10 votes

Weekly megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - November 3

This thread is posted weekly on Thursday - please try to post relevant content in here, such as news, updates, opinion articles, etc. Especially significant updates may warrant a separate topic, but most should be posted here.

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  1. cfabbro
    Kyiv prepares for a winter with no heat, water or power (AP)

    Kyiv prepares for a winter with no heat, water or power (AP)

    The mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, is warning residents that they must prepare for the worst this winter if Russia keeps striking the country’s energy infrastructure — and that means having no electricity, water or heat in the freezing cold cannot be ruled out.

    “We are doing everything to avoid this. But let’s be frank, our enemies are doing everything for the city to be without heat, without electricity, without water supply, in general, so we all die. And the future of the country and the future of each of us depends on how prepared we are for different situations,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko told state media.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation Sunday that about 4.5 million people were without electricity. He called on Ukrainians to endure the hardships and “we must get through this winter and be even stronger in the spring than now.”

    Russia has focused on striking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the last month, causing power shortages and rolling outages across the country. Kyiv was having hourly rotating blackouts Sunday in parts of the city and the surrounding region.

    Rolling blackouts also were planned in the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions, Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator, Ukrenergo, said.

    Kyiv plans to deploy about 1,000 heating points, but it’s unclear if that would be enough for a city of 3 million people.

    5 votes
  2. skybrian
    Russia orders pullout from Kherson city, surrendering key regional capital (Washington Post) [...] [...]

    Russia orders pullout from Kherson city, surrendering key regional capital (Washington Post)

    It was unclear whether the order to pull back had been fully implemented, and Ukrainian officials have said they are suspicious that any Russian retreat could be part of a trap. The Ukrainians also said that it would probably take several more days before their troops could enter the city and that they might still face potentially heavy fighting with Russians dug in to more advantageous positions.


    [A]fter a two week lull in the fighting that had seemed to signal a stalemate was setting in, Ukrainian forces overnight Tuesday went on the offensive, launching an assault on the strategic town of Snihurivka located on a major road which controls access to Kherson about 20 miles to the south.


    Russian troops laid mines and blew up bridges as they retreated, slowing any further Ukrainian advances, a Ukrainian military official in the area said. There were also reports that Russian flags had been taken down from administrative buildings in Kherson city.

    5 votes
  3. streblo
    Seems like Russia is currently, or is is about to, pull back its forces to the left (eastern) bank of the Dneiper. Ongoing Twitter thread here.

    Seems like Russia is currently, or is is about to, pull back its forces to the left (eastern) bank of the Dneiper.

    Ongoing Twitter thread here.

    4 votes
  4. cfabbro
    (edited )
    Russia’s heavy casualties in Ukraine spark outcry and rare official response (WaPo) Paywalled, and long excerpt, so click to expand.

    Russia’s heavy casualties in Ukraine spark outcry and rare official response (WaPo)

    Paywalled, and long excerpt, so click to expand.

    Steep Russian casualties in key battles in eastern Ukraine have prompted an unusual public outcry — and sharp criticism of military commanders — by surviving soldiers and family members of recently conscripted fighters, who say their units were led to slaughter in poorly planned operations.

    The uproar over battlefield losses near Vuhledar in the Donetsk region prompted an official statement from the Russian Defense Ministry, which sought to play down the reportedly high death toll among soldiers in the 155th Separate Guards Marine Brigade, which led Moscow’s offensive in the area.

    It was the first time since the start of Russia’s invasion that the ministry has officially responded to reports of mass casualties and criticism of commanders on Telegram, the main platform used by officials as well as by reporters and bloggers covering the Russian war.

    Criticizing the war — or even calling it a war rather than a “special military operation” — is illegal in Russia. But the Kremlin in recent months has tolerated criticism of the military’s poor performance by pro-war hawks who back the invasion, including some demanding even more brutal tactics in Ukraine.

    On Sunday, pro-Kremlin military correspondents posted the text of a letter sent by the members of the 155th Brigade, which is normally based in Russia’s Far East, decrying the order that sent them into what they called “an incomprehensible offensive” in the village of Pavlivka, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

    “As a result of the ‘carefully’ planned offensive by the ‘great generals,’ we lost about 300 people killed, wounded and missing as well as half the equipment in four days,” the letter said. It was addressed to Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako of the Primorsky region, which lies on the coast of the Sea of Japan.

    Nearly 6,000 miles away, in eastern Ukraine, the weather had turned for the worse in Pavlivka, with rain muddying the roads and making reinforcement of troops in the area even more difficult, the commander of the pro-Russian Vostok battalion, Alexander Khodakovsky, wrote on Telegram over the weekend.

    “My fears about Pavlivka were justified,” Khodakovsky said, adding that he felt the advancement in the area initiated by Russian commanders had been “premature.”

    The letter also specifically criticized Rustam Muradov, the commander of Russia’s Eastern Military District, who was appointed in October. Earlier in the war, Muradov led the Vostok grouping of forces, which was responsible for operations in eastern areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.

    Officially, the military did not give a reason for the reassignment, but it came after the Russian military suffered a defeat in Lyman, a key logistics and supply hub in Donetsk area. The embarrassing defeat occurred a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of Donetsk and three other Ukrainian regions — a violation of international law.

    The Russian chain of command has appeared to be in constant disarray throughout the war as Moscow repeatedly switched overall commanders and replaced top generals in all four of its military districts.

    Most recently, Russian media reported that Col. Gen. Alexander Lapin no longer runs the Central Military District after he was repeatedly bashed by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Putin’s ally and the financier of the Wagner mercenary group, over strategic missteps and the poor performance of his troops.

    The governor, Kozhemyako, at first dismissed the letter as a “potential fake planted” by Ukrainians but later issued a video message saying he had contacted the officers on the front line who confirmed there had been heavy fighting and losses. However, he said, “the number is as not as high as it’s written in this letter.”

    “Due to the competent actions of the commanders, the losses among the marines over this period do not exceed 1 percent of the combat personnel and 7 percent of the wounded, a significant part of whom have already returned to duty,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in its statement, issued on Monday.

    The ministry added that the 155th Brigade had been fighting near the regional hub of Vuhledar for more than 10 days and advanced “five kilometers deep into Ukrainian positions.”

    Many pro-war commentators in Russia have been urging the ministry to be more transparent about its defeats. But rather than mollify these critics, the statement only inflamed their anger by minimizing the extent of the losses.

    “So far it looks like that the military, having noticed another impending wave of discontent, decided to quickly subcontract the authorities of the region to their side and marginalize the whole situation, once again pretending that nothing is happening,” wrote a popular blogger who writes under the moniker Military Informer. “We hope this situation will change.”

    Moscow’s top brass are also now trying to fend off another public scandal after residents of Voronezh, a city in a strategic Russian region near the Ukrainian border, complained that recently conscripted men from the region had been sent unprepared to Svatove, a town in the Luhansk region that has been the site of fierce battles. Hundreds may have died, according to Russian outlet Verstka.

    “For three days they were under shelling. They tried to survive the best they could. … They had no food and no sleep. They held up for three days and didn’t flee, unlike their commanding officers,” Inna Popova, the wife of a soldier, said in a video address recorded by the soldiers’ family members and posted by Verstka.

    “Please help us rescue our mobilized [men] and remove them from the first line of defense,” Popova said, adding that her husband had been mobilized on Oct. 12 and sent to Ukraine soon after.

    Russian officials repeatedly asserted that the new conscripts, called up amid an unpopular mobilization effort initiated by Putin to replenish his army after several setbacks, would be tasked mainly with controlling already occupied areas and supporting the rear, and not to serve as the main advancing force.

    4 votes