Russo Ukrainian War. Day 224: Ukrainian army liberates more areas in Kharkiv and Kherson areas

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukrainian army liberates more areas in Kharkiv and Kherson areas. Ukrainian troops liberate 1,534 settlements since the first phase of the invasion endedю Russian soldiers are massively surrendering. A secret poll run by Kremlin proves a negative attitude among Russians to military call-up. At least 600,000 flee Russia following military call-up announcement. Sweden sends diving vessel to probe leaking Nord Stream pipelines. Energoatom looks into restarting reactors at Russian-held nuclear plant. Zelenskyy considers Putin’s orders to be null and void. The new US defence aid package for Ukraine includes 4 HIMARS, 16 155mm howitzers. Finland preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine. Ukraine to receive almost $530M from World Bank.

Daily overview — Summary report, October 5

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, October 5, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below

Situation in Ukraine. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW.

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“Russian forces are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, concentrates efforts on attempts to disrupt the active actions of the Defence Forces in certain directions, does not stop conducting offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka directions. Russian forces are regrouping units of his troops in separate directions.

Russian forces fire at the positions of our troops along the contact line, conducts remote mining of certain areas of the territory and conduct aerial reconnaissance. Strikes civilian infrastructure and civilian homes, violating international humanitarian law, laws and customs of war.

There remains the threat of air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine. For example, during the past day, the occupiers launched 9 missile strikes, 6 airstrikes and more than 56 MLRS attacks.

Objects and populations of more than 27 settlements were damaged by enemy strikes. In particular, Kharkiv, Shypuvate, Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, Mayorsk, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Andriyivka, Bilohirka, Voznesensk, Prydniprovske.

Donetsk Battle Map. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW.

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

Russian forces fired in other directions:

  • in the Siversky direction – from artillery, in the areas of Pysarivka and Holyshivske settlements of the Sumy oblast;
Kharkiv Battle Map. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Slobozhansk direction – from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Hraniv, Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, Vovchansk and Bilyi Kolodyaz;
  • in the Kramatorsk direction – from mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Bilohorivka, Serebryanka and Spirne.
  • In the direction of Bakhmut, Russian forces shelled the areas of Soledar, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Odradivka, Zaytseve, Opytne, Yakovlivka and Yuryivka.
  • In the Avdiyivka, Novopavlivsk, and Zaporizhzhia directions, the infrastructure of more than 24 settlements was damaged by enemy shelling from tanks, mortars, barrel and rocket artillery, including Avdiyivka, Vodyane, Maryinka, Novopil, Olhivske, Pervomaiske.
  • In the Pivdennyy Buh direction, the areas of Vyshchetarasivka, Dobra Nadiya, Illinka, Marhanets, Chervonohryhorivka, Nikopol, Pokrovske, Velyke Artakove, Andriyivka, Stepova Dolyna, Bezymenne, Myrne, Luch, Shyroke, Bilohirka and Lozove.

Over the past 24 hours, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of the settlements of Strilecha, Zelene, Mayorsk, Spirne, Zaytseve, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Kurdyumivka, Novomykhailivka, and Vuhledar. [Yesterday, units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Mayorsk, Vyimka, Spirne, Ozeryanivka, Zaytseve, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Vesele, Pervomaiske and Novomykhailivka.]

On the evening of October 3, 202, the Defense Forces of Ukraine struck Russian pontoon and ferry crossings across the Dnipro River in the Kherson region. The total losses of Russian forces are being clarified.

The destruction of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in the area of ​​the city of Tokmak, as well as the destruction of enemy positions in the areas of the settlements of Hulyaipole and Orihiv of the Zaporizhzhia region, has been confirmed.

Aviation of the Defense Forces carried out 17 strikes during the day. It was confirmed that 4 strongholds, 11 areas of concentration of weapons and military equipment, as well as 2 anti-aircraft missile systems of Russian forces were hit. In addition, our air defence units shot down one enemy helicopter and 2 UAVs in different directions.

Missile troops and artillery struck 2 control points, 4 areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, one anti-aircraft missile complex, as well as a bridge and pontoon crossing of Russian forces.

During Russian forces’ abandonment of settlements in the Kherson region, Russian forces mined infrastructure facilities and private residences and prohibits any movement of local residents.

According to available information, in the temporarily occupied territory of the Republic of Crimea, in the medical facilities of the city of Yevpatoria, there is a lack of medical equipment for the treatment of wounded occupiers.

Russian forces have problems with certain types of support during the so-called “partial mobilization“. Thus, mobilized personnel from the Molkino educational centre of the Krasnodar Territory were sent back to Primorsko-Akhtarsk due to the inability to house, clothe and provide food for the specified category of servicemen.

Russian occupation authorities are trying to compensate for the loss of personnel at the expense of conscription of the local population of the temporarily occupied and occupied territories of Ukraine. Thus, according to the available information, men from Luhansk, without conducting a medical commission and training, after mobilization are immediately sent to replenish the units that suffered the greatest losses.

[The so-called “partial mobilization” measures are ongoing in the Russian Federation. According to available information, the Kazan manpower centre is forming and manning three motorized rifle and two artillery regiments with the funds of the Kazan Higher Tank Command School.]

[Despite ongoing mobilization measures, the Russian side does not stop the practice of using private military campaigns on the territory of Ukraine, staffed by persons recruited in places of deprivation of liberty. Thus, in the temporarily occupied territory of the Luhansk region, in the so-called “training centres”, the training of the specified category of persons continues for their further referral to the front line.]

