Ukraine Conflict Update – April 08
Military and hard security developments
- The Ukrainian governor of the north-eastern Sumy oblast stated today, 8 April, that Ukrainian forces had now regained control of the entire oblast’s border with Russia, indicating that the Russian withdrawal from north Ukraine has now been completed. UK defence intelligence also confirmed the withdrawal, stating that much of the forces withdrawn will need extensive replenishment before being redeployed to the Donbas, which the UK anticipates could take “at least a week minimum”. Russian forces continue to mass in the region, though very little progress has been made in the last 24 hours despite reconnaissance operations south of Izyum and fighting in the Severodonetsk salient. The lull in progress may be an indication of Russian preparations ahead of a general offensive in the region, which is likely to be launched in the next few days.
- Numerous other long-range strikes have taken place overnight, including against Odesa oblast, reportedly causing damage to local infrastructure but details remain limited. Local authorities also reported a missile strike in Novohrad-Volynsky in Zhytomyr oblast. However, the most serious and notable strikes took place overnight and this morning against railway infrastructure in the Donbas. Tochka-U ballistic missiles were deployed to target railway lines as well as a railway station in the town of Kramatorsk, which had been full of civilians trying to evacuate at the time. At least 39 have been confirmed dead, with the Russians denying they launched the attack. The strike indicates Russian forces are now prioritising degrading rail infrastructure in a bid to disrupt Ukrainian reinforcements of the region and supplies ahead of their expected offensive in the coming days. Given the local authorities’ calls for all civilians to evacuate the region, the designation of railway infrastructure as a key military target will increase the risk of further civilian trains being hit in the coming days.
- US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed yesterday, 7 April, that the US is providing Ukraine with intelligence to assist in carrying out attacks against Russian forces, specifically in the Donbas. While understood to have been the case since the invasion started in February, the official acknowledgement will likely drive tensions still further between Russia and NATO, particularly as more countries state their intentions to transfer armoured vehicles and heavy weapons to Ukraine.
- The US confirmed on 7 April the total number of weapons provided to Ukraine since the invasion began, including: 1,400 stinger anti-aircraft systems; 5,000 Javelin anti-tank weapons; over 7,000 small arms; 50 million rounds of ammunition; and various other types of military equipment. The European Union’s foreign policy chief has furthermore confirmed that the bloc will provide an additional EUR 500 million in military aid to Ukraine, reflecting a surge in Western military assistance in recent days. The government of Slovakia has furthermore confirmed that they have provided Ukraine with S-300 air defence systems. Following the NATO summit in Brussels yesterday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the war in Ukraine could last years, indicating a renewed readiness amongst Western leaders to arm Ukraine for a protracted conflict. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly delayed a decision on whether to supply Ukraine with tanks, postponing a decision which had been expected this week and underlining Berlin’s continued reticence to expand military support for Ukraine.
Diplomatic and strategic developments
- Rusal, Russian aluminium giant founded by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska publicly called for an impartial investigation into the Bucha war crimes and an end to the conflict in Ukraine, becoming the first Russian company to publicly do so. The development follows an official confirmation by the EU on 7 April to ban Russian coal imports, with Japan also reportedly considering similar measures, marking a change in position for Tokyo. As such, the likelihood of Russian aluminium and steel being next on the sanctions list is increasing, which would further put pressure on the oligarchs as the threat of expanding the ban into other Russian commodities is brought onto the table. To that end, the pressure to break rank with Putin will continue to grow, however, in line with our previous assessment, an oligarch revolt is currently unlikely.
- In a major diplomatic blow, the United Nations General Assembly voted on 7 April to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council as a result of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, marking the first time one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council has been stripped of its membership privileges in any UN organisation. The development is likely to trigger a retaliation from Moscow amid an already all-time-low diplomatic relations with the West, though the number of abstentions and votes opposing the measure does indicate dozens of countries continue to tacitly support Russia or remain committed to maintaining a neutral stance on the war.
- In a notable development, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated during an interview with Sky News on 7 April that Russia had suffered “significant losses” in Ukraine, which he described as a “tragedy”. While he did not provide a figure for military casualties, the comment marks the first major acknowledgement that military casualties are likely to be much higher than the official total – the last figures of which stood at 1,351 dead and 3,825 wounded on 25 March. Such statements could be intended to prepare the population for higher casualty figures, though underreporting of casualties will likely continue for the foreseeable future, and the true number of military deaths may never be confirmed.
- On 7 April, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto stated that the Finnish government will likely apply for NATO membership “in the coming weeks” with a view to join the alliance by summer 2022. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has seen public opinion polls in Finland on NATO membership reverse substantially in recent weeks, with the majority now favouring accession to the alliance. Finland takes the prospect of Russian aggression very seriously, sharing a 1,300-kilometre border with Russia, and although the likelihood of imminent aggression against Finland is comparatively lower as Russia continues its invasion of Ukrainian territory, an escalated risk of ‘overspill’ in the conflict remains present – particularly as Moscow had previously warned of ‘military-technical measures’ if Helsinki moved towards NATO membership. Indeed, following the announcement the Finnish newspaper Nelsingin Sanomat reported that Finland’s Foreign and Defence ministries had suffered a denial-of-service cyber attack on their websites, illustrating the growing risk of further Russian retaliation. Should Finland join NATO, it will increase regional tensions with Russia, which has warned that its western flank will be “upgraded and made more sophisticated in capability” in the event of Finnish accession to NATO.
- Pro-Russian operations increase in frequency; continued focus on Western government agencies and military forces
- On 8 April, tech giant Microsoft Corp reported in a blog post that it has disrupted “attacks targeting Ukrainian entities from Strontium” a Russian military intelligence (GRU) linked actor, also known as Fancy Bear or APT28, following its receipt of court authorisation to “take control of seven internet domains Strontium was using to conduct these attacks”. Microsoft since re-directed domain traffic to a company-controlled server, also known as a “sinkhole”, to mitigate Strontium’s domain use and preventing it from using the infrastructure to continue targeting Ukrainian media organisations and Western foreign policy think tanks and government bodies. According to reports by Microsoft, Strontium was likely aiming to “establish long-term access to the systems of its targets” and “exfiltrate sensitive information”.
