Russo Ukrainian War. Day 204: Russia strikes a dam in Kryvyi Rih, residents evacuated

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control of newly liberated areas of Kharkiv Oblast, with 388 settlements liberated. About 6% of Kharkiv Oblast is still occupied. Construction of fortifications to protect liberated territories begins. High-value equipment abandoned by retreating Russian forces included capabilities essential to enable Russia’s operations. Kryvyi Rih residents being evacuated after river floods city streets due to the Russian strike on the dam. Ukrainian troops destroy Russian forces’ ammo depot in the south.  Police officers in Russian-held Kherson resign. Mass refusal of the Russian military personnel to participate in combat operations. 77 ships with grain have already left Ukrainian ports for Asia and Africa. EU to include Ukraine in a single market, free-roaming area. Germany handed over four more Gepards and 65 medical refrigerators to Ukraine.

Daily Review, September 15 2022

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 14, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW.

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“Russian forces continue to focus their efforts on attempts to fully occupy the Donetsk oblast, hold the captured territories and disrupt the active actions of our troops in certain areas.

Russian forces are shelling our positions along the contact line, are trying to take measures to regroup troops in separate directions, and conducting aerial reconnaissance. There remains the threat of air and missile strikes throughout the territory of Ukraine.

Russian forces continue to attack the homes of civilians and civilian infrastructure objects, violating the norms of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and customs of war. The infrastructure of more than 30 settlements was damaged by air strikes, missile strikes and the use of MLRS. These are, in particular, Kryvyi Rih, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Vovchansk, Kostyantynivka, Lozova, Siversk, Bilohorivka, Mykolaivka, Verkhnyokamianske, Soledar, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Vesela Dolyna, Zaitseve, Yuryivka, New York, Pervomaiske, Kamyanka, Vremivka, Stepove, Mali Shcherbaky, Suhyi Stavok, Kostromka, Bila Krynytsia and Myrne.

Over the past day, Russian forces launched 8 missile strikes, 19 airstrikes and 86 MLRS strikes at military and civilian targets on the territory of Ukraine.

The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly.

In other directions, Russian forces are shelling the infrastructure with tanks, mortars and artillery, namely:

  • in the Severskyi direction – in the Halahanivka district of the Chernihiv oblast;
Kharkiv Battle Map. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Kharkiv direction – in the areas of the settlements of Baranivka, Hoptivka, Vysoka Yaruga, Neskuchne and Kupyansk;
Donetsk Battle Map. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Kramatorsk direction – Tetyanivka, Kryva Luka and Bilohorivka;
  • in the Bakhmut direction – Vesele, Yakovlivka, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Vesela Dolyna, Zaitseve and Sukha Balka;
  • in the Avdiyivka direction – Avdiyivka, Pervomaiske, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka and Novomykhailivka;
  • in the Zaporizhzhia direction – Vilne Pole, Zelene Pole, Novopil, Velyka Novosilka, Pavlivka, Orihiv, Mala Tokmachka and Biloghirya;
Kherson Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 14, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Pivdenny Buh direction – Bila Krynytsia, Olhyne, Lyubomirivka, Ternovi Pody, Pravdyne, Myrne and Ivanivka. In addition, Russian forces constantly conducts aerial reconnaissance by UAVs.

Defence forces continue to successfully repulse enemy attacks, in particular, in the areas of the settlements of Spirne, Soledar, Mayorsk, Zaitseve, Odradivka, Vesela Dolyna, Vodyane and Novomykhailivka.

During the past 24 hours, in support of the actions of the land groupings, the Air Force of the Defense Forces carried out 12 strikes on the places of concentration of Russian manpower and equipment. It was confirmed that six areas of concentration of Russian manpower, two platoon strongholds and four positions of anti-aircraft missile systems were hit. Enemy losses are being refined.

[Units of the Missile Forces and Artillery inflicted damage on command and control points, areas of concentration of manpower and combat equipment of Russian forces. In addition, the destruction of four “Grad” MLRS in the Kherson region, which fell into the affected zone on September 12 of this year, and the occupiers’ food warehouse in Dokuchayevsk were confirmed.]

In addition, our air defence units destroyed four aircraft of the occupiers in different directions: three Su-25 and one Su-24M.

According to available information, the destruction of a significant number of servicemen and military equipment of units of the 137th Parachute Regiment of the 106th Parachute Division of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Bakhmut direction has been confirmed. Significant losses do not allow the specified unit to continue combat operations without additional measures.

In order to hold the temporarily captured territories, Russian forces are trying to strengthen the first line of defense in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions – it is moving reserves from the units of the 3rd Army Corps, as well as the remnants of units that were withdrawn from the Kharkiv direction. At the same time, due to the breach by the Defence Forces of the logistical support of the occupiers, units of the armed forces of the Russian federation performing tasks along the contact line have problems with the lack of certain types of ammunition for rocket launchers and artillery.

[As a result of the successful actions of the Defense Forces and the destruction of a large number of enemy personnel, the morale and psychological state of the occupiers is extremely low. The command of the units of the occupying forces tries to force the personnel to participate in combat operations by threatening to send them to the frontline positions without weapons. As a result, up to 50 mobilized servicemen of the occupation forces from the city of Horlivka wrote reports on their refusal to further participate in hostilities.]

[In order to preserve some samples of military equipment, the command of Russian air defence units is trying to organize the evacuation of air defence systems deep into the temporarily captured territories and into the territory of the Russian Federation. Thus, on the night of September 11-12, in the Luhansk region, convoys with S-300 and Buk complexes were spotted moving from the settlement of Lutuhyne in the direction of the Russian-Ukrainian border.]”

