Russo Ukrainian War. Day 272: NATO Parliamentary Assembly unanimously recognizes Russia as terrorist state

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

NATO Parliamentary Assembly unanimously recognizes Russia as a terrorist state. Russians using Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a military base. Thousands have gone through Russian torture chambers in the Kherson Oblast.

Daily overview — Summary report, November 22

Euromaidan, Crimea occupation, war in Donbas: How it all happened

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, November 22, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW.

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Russian occupiers continue their armed aggression against our country, they do not stop striking industrial facilities. They are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, they are concentrating their efforts on restraining the actions of units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, they are carrying out engineering equipment of the defence line, they are continuing to conduct offensive actions in certain directions, and they are conducting aerial reconnaissance.

Over the past day, units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine repelled attacks by the occupiers in the areas of settlements: Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk oblast and Spirne, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Kamianka, Opytne, Vesele, Pervomaiske, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk oblast.

Russian forces do not stop shelling the positions of our troops and settlements near the contact line. The fire continues to damage critical infrastructure and civilian homes.

Over the past day, Russian forces launched 9 airstrikes, 7 missile strikes and launched more than 50 MLRS attacks from rocket salvo systems. Objects of civil infrastructure in the settlements of Komyshuvakha and Novotroitske of the Zaporizhzhia region were damaged.

In the Volyn, Polissya, Siverskyi and Slobozhanskyi directions, the situation has not changed significantly, and no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups have been detected so far.

[In the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions, Russian forces continue to hold separate units of his troops.]

The Republic of Belarus continues to support the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, providing it with infrastructure, territory and airspace. The threat of Russian forces launching missiles and airstrikes from the territory and airspace of the Republic of Belarus remains.

  • In the Siverskyi direction, in the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions, Russian forces continue to perform the task of covering the Russian-Ukrainian border, conducting demonstrations and provocative actions. Fired the positions of our units in the area of ​​Rozhkovychi settlement of Sumy oblast.
Kharkiv Battle Map. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • On the Kupyansk and Lyman directions, Russian forces are conducting defence, firing from tanks, mortars and artillery. In particular, in the areas of Orlyanske and Lozova settlements of the Kharkiv oblast; Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Ploshchanka, Makiivka in the Luhansk oblast and Terny in the Donetsk oblast.
Donetsk Battle Map. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions, Russian forces are concentrating their efforts on conducting offensive operations. It carried out tank and artillery shelling of various types of objects in the areas of seventeen settlements. Among them are Andriivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Mayorsk, Opytne, Yakovlivka, Vesele and Vodyane.
  • In the Novopavlivka and Zaporizhzhia directions, Russian forces are defending on captured lines. Fired the positions of the Defense Forces from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS. Areas of twenty-one settlements were affected by enemy artillery fire, including Bohoyavlenka, Vremivka, Vuhledar, Zolota Nyva of Donetsk region, as well as Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Malynivka, Myrne of Zaporizhzhia oblast.
Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. November 21, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Kryvyi Rih and Kherson directions, Russian forces are improving the fortification equipment and logistical support of the advanced units leading the defence and do not stop artillery shelling of the positions of our troops and settlements on the right bank of the Dnipro River. The Russian occupiers’ fire from artillery and MLRS in the areas of Antonivka, Zelenivka, Komysany and Muzikyvka settlements of the Kherson oblast.

In violation of international humanitarian law, the laws and customs of warfare, the Russian occupying forces, in particular, in the settlement of Strilkove, Henichesky district, Kherson oblast, on the territory of a recreation centre, set up a torture chamber where Ukrainian citizens are held and subjected to torture.

[On the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, measures of covert mobilization to the ranks of the Russian occupying forces are ongoing. In particular, in the city of Simferopol, on November 19 of this year, a meeting was held with the participation of the so-called heads of law enforcement agencies with representatives of the city administration and heads of village councils. The main issue of this meeting was the non-fulfilment of the determined quantitative indicators of mobilization.]

[In order to solve the mentioned problem, from November 21, 2022, representatives of the so-called military commissariats and the police in the mentioned temporarily occupied territory started handing out summonses for signature.]

During the past day, Ukrainian aviation struck the area where Russian personnel, weapons and military equipment are concentrated.

Over the past 24 hours, units of missile forces and artillery of the Defence Forces of Ukraine have struck a control post, a warehouse of fuel and lubricants, an area for the concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment, and a radio-electronic warfare station of the Russian occupiers.“

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Military operation on Kinburn spit continues in silent mode, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Natalia Humeniuk, Spokeswoman for the Operational Command South. “A military operation on the Kinburn spit of the Mykolaiv Oblast continues in silent mode, but a storm at sea contributes to the liberation of this territory. Russian forces there pull up forces from the temporarily occupied territory, so they can afford to restore their reserves even after we inflict damage…

Nevertheless, we continue our combat work. As soon as the results are available, we will report on it. For now, this military operation is in silent mode.”

Humeniuk calls bad weather on the Kinburn spit an “advantage” for Ukraine. According to the representative of the Operational Command South, control over the spit will secure the grain corridor from the Port of Mykolaiv.”

Ukraine’s Armed Forces liberate territories on Svatove-Kreminna front step by step, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Serhii Haidai, the Head of Luhansk Oblast Military Administration. “There (on the Svatove-Kreminna front – ed.) our defenders are liberating the territories step by step.”

