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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 417: Polish government bans import of Ukrainian agricultural products

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 417: Polish government bans import of Ukrainian agricultural products

Polish government bans import of Ukrainian agricultural products. EU imposes sanctions on Wagner PMC after a video of the alleged beheading of Ukrainian POW surfaces. G7 countries pledge over $5 billion in additional financial assistance to Ukraine.

Daily overview — Summary report, April 16

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, April 16, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. April 15, 2023. Source: ISW.

 
Day 417 of the full-scale russian military aggression has begun.
The tussian federation continues to wage a war of aggression, completely ignores International Humanitarian Law, strikes and bombards non-military objects.
During the day, the enemy carried out 28x air and 6x missile strikes, carried out 38 rounds from MLRS on the positions of our troops and the civilian infrastructure of populated areas.
The russian aggressor continues to use terror tactics, the threat of launching missile and air strikes throughout the territory of Ukraine remains high.
The enemy suffers considerable losses, but does not abandon his plans to occupy our territory. It continues to focus its main efforts on conducting offensive actions in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’yinka areas. Bakhmut and Mar’yinka remain at the epicenter of hostilities. During the day, on the indicated areas of the front, our soldiers repelled more than 60x enemy attacks.
Kharkiv Battle Map. April 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn’, Polissya, Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: no signs of the formation of offensive groups of the enemy were detected. Complete check of the combat readiness of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus is underway. Some units of the territorial troops of the armed forces of the russian federation continue to be present on the territory of the republic of belarus. During the past day, the enemy shelled the settlements of Bunyakyne, Iskriskivshchyna, Volfine, Shpyl, Basivka, Yunakivka, and Popivka in the Sumy Oblast, as well as Kozacha Lopan, Gatyshche, Vovchansk, and Vovchanski Khutory in the Kharkiv Oblast.
Kupiansk axis: the enemy mined the terrain in the areas of four settlements. They carried out shelling in Novomlynsk, Dvorichny and Berestovo Oblasts of Kharkiv Oblast.
Donetsk Battle Map. April 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives near the settlements of Dibrova and Bilogorivka. Stelmakhivka, Nevske, Belogorivka of the Luhansk Oblast and Ivanivka, Torske and Spirne of the Donetsk Oblast were hit by artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. April 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the enemy continues to conduct offensive actions. The battles for the city of Bakhmut do not stop. The enemy launched an attack near the settlement of Khromov, but was unsuccessful. Vasyukivka, Minkivka, Orihovo-Vasylivka, Novomarkove, Hryhorivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Stupochki, Kostyantynivka, Diliivka and New York of the Donetsk Oblast were affected by enemy shelling.
Avdiivka axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the Avdiivka and Severny Oblasts of the Donetsk Oblast, without success. Fired more than 15x settlements near the contact line. Among them are Keramik, Stepove, Berdychi, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske and Karlivka of the Donetsk Oblast.
Mar’yinka axis: our defenders repelled numerous enemy attacks in the area of Mar’yinka settlement of Donetsk Oblast. At the same time, Georgiyivka, Mar’yinka, Kurakhove, Pobieda and Novomykhailivka of the Donetsk Oblast came got enemy fire.
Shakhtars’ke axis: during the past day, the enemy did not conduct offensive operations in the. They shelled the settlements of Vugledar, Prechistivka, Zolota Niva, Velika Novosilka of the Donetsk Oblast.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. April 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the enemy continues to conduct defensive operations. Last day, they shelled the settlements near the frontline. Among them are Vremivka, Novopil’ of the Donetsk Oblast; Olgivske, Malynivka, Gulyaipole, Charivne, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka, Orikhov of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast; Antonivka, Zelenivka of the Kherson Oblast and the city of Kherson. Civilians died.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. April 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
The russian federation is suffering daily losses in the war it has waged against Ukraine, which is evident. It is known that the Minister of Defense of the russian federation has made a decision to postpone the start of the training process for officers in some higher military educational institutions from September 1 to December 1.
There is also a decrease in the number of personnel in units that have undergone training at training grounds. Which is probably related to the constant sending of small groups to combat areas to replenish the losses of combat units.
Recently, an open letter from the terrorist organization “PVK Wagner” appeared in the information space with a kind of “invitation” to its ranks of volunteers. It is known that units of this organization suffered heavy losses during the offensive on Bakhmut.
Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has carried out 11x strikes on areas of concentration of personnel and military equipment of the occupiers, as well as 3x – on anti-aircraft missile complexes.
Yesterday, our soldiers shot down an enemy Su-25 aircraft.
Units of missile and artillery troops struck 3x areas of concentration of enemy manpower, weapons and military equipment, as well as an area of concentration of artillery, a radar station, 2x electronic warfare stations, an anti-aircraft missile system and an ammunition depot.

