Generals also likely wanted to maintain defensive positions to the death.
  • The tactic of shooting deserters likely attests to the low quality, low morale and indiscipline of Russian forces.
  • Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine are likely frustrated that they are forced to serve in old infantry combat vehicles which they describe as aluminium cans. In mid-October, in the face of Ukrainian offensives, Russian armoured vehicle losses increased to over 40 a day: roughly equivalent to a battalion’s worth of equipment.

In recent weeks Russia has likely resorted to acquiring at least 100 additional tanks and infantry fighting vehicles from Belarussian stocks. Armoured units and artillery are central to Russia’s way of war; the force in Ukraine is now struggling partially due to difficulties in sourcing both artillery ammunition and sufficient serviceable replacement armoured vehicles.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of 4 November, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 74840 (+840),
  • Tanks – 2750 (+16),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5580 (+28),
  • Artillery systems – 1772 (+17),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 391 (+1),
  • Air defence means – 201 (+3),
  • Aircraft – 277 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 258 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4174 (+12),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1450 (+8),
  • Special equipment – 155 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 397 (+0)

Russia finds a replacement for Commander Lapin who led the Centre grouping in war with Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Kommersant. “Major General Alexander Linkov has been appointed Acting Commander of the Tsentr (Centre) grouping of Russian troops in the war against Ukraine. There is not much information about Linkov online. However, he previously chaired the organisational and mobilisation department of the Central Military District.

The Russian Federation has not officially reported what happened to Colonel General Alexander Lapin who was sacked from the office of Commander of the Tsentr grouping.”

Occupiers panic because of Ukrainian artillery: only 1 in 20 survive, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press-service of the Security Service of Ukraine, which published intercepted calls of Russian soldiers. “The missile and artillery units of Ukraine make the Russian army panic. In calls intercepted by the Security Service of Ukraine, the occupiers admit that only 1 in 20 Russians survive the attacks of Ukrainian artillery.

“We have no personnel left… We had, like, eight companies with 120 soldiers in each. Now there are only 45 people left…And this is the artillery war. Grad, Uragan, Smerch, Tornado, Vihr multiple launch rocket systems won’t shut up at all.” The Security Service of Ukraine remarks that this is the testimony of a Russian soldier deployed on the Donetsk front.

Another occupier compliments the Ukrainian soldiers: Their artillery work is dope. It blows an armoured vehicle up in half. We don’t know how to shoot. I just wanna escape from here as soon as possible.”

Open-source intelligence confirms that over 1,400 Russian officers have died in Ukraine, Ukrayinska Prava reports. “1,402 Russian officers have been ‘denazified’ in Ukraine (this is 5.7 people per day on average). Moreover, high-ranking officers make up 26% of the total number. [‘denazification’ of Ukraine was one of Russia’s two stated main reasons for starting the full-scale war; Ukrainians often use this term to mock the Kremlin rhetoric  -ed.] The following losses of high-ranking Russian Army officers have been ascertained:

2 lieutenant generals; 8 major generals; 44 colonels; 98 lieutenant colonels; 193 majors; 279 captains; 471 senior lieutenants; 235 lieutenants; 72 soldiers of other ranks.”

Putin orders one-time $3,200 payment for mobilised and contract soldiers, Reuters reports. “Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a one-time payment of 195,000 roubles ($3,200) for contract soldiers and those who have been mobilised to fight in Ukraine, the Kremlin said. […]

In a decree published on the Kremlin website, Putin said the payment was designed “to provide additional measures of social support” to contract soldiers and those who had been called up. It did not give further details. The minimum monthly wage on offer for contract soldiers is 160,000 roubles ($2,700), which is almost three times the national average.”

Humanitarian 

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Russians attack energy and water facilities in Kryvyi Rih with Iskander missile systems and Shahed drones, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Operative Command South and the Head of Ukrainian Military Administration of Kryvyi Rih Oleksandr Vilkul. “At night the energy and water supply facilities in the Kryvyi Rih region were attacked with an Iskander missile and a combat Shahed-136 missile. There were no casualties. The facilities are being repaired.”

Earlier it was revealed that an Iranian-made kamikaze drone Shahed-136 struck an energy facility in the city of Kryvyi Rih in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on 2 November at night.

107 Ukrainian defenders are liberated from captivity, most from Azovstal, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. “On Thursday, 3 November, 107 Ukrainian soldiers were liberated from captivity. 74 of them are defenders from the Azovstal steelworks.

