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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 280: 18 countries investigate Russian war crimes

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 280: 18 countries investigate Russian war crimes
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russian troops regroup on Kinburn Spit. Zelenskyy: Russia to lose 100,000 servicemen by year-end. 18 countries already investigating Russian war crimes.

Daily overview — Summary report, November 29

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, November 29, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation of Ukraine. November 29, 2022. Source: ISW.


“[Russian occupiers continue their armed aggression against Ukraine, they do not stop striking civilian infrastructure objects. Russian forces are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, concentrate their efforts on restraining the actions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, carry out engineering equipment of defensive lines and positions, and continue to conduct offensive actions in certain directions.]

[The transfer of personnel and military equipment of Russian forces to equip units that have suffered losses, as well as the formation of new units and units, continues.]

Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of the settlements of Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk oblast and Bilohorivka, Bakhmutske, Pervomaiske, Nevelske and Mariinka in the Donetsk oblast.

At the same time, the Russian occupiers launched 2 missile strikes on civilian objects in the settlement of Kivsharivka in the Kharkiv oblast and the city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk oblast, carried out 47 airstrikes and 35 MLRS attacks on the positions of our troops.

There is still a threat of missile strikes by the Russian invaders on the objects of the energy system and critical infrastructure throughout the territory of Ukraine.

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

[The Republic of Belarus continues to support the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and provides its territory and airspace for launching missile and air strikes.]


  • In the Siversky direction, Russian forces fired mortars and artillery systems at the areas of the settlements of Manukhivka, Vorozhba, Prohody, Mykhailivske and Mayske of the Sumy oblast. [Enemy units are conducting demonstrations and provocative actions on the Russian-Ukrainian border in the Siverskyi direction in the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions.]
Kharkiv Battle Map. November 29, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • In the Slobozhanskyi direction, areas of the settlements of Vysoka Yaruga, Strilecha, Krasne, Hlyboke, Starytsa, Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, Ambarne, Petro-Ivanivka and Dvorichne of the Kharkiv oblast were hit by the entire range of artillery.
  • Russian forces are defending in the Kupiansk and Lyman directions. Fired from tanks and artillery of various types in the areas of settlements Pershotravneve, Orlyanske, Kislivka and Tabaivka in the Kharkiv oblast and Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Makiivka, Ploshchanka, Nevske, Chervonopivka in the Luhansk oblast. Carried out airstrikes near Makiivka.
Donetsk Battle Map. November 29, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • In the Bakhmut and Avdiiv directions, Russian forces continue to focus their main efforts on conducting offensive operations. Objects in the areas of Spirne, Bilogorivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Opytne, Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka, Kurakhove, Nevelske, Mariinka and Novomykhailivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast were hit by fire from tanks and artillery. Airstrikes were carried out in the Avdiivka district.
  • The occupiers are conducting defensive operations in the Novopavlivka and Zaporizhzhia areas. Enemy tank and artillery shelling were recorded in the areas of the settlements of Velyka Novosilka, Bohoyavlenka, Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva, Neskuchne and Novopil in the Donetsk oblast and Olhivske, Zahirne, Orihiv, Novoandriivka and Mali Shcherbaky in Zaporizhzhia. Russian forces also carried out airstrikes in the areas of Vuhledar, Olhivske and Stepove.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. November 29, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • In the Kherson direction, the district of Kizomys was hit by MLRS fire. Russian forces do not stop artillery shelling of units of our troops and settlements on the right bank of the Dnipro River, in particular the city of Kherson.

During the past week, more than 720 wounded servicemen of units of the Russian occupation forces were delivered to the medical facilities of the temporarily occupied city of Donetsk.

Also, in the temporarily occupied city of Horlivka, one of the civilian hospitals has been repurposed into a military hospital, where civilian access is completely restricted. Only medical personnel are allowed to visit patients.

[On November 27, it was confirmed that the Russian occupiers’ manpower concentration areas were hit by fire in the settlements of Polohy, Tokmak, and Basan in the Zaporizhzhia oblast and Lutuhine in the Luhansk oblast. The losses of Russian forces amounted to 470 people wounded, and about 50 units of military equipment of various types and ammunition storage were destroyed.]

