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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 352: Zelenskyy addresses EU Parliament

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 352: Zelenskyy addresses EU Parliament

Russian forces continued offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast, made tactical gains near Bakhmut and sustained heavy losses near Vuhledar. UK to train Ukrainian pilots, provide Ukraine with longer-range capabilities. Zelenskyy addresses European Parliament.

Daily overview — Summary report, February 9

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, February 9, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. February 9, 2023. Source: ISW.

 

“[The Russian Federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine. Russian forces do not abandon their intentions to destroy the critical infrastructure of our country, and continue to hit civilian targets and residences.]

Russian forces continue to focus their main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Novopavlivka axes in the Oblasts of Kreminnaya, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Opytny, Mariinka, and Vugledar. Actively uses operational-tactical and army aviation to strike the positions of our troops.

Over the past day, units of the Defence Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of Hryanikyvka and Masyutivka settlements of the Kharkiv Oblast; Stelmakhivka and Dibrova – Luhansk and Fedorivka, Krasna Gora, Bakhmut, Ivanovske, Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka, Paraskoviivka and Prechistivka in Donetsk Oblast.

Over the past day, Russian forces launched 52 air strikes and 6 missile strikes, 2 of which hit the civilian infrastructure of the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast. Also, the occupiers fired 63 rockets from MLRS, in particular at the civilian infrastructure of Donetsk and Kherson Oblasts.

The threat of further Russian air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains high.

Kharkiv Battle Map. February 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: there were no changes, and no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups were detected. Areas of 27 settlements were shelled. Among them are Senkivka and Gai of Chernihiv Oblast; Novovasylivka, Studenok, Volfyne, Basivka, Mykolaivka, Oleksandrivka, Velyka Pisarivka in Sumy Oblast and Udy, Veterinarne, Kozacha Lopan, Mali Prohody, Staritsa and Dvorichna in the Kharkiv Oblast.
  • Kupiansk and Lyman axes: the areas of Sinkivka, Kup’yansk, Pishchane, Berestov, Kharkiv Oblast were hit by fire; Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Chervopopivka, Dibrova and Serebryanske forestry in Luhansk Oblast and Torske in Donetsk Oblast.
Donetsk Battle Map. February 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the areas of Mykolaivka, Spirne, Vasyukivka, Vesele, Berestov, Belogorivka, Krasna Gora, Chasiv Yar, Bohdanivka, Ivanovske, Bakhmut, Oleksandro-Shultyne, Toretsk, Severnye and Mayorsk of the Donetsk Oblast were hit by shelling.
  • Avdiivka and Novopavlivka axes: Kamianka, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Georgiivka, Mariinka, Bogoyavlenka, Novomykhailivka, Neskuchne, Zolota Niva, Prechistivka and Ugledar of the Donetsk Oblast were under tank, mortar and artillery fire.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. February 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia Oblast: the areas of the settlements of Vremivka and Novopil in Donetsk Oblast and Temyrivka, Olhivske, Staroukrainske, Gulyaipole, Chervone, Stepove, Shcherbaki, Novoandriivka, Orihiv, Novodanilivka, Mala Tokmachka and Charivne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast were hit by fire.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. February 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Kherson axis: the areas of 22 settlements were affected by enemy fire, including Kachkarivka, Tokarivka, Vesele, Antonivka, Sadove, Komyshany, Berehove and Kherson.

The Russian invaders continue to carry out filtering measures in the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson Oblast. For example, in the city of Gola Prystan’, FSB employees of the Russian Federation conduct checks of documents and personal belongings of local residents, paying special attention to telephones.

In order to replenish losses, the Russian occupiers brought mercenaries from the so-called “Wagner” PMC, from among the recruited prisoners, to the village of Myrne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

[The adversary continues to suffer losses. In order to conceal the number of dead occupants, Russian invaders set up a mobile crematorium on the territory of Prydniprovska Biotes enterprise in Tokmak (Zaporizhzhia oblast). Local residents complain about the constant stench of corpses in the southeastern district of the city, especially at night.]

During the past 24 hours, the Air Force of the Defense Forces made 18 strikes on the areas of concentration of personnel and military equipment of the occupiers and 4 strikes on the positions of anti-aircraft missile systems.

Air defence forces shot down 3 enemy UAVs during the day. According to preliminary information, 2 types of “Orlan-10” and 1 “Orion”.

Units of missile and artillery troops at the same time hit 2 enemy control points, 5 areas of concentration of manpower, an ammunition depot and an enemy air defence position.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Explosions in Berdiansk: Ukrainian soldiers hit captured airfield, Ukrinform reports, citing Berdiansk City Military Administration. “We received from our defenders detailed information about yesterday’s explosions: the airfield was hit, the administration wrote. It is also noted that the Ukrainian military eliminated more than 100 invaders. An ammunition and fuel depot and a radar station were damaged.”

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

  • Since 7 February 2023, Russian forces have likely made tactical gains in two key sectors. On the northern outskirts of the Donbas town of Bakhmut, Wagner Group forces have pushed 2-3km further west, controlling countryside near the M-03 main route into the town. Russian forces increasingly dominate the northern approaches to Bakhmut.
  • To the south, Russian units have made advances around the western edge of the town of Vuhledar, where they re-launched offensive operations in late January 2023.
  • However, Russian units have likely suffered particularly heavy casualties around Vuhledar as inexperienced units have been committed. Russian troops likely fled and abandoned at least 30 mostly intact armoured vehicles in a single incident after a failed assault.
  • The weather continues to play a significant role in the course of Russia’s war in Ukraine. With the ground frozen, there has likely been little change in cross country mobility (CCM) conditions in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.
  • On 08 February 2023, surface temperatures were around 0 degrees Celsius; over the coming week, forecasts suggest soil temperature increases and snow melt are likely to deteriorate CCM across the Donbas.
  • CCM is likely to be at its worst, with extremely muddy conditions, over mid- to late-March. Commanders on both sides will highly likely seek to avoid scheduling major offensives at such times. However, perceived political or operational opportunities can override such concerns, as demonstrated by Russia launching its invasion in late-February 2022.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Friday 10 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 135740 (+730),
  • Tanks – 3258 (+3),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 6471 (+3),
  • Artillery systems – 2251 (+7),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 463 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 233 (+1),
  • Aircraft – 295 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 286 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 5126 (+5),
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1970 (+3),
  • Special equipment – 211 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 796 (+0)

Russia may have lost up to half of its operational tank fleet in Ukraine, a monitoring group says, CNN reports. “Russia has potentially lost up to half of all its operational tank fleet since the start of the Ukraine war, according to information collected by a monitoring group, as its military struggles to meet the goals of Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Oryx, an open-source intelligence website, has been collecting visual evidence of military equipment losses in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, 2022.

