Ukraine Conflict Update – 29 April
Military and hard security developments
- Russia has continued to make slow progress in the Donbas, though a breakthrough continues to prove elusive. The Russians are continuing to attack at multiple points across the entire frontline, though major thrusts continue to be directed out of Izyum towards Slovyansk to the east, Barvinkove to the south as well as further west, a push clearly intended to circumvent established Ukrainian defences along the key T2122 highway. Elsewhere, Russia continues to bombard the Azovstal works in Mariupol, though they have made no notable progress in recent days ahead of a planned press tour of the city, which is expected to take place today, 28 April.
- The Russians have furthermore been conducting probing attacks in the southern direction west of Kherson, though Ukrainian counterattacks have stalled any advances in recent days. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian General Staff have stated that Russian forces in the region are reinforcing and have stepped up aerial reconnaissance in the region, indicating preparations for offensive operations against Mykolaiv and/or Kryvhi Rih to the north. Given the growing tensions in Transnistria this week, a thrust towards Mykolaiv will be an important development if it manages to make ground, though it remains to be seen whether such an attack will prove sustainable. In Transnistria itself, reports indicate that local authorities are preparing for a de facto mobilisation of the male population, and with further provocations and false-flag attacks likely in the coming days, the situation could yet escalate further – though as previously assessed, any offensive operations out of Transnistria will be highly risky for Russian forces, and will risk a major overextension without reinforcements from Ukraine.
- Long-range strikes beyond the immediate frontline have furthermore continued, with explosions reported overnight in Odesa, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Dobripillia, north of Pokrovsk.
Diplomatic and strategic developments
- On 27 April, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against any country intervening in Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, stating that, should Russia’s warnings be ignored, the response will be “lightning fast”. The threats notably follow this week’s summit at Ramstein air base in Germany to discuss strategies to supply weapons to Ukraine, as well as Germany’s policy shift to increase its military aid to Ukraine. At present, these threats are likely to be mainly posturing as Moscow increasingly seeks to deter further support to Ukraine and warn against other nations joining NATO. Nevertheless, in line with our previous assessments, the threat of conflict spill over remains, with non-EU and non-NATO states, most notably Moldova, most at risk of being impacted in the months ahead, particularly given the escalating situation in Transnistria this week.
- NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg stated that, should Finland and Sweden choose apply for membership, they “will be welcomed with open arms to NATO”, comments which are likely to only aggravate Russia following its failure to deter NATO expansion, instead pushing more countries to seek membership in the alliance. Moreover, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace reiterated his statement that it is “legitimate” for Kyiv to target logistical infrastructure on the Russian territory. Paired with the expansion of western military aid to Ukraine, such statements from senior officials will only reinforce Moscow’s perception of the war in Ukraine being a proxy conflict with NATO, with Russian Foreign Ministry warning the west against “trying our [Russia’s] patience”. Ultimately, this will increase the risk of retaliation from the Kremlin – including in the form of long-range strikes on Western Ukraine to deter arms shipments. Additionally, the targeting of western embassies, or the nearby areas, should also not be ruled out as a potential escalatory response from Russia should the rhetoric continue to intensify from both sides.
- The Ukrainian General Staff on 27 April reported that Russian occupiers in Kherson oblast are printing ballots and conducting a census ahead of an anticipated referendum on the declaration of a Kherson People’s Republic (KNR), expected on or around 1 May. Efforts to crackdown on resistance with tear gas and stun grenades have increased in recent days amid protests, with a new military-civilian administration installed and former KGB officer Alexandr Kobets appointed as mayor of Kherson. These authorities have indicated that the Russian ruble will be introduced in Kherson oblast from 1 May, further reinforcing our assessment that Russia intends to incorporate the territory. In related developments, Russian sources reported on 27 April that fresh referenda are set to be held in Luhansk and Donetsk on 14-15 May to join the Russian Federation.
- However, the dynamics of pro-Russian referenda could also be utilised to expand Russian control of areas outside of Ukraine, namely the breakaway republics of Transnistria and South Ossetia. The rapidly escalating situation in Transnistria and the move towards mobilisation means a referendum could yet to organised in the months ahead if annexation is indeed planned. However, such dynamics would likely also destabilise another Russian neighbour, namely Georgia. A referendum to join Russia is at the heart of the ongoing presidential race in the pro-Russian breakaway republic of South Ossetia, with incumbent president Anatoly Bibilov in particular in favour of a vote in the aftermath of the second round, which is now scheduled for 8 May.