During the current 24 hours, Ukrainian aviation made 15 strikes on the areas of concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment and 2 strikes on the positions of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems.

Over the past day, our soldiers shot down 3 UAVs of the Orlan-10 type.

Units of missile troops and artillery of the Defense Forces hit the artillery system and one other important object of the occupiers.“

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia’s Kursk Oblast authorities report strikes at power facility, blackouts in two districts, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Roman Starovoyt, governor of Russia’s Kursk Oblast, has reported strikes at energy facilities in the Oblast. He has alleged that Ukrainian Armed Forces performed the attack.  

The Armed Forces of Ukraine are shelling the Sudzha District right now. A total of about 11 airstrikes have been recorded. An energy transmitting facility has been hit.”

Fire at oil storage tank in Russia’s Bryansk region – governor, Reuters reports. “A large oil storage tank was on fire early on Wednesday in Russia’s Bryansk region, a local governor said. The tank was located in the Surazh district in the north of the region. Bryansk region borders Ukraine’s northeast.

There were no reports of casualties, he added. He did not mention a potential cause for the fire.”

Ukraine’s Armed Forces shot down a Russian bomber and attack aircraft on the eastern front, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Ihnat, Spokesperson for the Air Force of Ukraine. Ukraine has shot down a Su-24 and a Su-25, a bomber, and an attack aircraft on the Lysychansk and Bakhmut fronts. That’s where the heavy battles are taking place.

Russian flotilla in the Black Sea includes 12 ships, one with Kalibr missiles, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “As of 29 November: 12 enemy ships are on combat duty in the Black Sea, including one carrier of Kalibr cruise missiles with a total firing capacity of eight missiles. Nine enemy ships, including five carriers of Kalibr cruise missiles with a total firing capacity of 79 missiles are in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the Sea of Azov, Russian forces continue to control maritime communications, keeping two ships on combat duty.”

Russian troops regroup on Kinburn Spit, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yevhen Yerin, Head of the joint press centre for Ukraine’s defence forces on the Tavriya front. “Russian forces are currently regrouping there. The situation unfolding at the Kinburn Spit is under control. As of now though, it’s too early to say that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have control over the Kinburn Spit.”

Production of anti-tank barriers launched in occupied Crimea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “The factory in the village of Shkilne, Simferopol district, has started production of “increased strength” concrete anti-tank barriers for the needs of the Russian military.

[Leonid Babashov], the MP claimed that the company’s capacity allows it to produce up to 5,000 concrete pyramid-shaped anti-tank structures per month, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.”

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

  • In July 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved amendments to the 2012 ‘Foreign Agents Law’, which has been widely used to repress opponents of the regime. The new measures are scheduled to come into force on 01 December 2022.
  • The 2012 law defined ‘foreign agents’ as individuals or organisations who have received financial support from abroad. The amendments will extend the definition to those which are merely under undefined ‘influence or pressure’ of foreign actors. The Ministry of Justice will also have the power to publish the personal details and addresses of designated ‘foreign agents’, almost certainly placing them at risk of harassment.
  • The new laws will further extend the repressive powers available to the Russian state. This continues a trend since Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, but which has dramatically accelerated since the invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin is likely acting pre-emptively to prevent greater domestic dissent as the conflict remains unresolved and increasingly impacts Russians’ everyday lives.
  • Over the last three months, Russian forces in Ukraine have likely largely stopped deploying as Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs).
  • The BTG concept has played a major part in Russian military doctrine for the last ten years, and saw battalions integrated with a full range of supporting sub-units, including armour, reconnaissance and (in a departure from usual Western practice) artillery.
  • Several intrinsic weaknesses of the BTG concept have been exposed in the high intensity, large-scale combat of the Ukraine war so far. BTGs’ relatively small allocation of combat infantry has often proved insufficient. Decentralised distribution of artillery has not allowed Russia to fully leverage its advantage in numbers of guns; and few BTG commanders have been empowered to flexibly exploit opportunities in the way the BTG model was designed to promote.

