Russo Ukrainian War. Day 430: Russian missile destroys residential high rise in Uman, kills 23

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russian missile destroys residential high rise in Uman, kills 23, including 5 children. Ukraine demands that Russia open humanitarian corridors for residents of occupied territories. Ukraine accumulating ammunition.

https://twitter.com/ZelenskyyUa/status/1652037793806184449

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Daily overview — Summary report, April 29

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, April 29, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW.

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Yesterday, the Russian Federation launched another massive missile attack on civilian objects and residential buildings. Unfortunately, there was a hit. Civilians were killed and injured. While not achieving the desired results on the battlefield, Russian forces cynically continue to use terror tactics, thereby grossly violating the norms of International Humanitarian Law.

In total, during the past day, Russian forces launched 23 cruise missiles of the Kh-101 and Kh-555 types. Our defenders destroyed 21 cruise missiles, as well as 2 UAVs of operational-tactical level and 2 strike drones.

The cities of Uman in Cherkasy, Dnipro, as well as a Ukrayinka town in the Kyiv Oblast. According to preliminary information, more than 20 civilians died, including 4 children. People remain under the rubble; search operations are ongoing. More than 10 apartment buildings and other civil infrastructure were damaged. Russian forces also carried out 36 airstrikes. Using guided aerial bombs, the Russians attacked Chernihiv Oblast, as a result of which 8 civilian houses were bombed in the settlement of Kostobobriv. In addition, Russian forces carried out 65 rounds from MLRS.

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

Russian forces continue to focus their main efforts on conducting offensive actions on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka axes. During the past day, they carried out 48 attacks on the specified areas of the front.

Bakhmut and Maryinka remain at the epicentre of hostilities, our soldiers bravely defend themselves.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not undergone significant changes. No signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups were detected.
Kharkiv Battle Map. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the military presence of Russian forces in the border areas of the Russian Federation with Ukraine is maintained. During the past day, Russian forces carried out airstrikes on the settlements of Semenivka, Leonivka, Kostobobriv, Gremyach, and Romashkovo; carried out mortar and artillery shelling of the settlements of Galaganivka, Leonivka, and Buchka in the Chernihiv Oblast; Romashkove, Vilna Sloboda, Stukalyvka, Iskryskivshchyna, Volfyne and Obody of the Sumy Oblast, as well as Morokhovets, Lyptsi, Gatyshche, Volohivka, Nesterne, Budarky in the Kharkiv Oblast.
  • Kupyansk axis: the adversary did not carry out offensive actions, actively using unmanned aerial vehicles to adjust artillery fire. The settlements of Krasne Pershe, Novomlynsk, Figolivka, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Lyman Pershey, Synkivka, Kislivka, Berestov in Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske in Luhansk Oblast were hit by enemy artillery and mortar attacks.
Donetsk Battle Map. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Lyman axis: Russian forces carried out unsuccessful offensive actions in the area of Bilogorivka and south of Dibrova. They carried out airstrikes on the settlements of Novoyehorivka, Nevske, Belogorivka, Torske, Serebryanka, Spirne, and Ivanovka. Makiivka, Nevske, Dibrova, and Belogorivka of the Luhansk Oblast were hit by artillery fire; Terny, Verkhnokamianske, Spirne, Donetsk Oblast.
Bakhmut Battle Map. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Bakhmut Battle Map. April 28, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Bakhmut axis: the adversary continues to conduct offensive actions. Fighting continues in the city of Bakhmut. In addition, during the day, Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions on the axis of Bohdanivka and Chasovoy Yar. Airstrikes on Bakhmut and Bohdanivka. Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bakhmut, Khromovka, Chasiv Yar, Hryhorivka, Ivanivske, Predtechine, Kostyantynivka, Oleksandro-Shultine, Pivdenne, Nelipivka and New York of the Donetsk Oblast were affected by enemy shelling.
  • Avdiivka axis: Russian forces carried out offensive actions in the areas of the settlements of Avdiivka, Severna and Pervomaiske, without success. Shelled the settlements of Novobakhmutivka, Novokalynove, Avdiivka, Vodyane, Pervomayske, and Nevelske of the Donetsk Oblast.
  • Maryinka axis: during the past day, our defenders repelled enemy attacks in the area of Marinka and Novomykhailivka settlements. At the same time, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Pobieda and Novomykhailivka of the Donetsk Oblast came under enemy fire.
  • Shakhtarske axis: Russian forces did not carry out any offensive operations on the last day. They carried out airstrikes on Vugledar, Prechistivka and Shakhtarske in the Donetsk Oblast.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map.April 28, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Zaporizhzhia Battle Map.April 28, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: Russian forces continue to conduct defensive operations. Meanwhile, they shelled more than 45 settlements near the battle line. Among them are Malynyvka, Zatyshsha, Mala Tokmachka, Kam’ianske, Ivanivka of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast; Respublikanets, Tomarine, Tyaginka, Kherson, Bilozerka and Yantarne of the Kherson Oblast. There are dead and wounded civilians, residential buildings have been damaged.

The Russian occupiers continue to commit looting on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. In particular, in the village of Bokovo-Khrustalne, Luhansk Oblast, servicemen of the Russian occupation forces are looting the homes of local residents.

Russian forces intensified filtering measures in the temporarily captured territory of the Kherson Oblast. In particular, in the settlements of Maloleksandrivka, Novomykolaivka, Skadovsk and Lazurne, mass searches of residential premises and checking of telephones are carried out. The main attention is paid to residents who have SIM cards from Ukrainian operators.

[The adversary continues to use educational institutions of the temporarily occupied territories, having them re-purposed as military facilities, hiding behind a human shield of schoolchildren and the teaching staff.]