[According to updated information, on October 3 of this year, up to thirty enemy targets were confirmed to have been hit by the Defence Forces in the south of Ukraine. Russian forces are demoralized, leave positions, retreat to a safe distance, destroy ammunition stocks, and try to destroy bridges and crossings. All this – to slow down the pace of the offensive of our troops.]“

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 4, 2022. Source: ISW.

Military Updates

Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate two more villages in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated the villages of Bohuslavka and Borivska Andriivka in Kharkiv Oblast from the Russian occupiers.”

More settlements have been liberated in the Kherson region, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “The settlements of Lyubimivka, Khreshchenivka, Zolota Balka, Bilyaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka Oleksandrivka, Mala Oleksandrivka and Davidiv Brid were liberated from the occupiers and stabilized. We continue…”.

Russians destroy ammunition and bridges to slow down Ukraine Army’s attacks in southern districts, Ukrinform reports, citing Operational Command South. “In certain areas on the frontline, in response to the Ukrainian Army’s counteroffensive, Russian troops are regrouping, attempting to bring up reserves, and sometimes leaving positions to retreat to a safer distance. In addition, Russians were confirmed to have been destroying their own ammunition stocks and attempting to destroy bridges and crossings to slow down the Ukrainian Army’s attacks.

On October 4, 2022, Russia’s Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters were shot down by the Ukrainian military in the Kherson region, near Kostromka and Bruskinske. Over the past day, Russian losses have been as follows: 31 Russian troops and over 40 military equipment units, including eight tanks, 26 armoured vehicles, and 2 howitzers. In addition, the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defence units destroyed three Russian Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Beryslav district and the Mykolaiv district.

In general, Ukrainian air forces have launched seven strikes on enemy positions over the past day. Ukraine’s missile and artillery units completed 290 fire missions.”

Ukrainian troops liberate 1,534 settlements since the first phase of the invasion ended, Ukrinform reports, citing the Deputy Head of the President’s Office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. “Wherever Russian forces have been driven out, de-occupation measures are underway. A total of 1,534 settlements have already been de-occupied. In the territory of Donetsk, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions, the operations of state authorities are being restored, he said.

Tymoshenko added that 483 settlements have been liberated in the Kharkiv region, informing that the investigative units of the National Police are taking measures to register facts of war crimes committed there.”

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

  • Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River. Ukrainian formations have advanced up to 20 km beyond the river into Russia’s defensive zone towards the supply node of the town of Svatove.
  • It is highly likely that Ukraine can now strike the key Svatove-Kremina road with most of its artillery systems, further straining Russia’s ability to resupply its units in the east.
  • Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed to have formally annexed last Friday.
  • On 30 September 2022 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order for the routine autumn conscription cycle, which aims to train 120,000 conscripts. These conscripts are legally not permitted to be deployed outside of Russia. This is separate from those individuals being mobilised as part of the 21 September 2022 partial mobilisation order.
  • The conscription cycle will begin on 01 November 2022, a month later than usual. The late start to the cycle is an indication of growing pressures on Russia’s ability to train and equip a large number of new conscripted personnel.
  • The challenges of accommodating, training, equipping and deploying mobilised and conscripted personnel are significant. Deficiencies within the Russian administrative and logistical systems will continue to undermine these efforts.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Wednesday 5 October, 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 61000 (+200),
  • Tanks – 2435 (+11),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5038 (+20),
  • Artillery systems – 1414 (+7),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 341 (+1),
  • Air defence means – 177 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 266 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 232 (+4),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3841 (+18),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1032 (+4),
  • Special equipment – 132 (+1),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 246 (+0)

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

Russian soldiers are massively surrendering, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) reports. “On the air of FREEDOM TV Channel, Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, told about how the state project “I Want to Live” saves lives and explained how Russian soldiers can surrender to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The representative of Ukraine’s military intelligence noted that the project has already received more than 2,000 requests through hotlines. Also, Andrii Yusov told about how the Russians can avoid being sent to the front in the case if a soldier has been already mobilised, as well as he emphasized that summonses were issued to 100,000 mobilised people in Russia, who are being sent to the most dangerous areas of the front.

Yusov said there had been a surge of requests after the successful counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kharkiv Oblast and the announcement of partial mobilisation in the Russian Federation. Then we started getting phone calls not just from soldiers who were on the territory of Ukraine as part of the occupation army, but also those who had just been mobilised and were still on the territory of the Russian Federation, or their relatives, or even people who suspected that they might be mobilised and were checking just in case. In a few weeks, we have already [received] more than 2,000 such requests.”

A secret poll run by Kremlin proves a negative attitude among Russians to military call-up – intelligence, Ukrinform reports, citing Guildhall and Oleksandr V. Danylyuk, head of the Center for Defense Reforms. “According to information received from a Ukrainian intelligence source in the Russian government, the Kremlin recently conducted a secret sociological study, which indicates an extremely negative attitude of the majority of Russian citizens towards military mobilization […].

52 percent of the respondents have a negative attitude towards mobilization, 35 percent have a neutral attitude, and 13 percent see it in a positive light. […] The vast majority of respondents with a positive attitude towards mobilization have no close relatives who have been called up for service, said the expert.

Among the main reasons for discontent over the call-up, the mobilized servicemen name the lack of equipment and medicines required for combat deployments, defective weapons and their poor condition, and lack of training, including for persons who have never previously served in the army, summed up Danylyuk.”

At least 600,000 flee Russia following military call-up announcement, Ukrinform reports, citing the Russian edition of Forbes. “Almost 1 million people have left Russia since the mobilization began, said a source familiar with Kremlin estimates. Another interlocutor in the presidential administration clarified that it is about 600,000-700,000 Russians. The calculation is complicated by the fact that it is impossible to clearly tell who is leaving the country to flee mobilization and who is crossing out for tourism or other purposes.