- On 7 April, Meta Platforms, Inc., parent company of social media giant Facebook, released a 27-page report detailing its disruption of “several covert influence operations targeting Ukrainians”, which include an operation, dubbed Ghostwriter, which attempted to hack into the Facebook accounts of Ukrainian military personnel. Facebook Head of Security Police Nathanial Gleicher reported that Facebook continues to deal with operations led by actors operating in the interests of and with affiliations to the Belarusian and Russian governments. The report comes as Meta continues to combat efforts by Russian authorities to spread propaganda about the Ukraine conflict, including leveraging blame against Western nations for alleged culpability in the war.
- On 6 April, officials from the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) revealed that the US government had interdicted a Russian military hacking operation in a pre-emptive strike. After securing legal authorisation, the FBI’s Cyber Division and the Justice Department launched targeted a large botnet comprising thousands of infected devices allegedly controlled by operatives linked to the Russian GRU-run group Sandworm. Through this operation, the US government was able to hijack the botnet and regain control of affected systems from Russian hackers. Sandworm is a sophisticated hacking group and is routinely deployed by the GRU. Washington’s revelation comes as Russia and the West are engaging in an intensifying information war over competing narratives around the Ukraine conflict. Pro-Ukraine hackers’ tactics expand further; Russia-based entities exposed to data-wiper threat
- On 8 April, Twitter accounts allegedly linked to hacking group Network Battalion 65 (NB65) claimed that the collective has gained access to security camera footage in the “Rodina”, the Russian term for “motherland”. In the video footage, tagged as “Hacked by NB65”, the group warns Moscow that they are developing their capabilities.
- On 7 April, the Twitter account of the reported co-founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), whistleblowing media collective, claimed that the group had “just published over 400,000 emails from Russian…datasets provided by” the Anonymous group. These emails are alleged to include “well over 100,000 emails from the oil, gas and logging industries”. This reported release brings the total number of DDoSecrets publications since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to over two million.
- On 7 April, Twitter accounts allegedly linked to the Anonymous network claimed that the group had hacked the websites of the ROOPSVOD “regional public organisation” in Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. In separate posts, the Twitter accounts released purported screenshots of the front page of each website, replaced with the Anonymous Guy Fawkes logo and the Ukrainian flag. The duration of the alleged incident is unknown, though both websites have returned to their usual front pages as of 8 April.
In recent weeks, Russia’s cyber activity has continued to increase, marking a contrast to the early stages of the Ukraine conflict. Russian state threat actors, including Sandworm, have been active in complimenting Moscow’s military operations by targeting Ukrainian entities, especially critical services such as water and energy infrastructure. The FBI’s decision to launch an pre-emptive offensive cyber campaign reflects a shift towards a proactive confrontation of Russian groups by the US government.The move follows sustained warnings by US federal agencies to Western organisations to strengthen their cyber resilience, with the need for such measures further highlighted by Microsoft’s disruption of Strontium, targeting Western think tanks and government agencies in addition to Ukrainian media organisations. Additional pre-emptive strikes are possible in the coming weeks as the West ramps up pressure on Moscow following revelations of apparent war crime atrocities committed by Russian troops. The strike will perpetuate the tit-for-tat cyber conflict between the two countries, with Russian threat actors now increasing.
Pro-Ukraine hacking groups continue to escalate their cyber targeting tactics, though fewer attacks and data leaks were reported over this monitoring period compared with the previous period. Hackers such as the Network Battalion 65′ and Anonymous launched cyber operations targeting Russian security cameras, state-affiliated websites and critical sectors. Anonymous remains an active and effective pro-Ukraine hacking group, collaborating closely with whistleblowing media outlet DDoSecrets, reportedly targeting Russia’s oil, gas and logging industries over the monitoring period. The group likely selected the industries for alleged targeting due to their contribution to Russia’s economy and associated ties with the government, as part of broader efforts to oppose and disrupt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, condemnation from the international community following revelations of Moscow’s reported war crimes against Bucha residents is likely to contribute to an intensification in cyber attacks targeting Russian military entities in the coming week. This is highlighted by the Anonymous group’s purported work to identify members of Unit 51460 of the 64 Motor Rifle Brigade members, Russian troops who reportedly played a key role in the massacre of civilians in Bucha. The members were targeted by Anonymous in a data leak over the previous monitoring period, with the group likely to persist in effort to publicly expose members (see Sibylline Biweekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 8 April 2022).
Economic/business environment developments
- On 8 April the Russian Central Bank lowered the key interest rate to 17% from its historic high of 20%. The decision to lower the rate came after the ruble recovered its pre-invasion value on 7 April, indicating a slight easing of the financial and economic turbulence since the beginning of the invasion. The Central Bank acknowledged that the economic situation remains extremely difficult, but further reductions in the rate remain possible in the coming weeks. The next meeting of the Central Bank’s Board of Directors is scheduled for 29 April, where a decision will be made whether rates will be reduced still further or not.
- Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal, said that he anticipates this year’s grain harvest to be 20% less than in 2021 due to a reduced sowing area after Russia’s invasion. The announcement came as global food prices reached a new high, rising at their fastest monthly rate in over 14 years. The UN food price index has food prices jumping by 34% compared to this time last year, its third record high in a row. With Ukraine and Russia remaining dominant food exporters, particularly of wheat and vegetable oils, the trend will exacerbate growing food insecurity across the planet as the ongoing war disrupts Ukraine’s ability to export goods. This in turn will drive government stability and domestic unrest risks worldwide, particularly in countries that remain heavily reliant upon food imports, with the political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka illustrative of the potential for food inflation to exacerbate latent instability in food insecure regions.
- On 7 April, member states of the European Union adopted a new sanctions package in the wake of allegations of Russian war crimes in Kyiv oblast. The new package bans the import of Russian coal from August 2022 in order to let current contracts expire, and bans Russian vessels from European ports as well as Russian and Belarussian road hauliers from the EU. The new sanctions also introduce a EUR 10 billion export ban on goods and freeze the assets of several Russian banks. This is the first time the EU is targeting the Russian energy sector, although the introduction of further sanctions against the Russian energy sector seems unlikely due to some member states’, including Hungary’s, opposition to a ban on Russian oil and gas.
- Considering the withdrawal of Russian troops from around Kyiv, the security situation in and around the capital is likely to see a moderate improvement as of 8 April. The H01/P01 and the P32 remain the safest routes out of Kyiv. Emergency services announced on 7 April that they have cleared the westbound E40 of explosives and reopened it to traffic between Kyiv and Zhytomyr, although some social media reports indicate that the highway is not entirely cleared at the time of reporting on 8 April. Demining operations are taking place along the E373 by Ukrainian forces, therefore, security threats along this route remain higher than along southbound routes. The south-west E95 and the P04 remain unsafe as well following missile strikes in the vicinity of Fastiv and air raid warnings in Vinnytsia over the past week.
