Shoigu refers to offensives as 'active defense' to lower expectations

Oblast, and surrounding settlements in early October in an effort to encircle the town.ChatGPTChatGPT

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has been falsely characterizing offensive operations in Ukraine as "active defense" to manage expectations regarding the military's ability to achieve objectives. This misleading terminology was notably employed by both Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin when referring to Russia's unsuccessful attempt to capture Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast.

The ISW's report, dated December 1, criticizes the use of the term "active defense," particularly in the context of Avdiivka, a city that has been a well-known static defensive position for Ukraine since 2014. The report suggests that this characterization is an intentional effort to downplay the lack of significant progress by Russian forces around Avdiivka, despite over two months of large-scale attacks.

The Russian military's intensified ground attacks on Avdiivka, which began in early October, were aimed at encircling the town. The failure to make substantial progress in this strategically important area appears to have prompted the use of deceptive language to reshape the narrative surrounding Russia's military efforts in the region.

The ISW's analysis sheds light on the strategic communication tactics employed by Russian officials to manage perceptions of their military actions, emphasizing the importance of critical analysis and scrutiny of such language in understanding the evolving dynamics of the conflict in Ukraine.

Overnight blackout reported at Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant faced a critical situation on December 2 when a blackout forced the facility to rely on diesel generators. The blackout occurred after the 330 kV backup and 750 kV main power lines were cut off, prompting the plant to activate its diesel generators for power.

The blackout reportedly occurred during an air raid alert, though the exact cause was not specified by Ukraine's state nuclear energy company, Energoatom. All 20 diesel generators automatically turned on, and eight were left in operation to sustain power. The main danger during such outages is the potential overheating of the fourth reactor due to the shutdown of cooling pumps.

The 759 kV power line was successfully restored around 7 a.m. local time, thanks to the efforts of Ukrainian specialists. It is worth noting that the Russian occupying forces have kept the fourth reactor in a hot state, which violates the Ukrainian regulator's guidelines for its operation, emphasizing the urgent need to transfer the block to a cold state.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022, and it has faced repeated disconnections from the Ukrainian power grid due to attacks on the country's energy infrastructure. The latest incident underscores the challenges and risks associated with maintaining the safety and stability of critical infrastructure in regions affected by conflict. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has personnel stationed at the plant to monitor the situation, indicating the international community's awareness of the potential consequences of disruptions at nuclear facilities in the region.

Zelensky says he's ready to hold elections, but most Ukrainians are against it

In an interview with the Associated Press published on Dec. 1, President Volodymyr Zelensky said he's ready to hold presidential elections next year, but most Ukrainians think such a vote would be "dangerous and meaningless" in wartime.

His statement comes in line with a recent poll showing that 62% of Ukrainians believe elections should only be held after the war is over.

With Zelensky's traditional five-year mandate span coming to an end next year, discussions arose about whether a new presidential vote would be held amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Nov. 3 that Zelensky was considering holding elections as scheduled in March 2024, but several days later, the president rejected the idea as "irresponsible."

Under Ukraine's Constitution, elections are prohibited while the country is in a state of martial law.

Ukrainian officials have said that there are clearly logistical and security challenges involved in holding free and fair elections during wartime. Millions of voters live abroad or in territories currently occupied by Russia.

In the AP interview, Zelensky also acknowledged that Russia's war against Ukraine has entered a new phase, with winter expected to complicate fighting and the world's attention diverted to the Israel-Hamas war.

He admitted that Ukraine's latest counteroffensive didn't achieve what was expected of it due to the lack of weaponry and troops.

"There is not enough power to achieve the desired results faster. But this does not mean that we should give up, that we have to surrender," Zelensky told AP.

"We are confident in our actions. We fight for what is ours."

However, despite all the setbacks, Ukraine managed to regain more territory occupied by Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion and degrade Russian capabilities in the Black Sea, argued Zelensky.

"Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second (best) army in the world, I am satisfied."

"We are losing people, I'm not satisfied. We didn't get all the weapons we wanted, I can't be satisfied, but I also can't complain too much."

Russian sabotage groups' activity rising in Kharkiv Oblast

State Border Guard Service spokesperson Andrii Demchenko has reported a shift in the activities of Russian sabotage groups attempting to cross Ukraine's border. Previously, Sumy Oblast was the primary target, but there has been an observable increase in attempts directed towards Kharkiv Oblast in recent weeks.

Demchenko noted the change in direction during a television appearance on December 1, stating, "Previously, we recorded most (Russian sabotage groups) in the Sumy direction. But in the past weeks, we saw a change of direction toward Kharkiv Oblast." He also mentioned a decrease in recorded activity in the Sumy direction, suggesting a potential shift in strategy by Russia, possibly due to limited gains from their previous incursions.

Kharkiv Oblast has experienced a notable increase in Russian strikes over the past month, further highlighting the region's vulnerability to hostile actions. It's important to note that Ukraine had successfully liberated much of Kharkiv Oblast during a surprise counteroffensive in the previous fall. However, the region continues to face regular strikes, and Russian forces have been concentrating a large force in its northeastern area.

The attempts by Russian sabotage groups to cross Ukraine's border have been a persistent challenge, particularly in northern Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts. The evolving dynamics in the border regions underscore the ongoing complexities and security concerns faced by Ukraine in defending its territorial integrity.