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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 357: Ukraine’s Defense Minister “satisfied” with Ramstein meeting

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 357: Ukraine’s Defense Minister “satisfied” with Ramstein meeting
Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Ukraine’s Defense Minister “satisfied” with Ramstein meeting. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signaled that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group’s 54 member states will continue to support Ukraine in the long run.  Russian forces continued offensive actions in Donbas.

Daily overview — Summary report, February 15

 

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, February 15, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. February 14, 2023. Source: ISW.

 
Day 357 of the full-scale russian military aggression has begun.
During the day, the enemy carried out 2x missile strikes on civilian infrastructure in Donetsk oblast and 3x air strikes. In addition, russian occupiers conducted 68x MLRS attacks, including against civilian objects in Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts.
The threat of further russian air and missile strikes remains high across Ukraine.
The enemy makes further attempts to gain full control over Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine; russia focuses its efforts on offensive operations on Kup’yans’k, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Shakhtar axes.
Over the past day, Ukrainian Defence Forces repelled attacks in the vicinities of more than 20x settlements, including Hryanykivka (Kharkiv oblast); Nevs’ke, Kreminna, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast); Fedorivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Vodyane, Pervomais’ke, Mariinka, Pobieda, Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, and Prechistivka (Donetsk oblast).
Kharkiv Battle Map. February 14, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn’, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groupings were identified. The enemy continues to conduct mortar and artillery attacks against Ukrainian positions and peaceful settlements along the contact line. The vicinities of Yanzhulivka and Tymonovichi settlements (Chernihiv oblast); Tovstodubove, Bilokopytove, Vovkivka, Volfyne, and Basivka (Sumy oblast); Veterynarne, Hraniv, Baranivka, Strilecha, Krasne, Ternova, Hlyboke, Vovchansk, Vovchanski Khutory, Zemlianki, Rublene, Chugunivka, Krasne Pershe, Novomlynsk, Dvorichna, Kup’yans’k, and Ridkodub (Kharkiv oblast) were subjects to enemy shelling.
Kup’yans’k and Lyman axes: more than 20x settlements, including Krokhmalne, Berestov and Tabaivka (Kharkiv oblast); Novoselivs’ke, Stelmakhivka, Nevs’ke, Novoehorivka, Makiivka, Chervonpopivka, Pischane, Dibrova, Spirne, Rozdolivka, Serebryansk Forestry, and Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast); Fedorivka and Stepovka (Donetsk oblast) suffered tank, mortar and artillery attacks.
Donetsk Battle Map. February 14, 2023. Source: ISW
Bakhmut axis: more than 25x settlements were shelled by mortars and artillery, including Bilohorivka, Vesele, Paraskoviivka, Vasyukivka, Zaliznyanske, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka, Zalizne, and New York (Donetsk oblast).
Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk axes: 30x settlements, in particular, Kam’yanka, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, Vodyane, Nevelske, Krasnohorivka, Mariinka, Heorgiivka, Pobieda, Zolota Nyva, Prechistivka, Vuhledar, Mykilske, and Vremivka (Donetsk oblast) suffered tank, mortar and artillery attacks.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. February 14, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia axis: more than 20x settlements were affected by russian attacks. Among them are Olhivske, Malynivka, Staroukrainka, Chervone, Hulyaipilske, Charivne, Mala Tokmachka, Orihiv, Novoandriivka, and Stepove (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
Kherson axis: the outskirts of Kherson, as well as the vicinities of more than 30x other settlements, including Zolota Balka, Havrylivka, Beryslav, Vesele, Ingulets, Lviv, Tyaginka, Antonivka, Zymivnyk, Bilozerka, Dniprovske, and Veletenske (Kherson oblast) suffered russian artillery shelling.
The enemy continues to suffer losses. In particular, russian occupation forces were reported burning dead bodies of the fallen soldiers in Krasna Zorka settlement (Simferopol district, temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) to hide the number of casualties. Recent reports prove constant presence of military vehicles numbering up to 10 units near the local crematorium. The occupiers use these trucks to bring dead russian servicemen and mercenaries. Cremation is carried out 24/7. Cremation services are not provided to civilians.
During the day, Ukrainian Air Force conducted 8x air strikes against concentrations of russian troops and military equipment. Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 1x command post, 2x concentrations of russian troops, 6x ammunition depots and
2x electronic warfare stations of the enemy.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia launches air balloons to distract Ukraine’s air defense. Balloons with angled reflectors of radio waves were recorded in the airspace of Ukraine on February 14. It is already the second time they were recorded and, most likely, launched by Russia to distract Ukraine’s air defense, spokesman of Ukraine’s Air Force Yuriy Ihnat said.

