Russo Ukrainian War, Day 145: “West’s refusal to recognize Crimea as Russian is a threat,” said Medvedev

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russia prepares for the next Ukraine offensive in the face of new Western weapons’ arrival. Russia is reinforcing its defensive positions across the occupied areas of the south of Ukraine. Ukrainian Armed Forces maintain control over 2 villages in Luhansk Oblast. “A significant number” of Russian warships moved from occupied Crimea to Russia’s Novorossiysk. West’s refusal to recognize Crimea as Russian is a threat, Medvedev said. Russia has used the private military company Wagner to reinforce front-line forces. Ukraine says Big Tech has dropped the ball on Russian propaganda. Zelenskyy dismisses Prosecutor General and Head of Security Service.

Daily overview — Summary report, July 18

According to military expert Stanislav Haider, as of July 18,

Donetsk Oblast.  Hostilities continue in Bohorodychne, and there’s very intense fighting in the area of Luhansk Oblast’s ​​Bilohorivka and Verkhnokamianskyi. Ukraine holds Berestove, Ivano-Dariivka, Semihiria, as well as  Novoluhanske and Vuglehirsk Power Plant.

Situation on the ground in Ukraine.

A map of the approximate situation on the ground in Ukraine as of 00:00 UTC 18/07/22. There have been no notable changes to control since the last update. Source.

South of Donetsk Oblast. On the front near Vugledar, Russians keep trying to recapture their lost positions as Ukraine’s Armed Forces fight back making the Russian troops retreat to their starting positions. In the area of ​​Mariinka, Russian forces tried hard to gain some positions all night using all types of weapons but failed. Other areas saw Ukraine’s tactical actions.

Situation in Kharkiv 18 July 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Kharkiv 18 July 2022. Source: ISW.

Kharkiv Oblast. The situation in the region has not changed. Parts of the Russian reserve forces concentrated near Russia’s Belgorod conduct “demonstrative actions” to restrain the Ukrainian forces and to prevent Ukraine from advancing to the state border. Meanwhile, the Russian military is shelling Kharkiv every day using heavy artillery (Msta-S, Pion, Uragan, Tornado) and the Iskander operational-tactical missiles.

​​Zaporizhzhia Oblast. This is the second promising front (after Kherson Oblast) for the advancement of Ukrainian forces. Tactical actions on Ukraine’s part continue. The main efforts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are focused on moving the front line away from Huliaypole and Orikhiv and have “certain successes.” Ukraine is taking advantage of the fact that the Russian troops that arrived during the rotation are of low quality.

Situation in Kherson and Mykolaiv. July 18 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Kherson and Mykolaiv. July 18 2022. Source: ISW.

Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian troops are gradually making progress in some areas. Intense fighting is ongoing in the Vysokopillia-Arkhanhelske area and at Kyselivka, and there are Ukrainian tactical operations near Snihurivka and Zolota Balka. Ukraine started using HIMARS for its intended purpose, namely breaking through dense defenses in certain areas. 

The work of the Ukrainian artillery: Russian bases were hit in Alchevsk and Lazurne, and the ammunition depots in Kadiivka and Nova Kakhovka.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, July 18, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below.

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“[There are no significant changes in the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions. Yesterday, Russian forces used artillery to shell the border settlements of Studenok, Volfyne, Bilopylla, Novi Virky and Iskryskivshchyna.]

In the Siversky direction, Russian forces periodically carry out aerial reconnaissance and artillery shelling of the positions of our troops in the border areas of Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts.

[In the Slobozhansky direction:]

  • In the Kharkiv direction, Russian forces are trying to prevent our troops from advancing toward the state border. It carried out shelling in the districts of the city of Kharkiv and the settlements of Derhachi, Pechenigy, Prudyanka, Ruski Tyshky, Pytomnyk, and Korobochkyne. It carried out airstrikes near Verkhnyi Saltiv and Rubizhne. [Yesterday, shelling was recorded in the areas of the settlements of Petrivka, Protopopivka, Prudyanka, Ruski Tyshki, Pytomnyk, Stary Saltiv, Chuhuiv, Mospanove, Udy, Vesele and others. The occupiers carried out airstrikes near Prudyanka and Verkhniy Saltov.]
  • In the Sloviansk direction, Russian forces shelled the areas of the settlements of Novomykolayivka, Dibrovne, Kostyantynivka, Bohorodychne, Mazanivka, Kurulka, Chepil, Virnopillia, Nova Dmytrivka and others with artillery. Made an airstrike near Bohorodychne. [Yesterday, Russian forces fired mortars, artillery and MLRS in the areas of Dolyna, Dibrovne, Ivanivka, Mazanivka, Bohorodychne, Velyka Komyshuvakha, Kurulka, Kostyantynivka, Virnopillya, Husarivka and other settlements. To disrupt the control system of the Defense Forces and prevent aerial reconnaissance, Russian forces are actively using radio-electronic warfare.]
Situation in Donetsk, 18 July 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Donetsk, 18 July 2022. Source: ISW.

