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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 344: Russian missile destroys a residential building in Kramatorsk, 3 dead

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 344: Russian missile destroys a residential building in Kramatorsk, 3 dead
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukraine’s anti-corruption drive continued. The situation on the front in eastern Ukraine is getting tougher–Zelenskyy. Russian missile destroys a residential building in Kramatorsk, at least 3 dead.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1620918829726531585

Daily overview — Summary report, January 31, 2023

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, January 31, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

 

During February 1, the adversary launched 6 missile strikes, 4 of which targeted civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Druzhkivka (Donetsk oblast), as well as 4 airstrikes. The occupant forces launched 73 MLRS attacks. Civilians were killed as a result of enemy attacks.

The threat of Russian air and missile strikes across Ukraine remains high.

Russian forces are active in reconnaissance and preparing for an offensive on certain axes. Despite heavy losses, Russians continue to attempt offensives on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Novopavlivka axes.

During February 1, Ukrainian troops repelled the occupant forces’ attacks in the vicinities of settlements of Novoselivs’ke, Ploshchanka, Nevs’ke, Chervonopopivka, Dibrova, Kuz’myne, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Spirne, Bilohorivka, Vasyukivka, Blahodatne, Krasna Hora, Bakhmut, and Klishchiivka (Donetsk oblast).

[No enemy offensive groups were identified on the Volyn, Poliske, Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes. Enemy troops undergo military training on various training grounds in Belarus. Moreover, Russia maintains a military presence in the areas close to the border with Ukraine; maintains cross-border shelling of Ukrainian settlements with mortars and artillery systems.]

  • Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: The invaders shelled the vicinities of settlements of Klyusy, Yeline (Chernihiv oblast), Muraveinya, Katerynivka, Vovkivka, Oleksandrivka, Volfyne (Sumy oblast), Veterynarne, Strilecha, Hlyboke, Zelene, Neskuchne, Ternova, Ohirtseve, Starytsya, Vovchans’k, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: Russian forces fired tanks and artillery at the vicinities of settlements of Dvorichna, Syn’kivka, Ivanivka, Kup’yans’k, Kyslivka, Kotlyarivka, Tabaivka, Krokhmal’ne, Pishchane (Kharkiv oblast), Novoselivs’ke, and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast).
  • Lyman axis: Novojehorivka, Nevs’ke, Dibrova (Luhansk oblast), Terny, and Serebryanka (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy fire.
  • Bakhmut axis: Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, Bilohorivka, Vesele, Paraskoviivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivs’ke, Predtechyne, Stupochky, Druzhba, and New York (Donetsk oblast) came under fire.
  • Avdiivka axis: Sjeverne, Avdiivka, Pervomais’ke, Nevel’s’ke, Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Mar’inka, Pobjeda, and Novomykhailivka came under enemy fire.
  • Novopavlivka axis: Vuhledar, Bohoyavlenka, Novoukrainka, Prechystivka, Velyka Novosilka, and Neskuchne (Donetsk oblast) came under artillery fire.
  • Zaporizhzhia axis: more than 20 settlements were shelled, including Vremivka (Donetsk oblast), Poltavka, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Charivne, Orikhiv, and Novodanylivka (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
  • Kherson axis: Beryslav, Antonivka, and Kherson, as well as Dmytrivka (Mykolaiv oblast), came under artillery fire.

Russian forces continue to impose Russian citizenship on Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk oblast. In the city of Horlivka, drivers are being forced to obtain new Russian-standard driving licenses, which is impossible in the absence of a Russian passport. The invaders have set a deadline of May 1, 2023, for employees of transport companies. Those failing to comply will be fired.

As of January 09, 2023, three-month contracts expired in one of the occupiers’ units operating in Luhansk oblast. Due to this, about 300 soldiers of this unit do not receive any financial support. In addition, they cannot resign from military service due to the announced mobilization.

[Russian forces continue to use civilian infrastructure in the temporarily captured territories for their own purposes. Thus, the Russian occupiers use the city hospital of Dniprorudny (Zaporizhzhia oblast) as a military hospital. Medicines and surgeons were brought from the Russian Federation.]

[The Russian invaders continue to put pressure on the citizens of Ukraine, thus violating human rights. In particular, in Starobilsk (Luhansk oblast) the Russian occupation authorities force people to send children aged 6 and over to a so-called Cossack cadet corps for supposedly “proper patriotic education”. People who refuse to send their children to the specified corps are threatened with deprivation of parental rights.]

On February 1, missile and artillery units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces hit 1 command post, 3 concentrations of the adversary, and 1 fuel and lubricants depot

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Zelensky says the situation on the front in eastern Ukraine is getting tougher, Reuters reports. “The situation on the front lines in eastern Ukraine has become tougher as Russian forces step up an offensive, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday in another gloomy military assessment from Kyiv.

Russia has gained momentum on the battlefield, announcing advances north and south of the city of Bakhmut, its main target for months. Locations of reported fighting clearly indicate incremental Russian advances. […] Zelensky said the Russians were trying to make gains that they could show on the first anniversary of the war on Feb 24.”

Russians switch tactics and keep pressuring Bakhmut: over 150 attacks during past 24 hours, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Suspilne, citing Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and NYT. “Russian troops have attacked Ukrainian military positions near Bakhmut 151 times in the course of the past 24 hours.

Yampolivka, Spirne, Rozdolivka, Blahodatne, Krasna Hora, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Paraskoviivka [settlements were attacked – ed.]. There were 56 attacks and 13 combat clashes near Soledar. Russian forces suffered considerable losses during the day. Cherevatyi said that 360 Russian soldiers were killed and 290 were wounded in one day. 

Ukrainian fighters and analysts say that Moscow has been relying on a cruder tactic: trying to tip the city into its win column through the sheer weight of troop numbers. As a result, the Ukrainians say, Russian casualties in recent fighting in Bakhmut have been higher than in previous months.”

Enemy trying to expand the geography of its offensive in the Lyman sector, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister, Hanna Maliar. “Russian forces are trying to expand the geography of its offensive in the Lyman sector. It is making powerful attempts to break through our defences. Despite heavy losses, the Russian invaders also continue their offensive in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka sectors, Maliar said.