Military Updates 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1570154820325212160

Defense Ministry’s update on liberated areas of Kharkiv region: 388 settlements de-occupied, Ukrinform reports, citing Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. “About 8,500 square kilometres, 388 settlements and 150,000 people have been liberated from Russian invaders in the Kharkiv region since September 6, 2022. In her words, the front line is 2,500 kilometres, and active hostilities are underway within 1,300 kilometres.

According to Maliar, numbers regarding the liberated areas are being constantly updated, as it is a dynamic process. Also, the liberated areas require additional safety and stabilization measures to make them safe for living. Official reports on the number of liberated areas are provided with a deliberate delay and may or may not take into account the stabilization measures taken and, thus, they may differ.

Ukrainian troops destroy Russian forces’s ammo depot in the south, Ukrinform reports. “Our missile and artillery units continued to perform fire missions, in particular, striking the columns of enemy equipment, the Kakhovka Bridge, and the pontoon crossing near the Antonivka Bridge. Russian forces forces and equipment clusters near ​​Hola Prystan and Dudchan, as well as an ammunition depot, were hit, Vladyslav Nazarov, spokesman for the Operational Command “South”, posted.

Over the past 24 hours, the missile and artillery units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine performed more than 430 fire missions and eliminated 121 Russian soldiers, five tanks, nine armoured vehicles of other types, three Msta-B howitzers, two Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer, two Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile and artillery systems, a command and staff vehicle, and a radio-electronic warfare station in the southern regions of Ukraine.”

Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate Kyselivka, only Chornobaivka separates them from Kherson – Kherson Oblast Council. Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Oleksandr Samoilenko, Head of the Kherson Oblast Military Administration, said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated the village of Kyselivka in Kherson Oblast on 13 September. Now only the village of Chornobaivka stands between the Ukrainian forces and the city of Kherson.

About 6% of Kharkiv Oblast is still occupied, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Office of the President. “Oleh Syniehubov, the Head of the Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration, informed the President that 16 hromadas had been fully liberated and 7 hromadas partially liberated. Approximately 6% of the oblast’s territory is still occupied, while it had been 32% before the Ukrainian defenders’ counteroffensive.”

Construction of fortifications to protect liberated territories begins, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine. “Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, has reported that new fortifications are being built, and already existing ones are being strengthened in the territories liberated from Russian occupiers. These measures are being taken in order to protect the recently liberated territories from re-occupation.”

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

  • Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control of newly liberated areas of Kharkiv Oblast. Russian forces have largely withdrawn from the area west of the Oskil River.
  • The way in which Russian forces have withdrawn in the last week has varied. Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic.
  • High-value equipment abandoned by retreating Russian forces included capabilities essential to enable Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare. Amongst these are at least one ZOOPARK counter-battery radar and at least one IV14 artillery command and control vehicle. Such abandonment highlights the disorganised retreat of some Russian units and likely localised breakdowns in command and control.
  • Russia has highly likely deployed Iranian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV) in Ukraine for the first time. On 13 September 2022, Ukrainian officials reported that their forces had shot down a Shahed-136 UAV near Kupiansk, in the area of Ukraine’s successful ongoing offensive.
  • The Shahed-136 is a one-way attack UAV with a claimed range of 2,500 kilometres. Similar Iranian-manufactured systems have likely been used in attacks in the Middle East, including against the oil tanker MT MERCER STREET in July 2021.
  • Russia is almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry from other heavily sanctioned states like Iran and North Korea as its own stocks dwindle. The loss of a Shahed-136 near the front lines suggests there is a realistic possibility that Russia is attempting to use the system to conduct tactical strikes rather than against more strategic targets farther into Ukrainian territory.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Thursday 15 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 53850 (+200),
  • Tanks – 2193 (+13),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 4682 (+17),
  • Artillery systems – 1295 (+5),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 311 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 167 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 250 (+4),
  • Helicopters – 215 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3522 (+21),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 908 (+0),
  • Special equipment – 120 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 233 (+0)

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

Police officers in Russian-held Kherson see a surge of resignation reports, Ukrinform reports. “In Russian-occupied Kherson, local police officers appointed by Russian invasion forces are massively filing resignation papers. That’s according to an informed source in law enforcement, who spoke with Ukrinform.

The agency’s interlocutor says, against the backdrop of the Ukrainian Army’s recent battlefield successes in the region, the number of police officers, who are ready to quit service after flipping to the Russian side just months ago, has increased significantly.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1570193176429740032

To stop the escape of their units from the battlefield, the occupiers use “blocking units”, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) reports. “To stop the escape of their units from the battlefield, the occupiers have established “blocking squads”. As a result of the actions of the Ukrainian Defence Forces, among the personnel of the occupying forces, there is an incitement of panic and unwillingness to participate in the war. The situation is exacerbated by untimely and incomplete payments of the promised maintenance. Many soldiers, whose only motivation was material support, are looking for opportunities to either return to the territory of the Russian Federation or surrender.

The occupiers who moved from the Izium direction to the Donetsk region are waiting for the delivery of ammunition and fuel. During the retreat, the units spent or were forced to abandon almost all weapons and equipment. Racists complain that the promised aid has never arrived.

Units of the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Russian Federation (military unit 12721) retreating from Izium and Balaklia suffered heavy losses. In some companies, about half of the personnel remained. Those who survived intend to move towards the Russian border to return home.

Many occupiers concentrated near the Russian border in the Belgorod region. They have no communication with the command, there is no supply of food and ammunition.

To stop mass desertion from the battlefield, the Kremlin command is intensifying the use of “proven” Soviet methods of “persuasion”. From the intercepted conversations of the occupiers, it became known about the establishment of the rear of the so-called “blocking units”. In particular, the commanders of the 4th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 2nd army corps received a message: There is a blocking squad posted in the rear lane. All retreating troops will be destroyed. Commander’s order number 222. Deliver to all posts.”

