On the 280th day of the war, Russia has concentrated forces in the Bakhmut direction in the Donetsk region and continues its offensive, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). Russia continues to move personnel and military equipment there in order to man the units that suffered losses. At the same time, over 720 wounded Russian servicemen were taken to hospitals in Donetsk last week, and one of the hospitals in Horlivka was converted into a military hospital, according to the AFU General Staff.
The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the Russian army has occupied Andriivka (south of Bakhmut) and are continuing offensives near the village of Vodiane. According to updated maps from the War Mapper project, there had been no noticeable changes on the front as of November 30.
According to former US Navy unit commander and analyst Chuck Pfarrer, the Russian grouping is trying to gain a foothold on the bank of the Bakhmutka river. Russia is supporting the offensive with aviation. Fighting continues near the village of Spirne near Soledar, DeepState UA analysts report. The official page of the 108th Separate Mountain Assault Battalion, a mountain infantry unit within the 10th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade, published a video of drone strikes against Russian positions. According to DeepState UA, it was filmed south of Spirne.
A video of Chechen soldiers posing at the Bakhmut-1 railway station was published online. This indicates that the front line may go further east than the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut.
The significance of Bakhmut and Avdiivka
There are now two key points for the Russian grouping in Donbas – Bakhmut and Avdiivka, confirmed military expert and AFU reserve colonel Roman Svitan. According to him, Avdiivka is important for the Russians as it is next to Donetsk, and the defense line, which was established back in 2014, runs there, which is difficult to overcome. AFU troops can work from Avdiivka on military facilities throughout Donetsk, including high-precision artillery. That is why it is now important for the Russians to move the front line some 30 kilometers away from the agglomeration, Svitan notes. Russian forces were able to advance near the village of Pisky, and after it was practically wiped out, it became difficult to hold the area.
“Avdiivka is a pretty big town with a large industrial area, there are several enterprises. It’s almost impossible to take Avdiivka, which is now being used by Ukrainian troops, so the Russians are throwing all their forces there. They can’t take it head-on, they’re trying to bypass it from the north and south – from the direction of the village of Pisky. But any advance they make from the north and south is met with flanking blows by our troops. They’re stuck in Avdiivka and are constantly trying to capture it one way or the other.
The second important target for Russia is Bakhmut, which is two to three times larger than Avdiivka and is a powerful fortified area, Svitan continues. According to him, if Russia can’t capture Avdiivka, then it definitely can’t capture Bakhmut.
“It's impossible for them to encircle the city, because from the north Bakhmut is covered by the Siversk grouping, any movement to the north causes side blows from Siversk and Bakhmut. If they start moving from the south, the same blows come from Bakhmut and Druzhkivka. They’re trying to take Bakhmut as behind it there is a water line that gives water to Donetsk from the Siversky Donets [river] and further feeds all of Donbas, where there is no water now. The water line goes behind Bakhmut near the town of Chasov Yar, earlier it took water near Slavyansk and raised it further to Gorlovka and then to Donetsk.
It's impossible to be in Donetsk without water, it's a city of millions. And now they give water there once a week for three hours. That’s why the Russian Federation is hitting these two points. And it’s because of that that Ukrainian troops will never give them up. This is an effective defensive area.”
If Russia doesn’t accomplish anything with Avdiivka and Bakhmut, it’ll have nothing to do in Donbas, the expert believes. Svitan added that Russian troops cannot take Siversk and Vuhledar for the same reason as Avdiivka – the AFU garrisons cover themselves from the sides, so any breakthrough of Russian troops between them causes a double-sided blow, cutting off any movement, forming a pocket and leading to obliteration.
According to the expert, AFU movement has also intensified in the Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia directions, in particular in Orikhove, Huliaipole and Vuhledar.
The current situation in the Luhansk direction. Fighting around Kreminna and west of Zhytlivka
Military analyst DefMon claims that according to satellite images, the Russian military managed to increase the length of fortifications by almost 10 kilometers over the past few days in the Svatove-Kreminna direction. There were also reports of shelling near the village of Pischane, which may indicate that advanced AFU units are approaching the city.
