Ukrainian forces are making significant progress around Kharkiv. Russian troops advanced and seized Popasna destroyed by artillery and airstrikes. Almost 60 civilians were killed by a bomb dropped on a school in Luhansk Oblast. Odesa was hit by cruise missiles again. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg: “Ukraine will win, and NATO will provide assistance.”
Morning report day 74 – May 08
According to information from the General Staff:
Russian forces do not stop conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land corridor between these territories and the occupied Crimea.
The situation in the Volyn, Polissya, and Siversky directions is without significant changes.
- There is a threat of missiles and airstrikes on the territory of Belarus on the objects of our state.
- Certain units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue to carry out tasks to cover the Ukrainian-Russian border in the Bryansk and Kursk oblasts.
In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces concentrated their main efforts on preventing the further advance of our troops towards the state border of Ukraine to the north and northeast of the city of Kharkiv. Russian forces carried out artillery shelling in the areas of the settlements of Prudyanka, Slatine, and Tsyrkuny. To strengthen the defense in the area of the settlement of Kozacha Lopan, Russian forces carried out measures on the engineering equipment of the positions.
- In the Izium direction, Russian forces concentrated their main efforts on preparations for the continuation of the offensive in the Izium-Barvinkove and Izium-Sloviansk directions. To strengthen the group from the territory of the Russian Federation, Russian forces redeployed two battalion tactical groups from the 35th Combined Arms Army to certain areas. Russian forces carried out artillery shelling of positions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine.
- To clarify the position of our troops, the forces continued to conduct air reconnaissance in the areas of the settlements of Izium and Kamyanka.
- Russian forces strengthened the groups of troops of the 20th Combined Arms Army and the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District at the expense of reserve units. It carried out artillery shelling in the areas of Prudyanka and Slatyne.
- As a result of the offensive of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russian forces lost control over the settlement of Tsyrkuny.
- Russian forces tried to launch an offensive in the direction of the settlement of Vernopilla, were unsuccessful, suffered losses, and retreated.
In the Donetsk direction, Russian troops continue offensive operations in the Lyman, Popasna, Sievierodonetsk, and Avdiivka directions.
- In the Kurakhiv direction, with the support of artillery, Russian forces are trying to resume offensive operations in the direction of the village of Novomykhailivka.
- In the Lyman direction, as a result of an assault, Russian forces captured the northern outskirts of Shandrygolov.
- In the Mariupol direction, Russian forces continue to blockade our units in the area of the Azovstal plant and, with the support of artillery and tank fire, carry out assault operations.
- Russian forces continue to supply weapons, military equipment, ammunition, fuel, and oil to meet the needs of the group of Russian troops in this direction.
- In the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, defenders of Ukraine repulsed nine forces attacks, destroyed nineteen tanks, twenty units of armored combat vehicles, four special armored vehicles, six vehicles, and one unit of forces special engineering equipment.
- Russian forces continued artillery shelling and rocket-bomb attacks with the use of operational and tactical aircraft in some areas. Also, Russian forces tried to take control of the settlement of Alexandrovka, but were unsuccessful.
In the Pivdenny Buh and Tavriya directions, Russian troops with the support of airstrikes at military and civilian targets, regroups and strengthens units, and increases the system of fire damage and logistics.
- In the Kryvyi Rih direction, Russian forces used the Orlan-10 UAV to detect the positions of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
- The situation in the Bessarabian direction remains tense. Armed formations in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova and units of the operational group of Russian troops are in full combat readiness.
- Russian forces did not conduct active hostilities in the Novopavlovsk and Zaporizhzhia directions.
- With the support of the air force, Russian forces tried to conduct offensive operations in the direction of the settlement of Poltavka in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, suffered casualties, and retreated to their former positions.
- The units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine in the area of the settlement of Polohy, Zaporizhzhia oblast, successfully inflicted fire damage on Russian forces, destroying some of its weapons and military equipment. Russian forces personnel left their positions.
