Day 644 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Will Not Make Peace Before Seeing the Results of the US Elections

World » UKRAINE | November 29, 2023, Wednesday // 11:15
Bulgaria: Day 644 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Will Not Make Peace Before Seeing the Results of the US Elections @novinite.com

Day 644 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • Kuleba: There is no stoppage of arms aid to Ukraine from the EU and NATO
  • The war in Ukraine is a turning point in gas consumption in Europe
  • The EU has asked Turkey to stop circumventing sanctions against Russia
  • Russia has attacked western and southern Ukraine with drones and cruise missiles
  • Ukraine repelled 70 attacks in a day
  • Senior US representative: Putin will not make peace in Ukraine before seeing the results of the US elections
  • Brutal trench warfare and immense attrition: the sobering toll in Ukraine
  • Finland closes remaining checkpoint crossing on Russian border


Kuleba: There is no stoppage of arms aid to Ukraine from the EU and NATO

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, said upon entering the NATO headquarters that there is no stoppage of arms aid from the European Union and the Pact.

According to him, the reasons for the delay are "technical".

"The Slovakian hub for the maintenance of heavy weapons will continue to function, as will the contracts between Slovak and Ukrainian companies for the production of weapons," he added.

"We hope that the American Congress will find a solution that is in the best interest of the American people, namely, to support both Israel and Ukraine," Kuleba said, adding: "The best way to avoid sending your soldiers of war is to help the other side fight their own war. Once again I want to emphasize that Ukraine has never wanted US troops on its territory. This is a matter of principle and makes us very different from others. Our deal is very clear - you give us what we need and we fight. We don't ask you to sacrifice your life."

When asked how he would comment on hints that Ukraine would cede territories in return for NATO membership, Kuleba answered:

"These people must propose this to their governments - to give up their territories and their people. And if they do, I am ready to hear their arguments. Otherwise, it is always easy to advise someone to give up and make concessions. First, they have to do it themselves".

Minister Kuleba will participate for the first time in the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine committee at the level of foreign ministers.

The war in Ukraine is a turning point in gas consumption in Europe

The crisis in Ukraine marks a turning point for gas consumption in Europe, which is expected to fall again this year, reports the International Energy Agency, quoted by the Guardian.

This comes at a time of improving efficiency following measures taken by homes and businesses. The IEA report said the continent's advanced economies cut gas consumption by 15% in 2022 after Russia cut off flows following its invasion.

The IEA is a Paris-based intergovernmental organization of 31 countries and 13 associate members that account for 75% of global energy demand. Bulgaria is not a member of it, as it is not part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and this is a requirement for those participating.

Bulgaria is not mentioned in the report except in the table on the progress in the energy intensity of the countries: the only country with a negative result among those considered, the EU and Great Britain. For comparison, the penultimate Malta is over 2%, the EU average is 8%, the Netherlands is first with over 24.

The decrease was 9% already in the first three quarters. According to the IEA, this could lead to a steady decline in gas demand in the coming years, a trend that could also extend to the US given the Joe Biden administration's new $369 billion energy efficiency package.

At the same time, less than half of the reported decline (40%) is the result of the mild winter: most of it is due to a surge in demand for heat pumps and improvements in efficiency.

Such efficiency is also needed to achieve climate goals, notes the report ahead of the COP28 meeting in Dubai. The IAEA perceives the conclusions in the text as a warning about the need for action.

"The world's climate ambitions depend on our ability to make the global energy system much more efficient. If governments are to keep the 1.5 degree target achievable while maintaining energy security, doubling energy efficiency progress this decade is critical," said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of IEA

The EU has asked Turkey to stop circumventing sanctions against Russia

"Turkey must end the circumvention of sanctions against Russia, commit to the Cyprus negotiations within the UN and refrain from illegal drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean and all activities that do not respect the sovereignty of EU member states". This is stated in the presented special report on the relations between the EU and Turkey and the conditions for rapprochement between the two countries. It was announced by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, and the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi.