[For example, Russian occupation troops are stationed in the building of a local school in the settlement of Lub’yanka (Luhansk oblast). The personnel are stationed in the buildings of educational institutions, as they force the teaching staff to continue the educational process, with the attendance of children and teaching staff being mandatory.]

[The occupiers re-purposed the local hospital in Kalanchak (Kherson oblast) into a military hospital, where a large number of gravely wounded Russians were brought to on April 27. Russian forces used a KAMAZ-based medical truck to transport the casualties.]

During the day, the Ukrainian Air Force carried out 5 strikes on the concentration areas of the occupiers, and units of missile and artillery forces hit 4 control points, an ammunition warehouse and 4 areas of concentration of enemy manpower.

Military Updates

A new wave of Russian missiles was launched against Ukrainian cities on Friday, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “Around 4 o’clock in the morning, the Russian occupiers attacked Ukraine from Tu-95 strategic aircraft from the Caspian Sea area.

Anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in cooperation with air defence systems of other components of the Defence Forces, destroyed 21 out of 23 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles, as well as two UAVs of the operational-tactical level. Targets were destroyed in the areas of responsibility of Air Command “Center”, Air Command “East” and Air Command “South“.”

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

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1651950718813708290

  • In the early hours of 28 April 2023, Russia launched the first major wave of cruise missile strikes against Ukraine since early March 2023. Although Ukraine shot down most of the missiles, at least 25 civilians were killed.
  • The attacks suggest a departure in Russia’s use of long-range strikes. The wave involved fewer missiles than those over the winter and was unlikely to have been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. There is a realistic possibility that Russia was attempting to intercept Ukrainian reserve units and military supplies recently provided to Ukraine.
  • Russia operates an inefficient targeting process and prioritises perceived military necessity over preventing collateral damage, including civilian deaths.
  • Last week, Russian media reported that the annual Russian International Army Games will not take place in 2023. Pitched as the ‘War Olympics’, the games have symbolised Russia’s attempt to re-establish the military at the heart of popular culture. The festival-like event is particularly known for the Tank Biathlon.
  • Russia has likely cancelled the games mainly because it is concerned the event would be seen as frivolous in wartime. Russian nationalist commentators, including former intelligence officer Igor Girkin, fiercely criticised the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) for going ahead with the 2022 iteration.
  • There is also a realistic possibility that due to losses in Ukraine, the Russian MOD is concerned a shortage of tanks, tank crews and other skilled personnel will risk the Russian team’s usual domination of the medals table.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press. ~

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

As of Saturday 29 April, 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 190040 (+580)
  • Tanks – 3697 (+3)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7184 (+3)
  • Artillery systems – 2908 (+3)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 543 (+0))
  • Air defence means – 294 (+0)
  • Aircraft – 308 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 294 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 5836 (+17)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 2471 (+4)
  • Special equipment – 355 (+2)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 932 (+21)

Prigozhin says Wagner Group may soon cease to exist, as it’s running out of Wagnerites, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Prigozhin in a video made by so-called Russian “war correspondents” (milbloggers) and posted on pro-Russian social media. “Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the private military company Wagner, has stated that the Wagnerites are running out, and the company may soon cease to exist. As of today, we are approaching the point where the Wagner private military company is ending. And in a short time, Wagner will cease to exist.

Told that statements like this would be demoralising for Russians, the Wagner leader answered that he would say it again. Prigozhin claimed that the Wagnerites would “go down in history”. He also alluded, not for the first time, to the lack of ammunition.”

Russia is unlikely to restore stockpiles of long-range missiles but will look for other options – Ukraine’s Air Force, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Colonel Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force. “Russia will continue to produce [long-range cruise missiles], but not at the same pace. It is clear that these missiles they had, which they used to attack us in the summer and autumn, were manufactured for many years, and now Russia is unlikely to be able to catch up with that number.

Therefore, they will look for various other methods (to attack – ed.). Guided aerial bombs are one such option that they are using to replace missile weapons. Well, they will use old missile designs.”

Invaders in Crimea redeploy military equipment to defence lines, Ukrinform reports. “In Dzhankoi district, not far from the village of Medvedivka, a large site was formed where the military equipment of the Russian occupation army was concentrated. Everyone noticed that this hardware suddenly disappeared from there somewhere. There has been a redeployment to the defensive lines, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov said on the air of FreeDOM. According to him, the invaders try to reinforce the approaches to Crimea as much as possible.

In Henichesk district, the territory of Kherson region which is directly adjacent to the Crimean peninsula, as well as in the north of Crimea, the Russian occupiers have been erecting fortifications. And some equipment units are placed there. This only shows that the Russian occupation administration is preparing for the advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Mejlis chairman noted.”

Russian invaders instructing top managers to prepare for evacuation in Crimea – Ukrainian resistance, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing National Resistance Center (NRC). “The leadership of the representative offices of Russian state-owned companies on the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula has been tasked with preparing for evacuation. Russian state-owned banks in the peninsula and the Russian proxy “Crimean railway” have received this information.

The NRC believes that this indicates comprehensive preparation measures for occupiers’ evacuation. After all, as the instruction states, not only the top officials but also their families should evacuate.”

Humanitarian 

Russian missile destroys multi-story residential building in Uman on Friday, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “A Russian missile has hit a residential building in Uman, Cherkasy Oblast.”

Death toll in Uman rises to 22 including 3 children, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “As of 18:30, rescue workers have pulled the bodies of three more people out from under the rubble of a residential building in Uman, increasing the number of victims of the Russian attack to 22, including three children. So far there have been 22 fatalities due to the missile strike on the multi-storey residential building.”

Ihor Taburets, Head of Cherkasy Oblast Military Administration, reported that two 10-year-old children were among killed. In addition, 18 people have been injured (11 of them have been hospitalised), and 17 people (including three children) have been rescued.”

