08 Mar 22. Breaking News! Poland offers all its MIG-29 fighter jets to US in plan to provide aircraft to Ukraine.
Poland has agreed to hand over all of its MIG-29 fighter jets to a US airbase “immediately and free of charge” as part of a plan to provide aircraft to the Ukrainians.
In a statement, Poland’s foreign ministry said: “The authorities of the Republic of Poland, after consultations between the president and the government, are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 jets to the Rammstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America.
“At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes.
“The Polish government also requests other NATO Allies – owners of MIG-29 jets – to act in the same vein.”
Security and defence analyst Michael Clarke, former director general of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told Sky News: “The main thing as far as NATO is concerned is to get some aircraft into Ukraine that they can use.
“NATO has been giving arms openly to Ukraine – this is just another type of weapon.”
He said that with Poland handing the jets to the US, it is like Poland saying to Russia “if you want an argument about this, have it with Washington, don’t have it with us”.
And he added: “The main thing is for Ukrainian pilots to find a safe way to take the aircraft into Ukraine.” (Source: Sky News)
08 Mar 22. Latest Updates.
- Ukrainian authorities today accused Russian forces of once again violating humanitarian corridors in the besieged city of Mariupol. Russian forces appeared to have shelled key locations near and on agreed corridors, with Kyiv also stating that they have undertaken demining operations along the route between Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia. This underlines the mounting threat posed by mines on both sides of the frontline, which will continue to undermine the safety of humanitarian corridors and evacuation routes even when ceasefires are respected. In wider developments, numerous reports and accusations of Russian forces targeting kindergartens, hospitals and civilians directly have appeared today in Mykolaiv, in the Donbas and elsewhere. Civilian casualties will continue to grow in scale as Russian forces increase their use of terror and intimidation tactics as well as indiscriminate bombardments to undermine Ukrainian morale in key urban centres, particularly Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Mariupol.
- Following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s interview with ABC news this morning where he indicated willingness to compromise with Russia on its key demands (see Alert), his ruling Servant of the People party issued a statement on proposed security guarantees. The party stated that “since joining NATO is impossible in the coming years”, the Ukrainian government will work towards a new security arrangement that will be different to the Budapest Memorandum (the 1994 agreement that provided security guarantees to Ukraine in exchange for Kyiv’s relinquishing of its nuclear weapons). Future guarantees would involve the United States, Turkey and importantly Russia, indicating again that Kyiv is increasingly looking for a diplomatic compromise with Moscow. Upcoming negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will thus be a key indicator as to whether the Ukrainian government is prepared to reach a settlement to end the fighting. However, as previously assessed, Russian demands are set to be unyielding during any such negotiations, providing little room for compromise, and as such a de-escalation remains unlikely at this stage.
- Today, 8 March, the United States confirmed a complete ban on Russian oil, gas and coal imports in the latest escalation of Western sanctions on Russia. 8% of US oil imports are currently sourced from Russia, but other European markets remain much more reliant upon Russian oil and oil products. The UK has also today announced that it will phase out Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022, which currently also make up 8% of UK demand. The US and UK announcements come after Washington indicated it would proceed with a blanket ban on oil imports even if European allies would not follow suit, as Germany had confirmed earlier that it remains opposed to such a ban. Nevertheless, the move will place additional pressure on the European Union to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas imports. While there is mounting agreement within the EU that such diversification is now necessary, this would likely be incremental over the coming year given Europe’s significant reliance on Russian imports in comparison to the more limited exposure of the US and to a lesser extent UK. Nevertheless, as identified in previous reporting, private energy companies have already begun the process of implementing de facto embargos irrespective of official sanctions. For example, prior to the US announcement on 8 March, Shell announced that it will be closing all its operations in Russia and will end all purchases of Russian crude oil on spot markets with no intention of renewing its long-term contracts either, with BP also announcing a similar policy.
- The European Union is negotiating new sanctions against Russia today, 8 March, that could be approved as soon as tomorrow. The new sanctions are said to be targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as the country’s maritime industry, although Russian ports and the energy industry are unlikely to not be targeted as European states are trying to avoid further disruptions to trade and energy supplies.
- Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny once again urged Russians to keep protesting against the war in Ukraine, with reports indicating that over 13,500 Russians have been arrested at these demonstrations to date. Navalny has called on daily anti-war demonstrations in the evenings and on weekends. Although the authorities continue managing to contain these demonstrations, the fact that thousands continue to protest despite high risk of long jail terms and other punishments for expressing anti-government sentiment, underlines the potential for these demonstrations to grow, especially once the economic toll of the sanctions begins to take a serious toll on the general population.
- The Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has today, 8 March, stated that an application for NATO membership would “destabilise the current security situation in Europe”. As a non-NATO EU member state, Sweden and Finland remain in the second-most vulnerable tier of countries (after non-NATO and non-EU states Georgia and Moldova) to Russian aggression and a potential spill over of the conflict in Ukraine. Russia ultimately launched its invasion of Ukraine to prevent the country’s drift westwards towards EU and ultimately NATO membership. As such, Russia will remain extremely sensitive at present to any moves by neighbouring countries to apply for NATO membership. Indeed, the Kremlin has already issued thinly veiled threats to Sweden and Finland that a NATO application would necessitate ‘military-technical’ measures in retaliation.
- Swedish and Finnish NATO accession remains one of our key escalation triggers for the war to spill over into wider international conflict, and as such Andersson’s statement today indicates a de-escalatory trend in the Baltic and the current effectiveness of Russian deterrence efforts. Statements from Finland on prospective NATO membership will furthermore remain key indicators going forward as to whether this de-escalatory trend continues or a change in policy triggers a Russian response. For further insights into our scenarios and how such developments could impact the outlook of the war, see our ongoing Scenarios and End States planning.
The announcement of a US ban on Russian oil, gas and coal imports marks a major precedent in the escalation of Western sanctions to date, and one which could seriously undermine Russia’s long-term economic stability if other key markets in Europe adopt similar measures. While Germany and other EU members such as the Netherlands are likely to resist such calls, Berlin and Brussels’ previous U-turns on major sanctions policies indicates that this cannot be ruled out amid continual public outcry and unilateral corporate divestment. As such, Russia’s reaction will be a key issue to watch in the coming days as Russia has already threatened to cut off natural gas exports to Europe. Energy prices are thus set to continue climbing in the coming days, with the enduring threat of counter-sanctions following the suspension of Nord Stream 2 sustaining the risk of a cut to Russian energy imports irrespective of Berlin’s refusal to ban oil imports. Nevertheless, Russian retaliation could also take other forms. Yesterday, Secretary-General of the ruling United Russia party Andrei Turchak called for the nationalisation of foreign-owned factories that shutter their operations in Russia. He described companies’ moves to shut down their operations in Russia as a “war” against Russian citizens, which he claimed justifies extreme retaliatory measures. Given that the exodus of international companies from the Russian market is showing no signs of easing, the nationalisation of assets in country remains a key retaliatory option for the Kremlin, with US firms likely at most risk given today’s oil embargo announcement. However, cyber retaliation also remains a possible course of action, particularly given indicators that the Russian government may be preparing to cut Russia off from the world wide web (see previous Alert and our new Biweekly Ukraine Cyber Update for more details and implications). The situation on the Western borders and along western evacuation routes remains largely unchanged since yesterday. According to a statement by Pentagon on 7 March, Russia has now deployed most of its 127 battalions, and is increasingly using long-range weapons as advances towards Kyiv remain stalled. The increasing use of rockets and missiles will continue to threaten civilian areas in and around Kyiv, maintaining security risks along most evacuation routes out of Kyiv. Heavy fighting continues in Irpin as Russian forces try to take strategically important positions northwest to Kyiv. Russian troops also advanced along the E40, and fighting is expected to continue around Buzova, Makariv and Zhytomyr, rendering that route unsafe. The P04 highway to Fastiv also remains unsafe as Russian advances were recorded at Byshiv. In comparative terms, the H01/P01 may represent the safest route out of the city, although any travel is undertaken at one’s own risk as all approaches to Kyiv are vulnerable to shelling or missile fire. Of note, Russian forces conducted aerial attacks against Bila Tserkva along the P32 west to H01 on Saturday (5 March), highlighting increasing risks south to Kyiv as well. Social media accounts indicate several missiles may have hit the village of Vasylkiv on 7 March, further rendering the E95 an unsafe route.
