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11 Apr 22. Russia may employ phosphorus gas munitions in Mariupol as fighting for the besieged city intensifies, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has warned.
The MoD said the previous use of the weapons by Russian forces in the Donetsk region “raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol”.
In an intelligence update, the ministry said that Russian shelling had continued in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, “with Ukrainian forces repulsing several assaults resulting in the destruction of Russian tanks, vehicles, and artillery equipment”.
The MoD added that Russia’s continued reliance on unguided bombs “decreases their ability to discriminate when targeting and conducting strikes while greatly increasing the risk of further civilian casualties”.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, said the coming week would be as crucial as any in the war: “Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state.”
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
11 Apr 22. UK says Russian shelling has continued in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian shelling has continued in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with Ukrainian forces repulsing several assaults resulting in the destruction of Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery equipment, the UK’s Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin on Monday.
Russian forces prior use of phosphorous munitions in the Donetsk region also raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies, British military intelligence said.
The report said that Russia’s continued reliance on unguided bombs decreases their ability to discriminate when targeting and conducting strikes and greatly increased the risk of further civilian casualties
Reuters could not immediately verify the report. (Source: Reuters)
10 Apr 22. Finland, Sweden set to join NATO as soon as summer, The Times reports Russia has made a “massive strategic blunder” as Finland and Sweden look poised to join NATO as early as the summer, The Times reported on Monday, citing officials.
The United States officials said that NATO membership for both Nordic countries was “a topic of conversation and multiple sessions” during talks between the alliance’s foreign ministers last week attended by Sweden and Finland, report added. (Source: Reuters)
11 Apr 22. Ukraine prepares for Russian assault, calls for more support.
• Russian rockets destroy Dnipro airport
• Austria’s Nehammer to meet Putin in Moscow on Monday
• Washington commits to providing weapons to Ukraine
• World Bank forecasts 45% drop in Ukraine GDP output
Ukraine’s armed forces braced on Monday for a new Russian offensive as powerful explosions rocked cities in the south and east, while Austria’s leader planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and call for an end to the conflict.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy kept up his tireless campaign to generate international support and rally his countrymen, warning the coming week would be important and tense.
“Russia will be even more afraid. It will be afraid to lose. It will fear that the truth will have to be acknowledged,” Zelenskiy said in a late night video address.
“Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state. They may use even more missiles against us, even more air bombs. But we are preparing for their actions. We will answer.”
Air raid sirens were heard across Ukraine early on Monday.
“It is likely that the enemy, in order to disrupt the supply of goods to the places of hostilities, will continue to strike at transport infrastructure facilities in Ukraine in order to destroy or disable them,” the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said.
Russian forces were continuing their offensive to establish full control over the southern city of Mariupol, seeking to storm an iron and steel plant and the seaport, it added.
Russia might also carry out provocative actions in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova in order to accuse Ukraine of aggression against a neighbouring state, the general staff said, without providing evidence.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region in Ukraine’s east, said infrastructure including food stores had been targeted by Russian “informants”, also without providing evidence. Reuters could not confirm the claims.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he would meet Putin on Monday in Moscow for the Russian leader’s first face-to-face meeting with a European Union counterpart since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24. read more
“We are militarily neutral, but (have) a clear position on the Russian war of aggression against #Ukraine,” Nehammer wrote of Austria on Twitter. “It must stop! It needs humanitarian corridors, ceasefire & full investigation of war crimes.”
Russia’s invasion has forced about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, turned cities into rubble and killed or injured thousands.
It has failed to take any major cities, but Ukraine says Moscow has been gathering its forces in the east for a major offensive and has urged people to flee.
A series of powerful explosions were heard in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv and in Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea in the southern part of the country, Ukrainian media reported on Sunday.
Earlier, missiles destroyed the airport in the city of Dnipro, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the central Dnipropetrovsk region.
Russia’s defence ministry said high-precision missiles had destroyed the headquarters of Ukraine’s Dnipro battalion in the town of Zvonetsky.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.
Since Russia invaded, Zelenskiy has appealed to Western powers to provide more defence help, and to punish Moscow with tougher sanctions including embargoes on its energy exports.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told ABC News: “We’re going to get Ukraine the weapons it needs to beat back the Russians to stop them from taking more cities and towns.” read more
Zelenskiy said he had confidence in his own armed forces but “unfortunately I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need” from the United States.
“They have to supply weapons to Ukraine as if they were defending themselves and their own people,” Zelenskiy said in an interview aired on CBS’s “60 Minutes”. “They need to understand this. If they don’t speed up, it will be very hard for us to hold on against this pressure.”
