Last week, between November 21 and 27, the Joint Forces Operation in eastern Ukraine reported 43 ceasefire violations on the part of Russian-backed forces—down 43% from the week prior. Unfortunately, three Ukrainian soldiers were injured, and one killed, by occupation forces between the 21st and 27th.
While ceasefire violations may have declined this past week, tensions between Ukraine (and the West) and Russia have increased greatly. On November 21, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, told Military Times that Russia is preparing for an invasion in late January/early February 2022. This past week saw both Ukrainian and Russian military exercises: Russian occupation forces held “large-scale command and staff exercises” in Donetsk and Luhansk on November 22, and two days later, Russian fighter planes and ships staged drills in the Black Sea while Ukrainian security agencies launched a special joint border operation (Operation Polissia) on the border with Belarus. That same day (November 24), the Ukrainian government allocated UAH 175 million (almost $6.46 million) to strengthen protection of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border amid the emerging migrant crisis.
On November 22, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov told representatives of the US Senate at the Halifax International Security Forum that “by sending troops to the Ukrainian border, Russia is trying to aggravate the security situation in the region as much as possible to raise the stakes at the negotiating table.” That same day, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke on the phone with the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi to discuss the escalating security situation in Ukraine.
On November 23, CNN reported that the Biden administration is considering sending additional military assistance – including new Javelin missiles as well as mortars – to Ukraine in response to the increasing threat from Russia. Additionally, CNN reports, US officials have shared with senior Ukrainian officials evidence that Russia’s security service, the FSB, “is engaging in destabilizing activities inside Ukraine to foment dissent against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's administration. They have also pointed to the presence of Spetsnaz special forces and GRU and SVR intelligence operatives near Ukraine's borders.”
On November 25, the US Navy’s guided missile destroyer Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) set sail for the Black Sea to join NATO partners in the region.