- On 4 March, multinational technology firm Amazon disclosed that several charities and NGOs providing aid to Ukraine were targeted in a malware campaign. While Amazon has refrained from providing additional details about these attacks, including what type of malware or which organisations were targeted, the US firm claimed that such activity is aimed at either spreading confusion or disrupting “medical supplies, food, and clothing relief”. This is the latest cyber campaign targeting such entities since Belarusian hacking group UNC1151 began launching spear phishing attacks against European government employees assisting Ukrainian refugees earlier this month (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 3 March 2022). These ongoing attacks underline the growing cyber threat posed to organisations attempting to provide humanitarian aid to either Ukraine or its citizens.
- On 3 March, an alleged member of Anonymous claimed via Twitter that the hacktivist group compromised more than 2,500 websites linked to Russian and Belarusian government agencies, media outlets, banks, hospitals, airports, and companies since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This allegation follows the group’s 27 February Twitter post claiming that the group hacked more than 300 Russia-linked entities, including an attack against the Linux terminal and gas control system in Nogir, North Ossetia that reportedly nearly resulted in an explosion; however, such allegations are currently difficult to verify.
- On 3 March, The Netherlands’ Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) disclosed that Dutch routers from individuals and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were compromised by Moscow-backed hacking group Sandworm earlier this year. While MIVD Director Jan Swillens claimed that it remains unclear how many routers were affected during this campaign, a preliminary analysis indicates it was likely “dozens”. This discovery is indicative of the US and UK cyber security agencies’ 23 February cyber security alert that Sandworm’s new malware strain Cyclops Blink is being used to compromised machines and launch malicious cyber attacks (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 24 February 2022). While the MIVD could not confirm whether these hacks were linked to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the timing of this incident suggests that these Dutch routers were likely used in the February DDoS attacks that preluded Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (see Sibylline Ukraine Update – 1400 GMT 24 February 2022).
- On 1 March, the National Police of Ukraine disclosed that the country’s “IT Army” cut off some Russian forces’ communications by blocking “telephones with Russian numbers in their networks”. Further details about this campaign are unclear. This is the latest campaign launched by Ukraine’s IT Army since it claimed on 27 February to have taken several key Russian websites, including the Federal Security Service and the Kremlin, offline via cyber attacks.
- On 1 March, cyber security firm ESET discovered a new data wiping malware targeting Ukrainian government agencies and organisations. This malware, named IssacWiper, was discovered to have been deployed on these networks before and after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Additional details regarding this data wiper, including its scale, impact, and attacker’s identity, remain unclear. Nevertheless, this is the latest data wiping operation since Russian hackers allegedly launched the WhisperGate and HermeticWiper malware against Ukrainian organisations in late January and late February, respectively (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 24 February 2022).
Russia’s utilisation of cyber space continues to remain limited as of 8 March, despite Moscow’s flurry of disruptive attacks during the initial phase of the Ukraine conflict. In contrast, Ukraine’s IT Army and its supporting hacktivists have increased attacks via cyber space to engage in asymmetrical warfare against Russia’s military operation. However, hacktivist groups’ – such as Anonymous – claims that they have compromised more than 2,500 websites linked to Russian and Belarusian entities remain largely unverifiable. Indeed, an investigation of the Telegram messaging channels being used by both the pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian hacking groups indicate that they are increasingly propagating unverified hacking reports to build their reputation and receive credit/rewards for supporting their respective sides. Meanwhile, the verifiable activities by these hacktivists have been low-level “quick and easy” attacks, such as DDoS or defacement, that caused minor disruptions to Russia’s or Belarus’ infrastructure and operations. These rudimentary attacks are indicative of hacktivist groups’ declining technical capabilities in the years following the arrests of high-profile members of Anonymous in the 2010s. Despite this decline, the fluid membership structure of these groups will highly likely result in additional hackers adopting their monikers in the coming days to launch further attacks in support of Ukraine. While such attacks are expected to remain low-impact operations targeting Russian critical infrastructure operators, any unusually highly damaging attacks could provoke retaliation from Russian hackers against Ukraine or the country where these hackers are based. However, it is also equally likely that Moscow will use such provocative actions as further justification for its military offensive operations in Ukraine. Critical infrastructure operators, in sectors such as telecoms or tech, and government agencies will remain the most at-risk for any retaliatory activity. In contrast, recent data leaks and internal disputes among the cyber criminal groups supporting Russia during the Ukraine conflict have raised concerns over their current operational capabilities. Most notably, Ukrainian associated hackers linked to the Conti ransomware have voiced their displeasure on dark web forums/telegram channels over Conti’s support of the Russian government. The group’s allegiance with Moscow resulted in a Ukrainian security researcher leaking over 160,000 internal messages between the group’s members and source code for its ransomware strain and TrickBot operation. Since then, dark web investigations have indicated that Conti may be dismantling its infrastructure in response to both the leak and the group’s growing discontent. Conti is the highest-profile pro-Russian cyber criminal group, with a controlling 20% share in the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) market according to cyber security firm Coveware’s Q4 2021 report. As such, the shuttering of Conti could have a significant impact on Russia’s non-state cyber capabilities and limit the scale of its potential retaliatory cyber attacks in the coming weeks. There is currently no indication of other pro-Russian ransomware groups dismantling their infrastructure. The risk of Western businesses not directly linked to the Russia-Ukraine conflict becoming impacted by “spillover” or supply chain attacks has continued to increase during this monitoring period. Most notably, Russia’s deployment of Yantar has elevated concerns that some incidents linked to possible tampering of undersea communication cables could emerge in the coming weeks. Despite such concerns, any activity beyond cyber espionage remains unlikely. Tapping into undersea cables can be done through one of three ways: either inserting a backdoor into the cable during its manufacturing process, targeting onshore landing stations or facilities, or tapping the cable at sea. However, the last option is widely considered by infrastructure experts to be so technically challenging that it is unknown if any countries can successfully perform it. Instead, direct cyber attacks against the private companies managing these cables’ data traffic would constitute the most realistic cyber threat. The compromise of such companies could either result in the disruption of data flow or follow-on attacks against their downstream clients. While Russia’s deployment of the spy ship does not inherently mean that such operations are imminent, Sibylline will continue to monitor this situation for further developments ahead of the 15 March deadline allegedly set by the Russian Digital Ministry. While the cyber risk posed to Western firms is likely to remain low in the coming days, the Russian Ministry of Digital Development’s instructions to effectively insulate their services from the world wide web heightens the possibility of Moscow strengthening its cyber defensive robustness in preparation for an offensive cyber campaign designed to cause significant disruption to Western countries’ critical infrastructure, such as energy or telecoms.
- On 7 March Russian Deputy Prime Minister and former Energy Minister Alexander Novak warned that Russia was within its rights to respond to the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline an embargo on natural gas exports via the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The warning comes as the US actively considers banning Russian oil imports alongside its allies, with a bipartisan bill tabled in the House of Representatives last night, 7 March, which would ban imports of Russian crude oil, coal, liquefied natural gas and petroleum products. Berlin has nevertheless now stated that it opposes such a measure. However, Berlin had previously been opposed to suspending the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, supplying weapons to Ukraine and barring Russia from SWIFT, all of which it has now done, and so mounting public outcry to the Russian invasion could yet change German policy on this issue. Nevertheless, the prospects of an embargo or reduction in supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would have a deep impact on not only German energy security but also the wider international energy market.
- Russia currently supplies 40% of Europe’s natural gas needs, and while the European Union is drawing up plans to diversify supply away from Russia, this will take time that will do little to offset rising oil and gas prices in the coming weeks. On the back of these developments, benchmark Brent prices were up as high as USD 125.19 a barrel today, 8 March. However, prices are set to increase still further under the threat of an energy war. Novak warned that an effective energy war could lift oil prices to over USD 300 a barrel, while the Bank of America anticipates that should Russian oil exports be cut off, there would be a 5 million barrels a day (bpd) shortfall in global markets, pushing prices over USD 200 a barrel.
- Nevertheless, the economic impact of sanctions on Russia itself, which is now officially the most sanctioned nation on the planet, is only set to worsen. On 7 March, Morgan Stanley & Co warned that Russia is facing a Venezuela-style default, which they now consider the most likely scenario. They warn that a combination of falling bond prices, increasing payment restrictions and an impending recession mean that the likelihood of Russia paying its foreign debt payments is low and decreasing. According to Morgan Stanley, a default could come as early as 15 April, which would mark the end of the 30-day grace period for coupon payments owed by the Russian government on certain dollar bonds. Comparisons to Venezuela, another oil-rich nation which defaulted in 2017, underline the severity of the situation inside Russia, which a US-European ban on Russian oil imports would exacerbate.
