Russo-Ukrainian War, day 44: Russian army prepares for offensive in eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv is still under blockade, Mariupol holds up

Russo Ukrainian War, day 44: Russian army prepares for offensive in eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv is still under blockade, Mariupol holds up

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Editor’s Note

Russian forces continue to focus on the capture of Mariupol, the offensive in the area of ​​the city of Izium, and breakthroughs in the defense of the Joint Forces in the Donetsk direction. In Mariupol, Ukrainian forces retain positions in the southwest of the city. The Russian army continues to launch airstrikes and shell civilian infrastructure, including the use of multiple rocket launchers. Amnesty International report tells of deliberate killings, unlawful violence, and widespread intimidation by Russian forces against unarmed civilians across the Kyiv region.

Morning report day 44 – April 08

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

Situation

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 08.04.2022, supplemented by its 18:00 assessment. The General Staff has reduced its assessments to two a day.

Russia's war against Ukraine

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue their armed aggression against Ukraine. The enemy is being prepared for the offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian occupiers are regrouping troops in order to complete the formation of the offensive group. Russian forces take measures to increase the aviation component and C2 system, and continue to conduct reconnaissance.

The main efforts of the Russian forces continue to focus on the capture of Mariupol, the offensive in the area of ​​the city of Izium, and breakthroughs in the defense of the Joint Forces in the Donetsk direction. In the Pivdennyi Buh direction, the Russian forces are trying to prevent the advance of our troops.

 

In the Volyn direction, there is a possibility of Russian missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure from the territory of the Republic of Belarus.

  • Separate units of the Russian occupiers from the Eastern Military District and the airborne troops of the Russian Armed Forces, which are recovering and regrouping on the territory of Belarus after leaving Ukraine, are likely to be sent to strengthen enemy troops in the Slobozhansky direction.
  • The Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus carry out operational and combat training activities at training grounds throughout the country. Up to four battalion tactical groups have been involved to carry out tasks to strengthen the protection of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.
  • There is still a possibility of missiles and airstrikes from the territory of the Republic of Belarus on military and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

In the Polissya direction, the enemy did not take active action, and the Russian occupying forces deployed to the territory of the Republic of Belarus are carrying out demonstration actions in order to prevent the transfer of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from this area to others.

In the Siversky direction, the Russian forces completed the regrouping and restoration of combat capability of units of the Central Military District in certain areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions. The possibility of sending these units to other operational areas, including for combat operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, is not ruled out.

  • The enemy completes the restoration of combat capability of units of the Central Military District in the Bryansk and Kursk regions.

In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces are taking active steps to increase control and communication in the interests of the offensive group.

  • In the Kharkiv oblast, up to five battalion tactical groups of the Russian enemy continue to blockade the city and fire at it from multiple rocket launchers, artillery, and mortars. To prevent the advance of our troops, the invaders put up minefields.
  • Separate units of the 6th, 20th All-Army, 1st Tank Army, Coastal Troops of the Baltic and Northern Fleets carry out operational equipment of the territory. The main focus is on the rehabilitation of railway sections from Kupyansk to Kharkiv, Izium, and Svatove. For this purpose, units of the railway troops of the 38th separate railway brigade of the Western Military District from Yaroslavl were involved.
  • In the temporarily occupied city of Izium, representatives of the so-called “DPR” perform the functions of the local “police” and carry out illegal checks of documents, searches of persons and premises of the local population.
  • The Russian occupiers are trying to continue the offensive in the direction of Slоvyansk and Barvinkove.

In the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, seven enemy attacks were repulsed in the past 24 hours, four tanks, two artillery systems, ten armored units, and eleven enemy vehicles were destroyed. Units of the occupying forces are concentrating their efforts on taking control of the settlements of Popasna and Rubizhne and establishing control over the city of Mariupol. Assault operations continue in most areas.

  • The enemy continues to launch airstrikes and shell civilian infrastructure, including the use of multiple rocket launchers. Such activities have been recorded in the districts of Kreminna, Sievierodonetsk, Novotoshkivske, Popasna, Novozvanivka, Sukha Balka, Novoselivka Druha, Stepne, Troitske, Novobahmutivka, Marinka and Solodke.