Ships of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Black and Azov Seas continue to perform tasks to isolate the area of hostilities, surveillance, and fire support in the coastal direction.
During the previous day, one Mi-28H helicopter, seven “Orlan” UAVs, two “Forpost” UAVs, and two cruise missiles were hit by anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In addition, two Orlan-type UAVs were destroyed by anti-aircraft missile units of the Land Forces.
Russian occupiers suffered significant losses in battles with units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine. Thus, more than 100 wounded servicemen of the airborne troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation were found in the village of Burchak.”
New explosions were reported in Transnistria near the border with Ukraine, the Ukrainska Pravda reports Saturday. “Four explosions took place near the village of Voronkove, Rybnytskyi District, near the former airfield. On the evening of May 6, at around 9:40 pm, the first two explosive devices were probably dropped from one of the two drones. An hour later the attack was repeated. The depth of the hole is about one meter, diameter is about 25 centimeters, ” the so-called “Ministry of Internal Affairs” of unrecognized Transnistria claimed.
After 22 April, when a Russian army spokesman said that the task of Russian troops in the “second phase of the special operation” in Ukraine was to establish “full control over Donbas and southern Ukraine” and reach Transnistria, a series of terrorist attacks took place in the region.
Missile attacks, hardware, Wagner fighters: Forces trying to break into Popasna, the Ukrinform reports on Saturday.
“The situation is very difficult, but under control. The forces make the greatest efforts to break into Popasna and in the direction of Sievierodonetsk and Voyevodivka. That’s where they threw the largest number of hardware and personnel, Wagner fighters, that’s where the largest number of missile attacks, airstrikes are launched… There is a rather terrible situation,” Head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration Serhiy Haidai posted on Telegram. The Ukrainian military is holding on and waiting for help and reinforcement. “I hope that everything will be fine,” Haidai added.”
Chechnya’s Kadyrov says his soldiers control Popasna, Ukraine disagrees, the Reuters reports.
“Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, said on Sunday his soldiers have taken control of most of the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, while Ukrainian officials said a battle for the town in the east of the country is ongoing. Late Saturday Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said heavy fighting for the town continues. Russian propagandists have joyfully reported that they have already taken it, but this is not quite how it is. This is their 117th ‘capture of Popasna’ claim only this week.”
Bayraktar TB2 struck Russian D-144 Serna-class landing craft, the Bulgarianmilitary.com reports. Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 hit a landing warship at Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. The Serna class – Russian designation Project 11770 – is a type of ‘air cavity’ designed landing craft constructed for the Russian Navy.
Ukrainian attacks with Bayraktar drones on Russian positions on Zmiyinyi Island have eliminated:
🔹1 landing boat of Serna-type with Tor SAM l
🔹2 landing and assault boats of Raptor type
🔹46 Russian troops
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 8, 2022
Twelve boats were built between 1994 and 2014. The claim came a day after Ukrainian sources alleged they had struck the modern Russian frigate Admiral Makarov in a Neptune missile attack, the Daily Mail reports. Bayraktar’s attacks during the last 24 hours destroyed both the Serna landing craft, a Tor SAM system, two Raptor assault boats, and severely damaged another Raptor. 46 occupiers from the crew and landing party were eliminated according to the Operational Command “South”.
According to British Defense Intelligence, (last 24 hours):
- Difficulties in command and control, as well as faltering Russian performance on the front line, have drawn senior commanders onto the battlefield, likely to take personal leadership of operations. Russian commanders rarely delegate operational authority to their subordinates, who in turn do not gain vital leadership experience.
- However, it is not clear that the presence of these commanders on the battlefield has led to a refined or altered operational concept. Flawed planning assumptions and failures in sustainment continue to undermine Russian progress.
- The forward deployment of commanders has exposed them to significant risk, leading to disproportionately high losses of Russian officers in this conflict. This has resulted in a force that is slow to respond to setbacks and unable to alter its approach on the battlefield. These issues are likely to endure given the relative lack of operational command experience of the officers promoted in place of those killed.