We’ve brought home many soldiers who were injured in combat. Specifically, we have managed to exchange some severely injured and bedridden soldiers from Mariupol, from Azovstal, soldiers with shrapnel wounds in their arms and legs and gunshot wounds in various parts of their bodies. There are people with amputated limbs and people with severe burns who cannot feel half their face, or whose wounds are infected. There is also a soldier who was injured as a result of the explosion in the Olenivka prisoner-of-war camp. A lot of our guys were injured back in March. The state will do all it can to help each and every one of them.”

Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance the UNHCR reports. As of 1 November:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 7,786,195
Hungary, Republic  of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 2,293,788
Russian Federation, Belarus 2,868,590
Other European countries 2,623,817
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 4,459,647
Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 2,277,397
Other European countries 2,182,250
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 14,853,082
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 7,359,216

Legal 

Bodies of 868 civilians found in liberated cities and villages – police, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  Oleksii Serhieiev, Head of the Department of Organisational and Analytical Support and Operative Response of the National Police of Ukraine. “Since the beginning of liberation measures conducted by the police in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts, bodies of 868 civilians have been found, 24 of them [are] children. Only yesterday, 14 bodies were found in the above-mentioned regions, which is another proof that Russia is in fact committing genocide of the Ukrainian nation.”

In the Kherson region, the occupiers plan to take solar power plants to Russia and have banned the use of boats, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) reports. “In the Kherson region, the occupiers plan to transport the solar power plants to Russia and have banned the use of boats. If the owners of the property do not show up within the specified time to prove their ownership, the property will be “nationalized” (stolen) and transferred to the fake company “khersonoblenergo” created by the occupiers. After that, it is planned to take the property to the territory of the Russian Federation.

The illegal “evacuation” of Ukrainian citizens of the Kherson region from the right bank of the Dnieper continues. To encourage people to move, they are offered so-called “housing certificates” for the purchase of housing in the Russian Federation. As part of the “evacuation”, local residents are forcibly evicted from apartments and houses. Russian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes move into the vacated housing. Cars are taken from the locals for use by the occupying forces. Residents are warned that all moorings (even small rural ones) must be empty. If any watercraft are found, they will either be destroyed or confiscated.

Children were taken from boarding schools in Kherson to the territory of Crimea. Today, the children are housed in one of the psychiatric hospitals of Simferopol. Prisoners of the Kherson colony were also transported to the territory of Crimea.

430 children were killed, 826 children injured, 10,570 deported by foe forces, and 263 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of November 4. 2,719 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 332 of them are destroyed fully. Source:

Environmental

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Shelling leaves Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant completely without power, back-up generators have fuel to last 15 days, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  Energoatom, the state operator of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. “Yesterday, 2 November 2022, the two remaining high-voltage power lines connecting the Zaporizhzhia NPP with Ukraine’s power were damaged as a result of Russian shelling. The plant lost all power at 23:04. All 20 [back-up] diesel generators have been switched on.” 

The ZNPP’s auxiliary power supply system has now been optimised, with only nine diesel generators working. Power units No. 5 and No. 6, which were in hot shutdown mode, are currently being deactivated. There is enough diesel fuel to sustain the back-up generators for 15 days if power at the ZNPP remains completely cut off. A countdown until the plant’s total loss of power has begun.

Ukraine’s ability to ensure the ZNPP’s safety are significantly limited due to the Russian occupation and the interference in the plant’s operation by Rosatom representatives, Energoatom said. [Rosatom is Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, which has taken over control over the ZNPP – ed.]”

IAEA says no sign of ‘dirty bomb’ work at Ukrainian sites, Reuters reports. “The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday it had found no sign of undeclared nuclear activity at three sites in Ukraine that it inspected at Kyiv’s request in response to Russian allegations that work was being done on a “dirty bomb”.

Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning to use such a bomb – a conventional explosive device laced with radioactive material – and said institutes linked to the nuclear industry were involved in preparations, without presenting evidence. Ukraine’s government denies the accusation. […]

Over the past few days, the inspectors were able to carry out all activities that the IAEA had planned to conduct and were given unfettered access to the locations, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement. Based on the evaluation of the results available to date and the information provided by Ukraine, the agency did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations. […] Inspectors also took environmental samples that will be sent off for lab analysis and the IAEA will report back on the results, the statement added.”

