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Ukraine war Update – May 30
Military and hard security developments
- Russian forces continue to make steady progress in the Donbas, where the encirclement of the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk pocket continues to tighten. Ukrainian commanders have confirmed that the ongoing attacks along the full breadth of the Donbas frontline are at “maximum intensity” and represent the most concerted offensive in weeks. While it remains unclear how long Russian forces can maintain this intensity of attacks, Ukrainian forces are ceding ground at various points. Ukrainian officials have in the last 24 hours stated that Russia has the “upper hand” in the east, with the Governor of Luhansk stating that only 5 percent of the oblast remains under Ukrainian control.
- The Head of the Donetsk Regional Administration has confirmed that Russian forces, including DNR units, are now in almost full control of the city of Lyman. Unconfirmed reports emerging this morning, 27 May, indicate that fighting is now taking place near the village of Raihorodok, a village along the Siverskyi Donets River that sits between Lyman and Slovyansk to the southwest. While this could be misreported artillery fire, if the Russians are approaching the village in strength, it indicates their determination to keep the pressure up on withdrawing Ukrainian forces and maintain momentum. However, as previous Russian failures have testified, river crossings remain a serious challenge, particularly if Ukrainian forces blow up the Raihorodok bridge in the coming hours to slow the advance.
- Nevertheless, with Lyman taken, Russian forces around Izyum are in a position to support operations against Slovyansk from the northwest. Over the last 24 hours, Russian forces have continued to launch attacks in this direction, but despite the momentum building around Lyman, Ukrainian forces are at present continuing to repel them around the villages of Dovhenke and Bohorodychne and along the M-03 highway leading south to Slovyansk. However, the intensity of artillery and mortar attacks along this axis has stepped up notably over the last 24 hours, possibly indicating preparations for a more serious concentration of attacks in the coming days to support Russian forces in Lyman.
- To the south, the Russian operational manoeuvre group continues to make progress in the Popasna spearhead. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed yesterday that a small amount of territory was lost in the region, specifying that the Russians have made successful advances westwards around the villages of Pokrovsky and Klynove, and have captured the village of Midna Ruda. The village sits about 16 kilometres from Bakhmut, and around 2km from the M-03 highway, both of which have seen an intensification of artillery fire in recent days. The Russians have also made further modest progress in the northern direction of the spearhead, with fighting around the village of Berestove threatening Ukrainian control of the T-1302 highway. Following the latest Russian advances north of Popasna, the gap between the closing Severodonetsk-Lysychansk cauldron is now around 25km. However, the northern Russian arm of the cauldron remains behind the Siverskyi Donets River, and until a successful and sustainable crossing is made, all progress in tightening the encirclement will have to be made by the Popasna spearhead in the south.
- Intense fighting has reached the outskirts of Severodonetsk city itself, with Russian forces seizing the Mir hotel at the city’s north-eastern edge. As previous assessed, Severodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk across the river will pose a much more stubborn objective to clear, which unless the Ukrainians decide to withdraw across the river, could turn into another Mariupol-style siege characterised by hard street-by-street fighting. Further south, Ukrainian forces are reportedly digging in at Zolote, despite the fact that Russian sources are claiming the town has been effectively encircled. With Russian forces out of the Popasna spearhead likely to aim at pressuring the town from the east, an effective encirclement remains likely in the coming days if Ukrainian forces do not withdraw.
- In the southern theatre, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command has claimed that the Russians are digging in and establishing a third line of defence along the Mykolaiv-Kherson border region. This is likely an indication that Russian forces are expecting a Ukrainian counteroffensive in this direction in the coming months, as well as underlines that Russia likely intends to retain control over Kherson indefinitely. In addition, OSINT footage indicates that Russian forces are now also bringing up reinforcements, including aircraft and air defences, from Crimea to the Zaporizhzhia frontline, with convoys of T-62 tanks spotted passing through Melitopol. The Russians are clearly reinforcing the southern axis, but it remains to be seen whether fresh offensives will be launched against Zaporizhzhia or along the Kherson-Mykolaiv front given this would likely divert resources away from the Donbas offensive.
- In other developments, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 26 May ordered the creation of a new military operational command for the south of Belarus, alleging that military pressure is being exerted on Minsk from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and NATO forces in the region. Despite not being formally involved in Russia’s war against Ukraine, Belarus serves as a key base for Russia, which is using the former’s territory and railways to supply ammunition and fuel, as well as launching long-range strikes from Belarusian airspace. In the most immediate term, a further build-up of Belarusian troops near Ukraine’s border will put additional pressure and further stretch Ukraine’s forces as Russia intensifies its attack on the Donbas.
- In a phone call with Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is ready to offer a “significant contribution” to prevent the looming food crisis in exchange for the West lifting sanctions on Russia. The developments follow the broad rejection, primarily by the US, of such offers from Moscow, with the former as well as Kyiv accusing Russia of “blackmail” and “weaponising food”. Additionally, Ukraine’s minister of agriculture warned that by mid-summer the impact of Russia’s blockage of Ukrainian grain will be felt globally, as the risk of a global food crisis continues to increase. Nevertheless, it ultimately remains our assessment that removal of any western sanctions is highly unlikely in the short-to-medium term. Kyiv is set to strongly oppose any such proposals, especially as Ukraine hardens its stance on accepting any peace deal with Russia, with President Zelensky on 26 May criticising the EU for not moving quickly enough to approve a sixth round of sanctions.
- According to the latest poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology between 19-24 May, at least 85% of ethnic Russians in Ukraine and Russian-speaking Ukrainians stated that, in their opinion, there is no oppression of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine. The respondents also believe that Russia’s statements about the “Nazis” in power in Ukraine is a fabrication. The results further underline a sharp mismatch between Putin’s narrative and the reality on the ground in Ukraine, which has ultimately made the anticipated quick victory impossible for the Russian forces from the beginning.
The US is reportedly preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, with an announcement anticipated next week. The development follows public calls on 26 May from the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi for weapons with which Ukraine can engage the enemy over long distances. If approved, the move would mark the latest intensification of support from Washington, and will undoubtedly be perceived by Russia as a provocation given Zaluzhnyi’s indication of how such weapons will be deployed. The Kremlin has already threatened to strike at “decision-making centres” in retaliation for Ukrainian cross-border operations and strikes inside Russia. As such, the proposal to provide Ukrainian forces with Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) capable of striking targets hundreds of kilometres away will drive the risk of retaliation against Kyiv and other cities. To that end, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again warned on 26 May against the supply of weapons capable of striking Russian territory. If Ukraine launches significant attacks against Russian border regions in the coming weeks and months, it is likely that Russian forces will retaliate, potentially disproportionately, given mounting criticism amongst Russian border communities that Moscow is not doing enough to protect them from Ukrainian attacks. Only today, 27 May, Russia’s Belgorod region reported the death of a Russian woman from Ukrainian shelling, the third Russian civilian to have reportedly died in such cross-border attacks. Washington and numerous other NATO states have continued to increase military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, and this latest proposal would significantly increase Ukrainian capability to strike Russian territory. Moscow has warned numerous times that a threat to Russian soil would constitute a major escalation that could prefigure Western countries making themselves “legitimate targets”. So far Russia has been highly reluctant to escalate in response, but if Ukraine takes possession of MLRS systems and launches effective attacks far into Russian territory, the threat of punitive retaliation against not only Ukrainian cities but potentially perceived Western arms shipments outside of Ukraine will increase. As such, the development raises the question of when or if Moscow will consider a threshold has been crossed that requires retaliation in order to deter further weapons shipments.
- As anticipated in previous reporting, DNR spokesman Eduard Basurin confirmed on 25 May that Russian forces have adopted a new strategy aimed at creating small cauldron encirclements of Ukrainian forces, rather than pushing for a much larger encirclement of the entirety of Donetsk oblast. The statement confirms that the Russians have steadily reduced the scope of their objectives amid continued failure over the last month to make much progress south of Izyum. Notably, however, this reduction in operational objectives has allowed the concentration of Russian forces around the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk salient, with the Popasna breakthrough showing some success in this regard.
- There are growing indications that a Russian assault on Severodonetsk city itself may be launched in the coming days, even though the encirclement of the salient has not yet been achieved. Intensification of artillery and aerial bombardments and the fact that Russian forces are now in mortar range of the city has led the head of the Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Administration Serhiy Haidai to predict that Russian forces will lose momentum if they do not launch an assault on the city by Sunday, 29 May. It remains unclear whether a committed assault will materialise in the coming days, but progress in other areas makes this possible.
- Unconfirmed reports emerged overnight claiming Russian soldiers had entered the city of Lyman from the east, with all indicators suggesting that Russia is now in control of the city. This suggests that Ukrainian forces may have withdrawn from the city to shore-up more defensible positions across the Siverskyi Donets River and around Slovyansk, as we anticipated earlier this week. If the fall of Lyman is confirmed today, this would mark a significant tactical victory for Moscow that will allow Russian forces to consolidate their control over the northern bank of the river and prepare for attacks across the river against Siversk. The town is arguably now the most important objective for Russian forces to close the cauldron around the Severodonetsk salient. However, as previous Russian failures testify, attacks across the Siverskyi Donets will remain a formidable challenge to Russian forces, but momentum is clearly building.
- Further south at the other arm of the building encirclement, Russian forces continued launching attacks out of the Popasna spearhead, in particular targeting villages near the T1302 highway that connects Bakhmut with Lysychansk. The direction of these attacks, north and northeast, reinforces Basurin’s claims that the smaller encirclement of the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk salient is the primary objective, with the focus at present being cutting off Ukrainian road access. Nevertheless, Russian forces have also reportedly made some progress north of Svitlodarsk towards Bakhmut, which likely remains a secondary objective once the first cauldron around Severodonetsk is closed.
- Despite the steady progress being made in the Donbas, over the last few days there has been a notable uptick in criticism of aspects of the war amongst certain pro-war Russian commentators, including the influential former DNR commander Igor Strelkov (real name Igor Girkin). Strelkov has been amongst the most vocal critics of the conduct of the war thus far. Given his nationalist credentials and connections to the separatist forces, the FSB and the Russian military, his is a platform likely to attract significant attention within the Russian security establishment. In particular, Strelkov has this week criticised the Russian leadership for not preparing for the invasion sufficiently, criticising the poor treatment, training and equipment of forcefully mobilised forces from the Donbas. He drew a stark comparison with Russia’s unpreparedness and continued failure to outfit recruits effectively with Ukraine’s own growing capabilities to prepare new recruits for future counteroffensives.
- Some Russian commentators have rejected Strelkov’s criticisms, leading him to defend himself on Telegram after allegedly being accused of being an SBU agent. Despite this, his stance reflects mounting criticisms amongst certain quarters of Russian hardliners that the current war effort is being managed incompetently. If Russian forces fail to make further progress in the Donbas in the coming weeks, such criticisms are only likely to grow and drive anti-Kremlin sentiment amongst some hardliners, particularly as the nationalist narrative that the war in Ukraine is an existential fight solidifies.
- The Ukrainian Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (GUR) on 25 May claimed that Russia has used 60 percent of its high-precision weapon stocks during the war, and as a result is becoming increasingly reliant upon aircraft and ‘dumb bombs’ to strike key targets. International sanctions have severely disrupted Russian military-industrial supply chains, limiting or at least delaying Russia’s ability to replenish stocks of complex weapons systems such as the Kalibr cruise missile and Kinzhal hypersonic missile, among other systems. Efforts to mitigate disruption to supply chains are likely ongoing, but it remains unclear if Moscow will be able to restart production of these weapons systems in the short term. Nevertheless, despite the diminishing stockpile, long-range precision strikes against Western and Northern Ukraine will remain a key threat for the foreseeable future, though the increasing use of ‘dumb bombs’ will increase the threat still further of indiscriminate targeting or collateral damage of civilian infrastructure.