If Turkey complies with these requirements, Brussels recommends the resumption of high-level bilateral dialogues, which were suspended in 2019. They affect the spheres of economy, energy and transport. Association Council meetings will be resumed, as will the high-level dialogue at ministerial level. The Turkish Foreign Minister will also be invited to informal meetings with his EU counterparts in a Gymnich format. Europe also recommends negotiations on the modernization of the bilateral customs union. The member states of the Union are recommended as a matter of priority to consider the possibility of facilitating the submission of visa applications for Turkish citizens of certain categories - businessmen, students, citizens of the country, members whose families are in the EU. In response, Turkey must first implement effective measures to stop the re-export of goods that are used for hostilities. Despite being a candidate for EU membership and in a customs union with it, Turkey chose not to join the sanctions imposed on Russia. Ankara has little regard for Europe's Common Security and Defense Policy. Financial flows from Turkey to Russia and vice versa are increasing. Several Turkish banks continue to process commercial payments, the report said. There is ample evidence that Turkish territory is being used to divert sanctioned goods to Russia, mostly for military purposes. Their exports from Turkey to Russia increased significantly in the period January-September 2023 compared to the time before the war, the document also said.

Russia has attacked western and southern Ukraine with drones and cruise missiles

Sites in western and southern Ukraine were targeted by Russia's latest drone and cruise missile attack tonight, according to reports from the armed forces of Kyiv and Moscow.

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, a total of 21 Shahed (Iranian-made) drones and three cruise missiles were fired, respectively, at the Khmelnytskyi region in the west and in the southern regions of Ukraine.

An air base is located in Khmelnytskyi region, but Kyiv claims the drones were shot down well before reaching that part of Ukraine. Russia is gradually stepping up its attacks on Ukraine as winter approaches, with launching its most powerful in months on Kyiv over the weekend.

It is not known exactly what the cruise missiles are targeting. However, according to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, four, not three, of them were fired at the "military infrastructure of Ukraine" from the frigate of the Black Sea Fleet.

The message says that targets targeted as a result of an "order" to attack the enemy have been hit; Ukraine claims that two of the missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets.

Video footage of the attack shows a missile-launching ship in the Black Sea. The Ukrainian Navy reported that last night the Russian Navy kept two submarines on combat duty in the Black Sea with a total of eight Kalibr missiles. "The missile threat level is high," the Navy of Ukraine said pn Telegram.

The Black Sea has become a key theater of operations in the 21-month-old war. Ukraine's stepped-up air and naval attacks on Russian military sites there damaged vessels and ship repair plants in the port of Sevastopol, among other targets. Moscow is using the Black Sea Fleet to launch long-range strikes against Ukraine. But for President Vladimir Putin, the waters - which connect to the Mediterranean Sea - are also an important springboard for the use of force in the Middle East, Europe and the West, notes "Reuters".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv's ability to strike warships and limit Russian surveillance in the Black Sea had undermined Russia's military efforts and helped Ukraine secure a sea route for grain exports.

Also this morning, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed information from Moscow City Hall that an "attempted terrorist attack with an aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicle" had been foiled. Earlier, the mayor of the city, Sergey Sobyanin, reported a drone shot down while flying towards Moscow.

Ukraine repelled 70 attacks in a day

The Ukrainian armed forces have repelled more than 70 attacks over the past day, the heaviest being in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka directions, the Ukrainian news agency "Unian" reports.

Ukrainian forces have held their positions on the left bank of the Dnieper and are continuing assault operations south of Bakhmut and an offensive operation in the direction of Melitopol.

"The Russian invaders attacked unsuccessfully in all directions of the front line," said the operational report of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"In the last 24 hours, 87 military clashes took place," the report noted.

In the zone of the Operational-Strategic Group of Forces "Khortitsa" in the Kupiansk direction, the enemy conducted unsuccessful assaults near Sinkovka and Petropavlovka, Kharkiv region, where the army repelled five attacks.

In the Lyman direction, Ukrainian soldiers repelled four attacks near Ternov, Donetsk region.

In the Bakhmut direction, the Russians carried out assaults in the areas of Bogdanovka, Klishchiivka, Andriivka and North Donetsk region. In this area, Ukrainian defenders repelled 16 attacks.

For its part, the Ukrainian defense forces continue assault operations south of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, inflicting losses on the enemy in manpower and equipment and consolidating their positions at the achieved milestones, writes "Unian".

