Russo Ukrainian War, Day 179: Will the West respond with applying NATO’s Article 5 to an accident at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant?

 

Daily review, More

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

The last week has seen only minimal changes in territorial control along the front line. More explosions in Sevastopol: Russians claim it was Air Defence. Russian forces claim soldiers have been poisoned in an act of Ukraine’s “chemical terrorism.” Ukrainian hackers hack Crimean TV. Grain deal’s first 20 days: 27 ships leave and 18 ships enter Ukrainian ports. The “weekend” for Ukrainian personnel was extended at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power (ZNPP). Nord Stream 1 pipeline to shut for three days in latest fuel blow to Europe. The West considers applying NATO’s Article 5 in response to a possible accident at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Situation in Ukraine. August 20, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. August 20, 2022. Source: ISW.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, August 21, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below. 

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“The movement of air defence equipment of the armed forces of the Russian Federation to the territory of the Republic of Belarus is noted in the Volyn and Polissya directions. The threat of Russian forces launching missiles and air strikes from the territory and airspace of this country continues to persist. [No formation of a strike group of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on the border of our state was detected.]

  • [The threat of Russian forces launching missiles and airstrikes from the territory and airspace of the Republic of Belarus continues.]

In the Siversky direction, Russian forces carried out mortar attacks on the settlements of Pushkari in Chernihiv oblast and Myropillya and Pavlivka in Sumy oblast. [Russian forces continue to hold separate units from the Western Military District in the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions to constrain the actions of units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine.]

  • [Yesterday, Russian occupiers shelled units of our troops in the border areas of Chernihiv and Sumy regions with mortars.]

[In the Slobozhansky direction:]

Kharkiv Battle Map. August 20,2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. August 20,2022. Source: ISW.

  • [In the Kharkiv direction, Russian forces are concentrating their main efforts on holding occupied positions. Yesterday, they fired from artillery and MLRS in the areas of settlements of Karasivka, Velyki Prohody, Chernyaky, Pischane and Pechenihy.] Russian forces shelled the areas of Prudyanka, Ruski Tyshky, Shestakove, Pischane and Pechenihy with artillery and MLRS. Carried out airstrikes near Mospanove, Stary Saltiv, and Husarivka. Conducted aerial reconnaissance near the settlement of Velyki Prokhody.
    • [Russian forces carried out airstrikes near Prudyanka and Verkhniy Saltiv and conducted aerial reconnaissance near Ruski Tyshky and Zolochiv.]
  • [In the Sloviansk direction, Russian forces are concentrating their main efforts on resuming offensive operations. Yesterday, fired from artillery and MLRS in the areas of Asiivka, Husarivka, Chepil, Protopopivka and Dovhenke settlements. Made an airstrike near Zalyman.] Artillery shelling was recorded near Shevelivka, Krasnopilla, Dibrivne, Nortsivka, Sulyhivka, and Dolyna.
    • [Yesterday, the occupiers waged offensive battles in the directions Brazhkivka – Novodmytrivka, Sulygivka – Novodmytrivka, Brazhkivka – Virnopilla and Dovhenke – Kurulka. As a result, our soldiers inflicted losses on Russian forces and forced them to retreat.]
    • Russian forces carried out combat reconnaissance in the direction of Pasika – Bohrodychne, which was unsuccessful and withdrew.
    • Tried to conduct assault operations in the directions Brazhkivka – Nova Dmytrivka and Sulyhivka – Nova Dmytrivka. Suffered losses and retreated.
Donetsk Battle Map. August 20, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. August 20, 2022. Source: ISW.

In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces are trying to continue offensive actions. [Russian forces continue offensive actions and concentrate the main efforts in the Bakhmut direction.]

