- Russia says it downed “at least 24” Ukrainian drones over its capital, other regions
- Kremlin cracks down further on free speech, censuring more social-media leadership
- Russian troops complain of poor comms and “negligence” along left bank of Dnipro
- Some reports saying Russians have evacuated river flood plain
- Ukrainian forces reportedly cede more territory around Avdiivka
- Moscow makes “marginal gains” in an area near Bakhmut
Russia, Ukraine trade airstrikes and interceptions over respective sovereign territories
AFP reported on Sunday that Russia said it had downed Ukrainian drones over four regions, including several surrounding Moscow, as well as two Ukrainian missiles over the Azov Sea headed for the Kerch Strait Bridge, Russian sources said.
Also over the weekend, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, AFU, said it had downed eight of nine Russian missiles launched at its territories. This, was after what the Ukrainian military called the largest drone attack on the country since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion.
Some 75 Shahed drones were launched on the Ukrainian capital region by Russian forces on Saturday, Ukrainian defense forces said. At least five people were injured in Kyiv after Russian forces targeted the city during its remembrance of the 1932-33 famine orchestrated by the Soviets that killed millions.
On the Russian side of the border, “Air defenses destroyed four Ukrainian drones over the territory of the Bryansk, Smolensk and Tula regions,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement. Earlier Sunday, Moscow said drones were shot down over its capital region. The Russian army said it had also downed two eastbound Ukrainian missiles over the Azov Sea. An apartment building in the Russian city of Tula was also hit.
Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin, said via Telegram that air defenses shot down “at least 24 drones” over the capital region.
Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) was behind the HIMARS missile strikes on Russia, officials said, in one instance also claiming Ukraine attacked the power grid in the occupied Donetsk region.
Kremlin labels Facebook/Instagram spokesman as a “wanted man” on charges of terrorism
Since its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has silenced opposition voices through imprisonment; laid out ground rules for bloggers reporting on operations; and has clenched its control over social media chatter in the run-up to the Russian presidential elections in March 2024.
AFP reported on Sunday that Stone is “listed on Russia’s interior ministry’s list of wanted people, without further detail. In October 2022, Russia listed Meta as a ‘terrorist and extremist’ organization, opening possible criminal investigations and fines for users in the country.”
Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta, have been blocked in Russia since the start of the Ukraine offensive and are only accessible via VPN, as has X, formerly known as Twitter.
Geolocated footage published on Sunday suggests that invading forces threatening to encircle the key city of Avdiivka may have made some advances in the area, marginally advancing northwest of Krasnohorivka (7 km northwest of Avdiivka) and in the eastern part of the industrial zone on Avdiivka’s southeastern outskirts.
Additional video footage from Sunday vetted by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) seems to show Russian armored vehicles attacking Ukrainian positions in the northern part of that same industrial area.
Russian military bloggers overwhelmingly claimed that Russian forces captured the entire industrial area near the Yasynuvata-2 railway station on Sunday after clearing the last remaining buildings in the area on Saturday, though ISW was not able to obtain visual confirmation of these claims.
The industrial zone is located on a hill that, these bloggers asserted, would allow Moscow’s forces to shell Ukrainian positions on the outskirts of Avdiivka, while others insisted that capturing this industrial area would not make further offensive operations any easier for Russian forces.
Also, reports over control of the city’s critical zone of the coke-producing plant were conflicting, with some bloggers noting that Moscow’s forces gained a foothold near the adjacent railway while another Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces “repelled all Russian attacks on the coke plant and near Stepove (3 km northwest of Avdiivka) on Sunday.
The observer added that “Russian advances over the past week do not immediately threaten Ukrainian forces and largely do not affect Russian efforts to capture Avdiivka but simply extend the frontline,” ISW reported.
Operations: Dnipro River
Russian sources on the ground on the east bank of the Dnipro claimed on Sunday that Moscow’s troops had forced some Ukrainian defenders to retreat from positions in the forests near Krynky, claims that have not been independently verified.
Meanwhile, a well-known blogger wrote on Sunday that personnel of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Division (of the newly formed 18th Combined Arms Army) “often write to him complaining about the vulnerability of Russian logistics in the east bank” amid Ukrainian drone strikes, analysts from the Institute for the Study of War reported.
Russian military observers generally agree with assertions that Moscow’s forces in this area struggle with unit coordination “as well as commanders’ negligence at the company and battalion levels,” the ISW wrote.
Recently, Ukrainian military observers had claimed that Russian forces had been completely displaced from the river’s flood plain, moving Moscow’s occupiers to positions higher in the hills:
"In fact, the Dnipro floodplain is effectively under Ukrainian control. And now the Russians are trying to prevent any further steps. They have essentially ceded the floodplain to us, but they are trying to dig in and fortify themselves where the terrain begins to rise, said former battalion commander Yevhen Dykyi.
Reports gathered by the ISW vary, but there is some suggestion that Russian forces have made some marginal gains around Bakhmut over the weekend.
While the AFU’s General Staff reported that its units continued conducting assaults south of Bakhmut on Sunday and are inflicting personnel and military equipment losses on Russian forces, Russian bloggers countered that invading troops marginally advanced near Bakhmut.
These sources claimed that a Russian armored group attacked near Klishchiivka (7 km southwest of Bakhmut) and seized “unspecified positions, but that Ukrainian forces still control key heights around the settlement.
Spent the day with soldiers of the 56th Brigade operating a 120mm mortar in the Bakhmut direction. When asked how many shells they fire a day, 24 y.o “Fritz” answered: “It would be easier to tell you how many we fire in a month. On average, about 2 or 3 a day.” pic.twitter.com/otQ3tMxCZN— Guillaume Ptak (@guillaume_ptak) November 26, 2023
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