BAccording to Russian information, a warship of the Black Sea Fleet was hit by a Ukrainian drone attack on the annexed peninsula of Crimea. The minesweeper Ivan Golubez and facilities in a bay were slightly damaged, the Defense Ministry said in Moscow on Saturday. The attacks in Sevastopol were carried out under the guidance of British specialists in Ukraine, the ministry claimed. These units are also responsible for the attacks on the Baltic Sea gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2 in September, it said – also without presenting evidence.
The government in London rejected the allegations outraged. “To distract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian MoD resorts to spreading false claims of epic proportions,” the UK MoD said on Twitter. “This made-up story says more about disputes within the Russian government than about the West.”
Regarding the attack in Crimea, the Russian ministry said: “This morning at 4:20 a.m. the Kiev regime carried out a terrorist attack on the ships of the Black Sea Fleet.” A total of 16 drones attacked Sevastopol, but most were intercepted. The information could not be independently verified. Kyiv initially did not comment on the reports.
Ukraine has repeatedly stated that it wants to recapture Crimea, which Russia has occupied since 2014. The peninsular city of Sevastopol is important to Moscow as the base of the Black Sea Fleet. The peninsula is also repeatedly shaken by explosions, for which Russia blames Ukraine. Kyiv is mostly silent on this. On October 8, for example, the Kerch Bridge between Russia and Crimea, which is important for supplying supplies to the Russian invasion troops in Ukraine, was severely damaged by an explosion.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders believes that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin could be prosecuted by an international court because of the war. It is not his job to recommend the criminal prosecution of individuals, the Belgian politician told the “Hamburger Abendblatt” (Saturday). “But if prosecutors also want to start at the highest level, they should do it.”
300 billion frozen assets
Reynders said he was “pretty sure” that the first war crimes trials against Russians before the International Criminal Court would begin later this year. The EU commissioner also said that the assets of the Russian state and oligarchs frozen by the West could help with reconstruction in Ukraine. For example, the West could keep 300 billion euros from the Russian central bank’s foreign exchange reserves as a guarantee “until Russia voluntarily participates in the reconstruction of Ukraine”.
After Russia announced the end of the partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists for the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expects further waves of conscription from Moscow. “We are preparing for this,” he said in a video message distributed on Friday evening. Moscow will need even more reservists, said Zelenskyj, referring to the resistance in Ukraine and the victims in the ranks of Russian soldiers. Zelenskyy again commented on the power outages in the country as a result of the destruction of energy infrastructure by Russian missiles. Four million Ukrainians are currently living with the restrictions. Among other things, the capital Kyiv and the Sumy and Kharkiv regions were affected, he said.
“Advances are unlikely”
Military expert Niklas Masuhr sees serious problems for Moscow. Desolate troop morale and a lack of weapons would pose major problems for Russia in the winter. “Even without the influence of the Ukrainians, the winter will be a major challenge for the Russians,” said the researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the ETH University in Zurich of the German Press Agency. “For the Russians it’s still about digging in over the winter. The troops are in such bad condition that it is not clear if they can cope.”
Supplying the troops at the front becomes more difficult in winter, which further depresses morale. “Russia’s ability to attack in Ukraine is broken, further advances are unlikely,” he said. At the same time, there are no signs that the recent terror campaign with rocket and drone attacks has intimidated Ukrainians or that they are running out of momentum, Masuhr said.
He sees daily reports of mobilized Russian troops refusing to go into battle and of commanders having to force subordinates to the front lines at gunpoint. There is a lack of cohesion in the associations because the troops have now been thrown together, some with regular soldiers, some with prisoners and other young and old conscripts. “You can defend yourself with such a patchwork quilt, but offensives place higher demands on training and cohesion.”