  • In the Kramatorsk direction, it carried out shelling from artillery and MLRS near Siversk, Hryhorivka, Verkhnyokamyanske and Ivano-Daryivka. [Yesterday, shelling from artillery and MLRS was carried out in the areas of Kramatorsk, Rozdolivka, Spirne, Zvanivka and Raigorodok. Conducted an airstrike near Ivano-Daryivka.]
    • [Yesterday, the invaders tried to launch an offensive in the direction of Spirne – Ivano-Daryivka and Mykolaivka – Vyimka, without success.]
    • It led an offensive in the direction of Berestove – Ivano-Daryivka but was unsuccessful.
  • In the Bakhmut direction, it shelled the positions of our troops from tanks, barrel artillery and MLRS in the areas of the settlements of Soledar, Yakovlivka, Zaytseve, Shumy and Zalizne. Airstrikes near Zaitsevo, Bakhmut and Soledar. [Yesterday, shelling from tanks, barrel artillery and multiple rocket launchers was recorded near Mayorsk, Vesela Dolyna, Bakhmut, Kodema and Bilohorivka. In addition, Russian forces carried out airstrikes in the areas of the last three settlements.]
    • [With offensive and assault actions, the occupiers yesterday tried to improve the tactical position in the directions of Stryapivka – Soledar, Pokrovske – Bakhmutske, Pokrovske – Bakhmut, Vershyna – Zaitseve, Vershyna – Kodema, Travneve – Zaitseve, Travneve – Kodema, Semyhirya – Zaytseve, Hladosove – Kodema, without success, received a harsh rebuff.]
    • It led offensive battles in the directions Pokrovske – Bakhmutske and Semihirya – Zaitseve, which were unsuccessful and retreated. Fighting continues in the direction of Zalizna Balka – New York and Novoselivka – New York.
  • In the Avdiyivka direction, shelling was recorded in Maryinka, Vodyane, Oleksandropil and Pisky districts. The occupiers carried out airstrikes near Avdiyivka, Novobakhmutivka, Maryinka, Vodyane and Krasnohorivka. Conducted aerial reconnaissance by UAVs in the areas of Pokrovsk, Krasnohorivka, Vesele and Opytne settlements. [Yeterday, Russian forces fired from tanks and artillery of various types near Avdiivka, Kurakhove, Krasnohorivka, Sukha Balka, and Nevelske. Carried out airstrikes near Vodane and Maryinka.]
    • [Yesterday, they conducted unsuccessful offensive battles in the directions Horlivka – Mayorsk, Spartak – Opytne, Donetsk – Pisky, Staromykhailivka – Pervomaiske.]
    • Enemy units are conducting assault operations in the directions Pisky – Nevelske, Lozove – Nevelske and Staromykhailivka – Maryinka, combat operations are ongoing.
  • In the Novopavlovsk direction, Russian forces fired artillery near Shevchenko, Velyka Novosilka, Prechystivka, and Vremivka. Used aviation near Novomykhailivka and Pavlivka. [Yesteray, Russian forces shelled the areas of Pavlivka, Elizavetivka, Novosilka, Vuhledar and Novomykhailivka settlements.]
    • [Led an offensive battle in the direction of Blahodatne – Zolota Nyva, was unsuccessful, withdrew.]
  • [In the Zaporizhzhia direction, Russian forces are trying to prevent the advance of units of the Defence Forces.] They carried out shelling from barrel, rocket artillery and tanks in the areas of the settlements of Neskuchne, Zaliznychne, Malynivka, Mala Tokmachka, Poltavka, Novosilka, Dorozhnyanka, Orihiv, Mali Shcherbaky, Chervone and Novodanylivka. It carried out airstrikes in the areas of Hulyaipole, Olhivske and Chervone. Conducted aerial reconnaissance using the Orlan-10 UAV in the Zaporizhzhia oblast. [Yesterday, they fired tanks, barrel artillery and MLRS in the areas of the settlements of Velikomykhailivka, Shevchenko, Hulyaipilske, Shevchenkivske, Novoandriivka, Novopil, Olhivske, Shcherbaky, Burlatske and Stepove. Enemy aviation operated in the areas of Bilohirya, Zaliznychne, Mali Shcherbaky and Mala Tokmachka.]

In the Pivdenny Buh direction, Russian forces are concentrating their main efforts on holding the occupied areas and restraining the actions of the Defence Forces. It is trying to improve the tactical position in the Mykolayiv direction.] Russian forces fired from tanks, artillery and MLRS in the areas of Stepova Dolyna, Lymany and 15 more settlements. Carried out airstrikes near Olhany, Zarichne, Novohryhorivka, Bila Krynytsia, Tavriyske, Lozove, and Andriivka. Conducted aerial reconnaissance of the UAVs. [

  • [Yesterday, they carried out shelling from tanks and various calibre artillery near Mykolaiv, Ukrainka, Oleksandrivka and fifteen other settlements. Conducted an airstrike near Olhany. Conducts an offensive battle in the direction of Vasylka – Blahodatne.]
  • In the Mykolaiv direction, it is conducting an offensive battle in the direction of Vasylki – Blahodatne, has partial success, has occupied the southern outskirts of the settlement of Blahodatne, hostilities continue.

[In the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov, three enemy sea-based cruise missile carriers are ready to use high-precision weapons.”

Military Updates 

More explosions in Sevastopol: Russians claim it was Air Defence, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Crimean occupiers claimed the Air Defence system was activated in Sevastopol on Saturday evening.

Anti-aircraft defence systems were [also] activated in the village of Olenivka in the west of the occupied Crimea on Saturday evening.”

