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The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

A wise person should probably steer clear of commenting on politics.

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Preamble

Diary

Summary of Links

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Preamble

Putin's plan A seems to have been for a lightning strike to take the capital Kiev and install a puppet government. That has failed due to the stubborn resistance of the Ukrainian military. Plan B was for 'rubblisation' of towns and cities to break the will of the Ukrainian people.

It now looks like plan C will be to capture as much of east Ukraine as possible and establish at minimum a land corridor between the Russian border and The Crimea taking in the ports of Mariupol, Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov, the city of Melitopol, and Kherson up to the east side of the river Dneiper.

Apart from supplying defensive weapons, NATO has been keen not to get directly involved and so far has ruled out boots on the ground and a 'no-fly' zone in order to avoid WWIII and the possibility of nuclear oblivion. This makes it likely Putin will be able to secure his land corridor and claim a victory, unless more powerful weapons are supplied

The United Nations as usual appears powerless to act.

It appears Putin was initially either badly advised or was over-confident and miscalculated the resistance of the Ukrainian people. The only way out will be an eventual negotiated settlement. Putin will be expecting an assurance Ukraine will never join NATO and planning to keep the territory captured from Ukraine in the east and south east. Ukraine will ideally want all its territory restored, including Crimea, and compensation (but we suspect little chance of either, unless Ukraine is able to deliver a knock out blow).

The more Ukraine can push back the Russians the better the peace deal is likely to be.

Here is a diary (or timeline) of events as they appear to us.

Diary

19th May (day 85)

The BBC reports more than 900 Ukrainian fighters from the Mariupol steel-works have been taken to a former prison colony in Russian-controlled Donetsk; 1,730 fighters from Azovstal have surrendered since 16 May, and there may be another 1,000 fighters trapped at the plant.

Click for BBC report: Russia says 900 Mariupol defenders sent to prison camp

18th May (day 84)

Azov garrison surrenders

It appears the Ukrainian forces trapped in the Azov steel-works have capitulated. Russia reports 700 soldiers have surrendered in the last 24 hours, making 1,000 in all.

The Western media speculates the Azov POW might be swapped for Russian POW, while there are calls in Russia for the men to be interrogated and tried for war crimes.

Putin's patience has paid off and he can claim a victory. There is talk of plans to clear a sunken ship and mines so Putin can bring reinforcements into the port of Mariupol by sea.

Further north Ukrainian forces are being hard pressed near Severodonetsk.

17th May (day 83)

About 264 wounded defenders are evacuated from the Azov steel plant in Mariupol. It seems as if some deal has been worked out in conjunction with the UN and Red Cross.

16th May (day 82)

Russia is said to be quietly mobilising and dribbling new troops into Ukraine.

Only 10% of the Luhansk region is now said to be under Ukrainian control compared to 30% at the beginning of March and the Russians want to capture the remainder including Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Russian forces are said to be pressing forward to the Bakhmut Severodonetsk highway from Popasna in an attempt to surround the defenders.

Ukrainian SF have blown bridges between Rubizhne and Severodonetsk to slow the Russian advance from the Izium direction.

Click for BBC report from near Izium - pinned down by Russian fire in key frontline village

Germany, France and Italy are proposing Putin calls a cease fire - that would reward him with a lot of captured territory, so if Ukraine is on the front foot they might not play ball.

15th May (day 81)

It's Sunday and in church we were reminded to Love our neighbour. Sadly Putin just brings death and misery to mankind, including Russian children who will have no fathers, Ukrainians who will have no homes, and those in the 'third world' who will die of starvation because supplies of food have been interrupted.

There are more reports of the depravity and brutality of Russian troops.

We wondered what it is like living in the occupied cities such as Melitopol, Kherson and Mariupol, and in villages where there are tales of rape and murder.

Finland and Sweden announce intent to join NATO.

MODUK says Russia has lost a third of their forces deployed in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accuses the West of declaring all out hybrid war against Russia.

14th May (day 80)

Comment

A few days ago it sounded like Ukraine was slowly losing ground, whilst today after some successful attacks it appears as though Ukraine could be winning, but the reality is probably stalemate, with both sides taking a severe battering.

Ukraine says 23% of its rail network has been destroyed.

Commentators on Twitter suggest Putin's tired forces are digging in with a view to retaining territory captured in the Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions and replacing the civil administrations. Further north Russian troops could attempt to push on towards Barinkove to the SW of Izium, and to Severodonetsk if lines of supply between Belgorod and Izium are not interrupted.

In the Kherson region Russian forces could try pressing on towards Mikolayiv in order to reach Odessa, and to the city of Zaporizhzyha.

At the moment it looks as though Ukraine has just enough assets to defend the current line, but not enough to mount a counter-offensive and push the Russians out.

13th May (day 79)

Ukrainians think they may get the upper hand by August and the war could be over by Christmas.

Russians suffer heavy losses attempting to cross the Siverskyi-Donets river.

Speculation Russia has given up trying to take Kharkiv.

Rumours that Putin has cancer and there may already be moves to replace him.

Speculation Putin has sacked his top General Valery Gerasimov.

ISW consider it possible Russia might announce annexation of the territory they have captured into the Russian Federation; then might threaten use of tactical nuclear missiles if any attempt were made to take the territory back.

Turkey says it does not feel favourable to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

12th May (day 78)

Russia said to be moving troops from Syria to Ukraine

11th May (day 77)

The PM signs bilateral treaties of mutual support with Sweden and Finland.

Click for BBC report: UK agrees mutual security deals with Finland and Sweden

Fighting continues over Snake Island which lies off the coast of Ukraine, SW of Odessa. Russia has been attempting to fortify the island with Air Defence Systems and Coastal Defence Missiles, which could aid the blockade of the port of Odessa and any attempt to establish a land corridor to Transnistria (see below).

Click for BBC report: Snake Island and battle for control in Black Sea

The Ukrainian counter attack continues to push Russian forces away from Kharkiv in the north and could threaten Russian supplies coming from Belgorod to Izium. However the Russians have reserves on their side of the border which could be moved to protect supply routes which have been forced eastwards, and reinforcements could be brought up from the Donbas.

Prof Michael Clarke speaking on Sky News expressed the opinion that Ukraine would likely not be capable of a larger offensives until the Summer or Autumn.

Russia continues to consolidate its positions and make small gains in the east.

Pounding attacks continue on the Azov steel plant in Mariupol where there will probably be a fight to the death.

Attacks have resumed on Odessa and the Dniester bridge in recent days. There is again some concern Russian troops in the break away district of Transnistria in Moldova might cause trouble. Russia has an estimated 1,500 soldiers in Transnistria, which Moscow refers to as a 'peace-keeping' force, and they have access to a large ammunition depot at Cobasna. Moldova has a very limited military capability but borders Romania which is a member of NATO.

There are rumours Belarus troops are on manouvre near the Ukrainian border in the north. President Lukashenka is a supporter of Moscow, but the people are less so and pundits think it unlikely Belarus troops would get directly involved in the war in Ukraine.

10th May (day 76)

Missile attacks on Odessa hit a warehouse and shopping mall.

The overall situation appears to be  'stalemate' with the Russians being able to  make little progress westwards and Ukraine not having the military capability to retake the captured areas. If Putin had sense he would dig in and call a ceasefire.

9th May (day 75)

May Day parade in Moscow.

Putin does not escalate the war in Ukraine by announcing general mobilization, but of course he could always do that later if he felt the war was not going his way. He explained he was forced into taking military action by the risk of NATO encroachment into Ukraine. Pundits think Putin is preparing for a long war in Ukraine - peace talks seem unlikely while both sides think they can win.

Click below for Radio Free Europe report from Mariupol:-

Weary residents look on in occupied Mariupol as Russia holds Victory Day Celebrations

8th May  (day 74)

Yesterday a school where 90 civilians were sheltering was bombed by the Russians at Bilohorivka 40 KM east of Kramatorsk. 60 civilians are feared dead in the rubble.

Click for BBC report: 60 people killed after bomb hits school, Zelensky says

Reports suggest the Russians have been consolidating their hold and edging forward making small gains in the east such as at Popasna and in the south east, but with significant loss of men and equipment. In the north east Ukrainian counter attacks are pushing the Russians away from Kharkiv.

A summary of events can be found on the Ukrainian Pravda website:-

Region reports: Russian missiles strike Mykolaiv, troops occupy government buildings in Kherson Region

For other situation reports for example by ISW and 'Jomini of the West' see Twitter links at the end.

Civilians are said to have evacuated the Azov steel plant, where the remaining 2,000 defenders in Mariupol seem prepared to fight to the death.

Tomorrow Moscow will celebrate victory over the Nazis in 1945. ABC News (owned by the Walt Disney Company) reports on what to expect:-

Russia's Victory Day to mark key milestone in war with Ukraine

Comment

No-one knows what Putin's war aims are so it's uncertain what he will do next; possibly he will make an announcement at tomorrow's May Day victory celebrations.

It is concerning that Putin's survival depends on winning and he does not appear to have a 'reverse gear'. The war could therefore grind on until either Putin captures the whole of Ukraine or begins to run out of soldiers and ammunition when he would no doubt restart peace negotiations intending to keep as much of the Ukrainian territory his forces have captured as possible.

7th May (day 73)

Today's reports

The last civilians are said to have been evacuated from the Azov steel plant in Mariupol.

The Ukrainian Pravda newspaper carries an update on the operational situation:-

General Staff: Armed Forces of Ukraine destroy Russian ammunition depot in Mykolaiv Region

The place names are unfamiliar, but here is a stab at the situation as reported.

Polissia front: marshy ground to the north. Russian troops near border; quiet.

Siverskyi front: possibly relates to Donets river running past Kharkiv and Donetsk. Russians reinforcing positions on Russian Kursk side of border; quiet.

Slobozanzkyi front: Russians shelling Kharkiv and flying drones over Izium. Russians blow 3 road bridges north east of Kharkiv to delay Ukrainian counter attacks - possibly suggesting the Russians do not plan to come back.

Donetsk and Tavriia front: probably refers to the area in the SE between Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson and the Black Sea, which includes Melitopol. Ukrainian troops being attacked along the line of contact.

Pivdennyi Buh front possibly referring to Southern Bug river which passes Mykolaiv: Ukrainian positions attacked with intent to deploy artillery and shell the city of Mykolaiv which halts progress to Odessa.

Ukrainians destroy Russian ammunition depot near Ivano-Kepyne about 60 Km to the east of the city of Mykolaiv.

Russian missiles hit the port of Odessa and surrounds.

Recent reports

There appear to have been no events of major importance during the previous two days.

Evacuations from the Azov steel plan, the port of Mariupol, and surrounds have continued; numbers of around 500 have been mentioned but not clear how many civilians have escaped from the bunkers of the Azov steel plant.

Attacks have continued on the defenders cornered in the Azov steel plant. Russia appears to be planning a victory parade in Mariupol on 9th May.

Click for Guardian report - Putin hopes to claim Mariupol as key prop in Victory Day celebrations, published 5th May

There were unconfirmed reports the Russian missile frigate Admiral Makarov commissioned in 2017 may have been damaged by a Neptune missile and is on fire in the Black Sea. Though reports were widely circulated this appears to be fake news.

Ukraine has been on the offensive and retaken towns to the north east of Kharkiv. Ostensibly this is to reduce shelling, but the city can still be hit by Russian missiles fired from further away.

The Ukrainian government website www.kmu.gov.ua/en which had been carrying a daily operational summary of events no longer works and is marked forbidden, but there is a new webpage www.war.ukraine.ua and if you click FOR MEDIA on the menu you will find links to some 'sanitised' key messages. For example:-

KEY MESSAGES ON RUSSIA'S WAR AGAINST UKRAINE as of 6th May

The website Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre relays a similar timeline.

6th May (day 72)

No diary entry

5th May (day 71)

Missile attacks on Kramatorsk where Russians claim an ammunition depot was destroyed.

Now too dangerous to evacuate civilians from Popasna.

Bridge and railway network attacked in Dnipro:-

The Amur bridge which carries road and rail traffic across the Dnieper river was damaged as Russia continues to attack lines of supply from the West.

4th May (day 70)

Attacks reported on 3 electricity substations and 6 railway stations near Lviv in the far west; this is presumably to disrupt the transport of arms from western nations. It also disrupts the water supply to Lviv.

Bus station hit in Avdiivka north of Donetsk killing and injuring civilians.

Oil facility on fire at Makeyevka north east of Donetsk; this may be a Russian asset.

Russian forces are thought to be preparing another push from Izium towards Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk in order to secure a firmer hold on the Donbas.

Civilians from Tokmak and Vasylika are to be evacuated to Zaporizhzhya which suggests Russia is gaining some ground in the region of Kherson.

Pundits say it would be very difficult for Ukraine to retake the land corridor to Crimea were Russians to blow the bridges across the Dnieper river, immediately to the east of the city of Kherson.