- It is highly likely that ad-hoc checkpoints and stop-and-search checks by Ukrainian units continue to take place routes northwest and east of Kyiv. These are likely conducted in order to identify potential Russian fifth columnists/saboteurs and remaining Russian units. Ukrainian units conducting these checks are believed to be operating on capture/kill orders. As such, those seeking to leave/enter Kyiv should treat such checks with due caution.
- Air raid warnings across western Ukraine – notably in Khmelnytskyi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv – highlights the spread of the conflict into western Ukraine as Russian ground forces withdraw from around Kyiv, therefore, safety cannot be guaranteed on any westbound evacuation routes at present.
- The risk of a Russian air strike, missile attack or bomb attack on the western Ukrainian city of Uzhorod increased significantly on 8 April following the announcement by Slovakia that it is donating its S-300 air defence system to Ukraine. The Slovakian MOD has stated in March that it has actionable intelligence on the targeting of Uzhorod International Airport by Russian assets and advised extreme caution around the airport. The agreement by the Slovakian MOD to acquire the US PATRIOT missile system – thereby allowing it to transfer the S-300 missile defence system to Ukraine – will likely trigger a retaliatory move by Russia on Uzhorod.
- The Russian missile attack on the train station in Kramatorsk on 8 April highlights that security risks to evacuations and humanitarian corridors are now extremely high in eastern Ukraine and it is highly likely that Russia will step up its attacks on civilian and transport infrastructures in eastern Ukraine as Moscow is refocusing on the Donbas.
The deadly strike on Kramatorsk train station, which killed at least 39 civilians, represented one of the deadliest single strikes since the beginning of the invasion and is highly likely to further undermine the already faltering peace talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s accusations yesterday that the Ukrainians had changed their demands since last month’s talks in Istanbul further illustrate the lowering likelihood of a diplomatic peace agreement or ceasefire in the short term.
The trajectory and timeline for an end to the war will remain highly contingent upon Russia’s offensive in the Donbas, which is expected to be launched in the coming days. If Russia’s offensive sees rapid progress, the Kremlin could announce an end to its “special military operation” by Victory Day on 9 May, but if not, the war could transition into a much longer and drawn-out battle of attrition, with Russian objectives to “denazify and demilitarise” the country sustaining the conflict over the coming months. Indeed, Western leaders are increasingly entertaining the prospect of a much longer war fought out over many months. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has now stated that the war in Ukraine could last years, indicating increased readiness amongst Western leaders to arm Ukraine with heavier weapons systems for a protracted conflict.
- There have continued to be comparatively few battlefield movements as both sides focus on the coming fighting in the Donbas. Russian reconnaissance has continued south of Izyum, with further BTGs being moved to this area. Elements of Eastern Military District forces withdrawn from north of Kyiv have been identified moving to this region, further confirming this is likely to be the main effort. Separatist attacks on Popasna and Rubizhne, south and north of Severodonetsk, have continued as have artillery and air strikes along the whole line of contact in Donbas.
- Fighting continues in Mariupol, with a focus on the Azovstal works east of the river mouth. Russian claims of victory continue to be overstated, although the interdiction of previous daring – and long undetected – helicopter resupply and evacuation efforts is increasingly taking a toll on the defence.
- As anticipated, Russian missiles have increasingly targeted railway infrastructure in Donbas. Overnight and this morning, facilities were struck in: Barvinkove (the immediate objective of forces from Izyum, in the north of the Donbas salient); Pokrovsk, in the south of the salient; and around the city of Slovyansk. The most notable attack was by what appears to have been two Tochka-U ballistic missiles on the railway station in Kramatorsk, which was full of civilians evacuating from Donbas at the time, following Kyiv’s earlier call for all to depart. At least 30 are so far reported killed.
- The Tochka is less accurate than the newer and longer ranged Iskander, but Russia has pulled stocks of these out of reserve in part for shorter ranged operations and against larger targets. These are much more likely to be used in Donbas with launchers possibly redeployed from Belarus. The missile also has the advantage that it is the only type in use by Ukrainian forces, meaning that Russia can more easily attribute these strikes as “false flags” if it wishes.
- A missile stage pictured at the scene has the message “for the children” on it, implying revenge. This will almost certainly fuel a narrative that this was a Ukrainian missile that was shot down or failed, if not deliberately fired at the railway station, given the loaded association with the word “Children” since it was placed outside the (subsequently bombed) theatre and shelter in Mariupol. However, it is equally possible that this was from the Russians/separatists, who have their own narrative of children being killed by Ukrainian weapons. It is unlikely that someone would have calculated that this stage would land intact, and the message be read, but it will nonetheless feed into information operations, particularly by Russia.
- Further afield, cruise missiles were used to strike a target near Odesa, reported as a foreign volunteer and weapon storage site by Russian authorities. Similarly, all railway attacks were claimed to be against military supplies. It is highly likely that any further Ukrainian rail or significant road movements towards Donbas will be targeted, although bridges have so far been left intact. Fuel depots and military concentrations will also continue to be targeted by air and missile strikes nationwide, as preparations continue for the Donbas attack, expected to be launched in the next few days.
Russia sanctions Update
This week the US and the UK both sanctioned President Putin’s daughters – Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhnova. President Putin has always been tight-lipped regarding his personal life and has never formally confirmed their names. Sanctions against the president’s family members are likely to be viewed by Putin as an escalation of what he has described as economic war. Although the Kremlin has never formally confirmed the names of Putin’s children, the statement by Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov (also sanctioned), will be seen as an admission. Peskov noted that these sanctions against family members lack justification, and that Russia would answer these sanctions ‘as they see fit’.
Tikhnova was a competitive dancer and previously married to Russia’s youngest billionaire, Kirill Shamalov. The pair had a high profile split in 2017/2018 when an alleged affair by Shamalov came to light. Last month, activists occupied a villa in Biarritz widely believed to be owned by Shamalov. Vorontsova is a paediatric endocrinologist married to Dutch businessman Jorritt Faaseen. The pair live in the Netherlands. In 2014, Dutch residents called for Vorontsova’s expulsion after the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 and the loss of 198 Dutch citizens. The EU has not yet sanctioned Tikhnova and Vorontsova.