- On 7 March, cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase announced that it blocked over 25,000 blockchain addresses linked to Russian individuals and entities. The firm claimed that this decision was to “further support [global] sanctions enforcement” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Coinbase’s actions against Russia follows Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov’s request for all major cryptocurrency exchanges to freeze addresses “linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also sabotage ordinary users” to limit Moscow’s ability to skirt international sanctions and continue funding its military operations in Ukraine. While Coinbase and other exchanges, such as Binance, have indicated that they will not ban all Russian accounts, this latest development underscores the growing regulatory pressure that governments across the globe have placed on cryptocurrency exchanges and technology firms in recent weeks to limit opportunities for Russians to circumvent financial sanctions using decentralised cryptocurrencies. Further cryptocurrency exchanges are likely to implement similar measures in the coming weeks to mitigate their exposure to Russia’s sanction evading activities.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to meet Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Antalya, Turkey on 10 March for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine started, although Kyiv has indicated that it is only interested in meeting Foreign Minister Lavrov is the negotiations are “meaningful”. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister is also scheduled to be present at the meeting following his offer to mediate. The meeting will likely focus on the transfer of humanitarian aid to civilians and their evacuation, although the provision of a safe humanitarian corridor remains unlikely as long as the Kremlin perceives that its negotiations with Ukraine is stalled.
- On 8 March, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published a direct appeal by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to current President Volodymyr Zelensky calling on him to end the fighting “at any cost”. Yanukovych fled Ukraine following the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, which Russia maintains was a fascist coup that deposed the legitimate (pro-Russian) government of Yanukovych. He is currently understood to be in Minsk and is a likely candidate to head a pro-Russian puppet government, which this latest announcement seems to reinforce. Russia has stated numerous times that it will stop the war immediately if Ukraine agrees to Russia’s principal demands. Namely, to cease military action, change the constitution to enshrine neutrality, recognise Crimea as Russian territory, and recognise the Russian-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. As indiscriminate bombardment of civilian areas intensifies and the humanitarian situation worsens, Yanukovych’s appeal is likely designed to appeal to those portions of the population that want to end the fighting irrespective of the political settlement required to bring about a ceasefire.
- Ukraine’s Chief Directorate of Intelligence has claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed the Chief of Staff of the Russian 41st Combined Arms Army Major General Vitaly Gerasimov in Kharkiv. This is the second Russian major general killed during the fighting so far, underlining mounting casualties among the officer corps. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military have alleged that Russian FSB troops are being deployed in occupied areas in the south, particularly around Kherson, to intimidate and “spread terror” among the local population to deter resistance. Numerous large-scale protests against the Russian occupation have taken place in the region in recent days, and wider evidence indicates Russia is pivoting to more open use of terror and intimidation to deter resistance among the civilian population.
The third round of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations took place in Belarus yesterday, 7 March, but as anticipated ended inconclusively. Positive progress was nevertheless reportedly made as regards the logistics of humanitarian corridors, but nothing else of substance. However, just prior to publication President Zelensky gave an interview with American ABC news on 8 March, indicating willingness to discuss Russia’s demands for recognition of Crimea and the Donbas republics. This is a notable development which could indicate willingness on Kyiv’s part to accept certain Russian demands. Zelensky also stated that he understood that “NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine”, indicating potential willingness to also consider Russian demands for Ukrainian neutrality. We will continue to monitor the situation as more details emerge. Nevertheless, Russia has once again announced a “regime of silence” in key Ukrainian cities to allow for humanitarian corridors out of Kyiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol from 1000 Moscow time (0700 GMT) today. Similar corridors were announced yesterday, but Ukrainian forces rejected the proposed ceasefire over what it considered a cynical ploy by Russia given that Ukrainian civilians were primarily provided safe conduct into Russia and Belarus, rather than Ukrainian-controlled territory. Nevertheless, a separate ceasefire has been agreed between Russian and Ukrainian forces around Sumy today, to allow for a humanitarian corridor to Poltava along the route Sumy – Holublvka – Lokhvystia – Lubny – Poltava. The ceasefire was due to come into effect from 0800 GMT, but as previous ceasefires collapsed around Mariupol, it remains to be seen whether this one will hold. The situation on the Western borders and along western evacuation routes remains largely unchanged since yesterday. According to a statement by Pentagon on 7 March, Russia has now deployed most of its 127 battalions, and is increasingly using long-range weapons as advances towards Kyiv remain stalled. The increasing use of rockets and missiles will continue to threaten civilian areas in and around Kyiv, maintaining security risks along most evacuation routes out of Kyiv. Heavy fighting continues in Irpin as Russian forces try to take strategically important positions northwest to Kyiv. Russian troops also advanced along the E40, and fighting is expected to continue around Buzova, Makariv and Zhytomyr, rendering that route unsafe. The P04 highway to Fastiv also remains unsafe as Russian advances were recorded at Byshiv. In comparative terms, the H01/P01 may represent the safest route out of the city, although any travel is undertaken at one’s own risk as all approaches to Kyiv are vulnerable to shelling or missile fire. Of note, Russian forces conducted aerial attacks against Bila Tserkva along the P32 west to H01 on Saturday (5 March), highlighting increasing risks south to Kyiv as well. Social media accounts indicate several missiles may have hit the village of Vasylkiv on 7 March, further rendering the E95 an unsafe route. (Source: Sibylline)
08 Mar 22. Volodymyr Zelensky speech: Ukrainian President vows to fight Russians in ‘forests, fields and on shores’ as he channels Winston Churchill.
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Volodymyr Zelensky has told MPs that Ukrainians will fight Russian invaders “in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets” in a rousing speech that channeled the spirit of Winston Churchill.
Speaking via videolink to the Commons, the Ukrainian president said: “We will not give up, and we will not lose. We will fight to the end in the sea, in the air. We will fight for our land, whatever the costs. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
Mr Zelensky thanked the British Government for its support, but called on Western nations to increase their sanctions against Russia.
“Please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country, and please recognise this country as a terrorist state,” he said. “And please make sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe. Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country.”
His address – the first of its kind – was greeted by a standing ovation and applause from across the House.
In reply, Boris Johnson vowed that his Government “will employ every method we can, diplomatic, humanitarian and economic, until Vladimir Putin has failed in his disastrous venture and Ukraine is free once more”.
Britain will back Poland if it sends fighter jets to Ukraine
Britain will back Poland if it decides to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, the Defence Secretary has said.
Ben Wallace warned that Warsaw could be drawn into the “direct line of fire” from Russia or Belarus, but said the UK would be ready to offer defensive support to its Nato ally.
An attack on one Nato partner is considered an attack on all and would be likely to spark a collective response under article five of the alliance’s treaty.
“I would support the Poles and whatever choice they make,” Mr Wallace told Sky News on Tuesday as he made it clear that Britain would not offer any of its own military aircraft to Ukraine.
“We would protect Poland, we’ll help them with anything that they need. Poland will understand that the choices they make will not only directly help Ukraine, which is a good thing, but also may bring them into direct line of fire from countries such as Russia or Belarus.”
‘President Zelensky, we salute you’
Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP at Westminster, says: “President Zelensky, we salute you” in the face of Putin’s “act of war”.
“We must do all that we can to send support to Ukraine, to send the weapons that they need to defend themselves. To make sure that we sanction the regime in Moscow, that we deliver the clearest message to President Putin that this will end in failure for him, that he will face justice in the criminal court… Peace, justice and the sovereignty of Ukraine must prevail.
“Let’s make sure that we stand with our friends, we stand with those who have been bombed. Mr President, we thank you, we salute you, Slava Ukraini.”
Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, adds that President Zelensky’s words remind us “what so many Ukrainians are fighting for – but we should never take for granted our values of our democracy, our freedom and security.”
Sir Ed calls for President Zelensky to receive an honorary knighthood – and says he looks forward to the day he can be welcomed back to the Commons in person.”
Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, said the British response would be judged by the military and humanitarian aid received, pledging that the Ukrainians would not be let down.
‘Labour stands with Ukraine – Slava Ukraini’
Sir Keir Starmer tells MPs: “Every one of us has been moved by the leadership, the resolved and the bravery of President Zelensky. Invading troops march through his streets, shells raise down on his people, and assassins seek his life. No one would have blamed him for fleeing. But instead he has stayed in Kyiv, to lead the Ukrainian people and to fight. He’s reminded us that our freedom and our democracy are invaluable.