That might be viewed as bad news in Ukraine, but on the plus side it could signal Russia did not intend to press on to Odessa and a possible end to hostilities, giving Putin a way out. Russia might then hold onto its gains in the Donbas and the land corridor to Crimea including the port of Mariupol.

That said, the latest news from the government of Ukraine suggests Putin is pressing on to capture as much of Ukraine as he can:-

The operational update regarding the Russian invasion at 18:00 hours on May 4th 2022 link no longer works

3rd May (day 69)

Sounds like the Russians are bringing in reinforcements and consolidating their positions with a view to holding present ground, while possibly pressing further west.

Click for BBC Ukraine war in maps: Tracking the Russian invasion

Russians shell and bomb Avdiivka (Avdeyevka) and Vuhledar (Ugledar) near Donetsk in the east, and Lyman on the outskirts of Odessa in the south.

Ukraine retakes Staryi Saltiv NE of Kharkiv.

Russian submarines, which are firing missiles into Ukraine and being supplied from the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, could become vulnerable if Ukraine ia able to procure state of the art missiles.

Click for Ukraine government operational update link no longer works

Boris Johnson addresses the Ukrainian parliament via a video link.

Click for text of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address to the Ukrainian Parliament: 3 May 2022

In the evening it is reported 127 civilians evacuated from Mariupol reach Ukrainian controlled Zaporizhzyha.

Click for BBC report - Relief as Mariupol steelworks refugees arrive to safety

An example of war crimes and barbarism

The Guardian newspaper carried a report on Saturday 30th April:-

How the barbaric lessons learned in Syria came to haunt one small Ukrainian village

Broadcaster John Simpson says on Twitter 'this is enough to show the appalling reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These things will never be forgotten by Russia’s neighbours'.

You must read the report and make up your own mind, but it seems clear to us amongst the Russian conscripts there are thieves, rapists and murderers committing cruel and brutal acts - people who in the normal world should be in prison.

At the Azov steel works

Russia steps up attacks on the defenders in the Azov steel works immediately after some civilians are evacuated. The defenders are in bunkers and tunnels so will be hard to dislodge, as the British found after they shelled German positions before the Battle of the Somme.

Comment

It's interesting the way nations respond to war. In Afghanistan the men chose not to fight and surrendered themselves to Taliban rule, which has set women's rights back 100 years. The Kurds fiercely fought the Islamic State and likewise Ukrainians are fighting Putin's forces.

We must all be concerned whether or not this war will escalate into a conflict involving the whole of Europe.

Well in a way that is already happening in terms of sanctions, military aid, inflation, and fuel and food shortages in the pipeline; military action has already spread outside the borders of Ukraine, with military targets being attacked inside Russia.

The only question left is will Russia attack NATO? Putin has already lost a lot of men and equipment, so he would be unwise to escalate, but who knows what an irrational Dictator will do.

Putin is essentially playing a game  of Poker with the West, for very high stakes; one suspects logic has flown out the window.

2nd May (day 68)

Ukraine retakes Ruska Lozova to stop the shelling of Kharkiv; it's possible logistics from Belgorod could be interrupted if Ukraine makes further gains in the north.

Ukrainian drones drop 'missiles' and damage two Russian Raptor patrol boats near Snake Island in the Black Sea.

UEFA bans Russia from international football tournaments.

More reporting on civilians being evacuated from Mariupol. Seems they have not yet reached Zaporizhzyha and it's not clear how many, but a figure of just 100 or so has been mentioned.

The Russians have been transporting military equipment and supplies from Belgorod to Izium then trying to break out SW to Barvenkovo and SE to Slovyansk, but with little success.

There is a Russian build up in Kherson, but not clear whether this is consolidation, diversion or heralds an attempt to try for Odessa.

There is a missile strike on Odessa, and a further attack on the bridge across the Dienester estuary.

Russian missiles strike grain warehouses and a silo in the Dnipro region.

There are fears Putin could announce a general mobilisation at Russia's May Day parade in Moscow which would ratchet up the threat of a full blown European war.

European support for Ukraine is not all it might be. Turkey, a member of NATO, plans to ignore the ban on air travel and fly in Russian holidaymakers. Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia are highly dependent on Russian oil and gas and continue to finance Russia's war machine. Many Germans are fearful of antagonising Putin. As one might expect, business and fear largely trump morality.

Click for Ukraine government operational update link no longer works

1st May (day 67)

Comment

It's Sunday the first of May 2022. Reporting from Ukraine is limited and it's too dangerous for journalists to be on the front line, but here is a summary of what seems to be going on gleaned from Twitter; it's largely conjecture on our part:-

Russia has captured a large part of the Donbas in the east and Kherson in the south, and seems to be strengthening its grip on the territory it holds.

Russian troops continue to press forward aggressively, so Putin can claim a political victory for Russia's May Day parade on the 9th of the month. The Russian army has gained a little ground, but has met fierce resistance, lost a lot of armoured vehicles, and the tempo of fighting could be slowing

Russia is still attempting to take more territory in the east, for example around Severodonetsk and could be planning a breakout from Zaporizhzyha to Kryvyi Rih from where troops would either have the option to head north for Kiev or continue west to meet up with dissidents in Transnistria, Moldova.

A further assault to attempt to take or bypass Mikolayiv in order to capture Odessa and join up with Russian troops posing as freedom fighters in the break away region of Transnistria in Moldova cannot be ruled out.

In counter-attacks Ukraine claims to have retaken the villages of Verkhnia Rohanka, Ruska Lozova, and Slobidske to the north and east of Kharkhiv, and could make further gains in other areas once more arms flow in from the West and troops are trained how to use them. That could be a month away and in the meantime Ukraine needs to hold the line as best it can.

There seem to be elements in Germany who are supportive of Russia, and Germany has made alternative arrangements to continue buying oil and gas in Roubles, thus funding Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This is because Germany is so dependant on Russian gas, but were purchases to stop Putin would be brought to his knees.

Following the UN Secretary General's visit to Moscow and Kiev about 50 women and children have been evacuated from Mariupol by UN coaches; but there are possibly 1,000 more needing to be rescued.

Russia has cut fibre optic cables interrupting communications to Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, and is introducing the Rouble as currency in captured areas.

Ukraine accuses Russia of deporting Ukrainians to Russia and bringing Russians into Ukraine. Russia is said to be transporting stolen Ukrainian tractors, harvesters and grain to Russia.

There are reports of a Ukrainian attack on a Russian 2nd Army Command Post near Izium where a Russian general was killed and others injured. It is reported that Putin’s Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov was one of the injured and evacuated to Belgorod by helicopter. A military warehouse in Belgorod is reported on fire.

Russia ought soon to be happy with their gains so may propose a cease fire - perhaps planning to nibble away more Ukrainian territory at a later date.

Ukraine may want to fight on in the hope of reclaiming captured territory, once armed with weapons from the West, in which case some think that the war could go on for months or even years.

30th April (day 66)

 Fierce fighting is reported in east Donbas where Russia has edged forwards, and heavy losses - the Battle of the Donbas is turning into a battle of attrition. Some think the Russian attack may peter out in a week or so, after Putin's May Day parade on 9th May. Others worry if Putin suffers too severe a setback he may declare war on Ukraine and mobilise reserves increasing the possibility of war with NATO.

Missile attacks put the runway at Odessa airport out of action. There is violence nearby in the Transnistria region of Moldova, where a Russian garrison is maintained, which could be 'False Flag' operations by Russia hoping to open up another front and take more of the coastline around Odessa.

An unconfirmed report suggests a small Russian sabotage group may have been planning to attack the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant at Pivdennoukrainsk which lies about 150Km north of Odessa and 300 Km west of Zaporizhzhya near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk.

There was mention yesterday of British volunteers captured by the Russian military:

Sky News reports Paul Urey and Dylan Healy were captured at a Russian checkpoint in Zaporizhzysa attempting to rescue a Ukrainian family.

The BBC reports Aidan Aslin and Shaun Pinner surrendered near Mariupol.

Sky News reports Andrew Hill surrendered near Mykolayiv.

Sky News reports Scott Sibley was killed nearby.

The latter had possibly joined the Ukraine Foreign Legion.

29th April (day 65)

The Russians fired 5 missiles into the city of Kiev while the UN Secretary General was there. One draws the conclusion Putin was 'sticking up a finger' at the UN.

Two British voluntary workers evacuating civilians were reported captured at a Russian checkpoint in Zaporizhzhya.

On BBC Newsnight pundits said the immediate aim was to stop the Russian advance in Ukraine. Then there must be a discussion within NATO to agree how far to push the Russians back and bring an end to the conflict.

28th April (day 64)

Putin says any country that intervenes in his special military operation will face a lightning-fast response.

Not only that Putin claims if necessary he’s prepared to use all the tools no-one can boast of which is presumably a threat to use nuclear weapons to deter the West from providing aid to Ukraine.

Lavrov tells the West their personnel and weapon systems in Ukraine will be considered legitimate targets.

The UN Secretary General is now in Ukraine and will be meeting with President Zelensky later today. The UN chief has visited Borodyanka to view the destroyed city and was appalled by what he saw.

The UN would ideally like to evacuate 1,000 civilians from the Azov steel plant area tomorrow.

Click for France24 report - War is an absurdity says UN chief during visit to Ukraine’s Borodianka

One wonders what has happened to the remainder of the 400,000 population of Mariupol as a result of Putin's siege and pounding the city into rubble; surely the final tally of civilian casualties will be horrendous.

Click for Washington Post commentary on recent events:-

Putin using energy as a weapon, Zelensky says; Biden to speak on Ukraine

27th April (day 63)

Comment - the march to war

The drumbeats are getting louder as Western nations gradually realise they have to stop Putin. The period of sitting on the fence is over and Russia knows it. NATO countries are now supplying tanks and artillery seemingly having decided the threat of nuclear war is unlikely - provided the conflict can be contained within Ukraine.

With the Russians now making small gains in the Donbas and likely to make a pincer movement to surround the Ukrainian defenders before pushing further west, and the possibility of Russia capturing Mykolaiv and then pushing towards Odessa, Russia could yet claim a huge victory.

If the Russians are stopped roughly where they are Putin could still claim a Victory in taking the east Donbas and establishing a land corridor to Crimea.

Either way Putin will be able to claim a victory, unless Ukraine can push the Russian army back to it's start line and that is looking unlikely at the moment.

Today

We are picking up most news from Twitter, the BBC and Sky News which mostly present a Western viewpoint and it's all broad brush stuff.

Explosions are reported at a Russian ammunition depot near the settlement of Irmino which is situated east of Popasna (also known as Popasnaya) and 30 miles west of Luhansk.

 A few days ago there were reports of explosions at fuel and ammunition depots near Belgorod in Russia north of Kharkiv and Twitter reports suggest there may have been many other acts of sabotage in Russia and Belarus.

Pundits say the longer range artillery given to Ukraine should help the defenders.

Russians are reported to be in Kupyansk in the north of the city of Kharkiv, in Svatove close to the city of Luhansk, and Zavody south west of Izium.

Concerningly, Russians are said to be on the outskirts of Kamyshevakha which looks to be well on the way to Dnipro. The Russians have been on the outskirts of Zaporizhzhya for some time and occupied the large Nuclear Power Plant, which has six reactors, last month.

Bing maps seem a good place to find these locations:

https://www.bing.com/maps

Sky News reports from Kramatorsk that Russia is making small gains and there have been fierce artillery duels.

Twitter reports the attrition of Russian armour has increasing significantly in recent days - suggesting Russia's operational pause is over and its troops are now pressing forward.

US spokesmen say they want to see Russia seriously weakened.

Putin is angry and threatens 'severe action' against those who interfere with his military operation. As far as we know Russia has not declared war on Ukraine - Putin has just invaded it.

Radio 5 this morning

At 7:10 am on the Breakfast show Dr Samuel Ramani of Oxford University spoke about the situation in Ukraine. He was followed at 8:20 am by Rear Admiral Chris Parry who thought that Russia would attempt to take Odessa and Moldova by the 9th May.

General Lord Donnatt followed at 9:49 am on the Nicky Campbel show. He thought a ceasefire, negotiation, and compromise would be needed to end the war and that realistically Ukraine would have to give up 15% of its territory, leaving the Donbas and Crimean corridor in Russian hands.

In the evening UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss made a speech at the Manor House saying Russian forces must be pushed out of the whole of Ukraine.

Click for BBC report - Push Russia out of whole of Ukraine, says Truss

26th April (day 62)

Russians continue to make small gains in the Donbas. Novotoshkivske near Popasna taken, Kreminna confirmed taken. Long column of Russian tanks heading for Slovyansk. Ukrainian soldiers say they are taking a hammering.

In the south the bridge across the Dniester estuary connecting Odessa to the tip of Ukraine, Moldova and carrying the only rail link to Romania is badly damaged by missile attacks.

Two radio masts near Mayak in the breakaway region on Transnistria which broadcast Russian radio were badly damaged. Transnistria is part of Moldova but leans towards Russia and has Russian troops stationed there. Some pundits suspect Russia will attempt to capture Odessa and establish a land corridor with Transnistria.

