The battle for dominance of the Black Sea raged this week between Ukraine and Russia, while elsewhere forces from each side continued their bitter struggle for control of eastern Ukraine. winter is approaching.

Ukraine claimed to have struck small Russian military ships with maritime drones, demonstrating its determination to continue striking Russian positions deep in occupied Crimea.

Meanwhile, an explosion in Russian-occupied Luhansk in eastern Ukraine killed a pro-Moscow official, with Ukrainian intelligence taking credit for the assassination.

Here’s what you need to know about developments this week in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Defense Intelligence (GUR) said it hit two small Russian military ships in the Black Sea on Friday, its latest demonstration of Ukraine’s ability to strike Russian targets in occupied Crimea.

“Two Russian landing craft were hit by Ukrainian maritime drones near Chernomorske, Crimea,” Andriy Yusov, a GUR representative, said in comments to CNN.

Defense Intelligence released a grainy grayscale video showing what it claims was the moment of the strikes.

Ukrainian Ministry of Defense

Ukrainian defense intelligence has released a grainy grayscale video showing what it claims is the timing of its strikes against Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea.

CNN cannot independently verify video, date or location. The footage, which appears to have been filmed from cameras on board two unmanned surface drones, appears to show them approaching targets that appear to be landing craft on a dock. The second drone films the first as it hits what appears to be the Russian landing craft. As the second drone approaches its target, there is what looks like heavy equipment aboard the Russian ship.

Russia has not officially commented on the incident. But Russian military bloggers said unmanned boats had targeted Russian Black Sea Fleet ships.

Ukraine has been aggressive in attacking targets in occupied Crimea as part of a broader effort to strike Russian logistics, fuel, maintenance and command centers to disrupt their capacity to supply the front lines. kyiv has also focused on breaking Russian domination in Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Black Sea.

Moscow has launched more missiles and attack drones on Odessa over the past week in a bid to hamper Ukraine’s ability to maintain a shipping route from its Black Sea ports, it said. the Ukrainian army.

On Wednesday, a Liberian-flagged cargo ship was hit as it approached the port in the Odessa region, killing the ship’s pilot and injuring four others, according to Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command.

It is believed to be the first time a civilian ship has been hit since Ukraine established the sea route – what it calls a humanitarian corridor – between its ports and the Black Sea, following the failure of a UN-brokered agreement allowing safe passage.

Ukrainian authorities said the corridor remained open despite this week’s attacks.

The eastern town of Avdiivka is surrounded on three sides by Russian forces. They have launched waves of assaults over the past month to complete the siege, but Ukrainian soldiers continue to “hold their ground and inflict significant losses on the occupiers,” according to the Ukrainian military.

The weather was unfavorable for Russian assaults with tracked vehicles. This caused the Russians to change tactics, according to the Ukrainian military. Russian forces are using more drones to target heavily defended Ukrainian positions and are carrying out more dismounted assaults using infantry.

Vlada Liberova/Libkos/Getty Images

Police carry out evacuation operations in Avdiivka, Ukraine, on October 30. Fighting has intensified in the eastern city following Russia’s major offensive earlier this month.

Ukrainian defenses are well entrenched in the city. Ukraine has been strengthening its defensive positions since 2014, when pro-Moscow separatists seized much of the Donbas region, including the neighboring city of Donetsk. Avdiivka has been under fire since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

These defensive positions allow the Ukrainian army to resist the waves of incessant Russian attacks for the moment. A loss of territory at this point would be a major blow to morale in Ukraine, where the summer’s much-vaunted counteroffensive has brought few gains.

Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of the Tavria joint forces operation, said in a message on Telegram: “We are still standing. And we will continue to stand. Because Avdiivka is not just a territory on the map, but a part of Ukraine, a part of the soul of Ukrainians and Ukrainian Donbass.

“Let the enemy remember that we will continue to fight. For every building, terricone or lake…”

There has been little movement on the front line despite Ukraine launching a counter-offensive earlier in the year.

In occupied Luhansk, a car explosion killed a former pro-Moscow police chief on Wednesday.

Ukrainian defense intelligence took credit for the explosion, saying it was a joint operation with pro-Ukrainian supporters.

Russian authorities have opened an investigation into the explosion that claimed the life of the former leader of the Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) people’s militia, Mikhail Filiponenko. Moscow-backed separatists proclaimed a breakaway republic in Luhansk in 2014.

Defense Intelligence issued a warning to other pro-Russian officials in the occupied areas, stating: “All addresses of traitors and places where they served terrorist Russia in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are known! Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Says All War Criminals and Collaborators Will Receive Just Retribution!

There have been several assassination attempts against Russian-backed officials in occupied Ukraine. In May, LPR Acting Interior Minister Igor Kornet was “seriously” injured in an explosion.

John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine had “already met well over 90%” of the bloc’s demands.

Marking a milestone in Ukraine’s long and difficult quest to join the European Union, the bloc’s executive branch signaled that it was politically ready for membership negotiations to officially begin.

Nearly 18 months after the bloc granted Ukraine conditional candidate status, the European Union’s executive body said the country was ready to begin detailed membership negotiations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who applied to join the EU in February 2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, welcomed the announcement. “Today the history of Ukraine and the whole of Europe has taken the right step,” he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a “historic day.” In a speech to Ukraine’s parliament last weekend, she said Ukraine had “already met well over 90 percent” of the bloc’s demands.

But there are caveats. The war remains a major obstacle. Membership in the EU normally takes almost a decade. Ukraine must continue to make progress in the fight against corruption, limiting the influence of oligarchs and ensuring greater transparency.

Ukraine has had ambitions to join the EU for more than a decade. The goal of joining the bloc – alongside NATO – has been officially part of Ukraine’s constitution since 2019.

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