War in Ukraine, Day 7: Russia escalates air and missile strikes against major cities

Russia bombs Kharkiv

The proud city of Kharkiv, after Russia's criminal bombing of civilian structures. This is Ploshcha Svobody (Independence Square), the largest square in Europe. Photo: Dariya Slobodeniuk 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun
 The Russian military on Wednesday escalated its use of air and missile strikes against major Ukrainian cities where local military and civilians have mounted a more formidable defense than the Kremlin may have anticipated. So far, however, the Alliance and its member states have been extremely reluctant. Calls for a no-fly zone to be imposed by NATO forces over Ukraine have been rejected by several nations. However, voices in support are also heard.

Morning report, March 3

The report is based on media reports, expert analyses, and official information posted online.

Situation

According to information from the General Staff of Ukraine as of Operational information on 06.00, 03.03.2022

“The eighth day of the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion continues. The occupying forces, having failed in almost all areas in which they were advancing, resorted to tactics of night shelling of residential areas of large cities.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to steadfastly defend certain borders and counterattack and block the occupiers’ forces in various directions.

In the Volyn direction, the enemy continues to hold demonstrations along the state border.

In the Polissya direction, the enemy is trying to carry out offensive operations in the area of ​​the settlements of Kozarovychi, Vyshhorod, Fastiv, and Obukhiv [West and close to Kyiv city]. Further deployment of field logistics camps in the Borodyanka, Katyuzhanka, and Gavronshchyna districts was noted.

In the northern direction, the Russian occupiers are without success in the Ukrainian cities of Chernihiv, Nizhyn, and Sumy, Lebedyn, and Okhtyrka, trying to avoid clashes with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, are trying to reach the northern outskirts of Kyiv.

Enemy units and subdivisions were concentrated in the areas of the settlements of Baryshevka, Nova Basan, and Lyubech [East and North of Kyiv]. Part of the forces to the [Battalion Tactical Groups] BTGs from the 200th SMBr 14th Army Corp of the Northern Fleet of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which has actually lost combat capability, is regrouping and trying to attack in the direction of Brovary and Kyiv.

In the Slobozhansky direction, the enemy is conducting an offensive operation in the areas of Zolochiv, Kharkiv, and Balakliya, trying to continue the offensive in the direction of Lozova (Me: NE of Dnipro city), and catastrophically in need of replenishment of lost equipment and personnel.

In the Donetsk direction, the occupiers of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps, with the support of artillery, continue their offensive operations in the areas of the settlements of Novy Aidar, Volnovakha and Mariupol. The enemy did not achieve the main goal of capturing Mariupol and reaching the administrative border of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

In the Tavriya direction, the enemy does not abandon attempts to conduct an offensive operation. After regrouping and introducing a part of operational reserves, it concentrated the main efforts in the direction of Mykolayivv – Voznesensk.

In the Black Sea Operational Zone, naval groups of the Black Sea Fleet continue to fire on civilian ships and capture sailors.

For the first time, Russian war criminals have acknowledged the mass deaths and wounds of their own soldiers. During the evening briefing, the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian federation published his own information about the losses of the Russian occupational forces in Ukraine: 498 dead and 1,597 wounded.

Part of the enemy forces continues to operate in the areas of settlements Enerhodar, Vasylivka, Tokmak, Novopetrivka. After regrouping and involvement part of the operational reserves from the 205th separate motorized infantry brigade of the 49th General Army of the Russian Armed Forces, it continues the offensive in order to reach the outskirts of Zaporizhia and Mariupol.

To ensure further landing of tactical airborne troops from the 10th special brigade of the Russian Armed Forces in the area of ​​the settlement of Balovne [Mykolajiv oblast], the invader landed a small landing party, which was destroyed.

In the waters of the Black Sea, there is a movement of the landing detachment of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation consisting of four large landing ships accompanied by three missile boats in the direction of Odesa.” 

Russian losses Ukraine war

Ukraine’s official estimates of Russian losses provide a much higher estimate of KIA

The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine claims that the Russian forces continue to suffer losses from airstrikes by the Air Force. On March 2, the crews of the Su-24m and Su-25 combat aircraft provided air support to units of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, destroying columns of Russian military equipment and manpower in Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv oblasts. This information is not verified.

The General Staff claims that during the day, anti-aircraft missile units destroyed three enemy planes and two helicopters of the occupiers.

In an address tonight, President Zelensky told the Russian forces:

“you will not get anything here. No one will be conquered. Even if you can accumulate more equipment and more people, it doesn’t change anything.”

During a speech tonight, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov said:

  • Belarusian troops transferred to readiness #1
  • Horlivka (which has been under occupation by Russian proxy forces for 8 years) is a Ukrainian city. We take ours.
  • Everything is done according to the plan that is in our structures. If the enemy thinks that we will only defend ourselves, they are wrong.
  • Occupiers do not understand where they got and are disoriented, scared, and without fuel. They just want to get home.
  • Ukrainians will go out and defend their country.
  • Ukraine is working on closing the sky over Ukraine. If we don’t, our children will be vulnerable. This is now # 1.