Some Western politicians are beginning to say that 'Russia cannot be allowed to win' without declaring what that means.

UK Defence Minister James Heappey speaking on TV backed Ukraine's right to attack lines of supply inside Russia with British weapons.

Russia says it will cut off the supply of Natural Gas to Poland and Bulgaria because they won't pay in Roubles. Possibly a warning to Germany who rely on Russian gas.

The UN Secretary General visited Russia to discuss evacuation of Mariupol with Putin and Lavrov. Little reported so we assume Putin was not interested; his priority seeemed to be handing medals to Olympic gymnasts.

25th April (day 61)

Fires at civil and military oil storage depots at Bryansk in Russia north of Kharkiv. Cause unknown but pundits have suggested possibly Bayraktar TB2 drones or Tochka-U ballistic missiles.

Railway line in Russia bringing material into Ukraine blown up; possibly by Ukrainian SF

Grenade attack on a ministry building in Transnistria a Russian backed break away region in Moldova.

Red Cross aid to Krvyi Rih which lies to the north of Kherson and west of Zaporizhzia.

Russians strike 5 railway stations, junctions, and electricity substations in an attempt to slow the flow of weapons from the West.

Missiles attacks on the city of Kremenchuk which lies to the west of Dnipro.

Russian build up near Huliaipole to the east of Zaporizhzia.

Unexplained explosion in Kreminna occupied by Russians.

In the north of the Donbas Lysachansk, Severodonetsk, Rubhizne, Bakhmut, Kreminna and Popasna are being fought over. Further to the north Kharkiv and Saltivka continue to be shelled.

US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence meet with Zelensky in Kiev and promise more aid.

Russia tells the United States to stop sending more arms to Ukraine.

The Russians have continued to make small gains in east Donbas and Putin could stop now and claim a victory, but he shows no sign of doing so.

24th April (day 60)

It's Easter Sunday in the Orthodox church.

Not much to report. Russians are said to have made small gains for heavy losses; two more Russian generals reported killed.

23rd May (day 59)

President Zelensky holds a large press conference in an underground metro station in Kiev. Exhorts parents to protect their children. Says US Secretary of State and Secretary for Defence will visit Kiev tomorrow.

Defenders in Azov steel plant bombed; no evacuation from Mariupol.

Cruise missiles probably launched from aircraft hit military facilities and apartments in Odessa.

22nd April (day 58)

In Ukraine it is Holy Friday of Easter in the Orthodox Church.

There is a Russian missile attack on a hospital in Bashtanka a small town to the north of Mykolayiv. It's not clear why the Russians would do that unless planning to skirt round Mykolayiv either in order to capture Odessa or head north for Kiev.

Russian General Rustan Minnekayev provides a clue in saying Russia wants to sieze South Ukraine and open a route to Transnistria a break away district in Moldova.

Russia is said to have taken 42 villages but not advanced very far.

Heavy shelling continues in Kharkhiv

Russia is pressing south from Izium, fighting in Rubizhne and hopes eventually to take Kramatorsk.

See a map of the region

Putin's Special Military Operation is renamed Operation Defend Donbas.

PM Boris Johnson says the war in Ukraine could go on till the end of next year.

Either not a great deal is happening or there is an enveloping cloak of secrecy, as the media has little to report.

21st April (day 57)

The Battle of the Donbas may be just warming up. Ukraine rumoured to have more T72 tanks from neighbouring countries possibly creating parity with the Russian force.

Russians occupying Popasna in the Sievierodonetsk region but Ukraine claims to hold Rubizhne.

So far Ukraine seems to be largely holding the line roughly running north south from Izium to Mariupol.

Russia holds most of Mariupol and plans to seal off defenders in the Azov steel plant. Ukraine has been talking about evacuating the defenders and civilians so it's likely Putin will be able to announce capturing Mariupol  and the success of his specialised military operation at Moscow's May Day parade.

20th April (day 56)

Ukraine claims to have retaken Marinka which lies to the north of Mariupol in the Donetsk region.

The Ukrainian commander of the defending force trapped within the Azov steel plant in Mariupol says he is outnumbered and running out of supplies and this may be his last broadcast. It sounds as though only days or hours remain.

Click for BBC report - Mariupol commander makes 'last' plea for help

19th April (day 55)

Russia says 1,260 attacks were launched last night, and there is said to be activity across the 300 mile long eastern front. Ukraine confirms Russia now has control of Kreminna.

Bonker busting bombs are dropped on the defenders in Mariupol. The defenders are once again invited to surrender between 2 pm and 4 pm Moscow time.

Ukraine counter attacks around Kharkiv and Kherson.

What people are saying

Finland and Sweden may apply for NATO membership around 10th July 2022.

Putin has triggered Cold War 2. NATO forces will be strengthened and there will be tension in countries adjoining Russia for decades.

China , Brazil and Africa are not interested in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and simply waiting to see what happens.

Ukraine needs more heavy weapons such as tracked Howitzers and SU24 ground attack aircraft.

Defence Committee hearing

The Defence Committee chaired by Tobias Ellwood interviewed retired General Richard Barrons.

Click for UK Defence Committee video on Parliament TV

Barrons suggested that weapons were being supplied to Ukraine as a delaying action to give time for NATO to reset; Ukraine might possibly halt the Russian advance, but unlikely to roll it back.

The best scenario was likely to be a military stalemate by late spring; then possibly an insurgency while Ukraine rearmed with the intention of throwing Russia out.

Ukraine is using up weapons faster than they can be supplied.

Should Russia begin to win, NATO would have to decide whether or not to commit air power and naval forces with boots on the ground as a last resort.

NATO would have to respond if there was a Russian incursion into NATO territory, but if this was a minor incursion it might be met by just a minor response.

Use of Chemical Weapons could be met by cutting all financial links with Russia and an attack on the source.

Most countries expected to cut ties with Russia were tactical nuclear weapons to be used.

18th April (day 54)

Comment - the march to war

This year Holy Week in the Orthodox Church in Ukraine falls a week later than in the UK, and it looks like Putin has chosen this week to lauch his military offensive in the Donbas.

The drumbeats are getting louder as NATO finds itself getting dragged into the war in Ukraine. The West cannot afford to let Putin win; likewise Putin cannot afford to lose face.

Putin has 'thrown down the gauntlet' and challenged the US and its allies to stop supplying arms; given Russian atrocities in Ukraine the West should now assume that a negotiated peace is unlikely; this means Putin will have to be stopped by force of arms. Can the US and NATO help Ukraine achieve this while containing the conflict within Ukraine so as to avoid a third world war?

One wonders if:

  •  arms can be delivered to Ukraine quickly enough to hamper Russian lines of communication and either halt or reverse the Russian offensive;

  • Mariupol can yet be saved;

  • the blockade in the Black Sea can be unblocked..

Today

Phase 2 of the invasion - the expected Russian offensive in the east of Ukraine appears to have started.

There are reports on the BBC of aircraft launching missiles with hits on military warehouses in Lviv; missiles also hit other areas including Kramatorsk and Luhansk.

 Click for CNN report - Multiple parts of eastern Ukraine hit by heavier fighting

Russians are reported to be entering Kreminna but could they be halted if their lines of supply are interrupted?

Pictures appear of the sinking Russian missile cruiser Moskva eg:

Click for Daily Mail report on sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva

17th April (day 53)

Easter Sunday in UK.

Russia offers defenders in Mariupol a last chance to surrender, else there will be No Quarter implying combatants are likely to be slaughtered rather than being taken prisoner. No surrender so a fight to the death looks likely, as at the Alamo.

There have been air attacks over 3 nights which Russia says is in response to Ukrainian helicopter attacks on Russian villages but this is more likely retaliation after the sinking of the Moskva (for pictures see above).

16th April (day 52)

Russia bans visits by PM Boris Johnson and other politicians

Russia is reported to have cut off the water supply to the strategic city of Mykolaiv which protects Odessa.

More missile strikes near Kiev and Lviv.

Russians accused of digging up bodies in Mariupol and burning corpses in truck mounted mobile Crematoria to destroy evidence of war crimes.

Putin says any attack on Russian soil would have grave consequences - which is pretty cheeky as Russia has attacked and devastated cities in Ukraine such as Mariupol.

Putin warns US and allies to stop sending arms to Ukraine.

15th April (day 51)

Clive Myrie talks on BBC Radio 5 about interview with President Zelensky. He says he looks tired and needs tanks and artillery NOW.

Russian missile attack on factory producing NEPTUNE anti-ship missiles near Kiev.

Russia warns Finland and Sweden not to join NATO.

Russia accuses Ukraine of attacks by helipcopters on Russian villages.

14th April 2022 (day 50)

Radio 5 breakfast news reports that the Russian Missile Cruiser Moskva is on fire in the Black Sea. Ukraine claims to have hit the ship with Neptune Cruise Missiles.

Click for BBC report - Russian warship Moskva: What do we know?

Later in the day the Moskva sinks while being towed back to port.

At 7:42 am Frank Gardner said on BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast that there had been an operational pause in the fighting while Russia licked its wounds and regrouped ready for the expected big battle in the Donbas; the result of which may decide the outcome of the war. What has Russia achieved so far?

  • Over 10,000 Russian troops killed.

  • Sanctions.

  • Lost a lot of generals.

  • Lasting enmity of most Ukrainians - except dissidents in the self proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia continues to attack key points with missiles, with special focus on taking Mariupol.

USA approves $800M aid package for Ukraine.

The three main areas of support for Ukraine are:

  • weapons, military training, and battlefield intelligence;

  • sanctions;

  • refugees and humanitarian aid.

Russia says vehicles carrying US and NATO military aid within Ukraine will be legitimate targets.

Click for Aljazeera - Ukraine war news

13th April 2022 (day 49)

President Biden says Putin's invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, after seeing reports from Bucha and surrounds. It can therefore be assumed Biden now supports the ramping up of weaponry, such as MIG29s.

Professor Gwythian Prins speaking on Radio Hereford and Worcester at 08:42 this morning said he did not disagree with Biden, but Putin could certainly be accused of the crime of aggression. The West now needs to be prepared for war with Russia, should it come to that.

Putin is aiming for a five to one force advantage so he can take the Donbas, but Gwythian Prins seems to think that the smaller but better trained Ukrainian army still has a chance of halting and possibly defeating the Russian army in the east. That's difficult to imagine seeing videos of large convoys being brought into theatre by the Russians, but who knows what armaments are on their way from the West?

Click for Aljazeera report - Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: List of key events on day 49

Click for Voice of America - Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 13

12th April 2022 (day 48)

The governor of Belgorod (in Russia to the north of Kharkiv) said that train tracks in the Shebekinsky district were damaged - possibly by Ukrainian forces attempting to delay Russian reinforcements on their way to Izium.

Reports of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women may be investigated by the UN.

Unconfirmed reports of the use of chemical weapons in Mariupol, after articles in Pravda suggesting the defenders need to be 'smoked out'. Ukrainian marines in Mariupol said to be running low on supplies. Therefore a good chance Putin will be able to declare the seizure of Mariupol at his May Day Victory parade.

Kharkiv continues to be shelled and was hit by cluster munitions yesterday. The towns of Rubizhne and Papasna nearer Luhansk are also being shelled

Click for Aljazeera report - Kyiv warns Russia planning large assault in eastern Ukraine

The BBC reported Russian tanks advancing towards the front-line near Luhansk this morning.

Putin says he will continue until his all his goals are achieved - but pundits are unsure what Putin's goals are. Will he settle for taking more of the Donbas and Mariupol or will he attempt to push further out to Dnipro and Odessa. No doubt that will very much depend on the resistance he meets and only time will tell.

11th April 2022 (day 47)

Large Russian convoy of lorries and armoured personnel carriers seen passing through Matveev Kurgan presumably on its way to reinforce Donetsk.

Click for BBC update on the situation in Ukraine

Click for Voice of America report - Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 11 2022

10th April 2022 (day 46)

More Russian atrocities reported at Makariv near Bucha.

Russian rocket attacks destroy Dnipro airport.

Click for Aljazeera report - Russian rockets destroy airport in Ukrainian city of Dnipro

A large 8 mile Russian armoured convoy was seen near Velkyi Burku 2 days ago believed to be headed for Izium, where a possible attack on Sloviansk is likely - part of a move to gain more ground around Donetsk and Luhansk.

Twitter reports residents of the Kursk region waving off Russian soldiers going to war in Ukraine.

Many Russians still believe Putin's propaganda and don't see the damage he is doing or believe srories of atrocities.

Comment

The situation has been relatively quiet for a few days while the Russians withdraw from the north of Ukraine and bring in reinforcements in the east. A new general Alexander Dvornikov has been brought in to coordinate the invasion of Ukraine.

The terrain in east Ukraine is flat so there is bound to be a lot of bloodshed on both sides if Russia seeks to gain further territory, as no doubt it will in pursuance of Putin's desire for a 'May Day' victory.

