Web site logo c. 123-mcc.com

 Angus and Rosemary's Miscellany

  of Malvern - Other Resources



World logoBlogs >

Observations on politics and world events:

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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

Ukraine flagContents

Diary

Appendix: Background to the conflict

Summary of Links

Russian flagGo to Coronavirus blog

Go to go to Politics blog


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

Diary

Note: we have moved the preamble to the end as an appendix and renamed it Background to the conflict.

Winometer shows Russia has slight edgeSome eight months on from the start of Ukraine's Spring Campaign (beginning about 6th June 2023) it is clear Russia has been able to hang-on to most of the territory it captured in 2022. This has come at great cost to Moscow with the Russian army suffering thousands if not tens of thousands of casualties, loss of hundreds of tanks, and many more artillery pieces.

Despite losses, the media reports Russia is now on the front foot so our 'Winometer' has been updated to show the balance of power has swung towards Russia.

The supply of munitions from North Korea, drones from Iran, continued recruitment into the Russian army, the stepping up Russia's defense budget and putting the economy on a war footing make it possible for Russia to defeat Ukraine, now aid from the US is faltering, and the UAF is allegedly having difficulty replacing casualties.

The Ukraine-Russia War looks set to continue for at least another year, if not two years, at a time when 'rumblings' from the US Presidential Election campaign suggest a possible weakening in US resolve on the Republican side.

The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin,, who has been a strong supporter of Ukraine, has prostate cancer and may be forced to step down.

On the ground, the UAF had been only 30Km away from Russia's important logistics' hub at Tokmak, but Russia has mounted a counter-offensive and is re-occupying Robotyne possibly ruling out any Ukrainian attempt to push towards Tokmak and Crimea in 2024.

Both sides have everything to play for in 2024. The outcome will largely depend on the resolve of politicians in the West; which is an extremely worrying thought!

27th February 2024 (day 734)

Ukraine falling back

It feels like a critical juncture has been reached in the Ukraine Russia war.

Having taken the centre of the city of Avdiivka, Russia is reported to have occupied the villages of Sieverne and Stepove enclosing the 'horns of the buffalo' around the western outskirts of the city.

Ukraine is said to be falling back to a line between Tenenke, Orlivka and Berdychi, possibly before moving further back to a stronger defensive line between Ocheretyne to the north, Yevhenivka, Kromyshivka and Karlivka to the south; this would be a withdrawal of some 20 Km.

On Yahoo news numerous comments can be found about Ukraine retreating and asking why should the US waste further money on Ukraine? It is not clear whether this is what people are thinking, or it's Russian bots scattering propaganda.

President Zelensky has suggested plans for last year's counter-offensive had been leaked, in advance, to Moscow.

Summit in Paris

Yesterday French President Macron held a summit in Paris to discuss Ukraine.

A Sky News video of the news conference after the meeting can be found on YouTube. The French newspaper Le Monde also carries a report.

Click for video - French President Emmanuel Macron holds a news conference following the Ukraine Summit

Click for Le Monde story - War in Ukraine: Macron doesn't rule out sending Western troops on the ground, announces missile coalition

The Le Monde article includes this quote:-

A French presidential official, speaking anonymously, emphasized the importance of countering any perception of disarray following Ukraine's recent setbacks on the battlefield. 'We aim to send a resolute message to Putin that he will not prevail in Ukraine,' the official asserted.

25th February 2024 (day 732)

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Russia's large scale invasion of Ukraine; so the Ukraine Russia War enters into a third year, with Russia reinforced and Ukraine reporting a significant shortage of ammunition and personnel.

Many put this down to the Republican party holding up the $60 Bn aid package proposed by US President Biden, and Chancellor Scholz withholding Taurus cruise missiles.

Russian losses

MODUK Defence Intelligence reported on Twitter on 24th February:-

Russia originally deployed approximately 130 Bn Tactical Groups. This likely included approx 1,300 tanks, over 5,000 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs)  and APCs, and at least 100,000 personnel.

In two years conflict Russian losses match and in many cases surpass those in the original force. Confirmed losses include over 2,700 tanks, and 5,000 IFVs and APCs. Russia's killed and wounded are likely approx 350,000.

Mobilisation, and recruitment, production and refurbishment of existing stockpiles means that losses have been replaced. Russian forces in Ukraine are now larger in number than at the start of the war. Russia is now able to maintain attacks along the front line and pursue a strategy of attrition against Ukrainian forces.

In comparison President Zelensky says 31,000 Ukrainians have been killed, which probably means an additional 100,000 maimed and wounded which Ukraine can ill afford.

Both sides have had more killed and wounded than were in the original force.

Despite this, Russia is rumoured to have four times as many personnel in Ukraine as at the start of the war.

Russia on the front foot

Russia, now having greater numbers of infantry and munitions, is said to be on the front foot all along the front-line.

Ukraine has withdrawn from Avdiivka, further north Russia threatens Kupiansk and Kharkiv, to the south Russian units have re-entered Robotyne and to the west the small Ukrainian bridgehead on the east bank of the Dnipro near Krynky is under threat; so the small Ukrainian gains of the Spring 2023 Campaign are being reversed.

Air power

Russia is doing less well in the air and at sea. During the period 17th to 23rd February 2024 Russia is reported to have lost ten fixed wing aircraft:-

6 X SU-34

2 X SU-35

1 X A-50 AWACS

1 X Il-22 Airborne Command Post

Ukraine is rumoured to have downed this second Russian A-50 AWACS to the east of the Azov Sea using a modernised S-200 missile similar to the vintage Bristol Bloodhound which had been developed for the RAF in the 1950s. Russia is reported to have only seven A-50s left in service.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine says it has downed second Russian A-50 spy plane in weeks

One imagines any A-50 is a 'sitting duck' if it comes within the envelope of a surface to air missile as such airframes are very slow to maneouvre; so these long range surveillance aircraft may have to be deployed further to the east in future where they will be less effective.

Ukrainian drones are rumoured to have hit the Novolipetsk steel plant in Lipetsk, about 400 kilometers northeast of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv causing a large fire.

