Explosions reported at Russian air base; Ukraine rejects U.S. claim that fighting could slow

In World


Russia says its preparing retaliatory measures against Western oil price cap

The Kremlin says it is preparing retaliatory measures after Ukraine’s Western allies implemented a cap on the price of Russian-origin seaborne oil at $60.

“Decisions are being prepared, but, of course, one thing is obvious here – we will not recognize any ceilings,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Last week, Ukraine’s allies in the G-7, Australia and the EU (known as the “Price Cap Coalition” in this case) agreed on the $60 cap on Russian seaborne oil in a bid to curtail Moscow’s oil exporting revenues which helps it to finance its ongoing war.

The price cap, which began on Monday, means that third countries will only be able to access services such as insurance, shipping and brokerage from countries within the coalition (i.e the EU and G-7) if they trade Russian oil at or below the cap.

The U.K., U.S. and EU will not make use of the cap as they have already introduced an import ban on Russian oil.

On Monday, Peskov did not detail what form “retaliatory” measures could take. Russia has already lambasted the price cap, saying it would continue to find buyers for its oil and would not supply oil to countries adhering to the price ceiling.

— Holly Ellyatt

Explosions reported at Russian air base, damaging two bomber aircraft

Explosions have been reported at a Russian military air base in the Saratov region of western Russia, damaging two strategic bomber aircraft, with reports suggesting the blasts were caused by a drone attack.

Russian news agency Tass said the explosion happened Monday morning at an airbase near the city of Ryazan, killing three people and injuring five, citing information from the emergency services. Russian news agency Ria Novosti said the deaths had been caused when a fuel truck exploded at the airfield. It said investigations were under way as to the cause of the blasts.

Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform also reported the explosion, saying information from several local sources suggested the blasts were caused by a drone attack, with two aircraft damaged in the blast.

Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor in Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, posted a video on his Telegram channel purportedly showing the attack on the “Engels” air base in which he said two Tu-95 strategic bombers had been damaged.

“A drone damaged two Tu-95 aircraft, and a fuel truck exploded at an airfield near Ryazan. The airfield is located at a distance of 750 km from the border with Ukraine,” he noted.

Reports suggest the base has been the launching site for Russian airstrikes against Ukraine in recent weeks.

— Holly Ellyatt

The role of Russia’s air force in the war is decreasing, UK says

The number of sorties conducted by Russian tactical combat aircraft over Ukraine in recent months has reduced significantly, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

“Russian aircraft now probably conducts tens of missions per day, compared to a high of up to 300 per day in March 2022,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update Monday morning.

It believed Russia had now lost over 60 fixed-wing aircraft in the conflict in Ukraine, likely including an additional Su-24M FENCER fighter-bomber and a Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft last week.

The Sukhoi Su-24M (which has the NATO codename “Fencer”) supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft/interdictor of the Russian Air Force.

Aviation-images.com | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

“The decrease in sorties is likely a result of continued high threat from Ukrainian air defences, limitations on the flying hours available to Russian aircraft, and worsening weather,” the U.K. said.

“With Russia’s ground attack tactics largely reliant on visual identification and unguided munitions, the Russian air force will likely continue a low rate of ground attack operations through the poor winter weather,” it added.

— Holly Ellyatt

‘We will endure’ this winter, President Zelenskyy insists

Locals transfer humanitarian aid across a collapsed bridge near Novopetrivka, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson region, Ukraine, on Nov. 17, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymy Zelenskyy used his nightly address Sunday to call on citizens to unite and support one another through the winter.

“The winter, which will obviously be difficult. But still, it is worth perceiving this winter not as a test, but as time – time that brings us closer to the main thing – to victory. Each of these 90 winter days,” he said.

Zelenskyy said Russia “hopes to use winter against us: to make winter cold and hardship part of his terror. We have to do everything to endure this winter, no matter how hard it is. And we will endure. To endure this winter is to defend everything,” he added.

Locals transfer humanitarian aid supplies near Novopetrivka, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson region, Ukraine, on Nov. 17, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The president said Russia “still has missiles and an advantage in artillery” but noted that Ukraine has the advantage in terms of its motivation for fighting: “we have something that the occupier does not have and will not have. We defend our home, and that gives us the strongest motivation possible. We fight for freedom, and that always multiplies any force.”

“To get through this winter, we have to help each other more than ever and care for each other even more. And please don’t ask if you can help, and how. Just help when you see you can.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine appears to push back on U.S. claim that fighting could be at a ‘reduced tempo’ over winter

Ukrainian officials have seemingly pushed back against comments by a U.S. official that fighting in the country could be tempered over winter.

On Saturday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said the United States expects to see a “reduced tempo” in the fighting in Ukraine to continue over the next few months before counteroffensives resume in earnest in the spring.

“We’re seeing a kind of a reduced tempo already of the conflict … and we expect that’s likely to be what we see in the coming months,” Avril Haines told the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Reuters reported. She said both Russia and Ukraine would look to refit and resupply their armies over the winter.

Ukraine appears keen to dispel any idea of a lull in the fighting or loss of momentum in their counteroffensives, however, with its Ministry of Defense posting videos of tanks plowing through muddy, water-logged fields and high morale among its soldiers.

A Ukrainian tank runs on a road near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, on Dec. 2, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Serhii Cherevatyi, the spokesperson of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Eastern Group, said on Sunday that Ukraine is “doing everything to be ready for the winter period of military operations, we are preparing our equipment — we are transferring it to winter operation, we are providing the units with special clothing and ammunition and those means that provide an opportunity to warm up and rest,” according to comments on Army Inform, an information agency of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.

Cherevatyi said that frozen ground enables heavy wheeled and tracked vehicles to advance during offensive or counteroffensive actions. Meanwhile, he said hastily mobilized Russian troops or personnel within the private military company Wagner are unprepared for combat operations in winter in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymy Zelenskyy used his nightly address Sunday to call on citizens to unite and support one another through the winter. He said Russia “hopes to use winter against us: to make winter cold and hardship part of his terror. We have to do everything to endure this winter, no matter how hard it is. And we will endure. To endure this winter is to defend everything.”

— Holly Ellyatt





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