Ukraine demands that Russia open humanitarian corridors for residents of occupied territories, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine demands that Russia open humanitarian corridors for the residents of the temporarily occupied territories who wish to leave for Ukraine-controlled territory. Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said this during the national news telethon, commenting on the decree issued in the Russian Federation which allows the deportation of persons without Russian citizenship from the Russian Federation from July 2024.

Thousands of Ukrainians want to return to the territory controlled by Ukraine. They want to escape from the hell that Russia has created for them in the temporarily occupied territories. We demand to open humanitarian corridors and stop cynically deceiving the world, telling [what will happen] after 2024… They [invaders] will not be in the temporarily occupied territories in 2024, Vereshchuk said.

At the same time, she emphasized that Russia does not want to start negotiations regarding the opening of humanitarian corridors.”

There may be energy shortages in summer – Ukrenergo, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, CEO of the national power company Ukrenergo. “Usually there is an excess of capacity during the spring and summer, which allows Ukraine to export electricity, but this year, due to the significant damage caused to its power plants, there may be shortages in the summer. 

The spring-summer 2023 repair campaign will be one of the most difficult ones. This is because of the large-scale destruction that the power system suffered in winter and because several major power plants remain under occupation, Kudrytskyi said. The capacity of these power plants was not sufficient in winter and is not sufficient now, he added. In Ukraine, all available generating capacities will be activated to keep the grid balanced during repairs. 

Kudrytskyi said the shortfall would be compensated for by increasing capacity at the thermal power plants that are available to us. It is also possible that instead of exporting electricity, as is currently done, imports will be boosted to cover consumption.”

European Commission to introduce restrictions on five agricultural products from Ukraine, European Pravda reports, citing RMF FM . The European Commission and Poland have reached an agreement on the import ban of five agricultural products from Ukraine.[…] RMF FM informs the deal will make Ukraine’s neighbours lift a blockade, but it will be replaced by an unprecedented EU ban on imports of wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower and sunflower oil to individual countries. However, the sources of “European Pravda” claim that the negotiations are ongoing and the list of goods may be different in the end.

The agreement includes a commitment by Poland and other countries to refrain from unilaterally blocking food imports from Ukraine. The bans will be replaced by an unprecedented EU ban on importing wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower, and sunflower oil. Transit will be allowed. It is still unclear how long the ban will be in force.

The ban on importing these five products accounts for 90% of all imports from Ukraine. In turn, instead of expanding the list of banned products such as milk, poultry meat or eggs, the European Commission will conduct further investigations. If the European Commission confirms the problem reported by Poland, among others, a safeguard clause will be activated – customs duties.”

Environmental

Landmine explodes near occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant – IAEA, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Press office of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “International Atomic Energy Agency experts present at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) were again forced to shelter this week after missile attack warnings, with the sound of continued shelling in the distance as military activity continues in the region. In addition, one landmine exploded near the site.”

Director General Grossi added that the increased military presence and activity in the region again underlines the importance and urgency of agreeing on the protection of the plant. […]

So-called occupation “management” has told the team that the total number of staff with Rosatom [Russian state nuclear corporation – ed.] contracts is now slightly above 3,000, with another 1,000 in the process of approval. Roughly 1,000 staff with Energoatom contracts still work at the plant, and others who remain in Enerhodar are occasionally called in to work.”

Russia fixing power line from Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to land it controls, IAEA says, Reuters reports. “Russia has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog that equipment spotted at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russia controls, will be used to fix a power transmission line that leads to Russian-held territory, the watchdog said on Friday.

The planned restoration of the downed power line could heighten Ukrainian fears that Russia is preparing to connect Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, to the power grid of territory that it controls.”

Government opens special account for humanitarian demining – Shmyhal, Ukrinform reports, citing Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. “Humanitarian demining remains our priority. Up to 30% of Ukraine’s territory is mined by the enemy. We need to accelerate the clearance of land, especially agricultural land, Shmyhal said.

According to him, the demining action plan is already being implemented. The government is opening a special account at the Ministry of Economy, to which everyone will be able to transfer funds in hryvnia and foreign currency to finance humanitarian demining.

Legal

Putin signs into law decision to deport Ukrainians without Russian passports from Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrinform and a decree on Russian Federation’s official internet-portal of legal information. “Putin’s decree stipulates that citizens of Ukraine or holders of passports issued by Russian-controlled puppet “Republics”, Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, must either become Russian citizens or declare that they do not wish to do so. Those who choose the latter will be considered foreigners from 1 July 2024 and may be deported.

A separate clause of the decree concerns the deportation of those who allegedly pose a threat to Russia’s national security. Residents of the temporarily occupied territories advocating for “forcible change of the foundations of the constitutional order” in Russia (and therefore in the territories it has seized), financing “terrorist and extremist activities”, or participating in “unauthorised” actions will be deported and banned from entering the Russian Federation.

On 17 March 2023, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Affairs, in relation to the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine since February 2022 or earlier.

On 27 April 2023, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recognised the deportation and forcible transfers of Ukrainian children to the territory of the Russian Federation as genocide.”

UN body deplores ‘grave’ rights abuses by Russia in Ukraine, Reuters reports. “A United Nations committee said on Friday it was deeply concerned about human rights violations by Russian forces and private military companies in Ukraine, including enforced disappearances, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. In its findings on Russia, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the Russian authorities to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed during the invasion of Ukraine.

The Committee was deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict by the Russian Federation’s military forces and private military companies …, it said in a statement. […] In its report, the committee listed excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, killings and the forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia among the violations committed. […]

The refusal of the Russian Federation to address these issues did not hinder us from addressing them in our concluding observations, but of course it made our work more difficult, committee member Mehrdad Payandeh told reporters in Geneva.”