This week, the UK also grounded a plane at Luton airport. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps placed a flying restriction on the aircraft using new powers which make it illegal for any aircraft owned, operated or chartered by Russians to fly from or land in the UK. The Gulfstream G550 is thought to be linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary organisation. Prigozhin is known as ‘Putin’s Chef’ due to previous catering contracts with the Kremlin and was sanctioned by the US in 2016 and the EU and UK in 2020. Prigozhin was also added to the FBI’s wanted list in 2021. The jet is registered in the Dutch Caribbean territory of Aruba, and flight data shows that it regularly flies in and out of Benghazi, Libya, where its forces have been supporting Khalifa Haftar’s Tobruk government. The jet has also paid regular visits to Dubai, Cairo, Riyadh and Abuja. The Wagner Group is believed to be operating in 23 African countries – some of its activities include protecting Russia’s mining interests in the region, comprising diamonds, platinum, aluminium, bauxite and gold. As Russian advances in Ukraine have stalled, the Wagner Group’s forces have been redeployed from operations in Africa and Syria. The Ukrainian Security Service has claimed that the Wagner Group was involved in the atrocities in Bucha, images of which shocked the world. The Wagner Group has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and human rights violations in Syria and across Africa, as well as being instrumental in the 2014 annexation of Crimea and occupation of the Donbas region. As the Group’s activities come under further scrutiny, sanctioning bodies may take further steps to curtail their funding and operations. (Source: Sibylline)
07 Apr 22. US Cyber Command reinforces Ukraine and allies amid Russian onslaught. U.S. Cyber Command has played a pivotal role in shielding networks and critical infrastructure stateside and abroad in the run up to and during Russia’s attack on Ukraine, its leader told Congress this week.
Along with tasking teams with identifying cyber vulnerabilities and threats — operations that have since “bolstered the resilience of Ukraine” and others — the command has gleaned and shared intelligence, worked hand-in-glove with U.S. government and industry, and pursued extensive contingency planning, Gen. Paul Nakasone said April 5.
“In conjunction with interagency, private sector and allied partners, we are collaborating to mitigate threats to domestic and overseas systems,” he continued in written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In Ukraine, specifically, Cyber Command has provided remote analytic support and conducted network defense activities, Nakasone testified. The general is also the director of the National Security Agency.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed and Sen. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday applauded Cyber Command’s ongoing efforts and its earlier exposure of Russian plans.
“That was very helpful to enable all of us to be much better prepared for this sudden, terrible war that is happening in the Ukraine,” said Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat.
Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine, which began in earnest Feb. 24, was preceded by a flurry of cyberattacks. They continue to this day, according to the Ukrainian government, with communications systems and other infrastructure as primary targets.
The State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine on March 29 declared “cyberwar is underway,” noting “cyberoffenders keep on attempting to cause harm to Ukraine’s information infrastructure or to collect important information.”
Russia’s military and intelligence forces are employing “a range of cyber capabilities, to include espionage, influence and attack units, to support its” physical attacks and its international propaganda campaign, Nakasone said April 5. The current crisis, he added, is not over.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, concurred.
“We know Russia’s launching cyberattacks against Ukraine,” she said, “hitting the country’s national telecommunications industry just last week and causing great denial of service and service disruptions.”
The Pentagon is seeking $11.2bn for cyber in fiscal year 2023 — a boost of $800m, or nearly 8%, over the Biden administration’s previous cyber ask. The suggested increase indicates a growing appreciation of cyber as well as the importance of U.S. forces in the digital domain.
“Cybersecurity is national security,” Nakasone told lawmakers.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
07 Apr 22. Milley Says Ukrainians Using Land Mines ‘Effectively,’ Reopening Debate About Controversial Weapons. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley argued Thursday that land mines have been critical for Ukrainian forces’ success against Russian armored vehicles.
Milley’s comments at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing come as the Biden administration is reviewing the U.S. land mine policy after former President Donald Trump expanded the U.S. military’s use of the controversial weapons in 2020.
“Land mines are being effectively used by the Ukrainian forces to shape the avenues of approach by Russian armored forces, which puts them into engagement areas and makes them vulnerable to the 60,000 anti-tank weapons systems that we’re providing to the Ukrainians,” Milley said. “That’s one of the reasons why you see column after column of Russian vehicles that are destroyed.”
U.S. forces have fallen victim to land mines in the past, including those made in the United States. About 90% of the mines and booby traps used against U.S. troops in the Vietnam War were U.S.-made or built by enemy forces using captured American parts, according to Army research reported on by The New York Times.
More than 160 countries have signed onto a 1997 treaty banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel land mines. The United States is not one of them, nor is Russia.
Land mines have long been decried by human rights organizations because they are often left behind after a conflict, indiscriminately killing and maiming civilians who stumble upon them long after a war has ended.
A watchdog organization called Landmine Monitor estimates at least 7,073 people were killed or injured by land mines in 2020 alone.
Russia has also been accused of employing land mines in its attacks against civilians during the Ukraine war, including its newly developed POM-3 that uses sensors to detect when someone walks nearby rather than the traditional way to trip a land mine of stepping on it.
In 2014, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order intended to reduce civilian harm that prohibited the U.S. military from using land mines anywhere other than the Korean peninsula. That particular use — protecting South Korea from an invasion by the north — has long been the top reason cited by military planners for their objection to signing on to a land mine ban.
But in January 2020, Trump rescinded Obama’s order, arguing the restriction could place service members at “a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries.”
During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden vowed to “promptly” reverse Trump’s move. But more than a year into his presidency, Biden’s administration is still reviewing the policy.
In his comments Thursday, Milley called land mines an “important” weapon to help “shape enemy operations.”
But he also nodded to the concerns about their harm to civilians, saying the United States is working to develop land mines that could deactivate themselves at the end of a war.
“The reason we’re developing a newer one is so they time out and they don’t present harm after the conclusion of hostilities,” Milley said. “And they would self-detonate or self-destroy or become inert at the end of hostilities.” (Source: Military.com)
08 Apr 22. More RAF jets to join NATO air policing mission in Romania. Two additional RAF Typhoon jets will join four already in Romania. Together with eight Typhoons stationed in Cyprus, this uplift will bring the total number of RAF fighter jets stationed in South-Eastern Europe to 14. The two additional jets are expected to remain in Romania until the end of July. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace made the announcement on a visit to Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase in Romania alongside Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, where they met Romanian officials and observed UK jets taking part in NATO’s Air Policing mission. The announcement reaffirms the UK’s commitment to our bilateral defence relationship with Romania.
