Sitrep for December 2-5 (as of 2:00 pm)
There was an explosion at the Engels Air Base in the Saratov region of Russia, 2 people were injured. Also, a fuel truck allegedly exploded at the Dyagilevo Air Base in the Ryazan region (as a result, an aircraft was damaged, 3 people were killed and 6 more were injured). These are the air bases where the redeployment of strategic bombers took place, as it was already mentioned in our previous sitreps. According to preliminary data, the attacks were carried out with kamikaze drones, but it is still unknown which ones were used, since these airfields are quite far from the border with Ukraine.
In recent months, it has often been mentioned that Ukraine's state-owned defense holding Ukroboronprom is developing a loitering munition with a range of up to 1000 km. However, we do not rule out the possibility that the kamikaze drones could be launched directly from the territory of Russia by a sabotage group.
The explosion at the Engels airbase was recorded by a CCTV camera. Before the explosion, a whizz, similar to the sound of a flying missile, could be heard. Perhaps it was an air defense missile.
These explosions drew attention to the problem of insufficient air defense of strategically important facilities in the Russian rear. The number of Russian air defense systems is limited, the RuAF have already been taking them from Syria and have been transferring them from other parts of the border. It becomes obvious that the effective closure of the sky over all objects of strategic importance is impossible.
Photographs of people hanged in the Luhansk region have been widely discussed over the past few days. Cardboard plaques with the inscriptions "He passed information to the enemy" or "Traitor of the Luhansk people" are attached to the bodies of the dead. Two of them have visible blood (which confirms that the bodies are real), and all of them have no shoelaces (probably, these people had been imprisoned before their death).
Initially, these photos appeared in rather dubious sources, so it cannot be excluded that they are fake. Besides, they could be photos of murdered convicts recruited by the Wagner Group.
Head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration Serhiy Haidai stated that there had been no verified information on these photos yet.
The situation on the frontline
On Dec. 2, pro-Russian journalist Semyon Pegov from the WarGonzo project reported that a critical situation had developed on the Svatove — Kreminna axis, the AFU military vehicles had reached the outskirts of Chervonopivka, and Ukrainian forces had advanced in the forest area south of Kreminna. However, on the evening of Dec. 3, his TG channel posted just the opposite information: they [Russian forces] allegedly managed to push the enemy back from Chervonopivka and capture the area south of Kreminna. However, no visual evidence was provided. So it cannot be ruled out that the above-mentioned critical situation was invented to report on the successful repulse of an AFU attack.
Fighting continues for Opytne and Vodyane in the Bakhmut direction. It is now the only part of the front where active combat activities are taking place. This may be due to the fact that the Wagner group, which fights relatively independently of the rest of the Russian forces, is acting there.
However, since the withdrawal of Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnipro River, there have been no significant changes to the frontline.
For Russia, capturing Bakhmut is important because then the pro-Russian forces will have the way to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, and then the prospect of capturing the entire Donetsk region will arise. But at the moment, it is very far even from Bakhmut getting encircled.
Ukrainian forces managed to advance in the Kupiansk direction, and now the frontline runs east of the village of Yahidne. The fighting is also taking place for Yahidne itself.
Over the past two weeks, the city of Kherson (not including the rest of the right bank of the Dnipro River) was attacked 169 times, 19 people were killed and 39 were injured.
On December 4, a 23-year-old man was killed in an attack on the Dnipropetrovsk region. This area is also attacked almost daily.
On December 3, a wreckage of a fallen 5B55 anti-aircraft guided missile from an S-300 SAM system with an unexploded warhead was found in the Dnipropetrovsk region. It is impossible to identify whom the missile belongs to.
Head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration Oleh Synehubov reported that on the morning of December 5, according to preliminary data, a woman was killed, roofs of private houses were damaged, and a car caught fire as a result of an attack on civil infrastructure in Kupiansk.
Pro-Russian resources claimed a strike on an allegedly civilian target in Alchevsk. But satellite images show a training ground with trenches and caponiers behind the attacked technical school building. In previous years, separatists or Russian servicemen were placed there.
At the same time, Leonid Pasechnik, head of the so-called LPR, claimed that nine people were killed in the Ukrainian shelling of a dormitory where refugees and builders lived. We do not have any photos from the scene of this incident yet.
Fragments of HARM anti-radar missiles are increasingly being found near Donetsk. They are likely being used to suppress air defense.
Since the problem of electricity supply in Kyiv is becoming more and more acute, residents have to use heating stoves and generators even more intensively to heat their apartments. Unfortunately, it sometimes leads to tragedy.
As reported, a generator blew up in a residential building in Kyiv and started a fire; in some apartments, windows were broken.
Due to the ongoing Russian attacks on Ukraine's power infrastructure more people will be forced to leave the country as winter sets in. According to Miguel Berger, the German Ambassador to the UK, Germany expects a new influx of refugees in the coming weeks.
Siemens has proposed placing a floating power plant near Mykolaiv to help Ukraine solve the problem of power supply.
In an interview with La Repubblica, Rafael Grossi, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated that the withdrawal of Russian weapons from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which Ukraine demands, will be a part of the agreement between Kyiv, Moscow and the Agency.
We do not believe that the ZNPP will be completely transferred under the control of Kyiv, since this obviously contradicts Russia's intent to deprive peaceful Ukrainian citizens of power and heat in the coming cold weather. Probably, as in the case of the first visit of the IAEA commission to the ZNPP, only heavy weapons will be withdrawn, and the forces of the Russian National Guard will remain under the excuse of providing security.
