Ukraine Conflict Update – April 6
Military and hard security developments
- Russian forces have continued to withdraw from northern Ukraine, with the entirety of the border along Chernihiv oblast under Ukrainian control, though Russian forces likely still retain a foothold along the borders of Sumy oblast in the northeast. The redeployment of Russian forces to the Donbas continues, with the head of the Ukrainian Luhansk regional military administration Serhei Haidai stating today, 6 April, that he anticipates that Russia is massing units in the region to launch a new offensive in approximately 3-4 days time. There are 3 BTGs in Belarus and movements of troops have been seen there to keep it in mind for Ukraine to retain troops in Kyiv in the event that Russia decides to conduct a new offensive against Kyiv.
- At present the main Russian effort in the Donbas remains a thrust south of Izyum towards Barvinkove and the road leading to the major military headquarters and depots at Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, which remain a likely primary objective in the coming weeks, the main thrust is expected within 3 days fronted by 20th CAA and 1st Guards Tank Army. . Nevertheless, progress remains slow, with fighting remaining fierce around Rubizhne and Severodonetsk. It is notable that Haidai also alleged today that the former mayor of Rubizhne who defected to the Russians has been assisting Russian forces in finding pro-Ukrainian activists and conducting arrests, further indicating support for Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine and efforts to consolidate Russian control of the region. Heavy equipment and artillery including the 2S7 Pion (“peony“) or Malka is a Soviet self-propelled 203mm heavy artillery. “2S7” is its GRAU designation. It was identified for the first time in 1975 in the Soviet Army and so was called M-1975 by NATO (the 2S4 Tyulpan also received the M-1975 designation), whereas its official designation is SO-203 (2S7). Its design is based on a T-80 chassis carrying an externally mounted 2A44 203 mm gun on the hull rear. It takes the crew of seven men 5–6 minutes to setup and 3–5 minutes to dismantle. It carries four 203 mm projectiles for immediate use. It is capable of firing nuclear ammunition. The gun has a range of 37,500 m, but this can be extended to 55,500 m by using RAPs (Rocket Assisted Projectiles). One interesting feature of the Pion is the firing alarm. Because the blast of the weapon firing is so powerful—it can physically incapacitate an unprepared soldier or crew member near it from concussive force—the Pion is equipped with an audible firing alarm that emits a series of short warning tones for approximately five seconds prior to the charge being fired. The 2S7 carries a crew of fourteen; seven are carried by the Pion and seven are with an auxiliary vehicle. The system carries four rounds of ammunition; four more rounds are carried by the support vehicle. Due to the long range, the crew can fire one or two rounds and leave position before the first round hits the enemy position over 40 km away. This makes the 2S7 less susceptible to counter-battery fire, from an enemy with a counter-battery radar such as ARTHUR. (Source: Wikipedia)
- The focus is on how quickly the Russian forces can deploy South to the Donbas and how quickly the Ukrainian forces can resupply and rearm. Another problem in Russia’s favour is that more local people are cooperating with Russia against Ukraine. The bad weather still is an issue. Big question is what will they do next if the Russians don’t achieve their objectives?
- Russian forces also continued to launch long-range precision strikes across the country overnight, with an oil depot hit in Novomoskovsk and an industrial plant in Synelnykove, both in Dnipropetrovsk oblast in central Ukraine, northeast of the city of Dnipro and in Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk; a civil freighter was sunk in the Black Sea. Other explosions in Western Ukraine were also reported, including in Vinnitysia oblast and the town of Radekhiv in Lviv oblast. These strikes underline the enduring threat of critical infrastructure and supply depots, particularly fuel, food and water depots, being targeted across the country.
- May Day Parade celebrations? The expectation’s that the May Day Parade on May9tn will be used as the Victory Parade are receding with the war now likely to drag on through the summer. Given the deployment to Ukraine forces are limited for the parade and conscripts will no doubt be used.
Diplomatic and strategic developments
- During his video address to the UN Security Council President Zelensky criticised it for not doing enough to stop Russia, directly questioning the Council’s ability to provide security and fulfil its functions. The remarks follow international outrage and condemnation following the revelations of the atrocities committed in Bucha, which have prompted a new round of Western sanctions. Washington is expected to announce the new measures today, including a ban on new investments in Russia, as well as further targeting of Russian banks and officials, with some reports suggesting that the EU sanctions may target Putin’s daughters.