There are whispers Ukraine could have another go at putting the Kerch bridge out of action.

17th February 2024 (day 724)

General

Support from Ukraine's European allies continues, but sadly aid from the US is still held up.

There are whispers Ukraine could have F16 jets in the air by summer 2024, but it's by no means clear how they will be used and what benefit they will be. Aircraft and helicopters are proving very vulnerable to the air defences of both sides.

Ukraine reports shooting down two Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers and one Su-35 fighter on the Eastern front this morning.

Pundits are still suggesting that the best that Ukraine can hope for in 2024 is to defend the current front-line. For example watch Dr Leon Hartwell's discussion with General Ben Hodges and Keir Giles on Twitter (duration 1 hour):-

https://twitter.com/LeonHartwell/status/1758025492257517985

Else click link below to watch on YouTube:-

Russia-Ukraine Dialogues: battlefield dynamics and prospects for 2024

Dr Leon Hartwell seems to be warning that Putin has 'bet the house' on winning in Ukraine and forecast military spending by Moscow far exceeds that budgeted by Ukraine's allies.

It is perhaps small comfort that Ukraine has largely neutralised the Russian Black Sea Fleet, with Unmanned Seaborne Vehicles (USV), enabling grain exports to restart.

Death of Alexei Navalny

Sadly yesterday the Russian Prison Service announced the death of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny aged only 47 years. Many had wondered if Navalny might eventually replace Putin, hoping that might lead to democracy in Russia and withdrawal from Ukraine;  no chance of that now.

Another route towards democracy could be Putin's total defeat in Ukraine; which might cause Russia's new leadership to reassess the country's role in the modern world.

Withdrawal from Avdiivka

Overwhelming Russian numbers have forced Ukraine to withdraw from the city of Avdiivka which has been contested for many months. A victory for Putin who likes winning whatever the cost in Russian lives.

Click for Daily KOS report - Ukraine Invasion Day 724: Avdiivka withdrawal has begun

10th February 2024 (day 717)

The fog of war

It's difficult to know what's going on, but it appears that Russia is making gains in its attempt to capture Avdiivka, and is massing forces to attack in the Kupiansk/Kremmina direction possibly with the hope of retaking Karkhiv.

A Russian counter-attack towards Robotyne and Orikhiv is also thought to be in the making.

Commentators on Twitter suggest Ukraine is running short on infantry and ammunition which suggests the balance of power is shifting to Russia which has a larger population and has put its workforce on a war footing.

Putin seems to be becoming more certain he is going to win.

US election

It's still uncertain whether the Republicans will vote for the large aid package for Ukraine needed to keep Putin's forces at bay. Both candidates for US President are old men. Some say Biden's faculties are waning, while Trump facing court actions is accused of being a liar; this leaves one wondering whether either candidate will proceed to the final ballot.

Putin must be rubbing his hands with glee at both America's inability to field stronger candidates and Republicans in the House of Representatives continuing to delay aid for Ukraine.

The present speaker of the House of Representatives is Mike Johnson. True or not, there are allegations in the media that he has received campaign contributions from sources linked to Russia.

United States Secretary of Defense

Lloyd Austin, aged 70 years, who has been a strong supporter of Ukraine is suffering from bladder and prostate problems raising a question mark whether he will be able to remain in post.

Ukraine replaces commander in chief

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Oleksandr Syrsky, who has led Ukraine’s ground forces since 2019, as the new head of Ukraine’s armed forces, replacing General Valerii Zaluzhny.

Some say this is a mistake, but after two years in the role others say General Zaluzhny is due rest and recuperation.

There are thousands of ordinary soldiers who need to be rotated and rested - and this could be dependent on mobilising and training tens of thousands of new recruits. Zelensky is said to be keen to retain people in the workforce to preserve the economy rather than sending them out as cannon fodder.

Philip Ingram

Last Sunday, analyst and journalist Philip Ingram speaking on BBC Radio 5, said that in his opinion the possibility of WWIII was more likely than in past years and therefore governments should be developing plans for what to if that happened. That seems to imply more should be spent on Defence.

At the end of WWII some say 40% of the UK economy was being spent on defence, falling to about 10% in the 1970s, and a paltry 2% now, whereas Putin has recently increased Russian spending to 6%.

With the UK election falling in the latter half of 2024, and people clamouring for more money in their pockets, there is a danger the British government will kick the can down the road leaving the UK in a weak position.

Starlink

Russia is said to be fielding Elon Musk's Starlink terminals in Ukraine so has probably found a way to purchase them from a third party possibly in the Middle East.

Commentators suggest Elon Musk thinks the war must be brought to an end to stop the killing and doesn't mind if Ukraine loses.

Tucker Carlson

American journalist and TV host Tucker Carlson has visited Moscow to interview President Putin. Some see him as a mouthpiece for Putin.

The Third Battle of Kharkov (Donets campaign)

It was interesting to watch Narrow Escapes of WWII on the Yesterday TV channel on 7th February 2024. This related how retreating German forces manoeuvred to flank the stronger Soviet Red Army delivering a devastating counter-punch in 1943.

The Russians were then fighting over flat terrain on a line not far removed from the current line of battle - from Belgorod in the north, through Kharkiv, Rostov-on-Don, down to the Black Sea in the south.

This tactical victory was attributed to German commander Field Marshal Eric Von Manstein aided by the Luftwaffe.

One might therefore wonder if Ukraine, with a cunning plan, could similarly defeat the Russians. Attractive as this idea might be, improved surveillance especially by drones makes it unlikely either side will catch the other unawares, while Russian defences in depth make it extremely difficult for Ukraine to recapture lost territory.

The sad fact is that at present Russia has more men and more ammunition.

1st February 2024 (day 708)

General

There appears to have been little change in the front line during January, despite Russia's winter offensive costing of the order of 25,000 killed and possibly triple that maimed and wounded. One wonders how much longer it will be before those in power realise the enormous damage being caused to the Russian economy, oust Putin, and bring this senseless war to an end.

