Ukraine is a country clinging to independence in the face of a broad and bloody assault intent on toppling Ukraine’s democratic government and scramble the post-cold war world order. Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own. The invasion represents Putin’s boldest effort yet to redraw the map of Europe and revive Moscow’s cold war-era influence. It has triggered an international response including an uncharacteristic unified NATO response, direct sanctions on Putin, military and economic aid from the United States, support from Ukraine’s neighboring NATO countries.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also abruptly transformed the world. Millions of people have already fled. A new Iron Curtain is grinding into place. An economic war deepens, as the military conflict escalates, civilian casualties rise and evidence of horrific war crimes mounts. The Ukraine war is far from Hawaii’s shores, but the implications of this war are global, including an embargo on importing Russian oil which Hawaii’s electric utilities are dependent on for power generation.
Ukraine says troops have entered Kherson city after Russians retreat
Ukraine said Friday that its troops were spreading out in the southern city of Kherson and retaking control of the regional capital from Russian forces after months of fighting.
The announcement came soon after Russia said Friday that its troops had finished withdrawing from the west bank of the Dnieper River in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, claiming that no soldiers or military equipment were left behind.
Losing Kherson would mark a major military setback for the Kremlin in Ukraine and a blow to its efforts to consolidate its grip over swaths of the country’s south.
Russia has seriously damaged about 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure
NATO’s Defense Response to Russia
The UK’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, told lawmakers this week why he thinks Russia’s plans for a swift invasion failed, and future Nato deployments. “The Russians have demonstrated their failures by having lots of numbers. They could boast about how many BMPs and tanks they had, but they had no proper integrated air defense, no proper communications, no proper protective armor on their actual armored vehicles that the javelins just took them apart. And for all of their mass, they couldn’t proceed.”
On the way that the war in Ukraine has changed Nato planning, Wallace said:
“For those you who remember, in the cold war, we each had our locations assigned, we all knew which part of the German border we deployed to. In fact, it went down to the detail that pilots even knew targets for a sort of D-Day. I don’t expect us to have that much granularity, but it means that Nato is going to be very clear and indicating how its overall military plan is constructed, and what role [the UK has] in it.”
Grain ships depart Ukraine despite Kremlin warnings; water supplies restored to Kyiv
Three more grain vessels departed Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Tuesday, the United Nations said, despite Russian warnings that the safe passage of ships traveling along the U.N.-brokered humanitarian lane, intended to facilitate agricultural exports to the world, could no longer be guaranteed. Russia suspended its participation in the deal over the weekend, after a drone attack in Crimea that Russia blamed on Ukraine. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Seventeen vessels in total have now transited the Black Sea corridor since Russia suspended its participation in the agreement, the U.N. says, including three ships carrying corn, wheat, and sunflower meal that departed Ukrainian ports Tuesday. The U.N. says it’s continuing discussions with Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey to resume the deal in full. The latest boats will be boarded by Turkish and U.N. inspectors before making their way to Libya, Morocco, and Germany.
August 27, 2022
Ukraine’s state energy operator has warned that there is a risk of a radioactive leak at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Moscow’s troops have “repeatedly shelled” the site of the nuclear plant over the past day, Energoatom said. As of midday on Saturday local time (9am GMT) the plant “operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards”, the operator said in a statement. As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and of radioactive substances, and a fire hazard is high.
August 24, 2022
Six Months of War & Counting… Ukraine and Russia Are Both Reshaped
It has now been six months of war, with August 24th marking six months since since Russian forces swept into Ukraine unleashing a war that has driven many Ukrainians from their homes, killed thousands of troops and shaken the economy. Russia launched volleys of cruise missile strikes on civilian targets, engaged in Soviet style show trials of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the occupied city of Mariupol, and killed, raped, and pillaged in the name of its unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine; and there is no end in sight.
For six months, a major land war has sown horror in Europe. It is a war in which violence and normality coexist — death and destruction at the 1,500-mile front and packed cafes in Kyiv, just a few hundred miles to the west.
It is a war fought in trenches and artillery duels, but defined in great part by the political whims of Americans and Europeans, whose willingness to endure inflation and energy shortages could shape the next stage of the conflict. And it is a war of imagery and messaging, fought between two countries whose deep family ties have helped turn social media into a battlefield of its own.
On the eve of Ukrainian Independence Day, President Volodymyr Zelensky offered a cleareyed view of the threat facing his country. Moscow might seek to mar the Aug. 24 celebration, which commemorates the country’s 1991 separation from the Soviet Union, with “something particularly nasty, particularly cruel,” Mr. Zelensky warned on Tuesday.
Russia Holds Firm, For Now, Amid Ukrainian Attacks in South
- Despite optimistic pronouncements by Ukraine’s officials, their troops in the Kherson Region have barely advanced in weeks.
In their summer campaign to drive Russian troops from the southern region of Kherson, Ukraine’s forces have decimated Russian command centers and ammunition depots, severed supply lines with precision strikes on key bridges, and sown terror among collaborationist officials with a spate of car bombings, shootings and, Ukrainian officials said, at least one poisoning.
But out in the sunbaked fields along the Kherson Region’s western border, the Ukrainian fighters who would be called on to deliver the knockout blow in any successful effort to retake territory remain pinned down in their trenches. Cuts to Russian supply lines have not yet eroded the overwhelming advantage of Moscow’s forces in artillery, ammunition and heavy weaponry, making it difficult if not impossible for Ukrainian forces to press forward without suffering enormous casualties.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is about to enter a new phase
- The heaviest fighting of the war is now shifting to a roughly 350km frontline stretching south-west from near Zaporizhzhia to Kherson, paralleling the Dnieper River.
- Ukrainian forces are focusing their targeting on bridges, ammunition depots, and rail links with growing frequency in Ukraine’s southern regions. Including the strategically important railroad spur that links Kherson to Russian-occupied Crimea, almost certainly using a combination of block, damage, degrade, deny, destroy, and disrupt effects to try to affect Russia’s ability to logistically resupply.
Damage in Air Base Blasts Appears Worse Than Russia Claimed
- Damage from a series of explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea appeared to be greater than the Kremlin has described. The Russia-occupied peninsula on Wednesday declared a state of emergency, as dozens of nearby homes and commercial structures had been hit. Senior military officials said the attack was from Ukrainian forces.
Russia’s Defense Ministry moved quickly to play down the extent of the damage, saying no equipment had been destroyed and no casualties reported. Russian assertions were contradicted by a video from the scene showing damaged or destroyed aircraft and infrastructure. Crimea, a strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine was illegally annexed in 2014 by Russian forces.
The Russian air base, Saki, on the western coast of Crimea, has been regularly used by Russian warplanes attacking Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine.
Ukraine possesses few weapons that can reach the peninsula, aside from aircraft that would risk being shot down immediately by Russia’s heavy air defenses in the region. The air base, which is near the city of Novofedorivka, is about 200 miles from the nearest Ukrainian military position. Ukrainian officials would not disclose whether the local resistance forces, known as partisans, carried out the attack or assisted Ukrainian military units in targeting the base, as has sometimes occurred in other Russia-occupied territories.
Russia readies for southern offensive as alarm raised over shelling of nuclear plant
Warnings of a possible attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine have sent some nearby residents fleeing over the threat of nuclear catastrophe. Ukrainian intelligence said Russia sent plant workers home last week and could be planning an imminent attack. The facility has been under Russian control since March but continues to supply electricity to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s suspicions that Russia will act to remove Zaporizhzhia from Ukraine’s power grid have not been borne out.
Ukraine has 15 functional nuclear reactors, which together supplied 51 percent of its electricity in 2020, according to the IAEA. The country has relied on nuclear power to decrease its energy dependence on Russia.
Six of the reactors are at Zaporizhzhia, on the edge of Enerhodar, a city in southeastern Ukraine about 140 miles from Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed in 2014. It lies on the war’s front line, on the Russia-controlled left bank of the Dnieper River; Ukrainian troops control the opposite side of the river.
- Russia is strengthening its positions and numbers on Ukraine’s southern front to ready itself for a Ukrainian counteroffensive and is likely to be preparing the ground to attack, according to British and Ukrainian military authorities.
Ukraine has 15 functional nuclear reactors, which together supplied 51 percent of its electricity in 2020, according to the IAEA. The country has relied on nuclear power to decrease its energy dependence on Russia. Six of the reactors are at Zaporizhzhia, on the edge of Enerhodar, a city in southeastern Ukraine about 140 miles from Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed in 2014. It lies on the war’s front line, on the Russia-controlled left bank of the Dnieper River; Ukrainian troops control the opposite side of the river.
Russia troop movements
- “Russian troops are almost certainly amassing in the south, either waiting for a Ukrainian counteroffensive or preparing to attack. Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, artillery and other things continue to move from the Donbas to the south-west,” said the UK’s defense ministry, confirming early assertions by Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief.
- The assessment came as both sides traded blame for renewed shelling on Europe’s largest nuclear plant, with the UN nuclear watchdog raising grave concerns about the attack. One of the major obstacles to Ukraine’s offensive in the south could be the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Europe’s largest, which was shelled on Saturday. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said it was a crime and “an act of terror”, saying the shelling was carried out by Russian forces. In a phone call on Sunday with the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, about the plant, Zelenskiy called for sanctions on Russia’s nuclear industry and nuclear fuel in response.
- The Washington-based thinktank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Russia was “effectively using the plant as a nuclear shield to prevent Ukrainian strikes on Russian forces and equipment”.
Turkey-Russia deal enables Ukraine’s and Russian global food shipments to resume through Black Sea ports
- Three ships carrying almost 60,000 tons of grain between them have departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said he planned “to ensure ports have the ability to handle more than 100 vessels per month”.
- Turkish president for help in securing an international deal that resumed grain exports from Ukraine that had been disrupted by the Kremlin war machine – as well as Russian foodstuffs and fertilizers – to world markets. They agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture, finance and construction industries, they said in a joint statement after a four-hour meeting.
A European Union plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off Russian energy dependency.
- Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.
War Week, July 24 – 31 – Weekly Recap
(beginning August 2022, BeyondKona reporting on the war in the Ukraine will be in the form of a monthly recap)
- Russian troops around the southern city of Kherson are increasingly isolated after Ukrainian strikes disrupted key resupply routes.
Ukraine expressed a heightened sense of urgency on Thursday over its looming counteroffensive in the south, saying Russia was racing to bolster its forces in the region and taking further steps to solidify its political hold in the territory it controls.
Russia directed dozens of missiles at targets across Ukraine overnight into Thursday, including 25 fired from Belarus, according to the Ukrainian military, even as it moved soldiers and equipment to the southern region of Kherson. In the east, Ukrainian forces continue to hold their defensive lines while targeting key command-and-control centers and Russian troop strongholds deep behind Russian lines.
- Residents of Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region have been urged to evacuate by Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk, who said people risked being cut off from “power, water, food and medical supplies, heating and communication” if they stayed in the area.
- US lawmakers were briefed by US officials that more than 75,000 Russians are estimated to either have been killed or injured in the war.
- Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has warned Ukraine cannot win the war against Russia under Nato’s current support strategy. Meanwhile, the British defense ministry said on Thursday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Kherson region is growing stronger, according to the ministry’s latest defense intelligence on the war.
- Despite almost 200,000 UK visa applications of Ukrainian civilians, only 104,000 people had arrived in Britain as of Monday, just over half of those who applied.
War Week, July 17 – 23
- Russia and Ukraine expected to sign deal on Friday to resume Black Sea grain exports; The United States said it would hold Russia accountable for implementing the deal. A state department spokesperson, Ned Price, accused Russia of weaponizing food, saying: “What will really matter is the implementation of this agreement. We will, of course, continue to work with our partners to hold Russia accountable for its implementation.”
- Moscow’s forces ‘about to run out of steam’, UK intelligence chief claims our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks,” said Richard Moore, the MI6 chief.
- An EU proposal that member countries cut gas use by 15% to prepare for possible supply cuts from Russia is facing resistance from governments, throwing into doubt whether they will approve the emergency plan.
- Advanced US missile systems sent to Ukraine seem to be making an impression. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made a point of urging Kremlin forces to destroy Kyiv’s long-range strike capabilities. In recent weeks, the US has supplied Ukraine with HIMARS artillery, capable of hitting Russian targets as far as 50 miles away. That’s allowed Kyiv’s military to obliterate Russian logistics centers, supply lines and ammunition dumps far behind the front lines—and mostly from beyond the range of Russian artillery.
- Ukraine armed forces are advancing “confidently” towards Kherson, according to a Ukrainian military spokesperson. Natalia Hemeniuk, the head of the press center of Operation Command South, “speaking about what is happening directly in Kherson direction, we are advancing there. Maybe we are not moving as fast as those who present positive news would like, but believe me, these steps are very confident.”
- Russian forces are preparing for a new offensive, the Kyiv Independent reports. According to Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the intelligence directorate at Ukraine’s defense ministry, Russian activity signals that “undoubtedly, preparations for the next stage of offensive actions are under way”.
- “No Russian missiles or artillery can break our unity,” the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a statement on Saturday. In an address on the anniversary of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, he added: “It should be equally obvious that it cannot be broken with lies or intimidation, fakes or conspiracy theories.”
- All bodies have been identified after the Vinnytsia missile strike, the region’s governor announced. According to the Vinnytsia oblast governor, Serhii Borzov, 68 people are currently hospitalized, 14 of them are in serious condition. Rescue operations after the Russian missile attack on Vinnytsia have concluded. Twenty-three people were killed, 202 injured, one person is missing and three others have been rescued in the central-west Ukrainian city, according to the country’s state emergency service. Around 100 to 150 civilians were killed by Russian military strikes in Ukraine over the past two weeks, according to the Pentagon. In a briefing on Friday, a senior US military official said: “I think all told over the week … we’re looking at between 100, 150, somewhere in there, civilian casualties, civilian deaths, this week in Ukraine as a result of Russian strikes.”
