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Military And Security Developments
- KHERSON: Earlier on 17 November, the Ukrainian General Staff published its first notable commentary on Ukrainian operations on the left bank of the Dnieper River (Kherson oblast). The only clear objective listed was that Ukraine aims to push Russian forces as far back from the right bank as possible so as to protect the civilian population from shelling (Russian forces regularly shell Kherson city). While the post stated that sabotage, raiding and reconnaissance operations are being conducted, it gave no indication of longer-term military objectives. It did, however, note that losses inflicted on Russian troops have necessitated the transfer of personnel from other parts of the frontline; this will likely place strain on Russian defensive and offensive operations in the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia oblast.
- DONETSK: On 16 November, The Guardian, citing Western officials, reported that Russia is losing between 500 and 1,000 troops a day near Avdiivka. If true, this is almost certainly due to Russian infantry-led frontal assaults being conducted without armoured vehicle support. Although we cannot confirm these figures, Russian forces are almost certainly sustaining extremely high casualties in return for very marginal gains made in recent weeks on the flanks of Avdiivka. The recent Russian offensive has not yet placed the city (one of the most highly fortified locations in Ukraine) at imminent risk of encirclement.
- DONETSK: Geolocated footage posted on 16 November indicates that Russian forces recently made marginal gains north of the Avdiivka coke plant, located to the north-west of Avdiivka. On 17 November, a prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces made unspecified advances in the direction of Ocheretyne and Novokalynove, located eight miles (13km) and four miles (7km) north-west and north of Avdiivka, respectively. However, these claims have yet to be visually confirmed.
- BAKHMUT: Nothing significant to report
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: Nothing significant to report
- SOUTHERN: Nothing significant to report
- STRIKES: Earlier on 17 November, Ukrainian air defences reportedly intercepted nine of ten Shahed-136/131 drones launched by Russia. The drones were shot down over Khmelnytskyi, Mykolaiv, Odesa and Zhytomyr oblasts. On 16 November, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, Yuriy Ihnat, stated that Russia has recently changed its drone strike pattern. She stated that Russia has recently carried out drone attacks at approximately 0930hrs (local time), whereas it typically conducts such attacks between 1000 and 1500-1600hrs.
- STRIKES: Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that its air defences intercepted two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles over the Black Sea near the Crimean coastline on 17 November. The Russian MoD also reported that two drones were destroyed over Smolensk oblast (Russia) on 17 November.
- STRIKES: On 16 November, Ukrainian Southern Command spokesperson Nataliya Humenyuk claimed that Russia has stockpiled more than 800 missiles (including Kalibr and Onyx missiles) in Crimea. Humenyuk reiterated that Russia will use the projectiles to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on 16 November that Ukraine is ramping up its air defences in peripheral regions, such as Donetsk, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
- MOBILISATION: On 16 November, the BBC reported that nearly 20,000 draft-eligible Ukrainian men fled Ukraine between February 2022 and August 2023. Under martial law, Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 are restricted from leaving the country, though there are some exemptions. In addition to this figure, Ukrainian officials reportedly confirmed that 21,113 men were caught trying to flee the country. In all, 14,313 of these individuals attempted to walk or swim across the border; the others used fraudulently obtained official documents that stated fake exemptions. In addition to draft evading networks operating with the Ukrainian MoD, individual attempts to avoid mobilisation will exacerbate personnel shortages within the Ukrainian armed forces, which will likely be engaged in a highly attritional war throughout 2024. For further analysis on Ukrainian military personnel shortages, please see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 31 October 2023.
- ENERGY: The US intends to allocate around USD 500 million to strengthen Ukraine’s energy system. On 16 November, US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt said that Washington DC has already provided around USD 520 million in energy sector assistance to Kyiv. Pyatt clarified that these funds are primarily targeted at meeting urgent needs, such as sourcing new transformers and capabilities to rebuild energy infrastructure that Russia has destroyed via strikes. However, he did not specify when this sum would be available.
- BORDERS: Polish trucking representatives stated on 16 November that they would expand a protest along Poland’s border with Ukraine by blocking another crossing for cargo vehicles. One of the organisers of the partial border blockade stated that the Medyka-Shehyni (Subcarpathian voivodeship, Poland) crossing would be blocked from 20 November. The additional partial blockade will likely cause further supply chain disruption and exacerbate regional tensions between Poland and Ukraine. For further analysis, please see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 14 November 2023.
- SANCTIONS: On 16 November, the US Treasury Department announced that it had imposed sanctions against three UAE-based companies and three vessels which allegedly facilitated the export of Russian crude oil above the USD 60 per barrel (pb) price cap. The sanctions ban US persons and entities from transacting with the targeted companies. The cap was introduced in December 2022 by the G7 and EU countries as part of the sanctions they imposed on Russia in response to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Despite the cap, Russia’s oil and gas revenue in October increased by more than a quarter compared to the same month in 2022. In the near term, US ship management and insurance companies will likely face increasing regulatory and compliance risks.
AID: On 16 November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Kyiv’s Western partners have decreased their shipments of artillery shells to Ukraine since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. Zelensky noted that supplies of the much-needed 155mm shells have significantly slowed down. A Ukrainian official estimated in April that Ukrainian forces fire up to 8,000 such shells a day, indicating that a significant delay in their provision would likely have a significant near-term impact.
The Ukrainian president acknowledged that the US did not formally state that it would stop or decrease the flow of artillery shells for Kyiv, but rather that ‘everyone is fighting for [stockpiles] themselves’. International media reported last month that the Pentagon intends to send Israel tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells which had initially been destined for Ukraine, underscoring how the ongoing Israel-Hamas war will possibly result in US resources being re-allocated for Israel.
Bloomberg reported on 17 November that fresh US aid deliveries for Ukraine are at risk of being delayed until mid-December (at the earliest) and possibly even beyond. This would mark almost two months after US President Joe Biden requested funding for Ukraine as part of a wider combined package that includes money for enhancing border security, humanitarian aid, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 20 October 2023). On 16 November, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh urged Congress to pass Biden’s supplemental funding request, though this remains unlikely in the coming days.
The outlet stated that senators in both parties plan to work on a deal in the coming days on an aid package that they can vote on later this month. A Democrat with close ties to Biden, Chris Coons, noted that Ukraine is running out of fuel, weapons and ammunition and that Congress must act on a timeline that will make a difference. However, aid for Kyiv is at risk of being delayed into the new year due to Ukraine-sceptic Republicans. Dwindling Western support and governmental infighting on providing aid to Ukraine will almost certainly play into the Kremlin’s strategy that time is on its side in this war.
* DONETSK: Russian offensive operations and Ukrainian defence operations continued on trend near Avdiivka over the past 24 hours. Russian milbloggers reported that Russian forces advanced near the industrial of the Avdiivka coke plant. The UK Defence Intelligence (DI) reported earlier on 16 November that Russian forces have likely come close to the Avdiivka coke plant, the capture of which would complicate Ukrainian efforts to resupply the city. However, it also noted any attempt to seize the facility would likely result in significant personnel losses for Russian forces. Meanwhile, one prominent Russian milblogger reported that Russian troops hold the initiative across the Avdiivka sector. However, the extremely limited gains made over the past week indicate this ‘initiative’ is currently likely little more than continued Russian offensive operations across the sector.
* KHERSON: On 15 November, Ukrainian Southern Command spokesperson Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Ukrainian forces are pushing Russian forces back between 1.8 miles (3km) and 5.9 miles (8km) from the left bank of the Dnieper river in Kherson oblast, though we cannot confirm this. Additionally, over the past 24 hours, geolocated footage indicates that Russian forces made marginal advances in Krynky, located 18 miles (30km) north-east of Kherson city. Russian milbloggers also widely reported that the situation on the left bank had stabilised over the past 24 hours. A Ukrainian source claimed that Russian forces have developed a plan to repel the Ukrainian forces by deploying two tactical groups to flank Ukrainian forces in the Krynky area from the directions of Korsunka and Kozachi Laheri, while a third tactical group would advance northwards directly on Krynky.
* BAKHMUT: Nothing significant to report
* OSKIL-KREMINNA: Nothing significant to report
* SOUTHERN: Nothing significant to report
* STRIKES: Overnight on 15-16 November, the Ukrainian energy company DTEK reported that Russian forces shelled a thermal power plant in an unspecified area near the frontline for the fourth time in recent weeks. DTEK reported company equipment was seriously damaged and water and power supplies to a nearby settlement were disrupted. Russian forces will almost intensify shelling on power facilities near the frontline to supplement a highly likely strike campaign against Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure in the coming months.
* STRIKES: Overnight on 15-16 November, Ukrainian air defences reportedly intercepted 16 of the 18 Shahed-136/131 drones and one Kh-59 missile launched by Russia. Explosions were reported in Khmelnytskyi oblast, where local authorities stated that air defences were countering a drone attack.
* STRIKES: The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that air defences destroyed two Ukrainian drones over Bryansk oblast and three over the Black Sea near the Crimean coast, early on 16 November. On 15 November, the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, in a visit to the Bryansk oblast, admitted that the Ukrainian attacks (including drone strikes, shelling and reconnaissance and sabotage activities) intensified against Russian border regions. Patrushev announced that Russian authorities have taken measures to reinforce the protection of critical infrastructure and air defences in 16 regions, including Moscow and bordering territories.
* SANCTIONS: On 15 November, the European Commission (EC) submitted a proposal for the 12th sanctions package against Russia to the EU Council. The proposed restrictions include imposing a ban on imports of Russian diamonds and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and reinforcing compliance with the price cap on Russian oil. Official Russian statistics published on 15 November show that Russia’s economy expanded by 5.5% in Q3, almost returning to pre-war levels, though it is difficult to confirm the validity of this date.
* SANCTIONS: Hydrocarbon revenues have allowed Moscow to sustain significant government expenditure, enabling businesses to mitigate the impact of sanctions. However, it has partly contributed to accelerating inflation, reaching 7% (above the central bank’s target of 4%). The proposed EU sanctions aim to reduce EUR 5 billion (USD 5 billion) of trade with Russia, but they are unlikely to seriously undermine Moscow’s commodity export revenue or hinder Russia’s war effort in the short term. However, additional Western sanctions designed to disrupt Moscow’s lucrative revenue sources and ability to acquire equipment that can be used for military purposes are highly likely.
* CORRUPTION: On 15 November, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine announced that a Ukrainian citizen was detained in Greece on embezzlement charges. The individual is suspected of misappropriating UAH 43 million (USD 1.19 million) worth of funds received by a limited liability company (LLC) he headed as a prepayment under contracts concluded with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD). The scheme took place between 2 March and 10 May 2022. The Prosecutor General’s office sent a request to Greek authorities for the extradition of the suspect. Corruption is rife within Ukrainian state structures, with several high-profile cases having been unveiled within the MoD over the past months. Tackling corruption will remain a key priority in restoring confidence in state structures.
* GRAIN: On 15 November, Ukraine’s state-owned railway company announced it has restricted freight transit to the Black Sea port of Odesa due to repairs being carried out on railway infrastructure. The company did not specify when the transit restrictions would be lifted. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on 14 November that exports of products, mainly food and grain, via the alternative Black Sea shipping corridor have reached nearly four million metric tonnes since the route was established in August. The suspension of railway freight to the Black Sea port of Odesa will temporarily and moderately curtail Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports. However, the growing importance of overland export routes via the EU, such as the ‘solidarity lanes’, which handle 65% of grain exports, will limit the impact of the temporary decline of seaborne grain exports.
