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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 524. Investigation exposes Russian schemes to evade sanctions

Verstka media exposed sanctions evasion schemes enabling Russia to import microchips and other banned goods. Belarus deepens ties with Iran and Wagner.
Russo-ukrainian war

Day 524 – August 1

Situation

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 01.08.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

“The Russian Federation continues to ignore the laws and customs of war, using terror tactics, striking and shelling both military and civilian targets.

On July 31, the enemy launched 9 missiles and 57 airstrikes, 61 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, the Russian terrorist attacks have killed and wounded civilians, including children. Residential buildings were destroyed.

The likelihood of further missile and airstrikes across Ukraine remains very high.

On July 31, there were more than 40 combat engagements.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes. [There are no signs of the formation of the offensive grouping.]
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary launched an airstrike in the vicinities of Stepne (Sumy oblast) and Udy (Kharkiv oblast). The adversary fired mortars and artillery at more than 30 settlements, including Sen’kivka, Tur’ya, Bleshnya, Buchky (Chernihiv oblast), Mefodiivka, Sytne, Starykove, Mohrytsya, Stepok, Ryasne (Sumy oblast), Udy, Veterynarne, Starytsya, Vovchans’k, Nesterne, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: the Ukrainian troops are standing their ground, and have successfully repelled enemy attacks east of Berestove (Kharkiv oblast) and near Novoselivs’ke (Luhansk oblast). The enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Druzhelyubivka (Kharkiv oblast). The invaders fired artillery and mortars at more than 10 settlements, including Odradne, Kolodyazne, Kam’yanka, Fyholivka, Novomlyns’k, and Zapadne (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Lyman axis: the enemy launched airstrikes north of Serebryanka and near Spirne (Donetsk oblast). The settlements of Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Tors’ke, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, and Spirne (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
  • Bakhmut axis: more than 10 settlements suffered from enemy artillery attacks, including Rozdolivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Ivanivske, Predtechyne, and Bila Hora (Donetsk oblast).
  • Avdiivka axis: the adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of New York and Avdiivka. The invaders continue shelling settlements, including Berdychi, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, and Karlivka (Donetsk oblast).
  • Marinka axis: the enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Krasnohorivka. The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold back the Russian forces’ advance in the vicinities of Marinka and Pobjeda. The adversary fired artillery at more settlements, including Marinka, Pobjeda, Heorhiivka, and Hostre (Donetsk oblast).
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Vuhledar, Blahodatne, and Staromaiors’ke. Near the latter, the invaders made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost position. The enemy continues shelling the settlements of Vodyane, Vuhledar, and Blahodatne (Donetsk oblast).
  • Zaporizhzhia axes: the adversary focuses its main efforts on preventing the further advance of Ukrainian troops. The occupiers launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Malynivka and Mala Tokmachka (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The enemy fired artillery at more than 15 settlements, including Levadne, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Orikhiv, Stepove, and Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
  • Kherson axes: the adversary continues to maintain its military presence. the enemy fired artillery at more than 25 settlements, including Dmytrivka, Ochakiv (Mykolaiv oblast), Mykhailivka, Dudchany, Beryslav, L’vove, Kherson, and Dniprovs’ke (Kherson oblast).

At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, consolidating their positions, and firing for effect at the enemy.

[Russian occupiers continue to use civilian infrastructure in temporarily occupied settlements. Thus, the enemy placed about 100 Russian troops in the premises of the miners’ prevention centre in Nizhnyi Nagol’chyk, Luhansk Oblast, and more than 100 occupiers were placed in the buildings of an educational institution in the village of Semikozivka, Luhansk Oblast.]

On July 31, Ukrainian Air Force launched 7 airstrikes on the concentrations of enemy troops and 3 airstrikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the adversary.

On July 31, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 5 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1 TOS-1A “Solntsepyok” thermobaric artillery system, 5 artillery pieces at their firing positions, 2 electronic warfare stations, 1 ammunition depot, and 5 concentrations of troops of the enemy.“

Two more enemy ammunition depots were destroyed in the Bakhmut direction, Ukrinform reports. “Every day, we assault and pass a certain distance, it is verified within a week, it is announced by the deputy minister. As we have already said, we liberate hundreds of meters a day, kilometres a week, and the time will come when there will be tens of kilometres, Serhiy Cherevaty, the spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said […].

The main task, which is performed along with the liberation of territories, is the preservation of personnel, Cherevaty emphasized. We cannot afford to act adventurously and rush into frontal attacks, but we make maximum use of the manoeuvre of encircling the enemy, comprehensively destroying them with all types of means of destruction available to us, the spokesman emphasized.

He added that 37 occupiers had been killed and 107 wounded in the Bakhmut direction over the past day. In addition, according to Cherevaty, the enemy’s Osa anti-aircraft missile system, D-30 howitzer, two ammunition depots, a command and observation post of a company, two control posts for unmanned aerial vehicles, Orlan-10 and Lancet drones were destroyed.”

Russians have no advance, only losses in Lyman – Kupiansk direction, Ukrinform reports. “The Russians have no positive results in Lyman – Kupiansk direction. They have only negative results, Serhiy Cherevaty, the spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said during the United News national telethon. As a result of nine combat engagements, 31 occupiers remained in Ukrainian land forever and 87 more were injured.

In addition, the spokesman noted that three enemy T-72 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, a 240mm Tyulpan self-propelled mortar, a field ammunition depot, three vehicles, and a UAV which spotted the enemy fire were destroyed during the day.

According to him, in the indicated direction, “having a fairly large group and a sufficient number of equipment units, they [Russian command] use rather low-quality personnel. Along with relatively professional airborne units and infantry, more or less coordinated brigades, the Russian Federation uses a combat army reserve which was created in a hurry and includes territorial troops of various types – what are called volunteers in the Russian Federation. In fact, these are mercenaries, or people forced into so-called Z companies or private military companies, Cherevaty explained.

As reported, the enemy is unsuccessfully trying to seize the initiative and conduct offensive operations in Lyman–Kupiansk direction.”