- As anticipated, on 26 May, Washington rejected Moscow’s offer to facilitate maritime corridors for vessels transporting food from Ukraine in exchange for some sanctions relief. Following Russia’s proposal, both Washington and Kyiv accused Moscow of “blackmail” and “weaponizing food”, with Kyiv strongly urging the West against accepting Russia’s proposals. Moving forward, any western sanction relief remains highly unlikely – at least in the short-to-medium term – with the EU instead still debating its sixth round of measures targeting Russian oil. Moreover, any decision regarding potential sanctions relief would highly likely first need to be agreed with Kyiv, something that the current administration will not approve.
- Ukrainian presidential adviser and lead negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, yesterday ruled out not only conceding territory to Russia in a peace deal, but also the signing of a new Minsk agreement. The decision to rule out territorial concessions echoes wider statements by other members of the Zelensky administration in recent weeks, underscoring the diminishingly low likelihood of any ceasefire being agreed in the foreseeable future. Podolyak’s express rejection of a Minsk III agreement, referring to the previous two peace processes that tried, but failed, to resolve the 2014 Donbas conflict, highlights still further growing resistance in Kyiv to accepting a refreezing of the conflict. Italy and various other countries have increased calls in recent days for Ukraine and Russia to reach a ceasefire agreement, but Kyiv’s positioning is clearly hardening as Moscow also doubles down on its determination to extract favourable terms on the battlefield. These dynamics only reinforce our assessment that a ceasefire, and still less a peace agreement, remains highly unlikely in the months ahead.
Today, 26 May, the leader of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin stated that both the DNR and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) will hold a referendum on joining Russia, but only when the territory of both oblasts is fully “liberated”. There have been numerous indications since the 24 February invasion that the regions, together with occupied Kherson oblast, intend to hold a referendum on joining Russia. However, previous dates posited for such votes have come and gone. Nevertheless, President Vladimir Putin yesterday, 25 May, signed a decree simplifying the process for Ukrainians living in occupied territories to obtain Russian citizenship. This new fast-track to gaining a Russian passport, together with the implementation of the Russian ruble in Kherson oblast this week, underscore the Kremlin’s intention to incorporate these territories, at least in the long term. Pushilin’s statement is notable given he has said that a referendum will only occur when both oblasts’ claimed territories are taken, but it remains unclear whether Pushilin’s counterpart in the LNR, Leonid Pasechnik, has agreed to this. There have been increasing indications in recent weeks of tensions between the DNR and LNR authorities, with DNR People’s Militia forces reportedly refusing to assist in the assault on Severodonetsk because it is in Luhansk, not Donetsk. Such competition and infighting could yet undermine the timeline for a proposed referendum. The growing encirclement of the Severodonetsk salient could take the remaining 10 percent of Luhansk oblast in the coming weeks, but the prospect for the taking of the entirety of Donetsk oblast poses a much more challenging objective that could take months, or even longer if the offensive stalls. There may be factions within Luhansk that wish to celebrate the “liberation” of their region before the entire Donbas is taken, potentially pushing for a referendum. It remains unclear at this stage whether Moscow has approved the plan to hold a referendum only when the whole Donbas has been retaken, but if that’s the case then much will depend on the success of the ongoing Severodonetsk offensive, and Russia’s ability to maintain momentum in the following months.
- The intensity of Russian offensive operations in the Donbas continues to remain high, though Russian forces have made less progress over the last 24 hours than the previous day. Fighting continues to the east of Severodonetsk city, though as before little movement of the frontline has been confirmed in this direction, with the more notable developments taking place further south.
- Separatist Luhansk People’s Republic (LDR) troops have claimed to have made further progress northeast of Popasna along the western bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, though such claims remain unconfirmed at this stage. LDR forces have nevertheless this morning continued their assault on the town of Zolote, the outskirts of which remain contested and will likely prove a challenge as a heavily built-up area, alongside its sister town Hirs’ke to the north. LDR forces have claimed to have taken the town of Toshkovka, northeast of Zolote and Hirs’ke, and are allegedly pushing northwest in the direction of the P-66 highway. While it remains unclear if Toshkovka has fallen, LDR forces are clearly making progress in this direction, which being on the western bank of the Siverskyi Donets will place increasing pressure on Lysychansk to the north. Notably, a retired Russian Major General, Kanamat Botashev, was reportedly shot down in his Su-25 over this area yesterday, likely by a Stinger missile. It remains unclear why he was flying combat operations despite retiring in 2012, possibly he was flying under the aegis of the Wagner Group, but his death represents the highest-ranking air force officer killed in the war so far.
- The Popasna spearhead continues to make incremental progress, though no further breakthrough has been achieved. Unconfirmed reports from Russian sources emerged yesterday afternoon indicating that the Russians had reached the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk road northwest of Popasna, and had taken up positions as close as 2km northeast of Soledar. However, it now appears that the Russians had merely fired upon the road, rather than having seized a portion of it. This will, however, remain a key objective of the Popasna spearhead in the coming days. If the Russians manage to consolidate control over even a portion of the T1302, they will cut off one of the only major roads supplying the Severodonetsk salient. While in this eventuality the Ukrainians would still retain control of smaller roads connecting Slovyansk to Severodonetsk via Siversk, its loss will severely strain Ukraine’s weakening ground lines of communication. Additionally, intensifying Russian attacks around Lyman will also place these few existing routes under intense pressure.
- Russian forces have continued focusing on the assault of Lyman to the north, though limited progress has been reported as Russian forces continue to face heavy resistance in the northern section of the city. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed this morning, 25 May, that Russian forces are attempting to seize the village of Pasika southeast of Izyum and to the west of Lyman. This attack likely forms part of a Russian attempt to close up the remaining areas of land north of the Siverskyi Donets River under Ukrainian control, which would increase the isolation of Lyman from Ukrainian reinforcements across the river.
- Other Russian attacks south of Izyum have remained very limited in recent days, though probing and reconnaissance operations continue to be launched near the M-03 highway to Slovyansk. Local Izyum City Council officials have claimed that 20,000 Russian personnel in 25 BTGs are in the area preparing to launch fresh offensives south of Izyum. It remains unclear whether these numbers are accurate given that the Ukrainian General Staff’s last estimate of 25 BTGs in the Izyum salient dates from 22 April. Russian forces in the area are likely heavily degraded, with certain forces likely combat ineffective or redeployed to other critical points further east as Russian commanders concentrate on the assaults against Lyman and Severodonetsk.
- Nevertheless, OSINT footage emerging today, 25 May, indicates that at least one BTGs worth of T-62 tanks are being moved north of Izyum. As identified in yesterday’s alert, the deployment of older T-62s to replace more modern T-72s and T-80s reflects the level of losses incurred by the Russian military and underscores the attritional nature of the conflict after three months of heavy losses on both sides. Notably, however, T-62s require a crew of four and trained loaders to operate, in contrast to more modern tanks. This will increase the overall personnel demand in the Izyum area of operations, further undermining the weight of numbers along this and other axes.
- North of Kharkiv Russian forces have turned to the counteroffensive in certain areas in an attempt to shore up their ground lines of communication following Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive earlier this month. The Ukrainian General Staff have confirmed Russian assaults are being launched against the outskirts of Ternova, 5km from the Russian border. This underlines that Russian forces are clearly intent on retaining control of positions south of the border to protect their supply lines in Belgorod oblast, as well as being able to continue threatening northern Kharkiv with artillery bombardments. Russian defensive operations in recent days have succeeded in stopping the Ukrainian counteroffensive, but it remains to be seen whether they have sufficient combat power in the area to begin retaking strategic points south of the border.
- In the southern theatre, Russian forces continue to reinforce their positions along the Mykolaiv-Kherson and Zaporizhzhia frontlines. In particular reports indicate that Russian forces are concentrating a notable contingent of BTGs around Vasylivka, possibly in preparation for a push on Zaporizhzhi along the eastern bank of the Dnieper River in the coming days or weeks. However, while the concentration of forces appears to be increasing, reinforced still further by an earlier heatmap illustrating Russian mobile network users published this month, the quality and combat effectiveness of these troops remains unclear. Some Russian military commentators have claimed that the majority of these forces south of Zaporizhzhia are comprised of reservists with very little combat experience, casting uncertainty over whether an offensive will materialise. However, even if such an offensive does occur in the weeks ahead, it remains unclear whether it would be able to achieve any notable progress in the face of competent Ukrainian artillery pressure, which appears to have slowed Russian offensives in the area up until now.
- Russian long-range strikes have continued targeting urban areas away from the immediate frontline, including 3 missiles launched this morning at an industrial centre in Kryvyhi Rih. Residential areas of Zaporizhzhia have also been hit, leaving at least one person dead, though Ukrainian officials claim local air defences intercepted one of the cruise missiles. Cross-border shelling along the northern border of Sumy oblast has also continued.
- Latest public opinion data released on 24 May from Kyiv International Institute of Sociology revealed that 82% of Ukrainians are against any territorial concessions to Russia in exchange for a peace deal. Moreover, according to the findings, 77% of Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied territories and 83% living in the south of Ukraine opposed any such concessions. The findings strongly reflect the enduring resistance amongst the public to capitulate and will only reinforce the political will in Kyiv not only to defend Ukrainian territory, but to also attempt to claim back that which has been occupied. Ultimately, this also reinforces our assessment that any potential settlement through diplomacy, especially on Russia’s terms, is virtually impossible at this stage. Instead, the gains and losses on the battlefield will continue to serve as a much more likely indicator regarding the direction of the conflict and any potential eventual settlement.
- Head of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said on 24 May that Russia is “not chasing deadlines” in Ukraine and that “Nazism has to be eradicated in full 100%, or it will raise its head again in a few years, in an even uglier form”. The statements are in line with our assessment that the war is highly likely to continue through the months ahead and also further underline the presence of hawkish and hardliner forces in Russia, such as Patrushev, who are doubling down on Moscow’s war aims in Ukraine. Notably, Patrushev is one potential future successor to Putin, should the latter be eventually side-lined, indicating that, if he were to take over, the war may well become an open-ended conflict.
- For more strategic analysis and escalation outcomes to the current conflict in Ukraine, see our Scenario Planning and Projections report.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko stated today, 25 May, that Moscow is ready to facilitate humanitarian maritime corridors for vessels transporting food from Ukraine, in exchange for some sanctions relief. The apparent offer comes as Russia’s naval blockade of the north Black Sea coast has prevented shipments of grain, corn and sunflower oil among other staples, driving up global food prices and threatening a global food insecurity crisis later this year. With Ukraine and Russia together accounting for almost a third of global wheat supplies, the dramatic reduction in shipping capacity is raising concerns of knock-on impacts in food insecure regions across the globe, in particular parts of the Middle East and East and West Africa. Rudenko and the Kremlin have not yet provided details of how the proposals would work in practice, or the sanctions that they want eased in return. Even limited sanctions relief will be an extremely difficult compromise for Western states, and indeed Kyiv, to agree to, despite mounting calls for the United Nations and Ukraine’s allies to take action to alleviate the mounting food crisis. Fresh data published today by Bank Otkritie indicates that Russian imports collapsed to a 20-year low last month, and the US has now refused to extend a waiver on allowing Russia to pay bondholders via US banks that expires today – raising the spectre of a sovereign default. As such, the economic reasoning behind the offer is clear. However, the prospect of the West soon supplying Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to disrupt the Black Sea blockade may prove the primary military reasoning for the offer, given the need to prevent a repeat of the sinking of the Moskva and an embarrassing withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet to port if Harpoon missiles, for example, begin threatening Russian vessels.
