Day 650 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Threatened Latvia over its Treatment of Ethnic RussiansUkraine | December 5, 2023, Tuesday // 12:36| views
Day 650 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- British Intelligence: The Russians have almost completely taken Marinka
- Stoltenberg: Three NATO countries are against aid to Kyiv, we will continue it
- Ukraine announced that it shot down 10 of a total of 17 Russian drones during attacks last night
- At a secret briefing, Zelensky briefed US senators on the progress of the war
- Putin will visit the UAE and Saudi Arabia tomorrow, and on Thursday he will have a meeting in Russia with the Iranian president
- EU imports of nuclear fuel and services from Russia increased in 2023 as well.
- Putin to Latvia: Don't treat Russians in the country like pigs
British Intelligence: The Russians have almost completely taken Marinka
The Russian occupiers are slowly advancing through the ruins of Marinka, and the city in Donetsk Oblast is almost under their control. This is according to UK intelligence analysts.
They stress that the current Russian operations against Marinka are part of an autumn offensive aimed at extending control over the rest of Donetsk Oblast
In this regard, intelligence noted that the Russians currently control most of the urban part of the city, while small areas on the western outskirts remain under the control of the VSU.
British intelligence recalls that Marinka has been a front-line town since 2014. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 9,000 people lived there. However, the city is now completely destroyed, as evidenced by drone footage.
Recently, the Russian occupiers have focused their attacks on Avdiivka and Marinka, which are located near occupied Donetsk. In view of the fact that Marinka is in fact completely destroyed, the Ukrainian defenders are defending themselves from destroyed residential buildings.
"The enemy has become quite active in this direction, constantly storming the positions of the Defense Forces. Ukrainian fighters heroically resisted the attacks, flawlessly performing their tasks," Igor Sklyar, lieutenant of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and a fighter from the Legion of Freedom, commented on the situation.
Stoltenberg: Three NATO countries are against aid to Kyiv, we will continue it
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that despite the new political position of Hungary, Slovakia and the Netherlands, the members of the alliance will not stop providing assistance to Ukraine.
According to Political Lore, he said this when asked about NATO's position on aid to Ukraine, given the fact that Slovakia, the Netherlands and Hungary are changing their rhetoric.
"NATO members provide modern missiles, air defense systems, modern battle tanks - these are all examples of significant modern assistance... The assistance is provided to Ukraine because it is in the interest of our security. I am convinced that NATO allies will continue to provide substantial and meaningful support to Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.
As an example of the determination of NATO member states to continue providing assistance to the Ukrainian authorities, he noted that Germany and the Netherlands had recently pledged to provide $10 billion in payments, and that NATO allies would provide additional systems for air defence.
"There is also a constant flow of ammunition and weapons into Ukraine. Of course, there is an urgent need for more help, but the Allies have shown not only in words but also in deeds that they will continue to help Ukraine," added the Secretary General of the Alliance.
Late last month, the anti-European far-right Freedom Party (VVD), led by Geert Wilders, which opposes arms supplies to Ukraine, won elections in the Netherlands.
In Slovakia, a far from pro-Ukrainian candidate also came to power in the last elections. The country's new prime minister, Robert Fico, said Slovakia would not transfer weapons to Ukraine to defend against Russian aggression and called Russia's war against Ukraine a "frozen conflict."
And Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long been known for his pro-Russian stance and his attempts to block military aid to Ukraine, as well as for putting sticks in the wheels of our country on its way to EU membership.
Ukraine announced that it shot down 10 of a total of 17 Russian drones during attacks last night
The Ukrainian military has shot down 10 of a total of 17 attack drones launched overnight by Russia, Ukrainian authorities said today, Reuters reported.
The governor of Ukraine's western Lviv region said three drones struck an unspecified infrastructure target, but damage was minimal and no casualties were reported.
Kyiv's air force said the drones were shot down over "various areas" of the country.
Six S-300 missiles were fired at civilian targets in eastern Donetsk and southern Kherson region.
At a secret briefing, Zelensky briefed US senators on the progress of the war
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supported the first procedural vote on an additional 6 billion package at President Joe Biden's insistence to send aid to Ukraine, Israel, Asia-Pacific countries and for humanitarian purposes in Gaza.
However, there is growing skepticism that this will happen. Negotiations on a border security package broke down over the weekend as Republicans pushed for provisions that Democrats disagreed with.
In a letter to House and Senate leaders, the White House warned that by the end of the year, the US would run out of funding for sending weapons and aid to Ukraine, and that cutting off the flow “of American weapons and equipment would hit Ukraine on the battlefield, will put at risk the successes it has achieved and increase the likelihood of Russian military victories”.
Senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, are set to brief all senators today on the situation in Ukraine in a classified briefing where Volodymyr Zelensky is also due to update senators on the move of hostilities.
According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Zelensky will reach out to senators so they can hear directly from him exactly what they will vote for.
Schumer filed a motion Monday night to consider the bill, which is supposed to contain the additional foreign aid package. The final details of this package have not yet been finalized due to disagreements over immigration and asylum policy reforms aimed at reducing the flow of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
Putin will visit the UAE and Saudi Arabia tomorrow, and on Thursday he will have a meeting in Russia with the Iranian president
Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive tomorrow on a working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, and the next day he will hold talks in Russia with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced today, quoted by Reuters.
Asked if Putin would discuss possible coordinated action on global oil markets during his tour of the Persian Gulf, the spokesman said such talks were held within the OPEC+ format, but the issue had always been on the agenda.
