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Abandoned Chechen bodies, Pavlivka captured at the cost of 500 Russian troops, Zelensky in Kherson. What's happening on the front line?

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Russian capture of Pavlivka and 500 dead soldiers

The Russian Defense Ministry has reported the capture of the village of Pavlivka near Vuhledar in the Donetsk region. “On November 14 this year, as a result of persistent fighting, Russian troops completely liberated the village of Pavlivka in the Donetsk People's Republic,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. Two days earlier, on November 12, Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov wrote that Pavlovka was within effective Ukrainian firing range.

Pavlivka was the site of intense battles. On November 6, reports revealed that Russian marines advancing on Vuhledar claimed to have lost 300 men in the space of several days and complained to their commanders. Soldiers of the 155th Guards Marine Brigade of the Russian Pacific Fleet sent a letter to the governor of Primorsky Krai, Oleg Kozhemyako, asking him to send a commission to stop the poorly planned and unprepared offensive on the Ukrainian army’s positions.

On November 14, immediately after the Russian Defense Ministry's statement about the capture of Pavlivka, the media reported that the brigade received a “severe reprimand” for Kozhemyako's complaint about heavy losses. For publicizing the situation, they were intimidated and then sent to storm the village as punishment. According to one of the soldiers, another 100-115 people were killed during the offensive. In total, the brigade allegedly lost 450-500 men dead.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) were able to regain control of the city in the summer – the situation, however, has become more difficult for the city’s defenders. According to military expert Leonid Dmitriev, Pavlivka is important because it is crucial to gaining fire control over Volnovakha.

“If we ‘turn off’ Volnovakha, it’ll be impossible to supply the southern grouping either by rail or even from Mariupol. Approximately two-thirds, if not three-quarters, of the southern grouping's supplies go through Volnovakha now. Because the Crimean bridge is working, but not as much as it should. Why is Pavlivka important? It’s a point of fire control, and remember that the front line’s there as well. The AFU is getting closer and closer there.”
“The point is obvious: Pavlivka is the direction to Olhinka and then to Volnovakha. And this is a major communication hub, which allows to develop the offensive both to the south and to the east-west,” says military expert Serhei Grabsky.

Fighting for the Kinburn spit

Conflicting information is being reported about the fighting for the Kinburn Spit. The spit located between the Dnipro-Buh estuary and the Black Sea. The pro-Russian Telegram channel Romanov live reports that it has come under Ukrainian control. At the same time, Russian propaganda channel RT reported that the spit is still under the control of the Russian army. According to a RT military correspondent, “there was a single attempt to land on the Kinburn Spit from boats plus a landing force. The corpses of the people who tried to swim to the spit are still somewhere in the sea and are gradually being washed up on the beach.”

According to the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), as of 3 p.m. on November 14, the Kinburn Spit was still occupied by the Russian military.

The liberation of the spit and the peninsula will allow Ukraine to unblock the ports in Mykolayiv, Kherson and Ochakiv. It will further strengthen Ukraine's position in the Black Sea, as the Russian army has constantly shelled the ports in Ochakiv and Mykolaiv from positions on the Kinburn Peninsula. The port of Mykolaiv is Ukraine's largest in terms of cargo handling.

According to the Ukrainian media reports, the ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet did not prevent the AFU from occupying the spit, as they did not go to sea from Sevastopol after being attacked by crewless kamikaze boats.

It is not known whose control the spit is under at the time of publication. There is also an assumption that the information about the Ukrainian operation to seize the spit and the peninsula is disinformation spread by the AFU to further complicate and frustrate the Russian information space (following the events in Kherson). The purpose of the alleged disinformation could also be to divert Russian forces from other key defenses.

The only land road to the peninsula is in the artillery strike zone of the village of Stanislav, which is under the control of the AFU
The only land road to the peninsula is in the artillery strike zone of the village of Stanislav, which is under the control of the AFU

Zelensky visits Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in liberated Kherson, according to a Reuters report citing eyewitnesses at the scene. According to the agency, Zelensky spoke to Ukrainian security forces. The Kremlin declined to comment on the Ukrainian president's visit to the territory, which Russia annexed in late September, proclaiming it as its territory and writing it into the country’s constitution.

Zelensky's visit coincided with the face-to-face talks of US and Russian intelligence chiefs in Turkey. The meeting reportedly concerned the prevention of “unintended escalation” and did not include discussions of potential resolutions to the conflict.

