179 settlements were de-occupied in southern Ukraine over the past week. Russia likely lost half its tanks in Ukraine. Russia’s war hawks step up criticism of the military over Kherson’s withdrawal. UN General Assembly to vote on a resolution saying Russia must pay reparations. Zelenskyy accuses Russian troops of committing war crimes in Kherson. CNN and Sky News journalists were stripped of their accreditation for reporting from Kherson. Russians transport missiles from Belarus to Donbas. Zelenskyy Office believes that Russia to get down to negotiations after the liberation of Donetsk or Luhansk. Russian offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast will intensify in the coming weeks as additional mobilized servicemen arrive along with forces withdrawn from western Kherson.
Daily overview — Summary report, November 14
According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 14.11.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].
[Russian forces continue to train mobilized personnel in military educational institutions, and training centers and further transfer these persons to the areas of battles.]
Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine have repelled attacks in the areas of the settlements of Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka and Bilogorivka in the Luhansk region and Bilogorivka, Kurdiumivka, Vodyane and Mariinka in the Donetsk region.
Russian forces do not stop shelling settlements and the positions of our units along the contact line and conduct aerial reconnaissance. It continues to strike critical infrastructure and civilian homes in violation of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and customs of war.
The city of Kharkiv and the settlements of the Kharkiv region suffered from the blows of the Russian occupiers.
In general, during the past day, Russian forces launched 4 missile strikes, 13 airstrikes and about 60 attacks from rocket salvo systems.
The situation in the Volyn and Polissia directions has not changed significantly. [In the military commissariats of the Brest region, in the period from November 7 to 11, measures were taken to clarify the personal data of men of conscription age. There is still a threat of Russian forces launching missile and air strikes, in particular with the use of attack UAVs from the territory and airspace of the Republic of Belarus.]
Russian forces shelled other directions:
- in the Siverskyy direction – from artillery of various types, in the areas of settlements Mykolaivka, Zaliznyy Mist, Leonivka in the Chernihiv region, as well as Vovkivka, Zarutske, Sosnivka, Khodyne, Fotovyzh, Ulanov, Svarkovo, Volfine, Pavlivka and Kindrativka in the Sumy region;
- in the Slobozhanskyy direction – from mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Vidrozhenivske, Udy, Strilecha, Ohirtseve, Anyskine, Ambarne, Kolodiazne and Kamianka of the Kharkiv region;
- in the Kupiansk and Lyman directions – from tanks and the entire spectrum of artillery, in the areas of the settlements of Kislivka, Tabaivka, Krokhmalne, Berestov, Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Makiivka and Nevske;
- in the Bakhmut direction – from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Bilogorivka, Hryhorivka, Verkhnyokamianske, Spirne, Rozdolivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut and Klishchiivka;
- in the Avdivka direction – from tanks and artillery of various calibres, in the areas of Pervomaiskyi, Krasnohorivka, Mariinka, and Novomykhailivka;
- in the Novopavlivka direction – from tanks and the entire range of artillery, in the areas of the settlements of Vugledar, Pavlivka, Novoukrayinka, Prechistivka, Velyka Novosilka and Vremivka;
- in the Zaporizhzhia direction – from tanks and artillery, in the areas of settlements of Novopil, Temyrivka, Olgivske and Zaliznychne.
- In the Tavriia direction, areas of populated areas near the contact line were hit by fire from mortars, artillery and MLRS. Russian forces directly fired artillery at Vyshchetarasivka, Dobriya Nadiya, and Illinka in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
A high level of mine danger remains in the liberated settlements of the Kherson region. It is noted that Russian forces have intensified their aerial reconnaissance, which may indicate that it is planning to attack both military and civilian objects by fire. Units of the Defense Forces continue to carry out stabilization measures.
According to available information, on November 12, the Russian occupiers carried out a mortar shelling of the private sector of the settlement of Gornostaivka, Kherson region, whose residents refused the so-called evacuation. As a result of the shelling, 2 residents were killed and 3 were injured.
In some temporarily occupied settlements of the Zaporizhzhia region, local residents are being evicted from their homes to house servicemen of the occupying forces.
[Stabilization measures are ongoing in the liberated settlements of the Kherson region.]
[There is an increase in the group of occupation troops in the Melitopol region of the Zaporizhzhia region. Fortifications and defensive buildings are being built around the perimeter of the city. Civilians are prohibited from approaching the airfield area. Columns are arriving to the city from the side of Tokmak.]
[In the temporarily occupied by Russian forces population centers of Kakhovka, Tavriysk and Nova Kakhovka of the Kherson region, a decrease in the number of enemy personnel is observed. There is a minimal number of occupiers in the cities, patrols move through the streets.]
Since November 10 of this year, the so-called “evacuation” of the property of the Donetsk Railway Administration to the city of Ilovaisk has been observed.
Russian forces continue to suffer losses. According to detailed information, on the night of November 13, the Defense Forces destroyed an ammunition depot, about 40 Russian occupants, 2 units of armoured vehicles and 10 enemy trucks in the area of Kaira, Kherson region.
Aviation of the Defense Forces during the past day struck Russian forces 16 times. 10 areas of accumulation of personnel, weapons and military equipment and 6 positions of anti-aircraft missile systems of the occupiers were affected.
Over the past day, the Defense Forces shot down an Orlan-10 UAV.