- On 28 April, Ukrainian sources have reported that President Maia Sandu has decided to shift Moldova’s policy on Russia and will align with some EU sanctions on the country. The adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko made the announcement, though it has yet to be confirmed by Chisinau at time of writing. The move represents a marked shift in Moldovan policy after treading a careful line following the 24 February invasion of Ukraine, but Sandu reportedly made the decision in the wake of the provocations in Transnistria earlier this week. If Chisinau does go through with introducing some sanctions, as well as providing non-military humanitarian aid to Ukraine as Gerashchenko claimed, this would increase the likelihood of a Russian response.
- The de facto mobilisation in Transnistria in the coming days will provide Moscow with additional forces with which the posture and threaten Chisinau in response, but as previously assessed, offensive operations against Moldova threaten to overextend Russia and undermine its operations in Ukraine. However, the weaponisation of gas remains a further option. Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliţa stated on 27 April that it remains unclear whether Russian gas supplies will be cut from 1 May due to outstanding debt issues by the country’ primary purchaser of Gazprom gas, Moldovagaz. However, she did confirm that seven unnamed international companies have indicated readiness to provide Moldova with natural gas in this eventuality, including from Romania, Poland and the Netherlands. Ultimately, however, further provocations and false-flag attacks remain likely in Transnistria, with a decision by Chisinau to back EU sanctions increasing the threat of limited conflict spill over across the Moldovan border in the coming months.
- Following Russia’s cut of gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria this week, media reports indicate that some of the largest gas importers in Europe are willing to accept Putin’s demands that payments must be made in Russian rubles. However, according to media reports EU officials have warned that the EU will consider this in violation of sanctions. The effective weaponisation of gas by Russia works as yet another tool with which Moscow can widen divisions and undermine unity with the bloc. As such, Moscow’s decision to cut gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria has reinforced the reality of the threat of such disruptions to the wider European region should Putin’s demands be ignored. Notably, however, Poland in particular is comparatively less dependent on Russian gas than many other European states, with Warsaw already not planning to renew its contract with Gazprom, meaning that cutting off gas supplies to Poland may well have been a relatively lower risk move for Russia. However, the Kremlin has threatened to cut off supplies other EU countries that do not pay in rubles, a risk that will continue to increase in light of escalating tensions and mounting western support for Ukraine.
- Considering the withdrawal of Russian troops from around Kyiv, the security situation in and around the capital has moderately improved as of 28 April. The H01/P01 and the E40 are the most viable routes from Kyiv. The E40 and the E373 highways were declared ‘open’ for traffic by Ukrainian authorities and are now relatively safe, however, they remain heavily damaged and road-clearing processes continue which may cause delays. The threat of air attacks remains high, therefore, safety cannot be guaranteed on any westbound evacuation routes. The threat posed by mines and unexploded ordnance also remains high across Kyiv oblast. We note that this advisory is supported by a warning from Kyiv Region Military Administration on 12 April stating that de-occupied towns and settlements adjacent to Kyiv should not be re-settled by civilian populations due to high quantities of mines and unexploded ordnance.
- Due to air attacks on Kremenchuk and Uman on 25 April, the westbound E50 to Oleksandriya and from there the H01 seems to be a relatively safer route from Dnipro to Kyiv. Between Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia, there are two main road routes: the H08 and E105. Due to RU military targeting civilian and military aviation infrastructure with missile strikes, we believe there is substantial risk associated with all road routes into Zaporizhzhia, as the H08 is in close proximity to Shyroke Airfield just north-west of Zaporizhzhia, and the E105 passes through Zaporizhzhia International Airport and then Vilniansk Airfield. As such, we assess that all approaches into Zaporizhzhia face elevated risk from air/missile strikes at present.
