Russo Ukrainian War. Day 198: Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate over 1,000 sq km of Ukraine’s territory in September

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukrainian forces liberated more than 1,000 sq km of Ukraine’s territory since the beginning of September and more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv region. Ukraine army takes control of Balakliya. In Kherson Oblast, Ukrainian brigades continue to conduct offensive operations. Pro-Ukrainian leaflets, yellow ribbons appear in Crimea cities. Based on the last estimates, damage caused to Ukraine’s infrastructure during the war is $114.5 bln. Blinken visits Ukraine and says the US to support Ukraine as long as it takes to restore sovereignty. Pentagon announces weapons included in new security assistance package for Ukraine.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, September 9, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below. 

Situation in Ukraine. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

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“Russian forces concentrated their efforts on establishing full control over the territory of Donetsk oblast, maintaining the temporarily captured districts of Kherson, part of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv oblasts. The UAVs constantly conduct aerial reconnaissance and continue to take measures to improve the logistical support of their troops.

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have carried out 45 air and 5 missile strikes, in particular on the settlements of Kostyantynivka, Tsyrkuny, Radushne, and Kharkiv. There are victims among the civilian population.

[On Thursday, Russian forces inflicted 4 rocket strikes on the settlements of Kostyantynivka, Tsyrkuny, Bereznehuvate and Kharkiv, there are victims among the civilian population; 15 airstrikes on military and civilian objects in the districts of Temyrivka, Krasnohorivka, Volodymyrivka and Novomykhailivka. The occupiers launched more than 10 attacks from the Hrad and Uragan multiple rocket systems on the settlements of Serebryanka, Platonivka, and Tavriyske.]

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, on the territory of Belarus, military exercises have begun, during which it is planned to work out the issue of “liberation of captured territories”. The threat of missile and air strikes on the territory of Ukraine from the Republic of Belarus remains.

In the Siversky direction, the intensity of shelling by Russian forces has significantly decreased. In other directions. [Yesterday, they shelled the areas of the settlements of Senkivka of Chernihiv oblast and Myropilske, Velikiy Prykil and Prohody of Sumy oblast.]

Russian forces continued to attack military and civilian objects of Ukraine, namely:

Kharkiv Battle Map. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Kharkiv direction, from artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Udy, Sosnivka, Duvanka, Tsupivka, Prudyanka, Dementiivka, Velyki Prohody, Pytomnyk, Ruski Tyshky, Petrivka, Peremoha, Bayrak and Kostiantynivka;
Donetsk Battle Map. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • In the Sloviansk direction – near Dolyna, Krasnopilla, Sloviansk and Mykilske;
  • In the Kramatorsk direction – in the areas of the settlements of Bohorodychne, Novomykolayivka, Serebryanka, Siversk, Verkhnyokamianske, Ivano-Daryivka, Spirne, Rozdolivka and Hryhorivka;
  • in the Bakhmut direction – near Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Vesela Dolyna, Zaytseve, New York and Vesele;
  • in the Avdiyivka direction – in Kamianka, Avdiyivka, Pervomaiske, Vodyane and Opytne districts;
  • in the Novopavlivskyi direction – near Maryinka, Paraskoviivka, Novomykhailivka, Velyka Novosilka, Novoukrainka, Prechystivka and Mykilske;
  • in the Zaporizhzhia region – in the areas of the settlements of Novopil, Vremivka, Poltavka, Zaliznychne, Chervone, Novoandriivka and Orihiv;
  • In the Pivdenny Buh direction, in the areas of Arkhangelske, Novovoznesensk, Myrolyubivka, Novovoskresenske, Bilohirka, Novohrihorivka, Shevchenkove, Lyubomyrivka, Ternovi Pody, Stepova Dolyna, Myrne, Olhyne, Oleksandrivka and Tavriyske settlements.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

In connection with the Ukrainian offensive in the Kherson oblast, units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation are switching to tactics of terrorist actions against local civilians. Thus, according to available information, in the settlement of Velyka Oleksandrivka, the occupiers are using the local population as a “human shield”. The village is closed for entry and exit.

Units of the Defense Forces heroically hold their positions and prevent Russian forces from advancing. Our defenders successfully repelled Russian offensives in the areas of Udy, Kostyantynivka, Virnopillya, Ploske, Mayorsk, Bezimenne and Kamyanka. [Yesterday, the Ukrainian military successfully repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Kostyantynivka, Dovgenke, Dibrivne, Hryhorivka, Soledar, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, Maryinka and Kamianka settlements.]

Defence forces are conducting a successful counteroffensive in the Kharkiv direction. Thanks to skilful and coordinated actions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with the support of the local population, advanced almost 50 km in 3 days. According to intelligence, some enemy units suffered significant losses. The occupiers are trying to evacuate wounded personnel and damaged military equipment to the areas of Vilkhuvatka and Borodoyarske settlements. Personnel of the occupying forces in civilian clothes resort to desertion and try to return to the territory of the Russian Federation. So, during the day, more than 15 such cases were noted.

Missile troops and artillery of our land groupings continue to perform tasks of counter-battery combat, disruption of the command and control system and logistical support, and damage to Russian manpower and combat equipment.

During the past day, to support the actions of land groupings, the Ukrainian Air Force carried out more than 20 strikes, 2 platoon strongholds, 15 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment, and 3 anti-aircraft missile systems were hit. 4 UAVs and a Ka-52 helicopter were destroyed. Enemy manpower losses are clarified.

[As a result of the successful actions of the partisan movement, in cooperation with the artillery of the Defense Forces, Russian forces units have significant problems with logistical support in the temporarily captured territories of the Kherson region.]

[In order to counter the leakage of information about the movement of occupation units at the railway station of the settlement of Sokolohirne, the armed forces of the Russian federation have strengthened filtering measures.]