[In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces continue to focus their main efforts on attempts to establish control over the city of Siversk and advance in the direction of the city of Bakhmut.] Enemy units fired on civilian and military infrastructure in the areas of Donetske, Siversk, Verkhnokamyanske, Hryhorivka, Ivano-Daryivka, Spirne and other settlements. Russian forces are trying to conduct an assault near Hryhorivka, and the fighting continues. Our defenders successfully repulsed the assaults in the areas of Verkhnokamianske, Spirne and Serebryanka settlements.

  • [In the Sloviansk direction, the occupiers shelled civilian infrastructure in the areas of Donetske, Siversk, Verkhnokamianske, Zvanivka, Vyimka, Ivano-Daryivka, and other settlements. Our soldiers quickly suppressed enemy assaults near Hryhorivka. The occupiers withdrew with losses.]
  • In the Bakhmut direction, shelling was recorded near Berestove, Kurdyumivka, Vesela Dolyna, Soledar, Bakhmut, Vershyna, Travneve, and the territory of the Vuhlehirska TPP. Russian forces carried out assaults in the areas of Novoluhanske, Semihirya and Vuhlehirska TPP without success, and retreated. Delivered missile and air strikes near Berestove. [Yesterday, Russian forces shelled the positions of our troops with mortars, artillery and MLRS, in particular near Berestove, Vesele, Krasna Hora, Vershyna, Novoluhanske, and Travneve. It carried out missile and air strikes in the regions of Kostyantynivka, Novoluhanske and Pokrovske. The occupiers tried to storm and advance near Berestove, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, and Novoluhanske. The bad actions of Russian forces again ended in failure and loss of personnel.]
  • In the Avdiivka, Kurakhivka, Novopavlivka and Zaporizhzhia directions, the occupiers shelled the positions of our troops with mortars, artillery and MLRS, in particular in the areas of the settlements of Kamyanka, Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka, Novomykhailivka, Kamyanske, Mali Shcherbaky, Prechistivka. Airstrikes were carried out near Novodanylivka and Novoandriivka. Ukrainian soldiers stopped all attempts of enemy assaults in the areas of Kamyanka, Novomykhailivka and Vuhledar The invaders retreated with losses. [Yesterday, shelling was recorded near Nevelske, Krasnohorivka, Novomykhailivka, Volodymyrivka, Pavlivka, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva, Stepnohirsk, and Stepove. Russian forces launched missiles and airstrikes near Pokrovsk and Novoselivka Druha.]
  • Russian forces used means of radio-electronic warfare to suppress satellite communication channels.
  • [The occupiers tried to improve the tactical position in the areas of Mykhailivka, Pavlivka and Novomykhailivka settlements. They were repulsed and ingloriously managed to escape.]

In the Pivdenny Buh directions, mutual shelling with the use of artillery and MLRS continues along the line of contact. Russian forces launched an airstrike near Potyomkine. In order to detect changes in the position of our troops and adjust the fire, it conducted aerial reconnaissance of the UAVs. [Russian forces are trying to disrupt the logistical support of our troops with systematic shelling. Yesterday, they shelled civilian and military infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Bila Krynytsia, Berezneguvate, Ternivka, Vesely Kut, Blahodatne, Kvitneve, Lotskyne, Novohryhorivka, Myrne, Prybuzke, Lupareve, Bashtanka and others. Launched missile strikes on Mykolaiv.]

Russian Black Sea Fleet continues to block civilian shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.”

Military Updates 

Russian defense minister ordered “units in all areas” to step up Ukraine operations on Saturday 16 July, Reuters reports. “Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered Russian military units operating in all areas of Ukraine to step up their operations in order to prevent strikes on eastern Ukraine and other territories controlled by Russia, the ministry said in a statement on its website on Saturday.