Russia’s advance on Ukraine appeared to have gathered pace as its capital city remains under grave threat while its second-largest city Kharkiv was battered with strikes.

Russian troops were in the center of the Ukrainian port of Kherson on Thursday after a day of conflicting claims over whether Moscow had captured a major urban center for the first time in its eight-day invasion. Russia’s defense ministry said it controlled Kherson on Wednesday but an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded that Ukrainian forces continued to defend the Black Sea port of about 250,000 people.

Ukrainian media report:

  • The Russians fired a missile at Kyiv, it was shot down by the air defense system. The wreckage of the rocket fell near the South Railway Station. The explosion near the station damaged the heating network and injured a man.
  • During the shelling of Kharkiv, Russian invaders damaged the cathedral in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
  • In Kyiv, eyewitnesses heard of at least four explosions.
  • A missile was fired at Sumy. Five people were hospitalized.
  • At midnight, the Russian occupiers carried out airstrikes on Izium in the Kharkiv region. Eight civilians were killed.
  • Groups of Russian soldiers and officers continue to surrender.

Summary for the night from the heads of regional state administrations:

  • Zhytomyr region. Zhytomyr – air alarm at night and in the morning. In general, relatively calm.
  • Kirovograd region. Calm down, one alarm at night.
  • Volyn. Quiet, one air alarm at night.
  • Kherson region. At night, Grad MLRS has fallen around the city. In the morning – relatively quiet.
  • Zaporizhia region. Zaporizhia is quiet, in the area there are fights.
  • Rivne region. Quietly.
  • Vinnytsia. Quietly.
  • Khmelnytskyi region. Quiet, one air alarm at night
  • Cherkasy region. One air alarm per night in the area. In the morning – in Uman.
  • Lviv region. Everything is calm.
  • Chernihiv region. Several air raids at night (Chernihiv, Nizhyn, Pryluky, Ichnia). Defense of Chernihiv and Nizhyn.
  • Sumy – one air alarm since the evening. The night is relatively calm.
  • Poltava region. The night passed quietly.
  • Bukovina. Quietly.
  • Ivano-Frankivsk region. Calm down, one alarm at night.
  • Luhansk region. Sievoerodonetsk and Lysychansk were being shelled: a shell flew near the regional children’s hospital. Minor damage. It’s hot in Popasna. The gas pipeline was cut off.
  • Donetsk region. Mariupol survived! A humanitarian catastrophe is approaching in Volnovakha. There is no humanitarian corridor. The Ukrainian Catholic University forwarded to the Pope a request for assistance in creating a humanitarian corridor. Because the appeal to international humanitarian organizations has not yielded results so far. Need a corridor!
  • Ternopil region. Quietly.
  • Odessa region. Relatively calm, one alarm at night.
  • Mykolayiv region.  In the morning in the Pervomaiskyi district – two airstrikes in the village. Genivka, there are no victims. In the morning – an alarm.
  • Dnipropetrovsk region. The night passed quietly.
  • Kharkiv region. The air attack will take place almost all night in the city: the Shevchenko plant, residential buildings. The Izium district was attacked in the region.
  • Kyiv region. Several alarms throughout the region and separately – in Vasilkov and Bila Tserkva. Boryspil, Obukhiv, Brovary districts – the night passed relatively calmly. Vyshgorodsky – the situation is tense.
  • Transcarpathia. The night passed quietly.

Humanitarian

One million people have fled Ukraine in the seven days since Russia invaded the country, the United Nations’ refugee agency said on Wednesday. “In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighboring countries,” Filippo Grandi, the UN high.

Volnovakha is still blocked by battle activities with the Ukrainian government trying to make humanitarian corridors, so far still in a negotiation process with Russians. The city has been on the verge of a humanitarian disaster for days already.

More than a million people have signed an open petition to NATO to protect Ukraine.

“We, the people of the world, are asking NATO member states and Ukraine-friendly countries to close the airspace over Ukraine and bring peacekeeping troops into Ukraine, provide military assistance to Kyiv and support the Ukrainian people.”

Legal

The war crimes investigation accusing Vladimir Putin of committing atrocities in his process of invading Ukraine, bombarding civilian infrastructure, and killing civilians has begun. The investigation by the International Criminal Court opened on Wednesday night after Britain and 37 allies took Russia to the court over invading a sovereign country and carrying out “abhorrent” attacks.

Environmental

Ukraine often called the breadbasket of Europe, is home to a third of the world’s most fertile soil. It is also a world leader in the production of sunflower oil, barley, and maize, and – together with Russia – provides a third of global wheat supplies.

The invasion has come “just as the growth and planting season starts” in Ukraine and Russia, said Thomas Ølholm, a regional food security adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “Many fields [in Ukraine] will not be maintained or planted. Many agricultural smallholders will be affected and lose their livelihoods for a period of time, or permanently.”

