Day 293: where battle for Bakhmut stands, what war costs Putin

Russia’s gains toward Bakhmut

Def Mon, an open-source intelligence Twitter account that tracks Russia’s war against Ukraine, released a map that shows Russia’s gains between August 31, 2022 and December 11, 2022.

Russia is losing from 50 to 100 soldiers each day in the battle of Bakhmut, and about as many Russian soldiers get wounded in action near the city daily, spokesperson for the Eastern Military Command Serhiy Cherevatyi said on television on December 4.

The area around Bakhmut looks like a set from the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front”, Ukrainian journalist Denys Kazanskyi told Radio NV on December 1.

High density of months-long artillery shelling devastated the area, leaving no buildings or trees. A strap of the land from which the Russians try to stage an offensive is covered with dead bodies, Kazanskyi added.

“[The Russians] are taking huge losses,” commander of the Svoboda battalion Petro Butchenko told Radio NV in late November. “They do not even count their dead. The fields and forested areas ahead of their positions are littered with bodies. As I watched them, they dragged [the body of] their fellow fighter to bury him, pulled his warm sweater off, and wore it right there. Yet each assault team has personnel that employ grenade launchers, machine guns, automatic guns and are more or less willing to perform combat tasks. They have weapons,” Butchenko said.    

Bakhmut’s capture has become a symbolic objective for Russia, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on television. 

The Russian forces had changed six-seven times the deadline they set to capture the city, Syrskyi said. Each time the Ukrainian troops took out the hostile forces and derailed their plans. The Russian forces repeatedly restarted the offensive, changing commanders and soldiers, and increasing the number of troops. But they have advanced no more than five kilometers, he added.

What war costs Putin

The cost of the Russian war in Ukraine will likely continue to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical campaigns worldwide, the Institute for the Study of War said in a report on December 12.

The UK Ministry of Defense reported on December 11 that Putin signed a law allocating over nine trillion rubles (approximately USD 143 billion) for defense, security, and law enforcement for the 2023 budget. That amount is about 8 percent of Russia’s 2021 gross domestic product according to the World Bank. The UK Ministry of Defense assessed that Russia’s defense spending significantly increased and will represent over 30 per cent of Russia’s entire 2023 budget, the report said. 

G7 to provide Ukraine with air defenses, U.S. to send Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine

In a virtual meeting on December 12, the leaders of the Group of Seven pledged to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure. The G7 will continue to coordinate efforts to meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements for military and defense equipment with an immediate focus on providing Ukraine with air defense systems, the statement reads.

The leaders reaffirmed their unwavering support for and solidarity with Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian war of aggression for as long as it takes. They also condemned those who are facilitating Putin’s illegal war.

The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine that could be announced as soon as this week, according to two US officials and a senior administration official, CNN says.

The Pentagon’s plan still needs to be approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before it is sent to US President Joe Biden for his signature. The three officials told CNN that approval is expected.

Once the plans are finalized, the Patriots are expected to ship quickly in the coming days and Ukrainians will be trained to use them at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, officials said.

Ukraine has been asking for the system for months but the logistical challenges of delivering it and operating it are immense. Despite those obstacles, “the reality of what is going on the ground” led the administration to make the decision, the senior administration official told CNN.

It is not clear how many missile launchers will be sent but a typical Patriot battery includes a radar set that detects and tracks targets, computers, power generating equipment, an engagement control station and up to eight launchers, each holding four ready to fire missiles.

Patriot is an advanced long-range air defense system that is highly effective at intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles. It would be the most effective long-range defensive weapons system sent to Ukraine since the invasion.

Ukraine needs help to keep its energy system running

Ukraine requires imports of electricity from the EU worth EUR 800 million, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said. Ukraine needs to deploy up to two GW of power.

The U.S. has shipped the first part of its power equipment aid to Ukraine worth about USD 13 million, Reuters said, quoting unnamed U.S. officials. The first tranche is part of the USD 53 million aid announced last month, after Ukraine said it needed transformers and generators as well as air defense systems. Another source familiar with the matter said two more planeloads of equipment would leave from the United States this week.

UK’s support of Ukraine at war. Ukraine in Flames #278

British MP and recipient of the Ukrainian Order of Merit of the III Class Stewart McDonald, Head of Ukraine Forum at London-based Chatham House Orysia Lutsevych, and international journalist Yehor Brailian will explain the British-Ukrainian relations in 2022 and the similarities between the two countries.