“He’s prompted the world into action, where too often we’ve let Putin have his way.
“He has shown his strength. And we must show him and the Ukrainian people our commitment and our support.
“Labour stands for the unity at home and abroad that will isolate the Putin regime. Labour stands for the toughest sanctions, that will cripple the Russian state. Labour stands for providing Ukraine with the arms that it needs to fight off their invaders.
“Labour stands with President Zelensky, with Ukraine, with democracy- Slava Ukraini.”
Never before has the House listened to such an address, Boris Johnson says.
“In a great European capital, now within range of Russian guns, President Volodymyr Zelensky is standing firm for democracy and freedom, in his righteous defiance I believe he has moved the hearts of everybody in this House.
“And I think today, one of the proudest boasts in the free world is: Ya Ukrainets’ – “I am a Ukrainian”. So this is a moment for us to put our political differences aside, Mr Speaker.
“I know I speak for the House when I say that Britain and our allies are determined to press on, to press on with supplying our Ukrainian friends with the weapons they need to defend their homeland as they deserve.”
He says Britain will press on with supply defensive weapons, to “tighten the economic noose” around Vladimir Putin, and “we will employ every method – diplomatic, humanitarian and economic Mr Speaker – until Vladimir Putin has failed in this disastrous venture and Ukraine is free once more..”
‘We will not give up and we will not lose’
President Zelensky says Russia “did not allow any food, any water, and people started panicking” into Mariupol.
“Over 13 days of this situation, over 50 children have been killed. These are the children that could have lived, but these people have taken them away from us,” he tells MPs.
“The United Kingdom, Ukraine, were not looking to have this war. Ukraine has not been looking to become big, but they have become big over the days of this war. We are the country that are saving people, despite having to fight one of the biggest armies in the world.
“We have to fight the helicopters, the rockets. The question now for us to be is ‘to be or not to be’, the Shakespearean question. For 13 days the question could have been asked. But it’s definitely yes, to be, and I would like to remind you the words that the United Kingdom has already heard, which are important again. We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight till the end, at sea, in the end, we will continue fighting for our land. Whatever the losses. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.
“I would like to add we will fight on the banks of different rivers… and we are looking for your help, for the help of the civilised countries.
Volodymyr Zelensky concludes: “We are thankful for this help. And I am very grateful to you, Boris. Please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country, and please recognise this country as a terrorist state.
“And please make sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe. Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country.
“Best of all to Ukraine and to the United Kingdom.”
MPs are once again applauding, and on their feet, with Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, visibly moved.
President Zelensky: ‘The alliances don’t work properly always’
“Russian forces demanded that we laid down our arms, however we need to continue fighting. The next day, the artillery started firing at us. The Army show us who we are.”
On day four, Ukrainians started to be taken captive and tortured. On day five, “the terror against us” was directed against cities – “constant shelling had been taking place, around the country, in hospitals, and at Ukrainians”.
On day eight, “we have seen Russian tanks hitting the atomic power station. We want everybody to understand that this is the terror against everyone. The following day saw a diplomatic meeting “without the result that we were hoping for.
“We did feel that unfortunately the alliances don’t work properly always, and the no-fly zone can’t be enforced.”
Boris Johnson has repeatedly ruled out a no-fly zone on the grounds that this would trigger a direct, full-scale conflict between the West and Russia.
The killing of a Russian general “gave us hope there will be some kind of responsibility for those people in front of the court”.
Zelensky: We have not been sleeping since invasion
President Zelensky says he is addressing MPs “as a citizen, as a president of also a big country with a dream, and [a] big effort”.
“I would like to tell you about the 13 days of war, the war that we didn’t start and we didn’t want. However, we have to conduct this war. We do not want to lose what we have, what is ours, our whole country, Ukraine, just the same time way as you once didn’t want to lose your country when Nazis started to fight your country.
“And you had to fight for Britain. Thirteen days of this struggle. On day one at 4am in the morning, we were attacked by cruise missiles. Everyone woke up, and since that we have not been sleeping, we have all been fighting for our country with our Army.”
‘You now have the floor!’
Sir Lindsay Hoyle says MPs have also been joined by the Ukrainian ambassador.
“President Zelensky, we have watched the situation unfold in your country with increasing concern but also increasing admiration for the courage, the fortitude displayed by you and your fellow Ukrainians.
“Mr President, you are welcome to address members of the House of Commons. You now have the floor. President!”
In remarkable scenes, there is a spontaneous round of applause – and standing ovation – from MPs, peers and the public gallery. This is not usually permitted, but Sir Lindsay is among those on his feet today.
Any moment now…
We’re eagerly expecting President Zelensky’s live-streamed address to MPs and peers.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle could be heard a moment ago advising parliamentarians on how best to adjust their headsets before the big speech. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
08 Mar 22. Biden announces ban on Russian energy imports. President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his administration is banning Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the US in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Today I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy. We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”
The US expected to make the move unilaterally, without its European allies, due to disagreement among European nations about whether to ban Russian energy imports. EU countries have significantly more exposure to Russian energy than the US. Not long before Biden’s announcement, the United Kingdom announced that it planned to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
US officials decided, given the extreme political pressure at home, they could move without their full coalition and not create major issues. Bloomberg was first to report the move.
Biden emphasized in his remarks that his decision will likely hurt Americans at the gas pump.
“The decision today is not without cost here at home,” Biden said. “Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military build-up at Ukrainian borders, just since then, the price of gas at the pump in America went up 75 cents and with this action it’s going to go up further. I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”
The President also warned companies against price gouging during a time of crisis.
“To the oil and gas companies and to the finance firms that back them: We understand Putin’s war against the people of Ukraine is causing prices to rise. We get that. That’s self-evident. But, but, but, but — it’s no excuse to exercise excessive price increases or padding profits or any kind of effort to exploit this situation or American consumers, exploit them. Russia’s aggression is costing us all. And it’s no time for profiteering or price gouging,” Biden said.
US imports from Russia make up a small slice of American energy portfolio — roughly 8% in 2021, of which only about 3% was crude oil. White House economic officials have been engaged for more than a week as to how to manage any decision to cut off those imports, officials say. The Department of Energy reported that in the last two weeks of February, Russian oil imports dropped to zero as US companies cut ties with Russia, effectively implementing their own ban.
The sanctions the West has slapped on Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine had so far exempted oil exports.
Biden administration officials also traveled to Venezuela over the weekend to hold discussions on potentially allowing the Venezuela to sell its oil on the international market, which would help replace Russian fuel. Biden may also travel to Saudi Arabia as the US works to convince the kingdom to increase its production. The talks underscore how Russia’s invasion has upended international relations and forced the US and other nations to seek out solutions in places they typically have shunned.
The move comes as gas prices skyrocket in the US as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rocks the global oil market. The average price for a gallon of regular gas broke its 2008 record, hitting $4.14 on Monday, according to the Oil Price Information Service, the firm that collects and calculates prices for AAA. That breaks the previous record of $4.11 a gallon that has stood since July 2008.
Biden said the package of economic sanctions and export controls the US has already imposed on Russia has been causing “significant damage to Russia’s economy,” and that the value of the Russian ruble has tanked since Putin launched his attack on Ukraine.
“One ruble is now worth less than one American penny,” Biden said. The President said Russia would not be able to boost the value of the ruble because the West has cut off Russian’s largest banks from the international financial system.
The President noted major companies independently have suspended their services in Russia, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Ford, Nike and Apple.
“The private sector is united against Russia’s vicious war of choice,” Biden said. (Source: CNN)
08 Mar 22. BIS Expands Russia-Belarus Sanctions.(87 Fed. Reg. 12856) – As it previously announced on its website, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has expanded the existing sanctions against the Russian industry sector by adding a new prohibition under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) that targets the oil refinery sector in Russia. These new restrictions build on existing restrictions BIS put in place on the Russian deepwater oil and gas exploration and extraction industries in 2014 by imposing a policy of denial on such items and applying similarly stringent restrictions on a wide variety of items necessary for refining oil. Russia is one of the world’s leading producers of oil products and these restrictions will limit its ability to raise revenue from the sale of refined products, including gasoline, that it can use to support its military efforts. They are effective as of March 3, 2022. BIS estimates that new license requirements under § 746.5(a)(1)(ii) will result in an additional 20 license applications being submitted to BIS annually. Specifically, this final rule:
- Adds a new paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to expand the scope of the general prohibition under this section by imposing an additional license requirement for exports, reexports or transfers (in-country) of any item subject to the EAR listed in new Supplement No. 4 to EAR Part 746 to and within Russia. Unlike the existing prohibition (reordered to appear in new paragraph (a)(1)(i)), the prohibition under new paragraph (a)(1)(ii) does not include a “knowledge” requirement.