Following the US-led Ramstein summit in Germany earlier this week, we are clearly in another escalatory phase of the conflict as the West doubles down on and expands its support for Ukraine’s war effort. President Putin’s threats of “lightning-fast retaliation” if countries intervened in Ukraine underscore the growing likelihood of a Russian response to mounting Western arms shipments to Ukraine, though this is still much more likely to remain in-theatre at this stage, rather than any move to escalate the war into NATO borders. Nevertheless, comments made overnight by senior UK ministers, including Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, will further reinforce this escalatory dynamic, as they implied the UK intends to support Ukraine in reclaiming all its territory – including Crimea. Occupied-Crimea is considered intrinsic Russian territory by the Kremlin, and with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also today stating that the alliance stands ready to support Ukraine’s military for years to come if necessary, Russian fears that the military advantage may eventually turn in Ukraine’s favour will fuel the risk of an escalation. In this regard, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) have today alleged that they have intelligence that the US and Poland are planning to establish Polish control over much of Western Ukraine to “reclaim” lost Polish land. They allege that Polish troops are preparing to enter the region “under the slogan of protecting them from Russian aggression”. Such allegations reflect still further the escalating war of words, but may also in part reflect genuine Russian paranoia over the scope for direct NATO intervention in Ukraine. As a result, and following Putin’s threats of “lightning-fast” retaliation, demonstrations of Russian capabilities inside Ukraine are likely in the coming days, intended for a NATO audience to deter further involvement. These are likely to include cruise, ballistic and potentially hypersonic missile strikes in areas closer to NATO borders, as well as wider nuclear posturing. Moscow has reiterated threats to target “decision-making centres” in response to the UK and wider NATO backing of Ukrainian strikes inside Russia, and thus the threat of punitive strikes against Kyiv in particular is growing. Most notably, there are increasing indications that Russia will not allow the presence of Western officials and advisers to deter strikes against perceived decision-making centres, underlining a likely attempt to deter Western politicians and advisers from visiting Kyiv. However, other more escalatory options remain to the Kremlin, including potentially striking near or directly at foreign embassies in Kyiv or consulates in Lviv – though it should be noted that there is no publicly available intelligence to indicate that this is planned imminently. Nevertheless, the UK and US have indicated plans to reopen their respective embassies in the capital some time in the near future, and as such these buildings could present highly symbolic targets to demonstrate Russian resolve to escalate without directly targeting NATO territory proper.
- Russian momentum is steadily building in the Donbas as their forces continue to make modest advances around Izyum in particular, though Russian forces have yet to achieve a breakthrough. Russian forces have continued to attack on multiple axes of advance from Izyum, including southeast towards Slovyansk, southwest toward Barvinkove and due west. The Russians have in particular been pushing west of Izyum over the last 24 hours, away from the primary operational objectives in Donetsk oblast, in a likely attempt to circumvent Ukrainian defensive positions along the T2122 road towards Barvinkove.
- The Ukrainian General Staff have furthermore reported that two further Russian BTGs and the 76th Airborne Division have been deployed from Belgorod to the Izyum front, indicating a continued build up of forces on this axis. However, as has been the case in recent days, the Russians are still struggling to bring all their forces to bear south of Izyum given Ukrainian delay actions and enduring reliance upon roads. As such, the advance west of Izyum, which could be aimed at facilitating a large encirclement of Ukrainian forces around Slovyansk, will remain a significant challenge, though improving weather will steadily dry out the ground in the weeks ahead and thus provide additional opportunity for Russian manoeuvre.
- Russian forces have continued to bombard the Azovstal works in Mariupol, including using Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, though very little progress has been made in recent days. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the Kremlin is due to hold a press tour of the city today, reportedly including foreign journalists, and will likely frame the battle for the city in terms of their de-Nazification narrative. There are also increasing reports of Russian forces restricting civilian movements in the city, including resorting to blackmail and physical coercion to force civilians to work for the occupying administration.
- There are also growing indications of systematic “filtration measures” across all occupied territories, including in Kherson ahead of an expected referendum, with military-aged men and pro-Ukrainian activists increasingly being abducted for interrogation. It remains possible that such abductions are intended for future prisoner exchanges, but abducted civilians and Ukrainian defenders from Mariupol and the east in particular could conceivably be paraded in the upcoming Victory Day celebrations as prisoners of war – claiming they are neo-Nazis.
- Fighting has also continued in the southern direction west and north of Kherson, where Russian forces are seemingly preparing for new offensive operations. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence have stated that various elements of Russia’s 8th and 49th Combined Arms Armies (CAA), the 22nd Army Corps as well as Black Sea naval infantry and airborne force are all reinforcing their forward positions in the region and are massing ammunition reserves. An uptick in Russian aerial reconnaissance in the area is a further indication of preparations for offensive operations, with Kyiv expecting assaults in the direction of Mykolaiv and Kryvhi Rih in the coming days.
- The upcoming referendum and likely declaration of the Kherson People’s Republic (KNR), expected on or around 1 May, could furthermore result in a forced mobilisation of civilians in order to “liberate” the rest of the oblast, though a protest in Kherson yesterday underlines that resistance remains despite increasing crackdowns. Russian sources have furthermore reported that referenda in Luhansk and Donetsk are expected to take place on 14-15 May on whether to join the Russian Federation. This would be the clearest indication yet that conquered territory in Ukraine will be incorporated into Russia as part of Novorossiya.