Russian forces claim soldiers have been poisoned in an act of Ukraine’s “chemical terrorism”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Russian state-owned propaganda outlet TASS. “The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the Russian soldiers who took part in hostilities in Zaporizhzhia Oblast were “hospitalised with symptoms of severe poisoning. It also claimed that “Zelenskyy’s regime” has allegedly “authorised terrorist attacks against Russian soldiers involving poisonous chemicals”.

A type B botulinum toxin has allegedly been used to poison Russian occupying forces in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Russian military medics have confirmed the presence of artificially derived poison in the bodies of those hospitalised [with poisoning symptoms – ed.]. Russia is threatening to send unspecified “evidence of the chemical terrorism act carried out by the Kyiv regime” to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

Ukrainian hackers hack Crimean TV, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Strategic Communications Department (StratCom) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “Ukrainian hackers have hacked the TV shown in Russian-occupied Crimea, broadcasting an address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Let each of the Russian officials who seized precious land in Crimea remember that this is not a land where they will have peace, Zelenskyy says in the video.”

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

  • Since the start of the invasion Igor Girkin, a Russian hard-liner and formerly an FSB officer and minister in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, has become an increasingly outspoken critic of the Kremlin’s handling of the war in Ukraine.
  • On 19 Aug 2022, Girkin posted a grudgingly admiring critique of President Zelenskyy’s conduct during the war. He contrasted this with Russia’s situation where ‘at the end of the sixth month of the war as before [we] play tank biathlons and hold festivals of military bands’.
  • The tank biathlon is the high-profile culminating event of Russia’s International Army Games which, as in normal years, took place near Moscow last week. A significant proportion of Russia’s military and security professionals probably believe that it is inappropriate to continue committing forces to peace-time military ceremonial events while Russian troops continue to suffer heavy casualties in Ukraine.
  • The last week has seen only minimal changes in territorial control along the front line, In the Donbas, after small advances from early August, Russian forces have approached the outskirts of the town of Bakhmut but have not yet broken into the built-up area. Russia has not made any major efforts to advance in the Zaporizhzhia or Kharkiv sectors.
  • In the south-west, neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces have made advances on the Kherson front line. However, increasingly frequent explosions behind Russian lines are probably stressing Russian logistics and air basing in the south.
  • It is unlikely that the situation will significantly change in the next week. Russian forces are, for now, probably only prepared to undertake limited local assaults, rarely involving more than a company of troops. However, over the coming months the initiative will go to whichever side manages to generate a credible, committed force for offensive operations.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Sunday 21 August, 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 45200 (+300),
  • Tanks – 1912 (+5),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 4224 (+12),
  • Artillery systems – 1028 (+10),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 266 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 141 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 234 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 197 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3143 (+6),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 806 (+3),
  • Special equipment – 99 (+2),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 190 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Donetsk and Mykolaiv directions.

Russian paratroopers refuse to go to fight in Ukraine, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “Due to the mass refusal of paratrooper officers to participate in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine, the command of the Russian airborne troops decided to appoint contract officers without officer ranks and experience of participating in hostilities to officer positions.

After the massive losses suffered by the Russian paratroopers as a result of combat clashes with the defenders of Ukraine, the command of the airborne troops is trying to restore their morale and psychological state and combat capability. The main attention is given to units where more than 60 per cent of the personnel were destroyed and units where the personnel are demoralized and refuse to continue their service.

The biggest problem for the occupiers is the mass refusal to participate in the war by the command staff of the airborne units. Even personnel on contract, who were urgently assigned officer ranks, refuse to go to positions from platoon commander to battalion commander, with subsequent departure to Ukraine.”

Humanitarian 

Grain deal’s first 20 days: 27 ships leave and 18 ships enter Ukrainian ports, Ukrainska Pravda reports citing Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine and European Pravda. “In the first 20 days of the operation of the so-called “grain corridor”, 27 ships left Ukrainian ports carrying a total of 670,000 tonnes of agricultural exports.

Eighteen bulk carriers have arrived at Ukrainian ports for loading. Another 40 applications to enter Ukrainian ports are currently under consideration.”

Guterres says U.N. working with US and EU to get Russian food to markets, Reuters reports. “U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday the United Nations is working with the United States and European Union to overcome obstacles to Russian food and fertilisers reaching world markets. “The other part of [the U.N.-brokered deal agreed in Turkey last month] is the unimpeded access to the global markets of Russian food and fertiliser, which are not subject to sanctions, Guterres said in Istanbul, where he visited a coordination centre overseeing the exports.

