Russo Ukrainian War. Day 290: Russians practically destroyed Bakhmut

 

Daily review

Russians practically destroyed Bakhmut. Russia is trying to get ballistic missiles from Iran. Ukraine atomic agency says Russian forces abducted two nuclear plant staff.

Daily overview — Summary report, December 10

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, December 9, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW.

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[Russian forces continue to focus its efforts on conducting an offensive in the Bakhmut direction. It is trying to improve its tactical position in the Lyman and Avdiivka directions. In other directions, Russian forces are concentrating their efforts on restraining the actions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, shelling the positions of our troops and civilian objects. It equips defensive lines and positions.]

Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces repelled attacks by Russian invaders in the areas of the settlements of Ploshchanka, Nevske, Bilohorivka in Luhansk oblast and Yakovlivka, Bakhmutske, Pidhorodne, Bakhmut, Opytne, Kurdyumivka, Druzhba, Nevelske, Pobyeda and Novomykhailivka in Donetsk oblast.

Over the past day, Russian forces launched 5 missiles and about 20 airstrikes, as well as over 60 MLRS attacks.

The settlements of Velyka Pysarivka in the Sumy oblast, as well as Komyshuvakha, Hryhorivske and Yulyivka in Zaporizhzhia, were hit by rockets.

The threat of missile attacks on the objects of the energy system and critical infrastructure throughout the territory of Ukraine remains.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, the situation remains without significant changes, no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups have been detected. [In the cities of Mozyr, Gomel and Mogilev, an increase in the number of Russian mobilized servicemen was noted. Measures to check the credentials of conscripts are ongoing in the military headquarters of the Gomel region.]

  • In the Siverskyi direction, the settlements of Khodyne and Basivka of the Sumy oblast were hit by mortar attacks.
Kharkiv Battle Map. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Slobozhanskyi direction, the areas of the settlements of Strilecha, Krasne, Zelene, Ternova, Starytsa, Ohirtseve, Chuhunivka, and Kamianka of the Kharkiv oblast were shelled by mortars and artillery.
  • In the Kupyansk direction, Russian forces shelled the areas of the settlements of Dvorichna, Synkivka, Kupyansk, Kislivka, Tabaivka, Pishchane, Krokhmalne, Berestove and Pershotravneve in the Kharkiv oblast and Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk oblast with tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS.
  • In the Lyman direction, Russian forces fired tanks and artillery of various calibres in the areas of Hrekivka, Makiivka, Ploshchanka, Nevske and Chervonpopivka in Luhansk oblast and Torske and Hryhorivka in Donetsk oblast.
Donetsk Battle Map. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Bakhmut direction, more than twenty populated areas were hit by fire from the Russian occupiers. Among them are Verkhnyokamianske, Berestove, Bilohorivka, Vesele, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Opytne, Klishchiivka, Andriivka, Bila Hora, Kurdyumivka, Ozaryanivka, Diliivka, Druzhba and Zalizne of the Donetsk oblast.
  • In the Avdiivka direction, Russian forces shelled the Avdiivka, Berdychi, Pervomaiske, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka districts of the Donetsk oblast.
  • In the Novopavlivsk direction, artillery and mortar attacks were recorded near Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Novoukrainka, Zolotay Nyva, Velyka Novosilka, Vremivka, and Novopil of the Donetsk oblast.
  • In the Zaporizhzhia direction, Russian forces inflicted fire damage on the settlements of Chervone, Dorozhnyanka, Zaliznychne, Hulyaipilske, Orihiv, Novodanilivka, Novoandriivka, Stepove, Kamianske, Chervonodniprovka in the Zaporizhzhia region and Vyshchetarasivka in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. December 9, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Kherson direction, Russian forces carried out artillery shelling of settlements in the Kherson oblast, which are not far from the contact line. Antonivka, Chornobayivka, and the city of Kherson were hit by artillery fire, and civilians were injured.

In addition to the significant losses of servicemen of the Russian occupation forces on the territory of Ukraine as a result of the actions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, Russian forces also suffer losses from the so-called “friendly fire”. This is a consequence of the low training of tank and artillery crews, as well as the lack of interaction and communication between units.

[Russian forces continues to lose manpower. Over the past day, up to 50 wounded mercenaries from a private military campaign were brought to the central city hospital of Kadiivka, Luhansk oblast.]

[At the same time, mobilization measures are ongoing in some regions of the Russian Federation. So, in particular, summonses continue to be served to conscripts in the Samara region.]

Over the past day, units of the Ukrainian missile forces and artillery hit 4 control points and 5 areas of concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment of the occupiers.“

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Invaders practically destroyed Bakhmut, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the situation on key areas of the Donbas front is difficult; according to him, the Russians practically destroyed the city of Bakhmut.

The front-line situation remains very difficult in key areas of Donbas: Bakhmut, Soledar, Mariinka, Kreminna… On the ground in these areas, there is no place left undamaged by shells and fire. The invaders practically destroyed Bakhmut – another city of Donbas, which the Russian army turned into scorched ruins.”

Air Defence repelled latest Russian attack on energy infrastructure more efficiently than previous ones, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, Chairman of the Management Board of Ukrenergo. “Ukraine’s Air Defence repelled Russia’s latest missile attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure more efficiently than previous ones. Kudrytskyi remarked on the outstanding work done by the Air Defence Forces of Ukraine. This was a crucial factor that made the latest attack less devastating than previous ones.”

Satellite images show that up to 10 bombers disappeared from Russian Dyagilevo airbase, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday, citing Mark Krutov, journalist of the Russian editorial office of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “Up to 10 Tu-22M bombers have disappeared from the Russian Dyagilevo military airbase in Ryazan Oblast. He did not rule out that some other planes could have been moved to another place at the same base.”