According to her, in this way, Russian troops are actively trying to reach the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, Ukrainian soldiers defend every centimetre of land in the conditions of Russian forces’ superiority by the number of fighters and the number of weapons, repelling attacks and trying to hold the defence.

Three Russian warships armed with 20 Kalibr missiles remain in the Black Sea, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “Thirteen enemy ships are on combat duty in the Black Sea, including three carriers of Kalibr cruise missiles. The total number of missiles is about 20, the report said. In the Sea of Azov, Russian forces continue to control sea communications, keeping one ship on combat duty.

There are ten enemy ships in the Mediterranean Sea, five of them armed with a total of 72 Kalibr cruise missiles.”

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

  • Russia’s role as a reliable arms exporter is highly likely being undermined by its invasion of Ukraine and international sanctions.
  • Even before the invasion, Russia’s share of the international arms market was declining. Now, when faced with conflicting demands, Russia will almost certainly prioritise deploying newly produced weapons with its own forces in Ukraine over supplying export partners.
  • A shortage of components is likely affecting the production of equipment for export, such as armoured vehicles, attack helicopters, and air defence systems. In addition, Russia’s ability to sustain support services for existing export contracts, such as providing spare parts and maintenance, is likely to be seriously disrupted for at least the next three to five years.
  • In recent days, some of the most intense shelling in the conflict has likely taken place along the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine. This has included continued Russian shelling of Kherson city with artillery firing from the east of the river.
  • On 29 January 2023, local authorities reported another three civilians killed in Kherson, while two foreign-owned ships moored on the river were damaged, causing an oil spill.
  • Kherson remains the most consistently shelled large Ukrainian city outside of the Donbas. Russia’s precise rationale for expending its strained ammunition stocks here is unclear. However, commanders are likely partially aiming to degrade civilian morale and to deter any Ukrainian counter-attacks across the Dnipro River.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Thursday 02 February, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 129030 (+610),
  • Tanks – 3211 (+2),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 6382 (+0),
  • Artillery systems – 2212 (+5),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 458 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 222 (+1),
  • Aircraft – 293 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 284 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 5064 (+3),
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1951 (+0),
  • Special equipment – 200 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 796 (+0)

Commander of Ukrainian marines to Russians: Run, surrender. We are one, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Defence Ministry of Ukraine. “Lieutenant General Yurii Sodol, the commander of Ukrainian marines, has called on the Russian occupiers to flee or surrender to the Ukrainian defenders.

I will separately address the Russian military: before it’s too late, run, return to your “Maruskas” [reffering to Rusian women – ed.] or surrender, otherwise it’s the fate of a fertiliser on someone else’s land; a black bag or disability awaits you, this is your “happy” future. Unlike you, we know what we are fighting for, we are united, we are one.”

Humanitarian 

Kramatorsk shelling: three dead, 20 wounded as search and rescue operation continues, Ukrinform reports, citing the Donetsk region’s Police Department. “The number of people killed as a result of a Russian missile hitting a residential building in Kramatorsk increased to three, while 20 people were injured.

Russian troops targeted the residential sector of the city with an Iskander-K missile. At least eight apartment buildings were damaged, one of them was completely destroyed. Tentatively, three civilians were killed and 20 – wounded. People may remain under the rubble, the report says.

Ukraine has enough energy resources to complete heating season, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukrainian Minister of Energy, German Galushchenko. “As of today, there are more than 11 billion cubic meters of gas in Ukrainian gas storage facilities, and about 1.2 million tonnes of coal in warehouses. These are sufficient volumes to get through and complete this very difficult heating season for our country, he said. […]

As reported, Ukraine’s energy system has already survived 13 enemy missile attacks on energy facilities. Distribution system operators continue to apply shutdown schedules due to a significant capacity deficit in the power system – 4.5 thousand MW.”

1,377 children killed and injured in Ukraine amid full-scale war, Ukrinform reports. “More than 1,377 children have been killed and injured in Ukraine as a result of the full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation. As of the morning of February 1, 2023, the official number of children killed did not change in the past day – 459. The number of injured rose to more than 918, the Prosecutor General’s Office posted on Telegram.”

Environmental

Human Rights Watch urges investigation of alleged use of land mines by Ukraine, NPR reports. “A human rights group says it has documented “numerous cases” of Ukrainian forces firing land mines into territory that was controlled at the time by Russia. In a new report, Human Rights Watch suggests that Ukraine scattered so-called petal mines in and around the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium. Petal mines are prohibited under the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, of which Ukraine is a signatory, because of their ability to indiscriminately maim and kill.

The report contradicts previous claims, including from Human Rights Watch itself, that Ukraine has only used anti-vehicle mines since Russia invaded in February 2022. Those types of mines are generally permissible under the laws of war.

Russia has used these weapons in even greater numbers than Ukraine in a much more widespread fashion in different parts of the country, Steve Goose, the director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division, told NPR. But, with these revelations, Ukraine’s moral high ground has been compromised. Russia has not signed on to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry did not respond to NPR’s calls and messages asking for comment on the allegations. In a statement to Human Rights Watch, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Reznichenko said Ukraine is adhering to international humanitarian law, but that Ukrainian authorities cannot comment on specific weapons before the end of the war and restoration of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Officials’ status will not help them: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General comments on notices of suspicion handed over to corrupt statesmen, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Andrii Kostin, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, has commented on today’s conducted searches and served notices of suspicion to former and current Ukrainian officials. […] According to Kostin, four officials have been served with a notice of suspicion today: former deputy defence minister; former minister of energy and coal industry, and current and former officials of the Ministry of Defence. The top management of PJSC Ukrtatnafta has been served a notice of suspicion as a result of the investigative actions.

In addition, an official of Odesa Oblast Military Administration was exposed for a bribe of $40,000 for land fraud. In accordance with the results of today’s searches, procedural decisions will be made, Kostin emphasised.

On 1 February, Davyd Arakhamiia, Head of the Servant of the People party faction, announced the dismissal of the entire management team of the State Customs Service and the imprisonment of corrupted staff in the spring.

