International Criminal Court in the Hague issues arrest warrant for Putin. Ukrainian forces shoot down 11 out of 16 enemy kamikaze drones. Russian defence minister decorates pilots for downing US drone.
Breaking: the ICC has ordered an arrest warrant for Putin and one more Russian officialhttps://t.co/8alCzalAnr
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 17, 2023
Daily overview — Summary report, March 18
A map of the approximate situation on the ground in Ukraine as of 00:00 UTC 18/03/23.
There have been no notable changes to control since the last update. pic.twitter.com/ftIMXLJON9
— War Mapper (@War_Mapper) March 18, 2023
The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, March 18, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:
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The adversary launched 34 airstrikes. 11 of them employed Shahed-136 UAVs. 10 of these UAVs were destroyed by Ukrainian air defense units, but unfortunately, 1 hit an industrial infrastructure facility. Luckily, no civilians casualties. Russian forces also launched 1 missile attack and 57 MLRS attacks, 1 of them at the settlement of Veletens’ke (Kherson oblast). The fragments have damaged 7 private houses and the building of a local kindergarten. Luckily, no casualties here either.
The likelihood of missile strikes across Ukraine remains quite high.
On March 17, same as before, the main goal of the adversary was the attempts to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. To this end, the occupiers’ focused their main efforts on the offensive operations on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka, and Shakhtarske axes. Thanks to professional and coordinated actions, Ukrainian defenders repelled more than 100 enemy attacks on the above axes.
- Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: no significant changes. The Russian Federation continues to maintain a military presence on the territory of the Republic of Belarus but without any obvious formation of offensive groups. At the same time, the adversary continues engineering development of terrain in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk Oblasts (Russia). On March 18, Russian forces fired mortars and artillery at the vicinities of 14 settlements. Among them are Starykove, Volfyne, Solyanyky (Sumy oblast), Strilecha, Hlyboke, Starytsya, Vovchans’k, Kolodyazne, Krasne Pershe, Kut’kivka, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Ternova, and Tykhe (Kharkiv oblast).
- Kupyansk and Lyman axes: on March 17, the adversary made unsuccessful attempts to break through the defence of Ukrainian troops. The invaders shelled the vicinities of 13 settlements along the line of contact, including Vesele, Hryanykivka, Vil’shana, Krokhmal’ne, Berestove, Dibrova, Andriivka (Kharkiv oblast), Novojehorivka, Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka, Novoselivka, Chervonopopivka (Luhansk oblast), and Novoselivka (Donetsk oblast).
- Bakhmut axis: Russian forces have not stopped their assault at the city of Bakhmut. At the same time, Ukrainian defenders repelled the occupants’ attacks in the vicinities of Klishchiivka and Ivanivske. Near the line of contact, Russian forces shelled the settlements of Min’kivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Zaliznyans’ke, Vasyukivka, Bakhmut, Hryhorivka, Ivanivske, Ozarianivka, Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, Predtechyne, and Chasiv Yar (Donetsk oblast). In total, 11 settlements on the Bakhmut axis were damaged by the occupants’ shelling.
- Avdiivka, Marinka, and Shakhtarske axes: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensive operations towards the settlements of Kam’yanka, Nevelske, Avdiivka, Marinka, Sjeverne, and Pervomais’ke (Donetsk oblast). Russian forces launched numerous fire attacks at the vicinities of 21 settlements. Among them are Kam’yanka, Avdiivka, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Maksymil’yanivka, Marinka, Vuhledar, Velyka Novosilka, Zolota Nyva, Paraskoviivka, Tonen’ke, Sjeverne, Pervomais’ke, Nevel’s’ke, Pobjeda, Novomykhailivka, Novoukrainka, Prechystivka, Neskuchne, and Shakhtars’ke (Donetsk oblast).
- Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary continued to defend. At the same time, the occupants conducted intensive shelling of Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Bilohir’ya, Mala Tokmachka, Novoandriivka, Mali Shcherbaky, Kam’yans’ke, Ol’hivs’ke, Chervone, Charivne, Orikhiv, Novodanylivka, Stepove (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Vremivka, Novopil’ (Donetsk oblast), Dobra Nadiya (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Dudchany, Kachkarivka, Vesele, Kozats’ke, Ivanivka, Mykil’s’ke, Dniprovs’ke, Berehove, Veletens’ke, Kizomys, Mykhailivka, Respublikanets’, Novoberyslav, Kherson, Novosilka, Shylova Balka, Odradokam’yanka, Mykolaivka, Tyahyntsi, Sadove, and Rozlyv (Kherson oblast). Almost 40 settlements came under enemy fire.
The local so-called authorities in the temporarily occupied and seized territories of Luhansk oblast announced the start of large-scale military exercises. They involve all conscription-age male residents of Starobil’s’k, Shchastya, Novyi Aidar, Novopskov, and Nyzhn’oteple who have passports labelled “LPR” or “Russian Federation”. By doing so, the occupiers are trying to hide the total mobilization in the above settlements.
Between the settlements of Ishun’ and Voinka (temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea), the adversary has begun construction of fortifications and trenches. Civilians are forced into taking part in the work on a free-of-charge basis.
[Russian occupiers were reported to establish a new hospital in Svatove (Luhansk oblast). Following the initial reporting, up to 30 severely wounded Russian military were delivered to the hospital in the last 2 days. In general, there is an increase in the number of seriously wounded Russian soldiers. The number of evacuation flights to the territory of Russia has increased from two to three per week. Local residents who have at least some medical education are forced to provide medical treatment to the occupiers.]