They are conducting mostly defensive actions on the Lysychansk front, near Bilohorivka. Russian forces deployed huge forces there in order to capture the village of Bilohorivka. They consider it both as a bridgehead [for an attack – ed.] and as a way to protect themselves, so that Lysychansk does not end up half encircled, said the Head of Luhansk Oblast Military Administration.”

Russian military base near Melitopol destroyed, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ivan Fedorov, Mayor of Melitopol. “A military base of the Russian occupiers in the temporarily occupied village of Vesele in Melitopol district has been destroyed.[…] Locals are reporting massive destruction.”

Ukrainian Ministry of Defence reveals “hottest spot” on the front, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Donetsk Oblast is the most brutal area on the frontline at the moment: the Russian forces have somewhat decreased their assault activity due to bad weather, but have not reduced the intensity of attacks.

Now, due to the weather, the number [of assault attempts – ed.] has slightly decreased, but at the same time the number of attacks has not decreased: there are almost 400 attacks per day [according to the latest data – ed.] along the entire eastern front.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1594792341680050177

Border guards describe how Belarusian electronic warfare hunts for Ukrainian drones, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Demchenko, spokesperson for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. “The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine notes that electronic warfare (EW) units are actively working on the other side of the border [with Belarus], with the primary aim of preventing surveillance by the Armed Forces of Ukraine along the state border.

In particular, their EW units are trying to suppress the work of our drones, and often intercept the UAV surveillance that we use. […] Belarus is a satellite state of the Russian Federation and provides its territory, training grounds, and a base for units of the Russian Armed Forces. Where does the constant threat of missile and air strikes come from, in particular with attack UAVs? In the meantime, it is surprising how they try to shift the responsibility for increasing tensions to Ukraine.”

Let’s not create a high expectations trap as to where Ukraine would advance soon, Bielieskov says

Russia deploys Iskander and S-400 systems in Belarus, Ukrinform reports, citing  Yurii Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Command of the Ukrainian Air Force. “They have deployed Iskanders and S-400s on Belarusian territory, allegedly for protection of the airspace of Belarus, he said. Ihnat noted that Russia now does not need S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to protect the airspace, so they are being moved from Belarus to Donbas.

They use them as ballistic missiles – that is, they fly on a ballistic trajectory for up to 150 kilometres. They are the manufacturers of these missiles, so they have a lot of them. They can afford to ‘dispose’ of them in this way, because they have a large range of air defence systems, so they don’t really need S-300s. They needed to transfer these missiles to Donbas to strike not only the infrastructure of the front-line cities but also the positions of our troops. We don’t sit and watch – the Armed Forces are doing everything to destroy them as efficiently as possible, Ihnat said”.

Russia launches more than 4,700 missiles at Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Zeleskyy.Russia has used more than 4,700 missiles in 270 days of the full-scale war. Hundreds of our cities are simply burned. Thousands of people died. Hundreds of thousands were forcibly deported to Russia. Millions left Ukraine for other countries fleeing war.

At least 3,500 missiles have been fired by the Russian Federation at Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale military invasion, said Ruslan Strilets, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, at the beginning of September.

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

  • On 18 November 2022, multiple Russian and Ukrainian media outlets reported that an attack took place at an oil terminal in Novorssiysk port on Russia’s Black Sea coast. A major base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) is close to the oil terminal.
  • The BSF relocated many of its submarine operations to Novorssiysk after its Sevastopol base in occupied Crimea was struck by Ukraine over the summer. Russian commanders will likely be concerned about threats to the Novorssiysk-based amphibious landing ship flotilla. These vessels are relatively vulnerable without escorts and have assumed a more important role in supplying Russian forces in Ukraine since the Kerch Bridge was damaged in October.
  • Full details of this incident are yet to emerge. However, any demonstration of a Ukrainian capability to threaten Novorssiysk would highly likely represent a further strategic challenge for the BSF. It would also further undermine Russia’s already reduced maritime influence in the Black Sea.
  • Over the last seven days, intense artillery exchanges have continued around the Svatove sector in Luhansk Oblast in north-eastern Ukraine. As on other parts of the front, Russian forces continue to prioritise constructing defensive positions, almost certainly partially manned by poorly trained mobilised reservists.
  • With Russia’s south-western front line now more readily defendable along the east bank of the Dnipro River, the Svatove sector is likely now a more vulnerable operational flank of the Russian force.
  • As a significant population centre within Luhansk Oblast, Russian leaders will highly likely see retaining control of Svatove as a political priority. However, commanders are likely struggling with the military realities of maintaining a credible defence, while also attempting to resource offensive operations further south in Donetsk. Both Russian defensive and offensive capability continues to be hampered by severe shortages of munitions and skilled personnel.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Tuesday 22 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 85000 (+400),
  • Tanks – 2895 (+3),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5827 (+5),
  • Artillery systems – 1882 (+12),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 395 (+2),
  • Air defence means – 209 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 278 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 261 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4393 (+15),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1537 (+0),
  • Special equipment – 161 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 480 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Bakhmut and Lyman directions.

