Day 643 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Forces Breaking Through Defenses near Avdiivka

World » UKRAINE | November 28, 2023, Tuesday // 10:18
Bulgaria: Day 643 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Forces Breaking Through Defenses near Avdiivka

Day 643 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • Politico: Kremlin aims to divert attention from Ukraine by spewing Hamas propaganda
  • The wife of the head of Ukrainian intelligence has been poisoned
  • The Russian army is breaking through the defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Avdiivka
  • The foreign ministers of the NATO countries discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East
  • The bad weather in Odesa region claimed victims
  • Ukraine: 931 Russians die on average per day in the war
  • Wives of mobilized Russians criticized Putin
  • Kadyrov announced that 3,000 more of his fighters are ready to go fight in Ukraine
  • Malta takes over OSCE after Moscow blocks Estonia

Politico: Kremlin aims to divert attention from Ukraine by spewing Hamas propaganda

The war in Israel created an excellent opportunity for Russia to sow division among its Western enemies. Vladimir Putin's disinformation machine would never miss this chance, writes Politico.

Since the start of hostilities on October 7, Kremlin-related Facebook profiles have increased by nearly 400%. In addition, the topic of the crisis in the Middle East already dominates the publications of Russian diplomats, state-backed media and supporters of the Russian president in the West.

Lies spread by Moscow's digital propagandists already include claims that Hamas terrorists are using NATO weapons to attack Israel, and that British instructors have been training Hamas attackers.

The bloody conflict in the Middle East presents a double opportunity for Putin. It allows Russia to foment division in the West through targeted social media activity aimed at dividing supporters of Israel from those of Palestine.

In the past seven weeks, violence, particularly against Jews, has risen sharply and anti-war protests have erupted around the world.

Russia's social media offensive also aims to divert public attention from the war in Ukraine.

"The distraction from Ukraine only benefits Russia. The more the Western public is focused on Israel and Hamas, the less attention it pays to the fact that Congress is about to defund Ukraine's war effort. Coverage elsewhere distracts from Ukraine," said Bret Schafer, head of the Alliance for Democracy's anti-disinformation team.

At the end of October, Hamas leaders visited Moscow in an apparent attempt by Russia to mediate the release of the Israeli hostages. Russia and Hamas have a common ally in Iran - Putin warned that Israeli military actions in Gaza could escalate outside the region.

In the seven weeks since Hamas attacked Israel, Russian Facebook accounts have posted to the network 44,000 times, compared with just 14,000 posts in the seven weeks before the conflict began, according to figures from the Alliance for the Guarantee of Democracies.

Overall, Russian-backed Facebook activity has been shared nearly 400,000 times, a fourfold increase compared to posts published before the conflict began.

The most shared keywords now include many phrases related to the conflict, such as "Hamas" and "Middle East," whereas before the war, Russian state media and diplomatic profiles focused almost exclusively on Ukraine or Putin's role in the world.

The nearly 400 percent increase in posts from accounts linked to the Russian government is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of posts on Facebook about the Middle East conflict by ordinary social media users over the same time period.

But many of the Kremlin-backed profiles — especially those from sanctioned outlets like RT and Sputnik — have enormous reach. All these companies reach millions of followers in Europe, Latin America and Africa, even though the EU has imposed sanctions on their broadcasting and social media operations.

The wife of the head of Ukrainian intelligence has been poisoned

The wife of the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Kyrylo Budanov - Mariana, was poisoned.

This was reported by "Babel" on its Telegram channel, citing its intelligence sources. According to the media, Mariana Budanova was diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning.

"These substances are in no way used in everyday life and military affairs. Their presence may mean a targeted attempt to poison a specific person," said the sources, also quoted by UNIAN.

After a prolonged deterioration of her health condition, Mariana Budanova was hospitalized. She is now completing a course of treatment and will be under observation. An attempted murder is under investigation.

UNIAN sources confirmed the information that Mariana Budanova was a victim of poisoning.

"Unfortunately, yes," the source said.

When asked where Mariana Budanova is being treated - in a hospital in Kyiv or abroad, he answered: "In a hospital in Ukraine."

Mariana Budanova does not use social networks, so little is known about her. In the past, the wife of the head of GUR ran for deputy from Vitali Klitschko's party "UDAR".

Budanov recently stated that his wife lives with him in his office. He noted that his "happiness" is always close at hand.

"Ukrainska Pravda" sources in the security sector claim that Budanov's wife "was most likely poisoned through food."