[The Russian occupiers, with the active support of local collaborators, are increasing the number of torture chambers in the temporarily occupied and captured territories of Ukraine. Thus, a newly created torture chamber was spotted in the southeastern part of Energodar, Zaporizhzhia oblast. There, citizens with pro-Ukrainian views, as well as those who do not want to comply with the demands of the local occupying so-called authorities, are brutally tortured.]
On March 17, The Ukrainian Air Force launched 6 air strikes on the concentrations of the occupiers, while the missile and artillery units hit 2 concentrations of enemy personnel and 1x position of deployment of its air defence system.
Ukrainian forces shoot down 11 out of 16 enemy kamikaze drones overnight, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Air Force Command. “Russian occupiers attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made kamikaze Shahed-136/131 drones. The attack was carried out from two directions – from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and from Bryansk region of the Russian Federation. The forces and means of the Air Commands Center, East and West of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed 11 attack UAVs in the central, western and eastern regions, the report says. The Air Force also reported that a total of 16 attack drones were launched across Ukrainian regions.”
Bakhmut is key point for us – Ukraine’s Defence Council Secretary, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Radio Svoboda. “The phrase ‘hold Bakhmut’ has a purely military meaning. We held a meeting at the Supreme Commander-in-Chief’s Staff, and it was once again confirmed by Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhnyi, General Syrskyi, and all those present at the meeting that Bakhmut is very important to us and a key point. We understand that this annoys some people, and some people think that we should give in. But this is our land, and we have no right not to defend it. […]
Danilov recalled that every day, a huge number of terrorists who invaded Ukrainian territory remain near Bakhmut forever. The land around Bakhmut is littered with them. That is, wherever these terrorists are today, they remain there. This is a very important and key point for us. […]
Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stated that the defence of Bakhmut is key to the future counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on this front.”
Russians go all in near Bakhmut – General Syrskyi, Ukrinform reports, citing Military Media Center. “In the battles for Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Russian invaders have involved all available capabilities, now trying to penetrate Ukraine’s defence on several axes while in some areas, Ukraine’s Defence Forces have partial success. This was announced by Commander of the Ground Forces, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi. According to the commander, in an attempt to break through the Ukrainian defence lines and advance deeper into their battle formations, Russian forces is conducting offensive operations along the entire eastern front line. The fiercest battles are raging in the areas of Kreminna, Torske, Bilohorivka, and Spirne.
However, Bakhmut remains the epicentre of hostilities. The battles for the city continue. Russian forces has employed all its forces and is trying to break through our defences in several directions and completely besiege the city, Syrskyi said. According to the updates from the ground, firefights are going on in the north, east, and south of Bakhmut.
Thanks to the courage of our soldiers, Russian forces sustained huge losses and once again retreated without success. Unfortunately, we also suffer losses, but they are much smaller than what our defenders inflict on Russian forces. In some areas, our units have partial success, the commander noted. As Ukrinform reported earlier, referring to the report by the Eastern Group of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, 27 combat clashes took place on the Bakhmut axis over the last day, including 14 in the area of the town itself. As a result, Ukrainian troops eliminated 165 Russian invaders, injuring another 201.”
An explosion was reported near a Russian military base in Crimea, Ukrinform reports, citing the Telegram channel Crimean Wind. “Our subscriber reports about an explosion in Perevalne. The 126th Separate Guards Coastal Defense Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet is stationed there, the post said. On March 7, an explosion rang out near the Belbek air base near Sevastopol.”
Russia reduces the number of warships in the Black Sea to 16, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “Sixteen Russian warships remain on combat duty in the Black Sea, four of them armed with up to 24 Kalibr cruise missiles.
In addition, there is one Russian warship in the Sea of Azov and seven warships in the Mediterranean, including three of them armed with up to 20 Kalibr cruise missiles.”
Dan Hampton, call sign “Two Dogs,” known as “the deadliest F-16 pilot” and one of the most experienced US military pilots, has proposed a solution to quickly turn the airspace over Ukraine into a no-fly zone for Russians.https://t.co/mGJmVYvoVg
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 18, 2023
According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours):
- The Russian authorities are likely preparing to facilitate wider military conscription to resource its military requirements. On 13 March 2023, Russian Duma deputies introduced a bill to change the age bracket for conscription to men aged 21-30 years, from the current 18-27. The law is likely to be passed and would come into force in January 2024.
- Russia has continued to run conscription call-up cycles twice a year since Soviet times. They are distinct from the exceptional partial mobilisation of veterans carried out since September 2022. Russia continues to officially bar conscripts from operations in Ukraine, though at least hundreds have probably served through administrative mix-ups or after being coerced to sign contracts.
- Many 18-21-year-old men currently claim exemption from the draft due to being in higher education. The authorities are highly likely changing the age bracket to bolster troop numbers by ensuring that students are eventually forced to serve. Even if Russia continues to refrain from deploying conscripts in the war, extra conscripts will free up a greater proportion of professional soldiers to fight.
- In recent days, Russian and Wagner Group forces have obtained footholds west of the Bakhmutka River in the centre of the contested Donbas town of Bakhmut. Over the preceding week, the river had marked the front line. Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to defend the west of the town.
- However, more broadly across the front line, Russia is conducting some of the lowest rates of local offensive action that has been seen since at least January This is most likely because Russian forces have temporarily depleted the deployed formations’ combat power to such an extent that even local offensive actions are not currently sustainable.
- Russian leaders will likely seek to regenerate the offensive potential of the force once personnel and munition stocks are replenished. In the meantime, commanders will likely be forced to choose between carrying out offensive operations and conducting a credible defence of the full line.