Military units of the Russian Federation cancel the dispatch of units to Ukraine due to the mass refusal of personnel to participate in combat operations, DIU reports. “Military units of the Russian Federation cancel the dispatch of units to Ukraine due to mass refusals of personnel to participate in hostilities. Servicemen of 5 separate tank brigades of the 36th army (Ulan-Ude) who write reports for dismissal due to refusal to continue participating in hostilities in Ukraine are dismissed from service without taking into account any benefits (years of service – one year for three, veteran status, etc.). Personnel of the brigade, who is in Ukraine, are given vacations only due to family circumstances (death of close relatives).

At the same time, there is a catastrophic shortage of personnel in the units participating in the war against Ukraine. To “solve the problem”, the command of the occupying forces decided to significantly reduce the time for the rehabilitation of soldiers after injuries and contusions. Wounded in hospitals purposefully simplify diagnoses, do not perform previously planned operations and offer to return to the war in Ukraine. Doctors are “recommended” to permit planned surgical interventions only after the end of the war or with the direct permission of the commander of the wounded.

Currently, the occupiers are trying to strengthen their group under the temporarily occupied Kherson at the expense of “available reserves”. For this purpose, it is planned to redeploy 4 battalions of the so-called “Kadyrivets”. But currently, these units are significantly understaffed. Most of the personnel are not Chechens, but mercenaries from the poorest regions of the Russian Federation.

“We need only stormtroopers”: a video of Prigozhyn recruiting Russian prisoners published, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The video of an oligarch Yevgenii Prigozhyn, who is close to Vladimir Putin and organised a so-called Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), personally encouraging Russian prisoners to go to war in Ukraine, has been published online.”

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1570200729977081858

77 ships with grain have already left Ukrainian ports for Asia and Africa, Ukrinform reports. “77 ships loaded with agricultural products have already left the unblocked seaports for the countries of Asia and Africa. “If I’m not mistaken, 57 [ships] left for Asian countries, about 20 left for African countries. The rest – all over the world, in particular for Europe,” Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said during a press conference on September 14.

The Ukrainian grain is exported to all countries that need it, the Prime Minister underscored. I suggest that we should not succumb to manipulations when the Russians and their leader Putin tell us that only two ships from Ukrainian ports went to the countries that need it, Shmyhal stressed.

The Head of Government noted that, despite the partial restoration of exports from seaports, Ukraine lost 80% of its export potential due to the war. As reported, 3.1 million tonnes of agricultural products have been exported from Ukraine since the grain transportation agreement signed between Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, and the UN entered into force.”

Part of Kryvyi Rih residents being evacuated after river floods city streets due to Russian strike on dam, Ukrinform reports, citing Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration. “Russia has committed another terrorist act. They hit a very large hydrotechnical structure in Kryvyi Rih with eight cruise missiles. The attempt is to simply wash away a part of our city with water. We are monitoring the situation, the response efforts are underway, all services are involved, everyone is on the site. But the water level in the Inhulets River has risen, Oleksandr Vilkul stressed. In order to avoid unnecessary risks, he appealed to residents of part of the city streets to evacuate.”

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 13 September:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 7,283,716
Hungary, Republic  of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,678,947
Russian Federation, Belarus 2,606,631
Other European countries 2,998,138
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 4,034,631
Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,560,884
Other European countries 2,473,747
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 12, 660,508
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 5, 755,970

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1570185638015471616

 

Former Russian athlete serving in the Ukrainian Army killed in Donetsk Oblast

️️Environmental 

The world ignores the threat of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant seizure, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, believes that the IAEA’s visit to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) captured by the Russians did not bring the desired results: the world still underestimates the nuclear terrorist threat coming from the Russian Federation.”

Legal 

Forcible deportation of Ukrainians to Russia “war crime” – Borrell, Ukrinform reports. “Forcible deportation of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation, which the invaders resort to in the temporarily occupied areas, is a grave violation of international humanitarian law, therefore all those complicit must be held accountable for war crimes.

That’s according to Josep Borrell, who spoke at the European Parliament on Wednesday, addressing the facts of forcible transfers of Ukrainian citizens to Russia, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

The European Union demands that “any checks and filtrations, and any detention that may follow such checks, takes place in a legal framework respecting the principles of necessity and proportionality,” said Borrell. He also stressed that forcible transfers of civilians are prohibited under International Humanitarian Law, notably the Geneva Convention.”

Zelenskyy on Izium and Balakliia: we are seeing the same thing as in Bucha, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that during the occupation of Izium and Balakliia in Kharkiv Oblast, the Russians behaved the same way they did in Kyiv oblast early in the war: they tortured residents and destroyed kindergartens and schools, as well as other infrastructure.“

Person’s death from torture at police station confirmed in liberated Balakliia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “Ukrainian law enforcement officers have confirmed the fact of the death of a person as a result of torture on the premises of the Balakliia police station, which was previously controlled by Russian occupiers. People, including women, had to sleep on the floor, and during interrogations they were tortured with electric current.

Currently, we have one confirmed death of a person as a result of torture. We know the profile data of the victim and the place of burial, so we will carry out an exhumation for further procedural actions.”

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 204: Russia strikes a dam in Kryvyi Rih, residents evacuated ~~

384 children were killed, 750 children injured, 7,716 deported by foe forces, and 230 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of September 15. 2,480 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 289 of them are destroyed fully. 33,916 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 15,637 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

Almost 5,000 Ukrainian recruits complete training in Britain, Ukrinform reports. “Almost 5,000 Ukrainian military servicemen have undergone training on British soil. That’s according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Currently, with the involvement of instructors from Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, almost 5,000 of our servicemen have successfully completed training. They have gained basic knowledge, skills, and abilities in tactical medicine, engineering, live-fire, psychological, and tactical training, including in running offensive and defensive missions in an urban setting, the statement reads.”