On 1 February, Ukrainian security forces and law enforcement officers conduct a series of searches among various officials and serve notices of suspicion. In particular, the searches were conducted at State Tax Service in Kyiv; oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky’s house regarding Ukrnafta company; the property of Arsen Avakov, former Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, and the house of Vadym Stolar, a Kyiv property developer and a member of parliament from the banned Russian-backed Opposition Platform – For Life party.

The Prosecutor General’s Office served notices of suspicion to Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, former Deputy Director of the Defence Ministry’s public procurement department; Viacheslav Shapovalov, former Deputy Defence Minister, and Volodymyr Tereshchenko, Former Deputy Director of the state-owned company Promoboronexport.

Support

The US readies $2 billion-plus Ukraine aid package with longer-range weapons, Reuters reports. “The United States is readying more than $2 billion worth of military aid for Ukraine that is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time as well as other munitions and weapons, two US officials briefed on the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. The aid is expected to be announced as soon as this week, the officials said. It is also expected to include support equipment for Patriot air defense systems, precision-guided munitions and Javelin anti-tank weapons, they added.

One of the officials said a portion of the package, expected to be $1.725 billion, would come from a fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows President Joe Biden’s administration to get weapons from industry rather than from US weapons stocks.

The USAI funds would go toward the purchase of a new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) made by Boeing Co (BA.N), which have a range of 94 miles (150 km). The United States has rebuffed Ukraine’s requests for the 185-mile (297-km) range ATACMS missile. The longer range of the GLSDB glide bomb could allow Ukraine to hit targets that have been out of reach and help it continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russia further behind its lines. […]

GLSDB is GPS-guided, can defeat some electronic jamming, is usable in all weather conditions, and can be used against armored vehicles, according to SAAB’s website. The GBU-39 – which would function as the GLSDB’s warhead – has small, folding wings that allow it to glide more than 100km if dropped from an aircraft and hit targets as small as 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter.

The USAI funds would also be used to pay for more components of HAWK air defenses, counter drone systems, counter artillery and air surveillance radars, communications equipment, PUMA drones, and spare parts for major systems like Patriot and Bradley, one of the officials said. There was also a significant amount of medical equipment – enough to equip three field hospitals being donated by another ally, the official added. The White House declined to comment. The contents and size of aid packages can shift until they are signed by the president.

In addition to the USAI funds, more than $400 million worth of aid was expected to come from Presidential Drawdown Authority funds, which allows the president to take from current US stocks in an emergency. That aid was expected to include mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and ammunition.”

Talks under way on long-range missiles, attack aircraft for Ukraine – Zelenskyy aide, Reuters reports. “A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday talks were under way on securing longer-range missiles and attack aircraft from foreign partners to help repel Russian forces.

“Each war stage requires certain weapons. Amassing RF’s (Russia’s) reserves in the occupied territories require specifics from (Ukraine) & partners,” political adviser Mykhailo Podoliak wrote on Twitter. So: 1. There is already a tank coalition (logistics, training, supply). 2. There are already talks on longer-range missiles & attack aircraft supply.”

Stefanchuk calls from the rostrum of the National Assembly of France to provide Ukraine with fighter jets and tanks, Ukraine Business News reports. “Ukrainian Parliament Chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk called on the France leadership to provide Ukraine with Dassault Mirage 2000 and Dassault Rafale fighter jets, as well as AMX-56 Leclerc tanks. In particular, he […] wants to see the French Leclerc among Leopard, Abrams, and Challenger as well as the Mirage and Rafale, which, together with other allied aircraft, will protect Ukrainian skies.

Stefanchuk also emphasized that the French leadership’s decision to strengthen Ukraine with advanced air defence systems, providing tanks and armoured personnel carriers has given impetus to other states to take similar steps.

UK defence minister: Sending jets to Ukraine not right approach ‘for now’, Reuters reports. “Britain has not made a “solid decision” not to send its fighter jets to Ukraine but does not think it is the right approach at the moment, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said it would not be practical to send jets to Ukraine because it would take months to learn to fly them.

Wallace said Britain’s jets were very complex and might not be applicable in Ukraine. What they need right now is armour and tanks, he said. I think we’d have to be pretty sure that (jets) is going to be the next battle winning requirement. But for now, I think we’re focused on the tanks, the land battle.”

Poland is ready for negotiations with its allies regarding the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine, Ukraine Business News reports. “Polish President Andrzej Duda, commenting on the issue of providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, said that his country is ready to negotiate and reach an agreement with the other allies regarding further actions related to the transfer of combat aircraft.

According to Duda, Poland now has about 50 F-16 fighters and is waiting for F-35 fighters, contracts for the purchase of which were signed several years ago. In addition, Warsaw is also waiting for FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea, the contract for the purchase of which was signed last year. Also, Duda notes that Poland has already delivered more than 240 T-72 tanks, more than 100 BMPs, thousands of automatic rifles, Piorun MANPADS, and Krab self-propelled guns.”

Israel considering sending Iron Dome air defence system to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Israel is considering sending air defence systems to Ukraine, including the Iron Dome system. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this in an interview with CNN.

He also confirmed that the United States had moved artillery ammunition stocks from the territory of Israel to Ukraine. “The United States took a significant part of Israeli ammunition and sent it to Ukraine,” he said.

Netanyahu added that his country is also helping Ukraine by preventing the production of weapons in Iran. I will not go into details, but Israel is acting in a certain way against Iran’s production of weapons that are used against Ukraine, he said.”

Spain to send up to six Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine – El Pais, Reuters reports. “Spain plans to send between four and six German-built Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine, newspaper El Pais reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified government sources. The actual number will depend on the condition of the battle tanks in storage and how many other countries will eventually supply to Ukraine, the sources told El Pais.

A spokesperson for the Spanish Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

France to send 12 more Caesar self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Le Monde. “France will send 12 more Caesar self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. [French Defense Minister Sebastien] Lecornu noted that the transfer of 12 Caesar self-propelled howitzers would be financed from a EUR 200 million fund that was approved by parliament. As reported by Ukrinform, France and Australia on Monday agreed to jointly supply Ukraine with 155mm shells of joint production.

According to Lecornu, France will also send 150 military specialists to Poland to train 600 Ukrainian soldiers per month and train a total of 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers by summer.”