Losses of the Russian army
As of Saturday 18 March, 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 164200 (+880)
- Tanks – 3511 (+5)
- Armoured combat vehicles – 6830 (+7)
- Artillery systems – 2560 (+8)
- Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 506 (+2)
- Air defence means – 265 (+0)
- Aircraft – 305 (+0)
- Helicopters – 290 (+0)
- Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 5404 (+3)
- Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
- UAV operational and tactical level – 2159 (+14)
- Special equipment – 259 (+1)
- Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
- Cruise missiles – 907 (+0)
NATO assesses Russia’s daily war casualties at 1,500, Ukrinform reports, citing The Guardian, quoting a senior source in the Alliance. “Russia is sustaining up to 1,500 casualties a day in its current offensive, mostly in the eastern city of Bakhmut, the report reads.
Ukraine is taking an order of magnitude less in fighting where several thousand shells a day have been fired by both sides. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said it was unclear how long the battle for Bakhmut will go on.”
Mass grave of Wagnerites found in Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Zolotaya Gorka and Russian editorial office of BBC. “A cemetery has been discovered in the Sverdlovsk Oblast of Russia, where at least 67 Wagnerites were recently buried, including those who should be serving their sentences in prison. The graves were discovered last week. As local media report, residents near the town of Berezovsky saw 67 fresh graves, each with a black, red and yellow wreath bearing the Wagner Private Military Company emblem and wreaths in the colours of the Russian flag with a double-headed eagle. […]
In addition, the BBC reports that, based on open sources, it was possible to identify the names of 17,375 Russian soldiers who died in Ukraine. In total, the names of 2092 deceased convicts of Russian penal colonies have been identified. There have been at least 1,000 of them since the beginning of the year. Over 400 more have been reported dead in the last two weeks alone. Judging by the obituaries, most of them were participants in the battles for Bakhmut.”
Russia will likely lose military influence in post-Soviet states, ISW assess. Russia’s redeployment of elements of its “peacekeeping force” from Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine is eroding Russia’s influence with Armenia. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of preparing to conduct a new large-scale attack and genocide against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh at an unspecified future time on March 16. Pashinyan stated that Armenia should appeal to the United Nations Security Council if the Russian Federation is unable to uphold the November 9, 2020, Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire that Moscow helped broker with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan previously accused Russia’s “peacekeeping force” in Nagorno-Karabakh of “not fulfilling its obligation” under this ceasefire in December 2022 after Russian forces failed to secure passage on the only road through the Lachin Corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia’s “peacekeeping force” in Nagorno-Karabakh is very likely understrength. The Russian military redeployed elements of the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade — Russia’s only dedicated peacekeeping brigade — from Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine in March 2022. Ukraine’s General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces severely degraded the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, killing about 800 and wounding about 400 soldiers of the brigade’s 1,800 soldiers that deployed to Ukraine as of June 2022.
Russia will likely lose military influence in other post-Soviet states since Moscow has redeployed elements of permanently stationed Russian forces from Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan, occupied Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and Tajikistan to fight in Ukraine.
Mother tricked into sending daughter to Russian 'indoctrination' camp reveals rescue and emotional reunionhttps://t.co/mKUdcXpuOW
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 17, 2023
Civilians were blown up by landmines in three oblasts in one day, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Three civilians were blown up by landmines in Kherson, Chernihiv and Kharkiv oblasts on 17 March.”
Russian troops strike residential complex in Zaporizhzhia with S-300 missiles, Ukrinform reports. “On the night of March 18, Russian troops launched a missile attack on Zaporizhzhia with S-300 missiles, damaging a residential complex. This was reported by the press service of Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration.
Rashists once again attacked a peaceful city. S-300 missiles were directed at the territory of a residential complex. The shells hit one of the complex’s objects. The blast wave and debris damaged nearby residential apartment blocks: facades, windows, roofs,” the regional military administration said. According to Anatoliy Kurtiev, secretary of the Zaporizhzhia City Council, a Russian missile destroyed a public catering establishment. No one was injured. All relevant services are working at the scene.”
Ukraine insists that grain agreement be open-ended, extended automatically – PM Shmyhal, Ukrinform reports, citing a statement made by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on March 17, 2023. “Ukraine is one of the key links in global food security. That is why we insist that the grain agreement be open-ended and automatically extended for 120 days. Türkiye and the UN share the same position, Shmyhal noted.
The Prime Minister of Ukraine emphasized that the aggressor’s attempts to shorten the extension period are a manipulation to further blackmail and escalate the global food crisis, and Ukraine must prevent this.”
Curfew to be shortened in Kyiv, Ukrinform reports, citing the Kyiv City Military Administration on Telegram. “The KCMA takes all possible measures to improve the lives of Kyiv residents, taking into account all security measures. Coordination regarding the terms and procedure for changing the curfew duration in Kyiv is currently underway. According to the draft version, the curfew in the capital of Ukraine will most likely be shortened from March 26, 2023. Starting from the said date, it will last from 00:00 to 05:00 every day,” the statement reads.”
Today, 17 VVER-440 units are operating in Europe; for them, there is currently no alternative to Russian nuclear fuel. That soon will changehttps://t.co/KqX93tt92u
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 17, 2023
The study showed which environmental consequences of the war Ukrainians consider the most critical, EcoPolotics reports. “The actions of the invaders lead to the destruction of entire ecosystems The study “Opinions and views of the population of Ukraine regarding the ecological consequences of the war” showed that almost 40% of Ukrainians consider the demining of agricultural lands to be the most critical problems.
Among the biggest problems, respondents also most often mentioned radiation contamination and water pollution, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources reports on Facebook.