In the Avdiivka direction, the enemy does not give up its attempts to surround Avdiivka, the report says. Ukrainian soldiers firmly hold the defense, inflicting significant losses on the invaders. The enemy's offensive actions south of Novokalinovye, Stepnoe, Avdiivka, Tonenkoe and Pervomaisky in the Donetsk region were unsuccessful, where the defense forces repelled 27 attacks, the summary added.

In the Marinka direction, the Ukrainian defenders repelled 17 enemy attacks.

In the Shakhtar direction, the enemy conducted unsuccessful assault operations southwest of Staromayorski and Vodyanoi, Donetsk region.

At the same time, in the Zaporizhzhia direction, the enemy conducted unsuccessful assaults west of Verbovoi and Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia region. There, the Ukrainian defenders repelled nine enemy attacks.

"The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct an offensive operation in the Melitopol direction, inflicting losses on the occupation forces in manpower and equipment and exhausting the enemy along the entire front line," the report said.

At the same time, in the area of responsibility of the Odesa command unit in the Kherson direction, the defense forces continue to hold their positions on the left bank of the Dnieper, continue to conduct counter-battery combat and fire on the enemy's rear.

Senior US representative: Putin will not make peace in Ukraine before seeing the results of the US elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not make peace in Ukraine until he knows the results of the US election in November 2024, a senior US State Department official said yesterday, amid fears that a possible victory by former President Donald Trump could put end of Western support for Kyiv, reported Reuters.

Trump, who is seeking re-election in 2024 and is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has sharply criticized US support for Kyiv.

A senior official, briefing reporters after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, said the alliance was reaffirming its support for Ukraine, knowing that a peace deal next year was unlikely.

"My expectation is that Putin will not make peace, or at least substantial peace, before he sees the outcome of our election," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the outcome of the meeting.

"This was the context in which all allies expressed strong support for Ukraine at the NATO meeting," the source added, without mentioning Trump by name or saying specifically how the election result would affect support for Ukraine.

US President Democrat Joe Biden has provided massive military aid and other forms of support to Kyiv since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, but additional funding for Ukraine has been delayed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited Trump, who has said he could end the war in 24 hours if re-elected, to Ukraine to get a first-hand look at the scale of the conflict.

Brutal trench warfare and immense attrition: the sobering toll in Ukraine

We're at the end of our strength now, we're all so tired,” says Olena. For hours, she has been fighting with her unit near Avdiivka. The soldiers use their cameras to film themselves returning Russian fire, throwing grenades and hiding from the approaching tanks. Later, their 30-minute video became very popular in Ukraine, according to the German public media ARD.

After five hours of fighting, the soldiers of Olena's unit and of the famous film director Oleh Sentsov, who is now serving in the army, retreat exhausted.

"There is no one to fight anymore, and the enemy is becoming more and more active," says Olena.

The Ukrainian forces are in a very complicated situation. Russia has more drones, more artillery shells and more soldiers attacking from many different points on the front.

Despite the exhaustion, Olena will continue to try to win back the territories occupied by Russia. "This is our land, these are our people, we are obliged to return them home," she said, quoted by ARD.

But Russia is strong and smart - and acts strategically, the servicewoman adds. "Russia does not think about tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, but about the next few years," she emphasizes. Most Western military experts would probably agree with this sentence, summarizes ARD.

Russia has been preparing for a long war for months by acquiring weapons and ammunition from North Korea and Iran. To date, however, too little action has been taken to respond to this strategy. The European Union promised 1 million projectiles, but apparently can deliver only 300,000. On the other hand, in the last four months, North Korea has delivered 1 million projectiles to Russia, according to the data of the South Korean services cited by ARD. "It seems that Europe has not realized the seriousness of the situation," says Colonel Markus Reisner of the Austrian Armed Forces in this regard.

For more than a year now, military experts have been calling on the West to increase its production capacity. Otherwise, it will be years before Western countries can produce enough ammunition and equipment. "With the current system, we simply won't be able to provide what we need," says Colonel Reisner. But significant change is never in sight, he adds.

Meanwhile, more and more new developments are being observed in the war. Special drones with a first-person view, which allow pilots to get within a few meters of the enemy and attack them, are a particularly big threat. "At the moment we are experiencing a literal manhunt," says Markus Reisner in this regard. During the First World War, soldiers could escape into the trenches, which is no longer possible today, the colonel added. "It's hell," he adds. The mass use of drones of this generation also leads to the following problem: many wounded soldiers cannot be taken to hospitals in time, which is why amputations are all too common.

