The UN General Assembly condemns Russia's attempted annexation of conquered provinces. Ukrainian power and communications infrastructure recovered relatively rapidly from the continuing wave of Russian missile strikes. President Putin warns of "terrorist" attacks against infrastructure (it's an ambiguous warning--blame the Anglo-Saxons, but remember what the Russians can do to you).
Ukraine at D+231: Ukrainian infrastructure recovers from missile strikes.
Russian missile strikes, mostly with Iranian-supplied low-end cruise weapons ("kamikaze drones") and repurposed air defense missiles used in their secondary land-attack role continued into Thursday, the AP reports. The targets were, as they've been since the outset of retaliation for the damage to the Kerch Bridge, Ukrainian cities.
The UK's Ministry of Defense this morning sees Russian forces preparing new defensive lines. "After retreating around 20km in the north of the Kherson sector in early October, Russian forces are likely attempting to consolidate a new front line west from the village of Mylove. Heavy fighting continues along this line, especially at the western end where Ukrainian advances mean Russia’s flank is no longer protected by the Inhulets River. Most of the Russia troops on this front line remain understrength VDV (airborne) units. In recent days, the Russian occupation authorities have likely ordered preparation for the evacuation of some civilians from Kherson. It is likely that they anticipate combat extending to the city of Kherson itself."
On sanctions, the Economist reports mixed signs. The EU is teetering on the brink of recession, but there are indications that the Russian economy, while damaged, is seeing the beginnings of a recovery.
The UN votes to condemn Russia's annexation of four occupied Ukrainian provinces.
The United Nations General Assembly voted yesterday to condemn Russia's attempted annexation of conquered Ukrainian territory. The vote was one-hundred-forty-three to five, with thirty-five abstentions. "The resolution now passed in the Assembly, calls on all States, the UN and international organisations not to recognize any of Russia’s annexation claim and demands the immediate reversal of its annexation declaration," the UN said.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tweeted, "Grateful to 143 states that supported historic #UNGA resolution 'Territorial integrity of Ukraine: defending the principles of the UN Charter'. The world had its say - RF’s attempt at annexation is worthless & will never be recognized by free nations. Ukraine will return all its lands."
Reuters reported that the UN General Assembly had on Monday refused a Russian request that the resolution condemning its annexations be voted on in secret. The vote was public, which is how we know that only Belarus, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Syria voted with Russia.
Russia's representative argued that an open vote was simply part of Western "blackmail." Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, in his explanation to the General Assembly before the vote, denounced Western "hypocrisy" as well, because it supported the secession of constituent parts of the former Yugoslavia, and because it defends Taiwan's continued independence from China. The ambassador's peroration was as follows:
"Today we have gathered at a truly historical meeting. Here and now, the United States and its satellites are teaching us a lesson of 'desovereignization'.
"We regret that corrupt Western blackmailers who tried to tear out the voices of developing states were joined by the President of the General Assembly, whose procedural ploy on 10 October, the first day of the resumed special session, not only deprived member states of the opportunity to vote by a secret ballot without coercion, but also gave the blackmailers more time for their manipulations. I hope that despite all this, there will be enough delegations in this hall who will be ready to oppose the Western dictation and vote independently, not being scared of the eye of the 'Big Brother'.
"We call on the member states to look into this situation without bias and vote against the proposed draft resolution."
The member states voted against him nonetheless. POLITICO notes that the margin of approval was greater than most Western diplomats had expected. US President Biden issued a statement expressing US reaction to the vote:
"Today, the overwhelming majority of the world—nations from every region, large and small, representing a wide array of ideologies and governments – voted to defend the United Nations Charter and condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Ukrainian territory by force. 143 nations stood on the side of freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity—even more than the 141 nations that voted in March to unequivocally condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine. Only 4 chose to side with Russia—Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, and Syria.
"By attacking the core tenets of the UN Charter, Russia is tearing at the very foundations of international peace and security. The stakes of this conflict are clear to all—and the world has sent a clear message in response: Russia cannot erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia cannot change borders by force. Russia cannot seize another country’s territory as its own. Ukraine is entitled to the same rights as every other sovereign country. It must be able to choose its own future, and its people must be able to live peacefully inside its internationally recognized borders.
"Nearly eight months into this war, the world has just demonstrated that it is more united, and more determined than ever to hold Russia accountable for its violations. Together with the UN General Assembly, we will not tolerate illegal attempts at annexation or the theft of a neighbor’s land by force. We will stand up for international law, the UN Charter, and the rights and protections it affords to Ukraine and its people – and to every state and people everywhere."
Internet outages during missile strikes.
According to Bitdefender and others, some areas of Ukraine experienced Internet outages, mostly associated with power failures and physical disruption of communications links, during Monday's Russian missile strikes. "Data from Cloudflare indicated a 35% dip in internet availability as multiple explosions caused power outages. Cloudflare reported that the internet disruption had caused clear drops in traffic after 06:15 UTC on Monday in Kharkiv (approximately 80% less traffic), Lviv (approximately 60% drop) and also, to a lesser extent, in Ukraine's capital Kyiv." Both electrical and communications services have largely been restored. Ukrainian officials credit Starlink with an important role in the swift recovery, Reuters reports.