Military aid from Western nations has a long way to go the reach the frontline in the east, so there is now likely to be a race on both sides to see who can get the upper hand.

9th April 2022 (day45)

The media reports PM Boris Johnson's visit to meet President Zelensky in Ukraine.

Britain promises more military aid; the media speculates this may include 120 armoured vehicles and HARPOON anti-ship missiles to see off the Russian Navy blockading Odessa.

8th April 2022 (day 44)

Rocket attack on Kramatorsk railway station where several thousand people were waiting to be evacuated; 52 killed and 100 wounded.

Click for BBC report - Rockets hits Kramatorsk station

Britain to provide more military aid to Ukraine

Click for government press release - UK to bolster defensive aid to Ukraine with new £100m package

7th April 2022 (day 43)

The UN votes by a narrow margin to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. 58 countries abstained, including Syria and many African countries receiving aid from Russia.

More Russian atrocities reported in Borodyanka.

Pundits think it will take at least a week for Russia to bring in reinforcements in the east, and that Putin may want a big victory to announce at the May Day parade on the 9th May.

Others suggest that the West should think carefully about the outcome of the war. Would a crushing defeat of Russian forces in Ukraine be a good outcome, or should Putin be allowed a way out that he can claim as a victory for his Special Operation. This may influence the type and number of heavy weapons supplied to Ukraine which they need now to repel the expected Russian attack in the Donbas.

Looking at a map of Ukraine the towns likely to come under attack in April include,

  • Izium

  • Sloviansk, including Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk

  • Kramatorsk

  • Druzhkivka

  • Torcetsk and Bakhmut

Click for Guardian article - As Ukraine war enters new phase, can western arms turn the tide?

Click for another map from the Political Geography Now website showing population centres of east Ukraine dated September 2020

6th April 2022 (day 42)

A Red Cross team leads a convoy of buses and private cars with between 500 and 1,000 people from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia.

A Russian spearhead is by-passing Kharkiv to the SE and there is fierce fighting around Izium; the next step south would be to capture Sloviansk.

Civilians are urged to leave the Donbas region while they can as a renewed Russian assault is expected.

The UN is to vote on suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council tomorrow.

The Czech Republic has offered to supply Ukraine with some T72 tanks and other vehicles.

5th April 2022 (day 41)

President Zelenky briefs the UN about Russian atrocities and asks if the UN should dissolve itself should it be powerless to act. He suggests Russia is expelled from the Security Council.

The media is full of stories about Russian atrocities.

Street fighting continues in the area of ​​Rubizhne and Popasna (Luhansk region) in east Ukraine, and Mariupol continues to be bombarded.

The Daily Express thinks the story of the surrender of 267 Ukrainian marines to Russian forces in Mariupol is Fake News.

4th April 2022 (day 40)

Many media stories about Russian atrocities in Hostomel, Bucha and Irpen; for example the murder of civilians with their hands bound behind their backs.

Russia says the killing of civilians is fake news and they have instead brought aid; few believe it.

US senators are strongly united in saying Putin must be dealt with. President Biden praises Boris Johnson for taking the lead in supporting Ukraine.

Civilians being evacuated from the city of Kramatorsk north of Donetsk in expectation of a Russian attack.

Shelling of civilian areas of Kharkiv continues.

Click for BBC update on the War in Ukraine

A concise summary of the military situation can be found on The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) website:

Click for - Russian Offensive Campaign assessment 3rd April 2022

3rd April 2022 (day 39)

The media leads with stories of Russian atrocities in Bucha to the NW of Kiev.

Missiles hit oil refineries and depots in Odessa.

The newspapers remind us that the Black Sea is mined and that the Russian is preventing goods coming into Ukraine by sea.

Russia says it is too soon for Putin to meet Zelensky for peace talks. Putin obviously hope to steal more territory, including Mariupol.

Russia still preventing Red Cross access to Mariupol.

President Zelensky raises issue of rebuilding after the war.

2nd April 2022 (day 38)

Russian troops are now either retreating or pulling back north of Kiev, and President Zelensky is expecting a more concerted attack in the east once Russia has regrouped. Russia is alleged to have hired ruthless Wagner mercenaries to join the fight.

Pundits are thinking Ukraine must obtain a decisive victory in order to bring the Russians to the negotiating table and for this to happen the West will have to increase the supply of heavy weaponry to Ukraine.

The port of Mariupol remains a key objective for the Russians.

Click for BBC report - Why Mariupol is so important to Russia's plan

Putin is maintaining his grip on the outskirts of Mariupol, planning to bombard and starve out the Ukrainian Azov Brigade. They are reputed to be fearsome fighters and obviously the Russians are not prepared to take them on in hand-to-hand fighting in order to secure the port.

The Red Cross is eager to bring in humanitarian aid from Zaporizhzhia  for the starving population of Mariupol but we think Putin will have none of that until either the city falls or Ukraine sends in a relief column.

There has been a prisoner swap with 86 Ukranian soldiers returned.

Civilians murdered by the retreating Russian army have been found lying by the roadside in Bucha to the west of Kiev.

Click for LBC report - Russian troops accused of slaughtering civilians as they withdraw from Bucha near Kyiv

The Ukrainian Red Cross has delivered humanitarian aid to Okhtyrka in Sumy province to the north. Aid was also delivered to Severodetsk and Lysychansk in the east of Ukraine not far from occupied Luhansk.

Red Cross was prevented from entering Mariupol for a third time.

Maks Levin's body is found near Kiev; he is the sixth journalist to have died in Ukraine and it is suspected he was murdered by the Russians.

1st April 2022 (day 37)

Red Cross prevented from entering Mariupol by Russians.

Russian troops occupying the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl have left, the plant's staff say.

A Russian official says two Ukrainian army helicopters attacked a Russian fuel depot on April 1 in the Russian city of Belgorod, located north of Kharkiv.

On 29 March explosions had been reported at an ammunition depot near Belgorod.

31st March 2022 (day 36)

A day marked by outspoken briefings suggesting Russia could lose this war.

Sir Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ the United Kingdom’s intelligence, cyber and security agency spoke to the Australian National University (ANU) National Security College on 31 March 2022

Click for YouTube video - GCHQ Director Sir Jeremy Fleming on the 'generational upheaval' of global security

Click for full text of Director GCHQ's speech on global security amid war in Ukraine

To quote a piece that has appeared in news reports:

That said, it increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation. It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanise. He under-played the economic consequences of the sanctions regime. He over-estimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory. We’ve seen Russian soldiers – short of weapons and morale - refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft.

Minister of Defence Ben Wallace said 'Russia's ambitions to take Kyiv and the whole of the country quickly have fallen apart and in many ways Vladimir Putin has already lost'.

Click for Sky News report

The Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radikin addressed the Institute for Government and also said 'in many ways Putin has already lost'.

Click for YouTube video - The future of UK defence: In conversation with David Williams and Admiral Sir Tony Radakin

Beth Rigby interviews:-

Beth Rigby talks to the Mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko who says he's ready to die for his country

Ex boxer Vitali Klitschko doesn't want to see Ukrainian land gifted to Russia as a 'compromise' after so many Ukranians have given their lives in defence of their country. What compromise he says, Russia takes, and gives nothing.

Beth Rigby talks to ex MI6 officer Christopher Steele who said he can't see a way back for Putin

An Australian website carried two articles the first of which says Putin has made a big mistake, and the second that Ukraine must be prepared to compromise.

Vladimir Putin made a terrible mistake, and his concessions on Ukraine are a sign of his weakened position By Patrick Cockburn

Time to talk peace terms with Russia by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, New York

Ukraine is reported to have retaken the towns of Sloboda and Luhashivka south of Chernihiv.

Click for Radio Free Europe report - Ukraine Has Retaken Villages Of Sloboda, Lukashivka, says British Intelligence

A Red Cross convoy planned to enter Mariupol with supplies and lead civilians out, but has been blocked; will try again tomorrow. The Russians will oppose supplies being taken in - they are trying to starve out the defenders.

Putin decrees gas must be paid for in Roubles, but EU says no.

Britain sanctions 'Butcher of Mariupol' Russian general Mikhail Mizintsev  accused of massacring 300 civilians in theatre attack; the head of Russia Today, and 12 more Kremlin allies as Liz Truss blasts Putin's 'torrent of lies' about the invasion of Ukraine.

Click for Daily Mail report

30th March 2022 (day 35)

Russia said it would reduce military combat operations around the capital Kyiv and northern city of Chernihiv. This may simply be acceptance of the fact the Russian advance has been stopped by Ukrainian forces.

Click for BBC report - Russia says it will curb Kyiv assault as peace talks progress

There has been speculation in recent days that Russia will start a pincer movement bringing troops down from near Kharkiv and up from Kherson in an attempt to surround Ukraine troops in the east and capture as much of the Donbas and Ukrainian territory alongside the Back Sea as possible, including the port of Mariupol in order to provide a land corridor between The Crimea and the west Russian border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that shelling of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol will only end when Ukrainian troops surrender.

Click for BBC report - Putin demands Mariupol surrender to end shelling

The BBC reports shelling close to the rural town of Orikhiv which lies to the east of Zaporizhzia and north of Melitopol. Presumably from Russian forces from Crimea which have taken Kherson and Melitopol in the SE and now hope to advance northwards.

Estimates of how much longer the war will go on for range from one to several months. Some pundits think sanctions will not work and that Russia will find alternative markets for example in China and India. Others suggest that there could be a finite limit to the military aid given to Ukraine.

It is likely Putin will keep the war going for as long as it takes for him to capture a large chunk of east Ukraine. He is gradually destroying cities, military facilities and fuel depots. Russia has suffered losses of men and equipment but has more and its factories and military facilities are intact. It's therefore difficult to see how Ukraine can 'win' without the West giving Ukraine enough firepower to dislodge the Russians from Mariupol and Kherson.

Their are reports the Kiev Regional Military Administration's official website is currently being targeted by a Cyber-attack.

 

29th March 2022 (day 34)

Peace talks hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  were held in Istanbul on the opposite side of the Black sea to Ukraine and Russia. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and owner of Chelsea Football Club appeared possibly as a mediator; his exact role is not known.

We found a good map on the Reddit website showing the location of Ukrainian towns and cities:

Click for map - current state of the Russian Invasion to 10th March 2022

Comment

It seems to us that Putin could emerge as the victor from this conflict by capturing a land corridor from Russia to the Crimea taking in the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, and gaining an assurance that Ukraine would never join NATO.

By way of doing this he will have killed tens of thousands counting both Russian and Ukrainian dead, injured and maimed perhaps 3 times as many, destroyed homes, cities, factories and military facilities, caused 4 million refugees to flee Ukraine and perhaps another 6 million to move within Ukraine. After causing all that murder and mayhem we wonder whether or not he will get off 'Scot free' and die of old age before being brought to account.

28th March 2022 (day 33)

The stalemate continues.

Ukraine claims to have liberated Trostyanets and Borovlya between Sumy and Kharkiv in the north; the Russians are being pressed at Brovary which lies 12 miles NE of Kiev (16 miles by road). Ukraine also claims to have recaptured Irpin which lies 13 miles to the west of Kiev (17 miles by road).

The siege of Mariupol continues. Zelensky says he is prepared for Ukraine to become a neutral country, not join NATO, not have nuclear weapons, and the future of the Donbas region to be discussed.

Pundits suggest the Ukrainian situation can only get worse as Putin has a bigger army, and that Putin unlikely to negotiate until he has captured more territory eg the Donbas and SE, including the port of Mariupol.

A lone pundit suggests Ukraine could still 'win', though that has a hollow ring when homes, factories and cities are being destroyed by Putin.

President Biden is quoted as saying Putin is a butcher and 'for God's sake this man cannot remain in power'. For that he is heavily criticised by the press, including Freddy Gray of The Spectator, who may be scared of Putin, but Biden reflects what the public thinks.

Click below for report on recent events in the Spanish newspaper El Pais:-

The Ukraine war in maps: Russian troops only make progress in Mariupol

27th March 2022 (day 32)

No significant events.

26th March 2022 (day 31)

'The stalemate continues, while we wait for Putin's next move'. That statement suggests Putin is 'pulling the levers' whereas better Ukraine and the West now control events and Putin is kept on the back-foot.

The West is firmly united against Putin, while other countries such as India and China are sitting on the sidelines.

Will Putin have one last push to try to take Kiev and Odessa before a ceasefire has to be declared?

The PM thinks Putin is doubling down and can't afford to lose face - so it's difficult to predict where this is going to go.

Russian missiles hit fuel depot and fighter jet repair facility in outskirts of Lviv.

25th March 2022 (day 30)

Russia says the first phase of the war is over and it will now focus on the 'complete liberation' of the eastern Donbas region.

No doubt Putin will want to grab as much land as he can including the Ukrainian coast line from the Sea of Azov to Odessa.