He said those countries that imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine had made clear that the measures did not apply to food and fertilisers, but added there had nevertheless been a “chilling effect” on exports. There are a certain number of obstacles and difficulties that need to be overcome in relation to shipping… to insurance and… finance, Guterres told a news conference alongside Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.”

️️Environmental 

Why inspectors haven’t yet visited the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, The New York Times asks? With anxiety mounting about the dangers to Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, which is occupied by the invading Russian Army, there finally seems to be some movement to get international inspectors into the facility to verify its safe operation.

In a conversation late Friday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia told his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, that Russia “had reconsidered” its insistence that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency first travel through Russian territory to reach the Zaporizhzhia plant, according to the French presidency.

The Russian presidency was less explicit, stating that “both leaders noted the importance of sending an I.A.E.A. mission to the power plant as soon as possible” and that Russia had “confirmed its readiness to provide the necessary assistance to the agency’s inspectors.”

The two presidents will speak again about such a mission “in the next few days following discussions between the technical teams and before the deployment of the mission,” the French said.

The I.A.E.A. — the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and monitoring agency — has met with several obstacles in its discussions with Russia and Ukraine to get into the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest, since at least June.

Ukraine objected to the idea that the inspectors would enter through Russian-occupied territory, an option that would seem to underscore Russian control of the plant, which provides at least a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity. The United Nations had significant security concerns about having inspectors travel through the front lines of this bitter war, with so much shelling. […]

When António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, visited Ukraine this past week [… he] warned Russia not to disconnect the facility from the Ukrainian grid, as Kyiv says Russia intends to do, in order to switch the supply into the Russian grid. Such a move could interrupt the vital cooling of the reactors and cut electricity to millions of Ukrainians.

Western officials consider the main danger of a nuclear accident coming less from a shell hitting one of the containment buildings around the six light-water nuclear reactors, which are constructed to withstand a 9/11-like impact of an airliner, than from an interruption in electricity. Should that happen, and should the plant’s generators fail or be damaged, then a meltdown could occur.

The main concern in that respect, a senior Western official said on Friday, would be if the plant suffered a loss of cooling due to the loss of backup electricity, should Russia take it off the Ukrainian grid and should backup generators fail. […]

On Friday, the I.A.E.A.’s director general, Rafael M. Grossi, “welcomed recent statements indicating that both Ukraine and Russia supported the I.A.E.A.’s aim to send a mission” to Zaporizhzhia. The Russian ambassador to the agency has suggested that such a mission could take place in early September. But even if inspectors can verify the safety of the plant at the time, the dangers will inevitably persist as the artillery war continues.”

The “weekend” for Ukrainian personnel was extended at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power (ZNPP), the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) reports. “Representatives of the occupation leadership at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant extended the “short-term weekend” for Ukrainian personnel. Unlike the previous order, it now also applies to operatives on duty. At the same time, the duration of the “weekend” is not specified. Instead, a part of the representatives of “Rosatom” was returned to the station. Also, a contingent of occupying troops and a large amount of weapons and ammunition remain at the ZANP.

These measures may indicate the intention of the occupiers to disconnect the station from Ukrainian power grids and power supply – the so-called “zeroing”. In this case, the station will remain without power for a certain period of time. Emergency power supply will be provided at the expense of diesel substations. This creates a potential danger, as the probability of critical situations increases, which seems to be the main goal of the deliberate actions of the Russian occupiers at the Ukrainian nuclear facility.”

Nord Stream 1 pipeline to shut for three days in latest fuel blow to Europe, Reuters reports. “Russia will halt natural gas supplies to Europe for three days at the end of the month via its main pipeline into the region, state energy giant Gazprom said on Friday, piling pressure on the region as it seeks to refuel ahead of winter. The unscheduled maintenance on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, deepens an energy standoff between Moscow and Brussels which has already helped send inflation surging in the region and raised the risk of rationing and recession.

The shutdown, to run from Aug. 31-Sept. 2, follows a 10-day maintenance curtailment in July, and raised fears over whether Russia would resume supplies, which have been reduced since mid-June. Ukraine’s gas transmission system operator said it and the Polish gas pipeline system have the capacity to compensate for the Nord Stream halt and allow Russian gas to reach Europe.

The broader German economic impact was highlighted in producer price data on Friday, which in July saw their highest ever increases, both year-on-year and month-on-month, as energy costs skyrocket. Before Gazprom announced the shutdown, gas prices in Europe remained close to five-month highs, while US gas prices reversed course and settled up 1.2% following the news.

Germany has made targeted efforts to fill up its storage facilities to prepare for winter with levels standing at 78% as of Aug. 17, slightly more than the about 76% for the European Union as a whole.

