Day 624: HIMARS strike kills senior Russian officers in occupied Skadovsk

A HIMARS strike kills high-ranking Russian officers in Russian-occupied Skadovsk. The European Parliament calls for tougher sanctions enforcement on Russia. Ukrainian human rights activist, Maksym Butkevych disappears in Russia’s prison system.

HIMARS strike kills high-ranking Russian officers in Skadovsk

Senior Russian officers were killed in a Ukrainian HIMARS missile attack on Skadovsk in the Russian-occupied part of Kherson region on Thursday morning.

Ukraine’s National Resistance Center said that at around 9:30 a.m., two powerful explosions rocked Skadovsk. The strike hit a temporary deployment point of the Russian FSB security service, the National Resistance Center said, citing unconfirmed reports. Emergency services were deployed to the site, it added. 

Advisor to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko said the strike hit near a former farm building, where Gagarin street crosses Portova street. “Access to the scene is blocked, people can’t approach the site. At least 15 people were wounded and five others killed,” Andryushchenko said.

European Parliament calls for tougher sanctions enforcement on Russia 

In a resolution passed on Thursday, November 8, the European Parliament urges EU members to tighten up sanctions enforcement on Russia. 

EU lawmakers voice an alarm over existing loopholes in the EU’s sanctions regime against Russia. The European Parliament is “concerned about the lack of proper enforcement and attempts to undermine the effort to strategically weaken the Russian economic and industrial base, and hindering the country’s ability to wage war.” The EU should also explore “legal avenues allowing for the confiscation of frozen Russian assets and for their use for the reconstruction of Ukraine,” the resolution says.

The EU diamond sanctions will be part of the bloc’s 12th package of sanctions against Russia to be released next week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier said.

The European Union is weighing a new round of restrictions that would hit some EUR five billion (USD 5.3 billion) in trade with Russia as part of a sanctions package targeting Moscow for its war against Ukraine, Bloomberg said.

Ukrainian human rights activist Maksym Butkevych disappears in Russia’s prison system

Maksym Butkevych, Ukrainian human rights defender, former BBC journalist and soldier with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, has disappeared within the Russian prison system.

His exact whereabouts have been unknown since late August 2023, his lawyer and parents said. Letters and packages sent to him to a detention center in Luhansk were returned. 

His lawyer, Aleksandr Fedulov left Russia to avoid detention. He is the only one who was able to meet with Butkevych in prison. Fedulov is one of Alexey Navalny’s legal advisers.

In summer 2022, Butkevych who volunteered to enlist in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and was fighting in eastern Ukraine, was taken captive by the Russians. His parents have only seen him a few times on videos released by Russian media while he was in captivity. 

In August 2023, he was pictured by Mediazona at an appeal hearing in a Moscow court. He spoke by video link from a Luhansk pre-trial detention center. “He has lost a few dozen kilograms. His front tooth was missing. Responding to a question if he was tortured, he said ‘not anymore’,” Maksym’s mother, Yevhenia Butkevych said. 

After a “court” in Russian-occupied part of Luhansk region “sentenced” him to 13 years of imprisonment in March 2023, Maksym’s family and friends hoped there was a possibility that he could be swapped. Ukrainian war prisoners are sometimes exchanged after a court issues a judgement. 

But it didn’t happen. In August 2023, a court in Moscow upheld the sentence. Since then, his whereabouts have been unknown.

Western Balkans and Ukraine: a collective pursuit of Euro-Atlantic goals. Ukraine in Flames #531

The grant of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova by the EU in 2022 marked a significant milestone for both nations and the European Union. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to recognize that achieving this status is just the initial symbolic step on the path to full membership. The enlargement process in the Western Balkans has been characterized by a painfully slow pace. Out of the seven countries that embarked on the EU accession journey in 2001, only Croatia successfully joined in 2013, and progress in the process has effectively stagnated. Watch Ukraine in flames #531 to find out about the shared Euro-Atlantic path of Ukraine and Western Baltics, and what lessons can Ukraine learn from the process of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. 


  • Volodymyr Solovian, Head of Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group, UCMC
  • Kateryna Shymkevych, Head of the Analytical Center for Balkan Studies