- The US has furthermore announced that it is sending another USD 100 million worth of military aid to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-tank missiles. The latest announcement comes after an earlier commitment for an additional USD 300 million, bringing the total military aid provided by the US to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion to USD 1.7 billion.
- Additionally, the Kremlin announced today that although the peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv are continuing, the progress is not as rapid as the Kremlin would like. In particular, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that allegations of Russian forces being responsible for the atrocities in Bucha are fake, indicating that these circumstances can “disrupt the negotiation process.” Similarly, yesterday, President Zelensky also confirmed that although the Bucha tragedy is making negotiations with Russia more difficult, the discussions will continue. Notably, as highlighted in our previous reporting, both sides appear to still be far apart on the issue of the Donbas in particular, indicating that the toughest part of the talks is still ahead.
- Several Russian embassies across Europe have been targeted by protesters in recent weeks as public outrage over Russia’s invasion on Ukraine continues to grow. In the latest potential targeting, media reports revealed that a car crashed into a fence of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest, killing the driver. Earlier this week, the Russian Embassy in Dublin complained that numerous Irish oil companies have refused to deliver fuel supplies, causing it to run short of hot water and heating. Although the Bucharest incident has not yet been confirmed as a deliberate act and is still under investigation, it would be on trend with the growing likelihood of such premises being under an increased physical security risk, especially as further images of Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine emerge in the coming days.
Economic/business environment developments
- Today, 6 April, the US, EU and G7 are coordinating on a new round of sanctions on Russia, in the latest reaction to the atrocities uncovered in Kyiv oblast. The most notable development has been the announcement that the US intends to ban all new investments in Russia. However, it is the recent move by the US to block dollar debt payments from Russian accounts at US banks that is set to have the most immediate economic impact.
- The Russian Finance Ministry has today, 6 April, stated it has paid some of its dollar debt obligations this week in rubles after unnamed foreign banks declined to process over USD 649 million of payments. The Finance Ministry stated that it considers it has fulfilled its obligations in full, but the fact that they have paid them in rubles has raised the prospect of a technical default. Earlier during the crisis, the ratings agencies S&P Global and Fitch Ratings stated that they would consider Russia to have technically defaulted if it paid notes in a different currency than the one set out in the original agreement. According to Bloomberg, the notes paid this week have a 30-day grace period, but it remains unclear whether investors and banks would consider Russia to have technically defaulted due to its inability to pay in dollars and euros following Western sanctions. Either way, these developments make a default more likely, raising the prospect of still further economic turbulence for Russia and threatening to wipe out the ruble’s recovery in recent weeks.
- EU member states will furthermore debate numerous new sanctions proposals this week, including a ban on Russian coal imports, as well as expanding export controls on technologies used by Russia’s defence sector, and banning Russian trains and trucks from entering the bloc. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today, 6 April, that the bloc will in particular debate oil imports, which she acknowledged remain a difficult issue for the EU given number of states’ reliance upon Russian energy. Meanwhile, bans or restrictions on natural gas remain less likely and are not openly being discussed at this stage, despite growing pressure.
- However, there is moderate scope for movement on oil restrictions given that diversifying supply of oil is much easier than diversifying natural gas supplies, which are by contrast reliant upon physical pipelines or expensive liquified natural gas processing facilities which have yet to be built to facilitate the quantity of overseas LNG required to replace Russian imports. Nevertheless, Hungary’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other interested member states could yet veto or dilute a new sanctions package targeting oil. However, even if oil restrictions are vetoed at the EU level, it remains likely that numerous individual member states will proceed with unilateral bans, though Russian energy imports are set to remain a key fissure within the EU for the foreseeable future.
- Considering the withdrawal of Russian troops from around Kyiv, the security situation in and around the city is likely to see a moderate improvement as of 6 April. The H01/P01 remains the safest routes out of Kyiv, while demining operations are taking place along the E373 and E40 by Ukrainian forces, therefore, security threats along these routes 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.
- Ukrainian authorities in Luhansk oblast have urged residents to leave the region “while it is safe” ahead of an expected Russian offensive as more forces redeploy to the region from northern Ukraine. The announcement comes after Russian forces hit a tank containing nitric acid in Rubizhne, Luhansk oblast, underlining the threat of industrial hazards release in the heavily industrial regions of the Donbas. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed that 11 humanitarian corridors were agreed today, 6 April, including out of Luhansk oblast and the besieged city of Mariupol, though as previously the success of these corridors remains highly uncertain and cannot be relied upon.
