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19 Apr 22. Russia launches ‘Battle of Donbas’ on eastern front, Ukraine says.
- Russian forces attack along most of front line in east
- Zelenskiy says Ukrainian forces will fight on
- U.S. President Biden to talk to allies about help for Ukraine
Russian forces have launched their anticipated offensive in eastern Ukraine, attempting to push through defences along almost the entire front line early on Tuesday in what Ukrainian officials described as the second phase of the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia had begun the “Battle of Donbas” in the east and a “very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive”.
“No matter how many Russian troops they send there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves,” he said in a video address on Monday.
Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, assured Ukrainians their forces could hold off the offensive in “the second phase of the war”.
“Believe in our army, it is very strong,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from Russia’s defence ministry on the latest fighting. The governor of the Russian province of Belgorod said Ukrainian forces had struck a border village wounding one resident. read more
Ukrainian media reported a series of explosions, some powerful, along the front line in the Donetsk region, with shelling taking place in Marinka, Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.
Blasts were also heard in Kharkiv in the northeast, Mykolaiv in the south and Zaporizhzhia in the southeast while air raid sirens were also going off in main centres near the front line, officials and media said.
Reuters was not immediately able to verify the reports.
Ukraine’s top security official, Oleksiy Danilov, said Russian forces attempted to break through Ukrainian defences “along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions”.
Driven back by Ukrainian forces in the north, Russia has refocused its ground offensive in the two eastern provinces known as the Donbas, while launching long-distance strikes at other targets including the capital, Kyiv.
Donbas has been the focal point of Russia’s campaign to destabilise Ukraine, starting in 2014 when the Kremlin used proxies to set up two separatist “people’s republics” in the ex-Soviet state. It is also home to much of Ukraine’s industrial wealth, including coal and steel.
Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces aimed to establish full control over the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson regions, while intensifying missile strikes in west Ukraine.
BIDEN TO HOST CALL WITH ALLIES
Western countries and Ukraine accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of unprovoked aggression, and the White House said U.S. President Joe Biden would hold a call with allies on Tuesday to discuss the crisis, including on how to coordinate on holding Russia accountable. read more
French President Emmanuel Macron said his dialogue with Putin had stalled after mass killings were discovered in Ukraine. read more
The United Nations said on Monday the war’s civilian death toll had surpassed 2,000, reaching 2,072 as of midnight on April 17 from the beginning of the invasion on Feb. 24.
About 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country.
Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls a special operation to demilitarise Ukraine and eradicate dangerous nationalists. It rejects what Ukraine says is evidence of atrocities, saying Ukraine has staged them to undermine peace talks.
‘HELL ON EARTH’
Russia has been trying to take full control of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, which has been besieged for weeks and which would be a big strategic prize, linking territory held by pro-Russian separatists in the east with the Crimea region that Moscow annexed in 2014 and freeing up the besieging troops.
Video footage showed block after residential block in charred ruins. Shell-shocked residents in the Primorskyi district cooked on open fires outside their damaged homes.
“To be honest, we are not well,” one resident named Olga told Reuters. “I have mental problems after air strikes, that’s for sure. I’m really scared. When I hear a plane I just run.”
The city council said at least 1,000 civilians were still hiding in shelters beneath the vast Azovstal steel plant, which contain myriad buildings, blast furnaces and rail tracks. read more
Major Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th marine brigade which is still fighting in Mariupol, appealed for help in a letter to Pope Francis.
“This is what hell looks like on earth … It’s time (for) help not just by prayers. Save our lives from satanic hands,” he said in the letter, according to excerpts that Ukraine’s Vatican ambassador posted on Twitter. (Source: Reuters)
18 Apr 22. Russia Adds 11 Battalion Tactical Groups in Ukraine. There are now 76 Russian battalion tactical groups in the Donbas region of Ukraine and in the country’s southeast. About 11 of those were added over the last several days, a senior Defense Department official said today.
So-called BTGs are typically composed of combined-arms elements, such as air defense, armor, tactical vehicles, artillery, helicopters, engineering and logistical support.
Besides the 76 BTGs, there are about 22 BTGs north of Ukraine that are likely being resupplied and refitted, the official said.
About a dozen of those inside Ukraine are trying to take Mariupol, an important port on the Sea of Azov, the official said.
“Our assessment is Mariupol is still contested,” the official said. The city remains under threat from heavy Russian air strikes and artillery.
There are a substantial number of Russian ground forces in and around Mariupol, the official said.
Should Mariupol fall to the Russians, that would free the dozen or so BTGs to be used elsewhere in the east or south of Ukraine, the official said. “That’s a big if because the Ukrainians are still fighting very, very hard for Mariupol.”
The Ukrainians have reported that they believe Russia is preparing to land Russian marines in the vicinity of Mariupol. “We can’t confirm that independently, but we’re certainly not in a position to dispute it,” the official said.
Further to the west of Mariupol is another important port city: Mykolayiv. Over the last several days, it has been subject to Russian bombardment from airstrikes and artillery, the official said.
Just to the west of Mykolayiv is the port city of Odesa, which is also important. “We still assess that the Russian navy is maintaining a standoff distance from Odesa, not getting very close in the wake of the Moskva sinking,” the official said.
The Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva is believed to have been sunk by Ukrainian missiles several days ago.
The Russians do have some amphibious capability in the Black Sea and in the Sea of Azov, the official said.
The Russians have at least one tank landing ship in the Sea of Azov that’s capable of landing Russian marines, and there are other of the same class of vessels in the Black Sea. Thus far, there are no indications that an amphibious assault is imminent, the official said.
In the north, the Russians continue bombing in the vicinity of Kharkiv as Russian forces blockade the city, the official said.
In the Joint Forces Operation of the Donbas region of Ukraine, the heaviest fighting is around a town called Popasna, the official said.
Fighting also continues to the south and the southeast of the Ukrainian city of Izyum, the official said.
“The Donbas region has been a hot war for eight years. Both sides have traded geography with some violence over the last eight years, and the Ukrainians do have a not insignificant force posture there, and they are fighting,” the official said.
Elsewhere, Russian long-range bombers have executed cruise missile strikes on both Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the city of Lviv in Ukraine’s far west over the last couple of days, the official said.
The Pentagon’s assessment is that they are going after primarily military targets or what they believe to be military targets, the official said.
In other news, U.S. Army and Marine Corps 155 mm howitzers that are in the United States have been earmarked for Ukraine and will be shipped soon, the official said.
Since Ukrainian armed forces are not familiar with this type of artillery, there will be training to “train-the-trainer” for Ukrainians outside of Ukraine in the coming days, the official said. (Source: US DoD)
19 Apr 22. Boris Johnson will supply high-tech Stormer missile launchers to Ukraine: 13-ton British-made anti-aircraft vehicles that unleash Starstreak missiles are being deployed to take down Putin’s jets and helicopters
- The UK is set to send Stormer HVMs to to take on Russian jets and helicopters
- The advanced armoured anti-aircraft vehicles could arrive in the war in days
- Experts say they are ‘the best kit’ western allies have provided to Ukraine so far
Boris Johnson is set to supply high-tech armoured vehicles with anti-aircraft missiles mounted on them to Ukraine to take down Vladimir Putin’s jets and helicopters.
The Prime Minister is set to give the beleaguered country a number of Stormer HVMs to help try and clear the skies of Russian aircraft as the war rages on in eastern Europe.
The 13-ton vehicles, which only need three people to crew them – a driver, commander and gunner – could be loaded onto transport planes and sent to Ukraine within days.
The lowdown on Ukraine’s latest British-made weapon
Name – Stormer HVM (Heavy Velocity Missile)
Number of missiles – eight mounted on the turret, each of which breaks into three separate projectiles. Eight more inside the vehicle.
Number of personnel needed – three
Weight – 13.5 tons
Length – 5.6 metres
Width – 2.8 metres
Height – 3.4 metres
Max Speed – 50mph
According to The Sun a Ukrainian delegation was shown the weapons in action at Salisbury Plain two weeks ago.
It added experts had hailed the addition of the Stormer to the war meant it was ‘the best kit’ sent by Ukrainian allies yet.
It comes after defence secretary Ben Wallace revealed last month the UK was going to send the Starstreak system to Ukraine.
These missiles, which can be shoulder mounted or put on the turret of the Stormer, break into three projectiles after being fired, allowing them to perform multiple strikes on targets.
They travel at more than three times the speed of sound and are well suited to taking down low-flying enemy jets.
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, told the Sun: ‘The Stormer/Starstreak combination will be a huge boost to Ukraine’s fighting capability.
‘It is an extremely effective, highly mobile combat vehicle that will do severe damage to any attempts at low-level attack by Putin’s air force.’
It comes as Russian troops began shelling cities in eastern Ukraine, with President Zelensky saying ‘the battle for the Donbas’ region of the country has now begun.