As of Sunday 08 May, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:
- Personnel – more than 25500 people (+400),
- Tanks – 1130 units (+8),
- Armored combat vehicles – 2741 units (+28),
- Artillery systems – 509 (+0),
- Multiple rocket launchers – 179 (+7)
- Air defense means – 86 (+2),
- Aircraft – 199 (+0),
- Helicopters – 156 (+1),
- Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 1961 (+27),
- Vessels/boats – 12 units (+1),
- UAV operational and tactical level – 360 (+19)
- Special equipment – 39 (+1)
- Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
- Cruise missiles – 92 (+2)
Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the past day) at the Novopavlivsk direction.
Activist group appeals to the world to save Mariupol defenders, the Ukrainska Pravda reports. The activist group “1 December” appealed to Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Türkiye and Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, and the Federal Council of Switzerland to help in saving the Ukrainian military and civilians from Mariupol and the ongoing siege of the Azovstal plant.
“For more than 70 days, the military, as well as civilians who had no chance to survive the occupation, remain in the shelter of the Azovstal plant. Without access to water, food, and medicine. The military cannot stockpile weapons. They are bombarded from the air, sea, and land. Fights don’t stop for an hour. The battle for Mariupol is the Ukrainian Thermopylae.
The history of world wars knows many examples when the parties showed goodwill and allowed the military to leave the encirclement. Unfortunately, Ukraine’s diplomatic resource is not enough for such agreements. We encourage leaders to act as a third party in the extraction procedure.”
Russian troops are not allowing bodies of Ukrainian soldiers to be retrieved from battlefields in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Often, Russian troops are not allowing us to retrieve the wounded and, unfortunately, dead Ukrainian soldiers from the battlefield, in contravention of all international humanitarian norms, forgetting humanity and mercy”, the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration, stated on Telegram.
All women, children, and elderly were evacuated from Azovstal as of May 7, according to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine:
“The Order of the President is executed: all women, children and elderly are evacuated from Azovstal. This part of Mariupol operation is over.”
Medics and wounded are to be evacuated from Azovstal too, the President of Ukraine stated.
“I am grateful to the teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations for helping us conduct the first phase of evacuation from Azovstal. We were able to evacuate over 300 people: women, and children. We have basically got all the civilians out of Azovstal.
We are currently organising the second phase of evacuation for the wounded and medics. Of course, only if our agreements are observed. Of course, only if there is no deceit. We are of course also working on evacuating our military personnel. All the heroes defending Mariupol. This is extremely difficult. But important.”
Azov regiment refuted the Russian claim that they had surrendered.
“There is info spread across online channels that the defenders of Mariupol went out to Russian troops with a white flag. In reality, for the evacuation of civilians, white flags are usually used by both parties. So happened this time, with the purpose to ensure evacuation of citizens from the Azovstal plant both groups used such flags. Worth mentioning that such procedure takes place for the fourth time.”
According to UNHCR 5,801,159 refugees have been registered as of May 6. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 3,167,805 refugees, Romania 857,846, Russian Federation 739,418, Hungary 557,001, Republic of Moldova 453,848, Slovakia 391,592 and Belarus 26,278. Among those who fled Ukraine are also Ukrainian nationals with dual citizenship. An additional 105,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts between 18 and 23 February.
The number of Ukrainians entering Ukraine since February 28 is 1,492,500 as of May 6. This figure reflects cross-border movements, which can be pendular, and does not necessarily indicate sustainable returns.
OHCHR recorded 6,802 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of May 5. 3,309 were killed (including 234 children) and 3,493 injured (including 330 children).
Russians dropped a bomb on a school where almost 100 people were hiding, the Ukrainska Pravda reports. The Russian occupiers dropped a powerful bomb on a school building in the village of Belogorovka in the Luhansk Oblast, where 90 people were hiding from the shelling.