It is noted that the research was conducted by specialists of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in January 2023. The study showed that the TOP-5 environmental consequences of the war, which are the most critical for the country, included:
- mining of agricultural lands and forests – 39.9%;
- radiation contamination in the case of Russian missile attacks and explosions at nuclear power plants – 36.3%;
- pollution of rivers, ponds and seas due to sinking of ships, spread of oil products and explosives – 23.9%;
- littering of territories with war waste (debris of destroyed buildings, broken cars, remains of household items and equipment, etc.) – 23.2%;
- spread of dangerous poisonous substances due to shelling and fires at oil depots, gas storage facilities and chemical industry facilities – 21.2%.
It is noted that 13.8% of surveyed Ukrainians consider all 5 environmental consequences to be critical. “The war has a terrible impact on the state of the Ukrainian environment. Using the example of already liberated territories, we can see that the cruelty and indifference of the occupiers lead to the destruction of entire ecosystems. Unfortunately, we will have to overcome the consequences of the war for many more years,” the message emphasized.
Earlier, EcoPolitic wrote, that the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak discussed Russia’s responsibility for environmental crimes in Ukraine with the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Inger Andersen.
As EcoPolitic previously reported, a preliminary assessment of the impact of the war in Ukraine on the ecological situation showed that the war is literally toxic, and future generations will live with a toxic legacy.”
UN commission fails to find evidence of Russia’s genocide in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine. “Erik Møse, Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, said during a press conference on 16 March that the Commission’s investigation into human rights violations in Ukraine has not found evidence that Russia committed genocide in Ukraine. Møse said that during the investigation the Commission has noted that there are some aspects which may raise questions with respect to that crime… [i.e., the crime of genocide – ed.] but we have not yet put in any conclusion here.
On 7 December 2022, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations endorsed a resolution recognising Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide.
On 8 December 2022, Canada and the Netherlands filed a joint declaration of intervention in the International Criminal Court case concerning Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation).
On 4 March 2023, Vsevolod Kniazev, Chairman of Ukraine’s Supreme Court, said that Ukrainian courts would soon begin to hear criminal proceedings on war crimes committed by the Russian Federation concerning the genocide of the Ukrainian People.”
ICC’s Khan: Reasons to believe Putin, Lvova-Belova guilty of deportation of children, Ukrinform reports, citing a statement by Karim Khan, Prosecutor with the International Criminal Court in The Hague. “On 22 February 2023, I submitted applications to Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court for warrants of arrest in the context of the Situation in Ukraine. Today, the Pre-Trial Chamber has issued arrest warrants in relation to the following two individuals: Mr Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation; and Ms Maria Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.
On the basis of evidence collected and analysed by my Office pursuant to its independent investigations, the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, the statement reads.
He said the incidents identified by his Office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes. According to the inquiry, many of these children have since been given for adoption in the Russian Federation. The law was changed in Russia through Putin’s to expedite the conferral of Russian citizenship, making it easier for them to be adopted by Russian families. My Office alleges that these acts, amongst others, demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country. At the time of these deportations, the Ukrainian children were protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the statement reads.”
SBU gathering evidence to “surely bring Putin to the dock” – agency chief, Ukrinform reports, citing the SBU chief, Vasyl Maliuk. “The Security Service is working tirelessly to make sure that both perpetrators and organizers of crimes are held accountable. Forcible deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia is just one of Russia’s numerous crimes. And Putin must be personally held accountable for them, Maliuk emphasized.
He recalled that under the procedural leadership of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the SBU is running over 31,000 criminal proceedings related to war crimes and other crimes committed by the Russian Federation against international humanitarian law in Ukraine. Among them are more than 16,000 cases of illegal deportation of children.
Investigators work every day so that not only the perpetrators but also the main organizer of crimes are punished. We are doing everything to show the world not emotions, but a clear evidence base that will eventually bring Putin to a well-deserved end on the dock. Putin definitely deserves an international tribunal, Maliuk said.
The Security Service also continues to investigate the facts of Russian strikes targeting critical and civilian infrastructure facilities, including children’s hospitals and schools. Such hostile attacks killed and injured many children in various regions of Ukraine, Maliuk noted. The SBU chief noted that the probe into the facts of the brutal treatment of prisoners of war and civilian hostages by the Russian invaders is also underway.
The Security Service emphasized the inevitability of prosecution for crimes against Ukraine. Each criminal will be exposed and brought to justice, regardless of where they are hiding, the SBU said.”
Slovakia to hand over 13 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda, quoting Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia. “At an extraordinary online meeting, the Slovak government decided to transfer 13 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. […] Today, the government unanimously approved an international agreement on the basis of which a decision was made to provide Ukraine with MiGs and a part of the Kub air defence system, Aktuality quoted Heger as saying.
He stressed that the fighter jets would serve to protect Ukrainians and not be used for offence. […] The fighter jets are still in Slovakia, and Defence Minister Nad did not say at the briefing when they would be handed over to Ukraine.
Slovakia announced its decision the day after Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the transfer of four MiG-29s to Ukraine in the coming days. Thus, two NATO countries have publicly promised to provide Ukraine with combat aircraft. After Poland’s decision, the United States said it still had no plans to send American F-16s to Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s government approves draft agreement to get fighter jets from Slovakia, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. “Today, the Slovak government approved the shipment of 13 MiG-29s to Ukraine. For our part, during a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, we approved a draft agreement that is necessary for the transfer of the aircraft. We are working quickly and in coordination so that our military could receive new ‘wings’ as soon as possible, Shmyhal said.”
Partners’ MiGs to strengthen Ukrainian Air Force, but they’re ineffective against Russian terror – official, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Ihnat, Spokesperson of the Ukrainian Air Forces Command. “This will strengthen our capabilities. The aircrafts perform a number of functions: patrolling the airspace of Ukraine [and] fighter cover (cover strike groups of attack aircraft and bombers); MiG-29 aircraft also strike Russian forces’s air defence systems with HARM anti-radar missiles and, during large-scale missile attacks, try to intercept cruise missiles, and Shahed kamikaze drones.