War Week, July 10 – 16
An Arms Race
- The United States has authorized $54 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and has sent more than $7 billion in weapons drawn from existing Pentagon stockpiles. The Ukrainians say they need faster shipments of long-range artillery and other sophisticated weapons to blunt Russia’s steady advance. The United States and the Europeans insist more are on the way but are wary of sending too much equipment before Ukrainian soldiers can be trained. The Pentagon is concerned about potentially depleting its stockpiles in the coming months.
- Ukraine’s urgent requests come at a time when the United States appears to have reached the high end of the type of sophisticated arms it is providing. The next shipments are to include truck-mounted, multiple-rocket launchers called HIMARS, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and precision-guided Excalibur howitzer shells. But the fighter jets and advanced armed drones on Ukraine’s wish list have been shelved for now as either overly provocative to Moscow or too time-consuming for the Ukrainians to learn how to use.
- As many as 100 to 200 Ukrainian soldiers have died every day since Russia shifted its military campaign in the spring to focus on eastern Ukraine. But overall, about 20,000 Russians have been killed. Injuries have taken about 60,000 more off the battlefield. Nearly a third of Russia’s equipment has been destroyed in the war.
War Week, July 3 – 9
Ukraine and the Contest of Global Stamina
- The conflict’s long-run trajectory seems increasingly likely to be shaped by whether the United States and its allies can maintain their military, political and financial commitments to holding off Russia. More than four months after Russia invaded Ukraine, a war that was expected to be a Russian blitzkrieg only to turn into a debacle for Moscow has now evolved into a battle of inches with no end in sight, a geopolitical stamina contest in which President Vladimir V. Putin is gambling that he can outlast a fickle, impatient West.
- While the fighting lately has focused mainly on a crescent in eastern and southern Ukraine, the White House worries it could easily spiral out of control. American officials worry that Mr. Putin may resort to tactical nuclear weapons to break out of the box he faces on the battlefield.
Indeed, the Biden administration has concluded that the Russian leader still wants to widen the war and try again to seize Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. “We think he has effectively the same political goals that we had previously, which is to say that he wants to take most of Ukraine,” Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence. said last week.
Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 130 of the invasion
- The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has claimed Ukraine attempted to strike military facilities on Belarusian territory. Reuters, citing the state-run Belta news agency, reported that Lukashenko said – without providing evidence – that Ukrainian armed forces tried to strike facilities in Belarus three days ago but the missiles were intercepted. He claimed Ukraine was attempting to provoke Belarus but his country did not plan to intervene in the conflict.
- Rescue workers have recovered as many as 29 body fragments amid the rubble of deadly Russian missile strikes on a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, Ukraine’s state emergency service said. At least 19 people were killed on Monday after two Russian X-22 cruise missiles hit a crowded shopping centre in Kremenchuk, officials said.
- Russia also rained missiles near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa, hitting an apartment building and a resort and killing at least 19 people, Ukrainian officials said, hours after Russian troops were driven off the nearby Snake Island. One section of a nine-story apartment block was completely destroyed by a missile that struck at 1:00 a.m. The walls and windows of a neighboring, 14-story apartment block had also been damaged by the blast wave.President Vladimir Putin has raised the stakes in an economic war with the West by signing a decree to seize full control of the Sakhalin-2 gas and oil project in Russia’s far east, a move that could force out Shell and Japanese investors.
- A series of recent assassination attempts targeting pro-Russian officials suggests a growing resistance movement against Russian-backed authorities occupying parts of southern Ukraine, according to US officials. The resistance could grow into a wider counterinsurgency that would pose a significant challenge to Russia’s ability to control captured Ukrainian territories, CNN cited officials as saying.
- Demonstrators took to the streets in Berlin to demand that the German government not intervene in the war in Ukraine. Germany has offered support to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, sending billions in military aid and heavy weapons.
Russia Claims to Seize City Key to Its Ambitions in Eastern Ukraine
Russia’s defense minister said that his forces had seized the city of Lysychansk, strengthening their hold on a province of eastern Ukraine. A Ukrainian official said the city was not fully under Russian control.
The city is a key target in Russia’s battle to capture the Donbas region, an area bordering Russia that is partly controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow. In 2014, they unilaterally established two independent “republics” in the Donbas region, and Russian President Vladimir Putin cited false claims of Ukrainian “genocide” against Russian-speaking residents there as justification for his invasion.
Ukraine had been furiously defending Lysychansk for weeks, and a Ukrainian presidential adviser had said its fate could be determined in the coming days.
Some of the deadliest Russian missile strikes of the war have rained down on civilian targets over the last two weeks, and many of the attacks were carried out with outdated missiles designed for naval operations.
Two of those weapons — Soviet-era Kh-class missiles — slammed into a shopping center in Kremenchuk on Monday, killing dozens. The same type of missile ripped into an apartment building in the Black Sea resort of Serhiivka on Friday, leaving at least 21 dead.
Military analysts say the use of such older, imprecise weapons, which is rapidly driving up the civilian death toll, suggests Russia may be running short of long-range precision missiles, just as Ukraine is starting to receive more heavy weaponry from NATO.
- The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said Friday night that the Russian forces had lobbed more than 3,000 missiles at Ukraine in four months of the war. Ukrainian intelligence officials have estimated Russia has used up 60 percent of its stockpile of high-precision weapons.
War Week, June 26 – July 2
- Russia missed a deadline for making bond payments on Sunday, a move signaling its first default on international debt in more than a century, after Western sanctions thwarted the government’s efforts to pay foreign investors. The lapse adds to efforts to seal Moscow off from global capital markets for years. Also, the decision over the weekend to ban the purchase of newly mined and refined gold from Russia is the latest effort by the United States, Britain and their allies represents another notch up in the wave of sanctions concentrated on Russia as a response to its four-month-old invasion of Ukraine.
- A missile strike has hit a crowded shopping centre in Kremenchuk, a city in central Ukraine on the banks of the Dniprp river. The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that more than 1,000 civilians were in the shopping center at the time of the strike, where a fire remains raging.
- Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy is understood to have told G7 leaders not to let the conflict in his country “drag on over winter”, Reuters reports.
He told the leaders gathered in Germany at a private meeting held via video link that “if Ukraine wins, you all win”.
- On Sunday, Kyiv has come under attack for the first time since June 5th, with Russian missiles striking at residential buildings and a Kindergarten in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital.
- Russian forces are trying to cut off the strategic twin city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, having reduced Sievierodonetsk to rubble. Lysychansk is set to become the next main focus of fighting, as Moscow has launched massive artillery bombardments and airstrikes on areas far from the heart of the eastern battles. Ukraine called its retreat from Sievierodonetsk a “tactical withdrawal” to fight from higher ground in Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river.
War Week, June 19 – 25
- The battle for two key cities in eastern Ukraine is edging towards “a fearsome climax”, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said, as the war in Ukraine enters its fourth month on Friday.
Kyrylo Budanov told Reuters that Ukrainian forces would continue their defence of that front from Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine and that it was no longer possible to hold the line in Sievierodonetsk.
“The activities happening in the area of Sievierodonetsk are a tactical regrouping of our troops. This is a withdrawal to advantageous positions to obtain a tactical advantage,” said, Budanov, head of the defence intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
Russia is using the tactic … it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth. Given the conditions, holding the defense in the ruins and open fields is no longer possible. So the Ukrainian forces are leaving for higher ground to continue the defense operations,” he said.
Russia’s efforts to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk – the two remaining cities under Ukrainian control in Luhansk – have turned into a bloody war of attrition, with both sides inflicting heavy casualties. Moscow, over the last two weeks, has managed to make steady gains.
A top Ukrainian government officials on Tuesday made an urgent plea for hundreds of thousands of people living in Russian-occupied parts of southern Ukraine to evacuate in advance of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive, working to prepare the public for a bloody struggle on another front even as Russia makes steady gains in fierce and costly battles in the east.
In trying to take back territory in the south, Ukrainian officials are facing deep challenges. Russia has been dug in for months in parts of the region, complicating evacuation routes for civilians and forcing Kyiv to decide how much damage it is willing to inflict on towns and cities that — even if an eventual counteroffensive is successful — it would have to rebuild.
When Russia shifted its military campaign to focus on eastern Ukraine this spring, senior officials in the Biden administration said the next four to six weeks of fighting would determine the war’s eventual path.
That time has passed, and officials say the picture is increasingly clear: Russia is likely to end up with more territory, they said, but neither side will gain full control of the region as a depleted Russian military faces an opponent armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons.
While Russia has seized territory in the easternmost region of Luhansk, its progress has been plodding. Meanwhile, the arrival of American long-range artillery systems, and Ukrainians trained on how to use them, should help Ukraine in the battles to come, said Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Ukraine’s army said it had launched airstrikes on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, causing “significant losses” to Russian forces.
- Russian troops have captured the frontline village of Toshkivka near the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Donbas region.Some 568 civilians are thought to be holed up in Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant, as Russian attacks intensified in an effort to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
- Mass mobilisation is “about to happen” in Russia with the Kremlin recruiting people in poorer regions to fight in Ukraine, according to western officials. Officials also said there was “more chatter” about Vladimir Putin’s health and “more speculation” about who would replace him in Russia. However, there does not appear to be an “immediate threat” to the Russian president’s position from the elite or the general population, they said.
- Russia has demanded that Lithuania immediately lift a ban on the transit of goods on an EU sanctions list across its territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The secretary of the security council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev, said the consequences of the ban “will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania”.
War Week, June 12 – 18
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy have vowed to support Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union on a visit to Kyiv intended as a show of unity in the face of Russian advances and complaints from the Ukrainians about the pace of weapons supplies.
“My colleagues and I came here to Kyiv today with a clear message: ‘Ukraine belongs to the European family,’” the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said at a joint press conference with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis.
- A survey this week from nine EU member states plus the UK found that support for Ukraine remained high, but that preoccupations had shifted to the conflict’s wider economic impacts, further heightening fears in Kyiv that western support for the country would fade as Russia continues to make advances in the east of the country.
- Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the outcome of the battle for the Donbas region will determine the course of the war, adding that Ukraine’s forces are suffering “painful losses” in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. The battle for Luhansk’s Sievierodonetsk is now the biggest fight in Ukraine as its defenders try to repel a fierce Russian onslaught in the twin eastern cities.
Russian artillery is hitting an industrial zone where 500 civilians are sheltering in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, the regional governor has said, with all bridges out of the city destroyed, as fears grow for those who have not yet managed to leave. “All bridges are destroyed,” Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said in a video address on Monday evening, adding that Russia had not “completely captured” Sievierodonetsk and “a part of the city” was under Ukrainian control.
Russia has told Ukrainian forces holed up in Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant to lay down their arms by early Wednesday. Fighters should “stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms” from 8am Moscow time (5am GMT), Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s national defence management centre told the Interfax news agency.
- Russia said it would set up a humanitarian corridor on Wednesday for trapped civilians seeking to flee intense fighting in the devastated east Ukraine city of Sievierodonetsk. Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk region, said about 500 civilians, 40 of them children, were sheltering from heavy Russian attacks in the Azot chemical plant in the city.
- Zelenskiy repeated his call for the west to step up the provision of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said the country had received only 10% of what it asked for and there was no path to victory without the aid: “No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter how professional our army is, without the help of western partners we will not be able to win this war”. Zelenskiy added that Ukraine does not have enough anti-missile systems to shoot down Russian projectiles targeting its cities. “Our country does not have enough of them … there can be no justification in delays in providing them.”
- Nato must build out “even higher readiness” and strengthen its weapons capabilities along its eastern border, the military alliance’s chief said on Tuesday ahead of a summit in Madrid at the end of the month. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance needed a “more robust and combat-ready forward presence and an even higher readiness and more pre-positioned equipment and supplies.”
- Leaders of seven European Nato members pledged support for applications by Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. “My message on Swedish and Finnish membership is that I strongly welcome that. It’s an historic decision. It will strengthen them, it will strengthen us,” Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting at The Hague on Tuesday.
- President Joe Biden said temporary silos will be built along the border with Ukraine, including in Poland, in a bid to help export more grain. Referring to the 20 million tons of grain locked in Ukraine, Biden told a union convention in Philadelphia: “It can’t get out through the Black Sea because it’ll get blown out of the water … So we’re going to build silos, temporary silos, on the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland.”
War Week, June 4 – 11
Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence has said Ukraine is losing against Russia on the frontlines and is now reliant almost solely on weapons from the west to keep Russia at bay.
“This is an artillery war now,” said Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence. The frontlines were now where the future would be decided, he told the Guardian, “and we are losing in terms of artillery”.
“Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us,” said Skibitsky. “Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.”
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, praised the UK’s support for Kyiv on Friday and reiterated his call for more weapons, as the UK defence minister, Ben Wallace, made an unannounced visit to Ukraine.
“Words turn into actions. That’s the difference between Ukraine’s relationship with Great Britain and other countries,” Zelenskiy said in a video statement. “Weapons, finance, sanctions – on these three issues, Britain shows leadership.”
Ukraine is using 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds a day, according to Skibitsky. “We have almost used up all of our [artillery] ammunition and are now using 155-calibre Nato standard shells,” he said of the ammunition that is fired from artillery pieces.
“Europe is also delivering lower-calibre shells but as Europe runs out, the amount is getting smaller.”
Zelenskiy said last week that between 60 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers were dying each day and a further 500 were being injured. Ukraine has kept the total number of its military losses secret. Soldiers from Ukraine’s frontlines this week reported a similar picture.
- The US Treasury stepped up financial sanctions on Russia by restricting investors from buying the country’s debt in the secondary market. The move almost brought trading activity in the instruments to a halt on Tuesday as investors scrambled to understand the new restrictions. Banks that have been trading Russian corporate and sovereign bonds—specifically JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs—have faced intense criticism for profiting on Russian debt while Vladimir Putin kills thousands of civilians in Ukraine.
- The Kremlin continues to scale up attacks in the northeastern and eastern part of the country, occupying more territory. As fighting has intensified, Ukrainian President
- Putin warns that Moscow will hit new targets if west supplies Ukraine with long-range missiles as Kyiv reels from first attack in more than a month.