60 people are estimated to have been killed by the Russian airstrike on a school in Bilohorivka (Luhansk Obl) on 7 May
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 8, 2022
About 30 people have already been rescued from the rubble, the Head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration, Serhiy Haidai, stated. As a result of an airstrike on the school, according to preliminary data, 60 people died.
225 children were killed, and 413 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of May 7. 1,635 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, and 126 of them are destroyed fully. 10,373 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 4,945 crimes against national security were registered.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko has hinted that more modern air defense systems will soon be deployed in the capital to protect residents from air attacks by the Russian occupiers, the Ukrainska Pravda reports.
“Unfortunately, we are still worried about the constant reports of air threats – rocket strikes. We hope that in the coming days there will be additional air defense at the Western, NATO standard, which will protect our airspace more“, he said in an interview with “Radio NV”.
Ukraine is asking for a “green corridor” in EU ports to import more fuel, the Economic Truth reports.
“First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyridenko noted that over the past five days Ukraine has been importing fuel equal to or exceeding domestic consumption. However, she notes, Europe is not ready in terms of logistics. The “bottlenecks” in the logistics of fuel supply to the country are the ports of Eastern Europe: Gdansk, Gdynia, Constanta, Świnoujście, and Burgas. Therefore, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, work is underway to provide Ukraine with a green corridor in these ports.”
The UK is to provide 1.3 billion pounds of further military support to Ukraine, the Reuters reports. The new pledge almost doubles Britain’s previous spending commitments on Ukraine and the government said this is the highest rate of spending on a conflict since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it did not give details of this calculation.
The government also said Johnson will host a meeting of leading defense companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to the increased demand created by the war in Ukraine.
1. NATO will support Ukraine until its complete victory over Russia, the Ukrinform reports.
“NATO assumes that Russia’s war against Ukraine will not end quickly, but Ukraine will win, and NATO will provide assistance. As NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told German newspaper Welt in an interview, NATO is determined to help Ukraine while Putin wages the war, even if it takes months or years. At the same time, Stoltenberg wants to do everything possible so that the conflict does not expand.”
2. Senior Russian lawmaker says the US is directly involved in Ukraine fighting, the Reuters reports.
“Russia’s most senior lawmaker on Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine, which he said amounted to direct US involvement in military action against Russia. “Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.”
3. Today Ukraine celebrates the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Second World War! “We remember the feat of every Ukrainian in bringing peace!”
On the War
The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 7 May:
Armies generally only destroy bridges if they have largely decided they will not attempt to cross the river in the other direction anytime soon; Russian forces are therefore unlikely to launch operations to retake the northeast outskirts of Kharkiv liberated by Ukrainian forces in the near future. Russian forces previously destroyed several bridges during their retreat from Chernihiv Oblast—as did Ukrainian forces withdrawing in the face of the Russian offensive in the initial days of the war.
This Ukrainian offensive is likely intended to push Russian forces out of the artillery range of Kharkiv city and drive to the border of Russia’s Belgorod Oblast. As ISW previously forecasted, the Ukrainian counteroffensive is forcing Russian units intended for deployment elsewhere to redeploy to the Kharkiv front to halt Ukrainian attacks.
Given the current rate of Ukrainian advances, Russian forces may be unable to prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border, even with additional reinforcements. Ukrainian forces are not directly threatening Russian lines of communication to Izium (and ISW cannot verify claims of a separate Ukrainian counteroffensive toward Izium at this time), but the Ukrainian counteroffensive demonstrates promising Ukrainian capabilities and may set conditions for further offensive operations into northeastern Kharkiv Oblast.
By all indications, Russian forces will announce the creation of a Kherson People’s Republic or possibly forcibly annex Kherson Oblast in the near future and are intensifying occupation measures in Mariupol. Russian forces are reportedly increasing their security presence in both Kherson and Mariupol, including withdrawing personnel from frontline combat units to protect Russian dignitaries in Mariupol.