Ukraine: Return Of Business Operations To Kyiv. Following the Russian withdrawal from Northern Ukraine and the focus of Russian ground operations in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, many businesses are considering when to return to pre-invasion locations in Western and Northern Ukraine, including Kyiv. However, recent long-range strikes and the enduring threat of unexploded ordnances and mines underscore that the war has not left these regions entirely, and will not do so the foreseeable future. It remains our assessment that the current military and political dynamics make any speedy resolution to conflict, including the agreement of even a temporary ceasefire, highly unlikely in the next two months. As such, numerous threats will continue to define the operating environment in Western and Northern Ukraine for the foreseeable future, though to varying extents. Below is a threat assessment of three key areas of Ukraine not directly adjacent to any frontline: Western Ukraine, Kyiv and Chernihiv oblast.
Following Russia’s withdrawal from Northern Ukraine in April, the capital and its surrounding areas are at a much lower risk of kinetic assaults and strikes than during the earlier phases of the invasion, and still less at risk than areas in the east of the country. Despite this, the city and the surrounding region will still remain vulnerable to long-range cruise and ballistic missile attacks for the foreseeable future. The Kremlin has threatened to target “decision-making centres” across Ukraine in retaliation for Ukrainian cross-border raids and sabotage operations inside Russia. While Russian forces have so far shown relative reticence to conduct such strikes in Kyiv, favouring instead to target critical infrastructure, including military, communications and railway infrastructures, and supply depots elsewhere, they will remain a threat for the duration of the conflict, particulary as the first casualties from cross-border Ukrainian operations inside Russia have now been acknowledged by Moscow. In this respect, landmark government buildings in the city centre will remain potential targets, though decapitation strikes against the government and parliament remain less likely than during the opening phases of the conflict. However, the government district around Mariinskyi Park and Mykhaila Hruhevskoho Street, including the Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers, will naturally remain at a higher risk given Moscow’s threat to target “decision-making centres”. Attacks against the city centre would also risk collateral damage to surrounding areas, with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) headquarters on Volodymyrska Street remaining another potential target if Russian forces conduct punitive strikes against “decision-making centres”. However, while cruise and hypersonic missiles are generally precision weapons, the inaccuracy of ballistic missile systems such as Iskandr will place surrounding areas at risk during such attacks, including from falling debris if air defences manage to intercept the missile. Ultimately, ballistic or cruise missile strikes against central Kyiv remain a moderate likelihood threat given Russia’s reticence so far to launch such attacks at the city centre, even when its forces were attempting an encirclement of the city. Nevertheless, mines, booby traps and unexploded ordnance (UXO) remain a major security threat in the northern and western suburbs of Kyiv. A large-scale demining operation is ongoing, but there is extensive evidence for mines on roads, in forests, agricultural lands, on corpses and in abandoned residential areas, particularly in Irpin, Hostomel and Bucha. Following mine clearing by emergency services, the E40 and the E373 routes are relatively safe, however, straying off the highway remains unsafe as the threat posed by mines and UXO is high in surrounding areas and on dirt roads. Considering that the Russian assault around Kyiv never made it as far as the P01 highway in the south, roads to the south of the city remain at low risk of mines and boobytraps. Long-range strikes will nevertheless pose an enduring threat to the entire region irrespective of location. President Zelensky last week ordered martial law to be extended for another three months until 23 August. In the event of air raid sirens sounding or a long-range attack in the capital, see the link to find a map of locations of bomb shelters (created by the Kyiv City Administration).
Very recent precedents have underlined that railway and military infrastructures in Western Ukraine are among high priority targets for Russian forces as Western weapons transfers continue along key routes from Poland, Slovakia and Romania. On 16 May, one of the largest long-range strikes against Western Ukraine of the war so far hit railway infrastructure belonging to the regional branch of Lviv Railway near the town of Yavoriv. Numerous cruise missiles fired from Belarusian airspace struck targets around 20 km from the Polish border, though regional air defences reportedly intercepted three missiles. While this underlines that air defences in Lviv oblast remain fairly potent, the scale of the Yavoriv attack meant that numerous missiles penetrated the defences regardless. The high failure rates of Iskandr and other missile systems together with Ukrainian air defences mean that a redundancy of missiles will remain likely in future attacks, aimed at ensuring at least one hits its target. It should be noted that air defences are strongest in the west of the country, and as such the further east one travels, the more likely cruise and ballistic missiles are to get through said defences. The Yavoriv attack, the second to strike the town following the attack on the International Peacekeeping Centre in March, underscores Russia’s intention to degrade Ukrainian infrastructure it perceives to facilitate weapons transfers eastwards. Railway junctions and depots will thus remain the key targets in Western Ukraine, including potentially along key routes from Poland through Lviv, Lutsk, Rivne, Ternopil, Khmelntskyi and Zhytomyr to Kyiv. While Russian forces continue to show relative reluctance to strike at railway yards inside or immediately adjacent to major urban centres in the West, key railway junctions used by civilian rail services will remain at risk of collateral damage or direct targeting along the full length of the route from Poland to Kyiv, though moving civilian trains are highly unlikely to be targeted. Airports across Western Ukraine will furthermore remain potential targets for Russian strikes, though the focus over the last month has been on degrading railway infrastructure. There are currently no indications of an imminent invasion by Belarusian or Russian forces from Belarus into Western Ukraine, despite ongoing Belarusian military drills along the border. In line with our previous assessments, since Russian operational objectives have shifted to the Donbas, an invasion of western Ukraine threatening Lviv and other cities is highly unlikely at present. Nevertheless, Russian forces will continue to utilise Belarusian airspace to launch long-range strikes for the foreseeable future, as the deployment of Iskandr-M ballistic missile systems near Brest this week testifies. Key ground routes, including the E40 and E50 motorways, will furthermore be at constant risk of long-range strikes, but again roads in close proximity to key junctions, railway lines, ammunition or other critical resource depots and military bases will remain most at risk rather than open stretches of road. In the Western Ukrainian city of Kamyanets-Podilskyi in Khmelnytskyi oblast, numerous reports circulated on 19 May that alleged Ukrainian forces have established bases and even firing positions inside a regional children’s sanatorium as well as the No.2 boarding school in the city. The mayor Mykhailo Positko has stated this is misinformation being spread by Russian forces, and given the location of the city is far from any frontline, it remains highly unlikely that Ukrainian forces would have done so in any case. However, combined with allegations that Ukrainian forces are staging provocations to provoke Russian counter-battery fire on civilian homes and Ukrainian accusations of false-flag operations in Kherson, the reports could indicate a laying of the groundwork to justify the targeting of civilian areas elsewhere along the frontline in the coming days and weeks. The clear uptick in accusations that Ukrainian forces are using human shields over the past 48 hours could be designed to obfuscate Russia’s own use of human shields and justify its intentions to target civilian areas more overtly moving forward. Nevertheless, the threat of indiscriminate long-range strikes against civilian infrastructure will still remain higher in Eastern Ukraine.
Much of the same threats identified for Kyiv oblast and Western Ukraine apply to Chernihiv oblast, including the targeting of railway infrastructure. However, given Russian troops remained active in the region for a prolonged period of time during the first phase of the invasion, the threat from mines and unexploded ordances remains particularly high along most roads in the region. There have been numerous reports in recent weeks of deaths of civilians caused by landmines across the oblast. Chernihiv city itself was under effective siege for a prolonged period of time and Russian operations brought widespread destruction on the surrounding area that has made ground travel throughout the region highly dangerous, despite ongoing demining operations.
Furthermore, long-range strikes remain a particular threat throughout Chernihiv oblast, with Russian forces stepping up their attacks against the region in recent weeks. The most serious strike took place on 17 May, when Russian missiles attacked the village of Desna that left at least 87 dead. The village is situated along the P69 highway connecting northern Kyiv with Chernihiv. Other roads in the region were under Russian control for prolonged periods, including the main M01 motorway connecting eastern Kyiv (Brovary) with Chernihiv, the M02 motorway running through the oblast east to west, and the H07 highway connecting eastern Kyiv with Sumy. Following the Russian retreat along these routes in early April, the risk of unexploded ordances and landmines remains high along these roads.
Unlike Kyiv oblast and Western Ukraine more generally, however, Chernihiv oblast’s borders are at a higher risk of kinetic ground attacks, though it remains our assessment that a concerted Russian attack across the border is unlikely at this stage. In recent weeks, Russian forces have nevertheless increased cross-border shelling of Ukrainian territory in both Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts, with one incident of a Russian attack against a Ukrainian border post in Sumy oblast on 16 May.
Sumy oblast will remain at higher risk of such probing attacks and cross-border raids in the future, but towns in Chernihiv oblast bordering Russia, including Senkivka, Semenivka and Hremyach, among others, will remain at risk of such operations for the foreseeable future. Such operations are most likely designed to force Ukrainian forces to screen the border, rather than being indicators of an impending offensive from that direction. Chernihiv city itself, furthermore, will be at less immediate risk of such ground raids in contrast to these border towns given its distance from the Russian and Belarusian borders. However, for as long as the war continues, the risk of Russian forces opening up a new front cannot be ruled out, though it remains our assessment that over the next few months it is unlikely to materialise in Chernihiv oblast.
- Over the last 24 hours, Russian forces have intensified attacks across the Donbas frontline and managed to make notable progress towards the principal objective of closing the encirclement of the Severodonetsk salient. Around Severodonetsk city itself the Russians have made slight gains to the east, clearing the settlement of Shchedryshcheve to the northeast as fighting continues on the outskirts of the city proper.
- However, it is further south that Russian forces have made the most notable progress that will most seriously threaten the Ukrainian defences. Russian forces have launched assaults on the villages of Toshkivka and Ustynivka due south of Severodonetsk, with unconfirmed reports indicating that Russian forces stormed the town of Zolote further south still. While it remains unclear at this stage whether the Russians have taken the town – something that would more likely take at least several days to clear – once this objective is secured, the Russians will be able to push north through Hirske along the P-66 highway towards Lysychansk. However, as a more built-up area, the Zolote-Hirske area is unlikely to fall rapidly given the experience of Russian assaults in urban regions.
- Further south and west the breakthrough from Popasna continues to make progress. The Russian Ministry of Defence has deployed a small operational manoeuvre group to the spearhead, made up of forces from some of the more capable units in Ukraine, including the 76th Guards Air Assault Division (GALD), 1st Guards Tank Army (GTA), naval infantry regiments and Wagner Group private military contractors. Such a concentration of forces is clearly aimed at capitalising on the breakthrough and as such will pose the most immediate threat to the integrity of the Ukrainian defensive line in the Donbas.
- The Ukrainian General Staff did confirm this morning, 24 May, that the Russians had taken additional ground near the village of Vasylivka. However, the most significant development in this direction was indication that Russian forces have taken Svitlodarsk, a key settlement northeast of Donetsk situated on the M-03 highway that heads to Bakhmut. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from Volodymyrivka towards Soledar, west of the Popasna spearhead, indicating in turn that Russian forces are applying most pressure in the western direction rather than pushing north towards Lysychansk. This likely indicates Bakhmut remains the Russians’ secondary objective after the encirclement of Severodonetsk. If the Russians can sustain momentum in this direction and push westwards from Popasna and north-westwards from Svitlodarsk, they would likely aim at setting the scene for a larger encirclement of Ukrainian forces which would likely be supported by renewed offensive operations towards Slovyansk from the north.
- Indeed, in this direction Russian forces continued assaulting Lyman, with unconfirmed reports stating that they have now taken partial control of the northern sections of the city. Again, if Russian forces can sustain momentum against the town, the Ukrainians may be forced to withdraw across the Siverskyi Donets River to shore-up the defences around Slovyansk. Russian forces in the Izyum salient have simultaneously continued attacking along the M-03 highway leading to Slovyansk, but with little success as Ukrainian forces continue to repel attacks against the village of Dovhenke. Nevertheless, if Lyman falls to the east in the coming days or weeks, Russian forces will likely launch renewed offensive operations from the northwest along the M-03, aimed at maximising pressure on the withdrawing Ukrainians. Ultimately, however, an assault on Slovyansk is unlikely to materialise in the short term given the continued slow progress around Izyum, the over 30km of distance that would still need to be covered, and the likely lack of reserves which would probably be required to sustain an offensive of that size without an operational pause.