The group said this week it has verified 1,000 distinct Russian tank losses in the war. It said a further 544 Russian tanks had been captured by Ukrainian forces, 79 damaged and 65 abandoned. That toll does not include losses Oryx has not been able to visually confirm, said Jakub Janovsky, a military analyst who contributes to the Oryx blog. He estimated the actual toll could be nearer 2,000 tanks.

Russia started the war with around 3,000 operational tanks … so there is a good chance that Russia has lost one-half of (its) usable tanks, Janovsky said. […] According to Oryx’s numbers, the tank fight has skewed Ukraine’s way. On Oryx’s count, the 500-plus tanks Ukraine has captured from Russia more than cover the 459 tanks it has lost.

Hans Petter Midttun: Oryx only reports verified losses, which means the numbers represents the bare minimum. The Russian losses reported by the Ukrainian General Staff is twice that of Oryx. Ukrainian reporting is backed up by battle damage reports from the Armed Forces, National Guard and Border Guards. On the other side of the scale, I suspect Ukrainian losses are underreported. Ukrainian media has to a degree taken on British media role from WW2, seeing themselves a part of the Ukrainian war efforts (in contrast to the role of the British media during the Falkland War). Operational security is a part of its deliberations while reporting on the war.

Iran appears to be modifying drones for Russia to inflict maximum damage on targets in Ukraine, report finds, CNN reports. “Iran appears to be modifying the attack drones that it’s providing to Russia so that the explosive warheads can inflict maximum damage on infrastructure targets inside Ukraine, according to a new investigative report obtained exclusively by CNN.

An unexploded warhead from an Iranian Shahed-131 drone found in the Southern Ukrainian region of Odesa in October 2022 was examined last month by the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research, along with the Ukrainian military. CAR provided its findings first to CNN. [… It] essentially maximize the warhead’s ability to shred targets such as power stations, distribution grids, transmission lines and large, high-power transformers. They also make repair efforts substantially harder.”

Russia must boost tank production as West arms Ukraine – ex-president Medvedev, Reuters reports. “Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said during a visit to a tank factory in the Siberian city of Omsk on Thursday that Moscow would increase production of tanks in response to Western arms supplies to Ukraine.”

Threatened with new charges, Russian convicts forced to join Wagner Group, Ukrinform reports, citing the Agentstvo.Novosti Telegram channel with reference to two lawyers and a rights defender. “Russian prisoners are forced to join the ranks of the Wagner Group, being threatened with new criminal charges. Recruitment is also ongoing in some Russian pre-trial detention centres.

Also, sources of the outlet report that the suspects in custody began to be offered to join the Wagner in detention centres with promises to close their criminal cases. The interlocutors reported that such a practice had developed in Pre-Trial Detention Center 1 in Samara, Pre-Trial Detention Center 5 in Moscow, as well as in the detention centre in Perm.

According to Gelmel, the new methods of recruiting Russian prisoners are applied due to the fact that fewer and fewer people are ready to sign a contract with the Wagner, as information began to reach the colonies about the number of killed and wounded among those who agreed to go to war in the summer and autumn of 2022.

In December, the strategic communications coordinator of the US National Security Council, John Kirby, said that the number of the Wagner Group in Ukraine could reach 50,000, 90% of whom are former prisoners. In January, this information was partially confirmed by the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain.

According to Olga Romanova, head of the “Rus Sidiashchiaya charitable foundation, out of 50,000 prisoners recruited by the Wagner, about 10,000 people remained at the front. Others were either killed, wounded, went missing, deserted, or surrendered.”

Russia’s Wagner mercenaries halt prisoner recruitment campaign – Prigozhin, Reuters reports. “The recruitment of prisoners by the Wagner private military company has completely stopped, Prigozhin [alleged] in a response to a request for comment from a Russian media outlet published on social media. We are fulfilling all our obligations to those who work for us now, he said.

Wagner began recruiting prisoners in Russia’s sprawling penal system in summer 2022, with Prigozhin, a catering entrepreneur who served nine years in prison during the Soviet Union, offering convicts a pardon if they survived six months in Ukraine.”

Humanitarian 

A quarter of Ukrainians at risk of severe mental health conditions – adviser, Reuters reports. “A quarter of Ukraine’s population is at risk of developing a severe mental health condition as the country grapples with the year-long Russian invasion, a senior health official said on Thursday. Michel Kazatchkine, a member of the Eastern and Central European and Central Asian Commission on Drug Policy, said the conflict in Ukraine had not only resulted in a shortage of medical supplies and personnel but had also caused a major threat to mental health.

The World Health Organization estimates that at this time, one out of four people in Ukraine is at risk of severe mental health conditions, Kazatchkine, who also serves as special adviser to the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, said.