Russia prepares for the next Ukraine offensive in face of new Western weapons, Reuters reports. “Russia is preparing for the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official said, after Moscow said its forces would step up military operations in “all operational areas”. As Western deliveries of long-range arms begin to help Ukraine on the battlefield, Russian rockets and missiles have pounded cities in strikes that Kyiv says have killed dozens in recent days.

It is not only missile strikes from the air and sea, Vadym Skibitskyi, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, said late on Saturday. “We can see shelling along the entire line of contact, along the entire front line. There is an active use of tactical aviation and attack helicopters. Clearly, preparations are now underway for the next stage of the offensive. The Ukrainian military said Russia appeared to be regrouping units for an offensive toward Sloviansk, a symbolically important city held by Ukraine in the eastern region of Donetsk.”

Ukrainian Armed Forces maintain control over 2 villages in Luhansk Oblast, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration, on Telegram. “Two villages in Luhansk Oblast remain under the control of the Ukrainian government. This is what keeps bothering the Russians, who have been ordered to capture all of Luhansk Oblast, all the way to its administrative border. They have reported, multiple times, that they had completed their combat mission – they may even have received awards for it – but still, they can’t establish control over the last few remaining kilometers.”

National Guard defender shoots down his sixth Russian Su-25 attack aircraft with an Igla MANPADS, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing National Guard press service on Facebook. “On 17 July, a 19-year-old conscript in the National Guard of Ukraine hit his 6th Russian plane using an Igla MANPADS”.

“A significant number” of Russian warships moved from occupied Crimea to Russia’s Novorossiysk, Ukrinform reports, citing Serhiy Bratchuk, adviser to the head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration. “According to the information of our Navy, Russian forces have redeployed a significant number of warships from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk. Russian ships were earlier deployed in missile-proof areas in the zone covered by coastal air defense systems, as close as possible to the coast,” said the official.”

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • Russia has used private military company Wagner to reinforce front-line forces and to mitigate manning shortfalls and casualties. Wagner has almost certainly played a central role in recent fighting, including the capture of Popasna and Lysyschansk. This fighting has inflicted heavy casualties on the group.
  • Wagner is lowering recruitment standards, hiring convicts and formerly blacklisted individuals. Very limited training is made available to new recruits. This will highly likely impact the future operational effectiveness of the group and will reduce its value as a prop to the regular Russian forces.
  • Wagner head, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, has recently been made a Hero of the Russian Federation for Wagner’s performance in Luhansk. This, at a time when a number of very senior Russian military commanders are being replaced, is likely to exacerbate grievances between the military and Wagner. It is also likely to impact negatively on Russian military morale.
  • Russia is reinforcing its defensive positions across the occupied areas of the South of Ukraine. This includes the movement of manpower, equipment and defensive stores between Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia, and in Kherson. Russian forces in Melitopol are also increasing security measures.
  • Ukrainian forces have been applying pressure on the Russian defensive line in Kherson Oblast for over a month now, and recent political statements from both Zelenskky and the Deputy Prime Minister have warned of forthcoming offence operations to force Russia out of the areas it currently controls.
  • Russian defensive moves are likely a response to anticipated Ukrainian offensives, to demands made by Defence Minister Shoygu on a recent visit to the Donbas, and also to the attacks Ukraine is launching against command posts, logistic nodes and troop concentrations. Given the pressures on Russian manpower, the reinforcement of the South whilst the fight for the Donbas continues likely indicates the seriousness with which Russian commanders view the threat.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 18 July, 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 38450 (+150),
  • Tanks – 1687 (+3),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 3886 (+7),
  • Artillery systems – 849 (+3),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 248 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 113 (+3),
  • Aircraft – 220 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 188 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 2753 (+7),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 690 (+2),
  • Special equipment – 70 (+2),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 166 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Bakhmut direction.

Humanitarian 

1,346 bodies of civilians killed by invaders have already been found in the Kyiv region – National Police, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. “The head of the Chief Department of the National Police in the Kyiv region, Andrii Niebytov, reported that 1,346 bodies of civilians who died at the hands of the invaders have already been found in the Kyiv region.

He stressed that this is not the final figure. The police continue to work and find bodies at the Russian invaders’ previous location in the region. Niebytov also added that about 300 people are considered missing. According to him, many civilians could have been forcibly taken out of Ukraine by the invaders.”