- Russian forces continue to storm the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk and fired missiles at the nearby cities of Sloviansk, Lysychansk and Orikhove, Ukraine’s military has said. Russian troops fired at Ukrainian units defending Sievierodonetsk with mortars and artillery fire, damaging infrastructure in the towns of Metolkino, Borivske, Ustynivka and Toshkivka.
- The Russian missile attack on Kyiv early on Sunday was likely an attempt to disrupt the supply of western military equipment to frontline Ukrainian units, according to British intelligence.
- Britain is to supply long-range rocket artillery to Ukraine, despite a threat on Sunday from Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to bomb fresh targets if similar weapons from the US were delivered to Kyiv. The UK will send a handful of tracked M270 multiple launch rocket systems, which can hit targets up to 50 miles away, in the hope they can disrupt the concentrated Russian artillery that has been pounding cities in eastern Ukraine.
- Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Moscow would respond to western deliveries of long-range weapons to Ukraine by pushing back Kyiv’s forces further from Russia’s borders.
- Nato kicked off a nearly two-week US-led naval exercise on the Baltic Sea on Sunday with more than 7,000 sailors, air personnel and marines from 16 nations, including Finland and Sweden – who aspire to join the military alliance. “It is important for us, the United States, and the other Nato countries to show solidarity with both Finland and Sweden in this exercise,” Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said.
President Biden States US Objectives in Response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Extract of NY Times opinion article dated June 1, 2022
The invasion Vladimir Putin thought would last days is now in its fourth month. The Ukrainian people surprised Russia and inspired the world with their sacrifice, grit and battlefield success. The free world and many other nations, led by the United States, rallied to Ukraine’s side with unprecedented military, humanitarian and financial support.
As the war goes on, I want to be clear about the aims of the United States in these efforts.
America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.
As President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said, ultimately this war “will only definitively end through diplomacy.” Every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground. We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.
That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.
We will also continue reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank with forces and capabilities from the United States and other allies. And just recently, I welcomed Finland’s and Sweden’s applications to join NATO, a move that will strengthen overall U.S. and trans-Atlantic security by adding two democratic and highly capable military partners.
We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia. As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow. So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces. We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.
I know many people around the world are concerned about the use of nuclear weapons. We currently see no indication that Russia has intent to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, though Russia’s occasional rhetoric to rattle the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible. Let me be clear: Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences.
Americans will stay the course with the Ukrainian people because we understand that freedom is not free. That’s what we have always done whenever the enemies of freedom seek to bully and oppress innocent people, and it is what we are doing now. Vladimir Putin did not expect this degree of unity or the strength of our response. He was mistaken. If he expects that we will waver or fracture in the months to come, he is equally mistaken.
War Week, May 29 – June 4
100 days of war in Ukraine: how the conflict has developed
Friday marks the 100th day of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. This is how the Russian president’s ‘special military operation’ evolved into a bloody war of attrition
After months of buildup and numerous denials that any invasion was planned, Vladimir Putin announced on 24 February that he had launched a “special military operation” to “demilitarise and denazify” Ukraine.
Western analysts expected a quick “shock and awe” invasion, and it seems there were indeed attempts by Russia to directly target the Ukrainian president, Volodomyr Zelenskiy, probably in order to replace his government with one more pliable to Moscow’s will.
But if Putin expected a quick, easy war with little Ukrainian or international opposition – like his invasion of Crimea in 2014 – he has been disappointed. The war has resulted in sanctions against Russia, Nato membership applications from Sweden and Finland, and rising fuel and food prices in countries thousands of miles from the conflict zone.
- Russia has also claimed its forces control Lyman, a key transport hub, which Western officials have said would give Russia an advantage in the potential next phase of the Donbas offensive. While Britain’s Defense Ministry confirmed that Russian forces have probably captured most of the city, Ukraine has yet to confirm Russia has control.
- In his Saturday night address, President Zelensky called on partners in the West to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons to give Kyiv a technological edge over Moscow and that he expected “good news” in the coming days. The Biden administration is preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, administration officials and congressional staffers told The Washington Post.
War Week, May 22 – 28
Russian assault on eastern Ukraine threatens to encircle Sievierodonetsk.
Russian forces were attempting to “completely destroy” the city of Sievierodonetsk in an attempt to conquer the Donbas region, near Russia’s border. Ukrainian spokesman said Russians forces were simply erasing Sievierodonetsk from the face of the Earth.
- The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said delays in arrival of western arms to the frontline had left Kyiv “catastrophically short of heavy weapons”
- The battle for eastern Ukraine is becoming increasingly bloody, with up to 100 Ukrainian fighters killed each day, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. The situation is especially dire in Severodonetsk — one of the last major cities in eastern Luhansk region still in Kyiv’s control — with a high-ranking official saying it is becoming “a new Mariupol.
Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine, known collectively as Donbas, has long been a flash point for conflict between the two countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly invoked the idea of Donbas’s distinctive regional identity as a basis to “defend” its Russian-speaking people inside Ukraine. Parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were already ruled by separatists loyal to Moscow before Russia launched its latest invasion in February. Since then, U.S. officials say Russian forces have not made much progress militarily in Donbas; one official described the progress as “anemic.”
- From recent years of retrenchment the United States is now expected to keep 100,000 troops stationed in Europe for the foreseeable future. U.S. presently has 102,000 troops stationed in European ground, sea and air — a 30 percent increase since Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24. There are also more than 15,000 sailors in the European operations area and 12 fighter squadrons.
- More than 2 million Ukrainians have re-entered their homeland since late February, according to tallies updated Monday from the U.N. refugee agency. The figure includes Ukrainians who have returned home after initially fleeing the Russian invasion. It also includes those who had been traveling or living abroad before the war but have chosen to go back. The United Nations said it is too early to draw conclusions about the figure because of the “constantly changing situation” in Ukraine.
War Week, May 15 – 21
- Zelenskiy proposed a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for damage its forces have caused during the war. Zelenskiy, who says Russia is trying to destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as it can, said such a deal would show nations planning aggressive acts that they would have to pay for their actions. “We invite partner countries to sign a multilateral agreement and create a mechanism ensuring that everybody who suffered from Russian actions can receive compensation for all losses incurred,” he said in a video address on Friday.
- Under pressure to score battlefield victories and shore up its forces for an intensifying battle in the east, Russia moved Friday toward eliminating age limits for military service — an apparent effort to expand the pool of potential recruits. Mr. Putin has resisted ordering a large-scale military draft, apparently fearing domestic backlash.
In other developments:
- On the eastern battlefield, a weekslong fight around the city of Sievierodonetsk has intensified in the past day, according to Ukrainian civilian and military officials.
The Group of 7 economic powers agreed Friday to provide nearly $20 billion to support Ukraine’s economy over the coming months to help keep the country’s government running while it fights to repel the Russian invasion. This added finaicnial support for Ukraine comes shortly after the US Congress approved Presdient Biden’s request $40 billion USD in addition aid.
Hundreds of Ukrainian troops evacuated from Mariupol steelworks after 82-day assault
- Russia has taken control of the Azovstal steel plant, the country’s defence ministry said on Friday evening. Ukrainian soldiers had finally ended their defence of the site in Mariupol, according to the commander of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, Denys Prokopenko. In a video statement, he said civilians and heavily wounded Ukrainian fighters have been evacuated from the plant. The Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the Ukrainian combatants would be treated in line with international norms for prisoners of war, though several senior Russian politicians demanded this week they be put on trial and one called for their execution.
- Blow for Ukraine as removal of soldiers, many wounded, suggests city that became symbol of resistance has fallen into Russian hands. More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers, many of them wounded, have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, appearing to cede control of the city to Russia after 82 days of bombardment. On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that nearly 2,000 Azovstal fighters, with the Azov battalion making up their core, however that could not be independently verified. It was not clear how many fighters remain holed up at the plant.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said that the soldiers defending the steel plant had “performed their combat task” and now the main goal was to save the lives of personnel. By holding the steelworks, they stopped Russian forces from rapidly capturing the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, its statement on Facebook said.
It was unclear how many soldiers remained in the steel plant, but Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said: “We hope to save the lives of our boys”. “I want to underline: Ukraine needs its Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle,” he said in a video statement.
Putin vs. NATO
Vladimir Putin has already warned Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, a move both nations are moving toward in response to his invasion of Ukraine and the thousands of civilians his soldiers have killed there. Now Putin says Russia’s “response” to them joining NATO would come if the two Nordic nations expand their “military infrastructure.”
- As Finland and Sweden are preparing to deliver their formal applications to join the military alliance, European Union members continue their struggle to impose sanctions on Russian oil, with Hungary’s Viktor Orban blocking progress. On Monday, there was no sign of a breakthrough as foreign ministers sent the issue back to ambassadors for further negotiations. In the meantime, the EU said gas importers in the bloc could continue paying for Russian fuel.
Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on Saturday, according to Finland’s state energy provider, underscoring the geopolitical fallout as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spurs one of the most radical redrawings of Europe’s security order in decades.
Russia said Friday that it was suspending gas shipments because Finland had failed to make payments in rubles. But the Kremlin has used Russia’s energy supply as a political weapon in the past, and Russian officials have expressed dismay over moves by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Last weekend, Moscow suspended electricity exports to Finland as that country’s aims to join the military alliance became clear.
War Week, May 8 – 14
- Western nations were deepening their efforts to combat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, as Sweden signaled that it might join NATO, the world’s wealthiest democracies sought ways to circumvent a Russian blockade of Ukrainian wheat, and Britain imposed new sanctions on the Russian president’s inner circle.
- The move that might sting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia the most was Britain’s imposition of sanctions on his former wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, and a former gymnast long rumored to be his girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva.
- Sweden’s suggestion that it could join NATO came a day after Finland’s leaders declared that the nation would join NATO. If Sweden does join the alliance, it would end more than 200 years of its neutrality and military nonalignment, and strengthen the mutual defense alliance that Mr. Putin has been seeking to contain.
- At the same time, top officials from the world’s wealthiest democracies — the G7 — were meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, trying to find new routes for Ukrainian grain exports blocked by Russian forces, and to help defend against a Russian economic war that is having a wider impact around the world — particularly on food and energy prices.
- Russia continued to bombard largely abandoned and physically devastated towns in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine but failed to make any major gains. Ukrainian forces were also driving Russians from the area to the north around the city of Kharkiv.
War Week, May 1 – 7
- US officials have said they shared information about the location of the Russian warship Moskva with Ukraine prior to its sinking last month, a fresh demonstration of the close intelligence support Kyiv is receiving from Washington.
- Addressing the UK Parliament, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, says the devastated southern port city of Mariupol is “an example of torture and starvation used as a weapon of war”, adding that no international organizations can enter the city.
- The last civilians rescued from the besieged Azovstal steel plant complex in Mariupol reached safety in Ukrainian held territory late on Sunday evening.
- Below; women and children eat and drink at a food tent in Zaporizhzhia catering for evacuees after having arrived from Mariupol, including some civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel plant.
- The United Nations says its new safe passage operation is underway in and around the bombarded southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol continues. It is not clear how many people were a part of the evacuation or whether people at the Azovstal steel plant are involved. After two months sheltering in besieged Mariupol, civilians arrived in Ukraine-held Zaporizhzhia exhausted and with few possessions.
- Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment reported from the Azovstal steel plant:
- Russia has unleashed heavy artillery barrages against multiple Ukrainian positions in the south and east of the country, amid conflicting claims over whether Russian forces were attempting to storm the last Ukrainian positions in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
- While Ukrainian officials and fighters claimed Russian troops had entered the labyrinthine industrial area in the southern city and that heavy fighting was taking place inside, the Kremlin denied its troops had entered and said humanitarian corridors to evacuate trapped civilians were operating there on Thursday.
- Ukrainian fighters inside Azovstal said they were fighting “difficult, bloody battles” inside the plant, according to Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment.
- Ukraine’s military general staff said the assault on the plant had air support, and pictures released by Russian-backed fighters appeared to show smoke and flames enveloping it.
- Russia has unleashed heavy artillery barrages against multiple Ukrainian positions in the south and east of the country.
- Ukrainian fighters inside Azovstal said they were fighting “difficult, bloody battles” inside the plant, according to Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment. Ukraine’s military general staff said the assault on the plant had air support, and pictures released by Russian-backed fighters appeared to show smoke and flames enveloping it.
War Week, April 24 – 30
Russia cuts off gas to Poland, Bulgaria, stoking tensions with E.U.
- Russia’s state-controlled gas company, Gazprom, shut off the supply of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday, and the Kremlin insisted other countries would face the same fate if they refused to pay in rubles — moves that marked a major escalation in the standoff between Russia and Europe over the war in Ukraine.
At a news conference in Brussels, von der Leyen confirmed that both Poland and Bulgaria were getting gas from other E.U. countries. The bloc has made “contingency plans” for cutoffs, she said, and officials will meet soon to discuss additional moves.
- If and how the cutoff would affect gas moving through Poland and Bulgaria to other E.U. countries was not immediately clear. Gazprom said that if PGNiG or Bulgargaz were to siphon off gas intended for third countries, the supplies for those countries “will be reduced.”
Finding alternative suppliers would be far more difficult if Russia expands the number of big countries it cuts off.
Despite a U.S. embargo on oil, gas and coal, and the European coal embargo, Russia is making about as much money from fossil fuel sales as it was making before the invasion, according to estimates by the Wednesday Group, a team of experts tracking Russian energy sales. That amounts to about $1 billion a day, and possibly $1.5 billion a day, in revenue.One idea discussed between the Europeans and Americans would be to put all money for Russian energy purchases into a closely monitored escrow account that could be accessed by Moscow only for specific purchases, such as food and medicine, according to two people familiar with the talks.