https://twitter.com/MFA_Ukraine/status/1595004284961259521

Humanitarian 

Blackouts could be applied at least until late March – energy official, Ukrinform reports, citing Serhiy Kovalenko, CEO at Yasno, a Ukrainian power provider. “Today we again have various outages: we started with a stabilization schedule, but in the afternoon we received new restrictions from Ukrenergo and we are also shutting power down urgently. Max restrictions for today are 391 MW, and more than 953,000 customers have been disconnected. Despite the bad weather, energy companies are now trying their best to complete the restoration before even greater cold. And although there have been fewer power outages now, I’d like everyone to understand: most likely, Ukrainians will have to live in the mode of power outages at least until the end of March, Kovalenko wrote.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1594858199298891776

Ukraine plans evacuations in 2 stricken cities as temperatures plunge, The New York Times reports. “The government is making plans to evacuate residents who want to leave from Kherson and Mykolaiv, where fighting has badly damaged the infrastructure. The Ukrainian government is preparing to help evacuate residents from two cities where shattered electricity and heating infrastructure has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis when winter sets in, officials said over the weekend. […]

With Russia’s unrelenting bombardment of critical infrastructure, officials across the country are worried about how to help Ukrainians fare in winter when obtaining even the most basic necessities may be a struggle. But in Kherson, where Ukrainian soldiers found a crippled city when they pushed the Russian occupiers out just over a week ago, the authorities say that for many residents, the only solution may be to leave.

With supplies of running water, heat and electricity precarious in the newly liberated city, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said that in the next few days the government would begin helping people who wish to leave. But she emphasized that residents will make their own decisions on whether to stay. Currently, we are not talking about forced evacuation, she said. […]

In the days since Russian forces retreated from Kherson and Ukrainian forces swept into the city, the government has scrambled to assess the humanitarian situation and rebuild vital infrastructure, working tirelessly to restore basic services. As temperatures begin to plunge, the first traces of power have reappeared in the city in recent days.

Speaking on Saturday in the port city of Mykolaiv, about 40 miles to the northwest of Kherson, Ms. Vereshchuk said the government would also help residents there evacuate. Mykolaiv is a frequent target of Russian missile strikes, and residents of both cities have asked to be moved to safer areas, she said. Many of those who remain are older or infirm. […]

Across the Zaporizhzhia region, there has been significant damage to power and gas infrastructure, and by Sunday, tens of thousands of people across dozens of communities were without electricity or heat, the regional military administration said in a statement.

Major concerns about the country’s power grid, though, extend far beyond the southern and eastern parts of the country where the fighting has been focused, with Russian forces having carried out widespread missile strikes on infrastructure across Ukraine since mid-October.

Oleksandr Kharchenko, director of the Energy Industry Research Center in Ukraine, said that a series of strikes last week had left the national power grid badly damaged, and that the authorities had not yet had time to restore it to the level at which the country would be able to avoid widespread blackouts if there were further attacks. It’s hard on morale when you work, recover it, and they hit it again and again, he said at a news briefing on Sunday. However, the recovery works continue.

The situation is improving by the hour, Mr. Kharchenko said. But, he said, the country needs 10 to 12 days to restore stability of the grid so that we could look more confidently at the next attacks.

With no end of the fighting in sight and temperatures dropping, the government has urged Ukrainians outside the country not to return yet. […] And on Saturday, the head of Ukraine’s biggest private energy firm, DTEK, said that others should consider leaving the country to reduce the demand on the power network. If they can find an alternative place to stay for another three or four months, Maxim Timchenko, the DTEK chief executive, told the BBC, it will be very helpful to the system.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1594790581334581261

UN releases updates on civilian casualties in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing  The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “From 24 February 2022, when the Russian Federation’s armed attack against Ukraine started, to 20 November 2022, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 16,784 civilian casualties in the country,” the report reads. This included: a total of 6,595 killed and 10,189 injured civilians, including children both on Ukrainian government-controlled territory and on territory controlled by Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.

It is noted that most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes.

OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration. This concerns, for example, Mariupol (Donetsk region), Izium (Kharkiv region), Lysychansk, Popasna, and Sievierodonetsk (Luhansk region), where there are allegations of numerous civilian casualties, the report says.”

Environment

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1594797927884529672

Nuclear plants need protection from Russian sabotage, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged NATO members on Monday to guarantee the protection of Ukraine’s nuclear plants from Russian sabotage, a day after the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant was rocked by heavy shelling. All our nations are interested in not having any dangerous incidents at our nuclear facilities, Zelensky said in a video address to NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid. We all need guaranteed protection from Russian sabotage at nuclear facilities, he added.

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was shelled on Saturday and Sunday, raising concern about the potential for a serious accident just 500 km (300 miles) from Chornobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. […] The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, said such attacks risked a major disaster.”

Russians using ZNPP as a military base – Kotin, Ukrinform reports. “Russian invaders use the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as a military base. Petro Kotin, president of Ukraine’s National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom, told this to The Economist […]. There are now approximately 500 Russian troops on site, their armoured vehicles cached in the turbine halls and in underground bunkers designed to shelter staff in case of a nuclear accident, according to The Economist journalists. More are garrisoned in the occupied nearby town of Enerhodar.

