Ukraine signaled Monday that it is shifting its military tactics toward a more defensive footing after an analysis of Russia’s resource capabilities and as winter approaches.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak noted Monday that “on the front line and in the cities, we are already moving to a different tactic of warfare — effective defense in certain areas, continuation of offensive operations in other areas, special strategic operations on the Crimean peninsula and in the Black Sea waters, and significantly reformatted missile defense of critical infrastructure.”
Resources will be directed to increasing domestic arms production, he said, and speeding up negotiations with allies to increase equipment supplies for the “new stage” of Ukraine’s offensive operations.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that winter “as a whole, is a new phase of war,” with freezing temperatures making fighting far more difficult and the defense of critical energy infrastructure far more of a priority. Zelensky also signaled that the fortification of all front lines needed to be accelerated.
The shift has prompted some analysts to question whether the change reflects that Ukraine’s counteroffensive, launched back in June but failing to make as much progress as hoped, is over.
Eurasia Group founder and president Ian Bremmer commented Monday that “Ukrainians have shifted to building defensive fortifications, putting an end to the failed counteroffensive.” Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War noted Saturday that “poor weather conditions continue to slow the pace of Ukrainian and Russian combat operations across the entire frontline but have not completely halted them.”
Foreign Secretary: Britain to continue supporting Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Tuesday that the country would continue its support for Ukraine.
“We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he told the House of Lords during a monthly question session. Since February 2022, the UK has committed to economic and humanitarian support worth more than £4.7 billion ($5.9 billion) to Ukraine, Cameron noted.
He also said the level of support for Ukraine would remain the same, or even be enhanced, going forward.
Russia repeats that it is ready for negotiations with Ukraine
Moscow has repeated that it is ready for talks with Ukraine, with the Kremlin’s spokesman claiming Russia would prefer to negotiate through “political and diplomatic means.”
“The President has repeatedly said that the main thing for us is to achieve our goals [in Ukraine],” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told RTVI, Russian state news agency Tass reported.
“And, of course, we would prefer to do this primarily through political and diplomatic means. That’s why we remain ready for negotiations.”
Peskov again reiterated Moscow’s criticism of Ukraine for pulling out of previous negotiations. Kyiv has said it won’t hold talks with Moscow while Russian troops remain on its territory.
The Kremlin representative also commented on a report in the Izvestia newspaper, which stated that negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv could resume on the territory of one of the Western countries — for example, in Hungary. Peskov said that the idea could theoretically materialize.
Zelensky, top US officials to make case for Ukraine funding
Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky and top aides to US President Joe Biden will make their case to US senators on Tuesday about why a fresh infusion of military assistance is needed to help Ukraine repel Russian invaders.
US officials have said the United States will spend all it has available for Ukraine by the end of the year, a dire prediction that comes as Kyiv has struggled to make major advances in its 2023 counteroffensive against Russia.
Biden’s administration in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to pay for ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and US border security, but Republicans who control the House with a slim majority rejected the package.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a close Biden ally, announced on Monday night that the administration has invited Zelensky to address senators via secure video as part of a classified briefing on Tuesday “so we can hear directly from him precisely what’s at stake in this vote.”
In addition, a variety of top Biden officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, are expected to brief the senators on Tuesday.
Zelensky told Reuters in a November interview that despite the slow going, Ukraine would try to deliver battlefield results by the end of the year and that he remained sure Kyiv would eventually have success in the war despite difficulties at the front.
But the stalled drive to get US assistance has alarmed the Biden White House, which fears a failure to help Ukraine further would increase the likelihood of Russian victories.
Russians making ‘creeping advances’ around Marinka in Donetsk
Over recent weeks, Russian forces have made “creeping advances” through the ruins of Marinka, a front line town in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, the UK’s defense ministry noted Tuesday.
“Russia now likely controls most of the built-up area. However, Ukrainian forces remain in control of pockets of territory on the western edge of the town,” the ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Marinka has been on the front line since 2014. With a pre-war population of 9000, it is comprehensively ruined – drone footage suggests that the vast majority of buildings have been reduced to rubble,” the ministry added.
Russia’s renewed efforts against Marinka are part of its recent offensive in which it is “prioritizing extending Russia’s control over the remaining parts of the Donetsk Oblast [region] – highly likely still one of the Kremlin’s core war aims,” the UK said.
Finland eyes significant increase in artillery production for Ukraine
Finland could soon produce a “significant” amount of artillery ammunition for Ukraine, according to the country’s Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen.
“The plans are ready … to increase ammunition production in a significant way,” he said in a Google-translated interview with the Iltalehti newspaper, adding that “the purpose is to support Ukraine even more strongly than now.”
Häkkänen said that a decision on production would be made “very soon, probably before Christmas.”
Finland was the latest country to join the Western military alliance NATO earlier this year, ending decades of military non-alignment.
Helsinki approved its 20th military aid package, worth around 100 million euros ($108.1 million) for Ukraine in November. It brings the total amount of aid provided to Kyiv to around 1.5 billion euros.