After weeks of having their assaults on Kyiv thwarted at every turn, Putin’s commanders are now refocusing their efforts on the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk,
The Stormer vehicles are expected to be useful to Ukrainian troops as they can move quickly and on unstable ground to get into position
Ukrainian media outlets and Telegram channels reported a series of explosions along the front line in the Donetsk region, with shelling taking place in Marinka, Slavyansk and Kramatorsk throughout Monday evening.
Local officials and media also said explosions were heard in Kharkiv in the northeast of Ukraine, Mykolaiv in the south and Zaporizhzhia in the southeast.
Fighting in eastern Ukraine has intensified in recent weeks since Russia withdrew many of its troops from areas around Kyiv, but the synchronised bombardment of several key eastern cities suggests the war has entered a new phase. (Source: Daily Mail)
18 Apr 22. Russian missile strikes on Lviv leave seven dead, say Ukrainian officials. City has been haven for people fleeing violence in other parts of the country Firefighters battle a blaze after a civilian building was hit by a Russian missile in Lviv, western Ukraine, on Monday. Officials in Lviv said seven people were killed in Russian missile strikes on the city in western Ukraine on Monday as Moscow’s brutal siege of Mariupol in the country’s south-east appeared to be entering its final stages. Andriy Sadovyy, Lviv’s mayor, reported “five targeted missile strikes” on the city, a haven for people fleeing violence in the rest of the country. Maksym Kozytskyi, Lviv’s regional governor, said in an update published after noon on Monday that seven people had died in the attacks and another 11 had been injured, including a child. He said that Russia had fired four cruise missiles, which, based on preliminary information, were believed to have been fired from the Caspian Sea region. The attacks came after Ukrainian officials claimed that civilians in Mariupol, including children, were sheltering alongside the last group of fighters under a steelworks in the blockaded city. About 2,000 Ukrainian troops remain, despite a Russian ultimatum that they surrender. Ukrainian security services (SBU) have also released a video in which Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the country, asked to be exchanged for Ukrainian forces and civilians still trapped in Mariupol. The SBU said Medvedchuk, who escaped house arrest on treason charges at the start of the war in February, had been arrested last week while Russia’s FSB security service was trying to evacuate him to Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist region in Moldova. It added that about 120,000 civilians remained in Mariupol, where Kyiv’s 36th Marine Brigade and the ultranationalist Azov Battalion are holding out against the Russian siege. (Source: FT.com)
18 Apr 22. The Russian Defense Industry: A Distressed Brand.
Dr. Can Kasapoğlu
The war in Ukraine has damaged the reputation of Russian arms. Heavy armor has proved especially vulnerable, but other weapons have also not performed to standard. The future, moreover, is bleak. Due to crushing Western sanctions, Russia’s defense technological and industrial base, which is already plagued by debt, will now fare even worse.
The Ukraine gambit of Russian leader Vladimir Putin represents a strategic miscalculation of the first order. The Russian army failed to capture Kyiv, and instead was forced to withdraw from the northern sector of Ukraine. This retreat announced a failure to achieve the major political objective of the war: toppling the Zelensky government and replacing it with a puppet regime. From a military point of view, several factors explain this development: poor logistics, ill-selected concepts of operations, and, above all, low-quality intelligence, which underestimated the Ukrainian military’s warfighting will and capacity. But a fourth factor also stands out: the poor performance of Russian weaponry, especially heavy armor, combat aircraft, and air defense systems.
Some 40 days into the conflict, the Russian military had already lost around 470 main battle tanks, the equivalent of a mid-sized European country’s entire tank arsenal. More than 230 pieces were hit by kinetic strikes, while the rest were abandoned by their crews or captured by Ukrainian forces. The kill list includes several high-end heavy-armor platforms, such as T-72B3s, T-90s, and T-80 variants – including the latest T-80BVMs.1 If present trends continue, the list will grow dramatically.
To be sure, tactical mistakes, such as the failure of infantry and armor to cooperate, have played a critical role in the collapse, and the Kremlin’s expectation of a short war also contributed. But open-source monitoring of the conflict undeniably indicates that the weaponry and platforms themselves failed to perform adequately. Above all, high-end anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), such as the Javelin and Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW) provided by Western suppliers, and Ukraine’s own Stugna-P have proven to be very effective in both penetrating Russian armor and evading countermeasures. Given the proliferation of modern anti-tank missiles and the fact that modern warfare is generally fought in urban and sub-urban terrains, which favor anti-tank capabilities, the outcomes from Ukraine will alarm existing operators of Russian tanks and their future buyers.
Apart from the threat posed by modern ATGMs in asymmetric warfare settings, twenty-first century battlespaces pose another problem for Russian heavy armor, namely, unmanned aircraft systems (drones). By providing real-time and high-quality ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target-acquisition, and Reconnaissance), drones enable artillery and rocket weaponry to target maneuver platforms and concealed defensive positions with greater accuracy. Drones also provide speedy battle-damage assessments, revealing the destructive effects of strikes and indicating whether additional salvos are needed to eliminate the adversary. Evidence suggests that the Ukrainian fire-support units have been systematically augmented by drones.2 The drone and artillery complexes became even more lethal when paired with guided shells, such as Ukraine’s very own Kvitnyk 152mm-class laser-guided munitions, which are able to hit a standard piece of paper from twenty kilometers according to Ukroboronprom.3 Ukraine’s Turkish-made Bayraktar-2 drones also carried out successful air-ground strikes on unprotected Russian armored vehicles.4 Directly and indirectly, drones tipped the balance against Russian armor.
In retrospect, Turkey’s successful Operation Spring Shield against the Syrian Arab Army in 2020 and Azerbaijan’s victory over the Armenian military during the Second Karabakh War of the same year were harbingers of the Russian setbacks in Ukraine. Mechanized Syrian formations and the Armenian forces in Karabakh, both of which relied on Soviet-Russian armored platforms, proved extremely vulnerable to artillery and rocket fire guided by drones operated in spotter roles. In both conflicts, Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 drones engaged in successful air-ground attacks, hunting their prey with Roketsan-made MAM-L smart munitions.
After both conflicts, analysts raised doubts about whether the vulnerability of Russian heavy armor to drones (and drone and artillery complexes) told us more about the equipment or the users. Could we be sure that Russia’s allies wielded state-of-the-art systems? Were their systems integrated in the most optimal fashion? Couldn’t the Russian military be expected to perform to a higher standard than the Syrians and Armenians? The Ukraine war has taught us that drones now enjoy an inherent advantage.
And the future is bleak. Turkey’s drone industry is in the process of incorporating even more destructive munitions (such as MAM-T) certified for unmanned platforms with larger combat payloads, such as Baykar’s Akinci and Tusas’s Aksungur, which will also be equipped with better sensors. These bigger beasts will offer more signature to air defense sensors, but, especially when engaging unprotected armor, or operating over ill-networked air defenses, they will be able to unleash significantly greater firepower. At the time of writing, the Israeli government has not cleared Baltic nations to transfer Spike anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. We have also not seen the US-made Switchblade-600 loitering munitions in action, to say nothing of more advanced American drones. Had Russian armor faced these systems, it is safe to assume their losses would have been far worse.
The Russian Aero-Space Forces (VKS), and its high-end aircraft, have also suffered unanticipated losses. Much to the surprise of many observers, the Russian forces proved incapable of achieving air superiority. The reasons for this are several. The story begins with the Syrian war, which accounts for the most significant recent combat experience of the Russian military. In Syria, the Russians confronted an adversary with neither an air force nor sophisticated air defenses. Consequently, the leadership in Moscow failed to estimate the difficulty of overcoming the Ukrainians, who have real capabilities, albeit those of a mid-sized state. Basic Russian planning of missions was inadequate, whether we are talking about the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) or offensive counter-air operations (OCA), which target Ukraine’s airpower infrastructure, and fighter sweeps, which are search and destroy missions targeting enemy aircraft.
The story may begin with the inadequate preparation that the Syrian war provided Russian forces, but it ends with the inherent deficiencies of Russian weaponry. To eliminate Ukraine’s strategic air defenses, the VKS’s combat air patrols in Su-30SM and Su-35S aircraft have been carrying Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles (missiles designed to detect and home-in on radar emissions). These sorties have performed below standards. To be sure, they have managed to strike some Ukrainian S-300s successfully, but Russian SEAD sorties have performed more reliably from lower altitudes, which expose the planes to the low- and mid-range Ukrainian air defense systems, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Time and again, the Ukrainians have downed aircraft flying at lower altitudes, forcing the Russians to ascend to heights that offer only a limited kill probability against ground targets.5
Russian air-ground bombardment has fared even worse. A lack of high-quality precision-guided munitions (PGM) has forced Russian multi-role aircraft to deliver dumb bombs that must be dropped at lower altitudes, thus exposing the aircraft, here again, to Ukrainian systems. This includes even the Su-34s, which in air-ground missions in Syria have served as the traditional Russian PGM-delivery assets.
Nor were Russia’s principal air superiority aircraft as decisive as one might have expected in air-to-air missions. For weeks, Ukraine’s Mig-29s were able to fly combat sorties and score sensational kills.