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Support 

Regardless of the congressional election outcome, US support for Ukraine will stay strong, Ukrainian Business News reports.  “After the elections are held in the US on November 8, the previous composition of the Congress will work for almost two more months, till January 3. This will allow the current composition of the Congress to consider and close specific issues, including those related to aid to Ukraine, even after the election winners are known, reported VOA. This will make it possible to agree on the final version of the defense budget for 2023 in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

According to Congressman Adam Kinzinger, the bill includes more than 900 amendments, among which is additional assistance for Ukraine, in particular, the training of Ukrainian pilots on American F-15 and F-16 fighters, possible provision of the Patriot air defense system, the transfer of confiscated Russian assets to help Ukraine, etc. Lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties are currently discussing an additional aid package for Ukraine in the amount of $50B to $60B. The bill is planned to be approved before the new Congress begins to work.”

Spain gives Ukraine SAM battery, 4 Hawk air defence systems, guns and shells, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “I am very pleased that there is a new package, it is already on its way to Ukraine, and in the near future, our state will strengthen its defence capabilities by receiving a battery of Aspide anti-aircraft missile systems and missiles for them, four Hawk air defence systems, anti-tank missile systems, guns and shells for them, as well as other military equipment.”

Bulgaria has opened the supply of military aid to Ukraine, Ukraine Business News reports.  “On Thursday, the National Assembly of Bulgaria supported the resolution on supplying military and technical assistance to Ukraine, reported BGNES. The proposal from GERB-UDF and Democratic Bulgaria parties was adopted with 175 votes in favour, 49 against, and one abstention. BSP and Vazrazhdane voted against it, while the party of former caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev Bulgarian Rise surprisingly supported it. Within 30 days, the caretaker government must table a draft decision on the arms supply.

Earlier this year, Bulgaria was against the direct supply of weapons despite the high potential profit for the defence sector in selling weapons to Ukraine due to a fear of turning Bulgaria into a party in the conflict.”

Switzerland blocks German shipment of ammunition to Ukraine, The Brussels Times reports. “Switzerland has blocked Germany from sending its Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine on Wednesday. The ammunition was destined to equip Ukrainian anti-air defence vehicles which Germany is planning to deliver to Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities have stated that they are in desperate need of anti-air equipment, especially in light of drone and rocket attacks against Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

Switzerland has specifically prevented the delivery of 12,400 35 millimetre rounds intended for the German Gepard twin-cannon anti-aircraft tracked defence system, which Ukraine has requested to help shoot down enemy cruise missiles and kamikaze drones. […]

“The equal treatment coming from the law of neutrality does not allow Switzerland to approve a request for the transmission of war material or Swiss origin to Ukraine as long as this country is involved in an international armed conflict,” the minister underlined in a press release. This has not stopped Swiss weaponry and ammunition from appearing in war zones across the world in the past.

While Switzerland bans the sale of arms to countries in conflict, as well as preventing countries from selling Swiss equipment to third parties, a joint investigation by various Swiss public broadcasters, NZZ am Sonntag, and NGO Lighthouse Reports have demonstrated that Swiss weaponry is still being actively used in war zones in Afghanistan and Yemen, even against civilians.”

G7 to work together on winter aid for Ukraine, Germany says, Reuters reports. “Group of Seven foreign ministers gathered on Thursday to weigh how to support Ukraine through the winter in the face of Russian attacks on its power grid […]. The two-day meeting in Germany comes amid concerns over the consistency of Western support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, amid leadership changes across Europe and a possible US Republican victory in next week’s midterm elections. […]

G7 partners will now together kick off winter aid for Ukraine,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at the opening of the event. “We will not allow lots of people – the elderly, children, teenagers, families – to die from hunger or cold over the upcoming winter months due to the brutal tactics of the Russian president.”

Yermak: Ukraine’s NATO membership will strengthen Alliance’s positions, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine, which will become a NATO member in the future, will only strengthen Alliance’s positions. Head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak made a corresponding statement during a meeting with the heads of delegations of NATO member states to the headquarters of the Alliance on November 3, the press service of the Head of State informs.

“We expect confirmation of the Alliance’s open door policy in the context of Ukraine’s application for membership, as well as the expansion of assistance to Ukraine to strengthen air defence. In addition, we expect progress in the dialogue with NATO member countries regarding security guarantees,” he noted and recalled that an international group of experts co-chaired by Andriy Yermak and former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen developed recommendations on security guarantees for Ukraine, which can become the basis of the Kyiv Security Compact.

