Russia increases aircraft ahead of mass strike, FBI raids Medvedchuk’s yacht, Bakhmut woes

1 December 2022, 03:40 PM

Your slice of the top headlines in Ukraine. Daily. Thursday, December 1st, 2022.

•   Russia has increased the number of aircraft at the Engels airfield in Saratov Oblast, likely in preparation for a mass strike.

According to Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat, the number of Russian planes itself is not as important as the number of missiles left for the strategic bombers to launch. The Russian Federation mainly has Kalibr, Kh-101, and Kh-555 cruise missiles, and land-based Iskander ballistic missiles, Ihnat said.

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•   United States FBI agents raided a yacht belonging to former Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk in Croatia. 

The search warrant for the Royal Romance yacht was issued on Nov. 15, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department. The warrant mentions the names of Medvedchuk and his wife Oksana Marchenko – both are suspected of breaking U.S. money laundering laws.

•   NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Ukraine’s success in the war is a pre-requisite for membership.

Speaking after a meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest, Romania, he noted that “if Ukraine does not prevail as an independent sovereign state, then of course, then membership issue is not at the table at all.” He added that NATO is proving with deeds that the alliance is ready to support Ukraine until victory.

•   A speech given by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was cut after she mentioned that “100,000 Ukrainian military personnel have died to date.”

Von der Leyen's claim highly contrasts with earlier statements made by the Ukrainian government, which has implied that Ukrainian soldiers maintain a 1 to 10 ratio of killed-in-action compared to the Russians. The true number of Ukrainian soldiers lost is not made public – that information is considered to be classified.

•   Ukraine accumulated 14 billion cubic meters of gas in its storage facilities.

That’s in addition to 1.3 million tons of stored coal, “enough to sustainably get through the winter,” said Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The prime minister also said that the Ministry of Economy does not predict a fuel shortage even amid increased imports of diesel and gasoline generators and the related increase in fuel demand.

•   The U.S. will send $53 million worth of power grid equipment to Ukraine.

This will help Kyiv deal with the constant damage to critical infrastructure inflicted by Russian attacks. The package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, and other equipment.

•   Russia has lost Europe as its largest energy client “forever.”

That’s according to International Energy Agency head Fatih Birol, who was commenting on the European Union’s decision to ban Russian crude imports from Dec. 5 and Russian oil products from Feb. 5. Birol said the IEA expects Russian crude production to be curtailed by some 2 million barrels of oil per day by the end of the first quarter next year

•   The European Union will provide Ukraine with 40 more generators.

The bloc has already given Ukraine 550 generators to help survive and power facilities during winter blackouts. “Russia is trying to break the spirit of Ukrainians by hitting energy infrastructure and using winter conditions as a weapon against the civilian population,” the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, stated.

•   The deputy mayor of Zaporizhzhya, Oleksiy Nikiforov, has been appointed as General Director of Motor Sich JSC.

Motor Sich was nationalized on Nov. 6, after the company’s president, Vyacheslav Boguslayev, was arrested on charges of treason in late October, for reportedly selling Russia helicopter engines despite sanctions and the full-scale war. According to Ukrainian journalists, Boguslayev has held Russian citizenship since 2000, and since 2002 had an apartment in Moscow.

•   Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers has exempted Starlink satellite communication terminals from import duties and VAT.

The exemption also affects spare parts and components for the manufacture of electric generators. “This decision makes such products about 25% cheaper,” claimed First Deputy Economy Minister Denys Kudin.

•   The day’s long-read: Continuous assaults, water-logged trenches, and cold: How Ukraine is holding the line in Bakhmut

NV spoke to Petro Kuzyk, the commander of the Svoboda battalion, whose unit of one of those stationed in defense of Bakhmut, who explained how the situation in the highly-contested Donbas town currently stands.

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