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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 345: Von der Leyen believes Ukraine will become an EU member

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Von der Leyen believes Ukraine will become an EU member. The European Parliament adopted a resolution regarding Ukraine’s EU accession negotiations. A Ukrainian intelligence official stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to capture Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March 2023.

Daily overview — Summary report, February 4

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, February 4, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. February 2, 2023. Source ISW.

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Day 345 of the full-scale russian military aggression has begun.
The russian federation does not abandon its intentions to destroy the critical infrastructure of our state, continues to strike civilian objects and homes of the civilian population.
Over the past day, the enemy launched 4x rocket attacks, 2x of which hit the civilian infrastructure of the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, as well as 5x air strikes. They carried out more than 70x attacks from MLRS on civilian objects in the Kherson Oblast and Mykolaiv Oblast. Civilians were killed and wounded by enemy strikes.
The threat of further russian air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains high.
The adversary, suffering heavy losses, does not stop offensive operations on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivsk axes.
Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces have repelled attacks by occupiers in the areas of the settlements of Stelmakhivka, Nevske, and Bilogorivka in the Luhansk Oblast and Verkhnyokamianske, Mykolaivka, Krasna Gora, Paraskoviivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, and Kurdyumivka in the Donetsk Oblast.
Kharkiv Battle Map. February 02, 2023. Source ISW.
Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the situation has stabilized, no signs of the formation of offensive groups of the enemy have been detected. The occupiers shelled the districts of Klyusy, Gremyach and Yeliny of the Chernihiv Oblast; Murawayni, Tovstodubovo, Studenko, Katerynivka, Vovkivka, and Volfyno in Sumy Oblast, and Veterinary, Kozachoa Lopan, Strelecha, Glyboky, Zeleni, Staritsa, Ogirtsevo, Gatysh, Vovchansk, Vovchansky Khutori, Okhrimivka, and Novomlynsk in Kharkiv Oblast.
Kupiansk axis: the enemy shelled the areas of the settlements of Dvorichna, Golubivka, Kupiansk, Kucherivka, Kislivka and Kotlyarivka in the Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk Oblast.
Lyman axis: Terny, Makiivka, Chervonopivka, Dibrova and Torske in the Luhansk Oblast were shelled.
Donetsk Battle Map. February 02, 2023. Source ISW.
Bakhmut axis: Spirne, Bilogorivka, Paraskoviivka, Vesele, Bakhmut and Ivanivske of the Donetsk Oblast were affected by fire.
Avdiivka axis: Avdiivka, Tonenke, Vesele, Severne, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, Krasnohorivka, Georgiivka, Mariinka, Pobieda and Novomykhailivka were under enemy fire.
Novopavlivsk axis: the occupiers shelled Bogoyavlenka, Vugledar, Prechistivka, Velika Novosilka, and Neskuchne in the Donetsk Oblast.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. February 2, 2023. Source ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: areas of more than 40x settlements were shelled by mortars, barrel and rocket artillery. Among them are Vremivka of Donetsk Oblast; Gulyaipilske and Kamianske in Zaporizhzhia, as well as Kherson, Zolota Balka, Mykhailivka, Havrylivka, Mylove, Burgunka, Novotyaginka and Kizomys in the Kherson Oblast.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. February 2, 2023. Source ISW.
During the past day, the aviation of the Defense Forces struck 4x areas where the occupiers were concentrated. Our defenders also destroyed a russian UAV of the “Merlin” type. Units of rocket and artillery troops hit the control post, 3x areas of concentration of manpower and the enemy’s ammunition depot.

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Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.
Defenders of Ukraine on front line received Ukrainian newly-made 82mm mortar shells. Defenders of Ukraine on the front line received Ukrainian mortar shells of the 82 mm caliber, which can hit the enemy at a distance of up to 4,500 meters, state concern “Ukroboronprom” reported. In January of this year, Ukroboronprom announced that the production of 82-mm fragmentation shells had begun abroad. Serial production has been established at the facilities of one of the NATO member countries.

SAMP/T anti-missile system will be in Ukraine in 7–8 weeks – Italian FM.  As an international community, ”what we must do is commit ourselves to defending Ukrainian independence and working for peace”, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani stated when interviewed on ‘Casa Italia’.