Yermak also emphasized the importance of rebuilding Ukraine and eliminating the consequences of the Russian invasion. According to him, two major conferences were held in Lugano and Berlin, dedicated to the plan for Ukraine’s restoration. However, now the Ukrainian side is focused on the implementation of the Fast Recovery Plan.[…]

In addition, the Head of the President’s Office emphasized the importance of a clear and powerful reaction by the leaders of NATO member states to Russia’s nuclear blackmail and threats. […] Ukraine demonstrates that it can successfully fight the aggressor and confirms that it is capable of winning with the help of its partners. We are sure of our victory, added the Head of the President’s Office.”

 

New Developments 

  1. The world must stand with Kyiv as Putin counts on “General Winter”, EU says, ReutersInternational partners must continue to support Ukraine as the country prepares to keep up its fight against Russia’s invasion during the upcoming winter months, the European Union’s top diplomat said on Thursday. […] Putin’s Russia is destroying Ukraine. They cannot occupy it, they cannot win on the battlefield, they cannot win the war – and they are destroying the country systematically,” [EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell] told reporters.”
  2. The Ukrainian Parliament approves the 2023 Budget, Ukraine Business NewsUkraine’s cabinet cut its 2023 economic growth forecast to 3.2% from 4.6%, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. Inflation is forecast at 28%, and the nation’s budget deficit will exceed 20% of the anticipated GDP. Ukraine seeks $38B from international partners to help cover the budget gap.”
  3. EU considers using Russia’s Central Bank assets to rebuild Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Bloomberg. “The European Union is studying the feasibility of using billions of euros worth of Russian central bank assets already frozen by member states to help with Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts. The discussions are at an early stage and legal experts have been recently tasked to look into possible options. Assessing whether or how to take control of the assets is extremely complex and potentially legally fraught.”
  4. Russia’s Security Council claims “Anglo-Saxons are destroying the Russian ethnos” in Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaNikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, has claimed that “Anglo-Saxons” are using Ukraine “to create a precedent to further fracture the Russian ethnic group” and that their “goal” is to “totally eliminate it.” Patrushev has once again reiterated the Kremlin propaganda statement that Russians and Ukrainians have always been a single, indivisible people with a shared culture and fate.”
  5. G7 coalition has agreed to set a fixed price for Russian oil, ReutersG7 countries have been in intense negotiations in recent weeks over the unprecedented plan to put a price capon sea-borne oil shipments, which is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 5 – to ensure EU and US sanctions aimed at limiting Moscow’s ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine do not throttle the global oil market. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other G7 officials argue the price cap […] will squeeze funding to Russia without cutting supply to consumers. Russia has said it will refuse to ship oil to countries that set price caps.”
  6. Zelenskyy says he will not take part in G20 summit if Putin does, ReutersUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday he would not take part in a summit in Indonesia of the Group of 20 major economies if Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin attends.”
  7. Russia claims it returns to Black Sea Grain Initiative because it received “guarantees” from Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reported Wednesday, citing RIA NovostiEuropean Pravda. “The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has announced that Russia is resuming the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was suspended after the explosions in Sevastopol. The Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Russia has received “written guarantees” from Ukraine that the grain corridor will not be used for military operations against the Russian Federation.”

8. Russia calls on other nuclear states not to limit its interests in order to avoid nuclear war, Ukrainska Pravda reported Wednesday. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation made a statement on Wednesday, 2 November, calling on other members of the “nuclear club” [countries that possess nuclear weapons – ed.] to avoid direct confrontation because of dangerous attempts to limit vital interests.”

9. Turkey says Sweden, Finland not yet done enough under NATO deal, ReutersTurkey’s foreign minister said on Thursday that Sweden and Finland have not yet fulfilled all obligations under a deal clearing their bids to join NATO, and they must still take concrete steps.”