However The Pentagon has said Ukrainian forces could re-take the southern city of Kherson, which was one of the first cities Russian forces took in the early days of the war.

Dramatic footage from Alex Crawford on late night Sky News as news-team attempted to reach the city of Chernihiv but had to withdraw due to shelling.

Click for Sky News report -  No way out for 150,000 people trapped in city of 'hell' Chernihiv - as Russian forces bomb last bridge standing

Russian cruise missiles hit airforce command post at Vinnytsia a town where in 1937 Stalin instigated the execution of 10,000 Ukrainians, Poles and dissidents in the Great Purge.

24th March 2022 (day 29)

President Biden in Brussels for NATO, G7 and European Council Summits about the war in Ukraine.

Click for White House statement

Ukrainian forces sank the Russian landing craft Orsk which had arrived in the occupied port of Berdyansk 3 days ago.

Click for report on Twitter

Ukrainian forces are trying to push the Russians out of Irpin which is 13 miles west of Kiev (17 miles by car).

Click for BBC report - Return to Irpin, the town destroyed in the battle for Kyiv

The cities of Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv to the north are surrounded by Russian forces.

The port of Berdyansk in the south east with access to the Sea of Azov was taken early in the war. The city port of Mariupol is surrounded and partly taken over by Russian forces who have installed a puppet mayor. The Russians are attempting to starve out the remaining population and defenders.

It looks as though Putin's chief aim is to cut off Ukraine from the Sea of Azov, and Black Sea, including the port of Odessa if he can.

Mykolaiv is a key town blocking the Russian advance to Odessa.

Slightly to the north of Mikolaiv Russians headed to Kiev from the south were stopped at Vozenensk where the Ukrainian defenders saw off a small armoured column and blew the road-bridge.

23rd March 2022 (day 28)

Opinion amongst pundits is that sadly this war could reach stalemate and grind on for a long time. That's not going to benefit anybody except possibly the companies producing weapons and arms dealers.

Click for an Australian's view of the war in Ukraine

Note: an article about 'Ukraine’s tragedy and its implications' by Percy Allan who explains his observations (and worries) about the escalating war in Europe’s biggest breadbasket and largest country by area (after Russia).

It has been reported that Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons if confronted with an existential threat. This has always been the case and smacks of mischievous newspaper reporters unnecessarily 'stirring things up'.

Moscow geography teacher Kamran Manafly has been sacked after refusing to toe the Kremlin’s line on Ukraine. A reminder that in Russia under Putin free speech is not allowed. Elderly Russians mostly believe Putin's propaganda, while younger people with access to the Internet have a more open mind; some disgusted by gagging of the press are leaving Russia.

Click for BBC report - War in Ukraine: Anti-war opinions can cost Russians their jobs

It is reported one of Putin's chums Russian climate change envoy Anatoly Chubais has stood down from his post and fled Russia.

Poland expels 45 Russian diplomats.

Click for Aljazeera report - Poland expels '45 Russian spies pretending to be diplomats'

President Biden arrives in Brussels for NATO conference.

Click for Aljazeera report - Russia-Ukraine live news: Biden lands in Brussels for NATO summit

It is rumoured the US has suggested Russia should be expelled from the G20 but China is likely to oppose such a move. We wonder if Putin would venture to G20 meetings outside Russia this year given the possibility of either being arrested and charged with war crimes, or facing assassination.

22nd March 2022 (day 27)

Biden warns Russia may use Biological or Chemical weapons.

Biden says US must prepare for Cyber attacks.

Fighting around Kiev continues. Ukraine takes back the town of Makariv, but residents are advised to leave Boryspil and its airport where fighting is expected.

Russians increase air activity.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Russia to end its 'absurd war' in Ukraine, warning that the conflict is 'going nowhere fast' and that the Ukrainian people are 'enduring a living hell'.

Ukrainian forces rout Russian probe and blows bridge at Vozenensk.

Click for BBC report - The small town which managed to block Russia's big plans

 

21st March 2022 (day 26)

Comment

Mariupol refuses a Russian invitation to surrender, so we could soon be witnessing a re-enactment of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 but on a much larger scale; the difference is there are many civilians in Mariupol. However further attacks on the port will likely only stiffen Ukrainian resolve.

The situation can also be likened to the battle for Singapore in 1942.

The hit and run tactics of the Ukrainian forces mirror early tactics during the American War of Independence when it was the French Navy that assisted the Americans ultimately defeat the British. However the Ukrainians may need more arms and a step up in capability if they are to harry lines of supply enough to cause surrounded Russian battle groups to surrender.

It's just possible unrest in the Russian military caused by high casualties in Ukraine allied to civilian unrest linked to rising prices and sanctions might then lead to another 'Russian Revolution', Putin being toppled and truly democratic elections in Russia.

On a Sky News TV clip last night it was reported Russians near Kharkiv had been invited to collect their dead, but the Russians callously said 'they had no further need for them'.

Click for Sky News report - Ukraine war: Chaotic shelling in Kharkiv as Russia accused of refusing to repatriate dead soldiers

Today

Ammonia plant near Sumy in NE Ukraine attacked.

Click for Guardian report

Russian warships shell residential buildings on the outskirts of Odesa according to Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa Oblast Military Administration.

The Jerusalem Post reports landing ships bringing in supplies at the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk. Quote:

A Russian landing ship entered the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk on Monday, delivering ammunition and equipment to Russian forces in occupied Ukrainian territory, Interfax reported.

According to Zvezda another ten vessels were delivering equipment following the initial landing. Berdyansk is a Ukrainian city in on the coast of the Sea of Azov, west of the encircled city of Mariupol. The Orsk, an Alligator class landing ship, is capable of carrying significant amounts of vehicles and supplies.

See also Rob Lee's Twitter

 

20th March 2022 (day 25)

Comment

It's Sunday, the Russian advance has slowed but air attacks continue both on key facilities and civilians; Russian forces look set to capture the strategic port of Mariupol.

It's likely Putin's forces are pausing to regroup while waiting for reinforcements; so there could be worse bloodshed to come.

The Ukrainians had been asking and hoping for other nations to join them in the fight against Putin but they are beginning to realise NATO nations are extremely reluctant to join in.

On the other hand, the public in many countries are putting increasing pressure on politicians to adopt a tougher line with Putin.

Recent events

Ukrainian forces are said to be close to losing the key Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where fierce fighting continues; the mayor says thousands of captured civilians are being taken to Russia and dispersed. Rescue of several hundred people trapped in the basement of the bombed theatre is proving difficult due to the fighting.

An art school which was sheltering 400 civilians in Mariupol was destroyed by a series of Russian strikes.

Yesterday, it was confirmed a Russian missile struck a military barracks in the southern city of Mykolaiv, where 200 soldiers were sleeping causing heavy casualties.

Ukrainian officials say 56 people were killed during an attack on an old folks home in Kreminna, eastern Ukraine.

 It was reported that Russia used the Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile to destroy a Ukrainian fuel depot in Kostiantynivka near the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv.

The previous day, the Russian military said the Kinzhal had been used for the first time in combat to destroy an underground ammunition depot in Diliatyn, Ivano-Frankivsk in the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine (to the south of Lviv)

Russia says cruise missiles were launched from waters of the Black Sea against the Nizhyn plant (north east of Kiev) that repairs Ukrainian armoured vehicles damaged in fighting.

Air-launched missiles hit a facility in Ovruch in the northern Zhytomyr region where foreign fighters and Ukrainian special forces were located.

Elsewhere Ukrainian forces are hitting back.

In Belarus, to conceal the death toll, the Russians are putting the bodies of casualties onto trains, during the hours of darkness, for return to Russia.

Click for Daily Mail report - Putin's convoy of corpses

19th March 2022 (day 24)

Ex Prime Ministers John Major and Gordon Brown suggest an International Tribunal is set up to investigate Vladimir Putin's activities on the lines of the Nuremburg Trials.

President Zelensky has offered concessions but we are not aware of any yet offered by the Russians.

Click for Aljazeera report - Russia's invasion of Ukraine: List of key events from day 24

It appears for the time being Ukraine has lost control of the port of Mariupol.

18th March 2022 (day 23)

Small gains by Russian forces, which remain largely stalled.

Fierce fighting continues over the town of Izyum near Kharkiv. BBC Radio 5 reported this morning Izyum had been taken by the Russians but we don't know whether that is true or speculation.

Russia increases its stranglehold on the port of Mariupol planning to starve the defenders into submission, having already destroyed most of the city. Clearly Russia wants to capture the whole of the south east blocking Ukraine from the sea, land which if taken Russia would probably never give back.

The battle between Ukrainian and Russian forces for control of Mariupol has now reached the city center, according to the Mayor Vadym Boichenko. Russian troops have besieged the port along the Sea of Azov for weeks and have isolated it from the rest of Ukrainian-controlled areas in the southern part of the country. Getting control of Mariupol is a top priority for Russia since it would complete a land-bridge between the Russian-backed separatist states in the Donbas region and Crimea.

Some survivors from the basement of the bombed theatre in Mariupol have been found but more rubble needs to be cleared; shelling is making the rescue difficult.

Russian cruise missiles destroyed an aircraft repair facility near Lviv airport.

Click for BBC report - Russia destroys aircraft repair plant near western city of Lviv

Biden talks to the President of China amid concerns China might give Russia military aid.

Peace talks continue but we think this could be a smokescreen. Likely Putin is bringing in reinforcements and planning his next move. He is proud and over-confident; he will not stop until he is stopped by others.

Today, copying Hitler, Putin held a packed Rally and Concert in Moscow to celebrate the anniversary of illegally taking The Crimea. State workers were bussed in to help fill the seats.

Click for BBC report - Vladimir Putin praises Russian unity at Moscow mass rally

India Today carries 'jazzed-up' reports on the invasion. Google India Today YouTube videos to find them. For example:

Day 23 Of Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine - India Today

17th March 2022 (day 22)

The morning news led with the joyous arrival of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori reunited with their families after years being held hostage in Iran.

Click for BBC report

The Kremlin appears incensed by President Biden calling Vladimir Putin a 'war criminal' yesterday.

Click for Aljazeera report -  Russia decries Putin ‘war criminal’ allegation

Aljazeera also carries an update on the invasion:

Russia-Ukraine live news: Deadly Kyiv strike, invasion ‘stalled’

The BBC mulls over what Putin wants in this article:

Click for BBC article - What does Putin want and will Russia end its war?

One wonders whether in the meantime Putin will attempt an amphibious landing to block Ukraine's access to ports on the Black Sea, and then attempt to keep the captured territory.

Putin must be very angry: his invasion of Ukraine is not going to plan, he is called a war criminal, and sanctions are beginning to hurt Russia. Much of the world has turned against him and NATO seems likely to increase defence spending in view of his unprovoked attack.

Perhaps it is time for Putin to go and for a new leader to introduce democratic reforms; perhaps developing friendly relations with neighbouring countries, rather than restoring the Iron Curtain and Cold War.

16th March 2022 (day 21)

Not so much about Ukraine on early morning Radio 5 news. President Zelensky thinks some progress is being made with the peace talks. He says he accepts the door has now been shut on joining NATO, but that other bilateral allegiances might be set up (eg JEF see link below).

Prime Minister to host Nordic and Baltic leaders as he pushes to bolster European resilience and defence

The Ukrainian side suggests Kiev is now a fortress and Russia cannot take Ukraine - but Russia appears to have taken firm control of areas close to the border with Russia and pundits think Ukraine may have to give up some territory so Putin can claim a victory before withdrawing his troops.

It could be Putin is not interested in negotiations and is just biding his time before his next atrocity. We'll just have to hope moral and financial pressure from other countries can bring this invasion to a halt without further bloodshed.

Later in the day President Zelensky addresses the US Congress, and at the end a video is shown portraying towns and cities before and after Russian attacks.

Zelensky still says he needs to protect the sky, but this may have to be achieved using surface to air missiles rather than NATO aircraft.

President Biden makes a speech branding Putin a war criminal, and authorises more weapons and aid for Ukraine.

The BBC reports that 4 Russian Generals have now been killed

A third Mayor is arrested by the Russians, but another, Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, has been exchanged for nine captured Russian soldiers.

A theatre in Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians were sheltering in a basement, was bombed and destroyed, despite large lettering painted on the ground saying CHILDREN in Russian.

10 people standing in line for bread in Chernihiv were either shot or killed by a missile strike on an adjacent building. Click for a video being shared on Twitter. Later the death toll was updated to 13.

The evening news briefly reported attacks on shipping in the Black Sea; this may have been referring to an article in the Guardian reporting seamen stranded by a Russian Navy blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Click for Guardian article - Calls for ‘blue corridor’ to let stranded seafarers leave Ukraine war zone

Claimed Russian losses

Losses of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, March 15, as claimed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; try this Twitter link

https://twitter.com/MFA_Ukraine/status/1503665845234552832

15th March 2022 (day 20)

The Russian advance seems to have stalled in the last couple of days. A possible explanation is that Russian troops are running low on supplies.