Losses of the Russian army 

Zelenskyy: Russia to lose 100,000 servicemen by year-end, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “By the end of this year, Russia will lose 100,000 of its soldiers and God only knows how many mercenaries. And Ukraine will persevere. And the world will do everything to ensure that everyone guilty of this criminal war is brought to justice.”

President Zelenskyy went on to say that the situation at the front remains difficult. Despite Russia suffering extremely high losses, the occupiers are still trying to advance in Donetsk Oblast, gain a foothold in the Luhansk region, advance in the Kharkiv region, and are planning their operations on the southern front.

But we are holding the defence and, most importantly, we are not allowing Russian forces to see their plans through. They had said that they would capture Donetsk Oblast, they said this in spring, summer, autumn… This week, winter is beginning already. They have sacrificed their regular army there; they are losing hundreds of mobilised soldiers and mercenaries there daily; they are using barrier troops there, the president emphasised.”

Over 400,000 Russians fled to Kazakhstan when mobilisation started, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax, quoting Tamara Duisenova, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Population. “According to the updated information that we exchange every day, just over 400,000 Russians arrived, just over 320,000 have left, and about 100,000 Russians are still here.”

It was previously reported that over 200,000 Russian citizens had entered Kazakhstan and 147,000 had left between 21 September (when partial mobilisation was announced) and 4 October.”


Ukraine still has a 30% power deficit after Russian attacks – PM, Reuters reports. “Ukraine still has a 30% deficit of electricity, six days after the last big wave of Russian missile strikes on its power grid, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday. He reiterated at a government meeting that Ukraine had enough natural gas in storage to get through winter.”

1,000 generators for hospitals: UNITED24 ambassadors unite to raise funds, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mykhailo Fedorov, the Minister of Digital Transformation. “UNITED24 ambassadors have united to raise money for 1,000 generators for Ukrainian hospitals. For the first time, six ambassadors are raising funds for one goal.

Astronaut Scott Kelly, football coach Andrii Shevchenko and boxer Oleksandr Usyk came to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Tennis player Elina Svitolina, historian Timothy Snyder and actor and director Liev Schreiber joined via video conference.”

Enough for winter: Shmyhal reports 14 bcm of gas in storage facilities, Ukrinform reports. “As we enter winter, we have 14 billion cubic meters of gas in our storage facilities and 1.3 million tonnes of coal in warehouses. This resource will be enough to consistently get through the winter, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said at the Cabinet’s meeting.

As noted, the Ministry of Economy does not project a fuel shortage even in the conditions of increased imports of diesel and gasoline generators and the related increase in demand for fuel.”

OHCHR recorded 17,023 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of November 28. 6,655 were killed (including 419 children) and 10,368  injured (including 769 children).


Kuleba at meeting with Grossi: Russia must withdraw from ZNPP to restore nuclear safety and security, Ukrinform reports. “I started my visit to Bucharest with meeting IAEA Secretary General Rafael Mariano Grossi. We discussed the situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, including the security of the Ukrainian personnel. I reiterated that Russia must withdraw from ZNPP to restore nuclear safety and security, [Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro] Kuleba posted on Twitter.

In turn, Grossi added that the IAEA will strengthen its presence in all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. […] As reported, Oleksandr Starukh, Head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, stated that the Russian army uses the Zaporizhzhia NPP as a military base. Positions were set up, trenches were dug, and mines were laid along the plant’s perimeter.”

G7 justice ministers adopt Berlin Declaration: Russia must be held to account for crimes in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “There can be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities. Criminal prosecution of core international crimes is of the highest priority to us… It is our common goal to establish the responsibility of offenders in proceedings conducted in compliance with the rule of law and due process to achieve maximum accountability and to deliver justice for victims and survivors, reads the document. […]

We have met for the first time. Putin’s criminal war of aggression against Ukraine catapulted us into a new era. We oppose historical injustice with unity and determination, said the host of the meeting, German Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann. He noted that it was agreed to coordinate the activities of investigative and prosecutorial bodies to avoid duplication. It was also decided to create a central national contact point for the prosecution of international criminals in each state. […]

The German Federal Minister of Justice admitted that the trial of crimes in Ukraine would last for years, perhaps even decades, but the friends of Ukraine will be well prepared and patient. In addition to Ukraine, the Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor, the International Criminal Court, and authorities in other countries also conduct investigations. In Ukraine alone, according to Buschmann, 45,000 crimes have already been documented and 2,000 suspects have been identified. This shows the scale of the task.