The Typhoon jets and Royal Air Force personnel have deployed to Romania to join the long-standing NATO Air Policing mission for the Black Sea region. Operation Biloxi is the British name for the NATO Air Policing mission.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP said: “The UK and Romania are steadfast in the defence of our shared values and commitment to NATO’s collective security, in the air, at sea, and on land. Together we are supporting Ukraine in its defence against Putin’s illegal invasion and I pay tribute to Romania’s generosity providing shelter for the tens of thousands of innocent civilians fleeing this horrific conflict.”
Air policing is a purely defensive operation and a permanent NATO mission which began in 1961 during the Cold War. The mission ensures the security and integrity of all NATO Alliance members’ airspaces. Airspace is monitored by operations centres and, where it is assessed that an interception is required, NATO aircraft can be scrambled as part of a Quick Reaction Alert. The UK supports Romania by augmenting its own capabilities.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said:
Our air forces are at the vanguard of NATO’s collective security, united in our shared determination to protect our nations.
From the North of Norway to the Black Sea and Mediterranean, aircraft are airborne, alert and ready to defend against any threat to NATO territory or populations.
The Defence Secretary and Chief of the Air Staff were invited to the Op Biloxi Ceremony hosted by the Romanians at the airbase. The ceremony saw jets take part in a scramble exercise and flypast, showcasing NATO’s ability to rapidly respond to incursions to Allied airspace.
Ben Wallace and Sir Mike Wigston met with Romanian Defence Minister Vasile Dincu and Chief of the Defence Staff, General Daniel Petrescu. They discussed the defence relationship, regional security and the war in Ukraine, and further strengthening the UK-Romania bilateral relationship. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 Apr 22. Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger has confirmed that his country has provided an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.
He said this on Facebook, Ukrinform reports.
“I can confirm that the Slovak Republic, following Ukraine’s request for assistance in ensuring self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, as a direct consequence of armed aggression by the Russian Federation, has donated an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine,” he wrote.
He added that with this decision Bratislava hopes to save “as many innocent lives of Ukrainians as possible as a result of the aggression of the Putin regime.”
At the same time, Heger noted that the provision of the system “does not mean that the Slovak Republic is becoming part of the armed conflict in Ukraine.”
According to the Slovak newspaper Spectator, the transfer of the S-300 system took two days. (Source: https://www.ukrinform.net/)
07 Apr 22. Senate passes bill to clear hurdles in loaning military equipment to Ukraine. The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that alleviates bureaucratic hurdles associated with loaning U.S. military equipment to Ukraine.
The move came ahead of several other votes on Thursday levying additional penalties on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, revives a World War II-era program that allowed the government to lend or lease military equipment to U.S. allies.
The bill would allow the Defense Department to lend or lease defense articles to Ukraine or any other eastern European country, such as Poland, impacted by the invasion.
“How we address a threat against one democracy’s sovereignty sends a message about how we’ll act on others, and adversaries like China are watching,” Cornyn said in a statement Thursday, following the Senate’s passage of the bill. “If we believe America supports freedom and democracy, we must provide Ukraine with the weapons necessary to protect its citizens.”
President Joe Biden can already use lend-lease authorities under the Arms Export Control Act, but the latest bill would waive several requirements mandated under that law.
Current law governing the lend-lease program also renders the recipient country financially liable for repaying the United States for costs incurred, such as if the items are damaged or destroyed.
Congress hopes waivers in the bill will allow Biden to more efficiently deliver military aid to Ukraine.
Cornyn’s bill would also waive a statutory time limit that caps the leases at five years, and require the president to establish expedited procedures for delivering loaned or leased military equipment to Ukraine within two months of it becoming law.
The Biden administration on Wednesday authorized another $100m in Javelin anti-tank weapons for Ukraine from U.S. military stocks. This brings the total of U.S. military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24 to $1.7bn.
Congress appropriated $3.5bn to backfill U.S. military equipment sent to Ukraine as part of the $1.5trn government funding bill that it passed last month.
Cornyn secured passage of the Ukraine lend-lease bill by holding up a vote on separate legislation to end normal U.S. trade relations with Russia.
The passage of Cornyn’s legislation on Wednesday paved the way for the upper chamber to subsequently pass that legislation, as well as a separate bill banning Russian oil imports into the United States, on Thursday.
Although the House passed the Russia trade relations and oil ban legislation shortly after the Senate, the lower chamber did not take action on the Ukraine lend-lease bill before adjourning for a two-week recess. (Source: Defense News)
07 Apr 22. India to boost arms output, fearing shortfall from Russia. India on Thursday said it would ramp up its production of military equipment, including helicopters, tank engines, missiles and airborne early warning systems, to offset any potential shortfall from its main supplier Russia.
India depends on Russia for nearly 60% of its defense equipment, and the war in Ukraine has added to doubts about future supplies.
Defence Ministry officials say India, with the world’s second-largest army, fourth-largest air force and seventh-largest navy, can’t sustain itself through imports.
“Our objective is to develop India as a defense manufacturing hub,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Thursday while releasing a list of military equipment that will be produced domestically and no longer imported.
The ministry’s website said military orders worth 2.1trn rupees ($27.8bn) are likely to be placed with domestic state-run and private defense manufacturers in the next five years.
Retired Indian Army Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda said that during a visit to India last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two sides decided to shift some manufacturing to India to meet its requirements. Imports of helicopters, corvettes, tank engines, missiles and airborne early warning systems will eventually be halted.
“The requirements of the Russian military itself, with the kind of losses that it is suffering, may mean some of those spares that we need will probably get diverted,” Hooda said.
To meet its short-term requirements, India may consider purchases from former Soviet republics and Warsaw pact countries, ministry officials said.
Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine could help India with spare supplies for the Russian fighter aircraft types Sukhoi and MiG-29 as well as with upgrading tanks and armored vehicles, as they have similar Soviet-origin platforms and spares, said a ministry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told his British counterpart Liz Truss during her visit to India last week that there is now an emphasis on “Made in India” — the Asian nation’s economic growth initiative — and that “the more collaborative we are, the possibilities of working together are more.”