Officials and experts have long worried that the E.U. is too dependent on Moscow and have warned that the relationship could be weaponized. The two countries targeted Tuesday are especially vulnerable: Poland gets more than 45 percent of its natural gas from Russia; and Bulgaria, more than 70 percent, according to E.U. data.The E.U. last month pledged to wean off Russian fossil fuels by 2030, starting by cutting gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year.—
- The U.S. secretaries of state and defense were the highest-level American officials to go to Ukraine. The U.S. government had been at extraordinary pains to to keep everything about the trip by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III under wraps until the men were safely out of Ukraine, declining even to confirm that it was taking place.
The awful truth is dawning: Putin may win in Ukraine. The result would be catastrophe …
- A Russian victory would herald a new age of instability, economic fragmentation, hunger for millions and social unrest. The burst of optimism that followed Ukraine’s success in repelling the Russian advance around Kyiv is over. Now, as Moscow begins a huge, slow-motion offensive in the east, concern grows that this conflict has no end-point and that the enormous economic and human damage that results may be permanent – and global.
- The Russian foreign minister has said deliveries of western weaponry to Ukraine mean Nato is “in essence engaged in war with Russia”. In interviews with Russian media, Sergei Lavrov also warned there remained a “real” danger of a third world war. His Ukrainian counterpart, Dymtro Kuleba, said the comments meant only that Moscow “senses defeat in Ukraine”.
- Officials from more than 40 countries are to gather at Germany’s Ramstein airbase on Tuesday for US-hosted talks expected to focus on how to arm Kyiv against a Russian onslaught in eastern Ukraine. The US army general, Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a key goal of the talks was to synchronize and coordinate security assistance to Kyiv that included heavy weaponry.
War Week, April 17 – 23
- After scaling back its publicly stated ambitions in Ukraine, a senior Russian military commander said on Friday that Moscow wanted complete control of all eastern and southern Ukraine. It was unclear if his comments reflected an official shift in Kremlin policy.
- The commander, Rustam Minnekayev, said Russia was seeking to take control of a swath of territory that stretches from its own border, across southern Ukraine, to a pro-Russia separatist enclave of Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbor to the southwest. It was unclear if the statement reflected official policy, but Ukrainians have long warned that Russian aims go far beyond Western assessments.
- Russia pressed its new offensive in eastern Ukraine, while in the port city of Mariupol teams of volunteers collected corpses from the ruins after Moscow declared victory there despite Ukrainian forces holding out.
- Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces had increased attacks along the whole frontline in the east of the country and were trying to mount an offensive in the Kharkiv region, north of Russia’s main target, the Donbas.
- As the war in Ukraine enters a more dangerous and complex phase, the United States is pouring weapons into the theater, prompting a warning from Moscow of “unpredictable consequences.”
- Columnist Fareed Zakaria argued that the United States and its NATO allies are right to be pressing their advantage. “While the assault on Kyiv and the surrounding region has failed,” Fareed wrote, “Moscow’s strategy in the south and east of Ukraine could well succeed. If it does, Russia will have turned Ukraine into an economically crippled state, landlocked and threatened on three sides by Russian military power, always vulnerable to another incursion from Moscow.”
- The United Nations on Friday detailed a “horror story” of possible war crimes and abuses unfolding in Ukraine, citing indiscriminate shelling, hundreds of summary executions and the widespread devastation of civilian lives.
- While Ukrainian forces have committed abuses, including ill-treatment or torture of prisoners of war, “the vast majority” of alleged abuses were attributed to Russian armed forces, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights office, told a news briefing in Geneva.
- Russia’s deadline for Ukrainian troops in Mariupol to surrender passed Sunday morning, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said parts of the embattled port city remained in Ukrainian control.
- Easter 2022, Pope Francis and a message of Peace to the World
“We have seen all too much blood, all too much violence,” he said. “Our hearts, too, have been filled with fear and anguish, as so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves away to be safe from bombing.”
“Let us all commit ourselves to imploring peace, from our balconies and in our streets,” he said, in a plea for people to take up the cause. “May the leaders of nations hear people’s plea for peace.”
War Week, April 10 – 16
Ukraine said it had struck the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet with missiles. The Russia’s flagship in its Black Sea fleet was “seriously damaged” on Thursday and its crew forced to abandon ship. Russia has since confirmed the vessel was damaged, caught fire and sunk.
The successful use of Ukrainian-made Neptune missile systems, which have never been used in combat, would serve as a deterrence to Russian naval forces and make them reconsider plans to conduct amphibious assaults along the Ukrainian coast. If verified, the strike demonstrates the Ukrainians have added capability and a deterrent to Russian ships in the area.
“The sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, is not just a significant loss, it is emblematic of the shambolic Russian military campaign,” said Michael Kofman, research program director and Russia expert at the Center for Naval Analyses. Commissioned in 1983, the ship was armed with 16 anti-ship Vulkan cruise missiles with a range of at least 440 miles (700km). According to reports, it was also carrying S-300 anti-air missiles, which are crucial to Russia’s air superiority over Crimea and Ukraine’s Kherson province, now occupied by Russian troops.
More than 1,000 Ukrainian marines defending the besieged port city of Mariupol have surrendered, Moscow claims.
- In one of the most critical battles of the war, Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday 1,026 soldiers from Ukraine’s 36th marine brigade, including 162 officers, had “voluntarily laid down their arms” near the city’s Ilyich iron and steel works. There was no independent confirmation of the claim.
- The presidents of four countries bordering Russia arrived in Kyiv in a show of support for Ukraine.
- President Zelenskiy warned that the war will become an “endless bloodbath, spreading misery, suffering, and destruction” without additional weaponry. Speaking in English in a video published on Twitter, Zelenskiy said: “Freedom must be armed better than tyranny. Western countries have everything to make it happen.”
- The Russian retreat from around Kyiv has led to the discovery of large numbers of apparently massacred civilians, drawing international condemnation and calls for a war crimes investigation. The Kyiv district police chief said the bodies of 765 civilians, including 30 children, had been found around the capital.
Civilians Rush to Flee as Russian Troops Mass in the East
- U.S. military officials said they expect Russia to carry out a major offensive from the city of Izium to Dnipro, a strategic target in eastern Ukraine. At a train station where dozens were killed in a missile strike on Friday, one survivor said, “The town is dead now.”
- More than 4.4 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, according to data from the United Nations. That figure is expected to grow as the fighting wears on.
- Seven weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has appointed a new top commander, Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, in a major reshuffle.
- Dvornikov assumes the top command role for the war with oversight of the campaign amid mounting civilian deaths, widespread destruction and slow advances, with Russian forces mired in logistical problems and military blunders.
- Before his appointment, there had not been a single military leader for all Russian forces. This lack of cohesion could change under Dvornikov.
- The general had been commanding Russia’s southern military district, a key post he gained after serving as the first leader of the Russian air war campaign in Syria. Russia is accused of committing war crimes in both conflicts.
- As war enters bloody new phase, Ukraine again calls for more weapons
- Russian forces bombarded several towns in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, destroying an airport and damaging several civilian targets, as the war careens toward a pivotal new phase. The shift of the war and fears of full-scale military confrontation on open terrain prompted Ukrainian officials to again call for Western alliances to step up weapons supply efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s position on the battlefield.
- ‘Everything Was Destroyed’: War Hits Ukraine’s Farms
- In the past six weeks, Russian shells have destroyed Ukrainian cities, homes, hospitals and schools. But the war has also reached deep into the fertile plains of a region known as Europe’s breadbasket, paralyzing harvests, destroying granaries and crops, and bringing potentially devastating consequences to a country that produces a large share of the world’s grain.
- Ukraine has already lost at least $1.5 billion in grain exports since the war began, the country’s deputy agriculture minister said recently. And Russia, the world’s leading grain exporter, has been largely unable to export food because of international sanctions.
The combination is creating a global food crisis “beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II,” the chief of the United Nations World Food Program has warned.
In Ukraine, warehouses are filled with grain that cannot be exported. Russia has blocked access to the Black Sea, Ukraine’s main export route, cargo trains face logistical hurdles, and trucking is stymied because most truck drivers are men aged 18 to 60 who are not allowed to leave the country and cannot drive agricultural exports across the border.
Ukraine has also banned some grain exports to ensure that it has enough food to feed its people.
- Russian armed forces was seeking to strengthen troop numbers with personnel discharged from military service a decade ago, as losses mount from its invasion of Ukraine, British military intelligence said on Sunday.
On the home front Russians turn on each other
With President Vladimir V. Putin’s direct encouragement, Russians who support the war against Ukraine are starting to turn on the enemy within. The episodes are not yet a mass phenomenon, but they illustrate the building paranoia and polarization in Russian society. Citizens are denouncing one another in an eerie echo of Stalin’s terror, spurred on by vicious official rhetoric from the state and enabled by far-reaching new laws that criminalize dissent.
War Week, April 3 – 9
- After withdrawing from much of northern Ukraine, Russia is shifting troops to the country’s east to bolster a crucial conflict that may define the next phase of the war.
- Some key locations of this fight are already clear. The Russian military, which is trying to encircle the Ukrainian army, recently seized the eastern city of Izium and will try to push southeast to Sloviansk.
- Russia’s ability to seize Sloviansk is seen as a key test of whether it can succeed at capturing the entirety of the Donbas, which Russian-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years. It took weeks of fighting and shelling for Russia to bring Izium under its control, and Sloviansk is a larger target, with about twice as many residents. Russian troops are reportedly already facing Ukrainian counteroffensives along the way.
- More than 2,000 Ukrainians have made their way to the U.S. border from Mexico over the past 10 days, joining desperate migrants from around the world in what officials expect could become a major border surge as pandemic restrictions are lifted and the continuing fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reaches America’s shores.
- The arrivals present an immediate challenge to U.S. border officials, who are already bracing for a wave of unauthorized migration from countries such as Honduras and Haiti when the United States eases its emergency Covid-19 border rules next month. Now, the United States must also find a way to accommodate thousands of people fleeing a murderous Russian invasion halfway around the world.
- Ukrainian troops have retaken the entire Kyiv region, but they have discovered widespread evidence of what the Kyiv government says are war crimes committed by Russian forces. This includes bodies found in the streets, evidence of killings of civilians, mass graves and murdered children.
- Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a number of other authorities have accused Russian troops of leaving behind mines and other explosives in their retreat of the Kyiv region. In Irpin, crews have found 643 explosive objects.
- Zelenskiy repeated his warning that Russian troops want to capture the Donbas and the south of Ukraine. In his nightly video address, the Ukraine president said “we are aware that the enemy has reserves to increase pressure in the east” but complained that western allies had not sent enough anti-missile systems.
- A series of explosions were heard and smoke was seen in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa in the early hours of Sunday, witnesses said.
- Ukraine’s peace negotiator reportedly said that Russia ‘“verbally” accepts the Ukrainian position on peace talks, AFP reported, except for the issue of Crimea. Moscow had also agreed that a referendum on the neutral status of Ukraine “will be the only way out of this situation.”
- A Red Cross convoy heading to Mariupol will try again to evacuate civilians from the besieged port as Russian forces appeared to be regrouping for new attacks in the south-east.
- The Baltic states have halted all Russian oil imports, and are encouraging the rest of the European Union to follow suit.
- UK military intelligence says Russia has still not been able to destroy Ukraine’s air force and air defences. This failure has “seriously hampered their efforts to gain broad control of the air, which in turn has significantly affected their ability to support the advance of their ground forces on a number of fronts”.
- Pope Francis has come the closest he has yet to implicitly criticising Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, by saying a “potentate” was fomenting conflicts for nationalist interests.
- Ukraine’s prosecutor general says 410 bodies have been found in Kyiv region. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Sunday, as investigators collect evidence of possible war crimes committed by Russian forces in the region. As Russian forces pull back from outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, they left behind abandoned bodies in the streets and allegations of atrocities. Battles continue to rage in the east, the new focus of Russian invasion, amid frantic efforts to rescue trapped residents.
April 1st, 2022
- War Coverage, day 34
- More than 4 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian war.
- Despite repeated claims of de-escalation, Russia is allegedly redeploying as many of 2,000 troops from Georgia to Ukraine. Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia spoke Friday via video link, though previous talks failed to agree even a temporary cease-fire. Another 23,000 people arrived in Poland from Ukraine on Thursday, and another 3,500 early Friday, taking total refugees since Feb. 24 to 2.4 million, Polish border authorities said.
- Russia claims Ukraine sent attack helicopters across the border to bomb an oil storage facility — it true, it would represent the first raid on Russian soil since it launched its invasion.
- Ukraine denied that it launched the attack, raising questions about whether Russian negligence may be to blame. A Russian governor in the border region of Belgorod said early Friday that two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters crossed the border at low altitude before firing rockets at an oil facility 25 miles from the border. Earlier on Friday, the Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych said: “We are holding defensive military operations on our own territory … Everything that happens on Russian territory is the responsibility of the Russian leadership. All questions to them.” A number of prominent Ukrainian commentators have claimed that the attack could be a “false flag” meant to justify a Russian mobilization or scuttle negotiations.
- Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, denied responsibility for the attack. “For some reason, they say that we did it, but in fact this does not correspond with reality,” he said on Ukrainian television.
- In other war-related developments …
- Russian forces have reportedly left the Chernobyl power plant, the Ukrainian Atomic Energy Ministry said, citing personnel at the site. The troops began leaving after soldiers got “significant doses” of radiation from digging trenches at the highly contaminated site, Ukraine’s state power company said. Russians had dug in at a forest inside the exclusion zone around the now-closed plant and “panicked at the first sign of illness”, which “showed up very quickly”, and began preparing to leave.
- Russian troops reportedly took an unspecified number of captive Ukrainian servicemen hostage after exiting the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
- Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, repeated his warning that Russia was preparing for “powerful strikes” in the Donbas region after appearing to withdraw from an assault on Kyiv. The Pentagon agreed Russia may be repositioning some of its forces to send them to the Donbas.
- Nato’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said Russian forces were not withdrawing, but regrouping. He also said the alliance had yet to be convinced Russia was negotiating in good faith in peace talks in Istanbul, because Moscow’s military objective since launching its invasion of Ukraine had not changed.
