south front

Ukrainian Army Keeps Trying To Break Through On Kharkov Front Lines
South Front, Nov 28 2022

The Russian army continues offensive operations in the Lyman, Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. While on the Kupyansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson fronts, Russian forces remain on the defensive. Despite the bad weather conditions and the significant depletion of available forces, the Ukrainian Army continues its attempts of offensive operations in the Svatovo region. The Ukrainian military attacks north of Svatovo and along the Svatovo-Kremennaya highway. Ukrainian sabotage groups are operating in the forest area to the southwest of Kremennaya. To the north of Svatovo, the battle for the strategically important settlement of Novoselovskoye continues. On Nov 27, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that another attack on the village was prevented. Russian artillery strikes on the areas of concentration of Ukrainian troops reportedly destroyed up to 30 Ukrainian servicemen.

According to Russian military sources, from Nov 25 to 27, Ukrainian forces planned to conduct another major offensive on Kuzemovka. Russian intelligence recorded the gathering of a strike group in the Kharkov region, which was supposed to strengthen the Ukrainian grouping in the area. The reinforcement was mainly made up of foreign military, including former soldiers of the Bosnian and Albanian armies, as well as soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division “Getica” and the 2nd Mountain Rifle Brigade “Sarmizegetuza” from Romania. The command of the operation, presumably, was entrusted to Polish officers from Rzeszow, who had previously served in the 21st the Podgalski rifle brigade. After their field camp and military warehouses were discovered by Russian intelligence means, the Ukrainian offensive was doomed. On Nov 26, the Russian military reported a high-precision missile strike on the temporary deployment of Polish mercenaries near the village of Velikiye Khutora in the Kharkov region. Out of about 1k mercenaries, several hundred were killed and seriously injured. The destruction of foreign mercenaries forced the Ukrainian command to redeploy reinforcements from the Kherson region to Kupyansk.

In the Lyman region, Russian artillery also thwarted offensive operations by Ukrainian forces near Stelmakhovka and Ploshchanka in the LPR. On Nov 27, the Russian military command declared that the losses of the Ukrainian Army in this direction amounted to more than 50 servicemen killed and wounded. On the morning of Nov 28, the Ukrainian military continued their attempts to attack in the area of Ploshchanka, but failed. Today, the Ukrainian military is forced to conduct offensive operations with smaller forces. Advancing mainly in small groups of up to 30 soldiers on several infantry fighting vehicles, the Ukrainian forces are unlikely to achieve any strategic success, especially in bad weather conditions. However, the increased Ukrainian activity in the area confirms that the Ukrainian military command has not abandoned its plans to capture Svatovo and cut off the Severodonetsk agglomeration.

Turkic Nationalist Battalion Formed In Ukraine To “Destroy The Regime” In Russia
Ahmed Adel, South Front, Nov 28 2022

Pan-Turkic/Turan Nationalist militants from Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan have formed a new battalion in Ukraine. The new militant group has the aim of destroying “the regime” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, and to recruit members from various Turkic-speaking countries to foment inter-ethnic and inter-religious issues in Russia. A video which has recently appeared on the internet shows the commander of the so-called Turan battalion, which is part of the AFU, declaring his plan to “destroy the regime of Putin and Kadyrov.” In the video, the militants perform a hand gesture which resembles a wolf’s head, the symbol of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves organisation.

According to reports, there are about 350 people in the Turan battalion, including mercenaries of Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uyghur origin, as well as immigrants from Azerbaijan. Their commander is 33-year-old Kudaybek ulu Almaz from Kyrgyzstan, who worked in Ukraine as a day labourer and hairdresser before the start of the Russian military operation. It is notable that in the video, the battalion leader speaks about Russia and not Ukraine. This demonstrates that his goal is to disrupt inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in Russia, keeping in mind that the country is home to several indigenous Turkic ethnic groups, such as Bashkirs, Chuvash, Kumyks, Karachays and varying Tatar groups in Crimea, Volga region and elsewhere.

As far as funding is concerned, it can be provided for by the West and Turkey in the same structures that once financed the formation of terrorist organisations, like the Islamic State. It is recalled that the Grey Wolves ultra-nationalist organization were once financed by the CIA’s Operation Gladio as part of empowering fascism and dictatorships to halt the spread of communism during the Cold War. Turan battalion members in Ukraine are gaining combat experience with modern Western weapons. When the war ends and the militants leave Ukraine, they could then engage in terrorist activities in Russia and their home countries.

Although it is doubtful that this particular battalion will achieve anything of note, it does suggest that there is growing pan-Turkic ultra-nationalism emerging in the formerly communist Central Asia region. Ultra-nationalist organizations in Central Asia are being financed by Turkey as part of their own efforts to exert influence under the banner of pan-Turkism. This poses danger to Russia as pan-Turkic ideology can seep from Central Asia into regions of Russia with significant Turkic populations, such as Tuva, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia and Sakha, among others.

According to Russian media, Kyrgyz authorities revealed that the current commander of the battalion went to Ukraine in Dec 2021 and started working as a hairdresser. At the beginning of the war, Kudaybek volunteered and began serving in the AFU. The State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan announced:

The views of Kudaybek are contrary to the position of the official authorities of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan adheres to neutrality in the events between Russia and Ukraine.

Kudaybek is currently being investigated under the article of the Criminal Code that sanctions the participation of Kyrgyz citizens in armed conflicts or hostilities in a foreign country. If found guilty, on his return to Kyrgyzstan he could be thrown into prison for five to eight years.