Units of missile troops and artillery hit 2 control points, 11 areas of accumulation of manpower, weapons and military equipment, as well as 2 other important enemy targets.“
Russia keeps one Kalibr cruise missiles launcher in the Black Sea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “As of 13 November 2022, 14 enemy vessels are on duty in the Black Sea, one of them being a launch vehicle of Kalibr cruise missiles. The total number of missiles there is eight. 10 enemy vessels are in the Mediterranean Sea, including 5 Kalibr cruise missile launchers. The total number of missiles is 76.”
It is also reported that the Russians keep controlling sea communications in the Azov Sea by keeping one vessel on duty.”
Russia closes the passage to ships sailing into the Sea of Azov, Ukrinform reports, citing the Türkiye’s Directorate General of Maritime Affairs. “According to the official notification we have received from the Maritime Administration of the Russian Federation, the passage of ships, loaded outside the Russian Federation, to the north through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov is prohibited, the report states.”
Armed Forces of Ukraine liberate Makiivka village in Luhansk region, Ukrinform reports. “News from Luhansk region front: the village of Makiyivka, located in Krasnorichenske community of Svatove district, is moving into ‘blue zone’. The Ukrainian military regained control over the settlement, the Luhansk Regional Military Administration posted on Telegram.”
179 settlements were de-occupied in southern Ukraine over the past week, Ukrinform reports, citing Operational Command South. “On the right bank of the Dnieper, our forces have de-occupied 179 settlements with a total area of more than 4.5 thousand square kilometres over the past week. Stabilization measures, including demining efforts, are underway in the liberated settlements and areas of the Mykolaiv region and the Kherson region, the report states.”
According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours):
- Winter will bring a change in conflict conditions for both Russian and Ukrainian forces. Changes to daylight hours, temperature, and weather will present unique challenges for fighting soldiers. Any decisions that the Russian General Staff makes will be in part informed by the onset of winter.
- Daylight will reduce to fewer than 9 hours a day, compared to 15-16 in the height of summer. This results in fewer offensives and more static defensive frontlines. Night vision capability is a precious commodity, further exacerbating the unwillingness to fight at night.
- The average high temperature will drop from 13 degrees Celsius through September to November, to zero through December to February. Forces lacking in winter weather clothing and accommodation are highly likely to suffer from non-freezing cold injuries. Additionally, the ‘golden hour’ window in which to save a critically wounded soldier is reduced by approximately half, making the risk of contact with Russian forces much greater.
- The weather itself is likely to see an increase in rainfall, wind speed, and snowfall. Each of these will provide additional challenges to the already low morale of Russian forces, but also present problems for kit maintenance. Basic drills such as weapon cleaning must be adjusted to the conditions and the risk of weapon malfunctions increase.
- On 9 November 2022, Education Minister Sergey Kravtsov stated that military training will return to Russian schools, beginning in September 2023. This reprises a Soviet-era program where students had mandatory military training, a program that ended in 1993. This training included contingencies for a chemical or nuclear attack, first aid, and experience handling and firing Kalashnikov rifles.
- Russian officials attempted to revive this training in 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Crimea. It was hoped that the initiative would improve the quality of conscripts. Eight years later, little has changed, and the quality of Russian conscripts remains poor, with low morale and limited training.
- A training program is currently being drafted and will be completed by the end of 2022. It will then undergo an approvals process. The Russian MOD supports this process, stating that no less than 140 hours per academic year should be devoted to this training.
- This training likely intends to prepare students with military skills as they approach the conscription age and to increase the take-up for mobilization and conscription drives. This initiative is also likely to be part of a wider project to instill an ideology of patriotism and trust in public institutions in the Russian population.
As of Monday 14 November, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:
- Personnel – about 81,370 (+510),
- Tanks – 2,848 (+8),
- Armored combat vehicles – 5,748 (+6),
- Artillery systems – 1,839 (+2),
- Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 393 (+0),
- Air defense means – 206 (+0),
- Aircraft – 278 (+0),
- Helicopters – 261 (+0),
- Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4,316 (+21),
- Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
- UAV operational and tactical level – 1,509 (+2),
- Special equipment – 160 (+0),
- Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
- Cruise missiles – 399 (+0)
Pentagon: Russia has likely lost half its tanks in Ukraine, The Hill reported on 9 November. “Russia has likely lost half its tanks, used up most of its precision-guided weapons, and suffered tens of thousands of casualties so far in its war against Ukraine, the Pentagon’s top policy official said Tuesday. Russia President Vladimir Putin “has failed,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Colin Kahl told reporters Tuesday. Russia will emerge from this war weaker than it went in,” he predicted. “They have suffered tens of thousands of casualties in eight months — orders of magnitude more than [the Soviet Union] experienced in Afghanistan in 10 years.”
Kahl added that Russian forces have probably lost half of their main battle tanks in the entire Russian military, and they’ve bogged down more than 80 percent of their land force in Ukraine. The Kremlin has also spent down a majority of their precision-guided munitions in Ukraine, and the sanctions and export controls will make it very difficult for them to rebuild their military to what it looked like before the war, Kahl said. […]”
Russians transport missiles from Belarus to Donbas, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Belarusian Hajun project. “Investigators of the Belarusian Hajun initiative have reported that over the past 2 days, 8 arrivals of Russian Il-76s cargo aircraft occurred in Machulishchy airfield; these were exporting missiles to S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile launchers from Belarus.”