️️Environmental 

Russia is about to play its most dangerous cards – and the west is not ready The Independent reports. “A few weeks ago, the US bank JP Morgan offered an apocalyptic warning that barely made a ripple outside the financial press. It said that if Russia completely halted oil exports, the shock to the world economy could be so large it would instantly quadruple the price of oil to nearly $400 a barrel. Right now, it’s hovering at around $100 a barrel.

Since the world is still heavily reliant on oil, the shock to the world economy would be far worse than during the 1970s – and plunge us into a deep recession.

But there’s more. This week, Russia also turned off most of its natural gas supplies to Europe, via the Nordstream 1 pipeline as part of planned routine maintenance. It is supposed to be just for a short period, but the German government is seriously worried that Russia could turn off the tap completely. Putin has already begun to cut gas shipments to Europe over the last few months, driving prices continuously higher. It’s not difficult to see how this could play out and why the impact would be catastrophic.

Russia has earned billions of dollars in extra oil and gas payments – thanks to higher prices – since it invaded Ukraine. The prices of oil and gas are set internationally, and in that market, Russia is a dominant player. Since world supplies are already stretched to their limits, a ban from Russia would instantly drive up prices to what JP Morgan called “stratospheric” levels.

While the United States has plentiful supplies for itself, Europe is still deeply dependent on Russia. German and Italian industries in particular would be crippled by higher energy costs and thousands of companies would simply go bust. Millions of people would become jobless and their energy bills would skyrocket to unsustainable levels. Millions would be unable to afford to cook food or drive cars.

Putin has already been weaponising fossil fuels. He recently shut off gas supplies to several European countries if they didn’t pay in roubles, eventually forcing them to relent. He has also been cutting off Ukrainian exports of food to drive up prices around the world. Natural gas now rivals oil as the fuel that shapes geopolitics – and there isn’t enough of it to go around, as Bloomberg News put it recently.

Some think he would be foolish to cut off his own source of income, but the Russian government has built up a sufficient buffer of cash to help against that. Moreover, time is running out for Putin: by next year Germany plans to wean itself off its dependency on Russia. 

By abruptly shutting off supplies, Putin would deliver a colossal shock to our oil and gas-dependent economies. Stockmarkets would plunge and thousands of companies would go bankrupt from being unable to afford energy supplies. Millions of people would lose their jobs and the West would instantly lose the political will to send money to Ukraine. Putin would win. […]»

Euromaidan Press partners with German news translation startup Kompreno

Ukraine says Big Tech has dropped the ball on Russian propaganda, The Washington Post reports. “In the frantic first weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US tech companies that control the world’s largest information hubs sprang into action. Responding to pressure from Western governments, social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube banned or throttled Russian state media accounts, beefed up their fact-checking operationscurtailed ad sales in Russia, and opened direct lines to Ukrainian officials, inviting them to flag Russian disinformation and propaganda to be taken down.

As the war grinds toward its sixth month, however, Russian propaganda techniques have evolved — and the tech firms haven’t kept up.

Ukrainian officials who have flagged thousands of tweets, YouTube videos and other social media posts as Russian propaganda or anti-Ukrainian hate speech say the companies have grown less responsive to their requests to remove such content. New research shared with The Washington Post by a Europe-based nonprofit initiative confirms that many of those requests seem to be going unheeded, with accounts parroting Kremlin talking points, spewing anti-Ukrainian slurs or even impersonating Ukrainian officials remaining active on major social networks.

As a result, researchers say, Kremlin-backed narratives are once again propagating across Europe, threatening to undermine popular support for Ukraine in countries that it views as critical to its defense.”

Legal 

Report on Violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Ukraine (1 April – 25 June 2022) was published by OSCE on 14 July.

“The second mission has largely confirmed the conclusions reached by the first mission. It has discovered clear patterns of serious violations of [international human rights law] attributable mostly to Russian armed forces in many areas to which its investigations referred to. A considerable number of civilians have been killed or injured, and civilian objects – like civilian houses, hospitals, cultural property, schools, multi-story residential buildings, administrative buildings, penitentiary institutions, water stations, and electricity systems – have been damaged or destroyed in numerous towns and villages. The magnitude and frequency of the indiscriminate attacks carried out against civilians and civilian objects, including in sites where no military facility was identified, is credible evidence that hostilities were conducted by Russian armed forces with disregard to their fundamental obligation to comply with the basic principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution that constitute the fundamental basis of IHL.

