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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky marks Armed Forces Day in Donbas, vows to push Russians out of Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea

by Asami Terajima December 6, 2022 11:08 PM 4 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Donetsk Oblast on Dec. 6, 2022. (President's Office)
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Key developments on Dec. 6
  • Zelensky visits Donetsk Oblast, vows to liberate Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea
  • Ukraine’s intelligence: Russia still has missiles for several more mass attacks
  • Third Russian airbase ablaze after a drone attack; no casualties reported
  • 60 Ukrainian service people freed in new prisoner exchange

President Volodymyr Zelensky paid an unannounced visit to Donetsk Oblast on Dec. 6, Ukraine's Armed Forces Day.

"Today, the east of Ukraine is the most difficult direction, and I am honored to be here now with our defenders in Donbas," Zelensky said in the video recorded near a sign saying Sloviansk – a city located some 45 kilometers north of fiercely contested Bakhmut.

"I believe that next time we will meet in Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, and I am sure in Crimea as well," Zelensky said in another video, standing amongst a group of Ukrainian soldiers.

Zelensky called for a moment of silence to honor fallen soldiers "who, unfortunately, remained on the battlefield."

For months, Zelensky has repeatedly stressed the severity of the situation in Bakhmut as Russia throws troops and equipment en masse in its months-long desperate attempts to capture the city.

Nearly 90% of some 80,000 residents have fled Bakhmut due to the life-threatening situation, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Dec. 5.

Another prisoner exchange took place on Dec. 6.

60 Ukrainian service members return home in new prisoner exchange with Russia

Sixty Ukrainian soldiers were released from Russian captivity, President's Office Head Andriy Yermak said. The Russian Defense Ministry also reported the return of the same number of Russian soldiers.

Meanwhile, a third Russian airbase caught fire this week. The governor of Russia's bordering Kursk Oblast, Roman Starovoit, reported early morning that an oil storage tank near an air base was set ablaze by a drone strike.

On Dec. 5, air bases in Saratov and Ryazan oblasts, deep inside Russia, were allegedly hit.

Ukraine has not officially commented on the attacks.

Dwindling missile supplies

Head of Ukraine's Intelligence Directorate Kyrylo Budanov said Russia appears to have enough missiles left to launch several more mass attacks on Ukraine despite its unsustainable weapon consumption rate.

Budanov suggested that Russia appears to be "critically low" on high-precision weapons, with its missile production capability "limited."

Various intelligence reports have signaled that Russia is running low on weapon supplies, especially precision missiles, but its arms stockpile remains a tightly guarded secret.

Since Oct. 10, Russia has already launched six large-scale nationwide missile strikes targeting Ukraine's energy infrastructure, killing dozens in total and causing widespread emergency blackouts.

According to a Dec. 5 report published by Conflict Armament Research, a British weapons research group, Russia continues to produce missiles despite sanctions.

After collecting remnants of Russian missiles fired on Nov. 23, the group said some of them were "almost certainly manufactured – at the latest – just two months prior to their use."

Since Oct. 10, Russia has already launched six large-scale nationwide missile strikes targeting Ukraine's energy infrastructure, killing dozens in total and causing widespread emergency blackouts.

Russia's apparent ability to manufacture advanced guided missiles such as the Kh-101 suggests that it has found ways to acquire components, such as semiconductors, despite sanctions, the New York Times reported, citing one of the researchers.

It added that another possibility is that Russia had a stockpile of components beforehand.

How Russia loses allies, influence amid its aggression against Ukraine

Attacks and casualties

Liberated parts of southern Kherson Oblast faced another day of Russian shelling. The attack hit residential buildings and "an infrastructure facility" in Kherson, killing a 43-year-old worker, Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said.

Near Kherson, law enforcement said it discovered a district court building-turned-detention center where over 100 people are believed to have been detained during the Russian occupation.

In the northeastern Kharkiv Oblast, Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported that Russian shelling continued, killing a 68-year-old man over the past day.

Following Russia's latest mass attack that killed four and hit energy facilities in at least three regions on Dec. 5, emergency blackouts were reintroduced across Ukraine.

The following day, the Health Ministry recommended suspending non-urgent surgeries and hospitalizations to prioritize emergency care during possible electricity cut-offs.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal reported that the electricity deficit in Ukraine is currently at 19%, but repairs are underway.

According to Forbes Ukraine's estimates, Russia spent around $400-500 million to launch a nationwide attack against Ukraine on Dec. 5.

Ukraine downs 60 Russian missiles amid another mass strike on energy system
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