But I will immediately point out that the Soviet equipment we have in service, namely the MiGs, is not an effective weapon against the terror weapons. Their outdated missiles, radars, and airborne radar stations cannot be very effective. As the Ukrainian Air Force explained, Ukraine desperately needs modern, multi-purpose Western-made jets like the F-16s in order to secure the victory over Russia.”
Ukrainian Air Force explains what Ukraine’s Armed Forces need for successful counteroffensive, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Ihnat, Spokesperson of the Ukrainian Air Forces Command. “To achieve success in counter-offensive operations, [the Armed Forces of Ukraine – ed.] need to stop Russian forces (its offensive actions), then gain air superiority, and this can be achieved with modern powerful air defence systems and modern fighter aircraft, which will ensure this dominance in the air over the occupied territories and disrupt logistics supplying Russian forces with fuel and ammunition.”
Canada sends another batch of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine to Europe, Ukrinform reports, citing the Canadian Army on Twitter. “Another batch of Leopard 2s is on its way to Europe as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s illegal invasion, the report states. […]
A reminder that earlier Canada vowed to hand over Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Four of them were delivered to Poland, where the Ukrainian military underwent training to operate them.”
Sweden to send 8 Archer artillery systems to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing TT, a Swedish news agency. “On Thursday, 16 March, the Swedish government approved the decision to transfer eight Archer self-propelled artillery systems to Ukraine based on an assessment of the country’s Armed Forces. The Swedish government requested that the country’s parliament include this as part of an additional draft budget.”
Belgium to send 240 military trucks to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing De Standaard. “Belgium’s Ministry of Defence is planning to hand 240 military trucks over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The first batch of 240 Volvo Cargo, Volvo Shelter, Volvo Fassi and Volvo Manumat trucks will be sent to Ukraine as early as next week.
The Belgian army owns a total of 400 Volvo trucks, some of which are covered or have a crane, and some of which are tow trucks. While Belgium is expecting shipments of new vehicles throughout this year, the majority of the old ones will be sent to Ukraine instead of being gradually phased out and decommissioned. […]
The trucks have been in service since the early 1990s. A few months ago, Belgium initiated extensive inspection and repairs. The Ministry of Defence is convinced that the 240 trucks that are now being sent to the Ukrainian army are in good condition.”
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister urges partners to speed up the supply of ammunition, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing BBC. “Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asks Ukraine’s partners to speed up the supply of ammunition, as every day of delay means someone is going to die on the frontline. Kuleba noted that the Western allies did not provide Ukraine with military support quickly enough because they were not prepared for a conflict on the same scale as World War I. He emphasised Ukraine’s need for artillery shells.”
EU to move towards joint buying of shells for Ukraine, says official, Reuters reports. “A number of European Union countries are expected to sign a “Project Arrangement” on joint procurement of 155 mm artillery shells for Ukraine on Monday, a senior EU official said on Friday. (The Project Arrangement) is the basis for the European Defence Agency and its member states to move on, … basically the terms of reference that are the legal basis to move on. The official could not confirm how many countries would sign, but said they were quite confident to see many signatures on Monday, adding the project was open to all EU members plus Norway and countries would be able to join it at any time.”
- International Criminal Court in Hague issues arrest warrant for Putin, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing International Criminal Court press release. “Per the court’s press service, Pre-Trial Chamber II issued arrest warrants for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova on 17 March 2023. The latter is the Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Affairs. Putin and Lvova-Belova are suspected of committing the war crime of illegal deportation of children from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, which has been taking place since at least 24 February 2022.”
- Kremlin: ICC warrants outrageous and unacceptable, but null and void for us, Reuters “The Kremlin said on Friday that an arrest warrant for war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Russian President Vladimir Putin was outrageous, but meaningless with respect to Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia found the very questions raised by the ICC outrageous and unacceptable, but noted that Russia, like many other countries, did not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC. And accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law.”
- Xi Jinping goes to Russia to ‘urge peace and promote talks’ – Chinese Foreign Ministry, Ukrinform reports, citing CNN. “Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Russia is for peace” and China will uphold its “objective and impartial position on international and regional issues including the Ukraine crisis. That’s according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. China’s proposition boils down to one sentence, which is to urge peace and promote talks, Wang said at a press briefing on Friday. Xi’s trip comes as Beijing attempts to present itself as a neutral peace broker in the Ukraine war and as it struggles to balance its “no-limits” relationship with Moscow and fraying ties with the West. Western officials have also raised concerns that China may be considering providing Russia with lethal military assistance, an accusation denied by Beijing.”
- No risk of war in Moldova while Ukraine holds out – President Sandu, Reuters “President Maia Sandu said on Friday she saw no danger of war in Moldova while Russia is fighting in Ukraine, despite what she said were Russian efforts to destabilise her country. Issuing a rallying cry during a speech to parliament, Sandu hailed Ukraine for holding out against Russia since Moscow invaded over a year ago and urged Moldovans to unite behind the former Soviet Republic’s bid to join the European Union.”
- In show of unity, NATO and EU heads visit North Sea gas platform, Reuters “The heads of NATO and the European Commission flew on Friday to a North Sea platform to discuss the security of supplies and infrastructure, a visit underlining Norway’s importance for gas shipments since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. […] After a drop in Russian flows, the Nordic country last year became the largest gas supplier to the EU. […] Security at Norwegian petroleum installations was increased after the explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines on Sept. 26 in the Baltic Sea, with NATO alliesproviding military support. Norway’s energy infrastructure is vital, but vulnerable, because of its size, involving thousands of kilometres of pipelines as well as internet and power cables, Stoltenberg told reporters.”