There are also rumors that in exchange for the return of the ZNPP, Ukraine may guarantee that Russian oil and gas will continue being transported through its territory.
In a video released by the Military Naval Forces of the AFU, Ukrainian fighters pick up a Soviet K-51 grenade and claim it contained gas, which caused them to suffocate. This is presented as the use of chemical weapons by Russian forces in the current war.
A well-known expert on chemical weapons Dan Kaszeta posted a Twitter thread explaining that such grenades do not contain chloropicrin at all, as many feared, but CS tear gas.
The Chemical Weapons Convention defines tear gas as a non-lethal chemical weapon (it is almost impossible to kill a person with tear gas in the open air). However, tear gas and other means used by the police against riots are prohibited from being used in an armed conflict. Thus, according to the Convention, the use of tear gas constitutes a war crime. Yet it is incorrect to report this news without specifying that the chemical weapon used by the Russian forces was CS tear gas.
It has already been reported that pro-Russian forces have used K-51 grenades in the past. This happened during the first phase of the war in Ukraine (in 2015) and during the current full-scale invasion.
Photos of the wreckage of a Russian Su-24 bomber jet near Bakhmut have been published. The loss of the jet was not previously reported.
Ukrainian forces downed a Russian Ka-52 helicopter using a medium-range air defense system, presumably a Buk. In our opinion, the helicopter crew made a mistake when they climbed above a safe altitude, making themselves vulnerable.
The Fighterbomber Telegram channel, close to the Russian military aviation, confirms the loss and reports that it was the most efficient crew, whose members were awarded six Orders of Courage for two.
Ukroboronprom published videos showing the process of 122, 152 and 155mm shells production.
Ukrainian servicemen, who have completed their training in the UK, are sent home equipped with everything necessary (including winter uniforms).
The Upper House of the Czech Parliament ratified the bill that allows soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to train at the VVP Libavá training ground, where they will receive the specialties of mechanized units. It is planned to train up to 800 soldiers in 2023.
Two more repaired PzH2000 self-propelled guns were transferred from Lithuania to Ukraine.
US intelligence reports that the rate of utilization of artillery shells and rockets is forcing the Russian authorities to seek military aid from other countries, such as North Korea and Iran.
During the war in Ukraine, Russia fires up to 20,000 artillery rounds a day, and Russian industry does not have time to replenish stocks.
Experts at the Institute for the Study of War believe that neither Russian nor Ukrainian forces will suspend offensive operations in the winter, since this is the optimal time for combat activities involving mechanized units.
We do not entirely agree with this, because we believe that Russia will try to drag out the war and therefore will not conduct active combat activities.
US intelligence also believes that the pace of combat activities in Ukraine will be reduced in the coming months.
Such statements are disturbing, since the USA is the main supplier of military aid to Ukraine. Given the fact that there is a demand for the continuation of combat activities and the liberation of the occupied territories in Ukraine itself, the only reason why combat activities can slow down is the lack of weapons and ammunition. Therefore, such statements may mean a reduction of military aid.
Ukrainian users write on social networks about the lack of shells and that the gear and vehicles are very worn out. The state of affairs reminds them of the battle for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, when Russian forces had a ten to one firepower advantage over the Ukrainians.
Moscow draft offices started mass mailing of documents with threats of prosecution. Such notifications come, among other things, to people who are older than the draft age and cannot be called up for military service. This is probably happening as part of preparation for the second wave of mobilization.
The authorities of Russia’s republic of Tatarstan commented on the video showing a group of mobilized soldiers opening the gate of their base and leaving, starting a brawl with those who tried to stop them along the way. According to information from the tank school, this video is accompanied by fake news, but in fact the servicemen were going to meet their relatives, were in a hurry and did not have time to check out at the exit.
The Guardian writes that US officials are beginning to support the idea of establishing a special international tribunal that will hold the Russian leadership accountable for the act of aggression.
Ukraine has signed the Rome Statute (an international treaty by which the International Criminal Court was established), but hasn't ratified it, and sent a notice to the International Criminal Court that the country recognizes the Court’s authority within its sovereign territory. After a request to the ICC prosecutor made by full-fledged members of the organization (those countries that ratified the Rome Statute), the court began a criminal investigation of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But the International Criminal Court cannot investigate the crime of aggression (unleashing a war) and hold Russia accountable. Therefore, Ukraine approached the UN with the idea of creating a separate international tribunal to investigate this particular crime.
On December 5, the embargo on Russian oil entered into force.
At the same time, Russia’s Ministry of Finance reports that the Russian budget in November received less than 90.2 billion rubles of oil and gas revenues.
On the issue of "Freedom of Russia Legion” unit
We believe the Freedom of Russia Legion exists in the form of a small unit of Armed Forces of Ukraine which consist of those Russians who left for Ukraine in 2014 and fought in the ranks of the Azov Battalion or the Right Sector’s Ukrainian Volunteer Corps; by now, many of them have already acquired Ukrainian passports. But we consider impossible a situation when any Russian soldier can defect to the Ukrainian side, join this legion and truly fight on the side of Ukraine (rather than dig trenches deep in the rear), since this could lead to new iterations of Aleksey Filippov’s case.
Aleksey Filippov, a Russian, retired marine and SOBR special police officer, arrived in Ukraine in early 2015, expressed his willingness to fight on the side of Ukraine and joined the Right Sector [Ukrainian nationalist organization]. During his “service” in the Volunteer Corps, he provided the so-called DPR with data on the positions and weaponry of the Ukrainian army. He was eventually caught and returned to the territory controlled by Russia.