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CDS Daily brief (11.12.22) | CDS comments on key events

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Humanitarian aspect:

The repair of one VVER-1000 power unit, which was damaged due to the Ukrainian energy infrastructure shelling by Russia on November 23, 2022, is near completion. All other power units of the domestic nuclear power plants, except the temporarily captured Zaporizhzhya NPP, operate at maximum capacity to meet the population’s needs and the country’s economy, the press service of Energoatom reports.

After eight waves of Russian missile attacks, all thermal and hydroelectric power stations were damaged, and 40% of the high-voltage network facilities were damaged to varying degrees, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.

According to the Odesa branch of DTEK energy company, this time, it may take up to 2-3 months to completely restore the energy infrastructure in the region. The complete blackout resulted from an attack by Russian kamikaze drones on Saturday night on Odesa Oblast that caused significant damage to energy infrastructure facilities. The city and almost the entire oblast remained without electricity most of the day. In his evening video address president, Zelensky said that the electricity supply was restored partially; however, the situation in the region remains difficult. According to Odesa Oblast Military Administration (OMA), 206 teams were working to restore supplies. The authorities did not order a mass evacuation. However, OMA supports the idea of temporary relocation of those oblast residents who cannot do without electricity for a long time and have a place to go. At about 2 p.m., DTEK reported restoring the energy supply to the Odesa water pumping system. The residents are still advised to store some water in case of blackouts.

On the night of December 11, the Russian forces shelled a critical infrastructure facility in Kherson, Yaroslav Yanushevych, head of OMA, said. Due to shelling, three cars used by energy sector employees were destroyed, and a hangar and 5 other pieces of equipment were damaged.

During the day of December 10, the Russian occupying forces shelled eight Ukrainian regions, namely Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Mykolayiv. Civilian infrastructure, residential and commercial properties were hit. Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration reported one heavily wounded man who had to be hospitalized. The information was made public at the OMA morning round-up. In an update provided at 11 a.m. Kherson Oblast reported 2 killed and 5 injured civilians.

Russian forces fired about 50 shells at three communities of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast at night. Civilian infrastructure was damaged, and three villages were left without electricity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is launching the “Captured” information campaign to draw the world’s attention to the fate of military and civilian Ukrainians in Russian captivity. The campaign involves the creation of an online platform with stories of prisoners and

information about Russia’s violation of the fundamental norms and principles of international humanitarian law and the rules of war. Human rights activists, including this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Center for Civil Liberties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the families of people held captive, are working together on the project.

According to the results of the survey “Refugees from Ukraine – professional activation in Poland and Germany” conducted in July by the EWL Migration Platform and the Center for East European Studies of the University of Warsaw, almost half of the war refugees from Ukraine who work in Germany and Poland intend to stay in this country longer, namely – at least a year after the end of the war and only every fourth refugee wants to return to Ukraine as soon as possible.

Occupied territories:

The head of the Luhansk Oblast military administration, Serhiy Haidai, reported that there was an explosion at the headquarters of the Wagner PMC in the temporarily occupied Kadiivka. He said that the Russian side admitted there was an attack. Photos have already appeared on the Internet, and they “don’t even hide that there are huge losses there,” Haiday said.

[Russian] military activity is increasing in and around Mariupol, Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko said. A significant number of combat helicopters are observed over the city all day long, flying from the Zaporizhzhia direction towards Azovstal. A second camp for mobilized Russian soldiers was set up in the suburbs of Yalta village (New Yalta) of the Mariupol district. In addition, the outflow of military personnel from the Berdyansk direction continues. Thus, about 500 Russian soldiers will be quartered in the area of Demyanovka and Kamyshevo. According to Andryushchenko, their deployment began after the precise hit on one of the Russian bases in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Operational situation

(Please note that this section of the Brief is mainly on the previous day’s (December 10) developments)

It is the 291st day of the strategic air-ground offensive operation of the Russian Armed Forces against Ukraine (in the official terminology of the Russian Federation – “operation to protect Donbas”).

Over the past day, units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces have repelled Russian attacks in the areas of Novoselivske, Andriivka, Chervonopopivka, Zhytlivka, Serebryanske and Bilohorivka in Luhansk Oblast and Verkhnokamyanske, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Pidhorodnie and Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.