- UK Defence Intelligence has estimated that Russian forces have suffered a similar death toll in the first three months of war in Ukraine as sustained by the whole Soviet Union during its nine-year war in Afghanistan. Accurate casualty figures on both sides remain inherently difficult to confirm or estimate, though President Zelensky did state over the weekend that up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers could be dying in the Donbas everyday. The rate of Russian casualties so far has clearly been very high, with numerous high-ranking commanders amongst those killed. Together with the loss of significant quantities of equipment, such casualty rates will place increasing pressure on Russia’s ability to maintain offensive momentum over the coming months, particularly as the Kremlin continues to reject mobilisation to plug manpower gaps. Reports of fresh arson attacks against a military recruitment office in the Russian region of Udmurtia likely underscore mounting resistance to conscription, which is likely informing the Kremlin’s reticence to consider even partial mobilisation for fear of domestic backlash.
- Nevertheless, Russia is still taking steps to mitigate these losses short of mobilisation – despite calls from the All-Russian Officers Assembly to do so last week. Aside from mobilisation by stealth and increasing reliance on private military contractors as assessed in previous reporting, the Ukrainian General Staff have claimed that Russian forces are bringing old T-62 tanks out of storage in order to replenish lost modern tanks and allow the reconstitution of numerous battalion tactical group (BTGs). Such old equipment will inevitably be less effective than the relatively more modern T-72s and T-80s. However, the thousands in storage do provide Russian forces with a strategic reserve of equipment to offset losses in pure numbers of platforms, albeit not necessarily to offset loss of advanced capability.
- The Ukrainian General Staff has stated that Russian forces have deployed Iskandr-M ballistic missile systems near Brest in southwestern Belarus, close to the Ukrainian border. It remains our assessment that the uptick in Belarusian military exercises along the northern Ukrainian border is more likely aimed at forcing Ukrainian forces to screen the border in large numbers, depriving the frontline in eastern Ukraine of those same forces, rather than an indication of an imminent ground offensive in the West. However, the deployment of Russian Iskandr systems in the region will increase the threat and intensity of long-range strikes against Western Ukraine as Russian forces intensify efforts to interdict Western weapons shipments.
- On 23 May, a diplomat at Russia’s United Nations mission in Geneva, Boris Bondarev, publicly resigned, marking the most high-ranking Russian official to do so. In his resignation letter, Bondarev wrote that he is “ashamed” of Russia’s actions and strongly condemned the war in Ukraine. Although Bondarev’s stark criticism is unlikely to reach much of Russia’s domestic audience given the regime’s monopoly over the information landscape, the development highlights that discontent with the Kremlin’s policies exists even amongst top elites. Nevertheless, at the moment, Bondarev still remains in the minority camp of those willing to express opposition to the war, but the high-profile resignation notably also follows that of another senior official, Anatoly Chubais, in March, indicating growing discontent within a certain faction of Russian government elites.
- Meanwhile, Ukrainian media on 24 May claimed that discussions in the Kremlin about Putin’s eventual successor are already ongoing. These unverified reports indicate that a number of elites have become dissatisfied with Putin personally, though an open revolt against him is still unlikely in the short term. However, there are increasing indications of a split within the elites, with hardliners unwilling to scale back war aims in Ukraine, whilst others, primarily businessmen, are dissatisfied with the unprecedented strains on the economy and international sanctions. The former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove has predicted that Putin will be sent off to a sanatorium next year and replaced by another senior member of the Silovik faction. While this appears to be pure speculation at this stage, mounting criticism of the competence of the Russian military operation in Ukraine means an internal move to side-line or remove Putin remains possible if the military situation in Ukraine deteriorates significantly. Such dynamics and tensions will only increase the longer the war in Ukraine continues, and will threaten longer-term internal political destabilisation in Russia that we will continue to monitor.
- In a related development, the head of Ukraine’s Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (GUR) Kyrylo Budanov claimed on 23 May that Putin has survived an assassination attempt during the early phases of the war. While details remain limited, Budanov maintains that around two months ago Putin was attacked by “representatives of the Caucasus”. If true, such claims are unlikely to be confirmed for the foreseeable future given the secrecy of the Russian security services, but the claims remain possible given that Islamist and Caucasian nationalist cells opposed to the Russian government remains active, even after the end of the North Caucasian insurgencies a decade ago. While the destabilisation of Russia remains unlikely at this stage short of a coup or a collapse of Russian forces in Ukraine, it remains a key threat scenario which we continue to monitor. North Caucasian nationalists and Islamists have long fought for their independence. Given the uptick in ISKP activity in Afghanistan and Central Asia, such groups may wish to exploit or indeed generate instability inside Russia to further their own causes. This will remain the case as the likely deployment of significant numbers of federal security forces from the North Caucasus to Ukraine presents opportunities to exploit security gaps and increase terrorist or insurgent operations.
- Ultimately, however, it should be born in mind that unsubstantiated Ukrainian reports of assassination attempts and coup preparations could be designed to destabilise the Kremlin as part of a sophisticated information warfare operation, though it of course does not preclude the possibility that Ukrainian intelligence has obtained credible evidence.
The Russian offensive across the Donbas is clearly building momentum, with the breakthrough around Popasna at present posing the most serious threat to the integrity of Ukrainian ground lines of communication into the Severodonetsk salient. The deployment of a small Russian operational manoeuvre group to the Popasna spearhead provides an opportunity for Russian forces to learn from previous mistakes and successfully outmanoeuvre Ukrainian defences. It remains to be seen whether such lessons will be learned given repeated tactical failures in recent months. However, if the Russians do manage to capitalise on recent advances and sustain momentum from Popasna and Svitlodarsk in the south, Lyman in the north and Severodonetsk city itself in the east, this will present the greatest opportunity to close the encirclement of the Severodonetsk salient so far. In addition, Russian gains at multiple points along the frontline will apply significant pressure on the Ukrainians to withdraw to the west and southern banks of the Siverskyi Donets River in order to shore-up their ground lines of communication and shorten the frontline. Given the recent surrender of Azovstal, Ukrainian commanders will likely want to avoid some of their most capable regular forces being cut off. Both Lyman and Severodonetsk remain of the wrong side of the river for the Ukrainians to defend effectively, and as Russian forces tighten the perimeter around these settlements and blow key bridges connecting them to the rest of Ukraine, Ukrainian commanders may consider the respective defence of Slovyansk and Lysychansk across the river more viable in the coming weeks.
- Over the weekend Russian offensive operations remained focused on tightening the Severodonetsk salient and the surrounding area, with heavy fighting reported to the east and south of Severodonetsk city itself. The Ukrainian General Staff stated on 22 May that Russian offensives from the direction of various villages to the east of the city have up until now been largely unsuccessful, though such attacks reflect an intensification of efforts to close the perimeter around the city. As previously anticipated in our reporting, Russian forces have now destroyed one of the two principal bridges across the Siverskyi Donets River connecting Severodonetsk with Lysychansk and the rest of the Ukrainian forces. The attack indicates a concerted effort to degrade Ukrainian ground lines of communication into the city that will begin strangling supplies, as attacks north of Popasna apply increasing pressure from the south.
- The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed over the weekend that the Russians had indeed made numerous advances to the north and west of Popasna. The General Staff’s latest report from this morning, 23 May, confirms that fighting is ongoing in Toshkivka, Komyshuvakha, Trypillya, Lypove and Vasylivka, and thus indicates that Russian forces have not made much further progress since 20 May and thus the advances have not yet turned into a breakthrough. This may be in part because of the topography of the region. The key villages of Trypillia, Vasylivka and Lypove are all situated at the foot of elevated hills, which will provide the Ukrainian defenders key advantages during the ensuing fighting. The approach to the town of Vrubivka, due north of the current frontline, is again protected by higher ground. The town is a key settlement that must be taken if the Popasna spearhead is to support the assault on Severodonetsk-Lysychansk to the north, and as such there are still challenges to the Russian assault which could yet slow progress further.
- The Ukrainian General Staff continues to anticipate the resumption of Russian offensive operations around Izyum in the coming days. Russian forces over the weekend shelled numerous settlements southwest and southeast of Izyum, while taking control of Oskil northeast of the town. However, beyond that, they have made few advances in the south ahead of what is most likely to be a concentration of effort southeast of Izyum along the M03 highway, aimed at progressing towards Slovyansk as Russian forces continue to increase pressure around Lyman to the northeast of the city. The Ukrainian General Staff furthermore anticipate renewed Russian operations in the Yampil area, east of Lyman, by crossing the Siverskyi Donets River. Previous attempts to cross the river in this direction have famously ended in disaster for Russian forces, but the failed crossing at Bilohorivka earlier this month is unlikely to dissuade further attempts, as crossing the river will ultimately allow Russia to close to encirclement around Severodonetsk-Lysychansk.
- On 21 May Russian forces claimed to have gained full control of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol after the last remaining Ukrainian defenders reportedly surrendered. Reports emerging this morning, 23 May, indicate that the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin has stated that all Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Azovstal works will be tried by a tribunal in the DNR itself. Show trials of so-called ‘neo-Nazis’ belonging to the Azov Regiment are increasingly likely in the coming weeks and will complicate prisoner exchanges and further undermine the already low likelihood of any progress in peace negotiations in the coming months.
- Elsewhere in the southern direction, the Ukrainian General Staff have stated that Russian forces are concentrating reinforcements in Inzhenerne, south of Huliapole. Together with an uptick in shelling, reconnaissance operations and a strengthening of local air defences, this could indicate preparations for a new offensive against Huliapole and/or Orikhiv, the latter of which lies on the H-08 road to Zaporizhzhia. Further west, Russian forces have also been concentrating forces and building second-layer defences in the north of Kherson oblast around Arkhanhelske and Vysokopillya. The Ukrainian General Staff also anticipate that this reflects preparations to renew offensive operations to capture the remainder of Kherson oblast and improve Russian forces positioning along the Mykolaiv-Kherson border region.
- Russian forces have furthermore continued attacking Ukrainian railway infrastructure in the north of the country. Long-range strikes fired overnight damaged a railway at Korosten in Zhytomyr oblast and left one dead in neighbouring Malyn, though air defences reportedly intercepted one of the missiles before it hit its target. As previously assessed, railway transport to and from Kyiv and the Western border will remain at risk of collateral damage during similar strikes. While moving civilian trains are highly unlikely to be targeted in and of themselves, railway junctions and railyards will remain high priority targets which will continue to endanger scheduled civilian rail journeys across the country.
- On 22 May the Russian-installed mayor of the town of Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia oblast, Andrii Shevchyk, suffered injuries when a blast targeted his apartment block. The Ukrainian mayor of the city Dmytro Orlov confirmed the blast had been a targeted attack against the “collaborator” Shevchyk, underscoring enduring local resistance and partisan operations behind Russian lines that will continue to undermine Russian efforts to consolidate their control over southern Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration reported on 22 May that the number of Russian troops, likely including Rosvgardia and FSB troops, is growing in the region to such an extent that in places Russian forces now outnumber the locals. While this further indicates the likelihood of renewed offensive Russian operations from the south, it also likely reflects increased Russian efforts to clamp down on local resistance as all indicators point to Moscow’s intention to retain control of the region for the foreseeable future.
- The first Russian soldier to stand trial for war crimes in Ukraine, Vadim Shishimarin, was today sentenced to life imprisonment by a Ukrainian court after he confessed to murdering a 62-year-old man in Sumy oblast during the opening stages of the invasion. The trial comes as international efforts to collect evidence and record war crimes in Ukraine step up following the deployment of a large monitoring team from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kyiv maintains that it has gathered evidence of over 12,000 alleged war crimes involving over 600 suspects, with further trials expected in the coming weeks. This will, however, likely be met by a similar uptick in accusations of Ukrainian (and specifically Azov Battalion) war crimes and related show trials in Russia.