Describing a recent visit to the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, Kazatchkine said he had seen dozens of military personnel hospitalised with acute and tragic anxiety, depression and psychiatric conditions. Mental health is becoming a predominant public health issue in Ukraine, he told reporters in Geneva. The war and its consequences have led to an increased use of licit and illicit psychoactive substances.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1623792818996056069

Environmental

Russia says it’s ready to work on Zaporizhzhia nuclear safety zone, Reuters reports. “Russia said on Thursday that it was ready to continue work on creating a safety zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after the head of state nuclear firm Rosatom met with UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi in Moscow. Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was seized by Russian forces shortly after they invaded Ukraine last year and has come under repeated shelling, with both Moscow and Kyiv trading blame and accusing each other of risking a nuclear accident.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for a safety zone to be created around the plant, to prevent heavy weapons and shelling from causing further damage.

Rafael Grossi spoke about promoting his initiative to establish a nuclear and physical nuclear safety protection zone at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,” Rosatom said. In this regard, (Rosatom CEO) Alexey Likhachev expressed the readiness of the Russian side to continue work on the implementation of the IAEA Director General’s initiative, it said.

The plant, which is Europe’s largest, accounted for around 20% of Ukraine’s national power generation before the invasion, but has not produced any electricity since September when the last of its six reactors was put offline. After it was seized by Russian troops, Rosatom took control of it and installed its own management, a move that Kyiv has denounced as illegal.”

Russians take children from occupied territories to cadet corps, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Hanna Maliar, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defence, has reported that the Russian invaders have started to open so-called cadet corps in the occupied territories, where they force parents to send their children. […] Maliar said that a similar military educational institution has opened this year in the city of Starobilsk in Luhansk Oblast. Cadet corps are also planned to be opened in the Skadovsk, Kalanchak, Novotroitsk and Henichesk districts of Kherson Oblast.

Maliar added that active propaganda for convicts to join Russian private military companies continues in detention facilities in the temporarily occupied territories. Criminals are accepted regardless of what criminal articles they were convicted under, their age, state of health and gender.

In December 2022, it was reported that the Russian invaders in the occupied territories of Ukraine are creating so-called “youth movements” to brainwash Ukrainian children, and also recruit teenagers to militaristic “iunarmіia” (young army) groups.”

621 officials of the Defence Ministry and Armed Forces brought to justice after audits, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov. “621 – this is the number of officials from the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ministry of Defence who were brought to justice based on the results of internal audits last year. Of these, 497 officials were held financially liable; 124 officials were held disciplinarily liable.

At the same time, Reznikov noted that all internal audit materials that established the violations were handed over to law enforcement officers: All persons whose guilt has been proven by the relevant authorities are and will be held accountable.”

Support

Britain allows the transfer of Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, Ukraine Business News reports. “The UK has not ruled out the possibility of transferring Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, said the British Ministry of Defense, Ben Wallace, in an interview with Times Radio. I’m not going to speculate about the types of weapons being supplied. Russia would like to know what weapons we can transfer to Ukraine to support it. We will discuss that with the Ukrainians based on their needs and technical capabilities.”

Hans Petter Midttun: This is just the latest in a number of media reports on possible British long-range missile supply to Ukraine: “British defence minister Ben Wallace said he would be “open minded” about supplying Ukraine with longer-range weapons systems if Russia carried on targeting civilian areas”, Reuters reported on 12 December. “Some British officials have expressed openness to supplying longer-range missile systems to Ukraine amid the refusal by the United States to send long-range rockets known as ATACMS, US television news channel reported on Jan. 20”, The New Voice of Ukraine reported.

UK to train Ukrainian pilots, provide Ukraine with longer range capabilities, Ukrinform reports, citing a statement from the UK Government. “The United Kingdom will expand training for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to sea and air, including fighter jet pilots and marines, and will also provide Ukraine with longer range capabilities.

I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future. It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term, but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for years to come, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.”

No immediate transfer of UK fighter jets – Wallace, BBC reports. “Ben Wallace told the BBC that supplying aircraft to use in the conflict would potentially take months. The defence secretary said the UK was instead focused on using alternative provision of air cover to Ukraine. Mr Wallace did not completely rule out sending aircraft to Ukraine, but said air support and supporting moving troops could be achieved by using long-range missiles and drones.

Speaking at a conference in Rome, he said it was “more realistic and more productive” to envisage the UK providing Ukraine with aircraft in the long-term to ensure its security after the war with Russia has ended. […]

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was discussing further support for Ukraine which potentially included fighter jets, but the first step was training Ukrainian pilots and the UK is to start doing this on NATO-standard aircraft.

The defence secretary dismissed suggestions made by former prime minister Boris Johnson that the UK could provide 100 Typhoon warplanes. Typhoons are made by a coalition of different countries and their permission would be needed before sending them on to Ukraine, he said. […] The UK’s existing commitments, including air policing in the Baltic states and a squadron of Typhoons in Qatar, means there are not many jets left to spare.”

Ukraine files with the Netherlands request for F-16s, Ukrinform reports, citing NOS. “Ukraine has submitted a request to the Netherlands for the supply of F-16 fighter jets. This has been confirmed by Minister of Defense Kaisa Ollongren,” the statement reads. […] According to Ollongren, the request is understandable, but not easy to fulfil.

We need to discuss the availability of F-16s with the Americans and other allies, says Ollongren. And we have to look seriously at the consequences, it can’t just happen overnight. […] These aircraft are part of the US defence system of the United States, so Kyiv will be able to get F-16 fighters only with Washington’s permission to other countries to transfer these warplanes to Ukraine.”

Belgium cannot give fighter jets to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Politico. “Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium, stated that his country cannot provide Ukraine with fighter jets, as his country needs them too. The Prime Minister said that Belgian fighter jets are used to protect NATO states in the Baltic region, as well as the airspace of Belgium and the Netherlands.”

Ukrainian soldiers arrive in Belgium to undergo underwater drone operation training, Ukrinform reports, citing Belgian Minister of Defense Ludivine Dedonder. “Today we are welcoming Ukraine’s soldiers in Belgium as part of the EUMAM mission. They will undergo training on the underwater systems delivered by Belgium to Ukraine. […]

As reported by Ukrinform, on January 27, the Government of Belgium decided to allocate the largest package of military aid to Ukraine amounting to EUR 92 million. In particular, it will include air defence missiles, anti-tank missiles, machine guns, grenades, ammunition, trucks, and armored SUVs.”

