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Ukraine war latest: Russia reportedly suffers 'some of highest' casualty rates over past 6 weeks

by Daria Shulzhenko and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 27, 2023 10:49 PM 7 min read
Ukrainian tanks ride on a road outside Avdiivka, Donetsk region, on November 13, 2023, amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov /AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Nov. 27:

  • Russian casualty rates' some of highest' over last 6 weeks, UK Defense Ministry says
  • Ukrainian resistance blows up car with pro-Russian Chechen fighters near Melitopol;
  • Ukraine reportedly hits aircraft factory in Russia's Smolensk
  • SBU says Kherson regional council member supplies Russia with fuel, food
  • Russian media: Russian company imports aircraft and helicopter parts from Ukrainian factories
  • Military officials charged over illegally selling army food supplies
  • Russian attack on power plant in front-line Ukrainian region causes power outage

Over the past six weeks, Russian troops have likely suffered "some of the highest" casualty rates in Ukraine, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Nov. 27.

The heavy losses "have largely been caused" by Russia's offensive against Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast, the ministry said.

Throughout November, Russia's losses reached a daily average of 931 troops, the ministry reported, citing the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces. As of Nov. 27, Russia has lost around 325,580 troops in Ukraine.

"Although Defense Intelligence cannot verify the methodology, taken as a total including both killed and wounded, the figures are plausible," reads the update.

The Ukrainian military had previously reported that Russian forces lost around 10,000 soldiers, more than 100 tanks, over 250 other armored vehicles, and seven Su-25 aircraft in the month of fighting near Avdiivka.

Before that, the deadliest month for Russian forces was March this year, with an average of 776 losses per day at the peak of Russia's assault against the city of Bakhmut, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry.

Russian forces intensified ground attacks against Avdiivka and surrounding settlements in early October in an attempt to encircle the town. The campaign has been supported by heavy shelling and air strikes, which continue to inflict casualties among civilian residents.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote on Nov. 25 that Russian troops continued operations near Avdiivka and had made a "confirmed advance."

Geolocated videos posted on Nov. 24 indicate that Russian forces advanced north of Krasnohorivka, a settlement seven kilometers northwest of Avdiivka, according to the ISW.

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Attacks in Russia, occupied Melitopol

Ukrainian forces struck an aircraft plant in the Russian city of Smolensk overnight on Nov. 27, Hromadske media outlet reported, citing its source in Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR).

Later in the day, Hromadske updated the report, saying that HUR confirmed that the strike was their "special operation." No further details were provided.

Local Telegram channels reported explosions in Smolensk, western Russia, late on Nov. 26. Russian Defense Ministry later claimed its forces had intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the Smolensk region at around 11 p.m. Moscow time.

The acting governor of Russia's Smolensk region, Vasily Anokhin, claimed there were no damages to infrastructure and casualties.

Smolensk lies nearly 400 kilometers southwest of Moscow and around 300 kilometers from the Russian-Ukrainian border.

The exiled mayor of occupied Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, also reported on Nov. 27 that the local Ukrainian resistance allegedly blew up a car with Chechen soldiers fighting on Russia's side near his city.

Local residents reported gunfire near the village of Myrne, lying a few kilometers north of Melitopol in the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, over last weekend, according to Fedorov.

A fight took place between Chechen fighters loyal to dictator Ramzan Kadyrov and Ukrainian partisans, the exiled mayor said. While the Chechens were waiting in their car for assistance, the vehicle reportedly blew up and burnt down.

The number of those killed in the attack has not yet been confirmed, Fedorov said.

Melitopol, a city with a pre-war population of about 150,000 people, has been occupied since March 2022. The Ukrainian resistance has been active here since then, reportedly detonating a car with Russian soldiers last month.

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Suspected treason

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on Nov. 27 reported that a Ukrainian regional council member in Russian-occupied Kherson is suspected of treason for supplying Russian occupying forces with fuel and food through multiple companies under his control.

The SBU said that council member Yurii Kovalev re-registered more than 20 companies under his control under Russian legislation.

One company owned by Kovalev reportedly exported over 35,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain to Russia this year, worth Hr 140 million ($3.86 million) in total.

Kovalev also controls gas stations that refuel Russian military equipment, including tanks, and a company that supplies ration packs for some of the Russian soldiers occupying in the region, the SBU said.

These companies pay taxes and fees to the Russian state budget, with one of his agricultural companies paying over $33,000 to Russia in August 2022 alone, according to the SBU.

In a different report on Nov. 27, the SBU said some military officials in Kyiv Oblast were charged over illegally selling food from the Armed Forces' supplies for personal gain.

In collusion with private entrepreneurs, the officials allegedly stole at least 30% of the military food supplies stored in one warehouse, which were then sold in shops, restaurants, and markets, the bureau said.

In another scheme, a military official of the unit issued "empty" invoices for supplies worth "millions of hryvnias" to a private company that was never delivered, according to the bureau.

The corruption schemes led to the embezzlement of at least Hr 5 million ($138,000) in public funds. The military officials face up to 15 years in prison.

On the same day, independent Russian news outlet Important Stories published an investigation finding that spare parts used to repair Russian military airplanes and helicopters appear to have been imported from a number of Ukrainian factories.

Customs data reportedly shows that Avia FED Service, a Moscow-based spare parts dealer, supplied the Russian aircraft sector with $7.3 million worth of spare parts between January 2022 and July 2023.

Important Stories assessed that over half of the total value of these parts, or $4.2 million, came from Ukraine.

This number reportedly includes $1.4 million worth of spare parts for repairing Antonov An-124 transport planes, imported from Kharkiv's "FED" Machine-Building Plant.

The media also said that Russia used to account for around 70% of the company's sales, but the plant "officially stopped all deliveries to Russia" in 2014 following the Russian occupation of Crimea and Donbas.

The investigation showed that other factories that have supplied parts include the Motor Sich aircraft engine manufacturer in Zaporizhzhia.

In October 2022, Motor Sich President Viacheslav Bohuslaiev was arrested for treason and collaborating with Russia, as was Oleh Dzyuba, Motor Sich's former chief of foreign economic activity.

Important Stories said that the Kharkiv Aggregate Design Bureau, the "Radar" and "Artem" factories in Kyiv, and companies in France, the U.S., and the U.K. also appear to have delivered spare parts.

The Kyiv Independent has not independently confirmed the investigation's findings.

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Russian attack causes power outages in front-line Ukrainian region

Russian troops launched an attack on a front-line Ukrainian region overnight on Nov. 27, damaging a thermal power plant operated by the country's energy giant DTEK, the company reported.

DTEK does not specify where plants that are hit by strikes are located for security reasons.

Residents of a nearby settlement were left without power following the overnight attack, according to the DTEK.

The company said this was Russia's fifth strike on front-line DTEK facilities over the last month.

DTEK's head, Maksym Timchenko, said on Nov. 17 that Ukraine needed more Western air defense systems, such as Patriot and IRIS-T, to better protect its critical infrastructure from Russian attacks.

From fall 2022 to winter 2023, Russia launched a series of mass strikes across the country, targeting critical infrastructure sites and causing widespread power outages. Local authorities were forced to install power cut schedules to preserve electricity.

In October, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that this winter, Russia will attempt to demolish Ukraine's energy infrastructure with more attacks.

"They cannot understand that Ukraine will not be conquered anyway. But (Russian troops) will try to launch more attacks and have more attempts to bypass our defenses," Zelensky said. "We realize the threat completely."

So far the power situation across the country has been rather stable, even as Russia continues to target critical infrastructure.

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