Norway considering sending CV90 IFVs to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing TV2. “Norway is considering donating the CV90 armored multi-role vehicle to Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense asked the Defense Staff to look into whether it is possible to donate a certain number of these IFVs, the report reads.”

US company offers attack drones to Ukraine for US$1, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Wall Street Journal. “A US weapons maker is offering to sell the Ukraine government two Reaper MQ-9 drones for a dollar. The WSJ has pointed out that the company offers this in order to help the country defend itself as it prepares for an expected Russian offensive. The proposal was made by Linden Blue, Chief Executive Officer of General Atomics, which makes the Reapers.

The WSJ has noted that the deal would require Kyiv to spend about US$10 million to prepare and ship the aircraft to Ukraine, and about US$8 million each year for maintenance and sustainment of the older model drones, which currently aren’t being used in Ukraine.

The White House, which would have to approve the sale, declined to comment. The Ukrainian government also declined to comment

Reznikov in France signs memorandum on supply of two GM200 radars for air defence, Ukrinform reports. “Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov, Defense Minister of France Sébastien Lecornu, and a representative of Thales Group signed a memorandum on the supply of GM200 radars for Ukrainian air defence units. According to the minister, this equipment will help the Ukrainian military spot enemy drones and missiles, including ballistic.

In a post on Facebook, he noted that two such radars will be sent to Ukraine. Summarizing the results of his visit, Reznikov emphasized that the protection of Ukraine’s airspace was the main topic during the two days of intensive negotiations. This is a complex issue that includes air defence and missile defence systems, aircraft, radars, personnel training, etc., he noted.”

Norway will approve a five-year plan to support Ukraine, Ukraine Business News reports. “The government of Norway, which previously allocated about $100M for Ukraine’s reconstruction, plans to approve a five-year, long-term support plan. It is assumed that billions of Norwegian kroner will be provided to Ukraine during these five years through a separate program. The amount for this year will be distributed equally between military and civilian support, including reconstruction. Oslo has not specified the amount of funds it will send yet […]. The support program is planned to be presented next week.

[Hans Petter Midttun: SV, the closest allied political party to the Government is allegedly demanding a support package of a minimum of 14 Billion kroner (1,4 Billion USD)]

New Developments 

  1. Russia waging colonial war against Ukraine – Austrian president, UkrinformUkraine is facing a war of aggression that has no analogues. It can be compared with the colonial wars of the 19th century, Die Pressequoted the Austrian president as saying.”

  1. The replacement of the Minister of Defence is being prepared. Reznikov: Someone is at war with me, net reports. “Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov may write a letter of resignation in the coming days, and parliament plans to consider it next week. This was reported to LIGA.net by three interlocutors in the government and parliament. Reznikov himself […] neither confirmed nor denied this information. […] LIGA.net also asked presidential spokesman Sergei Nikiforov whether Zelensky plans to make a motion to dismiss Reznikov and appoint a new minister in the near future. Nikiforov replied: As long as there is no signature under the relevant documents, the decision has not been made. […] There is an understanding that they want a military man at Bankovaya, one of the interlocutors says.”
  2. S. targets global sanctions evasion network supporting Russia, Reuters reports. “The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 22 individuals and entities in multiple countries that Washington accused of being tied to a global sanctions evasion network supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex. The move, which comes as Washington looks to increase pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, is part of US efforts to target sanctions evasion around the world and limit Russia’s access to revenue it needs for the war, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.”
  3. Johnson to Western governments: Save time, money, lives, and give Ukraine weapons it needs, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Fox News. “Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in Washington for negotiations with high-ranking politicians on increasing support for Ukraine, has called for Ukrainian troops to be provided with all the weapons they need. […] Johnson believes it is necessary to save time, save money, save lives, and give the Ukrainians what they need as fast as possible. Johnson rejected the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin might be ready to turn the war into a nuclear conflict.”
  4. Ukraine deserves to join NATO, says new Czech leader, BBCCzech President-elect Petr Pavel has told the BBC that Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO as soon as the war is over. […] In his first broadcast interview with the international media since his election, Gen Pavel gave a robust defence of Western military support to Kyiv, saying there should be almost no limits to what countries should send. […] He said for him sending Western fighter planes such as F-16s was not taboo, but he was unsure they could be delivered in a timeframe that could prove useful to Kyiv.”
  5. Russia says it wants to keep New START nuclear treaty, despite US friction, ReutersRussia said on Wednesday it wanted to preserve its last remaining nuclear treaty with the United States despite what it called a destructive US approach to arms control. The United States on Tuesday accused Russiaof violating the New START treaty by refusing to allow inspections on its territory.”
  6. Ministry of Finance: Ukraine’s need for international financing is $3B per month, Ukrinform reports, citing the press service of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine. “Despite the devastating economic consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine (in particular, reduction of economy by 30.3%, inflation of 26.6% in annual terms, the state budget deficit of USD 5 billion per month), the Government managed to keep the situation under control and ensure macro-financial stability of the state in 2022, reads the statement. According to Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine Olga Zykova, the Government carried out systematic work to reduce the budget deficit by increasing tax and customs revenues, as well as optimizing a number of areas of budget expenditures. However, in 2023, the need for international financing remains significant and amounts to about USD 3 billion every month.”
  7. Putin demands that Russian Defence Ministry prevent more attacks on Belgorod Oblast, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that to stop shelling of Belgorod Oblast is a “priority task”, and also pointed out that the Russian Defence Ministry is responsible for this task to be fulfilled.”
  8. Erdogan says Türkiye positive on Finland’s NATO bid, not Sweden’s, ReutersTürkiye looks positively on Finland’s application for NATO membership, but does not support Sweden’s bid, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.”
  9. Bulgarian parliament recognizes Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainian people, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Bulgarian National Radio and European Pravda. “The Bulgarian People’s Assembly has recognised the 1932-1933 Holodomor as genocide against the Ukrainian people and categorically blamed its perpetrators. In November and early December, the parliaments of a number of European states adopted resolutions regarding the Holodomor, recognising it as genocide or a crime against the Ukrainian people. On 15 December, the European Parliament recognised the Holodomor as genocide.”
  10. Latvia vows to boycott Olympics if Russia included, ReutersLatvia joined Kyivon Wednesday in threatening to boycott the 2024 Olympics and qualifiers if Russian and Belarusian athletes are included while the war continues in Ukraine. Athletes from Russia and Belarus, which aided President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, have been largely banned from international competitions since. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has opened a door to their competition in qualifiers and potential participation as neutrals at the 2024 Paris Games.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  January 31, 2023:

Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut on February 1. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself; northeast of Bakhmut near Spirne (25km northeast), Rozdolivka (15km northeast), Blahodatne (5km north), Krasna Hora (5km north, and Paraskoviivka (6km north); and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka (7km southwest). Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin stated that as of February 1, Russian forces still have not taken Bakhmut into an operational encirclement and denied January 31 claims from a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) source that Russian forces took control of Sacco i Vanzetti village (17km north of Bakhmut). Geolocated combat footage shows that Russian forces have made slight advances northeast of Bakhmut near Krasna Hora and on the northeastern and eastern outskirts of Bakhmut, as well as south of Bakhmut near Opytne and on Bakhmut’s southern outskirts. A Russian milblogger posted video footage of a Wagner Group fighter in Blahodatne who claimed that Wagner has pushed Ukrainian forces three to four kilometers away from Blahodatne. Russian milbloggers additionally claimed that Wagner has advanced along certain streets on the northern and eastern outskirts of Bakhmut itself. Russian sources continued to claim that Wagner Group forces are pushing northwest of the Klishchiivka area towards Ivanivske and Bakhmut’s southwestern outskirts in order to cut the T0504 Kostyantynivka-Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highway.

A Ukrainian serviceman operating in Bakhmut provided granular insight into Russian tactics in the Bakhmut area. The Ukrainian Joint Forces Task Force posted an interview on February 1 with a Ukrainian soldier who stated that the situation in Bakhmut has recently “radically changed” since Russia has committed competent Wagner and Main Directorate of the Russian General Staff (GRU) operatives to the frontline. Wagner and the GRU may be committing more elite special operations and reconnaissance elements to augment human wave attacks in the Bakhmut area. The serviceman also noted that Russian forces are conducting fairly successful infiltration techniques in Bakhmut by sending unarmed, unequipped “camels” (military personnel) to deliver ammunition and weapons to frontline positions. and that these “camels” often are able to approach Ukrainian positions without detection. The serviceman stated that Russian forces identify and destroy buildings that Ukrainian forces operate out of. These techniques, which are likely helping reinvigorate the stalled Russian advances in and around Bakhmut, are not likely scalable to support larger offensive operations. It is also unclear how effective they would be in terrain lacking the kind of cover they appear to be using immediately around and in Bakhmut.

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed or claimed ground attacks on the western outskirts of Donetsk City or in western Donetsk Oblast on February 1. A Russian milblogger posted footage of the DNR “Sparta” battalion striking a Ukrainian reconnaissance group near Pervomaiske (on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces are counterattacking in the Vuhledar area southwest of Donetsk City. Geolocated combat footage shows elements of the 40th Naval Infantry Brigade assaulting Ukrainian positions southwest of Vuhledar. Russian forces continue to use the military-district-level TOS-1A thermobaric artillery system near Vuhledar, indicating relative prioritization of this area.

Ukrainian officials are continuing to warn about Russia’s intention of conducting a decisive offensive operation in Donbas in February and/or March, supporting ISW’s most likely course of action assessment (MLCOA). Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Representative Andriy Yusov stated on February 1 that Ukraine is on the eve of an active phase of combat that will take place over the next two months. Yusov noted that the poor state of Russian military equipment will force the Russian military command to mass forces to outnumber Ukrainian defenders in order to make gains. Ukrainian Colonel Serhiy Hrabskyi stated that Russia does not have sufficient forces to conduct an attack along the entire 1,500km frontline in Ukraine and will concentrate its efforts on seizing Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. A prominent Russian milblogger observed that the prospect of a Russian offensive operation does not appear to be triggering panic among Ukrainian forces, who are continuing to build out their counteroffensive plans. ISW reported on January 31 that Ukrainian military officials reiterated their intent to launch major counter-offensive operations by summer 2023.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be setting conditions for further Russian cross-border raids into northeastern areas of Ukraine, likely in an effort to further domestic information operations and pin Ukrainian forces against northern border areas. Putin held a meeting on February 1 to discuss the restoration of residential infrastructure in Crimea, Belgorod, Bryansk, and Kursk oblasts following “shelling by Neo-Nazi formations.” Putin noted that his administration is prioritizing the ending of Ukrainian shelling of border regions, but that this task is “the business of the military department.” Putin’s focus on the supposed danger of Ukrainian shelling of border regions likely serves a two-fold purpose. It furthers an information operation intended to frame the war in Ukraine as an existential threat to Russian citizens in order to generate domestic support for a protracted war. […] Putin may also be setting conditions for escalated cross-border raids in order to distract and disperse Ukrainian forces from critical axes of advance by pinning them to northeastern border areas. ISW continues to assess that a Russian invasion from Belarus is exceedingly unlikely, and the ongoing information operation to pin Ukrainian troops against the northern Ukraine-Belarus border seems to be faltering as Ukrainian officials increasingly assess that this contingency is improbable. The threat of cross-border raids from Belgorod, Bryansk, and Kursk oblasts into northern and northeastern Ukraine is likely an attempt to force Ukraine to deploy limited elements to these areas to protect against such attacks, thus dispersing Ukrainian troops to an extent in advance of a likely Russian offensive operation in the coming months. ISW has previously reported similar Russian distraction and dispersion operations in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[…]

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian officials are continuing to warn about Russia’s intention of conducting a decisive offensive operation in Donbas in February and/or March, supporting ISW’s most likely course of action assessment (MLCOA).
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin may be setting conditions for further Russian cross-border raids into northeastern areas of Ukraine, likely in an effort to further domestic information operations and pin Ukrainian forces against northern border areas.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks northeast and southwest of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks to regain lost positions on the Svatove-Kreminna line on February 1.
  • Russian forces are continuing to carry out unsuccessful disruption missions on islands in the Dnipro River delta in Kherson Oblast in an effort to prevent Ukrainian forces from gaining ground on the islands.
  • Russian officials plan to propose a moratorium on the public procurement law to simplify spending procedures amid an increasingly costly war effort.
  • The Wagner Group’s prison recruitment efforts may have slowed in previous months.

