Vladimir Putin with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Minsk, Belarus, December 19, 2022
How and Why Putin’s Ukraine Invasion Failed
Monday’s Coverage: Russia’s Latest Drone Attacks on Kyiv
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1805 GMT:
About 10 million Ukrainians — almost 1/4 of the population — may suffer from a mental health disorder because of the Russian invasion, says World Health Organization representative Jarno Habicht.
In addition to anxiety, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder, respiratory diseases will increase with cold weather and insufficient heating, said Habicht. He also cited automobile accidents on streets darkened by blackouts.
UPDATE 1347 GMT:
The US says UN Secretary-General António Guterres is “apparently yielding to Russian threats” by refusing to send inspectors to Ukraine to examine drones used by Russia and alleged supplied by Iran.
See also Ukraine War, Day 270: Iran to Make Drones in Russia — Western Officials
The UK, France, Germany, the US, and Ukraine say Iran’s provision of hundreds of attack drones to Moscow violates a 2015 UN Security Council resolution establishing the Iran nuclear deal.
“We regret that the UN has not moved to carry out a normal investigation of this reported violation,” the US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told a Security Council meeting on Monday. “We are disappointed that the Secretariat, apparently yielding to Russian threats, has not carried out the investigatory mandate this council has given it.”
Guterres told reporters on Monday that Iran’s supply of drones to Russia is being consider “in the broader picture of everything we are doing in the context of the war to determine if and when we should” send officials to Ukraine.
UPDATE 1342 GMT:
Poland’s PKN Orlen refiner is halting purchases of Russian oil from January.
The company said it is not implementing a long-term contract after the current agreement expires.
UPDATE 1335 GMT:
Kyiv Governor Oleksiy Kuleba says 80% of the region is without electricity after Russian drone attacks on Monday.
“The situation with electricity supplies remains critical,” Kuleba posted on Telegram. “I want to stress that with every shelling by the enemy, the complexity and duration of the repairs increase.”
National power grid operator Ukrenergo said it is providing less than 50% of demand in the capital Kyiv.
Supplies to critical infrastructure are a priority. We expect that today we will be able to turn on equipment to enable the security of supplies to be increased, reduce the capacity deficit and connect more consumers.
UPDATE 1147 GMT:
In a sign of support for and confidence in Ukrainian defenses, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited the frontline city of Bakhmut in the Donestk region in eastern Ukraine.
Zelenskiy met military representatives and handed out awards to soldiers. He posted on Telegram:
Bakhmut Fortress. Our people. Unconquered by the enemy. Who, with their bravery, prove that we will endure and will not give up what’s ours.
Ukraine is proud of you. I am proud of you! Thank you for the courage, resilience and strength shown in repelling the enemy attacks.
The President said in his nightly address on Monday (see 0846 GMT), “Since May, the occupiers have been trying to break our Bakhmut, but time goes on, and Bakhmut is already breaking not only the Russian army but also Russian mercenaries.”
A Ukrainian captain said that, after seven months of Russian attempts to overrun Bakhmut, the assault is beginning to diminishing as the Russians may be running out of ammunition.
UPDATE 1012 GMT:
The Kremlin is calling on middle-aged men to go to the frontlines in Ukraine, saying that they can get iPhones for their daughters.
A new Kremlin propaganda video encourages middle-aged Russian men to join the genocidal invasion of Ukraine in order to buy their daughters new iPhonespic.twitter.com/RDFoVc8HSD
— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) December 19, 2022
Actor Alexey Zheleznyak told independent Russian outlet iStories that he appeared in one of the videos because of 8,000-ruble ($115) fee. Asking if he supported the message that more men should sign up for the Ukraine battlefield, he paused for a moment before saying yes and ending the conversation.
Denis Dekhan, a former TikToker, said he “doesn’t care” whether people volunteer and he does not like the war because it led TikTok to ban Russian users from uploading new content: “I wish it hadn’t happened. It’s caused me a lot of problems. They shut down TikTok.”
But he continued, “I support my country and my President. In my view, whatever he chooses — that’s the right choice. I don’t support the fact that people are being killed there, but I support the fact that our enemies are being confronted.”
