Russia blames Kyiv for strikes at air bases; Zelensky meets troops in eastern Donbas

Russia blames Kyiv for strikes at air bases; Zelensky meets troops in eastern Donbas
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, Minister of South Korea’s state arms procurement agency Eom Donghwan and Polish President Andrzej Duda look at tanks during the acceptance of the first South Korean K2 battle tanks and South Korean K9 howitzerson, 6 December 2022, at the the Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia. (Photo: Mateusz Slodkowski / AFP)

The Kremlin accused Ukraine of carrying out strikes that were the deepest inside Russian territory since the war started, as authorities reported another drone attack on an airfield closer to the border.

An oil storage tank caught fire after a drone strike at an airfield in the Kursk region, Russia’s state-run Tass news service reported, citing regional Governor Roman Starovoyt on Telegram. Ukraine has never officially claimed responsibility for any attacks that have happened on Russian soil. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met troops in the eastern Donbas region, including the city of Slovyansk, and visited wounded soldiers in Kharkiv, to mark the nation’s Armed Forces Day.

“The combat zone has become larger, the struggle is more difficult, and the price is higher,” he said. “But there is something that remains unchanged and constant — your courage, your endurance, your will.”

Key developments

On the ground

Russian forces resumed strikes on the recently liberated southern city of Kherson, further damaging infrastructure, said the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. One person was killed. Kremlin forces targeted the suburbs around the city of Zaporizhzhia with missiles overnight, damaging infrastructure and residential buildings, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said. The Nikopol district in the central Dnipropetrovsk region was shelled, according to local authorities, while Russian troops continued an offensive around Bakhmut and Avdiyivka.

Ukraine’s reserves exceed pre-war level, says central bank

Ukraine’s foreign currency and gold reserves surpassed the pre-war level to approach $28-billion as of 1 December, the central bank said on its website. The boost was the result of an inflow of foreign aid, lower net sales of foreign currency through market interventions and more moderate debt payments last month, it said.

Ukraine received more than $4.6-billion in foreign aid in November, including more than $2.5-billion from the European Union and $1.5-billion from the US. The current reserve level covers about 3.5 months of imports.

Ukraine has spent more than $30bn on military

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said his government has spent 1.13-trillion hryvnia ($30.6-billion) on military and security needs since the war began in February. He told a Cabinet meeting in Kyiv that the bill included salaries of 770 billion hryvnia and expenditures on equipment and weaponry purchases, including repairs, worth 176-billion hryvnia.

The overall sum is equal to more than a decade of defence spending before the war, with another 300-billion hryvnia earmarked for equipment purchases next year, the premier said. 




Russia mulls over setting an oil price floor in response to G7 cap

Russia is considering setting a price floor for its international oil sales as a response to a cap imposed by the Group of Seven. Authorities in Moscow are weighing either imposing a fixed price for the nation’s barrels, or stipulating maximum discounts to international benchmarks at which they can be sold, according to two officials familiar with the plan.

There’s no visibility yet about what the precise level might be, and if it materialises traders will be focused on whether it’s above the cap level, or comfortably below. The level would be important because companies that want to access industry-standard insurance and other key G7 services can only do so if they pay $60 a barrel or less. Greek oil tankers would also be off-limits for above-cap cargo purchases.

Ukraine’s foreign minister slams India’s purchase of Russian oil  

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed India’s purchases of cheap Russian oil as “morally inappropriate”.

“The opportunity for India to buy Russian oil at a cheap price comes from the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from Russian aggression and dying every day,” Kuleba told India’s New Delhi Television news channel. “It is not enough to point fingers at the European Union and say, ‘Oh, they are doing the same thing’.”

Russia is running out of missiles, says Ukrainian intelligence chief 

Stockpiles of high-quality missiles in Russia are running out, while the production of new missiles is insufficient, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said in a televised interview.

“They have missiles for several large-scale attacks — and then will totally run out,” he said. China and Iran haven’t helped Moscow replenish its stocks, he said. “As of now, Iran has not delivered a single ballistic missile to the Russian Federation. The same story with China: nothing special, except for household goods,” Budanov said.