From higher prices in nations already struggling with hunger crises – such as Yemen and Lebanon – to reduced harvests in disaster-prone Bangladesh, the food impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely be long-lasting and felt across continents, economists and aid officials warn.

Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Roman Shakhmatenko, stated the following during the Second Part of the 5th Session of the UN Environment Assembly: “As a result of the invasion, Ukraine’s natural heritage suffers significant damage:

  • A lot of Ramsar Sites in Ukraine have been damaged by the occupiers as a result of hostilities.
  • Chornobyl area facilities are occupied by the invaders.
  • The Russian military is deploying positions in the immediate vicinity of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhia NPP in Energodar.

However, Ukrainian foresters, watermen, state environmental inspectors, Natural Reserve Fund workers, units of the SES of Ukraine, and local authorities are doing everything to protect Ukraine’s environment from the consequences of the occupier’s actions. Man-made accidents are quickly localized. Therefore, the health of Ukrainians is not endangered at the moment”. Unquote.

New developments

The Russian military on Wednesday escalated its use of air and missile strikes against major cities where local military and civilians have mounted a more formidable defense than the Kremlin may have anticipated.

Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have so far not yielded any results. Based on the experience from the last 8 years, no breakthrough is expected. Russia sees negotiations from the position of strength as a tool to impose its will on Ukraine. Russia does not itself compromise.

Support

The White House on Wednesday detailed a new slate of economic measures levied against Russia and its ally Belarus. According to CNN, these includes new restrictions extending export control policies to Belarus and preventing diversion of tech and software to Russia through the country, which the administration said:

“will severely limit the ability of Russia and Belarus to obtain the materials they need to support their military aggression against Ukraine, project power in ways that threaten regional stability and undermine global peace and security.”

In addition, the US and allies are identifying 22 Russian “defense-related entities,” including firms that provide technological and material support for Russia’s military.

Additional costs for Russia:

  • Canada has announced new sanctions against Russia – they target 10 key people from Rosneft and Gazprom.
  • Germany has confiscated a 156-meter superyacht from Putin’s friend, billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
  • The World Bank said it had suspended all cooperation programs with Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine.
  • The H&M brand stops all sales in Russia.
  • Japan is freezing the assets of 7 Russian banks that were previously disconnected from the SWIFT system.

Meanwhile, the Russian government is already preparing for life in new isolated realities. The local government submitted to the State Duma a package of bills “on socio-economic measures to support citizens and businesses in the face of sanctions.” It deals with the simplified procedure of public procurement, restrictions on the export of medicines, the abolition of business inspections, indexation of pensions, and more.

Assessments

The Center for Defence Strategies assesses that we, so far, have seen no real occupation. Quote:

A very important element of this war, its phenomena, it that even if Russians have managed to gain control over some towns around Ukraine, and put their troops in some areas, they do not attempt to occupy those areas in a full sense of the word. They do not put any occupational administrations and do not try to participate in any life of the areas where they stand. Partly this is due to a complete rejection of Russians around all towns, even in the south of Ukraine there were protests against occupants (most well-known today in Melitopol, yesterday – Berdyansk).

 

Also, a proper occupation seems never to have been the plan – Russians did not bring the stabilization units with them. They also do not control the areas between their positions, which lets Ukrainian forces move freely between the Russian positions. This is quite a weak tactic for a prolonged war and can be only explained by the total numbers of Russian forces and their inability to control a vast and diverse Ukraine territory. Thus the Russian campaign can be more explained as a multidirectional raid. It did make sense subject to a realization of the main goal: Kyiv capture and seizing power. But since that has failed the whole tactic does not work.” 

For the last week, we have seen multiple claims of demoralized Russian forces. In interviews, many of the Russian prisoners of war claim that they did not know they were being sent into war. According to experts, we are seeing a lot of abandoned vehicles without much damage, others destroyed and burned out by Ukrainian forces, but again many after they were found abandoned or disabled. This reinforces the many claims of bad logistics and weak morale.

Russia is, however, also posting pictures of destroyed and abandoned Ukrainian material. The result of warfighting, and logistic problems is evident on both sides.

The Russian military on Wednesday escalated its use of air and missile strikes against major cities where local military and civilians have mounted a more formidable defense than the Kremlin may have anticipated.

So far, however, the Alliance and its member states have been extremely reluctant. Calls for a no-fly zone to be imposed by NATO forces over Ukraine have been rejected by several nations.

Experts told Defense News a no-fly zone would present multiple challenges, up to and including worries it could ignite a larger conflict between Russia and NATO.

Voices of support are, however, also heard. Retired general Rick Hillier, former commander of the Canadian military, has described a no-fly zone as a necessary response to Russian aggression.

“I know that NATO is a defensive organization, but you don’t start defense at your front door.”

This is in line with my argumentation since December.

Hopefully, NATO will come around and decide to introduce a No-Fly zone across Ukraine.

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