* BORDERS: On 15 November, Slovakia’s union of road hauliers (UNAS) announced its intention to stage a symbolic one-hour border blockade at 1300hrs (local time) today (16 November) at Vyšné Nemecké (Košice Region), situated near the Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod (Uzhhorod oblast). UNAS disclosed that it will close the border in solidarity with Polish hauliers, which are currently partially blockading three Polish-Ukrainian border crossings. It did not state whether there would be any exemptions. The union said it will request that the EC immediately introduce transport permits for Ukrainian vehicles, adding that it will then comment on the next steps. For further analysis, please see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 14 November 2023.
* BORDERS: On 16 November, Finnish Prime Minister Peterri Orpo announced that Helsinki would close four border crossings with Russia as of 18 November following an uptick in the number of asylum seekers arriving at the country’s border, allegedly directed by Russia. On 15 November, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö stated that the increase was likely in retaliation for a likely defence co-operation agreement with the US, which would give the US military access to select Finnish military bases. Moscow is also vehemently opposed to Finland’s accession to NATO. The authorities are concerned that Russia could orchestrate an influx of irregular migrants similar to the tactic used by Belarus on its borders with the Baltic states and Poland in 2020-2021. However, there are currently no indications this is being planned on a significant scale.
POLLING: On 15 November, private survey agency Russian Field (considered opposition-leaning) shared polling on Russians’ attitudes towards the war in Ukraine. While polling in Russia must be treated with a healthy degree of scepticism, the survey nevertheless unveiled opposition for another hypothetical round of mobilisation, and support for Moscow transitioning to peace talks with Kyiv.
The majority of respondents (58%) would not support another wave of mobilisation, while just under a third (32%) would. Just 8% of Russians said they would respond positively if a second mobilisation was announced, while 61% reported that they would react negatively. Only 18% stated that their response would be neutral. This supports our assessment that the Kremlin will likely avoid announcing another wave of partial mobilisation to avoid societal discontent and potential domestic unrest, particularly ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.
Men were marginally more likely to support a second wave of mobilisation compared to women (36% compared to 28%). Over 60% of Russian women surveyed (62%) said they would not be in favour of such a move compared to 54% of men. Russians between the ages of 18-29 were the least likely to support another national military call-up (77% of respondents within this age range voiced their disagreement). Those surveyed aged 60 and over were the strongest supporters of another mobilisation drive (41%). This is highly likely due to younger Russians seeking alternative sources of information outside of state-controlled media and television.
Notably, Russians with the best financial position were most likely to endorse another wave of mobilisation (54%) compared to those at the opposite end of the spectrum (27%). Among the Russians who reported having an extremely poor financial situation, 64% said they would be against another round of mobilisation. Such polling is likely indicative of longstanding concerns that Russian mobilisation has typically disproportionately targeted poor rural areas and less affluent ethnic minority regions.
Russian Field stated that the percentage of Russians in favour of Moscow and Kyiv holding peace negotiations exceeded the number of those who want the war to continue, for the first time. Almost half of the respondents (48%) believe that Russia needs to transition to holding peace talks, while 39% argue that the conflict should continue. A total of 74% of respondents would support a decision from Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign a peace agreement ‘tomorrow’ compared to 18% who would not. Nevertheless, the results of the survey indicate that most Russians are in favour of working towards peace rather than another round of mobilisation and continuing the war. For further analysis of recent opinion polling in Russia,
*Russia: Proposed EU sanctions unlikely to fully undermine Moscow’s ability to fund war efforts. On 15 November, the European Commission submitted a proposal for the 12th sanctions package to the EU Council. The proposed restrictions include imposing a ban on imports of Russian diamonds and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and reinforcing enforcement of the price cap on Russian oil. Official Russian statistics published on 15 November show that Russia’s economy expanded by 5.5% in the third quarter, almost returning to pre-war levels. Important hydrocarbon revenues have allowed the government to sustain significant government expenditure, enabling businesses to mitigate the impact of sanctions. However, it has partly contributed to accelerating inflation, reaching 7% (above the central bank’s target of 4%). The proposed EU sanctions aim to reduce EUR 5 bn (USD 5 bn) of trade with Russia, but they are unlikely to fully undermine Moscow’s commodity export revenue. The measures are unlikely to hinder Russia’s ability to wage war against Ukraine in the short-to-medium term.
* OFFENSIVES: On 14 November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the Russian forces have intensified attacks toward near Avdiivka, Donetsk (near Marinka) and Kupiansk. It is likely that these attacks, as well as Russian efforts to attack near Bakhmut (see BAKHMUT below), reflect a Russian effort to regain battlefield initiative. Russia’s Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov has repeatedly demonstrated a preference for offensive operations despite these wielding extremely limited results and high levels of attrition for Russian forces. Meanwhile, it is possible that Ukraine will intensify operations on the left bank of the Dnieper in Kherson oblast before Russia transfers sufficient resources to thwart their advance; this transfer of Russian troops will possibly create opportunities for Ukrainian advances elsewhere along the front.
* BAKHMUT: Geolocated footage posted on 14 November indicates that Russian forces likely marginally advanced north of Berkhivka, located 3 miles (5km) north-west of Bakhmut. Russian milbloggers have continued to offer conflicting assessments of Russian counter-attacks towards Klischiivka, but the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks on the village. Ukrainian Commander of the Achilles drone company Yuri Fedorenko told Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne on 14 November that the situation at Bakhmut has become more ‘complicated’ as Russian forces have adopted ‘shock assault’ tactics. Fedorenko also stated that Russia currently has an advantage in terms of quantity of drones. Nevertheless, Ukrainian Commander of Ground Forces Oleksandr Syrsky reported that Ukrainian forces are successfully blunting Russian forces’ attempts to seize the initiative.
* DONETSK: Geolocated footage posted on 14 November indicates that Russian forces made marginal advances into the Avdiivka industrial zone near Yasnynuvata Lane, around 0.6 miles (1km) south-east of Avdiivka. On 14 November, another Russian source said that the Russian troops were using ‘Wagner tactics’ in eastern Stepove, located five miles (8km) north-west of Avdiivka, launching small group assaults against Ukrainian positions. This is further evidence that Russia is launching highly attritional infantry-led frontal assaults conducted without armoured vehicle support. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed on 15 November that the Russian command has decided to intensify the shelling of Ukrainian fortified positions south of Avdiivka.
* KHERSON: Ukrainian operations on the left bank of the Dnieper remained on trend over the past 48 hours. Geolocated footage posted on 13 November indicates that Ukrainian forces marginally advanced near Krynky, the focal point of fighting, located 18 miles (30km) north-east of Kherson city. One prominent milblogger noted the Ukrainian presence on the left bank has necessitated the transfer of Russian units from unspecified areas to help contain the Ukrainian attack. The Ukrainian presence continues to cause concern in the Russian information space. On 15 November, the Russian-installed governor of Kherson, Volodymyr Saldo, released a message attempting to downplay the Ukrainian bridgehead. Saldo claimed that the deployment of additional Russian forces had blocked Ukrainian forces at Krynky. However, the fact Saldo released the message is ultimately indicative of growing concern around the failure of Russian efforts to rebuff the Ukrainian assault.
* OSKIL-KREMINNA: Nothing significant to report
* SOUTHERN: Nothing significant to report
* STRIKES: Ukraine’s General Staff reported that on 14 November, air defences intercepted two Shahed-136/131 drones, 17 reconnaissance drones and one Kh-59 missile. Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that air defences intercepted a Ukrainian drone over Smolensk oblast early on 15 November.
* MOBILISATION: Russian law enforcement reportedly raided a restaurant in Voronezh oblast on 14 November where a large group of Azerbaijani migrants were celebrating and issued around 50 military summonses. While the report cannot be confirmed, it underscores Russia’s ongoing crypto-mobilisation efforts, as well as the disproportionate targeting of migrants from the former Soviet Union to replenish its manpower without having to call further rounds of national mobilisation (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 23 October 2023). On 7 November, around 20 wives of mobilised men staged an unauthorised protest in central Moscow to demand the return of their husbands from the front. While the rally was quickly suppressed, Russian authorities will seek to limit societal discontent in Russia’s most affluent cities by avoiding national mobilisation.
* MIGRATION: The deputy chairman of Russia’s State Duma, Pyotr Tolstoy, proposed on 14 November to ban migrants from countries that do not recognise Russian as a state language from working in the service industry. This includes taxi drivers, cashiers and couriers, with the comments highly likely aimed at migrants from Central Asia. As of 2022, close to 60,000 migrants worked as taxi drivers in Moscow, including 44,600 Kyrgyz citizens, 5,200 Tajik citizens and 3,400 Uzbeks.
* MIGRATION: Russia, including its capital city Moscow, is highly reliant on workers from Central Asia undertaking such work. It is therefore unlikely that such a measure would be introduced given labour shortages within the country. Nevertheless, such comments are likely part of Russia’s ongoing efforts to coerce Central Asian migrants into serving in the Russian military if they perceive that their opportunities for work in Russia are at risk of being diminished significantly.
* ELECTIONS: On 14 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved changes to the law that governs presidential elections, imposing new media restrictions. According to the amendments, only journalists contractually employed by registered media outlets will be allowed to cover the presidential elections planned for March 2024. The amendments prohibit journalists from covering the Central Election Commission’s activities at military bases or in areas under martial law without formal approval from regional and military authorities. The measures also include prohibiting campaign activity on ‘blocked sources’, referring to banned websites and social media services. However, given that many Russians access banned social media networks through virtual private networks (VPNs), the Russian authorities reportedly plan to block certain VPNs.
BLACK SEA: Ukrainian officials disclosed on 14 November that Ukraine and the UK have agreed on a scheme that allows discounts on war risk insurance premiums for Black Sea exports. The mechanism is clearly aimed at restoring confidence in the viability of such exports after a Russian missile hit a civilian vessel in one of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 10 November 2023). International media reported that war risk insurance premiums rose sharply after.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that the scheme will make the Black Sea ‘corridor’ more accessible to a wider range of exporters. Ukraine launched a ‘humanitarian corridor’ in August that initially allowed the release of cargo ships which had been trapped in its Black Sea ports since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Some 14 insurers are involved in the scheme, as well as the Export Credit Agency, Ukrgasbank and Ukreximbank, Ukraine’s leading bank in the financing of exports and imports.
Shmyhal also said that the Ukrainian government has allocated funds to guarantee the coverage of losses should they occur, but did not specify the sum. While the mechanism will possibly simplify the process for some shipowners to receive insurance coverage for Black Sea exports, the threat of Russian military aggression or miscalculation will continue in the medium-to-long term. This could realistically deter some shipowners and crew from utilising the scheme. However, the US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, reported on 13 November that the 100th ship to use Ukraine’s ‘humanitarian corridor’ had departed, indicating that maritime traffic is nevertheless still flowing.
Similarly, on 14 November, Bloomberg reported that Kyiv is starting an insurance programme with broker Marsh McLennan and Lloyd’s of London to provide cover for grain vessels travelling from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Ukraine’s first Deputy Prime minister and Economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko was quoted as stating that Kyiv is launching a USD 50 m scheme for insuring ships against military risks.