Ukraine, Russia exchange 60 prisoners each on Armed Services Day

Ukrainian and Russian authorities conducted an exchange of 60 prisoners of war each on the nation’s Armed Services Day, Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, and Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said in statements.

Yermak identified the returned Ukrainian prisoners as personnel from the military, the national guard and the border service, including 58 men and two women — 15 officers and 45 privates and sergeants. Among them are those who fought in the Russian-captured Black Sea port of Mariupol and were held prisoner in Olenivka in the occupied eastern Donetsk region. Pushilin offered no details.

EU funding held up as Hungary, member states spar over relief  

Some €18-billion in European Union funding for Kyiv was held up in a standoff between member states and Hungary over the fate of billions in funding for Budapest. EU ministers delayed the adoption of a Covid recovery plan for Hungary after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s finance minister said his government would veto the joint EU support for Ukraine, which is struggling to prop up its battered economy.

EU ministers may reconvene as soon as next week, according to a diplomat. 

Ukraine ‘ to receive energy equipment shipments’

High-power generators worth $30-million will be shipped to Ukraine by the US-based Howard G Buffett Foundation, Foreign Minister Kuleba said during a video briefing.

Aid shipments will also include 26 powerful generators from the Netherlands and cables and transformers from Poland. While Ukraine has made progress in obtaining air-defence weapons and munitions in recent weeks, talks with the US on sending advanced tanks and Patriot missile systems were moving much more slowly, Kuleba said.

Ukraine says it will cooperate with Moldova on air defence

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal made the comments on Telegram without elaborating. Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita visited Ukraine on Tuesday, the day after authorities discovered a fallen missile in Moldovan territory.

Kyiv seeks more than 1,000 generators for farmers 

The Ukrainian government is asking other countries and organisations for help buying generators for the agricultural sector, Deputy Minister for Agrarian Policy Markiyan Dmytrasevych said in a statement on the ministry’s website. The country needs 1,125 units, with only 25 confirmed so far, he said.

More blasts hit Russian airfields after Monday’s drones 

The latest incident followed attacks on Monday on military bases in Russia’s Saratov and Ryazan regions that damaged two aircraft and killed three service personnel when drones crashed after being intercepted by air defences, according to the Defence Ministry in Moscow. The airfields are home to strategic aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Air defence spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat, during an online video briefing from Kyiv, didn’t comment on any role by Ukraine in the “mysterious explosions” in Russia. That’s in line with Ukraine’s long-standing approach of neither confirming nor denying attacks on targets inside Russian territory.

Austin condemns latest Russian strikes on Ukraine

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin slammed what he called Russia’s “brutal air attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure” during a conversation with his counterpart in Kyiv, Oleksii Reznikov, according to a readout from the US government. Ukraine’s leader said on Monday that most of a barrage of 70 missiles had been shot down, while Russia accused Ukraine of sending drones to attack two airfields used by Moscow’s long-range bombers.




Russian TV network stripped of licence in Latvia

Russia’s most prominent independent TV channel will lose its operating licence after Latvian regulators cited it for violations in its coverage of the war in Ukraine, but the outlet said it would try to continue to broadcast online.

TV Dozhd triggered a wave of criticism last week when an anchor appeared to advocate sending supplies to Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. The journalist later apologised and was fired. Like several other independent media outlets, Dozhd fled Russia after the start of the war and set up operations in Latvia, a European Union and Nato member that’s become one of Europe’s fiercest critics of the war.

Blinken warns of peace-talk deception

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US remained concerned that Russia might use diplomatic negotiations to end the war in Ukraine as a ruse to improve its tactical position on the battlefield. 

The war was likely to eventually end in diplomacy, Blinken said late on Monday at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, but added that Russia did not seem interested in “meaningful” negotiations that could result in a “durable” peace.

More aid needed ‘very quickly’ 

The US is prepared to assist Ukrainians as they enter “a brutal winter,” according to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who said that additional aid would be required “very quickly.”

Klain said at the WSJ CEO Council that the US would “continue to support the Ukrainians with more weapons and more economic assistance”. DM


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