Russia to Launch Military Training in Its Schools in 2023, UK Says

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update on Ukraine that Russian Education Minister Sergey Kravstov has said that “military training will return to Russian schools, beginning in September 2023.”

This training included “contingencies for a chemical or nuclear attack, first aid and experience handling and firing Kalashnikov rifles.”

According to the report, “Russian officials attempted to revive this training in 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Crimea. It was hoped that the initiative would improve the quality of conscripts. Eight years later, little has changed, and the quality of Russian conscripts remains poor, with low morale and limited training.”

Russia is now drafting the curriculum for the training program, the report said. The development of the curriculum is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will then undergo an approvals process.

“This training likely intends to prepare students with military skills as they approach conscription age and to increase the take-up for mobilization and conscription drives,” the report said. “This initiative is also likely to be part of a wider project to instill an ideology of patriotism and trust in public institutions in the Russian population.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the victory of Ukrainian troops in Kherson on Saturday.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said that defense forces have won back control of more than 60 settlements in the Kherson region and promised that Ukrainian troops will “liberate our entire land from the invaders.”

But the Ukrainian president also cautioned vigilance. While people are celebrating in Kherson, further east in the Donetsk area, he said, brutal battles are being fought every day.

“It’s hell there,” he said.

As the Russian forces withdrew from Kherson, Zelenskyy said, they destroyed critical infrastructure there, including communications, the water supply, and plants supplying heat and electricity. He also cautioned Kherson residents that retreating Russian soldiers had mined the area.

“Almost 2,000 explosive items have already been removed from the areas but there is a lot more to be done,” he said.

Images by the Planet Lab, a data imaging service, show Russian troops digging trenches and building fortifications on the east bank of the Dnipro River, according to images published on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Images taken Nov. 10 show a new line of trenches almost 2 kilometers long along the riverbank north of the Kakhovskaya dam. Satellite photos also confirm that the Russian army blew up several spans of a bridge leading to the Kakhovskaya dam.

The White House hailed as an “extraordinary victory” Ukraine’s liberation of the city of Kherson from Russia, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Saturday.

“It does look as though the Ukrainians have just won an extraordinary victory in Kherson, where the one regional capital that Russia had seized in this war is now back under a Ukrainian flag — and that is quite a remarkable thing,” he told reporters while accompanying President Joe Biden to the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

His comments came after Zelenskyy declared Kherson “ours” in a video message on Telegram.

Grain initiative

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Saturday with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken discussed with Kuleba the United States’ unwavering commitment to assist Ukraine with accelerated humanitarian aid and winterization efforts to mitigate the damage from Russia’s continued attacks on critical infrastructure.

The two officials also talked about Ukraine’s continued effectiveness on the battlefield, and Blinken reiterated that “the timing and substance of any negotiation framework remains Ukraine’s decision.”

Blinken and Kuleba reaffirmed the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative’s renewal before it expires Nov. 19 and its role in supporting global food security.

Russia says it wants unhindered access to markets for its own food and fertilizer exports as part any renewal of the grain initiative that allows Ukraine to export grain from Black Sea ports. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of playing “hunger games” with the world.

Russian threat

No one should “underestimate the continuing threat posed by the Russian Federation,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement Saturday welcoming the Russian withdrawal from Kherson and proclaiming that Britain and the international community will continue to support Ukraine.

Addressing Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson, Wallace also posed the question, “Now with that also being surrendered, ordinary people of Russia must surely ask themselves ‘What was it all for?’”

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