These deficiencies produced a scene that is now iconic, when former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko congratulated a MANPADS operator for his downing of an Su-30SM (a modern, multirole aircraft with a large export portfolio, ranging from Belarus to India).6 In addition to this well-publicized episode, Ukraine’s Soviet-legacy short-range OSA (SA-8) air defense system also successfully intercepted another Su-30SM, and Russia’s advanced Su-35 fighter (a super-maneuverable 4.5 generation fighter aircraft, which is also operated by China) was downed over Izium.7
Air and Missile Defense Systems
On April 1, 2022, two Ukrainian Mi-24 gunships took off from their bases and flew through territory cluttered with the short and medium range air defenses of the Russian ground forces. From there they slipped into Russian territory, even though it was covered by a layered network of advanced radars and robust air defenses, which included state-of-the art strategic surface-to-air missiles (SAMS), the S-400s. Despite the dangers of this terrain, they still managed to attack a key supply facility in Belgorod. This success was not a fluke. In an earlier stage of the war, the Ukrainian forces hit Russia’s Millerovo air base in Rostov with Tochka missiles. Despite being a legacy weapons system, the Tochkas still managed to evade Russian tactical ballistic missile interceptors. These incidents cast a long shadow over Russian air defense weaponry, whose renown was, until now, unquestioned.
The problems do not end there. The war in Ukraine has exposed another weakness in Russian air defenses: their vulnerability to Turkish-manufactured drones, particularly the Bayraktar TB-2s. At the time of writing, OSINT outlet Oryx reports that the Russian military has lost fifty two air defense systems in Ukraine. Of the twenty-seven SAM systems that were lost to kinetic strikes, ten were hit by Bayraktar TB-2s, accounting for thirty-seven percent of the total kinetic eliminations. Even worse for the Russians, the kill list of the Bayraktar TB-2s includes Russia’s Tor-M2 and Pantsir systems, which were modernized specifically to intercept drones.8
The vulnerability to Turkish drones stems, ironically, from the Bayraktar TB-2’s relative lack of speed. The Russians designed their systems to target Western, manned aircraft, but the Bayraktar TB-2 has a piston engine and it is slow-moving, making it hard for the Russian sensors to recognize it as a target aircraft. The Russian radar would find any other slow-moving, piston-engine drone equally difficult to detect. Likewise, Smaller loitering-munitions also stress the traditional Russian air defenses, as we saw with the Israeli-manufactured kamikaze drones that Azerbaijan deployed against Armenian mobile air defense systems in the Second Karabakh War. Finally, it seems that Russian electronic warfare envelopes, focusing on suppressing the X band & Ku band gap (that is, the Krasukha-4 system), as well as jamming HF/VHF communications (that is, the Borisoglebsk-2 system) cannot cover the essential electronic systems and data-link configuration of the Turkish drones, especially along the C-band.9
Some experts may offer alternative explanations, but however one slices it, the vulnerability has been documented on multiple occasions and in diverse situations—in Syria, Karabakh, Libya, and now in Ukraine. If the Russian military cannot contend with drones in its most geopolitically important battleground, then the verdict is now clear: its air defense systems are simply not up to the challenge. And the problem is set to get worse. The international market for armed, military drones is on the rise. The number of suppliers and available products are growing fast. The chance that the Russian arms industry will keep pace is extremely small.
Russian Arms Exports
In recent years, Russia successfully marketed weaponry that it debuted in the Syrian conflict, but the war in Ukraine will reverse those gains. Manufacturers must now prioritize the resupply of the Russian military. Exports will take a back seat. Even longstanding clientele will be denied not just new weapons but also spare parts. The shortages will be most apparent with respect to heavy armor, aircraft, and missiles.
On top of this temporary setback, a larger catastrophe looms. Russian arms manufacturers were already in trouble before the war. In 2020, the debts of the Russian defense industries totaled $39bn. To subsidize domestic manufacturers, the government wrote off loans worth about $10bn.10 Today, given the Russian military’s material losses, the country’s terrible economic outlook under an avalanche of Western sanctions, and the ongoing brain-drain exacerbated by the Kremlin’s strategic miscalculation, Russia’s defense industry is set to spiral downward.
If the war becomes prolonged, and if the Ukrainians continues to bleed the invaders the spiral will intensify. The longer Russian troops operate in urban environments, the more war crimes they will commit. The Russian track record from Chechnya to Syria permits no other prediction. In today’s networked world, covering up atrocities is nearly impossible. When new war crimes to light, the sanctions will tighten, making it even harder for Russian defense industries to purchase needed supplies on the international market. Clients will find doing business with the Russians risky. They will have less trust in the quality of the products and less confidence in the ability of manufacturers to deliver on time and to guarantee a steady supply of spare parts. On top of this, some may also fear the moral stain of working with Moscow. In sum, the Russian brand has suffered a blow from which it will take years to recover.
1 For a detailed database, see: Oryx, Attack On Europe: Documenting Equipment Losses During The 2022 Russian Invasion Of Ukraine, https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html, Accessed on: April 11th, 2022. ↝
2 Ukraine Weapons Tracker, https://twitter.com/UAWeapons/status/1505976237222772741; Ukraine Weapons Tracker, https://twitter.com/UAWeapons/status/1505296986420961283; 2022; Rob Lee Twitter, https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1504871853583699989, Accessed on: April 11th, 2022. ↝
3 Ukroboronprom, https://ukroboronprom.com.ua/en/product/kvitnik, Accessed on: April 11th, 2022. ↝
4 The Ukrainian Navy Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/navy.mil.gov.ua/videos/1390225228057121/, Accessed on: April 11th, 2022. ↝
5 Justin Bronk, “Getting Serious About SEAD: European Air Forces Must Learn from the Failure of the Russian Air Force over Ukraine”, RUSI, April 6th, 2022, https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/rusi-defence-systems/getting-serious-about-sead-european-air-forces-must-learn-failure-russian-air-force-over-ukraine, Accessed on: April 12th, 2022. ↝
6 Calibre Obscura, https://twitter.com/CalibreObscura/status/1500191282420928513, Accessed on: April 12th, 2022. ↝
7 Ukraine Weapons Tracker, https://twitter.com/UAWeapons/status/1500867759097491463, Accessed on: April 12th, 2022. ↝
8 Oryx, https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/defending-ukraine-listing-russian-army.html, Accessed on: April 14th, 2022. ↝
9 For a comprehensive work, see: Can Kasapoglu, A Dangerous Drone for All Seasons: Assessing the Ukrainian Military’s Use of the Bayraktar TB-2, Jamestown Foundation, March 16, 2022. ↝
10 Sergey Sukhankin, “Russia’s Defense-Industrial Complex at a Crossroads: Aura Versus Reality (Part Two)”, Jamestown Foundation, May 2021, https://jamestown.org/program/russias-defense-industrial-complex-at-a-crossroads-aura-versus-reality-part-two/, Accessed on: April 13th, 2022. ↝
(Source: Hudson Institute)
14 Apr 22. Ukraine conflict heightens US military’s data privacy vulnerabilities. Amid the artillery strikes and armored assaults, several quieter aspects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine require closer attention, including targeted phishing and malicious data mining.
Russian operators, or at least their supporters, have flooded the inboxes of Ukrainians, particularly military service members, with malware-laden email. This tactic can be used to distribute disinformation and amass personal data to further their effort of compiling lists of Ukrainians for detention and harm. Similarly, thousands of text messages have reportedly been sent to local police and military members. This risk is not unique to Ukraine, and U.S. leaders must take steps now to harden the United States and protect its service members against similar tactics.
It is the new normal for military service members and veterans to be considered high value targets in the information war. Russian disinformation efforts have already targeted Americans with tactics like creating fake accounts for individual veterans and veteran service organizations such as Vietnam Veterans of America on social media. But the threat is not limited to social media. There are significant risks to military operations due to data collected for targeted advertising. This data can be used to deliver misinformation and disinformation, and can even amplify propaganda if bad actors purchase or access the data and weaponize it.
Name, service identifier and address may be covered as personally identifiable information (PII) under some laws, potentially mitigating this problem. But it is easy to identify people with simple information from their cell phones, whether that comes from ad identifiers or the phone number itself. Ad identifiers can be aggregated with other tracking information by numerous entities, from online advertisers to data brokers, to reveal patterns of daily life such as where someone lives and their political preferences. If this were only about selling sneakers, it would be less of a risk. But when this data becomes a vector to target and harass individuals, it is a national security concern. The implications are severe when directed at the military. And this is not hypothetical — service members have already been targeted and face digital privacy concerns. For example, one service member was falsely identified as patient zero at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, which led to a torrent of attacks online against her. And the threat expands when companies like ID.me, which sell targeted advertising, gathers lists of service members and veterans. Service members usually show their identification card for military discounts, but now some companies require enrollment through ID.me instead of showing a physical ID. Controversies around the accuracy of ID.me data and issues with facial recognition already led one federal agency to withdraw its requirement to use it to access government services. Linking biometric data and even publicly available information with service data creates a target of opportunity for malign actors looking to identify and target service members and their families. Service members are waking up to this threat, even if the services remain hesitant to address it. Service members increasingly use apps like Signal for texting about work even though this is a violation of Department of Defense (DoD) policy. But using commercially available apps means trusting the app developer, which brings its own risks to operational security as the tracking of Russia’s military activities in Ukraine demonstrates. DoD’s response that personnel should be using an approved method misses the fact that most service members do not have access to government-issued devices.