Crimean partisans may have conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in occupied Crimea on January 30.“

Main fights are yet to come – Ukraine’s National Security Council Secretary, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Sky News. “Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, commenting on the Russian offensive, said that he does not rule out any scenario in the next two or three weeks and said that the main fights are yet to come. […]

We went through an extensive difficult period, but I’m conscious the main fights are yet to come and they will happen this year, within two to three months. These will be defining months in the war. We will definitely win due to having all the world’s support behind us.

Danilov has not ruled out the possibility that President Vladimir Putin will attempt another attack from the north, south and east, as happened on 24 February 2022 – maybe even to coincide with the anniversary. He has said that Ukraine’s military is preparing for all possibilities and this time around has significantly more support from Western partners such as the UK than 12 months ago.

Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine has added that he expects about half of more than 320,000 soldiers mobilised by Russia last September will be involved in the second wave whenever it comes. And part of them has already been sent to Ukraine.

Bloomberg reported, citing its sources close to the Kremlin, that a new Russia’s offensive can take place in February or March – before Kyiv receives tanks from the USA and Europe.”

Ukraine on eve of very active phase of war – Intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Yusov, representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU), on air of Freedom channel. “Ukraine is on the eve of the very active phase of the war; intensive operations are expected at the front in February and March, according to the [DIU].

Yusov explained that the situation at the front is difficult now as Russian troops continue their offensive operations. He noted that the Russians understood that international support for Ukraine was increasing and that the next Ramstein would be coming soon, so they kept sending partially mobilised soldiers, as well as criminals from the Wagner Group and other private military companies into the battle.

Yusov says losses of the Russians are much bigger than those suffered by the Ukrainian army, but the Russians have no choice but to try to fight “in numbers”. The skill and motivation of Ukrainian soldiers, plus their equipment and weapons, both domestic and [those sent as] help from international partners, are what will ultimately turn the tide of these offensive actions, the Defence Intelligence representative concluded.”

Ukraine intel chief predicted Russia’s war. He says Crimea will be retaken, The Washington Post reports. “[Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, Head of Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU)] forecast for this year is that Russia will focus on occupying more territory in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. A renewed offensive from its forces stationed north of Ukraine, in Belarus, is unlikely, he said, and just an attempt to distract and divide Kyiv’s troops. He also said that we must do everything to ensure that Crimea returns home by summer.

Asked if he thinks Ukrainian troops reaching Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed illegally in 2014, could trigger Russian President Vladimir Putin to use a nuclear weapon, Budanov said: This is not true. And Crimea will be returned to us. I’ll tell you more: It all started in Crimea in 2014, and it will all end there.

It’s a scare tactic, he added […]. Russia is a country that you can expect a lot from but not outright idiocy. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen. Carrying out a nuclear strike will result in not just a military defeat for Russia but the collapse of Russia. And they know this very well.

Budanov’s other claims have included that Putin is terminally ill with cancer and has multiple body doubles. It’s an open question if it’s the real Putin now, Budanov said. He is so confident in his intelligence that he occasionally opens a folder to give exact figures — approximately 326,000 Russian forces fighting in Ukraine now or that Russia has just 9 percent of its stock of Kalibr long-range missiles left. […]

Operations on foreign soil would technically fall under Budanov’s purview. In the interview, he did not confirm that his special forces were behind the strikes, which targeted strategic bombers Russia has used to hit Ukrainian cities, but he said to expect more and that Ukraine has agents working inside Russia. This shattered their illusions of safety, Budanov said. There are people who plant explosives. There are drones. Until the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored, there will be problems inside Russia.

He also suggested that the Kremlin should fear collaborators in its midst. There are indeed people who are very easy to work with on that territory, people who understand that Russia should be different, he added. And we support such people. […] What’s next? Budanov asked, repeating a request that he serve up further predictions. Ukraine’s victory, he said. I’m not saying anything new.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Hardheaded support for a Ukrainian victory, Luke Coffey, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, argues in an op-ed in The Hill. “During his address to a joint session of Congress in December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky summed up US support the best: “Your money is not charity.”

Arming Ukraine to defeat Russia is in America’s interest. Regrettably, President Biden fails to explain why this is the case in a way that resonates with many Americans. Instead of explaining US support for Ukraine using hardheaded geopolitical logic, Biden prefers using the vague notions of defending “a rules-based order” as part of a “great battle of freedom.” While these normative and value-based reasons apply to Ukraine, phrases such as these mean little, if anything, to most American taxpayers.  […] While the war might be literally a “great battle of freedom” against good and evil, framing the justification for US support in this way does not show the full picture. It would serve the White House well to start narrowly focusing its rationale for supporting Ukraine to specific US national interests in an era of great power competition.  

First and foremost are the economic benefits to the American worker of helping Ukraine defend itself. Vladimir Putin is trying to undermine the stability in Europe that has allowed for the economic prosperity that benefits the US The broader transatlantic region accounts for approximately 45 percent of the global economy. Combined, the US and Europe accounted for 50 percent of global personal consumption, compared to a combined share of only 14 percent for China and India. The US and Europe were each other’s largest export markets. Forty-five of the 50 states — including the largest Pacific state, California — export more to Europe than to China. […]

American exports to Europe mean millions of American jobs. European stability, which Russia now threatens, brings untold benefits to the US economy and, by extension, to the American worker. If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spreads to other parts of the continent, the conflict will have unforeseen implications for the US economy.