Some Western pundits are suggesting 2024 could be a year of stalemate, imagining Ukraine might just be in a position to launch an offensive in 2025 subject of course to the resumption of US aid. However with Putin already ramping up the production of military equipment and Russia's arsenal being replenished with munitions from Iran and North Korea that seems a pipe-dream.

If rumours are true Putin wants to cement his gains and advance deeper into eastern Ukraine. However it is not all going Russia's way.

Sinking of Russian Missile Corvette Ivanovets

Ukraine reports that last night the Russian Missile Corvette Ivanovets was attacked by  four Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) otherwise known as Sea Drones and sunk in Donuzlav Bay on the west coast of Crimea.

It appears the Ukrainian USVs managed to pass through the 200 metre wide channel into the bay undetected, catching the crew unawares.

Click for BBC report Ukraine hits Russian missile boat Ivanovets in Black Sea

Activities of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

There have been reports of a flurry of recent attacks on Russian installations and airfields in Crimea possibly involving air-launched Storm-shadow and SCALP cruise missiles.

Other unexplained fires at gas terminals, electricity sub-stations, and warehouses in Russia may have been caused by much smaller Ukrainian drones or Special Forces.

Cheap drones are being increasingly used by both sides for tactical reconnaissance and to attack infantry in trenches, tanks, APC, artillery and command posts.

For example, see BBC report - In Ukraine's river war, drones mean nowhere is safe

Politics and Financial Aid

The EU has now approved Euro 50 Bn EU aid to Ukraine over the next 4 years, despite initial objections by Viktor Orban of Hungary.

US aid is still held up but Ukraine takes some comfort from rumours Donald Trump has been doing less well in recent days.

24th January 2024 (day 700)

Russian Il-76 cargo plane downed

A Russian Il-76 cargo plane, hit by a missile, crashed near Belgorod.

Russia claims the aircraft was carrying 65 Ukrainian POW for a prisoner exchange; the facts are unclear at the moment and perhaps will never be known.

Click for BBC report - Russia risked lives in downed plane, Volodymyr Zelensky says

15th January 2024 (day 691)

Ukraine claims to have shot down a Russian A-50 AWACS surveillance aircraft over the sea of Azov, which crashed near occupied Berdyansk. An Il-22 Control Centre aircraft also suffered damage but landed safely.

Click for BBC article: Ukraine says it shot down Russian A-50 spy plane

Rishi Sunak says he will increase military funding for Ukraine next financial year to £2.5 billion, supporting largest ever commitment of drones. Hopefully other nations will follow.

Click for press release - PM in Kyiv: UK support will not falter

Military strikes by the US and UK at the weekend aimed at deterring Houthi 'terrorists' in Yemen from attacking merchant ships in the Red Sea create the risk of opening up another side-show diverting the media and possibly munitions from the war in Ukraine.

Click for BBC article: UK and US strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen are self-defence, says Rishi Sunak

4th January 2024 (day 680)

So Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which was supposed to take 3 days, moves into a third year. It appears Putin still hopes to win, backed by munitions from Iran and North Korea, and an uptick in aid from China.

In the last few days, Russia is reported to have launched about 500 drones, cruise and ballistic missiles at Ukraine. These are said to have been launched in swarms from different directions in an attempt to overwhelm the air defences. One wonders for how long the RuAF can keep up this rate of fire and how long before the air defences run out of ammunition.

There have been rumours that few of the Leopard tanks delivered to Ukraine remain in service due to maintenance issues, and that some UAF units have had to fall back due to lack of ammunition.

Turkey, a member of NATO, has so far prevented entry of two British minesweepers into the Black Sea to clear corridors for commercial shipping. That's no surprise as a treaty bans warships, but one sometimes wonders which side Turkey is on.

Western leaders are being reminded by the media that aid for Ukraine needs to be increased if Putin's Special Military Operation is to be stopped.

Very worryingly our politicians are giving no indication that they have heard the message, let alone acted upon it.

Click to read other news from Daily KOS - Ukraine Invasion Day 680: combat continues

30th December 2023 (day 675)

Largest air raid of the war

Yesterday in the early hours Russia launched the largest aerial bombardment of the Ukraine war. In total there were 158, drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles fired from land, sea, and air at major cities including Liev, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Kiev. 114 missiles were said to have been shot down with the debris and other missiles mostly hitting apartments, schools and hospitals.

Click to read commentary by Phillips P OBrien on this and the sinking of the Russian landing ship Novocherkassk:-

Weekend Update #61 The Two Attacks

Support for Ukraine

Commentators, such as Tim Marshall speaking on Radio 5 yesterday morning, continue to point out that, whilst the West has a much stronger economy than Russia, Ukraine can only win by the West steadily ramping up production of armaments and munitions - and at the moment there is little evidence that is happening.

26th December 2023 (day 671)

It is reported that missiles launched by Ukrainian aircraft destroyed the Russian landing ship Novocherkassk which was possibly carrying Iranian Shahed drones in the port of Feodosiya on the eastern side of occupied Crimea.

Click for BBC report - Russia confirms damage to warship in Black Sea

5 days ago Ukrainian air defences were said to have brought down three SU-24 Russian fighter-bomber aircraft in the Kherson direction.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine says it downed three Russian Su-34 warplanes

25th December 2023 (day 670)

Christmas Day

Ukraine moves the celebration of Christmas Day to 25th December; previously it had been 7th January according to the Julian Calendar used by the Orthodox church in Russia.

Click for BBC article - New Christmas date marks shift away from Russia

Clerics and King Charles remind us to be kind to others.

Sadly, Putin preaches the opposite of 'Peace and Goodwill to all Men'.

Capture of Mariynka

Russia announced the capture of the city of Mariynka where fighting had been going on for months. The city has been totally destroyed by the fighting. Mariynka lies about 30 Km east of the city of Donetsk.

24th December 2023 (day 669)

Scenarios

With the world in turmoil one sometimes wonders if WWIII has already started in all but name.

