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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 296: The largest energy company in Ukraine disconnected from power grid

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

The largest energy industry company in Ukraine disconnected from the power grid after another Russian attack. European Council agrees to allocate EUR€18 billion aid for Ukraine despite Poland’s block. European Parliament Recognises Holodomor as Genocide of Ukrainian People.

Daily overview — Summary report, December 16

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, December 16, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. December 15, 2022. Source: ISW.


“[Russian forces continue to focus their efforts on conducting offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. It is trying to improve the tactical position in the Lyman direction, and in the Kupiansk and Zaporizhzhia directions – they are building up the group. In other directions, Russian forces are concentrating their efforts on restraining the actions of units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, shelling the positions of our troops and civilian objects along the contact line.]

Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Ploshanka, Chervonpopivka, and Bilogorivka of the Luhansk region and Hryhorivka, Vyimka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Andriivka, Kurdyumivka, Ozaryanivka, Druzhba, Oleksandropil, Novobakhmutivka, Nevelske, Mariinka, Pobieda and Novomykhailivka in Donetsk region.

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have carried out 23 air strikes and 4 missile strikes, 2 of which hit civilian objects in the city of Kharkiv. Also, Russian forces launched 78 MLRS. In particular, in residential quarters, there are casualties among the civilian population.

In the Volyn, Polissya, and Siverskyi directions, the situation has not changed significantly, and no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups have been detected. The settlements of Zapsilya and Popivka of the Sumy region were hit by mortar attacks. [The formation of the aviation group and units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Republic of Belarus continues.]

Kharkiv Battle Map. December 15, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • In the Slobozhanskui direction, Russian forces fired tanks and artillery at the areas of Chervona Zorya, Visoka Yaruga, Krasne, Morokhovets, Staritsa, Dvorichna and Novomlynsk settlements in the Kharkiv region.
  • In the Kupiansk direction, Russian forces fired from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS in the areas of the settlements of Vilshan, Ivanivka, Kislivka, Tabaivka, Kotlyarivka, Berestov, Pershotravneve in the Kharkiv region, and Stelmakhivka and Myasozharivka in the Luhansk region.
  • In the Lyman direction, Russian forces shelled the districts of Makiyivka, Ploshanka, Chervonopivka of the Luhansk region, and Yampolivka, Torsky, and Vedmezhy of the Donetsk region.
Donetsk Battle Map. December 15, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • In the Bakhmut direction, Russian forces fired at areas of populated areas. In particular, these are Verkhnokamyanske, Spirne, Bilogorivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Hryhorivka, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Andriivka, Kurdyumivka, Ozaryanivka, Severnye and Opytne of the Donetsk region. Avdiivka, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, Krasnohorivka, Georgiivka, Mariinka and Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region were affected in the Avdiivka region.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. December 15, 2022. Source: ISW.
  • In the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions, Russian forces fired tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS in the areas of Vremivka and Novopil settlements of the Donetsk region; Gulyaipole, Dorozhnyanka, Gulyaipilske, Orihiv and Kamianske in Zaporizhzhia; Marganets and Nikopol of Dnipropetrovsk region and Novotyaginka, Ivanivka, Tokarivka, Ingulets, Prydniprovske, Antonivka, Dniprovske, Kherson, Bilozerka and Yantarne of Kherson region.

According to detailed information, on December 14, the Defence Forces destroyed up to 10 units of military equipment of various types in the Tokmak settlement of the Zaporizhzhia region. About 180 enemy servicemen were wounded. Up to 30 occupiers were destroyed in Lazurny, Kherson region. In addition, the work of Russian mobile crematoria in the city of Tokmak is noted.

[Russian forces continue to suffer losses. Thus, on December 13, in the areas of Tokmak, Polohy and Berdiansk settlements of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, the Defense Forces destroyed two enemy ammunition depots, two artillery systems with ammunition, as well as six units of military equipment of various types. More than 200 enemy servicemen were wounded.]

[In connection with the overflow of medical facilitiesand morguesin the city of Melitopol, the Russian invaders are transporting corpses and evacuating wounded servicemen to the temporarily occupied Crimea.]

[In order to replenish the current losses, the invaders are forced to supplement the operational-tactical command level with retired officers, released to the reserve, and even retired officers. They are sent to the area of hostilities.]

In order to replenish the current losses of the occupiers, the campaign of conscripts for contract service continues. In particular, such processes are ongoing in the units of the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District.

During the past day, the aviation of the Defence Forces made 22 strikes on the areas of concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment and 3 strikes on the positions of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems.

Our defenders also shot down two Orlan-10 UAVs.

Units of missile forces and artillery of the Defense Forces of Ukraine hit 5 control points, 4 areas where enemy personnel are concentrated, 6 artillery positions, 2 ammunition warehouses, and a fuel and lubricant warehouse.


Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia fires more than 70 missiles at Ukraine in an hour, Ukrainska Pravda reports this morning. “Russia launched a new massive strike on the territory of Ukraine on the morning of 16 December, firing 72 missiles alone before 09:00.”

Emergency power outages are being introduced across Ukraine due to Russian missiles damaging energy facilities in several oblasts of the country.”

Ukrainian defenders advance almost 1.5 km near the village of Dibrova, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Ukrainian defenders have advanced almost 1.5 km in the area of the village of Dibrova, Luhansk Oblast.”

Russia deploys ship armed with Kalibr missiles in the Black Sea again, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “Ten Russian ships are on combat duty in the Black Sea, including one carrier of Kalibr cruise missiles with a total firing capacity of eight missiles. According to the Navy, before that, the Russian Kalibrs were not present in the Black Sea for six days in a row.