Ukraine’s Air Force has already launched 3,800 strikes on enemy positions, equipment, and ammo depots, Ukrinform reports. “Our pilots launch strikes every day, prevent Russian forces from having rest, and help our ground troops and other defence forces advance in certain directions and hold the defence in certain directions as well. It happens every day. The Air Force has already launched more than 3,800 group airstrikes on enemy positions, equipment, troops clusters, ammunition depots, etc. It really happens every day,” Yuriy Ihnat, Spokesperson for the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said.”

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

  • Iran has become one of Russia’s top military backers since Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Iran’s support to the Russian military is likely to grow in the coming months: Russia is attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles. In return Russia is highly likely offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their defence relationship.
  • Russia has highly likely expended a large proportion of its stock of its own SS-26 Iskander short range ballistic missiles, which carry a 500kg warhead up to 500km. If Russia succeeds in bringing a large number of Iranian ballistic missiles into service, it will likely use them to continue and expand its campaign of strikes against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure.
  • For the first time in three weeks, there have been reports of attacks by Iranian-provided one-way attack (OWA) uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). These events remain to be verified, but it is likely that Russia exhausted its previous stock of several hundred Shahed-131s and 136s and has now received a resupply.
  • On 06 December 2022, the Ukrainian General Staff reported shooting down 17 UAVs, including 14 Shahed-136s. On 07 December 2022, Ukrainian officials reported the use of Iranian-provided OWA UAVs targeting Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro oblasts.
  • The last previously reported shooting down of Iranian Shahed-136s in Ukraine was on 17 November 2022. If verified, it is likely that Russia has recommenced attacks with newly delivered OWA UAV systems.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Saturday 9 December, 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 93760 (+370),
  • Tanks – 2940 (+3),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5917 (+5),
  • Artillery systems – 1927 (+1),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 397 (+2),
  • Air defence means – 211 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 281 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 264 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4535 (+4),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1603 (+0),
  • Special equipment – 167 (+3),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 592 (+0)

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

Russia trying to get ballistic missiles from Iran, says Britain, Reuters reports. “Russia is attempting to obtain more weapons from Iran, including hundreds of ballistic missiles […], Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said on Friday. Since August Iran has transferred hundreds of drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – to Russia, which had used them to “kill civilians and illegally target civilian infrastructure” in Ukraine, Woodward said.

In return, Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support. We’re concerned that Russia intends to provide Iran with more advanced military components, which will allow Iran to strengthen their weapons capability, she said.

She also said Britain was “almost certain that Russia is seeking to source weaponry from North Korea (and) other heavily sanctioned states, as their own stocks palpably dwindle.”

In Moscow, “mobilisation ended”, over 10 men were taken from the street – human rights activists, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza, quoting the human rights centre Memorial. “Human rights activists reported that on Friday [9 December] more than 10 people were captured on the street and taken to the military enlistment office.

Men were grabbed just on the street and even at work – one was taken from a coffee shop. The police removed their identification marks and did not introduce themselves. They are still being held in the military enlistment office. Relatives of one of the detainees told our lawyers that they used force against him and forced him to undergo a medical examination. Now there is no connection with any of the men.

Memorial noted that raids on conscripts are illegal. The men must be summoned to the conscription measures by summons, and they must be handed over no earlier than three days before the deadline for appearance.”

Humanitarian 

Victory Over Russia Is the Only Way to Rescue the Kidnapped Ukrainians, New Republic reports. “Officials from the war-torn nation estimate that as many as 2.8 million residents have been forcibly relocated to Russia since the invasion began. Weeks before Russia’s military leaders announced a retreat from the Ukrainian regional capital of Kherson, they began forcibly taking the Ukrainian residents of the region deeper into occupied Russian territory and shipping some of them off to the Russian interior. These forced deportations are part of a larger program that has taken at least hundreds of thousands of people, and it is one that Russia had reportedly been planning since before it even invaded Ukraine. […]

Tearful videos of liberated Ukrainians greeting the troops freeing them from Russian occupation have become commonplace in the aftermath of major wins, but Ukrainian forces will not be rolling into the detention camps where Ukrainians are being held deep within Siberia. Perhaps the only way to bring these people home is through victories on the battlefield that force Russia to return them home to Ukraine willingly as a concession in ending the conflict. This is something Ukraine’s partners in Washington and Europe can help with, most urgently by sending long-range weapons, tanks, and fighters so that Ukraine can both continue its success on the battlefield and hold off talk of a premature negotiated peace that risks surrendering all those under occupation and internment in Russia to permanent separation from their homes and families.

Since the start of Russia’s invasion, Ukrainians have been pushed through filtration camps in occupied territory where they have been subjected to torture and interrogations. Some have been released, but many have been loaded onto transport bound for various regions of Russia. When Mariupol was being decimated by Russian forces laying siege to the city, civilians attempting to evacuate were pushed instead into Russia. A new report from Amnesty International details the impossible choices Ukrainians under fire were given, with one Mariupol evacuee retelling that upon asking Russian soldiers about the possibility of evacuating instead to Ukrainian-held territory, “The answer came straight away, the soldier interrupted and said, ‘If you don’t go to the DNR [Russian-occupied Donetsk] or the Russian Federation, you will stay here forever.’”