At the beginning of September, even before the mobilization was announced, the Rosstat statistics agency reported that 419,000 people had left Russia since war-start, which is twice as many as in the same period last year. In general, the migration outflow amounted to 96,000 against an increase of 114,000 in 2021.”

Humanitarian 

OHCHR recorded 1,222 civilian casualties in Ukraine for the period of September 1 to 30. 299 were killed (including 12 children) and 923 injured (including 59 children).

Environmental 

Sweden sends diving vessel to probe leaking Nord Stream pipelines, Reuters reports. “Sweden sent a diving vessel on Monday to the site of Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea that ruptured last week following blasts in the area, to probe an incident that has added new tension to Europe’s energy crisis. Europe is investigating what caused three pipelines in the Nord Stream network to burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters that Moscow quickly sought to pin on the West, suggesting the United States stood to gain.

Sweden’s prosecution authority said in a press release that it had designated the area as a crime scene. A spokesman for the Swedish coast guard confirmed in an email that there was now an exclusion zone of five nautical miles around the leaks.

Several European Union states have triggered emergency plans that may lead to rationing as they race to find alternative supplies, while Britain now faces a “significant risk” of gas shortages this winter, the regulator said. […]

Jolted by the Nord Stream ruptures, European countries have started strengthening security and surveillance around critical infrastructure that could be vulnerable to attack. Norway, Europe’s main gas supplier and a major oil exporter, said it had deployed soldiers to guard major onshore oil and gas processing plants.

Italy has strengthened surveillance and controls on underwater energy and telecommunications cables, a source told Reuters. Focus has also turned to the security of other gas supply lines. Eni, the biggest importer of Russian gas in Italy, at the weekend said Russia had halted all gas flows through the Tarvisio entry point, though its chief executive on Monday blamed the halt on short-term technical issues.

Energoatom looks into restarting reactors at Russian-held nuclear plant, Ukrinform reports. “Ukrainian state-run nuclear operator Energoatom is considering a move to restart two power units at Europe’s largest Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early March. The last operating reactor at the plant was shut down on September 11, Energoatom President Petro Kotin told the Associated Press.

The reactors could be restarted to ensure the NPP safety as the cold weather is about to set in. If you have low temperature, you will just freeze everything inside. The safety equipment will be damaged, he said in his office at the company’s Kyiv headquarters. So you need heating and the only heating is going to come from the working reactor, Kotin said in an interview. He added that the operator may approve the decision to restart the reactors as early as this Wednesday.”

Legal 

Zelenskyy considers Putin’s orders to be null and void, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing an order issued by Zelenskyy on 4 October. “The Russian President’s Orders No. 147 of 17 March 2014, No. 71 of 21 February 2022, No. 72 of 21 February 2022 and No. 685 of 29 September 2022 as well as any other decisions, acts and agreements introduced, published and signed based on and/or relating to the implementation of the aforementioned orders of the President of the Russian Federation must be recognized as null and void, i.e. having no legal effect.

Therefore, any decisions on the implementation of these orders will also be considered null and void.

The decree emphasises that the territory of Ukraine is integral and inviolable within its internationally recognised state borders, and that the sovereignty of Ukraine extends to its entire territory.”

418 children were killed, 787 children injured, 7,992 deported by foe forces, and 236 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of October 5. 2,562 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 295 of them are destroyed fully. As of October 4, 37,988 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 16,887 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

The new US defence aid package for Ukraine includes 4 HIMARS, 16 155mm howitzers, Ukrinform reports. “The US Department of Defense has published a detailed list of weapons and equipment that will be delivered to Ukraine as part of a new $625 million security assistance package. This authorization is the Biden Administration’s twenty-second drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

The package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated ammunition, 16 155mm howitzers, 75,000 155mm artillery rounds, 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) systems, 16 105mm howitzers, 30,000 120mm mortar rounds, 200 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, obstacle emplacement equipment, and Claymore anti-personnel munitions.

On October 4, the US government announced the allocation of an additional $625 million in security assistance to Ukraine. In total, the United States has allocated more than $17.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine this year, including $16.8 billion since the beginning of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine.”

Finland preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Yle. “Finland is completing preparations for sending the ninth batch of military aid to Ukraine, [Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said during a speech before the parliament]. It is unlikely to be the last. We must be ready to support Ukraine for a long time, Kaikkonen said.”

Ukraine to receive almost $530M from World Bank, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine will receive $529.9 million from the World Bank in additional funding for urgent needs. A corresponding agreement was signed by Minister of Finance of Ukraine Serhiy Marchenko and World Bank Regional Country Director for Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) Arup Banerji, the Ministry’s press service reports.

It is noted that a $529.9 million loan will be provided on preferential terms under the guarantees of Great Britain and Denmark: the loan repayment period is 19 years with a five-year grace period. The interest rate is 0.25% per annum (charged on the unused part of the loan).”

