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Battlegrounds near Bakhmut, missing draftees, mercenaries from the Central African Republic. What happened on the front line on November 29?

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Fierce fighting continues on outskirts of Bakhmut

The most intense fighting is currently taking place in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. According to reports from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), the settlements of Tabaivka and Berestove have been liberated by the Ukrainian military. The development is significant as these are the last settlements before the road to Svatove.

Intense fighting continues in the vicinity of Bakhmut – mostly on the southern outskirts of the city. A video shot on the streets of Bakhmut by the Ukrainian military was posted online, depicting heavy destruction after several months of shelling.

Ozarianivka appears to have finally fallen under Russian control. The importance of this development lies in the fact that the Siversky Donets - Donbas Canal runs next to Ozarianivka and Kurdiumivka. The canal is close to 15 meters wide, representing a natural barrier. Land crossings in Ozarianivka and Kurdyumivka. Setting up a pontoon crossing in the current conditions is fraught with the risk of coming under fire. The Russian side has claimed the capture of Kurdyumivka.

The so-called “DPR’s” territorial defense headquarters announced in its Telegram channel that a group of “DPR” and “LPR” troops had taken control of two villages, Pershe Travnya and Andriivka, with fire support from the Russian Armed Forces. Earlier, the acting head of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” Denis Pushilin reported on the successes of Russian troops in the Vuhledar direction. According to him, the capture of Vuhledar is to be expected very soon. In addition, according to Pushilin, the Russian army is close to the operational encirclement of Artemivsk, while fighting is already taking place in the center of the city in Marinka.

Boris Rozhin, an expert at the propagandist “Center for Political and Military Journalism”, wrote in his Telegram channel that Russian troops need to attack Vuhledar, as maintaining the current front line creates a tactical disadvantage. Pavlivka is located in a lowland area, and is not very convenient to hold due to shelled communication lines, so the Russian army needs to attack further, Rozhin claimed.

In the south, the recently liberated city of Kherson came under fire. The front line runs along the Dnipro River and will not change in the near future.

Russian troops have also continued to strike the Kupiansk district in the Kharkiv region. Missile strikes hit private homes, garages, and cars, causing several fires. There has been no information about the deaths and casualties so far. Ukrainian pyrotechnics reported eliminated 64 explosive objects during the day. Since the beginning of September, specialists have destroyed more than 44 thousand mines in the area. Humanitarian demining in the region continues.

British intelligence: Russia abandons battalion tactical groups

In the last three months of the war in Ukraine, Russian forces have stopped deploying forces in the form of battalion tactical groups (BTGs), the maneuvering formations that had been used since the Afghan campaign, the British Defense Ministry wrote in a briefing.

The war in Ukraine highlighted several significant shortcomings of the BTGs. At the same time, the decentralized placement of artillery has prevented Russia from making full use of its advantage in the number of weapons.

Before the invasion on February 24, 2022, Russia concentrated between 150,000 and 190,000 men in 120 battalion tactical groups on the Ukrainian borders, including Belarus and Crimea.

Military expert Serhii Hrabsky confirmed to The Insider the British intelligence that few BTG commanders were empowered to use this model flexibly in ways that would be effective for an offensive.

“Battalion tactical groups have shown themselves to be inadequate both offensively and defensively. They were designed to act against scattered and poorly organized rebel groups, which Russia had dealt with in Chechnya, Libya, and Syria, where there were unequal forces, and here, when concentrated infantry action had to be provided with full artillery, BTGs lacked [the artillery] to break through enemy lines. There was no mechanism for bringing them together in larger units.
The second problem was that there were not enough infantry units, or more accurately, motorized rifle units in the BTGs. The BTG consists of 850 to 1,000 men. It is usually a motorized rifle battalion, a howitzer battery of 6 guns and a tank company, that is a battalion of 480 men and units, and a tank company is 10 tanks plus support. They have not justified themselves in these vast expanses. In modern warfare it would be logical, if we think in terms of the Russian military command, to enlarge such units. They are unlikely to reach the division level, as that would be too much. Most likely they will do what Ukraine does – fight in brigades.
There is another problem with the Russians – the Russians have learned how to concentrate artillery in large volumes. They can do this on paper, but any procedure has to be practiced. Not every company commander can be a good battalion chief of staff. What is the difference between a BTG and a brigade? Autonomy. The BTG has a smaller range of autonomy, and even if the commander wants to make a decision, he doesn't have the capability because he is dependent on the senior commander's means. He doesn't technically have the capabilities per battalion that a brigade might have.”