In addition, the Russians have two vessels in the Sea of Azov and nine in the Mediterranean Sea, including five carriers of Kalibr cruise missiles with a total firing capacity of 72 missiles.”

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

  • As shown by imagery, in recent weeks, Russian forces have continued to expend considerable effort to construct extensive defensive positions along the front line. They have likely prioritised the northern sector around the town of Svatove.
  • The Russian constructions follow traditional military plans for entrenchment, largely unchanged since the Second World War. Such constructions are likely to be vulnerable to modern, precision indirect strikes.
  • The construction of major defensive lines is further illustration of Russia’s reversion to positional warfare that has been largely abandoned by most modern Western militaries in recent decades.
  • On 13 December 2022, Belarus carried out a snap combat readiness inspection of its forces. The exercises are reportedly taking place in the north-west of the country, away from the Ukrainian border. In addition, Russia has recently deployed extra units of mobilised reservists to Belarus.
  • Belarus played a key enabling role in Russia’s assault towards Kyiv from 24 February 2022. However, the exercising Belarusian troops and Russian units are currently unlikely to constitute a force capable of conducting a successful new assault into northern Ukraine.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Friday 16 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 97270 (+680),
  • Tanks – 2980 (+5),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5952 (+6),
  • Artillery systems – 1946 (+3),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 410 (+4),
  • Air defence means – 211 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 281 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 264 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4563 (+0),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1648 (+4),
  • Special equipment – 172 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 592 (+0)

Zaluzhnyi about Russian troops Commander: Ordinary commander of Peter I era, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Economist. “Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, expressed his opinion about Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russian troops in Ukraine: he is a typical commander of the Peter I era.

With all due respect to Mr Surovikin, if you look at him, he is an ordinary commander of the times of Peter I, let’s say, a regular derzhimorda [a brutal martinet in Hohol’s “The Government Inspector” – ed.]. You look at him and understand that either you fulfil the task or you are done. And a long time ago, we understood that this approach does not work.”

Russian defector says training consisted of being given a weapon, a target and 5,000 bullets, Insider reports. “A Russian defector who is now in Europe said his unit was given almost no training before it was sent to fight in Ukraine, which left soldiers broken after they experienced the front lines. Nikita Chibrin told CNN that the training his unit received was just a commander giving soldiers a weapon, a target, and 5,000 bullets. No one was doing anything. There was no actual training, he said.

Chibrin told CNN that some of the men in his unit had bragged about how good they would be at fighting in Ukraine, saying they would be “like Rambo,” but they were then broken when they came back from being deployed. Those who said they’d be shooting Ukrainians easily when they come back from the front lines … they could not even speak to me. They saw the war, they saw defeat, saw their [fellow] combatants being murdered, saw corpses.

Chibrin was sent to Ukraine early in the war, and reports suggest that Russia’s training for many soldiers has only reduced since then, as it has had to call up reservists to fight. Reports and intelligence assessments have suggested that Russia is giving only minimal training and poor equipment to many of its soldiers. In September, UK intelligence predicted that new troops would suffer heavily, because of how little training they received. […]

Chibrin deserted the military in September. He is now requesting asylum in a European city, CNN reported, without naming his current whereabouts. Chibrin told CNN that he was part of the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, which has been linked to alleged war crimes in Bucha.

He said that men in his unit raped two women in Ukraine, a mother and daughter and that commanders shrugged when they learned and that the soldiers were beaten and sent home, but not jailed. He also said that his unit included some men who were maniacs who enjoy killing. Chibrin said he did not commit any crimes himself and said he did not witness any murders.”

Russia is replenishing their losses at the expense of labour migrants from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff, Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said. “In order to find additional sources of recovery for the loss of personnel of units conducting combat operations on the territory of Ukraine, in November of this year, the Russian leadership adopted a number of legislative acts that significantly expand the list of citizens who can be called up for military service.

In particular, it is allowed to call up convicted citizens who are serving a sentence or have an unexpunged or unexpired criminal record for military service, said Oleksiy Gromov. Only citizens convicted under a certain list of articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, primarily convicted of treason, espionage, terrorism, etc., are not subject to the law. Instead, it is allowed to summon persons who have committed serious crimes.

In addition, according to Oleksiy Gromov, in peacetime in Russia, one is allowed to serve in the military for persons with dual citizenship. The specified changes are primarily aimed at attracting labour migrants residing on the territory of the Russian Federation to military service […]. He said that currently there are about 6 million people in Russia, the majority of whom are from Uzbekistan (almost 50%) and Tajikistan (30%), as well as Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and other countries.

Out of the total number of migrants, about 2.7 million people, which is almost 45%, are men of conscription age, noted Brigadier General Gromov.

Oleksiy Gromov also reported that another wave of forced mobilization is underway in the temporarily occupied territory of the Luhansk region. Last week the personnel of the units of the so-called National Guard carried out measures to search for male persons in the settlement of Rovenki for their subsequent conscription into the ranks of the 2nd Army Corps of the Russian occupation forces,  said Oleksiy Gromov. It is noteworthy that during this process, all exits and entrances to the city were blocked.

Russia is able to use UAVs in any weather conditions, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Researchers of the Centre are conducting a study on the technical characteristics of unmanned aerial vehicles. The results of these studies show that there are no restrictions [for UAVs– ed.] to fly in any weather conditions. […]

According to [Colonel Oleksandr] Zaruba, as for any aircraft, there are certain limitations, and when the UAV passes through certain layers of the atmosphere, the UAV can freeze over or become otherwise unable to perform its task. However, Ukrainian experts have seen special devices in some samples of UAVs that can heat up the external sensors.”