  • The Russian forces also intensified efforts in the Sievierodonetsk direction. Russian forces are trying to continue the offensive in the areas of Donetsk, Novotoshkivske, and Popasna.
  • It is likely that the Russian occupiers will soon try to break through the defense of our troops in the Sievierodonetsk, Avdiivka, and Kurakhov districts.
  • In the areas of the settlements of Rubizhne, Popasna, Nyzhne, Novotoshkivske, Zolote, and Borivske, the occupiers tried to carry out assault operations but were unsuccessful.
  • The Russian forces also tried to launch an offensive in the areas of Marinka, Borivske, and Solodke, where attempts to attack were unsuccessful.
  • The port of Berdyansk is used by the Russian occupiers to transfer weapons, military equipment, and personnel.

In the Pivdennyi Buh direction, the Russian forces are trying to prevent the further advance of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to improve the tactical position of Russian units in some areas.

  • The Russian enemy fired artillery in the Pivdennyi Buh direction and used army aircraft in some areas. Russian forces are trying to continue the offensive in the direction of the settlement of Oleksandrivka.

Russian naval groups in the Black and Azov Seas continue to carry out missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine, isolate the area of ​​hostilities, and conduct reconnaissance.

Air Force aircraft of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continued to strike at places where Russian enemy troops congregated.“

The territory of the Sumy Oblast is completely free from the Russians, Ukrayinska Pravda reports citing Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, head of the Sumy Administration. It is specified that the territory of the region is not safe, as there are many mined and unexplored areas. He advises not to drive to the side of the road, not to use forest roads and not to approach destroyed vehicles.

After the regrouping of troops, Russia may make a second attempt to attack Kyiv, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Brigadier General Oleksandr Gruzevych (Armed Forces of Ukraine). He believes that after the regrouping of troops, Russia might try to attack Kyiv again. High-ranking officials in the United States and several Western countries told reporters that the Kremlin was unlikely to abandon attempts to storm Kyiv. According to them, if they succeed in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russian troops may attack the capital again.

Several Russian air defense systems have been seized by a group of Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SOF), Command of the SOF of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports. They claim to have captured both BUK M1 and BUK M2 systems in working conditions.

During the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian General Staff has reported on the Russian manning and logistic challenges:

  • According to the available information, the so-called “volunteers” among Belarusians are being recruited from the territory of the Republic of Belarus to create new units for a private military company. The information is being clarified.
  • Due to heavy casualties during hostilities in Ukraine, the Western Military District’s contract selection points were given an additional task to select candidates for the replenishment of military units that lost their combat capability by contract servicemen. As it turned out, Russians do not want to enter military service under a contract, because they understand that they will soon be sent to the war zone in Ukraine. In March only 11 servicemen were enlisted (1st Panzer Army – 8; 6th General Army – 2; 20th General Army – none; and Baltic Fleet – 1).

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 24 hours):

  • In the north, Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from Ukraine to Belarus and Russia. At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas.
  • Many of these forces will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy further east, with any mass redeployment from the north likely to take at least a week minimum.
  • Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues and Russian forces have advanced further south from the strategically important city of Izium which remains under their control.
  • Progressing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine are the main focus of Russian military forces.
  • Russian artillery and airstrikes continue along the Donbas line of control. Russian strikes against infrastructure targets within the Ukrainian interior are likely intended to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian military to resupply and increase pressure on the Ukrainian government.
  • Despite refocussing forces and logistics capabilities to support operations in the Donbas, Russian forces are likely to continue facing morale issues and shortages of supplies and personnel.

