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Difficult situation near Bakhmut, Russia captures half of Marinka, blackouts in Ukraine and Moldova. What’s happening on the front line?

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Developments on the front line

The situation in the vicinity of Bakhmut remains difficult, but the area is still under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), which are being confronted by PMC Wagner mercenaries and Russian army units.

Ukrainian forces continue to advance near Svatove, but muddy terrain and the additional reinforcement of Russian positions have slowed their advance, reported the WarMonitor media project. In a recent video, pro-Russian war correspondent Alexander Kots attempted to convince draftees that the situation near Svatove isn’t that bad – Kots points out that one can even wash his clothes, but “there are problems with drying”:

In the Vuhledar direction, Russian forces have captured half of the strategically important town of Marinka, wrote German journalist Julian Repke. Marinka is a town in the south of the Donetsk region, opening the way to the Vuhledar bulge and the road to Donbas. A video depicting the situation in the city was circulated on social media:

A video that a Russian serviceman recorded for his girlfriend was shared on Telegram channels. In the video, the man talks about his unit going on the offensive on the 31st of November. “Everyone, of course, thinks it's a f*cked up idea, as we're going to march through a field without equipment or support. It's a complete f*cking mess – both the commanders and the situation. If I'd known what was going to happen here, I never would have gone,” he says.

Blackouts in Ukraine and Moldova

Russia has struck the Ukrainian energy grid yet again. All Kyiv-controlled operating nuclear power plants (NPPs) were affected as a result of the November 23 shelling. Power units of the South Ukrainian and Khmelnytskyi NPPs were shut down, and the Rivne nuclear power plant was put in emergency mode. Enerhoatom said that the radiation background at the shutdown nuclear power plants has not changed.

Emergency blackouts were introduced in almost all regions of Ukraine. Kiev is almost completely plunged into darkness, there is no water in the city. The subway works in a limited mode.

Power outages also occurred in the Chernihiv region, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Khmelnytskyi and Lviv. Electric transport stopped running in Kharkiv. The head of Kirovohrad region reported explosions at a critical infrastructure facility. Ukrenerho reported that there will be no light across various locations throughout the country for about a day.

Due to the Russian strikes on Ukraine, half of the territory of Moldova was also left without electricity, which led to a transport collapse in the country’s capital, Chisinau.

“We cannot trust a regime that leaves us in the dark and cold, that deliberately kills people simply to keep other peoples in poverty and humiliation. However difficult it may be now, our only path, the future path of the Republic of Moldova, must remain towards the free world,” commented President Maia Sandu on the blackout.

The following images illustrate the structure of Ukraine's electricity grid and a close-up of the connections through Moldova:

On November 18, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal stated that Russia’s massive missile strikes had disabled nearly half of the country's power grid. In early November, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko warned that the city authorities were preparing for the worst-case winter scenario: a complete absence of electricity, water and heat supply. At the end of October, emergency blackouts were imposed in Ukraine due to massive shelling of the country’s energy infrastructure.

Victims of Russian shelling

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko reported three deaths as a result of Russia’s rocket attacks. A 17-year-old girl was among the dead. Another 11 civilians were wounded, one of them was treated by doctors on the spot, the rest were hospitalized. Altogether, according to Klitschko, 31 rockets flew to Kiev, 21 were able to shoot down. On November 23, Russia fired a total of 70 cruise missiles at Ukraine, 51 of which were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

On the night of November 23, a missile strike in the city of Vilniansk in the Zaporizhzhia region destroyed a hospital maternity ward, killing an infant.

The city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region was shelled at around 07:40 a.m. Russian missiles damaged a nine-story residential building, a clinic and a school. Two people died: a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man, one person was hospitalized, another was treated on the spot.

All in all, multiple explosions were heard in more than 16 Ukrainian cities as a result of Russian missile strikes:

Prisoner exchange

36 Ukrainians have returned home from Russian captivity. Among those freed were soldiers defending Mariupol, who had been at the Azovstal steel plant, and members of Ukraine’s National Guard captured at Chernobyl during the first days of the invasion.

New arms and equipment deliveries

The UK will for the first time supply Ukraine with three Sea King helicopters as part of a military aid package, along with 10,000 artillery shells. Over the past six weeks, Ukrainian crews have received training in Britain – including for search and rescue operations.

A new $400 million aid package to Ukraine was also announced by the United States. It will include the following:

  • ammunition for NASAMS and HIMARS;
  • 150 large-caliber machine guns with thermal imaging sights to combat UAVs (UAS);
  • 200 high-precision 155 mm artillery rounds;
  • 10,000 120 mm mortar rounds;
  • High Velocity Anti-Radar Missiles (HARMs);
  • 150 HMMWVs (Humvees);
  • more than 100 light tactical vehicles;
  • more than 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • more than 200 generators;
  • parts for 105 mm howitzers and other equipment.

Developments on Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline

Vladimir Putin and Uralchem founder Dmitry Mazepin discussed the unblocking of the ammonia pipeline from Togliatti to Odessa on November 23. Mazepin asked Putin to facilitate the unblocking as part of the grain deal to temporarily open and ensure the discharge and transportation of ammonia in Odesa, which can also go to developing countries, including those in Africa. “The parameters and the figures are known, the volumes are clear. The benefits for all participants in this process are also clear,” Putin said.

In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the return of Ukrainian prisoners of war a condition for resuming the transit of Russian fertilizers through the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline. “I am against ammonia supplies from the Russian Federation through our territory. I would only do it in exchange for our prisoners of war. That is what I suggested to the UN,” he said. The Kremlin reacted negatively to the proposal at the time. “Are people and ammonia the same thing?” – Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Russian state-owned agency TASS.

Ammonia is the main ingredient in the production of nitrate fertilizers, and increasing its supply to the world market could lower its prices and ease the risks of a food crisis in several countries.

Ukraine has the only ammonia pipeline, Togliatti-Odesa, whose terminus is the Odesa Portside Plant. Prior to the Russian invasion on February 24, the pipeline was used to export ammonia produced by Russian firm Togliattiazot (owned by Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin) and JSC Minudobreniya (owned by Russian oligarch and Putin confidante Arkady Rotenberg).

On February 24, ammonia shipments via the pipeline stopped. Now, amid Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent threats to terminate the “grain deal,” which unblocked the export of Ukrainian grain, the UN wants to resume exports of Russian ammonia.

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