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Assessment 

 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 3 November, 2022:

Eastern Ukraine: (Eastern Kharkiv Oblast-Western Luhansk Oblast)

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counter-offensive operations in the direction of Svatove and Kreminna on November 3.[…] Ukrainian General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksiy Hromov reported […] that Russian forces did strike Ukrainian positions in Novoselivske. Russian sources claimed that Russian artillery units repelled Ukrainian formations that tried to advance towards Kreminna. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces preemptively struck Ukrainian forces preparing to launch an assault west of Kreminna from Yampolivka (17km west of Kreminna). […] A Russian milblogger claimed that the Ukrainian assaults west of Kreminna intended to cut the Kreminna-Svatove highway and gain access to Kreminna through the south. ISW cannot independently verify the Russian claims about Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove.

Russian forces conducted assaults in eastern Kharkiv Oblast and western Luhansk Oblast to regain limited lost territory and to constrain the actions of Ukrainian forces on November 3. Ukrainian General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksiy Hromov reported that Russian forces conducted three offensive operations in separate unspecified directions in the direction of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults northwest of Kreminna near Makiivka and Nevske (18km northwest of Kreminna) and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna) in Luhansk Oblast. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted the assaults northwest of Kreminna to push Ukrainian forces away from the R-66 highway that connects Kreminna and Svatove. Hromov also reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in five unspecified directions in the Kramatorsk operational direction. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces also struck a factory in Kharkiv city […].

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)

Russian forces are continuing to withdraw some elements from north-western Kherson Oblast, but it is still unclear if Russian forces will fight for Kherson City. Kherson City occupation deputy Kirill Stremousov stated on November 3 that Russian forces “will most likely leave for the left (eastern) bank” of the Dnipro River urging civilians to evacuate from Kherson City “as quickly as possible.” ISW has observed that Russian forces are continuing to prepare fallback positions on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro River while continuing to set up defensive positions northwest of Kherson City and transporting additional mobilized forces there, despite Stremousov’s statement. Some Russian elite units such as airborne forces and naval infantry are reportedly continuing to operate on the right (western) bank of the Dnipro River and their full withdrawal from northern Kherson Oblast would be a clearer indicator that Russian forces will not fight for Kherson City or settlements on the right bank. Stremousov also hypothesized about the probability of fighting in Kherson City and northern Kherson Oblast in the next two weeks, which may suggest that he anticipates some battles for Kherson City despite his comments about withdrawal. Stremousov is also an unreliable source who has consistently issued contradictory statements and made emotional responses to events, and his public statements may be clouded by personal fears of losing his position within the occupation government.

Ukrainian and Russian sources also extensively discussed the reported closure of some Russian checkpoints in the vicinity of Kherson City, the theft of city’s monuments, and the removal of a Russian flag from the Kherson Oblast Administration building as indicators of an ongoing Russian withdrawal from the city. A Russian outlet claimed that Russian officials removed the flag because the occupation administration moved to Henichesk by the Crimean border. While the relocation of the Kherson Oblast occupation government may suggest that Russian forces are preparing to abandon Kherson City, it may equally indicate that they are setting conditions for urban combat within the city. Similar reports may arise in coming days given the ongoing forced evacuation of civilians from both right and left banks of the Dnipro River but may not indicate an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson City. The disposition of Russian airborne forces remains the best indicator of Russian intentions.

Ukrainian and Russian sources continued to offer limited information regarding the situation on the frontlines in northwestern and northern Kherson Oblast on November 3. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces struck liberated settlements of Khreschenivka and Bilyavka in the Beryslav Raion with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles and Uragan MLRS rockets. Ukrainian General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksiy Hromov noted that Russian forces have increased their use of attack aviation in Kherson Oblast due to complications in logistics on the right (western) bank of the Dnipro River, likely as a result of the Ukrainian interdiction campaign. […] A Russian milblogger noted that Russian forces continued to shell along the entire line of contact, but specifically focused on the areas of Posad-Pokrovske and Luch approximately 35km northwest of Kherson City. Ukrainian servicemen told bne IntelliNews that Russian forces last conducted a reconnaissance-in-force attack in the vicinity of Snihurivka (about 60km east of Mykolaiv City) about a month ago.