- Russia is redeploying some of its forces from Georgia to reinforce its invasion, British military intelligence said on Thursday. “It is highly unlikely that Russia planned to generate reinforcements in this manner and it is indicative of the unexpected losses it has sustained during the invasion,” the ministry said.
- The White House said the US had evidence that the war against Ukraine had been “a strategic disaster” for Russia. “We have seen incontrovertible evidence that this has been a strategic disaster for Russia,” the director of communications, Kate Bedingfield, said, adding that Russia was “working to redefine the initial aims of their invasion”.
- President Biden, said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, “seems to be self-isolated” and that “there’s some indication that he has fired or put under house arrest some of his advisers”. .
- War Coverage, days 25-31
- State of Russian invasion of Ukraine
- British Intelligence finds demoralized Russian soldiers in Ukraine, refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft. Sir Jeremy Flemingsaid Vladimir Putin, “massively misjudged” his chances of a swift military victory in Ukraine and claimed the Russian president’s advisers were “afraid to tell him the truth”.
- Zelenskiy said in a video address to the people of Ukraine last night he did not believe Russia’s vows to de-escalate its fighting. He said peace talks with Russia continued “but for the moment there are just words, nothing concrete”.
- Oil prices tumbled on reports that the US is considering tapping its reserves to combat a supply crisis prompted by the Ukraine war. The Russian rouble, meanwhile, has recovered to its pre-war value, despite western sanctions on the country’s exports and financial systems.
- Kyiv: A spokesman for Ukraine’s defense ministry said Monday (3/29) that it is not clear on the ground that Moscow has abandoned attempts to overtake or besiege the capital, despite Russian leaders’ recent claims they are focused on eastern Ukraine and the Pentagon’s suggestions that the invasion has shifted focus. Troops long stalled around Kyiv are withdrawing to Belarus to regroup and could return for a renewed attack, Ukrainian officials warned. After negotiation talks between Ukraine and Russia, Russian forces said Tuesday that they would “drastically reduce” their activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv, a city about 95 miles north.
- Chernihiv: This city has been under near-constant attack and grew more isolated last week when Russia reportedly bombed a major bridge. With power cut and resources dwindling, its situation echoes the humanitarian crisis in Mariupol, where a long and deadly siege preceded street fights.
- Ukrainian on Monday reported that they had pushed back invading Russian forces in fierce fighting around Kyiv and in northeastern Ukraine, while the Russians moved to encircle and cut off Ukrainian forces in the east, making a diplomatic resolution to the war seem as far away as ever.
- Russia’s continuing siege of the pulverized coastal city of Mariupol has killed almost 5,000 people, including 200 children, according to its mayor. While civilian casualties in Russia’s month-long war on Ukraine are widely believed to exceed the more than 1,100 confirmed by the United Nations, the actual number of lives lost has been difficult to verify. Despite reports that the Kremlin is moving to consolidate gains in the east, cities across Ukraine are still being pounded by Russian artillery.
- In Turkey, it was reported Ukrainian and Russian negotiating teams plan to meet tomorrow, though it was revealed Monday (3/28) that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators suffered a suspected poisoning following peace talks in Kyiv earlier this month. They experienced peeling skin, red eyes, loss of eyesight and headaches.
- One Month of War Recap …
A month has passed since blasts woke Ukrainians at 5:07 a.m. on Feb. 24. The sounds of explosions still scare but don’t surprise. Each day since has brought the wail of air-raid sirens, the screech of breaking glass and numbingly frequent moments of silence for the dead.
A month of war with Russia has forced every fourth Ukrainian out of their home. It has shown that Moscow’s forces fire indiscriminately on civilians in their apartments, businesses, hospitals and schools. It has exposed weaknesses in Vladimir Putin’s military, which seems stunned and disoriented by the month-long fight. And it has focused the world’s attention on the unexpected ferocity and power of ordinary people uniting to defend their homes and nation.
U.S. Vows to Take In 100,000 Refugees
- The United States also vows to donate $1 billion to help European countries take in people fleeing the war. As President Biden holds urgent meetings with European leaders, Ukraine says it destroyed a Russian landing ship at a strategic southern port.
- As President Biden met on Thursday with world leaders for an extraordinary day of three summits in Brussels focused on the Ukraine war, the United States said it would take in 100,000 refugees fleeing the fighting.
- The West is working to solidify its stance against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, the outgunned Ukrainian forces are several days into a counteroffensive that has scored some successes. On Thursday, the Ukrainians claimed to have added to their momentum by destroying a Russian landing ship at a southern Ukrainian port in Russian-occupied territory. If confirmed, the attack would be a blow to the already beleaguered Russian forces struggling with logistical and resupply issues. The Russians had said the port was important to their efforts to bring supplies to their troops.
- In the weeks since Russia began its invasion, at least 1,500 civilian buildings, structures and vehicles in Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed. More than 953 civilians have been killed, including at least 78 children, according to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, who noted that the real toll was likely to be considerably higher.
- In just a few weeks, normal everyday life for many people in Ukraine has been obliterated as Russia is investigated for potential war crimes. Buildings and other civilian infrastructure has been targeted since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The war’s toll on Ukraine’s infrastructure alone, beyond the every mounting and tragic loss of life, and as identified and cataloged by The New York Times has included at least 23 hospitals and other health-care infrastructure, 330 schools, 27 cultural buildings, 98 commercial buildings, including at least 11 related to food or agriculture, and 900 houses and apartment buildings.
- With the beginning of the invasion came aggressive airstrikes against military and government buildings and airports in Ukraine. Soon after, Russia appeared to shift many of its attacks to highly populated areas with important civilian infrastructure. Russian attacks have also damaged or destroyed preschools, post offices, museums, sports facilities and factories. Power and gas lines have been severed; bridges and railway stations blown up.
- The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has opened a formal investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under international humanitarian law, combatants and commanders are supposed to take steps to minimize harm to civilians or “civilian objects,” like homes, buildings, other infrastructure or vehicles that are not being used for military purposes. In some cases, they are supposed to warn the occupants ahead of an attack. Russia has engaged in a level of brutality in its targeting of civilians not seen the Syrian war.
- Ukraine’s Outgunned Air Force Is Fighting Back Against Russian Jets
Nearly a month into the fighting, one of the biggest surprises of the war in Ukraine is Russia’s failure to defeat the Ukrainian Air Force. Military analysts had expected Russian forces to quickly destroy or paralyze Ukraine’s air defenses and military aircraft, yet neither has happened. Instead, Top Gun-style aerial dogfights, rare in modern warfare, are now raging above the country.
- “Every time when I fly, it’s for a real fight,” said Andriy, who is 25 and has flown 10 missions in the war. “In every fight with Russian jets, there is no equality. They always have five times more” planes in the air.
- The success of Ukrainian pilots has helped protect Ukrainian soldiers on the ground and prevented wider bombing in cities, since pilots have intercepted some Russian cruise missiles. Ukrainian officials also say the country’s military has shot down 97 fixed-wing Russian aircraft. That number could not be verified but the crumpled remnants of Russian fighter jets have crashed into rivers, fields and houses.
The Ukrainian Air Force is operating in near total secrecy. Its fighter jets can fly from air strips in western Ukraine, airports that have been bombed yet retain enough runway for takeoffs or landings — or even from highways, analysts say. They are vastly outnumbered: Russia is believed to fly some 200 sorties per day while Ukraine flies five to 10.
Most of the aerial combat in Ukraine has been nocturnal, as Russian aircraft attack in the dark when they are less vulnerable to air defenses. In the dogfights over Ukraine, Andriy said, the Russians have been flying an array of modern Sukhoi jets, such as the Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35.
- 2018 picture: A Ukrainian SU-27 flying over Ozerne air base in northern Ukraine …
Ukrainian pilots do have one advantage.
In most of the country, Russian planes fly over territory controlled by the Ukrainian military, which can move anti-aircraft missiles to harass — and shoot down — planes.
- “Ukraine has been effective in the sky because we operate on our own land,” Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said. “The enemy flying into our airspace is flying into the zone of our air defense systems.” He described the strategy as luring Russian planes into air defense traps.
Dave Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and the principal attack planner for the Desert Storm air campaign in Iraq, said the impressive performance of the Ukrainian pilots had helped counter their disadvantages in numbers. He said Ukraine now has roughly 55 operational fighter jets, a number that is dwindling from shoot-downs and mechanical failures, as Ukrainian pilots are “stressing them to max performance.”
- Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has appealed repeatedly to Western governments to replenish the Ukrainian Air Force and has asked NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, a step Western leaders have so far refused to take. Slovakia and Poland have considered sending MiG-29 fighter jets, which Ukrainian pilots could fly with minimal additional training, but as yet no transfers have been made.
- “Russian troops have already fired nearly 1,000 missiles at Ukraine, countless bombs,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video address to Congress on March 16, appealing for more planes. “And you know that they exist, and you have them, but they are on earth, not in Ukraine — in the Ukrainian sky.”
- Mr. Deptula said transferring these jets into Ukraine is critical. “Without resupply,” he said, “they will run out of airplanes before they run out of pilots.”
- “I only have to use my skills to win,” said one young Ukrainian air force pilot. “My skills are better than the Russians. But on the other hand, many of my friends (pilots), and even those more experienced than me, are already dead.”
- Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has appealed repeatedly to Western governments to replenish the Ukrainian Air Force and has asked NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, a step Western leaders have so far refused to take. Slovakia and Poland have considered sending MiG-29 fighter jets, which Ukrainian pilots could fly with minimal additional training, but as yet no transfers have been made.
- “Russian troops have already fired nearly 1,000 missiles at Ukraine, countless bombs,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video address to Congress on March 16, appealing for more planes. “And you know that they exist, and you have them, but they are on earth, not in Ukraine — in the Ukrainian sky.”
- Days 24-25 (weekend), March 18-19
Russia’s war for Ukraine could be headed toward stalemate
Casualties, equipment losses and a lack of progress on the ground are taking an unsustainable toll, experts say
Russia’s attempt to conquer Ukraine could be headed toward a stalemate as heavy casualties and equipment losses take a toll on unprepared Russian forces that have failed so far to achieve any of their initial objectives, Western officials and military experts say.
- The front lines have barely moved in more than a week. Russians are being killed or injured at the rate of up to 1,000 a day, according to Western intelligence estimates, and even more according to Ukrainian ones.
An assessment Saturday by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) went further. “Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war. The conflict has now reached “a stalemate”, it said.
The ferocity of the Russian assault has only intensified as the advances have slowed, with Russia substituting harsh bombardments of civilian populations for progress on the battlefield. Regular Ukrainians living in cities surrounded, or partially surrounded, by Russian troops are paying the price for a war effort that began to go wrong in the first hours.
- But in the absence of substantive progress on the ground and given the scale of the losses being inflicted on its ranks, Russia’s military campaign could soon become unsustainable, with troops unable to advance because they lack sufficient manpower, supplies and munitions, analysts and officials say.
- Weekend War Updates:
- A Ukrainian military spokesman confirmed that Russian forces had hit an underground warehouse for missiles and aviation ammunition in a western Ukrainian village. “The type of missile is yet to be determined,” said Yuriy Ignat, a spokesman for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “We have damage, there is destruction. There is a detonation of ammunition.”
- A Russian rocket attack on a Ukrainian military barracks in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine has killed more than 40 soldiers, a senior Ukrainian military official said. Officials have released few details about the attack, which occurred on Friday (not on Thursday, as this update reported earlier). At the city morgue, dozens of bodies of soldiers in uniform were laid out side by side in a storage area. A morgue employee would not say how many had been brought from the site of the attack. “Many,” the employee said. “I won’t say how many. But many.”
Russia said its forces had used advanced hypersonic missiles to destroy a large underground military munitions depot in the town of Delyatin in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of western Ukraine. The report could not be independently verified. Military experts have questioned whether Russia has hypersonic missiles ready to use in combat. Hypersonic missiles can fly faster that conventional missile defense systems are designed to stop incoming strikes, including missile defense systems now being deployed by NATO in support of the Ukrainian military.
- Day 23 Friday, March 18
- Russian strikes on Lviv raise fears of Ukraine war spreading west
- A Russian missile attack near Lviv airport has raised fears of Vladimir Putin’s war spreading to western Ukraine, as Russia claimed to be “tightening the noose” around the south-eastern port city of Mariupol.
- A facility for repairing military aircraft by Lviv’s international airport – only 43 miles from Poland’s border – was hit by two cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea on Friday morning.
- Ukrainian officials said they had shot down a further four missiles launched in the attack, the second on facilities near the historic city in recent days.
- The strikes raise the specter of Ukraine losing what has so far been a relative haven and hub for refugees and humanitarian aid.
- At least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded on Sunday after more than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted a military facility outside Lviv and only 15 miles from Poland’s border.
- Russia’s bombardment in the east of Ukraine continued on Friday. The Kremlin’s defense ministry claimed its forces and pro-Russian separatists were fighting directly in the streets of Mariupol, where 350,000 civilians have been stranded with little food or water.
- Ukraine War -Russian Embargo Creating a Global Energy Crisis, per IEA
- The war in Ukraine is setting into motion the first global energy crisis of its kind, and nations around the world should respond by reducing their use of oil and gas, the leader of a key international organization warned on Friday.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA), which was formed in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis to ensure a stable worldwide energy market, said that the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were likely to intensify over the next several months as summer driving season got underway with inventories at historic lows.
- “Reducing demand is a way of addressing the situation without just pumping more oil,” said Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director.
- It’s a message that has largely been absent from the conversation in the United States, the world’s largest oil producer, where fossil fuel companies are earning healthy profits and the response to elevated gasoline prices has been calls for more production.
- On Friday, the agency recommended 10 immediate steps that nations could take to conserve oil, including; people working from home up to three days a week and urging travelers to take trains instead of airplanes when possible.
- The recommended measures also include car-free Sundays in cities, car pooling and reducing fares on public transportation.
- If advanced economies put all 10 recommendations into action, they could cut oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day, the agency found.
