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CDS Daily brief (12.12.22) | CDS comments on key events

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Humanitarian aspect:

As of the morning of December 12, there is a significant power deficit in the power system, and the situation in Odesa Oblast is still difficult, “Ukrenergo” said. Emergency power outages are still common. The weather with gusty wind and wet snow makes restoration of the electricity supply more difficult.

According to the Donetsk Oblast Military Administration (OMA), during the past day [December 11], the Russian occupation forces killed one civilian and injured three more in the region.

The head of Donetsk OMA, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said that in the morning [December 12] the occupiers struck the center of Hirnyk village injuring 8 people. It later became known that two people died, and the number of injured increased to 10 people.

On December 12, the Russian military carried out another artillery strike on Kherson and its suburbs. A woman was killed, and four people were injured, the prosecutor’s office of Kherson Oblast reported. In the afternoon, the head of Kherson OMA reported another barrage that killed 2 and injured 5 people.

The landmine situation in the recently liberated territories remains difficult. On December 12, three pyrotechnicians of the State Emergency Service (SES) of Ukraine were killed during demining in the city of Kostyantynivka in Donetsk Oblast, and doctors are fighting to save the lives of two more rescuers. SES also urged residents of the recently liberated territories to abstain from fishing since landmines could still be found even in the areas that suppers had checked.

Since February 24, the State Emergency Service’s employees alone have removed more than 300,000 explosive items. In addition, the National Police neutralized more than 180,000 such items. And they are not the only ones involved in demining, as it is carried out by other state services and the army, President Zelensky said.

The United24 platform continues to expand and attract powerful global brands to cooperation. The new partner is Uber. The company will use its resources to help raise a million dollars for ambulances for Ukrainian doctors and then double this amount, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said.

Occupied territories:

Russian invaders took 573 residents of Zaporizhzhia Oblast captive in 9 months of the war and still hold 230 of them captive, Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Oblast Military Administration, said.

According to the press service of the Luhansk OMA, in the temporarily occupied Dovzhansk, the occupiers cut up the mining equipment at the “Chervony Partisan” mine  to conserve the

enterprise, as it is one of the mines they consider unprofitable. About 700 miners are told to look for another job. At the same time, mobilization efforts have been highly intensified. The occupying authorities look for men, checking every apartment. Vacancies in the “law enforcement agencies” of the temporarily occupied Luhansk Oblast are gradually being filled by Russian citizens because the representatives of the pseudo-republic “are either fighting or are already done fighting,” Luhansk Oblast Military Administration reported.

The deputy head of the occupation administration of the Russian-controlled part of Kherson Oblast, Vitaly Bulyuk, was injured due to a car explosion. [His] driver died on the spot, Ukrainian Suspilne TV reported. A directional mine blew the car up, and the car burned down. Vitaly Bulyuk is in one of the hospitals in the Oblast. The explosion reportedly took place in Skadovsk.

The [Russian] occupation administration resumed the work of the Melitopol foundry, which its owner stopped in February after the start of full-scale Russian aggression. The enterprise had been confiscated from its owner or, as the Russian media put it, “transferred to the balance of the administration of the Zaporizhzhya region” and resumed its work on Monday.

In the temporarily captured Melitopol, a strategic bridge for the Russian troops that had connected the city with the village of Kostyantynivka was damaged, the legally elected Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov said. Fedorov added that it was via the bridge that the invading Russian forces transported military equipment from the east of the country.

Operational situation

(Please note that this section of the Brief is mainly on the previous day’s (December 11) developments)

It is the 292nd 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 Stelmakhivka, Makiivka and Serebryansky forestry of Luhansk Oblast and Verkhnokamyanske, Bilohorivka, Soledar, Yuryivka, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka and Vremivka in Donetsk Oblast.

Russian forces launched 2 missile strikes on the civilian infrastructure in Kostyantynivka and 11 air strikes on the positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces along the contact line. They also fired over 60 MLRS rounds on Kherson’s civilian infrastructure and Ukrainian forces’ positions. The Russian military carried out artillery and mortar attacks on Strilecha, Starytsia, Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, Volokhivka, Okhrimivka, Dvorichna, Kamianka of Kharkiv Oblast and Ivanovske of Donetsk Oblast. The threat of Russian missile and UAV strikes on energy and critical infrastructure facilities persists throughout the territory of Ukraine.