- In Transnistria, the situation remains very tense as further false-flag operations remain likely in the coming days, potentially including a missile strike which will be blamed on Ukraine. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Transnistrian Ministry of Defence distributed letters to regional administrations indicating the need for all men under the age of 55 to take part in special military training. The letters were reportedly sent out on 21 April, indicating that a decision to move towards mobilisation had been made prior to the attacks earlier this week, aligning once again with previous precedents in the Donbas prior to the invasion. While ostensibly voluntary, the de facto conscription would likely be widely enforced and will thus provide both Moscow and Tiraspol with additional forces in the region. Given numerous referenda are expected in the Donbas, Kherson, and even potentially South Ossetia in Georgia in the coming weeks, similar processes could yet be organised in Transnistria that would further destabilise the situation.
- Following the US-led Ramstein summit earlier this week, President Putin warned the West of “lightning-fast retaliation” if countries intervened in Ukraine. Putin alleged that the West seeks to carve Russia up into pieces and underscored that Moscow would not hesitate to use the most modern weapons systems in response to such a strategic threat. The threats came as both the UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated that the UK is doubling down on its support for Ukraine, with Wallace in particular implying that London intends to support Ukraine in reclaiming all its territory – including Crimea.
- Such statements underpin the rapid shift in Western policy towards the war in Ukraine and will play into Kremlin paranoia over NATO intervention and reinforce the rising risk of escalation and conflict spill over. While the war in Ukraine has split Russian public opinion, the 2014 annexation of Crimea was by contrast almost universally popular, with Crimea considered intrinsic Russian territory by the Kremlin. Perceptions and suggestions that NATO states such as the UK intend to help Ukraine reclaim Crimea are thus highly escalatory as Russian CBRN doctrine warrants first use tactical nuclear weapons if faced with an existential threat to Russian territory.
- Russian state media has furthermore increasingly been broadcasting stories about the likelihood of a nuclear escalation and “World War III” over the war in Ukraine in recent days, indicating that nuclear escalation is now entering mainstream debate in Russia in response to the uptick in NATO support for Ukraine. Nuclear posturing and demonstrations of Russian capability against Ukraine are thus increasingly likely, particularly if further NATO states indicate intentions to facilitate Ukraine in retaking post-2014 occupied territory.
- Ukraine: Government agencies and critical infrastructure to remain the most at-risk as Moscow increases coordination between cyber attacks and military operations. On 27 April, Microsoft claimed to have detected at least six separate Russian state-linked threat actors launching more than 237 cyber operations against Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in late February. These attacks have entailed a wide range of activities, including destructive attacks, such as data wipers, and “broad espionage and intelligence activities” against various targets, including NATO member states. Microsoft’s investigation revealed that 32 percent of the attacks recorded were targeted against Ukrainian government organisations and over 40 percent at Ukraine’s critical infrastructure operators. Microsoft’s findings further confirm the Security Service of Ukraine’s (SBU) 14 February disclosure that Ukraine is being targeted by an ongoing Moscow-directed “wave of hybrid warfare” (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 15 February 2022). Microsoft claimed that the timing of these cyber attacks closely matched Moscow’s conventional military activity in Ukraine. As such, there is a high likelihood of further such cyber activity being launched in coordination with Russia’s military activities in the Donbas to undermine Kyiv’s defensive capabilities. Ukrainian government agencies and critical infrastructure, such as telecoms, will remain primary targets for these attacks.
- Greece: Government puts ‘countermeasures’ in place against possible Russian gas flow cut, highlighting wider energy instability risks across Europe. On 27 April, Greek government spokesperson, Giannis Oikonomou, stated that Greece’s government had put in place measures to ensure gas will not be shut off in the event of a Russian freeze on gas exports. Greece, which is facing a severe cost-of-living crisis compounded by the escalating energy crisis across Europe, is reliant upon Russia for approximately 40% of its annual energy expenditure. The government has not yet formally confirmed whether it will comply with a Russian ultimatum to pay for energy exports in rubles, although with the next payment to the Russian government due on 20 May, it appears unlikely that Greece will comply with the Russian demand. There is therefore a substantial risk that Russia will in some form seek to limit gas flows to Greece, in keeping with its decision to do the same with Poland and Bulgaria, both of whom refuse to meet the Kremlin’s demand. The risk of energy instability will therefore be elevated over coming weeks for firms operating in Greece.
