Ukraine: Continued targeting of civilians by Russian forces
Russian forces continued to launch weekly coordinated missile and drone strikes across Ukraine, targeting 17 regions throughout the month, including the Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, and Chernihiv regions, as well as the western cities of Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, and Khmelnytskyi. These attacks mainly targeted critical infrastructure, causing prolonged blackouts and disruptions of cellphone connection, water supply, and heating. Strikes also hit residential houses and other civilian buildings, leading to civilian casualties. While slightly higher than in the month prior, civilian fatalities caused by shelling, missile strikes, and airstrikes have been on a downward trend since the start of the invasion, with around 100 civilians reportedly killed in December. The falling number of reported fatalities is likely due to the mass displacement of civilians, increased capabilities of the Ukrainian air defense as a consequence of the continued supply of weapons to Ukraine, and the increased targeting of critical infrastructure by Russian forces since October, instead of residential areas. Meanwhile, the overall count of political violence events in Ukraine remained at a similar level to the month prior.
Amid the ongoing missile and drone strikes across the country, fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces continued to concentrate around Kreminna and Svatove in the Luhansk region and Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, with no significant territorial gains achieved by either side throughout December.1ISW, 30 December 2022, ISW, 23 December 2022
Armenia-Azerbaijan: Looming humanitarian crisis in Artsakh amid the closure of the Lachin corridor
The Lachin corridor, the only road linking the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh to Armenia, has been closed since 12 December. The Azerbaijani government claims that the road was closed by Russian peacekeepers due to a protest of Azerbaijani environmental activists against the illegal exploitation of mines in Artsakh, accusing Russians of involvement in the exploitation.2Daily Sabah, 14 December 2022 The Armenian side has claimed instead that the protest was staged by Azerbaijani state agencies to weaken the economy of Artsakh and force Armenians to leave the region.3News.am, 20 December 2022 The blockade of the Lachin corridor has led to shortages of essential services and goods, such as food and medicine, in Artsakh and prevents residents from leaving the region or returning home from the outside.4Human Rights Watch, 21 December 2022 Following the Lachin corridor’s closure, demonstrations broke out in both Armenia and Artsakh, demanding that it be cleared.
Meanwhile, fighting continued along the Armenia-Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact, slightly escalating in the days following the start of the blockade. Additionally, four Azerbaijani civilians and four servicemen were hit by a landmine in the Kalbajar region; one of the servicemen reportedly died as a result of the accident.Back to Map
Kosovo: Fresh tensions along the border with Serbia
On 11 December, ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo set up roadblocks near the border with Serbia. This move came after Kosovo authorities announced elections to replace Serb officials who walked out of institutions en-masse in November in protest against the government’s decision to start re-registering cars with Serbian license plates.5Balkan Insight, 10 November 2022 The demonstrators also demanded the release of an ethnic Serbian former police officer who was arrested on ‘terrorism’ charges, and the withdrawal of special police forces from the north.6RFE/RL, 11 December 2022 Demonstrators maintained their barricades for almost three full weeks, with reports of attacks on NATO peacekeeping troops and journalists covering the blockades. In the last week of December, and after months of tensions, a deal was reached for the barricades and roadblocks to be removed from main roads along the border.7Politico, 29 December 2022 The deal includes explicit guarantees from NATO, the European Union, and the United States that the Kosovan security forces will not be able to go to the Serb-majority north of the country in the future without permission of NATO and the local community, while the Kosovo Serbs who were at the barricades will not be prosecuted.8Kossev, 30 December 2022
Germany: 25 people arrested on suspicion of planning a coup
On 7 December, German police forces arrested 25 people, comprising far-right extremists and former military personnel, on suspicion of planning a coup to overthrow the German government. According to German prosecutors, the plotters were planning to storm the parliament and seize power, replacing the German republic with a new state modeled on the Germany of 1871.9BBC, 7 December 2022; New York Times, 7 December 2022
Italy and Greece: Increased anarchist activity over Italy’s 41-bis detention regime
Anarchists carried out demonstrations and violent activity across Italy in opposition to the 41-bis prison regime under which an Informal Anarchist Federation leader, Alfredo Cospito, is currently being detained. The severe prison regime, which entails almost complete isolation from the outside, is usually reserved for mafia members. Cospito, who is serving sentences totaling 30 years for the 2012 shooting of a senior nuclear engineering executive and a bomb attack on a Carabinieri training academy in 2006, has been on hunger strike for more than two months.10ANSA, 30 December 2022 Meanwhile, in Greece, Revenge Cell Carlo Giuliani anarchist group carried out an arson attack on an Italian diplomat’s car at her home in Athens on 2 December. The group stated that the attack was carried out in solidarity with Cospito.11ABC News, 8 December 2022
France and Greece: Killings of members of ethnic minority communities spark demonstrations
In France, a retired train driver opened fire against a Kurdish cultural center in Paris, reportedly killing three people from the Kurdish community and injuring another three. Following the attack, the shooter claimed he had intended to kill “non-European foreigners.”12BBC, 25 December 2022 The shooting sparked demonstrations led by members of the Kurdish community, during which demonstrators clashed with police. Demonstrations against the shooting were also recorded in Germany and Austria.
Meanwhile, in Greece, the police killing of a Roma teenager during a car chase over an unpaid gas bill triggered days of mass demonstrations and rioting across the country amid condemnation of a culture of racism, abuse, and impunity within the police. The demonstrations were organized by ethnic Roma and, in some instances, anarchist and far-left groups, with the majority of recorded demonstrations turning violent, often including clashes with the police. Following the demonstrations, police raided several Roma camps in Western Attica, leading to mass arrests.