During the past day, the aviation of the Ukrainian Defense Forces made 14 strikes on the areas of enemy personnel, weapons and military equipment concentration and a strike on the positions of the Russian anti-aircraft missile complex.

Missile and artillery troops of the Ukrainian Defense Forces hit 9 Russian command and control points, 17 areas of personnel, weapons and military equipment concentration, one artillery concentration area and 2 Russian munitions depots over the past day.

The Russian command continues to keep troop groupings in the Russian Bryansk, Kursk and Belgorod Oblasts for the purpose of forward presence activities and constraining some units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Thus,

  • In Bryansk Oblast, a grouping of troops was deployed, consisting of the 352nd motorized rifle regiment (MRR) of the Territorial Troops (TT), the battalion of the 15th MRR and two consolidated battalions of the 2nd motorized rifle division (MRD), the battalion of the 423rd MRR of the 4th tank divisions of the 1st tank army, a consolidated BTG of the 51st parachute airborne regiment of the 106th airborne division of the Airborne Forces and a consolidated company of the 254th MRR of the 144th MRD of the 20th Army (remains of the BTG of the 254th MRR withdrawn from Luhansk Oblast due to the loss of combat capability). The command post is located in the area of Starodub.
  • In Kursk Oblast, a grouping of troops was deployed, consisting of the 1244th regiment of the TT, a motorized rifle battalion (MRB) of the 380th MRR of the 62nd MRD of the TT, a consolidated air assault battalion of the 76th air assault division, the consolidated airborne battalion of the 98th airborne division of the Airborne Forces and the remnants of the 488th MRR of the 144th MRD withdrawn to restore combat capability from near Svatove. The command post is in the area of Rylsk.
  • In Belgorod Oblast, a grouping was deployed, consisting of the BTG of the 3rd MRD of the 20th Army (withdrawn from Ukraine to restore combat capability), the BTG of the 25th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 6th army, the BTG of the 18th MRD of the 11th Army Corps (completed restoring combat capability, and awaiting deployment to Ukraine), the reinforced company of the 51st parachute airborne regiment of the 106th airborne division, 1007th MRR of the 63rd MRD, 18th MRB of the TT. The command post is located in the area of Belgorod.

Military units of territorial troops are being formed. They will not have a significant impact on the course of hostilities but will contribute to the reformation of the “special military operation” into a “people’s war”.

The following units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus are deployed in the areas bordering Ukraine:

  • two air assault battalions from the 38th separate airborne assault brigade in the districts of Uzhovo and Pinsk of the Belarussian Brest Oblast,
  • two airborne battalions from the 103rd separate airborne brigade in the areas of Lelchitsi and Bragin, Gomel Oblast,
  • a combined detachment from the 5th separate SOF brigade is concentrated in the area of the village Ivanovo, Brest Oblast.

The military command of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus permanently maintains only the forces and equipment from the highly mobile [landing] component of its own troops on the border with Ukraine. This grouping is reinforced with motorized rifle and artillery units and formations only periodically and for a short period on a rotational basis.

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 10 towns and villages, particularly Kyselivka, Kotlyarivka, Tabaivka and Berestovka of Kharkiv Oblast; Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Pischane, Makiivka and Ploschanka in Luhansk Oblast and Chervonopopivka, Terny, Yampolivka and Torske in Donetsk Oblast.

The Russian military made five unsuccessful attempts to attack the Ukrainian Defence Forces’ forward positions with up to a company to improve their tactical position in the area of the Svatove-Kreminna highway and further south.

A unit of the 237th tank regiment of the 3rd MRD of the 20th army attacked the positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces south of Ploschanka. Ukrainian troops’ positions near the Serebryansk forestry were attacked by a unit of the 104th air assault regiment of the 76th air assault division; two attacks were carried out by enemy units from the 752nd MRR of the 3rd MRD of the 20 Army and 55th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 41st Army; the platoon of the 252nd MRR of the 3rd MRD attacked the positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces but lost some of the APCs that supported the attack and retreated to the starting frontier.

In violation of International Humanitarian Law, the Russian military continues to use civilians as human shields. In Troitske village in the temporarily occupied Luhansk Oblast, the Russian occupiers placed military equipment and set up firing positions near residential buildings where the civilian population lives.