Freight costs have also reportedly eased back to their former levels as of 10 November, according to international media. Sea freight rates briefly rose to USD 20 per tonne, though an unspecified Ukrainian government source declined to provide the current level of the costs. Potential repeat incidents will likely similarly produce fluctuations in sea freight costs, which could realistically decline after a short spike.
*SHIPPING: Insurance discounts for Black Sea exports are unlikely to reassure shipowners, crew. Ukrainian officials disclosed on 14 November that Ukraine and the UK have agreed on a scheme that allows discounts on war risk insurance premiums for Black Sea exports. Ukraine launched a ‘humanitarian corridor’ in August that initially allowed the release of cargo ships which had been trapped in its Black Sea ports since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that the scheme will make the Black Sea ‘corridor’ more accessible to a wider range of exporters. On 8 November, Ukraine stated that a Russian missile struck a civilian vessel in one of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, after which international media reported that war risk insurance premiums rose sharply. While the mechanism will possibly simplify the process for some shipowners to receive insurance coverage for Black Sea exports, the threat of Russian military aggression or miscalculation will be sustained in the medium-to-long term.
* OFFENSIVES: Poor weather conditions are slowing the pace of both Russian and Ukrainian operations across the frontline. On 13 November, Ukrainian Southern Command Spokesperson Nataliya Humenyuk reported that poor weather conditions were complicating Russian aviation operations along the southern front. Ukrainian Ground Forces Command Spokesperson Volodymyr Fityo reported that rain and muddy conditions in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts are complicating both sides’ ability to make tactical advances. Both Russian milbloggers and Ukrainian sources have reported that rain and strong winds are complicating operations near Avdiivka (Donetsk oblast) and the main areas of fighting in Zaporizhzhia oblast. Poor weather will highly likely continue to slow the pace of operations in the coming weeks.
* BAKHMUT: Geolocated footage posted on 12 November indicates that Russian forces likely marginally advanced west of Yahidne, located approximately one mile (2km) north of Bakhmut. On 13 and 14 November Russian milbloggers reported that Russian forces expanded control near Berkhivka, located around 3 miles (5km) north-west of Bakhmut, though we cannot confirm this. Russian milbloggers have reported various degrees of success in attacks towards Klischiivka, but the Ukrainian General Staff reported earlier on 14 November that attacks in this direction were repelled.
* OSKIL-KREMINNA: Geolocated footage from 13 November indicates that Russian forces marginally advanced west of Volodymyrivka, located around 12 miles (19km) north-west of Svatove (Luhansk oblast).
* DONETSK: Nothing significant to report
* KHERSON: Nothing significant to report
* SOUTHERN: Nothing significant to report
* STRIKES: Overnight on 13-14 November, Russia launched nine Shahed-136/131 drones, one Iskander-M ballistic missile and one Kh-35 missile. Ukraine’s Air Force reported that air defences intercepted seven drones. The Air Force did not provide information on the missile strikes. Kharkiv oblast governor Oleh Synyehubov said that regional air defences shot four of six drones targeting the Izium district in Kharkiv oblast, with the remaining drones damaging a civilian building. Another drone was reportedly destroyed over Pavlohrad in Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Serhiy Lysak, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk, reported that three drones struck Nikopol (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), killing one person and injuring three.
* STRIKES: Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that air defences intercepted drones targeting Bryansk, Moscow, Orel and Tambov oblasts earlier on 14 November. A Telegram channel, Baza, reported that the attack damaged a chemical plant manufacturing explosives and ammunition in Bryansk oblast. Another Telegram channel reported that drones damaged the building of the Mechanical Engineering Design Bureau, which manufactures Kinzhal and Iskander ballistic missiles near Moscow.
* PRODUCTION: Satellite imagery indicates that Russia is making progress in constructing a plant that will mass produce Iranian-designed kamikaze drones that have been used to strike Ukraine. On 13 November, the Institute for Science and International Security said that a satellite image from mid-September showed that new construction at the plant ‘directly’ correlated with a leaked building floor plan that the Washington Post shared with the institute earlier this year. According to the report, JSC Alabuga (the plant’s owner) is making progress in carrying out its production plans, which include not only adopting Iranian production processes but improving and streamlining them. The institute claimed that this is with the ultimate aim of advancing the drone’s capabilities.
* PRODUCTION: The institute claimed that with winter fast approaching, Russia can be expected to accelerate its Shahed-136 drone attacks against Ukraine’s vital energy infrastructure. Russia is highly likely to ramp up strikes against energy facilities this autumn-winter period, akin to the campaign it conducted in the corresponding period in 2022-2023. Further progress on the plant likely intends to decrease Russia’s reliance on importing drones from its allies in the long term, with domestic manufacturing capabilities likely to better ensure a stable volume of the equipment throughout the course of the conflict. Kyiv has indicated that Russia’s domestic production of Shahed drones will likely result in greater use of these weapons in the upcoming strike campaign compared to the previous one.
* OIL: On 13 November, Reuters reported that the US Treasury Department is investigating around 100 vessels suspected of assisting Russia in circumventing the oil price cap. In December 2022, the EU and G7 countries imposed a USD 60 per barrel (pb) price cap on Russian crude oil shipments. On 14 November, the Financial Times reported that Moscow has almost been able to circumvent the price cap fully by building a fleet of ageing oil tankers and by decreasing its reliance on Western insurance companies.
* OIL: EU and US officials are reportedly discussing how to enforce co-operation with the oil cap, given oil remains a key source of revenue for Russia. This will possibly increase compliance risks for Western insurance and shipping companies still involved in Russian oil shipments. Western officials are looking at how to restrict Moscow’s access to used oil tankers, though such a measure will be more difficult to implement in the short term. As such, Russia is likely to continue to evade the price cap. Further sanctions and measures to enforce compliance are likely in the coming months.
BORDERS: A partial blockade of three border crossings by Polish truck drivers will highly likely continue in the coming days after negotiations on 13 November failed to achieve a breakthrough. Since 6 November, Polish truck drivers have blocked the crossing of Ukrainian truck drivers at the Dorohusk- Yavhodyn, Hrebenne- Rava-Ruska and Korczowa- Krakivets border checkpoints. The protesters have called for the reimposition of restrictions on the entry of Ukrainian trucks into the EU market; they also complain that an electronic queue system used on the Ukrainian side has created significant delays for Polish hauliers attempting to cross from Ukraine to Poland. The Ukrainian delegation, which included Ukraine’s Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhiy Derkach, rejected the demands of the Polish hauliers.
No representative from the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure attended the talks on 13 November as the Polish parliament convened for the first time since the general election on 15 October. As Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is currently attempting to pull together a viable coalition after failing to secure a majority of seats, the situation at the border is unlikely to be a government priority in the coming week, which will likely add to the difficulty of further negotiations. We assess that a pro-EU government led by former prime minister Donald Tusk is highly likely to form, but not until December. This administration will be less willing to challenge the EU’s liberalisation of trade with the EU and will hope to improve ties with Kyiv, but will also be keen to be seen acting in the interests of the Polish truckers.
The organisers of the Polish protest plan to expand the partial in the absence of a breakthrough in talks with the Ukrainian side. On 20 November, the Polish organisers plan to extend the blockade to the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing. There are also indications that the protest could expand to neighbouring countries bordering Ukraine. Notably on 13 November, reports indicated that Slovakian truck drivers could possibly stage blockades due to similar concerns over the EU’s liberalisation of rules for Ukrainian truck drivers operating in the bloc. Should truck drivers in Slovakia and Hungary join the blockade, this would significantly increase cross-border friction and supply chain disruption.
The protest will continue to cause supply chain disruption for logistics and haulage companies as long as it persists, which could be until 3 January. On 9 November, Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service (DPSU) reported that approximately 1,700 trucks had been prevented from crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border due to the protests. The protesters are allowing the transit of military and humanitarian aid, having made clear that the protest is not anti-Ukrainian, but rather a response to rules they perceive to be unfair. Nevertheless, general traffic disruption prompted by the protests will possibly lead to minor delays in aid deliveries.
* BAKHMUT: On 12 November, Ukrainian Commander of Ground Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Russian forces had intensified attacks near Bakhmut in an attempt to recapture previously lost positions. Syrskyi added that all of the attacks were repelled. One prominent Russian milblogger has framed increased Russian attacks near Bakhmut in the past week as evidence that Ukrainian forces have now gone on the defence in this sector. It is possible that Ukraine has reallocated troops previously deployed at Bakhmut to other more pressing sectors of the frontline, which Kyiv’s Western allies though we cannot confirm this. While Russian forces have made likely very marginal advances in the past week, the lines of control at Bakhmut are currently unlikely to change significantly.
* DONETSK: Geolocated footage posted on 10 November indicates that Russian forces advanced into eastern Stepove, located five miles (8km) northwest of Avdiivka. The footage also indicates that Russian troops advanced across the railway south-east of Stepove and north of Stepove. On 10 and 11 November, Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian force had consolidated their positions in the outskirts of Stepove. Meanwhile, geolocated footage from 11 November indicates that Ukrainian forces progressed south of Avdiivka, near the E-50 highway, as of 10 November.
* OSKIL-KREMINNA: Geolocated footage from 12 November indicates that Russian forces advanced west of the settlement of Serhiivka, located seven miles (12km) west of Svatove (Luhansk oblast). This highly likely confirms previous Russian claims that Russian forces have captured the settlement (though this is in itself strategically insignificant). On 11 November, Ukrainian Ground Forces Command spokesperson Volodymyr Fityo reported that while Russian forces continue attacks in the direction of Kupiank, they are also regrouping, having failed to achieve any strategic breakthrough in ongoing offensive operations here over the past month.
* KHERSON: Geolocated footage posted on 12 November indicates that Ukrainian forces have marginally advanced in ongoing operations on the left bank of the Dnieper in Kherson oblast. The footage indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced further in the settlement of Krynky, located 18 miles (30km) north-east of Kherson city. Russian milbloggers continue to observe the situation on the left bank with concern, reporting that Ukrainian forces have been able to transfer further equipment and personnel. In addition to Russian efforts to dislodge Ukrainian forces operating on the left bank, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Russia continues intensive shelling of the right bank of the Dnieper, likely in a bid to disrupt Ukrainian efforts to expand the bridgehead on the left bank.
* SOUTHERN: Nothing significant to report.
* STRIKES: Overnight on 10-11 November, Russia launched 31 Shahed-136, two Kh-59 cruise missiles, one Kh-31 missile, one p-800 onyx missile and one Iskander-M ballistic at Ukrainian targets. Air defences were activated in Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Kyiv, Poltava, Odesa, and Sumy oblasts. Air defences reportedly destroyed 19 drones and one Kh-59 missile. In Kyiv oblast, a US-provided Patriot air defence system intercepted the Iskander-M ballistic missile. Ukrainian officials claimed that it was the first time in nearly two months that a Russian strike targeted the Ukrainian capital. On 12 November, Russian forces launched two Kh-59 cruise missiles and one Iskander-M ballistic missile against Mykolaiv oblast. Air defences reportedly intercepted one Kh-59 missile. According to local authorities, the remaining missiles hit an open area in the oblast, with falling debris damaging residential buildings.
* STRIKES: Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Energy Ministry reported that Russian shelling against energy infrastructure caused blackouts in six regions, including Chernihiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Sumy and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, on 10 November.