Rolling blackouts to be introduced in Kyiv and eight regions on Nov 14 – Ukrenergo, Ukrinform reports, citing National Energy Company Ukrenergo. “On Monday, November 14, from 00:00 to 24:00, there will be planned shutdowns in the city of Kyiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv, Poltava, and Donetsk regions,” the report reads. No power outages are scheduled for other regions.
As reported by Ukrinform, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that more than UAH 2.5 billion is needed to restore the damaged TPPs and CHPs, and at least UAH 5 billion to repair facilities of electricity distribution system operators.”
The Head of Mykolaiv Oblast Military Administration calls on construction companies to return and rebuild the region, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Vitalii Kim, the head of the Mykolaiv Oblast Military Administration. “Once a more or less safe distance is achieved, the main issue on the agenda will be rebuilding the Mykolaiv seaports, because this is crucial, Kim stated, asking all businesses, everyone, to get ready to come back and rebuild the city of Mykolaiv.
I am inviting builders and construction companies that are available to work. We will plan our budget and rebuild our region, he concluded. Kim added that reconstruction work in the city of Kherson, specifically by road builders, started as soon as the Russian troops were ousted.”
Even bodies mined: State Emergency Service asks civilians not to return to liberated territories without a permit, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. “The State Emergency Service of Ukraine recommends Ukrainians who want to come back to liberated cities to wait for an official permit by local authorities and a terrain check by bomb squads.
There were a lot of cases when Russians mined residential buildings, civil cars and even the bodies of the dead. We strongly recommend waiting until the local authorities issue an official permit after the pyrotechnic units of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine conduct a terrain check.”
Ukraine’s Kherson races to restore power and water after Russian retreat, Reuters reports. “Utility companies in Kherson were working to restore critical infrastructure damaged and mined by fleeing Russian forces, with most homes in the southern Ukrainian city still without electricity and water, regional officials said on Sunday. The governor of the Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said the authorities had decided to maintain a curfew from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and ban people from leaving or entering the city as a security measure.
Russian forces mined all critical infrastructure objects, Yanushevych told Ukrainian TV. We are trying to meet within a few days and (then) open the city, he said, adding that he hoped mobile phone operators could resume service soon. […] The head of Ukrainian state railways said train services to Kherson were expected to resume this week.
Another regional official, however, said that while mine clearance was underway and authorities were working to restore critical services, in humanitarian terms the situation in the city “remains very difficult”. Most houses have no electricity, no water and problems with gas supplies, Yuriy Sobolevskiy, first deputy chairman of the Kherson regional council, told Ukrainian TV.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address on Saturday that before fleeing from Kherson, the occupiers destroyed all the critical infrastructure: communications, water, heat, electricity“.
People are asked not to gather in central Kherson because there are Russian mines almost everywhere, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yaroslav Yanushevych, Head of Kherson Oblast Military Administration. “Bomb disposal work is now underway; Russian forces have placed mines almost everywhere. Please, please do not gather in crowded places. Moreover, we will be clearing mines in the city center tomorrow, 14 November. So please do not go to the central part of the city.”
Ukraine and USA to build a small modular reactor, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US. “Ukraine and the USA are starting a pilot project for building a small modular reactor (SMR) in Ukraine. While the Russian barbarians are conducting an unfair war against us and trying to destroy our civilian infrastructure, Ukraine is not only working on defense and fast maintenance/replacement of destroyed stuff but also already planning to build an innovative energy system. Today, within the framework of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference, John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, and Herman Halushchenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy, declared starting a pilot project for building a small modular reactor (SMR) in Ukraine, the post says.
Partner participants of the pilot project are the international consortium of the Argonne National Laboratory, Ukraine’s nuclear power company Energoatom, the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, the State scientific and technical center for nuclear and radiation safety, as well as private companies, such as Clark Seed, Doosan Enerbility, FuelCell Energy, IHI Corporation, JGC Corporation, NuScale Power, Samsung C&T and Starfire Energy.
Besides, John Kerry has announced the start of a new initiative called Project Phoenix, aimed at accelerating the conversion of coal-fired power stations in Central and Eastern Europe into the ones that run on SMRs.”
UN to vote on a resolution saying Russia must pay reparations, 1news reports. “The UN General Assembly scheduled a vote for next week on a resolution that would call for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine, including by paying reparations. The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would recognise the need to establish “an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury” arising from Russia’s “wrongful acts” against Ukraine. […]
Russia’s veto power in the 15-member Security Council has blocked the UN’s most powerful body from taking any action since President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine on February 24. But there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, which already has adopted four resolutions criticising Russia’s invasion. Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do reflect world opinion and have demonstrated widespread opposition to Russia’s military action. […]”
Zelensky accuses Russian troops of committing war crimes in Kherson, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday accused Russian soldiers of committing war crimes and killing civilians in Kherson, parts of which were retaken by Ukraine’s army last week after Russia pulled out. Investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes. Bodies of dead civilians and servicemen have been found, Zelensky said in his nightly video address.”
Occupiers set up torture chambers in Snihurivka, Mykolaiv Oblast; there are mass graves, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Head of the Snihurivka City Military Administration, Ivan Kukhta. “There are a lot of stories of torture, abuse, a lot of people were taken to Kherson, to Kakhovka. Now we are identifying people who have experienced torture, we have some intelligence on where the mass graves are. There are many stories and they are all the same: destruction, and harassment. The Russians told the residents of Snihurivka: Mykolaiv is about to fall, we will take Odesa, we will take Kyiv…
The torture chamber was in the district police station, then the torture chamber was placed in a restaurant in Snihurivka; we knew about it. People called us and said that the screams of people being tortured were very loud. People who lived there in high-rise buildings had to move in with relatives on other streets, so as not to hear the screams.”