- Kremlin says Ukrainian authorities’ decision on Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate justifies “special operation”, Ukrainska Pravda “Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian dictator, has said that the decision of the Ukrainian authorities not to extend the lease of the Kyiv Monastery of the caves to representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) “confirms the correctness of the special operation [the term ‘war’ is prohibited in Russia – ed.] in Ukraine.”
- Türkiye Ratifies Finland’s NATO Membership without Sweden, European Pravda “Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Friday that the country has ratified the protocol on Finland’s NATO accession. […] The approval of its NATO accession can be put to a vote in the parliament. The Turkish leader added, they will continue discussions with Sweden. At the same time, Erdoğan points out that Türkiye adheres to the “open door” policy of the Alliance. […] According to sources, the Turkish parliament may ratify Finland’s NATO application by mid-April (Ukr).”
- Hungary, following Türkiye, also ratifies Finland’s NATO accession without Sweden, European Pravda “On behalf of the “Fidesz” group, I would like to inform you that we have decided to support Finland’s NATO accession. We will postpone the vote in the parliament until March 27. We will vote then unanimously in favour, wrote Máté Kocsis, head of the parliamentary group “Fidesz,” on Facebook. He added that the parliament would decide on Sweden’s NATO accession later. The Parliament of Hungary had agreed to consider accepting new NATO memberson March 31 (Ukr).”
- Mass media reveal Kremlin’s plans to re-elect Putin for fifth time, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. “Vladimir Putin’s administration has formulated preliminary “ideological guidelines” for the 2024 presidential campaign. […] According to the presidential administration, in the next election, Vladimir Putin will be positioned primarily as a ‘keeper of traditional values’. In addition, Kremlin ideologists intend to rely on the rhetoric of Russia’s moral superiority over other countries.”
- Lukashenko will meet with Putin in April after visiting China and Iran, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Vedomosti. “Putin will meet with Lukashenko on 6 April at a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State [a supranational union of Belarus and Russia aimed at deepening the relationship between the two states through integration in economic and defence policy] […]. The agenda will include issues related to the joint fight against sanctions pressure and security. The last face-to-face meeting between Putin and Lukashenko occurred on 19 December 2022. Since late January, Lukashenko has visited the UAE, Zimbabwe, China and Iran, meeting with the leaders of these countries, including Chinese President Xi Jinping”
- Russian defence minister decorates pilots for downing US drone, Reuters “Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has presented awards to the pilots of two Su-27 fighter planes that intercepted a US drone near the airspace around Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, his ministry said on Friday. The drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday after being intercepted by Russian jets, in the first known direct military encounter between Russia and the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.”
Russia rained missiles on Ukraine’s power grid, aiming to utilize the cold winter as a weapon of mass destruction. But something went wrong.https://t.co/aKRWAeFZjW
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 17, 2023
- On the war.
The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of March 17, 2022:
Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 17. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Hryanykivka (17km northeast of Svatove), Kreminna, Kuzmyne (3km southwest of Kreminna), Verkhnokamianske (7km east of Siversk), and Spirne (11km southeast of Spirne). A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces drove Ukrainian forces near Hryanykivka across the Oskil River to the western (right) bank. Former Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) People’s Militia Spokesperson Eduard Basurin claimed that positional battles continue northwest of Kreminna near the Zhuravka gully and south of Kreminna near the Serebrianska forest area. A Russian source claimed that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults near Makiivka (22km northwest of Kreminna), Nevske (18km northwest of Kreminna), Yampolivka (17km west of Kreminna), and Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna). Another Russian source claimed that Russian forces gained territory along this line and near Chervonopopivka (6km north of Kreminna), however.
Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted an unsuccessful ground attack near Chervonopopivka on an unspecified recent date and are accumulating forces for a future counteroffensive push.
Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut on March 17. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut, within 11km northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Hryhorivka, and within 6km southwest of Bakhmut near Ivanivske and Klishchiivka. Russian mibloggers claimed that Wagner Group fighters attacked Ukrainian positions near Khromove (2km west of Bakhmut) and Bohdanivka (6km west of Bakhmut). Geolocated footage published on March 17 indicates that Russian forces secured marginal gains in northern Bakhmut. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) head Denis Pushilin claimed that Russian forces advanced deeper into the AZOM complex in northern Bakhmut, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation that Russian forces are operating on the territory of the complex. Ukrainian State Border Guards reported that Ukrainian forces engaged in combat with Wagner fighters in an industrial zone in Bakhmut but did not specify whether it was the AZOM complex. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces continued assaults in the southern parts of Bakhmut and that Wagner fighters reached the T0504 highway on Bakhmut’s southwestern outskirts and severed a Ukrainian supply line. ISW has not observed visual confirmation that Wagner Group forces have interdicted the T0504 highway on the southern outskirts of Bakhmut as of this publication. Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut would still be able to access sections of the T0504 highway through country roads between Khromove and Ivanivske, even if the current Russian claims are true.
Russian forces continued offensive operations along the outskirts of Donetsk City on March 17. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian offensive operations near Avdiiivka, Kamianka (5km northeast of Avdiivka), and within 27km southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske, Nevelske, and Marinka. Russian milbloggers continued to claim that Russian forces have captured Krasnohorivka (8km north of Avdiivka), although ISW has still not observed visual confirmation of these claims. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces started an offensive from Krasnohorivka in the direction of Stepove (8km northwest of Avdiivka) and are attempting to capture a section of a local railroad that leads into Avdiivka. A prominent Russian milblogger assessed on March 16 that Russian forces are unlikely to advance quickly north of Avdiivka following the claimed capture of Krasnohorivka and that it is premature to talk about the possibility of Russian forces encircling Ukrainian forces in Avdiivka. Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted assaults on the northern outskirts of Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka) and attempted to advance towards Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka).