Ukraine's Ministry of Defence has claimed 150 Russian troops were killed after trying to take control of the port city of Mariupol.

The breaking news last night, and being discussed this morning, is about a very brave Russian TV editor, Marina Ovsyannikova,  who held up a placard during the News.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine war: Journalist who protested on Russian TV detained

BBC Radio 5 reports another Russian TV presenter has left the country and resigned as a result of Putin gagging news media.

Hanna Liubakova a journalist from Minsk, Belarus has begun broadcasting about the Ukraine war on Twitter.

We don't know whether there is anti-Russian sentiment in Belarus, but the president Aleksandr Lukashenko is one of Putin's henchmen. He was elected to the post in 1994 and is now serving his sixth term; perhaps it is time for democratic elections.

There were reports yesterday of a long queue of lorries in Poland held up by demonstrators at the Belarus border who are attempting to stop cargo trucks they say are headed for Ukraine via Belarus with supplies for the Russian army.

One hopes the cargos are being checked and if appropriate the lorries are diverted to Ukraine to provide aid for civilians and the military.

 Perhaps sanctions should be imposed on Belarus as well as Russia?

China appears to be distancing itself from the conflict adopting a neutral position until it sees 'which way the land lies'.

Click for Sky News report - Ukraine war: China's reaction to invasion has been defined by inaction but its influence is limited.

It sounds like the Chinese media is censored and ordinary people see little of what is going on.

Click for BBC report about today's events in Ukraine

The BBC reports 2 journalists working for Fox News have been killed by Russian troops.

Click for BBC report - Fox News' Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra Kuvshinova killed in Kyiv

Fox News had said on Tuesday that cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was killed near Kiev while covering the war in Ukraine. Pierre Zakrzewski was accompanying journalist Benjamin Hall, who was wounded when their vehicle came under fire Monday in Horenka, near Kiev.

Mention on BBC news today of the PM attending a Joint Expeditionary Force, London 2022 event. Below is a link to a government press statement explaining what is going on:

Prime Minister to host Nordic and Baltic leaders as he pushes to bolster European resilience and defence

See also EuroNews report, quote:

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the country realises that it can’t join NATO. Speaking Tuesday to representatives of the UK led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), Zelenskyy said that 'we heard for years about the allegedly open doors of NATO, but we have already heard that we won’t be able to join'.

He added that 'it’s the truth we must recognize, and I’m glad that our people are starting to realize that and count on themselves and our partners who are helping us.' The JEF may consist of Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.

Click for Bob Seely MP views on Putin's aims

The BBC reports more than 100,000 people have offered rooms for Ukranian refugees.

Click for BBC report - Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme launches in UK

14th March 2022 (day 19)

More shelling, but otherwise nothing new to report.

Professor Gwthian Prins said on Radio 5 that Putin would likely lose, and he thought a no-fly zone or similar could be achieved by the UN enacting Article 45 allowing creation, in an emergency, of a UN airforce.

Rumours Russian forces are running low on ammunition and don't have enough troops fully to encircle the Ukranian army on all fronts.

There will be a race to see who can get resupplied most quickly, if there is no ceasefire.

Zelensky claims negotiations could result in a ceasefire in the next few days; others say Putin wants to press on with his war and is using negotiations as a delaying tactic while he brings in reinforcements.

About 160 cars are able to exit Mariupol population 400,000 while the remainder are being starved to death by the beseiging Russian forces. Without water people will die from dehydration in a little over a week; and with no food inhabitants will increasingly starve to death after 40 days. Like Hitler, evil Putin is pursuing a policy of mass murder. The Jewish population was wiped out by Hitler  in WWII.

The UK media mainly discusses plans for householders to put up refugees in spare rooms, for which the government will pay £350 per month. 20,000 offers to date and 4,000 refugees have been granted asylum.

Homes for Ukraine webpage

13th March 2022 (18)

Comment

Despite strong words of support, and the misery Putin is causing to millions of civilians in Ukraine, President Biden sadly is still not prepared to intervene directly to protect civilians. Quote:

We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine.  Direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War Three, something we must strive to prevent.

Just the words Putin wants to hear. Biden has given Putin the green light. However Biden goes on to say, quote:

And I also want to be clear though: We will make sure Ukraine has weapons to defend against an invading Russian force. We will send money and food and aid to save the Ukrainian people. And I will welcome the Ukrainian refugees. We should welcome them here with open arms if they need access.

While Biden says this, it looks as though he is not prepared to support donation of MIG-29 aircraft from Poland; and as regards food aid, there seems little prospect at present of getting that to towns such as Mariupol that badly need it and which are besieged by the Russia army; especially bearing in mind the problems already encountered by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Further, Putin is threatening to attack Western convoys taking weapons into Ukraine, so Biden may find either NATO or the USA in direct confrontation with Russia whether he likes it or not (remember Pearl Harbour).

Biden says 'Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons'. But that is likely all bluster and an empty threat. Obama used similar words about events in Syria and did nothing when his red line was crossed.

Click below for full White House briefing on 11th March 2022:

Remarks by President Biden Announcing Actions to Continue to Hold Russia Accountable

In our opinion President Biden and NATO have to be prepared to intervene more directly in order to force Putin to the negotiating table. But what do we know.....

Today

Yavoriv training facility near Lviv and Polish border hit by about 30 cruise missiles launched by bombers in Russian territory.

US journalist Brent Renaud is shot dead by Russian troops near Irpin.

Town of Valnovakha reported destroyed.

Another mayor abducted - this time it's Yevhen Matveyev from the southern city of Dniprorudne.

Mayor Ivan Fedorov was abducted by Russian troops on 10 March. He has since been replaced by a new mayor - Halyna Danilchenko - who appears to be a Russian puppet. She appeared on local TV to urge Melitopol’s citizens to not take part in "extremist actions", introduced a curfew and banned protests.

12th March 2022 (day 17)

Many wars are a close run thing and it's not obvious Putin can win if Ukrainian forces can continue to hamper the Russians with hit and run tactics and cut off resupply of food, fuel and ammunition at their rear.

Ambushing Russian convoys is probably the best tactic as losses could be high defending fixed positions. It is doubtful Ukraine has the firepower to push Russia out, but possibly Ukraine can make life so uncomfortable that some of the Russian troops will either become POWs or mutiny and go home; more likely the situation will reach stalemate and there will ultimately have to be a peace settlement.

President Macron of France phoned Mr Putin today proposing a ceasefire but it is reported Putin showed no willingness to end the war.

We wonder what Putin's henchmen are thinking. Firstly the Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu and second Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov. Did they promise Putin a quick win and if so are their heads now on the block for not delivering? What of the elite such as the heads of the FSB and GRU; are they thinking it's time for Putin to be removed, for example by imprisonment for illegally invading another country.

An article in the Guardian which is several days old questions the effectiveness of the Russian forces:

Click for Guardian article - Russia’s callousness towards its own soldiers is undermining its combat power

while another asks whether it is time for NATO to stand up to Putin and tell him to cease what he is doing or face the consequences:

Time for NATO to find a way out of the escalation trap in Ukraine

Putin is now threatening Finland and Sweden, and to attack Western convoys taking weapons into Ukraine.

Then there is concern Putin may use chemical weapons such as chlorine gas or Novichock nerve agents, which have already been used by assassins in Salisbury, to finish cities quickly, which would result in massive civilian loss of life.

Given the atrocities that Putin has committed to date it is time for Biden to tell Putin that either he orders a cease fire or NATO will put a 'peace keeping' force into Ukraine to protect civilians and render humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile

The mayor of Melitopol has been abducted by the Russians for speaking out.

The airbase at Vasylkiv south of Kiev has been attacked.

Ukraine’s foreign minister says Russia plans to stage a 'sham referendum' in the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson in an effort to show that people there want to break away from Ukraine.

President Zelensky said talks with Moscow show signs of becoming more substantive and the Kremlin 'is moving away from ultimatums'.

11th March 2022 (day 16)

There are missile attacks on airfields at Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk  far to the west, and on residential buildings in the strategically important city of Dnipro, which sits on the Dnieper River towards the east.

Click for Guardian report - Russia widens attack with airstrikes on western Ukraine cities

Russian state media reported that the Ukrainian city of Volnovakha to the north of the port of Mariupol had been captured by Russian-backed separatist forces.

The Russian convoy to the NW of Kiev appears to be fanning out in preparation for an attack on the capital.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine war: Large Russian convoy redeploys near Kyiv

10th March 2022 (day 15)

Comment

When we were children in the 1950s, and gosh that's about 70 years ago, we saw a lot of black and white film footage of WWII on TV; this was repackaged as 'The World at War' in 1973. We knew all about Hitler, appeasement and the murder of 6 million Jews. We saw cine film of towns in France being 'liberated' by the allies, and often all that was left was smoking ruins. We thought about the futility of war, structures destroyed and lives lost.

About 1975 there was a civil war in Lebanon leading to much destruction in Beirut; and more recently fighting in Syria with a similar outcome, abetted by Russia. Once more we wondered what it is that leads men to destroy homes, slaughter innocents and cause misery, when there is enough to do combatting natural disasters such as earthquakes, famines, floods, and epidemics.

And now it is Putin who has unleashed 'the dogs of war' - shelling cities, destroying homes and killing innocent Ukrainian citizens, simply because they wouldn't do what he told them to.

It seems history is repeating itself - the visits of politicians such as President Macron valiantly attempting to dissuade Putin from invasion, as did Neville Chamberlain try to dissuade Hitler; appeasement over the invasion of Crimea, mirroring Hitler's invasion of Austria and other regions; and now the reluctance of NATO nations to confront Putin directly.

In 1939 Britain's red line was it's treaty with Poland. Now the red line is any NATO country being attacked; then NATO could be forced to act, possibly quite soon, but in the meantime the position seems to be NATO forces will not operate in Ukraine whatever the bloodshed and use of poison gas, for fear of Putin using nuclear weapons.

Reluctance to act is nothing new.

In 1884 Major-General Charles George Gordon  had sought help from British Prime Minister Gladstone to relieve Khartoum. Gladstone was having none of it and refused help until eventually swayed by public opinion and Queen Victoria, but by then it was too late, Khartoum fell and Gordon was killed.

In WWII the USA reluctantly supplied arms to the UK but it was not until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour that the USA was forced into the war.

Now the Russians are putting Ukrainian cities under siege bombarding the population with artillery shells and rockets, causing shortages of food and water, and cutting off electricity and gas making it almost impossible for people to cook, keep warm and obtain medical treatment. Schools and hospitals have been hit and possibly especially targeted. This evening the use of poison gas to kill troops in the open and civilians in basements and the underground is being discussed in the media.

There is a moral case to act but David Lammy (Labour) and Bob Seely (Conservative) flagged to Putin on Newsnight that NATO would not intervene militarily if Russia were to use poison gas in Ukraine.

You might have hoped the General Assembly of the UN would vote to suspend Russia from the UN and send in a heavily armed humanitarian peace keeping force to stop the conflict and render aid, but no sign of that. And were that to fail you might have expected NATO to send in a 'peace keeping' force as they did in Bosnia, but no sign of that either.

President Zelensky has invited help from the EU and NATO. The EU is imposing sanctions, adjoining countries are taking in more than a million refugees and some countries are providing humanitarian aid and in some cases defensive weapons to help Ukrainians fight the powerful Russian army. In contrast to Afghanistan, Ukrainians are putting up a strong defence.

That said NATO and the US have been timid in their response to Russia. NATO has said it will not put boots on the ground and will not impose a no-fly zone. Putin seems to have been given the green light to do whatever he wants including deployment of Chemical and Thermobaric weapons to finish off Ukraine.

We can see that imposition of a no-fly zone might be impractical at the present time but there are many other things that can be done. For example General McMaster has suggested:-

  • Medium range SAMs to extend air defence;

  • Shore to ship missiles to counter Russia's ships in the Black Sea;

  • Drones with sufficient payload to attack artillery and rocket launchers;

  • and possibly the supply of aircraft.

Ukraine needs such weapons now if the tide is to be turned otherwise we could be seeing a parallel with the fall of Khartoum and the death of Gordon; (subsitute the city of Kiev and President Zelensky).

Today

The Foreign Affairs ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey. No progress at all. Eventually the war will have to be concluded by fruitful peace talk but who knows if that will be in weeks or months.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine war: No progress on ceasefire after Kyiv-Moscow talks

Russia falsely accuses the USA and Ukraine of secretly developing chemical weapons; inviting speculation Russia itself plans to use Chemical weapons.

Click for BBC report - Russia could launch chemical attack in Ukraine

Russians prevent Red Cross aid being delivered to Mariupol.

In an interview Lavrov says Russia willl not attack other countries just as it is no attacking Ukraine.

Click for Euronews report

UK visa requirement relaxed for Ukrainian refugees with passports.