[In the temporarily captured territories of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts, in preparation for the so-called “referendums”, the occupiers are calling on local residents who have left the temporarily captured territory to return to their homes by October 1. In case of refusal, the Russian invaders threaten to “nationalize” the housing.]

[In the occupied part of the Chuguyiv district of the Kharkiv region, Russian forces began active measures to forcibly mobilize the local population. Men of conscription age are detained and sent to Vovchansk, to the so-called “recruitment centre”.]”

Military Updates 

Ukrainian forces liberate more than 20 settlements in Kharkiv region – General Staff, Ukrinform reports, citing Oleksiy Hromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the Ukrainian General Staff. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv region. Overall, more than 700 square kilometres have been liberated from Russian invaders in the Kharkiv and Southern-Buh directions.

“Since the beginning of the week, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in cooperation with units of the National Guard and other security forces, have been conducting active operations in certain directions. At present, military units have wedged themselves into Russian defence to a depth of up to 50 km. Filtration operations are ongoing in some settlements. In the course of active operations in the Kharkiv direction, more than 20 settlements were liberated.

In the Kramatorsk direction, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine improved their tactical position and advanced to a depth of 2 kilometres.

In the course of offensive operations in the Sloviansk direction, units of the 103rd separate territorial defence brigade, together with units of the 15th regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine, advanced up to three kilometres deep and liberated the settlement of Ozerne, Hromov said.”

President: AFU has liberated more than 1,000 sq km of Ukraine’s territory since the beginning of September, Ukrinform reports. “In general, since the beginning of September, Ukrainian defenders have liberated more than 1,000 square kilometres of the territory of our country.”

Ukraine army takes control of Balakliya, Ukrinform reports. “President Volodymyr Zelensky published a video showing how the Ukrainian troops report on the execution of the order to liberate the town of Balakliya, Kharkiv region, from the Russian invaders. As reported, the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv region. In total, more than 700 sq km have been liberated from the Russian invaders in Kharkiv and Southern Buh directions.”

Pro-Ukrainian leaflets, yellow ribbons appear in Crimea cites, Ukrinform reports. “Activists of the “Yellow Ribbon” resistance movement are distributing pro-Ukrainian leaflets across the streets in a number of cities in the Russian-occupied Crimea. Feodosia, Yalta, Simferopol. Crimea is Ukraine, activists of the ‘Yellow Ribbon’ movement, despite all risks, continue to operate in the temporarily occupied Crimea, which is waiting so much to be freed from the yoke of ruscism! the posting reads.”

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

  • In Kherson Oblast, Ukrainian brigades continue to conduct offensive operations. Ukraine has probably destroyed a military pontoon bridge at Darivka, which Russian forces had deployed after the nearby road bridge was severely damaged.
  • The Darivka crossing is one of the main routes between the northern and southern sectors of Russa’s military presence along the Dnipro river. Ukraine’s systematic precision targeting of vulnerable crossing points likely continues to impose pressure on Russian forces as they attempt to contain Ukrainian attacks: it slows their ability to deploy operational reserves and resupply materiel from the east.
  • Over the last 24 hours, heavy fighting has taken place on three fronts: in the north, near Kharkiv; in the east in the Donbas; and in the south in Kherson Oblast. Russa’s planned main effort is probably an advance on Bakhmut in the Donbas, but commanders face a dilemma of whether to deploy operational reserves to support this offensive, or to defend against continued Ukrainian advances in the south.
  • Multiple concurrent threats spread across 500km will test Russa’s ability to coordinate operational design and reallocate resources across multiple groupings of forces.
  • Earlier in the war, Russa’s failure to do this was one of the underlying reasons for the military’s poor performance.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Friday 9 September, 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 51900 (+650),
  • Tanks – 2122 (+10),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 4575 (+18),
  • Artillery systems – 1237 (+11),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 305 (+5),
  • Air defence means – 159 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 239 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 211 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3399 (+55),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 888 (+4),
  • Special equipment – 114 (+4),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 214 (+0)

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

Russa has less than 200 Iskanders left, but thousands of missiles are more than 30 years old – Ukrainian Intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing (Un)Safe Country, the podcast of Ukrainska Pravda and the Centre for Defence Strategies. “They have a shortage of Iskanders, they have less than 200 left; this is a reality. Iskanders are now used very rarely. The last time, [it] was literally in August when they struck Kyiv from the territory of Belarus.

The number of missiles depends on what the Russian Federation is currently using. We counted the S-300 – these are missiles that have been in storage for more than 30 years, and most of them are 35-40 years old. This is essentially a missile that must be taken out of service from the combat formation. They modify it [to be able to use it in combat again]. There are about 7,000 of them. They are very easy to dispose of. Instead of spending money on recycling them, they will simply be fired on our territory. If you calculate how many [S-300s] they use [per day], it will appear they still have enough of these missiles for three years.

As for the Kalibr system, according to estimates, it could produce 150-180 missiles a year. And they are saving the stock that they still have because about 70% of the components are not produced in Russa.”

General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces explains why daily losses of the Russian army on the front have increased, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Conscious Ukrainians, no matter where they are, in occupied Crimea or the occupied territories of Kherson region, or Zaporizhzhia Oblast, or in Donetsk, Luhansk and other oblasts, conscious citizens effectively help our armed forces. It is no secret that thanks to them we have certain information concerning the location of the Russian occupying forces, Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Head of the Main Operational Directive of the Ukrainian General Staff said.

The population of Transnistria refuses to sign contracts with the Russian army, and there is mass desertion in the “operational group of troops”, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) reports. “The population of Transnistria refuses to sign contracts with the Russian army, and there is mass desertion in the “operational group of troops”. The local population refuses to join the Russian army, even with the promise of high cash payments, social packages, and likely housing. The main reason is the reluctance to participate in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. Especially since many “volunteers” who decided to sign the contract at the beginning of the war either died or are missing in action.