Germany handed over four more Gepards and 65 medical refrigerators to Ukraine, European Pravda reports. “Over the past week, Germany has handed over four more Gepard anti-aircraft self-propelled guns to Ukraine, bringing their total to 24. Another six Gepard units are being prepared for shipment to Ukraine. In addition, 65 medical refrigerators were handed over in addition to the previous two items.

In July, Germany also provided Ukraine with three M270 MARS rocket launchers. Ten PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and 10,500 shells for them were handed over to Kyiv in the summer.

Earlier, the Welt outlet reported that Scholz had declined the request by Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to supply additional heavy weapons, including Leopard 2 tanks, in particular. Chancellor Olaf Scholz who represents the Social Democratic Party of Germany stood against providing Ukraine with the Western tanks, indicating that even big NATO partners were not supplying tanks directly, and that Germany did not want to do it alone.” [ME: Poland and the Czech Republic have already supplied Ukraine with 230 tanks.]

Russia is supplying Ukraine with lightly used tanks, Foreign Policy reports. “Ukraine’s military has captured over 200 Russian vehicles in a more than weeklong offensive that has seen the war-torn country reconquer most of Kharkiv Oblast, a Ukrainian military official told Foreign Policy. The harvest of Russian armour is something that Ukraine now plans to use against the flagging Russian military. […] Open-source tracker Oryx found that the captured Russian equipment varied from BMP-2 amphibious infantry fighting vehicles to scores of tanks, including T-80 variant tanks that date back to the 1980s, which experts pegged at about half of the combat-ready inventory. […]

“The US didn’t start their Lend-Lease program, but instead of the US, the Russian government started a Lend-Lease program for Ukrainian forces,” the official added, referring to the World War II-era program to provide US allies with food, oil, and materiel that has been revived for Ukraine. […] The capture of perhaps hundreds more modern and Soviet-era Russian vehicles comes as Ukrainian officials are pressing the Biden administration at high levels to send advanced Western main battle tanks to Ukraine, as the war-torn country has shown a higher degree of capability with tank and armored vehicle assaults against poorly defended Russian positions over the course of the lightning offensive. […]

The Ukrainian military official who spoke to Foreign Policy said modern NATO-grade battle tanks, such as the M1 Abrams or German Leopards, were high on the list of Kyiv’s requests to the United States and European countries at the Ramstein conference last week. The German Leopards appear more amenable to European armies versed on similar kit.”

Ukraine to Germany: Send armoured vehicles to keep pressure on Russia, The Washington Post reports. “Ukraine’s ability to expel Russian forces from its country as soon as possible now depends largely on Germany and its willingness to send desperately needed armour, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday. But Germany is balking, causing deep frustration in Kyiv. It is an echo of the earliest days of the invasion when Berlin was derided for offering helmets when Ukraine needed heavy weapons.

“Germany needs to understand that the timeline for the end of the war is dependent on its position,” Mykhailo Podoliak, a top adviser to Zelensky, told The Washington Post in an interview on Tuesday. […]  But Germany, so far, has been unwilling to grant the request. The German government did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night, but has emphasized it is coordinating its response with allies. No country has delivered Western-built infantry fighting vehicles or main battle tanks so far, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said at an event in Berlin this week. We have agreed with our partners that Germany will not take such action unilaterally.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1570114616897814528

New Developments 

  1. Kremlin comments on Ukraine’s security guarantees proposal: Ukraine’s desire to join NATO threatens Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. The Office of the President presented recommendations on security guaranteesfor Ukraine within the framework of the Kyiv Security Compact on 13 September. “On Wednesday, Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the President of Russia, said that no one is hiding that they mean this document in order for Ukraine to join NATO, that is, the goal of NATO membership remains. Therefore, the main threat to our country remains, and one of the reasons that made it necessary to carry out the special military operation remains, and becomes even more relevant.”
  2. European Commission President: Putin will fail, Ukraine and Europe will prevail, Ukrainska PravdaMuch is at stake here. Not just for Ukraine – but all of Europe and the world at large. And we will be tested. Tested by those who want to exploit any kind of divisions between us. This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future. This is about autocracy against democracy,” von der Leyen said. She added that “with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will prevail.”
  3. Time for EU further expand Russia sanctions, von der Leyen says, UkrinformTough economic restrictions imposed by the European Union on Russia are the response to the Kremlin’s aggression toward Ukraine, and now it’s time to continue and increase sanction pressure, not appease the aggressor. That’s according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, delivering her State of the Union address.”
  4. Government Has a Plan on How to Complete Negotiations with EU in Two Years – Ukraine’s Prime Minister, European Pravda The technical part of negotiations on Ukraine’s EU accession may take only two years, which would set a record for candidate countries, according to Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal. “Such negotiations usually last 5-7-8 years. Our ambition is to complete them much faster, in two years, he said. According to the Prime Minister, the society’s consensus on Ukraine’s European future should help achieve this. The government has already developed a road map to complete this path in two years. Denys Shmyhal does not rule out that the political part of the negotiations may last longer.”
  5. China vowed to maintain the integrity of Kazakhstan, ua reports. “Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting with Kazakh President Kasim-Zhomart Tokayev promised to support the independence and integrity of Kazakhstan. At the same time, the head of the People’s Republic of China promised to “categorically oppose the interference of any forces in the internal affairs” of Kazakhstan, “regardless of the international situation.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 14 September 2022:

The Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Kharkiv Oblast continues to degrade Russian forces and threaten Russian artillery and air defences. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on September 14 that the intensity of Russian artillery attacks on Kharkiv City has decreased significantly, suggesting that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has degraded Russian forces’ ability to conduct routine artillery strikes on the center of Kharkiv City as Russian forces have been pushed eastward towards the Oskil River and north back into Russia.  Ukrainian advances in eastern Ukraine have likely forced Russian forces to pull air defences further away from the frontlines in order to protect those systems from Ukrainian artillery fire, potentially exposing frontline Russian troops to air attacks. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on September 14 that Russian convoys carrying S-300 and Buk systems moved through Lutuhine, Luhansk Oblast in the direction of the Russian border on September 11 and 12.