* STRIKES: On 10 November, Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko stated that Ukraine could possibly attack Russian oil and gas infrastructure in retaliation to Russian attacks against energy facilities. Kyiv has repeatedly demonstrated the capability to strike targets deep inside Russian territory, including both military assets and energy infrastructure used to supply the Russian war effort. Given that Russia already intends to conduct a strike campaign against Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, its means of retaliatory action are limited. It is possible that any such response from Ukraine would lead to an escalation in Russia’s rhetoric; it would also possibly lead to additional strikes on civilian targets.
* STRIKES: Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that air defences destroyed a Ukrainian drone over Belgorod oblast on 12 November. The governor of Russia’s Bryansk oblast, Alexander Bogomaz, claimed that on 11 November, air defences intercepted four drones and one drone on 10 November. The Russian MoD reported that air defences foiled similar drone attacks over Moscow and Smolensk oblasts.
* AID: Politico reported on 10 November that EU defence ministers are due to meet in Brussels (Belgium) on 14 November, but noted that some of the bloc’s pledges to provide Ukraine with military aid and funding are stalling. One unnamed diplomat told the outlet that it will be ‘very difficult’ for the EU to reach its target to provide Ukraine with one m artillery rounds by mid-March 2024 (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 26 October 2023). According to Politico, industry executives report that staff shortages and problems sourcing adequate supplies of explosives are some of the difficulties facing contractors as they seek to increase production. These delays to EU deliveries will likely be felt more acutely amid current concerns over delays to US military aid.
* AID: Reuters reported on 13 November that an EU plan to spend up to EUR 20 bn (USD 21.4 bn) on military aid for Ukraine is meeting resistance from certain EU member states. The plan envisions the bloc creating a fund with up to EUR 5 bn annually spread out over four years as part of broader Western security commitments to Ukraine. However, unnamed diplomats claimed that several EU countries, including Germany, are reticent to commit such large sums years in advance. Three unnamed diplomats said the bloc may decide to issue assistance on a year-by-year basis rather than opt for a larger amount stretching over four years. While the veracity of the report cannot be confirmed, it underscores internal divisions over aiding Ukraine in the long term, which could realistically significantly undermine its ability to fight an attritional war against Russia.
* ASSASSINATIONS: Ukraine said on 12 November that a blast by ‘local resistance movements’ in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia oblast) killed at least three Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) officers. Ukraine’s military intelligence (GUR) said the attack on 11 November was carried out during a meeting between Russia’s federal security service (FSB) and Rosgvardia officers. It comes shortly after the GUR claimed responsibility for the assassination of a senior figure in Russian-occupied Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 8 November 2023). While the GUR’s claims cannot be confirmed, it likely demonstrates that Ukrainian partisans are able to co-ordinate effective attacks against Russian personnel within Russian-occupied Ukraine; further successful (or attempted) assassinations are likely in the coming weeks.
SABOTAGE: On 11 November, the Washington Post published a report alleging that elements of Ukraine’s military intelligence (GUR) co-ordinated the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in September 2022. The Post cited unspecified Ukrainian and European officials, as well as other people familiar with the operation. While the veracity of the report cannot be confirmed, nor can Ukrainian involvement, the Post claimed that it is the most ‘direct evidence to date’ linking Ukraine’s military to the sabotage. It is also notably the first instance of (unnamed) Ukrainian officials confirming Ukrainian involvement in the incident.
It claimed that Colonel Roman Chervinsky, who served in Ukraine’s special operations forces, was responsible for co-ordinating the operation. He allegedly managed logistics and support for a six-person team that rented a sailboat (the so-called ‘Andromeda’) under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to place explosive charges on the gas pipelines. While Chervinsky did not allegedly plan the operation, he reportedly took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials reporting to Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valery Zaluzhnyi.
The timing of the publication is noteworthy, given Zaluzhnyi’s assessment that Ukraine will most likely not achieve a significant military breakthrough without fundamental changes to alter the current impasse on the battlefield. While Zelensky later denied on 4 November that the war had reached a stalemate (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 6 November 2023), it was potentially the starkest public disagreement thus far between Ukraine’s presidency and military leadership.
According to the Post, Chervinsky has served in senior positions in the GUR, as well as Ukraine’s security service (SBU), and is close to key military and security leaders. He has also allegedly helped carry out other secretive operations. This includes one in 2020 to lure Wagner Group fighters into Belarus with the alleged goal of capturing and bringing them to Ukraine to be charged. Chervinsky has refuted any role in the sabotage of the infrastructure, claiming that such allegations are being spread by Russian propaganda without any basis. Chervinsky has been detained since April on charges that he abused his power by plotting to coax a Russian pilot in July 2022 to defect to Ukraine without formal approval.
An unnamed spokesperson for Ukraine’s military told international media that he had ‘no information’ about the Post’s report. Ukraine’s foreign ministry and the SBU did not respond to requests for comment. The latest allegations have yet to be officially confirmed and international investigations into the sabotage are ongoing. German investigators, however, are reportedly convinced that a small team of Ukrainians linked to Zaluzhnyi were indeed behind the sabotage. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied Kyiv’s involvement in the sabotage in June. The Post’s sources said Zelensky was not involved in the planning of the operation and that the Nord Stream operation was deliberately designed to keep Zelensky unaware.
Regardless, the possibility of direct Ukrainian involvement could raise tensions with Kyiv’s allies in Europe, such as Berlin, and the US. Ukrainian sabotage operations on civilian infrastructure (alleged or confirmed) far removed from the battlefield could realistically decrease Western domestic support for Ukraine. Ukraine’s Western partners will likely seek greater assurances that such operations will not be conducted in the future. The report further alleged that Kyiv did not sanction several high-profile operations conducted by the military. Ultimately, the report reinforces divisions between the presidency and elements of the military.
*Ukraine: Sabotage allegations likely underscore tensions between civilian, military leadership. On 11 November, the Washington Post published an investigation alleging that elements of Ukraine’s military intelligence co-ordinated the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in September 2022. According to unnamed Ukrainian and European sources, Colonel Roman Chervinsky conducted the operation, taking orders from senior military officials reporting to Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valery Zaluzhnyi. Ukrainian officials have not yet commented on the report. In June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied Kyiv’s involvement in the sabotage. The Post’s sources said Zelensky was not involved in the planning of the operation. Chervinsky has been detained since April for having organised the defection of a Russian pilot in July 2022 without formal approval. The report further alleged that Kyiv did not sanction several high-profile operations conducted by the military. The latest allegations have yet to be officially confirmed; international investigations into the sabotage are ongoing. However, the report highlights tensions between the presidency and elements of the military.
*Moldova: Fugitive politician’s alleged Russia trip possibly intended to increase destabilisation efforts. On 12 November, the head of Interpol’s office in Moldova, Viorel Tentiu, said Moldovan pro-Russia oligarch Ilan ?or has returned to Israel, where he is based in exile, after alleging visiting Russia. The pro-West government in Chinu has accused his pro-Moscow party of attempting to destabilise Moldova. The party was banned in June. It is unknown where ?or went or where his flight had originated, but he returned to Israel on 8 November. Moldovan media reported on 8 November that ?or travelled to ?stanbul (Turkey) via Russian bnaire Roman Abramovich’s plane before flying to Moscow (Russia). Abramovich’s representatives denied the reports, however. If ?or had indeed travelled to Russia, the visit was possibly intended to further increase Russian and pro-Russia destabilisation efforts within Moldova ahead of the presidential elections in 2024. China’s pro-EU government will nevertheless remain vulnerable to pro-Russia destabilisation in the long term despite efforts to curtail or and his party’s influence. (Source: Sibylline)
20 Nov 23. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Visits Ukraine. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III traveled to Ukraine today to meet with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the staunch support of the United States for Ukraine’s fight for freedom. He will also underscore the continued U.S. commitment to providing Ukraine with the security assistance it needs to defend itself from Russian aggression, while also discussing a long-term vision for Ukraine’s future force.
During his visit, Secretary Austin will engage in high-level talks with Ukrainian leadership. The discussions will focus on further bolstering the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine, to include ensuring Ukraine’s armed forces have the battlefield capabilities they need for both the winter and to defend their country against future Russian threats.
Later this week, Secretary Austin will also host the 17th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group virtually from the Pentagon, continuing the vital work of international coordination and support for Ukraine with nearly 50 nations expected to participate. (Source: U.S. DoD)
19 Nov 23. Russian hitmen and saboteurs target Bulgaria’s arms industry, magnate says on facebook (opens in a new window) Russian hitmen and saboteurs target Bulgaria’s arms industry, magnate says on linkedin. A Bulgarian arms magnate who survived two Russian assassination attempts has raised the alarm about a sabotage campaign that he says Moscow has been waging for years as it tries to disrupt crucial weapons supplies to Ukraine. Emilian Gebrev, whose company, Emco, produces much of the Bulgarian output of Soviet-standard bullets and tank shells shipped to Kyiv, told the Financial Times that Russian saboteurs have actively targeted his factories and depots — including after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. “The Russian threats [mean] a new set of measures should be undertaken at a national level, as well as the level of the alliance,” he wrote in emailed answers to questions. He was referring to Nato, of which Bulgaria has been a member since 2004. The arms manufacturer said Russian military intelligence (GRU) operatives who tried to kill him twice in 2015 “obviously acted on orders from a very high level in Moscow”, but said it remained unclear why Russia “would use subversive methods on defence-related sites and [against] individual lives on Nato and EU soil”. No Russian operatives were captured or prosecuted in connection with his poisonings and the explosions at his company’s sites, a failure that Gebrev blamed on Moscow’s ongoing influence over Bulgaria’s government. Bulgaria [has been] too exposed and relaxed, offering a convenient environment for the GRU agents to operate freely Emilian Gebrev Russian meddling, which also extends to political parties and the media, threatens Bulgaria’s growing ambition to increase production of Soviet-era weapons and ammunition used by Ukraine and clients around the developing world, according to analysts and government officials. The Balkan nation of 7mn — one of Moscow’s closest allies during the cold war — has remained a prime area of operations for Russian agents, according to Gebrev and other industry insiders. They say infiltration is particularly acute in the country’s prosecutorial and security services. Since the cold war, “Bulgaria [has been] too exposed and relaxed, offering a convenient environment for the GRU agents to operate freely,” Gebrev said. Gebrev was poisoned in 2015 with an organophosphate nerve agent similar to novichok — a substance used three years later in the assassination attempt against former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal on British soil. In Gebrev’s case, the nerve agent was smeared on his car’s door handle in a Sofia car park. He fell into a coma for several weeks, but recovered. A few months later at his summer home, he started displaying similar poisoning symptoms and was rushed to hospital and treated. Bulgarian prosecutors investigated three GRU agents suspected of having handled the nerve agent and charged them with “attempted murder”. But in 2020, the proceedings were suspended, with authorities citing stalled progress and a lack of international legal assistance. (Source: FT.com)
19 Nov 23. Zelenskiy calls for rapid operations changes for soldiers, sacks commander.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday demanded rapid changes in the operations of Ukraine’s military and announced the dismissal of the commander of the military’s medical forces.
Zelenskiy’s move was announced as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, and coincided with debate over the conduct of the 20-month-old war against Russia, with questions over how quickly a counteroffensive in the east and south is proceeding.
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“In today’s meeting with Defence Minister Umerov, priorities were set,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”
Zelenskiy said he had replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces.
“The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers,” he said.
This, he said, included a range of issues — better tourniquets, digitalisation and better communication.