The second mission has concluded that international human rights law (IHRL) has been extensively violated in the conflict in Ukraine. Some of the most serious violations include targeted killing of civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders, or local mayors; unlawful detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances of such persons; large-scale deportations of Ukrainian civilians to Russia; various forms of mistreatment, including torture, inflicted on detained civilians and prisoners of war; the failure to respect fair trial guarantees; and the imposition of the death penalty. Most, albeit not all, violations have been committed in the territories under the effective control of the Russian Federation, including the territories of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and are largely attributable to the Russian Federation.

The mission has identified two new alarming phenomena which were not included or paid sufficient attention in the first report, namely the establishment and use of so-called filtration centers and the tendency by the Russian Federation to bypass its international obligations by handing detained persons over to the two so-called People’s Republics and letting them engage in problematic practices, including the imposition of the death penalty.”

Russia’s terror has reached its peak in the past five months – Venediktova, Ukrinform reports. “Russia must be recognized as a terrorist state. We have had terrible evidence of this for eight years, and its terror has reached its peak in the past five months. Almost 23,000 war crimes have been committed by its troops, the targets of each of which were civilian objects and the civilian population of Ukraine, journalists of the world mass media who showed the truth about the aggression of the Russian Federation and its atrocities, Venediktova emphasized.”

Zelenskyy dismisses Prosecutor General and Head of Security Service, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. “Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, has dismissed Iryna Venediktova from her role as Prosecutor General and Ivan Bakanov from his position as the head of the Security Service of Ukraine. In another decree, President Zelenskyy appointed Oleksii Symonenko, Deputy Prosecutor General, as Acting Prosecutor General.

In 2021, Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksii Symonenko attended the birthday celebrations of Oleh Tatarov, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. Earlier, Symonenko oversaw the handing over of Tatarov’s case from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine to the Security Service of Ukraine [an event the National Anti-Corruption Bureau called “unprecedented” at the time – ed.].”

Zelensky explains the move to sack top prosecutor and security chief, Ukrinform reports. “The number of cases where security operatives and prosecutors are investigated over their siding with Russian forces poses questions to the chiefs of the relevant bodies.

I decided to remove the Prosecutor General from her post and remove the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (from his duties – ed.). As of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding high treason and collaborative activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial inquiry bodies, and other law enforcement agencies. In 198 criminal proceedings, charges were pressed against the relevant individuals,” the president said in a video address.

In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU remained in the occupied territory and are working against our country, Zelensky noted.”

Crimes committed during full-scale invasion of the RF

Crimes of agression and war crimes. Source: Prosecutor General’s Office.

353 children were killed, and 666 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of July 18. 2,138 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 221 of them are destroyed fully. 23,766 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 11,462 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

NATO and the EU should stop complaining and increase aid to Ukraine, Ukraine Business News reports. “The price for NATO and the EU for supporting Ukraine is measured with money. However, Ukrainians pay for European security with their lives, so the West should increase its aid to Ukraine so that it does not have to pay a much higher price in the future, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Even if someone does not care about the moral aspect of supporting the people of Ukraine, you should take care of the interests of your security. So you have to pay for support, humanitarian aid, and economic sanctions’ consequences. You should stop complaining and instead increase your assistance for Ukraine, said Stoltenberg in front of the members of the European Parliament. At the same time, the NATO Secretary General noted that the West should be prepared to support Ukraine for a long time.”

The West Leaves Ukraine Outgunned Against Russia, The WSJ wrote in an Op-ed on 12 July. Russia has at least 10 times as many artillery and missile systems as Ukraine, and in some places on the front line the disparity is closer to 20 to 1, former Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk says.

With a range of hundreds of miles, Russian missiles can strike anywhere in Ukraine. Recent attacks in the western region of Lviv were a short distance from the Polish border. On June 27, President Volodymyr Zelensky estimated that Russia had used “almost 2,800 different cruise missiles” and “hundreds of thousands” of air bombs and rockets against Ukraine.

In contrast, Ukraine’s Western partners have imposed political constraints on the use of donated systems for attacks on Russian territory, and the range of Ukraine’s weapons is limited even on its own soil. Ukraine’s surface-to-surface systems can reach some 75 miles away at maximum with its Vilkha and Tochka missiles, but those are in short supply, Mr. Zagorodnyuk says. Along much of the front line, Ukraine fights with howitzers that have a range of only some 15 miles. Russia often relies on similar systems, but its ground-based rockets can also reach much farther into Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Russia can produce bullets, shells and, more slowly, missiles to replace what it has used in this war. Ukraine lacks such regenerative capabilities, and as Kyiv makes the transition from Soviet-era equipment to NATO weaponry, it becomes wholly reliant on Western support. Ukraine needs weapons systems and ammunition “like, yesterday,” says Brig. Gen. Hennadi Shapovalov, who oversees military cooperation between the Ukrainian armed forces and its Western partners. In his assessment, the delays are “completely a political problem.” Poland, Slovakia, and the Baltics have responded to the war with appropriate urgency, he says. The US has been supportive but slow to act. Germany’s hesitation has been particularly frustrating, though there have been recent signs of improvement.

