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Russia prepares for a massive missile strike, shelling of Kherson, fighting in the Bakhmut direction. What's happening on the front line?

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Situation at the front

The Russian military continues daily shelling of Kherson and suburban areas. Ukrainian reconnaissance UAVs show that Russian units are building defensive positions along the left bank of the Dnieper River and the M-14 highway, war correspondent and former US Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer wrote on Twitter.

The Russian Defense Ministry has published footage of the repulsion of attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces near the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant:

It is also reported that the Russians are withdrawing some of their units from Oleshky in the Kherson Region and relocating them to the south.

Fighting continues around Bilohorivka (Luhansk Region). WarMonitor writes that Russian forces are still unsuccessfully attacking the settlement from two directions. Also, according to WarMonitor, a Ukrainian HIMARS hit the railway infrastructure near Ilovaisk (Donetsk Region) this night.

WarMapper publishes a map of Bakhmut, the hottest spot on the front line (Donetsk region), around which fierce fighting is currently under way. It shows high-density residential areas in blue, low-density residential areas in green, industrial areas in yellow, and the current front line in red. The location of the buildings, as well as the river, will affect urban combat if it occurs.

Video of the battle of Bakhmut filmed from the Ukrainian side by a CNN journalist:

Russian units are actively fighting for the village of Vodyane in the Bakhmut direction:

German journalist Julian Röpcke writes that Russian forces hit Ukrainian positions from a T-80 tank in western Vodyane.

The Russian military is taking casualties and draining its own resources during the fighting around Bakhmut, according to a summary by the US-based Institute for the Study of War. According to the analysts, this shows they have failed to learn lessons from previous campaigns focusing on operationally insignificant settlements.

According to military analyst Def Mon, there has been no strengthening of Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk and Bakhmut directions after the liberation of Kherson, and the Ukrainian armed forces are likely concentrating for an attack elsewhere:

WarMapper publishes maps showing the situation with the liberated territories of Ukraine as of early November and early December. In November, the Ukrainian military liberated approximately 3,850 km² of the country's territory. This means that Russian troops now occupy approximately 16.66% of Ukraine's territory. This is approximately 0.64% less than the percentage of the country’s total area at the end of October.

Preparation for a massive strike

Russia appears to be preparing for a new massive missile strike: one of the main military airfields, Engels-2 near Saratov, is on high alert. This is evident from the satellite images acquired by Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs that show almost two dozen of Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers. Fuel tankers, boxes with ammunition and vehicles can also be seen. As military analysts Arda Mevlutoglu and Konrad Muzyka note, ground personnel at the base are very active. In addition, many large military transport aircraft are deployed on the runway. Also visible are X-55 or X-101 cruise missile carriers.

The UK Ministry of Defense's military intelligence believes that the massive strikes that Russia has been carrying out against Ukraine's energy network since October 10 are in line with the concept of a strategic operation to destroy critical targets, which is in line with Russia's military doctrine. Russia envisioned this concept to include the use of long-range missiles to strike critical infrastructure rather than military forces. Its goal is to demoralize the population and eventually force the country's leaders to capitulate, the British agency believes.

British intelligence questions the effectiveness of this strategy because, according to it, Russia has probably already used up most of its suitable missiles, and the physical and psychological effects of the strikes are likely to be less than if they had been launched during the initial phase of the war as the Ukrainians have mobilized.

The shelling of Russia

The head of the Belgorod Region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported another bombardment of the region. According to Gladkov, air defense systems were in operation over Belgorod and the Belgorod district. Also, villages in the Valuiki and Shebekino districts were shelled. Shell fragments damaged several residential buildings, a House of Culture and a kindergarten.

One man was injured as a result of the shelling in the village of Murom; he was taken to the central district hospital with shrapnel wounds, in moderately grave condition, Gladkov wrote. The governor also reported damage to two private houses and a power transmission line.

The footage of air defense operation over Belgorod is published by the Military Informant Z-channel:

Arms deliveries

The USA has signed a $1.2 bn contract to supply six NASAMS SAMs to Ukraine. This is part of the fifth USAI long-term aid package announced in August 2022. Two more NASAMS SAMs, promised as part of USAI's third package in July, have already been delivered in November. The contract must be completed by November 28, 2025.

Earlier, the New York Times wrote that NATO had already transferred weapons to Ukraine worth $40 bn dollars, which roughly corresponds to the annual defense budget of France. The article also said that 20 out of 30 NATO countries had already exhausted their stocks of weapons for Ukraine. A statement to that effect was made by a representative of the alliance, who specified that it applied to smaller countries. The remaining 10 countries can still supply a significant amount of weapons to Ukraine, including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Unofficially, however, the French admit that they cannot supply more weapons to Ukraine, given the state of French arsenals. Paris hopes to compensate for this with non-military assistance by organizing a conference on Ukraine's resilience in December, Politico writes.

In addition to supplies, the Ukrainians have been successfully using trophy equipment; here, for example, is a video of Russian tanks captured in the Svatove-Kreminna area:

Prisoner exchange

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged prisoners in the “50/50” format, according to statements from the Russian Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian presidential office. According to the Russian military ministry, the freed servicemen will be taken to Moscow for treatment and rehabilitation. They have already been provided with the necessary medical and psychological assistance.

The Telegram channel Mash published a video of the released Russians:

The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andrii Yermak, said that as a result of the exchange, defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal, prisoners from Yelenivka and those wounded in action in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia directions had returned home. He published photos of the military servicemen:

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