The Russians use the plant like a military base. They understand that nobody from Ukraine will shell it, nobody will attack the plant directly. This is a safe place for keeping their military vehicles and their staff, Kotin was quoted as saying by the media outlet.”

Ukrainian nuclear plant shelled – Here’s what we know, Reuters reports. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control, was rocked by shelling on Sunday, drawing condemnation from the U.N. nuclear watchdog which said such attacks risked a major disaster. Repeated shelling of the plant in southern Ukraine has raised concern about the potential for a grave accident just 500 km (300 miles) from the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster. […]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the plant came under the most intense shelling of recent months on Saturday, shortly after 6 p.m. local time, and on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. There were more than a dozen blasts within 40 minutes, according to the IAEA.

IAEA experts reported damage in several places, including a radioactive waste and storage building, cooling pond sprinkler systems, an electrical cable to one of the reactors, condensate storage tanks, and to a bridge between another reactor and its auxiliary buildings. External power supplies were not affected and radiation levels at the plant remained normal, the IAEA said.

The biggest risk is from overheating nuclear fuel, which could happen if the power that drives the cooling systems was cut. Shelling has repeatedly cut power lines. Besides the reactors, there is also a dry spent fuel storage facility at the site for used nuclear fuel assemblies, and spent fuel pools at each reactor site that are used to cool down the used nuclear fuel.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said it was a “close call”. We were fortunate that a potentially serious nuclear incident did not happen, Grossi said. Next time, we may not be so lucky. We must do everything in our power to make sure there is no next time. Grossi wants a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant.

Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the shelling came dangerously close to them. We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives, Grossi said.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for shelling the Russian-controlled plant. Reuters was unable to independently verify who was telling the truth. […] Ukraine’s nuclear energy firm Energoatom said the Russian military shelled the plant. It said there had been at least 12 hits on the plant on Sunday.

The nature of the damaged equipment at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows that the attackers aimed at, and disabled, precisely the infrastructure that was necessary for the start-up of reactors 5 and 6, Energoatom said. The Rashysty [a portmanteau of Russian and fascists] once again engaged in nuclear blackmail and thus endanger the whole world with their actions! it said.”

Legal 

Russians intensify terror in Melitopol after defeats on the front, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ivan Fedorov, mayor of Melitopol. “The Russian occupiers have only intensified the terror on the residents of the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, especially Melitopol, due to the lack of victories at the front.”

Ukraine prosecutor says four suspected Russian torture sites found in Kherson, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian police and prosecutors have identified four places in Kherson where they suspect Russian forces tortured people before abandoning the city, the prosecutor general’s office said on Monday. In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, it said the Russian forces had set up “pseudo-law enforcement agencies” in detention centres and a police building in the southern Ukrainian city.

The police, prosecutors and experts based their findings on documents signed by the Russian forces that occupied Kherson soon after invading Ukraine in February until pulling out this month, the statement said.

They also discovered objects in the buildings including parts of rubber batons, a wooden bat, handcuffs and an incandescent lamp, and bullets were found in walls, it said. Various methods of torture, physical and psychological violence were applied to people in cells and basements, the prosecutor’s office said.”

Thousands have gone through Russian torture chambers in Kherson region – ombudsperson, Ukrinform reports, citing Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights. “Regarding the number of people who have passed through them (torture chambers – ed.), it’s thousands. You know, I visited all the liberated territories… but the scale of violations of international humanitarian law that I saw there (in Kherson region — ed.) horrified even me. Here, the Russian Federation has already reached the point where they separately made a cell for children, where they were beaten in the same way, Lubinets said.”

Polish Prosecutor’s Office rejects the participation of Ukrainians in investigating missile explosion, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Polish Prosecutor’s Office is not going to agree on engaging the Ukrainian side in the investigation of a missile’s explosion in the village of Przewodow where two men were killed on November 15.

There is no such legal possibility, and this would contradict a procedure, let alone the interests of the investigation. Within its framework, all possible versions are being considered, including the one where an anti-aircraft missile landed from Ukraine, said the outlet’s sources that are close to the investigation.”

Support 

Germany to help Ukraine restore energy infrastructure – German Economy Minister 

Ukrainian authorities are calling for increased arms supplies from the West to bring the end of the war closer, Ukrinform reports. “We still need 150 to 200 tanks, about 300 armoured vehicles, a hundred artillery systems, 50-70 multiple rocket launcher systems, including the formidable American HIMARS, of which Ukraine already has several units, as well as 10 to 15 anti-aircraft defence systems to close the sky,” Podoliak explained.

Podoliak also mentioned US ATACMS missiles, which have a range of 300 kilometres (185 miles). The range of the weapons currently available to Ukraine barely exceeds 80 kilometres.

Such missiles would allow Ukrainian forces to destroy large Russian military depots located deep in the occupied areas, which are currently inaccessible. At the same time, Ukraine has no need to attack military targets inside Russia, Podoliak added.

In his words, the war will end when Ukraine regains control of its borders and when Russia is afraid of Ukraine”.

US Army accelerating weapons acquisition process after shipments to Ukraine – media, Ukrinform reports, citing Reuters. “The US Army is accelerating its weapons acquisition process to speed through a backlog of contracts needed to replenish US stocks of weapons depleted by arms shipments to Ukraine.