10 Ukrainian generals fired since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, and one more shot himself, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Economist. “It is always possible to be normal. To be normal means to remain human in any situation, that is the most important thing. (…) Since the start of the war, I fired ten of them [generals] because they were not up to it. Another one shot himself, [Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said].”


Almost seven million children in Ukraine are at risk as attacks on energy infrastructure cause widespread blackouts and disruption of heating and water, UNICEF reports. “Continuing attacks on critical energy infrastructure in Ukraine have left almost every child in Ukraine – nearly seven million children – without sustained access to electricity, heating and water, putting them at increased risk as temperatures continue to drop and winter deepens, UNICEF warned today.

Without electricity, children are not only facing extreme cold – winter temperatures can drop below -20°C – but are also unable to continue the online learning opportunities which are many children’s only access to education, with so many schools damaged or destroyed. Additionally, health facilities may be unable to provide critical services, and malfunctioning water systems raise the already extremely high risks of pneumonia, seasonal influenza, waterborne diseases and COVID-19.

Millions of children are facing a bleak winter huddled in the cold and the dark, with little idea of how or when respite may arrive,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Beyond the immediate threats the freezing conditions bring, children are also deprived of the ability to learn or stay connected with friends and family, putting both their physical and their mental health at desperate risk.”

Intensified attacks in October destroyed 40 percent of Ukraine’s power production, further exposing families to harsh winter conditions, impacting livelihoods, and increasing the likelihood of additional large population movements. […]

The harsh winter, combined with a loss of income and the energy and socioeconomic crisis triggered by the war are devastating to the well-being of children and families. Families’ incomes and access to services have been decimated by the destruction of infrastructure in the almost 10 months since the war escalated. The situation is especially acute for the 6.5 million people, including 1.2 million children, who are currently displaced within Ukraine.”

DTEK energy facility is disconnected from the power grid due to another attack, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing DTEK. The Russian invaders launched another massive attack on the energy company DTEK Energo [the largest private investor in the energy industry in Ukraine] on Thursday, 15 December. The attack resulted in the disconnection of the energy facility from the power grid.


The International Atomic Energy Agency will establish a continuous presence at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, IAEA reports. “Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal have agreed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will establish a continuous presence of nuclear safety and security experts at all of the country’s nuclear power plants as part of stepped-up efforts to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict.

During a two-hour meeting in Paris that ended early on Tuesday morning, Director General Grossi said he and Prime Minister Shmyhal also made progress in ongoing discussions about setting up a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), where the IAEA deployed a permanent expert mission more than three months ago. […]

While we are not yet there and more work is required, I’m increasingly optimistic that such a zone – which is of paramount importance – will be agreed and implemented in the near future, Director General Grossi said after the talks. I will continue my high-level consultations in the coming days – both with Ukraine and Russia – with the clear aim to get this done as soon as possible. We can’t afford to lose more time.”

How to confiscate Russian assets in the west and what Ukraine should do, European Pravda reports. “The issue of confiscation of Russian assets stored in the West is becoming an important discussion of European politicians and lawyers. Moreover, the first legislative mechanisms are already being created for this. Last week, the European Parliament held several events related to the confiscation of Russian assets.

The positive thing is that, despite considerable skepticism, the idea of confiscation is getting louder in the European agenda. There are objective reasons for this: the assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation are frozen for at least $300 billion in the West, in addition to the $30 billion in frozen assets of oligarchs close to Putin.

In case of confiscation, these funds would make it much easier for Western taxpayers to support Ukraine. That is why even the most conservative European institutions remain open to the discussion of various legal mechanisms of confiscation. […]

Talking about the private property of Russian oligarchs, the legislation of European countries and the USA is in force and does not provide mechanisms for their confiscation for supporting international crimes, from aggression to genocide committed by Russia in Ukraine. Confiscation is possible if they are found guilty of corruption, money laundering, etc.

However, it is possible to apply a mechanism, such as in Italy, where the grounds for confiscation can be, involvement in mafia criminal circles. In our case, it would be possible to confiscate through the connection with the Kremlin, which wages the aggressive war against Ukraine, as well as substantial support for this war. […]

But in the issue of confiscation of state property, we face another problem – jurisdictional immunities. Property usually belonging to a foreign state is not subject to the judgment of national judges of other states. There are exceptions to this rule – for example, the use of property for commercial purposes. This, by the way, will avoid the problem of immunities during the confiscation of Russian state property enterprises, such as “Gazprom.”

This creates a problem, because the assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the value of which is estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars, do not fall under any of the exceptions that exist today, and are protected by Russian immunity.

However, other exceptions also appeared gradually – this is a normal process of international evolution rights. It is our situation that can lead to the appearance of a new exception – the removal of immunity in the case of implementation of aggression by the state.

As the UN Commission on International Law notes, one such circumstance, a countermeasure, allows withdrawal from a certain obligation (immunity) to bring the violator’s actions into compliance with international law. […]”

Russians have already killed 449 children in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “As of the morning of December 16, 2022, more than 1,308 children were affected in Ukraine as a result of the full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation. According to the official information of the juvenile prosecutors, 449 children were killed and more than 859 children received injuries of various degrees of severity, the Prosecutor General’s Office posted on Telegram


Commander-in-Chief of Ukrainian Armed Forces tells what he needs to reach borders of 23 February, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Economist. “Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stated that Ukraine will be able to reach the borders as they were on 23 February if it has 300 tanks, approximately 700 infantry fighting vehicles and 500 howitzers. 