Sledgehammer execution of Russian mercenary who defected to Ukraine shown on video, Reuters reports. “A video purportedly showing the sledgehammer execution of a former Russian mercenary who switched sides to back Ukraine was circulated on Russian social media on Sunday, with pro-Russian bloggers saying it was revenge for his alleged treachery. […]
Reuters was unable to immediately verify the video, which the Grey Zone Telegram channel entitled “The hammer of revenge”. It was also unclear how Nuzhin, who told Ukrainian media in September that he wanted to fight for Ukraine, ended up in the hands of what appear to be Russian forces. […] Asked to comment on the execution video, Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group, said in remarks released by his spokeswoman that the video should be called “A dog receives a dog’s death.”
UkrLandFarming’s base worth $270M was robbed by Russians in the Kherson region, Ukrinform reports, citing Member of Parliament Oleksii Honcharenko. “Russian invaders have stolen about 100,000 tonnes of sunflower seeds and corn, harvesters, tractors, and other equipment owned by Ukraine’s agricultural company UkrLandFarming in the Kherson region. The company’s losses were estimated at $250-270 million.”
New Zealand defense deployments to support Ukraine have been extended until the middle of next year, RNZ reports. “It included continuing an infantry training program based in the UK. With 120 staff due to return at the end of this month, 66 staff would rotate in for a stint lasting until 31 July. Robertson said the training contribution would also be supported by deployments by Australia and Canada. Henare said the 120 who had been deployed were ready to come home.
Robertson said the government would provide $1.85m to the NATO trust fund for military equipment and supplies, and a further $1.85m for the World Food Programme to help address global food insecurity.”
United States preparing new defense aid package for Ukraine – Sullivan, Ukrinform reports. “Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to the US president, has said that the United States is preparing a new package of military support for Ukraine, which will have an amount similar to previous packages.
We remain solid in providing security assistance. You know there is one assistance package that we have just announced, there will be another in the next few weeks – after a similar amount of time and the same amount that we have been sticking to for the past weeks and months,” Sullivan said.
As reported by Ukrinform, the United States on Thursday announced a new military aid package for Ukraine, which included new air defense systems, as well as surface-to-air missiles.”
What countries have given most heavy weapons to Ukraine, Euromaidan Press asks? “NATO countries have transferred 1.4-3.6% of their heavy weapons systems to Ukraine. The US has given the most, but its stocks are the largest, too. The Czech Republic is Ukraine’s most loyal ally in terms of the proportion of items given. While initially hesitating, Germany’s role is greater and greater. But some well-armed NATO countries are not in a hurry to supply anything.
Ukrainian analyst Volodymyr Dacenko has shared his analysis of what countries have transferred the most heavy weapons to Ukraine as it fights against the Russian invasion on Twitter.
NATO transferred 1.4-3.6% of its heavy weapons systems to Ukraine. The highest percentage is for artillery – about 3.6%. The need for artillery remains the most acute because Ukraine has minimal stocks of shells for Soviet artillery systems of 122/152mm caliber. The transition to NATO artillery began in April. And in half a year, Ukraine received about 400 artillery systems of 105/155mm caliber. The US transferred the most systems – about 200 units. But this country also has the largest reserves of artillery among NATO countries.
NATO countries transferred about 1.4% of their armored vehicles to Ukraine. Here, too, the largest supplier is the USA – more than 1,140 units. But in relation to its stockpile of weapons, this is 0.8% of all armoured vehicles that the United States has.
However, among NATO members, not all countries are in a hurry to transfer heavy weapons. For example, the most armed NATO countries include Türkiye, Greece, and Romania.”
- Russia rejects G20 focus on security, Reuters reports. “In a statement issued ahead of the summit, Russia’s foreign ministry said it was “fundamentally important that the G20 concentrate its efforts on real, rather than imaginary, threats. We are convinced that the G20 is called upon to deal with socioeconomic problems. Expanding its agenda into areas of peace and security, which many countries are talking about, is not viable. This would be a direct incursion on the mandate of the United Nations Security Council and will undermine the atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the G20.”
- CNN and Sky News journalists were stripped of their accreditation for reporting from Kherson, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Detector Media and the Ukrainian General Staff. “Recently, some media representatives, ignoring existing prohibitions and warnings, have carried out information activities in the city of Kherson without the consent of the relevant commanders and public relations services of military units and before the completion of stabilisation measures. Such actions are a gross violation of the requirements of Order No. 73 of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine dated 3 March 2022, as well as the relevant instructions of the military command.”
- President’s Office of Ukraine believes that Russia to get down to negotiations after the liberation of Donetsk or Luhansk, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mykhailo Podoliak, Advisor to the Head of the President’s Office of Ukraine. “Politically and mentally Russia is still not mature enough to real negotiations and troops withdrawal. But it will happen. Right after Donetsk or Luhansk liberation. At the same time, the representative of the President’s Office noted that currently, the support for the war in Russia itself “is rapidly falling to the bottom“.
- Ukraine will make the decision on any negotiations with Russia – Blinken, Reuters reports. “Ukraine would decide on the timing and contents of any negotiation framework with Russia, according to a readout of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Phnom Penh on Saturday. Blinken also discussed the United States’ unwavering commitment to assist Ukraine in mitigating the effects of Russia’s attacks on critical infrastructure as winter approaches, including accelerated humanitarian aid.”