Also, against the background of the events in Ukraine, an increase in the number of desertion cases in the “operational group of Russian troops in Transnistria” is noted. […]. In addition, there is a mass dismissal from the service after the expiration of the contract.

Currently, the “operational group” has intensified the training of personnel. Taking into account the experience of hostilities in Ukraine, significant adjustments were made to the training program. In particular, the number of classes with units of rear support and military medical aid has been increased.

The occupiers support the “information blockade” of new arrivals and forcefully transfer the “mobilized” from the “DNR” to contracts, DIU reports. “Mobilized” personnel of the 1st army corps of the occupation army (mainly made up of residents of the “DNR”) are massively transferred to a military contract. At the same time, the military themselves did not give consent to the contract and learned about the change in status after the fact. They are also not provided with information about the amount of the future salary and the terms of accrual.

At the same time, on the occupied lands of the Kherson region, personnel who recently arrived for the war are kept on the front line. These soldiers do not have current information about the situation at the front. They do not know about the shelling of the Antonivsky Bridge and the HPP, because the phones have been taken away, and the command does not report such information. Soldiers and non-commissioned officers, as well as officers of the lower command level, were not informed about the destruction of warehouses and locations of Russian units in the last 3 weeks. The command does everything possible to ensure that the information isolation of the units is maintained as long as possible and that the personnel believe that “everything is going according to plan.”

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1567771055485231106

UK at UN: Russa trying to change the demographic makeup of Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “We are concerned, too, that Russia may in fact be using forced deportations and displacement in an attempt, forcibly, to change the demographic makeup of parts of Ukraine, Ambassador Barbara Woodward, the UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said at the Security Council briefing on Ukraine on September 7.

Woodward also condemned Russia’s creation of filtration camps in the occupied territories of Ukraine. We call on the Russian Federation to allow the UN and other relevant international organisations immediate, full and unhindered access to those held in filtration camps and detention centres, the diplomat stressed.

The UN Security Council met on Wednesday at the request of the United States and Albania to discuss the forced deportation of Ukrainian citizens by Russa.”

Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance the UNHCR reports. As of 7 September:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 7,154,448
Hungary, Republic  of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,664,088
Russian Federation, Belarus 2,502,985
Other European countries 2,987,375
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 4,005,806
Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,546,331
Other European countries 2,459,475
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 12,324,430
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 5,566,851

️️Environmental 

Based on the last estimates, damage caused to Ukraine’s infrastructure during the war is $114.5 bln, Kyiv School of Economics reports. “As of September 5, 2022, the total amount of damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure is $114.5 billion. Compared to the last estimates, damage caused by destruction and damage to residential and non-residential buildings and infrastructure has increased by $1 billion. According to experts’ evaluation, the increment in the total amount of damages is related to the growth in the number of destroyed and damaged objects among industrial enterprises, social institutions, culture, tourism, and sports facilities.

According to the latest data, since the beginning of the war, 412 industrial enterprises have been damaged and destroyed, including large and medium-sized facilities in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. The amount of damages caused to enterprises and industry is $9.7 billion. 

The number of destroyed or damaged facilities providing social services also continues to grow. There are already 141 of them. […]

The largest shares of the total amount of damages belong to the housing fund and infrastructure — 72%. In total, the damages of these two spheres are estimated by project experts at $82.9 billion. 

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 198: Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate over 1,000 sq km of Ukraine’s territory in September ~~

Since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, at least 15.3 thousand apartments, 115.9 thousand private houses, 1991 shops, 44 social centres, 1118 education institutions, 593 pharmacies, 188.1 thousand private cars, 9.5 thousand buses, 492 trams and trolleybuses, 978 healthcare facilities, 511 administrative facilities have been damaged, destroyed or seized.

As of September 5, 2022, the total amount of losses increased by $700 million and amounted to $130.4 billion. The largest share of losses caused to the industry and Ukrainian enterprises — $30.3 billion.

Compared to the last calculations, the minimum needs for the restoration of industries have increased by $800 million and already reach $197.8 billion. The largest needs for restoration are necessary for the housing stock — $75.3 billion, infrastructure — $51.1 billion, and enterprises and industry — $19.7 billion.

The total amount of recovery needs take into account only the reconstruction of destroyed objects according to the Build Back Better principle, taking into account modernization, and the additional need for liquidity for the restoration of enterprises. At the same time, this assessment does not take into account the general needs for the recovery of the economy, as well as additional needs for the modernization of assets that have not suffered damage and destruction. According to the Government’s estimates, taking into account these categories, the total need for financing the recovery and modernization of the economy is $750 billion.”

EU price cap on Russian gas would trigger an immediate cut-off in supplies, Reuters reports. “A proposed European price cap on Russian gas goes against European and Hungarian interests, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday, ahead of an emergency meeting of European Union energy ministers.

Szijjarto, who met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in July, seeking 700 million cubic metres of gas on top of an existing long-term supply deal, said the proposed price cap would trigger an immediate cut-off in supplies to Europe. […]

EU countries seek an emergency solution to soaring energy bills, Reuters reports. “European Union countries’ energy ministers meet on Friday to search for solutions from a long list of possible measures to shield citizens from sky-high energy prices as winter approaches. The basis for the talks is a set of proposals made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – among them, a price cap on Russian gas, a windfall levy on non-gas power plants, a bloc-wide cut in electricity demand, and emergency credit lines for power firms facing soaring collateral requirements.

EU diplomats said countries appeared broadly supportive of measures to provide liquidity for companies, and some had also backed curbing power demand. Other proposals were more divisive. The price cap on Russian gas has so far failed to win support among a majority of countries, with some questioning how it would help curb prices given the low gas volumes Moscow is now sending to Europe.

“Our intention first and foremost is to bring prices down. A cap on only Russian gas won’t bring prices down,” Belgium’s Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten told Reuters. The Baltic states are among those backing the idea, arguing that a price cap would still deprive Moscow of revenue to fund military activities in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia will stop supplying gas to Europe if it imposes a price cap. Support for the policy is scarce among central and eastern European states unwilling to lose the dwindling supplies they still receive.”