To move toward increased security and privacy, three steps must be taken. Congress should either act on federal data security and privacy legislation that specifically protects service member data or pass stand-alone legislation. Data privacy legislation has been on hold for years, but the conflict in Ukraine demonstrates that protecting individuals becomes a national security issue when full-scale hostilities begin. Legislation should at least govern how civilian companies collect and sell information on service members and their immediate families. This could be a foundation for uniform data privacy and security measures for all Americans.
Ultimately, the DoD must embrace privacy as a national security priority. New technology should be developed so purely civilian products are not needed to cover DoD gaps. Something simple like an approved secure messaging app that can be used on personally owned devices without significant hassle would help. The DoD needs to ensure that there are no service members left without access to necessary systems, which could leave them unprotected, and should improve product usability to avoid less secure commercial alternatives from being used. The military overall needs to take a more expansive view of privacy beyond PII, which despite monotonous training requirements, frequently isn’t that well protected.
The United States should act now to better protect our service members and their families, veterans and national security overall. As the tragic situation in Ukraine demonstrates, the threats present in the information warfare space will only expand. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Apr 22. Ukraine deploys counter drone jamming guns to its forces on the Donbas frontline. According to press reports, Ukrainian forces in the Donbas war zone have begun fielding anti-drone jamming guns bought from NT Service, a Lithuania-based company.
An article published by Defense Express says the first public video showing Ukrainian soldiers on the Donbas frontline using the rifle-type ЕDМ4S-UА anti-drone jammer was released by TSN in a weekly news program televised on 3 October 2021.
Defense Express says in 2020 the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) contracted the Lithuanian company to supply 37x ЕDМ4S-UА tactical drone jammer guns. The Lithuanian-supplied drone jammer gun was seen being used by Ukrainian forces on the line of contact with occupying Russian troops in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region for the first time in 2021. The TSN news report showed a video of RIFF-P, an anti-drone jamming gun developed by the private InterProInvest company.
For more information visit: www.en.defence.ua.com
18 Apr 22. Global Export Controls Coalition Member Countries Update Sanctions on Russia. The following member countries of the Global Export Controls Coalition have imposed additional sanctions on Russia:
• Australia: Autonomous Sanctions (Designated Persons and Entities and Declared Persons—Russia and Ukraine) Amendment (No. 12) Instrument 2022
• European Union: The European Council introduced humanitarian exceptions1 in two sanctions regimes concerning the situation in Ukraine: restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (“Ukraine territorial integrity regime”), and restrictive measures in response to the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine and the ordering of Russian armed forces into those areas (“Donetsk and Luhansk regime”).
• United Kingdom: Notice to Exporters 2022/14 – The new measures in The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2022 include oil refining goods and technology, quantum computing, and advanced materials goods and technology. They are now prohibited for export, supply or transfer to, or for use in, Russia or to a person connected with Russia, along with the provision of related technical assistance, financial services, and brokering services. The measures also include certain luxury goods which are now prohibited for export, supply, or transfer to, or for use in, Russia or to a person connected with Russia. There is also a prohibition on the import, acquisition, supply and delivery of certain iron and steel products originating in or consigned from Russia. There are some exceptions to these prohibitions, which are set out in detail in the legislation, and licences can be granted in very limited circumstances.
United Kingdom: Adds new Chapters 4B Goods and 4C Iron and Steel Products in the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 8) Regulations 2022.
United Kingdom: General Trade Licence (Russia Sanctions –Vessels) dated 08 April 2022 granted by the Secretary of State. (Source: glstrade.com)
17 Apr 22. U.S., allies plan for long-term isolation of Russia. A new strategy would mark a return to containment after years of seeking cooperation and coexistence with Moscow. Nearly two months into Vladimir Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine, the Biden administration and its European allies have begun planning for a far different world, in which they no longer try to coexist and cooperate with Russia, but actively seek to isolate and weaken it as a matter of long-term strategy.
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At NATO and the European Union, and at the State Department, the Pentagon and allied ministries, blueprints are being drawn up to enshrine new policies across virtually every aspect of the West’s posture toward Moscow, from defense and finance to trade and international diplomacy.
Outrage is most immediately directed at Putin himself, who President Biden said last month “can’t remain in power.” While “we don’t say regime change,” said a senior E.U. diplomat, “it is difficult to imagine a stable scenario with Putin acting the way he is.”
But the nascent new strategy goes far beyond the Kremlin leader, as planners are continuing to revise seminal documents that are to be presented in the coming months. Biden’s first National Security Strategy, legally required last year but still uncompleted, is likely to be significantly altered from initial expectations it would concentrate almost exclusively on China and domestic renewal. The Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, sent last month in classified form to Congress, prioritizes what a brief Pentagon summary called “the Russia challenge in Europe,” as well as the China threat.
Russia’s failures in Ukraine imbue Pentagon with newfound confidence
NATO’s first Strategic Concept document since 2010, when it sought a “true strategic partnership” with Russia, will be unveiled at the alliance summit in June. “Meaningful dialogue, as we strived for before, is not an option for Russia,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference early this month.
The European Union has drawn up plans to cut its heavy dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of this year, and end all fossil fuel imports from Russia before 2030. “It is not so much about sanctions, but it is about articulating a path to zero, making sure that we become independent of Russian gas and oil,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a forum Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“For some, that will be a trajectory of months. For others, it might be years. But the Netherlands and other countries are dead serious about this,” Hoekstra said. “Never again the same mistake.”
Allies have announced major defense budget increases stretching far into the future. Finland and Sweden are expected to apply for NATO membership ahead of the June summit in Madrid, a significant shift in the balance of European security that would also sharply increase the alliance’s military presence near Russia.
A week ago, Biden signed bills ending normal trade relations with Russia and codifying his U.S. ban on Russian oil imports. Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia’s membership from the U.N. Human Rights Council, and a long-simmering movement to revise the membership and powers of the Security Council, where Russia freely uses its veto power, gained new impetus.
Few Western leaders are willing to venture a guess as to when, and how, the Ukraine crisis will play out. Many of the proposed changes “can’t be fully decided until we know how this conflict ends,” said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, senior Pentagon official and deputy NATO secretary general. “Does it end?” Or does it drag on with an uneasy cease-fire, with “no war, no peace, for several years?”
But the long-term strategy is being drawn up even as the allies address the immediate crisis with escalating sanctions against Moscow, weapons aid to Ukraine, and the deployment of tens of thousands of their own troops to NATO’s eastern border. Many of those measures and more are now expected to stay permanently in place, according to public leader statements and conversations with eight senior U.S. and foreign officials, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door planning.
“At the end of the day, what we want to see is a free and independent Ukraine, a weakened and isolated Russia and a stronger, more unified, more determined West,” Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We believe that all three of those objectives are in sight.”
Some have questioned both the wisdom of the plans and the staying power of the West, advising against a return to the “containment” policy that governed relations with the Soviet Union. Others have said the Ukraine crisis, and its profound effect on Europe, offer an opportunity for the United States to withdraw from at least some of its expensive, self-assumed responsibilities to defend the free world.
“If anything,” historian Stephen Wertheim argued this month in Foreign Affairs magazine, “the war has strengthened the case for strategic discipline, by offering a chance to encourage Europe to balance against Russia while the United States concentrates on security in Asia and renewal at home.”
Not everyone favors the long-term isolation of Moscow. In France, where President Emmanuel Macron is locked in a surprisingly close reelection race with the surging candidacy of Marine Le Pen, she has called for reconciliation between NATO and Russia and has reiterated a pledge to pull France out of the alliance’s integrated command. And there are voices in Germany in favor of keeping the door open to dialogue with the Kremlin to facilitate an eventual rapprochement.
In the United States, the issue is one of the few in which Biden has strong bipartisan support. Backing for a tough line against Russia appears also to have subdued Republican disdain for NATO, a hallmark of the Trump administration, as alliance members from Washington to Russia’s western border insist that the need for, and the reality of, a common stand is higher than ever before.
But if the immediacy of Ukraine dissipates, along with daily images of new horrors there, disagreements inevitably will arise over increased defense spending, the need to engage with Russia on issues such as nonproliferation, charges that attention is being pulled away from China, and disruptions of trade that bring rising prices at home that disrupt the president’s domestic agenda.
“We must commit now to be in this fight for the long haul,” Biden said during a visit to Warsaw last month, outlining the fight as one between democracy and autocracy. “We must remain unified today and tomorrow and the day after and for the years and decades to come. It will not be easy. There will be costs.”