- Russia says no agreement yet to extend the Black Sea grain deal, Reuters reports. “Deputy Foreign Minster Sergei Vershinin was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying talks with UN officials in Geneva on Friday had been useful and detailed but the issue of renewing the deal – which expires in one week – had yet to be resolved. He also said there could be no progress unless a Russian state bank that finances the farm sector was reconnected to the international SWIFT bank payments system, from which it has been cut off by Western sanctions.”
- Yellen believes sanctions on Russia could extend beyond Ukraine war’s end, Reuters reports. “US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said some sanctions on Russia could remain in place even after any eventual peace agreement with Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Yellen said that any eventual peace agreement would involve a review of the penalties the United States and its allies have imposed on Russia’s economy, according to the Journal.”
- Putin speaks to Iranian president with emphasis on deepening ties, Kremlin says, Reuters reports. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, with both leaders placing emphasis on deepening political, trade and economic cooperation, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday. It did not say when the phone call took place and made no mention of Iranian arms supplies to Moscow. Russia has stepped up its efforts to build ties with Iran and other non-Western countries since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.”
- On the War
The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Monday 13 November:
Ukraine’s success resulted in large part from the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ (UAF’s) innovative use of the US-provided HIMARS precision rocket system to disrupt Russian supply lines. The HIMARS munitions the US has given Ukraine are not suitable for destroying bridges—their warheads are too small and are not optimized for such strikes. The UAF developed a tactic to work around that limitation by conducting multiple precision strikes across the key Antonivskiy Bridge and the road that ran atop the Kakhovka Dam in such a way as to break the roadways in a line across them, rendering them unusable without actually destroying the bridges’ infrastructure (or badly damaging the dam). The UAF continued to strike the bridges as the Russians sought to repair them, targeting the repair equipment as well as the roadways until the Russians finally gave up. The Russians attempted to construct a pontoon bridge under the Antonivskiy Bridge as a mitigation, but the UAF attacked that effort as well, causing the Russians to abandon it. The Russians were left at the end with barges ferrying supplies, equipment, and reinforcements from the east to the west bank. The UAF attacked the barges and landing areas as well, but the ferry system was in any case insufficient to supply the 20,000-some Russian mechanized troops trying to hold their lodgment on the western bank of the river.
It was clear that the Russians would be unable to defend that lodgment by the time Russian Army General Sergey Surovikin took command of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on October 8. Surovikin signaled his intention to withdraw from western Kherson almost immediately and likely began setting conditions to retreat within a couple of weeks. […]
Putin likely elevated Surovikin and let him withdraw from western Kherson on condition that he take the rest of Donetsk Oblast using Russian forces recouped from western Kherson as well as newly-arriving mobilized servicemen. This observation offered by Andriy Zagorodnyuk, chairman of the Ukrainian Center of Defense Strategies, is the likeliest explanation for the resumption in the intensity of Russian offensive operations first around Bakhmut and then to the southwest around the Vuhledar area that began on October 28. These offensive efforts otherwise make little operational sense. […]
Russian offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast will intensify in the coming weeks as additional mobilized servicemen arrive along with forces withdrawn from western Kherson. Ukrainian forces in the area will find themselves hard-pressed, and Kyiv will very likely have to divert troops to defend against these renewed Russian offensives. The Russians are not likely to make operationally significant gains despite their renewed efforts, although they could conceivably take Bakhmut over time at enormous cost. Russian mobilized servicemen have shown themselves to be inadequately trained, poorly equipped, and very reluctant to fight. They are not arriving in cohesive units but rather are being sent largely as individual or small unit replacements to units that have been fighting without rest for nine months, have suffered devastating losses in men and equipment, and are largely demoralized themselves.
Russian forces operating in Donetsk Oblast include conventional units of the regular Russian Armed Forces, mobilized servicemen, Wagner Private Military Company troops, BARS (Russian volunteer reserve) formations, militia units from the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, soldiers from Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechen units, and volunteer battalions. This bizarre congeries of combat forces will have considerably less effective combat power than would a grouping of regular units of similar size. It is extremely unlikely that Surovikin will be able to forge it into a force able to conduct large-scale offensive mechanized maneuver warfare, particularly since he is not even taking (or being allowed to take) the time to build a coherent strike force before hurling it into the attack. This weird mix of forces will likely make some gains through sheer weight of numbers, but Ukrainian defenders, likely reinforced, will most probably force it to a halt over the next few months not far from its starting points.
Ukraine will also likely recoup combat power from western Kherson and redeploy it to other areas for both defensive and counter-offensive operations. The UAF could conceivably try to chase the Russians across the Dnipro River at various points but is unlikely to do so because the logistics of supporting a Ukrainian lodgment on the eastern bank are very daunting. The UAF is therefore more likely to consolidate its control of the western bank, leave enough force to deter any Russian attempt to cross the river again, and reallocate forces to other areas. The Russian offensive in Donetsk Oblast will likely require the UAF to divert some forces to defend in that area, but the UAF will likely send at least part of the recouped combat power either to reinforce its ongoing counter-offensive in Luhansk Oblast or to open another counter-offensive somewhere else (we will not speculate about where that might be).