After maintenance is complete, and “in the absence of technical malfunctions,” flows of 33 million cubic metres (mcm) a day – in line with current volumes – will resume, Gazprom said. The restart volume would be just 20% of Nord Stream’s full capacity of 167 mcm daily.”

Legal 

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 179: Will the West respond with applying NATO’s Article 5 to an accident at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant? ~~

373 children were killed, 721 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of August 21. 2,328 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 289 of them are destroyed fully. 29,492 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 13,779 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

Germany Will Give Ukraine Vulcano High-precision Projectiles, Defence Express reports.”The planned military aid for Ukraine includes 255 155mm Vulcano projectiles,” a report on the government’s website says. As to the manufacturer, Vulcano artillery shells can strike targets as far as 50 or 70 kilometres away, deepening on modification, with 5-meter accuracy. In the GLR version, it also has a programmable fuse, which increases the efficiency of fire.

In the case of the Vulcano GLR, Ukraine will receive another type of precision artillery ammunition after the German SMArt anti-tank, the Swedish-French BONUS anti-tank (there is currently no final confirmation of their use) and the American high-precision Excalibur ammunition, which uses an INS/GPS system similar to the Vulcano GLR.

The recent update to the list of German military aid includes 20 rocket launchers 70mm on pick-up trucks with 2,000 rockets and laser target designators; 1,592 projectiles 155mm; 255 Vulcano projectiles 155mm; 60.200 rounds of ammunition 40mm; 40 frequency range extensions for anti-drone devices; and 12 armoured recovery vehicles and 30 MG3 machine guns for them.

Furthermore, Berlin has provided three additional Gepard mobile anti-air defence systems (15 total), 11 Danish M113 armoured personnel carriers (44 total), and 1,000 MREs (403,000 total).”

The latest US aid package to Ukraine includes surveillance drones, official says, Reuters reports. “President Joe Biden’s latest security assistance package for Ukraine includes surveillance drones and for the first time mine-resistant vehicles, a senior US defence official said on Friday. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the package would be valued at $775 million and also include additional ammunition and 16 105mm Howitzer systems.

The package would include 15 Scan Eagle surveillance drones, 40 MaxxPro MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected vehicles) and about 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles. This would bring the total US military aid sent to Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion by Russia to $10.6 billion.”

‘Seek and destroy’: New US aid to Ukraine targets Russian artillery and radars, Defence News reports.  “A new $775 million military aid package for Ukraine marks the first time the US is sending ScanEagle drones, for targeting artillery.

The latest package of US aid to Ukraine also includes the AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile, which will allow Ukrainian forces to target Russian radars in the artillery-focused war. The disclosure marks the first time the Pentagon has discussed its provision of high-speed anti-radiation missiles to Ukraine in detail.

“Ukraine has successfully employed these missiles. They have successfully integrated them onto Ukrainian aircraft. And this enables Ukraine to seek and destroy Russian radars,” a senior defence official told reporters. The Pentagon provided the official for comment on the condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon is sending 15 ScanEagles ― a small, long-endurance, low-altitude drone made by Insitu and used for reconnaissance, which is intended to help guide targeting for Ukrainian artillery.”

An “army of drones”: Ukraine receives 100 large “birds”, and soon there will be 200, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister of Digital Transformation, in an interview with Ukrinform. “The front line is now almost 2,500 km long. There is also the depth of the front, which we have conditionally divided into four levels. The first line is up to 3 km, and the second, third and fourth are 60, 70 and 120 km respectively.

So, for a 3-km zone, we need up to 10,000 drones. These are small ‘birds’ that can be used in everyday life. They are necessary for urban warfare and short-distance reconnaissance.

The other lines require large drones that can fly over long distances. We have already contracted more than 200 such drones. That’s roughly the number required for our military to be able to perform tactical tasks on the front line. They are starting to arrive gradually — about 100 units are already in Ukraine. I think we will have all the contracted drones by late October or early November.”

The US should start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F15s, F16s – Special Advisor to CinC Zaluzhnyi, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine needs US-made F-15 and F-16 fighter jets in the ongoing war against Russia, but even before a decision is made on their supply, the US should train Ukrainian pilots to fly them. That’s according to Dan Rice, a US army veteran now serving as a special advisor to the Ukrainian Army Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, who spoke with CNN, Ukrinform reports.

A CNN journalist asked Rice if the Ukrainian top commander believes the country will receive fighter jets from the US, given that the Ukrainian pilots are already undergoing training on A10 jet simulators.

“I can’t speak for what he believes on that particular topic but I’ve spoken with a number of people within the US I think what we want to provide them, what Congress is discussing – in the House it has already passed, now it needs to go to the Senate when they come out of recess – is the F-16s and F-15s coming out of mothballs,” the special advisor said.