In addition, the Russian forces launched 3 missile strikes and 17 air strikes and fired over 60 MLRS rounds. The Russian military continues to keep its troops in the border areas of the Russian Bryansk, Kursk and Belgorod Oblasts. The Russian military carried out artillery and mortar attacks on Vyntorivka and Mogrytsia in Sumy Oblast and Strilecha, Zelene, Starytsya, Ohirtseve, Varvarivka, Chernyakiv, Chuhunivka, Dvorichna and Ridkodub in Kharkiv Oblast. The threat of

Russian missile strikes on electrical energy and critical infrastructure facilities persists throughout the territory of Ukraine.

Units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces missile and artillery troops hit 3 enemy command and control points and 3 areas of Russian personnel, weapons and military equipment concentration over the past day.

Kharkiv direction
  • Topoli – Siversk section: approximate length of combat line – 154 km, number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 23-28, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 5.5 km;
  • Deployed enemy BTGs: 26th, 153rd, and 197th tank regiments (TR), 245th motorized rifle regiment (MRR) of the 47th tank division (TD), 6th and 239th TRs, 228th MRR of the 90th TD, 25th and 138th separate motorized rifle brigades (SMRBr) of the 6th Combined Arms (CA) Army, 27th SMRBr of the 1st Tank Army, 252nd and 752nd MRRs of the 3rd MRD, 1st, 13th, and 12th TRs, 423rd MRR of the 4th TD, 201st military base, 15th, 21st, 30th SMRBrs of the 2nd CA Army, 35th, 55th and 74th SMRBrs of the 41st CA Army, 275th and 280th MRRs, 11th TR of the 18th MRD of the 11 Army Corps (AC), 7th MRR of the 11th AC, 80th SMRBr of the 14th AC, 76th Air assault division, 106th airborne division, 2nd, 3rd, 14th, 24th and 45th separate SOF brigades of the Airborne Forces, military units of the 1st AC of so-called DPR, 2nd and 4th SMRBrs of the 2nd AC, PMCs.

The Russian forces shelled the areas of Zapadne, Kyselivka, Tabaivka, Pishchane, Krokhmalne, Berestove in Kharkiv Oblast; Terny in Donetsk Oblast and Stelmakhivka, Novoyehorivka, Makiivka, Ploshanka, Nevske and Dibrova in Luhansk Oblast.

The Russian command continues to centralize and systematize the command and control of troops. The Russian grouping based on the 20th Army of the Western Military District consists of three tactical groups:

  • Military units of the 144th motorized rifle division operate in the Svatove direction,
  • the 3rd motorized rifle division in the Kreminna-Rubizhne area,
  • and the 18th motorized rifle division of the 11th Army Corps in Troitske.

In addition, the forces and means of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps (consisting of up to a separate motorized rifle brigade and rifle battalion of the mobilization reserve), the 76th air assault division and 106th airborne division of the Russian airborne troops, up to three BARS detachments, in total – up to 15-17 battalions, are concentrated here. The degrees of their manning and combat capability vary.

Another 5-6 battalions stay in reserve. Command and control is carried out by the headquarters of the 20th Army from its forward C2 point in the Starobilsk area and the command post of the 3rd, 18th and 144th motorized rifle divisions. There are also two “Wagner” PMC detachments operating in Luhansk Oblast, which were spotted in the Kreminna area and further south.

In order to replenish the insufficient staffing of the Russian units deployed in the Sievierodonetsk area, forced mobilization efforts were intensified in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk

Oblast. In Krasnyi Luch, the number of patrols that check men’s documents, hand out draft notices and take them to collection points has increased.

During the last 2 weeks, the Russian forces have been conducting searches in educational institutions. The goal is to identify and destroy books in the Ukrainian language and materials containing Ukraine’s national symbols.

