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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 350: Ukraine extends martial law and mobilization till mid-May 2023

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Ukraine extends martial law and mobilization till mid-May 2023. Three EU countries to deliver 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine. Fighter jets, and long-range missiles are Ukraine’s priority at Munich Security Conference.

Daily overview — Summary report, February 8

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, February 8, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. February 7, 2023. Source: ISW.

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Day 350 of the full-scale russian military aggression has begun.
The enemy, trying to take full control of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, continues to focus its main efforts on conducting offensive operations on the Kup’ansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka axes, and in the Kreminna, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Opytne, Mariinka and Vugledar areas. Suffers significant losses, especially in manpower.
Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of Novoselyvske, Chervonpopivka, Shypylivka and Bilogorivka of the Luhansk Oblast and Verkhnyokam’anske, Fedorivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Spirne, Vy’yimka, Bakhmut, Krasna Gora, Paraskoviivka, Ivanovske, Chasiv Yar, Kamianka, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Mar’inka and Bogoyavlenka of the Donetsk Oblast.
During the day, the enemy launched 8x missile strikes, 5x of which hit the civilian infrastructure of the city of Kharkiv, and 21x air strikes. In addition, the enemy carried out 39x attacks from MLRS, in particular, on the civilian infrastructure of Mykolaiv and Kherson Oblasts. Residential buildings were damaged.
The threat of further russian air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains high.
Kharkiv Battle Map. February 7, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn’, Polissya, Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: there were no changes in the and no signs of the formation of offensive groups were detected. The areas of Zarutske, Popivka and Sadky settlements of Sumy Oblast and Veterynarne, Strilecha, Krasne, Glyboke, Lyptsi, Starytsa, Morokhovets, Zelene, Neskuchne, Gatyshche, Vovchansk, Budarky, Vilkhuvatka, Krasne Pershe, Novomlyns’k and Kamianka in Kharkiv Oblast were shelled. The occupiers deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle with a combat load in the Volfyne of the Sumy Oblast.
Kup’yansk and Lyman axes: the vicinities of more than 40x settlements were affected by fire. Among them are Dvorichna, Hryanykivka, Kucherivka, Kup’yansk, Kurylivka, Kyslivka, Kotlyarivka, Tabaivka, Berestovka, Krokhmalne, Vyshneve, and Kuzmyne of the Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Chervonpopivka, Novoyehorivka, Makiivka, Ploschanka, Nevsky, Pishchane, Kreminna, Dibrova and Belogorivka in Luhansk Oblast. The enemy carried out airstrikes in the areas of Kotlyarivka, Krokhmalne, and Bilogorivka.
Donetsk Battle Map. February 7, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: in particular, Spirne, Berestove, Bilogorivka, Rozdolivka, Zaliznianske, Paraskoviivka, Krasna Gora, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Mykolayivka, Predtechyne, Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka, New York and Vesele of the Donetsk Oblast were under fire. And in general – more than 30x settlements.
Avdiivka and Novopavlivsk axes: Avdiivka, Vodyane, Mar’yinka, Pobieda, Novomykha’livka, Vugledar, Zolota Nyva and Neskuchne of the Donetsk Oblast were under tank, mortar and artillery shelling. Air strikes by the occupiers were recorded near Avdiivka, Nevelsky and Mar’yinka. In the Vodyane area, the russian invaders dropped non-lethal K-51 aerosol tear gas grenades from UAVs on the positions of our troops.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. February 7, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia axis: more than 30x settlements, in particular, Novopil, Olgivske, Malynivka, Gulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Mala Tokmachka, Orihiv, Novodanylivka, Novoandriivka, Shcherbaki, Mali Shcherbaki, and Stepove of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, were affected by fire. The enemy launched airstrikes near Olhivske and Gulyaipole.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. February 7, 2023. Source ISW.
Kherson axis: 17x settlements were damaged by enemy fire. In particular, Mykhailivka, Havrylivka, Mylove, Zmiivka, Novoberislav, Kozatske, L’vove, Tyaginka, Ivanivka, Mykilske, Antonivka, Yantarne, Berehove, Veletenske and Kherson.
In the settlement of Kayiry, Kakhovka district, Kherson Oblast, the russian occupying forces forcefully take away civilian cars from the local population.
During the past 24 hours, the Air Force of the Defense Forces made 12x strikes on the areas of concentration of personnel and military equipment of the occupiers and 2x strikes on the positions of anti-aircraft missile systems. Our defenders also destroyed a russian SU-25 attack aircraft, a Mi-24 helicopter and 2x enemy UAVs “Orlan”. Our missile and artillery troops hit 2x enemy control points, 7x manpower concentration areas and an ammunition depot.

