Fresh Troops Arriving As Final Battle For Kherson Appears Imminent
A missile attack early Friday kills four, as civilians try to evacuate the largest Ukrainian city under Russian occupation.
The Ukrainian military's General Staff reports that up to 2,000 Russian troops have arrived in the wider occupied Kherson region to replenish losses and reinforce units on the southern front line. These troops are believed to be made up of men called up in Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization,” brought in for what many believe will be a major battle for the key port city and regional capital of Kherson.
The Kremlin has accused Ukrainian forces overnight of targeting civilians evacuating from the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, after a missile attack killed at least four.
Captured by Moscow’s forces in the first days of the war, Kherson had a pre-war population of 284,000, making it the largest city Russia holds. The Ukrainian resistance movement in the city has been active, including reports of sabotage and assassinations of Russian-installed officials in Kherson.
Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have launched at least three missiles and 24 airstrikes as well as shelled more than 15 settlements using multiple rocket launchers. Ukraine's military also downed 15 Russian drones and destroyed two anti-aircraft missile systems.
U.S. Thwarts Ploys To Send Military Tech To Russia
The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against "nearly a dozen individuals and two companies" for participating in unlawful schemes to export military technologies to Russia — some of which have been recovered on battlefields in Ukraine.
One indictment accuses five Russian nationals and two Venezuelan oil brokers of setting up a network of shell companies to illegally send U.S. military technology to Russia and millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil to Russian and Chinese buyers, avoiding U.S. sanctions.
In cooperation with Latvian authorities, U.S. officials have also intercepted a piece of equipment originally manufactured in Connecticut, bound for Russia, that has applications “in nuclear proliferation and defense programs”. Four individuals — three Latvians and one Ukrainian citizen who resided in Estonia — face several charges for allegedly conspiring to smuggle the item, a high-precision grinding machine, to individuals in Russia, the Justice Department told CNN.
Iran Sending Drone Pilots To Train Russians Struggling To Use Them
Iran has sent a number of Revolutionary Guard Corps members to Russian-occupied Crimea with the intention of helping Moscow launch Shahed-136 kamikaze drones at Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
According to declassified U.S. intelligence reports, the Russians were struggling with the Iranian drones immediately after receiving them in August. "The information we have is that the Iranians have put trainers and tech support in Crimea, but it's the Russians who are doing the piloting," Kirby said.
The European Union, meanwhile, has approved sanctions against Iran for selling its munitions to Russia. The U.S. has also warned about implementing sanctions against "all involved" in supplying Russia with Iranian-made kamikaze drones.
Zelensky Says Ukraine Not Behind Crimea Bridge Attack
Crimea bridge explosion
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Canadian CTV news outlet that Ukraine "definitely did not order [the Crimea bridge explosion], as far as I know," Zelensky said. The President added that Russian domestic conflicts could have been the cause of the explosion.
In his overnight address, Zelensky also accused Russian forces of having mined the Kakhovka dam at a hydroelectric plant, on the Dnipro river in southern Ukraine. Zelensky also used his address to ask the West to help prevent Russia from destroying the dam, which would cause significant flooding to the region.
Tracking Rising Tensions In Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan And Other Soviet Republics
Russia has always claimed to be a kind of sheriff on the territory of the former USSR, a zone the country considers as its "privileged interests," reports Vazhnyye Istorii.
In 2020 we began to see how the instability and simmering conflicts in the ex-Soviet republics could converge and take a bloody turn: Hostilities resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Belarus bubbling, with popular protests against strongman Alexander Lukashenko, border skirmishes turned deadly between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; another coup d'état took place in Kyrgyzstan in October.
Fast-forward to today: We are seeing how Russia's war with Ukraine has worsened the region's security.
Read the Vazhnyye Istorii piece in English via Worldcrunch.
Putin Makes Appearance At Training Of Mobilized Soldiers
Russian President Visits Airborne Training Base
Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, arrived in the Ryazan region, where he performed checks on the training and preparation of mobilized men.
Putin also visited a multifunctional shooting complex, where mobilized men practice various methods of firing under the guidance of commanders and instructors with combat experience.
Vladimir “The Cold Warrior” On German Front Page
Berlin-based daily Der Tagesspiegel features an ominous-looking Vladimir Putin on its front page today, a day after “the cold warrior,” as it nicknames the Russian president, declared martial law in the four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.
Estonia Calls For Tribunal To Hold Russia Accountable
The European Union needs to begin preparing for a special tribunal to rule on Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and possible war crimes there, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas declared on Friday.
"We definitely have to discuss the legal response to the crimes of aggression that have been committed in Ukraine (...) that can only be addressed by a separate tribunal," she said on her way to the second day of an EU summit.
Meanwhile Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said the EU must stay united in its support for Ukraine and should also start holding Russia accountable for its criminal activities in the war.
“Russia’s war is becoming ever more brutal, now blatantly aimed not only at the Ukrainian military but at Ukrainian citizens and their civilian infrastructure,” Karins said.