Day 299 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Massed Night Attack with Drones over Kyiv

World » UKRAINE | December 19, 2022, Monday // 12:00
Bulgaria: Day 299 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Massed Night Attack with Drones over Kyiv @SESU_UA

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Former CIA agent in Moscow: The war in Ukraine gave the Western services a chance for informants in the Kremlin

"The Russian invasion of Ukraine created good conditions for gaining informants among the Kremlin elites," the author of spy novels and former officer of the Directorate of CIA Operations in Russia, Alex Finley, told the Polish telegraph agency PAP. The additional conditions, as the agent emphasizes, are the sanctions against the oligarchs, who create "cracks in the foundations of the system".

In the shadow of the Ukrainian war, there are hidden confrontations between the Western and Russian intelligence services. Just as Russian aggression has weakened Russia's military position, Moscow has also suffered losses in the intelligence war. Proof of this was the recent series of arrests of undercover Russian intelligence spies in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the United States.

"Such failures are, of course, a great loss to any service. Not only that a long-term investment is lost, but the entire network operating in a country is always disrupted. In addition to obtaining information, it can also play an auxiliary role in the transmission of documents, money", explains Finley, who has worked in West Africa, Europe and Russia.

According to Alex Finley's assessment, Russian aggression provides additional chances for Western intelligence to exploit Russian weaknesses.

"It's no secret that since the beginning of the war, the CIA has declared itself open to cooperation. In situations like this, you're always looking for people who will go to the other side - whether it's someone high up, whether it's someone doing it publicly, or someone who's being told, OK, stay put now, help us, and we'll help you we get out when it's safe," Finley points out.

The former agent emphasizes that the best conditions for intelligence are when a large number of disaffected people appear. And the war in Ukraine gave many in the Kremlin and in the services reasons for discontent - whether because of moral resistance, loss of position or income, or because of the corruption that left the Russian army unprepared for war.

Absolutely. If you are in intelligence, you will want to take advantage of this, because there is no lack of angry people, even if they are guided by different motives", commented the expert.

According to her, the Russian aggression had a positive influence on the change of the West's attitude towards Russia, motivating it to take more decisive actions and treat the dangers coming from Moscow more seriously.

"In recent years, we have seen many cases where Russian operations were conducted quite sloppily, which is why they could easily be attributed to the Russians - as in the attempts to poison the Skripal family and the Navalny family. I think it happened because the Russians were used to getting away dry and didn't need to pay much attention to covering their tracks. Now everything is in our hands, it depends on us whether we will finally seek responsibility from Russia", says Finley.

According to the former CIA officer, one of the most important responses of the US and the West to Russian aggression is the imposition of individual sanctions against the oligarchs and confiscation of their assets.

Going after their assets is a very good idea because of the way Putin's Russia is structured. These are the people closest to Putin, and if anyone can influence or destabilize this system, it's them. These people supported this system because they benefited from it and thanks to it they could spend their free time on yachts in Sardinia or Monaco. Now that opportunity is being taken away from them," notes Finley.

"This does not mean that tomorrow they will overthrow Putin or that there will be a palace coup, but at least it destabilizes this system. There are cracks in its foundations," adds the former agent.

Massed night attack with drones over Kyiv, there are casualties

Kyiv was subjected to a nighttime attack by drones. This was announced by the mayor of the city Vitaliy Klitschko, quoted by UNIAN. The Ukrainian capital was attacked with the Iranian "Shahed".

"Several explosions thundered over the Solomensky and Shevchensky districts," he noted and specified that the rescue services were working in places and detailed information would be given later.

According to the Kyiv City Military Administration, during the night attack on the city, about 15 out of 20 enemy drones were shot down. A critical infrastructure facility is affected.

"Unfortunately, there is an object affected by the critical infrastructure. The emergency services are liquidating the consequences. The information about victims and injured is being specified," noted the head of the services Sergey Popko.

Later, the head of the Kyiv regional military administration, Alexei Kuleba, announced that as a result of the night drone attack, private homes were also damaged.

According to preliminary information, two people were injured and are currently under medical observation.

"All services are in place. We are working on liquidating the consequences of the strikes," Kuleba added.

Last night, during his traditional video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that protecting Ukraine's borders is a "constant priority" and that his country is ready for all possible scenarios with Russia and its ally Belarus, Reuters reported.

"The protection of our border with both Russia and Belarus is our constant priority," Zelensky said in his nightly video address. "We are preparing for all possible defense scenarios," he added.