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Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.
https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1622942353550974976

Ukraine fires more artillery shells daily than some European countries produce per year – Financial Times. Ukrainian forces fire 5-6 thousand rounds of artillery ammunition each day, according to Morten Brandtzaeg, the CEO of the Norway-based international aerospace and defense company Nammo, the Financial Times reported. Such amount of artillery shells equals the stock of ammunition that an average European country reserves for its army for an entire year, Morten Brandtzaeg told the Financial Times.

Russia’s state-run corporation to create another military company like Wagner – Ukraine’s Intel. Ukraine’s Intelligence leaked the order of Russia’s government signed by the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin, according to which Gazprom Neft, the subsidiary of Russia’s state-run natural gas monopolist Gazprom, should allocate funds to create a new military company.

Ukraine’s NSDC chief hints Ukraine has weapons to strike Russian territory. Speaking to CNN, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council chief Oleksiy Danilov hinted that Ukraine has capabilities to strike Russian territory. “Regarding Russian territory, nobody prohibits us to destroy targets with weapons produced in Ukraine. Do we have such weapons? Yes, we do,” Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Monday.

Ukraine shoots down Su-25 above Bakhmut. Soldiers of the Border Guard Service of Ukraine shot down a Russian Su-25 attack jet in the sky over Bakhmut, a hotspot of Russian offensive operations.

Secret Ukrainian unit strikes Russia on its soil – The Guardian. Ukrainian saboteurs from the Bratstvo battalion, a volunteer group of Ukrainian special forces, are striking Russian officials on Russian territory, The Guardian reports. Three members of the battalion, which operates technically independently from Ukraine’s army but nevertheless side-by-side with the official forces, spoke with the newspaper in Kyiv.

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

  • Since Russia withdrew its forces from the west bank of the Dnipro in November 2022, skirmishing and reconnaissance has continued on the complex network of islands and waterways which make up the Dnipro delta.
  • Russian forces have almost certainly used small boats to try to main a presence on key islands; Ukraine has successfully deployed long-range artillery to neutralise Russian outposts a number of times. Both sides have likely also deployed small groups on the Kinburn Spit, which commands the Dnipro Gulf.
  • Both sides are likely aiming to maintain a presence in these areas to control maritime access to the strategically important river and to provide warning of any attempt by their adversaries to launch a major assault across the river. It is highly unlikely that Russia will attempt an assault crossing of the Dnipro: it would likely be extremely complex and costly.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of Russian Army. Source Ukrinform.

It’s possible 270,000 Russians have been killed or wounded in Ukraine-Forbes. At least 200,000. As many as 270,000. That’s how many Russian troops have died, been wounded or gone missing in the first 11 months of Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to experts. It should go without saying that such steep losses could undermine Russia’s ability to sustain current operations—to say nothing of launching a new offensive. The New York Times last week quoted US officials estimating Russian casualties as “approaching 200,000.” But the analysts at the Conflict Intelligence Team believe Russian losses could be closer to 270,000.

Humanitarian 

How to make humanitarian aid projects for Ukraine that really work. A full-scale invasion necessitates a complex and multi-step humanitarian response. Unforeseen obstacles and force majeure are encountered during the implementation of humanitarian projects. Cost estimates do not always match reality. Taking into account all potential changes is often a challenging task. The National Network for the Development of Local Philanthropy, which brings together 20 organizations from across Ukraine, is willing to cooperate with international organizations and is eager to share its knowledge about risks and ways to mitigate potential changes and their impact.

In Kharkiv’s Vovchansk, a Russian shell hit the city hospital on Feb 6, causing a fire. 8 were evacuated from the hospital’s bomb shelter – Kharkiv Oblast Head.

Ukraine extends martial law, mobilization till mid-May 2023. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has once again extended martial law and general mobilization in the country, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak informed. It will be extended for 90 days from 19 February 2023. Ukraine first introduced martial law on 24 February 2022, on the day of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Support

German Defense Minister makes surprise trip to Kyiv, first Leopard tank arrives in Ukraine. The German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv today, DW reported. Boris Pistorius met with Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Reznikov shared a photo of himself holding a scale model of a German-made Leopard 2 tank next to Pistorius on Twitter with an intriguing commentary.