Russia has mobilized “much more” than 300,000 troops and plans an offensive in February — Ukraine’s defense minister, and that is why Ukraine needs more military support from western allies, including “air resources” to not lose the initiative, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in an interview with French BFMTV.

Russia is preparing for “maximum escalation” possibly in the next 2-3 weeks – Ukraine Security Council secretary Danilov. In his interview with Sky News, Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC), did not rule out the possibility that Russia attempts another attack from the north, south, and east, as happened on 24 February 2022 – maybe even to coincide with the anniversary.

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

The scale of Russian paramilitary Wagner Group’s convict recruitment programme has probably significantly reduced from its peak between summer and autumn 2022.

The Russian Federal Penal Service (FSIN) figures released on 31 January 2023 reported a national penal population of 433,000, suggesting a decrease of 6000 inmates since November 2022. In contrast, FSIN data had indicated a decrease of 23,000 from September to November 2022. Wagner recruitment was likely a major contributing factor to this drop.
Separately, anecdotal evidence from Ukrainian combatants over the last ten days suggests a reduced Russian reliance on human wave style assaults by Wagner convict fighters in key sectors. Significant tensions between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defence are playing out in public; competition between factions in the Russian elite is likely to be partially responsible for the reduced supply of convicts.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source Ukrinform.

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1621220679784751111

Russian military killed eight and injured 16 civilians in Ukraine during Feb 1, incl children. On February 1, Russian military killed at least 8 people in Ukraine and wounded twice as many: 4 people died and 1 person was injured in Chernihiv Oblast, 2 people were wounded in Kharkiv Oblast, 1 person was wounded in Luhansk Oblast, 3 people died and 8 were wounded in Donetsk Oblast, in the Kherson Oblast – 1 person died and 4 people were injured, including a 5-old child.

Russia targeted the city center of Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s east for the second time in two days, wounded five civilians. The Russian troops have shelled the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk in Donetsk Oblast for the second time in two days. There are at least five wounded civilians, Oblast head Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Environmental

Ukraine’s ex-deputy defense minister, officials detained for money laundering on food procurement. On 2 February, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (DBR) detained the country’s ex-deputy defense minister, officials, servicemen, and businessmen on accusations of money laundering on food procurement. The DBR, created in 2016 as part of Ukraine’s anti-corruption reform to investigate high-ranking criminal offenses, claimed that five detained servicemen and entrepreneurs were supplying food for Ukraine’s military units at inflated prices, while former Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov was lobbying for their contracts on state food procurement.

Support

Russia’s invasion spurs debate on how Switzerland can help Ukraine with tanks – Bloomberg. After the recent German announcement of tank supplies to Ukraine, 96 mothballed Leopard 2 tanks set for decommissioning in neutral Switzerland re-emerged into the public eye last weekend. Shipping them to Ukraine is out of the question, but mainstream Swiss politicians are now calling for the Leopards to be sold for as little as one symbolic franc to Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, replacing the tanks that their governments plan to send to Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.

European Council agreed on 545 million euro assistance package for Ukraine. Ahead of the summit between the European Union and Ukraine, the European Council today adopted assistance measures under the European Peace Facility (EPF) that provide further military assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. These consist of a seventh package worth €500 million, and a new €45 million assistance measure supporting the training efforts of the European Union Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine).

Britons have donated £400m to Ukraine through the Disasters Emergency Committee. Britons have donated £400m to Ukraine through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). DEC provided aid including food, generators, life-saving kits, and incubators for premature babies. This huge amount, with donations from community groups, companies, foundations and above all millions of individual donors from the UK public, makes the DEC the biggest charity donor to the Ukraine humanitarian response.

French Thales company will sell two GM-200 radars to Ukraine after Ukraine’s defense minister’s visit to France. French Thales company will supply two GM-200 radars for Ukraine to reinforce Ukraine’s air defense. This was reported by Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznnikov following his visit to France on 1 February 2023. He signed the corresponding memorandum with Thales company.

UK has not made a “solid decision” not to send its fighter jets to Ukraine – UK Defense Minister Wallace. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK has not made a “solid decision” not to send its fighter jets to Ukraine, but does not think it is the right approach “for now,” The Guardian reported. On 31 January, the UK government spokesperson said supplying western jets was not practical: “These are sophisticated pieces of equipment. We do not think it is practical to send those jets into Ukraine.”