New Developments 

  1. President enacts NSDC decision on the impossibility of talks with Putin, Ukrinform reports, citing presidential decree, 679/2022. “President Zelensky has enacted a decision of the National Security and Defense Council “Regarding Ukraine’s actions in response to the Russian Federation’s attempt to annex the territories of our state, with the aim of guaranteeing the security of the Euro-Atlantic area, Ukraine and restoring its territorial integrity.” The NSDC decision envisages the impossibility of holding negotiations with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. It also provides for the approval of a joint appeal of the President of Ukraine, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Prime Minister of Ukraine to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In addition, the Cabinet of Ministers has been charged with preparing proposals for a multi-level security guarantee system.”
  2. Kremlin prepared to wait for a new president of Ukraine to negotiate, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, said that negotiations with Ukraine would have to wait for a change in the stance taken by the current President of the country, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, or for his successor.”
  3. S. military aid to Ukraine boosts the risk of clash -Russian envoy, Reuters reports. “Washington’s decision to send more military aid to Ukraine poses a threat to Moscow’s interests and increases the risk of a military clash between Russia and the West, said Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country, Antonov said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.”
  4. Lukashenko de Facto Acknowledges Belarus’s Participation in Russia’s War, European Pravda As for our participation in the special military operation in Ukraine – we participate there. We do not hide it. But we do not kill anyone. We do not send our troops anywhere. We do not violate our obligations, the Belarusian state news agencyBelTA quotes Lukashenko. He insists that Belarus’s participation aims at preventing the spread of the conflict to his territory and preventing an attack on Belarus under the guise of a special military operation by Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. This is our participation in this military operation, there was no other way, and there will be no other way,” Lukashenko said.”
  5. Russia’s Federation Council unanimously approves annexation of occupied territories of Ukraine, UkrinformMembers of Russia’s Federation Council have ratified documents on Russia’s “annexation” of the occupied territories of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Kherson regions of Ukraine. It is noted that Russian senators approved all four documents unanimously. In addition, the Russian Federation Council separately adopted federal constitutional laws on the accession of four new entities to the Russian Federation.”
  6. Borders of annexed Ukrainian territories depend on the “will of local population” – Kremlin, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing TASS. “Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, said that the borders of occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts have not yet been defined and will depend on the will of the population; however, there will be no new sham referendums there.”
  7. Germany hadn’t listened too carefully to partners’ assessment of Russia, Baerbock admits, UkrinformWe will achieve security only without, not with, Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This was an important shift in German politics, [the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock], said. She admitted that Germany had previously not listened very carefully to the correct assessment by many partners regarding Russia. Now that we have changed course, everything has become crystal clear for the government, the media, and for the people… We can only succeed together with all our friends in Europe, especially now that Germany is playing in a joint team. We must stick together and prevent a split imposed from the outside in this situation… right now Russia is using its next instrument of hybrid war – the division of Europe. Therefore, it is very important to send a clear signal that Putin will not succeed, Baerbock emphasized.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war.

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 4 October, 2022:

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Tuesday 4 October:

(quote) “Eastern Ukraine: (Oskil River-Kreminna Line)

Ukrainian forces continued to make gains in eastern Kharkiv Oblast west of Svatove on October 4. Geolocated footage shows Ukrainian troops in Bohuslavka and Borivska Andriivka, both within 30km west of Svatove and near the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border. Bohuslavka and Borivska Andriivka are on the left bank of the Oskil River.  These gains, along with other Ukrainian advances on the east bank of the river, have essentially deprived Russian forces of the ability to use the river as a defensive line. A Russian milblogger described this inflection by noting that what used to be the Kharkiv front (the front bounded by the line of the Oskil River) has now become the Luhansk front as Ukrainian troops are threatening Russian positions within Luhansk Oblast itself.

Russian sources continued to discuss Ukrainian advances toward Svatove and noted that while Russian troops still control the R66 (Svatove-Kreminna) highway, which Russian milbloggers regard as a critical Russian ground line of communication (GLOC), Ukrainian reconnaissance groups are operating along the road to set conditions for future attacks toward Svatove. A Russian source reported that fighting is ongoing in Krasnorichenske, a settlement near the R66 and between Svatove and Kreminna. A Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the Russian 1st Guards Tank Army and elements of the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division of the 20th Combined Arms Army are preparing to defend Svatove. As ISW has previously reported, these units and formations were severely degraded during the Kharkiv counteroffensive and are unlikely to establish a stable defense of these critical areas if Ukrainian forces press their attacks. Russian sources will likely continue to reinforce their positions along the R66 highway in anticipation of further Ukrainian attacks.

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)

Ukrainian forces continued to make substantial gains in northern Kherson Oblast on October 4. Geolocated footage shows Ukrainian troops in Velyka Oleksandrivka, Novopetrivka, and Starosillya, all in northwestern Kherson Oblast within 20km south of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border. Russian sources acknowledged that Ukrainian forces have also captured at least half of Dudchany, a critical settlement in northeastern Kherson Oblast that lies along the T0403 highway, which runs along the west bank of the Dnipro River into the Beryslav-Nova Kahkovka area. Several Russian sources indicated that Russian troops are withdrawing south toward Beryslav and regrouping in the area of Mylove (15km southwest of Dudchany) and that the northeastern sector of the Russian line in Kherson Oblast is collapsing along the Kakovkha reservoir. One Russian source reported that Ukrainian forces captured Kachkarivka, less than 9 km from Mylove. The Ukrainian 35th Marine Brigade also liberated Davydiv Brid in western Kherson Oblast. An established Ukrainian position on the east (left) bank of the Inhulets River and on the right bank of Kakhkovka Reservoir (which feeds the Dnipro River) will enable Ukrainian forces to essentially squeeze Russian troops up against the Dnipro River to the east and force them southwards toward Kherson City and Beryslav-Nova Kakhkova according to a Russian milblogger. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian troops attacked Ternovi Pody (20km northwest of Kherson City), likely to expand Russian control northwest of Kherson City and afford Russian troops more defensible positions around the city as other elements withdraw from the north.