Three EU countries to deliver 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine – Bloomberg. Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands will supply Ukraine with 178 older generation Leopard 1 battle tanks within the next few months, according to a joint statement of the German, Danish, and Dutch defense ministers, Bloomberg reported. Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius confirmed that the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) will start a joint initiative with Denmark and the Netherlands to support Ukraine with refurbished Leopard 1 A5 main battle tanks from industrial stocks

Fighter jets, long-range missiles are Ukraine’s priority at Munich Security Conference. Ukraine’s priority topics at the upcoming Munich Security Conference are combat jets, long-range missiles, as well as Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the future of Russia in general, according to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press service reported. The foreign minister is convinced that the conference, seen as one of the most important international defense gatherings, is important because it will address the security of Ukraine, Europe, and the world as a whole.

Only “psychological barriers” separate Ukraine from western jets – foreign minister. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has stated on air of the national newcast that Ukraine is working with its western partners to receive its first squadron of foreign fighter jets, European Pravda reported.

New Developments 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1623036488660226061

Switzerland close to ending ban on arms exports to Ukraine – Reuters. Switzerland is close to breaking with centuries of tradition as a neutral state, as a pro-Ukraine shift in the public and political mood puts pressure on the government to end a ban on exports of Swiss weapons to war zones, although lawmakers are divided on the issue, Reuters says. Under Swiss neutrality dating back to 1815 and is enshrined by a treaty in 1907, Switzerland will not send weapons directly or indirectly to combatants in a war.

Kremlin orders nationwide bomb shelter overhaul amid Russia’s war – Moscow Times. Bomb shelters across Russia are undergoing systematic inspections and repairs following a Kremlin order to upgrade the country’s crumbling Soviet-era infrastructure, according to current and former officials, The Moscow Times reports. For the first time, Russian officials confirmed that efforts to upgrade the bomb shelters were being made on orders from Moscow, the newspaper reports.

Russia buys US-made components for electronic warfare systems through Chinese, Turkish intermediaries – Russian media. Using its own subsidiaries, shell companies, and foreign intermediaries, Russia’s Rostec state-owned corporation purchases US-made components to produce electronic warfare equipment later used against Ukraine, according to an investigation by the Russian website Vazhnye Istorii. Rostec has been under US and EU sanctions since 2014.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  February 7, 2022:

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a press conference on the status of the war on February 7, likely in an attempt to posture the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) as an effective and involved leadership apparatus as the Russian military prepares for a renewed major offensive in Ukraine. Shoigu claimed that Russian forces are successfully developing operations near Bakhmut and Vuhledar and claimed that Russian troops have recently taken control of Soledar, Klishchiivka, Pidhorodne, Krasnopolivka, Blahodatne, and Mykolaivka in the Bakhmut area and Lobkove in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[1] Shoigu likely held this press conference in order to create the guise of formality and legitimacy for the Russian MoD as it continues efforts to reform the Russian military, prepare for a renewed offensive, and set conditions for prolonged operations in Ukraine. ISW has previously noted that Russian officials are preparing for an imminent Russian offensive in Ukraine in the coming months, and that these preparations are also happening on the strategic level with Russian command structures.[2]

Russian military command may be rushing to launch a large-scale offensive operation to conquer Donetsk Oblast in an unrealistic timeframe and likely without sufficient combat power. The UK MoD assessed on February 7 that Russia has highly likely been attempting to launch a major offensive operation to reach the Donetsk Oblast administrative borders since early January 2023 but had only been able to gain several hundred meters of territory per week.[3] The UK MoD attributed such a slow pace to Russian munitions shortages and a lack of maneuver units that are necessary for a successful and rapid offensive. The UK MoD noted that Russia is unlikely to build up the combat power necessary to substantially affect the outcome of the war while Russian military command continues to demand for unrealistic and sweeping advances. ISW similarly assessed on January 28 that Russian leadership may be once again planning a decisive offensive based on erroneous assumptions about Russian military capabilities and likely lacks the combat power necessary to sustain more than one major offensive operation.[4] ISW also observed the Kremlin signaling preparations for an early 2023 offensive in December but assessed that the time and space relationship may hinder Russian rapid and large-scale advance aspirations as Ukraine heads into a muddy spring season unsuitable for maneuver warfare.[5]

The Russian nationalist information space is continuing to express worry over Russia’s inability to sustain a rapid and multi-pronged decisive offensive operation on a deadline. One prominent milblogger warned that Russian forces should not fall into the trap of attempting to start numerous offensive operations like they did in spring 2022 but instead focus on gradual advances that would generate high casualties among Ukrainian forces. The milblogger added that Russian military command should prioritize tiring Ukrainian forces and disrupting their logistics rather than conducting a frontal assault. Another milblogger stated that Russia still needs to create a breakthrough force and reject its current tactic of launching small, localized offensives that waste Russian combat on “capturing fields.”[6] ISW previously assessed that Russian efforts to conduct spoiling attacks and to fix Ukrainian forces further undermine the sustainability of a major offensive.

