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Third Drone Attack Inside Russia — Are We Entering New Phase Of War?

Russian commentators are asking if Ukrainian forces have the means and will to strike Moscow itself.

Third Drone Attack Inside Russia — Are We Entering New Phase Of War?

Drone attack in Kursk, Russia

Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger, and Emma Albright

A drone strike at an airfield in Kursk, Russia on Tuesday appears to confirm a significant escalation of Ukraine’s war effort following two similar attacks the previous day deep inside Russian territory.

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"As a result of a drone attack, an oil tanker caught fire near Kursk airfield," Kursk Gov. Roman Starovoit said on Telegram early Tuesday. "There were no casualties. The fire is being localized."


The explosion near the border of northeastern Ukraine comes a day after Russia blamed Ukraine for two drone attacks on military airbases several hundred kilometers inside Russia, which killed at least three people.

Ukraine has not publicly claimed responsibility for any of the attacks. However, a senior Ukrainian official, quoted by the New York Times, said the drones involved in Monday’s attacks were launched from Ukrainian territory and at least one of the strikes was made with the help of special forces close to the base.

Russia is calling the drone attacks on military air bases acts of terrorism, even as Moscow continues to launch far heavier air strikes on civilian infrastructure targets (see below).

Ukrainian military analyst Serhiy Zgurets said the attacks of the past two days mark a new phase, showing both Kyiv’s will and capacity to strike deep inside Russia.

“It is still too early to say what is at issue here,” he wrote on the Ukrainian television website Espreso TV. “But the ability of the armed forces of Ukraine to reach military targets deep in the territory of the Russian Federation has a very symbolic and important meaning.”

Indeed, one of the airbases struck on Monday in Saratov is approximately 370 miles inside Russia, and commentators on Russian social media wondered aloud if Ukrainian drones could soon strike Moscow itself.

Putin Drives Across Crimean Bridge Damaged In Huge October Blast

Russian President Putin Tours Repaired Kerch Strait Bridge

Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin Pool/Planet Pix/Zuma

Vladimir Putin was shown on state television driving a Mercedes across the Crimean Bridge that had been partially destroyed on Oct. 8 in an attack that Russia blamed on Ukraine.

The footage shows the Russian president at the wheel, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, driving across to the key Kerch Bridge that links between the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula and mainland Russia, and answering questions about the state of repairs: “The left side of the bridge, as I understand it, is in working condition, but still needs to be completed,” Putin can be heard saying in the video.

On Oct. 8, the 12-mile road-and-rail bridge had been partially destroyed in a massive blast which Moscow blamed on Ukraine, although the latter never claimed responsibility for the attack. Footage of the huge explosion was widely circulated, in what many saw as a significant moment in the conflict, happening just a day after Putin's 70th birthday, who had inaugurated the strategic bridge back in 2018.

Some have questioned Putin’s choice of vehicle for his visit, asking why the Kremlin strongman had opted for a German Mercedes instead of a Russian brand for the occasion. State media agency TASS quotes Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying “that kind of car was just available on the spot.”

Putin’s Bridge Visit On Portuguese Front Page

Lisbon-based daily Público features a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea’s Kerch Bridge that had been damaged in an Oct. 8 explosion.

Ukraine Hit By Eighth Large-Scale Shelling From Russia

Shelling in Kherson

Ashley Chan/SOPA Images/Zuma


At least four people were killed and three wounded as Russia launched its eighth major shelling across Ukraine since October.

The attacks, which again appeared aimed principally at damaging Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, included at least 17 missiles that struck the Kherson region through Tuesday morning.

Two infrastructure facilities were also damaged in the Odessa region in the south, with large-scale destruction to the energy infrastructure also reported in Kryvyi Rih in eastern Ukraine.

Russia: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant Is Ours, And We’re Not Leaving

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in south-central Ukraine has been the site of intense fighting and shelling at various moments throughout the 9-month long war. Fearing the potential for nuclear disaster, the International Atomic Energy Agency has pressed for Russia—whose military forces are currently occupying the plant—to agree to a demilitarized zone surrounding the nuclear power facilities.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday that Russia considers the nuclear plant to be Russian territory, and that Russian forces would not be departing or handing it over “to some third party.”

At several points during the war, the Zaporizhzhia plant has been cut from its main electricity supply line as a result of fighting, and has been forced to use generators to maintain its cooling processes.

Russia Deploys Defense Missile System On Island Near Japan

A military vehicle of the Bastion coastal missile system that went on duty on the Kuril island of Paramushir, Russia

RussianDefenseMinistry/Handout

Russia has announced the deployment of mobile coastal defense missile systems on a northern Kuril island, part of a strategically located chain of islands that stretch between Japan and the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula.

The missiles have a flight range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles), and were deployed on the island of Paramushir. Russia’s defense ministry said that a military camp was set up on Paramushir with facilities allowing for year-round service, accommodation, recreation and food for personnel.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Tuesday that the government will closely monitor Russian military activity, adding it has been intensifying in the far east regions at the same time as Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Independent Russian TV Channel Banned From Latvia

TV Rain in Russia

Stanislav Krasilnikov/ITAR/TASS


Latvia has revoked TV Dodzh’s license after the Russian independent TV channel after it was accused of backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

An investigation was opened by the Latvian state security service over statements "which raise suspicions about the assistance provided by this TV channel to the soldiers of the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine."

On Dec. 1, Dozhd’s anchor Aleksei Korostelyov reportedly called on viewers to share instances of violations of Russian laws, and said he hoped to help ”many military personnel, namely by assisting with equipment and bare necessities on the front line."

Earlier, the channel was slapped with a 10,000-euro fine for showing a map of Russia that included Crimea, and for referring to the Russian army as "our army."

TV Dodzh has received a license to broadcast in Latvia back in June, after it was banned in Russia over its coverage of the conflict.

Spanish Police Arrest 30 Accused Of Disguising Cannabis As Ukraine Aid 

Spanish police have arrested 30 people accused of smuggling cannabis that was disguised as aid for Ukraine. The Guardia Civil police force said it became suspicious after identifying a group of Ukrainians on the Costa del Sol collecting cannabis and storing it in a flat in Mijas, near Malaga.

The drugs were packed in vacuum bags and placed in cardboard boxes on vans registered in Ukraine, which proceeded to travel "as a solidarity convoy so they could pass under the radar of police and border controls", the police force added.

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Coronavirus

Why Making COVID Predictions Is Actually Getting Harder

We know more about COVID than ever before, but that doesn't make it easier to predict what will happen this year. It also remains to be seen if we'll put the lessons we learned into practice.

​A young boy who arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

A young boy who arrived from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

Duncan Robertson

In 2020, we knew very little about the novel virus that was to become known as COVID-19. Now, as we enter 2023, a search of Google Scholar produces around five million results containing the term.

So how will the pandemic be felt in 2023? This question is in some ways impossible to answer, given a number of unknowns. In early 2020, the scientific community was focused on determining key parameters that could be used to make projections as to the severity and extent of the spread of the virus. Now, the complex interplay of COVID variants, vaccination and natural immunity makes that process far more difficult and less predictable.

But this doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. The proportion of people estimated to be infected has varied over time, but this figure has not fallen below 1.25% (or one in 80 people) in England for the entirety of 2022. COVID is very much still with us, and people are being infected time and time again.

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