War in Ukraine, Day 16: Russian effort to take Ukraine escalates

Russian invasion of Ukraine

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun
Russian forces, previously standing idle outside Kyiv, are starting to move, and several airstrikes have taken place in western Ukraine. The Russian effort to take Ukraine is escalating, and we can expect more casualties and refugees in the days to come. Turkey has stepped in as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, as the EU adopts a compromise resolution on Ukraine’s European prospects. Meanwhile, the West is still keeping military options off the table, which enables Russia to escalate. 

Morning report day 16 – March 11

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

BTG: Battalion Tactical Group, approximately 600–800 officers and soldiers, of whom roughly 200 are infantrymen, typically equipped with roughly 10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles.

Situation

Russian invasion of Ukraine

According to information from the General Staff of Ukraine as of Operational information on 06.00, 11.03.2022 and [midnight]:

The sixteenth day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people against the Russian military invasion has begun. Ukraine’s defence forces are repelling and holding back the offensive of the Russian armed forces in all directions.

There have been no significant changes in the position of our troops and enemy troops in the last six hours.

[During the day, the occupiers tried to gain a foothold on the occupied frontiers, regrouped troops, restored combat capability, replenished stocks of missiles, ammunition and fuel and lubricants.]

[Due to the significant loss of personnel and the slowdown in the offensive, the enemy continues to form a reserve in Russia.]

[In the Polissya direction, the enemy is trying to break through the defences of Ukraine’s defenders in the areas of Poliske, Kukhari, Zhovtneve, Andriyivka, Kopyliv, Motyzhyn, Buzova, Horenychi, Bucha, Demydiv, and block Kyiv.]

[In the northern direction, the enemy was stopped while trying to break through the defence of Chernihiv. Further movement of the enemy in the direction of Brovary from the east is not excluded.]

During the clashes with units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which continue in the Chernihiv Oblast, the invaders continue to suffer significant losses. As a result, the personnel of the occupying forces in this area have been demoralized and are being taken prisoner.

[In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy continues unsuccessful attempts to blockade the city from the north. Rifle regiments formed at the expense of Russian reservists were involved in the fighting in the Kharkiv region.]

[In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, the occupiers are concentrating their efforts on capturing the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Sievoerodonetsk.]

[In the Pivdennyi Buh direction, the occupiers tried to gain a foothold on the achieved frontiers, establish control over the city of Mykolayiv and develop an offensive in the directions of Zaporizhia and Kryvyi Rih.

[The Russian occupiers were stopped, demoralized and suffered heavy losses.]

[In the Black Sea and Azov operational zones, weather conditions were on our side and forced the occupying ships to return to naval bases and bases.]

[The Armed Forces of Ukraine, in close cooperation with other components of the Defence Forces, are frantically resisting the Russian interventionists, inflicting significant losses on its manpower and military equipment.]

Regarding the actions of the enemy. Aggressive Russian propaganda is beginning to work actively in the temporarily occupied territories. By spreading pro-Russian messages, the occupiers are trying to reach an agreement with the local population.

In the Kherson Oblast, the enemy is trying to introduce an administrative-police regime, creating a system of commandant’s offices to maintain “order” in the temporarily occupied settlements.

In the urgent need to replenish units of the Russian Armed Forces and other illegally created terrorist armed groups, in the Rostov region, in correctional colonies, there is continued work among prisoners with a proposal to join the occupying forces in exchange for amnesty. The armed forces of the Russian Federation are ready to take everyone for the service, even those who have no experience of military service.”

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, On March 10, the Ukrainian Armed Forces dealt a devastating blow to two large columns of equipment of the Russian fascist occupiers during a joint operation. According to preliminary information, a whole regiment of airborne landing troops of the Russian Federation with a full set of equipment: tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, “Grad”, etc. ”

Three attack aircraft Su-25 occupiers and one Su-34 did not reach their airfield and crashed in Russia, media reports.

According to British Defence Intelligence, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 March:

  • Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities. This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress.
  • Protests against Russian occupation have been reported throughout the week in the Russian-held cities of Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk. 400 protestors were reportedly detained by Russian forces in the Kherson Oblast yesterday.
  • Fighting north-west of Kyiv remains ongoing with Russian forces failing to make any significant breakthroughs.
  • The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled by Russian forces and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling.