Russian state energy company Gazprom may be creating its own private security force, likely in an effort to normalize state-affiliated paramilitary groups and undermine private military companies (PMCs). The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on February 7 that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin privately authorized Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Nafta to establish a 70 percent stake in its own private security company under a law on the safety of fuel and energy complex assets.[7] While it is not inherently unusual for state and private energy companies to establish private security forces to protect their assets, the GUR noted that the creation of this PMC aligns with ongoing tensions between the Kremlin and Wagner Group PMC financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. Russia may use these Gazprom security forces for purposes other than protecting Russian energy assets.

The Kremlin may be considering implementing some demands previously voiced by Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin to build rapport with other nationalist figures who advocated for similar policies. Head of the Russian State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption Vasily Piskarev is reportedly preparing amendments to the Russian Criminal Code to include provisions against discreditation of individuals who participated in combat operations and volunteer detachments that assist the Russian Armed Forces during the war in Ukraine.[8] Russian state media credited Prigozhin as the initiator of the amendment, and the provision will likely include Wagner mercenaries whom the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) repeatedly labeled as “volunteers.”[9] The largest Russia media holding company, Gazprom Media, is reportedly planning to ban its media outlets (which include Russian federal TV channels) from publishing content on YouTube.[10] Russian outlets also speculated that Gazprom Media’s bans may be connected to efforts to block YouTube in Russia — another initiative that Prigozhin advocated for since late 2022.[11] Both provisions, if authorized, do not legalize Wagner or elevate Prigozhin’s coveted political authority in Russia. However, those provisions appeal to the broader nationalist and milblogger communities who had been calling for stricter limitations on Western media in Russia and for the Kremlin’s recognition of volunteers — which include proxy armed formations, volunteer battalions, and the Russian Combat Reserve (BARS).

The Russian State Duma further formalized the institution of social benefit schemes in occupied territories of Ukraine in order to further consolidate administrative control of occupied areas. State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin stated on February 7 that the Duma adopted the first reading of four bills on the legislative integration of social rights of the residents of occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.[12] The bills define the minimum level of income, pension payments, sick leave, pregnancy and childcare benefits, and social support for veterans and the disabled and notably allows residents to submit documents to apply for social benefits in Ukrainian without a notarized translation into Russia.[13] The Duma bills represent the highest level of legislative integration of social benefit schemes thus far, having previously been defined and advertised in local forms by individual occupation officials. ISW continues to assess that such social benefit measures are a method of consolidating administrative control of occupied areas, as residents of occupied areas are forced to interact with Russian-controlled administrative organs to receive necessary payments.[14] The Duma bills codify and formalize these practices are part of the Russian legislative code.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is likely attempting to posture the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) as an effective and involved leadership apparatus as the Russian military prepares for a renewed major offensive in Ukraine.
  • Russian military command may be rushing to launch a large-scale offensive operation to conquer Donetsk Oblast in an unrealistic timeframe and likely without sufficient combat power.
  • The Russian nationalist information space is continuing to express worry over Russia’s inability to sustain a rapid and multi-pronged decisive offensive operation on a deadline.
  • Russian state energy company Gazprom may be creating its own private security force, likely in an effort to normalize state-affiliated paramilitary groups and undermine non-state private military companies (PMCs).
  • The Kremlin may be implementing some demands previously voiced by Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin to build rapport with other nationalist figures who advocated for similar policies.
  • The Russian State Duma further formalized the institution of social benefit schemes in occupied territories of Ukraine in order to further consolidate administrative control of occupied areas.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks near Svatove and Kreminna.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces did not make confirmed territorial gains on the southern axis.
  • Russian officials appear to be investing in railway infrastructure to increase the efficiency of military logistics.
  • The Russian MoD is reportedly proposing a bill to allow all military personnel, including conscripts, to voluntarily participate in Russian peacekeeping missions.

 

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