Ukraine retakes 15 sq km in south, east in past week, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian forces have recaptured nearly 15 square km (5.8 square miles) of land from Russian troops in the east and south over the past week during their counteroffensive, a senior defence official said on Monday. Kyiv’s forces have now retaken 204.7 sq km in the south since they launched a major push against Russian forces early last month, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainian officials have reported slow, steady progress in the counteroffensive, retaking a string of villages and advancing on the flanks of the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces captured in May after months of battles. Last week Kyiv said its forces had liberated the village of Staromaiorske in the southeast in a campaign that aims to cut Russia’s land bridge from the east to the south and the occupied peninsula of Crimea on the Black Sea. […]

Maliar said Kyiv’s troops had retaken 2 sq km in the past week on the Bakhmut front, bringing the total territory recaptured there to 37 sq km since the counteroffensive began. In the south, where Ukrainian forces are trying to advance towards the cities of Berdiansk and Melitopol, she said that Kyiv’s troops had recaptured 12.6 sq km in the last week.

Russian troops tried to attack on two northern fronts near Kupiansk and Lyman, but failed to break through, she said. Our defence forces are powerfully holding back enemy troops, she said.”

Russia says thwarts Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea navy ships – TASS, Reuters reports. “Three Ukrainian sea drones attacked two Russian Black Sea navy ships 340 km (211 miles) southwest of Sevastopol and were destroyed, TASS cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Tuesday. The ministry said the patrol ships were in the area to control navigation.

Russia has said it would treat any ships leaving or entering Ukrainian ports as valid targets after the expiration of the Black Sea grain deal last month which allowed for exports of Ukrainian grains.”

Drones target Moscow, high-rise building hit, Reuters reports. “The Russian military said its anti-aircraft units had thwarted a Ukrainian “terrorist attack” early on Tuesday and downed drones targeting Moscow, but one drone, sent out of control by its units, struck the same high-rise tower hit earlier in the week. Video obtained by Reuters showed several square meters of the building’s glass facade high above the ground destroyed by the impact.

On the night of August 1st, an attempted terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime with lethal drones on targets in Moscow and Moscow region was thwarted, the Defence Ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app. Two drones, the Ministry said, had been downed in suburbs west of the city centre. Yet another (drone) was hit by radio-electronic equipment and, having run out of control, crashed on the territory of the complex of non-residential buildings at Moskva Citi, the ministry said, referring to a business centre in the capital.

Vnukovo airport, one of three major airports serving the capital briefly shut down, but later resumed full operations. […] Moskva Citi was hit by a drone attack last Sunday — one of several such incidents which have caused limited damage but generated widespread unease.”

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that on Tuesday night, August 1, unknown UAVs again attacked the capital of the Russian Federation. New Voice reports. “According to him , one of the drones hit a skyscraper that was attacked two days ago. […] In particular, the building of the IQ quarter in Moscow City, where the offices of several Russian ministries are located, was subjected to destruction.”

Strike on Chonhar bridge undermines enemy’s logistical capabilities, – OC “South”, Censor.net reports, citing the head of the joint press center of the Southern Operational Command Natalia Humeniuk, “Fakty” reports. “Due to the disruption of logistics after the attack on the Chonhar Bridge, the enemy is forced to transfer reserves to the front line in order to restrain the AFU. The strike by the Ukrainian military on the Chonhar bridge is an element of countermeasures, that is, the destruction of the enemy’s power on the logistical front. The Armed Forces of Ukraine need to eliminate the Russian Federation’s ability to raise reserves, replenish ammunition, weapons, and military equipment, she said.”

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

  • In southern Ukraine, intense fighting continues to be focused in two sectors. South of Orikhiv, the focus of Ukrainian assaults has been against Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army (58 CAA). 58 CAA is highly likely struggling with battle fatigue and attrition in forward deployed regiments which have been in intense combat for over eight weeks.
  • Further east, south of Velyka Novosilka, the defending Russian force is drawn from both the Eastern and Southern military districts, likely creating problems of co-ordination. Elements of the 5th Combined Army are likely to be under particular pressure, and probably also feel that they are long overdue for a rotation out of the front-line.
  • Across the south, common problems for Russian commanders are highly likely to include shortage of artillery ammunition, a lack of reserves and problems securing the flanks of units in the defence.
  • The Russian authorities are prioritizing amending legislation to allow more men to be rapidly drafted into the military. In mid-July 2023, the State Duma increased the maximum age of liability for conscription from 27 to 30, while retaining the current lower limit at 18. While conscripts are not currently deployed in Ukraine, extra draftees free-up professional and mobilised soldiers from other duties inside Russia.
  • On 24 July 2023, President Putin signed a bill which will gradually increase the upper age limit for those liable for call up as reservists: senior officers can now be mobilised up to 70. Reservists made up the Autumn 2022 ‘partial mobilisation’ and could provide a more immediate boost to the number available to fight in Ukraine.
  • The increased chance of being compelled to fight, drone attacks on Moscow, exceptional level of domestic repression, and the recent Wagner mutiny combine to highlight the Russian state’s failure to insulate the population from the war.

As of Tuesday 01 August, 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 246690 (+500)
  • Tanks – 4216 (+5)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 8205 (+17)
  • Artillery systems – 4839 (+23)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 699 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 462 (+2)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 311 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 7324 (+32)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 4027 (+10)
  • Special equipment – 718 (+3)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1347 (+0)

Due to large losses of occupiers, morgue is overcrowded in Svatove, and city has unbearable corpse smell, – General Staff, Censor.net reports, citing the General Staff. “The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine published information about the significant losses of the occupiers, which is why the morgue is overcrowded in the city of Svatove.

The message states: Against the background of the successful military operations of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, the number of casualties in units of the Russian occupying forces, which physically do not have time to remove the dead from local morgues, has increased significantly. In particular, in the city of Svatove, Luhansk region, the territory of the city morgue is overflowing with the bodies of dead Russians. The occupiers have not taken them away for almost a week. Because of this, the city has an unbearable corpse smell.”

UK at UN: Russia has already lost 200,000 soldiers in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing UK Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley statement at the UN Security Council meeting. “It is Russia that is sending thousands of its own young men to their deaths. Estimates suggest that more than 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured in Ukraine,” he said.

Eckersley said that Russia is inflicting terror on the Ukrainian people, and in parallel, it is inflicting suffering on its own population, and millions across the world. In the face of this, Ukraine has had no choice but to exercise its UN Charter right to defend itself. It is fighting a war of national survival and defending the right of all nations to live without fear of aggression, the British diplomat said.

