Overview:

  • Biden administration softens political ground in D.C. for new plea from Zelensky
  • Orban and Zelensky caught in “frank” exchange in Buenos Aires
  • Drones strike Dnipropetrovsk power infrastructure, S-300 missiles hit Kharkiv
  • Moscow’s forces advance in “meat-grinder attacks” on Avdiivka
  • Kyiv’s air defenses repel Kremlin’s attempts to overwhelm them, blogger says
  • Russian Foreign Minister says Ukraine must realize “how deep they are in the hole”
  • Additional Russian gains reported around the Donbas

US State Dept., White House take to TV networks to campaign for Kyiv aid

The administration of US President Joe Biden took to the airwaves on Sunday to prepare the political landscape for the arrival of Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Shalanda Young, head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, stressed that America’s national security is at stake during votes of military aid to Kyiv.

“What happens if Putin marches through Ukraine? What’s next?” Young asked. “NATO countries, our sons and daughters, are at risk of being a part of a larger conflict," she said.

Speaking on ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told interviewer Martha Raddatz that “the choice is very clear.”

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“If we do this and help Ukraine sustain the achievements that it’s made, help ensure that Russia continues to suffer a strategic failure in Ukraine, that’s one route to go,” he said.

“The other route to go is to do something that the only people who are rooting for it are in Moscow, and maybe in Tehran and Beijing, which is not to provide this assistance.”

Meanwhile, cameras in Buenos Aires captured Zelensky and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a tense exchange, although no audio of the conversation was available. Orban, traditionally a strong friend of Russia, has pushed the European Union to cease its funding to Kyiv.

In Show of Support, Starmer Invites Zelensky to Attend Cabinet Meeting
Other Topics of Interest

In Show of Support, Starmer Invites Zelensky to Attend Cabinet Meeting

Starmer is expected to tell Zelensky that Britain will do more in the coming months to dent Russia’s “war machine”, including agreeing a new defense export support treaty.

“It was as frank as possible, and obviously it was about our European affairs,” Zelensky said of the conversation in his nightly address on Sunday, without adding specifics.

Russian kamikaze drones hit Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk

The head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration, Serhiy Lysak, said on Facebook that Russian drones hit targets around the city of Nikopol on Sunday, striking power lines.

“Russian invaders launched three unmanned aerial vehicles at the Nikopol district. Kamikaze drones targeted the center. Their heavy artillery also hit the town. The premises of one of the enterprises and a local power line sustained damage,” he wrote.

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On Saturday, air defense forces had knocked down a Russian missile in Kryvyi Rih.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) reported that, in total, Ukrainian air defenses downed a Kh-29 missile and Shahed-136 drone on Saturday and that Russian forces struck the Kharkiv region with two S-300 missiles on Sunday.

As Ukrainians brace for the anticipated winter Russian strikes on power infrastructure, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that the first missile strike series of those winter strikes likely began on Friday night.

Lavrov shrugs off diplomatic resolution to war, says “You’d have to call Zelensky”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that that in order for any peace talks to happen, then Zelensky would have to change the presidential decree that makes those impossible, Reuters reported.

“You'll have to call Mr Zelensky because, a year and half ago he signed a decree prohibiting any negotiations with Vladimir Putin,” Lavrov said.

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“It is up to the Ukrainians to recognize how deep they are in the hole where the Americans put them,” he added.

Operations: Luhansk

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Russian forces advanced along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on Saturday, pointing to geolocated footage showing the presence of Russian troops southeast of Terny (17 km west of Kreminna). Russian military bloggers claimed this weekend that Moscow’s forces moved forward up to 1.5 kilometers near Terny and Yampolivka (17 km west of Kreminna).

The ISW cited military observers who noted that “dense Ukrainian fortifications in the Terny-Yampolivka area will impede Russian advances,” the analysts wrote.

Operations: Donetsk city

According to reports cited by the ISW, Russian forces made confirmed gains west and southwest of the city of Donetsk on Sunday. The ISW cited geolocated footage apparently showing Russian troops planting a flag on the southwestern outskirts of Marinka.

Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces control “almost all” of Marinka and that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn to positions west of the town.

For its part, the AFU’s General Staff claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled at least 14 Russian attacks near Marinka, Pobieda (5 km southwest of Donetsk), Novomykhailivka (10 km southwest of Donetsk), and southeast of Vuhledar (26 km southwest of Donetsk).

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Operations: Avdiivka

Near Avdiivka, Russians made confirmed advances on Sunday near Stepove, the ISW reported, citing geolocated footage.

 

On Saturday, Russia made reported but unconfirmed advances, the ISW noted, with Kremlin-affiliated bloggers claiming that Russian forces gained territory towards Novobakhmutivka (9 km northwest of Avdiivka) and Novokalynove (13 km northeast of Avdiivka), southeast of Pervomaiske (10 km southwest of Avdiivka), near the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka, and up to 150 meters near the city’s fiercely contested coke and chemical plant.  

One Russian military blogger described the Avdiivka front as “a lighter version of the Bakhmut meat grinder,” the SIW wrote, referring to Russian attritional infantry-led frontal assaults on Ukrainian positions at high cost.

According to Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov, Russia is using remote-controlled (RC) wheeled and tracked vehicles on the Avdiivka front to bring supplies to frontline positions and evacuate the wounded.

A Russian blogger attributed the usage of the ground drones to mounting vehicle losses, the ISW noted. The blogger added that the RC units might more easily evade Ukrainian drones, but the AFU’s drones have already successfully attacked the robots, said another blogger.  

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Russian decoy rockets used on Kyiv to compensate for low supplies of high-precision missiles

Russian decoy missiles failed to overwhelm Kyiv’s air defenses during Friday’s missile strikes on the capital, the ISW cited a Russian military blogger as saying.  The “prominent” blogger claimed over the weekend that Moscow used decoy Kh-55 cruise missiles, “which closely resemble the modernized Kh-101 missile variant, to confuse Ukrainian air defenses.”  

The milblogger went on to say that it is “virtually impossible” for Russian forces to launch enough decoys to overload Ukrainian air defenses “due to Russia’s limited number of Tu-95 and T-160 bombers’” the ISW wrote, adding that Russian forces previously used Kh-55s and other variants to compensate for dwindling high-precision missile stockpiles.

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