For Kyrgyzstan, such extremists pose a major security threat. Although leaders in Bishkek are enthusiastic about the activities of the Organization of Turkic States and support the further integration of Turkic-speaking countries, they are suspicious of ultra-nationalist extremists who want to establish a Great Turkestan at the expense of Kyrgyzstan and other Turkic countries. Despite Turkic countries wanting closer cooperation, they do not want to sacrifice their sovereignty to form a single entity, with the exception of Turkey, which under Erdogan sees itself as the leader and centre of the Turkic World.

Such an empowered Turkey would of course dramatically change the geopolitical situation and balance in Central Asia, something Moscow wants to avoid. It is for this reason that Moscow finds the strengthening of pan-Turkic ideology concerning, particularly since they are now demonstrating a willingness to fight Russian forces in the Ukrainian battlefield. Although this particular battalion will amount to nothing in Ukraine, it is their ideology spreading, coupled with battle experience, which is of great security concern for not only Russia, but also other Central Asian countries.

Ukrainian Servicemen Got Into Fatal Traffic Accident In Latvia
South Front, Nov 28 2022

The AFU suffered first losses in Latvia. A bus with Ukrainian military crashed into a truck near the border of Latvia and Estonia. The accident claimed life of at least one person. The accident took place near the city of Ainazhi on the evening of Nov 27. The bus with Ukrainian servicemen got into the accident on its way to Estonia. The bus driver was killed on the spot and 26 passengers were injured. Ten of them were hospitalized, including three of them being in serious condition. There is also an Estonian serviceman among the injured. The accident was confirmed by the Estonian Defense Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine commented on the incident:

They are provided with the necessary medical care, there are no threats to their lives. Diplomats also interact with law enforcement officers to find out the causes of the accident.

Officials of either side did not clarify why the Ukrainian servicemen were moving through the territory of Latvia and what was the purpose of their deployment in Estonia. Earlier, some media reported that some of the servicemen of the AFU will be deployed on the Russian-Estonian border in order to increase its security. However, there are still no official statements confirming these reports. The Ukrainian servicemen involved in the accident were likely training abroad by foreign military instructors. Tens of thousands of soldiers of the AFU are trained on a permanent basis in the countries of the EU, including Estonia and Latvia. Brussels has allocated about €16m for ammunition for training alone as part of the EUBAM Ukraine mission.

Russian Civic Society Forces Military Bureaucracy To React Promptly
South Front, Nov 27 2022

A few days ago, pro-Russian telegram channels were blown up by the news about problems with importing so-called dual-use items from China to Russia. First of all, the subject is quadcopters, body armor, radios, helmets, first-aid kits and other items of equipment that are purchased by Russians for troops taking part in the war in Ukraine. Obviously, despite the restructuring of the Russian economy into a war industry, improving the military supply is a difficult and time-consuming process. Since the beginning of the conflict, Russia has had difficulty providing a range of military items, partially covering this demand through purchases from China, Iran, and even, as some media reports claim, from North Korea.

Not expecting fierce resistance from Ukraine with the full support of the US and other NATO members, Putin had to face the bitter truth that the massive implementation of new weapons and equipment in the Russian army was often a show-off. Behind the numerous exhibitions and colorful presentations was a lack of equipment for the largest army in Europe in the items essential on the modern battlefield. Not surprisingly, this could not but affect the course of combat operations, when Russia faced sensitive defeats on the Kharkov and Kherson fronts. Nevertheless, by late fall the situation began to change. The appointment of a new commander Surovikin, the announced mobilization in Russia, and regular strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure led to a stabilization of the front and demonstrated the Kremlin’s serious preparations for the winter military campaign.

Under these conditions, the unexpectedly publicized information about the Russian customs ban on the import of dual-use goods from China demonstrates first of all the extreme bureaucratization of the supervisory bodies, as well as the attempts of the pro-American lobby in the Russian authorities to influence the supply of the Russian army. The incompetence of some Russian officials is evidenced even by such a small fact as the non-serviceable contact phone number of the Federal Customs Service of Russia, which one must use to call if there are problems with the transportation of Chinese cargo.

The emergence of this situation may also be a result of the willingness of government agencies to establish a centralized army supply in a short period of time, while ignoring the activities of volunteer organizations, which have been actively helping the Russian military since the beginning of the war. At the same time, Ukraine actively uses arms and humanitarian aid deliveries from abroad, not preventing but on the contrary encouraging these actions from its foreign allies in every possible way. The unresolved problems of supplying the army may play a key role for Moscow in further confrontation with Kiev, which is especially critical in light of the upcoming combat operations during the winter period.

UPDATE: The Federal Customs Service of Russia immediately reacted to the public demand and released the following statement on Nov 27:

Currently, the Federal Customs Service of Russia, together with the Ministry of Defense of Russia, has taken additional measures aimed at accelerating the import into the Russian Federation and timely custom clearance formalities of goods intended to support the combat and daily activities of military units of the Russian Federation. Coordination of supplies of goods for the needs of a Special military operation in Ukraine is carried out by the Russian Defense Ministry. When organizing and carrying out such deliveries, it is necessary to contact the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Please note that the import of dual-use goods not intended for the needs of the Special military operation, carried out in accordance with the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation in the field of export control.

The current situation reflects the contradictions in the Russian administrative executive staff which is the heritage of an inefficient and often corrupt peacetime bureaucratic system.

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