- Ukraine: Government agencies and critical infrastructure to remain the most at-risk as Moscow increases coordination between cyber attacks and military operations. On 27 April, Microsoft claimed to have detected at least six separate Russian state-linked threat actors launching more than 237 cyber operations against Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in late February. These attacks have entailed a wide range of activities, including destructive attacks, such as data wipers, and “broad espionage and intelligence activities” against various targets, including NATO member states. Microsoft’s investigation revealed that 32 percent of the attacks recorded were targeted against Ukrainian government organisations and over 40 percent at Ukraine’s critical infrastructure operators. Microsoft’s findings further confirm the Security Service of Ukraine’s (SBU) 14 February disclosure that Ukraine is being targeted by an ongoing Moscow-directed “wave of hybrid warfare” (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 15 February 2022). Microsoft claimed that the timing of these cyber attacks closely matched Moscow’s conventional military activity in Ukraine. As such, there is a high likelihood of further such cyber activity being launched in coordination with Russia’s military activities in the Donbas to undermine Kyiv’s defensive capabilities. Ukrainian government agencies and critical infrastructure, such as telecoms, will remain primary targets for these attacks. (Source: Sibylline)
28 Apr 22. Joe Biden asked Congress to provide $33bn in additional security, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, a sweeping request suggesting Washington is braced for the possibility of a protracted conflict. The substantial provision of new funds, which are expected to last until September, comes as Washington is taking an increasingly assertive approach to the war, expanding the scope and amount of lethal aid to Ukraine it has provided in recent weeks. “As long as the assaults and atrocities continue, we’re going to provide military assistance,” Biden said on Thursday. He added that the US has mostly exhausted previous funding allocated by Congress, necessitating the new request. The latest funding would be more than double the $13.6bn Congress approved for Ukraine in March, suggesting that the White House anticipates the war could continue for months to come. “It’s not cheap but caving to aggression is going to be more costly as we allow it to happen,” he said. “We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine.” Biden said the new package “begins the transition to longer-term security assistance”. Of the $33bn, $20.4bn will be used for security and military assistance, including $5bn more to send weapons from American stockpiles, $6bn for security assistance and $4bn for the state department’s foreign military financing programme. The White House said the funds will support the provision of additional artillery, armoured vehicles, cyber capabilities and air defences as well as efforts to clear landmines and improvised explosive devices. They will also support US troop deployments in Nato territory. The US also plans to provide $8.5bn in economic aid for Ukraine’s government and $3bn in humanitarian aid to address food security and people displaced by the war. (Source: FT.com)
28 Apr 22. Russia appears to be using mine clearance tools to strike Ukraine. Tools designed to save lives are being misused, footage released by Russia appears to show.
Footage released by Russia’s defence ministry appears to show buildings in eastern Ukraine being targeted by Russian troops using equipment designed to clear minefields and protect life.
The UR-77 Meteorit, normally called into action when troops need to cross dangerous land, is shown in the Russian footage seemingly being misused to destroy buildings.
The system is similar to the UK’s Python, slinging a line charge (a rope rigged with high explosives) hundreds of metres ahead. When it lands flat and detonates, it wipes out any IEDs with it and clears a straight-line route for vehicles and troops.
If used correctly, civilians living in conflict zones can also benefit from safer routes outside of their homes.
However, the Russian footage from Rubizhne, Luhansk, appears to show a more concentrated blast radius, suggesting the clearance tool has been manipulated to destroy more localised targets, rather than just creating longer and thinner paths toward them.
28 Apr 22. Truss: West must ‘double down’ support for Ukraine and supply tanks and warplanes.
Liz Truss says Western allies need to be “digging deep” into their inventories, adding “the fate of Ukraine remains in the balance”.
The West must be prepared for the “long haul” to ensure Russia’s defeat in Ukraine, the Foreign Secretary has said.
In a major speech, Liz Truss made calls for allies to increase defence spending and supply tanks and warplanes to Kyiv.
Ms Truss argued that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shows the need for a shake-up of the international structures which failed to prevent Russia’s actions.
She said Western allies need to impose even tougher economic sanctions to increase Russia’s isolation, including cutting off oil and gas imports “once and for all”.
“There must be nowhere for Putin to go to fund this appalling war,” she said in a speech at the Mansion House in the City of London on Wednesday night.
In a call to Western allies, she said: “We cannot be complacent – the fate of Ukraine remains in the balance.
“And let’s be clear – if Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again.
“So we must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine.
“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this.”
She added: “We will keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace later reinforced the Foreign Secretary’s view that Russian forces must be pushed out of “the whole of Ukraine”, saying Britain would support Ukrainians in “both diplomatic efforts or military efforts”.
Asked if the UK would help Ukraine win back its territory, the Defence Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re prepared to help Ukraine stand by its sovereignty and defend itself however long that may take.
“There is no difference in the position of the United Kingdom since 2014, which is when Ukraine as a sovereign nation was invaded both in Crimea… and Donetsk.
“That needs to stop, that needs to be reversed.”
In her speech, Ms Truss added that the UK will need to “learn the lessons of Ukraine.”
“The UK sent weapons and trained Ukrainian troops long before the war started,” she said.
“But the world should have done more to deter the invasion. We will never make that same mistake again.