9th March 2022 (day 14)

Zelensky wants more aircraft. Unclear why or what he is doing with the ones he has got. Poles seem willing to donate 28 MIG-29s but suggest these are sent via the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany presumably so all three nations involved should Putin feel inclined to retaliate. Biden and Germany having none of it, so the ball is back with the Poles. Ben Wallace says the UK will support Poland whatever decision they make.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace makes statement in UK Parliament. UK will send more Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAW) and is considering sending Starstreak man-portable surface to air missiles.

Russians continue to strike more civilian targets.

Some refugees are evacuated for example from Sumy in north east Ukraine.

Rumours it will be Russian mothers who out Putin as more and more discover their sons have died in the unlawful invasion of Ukraine.

Note: the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1992 was a memorandum prohibiting the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. As a result of other agreements and the memorandum, between 1993 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had given up their nuclear weapons.

The Russian Foreign Ministry accuses Ukraine of having some involvement with Chemical Weapons, which they may have invented as pretext for Russian use of chemical weapons, as in Syria.

Click for BBC report - West fears Russia could use non-conventional weapons

A huge bomb is dropped in Mariupol devastating a maternity hospital.

Click for Sun report - Women and children ‘buried under rubble’ after Russian airstrike destroys maternity hospital in Mariupol

Zelensky claims he will eventually get his no-fly zone even if a million Ukrainians have to die first.

8th March 2022 (day 13)

The situation appears critical. Russian forces could soon complete the  encirclement of Kiev. The key port of Mariupol in the south is under siege and heavy bombardment, and the important port of Odessa in the south could soon come under attack. Many cities are being repeatedly pulverised by Russian artillery and missiles. Refugees are streaming into Poland and adjacent friendly countries.

Despite these setbacks Ukrainian forces are slowing the advance and inflicting serious losses on the larger invading force.

We assume Ukraine needs more weapons to take out artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers, destroy the convoy to the north of Kiev, and make life difficult for the Russian Navy preparing for an attack on Odessa.

Others suggest peace talks are the way to go:-

Click for article - Searching for Peace in Ukraine by Stuart Rees

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP was on Sky News this morning.

Click for Sky News interview - War in Ukraine: Russia 'getting more desperate'

Another Sky News quote:

Ukraine's president has said the Russian bombardment of his country is like something from World War II after a child died from dehydration in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Volodymyr Zelensky claims Russia has surrounded the port and has deliberately cut off the water and food supply as well as electricity.

Click for Sky News YouTube broadcast by President Zelensky

There has been talk in the media of Poland gifting MIG29 fighters to Ukraine to be backfilled by US jets, but it appears nothing has been decided because bureaucrats are 'arguing' over who should take such an important decision.

General McMaster's interview yesterday seems to have been moved from the Sky News website but it can still be found on YouTube. A similar video in which McMaster adopts a slightly softer tone can be found here:-

Click to watch H.R. McMaster: 'I believe Ukraine can win the war' - FRANCE 24 English

Zelensky's address to the UK parliament at 5:00 pm contained nothing new but he briefly asked for the continuation of sanctions and 'protection from the air'. The fact the convoy north of Kiev has not been destroyed suggests Ukraine may need more Drones, Medium range SAM, for example from France, and aircraft from Poland - not forgetting food and water for besieged cities.

The media reports the deaths of three senior Russian officers:

  • General Magomed Tushayev allegedly killed in an attack on Hostomel airport on 26th February, though there is some dispute about this;

  • Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky killed by a sniper near Mariupol on 3rd March;

  • Major General Vitaly Gerasimov killed 7th March near Karkhiv.

7th March 2022 (day 12)

Shelling of civilians continues.

More discussion of safe corridors with Russia proposing exit routes to Russia and Belarus. Few will want to go that way so that Putin can claim he is liberating Ukrainian citizens.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab appeared on the BBC Sunday Morning programme. He seems prepared to let the Russo/Ukraine war drift on for months if not years likely resulting in tens of thousands of innocent people being murdered by Putin - Dominic does not come across as a man Putin will be scared of.

The British Embassy, which had retreated to Lviv, finally leaves Ukraine. The government obviously has little confidence in Ukrainian soldiers 'holding the line'.

No announcement but it looks like BBC reporter Clive Myrie who had been in Kiev is safely back in UK.

Home Secretary Pretty Patel gets some bad publicity about reacting slowly to the refugee crisis.

Punchy interview with retired American Lieutenant General HD McMaster on Sky News in the evening. He seems to think politicians need more backbone and resolve, and that a military solution will be required if Putin is to be stopped.

Click for Sky News Interview - Ukraine Invasion: 'Putin has failed already' says former US National Security Adviser

It was announced President Zelensky would address parliament by video link tomorrow at 5:00 pm.

6th March 2022 (day 11)

#Pray for Ukraine

The safe corridors opened yesterday to evacuate civilians were tested again but few got away.

Putin continues to pursue the shelling and bombing of cities following his illegal invasion of Ukraine. He said he had no plans to invade; he lied.  He calls the invasion a 'Specialised Military Operation' but it is full scale war; he lied again.

He is now continuously shelling cities turning them into rubble, killing civilians and destroying their homes.

Putin is a war criminal and needs to be stopped, but NATO seems not prepared to use its military power to protect civilians despite a desperate plea from President Zelensky for help. As a  result, we can expect thousands if not tens of thousands to die in coming weeks.

NATO must be betting that is the least worst outcome compared to a possible European war.

Without help, Kiev might be taken by the end of March and its leadership either captured or murdered, assuming Putin is prepared to turn Kiev into a pile of rubble. But that might be difficult for Putin to explain to voters.

Putin is scared stiff ordinary Russians will find out what he is doing. Police are arresting demonstrators, and the press has been muzzled. Putin is increasingly shelling civilians hoping to break morale and cause Ukrainians to lay down their arms before this turns into a long term conflict and the Russian public discovers the truth about what he has been doing.

President Zelensky keeps asking for a no-fly zone and US, UK, and NATO officials are telling Putin they are not going to create one, possibly weakening Ukraine's position; but for the moment that's perhaps a reasonable position while most of the damage is being inflicted by Russian artillery.

Propaganda, morale, the supply of material to Ukraine, and the harrying of Russian supply lines will influence the outcome, and there is no certainty that the larger Russian force will prevail.

Boris Johnson is meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what they have to say; click below for CBC report.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Europe to meet with leaders on military aid for Ukraine

Boris Johnson allegedly has a six point plan:-

  • World leaders should mobilise an “international humanitarian coalition” for Ukraine
  • They should also support Ukraine “in its efforts to provide for its own self-defence”
  • Economic pressure on Russia should be ratcheted up
  • The international community must resist Russia’s “creeping normalisation” of its actions in Ukraine
  • Diplomatic resolutions to the war must be pursued, but only with the full participation of Ukraine’s legitimate government
  • There should be a “rapid campaign to strengthen security and resilience” among NATO countries

We'll have to wait and see what more practical steps can be taken to help Ukraine in the shorter term.

Mastercard, Visa and American Express are reducing their exposure in Russia, while others firms such as Coca Cola have yet to decide.

The circulation in Russia of video footage of what is happening in the Ukraine could possibly turn the public against Putin; everyone can help by broadcasting accounts as widely as possible on social media and the world wide web.

Many Russian Orthodox priests and deacons from around the world have signed an open letter expressing their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, challenging the Russian government and breaking with the tacit support of the military action by church leadership in Moscow. Perhaps churches will somehow affect the outcome. Pray for Ukraine.

5th March 2022 (day 10)

It's like a disaster movie; then you realise it's real and Vladimir Putin is the reincarnation of Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler. It is his troops that should be leaving Ukraine, not refugees who are having to flee for their lives leaving pulverised homes, and cities under siege behind.

And we can't just blame Putin. His generals, and tens of thousands of squaddies who have pulled the trigger unleashing shells and missiles are equally to blame. They obviously have no conscience about killing innocent men, women and children and destroying their homes; let's hope they are brought to justice in due course as at the Nuremberg trials.

Boris Johnson says many Russians are our friends, but many are not. It would appear many older Russians have been brainwashed and believe Putin's propaganda, while the younger generation cannot demonstrate without fear of being arrested by the police. They do not yet have the courage to rise up against the leadership as their ancestors did in 1917, but as sanctions bite who knows what will happen.

Some Russians unhappy with Putin have already started leaving Russia for Finland.

Click for BBC report

Putin has warned Sweden and Finland not to join NATO, but a consequence of his invasion of the Ukraine is that these countries may now join the alliance.

Safe corridors were to be set up today to allow refugees to leave the seaport of Mariupol and town of Volnovakha to the north, but it sounds as though evacuation was postponed due to continued shelling.

President Zelensky asked once again for a no-fly zone, but Western leaders reiterated he could not have one. The Ukrainian leadership appearing on TV is looking increasingly stressed, and one wonders how long the cities will be able to hold out.

The invasion of Singapore was a very close run thing, with the British surrendering only days before Japanese might have had to give up. So it's possible Ukraine might yet survive as an independent state if logistic supplies from the West can be maintained and the Russian logistics disrupted.

Someone phoning on the Radio 4 programme 'Any Answers' today said Putin wanted to capture the Bread Basket of Europe and Ukrainian Hi-Tech companies to complement Russia's waning petroleum business, but many are leaving and the countryside will likely be defended by guerilla fighters.

Given his brutality, Vladimir Putin's name is likely to go down in history alongside those of Adolf Hitler and Vlad the impaler. From now on he won't be able to travel outside the Russian Federation.

4th March 2022 (day 9)

Refugees continue to stream to the West.

Putin working very hard to prevent the Russian population finding out what he is doing. Facebook, Twitter and Independent News agencies closed down. Fifteen year prison sentence introduced for circulating 'fake news'.

Report emerges of Sky News team narrowly surviving an attack while returning to Kiev.

Click for Sky News report - Sky News team's harrowing account of their violent ambush in Ukraine this week

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear power station captured by Russians. Damage to nearby buildings but not the six reactors.

Click for Sky News story

3rd March 2022 (day 8)

The aggressive Russian attack on Ukraine, continues into an 8th day. After making limited progress Russia has increased shelling and bombing of cities causing widespread damage and loss of life. Residential areas, schools and hospitals are said to have been hit.

It beggars believe that in the 21st century one man can be responsible for so much death and destruction.

The southern the port of Kherson with a population of 280,000 is reported to have fallen to the 'Nazi' invaders, while Kharkov has come under very heavy fire.

Last night we wondered if Ukraine was doomed, but this morning we are less sure. Perhaps it is Putin who is doomed, though in the short term he may need to be able to claim some sort of victory in order to stop the war.

Professor Gwythian Prins who is a member of the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategy Advisory Panel spoke  for ten minutes on Radio 5 this morning.

To listen - click for BBC sounds and fast forward +25 minutes

Note: you may need to sign in.

Gywthian Prins makes a number of interesting assertions.

Under article 353 of the Criminal Code Of The Russian Federation, quote:

Chapter 34.

Crimes Against Peace and Mankind's Security

Article 353. Planning, Preparing, Unleashing, or Waging on Aggressive War

1. Planning, preparing, or unleashing an aggressive war shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of seven to fifteen years.

2. Waging an aggressive war shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 10 to 20 years.

It would seem the Russian leadership should rapidly remove President Putin and put him on trial.

Other governments are planning to hold Putin personally responsible for war crimes and those in his chain of command, including officers and men.

In his 10 minute briefing Gwythian Prins made the following points.

  • Russian plan B, Blitzkrieg, has failed due to heroic resistance.

  • Russia is reverting to plan A, Rubblisation of cities, beginning with Mariupol, Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the north.

  • Heavy attacks in Kharkiv are intended to demoralise the resistance in Kiev.

  • The stalling snake column north of Kiev has an awesome capability but is suffering logistic problems, command failure resulting in use of insecure lines, and low morale amongst conscripts whose mothers are revolting over their use as cannon fodder.

  • The Russian plan seem to be to cut Ukraine in half from north to south.

  • Very soon a large scale amphibious landing by professional Russian Naval infantry can be expected around Odessa in the south.

Should street fighting develop, history suggests 5 attackers could be killed for every defender.

Professor Gwythian Prins goes on to say that were the Russian forces initially victorious, keeping the country under control might require 600,000 troops to subdue guerilla fighters which Russia does not have.

There were talks between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus. Another meeting is planned.

Click for DW news report

According to the BBC the Prime Minister of Hungary has offered to host peace talks

Meanwhile it seems likely Putin will press home his attacks killing innocent men, women and children and turning more cities and towns into rubble.

The International Paralympic Committee did a U turn and banned Belarus and Russia from the Winter Paralympics in China.

2nd March 2022 (day 7)

The news on the radio this morning is grim. Attacks are increasing on Kharkiv where a lot of damage was caused yesterday and paratroopers are now probing the defences, while a large armoured column is continuing its movement towards Kiev, with the likely aim of surrounding the city and putting it under siege.

Click for latest BBC report

The PM and other commentators have all ruled out a 'no fly zone' for fear of starting a war with Russia. Consequently Ukraine is likely to be devastated and President Kelensky either killed or taken prisoner to stand trial in Moscow on trumped up charges.

