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The onset of winter saw energy facilities being targeted in a Russian drone attack.
Europe Ukraine

The onset of winter saw energy facilities being targeted in a Russian drone attack.

According to Ukrainian officials, a significant drone attack carried out by Russia caused power failures in over 400 towns and villages across the nation on Saturday.

From 8 p.m. on Friday until 4 a.m. on Saturday, Ukraine’s air defense successfully took down 29 out of 38 Shahed drones, which were launched from Russian territory and made in Iran.

According to the energy department, 416 communities in the southern Odesa region and southeastern Zaporizhzhia region lost power due to damage from the strikes. An oil refinery in the Odesa region was also affected.

According to a statement on the Telegram messaging app from the south military command, an administrative building was harmed and a civilian was injured in the attack.

According to the military, two infrastructure buildings were reportedly damaged in the overnight strike in Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv region, near the borders of Russia and Belarus.

The Ministry of Energy reported that six areas in the Chernihiv region were experiencing power outages.

Officials reported that the drones were aimed at Kyiv in the second assault of the month. They stated that all drones en route to the city were successfully intercepted and destroyed.

Authorities are advising citizens and companies to make necessary preparations for potential renewed assaults from Russia targeting the energy infrastructure as winter approaches.

Ground combat

The British Defense Ministry released a daily intelligence update on Saturday regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The report stated that there has been significant ground fighting in three regions over the past week: the Kupiansk axis in Luhansk oblast, Avdiivka in Donetsk oblast, and the left bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson oblast. It was noted that Ukrainian forces have successfully established a bridgehead in the latter area.

According to the report, there were significant casualties in Avdiivka for Russia, but both sides have made little advancement in all areas.

On Friday, the Ukrainian military announced on social media that they had successfully established “a presence in multiple strategic locations” on the eastern side of the Dnipro River, close to the important southern city of Kherson.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces reported on Friday that they are attempting to remove Russian troops from the Dnipro region in order to prevent them from targeting civilian areas on the west bank, which is controlled by Ukraine.

Russia acknowledged that Ukrainian forces had regained control of some land on the opposite side.

Media crackdown continues

The Justice Ministry of Russia has added The Moscow Times, an online newspaper that is well-liked by expats in Russia, to their list of “foreign agents.” This is part of Russia’s ongoing efforts to suppress news outlets and opposition groups that speak out against their actions in Ukraine.

Individuals and organizations who are designated as foreign agents will face more thorough financial monitoring and must prominently display their status as a foreign agent in all public materials. This label is intended to damage the credibility of the designated party.

It was unclear at first how The Moscow Times would be impacted by the decision, as they had relocated their editorial operations outside of Russia in 2022 due to a law that introduced severe consequences for content that was deemed to discredit the Russian military and their involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian government has systematically focused on individuals and groups who criticize the Kremlin, labeling them as foreign operatives and others as “undesirable” according to a law passed in 2015. This law makes being a member of these organizations a punishable offense.

The Moscow Times is available in both English and Russian, however, its Russian version was banned in Russia a few months after the start of the Ukraine war.

Ukraine EU membership

Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, reaffirmed his government’s stance against Ukraine’s negotiations for EU membership. Speaking at a Fidesz party congress on Saturday, he stated that Ukraine is currently far from meeting the requirements for EU membership. He also declared his determination to resist any efforts by the EU to relocate migrants to Hungary.

Orban, who has been locked in a dispute with Brussels over EU funds frozen because of his government’s democratic backsliding, this week said the EU’s strategy of sending money and military aid to Ukraine had failed, and that he opposed starting membership negotiations with Kyiv.

Joining the EU is a primary focus for Ukraine. Discussions about membership will take place at an upcoming EU meeting.

A high-ranking EU official stated on Friday that membership discussions are in jeopardy due to potential Hungarian resistance, which could impede the unanimity of all 27 EU countries.

As Hungary recovers from an inflation crisis, Orban, a nationalist leader, has begun to actively campaign for the upcoming European parliamentary elections in June.

“We will oppose the radical notions of the EU officials in Brussels, the influx of migrants, the promotion of gender ideologies, and we will also resist the false beliefs surrounding the conflict in Ukraine and the unpreparedness of Ukraine for EU membership,” stated Orban to his party, which has held power since 2010.

A senior official, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated on Friday that there is currently no consensus within the bloc to provide Kyiv with an additional $54 billion in aid.

According to the official, the European Commission’s plan to modify its budget for the next 6 years in order to allocate funds for Ukraine has faced criticism from multiple sources within the bloc.

One official, who is helping to organize a summit for the national leaders of 27 EU member states on December 14-15 in Brussels, stated that the leaders were beginning to understand the high costs associated with the event. They questioned how they would cover these expenses.

The negative remarks showcase the growing exhaustion and darker atmosphere among the Western supporters of Kyiv as the conflict continues.

The Associated Press and Reuters provided some of the information in this report.