Russian sources continued to discuss limited Ukrainian ground attacks in eastern Kharkiv, northern Donetsk, and western Luhansk Oblasts. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian and proxy forces are defending against Ukrainian attacks on Lyman in northern Donetsk Oblast. Russian sources also reported that fighting is ongoing in Bilohorivka (along the Donetsk-Luhansk Oblast border) and in nearby settlements around Siversk. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian troops attempted to attack in Spirne (12km south of Bilohorivka), likely in an attempt to push northwards and threaten Ukrainian forces in Bilohorivka.

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast). Ukrainian military sources maintained their operational silence on September 14. Kherson Oblast Council Head Oleksandr Samoilenko announced that Ukrainian forces have liberated Kyselivka, approximately 23km northwest of Kherson City, but Ukrainian military officials have not confirmed the liberation of the settlement at this time. ISW has not seen any visual evidence supporting Samoilenko‘s statement. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian strikes are continuously undermining Russian efforts to repair the Kakhovka Bridge over the Dnipro River and have rendered the Darivka pontoon bridge over the Inhulets River impassable. Ukrainian forces have reportedly continued to target Russian crossings near the Antonivka area and are firing at Russian convoys. Ukrainian forces maintained their interdiction campaign, reportedly targeting Russian manpower and equipment concentration points in Hola Prystan (approximately 12km southwest of Kherson City), Dudchany, and Mylove (both on the T0403 highway). The Southern Operational Command also stated that Ukrainian forces inflicted damage on four ammunition depots in Kherson Raion. The Ukrainian General Staff also noted that Russian forces continued to house troops in residential areas, specifically in the Chaplynka Raion north of the Kherson Oblast-Crimea border. […]

Ukrainian and Russian sources identified three main areas of kinetic activity on September 14: northwest of Kherson City, around the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River, and south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Border near Vysokopillya. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces have adopted defensive measures near Posad-Pokrovske (about 30km northwest of Kherson City) and are conducting probing operations by firing at Russian defenses in Blahodatne and Barvinok (just south of Posad-Pokrovske). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults on Novohryhorivka (29km northwest of Kherson City) and Bezimenne near the Inhulets River. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces shelled Mala Seideminukha and Novohredevne—both settlements near the Inhulets just south of Blahodativka—which indicates that Ukrainian troops have advanced further west from within the Sukhyi Stavok pocket. […] A milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces are attacking Arkhanhelske (southwest of Vysokopillya) and Kostyrka (southeast of Vysokopillya). 

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is being established as the face of the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine. Prigozhin gave a recruitment speech on September 14 announcing that Russian prisoners have been participating in the war since July 1 when they were instrumental in seizing the Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant. A Russian milblogger noted that Prigozhin is introducing a “Stalinist” method that allows the Kremlin to avoid ordering a general mobilization that could ignite social tensions in Russian society. Milbloggers have been consistently praising Prigozhin’s success in Ukraine and some even said that he should replace the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, whom milbloggers and Kremlin pundits blame for the Russian defeat around Kharkiv Oblast. Russian military correspondent and milblogger Maksim Fomin (alias Vladlen Tatarsky) claimed to have spoken to Prigozhin about the situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border after the withdrawal of Russian forces in the area. The Prigozhin-Fomin meeting, if it occurred, could indicate that the Kremlin is attempting to address milbloggers’ months-long complaints that the Russian Defense Ministry did not hear their criticism highlighting the ineffectiveness of Russian higher command. Prigozhin is Putin’s close confidant, and his developing relationship with milbloggers may help retain milblogger support for the Kremlin’s war effort while scapegoating Shoigu and the Russian Defense Ministry for the defeat around Kharkiv Oblast. ISW previously assessed that the Kremlin has changed its information approach to address the demands of the Russian milbloggers and nationalists’, suggesting that Putin seeks to win back the critical milblogger community alienated by Russian failures.

Russian forces likely targeted Ukrainian hydrotechnical infrastructure in western Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on September 14 to interfere with Ukrainian operations across the Inhulets River. Ukrainian sources reported that eight Russian cruise missiles struck unspecified targets in Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, and caused extensive flooding in areas of Kryvyi Rih. Russian sources identified the target location as the Karachun Dam, which sits along the Inhulets River on the western outskirts of Kryvyi Rih. Footage of the aftermath of the strike shows a 2.5m increase in the water level of the Inhulets River, which runs south of Kryvyi Rih and is an important geographical feature for the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive along the Kherson-Mykolaiv border. Russian forces likely targeted the Karachun Dam to damage Ukrainian pontoon bridges further downstream, especially in light of recent reports that Ukrainian troops are attempting to expand their bridgehead over the Inhulets River near Davydiv Brid as part of the ongoing Kherson counteroffensive.

Key Takeaways

  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is being established as the face of the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces likely targeted Ukrainian hydrotechnical infrastructure in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in order to interfere with Ukraine’s ability to operate across the Inhulets River
  • The Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Kharkiv Oblast continues to degrade Russian forces and threaten Russian artillery and air defenses.
  • Russian and Ukrainian sources reported Ukrainian ground attacks in northern Kherson Oblast, western Kherson Oblast, and northwest of Kherson City but did not report any major gains.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut and northwest and southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Funding volunteer battalions is likely placing financial strain on Russian cities and oblasts.