New Developments 

Von der Leyen believes Ukraine will become an EU member. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, believes that Ukraine will become a member of the European Union. She stated this on Thursday during a joint meeting of the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine in Kyiv, the correspondent of European Pravda reports.

European Parliament adopted resolution re Ukraine EU accession negotiations. Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution detailing its expectations for the upcoming summit between EU and Ukrainian political leaders in Kyiv on 3 February. The text demands the EU “work towards the start of the accession negotiations and to support a roadmap outlining the next steps to enable Ukraine’s accession to the EU single market”.

Ukraine to participate in the EU’s Single Market program. Following joint consultations with the Board of the European Commission, two documents were signed, which Ukraine’s PM called “important”:

  • Agreement on Ukraine’s participation in the EU program “Single Market”. The budget of the program is 4.2 billion euros, and one of its main components is the development of business competitiveness. “Our participation in this project will contribute to additional support for Ukrainian entrepreneurs, who are the foundation of our economy,” Ukraine’s PM Shmyhal added.
  • Memorandum between Ukraine and the EU on strategic partnership in renewable gases, biomethane, hydrogen, and other synthetic gases. “Ukraine has extraordinary potential in this field, which is the future of energy,” Shmyhal said.

First illustrated book about Russo-Ukrainian war to be published after huge support on Kickstarter. A Ukrainian creative team, Books & Cartoons, has prepared the first illustrated book about the Russo-Ukrainian which includes 500 stories about the biggest war since WWII in Ukraine. The book is planned as mainly illustrations of the best Ukrainian designers with short concentrated descriptions.

International Federation of Journalists to expel Russia after four countries walk out in protest. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has yet to expel the Russian Union of Journalists, even though it has established regional branches in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The unions of the four countries, namely Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, accused the IFJ of corruption and lack of transparency and would, in protest, quit the federation.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  February 3, 2022:

A Ukrainian intelligence official stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to capture Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March 2023, supporting ISW’s most likely course of action assessment (MLCOA) for a Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Representative Andriy Chernyak told the Kyiv Post on February 1 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March 2023.[1] Chernyak also stated that Russian forces are redeploying additional unspecified assault groups, units, weapons, and military equipment to unspecified areas of eastern Ukraine, likely in the Luhansk Oblast area.

Russian authorities blocked internet cell service in occupied Luhansk Oblast likely as part of an effort to intensify operational security to conceal new Russian force deployments in Luhansk Oblast. The only mobile cell service provider in Russian-occupied Luhansk Oblast reported on February 2 that it would suspend mobile internet coverage in Luhansk Oblast starting on February 11 on orders from the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media.[2] The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian officials already disabled mobile internet in occupied Luhansk Oblast as of February 2.[3] Ukrainian citizens have used cell phones to collect information about Russian forces in occupied Ukraine and send targeting information to the Ukrainian military.[4] Russian forces may be learning from their previous operational security failures and adapting to protect Russian force concentrations in Luhansk Oblast ahead of the major offensive about which Ukrainian officials are increasingly warning.[5]

Putin may have overestimated the Russian military’s own capabilities again, as ISW previously assessed.[6] ISW has not observed any evidence that Russian forces have restored sufficient combat power to defeat Ukraine’s forces in eastern Ukraine and capture over 11,300 square kilometers of unoccupied Donetsk Oblast (over 42 percent of Donetsk Oblast’s total area) before March as Putin reportedly ordered. ISW previously assessed that a major Russian offensive before April 2023 would likely prematurely culminate during the April spring rain season (if not before) before achieving operationally significant effects.[7] Russian forces’ culmination could then generate favorable conditions for Ukrainian forces to exploit in their own late spring or summer 2023 counteroffensive after incorporating Western tank deliveries.[8]