Svitan said that in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrainian troops are also beginning to move from Huliaipole to the south, towards the Sea of Azov, and are approaching the area of the village of Polohy, where Russian troops are already evacuating the occupation administration to Mariupol with medical facilities and hospitals. The AFU is preparing to cross the Dnipro river near Nova Kakhovka, while operational task forces and guerrilla units are operating near the Kinburn Spit and Oleshky. Now it is impossible to move heavy equipment to the area of the spit and it is impossible to launch an offensive, as it will get stuck and be a good target for Russian aviation.
“Helicopters and planes won't chase groups of 3-4 people, and if you send tanks there, aviation will cut them off. There will be a demilitarized zone, and there should be a situation so that the Russians can't pull artillery there, so that they won't shell Ochakiv and Mykolayiv.”
Russia continued shelling Ukrainian territories
On the night of November 30, Russia again shelled the Kharkiv region, reported Oleh Synyehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Civil-Military Administration. According to him, Russia launched missile and artillery strikes in the Kupiansk district, outbuildings caught fire in the Kurylivka community as a result of the shelling, the roofs of two houses were destroyed, there is also a «hit» on the territory of an educational institution. In Kozacha Lopan, Kharkiv district, four apartments in an apartment building were destroyed. There were no casualties or victims.
During the night, Russia also struck a village in Zaporizhzhia district, a gas distribution station was damaged and there was a fire as a result of a missile (likely an S-300) hit. According to Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, the fire was extinguished, but three streets were left without gas. No civilians were injured. Starukh published a video of the aftermath of the strike in his Telegram channel:
The Russian shelling of the town of Bilopiliya in the Sumy region resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy who was outside at the time, OVA head Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said. According to Zhyvytskyi, shells also hit the territory of the local hospital when patients were being admitted there.
“The destruction is extensive. A direct hit on the second floor. The wall there is completely destroyed. The dental and surgical rooms were damaged. Almost all the windows on all four floors are broken. The surgical unit was also destroyed.”
Russian troops also launched two missile strikes on civilian buildings in the village of Kivsharivka in the Kharkiv region and the city of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region, the AFU General Staff said in a morning briefing. In total, Russia shelled Ukrainian positions 35 times with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and carried out 47 air strikes, the General Staff said.
In addition, over the past 24 hours (as of 30 November), Ukrainian army units repelled Russian attacks near the settlements of Stelmakhivka in Luhansk region and Bilohorivka, Bakhmutske, Pervomaiske, Nevelske and Marinka in the Donetsk region. Photos from Soledar in the Bakhmut district are being circulated on social networks. There is no water or light in the city due to shelling.
The AFU General Staff notes that Russian troops are conducting defensive actions in the Novopavlivske and Zaporizhzhia directions. They are also continuing to shell Ukrainian troops with artillery in the Kherson direction, as well as settlements on the right bank of the Dnipro – including the city of Kherson.
“During the day, the occupiers carried out two missile strikes on civilian facilities in the settlement of Kamyshevakha in the Zaporizhzhia region. They carried out 20 airstrikes on positions of our troops, as well as on the settlement of Belohorivka in Zaporizhzhia. In addition, they shelled the city of Kherson with multiple rocket launchers. The threat of enemy missile attacks on energy system facilities and critical infrastructure throughout Ukraine remains.”
Russia tried to disable Ukraine's air defense system
Russia is launching cruise missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads to disable Ukraine's air defense system, Reuters reported, citing a senior US official.
Reuters journalists verified information that originally emerged from British intelligence that Russia removes nuclear warheads from cruise missiles and launches them at targets in Ukraine. According to the British Ministry of Defense, instead of warheads, there was probably ballast as such a missile is capable of causing damage due to kinetic energy and unspent fuel.