Russian occupation authorities shut off mobile internet in occupied Luhansk Oblast on September 14, likely to preserve Russian operational security and better control the information environment as Russian forces, occupation officials, and collaborators flee newly-liberated Kharkiv Oblast for Russian and Russian-controlled territories.”

30-40% chance of a collapse in the Russian army, says retired Air Marshal, Sky News reports. “Retired RAF Air Marshal Edward Stringer, the ex-director-general of the Defence Academy and director-general of Joint Force Development, Strategic Command, told Sky’s Kay Burley he previously thought the war would go into next year, but things have changed on the ground.

He said: “I do not see that the Russians will be able to rebuild their armed forces to be able to re-seize the initiative and retake the offensive again. And so now we are into seeing how this develops on the ground and one hopes that Zelenskyy will be in a position where he can start to negotiate favourable terms and perhaps even defeat the entire Russian invasion of his country

Eventually, all conflicts end in negotiation. One has to calibrate to what extent you have to keep channels open and to what extent you allow him (Putin) to think that he’s still part of the family of nations.

I always thought it would go into next year. I think it is possible now, and one hates to be the person that says it will all be over by Christmas, but it is possible now that there could be a collapse in the Russian armed forces… it’s a good 30-40%, and that calls into question the future of Putin, Putinism, and the West should think very strongly now about what the world looks like post-Putin.”

In the article “Ukrainian Balakliya-Kupyansk Offensive: Sequence of Events, Mechanics and Consequences”, published in Jamestown Foundation, Mykola Bielieskov makes an excellent assessment of the offensive in Kharkiv oblast. “Ukrainian forces’ Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive operation (September 6–12) could likely be treated as the turning point in the all-out Ukrainian-Russian war—when Ukraine gained the initiative. […] Although an unexpected turn of events for the majority of observers, the offensive was not a miracle but rather a simultaneous demonstration of Russian forces’ growing degradation and Ukrainian formations’ improved professionality and exceptional staff work, as successful counteroffensives are some of the most challenging manoeuvres.

The Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive followed a template of classic World War II operations. It consisted of two distinct phases: penetration of the enemy’s tactical defence in depth and exploitation of penetration with a follow-on echelon. During the penetration phase (September 6–7), Ukrainian forces managed to breach the Russian front line to the north and northeast of Balakliya—near Verbivka and Volokhiv Yar. Through this hole in Russia’s defences, an exploitation echelon of Ukrainian forces was directed toward the Shevchenkove-Kupyansk axis through the critical P07 roadway […].

A number of outcomes in the Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive operation are especially noteworthy. First, the speed with which Ukrainian forces managed to penetrate Russia’s tactical defence in depth was quite impressive. This might be explained by the fact that Russians lack proper manpower to create so-called “defence in depth.” The front line was thinly manned with Special Rapid Response (SOBR) units (falling under Rosgvardia), which were primarily created to combat organized crime and terrorism and definitively not for high-intensity interstate warfare […].

Second, the agility of Ukrainian forces’ advances during the exploitation phase was another masterful success. This can be largely explained by Moscow’s significant lack of ready reserves—with many of the Russian forces directed to southern Ukraine anticipating an offensive there. At the same time, Russian forces in Izium were pinned down by Ukrainian frontal assaults (near Lyman), which prevented the grouping from being redeployed toward Kupyansk […].

Third, Ukrainian forces during the exploitation phase emphasized swiftness of movement along major roads to quickly reach Kupyansk, rather than liberate settlements along the way; as such, Balakliya was fully secured by September 8 […]. Through expeditious maneuvers, Ukrainian units managed to isolate the zone of operation and sever major ground lines of communication (GLOCs) for orderly withdrawal, creating panic among Russia’s rear forces and causing them to flee without heavy weaponry and ammunition.

Finally, the direction of Ukraine’s major flanking strike was chosen quite wisely. Through the strike to the north-northeast of Balakliya toward Kupyansk, Ukraine threatened the Izium salient to the southeast of Balakliya and, by this single stroke, unhinged the entire Russian front line in Kharkiv region. Meanwhile, owing to the fact that the Oskil Reservoir limited Ukrainian advances and protected offensive forces from hypothetical Russian countermeasures, as well as limited options for Russian units’ organized withdrawal from Izium. In other words, the Ukrainian military command managed to exploit geographical features and front-line configurations to its advantage.

With the Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive, Ukrainian forces demonstrated the advantages of maneuver warfare (bewegungskrieg). Swiftness of action along major lines of communications—Ukrainian forces covered 75 km toward Kupyansk in three days—led to the complete collapse of the Russian front line and unorganized withdrawal of units. The offensive’s accomplishments are especially impressive in light of the fact that Ukrainian forces are still grappling with a deficit of critical artillery and armour and lack air superiority, which is considered an essential requirement for any successful offensive operation. […]

In its offensive operation, the Ukrainian side recovered most of the lost territories in the Kharkiv region. At the same time, the threat of a Sloviansk envelopment was removed as the Izium salient hovering over this city has been reduced to zero. […] Most of all, the Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive was a major strategic coup for Kyiv, as successful actions on the ground debunked the consensus that the Ukrainian-Russian war will be a protracted stalemate in which neither side is able to attain key political objectives by major offensive operations […]. Kyiv is quickly demonstrating that it is increasingly possible for Ukrainian forces to recover all the briefly occupied territories and win this war.

In the article “With successful Kharkiv operation, Ukraine turns the war in its favor” published in KyivPost, Illia Ponomarenko offers another great assessment of the Kharkiv offensive. “In warfare, there’s no such thing as a miracle. Yet what happened in early September in the east of Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast may ascend in history as the Miracle on the Oskil River. Within a few days, a Ukrainian strike prompted the collapse of the Russian front in the region.