The disparity in quantity and range of munitions has serious battlefield consequences. When Ukrainians want to take out enemy command posts or supply depots, they have to get close, jeopardizing lives and equipment. […]

On the battlefield, Ukrainians are using four US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or Himars, which have a range of some 50 miles. Four more are expected to arrive soon. In recent days Ukraine has used its Himars to strike Russian weapons depots and fuel-storage facilities, and the Pentagon last week approved the provision of four additional Himars, bringing the total delivered or promised to 12.

Ukrainian officials say they need about 100 Himars. Meanwhile, a US Senate source told me the tranche that included the first four Himars included fewer than 20 missiles per launcher, though a subsequent tranche included significantly more. The Biden administration has said it would provide additional ammunition but hasn’t disclosed specifics.

With less ammunition to use, “the Ukrainians have to be much more careful, much more selective, and they can’t hit the same number of targets,” says Fred Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute. The Russians often have multiple posts behind the front line performing the same supportive functions, so even a successful Ukrainian strike on a target may not cause much disruption.

New Developments

  1. Russia does not want to end the war, and Ukraine defending its own land – Zelensky, UkrinformThis is a war in Ukraine that Russia started, that Russia continues and that Russia does not want to end. Ukraine defends its own land, its sovereignty, its territory. Ukraine is fighting for peace, President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Facebook.
  2. Medvedev: West’s refusal to recognize Crimea as Russian is a threat, ReutersThe refusal of Ukraine and NATO powers to recognise Moscow’s authority over Crimea represents a “systemic threat” for Russia, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday. His comments were aired a day after a Ukrainian official suggested that Crimea, which most of the world still recognizes as part of Ukraine, could be a target for US-made HIMARS missiles, recently deployed by Kyiv as it battles Russian forces. He said Russia had carried out strikes on Ukrainian territory from Crimea and the Black Sea and so these were also justified targets.”
  3. Medvedev threatened Ukraine with “Judgement Day” in the event of a strike on Crimea, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Interfax. “Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev threatens Ukraine with a “judgment day” in the event of a strike on Crimea. The Presidential Office of Ukraine responded that Medvedev causes only pity.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war.

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday 17 July:

Russian forces are continuing a measured return from the operational pause and conducted limited ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast on July 17. As ISW has previously noted, the end of the Russian operational pause is unlikely to create a massive new wave of ground assaults across multiple axes of advance despite Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s public order for exactly that. Russian troops are prioritizing advances around Siversk and Bakhmut while maintaining defensive positions north of Kharkiv City and along the Southern Axis. Russian forces continued to set conditions for resumed offensives toward Sloviansk, shelled settlements along the Izium-Sloviansk salient, and otherwise conducted artillery, missile, and air strikes throughout Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense notably did not claim any new territorial gains on July 17. ISW continues to forecast that the end of the operational pause will be characterized by a fluctuating and staggered resumption of ground offensives.

Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces are changing their concentration areas to densely populated areas in Kherson Oblast in an effort to deter Ukrainian strikes on Russian positions. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command also reported that Russian forces modified S-300 surface-to-air missiles to strike Mykolaiv City during the night on July 16-17. The Kherson Oblast Administration stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian ammunition warehouse in Lazurne on July 16-17.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces continued a measured return from the operational pause and did not make any confirmed territorial gains on July 17.
  • Russian forces continued limited ground assaults around Siversk, Bakhmut, and Donetsk City and otherwise fired at civilian and military infrastructure throughout the Donbas.
  • Russian forces focused on defensive operations north of Kharkiv City and along the Southern Axis.
  • The Kremlin may be setting long-term conditions for force generation efforts in anticipation of protracted hostilities in Ukraine.

Russian occupation authorities are likely using the threat of partisan activities to justify harsher societal controls in occupied areas.”