"She complained of feeling unwell, so tests were carried out which revealed poisoning," they said.

And they added that other GRU employees were also poisoned.

"Since Budanov's wife is small and lightweight, it manifested itself faster in her. Poisoning was confirmed in several other employees: they are simply bigger, they did not notice anything and now they are also being treated," the publication's sources indicated.

The Russian army is breaking through the defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Avdiivka

Russian troops advance in 6 directions in the area of Avdiivka, heavy fighting continues near the Ukrainian-controlled chemical plant and in an industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka.

The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repulsed more than 30 Russian attacks, each at a distance of 3 to 13 km from the city.

He added that Russian troops are advancing in six directions in the Avdiivka area and that heavy fighting continues near the Avdiivka chemical plant in northeastern Avdiivka and in an industrial area southeast of the city.

Russian sources repeated claims that Russian troops had captured the entire industrial zone southeast of the settlement and had reached the southeastern outskirts of the city. Others claim that Ukrainian forces successfully counterattacked near Avdiivka on November 27.

A Russian military blogger noted that Ukrainian forces counterattacked Russian positions in Stepnoe with partial success. There was also a successful counterattack in the area of an industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka.

Despite the difficult weather conditions, both Russian and Ukrainian troops continued ground attacks across Ukraine, albeit at a slightly slower pace due to snow and poor visibility, Ukrainska Pravda noted.

The foreign ministers of the NATO countries discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East

The war in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East will be the main topics that the NATO foreign ministers will discuss today and tomorrow.

Yesterday, the Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, called for the ceasefire in Gaza to be extended, as it would help relieve the people and free the hostages. He called on Iran to rein in what he called its "proxies" after a series of strikes against US forces in Iraq and Syria.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will participate in the first NATO-Ukraine Foreign Ministers' Council tomorrow. Stoltenberg noted that Ukraine is causing huge losses to Russia and has regained 50 percent of the occupied territories. The ministers will also discuss the situation in the Western Balkans.

In this regard, Stoltenberg stated that NATO is considering a permanent increase in its forces in the region in order to preserve peace. The ministers will also discuss the challenges coming from China.

Bulgaria will be represented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel.

The bad weather in Odesa region claimed victims

The number of victims due to bad weather in Odesa region increased to five people, another 19 were injured, announced the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

Media in the country note that the winter conditions also affect the situation on the front, where Ukrainian forces are trying to recapture Ukrainian territories against Russian troops.

Among the most affected by the heavy snowstorm are the central Kyiv region, as well as the southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions. In some places, the snow cover reached two meters. 1,200 people from the rescue services got involved in clearing the snow. 12 highways had to be closed. Thousands of trucks and cars were blocked on the roads. The mayor of Odesa urged the city's residents to stay at home, and authorities warned of water supply disruptions. Over 1,500 villages in 17 regions were left without electricity because of the storm, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his usual address. He emphasized that in the emergency situation, all services were mobilized, and the necessary equipment was provided.

Zelensky also stated that the Ukrainian authorities continue to actively work on the issue of receiving new defense support packages from partner countries. The extreme conditions have changed the pace of combat operations at the front, where tens of thousands of military personnel are stationed, but have not stopped them, experts note. In addition, fears are growing that the Russian army may carry out new airstrikes on the energy grid.

Ukraine: 931 Russians die on average per day in the war

The casualties that Russian troops give in the war with Ukraine are about 931 people per day. By far the deadliest month for Russia was March this year, with an average of 776 casualties per day. At that time, the Russian advance towards Bakhmut reached its peak, Ukrinform reported, citing data from the General Staff of Ukraine.

According to the British Ministry of Defence, although the intelligence cannot verify the methodology used to calculate the total number of killed and wounded, the reported figures are plausible.

"In the past six weeks, Russia appears to have suffered some of its heaviest casualties since the start of the war so far. Many of the casualties are largely the result of the Russian offensive against the town of Avdiivka in the Donbas," the intelligence report said.

In a previous briefing, British intelligence said the unusual movement of Russian air transport this month suggested Russia had most likely moved its S-400 strategic anti-aircraft missile systems from the Polish-Lithuanian enclave of Kaliningrad to compensate for recent losses of the Ukrainian front, recalls Ukrinform, quoted by BTA.

