Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with the commander of ground Forces, Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky in Kupyansk, Kharkiv region, northeast Ukraine, November 30, 2023
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1043 GMT:
Ukraine’s Energy Ministry says the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant again lost its power supply, but the last remaining line from Ukrainian-controlled territory has since been repaired.
Russia seized the plant, the largest in Europe with six reactors, in March 2022. While the reactors are dormant, one needs electricity for cooling as it remains in a state of “hot conservation”.
The Energy Ministry said the eighth blackout during Russia’s invasion was caused by disruption to one power line late Friday and the breaking of another at 2:31 a.m. on Saturday.
“This…could have led to nuclear catastrophe,” the statement said.
The plant relied on 20 backup generators until the broken 750 kW line was repaired at 7 a.m.
UPDATE 0954 GMT:
Moscow police have raided clubs holding parties for the LGBTQ community, a day after the Russian Supreme Court banned the “international LGBT+ movement” as an “extremist organization”.
The raids began about 10 p.m. Friday and continued until 2 or 3 a.m. An eyewitness said of one of the assaults:
In the middle of the party, they stopped the music and [the police] started entering the halls. There were also citizens of other countries at the party. On the way out they took photographs of passports without permission to do so.
The schme was worked out. This is how similar clubs in St. Petersburg were closed. Someone is panicking.
In St. Petersburg, a district court fined the owner of music channel Aiva TV 500,000 roubles ($5,480) for “LGBT propaganda”.
The channel’s offense was the broadcast of the video “So Beautiful” by singer Sergei Lazarev, first released in 2017. The judge said it promoted “non-traditional sexual relationships and preferences” and “gender reassignment” on the Internet — because it showed “interacting hands (caressing each other), whose relative position in space, their individual characteristics (hair, shape of the nail plate, manicure, jewelry) allow them to be perceived as belonging to two different people of the same sex”.
UPDATE 0833 GMT:
As he orders another increase in the size of the Russian military, Vladimir Putin has told Russian women to have up to eight children amid “difficult demographic challenges”.
Putin told a meeting of the World Russian People’s Council that many people “preserve the tradition of a strong, multi-generational family, where four, five or more children are raised”.
He spoke of the the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of today’s Russians having seven or eight children: “Let’s preserve and revive these wonderful traditions. Having many children and a large family should become the norm, a way of life for all the peoples of Russia.”
Births in Russia have declined year-on-year from 1.942 million in 2014 to 1.306 million in 2022. They fell another 3% in the first half of 2023, with 616,200 thousand. June’s total of 104,400 is the lowest monthly figure since records began.
On Saturday, Putin signed a decree for an increase of almost 170,000 troops, taking the total to 2.2 million military personnel and 1.32 million troops.
Conscious of the problems with Putin’s mass mobilization of September 2022, the Russian Defense Ministry said the order did not imply any “significant expansion of conscription”.
The military declared, “The increase in the full-time strength of the army is due to growing threats to our country linked with the special military operation and the continuing expansion of NATO.”
UPDATE 0828 GMT:
The US Treasury has sanctioned another three transnational entities violating the $60 per barrel price cap on Russian oil transported by sea.
The Treasury said the UAE-owned NS Champion and Viktor Bakaev, and the Liberia-owned HS Atlantica carried Russian Urals crude oil priced above $70 per barrel.
UPDATE 0735 GMT:
The Ukraine Air Force says air defenses downed 10 of 11 Iranian-made attack drones and a Kh-59 cruise missile launched by Russia overnight.
The drones, launched from Russian-occupied Crimea, were intercepted over the Odesa region in southern Ukraine. The one that broke through struck infrastructure, causing a fire which was “quickly extinguished” with no casualties.
The cruise missile was downed near the city of Dnipro in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has acknowledged that Ukraine’s 5 1/2-month counter-offensive has not met expectations for the defeat of Russia’s invasion.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Zelenskiy said, “We wanted faster results. From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact.”
The President cited limits in the size of Ukraine’s forces and in the weapons received from allies as reasons for the disappointment.
Ukraine has made gradual gains in the east and south of the country; however, it has not matched its autumn 2022 counter-offensive with the liberation of cities.
Russia is under pressure in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions in the south, but it is trying to reverse the counter-offensive in the east with weeks of assaults on towns such as Avdiivka in the Donetsk region and Kupyansk in neighboring Kharkiv.
On Thursday, Zelenskiy visited frontlines in both the east and south. He met commanders to discuss fortifications, operations, and plans.
At the meeting of the Staff today, there was a briefing by Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service regarding Russia’s potential actions and international situation next year.
We are analyzing all possible scenarios, and there must be our own Ukrainian scenario for 2024. Specific… pic.twitter.com/zkFaeE5Bwd
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 1, 2023
Despite slower-than-desired liberation, Zelenskiy told the Associated Press:
Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second [best] army in the world, I am satisfied….
There is not enough power to achieve the desired results faster. But this does not mean that we should give up, that we have to surrender. We are confident in our actions. We fight for what is ours.
“A New Phase of War”
Zelenskiy said of the current situation after 21 months of Russian invasion: “We have a new phase of war, and that is a fact. Winter as a whole is a new phase of war.”
Pointing to Russia’s ongoing missile and drone attacks — on November 25, Moscow launched its largest assault with Iranian-made UAVs, firing 75 Shahad “kamikaze” drones — he continued, “That is why a winter war is difficult.”
Zelenskiy pointed to the advances that have been achieved since June, and the diminished power of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet after Ukrainian attacks — both on Russian-occupied Crimea and inside Russia — on Fleet headquarters, ports, warships, bridges, and oil and ammunition deports. With that diminished power, Ukraine and its partners have established a “protected corridor” in the Black Sea breaking Vladimir Putin’s attempt to blockade Ukrainian ports.
But he emphasized the necessity of more international support for Ukraine’s arms production:
This is the way out. Give us these opportunities, and we will build. Whatever effort and time it will take, we will do it, and we will do it very quickly.