The Kremlin is considering several scenarios for the newly-occupied territory of Ukraine’s south. Among the major options are a quasi state formation (like "LDNR") and the immediate annexation of the region by Russia (like Crimea) https://t.co/ihjaXaR01c
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 8, 2022
Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Leader Denis Pushilin arrived in Kherson on May 6, and local occupation officials stated the region will “strive to become a subject of Russia” and “will resemble something close to Crimea in terms of the pace of development,” echoing longstanding rhetoric used by Russia’s existing proxies in eastern Ukraine. As ISW has previously assessed, the Kremlin will likely form illegal proxy Republics or directly annex occupied areas of southern and eastern Ukraine to cement its occupation administration and attempt to permanently strip these territories from Ukraine.
- Russian forces destroyed several bridges to slow Ukrainian forces and may be conducting a limited withdrawal northeast of Kharkiv city in the face of the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- Ukrainian forces are making significant progress around Kharkiv and will likely advance to the Russian border in the coming days.
- Ukrainian forces continued to repel Russian advances toward Barvinovka and Russian forces have likely abandoned efforts to drive directly southeast toward Sloviansk. ISW cannot confirm claims of a Ukrainian counteroffensive toward Izium at this time.
- Russian forces claimed to capture Popasna on May 7 but remain largely stalled in eastern Ukraine.
- The Ukrainian government confirmed the last remaining civilians trapped in the Azovstal plant evacuated on May 7, though the remaining Ukrainian defenders appear unlikely to surrender. ISW will likely be unable to report any discrete changes in control of terrain until Russian forces capture the plant as a whole due to the poor information environment in Mariupol.
- By all indications, Russian forces will announce the creation of a Kherson People’s Republic or possibly forcibly annex Kherson Oblast in the coming weeks to cement its occupation administration and attempt to permanently strip these territories from Ukraine.
- Russian forces continued to target Odesa with cruise missile strikes and conduct false-flag attacks in Transnistria over the past several days.“
🇺🇦defender Serhiy Volyna writes from Azovstal: “It is as if I found myself in some hellish reality show where we, military,are fighting for life, using every chance,&the world is watching an interesting story. This is real:pain, suffering, hunger, torment, tears, fear, death” 1/2 pic.twitter.com/hj36AInFLl
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 8, 2022
C.I.A. director says the war is in a dangerous phase because Putin ‘thinks he cannot afford to lose’, The New York Times reports.
The stakes are just as high in this phase, in large measure because President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is “in a frame of mind that he thinks he cannot afford to lose,” Mr. Burns said. Mr. Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia, has studied Mr. Putin for decades and in recent appearances has spoken about the risks the Russian president is willing to take to exert control over Ukraine. “He’s convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress,” Mr. Burns said, speaking at an event in Washington sponsored by The Financial Times. Mr. Burns repeatedly praised Ukraine’s fierce resistance to the Russian invasion, arguing that Mr. Putin’s biggest mistake so far in the war was to underestimate the Ukrainians’ will to fight and their ability to defend themselves. Mr. Burns did not discuss in detail the American intelligence provided to the Ukrainians. Senior US officials have said US intelligence had helped Ukrainian forces target high-ranking forces officers and sink Russia’s flagship in the Black Sea. But Mr. Burns said Ukrainians have supplemented the information they have received from American intelligence with their own knowledge and insights. “It’s a big mistake to underestimate the significant intelligence capabilities that the Ukrainians themselves have,” Mr. Burns said. “This is their country. They have a lot more information than we do.” Mr. Burns said China was closely monitoring the events in Ukraine, both the country’s strong resistance and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the international community. The Russian invasion has not eroded the ambitions of President Xi Jinping of China to take control of Taiwan, he said. But Mr. Xi and other Chinese leaders, he added, are trying to look carefully at what lessons to “draw from Ukraine about their own ambitions and Taiwan.” Mr. Burns said the C.I.A. spends a lot of time focusing on China’s reaction to the war in Ukraine and Beijing’s relationship with Moscow. He suggested driving a wedge between the two countries would not be easy. “I would not underestimate Xi Jinping’s commitment to his partnership with Putin’s Russia,” Mr. Burns said.”