The last major overhaul of relations with Russia, guiding hopes after the collapse of the Soviet Union, came in 1997, when NATO leaders and Moscow approved the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security.” Reflecting “the changing security environment in Europe, … in which the confrontation of the Cold War has been replaced with the promise of closer cooperation among former adversaries,” it said they would act together to build “a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic Area.”
As it sought to tie Russia to interdependency, the Founding Act included specific commitments to respect states’ sovereignty, peacefully settle disputes, and, on NATO’s part, an intention to avoid any additional permanent stationing of “substantial combat forces” on Russia’s borders. It also specifically said it was not intended to “delay, limit or dilute NATO’s opening for the accession of new members.”
In subsequent years, those commitments were often tested, most recently before the current crisis by Russian’s 2014 invasion of parts of eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, and resulting Western sanctions. But even after those events, Europe and the United States eased back into a relationship with Russia, either out of economic imperatives, as with Europe’s energy imports, or out of desire, as when former president Donald Trump bragged about his deep bond with Putin.
But at an emergency NATO summit last month, “leaders agreed to reset our deterrence and defense for the long term,” Stoltenberg said. “To face a new security reality” with substantially more forces in the east, more jets in the skies and more ships at sea. Russia has “walked away” from the Founding Act, he said later. “That doesn’t exist any more.”
A senior European official said that “the one lesson we take away from a Russian aggression that many thought could not be possible, is that here is a country that is ready to do something that no security guarantee or even plausible expectation [can ensure] that it can’t happen again.”
“We thought interdependence, connectiveness, would be conducive to stability because we had correlating interests. Now, we’ve seen this is not the case. Russia was highly connected with Europe, a globalized country.” the official said. “Interdependence, we’ve now seen, can entail severe risks, if a country is ruthless enough. … We have to adapt to a situation that is absolutely new.”
Several European policymakers said their current calculations are shaped by two major factors. The first is the expectation that any truce in Ukraine is likely to be temporary. Even if Putin agrees to lay down arms for the moment, many Europeans believe he will seek to regroup, rebuild the Russian military and attack again once he feels ready.
The second is a deep horror at the Russian military’s atrocities against civilians that have come to light since its forces pulled back toward eastern Ukraine in the past two weeks. Many believe Putin himself may need to face war crimes charges in front of international tribunals.
The combination means many Europeans feel their continent will be unstable and insecure so long as Putin is in the Kremlin. And if they are not yet willing to embrace an active effort to oust his regime, support is growing there, as well as in the United States, to permanently cut off his country.
“There is growing realization that this is a long-term situation and that a strategy of containment, a strategy of defense, is forming,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said in an interview. “Support Ukraine as much as you can, sanction Russia as much as you can, do as much as you can do to reduce dependence on Russia however you can and finally, yes, put more emphasis on military defense.”
Rinkevics was among the E.U. foreign ministers who had breakfast in Luxembourg this week with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to discuss war crimes.
“When it comes to the investigation of all the war crimes, it cannot stop at the field commander, and in Russia, the ultimate commander in chief is the president of the Russian Federation,” Rinkevics said. “The feeling after Bucha,” the Kyiv suburb where withdrawing Russian troops left scores of dead civilians in the streets, some apparently tortured and executed, “is that it will be very difficult to speak with Putin or anyone in the Russian government without remembering what happened.”
Apparently strong backing for the war among Russians has also caused a recalculation among allied policymakers about a long-standing effort to draw a distinction between the country’s population and its leadership, said Lithuanian Vice Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius. Russians appear to have the leaders they want, he said — another reason to dig in and prepare for a long standoff.
“There is collective responsibility,” Abukevicius said. “At the beginning, we were saying ‘Putin’s war.’ Now, we are more and more saying ‘Russia’s war.’” (Source: glstrade.com/ The Washington Post)
18 Apr 22. Explosions rock Ukraine, bodies line streets of Mariupol.
- Shelling is ‘deliberate terror’, says Ukraine’s president
- Russia tells Ukrainian fighters in steelworks to lay down arms
- Bombardments continue elsewhere around Ukraine
- Pope decries ‘cruel and senseless’ conflict
Ukrainian authorities said missiles struck Lviv early on Monday and explosions rocked other cities as Russian forces kept up their bombardments after claiming near full control of the strategic southern port of Mariupol.
Driven back by Ukrainian resistance in the north, the Russian military has refocused its ground offensive on Donbas, while launching long-distance strikes at targets elsewhere, including the capital, Kyiv.
Lviv mayor Andriy Sadoviy said five missile strikes had hit the western city early on Monday. It was unclear if there were any casualties there.
In Kyiv, a Reuters reporter heard a series of blasts near the Dnipro river. Local authorities were yet to provide any official information on their cause.
According to media outlet Suspilne, two people were wounded in attacks in the southern region of Dnipropetrovsk.
Eighteen people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in shelling in the past four days in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.
“This is nothing but deliberate terror: mortars, artillery against ordinary residential quarters, against ordinary civilians,” he said late on Sunday.
Russia denies targeting civilians and has rejected what Ukraine says is evidence of atrocities as staged to undermine peace talks. It calls its action, launched almost two months ago, a special military operation to demilitarise Ukraine and eradicate what it calls dangerous nationalists.
The West and Kyiv accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of unprovoked aggression.
BATTLE FOR MARIUPOL
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said troops in the pulverised port of Mariupol were still fighting on Sunday, despite a Russian demand to surrender.
“The city still has not fallen,” he told ABC’s “This Week” programme, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continued to control some parts of the southeastern city.
On Saturday, Russia said it had control of urban areas, with some Ukrainian fighters remaining in the Azovstal steelworks overlooking the Sea of Azov.
Capturing Mariupol would be a strategic prize for Russia, linking territory held by pro-Russian separatists in the east with the Crimea region Moscow annexed in 2014.
On the eve of the war, it was the biggest city still held by Ukrainian authorities in the two eastern provinces known as the Donbas, which Moscow has demanded Ukraine cede to pro-Russian separatists.
It would unite Russian forces on two of the main axes of the invasion, and free them up to join an expected new offensive against the main Ukrainian force in the east.
On the streets of Mariupol, small groups of bodies were lined up under colourful blankets, surrounded by shredded trees and scorched buildings.
Residents, some pushing bicycles, picked their way around destroyed tanks and civilian vehicles while Russian soldiers checked the documents of motorists.
One resident, Irina, was evacuating with a niece wounded in the shelling.
“I have a daughter in DNR,” she said, referring to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. “Maybe we will try to move there for the time being.
“I hope they will re-build (Mariupol). The most important thing is utility systems. Summer will pass fast and in winter it will be hard.”
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, reported street fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops had begun and he repeated a plea for people to evacuate.
“The next week will be difficult,” he said in an earlier post on his Facebook page. “It may be the last time we have a chance to save you.”
‘EASTER OF WAR’
About four million Ukrainians have fled the country, cities have been shattered and thousands have died since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24.
The economic damage is significant. Shmyhal said Ukraine’s budget deficit was about $5 billion a month and urged Western governments for more financial aid.
On Twitter, Zelenskiy said he had discussed ensuring Ukraine’s financial stability and preparations for post-war reconstruction with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, quoting her as having said support was essential to lay the foundations for rebuilding. read more
Ukraine pressed on with efforts to swiftly join the European Union, as officials completed a questionnaire that is a starting point for the EU to decide on its membership. read more On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis implicitly criticised Russia, pleading for an end to the bloodshed and lamenting the “Easter of war” in a speech in St Peter’s Square after Mass.
“May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
18 Apr 22. Ukraine completes questionnaire for EU membership. Ukraine has completed a questionnaire which will form a starting point for the European Union to decide on membership for Kyiv, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed the questionnaire to Zelenskiy during her visit to Kyiv on April 8th, pledging a speedier start to Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the EU following Russia’s invasion of the country. read more
“Today, I can say that the document has been completed by the Ukrainian side,” Zhovkva told the Ukrainian public broadcaster Sunday evening.
The European Commission will need to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s compliance with the necessary membership criteria, he added.
“We expect the recommendation … to be positive, and then the ball will be on the side of the EU member states.”
Zhovkva added that Ukraine expects to acquire the status of a candidate country for EU accession in June during a scheduled meeting of the European Council meeting.
The European Council is to meet June 23-24th, according to the Council’s schedule on its website.
“Next, we will need to start accession talks. And once we hold those talks, we can already talk about Ukraine’s full membership in the EU,” Zhovkva said. (Source: Reuters)
18 Apr 22. Zelensky says Ukraine won’t give up territory in the east to end war with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine is not willing to give up territory in the eastern part of the country to end the war with Russia, and Ukraine’s military is prepared to fight Moscow’s military in the Donbas region in a battle he says could influence the course of the entire war.
Zelensky said in an exclusive interview Friday with CNN’s Jake Tapper from the office of the president in Kyiv that his country has no guarantee that Russia wouldn’t try again to seize Kyiv if it is able to capture Donbas.