To escape a crushing defeat, the Kremlin’s forces were forced to withdraw in a stampede from the territory they had held since March. Ukraine’s offensive operation has done more than liberate most of Kharkiv Oblast, as Ukrainian units approach the Russian border.

It has exceeded the most optimistic of expectations and rendered one of Russia’s strongest military groupings disorganized and combat ineffective. The battle is an operational success and is bound to have long-lasting consequences for Russia.

The loss of Kupiansk and Izium, the two transportation hubs, pulls the plug on Russia’s chances of seizing the entire eastern region of Donbas, comprised of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The collapse also jeopardized Russian defences in northern Donetsk Oblast, paving the way for new successful attacks by Ukrainian forces in the east.

The war’s third phase opens with Ukraine regaining the initiative.  Experts say Ukraine has turned the war’s tide in its favour, while Russia’s power will likely continue to decline in the coming months. With everyone’s attention fixed on the anticipated Ukrainian counter-strike in Kherson Oblast, the blitz in Kharkiv Oblast came as a surprise.

In late August, when Ukraine’s military eventually started its offensive operation in the south, some 25 to 30 Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) stood in its way. The Russian forces redeployed to Kherson Oblast included its most-effective airborne units, known in Russia as VDV. Since Russia still falls short of sufficient quality manpower to hold the 1,000-kilometer front line in Ukraine, those units were relocated to Kherson Oblast at the expense of other frontline sections.

Ukraine’s military persuaded the Russian command that Kherson would be its counter-offensive’s primary, and likely only, axis. Indeed, experts doubted Ukraine had enough weaponry and hardware for a successful major strike at one frontline section, let alone two or more. Ukraine has performed well in this battle with operational security (OPSEC), keeping its adversary poorly informed regarding its planned maneuvers and capabilities. And when the time came, many of Russia’s best combat formations ended up isolated in Kherson, with all bridges crossing the Dnipro River ruined as their backs were turned. 

The destruction of these bridges means there is no way for Russian forces to withdraw, and there will be a drastic decrease in reinforcements and resupply due to a forced reliance on less effective pontoon crossings across the Dnipro.

Then came something few had expected. On Sept. 6, Ukrainian forces launched a rapid advance on Balakliia, Kharkiv Oblast, a city with a pre-war population of 27,000 that Russian troops had occupied since early March. One of Kharkiv Oblast’s transport hubs, Balakliia also hosts a giant ammunition depot known as the 65th Arsenal. […]

Counteroffensive. Source: The Kyiv Independent. ~

Counteroffensive. Source: The Kyiv Independent.

The Ukrainian advance bypassed local cities, leaving Russian garrisons isolated and cut off from their main forces. […] Highly mobile Ukrainian reconnaissance units moved fast ahead of the main Ukrainian forces in Russian-controlled territory using light vehicles, such as US-provided Humvees. They engaged Russian forces sporadically, wreaking havoc and trying to convince Russian troops that they were attacking from every direction.

The occasional Russian garrison showed little to no resistance in communities along the way. […] Russia’s weak Rosgravriya and special police units, short on heavy weaponry, managed to flee Balakliia in time. 

While this was already a success, the Ukrainian blitz liberated the town of Shevchenkove, yet another vital junction, followed by the city of Kupiansk, the operation’s greatest possible prize. Kupiansk, a major railroad hub, was at the heart of Russia’s vital ground line of communication between its territory and occupied Donbas. Cutting off Kupiansk meant derailing Russian supplies in its most critical frontline sector. […] The Russian front line in Kharkiv Oblast just collapsed within days. 

The Russian command, taken by surprise, had no choice but to order their combat units to withdraw. Russian soldiers abandoned swathes of hardware and munitions as they hastily left under heavy Ukrainian fire. 

Early on Sept. 9, Ukrainian forces entered Kupiansk. While this was anticipated to be the operation’s most ambitious goal, the rapid Russian collapse made it possible and opened up new opportunities. Two additional Ukrainian strikes from the north and the south put the city of Izium – the most vital Russian-controlled settlement in the region – in the crosshairs. To avoid being surrounded, some 10,000 Russian troops in Izium were forced to leave overnight by Sept. 10.

Within a few days, Russia lost its essential pressure point in the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk area of Donetsk Oblast. A Russian advance south from Izium could have cut the entirety of Donbas from the rest of Ukraine and corner the largest Ukrainian military group into a death trap. Without this critical axis, the chances are high that Russia has lost its only realistic option to seize the rest of Donetsk Oblast, which Russia has repeatedly stated as its primary goal in Ukraine. […]

The collapse of the Kupiansk-Izium line precipitated Russia’s immediate withdrawal from most of Kharkiv Oblast. Ukraine regained control of almost all of the region’s border with Russia and some 6,000 square kilometers of its territory. This is the most significant Ukrainian victory since the Battle of Kyiv in early April. […]

Rapid Ukrainian maneuvers put Russian forces under grave threat of isolation and total disorientation. According to Conflict Intelligence Team, an online Russian investigation group, two large Russian formations in the area, the 11th Army Corps and the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, were rendered disorganized and ineffective due to the battle. […] Now, severely degraded, the 1st Guards and other formations of Russia’s Western Military District withdraw from Ukraine, the ministry said on Sept. 13, so Russia’s conventional force designed to counter NATO is severely weakened, and “it will take years for Russia to rebuild this capability.” 

“Ukraine has turned the tide of this war in its favour,” said the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US-based defence think tank, in its Sept. 12 report. “Kyiv will likely increasingly dictate the location and nature of the major fighting, and Russia will find itself increasingly responding inadequately to growing Ukrainian physical and psychological pressure in successive military campaigns unless Moscow finds some way to regain the initiative.”