As of Thursday 07.04.2022, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

Russian losses

  • personnel – more than 18900 people (+300),
  • tanks – 698 units (+14),
  • armored combat vehicles – 1891 units (+30),
  • artillery systems – 332 (no change),
  • multiple rocket launchers – 108 (+1)
  • air defense means – 55 (no change),
  • aircraft – 150 (no change),
  • helicopters – 135 (no change),
  • automotive technology – 1358 (+34),
  • vessels/boats – 7 units (no change),
  • fuel and lubricant tanks – 76 (no change),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 111 (+15)
  • Special equipment – 25 (no change)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (no change)

Humanitarian  

The mayor of Dnipro recommends evacuating women, children and the elderly, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. The mayor of Dnipro Borys Filatov advised women, children, the elderly, as well as those who are not involved in industrial enterprises and critical infrastructure to leave the Dnieper. According to him, the situation in Donbas is getting worse. Residents of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts are currently being evacuated.

According to UNHCR 4,319,494 refugees have been registered as of April 6. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 2,514,504 refugees, Romania 662,751, Hungary 404,021, the Republic of Moldova 401,704, Russia 350,632 (no changes since March 29), Slovakia 304,983 and Belarus 18,060. Among those who fled Ukraine are also Ukrainian nationals with dual citizenship. An additional 113,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between 21 and 23 February.

OHCHR has recorded 3,838 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of midnight of April 6. 1,611 were killed (including 131 children) and 2,227 injured (including 191 children).

169 children were killed, and 306 children injured – Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports that as of 8 a.m. on April 8.

Humanitarian corridors allowed for the evacuation of 4,676 people on 7 April, according to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine.

3,256 people travelled to Zaporizhzhia via humanitarian corridors from Mariupol and Berdyansk using their own transport and evacuation buses. 1,205 evacuees are from Mariupol. 2050 people arrived from the cities of Zaporizhzhia Oblast: Polohy, Vasylivka, Berdyansk and Melitopol. 1,420 people were evacuated from the cities of Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk, Rubizhne and Kreminna in the Luhansk Oblast. Tomorrow we will continue to work on the humanitarian corridor for Mariupol and the blocked cities of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, as well as for the evacuation of people from the cities of Luhansk Oblast.”

Environment

Panoramic images of the consequences of the war in Ukraine will appear on Google Maps, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. The consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine can be seen on Google Maps. The first panoramic photos of destroyed cities and towns will be published next week.

“Currently, law enforcement officers together with experts from the international company Google are recording the destruction in Ukrainian cities and villages. ” This project started from the liberated city of Irpin,” said Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ihor Bondarenko. At the same time, several teams work in other settlements.

“We want to cover as much as possible all the cities that have suffered the greatest destruction, which definitely needs to be recorded. This information will be posted on Google Maps and will be available to the public. The whole world should see what our cities looked like before and what the aggressor did to them, “the deputy minister said.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs notes that the new project will be publicly available. Therefore, residents who have left will be able to remotely assess the location and condition of their property. Google also promises to create a separate service for law enforcement and rescue workers. It will work as an information and reference resource to coordinate their actions and further record the state of affairs in the region.”

OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid has warned of the serious environmental damages caused by continued fighting in Ukraine, and their long-term effects across the region.

“After six weeks of fighting, I am receiving more and more reports on the potentially disastrous environmental impacts of the war in Ukraine,” said Schmid. “This has included risks to the Chornobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants, deteriorating access to – and quality of – drinking water in large areas of the country, chemical leaks, damage to critical infrastructure, and flooding.”

“Damages to commercial and industrial sites, such as the chemical plant in Sumy, lead to hazardous material leaks that further hurt the health and safety of the civilian population. These leaks also pollute the surrounding areas and can have a lasting impact on larger ecosystems when they seep into and poison rivers. Additionally, the destruction of bridges and other critical infrastructure near rivers can cause flooding, as was reported in the Irpin river basin.

The Secretary General also drew attention to the challenges that had arisen combating wildfires near the Chornobyl nuclear reactor, due to military activities in the area.

“While the risk has diminished in recent days, forest fires near reactors have in the past led to increased radiation levels and radioactive pollution does not stop at the border,” she added. Moreover, OSCE Secretary General warned about the risks posed to countries across the area, saying that: “these constitute one more reason why hostilities must stop to limit the long-term environmental and human health impacts on Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and beyond.”