Ukrainian forces continued their interdiction campaign in Kherson Oblast on November 3 by targeting Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and logistics. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian alternative river crossing route in the area of the Antonivsky Bridge, and geolocated footage reportedly showed a series of explosions on barges underneath the Antonivsky Bridge from the right (western) Dnipro River bank. Social media footage also showed the aftermath of reported Ukrainian strikes on a pier near the Antonivsky Bridge, that shows destroyed ships reportedly involved in Russian river-crossing efforts. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command also noted that Ukrainian forces struck an accumulation of Russian equipment in Chornobaivka (northwest of Kherson City) as Russian forces were transferring the equipment to another location. Ukrainian forces reportedly eliminated 60 Russian servicemen in Pershotravneve, Mykolaiv Oblast in recent days, and destroyed four ammunition depots in Bashtanka and Beryslav Raions as well as six railway cars with fuel and lubricants. Russian and local sources also reported Ukrainian strikes on the Kherson City shipyard. Russian occupation officials accused Ukrainians forces of interfering with Russian evacuation processes by striking an administration building in Hola Prystan (about 13km southwest of Kherson City). Ukrainian forces also reportedly launched strikes on Kakhovka Raion.

Russian forces prematurely impaled an insufficient concentration of mobilized personnel on offensive pushes near Bakhmut and Vuhledar, Donetsk Oblast, wasting the fresh supply of mobilized personnel on marginal gains towards operationally insignificant settlements. Ukrainian General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksiy Hromov stated on November 3 that one or two Russian motorized rifle companies with artillery and tank support conducted ground attacks within the past week to seize Pavlivka in an effort to reach Vuhledar, but that Russian forces have suffered losses due to Ukrainian defenses. Russian sources also acknowledged on November 3 that the rate of Russian advances near Vuhledar is slow due to Ukrainian resistance and mud. Hromov stated that Russian forces continue ground attacks at the expense of mobilized personnel, private military company forces, and former prisoners, and that the Russians conducted over 40 ground attacks in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and western Donetsk Oblast areas in the past 24 hours, sustaining over 300 casualties (100 killed) in just one direction. […] Russian forces would likely have had more success in such offensive operations if they had waited until enough mobilized personnel had arrived to amass a force large enough to overcome Ukrainian defenses despite poor weather conditions. Russian attacks continuing current patterns are unlikely to generate enough momentum to regain the battlefield initiative. ISW offers no hypothesis to explain Russian forces’ impatience or their continued allocation of limited military assets to gaining operationally insignificant ground in Donetsk Oblast rather than defending against the Ukrainian counteroffensives in Luhansk and Kherson oblasts.

Key Takeaways

  • It is still unclear whether Russian forces will defend Kherson City despite the ongoing withdrawal of some Russian elements from northwestern Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
  • The Russian military continues to face pronounced issues in the supply of critical military equipment.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense is likely continuing mobilization efforts covertly.

Russian occupation officials continued forced evacuations in Kherson Oblast.

Russia signals retreat in southern Ukraine but Kyiv fears trap, Reuters reports. “A Russian-installed official in southern Ukraine said Moscow will likely pull its troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson and urged civilians to leave, possibly signalling a retreat that would be a setback to Russia’s war. There was silence from senior officials in Moscow. The Kyiv government and Western military analysts remained cautious, suggesting Russia could be setting a trap for advancing Ukrainian troops. […]

Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, said it could be a Russian trap. This could be a manifestation of a particular provocation, in order to create the impression that the settlements are abandoned, that it is safe to enter them, while they are preparing for street battles, she said in televised comments. […]

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some Russian military commanders had rebased across the river to the east. We would assess that in Kherson, it’s likely that most echelons of command have withdrawn now across the river to the east, leaving pretty demoralized and often in some cases leaderless troops to face off Ukrainians on the other side, the official said. […]

Ukrainian troops on the front line last week, visited by Reuters, said they saw no evidence Russian forces were withdrawing and believed they were in fact reinforcing.”

Ukraine capable of retaking Kherson from Russia -Pentagon chief, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian forces can retake the strategic southern city of Kherson from Russian troops, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday, in what would be a major defeat for Russia in its invasion of its neighbour. Austin did not answer a question about whether Russian forces were preparing to leave. But, in perhaps his most optimistic comments yet on the Ukrainian counter-offensive, expressed confidence in their ability to beat back Russian forces.

On the issue of whether the Ukrainians can take the remaining territory on the west side of the Dnipro river and in Kherson, I certainly believe that they have the capability to do that, Austin told a news conference at the Pentagon. Most importantly, the Ukrainians believe they have the capability to do that. We have seen them engage in a very methodical but effective effort to take back their sovereign territory. […]

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity, assessed Russia was planning to retreat from their bridgehead on the west side of the river to the east side, where it could better defend its forces. We think that that planning is almost certainly well advanced, the official said.”