In an address to the Irish Parliament this morning, 6 April, President Zelensky claimed that Russia still hasn’t abandoned its plans to “subdue and occupy all of the Ukrainian people”, despite the withdrawal from northern Ukraine. Russian war aims do appear to have shifted since the announcement that operations would focus on taking the Donbas, with the withdrawal from Kyiv oblast an acknowledgement that plans to seize the city during the opening stages of the war had failed. However, the extent of Russian war aims beyond the Donbas remain uncertain and will remain contingent upon how much progress Russian forces can make in that region and whether they can degrade Ukraine’s conventional military forces to allow fresh offensives elsewhere at a later date.
The official Russian goals of the war remain the “denazification and demilitarisation” of the country, implying fairly wide-ranging goals. However, contrary to Zelensky’s statement, the military realities on the ground make a compromise deal more likely at this stage, with the taking of Mariupol and potential show trials of Ukrainian “Nazis” of the Azov Battalion possibly enough for Moscow to claim they have “denazified” the country, alongside potential territorial concessions in the east and south.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today also claimed that Russia does not plan to eliminate Zelensky. While such official statements often bear no resemblance to Russian policy in practice, Russian forces have had ample opportunity to try and target the Zelensky administration. While not precluding the possibility in the future, the absence so far of a decapitation strike against Zelensky suggests Moscow acknowledges it needs somebody to negotiate with, which could indicate more limited Russian goals following the failure to take Kyiv. Nevertheless, it remains unclear for how long the Russian operation will continue. The taking of the entirety of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts will likely remain the minimum objective for Moscow to be able to claim some sort of victory in the coming weeks, which could be accomplished by the posited end date of Victory Day on 9 May. However, if and when this goal is accomplished, the military situation will likely determine whether the Kremlin intends to continue operations thereafter in a bid to extract a more favourable settlement.
- The main battlefield developments in the last 24 hours have been the continued withdrawal of Russian forces towards the border of Sumy Oblast and the Russian Federation, and continued Russian offensive pressure in Donbas.
- We assess that Russian forces currently remain in north-eastern Ukraine along the border of Sumy oblast near the Russian city of Kursk, but are continuing to withdraw. Ukrainian forces are slowly following up, but are generally held up by the need to carefully clear civilian areas amidst mines, unexploded ordnance, and booby traps. There is also a pressing need for aid to reach civilian populations that have been under Russian occupation. This is hindering any effective pursuit.
- In Donbas, a main axis continues to develop south of Izyum towards Barvinkove, where a key railway runs to the Ukrainian regional headquarters and depot in Slovyansk/Kramatorsk. Russian forces will continue to probe south from here, but limitations on off-road movement – including from deliberate Ukrainian flooding – have resulted in combat reconnaissance patrols being largely destroyed. Ukrainian forces therefore appear to be fighting an effective delaying action north of Barvinkove, although it is likely that Russian pressure here will increase once vulnerabilities are found in the Ukrainian defence.
- 8-10 additional Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) have now deployed in the vicinity of Izyum and Balakliya, replacing units that have been fighting in this area for several weeks. This includes tank-led BTGs from the 4th Guards Tank Division, 47th Guards Tank Division, and the 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division. Many of these were in Sumy Oblast up until just a few days ago, showing how quickly forces are being redeployed and committed back to the fight. The 3rd Motor Rifle Division has also been moved from this area and away from Severodonetsk, showing that this will most likely be the key axis for Russia. This leaves the attack on Severodonetsk mainly just to Luhansk separatist forces, further emphasising how the aim is mainly to tie up the Ukrainian brigades there so that they can be reduced by artillery and air strikes.
- The lack of available routes to deploy along means that the growing Russian presence in and around Izyum will encounter similar challenges to those seen northwest of Kyiv. This may hamper the bringing up of artillery in particular, with more regiments being deployed from Sumy down to this region.
- Other Russian attacks are seeking to open supporting axes of advance towards Slovyansk, although we believe the main effort will continue to be an attempted encirclement west of the city, since this avoids substantial defences and is most suitable for armoured movement. However, this will still be difficult to achieve given the terrain and the state of the ground due to the weather. Given deployments so far, we consider the most likely southern pincer will be from the area of Velyka Novosilka, 60km west of Donetsk city, and 120km south of the current Russian advance from Izuym. This is a large area to cut across and will require much greater force than Russia currently has in the area, despite reinforcements to date.