- Adds new paragraph (a)(1)(iii) to provide cross-references to other EAR license requirements for Russia and guidance for submitting license applications required pursuant to this section.
- Adds new Supplement No. 4 to EAR Part 746 – HTS Codes and Schedule B Numbers that Require a License for Export, Reexport, and Transfer (in-country) to or within Russia pursuant to § 746.5(a)(1)(ii), to identify the items by HTS code and Schedule B number that will be subject to the prohibition under paragraph (a)(1)(ii). Supplement No. 4 will include four columns consisting of the HTS Code, HTS Description, Schedule B and Schedule B Description to assist exporters, reexporters, and transferors to identify the products in this supplement. There is no difference in the scope of products identified in the supplement by HTS-6 code and HTS description or by the Schedule B number and Schedule B description. The inclusion of both the HTS-6 codes and Schedule B numbers will assist exporters, reexporters, and transferors if they have difficulty in identifying a product based on either the HTS codes or Schedule B numbers alone.
- Adds new paragraph (b)(1) for the text that appeared in paragraph (b) prior to this final rule, which will specify the licensing policy for the license requirements under new paragraph (a)(1)(i). This rule changes the license review policy that appeared in paragraph (b) which is now paragraph (b)(1) in this rule from a presumption of denial to the more restrictive policy of denial. This change in the license review policy is made to harmonize with the license review policy in new paragraph (b)(2) for the license requirements under paragraph (a)(1)(ii), as well as with the license review policies that have been adopted for other sanctions against Russia. This change in the license review policy is made to harmonize with the license review policy in new paragraph (b)(2) for the license requirements under paragraph (a)(1)(ii), as well as with the license review policies that have been adopted for other sanctions against Russia.
- Adds a new paragraph (b)(2) to add the review policy, a policy of denial, that will be applicable to applications that fall within the scope of paragraph (a)(1)(ii).
- Specifies that for both the license review policies in paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (ii), applications for export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) of items that may be necessary for health and safety reasons will be reviewed under a case-by case license review policy.
- Makes various conforming changes elsewhere in the EAR.
- Adds a savings clause for shipments of items removed from eligibility for a License Exception or export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) without a license (NLR) as a result of this regulatory action that were en route aboard a carrier to a port of export, reexport, or transfer (in-country), on March 3, 2022, pursuant to actual orders for export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) to or within a foreign destination, may proceed to that destination under the previous eligibility for a License Exception or export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) without a license (NLR). (Source: glstrade.com)
08 Mar 22. BIS Extends Sanctions to Belarus (87 Fed. Reg. 13048) – As it previously announced on its website, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has added new license requirements and review policies for Belarus to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to render Belarus subject to the same sanctions that were imposed on Russia under the EAR effective February 24, 2022. These new sanctions impose new Commerce Control List (CCL)-based license requirements for Belarus; revise the two foreign “direct product” rules (FDP rules) that are specific to Russia and Russian ‘military end users’ to make them also applicable to Belarus and Belarusian ‘military end users;’ specify a license review policy of denial applicable to all of the license requirements on Belarus that are being added in this rule, with certain limited exceptions; significantly restrict the use of EAR license exceptions; expand the existing ‘military end use’ and ‘military end user’ control scope to include Belarus for all items “subject to the EAR” other than food and medicine designated EAR99; and add two new Belarusian entities to the Entity List as ‘military end users.’ This rule also imposes a license requirement for nuclear nonproliferation items for exports and reexports to Belarus and removes Belarus from Country Group A:4 under the EAR. In addition, for Belarus and Russia, this rule amends the availability of License Exceptions AVS and ENC and includes clarifying guidance on the availability of CCD. These new requirements are effective as of March 2, 2022. (Source: glstrade.com)
08 Mar 22.UK to phase out Russian oil imports. The UK will phase out imports of Russian oil in response to Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine by the end of the year.
- UK to phase out the import of Russian oil during the course of the year in response to illegal invasion of Ukraine
- government establishes a new joint taskforce with industry to work together on an orderly transition
- move will increase the growing pressure on Russia’s economy by choking off a valuable source of income
The UK will phase out imports of Russian oil in response to Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine by the end of the year, the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed today (Tuesday 8 March).
The phasing out of imports will not be immediate, but instead allows the UK more than enough time to adjust supply chains, supporting industry and consumers. The government will work with companies through a new Taskforce on Oil to support them to make use of this period in finding alternative supplies.
The UK is working closely with the US, the EU and other partners to end our dependence on Russian hydrocarbons in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, recognising the different circumstances and transition timelines.
The import of Russian oil makes up 44% of Russian exports and 17% of federal government revenue through taxation – this move steps up the international pressure on Russia’s economy.
In a competitive global market for oil and petroleum products, demand can be met by alternative suppliers. We will work closely with international partners to ensure alternative supplies of fuel products.
Russian imports account for 8% of total UK oil demand, but the UK is also a significant producer of both crude oil and petroleum products, in addition to imports from a diverse range of reliable suppliers beyond Russia including the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and USA.
Whilst this transition takes place, the government recognises the need to continue to import Russia oil in the meantime as we work to this aim. This will help ensure continuity in our supply and protect consumers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
In another economic blow to the Putin regime following their illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK will move away from dependence on Russian oil throughout this year, building on our severe package of international economic sanctions.
Working with industry, we are confident that this can be achieved over the course of the year, providing enough time for companies to adjust and ensuring consumers are protected.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:
Unprovoked military aggression will not pay and we will continue to support the brave people of Ukraine as they stand up to tyranny, building on our existing sanctions that are already crippling Putin’s war machine.
We have more than enough time for the market and our supply chains to adjust to these essential changes. Businesses should use this year to ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected.
This significant move will increase the growing pressure on Russia’s economy by choking off a valuable source of income and hitting its ability to impose further misery on the Ukrainian people.
The elimination of oil imports is in addition to existing trade, financial and personal sanctions already imposed by the UK against Putin’s regime and those who support him in his war against Ukraine.
Russian oil is already being ostracised by the market, with nearly 70% of Russian oil currently struggling to find a buyer, and in a competitive global market demand will quickly be met by alternative suppliers. On 1 March Russian ships were banned from UK ports and authorities were granted new powers to detain Russian vessels.
The UK is not dependent on Russian natural gas, making up less than 4% of our supply. Ministers are also exploring options to reduce this further. The Prime Minister confirmed that the government will set out an energy strategy to set out the UK’s long term plans for greater energy security, including both renewable and domestic oil and gas supplies.
- The UK benefits from significant domestic production of oil and gas. More than two-thirds of our road fuel comes from domestic production.
- Russian oil is already being ostracised by the market, with nearly 70% of Russian oil currently struggling to find a buyer, and in a competitive global market demand will quickly be met by alternative suppliers.
- Russia produces only a fraction of the fuel products currently imported to the UK, with the vast majority coming from reliable suppliers like the USA, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Saudi Arabia.
- Russian oil imports as a percentage of total demand (DUKES 2020):
- Petrol, 0%
- Jet fuel, 5%
- Heating oil, 0%
- Diesel, 18%
- Gas oil (such as red diesel), 1%
- Fuel oil, 0%
- All oil imports, 8%
08 Mar 22. HMS Prince of Wales deploys to lead Nato’s Maritime High Readiness Force. Cold Response is a multinational exercise held every second year in northern Norway. The UK Royal Navy’s second Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales (R09), has sailed to the Arctic to head Nato’s Maritime High Readiness Force.
The vessel will lead the international task group to the Norwegian-led winter exercise, Cold Response. It will serve as a command ship for Nato for the first time. It is also the first time that a QEC ship has operated in the Arctic. HMS Prince of Wales, along with aircraft and land forces, including Royal Marine Commandos, will demonstrate how Norway and Europe’s northern flank can be protected by a unified multilateral force against emerging threats. Cold Response is a large-scale military exercise held in northern Norway every second year. The Nato exercise inside the Arctic Circle will see the participation of 35,000 troops from 28 nations.The exercise aims to train the soldiers to work together in extreme cold weather conditions.
