Key developments on Nov. 12-13:
- Ukrainian flag reportedly raised over Antonivsky Bridge connecting Kherson with Dnipro River’s east bank
- Military training program for Russian schools to be drafted by end of 2022, says UK Defense Ministry
- Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate almost 180 settlements in the south within a week.
Following the liberation of the southern city of Kherson on Nov. 11, Yaroslav Yanushevych, the oblast governor, asked people to avoid gathering in the central part of the liberated city as sappers need to demine it first.
"The enemy has mined nearly everything (in Kherson)," Yanushevych said. One Ukrainian deminer was killed and several wounded in Kherson Oblast on Nov. 13.
Despite the warning, photos from Kherson showed locals holding an impromptu rally to celebrate the liberation of the city that had spent eight months in Russian occupation. The city hasn’t been officially opened to the press yet.
The Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report that Russia's withdrawal from Kherson was eroding confidence in Vladimir Putin's commitment and ability to deliver his war promises. A day earlier, a pro-war Russian ideologist Alexander Dugin openly criticized Putin for surrendering Kherson, breaking the unspoken rule among top pro-Kremlin media personalities that criticisms about the war can’t be aimed at Putin himself.
"Direct criticism of Putin within the pro-war community is almost unprecedented, and Dugin's high-profile and unhinged attack on Putin may indicate a shift among the Russian nationalist ideologues," the ISW concluded.
On the battlefield
Ukraine's Southern Operational Command reported that the Ukrainian military liberated nearly 180 settlements in the south of the country within a week.
According to the report, from Nov. 7 to Nov. 13, Ukrainian troops liberated 179 towns and villages in southern Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts and 4,500 square kilometers of formerly Russian-occupied territories.
Soon, Ukrainian authorities also reported that Makiivka village in Luhansk Oblast was liberated. The eastern oblast has most of its territory occupied by Russia.
The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported on Nov. 13 that Russia has lost 650 troops in the past day, bringing the total number of Russian soldiers killed since the start of the full-scale invasion to 80,860.
The Ukrainian military also said that Russia amassed troops near Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Russian forces are bringing more troops and building fortifications around Melitopol, according to the report.
Russia decreased the number of its troops in occupied Kakhovka, Tavriysk, and Nova Kakhovka in Kherson Oblast, according to Ukraine's Armed Forces. The three towns stand on the east bank of the Dnipro River, upstream from the liberated Kherson on the west bank.
The military also said it hit a building where up to 500 Russian troops were located in the village of Dnipriany, Kherson Oblast. At least two trucks carrying bodies were reportedly taken to the occupied town of Tavriisk, 80 kilometers northeast of Kherson.
According to the General Staff, 56 badly wounded Russian soldiers were taken to the hospital after the attack.
Russia's school military training
Russia is currently drafting a military training program to be introduced in schools in a government-run initiative to improve the quality of conscripts, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update on Nov. 13.
The Russian Defense Ministry insists on at least 140 hours per academic year being devoted to training. Typically, an academic year averages 800 hours for children worldwide.
Russia has long aspired to improve the quality of its conscripts. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Moscow tried to bring back military programs to schools, but much remains unchanged eight years later, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry.
"The quality of Russian conscripts remains poor, with low morale and limited training," the report said.
A statistical analysis by Russian independent media outlet Mediazona suggests that by late October around 492,000 men have likely been conscripted into the army since Putin's announcement of a "partial mobilization" on Sept. 21.
Meanwhile, Putin said that Russia had conscripted 318,000 citizens, 49,000 of which are already fighting in Ukraine, according to the Russian state-controlled news agency TASS.
Putin has also signed a law allowing citizens with convictions for serious crimes to be called up for military service, TASS reported. Even before this law, Russia was continuously conscripting convicts to fight against Ukraine.
Attacks and casualties
Sumy Oblast Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky reported that Russian forces targeted the border region with 15 unguided missiles on Nov. 12. There were no casualties, according to the official.
In the south of the country, a village in Kherson Oblast was shelled.
The village of Hornostaivka came under fire from Grad multiple rocket launchers, according to Kherson Oblast Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych. Two women were killed, and six houses were destroyed, he reported.
Overnight on Nov. 13, Russia shelled the city of Nikopol as well as the Marhanets district, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko reported. Two women, aged 46 and 82 were injured in the attack and have been hospitalized.
In the city, over 40 high-rise and private buildings, more than two dozen commercial buildings, and several gas pipelines and power lines are damaged as a result of constant attacks, according to Reznichenko.
In Donetsk Oblast, the fighting killed two civilians in Bakhmut, one in Kurakove, and wounded one civilian in the southwestern part of the region over the past day, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the oblast governor.
Additionally, two bodies of civilians were discovered in the liberated settlements in the northern part of the region, according to him. They had been killed during the Russian occupation.