- Other attacks continue to develop north of Donetsk (between Niu York and Avdiivka), and around Severodonetsk, with Rubizhne continuing to see the heaviest fighting. This area forms the eastern end of the large salient so far created by Russian advances. Ukraine is now organising mass evacuation of civilians from this entire area, showing increasing concerns over the level of fighting and the potential for Russian advances. This may also reflect the growing potential for interdiction on the routes leading west, although trains are still running effectively at present.
- Russian aviation remains highly active in this area, with attack helicopters and SU-25 ground attack aircraft operating at extreme low altitude to support troops. Tactics continue to evolve in the face of substantial Ukrainian man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) capability, although Russian helicopters have on occasion even fallen prey to anti-tank missiles. In general, poor procedures are still contributing to excessive losses by Russian forces, despite clear attempts to have learned at least some lessons from the last few weeks of fighting.
- More widely, precision attacks on fuel depots and other strategic targets continued overnight, with an incident near Dnipro leading to a major fire. Cruise missiles continue to be favoured in order to attack locations in central and western Ukraine, being a mix of naval and air-launched systems. Even the Bastion anti-shipping system is being put into use, via a secondary land attack mode.
- Disruption has continued inside the Belgorod region of Russia, with a series of bomb threats being reported to hundreds of schools and government buildings across the region. The Russian population in this area and also around Kursk has previously shown signs of unrest over events, and this was accelerated by the ammunition explosion and raid on the fuel depot in Belgorod last week. A further explosion was reported and acknowledged overnight by local authorities, although there are no further details on the incident. With a large number of troops transiting this area en route to Donbas, the city will likely continue to be a focus for Ukrainian covert operations designed to cause maximum disruption whilst not providing context for further popular mobilisation in Russia.
- The concern in Kyiv remains that too overt a level of action against Russia itself will curtail supplies from NATO and the EU, although the revelations of killings, looting, and other abuses in Russian-controlled areas has done much to offset concerns. In addition to increased sanctions, a flow of heavier equipment has started to Ukraine, including T-72 tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles from the Czech Republic. Former Soviet equipment from NATO stocks will continue to be the most useful items to supply to Ukraine, with the leadership in Kyiv calling for more such material in order to fight a successful conflict in the south.
- Operations by the Ukrainian 1st Tank Brigade east of Kyiv in recent weeks show that the Ukrainian army can effectively deploy this equipment, but the issue will remain moving large amounts of material to the Donbas especially given long-range Russian interdiction and potential fuel shortages. Ukrainian forces will likely have to exploit their night-time capabilities to the full in order to position, which will take time. It is possible that items will be moved by train, but this would require great care to avoid targeting by Russian air power, which will likely be tasked with identifying and neutralising any movements. Offloading of equipment at hubs such as Kramatorsk would also be highly vulnerable, hence increasing Ukrainian enforcement of social media censorship.
- In the next 24 hours, we expect further strategic strikes on central and western cities, hitting fuel, food, military, and transport targets. Kharkiv will also continue to be bombarded. Separatist forces will continue to assault in the Donbas, but the most significant area to watch remains the area northwest of Kramatorsk. We expect further probing attacks here but at present Russia is unlikely to achieve significant momentum at this time, albeit BTGs will continue to arrive in the southeast at the rate of 1-2 a day. These are mostly from forces that generated Russia’s most significant advance in the early days of the conflict, which is no coincidence.
Russia: Further Western sanctions likely to prompt retaliatory Russian countersanctions. The US will likely announce additional sanctions against Russia on 6 April amid international condemnation over revelations of apparent war crimes and summary executions committed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, northeast of Kyiv. The US, G7 and European Union (EU) are coordinating planned new sanctions, which are set to include an EU ban on Russian coal imports and a US ban on investments into the country, in addition to plans to strengthen punitive measures against Moscow’s state-owned enterprises and financial institutions. Meanwhile, European governments including Germany, Denmark and Italy have expelled approximately 200 Russian diplomats in recent days. These developments will intensify Moscow’s diplomatic and economic international isolation, increasing the risk of Russian retaliation and countersanctions, particularly on energy and grain exports, though an EU ban on gas imports still remains unlikely at this stage, though public and political pressure to do so will continue to mount. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Apr 22. UK imposes sweeping new sanctions to starve Putin’s war machine.