The two sides discussed ways to strengthen Indo-British defense ties, apparently to reduce India’s strategic dependence on Russia.
India’s Defence Ministry has so far identified a “positive indigenization list” of more than 300 items with a timeline for banning imports to help local manufacturers meet the requirements of the armed forces in the coming years.
India’s Air Force has more than 410 Soviet-era and Russian fighters with a mix of imported and license-built platforms, including Su-30s, MiG-21s and MiG-29s. All require Russian spares and components. India also has Russian submarines, tanks, helicopters, frigates and missiles.
Sanctions on Moscow could jeopardize India’s recent $375m BrahMos cruise missile export order from the Philippines. Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia, which formed a joint venture with India’s government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation to design, upgrade and manufacture BrahMos, is responsible for providing the missile system’s engines and seekers.
Rahul Bedi, a defense analyst, said India is awaiting deliveries of Russian missile systems, frigates, an Akula-class nuclear-powered submarine and assault rifles.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is pushing for greater self-reliance, but India lacks a strong industrial base for military equipment.
The process of shifting manufacturing of spare parts to India has begun, but Hooda said it was unclear if it could quickly make up for any shortfalls of supplies. “I would say if you really want to see significant progress it will take at least five years,” he said.
India’s Defence Ministry has also signed nearly 60 offset contracts worth more than $13 billion by 2027 for purchases of fighter aircraft and weapons from the United States, France, Russia and Israel. The deals require 30-50% of the contract value to be returned to India as offsets or reinvestments.
An offset involves an obligation by a foreign supplier to buy a certain amount of goods from the importing country as part of the contract. India’s government wants part of that money to benefit its defense industry or to allow the country to gain in terms of technology. It involves setting up joint ventures with Indian companies to manufacture defense equipment.
The government announced in the 2022-2023 budget that 68% of all capital defense procurement would be for indigenous manufacturers.
Meanwhile, bilateral defense trade with the U.S. increased from near zero in 2008 to $15 billion in 2019. Major Indian purchases from the United States included long-range maritime patrol aircraft, C-130 transport aircraft, missiles and drones.
In 2020, India announced that foreign companies can invest up to 74% in its defense manufacturing units, up from 49%, without any government approval. The aim is to attract foreign companies with advanced technologies to set up factories in India in collaboration with local companies.
India fully opened its defense sector, previously confined to state-run companies, to the private sector in 2001. However, only 110 of the 330 private companies with industrial licenses for such manufacturing have begun production, according to the Defence Ministry.
Starting from scratch, the DRDO began trying to develop advanced defense technologies in 1958. It has worked on short-range and long-range Agni and Prithvi missiles, Tejas light combat aircraft, tanks, multi-barrel rocket launchers, air defense systems, and a wide range of radars and electronic warfare systems.
The Defence Ministry earmarked 10bn rupees for procurement from startups during the 2020-2021 time frame.
The government has established two defense industrial corridors, in northern Uttar Pradesh and southern Tamil Nadu state, with investments of 200bn rupees crores (about U.S. $2.7bn) by 2024 by state-run and private sector companies.
(Source: Defense News)
06 Apr 22. Ukraine conflict: Teal Drones lands first Ukraine-related order. US-based Teal Drones has received an order for 15 Golden Eagle small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) from a NATO member country that wants to give them to Ukraine, according to Teal parent company Red Cat Holdings. Although Red Cat did not name the buyer or respond to questions about the planned purchase, it indicated that the order is the first it has received in Europe as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We believe this is the first of many relationships and purchases in the region,” Red Cat CEO Jeff Thompson said on 4 April. The announcement came less than three weeks after Thompson told analysts that Teal had been “slammed” with inquiries from countries that wanted to provide “thousands” of sUAS to Ukraine to help it fight Russian forces.
“We have been working through all hours of the night” to respond to the interest in the short-range reconnaissance quadcopter, he said in mid-March. “We are working as aggressively as possible to scale our production because of this,” he added. (Source: Janes)
08 Apr 22. Estonia’s prime minister urges vast rise in Nato forces to defend Baltic states. Kaja Kallas says western security alliance must do more to deter Russia Kaja Kallas said Nato needs permanent bases in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with a division in the region of up to 25,000 troops © Javad Parsa/Reuters Share on twitter (opens new window) Share on facebook (opens new window) Share on linkedin (opens new window) Save Richard Milne in Oslo 3 HOURS AGO 16 Print this page Stay across the latest Ukraine coverage Subscribed Nato is stuck on a cold war footing in Europe and needs to acknowledge its eastern expansion by deploying far more forces in the Baltic states to repel a potential Russian attack, according to Estonia’s prime minister. Kaja Kallas said that the military alliance needed “war-fighting capabilities” and permanent bases in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with a division in the region of up to 25,000 troops, well up from battalions of about 1,000 soldiers in each country. She also said Nato fighter jets on patrol in the Baltic states should be allowed to shoot down enemy aircraft if needed. Kallas said Nato — with many bases still in Germany — was not focused on being able to defend the Baltic states and that its “defence posture is very much reflecting the situation of the cold war”. “The situation has changed. The borders of Nato have changed,” she said. “Russia has increased the pressure or aggression on their side, so Nato should also increase the defence on the other side to be equal deterrent to the aggression that Russia poses.” (Source: FT.com)
08 Apr 22. Australia actions Bushmaster delivery to Ukraine. Key details relating to Australia’s commitment to deliver a fleet of locally built Bushmaster vehicles to Ukraine have been revealed by the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence this morning. Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australia would gift Ukraine 20 Bushmasters, including two ambulance variants, to support their military campaign against the Russian invasion in response to a recent request from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his remote address to a joint sitting of Federal Parliament last Thursday evening (31 March). The Bushmasters have been painted olive green to better suit Ukraine’s battlefield environment, with a Ukrainian flag painted on either side alongside “United with Ukraine” in English and Ukrainian while the ambulance variants will represent the standard Red Cross. The vehicles are reportedly furnished with radio, GPS and “additional bolt-on armour”, with training of the systems to be conducted via video. Last week, Prime Minister Morrison revealed the government was revewing Bushmaster stocks to determine the number and nature of a delivery to Ukraine via a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster. The government was also exploring whether it could source Bushmasters from a European ally to reduce delivery delays However, today the Prime Minister has stated the delivery method would not be disclosed at the request of the Ukrainian government. (Source: Defence Connect)
07 Apr 22. Russia’s actions in Ukraine fall far short of the standard set by the Human Rights Council: UK at UN General Assembly.