“This is why it is very important for us to not allow them, to stand our ground, because this battle … it can influence the course of the whole war,” Zelensky said.
Exclusive: Zelensky says world should be prepared for possibility Putin could use nuclear weapons
“Because I don’t trust the Russian military and Russian leadership,” he continued. “That is why we understand that the fact that we fought them off and they left, and they were running away from Kyiv — from the north, from Chernihiv and from that direction — it doesn’t mean if they are able to capture Donbas, they won’t come further towards Kyiv.”
Zelensky’s interview with CNN Friday, more than seven weeks into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine, comes as Ukraine’s military has seen successes resisting Russia’s offensive that have come as a surprise to US intelligence — and a Kremlin that had planned for a quick and decisive victory.
Asked by Tapper if Ukraine would be victorious in the conflict, Zelensky said, “Yes, of course, and will.”
At the same time, however, Ukraine has suffered horrific civilian casualties across the country amid the fighting. Zelensky told CNN that the world should be prepared for the possibility that Putin would use a tactical nuclear weapon because he does not value Ukrainian lives. Zelensky spoke in both Ukrainian and English about the horrors his country has witnessed and the urgent help his military still needs to be equipped to fend off the coming Russian offensive in the east and southern parts of Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden said last week that the civilian killings being committed by Russian forces appeared to be genocide.
“I have the same opinion as President Biden,” Zelensky said. “Look what happened in Bucha. It’s clear that is not even a war, it’s a genocide. They just killed people. Not soldiers, people. They just shot people in the streets. People were riding bicycles, taking the bus or just walking down the street. There were corpses lining the streets.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has engaged Putin diplomatically, said in response to Biden’s comments on genocide that he didn’t think it was constructive to raise the rhetoric. Zelensky said he spoke to Macron this past week and wants him to visit Ukraine to see the atrocities firsthand.
“I think he wants to take some steps to ensure that Russia engages in dialogue. I just told him that I want him to understand that this is not war, but nothing other than genocide,” Zelensky said. “I invited him to come when he will have the opportunity. He’ll come and see, and I am sure he will understand.”
Zelensky said he also wants Biden to come to Ukraine. The US President suggested last week that he wanted to go, though he said US officials are still “in discussions” on whether a high-level US official will visit Ukraine.
“I think he will,” Zelensky said of Biden when asked if there were any plans for the US President to visit. “I mean, his decision, of course. And as well, the safety situation depends — I mean that — but I think he’s the leader of the United States, and that’s why he should come here to see.”
Asked about a video released last week showing a Ukrainian woman finding the body of her son in a well, Zelensky said, “This is the most horrifying thing I have seen in my life.”
He grew emotional talking about the death that the war has caused in Ukraine, saying it is “a great pain for me” to see the lives lost. Zelensky, who lost family in the Holocaust, was asked what he thought about politicians around the world saying “never again” on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, given what’s happening in his country.
“I don’t believe the world,” he said, speaking in English. “We don’t believe the words. After the escalation of Russia, we don’t believe our neighbors. We don’t believe all of this.”
“The only belief there is belief in ourselves, in our people, belief in our Armed Forces, and the belief that countries are going to support us not just with their words but with their actions,” Zelensky continued in Ukrainian. “And that’s it. Never again. Really, everybody is talking about this and yet, as you can see, not everyone has got the guts.”
More help needed
Zelensky said the $800m in additional funding Biden approved last week to go to Ukraine for new and more advanced weapons was helpful — but more was still needed.
“Of course, we need more. But I am happy that he is helping us now,” Zelensky said. “I feel that right now we are having a cleaner dialogue. It’s been a dialogue that’s had some twists and turns. And not just talk. It’s been very, very difficult because there aren’t many countries that have really helped us.”
Zelensky said the most important factor was speed to get the weapons needed into the hands of Ukrainian forces. He dismissed some concerns the US and other countries have raised that Ukraine’s soldiers are not trained to use some of the weapons the country is asking for.
“There are people that are offering solutions, but it seems they are just self-serving. So it’s precisely not up to us,” Zelensky said. “We are prepared to use any type of equipment, but it needs to be delivered very quickly. And we have the ability to learn how to use new equipment. But it needs to come fast.”
Zelensky said that he’s prepared to engage with Russia diplomatically to try to end the war but that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainians make it harder to do.
“As I said before, what’s the price of all this? It’s people. The many people who have been killed. And who ends up paying for all of this? It’s Ukraine. Just us,” Zelensky said. “So for us, this is a really great cost. If there is an opportunity to speak, we’ll speak. But to speak only under a Russian ultimatum? It’s then a question about attitude towards us, not about whether the dialogue is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It’s impossible.”
Acknowledging that he still has a target on his back from the Kremlin as the war rages on, Zelensky was asked how he would want to be remembered.
“A human being that loved life to the fullest,” he responded. “And loved his family and loved his motherland. Definitely not a hero. I want people to take me as I am. A regular human.” (Source: CNN)
16 Apr 22. Lithuania’s president urges Sweden and Finland to join Nato. Gitanas Nauseda says admitting the Nordic nations would improve security situation in Baltic region Lithuania’s president Gitanas Nauseda said Sweden and Finland should not react to Russia’s ‘aggressive rhetoric.’ Finland and Sweden joining Nato would boost the security of the Baltic states and reinforce the western military alliance, said Lithuania’s president, urging the two Nordic countries not to waste time in applying. Gitanas Nauseda brushed aside Russian threats to increase its military presence in the Baltics and deploy nuclear weapons there if the pair agreed to sign up to the alliance. He said Moscow had kept such weapons in its Kaliningrad exclave for many years and that Finland and Sweden were only responding to Russian aggression. “Sweden and Finland joining Nato would improve the security situation in the Baltic region. We will be able to better supervise and control the Baltic region from the military point of view. But this will also strengthen Nato as an organisation,” Nauseda told the Financial Times. Both countries are EU members but stayed out of Nato, believing relations with Russia were better served by remaining outside the alliance. But in a sharp reversal, Finland is set to apply for Nato membership in the coming weeks while Sweden is considering whether to follow suit, as both assess how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, another non-Nato member. Public opinion in the two Nordic countries has swung rapidly in favour of joining the alliance, pushing politicians in both Helsinki and Stockholm to take quick decisions even amid warnings of possible escalation. Russia, which had previously warned of “serious military and political consequences” if either joined Nato, this week said it would be forced to strengthen its borders with the alliance, which would more than double in length if Finland joined. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president, also warned that nuclear weapons would be moved to the Baltics, although Lithuanian officials first warned in 2018 that they were in Kaliningrad. (Source: FT.com)
16 Apr 22. Ukrainian president says up to 3,000 troops killed so far; new explosions hit cities.
- Explosions hit Kyiv in north, Lviv in west
- Zelenskiy says 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian troops killed
- Around 20,000 Russian troops killed, he says
- Ukraine says street fighting ongoing in Mariupol
- Russia’s Moskva – largest ship sunk in war in 40 years
Explosions were heard in Kyiv and the western city of Lviv early on Saturday and the mayor of the Ukrainian capital said rescuers and medics were working at the site of a blast on the outskirts of the city.
There were no immediate details of casualties or damage.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said about 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in seven weeks of war with Russia and about 10,000 injured, but there was no count of civilian casualties.
He told CNN on Friday 19,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the war. Moscow said last month that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded.
Reuters could not independently verify either side’s numbers.
Russia pledged on Friday to launch more strikes on Kyiv and said it had used cruise missiles to the Vizar factory on the edge of Kyiv, which it said made and repaired missiles, including anti-ship missiles.
The attack followed Thursday’s sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet.
Ukraine said one of its missiles had caused the Moskva to sink, a powerful symbol of its resistance to a better-armed foe. Moscow said the ship sank while being towed in stormy seas after a fire caused by an explosion of ammunition and that more than 500 sailors were evacuated.
The United States believes the Moskva was hit by two Ukrainian missiles and that there were Russian casualties, although numbers were unclear, a senior U.S. official said.
None of the assessments could be independently verified.
Ukraine’s military said on Saturday the presence of Russian warships in the Black Sea, armed with sea-launched missiles, suggests that an increased possibility that Russia would use them to strike Ukraine’s defence industry and logistics infrastructure.
It said also that Russia’s navy was active in the Sea of Azov to block the port of Mariupol, where ground fighting has intensified as Ukraine said it was trying to break Russia’s siege.
Home to 400,000 people before Russia’s invasion, Mariupol has been reduced to rubble. Thousands of civilians have died and tens of thousands remain trapped. read more
“The situation in Mariupol is difficult and hard. Fighting is happening right now. The Russian army is constantly calling on additional units to storm the city,” defence ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a briefing. He said the Russians have not completely captured it.
Zelenskiy said the military situation in the south and east was “still very difficult,” while praising the work of his armed forces.
“The successes of our military on the battlefield are really significant, historically significant. But they are still not enough to clean our land of the occupiers. We will beat them some more,” he said in a late-night video address, calling again for allies to send heavier weapons and for an international embargo on Russian oil.
