Key developments on Nov. 22:
- Germany delivers over 20 Marder armored vehicles to Ukraine
- EU sends tranche of 1.5 billion euros in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine
- Military reports destroying almost 80% of Russian equipment near Avdiivka
- North Macedonia secretly trains Ukrainian soldiers
- Ukrainian military: Dozens of Russian marines killed at award ceremony
- Military: Russia 'dramatically' increasing assaults, airstrikes on southern front
Germany handed over 20 Marder armored vehicles, a Wisent-1 demining tank, 2,380 155mm shells, and other aid in its latest delivery to Ukraine, the German government said on Nov. 22.
Berlin previously provided Kyiv with 80 Marder infantry fighting vehicles drawn from military and industry stocks.
The delivery also included five Warthog ambulance carriers, two other ambulances, two 8x8 Hx81 tractors with two semi-trailers, and nine transport vehicles of various types. Ukraine received 2,428 crypto phones.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced a $1.4-billion defense aid package for Ukraine during his visit to Kyiv on Nov. 21.
This new package includes four IRIS-T SLM air defense systems, 20,000 155mm shells, and anti-tank mines, Pistorius said.
The same day, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said it delivered 3 million units of 7.62x51mm small arms ammunition, remote detonation systems, and winter equipment to the Ukrainian military.
Lithuania on Nov. 10 announced it had supplied Ukraine with National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian parliament on Nov. 22 ratified an agreement to provide armored transport vehicles to Ukraine, together with corresponding armament and spare parts, the Bulgarian News Agency reported.
The agreement between the Bulgarian Interior Ministry and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry was supported by 131 Bulgarian lawmakers, with 49 voting against and one abstaining.
The deal was signed in Sofia on Aug. 8 and in Kyiv on Nov. 13.
The vehicles in question are no longer needed by the country's Interior Ministry, the news agency reported, without specifying the type or the number of the vehicles.
In addition, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called on Ukraine's allies during the 17th Ramstein-format meeting on Nov. 22 to strengthen Ukraine's air defenses ahead of the coming winter months.
Russia launched a mass wave of attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure during the fall and winter of 2022-2023, causing regular blackouts.
EU sends 1.5 billion euros in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine
The European Union has sent the latest 1.5 billion euro ($1.6 billion) installment of its macro-financial assistance package to Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Nov. 22.
The tranche is part of an 18 billion euro ($19.6 billion) support package for 2023, known as the Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) package for Ukraine, which is disbursed in monthly tranches.
The package aims to assist Ukraine with paying for essential public services, maintaining macroeconomic stability, and restoring critical infrastructure destroyed by Russian attacks.
"Europe's funding has supported Ukraine's economic stability and public services since the start of Russia’s war," von der Leyen said on X.
EU support to Ukraine "has now reached €85 billion ($92.7 billion)," with "more to come."
The European Parliament voted in October to endorse a proposal for a $53 billion financing package for Ukraine's recovery until 2027.
Meanwhile, the European Union has prepared a framework to provide Ukraine with long-term security assistance, including the continued provision of weapons, training of Ukrainian troops, and support for Ukraine's domestic defense industry, Bloomberg reported on Nov. 21, citing internal EU documents.
The proposed measures will be discussed with EU ambassadors in the upcoming week and with senior EU leadership in December, according to the report.
The proposed G7 security guarantees would entail explicit and long-lasting obligations, as well as bolster Ukraine's ability to resist Russian aggression. They would also cover sanctions, financial aid, and post-war reconstruction.
The proposal comes as it appears likely the EU will fail to deliver on its pledge of one million shells to Ukraine by March 2024.
Weapons provisions from the EU would continue to operate under The European Peace Facility, in which member states are reimbursed for military aid sent to Ukraine.
North Macedonia secretly trains Ukrainian soldiers
North Macedonia completed the training of the first group of Ukrainian soldiers, a process kept confidential until now for security reasons, Balkan Insight reported on Nov. 22, citing the country's Defense Minister Slavjanka Petrovska.
The Balkan country will continue the training throughout 2024 and "for as long as there is a need for it," Petrovska said in a comment for the national broadcaster Macedonian Television on Nov. 22.
The minister said that the instructions took place in facilities owned by the North Macedonian military, but she did not clarify the type of training or the number of Ukrainian soldiers that went through it.
A NATO member since 2020, North Macedonia has provided Ukraine with a number of Soviet-era military hardware as it is restocking with Western equipment. The supplied aid includes four Su-25 aircraft, T-72 tanks, small arms, munitions, and other support.
The country's government also reportedly approved the provision of combat helicopters earlier this year.
Over 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have already received training in partner countries since the start of the full-scale invasion, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said on Nov. 21.
On the battlefield
Russia deployed several columns of armored vehicles during unsuccessful attacks near Avdiivka on Nov. 22, losing almost 80% of equipment, the Tavria group spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun said.
Russian forces continue trying to surround Avdiivka, launching 13 unsuccessful attacks against the front-line town and settlements on its flanks, Shtupun said today on television.
According to the spokesperson, Russian forces are dealing with desertion, and seven Russian soldiers surrendered to Ukrainian troops on Nov. 21.
Russian forces intensified ground attacks against Avdiivka and surrounding settlements in early October in an attempt to encircle the town. The campaign has been supported by heavy shelling and air strikes, which continue to inflict casualties among civilian residents.
Shtupun warned on Nov. 18 that Russia is preparing to launch the third wave of attacks against Avdiivka.
Russia's onslaught against Avdiivka, the gateway to occupied Donetsk, has been very costly for Moscow.
Russia has been trying to capture the small industrial town just north of occupied Donetsk since 2014.
On the southeastern front lines, Russian forces have significantly increased assaults and airstrikes, but Ukrainian troops have hindered Russian gains, General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander of the Tavria Group, reported on Nov. 22.
Russian forces have carried out 29 airstrikes and almost 1,000 artillery barrages over the past day, according to Tarnavskyi.
During their assaults, Russian forces suffered heavy losses, totaling up to 500 casualties, as well as three tanks, several other pieces of military hardware, and three ammunition depots, said Tarnavskyi.
The general also said Ukrainian forces continue their offensive in the direction of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol.
Meanwhile, dozens of Russian marines were killed by a Ukrainian strike during an awards ceremony near occupied Starobesheve southeast of Donetsk on Nov. 19, the Ukrainian military reported on Nov. 22.
The unit confirmed the strike on the marines and said the number of casualties had been reported by Russian propagandists.
Robert “Magyar” Brovdi, a commander at Ukraine's 59th Brigade, reported on Nov. 21 that 25 Russian marines had been killed and more than 100 had been injured.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said the strike on the 128th Brigade was the result of basic security measures being ignored, adding that it likely could have been avoided.