He added that the only path to a sustainable peace in Ukraine is for President Putin to end his illegal invasion, withdraw his troops and thereby demonstrate that he is prepared to engage on terms for peace that respect the UN Charter. Russia started this war, and Russia must end it before they cause any more suffering, Eckersley said.”

Russians forcibly mobilise about 60,000 men from occupied territories – Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. “Since early 2022, Russia has forcibly mobilised between 55,000 and 60,000 men into its army in Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories. This is a violent mobilisation: the invaders catch people on the street, they come to those small businesses that are still working and forcibly take people away − simply let them change their clothes and send them to the front.

The intelligence official added that people were promised they would be serving on the second or third line of defence, but in fact were sent to the front line. Cherniak also added that the Russians swell their ranks with students from the occupied Ukrainian territories. He said that students were sent to the front directly from their classes, without any kind of proper training.

Cherniak stressed that the only real opportunity to survive for those mobilised from the occupied territories is to surrender at the first opportunity.”

Russians try to increase production of missiles – Defence Intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Yusov, spokesperson of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, in the 24/7 newscast. “Russia is constantly restocking its missile supplies it uses to launch attacks on Ukraine but their production is not quick. The Russians have some missiles remained; [there’s] an established production of these missiles, and they are working towards increasing it, but the manufacture scale of the Iskander missiles, for example, is significantly smaller than that of the Kalibr missiles.

Basically, everything that is being produced is right away launched by the Russian terrorists on the territory of Ukraine. [This is done] after certain pauses needed for the accumulation of resources and preparation for the next terrorist (missile) attacks. The Russians manage to produce dozens of Kalibr missiles each month, unlike Iskander and Kindzhal missiles, which are manufactured on a much smaller production scale.”

Humanitarian

Ukraine’s power system 60% ready for winter season – Prime Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Shmyhal, at the meeting of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities under the President of Ukraine, held in Ivano-Frankivsk, cited by Ukrinform. “The state of preparation for the heating season in Ukraine is 60%, said Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine. […] Shmyhal noted that 4 nuclear power units, 9 thermal power plant units, and 6 hydraulic units have already been repaired. By the beginning of the heating season, the Ministry of Energy has a clear task to complete, to return 1.7 GW of capacity to the power system, he added.

We accumulate energy resources. We have 11.7 billion cubic metres of gas, which is 80% of the planned volume. We have 1.5 million tonnes of coal in warehouses out of the planned 1.8 million tonnes, the prime minister assured. According to him, since the beginning of the year, 14,500 kilometres of overhead power lines have been repaired in Ukraine; over 60% damaged thermal power plants, thermal power plants, and boiler houses have been restored. […]

At the end of June, the Association of Ukrainian Cities stated that the number of appeals from municipalities to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding the preparation of heat supply enterprises for the heating season is growing; in all cases, these appeals say there’s a threat to remain without heating in winter.”

Russian attack on Kryvyi Rih: death toll rises to 6 civilians, 75 injured, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “6 people were killed, including a child, and 75 people injured in the Russian missile strike on Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, on 31 July. […] On the morning of 31 July, explosions rang out in the city of Kryvyi Rih, with the Russians launching a missile attack on the city, targeting a high-rise residential building, as well as an educational institution. Out of the 22 hospitalised people 2 are in severe condition.”

Legal

Russian ombudswoman reports about deporting over 700,000 Ukrainian children to Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Radio Liberty and Russian media outlet Nastoyashee Vremya (Present Time). “Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian ombudswoman for children’s rights, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague, has reported that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russians have deported more than 700,000 Ukrainian children to Russia. In her report, Lvova-Belova claimed that the majority of Ukrainian children were taken to Russia together with their parents or other relatives.

According to the document, nearly 1,500 children from orphanages or children deprived of parental care have been deported to the territory of Russia as well: 288 children from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) have been placed in Russian foster families.

The children from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) have reportedly come back to orphanages they had been taken from, but later 92 children were also placed in Russian families. From April to October 2022, the Russians have placed in Russian families 380 children from Donbas. The document says they were deprived of parental care.”

Two options of creating special tribunal for Russia being considered – Kostin, Ukrinform reports, citing Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andriy Kostin said this in an interview with Ukrinform. “The Core Group is considering the option of creating a so-called internationalized tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as the creation of a tribunal based on a UN General Assembly resolution. We are currently discussing two options – an international tribunal established by a UN General Assembly resolution, and another proposal is an internationalized tribunal, which includes Ukrainian and foreign judges who will act on the basis of Ukrainian law, Kostin said.

The Prosecutor General explained that an internationalized tribunal is what some of our partners proposed as a hybrid tribunal, and then renamed it an internationalized tribunal. […]

The Prosecutor General also does not rule out that the special tribunal can convict in absentia. Conviction in absentia is possible. This is the difference between the special tribunal and the ICC. The last one cannot judge in absentia. But the tribunal can. The Ukrainian people should not wait long, he said.

As reported, Ukraine, together with its partners, is promoting the creation of a special tribunal to bring the leadership of the Russian Federation to justice for the crime of aggression against Ukraine. The creation of such a tribunal was supported by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and individual states.

The International Center for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine was launched in The Hague. It is expected to support and coordinate the preparation of cases on crimes of aggression. This is the first internationally supported initiative to investigate the crime of aggression since World War II.”

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, skjermbilde, programvare, Dataikon

Automatisk generert beskrivelseRussian war crimes and human right violations in the war against Ukraine, according to reports from the Ukrainian Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration as of July 31, 2023, “since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 498 children were killed and more than 1081 children have been injured. Due to the active hostilities in affected regions, there is no possibility to inspect the areas of shelling and destruction. In Ukraine, at least 2 civilians were killed and 18 more were injured by Russian military on July 30, as a result of Russian aggression.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the first nine days after withdrawal from the “grain agreement”, Russia: damaged 26 objects of the port infrastructure of Ukraine; damaged five civilian ships; destroyed about 180 thousand tons of Ukrainian grain.”

Support

Slovakia to Send Two Howitzers Zuzana 2 to Ukraine, Jointly Financed by Four Countries, European Pravda reports. “Slovakia will hand over two Zuzana 2 self-propelled artillery systems to Ukraine on Tuesday, August 1. As reported by Dennik N, these will be the first howitzers out of 16, co-financed by Denmark, Norway, and Germany.