- That’s also on par with the estimated 2.5 million barrels a day of Russian oil that is expected to be lost to global markets in the next few months as buyers shun it.
- The agency also urged a series of structural, longer-term changes, including electric heat pumps and prioritizing of electric vehicles.
- Day 21-22 Wednesday-Thursday, March 16-17
- I call on you to do more..,
- Urkaine’s Presdient Volodymyr Zelenskiy tells Congress …“Right now the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people”.
- The Ukrainian president says the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is about more than Ukraine, it’s about democracy, freedom, and choosing your own path. It’s also about “Europe and the world.”
- He tells the US to hear him “when we need you right now”.
- He’s telling America to remember the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan in 1941 that brought the US fully into the second world war, remember the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US by al-Qaida terrorists.
- What is happening to Ukraine is something “Europe has not seen in 80 years,” he said.
- “I call on you to do more,” Zelenskiy said.
- He noted that Russia has “turned the skies into a source of death” for troops and the public in Ukraine.
- The wartime leader has made no secret of the fact that he is increasingly frustrated by the west’s refusal to use allied air forces to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, to try to stop the Russian aerial bombardment on Ukrainian cities.
- An idea to send Soviet-style fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine, via US military facilities in Germany, also collapsed earlier this month, as Joe Biden was wary it could be interpreted by Russia as drawing NATO into war.
- Request for Mig-29 jet fighters from Zelenskiy has been met with resistance from NATO as a tipping point to a larger war and with the potential to escalate into a nuclear war. Military analysis have also repeatedly noted that Russia has mostly fought a ground war against Ukraine, employing mostly missiles and artillery, not aircraft, in its attacks on Ukraine – and for good reason.
- Advanced shoulder-fired Stinger and Javlin missile systems supplied by the United States and NATO have provided Ukraine a protective shield against close range aircraft attacks and prevented Russia from gaining control of the skies over Ukraine. Russia has also attacked Ukraine with cruise missiles launched from ground bases and aircraft from within Russia.
- The Ukrainian president just asked, rhetorically, if it is “too much to ask” Nato allies, including the US, to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
- He says if it’s too much, Ukraine also needs vastly more anti-aircraft systems from the west.
- Day 19-20 Monday-Tuesday, March 14-15th
- Attack on Ukrainian base from warplanes inside Russia, underscores limits of no-fly zone proposal
- Russia’s missile attack on a Ukrainian military base near the Polish border was launched from long-range bombers flying inside Russian airspace, the Pentagon said Monday.
- Details of the Russian air strike that killed at least 35 people and marked a significant escalation in the nearly three-week war, and demonstrates a limited value proposition for US and NATO in considering risky war escalation options.
- The attack Sunday in Yavoriv in western Ukraine, about 15 miles from NATO territory, did not disrupt shipments of Western military aid, despite Russia’s claims to the contrary, said a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity underground rules set by the Pentagon.
- The facility has been used in the past by U.S. and NATO troops to provide training for the Ukrainian military and currently houses about 1,000 foreign volunteers who have traveled to Ukraine to aid in its war with Russia. The senior defense official said the Pentagon would “not have a way of knowing or tracking” whether any American citizens were among those killed or wounded in the attack, though he affirmed earlier statements indicating that no U.S. troops, government officials or defense contractors were at Yavoriv when the strike occurred.
- Ukrainian soldiers fire U.S. made Javlin anti-tank missile
- “A no-fly zone would not stop all of the air activity,” the senior defense official said Monday. “It would result in U.S. pilots in combat with Russia.”
- The war in the Russian invasion of Ukraine is mostly a ground war. Ukrainian armed forces employ advanced hand-held fire-and-forget stringer missile air defense systems which effectively control the airspace over combat areas subject to aircraft attacks, and prove so effective in Afghanistan in use by insurgents against the Russian air force, Russia retreated from Afghanistan soon after losing control of the skies.
- The Javlin anti-tank shoulder-launched missile, like the Stringer, is another example of today’s modern and highly accurate fire-and-forget weaponry. Ukraine claims that Russia has lost 335 tanks and over 1,100 armored combat vehicles in the fighting. The United States has already delivered over 17,000 of these shoulder-launched missiles to Ukrainian forces.
- Days 17-18 – Weekend, March 12-13th
- Street battles hit a Kyiv suburb
From the front line
In Irpin, just outside the capital city of Kyiv, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers were fighting a street-by-street battle on Saturday, turning what was a leafy suburb just two weeks ago into a suburban battleground.
Russian troops have gotten this close to the capital only once or twice before. And although the loss of the town would not necessarily mean an immediate advance on Kyiv, a Russian victory here would help tighten the cordon around the city, according to military analysts.
Some residents fleeing their homes on Saturday were crying as they lugged plastic bags of belongings over the concrete debris of a destroyed bridge.
Ukrainian forces blew up the crossing over the Irpin River more than a week ago to prevent Russian tanks from rolling in. Just days ago, along this same escape route, a mother, her children and a family friend were killed during intense shelling.
- One of the Ukrainian fighters trying to hold the Russians at bay on Saturday, a man named Vitaly, had taken up a position outside what would once have been an unlikely spot for combat: a gas station mini-market, its windows now blown out by shelling, on the city’s western edge. This is his hometown, and he joined the volunteer forces called the Territorial Defense Forces to try to protect it just two weeks ago.
“We are trying to push them back,” he said, “but we don’t control the town.”
The battle for the northwestern suburb of Irpin — about three miles from Kyiv’s city limits — literally echoed in the capital, where the low rumble of sustained fire was close enough to be heard now in most parts of the city. Artillery duels between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the suburbs that had intensified on Friday continued throughout the day Saturday.
Ukrainian forces were firing volleys of Grad rocket artillery, shot from truck-mounted boxes of rockets, typically with a dozen or more fired at a time. Although the artillery was out of view, the whooshing noises of the rockets blasting off, followed a few seconds later by the distant thuds of impacts, could be heard every 20 minutes or so.
So far on Saturday, the rockets flew over Irpin, rather than crashing into it.
Vadim Kovalchuk, 33, a construction engineer who had also stayed as a volunteer soldier, described the Irpin he has known as a “wonderful town,” a perfect place for people who wanted to be close to Kyiv and its job market and schools.
US Weapons Supply Chain Bolsters Ukraine Defense
The White House has approved an additional $200 million in arms and equipment for Ukraine, administration officials said on Saturday, responding to urgent requests from President Volodymyr Zelensky for more aid to stave off the Russian invasion.
The latest arms package, which officials say includes Javelin antitank missiles and Stinger antiaircraft missiles, follows a $350 million arms package the Biden administration approved last month. Altogether, the administration has sent $1.2 billion in weapons to Ukraine in the past year, officials said.
In less than a week at the beginning of the Russian assault, the United States and NATO pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelins, into the hands of Ukrainian commanders.
Russia has so far not attacked these shipments because its forces have been otherwise too busy. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, warned that Moscow would start firing on such shipments, stirring fears of an escalation to the conflict.
Day 16 – Friday, March 11th
Russia widens attack; airstrikes on western Ukraine cities
Airfields far from the main areas of war hit, while convoy near Kyiv seems to have dispersed into firing positions.
- The Ukrainian military said Russia was trying to “block” Kyiv by taking out defenses to the west and north of the capital, adding that there was also a risk to Brovary on the east.
- As the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, said that about 2 million people, half the population of the metropolitan area, had left the capital, preparations continued for its defense. “Every street, every house is being fortified,” he said.
- “Even people who in their lives never intended to change their clothes, now they are in uniform with machine guns in their hands.”
- Ukrainian soldiers described fierce fighting for control of the main highway leading into the capital, while missile strikes were reported hitting Velyka Dymerka just outside Kyiv’s city limits.
- “It’s frightening, but what can you do?” said Vasil Popov, a 38-year-old who works in advertising sales. “There is nowhere to really run or hide. We live here.”
- The satellite photos of Russian concentrations around Kyiv, meanwhile, appeared to show a massive convoy previously detected outside the Ukrainian capital had fanned out into towns and forests near the city with artillery pieces raised for firing, in another potentially ominous movement.
EU leaders announce intention to collectively rearm in face of Putin threat
Versailles declaration says Russia’s war in Ukraine has heralded ‘tectonic shift in European history’. EU leaders have announced their intention to collectively rearm and become autonomous in food, energy and military hardware in a Versailles declaration that described Russia’s war as “a tectonic shift in European history”.
At a quickly convened summit, the 27 heads of state and government said on Friday that the invasion of Ukraine had shown the urgent need for the EU to take responsibility for its own security and to rid itself of dependencies on others.
- Day 15 – Thursday, March 10th
- Russian forces were making slow, bitterly-fought advances in Ukraine on Thursday as high-level talks failed to yield progress on ending the war or even a temporary cease-fire. Russian troops were laying siege to Chernihiv, near the Belarus border, where the mayor reported that the city was running out of burial space as the death toll rises.
- Although Russia has failed to capture major cities in the past week, its forces have gradually pushed forward into smaller population centers. Outside of Kyiv, Russian forces gained control of the town of Bucha and moved southwest in an attempt to encircle the capital. They were also approaching Kyiv from the east, with heavy fighting involving a line of Russian tanks reported in the suburb of Brovary.
- Hundreds of thousands in Mariupol have no food, water, heat, electricity or medical care. Hundreds of thousands of people in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol have no food, water, heat, electricity, or medical care amid an “increasingly dire and desperate” humanitarian situation, says the International Red Cross.
- Putin endorses plan to nationalize foreign businesses fleeing Russia as alarm grows over job losses
- On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed a plan to nationalize foreign-owned businesses that flee the country over its invasion of Ukraine, reflecting the Kremlin’s alarm over job losses and other economic pain the exodus is inflicting.
That proposal would allow the government to request a court order to impose external management on the factories, shops and other facilities that departing companies leave behind to “prevent bankruptcy and preserve jobs,” Putin’s party, United Russia, said in a statement this week. The “External” management would last for 3 months, after which the government would put the businesses up for auction, the party statement said.
- Two Weeks into War — Day Fourteen – Wednesday, March 9th
- A Bloody War, no end in sight
- More than 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine so far since the start of the Russian invasion two weeks ago, the UN said today. The UN migration agency said that of those who have been forced to take refuge in neighboring countries, 112,000 people are third-country nationals.
- A meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba, in Turkey ended with little progress appearing to have been made. In a news conference afterwards, Reuters reports that Kuleba said that no progress was made on a ceasefire and that Lavrov did not commit to a humanitarian corridor in the south-eastern city of Mariupol, where he said the situation was most difficult. Lavrov also said that Russia will try to never again be dependent on the west.
- Vladimir Putin claims the west is trying to blame Russia for its own mistakes with the US ban on oil and accused countries of deceiving their populations.
- Day Thirteen – Tuesday, March 8
- The Human Toll of Putin’s War
- The United Nations said the number of refugees who have fled Ukraine had surged past 2 million, describing the flight as one of the fastest exoduses in modern times.
- The World Health Organization said that attacks on hospitals, ambulances and other health care facilities in Ukraine have increased rapidly in recent days and warned the country is running short of vital medical supplies. Children with cancer are among patients needing urgent care.
- Ukraine said a separate convoy of 30 buses was also headed to Mariupol to evacuate residents from that southern port, which has been encircled without food, water, power or heat and subjected to relentless bombardment for a week.
- The Economic Toll of Putin’s War
- The United States will move ahead with a ban on Russian oil imports without the participation of allies in Europe. Officials said President Biden had struggled for days over the move amid deep concerns about accelerating the already rapid rise in the price of gasoline hitting the pocketbooks of U.S. Consumers.
- President Biden on Tuesday banned imports of Russian oil, gas and coal in response to what he called President Vladimir V. Putin’s “vicious war of choice” in Ukraine, but warned Americans that the decision to inflict economic pain on Russia would inevitably mean higher gas prices at home.
- “Defending freedom is going to cost,” Mr. Biden said in televised remarks announcing the ban at the White House.
- The president’s move immediately shut off a relatively small flow of oil into the United States, but it was quickly followed by a British pledge to phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year and a declaration from the European Commission — the executive arm of the European Union, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas — to make itself independent of that supply in the coming years.
- So what would a U.S. ban on Russian oil mean for the world?
- Shell apologized for buying Russian crude oil last week and said it would withdraw completely from any involvement in Russian hydrocarbons over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The London Metal Exchange halted nickel trading after prices doubled to a record $100,000 per ton, fueled by a race to cover short positions after Western sanctions threatened supply from major producer Russia. Russia is the world’s top exporter of crude and oil products combined, at around 7 million barrels per day (bpd ) or 7% of global supply. Such a ban would be unprecedented, turbocharging already sky-high prices and risking inflationary shock.
- The possibility that the United States might ban Russian oil imports has triggered a surge in Brent crude to almost $140 a barrel, its highest level since 2008.
- Russia aims to isolate Ukrainian forces in the east
- Ukrainian forces have held off Russian forces from taking control of new cities in recent days. But the Russians continue to make smaller advances on multiple fronts, and they appear to be aiming for a critical target in central Ukraine: the city of Dnipro.
- Dnipro occupies an important position. If Russian troops can advance on it both from the north, near Kharkiv, and from the south, up from Crimea, they could isolate Ukrainian forces fighting in the Donbas region in the east, or force them to retreat.
- If the Ukrainian forces in the east are not already withdrawing, they could be potentially encircled and destroyed soon, according to an analysis by Konrad Muzyka, a defense analyst for Rochan Consulting.
- The Russian effort in southern Ukraine has made the most progress since the invasion began 13 days ago, and Russian forces have continued to press north of Melitopol after taking control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Friday.
- One aim of recent advances appears to be uniting three groups of Russian forces: troops in the south coming from Crimea; troops moving southeast from near Kharkiv; and Russia-backed separatists pushing the front line in the Donbas region.
- Mariupol, a city on Ukraine’s southern coast, is still holding out against a Russian siege that has left residents without electricity or basic services. It is the last city standing between the unification of Russia-backed separatists attacking from the east and Russian troops advancing from Crimea.