Experts now believe that Ukrainian pressure in Kherson Oblast, combined with its rapid counter-offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, presents Russian forces with a terrible dilemma. “Russia likely lacks sufficient reserve forces to complete the formation of a new defensive line along the Oskil River… Prudence would demand that Russia pulls forces from other sectors of the battlespace to establish defensive lines further east than the Oskil River to ensure that it can hold the Luhansk Oblast border.”

The Kremlin continues its meaningless, unsuccessful attacks near Bakhmut and Donetsk, refusing to redeploy those forces to mitigate possible new Ukrainian advances across the Oskil River or Kherson. At the same time, it can’t afford to compromise its Kherson defences for the sake of the Oskil River area. “Russian President Vladimir Putin risks making a common but deadly mistake by waiting too long to order reinforcements to the Luhansk line,” the ISW said. “The Ukrainian campaign appears intended to present Putin with precisely such a dilemma and to benefit from almost any decision he makes.”

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Ukraine wants security guarantees from the West Paving its way to NATO – Proposal Details, European Pravda reports. “On September 13, the Office of the President of Ukraine presented the concept of security guarantees for Ukraine. It was developed by international advisers headed by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The document is better than all previous ones on this matter. It does not contain proposals that were most unacceptable to Western partners. In particular, China was removed from the list of potential guarantors of Ukraine. Rasmussen insists on the inadmissibility of its role as a guarantor. However, the proposal still contains controversial points.

Kyiv offers a multi-level security system from several multilateral and bilateral treaties. The main document was named the Kyiv Security Compact. The project will be presented to the guarantor states and finalized in cooperation with them. The Zelensky administration aims to sign it by the end of 2022. It is not unrealistic. This structure of guarantees can be provided to Ukraine even in times of war. […] The purpose of the Security Compact is to provide temporary security guarantees for Ukraine until its accession to the Alliance. But certain positions of the agreement will remain in force even after the accession. […]

All the guarantor states are NATO members, with Australia as the only exception. […] This is a framework agreement. The Compact does not include specific obligations of the guarantor states (such as “the number of aircraft that country X will supply if Ukraine is attacked”). Each guarantor will add their specifics later. The crucial difference between the Compact and previous initiatives is that it does not contradict Ukraine’s course of joining NATO. On the contrary, this is a certain synergy between these processes. […]

Published legal explanations say that the “compact” is offset by other bilateral and multilateral documents that will form a complex ecosystem of security guarantees. The Kyiv Security Compact should be supplemented by bilateral agreements with the guarantor states – the USA, the UK, etc., which will be ratified and contain specific obligations to support Ukraine and supply it with weapons, intelligence data, etc., in the event of another attack by Russia.

“There will also be sectoral agreements. For example, there may be a separate agreement on security in the Black Sea. We envisage a separate agreement to defend the sky, which will ensure the supply of air defence systems,” Yermak added. This approach removes the key problem – the different readiness of various partner states to assist in a new attack on Ukraine.

All decisions are proposed to be adopted, bypassing the UN Security Council. They should write down clear deadlines for decision-making (for example, no more than 24 hours in case of Ukraine’s notification about an attack). “The main difference by the compact is that the guarantor states undertake to supply Ukraine with what it needs for defence, including weapons, Rasmussen said.”

Hans Petter Midttun: On 14 September, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated that:

Much is at stake here. Not just for Ukraine – but all of Europe and the world at large. And we will be tested. Tested by those who want to exploit any kind of divisions between us. This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future. This is about autocracy against democracy,” von der Leyen said. She added that “with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will prevail.”

The statement is crucial, potentially representing a turning point in the war. It is the first time Europe acknowledge that the Russian war is not a “Russian-Ukrainian war” only.

It is a truly important acknowledgement because the US and NATO have consistently argued that “boots on the ground” are not an option as it would escalate the so-called “Russian-Ukrainian war” into a broader confrontation between Russia and NATO. The President of the European Commission is in essence telling the world that this confrontation is already taking place.

The statement is very much in line with the assessment of the European Parliament from 16 September 2021 – one year ago tomorrow – stressing that Russia was waging hybrid warfare against the EU, its Member States and the EaP countries.

It is noteworthy that the acknowledgement of a broader conflict between Russia and the West comes days after the amazing success of the Ukrainian “Blitz Krieg” in Kharkiv and as its defence forces are in the process of liberating all of Mykolaiv and the west bank of the Kherson Oblast.

Russian forces on the west side of Dnipro, suffering from degraded ground lines of communication, and a lack of logistic support and reinforcements, are facing the risk of being forced to surrender.

Russia lacks the military forces it needs to both reinforce its line of defence along the Oskil River in the Kharkiv Oblast, continue its offensive in Donetsk Oblast and reinforce its forces in Kherson Oblast.

Additionally, having greatly degraded the Russian military power during the last 7 months, Ukraine has also “undressed” its lack of professionalism, its technical and logistics flaws, and in the process, inflicted a huge psychological blow to the soldiers’ motivation to continue the unjust war.

The statement by Ursula von der Leyen and the amazing achievement of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the National Guard and Territorial Defence Forces might ultimately signify a change in strategy by the US and NATO. Contradicting past strategic messaging that Western intervention in Ukraine would trigger a broader confrontation,  Von der Leyen is arguing that this already is a broader confrontation between Russia and the West which logically, opens the door for humanitarian intervention.

This would fundamentally shift the military balance in Ukraine’s favour, possibly convincing Russia that peace is preferable to continued war and that a new president is a better alternative to Putin.

I remain hopeful that our heads of state will turn out to be “brave as Ukrainians”

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