In a YouTube video for 'The i Paper' retired Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon goes through the major developments in the conflict in 2023. He warns of growing war-weariness in the West and gives his view on the possible outcomes for the conflict in 2024. The video is worth watching, here is the link:

'WW3 Is Not That Far Away' The War In Ukraine In 2023

In summary the postulated scenarios for 2024 are,

  • Continuing stalemate;

  • Ukraine, with timely support, retakes Crimea with peace eventually being negotiated;

  • US support dwindles, Russia takes Ukraine and threatens the Baltic states, triggering a European war.

While the West appears to dither, Putin has put the Russian economy on a war footing and begun ramping up production of armaments. Therefore NATO countries, most importantly the US, will have to catch up and overtake by rapidly stepping up production of arms for Ukraine, in order for Putin to be thwarted and a wider European war avoided.

Politicians are known for being slow to react so there is the possibility of a wider European War starting in say 2025 or 2026; hopefully that risk is small. More likely - perhaps the Russian people will becoming increasingly disillusioned with Putin resulting in him being ousted towards the end of 2024.

Propaganda will likely play a huge role in the way things go.

As 2023 draws to a close let's hope Western politicians remain united,  provide strong leadership, and maintain the will to win in 2024.

20th December 2023 (day 665)

The influence of elections and progaganda

During the last 3 weeks or so the situation does not appear to have greatly changed. Russia continues to press near Kupiansk, Bakhmut, Advdiivka and is reported to have made small gains SW of Donetsk.

Further west, small groups of Ukrainian soldiers have crossed to the east bank of the Dnieper river near Kherson but  have not been able to advance much further.

The weather is playing a part with fog, snow and mud impeding manouvre.

A slackening of deliveries of munitions from the west is said to have resulted in the rationing of ammunition since September.

Republicans in the USA are blocking $ 60 Bn of aid to Ukraine. Every year at this time there are arguments about budgets, but this year there is an extra factor; Republicans don't want Biden to win the US presidential election in 2024.

Republicans may be engaging in short term political manouvering turning a blind eye to security issues of national importance.

In the EU 50 Bn aid to Ukraine is being blocked by Viktor Orban of Hungary; some accuse him of being a supporter of Putin while others suggest he is an opportunist attempting to squeeze as much money out of the EU as he can.

Click this link for Guardian Newspaper article:

Hungary blocks €50bn in EU aid for Ukraine hours after membership talks approved

Also see this BBC article:

Ukraine war: Kyiv forced to cut military operations as foreign aid dries up

The world situation appears grim. For over two months journalists have turned their attention away from Putin's invasion of Ukraine to the dreadful situation in Gaza. Houthi rebels in Yemen backed by Iran are harassing shipping approaching the Suez canal with drones and missiles, such that few vessels are currently prepared to attempt passage through the Red Sea; while China threatens to invade Taiwan.

Analyst Fiona Hill points to the Ukraine war being at a tipping point. Click to read Fiona Hill's assessment:

We’ll Be at Each Others’ Throats’: Fiona Hill on What Happens If Putin Wins

Many pundits are saying Putin will win if the West tires of supporting Ukraine.

Putin is in a strong position. He has put Russia on a war footing, and his re-election in 2024 is virtually guaranteed. Putin could be beginning to think that the West is looking pretty pathetic.

Western politicians are likely more concerned about keeping their individual seats and parties in power than preserving the world order.

So the big question as we go into 2024 is will the Western alliance remain solid and continue to face-down Putin enabling Ukraine to win?

The propaganda war continues in parallel with battlefield activity. Putin's people are sending out the message that Ukraine can't win which is being amplified by parts of the Western media who paint the blackest picture.

Supporters of Ukraine, on the other hand, are arguing that Ukraine needs more aid to get the job done, including Taurus cruise missiles from Germany and many more ATACMS tube artillery from the US.

Some are saying Zelensky's popularity has waned somewhat, and that conscription may be needed to bolster UAF numbers; similar things are happening in Russia where mothers are saying on Telegram that Putin should be sent to the front and die.

It will be the nation with the stronger will to win and logistics that emerges victorious.

The outcome of the Ukraine war remains largely in the hands of NATO and Western allies. Putin will be constantly asking himself does the West really have the will to win?

Click to read views of analyst Dara Massicot dated 18th December 2023.

The West’s Inaction Over Ukraine Risks Dangerous Conclusions in Moscow

Israel

Putin has sounded reasonably friendly towards Israel in the past, but some pundits suggest he will be taking an anti Jewish stance, in order to cement his relationship with Iran.

China

China appears to be taking a fairly neutral stance, but pundits are saying if Putin gets away with invading Ukraine, that could give China the green light to invade Taiwan.

25th November 2023 (day 640)

General

Decided to drop the heading 'Ukraine Spring Campaign'  which has petered out. The Russian defences have largely held up and so for example south of Orikhiv the UAF has got little further than Robotyne.

It feels as though Putin, despite heavy losses, is attempting to increase the squeeze on Ukraine. In recent weeks there have been numerous Russian attacks, mostly repelled by the UAF; while it is reported last night  a swarm of 75 Shahed drones (Iran's version of the V-1 Flying Bomb) were launched at Kiev - fortunately most were shot down by the air defences.

Russia seems to be putting a lot of effort into taking Avdiivka presumably to secure Donetsk and bolster Putin's election prospects

Bob Seely MP has published an interesting article on the Foreign Affairs website describing the various means by which Russia is attempting to conquer Ukraine.

Click to read: The Russian Way of War

Truckers' dispute

Polish truckers are blocking border crossings with Ukraine, leading to 2,000 or so vehicles being held up. Slovak truckers are threatening to come out in sympathy, so hauliers are diverting lorries through Hungary. It is rumoured the organisers of the dispute could have close links with Russia which makes one wonder whether the KGB has a hand in this.

Click to read BBC story - Poland truck protests leave Ukrainian drivers stranded

Possible destruction of coal mines

There is a report of Russia deliberately destroying and flooding a coal mine at Krasnyi Kut  to the west of Donetsk. Were that true, it suggests the Russians may not be confident of a long stay.

Weather

Winter is increasingly setting in. Mud and snow will be reducing mobility and making life very uncomfortable for all the combatants.

 

18th November 2023 (day 633)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 165)

Continuing stalemate

Three weeks on and once again there has been no major breakthrough on either side.