Buschmann emphasized that war criminals have no right and will not feel safe wherever they are. He expressed his belief that in the end the top leadership of the Russian Federation will also appear before the court, not only the direct perpetrators.

Commenting on Ukraine’s idea to ​​create a special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression, Buschmann said that it is important not to replace the International Criminal Court. There are various options, we are consulting on this… The special tribunal is one of the options, the politician said.

The Ministers of Justice of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, met in Berlin today with the Minister of Justice of Ukraine, the EU Commissioner for Justice, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the Federal Public Prosecutor General of Germany.”

Kostin at G7 meeting in Berlin: 18 countries already investigating Russian war crimes, Ukrinform reports. “Eighteen countries have already launched national investigations into Russian war crimes, which is a solid foundation for building a true partnership. […] Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said this at a meeting of justice ministers of the G7 countries, the Prosecutor General’s Office reported on Telegram.”

The US may label Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries as a terrorist organization – media, Ukrinform reports, citing Bloomberg. “The White House is weighing whether to label Russia’s Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization. Two people familiar with the matter said the Biden administration had made no final decision on the designation.

Labeling Wagner a foreign terrorist organization would allow the US to pursue criminal prosecution against the group and its members, as well as go after its assets around the globe. According to the report, the Wagner Group plays an important role in Russia’s hostilities against Ukraine and is increasing its presence in Africa.”


Arms production for Ukraine: Kuleba calls on NATO countries to make decisions more quickly, Ukrinform reports. “Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba calls on NATO countries to make decisions on the launch of production lines and arms supplies to Ukraine more quickly. […] We appreciate what has been done, but the war continues. We proved that we can defeat Russia, that we can win together for the sake of the entire Euro-Atlantic space and the world, the minister said, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

In this context, Kuleba emphasized that Western countries should make decisions on weapons, on the launch of new production lines of weapons more quickly, and their supply should take place faster. According to him, this is what the ministers of NATO and Ukraine discussed today: how to speed things up.”

Another multiple-launch rocket system arrives in Ukraine from France, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksii Reznikov, the Minister of Defence of Ukraine. “The fourth brother in the Long Hand [i.e. long-range] family, an LRU from France has arrived in Ukraine! The Ukrainian army is now even more powerful in terms of deterring and destroying Russian forces. […]

LRU (Lance Roquette Unitaire) is a French modification of the US-made M270 MLRS. There’s also a German modification of this weapon called MARS II (Mittleres Artillerieraketensystem) and an Italian one, the MLRS-I (MLRS Improved).”

US considering sending Patriot systems to Ukraine – defence official, Ukrinform reports, citing CNN. “The United States is considering sending Patriot air defence systems to Ukraine to support their air defence capabilities against incoming Russian attacks. All capabilities are on the table, the official said when asked if the US was considering sending Patriot batteries specifically to Ukraine. Patriot is one of the air defence capabilities that is being considered, he said. […]

However, later on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing that the US has no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine right now. But again we’ll continue to have those discussions […], he added”.

Ukrainian crews could master Patriot launchers within weeks, Ukrinform reports. “The transfer of Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine is a political issue, but in the case of their delivery, the Ukrainian crews could master them in a matter of several weeks. That’s according to Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesman for the Air Force […].

We have examples of mastering Iris and NASAMS, where it took only a few weeks for our servicemen, who are quite young people, but they were the best, most trained specialists who were selected so they mastered this technology within weeks. The equipment is quite modern and automated. Therefore, the human factor of error is reduced to a minimum there. […]. He also explained that the Patriot’s range is 150 km. So, the more systems are transferred to the Armed Forces, the better the line of defence […].

As reported, last Monday Germany offered Poland to deploy Patriot anti-missile defence systems on the Polish-Ukrainian border after a missile hit the Polish territory. Poland, for its part, offered to deploy these systems on the Ukrainian side of the border.”

