- Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation Staff reported 49 attacks by Russian-hybrid forces in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Mariupol sectors.
- As of 19:30, 16 February, OSCE SMM recorded 189 violations in Donetsk Oblast; and 402 violations in Luhansk Oblast.
- Two Ukrainian soldiers and two civilians were wounded.
Ukraine News flash
- US Senate passed a resolution condemning Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine, AP citing Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
- President Joe Biden spoke to the US nation Friday on the crisis with Russia over Ukraine, amid increased shelling in eastern Ukraine and possible false-flag attacks he said Russia could use to falsely justify an invasion. Answering questions afterward, he appeared to go further than he has before about what Russian President Vladimir Putin might do, saying, “As of this moment, I am convinced he has made the decision” to invade.
- European intellectuals, teachers, politicians and journalists appealed to Emmanuel Macron, President of France, which currently presides EU Council, to accelerate Ukraine’s membership in the European Union.
- “DNR head” Pushilin says evacuation of civilians to Russia is organized starting today, claiming that Ukrainian troops are “arrayed for battle” and only wait for Zelenskyy’s order to go in an offensive in the near future.
- President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda stated that Ukraine’s integration with the European Union must be accelerated, Delfi reports.
- “We do not need soldiers with foreign flags on our territory. We are not asking for it. Otherwise, the whole peace will be destabilized,” President Zelensky told rbc.ua
- According to international rating agency Fitch, there has been a marked increase in the risk of severe sanctions that could pressure sovereign and bank ratings of Russia.
- The US officials say that information about the withdrawal of Russian troops from the military drills is a ploy to mislead the United States and its NATO allies.
- Today, US President Biden will have a phone call with the NATO chief, leaders of the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, Poland, Romania, and France. The main topic of their discussion will be the situation around Ukraine.
- Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Secretary of State of the United Kingdom reiterated support for Ukraine in a joint statement.
- Ukrainian Foreign Minister refutes disinformation on “alleged offensive operations or acts of sabotage in chemical production facilities”
We categorically refute Russian disinformation reports on Ukraine’s alleged offensive operations or acts of sabotage in chemical production facilities. Ukraine does not conduct or plan any such actions in the Donbas. We are fully committed to diplomatic conflict resolution only.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 18, 2022
Escalation in Donbas: Ukrainian top brass warns Russian proxy forces prepared to stage terrorist acts in Donbas
Russian special services have mined a number of social infrastructure facilities in Donetsk in order to blow them up and accuse Ukraine, Ukraine’s Intelligence warns. The report and statements come after Russia’s occupation forces started evacuating civilians to Russia in the morning of 18 February 2022, claiming that Ukrainian troops are “arrayed for battle” and only wait for Zelenskyy’s order to go on the offensive in the near future.
“Donbas genocide myth” gets new spin with staged evacuation and foiled false flag “chem attacks”
After yesterday’s shelling of Ukrainian positions amid accusations of Ukraine’s alleged “Donbas genocide,” the occupation authorities of Donetsk (“DNR”) have reported about two ostensibly foiled Ukrainian plots to cause chemical leaks in the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka, claiming to have killed two Ukrainian “saboteurs” and intercepted “conversations of saboteurs in Polish.” As usual, all major Russian media have relayed this propaganda story without any questioning.
Meanwhile, a month ago, Ukrainian intelligence informed that the Russian occupation administration was preparing a false flag attack on a chemical plant in Horlivka to blame Ukraine for using chemical weapons as a pretext to intensify Russian aggression against Ukraine. Amid the escalation in the Donbas war zone and the fears of a possible full-scale Russian invasion, Russian propaganda has brought back its narrative on Ukraine’s impending “chemical provocations.”
This day in history
On 18 February 2015, Ukrainian troops retreat from Debaltseve, Donetsk Oblast. Some 6000 soldiers were surrounded by Russian forces and “DNR/LNR” militants with little possibility of retreat. Ukraine lost 269 defenders. About 300-600 men were wounded, taken prisoner or declared MIA.
Eight years since bloodiest days on Euromaidan
How Russia fabricated the case against Crimean Tatar leader Dzhelyal
“The security officers applied all the spectrum of ‘achievements’ of the recent years. Torture with electric shocks, secret witnesses, closed court hearings,” says lawyer Nikolai Polozov about a case in which the authorities of occupied Crimea jailed Crimean Tatar leader Nariman Dzhelyal and his cousins on contrived accusations of “sabotage.”
Renowned Crimean Tatar civic activist jailed after exposing Russia’s destruction of 16th century Khan’s Palace
The Russia-controlled court in occupied Crimea imprisoned Edem Dudakov, Delegate to the Qurultay, or National Assembly, of the Crimean Tatar people, for ten days, officially over a comment under a Facebook post in 2017. The man was arrested on 17 February, nine days after he informed about the latest irremediable damage which Russian occupation authorities caused to the Khan’s Palace, or Hansaray, in Bakhchysarai, a significant monument of Crimean Tatar cultural and historical heritage.
Ukrainian Jehovah’s Witness sentenced for talking about the Bible in Russian-occupied Crimea
A Russian occupation court established Artem Shabliy, 32, guilty of alleged ‘participation in an extremist organization.’ In reality, for practising his faith as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Since 2014, Russian occupation authorities in Crimea established a highly repressive regime. Punitive measures fall upon Crimean Tatars, the Peninsula’s indigenous people professing Islam who put up the primary resistance against Russian occupation back in 2014, ethnic Ukrainians, activists, journalists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups who either disagree with the occupation or show any form of dissent.
Surreal twist in Russia’s lawless ‘trial’ of Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev
Russia’s case against Crimean Tatar leader and Ukrainian MP Mustafa Dzhemilev for trying to enter his homeland Crimea hit new depths of cynicism last week. Russian ‘border’ guards confirmed that Mr. Dzhemilev did not cross the line on 3 May 2014. But the prosecutors now sought to have the indictment, and specifically the coordinates of that same ‘border’, changed.