Donetsk direction
  • Siversk – Maryinka section: approximate length of the combat line – 144 km, the number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 13-15, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 9.6 km;
  • Deployed BTGs: 68th and 163rd tank regiments (TR), 102nd and 103rd motorized rifle regiments of the 150 motorized rifle division, 80th TR of the 90th tank division, 35th, 55th, and 74th separate motorized rifle brigades of the 41st Combined Arms Army, 51st and 31st separate airborne assault brigades, 61st separate marines brigade of the Joint Strategic Command “Northern Fleet,” 336th separate marines brigade of Baltic Fleet, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 15th, and 100th separate motorized rifle brigades, 9th and 11th separate motorized rifle regiment of the 1st Army Corps of the so-called DPR, 6th motorized rifle regiment of the 2nd Army Corps of the so-called LPR, PMCs.

The Russian military shelled the Ukrainian Defence Forces’ positions in areas of more than twenty towns and villages. In particular, near Verkhnokamyanske, Spirne, Vesele, Berestove, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Heorgiivka, Maryinka, Bila Hora, Kurdyumivka, Zalizne and Avdiivka of Donetsk Oblast.

Zaporizhzhia direction
  • Maryinka – Vasylivka section: approximate length of the line of combat – 200 km, the number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 17, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 11.7 km;
  • Deployed BTGs: 36th separate motorized rifle brigade (SMRBr) of the 29th Combined Arms (CA) Army, 38th and 64th SMRBrs, 69th separate cover brigade of the 35th CA Army, 5th separate tank brigade, 135th, 429th, 503rd and 693rd motorized rifle regiments (MRR) of the 19th motorized rifle division (MRD) of the 58th CA Army, 70th, 71st and 291st MRRs of the 42nd MRD of the 58th CA Army, 136th SMRB of the 58 CA Army, 46th and 49th machine gun artillery regiments of the 18th machine gun artillery division of the 68th Army Corps (AC), 39th SMRB of the 68th AC, 83th separate airborne assault brigade, 40th and 155th separate marines brigades, 22nd separate SOF brigade, 1st AC of the so-called DPR, and 2nd AC of the so-called LPR, PMCs.

The Russian military tried to attack Ukrainian positions with tanks and artillery near Velyka Novosilka, Neskuchne, Prechystivka, Vuhledar, Zelene Pole, Novosilka, Novopil, Vremivka in Donetsk Oblast and Novoandriivka, Orihiv, Hulyaipole, Dorozhnyanka, Zaliznychne, and Mala Tokmachka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Tavriysk direction
  • Vasylivka – Stanislav section: approximate length of the battle line – 296 km, the number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 39, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 7,5 km;
  • Deployed BTGs of: the 8th and 49th Combined Arms (CA) Armies; 11th, 103rd, 109th, and 127th rifle regiments of the mobilization reserve of the 1st Army Corps (AC); 35th and 36th CA Armies; 3rd AC; 90th tank division; the 22nd AC of the Coastal Forces; the 810th separate marines brigade of the Black Sea Fleet; the 7th and the 98th airborne division, and the 11th and 83rd separate airborne assault brigades of the Airborne Forces, 10th separate SOF brigade.

The suburbs and city of Kherson and other residential areas on the banks of the Dnipro River sustained artillery fire damage.

Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:

The forces of the Russian Black Sea Fleet continue to stay ready to carry out two operational tasks against Ukraine:

  • to project force on the coast and the continental part of Ukraine by launching missile strikes from surface ships, submarines, coastal missile systems, and aircraft at targets in the coastal zone and deep into the territory of Ukraine and readiness for the naval amphibious landing to assist ground forces in the coastal direction;
  • to control the northwestern part of the Black Sea by blocking Ukrainian ports and preventing the restoration of sea communications by carrying out attacks on ports and ships and concealed mine-laying.

The ultimate goal is to deprive Ukraine of access to the Black Sea and extend and maintain control over the captured territory and Ukraine’s coastal regions.

The Russian fleet has 10 surface ships and boats at sea. They are located along the southwestern coast of Crimea. Although there are no Kalibr cruise missile carriers at sea now, the time for their deployment to firing positions on the outer Sevastopol raid is estimated at 3-4 hours, with the maximum possible number of missiles up to 36 (three battle-ready surface ships and three submarines at the moment).

The enemy intensified anti-sabotage measures in Sevastopol Bay. In the central part of the bay, 1-2 boats with anti-sabotage surveillance stations patrol constantly.