According to Pentagon contracting data, $2.6 billion worth of contracts have been concluded to replace weapons sent to Ukraine. It is noted that the United States awarded about $1 billion in contracts to weapons makers since the second half of October, mostly for ammunition and rockets, suggesting the acceleration of this process.”

Britain sends Ukraine advanced laser-guided Brimstone 2 missiles, Ukrinform reports, citing The Telegraph. “The British Royal Air Force is sending Ukraine advanced laser-guided Brimstone 2 missiles with double the range of the previous design, which was earlier delivered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

According to the report, the missiles, which each cost about £175,000, can hit targets by tracking a laser fired by troops, aircraft or vehicles, or select its own target from a pre-programmed list through the use of radar.”

France gives Ukraine two batteries of Crotale air defence systems, two MLRS, Ukrinform reports, citing French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said this in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche. “Ukraine has recently received another batch of military aid from France, including two batteries of Crotale air defence systems and two multiple rocket launchers.”

Spain to open a training centre for Ukrainian troops this month, Ukrinform reports. “A training centre for Ukrainian troops will start operating in Spain at the end of November. Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez made a corresponding announcement at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid on Monday, Reuters reports. The centre will open in Toledo, Sanchez added.”

Luxembourg Hands over High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles to Ukraine, European Pravda reports. “Defence Minister of Luxembourg François Bausch has announced the new HMMWV to Ukraine. The Army of Luxembourg and Defence Minister of Luxembourg support the Armed Forces of Ukraine by sending additional High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV).”

Norway signs agreement with EBRD to assist Ukraine with gas procurement, Ukrinform reports. “Norwegian Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum has today signed an agreement to provide funding of NOK 2 billion (USD 195 million) to enable Ukraine to purchase natural gas during the coming winter. This is said in a press release issued by the Government of Norway.”

New Developments 

  1. NATO Parliamentary Assembly Designates Russia Terrorist Regime, European PravdaThe NATO Parliamentary Assembly has designated the Russian Federation and its regime as terrorist. The Assembly has adopted a resolution at the annual session in Madrid. “Today, we will adopt a resolution that calls on all allies to clearly identify the Russian Federation and its current regime as a terrorist organisation,” the NATO PA President Gerry Connolly said before the vote. The resolution was adopted unanimously. It also calls for the creation of a special tribunal to hold the regime accountable for horrific war crimes.”
  2. Zelensky calls on NATO allies to take specific actions to implement Ukraine’s peace formula, UkrinformPresident Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during his address to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly called on the Alliance members to take concrete action to implement the Ukrainian peace formula, which will guarantee peace and justice for Ukraine and the entire Euro-Atlantic community.”
  3. Kremlin states it is not opposed to Zelenskyy being Ukrainian President, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing TASS and Interfax. “Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary of the President of Russia, has stated that a change of power in Ukraine is not a goal of the so-called “special operation”. During the briefing, Peskov was also asked to comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s statement about Moscow not wanting peace but seeking negotiations with Ukraine in order to take a pause and rest. He replied: Russia wants to achieve its goals, and it will achieve them“.
  4. “We can last without electricity, but not without freedom”: Zelenskyy congratulates fellow Ukrainians on Day of Dignity and Freedom, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Zelenskyy.”Everyone has seen what kind of people we have! Willing to give the last. Willing to stand tall till the end. They did not lose [their] dignity. [Their] bravery. [Their] faith in themselves. And they have united. In order not to lose freedom. Not to lose independence. Not to lose Ukraine. We can be left without money. Without gas. Without hot water. Without light. But not without freedom. And it remains unchanged.”
  5. Kuleba calls on EU to ban broadcasting of Russian TV calling for a genocide of Ukrainians, UkrinformUkrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on the EU and other countries around the world to ban the broadcasting of Russia’s state television channels that continue to call for missile strikes on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure and the genocide of Ukrainians.”
  6. Attempts to persuade Ukraine to negotiate with Russia amount to asking for capitulation, Ukrinform reported Sunday, citing the advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podoliak. “Negotiations with Moscow would be equal to capitulation now, and some calls from the West to start talks with Russia after a series of Ukraine’s victories look ‘bizarre’. […] Ukraine can “afford no pause” in its counter-offensive, despite the arrival of winter cold and snow that make the situation on the ground more difficult. According to Podoliak, despite Russia’s heavy military defeats in recent weeks, Putin still thinks he can destroy Ukraine. This is his “obsession” and, thus, peace talks with him make no sense. In Podoliak’s opinion, Ukraine’s partners believe it is possible to return to the pre-war era, where Russia was a reliable partner.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 21 November, 2022:

  1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Monday 21 November:

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

Weather slowed fighting along offensive lines in eastern Ukraine as Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on November 20 and 21. Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that heavy rain and muddy conditions in eastern Ukraine have nearly stopped Russian ground attacks, slowed but not stopped Ukrainian advances, and led to increased artillery fire on November 20 and 21. The Russian MoD notably reported that Russian forces did not conduct any ground operations in the Kupyansk direction northwest of Svatove on November 20, likely due to Russian forces’ inability to handle deteriorating weather conditions. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in the Lyman and Kreminna-Lysychansk directions and destroyed Russian equipment near Syrotyne (about 25km southeast of Kreminna) on November 20 and 21. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) officials claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted missile attacks near Kreminna and in Alchevsk, Luhansk Oblast (about 75km southeast of Kreminna) on November 20 and 21. […] The Russian MoD notably did not report any significant operational gains on November 20 or 21. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to shell settlements along the frontline from Kupyansk to south of Kreminna on November 20 and 21.