By all accounts, Russia’s deportation program was premeditated. The Russian government reportedly planned to bring Ukrainians into Russia even before the February invasion, setting up camps hundreds of miles from the border with Ukraine and developing compensation formulas to incentivize its regions to hold more people. Now a makeshift network of camps, dormitories, converted hotels, and sanitariums, all designed to house people taken from Ukraine, stretch across Russia. Dozens of these centers have been identified by journalists and observers. Additionally, Russia’s adoption laws were loosened to encourage Russian families to adopt Ukrainian children separated from their parents or orphaned by Russia’s war. […]

The scope of this massive forced population transfer is difficult to measure as even the Ukrainian government struggles to identify all those taken in the fog of war. The overall number of Ukrainians taken into Russia ranges from the hundreds of thousands to the millions, including at least 11,000 children whom the Ukrainian government has identified by name, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. On December 4, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman reported that up to 2.8 million Ukrainians had been forced to leave or forcibly deported into Russia, and shared a hotline for those trapped in Russia to contact. Many are being pressured into adopting Russian citizenship and signing contracts to remain working in Russia for years. […] The children separated from their families and adopted by Russians will be raised as Russian, with a new and radical education designed to erase their identity as Ukrainians, another iteration of Russia’s cultural genocide designed to erase Ukrainians as a people. […]

The Kremlin is unlikely to free the people it has taken out of goodwill. […] The most likely way Ukraine can ensure the return of its people is through undisputed victory on the battlefield, forcing Russia to return them at the negotiating table, perhaps through prisoner exchanges and in return for sanctions relief. […]

Thanks to Western support, Ukraine has shown it can continue to notch big wins over Russia and keep liberating more territory. These victories will keep piling the pressure on Putin. Should Ukraine succeed in its stated goal of liberating all of its territory and regaining its original 1991 borders, it will have an immensely strong hand at the bargaining table with Russia when discussing how to bring this conflict to a close. Speaking recently to the Group of 20 in Bali, Zelenskyy included the return of all prisoners of war and all forcibly deported Ukrainians as a condition for ending the conflict.

Relief from crushing sanctions and a return to the international community will be at the top of Russia’s list when navigating its way out of this war. Ukraine will rightfully be seeking significant reparations and accountability for Russia’s crimes. That negotiating table, with an unquestionably strong Ukrainian hand, may be the best place to liberate those Ukrainians who have been kidnapped and taken to Russia. […]

Russia’s new deportation program is another in a long line of terrible forced population transfers committed by the Kremlin, and it will go down as one of the worst crimes against humanity since the Second World War.

Even if Ukraine is able to coerce Russia into returning those it has taken, Moscow’s campaign to eradicate the national identity of its captives and turn them into Russians means that many will be lost in the system and may never come home. The best way to free as many as possible of the hundreds of thousands kidnapped by Russia is through Ukraine’s absolute victory—and making that victory swifter and sooner is something the United States and its allies have a say in

Red Cross visits POWs held by Russia and Ukraine, commends progress, Reuters reported Thursday. “The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) gained access to both Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war last week and more visits are planned in what it described in a Thursday statement as “important progress”.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Geneva-based body has reached hundreds of prisoners on both sides. But hitherto, that access has been “sporadic”, it said. My expectation is that these visits lead to more regular access to all prisoners of war, the statement cited ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric as saying.

While the recent visits are important progress, the ICRC must be granted unimpeded access to see all prisoners of war repeatedly and in private, wherever they are held, the ICRC statement also said. The right of the ICRC as an impartial humanitarian body to regularly visit prisoners of war is protected by the Third Geneva Convention to which both Russia and Ukraine are parties.”

Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance the UNHCR reports. As of 6 December:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 7,832,493
Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia 2,380,364
Other European countries 2,582,474
Russian Federation, Belarus 2,869,655
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 4,805,531
Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia 2,369,955
Other European countries 2,435,576
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 16,087,565
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 8,309,718

Environmental

Ukraine atomic agency says Russian forces abducted two nuclear plant staff, Reuters reports. “Ukraine’s atomic power agency accused Russian forces on Friday of abducting two senior Ukrainian staff at a Russian-occupied nuclear power station and detaining a third.

Energoatom said the two who were seized at the Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine were beaten before being driven off in an “unknown direction” on Thursday. It said the third worker, who was detained, was responsible for safety at the plant, which was captured by Russian troops soon after their Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine but is still operated by Ukrainian staff.”

Legal 

OHCHR published a report on summary executions and attacks on civilians in northern regions of Ukraine (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy) in the context of the RF armed attack against Ukraine. Extract from the report summary:

“As of 31 October 2022, OHCHR – through the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU)2 – had documented summary executions and attacks on individual civilians in 102 villages and towns of the three regions between 24 February and 6 April 2022. The acts in question were committed by Russian armed forces3 in control of these areas and led to the deaths of 441 civilians (341 men, 72 women, 20 boys and 8 girls). One hundred of those killings are analysed in this report and its Annex, as illustrative examples of the suffering borne by civilians in these areas.

Information available to OHCHR indicates that the total number of summary executions and lethal attacks directed against individual civilians by Russian armed forces in the three regions during the reporting period is likely considerably higher.”

Over 60% of missiles fired by Russia at Ukraine hit civilian targets – Zelensky, Ukrinform reports. “Of the total number of missiles fired by the Russian army on Ukraine since February 24, 62% were hit civilian targets. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this at the international conference “Human Rights in Dark Hours,” dedicated to the 74th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly.

The head of state said Russian crimes in Ukraine and against Ukrainians are unprecedented since the Second World War. Ukrainian cities and our towns, our villages, which the Russian artillery simply breaks into stones, not one, not two, but dozens of such destroyed towns and villages. Air terror, missile terror, attacks by the Russian Federation, which are so reminiscent of the Nazi bombardment of Britain – London. Of all the missiles fired by the Russian army since February 24, 62% targeted civilian objects. They targeted people. They targeted humanity, Zelensky said.

He also talked about the filtration camps created by the Russians in Ukraine, discovered torture camps and mass burial sites. He also mentioned the forced deportation of Ukrainians by the Russians.”

