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Thursday, December 8, 2022

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Ukraine Invasion Day 216: What the Ukrainians bet on for victory

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Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the Ukrainian president, believes there is a possibility that the war will end in the foreseeable future. If one of the occupied provincial capitals of Donetsk or Luhansk is conquered, it will probably take around three months before the Russian army collapses due to demoralization.

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What initially sounds like a bold hope actually has a basis. Morale in parts of the Russian army has been low since the first day of the invasion. Numerous cases of desertions are known, recently entire organizations are said to have refused to continue fighting.

The supply situation is catastrophic for Russian troops in parts of Ukraine, and it will not improve with the onset of winter. It is still unclear whether Russia can provide its soldiers and new recruits with sufficient winter equipment (the Ukrainian army is struggling with similar problems in certain areas).

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Now the Russian troops are on the defensive. All soldiers who had temporary contracts were also tied to the front for an indefinite period by Putin’s decree last week without prior announcement. Putin has breached his contract with his soldiers. And the majority of the drafted recruits will not be enthusiastic about fighting either. The overall effect on combat readiness can be guessed at.

And last: The Ukraine campaign is shaped by Putin’s political guidelines, not by what is militarily feasible. That must frustrate soldiers and officers. The Kremlin chief recently prohibited his generals from withdrawing from Cherson, and the last almost desperate offensive actions in the southern Donbass, which have cost a lot of blood, are being maintained because the conquest of the Donbass is Putin’s priority war goal. How long will the soldiers and military decision-makers put up with that? Not for much longer, the Ukrainians hope.

The most important news of the day:

  • Gazprom threatens to stop deliveries via Ukraine pipelines: After the attacks on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, the next setback for Europe’s gas supply is imminent. Gas prices shot up on the stock exchanges on Wednesday morning. More here. Read all about the alleged attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines below.
  • Von der Leyen presents the eighth package of EU sanctions including an oil price cap: Because of the war in Ukraine, the EU has already issued several sanctions against Russia. Now another package is to follow. More here.
  • According to a report by the Ministry of the Interior, there is no evidence that Ukrainian refugees who have left Germany have received benefits illegally. CDU leader Merz previously accused them of “social tourism”. More here.
  • As “Die Zeit” reports, the federal government is not only supplying arms to Ukraine, but also intelligence information. It is about enlightenment. More here.
  • Angela Merkel advises taking Putin seriously: At the opening of the new Helmut Kohl Foundation, Angela Merkel draws lessons from his chancellorship. And also talks about the Russian President. More here.
  • In the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, Russian troops are threatened with encirclement by the Ukrainian army. Russian war reporters on Wednesday reported on successful Ukrainian advances northeast and east of the small town of Lyman. Should the settlement of Torske be recaptured, the Russian routes from Lyman to Kreminna and Svatowe in the Luhansk region could be cut off. The streets are already under fire from Ukrainian artillery. More on the live blog.
  • According to the FSB, the secret service has arrested a Ukrainian spy in the Russian capital Moscow. The suspect is “a Ukrainian citizen, he was an agent of the SBU (Ukrainian secret service) and in the spring of 2022 he was given the task of collecting data on Russian military equipment on Russian territory from the secret service,” the state news agency TASS reported on Wednesday, citing FSB- circles.
  • According to the United States, it is preparing new sanctions against Russia. The government in Moscow will have to pay a high price for the “sham referendums” in the occupied parts of Ukraine, says the coordinator of punitive measures at the State Department, James O’Brien. We are working with allies and partners to this end. The focus of the sanctions continues to be on military supply chains and vulnerable areas in the Russian economy.
  • In view of the ongoing mobilization in Russia, the USA has again asked its citizens to leave the largest country in the world in terms of area. The United States Embassy in Moscow warned on Wednesday that Russia could prevent people with dual US and Russian citizenship from leaving the country and conscripting them into the military.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered to mediate in negotiations on a ceasefire zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. In talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Erdogan offered an approach along the lines of the grain agreement, the Turkish presidential palace said on Wednesday.
  • Russia will no longer issue passports to citizens drafted into military service as part of the partial mobilization. The Russian government announced on Wednesday on its website that those affected were “denied their passports”. Recruitment offices have also been set up at the border crossings with Finland and Georgia. In addition, the authorities made it difficult to travel to the border region with Georgia. Since Putin announced partial mobilization, up to 260,000 Russians have fled the country.
  • Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants Russians who refuse to be drafted into the military because of the illegal war in Ukraine record in Germany. “I’m in favor of offering these people protection,” Scholz told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”.
  • After the sham referendums in four occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine, the further roadmap for the planned illegal annexation by Russia is emerging. The two Russian chambers of parliament want to decide on the annexations on Monday and Tuesday.
  • In the future, it will also no longer be possible to pay with bank cards from the Russian payment system Mir in Turkey. Three Turkish public banks will stop using the system in the foreseeable future, a senior Turkish official told AFP on Wednesday. “There are ongoing payments, but a future date (for hiring) has been set.”
  • The G7 states have said they will support Ukraine’s economy minister, Yulia Swyrydenko, in her plan to use frozen Russian state assets to rebuild Ukraine. “We are aware that the legal situation in many countries will have to be adjusted for this, but this has to start now. We discussed this with all partners at the G7 trade ministers’ meeting,” Swyrydenko told the newspaper “Welt”.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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