- However, there remains much uncertainty and contradictory information regarding Russia’s stance on Azov POWs and how to deal with them following the surrender of Azovstal. A Russian negotiator stated on 21 May that Moscow will consider exchanging some of the Azov POWs for the pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, who was captured by the SBU earlier in the war after he escaped house arrest. However, the Kremlin has subsequently said it does not intend to do this and as such the status and future of Medvedchuk remains unclear.
- Nevertheless, in a related development, the SBU today published video testimony by Medvedchuk that accuses former President Petro Poroshenko of various corrupt dealings with Moscow, including an illegal scheme to profit from the sale of coal supplies from the Russian-occupied Donbas while he was president. Poroshenko faces an ongoing treason trial over just such accusations, though in January a Kyiv court refused to jail him, and since the invasion, the trial has not been prioritised. Nevertheless, given their potential to stoke political infighting between anti-Russian Ukrainian factions, the timing of Medvedchuk’s accusations at the very least is likely designed to discredit Poroshenko and numerous other implicated Ukrainian officials, aimed at painting them as hypocrites for dealing with Russia and exploiting the separatist regions in the Donbas for personal profit. The outcome of the trial remains unclear amid the war, but such accusations could undermine Ukrainian unity as Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party continues to poll well, albeit far behind President Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.
On 22 May President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak ruled out the possibility of Ukraine agreeing to a ceasefire deal that would involve ceding territory to Russia. Ukraine’s lead negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, mirrored this stance on 21 May when he noted that “any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years”. Both statements reflect mounting resistance in Kyiv to any ceasefire at the present time as fears of a repeat of the dynamics of the 2014-15 ceasefire surface, wherein concerns that any temporary concessions will merely allow Russia to reconstitute its forces and subsequently launch new offensives to take further land at a later date. President Zelensky himself nevertheless indicated over the weekend that his government was willing to resume the stalled talks, but only as long as the Ukrainian troops who surrendered from Azovstal were not executed. This underlines the importance of the upcoming trials of the Azov Regiment to the wider peace negotiations. However, even if the trial results in no executions, the Russian determination to continue fighting to take the entire Donbas and the Ukrainian government’s hardening position on ceding no territory to Russia will ultimately prove the biggest blockers to renewed peace negotiations in the coming months.
Armenia-Azerbaijan: Border demarcation provides opportunity to improve long-term regional security,but will threaten Armenia’s political stability. On 22 May the European Council President Charles Michel stated that a meeting of a joint commission on the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border will be held “soon” in the disputed areas. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev held meetings with Michel in Brussels after both leaders agreed last month to begin drafting a peace treaty to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with either side submitting as-yet unpublished proposals. However, opposition to the peace process in Armenia remains widespread as many accuse Pashinyan of readying to recognise Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh – accusations that led to the detention of hundreds of protesters during demonstrations last week. As the peace process makes progress, further domestic unrest in Armenia is likely in the coming weeks, with any potential ceding of sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh in particular likely to fuel domestic political instability and unrest.
European Union: Temporary trade liberalisation with Ukraine will improve food security in Europe. On 19 May, members of the European Parliament approved a proposal for temporarily lifting tariffs and quotas for Ukrainian agricultural and agrifood products, certain industrial goods, fruits and vegetables. The new proposal will likely boost the economy of Ukraine as the EU is Ukraine’s largest trading partner, accounting for around 40 percent of exports. At the same time, the suspension of import duties is also considered to be an important move towards integrating Ukraine into the European market. Besides trade liberalisation, the EU has also eased entry requirements for Ukrainian truck drivers, further boosting trade with the bloc. The new trade regime will enter into force in the coming days, and will likely improve food security in Europe while also boosting the Ukrainian economy.
Europe: Moscow-linked cyber espionage targeting economic and defence organisations will increase amid Russia’s continued offensives in Eastern Ukraine. On 23 May, cyber security firm Sekoia disclosed that the Russian state-sponsored hacking group Turla is targeting the Austrian Economic Chamber and Baltic Defence College with cyber espionage activity. The threat actor created phishing domains of its targets’ websites to host a malicious Word document that purports to provide an update on the Ukraine conflict. While the aim of this campaign is unclear, Turla is historically known to engage in cyber espionage aimed at European states’ foreign and security policies. As such, this campaign is likely seeking to exfiltrate intelligence on these two organisations’ policies towards Russia’s invasion. The Baltic Defence College, based in Estonia, serves as a core strategic and operational research centre for the Baltic states. Meanwhile, Austria has refrained from levying sanctions against Russian gas over the Ukraine conflict due to economic reasons, making any intelligence on whether such a stance is changing of significant strategic importance to Russia. With developments in these countries set to remain of high importance to Moscow in light of the protracted conflict, further espionage campaigns are likely to be launched in the coming weeks. NATO member states or European defence organisations will constitute the most likely targets.
European Union: German minister suggests sixth EU sanctions package will be agreed “within days” as energy crisis persists. Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck told German national broadcasters yesterday (23 May) that a breakthrough in negotiations between the 27 EU member states is anticipated within the coming days, as EU representatives seek to agree on terms for a sixth sanctions package on Russia in the wake of its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. However, Habeck’s statement likely partially reflects optimism on the part of the beleaguered German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which has faced substantial criticism internationally over its slow adoption of punitive measures against Russia. Specifically, Hungary remains adamant that it will not agree to a bloc-wide sanctions package without substantial energy investment promises, despite offers from the EU to invest up to EUR 2 bn in central and eastern European member states reliant on Russian energy imports. Energy security risks will remain high across the EU as negotiations continue, with energy prices set to continue to increase in coming days.
- Pro-Russian cyber threat actors have continued to engage in phishing and vulnerability scanning activities during this latest monitoring period. These cyber operations were targeted against countries and organisations that are either of strategic economic importance to Russia or could pose a military-related threat to Moscow. Meanwhile, Conti’s formal declaration that it shuttered its cyber criminal operations will likely lower the Russian government’s ability to launch any disruptive and politically motivated cyber activity against industries of interest, such as European energy firms. This is largely because of the limited funding, manpower, and capacity of its own state-linked actors to engage in more complex cyber attacks. Despite this, there will remain a latent risk of “cyber spillover” incidents emerging in the coming months amid Moscow’s protracted conflict in Ukraine.
- Pro-Ukraine hackers have continued to be highly active during this monitoring period, with the hacktivist collective Anonymous expanding its targeting by formally declaring cyber war against the pro-Russian group Killnet. While this development will elevate the risk posed to both Western and Russia-based organisations by this growing tit-for-tat cyber conflict, most of the attacks launched are expected to remain comprised of rudimentary activities, such as DDoS, defacement, or data leaks, and cause minimal operational disruptions or damages.
Pro-Russian operations maintain pace; but Conti’s disbandment to limit Moscow’s retaliatory cyber capabilities
- On 23 May, cyber security firm Sekoia disclosed that the Russian state-sponsored hacking group Turla is targeting the Austrian Economic Chamber and Baltic Defence College with cyber espionage activity. The threat actor created phishing domains of its targets’ websites to host a malicious Word document that purported to provide an update on the Ukraine conflict. While the aim of this campaign is unclear, Turla is historically known to engage in cyber espionage aimed at European states’ foreign and security policies. As such, this campaign is likely seeking to exfiltrate intelligence on these two organisations’ policies towards Russia’s invasion. The Baltic Defence College, based in Estonia, serves as a core strategic and operational research centre for the Baltic states. Meanwhile, Austria has refrained from levying sanctions against Russian gas over the Ukraine conflict due to economic reasons, making any intelligence on whether such a stance is changing of significant strategic importance to Russia.
- On 19 May, industry reports claimed that the Pro-Russian ransomware group Conti officially took its infrastructure offline and disbanded its cyber criminal operations. Instead of rebranding the gang under a new moniker, members of the gang have reportedly told industry insiders Conti leadership has partnered with other smaller ransomware groups to continue conducting nefarious cyber activities. The Conti operators seek to form these smaller “splinter cells” to grant themselves greater mobility and the ability to evade global law enforcement agencies’ crackdown operations. Conti hackers have reportedly partnered with groups such as HelloKitty, AvosLocker, Hive, BlackCat, and BlackByte. It is unclear how the group intends to settle its ongoing negotiations/ information warfare with the Costa Rican government, which is still recovering from a Conti ransomware attack launched earlier this month.
Pro-Ukraine hackers continue data leak operations; cyber warfare against Killnet will heighten the “cyber spillover” threat to Western organisations
- On 23 May, a Twitter account allegedly linked to the Anonymous hacktivist collective’s offshoot group GhostSec claimed that it hacked the Russian engineering firm Technoeng and leaked over 37GB of its data online. Information regarding this campaign is currently limited, making it difficult to assess the overall impact of this incident. However, GhostSec claimed that data related to the Moscow United Electric Grid Company (MOESK), the organisation in charge of the Moscow metropolitan area’s electrical needs, was included in the leak. As such, there is a heightened risk of this leaked information being used to launch follow up disruptive attacks, such as Distributed Denial-of-Services (DDoS) or defacement, against organisations such as MOESK, which could cause short-term power blackouts and/or other types of business disruptions to Moscow-based operations.
- On 21 May, an alleged Anonymous-linked Twitter account claimed that the hacktivist collective officially declare cyber warfare against the pro-Russian hacktivist group Killnet. This declaration follows the 13 May announcement from the Italian Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) that Killnet used “Slow HTTP” DDoS attacks to target its country’s critical government agencies (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 16 May 2022). Following this declaration, a separate Anonymous Twitter account claimed that the collective hacked and leaked a list of emails and passwords used by Killnet to “discredit them and disrupt their activities”.
- Between 18 and 24 May, several alleged Anonymous-linked Twitter accounts claimed that the collective’s “the Zero” affiliate group hacked several Russian domains. Based on forensic investigations, the attacks appear to be rudimentary in nature, such as defacement or DDoS, that did not fully compromise the targets’ infrastructure. Such activity is consistent with Russia’s National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents’ March disclosure that more than 17,500 IP addresses and 160 domains have been targeted by DDoS attacks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
Pro-Russian hacking groups have continued to engage in malicious cyber activity during this monitoring period, with the majority of its significant operations aimed at phishing and vulnerability scanning activities. The cyber campaign targeted against the Austrian Economic Chamber and Baltic Defence College underscores the growing trend of Moscow-linked hackers targeting organisations and countries not directly linked to the Ukraine conflict but instead that hold strategic value to the Russian government. The looming threat of further sanctions being levied against Russian critical economic activities will likely remain a pressing concern for Moscow amid its protracted conflict in Ukraine. As such, Moscow-linked hackers are highly likely to launch further cyber espionage campaigns against both economic or defence-related organisations in strategic areas, such as Europe, to assess the likelihood of these states either diverging away from Russian products, such as energy, or strengthening their defensive measures against the Russian military. Europe-based think tanks, NGOs, and government agencies engaged in economic, defence, or foreign policy-related activities will constitute the most likely targets for these operations.
Meanwhile, the Conti disclosure follows earlier reports that the cyber criminal group was shutting down its dark web infrastructure (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 8 March 2022). Recent dark web investigations indicate that the cyber criminal group’s latest campaign against the Costa Rican government was meant as a subterfuge to present the façade that their cartel was still operational while its members defected to other ransomware groups. This development, and other notable ransomware groups’ reluctance to publicly support the Russian government in the wake of the “Conti Leak”, will likely have a notable impact on Russia’s ability to launch disruptive and politically motivated cyber attacks against targets in industries of strategic interest, such as European energy or telecom sector firms.
