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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky says military coming up with plans to ‘move forward faster’ and strike Russia ‘unexpectedly’

by Alexander Khrebet and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 5, 2023 11:38 PM 6 min read
Ukrainian soldiers firing artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, on Nov. 1, 2023. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Nov. 5:

  • Zelensky: Ukraine considers new military strategy
  • Military reports damaging Russian cruiser in occupied Crimea
  • Ukrainian forces repel Russian attack in five sectors
  • Russian missile strike on infrastructure injures 3 in Odesa Oblast
  • Zelensky says soldiers' deaths at award ceremony 'could have been avoided'

Ukraine’s military is considering different options to "move forward faster" and strike Russia "unexpectedly," President Volodymyr Zelensky told NBC News on Nov. 5.

In response to a question of whether Ukraine was looking at a shift in strategy to try to gain the upper hand in the war, Zelensky said, “Our military is coming up with different plans, with different operations in order to move forward faster and to strike the Russian Federation unexpectedly."

“But bare-handed (this is) impossible to do without weapons, without the proper weapons,” Zelensky said in reference to Ukraine’s lack of necessary military equipment to carry out operations.  

During the interview, Zelensky admitted Ukraine's progress had been slow and there was "fatigue" as the war stretched on, but he said Ukraine's military was still more motivated than Russia’s.

The president also rebuffed recent suggestions by Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi that the war had reached an impasse.

In an interview and op-ed published in the Economist on Nov. 1, Zaluzhnyi said that the war was in danger of moving into a "positional" stage, saying the latest stage of the war is characterized by "static and attritional fighting" that will allow Russia to restore its military power.

The commander-in-chief’s interview and op-ed offered a sobering view of the state of the war, including referring to the current situation as a "stalemate” — an assessment the president said during the NBC interview he does not share.

Zaluzhnyi’s comments come five months after the Ukrainian military started its much-anticipated counteroffensive in early June. Focused on several axes in the east and south of the country, the large-scale operation has brought limited gains.

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Military reports damaging Russian cruiser 'Askold' in Crimea in Nov. 4 attack

Satellite images published on Nov. 5 show that Ukraine's attacks on Crimea on Nov. 4 damaged the Russian "Askold” cruise missile carrier, Navy Captain Andrii Ryzhenko told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's investigative program Schemes.

"You can see that it's still afloat, but the upper part of the ship is significantly damaged," Ryzhenko said.

According to RFE/RL, the Askold ship can carry up to eight Kalibr missiles, which Russian forces use to attack infrastructure across Ukraine.

Earlier on Nov. 4, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk announced that Ukrainian forces had targeted a Russian ship carrying Kalibr missiles in a strike on Russian-occupied Crimea without specifying its name.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the Ukrainian strike damaged a ship located in a shipyard in Kerch, a city in Crimea, Russian state-controlled media reported on Nov. 4.

Sergey Aksyonov, head of the illegal Russian occupation government in Ukraine's Crimea, wrote on Telegram that air defense was at work near a shipyard in the city of Kerch.

Debris from one of the intercepted missiles fell onto one of the dry docks, Aksyonov said. There were no reported casualties.

The Russian Defense Ministry later claimed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched a strike using 15 cruise missiles at a shipbuilding plant in Kerch. Russian air defenses reportedly shot down thirteen cruise missiles.

Ukrainian forces also destroyed a Russian "Pole-21" electronic warfare system, General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander of the Tavria Group fighting on the southern front lines, reported on Nov. 5.

Tarnavskyi did not provide further details but said the system was "designed to suppress satellite navigation channels."

Since mid-July, drones and missiles have regularly targeted Russian military depots and infrastructure in occupied Crimea and southern regions.

The attacks on Russian-occupied Crimea and the naval targets nearby have substantially increased over the summer.

The strikes have largely focused on Russian logistics routes in and out of Crimea, as well as targeted ammunition depots of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, stationed in the occupied port city of Sevastopol.

Crimea is the central logistics hub for Russian forces in southern Ukraine.

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On the battlefield

Russian forces launched two missile strikes, 34 airstrikes, and conducted 36 artillery barrages against Ukrainian forces’ positions and settlements, killing and injuring civilians over the past day, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in its evening update on Nov. 5.

The military also said that Russia attacked Ukraine with one Kh-59 missile and one Kh-31P missile. Ukrainian air defense downed four reconnaissance drones and the Kh-59 missile, while another missile hit the infrastructure site and residential area.

The General Staff didn’t specify the site attacked. However, the Southern Command reported that Russian forces struck an infrastructure facility in Odesa Oblast with a Kh-31P missile launched from the Black Sea on Nov. 5, injuring three people.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Air Force struck Russian positions and military hardware 10 times, the military said without providing further details.

Ukrainian artillery hit three Russian artillery pieces and four personnel positions, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the situation in the southern and eastern front lines “remains difficult,” with 44 combats over the past day, the military said.

Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in five sectors: Kupiansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka, and Zaporizhzhia axes.

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Zelensky says soldiers' deaths at award ceremony 'could have been avoided'

Ukraine has launched an investigation into the deaths of soldiers in the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade and changes will be made in the military to address negligence, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address on Nov. 5.

A Russian attack during a military award ceremony in Zaporizhzhia Oblast allegedly killed over 20 soldiers on Nov. 3, although the exact number has not yet been confirmed.

Zelensky passed on his condolences to the relatives of those killed but mentioned that the tragedy “could have been avoided.”

“Defense Minister (Rustem) Umerov reported to me about the measures taken to find out all the circumstances of what happened, who specifically gave what orders. Criminal proceedings were also registered as a result of the tragedy,” the president said.

“The main thing is to establish the full truth about what happened, and to prevent this from happening again.”

The president promised to implement changes in the armed forces to address negligence, Soviet-era practices, and bureaucracy.

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