Ukrainian forces have continued to make limited gains in Luhansk Oblast and will likely be able to make more gains if they are reinforced by troops from western Kherson. The Russians are also reinforcing their defensive positions in Luhansk Oblast, to be sure, but the UAF has been grinding forward nevertheless, and there is no reason to forecast that the ill-trained, ill-equipped, and low-morale Russian reservists will be able to stop Ukrainian troops, buoyed by their victories, from advancing.
A cessation or prolonged slowing of combat operations over the next few months is therefore very unlikely. The Russians are emphatically not attempting to establish and strengthen defensive positions all along the line but are rather renewing offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast. The Ukrainians will almost certainly continue their counter-offensive operations already underway. Both sides are already fighting in very muddy conditions. They will not likely stop fighting when winter freezes the ground and makes it even more conducive to large-scale mechanized maneuver warfare. Combat is more likely to intensify than to slacken as temperatures drop.
Any attempt at a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities at this time would overwhelmingly favor Russia. Putin should desire such a ceasefire in his own interest. He should recognize that he needs to give his forces time to recover and allow the reservists flowing into the theater time to integrate into their units, train up, and prepare for serious combat. He should want to stop the Ukrainians from capitalizing on the emotional lift of their recent victories. The fact that Putin continues to whip his generals to offensives in these circumstances is thus a grave error from a military perspective. It likely results from whatever psychological factors led Putin to order the invasion in the first place but also increasingly from Putin’s need to show his toughness to the hardline faction led, at least in public, by Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. Putin is unlikely to be willing to seek a ceasefire, therefore, unless it is accompanied by tremendous Ukrainian or international concessions.
Napoleon famously quipped: Never interrupt your enemy whilst he is in the midst of making a mistake. That aphorism has never been truer—Ukraine and its backers should take advantage of Putin’s error by continuing to press the counter-offensive in circumstances far more favorable to Kyiv than to Moscow.
Ukraine has by no means liberated the minimum territory essential to its future security and economic survival even with the victory in western Kherson, finally. The city of Melitopol and surrounding areas, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, land on the east bank of the lower Dnipro River, and territory in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts are all vital terrain for Ukraine, as ISW has previously argued. Discussions about the future of Crimea and other Ukrainian lands illegally occupied by Russia after 2014 are premature. Ukraine must liberate tens of thousands of square kilometers short of those areas if it is to be able to defend itself against future Russian attacks and reestablish a functional economy.
Ukrainians and the West must bend every effort to enabling the liberation of those lands as rapidly as possible before worrying about what lies beyond them. Momentum is an important factor in war. Ukraine has it now. Kyiv and its partners must make the most of it.
Key inflections in ongoing military operations on November 13:
- The Russian military grouping stationed in Belarus continues to generate social tensions among Belarusians.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove.
- Ukrainian forces continued to consolidate control over the right bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian forces struck a Russian military base in Chaplynka, Kherson Oblast, 50km south of Beryslav on the eastern bank of the Dnipro.
- Russian forces continued to conduct offensive operations in the directions of Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Vuhledar. […]
- Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the demobilization of mobilized students in Russian-occupied Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, likely as part of an ongoing effort to integrate proxy forces into the Russian Armed Forces.
- Russian forces and occupation officials are forcibly mobilizing men in Russian-occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and forcing them to construct trenches and defensive fortifications in the city.
- Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces are withdrawing from the left bank of the Dnipro River and concentrating forces and equipment in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed an amendment to a draft law that would allow Russian officials to revoke Russian citizenship for disseminating “false” information about the Russian military, participating in extremist or undesirable organizations, or calling for violations of Russian “territorial integrity.“
Russia’s war hawks step up criticism of the military over Kherson’s withdrawal, The New York Times reports. “Even Vladimir Putin and the Russian government were targeted, but there was no evidence that the volume of blame would be a real liability. Russia’s pro-war activists delivered over the weekend their most cutting criticism of the military’s performance in Ukraine to date, following the humiliating withdrawal of Russian troops from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. By Sunday, the drumbeat of denunciations broke the taboo against singling out President Vladimir V. Putin himself and Russia’s very system of government.
Aleksandr Dugin — the right-wing ideologue whose concept of a “Russian World” helped inspire the war — wrote online that the main job of an autocratic leader is to protect the people and the lands under his control. “The authorities in Russia cannot surrender anything else,” Mr. Dugin wrote. “The limit has been reached.” […]
The Communist Party faction in the Duma, or Russian Parliament, which rarely challenges the Kremlin, proposed demanding an explanation from the Ministry of Defense for ordering the withdrawal from Kherson. Mr. Putin’s governing United Russia faction torpedoed that proposal.
Some analysts suggested that the flow of criticism indicated that Mr. Putin had failed to distance himself from the repeated setbacks in the war but that the volume had yet to constitute a real liability.
Matters are definitely getting worse for Putin, but it is hard to know the extent because he has crossed so many lines and has still been able to keep control of his inner circle and those who matter, said Maxim Trudolyubov, a political analyst and former newspaper editor now living in exile. So far they have been successful in doing damage control.
Top Russian officials and the state news media have taken the line that the withdrawal from Kherson was a temporary, tactical measure and that Russia’s annexation of the territory — a move condemned as illegal by Ukraine and the West — still holds.
