Russo-Ukrainian war, day 51: Cruiser “Moskva” sunk hit by Ukrainian rocket. 30 Ukrainians came home after POWs exchange.

Ukraine war

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

The Russian Black Sea flagship “Moskva” has sunk hit by a Ukrainian rocket. Eight Russian attacks were repulsed in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast. Russian troops that left northern Ukraine are now appearing in Donbas ahead of the expected military push. New POWs exchange between Russia and Ukraine: 30 Ukrainians came home.

Morning report day 51 – April 15

Situation

According to information from the General Staff:

“The Russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

The Russian forces are trying to complete preparations for an offensive operation in the Eastern Operational Zone. The aviation group and the command and control system are being built up.

Ukraine war

Russia continues to launch missile and bomb attacks on infrastructure facilities and residential areas of cities and villages of our state.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, separate units of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus perform tasks to cover the Ukrainian-Belarusian border in the Brest and Gomel regions.

  • The situation in the Volyn and Polissya direction has not changed significantly. There is a movement of units of the 36th All Arms Military Army of the Eastern Military District by rail from the territory of the Gomel region of the Republic of Belarus. The threat of missile strikes from the territory of Belarus on the objects of our State remains.

The situation in the Siversky and Slobozhansky directions is unchanged.

  • In the northern direction, the Russian forces are regrouping units with their further concentration in the areas bordering Ukraine. From the territory of the Bryansk and Kursk regions there is a movement to the Belgorod and Voronezh regions of Russia.
  • In the Slobozhansky direction, the occupiers are conducting reconnaissance of probable areas of attack, increasing the system of reconnaissance and medical support. Stocks are being replenished. The partial blockade and shelling of the city of Kharkiv
  • In the city of Belgorod, the Russian forces deployed a unit of information and psychological operations of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in order to intensify measures of psychological influence on units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine and the civilian population of the Kharkiv oblast. The goal is to demoralize and end the resistance.
  • The occupiers continue to prepare for active action in the areas of Sloviansk and Barvinkove.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, the Russian enemy’s main efforts were focused on attempts to capture the settlements of Popasna and Rubizhne. It is not successful. ME: Mariupol and several other hotspots in the east were not mentioned in the 06:00 report

  • Thus, in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, eight enemy attacks were repulsed in the past 24 hours, four tanks, six armored personnel carriers, four infantry fighting vehicles, and one enemy artillery system were destroyed.
  • In the Donetsk direction, the Russian forces, with the support of aircraft and artillery, continue to attack in certain directions. The main efforts are focused on establishing control over the settlements of Popasna, Rubizhne, Sievoerodonetsk and Sloviansk.
  • The enemy tried to break through our defenses in the areas of Rubizhne, Novotoshkivske and Marinka. It was not successful. Russian forces continued to launch airstrikes on Mariupol.

In the Pivdennyi Buh direction, the enemy is trying to carry out fortification of positions and replenish stocks of weapons and military equipment, ammunition and fuel and oil. It conducts reconnaissance with the involvement of unmanned aerial vehicles.

In the Black Sea and Azov operational zones, enemy naval groups continue to carry out tasks to isolate the area of ​​hostilities and reconnaissance.”

Commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, Major Serhiy Volyna calls on the authorities to unblock Mariupol as soon as possible, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. The situation is critical. According to Volyn, Mariupol can be saved either by an urgent military operation or a political decision.

The Black Sea flagship “Moskva” has sunk. The Russian Defense Ministry said its damaged naval flagship Moskva had sunk in the Black Sea while being towed in a storm, The New York Times reports. Ukraine claimed it hit the cruiser with two missiles. Moscow has denied that the ship was struck, but acknowledged yesterday it was on fire. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN that there has been  an explosion “on the Moskva but said the United States cannot say at this point if the ship was hit by a missile. Whatever the reason for the fire, analysts say it strikes hard at the heart of the Russian Navy as well as national pride, comparable to the US Navy losing a battleship during World War II or an aircraft carrier today”. The US has seen that other Russian ships in the northern Black Sea near have all moved further south, away from the northern areas where they were operating in.

