Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

Explosions reported in capital Kyiv

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv appears to be under attack again with residents reporting explosions in various districts, and an ongoing air raid alert warning residents to remain sheltered.

Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko and the Kyiv City State Administration both posted on Telegram that air defense units had “shot down several Russian missiles over Kyiv. There is no cancellation of the air alarm! Stay in shelters! Air defense continues to work.”

Kyiv has been subjected to a series of drone attacks this week with a residential building targeted on Monday and several people killed when the building collapsed.

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin introduces martial law in four illegally annexed regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin seen during the plenary session of the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) Summit, on October 14, 2022 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin has introduced martial law in the four regions of Ukraine that Russia illegally annexed last month.

Martial law will be introduced in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — the four regions in Ukraine that Moscow claimed as Russian territory following sham referendums in September that Ukraine and its allies have condemned as illegal and illegitimate.

The decision, announced as Putin addressed a meeting of the Russian Security Council on Wednesday, will likely mean that the regions’ civil administrations will be replaced by military ones.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian official insists Kherson is not being surrendered despite evacuation

The Russian-installed deputy governor of the Kherson region has insisted Russia is not surrendering the city of Kherson, despite calling on residents to evacuate immediately.

A view of the village, located in the border of the Kherson region where the control was again taken by the Ukrainian forces, as Ukrainian soldiers patrol around the site amid Ukraine’s counterattack against Russian forces in the southern Kherson region, heavy clashes continue between the two sides in Kherson city, located in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine on October 07, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“We are not going to surrender the city. We will hold our ground to the end. We will not let the Nazis enter the city,” Kirill Stremousov said. Russian officials frequently and baselessly refer to Ukrainian forces as “Nazis” in a bid to demonize them.

Civilians in Kherson, which Russia claims to have annexed and which is only partially occupied by its forces, have been told to leave the region as Russian officials expect that a large-scale counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces to retake the region could be about to begin.

Residents on the west bank of the Dnipro river have been told to cross to the opposite side of the water and to travel on from there to Russian territories. Russian-installed officials say up to 60,000 people could evacuate the area over the next six days.

In a further development, the acting governor of the region Vladimir Saldo told the Rossiya-24 TV channel on Wednesday that entry to the Kherson region for civilians will be very limited for seven days due to the turbulent situation.

“Only those who will be given a pass by the commandant’s office” will be able to enter the region, Saldo said, according to comments reported by the Tass news agency. “These are those who are engaged in providing, supplying, working in public utilities,” he added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine says it has shot down 223 Iranian-supplied drones

Ukraine’s air force has claimed that it shot down 223 Shahed-136 Iranian drones in the last 36 days.

In a Telegram post, the air force said the first case of the downing of an Iranian-made “Shahed-136” kamikaze drone on the territory of Ukraine took place on Sept. 13. As of Wednesday, 223 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) of this type have been destroyed.

Ukrainian firefighters work on a destroyed building after a drone attack in Kyiv on Oct. 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Iran denies supplying Russia with drones while Moscow has insisted it has not bought or deployed Iranian-made drones against Ukraine despite evidence to the contrary.

Nonetheless, drone attacks on energy infrastructure and residential buildings in Uraine have increased in recent weeks. On Monday, Kyiv experienced at least four drone attacks, officials said, posting images of drone debris with fragments showing the label “Geran-2” in Cyrillic, as they have purportedly been rebranded by Russia.

A police expert holds a fragment of a drone with a handwritten inscription that reads “For Belgorod. For Luch,” after a drone attack in Kyiv on Oct. 17, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Explosive-carrying drones pose a problem for Ukraine’s armed forces as they can fly lower to the ground and are harder to detect using radar systems. Images from Kyiv on Monday showed policemen trying to shoot down drones as they flew over the city.