The Foreign Secretary has today (Wednesday 6 April) announced a significant ratcheting up of UK sanctions on Russia.
- Full asset freeze on largest Russian bank and end to all new UK outward investment into Russia announced
- UK to end all imports of Russian coal and oil by end of 2022 and take action against oligarchs and key strategic industries
- Foreign Secretary will urge G7 colleagues to maintain the momentum on further waves of sanctions at meeting tomorrow
Following further reports of abhorrent attacks on civilians in Ukraine this week, the Foreign Secretary has today (Wednesday 6 April) announced a significant ratcheting up of UK sanctions on Russia.
As a leading voice calling for international action, the UK’s fifth package of measures will cut off key sectors of the Russian economy and end our dependency on Russian energy. Today’s measures have been delivered in lockstep with our global allies as the EU has also banned imports of Russian coal and the US has sanctioned SberBank.
Announcing the package, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:
Today, we are stepping up our campaign to bring Putin’s appalling war to an end with some of our toughest sanctions yet.
Our latest wave of measures will bring an end to the UK’s imports of Russian energy and sanction yet more individuals and businesses, decimating Putin’s war machine.
Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin’s orders. We will not rest until Ukraine prevails.
Key sanctions announced today include:
- Asset freezes against Sberbank and Credit Bank of Moscow. Sberbank is Russia’s largest bank and this freeze is being taken in co-ordination with the US.
- An outright ban on all new outward investment to Russia. In 2020 UK investment in Russia was worth over £11bn. This will be another major hit to the Russian economy and further limit their future capabilities.
- By the end of 2022, the UK will end all dependency on Russian coal and oil, and end imports of gas as soon as possible thereafter. From next week, the export of key oil refining equipment and catalysts will also be banned, degrading Russia’s ability to produce and export oil – targeting not only the industry’s finances but its capabilities as a whole.
- Action against key Russian strategic industries and state owned enterprises. This includes a ban on imports of iron and steel products, a key source of revenue. Russia’s military ambitions are also being thwarted by new restrictions on its ability to acquire the UK’s world-renowned quantum and advanced material technologies.
- And targeting a further eight oligarchs active in these industries, which Putin uses to prop up his war economy.
- Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor, the largest shareholder of fertilizer company Acron with vital strategic significance for the Russian government
- Andrey Guryev – known close associate of Vladimir Putin and founder of PhosAgro – a vital strategic company that produces fertilizers.
- Sergey Kogogin, director of Kamaz – manufacturer of trucks and buses, including for the Russian military.
- Sergey Sergeyevich Ivanov, President of the world’s largest diamond producer Alrosa, which the UK also sanctioned.
- Leonid Mikhelson, the founder, and CEO of leading Russian natural gas producer Novatek, with a net worth of £18bn.
- Andrey Akimov, the CEO of Russia’s third largest bank Gazprombank.
- Aleksander Dyukov, the CEO of Russia’s third largest and majority state-owned oil producer GazpromNeft.
- Boris Borisovich Rotenberg, son of the co-owner of Russia’s largest gas pipeline producer SGM. The Rotenberg family are known for their close connections to Putin and a number of them have already been sanctioned.
At tomorrow’s meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers the Foreign Secretary will call for further collective action, including an accelerated timetable for all G7 countries to end their dependency on Russian energy.
She will also call for continued G7 unity in imposing further co-ordinated waves of sanctions against the Russian economy and elites around Putin, until Russia withdraws its troops and ends its brutal campaign of aggression against Ukraine once and for all.
An asset freeze prevents anyone in the UK, or any UK national or registered company anywhere in the world, from dealing with any funds or economic resources which are owned, held or controlled by the designated person. It will also prevent funds or economic resources being provided to or for the benefit of the designated person.
A travel ban means that the designated person must be refused leave to enter or to remain in the United Kingdom, providing the individual to be an excluded person under section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971.
Recently introduced powers make it a criminal offence for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the UK, and give the government powers to remove aircraft belonging to designated Russian individuals and entities from the UK aircraft register, even if the sanctioned individual is not on board. Russian ships are also banned from UK ports. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
05 Apr 22. US sending Ukraine tactical communications gear in new $300m package. A potentially $300m batch of aid eventually bound for Ukraine will include communications systems and similar gear, according to the Department of Defense.