Legal

Russian military forces have extrajudicially executed civilians in Ukraine in apparent war crimes, Amnesty International said Thursday as it published new testimony following on-the-ground research. Amnesty International’s Crisis Response investigators interviewed more than 20 people from villages and towns close to Kyiv, several of whom had witnessed or had direct knowledge of horrifying violence committed by Russian forces. They repeatedly told of deliberate killings, unlawful violence, and widespread intimidation by Russian forces against unarmed civilians across the Kyiv region.

“In recent weeks, we have gathered evidence that Russian forces have committed extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, which must be investigated as likely war crimes,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“Testimonies show that unarmed civilians in Ukraine are being killed in their homes and streets in acts of unspeakable cruelty and shocking brutality.

“The intentional killing of civilians is a human rights violation and a war crime. These deaths must be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible must be prosecuted, including up the chain of command.”

To date, Amnesty International has obtained evidence that civilians were killed in  indiscriminate attacks in Kharkiv and Sumy Oblast, documented an airstrike that killed civilians queueing for food in Chernihiv, and gathered evidence from civilians living under siege in Kharkiv, Izium, and Mariupol.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1512342557178712064?s=20&t=R5IGiU7tehQZi9JIay7VMw

Russian soldiers discussing atrocities in Bucha over the radio, Oldenburger OnlineZeitung reports. The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND – Bundes-nachrichtendienst) has new knowledge of the atrocities in the town of Bucha near Kyiv. According to a report by Der Spiegel, the foreign intelligence service intercepted radio messages from the Russian military discussing the murder of civilians in Bucha. The recordings suggest that these were neither accidental acts nor the actions of individual soldiers who got out of control. Rather, the material suggests, it was said, that the soldiers talked about the atrocities as well as about their everyday lives. This, it said in Berlin, indicated that killings of civilians had become part of the norm of Russian military operations, possibly part of a clear strategy. It is about spreading fear and terror among the civilian population and stifling the resistance.

War crimes

According to the General Staff of Ukraine, the Russian occupying power continues to restrict the rights of Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied territories. Thus, in the Zaporizhzhia region, the Russian occupiers banned men from leaving for the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. There is also a growing shortage of basic necessities, especially food, which could further complicate the humanitarian situation in the region occupied by the Russian occupiers.

5149 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 2541 crimes against national security were registered as of 8 April. 928 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 84 of them are destroyed fully. 

Support

NATO will not send weapons to Ukraine, there will be supplies from some allies, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Foreign Minister Kuleba. The North Atlantic Alliance, as an organization, has no plans to supply weapons to Ukraine to protect against Russian invasion. This was stated by Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba after participating in a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels. “I am cautiously optimistic about supplies from some allies, but I am not optimistic that NATO will supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs in the foreseeable future. That may change, but I do not see it yet, Kuleba said.” ME: His assessment is correct because NATO counts on the military might of its 30 Allied and partner nations to support missions and operations around the world. NATO doesn’t have its own armed forces. It, therefore, does not have any weapons to give. He explained that NATO, as an institution, encourages allies to help Ukraine.

The UK has sent Ukraine ship-killing Harpoon missiles that have already arrived in Odesa and can be used against the Russian warships off the coast that have been shelling the city in recent days, bne IntelliNews claims. The US has also ramped up its weapons supplies to Kyiv. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “there are now ten Javelin missiles for every Russian tank.” The US has also said that it will send 100 Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine.

Australia donates 20 Bushmaster armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, Ukrayinska Pravda reports.

Ukraine seeks stronger sanctions as Russia drops more missiles on cities, Reuters reports. Ukraine stepped up calls on Thursday for financial sanctions crippling enough to force Moscow to end the war as its officials rushed to evacuate civilians from cities and towns in the east before an anticipated major Russian offensive there. “The democratic world must stop buying Russian oil and cut off Russian banks from the international finance system, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, adding that economic concerns should not come above punishment for civilian deaths that Ukraine and many of its Western allies have condemned as war crimes.” The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told a NATO meeting that new EU measures, including a ban on Russian coal, initially expected on Wednesday, could be passed on Thursday or Friday and the bloc would discuss an oil embargo next.