In August, prices in Ukraine increased by 23%, Ukraine Business News reports. “Inflation in Ukraine continues to grow, although its pace has slowed, the NBU reported. In July, inflation accelerated to 22.2% in annual terms and 23% in August. According to Deputy Chairman of the NBU Serhiy Nikolaychuk, this is primarily caused by a faster-than-expected decrease in fuel cost due to lower world oil prices and improved domestic logistics. Despite this, inflationary pressure remains significant. The effects of the war, in particular the destruction of production and logistics assets, will continue to have a decisive influence on the prices of almost the entire consumer basket of goods. Worsening inflationary expectations are also putting upward pressure on prices. As well, the NBU admits that the July devaluation of the hryvnia, which was necessary to reduce imbalances in the foreign exchange market, had an additional contribution to inflationary development.”

Legal 

Lloyd’s of London sets aside $1.3 bln for Ukraine claims, Reuters reports. “Lloyd’s of London has set aside 1.1 billion pounds ($1.26 billion) to pay claims related to the war in Ukraine, the commercial insurance market said on Thursday, as it recorded a first-half pre-tax loss of 1.8 billion pounds.

We’ve taken a very early view of what we think the financial implications will be,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive John Neal told Reuters by phone, adding the losses were likely to be about the same size as “a small to medium-sized natural catastrophe.

Around a quarter of Lloyd’s’ Ukraine losses may come from the aviation market, Neal said. Aviation lessors and insurers are wrangling over planes trapped in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine – which Russia calls a “special military operation” – and subsequent Western sanctions. Insurers globally may face claims of around $10 billion to $15 billion from the conflict, Neal added.”

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 198: Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate over 1,000 sq km of Ukraine’s territory in September ~~

383 children were killed, 743 children injured, 7,420 deported by foe forces, and 236 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of September 9. 2,472 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 289 of them are destroyed fully. 32,678 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 15,256 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

Blinken: the US to support Ukraine as long as it takes to restore sovereignty, Ukrinform reports. “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the allocation of additional support to Ukraine – another $675 million in equipment, artillery shells, and other equipment. According to the US Secretary of State, this is the twentieth package of aid from US reserves, and the total amount of support has already reached $13.5 billion. He also noted that the State Department informed the US Congress of its intentions to provide another $1 billion in foreign military financing for longer-term support [….].

Moscow is paying an extremely high price for this aggression. I think it is important to emphasize this, because we see the price Russa is already paying – an extremely high price. And it will keep growing, he said. In this context, Blinken added that Russa’s GDP was falling and more than 1,000 foreign companies were leaving Russa, the most talented Russians were leaving Russa, and the imports were falling.

According to the US Secretary of State, the Russian Federation cannot replace weapons and produce goods for its own people, cannot ensure exports and cannot borrow funds under sovereign debt. Moscow asks North Korea and Iran for military support because we are systematically closing their access to imports. And we will continue to exert this pressure until the aggression against Ukraine stops, and Ukraine restores its sovereignty, Blinken said.”

Pentagon announces weapons included in new security assistance package for Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing a statement by the US Department of Defense. “The US Department of Defense has released the list of weapons, ammunition and equipment that will be provided to Ukraine as part of a new security assistance package worth $675 million, which has been announced by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin today. According to the Pentagon, the new security assistance package will meet Ukraine’s critical security and defence needs.

As part of this package, Ukraine will receive additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS); four 105mm Howitzers and 36,000 105mm artillery rounds; additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARM); 100 Armoured High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV); 1.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition;  more than 5,000 anti-armour systems; 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems; additional grenade launchers and small arms; 50 armoured medical treatment vehicles; night vision devices and other field equipment.

In addition, State Department notified Congress of their intent to make $2 billion available in long-term investments in Foreign Military Financing: $1 billion to bolster the security of Ukraine and $1 billion for 18 of Ukraine’s regional neighbours.”

Norway announces «donation» of ‘Hellfire’ missiles and night vision equipment to Ukraine, News 360 reports. “The Norwegian government announced Thursday a “donation” of ‘Hellfire’ missiles and night vision equipment to Ukraine. Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram made the announcement during a summit between defence officials at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where the United States unveiled the approval of an additional package to deliver weapons to Ukraine worth 675 million euros.

Gram emphasized that these missiles “are the weapon Ukraine has asked for” and added that they “will be useful in its fight against invading Russian forces.” “The missile is easy to operate and can be used against land and sea targets,” he stressed.”

The most-Accurate US artillery shell is added to Ukraine’s arsenal, Ukraine Business News reports. “The Pentagon has sent Ukraine its most accurate artillery shell, the GPS-guided Excalibur, according to budget documents that confirm the previously unannounced addition to the military armament assembled to combat the Russian invasion. A plan to replenish the US stock of Excaliburs acknowledges for the first time that the Pentagon has been supplying Ukrainian forces with the shell, reported Bloomberg. Officials have sidestepped questions about the Excalibur despite reports that planning was underway to provide it and that it was already in use in Ukraine. The Defense Department will spend $92M in congressionally approved supplemental funds for procurement of replacement M982 Excalibur munitions transferred to Ukraine.”

International support: Ukraine expects to receive about $12B by year-end, Ukrinform reports. “By the end of the current year, Ukraine expects to receive declared official financing totalling about $12 billion, including EUR 8 billion as macro-financial aid from the EU, Serhiy Nikolaychuk, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, said. Ongoing international support will enable the NBU to maintain international reserves at a sufficient level in the coming years, Nikolaychuk added.”