Some of the most pointed criticism of the military comes from social media accounts linked to the Wagner Group, a mercenary army whose founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been critical of the generals. So the military might be prone to dismiss the criticism as trying to make them look bad. Wagner, in general, advocates greater violence as the answer to any setbacks. […]
The Dugin post, which appeared on the website of the Tsargrad TV network, owned by a right-wing tycoon who endorses the restoration of a czar, suggested that the Kremlin was failing because it was relying on public relations rather than a real commitment to the “Russian idea.” The post did not name Mr. Putin directly, but made reference to a study of myths and religions that included the African tale of Kings of the Rain, slain for failing to make it rain amid a drought. […]
Oleg Pakholkov, the editor in chief of Bloknot, a southern regional outlet, noted that the defenders in Stalingrad had the choice to fall back across the Volga River but did not so they could break Russian forces and grind him down and to prove to the world that we can. The surrender of Kherson says the opposite, he wrote. So soon those who took Kherson will come to other places. It looks like we have nothing with which to stop them.
A few commentators wondered aloud why Russia did not use its nuclear arsenal, and why the Russian military was not bombing the routes in western Ukraine used to import military supplies from the United States and Europe. Although it is a crime to question the war or the military directly, Mr. Putin thus far has been tolerant of zealots on the right who have criticized Russia as not fighting hard enough.
Still, even those charged with selling the official line — that the withdrawal was merely a maneuver and that Russia would be back — had trouble explaining Kherson. Vladimir Solovyov, one of the chief Kremlin cheerleaders on state television, swung between anger and frustration on his several talk shows. One minute he was blaming the West for arming Ukraine, and the next railing against the incompetence and cowardice of some Russians who refused to fight. […]
Some critics took the opportunity to raise questions about a system that vested so much authority in one man. His decisions are not up for discussion, an editorial in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper, said of Mr. Putin. Therefore, he himself cannot make mistakes because there is no mechanism to correct them. A leader who admits a mistake lowers his status, which puts his qualities into doubt. Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s owner and editor, Konstantin Remchukov, is a member of the Russian establishment. […]”
Russia faces a medicine shortage and planned operations are being postponed due to sanctions – Ukrainian intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “Russia’s Ministry of Health has reportedly ordered every region to create an emergency four-month reserve stock of medication. [DIU] offered a number of reasons why the order has been issued:
- the effect of international sanctions on the Russian economy, as a result of which the pharmaceutical industry is not able to produce sufficient quantities of medicine;
- the real risk of [medical] supplies from abroad coming to a complete halt;
- an increase in the intensity of combat action, causing a rise in the number of injured soldiers.
According to [DIU], Russian surgeons privately admit that medicine stocks are plummeting. This is having a knock-on effect on surgery – planned operations are being postponed indefinitely – and the medical sector in general. In addition, medical stocks are not being replenished, which is driving up prices for medicine.”
Winter will be a major factor in the Ukraine war, officials say, The New York Times reports. “Senior Biden administration officials say Russia’s military operations in Ukraine will remain stalled well into next year, as recent Ukrainian advances upset Moscow’s hopes to seize more territory in areas that President Vladimir V. Putin has tried to portray as historically part of Russia. While the officials say that Moscow is likely to continue to attack Ukrainian troops, bases, infrastructure and the electrical grid, the coming winter is expected to bring a slowdown in military advances on both sides. […]
The winter pause could last as long as six months. Rain and soft ground in late November will slow the movements of both militaries. Then, as temperatures fall and the ground freezes, it will be easier for tanks and trucks to move. But the possibility of heavy snows and even colder weather could make it difficult for the poorly equipped Russian army to mount any new offensive.
You’re already seeing the sloppy weather in Ukraine slow things down a little bit, Colin H. Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, told reporters this past week. It’s getting really muddy, which makes it hard to do large-scale offensives.
With a weather-enforced pause in major military movements, the war will enter a new phase. Russia will likely intensify its attacks on infrastructure to terrorize Ukrainians, US officials said. And Ukraine could step up a covert campaign designed to show that it can strike back even on Russian soil, according to analysts. […]
Biden administration officials say that it is imperative to use the winter slowdown to rebuild Ukraine’s defensive and offensive weapons supply. On Thursday, the Pentagon announced another $400 million in weapons, including mobile short-range Avenger air defense vehicles that fire Stinger missiles.
But officials in Kyiv say they will need more air defense systems, beyond the SA-11s and S-300s Ukraine’s military already has, which have kept Russian pilots largely out of Ukrainian airspace, and more tanks and even fighter jets to retake areas that Mr. Putin has illegally annexed over the past nine months of war. During the looming pause, both sides will also retrain troops and gear up for a renewed push in February, military analysts said. […]
The Kremlin would certainly like to see a cease-fire put into place in the coming months to replenish its military and strengthen its position on the ground, two Russia military analysts wrote in a Royal United Services Institute analysis last week. The analysts, Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, said the Russian government was encouraging Ukraine’s international partners to pressure the government in Kyiv into negotiating a truce. […]
And several military analysts say it is not in Ukraine’s interests to let up this winter, particularly as Russia continues targeting civilian infrastructure and the electrical grid. Ukrainian officials say they believe Russia is also likely to attack the country’s water supply systems. But Biden administration officials said there could be a limit to how long Russia can continue its campaign to destroy infrastructure as its supplies of long-range precision-guided missiles dwindle. […]
With the equipment problems and an infusion of newly drafted soldiers who will need to be trained, Russia is most likely hoping to use a winter pause to rebuild, American officials said.
For Ukraine, winter conditions will make the logistics for conventional operations to reclaim territory more difficult, while the lack of vegetation and other cover will make advances with limited armor risky, the Royal Institute analysts wrote. For Russia, with demoralized forces and poorly prepared positions, the winter is likely to see a further slump in morale and significant casualties from exposure injuries.
