Ukrainian officials anticipate a major Russian offensive in early 2023

Ukrainian officials believe Russia may attempt to launch a major offensive in January and February 2023. Various indicators such as mobilization efforts, the announcement of conscription and the movement of heavy weapons would point to this, according to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. The US think tank “Institute for the Study of War” has long predicted that the pace of attacks could be increased on both sides in the winter months. The fact that temperatures in Ukraine are now below zero and that the ground is broadly solidifying after the wet start of winter would create the conditions for faster offensive actions, according to the ISW.

ISW analysts say that Russian troops are most likely to go on the offensive along two axes – along the Kharkiv-Luhansk border in northeastern Ukraine or in the Donetsk region. Currently, it appears that Russia is moving heavy weapons near the current front line along the Kharkiv-Luhansk border. In addition, the Russian leadership had regrouped the troops there.

Ukrainian and Russian sources have recently reported that Russian troops are already conducting offensive operations along this line, particularly to recapture lost positions west of Kreminna.

Child torture chamber found in liberated Kherson

According to Ukrainian sources, a torture chamber for children has been found in the recently liberated city of Cherson. This indicates that children were also abused under the Russian occupation. “We found ten torture chambers in the Kherson region, four of them in the city of Kherson,” reports Dmytro Lubinets, the human rights commissioner of the Ukrainian parliament. A separate room was found in one of the chambers, in which children were held. “Even the occupiers called it that, a children’s cell,” says Lubinets. Unlike in the other cells, occupiers laid thin mats on the floor. “We documented that the children were not given water, they were only given water every other day. They got practically nothing to eat.”

Russia warns US against delivery of Patriot air defense systems

According to media reports, the US government is considering supplying the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. The Patriot plans have yet to be approved by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, several US media outlets have reported, citing unnamed government sources. The Patriot air defense system would reshuffle some of the military cards in Russia-attacked Ukraine. It can also repel aircraft, cruise missiles, drones and missiles from a greater distance.

If the reports about the delivery come true, then this will testify to a new “provocative step by the administration (by US President Joe Biden), which can lead to unpredictable consequences,” the Russian embassy in Washington said. “Such a line by Washington not only inflicts colossal damage on Russian-US relations, but also creates additional risks to global security,” it said.

Zelenskyy: Completely isolate Russia from sporting events

After a conversation with IOC chief Thomas Bach, Zelenskyj called for Russia to be permanently banned from international sporting events. “A fair answer for a terrorist state can only be its complete isolation in the international arena,” said Zelenskyj on Wednesday after the phone call with Bach. The principles of the Olympic Movement are not compatible with those of a “terror state”. Russia should not be allowed to use sporting events for its propaganda purposes.

Since the beginning of the war, 184 athletes have been killed by Russian actions, Zelenskyy said. There should therefore be no way back into world sport for Russian representatives. The silence of the athletes, coaches and sports officials in Russia encourages aggression, Zelenskyj justified his demand. The Russian leadership, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasizes that sport and politics should be kept separate. The giant empire relies on allies in Asia, India and Latin America not loudly condemning the war and not supporting the western sanctions.

EU-Asean summit ends without joint condemnation of Russia

The European Union, meanwhile, failed to persuade the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to unanimously condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The final declaration of the first major summit meeting of the two organizations in Brussels on Wednesday merely stated that most of the participating states condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.

Diplomats cited the position of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand as the reason. These three countries also abstained from the last major vote on a UN resolution critical of Russia’s war. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said at a press conference in the evening that it was known that countries that did not support the resolution also considered the war to be unjust. This is a good starting point for what you have planned. “No state has the right to invade another and nuclear threats are unacceptable,” he said.

What will be important on Thursday

The heads of state and government of the EU states are discussing further military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine at the last regular summit of the year in Brussels. In view of the pressure from sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to hold a video conference with officials once again to deal with the country’s strategic development in the technology sector, as the Kremlin announced.

Also read: The Ukraine update on December 14th