Ukraine agrees on repairs of heavy armour in Czech Republic, Reuters reports. “The Ukrainian army’s armoured vehicles will be repaired in the Czech Republic as part of Prague’s military help against Russia’s aggression, the Czech Defence Ministry said.

State-owned company VOP CZ signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine’s government arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom on the repairs on Monday, the ministry said, without giving further details.”

Lithuania to supply Ukraine with 36 anti-aircraft missile systems to destroy Iranian-made drones, Ukrinform reports, citing Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas. “Ukraine will receive new anti-aircraft missile systems to destroy kamikaze drones. Lithuania will continue to provide all possible assistance for Ukraine’s victory. We are handing over 36 anti-aircraft missile systems that can successfully cope with drones, Anusauskas said.”

Ukrainian President’s Office on Starlink restriction for drones: Do not seek ways to harm, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mykhailo Podoliak, Advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. “A year of Ukraine’s resistance and companies have to decide, either they are on the side of Ukraine and the right to freedom and don’t seek ways to do harm; or they are on Russia’s side and its ‘right’ to kill and seize territories. The President’s Office has advised SpaceX and company president Gwynne Shotwell, who announced the decision, to “choose a specific option”.

SpaceX has announced that it has taken steps to prevent Ukraine’s military from using the company’s Starlink satellite internet service for controlling drones in the region during the country’s war with Russia. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said that SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service was never meant to be weaponized“.

“Ukroboronprom” began to produce 120-mm projectiles for mines. They are made abroad, Babel.ua reports. “State concern Ukroboronprom established the production of 120-mm shells for mortars. They are produced jointly with a NATO member country. Mines are guaranteed to hit enemy infantry within a radius of 25 m to 60 m, and fragments can fly up to 250 m. In addition, a 120-mm mine is capable of destroying engineering structures and lightly armoured vehicles. Mortars can shoot at a distance of 7-8 kilometres.

At the beginning of January, Ukroboronprom informed that it had launched serial production of 82-mm fragmentation mines at the facilities of one of the NATO member countries.”

Germany sends another military aid package to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the website of the Federal Government. “The German government has announced the transfer of another batch of military equipment to Ukraine. In particular, the Ukrainian Armed Forces received two more Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (32 in total) and about 6,000 rounds of ammunition for them, five border protection vehicles (120 in total), 29 generators (245 in total), six 15-tonne load-handling trucks (eight in total), six mobile antenna mast systems (16 in total) and ten roll off containers.”

New Developments 

  1. Zelensky says he warned Sandu about Russia’s plan to destabilize Moldova, UkrinformUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Ukrainian intelligence recently managed to intercept Russia’s plan about its intention to destroy the political order in Moldova.[…] I recently spoke to the President of Moldova, Ms. Sandu, and informed her about what our intelligence managed to intercept – a detailed Russian plan to destroy the political situation in Moldova, a Russian document that shows who, when and as a result of which situations is going to break Moldova, to break the democratic the order in this country and establish control over it, Zelensky said.”

  1. President of European Parliament calls on EU states to provide Ukraine with long-range systems and fighter jets, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravdaand Roberta Metsola, President of the EU Parliament. “We know the sacrifice that your people have endured for Europe, and we must honour it not only with words but with action. With the political will to ensure easier trade, and with the fastest possible accession process, with funds for your people, with help in reconstruction, with training for your troops, with military equipment and defence systems you need to win, Metsola said. And now, states must consider, quickly, as the next step – providing long-range systems and the [combat – ed.] jets that you need to protect the liberty too many have taken for granted, the President of the European Parliament emphasised.”
  2. Lithuanian president calls for ‘crossing all red lines’ on weapon supplies to Ukraine, lt reports. “I am really in favour of sending [fighter jets] and crossing all the red lines, the Lithuanian president told reporters in Brussels on Thursday. Speaking ahead of the European Council meeting, Nausėda stressed that Western countries’ delay in sending more arms to Ukraine is leading to more casualties, more suffering and people’s deaths”.
  3. Zelensky, EU leaders discuss defence support for Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the Office of the President of Ukraine. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has discussed defence support for Ukraine with leaders of the EU member states and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. […] In particular, President Zelensky told his colleagues about the situation on the battlefield and Ukraine’s defence needs, including fighter jets, armoured vehicles, artillery and air defence. [He] emphasized that the timely provision of the necessary equipment in the right amount would help restore a just peace as soon as possible and protect the interests and values of Europe. The parties discussed the possibility of switching the EU’s military industry to an enhanced mode of operation. […] The President of Ukraine also discussed with partners concrete steps to implement the Peace Formula and called for a decision to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU as soon as this year.”
  4. Zelensky says some European leaders have promised aircraft, ReutersUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday he had heard from several European Union leaders at a summit that they were ready to provide Kyiv with aircraft, hinting at what would be one of the biggest shifts yet in Western support for Ukraine. Zelensky gave no further details about the pledges, and there was no immediate confirmation from any European countries. But his remarks came amid signs during a European tour that countries were edging closer to lifting one of the main taboos in military aid for Kyiv since Russia’s invasion last year.”
  5. Kremlin warn of military-political consequences if UK gives fighter jets to Ukraine, The Daily MailVladimir Putin has threatened a ‘response’ involving ‘military-political consequences’ if the UK supplies planes to Ukraine in the fight against Russian forces. […] The Russian Embassy in London strongly warned the UK against supplying the warplanes, saying Britain would bear responsibility for another twist of escalation and the ensuing military-political consequences for the European continent and the entire world.”
  6. Ukraine and Britain agree on long-range weapons supply, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Office of the President of Ukraine. “The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the United Kingdom is ready to provide Ukraine with a powerful defence package, which includes inter alia long-range weapons. We have a powerful defence package from the United Kingdom. We have agreed on the supply of a significant number of armoured vehicles, and long-range weapons, and we have also agreed to start training Ukrainian pilots. I believe that this is our clear signal, for both Ukraine and the United Kingdom, that together we are not just passing through, but will walk all the way to our common victory.”
  7. Zelensky laments the need to “convince” Germany to help Ukraine – Spiegel, ReutersUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described his relationship to Germany as up and down in an interview with Spiegel, saying he was constantly having to convince German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to help Ukraine for the sake of Europe. I have to exert pressure to help Ukraine and constantly convince him that this help is not for us but for Europeans, Zelenskyy told Spiegel. Our relationship to Germany goes in waves, it is up and down.”
  8. MFA Ukraine spox reports on the progress of expelling Russia from the UN, Ukrinform reports, citing the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Oleg Nikolenko. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is already working with more than three dozen public opinion leaders and authoritative experts, academics, and politicians to advocate for Russia’s exclusion from the UN.”
  9. New EU sanctions will target Putin’s propagandists, von der Leyen says, ReutersNew European sanctions against Russia will include new export bans worth more than 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) and will take on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s propagandists, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters on Thursday. We will target Putin’s propagandists because their lies are poisoning the public space in Russia and abroad”, von der Leyen said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The new sanctions will further starve Russia’s military machine and shake the foundations of its economy, she added.”
  10. IOC president Bach urges Ukraine to drop Paris boycott threat, ReutersInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has called on Ukraine to drop threats of a boycott of the 2024 Olympics over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes. Ukraine hopes to secure widespread international supportfor a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes after the IOC opened the door for them to compete as neutrals in Paris. […] The IOC has said a boycott will violate the Olympic Charter and that its inclusion of Russian and Belarusians is based on a UN resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  February 8, 2022:

Russian forces continued offensive actions along the Svatove-Kreminna line on February 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack near Stelmakhivka, 15km west of Svatove. Russian milbloggers circulated footage reportedly of elements of the 3rd Motor Rifle Division (20th Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) correcting artillery strikes in an unidentified sector of the Svatove-Kreminna line. […] The commitment of a military district-level asset such as the TOS-1 to the Kreminna area suggests that the Russian MoD is prioritizing this axis. Widely circulated social media footage posted on February 9 additionally shows a Ukrainian strike on a Russian BMPT Terminator armored fighting vehicle about 8km south of Kreminna, indicating that the Russian command is committing new equipment to this area of the front. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack near Bilohorivka. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian troops are conducting offensive operations north of Bilohorivka and attacked along the Shepilove-Dibrova line, about 5km south of Kreminna.

Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut on February 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself; northeast of Bakhmut near Vyimka (22km northeast) and Fedorivka (15km northeast); north of Bakhmut near Krasna Hora (4km north) and Paraskoviivka (5km north); and west of Bakhmut near Ivanviske (5km west) and Chasiv Yar (10km west). A Russian milblogger remarked that Russian troops have recently changed their tactics in the Bakhmut area and are focusing less on frontal assaults on small settlements and more on interdicting Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Bakhmut along the E40 Bakhmut-Sloviansk and T0504 Kostyantynivka-Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highways. This observation is consistent with the Ukrainian General Staff report of Russian attacks towards Chasiv Yar and Ivanivske, both critical settlements along the T0504. Other Russian milbloggers similarly claimed that Wagner Group forces are pushing towards Ivanivske and attacking along the E40 near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (10km northwest of Bakhmut) and Dubovo-Vasylivka (5km northwest of Bakhmut). Russian sources claimed that Wagner Group forces are additionally attacking toward Krasna Hora from three sides and that Ukrainian troops are close to withdrawing from the settlement.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area on February 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Avdiivka, north of Avdiivka near Novokalynove, and along the western outskirts of Donetsk City near Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Vesele, Krasnohorivka, and Marinka. […] Social media footage published on February 9 purportedly shows elements of the 5th Brigade of the 1st Army Corps (forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic) attacking Ukrainian positions near Marinka.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on February 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Bohoyavlenka (25km southwest of Donetsk City) and Prechystivka (38km southwest of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces resumed assault operations on the outskirts of Vuhledar. A Ukrainian reserve officer also reported that the majority ethnic Tatar volunteer battalion “Alga” of the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (3rdArmy Corps) fought near Vuhledar on February 6. The reserve officer suggested that the use of volunteer battalions in this area indicates that the 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades, which were previously active in the area, sustained insurmountable losses and are being replaced by other formations. Recently posted footage from the Vuhledar area shows a defeated Russian mechanized formation of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade that lost 13 main battle tanks and 12 BMP infantry fighting vehicles in a single engagement – about half a Russian tank battalion. The footage shows the Russian formation driving in a column displaying poor tactics and a lack of learning from previous Russian tactical failures. Separate drone footage published on February 8 shows Ukrainian forces striking Russian forces approaching Vuhledar. Geolocated footage published February 7 also shows reported elements of the 36th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade (29th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District) striking Ukrainian positions on the eastern outskirts of Vuhledar.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin announced on February 9 that the Wagner Group has entirely stopped recruiting prisoners. In a response to a press comment, Prigozhin claimed that Wagner’s recruitment of prisoners has “completely stopped” and that “all obligations are being fulfilled” for those currently under Wagner’s employ. Prigozhin also absurdly claimed that over 10 million Americans have applied to join Wagner. The Wagner Group will likely continue to recruit from prisons, albeit in a much more limited capacity. As ISW has previously noted, Wagner’s recruitment of prisoners has slowed over the last few months, an assessment confirmed by statistics by the Federal Penitentiary Service that show that decreases in the Russian prison population stabilized between November 2022 and January 2023. This phenomenon is consistent with the overall trend of conventional Russian troops slowly replacing the Wagner Group around Bakhmut, indicating that Russian military command may be shifting away from its reliance on Wagner and therefore on using prisoners as cannon fodder.