New weapons delivered to Ukraine

The LRU multiple rocket launcher system, provided by France, has arrived in Ukraine, announced Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. “The Ukrainian army is now even more powerful for deterring and destroying the enemy,” he wrote. “This is the visible result of the friendship of Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Emmanuel Macron,” Reznikov added.

This is the fourth example of a 227 mm rocket artillery weapon to be transferred to Ukraine, after the American-made HIMARS, the British M270B1 and the German MARS II.

Slovakia confirmed the transfer of 30 BMP-1s to Ukraine, according to a tweet by Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad. “Glad to confirm that 30 Slovak BMP-1s have been transferred to Ukraine based on the Ringtausch agreement with Germany,” he wrote. The BMP is one of the most sought-after combat vehicles at the front. It is designed to transport military motorized infantry units to the battlefield, increasing their mobility, armament and protection. It can carry up to 8 people and three crew members. The main armament of the BMP-1 is the 2A28 Grom 73 mm automatic artillery gun, which is designed to destroy tanks, self-propelled artillery and other armored vehicles.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said before the November 29 NATO meeting in Bucharest that NATO countries need to urgently increase arms production: “Instead of counting on them and spending months trying to convince them, we need to start production so that we don't become dependent on the whims of third countries that have something in their warehouses but don't want to share it.”

Opening the meeting, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that NATO would be prepared to defend every inch of its territory against invasion. Stoltenberg stressed that the alliance is not involved in the conflict, but its members are giving Ukraine unprecedented support so it can defend itself against Russia.

“We cannot let Putin win, otherwise it will give the green light to other authoritarian leaders, show them that they can achieve their goals through military force. It would make our world even more dangerous for all of us. So it is in our common security interest to support Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO leaders have returned to the idea of supplying Ukraine with MiG-29 and F-16 fighter jets in order to close the skies over the country and induce Moscow to negotiate, said former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis. According to Stavridis, the Ukrainian army has the advantage in ground warfare, but Russia still has the advantage in the air.

Meanwhile, the United States is not yet ready to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, and Washington does not consider it an immediate priority, according to a statement from the Pentagon’s press service. The US is also currently not planning to supply its Patriot systems to Kyiv, but discussions on the subject will continue.

Wagner Group recruits prisoners in Central African Republic, death of Zambian citizen confirmed

The Wagner PMC has started recruitment in prisons in the Central African Republic (CAR), recruiting convicts to participate in military action in other regions, including Ukraine, reported The Daily Beast, citing two senior officers in the CAR. According to these reports, the Wagnerians are recruiting dozens of rebels who have been detained, including for the murder and rape of women and children. According to the officers, many of the recruits are terrorists who controlled much of the CAR for about a decade during the civil war, using violence and intimidation against civilians.

On November 29, the owner of the Wagner PMC, Evgeny Prigozhin, confirmed the death of Zambian citizen Lemehani Nathan Nyirenda, who had taken part in combat in Ukraine as part of the Wagner Group, having been previously recruited from a Russian penal colony. Prigozhin's comments were published by the press service of his “Concord” holding company. The PMC owner claimed that he “remembered the deceased well.”

Contact lost with mobilized soldiers from Serpukhov, previously abandoned by their commanders

A group of mobilized men from Serpukhov, a town near Moscow, who earlier recorded a video message complaining that they had been sent to fight near the village of Makiivka in the Luhansk region (liberated by the AFU in November) without proper uniforms and training, and were being fired upon by their own troops during retreat, have stopped communicating. According to the Telegram channel “We Can Explain” (Mozhem Objansit’), relatives have not been able to contact the men for several days.

«Vanya (name changed) used to call us every day in the morning, but we haven't received any calls since. But during our last conversation, he told us that he is still at the front together with the other soldiers,” an acquaintance of one of the draftees told the channel. “So far, we do not know anything really, we’re waiting to see what happens next,” commented another soldier’s father.

A video depicting volunteers who allegedly drove to the mobilized to give them humanitarian aid was circulated on social media. There was no more news about the unit from the Moscow region following the publication of the video.

According to the latest reports, the surviving servicemen were stationed in a military camp in Baranikivka in the Luhansk region. The mobilized were moved into a destroyed house and “did not know what to do.” The building had no electricity or windows, and the men had run out of food rations.

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