New developments

  • UN suspends Russia from the human rights body over Ukraine abuses, Aljazeera The resolution to expel Russia from Human Rights Council expresses concern about reports of ‘systemic abuses’ in Ukraine. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted to suspend Russia from the organization’s leading human rights body amid allegations that its soldiers killed civilians while retreating from the region around Ukraine’s capital. The USA-initiated resolution achieved the two-thirds majority of UNGA voting members required to pass, with 93 votes cast in favor and 24 against. Fifty-eight countries abstained, but their votes did not count toward the final tally. Russia had called on an unspecified number of countries to vote “no”, saying an abstention or not voting would be considered an unfriendly act and would affect bilateral relations.
  • Either you help us now – and I’m speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late, and many people will die, many civilians will lose their homes, many villages will be destroyed,” Mr Kuleba said, BBC Ukraine says it urgently needs more weapons from its Western allies to defend itself against Russia. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a Nato meeting that more atrocities against civilians could happen if Ukraine doesn’t get more military aid. “NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said members of the alliance had agreed to more support for Ukraine. Mr Kuleba said he was looking for weapons, weapons, and weapons, but he added that Ukraine was offering NATO a fair deal. You provide us with everything that we need, and we will fight for our security but also your security so that President Putin will have no chance to test Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, he said.”
  • European Parliament demands a full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel, and gas, according to today’s press release. MEPs call for additional punitive measures, including “an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas”. This should be accompanied by a plan to ensure the EU’s security of energy supply, as well as a strategy to “roll back sanctions in case Russia takes steps towards restoring Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and completely removes its troops from the territory of Ukraine”.
  • European Parliament calls on EU leaders to exclude Russia from the G20 and other multilateral organizations, such as UNHRC, Interpol, the World Trade Organisation, UNESCO, and others, “which would be an important sign that the international community will not return to business as usual with the aggressor state”, today’s press release
  • Russia says it would have to ‘rebalance’ if Finland and Sweden join NATO, Reuters Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO then Russia would have to “re-balance the situation” with its own measures.

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which it says aims among other things to degrade Ukraine’s military potential and prevent it becoming a bridgehead for a NATO attack, has prompted the two Nordic countries to consider joining the US-led alliance. If the two countries join, we’ll have to make our western flank more sophisticated in terms of ensuring our security, Peskov told Britain’s Sky News.”

Assessment

On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Tuesday 06 April:

Russian proxy forces claimed to have captured central Mariupol on April 7, but Ukrainian forces retain positions in the southwest of the city. ISW cannot independently confirm this proxy claim, but we have not observed confirmed reports of fighting in central Mariupol since April 2. Russian forces will likely complete the capture of Mariupol in the coming days.

 

Russian forces are cohering combat power for an intended major offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the coming days. Ukrainian civil and military officials continued to warn local residents to evacuate prior to a likely Russian offensive. Russian forces will likely attempt to regroup and redeploy units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine to support an offensive, but these units are unlikely to enable a Russian breakthrough.

 

Russian forces along the Izium-Sloviansk axis did not make any territorial gains in the last 24 hours. Russian forces are unlikely to successfully capture Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts if Russian forces in Izium are unable to encircle Ukrainian forces on the line of contact in eastern Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

Russian forces claim to have successfully captured central Mariupol, but Ukrainian forces retain control of the port southwest of the city. Russian forces will likely complete the capture of Mariupol in the coming days.

 

Russian forces are setting conditions for a major offensive in eastern Ukraine in the coming days, but damaged units redeployed from northeastern Ukraine are unlikely to enable a successful Russian breakthrough.

 

Ukrainian forces repelled continuing Russian attacks from Izium southeast toward Sloviansk and Barvinkove.

 

Russian and Belarusian forces are conducting “demonstrative actions” to fix Ukrainian forces around Kyiv in place. However, these units are highly unlikely to launch new offensive operations, and Ukrainian units around Kyiv can likely safely redeploy to eastern Ukraine.