This year, the Cold Response exercise will test their capabilities across sea, air and land domains.
Throughout its deployment, the carrier will be surrounded by aircraft, warships, a nuclear-powered attack submarine and a replenishment vessel.
A team of Royal Navy’s senior sea-going staff, Commander UK Strike Force, will be aboard the vessel. The strike force will be headed by rear admiral Mike Utley.
Utley said: “Nato is the cornerstone of the UK defence and our commitment to the alliance is absolute.
“It is a privilege to be the UK Maritime Component Commander as we participate in this Norwegian-led exercise.”
HMS Prince of Wales is designed to perform high-intensity warfighting and various humanitarian relief tasks.
With a 70m-wide and 280m-long flight deck, R09 can embark 36 F-35B aircraft and four Merlin helicopters. (Source: naval-technology.com)
08 Mar 22. Ukraine’s Punisher Drone Completes Scores of Successful Missions. The Ukrainian military has been using “Punisher” drones that can target fuel storage, ammunition supplies and electronic warfare stations up to 30 miles behind enemy lines.
Eugene Bulatsev, an engineer with the Ukrainian designer UA-Dynamics, said that the electric drones were “game-changing” and had completed up to 60 “successful” missions since the invasion began.
Speaking from Kyiv, where he is about to go and join the fight, he told The Times:
“This is the cheapest and easiest way to deliver a punch from a long distance, without risking civilian lives.”
The electric drones have a 7.5-foot wingspan and can fly for hours at 1,300ft and need only the coordinates of their target so they can carry out their mission automatically, Bulatsev said.
A smaller reconnaissance drone called Spectre flies alongside to identify targets before the Punisher strikes.
After the fighting started in eastern Ukraine in 2014, a group of veterans launched the drone-making company, UA-Dynamics, according to an Haaretz report, last month.
“Three-quarters of the company’s employees are veterans with experience in special operations deep in enemy territory,”
Maxim Subbotin, a marketing expert and an unofficial spokesman for UA-Dynamics, told the newspaper.
Bulatsev said that the main targets were stationary, including fuel and ammunition storage, electronic and counter-electronic warfare stations, and anti-air systems.
Different units in the Ukrainian military are using the drones, but the number of how many and the locations where the Punisher drones are being deployed is classified, Bulatsev said.
Bulatsev previously told The Sun that stealthy Punisher drones had been
“causing havoc behind pro-Russian lines on Donbas for years because the enemy has no idea what has hit them.”
He told the outlet that the drone is relatively small and light and is undetectable to radars.
“What’s more, it can drop three bombs at a time or hit three separate targets then return to base to be reloaded and sent back into battle within minutes,” Bulatsev told The Sun.
British defense secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News that Ukraine had stalled Russian advances partly by carrying out a “very clever plan.”
“We’ve seen footage we can’t verify but we’ve seen footage of Ukrainians using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to attack petrol train convoys, to go after logistical lines, we’ve seen lines blown up, all the things you and I think of when it comes to resistance,” Wallace said.
Along with the Punisher drones, the Ukrainian military is also using around 20 of the highly-rated Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey.
Videos shared by the Ukrainian military last week showed at least one strike from a TB2 drone appearing to tear apart a column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles.
The drones are deployed as the battle over Ukraine’s skies continues following the Russian military invasion.
A senior US defense official described the airspace as “contested” and “very dynamic” earlier this week in an off-camera press briefing, despite Russia claiming to have gained control.
Although Russia was expected to quickly knock out Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, in recent days, Ukraine has claimed to have shot down Russian fighter jets, helicopters, and even troop transport planes.
Experts have been surprised that Russia has not deployed the full force of its air force, as was expected. (Source: UAS VISION/yahoo! entertainment)
07 Mar 22. White House, DoD lower expectations of Polish warplanes for Ukraine. The White House and Pentagon on Monday downplayed the likelihood of a three-way deal for Poland to give MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine and for the U.S. to backfill the Polish fleet with American F-16 fighters.
The cautious remarks from U.S. officials on Monday, with signals from Warsaw there would be no deal, are a blow to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksky, who pleaded with U.S. lawmakers in a Zoom call Saturday for more military planes and support as his country fights a Russian invasion.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday the administration is not opposing such a deal, but said there are significant logistical challenges.
“It is not as easy as just moving planes around,” Psaki said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby sought to temper expectations as well, telling reporters “we’re very early on in a discussion here about what the possibility could” and it’s “not a done deal at this point.” It’s unclear how many U.S. aircraft would be involved or how they would be transported, he said.
“It’s just a discussion about the possibility of should there be a nation that would want to give aircraft and would ask for a backfill from the United States,” Kirby said in describing the talks. “Should that happen, what would that look like, how would we do that? We don’t have all the answers right now.”
On Saturday, the Polish government labeled claims it had or will provide its MiGs to Ukraine as “fake news.” A Polish Armed Forces General Command tweet replied to one claim, saying, “All the Polish Air Force #MiG29 aircraft remain at their home bases.”
The chancellery of the Polish prime minister said in a tweet: “Poland won’t send its fighter jets to #Ukraine as well as allow [it] to use its airports. We significantly help in many other areas.”
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would give “the green light” to NATO countries if they choose to provide fighter jets to Ukraine. He noted talks with Poland were underway.
Multiple U.S. lawmakers have pressed the administration to facilitate the aircraft deal, with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., saying he would “support efforts in the Senate to implement measures to compensate our allies that provide their aircraft for Ukraine’s defense.
“I understand this is not an easy decision for these countries to make,” Menendez said in a statement. “Asking them to provide their own aircraft, especially as Russia’s military aggression edges closer to their own borders, would be unthinkable except in the direst circumstances. Unfortunately, that is the situation the world faces. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and sacrifices.”
Poland’s 94 combat-capable aircraft include 48 F-16 fighters it began to acquire from the U.S. in 2006 and 28 MiG-29s it acquired earlier that are decades older. How ready the Polish MiG-29s are at present could impact a potential deal, said aviation expert Richard Aboulafia, the managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory.
“Those are very old planes, and the Polish air force has been prioritizing F-16s for years,” Aboulafia said.
Beyond the question of whether Poland’s older MiG-29s need fixing, it could take time to strip sensitive NATO-linked electronics and avionics from them, if they’re to be transferred to Ukraine, said William Alberque, a former NATO arms control official now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“You’re either taking a fighter they don’t need and doing an overhaul, which takes time and replacement of parts, or you’re taking a frontline aircraft that’s needed for different purposes,” Alberque said. “No Polish military or politician will want to say ‘We’re giving a bunch of planes to Ukraine and we’re a little less safe now,’ but if they can leverage it, I’d rather have a refurbished F-16 than a MiG-29 any day of the week.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
07 Mar 22. Wheels vs Tracks- Urgent Warning! Every day Reports and photos of the developments of the huge Russian 40 mile convoy stuck in the mud plaster the international media. These pictures should shed a stark warning to those pundits and salesmen promoting wheeled vehicles such as Boxer to undertake the roles of tracked vehicles such as Warrior and AS90. Studies at the Tank Museum in Bovington showed that although wheeled vehicles are cheaper to develop and run, they lack the cross-country capability to keep up with Main Battle Tanks in the new UK Battlegroups. For the Mobile Fires Requirement to replace the ageing AS90 Howitzer’s there is only one tracked offering, K9/K10 from Hanwha. Given these phots coming from Ukraine, it will be a brave decision to ditch this offering in favour of a ‘wheels only’ fleet. A likely solution would be a mixed wheeled and tracked fleet. These pictures may also reflect on the decision to scrap Warrior and replace some of the capabilities with Boxer. Will the resurgence of a new upgraded Warrior be a consequence of the Ukraine conflict and a further life extension for Scimitar? Sources state that the Russians are using their latest T72B3M alongside other T72 marques and a few T90s, there are minimal amounts of T-14 Armata tanks. The Ukrainian Army is using T72 tanks. Russian tanks, artillery and military vehicles that have been crossing Ukraine’s border for days now are adorned with a series of symbols drawn in white paint. These symbols range from letters to geometric figures and even combinations of the two. In fact, more than ten different combinations have been seen on the bodies, both front and sides, of these war vehicles. But what do they mean? From all the footage that has been observed to date, it would appear that the most commonly seen is the letter ‘Z’, framed within either a square, rectangle or triangle. One theory put forward as to why these symbols are painted on the vehicles is that they can reduce the chances of being hit by friendly fire. For example, both the Russian and Ukrainian forces use the same model of tank, and so they use this personalised symbology to distinguish themselves from the enemy. Another reason, however, is that they may pertain to the locations where the units are stationed. Michael Clarke, former director of the defence think tank RUSI, explained this idea to Sky News. “Often these symbols will be location-based: they will communicate where the unit is going,” he said, pointing to the various designs seen in recent days. “These are probably symbols that say which units are heading northeast or northwest in a region, for example.” (Source: https://en.as.com/)
07 Mar 22. Defense Secretary Calls Up More Troops to Europe.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered 500 more U.S. service members to be deployed to locations in Europe to augment U.S. forces that are already there, Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said today.