Russian missile that demolished half an apartment block in Kryvyi Rih launched from Dzhankoi, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Zelensky. “Two Russian Iskander missiles used to strike the city of Kryvyi Rih on 31 July were fired from the occupied city of Dzhankoi, Crimea. […]

And this proves once and again that for the security of our cities, for the protection of the everyday life of Ukrainians and our children, our military must have enough long-range weapons, enough means of destroying terrorists. The world’s sanction pressure against Russia needs to significantly increase.”

Kamyshin on production of ammunition in Ukraine: “It has increased tenfold, but it is not enough for needs of army”, Censor.net reports, citing the Minister for Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin. “Between January and July this year, Ukraine increased its ammunition production tenfold, but this is not enough to meet the needs of the Armed Forces. The state is currently looking for international partners to strengthen its arms production capacity.

According to him, there are great opportunities for large international companies to produce and test their products in a real war. To produce in Ukraine, to test products in Ukraine, to conduct research and development in Ukraine, to modernise the product in Ukraine. At the end of the war, they will have the best product, Kamyshin said.”

Ukrainian President’s Office rejects Polish official’s claims regarding Ukraine’s lack of appreciation for support, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Sybiha, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office in European Pravda. “The Ukrainian President’s Office has called groundless a Polish official’s claims that Kyiv does not sufficiently appreciate the assistance provided by Poland. Sybiha’s remarks were made in response to the allegations made by Marcin Przydacz, Secretary of State and Head of the Office for International Policy in the Administration of Polish President Andrzej Duda, regarding the situation with the blocking of Ukrainian grain exports through Poland. Przydacz said in an interview with Polish media that Ukraine has received remarkable support from Poland and that it should start appreciating the role that Poland has played for Ukraine in recent months and years. […]

Sybiha noted that Ukraine, in fact, expresses its gratitude to Poland and other allies every day by Ukrainian forces continuing to hold the line. Polish weapons in the hands of the Ukrainian military effectively deter the Russian aggressor. And supporting us with weapons is not charity but an investment in Poland’s own security. It is the Ukrainians who are defending the values and security of our region and doing so in the interests of Poland and the entire free world, Sybiha said, adding that this is the highest level of gratitude that is strange to ignore.

He also recalled that Ukrainians, thanks to all the solidarity support from Poland, now consider Poles one of their closest nations: Trying to ‘haggle’ something more out of Ukraine while it is at war is tantamount to treachery, which should have no place in our relations. Everyone knows the conditions in which Ukrainian farmers work today, putting their lives at risk in mined fields and under missile fire. Given these exceptional circumstances, pushing Ukraine to accept the closing of borders for Ukrainian agricultural products as part of its gratitude to Poland is equivalent to forcing us to agree to euthanasia. There is nothing worse than when your saviour demands a rescue fee from you while you bleed to death, said Sybiha. […].”

New developments

  1. Ukraine begin negotiations with US on security guarantees – Ukraine’s President’s Office chief, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda with reference to the President’s website. “Next week, Ukraine will begin negotiations with the United States on a bilateral agreement on providing security guarantees within the framework of the Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine. […] Security guarantees for Ukraine will be concrete and long-term commitments that will ensure Ukraine’s ability to win now and deter Russian aggression in the future. These will be clearly described formats and support mechanisms. Member states of the Group of Seven at the NATO summit in Vilnius have agreed on a framework document concerning security guarantees for Ukraine. The leaders agreed not on specific parameters of security guarantees, but on their framework, while specific bilateral treaties will be signed later.”
  2. US confirms talks with Ukraine on security guarantees will kick off this week, Ukrinform reports, citing US Department of State Spokesperson Matthew Miller. “The US and Ukrainian governments will begin negotiations on security guarantees for Ukraine in the context of the declaration of the G7 countries this week. Those talks are going to kick off this week,” he said […]. Miller recalled that during the NATO summit in Vilnius last month, the G7 countries undertook to conduct bilateral negotiations with the Government of Ukraine about long-term commitments to Ukraine’s security so that it can create a military that can defend the country and deter a future attack, rebuild its economy, protect its citizens and pursue integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. Miller said that this was separate and apart from the assistance that the United States regularly provides to Ukraine. He also noted that Washington sees this process proceeding on two tracks. “One is security assistance to support their efforts to repel Russian aggression, and two is to create a long-term military that can serve as a deterrent effect from future Russian aggression, Miller said.”
  3. Medvedev threatens nuclear weapons in case of success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, directly threatens to use nuclear weapons in case the Ukrainian counteroffensive succeeds. Medvedev has repeatedly threatened the world with a “nuclear apocalypse”. In September 2022, he stated that Ukraine’s accession to NATO will accelerate the outbreak of World War III. In early July, Medvedev once again resorted to intimidating the world with a nuclear apocalypse, although he also said that a nuclear winter could be avoided if the West fulfilled all of Russia’s demands. On 11 July, Medvedev said that “World War III is getting closer” summarising results of the NATO summit in Vilnius.”
  4. Kremlin says it needs to understand aims of Ukraine talks reportedly planned in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports. “The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Saudi Arabia would invite Western states, Ukraine and major developing countries to the talks. The paper said Kyiv and Western countries hoped that the talks, which would exclude Russia, can lead to international backing for peace terms favoring Ukraine. Asked about the WSJ report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: Of course, Russia will follow this meeting. We need to understand what goals are set and what will be discussed. Any attempt to promote a peaceful settlement deserves a positive evaluation. However, Peskov also restated Moscow’s position that it currently saw no grounds for peace talks with Kyiv. The Kyiv regime does not want and cannot want peace, as long as it is used exclusively as a tool in the war of the collective West with Russia, he [claimed] on a call with reporters.”
  5. Representatives of about 40 countries to discuss peace in Ukraine in Saudi Arabia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda and Europa Press Agency. “The European Union expects representatives of about 40 countries to attend an informal meeting in Saudi Arabia at the end of the week, where ways to achieve peace in Ukraine will be discussed. According to EU sources, at the meeting in Saudi Arabia, the countries will be represented at the level of national security advisers […].This meeting is an opportunity for new contacts with our global partners and with Ukraine on the Ukrainian Peace Formula in order to convene a Global Peace Summit […]. They confirmed the European Union’s support for the Ukrainian Peace Formula.”
  6. Zelenskyy may come to New York and present peace formula to UN – Bloomberg, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Bloomberg. “Bloomberg’s sources say Zelenskyy may personally present his peace formula, a 10-point plan to end Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, during the UN General Assembly High-Level Week. Kyiv insists a peace formula summit might be held during the UN General Assembly. However, Bloomberg adds that some of Ukraine’s allies are against this for logistical reasons, as well as because of the need to first secure support in the Global South. […] As for the Russian president, Bloomberg’s sources do not expect him to attend the UN High-Level Week, pointing out that after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant, his foreign travel has been severely restricted.”
  7. China curbs exports of drone equipment amid US tech tension, Reuters reports. “China on Monday announced export controls on some drones and drone-related equipment, saying it wanted to safeguard “national security and interests amid escalating tension with the United States over access to technology. The restrictions on equipment including some drone engines, lasers, communication equipment and anti-drone systems would take effect on Sept. 1, the commerce ministry said. The controls would also affect some consumer drones, and no civilian drones could be exported for military purposes, a ministry spokesperson said in a statement. “China’s modest expansion of the scope of its drone control this time is an important measure to demonstrate our stance as a responsible major country, to implement global security initiatives, and maintain world peace,” the unidentified spokesperson said. Authorities had notified relevant countries and regions, the spokesperson said. China has a big drone manufacturing industry and exports to several markets including the U.S.”
  8. Media expose scheme of import of sanctioned goods to Russia, in particular for military-industrial complex, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Verstka and European Pravda. “Journalists found out that only in the first half of 2023, Russia had imported sanctioned microchips produced in the West with a total value of more than US$502 million. These components are used to produce missiles and other weapons. They also delivered numerous pieces of equipment used by the Russian military-industrial complex, equipment for civil aviation worth at least US$171 million, and US$389 million worth of iPhones. According to their conclusions, importing “anything from anywhere in the world, from dual-use microchips to a turbojet engine for an airbus” is now possible, and Western companies are involved in the schemes to circumvent sanctions through third countries. […] Almost all Western electronics enter Russia through China and Hong Kong.”