“There’s a quite extensive, detailed list of what some of these capabilities are, including unmanned aerial systems and some tactical secure communications and other like capabilities,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said at an April 4 briefing.
Kirby did not offer further specifics about the equipment.
Communications and connectivity have been besieged in Ukraine, as Russia continues to assail the Eastern European nation. The telecommunications industry, specifically, has become a primary target for hackers, according to its government.
“The enemy’s attacks against the telecom industry occur on a daily basis,” Yurii Shchyhol, the head of the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine, said in an interview publicized this week.
Since the start of the war, Ukrainian officials have observed and logged a flood of cyberattacks on its systems. Most, however, have proven unsuccessful and “do not affect the work of critical information infrastructure,” the state service said in a statement.
Kirby on March 22 told reporters the “Ukrainians still have good command and control over their forces in the field” despite Russian efforts to harass and disrupt.
The Defense Department notified Congress of its latest aid plans — made possible by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a years-old mechanism — on April 1. Also included in the upcoming package are night vision devices and optics, medical supplies, commercial satellite imagery services, ammunition and machine guns.
“This, of course, underscores our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and their territorial integrity in support of their efforts to repel the Russian forces inside their country,” Kirby said April 4.
Instead of siphoning the equipment and supplies directly from U.S. stockpiles, the Defense Department will work with the private sector to fulfill orders.
“Unlike presidential drawdown, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from our own stocks,” Kirby said. “That’s the difference here. So, this announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process that will provide these new capabilities.”
Neither procurement nor delivery dates were immediately available. But, Kirby emphasized, “we’re going to be moving as fast as we can.”
The U.S. has provided more than $2bn in security assistance to Ukraine since the onset of the Biden administration. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Apr 22. Europeans weigh scope of security guarantees for Ukraine. European governments are expected to discuss their part in security guarantees that could be promised to Ukraine under a potential peace deal following Russia’s increasingly brutal attack on the country, according to a senior European Union official.
The comments come as talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators last week teed up the question of alternative assurances — outside of NATO’s Article 5 mutual-assistance clause — the West is willing to underwrite after Moscow stops its assault.
“As soon as the war is over — or perhaps, in connection with the cessation of hostilities — we need to think what kind of guarantees will be offered to Ukraine,” said Charles Fries, the deputy secretary-general for common security and defense policy and crisis response at the European External Action Service. He was speaking April 4 at an event in Washington organized by the Atlantic Council think tank.
Fries described the sweet spot of security guarantees as being “something between more than Budapest, but, of course, less than Article 5,” referring to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, a now-obsolete treaty crafted to guarantee Ukraine’s security after Kyiv gave up its nuclear weapons per the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“So that’s a question for the next weeks, which has to be addressed,” Fries said.
“It’s a key issue, but the EU as such is not directly involved,” he said. Rather, select nations might take action individually, Fries added, noting that he hadn’t seen a list of who might come forward.
The Budapest Memorandum’s original signatories include the United States and the United Kingdom on the Western side, as well as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Last week, Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said her government envisions a security-guarantees regime endorsed by Budapest Memorandum signatories as well as the United Nations Security Council.
“We have already confirmed agreement on that from Great Britain, from Germany and from Turkey,” Stefanishyna said during a March 31 online event sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States think tank. She was speaking from Kyiv.
Sean Monaghan, an analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the legal format of whatever security guarantees the West can muster for Ukraine will be ultimately secondary. More important, and difficult, he told Defense News, will be the willingness of European populations to back them by military force.
“The power and commitment of NATO Article 5 has had time to grow for more than 70 years,” Monaghan said. “With Ukraine, that would have to happen overnight.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has drawn a red line around the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in whatever post-war negotiations may bring, Stefanishyna said. Kyiv also would not support an agreement aimed at whitewashing Russian war crimes during the invasion, she added.
As Ukrainian officials come to terms with NATO benefits being off the table, they are doubling down on the European Union and a potential fast-tracked membership plan.