Russian milbloggers provided insight into the sparse allocation of Russian forces that are collapsing under Ukrainian advances in northern Kherson Oblast. A Russian source claimed on October 4 that elements of the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet have operated in the area without rotation since March and that the frontline is stretched so thin that some villages in this sector have 15 men defending them. The milblogger claimed that a frontline of 20km needs 500 men to defend at approximately 20m per person and that, due to under-staffing in battalions in northern Kherson Oblast, the ratio was one soldier per 60m of line. This description of a thin and undermanned frontline, along with effective Ukrainian offensive operations, partially explains the rapid rate of Russian collapse in this sector.

Ukrainian forces additionally continued the interdiction campaign in Kherson Oblast to support ongoing ground operations. Ukrainian military sources reported that Ukrainian troops targeted Russian military, logistics, and transportation assets and concentration areas on October 3 and 4. Russian sources reported that Ukrainian troops once again struck the Antonivskyi Bridge in Kherson City. Ukrainian military officials noted that the Ukrainian interdiction campaign is crippling Russian attempts to transfer additional ammunition, reserves, mobilized men, and means of defense to frontline positions. Ukrainian forces also continued to advance east of the Oskil River in Kharkiv Oblast, and Russian sources claimed that battles are ongoing near the R66 Svatove-Kreminna highway.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization is having more significant short-term impacts on the Russian domestic context than on the war in Ukraine, interacting with Russian battlefield failures to exacerbate fractures in the information space that confuse and undermine Putin’s narratives. Ukrainian sources have rightly observed that the partial mobilization is not a major threat in the short term because the Ukrainian counteroffensive is moving faster than the mobilization can generate effects. Ukrainian Intelligence Chief Kyrylo Budanov even stated that mobilization in Russia is a “gift” to Ukraine because the Kremlin is finding itself in a “dead end,” caught between its failures and its determination to hold what it has seized. The controversies surrounding the poorly executed partial mobilization, coupled with significant Russian defeats in Kharkiv Oblast and around Lyman, have intensified infighting between pro-Putin Russian nationalist factions and are creating new fractures among voices who speak to Putin’s core constituencies.

Putin is visibly failing at balancing the competing demands of the Russian nationalists who have become increasingly combative since mobilization began despite sharing Putin’s general war aims and goals in Ukraine. ISW has identified three main factions in the current Russian nationalist information space: Russian milbloggers and war correspondents, former Russian or proxy officers and veterans, and some of the Russian siloviki—people with meaningful power bases and forces of their own. Putin needs to retain the support of all three of these factions. Milbloggers present Putin’s vision to a pro-war audience in both Russia and the proxy Republics. The veteran community is helping organize and support force generation campaigns. The siloviki are providing combat power on the battlefield. Putin needs all three factions to sustain his war effort, but the failures in Ukraine combined with the chaotic partial mobilization are seemingly disrupting the radical nationalist community in Russia. Putin is currently trying to appease this community by featuring some milbloggers on state-owned television, allowing siloviki to generate their own forces and continue offensive operations around Bakhmut and Donetsk City, and placating veterans by ordering mobilization and engaging the general public in the war effort as they have long demanded.

Russian failures around Lyman galvanized strong and direct criticism of the commander of the Central Military District (CMD), Alexander Lapin, who supposedly commanded the Lyman grouping, as ISW has previously reported. This criticism originated from the siloviki group, spearheaded by Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. Kadyrov and Prigozhin represent an emerging voice within the regime’s fighting forces that is attacking the more traditional and conventional approach to the war pursued by Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu and the uniformed military command. The chaotic execution of Putin’s mobilization order followed by the collapse of the Lyman pocket ignited tensions between the more vocal and radical Kadyrov-Prigozhin camp, who attacked the MoD and the uniformed military for their poor handling of the war. Putin now finds himself in a dilemma. He cannot risk alienating the Kadyrov-Prigozhin camp, as he desperately needs Kadyrov’s Chechen forces and Prigozhin’s Wagner Group mercenaries to fight in Ukraine. Nor can he disenfranchise the MoD establishment, which provides the overwhelming majority of Russian military power in Ukraine and the institutional underpinnings needed to carry out the mobilization order and continue the war. […]

The veterans’ community is dissatisfied with the execution of Putin’s mobilization. ISW reported in May that an independent Russian veterans’ organization, the All-Russian Officers Assembly, published an open letter calling on Putin to declare war on Ukraine, announce partial mobilization, and form new war-time administrations to execute the mobilization order. Those new administrations would likely have improved or supplanted the military commissariats that have been mishandling the current partial mobilization. The Assembly also encouraged Putin to recognize that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine, not Ukrainians, long before this narrative gained prominence in the Kremlin’s justifications for its defeat in Kharkiv Oblast and Lyman. This elder nationalist military community has long been warning Putin of the limitations of his forces, problems in the Russian military -industrial complex, and the failings of the Russian mobilization system. […]