Assessment

On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Monday 31 July:

Russian forces continued offensive operations near Svatove on July 31 and made unconfirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted unsuccessful offensive operations east of Berestove (20km northwest of Svatove) and near Novoselivske (14km northwest of Svatove). Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated that Russian forces attempted to advance south of Novoselivske and push Ukrainian troops across the Oskil River, which runs west of Svatove. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces took up more advantageous positions near Kuzemivka (13km northwest of Svatove). One Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced up to the shoreline of the Oksil River, and other milbloggers reported heavy fighting is ongoing near Novoselivske, Novoyehorivka (15km southwest of Svatove), and Nadiia (13km southwest of Svatove). […]

Russian forces continued offensive operations near Kreminna on July 31 and made unconfirmed gains. The Russian Center Grouping of Forces spokesperson claimed that Russian forces captured eight Ukrainian strongholds on the borders of Raihorodka (35km northwest of Kreminna) and Chervonopopivka (5km northwest of Kreminna). Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in the Serebryanske forest area (southwest of Kreminna) towards Lyman. A Russian milblogger also reported that Russian forces tried to attack towards Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna) from the southeast but were unsuccessful.

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Russian sources reported that Ukrainian forces conducted several unsuccessful counterattacks west and south of Kreminna on July 31. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian troops repelled attempted Ukrainian attacks near Kreminna itself, Kuzmyne (2km southwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka, Berestove (30km south of Kreminna), and Spirne (25km south of Kreminna). Russian milbloggers also claimed that Ukrainian troops unsuccessfully counterattacked in the Serebryanske forest area, and one Russian source noted that Ukrainian forces stabilized the line of defense near Dibrova (5km southwest of Kreminna) after deploying reserves to the area.

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut on July 31 and did not make any confirmed or claimed gains. Russian milbloggers reported that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks northwest of Bakhmut near Dubovo-Vasylivka (6km northwest) and that heavy battles continue southwest of Bakhmut near Andriivka (9km southwest) and Klishchiivka (6km southwest). Russian sources indicated that elements of the 11st Guards Air Assault (VDV) Brigade and 4th Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Brigade are fighting in the Bakhmut area.

Russian forces did not conduct any claimed or confirmed ground attack in the Bakhmut area on July 31.

Russian forces conducted ground attacks southwest of Donetsk City on July 31 and did not make any claimed or confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops unsuccessfully attacked near Marinka and Pobieda (both on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted assault operations within Marinka but were unsuccessful.

Ukrainian forces did not conduct any claimed or confirmed ground attacks along the Avdiivka–Donetsk City line on July 31.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and reportedly made marginal advances on July 31. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other Russian sources reported that Russian forces, including the 247th Airborne (VDV) Division, repelled Ukrainian ground attacks near Staromayorske (9km south of Velyka Novosilka). Some Russian milbloggers continued to claim that Staromayorske is contested while other milbloggers conceded that Ukrainian forces control the settlement. One milblogger claimed that Russian forces withdrew to positions on the north (left) bank of the Mokryi Yaly River south of Staromayorske to defend against Ukrainian advances further south, and that Ukrainian forces advanced near Pryyutne (15km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). Russian milbloggers claimed that fighting is ongoing near the T0518 Urozhaine-Velyka Novosilka highway and that the Donetsk People‘s Republic (DNR) “Kaskad” Operational Tactical Combat Formation is defending near Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka). One Russian milblogger expressed concern about Russia’s ability to defend Urozhaine and assessed that Ukrainian forces will capture the settlement within the next three days.

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Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Donetsk–Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and may have made marginal advances on July 31. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces conducted counterattacks near Staromayorske and recaptured lost positions in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled the Russian attacks, however.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and reportedly advanced on July 31. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces made unspecified advances in the Mala Tokmachka (6km southeast of Orikhiv) and Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) directions. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces repelled a limited mechanized Ukrainian attack near Robotyne and a smaller ground attack on the Pyatykhatky-Zherebyanky line (23–26km southwest of Orikhiv).