  • Ukrainian air defences appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia’s modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them from achieving a degree of control of the air.

According to ABC News, a senior US defence official told reporters on Thursday:

  • The Russian forces closest to the heart of Kyiv are coming from the northwest, in the area of the Hostomel Airport. Since Wednesday, these troops fought their way three miles closer, bringing them within roughly nine miles of the city center, according to the official. The airport is only about five miles as the bird flies from the outer city limits. [Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that a [64-kilometre] convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, with armoured units seen in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city, the Times of Israel reports. “Some of the vehicles have moved into forests. Near Lubyanka, a town near the Antonov Airport towed howitzers and other artillery were seen set up in firing positions in a patch of forest. Rocket launchers were spotted near Ivankiv, where the back of the convoy had been.”]
  • Two parallel lines of advance from the northeast are also making progress on their push to the capital, the closest of these troops now about 25 miles from the center of Kyiv.
  • Some Russian troops from one of those lines, emanating from above the town of Sumy, seem to have turned around, heading back northeast. The official said the reason for the about-face is unclear.
  • Russian forces have now fired more than 775 missiles against Ukraine, the official said. This is up from an estimate of 710 on Wednesday.”

Russian losses Ukraine war

As of 11.03.2022 morning, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the enemy of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • personnel – more than 12.000 people (+266),
  • tanks – 353 units (+18),
  • armoured combat vehicles – 1165 units (+60),
  • artillery systems – 125 (+2),
  • multiple rocket launchers – 58 (+2),
  • air defence means – 31 (+2),
  • aircraft – 57 (+8),
  • helicopters – 83 (+2);
  • automotive technology – 558 (+32),
  • light speedboats – 3 units (no change),
  • fuel and lubricant tanks – 60 (no change),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 7 (no change).

Humanitarian

More than 1 million children have now fled Ukraine as the war continues to ravage the country, UNICEF said today. Most have fled with their families to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania.

“The number of children on the move is staggering, an indication of how desperate the situation for children and families in Ukraine has become,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Afshan Khan. “Children are leaving everything they know behind in search of safety. This is heart-breaking.”.

According to the Centre for Defence Strategies, Ukraine continues to evacuate people from the affected cities and regions. On March 10, Ukraine opened humanitarian corridors along the following routes: Trostyanets, Krasnopillia, Sumy – Poltava; Mariupol – Zaporizhia; Volnovakha – Pokrovsk; Izium – Lozovaya; Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpen, Gostomel – Kyiv. Russia officially committed to a ceasefire but failed the commitment again. The evacuation situation is as follows:

  • 44 evacuation buses evacuated 2,000 people from Izium (Kharkiv Oblast). Humanitarian aid is delivered to the city;
  • 36 evacuation buses arrived in Sumy. About 50,000 people were evacuated from Sumy for the last two days;
  • In Bucha, Gostomel, and Irpen (Kyiv Oblast) managed to evacuate more than 1,000 people, including 100 children, from under the Romanov Bridge. Women, children, and people with disabilities are now taken to a safe location;
  • The evacuation from Volnovakha failed due to the Russian forces
  • Mariupol is still under blockade. Not a single person has been evacuated. Humanitarian aid to Mariupol was not delivered.

 

According to Ukrayinska Pravda the situation in the regions are as follows:

  • Kyiv Oblast: Fighting in Irpin, Makarov, near Borodyanka. The Belogorod community and the Bucha community are being shelled. Rocket shelling of Baryshivka, Brovary district, including the shelling of multi-storey residential buildings and the residential sector. The region is preparing to evacuate the population from the most dangerous settlements
  • Chernihiv Oblast: Russian aircraft bombed Chernihiv twice at night. In addition to the destruction of the residential sector, a large-diameter water supply system was damaged. The water supply to the city has been cut off. Part of the city without heating, more than half – without light. Utilities are constantly repairing networks. Nizhyn was shelled by “Uragan” – 2 dead and 8 wounded. Defensive battles near Chernihiv, several successful counterattacks of the Armed Forces in the direction of Kyiv in a day.
  • Sumy Oblast: Lebedyn was bombed again at night – it happens every night, Russian enemy planes drop bombs on residential neighbourhoods and critical infrastructure.
  • Zhytomyr Oblast: There were three air alarms in the evening and at night, there is no information about the destruction and loss.
  • Dnipropetrovsk Oblast: three airstrikes were inflicted on the city, one person was killed earlier.