The second reason why a Ukrainian victory matters for the US is China. Russia and China are intimately connected. Russia is China’s junior partner on the global stage. Many of Russia’s and China’s strategic goals overlap. Both want a weakened and divided Europe that they can exploit. Both want to weaken the transatlantic alliance. Therefore, what happens in Ukraine impacts what happens in the Indo-Pacific. If Russia is defeated or weakened in Ukraine, China becomes indirectly weaker. Beijing is also watching the Western response to Russia’s invasion closely. This could influence — for better or for worse — Beijing’s decision-making regarding Taiwan. A strong and victorious Ukraine makes Taiwan stronger. […]

Ukraine is dismantling the conventional armed forces of the Russian Federation at a rate that many assumed to be unthinkable, and at a financial cost that many assumed was impossible. According to open-source reporting based on visual evidence, more than 8,700 major pieces of Russian military equipment — including 1,630 main battle tanks, 1,935 infantry fighting vehicles, 68 aircraft, 75 helicopters and 12 naval ships — have been taken off the battlefield.  Considering that these Russian losses are the ones that have been documented with visual proof, the true number likely is far greater.

The US has provided $27.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. This equals 3.2 percent of the fiscal year 2023 defense budget, about one-tenth of 1 percent of America’s GDP, or about $3.50 from each American taxpayer per week. For this meager investment, and without a single drop of American blood, the American taxpayer has funded the degradation of the armed forces of one of America’s top geopolitical adversaries.

To keep up congressional and public support for America’s long-term assistance to Ukraine, Biden must start making the case to the American people framed around US national interestsThere is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Russia back into its geopolitical box. It would be a tragedy if this opportunity were squandered because of a White House public relations problem.”

Ukraine is fighting for all of us. Now Europe must fight Putin too, Simon Tisdall argued in The Guardian on 22 January. “Europe must fight. The realisation has been slow in coming. Yet almost one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, most western governments finally understand Kyiv’s war for survival is their war, too. It’s a fight to the death for Ukraine, but also for European democracy, rights and values. It’s a fight against the historical evils of fascism and imperialism embodied by Vladimir Putin, a dictator for our age.

Europe must fight. It really has no choice. As Russia doubles down, threatening a huge new offensive, a turning point approaches when tragedy turns to ruin – or triumph. This moment, when the war has become familiar and wearying, is the moment of maximum danger. From Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Poland and the Baltic Republics, the flow of arms is turning into an urgent torrent. The EU is toughening its stance, too. Council of ministers president Charles Michel urged Europe to be “very ambitious” in helping Kyiv withstand imminent attack. The following weeks can be decisive because of the military situation. There is a risk of a massive assault, he warned. […]

Fears of an escalating, even nuclear conflict […] are daily trumped by the horror of Putin’s relentless butcheryMilitary escalation has become unavoidable, as shown by the ineluctable shift from providing light weapons last spring to advanced missile systems, state-of-the-art artillery, armoured fighting vehicles – and now, main battle tanks. […]

In their hearts, Europeans know full well that defeat would be disastrous. Surveys show public opinion remains overwhelmingly hostile to Russia. While many people would back a negotiated settlement, they realise it’s unobtainable at present. […] Europe, in order to prevail, must fight back with everything it’s got, even at the risk of national armed forces ultimately becoming directly engaged. […] Ukrainians fight for all of us, so why tie their hands?

East and central European politicians have a clearer-eyed estimation of the physical Russian threat, rooted in history. They want NATO to send combat aircraft, too. How different things might be today, they suggest, had a less chary western alliance deployed such weapons last spring.

It’s a question Joe Biden […] should ask himself as he dithers anew, this time over Kyiv’s plea for long-range missiles that could hit bases in occupied Crimea and Russia itself. Emotionally, Biden gets it. Visiting Warsaw last March, he blurted out: “For God’s sake, this man [Putin] cannot remain in power.” Yet politically, his instinct is to play safe – even when safety is an illusion.

It’s pointless blaming the US, which provides the lion’s share of arms and aid – including $2.5bn last week alone. Europe must fight its own battles and not hide […].  Putin’s belief that he’s now in a fight to the finish feeds a growing sense of emergency.

By offering a squadron of Challenger tanks last week, the UK gave Europe an important nudge. It will cost so much more in human lives and so much more in money if we allow this to be a long, drawn-out attritional war, foreign secretary James Cleverly said. We should look to bring it to a conclusion quickly, the conclusion has to be Ukrainian victory. And that dictates therefore that we need to intensify our support. […]

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former Nato secretary general, said Kyiv should have all the tanks it needs. And it was time to close the skies over Ukraine to prevent more civilian deaths. Rasmussen’s appeal recalled last summer’s arguments over whether Nato should create safe havens or a no-fly zone over all or part of Ukraine – suggestions dismissed as too dangerous. Thousands of Ukrainians have since paid in blood for that shameful reluctance while vital infrastructure and millions of homes have sustained incalculable damage.

If Europe is to win the fight it is in, it must revisit such military options and wean itself off the too careful half measures and incrementalism that have bedevilled its approach so far. Retired general Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe, warned a crunch was fast approaching. We’ve got to give Ukraine the weapons to eject Russia. Russia is not relenting on what it’s doing. Putin is mobilising more forces. He is planning for another offensive, Clark said. Promised additional weaponry and assistance was still insufficient, he said. We have got to get serious. […]

Risk-averse NATO has been too slow and too cautious from the start. To outpace tyranny, Europe must fight – and fight to win. Our common future depends on it.»

 

Hans Petter Midttun: Luke Coffey’s advice to President Biden applies to all Western Head of States. To keep political and public support for Western long-term assistance to Ukraine, they must start making the case to Americans, Canadians and Europeans framed around both national interests and those of the individuals.

Their strategic messaging needs to explain the broader confrontation, its multiple and far-reaching consequences and what is at stake. They need to present the logic behind NATO’s previous strategic concept, explaining why the Alliance needs to use all of the tools at its disposal to stop the war in Ukraine.

NATO will actively employ an appropriate mix of those political and military tools to help manage developing crises that have the potential to affect Alliance security before they escalate into conflicts; to stop ongoing conflicts where they affect Alliance security; and to help consolidate stability in post-conflict situations where that contributes to Euro-Atlantic security.”

Presenting the Russian war in Ukraine for what it is – a part of a broader confrontation – would be a starting point.

Ukraine is only an object and not the strategic aim of a wider strategy. It is a conflict between Russia and the West over the world order, and the conflicting ideas of the authoritarian “Russian World” and the Western liberal democracies. A Russian victory in Ukraine is, however, a prerequisite for its global ambitions.