An essay in POLITICO argues that subscribing to a "narrative of fear" with respect to Russian cyberattacks against infrastructure would be doing the Kremlin's work. The essayists argue that energy infrastructure is an obvious target, but that the war so far has shown how effective cyber resilience can be in thwarting attacks. More to the point, there's the risk of disinformation and influence operations creating the appearance of an effective threat where there may in fact be none in the offing. (Both parts of this argument are seconded by an op-ed in the Japan Times.)
Sabotage and terrorism directed against infrastructure.
The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines remains under investigation, and TASS is authorized to disclose that Russia is displeased that Gazprom had not been invited to participate in the inquest. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the ambassadors of Germany, Sweden, and Denmark onto the carpet for a dressing down this morning. TASS quotes the Ministry as explaining, "It was stressed that if Russian experts are denied access to the ongoing investigation, Moscow will assume that the abovementioned countries have something to hide or that they are covering up the perpetrators of those terrorist acts. Naturally, Russia will not recognize any ‘pseudo-results’ of such an investigation unless Russian specialists participate."
Addressing an energy conference in Moscow, President Putin pointed, with grave and statesmanlike concern, to the Nord Stream sabotage as an example of a growing trend toward "terrorism" directed against infrastructure, the Telegraph reports. The sabotage sets, he said, "a dangerous precedent," something the global community should fear and take steps to address. The sabotage "shows that any critically important object of transport, energy or utilities infrastructure is under threat.” He wasn't concerned at the conference to name culprits (he's blamed NATO, or the US, for the sabotage; almost everyone else suspects Russia) merely to sound a warning.
State TV explains Russian strategy.
That warning, in the context of Russia's ongoing missile strikes against Ukrainian cities, has the character of a threat. Russian domestic state news has for some weeks now pushed hard for a harder war, the destruction of Ukraine's infrastructure, and the necessity of making the Anglo-Saxon puppetmasters pay for their Russophobic aggression.
Monday evening Russian state television offered an appreciation of that day's missile strikes, which we watched courtesy of the Russian Media Monitor. "This is the day!" the segment opened. "Finally Russia started to strike the Kyiv regime! Strike the decision-making centers as you promised! Banderite ghouls will pay for the Crimean bridge!" Split screen images showed explosions in Kyiv, none of them against obvious military or governmental targets, with the explosions accompanied by women's screams.
State television host Ivan Trushkin reviewed the news. "It's being said that no less than 100 missiles were launched toward Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine. Several explosions rocked the center of Kyiv next to the infamous decision-making centers: the office of Strategic Services, Zelensky's office, the government district on Hrushevky Street. However, the main objects were still intact. According to the head of Ukraine's armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, out of seventy-five missiles, air defense supposedly knocked down forty-one, more than half."
Mr. Trushkin reviewed some of the more visible damage. "Eyewitnesses report a major fire in Kyiv's Thermal Power Station. The subway in the capital of Ukraine is completely stopped." He noted with evident satisfaction that the BBC correspondent in Kyiv was near some of the strikes. "One of the missiles interrupted a BBC correspondent reporting live from Kyiv. During the weekend that company called the strike against our bridge a lawful act. Now the carefree attitude in the studio has vanished. They're very close to the front lines. Explosions have also been reported in other regions."
Bogdan Bezpalko, member of the Federal Council for Interethnic Relations, spoke next. "This should be continued for a lengthy period of time, for all of this infrastructure to be destroyed, to give Ukraine some food for thought," he said. "We need more of these images, correct?" host Trushkin interjected. Mr. Bezpalko explained that total destruction was the only solution. "In order to defeat Ukraine in this armed conflict, these strikes have to be carried out continuously, for two to five weeks, to totally disable all infrastructure. Every thermal power station, every thermal plant, all state district power plants, traction substations, all power lines, all railway junctions. Then Ukraine will descend into cold and darkness. They won't be able to deliver fuel or ammunition, and the Ukrainian army will turn into a crowd armed with pieces of metal. This has to be done constantly, repeatedly. Right now, Zelensky could use this event to demand more money and weapons. We should be constantly hammering them."
"I'm excited that at last we got the ball rolling," said military expert Konstantin Sivkov, "after seven months of silence." Another state television host, Andrey Norkin interposed to harsh the buzz."What was done this morning should have been done several months ago. Pardon me. Allow me to put my fly into the ointment of this excitement. Tomorrow, Zelensky will be calling into the G7. We should have ensured he physically couldn't do that."
Mr. Kazakov didn't like this at all, not because it was unduly bloodthirsty, but because, well, it would harsh the Russian buzz. "First of all, dear colleagues, in the first twenty minutes, you managed to ruin the day for tens of millions of our citizens who have been having fun all morning. You have jointly proven that all of it was pointless. If this doesn't continue tomorrow, it's ineffective. Andrey Vladimirovich, I'm not judging you. I'm stating facts. You managed to break the wave." Mr. Norkin was wounded. "Pardon me. Did I lie? Did I say something untrue? Are you trying to shame me? You're saying I ruined the mood of the people?" And yes, yes, he is saying that. Mr. Kazakov's last word was, "You shot down the wave of joy and satisfaction that I witnessed this morning in many people."