 

Western sanctions are likely successfully disrupting Russia’s military-industrial base.

NATO Secretary General: Putin has not changed his main goal; we expect a big battle in Donbas, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing European Truth.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not abandoned his plan to control Ukraine and is moving the main forces to the east to seize Donbas. This was stated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after a ministerial meeting in Brussels.

“The easiest way to end this war is for President Putin to withdraw all troops and engage in a serious diplomatic effort to find a diplomatic solution. But we must be realistic and there is no sign that President Putin has changed his primary goal of controlling Ukraine and achieving significant military victories on the battlefield,” Stoltenberg said.

He stressed that NATO does not see a Russian retreat, but only a regrouping, a change in the positions of their forces, a movement from the north of Ukraine to the east.

“And we expect a great battle in Donbas, a great Russian offensive. That is why the Allies today noted the need to urgently provide additional assistance to Ukraine,” the Secretary General added.

Earlier it was reported that the foreign ministers of NATO countries at a meeting on Thursday will discuss further arms supplies to  Ukraine, in particular heavy weapons. Faced with the prospect of a long and tedious war in Ukraine, NATO Allies are divided on how best to proceed in the next phase, according to media reports.”

NATO nations see differing paths as the Ukraine war enters an uncertain stage, The New York Times reported. Faced with the prospect that the war in Ukraine will be long and grinding, NATO countries are divided on how best to manage the next stage of the conflict and the uncertain period that promises to follow.

Central European members like Poland and the Baltic states want a total break with Moscow and an effort to bring Russia to its knees, two senior Western officials said. They worry that anything that Russia can present as a victory will do serious damage to European security.

 

But other nations believe that Russia cannot be easily subdued and that the war’s outcome is likely to be messy — more exhausting cease-fire than resounding victory. Countries like France, Germany and Turkey want to keep contacts with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, regardless of the allegations of war crimes committed by his troops, the officials said.

 

NATO foreign ministers, meeting this week to discuss how to help Ukraine prosecute the war, do agree on one major point: The war is far from over and — as badly as Russia’s forces have performed and despite their retreat from areas around Kyiv, the capital — they are making slow and brutal progress in Ukraine’s east.

 

Moscow is not giving up its ambitions in Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said this week. “We now see a significant movement of troops away from Kyiv, to regroup, rearm and resupply. And they shift their focus to the east.” That will take several weeks, officials believe, as Russian troops move back into Belarus to be resupplied and reorganized, and then must make their way with their equipment through Russia toward eastern Ukraine.

 

In the coming weeks, we expect a further Russian push in the eastern and southern Ukraine to try to take the entire Donbas and to create a land bridge to occupied Crimea,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “This is a crucial phase of the war.”

The support is critical as the war enters a “decisive new phase”, the Washington Post reports citing retired US Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of US Army Europe. Ukrainian forces are running low on ammunition, he said. While allies are becoming more willing to send weapons, what has been sent so far is “not enough,” he said. “The administration and NATO need to talk about winning, about helping Ukraine win, not just about avoiding losing, or preventing Russia from winning,” he said. Winning, according to Hodges, would mean a return to pre-Feb. 24 lines and rendering Russia unable to resume its offensive. “We need to see a sense of urgency,” he said, “Something like the Berlin airlift.”

Consequences and what to do? 

The situation remains extremely difficult, especially in the south and east of our country. Russia is concentrating forces for a powerful attack, Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, said in an address to the partnering states Thursday. Ukraine won the first phase of the war when intense close contact battles were fought. Russia has, however, concluded and changed its tactics.

The number of close contact skirmishes is decreasing, and Russia is increasingly conducting long-distance attacks using strikes missiles, aircraft, MLRS systems, and long-range artillery. The attacks are carried out from the territory of Russia, Belarus, as well as the Black and Azov Seas. Under such conditions, the war enters a phase of competition for resources. Which in Russia are almost endless, compared to Ukraine. To win such a war, we need different help than what we have been receiving before.

“We want to liberate the enemy-occupied territories as soon as possible. After all, the whole world saw the atrocities committed by the Russian army in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv. We need to save our people from genocide. To do this, we need other weapons.