Cyber attacks are a highly resource-intensive endeavour, with a significant amount of funding, manpower, and time required for an attack to be successful. However, Russia’s state-linked hackers appear to already have severely limited capacities given their need to engage in both offensive and defensive cyber operations. These circumstances, and reduced Russian capacity to fund operations due to sanctions, will likely prevent them from engaging in long-term and planned cyber attacks and limit their ability to launch any attacks beyond “quick and easy wins”, such as DDoS or defacement. While Conti’s decision will slightly lower some of the “cyber spillover” risk associated with the Ukraine conflict, entities either directly supporting Ukrainian refugees, Kyiv’s war efforts, and/or its supporting organisations, such as tech sector firms, will remain at a heightened threat of being targeted by low-level disruptive attacks.
Pro-Ukraine hackers, such as the IT Army of Ukraine and Anonymous, have also continued to launch cyber attacks as a part of their #OpRussia campaign aimed at expressing their political grievances with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Anonymous and its affiliated hackers have remained the most active actors in this conflict, with its declaration of war against the pro-Russian Killnet group constituting a slight escalation in the tit-for-tat cyber conflict between pro-Russian and pro-Kyiv hackers. Given that neither group has physical assets, most attacks launched by these groups will likely be targeted against the infrastructure each side seeks to protect, such as Europe-based government agencies or Russia’s critical infrastructure, and/or the groups’ members. Despite this threat, such activity is expected to remain largely rudimentary – such as data leaks, defacement, or DDoS – and cause limited or temporary operational disruptions.
Georgia: Moscow casts doubt on separatist referendum, but socio-political tensions will persist. Following Alan Gagloev officially taking office as president of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia on 24 May, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov questioned the feasibility of the referendum called for by the outgoing president Anatoly Bibilov for 17 July. Notably, Peskov stated that it is necessary “to think a little bit longer about the wording [of the referendum]” before proceeding with such plans. Peskov’s comments further highlight the apparent lukewarm support for such a move at this particular time in the Kremlin, increasing the likelihood of the vote being called off for time being. Ultimately, the timing of a potential future referendum will depend on Moscow, and given its ongoing military offensive in Ukraine, Russia is unlikely to risk a destabilisation of Georgia, where the ruling government is relatively friendly towards Moscow. Nevertheless, in the lead up to the potential vote, socio-political instability in Georgia will remain high, with potential for mass protests should the vote proceed. (Source: Sibylline)
27 May 22. Ukraine’s Military Needs Change as Battle With Russia Continues. The United States is supporting Ukraine’s fight against Vladimir Putin’s unjust war for the long run and is laser-focused on getting Ukrainian service members the equipment and supplies they need, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today.
U.S. officials are in constant touch with Ukrainian leaders and continue to work within DOD and with allies to ensure Ukraine gets the capabilities it needs to fight the battles it confronts.
There have been 10 presidential drawdown authorities that are supplying Ukrainian forces with everything from Javelins anti-armor weapons and Stinger anti-air missiles to armored personnel carriers and howitzers. In addition, the United States has provided ammunition, medical supplies, rations and personal equipment to the embattled Ukrainian forces. “Our goal from the very beginning has been to try to help them in the fight that they’re in today,” Kirby said. “That’s why these packages get kind of parceled out over time because you want to be able to be adapted to what they’re facing.”
At the beginning of the Russian invasion, the capabilities the Ukrainians most needed were anti-armor and anti-air systems. The Russians felt the effects of these systems the closer they got to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
The Ukrainian forces pushed the Russians back from Kyiv and Russian President Vladimir Putin shifted the center of his misguided war to the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. “It is in many ways, a very close and intimate flight; I think I’ve described it as a knife fight,” Kirby said. “There are places — towns, villages hamlets — that the Russians and Ukrainians are in very close contact, and it’s very dynamic.”
Now the fight calls for long-range fires, and more than 100 M777 howitzers have been delivered to Ukraine with more than 80 of the guns firing on the enemy right now.
These towns could fall to the Russians one day, and may be retaken by the Ukrainian military the next. “There’s still a lot of back and forth,” the press secretary said. “What we are focused on is making sure that the Ukrainians can succeed on the battlefield and … that’s the nature of the conversations that we have.”
The United States has a lot of confidence in the Ukrainian military and people. The $40 billion supplement passed earlier this month is a concrete example of this. With the supplement, there is more drawdown authorities available and contracting funds to help Ukraine in this fight. “We’re going to marshal and use that resource just as smartly as we’ve done, the last 10 sets of drawdown packages,” Kirby said. “We’re going to be smart about this and we’re going to be in lockstep with the Ukrainians and with our allies and partners.”
The effects of the war are being felt worldwide and there is the looming specter of starvation due to Russia’s blockade in Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Ukraine is the world’s second-largest grain supplier. “One of the things that Ukrainians have said they want help with is coastal defense,” Kirby said. “And so coastal defense assets, including from the United States, are being sent to Ukraine to help them. The world community is mindful of the weaponization of food that Mr. Putin is now doing.”
The international community sees this threat to populations far removed from Europe, Kirby said, and nations are working together to find solutions.
This was Kirby’s last day as Pentagon press secretary. President Joe Biden asked him to take a job at the White House. “Thank you for the way you put me through my paces even today,” he told Pentagon reporters. “Even on my last day I got stretched, I got pushed. That’s what makes you guys so important. That’s what makes this place so special.
“I can’t say that every day up here was pleasant, but I can say that I felt every day I was up here was meaningful,” he continued. “That’s not because of me. It’s because of you. It’s because of the questions you asked and the way you pushed and prodded and not only did your outlets proud, but I think you did the American people proud.” (Source: US DoD)
27 May 22. Poland eyes 500 American rocket launchers to boost its artillery forces.
As Poland is accelerating a number of acquisitions amid Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced he has signed a letter of request to buy about 500 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, from the United States.
“We are increasing the capabilities of our rocket and artillery forces,” Błaszczak said in a tweet released by his ministry. “I have signed an LOR related to the acquisition of about 500 M142 HIMARS launchers for more than 80 batteries of the Homar system.”
The minister said that, under the plan, a significant share of these systems would be produced by Poland-based factories, and Warsaw aims to ensure the weapons’ “integration with the Polish battlefield management system.”
In October 2018, the Polish government sent an official request to buy the Lockheed Martin-made launchers under its Homar program from the United States. The two governments signed a deal in February 2019, enabling the procurement of a total of 20 launchers in the program’s first phase.
The Polish Ministry of National Defence said the first HIMARS contract was worth about $414 million. Deliveries under this deal are scheduled to be completed by 2023.
The latest development comes days after Błaszczak announced his ministry had filed a letter of request to purchase six additional Patriot batteries from the U.S. in a bid to bolster Poland’s mid-range air defense capacities.
Warsaw has pushed forward a number of acquisition programs since the outbreak of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Most of the contracts are expected to be awarded to American suppliers in what local observers perceive as a drive towards an even closer defense cooperation with the U.S. and less collaboration with partners from the European Union.
(Source: Defense News)
26 May 22. Russian Parliament approves bill to remove military age limit.
The bill now requires the signature of Russian President Vladimir Putin to become law. The Russian Parliament has passed a bill to remove the age limit for people seeking to join the military service to address manpower limitations amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
According to a Reuters report, the bill removes the upper age limit for contractual service in the armed forces.
Only Russian citizens aged 18-40 years, and foreigners within the age group of 18-30 years, can currently register themselves to join the military service.
The State Duma lower house passed the new bill in a single session. Following this, the upper house of the legislature also approved the changes. The bill will become law after it is signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin was quoted by the news agency as saying: “Today, especially, we need to strengthen the armed forces and help the Ministry of Defence. Our Supreme Commander is doing everything to ensure that our armed forces win, and we need to help.”
Russia has reportedly suffered significant casualties in the ongoing offensive, which Moscow describes as a ‘special military operation’.
On 25 March, the Russian defence ministry said that 1,351 personnel lost their lives and another 3,825 were wounded since the launch of the operation. It is yet to release an updated list.
Ukraine’s military said that Russian troops shelled more than 40 towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk region as hostilities continue in the east of the country. (Source: army-technology.com)
26 May 22. Ukraine conflict: Czech Republic donates attack helicopters to Kyiv. The Czech Republic has donated attack helicopters to Ukraine, the US government disclosed on 23 May. In wider comments on international aid to Kyiv, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said that Prague had made a donation of attack helicopters as part of a larger military package.
“I’d also like to thank the Czech Republic for its substantial support, including a recent donation of attack helicopters, tanks, and rocket systems,” he said.
Austin did not disclose the attack helicopter type donated by the Czechs, but the only types that fit the bill are the Mil Mi-24 ‘Hind’ that the NATO country has operated since its Warsaw Pact days, and the derived Mi-35 ‘Hind-E’ it received in 2005.
As noted by Janes World Air Forces, the Czech Air Force (CzAF) component of the Army of the Czech Republic (Armáda Ceské Republiky: ACR) operates seven Mi-24V and 10 Mi-35 helicopters. The US statement did not say how many helicopters had been donated. (Source: Janes)
25 May 22. Tanks, but no ammo – Germany’s Ukraine pledges show military muddle. Four weeks ago, Germany agreed to send dozens of anti-aircraft tanks to help defend Ukraine from Russia’s invasion, part of what it called a turning-point after decades of military restraint. Berlin says it can deliver the first Gepard tanks in July.
That’s too slow, a Ukrainian parliamentarian said on Tuesday, as Russian forces launched an assault on the country’s east.
“For us, July is like, ‘what?'” Anastasia Radina, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, told Reuters at the World Economic Forum. “Let me put it like this: Let’s ask a mother who is forced to sit in a basement with her newborn child who has no baby formula. … How far from now is July for her?”
Kyiv’s pleas for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow turned its firepower on Ukraine’s east and south. But one reason for Germany’s delay was a lack of ammunition, industry sources and Ukraine’s ambassador said – a fact that was well-known to Berlin when it first made the pledge.
The confusion underlines how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has caught Berlin on the back foot. Germany is starkly ill-equipped for military action, its army chief has said, despite having one of the biggest defence industries in the world, with 9.35 bn euros worth of weapons exports in 2021 according to government data.
Gepard tanks fire a burst of 35 mm shots that form a cloud in the air to stop an incoming aircraft. Germany no longer uses them and has scant stocks of ammunition, which needs to be manufactured specially.
Supplying the weapons to Ukraine “only makes sense when there is the ammunition to go with it – that was clear to everyone right from the start,” an industry source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because the topic is sensitive.
Asked to comment on the lack of ammunition, a defence ministry spokesperson said the government was giving support where support was possible. On May 20, Berlin said it had found ammunition and would send the tanks. Asked how it had found enough ammunition, the ministry did not respond.
Hours after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” on Feb. 24, the chief of the German army said on LinkedIn he was “fed up” with Germany’s neglect of the military – and that the army was “more or less empty-handed.” To fix that, on Feb. 27 Chancellor Olaf Scholz launched his turning-point or ‘zeitenwende,’ pledging a 100 bn euro ($107 bn) special fund for defence.
But rather than a spontaneous response to the Ukraine invasion, defence sources told Reuters this plan was actually picking up on a defence ministry proposal drawn up months earlier, for talks to form his coalition.
That document, classified as confidential and seen by Reuters, said the army, the Bundeswehr, would need some 102 bn euros to guarantee funding for major defence projects by 2030, and proposed a special fund outside the normal budget.
The plan was not included in the December 2021 coalition treaty. Germany’s government did not respond to a query about why not.
Since promising the Gepard tanks, Berlin has pledged more heavy weapons to Ukraine. At home, it aims to use the special fund to boost defence spending over 4-5 years, bringing it to the 2% of economic output mandated by NATO. That would make Germany the world’s third biggest military spender behind the United States and China, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
But its parliament has yet to pass the special fund.
“Germany … was meant to never again become a military power,” Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the head of parliament’s defence committee, told Reuters.
“That we are asked to show military leadership now. This is a change in mentality which the Germans have to adapt to first,” said Strack-Zimmermann, whose Free Democrats (FDP) are junior partners in Scholz’s three-way coalition.