Umerov acknowledged the change on the Telegram messaging app and set as top priorities digitalisation, “tactical medicine” and rotation of servicemen.
Ukraine’s military reports on what it describes as advances in recapturing occupied areas in the east and south and last week acknowledged that troops had taken control of areas on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in southern Kherson region.
Ukrainian commander in chief General Valery Zaluzhniy, in an essay published this month, said the war was entering a new stage of attrition and Ukraine needed more sophisticated technology to counter the Russian military.
While repeatedly saying advances will take time, Zelenskiy has denied the war is headed into a stalemate and has called on Kyiv’s Western partners, mainly the United States, to maintain levels of military support.
Ostashchenko was replaced by Major-General Anatoliy Kazmirchuk, head of a military clinic in Kyiv.
Her dismissal came a week after a Ukrainian news outlet suggested her removal, as well as that of others, was imminent following consultations with paramedics and other officials responsible for providing support to the military.
17 Nov 23. Netherlands budgets $2.2bn in military aid for Ukraine. The Netherlands is making €2bn ($2.2bn) available for military aid to Ukraine in 2024, the Dutch Ministry of Defence said.
The funds will be used to address Ukraine’s needs for ammunition and maintenance of platforms and systems already delivered, as well as strengthen the country’s air defenses so it can continue to defend itself against attacks on critical infrastructure, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“With this substantial amount, we send a clear signal that we are determined to continue our support for Ukraine, now and in the future,” Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a post on X.
The Netherlands has been one of the largest providers of military aid to Ukraine following the invasion by Russia, with €2.48 billion pledged as of end-July, according to data compiled by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Only the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Norway, Poland and Denmark have provided more military support.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius this week confirmed plans to boost military support for Ukraine, following media reports the government seeks to double the aid to €8 billion in 2024.
The Dutch aid will be provided through commercial procurement, in the form of supplies from stockpiles and through cooperation with international partners. The Netherlands and Denmark are in charge of coordinating European efforts to provide Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jet, with the Dutch stationing five aircraft of the aircraft at a training center in Romania this month.
The support will also cover technologically advanced equipment, the Dutch ministry said, without providing details. Money will also be spent on improving Ukraine’s cybersecurity.
The Netherlands will continue to train Ukrainian military personnel in 2024. The country has provided dozens of instructors and troops since October 2022 to train Ukrainian recruits, both in the U.K. and as part of the European Union training mission.
With the planned support, the Dutch government will be honoring the commitment signed at the NATO meeting in Vilnius in July to continue to support Ukraine in the long term, the ministry said.
The Netherlands has previously provided equipment to Ukraine including T-72 tanks, Patriot air defense systems, PzH 2000 155 mm self-propelled howitzers and two Alkmaar-class minehunter vessels. The country teamed up with Denmark to supply F-16s and Leopard 2A4 tanks, and joined with Denmark and Germany to deliver more than 100 Leopard 1 tanks. (Source: Defense News)
17 Nov 23. Ukrainian forces have established several fortified bridgeheads on the Russian-occupied left bank of the Dnipro river in their most significant territorial advance for weeks in their otherwise stalled counteroffensive. Ukraine’s military confirmed the advances in a statement on Friday without naming where they were. “The Ukrainian marines, in co-operation with other units of the defence forces, managed to gain a foothold on several bridgeheads,” read the statement. Russia also acknowledged the Ukrainian presence for the first time. Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-appointed governor of Russian-occupied Kherson province, said on Telegram that Ukrainian forces were in one area, near the village of Krynky — 18 miles north-east of Kherson city. A western official said on Thursday that Ukraine had moved “elements of three brigades” to the Russian-occupied east bank of the river, and confirmed reports last week by Russian military bloggers that Ukraine has moved some vehicles across. A brigade typically numbers 2,000 to 5,000 soldiers but the official said the Ukrainian contingent probably consisted of “hundreds”. (Source: FT.com)
17 Nov 23. Ukraine’s artillery supply declines as shells go to Israel. President Zelenskyy confirms that 155mm deliveries are drying up, even as Russia presses an assault in the east.
Ukraine has seen a decline of deliveries of vital 155mm shells since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, even as Ukrainian parliamentarians warn of a dangerous shortage of ammunition across the front lines.
“Our supplies have decreased. It is life—and it is normal, as everyone is fighting for survival,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv on Thursday.
U.S. stocks of 155mm rounds that were originally meant for Ukraine are now being shipped to Israel, Axios has reported. The number of rounds were in the “tens of thousands,” according to the report, or close to U.S. monthly production rates.
The U.S. has delivered over two million 155mm rounds to Ukraine in the year and eight months since Russia’s February 2022 invasion. It has more than doubled production of the shells, going from 12,000 a month before Russia’s invasion to 28,000 now. EU members likewise emptied their stocks, and the EU as a whole launched a plan to supply one million 155mm rounds between March 2023 and March 2024.
Despite the effort, though, ammunition has frequently been tight. Ukraine uses 240,000 shells a month, a figure far higher than U.S. monthly production rates. Ukrainian troops regularly report ammo shortages across the front lines, even in hotspots like the country’s east.
The EU is also set to miss its March 2024 goal to supply one million rounds, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said this week.
Zelensky’s news of a reduction in U.S. deliveries, meanwhile, comes at a particularly challenging moment for Ukraine as Russia steps up its assaults near Avdiivka, a eastern-Ukrainian city where intense fighting resembles that seen in Bakhmut last winter.
“The situation is quite difficult,” said Ukrainian parliamentarian Yehor Cherniev. “The intensity of heavy shelling from our side is lower and lower because of the lack of ammunition,”
The war in Gaza is not the only thing slowing the delivery of arms to Ukraine. The funding pool approved by Congress for Ukraine aid is nearly empty.
The U.S. supports Ukraine primarily through supplemental funding appropriations. These funds are split into the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which pays to replace weapons sent from U.S. storehouses to Ukraine, and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which buys brand-new weapons.
USAI exhausted its funds in mid-October, while PDA had just $1.6 billion in uncommitted funds remaining. Defense leaders have pressed Congress to approve more, but at least some lawmakers doubt much will be done amid the debate about what to do after the latest temporary federal-spending resolution expires early next year.
Meanwhile, Ukraine must bear up against Russian assaults.
“I go to the front lines often,” said Oleksandra Ustinova, who leads the Holos party faction in the Ukrainian parliment. “I’m afraid to even go there because people literally don’t have anything to shoot with.”
(Source: Defense One)
17 Nov 23. Finland’s 20th Package of Defence Materiel to Ukraine. Finland will send more defence materiel to assist Ukraine. The President of the Republic decided on the matter on 17 November 2023 on the proposal of the Government.
“What is at stake in Ukraine’s defence struggle is the security environment outlook on Europe and Finland in the current decade. Together with our allies, we remain unwavering in our commitment to support Ukrainians,” says Minister of Defence Antti Häkkänen.
This will be the 20th package of defence materiel to Ukraine. Replacement of the defence materiel capabilities contained in this package will cost Finland an estimated EUR 100 million.
“Finland’s 20 defence materiel packages now have a total compensation value of EUR 1.5 billion,” Minister of Defence says.
For operational reasons, and to ensure that the assistance will reach its destination safely, further details on the content of the package, the way it is delivered, or the schedule will not be given.
Both Ukraine’s needs and the resources of the Defence Forces have been taken into account when deciding on additional assistance.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Finnish Ministry of Defence)
17 Nov 23. Electronic Warfare in Ukraine.
Electronic Warfare in Ukraine- Preliminary Lessons for NATO Air Power Capability Development is an article authored by Duncan McCrory, for the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC).
Since the 2008 military reforms, the Russian Federation has made substantial investments in Cyber and Electronic Warfare (EW) as an asymmetric response to NATO’s reliance on advanced electronic systems for military capabilities. Despite this investment, Russia has not fully leveraged these capabilities during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. This document addresses key issues and recommends developing EW capabilities to enhance the survivability and effectiveness of NATO air operations in highly contested environments. The insights presented in this paper are based on a presentation given by the author at the NATO Integrated Air & Missile Defence conference held at the Italian Air & Space Operations Command in Poggio Renatico on March 23, 2023.
Publication Date- October 2023
Electronic Warfare in Ukraine- Preliminary Lessons for NATO Air Power Capability Development contains the following major sections:
• Electronic Warfare During the Initial Invasion
• Russia’s Command and Control Issues
• VKS’s Vulnerability to GBAD
• Air Superiority Cannot Be Assumed
• NATO EW Capability Development Priorities
• Accelerating EW Capability Development
This content was posted with the permission of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre.
C-UAS Hub does not own this content and provides a link for users at the bottom of the page to access it in its original location. This allows the author(s) to track important article metrics related to their work. All credit goes to its rightful owner.
Author- Duncan McCrory (Source: https://cuashub.com/)
17 Nov 23. US, Ukraine announce military industry conference next month. Ukraine and the United States will hold a military industry conference in Washington on Dec. 6 and 7, Ukrainian and U.S. officials said on Friday.
Kyiv is ramping up efforts to produce its own weapons amid concerns that supplies from the West might be faltering. It also hopes joint ventures with international armament producers can help revive its domestic industry.
Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, said the meeting was “part of the U.S. government’s efforts to significantly increase weapons production to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom and security”.
Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, described the conference as a “very powerful event” to be attended by major defence industry players.
Zelenskiy had earlier spoken of the forthcoming meeting in his nightly video address, saying those participating would be “everyone involved in organising our defence”.
Zelenskiy said Kyiv and Washington were “actively progressing” on joint arms production. He said moves towards joint production would “undoubtedly strengthen both Americans and Ukrainians, as well as our partners”.
In October, Ukraine set up a joint venture with German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall AG (RHMG.DE) to service and repair Western weapons. In September, it hosted an international defence industry forum with more than 250 Western producers.
Zelenskiy said he had also discussed Ukraine’s missile programme with the military on Friday.
“Everyone can see that its results are becoming more long-range and favourable for Ukraine each year,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
16 Nov 23. DOD Aims to Ensure Availability of Spare Parts to Sustain Ukraine-Bound F-16s. The Defense Department is already participating in providing training to help ready Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 aircraft. The U.S. also expects to be ready to make sure spare parts are available for those aircraft. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department indicated willingness to approve the third-party transfer of U.S.-made F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have all announced intentions to do just that, pulling aircraft from their own fleets. To ensure the Ukrainians are successful with those F-16s, Ukrainian pilots have been training in the U.S. and Europe on both flight operations and maintenance.
Once those F-16s are in the hands of the Ukrainians, however, support will not stop. There will need to be spare parts to ensure they can be sustained and keep flying. The U.S. is prepared to do that as well, said William A. LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, during a discussion Tuesday with Washington, D.C. news organization Politico.
LaPlante said that with whatever is sent to the Ukrainians — and the U.S. has committed $44.2 billion in hardware and ammunition since February 2022 — it’s important also that spare parts be made available to maintain that gear.
“Whatever we all deliver to the Ukrainians, provide 90 days of spares, please, please, that’s the rule of thumb — 90 days of spares,” he said.
LaPlante said the F-16 aircraft Ukraine will receive, worth nearly a billion dollars, are no exception to that policy. Those aircraft will need the right spare parts and in the right numbers.
“That’s what we’re going through right now … to make sure it happens,” he said. “They’ll have enough when they get there. We want … it to be sustained. And it’s oftentimes the thing that is forgotten.”