Russian forces conducted an Iskander-M missile strike against a residential area in Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on July 31. Ukrainian officials reported that one Russian missile struck a multi-story school building, and a second missile struck a high-rise residential building. Ukrainian officials reported that the strikes killed six civilians, including one child, and injured over 75.

The Wagner Group may be supplanting the Russian military as the Belarusian military’s key training partner. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on July 30 that Wagner personnel conducted company-level training with unspecified elements of multiple Belarusian mechanized brigades. The training included tactical maneuver for dismounted infantry and focused on force concealment from enemy UAVs and coordination between companies, platoons, and squads. The training also reportedly featured Belarusian infantry conducting a combined arms assault with tank and artillery support. The Wagner Group’s new role in Belarusian company-level training is notable. The Belarusian military typically conducts such exercises with Russian trainers and relies on Russian planners for any multi-brigade exercises, which ISW has not yet observed Wagner Group participating in. ISW previously observed Wagner personnel training with a Belarusian airborne brigade that historically trains with the Russian 76th Airborne (VDV) Division and forecasted that the Wagner Group may seek to supplant legacy Russian–Belarusian unit relationships.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely succeeded in recruiting an unknown number of Wagner personnel following Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion, though Prigozhin reportedly ordered remaining Wagner fighters to assemble in Belarus by August 5. Prigozhin announced on July 30 that “unfortunately a few [Wagner personnel] agreed to transfer from the Wagner Group” and joined other unspecified Russian security services — likely the Russian MoD). Prigozhin thanked former Wagner personnel for their service, stated that neither he nor Wagner’s Council of Commanders banned Wagner personnel from joining different Russian “security structures,” and expressed hope that the departed Wagner members would “keep in touch” so that they can rejoin Wagner should there ever arrive a time when the Wagner Group must reform a force. Prigozhin also reiterated known details about how the Wagner Group will continue to train Belarusian forces and operate in Africa. The Ukrainian Resistance Center also noted on July 31 that Prigozhin ordered all Wagner personnel currently on rest and recuperation to arrive at Wagner’s field camps in Belarus no later than August 5 to attend unspecified events that Prigozhin will personally lead on August 5. Prigozhin stated that most Wagner fighters are on “vacation” as of July 30.

Prigozhin stated that the Wagner Group stopped recruiting in Russia and claimed that the Wagner Group does not need to recruit more personnel and has sufficient reserves. Prigozhin stated on July 30 that Wagner has sufficient personnel and does not plan to conduct another recruitment drive until it needs more fighters. A Wagner recruitment Telegram page announced on July 30 that Wagner is indefinitely suspending regional recruitment centers in Russia due to Wagner having sufficient reserves. The exact reason the Wagner Group suspended recruitment is unclear, however. The Wagner Group was reportedly still recruiting fighters from across Russia as of early July 2023. The Kremlin may have recently banned the Wagner Group from recruiting within Russia, and Prigozhin may simply be attempting to save face by claiming he voluntarily suspended recruitment efforts. ISW cannot independently confirm the Wagner Group’s current strength or depth of reserves.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made largely boilerplate comments framing the Russian state as adequately supporting long-term force-generation efforts and meeting Russian weapons demand through domestic production and international cooperation. Shoigu claimed that over 15,000 students enrolled at Russian military universities for the coming school year, 10 percent of whom have combat experience fighting in Ukraine. Shoigu announced the resumption of instruction at the Donetsk Higher Combined Arms Command School in occupied Donetsk, one of the combined arms academies the Russian military requires officers to attend before commanding at the brigade or regiment level. Shoigu also reiterated positive rhetoric about the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) and actively seeking international military-technical cooperation to support the war effort. Shoigu stated that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) will sign contracts worth over 433 billion rubles (roughly $4.7 billion) with defense enterprises at the Army-2023 international military-technical forum. The claimed overall value of these contracts is at least 13.4 percent less than the over 500 billion ruble (roughly $5.45 billion) value of contracts the MoD signed at the Army-2022 and 2021 forums but a substantial increase over the 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 forums, the overall contract values of which were roughly 1.16 trillion rubles ($17.4 billion), 1.03 trillion ($10.9 billion), 130 billion ($1.4 billion), 170 billion ($1.8 billion), and 130 billion, respectively. Shoigu stated that Russia invited the heads of over 108 defense departments to attend the Army-2023 forum.

Imagery posted on July 30 and 31 visually confirms damage to the Chonhar Bridge following a Ukrainian strike on July 29. Satellite imagery posted on July 30 reportedly shows damage to the Chonhar railway bridge. Social media sources additionally circulated an image taken by someone standing on the bridge itself reportedly showing damage to the railway bridge. One source speculated that the pictures taken from the bridge do not match the location of the damage as shown on available satellite imagery, which suggests that the full extent of the damage to the bridge is still unclear. Russian milbloggers maintained their silence on damage to the Chonhar Bridge on July 31, possibly supporting ISW’s previous assessment that the Kremlin may have directed Russian commentators to refrain from covering the strike in an effort to exert greater control of the information space.

Kremlin-appointed Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova confirmed on July 31 that Russia has transferred 4.8 million Ukrainians, including over 700,000 children, to the Russian Federation since the beginning of the war. In a report on the activities “authorized by the President of the Russian Federation for children’s rights” in 2022, Lvova-Belova claimed that Russia has “received” 4.8 million Ukrainians since February 2022 and noted that the vast majority of the 700,000 children who arrived to Russia did not have parental or guardian supervision. The report carefully frames these activities as humanitarian gestures of goodwill. International humanitarian law, however, defines the forced transfer of civilians to the territory of an occupying power as “deportation.” And the circumstances of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the situation in occupied territories are likely sufficiently coercive to mean that most “transfers” of Ukrainian civilians to Russia meet the threshold of forced deportation, which is prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, regardless of Russia’s claimed motive. ISW continues to assess that Russian authorities are conducting a large-scale campaign to deport Ukrainians to the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 31. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued attacking northwest and southwest of Bakhmut, in the western Donetsk–eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that over the past week, Ukrainian forces liberated an additional 2 square kilometers of territory in the Bakhmut area and 12.6 square kilometers in the Berdiansk (western Donetsk–eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area) and Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions.