Dan Rice added that these aircraft “are better for this environment than an A10” as the latter is a relatively small warplane. Given Russia’s extensive air defence systems, you need Mach 2.5 airplanes like F16s and F15s. Rice believes that the US must start training Ukrainian pilots on its soil.”

Czech Republic supports the idea for the EU to suspend visa issues for Russians, Ukrinform reports, citing Radio Prague International. “The Senate Committee on Foreign Policy, Defence and Security and the Foreign Policy Committee of the Parliament of the Czech Republic supported the idea of ​​suspending the issuance of visas by the EU member states to all Russian nationals. This topic will be discussed by EU ministers at a meeting in Prague in late August.

Pavel Fischer, head of foreign policy, defence and security, spoke in favour of visa restrictions for Russians. Requesting a visa and getting the opportunity to travel to the countries of the Schengen Agreement is a privilege for citizens of Russia – a country that engages in military aggression and nuclear terrorism at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, he said. It is a shame how much money Russians, whose property may have criminal origins, spend on luxury goods in Berlin and Paris. According to the official, he also considers it “shameful” that some EU countries still offer large investors from Russia to obtain citizenship or residence rights.”

New Developments 

  1. The West considers applying NATO’s Article 5 in response to a possible accident at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the Defence Select Committee at the House of Commons of the UK Parliament, has stated that if the Russians orchestrate a deliberate accident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with radiation outflow, it must be treated as an attack on NATO states. His stance was backed by Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House of Representatives of the US Congress from Illinois.
  2. Russia trying to circumvent Western sanctions, using Turkey, UkrinformUS Treasury is concerned about Russian individuals and entities attempting to use Türkiye to dodge sanctions, imposed by the US and 30 other countries. That’s according to a readout of US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo’s meeting with Türkiye’s Yunus Elitas, released by the press service of the Department of Treasury.”
  3. Ukrainian MFA Called on Austria to Expel Russian a Diplomat for “The Elimination of the Ukrainian Nation”, European PravdaRussia’s Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov is calling for the elimination of the Ukrainian nation. This genocidal language must not be tolerated. We call on the entire diplomatic community in Vienna to boycott Ulyanov, and on the host country, Austria – to declare him persona non grata, wrote Oleg Nikolenko, Ukraine’s MFA spokesman, on Twitter.”
  4. Russian Defence Minister says the idea to ban Russians from EU entry is rooted in nazism, Ukrainska PravdaToday we can see another striking manifestation of the nazi politics when European politicians actively advocate the Russophobe ban on entry to the European Union for all Russian citizens. Shoigu said that the Baltic states, in particular, are increasingly ignoring the fundamental principles of the world order and the legal and political assessment of the Nuremberg trials.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

Map https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-20*

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 20 August, 2022:

Russian occupation officials in Crimea reported another drone attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet Headquarters in Sevastopol on August 20. Russian-appointed Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev claimed that Russian forces were unable to shoot down a drone, resulting in the drone hitting the roof of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters. Razvozhaev then retracted his initial statement and claimed that a fleet air defence post shot down the drone, which landed on the roof and caught fire. Social media footage showed a loud explosion and a cloud of smoke around the headquarters, and the drone likely detonated rather than being shot down.  Some OSINT accounts have identified the drone as a commercially-available “Skyeye 5000mm Pro UAV.” Ukrainian officials did not claim responsibility for the attack as of the time of this publication. ISW has previously reported that Crimean occupation officials have obliquely accused Ukraine of orchestrating a drone attack on the headquarters on July 31 during Russia’s Navy Day.

Russian occupation officials in Crimea are likely considering strengthening security on the peninsula following the attacks on Russian military infrastructure, and such measures may draw Russian security forces away from the front lines. Razvozhaev stated that all security services in Sevastopol are operating in “high alert” mode and controlling all entrances to the city. Razvozhaev claimed that Sevastopol residents are asking the occupation administration to increase patrols in the city and establish new checkpoints, returning the peninsula to a security posture such as it had after Russia initially seized it in 2014. ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces have been using all types of security forces, including Rosgvardia, as combat forces and will likely need to divert some of these forces from the front lines and from occupation security duties elsewhere to defend occupied Crimea. Russia’s continued failures to stop attacks against occupied Crimea may also spark public discontent within Russian society. One Russian milblogger criticized Russian forces for not using more electronic warfare (EW) equipment following the first drone attack on July 31. Social media footage already shows many Russians waiting in traffic jams to leave Crimea and go to Russia, which may indicate growing public concern for the effectiveness of Russian security measures.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian occupation officials in Crimea reported another drone attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet Headquarters in Sevastopol and are likely considering strengthening security on the peninsula.
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults across the Eastern Axis.
  • Russian forces attempted limited, failed assaults north of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian forces failed to advance after several assaults northwest of Kherson City and east of Mykolaiv City.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian ammunition depots and positions in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.
  • Russian and proxy forces are continuing mobilization efforts, including forced mobilization in occupied territories and advertising campaigns.
  • Russian occupation authorities continued coercive measures to force civilian cooperation with the occupation administrations.
  • Conditions in occupied territories continued to deteriorate, indicating ineffective governance.