Battle groups in Belarus could be formed in two or three months – Ukraine’s General Staff, Ukrinform reports, citing Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff. “At this time, Russian military personnel, mostly those mobilized, are being transferred to Belarus. Therefore, we understand that in order to prepare this strike group, it is necessary to train military personnel, coordinate units, and accordingly plan and define some tasks. This is not going to happen in the coming weeks. This is possible no earlier than in two or three months, Hromov said.

He noted that Ukraine’s defense forces continue to conduct stabilization and defense operations. The situation is stable in the Volyn, Zhytomyr, and Kyiv directions, with no signs of the enemy forming offensive groups. At the same time, in general, the situation surrounding the creation of a joint group of troops of the so-called allied state [of Russia and Belarus] remains ambiguous. On the one hand, statements and actions by both sides indicate that the current task is to divert attention and ensure the movement of Ukrainian troops from the east and the south of our country to the north. However, in a more distant perspective, there is a threat of the formation of a group that could be involved in aggression against Ukraine, Hromov said.”

This war will destroy Russia – Commander-in-Chief, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Valery Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that since 24 February, Ukrainian defenders have destroyed twice as many Russian aircraft as they lost during the 10 years of the war in Afghanistan. 

278 Russian aircraft in Ukraine against 118 Soviet aircraft in Afghanistan. Zaluzhnyi believes that the war with Ukraine is just as shameful for Russia as the war in Afghanistan. He stated the invasion of Ukraine will destroy Russia.”

By sea and air: National Resistance Center finds out how Iran supplies Russia with drones, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the National Resistance Center. The Center states that Iran actively supplies the Russian Federation with the following models of UAVs: Mohajer-6, Arash-1 and Arash-2, Shahed-131 and Shahed-136. There are two ways of transporting drones from the manufacturer to their destinations: air and sea.

The following companies deliver drones and send instructors by air:

  • Iran Air (Iranian state airline controlled by the local Ministry of Infrastructure);
  • Mahan Air (the founder is the “Nonprofit Institute of Molal Movakhedin”);
  • Pouya Air (part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the military branch of the executive branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran);
  • Saha Airlines (Part of the Air Force of Iran).

The airlines in question are three state-owned and one supposedly private. At the same time, state-owned companies are subordinate to the military and political leadership, which, despite public statements, provides full support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As for the private airline, it is private only relatively. […] Since the end of 2011, the company has been on the US sanctions list for providing material and technical support to the IRGC, which in fact controls the airline and uses it for its own purposes. […]

Iran also uses the sea route through the Caspian Sea to transport drones. According to the documents, the Iranians transport spare parts for civil aviation using the port of Bandar Anzali. The destination is either Astrakhan or Makhachkala.

Transportation is carried out by vessels of the Iranian Industrial Company (controlled by IRGC). In particular, in early November, 200 units of disassembled drones are expected to arrive in Astrakhan by sea.

The Russians also actively export Ukrainian grain by water to Syria, along the Sevastopol-Tartus route. On the way back, Iranian-made drones and their components from the Syrian factory may be transported in containers, although there is no confirmation of this at the moment. In particular, in Syria, the Russians can take Iranian-made surface-to-surface missiles Zolfaghar, which are based in Syria, which also has a factory for the production of kamikaze drones.

In general, Iran is currently diversifying its drone production in other countries. In addition to Syria, the plant has been operating in Tajikistan since May. There are also risks of setting up a node assembly in Belarus, because the local 558th Aircraft Repair Plant, in cooperation with the Kvand IS company, speeds up the creation of its own “kamikaze drones”, which can be a cover for the use of Iranian-made developments, the National Resistance Center notes.

As preliminary data states, Iran can produce up to 150 drones per month. They get the parts from China to bypass sanctions, which allows them not to worry about their shortage. […].”

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Ukraine war, geopolitics fuelling cybersecurity attacks -EU agency, Reuters reports. “Geopolitics such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to more damaging and widespread cybersecurity attacks […], EU cybersecurity agency ENISA said in its annual report on Thursday. ENISA’s study follows concerns about the role of state actors and the growing range of threats to governments, companies and essential sectors such as energy, transport, banking and digital infrastructure. The agency said geopolitical situations – in particular the Russian invasion of Ukraine – were game-changers during the period under review.