US on new missile strike on Ukraine: We will do everything to bring Russia to justice, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Vedant Patel, Deputy Spokesman for the US State Department. “Patel commented on the position of official Washington on Friday regarding the latest Russian missile attack on Ukraine. This is another example in a long line of examples of Russia’s brazen disregard of Ukrainian civilians and Ukrainian life…

The United States is going to continue to do what it can to support our Ukrainian partners, continue to do what we can to hold the Russian Federation accountable as well.”

Support

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1652062884745101314

Czech Republic and Slovakia ready to contribute to Ukraine’s security until it joins NATO, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ihor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the President’s Office. “Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Czech President Petr Pavel and Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová signed a joint declaration outlining the three countries’ common vision with respect to key foreign policy issues and in support of Ukraine’s full membership of the EU and NATO.

The document, among other things, reiterates the demand for the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its armed formations from the territory of Ukraine. It also expresses the states’ readiness for close cooperation aimed at further strengthening Ukraine’s defence capabilities, tightening EU sanctions against the Russian Federation, and creating a legal framework for using frozen Russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Zhovkva noted that Slovakia and the Czech Republic have taken the number of joint declarations of this type at NATO member state leader level into double figures. At the beginning of the week, Estonia and Ukraine agreed on joint actions for security guarantees until Ukraine joins NATO.

During his visit to Kyiv, Czech President Petr Pavel said that Ukraine and the Czech Republic have prepared six projects on the joint production of weapons and ammunition, training aircraft and tank repair, with all manufacturing possibly taking place on Ukrainian territory.”

Second Patriot already in service, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of the Air Force, and Yuriy Ihnat, Air Force spokesman. “Yuriy Ihnat, Air Force spokesman, confirmed to Ukrainska Pravda that the second division of the Patriot air defence system, provided by international partners, is already performing combat work in one of the areas determined by the military leadership.

On 23 April, Yuriy Ihnat stated that one division of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system has already been deployed to Ukraine, while the rest are on their way. The Patriot air defence division consists of a command post, a radar, and launchers (there can be up to eight launchers), each of which has four launch containers with missiles of different types (anti-ballistic and anti-aerodynamic targets (aircraft and helicopters)).”

Ukraine to receive Pakistan-made Anza Mark-II MANPADS – media, Ukrinform reports, citing mil.in.ua with reference to The Economic Times. “Pakistan is preparing to provide Ukraine with Anza Mark-II man-portable air-defence systems of its own production. According to the report, Pakistan’s air defence equipment will be delivered through Poland. […] Poland’s PHU Lechmar LLC will act as an intermediary buyer, while Canada-based Tradent Global Solutions will act as an intermediary consultant. […]

For reference: the Anza is a series of shoulder-fired, man-portable surface-to-air missiles produced by Pakistan. The Anza is used for short-range air defence. The Anza MK-1, Anza MK-2, and Anza MK-3 missile have a fire range of 4, 5, and 6 km, respectively.”

Denmark’s Caesar self-propelled howitzers arrive in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “Oleksii Reznikov, Defence Minister of Ukraine, has announced the arrival of French-made Caesar self-propelled artillery systems provided by Denmark in Ukraine. […] Denmark had intended to use these systems for its army, but wisely and nobly decided to transfer them to the Ukrainian Army due to the significant threat that Russian aggression against Ukraine poses to Europe as a whole, Reznikov wrote.”

Germany planning to produce 250,000 artillery shells for Ukraine – media, Ukrinform reports, citing Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Germany is planning to produce 250,000 155mm artillery shells for the Ukrainian army, which is a quarter of the total amount of ammunition the European Union intends to provide to Ukraine. […]

It is noted that the Dusseldorf-based arms manufacturer Rheinmetall will be involved in the production of ammunition. An anonymous representative of Rheinmetall told the publication that the company could currently produce 450,000 artillery shells per year, 350,000 of them at factories in Europe. According to him, in the future, Rheinmetall intends to increase the production of artillery ammunition to about 600,000 shells per year.”

Ukraine accumulating ammunition, Ukrinform reports. “Defence Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov notes that Ukraine is gradually accumulating ammunition, and the EU program for a million shells is designed for a longer term.

We are accumulating ammunition. Some of it is under contracts signed with foreign partners, some is under contracts with our local producers. The ongoing discussion in the EU concerns the issue of uninterrupted supply of spare parts (with the possibility of their renewal and maintenance) and ammunition to the Armed Forces until the end of the war. In other words, it is about launching the production of ammunition in European countries for European money to supply Ukraine. Therefore, the figure of one million 155mm shells is for the long term. It does not mean that it will be there tomorrow, Reznikov explained.”

Ukrainian Troops Began Training on Leopard 1, 80 Tanks to Be Delivered from Midsummer – German Minister, European Pravda reports. “Ukrainian tank crews have started training on the older model of the Leopard tank, Leopard 1, and 80 of these tanks will be gradually sent to Ukraine in the summer of 2023.”

On lethal aid to Ukraine, South Korean leader says Seoul considering its options, Reuters reports. “South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Friday it was necessary to ensure Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not succeed and that Seoul was considering its options when it came to lethal aid to Kyiv. […]

Yoon told Reuters in an interview last week before leaving for the United States that Seoul might extend its support for Ukraine beyond humanitarian and economic aid if it comes under a large-scale civilian attack, signaling a shift in his stance against arming Ukraine for the first time.”

First six Ukraine-bound Spanish Leopard 2 tanks arrive in Poland, Ukrinform reports, citing  THE OBJECTIVE. “The first six out of ten Spanish main battle tanks Leopard 2, vowed by the country’s government to Ukraine, have arrived on the territory of Poland.