 

First, we need air defence systems and combat aircraft to protect our citizens and our army from missiles and airstrikes.

 

Secondly, we need long-range weapons. These are Long-Range Artillery Missile complexes, MLRS and heavy artillery. This will keep the enemy at a distance without letting him into our cities.

 

Third, we need tanks and armoured vehicles to break through the occupiers’ defences and liberate the occupied territories.

 

Fourth, we need anti-ship missiles. To destroy the enemy fleet and unblock ports on the Black Sea. After all, without ports, we will not be able to trade, including food. Which will cause a global food crisis.

 

Fifth, we need reconnaissance and strike drones.

 

Moreover, there is a very important nuance. Previously, we focused on obtaining Soviet-style weapons. This is a logical decision because these weapons can go into battle right away, we know how to use them. It will quickly strengthen our defence in this critical period. But the Soviet weapons we need are scarce. They are often in poor condition because they were made 30-40 years ago. There is not enough ammunition. Under such conditions, the Soviet weapons we have received will strengthen Ukraine only for a short time.

 

That is why Ukraine needs to get the weapons used by NATO countries as soon as possible. This is the best solution for many reasons.

 

First, it will be a powerful signal to Russia that it will not succeed in depleting the Ukrainian army. On the contrary, the cost of war for Moscow will increase dramatically. The Ukrainian army will be able to put up effective resistance. This will be the best incentive to de-escalate and seek peace.

 

Secondly, it will further increase the interoperability of the Ukrainian army with the armies of European countries. This will strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. I am sure that no one has any doubts that Ukraine can be a donor of European security. We proved it. Investing in our army is the best defence investment imaginable.

 

Third, there is a sufficient quantity of NATO-made equipment and it is equipped with ammunition. For example, 155 mm calibre artillery is used in different countries. There will be no shortage of shells, as compared with the Soviet systems. This will not be a short-term, but a systemic solution.”

The Ukrainian military is quickly adapting to new weapons. They have already shown that they can use Western complexes extremely effectively in combat conditions. We urge you to provide us with heavy weapons as soon as possible.

Assessment by Hans Petter Midttun

More than eight years and 44 days into the war it is time for the West to start paying proper attention. Ukraine has valiantly fought for not only its freedom, its right to choose democracy, its sovereignty, and territorial integrity, but also for the stability, prosperity, and security of Europe. It has until now stopped Russia from expanding westward.

The countries that know Russia the best – Ukraine and its partners in Central and Eastern Europe – argue for the need to bring Russia to its knees. A peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine will not bring peace unless the cause for the wars across Europe is properly addressed: Russia.

Anyone listening to the Russian aggressive rhetoric, threats, delusions, lies, and distorted worldview should by now understand that this is a global crisis that cannot be solved through diplomacy alone. This time, military power must form the basis for any dialogue. Russia must be made to understand that this is a war that it cannot win and that continuing down the present track puts the foundation of the state at stake. We must demonstrate that our resolve and resilience will not falter. We must signal that compromise at the cost of Ukrainian territorial integrity and European security is not on the table. This can only be achieved by introducing NATO military options as a part of the solution.

It is time to truly listen to Russia and take its dangerous and belligerent rhetoric to heart and realize the link between its words and its deeds. It is high time to listen to those who have experienced both and start to take note of the messaging by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

When the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs says: “You provide us with everything that we need, and we will fight for our security but also your security so that President Putin will have no chance to test Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty”, pay attention and take it to heart.

When the Ukrainian Minister of Defence says the war has changed nature and Ukraine needs modern weapons, respond accordingly.

When both say that “Either you help us in the next days or your help will come too late”, resolute actions are urgently needed.

With the words of President Zelenskyy: If everyone in the world had at least ten percent of the courage that we Ukrainians have, there would be no danger to international law at all. There would be no danger to the freedom of the nations. We will spread our courage. We will start a special global campaign. We will teach the world to be not just a little bit, but full of courage. Like us, like Ukrainians. 

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