Sending Ukraine advanced weaponry would be a response from Israel to reports that Tehran is sending ballistic missiles to Moscow.
Israeli state media corporation Kan 11, citing the head of the National Security Council of Israel, Eyal Hulat, reported that Israel might transfer high-tech missiles to Ukraine if Iran supplies ballistic missiles to Russia.
The Washington Post reported last month that Tehran could supply such missiles to Moscow, as well as Russia beginning to produce Iranian-designed drones on its own territory. Russia’s Chief of the Defense Intelligence Kirill Budanov stated that Moscow could use Iranian short-range ballistic missiles against Ukraine, which would have no effective means of combating Iranian rockets of this type.
Israel and Iran, sworn enemies in the Middle East, had largely steered clear of open involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war. But the veneer of neutrality has largely faded, and the respective countries’ roles as arms producers and exporters is increasingly part of the calculations for both sides in Ukraine.
On November 17, another Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing its sources, reported that Israel agreed to finance the purchase of "strategic equipment" for Ukraine after persistent calls from the United States. And The New York Times wrote that Jerusalem is secretly helping Kyiv with military intelligence.
Kyiv Monastery Raided By Ukraine’s Security Service
Ukraine’s SBU security service and police raided an iconic 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv early Tuesday as part of operations to counter possible "subversive activities” by Russia.
The Kyiv Monastery of the Caves is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that falls under the Moscow Patriarchate.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has strongly supported Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and described Tuesday's raid as an "act of intimidation." In May, the Ukrainian Orthodox church of the Moscow Patriarchate ended its ties with the Russian church and condemned the support of Patriarch Kirill for Moscow's “special military operation.”
Tuesday’s raid was aimed at preventing the use of the cave monastery as "the center of the Russian world" and looked into “the use of the premises ... for sheltering sabotage and reconnaissance groups, foreign citizens, weapons storage". The "Russian world" concept is at the center of Russian President President Vladimir Putin's new foreign policy doctrine that aims to protect Russia's language, culture and religion.
Ukraine Outages To Last Until March, Officials Urge Kherson Residents To Leave
Blackouts in Kyiv
Ukrainian energy suppliers imposed more blackouts in addition to those scheduled as temperatures continue to drop across the country. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the blackouts are due to a higher level of demand for electricity than the country’s damaged infrastructure can provide.
Yasno, Ukraine’s biggest energy supplier, said emergency outages affected almost a million households and businesses. Serhiy Kovalenko, CEO of Yasno, said engineers are working to restore power before even further cold weather sets in but warned that Ukrainians will likely have to live with outages until at least the end of March.
Kovalenko also urged citizens to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and to stock up on warm clothes, blankets and supplies in case of long blackouts.
Meanwhile in Kherson, officials are urging residents to evacuate to other regions where there is working electricity and more intact infrastructure for the winter. The newly liberated city is without electricity and the infrastructure too damaged for citizens to shelter from the winter. Iryna Vereshchuk, vice prime minister for the Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, said Ukrainian authorities will offer free accommodation, food and medical attention to those who leave.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Ukraine’s health system is “facing its darkest days in the war so far” and called for a “humanitarian health corridor” to allow supplies to be sent to all areas of Ukraine.
Destination Kyiv? Putin Again Focused On The Capital
The notion that Vladimir Putin was only interested in the contested southeastern regions of Ukraine vanished on Feb. 24. His so-called “special military operation” was in fact an all-out invasion of the nation — with Kyiv as the central objective, to overthrow the government of Volodymyr Zelensky.
Those efforts, as well as the wider attempt to capture Kyiv, were repelled by Ukrainian forces, and Putin turned his attention to Mariupol and Donbas.
But as Ukrainian writer Anna Akage reports, nearly nine months later, the Kremlin is focused back on Kyiv. Rather than cutting off the head, the goal now is to suck out its guts, to starve and freeze its residents as the winter arrives. Even if he is unable to capture Kyiv, Putin appears ready to try to destroy it. Read more here.
U.S. State Department Cites Evidence Of Russian “Systemic” War Crimes
A top U.S. State Department official said there is “mounting evidence” of “systemic war crimes" being committed in "every region where Russia's forces have been deployed” in Ukraine.
“This includes deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure,” abuses of civilians and prisoners of war and “efforts to cover up these crimes,” reports of executions, torture, and sexual violence, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack told reporters.
“There are compelling reports describing physical and psychological abuse, including summary executions, as part of the operations and the forcible transfer and deportation including thousands of Ukrainian children, who've been abducted and forcibly adopted by families within Russia,” she added.
On The Ground In Bakhmut, The Object Of Moscow’s Revenge
French daily Le Monde’s special envoy Thomas d'Istria was reporting from Bakhmut, a small town in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas that has been in the Kremlin’s crosshairs in recent months.
Describing scenes of “bombings night and day” with near daily killings for the past two months, d'Istria writes that Moscow’s relentless pounding of the locality doesn’t appear to have any specific strategic or territorial logic.
As Serhiy Cherevatiy, spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces on the eastern front, tells the French correspondent: “The Russians have [...] failed with their first strategy, which was to seize Kyiv and all of Ukraine. Now they have to score some kind of victory to satisfy the thirst for revenge of part of the political elite.”
D’Istria also notes that tensions have arisen between civilians and Ukrainian soldiers, whom they blame on bringing the fight to the town’s center. Worn out by months of chaos, d’Istria writes that some locals have started to praise Russia’s reconstruction efforts in Mariupol, “where there’s heating and electricity.”
UN: Official Ukraine Civilian Death Count At 6,595, Though Likely Much Higher
Mass Burial in Chernihiv
At least 6,595 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since Russia’s invasion in February, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). On top of that, 10,189 have been injured. Among those killed were at least 415 children. Most of the civilian casualties have occurred in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Donbas of eastern Ukraine.
The commission said actual figures are “considerably higher” due to a lack of or delayed information in areas where the conflict has intensified. Most of the casualties were victims of explosive weapons including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes.
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant Safe, For Now
After this weekend’s new barrage of missiles at or near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, UN inspectors say there was no immediate danger of a nuclear accident. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials toured the plant, now under control of occupying Russia forces.
Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of being responsible for the shelling. The plant provided about a fifth of Ukraine's electricity before Russia's invasion, and has been repeatedly forced to operate on back-up generators.
Viktor Orbán Sports Scarf With “Greater Hungary” Map With Annexed Parts Of Ukraine
\u201cHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban appeared in public with a scarf depicting a map of "Greater Hungary".\n\nThis map includes the current territories of Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine.\u201d— NEXTA (@NEXTA) 1669113220
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán went to a friendly football match between the national teams of Hungary and Greece with a scarf depicting a map of Nagy-Magyarország ("Greater Hungary"), that lays claims to parts of neighboring states, including Ukraine, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia and Serbia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has summoned the Hungarian ambassador as a result, and protests are expected against Orbán, one of Europe’s last allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.