Over 390 educational institutions damaged and destroyed in enemy attacks on Ukraine since Sept 1, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Education and Science Minister, Serhii Shkarlet. “Over 390 educational institutions have been damaged and destroyed in Russian missile attacks on Ukraine since September 1, 2022.

Russian missile attacks have left over 390 educational institutions damaged and destroyed in these 100 days and over 2,800 – since the full-scale invasion started, Shkarlet wrote.”

US sanctions Russia over filtration operations, torture, other abuses in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing a US Department of the Treasury statement . “The US government has announced the introduction of sanctions against high-ranking representatives of the Russian government, as well as individuals involved in conducting filtration measures in occupied Ukraine, torture, forced relocation of children, conducting pseudo-referendums and other crimes.”

Parliament’s committee recommends passing draft law to ban ‘Moscow Patriarchate’, Ukrinform reports. “The Verkhovna Rada was recommended to pass at first reading draft law No. 8221 ‘On strengthening national security in the area of freedom of conscience and activities of religious organizations’,” Yevhenia Kravchuk, deputy head of the Committee, deputy head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, told Ukrinform in a comment.

The MP noted that the document bans the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church, religious organizations that are included in the structure of the Russian Orthodox Church directly or as components of another religious organization, as well as religious centers that are part of or recognize subordination to the Russian Orthodox Church in canonical, organizational, and other issues, in the territory of Ukraine. […]

As reported, Patriarch Kirill, Head of the Russian Orthodox Church, supported Russia’s aggression, saying, among other things, that Russian soldiers are fulfilling their “call” and “duty” to their homeland and society in the war against Ukraine, so their actions can be compared to “self-sacrifice”. According to Kirill, all sins of fallen Russian soldiers will be forgiven.

The Security Service of Ukraine has been lately conducting searches in churches belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). During the searches, pro-Russian literature, millions of cash in Russian rubles, and persons with Soviet documents are discovered.”

443 children were killed, 855 children injured, 13,112 deported by foe forces, and 327 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of December 4. 2,719 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 332 of them are destroyed fully. 52,388 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 18,493 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1601366584362164224

Biden authorizes new $275 million in military aid for Ukraine – White House, Reuters reports.  “U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday authorized fresh $275 million in military aid for Ukraine offering new capabilities to defeat drones and strengthen air defenses, according to a memo released by the White House.

The package also includes rockets for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers made by Lockheed Martin Corp, 80,000 155mm artillery rounds, Humvee military vehicles and about 150 generators, according to the memo. […] National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House that the equipment was “on its way.”

But details were scant on two systems, “counter air defense capability” and “Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems equipment,” which appear to be new capabilities for Ukraine.”

Germany plans to transfer 18 RCH 155 self-propelled artillery units, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “Germany plans to transfer 18 RCH 155 self-propelled artillery units, 80 pickup trucks, 2 hangar tents, and 7 trucks to Ukraine. 90 units of anti-drone equipment will also be delivered.

Over the past week, Ukraine received another 20 Dingo armoured vehicles and two M1070 Oshkosh heavy-duty semi-trucks. In total, Germany transferred 50 Dingo and 12 M1070 Oshkosh.”

Bulgaria to send its first military aid to Ukraine, Reuters reports. “Bulgaria will send its first military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion after parliament on Friday approved a list of arms drawn up by the interim government. It had been one of the few EU countries not to send aid after the Russia-friendly Socialist party, a coalition partner in the previous government, blocked a previous proposal in May.

The list of arms is classified, but government officials have said Sofia would mainly send light weaponry and ammunition. Caretaker defence minister Dimitar Stoyanov said Bulgaria, a NATO member, could not afford to send its Russian-made anti-aircraft missile systems or MIG-19 and SU-25 fighter jets, which Kyiv wants.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1601249995277053952

Germany has not made a decision on Leopard 2 for Ukraine, European Pravda reports, citing the First Deputy Spokesperson of the Federal Government, Christine Hoffmann. “Germany continues negotiations with Washington and other partners regarding tank supply to Ukraine but has not yet made a decision on Leopard 2.

Everyone knows our principle: we do not want and will not supply tanks individually, but only in cooperation, Hoffmann said and reminded that none of the NATO countries or partners has yet provided [modern, Western] battle tanks for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Minister Marchenko: Now is not the time to postpone any support to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “It’s not charity to support Ukraine. We are trying to protect freedom and democracy of all the civilized world,” Minister of Finance of Ukraine Serhiy Marchenko told The Associated Press in an interview. Marchenko said financial support for Ukraine is tiny compared to what developed countries spent to combat emergencies like the global financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Total aid committed to Ukraine reached 113 billion euros as of this week, according to data compiled by the Ukraine Support Tracker at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, AP notes.

Now is not the time to postpone any support, to just be tired of Ukraine and Ukraine’s problems … because the next time, you realized that without Ukraine, Russia will come closer to the European border. It’s about self-preservation, it’s self-protection — this should be in the minds of EU citizens, Marchenko added.”

Slovakia plans to resume production of 120- and 155-mm shells for Ukraine – Foreign Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday.  “Slovak Foreign Minister Rastislav Káčer has announced that his state will consider resuming the production of ammunition for the needs of Ukraine. Káčer said this at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during a visit to Kyiv, European Pravda reports. […]

Earlier, the Slovak Foreign Minister announced the approval of a new package of military assistance for Ukraine, which includes large-calibre ammunition, including for fighter jets, warm clothes and other equipment. […]

According to The New York Times, NATO is discussing the possibility of investing in old factories in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria to restart the manufacturing of Soviet-calibre 152-mm and 122-mm shells for Ukraine’s still largely Soviet-era artillery armoury.