Military Updates

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

  • General Colonel Mikhail Teplinsky, commander of Russia’s corps of airborne troops, the VDV, has highly likely returned to a major role in Ukraine. He was previously dismissed from the theatre in January 2023.
  • Teplinsky is likely one of the few senior Russian generals widely respected by the rank-and-file. His recent turbulent career suggests intense tensions between factions within the Russian General Staff about Russia’s military approach in Ukraine.
  • It is unlikely Teplinsky’s remit will be limited to VDV units, but he is highly likely to promote the corps’ traditional role as an elite force. In recent days, the VDV have resumed a key mission in the battle for Bakhmut, and likely undertaken novel integration with TOS-1A thermobaric rocket launchers in the Kremina sector.

Losses of the Russian army 

Humanitarian 

Polish volunteer who fought for “Ukraine’s freedom and Poland’s security” killed by a Russian missile. A 45-year-old Polish volunteer, Michał Żurek, who was killed by a Russian missile in Ukraine, will be buried on Friday in his hometown of Bralin near Kępno, TVP reports. Żurek was a platoon commander in the International Volunteer Legion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, where he gained experience in the Territorial Defense Forces before being deployed to Ukraine. He leaves behind four children between the ages of 12 and 18.

Deadly Russian missile attack in Sloviansk leaves nine dead and 21 injured. Nine people have been reported dead and four others are still missing following the Russian shelling of a residential building in the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk oblast. According to Suspilne, a Ukrainian news agency, referring local emergency service, rescuers have retrieved the body of a woman from the rubble, while the search for the missing persons is still ongoing.

Russian shelling of Ukraine’s Kherson killed mother and daughter. On 15 April 2023, Russian artillery shelled the Tavriyskyi district of the south-Ukrainian Kherson city, particularly the territory near the school. This Russian shelling ended the lives of a 48-year-old woman, and her 28-year-old daughter, Kherson Oblast Administration informed.

Environment

Polish government bans import of Ukrainian agricultural products. The Polish government has decided to ban the import of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine in an effort to protect the Polish agricultural sector. The Polish Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Waldemar Buda, announced the decision. He also published the governmental resolution, which bans imports until 30 June 2023.

The number of countries working on the Russian war crimes tribunal has increased to 34. The number of participating countries in the group working on creating a special tribunal regarding the Russian crime of aggression has increased to 34. This was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba. Kuleba said that another country, Costa Rica, will join the group.

EU imposes sanctions on Russia’s Wagner PMC after a video of the alleged beheading of a Ukrainian POW surfaces. The European Union has added Russia’s Wagner PMC and the news agency “FAN,” associated with Kremlin oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, to the sanctions list. According to the EU, Wagner’s private military company is responsible for the attacks on the Ukrainian cities of Soledar and Bakhmut in January 2023 and is now actively involved in the Russian war against Ukraine. “Thus, the Wagner group bears responsibility for providing financial support for actions that undermine and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine,” the official journal of the European Union has stated.

Support

“I have no doubt that Ukraine would prevail,” Canada’s PM Trudeau said. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed his confidence in Ukraine’s ability to repel Russia’s aggression and emerge victorious from the war. According to Ukrinform, Trudeau spoke with journalists and stated that he had “no doubt that Ukraine would prevail.” Trudeau also emphasized that Canada would continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. He stated, “We will continue to provide military, economic, humanitarian, trade, and commercial support, work on grain, and work with friends on building a successful future for ourselves and all those who share our values.”

Canada has deployed three Leopard gunnery simulators to help train Ukrainian tank crews. Canada has provided support to Ukraine in training tank crews for the Leopard 2 tanks, by sending three simulators for the tank’s guns. Additionally, eight of these tanks have already been delivered to Poland, Anita Anand, the Minister of National Defence for Canada reports.

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G7 countries pledge over $5 billion in additional financial assistance to Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that G7 countries have pledged over $5 billion in additional financial support to Ukraine during the Springs Meeting. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom agreed to provide additional support packages. Switzerland will provide Ukraine with 1.8 billion francs over the next six years, while Denmark will create a special fund and plans to raise it to 1 billion euros. Spain, Ireland, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Iceland, and the Netherlands will also provide additional support to Ukraine.