With winter fast approaching we can conclude the Ukrainian Spring Campaign is over, having gained little ground.

Pundits are suggesting the Ukrainians under-estimated the strength of the Russian defences and were over-optimistic hoping the tired Russian troops would take fright and run.

South of Orikhive Ukraine fought hard to capture Robotyne, but there the offensive seems to have stalled with little chance now of Ukraine reaching Tokmak by Christmas.

In the vicinity of Kherson, small numbers of UAF troops have managed to set up a bridgehead on the Eastern ban of the Dnipro river where the Russians have suffered heavy losses counter-attacking Krynky. Possibly the Russians are weaker here after sending reinforcements to the eastern front.

During October the Russians have been on the offensive all the way down the eastern front from Kupiansk in the north to Bakhmut and Avdiivka further south. Russia is said to have lost a lot of men and equipment for only small gains.

Ukraine seems to have largely neutralised the Russian Naval fleet in the Black Sea forcing it to move eastwards from Crimea to the Russian port of Novorossiysk. Possibly the ATESH partisan movement had some hand in this.

Situation finely balanced

Pundits suggest that despite the stalemate continuing for several months, the situation is finely balanced. Russia has approximately four times the population of Ukraine so more men to mobilise; Putin is probably still expecting to win by continuing to put more men through the 'meat grinder' until the West tires of supporting Ukraine.

Putting it another way Ukraine needs to kill 4 Russians for each man it loses which can probably only be achieved by fighting a defensive battle - and that points to an eventual cease-fire line roughly where things stand.

If Ukraine is to have any chance of pushing the Russians out of the Kherson district and recapturing Crimea, by say the Summer of 2024, one assumes it will need the West to up its supply of armaments considerably, both in terms of facilitating close combat, and interdicting Russian Ground Lines Of Communication, for example using F16s and ATACMS. That looks uncertain while the US is diverting munitions and its attention to Israel.

With colder weather on the way it is going to be an uncomfortable winter for exhausted soldiers on both sides. Ukraine is expecting Putin to launch further attacks on the country's energy infrastructure this winter, so civilians can also expect to suffer.

At the moment all that can be expected is more of the same.

28th October 2023 (day 612)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 144)

Stalemate

Some two weeks on, there appears to have been little change in the front line and an increasing smell of STALEMATE in the air. Ukraine's Spring campaign appears to have stalled, possibly not helped by a shortage of weaponry from the West.

A small number of  ATACMS longer range missiles armed with cluster munitions were recently delivered to Ukraine, and have been used with great success to attack airfields in Berydansk and Luhansk City damaging between 9 and 20 Russian helicopters and runway infrastructure; however rumour has it there are not enough missiles to significantly alter the outcome of the war.

Russia having more men and equipment has been counter-attacking along the whole of the eastern front augmented by fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, particularly at Adiivka. So far, Ukraine has been able largely to resist these attacks with Russia losing a lot of men and armoured vehicles.

To counter these attacks Ukraine has had to use assets which could have otherwise been better used in the main offensive south of Orikhiv.

There have been unsubstantiated rumours Putin may have suffered a heart attack; possibly fake news. There are also rumours of widows and injured soldiers returning to Russia increasingly expressing discontent at the war, and of Russia executing retreating soldiers.

A Hamas delegation is alleged to have met in Moscow with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Bogdanov. Possibly Putin may be thinking of stirring up trouble in the Middle East in order to slow the flow of arms to Ukraine.

It seems both sides are tiring of this war in which case could both sides eventually settle for a freezing of the present front line?

Tim White is posting an everyday account on Twitter of events in Ukraine. For example see this link to his post for Day 612:-

https://twitter.com/TWMCLtd/status/1718168044034265331

 

11th October 2023 (day 595)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 127)

Events in Israel

The shocking attack by some 1,500 Hamas gunmen, in a scene which could have come from the Australian film series Mad Max, is now said to have led to the massacre of at least 1,300 Israeli men, women and children. For example see the report below about events in one Kibbutz.

Click for BBC report - Inside Kfar Aza where Hamas militants killed families in their homes

This atrocity is a 9/11 moment that has put Israel on a war footing. Consequently, for the time being, the media has relegated reports from Ukraine to the 'back page'.

Pundits suggest Iran may be trying to prevent closer links between Israel and the Saudi government, while one wonders whether Putin is attempting to divert attention from his war in Ukraine.

Yesterday, Russia's request to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council was refused.

Click for BBC report - Russia failed in its attempt to rejoin the UN's human rights council

7th October 2023 (day 591)

Israel

It's the 50th Annivesay of the Yom Kippur War.

Hamas terrorists in Gaza launch a well-planned large scale attack on civilian settlements in Israel. The IDF is taken by surprise and is slow to respond.

260 music-lovers at the Supernova music festival are reported to have been slaughtered and others massacred.

Click for BBC video - How the Hamas attack on the Supernova festival in Israel unfolded

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 123)

Ten days on and there seems to have been little change in the front line. Russia is said to have been moving its reserves to counter weak spots and intensifying mine laying efforts around Robotyne to slow any Ukrainian advance.

Russia remains a formidable enemy. The war is like a game of chess and the current position appears close to stalemate.

Pundits expect this to continue a long and tough fight.

In a recent broadcast President Zelensky said 'we must win this winter, overcome all difficulties; the protection for all our people is crucial'.

https://twitter.com/ZelenskyyUa/status/1710356518640517613

However, based on the present rate of advance, it seems unlikely that Ukraine can win the war this winter - whatever 'winning' means. The sides are too evenly matched and one assumes Ukraine is unlikely to make much progress without a significant force advantage.

In the last 10 days the media has carried much speculation about cracks appearing in the Western alliance, such as reducing support from Slovakia and Poland, and US Congress failing to approve budget. Such speculation is what Putin has been banking on; he thinks the West will blink first.

The Guardian carried an article by Stephen Wertheim a Senior Fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace suggesting a compromise with Putin.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/oct/05/biden-us-strategy-russia-ukraine-war

Negative speculation such as this fuels Russian propaganda that support for Ukraine is waning.