Military analyst Def Mon pointed out that with the withdrawal of the Russian army to the left bank of the Dnipro river, Ukraine has already liberated 52.5% of the territory occupied by Russia since February 2022.

SBU finds Chechen fighters' bodies abandoned near Kherson

Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU, has found about a dozen bodies of dead soldiers in the liberated territory of the Kherson region, reported Ukrainian war journalist’s Andriy Tsaplienko Telegram channel. According to Tsaplienko’s information, these were fighters of a unit of the 94th special purpose regiment of Russia’s National Guard (headquartered in the town of Urus-Martan in Chechnya). The unit was stationed outside the village of Nova Kamianka in the Beryslav district, and as Ukrainian troops approached, the Chechens retreated, leaving the dead behind in the field, Tsaplienko wrote.

The following photographs contain images of the bodies.

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Putin is rushing the offensive in the Donetsk region, and Ukraine should take advantage, writes the Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

“The Russians are not setting conditions for a relaxation of hostilities for the rest of the fall and into the winter but rather are launching a new offensive in Donetsk Oblast,” ISW experts wrote on November 13. The Russian command does not cease fire, which does not give the Russian Armed Forces time to recover and train mobilized Russians. There is no reason to predict that poorly trained, ill-equipped, unmotivated and with low morale Russian reservists will be able to stop Ukrainian troops, the report says.

According to the ISW, Putin is in a hurry to knock down the emotional lift of the Ukrainians after the AFU's capture of Kherson. From a military point of view, Putin is making a mistake, experts warn. Ukraine should take advantage of this by continuing its counteroffensive “in conditions that favor Kyiv rather than Moscow.” In their view, the winter situation will be much more favorable than the “muddy conditions” in which the fighting is now taking place. “Combat is more likely to intensify than to slacken as temperatures drop.» the ISW warned.

Zambian citizen allegedly recruited by Wagner PMC in Russian prison killed in Ukraine

Nathan Nyirenda, a 23-year-old Zambian citizen, who studied nuclear physics in Russia but was sentenced to 9-and-a-half years in prison in 2020 for drug possession, has died in the Donetsk region. Nyirenda's body has already been transported to Rostov-on-Don. The Zambian Foreign Ministry has demanded an explanation of how Nyirenda ended up in the war in Ukraine.

“In view of this very sad development, the Zambian Government has requested the Russian authorities to urgently provide information on the circumstances under which a Zambian citizen, serving a prison sentence in Moscow, could have been recruited to fight in Ukraine and subsequently lose his life,” said a statement by the foreign minister, which was published by journalist Samira Savlani.

Events on the front line

Ukrainian media are reporting on the liberation of Makiivka near Svatovo. The information was also confirmed by the pro-Russian Telegram channel of military correspondent Semyon Pegov.

“Yesterday, in the course of heavy fighting, our troops had to leave the village of Makiivka and withdraw. Today, the enemy continues to press from this direction towards the Kreminna-Svatovo highway. Through the territory of Serebryansky forest, south of Kreminna, the AFU approached the outskirts of the city and attack from the forest, identifying our defenses. Thus, the enemy acts to encircle Kreminna from two directions. As anticipated, the enemy is conducting active offensive operations in our section of the front and apparently pulling up new reserves.”

The video has been geolocated by the GeoConfirmed project.

There have also been reports of explosions in Hola Prystan. According to local residents, it a strike likely hit a Russian ammunition depot outside the city – in the direction of Nova Zburivka. As of 3:53 p.m. on November 14, the explosions continued, and witnesses noted the powerful detonation of shells, according to Ukrainian media reports. Huge clouds of black smoke were seen above the city.

Russian media reported that the Russian army seized the village of Opytne in the Donetsk region, near the long-suffering settlement of Pisky. There are videos of the Russian military moving freely through the settlement.

OSINT analyst Tim Earhart published satellite images depicting the Russian military setting up a new military base in the southern part of the Kherson region near Armiansk. The distance to the nearest Ukrainian-controlled territory is about 70 km – notably, the range of M31 ammunition for the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher (MLRS) is 85 km.

Photos of destroyed Russian equipment in the Kherson region have been circulated on social media. As CIT analysts note, it was mostly destroyed a long time ago – several months prior to the images being taken. Russia's abandoned equipment did not match up to the scale left during the retreat from the Kharkiv region. However, a Grad missile launcher with a full set of rockets was nonetheless found among the abandoned vehicles.

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