Defence Minister Margarita Robles confirmed that six Leopard 2A4 tanks, handed over by Spain, are already in Poland and being shipped to Ukraine,” the statement reads. It is noted that it will take about two months to prepare for the transfer of four other Leopard 2 tanks.”

GOP reps push Pentagon to send cluster bombs to Ukraine, The Hill reports. “Two GOP congressmen pushed the Pentagon on Wednesday to send controversial cluster bombs to Ukraine, weeks after Kyiv reportedly requested the munitions. The artillery shells are banned by most countries as inhumane, as the shells fragment into smaller munitions in the air causing drastically more damage than a traditional munition. […]

The administration (is) not giving Ukraine the weapons it needs to win. Chief among them is cluster munitions, Rogers said. The US military has over 3 million cluster munitions that can be fired by 155mm Howitzers in Ukraine’s possession. We are going to spend millions of dollars destroying them if we don’t use them and Russia is using them right now against the Ukrainians. […]

Cluster munitions were banned by international treaty in 2010, but the US did not sign on. Concerns over the munitions stem from their increased risk for civilian casualties and higher odds of “duds” leaving live munitions in the ground after a conflict ends.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Urges Partners to Speed Up Training of Pilots on F-16, European Pravda reports. “The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, is asking Ukraine’s friends to expedite the decision to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. On April 28, at the invitation of Minister Kuleba, the Foreign Ministers of Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the Deputy Secretary of State of Finland are visiting Odesa together.

The minister reminded his colleagues of the briefing by Vice Admiral Neizhpapa, Commander of the Ukrainian Navy, where he spoke about the importance of F-16 and Western aircraft in general to ensure the safety of the airspace over the Black Sea.

I turned to my colleagues as friends of Ukraine, as countries that operate modern Western combat aircraft, including F-16s. I appealed to them to make every effort to expedite the decision to start training Ukrainian pilots, primarily on F-16s, which will eventually lead to a decision to provide such aircraft to Ukraine, he said at a press conference in Odesa. We must take Russia out of the sky, the minister stressed.

According to him, Ukraine needs not only air defence systems which its friends have already shared with it but also combat aircraft. We need combat aircraft to cover our combat brigades, which will go on the counteroffensive. We need combat aircraft to protect the Black Sea and our coastal territories, Kuleba said.”

Denmark gives EUR1B for Ukraine recovery, Ukrinform reports. “The Danish government has launched a new support program for Ukraine for 2023. This was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, during a briefing in Odesa. The program’s main goal is the reconstruction of Ukraine. A special place in the project will be dedicated to Mykolaiv’s recovery, said Rasmussen.”

US approves another US$1.25 billion grant to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ministry of Finance of Ukraine. “Ukraine’s State Budget received a US$1.25 billion grant from the United States of America on Friday, 28 April. The funding was provided through the World Bank’s Trust Fund as part of the fourth additional round of financing for the Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance (PEACE) in Ukraine. The funds will be used to cover pension payments, payments to internally displaced persons, healthcare workers’ wages, and State Emergency Service workers’ wages.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine has received around US$16.7 billion in grants from the United States. The partnership with the United States and the World Bank team during the war allows the Government of Ukraine to finance priority social expenditures in full. At the same time, the assistance in the form of grants does not increase the debt burden and contributes to the stabilisation of the financial system, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhii Marchenko said.”

New Developments

  1. President Zelensky: We can stop terror and save people only with a sufficient number of weapons, UkrinformUkraine needs modern aircraft, without which there is no fully effective air defence. Russian terror can be stopped, and people can be saved only with a sufficient number of high-quality weapons.”
  2. DOD Digs In: F-16s Not a Priority for Ukraine, Despite Russian Airpower, Air & Space Forces MagazineThe Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders for Europe reiterated to Congress that providing modern Western fighter jets like the F-16 to Ukraineis not an immediate priority for the Department of Defense—even as they warned that Russia’s air force remains a serious threat to the region. Testifying to the House Armed Services Committee on April 26, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, head of US European Command, and Dr. Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, held firm on DOD’s stance that the US needs to prioritize Ukraine’s most urgent needs in its fight against Russia, and those needs don’t include advanced airpower. “
  3. Kremlin plays down idea that Russia is preparing a nuclear weapons test, ReutersThe Kremlin on Friday played down the idea that Russia might be preparing to carry out a nuclear weapons test, saying all nuclear states were abiding by a moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons. It was responding to an interview given by Lynne Tracy, the US ambassador to Moscow, who told the Kommersant newspaper that Russia was the only country talking about the possible resumption of nuclear testing. President Vladimir Putin said in February, without citing evidence, that some in Washington were considering breaking a moratorium on nuclear testing and that Russia should be ready to act in kind.”
  4. No one is raising topic of Ukraine-Russia negotiations, UkrinformTo date, no one has raised the topic of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia at the level of defence ministers during international meetings. Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said this at a press conference in Kyiv, answering a question from Ukrinform about whether there have been any attempts to raise the topic of peace talks with the leadership of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry at the international level. The topic of peace talks has never been raised with me, and I am consciously saying this. They know my clear position, and no one is even trying, even if they would like to. They clearly understand that we do not plan to sit down at the negotiating table today, because our President has very clearly said that no one will sit down at the negotiating table with the person who is currently heading the Kremlin – this is number 1. Number 2 – in the future, we will sit down at the negotiating table and discuss reparations, contributions from Russia in the interests of Ukraine for all the trouble they have brought us, and how to implement the verdict of the International Tribunal, which will be created by the entire civilized world, where the military criminals from the Kremlin, from this gang, will be punished and the verdict will be announced, Reznikovsaid.”
  5. Lukashenko tells Belarusians that no one will attack Belarus, including Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaAlexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed president of the Republic of Belarus, said during a meeting with residents of the Homieĺ Oblast, located near the Ukrainian border, that no one will attack Belarus, including Ukraine.”
  6. Russian propaganda: Military corps being formed in Poland to join war efforts in Ukraine, UkrinformThe Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade was established back in 2014 but is not involved in the war raging in Ukraine. Russianand Belarusian media outlets and Telegram Z-channels are spreading a message about the special ‘Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Corps’ (LITPOLUKRCORPS), which is allegedly being formed in Poland to join the war efforts in Ukraine. […] This is another Russian fake. The information spread by the Kremlin mass media is false. […] Russian propagandists refer to the publication Niezalezny Dziennik Polityczny. According to the data from Poland’s OKO.press fact-checking experts, this publication spreads pro-Russian fake news, and its editor-in-chief simply does not exist.”
  7. Denmark’s Armed Forces confirm Russian ship was seen near the site of Nord Stream explosion, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Information. “The Danish Armed Forces have confirmed that a Danish patrol boat captured 26 photos of the Russian vessel in the area east of Bornholm Island on 22 September 2022. The Russian ship is designed for underwater operations and has an AS-26 Priz mini-submarine on board. Earlier, it was reported that the Danish Ministry of Defence had obtained 112 images of Russian vessels in the area. This is the first time the ministry has confirmed that the ship was an SS-750 with a mini-submarine on board.”
  8. Zelenskyy criticised ban of certain European countries on grain imports from Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaWe separately discussed with the President of the European Council the situation around the destructive, in my opinion, ban on the import of our agricultural products by certain states. I emphasize that this not only violates the existing Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union but also gives dangerous hope to the Kremlin. The hope that in our common European home, someone’s wrong decisions can prevail over common interests. Now, when Russia violates the freedom of trade, tries to block the supply of agricultural products to the world market, it is definitely not the time for anyone to follow the evil state and do something similar.”