The Kremlin continues to pursue measures to gradually prepare Russia’s defense-industrial base for a protracted war in Ukraine while avoiding wider economic mobilization. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Supervisory Board of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives on February 9 and instructed the agency to support federal subjects in developing the production of unmanned aircraft systems. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev previously stated that Russian military manufacturers intend to expand the supply of reconnaissance and attack drones to support operations in Ukraine, and Russian and Iranian officials are reportedly planning to build a factory in Russia to manufacture 6,000 drones “in the coming years.”

[…] Dutch open-source group Oryx reported that Russian forces have lost 1,012 destroyed tanks in Ukraine with an additional 546 tanks captured by Ukrainian forces. Oryx reported that these combined losses represent roughly half the tanks that Russian forces committed to Ukraine at the start of the invasion. Fifteen hundred tanks are enough to equip more than 15 tank regiments or brigades or about 150 battalion tactical groups. The Russian military needs to quickly replenish these tank losses to maintain the ability to conduct large-scale mechanized maneuver warfare ahead of a likely increased pace of offensive operations in eastern Ukraine. Medvedev likely framed his calls for increased production as a response to Western military assistance to obscure the fact that substantial military equipment losses are driving the need for increased production. The Kremlin’s efforts to gradually prepare Russia’s defense industrial base for a protracted war while avoiding a wider mobilization of the Russian economy continue to be incompatible with the scale of the war that the Russian military is fighting in Ukraine and the scale of Russian military equipment losses.

A prominent Wagner-linked Russian milblogger called for the dismissal of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over a Russian military uniform procurement scandal. Many prominent Russian military bloggers harshly criticized Shoigu and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) over news that the 22-year-old son of the Russian Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for State Property Management won a contract to supply the Russian military with new uniforms. The milbloggers argued that the new uniforms are of inferior quality and overpriced (costing about 130,000-210,000 rubles or $1,780 – $2,875 per uniform) and are part of a petty corruption scheme to enrich the families of Russian defense officials. The Grey Zone Telegram channel—a prominent Wagner Group-affiliated milblogger – wrote an explicative-laden rant to its 426,000 subscribers that Shoigu has lost credibility in front of the Russian nation and that Russian President Vladimir Putin can amend the situation by firing Shoigu, Shoigu’s “entourage” in the Russian General Staff and banning Shoigu and his associates from all Russian military affairs. This is the latest episode in a string of events that has prompted Russian military blogger communities to attack the Russian MoD and senior Kremlin officials for petty corruption and ineptitude resulting in battlefield failures and worse quality of life for average Russian soldiers.

The Kremlin continues to show that it is unwilling to curb divisive rhetoric from ultranationalist pro-war figures. Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov publicly sparred with Duma Deputy General Viktor Sobolev following Sobolev’s criticism of Kadyrov’s statements on grooming standards in the Russian military being discriminatory against Muslims and calls for the Russian military to fight satanism in Poland. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on February 9 that the Kremlin is “not participating in this controversy and would not like to give any assessments” about it. The Kremlin will continue to tolerate divisive rhetoric from ultranationalist figures as it seeks to appeal to the wider pro-war community.

Key Takeaways

  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that the Wagner Group has entirely stopped recruiting prisoners.
  • The Kremlin continues to pursue measures to gradually prepare Russia’s defense industrial base for a protracted war in Ukraine.
  • A prominent Wagner-linked Russian milblogger called for the dismissal of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu over a Russian military uniform procurement scandal.
  • The Kremlin continues to illustrate that it is unwilling to curb divisive rhetoric from ultranationalist pro-war figures.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast and the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area and continued offensive operations around Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian sources claimed that the Russian military integrated a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) volunteer formation into the Russian Armed Forces.

Russian sources claimed that Russian authorities detained a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group attempting to assassinate Russian occupation officials.

Russia prepares thousands of tanks and armoured vehicles and hundreds of fighter jets for offensive, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Foreign Policy, quoting a Ukrainian military official speaking on condition of anonymity. “Russia has begun arming up and digging in for a coming offensive. The Ukrainian military estimates that Russia already has 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 2,700 artillery systems, 810 Soviet-era multiple-rocket-launch systems such as Grad and Smerch, 400 fighter jets, and 300 helicopters ready for a new wave of attacks. Ukrainian officials estimate that Russian forces inside the country have surpassed the 300,000 mark. 

Estimates of Russia’s presence in Ukraine are significantly higher than the invading force that Russian President Vladimir Putin used to invade the country last February — and this time, they are highly concentrated in eastern Ukraine.

The Pentagon has described the Russian troops that have already been rushed to the battlefield to plug up defensive holes as ill-equipped, ill-trained, rushed, according to a senior US military official. […]

It’s much bigger than what took place in the first wave, the Ukrainian military official said. They are not paying attention to any casualties or losses. In the next 10 days, we expect a new, huge invasion, he said.

Smashed by Ukrainian mines and artillery, Russia’s winter offensive just ground to a halt outside Vuhledar, Forbes reports. “Russia’s widely-anticipated winter offensive has begun. Aiming to extend its control over eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, Russian troops are attacking north and south of Donetsk city. In the northern sector, around the city of Bakhmut, the Russians slowly are advancing—albeit at staggering cost.

In the south, around Vuhledar, the Russians’ losses are just as steep—but they’ve made no clear gains that could justify the casualties. Vuhledar is turning into a meatgrinder for the Russian army, with enormous implications for the wider offensive. The latest Russian attack on Vuhledar […] kicked off on Monday.

Seemingly a couple of battalions of Russian mechanized troops, together riding in a few dozen T-80 tanks and BMP-1 and BMP-2 fighting vehicles, advanced north. The Ukrainian army’s elite 72nd Mechanized Brigade is entrenched around Vuhledar. It has laid minefields along the main approaches from Pavlivka. Its drones surveil the front. Its artillery is dialed in. The Russians know this. And the assault force took rudimentary precautions. […]

But leadership and intelligence failures—and Ukraine’s superior artillery fire-control—neutralized these measures. The Russian formation rolled into dense minefields. […] The Russians’ daylong attack ended in heavy losses and retreat. The survivors left behind around 30 wrecked tanks and BMPs.