Wives of mobilized Russians criticized Putin

The wives of Russian servicemen who are fighting in Ukraine have seriously criticized President Vladimir Putin and accused him of withholding information about the situation at the front in order to be re-elected next year, DPA reported, quoted by BTA. Angry women called on Putin to bring their men home.

"We will end our protest only after our husbands come home (FOREVER, we are not interested in rotation)," said an open letter distributed on Telegram by the disgruntled women's movement "Path to Home".

The Russian authorities refused to give permission for several demonstrations, among the organizers of which was Path to Home, and this was partly due to the situation surrounding the spread of the coronavirus, DPA noted. It is not clear how many women are members of the organization in question.

"We remember the president's promise that reservists will not be mobilized and that special military operations will be carried out by people who have volunteered for full-time military service," the women's protestors said in a statement.

They point out that instead their husbands have been at the front for 15 months now, and many of them have died.

"The mobilization proved to be a terrible mistake," the statement added.

The women warn that no one is guaranteed not to be mobilized next year.

Last fall, after the Russian military suffered serious setbacks, Putin announced a partial mobilization, breaking his initial promise not to take such a step.

Kadyrov announced that 3,000 more of his fighters are ready to go fight in Ukraine

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Monday that 3,000 more of his fighters are ready to go fight in Ukraine as part of new units of the Russian Defense Ministry and Russian National Guard forces - Akhmat-Russia and Akhmat-Chechnya. , as well as the "Sheikh Mansour" battalion.

"They (the fighters) have the best equipment and modern weapons," Kadyrov said on Telegram in a lengthy post accompanied, as is usual for him, by a staged video. In his words, "the boys are extremely combative and very motivated to achieve results" and "each of them is trained by the best instructors of the Russian University of Special Forces".

They are "the best of the best" deserving "to be the loyal foot soldiers of our incomparable leader Vladimir Putin," said Kadyrov, whose Telegram profile picture features the face of the Russian president, for whom there is an active arrest warrant. by the International Criminal Court.

"To solve the tasks set by our Supreme Commander Vladimir Putin, we will spare neither effort nor means. This position is shared with me by three thousand more worthy Chechen soldiers who started service as part of the new units of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian National Guard," Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov said in May that Chechnya, a federal republic of Russia, had sent more than 26,000 fighters to Ukraine since the start of the war, including 12,000 volunteers, and that at the time 7,000 of them were actively fighting. He spoke of the "growing global threat from the West and its allies" and saw the role of the Chechens as "the first among those who will give them a worthy resistance".

Earlier in November, Kadyrov said a large group of former Russian Wagner mercenaries had also begun training with special forces from Chechnya.

Kadyrov's claims cannot be verified and estimates of Chechen fighters sent to Ukraine vary, Reuters notes. Several Chechen militias fought on Ukraine's side in the war, which began with Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Malta takes over OSCE after Moscow blocks Estonia

The 57 member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) agreed on Monday for Malta to take over the rotating presidency of the organization after Russia blocked Estonia's bid for the post, Reuters reported.

OSCE foreign ministers are meeting on Thursday and Friday in the capital of North Macedonia, which currently holds the rotating presidency, to discuss the chairmanship role and the renewal of the posts of four senior officials of the Vienna-based organization.

"Extraordinary news from Vienna! Tremendous decisions pave the way for consensus on #OSCE2024 chairmanship to be confirmed at #MC30 in #Skopje. Thank you #Malta for your willingness to take on this vital role," North Macedonia Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani wrote on the social platform X.

Western countries often describe the OSCE as a key forum for engaging former Cold War foes the US and Russia.

In recent years, and increasingly since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has used its veto, Reuters writes.

Moscow has for months opposed NATO member Estonia taking over the annual rotating presidency as originally planned. Small, neutral Malta proved acceptable to all countries.

The deal "carries with it a guarantee of another year of functionality and a legitimate chairman," a senior Western diplomat told Reuters.

Russia and its staunch ally Belarus have yet to support the renewal of the mandates of four senior OSCE officials. Among them is the secretary general of the organization and German diplomat Helga Schmid. The four terms expire on December 4 and no alternative candidacies have been proposed.

Novinite is still the only Bulgarian media that publishes a summary of events and highlights related to the conflict, every single day. Our coverage began on day one - 24.02.2022 and will not stop until the war has concluded. Despite the pressure, our independent media will continue to provide its readers with accurate and up-to-date information. Thank you for your support! #stayinformed

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Tags: Avdiivka, Russia, Ukraine, Putin

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