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-28-2023*

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  April 28, 2022:

Russian forces continued ground attacks near Kreminna and have made an incremental advance northwest of Kreminna as of April 28. Geolocated footage posted on April 28 shows that Russian forces have advanced in an area about 10km northwest of Kreminna. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Dibrova (5km southwest of Kreminna), the Serebrianske forest area (10km south of Kreminna), and Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian troops unsuccessfully attacked towards Torske and Terny, both about 13km west of Kreminna.

Russian forces are increasing pressure against the T0504 Kostyantynivka-Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highway. Geolocated footage posted on April 27 shows that Russian forces advanced to the Bakhmut Industrial College on the T0504 in southwestern Bakhmut. Other geolocated footage shows Ukrainian forces conducting a controlled withdrawal from one building along the T0504, suggesting that Russian forces also advanced in that area. The Ukrainian General Staff reported for the first time on April 27 that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian ground attack in the direction of Chasiv Yar (9km west of Bakhmut).

Russian forces continued ground attacks in and around Bakhmut on April 27. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued attacks within Bakhmut and that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks in the direction of Bohdanivka (5km northwest of Bakhmut). Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner Group forces broke though Ukrainian defensive lines in central Bakhmut and continued attacking Ukrainian positions in northern, southern, and western Bakhmut. The milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces attacked near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut) and Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut). One milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted counter-attacks near Khromove (immediately west of Bakhmut) and Bohdanivka.

Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on April 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks near Avdiivka, Sieverne (5km west of Avdiivka), Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka), Krasnohorivka (22km southwest of Avdiivka), Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka), and Novomykhailivka (10km southwest of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced near Krasnohorivka on April 27. Another milblogger claimed on April 28 that Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions on the southwestern approach to Avdiivka.

Ukrainian forces have advanced in western Donetsk Oblast as of April 28. Geolocated footage posted on April 28 shows that Ukrainian forces advanced southwest of Pavlivka (3km southwest of Vuhledar). […] Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed or claimed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on April 28.

Russian forces have likely allocated TOS-1A thermobaric artillery systems, military-district level assets, to the Avdiivka and western Donetsk Oblast axes, indicating potential preparations to intensify offensive operations. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) posted footage on April 28 purportedly of Russian 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) forces firing a TOS-1A system in the Avdiivka direction, and the Russian MoD stated that Russian forces are operating thermobaric artillery systems in western Donetsk Oblast. The utilization of TOS-1A systems in the Avdiivka and western Donetsk Oblast axes is unlikely to generate a decisive battlefield advantage for Russian forces, as ISW has previously assessed. […]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed the appointment of Vice Admiral Vladimir Vorobyov as the new commander of the Baltic Fleet on April 28 following the transfer of former Baltic Fleet Commander Admiral Viktor Liina to the Pacific Fleet. Russian state media reported that the Russian MoD introduced Vorobyov as the new Baltic Fleet commander thereby confirming that Liina replaced Admiral Sergei Avakyants as Pacific Fleet command. ISW had previously reported that Liina may have been replacing Avakyants because of Pacific Fleet failures exposed during recent combat readiness exercises, and Russian officials claimed that Avakyants was moved to a new position as head of Russian military sports training and patriotic education centers after aging out of military service. Vorobyov has previously served as Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of both the Baltic and Northern Fleets. […]

Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu promoted the Kremlin’s efforts to form a potential anti-Western coalition during a meeting of the defense ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states in New Delhi, India. Shoigu stated on April 28 that the SCO meeting occurred against the backdrop of the establishment of a new multipolar world order, which the collective West is actively opposing. Shoigu argued that the US and its allies are provoking conflicts with Russia and China and that the West is attempting to defeat Russia and threaten China through the war in Ukraine. Shoigu invited SCO member states to participate in the 11th Moscow Conference of International Security and called on the SCO to develop a framework for exchanging military information, cooperation in joint military exercises, and the development of partnerships between the SCO and Russian-favored multilateral organizations such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The Kremlin has previously identified multilateral organizations without significant Western participation as its preferred bodies for international decision making and will likely continue to use such bodies to promote Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envisioned geopolitical conflict with the West. ISW assessed that Putin tried to use Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow from March 20 to 22 to promote the idea of an anti-Western Russian-Chinese-based geopolitical bloc, but that Xi rebuffed Putin’s rhetorical overtures. The Kremlin is likely aware that the attractiveness of such a bloc lies more with China’s economic and political power than with Russia’s increasingly isolated economy and degraded military capacity, which is why it likely chose the Chinese-favored SCO to promote the idea of a potential anti-Western coalition. The Kremlin is also likely attempting to secure through multilateral engagement with China desired benefits of a Chinese-Russian bilateral relationship that Putin was unable to obtain in his meeting with Xi. The Kremlin’s attempts to use the SCO to support these efforts are unlikely to be more successful than its previous efforts to rally the rest of the world against the West and convince China that Russia is a reliable and equal security partner.

Head of the Kremlin-controlled Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill of Moscow defrocked a Russian Orthodox Church protodeacon who did not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian Orthodox Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev posted an order dated April 28 defrocking him for “anti-church activities” signed by Patriarch Kirill. The Russian Orthodox Church had previously defrocked Kuraev in December 2020, but Patriarch Kirill imposed a moratorium on the execution of this decision to give Kuraev time to “rethink his position.” Kuraev reportedly does not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for the invasion. Russian authorities fined Kuraev 30,000 rubles for discrediting the Russian military in August 2022 after Kuraev wrote a blog post about the current war in Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty additionally reported that Kuraev has criticized the Russian Orthodox Church’s structures and Patriarch Kirill, accusing the Russian Orthodox Church of being distant from its parishioners, bureaucratic, and inert. Kuraev’s defrocking supports ISW’s assessment that the Russian Orthodox Church is not an independent religious organization but rather an extension of the Russian state and an instrument of Russian state power. Russian forces in Ukraine have reportedly gone out of their way to punish individual Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine who were not fully cooperative with Russian military forces.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces launched a series of missile strikes against rear areas of Ukraine on the night of April 27.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed the appointment of Vice Admiral Vladimir Vorobyov as the new commander of the Baltic Fleet following the transfer of former Baltic Fleet commander Admiral Viktor Liina to the Pacific Fleet.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree codifying conditions for the further large-scale deportation of residents of occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
  • Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu promoted the Kremlin’s efforts to form a potential anti-Western coalition during a meeting of the defense ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states in New Delhi, India.
  • Head of the Kremlin-controlled Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill of Moscow defrocked a Russian Orthodox Church protodeacon who did not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks near Kreminna and have made an incremental advance northwest of Kreminna as of April 28.
  • Russian forces are increasing pressure against the T0504 Kostyantynivka-Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highway.
  • Russian forces continued routine indirect fire and defensive operations in southern Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin tasked Russian officials with developing Russia’s domestic drone industry likely as part of the Kremlin’s effort to gradually mobilize Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB).

Russian occupation authorities continue to announce patronage programs with Russian federal subjects.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1652039875342811137

Preparations for counteroffensive are in their final stage – Ukraine’s Defence Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s Defence Minister. “The preparations are coming to an end, as in addition to weapons and military equipment, there must be training for our military personnel in how to use them. We have received state-of-the-art systems…

Let me remind you that in addition to the tank coalition (which primarily includes Leopard 2 tanks and Challengers, with Leopard 1s coming later), we are also waiting for Abrams. However, I don’t think the Abrams will be used in this counteroffensive. But our crews have left for training [on them].

We also have many armoured vehicles of various types, particularly armoured personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. We have Bradleys, Marders, Strykers and CV 90s from Sweden. We are finishing up some more training courses there.

The equipment itself has been announced, prepared and partially delivered. And then there is the equipment on which the training programmes are being completed, and then the crews will stay with it when the time and place are determined. But let’s say that in a general sense, we are more than ready. Reznikov noted that the date and location of the Ukrainian counteroffensive would be determined by the General Staff.”

Counter offensive should not be considered a decisive battle – Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine. “Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister, urges people not to view the Ukrainian counteroffensive as a decisive battle: the final battle is the one that will lead to the complete liberation of Ukrainian territories.

The counter offensive should not be considered a decisive battle. The decisive battle is the one that will lead to the complete liberation of Ukrainian territories. This conclusion can be drawn at the end, not at the beginning of the battle. If one counteroffensive will be needed, there will be one, if we will need two or more – it will be so. This is not a conflict that can be frozen.

He noted that people who see the counteroffensive as a decisive battle distort the picture of Ukrainian efforts. The Foreign Minister stressed that Ukraine will fight to victory.”

DOD Digs In: F-16s Not a Priority for Ukraine, Despite Russian Airpower, Air & Space Forces Magazine reports. “The Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders for Europe reiterated to Congress that providing modern Western fighter jets like the F-16 to Ukraine is not an immediate priority for the Department of Defense—even as they warned that Russia’s air force remains a serious threat to the region. Testifying to the House Armed Services Committee on April 26, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, head of US European Command, and Dr. Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, held firm on DOD’s stance that the US needs to prioritize Ukraine’s most urgent needs in its fight against Russia, and those needs don’t include advanced airpower

Our focus has been on … Ukrainian priorities for the fight, and aircraft, while on the list, Western modern aircraft is about eighth on the list, Wallander said. And so we have focused with resources on the highest priority capabilities, and that has been air defense, artillery, and armor. Wallander also argued that the time it would take to deliver Western fourth-generation fighters and train the Ukrainians on them would be too long for their current fight, an argument other Pentagon officials have also made. 