Russian troops that left northern Ukraine are now appearing in Donbas ahead of the expected military push, CNN reports. The first Russian troops that had left northern Ukraine have begun appearing in the northern Donbas region of eastern Ukraine in preparation for what is expected to be a major push by thousands of Russian forces a senior US defense official said Thursday. It is assessed that there are 65 total operational BTGs inside Ukraine, all of which are in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. They will try to insert additional BTGs over the coming days.

In the Odesa region, law enforcement officers exposed a powerful criminal group that was in contact with the enemy and was preparing the ground for cooperation with the occupiers, Operational Command South claims. The group carried out destabilizing activities among the population, tried to penetrate the territorial defense and collected data on representatives of law enforcement agencies. All members of the group have been detained.

The Russians accused Ukraine of shelling the Bryansk region, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. On the morning of April 14, it was reported that the Armed Forces allegedly fired on a border checkpoint. By noon, they changed their testimony – it turned out that “two houses” were fired upon. The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council later issued a statement saying that Russia’s special services had begun implementing a plan to carry out terrorist attacks on its territory to fuel anti-Ukrainian hysteria.

Ukrainian General Staff has reported on the Russian manning and logistic challenges:

  • In order to conduct hostilities on the territory of Ukraine, the Russian occupiers are training additional units of the Northern Fleet and the 8th All Arms Military Army of the Southern Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. To provide units with weapons and military equipment, measures are being taken to remove them from long-term storage at bases and warehouses.
  • According to the available information, the losses in the 126th Separate Coastal Defense Brigade (Perevalne) and the 127th Separate Reconnaissance Brigade (Sevastopol) amount to more than 50 percent of the personnel.
  • The command of the Russian army fails to implement plans to mobilize human resources in the North Caucasus region to participate in the war against Ukraine. The main reason is the reluctance of the population of this region to take part in hostilities.
  • Due to the critical situation with the staffing of combat units, the command of the armed forces of the Russian Federation plans to begin a new process of mobilization at the national level. According to the plan, the mobilization, in order to hide it, will be carried out in parallel with the planned conscription.

Moldova accuses the Russian army of trying to recruit its citizens, Reuters reports. Moldova on Thursday accused Russia’s army of trying to recruit Moldovan citizens, days after British military intelligence said that Moscow was trying to replenish its forces in Ukraine by recruiting in the breakaway Transdniestria region.

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

  • Russia has admitted that the Slava-class cruiser Moskva has sunk. As flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva served a key role as both a command vessel and air defense node.
  • The Soviet-era vessel was one of only three Slava-class cruisers in the Russian navy. Originally commissioned in 1979, the Moskva had completed an extensive refit designed to improve its capability and only returned to operational status in 2021.
  • This incident means Russia has now suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine, the first being Russia’s Alligator-class landing ship Saratov on 24 March. Both events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea.

As of Thursday 14.04.2022, 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 19900 people (+100),
  • Tanks – 753 units (+14),
  • Armored combat vehicles – 1968 units (+4),
  • Artillery systems – 366 (+8),
  • Multiple rocket launchers – 122 (+7)
  • Air defense means – 64 (no change),
  • Aircraft – 160 (+2),
  • Helicopters – 144 (+1),
  • Automotive technology – 1437 (+8),
  • Vessels/boats – 7 units (no change),
  • Fuel and lubricant tanks – 76 (no change),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 134 (+2)
  • Special equipment – 25 (no change)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (no change)

Humanitarian

The Ukrainian authorities have held another Prisoner of War exchange: 30 Ukrainians are coming home, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. “On the order of President Zelensky, the next, fourth, exchange of prisoners of war took place today.  5 officers and 17 servicemen were exchanged. 8 civilians, including 1 woman, were also released.

According to UNHCR 4,736,471  refugees have been registered as of April 13. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 2,694,090 refugees, Romania 716,797, Russian Federation 471,014, Hungary 440,387, Republic of Moldova 417,650, Slovakia 326,244 and Belarus 22,428. 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 recorded 4,577 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of midnight of April 13: 1,964 were killed (including 161 children) and 2,613 injured (including 252 children).