- Day Twelve – Monday, March 7
- Russia moves toward Kyiv from the east and attacks civilians from the west
- In the first 11 days of the war, Russian forces have pushed into the areas north and northeast of Kyiv, in an effort to encircle and capture the capital city.
- Russia has moved to encircle other key cities throughout the north as it advances toward Kyiv, according to intelligence reports from Britain’s Ministry of Defense. Attempts to take Chernihiv have not been successful, while advances from Sumy through the sparsely populated areas to the east of Kyiv have been met with less resistance, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington research group.
- Russia’s ground forces, including armored vehicles and tanks, have made less progress in the dense, urban areas around Kyiv. Ukrainian forces have launched ambushes using small, nimble military units to sneak up on Russian forces. These units are armed with anti-tank missiles that are used to counter Russia’s heavy machinery. While Russia has not launched major ground operations into the heart of Kyiv over the past two days, intense shelling has continued in several surrounding towns.
- Putin pushes war on Ukraine forward
- As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heads toward the two-week mark, the stakes look set to rise — with potentially catastrophic implications for Ukrainians and their defense.
- Despite Russia’s status as the most-sanctioned nation in the world, President Vladimir Putin said the war will continue until Ukraine accepts his demands and halts resistance, dimming hopes for a negotiated settlement. Fresh talks Monday between Ukrainian and Russian officials made only limited progress on negotiating a cease-fire, the government in Kyiv said.
Weekend War Developments – Saturday / Sunday, March 5-6
- The number of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion could potentially reach 1.5 million by the end of the weekend, the head of the UN refugee agency has said. The figure is currently above 1.3 million.
- Vladimir Putin has said Ukraine’s statehood will be threatened if its leaders continued to resist his military invasion. He also described western sanctions on Russia as akin to a declaration of war.
- Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, was seized by Russian forces on Friday, after an attack that started a fire close to one of its six reactors. No release of radiation was reported, but Ukrainian officials said workers had not been able to check all the safety infrastructure in the wake of the attack.
- An emergency summit of the UN security council was summoned after the attack on the Zaporizhzhia power plant. The US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the world narrowly averted a “nuclear catastrophe” and condemned Russia’s actions as “reckless” and “dangerous”. The US embassy in Ukraine says the attack on the nuclear plant is a war crime.
Days Eight & Nine of the War – Thursday / Friday, March 3-4
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine passed its first week, panicked residents of Kyiv swarmed the capital’s main train station on Friday to flee the city before the window closes to escape and Russian forces increasingly bore down on cities along the strategically important Black Sea Coast in the south.
Russian forces there were trying to buttress their advance after capturing control of the southern city of Kherson two days ago. In the nearby city of Mykolaiv, residents were bracing for an imminent attack, adding to the concerns that Russia could soon gain control of the coast and cut the country off from international shipping.
In a vivid sign of how fraught the situation has become, the Ukrainian Navy purposely sank the flagship of its own Black Sea fleet on Thursday to prevent the warship from being seized in any Russian military assault.
Worldwide alarm over a fire at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine was easing after international monitors said Friday that there was no immediate sign that radiation had leaked during the battle for the plant. By Friday, the plant was in Russian hands.
Here are the latest developments:
- Nuclear plant seized. Russian troops seized control of Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, located in southeastern Ukraine. A nearby fire had been extinguished, and there was no immediate sign that radiation had leaked.
As thousands of people, mostly women and children, raced to catch trains in Kyiv, several large explosions shook the city on Friday. A silvery, metallic tail section of what appeared to be a cruise missile landed in a parking lot. Ukraine’s military said in a statement that the Russian army’s primary objective is now to encircle the capital.
- Russian bombardment of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has devastated residential areas and business districts, videos verified by The New York Times’s Visual Investigations team show.
The U.S. is imposing sanctions on eight members of Russia’s elite and placing visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs and their families, the White House said. The Biden administration also said it would allow some Ukrainians to stay temporarily in the country, and the European Union and Canada announced similar measures for Ukrainians fleeing the invasion.
- Smaller Ukrainian towns have been taking the brunt of the war, mostly out of the headlines since Moscow took its brutal war against civilians to the country’s biggest cities. In Volnovakha, for example, Russian forces are terrorizing civilians for military aims, techniques honed in Syria. Over 80% of the town has been destroyed or damaged in an intense bombardment, leaving barely any buildings were entirely untouched. People started their evacuation after three days, when Russian forces stopped bombing the town and people could leave the shelters. The Russian war has shut off water, gas, electricity for the past four days using a variety of weapons on infrastructure and civilians ranging from Grad rockets to artillery and mines.
- The Russian people are being fed a daily stream of propaganda served up as “conflict” news — On Friday, in a move to turning up the pressure info warfare, the Russian Parliament targeting western media outlets, passed a law on Friday punishing the spreading of “false information” about Russia’s armed forces with as much as 15 years in prison, the latest move by the Kremlin to criminalize any political opposition and independent news reporting during its war against Ukraine.
- The BBC has temporarily suspended its operations in Russia on Friday after the country’s new censorship law that penalizes anyone deemed to be “discrediting” the Russian military with 15 years in prison.
Day Seven of the War – Wednesday, March 2
- Russian troops seized the strategically important city of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said, in a significant moment in the battle for the country’s south. Explosions struck the capital, Kyiv, and Russian troops continued to lay siege to Kharkiv.
- Russian forces had encircled the city, said Igor Kolykhaev, Kherson’s mayor, and after days of intense fighting, Ukrainian forces retreated toward the nearby city of Mykolaiv.
- Using airstrikes, ballistic missiles and tanks to destroy or seize an array of military objectives, Russian forces opened a three-front campaign with troops and heavy weaponry moving from the north, south and east.
As the war in Ukraine pushed into its seventh day on Wednesday, Russian forces captured the strategically important hub of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said, making it the first major city to be overcome by President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces since the invasion began last Thursday.
Ukrainians rush to cross to neighboring countries
Fighting throughout the country has driven more than one million from Ukraine into neighboring countries, as of Wednesday. According to border police authorities, the majority of Ukrainians are fleeing to Poland, Moldova and Hungary.
Day Six of the War – Tuesday, March 1
Fiona Hill, one of America’s most clear-eyed Russia experts, someone who has studied Putin for decades, worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations and has a reputation for truth-telling.
“Ukraine has become the front line in a struggle, not just between democracies and autocracies but in a struggle for maintaining a rules-based system in which the things that countries want are not taken by force,” Hill said. “Every country in the world should be paying close attention.
Ukraine: what we know on day six of Russia’s invasion
- About half a million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began last week, according to the United Nations refugee agency. About half of them crossed Ukraine’s western border to Poland. Others have gone to Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia. Ukraine enacted martial law at the beginning of the conflict that requires men ages 18 to 60 to remain in the country.
- There are reports of air-raid sirens in several Ukrainian cities on Tuesday morning as the nations braces itself for another day of bombing by Russian forces. The Kyiv Independent media outlets says the sirens are going off in Rivne west of Kyiv, along with Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Volyn.
- More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the head of the region wrote on Telegram.
- Russian forces have launched rocket attacks that killed “dozens” of civilians in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, and began a renewed assault on the capital, Kyiv.
- At least nine people have been killed, including three children, and 37 wounded in one day after the shelling in the Kharkiv, the city’s mayor said.
- The southern Ukraine city of Kherson is “surrounded” by Russian soldiers, according to accounts by a Ukrainian journalist, Alyona Panina, and the city’s mayor.
- The international criminal court’s prosecutor has announced that he will launch an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
- Satellite images taken on Monday show a Russian military convoy north-west of Kyiv that stretches for about 40 miles.
- The US has promised further sanctions against Russia and more weapons for Ukraine’s military, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.
- The office of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) has reported at least 406 civilian casualties, including at least 102 dead.
- As expected, High-level talks between Ukraine and Russia that took place on the border with Belarus on Monday morning ended without a breakthrough.
Day Five of the War – Monday 2/28/22
West’s Plan to Isolate Putin: Undermine the Ruble; working
- Measures announced over the weekend aimed at restricting the Russian central bank’s ability to support the ruble appear to be having an immediate impact.
- By targeting Russia’s central bank with sanctions, experts said, American and European leaders have taken aim at what could be one of President Vladimir V. Putin’s greatest weaknesses: the country’s currency.
- In Russian cities, anxious customers started lining up on Sunday in front of A.T.M.s, hoping to withdraw the money they had deposited in banks, fearful it would run out. The panic spread on Monday. As the purchasing power of the ruble drops sharply, consumers who hold it are finding that they can buy less with their money. In real terms, they become poorer. Such economic instability could stoke popular unhappiness and even unrest.
- “If people trust the currency, the country exists,”Michael S. Bernstam, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said. “If they don’t, then it goes up in smoke.”
- The sanctions aimed at the banking system were announced during a tense weekend in which Mr. Putin put his nuclear forces on a higher level of alert. The United States, the European Commission, Britain and Canada agreed to remove some Russian banks from the international system of payments known as SWIFT and to restrict Russia’s central bank from using its storehouse of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth international reserves to undermine the sanctions.
- It is a point that Lenin himself reportedly made more than a century ago, which was repeated by the legendary economist John Maynard Keynes: “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.”
Initial US response to Russian Attack: hit them where it hurts; their pocketbooks
President Biden enacted last week the “first tranche” of financial sanctions against on Russia in response to Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of two so-called self-proclaimed republics in east Ukraine. The president said the US would impose sanctions on Russian financial institutions, sovereign debt, and the country’s ruling elites and their family members.
Chief among their targets: Russian banks and their ability to operate internationally.
European foreign ministers agreed to sanction 27 individuals and entities connected to Putin, including banks financing Russian decision-makers and operations in the breakaway territories.
The new sanctions are more a warning shot and likely to have minimal impact. Western governments – for now – are preferring to keep the much larger sanctions packages that they have planned in reserve should the crisis escalate.
- Belarus may be about to send its troops into Ukraine
- Move could happen this week as official says Minsk is ‘now an extension of the Kremlin’
- Belarus may be preparing to send its soldiers into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion, perhaps as soon as this week, according to a US defence official, amid mounting concern about Minsk’s military preparations.
- Belarus has already been used as a staging post by Russian forces, who gathered there on the pretext of joint military exercises before last week’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now there is increasing evidence that Minsk may be moving towards becoming an explicit participant in the war.
- On Monday it announced it was revoking its non-nuclear status after a referendum, allowing Russian weapons to be placed in Belarus. The move provoked rare protests in the country.
- Russian and Ukrainian delegations were due to hold talks about the conflict in southern Belarus, near the Ukrainian border, on Monday. The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said on the Telegram app that his delegation had arrived, including the defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, a close adviser to the president and the deputy foreign minister.
- “The key issue of the negotiations is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy’s office said.
- Images have emerged in recent days of trains loaded with tanks reportedly arriving in the city of Brest, in south-west Belarus, and there have been reports of missile and aircraft launches from within Belarus.
- Four Days into War – Sunday 2/27/22
- Four days after the invasion there are signs that Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is not quite going to plan.
- Russian forces are continuing to slowly bear down on the city, but were repelled in Bucha and Irpin, on the north-west outskirts, after what appears to have been a poorly coordinated attack by irregular forces.
- There have been several days of heavy fighting in the area since Russia staged an airborne landing of forces in the nearby Hostomel military airport. Three bridges in the area have been reportedly blown up by Ukrainian forces to slow down the Russian advance.
- Earlier, in the Sumy region close to the border with Russia, a local resident came across an extraordinary sight. On a country road lined with birch trees, a Russian armored vehicle had broken down.
- He pulled up in his car and stopped. There was then a surreal conversation.
- “Looks like you guys broke down,” he said to three Russian soldiers, standing by the road. “We ran out of fuel,” one replied. “Can I tow you back to Russia,” he joked. They laughed and asked him for news. “Do you know where you are going?” he inquired. “No,” they answered.
- Further along the road other Russian vehicles had conked out. The driver told the hapless soldiers that “everything is on our side” and that Russians were busy surrendering. No one from Putin’s invading army seemed to know where they were going, or why they were even in Ukraine, he concluded.
- It is too early to describe the Kremlin’s operation to seize and subjugate Ukraine as a failure. The war has only just started. Putin may yet prevail. The Russian military enjoys overwhelming superiority over Ukraine’s armed forces. It has numerous combat aircraft, a vast navy and 150,000 deployed troops.
- And yet by Saturday, it was clear Putin’s blitzkrieg operation to remove Ukraine’s pro-western government had run into unexpected difficulties. Evidently, there were logistical issues. Re-supplying troops in a vast enemy country was proving a challenge.
- So was seizing Kyiv, Ukraine’s defiant capital, home in normal times to three million people. The Kremlin’s original plan, according to Ukrainian intelligence, was to encircle the city with land forces and, during a night operation, to fly in 5,000 elite paratroopers.
- They would storm the Mariinsky presidential palace, detain or kill Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and take control over key government buildings, including the foreign and defense ministries. Having mopped up resistance, and arrested key figures, Moscow would install a pro-Russian puppet administration.
- This has not happened. Instead, Kyiv remained under government control this weekend after Ukrainian forces repulsed a series of attacks. Zelenskiy has encouraged his citizens with homemade videos. Meanwhile, Russian parachutists who tried to seize an airfield in the city of Vasylkiv, as a bridgehead to grab Kyiv, were beaten back.
- Russian war machine working to get its war act together
- Satellite images showed a large, 3.25-mile long line of newly deployed forces in a convoy north-east of Ivankiv, moving in the direction of Kyiv approximately 40 miles to the south. The convoy contains fuel, logistics and armored vehicles.
- There were signs of a switch in tactics, with Russia more actively targeting fixed infrastructure with missile attacks. An oil terminal was set ablaze in Vasylkiv, nearly 40km south-west of Kyiv. The blast sent huge flames and billowing black smoke into the night sky.