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 regiments 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 positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces with tanks, mortars, barrel and rocket artillery in the areas of twenty-four Ukrainian towns and villages, including Verkhnokamyanske, Bilohorivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Druzhba, Zalizne, New York, Avdiyivka, Opytne, Nevelske, Krasnohorivka and Maryinka of Donetsk Oblast. In addition, the Russian forces used operational-tactical and army aviation to strike the areas of Spirne and Bilohorivka.

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] artillery fire activity was recorded near Vremivka, Novoukrainka, Prechystivka, and Vuhledar of Donetsk Oblast, Zelene Pole, Novopil, Novodarivka, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Dorozhnianka, Hulyaipilske, Charivne, and Mali Shcherbaky of 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 enemy shelled Chervony Mayak, Lvove, Inzhenerne, Chornobayivka and Kherson.

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 had eight surface ships and boats at sea, located along the southwestern coast of Crimea. There were no Kalibr cruise missile carriers at sea. They are mostly based in Sevastopol, and the time for their deployment to firing positions on the outer Sevastopol raid is estimated at 3-4 hours. The maximum possible number of missiles is up to 36 (three battle-ready surface ships and three submarines at the moment).

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

Russian aviation continued to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek and Hvardiyske over the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Over the past day, 14 combat aircraft from Belbek and Saki airfields were involved.

The Crimean occupying authorities prohibited the movement of any cargo transport (even light trucks based on the Russian “Gazel” platform) on the Kerch Strait bridge, although the repair of one branch of the highway (in the direction of Crimea) was formally completed. The reason for the ban is unknown. Perhaps the de facto authorities are afraid of further acts of sabotage against the background of numerous explosions at military facilities in Crimea.

“The Grain Initiative”: The Russian attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure facilities also completely cut off the power to the critical infrastructure facilities. As a result, Odesa and Pivdenny ports could not carry out cargo operations, and Chornomorsk port could do so only partially. The power supply is gradually being restored. Alternative power sources are also used. Port Pivdenny and Chornomorsk started to carry out cargo operations. The port of Odesa has yet to. Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy system greatly hinder the “grain agreement” implementation.

Russian operational losses from 24.02 to 12.12.22

Personnel – almost 94,760 people (+620);

Tanks – 2,966 (+24)

Armored combat vehicles – 5,928 (+8);

Artillery systems – 1,929 (+1);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 397 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 211 (0); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 4,544 (+4); Aircraft – 281 (0);

Helicopters – 264 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 1,617 (+4); Intercepted cruise missiles – 592 (0);

Boats/ships – 16 (0).

Ukraine, general news

The Ukrainian “Come Back Alive” foundation has crowdfunded $6.2 million in a month for a “Black box” project. The organization is one of the leading NGOs that support the UAF with non- lethal equipment, like armored vehicles, UAVs, computers, communications, night vision gear, etc. The “Black box” project will assist Ukraine’s Military Intelligence with undisclosed capabilities. The credibility of the civil society project is so high that people donate without reservations.

The intimidation campaign against Ukrainian diplomats continues. The Embassy of Ukraine in Greece received a blood-stained package in the mail, identical to those already sent to Ukrainian diplomats in other countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Oleg Nikolenko, said. The package arrived on the morning of December 12, and it is the 28th such shipment for Ukrainian diplomatic missions. The sender’s address is the same as on the rest of the envelopes that previously arrived at Ukrainian embassies and consulates: the Tesla car dealership in the German town of Sindelfingen.

Six generals of the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been charged with organizing and carrying out the armed invasion of the Russian army into the territory of Kharkiv Oblast and the seizure of the region’s populated areas, the Office of the Prosecutor General reports. The National Police, the Security Service of Ukraine, and the prosecutors inspected the locations of command posts and headquarters of Russian troops after the liberation of Kharkiv Oblast. Law enforcement officers discovered and seized documents confirming the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Armed Forces.

