Last week (December 5–11) began with a massive missile attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. However, russia failed to plunge Ukraine into the darkness: Ukrainian anti-aircraft forces shot down almost 90% of the missiles.
Ukraine has also won a number of image-making victories. Several influential world media called Volodymyr Zelenskyi the “Person of the Year”, and the popular US edition “Politico” did not ignore vladimir putin, either. The journalists called him the “Loser of the Year”. Meanwhile, putin himself admitted that russia was deliberately attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Also, the russian dictator tried to drive a wedge between Warsaw and Kyiv, saying that Poland wants to capture several western regions of Ukraine, which caused laughter from both, the Ukrainian and Polish, sides. In addition, russian propaganda used Angela Merkel’s words about the Minsk agreements, to shift responsibility for russia’s war to France and Germany.
In addition, the Council of the European Union adopted two important decisions. They agreed to allocate 18 billion euros of financial assistance to Ukraine for 2023 and set a ceiling price for the purchase of russian oil, which should weaken the military potential of the aggressor country.
russia failed a missile strike, and putin admits attacks on civilian infrastructure
On Monday, December, 5, russia launched a new massive missile attack on the energy system of Ukraine. However, something went wrong with the plan. First, unidentified drones attacked the russian military airfields “Diagilevo”and “Engels”, where the russian long-range aviation is deployed. It is the type of aircrafts used for nuclear deterrence and missile strikes at the Ukrainian energy infrastructure. The first airfield is located near Ryazan, 150 kilometers away from Moscow and more than 700 kilometers away from the Ukrainian border; and the other airfield is in the Saratov region, more than 600 kilometers away from the Ukrainian-russian border. At least 2 or 3 TU-95 bomber aircraft were damaged by the explosions.
Secondly, the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces have obstructed russian plans. Thus, on December, 5, russia fired 70 rockets at the territory of Ukraine. According to the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksii Danilov, the air defense forces destroyed 60 of them. Following the shelling, the Ukrainian energy system managed to maintain its integrity, even despite a number of hits. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmygal, in his Telegram, commented on the shelling in the following style: “The terrorist country of russia tried to implement their criminal plan, to plunge Ukraine into the darkness and cold, again. Thanks to the heroic effort of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the ADF, the enemy once again failed to implement their plans. ”
At the same time, Oleksii Danilov said in the national telethon that the number of missiles taken down by the Ukrainian air defense forces keeps increasing, which indicates the extraordinary professionalism of the Armed Forces. It is a fair point, given that during the previous shelling on November, 23, the Ukrainian AAD shot down 51 of 70 missiles, which is also a very high result. Despite this, it was the first time that most of Ukraine faced a two-day blackout. Obviously, this week russia wanted to extend their success, but failed.
Meanwhile, putin admitted that russia was striking at civilian infrastructure, although the kremlin had previously denied those facts. According to the russian dictator, the attacks on Ukraine’s energy are the “answer” to the bombing of the Crimean Bridge. “Russia is striking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure but those who brought it up were the ones hitting the Crimean Bridge,” said putin .
However, it is not the case. First, russia has been destroying civilian infrastructure since the early days of the war. russian missiles hit homes, shopping malls, railway stations, and even hospitals. Secondly, even before October, 10, when russia first massively attacked Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, Ukrainian authorities and experts repeatedly stressed that on the eve of winter, russia could strike at the energy system trying to destroy it. The main purpose of russian strikes is to force Ukraine into surrender. The terrorist country resorts to such tactics because they have no success on the battlefield.
The kremlin uses Merkel’s words to justify aggression and start negotiations
On December, 7, Angela Merkel gave an interview to the German publication of “Die Zeit”, where she tried to respond to criticism of her policy of appeasing russia. “The Minsk agreements of 2014 were an attempt to give time to Ukraine. They also used this time to get stronger, as you can see today. The 2014–15 Ukraine is not the Ukraine of today.I very much doubt that then NATO countries could do as much as they do now to help Ukraine, “Merkel said in an interview with the German newspaper.
The words of the former German Chancellor were greatly resented by the russian President, vladimir putin: “It turns out that no one planned to implement all these Minsk agreements… they lied to us and the point was only to pump up Ukraine with weapons and prepare it for combat operations. Well, we can see that. We must have gotten our bearings too late. Perhaps we should have started earlier, ”he said.
These words imply that if putin knew what resistance the Armed Forces and Ukrainian society would show to russian aggression, he would have launched a full-scale war back in 2015. That is why putin may regret that he did not attack Ukraine at a more favorable time, and appointed the former head of the German government guilty of his misjudgements.
Merkel’s interview also provoked response from a spokeswoman for the russian foreign ministry, maria zakharova. She supported the general tone of putin’s statements, and, in actual fact, accused Ukraine of having succeeded in reforming the armed forces over the past 8 years, who are inflicting painful defeats on the “second best army of the world” and liberating the russia-occupied territories.