Hans Petter Midttun’s assessment
The Russian-instigated war in Europe has lasted for nearly 9 years. It has already lasted nearly as long as both World War 1 and 2 combined. The war has triggered a nuclear stand-off and the biggest refugee crisis since WW2. More than 7,8 million have sought shelter outside Ukraine while as many as 17,7 million are internally displaced. Ukrainians are being forcibly displaced. Filtration and concentration camps – an echo of a horrific past – have been set up. The war has potentially killed 150-200,000 Ukrainians and 80,000 Russians (soldiers).
Like the two world wars, this has also turned into a war with global repercussions. Hunger and poverty have increased. The international finance market is weakened. Maritime trade and the freedom of navigation are suffering. The international security architecture that is the basis for our security, stability, and well-being is being challenged. This war is dividing the world.
Worse still, the divide is increasing the longer Russia is allowed to wage war against Ukraine and the West. Not because of Russian “military success”, but because the US and NATO remain deterred by Russia despite its many defeats and systematic problems.
Two blocks are clearly emerging over the war in Ukraine.
Russia is being supported militarily by Syria, Iran, and North Korea, but indirectly by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). They have abstained from joining the Western sanctions and condemnation of the Russian aggressions. Its invasion of Ukraine has resulted in growing tensions between China and the West.
In his speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club on 27 October, President Putin tried to rally non-Western countries to join it in its fight against the “evil empire”. The message is: Russia is fighting Western global dominance. Join us, or suffer the consequences of its efforts to colonize and enslave nations. He portrayed the ongoing war in Ukraine as evidence of the Western quest for global dominance. He mirrored Russian aggressions and atrocities upon the US and Europe.
Ukraine, however, is receiving defense aid from the US-led Defense Contact Group tomorrow of more than 50 countries. Both NATO, the EU, and their member states are committed to the support of Ukraine with non-military means.
Additionally, the great majority of the UN General Assembly has remained steadfast in its condemnation of the Russian Federation.
- The General Assembly resolution from March 2 demanding an immediate Russian cease-fire, withdrawal of all its troops, and protection for all civilians was supported by 141 (5 opposed and 35 abstentions).
- The resolution from March 24 blaming Russia for Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis and urging an immediate cease-fire and protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools, and hospitals critical to their survival, was supported by 140 (5 opposed and 38 abstentions).
- On April 7, 93 countries supported the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council over allegations that Russian soldiers in Ukraine were engaged in human rights violations. 24 opposed and 58 abstained.
- On October 12, the assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions and demand an immediate reversal. 143 in favor, 5 against, and 35 abstentions.
While the West has been seeking to contain Russia and reduce its ability to wage war, Russia is not isolated. On the contrary, the world finds itself increasingly divided. According to University of Cambridge researchers, global public attitudes toward international politics are merging into two opposing blocks: liberal democracies versus authoritarianism – a long-lasting process accelerated by the war in Ukraine.
“Russia’s war has led people in the West to feel ever greater allegiance to both the US and NATO and brought wealthier democracies in Latin America and Eastern Europe towards a pro-American stance.
However, the report also identifies a zone of illiberal and undemocratic societies, stretching from East Asia through the Middle East and out towards West Africa, characterized by the exact opposite trend: populations that have steadily increased support for China, Russia, or both, in recent years.
Among the 1.2 billion people who inhabit the world’s liberal democracies, three-quarters (75%) now hold a negative view of China, and 87% a negative view of Russia, according to the report, published today by the University’s Centre for the Future of Democracy (CFD).
Yet among the 6.3 billion who live in the world’s remaining 136 countries, the opposite is the case – with 70% of people feeling positively towards China and 66% towards Russia.”
The 9 year-long war has become a war of attrition. It has come down to who has the biggest resilience and resolve. Who is willing to do what it takes to end the war on its terms? Who is willing to go the extra mile and is willing to take additional risks? Not least, who are willing to escalate and take additional costs to ensure victory?
One of the first things I remember learning at the Naval Academy decades ago was that both “will and ability” are crucial for the conduct of military operations. While the US and NATO have superior capabilities, Russia’s will to do what it takes is by far greater.
While Russian public support for the war is dwindling, the voice of the pro-war fraction is becoming increasingly louder. For each military setback, they advocate greater violence as a response. This has been reflected on the battlefield.
Unfortunately, the pro-war fraction has President Putin’s attention. The Times alleges that:
“By the beginning of 2020, the only men in Putin’s inner circle were his oldest, most trusted and – tragically for Russia and Ukraine – most hawkish and paranoid allies. The invasion of 2022 was, in the minds of the Soviet-era fantasists who planned and pushed it, first and foremost a pre-emptive strike to save Russia from a looming strategic threat from the West.
Ukraine was merely the battlefield where the two former superpowers’ interests came into direct confrontation – the location for what Putin’s closest circle imagined was a millennial battle between the two sides. “Ukraine does not exist,” Viktor Zolotov, Putin’s former bodyguard who now heads the powerful Russian National Guard, told Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of the Echo Moskvy radio station. It is the border of America and Russia.”
Kremlin is still being asked to do what it has been doing since 2014: Escalate. Do what it takes to be victorious.
Their advice will continue unrelenting until they realize that the war cannot be won. They are not there today and the ones capable of convincing them to remain reluctant to do what is needed. In the meantime, the global repercussions increases in scale and scope.