  • Kharkiv Oblast: During the night the occupiers hit the power substation in Pyatihatki in Kharkiv, the culprit was a fire in a dormitory nearby. In the region – fighting with the Russian military in some directions.
  • Zaporizhia region: the situation is under control, the radiation background is within normal limits.
  • Volyn: Explosions at the airport near Lutsk at 05.45. The fire is being extinguished. Previously, there has been missile strikes.
  • Kirovohrad, Rivne, Vinnytsia, Zakarpattia, Khmelnytsky, Ternopil, Cherkasy, Poltava, Mykolayiv, Odesa: calm.
  • Kherson Oblast: there were heavy explosions in the morning.
  • Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast: Three airstrikes in the city in the morning.
  • Luhansk Oblast: Shelling of Sievoerodonetsk and Rubizhne continues with the use of volley fire systems. In Sievoerodonetsk there are many fires in residential buildings In Rubizhne there is a fire in a home for the elderly, damage to a gas pipeline, in Lysychansk and Hirsky, where there is no water supply for a long time, technical water supply has been established.
  • Donetsk Oblast: Kramatorsk – quiet, on the Svetlodar arch Russians, damaged a high-pressure gas pipeline. Mariupol is under siege. Our. The city remains in a difficult situation.

Legal

According to the General Staff of Ukraine

“in some settlements, the enemy, in violation of international humanitarian law, commits robberies, hostages and executions of civilians.”

Washington on Thursday warned Moscow about what some observers describe as war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine, VOA News report. “US officials say Russia is “turning to a strategy of laying waste to population centers” in Ukraine, as high-level talks between the warring parties made no progress.

“We’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would under the Geneva Conventions constitute a war crime,said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s plan to quickly capture Ukraine, it is clear now, has failed,” Price said of the two-week-old invasion.

“So, he is now turning to a strategy of laying waste to population centers to try to break the will of the people of Ukraine, something he will not be able to do.”

Environmental

On climate change: War in Ukraine Threatens Germany’s 2030 EV Goal, Global Fleet Management reports.

“Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of nickel, and the war in Ukraine is driving prices skyward. The price has risen by 18% since the end of 2021 alone. […]

Nickel is a significant ingredient used in lithium-ion battery manufacturing. The fallout from the war in Ukraine includes escalating prices for nickel, a key element in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, threatening Germany’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal by 2030, according to intelligence services provider GlobalData. […]

German automakers have already been affected by the crisis. Volkswagen, which had contributed more than 20% of country’s EV sales in 2021, has suspended production at two factories in eastern Germany because the crisis has interrupted deliveries of critical parts from western Ukraine.” If the war continues more manufacturers might be forced to suspend their operations.”

Support

There is no talk at the Pentagon of sending Patriot systems to Ukraine, as they would require US troops on the ground to operate them, ABC News report.

“It’s not a system that the Ukrainians are familiar with. And as we have made very clear, there will be no US troops fighting in Ukraine,” the official said. “While the US is sending its anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapons, it is also working with other countries to send items the US doesn’t have in its arsenal but could be used effectively by Ukrainian troops.” This “includes air-defence systems that are ‘more sophisticated’ than the shoulder-fired Stinger missiles being sent by the US So, while the Pentagon has rejected the idea of sending Patriot missile batteries, it could be helping facilitate the transfer or replenishment of similar systems that Ukrainians are trained on.”

Ukrainian defence officials claim that over 20,000 individuals from 52 nations have volunteered to join the Ukrainian armed forces resisting the Russian invasion, perhaps the most notable volunteer effort since the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War,

CEPA reports:

“Russia has responded with threats, trying to scare and sway potential volunteers to reconsider, and threatening repercussions if captured by Russian forces. Russia says that those joining the Ukrainian armed forces are bandits, criminals, and mercenaries and will be punished accordingly. Defense Ministry spokesperson, Igor Konashenkov, said on March 3 that any foreign volunteer taken in Ukraine will not be accorded prisoner of war (PoW) status, but will be treated as a law-breaker accountable for their acts. Konashenkov hinted at executions by stating that, ‘at best, they can expect to be prosecuted as criminals.’ Naturally, if that is the best-case scenario, then the worst-case scenario would suggest execution as a possible outcome.”