Zelenskyy: Russia might do something particularly violent next week, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “We have to be aware that this [coming] week, Russia might try to do something particularly terrible, particularly violent. That’s the opponent that we have. But Russia has been doing this every week over these last six months – doing terrible and violent things.”

President Zelenskyy recalled that Ukraine would celebrate its Independence Day and National Flag Day next week. The Crimean Platform summit is also expected to take place next week.”

2. Consequences and what to do? 

As Attacks Mount in Crimea, Kremlin Faces Rising Domestic Pressures, The New York Times reports. “Nearly six months into the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin still refers to its invasion as a “special military operation” while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy at home. But a series of Ukrainian attacks in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that President Vladimir V. Putin illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, is puncturing that narrative.

And as Ukrainian attacks mount in the strategically and symbolically important territory, the damage is beginning to put domestic political pressure on the Kremlin, with criticism and debate about the war increasingly being unleashed on social media and underscoring that even what the Russian government considers to be Russian territory is not safe.

On Saturday, a drone slammed into the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, sending a plume of smoke over the port city of Sevastopol. Separately, in western Crimea, Russian troops launched antiaircraft fire at unidentified targets, the region’s Russian governor said.

Local Russian officials blamed the drone attack on Ukraine and urged residents and beachgoers not to panic, while insisting there had been no injuries and that Russian air defenses were functioning properly. […]

People are beginning to feel that the war is coming to them,” Andrei Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research organization close to the Russian government, said in a phone interview. “I think this is serious.”

Ukraine has been engaged in a campaign to target Russian forces on the Crimean peninsula. The attacks in Crimea appear to have begun in earnest on Aug. 9 with a strike on the Saki air base in which eight fighter jets were destroyed. One can literally feel in the air of Crimea that the occupation there is temporary, and Ukraine is returning, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Saturday in his nightly address to the nation.

Mr. Kortunov said the Kremlin is likely to view the Ukrainian attacks not as a military threat but as “irritating,” showing Ukraine’s ability to threaten Russian lives deep behind the front lines. But it remained unclear how — or if — Mr. Putin would respond to the attacks, even as pro-Kremlin commentators called for retaliatory strikes.

Russia continues to retain military superiority, and the recent strikes in Crimea haven’t resulted in territorial gains for Ukraine. But they nevertheless appear to have dealt a psychological blow to Russia, undercutting the previous perception of Russian invincibility in a peninsula that exerts a strong hold on the Russian psyche. Crimea is more than a pivotal military base. A sun-splashed resort and staging ground for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Crimea has particular symbolic resonance for Mr. Putin, who has called it Russia’s “holy land.”

Crimea is where czars and Politburo chairmen kept vacation homes. As home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, it also helps Russia exert control over the sea, including a naval blockade that has crippled Ukraine’s economy.

On the social network Telegram, one of Russia’s best-known state television hosts, Vladimir Solovyov, shared a post describing the attacks in Crimea and in Russian regions near the Ukrainian border as “some kind of surrealism.” Are we fighting or what are we doing? the post by a pro-Kremlin military blogger asked. […]

While the military impact of the attacks may be minimal, there are mounting signs that local people are becoming unsettled by them, prompting officials to issue soothing reassurances about their safety. […]

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. August 20, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. August 20, 2022. Source: ISW.

The disarray in Crimea comes as Russia’s war effort appears stalled on multiple fronts. Fighting in Kherson, in the south, and the Donbas region, in the east, has largely ground to a standstill. A Russian offensive to seize Donetsk Province, part of the Donbas, has temporarily halted — partly, American officials said, because Moscow rushed several thousand troops to the south to counter the anticipated Ukrainian offensive there. […].

Hans Petter Midttun:

“The flow of new international support for Ukraine has dried up in July. No large EU country like Germany, France or Italy, has made significant new pledges”, The Kiel Institute for the World Economy reported recently.

That does not mean support is not forthcoming. It means that there are no significant deliveries in the pipeline. 8,5 years into the war – and nearly 6 months into the full-scale invasion, this should not come as a surprise.