In HIS broadcast President Zelensky thanked the following nations for their continuing support.

Germany - negotiating the transfer of a further Patriot air defence battery.

France - unspecified.

Italy - new security package.

Spain - additional Hawk air defences.

UK - promoting safe export of food via the Black Sea.

Netherlands - support for energy systems.

War is a test of wills and logistics and the West has to maintain its resolve if Ukraine is to win, recognising that Russian propagandists will be doing all they can to sow seeds of doubt in the media and amongst the general public.

27th September 2023 (day 581)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 113)

It's two weeks since our last diary entry and little seems to have changed suggesting both sides are fairly evenly matched. Ukraine is on the offensive and, despite some pushback, Russia entrenched in defensive lines appears on the back-foot. Both sides continue to slog it out with heavy casualties on both sides.

Ukraine could reach Tokmak by Christmas, but that looks by no means certain and it's possible, by moving its reserves, Russia will launch a counter-offensive.

Western pundits are expecting the war to go on for at least another year, while Russian General Shoigu is planning to carry the war into 2025 in order to wear down the Ukrainians and achieve a Russian victory. Clearly Shoigu thinks it unlikely the RuAF will  be able to defeat Ukraine in 2024!

Western commentators are urging the US and western governments to maintain support for Ukraine hoping that with ATACMS missiles, more tanks and F16s the tide will increasingly turn in favour of Ukraine.

The media hints President Biden may have approved the delivery of ATACMS to Ukraine but that has not been confirmed by the White House. These missiles are very expensive and delivery of a few is unlikely to alter the direction of the war.

Germany has still not offered to send Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. That might be because President Scholz is worried about upsetting Putin, but it could be because there are doubts about the missiles 'operational readiness'.

Drone wars

Yesterday BBC Newsnight carried a report by Mike Urban about Ukrainian soldiers operating drones on the front-line.

Click for BBC Newsnight YouTube video - Soldiers strap DIY bombs to commercial drones

It appears commercial drones are playing a big part in this war and Russia has a lot of them.

Attack on Russian navy HQ in Sevastopol

Last Friday there was a successful strike on the Headquarters of the Russian Navy in Sevastopol using Storm Shadow cruise missiles. Ukraine claims the Commander of the Black Sea fleet was killed, while Russia denies this.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine claims Sevastopol strike hit navy commanders

Ukraine claims to be developing a torpedo-like underwater drone named Marichka.

One gets the impression Ukraine has largely managed to neutralise the Russian Black Sea fleet. There is less talk of Russian warships harrying grain shipments and the invasion of Odessa from the sea - but the Russian navy remains capable of launching missiles at Ukrainian infrastructure.

Attack on ammunition warehouse

Yesterday loud explosions were heard in Russian-occupied Sorokyne also known as Krasnodon in Luhansk region leading to speculation a large ammunition depot had been hit.

Winter on the way

With little more than 2 weeks to the onset of winter, any armoured vehicles of either side venturing off road are soon going to get bogged down in the mud.

The fighting effectiveness of soldiers hunkered down in cold waterlogged trenches is likely to drop.

It remains to be seen whether or not Ukraine can take advantage of the deteriorating weather.

The outcome of this conflict may well depend on the extent to which Ukraine can stay ahead in the Drone War.

13th September 2023 (day 567)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 99)

Missiles and drones continued to be fired by both sides. The biggest news of the day was the successful Ukrainian attack on ships in dry dock at Sevastopol.

Attack on Russian naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea

Two Russian warships were badly damaged in a large scale missile attack on the Russian occupied dockyard at Sevastopol:

  • The large landing ship Minsk

  • The Kilo class diesel electric submarine Rostov-Na- Donu

The pre dawn attack is rumoured to have been by ten air launched Storm Shadow cruise missiles, of which the Russians claim to have shot down seven, and three unmanned surface vehicles all of which were said to have been countered by the Russian defences.

Click for Sky News report - What do we know about Sevastopol strike?

The attack suggests that Putin can no longer consider Crimea a safe haven for the Russian fleet. Things seem to be turning sour for the Russians.

12th September 2023 (day 566)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 98)

Very little news has emerged about the situation in Ukraine over the last two weeks.

Up in the north Ukraine seems to be holding off a large Russian force in the vicinity of Svatove and Kupyansk; Ukraine claims to have made some small gains around Bakhmut, whereas the main effort appears to be south of Robotyne.

This is turning out to be a war primarily involving infantry, artillery and most importantly drones.

The UAF is slowly fighting its way south through the Russian defences, learning as it goes. It is reported to have reached Kopani and the outskirts of Novoprokopovka, half way from Orikhiv to Tokmak.

Ukrainian seaborne forces have recaptured the Petro Hodovalets and Ukraina (Boyko) offshore oil platforms in the Black Sea upon which Russia had placed surveillance assets.

Commentators are suggesting that there are now little more than 30 days to go before the winter sets in, and cold and mud begin to hamper operations.

Pundits suggest Putin will once again target civilian infrastructure during the winter hoping harsh conditions will reduce support for Zelensky's government.

Putin will be quite pleased that over a period of three months Ukraine's offensive has recaptured very little territory, and he may be planning his own offensive hoping to strike back at Ukraine in 2024.

To this end there are rumours Putin is planning to mobilise another 400,000 soldiers, while North Korean President Kim Jong Un is in Moscow possibly to discuss the supply of ammunition in exchange for nuclear know-how.

The supply of Taurus cruise missiles from Germany, and ATACMS from the USA, which Ukraine urgently needs to bolster longer range attacks on Russian Lines of Supply, have still not been approved. Ukraine really needs these ASAP while the Russians are on the back-foot.

The EU does not appear fully united in support for Ukraine. The President of Hungary Viktor Orban seemingly sides with Putin, while Austria still buys gas from Russia thereby helping prop up the Russian economy and war effort.

With Putin showing no sign of backing down, and the West being a little slow to 'fully' back Ukraine, one wonders how and when this war is going to end.

28th August 2023 (day 551)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 83)

Despite pessimistic claims that the Spring Offensive is making little headway, things seem to be turning sour for the Russians.