Ukraine’s victory will ensure Russia never attacks again – Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief. General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), believes that Ukraine’s victory should entail not only the liberation of territories but also the strengthening of the Ukrainian army so that Russia will never again attack Ukraine, as reported from General Zaluzhnyi’s Facebook page and Telegram channel.

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

  • On 09 February 2023, Deputy Security Council Chairman Dmitry Medvedev called for an increase in Russian tank production while visiting the Omsk Transport Machine Construction plant. This follows several public comments by President Putin urging the defence industry to better support the ’special military operation’.

 

  • In a televised meeting on 12 January 2023, Putin castigated Denis Manturov, the deputy prime minister with responsibility for the defence industry, for ‘fooling around’; one of the president’s strongest public outbursts since the invasion.

 

  • Senior Russian leaders are likely aware that the state’s military industrial output is becoming a critical weakness, exacerbated by the strategic and operational miscalculation of invading Ukraine. Production is almost certainly falling short of the Russian MoD’s demands to resource the Ukraine campaign and restore its longer-term defence requirements.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of Russian Army. Source Ukrinform.

Humanitarian 

For three days in a row, Ukrainians have electricity all 24 hours, in first since October. Ukraine’s transmission system operator Ukrenergo informed that for the third day in a row, there is no deficit in the energy system of Ukraine. That means there is enough electricity for all Ukrainians, and they receive it not by schedule but during all 24 hours.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1625540041949777920

Video shows Russians intentionally killed a US aid worker in Bakhmut using an anti-tank missile. An intentional strike, not an indiscriminate attack, killed US aid worker Pete Reed in Ukraine, the New York Times writes. The video shows that Pete Reed and a team of aid workers were attacked by a Russian anti-tank guided missile in Bakhmut on February 2 while treating a wounded civilian.

Grain initiative: Ukraine to increase ships’ tonnage due to Russia’s inspections sabotage. To increase food exports in the face of Russian sabotage of ship inspections, Ukraine is increasing ship tonnage as part of its grain initiative, as reported by Ekonomichna Pravda, referencing a press release by the Ministry of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine press office.

Russia lacks sufficient forces to attack Ukraine from Transnistria – NATO Deputy SG. Russia does not currently have sufficient resources to launch an attack against Ukraine from Transnistria , as reported by European Pravda, citing Mircea Geoană, Deputy Secretary General of NATO, speaking at a panel discussion on the opening of the Munich Security Conference (MSC).

The Novovolynsk miracle: how Russia’s invasion turned a Ukrainian mining town into an uber-volunteer hub

Environmental

Russia’s Rosatom’s income increased by 17% last year. Ukraine insists on sanctions.Last year, Rosatom’s income grew by 17%. On every dollar that goes to the Russian budget, the blood of Ukrainians. And this should be remembered by everyone who trades with Russia,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said, calling on the EU to introduce sanctions against Russia’s Rosatom.

Russia drains water from Ukraine’s reservoir, endangering cooling system of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said during the meeting of the government that Russia intentionally refuses to close the floodgates of Kahovska Hydro Power plants. Moreover, part of the floodgates is damaged, but Russia doesn’t allow repair workers to the site.

Ukraine will create a diversified oil product storage system with two-month reserves. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced this. Russia used to target Ukraine’s oil depots early in the war to deprive the country of fuel. This caused a deficit for a few months which was later overcome by joint state and business efforts. Ukraine started importing additional fuel from the EU in the spring after Russian missile attacks targeted its oil refinery.

Industrial hemp cultivation park established in Ukraine. The industrial hemp cultivation cluster was founded on February 13, 2023 in Zhytomyr Oblast of Ukraine. Mykhailo Tereshchenko, ex-mayor of Hlukhova and owner of the healthy food brand “Desnaland”, told about this on Facebook. He emphasized that such an initiative will allow to revive the tradition of textile hemp in Zhytomyr and Europe and will create an alternative to the supplies from China.