- Air forces
- Ukraine still appears able to conduct limited air operations, much to the surprise of western military analysts who had expected a determined and far larger Russian air force to have destroyed Ukrainian planes almost immediately.
- The Black Sea and the south
- The Russian military continued to make progress in the south, aided by its naval superiority in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Ukrainian defence sources said that Russian forces captured part of Kherson, the city at the mouth of the Dnieper River.
- Russia’s defense ministry said it had blockaded Kherson and also Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov. Video emerged of a Russian Buk missile system – the type that shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 – which was geolocated to Berdyansk. Russia also said it had taken control of an airbase between Kherson and Henichesk, a city on the Sea of Azov.
- Although Mariupol, close to the Russian border, remained in Ukrainian hands, Russia is believed to have created a land corridor that connects the nearby self-proclaimed republics in Luhansk and Donetsk to the Crimea by going around the city. Russian forces were also reported to have reached on the eastern side of the Dnieper River.
- Beginning of the War
- On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, one of its neighbors to the southwest. Early reports declared it the largest conventional warfare operation in Europe since World War II. It marks a major escalation between the countries that had been in a state of conflict since 2014.
- The invasion was preceded by a Russian military build-up near Ukraine’s boarders started in early 2021.
- Around 05:00 (UTC+2) on 24 February, Putin announced a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine; minutes later, missiles began to hit locations across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv. The Ukrainian Border Service said that its border posts with Russia and Belarus were attacked. Two hours later, Russian ground forces entered the country. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by enacting martial law, severing diplomatic ties with Russia, and ordering general mobilization
Ukrainian forces offering ‘strong resistance’ to Russian invasion
Western officials are increasingly confident that the Russian mission is falling behind on its timetable for the invasion, with Putin’s forces still confined largely to rural areas while Ukraine concentrates its troops in urban areas in order to mount a determined defense against the expected assault.
But there are concerns that if they find themselves frustrated in their efforts to swiftly overwhelm the cities, invading force commanders may resort to indiscriminate use of artillery or “thermobaric” high-temperature weapons with the potential for mass civilian casualties.
The UK’s chief of defense intelligence Lt-Gen James Hockenhull told reporters: “Russian forces continue to advance and surround on two axes towards Kyiv. Their objective is to encircle the capital, to secure control of the population and change the regime”.
Russian troops continued to press their offensive against Kyiv as well as other cities across Ukraine on Saturday, as residents sought shelter in the capital’s metro system and in basements during a third day of fierce bombardment.
As Russian strikes continued to pound Kyiv, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, refused a US offer to evacuate, insisting he would stay. “The fight is here,” he said as street fighting continued, largely around the edges of the city.
Zelenskiy also offered renewed assurance that the country’s military would stand up to the Russian invasion. In a video recorded in the street close to the government quarter, he said he remained in the city and that claims the Ukrainian military would put down arms were false.
“Russia continues to conduct strikes across Ukraine. Overnight, Russia launched a concerted series of strikes on targets in Kyiv. Rocket launchers have been employed in Chernihiv and Kharkiv.”
Ukrainian armed forces continue to offer strong resistance focusing on the defense of key cities throughout Ukraine. As the second day of the invasion drew to an end, Ukrainian forces retain control of all the country’s major cities.
Ukrainian military forces are continuing to offer “strong resistance” to Russian forces attempting to seize cities on the second day of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, according to Western sources.
Western officials fear use of ‘indiscriminate violence’ if Putin is frustrated in hopes of swift victory
Russian tank units which have entered Ukraine from multiple directions appear to be attempting to encircle capital Kyiv, and there are fears that a bloody and protracted battle for the city may develop with use of indiscriminate violence from the invading forces.
After vilification of leading figures of the Ukrainian government as “Nazis” by the Russian president, there is grave concern that individuals such as Volodymyr Zelensky are now targets for special forces infiltrating the city.
Russia ‘neutralized’ Ukraine air defenses before massive invasion
Russian forces have unleashed an attack on Ukraine on the orders of Vladimir Putin, who announced a “special military operation” at dawn, amid warnings from world leaders that it could spark the biggest war in Europe since 1945. Putin’s forces have mounted 203 attacks, says Ukraine, and former defense minister reports ground invasions on several fronts.
Within minutes of Putin’s short televised address, at about 5am Ukrainian time, explosions were heard near major Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv.
The scope of the Russian attack appears to be massive. Ukraine’s interior ministry reported that the country was under attack from cruise and ballistic missiles, with Russia appearing to target infrastructure near major cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Dnipro.
By mid-afternoon on Thursday, Russia’s defense ministry claimed to have “neutralized” Ukraine’s airbases and air defenses, destroying 74 military ground facilities, including 11 airfields, three command posts and 18 radar stations for anti-aircraft missile systems.
Ukrainian authorities said Russia had carried out 203 attacks and that fighting was going on across almost the entire territory.
First major land war in Europe since World War II
As the Russian military plunged into Ukraine by land, sea and air, killing dozens of Ukrainian soldiers, and ominously touching off a pitched battle at the highly radioactive Chernobyl exclusion zone, there is now a risk of damaging the cement-encased nuclear reactor that melted down in 1986, and the release of high concentrations of radioactivity with global airborne impactions.
The day began before sunrise with the terrifying thud of artillery strikes on airports and military installations all over Ukraine. And by sunset, Russian special forces and airborne troops were pushing into the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv.
While the ultimate goal of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and his generals remained unclear, American officials assessed that the end game was likely the decapitation of Ukraine’s government and the replacement of its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, with a Russian-controlled puppet regime.
Germany to send anti-tank weapons and missiles
Analysis — Russia / Ukraine War; implications for America and the world
The top senator overseeing U.S. intelligence agencies tells Axios he’s deeply concerned cyberattacks launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin could morph into a broader war that draws in NATO nations — including the United States.
Why it matters: President Biden has ruled out American boots on the ground in Ukraine. But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), said in an interview Wednesday that Putin’s actions during the next few days risk triggering NATO’s Article 5 collective defense principle.
Warner foresees two ways a digital war could draw in NATO countries, including the United States:
- Putin deploys cyber weapons inside Ukraine that take on a life of their own and spread to NATO member states. This has happened before — most notably in 2017, when Russia’s NotPetya malware was unleashed in Ukraine and ended up causing billions of dollars in damage to companies worldwide.
- Putin retaliates against the West’s toughest sanctions by ordering direct cyberattacks targeting infrastructure inside the U.S. and other NATO allies. The U.S. government issued an alert this week urging businesses and agencies to protect their “most critical digital assets,” citing “the potential for the Russian government to consider escalating its destabilizing actions” beyond Ukraine.
What they’re saying: “If you’re suddenly having 190,000 troops attack Ukraine, chances are, if he’s coming in that hard kinetic, that the cyberattack will not be a single piece of malware,” Warner told Axios.
- He spoke shortly after news broke of cyberattacks bringing down Ukrainian government websites.
- “Nation states have been holding on to these malware tools. They’ve been storing them up; we have, too, literally for years on end,” he said.
- “If you unleash not one, but five, or 10, or 50, or 1,000 at Ukraine, the chances of that staying within the Ukrainian geographic border is quite small. … It could spread to America, could spread to the U.K., but the more likely effect will be spreading to adjacent geographic territory … [such as] Poland (a NATO member).”
- “It suddenly gets into a gray area about, what would the Polish people’s reaction be? What would NATO’s reaction be? What would America’s reaction be? Nobody’s physically shot at [American troops], but they could come in harm’s way.”
The potential cyberattacks from Putin targeting NATO members, including the Untied States.
- “Putin’s been pretty clear that one of the first tools he would use to bring economic harm to NATO and America is cyber,” Warner said.
- “Play over that whole scenario, just at a larger level, and all the hypothetical conversations about what will constitute an act of war … suddenly get very real.”
- Dmitri Alperovitch, a Russian-born U.S. computer security expert, said Putin could respond to the most severe Western sanctions by giving ransomware groups an “implicit carte blanche” to declare “open season,” while Russian government forces could be ordered to target critical infrastructure.
Context: The “denial-of-service” (DOS) attacks reported in Ukraine during the past two weeks were significant, but nowhere near the scale of the massive Russian cyberattacks U.S. officials fear could paralyze communications and shut down critical infrastructure during an invasion.
- Fears of cyberwarfare “spillover” are entirely reasonable, since many forms of malware are designed to multiply and overwhelm targets and continue wreaking havoc.
- They rarely have “off” buttons by design — and they don’t recognize international boundaries.
Europe in the Crosshairs as Russia Invades Ukraine – Again
What’s happening: Russia has started to invade Ukraine. For weeks it had been massing troops along the border, and it has now sent troops into two rebel-held parts of the country, declaring them independent of Ukraine. That constituted “the beginning of a Russia invasion of Ukraine,” President Biden said.
“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?” Biden demanded in the east room of the White House. “This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community.”
What could happen next: It’s possible Russia could try to annex the entire country. President Biden noted that Russia has set up field hospitals and brought blood supplies to the edge of Ukraine. “You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war,” he said.
How the U.S. is responding: The President has ruled out sending any U.S. soldiers to fight in Ukraine. So his other alternative is to issue sanctions on Russian elites and businesses. He said the United States is imposing sanctions on two of Russia’s largest banks, cutting it off from getting loans from the West, and on Russian elites and their families. And he said there’s more to come.
This is also a test of American power. “The world is watching,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement, warning that free nations around the globe could be at risk from bad actors. “Our allies, our adversaries, and neutral countries will all judge the West by our response — and plan their futures accordingly.”
Also more practically, oil prices could spike and stocks could drop and inflation could keep going as a result of war abroad. “Defending freedom will have a cost,” Biden warned Americans on Tuesday.
Other Breaking News
Nearly three-quarters of Americans have some Covid immunity
Omicron infections and vaccinations mean future surges likely to be less severe but 80 million Americans still totally unprotected.
Almost three-quarters of Americans are now estimated to have some level of immunity to the Omicron Covid variant that created havoc after it emerged late last year just as people hoped the pandemic was finally waning.
The subsequent Omicron wave that assaulted the US this winter has, however, bolstered its defenses, leaving enough protection against the coronavirus that future surges will probably require much less – if any – dramatic disruption to society, experts reckon.
Millions of individual Americans’ immune systems now recognize the virus and are primed to fight it off if they encounter Omicron, or even another variant.
“We have changed,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We have been exposed to this virus and we know how to deal with it.”
The coronavirus – the current variant or future ones that are sure to pop up – remains a dangerous germ. It is still infecting more than 130,000 Americans and killing more than 2,000 every day. Tens of millions of people remain vulnerable.
And there will be future outbreaks. The notion of a “herd immunity” that could stop the virus has slipped away under the harsh reality of new variants, waning immunity and the rejection of vaccination by some Americans.
But the coronavirus is no longer new. Two years ago it arrived in a nation where nobody’s immune system had seen it before.
US emissions roared back last year after pandemic drop
- Planet-heating emissions rose by 6.2% compared with 2020 – a rise largely down to increase in cars and trucks on the road
- Planet-heating emissions roared back in the United States in 2021, dashing hopes that the pandemic would prove a watershed moment in greening American society to address the climate crisis, new figures have shown.
- Following the onset of the pandemic in 2020, millions of people switched to working from home, car and airplane travel plummeted and industrial output slowed. This led to a sharp drop in greenhouse gas emissions, spurring predictions that a newly shaped American economy would emerge to help banish the era of fossil fuels.
- These forecasts may well have been baseless, however, with the new research showing that US emissions rose by 6.2% last year, compared to 2020. While emissions were still 5% down from 2019 levels, the jump in pollution as people returned to previous rhythms of life was greater than last year’s overall economic growth.
US west ‘megadrought’ worst in 1,200 years
Human-caused climate change most significant driver of destructive conditions as even drier decades lie ahead.
- The American west has spent the last two decades in what scientists are now saying is the most extreme megadrought in at least 1,200 years. In a new study, published on Monday, researchers also noted that human-caused climate change is a significant driver of the destructive conditions and offered a grim prognosis: even drier decades lie ahead.
- “Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the west has been dry for most of the last couple decades,” says Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles and the study’s lead author. “We now know from these studies that is dry not only from the context of recent memory but in the context of the last millennium.”
- The most unusual job market in modern American history
These two forces collided to create the most unusual job market in living memory — and an economy afflicted not by too few jobs, but too few workers.
For those looking for employment or to change jobs,the 2021 economy has been a blessing, as companies hike wages andmany workers feel empowered to quit because they can swiftly find new opportunities. But the resultinglabor shortages are causing profound problems across a range of industries — from restaurants that can’t find servers to factories that can’t find people for the assembly line to hospitals that can’t find nurses.
The shortages are beginning to raise difficult questions about how much some of America’s most vital sectors can continue to rely on a relatively low-paid workforce.
In 2022, something’s got to give. Otherwise, worker shortages could become an enduring feature — or defect — of the U.S. economy.
After 30 Years of Peace, Russia-Ukraine Crisis Awakens Europeans
The happy complacency of post-Cold War peace is being shattered by Russia’s threats, demands and massive military buildup around Ukraine.
Russia’s massive and open military threat to Ukraine is now shaking a sense of complacency among young and old Europeans alike who have never known war, hot or cold. For some, at least, the moment is an awakening as the threat of war grows real.
But just how far Europe is prepared to go in shifting from a world where peace and security were taken for granted remains to be seen. For decades Europeans have paid relatively little in money, lives or resources for their defense — and paid even less attention, sheltering under an American nuclear umbrella left over from the Cold War.That debate had begun to shift in recent years, even before Russia’s menacing of Ukraine, with talk of a more robust and independent European strategic and defense posture. But the crisis has done as much to expose European weakness on security issues as it has to fortify its sense of unity.In 2008, when Russian troops went into Georgia, or annexed Crimea, or inserted themselves into the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, there was little lasting change in perception of Russia.But this emerging conflict has a different dimension, since it so directly opposes the West and Russia, and is seen as proof that the current European security order no longer provides security.