These discussions come against the backdrop of reports of a growing shortage of weapons that Western powers can transfer to Ukraine; after all, the parties to the war are using weapons and ammunition at a pace unprecedented since the Second World War.”

Army plans ‘dramatic’ ammo production boost as Ukraine drains stocks, Defense News reports. “As donations to Ukraine strain allied munitions stockpiles, the US Army is seeking a “dramatic” ramp up in monthly production of 155mm artillery shells over the next three years, its chief weapons buyer said Saturday. […] .

Funding is already in place, contracts are underway to basically triple 155mm production,” [Doug Bush, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, technology and logistics,] told Defense News […]. There’s funding on the Hill, in the supplemental, to more than double that again. That would take a period of years. […] Army Secretary Christine Wormuth separately told reporters that the US will go from making 14,000 155mm shells each month to 20,000 by the spring and 40,000 by 2025. […]

The push comes as the US has supplied Ukraine with more than 1 million artillery rounds, and as Pentagon officials see the war in Ukraine continuing indefinitely, further draining stocks for the US and allies. Bush said it’s unclear what the Ukrainian military’s mid- and long-term needs will be, and the US Army wants to be ready.

We are in a position to support Ukraine, but it’s more the mid and long term, Bush said. By creating this capacity … if this war goes three or four years, we’ll be in a position to just vastly outproduce the Russians all by ourselves ― and if you combine that with our allies, then we’re just dwarfing their capability. They won’t be able to keep up.

Beyond artillery shells, Bush said he is pushing to double production for the most in-demand precision munitions for Ukraine: Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System rounds for the Lockheed Martin-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and Javelins, the portable anti-tank weapon jointly made by Lockheed and Raytheon Technologies. […]

At the conference, Raytheon’s chief executive, Greg Hayes, said that the war’s consumption rates so far have vastly outstripped industrial capacity. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, donation efforts have used up five years of Javelin production and 13 years of production for portable anti-aircraft Stinger systems, he said.”

Estonia, the Netherlands, and Norway donate a deployable Role 2 field hospital to Ukraine, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “The field hospital will be provided by the Estonian Defence Forces. Norway and the Netherlands will contribute funds to make the field hospital available to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The trilateral cooperation will also include the procurement of container trucks and trailers, sanitary, storage and accommodation modules, and medical supplies for an upgrade of the Role 2 field hospital that will be donated to Ukraine. The training of the Ukrainian medical forces on the use of the field hospital will be conducted by Ukrainian and Estonian experts with the support of the Netherlands.

The package amounts to 7.8 million euros, out of which 4.3 million euros will be contributed by Norway and 3.5 million euros by the Netherlands.”

Norway allocating NOK 1B to repair Ukraine’s damaged infrastructure, Ukrinform reports, citing a press release  published on the website of the Government of Norway . “The Government of Norway has signed an agreement with the World Bank to provide NOK 1 billion for the restoration of Ukraine infrastructure damaged in Russian missile attacks.”

New Developments 

“Operation demoralization”: Russian Telegram channel network tells Ukrainians they will freeze

