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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 661: Ukraine launches drone attack on Crimea and starts mass production of kamikaze drones

Ukrainian partisans carried out attacks in Russian-occupied Kherson, bombing a Russian army fuel train and officer. Ukraine also resolved a 20-year dispute with Romania over the Danube-Black Sea canal.

Exclusive

Orbán’s unusual “coffee break” saves Ukraine at EU summit. Will it work again?. A bold idea by German Chancellor Scholz made Orban allowed a crucial vote for Ukraine, but Hungary has 75 more chances to interfere
Meet Bohdana, Ukraine’s gritty goddess of war with NATO-caliber punch. With a firing range equal to the famed French Caesar but at half the price, Ukraine’s domestic 155mm howitzer Bohdana goes from prototype to mass production under missile strikes.

Military

Guerilla blitz: partisans in south Ukraine bomb Russian officer and fuel train. The train transported grain and fuel from Crimea to the south-Ukrainian occupation group daily and stole grain and ore in return

Frontline report: Ukrainian massive missile strikes disrupt Russian logistics and offensives. Ukrainian forces unleash a massive missile strike targeting key Russian bases in southern Ukraine, strategically disrupting logistics and exerting pressure on stretched offensive capabilities.

Ukraine launches drone attack on multiple sites in occupied Crimea. Sites in Sevastopol, western, northern, and central Crimea, including a miltiary airfield near Sevastopol, were attacked overnight

Ukraine downs 30 of 31 Shahed drones in night attack, many with machine guns. Russia recently started painting the drones black to make them harder to shoot down by small firearms, but this is proving to be ineffective

Intelligence and technology

Bild publishes Russian war plan to seize eastern Ukraine by 2026. ISW, Ukrainian intel react. Bild reports that, according to intelligence sources, the Kremlin intends to feign interest in negotiations while continuing its offensive operations through 2026.

Welt: Ukraine prepping for major offensive “like Zaluzhnyi envisioned” in 2024. With the necessary air support, Ukraine could pull off next year what did not materialize in the summer of 2023

WSJ: Wirecard fraudster CEO was Russian agent for nearly a decade. Jan Marsalek mysteriously disappeared after Wirecard claimed $2 billion was missing. But the vanishing exec now faces accusations far beyond fraud – officials say he operated as a Russian spy before escaping to Moscow.

Ukraine starts mass production of 750 km range “kamikaze” drones. Ukraine’s military receives its first AQ 400 Scythe drones with a remarkable 750 km range; the manufacturer says it produces 100 Scythes monthly and targets 500 units a month, emphasizing local production.

International

Austria clears EU’s Russia sanctions after Ukraine removes Raiffeisen from blacklist. Austria supports the 12th EU sanctions package on Russia, after Ukraine removes Raiffeisen Bank International from a symbolic blacklist. The bank was the only Austrian company on the list.

Ukraine and Romania resolve 20-Year dispute over Danube-Black Sea canal. The agreement paves the way for the realization of the strategic canal project, underscoring both nations’ commitment to international cooperation and environmental responsibility.

Russia stripped of Danube Commission membership over strikes on lower Danube in Ukraine. It must withdraw from the organization by 29 February 2024

Lithuania delivers new military aid to Ukraine, encouraging “allies to do the same”. Lithuania sent millions of rounds and thousands of cartridges for anti-tank grenade launchers, along with a thousand foldable stretchers, to Ukraine.

Ex-Amb to UK believes Britain could send troops to Ukraine in case of “catastrophic events”. In an interview, Vadym Prystayko shares insights into his communication with British diplomats, revealing their acknowledgment of the impending war and willingness to provide military support.

Humanitarian and social impact

Media: Kyiv puts head of Russian church on “wanted” list for abetting war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has placed the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who has been a long-time supporter of the Kremlin’s war against Kyiv, on a wanted list for abetting the conflict and spreading Moscow’s propaganda, according to Reuters.

Third Ukrainian trucker dies due to Polish blockade of Ukraine’s border. The third Ukrainian truck driver has died while stuck in winter conditions amid Polish truckers’ blockade of key border crossings with Ukraine.

Three more children returned to Ukraine from Russia and occupied areas. The children successfully returned to Ukraine under President’s “Bring Kids Back UA” initiative.

London Mayor rejects sending scrapped cars to Ukraine front despite Kyiv Mayor’s proposal. Sadiq Khan has refused to send Ulez-scrapped cars to Ukraine, citing a legal threshold despite a proposal from Vitaliy Klitschko to use the vehicles on the front lines for life-saving and transport purposes.

CNN: Western officials are estimating how long Ukraine will last without US aid. A military defeat by summer is the worst-case scenario

G7 nations lean towards seizing Russian assets. The US, initially hesitant, now assures G7 allies it can legally seize Russian assets.

Finland to try Russian Neo-Nazi over Ukraine war crimes after refusing extradition. Yan Petrovsky, founder of the Russian Rusich Neo-Nazi group, will be prosecuted at home over accusations of torture and execution of Ukrainian POWs

CNN: Intel on Russian meddling vanished from White House. Sensitive secrets about Russian election interference disappeared along with a mysterious binder in Trump’s last White House days.

New developments

Finnish PM labels Russian border situation a hybrid attack. Asserting a readiness to swiftly amend legislation, Orpo characterized Russia’s actions as an unmistakable assault on Finland and the European Union’s sovereignty.

Ukrainian Danube ports achieve record growth in 2023. Ukrainian Danube ports celebrated the inauguration of 23 new terminals and 20 cargo handling points, achieving a total cargo throughput of 52.8 million tons.

Read our earlier daily review here.

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