November 14, 2022

Sitrep for November 12–14 (as of 15:00)

Video recording of Yevgeny Nuzhin’s murder

Convict Yevgeny Nuzhin began serving his 20-year sentence for murder and intentional damage to other people's property in 2002, and was later given an additional four years for an escape attempt. Since he was a serviceman of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, he served his sentence in a special penal colony for former law enforcement officials. On his VKontakte social network account (which he accessed illegally), he published jingoistic posts about the war with Ukraine in 2015 and 2022.

In the summer of 2022, he was apparently recruited by the Wagner group. Most likely, he entered it voluntarily, hoping that after six months of hostilities he would be released (as Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, handler of the Wagner PMC, promised in his speeches to convicts).

In early September, under unknown circumstances, Yevgeny Nuzhin was captured by the Ukrainians (he did not participate in the “I want to live” project set up by Ukraine to encourage voluntary surrender). In Ukrainian captivity, he gave several interviews to Ukrainian journalists, one of which received more than 8 million views on YouTube. In the interview he stated that in fact war was bad, and he wanted to fight for Ukraine.

On November 12-13, a video began to circulate on the Internet, showing Yevgeny Nuzhin in a basement: he introduces himself, says that on September 4 he surrendered, was going to fight on the side of Ukraine and was abducted on November 11 while walking around Kyiv. After that he gets killed.

At the time of writing, there was no official reaction from the Ukrainian side.

Later, information appeared that an unofficial exchange of prisoners of war had taken place, which, according to some sources, was carried out by the Wagner group.

They train recruited convicts in the same facility that some of the Ukrainian prisoners of war are kept, so they had the technical ability to make such an exchange. According to Vladimir Osechkin from the Russian GULAGU.net (“No to Gulag!”) human rights project, it was Nuzhin who was the main target of the exchange on the special instructions of Evgeniy Prigozhin, who had previously stated that in the Wagner group all those who refuse to fight are equated to deserters and are subject to execution.

Whether Nuzhin agreed to the exchange is unknown.

Anastasia Kashevarova, a pro-Russian journalist, confirms that an exchange of prisoners of war took place with the Wagner group, which has its own exchange fund, while they try not to show the faces of their mercenaries.

Prigozhin himself commented on the video and indirectly confirmed its validity.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also commented on the whole situation, he said “it’s none of our business”.

There are different opinions around the world as to whether mercenaries should be classified as combatants and whether they should be considered prisoners of war. Note that the Geneva Convention does not apply to mercenaries, which, in fact, is what the fighters of the Wagner group are; however, their treatment is regulated by other laws, including the local ones. If we consider that the guarantees of the Geneva convention apply only to the regular military personnel and do not apply to mercenaries, in the same way they would not apply to Ukrainian civil servants captured by Russian forces.

It is possible that this video will increase Russian servicemen's fears about what it may mean to be taken prisoner in Ukraine. This is significant because even though the mobilized do not represent a serious force, they have hindered Ukrainian progress in the Svatove direction for almost a month.

According to Ilya Ponomarev [a former Russian parliamentarian living in exile in Ukraine], Yevgeny Nuzhin did not pass a polygraph test necessary to get into the pro-Ukraine Freedom of Russia Legion. Nuzhin was revealed to be a double agent and exchanged. We find this version absurd, and the very existence of the Legion is questionable.

In Kherson and nearby, Ukrainian roadblocks have been set up, 200 police officers are on duty, and mine-clearing works are ongoing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Kherson. The Kremlin declined to comment on the Ukrainian President's visit to the territory that Russia considers its own.

According to Zelensky, the Russian army committed the same atrocities in the Kherson region as in other regions. To date, investigators have documented 400 war crimes, and the bodies of murdered civilians and soldiers continue to be discovered.

The New York Times writes that Kherson was the center of an ambitious Kremlin campaign to assimilate Ukrainians and eradicate Ukrainian identity, but these efforts failed. Ukrainian songs were banned in Kherson, and speaking Ukrainian could lead to arrest.

Ukrposhta (Ukraine's postal operator) will open its first five offices in Kherson as soon as the buildings are demined. Ukrposhta' has already opened branches in many settlements of the Kherson region.

The situation on the frontline

Ukrainian forces are claiming the liberation of Makiivka near Svatove; there is no visual confirmation yet.

Russian forces claim to have seized the village of Opytne near Donetsk, and there is video footage of them moving quite freely through the settlement.

There is also a video from Pavlivka in the Donetsk region with Russian marines geolocated on the southeastern outskirts, the date of filming is unknown.

On November 14, Russia’s Ministry of Defense stated that, as a result of prolonged fighting, the settlement of Pavlivka had completely come under Russian control.

The Kinburn Spit, which is part of the Mykolaiv region, is still occupied. Land access there is only possible from the left bank of the Dnipro. According to the head of the press center of the Ukrainian Operational Command "South" Natalya Humenyuk, the Kinburn Spit is an objective for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and they are performing "combat activities" about it.

On November 12, Russian forces attacked the city of Zaporizhzhia with what is claimed to be an Iskander-K missile with a cluster warhead. Residents of one of the districts were temporarily evacuated until the area was cleared of unexploded munitions.

Satellite images have emerged showing that Russian forces have set up a new military base in the southern part of the Kherson region, near Armyansk. The base is located 70 kilometers from the closest Ukrainian-controlled territory, and, apparently, Russians believe that it is relatively safe.

A video has been published with the current state of the Antonivskyi Road Bridge, several collapsed spans and sunken barges are visible.

Evidence emerges of destroyed Russian equipment in the Kherson region. It is noticeable though that it was mostly destroyed a few months ago. The number of abandoned vehicles can’t match the abundance of the Kharkiv operation spoils.

Nevertheless, the Ukrainian forces have, for example, captured a fully loaded Grad MLRS.

Ukraine and the US will build a small modular nuclear reactor to help solve the energy supply problems in Ukraine.

Conscripts undergoing training in the Patriot park have been involved in a riot. They complain of being undersupplied, of lack of medical support, and of lack of normal training. During one of the arguments, one of the mobilized soldiers cursed at an officer and shoved him. Reportedly, the soldier has been threatened with criminal prosecution. Some pro-Russian Telegram channels correctly note that frequent repetition of such situations would lead to the mobilized soldiers choosing their own commanders from their own ranks once they realize that their assigned officers are unfit to lead them. 

The head of Wagner Group Evgeny Prigozhin requested that the Russian Prosecutor General’s office and the Federal Security Service investigate the St. Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Beglov for treason.