Zelenskiy has appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden for the United States to designate Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism,” joining North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with their conversation.
A White House spokesperson responded by saying, “We will continue to consider all options to increase the pressure on Putin.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and top finance officials will attend International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington next week, sources told Reuters.
It will be the first chance for key Ukrainian officials to meet in person with financial officials from advanced economies since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. (Source: Reuters)
HOLDING OUT IN MARIUPOL
If Moscow captures Mariupol, it would be the first big city to fall.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had captured the city’s Illich steel works. The report could not be confirmed. Ukrainian defenders are mainly believed to be holding out in Azovstal, another huge steel works. read more
Both plants are owned by Metinvest, the empire of Ukraine’s richest businessman and backbone of Ukraine’s industrial east – which told Reuters on Friday it would never let its enterprises operate under Russian occupation.
Moscow has used its naval power to blockade Ukrainian ports and threaten a potential amphibious landing along the coast. Without the Moskva, the largest warship sunk during conflict since Argentina’s General Belgrano in the 1982 Falklands war, its ability to menace Ukraine from the sea could be crippled.
Russia initially described its aims in Ukraine as “a special military operation” to disarm its neighbour and defeat nationalists there.
After its invasion force was driven from the outskirts of Kyiv this month, Moscow has said its main war aim is to capture the Donbas, the eastern region partly held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Kyiv and its Western allies say those are bogus justifications for an unprovoked war of aggression that has driven a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes and led to the deaths of thousands. (Source: Reuters)
15 Apr 22. Romania suspends military MIG-21 flights, to speed up F-16 purchase. NATO member Romania has grounded its remaining fleet of military MiG 21 LanceR jets as of Friday given their “considerably high accident rate”, and will speed up a planned purchase of second-hand F-16s from Norway, the defence ministry said.
The move was unrelated to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which shares a 650-kilometre (400 mile) border with Romania.
Romania will continue to fly its small fleet of F-16 fighter jets acquired from Portugal, the ministry said, while allied states also have jets deployed to the country for enhanced air policing missions as part of NATO efforts to boost its eastern flank, especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Romania bought its first F-16 jets from Portugal in 2016 as it works to phase out its communist-era MiGs. The ministry said it would speed up the process to buy an additional 32 F-16 jets from Norway, which will give it an additional two air squadrons.
“The available resources of the aircrafts from the three squadrons ensure … their operation for a minimum of 10 years and will form an air capability of transition to fifth-generation F-35 jets,” the ministry said.
The last accident involving a MiG 21 took place in early March when a jet on air patrol crashed, killing the pilot. Seven soldiers sent to find him on a search-and-rescue helicopter mission also died in a separate crash. read more
Romania, a NATO member since 2004, plans to raise defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product next year from 2% at present, President Klaus Iohannis said in March.
The country currently hosts over 3,000 NATO troops and will have a permanent alliance battlegroup stationed on its territory.
More than 714,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed the border into Romania since Russia began what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24. (Source: Reuters)
16 Apr 22. British SAS troops ‘on the ground in Ukraine training soldiers.’
Special forces are in Kyiv showing Ukrainians how to use anti-tank missiles, it has been claimed
British SAS troops are on the ground in Kyiv training Ukrainian soldiers how to use anti-tank missiles, it has been claimed.
Officers from two battalions said that British special forces had visited them within the last two weeks for a critical crash course in handling the powerful weapons, which had been supplied by the UK.
Previously, the soldiers had been learning how to use them by watching YouTube videos.
Britain first sent military trainers to Ukraine after the invasion of Crimea in 2014, but said that it had pulled its forces out of the country in February in order to avoid the possibility of a direct conflict with Russia and Nato being dragged into the war.
However, Captain Yuriy Myronenko, whose battalion is stationed in Obolon on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, told The Times that training had resumed and that it was essential for new recruits and returning veterans who had no experience with anti-tank missiles.
“We have received huge military help from Britain,” he said. “But the people who knew how to use NLAWs were in other places, so we had to go on YouTube to teach ourselves. You can learn in seven minutes, five to seven minutes.
“After that we had good training. British officers were here two weeks ago in our unit and they trained us really good. And because we have had successes, we have self-confidence now.”
The claims were echoed by a Ukrainian special forces commander, who told the paper that the 112th battalion to which his unit was attached had undergone training last week.
“They were good guys, the Brits,” another commander, nicknamed “Bear”, said. “They have invited us to visit them when the war is over”.
Dozens of British army veterans have travelled to Ukraine to fight, but the commanders insisted these were serving British special forces soldiers who were there for training.
The Ministry of Defence refused to confirm the Ukrainian commanders’ accounts, citing a longstanding convention not to comment on special operations.
On March 1, Boris Johnson said there were no circumstances in which Nato should directly get involved in fighting in Ukraine.
“It’s very, very important to understand that Nato is a defensive alliance. This is a time when miscalculation and misunderstanding is all too possible.”
But this latest move is likely to agitate Russia.
On Friday, it emerged that Moscow had sent a formal letter to the US warning that shipments of sensitive weapons from the United States and Nato were exacerbating tensions in Ukraine and could lead to “unpredictable consequences”.
The diplomatic démarche, a copy of which was reviewed by The Washington Post, said that the US was “adding fuel” to the conflict with its latest $800m military aid package.
Britain has sent £450 million in weaponry and £400m of economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine since the conflict began.
This includes 10,000 missiles, with NLAW anti-tank weapons, Starstreak anti-air missile systems and Javelin missiles all arriving in the country.
Britain has also sent body armour, helmets and combat boots. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
15 Apr 22. Russia’s ministry of defence threatened to increase the scale of missile strikes against the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, a day after the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet. Igor Konashenkov, the ministry’s spokesman, said on Friday that Russia would intensify its attacks on targets in Kyiv in response to any further attempts by Ukrainian forces to carry out “sabotage” on Russian soil. The threat came a day after Russia admitted it had lost the Moskva missile cruiser — arguably the biggest setback of its sputtering 50-day campaign — as it prepares for a renewed offensive in southeastern Ukraine. Russia said on Thursday that the ship sank in a storm after a fire onboard set off its ammunition stores. Ukraine said it caused the ship to sink after hitting the Moskva with one of its cruise missiles. US defence officials said they were unable to confirm what had happened. (Source: FT.com)
14 Apr 22. Czech howitzer firing at Russian positions in Ukraine. A howitzer artillery cannon supplied by the Czech Republic has been seen in action in Ukraine for first time.
A 77 Dana 152mm self-propelled howitzer was recorded firing a round toward Russian positions yesterday.
The weapon is mounted to a wheeled vehicle, rather than a tracked vehicle, giving it greater mobility and making it cheaper to build and maintain.
After being positioned to fire, it lowers three hydraulic stabilizers into the ground and uses a roof-mounted crane load ammunition loading.
The Czech Republic became the first Nato member to supply Ukraine with tanks earlier this month. It later emerged that the former Soviet satellite state has been supplying heavier weapons for weeks.
Its shipments of multiple rocket launcher systems, infantry-fighting vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles and howitzer artillery are said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Details of the deliveries emerged as Ukraine began asking western and European allies for bigger guns and better combat equipment, such as tanks and aircraft, to push Russians out of occupied regions in the east.
The Czech Republic has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters since the Russian invasion and has spare equipment in storage that its forces are familiar with.
Its defence industry is also focused on upgrading and maintaining the Soviet-era weapons, which are exactly what Ukraine has requested.
Defence sources confirmed to Reuters that a shipment of five T-72 tanks and five BVP-1, or BMP-1, infantry fighting vehicles was made last week.
“For several weeks, we have been supplying heavy ground equipment — I am saying it generally but by definition it is clear that this includes tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, howitzers and multiple rocket launchers,” a senior defence official told the news organisation.
The United States announced yesterday that it will also start giving Ukraine much more powerful weapons.
A new $800m defence package includes 18 155 mm howitzers with 40,000 artillery rounds; counter-artillery and Sentinel air surveillance radar systems. Also being provided are 100 armoured Humvee vehicles, 200 M113 armoured personnel carriers, and 11 Mi-17 helicopters. “The helicopters will augment the five Mi-17 helicopters sent to Ukraine earlier this year,” the US Department of Defence said.
Additional Switchblade drones, Javelin missiles, medical equipment, body armour and helmets, optics and laser rangefinders, and claymore mines are also included.
“Some of [these capabilities] are reinforcing capabilities that we have already been providing Ukraine and some of them are new capabilities,” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said. “All of them are designed to help Ukraine … in the fight that they are in right now.”
American troops will also be deployed to train small groups of Ukrainians outside the country, to teach them how to use howitzers and other equipment.