Russian forces continued to defend their positions along offensive lines and reinforce rear areas in Luhansk Oblast with demoralized troops from the Kherson withdrawal on November 20 and 21. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported that Russian forces continued to prioritize constructing defensive positions in eastern Ukraine. […] Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that Russian forces also fortified defenses by building dragon’s teeth along the frontline in the Svatove direction and near Popasna, Luhansk (about 47km south of Kreminna). UK MoD and Ukrainian official sources reported that Russian forces continued to reinforce rear areas in Luhansk Oblast with demoralized, ill-trained mobilized reservists who likely came from the Kherson withdrawal. UK MoD also reported that the Russian offensive line in eastern Ukraine is likely a vulnerable operational flank for Russian forces. LNR official Rodion Miroshnik reported on November 21 that the defense situation for Russian forces in Luhansk Oblast has “clearly deteriorated” over the past week. The reports support ISW’s previous assessments that the Russian military is attempting to improve its defensive and offensive capabilities in eastern Ukraine by injecting mobilized troops from Kherson, but that the Russian military has failed to achieve any significant operational progress due low morale and lack of skilled personnel.

Two days of shelling caused widespread damage to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on November 20 and 21. […] Russia and Ukraine both accused the other of conducting the artillery strikes on the ZNPP on November 20 and 21. One Russian milblogger referenced a video of the shelling taken by Chechen forces and stated that it appeared the shelling came from positions in Russian-controlled territory south of the ZNPP, not Ukrainian-controlled territory north of the ZNPP. Russian nuclear operator Rosatom Head Alexey Likhachev warned of a nuclear disaster at the ZNPP, and Russian milbloggers largely amplified his statements and called for the transfer of all Ukrainian nuclear power plants to Russian operation. ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces have staged false flag attacks against the ZNPP and previously reported on Russian forces’ unlawful militarization of the ZNPP. Artillery strikes themselves are unlikely to penetrate the containment units protecting each nuclear reactor and instead pose a greater threat to the spent nuclear fuel storage facilities, which could leak radioactive material and cause a radiological (as opposed to nuclear) disaster if compromised. The continued conflation of radiological and nuclear accidents and the constant discussion of the threat of disaster at the ZNPP is likely part of a wider Russian information operation meant to undermine Western support for Ukraine and frame Russian control of the plant as essential to avoid nuclear catastrophe in order to consolidate further operational and administrative control of Ukrainian nuclear assets and compel elements of the international community to recognize Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory at least obliquely.

The Russian government is continuing to increase its control of the Russian information space as a Russian milblogger noted that Russian efforts to shape the information space “look like a kitten against a rhinoceros” compared with foreign “think tanks,” non-profit organizations, and “independent media.” Russian news outlet Kommersant reported on November 21 that the Russian State Duma may consider a bill before the end of 2022 on the regulation of online “recommender” algorithms that would ultimately allow the government to turn off specific algorithms. The bill is reportedly being developed by Duma Deputy on Information Policy Anton Gorelkin and will include the regulation of social media networks, online cinemas, search engines, and internet marketplaces. Kommersant noted that this bill will require the owners of all sites and platforms to ensure the government’s ability to fully or partially block the participation of specific users and that these provisions appeared before the beginning of the war in October 2021 to specifically target Western outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube due to the risk of “social conflict.” Certain Russian milbloggers responded to the speculation regarding the bill and noted that such recommender algorithms make it harder for nations to disperse propaganda due to the prevalence of accessible and personally tailored information available on the internet. The Duma is likely considering this bill in an attempt to address a consistent point of neuralgia in the Kremlin’s ability to present and defend the war to domestic audiences and to establish a direct means of countering both internal and external sources of online dissent.

The Russian Federal State Security Service (FSB) additionally took steps to codify control over the information space and signed a decree on November 4 that approved a list of military and military-technical activities, which if received by foreign sources, can be used against the security of the Russian Federation. The decree essentially codifies types of information relating to Russian military operations that the FSB regards as threats to Russian security that are not technically classified as official state secrets and includes a broad list of provisions relating to informational coverage of the war such as “information on the assessment and forecasts of the development of the military-political, strategic (operational) situation,” and “information about the observance of rule of law and the moral and psychological climate” of Russian troops. This decree represents an extended effort on the part of the FSB to broadly ban a wide range of information on the Russian military, which would ostensibly place tighter controls on discourse among Russian milbloggers and other such sources who frequently discuss and criticize tactical, operational, and strategic dimensions of the war in Ukraine.

Both the proposed Duma bill and the FSB decree indicate that the Russian government is scrambling to take control of the information space as it is increasingly inundated by criticisms of the Russian military that are levied both internally and externally. Russian officials likely seek to consolidate censorship measures to crack down on the prevalence of foreign voices and domestic critiques by applying legislative pressure to fundamental algorithms and presenting a wide range of activities that can be considered detrimental to Russian state security.