“Some argue we shouldn’t provide heavy weapons for fear of provoking something worse.
“But my view, is that inaction would be the greatest provocation. This is a time for courage not for caution.”
Dominic Raab was non-committal on Wednesday when asked if the Foreign Secretary was right to say that the West should supply warplanes to Ukraine.
The Deputy Prime Minister also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I certainly don’t think we should be… avoiding providing support to Ukraine at this critical moment in the war. And the Foreign Secretary is right about that.”
Pressed on whether she was right about providing the planes specifically, he said: “We need to listen very carefully to what the Ukrainians need and help with our allies to provide them with the military support, so that they win and so that [Vladimir] Putin loses, and that’s part of it, so is the sanctions.”
28 Apr 22. Russia uses Kalibr missiles to destroy arms depot in Ukraine. Russia has used Kalibr missiles to destroy an arms depot in Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing the Russian defence ministry.
The depot is located in the Zaporizhzhia region and was said to contain weaponry supplied by Western countries.
The ministry said that Russian forces destroyed hangers housing ‘a large batch of foreign weapons and ammunition’ supplied to Ukraine by the US and other European countries.
The ministry did not specify the types of weapons that were stored in the hangers. Reuters could not independently verify the missile strikes.
This comes after Russia warned the US and other countries that delivering military aid to Ukraine will escalate the ongoing conflict.
Since Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, the Western countries have been supplying Ukraine with essential military aid. This has included the delivery of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, drones, ammunition, and other types of armaments.
Last week, the US approved an $800m defensive aid package for the embattled country. This included howitzers, tactical vehicles, drones and other equipment, and spare parts.
US Pentagon press secretary John F Kirby said that the weapons delivered to Ukraine are having an impact on the battlefields and are helping the forces to fend off Russian aggression.
He added that more than half of the US howitzers are currently in Ukraine.
The first group of Ukrainian troops were already trained to operate the system. These soldiers will go back to Ukraine and train other troops.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK will ship additional military aid. (Source: army-technology.com)
28 Apr 22. Russia uses Kalibr missiles to destroy arms depot in Ukraine. Russia has used Kalibr missiles to destroy an arms depot in Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing the Russian defence ministry. The depot is located in the Zaporizhzhia region and was said to contain weaponry supplied by Western countries. The ministry said that Russian forces destroyed hangers housing ‘a large batch of foreign weapons and ammunition’ supplied to Ukraine by the US and other European countries. The ministry did not specify the types of weapons that were stored in the hangers. Reuters could not independently verify the missile strikes. This comes after Russia warned the US and other countries that delivering military aid to Ukraine will escalate the ongoing conflict. Since Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, the Western countries have been supplying Ukraine with essential military aid. This has included the delivery of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, drones, ammunition, and other types of armaments. Last week, the US approved an $800m defensive aid package for the embattled country. This included howitzers, tactical vehicles, drones and other equipment, and spare parts. US Pentagon press secretary John F Kirby said that the weapons delivered to Ukraine are having an impact on the battlefields and are helping the forces to fend off Russian aggression. He added that more than half of the US howitzers are currently in Ukraine. The first group of Ukrainian troops were already trained to operate the system. These soldiers will go back to Ukraine and train other troops. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK will ship additional military aid. (Source: army-technology.com)
28 Apr 22. Vladimir Putin could dig in like a ‘cancerous growth’ in Ukraine, Ben Wallace warns. Vladimir Putin could seek to consolidate Russia’s territorial gains in Ukraine and dig in like a “cancerous growth”, Ben Wallace has warned.
“You can see in his current statements he is, in almost desperation, trying to broaden this either with threats or indeed, with potential false flags or attacks,” the Defence Secretary told Sky News.
“I think it’s certainly the case that Putin, having failed in nearly all his objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got, sort of fortify and dig in as he did in 2014.
“Just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country in Ukraine and make it very hard for people to move them out of those fortified positions.”
Mr Wallace’s comments came after the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson was rocked by a series of explosions on Wednesday night.
Missiles and rockets were fired into the city by Ukrainian forces, Russian media reported. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
28 Apr 22. Ukraine can attack Russian logistics under international law, Wallace says. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it would be legitimate for Ukrainian forces to target Russian logistics, but if they did so they would be unlikely to be using British weapons.
“If Ukraine did choose to target logistics infrastructure for the Russian army, that would be legitimate under international law,” Mr Wallace told BBC TV.
“They currently don’t have British weapons that could do that, so it is unlikely that it is our weapons. We don’t really have many long range weapons that are delivered in the way their army does.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
28 Apr 22. Air defence activated in Russia’s Belgorod, TASS reports. Air defence systems were active in the Russian city of Belgorod in the early hours of Thursday, the TASS news agency cited the local government as saying.