Continued military attacks against Ukraine are putting the lives of an estimated 2.7 million people with disabilities at risk UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reports as of 14 April.

The agreed humanitarian corridors ensured the evacuation of 2,557 people on April 14. According to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine:

“2,332 people travelled to Zaporizhia by own vehicles from the Mariupol and Berdyansk using humanitarian corridors. 289 of them were from Mariupol; 2043 – arrived from the cities of Zaporizhia oblast: Polohy, Vasylivka, Berdyansk and Melitopol.

225 people were evacuated from the cities of Luhansk oblast: Lysychansk, Sievoerodonetsk, Rubizhne, Kreminna and Popasna. The regime of the ceasefire was not provided by the occupying forces again.”

Environmental

Le Pen Backs NATO-Russia Reconciliation and Reduced French Role in Alliance, The New York Times reports.

“Rejecting a “herd-like conformity” with the Biden administration, Marine Le Pen, the French far-right candidate for the presidency, said Wednesday that France would quit NATO’s integrated military command if she were elected and would seek for the alliance “a strategic rapprochement” with Russia.

As Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on, Ms Le Pen effectively signalled that her election would terminate or at least disrupt President Biden’s united alliance in confronting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and perhaps create a breach in Western Europe for Mr Putin to exploit.

Dismissing multilateralism, blasting Germany, criticizing the European Union, relegating climate issues to a low priority, attacking “globalists” and maintaining a near silence on Russia’s brutal assault in Ukraine, Ms Le Pen gave a taste of a worldview that was at once reminiscent of the Trump presidency and appeared to directly threaten NATO’s attempts to arm Ukraine and defeat Russia.”

Legal

The Ukrainian Parliament has recognized the actions of the Russian Federation as genocide against Ukrainians, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with this statement:

“Recognizes the actions committed by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and its political and military leadership during the last phase of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, as genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Calls on the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, governments and foreign parliaments to recognize the Russian Federation’s genocide of the Ukrainian people and crimes against humanity and war crimes against Ukraine and its territory.

The statement states that acts of genocide in the actions of the Russian Federation are manifested, in particular, in:

  • committing mass atrocities by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine (in particular, in the cities of Bucha, Borodyanka, Gostomel, Irpin and many other settlements in Ukraine), manifested in numerous cases of murder, abduction, cruel imprisonment rape, contempt of the bodies of the killed and tortured;
  • systematic cases of the premeditated murder of civilians and deliberate creation by the Russian Armed Forces of living conditions that cause exceptional suffering to the Ukrainian people, aimed at their complete or partial destruction, and ultimately lead to the physical destruction of the Ukrainian population in many settlements in Ukraine, in particular, through blockade of settlements, prevention of humanitarian aid and obstruction of the evacuation of civilians;
  • capture and purposeful destruction of infrastructure facilities that provide basic needs and livelihoods of people;
  • the forcible relocation of Ukrainian children to the territory of the Russian Federation and their transfer to foreign countries in order to destroy their self-identification as Ukrainians, as well as expulsion from their homes and deportation of thousands of civilians from the civilian population of Ukraine to Russia;
  • widespread cases of physical and psychological violence against the population of Ukraine, representatives of Ukrainian authorities and local governments, representatives of public organizations and other local activists, journalists, clergy and other authoritative persons in Ukrainian society;
  • systematic actions of the Russian Federation aimed at creating conditions designed for the gradual destruction of the Ukrainian people through the undermining of economic potential and security manifested in the destruction of economic infrastructure (damage to granaries, obstruction of sowing campaign, blockade of sea trade routes, infrastructure, etc.).”

Russian War crimes

6673 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 3040 crimes against national security were registered as of 15 April. 1018 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 95 of them are destroyed fully. 198 children were killed, and 355 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports.

 Support

Rheinmetall prepared to supply Leopard 1s to Kyiv, Janes reports. Rheinmetall is prepared to supply up to 50 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, the company’s CEO Armin Papperger told the Handelsblatt newspaper on 12 April. The German financial daily quoted Papperger as saying that the first Leopard 1 could be delivered in six weeks if the German parliament, gives its approval.  The newspaper reported that Rheinmetall has decommissioned Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 70 of which could be delivered to Ukraine within six to eight months, starting with the first 10 within five weeks.