Ukrainian intelligence reported that Russian special services are planning false flag attacks on Belarusian critical infrastructure in an attempt that would likely fail to pressure the Belarusian military to enter the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on November 20 that Russian special services are planning to conduct several false flag terrorist attacks on Belarusian critical infrastructure facilities, particularly on the “Ostrovets” Belarusian nuclear power plant. GUR also reported that Russian special services will blame the attacks on Ukrainian and NATO member states to accelerate the Belarusian military’s involvement in Russia‘s war in Ukraine. ISW has previously assessed that Belarus’ entry into the war remains highly unlikely due to the heavy domestic risk that involvement would pose to the survival of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime and that Russian and Belarusian highlight their bilateral defense cooperation to perpetuate an ongoing information operation that the Belarusian military will enter the war. Potential false flag attacks remain unlikely to change the domestic factors that ISW continues to assess constrain Lukashenko’s willingness to enter the war on Russia’s behalf.

A Ukrainian official acknowledged on November 21 that Ukrainian forces are conducting a military operation on the Kinburn Spit, a location which would allow Ukrainian forces to better conduct potential operations on the left (east) bank in Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian Southern Defense Forces spokesperson Natalia Humenyuk stated on November 21 that Ukrainian forces are conducting a military operation on the Kinburn Spit and called for operational silence to be respected. Humenyuk emphasized that the Kinburn Spit is the last piece of territory that Russian forces occupy in Mykolaiv Oblast. The Kinburn Spit is only 4km across the strait from Ochakiv and allows for control of the entrance to the Dnipro and Southern Bug rivers as well as the Mykolaiv and Kherson city ports. Russian forces used positions on the Kinburn Spit to conduct routine missile and artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions in Ochakiv, southern Mykolaiv Oblast, and other areas along the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea Coast. The Kinburn Spit is also out of the 25km range of 152mm artillery that Russian forces have accumulated on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Control of the Kinburn Spit would allow Ukrainian forces to relieve Russian strikes on the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea coast, increase naval activity in the area, and conduct potential operations to cross to the left (east) bank in Kherson Oblast under significantly less Russian artillery fire compared to a crossing of the Dnipro River.

The November 18 video of a Russian soldier opening fire on a group of Ukrainian servicemen while Russian troops were surrendering has served as a catalyst for further division between the Kremlin and prominent voices in the Russian information space. As ISW reported on November 18, a video widely circulated on social media shows a Russian soldier fire on Ukrainian troops as Ukrainian soldiers were taking prisoners in Makiivka, Luhansk Oblast, resulting in the deaths of the Russian prisoners. Open-source analysts and later a New York Times independent investigation confirmed that the Russian serviceman was the first to open fire but did not offer conclusions about how the Russian prisoners died. While Russian officials responded to the video by adamantly accusing Ukraine of war crimes and calling for an investigation into the identities of the Ukrainian soldiers, several Russian milbloggers capitalized on the content of the video to criticize the Russian military and mobilization practices. One milblogger noted that the Makiivka shooting video is a clear example of how mobilized recruits lack the basic morale and discipline to properly fight for their beliefs and claimed that it is ridiculous that so many Russian soldiers even surrendered to Ukrainian troops in the first place. The divide between milbloggers criticizing the Makiivka shooting is emblematic of Russian military failures, and the Kremlin’s using it to further an information operation against the Ukrainian military may further fragment the information space.

Key Takeaways

  • Two days of shelling caused widespread damage to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
  • The Russian government is continuing to escalate control over the Russian information space.
  • Ukrainian intelligence reported that Russian special services are planning false flag attacks on Belarusian critical infrastructure in an attempt that would likely fail to pressure the Belarusian military to enter the war in Ukraine. ISW continues to assess that it is unlikely Belarusian forces will enter the war.
  • A Ukrainian official acknowledged that Ukrainian forces are conducting a military operation on the Kinburn Spit, Mykolaiv Oblast.
  • The November 18 video of a Russian soldier opening fire on a group of Ukrainian servicemen while Russian troops were surrendering has served as a catalyst for further division between the Kremlin and prominent voices in the Russian information space.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in eastern Ukraine amid worsening weather conditions.
  • Russian forces continued ground assaults near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
  • Russian forces continued conducting defensive measures and establishing fortifications in Kherson Oblast south of the Dnipro River as Ukrainian forces continued striking Russian force accumulations in southern Ukraine.
  • Russian mobilized personnel continue to protest and desert as their relatives continue to publicly advocate against mobilization issues.

Russian occupation authorities intensified filtration measures and the incorporation of occupied territory into Russia.“

Russia’s ‘General Armageddon’ under pressure to deliver on the battlefield after the retreat, Reuters reports. “Russia’s leading war hawks rallied behind the humiliating decision for Moscow’s forces to retreat from the Ukrainian city of Kherson this month, but the commander who argued in favour of the move is now under growing pressure to prove it was worth it. Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian media for his reputed ruthlessness, on Nov. 9 recommended Moscow’s forces quit Kherson and the west bank of the River Dnipro where they were dangerously exposed. […]

Some of those troops have since been moved from southern to eastern Ukraine, where fierce fighting is raging, and the Hero of Russia recipient is under pressure on the cusp of winter to show his bet was the right one.