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov supported ISW’s MLCOA assessment and possibly suggested that Russian forces have mobilized substantially more personnel for an imminent offensive. Reznikov stated on February 2 that Russian forces are preparing to launch an offensive, likely in eastern or southern Ukraine.[9] Reznikov stated that Ukrainian officials estimate that the number of mobilized Russian personnel is higher than the Kremlin’s official 300,000 figure.[10] Reznikov stated that the Kremlin mobilized 500,000 Russian soldiers, although it is unclear whether this figure refers to Russian force generation efforts following the start of partial mobilization in September of 2022 or the total number of forces that Russia has committed to the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Kyrylo Budanov stated on January 31 that there are currently 326,000 Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, excluding the 150,000 mobilized personnel still at training grounds.[11] The total 476,000 personnel could be representative of Reznikov‘s figure, or the 500,000 figure could reflect an assessment that ongoing Russian crypto-mobilization efforts since the end of the first mobilization wave have generated a substantial number of additional forces. ISW has not observed indicators that crypto-mobilization efforts in past months have produced as many as 200,000 additional mobilized personnel, however, although it is possible. The mobilization of 300,000 Russian citizens generated far-reaching domestic social ramifications and provisioning challenges, and the further covert mobilization of another 200,000 personnel would likely produce similarly noticeable problems.

Russian officials are continuing efforts to frame the war in Ukraine as an existential threat to Russian audiences in order to set information conditions for a protracted war and maintain domestic support for continued military operations. In a February 2 speech at a concert dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi troops by the Red Army in the Battle of Stalingrad, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia is once again facing a modern manifestation of Nazism that is directly threatening Russian security.[12] Putin falsely accused the collective West of forcing Russia to repel its aggression and remarked that Russia is “once against being threatened with German Leopard tanks” that are “going to fight with Russia on the soil of Ukraine with the hands of Hitler‘s descendants.” [13] Putin has previously similarly weaponized erroneous historical parallels to analogize the “special military operation” in Ukraine with the Great Patriotic War, partially in an effort to set long-term information conditions for a protracted war in Ukraine.[14] German tanks, and Ukraine and the West more generally, are nowhere near attacking Russian borders. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov similarly perpetuated the information operation that the war in Ukraine poses a tangible domestic threat to Russia on February 2 and claimed that Western-supplied long-range weapons necessitate efforts to drive Ukrainian artillery far enough away from Russian territory that Ukraine will no longer be able to strike these areas.[15] Lavrov is advancing an ongoing information operation that seeks to highlight the fictional threat of Ukrainian ground attacks on Russian territory to make the consequences of the war seem more salient to a domestic audience.

These efforts on the part of Russian officials are not succeeding in generating the likely desired effect of motivating Russians to want to participate in the war, however. Russian State Services announced that as of February 2, the acceptance of applications for new passports has been suspended.[16] Russian research and design joint-stock company Goznak (responsible for manufacturing security products such as banknotes and identity cards) responded with a statement that it has received an inundation of applications for the personalization of foreign passports, which require special embedded microchips.[17] The shortage of microchips for passports and subsequent suspension of passport applications are in part consequences of the mass application for foreign passports in 2022, partially due to the exodus caused by partial mobilization.[18] The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that it issued over 5.4 million passports in 2022, 40% more than in the previous year.[19] The increase in passport applications indicates that social conditioning efforts to bring the “special military operation” home to Russia and reinvigorate patriotic fervor are not having the desired effect. The Kremlin need not look further than passport statistics to poll domestic attitudes on the Russian population’s desire to fight Putin’s war.[20]

Key Takeaways

  • A Ukrainian intelligence official stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to capture Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March 2023, supporting ISW’s most likely course of action assessment (MLCOA) for a Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.
  • Russian authorities blocked internet cell service in occupied Luhansk Oblast likely as part of an effort to intensify operational security to conceal new Russian force deployments in Luhansk Oblast.
  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov supported ISW’s MLCOA assessment and possibly suggested that Russian forces have mobilized substantially more personnel for an imminent offensive.
  • Russian officials are continuing efforts to frame the war in Ukraine as an existential threat to Russian audiences in order to set information conditions for protracted war and maintain domestic support for continued military operations.  These efforts on the part of Russian officials are not succeeding in generating the likely desired effect of motivating Russians to want to participate in the war, however.
  • Russian and Ukrainian sources suggested that Russian forces may be preparing offensive actions in the Svatove area.
  • Russian forces intensified ground attacks in the Kreminna area on February 2.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks northeast and southwest of Bakhmut.
  • Russian officials are likely trying to prepare the Russian military’s disciplinary apparatus for an influx of mobilized personnel.
  • Russian forces and occupation authorities continue efforts to identify and arrest Crimean Tatars on allegations that they associate with extremist movements banned in Russia.
  • Russian federal subjects and occupation authorities continued announcing patronage programs to support infrastructure projects in occupied territories.

 

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