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy to BBC: Blood money being paid for Russian oil. President Zelensky has accused European countries that continue to buy Russian oil of “earning their money in other people’s blood”. In an interview with the BBC, President Zelensky singled out Germany and Hungary, accusing them of blocking efforts to embargo energy sales, from which Russia stands to make up to £250bn ($326bn) this year. There has been growing frustration among Ukraine’s leadership with Berlin, which has backed some sanctions against Russia but so far resisted calls to back tougher action on oil sales. “Some of our friends and partners understand that it is a different time now, that it is no longer an issue of business and money. That it is an issue of survival.”

Europe Reluctantly Readies Russian Oil Embargo, The New York Times reports. Officials are drafting a phased import ban on Russian oil products, but the measure won’t be floated until after the second round of the French elections at the earliest. “European officials are drafting plans for an embargo on Russian oil products, the most contested measure yet to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and a move long resisted because of its big costs for Germany and its potential to disrupt politics around the region and increase energy prices. Having earlier this month banned Russian coal for the first time — with a four-month transition period to wind down ongoing orders — the European Union is now likely to adopt a similarly phased ban of Russian oil, E.U. officials and diplomats said. The approach is designed to give Germany, in particular, time to arrange alternative suppliers.”

New developments

Peace talks

Horrors in Bucha, Borodyanka and Mariupol are closing the possibilities of peace talks, BBC reports citing President Zelensky. He said the atrocities committed by Russian troops in Mariupol, and in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha and Borodyanka, had further narrowed the possibility of peace talks with the Russians. Three days ago, President Zelensky said that he is “not ready to give away” any part of Ukraine, in return for peace in the country. Speaking to CBS’ Scott Pelley, Zelensky went on to say that he would never recognise Crimea as Russian territory.

The key issue is the mechanism of security guarantees for Ukraine,” Ukrinform reports citing Yermak. The Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office Andriy Yermak has discussed the progress and prospects of peace talks with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the UK Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove.

Russia has said it will consider Sweden and Finland “official adversaries” after they join NATO, Ukrayinska Pravda Medvedev noted that the length of the alliance’s land borders with Russia will more than double. According to him, Russia will have to seriously strengthen the grouping of ground forces and air defense, and deploy significant naval forces in the Gulf of Finland. “In that case, there will be no question of any nuclear-free status in the Baltics – the balance must be restored. “Russia to take defensive measures if Sweden, Finland join NATO, senior diplomat warns”, Reuters reports. “It is clear that our border with Finland is 1,300 km long. This will mean a radical change in the military and political situation and it is understandable that we will be forced to take security and defense measures that we will deem necessary, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.

Supporting Kyiv is the culmination of the West’s Russophobic course, TASS reports citing Foreign Minister Lavrov. “The culmination of this Russophobic course has been Washington and Brussels’ unconditional support for the radical nationalist Kyiv regime, the nurturing of ultra-radicals in Ukraine, and the creation of an ‘anti-Russia’ out of Ukraine,” he said.

CIA director warns Russian threat of tactical nuclear weapons should not be taken “lightly“, CNN “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low yield nuclear weapons,” CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday. But he emphasized that the US has yet to see any signs that Russia is preparing to take such a step.

Putin tells Europe: You still need Russian gas but we’re turning east, Reuters President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Moscow would work to redirect its energy exports eastward as Europe tries to reduce its reliance on them, adding that European nations would not be able to ditch Russian gas immediately.

Assessment

On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Thursday 14 April:

Russian forces continued assaults against Ukrainian defenses in southwestern and eastern Mariupol on April 13, though ISW cannot confirm any territorial changes. Ukrainian officials admitted on April 14 that Russian forces captured “some” personnel from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade during their breakout from the Ilyich plant to link up with Ukrainian forces in the Azovstal plant in eastern Mariupol on April 13. Petro Andryushenko, the advisor to Mariupol’s mayor, provided a detailed report on April 14 on areas of active fighting in Mariupol, which we used to refine our control of terrain assessment in the accompanying maps.