New Developments 

  1. EU states prepare for emergency talks on Russian gas price cap, Reuters reports. “European Union countries were poring over a range of proposals from Brussels ahead of emergency talks on Friday aimed at finding bloc-wide measures to cut rocketing energy costs before winter. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has put forward plans including a price cap on Russian gas which has raised concerns in some capitals, a bloc-wide cut in electricity demand and a windfall levy on non-gas generators.”
  2. President Zelensky insists Russa should be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism, Ukrinform reports, citing the Office of the President of Ukraine. “President Volodymyr Zelensky insists it is necessary to limit the issuance of US visas for Russians and recognize Russa as a state sponsor of terrorism. The relevant statement was made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv.”
  3. Romanian navy ship hit by a drifting mine in the Black Sea, ReutersA Romanian Navy dredger hit a drifting mine it was trying to defuse in bad weather on Thursday, but the crew of 75 were unharmed by the explosion, the defence ministry said.”
  4. EU calls detention of senior diplomat in Belarus ‘deplorable’, ReutersThe European Union on Thursday condemned the detention of a senior diplomat to Belarus who attended the trial of opposition activists in the capital Minsk as “unacceptable and deplorable”. Evelina Schulz, chargée d’affaires of the EU delegation in Minsk, was detained by Belarusian police for more than two hours on Tuesday as she exited the court after the public reading of verdicts in an otherwise closed-door trial, a spokesperson for the EU’s diplomatic service said.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 8 September 2022:

Ukrainian military officials stated that Ukrainian forces are making incremental advances in Kherson Oblast and continued to target Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs), command and control points, and ammunition depots throughout the region. Deputy Chief of the Ukrainian Main Operational Department Oleksiy Hromov stated that Ukrainian forces have advanced between two and several dozen kilometres in unspecified areas in the Kherson Oblast direction. Ukraine‘s Southern Operational Command stated that Ukrainian forces struck two Russian pontoon bridges over the Dnipro and Inhulets rivers on the night of September 8. Ukrainian military officials also noted that Ukrainian ballistic missiles and aviation struck two Russian ammunition depots, an unspecified command post, and key positions of a Russian platoon. The Ukrainian General Staff also noted that Ukrainian partisans are cooperating with Ukrainian forces to disrupt Russian logistics in the rear. Russian forces are reportedly intensifying filtration measures at a railway station on the southern Kherson-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border due to locals supplying information to Ukrainian forces about Russian troops entering Kherson Oblast.

Social media provides additional visual evidence corroborating the ongoing successful Ukrainian interdiction campaign and Russian attempts to restore GLOCs to northern Kherson Oblast. Satellite imagery from September 7 suggests that one of the ferries operating near Antonivsky Road Bridge is out of service, likely following recent Ukrainian strikes on the GLOC. However, geolocated footage published on September 7 shows that Russian forces opened a new ferry crossing over the Dnipro River in downtown Kherson City. Residents reported hearing over 10 explosions in the area of the Darivka Bridge, and geolocated footage showed the aftermath of a Ukrainian strike on a Russian convoy on a pontoon crossing near Nova Kakhovka on September 7. Russian and Ukrainian sources published footage of a destroyed residential building in Nova Kakhovka, and local Ukrainian reports stated that a Russian air defense missile fell onto the building. Residents also reported explosions near a railway junction at Novooleksiivka (just north of the Kherson Oblast-Crimea border) after the arrival of a Russian train from Crimea, which supports Ukrainian military officials’ reports of continued partisan activities in southern Kherson Oblast targeting Russian logistics. […]

Ukrainian and Russian sources reported kinetic activity northwest of Kherson City, near the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River, and around Snihurivka (approximately 60km east of Mykolaiv City) on September 8. Geolocated footage depicts Ukrainian forces raiding Russian positions in Ternovi Pody, approximately 28km northwest of Kherson City on September 8. Russian milbloggers also claimed that Ukrainians broke through the defenses of the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division between Ternovi Pody and Blahodatne, about 7km due southwest of Ternovi Pody. The Russian MoD stated that Russian forces struck Ukrainian positions in the vicinity of Blahodatne and Ternovi Pody, which may further support geolocated footage and milblogger reports about Ukrainian advances in the area. […]. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continued to undertake measures to expand the bridgehead over the Inhulets River and have liberated Schastlyve (approximately 13km southeast of the river). A milblogger noted that Russian forces regained positions in eastern parts of Bilohorivka following an airstrike campaign against Ukrainian forces in the area days prior. A Russian milblogger also stated that Ukrainian forces did not attempt counteroffensive operations in the Snihurivka direction but continued to use helicopters to strike Russian airborne troops’ positions in Blahodatne (approximately 40km east of Mykolaiv City). Neither Ukrainian nor Russian sources reported changes in positions south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border.

[…] Russian milbloggers compared Ukrainian counteroffensives in Kherson and Kharkiv Oblasts, claiming that Ukrainian forces used mobilized infantry forces to advance in southern Ukraine and large quantitates of artillery in Kharkiv Oblast. Milbloggers also significantly decreased their coverage of the Kherson Oblast counteroffensive in favor of reporting on Ukrainian advances in Kharkiv Oblast on September 8.

Ukrainian forces secured substantial gains in Kharkiv Oblast on September 8 and are advancing on Kupyansk, a key node in Russa’s GLOCs supporting the Izium axis. Ukrainian forces have likely advanced to positions within 15km of Kupyansk and will shell the town overnight. Russian rear positions in Kharkiv Oblast are now exposed to further Ukrainian advances, and Ukrainian forces will likely capture Kupyansk within the next 72 hours. […] Ukrainian forces continued their drive southeast on the N26 highway towards Kupyansk, advancing at least to Shevchenkove (roughly 35km west of Kupyansk), where geolocated imagery shows Ukrainian forces at the settlement’s entrance and most Russian sources report fighting remains ongoing. The loss of Kupyansk and other rear areas on critical GLOCS will hinder Russian efforts to support offensive and defense operations, but will not completely sever Russian lines of communication to Izium.