The first 152-mm artillery shells made by Ukraine will be delivered in a few days, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. Ukroboronprom has previously reported that it has established the production of 122-mm and 152-mm artillery shells, as well as 120-mm mines. The shells have been successfully tested and are manufactured using NATO technology. Production is distributed at various facilities, including those belonging to partner countries.

The first 152-mm artillery shells made by the Ukroboronprom State Concern will be delivered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in a few days.

NATO will provide Ukraine with additional non-lethal support, Ukrinform reports. “Today, Allies made additional pledges to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine. This will fund urgent non-lethal support, including fuel and generators. Helping Ukraine to address the consequences of Russia’s strikes against their power grid. I was also glad to take part in the G7 foreign ministerial meeting just now. To secure commitments for the emergency infrastructure coordination mechanism to assist Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said following the first session of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest.”

Germany gives Ukraine EUR 56M for the repair of energy infrastructure, Ukrinform reports, citing federal government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. “Germany has provided EUR 56 million to Ukraine for the repair of its energy infrastructure. Germany is also providing more than 350 generators.”

New Developments

  1. Brussels proposes a plan to confiscate frozen Russian assets, ReutersThe European Commission on Wednesday said proposed a plan to confiscate Russian assets that have been frozen to punish Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. We have blocked 300 billion euros of the Russian Central Bank reserves and we have frozen 19 billion euros of Russian oligarchs’ money, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union’s executive said in a statement. She said that in the short term the EU and its partners could manage the funds and invest them. The proceeds would go to Ukraine so that ultimately would compensate for damages caused to the country.
  2. Hungary Blocked Ukraine’s Participation in NATO Meetings since 2017 – Ukraine’s MFA, European PravdaThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has confirmed that due to Hungary’s veto since 2017 Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba could not participate in the official meeting of NATO foreign affairs. He had a separate meeting and not within the framework of the Ukraine-NATO Commission. The meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of foreign ministers will be held in the Romanian capital of Bucharest on November 29-30. They will discuss further assistance for Ukraine in the war against Russia.”
  3. NATO to reassure Russia’s neighbours fearful of instability, ReutersNATO foreign ministers will on Wednesday seek to reassure fragile countries in Russia’s neighbourhood that they fear could be destabilised by Russia as the conflict in Ukraine drags on, squeezing energy supplies and pushing up prices. NATO allies on Tuesday pledged more help to Ukraine to repair energy infrastructure heavily damaged by Russian bombardments in what the defence alliance’s chief said was Moscow using the winter weather as “a weapon of war”. Speaking on Tuesday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-member alliance would hold talks with Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, countries facing pressure from Russia”.
  4. Russia blames nuclear talks pullout on ‘toxic’ US behaviour, ReutersIn strongly worded comments, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also accused the United States of trying to manipulate the New START nuclear treaty to its advantage, although she said Russia was still committed to it. […] “In all areas, we note the highest level of toxicity and hostility from Washington,” she said. “As part of the all-out hybrid war unleashed against us, almost every US step towards Russia is subject to a pathological desire to harm our country wherever possible.” Relations between Russia and the United States have plunged to their most confrontational point in 60 years since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, triggering waves of US sanctions against Moscow and tens of billions of dollars’ worth of economic and military aid from Washington to Kyiv.”
  5. EU seeks to set up Russian war crimes tribunal – Von Der Leyen, ReutersThe European Union will try to set up a specialised court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute possible war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said on Wednesday.”
  6. President’s Office: Russia enjoys terror, but it does not affect the course of the war, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mykhailo Podoliak, advisor to the Head of the Office of the President. “Don’t look for logic in terror. Strikes on the energy sector do not affect the course of the war. Attacks on civilian cities do not break but harden the population. Dozens of studies of the wars of the 20th century say it, not me. The only reason why the Russian Federation is doing this is the pleasure of terror, which overshadows the defeat of the Russian army in battle.”
  7. Medvedev threatens to strike Patriot air defence systems if they are shipped to Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaDmitry Medvedev, Deputy Head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, has threatened that if Patriot anti-ballistic missile systems are shipped to Ukraine, they will become “a legal target” for the Russian invaders. […] Medvedev has also stated that “a civilised world” does not need NATO. According to him, the Alliance has to “repent” and be dissolved.”
  8. Russian propagandists suggest prosecuting emigrants for criticising authorities and promote bringing back executions to Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Agentstvo. “In a programme on Russian television, Russian propagandists Margarita Simonyan and Vladimir Solovyov suggested prosecuting Russian emigrants for criticizing the authorities under the article on treason and bringing back the death penalty by firing squads in Russia.”