South of Robotyne the Russian line appears to be weakening; elsewhere command posts and ammunition dumps continue to be destroyed; small drones continue to fly towards Moscow, and in recent days a missile site and radar station in Crimea was wiped out and a swarm of drones attacked a Russian airfield near Kursk.

Prighozin presumed dead

Four days ago a plane carrying Prighozin and other senior Wagner Group commanders plunged to the ground and exploded in flames shortly after leaving Moscow for St Petersburg.

There are rumours the plane was brought down by two Russian air defence missiles, while others suggest there may have been a bomb on board.

Many think Putin ordered Prighozin's death in revenge for the Wagner Group's march on Moscow.

Putin appears to be neutralising the Wagner Group by ordering them to handover their heavy weapons, assassinating their leaders, and instructing the mercenaries to swear allegiance to Moscow.

Russian lines of communication vulnerable

The media debate about whether Ukraine is making much progress in the Spring campaign continues.

On a positive note some say as the UAF nears Tokmak more and more Russian Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs) will come within artillery range and when that happens it will be all but over for the Russians.

Russian officers purged

Others are saying Putin's purge of Russian officers, following the aborted Wagner Group march towards Moscow, leaves mostly 'desktop' commanders with little battle experience.

Capture of Robotyne

Ukraine is reported to have captured Robotyne and is beginning to advance towards Tokmak.

M26 cluster munitions and cardboard drones

There is a suggestion that M26 cluster rockets for HIMARS would speed the Ukrainian advance. The US has a lot of these awaiting disposal, but unexploded bomblets could present an unacceptable hazard to civilians after the war; so doubtful President Biden would approve.

Flat packed cardboard drones supplied by Australia are being employed; these only carry small payloads but are hard for the Russians to detect.

Peace negotiations not yet in sight

Meanwhile Putin probably thinks he can hold onto the remaining Ukrainian territory that the Russian Armed Forces (RuAF) still occupies.

Putin could be removed were Ukraine to reach Tokmak before Christmas, but would any new leader be willing to end Putin's Special Military Adventure?

Diplomats, business leaders, and people of goodwill on both sides need to work hard in the background to influence Putin's successor and bring this war which benefits no-one to  a close.

18th August 2023 (day 541)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 73)

Little of significance seems to have happened in the last ten days as Ukraine and Russia have continued to slog it out.

The concentrated thrust suggested by some observers has not materialised and Ukraine is reported to be pressing forward with small groups of soldiers in order to minimise loss of life.

In the north the Russians, aided by reinforcements, are attempting to advance around Kremmina and Kupiansk.

In the south Ukraine keeps advancing, albeit slowly, around Robotyne and south of Orikhiv.

In the west the UAF is slowly building up on the east bank of the Dnieper river near the Anotovsky bridge and Kozachi Laheri.

To the east the Russians seem to have largely delayed Ukraine advancing around Bakhmut.

It's some 70 miles from Orikhiv to Melitopol so unless the Russian defences crumble, which cannot totally be ruled out, it seems doubtful Ukraine will be able to push the Russians out of Melitopol this year.

Meanwhile Putin is playing the long game and hoping the US public will eventually tire of the US administration supporting Ukraine.

Some parts of the media report US politicians quibbling over approving further aid packages for Ukraine, perhaps because funding of the Spring Offensive has only led to limited gains. It's not clear whether this is fake news or an indication Putin's gamble might yet pay off.

In the run up to the US presidential election in 2024, politicians will be judging the public mood and as that seems to be increasingly split over supporting Ukraine there is no certainty Ukraine will get all the aid it wants to push the Russians out.

Pundits are saying Ukraine really needs a big win in order to show the US public that their dollars are not being wasted.

8th August 2023 (day 531)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 63)
General

Russian missiles hit a hotel used by journalists in Pokrovsk 60 Km north west of the city of Donetsk. A second missile some time later kills responders.

Russian forces are still defending the edges of Robotyne and attempting to prevent Ukraine advancing south from Staromaiorske.

There is some fighting on the east bank of the Dnieper river around Kozachi Laheri which at present appears no more than a diversion.

Overall, Russian forces are halting any significant advance by Ukraine. However Ukraine will be hoping that attacks on Russian Lines Of Communication will cause the Russian defences to weaken, enabling sections to be overwhelmed before the weather deteriorates as winter approaches.

There are conflicting reports about whether or not Germany will supply Taurus air launched cruise missiles to Ukraine. These are the German equivalent of the Storm Shadow supplied by the UK and much needed to attack the Russian rear.

Thirty one Abrams tanks are expected from the US in the Autumn.

6th August 2023 (day 529)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 61)
Russian missile attacks continue

Russia launched another wave of missile attacks. Targets are said to have included Starokostiantyniv airfield in the west of Ukraine and the Motor Sich plant in the south.

Attacks on Crimean Road bridges

Following the attack on the railway bridge at Chonghar last week Ukraine has successfully targeted the road bridges. The principal M-18 HWY crossing at Chongar was hit, as was a secondary road bridge at Henichesk. Ukraine is clearly aiming to interrupt Russian Lines of Communication by separating Crimea from mainland Ukraine.

5th August 2023 (day 528)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 60)
At sea

Two nights ago, Ukrainian Unmanned Surface Vessels badly damaged the Russian roll-on roll-off logistics ship Olenegorsky Gornyak near the Russian port of Novorossiysk, one of the largest ports on the Black Sea. It will probably be out of action for the rest of the war.

The Russians were probably surprised that the ship was hit as Novorossiysk lies about 400Km east of Sevastopol, supposedly beyond the reach of Ukraine's military.

Last night sea drones slightly damaged the Russian oil tanker Sig near the Kerch bridge putting its engine room out of action.

Ukraine is sending the Russians a message - if you hit us, expect us to hit you.

Putin is a bully and Ukraine is standing up to him. What Putin needs is a punch on the nose and pundits are beginning to say, in order to bring the conflict more swiftly to an end, the West should allow its weapons to hit military targets in Russia.

Calls for the supply of longer ranger missiles such as ATACMS from the US and Taurus from Germany continue.