Andryushenko said Russian forces are concentrated on capturing the Mariupol port in the southwest with heavy air and artillery support, contradicting Russian claims to have previously captured the port. Andryushenko further stated that Russian forces are strictly controlling entry and exit in Mariupol and are “filtering” Ukrainian civilians—a term used by Russian forces elsewhere in Ukraine to describe searches, interrogations, and possible targeted killings of Ukrainian civilians.

The Ukrainian General Staff reported on April 14 that elements of Russia’s 2nd Combined Arms Army—which was previously withdrawn from the Chernihiv axis—are deploying around Sievoerodonetsk. If confirmed, this is the first Russian unit withdrawn from fighting in northeastern Ukraine to be recommitted to eastern Ukraine. These units likely remain degraded, and Russian forces will face challenges integrating units from several military districts into a cohesive fighting force.

Russian forces continued unsuccessful daily attacks against Rubizhne, Popasna, and Marinka and did not make any territorial advances on April 14. The DNR claimed its forces drove back Ukrainian forces around Marinka on April 14, but ISW cannot independently confirm this claim. The UK Ministry of Defense reported on April 14 that Russian forces in eastern Ukraine are employing “massive rocket and artillery strikes,” consistent with reports on the ground of continued Russian shelling along the line of contact.

Fighting continued west of Kherson city on April 14, though ISW cannot confirm any specific Ukrainian or Russian attacks. Russian forces conducted minor attacks against Ukrainian positions in Oleksandrivka, 30 km west of Kherson city, on April 14. Ukraine’s Airborne Forces command claimed on April 14th that the 80th Airmobile Brigade (previously operating in Mykolayiv) liberated unspecified villages in southern Ukraine but declined to name them for operational security reasons. ISW cannot independently confirm any Ukrainian counterattacks in the last 24 hours.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1514969082818404352?s=20&t=kHrB70-7bjHatxEHdVepEw

Ukrainian forces may have destroyed a Russian supply depot in Kherson on April 13. Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych stated Ukrainian forces destroyed ammunition depots of Russia’s 22nd Army Corps at an unspecified location in Kherson on April 13, and social media users reported heavy Ukrainian shelling of the Choronbaivka airfield.

Ukrainian partisans have likely been active in the Melitopol region since at least mid-March. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that “unknown patriots” killed 70 Russian personnel in Melitopol on April 12, while the Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Ukrainian partisans killed 70 personnel in the area from March 20 to April 12—a more likely report. ISW has previously assessed that growing Ukrainian partisan activities are likely tying down Russian forces in the region but we have not previously seen reports of specific Ukrainian partisan actions. 

Key Takeaways

  • The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sunk on April 14 following a likely Ukrainian cruise missile strike on April 13. The loss of the Moskva is a significant propaganda victory for Ukraine but will likely have only limited effects on Russian operations.
  • Ukrainian officials admitted Russian forces captured “some” personnel from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade in Mariupol despite initial denials, though Ukrainian defenders predominantly continued to hold out against Russian assaults.
  • Russian forces may have committed damaged units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine to combat operations in eastern Ukraine for the first time on April 14. Continued daily Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine are failing to take any territory.
  • Ukrainian partisans have likely been active in the Melitopol region since at least mid-March.

Russian forces continued to redeploy from Belarus to Russia for further deployment to eastern Ukraine.“

 

Assessment by Hans Petter Midttun

The USA and the Western European countries (“Old NATO”) tends to see war as a singular event confined to the geographical limits of the countries involved.

In The New York Times published the op-ed “America Thinks the War Is About Ukraine. Russia’s Neighbors Disagree” Karolina Wigura and Jaroslaw Kuisz pointed out that the Central and Eastern European countries see the war not as a singular event but as a process.

To these post-Soviet states, the invasion of Ukraine appears as a next step in a whole series of Russia’s nightmarish assaults on other countries, dating back to the ruthless attacks on Chechnya and the war with Georgia. To them, it seems foolhardy to assume Mr. Putin will stop in Ukraine. The danger is pressing and immediate.