Stefanishyna hopes that by year’s end the European Commission will publish its assessment of whether Ukraine is an eligible candidate, per the so-called Copenhagen criteria. Those criteria prescribe examining aspiring members’ state of democracy, rule of law, human rights and monetary and economic fitness. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
06 Apr 22. EU Announces Fifth Round of Sanctions Against Russia.
The European Union has announced its fifth round of sanctions against Russia. This fifth package as six pillars:
- An import ban on coal from Russia, worth EUR 4 billion per year. This will cut another important revenue source for Russia.
- A full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank. These four banks, which the European Union has now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector.
- A ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports. Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy. Additionally, the European Union will propose a ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. This ban will drastically limit the options for the Russian industry to obtain key goods.
- Further targeted export bans, worth EUR 10 billion, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable. This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment.
- Specific new import bans, worth EUR 5.5 billion, to cut the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor.
- A number of very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in Member States, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies.
06 Apr 22. Ukraine’s defence imports from Turkey jumped 30-fold in Q1 – Turkish data. Ukraine received almost 30 times as much defence industry equipment from Turkey in first quarter as it did a year earlier, while it prepared for and fought against Russian invasion, official data showed.
Turkey exported $59.1 million of such products to Ukraine in the period, compared with $1.9m in the first quarter of 2021, data published by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly showed.
The assembly, an industry association, did not specifically identify the equipment.
Ukraine has bought more than 20 Bayraktar TB2 armed drones from Turkish company Baykar in recent years and ordered a further 16 on January 27. That batch was delivered in early March.
Ankara and Kyiv have long-standing defence-cooperation ties.
A member of the NATO military alliance, Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both and has offered to mediate.
While it has continued to supply drones to Ukraine, it has also avoided imposing sanctions against Moscow.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly criticised Russia for invading Ukraine, but also made clear that he wants communication channels to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to remain open.
Since launching an invasion that has uprooted a quarter of Ukraine’s population, Russia has failed to capture a single major city. Moscow describes its actions as a “special military operation”.
Ankara’s total first-quarter defence exports were up 48.6% on a year earlier, the industry association’s data showed.
In 2021 Turkey exported $3.224bn in defence products, an increase of 41.5 percent compared with 2020. (Source: Google/Reuters)
05 Apr 22. As Russia is forced into retreat, its brutality is laid bare: UK statement at UN Security Council.
Ambassador Barbara Woodward gave a statement at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Ukraine.
I will now make a statement in my capacity as the Representative of the United Kingdom.
President Zelenskyy, by video, Secretary-General, Colleagues,
The United Nations was created in the wake of a European war of aggression that laid waste to Europe and engulfed the world.
All of us who signed the UN Charter committed to ending the scourge of war, to fundamental human rights, the dignity and worth of the human person, the equal rights of nations large and small, to justice, and respect for international law.
Yet now, we are facing another war of aggression in Europe.
We have heard today, again, the devastating impact of Russia’s unilateral and illegal military action in Ukraine. Its impact on surrounding countries and the region, and on the security and prosperity of the wider world, as it seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- thousands killed
- millions displaced
- cities razed to the ground
- hospitals bombed
- citizens cut off from food, water and medicine
- blockaded sea ports and the rapid increase in wheat prices
- pressure on already stretched humanitarian resources
And now, as Russia is forced into retreat from areas around Kyiv, the brutality of the invasion is laid bare. We have all seen the horrific images from the towns of Bucha and Irpin of civilians deliberately killed in areas from which Russian forces have recently withdrawn — and the video we saw earlier underlined that horror.
These acts, and other credible incidents, must be investigated as war crimes, and the UK fully supports the work of the International Criminal Court and the work of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General and other national prosecutors.
Colleagues, as we, and so many others, have said so many times, all of this could be stopped if the Russian Federation ended this war now.
I resume my function as President of the Council. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
05 Apr 22. Czech Republic sends tanks to bolster Ukraine forces . First time a foreign country is known to have supplied this type of offensive weapon to help resist Russian invaders A Russian T-72 tank captured by Ukrainian forces in the liberated village of Lukianivka in Kyiv region, similar to those provided by the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has been sending tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, in a below-the-radar bid to bolster the eastern European nation’s capacity to resist Russia’s invasion. The deliveries are the first known time that a foreign country has supplied tanks to Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has repeatedly appealed for western military support against the Russian onslaught. Czech officials said the country had been providing a range of equipment, including Soviet-designed T-72 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and howitzers to Ukraine for several weeks. “We believe that this is the only thing that can stop the Russian forces from perpetrating more atrocities,” said one senior Czech defence official, adding that the tank deliveries so far had been gifts rather than sales. Five T-72 tanks and five infantry fighting vehicles were sent in the most recent shipment, which came to light after photographs were posted on social media. A second Czech official said the country was also in initial talks over providing other types of assistance including help in servicing Ukrainian heavy land-force equipment at facilities in the Czech Republic. (Source: FT.com)