The EU summit adopted an ambiguous decision in support of Ukraine’s European perspective, European Pravda reports. The informal meeting of the European Council (EU summit), which took place on Friday night, ended with the approval of a declaration containing a compromise recognition of the prospect of Ukraine’s membership in the EU.

New developments

  1. Russia’s disinformation offensive impedes diplomatic efforts to end the war, CNN reports. The misinformation campaign makes it impossible for diplomatic efforts to make real progress since there is no common definition of reality on which to base discussions.
  2. United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday spoke to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmtryo Kuleba on phone and discussed the coordinated efforts to provide Ukraine with additional security as well as humanitarian assistance, RepublicWorld.com reports. According to an official statement by US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, they also discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts to stop “Putin’s war of choice”.
  3. In a phone call with Biden, Erdogan stresses the importance of Ukraine war mediation, the Times of Israel reports. The conversation comes following failed negotiations in Turkey between Ukrainian and Russian top diplomats, and President Herzog’s visit to Ankara. According to the Turkish presidency’s statement, Erdogan also demanded the lifting of “unfair sanctions” Washington placed on its fellow NATO member in 2019 after Turkey adopted a Russian defence system. Ankara seeks to acquire 40 F-16 fighter jets and the spare parts needed to maintain and modernize its existing F-16 fleet.

Assessments

1. On the War

During the last 12 hours, we have seen reports of Russian forces, previously standing idle outside Kyiv, starting to move. Additionally, the media reports several airstrikes in Western Ukraine. The Russian effort to take Ukraine is escalating and we will see both a substantial increase in the number of casualties and refugees in the days and weeks to come.

CIA Director William Burns told lawmakers Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to agree to settlement talks with Ukraine for tactical reasons because he “does not have a sustainable end game” for his invasion, ABC News report.

According to Burns, Putin is turning Russia into a “propaganda bubble.”

“He’s intensified his domination of the state-run media and in his strangulation of independent media, especially in recent years, and particularly since the invasion of Ukraine began.”

The truth will eventually reach the Russian population as the casualties become known, the economic consequences for ordinary Russians start having an effect, and Ukrainian friends and relatives across the border shares news and pictures of the atrocities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is losing the “information war” in Ukraine, CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday, brushing away Moscow’s claims that Kyiv could use chemical weapons. He said that the US needs to “focus” on Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons both in terms of a “false flag” operation and in reality.

“This is something as all of you know very well is very much a part of Russia’s playbook,” Burns said. “They’ve used those weapons against their own citizens. They’ve at least encouraged the use in Syria and elsewhere. So, it’s something we take very seriously.”

The head of US Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, presented the US information-sharing with Ukraine and argued that “the intelligence that we’re sharing is accurate. It’s relevant, and it’s actionable”.

According to Defence Intelligence Agency Director, Gen. Scott Berrier, one of many flawed assumptions made by President Putin before launching the invasion, was that Russia has a sanctions-proof economy. Even though he has a “very large war chest in foreign currency reserves and gold reserves” Putin did not anticipate the sanctions against the Russian Central Bank. Additionally, he did not expect the newfound resolve of the German leadership. The Defence Intelligence Agency Director believes Putin deeply underestimated the economic consequences and believes they’re just now being felt in Russia, and that’s going to intensify.

2. Support and consequences

During the last 15 days, I have twice a day presented some of the consequences of war. For obvious reasons, I have focused on the humanitarian crisis and the evolving migration crisis. It has already been designated as the most severe refugee crisis since WW2. But I have also injected other consequences of the war, like climate, environment, food and energy security, financial markets, industrial production, inflation, cost of living, access to everyday necessities, transport, tourism, global supply chain, local industry and, not at least our common security.

These are only some out of many examples of how a war many perceive to be distant has direct consequences for us all.

Remaining at a “safe distance” implies accepting the global ripple effects of the Russian war in Ukraine, as we remain hostage to Putin’s aggressive foreign policy in general, and his unprovoked and unjustifiable war in Ukraine in particular.

The question “what is NATO’s red line” remains more important than ever.

The West watched the hybrid war in Ukraine evolve into a full-scale war before responding forcefully. What will be the next event that triggers even stronger reactions?

And crucially, shouldn’t we act instead of reacting?

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