  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 28 November, 2022:

Russian forces continued efforts to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations northwest of Svatove on November 29. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued standard defensive operations in the Kupiansk, Kharkiv Oblast, direction. Kharkiv Oblast Head Oleh Synehybov amplified reports that Russian forces are conducting constant artillery attacks on Ukrainian positions in Kupiansk but stated that Ukrainian forces are holding the line and repelling Russian forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian attack in Ivanivka (22km southeast of Kupiansk) and that Russian forces struck Ukrainian control points in Petropavlivka (7km east of Kupiansk) and Berestove (26km southeast of Kupiansk).

Ukraine continued counteroffensive operations in the direction of Svatove and Kreminna on November 29. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian concentration area in Svatove, Luhansk Oblast, which Luhansk Oblast Head Serhiy Haidai claimed was a deployment point and ammunition depot. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Ambassador to Russia Rodion Miroshnik claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a massive shelling of Svatove and unsuccessfully attempted to break through Russian defensive lines to the Svatove-Kreminna highway. Miroshnik additionally claimed that Ukrainian forces attempted to probe Russian defenses in Kuzemivka, 13km northwest of Svatove. Russian sources continued to claim that Russian forces are repelling Ukrainian attacks in this area. A Russian source claimed that Ukraine is accumulating forces in Kharkiv Oblast to possibly resume an offensive against Svatove and Starobilsk. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Novoselivske (14km northwest of Svatove), while Russian sources claimed that Russian forces seized Novoselivske. A Russian source stated that Russian forces began offensive operations on the Svatove-Kreminna line and conjectured that operations will intensify in the coming days as the weather improves. Ukrainian troops additionally continue to target Russian rear areas in Luhansk Oblast along critical ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and hit a concentration area in Luhutyne, just southwest of Luhansk City along the H21.

Russian forces continued limited ground attacks west of Kreminna to regain lost positions on November 29. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued standard offensive operations in the Lyman direction, and the Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces thwarted a Ukrainian attack towards Chervonopopivka (6km northwest of Kreminna).  The Ukrainian General Staff also noted that Russian troops continued efforts to attack Bilohorivka, 10km south of Kreminna.

Russian forces made marginal gains around Bakhmut on November 29, but Russian forces remain unlikely to have advanced at the tempo that Russian sources claimed. Geolocated footage shows that Russian forces made marginal advances southeast of Bakhmut but ISW remains unable to confirm most other claimed gains around Bakhmut made since November 27. Some Russian milbloggers made unsubstantiated claims that Russian forces broke through the Ukrainian defensive line south of Bakhmut along the T0513 highway to advance towards Chasiv Yar, which would cut one of two remaining main Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Bakhmut, but such claims are likely part of a continuing Russian information operation and are premature, as ISW has previously assessed. ISW continues to assess that the degraded Russian forces around Bakhmut are unlikely to place Bakhmut under threat of imminent encirclement rapidly.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported on November 29 that Russian forces have likely stopped deploying battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in the past three months. The UK MoD stated that the BTGs‘ relatively low allocation of infantry, decentralized distribution of artillery, and the limited independence of BTG decision-making hindered their success in Ukraine. ISW assessed starting in April that Russian BTGs were degraded in various failed or culminated Russian offensives, including the attacks on Kyiv, Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk, and Lysychansk, and later efforts to reconstitute these BTGs to restore their combat power have failed. Russian forces have likely since thrown their remaining combat power and new personnel, including mobilized personnel, into poorly trained, equipped, and organized ad hoc structures with low morale and discipline. The structure of BTGs and the way the Russian military formed them by breaking up doctrinal battalions, regiments, and brigades likely deprived the Russians of the ability to revert to doctrinal organizations, as ISW has previously assessed, so that the Russians must now rely on ad-hoc structures with mobilized personnel.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces made marginal gains around Bakhmut on November 29, but Russian forces remain unlikely to have advanced at the tempo that Russian sources claimed.
  • The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that Russian forces have likely stopped deploying battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in the past three months, supporting ISW’s prior assessments.
  • Russian forces continued to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations around Svatove as Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations around Svatove and Kreminna.
  • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks west of Kreminna to regain lost positions.
  • Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Siversk and Avdiivka, and in western Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued strengthening defensive positions in eastern Kherson Oblast as Ukrainian forces continued striking Russian force concentrations in southern Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued to struggle with outdated equipment and domestic personnel shortages amid official actions indicative of a probable second wave of mobilization.