06 Apr 22. U.S., allies ready new Russian sanctions after Bucha killings.
- U.S., EU set to ban new investment in Russia
- Zelenskiy says Bucha killings demand punishment
- Ukraine reports attacks in south and east
The United States and its allies on Wednesday prepared new sanctions on Moscow over civilian killings which President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described as “war crimes”, as heavy fighting and Russian airstrikes pounded the besieged port of Mariupol.
The southern city of Mariupol has been under attack by Russian forces and constantly bombarded since the early days of the invasion almost six weeks ago, trapping tens of thousands of residents without food, water or power.
“The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening,” British military intelligence said on Wednesday.
“Most of the 160,000 remaining residents have no light, communication, medicine, heat or water. Russian forces have prevented humanitarian access, likely to pressure defenders to surrender.” Reuters could not immediately verify the report.
Western sanctions over Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the biggest assault on a European nation since World War Two, gained new impetus this week after dead civilians shot at close range were discovered in the northern town of Bucha, seized back from Russian forces.
Moscow denied targeting civilians in Bucha and described evidence presented as a “monstrous forgery” staged by the West to discredit it. read more
New sanctions set to be unveiled Wednesday are in part a response to Bucha, the White House said.
The measures, coordinated between Washington, Group of Seven advanced economies and the European Union, will target Russian banks and officials and ban new investment in Russia, the White House said. read more
Proposed EU sanctions, which the bloc’s 27 member states must approve, would ban buying Russian coal and prevent Russian ships from entering EU ports.
EU executive Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc was working on banning oil imports, as well. Europe, which obtains about a third of its natural gas from Russia, has been wary of the economic impact a total ban on Russian energy would bring. read more
But signalling strengthening EU resolve, Germany’s foreign minister said the coal ban was the first step toward an embargo on all Russian fossil fuel imports. Ukraine says banning Russian gas is vital to securing a deal to end the war in peace talks.
After an impassioned address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Zelenskiy said new sanctions “against Russia must be commensurate with the gravity of the occupiers’ war crimes,” calling it a “crucial moment” for Western leaders.
New Zealand said on Wednesday it would impose a 35% tariff on all imports from Russia and extend export bans on industrial products connected to strategic Russian industries.
“The images and reports emerging of atrocities committed against civilians in Bucha and other regions of Ukraine is abhorrent and reprehensible, and New Zealand continues to respond to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s mindless acts of aggression,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.
The United States has agreed to provide an additional $100 million in assistance to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-armour systems, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O) said it had suspended business operations in Russia, joining a slew of companies to exit the country. read more
In the small Russian city of Kaluga thousands of auto workers have been furloughed and food prices are soaring as Western sanctions hit its flagship foreign carmakers. r
Ukrainian officials say between 150 and 300 bodies might be in a mass grave by a church in Bucha, north of the capital Kyiv.
Satellite images taken weeks ago show bodies of civilians on a street in the town, a private U.S. company said, undercutting Russia’s claims that Ukrainian forces caused the deaths or that the scene was staged.
Reuters reporters saw at least four victims shot through the head in Bucha, one with their hands tied behind their back.
Residents have recounted cases of several others slain, some shot through their eyes and one apparently beaten to death and mutilated.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian Serhii Lahovskyi buried the corpse of a childhood friend who had been shot through the mouth at very close range after disappearing when Russian troops occupied the town. r
Lahovskyi and others grabbed shovels and dug a shallow grave on a grass verge. They used a carpet to carry the remains, placing him in a ditch before covering him with wooden boards and shovelling earth on top.
“Why did these animals shoot him so?” Lahovskyi said, sobbing. “This is not Russia, this is a monster.”
Reuters could not independently verify the details of Lahovskyi’s account or who was responsible for the killings in Bucha.
Since launching its invasion Russia has failed to capture a single major city in what it calls a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazifying” Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s position is rejected by Ukraine and the West as a pretext for an unprovoked invasion that has uprooted a quarter of the country’s population. (Source: Reuters)