We await your brilliant results and pray for you, I pray for you every day, Margarita Simonyan, the hawkish editor-in-chief of RT TV and one of the main public proponents of the war, told Surovikin in a TV broadcast last week. Simonyan urged Surovikin, a hulking shaven-headed figure who has been shown on TV speaking in clipped Russian military language, to ignore nonsense from critics, a reference to influential military bloggers unhappy about his retreat.

One of those bloggers, Vladlen Tatarsky, who has more than half a million followers on the Telegram messaging service, had fumed over Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s post-retreat visit to Kherson, questioning why Moscow had not killed him. […]

Russian arch-nationalist Alexander Dugin […] has piled more pressure on Surovikin, saying Kherson was the last chunk of Ukrainian territory that Russia could afford to give up. The limit has been reached, Dugin told the nationalist online news outlet Tsargrad.

Senior Russian government officials and war hawks say they want Kherson back at some point, which looks hard to achieve anytime soon. Nor is taking new ground in the east against a highly motivated and Western-equipped Ukrainian military an easy task, especially in the winter. Kyiv itself has vowed to continue retaking territory, with Russian officials warning they suspect it may try to open a third front in the west with forces redeployed from Kherson.

Surovikin is also being asked by some to step up Moscow’s bombing campaign of Ukrainian energy infrastructure, a tactic the Kremlin has suggested is designed to bring Ukraine to the negotiating table. Vladimir Solovyov, one of Russia’s most famous ultra-nationalist political TV talk show hosts, said last week: “I appeal to the Hero of Russia Army General Surovikin: Comrade Army General, I ask you to complete the total destruction of energy infrastructure of the Nazi Ukrainian junta.”

Other state TV commentators have begun to publicly question the handling of the war, albeit in what are likely to be carefully choreographed performances designed to create the impression of genuine public debate. […]

The appointment of Surovikin on Oct. 8 was the first time Russia had publicly named an overall commander for its forces in Ukraine. The Kherson withdrawal went faster and more smoothly than many Western military analysts had expected, with a senior US military official telling Reuters it had been “relatively orderly” compared with previous Russian retreats.

British military intelligence concurred, saying in a statement on Sunday that Moscow’s forces had probably been successful at limiting the loss of military hardware while destroying what they had left behind. While the Russian army continued to suffer from poor junior and mid-level leadership, it said, “…this relative success is likely partially due to a more effective, single operational command under General Sergei Surovikin”.

Ukraine’s defence minister and Western diplomats say the general appears to have brought greater discipline, as well as more brutality with his stepped-up infrastructure attacks. “Surovikin has made a big difference to the way they are functioning,” said Anthony Brenton, Britain’s former ambassador to Russia. “…there’s more of a sense of coherence and sensible purpose about what Russia is now up to militarily.”

In some Russian circles, his appointment was seen as setting up a potential fall guy while insulating Putin and, to a lesser extent, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, from direct criticism.

“It was obvious that Surovikin’s appointment and the praise heaped upon him were at least partly due to the need to create a figure with a mandate for ‘shameful’ actions that Putin didn’t want to take in his own name,” said Alexander Baunov, a former Russian diplomat who is now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank. […] The general has used half his mandate. Now he will be expected to use the other half,” said Baunov.

For some, this will be seen as a new offensive that will prove that all the retreats were actually a tactical manoeuvre. For others, it will be seen as a way of forcing Ukraine to enter into peace talks using the following formula: the city of Kherson in exchange for peace, electricity, water and heating in Ukrainian cities.

Konrad Muzyka, a Polish defence analyst who recently returned from Ukraine, said that, after Kherson, the moment of truth for the Russian army had arrived. With the exception of the city of Lysychansk, in eastern Ukraine, he said all the territory Russia held looked defensible. Everything now depends on the military commanders, the quality of the equipment, and the ability of their troops to take a punch from Ukraine, hold the line, and then try to counterattack in some way, he said.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Hans Petter Midttun: Today’s assessment will be published as a separate article. A teaser:

In my opinion, nuclear war (or the threat of a nuclear war) is an integrated part of the hybrid war. “The parallel and synchronised use of both military and non-military means to undermine and destabilise countries and alliances” involves all of the tools the aggressor state possesses. It does not differ between conventional or nuclear arms; or between military and non-military means. It is a total war, where the aggressor is using its total resources to shape the operational environment.

A credible threat – a demonstrated will and ability to use military force to achieve its strategic aim and objectives – has been crucial to its ability to influence both the physical and cognitive space. As its conventional forces are gradually being defeated, its nuclear arsenal is becoming increasingly more important to its ability to influence key decisions and policymakers in the West.

The West failed to deter a low-intensity war from turning into a full-scale war. It must now avoid threats turning into a nuclear war or nuclear disaster.

We have been facing an increased risk of a nuclear disaster since 24 February. Russia is conducting conventional war around Ukraine’s 15 Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) with all the risks this entails.  

The risk of nuclear proliferation to Iran and North Korea adds concern to already existing nuclear threats and risks.

The international community is, therefore, not only facing a hybrid war, nuclear blackmail, the risk of Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield, and the very real risk of a nuclear disaster due to warfighting around nuclear power plants, but also an increased risk of nuclear proliferation.”

The article offers advice on risk-reducing measures.

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