An actor who asked to remain anonymous dared to say, “I don’t share the position that people should sign up to serve as volunteers in Ukraine.”
He added, “I don’t think anyone takes these clips seriously. These videos are very poorly made….I didn’t think this crap would ever actually be released.”
UPDATE 0846 GMT:
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine remains the “hottest point” on the 1,300-km (808-mile) frontline.
Russian forces have tried for seven months to overrun Bakhmut. With Ukraine liberating territory in the east since September, the Russians have escalated attacks for a symbolic victory in a city which has lost its strategic significance.
Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation:
Since May, the occupiers have been trying to break our Bakhmut, but time goes on, and Bakhmut is already breaking not only the Russian army but also Russian mercenaries [the Wagner Group] who came to replace the lost soldiers of the occupiers.
Bakhmut had a population of about 70,000 before Vladimir Putin’s invasion. About 12,000 civilians remain, even though “the Russians are destroying the city to the ground”, Zelenskiy said.
A Ukrainian captain, the commander of a howitzer battery, said that the intensity of Russian fire is much lower now than in earlier frontline battles: “We have a huge concentration of our own artillery here…And I guess the Russians are starting to run out of ammo.”
Video of forces from Ukraine’s 46th Air Assault Brigade counterattacking Russian positions in eastern Bakhmut with Wolfhound MRAPs and artillery support. https://t.co/4KkNMcYX7C pic.twitter.com/tYArMp8BBT
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) December 19, 2022
Zelenskiy spoke about the heavy casualties suffered by the Russians.
Just think about it: Russia has already lost almost 99 thousand of its soldiers in Ukraine. Soon there will be 100,000 losses. For what? No one in Moscow has an answer to this question.
UPDATE 0837 GMT:
The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly has been caught lying over Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s visit to the “frontline” in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Shoygu toured “forward Russian positions” and a “command post” on Sunday.
But video of Shoygu’s visit was geolocated to the village of Armiansk in Russian-occupied Crimea, more than 80 km (50 miles) from the frontlines in southern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0833 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks on Ukrainian-held areas of the Kherson region have killed two civilians and wounded three.
The Russians attacked 42 times on Monday with artillery, mortars, multiple-launched rockets, tanks, and missiles.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Almost 10 months into his invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has admitted that Russia is in an “extremely difficult” situation in areas which it occupies.
On September 21, hoping to regain momentum amid Ukrainian counter-offensives, Putin announced the “annexations” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east and the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions in the south.
But Ukrainian forces have continued to advance across the Kherson region, liberating Kherson city in a key strategic and symbolic defeat for Putin. The Russians have been unable to regain territory the east after Ukraine’s reclaiming of the neighboring Kharkiv region in September. Ukrainian strikes on Russian bases, oil facilities, ammunition depots, bridges — including the Kerch Bridge from Russia to occupied Crimea — and other supply logistics positions have continued.
See also Ukraine War, Day 295: Ukrainians Attack Another Russian Airbase — Reports
Speaking on Security Services Day, Putin betrayed further concern with an order to the State security service FSB to escalate surveillance of Russian society and borders because of the “emergence of new threats” from abroad.
He commanded the FSB “to put a firm stop to the activities of foreign special services and to promptly identify traitors, spies and diversionists”.
Putin made his admission after a high-profile visit to his ally Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. Little of substance about Ukraine was revealed, as Putin focused on posing as a leader still in firm command of the situation.
Putin issued his standard line that unspecified “enemies” wanted to stop Russian ties with Belarus.
He said, “Russia is not interested in absorbing anyone,” but the comment is more likely about tension over the relationship with Belarus rather than about Ukraine.
On Friday, Lukashenko — trying to avoid a commitment of Belarusian air and ground forces inside Ukraine — reiterated Belarusian independence and full sovereignty.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said defensively that Putin did not go to Belarus to convince Lukashenko to join the war, saying speculation was unfounded and “foolish”.
Lukashenko issued platitudes in Monday’s press conference, “Today we can unequivocally state: together we were able not only to survive, but also to find opportunities for the development of our economies.”