Ukrainian forces’ relatively quick speed of advance, proximity to Kupyansk, and ability to shell the city are prompting panic in Russian rear areas. Geolocated footage shows damage from a likely Ukrainian strike on a Russian military headquarters in occupied Kupyansk. Kharkiv Oblast occupation administration head Vitaly Ganchev announced the evacuation of all women and children from Kupyansk City and Kupyansk Raion as well as Izium Raion, citing increased Ukrainian artillery and rocket strikes but most likely due to the ongoing ground operations. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that occupation authorities in Chuhuiv Raion, Kharkiv Oblast, are forcibly mobilizing men of conscription age by detaining them and sending them to Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, likely to prevent these men from supporting advancing Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian forces recaptured Balakliya on September 8. Geolocated footage shows Ukrainian forces calmly operating within the center of Balakliya, raising a Ukrainian flag on the city council building, and conducting clearing operations.

Ukrainian successes on the Kharkiv City-Izium line are creating fissures within the Russian information space and eroding confidence in Russian command to a degree not seen since a failed Russian river crossing in mid-May. Ukrainian military officials announced that Ukrainian forces advanced 50km deep into Russian defensive positions north of Izium on September 8, but the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) notably did not issue any statement regarding Ukrainian advances in Kharkiv Oblast. Ukrainian successes and the Russian MoD’s silence prompted many Russian milbloggers to criticize and debate Russian failures to retain control over the city of Balakliya, approximately 44km northwest of Izium. Some milbloggers claimed that Russian forces fully or partially withdrew from Balakliya in good order, while others complained that Ukrainian forces beat Russian forces out of the settlement. Others noted that Rosgvardia units operating in the area did not coordinate their defenses or have sufficient artillery capabilities to prevent Ukrainian counterattacks in the region. Milbloggers warned about an impending Ukrainian counteroffensive northwest of Izium for days prior to Ukrainian advances, and some milbloggers noted that Russian command failed to prepare for “obvious and predictable” Ukrainian counteroffensives. Others noted that Ukrainian forces have “completely outplayed” the Russian military command in Balakliya, while others encouraged readers to wait to discuss Russian losses and withhold criticism until Russian forces stabilize the frontlines.

The current tone and scale of Russian milblogger criticism echo the response to Russa’s loss of a large amount of armor in a failed Russian river crossing in Bilohorivka, Luhansk Oblast, in May. ISW assessed at the time that the catastrophic Russian losses suffered due to incompetence shook the confidence of pro-Russian milbloggers, sparking criticism of the Russian war effort. […]

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian successes on the Kharkiv City-Izium line are creating fissures within the Russian information space and eroding confidence in Russian command to a degree not seen since a failed Russian river crossing in mid-May.
  • Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv Oblast counteroffensives advanced to within 20 kilometers of Russa’s key logistical node in Kupyansk on September 8.
  • Ukrainian forces will likely capture Kupyansk in the next 72 hours, severely degrading but not completely severing Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izium.
  • Ukrainian forces are continuing to target Russian GLOCs, command-and-control points, and ammunition depots in Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to intensify crackdowns and filtration measures to curb Ukrainian partisans and pro-Ukrainian saboteurs.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks across the Eastern Axis.

Russa’s combat-ready ground force in Ukraine is estimated at 170,000 – Ukrainian intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing (Un)Safe Country, a podcast by Ukrainska Pravda and the Centre for Defence Strategies. “The combat-ready ground force [of the occupiers] is about 170,000 people. Currently, 110-111 tactical battalion groups are being actively deployed, and they are constantly operating along the entire front line.

We understand clearly how they are currently forming reserves and carrying out mobilisation measures: these are so-called volunteers, so-called patriotic battalions, reservists of the Special Combat Army Reserve (BARS), and private military companies.

We have calculated the figures and we know that if they carry out these measures, there are about 90,000 military personnel who will be mobilised and involved in the hostilities.”

Ukraine forces employing Western arms to devastating effect – US top general, Reuters reports. “Ukraine is using its modern Western weapons to devastating effect, striking hundreds of Russian targets with the US-supplied HIMARS rocket system alone, General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday.

“We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians have struck over 400 targets with the HIMARS and they’ve had devastating effect,” Milley told reporters after a meeting of dozens of defence ministers at Ramstein air base in Germany.”

A Russian soldier speaks out: ‘The people are afraid’, The Hill reports. “Finally, a courageous Russian soldier tells all about the war against Ukraine. Pavel Filatyev is a 33-year-old paratrooper who wrote an explosive memoir, “Zov” (Call), that appeared in early August. Filatyev exposes the war as an act of Russian aggression, shows that most Russian soldiers are hungry, dirty and demoralized, and savagely criticizes the Russian generals and officers. His exposé rings true, if only because it is identical to the one proffered by Ukrainian and Western policymakers, journalists, analysts and generals.

Filatyev starts by describing the first “two months of filth, hunger, sweat, and the feeling of being next to death. It’s too bad that they don’t allow reporters to us in the frontlines, since the entire country could then admire the hairy paratroopers, dirty, filthy, thin; it was unclear who they were angrier at — the stubborn Ukrainians who don’t want to de-Nazify or their own incompetent commanders incapable of providing supplies even during combat. Half of my boys dressed and wore Ukrainian uniforms because they were of better quality and comfort, while ours were worn out since our great country was unable to dress, equip, and feed its own army.” He continues in this vein throughout the entire text, sparing no criticism of Russian military institutions. Unsurprisingly, morale is low: “An atmosphere of apathy rules over the contract soldiers, 90 percent of whom discuss ways to end their contracts as soon as possible.”

