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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 771. Drones, sanctions wear down Russian oil and gas

German firms help Russia rebuild demolished Mariupol as Ukraine leaves a NATO summit with promises of air defense but not membership
Russo-Ukrainian war, day 771. Drones, sanctions wear down Russian oil and gas

Exclusive

Ukraine leaves NATO birthday party with promises of air defense, but not membership. Germany will initiate the search for Patriot air defense systems, but the promise of a NATO membership this summer is still vague
Ukraine solidarity narrative cynical without weapons & guarantees. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis warns western nations there will be no happy ending unless they choose to rewrite the script to help Ukraine achieve a full victory

Military

Ukrainian drone strikes cripple over 10% of Russia’s oil refining capacity, NATO official says. Russia’s increased gasoline imports from Belarus and export ban highlight the impact of Ukrainian drone strikes on its oil refining infrastructure

Shahed factory in Tatarstan hit, says Ukrainian intel, yet satellite images show no damage. It is unclear whether the factory producing kamikaze drones launched en masse by Russia will scale down production

British intel: Increased attacks do not help Russia advance on Novopavlivka direction. Despite a surge in attacks South-west of Donetsk (806 in March vs 721 in Feb), no notable territorial gains made. Attacks increased in this sector but declined overall across frontlines.

ISW: Russia increases number and size of mechanized ground assaults over past 2 weeks. According to ISW, reasons of Russian intensified assaults may include: muddy spring conditions may make maneuver harder later; taking advantage before Western aid arrives

Russian drone attack on Kharkiv kills 4, including rescuers, injures 12. According to the Governor, Russian troops launched at least 15 drones, damaging several residential buildings in three of Kharkiv’s districts.

As of 04 Apr 2024, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

      • Personnel: 445040 (+670)
      • Tanks: 7018 (+9)
      • APV: 13386 (+18)
      • Artillery systems: 11171 (+29)
      • MLRS: 1026 (+1)
      • Anti-aircraft systems: 746 (+1)
      • Aircraft: 347
      • Helicopters: 325
      • UAV: 8817 (+21)
      • Cruise missiles : 2059
      • Warships/boats: 26
      • Submarines: 1
      • Vehicles and fuel tanks: 14861 (+48)

Intelligence and technology

US State Dept: Russia has almost completely reconstituted militarily. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell asserts that Russia has nearly fully rebuilt its military after Ukraine invasion losses, a statement at odds with the Pentagon and European allies’ assessments, as reported by Defense News.

UK sends “mine plows” to aid Ukraine in demining. Ukraine, heavily mined due to the war, urgently needs sophisticated demining equipment for land clearance and citizen safety.

International

Polish President calls for NATO contribution increase to Cold War levels. Andrzej Duda is advocating for a substantial increase in NATO’s contribution from 2 to 3% of GDP

Finland to extend Russian border closure indefinitely. Finland extends its border closure with Russia indefinitely and adds ports to its travel ban list, in response to Moscow’s tactic of weaponizing migration by directing undocumented migrants to its border.

Politico: Biden’s team quietly collaborates with House Speaker Mike Johnson to secure Ukraine aid. Politico sources say US President Biden’s team is privately working with House Speaker Mike Johnson to navigate political and legislative hurdles to secure the passage of a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine, focusing on national security interests and bipartisan support.

Shoigu warns France against deploying troops to Ukraine in rare phone call. The Russian defense minister stated Macron’s idea would “create problems for France” in his first such call in 20 months.

German Foreign Minister: NATO is “central anchor of security” in Europe. Calling Russia’s war against Ukraine the “greatest-ever threat to peace in Europe,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has highlighted the alliance’s importance in maintaining peace and security in Europe

Ukraine seeks South Africa’s help in bringing back illegally detained, deported civilians from Russia. The Ukrainian ombudsman held a meeting with Shoayb Casoo, the ambassador of South Africa, in Ukraine to discuss the issue.

Kuleba to NATO: allies are not giving enough air defense. Ukraine’s partners are not providing enough air defense to protect against Russian missile attacks even though they have more than 100 Patriot systems in their own arsenals, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday.

Humanitarian and social impact

Reuters: US sanctions force Lukoil refinery to cut production by 40%. Russian oil refineries are reeling under Ukrainian drone strikes and sanctions limiting access to repairs

Ukraine launches military ombudsman to safeguard troops’ rights. Ukrainian soldiers have long been complaining about a number of issues, including rotation and demobilization.

Former US National Guard member facing child pornography charges joins Russian army. Facing disturbing allegations, American Wilmer Puello-Mota fled prosecution in Massachusetts, subsequently appearing in videos that show him joining Russian troops assaulting Ukraine.

Reuters: Russia’s gas ambitions hit snag as sanctions force Arctic LNG 2 to suspend operations. The main problem is a shortage of specialized LNG tankers: only three have been built, and South Korea withdrew from building more under US sanctions

Renewed protests in Vienna urging Raiffeisen Bank International to pull out of Russia. Protests gain new momentum with support of 50,000 petitioners on the day of Raiffeisen’s Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Ukrainian-born Republican Congresswoman Spartz says she not to vote for $ 60 bn Ukraine aid bill. Despite her personal ties to Ukraine, Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz is opposing the latest US aid bill

New developments

German firms involved in rebuilding Russian-occupied Mariupol, Monitor investigation finds. Gaps in EU sanctions have left room for German corporate involvement in Russian efforts to rebuild destroyed and occupied Mariupol, which has propaganda value for Putin.

Read our earlier daily review here

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