An independent investigation found that Russia may have transported thousands of Ukrainian prisoners from penal colonies in occupied Ukraine to Russia following the withdrawal from the west bank of Kherson Oblast.“

Putin failing on the battlefield therefore he attacks Ukrainian cities – Stoltenberg, Ukrinform reports. “The main message that NATO foreign ministers will send following their two-day ministerial in Bucharest will be the one of unity of the Alliance and their readiness to continue and strengthen support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. That’s according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg […].

We are meeting in Romania, and I think that it is very timely and important because Romania is a neighbour to Ukraine, and we see a war raging on there. A war where President Putin is failing, but he’s responding with more brutality, attacking Ukrainian cities, attacking critical infrastructure. And President Putin is now turning winter into a war or a weapon of aggression against the Ukrainian people, the secretary general said.

Therefore the allies need to support Ukraine, he added […]. And I’m absolutely confident that the message from the meeting here today and tomorrow will be that NATO Allies will provide and continue to provide unprecedented support to Ukraine.  We need to stand together because it is in our security interest to ensure that President Putin doesn’t win, because that will send the message that authoritarian leaders can get their way by using brutal military force, Stoltenberg stressed.” 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Half of the world’s democracies in decline, intergovernmental watchdog says, Reuters reports. “Half of the world’s democracies are in a state of decline amid worsening civil liberties and rule of law while already authoritarian governments are becoming more oppressive, an intergovernmental watchdog group said on Wednesday. In its annual report, the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) said democratic institutions were being undermined by issues ranging from restrictions on freedom of expression to increasing distrust in the legitimacy of elections.

Several factors, such as Russia’s war in Ukraine, rampant inflation, a looming global recession, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic provide significant challenges.

The world faces a multitude of crises, from the cost of living to risks of nuclear confrontation and the acceleration of the climate crisis, IDEA said in its 2022 study on the state of democracy, relying on data compiled since 1975. At the same time, we see global democracy in decline. It is a toxic mix.

IDEA bases its Global State of Democracy Indices on more than 100 variables including measures such as freedom of expression, and personal integrity and security, which are then grouped and aggregated into broader categories.

The report said the number of “backsliding” countries – those with the most severe democratic erosion – has never been so high and included Poland, Hungary and also the United States, with its problems of political polarisation, institutional dysfunction and threats to civil liberties.

In Europe, almost half of all democracies have suffered erosion in the last five years, it said. However, democratic values and institutions are increasingly seen as a fundamental bulwark against Russian aggression, especially in Ukraine, but also in most countries in the region. The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has shaken Europe, forcing the region to rethink security considerations and deal with impending food and energy crises, IDEA said.

It said democracy globally is under threat from challenges to the legitimacy of credible election results, restrictions on online freedoms and rights, intractable corruption, and the rise of extreme right parties. Never has there been such an urgency for democracies to respond, to show their citizens that they can forge new, innovative social contracts that bind people together rather than divide them, IDEA said.

The report found that authoritarian governments were engaging in ever more repression of dissent and that more than two-thirds of the world’s population now lived in “backsliding” democracies or under authoritarian rule. Globally, the number of countries moving toward authoritarianism was more than double the number moving toward democracy measured over the past six years.

On a positive note, Africa remained resilient in the face of instability. Countries including The Gambia, Niger and Zambia all saw improvements in democratic quality.”