Putin may well then turn his attention to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which are surrounded by Belarus and Russia. Will NATO be prepared to defend these Baltic countries despite threats of nuclear war, or will Western leaders back down once again?

Click this link to view a simple map of Europe showing the location of the Baltic States.

https://www.freeworldmaps.net/printable/europe/europe_countries.jpg

Stockholm, March 2 (Reuters) - Four Russian fighter jets briefly entered Swedish territory over the Baltic Sea on Wednesday, the Swedish Armed Forces said, sparking a swift condemnation from Sweden's defence minister. On Sunday Sweden said it would send military aid, including 5,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, the first time since 1939 that Sweden has sent weapons to a country at war.

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding that Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine.

A total of 141 (out of 193) countries voted in favour of the resolution, which reaffirms Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

To quote from the UN website:

The resolution demands that Russia 'immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.'

It was sponsored by more than 90 countries and needed a two-thirds majority in the Assembly to pass. 

Five countries - Belarus, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (more commonly known as North Korea) Eritrea, Russia and Syria - voted against it, while 35 abstained.

The question is will the UN do anything about it.

The International Criminal Court is opening an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine. It is satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed. Given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, it is the intention that this investigation will also encompass any new alleged crimes that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine.

1st March 2022 (day 6)

We wake up thinking the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the misery inflicted on the innocent population was a nightmare, but it's real and it sounds as though things are going to get a lot worse.

President Zelensky of Ukraine addresses the European Parliament and asks for fast track membership of the EU. This normally takes years; meanwhile Putin will likely task his forces to destroy Kiev and then send Special Forces into the rubble to get Kelensky, should he survive the artillery barrage.

Boris Johnson visits Poland and Estonia to show support for NATO allies.

At a news conference with the Estonian prime minister and the Nato secretary-general in the Estonian capital Tallinn he said the international community must do everything it can to support Ukrainians, but said 'we will not fight Russian forces in Ukraine'. He ruled out a no-fly zone over the country which Ukraine had sought to protect civilians. Boris and Biden are either scared of Putin or biding their time.

28th February 2022 (day 5)

FIFA suspends Russia from Football tournaments.

Start of UN General Assembly debate involving all 193 members. This may go on for several days. Ukrainian speaker asks if members ever voted to elect the Russian Federation to the Security Council after break up of the USSR - no one put their hand up. Could it be there will be a voted to suspend Russia from the Security Council?

Talks held between Ukraine and Russia and they agree to meet again. Worryingly during the talks Russia steps up indiscriminate shelling and missile attacks. Rumoured use of thermo-baric and cluster bombs.

An armoured column 40 miles long and 3 vehicles abreast is seen 17 miles to the north of Kiev.

27th February 2022 (day 4)

The time has clearly come for Russian men and women of goodwill to step up and retire President Putin to his Dacha. He is clearly mentally unstable and has become unfit to govern.

This week the evil tyrant has the blood of ten thousand men, women and children on his hands and he is a clear and present danger not only to Russia but the whole of civilisation.

Today

Russian missiles destroyed an oil terminal south of Kiev and a natural gas pipeline, but contrary to expectations troops have not entered Kiev.

Ukrainian forces say they have repelled an attack on the country's second city Kharkiv after fierce clashes with Russian forces.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine invasion: Kharkiv residents describe intense battle to defend city

About 3 pm Sky News broadcast a news conference by the Ukraine Foreign Affairs minister Dmytro Kuleba. He cited a lot of damage to the Russian invasion force and said there could soon be talks with Russia on the border between Ukraine and Belarus.

This twitter link may carry the news conference:

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1497947576376733696

Clearly worried about financial sanctions, resulting from his invasion of Ukraine, Putin has ordered his generals and Nuclear Deterrent to a high state of alert. Putin is paranoid and must be stopped.

Click for BBC report

26th February 2022 (day 3)

Russians forces began surrounding Kiev. Looking back this had been forecast by 'The Times' on 15th February 2022. To quote:

The are 100 battalion tactical groups massed within striking distance of Ukraine amounting to 60% of Russia's ground combat power.

US reports suggest that Russia has a plan to invade Ukraine from the east and the north simultaneously with the intention of surrounding Kiev within one to 2 days.

There were anti Putin demonstrations in cities around the world, but in Russia these demonstrators were quickly arrested. Russian newspapers have been  told not to refer to the invasion as a war. Russia is attempting to block Facebook and Twitter in order to prevent the Russian public learning what is going on.

Germany has offered to supply Ukraine with 1,000 ant-tank missiles and 500 Javelin surface to air shoulder launch weapons.

The EU is now talking about blocking some Russian banks from the SWIFT banking system.

25th February 2022 (day 2)

The Russian Federation, which has the presidency, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Friday that would have demanded that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops. China, India and the UAE abstained. The UN continues to be a 'toothless' organisation.

UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace admits on Radio 5 that NATO has no plans to put troops into Ukraine or create a No Fly zone because politicians are fearful about starting WWIII.

The PM is asking for Russia to be removed from the SWIFT banking system but so far the EU is not keen.

Today, it seems very much as though the appeasement of Adolf Hitler by Neville Chamberlain is being repeated in a modern setting.

Nevertheless Ukraine is mounting a fierce defence and there is talk of fighting to the death.

24th February 2022 (day 1)

Russian forces cross border into Ukraine

On the 24th February 2022 Russian troops launched an invasion of Ukraine which President Vladimir Putin described as a 'Specialised Military Operation'.

Putin clearly wants to 'decapitate' the leadership and impose a puppet government under the control of Moscow.

Click for Reuter's report - Russia invades Ukraine in Europe's 'darkest hours' since WWII

Let's be clear it is war and probably tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent people are going to die, and many more are going to be crippled.

Putin follows in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis some 85 years ago and some fear history will repeat itself if Putin is not stopped.

Stalin was the last Russian leader to tread a similar path when he connived with Hitler and the Nazis to invade Eastern Poland in 1939 starting the Second World War. Russia was responsible for the mass execution of Polish Officers in 1940 dubbed the Katyn massacre - it is doubtful the Poles will want to see Russians back on their border.

When Hitler marched into Austria help was sought from the British government but non was forthcoming. Now Ukraine is calling for help and it will be interesting to see how NATO and its politicians respond other than by ineffective words and paper rustling.

The UN is a paper tiger and little can be done there unless rapid action is taken to change its constitution and expel the Russia Federation.

The evil Putin is 69 years old and in 2020 effectively elected himself president for life but the Russians know how to deal with troublesome people, for example by putting radioactive Polonium in their tea, and nerve agents on door handles - if this war goes wrong perhaps Putin too will be quickly removed by those who had once supported him.

 

22nd February 2022

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine

It had been almost two years since the attention of the world was first drawn to the COVID-19 virus which originated in Wuhan China and rapidly spread around the world, inducing pneumonia, and killing millions of people. The development of the Astrazeneca and Pfizer vaccines provided a way out of the pandemic and on 21st February 2022 the PM announced the removal of all legal restrictions in England.

We had 'tracked' events with our blog Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors but now the usefulness of that is declining we will be returning to our blog on Politics and World events.

Four topics have hit the headlines in recent months:-

  • Partygate

  • An increase in National Insurance to fund care in old age

  • Energy prices

  • Russian ambitions to invade Ukraine

Partygate

An attempt by the left wing to destabilise the Tory government and to get Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign. Photos of social gatherings at Downing Street a year ago, possibly in contravention of  COVID legal restrictions were drip fed by the press. Some speculate that ex Tory adviser Dominic Cummings might be behind the leaks, seeking revenge for being sacked by the PM in November 2021.

On 8th December 2021 the PM asked the Cabinet Secretary to investigate the allegations and report back, but as he himself had been involved Civil Servant Sue Gray took over the investigation. She in turn passed information to the Police who have issued questionnaires to some 50 or so individuals; who could face a fine if they clearly broke the COVID lockdown rules.

Sue Gray has published an update on her investigation but the final report may be delayed until the Police investigation is complete.

The media is waiting with bated breath to see if the PM is fined for breaking his own rules!

National insurance increase

National Insurance payments are increasing in April 2022, to fund social care in England and help the NHS recover after the pandemic.

The government hope the tax will bring in £12Bn but its not clear exactly how the money will be spent. Read this BBC report and see if you are any the wiser.

Click for BBC report - National Insurance: What's the new Health and Social Care tax and what will it cost me?

The Labour party say the tax will hit 'hard pressed' working families.

Successive governments have failed to come to grips with the problem of care for the elderly who can no longer look after themselves. There is little time left for this government to make much headway so if Sir Kier Starmer wins the next election he could inherit the challenge of creating a National Care Service.

Energy prices

In February 2020 at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic petrol was £1.23 a litre. Very few vehicles were on the road that year and prices fell to £1.11 a litre in the following November.

During 2021 as COVID restrictions began to relax, and traffic increased, the price of petrol rose to £1.48 a litre.

The increasing possibility of war between Russia and Ukraine is forcing up the price of oil and pundits are suggesting petrol could soon rise to £1.70 a litre.

The media has heralded a steep increase in energy prices for some weeks, but the reality was brought home to us by Scottish and Southern Energy raising our direct debits by 45% for electricity and 65% for gas. Despite government plans to soften the burden for some, for example by averaging prices over 5 years, such increases will be a severe burden for those on tight budgets.

War between Russia and the Ukraine will only make matters worse; we could be in for a very difficult year.

Ukraine conflict

After WWI and the establishment of Communism in Russia, Ukraine became one of the Soviet Socialist Republics. In broad terms, in the 1950s Kruschev gave Ukraine a degree of independence. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became a truly independent state.

Ukraine remained aligned to Russia but began to look increasingly westwards. In 2014 Putin was unhappy with the pro-western leadership and invaded the Crimea, also supporting rebels in the Russian speaking eastern Donbass region of Ukraine where fighting has continued ever since.

Russian troops started building up near Ukraine's eastern border once again in April 2021 raising concerns and peace keeping talks.

Click for DW News report 20th April 2021

In October 2021, Russia began moving more troops and military equipment near the border with Ukraine, reigniting concerns over a potential invasion.

Russian troops then moved into Belarus along Ukraine's northern border further raising concerns of an invasion.

Russian troops and equipment are now being inserted into the rebel held areas of eastern Ukraine, after women and children were bussed out, so it would appear Putin has given the green light for the invasion to begin.

Click for Channel News Asia:-

Commentary: How Putin took Europe to the brink of war - again

President Biden has said the USA will not put boots on the ground and to date only financial sanctions are being floated by world leaders. Putin will see this as being given the green light.

The situation sadly mirrors the rise of Hitler leading to WWII.

Only the threat of a NATO imposed no fly zone and air attacks on Russian forces in Ukraine will cause Putin to back down.

What do others think

Here are some links to what other people have been saying on Twitter, particularly at the start of the conflict:

Lawrence Freedman Emeritus Professor of War Studies King's College London

Ben Wallace MP Secretary of State for Defence

Tobias Ellwood MP Chair of Defence Select Committee

Tom Tugendhat MP Chair of Foreign Affairs Select Committee

Hanna Liubakova Journalist in Minsk Belarus

Dymitro Kuleba Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

International Committee Red Cross

 

Sitreps on Twitter

These sources, particularly the first two, provide an insight into what may be going on, adding to the somewhat limited reports from the BBC and Sky News who don't appear to have many reporters on the front line.

Philips P OBrien Professor of Strategic Studies, University St Andrew

Jomini of the West Unsure who he is, but produces interesting summaries

Institute for the Sudy of War a policy research organization in Washington

Mick Ryan retired Australian military

Ministry of Defence UK

 

Photos of damaged equipment

Amazing to see damage caused to tanks and AFV.

Rob Lee

Ukraine Weapons Tracker

 

Other resources

About offering rooms to refugees

Homes for Ukraine webpage

A picture of the war on Wikipedia

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine (Wikipedia)

 

Maps

Where on earth are these Ukrainian (and Russian places) with strange sounding names. Do let us know if you have found better maps.

View a simple map of Europe showing the location of the Baltic States:

 https://www.freeworldmaps.net/printable/europe/europe_countries.jpg

More detailed information about towns and cities in Ukraine can be found on this map:

Current state of the Russian Invasion to 10th March 2022

Bing maps are also a good place to find locations in Ukraine:

 https://www.bing.com/maps

 

News media

Ukrayinski Pravda on-line Newspaper

The Kyev Independent Newspaper

Defence Industry of Ukraine (War with Russia)

The Kyev Independent Twitter

BBC News

Sky News

Aljazeera Ukraine war news

The Times of Israel website

The Jerusalem Post website

Radio Free Europe website

Washington Post website

 
Not updated recently

Ukrainian Government website, war news

Click FOR MEDIA on the menu and you will find links to 'Key Messages'.

Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre relays similar material

 

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The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own