Instead, Wallender and Cavoli touted the recent transfer of Soviet-era fighters from Slovakia and Poland to Ukraine, saying those jets could be quickly integrated into operations. Legacy Soviet aircraft have been helpful to the Ukrainians because their pilots are trained on those aircraft, they know how to use them, they know how to maintain them, Wallander said. 

Cavoli also seemed to indicate Ukraine doesn’t need F-16s to deny Russia air superiority.  In the near term and into the mid-term, what Ukraine really needs to do is control the airspace over its country and over its forces, Cavoli said. And they’ve been doing that very effectively with ground-based air defense. So that’s the thing that’s most imperative right now, and it’s been very well served by ground-based air defense. 

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.), an Air Force veteran, pushed back, noting that the conflict in Ukraine has lasted far longer than expected and shows no sign of letting up—while the question of F-16s has been debated for months now. The Congress has at least been asking that question officially since last April. So it’s been more than a year, Houlahan said. And I understand that these timelines are long, and it’s very expensive and prioritization, but we have no indication necessarily that this is going to abate anytime soon. […]

Wallander cautioned against dismissing the Russian Air Force. When Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) argued the damage done to Russia’s forces in Ukraine has been such that other NATO allies would be able to handle any Russian aggression, Wallander disagreed. […] Its Air Force can’t establish air superiority in Ukraine, Waltz replied. I can’t imagine it establishing air superiority in Poland.

We should not make the mistake of underestimating Russia’s military capabilities, because the stakes of getting it wrong are too high, Wallender said. 

Cavoli echoed that point late in the hearing, as he described how Russia has been able to wield power in Europe through energy supplies, cyberattacks, and even conventional forces. The Russian ground force has been degenerated somewhat by this conflict—although it is bigger today than it was at the beginning of the conflict, Cavoli noted. The air force has lost very little. They’ve lost 80 planes. They have another 1,000 fighters and fighter bombers. The Navy has lost one ship. So they still use all of that conventional power as well, and they mix them all together.” 

Zelensky asks Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhnyi to send military commanders from rear to contact line, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrinform and Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defence of Ukraine. “The President of Ukraine [Volodymyr Zelenskyy – ed.] gave Valerii Zaluzhnyi [Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – ed.] a simple but serious recommendation to send the majority of military commanders, who currently have office jobs in staffing centres, to the contact line as soldiers. They can be replaced with injured soldiers who are also competent in conducting mobilisation activities.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Hans Petter Midttun: Ukraine “doesn’t need F-16s now,” President Joe Biden told ABC News in an interview broadcast Feb. 24. “There is no basis upon which there is a rationale, according to our military, now, to provide F-16s”, Air & Space Forces Magazine reported on February 28.

The US debate on F-16 support to Ukraine is political, not militarily based.

The Biden administration has decided that it does not want to provide Ukraine with F-16 multirole combat planes. Period. Instead of saying that it is a political decision, it tries to build a case for why it is military unwise to supply the planes.

Arguing that Western combat aircraft is not among the top three priorities is plain embarrassing knowing that everything on the list is “life or death” requirements. When Ukraine is fighting for its survival, it’s ridiculous to argue that weapons cannot be supplied because it’s number eight of many essential systems needed to overcome an existential threat.

Arguing that “the time it would take to deliver Western fourth-generation fighters and train the Ukrainians on them would be too long for their current fight” is extremely disconcerting knowing that the “timing” argument has lasted eight months longer than it takes to qualify Ukrainian pilots for F-16. An American assessment of Ukrainian fighter pilots has revealed they would be ready to fly F-16 jets after less than six months of training.

It turns even more embarrassing when Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top US and NATO commander in Europe seems to be giving political rather than military advice. According to Politico, he argued behind closed doors at the Munich Security Conference in February in favour of sending advanced weapons, including F-16s and long-range missiles to help bolster Ukraine’s defences. While he most likely hasn’t changed his mind, he limited his response in front of Congress to the top 3 list of priorities and, consequently, ground-based air defence only. He failed to explicitly state that Ukraine needs quality (F-16) to combat Russian quality (Air Force).

Crucially, he gave the advice knowing that Ukraine – according to the Pentagon leaks – are running short on ground-based air defence.

Without a huge influx of munitions, Ukraine’s entire air defence network, weakened by repeated barrages from Russian drones and missiles, could fracture, according to US officials and newly leaked Pentagon documents, potentially allowing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to unleash his lethal fighter jets in ways that could change the course of the war.”

General Cavoli also failed to point out that the US would never endeavour to do what Ukraine might be about to do – execute a major military operation – without air power and with limited ground-based air defence cover. On the contrary, he argues that Ukraine has all the equipment, weapons and ammunition it needs to launch the counter-offensive.

Whenever the offensive does start, the commander of US military forces in Europe is very confident Ukraine’s forces will not be held back by a lack of weapons systems or supplies. We have been shipping it into the country, US European Command’s General Christopher Cavoli told US lawmakers on Wednesday.”

“According to the modelling that we’ve very carefully done with them, the Ukrainians are in a good position, the general said. They have some weaknesses that I prefer not to talk about in public … but we are confident.”

Weaknesses like lack of F-16 and limited ground-based air defence?

Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, USAF (Ret.) argued that “Airpower is the Key to Victory in Ukraine”.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict must not continue in a framework of extended debates about escalation, retaliation, or illogical justification for Western-made artillery systems. The Russians must stop now and go home. Only the fighter pilot Spirit of Attack and the overwhelming, persuasive, lethality of integrated air and space power from above will quickly send them there.”

In my next article “Why is the West reluctant to set up Ukraine for victory?”, I argue that to start having a grown-up discussion about what is needed for Ukraine to win, the West needs to provide military – not political – advice on how to conduct a military intervention in Ukraine according to NATO’s past commitments and the UN Charter. This will provide a better basis for discussing Ukraine’s military requirements.

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