The Belgorod province borders Ukraine’s Luhansk, Sumy and Kharkiv regions, all of which have seen heavy fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine two months ago. Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out strikes on targets in the region. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
27 Apr 22. Equipment Sent to Ukraine Having an Effect on Battlefields. The equipment being sent to Ukraine is having an effect on the battlefield, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today.
The equipment is making a difference on the battle lines in the Donbas region — the site of the major Russian effort in Ukraine.
Kirby, who just returned from a trip with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to Europe, said the fight in the Donbas is active and kinetic. Ukrainian officials told Austin that the equipment — coming from 40 different countries — is allowing Ukrainian forces to hold their own against the Russian invasion.
In Europe, Austin said the United States and partner nations will continue to get the equipment and supplies the Ukrainians need to the country, Kirby said.
Munitions continue to flow into Ukraine, as well as weapon systems. Kirby said that more than half of the U.S. howitzers are in Ukraine today and that the first tranche of Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in how to use the operation of that system. Those soldiers will go back to Ukraine and teach their fellow soldiers as those batteries stand up.
What Ukraine’s military needs changes day to day, Kirby said, and U.S. officials are in constant contact with them to ensure the right mix arrives in time to make a difference.
“We know they’re expending rounds, every single day, of all different types and calibers,” Kirby said. “And we’re doing everything we can to continue to make sure that they can stay fight.”
Austin chaired a meeting of nations involved in supporting Ukraine at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Over two months into the war in Ukraine, these partners are examining the vitality of the defense industrial base. They are doing this “because we know whatever happens here, and however this war ends, the security landscape in Europe has changed: Not is changing, not will change. It’s changed now based on what Putin has done,” Kirby said.
This change affects U.S. service members as well. Secretary Austin ordered thousands of personnel to Europe to strengthen NATO forces in advance of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Those forces are still there. The American footprint in Europe is now well over 100,000 service members with some permanently assigned there, others on rotational orders and some on temporary deployments. There have been no redeployments back to the United States, Kirby said.
“We’re still working our way through what that’s going to look like coming months,” he said.
Secretary Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, look at force posture around the world every day. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the strategic environment. While there hasn’t been a decision yet on redeployments or replacements for troops ordered to Europe, there are discussions within DOD on what the U.S. footprint in Europe should look like, Kirby said.
The press secretary said DOD officials will also reach out to allies and partners for their input. “Those kinds of consultations haven’t started yet, but I can tell you that the secretary wants us to start thinking about what a European footprint should look like, again, because the landscape has definitely changed.” (Source: US DoD)
28 Apr 22. Putin warns West of lightning retaliation for intervention in Ukraine.
- Putin warns of retaliation if West interferes
- Biden set to comment on Russia’s ‘brutal war’
- Ukraine says Europe should stop depending on Russia
- France to host EU energy ministers on May 2
- Russia denies energy blackmail
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of lightning-fast retaliation if countries interfere in Ukraine, while U.S. President Joe Biden was set to comment on Thursday in support of Ukraine’s fight against “Russia’s brutal war”.
Russia has told the United States to stop sending arms to Ukraine, saying large Western deliveries of weapons were inflaming the conflict.
Addressing lawmakers in St Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin said the West wanted to cut Russia up into different pieces and accused it of pushing Ukraine into conflict with Russia.
“If someone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside, and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast,” said Putin, according to video of his address supplied by Russian media.
“We have all the tools for this, things no one else can boast of having now. And we will not boast, we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know that.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24 and has reduced towns and cities to rubble and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad.
Western countries have responded with sanctions and weapons for Ukraine to fight a war that has brought fears of wider conflict in the West, unthought-of for decades.
Russia calls its intervention a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West says this a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression by Putin.
Biden will deliver remarks on Thursday in support of “Ukrainians defending their country and their freedom against Russia’s brutal war”, the White House said.
While Russia presses its military assault in eastern and southern Ukraine, its economic battle with the West threatens gas supplies to Europe and is battering the Russian economy as it struggles with the worst crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine said Europe should stop depending on Russia for trade after it halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for not paying in roubles.
“The sooner everyone in Europe recognises that they cannot depend on Russia for trade, the sooner it will be possible to guarantee stability in European markets,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said late on Wednesday.
Germany, the biggest buyer of Russian energy, hopes to stop importing Russian oil within days but warned that a Russian energy embargo or blockade would tip Europe’s largest economy into recession. read more
Gazprom (GAZP.MM), Russia’s gas export monopoly, suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday for not paying in roubles, a move aimed to soften the impact of sanctions.