Without spares, he said the F-16s the Ukrainians fly could be grounded in just a few months.
“We’re not going to let that happen,” he said. “And just because other countries provide their airplanes, we have to make sure if they don’t provide the spares that we find the spares and provide them.”
The department isn’t alone in its efforts to ensure the Ukrainians will be able to keep their F-16s flying after they take custody of them or in concerns about Ukraine’s long-term ability to defend itself. The U.S. and partners, especially though the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, are working together to ensure Ukraine has what it needs and is also able to provide for itself, over the long term.
“We’re working really hard with U.S. industry and actually with the Europeans and other countries around the world to begin to coordinate these industry days with the Ukrainians,” LaPlante said, referring to daylong meetings where industry and military representatives meet to discuss procurement issues. “I think what you’re going to see is this pivot for U.S. companies and companies around the world to help the Ukrainians build back what they have.” (Source: U.S. DoD)
17 Nov 23. Russian Black Sea fleet forced back, says Zelensky. Ukraine has seized the initiative from Moscow in the Black Sea and forced Russia’s naval fleet and warships to pull back, thanks to Kyiv’s use of naval drones, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
“For the first time in the world, it was in the Black Sea that a fleet of naval drones began to operate – a Ukrainian fleet,” the Ukrainian president said.
“We managed to seize the initiative from Russia in the Black Sea.”
Mr Zelensky’s remarks came as Lord Cameron travelled to Odesa, Ukraine’s major Black Sea port. Ukrainian forces have frequently attacked Russia’s navy in the Black Sea over the past year, forcing the Kremlin to withdraw warships from its naval base at Sevastopol and redeploy them further along the coast. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
17 Nov 23. Ukraine downs nine of 10 Russian drones – air force. Ukraine’s air defences shot down nine out of 10 Russian drones overnight over the southern Mykolayiv and Odesa regions and also near Zhytomyr in the centre and in the Khmelnytskyi region in the west of the country, the air force said on Friday.
Russia has intensified its strikes on Ukrainian ports, including Odesa, and grain infrastructure since July when Moscow pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a wartime deal that enabled Ukraine’s exports to reach African countries facing the threat of hunger.
The air force said in a statement that the Russian forces also launched several C-300 missiles during an overnight attack in the eastern Donetsk region, close to the frontline. Reuters was not immediately able to independently confirm details of the damage. (Source: Reuters)
16 Nov 23. Sometimes the Numbers do tell a story. It feels that in the twenty first century there has been a growing, maybe now myopic, focus on data (numbers) at the expense of judgement. However sometimes the numbers do tell a story. Here are some numbers to consider and perhaps help to form a judgement:
* The USA has announced that it will meet its target of producing 90,000 155mm rounds per month earlier than planned.
* Hanwha has stated that, with the support of the South Korean Government, it will establish in 2024 a third production line for the K9 155mm Howitzer. This will increase annual production capacity to 240 systems. The European capacity for 155mm howitzers of various types is likely to be orders of magnitude lower than this.
* In October 2023, France, which has one of the more capable ammunition manufacturing capabilities in Europe, announced that it has achieved a tripling of 155mm production to 3000 rounds per month.
* In November 2023 the EU admitted, to no one’s surprise, that it would fail in to produce 1,000,000 155mm rounds for Ukraine.
There are a number of points that can be made regarding the details of 155mm systems, and the variety of them in Europe. I suggest the more important conclusion to be drawn is that after 21 months of war in Europe, the nations of Europe, possibly with a couple of notable exceptions (Poland?), have failed to respond. The paradigm shifts in defence posture and economic focus that would be reasonable to expect have not happened. (Source: Paul Hough/Alterius Rei)
15 Nov 23. Swedish Archer Self-Propelled 155mm Guns Now in Ukraine. As a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Sweden decided to donate defence equipment to Ukraine earlier this year, including the state-of-the-art Archer artillery system. Just over eight months later, the Archers are on location in Ukraine and the crews have received training in Sweden.
Artillery Inspector and commanding officer of the Boden Artillery Regiment (A 8), Colonel Stephan Sjöberg, recently informed the A 8 personnel about the confirmed Archer deliveries and the preceding training mission.
“I understand that what you have done during this extremely intense period has “challenged your hearts and minds”. The war that our friends are fighting in Ukraine is justified, and I know that you understand the significance of integrity entailed in the task itself. And at the same time, I am aware of the challenges you have experienced as you have likely developed friendships during this intense training period”, Colonel Sjöberg says.
The training phase of the Ukrainian artillery crews has been fast-paced. David is one of several instructors who have trained the Ukrainians on the system that is now on site in the country.
“The students demonstrated a good capability to take on the advanced Archer system training, despite the language barrier. What stood out most was their willingness to learn, to master the system. The majority of those we have trained are used to older Soviet artillery systems, which, in combination with a sudden move to significantly more advanced technology, has posed a challenge”.
During the training, there have also been challenges regarding educational methodology and procedures. “It has been stressful for both instructors and students. However, my conclusion is that the Swedish training methodology works well”, says David.
The training effort has now been concluded and Colonel Stephan Sjöberg is careful to thank all the staff who worked on this mission.
“I want to thank you all as a colleague and as your commanding officer for all that you have achieved. I am especially happy to see that the training was carried out jointly by the army. Your contribution is of great importance to our friends in Ukraine”. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Swedish Armed Forces)
15 Nov 23. Senior EU Official Says Ukraine Artillery Pledge Won’t be Met by March. The European Union will miss its previously stated target of supplying Ukraine with one million artillery shells and missiles by next March.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius made the admission Tuesday before a summit of EU defense ministers in the Belgian capital Brussels. Pistorius’s comments were the first admission by a senior EU official that the goal would not be met, although many had expressed skepticism in private for months.
The pledge was made back in March in response to Ukraine’s need for artillery shells as its nearly two-year-old war with Russian invading forces has ground to a stalemate. The pledge was part of a three-part program to boost ammunition supplies to Ukraine, with the first part involving EU member states to contribute from their own stockpiles.
The second part involves EU countries ordering new shells from industry under a joint procurement initiative.
Pistorius said the EU is working with arms manufacturers to ramp up production of weapons and ammunition for Ukraine.
His admission comes just two days after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition agreed in principle to double the country’s military aid for Ukraine next year to about $8.5 bn, a political source in Berlin said Sunday.
If approved by parliament, where Scholz’s coalition holds a majority, the boost would lift Germany’s defense spending to 2.1% of its gross domestic product, exceeding the 2% target pledged by all NATO members, the source added.
Germany’s proposal comes amid reservations by multiple European Union countries, including Germany, about committing long-term military aid of up to $5bn annually over four years as part of broader Western security commitments to bolster Ukraine’s defenses.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy warned the nation during his nightly video address Sunday to brace for new waves of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure as winter approaches.
Ukraine has also reported an increased number of drone attacks from Russia timed to coincide with their ground attacks in Ukraine’s east.
Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that he received reports of increased attacks in the direction of Avdiivka, a city where Russia launched a large-scale offensive in mid-October before intensifying its efforts on other parts of the eastern front line.
Zelenskyy added that Ukraine is holding its ground despite the increased attacks.
These attacks come after Ukraine launched a counterattack on the east that has not moved as fast as anticipated because of strong Russian resistance. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Voice of America News)
15 Nov 23. Denmark Supports the EU’s €22bn Military Aid Fund for Ukraine. Troels Lund Poulsen: Denmark Supports the EU’s Military Aid Fund of DKK 150bn for Ukraine. Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen today participated in the EU defense minister’s meeting, where the focus was, among other things, on the proposal to establish a new military aid fund for Ukraine of up to DKK150bn (approx. $21.9bn—Ed.) under the European Peace Facility. This may result in an additional Danish contribution of approximately DKK 3.4bn.
The EU’s defense ministers have today discussed the continued support for Ukraine, including how the EU can provide security commitments that will help support Ukraine’s ability to defend itself in both the short and long term. A central initiative is the proposal for the creation of a military aid fund of approximately DKK 150 bn under the European Peace Facility (EFP), which will, among other things, support more joint purchases of ammunition and more advanced military equipment.
The proposal may result in an additional contribution of approximately DKK 3.4bn from the Ukraine Foundation, and there is Danish support for the proposal.
“Today we had an important discussion about how we in the EU can strengthen our military support for Ukraine and how we can ensure our strong and stable support in the long run. Specifically, we are working, among other things, to add approximately DKK150bn. to the European Peace Facility, to be earmarked for military support, ammunition and advanced military equipment for Ukraine in 2024-27. It is an effort that Denmark fully supports”, says Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.
Denmark contributes significantly to Ukraine’s long-term security, i.a. through the upcoming Danish donation of F-16 combat aircraft to Ukraine and the prior F-16 training efforts.
“From the Danish side, we have started the dialogue with the EU about how we can integrate the Danish F-16 training efforts during the EU’s military training mission in support of Ukraine. We do this so that Ukraine can receive the most coordinated support possible. This applies in particular to the training of Ukrainian forces, which the EU’s training mission tries to standardise,” says Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.
Overall, it is also important that both the EU and NATO maintain and continue their support for Ukraine, and that the future expansion of this support is planned. Therefore, Denmark supports the further development of the EU’s security commitment to Ukraine, and we do this in close cooperation with allies and partners. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Danish Ministry of Defence; issued Nov. 14, 2023)
15 Nov 23. Russian Lancet Drone Explodes Warhead a Few Feet Away from a Ukrainian Bradley. An advanced version of Russia’s Lancet drone appears to have a new way to evade Ukrainian armoured anti-tank grids and anti-drone nets. Russian forces posted a video of a Lancet drone striking a Ukrainian combat vehicle by exploding several feet away from the target.
It appears to be no accident. The newer Lancet’s warheads appear to detonate in the air before firing explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) toward the target, which Forbes describes as “slugs of molten metal.”
It differs from older Lancet models which used warheads that would detonate on impact, and could become entangled in metal anti-drone nets and not detonate properly.
The new drones appear to be equipped with lidar technology, involving a laser rangefinder made of two optical cameras, which can help detonate the warheads at the optimal distance, according to Ukrainian military portal Militarynyi.
EFPs can travel several meters without losing their shape and bypass the add-on protections on Ukrainian armor, according to the independent Russian organization the Conflict Intelligence Team.
“A video of the latest iteration of the Lancet loitering munition equipped with such a warhead striking a Bradley IFV was recorded on the Donetsk axis,”
the Conflict Intelligence Team said.
“In the footage, one can clearly distinguish two flashes occurring almost simultaneously: one when the charge explodes approximately four meters from the target, and a second when the EFP reaches the armoured vehicle.”
The organization noted that using EFPs with Lancet drones gives them “the greatest effect on the battlefield.”
While the advancements will put some Ukrainian vehicles at risk, the best-protected vehicles should still be able to fend off the attacks, Forbes said.
Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force Yurii Ihnat told LIGA.net the best way to counter the drones is to shoot them down in mid-flight or suppress them with electronic warfare.
He said that Ukrainian forces could target Orlan-10 drones, used for reconnaissance to help Lancets find their targets. (Source: UAS VISION/Insider)
14 Nov 23. Russia stole APCs and IFVs from Armenia and sent them to Ukraine. A video circulating on social media depicts the transit of extensive Russian machinery from a base in Nagorno-Karabakh, heading back to Russia.