Zero-day exploits in which hackers exploit software vulnerabilities before developers have a chance to fix the flaws, as well as artificial intelligence-enabled disinformation and deepfakes resulted in more malicious and widespread attacks with more damaging impact, it said. […]

About 24% of cybersecurity attacks targeted public administration and governments while 13% targeted digital services providers, the report said. The European Union in May agreed on tougher cybersecurity rules for essential sectors, with companies required to assess their risks, notify authorities and take measures to deal with the risks or face fines up to 2% of global turnover.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Much has been written and said about the Russian nuclear “fait accompli” strategy and blackmail.

The sad fact is that it has succeeded in triggering inaction and Western restraints. It has stopped NATO from acting according to its previous strategic concept and the UN Responsible to Protect doctrine. It has stopped the international community from doing what is ethically right. To protect international law. Defend democracy. Safe lives. Stop atrocities and destruction of Ukraine. To avoid the “tsunami of ripple effects” from the war and the potential political repercussions.

Russia has played our collective minds and so far, succeeded brilliantly.

Worse still, we have yet to come up with an effective counterstrategy. While the Western defence, finance and humanitarian aid and economic sanctions have an impact on Russia’s ability to wage war, they have failed to stop it. Russia is upholding its efforts seeing the West – not Ukraine – as the weakest link.

It is time to adjust its perception of the West and prove Russia wrong. The USA and Europe can not be seen as weak links open for manipulation. Establishing a NATO “fait accompli” strategy would do the trick.

A decision to give Ukraine NATO membership would dramatically change the Russian calculus.

It makes sense both militarily and politically. Ukraine would undeniably strengthen NATO militarily. It is offering the biggest, most professional and most courageous Armed Forces in Europe. It has made experiences and lessons crucial for the development of Allied capabilities. Not least, it blocks further Russian western expansion. Integration into NATO does not mean an automatic integration into the EU and the internal European economic market. It would ensure the required motivation for continued reforms. Additionally, the EU has proven itself far more important for European security than the Alliance.

Is it at all realistic or only a wet dream?

As the war is closing its rather depressive 9th anniversary, the “new” security situation is slowly dawning on Europe. NATO and the EU have acknowledged that they are exposed to a Russian hybrid war. They have realised that our way of living, security, stability and economy are threatened. The rule-based world order is being challenged.

At the same time, the West is reluctant to engage militarily in Ukraine despite strategic logic and past commitments. The acceptance of Ukrainian NATO membership would change the military balance overnight and commit the Alliance to defend Ukraine. But it does not automatically mean that the Alliance will be waging war in Ukraine. That would be up to Russia to decide.

It would also mean that Russia would be forced to reassess the situation. Would it continue fighting a “losing battle” against 31, when being pushed back by one? Especially given the demonstrated superiority of Western weapons on the battlefield and the introduction of long-range fire, 5th generation combat aircraft and maritime forces. Would it re-evaluate its hope for victory in the face of Western resolve at a time when the West is seen as the weakest link?

Russia would be given the choice of military collapse and the potential loss of its conventional military power, a nuclear escalation or de-escalation and the return to a degree of normality.

So far, Heads of State have argued that direct military intervention by NATO would lead to an escalation of the war, risking a broader confrontation between Russia and the Alliance. They have highlighted the risk of World War 3 (and therefore, a nuclear confrontation).

So far, however, they have failed to explain why this scenario would be beneficial for Russia. More importantly, they have failed to explain why it would choose WW3 instead of an off-ramp opportunity, de-escalation and return to “normality” in international relations. As I have previously argued, it is far easier for Russia to accept defeat by the international community than to be defeated by Ukraine.

Their assessments are on the contrary built on Russian aggressive foreign policy, its demonstrated willingness to use military power to achieve its strategic aim and objectives, and its constant threats and blackmail. They ignore one of the key messages of experts having studied its Hybrid War strategy:

The main battlespace occurs inside the cognitive spaces of populations and key decision- and policymakers. Russia aims to confuse and manipulate. Using disinformation, cyber-attacks, blackmail, provocations, fabrications, military deceptions, and other active measures, it creates a virtual reality that prompts not only its victims but also their partners into making the political decisions Russia wants without suspecting (or acknowledging) they are being manipulated.”

The Heads of State are being manipulated. It is time to break the vicious circle of lies and deception and establish a NATO “fait accompli” strategy. Withdraw or fight us all.

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