Zelenskiy said earlier on Twitter he had spoken on the phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about additional sanctions, as well as more defence and financial support for his country. Zelenskiy also discussed with Ukrainian officials Kyiv’s proposals for a new package of EU sanctions, his office said.
The EU on Friday banned Russian coal imports among other products, but has yet to touch oil and gas imports from Russia.
Mounting civilian casualties have triggered widespread international condemnation and new sanctions.
Ludmila Zabaluk, head of the Dmytriv Village Department, north of the capital Kyiv, said dozens of civilian bodies were found in the area.
“There were more than 50 dead people. They shot them from close distance. There’s a car where a 17-year-old child was burned, only bones left. A woman had half her head blown off. A bit farther, a man lying near his car was burned alive.”
Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.
Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes by Ukraine and Western countries. It has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
The World Bank on Sunday forecast the war would cause Ukraine’s economic output to collapse by 45% this year, with half of its businesses shuttered, grain exports mostly cut off by Russia’s naval blockade and destruction rendering economic activity impossible in many areas.
The bank forecast Russia’s GDP would contract by 11.2% this year due to punishing Western sanctions. (Source: Reuters)
09 Apr 22. Prime Minister pledges UK’s unwavering support to Ukraine on visit to Kyiv: 9 April 2022.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets President Zelenskyy in Kyiv and pledges to stand by the Ukrainian people.
• Prime Minister meets President Zelenskyy in Kyiv and pledges to stand by the Ukrainian people
• Leaders have discussed the support for Ukraine’s long-term survival as a free and democratic country
• PM set out new military aid and an additional $500m World Bank guarantee to support Ukraine’s economy
The Prime Minister is in Kyiv today [Saturday] to demonstrate the UK’s steadfast solidarity with Ukraine and hold in-depth discussions with President Zelenskyy on military and economic assistance.
He reiterated that the UK will do everything in its power to support Ukraine’s brave fight against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion and ensure its long term security and prosperity.
The Prime Minister set out new military assistance of 120 armoured vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems, to support Ukraine in this crucial phase while Russia’s illegal assault continues. This is in addition to the £100mi worth of high-grade military equipment announced yesterday, including more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles, and high-tech loitering munitions for precision strikes.
The Prime Minister also confirmed further economic support, guaranteeing an additional $500m [£385m] in World Bank lending to Ukraine, taking our total loan guarantee to up to $1bn. This comes alongside the £394m the UK has provided in grant aid, and will help ensure the continued running of vital humanitarian services for Ukrainians .
The UK has responded to the request of the Ukrainian government by liberalising all tariffs on imports from Ukraine and providing customs easements, as part of our commitment to the country’s economic stability.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It is a privilege to be able to travel to Ukraine and meet President Zelenskyy in person in Kyiv today. Ukraine has defied the odds and pushed back Russian forces from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century. It is because of President Zelenskyy’s resolute leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people that Putin’s monstrous aims are being thwarted. I made clear today that the United Kingdom stands unwaveringly with them in this ongoing fight, and we are in it for the long run. We are stepping up our own military and economic support and convening a global alliance to bring this tragedy to an end, and ensure Ukraine survives and thrives as a free and sovereign nation. “(Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Apr 22. Ukraine’s defence ministry said Boris Johnson was ‘the first G7 leader to arrive in Ukraine since the beginning of the large-scale war. The UK and the EU have pledged more financial support to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia and rebuild after the conflict, as British prime minister Boris Johnson met Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. On a previously unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital on Saturday, Johnson said Zelensky had achieved “the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century” by resisting Russian forces and praised Ukraine for “defying the odds”. He said the UK would send Ukraine 120 armoured vehicles, anti-ship missile systems and provide further economic support, and accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of war crimes in the Ukrainian territories that Moscow’s troops had overrun. Speaking in Kyiv, which was almost surrounded by Russian troops just weeks ago, Johnson said it was clear that Putin “has suffered a defeat but his retreat is tactical and he is going to intensify the pressure now in Donbas and in the east”. Ukraine’s military has warned that Russian troops are regrouping and preparing an eastern offensive. Ukraine’s authorities have urged civilians in the Donbas region and around the city of Kharkiv to evacuate. After their meeting, Zelensky called Johnson “one of the most principled opponents of the Russian invasion, a leader in sanctions pressure on Russia and defence support of Ukraine”.
09 Apr 22. Russian forces continue to use IEDs to inflict casualties, says UK intelligence. Russian forces continue to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to inflict casualties, lower morale, and restrict Ukrainian freedom of movement, according to British military intelligence on Saturday.
“Russian forces also continue to attack infrastructure targets with a high risk of collateral harm to civilians,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine leaves evidence of the disproportionate targeting of non-combatants, the statement said.
Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbor. (Source: Google/Reuters)
11 Apr 22. Ukraine’s economy to shrink by nearly half . While Russian attacks are ongoing in eastern Ukraine – where analysts believe Ukraine’s best units are – and the search through debris following a fatal missile strike on a train station is also continuing, the country is facing further economic worries. The World Bank says Ukraine’s economy is set to shrink by almost half this year because of the war. Much of the workforce has fled or is fighting, businesses have closed, and crops and infrastructure has been destroyed. The country is at a point where it needs “massive financial support immediately”, says the bank’s vice-president Anna Bjerde. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia’s aggression is aimed at the whole of Europe. He met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who travelled to the capital Kyiv over the weekend to show “solidarity” with the Ukrainian people while also pledging more military aid . The talks follow Russia’s withdrawal from the Kyiv region where more than 1,200 bodies have been found. According to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, Russian forces were killing civilians every day – a claim which Russia continues to deny. “Ukraine is ready for big battles” against Russia, says the country’s presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak, who adds they must beat back forces in the eastern Donbas region for negotiating power. (Source: BBC)
10 Apr 22. The Ukrainian КОЗАК-5 is a 10.5 tonne GVW armoured utility vehicle produced by the NVO PRACTIKA Research and Product Association of West Kyiv, writes Bob Morrison. At the recent World Defence Show 2022 in Saudi Arabia we had the chance to photograph the КОЗАК-5 (also referred to as the KOZAK-5 or COSSACK-5) in use with the elite Saudi Special Security Forces (SSF) at the dress rehearsal for a dynamic display of interoperability; it has been reported that a total of 60 of these vehicles were delivered by August 2021.
According to the manufacturer, the KOZAK-5 is intended for both low intensity tactical tasks and Police or Special Operations Forces use. The smallest of the PRACTIKA family of armoured vehicles, its compact overall dimensions are said to make it perfect for action in densely built-up urban areas. PRACTIKA also say the vehicle was designed bearing in mind that occupants can expect to spend a long time inside it during missions, so the crew compartment has been made spacious with a comfortable internal height and it has both noise and thermal protection; there is also an air-conditioning pack on the rear roof. Driver and crew seats are of anthropometric shape to ensure occupants feel less tired after long trips.
6100x2340x2390mm (to top of roof) and has a ground clearance of 300mm. Powered by a 330hp diesel engine with automatic transmission, it has a top road speed of 150km/hand an operational range of 600km. Dependent on internal configuration it has seating for up to ten and its STANAG 4569 protection is Level 2 Ballistic and Level 1a/1b Blast. Both manned turrets and remote weapon stations can be fitted, but the SSF vehicles I photographed all had the former. It also appeared that the Saudi vehicles were configured for a crew of four with the rear compartment being used primarily for transporting cargo or personal kit etc.
Two more vehicles from PRACTIKA, the КОЗАК-2M and the КОЗАК-7, were displayed on the Ukrainian pavilion at WDS 2022, but I plan to cover these separately. Versions of the КОЗАК are, or have been, used by the Ukrainian Army, Naval Infantry, National Guard and Border Guard.
10 Apr 22. Austin Thanks Ukrainian Force Trained in U.S. Returning to Ukraine. This morning, via videoconference, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke to a small number of Ukrainian forces who are returning to Ukraine from the United States.
The forces were in the United States as part of the Defense Department’s long history of hosting Ukrainian service members for training and education.
The Ukrainian soldiers were participating in a pre-scheduled professional military education program at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School in Biloxi, Mississippi, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby.
That school is a security cooperation school, operating under the U.S. Special Operations Command in support of foreign security assistance and geographic combatant commanders’ theater security cooperation priorities.
The Ukrainian forces received training on patrol craft operations, communications and maintenance, Kirby said.
Since the conclusion of the course in early March, the DOD provided the group additional advanced tactical training on the systems the United States has provided to Ukraine, including on the Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicle, Kirby said.
Today was the group’s last day in the United States. They spoke to Austin from the Navy’s base at Little Creek, Virginia, where they completed additional advanced tactical training.
The secretary thanked the troops for their service and for their courage, noting the skill with which the Ukrainian armed forces are fighting to defend their nation from Russia’s unprovoked invasion, Kirby said.
The secretary pledged to them continued U.S support for Ukraine, providing and coordinating additional security assistance, Kirby added. (Source: US DoD)
11 Apr 22. Jacinda Ardern speaks after Cabinet meeting, announces more support for Ukraine. New Zealand will deploy a C-130 Hercules aircraft with 50 Defence Force personnel to Europe, to help transport and distribute donated military aid to Ukraine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
At a media briefing after the weekly Cabinet meeting, Ardern and Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced further support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
Ardern says New Zealand will deploy a C-130 Hercules aircraft with 50 Defence Force personnel to Europe, to help transport and distribute donated military aid to Ukraine.