The order was issued over the weekend, and the added personnel are being positioned to respond to the security environment “caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and, certainly, to help reinforce and bolster deterrence and defense capabilities of the NATO alliance,” Kirby said. This movement is temporary, he added.
“[We’re] going to adjust our posture continuously as the conditions require. And as has noted before, we are not and will not send forces into Ukraine,” he said. The additional personnel will go to NATO’s eastern flank, and the United States will send some KC-135 refueling aircraft out of Fairfield Air Force Base in Spokane, , with about 150 personnel, he said.
The troops will deploy to Souda Bay, Greece, to give added fueling support to the commander of the U.S. European Command, Kirby said, adding the 500 deployed service members will include a 40-person air and support operations center out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Right now, they’re planning to deploy to Poland into Romania to help provide additional command and control for the U.S. European Command flight operations, Kirby said. About 300 personnel will comprise a modular ammunition ordnance company out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and a support maintenance company out of Fort Stewart, he said. They’ll go to Germany to provide additional logistic support to the first Armored Brigade Combat Team 3rd Infantry Division already deployed there.
“These are purely defensive forces,” Kirby said, calling the troops “enablers.” ” said before when we deployed, the additional 7,000 that there would be associated enablers within this as part of that support. All these posture adjustments are being done … in full constant consultation with the NATO allies in question.”
Additionally, Kirby noted, ” going to continue to look for ways to bolster NATO, to look for innovative ways, creative ways to make sure that understands how seriously we take Article V and how seriously we take our collective security requirements inside that alliance, how seriously we consider the importance of alliances and partnerships. We’ve invested a lot of time in the last year in revitalizing alliances and partnerships in Europe and around the world.” That effort is now bearing fruit, he added.
The United States continues to see Russian air forces participate in the Ukraine invasion, Kirby said. “The continue to launch weapons, they continue to conduct attacks in support of Russian objectives inside Ukraine,” he noted.
“[We] aren’t seeing the level of integration between air and ground operations that you would expect to see,” he said of Russian forces. ” everything they’re doing on the ground is being fully supported by what they’re doing in the air. There does seem to be some disconnects there. So, it’s not clear to us how significant their air operations are being in helping alleviate the lack of progress that they’re having on the ground because they don’t seem to be fully coordinated between air and ground elements,” the spokesman said. (Source: US DoD)
08 Mar 22. Russia-Ukraine latest news: Moscow threatens to cut off West’s gas supplies through Nord Stream 1.
- Eighteen dead, including two children, in bombing of Sumy
- Volodymyr Zelensky to address the Commons at 5pm
- Vladimir Putin sets out his key demands to halt invasion
- Ukraine’s revenge on Russian warship that attacked Snake Island
- British volunteers travel to fight Russians in Ukraine
- How Russia’s ‘Z’ could become the next swastika
- Listen to the latest episode of our daily Ukraine podcast
Russia has threatened to halt gas supplies to the West through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow on Monday suggested it had the “full right” to stop supplies and warned that oil prices could surge to $300 a barrel.
Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said his government had the “full right” to “impose an embargo” on gas supplies. He said the decision to shut off Nord Stream 1 has not yet been taken, and the pipeline is currently operating “at full capacity”.
“In connection with unfounded accusations against Russia regarding the energy crisis in Europe and the imposition of a ban on Nord Stream 2, we have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline,” Mr Novak said in a statement broadcast on state television.
It came after the US sought to ratchet up pressure on Vladimir Putin by saying the West was considering banning Russian oil imports. Oil prices spiked to their highest levels since 2008.
“A rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Mr Novak said.
Defence minister Ben Wallace has said Britain would support Poland if it decided to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, but warned that doing so might have direct consequences for Poland.
“I would support the Poles and whatever choice they make,” Mr Wallace told Sky News, adding that the UK could not offer aircraft that the Ukrainians would be able to use.
“We would protect Poland, we’ll help them with anything that they need,” he said. “Poland will understand that the choices they make will not only directly help Ukraine, which is a good thing, but also may bring them into direct line of fire from countries such as Russia or Belarus.”
At least 18 people, including two children, have died in an air strike on the Ukrainian city of Sumy, approximately 220 miles east of Kyiv, the rescue services have said.
“Enemy planes insidiously attacked apartment buildings” on Monday night, the rescue services said on Telegram after arriving on the scene at 11pm (9pm UK). Sumy, near the Russian border, has been the scene of heavy fighting for days.
Civilians will start leaving today under an agreement with Russia on the establishment of a “humanitarian corridor”, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
“It has been agreed that the first convoy will start at 10 a.m. (8am London) from the city. The convoy will be followed by the local population in personal vehicles,” she said in a televised statement. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
07 Mar 22. Defense Official Says Russians Reportedly Recruiting Syrian Mercenaries. The Russians are reportedly trying to recruit Syrians to sign up and fight in Ukraine, a senior defense official said today.
“We find that noteworthy that believes that he needs to rely on foreign fighters to supplement what is a very significant commitment of combat power inside Ukraine as it is,” the official said, noting that Putin has now committed nearly 100% of his combat power into Ukraine, which had been amassed along the border at the start of the war.
The airspace over Ukraine is still contested, but Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy still has most of his fixed-wing aircraft available to him to fly combat missions, the official said.
Since the beginning of this war, the Russians have launched more than 625 missiles, consisting of a mix of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and cruise missile. Some of the missiles have caused civilian casualties, the official said.
“We’re not seeing a lot of progress — at least the over the course of the last couple of days,” the official said, speaking of Russia’s lack of rapid advancement into Ukraine.
They continue to have some progress in the south, but not elsewhere in the country, the official said.
“They continue to be frustrated by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, as well as their own internal challenges,” the official said.
The vast majority of missile strikes and air and ground activity continue to remain along three lines of effort: from the north down toward the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv; from Crimea in the south toward Mykolaiv and Mariupol, both of which are being contested; and from the northeast toward Kharkiv, which also has not yet been taken by Russian forces. There has not been any significant Russian activity in Odesa or western Ukraine, the official said.
Over the weekend, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered the deployment from the United States of about 500 additional military personnel to locations in Europe to augment existing forces.
“These additional forces are going to be positioned to respond to the current security environment in light of Russia’s renewed aggression against Ukraine and to reinforce deterrence and defensive capabilities of NATO, particularly the eastern flank, and we’re going to adjust the posture as conditions evolve,” the official said.
Those forces include KC-135 refueling aircraft that will be deployed to Souda Bay in Greece. Also, air support operations centers will deploy to Poland and Romania. In addition, an ordnance and maintenance company will deploy to Germany to provide additional logistical support to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, which is already there.
With these additional deployments, the United States will have on rotational or permanent orders about 100,000 personnel in Europe, the official said. The U.S. continues to deliver security assistance to Ukraine, the official said. (Source: US DoD)
07 Mar 22. Ukraine’s resistance leaves Russia facing the prospect of a humiliating defeat. Military loss or stalemate – which would be seen as a tactical victory for Ukraine – could lead Vladimir Putin to deploy increasing violence. As one of the most powerful militaries on the planet, Russia had been expected by analysts to prevail when the war in Ukraine started 12 days ago.
It was a widely held view that Ukrainian forces, bloodied by eight years of combat in Crimea and the Donbas, must have improved – but even the most optimistic observer did not expect them to stop the mighty Russian army literally in its tracks so comprehensively.
It has raised the prospect of Russian tactical defeat on the battlefield, with potential strategic implications at home.
After its failure to decapitate Ukraine’s leadership in the opening days of the war, experts have warned that Russia is left with the prospect of a humiliating defeat or pressing on with ever greater violence.