While the West believes it must prevent World War III, the East thinks that, whatever the name given to the conflict, the war against liberal democratic values, institutions and lifestyles has already started.

I fully support the assessments. Russian aggressions did not start on 24 February 2022. It has been ongoing for more than a decade already. More importantly, the West has been exposed to it for nearly as long.

Even today, when Russia call the international sanctions an act of aggression and believes we are waging a total (hybrid war), economic, information, and cultural war against Russia, we fail to officially acknowledge that we are involved in a (hybrid) war with the Russian Federation.

The ongoing hybrid war cannot be solved by Ukraine in Ukraine. It will not be concluded in either Donbas or the Black Sea. It requires a global effort to ensure that Russia is rendered unable to wage war against both its neighbours as well as the liberal western democracies.

What is happening in Ukraine is a part of a wider strategy. In the report “Role of the hybrid component in Crimea occupation” published by the Centre for Defense Strategies, I aimed to conceptualize the Hybrid War in order to develop the understanding needed to establish a holistic counter-strategy. I argued that:

Ukraine is only an object and not the strategic aim of the Hybrid War. It is a conflict between Russia and the West over the world order, and the conflicting ideas of the authoritarian “Russian World” and the Western liberal democracies. A Russian victory in Ukraine is, however, a prerequisite for its global ambitions.

Hybrid warThe current Russian regime is threatening peace and security in Europe. The European Parliament has listed a chillingly, long, and comprehensive list of the Russian aggressions and has formally acknowledged the anti-Western vector of the Russian foreign policy underlining the fundamental and systemic incompatibility of the socio-political systems of Russia and the West. It acknowledges that Russia is trying to destabilize the EU and its Member States through hybrid warfare.

Hybrid War is the parallel and synchronized use of both military and non-military means to destabilize nations from within. Synchronization is the ability to effectively coordinate the employment of both military and non-military means in time, space, and purpose to create the desired effects.

The strategy exploits the protest potential of the population of both the nation under assault and that of its partner nations. It manipulates and reinforces existing vulnerabilities trying to ignite social instability. It aims to destabilize the nation from within by inducing economic hardship, corrupting the juridical and political system, undermining trust in government, politicians, institutions, and democratic processes, and not at least, creating fear and fostering inaction.

It is designed to ensure victory through limited use of military power. Its consequences, however, are as far-reaching and dramatic as any conventional war.

Hybrid War knows no borders and takes place across all sectors of society. Since the different instruments of power are used in multiple dimensions and on multiple levels simultaneously in a synchronized fashion, detecting and responding to Hybrid War becomes exceedingly difficult.

The ability to effectively coordinate the employment of both military and non-military instruments means that the latter becomes a force multiplier. Being militarily inferior to NATO, the ability to synchronize its complete toolkit, combined with risk willingness, a quick decision-making process and military posture, puts Russia potentially on near equal footing with NATO.

The Hybrid War has been expanding for years. Ukraine is today facing a bigger threat by far than at any given time since it gained independence. Structural weaknesses have not yet been properly addressed. Ukraine will remain vulnerable until outstanding reforms have been implemented. The risks are reinforced by the weak international response. The West has not only failed to discourage further Russian aggressions but might even have emboldened it to strengthen its efforts.

An effective counterstrategy must be developed and implemented accordingly: Europe-wide and across all sectors, focusing on people, their needs and the institutions established to serve them.

The statements of the French Presidential candidate Le Pen, the EU’s (so far) inability to introduce sanctions on Russian energy, and the recent signs of strains in the German coalition, are all stark reminders of the wider strategy, and Russia’s ability to “exploits the protest potential of the population of both the nation under assault and that of its partner nations. It manipulates and reinforces existing vulnerabilities trying to ignite social instability. It aims to destabilize the nation from within by inducing economic hardship, corrupting the juridical and political system, undermining trust in government, politicians, institutions, and democratic processes, and not at least, creating fear and fostering inaction.”

The above-mentioned report includes a set of recommendations that are equally relevant for NATO and the EU today as they were for Ukraine when it was published last year.

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