Hans Petter Midttun: A meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs is taking place in Bucharest, Romania, on 29 – 30 November 2022. Sweden, Finland and Ukraine will be high on the agenda. They will address ways to step up support for Ukraine at their meeting in Bucharest.

What outcome from the meeting should we expect – or rather – hope for?

The Alliance needs to address the broader conflict and align its strategic messaging with that of the EU. On 14 September, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated that:

Much is at stake here. Not just for Ukraine – but all of Europe and the world at large. And we will be tested. Tested by those who want to exploit any kind of divisions between us. This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future. This is about autocracy against democracy,” von der Leyen said. She added that “with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will prevail.”

While the European Parliament has clearly stated that the EU member states are exposed to a Russian Hybrid War, NATO has come up with the rather feeble conclusion that “the Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace”.

The fact is that the so-called “Russian war in Ukraine” threatens European security, stability and prosperity, and Ukraine – not NATO – is defending it. Russia has defined the USA and NATO as both being a part of the war in Ukraine and accused us of waging war against Russia. It has publically declared that the West is waging an information wareconomic war, acts of aggression, war with Russia through a proxy and a total war against the Russian Federation.

It has even waged a Hybrid War against the West for years. In December 2021 it handed over brazen ultimatums to both the USA and NATO member states before starting a new phase of its war against Ukraine.

I hope, therefore, that the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs will address the information gap between NATO and the EU, aligning the Alliance’s strategic messaging and actions with the realities “on the ground”.

By doing that, the ministers would also address the increasing internal division within the Alliance. According to Secretary Antony J. Blinken, NATO is “stronger and more united than at any time”. Public statements by several member states arguing for military intervention, the decision by the Alliance to limit its support to Ukraine to non-lethal aid only, the division of labour between NATO and the member states, the disparity in the support provided to Ukraine by the individual countries of the Alliance, and not least, the fact that NATO has stepped back from past commitments laid down in its previous strategic concept, tells a very different story.

NATO is divided between those who remember the cost and consequences of oppression and occupation and those who do not. This internal strife comes on top of the everlasting friction over lack of burden sharing, as only ten out of thirty member states fulfil their NATO target of 2% of GDP spending on defence budgets.

An alignment of situational awareness between NATO and the EU and an acknowledgement of the broader confrontation already taking place would also enable the Alliance to find a strategy that reduces the consequences of the “Tsunami of ripple effects” from the war.

These include increased costs of living, food and energy insecurity, increased famine, recession, and more. This increases the likelihood of social unrest, increased extremism, riots, and the fall of governments. The political landscape in the USA and Europe will – as in the 1930s – most likely be changed by political forces seeking to exploit the voters’ frustration.

Half of the world’s democracies are in a state of decline amid worsening civil liberties and rule of law while already authoritarian governments are becoming more oppressive, according to the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). The report stresses that:

Democratic institutions are especially important in times of crisis and fear. They ensure open pathways for the information and communication that citizens and governments need to be able to act responsively and effectively. To rebuild and revitalize these institutions and to re-establish trust between the people and their governments, it is necessary to develop new and innovative social contracts that better reflect the changing global environment and that meaningfully prioritize equal access to the mechanisms of participation.

NATO has so far shown itself unwilling to defend international law, the security architecture our common security, stability and well-being is resting on and, not least, our core values and principles. Acknowledging its role and reassessing NATO’s strategy, would also enable the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to discuss the credibility and future relevance of the Alliance.

All of this – from the acknowledgement of the strategic environment, and the alignment of NATO’s strategic messaging to that of the EU, to addressing the internal discord and the consequences of the “tsunami of ripple effects” from the war – will allow NATO to evaluate its present strategy.

Does it work? Does it serve the interests of the West? Does it stop the war?

We already know that Russia has no intention of ending the war. Because of its present strategy, NATO is not seen as a threat. Ukraine has absolutely no intention of giving up its fight for the right to exist. It is asking NATO to provide more support than it is presently willing to give.

NATO remain the only party that can change the military balance and end the war, and defend international law, universal rights and not least, democracy itself.

This is what I would hope to be the output of the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Even a small step in this direction would bring some hope of peace in the near future.

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