  1. If Russia feels backed into a corner, it has only itself to blame – Zelensky, UkrinformUkraine and the free world should not change their goals and make compromises to please the Russian aggressor. If Russia feels backed into a corner, it has only itself to blame. Ukraine and the free world should definitely not change their goals and exchange their values for some compromises if the dictatorship is afraid to admit a mistake and tempts with a break in their battles. We must fully protect freedom and guarantee the security of our democracy, [President] Zelensky said. He added that whoever started an unprovoked and criminal war must lose and bear responsibility and that Ukraine and the world must receive guarantees of peace, stability and security.”
  2. Russia convenes UN Security Council over Western arms supplies to Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaRussia initiated the convening of the UN Security Council on 9 December to discuss the supply of weapons to Ukraine by the West. The meeting will be held on Friday at 15:00 EST (22:00 Kyiv time).”
  3. Erdoğan Announced New Talks With Zelenskyy and Putin, European Pravda reports, citing Anadolu. “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced new negotiations with the presidents of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. […] He also noted that the war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine is associated with serious political, economic, and humanitarian damage to the entire world. According to him, Türkiye firmly supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. At the same time, Türkiye opposed inciting contradictions in the region through “unthinkable policies towards the Russian Federation,” Erdogan said.”
  4. Kremlin states that Russia might end war “even tomorrow”, but there is a condition, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday, citing RIA Novosti. “Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary of the aggressor country’s president, has stated that Russia could end the war in Ukraine at the will of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. At the same time, Peskov said that the Russian troops want to retake the territories liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, because Russians consider them “occupied“.”
  5. Ambassador Brink: USA, G7 countries support Zelensky’s peace plan, UkrinformNow it is very clear who is on the side of peace and who is on the side of war. President Zelensky spoke about the peace plan which consists of 10 points. We, the United States and G7 countries, support this plan because we believe it could be a potential plan to end the war. Just this Monday, Russia again fired 70 missiles at Ukrainian cities. Now it is absolutely clear that the Russians do not want to end the war. The US supports peace. The peace that was proposed in Zelensky’s plan, US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink told Channel 24 in an interview.”
  6. Putin says loss of trust in West will make future Ukraine talks harder, ReutersPresident Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia’s near-total loss of trust in the West would make an eventual settlement over Ukraine much harder to reach, although contacts between Russian and US intelligence services were at least continuing. Since suffering a series of battlefield reverses, Putin has increasingly cast his more than nine-month-old invasion of Ukraine as a fight to defend Russia against an aggressive collective West“. [Hans Petter Midttun: The statement is a flagrant attempt to mirror Russian actions on the West. The notion that the West is the problem is absurd. NATO didn’t invade Georgia. NATO didn’t invade Ukraine. NATO didn’t start a Hybrid War in Europe. NATO didn’t trigger the biggest refugee crisis since World War 2. NATO didn’t infringe on independent countries’ right to choose governance, security arrangements or alliances. NATO didn’t weaponize global food supplies. Russia did. The West cannot trust Putin or Russia.]
  7. Putin explains why he is destroying Ukrainian energy system: it is revenge, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday, citing RIA Novosti. “Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has admitted that Russia is destroying Ukrainian energy facilities and leaving millions of Ukrainians without communications (electricity, heating, and water) because Ukraine had allegedly blown up the Crimean Bridge. Yes, we are doing it. But who started it? Who hit the Crimean Bridge? Who blew up the power line from the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant? And who did not supply water to Donetsk?“.
  8. Scholz: Risk of Russia using nuclear weapons has diminished, for now, Reuters reported Thursday. “The risk of Russian President Vladimir President Putin using nuclear weapons as part of his war in Ukraine has decreased in response to international pressure, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published on Thursday. The war was continuing with “undiminished brutality” though, for now, one thing had changed, Scholz told Funke media in an interview to mark his first year in office. Russia has stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons. As a reaction to the international community marking a red line.”
  9. Russia is expanding its nuclear arsenal, US defense secretary says, Reuters reports. “Russia is expanding and modernizing its nuclear arsenal, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin, faced with setbacks in Ukraine, has repeatedly suggested he could use nuclear weapons. Austin’s comments are in line with a recent Pentagon policy document on nuclear arms. Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with close to 6,000 warheads, according to experts.”
  10. Putin suggests adding preventive nuclear strike to Russian military doctrine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has claimed that he does not rule out adding the concept of preventive nuclear strike to the Russian military doctrine.
  11. Belarus to allow Ukraine grain transit with no preconditions – U.N., ReutersBelarus told the United Nations on Friday that it would allow, without preconditions, the transit of grain from Ukraine through its territory for export from Lithuanian ports, a U.N. spokesman said. Belarus, used by its ally Russia as a staging ground for Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, said in June that it would let Ukrainian grain go via the country to Baltic Sea ports, if Belarus was allowed to ship its goods from the ports as well. Ukraine did not agree to the proposal.”
  12. Putin says Russia could cut oil production over ‘stupid’ price cap, ReutersRussia, the world’s biggest exporter of energy, could cut oil production and will refuse to sell oil to any country that imposes the West’s “stupid” price cap on Russian oil, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. The Group of Seven major powers, the European Union and Australia last week agreed to a $60 per barrel price capon Russian seaborne crude oil.”
  13. Russian oppositionist Ilya Yashin sentenced to 8½ years in prison for “fake news” about Russian Armed Forces, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. “The case against Yashin was brought because of a live-streamed video in which he spoke about the killing of civilians in Bucha (Kyiv Oblast) during the Russian occupation. According to the prosecution, the politician spread “deliberately false information” for motives of political hatred, although he “knew” that Russia was taking measures to maintain peace and security“.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  December 8, 2022:

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to discuss negotiations with Ukraine as a means of separating Ukraine from its Western supporters by portraying Kyiv as unwilling to compromise or even to engage in serious talks. During a news conference at the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on December 9, Putin clarified his December 7 statements wherein he suggested that Russia was preparing for a “lengthy” war and stated that he meant the settlement process would be protracted. Putin emphasized that the settlement process will be challenging and take time, and that all participants will need to agree with realities on the ground in Ukraine (by which he presumably means recognizing Russian control of any territories it has annexed), but that at the end of the day, Russia is open to negotiations. Putin also criticized statements made by former German chancellor Angela Merkel that the 2014 Minsk Agreements were an attempt to “buy time for Ukraine” and accused Merkel and the West of propagating distrust in negotiating future settlements. Putin remarked that based on this understanding of the Minsk Agreements, perhaps Russia should have begun military operations earlier. [Hans Petter Midttun: They did begin military operations earlier. The military operation started 20 February 2014. The first Minsk Agreement was signed 5 September the same year “under the threat of a gun”.] Despite the constant employment of adversarial rhetoric regarding the settlement process, Putin continued to claim that Russia remains open to the possibility of negotiations.

Putin has consistently weaponized invocations of the negotiation process to isolate Ukraine from partner support by framing Ukraine as refusing concessions and likely seeks to use any ceasefire and negotiation window to allow Russian troops time to reconstitute and relaunch operations, thus depriving Ukraine of the initiative. A ceasefire agreement that occurs soon enough to allow Russian forces to rest and refit this winter is extremely unlikely, however. Negotiating a protracted, theater-wide ceasefire takes time. Russia and Ukraine are extremely far apart on the terms of any such agreement, and it is almost impossible to imagine a ceasefire being agreed to, let alone implemented, for some months, which would deprive Russia of the opportunity to pause Ukrainian winter counter-offensives and reset before spring.

Putin may be overly optimistic about the prospects for a more immediate cessation of hostilities, but that is also unlikely given his rhetoric as well as statements by Ukrainian leaders and the West, of which he is well aware. It is more likely that Putin is fanning discussions of a ceasefire primarily as part of an information operation designed to expand cleavages between Ukraine and its backers by portraying Kyiv as unwilling to talk. Putin is likely secondarily setting conditions for actual negotiations sometime in 2023, presumably after Russian forces have secured more of the territory he claims to have annexed.