Vuhledar is further evidence of the downward spiral in Russian military effectiveness. Armies that lack robust recruitment, training and industrial bases tend to become steadily less effective as losses deepen. Desperate to maintain the pace of operations, the army replaces any well-trained, well-equipped troops who’ve been hurt or killed with an equal number of new recruits—but without taking the time, or expending the resources, to train and equip those new troops to the previous standard.

So the army gets less and less competent even as it inducts more and more new personnel. Incompetence leads to even greater losses, which prompts the army to double down: draft more green troops, train them even less and hurry them to the front even faster than it did the previous recruits.

Apply this tragic model to Vuhledar and the Russian army’s failures make more sense. For months, the Russian marine corps’s 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades were responsible for the sector around Pavlivka. But the marines suffered devastating losses in repeated failed assaults starting last fall. It’s possible both marine brigades now are combat-ineffective. Their replacement appears to be the 72nd Motor Rifle Brigade, a new and inexperienced formation that belongs to the ill-fated 3rd Army Corps. […] If this is the best Russia can do after a year of wider fighting in Ukraine, its ballyhooed winter offensive could be costly … and brief.

Ukraine’s rocket campaign reliant on US precision targeting, officials say, The Washington Post reports. “Ukrainian officials said they require coordinates provided or confirmed by the United States and its allies for the vast majority of strikes using its advanced US-provided rocket systems, a previously undisclosed practice that reveals a deeper and more operationally active role for the Pentagon in the war.

The disclosure, confirmed by three senior Ukrainian officials and a senior US official, comes after months of Kyiv’s forces pounding Russian targets — including headquarters, ammunition depots and barracks — on Ukrainian soil with the US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and other similar precision-guided weapons such as the M270 multiple-launch rocket system.

One senior Ukrainian official said Ukrainian forces almost never launch the advanced weapons without specific coordinates provided by US military personnel from a base elsewhere in Europe. Ukrainian officials say this process should give Washington confidence about providing Kyiv with longer-range weapons.

A senior US official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue — acknowledged the key American role in the campaign and said the targeting assistance served to ensure accuracy and conserve limited stores of ammunition for maximum effectiveness. The official said Ukraine does not seek approval from the United States on what to strike and routinely targets Russian forces on their own with other weapons. The United States provides coordinates and precise targeting information solely in an advisory role, the official said. […]

The issue is sensitive for the US government, which has cast itself as a nonbelligerent friend to the government in Kyiv as it fights for its sovereignty and survival. The Kremlin has repeatedly accused the United States and its NATO allies of fighting a proxy war in Ukraine.

Senior Pentagon officials declined for days to answer questions about whether and how they provide coordinates for the strikes, citing concerns about operational security. They instead provided a statement highlighting the limitations of American involvement. […]

The senior Ukrainian official described the targeting process, generally: Ukrainian military personnel identify targets they want to hit, and in which location, and that information is then sent up to senior commanders, who then relay the request to US partners for more accurate coordinates. The Americans do not always provide the requested coordinates, the official said, in which case the Ukrainian troops do not fire. Ukraine could carry out strikes without US help, but because Kyiv doesn’t want to waste valuable ammunition and miss, it usually chooses not to strike without US confirmation, the official said. […]

The senior Ukrainian official contended that the Ukrainian military would face the same limitations it does now with conventional HIMARS rounds if it received ATACMS, with Ukraine still dependent on US targeting coordinates. […]

Ukrainian military officials have said that Russian forces have moved back their ammunition stocks out of HIMARS range, which has led to a steep decline in the daily bombardment of Ukrainian cities and soldiers but also reduced Kyiv’s ability to target Moscow’s arsenal. With ATACMS, the Ukrainians probably would target Russian military installations in Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed illegally in 2014.

A third Ukrainian official confirmed that targeting all goes through an American installation on NATO soil and described the process as “very fast.” The Post is withholding the name of the base at the request of US officials who cited security concerns.”

Russians preparing for Ukrainian defenders’ liberation of Crimea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “Ukrainian intelligence reports that the Russian occupation administration of Crimea and the local department of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) issued a decision to establish a high (yellow) level of terrorist danger.

According to the document, a high level of threat is established in the settlements of Armiansk, Dzhankoi, Kerch, Krasnoperekopsk, as well as in the Dzhankoi, Krasnoperekopsk and Lenine (Yedi Quyu) districts of Crimea. A similar level of threat is declared at subordinate facilities of the so-called Ministries of Transport, Housing and Communal services, Health, Fuel and Energy, Industrial Policy and the Committee on Water Management and Land Reclamation. The validity period of measures is unlimited – until a decision is made to cancel them.

The decision states that the FSB units operating in Crimea and the linear branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation need to strengthen control over the movement of vehicles on the peninsula. In particular, control over the movement of Russian citizens and foreigners with mandatory registration of temporary residence is being strengthened.

Units of the Ministry of Emergency Situations were ordered to conduct an audit of special equipment for carrying out “rescue operations”. Local administrations should provide places for temporary accommodation of people. The Ministry of Health is responsible for preparing facilities for emergency care and medical evacuation.

Ukrainian intelligence suggests that such measures are a sign of preparations for the beginning of the de-occupation of Crimea by Ukrainian defenders. […] It may also indicate the possibility of provocations by the Russian special services against the civilian population of the peninsula, followed by shifting the responsibility onto Ukraine.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Sanctions against Russia ignore the economic challenges facing Ukraine, Dr. Nicholas Mulder, a historian of twentieth-century European and international history at Cornell University, argues in The New York Times. ​​“In December 2021, President Biden warned President Vladimir Putin of Russia that any incursion into Ukrainian territory would entail “economic consequences like none he has ever seen.” America and its European allies followed through on this threat with the largest scale economic sanctions effort in recent history. One year later, the Russian economy has weathered the shock much better than expected.