10 YEARS FOR A HELMET
In the wake of two world wars Germany has shied away from confrontation. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germans felt “surrounded by friends,” a foreign minister said in 1997. The political establishment focused on trade and engagement, to the point where the country came to depend on Russia for half its natural gas supply.
At home, the military has battled red tape so convoluted that it is still waiting for helmets it requested in 2013, of a type which has been in use by the U.S. forces since the 1990s, said Eva Hoegl, the German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces.
“That means it will have taken (Germany) 10 years to procure a helmet that is available on the market and that has been in use in the United States,” she said. The government did not reply to requests for comment on such problems.
Germany’s army, the Bundeswehr, has not a single combat-ready brigade – a unit of some 5,000 troops – to defend German territory. Europe’s biggest economy has one-tenth of the 3,500 main battle tanks it had in the 1980s. Its fleets of fighter jets and submarines number one-quarter of their Cold War strength.
In years when Germany has to provide a brigade for NATO’s quick reaction force – the troops first in line to respond to any Russian attack – the soldiers have to borrow gear from other units.
Soon after the invasion of Ukraine, the defence ministry’s head of procurement, Vice-Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, invited weapons manufacturers to a WebEx meeting on Feb. 28 to discuss ways to increase military readiness to defend Germany, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
“He made it crystal clear that we had to … get ready to ramp up production in anticipation of a huge volume and variety of orders coming in,” an industry source told Reuters.
That has yet to materialise, two defence sources told Reuters.
“We’ve got no orders yet,” another industry source said. Other nations placed orders with Germany’s defence industry days after the invasion, the source said, declining to give details. “In Germany, the war has had no impact on defence procurement procedures.”
“BOLT FROM THE BLUE”
Ukrainian diplomats calling for German arms are receiving mixed messages.
Kyiv requested Gepards from Germany at the start of the war, but Berlin declined, its ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk told broadcaster ntv. The government did not respond to a request for comment.
On April 26, the United States hosted more than 40 countries at an air base in the German town of Ramstein, for talks on arms deliveries to Kyiv. That was the day Germany’s Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said Berlin had given export approval for the Gepards: “This is exactly what Ukraine needs at the moment to secure its airspace,” she told reporters.
The announcement, said Ukraine’s ambassador Melnyk on April 27, was a “bolt from the blue” because Berlin had said there was insufficient ammunition. Two defence industry sources said they only learned from media reports that the government had approved sending the tanks to Ukraine.
The Gepard, called Cheetah in English, is an old system that only a few countries are still using. Germany sold its Gepards a decade ago, so had no need to store ammunition. The tanks are now owned by the defence company that built them, KMW. A company spokesperson declined to comment for this story.
Most of the heavy weapons that NATO countries have sent to Ukraine so far are Soviet-built arms still in the inventories of East European NATO member states, but some allies have recently started to supply Western howitzers.
On May 6, Lambrecht said Germany would also send seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. The Panzerhaubitze 2000 is one of the most powerful artillery weapons in Bundeswehr inventories and can hit targets at a distance of 40 km (25 miles) read more
The guns will come from Bundeswehr inventories and be delivered over the next weeks, Berlin said. Training of Ukrainian troops started in Germany earlier this month and Germany will supply an initial ammunition package, with further purchases to be handled between Kyiv and the industry.
But new purchases for the Bundeswehr will take more time, and members of the ruling coalition are already questioning the need for the special fund.
The youth leaders of the Greens and Scholz’s Social Deocrats (SPD) want more debate over what it is for, and commitment to reforming the procurement system.
“It’s not clear to me what exactly will be bought with [the fund] and we need to reform the procurement system which is burning through money,” said Jessica Rosenthal, a member of parliament and leader of the SPD youth organisation.
“We clearly have a need to catch up on funding for the military – but we need also to do that in other areas.” ($1 = 0.9377 euros) (Source: Reuters)
27 May 22. ‘Stop playing’ with Russia, end war: Zelenskiy tells West.
- Ukraine president critical of EU, urges tougher sanctions
- ‘Stop playing’ with Russia, end ‘senseless war’ – Zelenskiy
- EU summit could see division on sanctions
- Ukraine armed forces chief calls for more weapons
- Russia warns West against giving long-range arms
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the West to stop playing around with Russia and impose tougher sanctions on it to end its “senseless war” in Ukraine, adding that his country would remain independent, the only question was at what price.
Zelenskiy’s criticism of the West has mounted in recent days as the European Union moves slowly towards a possible Russian oil embargo and as thousands of Russian troops try to encircle the two eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
Three months into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has abandoned its assault on the capital Kyiv and is trying to consolidate control of the industrial eastern Donbas region, where it has backed a separatist revolt since 2014.
Western military analysts see the battle for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk as a possible turning point in the war after a shift in momentum towards Russia following the surrender of Ukraine’s garrison in Mariupol last week.
“Ukraine will always be an independent state and it won’t be broken. The only question is what price our people will have to pay for their freedom, and what price Russia will pay for this senseless war against us,” Zelenskiy said in a late-night address on Thursday.
“The catastrophic unfolding events could be still stopped if the world treated the situation in Ukraine as if it were facing the same situation, if the powers that be did not play around with Russia but really pressed to end the war.”
Zelenskiy complained about disagreements within the EU on more sanctions against Russia and asked why some countries were being allowed to block the plan.
The EU is discussing a sixth round of punitive measures, including an embargo on Russian oil imports. It requires unanimity but Hungary opposes the idea on the grounds that its economy would suffer too much.
Hungary needs 3-1/2 to 4 years to shift away from Russian crude and make huge investments to adjust its economy and until there is a deal on all issues, it cannot back the EU’s proposed oil embargo, a top Hungarian aide said.
Zelenskiy said Russia was getting one billion euros a day from the 27-nation bloc for energy supplies.
“How many more weeks will the European Union try to agree on a sixth package?” he asked.
“Pressure on Russia is literally a matter of saving lives. Every day of procrastination, weakness, various disputes or proposals to ‘pacify’ the aggressor at the expense of the victim merely means more Ukrainians being killed.”
Zelenskiy’s comments mark the second day in a row that he has sharpened his criticism of the world’s approach to the war.
On Wednesday, he savaged suggestions that Kyiv make concessions to bring peace, saying the idea smacked of attempts to appease Nazi Germany in 1938. read more
An EU summit on May 30-31 could see divisions between members who want a hard line on Russia and those calling for a ceasefire.
Russian forces attacked from three sides to try to encircle Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk on Thursday, Ukraine’s military said. If the two cities straddling the Siverskiy Donets river fall, nearly all of the Donbas province of Luhansk would be under Russian control.
Russia’s Donbas advance has been backed by massive artillery bombardment. Ukraine’s military said 50 towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces were shelled on Thursday.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said five civilians were killed in Sievierodonetsk in 24 hours.
On Thursday, he said some 150 people were buried in a mass grave in one Lysychansk district as it was too dangerous for families to collect the bodies and bury them individually. Russia says it does not target civilians.
The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny, called on Telegram for more Western arms, particularly “weapons that will allow us to hit the enemy at a big distance”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later warned that any supplies of weapons that could reach Russian territory would be a “a serious step towards unacceptable escalation”.
DANGER OF ESCALATION
Western countries led by the United States have provided Ukraine with long-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, from Denmark.
Washington is even considering providing Kyiv with a rocket system with a range of hundreds of kilometres, and has held discussions with Kyiv about the danger of escalation if it strikes deep inside Russia, U.S. and diplomatic officials told Reuters. read more
“We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia expected Ukraine to accept its demands in any peace talks. It wants Ukraine to recognise Russian sovereignty over the Crimea peninsula Moscow seized in 2014, and the independence of separatist-claimed territory. (Source: Reuters)
26 May 22. Russian Progress in Ukraine Is Only Incremental. Despite an enormous advantage in numbers, Russian forces attacking the Donbas region of Ukraine have made only “incremental progress,” a senior defense official said today.
Russia has deployed 110 operational battalion tactical groups in Ukraine, the official said. The majority are in the south, and the remaining groups are split and fighting in the Donbas region. Even with the preponderance of troop numbers, officials say Russian forces have made small gains.
These gains are offset by Ukrainian gains on other battlefields, most notably around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
The Russian war on Ukraine is in its 92nd day, and Russia’s strategy is evolving, the official said. At first, Russian forces aimed to capture the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and replace the democratically elected government. Three wings of the Russia army expected to quickly overtake the Ukrainian military. One wing attacked from the north; the second attacked Crimea, and the third wing squeezed in from the east. “Well, that didn’t work,” the official said. “So, they started to try to carve off the whole Donbas region by coming south out of Kharkiv and north out of Mariupol.”
The Russians didn’t make much progress on that, either, and have now switched to another objective. They’re trying to pinch off the far eastern provinces on Ukraine, the official said. The fighting is hard and tough, and the switch in terrain and in the objective means a switch in battlefield tactics, leading to the increased importance of long-range fires.
Nations are providing Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to fight the invaders. Of the 108 M-777 howitzers that nations pledged to Ukraine, 85 are now being used by the Ukrainian military the official said. These guns are firing some of the 190,000 155 mm shells that have already been transferred to Ukraine.
Nations have also delivered nine Mi-17 helicopters, and 73 percent of the Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicles. More equipment is arriving every day, and this covers everything from armored personnel carriers and rations to medical supplies and anti-artillery radars and much more.
The Russians have a large force with a lot of capabilities, but the Ukrainian military is more than holding its own. The Ukrainians turned back the Russians from the gates of Kyiv, and they are pushing the Russians back over the border in and around Kharkiv.
Russian tactics and doctrine are helping the Ukrainians, too. ” are trying to overcome some of the challenges that they’ve had — command and control, logistics sustainment, maneuver,” the official said. “But, by and large, what we’re seeing them do, it’s a more localized effort. They’re using smaller units to go after smaller objectives in more of a piecemeal approach.”
But the Russian tactics haven’t evolved during the 92 days of combat. “They’re still doing it in a fairly doctrinal way — using artillery fire in advance and then, and then moving units only after they feel like they softened up the target enough,” he said. “But … they have the numbers on their side, so that’s why I think we continue to see this incremental progress.”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, military officials have said they expect both sides to learn from the experience and evolve. Although the Ukrainians have, “We’re not really seeing a lot of innovative, creative ways of moving on targets . It’s pretty much the same doctrinal approach that they’ve taken in the past,” the official said. (Source: US DoD)
26 May 22. Ukraine says Russia shells more than 40 towns in Donbas push.
- Russian forces shell 40 towns in eastern Ukraine – military
- Mass graves for civilians killed – Luhansk governor
Russian forces shelled more than 40 towns in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Ukraine’s military said, threatening to shut off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of their invasion, now in its fourth month.
After failing to seize Ukraine’s capital Kyiv or its second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbas, comprised of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.
Russia has poured thousands of troops into the region, attacking from three sides in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces holding out in the city of Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk. Their fall would leave the whole of Luhansk province under Russian control, a key Kremlin war aim.
“The occupiers shelled more than 40 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk region, destroying or damaging 47 civilian sites, including 38 homes and a school. As a result of this shelling five civilians died and 12 were wounded,” the Joint Task Force of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook.
The statement said 10 enemy attacks were repelled, four tanks and four drones destroyed, and 62 “enemy soldiers” were killed.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian troops “heavily outnumber us” in some parts of the east.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the battlefield reports.
As Moscow seeks to solidify its grip on the territory it has seized, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process for residents of newly captured districts to acquire Russian citizenship and passports. read more
The Russian parliament scrapped the upper age limit for contractual service in the military on Wednesday, highlighting the need to replace lost troops. read more
In a late night video address, Zelenskiy, commenting on the new Russian enlistment rules, said: “(They) no longer have enough young men, but they still have the will to fight. It will still take time to crush this will.”
Zelenskiy said this week the conflict could only be ended with direct talks between him and Putin.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
Police in Lysychansk are collecting bodies of people killed in order to bury them in mass graves, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said. Some 150 people have been buried in a mass grave in one Lysychansk district, he added.