Iran and Belarus are deepening bilateral cooperation over the backdrop of their mutual support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Belarusian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Viktor Khrenin arrived in Iran on July 31 and met with his counterpart, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and a bilateral military cooperation plan for 2023. Ashtiani is primarily responsible for negotiating military acquisitions and sales in his role as Iranian Defense Minister, so Khrenin and Ashtiani likely discussed arms deals during their meeting. Belarus may have also been seeking to secure an agreement on Iranian production of Shahed drones on the territory of Belarus following initial reports that Iran was seeking to convert a plant in Belarus’ Gomel Oblast into a Shahed production plant.

Ukrainian Presidential Administration Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak stated on July 30 that Kyiv and Washington will begin consultations on providing Ukraine “security guarantees” as soon as the week of August 6 – 13. Yermak stated that the security guarantees for Ukraine — including “concrete and long-term commitments that will ensure Ukraine’s ability to win now and deter Russian aggression in the future” — will cover the period before Ukraine acquires NATO membership. Yermak described the security guarantees as an “important prerequisite” for Ukraine’s recovery and noted that the security guarantees include financial support for Ukraine and sanctions and punitive measures against Russia.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Wagner Group may be supplanting the Russian military as the Belarusian military’s key training partner.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely succeeded in recruiting an unknown number of Wagner personnel following Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion, though Prigozhin ordered remaining Wagner fighters to assemble in Belarus by August 5.
  • Prigozhin stated that the Wagner Group stopped recruiting in Russia and claimed that the Wagner Group does not need to recruit more personnel and has sufficient reserves.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made largely boilerplate comments framing the Russian state as adequately supporting long-term force-generation efforts and meeting Russian weapons demand through domestic production and international cooperation.
  • Imagery posted on July 30 and 31 visually confirms damage to the Chonhar Bridge following a Ukrainian strike on July 29.
  • Kremlin-appointed Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova confirmed on July 31 that Russia has transferred 4.8 million Ukrainians, including over 700,000 children, to the Russian Federation since the beginning of the war, very likely violating the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 31.
  • Iran and Belarus are deepening bilateral cooperation over the backdrop of their mutual support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian Presidential Administration Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak stated on July 30 that Kyiv and Washington will begin consultations on providing Ukraine “security guarantees” as soon as the week of August 6 – 13.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna and Avdiivka-Donetsk City lines and made claimed gains in Luhansk Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut, in western Donetsk and western Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
  • Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks in western Donetsk and western Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified a law on July 31 increasing the fine for mobilized personnel’s or conscripts’ failure to arrive at a military registration office after being summoned.

Wagnerians can attack Poland “for purpose of testing NATO”, – vice-speaker of Polish Senate Kaminski, Censor.net reports, citing Michal Kaminski, vice-marshal (vice-speaker. – Ed.) of the Senate of Poland, with reference to Suspilne. “We take very seriously this threat related to the presence of the “Wagner” PMC near the Polish border in Belarus. We reacted by increasing the number of our troops on the eastern and northeastern borders. It is in the same Suval corridor. This is such a delicate moment in the geography of NATO — the Suval Corridor,” he said.

According to Kaminski, the Polish authorities do not rule out the possibility that the “Wagnerians” may try to enter Poland with the purpose of testing NATO. No one in Poland excludes that with the aim of, so to speak, testing NATO, testing the Alliance’s solidarity with Poland, with Eastern Europe, they may try to enter Poland. Most likely, it will be a kind of terrorist operation of the “Wagner” PMC, rather than a full-scale invasion, as in the case of Ukraine, says Kaminski.

He is sure that Russia will not dare to act on its own behalf, because it would mean a war with NATO. And any provocations that the “Wageners” will commit are possible. But I want to remind you that we already have American soldiers and officers in Poland. President of Belarus Lukashenko (self-proclaimed president Oleksandr Lukashenko. – Ed.) hinted about Rzeszów that they as if they wanted to enter there. Let them enter. They will meet not only Polish but also the American defense there. One question is who will pay for their homes, in which we will send them back to Russia?, Kaminsky summarized.”

National Guard commander on counteroffensive: Time will come, we will find loophole, and there will be breakthrough, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Colonel Oleksandr Pivnenko, commander of the National Guard of Ukraine. “The defence forces of Ukraine continue to put pressure on the Russian troops and to recapture land captured by the Russian occupier’s metre by metre. It is known how difficult it is to recapture each kilometre during a counteroffensive. […]

Pivnenko noted that of course, there will be no such thing as reaching Crimea in just one shot. But the offensive continues, and Russians are in for more surprises. If we move forward, this is already a certain result. Everyone remembers that operation on the Izium front [in autumn 2022] and believes it will be just the same. But no, it does not work that way. For us, every [reclaimed] metre is already a result. We are moving forward. 

You will see, the time will come when we make a breakthrough on some front. And it’s not guaranteed that it will happen exactly where someone wants it to. We will find a loophole and go in, and it will be fine. And they will lose many of our territories. We’re on a tough spot because Russia is a big country with great resources. But we know that we have no way out – we will reach the borders of 1991. It takes time.”

Russians take our tactics of using drones – National Guard Commander, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Colonel Oleksandr Pivnenko, the Commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, has confirmed that a fierce war of combat drones continues at the front. Ukrainska Pravda noted that many experts agree that the Russians have begun to use their UAVs more heavily. At the same time, it is often mentioned that the Ukrainian defence forces have a constant shortage of drones. Ukrainska Pravda asked Pivnenko whether this is true and whether the National Guard has any problems with UAVs.

They have adopted our tactics of using drones. We are constantly being provided with supplies through our own channels, for example, through the volunteer movement, and we are provided with supplies officially all the time [by the state – ed.]. But there are also constant losses, the enemy’s electronic warfare is operating. If you look at the numbers, there may be days when we lose up to 20 drones a day. On good days, we lose one drone, two, three. Sometimes the drones don’t have enough time to get to the destination point. For example, we had a stock of 40, just to give you an example. It disappeared in two days, and we expected it to last for a month.

We are engaging channels, pulling up more [drones]. But sometimes there are moments when you don’t always have the time to get them here because it’s a tough spot. The command posts are located very close to the front. […] Pivnenko also pointed out that the Russians are constantly changing their tactics of warfare.