The fragmentation of the Russian nationalist information space could have significant domestic impacts and could even affect the stability of Putin’s regime. Putin will be unable to meet the mutually exclusive demands of various groups. Kadyrov and Prigozhin are pushing for a change in the way Russia fights the war to one more suited to their unconventional modes of mobilizing personnel and fighting.  The veterans have been pushing for a more traditional overhaul of the Russian higher military command and MoD and for putting Russia on a conventional war footing and the Russian MoD. Russian milbloggers are currently defending the Kremlin’s selection of uniformed commanders while continuing to attack the MoD and making a variety of extreme demands and recommendations of their own—all the while reporting on Russia’s frontline failings in detail even as the MoD tries to silence them. Putin cannot afford to lose the support of any of these groups, nor can satisfy them all as the war wears on and Russian troops continue to sustain losses. The shocks of the Kharkiv and Lyman defeats, energized by the partial mobilization and its poor management, have exposed these deepening fissures within Putin’s core constituencies to the view of all Russians. They could even begin to seed the notion that Putin is not fully in control of his own base. The ramifications of such a development for his regime are hard to predict.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization is having more significant short-term impacts on the Russian domestic context than on the war in Ukraine, catalyzing fractures in the information space that confuse and undermine Putin’s narratives.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to make substantial gains in northern Kherson Oblast on October 4, beginning to collapse the sparsely-manned Russian lines in that area.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to make gains in eastern Kharkiv Oblast west of Svatove on October 4, pushing past the Oskil River and increasingly threatening Russian positions in Luhansk Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued to conduct artillery, air, and missile strikes west of Hulyiapole and in Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv Oblasts on October 4.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast on October 4.
  • The Kremlin effectively ordered local Russian administrations and non-Ministry of Defense institutions to fund a significant part of the mobilization effort from local budgets.

Russian security officials are attempting to maintain their domestic security apparatus as Putin’s partial mobilization drains the Russian security sector to generate additional forces to fight in Ukraine.

NATO sees no changes in Russia’s nuclear posture, alliance official says, Reuters reports. “NATO has not observed changes in Russia’s nuclear posture but is vigilant, an alliance official said on Tuesday, commenting after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the war in Ukraine with a mobilisation and warnings of nuclear weapons use. We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture, but NATO and Allies remain vigilant, the official told Reuters.

The official, who declined to be named, added that – as laid out in NATO’s new strategic concept in June – Russia’s expansion of “novel and disruptive dual-capable delivery systems while employing coercive nuclear signalling” was a challenge to the defence alliance’s security and interests.”

Pentagon says can’t corroborate reports of Russian nuclear arms movement, Reuters reports. “A senior Pentagon official said on Tuesday she had no information to corroborate reports suggesting Russia might be moving tactical nuclear weapons by rail and added the US military had not seen anything to change its own nuclear posture.

I don’t have anything else but the open source reports, said Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defence focusing on Russia and Ukraine. The Pentagon closely monitors Russia’s nuclear forces, a core part of its mission since the Cold War.

Russia Heightening Nuclear Jitters, Kyiv Post reports. “As Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Russian-occupied territory gains momentum and hardline critics within Russia call for more drastic measures to regain the initiative, a spate of reports about Moscow preparing nuclear weapons has made its way through international media outlets. The pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar shared a video on Sunday, Oct. 2 showing a freight train hauling upgraded armoured personnel carriers and other sophisticated military equipment through central Russia.

British news outlets The Daily Mail and The Times reported that the advanced military hardware belonged to the 12th Main Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which is responsible for the safekeeping, technical maintenance, transportation, delivery and disposal of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

Also on Sunday, as the videos and photos made their way through social media, Italian newspaper La Repubblica published an article citing anonymous sources claiming that NATO has sent an intelligence note to its member countries warning of the mobilization of the K-329 Belgorod Russian nuclear submarine, carrying the Poseidon nuclear missile, also known as the Weapon of the Apocalypse. NATO has not yet commented on La Repubblica’s reports. […]

This speculation and rhetoric come in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s speech calling for a partial mobilization, in which he said his country had “various weapons of destruction” and would “use all the means available to us” – even emphasizing that “I’m not bluffing.” Raising tensions even higher are various calls from Russian hardliners such as Chechen strongman and Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov, arch-propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, and even former President Dmitry Medvedev, who have all been faster and looser with their nuclear threats than even Putin.

Solovyov has repeatedly raised the spectre of using a nuclear strike to defend Russia’s interests. A recent Telegram tirade was in response to the EU denying Russians tourist visas: “The refusal to issue visas to Russian citizens and the declaration of the Russian Federation as an accomplice of terrorism puts an end to relations with Europe. This means the actual entry into the war with Russia. Severing ties, supplying weapons is direct participation in the war … This is a real threat to the existence of Russia and can lead to the use of the doctrine of a preventive nuclear strike.”

After Kyiv took back Lyman in eastern Ukraine just days ago, Kadyrov used his Telegram channel to lambaste top commanders for their incompetence, saying: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”

Adding to the chorus, Medvedev posted a similar threat on Telegram: “Let’s imagine that Russia is forced to use the most fearsome weapon against the Ukrainian regime which had committed a large-scale act of aggression that is dangerous for the very existence of our state.”

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian presidential chief-of-staff, said that the response to Russia’s nuclear blackmail must be tough, otherwise nuclear non-proliferation agreements will be useless.”

Russian Defence Minister Shoigu says Russia has already recruited more than 200,000 conscripts, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “According to the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, a partial mobilisation has been carried out in the country since 21 September. To date, more than 200,000 people have joined the Armed Forces. The Russian minister stated that the training of personnel of the units formed is being carried out at 80 training grounds and in six training centres.

Shoigu also said that the current conscripts will go home after demobilisation, and those recruited in the autumn enlistment will be sent to units not involved in the special operation.

At the same time, in conversations intercepted by the Ukrainian special services, the occupiers complain that they are sitting in the trenches without rotation under continuous fire from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, suffering losses, and threatened with execution for refusing to fight.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Putin’s mobilization will further upend the Russian economy – POLITICO. Ukrinform reports, citing POLITICO. “Russian President Vladimir Putin may well succeed in mobilizing the 300,000 reservists he says he needs for the war in Ukraine — but since his announcement, some 360,000 men have already traveled to Georgia and Kazakhstan to escape this fate, and countless others have made their way to other countries.  