A US military spokesman confirmed that Russia was trying to do this to eliminate the impact of the air defense systems used by the Ukrainians. The intensification of Russian missile strikes on Ukraine is designed to deplete air defense supplies, so the US and other countries are focusing on replenishing Ukraine’s air defense weaponry, the Pentagon assured.
At the same time, US Defense Department spokesman Pat Ryder said on November 29 that the US is not yet planning to give Ukraine Patriot surface-to-air missile systems capable of destroying aerial and ballistic targets at distances of 160 km and 50 km.
“We discuss a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine. We regularly consult with Ukraine. We regularly consult with our allies and our partners on what their defense needs are. Air defense continues to be a top priority for DoD and for the international community when it comes to supporting Ukraine. In terms of any type of Patriot battery from the U.S. Right now, we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine. But again, we'll continue to have those discussions. And when and if there's something to announce on that front, we will.”
Ryder explained this by the fact that highly qualified personnel are required to to use the system: “None of these systems are plug-and-play. You can't just show up on the battlefield and start using them,” he added. M1 tanks and advanced fighter aircraft were mentioned in the same vein – modern weaponry comes with a “pretty significant maintenance and sustainment tail,” according to Ryder.
The issue of transferring the Patriot systems to Ukraine has been a topic of active discussion in recent weeks, the BBC notes. Talks intensified after the November incident in Poland, when missiles fell in the village of Przewodowy, 6 kilometers from the border with Ukraine. CNN had recently reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, that the US is still considering sending the missiles to Ukraine, as the country’s air defense is now a “top priority.”
The Insider earlier reported that one of the main issues with Patriot systems is that it is an expensive, technologically complex and sensitive system – especially in regard to its operating and maintenance conditions. One Patriot battery costs an estimated $1 billion and requires 70 skilled personnel to be operational.
A video of a salvo launch of missiles in Ukraine from several HIMARS units, which the US actively supplies to the AFU, was published online.
Russia is running out of Iranian drones and ammunition
Major General Vadim Skibitskyi, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, said in a TV marathon that the Russian Armed Forces use ammunition manufactured this year in their missile strikes. According to Skibitskyi, close to 30% of the missiles from the strategic stockpile remain in storage.
“They are already using the strategic stockpile, because 30% is just the threshold that should always remain with weapons. We can see from the missile debris that is being used that these missiles were produced this year. That shows that right off the assembly line the missiles are going to be used.”
The number of reports on the use of Iranian drones is also decreasing, OSINT journalists note. All in all, Russia was planning to receive 1,800-2,400 aircraft ammunition from Iran, either directly or through licensed assembly.
Reports of shelling of Russian territories
Russian governors in regions bordering Ukraine continue to report shelling. For example, on November 30, the village of Tetkino in the Kursk region’s Glushkovsky district was shelled, according to a Telegram post by governor Roman Starovoit.
“Today the AFU again shelled the village of Tetkino in Glushkovsky district, at least six strikes were recorded. Two direct hits damaged a private home. Fortunately, no one was injured. However, as a result of the shelling, the roof caught fire.”
Starovoit also published a photo of the burning home.
Tanks with diesel fuel caught fire in the Bryansk region’s Surazhsky district. According to preliminary reports, one of the tanks was attacked from a drone. A video of the fire was published by propaganda war correspondent Yuri Kotenok. The blaze was localized and eventually put out.
In turn, the governor of the Bryansk region Alexander Bogomaz reported on the shelling of the village of Suzemka. According to him, the shelling came from territory controlled by the AFU, and as a result, the power supply to the village was disrupted. He did not report on its restoration by the evening of November 30.
In the Belgorod region, the village of Krasnoye in the Shebekinsky district was shelled, wrote governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
“The village of Krasnoye came under shelling by the AFU. There were no casualties. The shell fragments knocked out the windows and cut the roof of three private households. Operational services continue to conduct a door-to-door patrol of the area.”
The day before, intense battles took place in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The AFU General Staff reported that Tabaivka and Berestove, the last settlements before the road to Svatove, had been liberated by Ukrainian forces. There was also intense fighting in the vicinity of Bakhmut.