Filatyev dismisses the regime’s justifications for the war. It can’t be Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, because Russia wages no war with its other NATO neighbours. It can’t be that Ukraine would have attacked if Russia hadn’t, he says, since “how could a country that has difficulty defending itself … attack us?” It can’t be that the Ukrainians are Nazis who oppress Russians, as he hasn’t heard of a single instance of Russians being persecuted for their language or culture in Ukraine. Nor, finally, can it be that the self-styled republics in Donetsk and Luhansk needed Russian protection from supposed Ukrainian Nazis hell-bent on destroying them. […]

In an interview with a Russian opposition website, Filatyev emphasizes the lies on which Vladimir Putin’s war is based. I don’t see in the trenches the children of SkabeyevaSolovyovKiselevRogozinLavrov, and Medvedev — the first three being Russian propagandists, the latter three being top policymakers — even as I continually hear their calls to kill. Fortunately, the soldiers appear to understand the mendacity and hypocrisy of the regime and its spokespersons, he says. The Russian army does not want to fight. Not because it’s afraid, but because it understands that the government has dragged it into a fatal war. It’s a problematic war, in which there is no truth. Most Russian soldiers don’t feel that truth is on their side.

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Europeans worry the cost of living crisis will cause social unrest: survey, euro news reported 2 September. “Many Europeans worry that high inflation due to the current energy crisis could fuel social unrest, protests, and strikes, according to a new survey in France, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom. Conducted by pollster YouGov for the non-profit organisation More in Common, the survey showed that cost of living has become the most important issue for Europeans in the four countries polled.

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 198: Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate over 1,000 sq km of Ukraine’s territory in September ~~

A majority of people surveyed in all four countries said they were worried about social unrest in the coming months. In France, four in ten people said they wanted to see a return of the Yellow Vests protest movement.

Europeans are also feeling the impact of the energy crisis. One in five people surveyed said they were drawing down from their savings while one in ten said they were skipping meals, the survey showed. “Many are already struggling to cope; having to draw from savings or skip meals, particularly among disengaged and low-trust segments of the population,” according to the report from More in Common entitled Navigating the Cost of Living Crisis.

The vast majority believe this won’t be a short crisis, with many seeing no end in sight. A majority of those surveyed in Poland and Germany said they were shopping around for better deals on groceries. A majority of those surveyed said they expected to cut down on heating this winter due to high energy prices.”

Thousands gather at ‘Czech Republic First’ rally over energy crisis, The Guardian reported 4 September. “The Czech Republic is facing an autumn of discontent after an estimated 70,000 demonstrators gathered in Prague to protest at soaring energy bills and demand an end to sanctions against Russa over the war in Ukraine. Far-right and extreme-left elements coalesced at a “Czech Republic First” rally to call for a new agreement with Moscow over gas supplies and a halt to the sending of arms to Ukraine, while urging the centre-right government of the prime minister, Petr Fiala, to resign. […]

The rally, part-organised by the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) and the rump Communist party that once ruled the former Czechoslovakia, featured calls for military neutrality and complaints over the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. About 400,000 have been granted residence in the Czech Republic since Russa invaded Ukraine.

Alongside banners bearing slogans such as “The best for Ukrainians and two jumpers for us”, Zuzana Majerová Zahradníková of the hard-right, anti-EU Trikolora party told protesters: “Fiala’s government may be Ukrainian, it may be Brussels, but it is definitely not Czech.” Some demonstrators wore T-shirts praising the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, while others carried banners voicing anti-EU and anti-Nato sentiment. The Czech Republic has been among the western alliance’s staunchest supporters of Ukraine.

Organisers have vowed to stage further rallies, with another planned for the symbolic date of 28 September, Czech state day, unless the government resigns by 25 September. […] Non-opposition voices have cautioned against the potentially calamitous consequences of the looming winter energy crisis, which Fiala is due to discuss with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, when he visits Prague on Monday.

The justice minister, Pavel Blažek – a member of the prime minister’s party – warned last week of the risk of riots and the fall of the government in the absence of an urgent solution. “If the energy crisis is not resolved, the political system of this country is at risk,” he said.”

Germans revive Cold War Monday demonstrations amid inflation, DW reported 5 September. “Protesters from Germany’s left and the right have called for regular Monday protests against the rising cost of living. These evoke the peaceful revolution in East Germany but also of recent anti-immigrant rallies. Parties on both the left and right of the political spectrum in Germany have announced a “hot autumn” with regular Monday demonstrations.

The socialist Left Party was the first to announce the new series of protests against Germany’s rising prices for gas, energy and food. It chose Leipzig, a city in former East Germany, as the location for its first Monday march on September 5. The choice of Leipzig has a powerful symbolic resonance: This is where East Germans played a decisive role in toppling the dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with their Monday demonstrations.”

Hans Petter Midttun: On Day 30 I addressed the outcome of the extraordinary NATO Summit on 24 March.   As we are approaching Day 200 of the new phase of the war, it might be worthwhile to reiterate what was – and what was not – said, and what NATO has achieved during the last 168 days.

During President Bidens press conference Thursday, one month after the Russian invasion started, he stressed his most important objective was to have absolute unity among NATO allies on 3 key important issues, (1) support Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance, (2) to impose the most significant economic sanctions ever to cripple Putin’s economy and punish him for his actions, (3) and fortify the eastern flank of NATO. The Alliance has accomplished all three of these, President Biden said at the time.

During the press conference of NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg described the outcome of that unity of efforts.

  • Support Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance.

Allies have been equipping Ukraine with significant military supplies, including anti-tank and air defence systems, and drones, as well as substantial financial and humanitarian aid.

During the summit, NATO agreed to do more, including cybersecurity assistance and equipment to help Ukraine protect against biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear threats. This could include detection, protection, and medical supplies, as well as training for decontamination and crisis management.

The General Secretary stressed that NATO is determined to do all we can to support Ukraine. Unfortunately, that did not include boots on the ground and a peacekeeping force, a No-Fly Zone, combat aircraft, and medium or long-range Air Defence systems. He was unable to respond to President Zelensky’s plea for “1% of all your tanks, for 1% of all your aircraft, for multi-launch rocket systems, anti-ship weapons and means of air defence”.