“We’re still working our way through what that’s going to look like — where, when, how many,” said Kirby. “It’s more likely than not that what we would do, because they are in an active fight, is a ‘train-the-trainers’ programme. So, pull a small number of Ukrainian forces out so that they can get trained on these systems and then send them back in.” (Source: The Times)
14 Apr 22. NATO Member Buys Teal Golden Eagle Drones for Deployment in Ukraine. Red Cat Holdings, Inc. announced that its subsidiary Teal Drones has secured an order for 15 Golden Eagle drone units, plus spares and training, from a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) member country that has committed them to deployment in the Ukraine.
“Drones in the category of the Golden Eagle can be among the most impactful technologies during a war, and there is significant need for drones in Ukraine to be used for reconnaissance purposes. We are now seeing small drones like the Golden Eagle helping to define the outcomes of wars such as what we’re experiencing now,” commented George Matus, founder and CEO of Teal. “Teal is one of the only drone companies in the world able to provide these types of drones at scale, utilizing our own proprietary technology, manufacturing and resources, despite the supply chain issues that have plagued the industry at large.”
“Red Cat Holdings stands by Ukraine, and we will continue to support its needs to the greatest extent possible using Teal’s Golden Eagle platform,” added Jeff Thompson, Red Cat’s CEO. “Since the war in Ukraine began, we have seen strong interest in the Teal drone platform from numerous European countries. Defense budgets within Europe have risen seemingly overnight due to the need to support this current invasion, as well as the desire to be prepared for future geopolitical conflicts. Many countries and military units are recognizing the strategic benefit of having an adequate baseline inventory of drone units that can be invaluable in reconnaissance and surveillance on the front lines. We believe this is the first of many relationships and purchases in the region.”
(Source: UAS VISION)
14 Apr 22. Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance for Ukraine. The United States has committed more than $3.2bn in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $2.6bn since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked assault on February 24.
On April 13, the Department of Defense outlined the seventh drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2002; this seventh drawdown, valued at up to an additional $800 million, is tailored to meet urgent Ukrainian needs for today’s fight as Russian forces shift the focus of their ruthless aggression to eastern Ukraine.
In addition to the U.S.-produced short-range air defense systems the Ukrainians have been using to great effect, the United States has also identified and is helping the Ukrainians acquire additional, longer-range systems on which Ukraine’s forces are already trained, as well as additional munitions for those systems.
The United States continues to expedite the authorization and facilitation of additional assistance to Ukraine from our Allies. At least 30 countries have provided security assistance to Ukraine since this Russian invasion began. In 2022, the Department of State authorized third-party transfers of defensive equipment from more than 14 countries, a number that continues to grow as Allies and Partners increase support to Ukraine.
As of April 14, United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes:
- Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
- Over 5,500 Javelin anti-armor systems;
- Over 14,000 other anti-armor systems;
- Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- 18 155mm Howitzers and 40,000 155mm artillery rounds;
- 16 Mi-17 helicopters;
- Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles;
- 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers;
- Over 7,000 small arms;
- Over 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition;
- 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
- Laser-guided rocket systems;
- Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
- 14 counter-artillery radars;
- Four counter-mortar radars;
- Two air surveillance radars;
- M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
- C-4 explosives and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
- Tactical secure communications systems;
- Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders;
- Commercial satellite imagery services;
- Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear;
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
Medical supplies to include first aid kits. (Source: US DoD)
14 Apr 22. DOD: Security Assistance Support to Ukraine Not Affecting U.S. Readiness.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 24, the U.S. government has provided $2.6bn in security assistance to the Ukrainians to help them regain and defend their sovereignty. Much of what has been sent has come straight out of U.S. military stockpiles. Nevertheless, the U.S. military’s own readiness has not been affected by having sent that gear overseas, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby during a briefing today.
“I can assure you that we are not at the point where our inventories of these systems have … or will imminently affect our readiness,” Kirby said. “We’re comfortable that our stocks are in keeping with our readiness needs. But we obviously know that, as these packages go on, and as the need continues inside Ukraine, we want to lead turn. … We want to be ahead of the bow wave on that and not get to a point where it becomes a readiness issue.”
Yesterday, the Defense Department announced an additional $800 million security assistance “drawdown” package to support Ukraine. A drawdown package allows the president, in certain circumstances, to withdraw existing weapons, ammunitions and material from U.S. military stocks to provide to other nations.
The support package announced yesterday is the seventh security assistance drawdown package that has been sent to Ukraine.
During a briefing yesterday, Kirby said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks met with leaders of U.S. defense contractors to discuss production of the very kinds of systems, equipment and weapons the U.S. is sending to Ukraine.
“We wanted to make sure that we had a good, honest, candid discussion with these CEOs about the systems that they’re producing; about the rate at which they’re being produced; about the possibility for accelerating some of those production lines and expanding them based on the heavy draw on our inventory to support Ukraine,” Kirby said.
While Kirby said the focus of Wednesday’s meeting with defense contractor leadership was heavily focused on their ability to produce the very kinds of things that are being sent over to Ukraine, he also said the meeting was part of a regularly occurring series. For instance, there was a similar meeting focused on hypersonic technologies held several months ago.
At yesterday’s meeting, Kirby said, defense contractors such as Boeing, L3-Harris, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Huntington-Ingalls, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were all represented.
“It was a good discussion,” Kirby said. “We were very grateful … for their willingness to come on in and have this discussion.”
So far, Kirby said, the Defense Department has not seen any efforts by Russia to interdict the security assistance being sent to Ukraine, but the U.S. remains cautious about its ability to provide the Ukrainians with what they need.
“We don’t take … any movement of weapons and systems going into Ukraine for granted,” he said. “That’s why we’re very careful about how much information we put out there about it. That’s why … we are careful to modulate that activity on any given day. We’re not taking it for granted.”
The Ukrainians are not taking the provided weapons and systems for granted, and they are moving the supplies inside their country, said Kirby.
According to a Defense Department fact sheet published today, as of April 14, the U.S. has provided or committed to provide Ukraine, more than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; 5,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; 700 Switchblade tactical unmanned aerial systems; 7,000 small arms; 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition; and 18 155mm Howitzers with 40,000 155mm artillery rounds; 16 Mi-17 helicopters; hundreds of armored Humvee vehicles and 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers. (Source: US DoD)
15 Apr 22. Powerful explosions heard in Kyiv after Russian warship sinks. Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv on Friday and fighting raged in the east after Ukraine claimed responsibility for the sinking of the Russian navy’s Black Sea flagship in what would be one of the heaviest blows of the war.
The explosions appeared to be among the most significant in Ukraine’s capital region since Russian troops pulled back from the area earlier this month in preparation for battles in the south and east.
Ukraine said it hit the Moskva missile cruiser with a Neptune anti-ship missile. The Soviet-era ship sank on Thursday as it was being towed to port following a fire and explosions, Russia’s defence ministry said.
Over 500 crew were evacuated, the ministry said, without acknowledging an attack.
The ship’s loss comes as Russia’s navy continues its bombardment of Ukrainian cities on the Black Sea nearly 50 days after it invaded the country to root out what it calls far-right nationalists.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy paid homage to all “those who halted the progress of the endless convoys of Russian military equipment … Those who showed that Russian ships can go … down to the bottom.”
There were no immediate reports of damage following the explosions reported in Kyiv, Kherson in the south, the eastern city of Kharkiv and the town of Ivano-Frankivsk in the west.
Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian attacks on the towns of Popasna and Rubizhne, both north of the port city of Mariupol, had been repulsed and a number of tanks and other armoured vehicles had been destroyed. Reuters was not able to verify the reports.
Whatever the cause of the Moskva’s loss, it is a setback for Russia and a major boost for Ukraine’s defenders. read more
Russia’s navy has fired cruise missiles into Ukraine and its Black Sea activities are crucial to supporting land operations in the south and east, where it is battling to seize full control of Mariupol.
The United States said it did not have enough information to determine whether the Moskva was hit by a missile.
“(But) certainly, the way this unfolded, it’s a big blow to Russia,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.
Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24, in part to dissuade Kyiv and other former Eastern Bloc countries from joining NATO.
But in more setbacks for Moscow, Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, and nearby Sweden are now considering joining the U.S.-led military alliance. read more
Moscow warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland join, Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a Russian enclave in the heart of Europe. read more
CIA Director William Burns said the threat of Russia potentially using nuclear weapons in Ukraine could not be taken lightly, but the agency had not seen much evidence reinforcing that concern. read more
BATTLE FOR MARIUPOL
Kyiv and its allies say Russia has launched an unprovoked war that has seen more than 4.6 million people flee abroad and killed or wounded thousands.
Russia said on Wednesday that more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines from one of the units still holding out in Mariupol had surrendered. Ukrainian officials did not comment.
If taken, Mariupol would be the first major city to fall to Russian forces since they invaded, allowing Moscow to reinforce a land corridor between separatist-held eastern Donbas areas and the Crimea region it seized and annexed in 2014.
Ukraine said tens of thousands of people were believed to have been killed in Mariupol, where efforts were under way to evacuate civilians.
Russia’s defence ministry said late on Thursday that 815 people had been evacuated from the city over the past 24 hours. Ukraine said that figure was 289. (Source: Reuters)
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