The stakes are just as high in this phase, in large measure because President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is “in a frame of mind that he thinks he cannot afford to lose,” Mr. Burns said. Mr. Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia, has studied Mr. Putin for decades and in recent appearances has spoken about the risks the Russian president is willing to take to exert control over Ukraine.
“He’s convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress,” Mr. Burns said, speaking at an event in Washington sponsored by The Financial Times. Mr. Burns repeatedly praised Ukraine’s fierce resistance to the Russian invasion, arguing that Mr. Putin’s biggest mistake so far in the war was to underestimate the Ukrainians’ will to fight and their ability to defend themselves.
Mr. Burns did not discuss in detail the American intelligence provided to the Ukrainians. Senior US officials have said US intelligence had helped Ukrainian forces target high-ranking forces officers and sink Russia’s flagship in the Black Sea. But Mr. Burns said Ukrainians have supplemented the information they have received from American intelligence with their own knowledge and insights.
“It’s a big mistake to underestimate the significant intelligence capabilities that the Ukrainians themselves have,” Mr. Burns said. “This is their country. They have a lot more information than we do.”
Mr. Burns said China was closely monitoring the events in Ukraine, both the country’s strong resistance and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the international community. The Russian invasion has not eroded the ambitions of President Xi Jinping of China to take control of Taiwan, he said. But Mr. Xi and other Chinese leaders, he added, are trying to look carefully at what lessons to “draw from Ukraine about their own ambitions and Taiwan.”
Mr. Burns said the C.I.A. spends a lot of time focusing on China’s reaction to the war in Ukraine and Beijing’s relationship with Moscow. He suggested driving a wedge between the two countries would not be easy. “I would not underestimate Xi Jinping’s commitment to his partnership with Putin’s Russia,” Mr. Burns said.”
On a Victory Day without victory, Putin faces a choice over all-out war, Washington Post reports. General mobilization of soldiers could give Russia new momentum, but the risks would be enormous.
“Ahead of Russia’s most patriotic and somber holiday, Victory Day on Monday, there is no victory in the war against Ukraine but plenty of rumors that President Vladimir Putin will order a general mobilization of soldiers to secure one.
Analysts see mobilization as Russia’s best hope to turn the tide and defeat Ukraine, by reinforcing demoralized forces and plowing them back into the war. But the risks — admitting that the military campaign so far has been a failure and igniting domestic opposition — may be too great.
Several top Russian officials have sought to quash the rumors. “No, no. I can tell you this on and off the air,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian parliament, in comments Thursday to Russian radio. …
Russia’s 10-week-old military campaign was not supposed to come to this. On the day of the invasion, a jubilant Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of state-owned RT, wisecracked that the Russian campaign was just “a standard parade rehearsal” for Victory Day. “It’s just that this year they decided to hold the parade in Kiev,” she tweeted, using the Russian spelling of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
But Russia’s efforts to fuse Victory Day — its celebration of the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War II — with a victory in its war against what Moscow calls “Nazis” in Ukraine fell flat with the failure to capture Kyiv. …
Over the years, Putin has used the holiday to legitimize his increasingly authoritarian rule, exploiting the myth of Russia as a nation that never invaded anyone, fights only in self-defense and single-handedly saved the world from Nazis in World War II, at a staggering cost of 27 million Soviet war dead.
“Putin is going to use this day to justify his war against Ukraine and to underline, as he believes, the historical mission of Russia to fight fascism. He has to legitimize his war, and he’s trying to present it to the world and to Russians as some kind of fight for historical justice,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, Paris-based head of R.Politik political consultancy, in an interview.
“The strategic problem that Russia is facing today is that Russian society has not been prepared for protracted and costly war. It wanted a fast, decisive victory, and Putin can’t give it to Russians,” she said.