His comments come on the eve of a visit to Belarus by Russian President Vladimir Putin amid discussions of a possible new offensive by Moscow and speculation that it could come from Belarus, the agency noted.

In his address, Zelensky made a new appeal to Western countries to provide Ukraine with effective air defense. He also said his forces were holding the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where some of the fiercest fighting was taking place.

The president announced that electricity has been restored to three million more Ukrainians following the latest Russian attacks on infrastructure, bringing the total number of citizens with power restored to nine million in the past two days.

"The electricity supply was restored for another three million Ukrainians. Plus six million yesterday. This means that after the terrorist attacks on Friday, we already have a result for over nine million people," indicated the Ukrainian president.

Russia fired multiple missiles at Ukraine's energy grid on Friday, killing at least three people and damaging nine energy facilities.

Heat supply in Kyiv has been fully restored

After two days of cold weather, the heat supply in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, has been fully restored. Mayor Vitaly Klitschko announced.

On Friday, over 70 Russian missiles were fired at Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Once again, much of the country was left without heat, electricity or water.

On Sunday, the degrees in Kyiv were below zero. Meanwhile, Russian state television reports that an important address by President Vladimir Putin is expected today. It is not clear what it will contain.

Putin on his first visit to Belarus in three years

Russian President Vladimir Putin will leave today on a one-day working visit to Minsk to hold talks with Alexander Lukashenko.

The two leaders maintain regular contact, including face-to-face and by phone. In the past three years, all of their full-fledged bilateral talks have taken place in Russia. The presidents have also communicated at high-level meetings in other countries, but mostly briefly or at general multilateral meetings.

Putin will come to Belarus for the first time since June 2019. During his previous visit, the Russian head of state attended the boxing and gymnastics competitions within the second European Games, met with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach and talked with athletes.

According to the press service of the Kremlin, during the talks in Minsk, key issues for the further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance with an emphasis on integration interaction within the framework of the Union State, as well as current issues of the international and regional agenda will be discussed row

The Russian leader's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said the conversation would touch on "the entire palette of bilateral relations," including trade and economic cooperation. According to information from Minsk, the topics include the implementation of allied programs and joint cooperation projects with an emphasis on import substitution. Cooperation in the energy sector is also on the agenda.

A few days earlier, the President of Belarus held a meeting dedicated to Belarusian-Russian cooperation. During it, Lukashenko emphasized that economic issues will occupy a central place in the negotiations with his Russian counterpart. According to him, the talks will also focus on the military and political situation surrounding the two countries, issues of the defense industry, security and defense capabilities, TASS reported.

Zelensky did not rule out an attack from Belarus because of Putin's visit to Minsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the defense of Ukraine's borders is a "constant priority" and that his country is ready for all possible scenarios with Russia and its ally Belarus, Reuters reported, quoted by BTA.

"The protection of our border with both Russia and Belarus is our constant priority," Zelensky said in his nightly video address. "We are preparing for all possible defense scenarios," he added.

His comments come on the eve of a visit to Belarus by Russian President Vladimir Putin amid discussions of a possible new offensive by Moscow and speculation that it could come from Belarus, the agency noted.

Britain is sending a new shipment of artillery weapons to Ukraine

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will announce the shipment of a major new artillery package to Ukraine today during a meeting with Scandinavian, Baltic and Dutch counterparts in Riga.

Sunak will arrive in Latvia on Monday for the meeting to discuss with his counterparts from the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) the ongoing efforts to counter Russian aggression in the Nordic and Baltic regions.

Sunak will urge leaders to maintain or exceed 2022 levels of support for Ukraine in 2023, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

He will also announce that the UK will deliver "hundreds of thousands of artillery munitions over the next year under a £250m ($304m) contract which will ensure a steady flow of critical artillery munitions to Ukraine throughout 2023," the statement said.

The UK is leading the way in "providing defense assistance to Ukraine, including sending salvo missile systems and, more recently, 125 anti-aircraft guns."

"Since February, we have also provided more than 100,000 munitions, and the supplies are directly related to the successful operations to recapture territories in Ukraine."

Last month, Sunak visited Kyiv to offer further support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces following the February invasion.

"The UK and our European allies have been in sync in our response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and we remain steadfast in our quest to restore peace in Europe," Sunak said in a statement.

"But to achieve peace we must deter aggression and our joint deployment across the region is vital to ensure we are able to respond to the most serious threats," he added.