Switzerland plans to provide USD 1.7 bn assistance for Ukraine by 2028. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis has said the Swiss government plans to provide $1,7 bn assistance for Ukraine by 2028, Swiss Info has reported. The Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the aid would be provided within the framework of the international cooperation strategy for 2025-2028.

Poland to gradually transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine – Polish President Duda. Polish President Andrzej Duda stated that Poland would gradually transfer MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine as it replenishes its fleet with FA-50 and later F-35 fighters, as reported by Ukrianska Pravda, citing the joint press conference between President Duda and the Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen.

British Ambassador on fighter jets for Ukraine: it is a “long-term conversation”. Commenting on the decision to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, British Ambassador to Ukraine, Her Excellency Dame Melinda Simmons, stated that the UK cannot always be first in the provision of weapons and that this is a “long-term conversation,” as reported by Ukrainska Pravda, referencing Ambassador Simmons on the live national telethon.

Ukrainian military completed artillery training in Denmark. In Denmark, the Ukrainian military has completed training on French-made Caesar self-propelled artillery systems, destined for Ukraine in the coming weeks, as reported by European Pravda, referencing the Danish Ministry of Defense. In January, with the support of the parliament, the Danish government made a decision to transfer all 19 Caesar howitzers ordered from France to Ukraine. In addition to the equipment, the Danish side offered to provide Ukrainian military training and education.

New Developments

America’s proxy war? No, Ukraine’s liberation war

Polish government bans import of Ukrainian agricultural products. The Polish government has decided to ban the import of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine to protect the Polish agricultural sector. The Polish Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Waldemar Buda, announced the decision. He also published the governmental resolution, which bans imports until 30 June 2023.

Kremlin launches Pacific Fleet exercises to boost partnership with China and deter Japan’s support for Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu will meet with China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu to discuss bilateral defense cooperation and regional and global security. The Kremlin is likely trying to portray Russia as an equal defense partner with China before the visit, Institute for the Study of War reports. However, China has been trying to downplay its support for Russia, stating that it will regulate the export of items to Russia with dual civilian and military uses. This is a continuation of China’s efforts to demonstrate that there are limits to the partnership with Russia.

“We are united with US, other partners in our counteroffensive and we will liberate our territories,” Ukraine PM says. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal declined to comment on whether he discussed the classified document leak in meetings with US officials in Washington, but emphasized that the two countries are united, CNN reports. Shmyhal did not respond to a question about whether US officials had apologized for the leak, including documents regarding the war in Ukraine. Shmyhal suggested the leak may be linked to Russia but acknowledged that an investigation is needed.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  April 15, 2022:

Reporting from some Western sources that Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin called for Russia to end its war against Ukraine is inaccurate.[1] Some Western reports covering Prigozhin’s April 14 essay on a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive and the future of the war miscontextualized a rhetorical statement in which Prigozhin established a strawman argument he attributed to Russia’s “internal enemies” who seek to rationalize Russia ending the war in Ukraine now.[2] The point of his essay was to attack this strawman, not to advance it. Prigozhin actually called on Russia to commit to a decisive fight that will either defeat Ukraine or result in a temporary Russian defeat that will catalyze Russia’s nationalist rebirth and set conditions for future victory.[3] A full reading of Prigozhin’s essay, titled, “Only an Honest Fight: No Negotiations,” does not lend itself to any reasonable interpretation that Prigozhin advocated for an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Reading Prigozhin’s public communications is not a straightforward undertaking. Much of the nuance included in Prigozhin’s speech is lost when translating Russian to English. Prigozhin has an idiosyncratic rhetorical and writing style that relies heavily on deadpan sarcasm, selective ambiguity, aphorisms, vulgarity, and ironic slang. Prigozhin’s isolated quotes separated from the full context of his messages often lose their initial meaning.

Certain Russian players in the information space have also misinterpreted Prigozhin’s essay, further exposing fissures between some Russian milbloggers. Pro-Kremlin news aggregator Readovka noted on April 15 that some unspecified Russian-language Telegram channels – like some Western media – simply repeated Prigozhin’s strawman argument about the seduction of settling for negotiations without “reading any further” into Prigozhin’s call for a protracted struggle.[4] Readovka endorsed Prigozhin’s actual argument that the “uncomfortable truth” is that Russia must continue to fight, concurring that negotiations to end the war would “do more harm than good.”[5] Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin – an enemy of Prigozhin – leaned into the misinterpretation of Prigozhin’s essay (possibly on purpose) as part of their ongoing blogging feud. Girkin sarcastically asked, “Do I understand correctly that the Black Clown [Prigozhin] called for the Russian Federation to reject half of the Donetsk People’s Republic and a third of Zaporizhzhia Oblast…?”[6] Girkin also implied that that Russian prosecutors should investigate Prigozhin for his essay, likely for discrediting the Russian “special military operation,” given that the strawman argument advocates that Russia should simply retain only territory it currently occupies in Ukraine.[7] Prigozhin’s essay may continue to fuel debate along existing cleavages in the Russian information space where Prigozhin’s supporters and competitors may use selective readings of the essay to either praise or malign Prigozhin while advancing their own arguments.