A police officer fires at a flying drone following attacks in Kyiv on Oct. 17, 2022.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

“Anti-aircraft missile units, fighter aircraft, self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, mobile MANPADS fire groups, anti-aircraft guns, large-caliber machine guns and other weapons are involved in the destruction of Shahed-136 barrage ammunition, which the occupiers label as “Geranium-2,” the air force said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s military leadership starting to unravel, UK says

Major elements of Russia’s military leadership are increasingly dysfunctional, according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence, which said that, at the tactical level, “there is almost certainly a worsening shortage of capable Russian junior officers to organise and lead newly mobilised reservists.”

It cited an incident last week in which a Russian recruit shot dead 11 other Russian soldiers near Belgorod. The ministry noted that eyewitness testimony suggests that the shooting occurred after an officer’s abusive comments toward ethnic minority recruits.

“Poor lower-level leadership is likely worsening the low morale and poor unit cohesion in many parts of the Russian force,” it noted in an intelligence update on Twitter Wednesday.

Russian citizens drafted during the partial mobilization begin their military trainings after a military call-up for the Russia-Ukraine war in Rostov, Russia on October 04, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“Four of the five generals with direct operational command of elements of the invasion in February 2022 have now been dismissed. Their replacements have so far done little to improve Russia’s battlefield performance.”

The lack of command continuity will likely be more disruptive than in a Western military because under Russian doctrine the development of plans sits largely with the commander personally, rather than as a collective effort across a broader group, the ministry stated.

— Holly Ellyatt

Up to 60,000 people to be evacuated from occupied Kherson

Up to 60,000 people are to be evacuated from the partially Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, according to the Russian-installed administration in the region.

The organized movement of the inhabitants on the right bank of Dnipro river in the Kherson region to the left bank has begun, with ferries being launched to take people from the city of Kherson to Oleshky and Hola Prystan on the opposite side of the Dnipro river.

Temporary accommodation has been set up in these locations. From there, residents can choose to relocate to “new territories, as well as travel to the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks as separatist leader Vladimir Saldo of the Kherson region listens during a concert in support of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions at Red Square on Sept. 30, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.

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Russia’s acting governor of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, said the plan was to move up to 60,000 residents of the region, and that this would take around six days. Saldo said on his Telegram yesterday that the relocation was due to Ukraine “building up forces for a large-scale offensive.”

“The Russian Federation has formed a military group to repel this offensive. The battlefield of this confrontation can be our land, peaceful cities and villages of the Kherson region,” he said.

Russia claims, falsely, that Kherson is now Russian territory after annexing the region, and three others, after sham referendums there in September. A vast majority of people in the region “voted” to join the Russian Federation. The votes were widely seen as rigged and illegitimate and the international community refuses to recognize them.

— Holly Ellyatt

EU could impose sanctions on Iran over alleged drone supplies, sources say

EU could impose sanctions on Iran in a few days over alleged drone supplies to Russia, two sources told CNBC Tuesday.

Ukraine has blamed Tehran for providing Russia with drones, which have been used to attack Kyiv in recent days.

“We are following very closely the use of these drones, we are gathering evidence and we will be ready to react with the tools at our disposal,” the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said.

Read more on the story here: EU could impose sanctions on Iran in a few days over alleged drone supplies to Russia, sources say

— Silvia Amaro

U.S., Britain and France to discuss Iranian drone transfers at U.N. meeting: Reuters

The United Nations Security Council at U.N. Headquarters in New York City September 30, 2022.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The United States, Britain and France plan to discuss Iran’s alleged drone transfers to Russia at a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting, Reuters reported citing unnamed diplomats.

Iran has also promised to ship more drones and missiles to Russia, Iranian officials told Reuters.

Ukraine invited U.N. experts to investigate drones they claim are of Iranian origin and have been deployed by Russia, on the grounds that this violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Resolution 2231 endorses the Iran nuclear deal. The diplomats told Reuters that the three countries believe the drone transfers to violate the resolution, and will be asking a U.N. official to notify the members about the issue.

— Natalie Tham

Military situation ‘tense’ in Ukraine, Russian commander says

Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, seen here in 2021.