Families of people buried in mass graves will be able to carry out a reburial after the war, and police are issuing documents enabling Ukrainians to secure death certificates for loved ones, Gaidai said.
A missile blasted a crater in a railway track and damaged nearby buildings in Pokrovsk, a Ukrainian-held Donbas city that has become a major hub for supplies and evacuations.
In Kramatorsk, nearer the front line, streets were largely deserted, while in Sloviansk further west, many residents took advantage of what Ukraine said was a break in the Russian assault to leave.
“My house was bombed, I have nothing,” said Vera Safronova, seated in a train carriage among the evacuees.
Further north, two people were killed and seven wounded by Russian artillery shelling of the town of Balakliya in the Kharkiv region, an aide to its governor said on Facebook.
Russia is also targeting southern Ukraine, where officials said shelling had killed a civilian and damaged scores of houses in Zaporozhzhia and missiles had destroyed an industrial facility in Kryviy Rih.
Moscow has blockaded ships from southern Ukraine that would normally export Ukrainian grain and sunflower oil through the Black Sea, pushing up prices globally. The African Union urged the two countries on Wednesday to unblock exports of grains and fertiliser to avoid widespread famine.
Russia has blamed Western sanctions for the food crisis. It said on Wednesday it was ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine but wanted sanctions to be lifted in return.
Western nations have imposed severe sanctions on Russia.
The United States pushed Russia closer to the brink of a historic debt default on Wednesday by not extending its licence to pay bondholders. That waiver has allowed Moscow to keep up government debt payments till now. The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to make breaking EU sanctions against Russia a crime. read more
The EU also said it hoped to agree sanctions on Russian oil before the next meeting of EU leaders. But Russia, for now at least, is not short of money. Oil and gas revenues stood at $28bn in April alone thanks to high energy prices. (Source: Reuters)
23 May 22. Putin 25km from encircling elite Ukrainian unit in major Donbas victory. Russian troops are just 25km away from encircling Ukraine’s elite special forces in a potential major victory for Vladimir Putin in the Donbas.
Russia’s capture of the Severodonetsk region would see the whole of Luhansk Oblast placed under Russian occupation, the Ministry of Defence has warned. The operation, which is currently Moscow’s main focus, is only one part of their campaign to seize the Donbas.
If the Donbas frontline moved further west, the MoD said it would extend Russian lines of communication and likely lead to forces facing further logistic resupply difficulties.
“Russia has increased the intensity of its operations in the Donbas as it seeks to encircle Severodonetsk, Lyschansk, and Rubizhne,” the MoD said in a statement on Twitter.
“At present the northern and southern axes of this operation are separated by approximately 25kms of Ukrainian-held territory.”
“There has been strong Ukrainian resistance with forces occupying well dug-in defensive positions. Ukraine’s long-established Joint Force Operation likely retains effective command and control of this front.”
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
23 May 22. US, Allies ‘Intensifying’ Effort to Arm Ukraine with New Types of Weapons, Austin Says. A group of 47 nations met Monday and pledged new weapons shipments, including anti-ship missiles, as part of an intensifying effort to arm Ukraine in its nearly three-month-old war with Russia, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
The Harpoon missiles from Denmark — along with attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems from the Czech Republic — were among aid announced by 20 nations, Austin said during a Pentagon press briefing. The missiles come as Russian warships are blocking grain exports from Ukraine’s Odesa and other ports and threatening a global food crisis.
The virtual meeting was the second since April for the U.S. and dozens of countries that are alarmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and eager to coordinate on sending aid to help swing the war in Ukraine’s favor. The U.S., by far the largest contributor of aid, did not announce any new types of weapons shipments but has sent $3.9 bn worth of aid since the beginning of the conflict Feb. 24.
Read Next: Russian Sentenced to Life in Ukraine’s 1st War Crimes Trial
“After today’s discussions, I’m pleased to report that we’re intensifying our efforts and, moving forward, we’ll continue to deepen our coordination and cooperation so that Ukraine can sustain and strengthen its battlefield operations,” Austin said. “Our combined efforts will also fortify and modernize Ukraine’s armed forces, to help them deter future Russian aggression.”
The Russian invasion of farmlands and its fleet in the Black Sea have halted shipments of grain and other food staples from Ukraine, which is known as the “breadbasket of Europe” but also exports food globally. In recent weeks, the war has caused higher prices on shelves around the world and sparked increasing warnings that the blockade could leave vulnerable people in many countries hungry.
Ukraine has been seeking anti-ship missiles from other countries, and the shipment from Denmark could potentially help its forces break the naval blockade.
The group that met Monday included many European nations such as Germany, France and the U.K., which has played a key role in supplying Ukraine and coordinating the assistance. But there were also countries from elsewhere in the world such as Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Poland, Italy, Greece and Norway also agreed to send artillery systems and ammunition, as those weapons have become critical in Ukraine’s fight with Russia in the flat, open eastern region of the Donbas.
“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe,” Austin said.
Last week, the Pentagon announced another $100 m in weapons shipments — the latest authorization by President Joe Biden.
The tranche of aid includes 18 155-millimeter howitzers, along with 18 tactical vehicles to tow them, and three AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder counter-artillery radar systems. The U.S. has focused on the artillery cannons and radar systems in recent shipments as the war has transitioned to the east, though it sent thousands of Javelin and Stinger shoulder-fired missiles in the earlier days of the conflict.
Florida National Guardsmen are training Ukrainians in Germany on the systems and are among the 102,000 U.S. troops now stationed in Europe. That is nearly a 30% increase in the number of forces on the continent prior to Putin’s invasion, according to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The U.S. also has more than 15,000 sailors in the Mediterranean and Baltic seas on 24 warships and submarines, which is an increase from six ships in the fall, Milley said during the press conference with Austin.
Amid the massive buildup, there was a slight thaw in communications with the Russians over the past two weeks. Austin spoke by phone with his counterpart Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on May 13, and Milley later spoke with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian military’s general staff.
“The secretary has all of us in this building and throughout the military focused on managing risk and the potential for escalation. We are watching this factor very, very closely,” Milley said. (Source: Military.com)
23 May 22. Ukraine to get Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark amid Russian Black Sea blockade. Denmark will arm Ukraine with with a modern Harpoon anti-ship launcher and missiles to protect its coasts, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday after concluding the latest U.S.-led meeting of international defense chiefs to coordinate military aid for Ukraine. The announcement came as Russia’s blockade of Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port on the Black Sea, which is threatening global food supplies. At a joint press conference with Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Ukraine, a major producer of grain, hasn’t been able to use Odessa as a transit point for 90 days because of Russia’s fleet, but he said the U.S. would not be intervening more directly.
“I think it’s quite important to the economy of Ukraine, and many countries in the world depend on Ukrainian grain,” Milley said. “As for what we’re doing about it, right now we don’t have any naval assets on the Black Sea, we don’t intend to. Right now its a bit of a stalemate between the Ukrainians wanting to make sure there isn’t an amphibious landing around Odessa. Right now it’s a no-go for commercial shipping.”
The Ukraine Contact Group, which included 40 member countries at the inaugural gathering at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on April 26, has since grown to 47 participants. Austin said Austria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Colombia, Ireland and Kosovo were among the newly represented countries helping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Italy, Greece, Norway and Poland would be donating artillery systems and ammunition, Austin announced. He also lauded the Czech Republic for transferring attack helicopters, tanks, and missile systems to Kyiv.
Though Pentagon officials have said the emphasis has been on Ukraine’s immediate needs against Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian officials have also sought donations to build up their future needs. Before the meeting, Austin said those long-term needs were on the agenda.
“We’ll deepen accountability for security assistance provided to Ukraine, and we’ll discuss how we can strengthen and modernize Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces for the long haul to help ensure that they can deter aggression in the future,” Austin said.
Also on the agenda Monday, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, was to offer an update on Ukraine’s fight and needs. Reznikov last week said Ukraine needs tanks and armored vehicles as well as multiple launch rocket systems, heavy artillery, aircraft and missiles.
Austin said during the post-meeting briefing that the Ukrainians are continuing to ask for long-range fires, armor and unmanned aerial capabilities.
He declined to say whether the U.S. would provide High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, but said Ukraine’s fight “is really shaped by artillery in this phase, and we’ve seen serious exchanges of artillery fires over the last several weeks.”
At Ramstein last month, Australia and Canada committed to providing M777 howitzers, which have since been delivered to Ukrainian forces. The UK has since delivered Brimstone missiles and a short-range air defense system.
“Many more countries have pushed hard to stand up new training missions and we’ve watched these efforts make a difference in real time,” Austin said ahead of the meeting Monday. “Now as Ukraine’s fight continues, our efforts must intensify and we must plan for all the challenges ahead.”
President Joe Biden, who has ruled out putting U.S. forces into direct conflict with Russia, has shipped bns of dollars in military assistance that has helped Ukraine put up a stiffer-than-expected resistance against Russia’s onslaught.
In recent days Biden signed a $40bn Ukraine-related aid package, and sent the last $100m worth of howitzers and other weapons from the previous, $13.6bn package passed by Congress in March. That marked the 10th tranche of U.S. aid.
Biden, at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, said that deterring China from attacking Taiwan was one reason why it’s important that Russian President Vladimir Putin “pay a dear price for his barbarism in Ukraine,” lest China and other nations get the idea that such action is acceptable, the Associated Press reported.
While the U.S. is committed to providing aid to Ukraine in the long term, Austin couldn’t say what will need to happen to end the conflict, whether there could be a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine, or the expulsion of Russian troops from the country.
“What [the] end state looks like will be defined by the Ukrainians and not by us,” Austin said. “And so we’ll leave that up to President Zelenskyy and his leadership to talk about, you know, how this transitions.” (Source: Defense News)
21 May 22. Russia likely facing Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles shortage, UK says. Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which it has attempted to use to identify targets to be struck by combat jets or artillery, British Defence ministry said on Saturday. Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance UAVs, which is exacerbated by limitations in its domestic manufacturing capacity resulting from sanctions, the report said. If Russia continues to lose UAVs at current rate, Russian Forces intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance capability will be further degraded negatively impacting operational effectiveness, Britain said in a regular bulletin. (Source: Reuters)
23 May 22. G7 countries agree to provide $19.8bn to Ukraine. The G7 countries also committed to providing additional financial support to Ukraine, if needed. The Group of Seven (G7), an inter-governmental political forum of seven leading economies, agreed to provide $19.8bn in economic aid to Ukraine. The assistance is expected to help Ukraine to fund its requirements as the ongoing conflict led to a collapse in cash inflows.
The conflict began three months ago after Russia launched a ‘military operation’ against neighbouring Ukraine.
During a meeting in Germany, the financial ministers and central bank governors of the G7 countries discussed the Ukraine situation.
According to a Reuters report, the countries committed to providing additional financial support to Ukraine, if needed.
G7 was quoted by the news agency as saying in a communique: “In 2022, we have mobilised $19.8bn of budget support, including $9.5bn of recent commitments […] to help Ukraine close its financing gap and continue ensuring the delivery of basic services to the Ukrainian people.
“Furthermore, we welcome ongoing work across the G7 and international financial institutions on further substantial financing to Ukraine, notably including the proposal by the European Commission for up to €9bn of additional macro-financial assistance.”
The G7 countries include the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy.
US President Joe Biden has also signed a bill into law that will provide an additional $40bn in assistance to Ukraine.
Last week, the US Senate approved the aid package for Ukraine with an overwhelming majority.
The new legislation will supply approximately $20bn worth of military assistance to the embattled nation to ensure a steady flow of weapons for the Ukrainian troops.
The US administration recently announced another drawdown of equipment from the US Department of Defense (DoD) inventories for Ukraine. The $100m package includes 155mm Howitzers, AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars, and other field equipment. (Source: army-technology.com)
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