The Commander-in-Chief has pointed out that “I get what I get, but it is less than what I need“. Zaluzhnyi has added that with this kind of resources I can’t conduct new big operations, even though the Armed Forces of Ukraine are currently working on one of them. According to him, this operation is on the way. 

While replying to a question whether the allies hold Ukraine back from the offensive to Crimea in any way, Zaluzhnyi has highlighted that the Armed Forces of Ukraine need to overcome the distance of 84 kilometres to the city of Melitopol in order to reach the Crimean borders. He has also said that it will be enough, as the liberation of Melitopol will give Ukraine full fire control over the land corridor to Crimea; the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be able to fire on the Isthmus of Perekop from HIMARS or anything else. But in order to reach Melitopol, Ukraine needs resources, as Zaluzhnyi stressed.”

Pentagon now more likely to support Ukrainian long-range missile attacks on Russia, Yahoo News reported on 10 December. “The Pentagon is now more likely to support Ukraine’s plan to launch long-range attacks on targets deep inside Russia, The Times reports. While the US has publicly taken the stance to “not encourage Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” the administration has reportedly revised its assessment of the war. It is now more likely to supply Kyiv with longer-range weapons to strike deep into Russia, according to The Times.

An anonymous US defence source told The Times that “the fear of escalation has changed since the beginning. It’s different now. This is because the calculus of war has changed as a result of the suffering and brutality the Ukrainians are being subjected to by the Russians.

Fears that Russia would launch a tactical nuclear strike or attack a member of NATO bordering Russia have subsided among US military planners, said The Times.

Washington does not want to be seen encouraging Ukraine to strike in Russia, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken saying, “We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia,” the BBC reports. However, a separate US military source told The Times: “We’re not saying to Kyiv, ‘Don’t strike the Russians [in Russia or Crimea.’ We can’t tell them what to do. It’s up to them how they use their weapons. But when they use the weapons we have supplied, the only thing we insist on is that the Ukrainian military conforms to the international laws of war and to the Geneva conventions.”

On Sunday and Monday, Ukraine is believed to have fired its own drones deep into Russian territory. One target was the Engels-2 airbase in Saratov Oblast in southern Russia, a base for Tu-95 and Tu-160 long-range bombers, which is nearly 400 miles from Ukraine’s border. Another explosion that day took place at the Dyagilevo air base, just southeast of Moscow. […]

The Times also suggested that the US could supply Ukraine with hi-tech long-range weapons, including missile launchers and heavily-armed drones. Nothing is off the table, a senior US defence official said, per The Times. President Putin has warned that the US would be “crossing a line” if they were to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has previously told reporters, If Washington decides to supply longer-range missiles to Kyiv, then it will be crossing a red line and will become a direct party to the conflict.”

Hans Petter Midttun: On 13 December, asked if there has been any change in the Defense Department’s position, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder responded that “there is no interest in an escalation of this conflict.  We remain solely focused on helping Ukraine, the defendants’ country and take back its sovereign territory.” The question was not answered.

US planning to give Ukraine smart-bomb kits, The Washington Post reports. “The Biden administration is planning to send Ukraine advanced electronic equipment that converts unguided aerial munitions into “smart bombs” that can target Russian military positions with a high degree of accuracy, according to senior US officials familiar with the matter.

The kits incorporate global positioning devices for precision and can be bolted onto a variety of weapons, creating what the Pentagon calls a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. The US military has used the technology on bombs weighing up to 2,000 pounds, usually incorporating it with bomber aircraft and fighter jets.

It was not immediately clear whether President Biden or any of his top national security advisers have approved the proposed JDAMs’ transfer to Ukraine. Those familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations, did not say whether Ukrainian forces would employ the kits on aircraft or ground-based weapons, or what specific systems in Ukraine’s arsenal would be candidates for such augmentation.”

Slovakia readies transfer of upgraded MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine, Defense News reports. “In a potentially major reinforcement of Ukraine’s air combat capability, Slovakia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Ratislav Káčer has announced his country is preparing to transfer Soviet-made Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainian Air Force in coordination with the United States.

We have not yet handed [Ukraine] the MiG-29s. But we are ready to do it. We are talking with our NATO partners about how to do it, Káčer told local news agency Interfax Ukraine. […] And I think that, in the coming weeks, a Ukrainian delegation will come to Slovakia, and we will work together with our American friends to make this reality.

In total, Slovakia secured 24 single-seater and twin-seater MiG-29s following Czechoslovakia’s dissolution, according to data from the country’s Defence Ministry. Of these, the 11 remaining operational fighter jets were withdrawn from service last August.

The MiG-29s were upgraded in the years 2004-2006, including with NATO-compatible communication and navigation systems, the Defence Ministry said in a statement. Slovakia’s 11 remaining MiG-29s will reach the projected end of service life between 2029-2035.”

Ukraine to get SAMP/T air defence system, Defence Blog reports. “France and Italy will arm Ukraine with a modern SAMP/T mobile anti-aircraft defence weapon, French ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins said. According to the statement of the French ambassador, which dates from November 9 but whose report was not published until December 13, all the lights are now green for the sending of this medium-range system, developed by MBDA and Thales within the missile-based joint venture Eurosam. […]

The SAMP/T, also known as Mamba in Italian service, is a 21st-century Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system designed to protect sensitive sites and deployed forces against missile threats (TBM, stand-off, cruise missiles, ARM) and aircraft, replacing all existing medium-range ground-to-air systems.