Mikhail Metzel | Afp | Getty Images

The new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine has acknowledged that the military situation in the country is difficult, particularly around the southern Kherson region.

“The situation in the area of the ‘Special Military Operation’ can be described as tense,” Sergei Surovikin told reporters Tuesday, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

“Further actions and plans regarding the city of Kherson will depend on the developing military-tactical situation, which is not easy. We will act consciously, in a timely manner, without ruling out difficult decisions.”

Russia still describes its invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” and says its aim is to “liberate” the Donbas in eastern Ukraine although it claims to have annexed four partially occupied regions — two in the east that make up the Donbas and two regions in the south, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — a move Ukraine and its international allies have condemned.

There are reports that Ukraine’s forces are trying to reclaim Kherson before winter kicks in, with a counteroffensive there continuing. Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-installed deputy administrator of the Kherson region, said on Telegram late on Tuesday that “in the very near future, the battle for Kherson will begin” but denied yesterday that there were any “large-scale offensives.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin is militarily and politically bankrupt, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s use of Iranian drones shows that the Kremlin is “militarily and politically bankrupt.”

Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Tuesday evening that more than 10 Ukrainian regions were subject to “Russian terrorist strikes” over the last 24 hours, including the Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“Wherever possible we try to speed up reconstruction work. And of course all this is related to our efforts in defending against drones. We have to remember that the mere fact of Russia turning to Iran for such assistance is admission by the Kremlin that it is militarily and politically bankrupt.”

A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on Oct. 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

He said Russia had spent dozens of years “spending billions of dollars on their military-industrial complex but in the end had to go cap in hand to Tehran. To receive rather simple drones and missiles.”

The president said Russia’s apparent reliance on such weapons would not help it strategically. “It’s just an additional confirmation to the world that Russia is on the trajectory of its defeat,” he said.

Russia has denied it is using Iranian drones. When asked directly if Russia had bought drones from Iran, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday, “no, we do not have such information.” Iran has denied reports that it provided Russia with drones and plans to sell more weapons to Moscow.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it did not have information at the time to corroborate reports that Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, along with more drones.

‘We are completely ready,’ Pentagon says in response to ‘reckless’ Russian threats to use nuclear weapons

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon September 6, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Ryder held a news briefing to answer questions from members of the press.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

The U.S. takes Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “reckless” comments about the potential use of nuclear weapons seriously and is closely monitoring the situation, the Pentagon said.

“We are completely ready,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said when asked if the U.S. was prepared if Russia decided to use nuclear weapons.

Ryder added that the U.S. had not found cause to change Washington’s strategic nuclear posture.

He also reiterated that the U.S. assesses that Putin has not yet decided whether to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

WHO records more than 620 attacks on vital health services in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion

Members of the Ukrainian military receive treatment for concussions and light injuries from Ukrainian military medics at a frontline field hospital on May 10, 2022 in Popasna, Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, there have been at least 623 attacks on vital health services in the country, the World Health Organization’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care estimates.

The organization reports that health care facilities were damaged 541 times, ambulances were targeted in 82 cases and at least 154 attacks affected crucial medical supplies. The group also estimated that attacks on health services led to at least 100 deaths and 129 injuries.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilian infrastructure like hospitals, schools and apartment buildings.

— Amanda Macias

30% of Ukraine’s power stations destroyed by Russian strikes in roughly a week, Zelenskyy says

Smoke rises over Kharkiv’s western outskirts as firefighters put out the fire after a Russian rocket attack hit an electric power station in Kharkiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, on Sept. 12, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A whopping 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed by Russian strikes in the past eight days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in the wake of fresh Russian attacks on the country’s critical energy infrastructure.

This has resulted in widespread blackouts across the country, with three major cities, including Kyiv, experiencing power outages.

“Another kind of Russian terrorist attacks: targeting energy & critical infrastructure,” Zelensky wrote in a tweet. “Since Oct 10, 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country. No space left for negotiations with Putin’s regime.”

— Natasha Turak

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