Statement by Ambassador James Roscoe at the UN General Assembly special session on Ukraine
When establishing the Human Rights Council, this General Assembly unanimously agreed that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and the protection of human rights.” Russia’s actions in Ukraine fall far short of that standard.
We have all now seen the horrific images from Bucha and Irpin of civilians deliberately killed in areas from which Russian forces have recently withdrawn. As President Zelenskyy said to the Security Council on Tuesday, it was difficult to find a war crime that Russia did not commit in Bucha.
Reports of executions, rape and mass graves leave no doubt that Russia has committed gross and systematic violations of human rights: the threshold for suspension from the Human Rights Council. I strongly welcome the General Assembly’s decision to send a clear message: Russia has no place on the Human Rights Council.
This vote today delivers another message to Putin, that those who stand by him or speak in his name, must stop killing innocent civilians and end this war now.
We take note of the fact that following their suspension, Russia has subsequently declared its withdrawal from the Human Rights Council. We understand this will trigger a by-election, and we welcome the opportunity this presents for a Member State from the region, who will genuinely promote and protect human rights, to take that seat.
Today’s vote is a victory for human rights, upholding the credibility of the Human Rights Council and the principles of the UN Charter.
Thank you. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
07 Apr 22. Fact Sheet: U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine. The security assistance the Biden Administration is providing to Ukraine is enabling critical success on the battlefield against the Russian invading force.
- The Administration is working around the clock to fulfill Ukraine’s priority security assistance requests, delivering weapons from U.S. stocks when they are available, and facilitating the delivery of weapons by allies and partners when their systems better suit Ukraine’s needs.
o All of the anti-armor and anti-air systems from the two packages of security assistance the President approved in March have been delivered.
- The Administration is continuing to work with allies and partners to identify additional weapons systems to help the Ukrainian military defend its country.
o At President Zelenskyy’s request, this includes helping Ukraine acquire longer-range anti-aircraft systems and munitions that they are trained to use.
o More than 30 nations have sent Ukraine security assistance, thanks in part to our diplomacy.
- On April 5, the Administration announced an additional $100 million in security assistance to Ukraine through Presidential Drawdown Authority. The Administration also announced $300 million in security assistance on April 1 under authorities provided by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
- These announcements bring the U.S. commitment to more than $1.7 billion in security assistance since Russia’s February 24 invasion, and $2.4 billion since the beginning of the Administration.
- United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes:
o Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
o Over 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems;
o Over 7,000 other anti-armor systems;
o Hundreds of Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
o Over 7,000 small arms;
o Over 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition;
o 45,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
o Laser-guided rocket systems;
o Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
o Four counter-artillery and counter-unmanned aerial system tracking radars;
o Four counter-mortar radar systems;
o Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles;
o Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, and optics;
o Tactical secure communications systems;
o Commercial satellite imagery services;
o Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear;
Medical supplies to include first aid kits. (Source: US DoD)
08 Apr 22. Russia laments ‘tragedy’ of troop deaths as Ukraine braces for offensive.
- Russia cites ‘significant losses’ on battlefield
- Zelenskiy pressures West to do more, calls for full energy ban
- Teams scour rubble of destroyed buildings in towns near Kyiv
Russia gave the most sombre assessment so far of its invasion of Ukraine, describing the “tragedy” of mounting troop losses and the economic hit from sanctions, as Ukrainians were evacuated from eastern cities before an anticipated major offensive.
Russia’s six-week long incursion has seen more than 4 million people flee abroad, killed or injured thousands, turned cities into rubble and led to sweeping sanctions on its leaders and companies.
In a symbolic move, the U.N. General Assembly suspended Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council, expressing “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis”. Russia then quit the council.
Russia has previously acknowledged its attack has not progressed as quickly as it wanted but on Thursday Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov lamented the rising death toll.
“We have significant losses of troops,” he told Sky News. “It’s a huge tragedy for us.”
Russia is facing its most difficult economic situation for three decades due to unprecedented Western sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. The U.S. Congress removed its “most favored nation” trade status in a further blow.
Russia says it launched what it calls a “special military operation” on Feb. 24 to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext.
Following new restrictions after the killing of civilians in the town of Bucha that were widely condemned by the West as war crimes, Ukraine called on allies to stop buying Russian oil and gas, amid divisions in Europe, and to boost it militarily.
“Ukraine needs weapons which will give it the means to win on the battlefield and that will be the strongest possible sanction against Russia,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video late on Thursday.
He also said the situation in Borodianka – another town northwest of Kyiv retaken from Russian forces – is “significantly more dreadful” than in Bucha, without citing any evidence.
Video from Borodianka showed search and rescue teams using heavy equipment to dig through the rubble of a building that collapsed. Hundreds of people were feared buried.
Russia has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against it and derail peace negotiations. read more
The EU’s ambassadors agreed a fifth sanctions package on Russia with a coal embargo containing a 120 day wind-down period to give member states time to find alternative suppliers, following pressure from Germany to delay the measure. read more
Ukraine accused Hungary of undermining EU unity after Budapest said it was prepared to pay roubles for Russian gas, a Kremlin demand that most in the West had resisted.
On the battlefield, Ukraine says after withdrawing from Kyiv’s outskirts, Russia is regrouping to try to gain full control of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been partly held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
The besieged southern port of Mariupol, where the mayor said over 100,000 people were still trapped, was also a target.
“Evacuate! The chances of saving yourself and your family from Russian death are dwindling every day,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said.
Authorities in Dnipro, a city in central-eastern Ukraine, also urged women, children and the elderly to leave.
British military intelligence said Russian forces were shelling cities in the east and south and had advanced further south from the city of Izium, which is under their control. Reuters could not immediately verify the report.
Both sides have traded accusations of abuse, with Moscow opening a criminal investigation into a Russian soldier’s allegations that he was beaten and threatened with death while being held in Ukraine as a prisoner of war.
Separately, a social media video verified by Reuters and geolocated to an area west of Kyiv appears to show Ukrainian forces shooting and killing a captured and badly wounded Russian soldier. read more
NATO members agreed to strengthen support to Ukraine on Thursday.
Ukraine has received about 25,000 anti-aircraft weapons systems from the United States and its allies, the top U.S. general said, and Washington is looking into what new support it could send.
