Daily review: Russian proxies attempt “false flag” in Donbas, even more support for NATO in Ukraine

ukraine news

One of the artillery shells by Russian militants fell on the schoolyard in Donbas. Fortunately children managed to hide earlier. 

Daily review

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Latest developments in the war zone

On the morning of 17 February, Russian-hybrid forces escalated hostilities all across the war zone in Ukraine’s Donbas region using heavy artillery pieces, mortars, and various lighter weapons. Two Ukrainian soldiers and three civillians were wounded.

Amid the attacks, an artillery shell hit a kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska when children were in the building, no one of them was injured, but three kindergarten workers were injured. Other reports mention a school building damaged in Vrubivka.

Meanwhile, Russian media have been disseminating allegations against the Ukrainian army saying that it was Ukraine who was attacking various settlements in the Donbas. Ukrainian, UK and US officials have already claimed the media-operation was an attempt to create a “false flag” and justify further attack on Ukraine.

Ukrainian kindergarten and school hit as Russian-hybrid forces escalate hostilities all over Donbas

After a relatively calm period in the afternoon, shelling of residential districts renewed in the evening. One of the houses started burning.

The “Donbas genocide myth” in the making: a kindergarten shelling case study

Russian media were busy while Russian proxy forces of Donbas attacked Ukrainian positions on 17 February: their aggressive actions were flipped into a story of Ukraine’s alleged “Donbas genocide.”

When it became clear that the shelled kindergarten was on Ukrainian territory, they did a U-turn and started claiming Ukraine staged the whole incident to discredit Russia’s proxy forces.

The “Donbas genocide myth” in the making: a kindergarten shelling case study

After launching escalation, Russian proxies prepare to evacuate civilians, Ukraine’s Army chief says

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant-General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi has issued an official statement about the escalation of shelling in the Donbas, stating that Ukrainian forces are conducting exclusively defensive actions while any shelling is a provocation by Russian occupational forces.

He also stated that Russian-led militants in Donbas prepare to evacuate civilians, anticipating the aggravation of the situation.

After launching escalation, Russian proxies prepare to evacuate civilians, Ukraine’s Army chief says

Flash Ukraine news

  • “Russia is trying to stage a pretext for aggression against Ukraine, making disinformation efforts, and NATO tries to prevent… by revealing data about the actions & plans of Russian forces,” secretary general of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said after the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence.
  • President Zelenskyy calls on OSCE not to withdraw from Ukraine, as it was reported on 14 February when some of the OSCE countries started withdrawing their monitors from Ukraine. The presence of the mission is an additional deterrence to prevent civilian deaths.
  • Ukraine wants to have a system of guarantees while it is on its way to joining NATO to have more opportunities to defend itself against the possible new aggression of the Russian Federation, president Zelenskyy stated during an interview.
  • The US State Department spokesperson confirmed the expulsion of Deputy Chief of Embassy in Moscow Bart Gorman. But while news of his expulsion broke on Thursday, the spokesperson said that Gorman departed from his position in Moscow last week.
  • Lloyd Austin, United States Secretary of Defense, stated that the US has seen Russia stocking up on blood supplies which could mean preparation for further attack.
  • A written response from the Russian Federation to the United States on security proposals reportedly states that the United States did not give a constructive response to the proposals of the Russian Federation on security guarantees, in the absence of the willingness of the United States to negotiate. Therefore “Moscow may resort to military-technical measures.” In the same letter Russia denies it can launch further attack on Ukraine.
  • About 20 members of Kyiv city council have registered with the territorial defense. Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klytschko urged the staff and representatives in the council to register and “show by own example that we are ready together, side by side defend our capital.”
  • According to OSINT intelligence, Russian-Belarusian army in Belarus has set up a boat bridge across the Prypiat river in just 6 kilometers to the Ukrainian border, on the territory of the Chornobyl exlusion zone.
  • Boris Johnson has claimed the shelling of a nursery school in the Donbas region of Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists was a “false-flag operation” aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian government. “We fear very much that that is the kind of thing we will see more of over the next few days.”
  • Finland will allocate 4 million of humanitarian aid for Ukraine

Ukraine, Poland, and the UK are officially launching an alliance

The new tripartite format of cooperation is aimed at strengthening security and developing trade between the states.

Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba announced this at a press conference with the United Kindgom Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in Kyiv on 17 February.

Now it’s official: Ukraine, UK, Poland form security alliance

Mine clearance systems and healthcare material for Ukraine from Slovakia

Slovakia will provide for Ukraine two Božena 5 mine clearance systems and healthcare material worth €1.7 million. Slovakia takes all necessary steps to help Ukrainian citizens to clear “large fields in the territory of Ukraine,” of mines, said Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OľaNO).

Currently, the Donbas area in Ukraine is one of the most mined regions in the world which has already taken hundreds of lives of civilians. Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok said the mine clearance systems should be viewed as defense devices that will help civilians not die.

The largest-ever training for Ukrainian aviation

As part of the Snowstorm-2022 military exercises, Ukrainian aviation conducted the largest-ever training, successfully destroying many targets.

Of course, Ukrainian aviation is not the strong side of Ukraine’s military, as the planes are mostly old and Ukraine has roughly ten times fewer combat planes than Russia. Still, they can save many lives of Ukrainian soldiers should the war start.

More about how the Ukrainian and Russian military compare and how prepared they are here.

How prepared is Ukraine’s army to fight Russia in 2022?

Opinion polls show support for NATO membership in Ukraine further increases while attitude towards Russia deteriorates

According to the latest surveys by KMIS sociological center and Raiting group, the Russian military build-up around Ukraine is mirrored in even higher support for NATO and dislike for Russia. On average, 62% of Ukrainians and 70% of those who would vote on referendum are in favor of NATO membership for Ukraine. The positive attitide for Russia has decreased to the record low since 2014 and is at the level of 39%.

Also, 55% of Ukrainians believe Ukraine should quit Minsk agreements if Russia recognizes LNR and DNR proxies.

Attitude of Ukrainians towards Russian and Russians towards Ukraine. Source: KMIS ~

Attitude of Ukrainians towards Russian and Russians towards Ukraine. Source: KMIS

Support of NATO membership in Ukraine. Source: Rating ~

Support of NATO membership in Ukraine. Source: Rating

As media literacy of Ukraine’s audiences increases pro-Russian TV has fewer viewers

A new trend is emerging: as the media literacy of Ukraine’s audiences increases, up-and-rising YouTube journalists overtake pro-Russian TV channels. YouTube is becoming the go-to news source for many Ukrainians. Independent Ukrainian channels are overtaking both the oligarch-dominated TV market and pro-Russian YouTube content. This could spell hope for independent journalists in the whole neighboring region, but YouTube presents its own set of risks.

Popularity of Ukraine’s YouTube journalism overtakes pro-Russian TV

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