After Merkel’s interview, the fuse was blown also with the speaker of the State Duma, viacheslav volodin. In his Telegram, the politician wrote that those were France and Germany, rather than russia, who launched a full-scale war, thus bearing moral and material responsibility for the current situation in Ukraine. He also wrote that a pre-planned unwillingness to fulfill the committed international agreements is a crime. Let us leave behind the brackets what Merkel did not say, and dwell on the other aspect: this is what the speaker of the Parliament says from the country that was the guarantor of Ukraine’s security under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and then occupied Crimea, and subsequently launched a full-scale war against the country that they guaranteed to protect. In addition, volodin must have forgotten that the Minsk agreements ceased to be in force after russia recognized the independence of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” on February, 21, 2022. Therefore, it is russia who is directly responsible for the fact that the Minsk agreements have not been implemented.
In Ukraine, Angela Merkel’s interview was not overlooked, either. In particular, Oleksii Danilov reacted to the words of ex-c chancellors about the need for negotiations between Ukraine and russia. “To end the war, Ukraine does not need a negotiating table. putin’s surrender can be also accepted standing,” the politician tweeted .
On the other hand, vladimir putin liked the negotiations part. He said the kremlin was ready for it. “In any case, we will eventually have to negotiate. I have said many times that we are ready for these agreements ”, says the russian dictator.
However, we emphasize once again that russia wants negotiations on their own terms, which mean the defeat of Ukraine and its refusal from the territories temporarily occupied by russia. The Ukrainian side emphasizes that negotiations are possible only when russia completely withdraws their troops.
russia wants to assimilate Kyiv and Warsaw, but seems to be unable to make a head or tail of it
Poland is one of the most important allies of Ukraine. Not only does it provide the military assistance to Ukraine, but also is now a logistics center for military assistance from the United States and other countries. That is why russia has long been trying to break the relations between Kyiv and Warsaw. This time, the kremlin invented nothing better than to use the old propaganda message. They claim that Poland allegedly plans to seize part of the western regions of Ukraine.
At the end of November, Sergey Nirishkin, Director of the russian Foreign Intelligence Service, spoke about such “plans” of Poland. According to him, preparations for the annexation of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and most of Ternopil Oblasts of Ukraine are being promoted in Warsaw. It was said that in Poland, we are sure that “we deserved generous compensation from Ukraine for military assistance and the provision of shelter to refugees.” In Ukraine, the statements of Naryshkin were called a flight of fantasy. In particular, Ukrainian negotiator and advisor to the head of the Presidential Office, Mykhailo Podoliak, tweeted that Ukraine and Poland “laughed together at these kremlin’s attempts to sow distrust among friends.”
Narishkin’s creative effort was picked up by putin, who on December, 7, during a videoconference with the “Human Rights Council” said that nationalists in Poland allegedly “dreams of” how to take away Ukrainian territories, when russia could be the “real guarantor” of Ukraine’s sovereignty. The words of the russian dictator were also ridiculed in Poland. Thus, the government’s Commissioner for the Security of Poland’s Information Space, Stanislav Zharin, wrote in his Twitter: “Recent attacks from the Kremlin: it is Russia who is the guarantor of Ukraine’s security; “Polish nationalists” threaten Ukraine; NATO violates its obligations; Putin as Tsar Peter the Great; Ukraine violates the law, and the West allows it. Almost the clinical record”.
maria zakharova, spokeswoman for the russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, probably did not want to be the laughing stock. That is why, on December, 8, during a briefing, when answering a question about Polish plans for Ukraine, she said that she was not ready to comment on the rumors: “If there are any official statements about this, we will be able to rely on them. The analysis of individual opinions available now does not give any chance to offer official comments. “
zakharova’s statements imply that either putin and narishkin are not sufficiently reliable sources of information for her, or there are problems with communication in the kremlin’s offices.
Zelensky is “Person of the Year,” and putin is the loser of the year
Last week, several influential global media determined the winners in the nomination “Person of the Year”. Thus, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, became the Person of the Year, according to the US “TIME” magazine, the Austrian magazine “Profil”, the British business publication “Financial Times”. Instead, in the US publication “Politico,” Zelensky was called the most influential person in Europe. “Just look at how European leaders who won the election are rushing to Kyiv to take a picture with a solemn 44-year-old man in his now iconic olive green T-shirt. Politicians want to be seen next to him, ”the publication writes.
In addition to this, “Politico” has defined the failing politician of the year. It is the russian president, vladimir putin. “Under the sanctions from the West, when oil exports drop, and the allies are getting increasingly shocked by its weaknesses, russia resorts to false referendums and clatters the nuclear weapons trying to pressure the West to give putin the semblance of victory,” the publication said .
It is worth saying that the designation of these nominations took place in the context of the decision of the EU Council to allocate 18 billion euros of financial assistance to Ukraine in 2023, as well as to set the price ceiling for oil originating in or exported from russia at 60 US dollars per barrel from December, 5. On the one hand, these decisions intend to strengthen Ukraine. On the other hand, they will weaken the military potential of russia. Finally, according to Bloomberg, the restrictions on oil prices finally hit rf’s revenues: “Moscow lost the market by more than 1.5 million barrels a day, and sales are likely to decline by another 500,000 barrels a day by the end of the year.”