The more the Kremlin mobilizes, the more men will try to leave the country, and that has massive implications for all manner of Russian workplaces, and consequently, the economy,” the media outlet said. With so many men gone, or about to pack their bags, sectors critical to the functioning of society — from factories to internet providers — are at risk of serious disruption. And Russia has no plan in place to deal with this.

POLITICO explains that Russia has no set system for the continuity of its society during wartime. By contrast, Russia’s neighbours Sweden and Finland have long maintained detailed plans for how to keep society going in case of war, and it involves more than, say, engineers staffing nuclear power plants. During the Cold War, Sweden operated a plan featuring so-called “war placement” for scores of workers who would, in case of war, remain in their civilian jobs or take on government tasks with similar functions.

Had Sweden or Finland been invaded during the Cold War, a core of factory workers would have kept up civilian and military production. A core of journalists would have continued informing the public. A core of doctors, nurses, teachers, supermarket workers, train engineers and lorry drivers would have made sure the population was fed and able to access necessities.

As demonstrated by the haphazard way in which men are currently being mobilized, however, it is clear that Russia has no such continuity-of-society plan. There aren’t enough women who can quickly step in and take on the jobs of the men who have been mobilized and have fled the country.

The mobilization is happening randomly, and because of that, it will hit the economy. Maybe not on the first day, but the economy can’t just keep going without these men and the men who’ve fled, the news outlet quoted retired Lieutenant General Arto Räty, a former permanent secretary of Finland’s Ministry of Defense, as saying.”

World Bank: Ukraine’s war-torn economy will sink 35% in ’22, AP News reports. “Devastated by Russia’s invasion eight months ago, the Ukrainian economy will plunge 35% this year, the World Bank forecast Tuesday. The war has destroyed factories and farmland and displaced millions of Ukrainians. The World Bank, a 189-country anti-poverty agency, estimates that rebuilding the country will cost at least $349 billion, 1.5 times the size of Ukraine’s prewar economy.

Ukraine continues to need enormous financial support as the war needlessly rages on as well as for recovery and reconstruction projects, said Anna Bjerde, World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia. Still, the bank’s assessment for Ukraine’s economy marks an upgrade from the 45.1% freefall it forecast in June.”

OPEC+ heads for deep supply cuts, clash with the US, Reuters reports. “OPEC+ looks set for deep oil output cuts when it meets on Wednesday, curbing supply in an already tight market despite pressure from the United States and other consuming countries to pump more. The potential OPEC+ cut could spur a recovery in oil prices that have dropped to about $90 from $120 three months ago due to fears of a global economic recession, rising US interest rates and a stronger dollar.

OPEC+, which includes Saudi Arabia and Russia, is working on cuts in excess of 1 million barrels per day, sources told Reuters this week. One OPEC source said on Tuesday the cuts could amount to up to 2 million barrels per day.

Sources said it remained unclear if reductions could include additional voluntary cuts by members such as Saudi Arabia or if cuts could include existing under-production by the group.

White House rules out ban on natural gas exports this winter, Reuters reports. “The White House has ruled out any ban or curbs on natural-gas exports this winter, in a bid to help alleviate energy shortages in Europe, according to two people directly involved in the discussions. In March, US President Joe Biden committed to deliver 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) more of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has already surpassed that goal.

Further White House analysis has only cemented support for ongoing exports, the sources said, although rising energy costs and a colder-than-expected winter could test Biden’s commitment. A ban has not been seriously considered, said a US official.

Biden and his aides are bracing for the prospect that inflation-fatigued Americans will pay high home-heating bills this winter. Inventories of natural gas, the nation’s primary heating fuel, are at historically low levels after US companies exported record amounts to Europe in recent months to counter a cut in supplies and higher prices for European power plants.”

Hans Petter Midttun: The information space is full of rumours of Russian nuclear arms being deployed. We are seeing an increasing number of assessments about the likelihood of nuclear arms being employed, the consequences and wider ramifications. Understandably, it catches the world’s attention as the potential nuclear war is horrific, making it difficult to grapple with objectively.

The Centre for Countering Disinformation of the NSDC found it, therefore, necessary to highlight that unsubstantiated statements by the media about the deployment of Russian nuclear arms only contribute to information terrorism of the Russian Federation.

Disinformation, propaganda, and active measures have been crucial elements of the Hybrid War since the very start. A major part of the battlespace of the nearly 9-year-long Russian war occurs inside the cognitive spaces of populations and key decision- and policymakers. Using war, disinformation, cyber-attacks, blackmail, provocations, fabrications, military deceptions, and other active measures, it creates a virtual reality that prompts the West into making the political decisions Russia wants without suspecting (or acknowledging) they are being manipulated.

Its nuclear blackmail was always a crucial part of this strategy, but even more now as the Russian Army is being dressed down and defeated in Ukraine. Its nuclear “fait accompli” strategy has proven extremely efficient for years. It has helped hold the West at bay, stopping it from engaging decisively in Ukraine. The threat of a “broader confrontation” (that is already taking place) has even triggered several Heads of State to publicly discuss the need for compromise (at the cost of Ukraine and international security) and a reset of relationships.

Nuclear blackmail is proving increasingly effective for several reasons. A part of it is related to its ability to explore social media and target the audience without the critical scrutiny of Media Regulatory Authorities. After decades of “peace in our times”, however, I fear that the loss of “military culture” (for the lack of better words) among most politicians, journalists and analysts constitutes the biggest vulnerability.