While the president of the European Commission said Gazprom’s suspension was “yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail”.
France will host a meeting of EU energy ministers on May 2.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia remained a reliable energy supplier and denied it was engaging in blackmail. He declined to say how many countries had agreed to pay for gas in roubles.
Sanctions are taking a heavy toll on Russia, with its economy ministry indicating in a document the economy could shrink by as much as 12.4% this year. read more
Canadian lawmakers voted unanimously on Wednesday to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide”, with members of parliament saying there was “ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Russia.
Canada’s parliament said in a motion Russia’s war crimes included mass atrocities, wilful killing of civilians, the desecration of corpses, forcible transfer of children, torture, physical and mental harm, and rape. read more
Russia denies targeting civilians.
Since the Russian invasion force was driven back at the outskirts of Kyiv last month, Moscow has refocused its operation on eastern Ukraine, starting a new offensive to fully capture two provinces known as the Donbas.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets, despite its losses of the landing ship Saratov and the cruiser Moskva, Britain’s defence ministry said.
About 20 Russian navy vessels, including submarines, are in the Black Sea operational zone, the ministry said on Twitter.
Reuters could not immediately verify the report.
Ukraine said Russian forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a pro-Ukraine rally in Kherson, the first big city it has seized. A series of powerful explosions caused by rockets hit Kherson later on Wednesday, Ria News agency reported. read more
Blasts were heard earlier in three Russian provinces bordering Ukraine, authorities said, and an ammunition depot in the Belgorod province caught fire. read more
Kyiv has not confirmed responsibility for these and other incidents but has described them as payback. “Karma is a cruel thing,” presidential adviser Mikhaylo Podolyak wrote on social media.
An aide to the mayor of the ruined port city of Mariupol said Russian forces had renewed their attacks on the Azovstal steel plant, where fighters and some civilians remain holed up.
Concern has also increased over the prospect of the conflict widening to neighbouring Moldova, where pro-Russian separatists have blamed Ukraine for reported attacks this week in their region, occupied since the 1990s by Russian troops. (Source: Reuters)
27 Apr 22. Putin threatens retaliation against Ukraine’s allies if they intervene in war. Vladimir Putin has vowed to “fulfil all the tasks” of his invasion of Ukraine “without condition” and threatened Kyiv’s allies with retaliation if they intervene.
Countries “that get it into their heads to meddle in ongoing events from the side and create unacceptable strategic threats for Russia, they must know that our response to counterpunches will be lightning-quick,” Russia’s president said in a speech to lawmakers on Wednesday.
Putin said Moscow had “all the instruments for this, ones nobody else can boast of now,” in an apparent reference to recent Russian tests of hypersonic and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear payloads and are particularly difficult for anti-air systems to intercept.
“We will use them, if the situation calls for it. And I want everyone to know,” Putin said. “All decisions on this matter have been taken.”
Putin said western attempts to “economically strangle Russia” through sanctions had failed. He claimed Russian troops had prevented “a real danger of . . . a major conflict that would have unfolded on our territory according to other people’s scripts” by invading Ukraine.
He said the west wanted to use Ukraine as a platform to attack Russia through the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and the separatist-held eastern Donbas border region. (Source: FT.com)
26 Apr 22. USMC unit and radar deploy to Lithuania for Nato operations. The deployment will provide air defence, surveillance, and traffic control support. The US Marine Corps (USMC) has deployed an AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) along with one of its units to Lithuania. The deployment is in support of the Nato’s enduring Air Policing mission. It is also the first time USMC has deployed its unit to support the operation. Throughout the deployment, the unit will provide air defence, radar surveillance, multi-domain command and control, air traffic control and other communications support. US Marines will use the G/ATOR, a next generation air surveillance, air defence and air traffic control (ATC) radar, to conduct air domain awareness and air surveillance during the mission. The newest AN/TPS-80 is a multi-role, medium-range radar, which uses active scanning to build an airspace picture for the controllers. Developed by Northrop Grumman, the radar will also provide detailed real-time situational awareness to counter several airborne threats. USMC deployed unit commanding officer colonel Michael McCarthy said: “This deployment highlights the expeditionary character of our marines and the command-and-control systems they employ such as the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR.
“With little notice and a light footprint, we were able to seamlessly move from training in an arctic, maritime environment to the Baltics; reassuring allies and immediately contributing to USAFE and Nato operations.”
Before the deployment to Lithuania, the USMC unit participated in the Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response 22 (CR 22). The exercise witnessed the participation of Nato allies and partner nations to train together in extreme cold weather conditions on land, in the air, and at sea. (Source: naval-technology.com)