In March 2022, the Institute of International Finance forecast that the Russian economy would contract by 15 percent by year’s end. Yet, over the last year, the Russian economy appears to have shrunk by a considerably lower amount, slightly more than 3 percent. In its most recent outlook, the International Monetary Fund expects the Russian economy to see a very small recovery of 0.3 percent in 2023. Meanwhile, it expects the European Union to expand by a mere 0.7 percent and British G.D.P. to fall by 0.6 percent. […]

The slightly underwhelming results are not for lack of trying. By any metric, the Western sanctions of the last year have been impressive in their speed and sweep. Within days of the invasion, the Russian central bank saw $300 billion in foreign assets frozen. In the following weeks and months, Western governments moved to block all foreign investment; disconnected three quarters of the Russian financial sector from the SWIFT payments network; blocked exports of high-tech components; blocked flights, shipping, maintenance and insurance services to Russia; and weaned themselves off Russian energy.

A year ago, expectations of economic Armageddon were widespread. The International Energy Agency warned that sanctions on the Kremlin’s oil exports would unleash “the biggest supply crisis in decades.” But last month, the four-week average of Russia’s crude export volumes were at their highest level since June. […]

Certainly, 2022 was a bad year for ordinary Russians. But both the financial crises of 1998 and 2008 and the 2020 pandemic recession caused worse contractions in real GDP growth than the sanctions imposed over the past year — measures once touted as an economic “nuclear option.”

The economic damage is not yet over. The lack of foreign capital, technology and know-how will substantially hamper the country’s future development. Russia’s oil and gas sector depends on Western expertise. It will be difficult to maintain, let alone expand, current production levels in the long run. The airline sector has managed to remain in the air only by cannibalizing its fleet for parts. Perhaps most crippling in the long run has been the departure of a vast pool of talented and educated professionals. Hundreds of thousands of Russian I.T. specialists, teachers, academics, engineers and scientists now live in exile in Istanbul; Yerevan, Armenia; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The West has shown that it possesses the tools to destroy the growth prospects of import-dependent middle-income economies. But sanctions have failed to cause crippling and insurmountable problems of the kind that will cause the collapse of either the Russian economy or Mr. Putin’s war effort.

The last year has demonstrated that against a Group of 20 economy, the United States and Europe alone are no longer capable of mounting sanctions regimes with overwhelming consequences. Historical experience suggests that larger targets are better able to withstand sanctions pressure, both because they have more internal resources to draw on and because they are more difficult to sever fully from the world economy.

While Russian trade with the West has collapsed, its commercial exchanges with Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and African states have expanded. […] A global “dark fleet” of uninsured and hard-to-trace tankers roams the oceans to deliver Russian oil to buyers everywhere. Commodity traders once based in Switzerland have decamped to the Emirates to deal in cargoes of Russian oil, gas, coal, fertilizer and grain. Türkiye has become a major conduit for global businesses looking to sell to Russia, as long truck convoys snake through the mountain passes of the Caucasus. Indian refineries and Singaporean oil storage firms are making hefty profits buying discounted Russian oil and selling it worldwide. Through a host of intermediaries, Western-made microchips continue to end up in Russian helicopters and cruise missiles. […]

Perhaps the most urgent lesson of the sanctions’ limited effects is what they make us miss: the dire economic position of Ukraine and what the West can do to shore it up. For all the attention lavished on sanctions, they are a sideshow and not the main arena in which Ukraine’s future will be determined. In fact, by focusing public opinion on the economic performance of Russia, the world’s 11th-largest economy in 2021, the sanctions campaign has drawn attention away from the vastly more crippling effects of Russia’s horrific war on Ukraine’s smaller and weaker economy.

Which is in more acute trouble, a $1.8 trillion economy that has contracted by 3 percent, or a $200-billion economy that has lost one third of its G.D.P.? What the West needs to focus on above all is lasting assistance to Ukraine. While military aid has understandably been paramount in recent debates, the long-term challenge is to move the Ukrainian economy onto a path of full integration with the West. In the meantime, it must be shored up to prevent collapse. This task cannot wait until the war is over.

The economic strengthening of Ukraine will require very large investments in infrastructure, industry and agriculture. It also demands massive assistance in the realms of education, health care, social services and the creation of competent institutions. It took the European Union 30 years and trillions of euros in structural economic support to get its Eastern European member states to their current level of development. A similar challenge awaits the West if it wants to help build a prosperous, free and democratic Ukraine. Sanctions are important as an expression of support for Ukraine’s war of defence. But they are a diversion from the economic struggle that truly matters in this conflict.”

 

Hans Petter Midttun: Today’s assessment will be published as a separate article. A teaser:

“Seen through the prism of hybrid war, Russia does not need to take another centimetre of Ukrainian territory to defeat Ukraine. It will, however, attempt to do just that out of pride, revenge and not least, as a justification of its strategic narrative for its so-called “special military operation”: To protect “Russians” (Ukrainian citizens) in Donbas.

Its potential victory, however, will not be decided on the battlefield alone. The combined efforts of its military and non-military means are seeking to undermine Ukraine economically.

Russia might still succeed because the West is focusing its efforts on the “wrong war”. While the international community is offering comprehensive humanitarian, financial and defence support to Ukraine, it is not providing the support needed to avoid a future economic collapse.

The western strategy needs to adapt to the hybrid war. The longer it lasts, the more likely a Russian victory becomes because of the accumulative costs induced on Ukraine and the West.

NATO – or a coalition of the willing – urgently needs to intervene militarily to end the war and reduce Russia’s ability to undermine the economic viability of Ukraine and change the political landscape of the West.

The present Western strategy allows Russia to continue the hybrid war at the peril of democracy, shared values, and principles, and not least, our security and stability.”

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