She says an international donor coordination centre has been set up in Germany, and over the next two months the plane will join a train of military aircraft carrying supplies to key distribution centres, but will not at any time enter Ukraine.
“Nor have they been asked to.”
It will depart on Wednesday. The NZDF will also deploy an eight-person team to Germany to help coordinate the flow of aid and supplies to Ukraine and will remain for at least three months.
Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short says the aircraft is deploying with 20 maintenance people as well as the 50 personnel, to ensure it can operate wherever it is needed. He says the earliest the plane could be operating within Europe is expected to be Monday next week.
Cabinet has decided New Zealand will also contribute $13 million for military, legal and human rights support, including $7.5m for weapons and ammunition procurement via the United Kingdom, enabling the UK to help supply arms to Ukraine.
“It ensures they have what they need when they need it, given the constantly shifting nature of this war.”
Ardern says $4.1m will go to commercial satellite access for Ukraine, giving near-real-time information to Ukraine officials enabling them to respond to Russia’s movements on the battlefield.
Some $1m will go to the office of the high commissioner for human rights, to support the ongoing monitoring of and accountability of human rights violations, and $500,000 for the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to support the case against Russia.
This follows $315,000 committed last month.
“This contribution is not one the government has taken lightly,” Ardern says.
She says the aid in all its forms is intended to assist the Ukraine efforts to repel Russia’s invasion, and ultimately New Zealand will look at the way it can make the greatest difference.
Asked if it is enough compared to Australia’s latest contribution, Ardern says New Zealand has now committed $30m worth of aid and military support, along with 67 people.
“We are playing our part in a significant way.”
Ardern has previously herself noted New Zealand’s support in providing “non-lethal” aid, but says the government has always questioned that distinction between lethal and non-lethal considering all efforts were going towards supporting the war effort.
Asked about supplying javelin missiles, Air Marshal Kevin Short says they have been told the supplies would last a very short period of time and it’s better to go through the UK and Nato coordination centres to provide aid, as “it will get there quicker and be used in compatible with the Ukraine forces”.
Ardern says the reason this stands with New Zealand’s values is because what we’re seeing in Ukraine is a blatant breach of a country’s sovereignty.
“An act like this impacts on every democracy and every country that considers its sovereignty sacred.”
Henare says today’s contributions are very significant, and are in addition to the other support provided over the past few weeks.
“We are actively listening to Ukraine and our partners about how we can best support the people of Ukraine … New Zealand has moved at pace to provide significant support as the situation continues to evolve.”
Henare says at this point Cabinet has not considered sending LAVs. He says they looked at how tenable that would be but simply transporting, training, managing, repairing and servicing them would be “exceptionally hard and exceptionally expensive”.
He says New Zealand’s contributions have been noted by partners including the UK and others internationally.
Short says the people of Ukraine have been able to defend their country “very well”.
“They’ve been able to that with the supply of both ammunition and systems and also intelligence to allow them to operate effectively. They have the morale, they have the will and they’re fighting for their country. We’re seeing Russia having to change its tactics and actually having to reconstitute to stay within this fight.”
Russia’s ambassador has continued to refuse requests to brief MPs at the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, stoking further calls for him to be expelled.
The impasse has prompted MPs to consider hauling the ambassador, Georgii Zuev, before Parliament to answer questions about his country’s invasion of Ukraine, but that would be extraordinary – he has diplomatic immunity.
She says New Zealand’s position is very clear with the Russian Ambassador, and the select committee seeking to have him appear is seeking legal advice on whether he can be compelled to appear considering he has diplomatic immunity.
She says she intends to let the committee go through its processes, and “this is not the thing that is going to make the most tangible difference to those who are subject to this war, and that is the focus we have as a government”.
She expects the committee will hear the legal advice and respond to that.
“In terms of what’s going to make a difference to the people of Ukraine, it is much less likely to be those engagements with diplomats and more likely to be economic sanctions, the pressure on the Russian economy and the contribution to the war effort.”
Commentators including Waikato University international law professor Al Gillespie have also spoken about how the emergence of war crimes and crimes against humanity have changed the nature of the conflict.
He said this could mean it is now justified for the government to consider sending weapons like New Zealand’s javelin missiles or expelling lower-level officials from the Russian embassy.
Ardern says people considering going to Ukraine to help fight would not be prosecuted, but New Zealand also cannot provide consular support in a war zone and the advice is not to travel. (Source: News Now/https://www.rnz.co.nz/news)