If Putin were to declare all-out war and mobilize recruits, it would take at least six months to train them, Stanovaya said. That would also be a recognition that the “special military operation,” as Moscow calls the invasion, has been a failure, and “Putin can’t admit that,” she said. “There are no signs that the Kremlin is ready to shift from a special military operation to a war.”
So far, Russia has relied primarily on soldiers who have voluntarily signed contracts to serve in the military. Russian officials have previously pledged that conscripts would not be sent into battle, although some have.
Speaking to US-funded Current Time TV, Russian military analyst Ruslan Leviev, of the independent open-source analytical group CIT, said that partial mobilization could help Russia take control of eastern Ukraine, where much of the fighting is now concentrated. …
Dmitri Alperovitch, head of Washington-based Silverado Policy Accelerator, a think tank, said in an interview that mobilization would be unpopular and risky. “If you have a general mobilization, everyone in Russia is going to know someone or have a husband, son, nephew or a relative going into the fight,” he said.
If Putin calls a general mobilization, “Russia will have a very long war,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, in an interview. “First the Russians will have to train trainers to train all those people.” …
Analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, speaking to the online outlet We Can Explain associated with exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, predicted that Putin would use the holiday to vow never to leave eastern Ukraine and would give the name “Novorossiya,” or New Russia, to a slice of Ukrainian territory along the Sea of Azov.
Stanovaya said she expected Putin to emphasize his grievances over Western support for Ukraine and could ramp up efforts to intimidate the West, for instance, with more test launches of nuclear-capable missiles. … They’re focused on “the idea that Russia is a victim of unjust and hostile actions of the West,” Stanovaya said. “It means that Putin doesn’t really need to present Russians with some gains. It’s sufficient for him just to continue talking about Russia’s historical mission to fight fascism.”
Consequences and what to do?
NATO will support Ukraine until its complete victory over Russia, the Ukrinform reports.
“NATO assumes that Russia’s war against Ukraine will not end quickly, but Ukraine will win, and NATO will provide assistance. As NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told German newspaper Welt in an interview, NATO is determined to help Ukraine while Putin wages the war, even if it takes months or years. At the same time, Stoltenberg wants to do everything possible so that the conflict does not expand.
In the coming days, according to Stoltenberg, “we can expect and must prepare for the Russian offensive and even greater brutality, even greater difficulties and even greater destruction of critical infrastructure and residential areas.”
According to him, the current Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine has not yet gained momentum as Ukrainian troops defend themselves. …
Stoltenberg sees his main task in preventing a large-scale war so that the war does not expand from Ukraine onwards, and to minimize the risk through deterrence and collective defense.
According to its leader, we are providing massive support to the country, but NATO is deliberately not a party to the war. At the same time, the Alliance is increasing troops and equipment on its eastern flank to protect its members. In his opinion, Germany plays a leading role in this.
Commenting on Moscow’s nuclear threats, Stoltenberg said: “We hear the threatening nuclear rhetoric of the Russian leadership. This is irresponsible and reckless. Nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought, including in Russia.”
He stressed that since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine on February 24, NATO had not noticed any changes in Russia’s nuclear strategy. Therefore, the Alliance sees no indications of a higher level of readiness of the Russian nuclear arsenal, said the Secretary-General.”
Assessment by Hans Petter Midttun
NATO is doing everything it can or rather is allowed to do by its “weakest links”, while still maintaining consensus within the Alliance. Unfortunately, that is not enough. Not even close.
We often hear our political leaders highlight that “Ukraine is not a NATO member” and is not entitled to the collective defense the Alliance is offering its members.
We do not hear them say that “Ukraine needs our assistance because it is the right thing to do”. Neither do we hear them argue that “Ukraine is defending our shared values and principles” or that “Ukraine is fighting for democracy against autocracy”, all of which are true. The fact that they are also fighting for their sovereignty and independence does not alter the above. This is a war that goes beyond Ukraine because it is already a wider conflict. Not because we wished for it; but because Russia decided to engage us all in a hybrid war that has turned into an armed confrontation.