  • To impose the most significant economic sanctions ever to cripple Putin’s economy and punish him for his actions.

Stoltenberg mentioned sanctions briefly, highlighting that NATO impose the sanctions because it is important to end the war immediately. The lack of substance is logical since the Alliance does not impose economic sanctions. The member states (the USA and the UK) and the EU impose sanctions.

President Biden, however, stressed that sanctions are not meant to deter, but to increase the pain to the point that the Russian economy is crippled, and President Putin is no longer able to continue the war in Ukraine. He emphasized that he was ready to sustain the sanctions until the end of the year if required. He did, however, not expect to see any effects for at least a month.

  • Fortify the eastern flank of NATO.

The Secretary-General highlighted that NATO is resetting its long-term deterrence and defence posture, with more troops, more air assets and more maritime capabilities. The alliance has already increased its presence in the east and Thursday decided to establish four new battlegroups. The member states agreed to task NATO military commanders to provide options for a long-term reset of our presence, of our military posture in the eastern part of the Alliance and across the whole Alliance.

NATO leaders agreed to redouble efforts to meet the Defence Investment Pledge made in 2014. Allies will submit additional plans on how to meet the pledge in time for the Madrid Summit in June.

“So this is long term, we are prepared for the long haul because we can already today say that the Russian invasion, President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed our security environment for the long term. It is a new reality. It is a new normal and NATO is responding for the long term.”

Neither president Biden nor Secretary General Stoltenberg, however, mentioned NATO’s red lines. The Alliance are dead set on not defining any criteria that might invertible pull NATO into the conflict. Nor did they mention the preconditions for lifting the sanctions.

It is important to remember that the sanctions do not have a global application. Not everyone wants to make Putin an economic pariah over the Ukraine war. China, along with India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, has signalled a desire to maintain trade ties and other links with Russia, LA Times reported. “Beyond this fortified coalition, very few nations have chosen to take part in the economic warfare set against the Putin government,” David Adler, general coordinator of Progressive International, a group that promotes left-leaning organizations and causes, wrote in a March 10 op-ed in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

Both Biden and Stoltenber reiterated the “mantra” that “we have a responsibility to ensure that this conflict does not become a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia” while at no time addressing the point that Russia already see it as a party to the conflict. According to Russia, the war is essentially about NATO, including its threat to Russian security as a consequence of its “eastward expansion since 1997” and its basing and air and maritime operations within striking distance of Moscow. The fact that the Alliance (in the eyes of the Russian leadership) is waging political and economic warfare against Russia while delivering weapons to Ukraine is seen as a hostile act.

This brings us back to two key statements. Firstly, President Biden stressed the crucial importance of absolute unity among NATO allies. Secondly, Secretary General Stoltenberg highlighted that NATO is determined to do all it can to support Ukraine. Both indicated discord within the Alliance and that the outcome is the upper limit of what the “weakest links” are willing to accept, in the fear that a greater engagement will result in unacceptable costs to individual member states. Recognizing the fundamental dependency of many European countries on Russian oil and gas, one can argue that the Russian Federation in the short term has succeeded in limiting NATO’s ability to respond to its war in Ukraine.

On 25 March, I argued that both Biden and Stoltenberg addressed the long-term commitment since the present NATO strategy does not support any other aim. The only way to end the war immediately would be to do what the Alliance has been unable to do since 20 February 2014: to employ its miliary power for military diplomacy and when having failed to do that, to execute a humanitarian intervention under a UN mandate, including closing the sky over Ukraine and the Black Sea, and breaking the maritime embargo engage.

At the time I argued that the chosen strategy will result in:

more senseless suffering, horror, destruction, and Russian atrocities before the war ends. It also brings a new sense of urgency into President Putin’s effort to defeat and subjugate Ukraine no matter what it takes. He knows that he still has a limited window of opportunity before he loses the ability to wage war. He desperately needs a peace agreement (“Minsk agreement 3.0”) to make sure the West disengage and starts lifting sanctions. 

I fear that the aim of achieving full unity in the face of the massive atrocities taking place in Ukraine will come back and haunt NATO. I cannot see anything that might cut the war short but the active role of NATO. I believe in NATO deterrence, and if deterrence works, Russia will step back if the Alliance chose a more active role. By not defending Ukraine, we might both see a protracted war with horrific atrocities as well as global consequences that might come back and challenge NATO and EU unity.”

198 days after the Russian full-scale invasion was launched, 20 of the 30 NATO members are still not fulfilling their defence budget pledge of 2% of GDP. The weakest links of the Alliance are still defining its highest ambition. Equally important, the US and European defence industries are still not configured to meet the present demands for more weapons and ammunition. The member states are slowly running out of defence aid they can provide Ukraine without extensive training, increasing the likelihood that they will be forced to take a more active role in the months to come. Despite the comprehensive support rendered, the West has still not provided Ukraine with combat aircraft or naval capabilities to open the Black Sea for commercial shipping. Ukraine is fighting Russia in one dimension with one arm tied behind its back, while Putin’s Russia is employing all arms in three dimensions.

While the sanctions have had an impact on the Russian economy, they have by no means stopped its ability to wage war. It is reportedly seeking support from both Iran and North Korea to alleviate their impact to strengthen its ability to wage war against Ukraine.

Equally worrisome, the “tsunami of ripple effects” has reached our shores and has already started to destabilise the European continent. By not actively defending Ukraine, we have accepted a protracted war with both horrific atrocities, 150-200,000 Ukrainian casualties, destructions requiring around 1,000 billion Euro in reconstruction and not least, global consequences that have come back to challenge NATO and EU unity, Euro-Atlantic security and stability.

I have been accused of being irresponsible for arguing for an UN-mandated humanitarian mission in Ukraine. Given the development, I would argue that upholding a strategy that led to the full-scale invasion is beyond reckless.

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