Overview:

  • Zelensky warns G7 that Kremlin is counting on Western consolidation to “collapse”
  • G7 leaders agree to curb their imports of Russian diamonds next year
  • US charges four Russians with war crimes against an American in Ukraine
  • AFU shoots down a helicopter, destroys a missile system and ammo depot
  • Kyiv’s forces move in on Stepove, Moscow continues attempts to march on Avdiivka’s plant
  • Kremlin’s bloggers excited about new Russian-made “termite” drone

Zelensky appeals for unity in G7 virtual meeting; leaders limit Russian-diamond imports

In a virtual meeting with G7 leaders on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia had increased assaults on the front lines and warned that “Russia hopes only for one thing -- that next year the free world’s consolidation will collapse,” AFP reported.

“We must win the battle for motivation. The motivation of our people and all of Europe,” he told leaders, which included US President Joe Biden, who was in the midst of a battle himself in Washington to pass more aid to Kyiv.

“The ongoing battle is not just about the fate of Ukraine, it’s about Europe,” Zelensky stressed.

The G7 leaders did roll out one more financial weapon to be used against Moscow: an agreement to restrict imports of non-industrial Russian diamonds.

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“We will introduce import restrictions on non-industrial diamonds, mined, processed, or produced in Russia, by January 1, 2024,” the leaders said.

Russians who tortured US citizen in Ukraine indicted for war crimes

In a largely symbolic move, the US Department of Justice has brought war crimes charges against four Russians accused of torturing an American citizen in Ukraine.

The AP noted that it is “the first prosecution against members of the Russian armed forces in connection with atrocities during Moscow’s war against Ukraine, and it is the first time the Justice Department has brought charges under a nearly 30-year-old statute that makes it a crime to subject an American to torture or inhumane treatment during a war.”

OSCE Official Gets Jail Term for 'Spying' in Russian-Held Ukraine
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OSCE Official Gets Jail Term for 'Spying' in Russian-Held Ukraine

OSCE condemned it as "a grave violation of participating states' commitments under international law" and called for the immediate release of Vadym Golda and two other jailed OSCE officials.

The case, filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, named the defendants as commanding officers Suren Mkrtchyan, Dmitry Budnik, Valerii Lnu and Nazar Lnu. The DOJ prosecutors recounted how the American living just outside of Kherson was captured by the Russian soldiers, beaten and sexually assaulted.

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Legal observers noted it is highly unlikely that the fugitives will ever be apprehended and underlined that this is more of a symbolic move, invoking a 30-year-old war crimes law for the first time.

Russia launches some 50 drone strikes, Ukraine downs one of their helicopters

Ukrainian military officials reported on Wednesday that Russian forces launched some 50 Shahed drones from the Kursk region and Cape Chauda in occupied Crimea and that the AFU air defenses had downed 41 of them in the regions of Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Kirovohrad, and Zhytomyr, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) also reported on Wednesday that their forces had destroyed a Russian helicopter, without specifying where that happened.

“During the day, there were 83 battles,” the General Staff wrote in its daily update of nationwide combat. “The enemy fired 2 missiles and 71 air strikes, carried out 65 shelling of our military positions and settlements with reactive voltage fire…

“The rocket troops units affected one helicopter, one anti-aircraft missile complex, three focused areas of personnel, weapons and military equipment, one ammunition warehouse and two enemy artillery.”

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Kremlin-affiliated bloggers tout new AI-aided unmanned attack helicopter

Last month, the Kremlin-controlled state media outlet TASS had reported that Russian former president Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin cut the ribbon on the new Rudnevo industrial park, “which will design, manufacture, assemble Russian drone parts,” ISW reported.

Russian bloggers are now saying that, during those visits, Russia unveiled its new “Termite” unmanned attack helicopter. The helicopter drone can use artificial intelligence to search and strike targets independently, the bloggers claimed.

Presumably, since its AI is programmed by Russians a captured drone would document the intent of what it was programmed to attack, even when targets are illegal under international law, giving war crimes evidence to International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors.

Operations: Avdiivka

For another consecutive day, Russian and Ukrainian forces traded gains on Wednesday around the keystone city of Avdiivka.

As reported by the ISW, geolocated footage published Wednesday shows that Russian forces marginally advanced in the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka. Russian military bloggers claimed that Moscow’s forces advanced south of the city’s famous slag heap on the city’s northeast outskirts and near the coke and chemical plant on the northwest side.

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While neither of these claims was specifically verified by the ISW, these sorts of repetitive accounts have been so frequent over the past few weeks that the reported advances might be presumed to be marginal at best.

In the southeastern flank of the city, the reports recently have involved elements of the Russian 87th and 1487th Regiments (1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps), 10th Tank Regiment (3rd Army Corps, Western Military District), and “Veterans” Sabotage and Assault Brigade.

On the Ukrainian side, the AFU’s General Staff reported that its forces repelled “at least 25 attacks east of Novobakhmutivka (7 km northwest of Avdiivka), northeast of Berdychi (4 km north of Avdiivka), and near Avdiivka, Stepove (3 km north of Avdiivka), Sieverne (6 km west of Avdiivka), Tonenke (5 km west of Avdiivka), and Pervomaiske (11 km southwest of Avdiivka).

Geolocated footage from Tuesday shows that the AFU has made advances in Stepove, into the town center, news that has been corroborated by a Russian military blogger as well on Wednesday.

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