A Russian official claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted counter-attacks in an unspecified area of western Donetsk Oblast on March 17. Russian Eastern Grouping of Forces spokesperson Alexander Gordeev claimed that elements of unspecified Russian naval infantry brigades of the Pacific Fleet repelled elements of three Ukrainian brigades that attempted to counterattack and conduct reconnaissance-in-force operations in an unspecified area of western Donetsk Oblast. The 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades of the Pacific Fleet are currently operating in the Vuhledar area, but ISW has not observed other Russian claims about Ukrainian counterattacks around Vuhledar in recent days.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Russia from March 20 to 22 likely to discuss sanctions evasion schemes and Chinese interest in mediating a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin stated that Putin and Xi plan to sign unspecified bilateral documents and discuss topical issues in Russia’s and China’s comprehensive partnership. Chinese companies have reportedly sold rifles, drone parts, and equipment to Russian entities that could be used for military purposes, and Western intelligence agencies have stated that Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment to Russia. Xi likely plans to discuss sanctions evasion schemes with Putin and Russian officials to support the sale and provision of Chinese equipment to Russia. ISW previously assessed that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Xi signed a package of 16 agreements on March 1 that may facilitate Russian sanctions evasion by channeling Chinese products through Belarus. Xi also likely aims to promote Chinese efforts aiming to position China as an impartial third-party mediator for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. China released a broad 12-point peace plan for the war in Ukraine on February 24, although it remains unclear what more definitive Chinese proposals for a negotiated settlement to the war would encompass. Xi may seek to parlay his success in mediating the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia into a larger effort to mediate in this war.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that Belarusian industry is supplying Russia with electronic components, potentially supporting previous ISW assessments that Belarus may assist Russia in evading Western sanctions. Lukashenko stated on March 17 that Belarus and Russia signed an agreement on establishing a joint Belarusian-Russian center for the development and production of photomasks (an intermediate good used in the production of integrated circuits), that the two states have developed a list of critically important electronic components, and that Belarusian industry has already begun shipping unspecified microelectronics to Russian enterprises. ISW previously assessed that Belarus might facilitate sanction evasion for Russia and that China might clandestinely transfer goods and/or equipment to Russia via Belarus.] The US State Department sanctioned several additional Belarusian defense entities and tightened existing export controls to Belarus as of February 24, 2023, but these sanctions may not be comprehensive enough to prevent Belarus from sending Russia electronic components used in weapon systems and other dual use technologies. Lukashenko made this announcement at the Belarusian Planar Joint Stock Company technological enterprise, which the US does not appear to have sanctioned.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s rhetoric about Belgrade’s refusal to sanction Russia is softening. Vucic refused to promise that Serbia will not sanction Russia, acknowledged that Belgrade’s decision not to join European sanctions against Russia has brought Serbia “tough [economic] circumstances,” and stated that he will evaluate “when we are in a deadlock and when our policy has to change” on March 17. Serbian Economy Minister Rade Basta called on the Serbian government to impose sanctions on Russia and stated that Serbia is paying a “high price” for not doing so on March 14. Politico previously reported that Vucic is seemingly reconsidering Serbia’s close ties with Russia, spurred in part by ongoing Wagner Group recruitment and subversion efforts in Serbia and demonstrating the international economic and informational costs imposed on Putin by his invasion of Ukraine. […]
Russian outlet Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that it did not submit a press request to Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin concerning a rumored plot by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev against him. Nezavismaya Gazeta suggested that someone responsible for fabricating the request is actively engaged in fomenting conflict between different siloviki structures, which may support ISW’s March 16 assessment that Prigozhin likely promoted the alleged plot to support informational campaigns against the Russian military establishment. ISW initially assessed on March 16 that Prigozhin might have fabricated the alleged plot to support these informational campaigns, but ISW failed to observe that a Russian milblogger had posted rumors about the alleged plot on March 13. Prigozhin’s press service was involved in a fabrication of some kind given the Nezavisimaya Gazeta denial, but Prigozhin does not appear to have fabricated the rumor itself. Prigozhin’s press service may have received a fabricated press request or may have fabricated the press request itself. Prigozhin chose to give prominence to the rumored plot whoever fabricated the press request. ISW continues to assess that Prigozhin promoted the rumored plot to identify Patrushev and the Russian Security Council as enemies of the Wagner Group, set conditions to blame Patrushev for Wagner’s failures in Ukraine, and support ongoing informational campaigns against the traditional Russian military establishment.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Russia from March 20 to 22 likely to discuss sanctions evasion schemes and Chinese interest in mediating a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine.
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that Belarusian industry is supplying Russia electronic components, potentially supporting previous ISW assessments that Belarus may assist Russia to evade Western sanctions.
- Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s rhetoric about Belgrade’s refusal to sanction Russia is softening.
- The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova on March 17 for alleged war crimes involving the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
- Russian outlet Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that it did not submit a press request to Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin concerning a rumored plot by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev against him.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks across the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations along the outskirts of Donetsk City.
- Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian forces along the front line in southern Ukraine.
- The Kremlin continues to call up reservists throughout Russia.
Russian authorities reportedly detained three Ukrainian partisans in occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Ukraine’s Air Assault Forces say commander “overstated” Ukraine’s losses in Washington Post interview, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Ukraine’s Air Assault Forces have said that Anatolii “Kupol” Kozel, a battalion commander in the 46th Separate Airmobile Brigade, did not have permission to speak to journalists. The Air Assault Forces added that Kupol “overstated” Ukraine’s losses and said he would be moved to a position at one of the Air Assault Forces training centres. […]
The spokesman stressed that 100% of the mobilised servicemen in the Air Assault Forces underwent basic and professional training before being assigned to military units. The training takes place at Air Assault Forces training centres in Ukraine and abroad.
