Russia Geopolitical Watch – from 31 December 2022 to 6 January 2023

Russia Watch Team: Arnaud Huss, Nicolas Girard, Corentin Delon, Anastasia K., Erwann Leyral, Olga Shevchuk, led by Ilinka Léger and Enzo Padovan.

02/01/2023: Russian authorities acknowledge death of 89 Russian soldiers after Ukrainian army shelling of Makayevka – Ilinka Leger

On 2 January, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov acknowledged in an update on the conduct of the “special military operation”, published on the ministry’s website, that 63 Russian soldiers died in Ukraine on New Year’s Eve. He said Ukrainian forces fired six missiles from US-made HIMARS rocket launchers “at a temporary deployment point of one of the Russian armed forces units near the populated area of Makiivka, Donetsk People’s Republic“. According to the state-run TASS news agency, the authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic believe that the “high cell activity of military personnel“, exchanging New Year greetings with their families over the phone, enabled Ukrainian forces to locate the Russian soldiers’ assembly point and launch the strikes.

In a context where both Russia and Ukraine communicate little about their respective casualties, the official statement by the Russian Defence Ministry was noted as the highest death toll officially reported by the Russian authorities since the beginning of the conflict. On 2 January, the spokesman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Shtupun, claimed responsibility for the attack during the conflict briefing on the official YouTube channel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while indicating that the number of casualties was still being assessed.

On 3 January, Russian authorities announced that the death toll had risen to 89, after bodies were found in the rubble of the building hit by the missiles.

03/01/2023: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister on Russian-Asian relations Nicolas Girard

On 3rd January, Russian Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Andrey Rudenko gave an interview to the pro-government media agency TASS about Asia, its challenges and Russian-Asian relations. According to the report published on the official website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister insisted on the necessity of an independent development for Asia, considering the important influence from the West and the United States in particular.

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