In the Sea of Azov, the Russian military continues to control sea communications, keeping 2 boats on combat duty.

Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek and Hvardiyske over the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Over the past day, 10 combat aircraft from Belbek and Saki airfields were involved.

The Russian military has significantly strengthened the air defense of Crimean airfields near the sea coast, particularly the Belbek airfield. There are, in particular, eight S-300 and S-400 air defense systems, four of which are ready for immediate combat. The number of Su-27 and MiG- 31 aircraft at the airfield has decreased. They are scattered around the territory to avoid group impact from the air.

On the morning of December 10, a drifting sea mine was discovered on the sea’s surface by the Turkish ship Ahmet Khan 2.5 miles from the port of Constanta. A Romanian Navy unit destroyed the mine. This mine was the fourth to be found in Romanian waters since February 24, 2022. In total, mass media reported about 40 sea mines found in the waters of Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

Russian operational losses from 24.02 to 11.12.22

Personnel – almost 94,140 people (+380);

Tanks -2,942 (+2)

Armored combat vehicles – 5,920 (+3);

Artillery systems – 1,928 (+1);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 397 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 211 (0); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 4,540 (+5); Aircraft – 281 (0);

Helicopters – 264 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 1,613 (+10); Intercepted cruise missiles – 592 (0);

Boats/ships – 16 (0).

International diplomatic aspect

There has been a new wave of old arguments for a diplomatic “solution” to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict in western media. “Fierce claims to Crimea highlight slim chance of Russia-Ukraine peace deal” by Francesca Ebel in the Washington Post, “Go Slow on Crimea: Why Ukraine Should Not Rush to Retake the Peninsula,” by Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage in the Foreign Affairs, “A Misreading of the True Choices Facing Ukraine” and “A Negotiated End to Fighting in Ukraine Is the Only Real Way to End the Bloodshed” by Jeffrey Sachs in the Financial Times and DemocracyNow, show some sympathy to Ukraine but argue that it should give up on Crimea. It’s symptomatic that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a proponent of Vladimir Putin, met with Jeffrey Sachs and John Mearsheimer, who adjusted his theory of Offensive Realism to accommodate Putin’s claims. Even Mark Galeotti, one of the leading experts on Russia, was elaborating from the Russia-centric point of view on a Crimean “referendum” in the distant future in an interview with the Telegraph.

The “Crimea had been Russian for a long time before it was given to Ukraine” argument is false in two ways. Foremost, historical arguments overshadow international law, and the widespread myths and propaganda about the “Russianness” of Crimea mislead the discussion. The primacy of history over norms and principles of international law would open Pandora’s box worldwide. But even if one employs historical arguments on Crimea, it is wrong, either. Crimea was a part of Ukraine for twice longer (60 years, 1954-2014) as the Russian Federation (29 years, 1922-1941, 1944-1954).

More than Russians and Ukrainians, Crimea was owned by Crimean Tatars (1441-1783). But even more than Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians, and Russians combined, Crimea was owned by Greeks

who settled there in 5 BC. In some periods, the peninsula was controlled, among others, by Genoese and Goths. Should Italians and Germans claim Crimea too?

During the Russian Empire (1796 till 1917), the ethnic composition of the peninsula was as such: Ukrainians (42.2%), Russians (27.9%), Crimean Tatars (13%), Germans (5.4%), and Greeks (1.3%). In the meantime, there were numerous deportations of indigenous peoples (Greeks in 1778, Crimean Tatars and Greeks in 1942, 1944, and 1949), repressions, and substitution with Russians in all historical periods. Out of 2.4 million inhabitants of Crimea (census 2001), recently, 100,000 Ukrainian citizens were forced to leave, while around 500,000 Russian citizens were brought in, according to the Representative of the President of Ukraine to Crimea. Moreover, along with massive propaganda in the “information aquarium” and terror against Ukrainian citizens, Russia has been wiping off the Ukrainian identity, language, and culture for eight years.