Support

Ukraine’s Defense Minister “satisfied” with Ramstein meeting on 14 February. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that he was “very satisfied” with the results of the meeting of the “Ramstein” Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine on Tuesday, European Pravda reports. Reznikov told journalists he heard “clear messages from all representatives: this is full support for Ukraine to victory. And everyone believes that Ukraine’s victory is on the battlefield,” he said, adding that the Ramstein participants emphasized speed, timeliness, and stability of assistance.

France and Italy are working to provide a SAMP/T air defense system for Ukraine — Austin. The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that “France and Italy are working to provide a SAMP/T air defense system for Ukraine” during his opening remarks at the Ramstein group meeting on 14 February 2023.

Norway to supply eight Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Norwegian Defense Minister says. Norway will send eight German-manufactured Leopard 2 tanks, and up to four pieces of its engineering and bridge-laying equipment, according to the country’s Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram, AFP and Reuters report.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1625502874280275968

Unrestricted military assistance to Ukraine – Munich Security Conference Chair. European Pravda reports, referencing the interview with DW, that the chair of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, opposes any “red lines” regarding providing military aid to Ukraine. Heusgen believes we should be guided solely by military necessity, which means the supply of fighter jets cannot be excluded.

New Developments 

Ukraine notified Moldova about Kremlin’s plans to destabilize the situation in the country – Moldovian President. President of Moldova Maia Sandu has confirmed that the Ukrainian side conveyed to her the Kremlin’s plans to destabilize the situation in Moldova and that forceful actions involving saboteurs from Russia, Belarus, and the Balkans, were being prepared. Sandu also said that an attempt to seize power in Chisinau is being prepared under the guise of peaceful protests.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1625762119378522113

Allies will help Ukraine in its spring counteroffensive, Austin says. Allies will help Ukraine in its counteroffensive in the spring, the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, said during the meeting in the Rammstein format, RBK Ukraine reports.

Germany to restart production of Gepard anti-aircraft gun ammo for Ukraine – German Defense Minister. Germany has signed contracts with Rheinmetall to restart the production of ammunition for the Flakpanzer Gepard anti-aircraft guns it has delivered to Ukraine, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on 14 February, Reuters reports.

No signs Russia wants to stop war, so we must continue supporting Ukraine – Borrell. There is currently no indication that Russia intends to stop its brutal aggression against Ukraine, which is why the EU and its NATO partners will continue to provide all necessary assistance to help Ukraine withstand Russian attacks, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said on Tuesday in Brussels, at the NATO headquarters, before the start of the meeting of the Defense Ministers of the Alliance and the Defense Contact Group of Ukraine in the Rammstein format, Ukrinform reports.

“Putin is not making good decisions. He continues to change generals as socks” – Kirby. The Russian military “that invaded a country that did not pose threat to anybody, let alone Russia,” is still suffering the same problems as they did a year ago, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  February 14, 2022:

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signaled on February 14 that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group’s 54 member states will continue to support Ukraine in the long run. Austin stated that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (a coalition of 54 states supporting Ukraine’s defense) will “support Ukraine’s fight for freedom over the long haul” and will support Ukraine during a spring counteroffensive.[1] The Washington Post reported on February 13 that the Biden administration will announce a new aid package for Ukraine “in the next week.”[2]

The Washington Post reported that US officials have privately signaled to Ukraine that Western security aid to Ukraine is finite, however. The Washington Post reported on February 13 that an anonymous US government official stated that US government officials are trying to “impress upon [Ukrainian officials] that [the US Government] can’t do anything and everything forever.”[3] The Washington Post also reported that US officials stated that recent Western aid packages for Ukraine “represent Kyiv’s best chance to decisively change the course of the war.“[4]