In a video address posted on YouTube, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov made a plea for heavier, more modern weapons as Russia concentrated its forces for a major attack.
Russia has “drawn conclusions and changed tactics” and is now focusing on long-range strikes from the air, he said.
As a result, Ukraine needs air defence systems, long-range artillery, tanks and anti-ship missiles, Reznikov said.
Zelenskiy’s government says starving Russia’s war machine is the only way to bring it to a settlement at on-and-off peace talks.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a draft peace deal from Kyiv contained “unacceptable” elements and deviated from previously agreed proposals.
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters Lavrov was not directly involved in negotiations and his statements were “of purely propagandistic significance” aimed at diverting attention from the killings in Bucha.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said in the Kyiv region, which includes Borodianka, Bucha and other towns and villages such as Irpin, authorities had found 650 bodies, with 40 of them children.
Bucha’s mayor has said dozens were the victims of extra-judicial killings carried out by Russian troops. Reuters could not independently verify those figures.
Accounts by at least a dozen residents of one apartment complex in Bucha painted a picture of violence and intimidation by Russian soldiers. (Source: Reuters)
07 Apr 22. How the U.S. plans to starve Russia’s ‘war machine’ -Treasury’s Adeyemo to Reuters.
The United States is ramping up sanctions against Russia to deprive Moscow’s “war machine” of money and components needed to sustain its invasion of Ukraine, but curbing a main source of funding, Russian energy exports, will take time, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Reuters on Thursday.
The United States and its allies have “a lot more that we can and we will do” to punish Moscow if Russia fails to halt its invasion, Adeyemo told Reuters in an interview.
Ukrainian leaders called on Thursday for the democratic world to stop buying Russian oil and gas, and cut Russian banks entirely from the international financial system. read more
After an initial drive to freeze Russian assets, Washington and its allies announced incremental steps this week as they approach the limit of sanctions to punish Russia without also causing economic pain at home. read more
A new investment ban announced on Wednesday by President Joe Biden forbids Americans from investing in Russian firms’ equity and debt and investment funds, cutting off Russia’s defense industry and other sectors from the world’s biggest source of investment capital, Adeyemo said.
“What this means is that Russia will be deprived of the capital it needs to build up its economy, but also to invest in its war machine,” Adeyemo said.
Asked whether it would prohibit companies already in Russia from further funding those operations, he said Treasury was consulting with the private sector.
Kremlin officials, who have described their actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” have insisted that Western sanctions will not have any effect on their goals and will solidify Russian support.
Adeyemo said the United States and its European allies will target Russian military supply chains to deny access to key components – “things that are important to building their tanks, to supplying missiles and making sure that they have fewer resources” to fight the war in Ukraine but also to project power in the future.
“I think the impact will be immediate in the same way the impact on the economy has been immediate” from prior sanctions, Adeyemo said. Russia’s economy is headed for a 10% contraction this year and inflation is approaching 20%, U.S. officials estimate.
The Treasury later on Thursday put Russian diamond miner Alrosa (ALRS.MM) on its sanctions blacklist, while the U.S. State Department did the same for United Shipbuilding Corp, a state firm building naval ships and submarines and its subsidiaries and board members.
White House Economic Council director Brian Deese said on Wednesday that the Biden administration also would ban transactions with United Aircraft Corp, the maker of Sukhoi and MiG fighter jets — planes that are also flown by U.S. allies including some NATO members.
Adeyemo said Russia’s defense sector since 2014 has set up front companies to acquire critical supplies and materials to build up Moscow’s military. A number of these firms were targeted by sanctions last month.
ROUBLE SUPPORT DRAINS WAR FUNDS
Financial sanctions have forced Russia to spend more of its hard-currency energy revenues to defend its rouble currency, Adeyemo said, eating into funds available for the war effort.
After losing 45% of its value against the dollar in the first two weeks of the Ukraine invasion, the Russian rouble has risen to just below its pre-war level, thanks to capital controls by Moscow and distortion by the Russian central bank, U.S. officials say. read more
“What that means is that Russia has less money and the president is forced to make choices between propping up the economy and investing in the war in Ukraine,” he said. Adeyemo said his meetings last week with European allies in London, Brussels, Paris and Berlin helped focused on next steps and helped to accelerate the sanctions announced on Wednesday read more .
Adeyemo said he was encouraged by “strong statements” from European countries about reducing their dependence on Russian energy but said the continent was in a different position from the United States, the world’s top oil producer.
“Because of our ability to produce energy at home, we were able to ban the Russian import of oil to America rather quickly,” he said. “It’s going to take them more time but what they’re doing is they’re reducing their dependence over time.”
07 Apr 22. German intelligence reportedly intercepted radio exchanges between Russian soldiers who discussed killing Ukrainian civilians outside Kyiv, potentially leveling a powerful retort to widely dismissed Russian claims that massacres in Bucha and elsewhere were “staged.” The German information indicated that Russia’s Wagner Group, a mercenary firm tied to the Kremlin, may have been involved in the atrocities. Some eyewitnesses claimed Chechens were among them as well, Der Spiegel magazine reported. German officials, who presented the intelligence to lawmakers in Berlin Wednesday, say the intercepts indicate that the murder of civilians in the town of Bucha was not an act by rogue forces, but may have been part of a deliberate strategy to foment terror. (Source: Bloomberg)
08 Apr 22. Borodyanka ‘more horrific’ than Bucha, says Zelensky. After Russian troops withdrew from the area around Kyiv, to concentrate on targets in eastern Ukraine, the impact of weeks of fighting has become clear. In the town of Borodyanka, Ukraine’s President Zelensky says the scene is “much more horrific” than in nearby Bucha. “They have started sorting through the ruins… there are even more victims of Russian occupiers,” he said. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen recently visited Borodyanka – read his dispatch here. Meanwhile, German media – reporting on German intelligence – say that Russian troops were heard discussing killing civilians in Bucha. Here’s our explainer on whether the Bucha killings were a genocide. And in Obukhovychi – which is also on the route from Belarus to Kyiv – the BBC has seen clear evidence of Russian troops using civilians as human shields. Villagers say they were taken from their homes at gunpoint and held in a school by Russians trying to stop advancing Ukrainian forces. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has admitted “significant” losses of Russian troops during the invasion. You can read all the latest from Ukraine in our live page – while this page tracks the war in maps. (Source: BBC)