The visit comes after OPEC+ countries agreed last Thursday to voluntarily cut oil supplies by about 2.2 million barrels per day, a move that was met with skepticism in global oil markets.
Putin's plans to travel to Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, as well as the UAE, were first reported yesterday by the SHOT news site. The website quoted the Kremlin's foreign policy advisor Yuriy Ushakov, who announced that Putin will first visit the UAE and then Saudi Arabia, where he will mainly negotiate with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Putin and the Saudi prince have established a close relationship, according to Reuters. This helped lead to an agreement to create the OPEC+ group in late 2016 to influence global oil markets, where much of the budget revenue of both countries comes from.
On the other hand, Dubai has become an important commercial hub for Russian oil companies, including Russia's second-largest oil company Lukoil, which moved some of its operations to the city after European sanctions against Moscow forced Russian companies to relocate their operations to neutral territory.
Putin has rarely traveled abroad in recent years, mainly to the countries of the former Soviet Union. His last visit outside this group of countries was to China in October, according to Reuters.
EU imports of nuclear fuel and services from Russia increased in 2023 as well
The European Union has again increased Russian imports of nuclear fuel and services for the block's Russian-designed reactors in 2023 compared with 2021, the year before Moscow invaded Ukraine, the Euratom Supply Agency (ESA) said.
Although such imports are not subject to EU sanctions, the bloc aims to reduce its dependence on Moscow. Total imports from Russia's nuclear power industry remained stable last year despite growing demand for nuclear power driven by high energy costs and the drive to cut carbon emissions.
However, five EU countries that operate so-called VVER reactors are likely to exceed their 2021 import levels again this year after a hike in 2022, the acting head of the ESA told Reuters in an interview. The trend highlights the challenges the EU faces in achieving its long-term goal of achieving self-sufficiency in renewable energy.
"Imports from countries operating Russian-designed VVER reactors increased in 2022 compared to 2021 and are likely to have increased in 2023 compared to the year before the Russian invasion," Stefano Ciccarello said in remarks released for publication on Friday.
Last year, those five countries - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia - bought 30 percent more conversion services from Russia and 22 percent more enrichment, the ESA said in its annual report in October.
"These utilities are creating additional fresh fuel stocks. Further forward purchases will most likely contribute in the near term to more material coming to VVER utilities from Russia compared to 2021," he said.
Cicarello did not offer specific numbers and said it was too early to say whether imports in 2023 would also be higher than last year.
Of the five EU countries that have so far relied entirely on Russian supplies, only Hungary has yet to sign alternative fuel contracts, according to the ESA. The Hungarian government did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Finland's Fortum said its work with US Westinghouse on the alternative fuel was going well, adding: "The introduction of the new fuel is a multi-year project requiring regulatory approvals."
Overall, EU imports of natural uranium and related services from Russia were largely unchanged from the previous year in 2022 as different utility strategies leveled off, ESA said. "Those who do not rely on Russia are trying to further reduce any such dependence," Ciccarello said.
"On the other hand, there are people who are completely dependent on Russian fuel, who are building up fuel stocks as a contingency for supply disruptions before the alternative fuel is licensed."
Nuclear energy accounts for nearly 10% of the energy consumed in the EU, with France meeting almost a third of its energy needs this way. Other major producers include Sweden and Belgium. Imports of natural uranium to the EU from Russia fell by 16% last year compared to 2021, a decline offset by increased supplies from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the ESA said.
In 2022, Russian nuclear energy imports into the EU were worth around €750m, or 1% of Russian gas imports into the bloc, according to the European Commission.
EU countries are now debating a commission proposal for a 12th package of economic sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, sources said the proposal - which is not public - does not include sanctions against Russia's nuclear energy industry.
Imposing EU sanctions requires the unanimity of all 27 members of the bloc, something Hungary - where Russian state monopoly Rosatom has a contract to expand the Paks nuclear plant - refuses to provide in the case of Russia's nuclear power.
Beyond Europe, Russia last year was the third-largest supplier of uranium to the United States, which has the most reactors in the world. The fate of bills to ban Russian uranium introduced in the US Congress is unclear.
Ciccarello said the West would need to add 20-30% to its existing conversion and enrichment scope to offset high-risk supplies. The upgrades, which are expected to come online later this decade, will not meet Western demand, he said. "This is a massive investment spanning several decades," Ciccarello said. "For further investment, the industry is looking for some form of guaranteed market."
Putin to Latvia: Don't treat Russians in the country like pigs
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized Latvia's treatment of the Baltic country's Russian population.
The reason is that after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Latvia introduced language tests for stateless people - most of whom are Russian - to test their everyday knowledge of the Latvian language. They are threatened with having their residence permit revoked.
"I do not believe that happiness will come to those who pursue such a policy," Putin said Monday in Moscow. The Russian president added that those who treat "parts of their population - literally - like pigs, should not be surprised if this turns against them".
The pro-Kremlin news agency TASS reported that Putin said this at a meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council. The Kremlin-controlled council has been debating changes to Latvia's law on foreigners.
About one in four of the tiny country's roughly 1.8 million people is of Russian descent. However, many Russians are not Latvian citizens, but have the status of stateless persons, DPA notes.
Putin "understands" that every country requires its residents to have basic knowledge of culture and language. However, the status of people who do not have citizenship represents a deviation from legal norms, he believes.
The Russian president also said that Moscow will organize its relations with countries that discriminate against Russians accordingly. In addition, Russia could support Russians abroad to return to their historical homeland.
"If they don't want to leave, but are expelled, then we can't do anything about it, but we have to create suitable conditions for these people," Putin said.
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