Putin’s positioning in the Russian information space continues to oscillate between supporting the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and backing the nationalist and pro-war milblogger community. Putin stated that the Russian MoD “behaves transparently” and properly reflects the “stable” progress of the “special military operation” in its daily reports. Putin, however, then proceeded to undermine the Russian MoD when responding to a question about persistent problems with supplying the army and mobilization, noting that the Russian MoD informed him that the Russian Armed Forces has solved most of its debilitating issues. Putin also told journalists: “You cannot trust anyone. You can only trust me,” when responding to a question about whether Russians should trust Russian MoD or sources operating on the frontlines. Putin’s statements seemingly indicate that he is distancing himself from the milblogger community, which largely reports or obtains information from the frontlines. Putin’s statement on the transparency of the Russian MoD briefs—which the Russian milblogger community heavily criticizes for its inaccuracies and censorship—may aim to blunt such critiques or could be an effort to deflect the blame for military failures in Ukraine onto the Russian MoD, or both.

Putin likely attempts to preserve the position he has tried to occupy throughout his reign, in which he is seemingly aware of all Russian problems while not being directly responsible for them. Putin has long established the Russian MoD as a scapegoat for his failures, but the quasi-official milblogger community may pose a threat to his pretense of ignorance of problems. Putin remains in a predicament in which he relies on the support of the nationalist community to rally support behind his war in Ukraine but must also mitigate the risk of angering the nationalists by failing to deliver their unrealistic and unattainable visions for the Russian military campaign. Putin, thus, needs to continue to play the part of the ultimate arbiter of the truth to manage the prominence of the quasi-official sources while simultaneously appealing to them in critiquing his very own security institutions. He remains unlikely to shut down the independent milblogger community but equally unlikely to commit fully to supporting it or pursuing its preferred extremist courses of action.

An independent open-source investigation by BBC’s Russia service and independent Russia outlet Mediazona offered a series of observations on the nature of losses suffered by Russian troops in Ukraine. The BBC confirmed the deaths of 10,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine based on open-source records and noted that over 400 of the deceased were soldiers called up by partial mobilization. This number notably does not encapsulate the actual scale of Russian losses in Ukraine and reflects only those whose deaths are confirmable in the open source. The BBC investigation found that Russia’s Krasnodar Krai had the highest number of confirmed losses (428 dead), followed by Dagestan (363 dead), and Buryatia (356 dead). In comparison, BBC only found 54 confirmed deaths from Moscow, which by itself makes up 9% of the population of Russia. BBC concluded that although citizens of national Republics (such as Dagestan, Buryatia, Altai, and Bashkortostan) are sent to the front and die in combat at higher rates than citizens of ethnically Russian regions, in absolute terms, ethnic Russians comprise the majority of Russian military deaths, and their proportion of the military dead is approximately equal to their proportion in the overall Russian population. BBC concluded that this finding suggests that discrepancies in Russian force generation efforts therefore fall along regional and territorial lines as opposed to predominantly ethnic lines and noted that military service is seen as the only lifeline in regions on Russia‘s economic periphery where social mobility is greatly restrained. As ISW has previously observed, the impacts of force generation have been firmly siloed on a regional basis, which further breaks down along overlapping ethnic and socioeconomic lines. The BBC investigation partially contradicts ISW’s previous assessments that the Kremlin was attempting to shield the ethnic Russian population from the war by drawing disproportionately on minority regions. ISW has no basis for questioning this conclusion.

The BBC investigation also found that both elite units and officers have suffered substantial losses in Ukraine. The BBC reported that the Special Forces of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU Spetznaz) has suffered 250 confirmed losses, nearly 25% of whom were officers, which in the case of some individual Spetsnaz units exceeds cumulative losses over 10 years of Russian operations in Chechnya. The BBC additionally identified 1,509 confirmed officer deaths- or 15% of the 10,002 identified losses. The losses accrued by elite units and the Russian officer cadre will have significant and generational ramifications for the Russian military.

Russian officials continue efforts to place legislative controls on domestic dissent. Independent Russian outlet Meduza reported on December 9 that Russian State Duma deputies proposed a bill introducing new crimes and charges related to financing, inducing, recruiting, training for, organizing, or engaging in sabotage activities. In all cases, except for complicity in sabotage, the proposed law introduces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Life imprisonment is currently the maximum sentence only in the case of deaths resulting from sabotage actions. As ISW has recently reported, Russian officials have been taking similar measures to expand legislative oversight of domestic affairs in an attempt to further stifle domestic dissent. The Russian Ministry of Justice, for example, expanded the list of “individual foreign agents” on November 27, and Russian media began reporting that the Russian government is taking steps to broaden the definition of foreign agents, as well as imposing additional restrictions on the activities and movements of those deemed to be foreign agents. Such legislative efforts suggest that the Kremlin continues to fear domestic friction resulting from the effects of its conduct of the war in Ukraine.