MBDA says the SAMP/T system is developed to meet medium and long-range air defence needs (force projection, protection of high-value areas and area protection). It can operate in stand-alone mode or can be integrated into a co-ordinated network.”

Germany gives Ukraine additional missiles for IRIS-T air defence system, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “In the past week, Germany has given Ukraine additional missiles for the IRIS-T anti-aircraft missile system. According to a report by European Pravda, this follows from the ammunition list on the official website of the German government. 

In addition, Ukraine has also received two armoured repair and evacuation vehicles, 30,000 40-mm mortar shells, 5,000 155-mm calibre artillery ammunition, 4 ambulances and 18 8×8 heavy trucks with changeable bodies from the German side.”

US military to expand training of Ukrainian forces in Germany, Reuters reports. “The US military announced on Thursday it will expand wartime training in Germany of Ukrainian military personnel fighting Russia’s invasion with a focus on joint manoeuvre and combined arms operations. Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said the training of about 500 Ukrainians a month will start in January, building on more than 15,000 Ukrainian forces trained by the United States and its allies since April.

The new training push will be on top of efforts to teach Ukrainians to operate billions of dollars’ worth of specialized Western military equipment that the United States and its NATO allies have provided since Russia’s invasion began […]. Combined arms manoeuvre training is a logical next step in our ongoing training efforts, Ryder said, referring to training on how to attack an enemy with multiple capabilities at once.”

European Council agrees to allocate EUR€18 billion aid for Ukraine despite Poland’s block, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “At a summit on Thursday, leaders of the European Union managed to overcome difficulties and agreed on providing Ukraine with EUR€18 billion of macro-financial aid in 2023. This was reported by Rikard Jozwiak, editor for Europe of Radio Liberty.

Poland refused to support the package deal on providing Ukraine with EUR€18 billion support, as well as two decisions regarding Hungary because of the concern about a separate minimum corporate tax rate plan. It is not yet known how Poland was convinced to give up its resistance.”

Russian and Iranian UAVs contain foreign-made components, Colonel Oleksandr Zaruba, a representative of the Center for Research of Trophy and Prospective Weapons and Military Equipment, reports. The results of the conducted research indicate that almost all components that provide photo and video recording, control of the device in the air, data transmission through various channels, and GPS navigation in Russian UAVs are of foreign origin.

We know how to counter Russian UAVs and shoot them down daily with available air defence equipment. An example is yesterday’s 13 unmanned aerial vehicles shot down near Kyiv. However, in our opinion, it would be more effective to make greater efforts to interrupt the supply chains of components for such drones, emphasized Oleksandr Zaruba.”

New Developments

  1. UN rights chief warns of ‘serious deterioration’ in Ukraine if strikes continue, ReutersThe UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said on Thursday that further strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure could lead to a serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation and spark further displacement. Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure have left millions of people without heat, clean water or electricity as temperatures plummet and some 18 million people now rely on humanitarian aid. In a speech to the Human Rights Council […], Turk said that Russian strikes were exposing millions of people to extreme hardship. Additional strikes could lead to a further serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation and spark more displacement, he said.”
  2. Negotiations with Russia to end the war should be left to the Ukrainian President, Ukraine Business NewsUS National Security Council Special Coordinator for Communications John Kirby told CNN Wednesday that any discussions on whether it’s time to negotiate with Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine should be left to President Zelenskyy, not the US. According to Kirby, the US does not see any sign of the war ending soon.”
  3. S. Senate passes record $858 billion defence act, sending the bill to Biden, Reuters reports. “The US Senate passed legislation on Thursday authorizing a record $858 billion in annual defence spending, $45 billion more than proposed by President Joe Biden. The bill provides Ukraineat least $800 million in additional security assistance next year.”
  4. European Parliament Recognises Holodomor as Genocide of Ukrainian People, European PravdaThe European Parliament has voted for recognition of the Soviet starvation of Ukrainians in 1932-1933 as genocide. The resolutionwas adopted on Thursday. MEPs strongly condemn these acts, which resulted in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, and call on all countries and organisations that have not yet done so to follow suit and recognise it as genocide, the statement reads. The resolution emphasises that the whitewashing and glorification of the totalitarian Soviet regime and the revival of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s cult have led to Russia being today a state sponsor of terrorism.”
  5. The US sanctions Russian oligarch Potanin and Rosbank -Treasury Dept. website, ReutersThe United States imposed sanctions on one of Russia’s richest men, Vladimir Potanin, and Russian commercial bank Rosbank, according to the Treasury Department website.”
  6. EU agrees on 9th sanctions package against Russia -diplomats, ReutersEuropean Union governments agreed on Thursday on the 9th package of sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, EU diplomats said. The package will be formalised through what the EU calls a “written procedure” by Friday noon.”


  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  December 15, 2022:

Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine— possibly against Kyiv—in winter 2023. Such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.  A Russian attack from Belarus is not imminent at this time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine have not changed according to Ukrainian officials’ and ISW’s assessments based on Kremlin statements and actions. Putin continues to pursue maximalist goals in Ukraine using multiple mechanisms intended to compel Ukrainians to negotiate on Russia’s terms and likely make preemptive concessions highly favorable to Russia. This fundamental objective has underpinned the Kremlin’s various military, political, economic, and diplomatic efforts over the past 10 months in Ukraine.