A huge expansion in cadet and young army classes in Russia – Ukrainian Intelligence, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “The scale of military training for children in Russia is expanding. In Belgorod Oblast alone, 500 cadet classes and about 1000 young army classes have opened for enrolment.

Also in Belgorod, Russia, on the basis of the local Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Air Force and Navy branches, basic military training courses have been opened for those who want to serve in the army but do not have the relevant experience. Graduates of the courses are encouraged to sign a contract with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

Ukraine has seriously weakened the Russian army – Latvian defense ministry, Ukrinform reports, citing Delfi. “During the ongoing war, Ukraine has weakened the Russian army to such an extent that the latter cannot launch a new offensive no earlier than in two years. The opinion was expressed by Latvia’s Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks.

The minister stressed the need to reform the State Defense Service, which provides for mandatory military conscription. According to Pabriks, Ukraine is literally giving Latvia time to prepare, and Latvia must act immediately to successfully deter the invader. The politician believes that any claims alleging that reforming the State Defense Service would be untimely due to the looming elections hold no criticism, being a lame excuse.”

UK defense chief: Russia has lost more than 30% of its land combat effectiveness, Ukrinform reports. “They [Ukraine] are absolutely clear that they plan to restore the whole of their territory in terms of Ukraine, and they see a Russia that is struggling, a Russia that we assess has lost more than 30% of its land combat effectiveness, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the chief of the defense staff for the UK, said on BBC One’s Sunday Morning show, The Guardian informs.

He noted that 50,000 Russian soldiers had either died or been injured, and nearly 1,700 Russian tanks and 4,000 armored fightings [vehicles] had been destroyed during the war. The Admiral emphasized that Russia had not achieved its goals either with regard to taking the whole of Ukraine or creating fractures and applying pressure on NATO. Instead, it became weaker than before February 24. Russia is failing in all of those ambitions, Russia is a more diminished nation than it was at the beginning of February, he said.”

Ukraine war shows the West’s dominance is ending as China rises, Blair says, Reuters reports. “The Ukraine war shows that the West’s dominance is coming to an end as China rises to superpower status in partnership with Russia at one of the most significant inflexion points in centuries, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

The world, Blair said, was at a turning point in history comparable with the end of World War Two or the collapse of the Soviet Union: but this time the West is clearly not in the ascendant. The world is going to be at least bi-polar and possibly multi-polar,” Blair said. “The biggest geo-political change of this century will come from China, not Russia.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands and triggered the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.”

2. Consequences and what to do? 

Hans Petter Midttun:

If your neighbor takes up a mortgage to buy a house, he doesn’t become debt free the next day. Nor the following days. He will reach his aim of being mortgage free in 20-30 years. It will take as long as it takes according to the downpayment plan.

If you attack your neighbor, you don’t reach your strategic aim and objectives the next day. Nor the following days. You might reach your aim and objectives next month, next year, or in 20-30 years. It will take as long as it takes according to the selected strategy, recognizing that no plan survives first contact with the enemy forces. You learn and adapt.

But you don’t attack unless you believe you can win.

While the war is still raging many analysts have stated that Russia has failed to reach its aims and objectives (which is blatantly obvious, since the war is still ongoing). Many questions Russia’s ability to reach them in the future, focusing on present territorial gains, speed of advance, military losses, the ability to regenerate new forces and sustain further operations, the morale and motivation of the soldiers, and more. They evaluate Russia’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as its ability to protect its weaknesses while exploiting the weaknesses of its enemies.

Was the invasion on 24 February 2022 a strategic blunder? Absolutely. Have they been able to rest and restitute the forces withdrawn from the northern axis? Hardly. Has Russia regenerated sufficient new forces for its offensive in the East? Nope. Are they making the progress they hoped for? Probably not. Is Ukraine about to negotiate peace on Russian terms? When hell freezes over. Are they facing continued manning problems? Yes, they are. Do the Russian Federation have the military forces needed to occupy Ukraine? Not a chance.

But then again, they don’t need to occupy all of Ukraine to be victorious. This isn’t a conventional war. It is a hybrid war aiming to undermine both Ukraine and the West through the joint and synchronized use of both military and non-military means. Over the last 8,5 years, we have seen Russia adapt, escalate and deescalate the use of the various means as it sees fit.

 

Russia has most definitely been doing the same assessments. Not from the perspective of a conventional war, but based on its hybrid war strategy. Its calculus might, therefore, end up with a different and far more – from a Russian perspective – positive outlook.

