Monday, 28 November 2022 06:06

What to know after Day 278 of Russia-Ukraine war

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RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Russian forces have destroyed six command posts of Ukrainian troops in the Kherson and Kharkov regions, as well as in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a briefing on Sunday.

"Six command posts of the enemy were destroyed in the area of the settlements of Sadovoye, Dudchany and Zolotaya Balka in the Kherson region, Yampol in the DPR as well as Kislovka in the Kharkov region," along with 62 artillery units in firing positions, manpower and military hardware in 137 regions," the spokesman said.

Аttack in DPR

The Russian Armed Forces have foiled the attempts of the Ukrainian troops in the LPR’s Krasny Liman area to attack with two company units, Konashenkov told.

"In the Krasny Liman area, pre-emptive fire in the areas of Stelmakhovka and Ploshchanka settlements of the Lugansk People's Republic foiled attempts of the Ukrainian armed forces to attack with two tactical company units towards the settlements of Kolomiychikha and Ploshchanka of the Lugansk People's Republic," Konashenkov said.

According to the spokesman, the Ukrainian side also made unsuccessful attempts to entrench and equip strongholds near Ploshchanka and Chervonopopovka. "As a result of artillery fire, Ukrainian army units were dispersed and pushed back to their initial positions," he added.

According to Konashenkov, more than 50 Ukrainian troops were either killed or wounded. "Three armored combat vehicles and four special military cars were destroyed," he added.

Аttack in LPR

The Russian troops have stopped an attempt by Ukrainian forces to attack towards the settlement of Novoselovskoye in the Lugansk People’s republic, eliminating up to 30 enemy troops, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman told.

"In the Kupyansk area, artillery fire at the areas of concentration of Ukrainian army’s manpower thwarted the enemy attack towards the LPR settlement of Novoselovskoye," Konashenkov said, adding that up to 30 Ukrainian military were eliminated and two pickup trucks were destroyed.

Zaporozhye region

Russian troops have destroyed four ammunition depots in the Zaporozhye region, Konashenkov told.

"Four depots with missile and artillery weapons of the Ukrainian ‘Zaporozhye’ group of forces were wiped out in the area of Razumovka settlement, in the Zaporozhye region," he said.

Also," an ammo depot with over 100 missiles for HIMARS multiple rocket launchers was destroyed in the area of Dnepropetrovsk city," Konashenkov added.

Сounterattacks in DPR

All counterattacks by the Ukrainian army in the Donetsk direction have been repelled by Russian troops, Defense Ministry Spokesman told.

"In the Donetsk area, counterattacks by the Ukrainian armed forces in the areas of Soledar, Opytnoye, Kurdyumovka and Mayorsk settlements were repelled as a result of the Russian troops' fire and resolute action. Up to 70 Ukrainian servicemen, two tanks, two armored fighting vehicles and five pickup trucks were destroyed," Konashenkov said.

In addition, Russian forces made a high-precision strike on the Foreign Legion in the DPR, eliminating up to 100 mercenaries, the spokesman added. In addition, six armored vehicles were destroyed, Konashenkov said.

** Arms transfers to Ukraine have left Western weapon stockpiles strained, making it increasingly difficult for NATO militaries to honor politicians’ pledges to supply Kiev, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

“Smaller countries have exhausted their potential,” and according to one NATO official, at least 20 of the bloc’s 30 members are “pretty tapped out,” the newspaper wrote. Only “larger allies,” including France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, have enough stockpiles to continue or potentially increase their weapon shipments to Ukraine.

Since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in late February, the US and its Western allies have been providing Kiev with billions of dollars in security assistance, to the tune of nearly $40 billion, now comparable to the entire annual defense budget of France. Moscow has repeatedly warned that the weapon shipments will only prolong the conflict and increase the risk of a direct conflict between Russia and NATO.

As Ukraine continues to call for more weapons, EU stockpiles are running low, with Germany already “reaching its limit as of early September. Meanwhile, Lithuania, which does not have any more weapons to donate, has urged the allies to give Ukraine “everything we have.”

US President Joe Biden has vowed to keep the arms pipeline open for “as long as it takes,” but even American military stockpiles have taken a toll after repeated shipments to Kiev. As early as March, just weeks after the conflict in Ukraine kicked off, the US Defense Department was already scrambling to replenishthousands of shoulder-fired missiles supplied to Kiev. By August, US stockpiles of 155mm artillery ammunition were uncomfortably low,” according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The Pentagon’s latest fact sheet detailed more than $19 billion in direct military aid approved since February, including over 46,000 anti-armor systems, nearly 200 Howitzers, 38 long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and a litany of other heavy weapons, vehicles and ammunition – as well as over 920,000 of 155mm artillery rounds.

The US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) previously pointed out that the American military is “not structured to fight or support an extended conflict,” while the defense industry is “sized for peacetime production rates,” and expanding capabilities would take years.

NATO is heavily invested in Ukraine, with the alliance’s members also providing training and intelligence capability. Despite this “unprecedented support,” the military bloc’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has repeatedly claimed that “NATO is not a party to the conflict.”

Moscow sees things differently. Multiple top officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have accused NATO of waging war against Russia “by proxy,” while Putin has described Russia as fighting “the entire Western military machine.”