The compilation of vehicles speculated to be included encompasses two Armenian-origin BMP-1/2s. This interesting discovery implies that these might have been procured by the Russians following Azerbaijan’s control over the region.
The footage below further highlights the Russian BTR-82A wheeled infantry combat vehicles and distinct truck-mounted vehicles. However, two makeshift structures, visually identical to sheds, demand the keenest observation.
Armenian camouflage pattern
While the first one doesn’t disclose any extraordinary features, a detailed analysis of the second reveals the front wheel of a BMP-1/2 infantry combat vehicle. The vehicle dons a camouflage pattern that is strikingly different from that employed by the Russian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The second vehicle of its kind is suspected to be in the first shed. The implications suggest that the Russians might be seizing equipment. This equipment was previously used by the Armenian forces. They used it to defend Nagorno-Karabakh. Anticipations are that the captured vehicles are likely to appear in the Russian fleet which may potentially be seen in Ukraine. The Arbalet Intelligence team, on website X, provides an insightful analysis of the entire situation.
It’s hypothesized that the Russians have potentially captured a significant assortment of vehicles and equipment. The Azerbaijanis have openly declared their acquisition of various Armenian-origin equipment during their occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
There’s a possibility that some of the equipment might be sold to the Russians, pending evaluation of its long-term relevance to the Azerbaijani armed forces.
The Russians gain an upper hand from this situation. This is because several of the vehicles and equipment types used by forces stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh closely align with those of the Russian military. Thus, there is no necessity for additional training for their soldiers.
The stolen Indian T-90 Bhishma tanks
Girish Linganna, an Indian journalist and Defense and aerospace analyst, suggested that Indian-owned tanks are seeing use by the Russian army in their conflict with Ukraine. This accusation was made during an interview with Frontier India. Linganna also operates as a Director at ADD Engineering Components [India] Pvt Ltd. It is an offshoot of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany, which has manufacturing operations in Russia.
Linganna maintains that India has imposed sanctions on Russia over the use of these tanks, implying that Russia retained and used these tanks without obtaining the necessary permission.
He states that the T-90 Bhishma, a tank owned by India, was sent to Russia with the original intent of undergoing modernization testing. This statement comes just after India’s recent official announcement that there were no issues regarding Russian equipment, their modernization, or the availability of replacement parts.
External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar reassured journalists of this during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
This unfolding scenario began with a video circulating on Telegram showing a Russian T-90 tank operated by Russian soldiers. Upon scrutinizing the footage, it appears to be a T-90S Bhishma tank – identified as the Indian variant of the export version, T-90C, of the T-90. (Source: Google/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
14 Nov 23. Report: Construction Progresses at Russian Plant for Iranian Drones. Satellite imagery shows progress in the construction in Russia of a plant that will mass produce Iranian-designed kamikaze drones that Moscow is expected to target against Ukrainian energy facilities, a research organization said on Monday.
Despite the headway, neither the United States nor its allies have imposed sanctions on the plant’s owner, JSC Alabuga, or its associated companies, said the Institute for Science and International Security report.
The White House, the Russian embassy and Iran’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The report said a mid-September satellite image showed that new construction at the plant “directly” correlated with a leaked building floor plan that the Washington Post shared with the institute earlier this year.
The building, according to other leaked documents, will be used for the mass production of Iran’s Shahed-136 that will include improving Iranian fabrication processes “and ultimately advancing the drone’s capabilities,” the report said.
The satellite image also showed the construction of other structures and new security perimeters with checkpoints, the report said.
“With winter fast approaching … Russia can be expected to accelerate its Shahed-136 attacks against Ukraine’s vital energy infrastructure, causing brutal living conditions for the civilian population,” the report said.
“A key overdue step” is for Washington to sanction Alabuga and its associated companies, the report continued.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday warned his country to prepare for Russian strikes on energy infrastructure. Last winter — about 10 months into its invasion — Russia unleashed waves of such attacks, prompting rolling blackouts.
The plant is located 800km (500 miles) east of Moscow in the Tartarstan Republic. Alabuga JSC is 66% owned by the federal government and 34% by the republic, the report said.
In June, the White House said Russia and Iran appeared to be deepening their defense cooperation and that in addition to supplying drones, Tehran was working with Moscow to produce Iranian drones in Alabuga.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Voice of America News;)
14 Nov 23. NATO Secretary General Addresses Protection of Critical Undersea Infrastructure, Support to Ukraine with EU Defence Ministers. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participated in a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union with EU Defence Ministers in Brussels on Tuesday (14 November 2023) to discuss the protection of critical undersea infrastructure and the importance of continued support to Ukraine.
The Secretary General stressed that the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year and the recent damage to the Balticconnector pipeline and cables show that infrastructure is vulnerable, and that threats are real and developing.
Since these incidents, NATO has stepped up air and naval patrols and increased presence in the Baltic and North Seas. At the Vilnius Summit in July, Allies agreed to establish a new centre on critical undersea infrastructure at NATO’s Maritime Command in the United Kingdom. NATO and the European Union have also established a task force on the resilience of critical infrastructure. “Critical infrastructure is important, and it’s an area where we once again see the relevance and importance of cooperation between the NATO and the European Union,” said the Secretary General.
On the situation in Ukraine, Mr Stoltenberg highlighted that intense fighting continues. “The situation on the battlefield is difficult. And that just makes it even more important that we sustain and step up our support for Ukraine because we cannot allow President Putin to win,” said the Secretary General. “Ukraine must prevail as a sovereign independent nation in Europe and it’s in our interest to support Ukraine,” he said. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/NATO)
14 Nov 23. Rheinmetall to Supply Ukraine with Leopard 1 Systems on Behalf of German Government. The Ukrainian government has awarded Rheinmetall a contract for Leopard 1 systems, including 25 main battle tanks Leopard 1A5, five armoured recovery vehicles (Bergepanzer 2) and two driver training tanks. The order, financed by Germany and worth a figure in the upper-two-digit m-euro range, also includes training, logistics, spare parts, maintenance and other support services.
Delivery is due to take place in 2024. The Leopard 1 systems are currently being overhauled and readied for use at Rheinmetall’s plants in Unterlüß and Kassel.
Rheinmetall thus continues to support Ukraine with a steady flow of tactical vehicles. The Group has previously been tasked with supplying Ukraine with a total of eighty Marder infantry fighting vehicles. Most of these are already in-country, where they have proved their mettle in ongoing operations.
Rheinmetall is ready to supply a further twenty Marder IFVs as soon as it receives an order to this effect. In late 2023 and early 2024, Ukraine will also be taking delivery of five Caracal airmobile-capable vehicles. On behalf of the Dutch and Danish governments, moreover, next year the Group will be supplying Ukraine with fourteen Leopard 2A4 tanks.
In addition to vehicles, Rheinmetall is aiding the Ukrainian armed forces with ammunition, drones, medical facilities, etc.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Rheinmetall Defence)
13 Nov 23. Putin set to ditch party and run as independent to boost ‘war leader’ credentials. Leader aims to run a campaign based on pride and confidence without ‘unpopular baggage’ of United Russia
Vladimir Putin is planning to ditch the political party he leads and run as an independent candidate in the Russian presidential election to boost his wartime leader credentials.
The 71-year-old president will part ways with the United Russia political party for a “conservative” campaign based on “pride, confidence and the future”, according to Kommersant.
“The formation of an initiative group suggests that he will most likely run in the elections as a self-nominated candidate,” the newspaper reported, quoting sources in the presidential administration.
Putin stood as an independent candidate in the 2018 presidential election but had been considering standing for his United Russia party in March next year, as he did in 2012.
Analysts say he is desperate to be seen as one of the all-time great Russian leaders and wants his invasion of Ukraine to be his crowning achievement.
But when candidates from United Russia campaigned on a war platform in September, they did not get a warm response from voters.
Dr Stephen Hall, an associate professor of Russian politics at Bath University, said United Russia has become increasingly unpopular, with that being another factor influencing Putin. “A difficult election should not be made harder with the United Russia millstone,” he added.
Putin has been president since 2000, except for the period between 2008 and 2012 when he served as prime minister to meet constitutional requirements.
He has cast his invasion of Ukraine in February last year as a fight for the survival of Russia.
Despite concerns about the popularity of the war and Russia’s shrinking economy, the Kremlin appears confident that a new electronic voting system can increase Putin’s 77 per cent vote share of 2018. It has said electronic voting boosts turnout, but analysts have said it can also manipulate votes.
On Monday two Russian state media agencies, Ria Novosti and Tass, reported that Putin’s troops had retreated from their positions on the Dnipro River.
Yet within minutes, the reports of a withdrawal were deleted by Ria without explanation and Tass backtracked, saying it had released the information in error.
The Russian defence ministry is known to feed details of troop movements to the agencies, and has previously used them to describe retreats as a shift to a more advantageous position.
The incident suggests a breakdown in communication between the military, the Kremlin and state media over how to report Ukraine’s improving position on the left bank of the Dnipro.
The Kremlin declined to comment on whether Ukrainian forces had reinforced their position on the Russian-occupied side of the river.
Ukraine has also offered little insight to its operations in the area, which have been steadily gaining pace since mid-October. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, last week said his forces had made “good steps near the Kherson region”. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
13 Nov 23. Ukraine denies plan to sack three army chiefs. Ukraine has denied reports it is planning to sack three army chiefs in a fresh cull of the military’s top brass after its counter-offensive stalled.
Ukrainian newspapers reported that defence minister Rustem Umerov was preparing to sack Lt Gen Serhii Naiev, who is joint forces commander, Maj Gen Tetiana Ostashchenko, commander of the medical forces, and Brig Gen Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who leads the southern Tavria group.
The Ukrainian defence ministry later issued a statement saying “information published by a number of media outlets is not true”, although it did not specify which media reports it was referring to.
Tensions between the country’s political leadership and the military have intensified in recent months as its counter-offensive has failed to break through Russian lines.
Ukraine’s top general admitted recently that the war had reached a “stalemate”, leading to a rebuke from president Volodymyr Zelensky.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
14 Nov 23. Ukraine: Millions face winter in damaged homes, under threat of air raids, beyond the reach of aid. Millions of civilians in Ukraine are living with the effects of over 600 days of brutal conflict. As winter conditions develop and needs multiply, once-thriving communities are at risk of disintegrating under an increasingly protracted conflict, warns the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Across eastern and southern Ukraine, millions of civilians are facing an increasingly uncertain and dangerous future as winter conditions set in. For over 600 days, an unyielding barrage of shelling has left an estimated 1.4m homes in ruin or disrepair. Thousands of families have been forced to flee, or have been left to shelter in damaged buildings lacking basic services. Ms remain out of reach of aid in Russian controlled areas. As temperatures drop and public services come under increasing pressure, at least 2.5m people need vital humanitarian assistance to support them through winter.
“Ms of families are facing a growing winter nightmare here,” explained Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General, on a visit to Ukraine this week. “The physical impact of aerial bombardment can be seen right across the towns and cities I have visited. And the mental impact on those who remain under this ever-present threat is just as striking. People have told me about the horror of watching their communities transformed into sites of destruction or battlegrounds.
“While glimpses of stability emerge in pockets of the country, the humanitarian landscape in the east and south remains bleak and is defined by relentless hostilities and fighting along the frontlines. We are deeply concerned for the future of those ms who are already dependent on support, given that winter has barely begun.”