In a statement on Monday, Moscow seemed to water down its earlier demands of Ukraine. A Kremlin spokesman said hostilities could stop “in a moment” if Ukraine ceased fighting, amended its constitution to remove any possible future in Nato, acknowledged the loss of Crimea and recognised the separatist areas in the east of the country.
Any mention of “de-Nazifying” Ukraine – seemingly important enough for Russia to have invaded – was dropped.
But defence experts have said that any prospect of military defeat or stalemate – which would be seen as a tactical victory for Ukraine – could mean increased violence in the coming days, particularly against civilians.
Andy Salmon, a former Commandant General of the Royal Marines, said Vladimir Putin could turn Ukrainian cities into “mini-Stalingrads” before this conflict ended and told The Telegraph that the Russian army was being “humiliated”.
However, that only increases the prospect of Putin lashing out more violently as his invasion stutters.
“The longer the campaign goes on, the stronger Ukraine gets – it could end in a horrendous stalemate,” said Gen Salmon. “It’s already a humiliation, but to actually push the Russians out will be a complete defeat for Putin. It will get a lot worse as Russia tries to recover the situation.
“They might try to pulverise the Ukrainians into submission – which is not going to happen.”
Gen Salmon said any future negotiations with Putin would “have to leave him somewhere to go” so as not to leave few options beyond escalating the conflict, which has already claimed hundreds of civilian lives.
Michael Clarke, a former director general of the Royal United Services Institute, believes Putin is “finished”. “We have to think about what happens next,” he told Radio 4’s The World Tonight.
Russia has advanced most strongly in the south of Ukraine, pressing west towards Odesa and continuing to surround Mariupol, which has had no water or electrical power for days.
Field Army in charge of Britain’s warfighting elements, said Putin’s objective all along has been to secure a land corridor to Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and ensure that Ukraine, if it continues to exist at all, is crippled economically.
“Putin wants the south-east of Ukraine. That’s where the prosperity is. That’s where the oil infrastructure is. That’s where the strategic ports are. And it re-establishes Catherine the Great’s territory of Novorossiya – New Russia,” he told The Telegraph.
“If that’s what he wants, just grabbing it and hoping to hold onto the area after any future negotiations is fanciful.
“The world is looking at Kyiv and across the east, with little focus on the south-east of the country. Keeping the world’s attention on those areas suits Putin’s interests and buys him time in the south-east.
“Continuing to buy time in the north makes sense, until he is in a position from which to negotiate the land corridor to Crimea with which the world might be comfortable as a price to pay to stop the bloodshed.”
Whether the world would accept another frozen conflict like Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia or Nagorno-Garabakh on the Azerbaijan-Armenian border is unknown.
These former battlefields are “all Russian controlled territory the world may not accept, but has learned to live with”, Gen Jones said.
The bombardment of civilians is “horrific to watch”, but he added: “They’re creating a spectacle for the world to see, wrapped up in 24/7 news, whilst they secure their strategic objectives in the south.”
Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian security issues, said attacking Ukraine will eventually lead to the end of the Putin regime and added: “In some ways this is like the end of the Soviet Union, but on fast-forward.”
As sanctions bite and ordinary Russians see through the nonsense of the supposed “de-Nazification”, soldiers returning home wounded with stories of what is really going on will sway public opinion.
“This is the kind of process we saw with Afghanistan. It further delegitimises a regime which actually was already in trouble,” Mr Galeotti told the Today programme.
There will not be crowds “storming the Kremlin” any day soon, he said, “but in terms of that general alienation of the Kremlin from its people, I think we’re really seeing that happen”. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
08 Mar 22. Ukraine conflict: Ukroboronprom’s Zhytomyr Armour Plant destroyed. Ukroboronprom’s Zhytomyr Armour Plant was destroyed and three people were killed, according to media reports on 6 March. CNN said it had authenticated a geolocated video posted on Telegram showing the levelled plant to support Russian claims of ‘demilitarising’ Ukraine.
A Ukroboronprom spokesperson would not confirm to Janes on 7 March the destruction of the plant but said the conglomerate’s enterprises “are currently operating in intensive mode. The information on the status of the enterprises is classified”.
The spokesperson referred to a statement posted on Ukroboronprom’s website on 26 February: “We can’t disclose the details of the situation at our defence enterprises to avoid assisting the enemy … The plants are currently operating according to their schedules and algorithms agreed for each enterprise. In some cases, all design and other documentation has been relocated. Ukroboronprom enterprises work seven days a week, without weekends.”
The statement added that Russian attacks on Ukroboronprom plants had been repulsed by the Ukrainian armed forces, national security service, and national police. (Source: Janes)
08 Mar 22. Russian offensive slows, says Ukraine, as residents flee bombed-out cities.
- Russian offensive significantly slower, says Ukraine
- Second senior Russian commander killed, says Ukraine
- Frightened residents flee cradling babies and pets
- Oil price rises as U.S. considers Russia import ban
- Russia warns it could turn off gas pipeline to Germany
Russia’s offensive in Ukraine continued but at a significantly slower pace on Tuesday and a second senior Russian commander had been killed, Ukrainian military and intelligence said, as frightened residents fled bombed-out cities.
In the city of Irpin, on the northwest edge of Kyiv, residents ran with their young children in strollers, or cradling babies in arms, while others carried pet carriers and plastic bags and suitcases.
“It’s like a disaster, the city is almost ruined, and the district where I’m living, it’s like there are no houses which were not bombed,” said one young mother, holding a baby beneath a blanket, while her daughter stood by her side.
“Yesterday was the hardest bombing, and the lights and sound is so scary, and the whole building is shaking.”
Ukraine’s military intelligence said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces killed a Russian general near the besieged city of Kharkiv, the second Russian senior commander to die in the invasion.
Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army, was killed on Monday, the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a statement.
Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces said the Russian offensive continues although at a significantly slower pace.
Russia’s defence ministry could not be immediately reached for comment and Reuters could not verify the reports.
Russia’s invasion, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two, has created 1.7 million refugees, a raft of sanctions on Moscow, and fears of wider conflict as the West pours military aid into Ukraine.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.
Kyiv has rejected Moscow’s offer of possible humanitarian corridors to Russia and Belarus.
However, Moscow has since proposed giving the residents of the cities of Sumy and Mariupol the choice of moving elsewhere in Ukraine on Tuesday, setting a deadline in the early hours for Kyiv to agree, Russian news agencies reported. read more
After the third attempt to ease the bloodshed at talks in Belarus, negotiators warned not to expect the next round to bring a final result. The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are expected to meet in Turkey on Thursday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters Moscow would halt operations if Ukraine ceased fighting, amended its constitution to declare neutrality, and recognised Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the independence of regions held by Russian-backed separatists.
Fears of an energy war between Russia and the West grew on Tuesday after the United States pushed its allies to ban Russian oil imports as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia warned it could stop the flow of gas through pipelines from Russia to Germany in response to Berlin’s decision last month to halt the opening of the controversial new Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia supplies 40% of Europe’s gas.
“We have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday.
Novak also warned that oil prices could more than double to $300 a barrel if the United States and its allies banned imports of Russian oil, a crucial source of revenue after the country was effectively frozen out of Western financial markets.
Analysts at Bank of America however said that if most of Russia’s oil exports were cut off there could be a shortfall of 5 million barrels per day (bpd) or more, pushing prices as high as $200.
Oil prices see-sawed near 14-year highs on Tuesday, with Brent crude futures up $1.06, or 0.9%, at $124.27 a barrel at 0223 GMT, after trading as high as $125.19. r
U.S. President Joe Biden held a video conference call with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain on Monday as he pushed for their support to ban Russian oil imports.
But if need be, the United States was willing to move ahead without allies in Europe, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Many countries on the continent are heavily reliant on Russian energy.
Japan tightened its sanctions on Tuesday, freezing the assets of an additional 32 Russian and Belarusian officials and executives of companies with close ties to the government. read more
Estee Lauder Companies Inc (EL.N) joined a long list of firms exiting Russia, suspending all commercial activities and closing all its stores in the country.
A senior U.S. defence official said Putin had now deployed nearly 100% of the more than 150,000 forces that he had pre-staged outside Ukraine before the invasion.
A Russian strike on a bread factory killed 13 in the town of Makariv in the Kyiv region, Ukrainian officials said. Reuters could not verify the details. Russia denies targeting civilians.
In the encircled southern port city of Mariupol, hundreds of thousands of people remained trapped without food and water under regular bombardments. (Source: Reuters)