Various Ukrainian defense officials continue to assess that Putin maintains maximalist goals and seeks to compel Ukraine to enter negotiations and/or accept a ceasefire to advance Russian objectives. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated on December 15 that the ultimate goal of Russia is the “complete conquest and control over Ukraine,” and noted that recent Russian information operations have been aimed at compelling Ukraine to enter negotiations with Russia. Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff, Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, stated that Russia seeks to force Ukraine into negotiations in order to generate a strategic pause that would afford Russian troops time to regroup and regain strength. […]

Putin is using two simultaneous military efforts to pursue his ultimate objective of regaining control of Ukraine and securing major territorial concessions. Russia’s current offensive pushes in Donetsk Oblast, particularly around Bakhmut and in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area and the ongoing campaign of massive missile strikes on critical Ukrainian infrastructure are intended to create realities on the ground that Russia will likely demand Ukraine recognize as the basis for negotiations. Russian troops have reinforced their efforts throughout Donetsk Oblast with freed-up combat power following the withdrawal from the west (right) bank of Kherson Oblast and have been consistently pursuing territorial objectives, albeit unsuccessfully. ISW continues to assess that Putin has given the order for Russian troops to complete the capture of the entirety of Donetsk Oblast […]. Ukrainian officials reiterated that the immediate focus of Russian efforts is securing territorial gains in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. Putin likely hopes that these offensive operations will threaten Ukraine‘s ability to further defend territory and cause significant damage to Ukrainian combat power so that Ukraine will have no choice but to negotiate a ceasefire, concede on Russia’s terms, and ultimately allow Russian troops the time to reconstitute and relaunch new offensive operations in the future. The massive Russian missile strikes against critical Ukrainian infrastructure are Putin’s second military effort to compel Ukraine to surrender or enter negotiations on Putin’s terms. Over the course of the last two months, Russian forces have used missiles and drones to systematically target civilian and energy infrastructure in a way that generates disproportionate psychological impacts but does not achieve significant military objectives.

These two military efforts are failing to coerce Ukraine into negotiating or offering preemptive concessions, and Ukraine has retained the battlefield initiative following its two successive counteroffensive operations in Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts. Putin may therefore be setting conditions for a third, sequential military effort in the likely event that these two efforts fail to secure his objectives by preparing for a renewed offensive against Ukraine in the winter of 2023. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny suggested that such an offensive could take place as early as January, in the worst-case scenario, and March, in the best case. Zaluzhny additionally observed that this new offensive could take the form of another mechanized attack against Kyiv from Belarusian territory. As ISW has previously reported, there are a series of observed indicators that suggest that Russian forces may indeed be preparing for a new offensive operation—including the reconsolidation of force compositions along major axes of advance and the movement of heavy equipment to the frontlines.

The winter 2023 timeframe suggested by Ukrainian officials for such a potential offensive is consistent with ISW’s long-standing assessment that the winter will facilitate Ukrainian and Russian offensive operations and is consistent with the current projected timeline for the completion of Russian force generation efforts. Putin announced the beginning of mobilization in late September 2022. Putin stated that Russia fielded 150,000 mobilized men of the initial 300,000 mobilized recruits in Ukraine on December 7—about two months after beginning mobilization—and that 150,000 mobilized men continue to train in Russia to prepare for deployment. The remaining 150,000 mobilized men in training should deploy to Ukraine around February to March 2023 if the training and deployment rate remains uniform and as Putin described. Zaluzhny noted that Russia is currently preparing 200,000 troops for deployment—an expanded estimate which likely incorporates servicemembers from the autumn 2022 conscription cycle who are training alongside the remaining mobilized recruits. The combination of ongoing training efforts for both mobilized recruits and the Fall 2022 conscript class, alongside indications that Russia is preparing for another wave of “partial” mobilization, indicate that Russia is trying to generate the combat capability for a renewed offensive in the early months of 2023.

Russian forces may be setting conditions to attack from Belarus, though ISW continues to assess a Russian invasion from Belarus is not imminent at this time. The Ukrainian General Staff’s daily reports from December 1 to 15 uniformly state that Ukrainian officials have not detected Russian forces in Belarus forming strike groups necessary to attack northern Ukraine. There are no observed open-source indicators that Russian forces are forming strike groups within Belarus as of December 15. Belarusian forces remain extremely unlikely to invade Ukraine without a Russian strike group. […]

It remains extraordinarily unlikely that Russian forces would be able to take Kyiv even if Russian forces again attack from Belarus again. Russian forces are extremely unlikely to be more successful at attacking northern Ukraine in the winter of 2023 than they were in February 2022. Russia’s conventional forces are badly degraded and lack the combat power that they had when Russia attempted (and failed) its full-throated effort to capture Kyiv in February 2022. Russian forces have been unable to secure their gains across Ukraine and have lost over 70,000 square km of occupied territory since abandoning Kyiv. Russian forces in Bakhmut currently advance no more than 100-200 meters a day after concentrating their main efforts there. Russia has not established air superiority let alone air supremacy in Ukraine and has largely exhausted its precision-guided munitions arsenal. Ukrainian forces, for their part, have prepared significant defenses in northern Ukraine and are better prepared to defend now than they were in February 2022. The terrain near the Belarusian-Ukrainian border is not conducive to maneuver warfare and possible invasion routes from Belarus to Kyiv run through defensible chokepoints in the Chernobyl exclusion zone that Ukrainian forces now have experience defending.