To illustrate, we only need to frame the questions differently. Are the USA and NATO being deterred? Yes, they are. Does Ukraine receive the support they need to recapture occupied territories? No, they aren’t. Does the maritime blockade work as intended? Absolutely. Is the Ukrainian economy suffering? Big time. Has the West the resilience needed in the face of the ongoing economic war? Not necessarily. Some are already calling for concessions at the cost of European security. Is the EU willing or capable to escalate the sanctions to the level needed to destroy the Russian economy? Most probably not. EU’s unity and resolve were faltering already after the fifth package. Is Russia capable of escalating the economic war? I am afraid so. And when they do, our resilience will be challenged big time. Who is the weakest link? I am not pointing fingers, but it isn’t Ukraine or Russia. They are already fighting an existential war. The West hasn’t yet realized that it is at war.

I am not saying that Russia will succeed. I am simply saying that it has long acknowledged the crucial role of the West as a party to the war and having assessed the US and NATO’s resolve and resilience has probably concluded that victory is within reach. At the end of the day, it is up to the West to prove it wrong.

That’s why recent statements by the NATO General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, are important. He fully acknowledges Ukraine’s efforts to protect European security and tells the ones complaining about the economic repercussions of the war to stop complaining. The Ukrainian sacrifices are immensely higher than the price the NATO member countries are paying.

Yes, [support] has a price; but not to act and just let that brutality continue, and let that brutality of Russia be awarded is, for me, a higher price. Second, it is in our interest to help Ukraine. Because you have to understand that, if Ukraine loses this, that’s a danger for us. That will make Europe even more vulnerable to Russian aggression. Because then the lesson learned from Georgia in 2008, from annexing Crimea in 2014, from starting to undermine Donbas in 2014, and then the full-fledged brutal invasion by President Putin in February, is that they can just use force to get their will. It’s to re-establish an idea of spheres of influence, where big powers can decide what small neighbors can do. And that will make all of us more vulnerable.

So, even if you don’t care about the moral aspect of this, supporting the people of Ukraine, you should care about your own security interest. So, therefore, you have to pay; pay for the support, pay for humanitarian aid, pay the consequences of the economic sanctions, because the alternative is to pay a much higher price later on.

And then remember one thing, yes, we pay a price, but the price we pay, as the European Union, as NATO, is a price we can measure in currency, in money. The price they pay is measured in lives lost every day. So, we should just stop complaining and step up and provide support, full stop.

During the same event, Michael Gahler and Reinhard Bütikofer, both German Members of the European Parliament but representing two different political parties, captured the essence of the EU and NATO deliberations when the former said that “I think if the largest European NATO country refuses to deliver what needs to be delivered, although it is available to be delivered, I think that is passive support for this utterly fascist Russian regime. By refusing deliveries to Ukraine, you passively support Russia.” Bütikofer responded, saying “I agree completely with what Mr Gahler said, that we should provide all the arms necessary to help defend Ukraine. But while he is upset that my German government is not delivering more arms, I’m upset that his previous government did not procure the arms that he would like to deliver.”

I have previously questioned NATO’s ability to deliver what is needed. Not necessarily for the lack of will, but for the lack of equipment and ammunition. I have also reported on the Defence Industry facing supply chain problems, labor constraints and inflationary pressures that could hold back its efforts to scale up production.

Sven Mikser, an Estonian MEP, pointedly asked Jens Stoltenberg how confident he was that our defense industries are capable of both meetings the defense requirements of the EU member states as well as delivering the modern weapons Ukraine needs? Being careful to answer all other questions, the General Secretary carefully dodged that particular one.

Unfortunately, the shortcomings NATO is facing after decades of underbudgeting, streamlining, and downsizing are both reflected on the battlefield in Ukraine and recognized by the Russian Federation adding credit to its belief that it might win. Recognizing that the West needs more time to generate new forces, procure more arms, sensors, command and control systems, build sustainability, and not least, rebuild the defense industry to achieve all of this, Russia knows that a cut in gas and oil delivery to Europe before the onset of winter will be devastating and might impact its will to uphold its support to Ukraine.

This war only ends when Ukraine wins. Ukraine only wins when it has the right weapons. That’s a problem we can solve”, Timothy Snyder said. We need to start delivering the support that completely changes the military balance in our – Ukraine, the EU, NATO and the US – favor.

We need to convince Russia that their assessment is wrong. Victory is not within its reach because we will do what is needed to ensure its defeat in Ukraine.

For that to happen, the US and NATO need to change their strategy.

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