Anatolii “Kupol”, a battalion commander in the 46th Separate Airmobile Brigade, gave an interview to The Washington Post in which he spoke about Ukraine’s military losses. He claimed that out of the approximately 500 soldiers in his battalion, about 100 had been killed and another 400 wounded, leading to complete turnover. The Washington Post concluded that Ukraine had lost many of its more experienced fighters and claimed that lack of experience among the new recruits, coupled with the lack of weapons, was diminishing optimism and cast doubt over Kyiv’s readiness for a spring counteroffensive.
Kupol was demoted from the post of combat battalion commander of the 46th Airmobile Brigade to deputy battalion commander of the training centre after the controversial interview with The Washington Post. Kupol wrote a letter of resignation.”
Americans launch second drone towards Black Sea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Crimea.Realities. “The United States has sent a new reconnaissance drone toward the Ukrainian Crimea annexed by Russia. According to the Flightradar service, the RQ-4 Global Hawk with the call sign FORTE10 headed for the Black Sea. The UAV entered the Black Sea, having circled in Romanian airspace for several hours before that. […]
The US is conducting an assessment of its drone operations in the Black Sea area following the incident. It is “taking a close look” at the drone’s routes and assessing how to better deconflict with Russian forces.
Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, said that the attack on the American drone was carried out over part of Russian territory, and the Americans were completely impudent, so there is no need to “stand on ceremony” with them. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu decorated the Su-27 pilots who [downed the] American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea.”
- Consequences and what to do?
Russians flood Kazakhstan with sanction-busting requests, Reuters reports. “Russian companies have flooded their Kazakh partners in recent weeks with new requests to help them circumvent Western sanctions and import badly needed goods, seven sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. After Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year, the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia’s $2.1 trillion economy, prompting Moscow to seek circuitous routes for importing technology and goods.
With the sale of thousands of items banned by the West, traders established an elaborate network of supply chains through third countries to bypass the restrictions. Many goods enter via Türkiye and former Soviet Republics, economists say.
The seven sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said they had seen a rise in Russian requests to help get everything from bearings and aircraft parts to rare earth metals across Kazakhstan’s 7,591-kilometre (4,717-mile) land border with Russia. […] This means the boom is just beginning, said one businessman involved in foreign trade who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. […]
Russians have a very long shopping list which includes industrial equipment, railway bearings, advanced electronics, radio equipment, turbines, airplane parts, raw materials, and even bank card materials, the sources said.
Some Russian firms have sought to establish long-term sanction-busting partnerships, the sources said. Under Russian law, it is an offence to comply with the Western sanctions and sanctions-busting has become a profitable boom industry for some entrepreneurs.”
Naftogaz plans to withdraw from gas imports next heating season, Ukrinform reports, citing Naftogaz Group. “One of our priorities today is also to restore a real operation of the gas market in Ukraine. We are pro-actively working to increase domestic production, through the efforts of both Naftogaz Group and private producers that should be provided with appropriate conditions.
Ukraine is preparing for various scenarios to pass through the next heating season. At the same time, Naftogaz’s team is making its best to manage without gas imports this year, for the first time in Ukraine’s independent history, Chernyshov told. The relevant statement was made by Naftogaz Group CEO Oleksiy Chernyshov at a meeting with Energy Community Secretariat (ECS) Director Artur Lorkowski.”
Hans Petter Midttun: Today’s assessment will be published as a separate article. A teaser:
Most analytics, experts, and officials have long concluded that the Russian full-scale invasion is failing.
Various experts have assessed that Russian forces have gained just 0.01-0.039% more territory in Ukraine in February. The gains came at tremendous costs. According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russia lost 21,740 soldiers, 187 main battle tanks, 252 armoured vehicles and 186 pieces of artillery during February.
According to General Mark Milley, Russia is “throwing undertrained, poorly led, poorly equipped Russian forces in mindless frontal attacks and sacrificing them hundreds per day.”
Christopher Cavoli, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, believe Russia has more than 200,000 Russian casualties. According to Ukraine, as of today 164,200 Russians have been killed. That means the total number of casualties are about 490,000; more than half of the Russian Armed Forces as of 23. February 2022.
Russia has lost huge numbers of main battle tanks (3,511), armoured vehicles (6,830), artillery (2,560), MLRS (506), air defence systems (265), combat aircraft (305) (and helicopters (290). While Western reporting is lower, the effects of the Russian losses are very much visible on the battlefield.
- Russia has not been operating fighter jets or helicopters over Ukrainian controlled areas since last spring. They conduct stand off missiles attacks from Russian territory.
- Russia is suffering fewer losses of heavy equipment because there are less of them on the battlefield; they do not commit what they have during assault operations for fear of suffering losses; and they are bringing out old equipment from storage.
- They have not been able to occupy new territory or breakthrough the Ukrainian defensive lines.
On 14 March, British Defence Intelligence assessed that the Russian artillery ammunition shortages have likely worsened in recent weeks.
Based on Ukrainian reporting it seems like Russian artillery and air defence systems are increasingly being targeted by Ukrainian drones and artillery.
Ukraine is slowly creating the conditions for the spring counteroffensive.
That does not mean that the Ukrainian counteroffensive will be easy. A number of the prerequisites for a counteroffensive are still not in place.
Most of the prerequisites will not be in place before summer. Some – including long-range fire, combat aircraft and sheer numbers – might not be in place this year.
Still, Ukraine might attempt a counteroffensive before summer for lack of alternatives as time favours Russia
Tags: Russian invasion