I have long argued that Western humanitarian intervention in Ukraine is inevitable. Despite the US and NATO’s continued declarations that they will not deploy military forces to help defend Ukraine, it is bound to happen.

Why?

There are several reasons why this will happen, one of which is directly linked to the supply of weapons.

During the lead-up to the invasion and its first phase, the West provided Ukraine with shoulder-carried anti-armour and air defence means. The weapons, delivered in vast quantity helped stop the initial assault on Kyiv.

In April, President Biden twitted that the United States alone had provided 10 anti-armour systems for every Russian tank that was in Ukraine. By July, however, Ukraine was going through these stockpiles faster than they could be replenished. Lockheed Martin produces about 2,100 Javelin missiles a year. Ukraine, however, was at the time using about 500 a day. A promise to double production to 4,000 will, therefore, not going to make a huge difference.

Several countries are running extremely low on their stocks of short-range weapons after supplying most of or all they had in inventory to Ukraine. “We are on the brink of taking risks, [Kusti Salm, secretary general of the Estonian Defense Ministry], said. “Very heavy risks of our own national security tapping into some of our reserves. … And I know that there are other allies doing the same. So the only solution is rapidly ramping up the manufacturing power, and making sure the policy framework and policy financing signal support for this. […] Many of those countries also have been supplying Ukraine with NATO-compatible heavy weapons from their own stocks. […]”

As Russia was forced to change its short-term operational objectives and refocus its efforts on eastern Ukraine, Ukraine’s needs for support changed accordingly. It needed long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers to both contests Russia’s artillery and MLRS superiority, as well as replace losses. During the first 3-4 months, Ukrainian brigades lost 30-50% of their heavy equipment and were slowly running out of ammunition for its soviet legacy artillery.

Initially, the NATO members delivered systems the Ukrainian Armed Forces already knew by heart, like Soviet artillery, main battle tanks and helicopter. As the West started to run out of these, it started delivering systems that required minimum training.

Six months into the war, however, the West is “running out” of these systems as well. While they still have heavy weapons systems in stock, they are slowly running out of the will to provide them.

There are several reasons behind the reluctance. Firstly, the effect of not fulfilling the 2% NATO target for decades has resulted in small force structures across Europe. The numbers of weapons available are limited. Secondly, as a consequence of two decades of international operations and “peace in our times” ammunition depots are restricted to peacetime requirements for sustainability (weeks rather than months). Several countries have nearly emptied their stocks of some of the short-range weapons and ammunition supplied to Ukraine. Countries are taking huge strategic risks to help Ukraine in its fight for Euro-Atlantic security. Thirdly, seeing the weapons being depleted without any prospects of resupply, countries have grown increasingly aware that they are reducing their ability to deter a potential aggressor. As previously stressed, the Russian war against Ukraine is in reality a part of its much broader confrontation with the West.

Neither the US nor the European defence industry is in the position of quickly ramping up their production. More than 20 years of downsizing of the armed forces in Europe has had severe consequences for the defence industries. It will need years to both increases the production capability as well as refocus its production line to the new security environment. NATO is no longer facing non-state actors or countries with limited military capabilities but a country with great power ambitions and the world’s biggest arsenal of nuclear arms.

This is one of the reasons why – in my humble opinion – why a Western humanitarian intervention in Ukraine is inevitable.

We are running out of weapons Ukraine can use with no or limited training. The options left for us are either to see Ukraine fail or to provide it with both the weapons and the personnel needed to operate them efficiently.

The reality is that the West is fast reaching a long-predicted milestone. In the same manner, as logistics forced Russia to adjust its initial operational objectives for the invasion, logistics are about to force the Alliance to change its strategy. NATO will need to start acting according to NATO’s strategic concept 1999-2022: Stop ongoing conflicts threatening the security of its member states.

Yesterday, it was 8,5 years since the war started on 20 February 2014. On Wednesday, the full-scale invasion has been lasting for 6 months.

The war didn’t start on 24 February 2022. It only entered a new phase. It’s been the same war, same aggressor and the same strategic aim and objectives since 2014.

It will continue to evolve in the time to come unless we finally decide to join Ukraine in its efforts to defend Euro-Atlantic security. It’s time to end the war. It’s high time we provide Ukraine with the tools it needs to defeat Russia. Those tools will include “boots on the ground”.

The war didn’t start on 24 February 2022. It marks the time we finally started to help Ukraine build deterrence. Eight years too late to stop the Russian invasion. It is high time we provide the support that is needed before it’s too late. Close the sky. Break the embargo. Evict the Russians. Liberate all of Ukraine.

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