“NATO enlargement triggered Russia’s pre-emptive action” is false. In 1994 Ukraine and Russia were on the brink of war over Crimea. At the time, Russia was chaired by democrat Boris Yeltsin, and neither the Ukrainian population nor the Ukrainian government was thinking of NATO membership. The political crisis was resolved, and the Russian military was deterred by the decisive actions of the Ukrainian Security Service, “Alfa” commandos, and the military. In 2003 Ukraine and Russia were on the brink of war for the second time. The Kremlin tried to seize control over the Kerch strait by building a dam towards Tuzla Island. As a result of the talks, an agreement was signed that gave Moscow more leverage over the strait and the Sea of Azov in general. In 2014 Russia illegally annexed Crimea though Ukraine had a non-block status.

Though membership of Finland and Sweden is nothing less than a strategic defeat, Russia hasn’t started the war or even fiercely resisted it. With those countries in the Alliance, the Baltic nations are no more defenseless in military terms, Kaliningrad becomes an “island” in the NATO “lake”, and the strategic nuclear bases on the Kola peninsula are exposed. Russia will be restrained in the Arctic, a region of enormous importance for the Kremlin because of its vast natural resources and desire to establish and control the Northern Sea Route, a kind of Belt and Road Initiative.

Alleged [by Russia] “planned” Ukrainian invasion of Russia, as well as Western “plans” to conquer it, are nonsense arguments. The Realist’s school loves to repeat Russia’s worries about several invasions from the West, thus demanding a buffer. But before Napoleon’s invasion, Russia and the British Empire, Prussia, Austria, and other states fought against France in five coalitions (1792-1809). The Russian Empire joined the sixth coalition with the British Empire, Sweden, Austria, and Prussia, which helped Russia to repel the invasion and fought alongside the Russian forces. The Soviet Union was the ally of Nazi Germany, which allowed Moscow to start the war of aggression against Finland, and illegally annex the Baltic states. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin ignited the Second world war with a concerted invasion of Poland. There’s historical evidence that Stalin himself was preparing for the invasion of his Nazi ally, but the latter pre-empted the attack. Despite the terrific nature of the Bolshevik regime, the United States and Britain became the bedrock of the Anti-Hitler Coalition. Without western support, the Soviet Union would have been conquered. It was the West that accommodated Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and even doubled its efforts to integrate Russia into their economies and share

technologies after its aggressive war against Georgia. It was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea that triggered the reinforcement of NATO and the return of the US forces on the continent, though in fewer numbers than at the height of the Cold War.

Crimea is crucial for Putin’s image, and he will do whatever is possible to keep it. Well, it was a weak argument before the all-out invasion and remains so now. Such a formula equates Putin’s ego and strategic blunder to the norms and principles of international law the current world order is based upon. Putin’s success in keeping illegally annexed territory either by diplomatic “settlement” (other than restoring Ukrainian sovereignty) or a “referendum” shows the other rough states how to circumvent international law and any diplomatic opposition of the international community. Russia views free and independent Ukraine as a dire threat. Losing control over Ukraine means losing Russia’s historical myth, ideology, identity, and imperial status.

Leaving Crimea or any other territory under Russian occupation means preserving the existential threat to the very existence of Ukraine. Crimea was instrumental in suffocating Azov regions of Ukraine by imposing a blockade in 2018. Crimea was turned into a bridgehead that allowed Russia to occupy vast territories of Ukraine’s South, block Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, worsen the global food crisis, and target Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure with the assets of the Black Sea Fleet. Russia poses a threat not only to the Black Sea nations but far beyond it, projecting its power to the MEAN region and the Mediterranean. The Kalibr missiles that could be launched off the peninsula might reach as far as the British Isles. And the fact that they may carry a nuclear warhead should be of concern for the European nations. Therefore, it’s in Ukraine’s national interest as well as in the interest of the European countries that Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea is restored, and missile defense systems are deployed either under the arrangements or as a division of labor within the members of the Alliance.

It is worth repeating from time to time that no lasting peace is possible without restoring justice and status quo ante. Crimea, in Russia’s hands, is a threat spearheaded to the heart of Europe. Europe Whole, Free, and at Peace is only possible with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Belarus as a part of the European and Trans-Atlantic community. It’s the main precondition for Russia to seize an opportunity to become a normal state.

Russia, relevant news

In line with President Putin’s announcement earlier this week, that the war is going to last for a long time, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia is increasing the production of new powerful weapons.

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