Their principle of not sparing manpower and wiping out all life on the face of the earth with the help of various artillery systems remains unchanged. Pivnenko made it clear that he was not inclined to underestimate the Russians. He said the best trained mercenaries he has ever encountered are Wagnerites, but these mercenaries are not currently on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

Consequences and what to do?

Three Preconditions for Successful After-War Reconstruction of Ukraine, European Pravda reports, citing EU Jacques Delors Centre’s scientist on external and security policy, Sasha Ostanina, Guarantees for Investors: What Will Help Ukraine Attract Funds for Reconstruction.. “Ukraine presented a nationwide roadmap for reconstruction in June. In turn, the European Commission proposed 50 billion euros as grants and credits for Ukraine’s reconstruction by 2027. There is a mutual understanding that relying solely on government funds will not be enough for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

According to the author, a stable cessation of hostilities is necessary to attract investments to Ukraine. However, she adds that stable ceasefire alone, without eliminating the threat from Russia, is not sufficient for successful reconstruction. Estimations indicate that Ukraine needs 170 billion euros of direct foreign investments and 325 billion euros of domestic private investments to carry out reconstruction projects.

In Sasha Ostanina’s opinion, to attract these funds, Ukraine needs to address three main deficiencies: restoring the insurance market by increasing (re)insurance offerings, enhancing access to financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, and making access to the EU single market more stable for Ukraine.

The 50-billion-euro fund by the European Commission for Ukraine has three main directions: supporting Ukraine’s financial stability, stimulating investments, and providing technical assistance. This marks an important shift from short-term emergency aid to a medium-term reconstruction programme. However, this will not be enough for guaranteed stable recovery, warns the expert.

As already mentioned in the column, the EU should strengthen the mechanisms for assisting Ukraine’s insurance market, financing small and medium-sized enterprises, and accessing the EU single market, to switch for a long-term EU strategy. Ostanina reminds that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Commission, among others, have agreed “to explore the possibility” of creating a Ukraine Reconstruction Guarantee Fund.

If this happens, it will facilitate access to corporate insurance for military risks, initially focusing on trade and international maritime transport. Over the next 15 years, four-fifths of the 500 billion euros of foreign and domestic investments in Ukraine will need insurance, reports the scientist on external and security policy from the EU Jacques Delors Centre.

Furthermore, according to her, the EU must ensure that the reconstruction plan for Ukraine gives priority to small and medium-sized enterprises. In the expert’s opinion, individual support should be focused on increasing the availability of funds for sectors that make the greatest contribution to national production: retail trade and services (including logistics), industry, and agriculture.

Additionally, the EU should remove all barriers for Ukrainian exports in the long term. “Assisting Ukraine in its full recovery and EU membership will be a geostrategic investment in the continent’s enduring security and economic growth, explains Ostanina.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Sweden received assurances from the US that it would receive support while waiting for its application to join NATO to be processed by the member states. The UK pledged to back Sweden against Russian threats in any way necessary. The mutual agreements promised troops on the ground if they faced an attack. Denmark, Norway, and Iceland are also among the NATO countries that have given security assurances.

NATO’s Secretary-General Stoltenberg has repeatedly said that if military threats are directed towards Sweden, it is inconceivable that NATO would not react.

The promises were made to a future NATO member at peace. The promises made to a future NATO member at war, however, are dramatically different.

While Ukraine is seeking the same security guarantees as many NATO member states promised Sweden, the West is only willing to promise continued defence support and to help Ukraine create Armed Forces capable of deterring Russia once peace has been re-established. It is not even promising to set up Ukraine for victory, failing to provide it with all the tools needed to defeat Russia.

While NATO is built around mutual security guarantees in which an attack on one is an attack on all, it has carefully avoided extending any firm military obligations to Ukraine out of concerns that it might be drawn into a full-scale war with Russia.

It raises an intriguing question: Is a pledge made in peacetime credible if it cannot be made during war? The former is a hypothetical commitment while the latter would be a commitment to fight (if Russia decided to stay).

The future of both Sweden and Ukraine is indisputable in NATO. Both are committed to its shared values of individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

The security guarantees offered to Sweden provided deterrence, hoping that the pledge alone would suffice to deter future aggressions. The pledge served the same purpose as the “Memorandum on security assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” (Budapest Memorandum from 1994) promising to “seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.”

Ukraine gave up the world’s third-biggest arsenal of nuclear arms for the promise of security assurances from the Russian Federation, the US, and the UK.

In 1991, the third largest nuclear power on earth was not Britain, France or China. It was Ukraine. When the USSR collapsed in December 1991, Ukraine inherited roughly 5,000 nuclear arms that the Soviet Union had stationed on its territory. Underground silos on its military bases held long-range missiles that carried up to 10 thermonuclear warheads, each far stronger than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only Russia and the US had more nuclear weapons.

Russia violated Articles 2,3 and 5 of the treaty. While the US and UK fulfilled their commitment in Article 4 to “provide assistance to Ukraine” to the letter, they failed to meet their commitment to the spirit of the Budapest Memorandum.

Russia recognised that a pledge made in peacetime was not credible when facing a war. It correctly assessed that the two countries would refrain from deploying boots on the ground if Russia attacked Ukraine. The first eight years of the war – a low-intensity war that gradually increased in scale and scope – helped confirm the appraisal.

The US and the UK – along with the rest of their NATO allies – were deterred from engaging directly out of fear of the war escalating into a “broader confrontation” (that is already taking place).

NATO deterrence is not decided in Washington, Brussels, London, Paris or Berlin. The Alliance’s ability to deter Russia is decided in Kremlin. If Russia is not deterred, NATO deterrence fails.

Repeated statements of intent carry no weight if they do not match NATO’s collective actions. Its lack of investment in security and defence, its failure to intervene militarily according to its strategic concept, and its failure to protect of universal rights of Freedom of Navigation and defend shared values and principles as laid down in international law, all help undermine the many strong political statements and commitments across the Alliance.

NATO’s failure to provide Ukraine with membership and real security guarantees continues to undermine any hope for a peaceful resolution of the war.

The continued failure to commit makes a future compromise at the cost of Ukrainian territorial integrity increasingly more likely. Rewarding Russia, however, will not bring peace and stability to Europe.

It will only fuel its imperialistic ambitions at the cost of our common security and stability.

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