Ukraine Situation Report: Kremlin Says Putin Will ‘Eventually’ Visit Donbas
It’s not clear when the Russian president will visit, or how much of the Donbas his army will still hold when he gets there.
Dimitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, told state-run TASS news agency that Putin will “eventually” visit the Donbas in occupied eastern Ukraine.
The supposed visit and any details thereof remain unconfirmed, with the word “eventually” doing some heavy lifting here. Russia’s 'special military operation' in the Donbas has become what’s best described as a meat grinder along the frontline near Bakhmut with minimal gains at great cost while abandoning offensives elsewhere.
The latest intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation near Bakhmut, specifically that the town has become a symbolic, political objective for Russian forces.
Putin visiting so close to the frontline would be a huge development, given the monumental security concerns involved. Ukrainian special forces and drones, and in some cases artillery, as well as other covert actions and unsanctioned actors, could all pose threats to a visiting Putin.
The Kremlin would also have to worry about its own soldiers. How many angry mobilized conscripts would gladly take a shot at the man who sent them to war? Part of the visit has to be to improve morale, but doing just that invites its own risks given the numerous mobilization debacles. Still, we know Putin's visits are often tightly controlled and carefully staged, but the battlefield is a far more variable environment regardless of these efforts.
Regardless of this claim, we wouldn't hold our breath for Putin to be shaking hands with anybody in Donetsk anytime soon, but more surprising things have happened in this war. There have also been scathing comparisons with Zelensky and Putin when the Ukrainian president visits his frontline forces.
Before heading into the rest of today’s news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu visited his Belarusian counterpart in Minsk on Saturday, reportedly signing amendments on security agreements between the two countries. Kyiv has recently redeployed troops to guard its border with Moscow’s closest ally in the region as concerns over second northern invasion persist.
Diplomatic efforts throughout the summer largely focused on the Black Sea grain corridor for Ukrainian exports, but the truth is quite a bit never made it to the ports. The deal nearly collapsed earlier this fall when Russia briefly withdrew after the Ukrainian raid on Sevastopol on October 29.
Russian missile strikes continued on Saturday, with an explosion and subsequent fire reported in Kramatorsk’s industrial zone.
The strikes are the latest in Russia’s ongoing campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure, which you can read more of our coverage on here. The continued attacks, as well as the threat of Iranian-supplied short-range ballistic missiles becoming part of the barrage, recently prompted NATO to consider transferring MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine. But doing so, if they actually decide to execute such a plan, will take months to realize, at the least.
Finland is now reportedly transferring its decommissioned power grid equipment to Ukraine in an effort to speed up repairs as power needs grow further into winter.
Most interesting is footage from inside the cab of a BM-21 Grad during a salvo. With each 122mm rocket leaving the tubes you can see the truck rocking back and forth.
There’s also a clip of Polish-made AHS Krab 155mm self-propelled howitzers on the move in Ukrainian service. The Krab is just one of the many NATO 6-inch caliber guns provided to Ukrainian forces, and its ability to shoot-and-scoot is vital to avoid devastating counter-battery fire.
That's it for now. We will update this piece if anything major happens, otherwise we will be posting a new update soon.
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