On the eve of the NATO summit in Madrid in June, the Lithuanian President, Gitanas Nauseda, said that The war [in Ukraine] has fundamentally challenged the security architecture of the West. Russia has been publicly challenging the West for at least the past 15 years. It has tried to gain the upper hand through aggressive action, first in Georgia in 2008, then in Ukrainian Crimea and Donbas in 2014. Despite all this, some Western countries have continued business as usual with Moscow, some even expanding their cooperation. For decades, the West has failed to understand what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime is about — namely expansionism, revisionism, violence, rule by fear and coercion. Russia is not interested in creation or cooperation, but rather in destruction and rule by force. The time has come to understand that Russia cannot be stopped by persuasion, cooperation, appeasement or concessions. Russia takes such gestures as a sign of weakness, as permission to expand and intensify its onslaught.  Putin is clear in his desire to subvert Western values, cut the links between North America and Europe, and subdue Europe to Russia’s will.”

In ultimatums to the USA and the member states of the Alliance on 17 December 2021, it told NATO to refrain from any further enlargement; withdraw from all countries which joined the Alliance after 1997; to stop flying heavy bombers or deploying surface warships in areas “where they can attack targets in the territory” of Russia, in principle demanding NATO to refrain from operating in the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic, as well as the airspace over Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. Additionally, the USA was told to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe and eliminate all existing infrastructure on the continent.

Russian strategic narrative focus on NATO. Its strategic documents describe the Alliance as a threat. It frames its neighbours’ desire for NATO membership as protection against an aggressive, imperialistic and ever-increasing Russia as an eastern expansion of NATO. Russia accuses the West of what itself is doing, claiming that the US, NATO and the EU are waging an information war, economic war, war of proxy and total war against Russia. Their sanctions are portrayed as an act of aggression.

In September 2021, the EU parliament assessed that the EU member states were exposed to a Russian hybrid war. As most of the EU members are also NATO members, this means that the Alliance is also exposed to Russian aggression.

Acknowledging the full scope and scale of the Russian aggressions would help explain why NATO already is a part of a broader confrontation and needs to act accordingly.

A second step would be to explain the wider implications of the war. Russia is using military power to redraw internally recognised borders, subjugate other countries waging and dismantle the international security architecture in support of its own national interests.

A victory in Ukraine means that Russia will be emboldened to uphold its aggressive foreign policy and not least, its wider confrontation against the West. A victory does not necessarily mean occupation of the whole of Ukraine or political control of the country. Being allowed to keep occupied territories and achieving a silent acceptance of the status quo, is a victory. Aggressions will have been rewarded. Equally important, it will have established the perfect launching pad for its next war.

It will be seen as a victory over Ukraine, the USA, NATO, and the EU. It means that its armed forces and ability to influence Europe move 1000 km closer to Berlin, Paris, Brussels, and London. Ukraine will forever be a zone of conflict as the Ukrainian nation – Ukrainians – will never surrender. European security will be impaired for decades to come.

An emboldened Russia will also embolden anyone else with an imperialistic mindset or unsettled border dispute. It will have shown that their strategic aim and objectives can be achieved through the use of military force because the West lacks the will and ability to stop them. The risk of a military confrontation in the Pacific region will increase because of a Russian victory in Europe.

A Russian win will undermine the credibility of the USA and NATO. US and UK credibility will suffer the most because of their Budapest Memorandum pledge. In the 1994 memorandum, the US, Russia, and the UK committed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country. It also provided Ukraine with security guarantees if it were to become a victim of an act of aggression. Those assurances played a key role in persuading Ukraine to give up its nuclear arsenal, consisting of some 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads. Allowing Ukraine to fall and walking away from their pledge would undermine their credibility.

NATO’s credibility is already suffering because it in the face of Russian threats and aggressions has walked back on its past commitment to stop conflicts that affect the security of its member states. In its latest NATO Strategic Concept-2022, the member states commitment to do less. It has failed to respond resolutely to 15 years of Russian provocations and transgressions of international laws. It has been deterred by the Russian nuclear “fait accompli” strategy. It has failed to acknowledge the hybrid war Russia is waging against its member states and is, consequently, facing several signs of internal discord. If the US decides to dodge its commitment to Europe after Europe has committed to US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for decades, the USA might find that a ninth sign of discord will be surfacing: The lack of trust.

A third step would be to outline the broader consequences of the war on the USA and the rest of Europe. Luke Coffey highlighted the economic interconnection between the US and European economies.

American exports to Europe mean millions of American jobs. European stability, which Russia now threatens, brings untold benefits to the US economy and, by extension, to the American worker. If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spreads to other parts of the continent, the conflict will have unforeseen implications for the US economy.”

The war has, however, already wider implications for both the US and European economies. I have long stressed that the “tsunami of ripple effects” of the war will have major global consequences. This includes increased costs of living, food and energy insecurity, increased famine, recession, and more. This increases the likelihood of social unrest, increased extremism, riots, and the fall of governments. The political landscape in the USA and Europe will – as in the 1930s – most likely be changed by political forces seeking to exploit the voters’ frustration.

Norwegian media is slowly reducing its focus on Russian warfare in Ukraine to the benefit of opinion polls showing shifting political support, as well as the massive increases in costs of food and electricity, increasing bank interests, labour disputes and demands for higher salaries. All of these conflicts are today very much present across all of Europe.

Until the Head of States and Governments start connecting the dots and explaining the broader confrontation, its multiple and far-reaching consequences and what is at stake in real terms understandable to most, they will lack the support to do what is needed to end the war. Public opinion will continue to shift from the abstracts of security and defence policy to their everyday practical challenges.

At the end of the day, politicians need to describe security and defence – the war – in a manner that put people’s present challenges into perspective.

Yes, the “tsunami of ripple effects” from the war is causing real and deepfelt global consequences. Allowing Russia to succeed will greatly increase the costs. Furthermore, the present costs will continue to increase the longer the war continues.

The only way to alleviate the present situation – that being the suffering and destruction in Ukraine or the “tsunami of ripple effects” – is to end the war. That will require NATO to intervene militarily.

It is high time Head of States and Governments start explaining why military intervention in Ukraine is in NATO’s interest.

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