International diplomatic aspect

“We are determined that Russia will ultimately need to pay for the restoration of critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed through its brutal war. There can be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities. We will hold President Putin and those responsible to account in accordance with international law,” G7 leaders stated after reiterating their continued support for Ukraine at war and in rebuilding the country. They also condemned “Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric” and warned of severe consequences should Putin decide to use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

“We propose Russia take a concrete, meaningful step towards the diplomatic settlement, which is so often talked about in Moscow. Holidays are ahead that are celebrated by billions of people: Christmas according to the Gregorian calendar, and New Year, Christmas according to the Julian calendar. This is a time when normal people think about peace and not about aggression. I suggest that Russia at least try to prove that it is capable of renouncing aggression. It would be right for this Christmas to begin the withdrawal of Russian troops from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine,” said the Ukrainian President in his address to the G7 leaders.

“To date, we have not seen evidence that Russia is committed to sustainable peace efforts. Russia can end this war immediately by ceasing its attacks against Ukraine and completely and unconditionally withdrawing its forces from the territory of Ukraine. We welcome and support President Zelenskyy’s initiative for a just peace,” G7 Leader’s statement reads. In a telephone conversation, President Biden welcomed President Zelensky’s stated “openness to a just peace based on fundamental principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.” “Any negotiations need to be real – they need to be meaningful, they can’t just be a fig leaf for Russian rearmament and further recruitment of soldiers,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

The G7 leaders expressed their readiness to find an arrangement “on sustained security and other commitments to help Ukraine defend itself, secure its free and democratic future, and deter future Russian aggression in line with its rights enshrined in the UN Charter.” They also welcomed and expressed their support for President Zelensky’s “initiative for a just peace.”

While Ukraine’s peace plan means real justice (restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, reparations to rebuild the country, and bringing criminals to justice), the “security arrangements” might also mean leaving Ukraine in a grey zone (keeping Ukraine at NATO’s open door).

The EU sends a clear political signal of its enduring commitment to military support for Ukraine and partners alike. The European Council agreed to increase the overall financial ceiling of the European Peace Facility (EPF) by €2 billion in 2023. Ukraine has already received six tranches of support totalling €3 billion. The tranches are split between lethal equipment and platforms (€2.82 billion) and non-lethal aid (€0.18 billion), like a training program for 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

The EU failed to agree but will try to come to a consensus on the ninth sanctions package that will likely include restrictions on the supply of drones, a ban on investment in the mining industry, freezing the accounts of two Russian banks, and extending the blacklist with more than 140 Russian subjects. However, Hungary blocks any further sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, particularly the nuclear one. It also insists on excluding several Russian officials from a blacklist’s draft. “If we impose sanctions on politicians who are essential to dialogue, we are effectively giving up hope for peace, and to give up hope for peace is to be on the wrong side of history,” Peter Szijjarto said. Hungarian government plays a destructive role in the EU and NATO efforts to help Ukraine to defend itself. The European Council was forced to circumvent the Hungarian veto over the financial assistance to Ukraine next year.

The EU imposed restrictive measures on four individuals and four entities in Iran for their role in developing and delivering UAVs used by Russia in its war against Ukraine. At the same time, Iran decided to “comply” with the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and limit the range of ballistic missiles it will provide Russia for its aggressive war against Ukraine to 300 km. Before that, Iran and Russia denied the transfer of kamikaze drones or ballistic missiles. The US and Israel are worrying about the likelihood of Moscow providing Teheran with its helicopters, fighter jets, and missile engines. Though it is in Israel’s interest to employ the international community’s readiness to put pressure on Iran because of its assistance to Russia, it is still not rushing to help Ukraine to cope with the imminent security threat.

Russia, relevant news

In an imitation of western civil society initiatives, the Scientific Council of the Russian Military Historical Society called for open trials of those it called “war criminals” in the first quarter of 2023.

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not plan to hold the usual big press conference this year, his press secretary Dmitriy Peskov said. However, Putin may talk to his personal propagandists, the so-called “Kremlin pool”. Russian media wrote in November that the press conference was not being prepared. As the media reported, one of the reasons for the cancellation was the “situation at the front”. Since 2012, the President of Russia has held the [year’s] final press conference in December. The representative of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate, Vadym Skybytskiy, said that since the beginning of the large-scale invasion, Russia managed to produce 360 cruise missiles, namely 240 high-precision X-101 missiles and about 120 Kaliber missiles. Therefore, Russia has enough missiles to carry out 3-5 strikes, assuming each strike uses 80-90 missiles, Skybytskiy said.

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