Western reporting indicates that there continue to be Western concerns about Ukraine’s determination to hold Bakhmut. The Washington Post also reported that US defense planners assess that Ukrainian forces are unable to simultaneously defend Bakhmut and launch a spring counteroffensive and have urged Ukraine to prioritize the spring counteroffensive over defending Bakhmut.[5] ISW continues to assess that Ukraine’s decision to defend Bakhmut is likely a strategically sound effort despite its costs for Ukraine.[6] Ukraine’s defense of Bakhmut has forced the Kremlin to expend much of the Wagner Group as a force and commit high-value Russian airborne forces to sustain attritional advances.[7] Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut has degraded significant Russian forces and will likely set favorable conditions for a future Ukrainian counteroffensive. Had Russian troops taken Bakhmut without significant Ukrainian resistance they could have hoped to expand operations in ways that could have forced Ukraine to construct hasty defensive positions in less favorable terrain. Therefore, Ukraine’s defense of Bakhmut and undertaking an effort to set conditions for a counteroffensive are likely complementary, not mutually exclusive, activities considering that Russian forces would have continued their offensive beyond Bakhmut had Ukraine yielded the city earlier.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is reportedly recruiting convicts and mimicking the Wagner Group’s treatment of convicts as cannon fodder. CNN reported that the Russian MoD had been directly recruiting prisoners who deployed to Soledar, Donetsk Oblast, into formations of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) 2nd Army Corps in October 2022.[8] Convicts complained to CNN about gruesome abuses and noted that they suffered heavy casualties after they were ordered to storm Ukrainian defensive positions. CNN also obtained a recording from a deceased convict who feared that the Russian MoD would execute him after he survived an assault on Soledar, though this soldier was killed in action days later anyway. These convicts specified that the Russian MoD recruited them after Wagner Group initially overlooked them, and even accused Russian forces of conducting deliberate friendly fire against the convicts.

The Russian MoD’s decision to recruit prisoners is an indicator that the Kremlin seeks to exploit convicts for future human wave attacks in a similar fashion as the Wagner Group despite convicts’ limited combat effectiveness. Representative of the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate Andriy Usov stated that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov are creating a convict cannon fodder reserve that they could directly control through the MoD’s own private military companies.[9] Russian MoD’s integration of these convict forces into the LNR formations also may suggest that Russian military commanders are attempting to avoid the restructuring of some of their conventional units to fit underprepared convicts. ISW had previously observed instances of Russian proxy armed formations receiving poor treatment from Russian conventional forces, and the Russian command may have sought to not further disturb unit morale by integrating convicts.[10]

The Russian MoD’s recruitment of prisoners in fall 2022 may also coincide with the intensifying criticism from Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin began to publicly attack Russian military commanders in early October, and the Russian MoD’s intervention in his recruitment scheme may have ignited some of these grievances with the conventional Russian military and MoD bureaucracy.[11] A representative for the Russian prisoner group Gulagu.net also noted that many in Moscow began to fear Prigozhin and his unpredictable and ever-growing large “organized criminal group of mercenaries and killers.”[12] The Kremlin has since been distancing itself from Wagner—both rhetorically and by likely depriving Prigozhin of the ability to recruit and train convicts. The Ukrainian General Staff, for example, reported that Russian MoD began to use the Kadamovsky Training Ground in Rostov Oblast to train mobilized and volunteer personnel for a few weeks, while Wagner had not been able to train at the training ground since the beginning of 2023.[13]

Key Takeaways

  • US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signaled on February 14 that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group’s 54 member states will continue to support Ukraine in the long run. The Washington Post reported that US officials have privately signaled to Ukraine that Western security aid to Ukraine is finite, however.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is reportedly recruiting convicts and mimicking the Wagner Group’s treatment of convicts as cannon fodder.
  • Russian forces continued offensive actions in the Kupiansk direction and along the Svatove-Kreminna line on February 14.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut and along the western outskirts of Donetsk City on February 14.
  • Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast or in Kherson, Mykolaiv, or western Zaporizhzhia oblasts on February 14.
  • Russian ground forces on the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia have been reduced to one-fifth of their initial strength numbers before the invasion of Ukraine, supporting ISW’s longtime assessment that the Kremlin is not concerned about a NATO conventional military threat against Russia.
  • A Ukrainian and Tatar partisan group reportedly conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a car carrying two Russian military personnel and two Russian special service representatives in Nova Kakhovka on February 10.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko may meet on February 17.

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