** Soaring energy prices driven by sanctions on Russian oil and gas are not the primary factor behind Germans’ disillusionment with helping Ukraine in the ongoing conflict, according to a recent poll conducted by the Washington Post. Instead, the outlet found a general aversion to military intervention that took hold after the country’s defeat in World War II was behind their reluctance to sign off on a blank check to Kiev.

While the vast majority — 91% — of German respondents expressed sympathy for Ukraine, more than half (54%) said their country was doing either enough (37%) or too much (17%) in terms of military and humanitarian aid, according to the poll. 

The news outlet queried Germans on four specific policies, hoping to gauge public support for “increasing sanctions on Russia and Putin, even if these sanctions might lead to a further increase in food and gas prices,” sending more missiles and other military aid, welcoming more refugees “even if it placed additional burdens on the economy,” and admitting Ukraine to NATO even if this would require defending the country militarily.

While about a third of those polled opposed each policy, those who expressed support were not particularly enthusiastic, and there was a stark divide in sentiment between the formerly-socialist East and the West of the country. More than half (52%) of East Germans said they opposed increased military aid to Ukraine, compared to just 27% of West Germans.

Attempting to explain Germans’ reluctance to bolster Ukrainian military effort, the Post claimed general anti-militaristic attitude after WWII might one of the reason for this. The newspaper pointed out that even NATO-approved interventions to which Berlin has contributed troops and resources have proven deeply unpopular among the German citizens following a brief period of public support.

However, Berlin has been one of Kiev’s strong backers during its conflict with Russia, supplying the first unit of its state-of-the-art IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukrainian forces last month. Three more units, made up of a command vehicle, a radar vehicle, and a truck-mounted launcher, are expected to arrive in the country in 2023. 

Meanwhile, Germany’s own military has yet to receive the ground-based IRIS-T system, leading some politicians to raise concerns that the country is arming Ukraine at the expense of its own defense capabilities.

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that Russia would surely launch new missile attacks on his country, and warned defence forces and citizens to be prepared to withstand a new week of strain on the power grid.

Snow fell in Kyiv and temperatures hovered around freezing on Sunday with fog forecast overnight.

City authorities said workers were close to completing restoration of power, water and heat, but high consumption levels meant some blackouts had been imposed. Millions in and around Kyiv were coping with disruptions caused by waves of Russian air strikes.

"We understand that the terrorists are planning new strikes. We know this for a fact," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. "And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down."

Zelenskiy said the coming week could be as difficult as the previous week, when attacks on electricity infrastructure subjected Ukrainians to the most acute power cuts since Russian troops invaded in February.

"Our defence forces are getting ready. The entire country is getting ready," he said. "We have worked out all the scenarios, including with our partners."

There was no immediate response from Moscow to Zelenskiy's claims.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Moscow has said it does not target the civilian population. The Kremlin said on Thursday that Kyiv could "end the suffering" of its population by meeting Russia's demands.

Russia annexed swaths of Ukraine’s east and south in September and President Vladimir Putin said Moscow's territorial demands are non-negotiable. After the annexation Zelenskiy said he would not negotiate with Moscow and also insisted that Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be negotiated.

Sunday was relatively calm with no devastating attacks on Kyiv or other major cities. Ukraine's central army command said Russian forces launched four missile attacks and fired multiple times on civilian objects in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

The situation, however, remained intense along front lines in various part of Ukraine, Zelenskiy said in his nightly address.

"The most difficult is in Donetsk region as has been the case in previous weeks," he said.

The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said Russian troops had shelled a dozen villages in Donetsk, including the main targets of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

COLD WEATHER BOOSTS DEMAND FOR POWER

The cold weather is gradually boosting energy needs as repair workers race to fix wrecked power facilities, grid operator Ukrenergo said.

Electricity producers still cannot resume full power supply after Russia's missile attacks on Wednesday and must conserve energy by imposing blackouts, it said.

"The consumption restriction regime is still in place due to a capacity deficit, which currently stands at around 20%," Ukrenergo said on Telegram.

Last week, Ukrenergo's chief executive described damage on power generating facilities as "colossal".

Moscow has targeted vital infrastructure in recent weeks through waves of air strikes that have sparked widespread power outages and killed civilians.

Fresh strikes last Wednesday caused the worst damage so far in the nine-month conflict, leaving millions of people with no light, water or heat, as temperatures fell below 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).

Zelenskiy said utility and emergency teams were working around the clock to provide power, with the situation "under control" though most regions were subject to scheduled blackouts to help restore the grid.

In Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine abandoned by Russian troops this month, regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said 17% of customers now had power. Other districts would be connected in coming days.

Zelenskiy has issued constant warnings to consumers to conserve power, as have utility officials.

Sergey Kovalenko, chief operating officer of YASNO, which provides energy to Kyiv, said on Saturday evening the situation in the city has improved but remained "quite difficult."

Zelenskiy criticised Kyiv's Mayor Vitali Klitschko, saying he had not done enough to help beleaguered residents. Klitschko, a former professional boxer, hit back at Zelenskiy, saying the criticism was out of place amid Russia's military campaign.

"That is senseless," Klitschko said.

 

TASS/RT/Reuters