Senior US officials stated that Russia is providing an unprecedented level of military and technical support to Iran in exchange for Iranian-made weapons systems. NBC News reported on December 9 that senior US presidential administration officials stated that Russia may be providing Iran with advanced military equipment and components, including helicopters and air defence systems, in exchange for Iranian-made high-precision weapons systems that Russia has used and intends to use in the war in Ukraine. The officials specified that Russia may send Iran Su-35 aircraft within the next year and that Russia is possibly seeking to establish a joint Russian Iranian production line for drone systems in the Russian Federation. US intelligence officials stated on November 19 that Russian and Iranian officials finalized a deal in early November to manufacture Iranian drones on Russian territory. A Russian milblogger claimed on December 9 that air traffic monitors show that Iranian Air Force cargo planes resumed flights to Moscow on December 8 following a short break in such flights. ISW assessed that Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin met with Iranian Armed Forces General Staff Chief General Mohammad Bagheri in Tehran on December 3, likely to further discuss the sale of Iranian drones and missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine. ISW has previously assessed that the Russian military is increasingly reliant on Iranian-made weapons systems due to the depletion of its arsenal of high-precision weapons systems.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to discuss negotiations with Ukraine as a means of separating Ukraine from its Western supporters by portraying Kyiv as unwilling to compromise or even to talk seriously.
  • Putin’s positioning in the Russian information space continues to oscillate between supporting the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and backing the nationalist and pro-war milblogger community.
  • An independent open-source investigation by the BBC’s Russia service and independent Russia outlet Mediazona found that members of Russian national Republics deploy to Ukraine at disproportionately higher rates than ethnically Russian oblasts, but that ethnic Russians are dying at a rate proportional to their representation in the Russian Federation population, contrary to previous ISW assessments.
  • Russian officials strengthened existing legislation to stifle domestic dissent.
  • Senior US officials stated that Russia is providing an unprecedented level of military and technical support to Iran in exchange for Iranian-made weapons systems.
  • Russian forces established defensive lines near Svatove, and Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks near Kreminna.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
  • Russian forces may have established positions on an island west of Kherson City in the Dnipro River.
  • Ukrainian forces’ interdiction campaign against Russian military assets and logistics hubs in southern Ukraine has likely degraded Russian forces, their logistics lines, and broader Russian morale.
  • Putin doubled down on claims that Russia will not conduct a second wave of mobilization amidst persistent concerns within Russian society.

Russian occupation authorities continued to strengthen physical, legal, and social control over occupied territories.

Kremlin: Russia plans to ‘liberate’ parts of Ukraine that Moscow annexed, Reuters reported Thursday. “The Kremlin said on Thursday that its forces are still set on seizing parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that Moscow has claimed as its own. However, the Kremlin has not fully defined the goals of its military campaign, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to set a limit on the Ukrainian territory that Russia now sought to incorporate as its own.

Moscow proclaimed that it had annexed four provinces of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – after holding so-called referendums in September that were rejected as bogus and illegal by Kyiv, the West and a majority of countries at the United Nations.

None of the provinces were fully under Russian control, and Moscow left unclear was how much of them it was annexing. Asked on Thursday whether Russia planned to incorporate any more territories beyond the four regions, Peskov said: There is no question of that. At least, there have been no statements in this regard. But there is nevertheless a lot of work ahead to liberate the territories; in a number of new regions of the Russian Federation there are “occupied territories that have to be liberated”. I mean part of the Donetsk Republic, as well as what became part of the Russian Federation, and then was “re-occupied by Ukrainian troops”.”

Head of Luhansk Oblast predicts Ukraine will regain territory up to the 2014 line of contact by the end of winter and liberate entire Luhansk Oblast in 2023, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday. “The head of the Luhansk Oblast, Serhii Haidai, is convinced that by the end of winter, the Defense Forces in the Luhansk Oblast can reach the contact line of 2014 and liberate the entire Oblast during 2023.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

France strains to avert power cuts as cold snap tests Europe’s energy resolve, Reuters reports. “France expects to avoid electricity cuts on Monday but faces a difficult week as the first cold snap of the winter tests Europe’s resolve to save energy and mitigate the economic impact of the Ukraine war. Leaders across the region have said eveyone needs to get serious about using less fuel after unusually mild weather until now had made the task relatively easy.

Although Europe’s gas storage is almost 90% full after concerted efforts following the disruption of Russian supplies linked to its invasion of Ukraine, a series of nuclear outages, especially in France, are adding to nervousness of outages. […] The country is in focus as corrosion has taken a record number of reactors out of action, reducing its nuclear output to a 30-year low. […]

Energy prices, which have hit record levels this year, surged on Friday in response to nervousness demand would outstrip supply, before easing in later trade. France is one of the most nuclear-power dependent countries and typically generates more than 70% of its electricity from its fleet of 56 reactors as well as providing about 15% of Europe’s total power through exports. The government, which has warned power cuts could happen this winter, said any outages would not exceed two hours and would be flagged ahead of time.

Elsewhere in Europe, Finland’s national grid operator Fingrid said the risk of power outages on winter days had increased in the country following another postponement of the start-up of the new Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power reactor.

In neighbouring Sweden, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference: “Many Swedes have saved electricity for purely cost reasons. Now we want to ask the Swedish people to save electricity also to reduce the risk of power cuts.”

Meanwhile, Belgium’s natural gas supply could be at risk this winter in the event of a cold wave, Belgian newspaper De Tijd reported on Friday citing a leaked government-ordered report.”

Ukraine’s GDP will fall deeper than expected – central bank deputy governor, Reuters reports. “Ukraine’s GDP will fall deeper than expected this year because of Russian air strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure, central bank deputy governor Serhiy Nikolaychuk said on Thursday.

The fall in GDP will be deeper this year than we had expected in October, he told a news briefing. Next year the economic recovery will be very lethargic and much lower than we had expected.”

 

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

President Putin has allegedly been disappointed by the statement of Angela Merkel, where she claimed that the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 enabled Ukraine to prepare for the war with Russia.

The former Chancellor recently said that the Minsk Agreements, signed in 2014, had given Ukraine “precious time” to become stronger, and the results of this could now be seen. She emphasised that Ukraine in 2014-2015 was very different from Ukraine today.”

The response from the Kremlin-controlled “media” (not to be confused with a free, independent press) was predictable. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova argued that the “confession” by Merkel “says the horrible: fraud as modus operandi of the West – machinations, manipulations, all kinds of distortion of truth, law and justice imaginable.”

There is a lot to be said about both the statement of Angela Merkel and Maria Zakharova.

Merkel’s statement is not incorrect, but highly selective in its presentation of the facts. Defending her legacy, she leaves out several crucial important information that undermines her alleged “good intentions” at the time. The statement of Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, is, however, particularly repulsive.”

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