President Volodymyr Zelensky will also speak at the JEF meeting, which includes the leaders of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Russia and China will hold joint military exercises

Russia and China will hold joint naval exercises between December 21 and 27, Reuters reported.

The maneuvers will include missile and artillery fire in the East China Sea, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced, as quoted by the Intefax agency.

Kissinger offers peace in Ukraine without the threat of collapse for Russia

The time is near for a negotiated peace in Ukraine to reduce the risk of another devastating world war, but dreams of Russia's collapse could unleash nuclear mayhem”, said America's veteran world diplomat Henry Kissinger. "A peace process must link Ukraine to NATO, whatever that affiliation may be. The alternative to neutrality no longer makes sense," Kissinger wrote in Spectator magazine in an article titled "How to Avoid Another World War."

Kissinger said he proposed a cease-fire in May that would see Russia withdraw to the front lines before the February 24 invasion, but Crimea would be subject to "negotiations." The 99-year-old diplomat suggested that if a return to the 2014 status quo proved impossible, then internationally monitored referendums in territories claimed by Russia could be an option.

The doyen of global diplomacy warned that the desire to render Russia "impotent" or even seek its collapse could unleash chaos. "The collapse of Russia or the destruction of its ability to make strategic policy could turn its territory spanning 11 time zones into a contested vacuum," Kissinger predicted.

"Its rival societies may decide to resolve their disputes through violence. Other countries may seek to extend their claims by force. All these dangers would be compounded by the presence of thousands of nuclear weapons, making Russia one of the two largest nuclear powers in the world," Kissinger warned.

"Kissinger has not understood anything yet": Ukraine ruled out negotiations with Russia

Kyiv rejected the formula proposed by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for settling the conflict in Ukraine, Reuters reported, quoted by BTA.

"Mr. Kissinger still has not understood anything. Neither about the nature of the war, nor about its consequences for international relations," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on the Telegram social network. "In fact, the recipe that the former secretary of state offers, but is afraid to say out loud, is simple: appease the aggressor by sacrificing parts of Ukraine and obtaining guarantees of non-aggression against other Eastern European countries."

He added that "all supporters of simple solutions should remember the following obvious thing: any deal with the devil - a bad peace at the expense of Ukrainian lands - will be a victory for Putin and a recipe for success for autocrats around the world."

What Kissinger proposes

In his article for Spectator magazine, Kissinger recalled the formula he proposed in May for a ceasefire in Ukraine, which would see the Russian army return to its pre-invasion positions on February 24 and Crimea be subject to "negotiations".

Kissinger, it seems, also has in mind the possibility of the so-called people's republics declared by separatists in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014 and declared annexed by Russia to eventually join Moscow, but with legitimate referendums, not the unrecognized ones of the West and Ukraine. "Referenda on self-determination under international control could be implemented, especially in troubled territories that have repeatedly passed from one hand to another over the centuries."

"The goal of the peace process would have two key elements: to assert the freedom of Ukraine and to define a new international structure, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Ultimately, Russia must find a place in this order," he points out, but gives to understand that in this system Ukraine cannot be neutral. The possibility of Kyiv becoming part of NATO was among the main arguments Moscow cited as security concerns as it massed troops near the country, both last spring and again last fall and winter, before it invaded.

Ukraine acquired one of the largest and most effective ground armies in Europe, equipped by the US and its allies. The peace process must definitely connect Ukraine with NATO. The neutrality alternative no longer makes sense, especially since Finland and Sweden decided to join the alliance”, said Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State

He also disagreed with the idea that there should be an outcome where Russia is crippled by the war, including because of the risk of a dangerous power vacuum if its ability to conduct strategic policy collapses or is destroyed. "For all its propensity for violence, Russia has made a decisive contribution to world equilibrium and the balance of power for more than half a millennium. Its historical role should not be downplayed."

USA: Russia is not serious enough yet

The press secretary of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, for his part, stated that Moscow will read the article of the American diplomat with interest. "Kissinger's talent, experience and expertise are always in demand. They are especially in demand in such acute situations," Peskov stressed, quoted by TASS.

In an interview yesterday, CIA Director William Burns said that while most conflicts end in negotiations, the CIA's assessment is that Russia is not yet serious enough to begin real negotiations to end the war.

A day earlier, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that according to the White House, the moment to start peace talks on Ukraine has not yet come.

At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the war in Ukraine may take a long time, but it will "end at the negotiating table." Any decision must ensure "the victory of Ukraine as a sovereign, independent state," Stoltenberg stressed.


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