Markus Reisner describes the current mood in European capitals as a painful sobering up. According to him, for too long it was believed that the problem would be solved with a little military aid and thanks to the high morale of the Ukrainian soldiers. "But it doesn't work that way," emphasizes Reisner.

At the same time, fatigue covers the Ukrainian society. As soldiers at the front suffer from exhaustion, mobilization falters and structural problems lead to an increasingly severe shortage of well-trained soldiers. As a result, some units have been without a break at the front for nearly two years.

Olena knows the mining fields in southern Ukraine well. During the Ukrainian counteroffensive, her unit was tasked with advancing on the city of Tokmak. But after long battles and heavy losses, the Ukrainians eventually managed to liberate only a few destroyed villages. "There is no life there anymore. There is not a single tree, not a single fence, not a single house, not a single barn. Death hangs in the air and is spread over the land," says Olena, adding that she will never forget this sight.

Finland closes remaining checkpoint crossing on Russian border

The last operating checkpoint on Finland's Russian border will close on Thursday, completely closing off the NATO (North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation) country's eastern border with Russia for two weeks, CNN has reported.

"Russia is enabling the instrumentalization of people and guiding them to the Finnish border in harsh winter conditions. Finland is determined to put an end to this phenomenon," Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said in a press release on Tuesday.

At midnight on November 30, the Nordic country will close the last checkpoint, remaining closed until December 13, Finland's Ministry of Internal Affairs said in Tuesday's press release.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and Finland's ascension into NATO, there has been an increasing effort by Helsinki to restrict crossings from Russia, according to CNN.

Finland's Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said in the press release that it is necessary to close the entire eastern border with Russia, adding that the decision was taken to "protect Finland's national security against this Russian hybrid operation."

In a post on social media by the Finnish Border Guard, they said, "Finland's goal is to end the illegal entry from Russia."

"Finland takes care of its own border security and the Finnish Border Guard is ready to quickly implement new decisions of the Government," the border guard added.

Finland shares an 830-mile-long border with Russia, one of the few entry points for Russians after many Western countries shut their airspace and borders to Russian planes in response to the Ukraine invasion.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko called the move "irrational" and stated that it would harm Finnish citizens.

"They closed the border, how can we react? Finnish citizens will suffer," said Grushko on the sidelines of the Primakov Readings forum in Moscow.

"We can comment on some rational decisions, then we can look for some kind of logic. But sometimes the decisions are simply irrational," he said, adding that only about 700 migrants during this period tried to cross the Russian-Finnish border.

On November 16, in an effort to stop illegal border crossings, the Finnish government announced it would temporarily close four crossing points along the 820-mile stretch of borderland from this week until February 2024.

Illegal crossings have continued despite the imposed restrictions, Finland's interior ministry said during Tuesday's press release.

"Since the beginning of August, almost 1,000 third-country nationals have arrived in Finland without a visa via the border crossing points at the eastern border. Most of them have applied for asylum in Finland," the ministry said.

"In such very exceptional circumstances, the short-term total closure of the eastern border is a necessary and proportionate measure to put an end to this phenomenon and to limit the serious consequences that it has for national security and public order," the ministry added in the press release.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday accused Russia of using migration as a "tool" to create "pressure" along its border with Finland, CNN has reported.

"We have seen them using energy, we have seen them using cyber attacks, we have seen them using different kinds of clandestine operations to try and undermine our democracies. The fact that Russia is using migration as a tool is now another example of the attempt to put pressure on neighbors," Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said he is "confident that Finland is capable of dealing with" the issue. NATO has not received a request from Finland for support in guarding its borders.

Although he welcomed the move by the European Union's border agency, Frontex, to deploy 50 guards along the Finnish border.

Helsinki closed its border at the end of September 2022, around the time traffic over the frontier intensified as Russians tried to flee President Vladimir Putin's "partial mobilization" of hundreds of thousands of citizens to fight in the war. More than 8,500 Russians crossed the border in one day alone.

The Finnish Border Guard has also begun to construct a border barrier fence earlier this year along some of the border, where crossings are rife, CNN has reported.


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