Admittingly, my statement bears a touch of both idealism and a fine-tuned moral compass. I can, therefore, understand that not all share my sentiments.
If, however, we leave sentiments aside, a month before the full-scale invasion I argued that the likelihood of a military escalation has increased because of the lack of political courage in the West. For the lack of the Churchills and the way too many Chamberlains. Unfortunately, this is still the case.
If we had only one Churchill among the Western leaders, he/she would have stated the one thing that none have said so far – but all have signed up to:
“NATO has a unique and robust set of political and military capabilities to address the full spectrum of crises – before, during, and after conflicts. NATO will actively employ an appropriate mix of those political and military tools to help manage developing crises that have the potential to affect Alliance security before they escalate into conflicts; to stop ongoing conflicts where they affect Alliance security; and to help consolidate stability in post-conflict situations where that contributes to Euro-Atlantic security.”
This is a quote from the NATO strategic concept. The “war in Ukraine” – and the Russian ultimatum to NATO as of 16 December – and its threatening nuclear rhetoric – and its ongoing hybrid war against the West – are all that the concept is addressing when it stresses that the Alliance is committed to “stop ongoing conflicts where they affect Alliance security”.
Choosing not to act according to its strategic concept has several ramifications, including death, destruction, human suffering, refugees, and multiple global costs and consequences. Our action contrary to NATO’s strategic concept also undermines the credibility of both the USA and NATO. Other autocracies are watching us back down over the Russian threat of conventional war (without having the capability to challenge the Alliance) and nuclear rhetoric (without having a desire for self-destruction). We are daily demonstrating weakness that increases the likelihood of deteriorating global security.
“NATO is deliberately not a party to the war”, the NATO Secretary-General said.
How does that statement resonate in your head when we already know Russia is waging a hybrid war against the Alliance and Russia is both blaming the West for the situation in Ukraine and is claiming we already are a party to the war and are engaged in a proxy-war, trying to destroy Russia?
That sounds like collective denial to me.
Unfortunately, the strategic messaging and strategy only serves one party. It will enable a protracted war and increasingly massive long-term global costs. While Ukraine undoubtedly will carry the largest costs by far, Ukrainians stand united in the knowledge that they are fighting for their existence. Europeans and Americans are not equally united in the face of accelerating costs and far-reaching consequences of the war. We are after all, constantly being told that we are not a party to the war (that, is a battle between democracy and autocracy).
This is where President Putin finds his hope for victory. He does not need to defeat Ukraine in battle. He simply needs to exhaust the European and American resilience and our support to Ukraine. President Putin is hoping for a compromise at the cost of Ukrainian independence and sovereignty. We have already told him that we desperately want to remain detached from the war. Equally important, recent elections prove that the political landscape in Europe is shifting. Additionally, the US presidential election is only 913 days away.
“Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country.”
The military parade in Red Square in Moscow and cities across Russia on 9 May, is marking victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. President Putin will expand on earlier statements of the West waging a total (hybrid war), economic, information, and cultural war against Russia. Having described the sanctions as an act of aggression, President Putin will probably present this as evidence of what the Kremlin has for years described as a threat to the Russian Federation. He might also argue – as Russia already has done in the past – that the West is responsible for de “Nazification” of Ukraine.
President Putin’s short-lived attempt for a “blitzkrieg” is reverting to what it always was: a war of attrition. The battlespace of the mind will once again become increasingly important.
The USA and NATO must face up to the fact that if they allow President Putin to continue to set the rules, we must double down for a protracted and extremely costly war. If not, it is time to get properly involved and start shaping the battlefield. If we want the war to end sooner, rather than later, we need to start adjusting our strategy and defining NATO’s rules for the upcoming fight.
“NATO must deliberately become a party to the war”