The Russian information space is reckoning with demographic transitions within Russia in a way that indicates that the nationalist ideologies underpinning the war in Ukraine will continue to have reverberating domestic impacts. Russian outlet RBC reported on April 13 that a study published by the Russian New Economic Association found that an increase in the number of migrants from 390,000 to 1.1 million annually would help stabilize Russia’s population, which is in decline due to domestic levels of fertility and life expectancy as well as population outflow.[8] Moscow Duma Deputy Andrey Medvedev responded to the study and accused “lobbyists” of advocating for uncontrolled migration from Central Asia, which Medvedev claimed will bring more violence and extremism to Russia at great social and economic cost.[9] Medvedev called instead for a new law on the repatriation of ethnic Russians from all over the world in order to stabilize demographic shifts and save them from “Russophobia” abroad.[10] Russian State Duma Deputy for Defense Dmitry Kuznetsov relatedly reported on April 15 that Voronezh Oblast may begin a pilot program on the social integration of refugees and noted that this program is intended for pro-Russian refugees who left Ukraine for Russia.[11] Kuznetsov’s proposed bill underlines the same brand of staunch nationalism that Medvedev is advocating for and seeks to uphold and codify a sense of exceptionalism for ethnic Russians in Russian at the expense of all ethnic minority populations. The war in Ukraine has had, and will continue to have, substantial population and demographic impacts within Russia.[12] These impacts will leave the door open for the continued weaponization of intensely nationalist rhetoric as the war continues to empower the most staunchly xenophobic (and vocal) factions of Russian society.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party intends to recruit Russian military personnel who have served in Ukraine as candidates for elections in 2023 and 2024, likely in an effort to establish itself as the definitive pro-war party in Russia. United Russia Central Executive Committee Head Alexander Sidyakin announced on April 14 that the Young Guard of United Russia (United Russia’s youth wing) launched an educational module about participating in primaries for Russian military personnel and volunteers who have fought in Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.[13] Sidyakin reportedly stated that Russian military personnel and volunteers will be on United Russia candidate lists for upcoming regional elections in September 2023.[14]  The United Russia party is currently nominating candidates for primaries until April 27, and primaries will run from May 22 to 28.[15] Young Guard of United Russia Chairman Anton Demidov reportedly stated on April 14 that Russian military personnel and volunteers will become the main speakers of the party during Russia’s 2024 presidential election.[16]

The recruitment of military personnel as political candidates during a time of war is typical for a society that holds elections, regardless of the fairness or significance of those elections. The Kremlin likely intends to recruit military personnel as candidates to a greater extent than is usual even for a war time country, however. The Kremlin likely aims to use candidates who have served in Ukraine as the public face of the United Russia party in upcoming elections to court the support of military constituents and their family members and to establish United Russia as the definitive political party for the pro-war movement. The potential “militarization” of the United Russia party likely does not presage a Kremlin effort to escalate the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin is likely aiming to co-opt military personnel to support its ongoing effort to curry favor with the pro-war Russian ultranationalist community without fulfilling the community’s extreme demands.

Key Takeaways

  • Reporting from some Western sources that Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin called for Russia to end its war against Ukraine is inaccurate.
  • Certain Russian players in the information space have also misinterpreted Prigozhin’s essay, further exposing fissures between some Russian milbloggers.
  • The Russian information space is reckoning with demographic transitions within Russia in a way that indicates that the nationalist ideologies underpinning the war in Ukraine will continue to have reverberating domestic impacts.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party announced its intention to recruit Russian military personnel who have served in Ukraine as candidates for elections in 2023 and 2024, likely in an effort to establish itself as the definitive pro-war party in Russia.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks near Kreminna and may be preparing to defend territory in the Kupiansk direction.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City front.
  • Russian forces continued defensive operations in southern Ukraine.
  • A Russian opposition news source reported that Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) head Leonid Pasechnik signed a decree on April 14 authorizing spring and fall conscription in occupied Luhansk Oblast.
  • The Russian State Security Service (FSB) is likely involved in efforts to target Ukrainian youth in occupied territories for law enforcement and counter-partisan purposes.
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