As the war enters its 630th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
- Russia intensified air bombardments and ground assaults around the ruined eastern town of Avdiivka, 20km (12 miles) from the Russian-held Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun told national television that Ukrainian forces had repelled eight attacks in the previous 24 hours on Avdiivka, known for its vast coking plant. “Fighting is still going on. Over the last two days, the occupiers have increased the number of air strikes using guided bombs from Su-35 aircraft,” Shtupun said. “The enemy is also bringing in more and more infantry.”
- Separately, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the head of Ukraine’s ground forces, said that Russia continued to launch simultaneous assault attempts on Ukrainian positions around Bakhmut and Kupyansk, and had stepped up their use of kamikaze drones.
- In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also focused on Avdiivka, saying Russian forces were losing men and equipment faster there than they did during months of battles near Bakhmut earlier this year. Zelenskyy said that the greater losses inflicted on Russian forces near the town, the worse would be Moscow’s overall position.
- Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak, who is in the United States, told the Hudson Institute think tank that Ukrainian forces had “gained a foothold” on the east bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine in the first official acknowledgement of the breakthrough in the Kherson region. “Our counteroffensive is developing,” he said.
- The Landmine Monitor said the number of civilians wounded or killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war in Ukraine soared to 608 in 2022, compared with 58 the year before. Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
- Russia’s defence ministry said its air defences destroyed four Ukrainian drones over the Moscow, Tambov, Orlov and Bryansk regions. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
Politics and diplomacy
- Former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov was pardoned over the 2006 killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya after enlisting with the Russian military in Ukraine. Politkovskaya, who investigated abuses in Russia’s Chechen war and was a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in the lift of her Moscow apartment block. Khadzhikurbanov was found guilty in 2014 of organising the killing and jailed for 20 years.
- Russia jailed a man for six years after he was found guilty of “discrediting” the Russian military for defacing posters of Russian soldiers decorated as “heroes” for fighting in Ukraine. The man was identified only as a 46-year-old “local” to the central city of Tolyatti, where the posters were damaged. Human rights group Memorial named him as Alexei Arbuzenko, a teacher.
- Oleksandr Dubinsky, a Ukrainian lawmaker who was formally notified this week that he was suspected of treason for allegedly cooperating with Russia’s military intelligence, said a Kyiv court had ordered him detained for 60 days. He did not say why. Dubinksy was put on a US sanctions list in 2021 when he was expelled from Ukraine’s ruling party.
- Speaking at a European Union defence ministers meeting, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius admitted the bloc would miss its target of supplying Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells and missiles by next March because of production issues. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc had provided more than 300,000 artillery shells and missiles under the first track of the scheme, which involved EU member states delivering from their own stockpiles.