In the 20 months since the escalation of the conflict, Russia has fired thousands of drones and missiles on Ukrainian cities and settlements. Hundreds have been used to destroy civilian infrastructure relating to transport, heating, and electricity. Port facilities in the south have continued to be targeted since the end of the Black Sea Grain Deal, with over 30 attacks since July. Today, more than 17m people are affected as a result of these attacks, at a point in the year at which needs greatly increase.
Despite a significant humanitarian effort, large swaths of Ukraine are under the control of the Russian Federation and remain largely out of reach of international aid. Ongoing hostilities also continue to hamper the delivery of assistance. Security concerns impede the delivery of urgent assistance to more than 4 m people who live in the areas beyond the control of the Government of Ukraine. “The information we receive through partners and colleagues paints a picture of appalling conditions facing those beyond the reach of humanitarian workers. It is more urgent than ever that all parties ensure that civilian populations can be reached by humanitarian aid,” said Egeland.
“I call upon all parties involved to ensure the unimpeded and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to all affected areas, regardless of their control. It is our moral duty to extend a lifeline to those in dire need and to work resolutely toward sustainable solutions that can bring an end to the suffering endured by the Ukrainian citizens residing in conflict-affected communities.
“Swift and decisive action is imperative to prevent this crisis from deepening, in the name of these communities and the future of those who have already endured so much.” (Source: Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC))
13 Nov 23. French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu announced that the government will add €200m to the French support fund for Kyiv, enabling the Ukrainian army to continue its purchases of French equipment in order to survive over the long term.
This extension is part of the examination of the additional finance bill for 2023, which allows adjustments to credits for the current budget year.
The system “will allow us to also pivot into a new strategy for acquiring new equipment for the Ukrainian army,” Sébastien Lecornu explained to parliament. “The war in Ukraine is a conflict from which we must not turn away. We have a large defense industry, which can help Ukrainians be resilient to ensure long-term deliveries,” he added.
With this in mind, France’s Ukraine support fund offers the possibility for Ukraine to connect to our defense industry by purchasing the equipment necessary for the defense of its territory. To help in the long term, it is necessary “for the buyer to meet the seller directly,” according to the minister. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ French Ministry of the Armed Forces; issued Nov. 09, 2023)
13 Nov 23. The first European F-16 Training Center was inaugurated on Monday, Nov. 13, at the Feteti Air Base in southern Romania. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and subcontractors, Daedalus Aviation Group, Draken International, GFD, a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, and ILIAS Solutions will work as one team to provide F-16 training at the newly formed center, which is the result of unique collaboration between the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, the Romanian Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force, in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
As part of the agreement, the team will be responsible to organize, schedule, operate and maintain the F-16 fighter jets provided by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) in support of F-16 training. More specifically, GFD and Draken will provide experienced F-16 instructor pilots with recent front-line experience flying F-16s in the U.S. Air Force and air forces throughout Europe. To further compliment the training, Daedalus will bring expertise in the European Military Airworthiness Requirements regulatory framework including Part 145, which focuses on aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul; as well as CAMO—short for Continuous Airworthiness Management Organization—which focuses on the continuing airworthiness of aircraft. Daedalus will furthermore perform F-16 maintenance, repair and logistics activities supported by experienced Draken aircraft technicians.
To round out the training team, ILIAS Solutions will be responsible for providing integrated defense software solutions for logistics and sustainment, training management and flight scheduling.
“The F-16 continues to play a crucial role in 21st Century Security missions for the United States, Europe, NATO and allies around the world,” said OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager, Integrated Fighter Group, Lockheed Martin. “Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with the Netherlands and Romania on this European F-16 Training Center, which will enhance mission readiness through a comprehensive F-16 training solution for Romanian pilots. The center will focus on ensuring effectiveness and safety of Romanians flying and operating F-16 fighter jets and could eventually expand to include training for other nations.
“Together, with our partners from Daedalus, Draken, GFD and ILIAS, we’re providing world-class training to enhance mission readiness and ensure safety of Romanians flying and operating F-16 fighter jets,” he added.
As part of the agreement between the Netherlands and Lockheed Martin, the RNLAF will continue to own the aircraft and maintain sovereign rights.
13 Nov 23. Czech Senate renews policy of Ukrainian aid and training. A Senate Plenary session endorsed the proposal for the continued deployment of defence assets to Ukraine and the stay of Ukrainian forces in Czech territory.
2023, the Czech Republic renewed a mandate to continue providing military aid to Ukraine as well as training Ukrainian forces in its territory.
A total of 71 senators voted in favour of the motion with one against it.
The current mandate expires on 31 December 2023, while the new motion extends the stay of the service members of the Ukraine Armed Forces, those of EU Member States and Nato partners by one year, until 31 December 2024.
“It is a high priority to prepare such conditions that the training of Ukrainian service members can continue both in the territory of the Czech Republic and in other countries,” said the Minister of Defence Jana ?ernochová in her exposé.
The number of service members does not change; it still contains the maximum of 800 personnel at any one time.
However, the new mandate also includes instructors from Nato nations for training outside the framework of the EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine).
The number of financial resources necessary for the proposed deployments abroad is K24m ($1m) in 2023 and K114m in 2024. Expenditures related to the stay of service members of other countries in the Czech Republic, specifically for the training of Ukrainian personnel, are estimated at K?252m in 2024.
Allowing the flow of Ukrainian personnel across Europe
“So far, we have trained approximately 2,700 Ukrainian service members in the Czech Republic and our instructors in Poland trained an additional 500,” said the Minister, who added that the Ukrainian experience from the frontline also benefits the training of Czech units.
A day earlier, on 10 November, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that the total number of Ukrainian service members trained under the British Armed Forces has reached 52,000 since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.
In addition, more than 30,000 ordinary Ukrainian men and women have trained to become soldiers under the UK-led Operation Interflex, the largest military training programme of its kind on British soil since the Second World War.
The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Ukrainian forces training in the UK in February. The leaders heard how the training the Ukrainian soldiers were receiving on British Challenger 2 tanks would give them the upper hand on the battlefield and allow them to push back Russian forces. (Source: army-technology.com)
12 Nov 23. Scholz coalition set to double Germany’s military aid to Ukraine to £7bn. German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition has agreed in principle to double the country’s military aid for Ukraine next year to €8bn (£7bn), according to reports.
If approved by parliament, where Mr Scholz’s parties hold a majority, the boost would lift Germany’s defence spending to 2.1 per cent of its gross domestic product target, beyond the 2 per cent pledged by all Nato members, the source added.
Lawmakers of Mr Scholz’s Social Democrats, the Free Democrats and the Green party agreed on the increase in negotiations over the proposed 2024 federal budget ahead of a formal meeting of the budget committee of the Bundestag, lower house of parliament, on Nov 16, a source told Reuters.
Bloomberg News first reported on the news on Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter. A spokesman for Germany’s Ministry of Defence said the Bundestag committee has not finished negotiations and declined to comment further.
German Bild am Sonntag newspaper also said the committee is due to approve the additional €4bn.
‘Right thing to do’
“Doubling the military spending is both the right thing to do and important,” it quoted member of parliament Andreas Schwarz, who acts as an SPD military budget official, as saying.
“With the move we will underscore our promise to Ukraine with the necessary funds. The fact that we will also be able to fulfil our Nato obligation is a great success of the … coalition,” he was reported as saying.
An EU plan to spend up to €20bn on military aid for Ukraine is meeting with resistance from member countries, diplomats said this week.
Germany is already Ukraine’s biggest backer in Europe and second only to the US worldwide.
Berlin has channelled more than €17 bn in military aid to Ukraine, according to data tracked by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. This includes Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicles, Iris-T and Patriot anti-missile systems, Gepard anti-aircraft guns and multiple-rocket launchers. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
15 Nov 23. Euro leaders blame industry for failure to meet Ukraine ammo promise. Several European nations will fail to meet a commitment to send Ukraine 1m rounds of ammunition by next spring because manufacturers are prioritizing the export market rather than ramping up production, officials have said.
Local defense ministers and European Union officials admitted the bloc would not be able to honor its promise to Ukraine, made this spring, as they arrived for a summit in Brussels on Tuesday.
“The 1m will not be reached — you have to assume that,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters, adding he had never personally offered guarantees and was told early on the EU would struggle to make the deadline.
“These warning voices have now been proven right, unfortunately,” he said.
The EU earmarked €1bn (U.S. $1.1bn) earlier this year to compensate members for the shells they donated to Ukraine from their stocks, plus another €1bn to fund the joint purchase of more munitions from EU states and Norway.
A third initiative envisaged EU funding for factories and the acceleration of permits for new facilities to speed up production.
The goal was to deliver 1 m shells in 12 months.
After the meeting on Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell shared Pistorius’ view. “So maybe by March we will not have the 1 m shots,” he said.
Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur said the failure would give Russia an edge in Ukraine.
“Look at Russia: They are producing today more than ever. They are getting shells from North Korea. Europe cannot say that Russia and North Korea can deliver and we cannot,” he said.
Defense News contacted the Aerospace, Security and Defence Industries Association of Europe, a trade group representing sectors across the continent, but it did not comment by press time.
The slowdown in the delivery of much-needed 155mm shells comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia’s full-scale invasion that started in February 2022 grinds to a halt. Furthermore, some U.S. lawmakers have cast doubt over whether the U.S. will continue to arm Ukraine at the same significant level.
Borrell’s plan to create a four-year, €20bn fund for Ukrainian military assistance may also get watered down, according to Jean-Pierre Maulny, the deputy director of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs think tank and consultancy.
Borrell said the EU has sourced 300,000 shells from members’ own stockpiles, but manufacturers have complicated the process of obtaining newly produced munitions because they are continuing to focus on export markets.
“About 40% of the production is being exported to third countries,” he said. “So maybe what we have to do is to try to shift this production to the priority one, which is the Ukrainians.”
Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said Europe’s industry must ramp up production.
“We have all signed contracts. We’ve done joint procurement. So industry now has to deliver. It has to step up its game to produce more,” Ollongren said.
EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton noted the industrial base has the resources to ramp up production for Ukraine.
Indeed, Estonia’s defense minister said the country on Nov. 10 opened a fast-track procurement process for 155mm ammunition rounds worth €280 m.
“Over the next four years, nearly 30% of our defense budget will go towards ammunition. This is a clear signal for the defense industry: Go ahead and shift production into next gear,” Pevkur said.
And if EU industry is unable to boost production, member states should import more ammunition, he added. “Ukraine does not have time to wait.” (Source: Defense News)
16 Nov 23. I will keep focus on Ukraine, David Cameron assures Zelensky on first visit. Lord Cameron has promised Volodymr Zelensky that the UK will help to keep the world focussed on the war in Ukraine, on his first visit as Foreign Secretary.
In a video of their meeting, Mr Zelensky said “the world is not focussed on the situation on our battlefields,” which “really doesn’t help”.
The former prime minister assured Ukraine that it could count on Britain’s support.
“What I want to say by being here is that we will continue to give you the moral support, the diplomatic support, the economic support, but above all the military support you need – not just this year and next year but for however long it takes.”
“It’s really important that we have this meeting … to make sure we can get the communications right with all our friends and allies to make sure the attention is here in Ukraine,” he said.
He also told the Ukrainian president that Boris Johnson’s support for Ukraine was the “finest thing that he and his government did”.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
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