Key Takeaways

  • Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine—possibly against Kyiv—in winter 2023. Such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.  A Russian attack from Belarus is not imminent at this time.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine have not changed.
  • Putin is using two simultaneous military efforts to pursue his objective of conquering Ukraine and securing major concessions.
  • Putin is likely setting conditions for a renewed offensive before spring of 2023 to coerce Ukraine into offering concessions.
  • Russian forces may be setting conditions to attack from Belarusian territory, although ISW continues to assess that the Belarusian military will not join the fighting in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly continued counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas.
  • Russian forces continued defensive operations south of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.
  • The Russian officer corps continues to suffer heavy losses in Ukraine.

Ukrainian partisans conducted a sabotage attack on a power transformer substation in Berdiansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.“

Russians prepare 200,000 soldiers, no doubt to attack Kyiv again – Zaluzhnyi, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Economist. “Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has stated that Russians are preparing about 200,000 new soldiers; he has no doubt they will attack the city of Kyiv again. Russian mobilisation has worked. It is not true that their problems are so dire that these people will not fight. They will. A tsar tells them to go to war, and they go to war. I’ve studied the history of the two Chechen wars – it was the same. They may not be that well equipped, but they still present a problem for us. We estimate that they have a reserve of 1.2 – 1.5 million people.

It is noted that Russia is gathering troops and weapons for a new offensive. In January, but most probably in spring, the Russian Federation may start a major offensive from Donbas in the east, from the south or even from Belarus. Russian troops will try to push back Ukrainian forces and even make a second attempt to capture Kyiv.

The Economist reported that General Zaluzhnyi together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ground Forces, has warned about several critical months ahead. According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russians are preparing new resources somewhere beyond the Urals, same as during World War II. 

Ammunition is being prepared, not very good stuff, but still. It won’t be the same resources as it could have been in two years of ceasefire. It will not be like that. It will be lousy, and combat potential will be very, very low, even if he enlists a million more people in the army to throw bodies, like Zhukov [a senior Soviet commander during World War II] did, it will not bring the desired result anyway. […] Zaluzhnyi has said that Ukraine is running out of munitions for defence systems. 

As of the end of August 2022, according to the representative of the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Russia has already involved about 160,000 military personnel in the war against Ukraine, not including the National Guard of Russia.”

Ammunition is being consumed as fast as during Second World War, Ukrainska Pravda reports. In the ongoing war with Russia, ammunition is being consumed at a rate comparable to that during the Second World War, and the speed of ammunition replenishment is crucial. Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in an interview with The Economist.

Syrskyi said that now ammunition is being consumed at a rate that is comparable to that during the second world war. Battles are being won by whichever side gets shells delivered to guns quickly enough, he added.

The Commander of the Ground Forces also noted that, judging by the Luhansk experience, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conscription drive can work. Reasonably well-prepared soldiers are now appearing en masse all along the eastern frontlines, some arriving from “the depths of Russia, including… from the eastern districts and the Urals”. That is a concern, the commander said, but an even more pressing worry is keeping up Ukraine’s arms supplies. 

The Russians aren’t idiots. They aren’t weak. Anyone who underestimates them is headed for defeat.” the commander believes. The commander explained that the Russians are changing tactics under their new commander, Sergei Surovikin. As Syrskyi said, they are attacking using smaller, well co-ordinated detachments on foot, and it is costly in terms of soldiers’ lives, but that has never been Russia’s highest priority. 

Answering the question of what victory should look like for Ukraine, Syrskyi noted: We’ve won when Russian forces is destroyed and we are standing on our borders, but he isn’t convinced that will happen any time soon. For the immediate future Ukraine will offer what he describes as active defence”. […]

The Economist wrote that Syrskyi’s command style emphasises the elements of deception and surprise, using them to compensate for Ukraine’s obvious disadvantage in firepower.”

Russia preparing for long war, Ukrainian military says, Reuters reports. “Russia is digging in for a long war in Ukraine and still wants to conquer the entire country, a senior Ukrainian military official said on Thursday. Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov told a military briefing that although he did not expect Moscow to launch an attack from Belarus, Russian was training new troops on its neighbour’s soil and had moved military aircraft there.

Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar, at the same briefing, warned against allowing complacency to set in after recent Russian military setbacks. The Kremlin … is seeking to turn the conflict into a prolonged armed confrontation, Gromov said. Maliar added: We and the world should not relax, because the ultimate goal of the Russian Federation is to conquer all of Ukraine, and then it can move on.

Gromov did not say what Russia’s aim might be in prolonging the already nearly [8 years and] 10-month-old war. Ukrainian officials have portrayed the Kremlin as desperate to reverse recent military setbacks – which included a retreat from the southern city of Kherson after months of occupation – and secure victories to justify the war to the Russian public.

General Valery Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, told the Economist magazine that Russian forces were doing all they could to prevent Kyiv from striking back. This is why you are seeing battles along the 1,500 km frontline … they are constraining our troops in order not to allow us to regroup, the magazine cited him as saying in an interview published on Thursday. The next problem that we have is, first of all, to hold this line and not lose any more ground. It’s crucial … Our troops are all tied up in battles now, they are bleeding.”

Lukashenka’s regime is probably preparing for war, but at the moment all the necessary components are missing,” said the Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff, Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov. “The Russian military presence has been increasing on the territory of Belarus since mid-October. As part of the deployment of the regional grouping of the allied state, the Russian units of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division of the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District are undergoing training and combat coordination, Oleksiy Gromov said.

According to the representative of the General Staff […], Belarusian armed forces personnel are involved as instructors in the implementation of the mentioned events – in this way, the Kremlin uses the officer corps and training ground infrastructure of Belarus to restore the combat capability of existing, as well as to train newly created units of the [Russian] armed forces.