In the article “NATO needs to reinvigorate the notion of deterrence, and soon”,    Ben Hodges, former commander of the United States military in Europe, and Timo S. Koster, former Dutch Ambassador for Security Policy & Cyber and Director of Defense Policy and Capabilities at NATO, argues that:

“Since 1990, the notion, culture and vocabulary of deterrence have been eroded. The West left Russia’s attacks on Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 largely unanswered. […] Since Putin invaded Ukraine, US President Joe Biden, Jens Stoltenberg and other leaders have expressed their unwillingness to fight Russia, which would lead to World War III. Putin’s brutal moves, combined with the threatening (nuclear) rhetoric, have prevented NATO from taking decisive action.

And even if it is by no means clear whether a Western military response would immediately lead to a large-scale conflict or even a nuclear clash, NATO itself is shuddering and relentlessly limited to its Article 5 commitment to defend every inch of NATO territory.

But that’s not the point. The point is that there is a massacre in Europe, in our backyard, and that the strongest military alliance in the world stays out of this. We shy away, not Russia.”

As a consequence of the Russian nuclear blackmail, the West has been deterred from acting according to its former strategic concepts and the UN “Responsible to Protect” doctrine. Avoiding hypothetical costs, the West is instead accepting high, far-reaching costs that ultimately, may destabilise countries, unions and alliances.

In my humble opinion, it is crucial to counter the Russian “fait accompli” strategy to both conclude the ongoing confrontation, as well as avoid future wars. Despite President Putin’s statement that he isn’t bluffing, I believe it’s time to call the bluff. I do not buy into the Russian nuclear blackmail because of the following factors:

  1. Nuclear blackmail is very much in line with its Hybrid War strategy aimed at manipulating populations and decisions- and policymakers. Installing fear, the threats trigger inaction and the calls for diplomatic solutions at the cost of the victim of Russia’s aggressions. It must be recognised for what it is: A Russian assault against our collective cognitive space.
  2. President Putin is rational. All of his actions so far – including the “strategic blunder” to invade Ukraine in the first place can be explained within the framework of the Hybrid War strategy. According to Andrei V Kozyrev, former Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, his actions are from a Russian perspective rational. Horrific, but not irrational. Having painted himself into a corner of his own making does not make him less rational. Desperate? Yes. Irrational? No.
  3. A Russian defeat in Ukraine does not trigger a response according to the State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence. Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory is a part of its efforts to utilise a “fait accompli” strategy it has found effective. Its declarations, however, do not turn parts of Ukraine, into Russia.
  4. Due to the risks and wider ramifications, the use of nuclear arms will always be a last resort. Before we chose to lend the nuclear blackmail any credibility, Russia must have been seen exploring all other options. Despite suffering defeats on the battlefield, this does not mean Russia is losing the war. The West is still seen as the weak link and might still lose its new-found resolve. It is, after all, not providing Ukraine with the support it needs to win. Russia will not conclude before winter has had time to affect the European “protest potential”. Additionally, the maritime embargo is still effective and undermining Ukraine’s economic viability. Most importantly, it has still more military options available. Belarus has still not been forced into action. Russia has yet to declare war and full mobilisation. The partial mobilisation has not yet had any effect as an effective force generation takes months to achieve.
  5. Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual destruction are a part of a two-sided strategy. While Russia is threatening to use nuclear arms, it also knows that its use will trigger a military response. Putin does not know how the West would respond if it chose to use nuclear arms in Ukraine. He has, however, been told in no uncertain terms that a response would be forthcoming. According to Ben Hodges, “the Kremlin knows it would be impossible for the US to not respond if it uses a tactical nuke or chemical weapon in Ukraine. China, North Korea and Iran are watching. Pentagon will have provided a list of options to the President. Most are likely non-nuclear. All would be devastating for Russia.”
  6. Having been sanctioned and isolated by the West, Russia has turned to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). Since the use of nuclear arms will have a tremendous impact on global security and stability, it is hard to believe that Russia would proceed without consultation with China as a minimum. It is even harder to imagine China sanctioning even a tactical nuclear strike. Russia has lost the West and cannot run the risk of losing BRICS as well.
  7. Nations do not wage war for war’s sake but in pursuance of policy in which a better state of peace is the main objective. Hence, it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace one desire. A nuclear attack is in direct conflict with its long-term strategy. Facing huge demographic challenges, Russia needs Ukraine and Belarus to become a “Great Power”. It needs Ukraine’s defence industry. It needs a self-sustained Ukraine. It needs a well-functioning agricultural industry. It needs access to its huge mineral resources. It needs to secure a well-functioning country. The use of nuclear arms would, therefore, be extremely counterproductive.
  8. Equally important, Russia needs Western trade. A conventional victory in Ukraine would over time possibly be accepted as a “fait accompli” by the West. A nuclear attack would render this option impossible for decades to come.
  9. Lastly, even if Russia chose to ignore all of the above, the use of tactical nuclear weapons defies its purpose unless it can explore the “military advantage” created by its blast. Russia lacks the capability to operate in the area devastated by its blast and push fresh forces through the gap in the frontline.

As my Ukrainian friends and colleagues would say: The Russians are highly immoral, but they are not stupid.

That said, the risk is of course not zero. If it was, nuclear deterrence would not work. The threat of mutual destruction is based on the element of uncertainty and the risk of a military response.

While history if full of close calls, nuclear arms haven’t been used since WW2 for one simple reason: The consequences are too horrific to seriously contemplate their use. That reality has not changed despite the Russian nuclear blackmail. And it is not even blackmailing until we allow ourselves to be coerced into inaction and defeat.

If we fail to address the Russian nuclear “fait accompli” strategy (nuclear blackmail), however, the risk of further escalation and future wars is high. As 15 years of compliance has demonstrated, unwillingness to counter the threats will only embolden Russia.

 

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