At the same time, the military personnel of the aggressor country, in particular the mobilized ones, express concern that recently the officers stopped providing subordinate personnel with any information regarding the terms of their training and stay on the territory of the Republic of Belarus, as well as their further actions — redeployment to the Russian Federation or to temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, said Brigadier General Gromov.

He reported that, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the transfer of weapons and military equipment to the units of the Russian occupiers continues into the territory of Belarus. Last week one battalion set of tanks each was moved to the Obuz-Lesnovsky and Losvido training grounds, said Oleksiy Gromov. This week, Russian forces dropped three MiG-31K aircraft carrying Kinjal hypersonic missiles [and] an A-50U long-range radar detection aircraft, at the Machulischi airfield. First of all, this indicates the increase of the aggressor’s ability to carry out airstrikes on the territory of Ukraine.

However, [he] emphasized that the necessary components of an air group that can ensure the operation and air support of troops during an offensive operation by Russian forces are missing on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. Oleksiy Gromov gave the example that in February 2022, before the start of the invasion, an aviation group […] was deployed on the territory of Belarus, consisting of one A-50U aircraft, 32 attack aircraft, 15 fighters and 77 helicopters.

Taking into account other available data, it can be noted that at present the probability of Russian forces conducting an offensive operation from the territory of the Republic of Belarus remains low, said Oleksiy Gromov. At the same time, until March 1, 2023, the State Border Committee of Belarus extended restrictions on the entry and stay of citizens in the border zone in the areas of the Gomel region bordering the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions of Ukraine.

According to the available data, the process of campaigning for volunteers to join the territorial defense units continued last week in the border areas of the Brest region with Ukraine. According to Oleksiy Gromov, during the interviews, the candidates are shown that in the event of the introduction of martial law in the country, they will be issued with weapons and ammunition, and their main task will be the protection and defence of communities as part of the territorial defence units formed

At the same time, the House of Representatives of Belarus approved a draft law on the introduction of the death penalty for treason for servicemen and representatives of the state authorities, said a representative of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the briefing. It is possible that such actions of the Lukashenka regime are one of the steps in preparation for participation in the war against Ukraine.”


  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Most EU citizens support aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia, Ukraine Business News reports. “The majority of citizens in the EU member states approve of the EU’s support for Ukraine following the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, according to Eurobarometer survey data. The highest level of support is in Sweden (97%), Finland (95%), the Netherlands (93%), Portugal (92%), and Denmark (92%).

Even 10 months after the start of the war in Ukraine, support for both sanctions against the Russian government and financial, military, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine remains high at 73%.

The survey also confirms European citizen’s unwavering commitment to supporting Ukraine and to the values on which the European Union is built. When asked what values the European Parliament should protect, first of all, respondents most often mention democracy (36%), protection of human rights in the EU and around the world (29%), and freedom of speech and opinion (28%).”

Russians still support the war but are less certain what it’s about, poll finds, Defense One reports. “Some 74 percent of Russian citizens recently surveyed said they support the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine. But 22 percent, up from just 9 percent in March, say that they don’t actually understand what the war is about, according to a Chicago Council– Levada Center survey of Russian public opinion released this week. 

The survey, conducted at the end of November, found that 53 percent of respondents believe that Russia’s so-called “special operation” is succeeding, while 30 percent said the opposite. […]

Whether they support the war or not, respondents expressed little hope that the war will improve their lives. More Russians than not believe that the war will worsen the economic situation in Russia and a large majority acknowledge that it has hurt relations with the West. While 53 percent believe that it’s time for Russia to begin negotiations—41 percent do not— a heavy majority wouldn’t negotiate away territories that Russia illegally annexed back in 2014.”

Only 11 foreign car brands left in Russia out of 60 before the war, bne Intelligence reports. “There used to be 60 different foreign car brands in Russia, one of the biggest car markets in Europe, but by the end of this year only 11 will be left, reports Kommersant.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February about 1,000 foreign companies pulled out, according to a report published by Yale. International car makers are amongst the few foreign investors to have invested heavily in the country, hoping to tap the burgeoning middle class. However, all of them have pulled out, bringing car production this year to a screeching halt. […] By the end of this year only 14 brands will remain, three domestic and 11 Chinese, according to the Russian Automobile Dealers Association.”


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

“The discussion about the need for a NATO intervention in Ukraine – according to its late strategic concept and the UN Responsible to Protect doctrine – has become a “black or white”, “on/off” debate due to the strategic messaging by Head of States. The key message is that if the Alliance intervenes, the war will escalate into a broader confrontation. The risk of nuclear war and World War 3 is a part of the messaging.

During the first 8 years of the war, they argued against supplying arms to Ukraine for fears of escalation. After the war escalated, they argued against long-range strike capacity and “boots on the ground” for fears of escalation.

The NATO strategy has allowed Russia freedom of action to wage war in Europe. European security and stability are at stake.

Until now, it has been defended by Ukraine. The West, therefore, needs to pay attention when both President Zelenskyy, General Zaluzhnyi and General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ground Forces, warn about several critical months ahead.

“It is not true that their problems are so dire that these people will not fight. They will”, Zaluzhnyi says.

The Russians aren’t idiots. They aren’t weak. Anyone who underestimates them is headed for defeat“, Syrskyi says.

When the two greatest western experts tell us that the speed of ammunition replenishment is crucial, that Ukraine is running out of munitions for defence systems and that keeping up Ukraine’s arms supplies is a more pressing worry than the number of Russian soldiers posed along the frontline for a new offensive, NATO needs to pay attention.”

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