Unlike France and the UK, Germany has so far refused to supply Taurus air to ground missiles, which have a range of about 500 KM.

Peace talks

Forty nations, excluding Russia, are getting together to discuss how the war between Russia and Ukraine can be brought to an end.

Click for Aljazeera article: Saudi Arabia kicks off Ukraine talks that exclude Russia

2nd August 2023 (day 525)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 57)
General situation

Last Saturday the Chongar railway bridge, linking south Ukraine with Crimea, was badly damaged which could significantly slow the flow of Russian supplies by railway to the front-line.

One or more drones hit a ministry building in Moscow. Despite little damage being caused, Zelensky seems to be signalling to the Russian population that continuation of Putin's pointless war could increasingly hurt them.

However the majority of the Russian population seems to have been brainwashed to support the motherland since birth. Younger people may get the message, but for the time being the majority will probably shrug off such events.

Putin has already ordered that Russian factories give priority to the war effort, and he is  now mobilising more troops by raising the conscription age from 28 to 30 years presumably to make up for roughly 200,000 either killed or injured. Apparently, reservists aged up to 70 years are now liable to be called up.

Iran is continuing to deliver large quantities of drones, and General Shoigu has been shopping in North Korea. So it looks as though Putin intends to hold onto the Ukrainian territory he has captured at any cost; Putin gives the impression that he is prepared to wage war for however many years it takes for the West to decide supporting Ukraine is not worth the cost. The question is - will the population continue to support Putin or could there be a coup in the Kremlin?

There have recently been several arson attacks on recruiting offices in Crimea suggesting discontent is building.

The Ukrainians are staggered at the density of mines laid by the Russians and are no doubt reviewing their tactics. There are suggestions that this is now going to be a 'slow burn' offensive with relentless attacks on Russian troop concentrations and Lines of Communication (LOCs).

Attacks on Ukrainian ports and grain warehouses on the river Danube close to the border of NATO countries continue. One wonders why more air defence is not provided.

Poland is annoyed by sabre rattling by the Wagner Group in Belarus and is keeping a watchful eye.

Is a turning point on the horizon?

Ukraine has managed a small advance southwards to Staromaiorske. Reports suggest many armoured vehicle were lost and there was a lot of bloodshed.

That's a first step but there are many more formidable Russian defences to breach just in order to reach Tokmak, let alone Melitopol, so further losses could be huge, unless a better plan of attack can be worked out.

 

30th July 2023 (day 522)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 54)
General situation

There appears to be a news blackout on the Ukrainian side, so pundits are mostly reflecting hearsay from Russian social media.

The general consensus is that in recent days the Ukrainian counter-offensive has stepped up a gear.

However an article in the Kyiv Post suggests the main thrust is yet to come.

Click for Kyiv Post article - Ukraine's Deliberate Push to Secure Victory

The Spring Campaign continues with Ukraine continuing to nibble away at Russian defences south of Orikhiv where fighting continues around the village of Robotyne. From there it's another 40 Km or so to the key town of Tokmak which the Russians can be expected to 'defend to the death'.

80 Km to the east, where Ukraine seems to be fighting on a fairly broad front below Velyka Novosilka, the UAF has been able to advance south capturing Staromaiorske. From there the UAF might attempt to press further south down the Mokri Yaley river towards Staromlynivka.

Further north around Kreminna the situation appears to have reached stalemate.

Recent assaults have been mostly by small groups of infantry, supported by drones, as tanks have had little luck crossing Russian minefields.

There are reports of retreating Russians troops mining their trenches and blowing them up as Ukrainian soldiers enter.

It's early days and if Ukraine is hoping to retake Melitopol and Mariupol there is a long way to go and many defensive lines to cross.

Russian Minister of Defence General Shoigu has been in North Korea presumably shopping for arms to prolong the war.

Russian missile attacks continue, one hit apartments and a security services' building in Dnipro

Yesterday, a downed missile struck the Russian town of Taganrog which lies about 60 Km west of Rostov and 90 Km east of Mariupol. Possibly the rocket was meant for Rostov.

Today, there was a naval parade in St Petersburg. Worries that there might be an attack by Ukraine proved groundless. However Ukraine did send two drones to Moscow just to remind the population that Putin's Special Military Operation could have consequences.

One gets the feeling that at last the balance of power may be beginning to shift towards Ukraine.

Putin has said there could be peace negotiations but not while the present Ukrainian offensive is going on - possibly he is being increasingly pressured by African and Chinese leaders to bring this pointless conflict to a close.

 24th July 2023 (day 516)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 48)

We never thought the war would go on so long. There are reports that many soldiers on both sides are sick of the fierce fighting resulting in many killed and wounded.

More attacks on Ukraine's economy

Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukraine's ports and grain awaiting export. Odessa has been attacked 7 nights in a row. On Sunday the Orthodox cathedral in Odessa was hit and today it is reported Russia has attacked grain facilities at the ports of Reni and Izmail on the opposite side of the Danube to Romania (a member of NATO and the EU).

See Guardian newspaper report - Trying to make the world starve: Russian drones destroy grain warehouses at Ukraine ports

Ukraine had set up for Nibulon to export grain through the ports of Reni, Izmail and Ust-Danube should export via the Black Sea be blocked.

Russia has prevented exports from Mikolaiv throughout its Special Military Operation and was never part of the Grain Deal.

Svatove and Kreminna front

Russia is reported to have advanced on the Svatove Kreminna front.

See Wikipedia article - Battle of the Svatove–Kreminna line

Crimea

Ukraine launched a multipronged attack on an ammunition storage facility in north Crimea rumoured to be storing Onyx anti ship missiles which have been used to attack Odessa.

Sky News roundup

Click for Sky News video - Ukraine war latest

20th July 2023 (day 512)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 44)

It sounds as though in the north Ukraine is on the defensive attempting to stop Russian attempts to advance, while in the South Ukraine has advanced just a little. So far, despite its best efforts, Ukraine has not achieved a breakthrough.

The grain deal

The grain deal is said to be definitely off and Russia warns ships to avoid the Black Sea after Thursday 20th July saying it will treat all ships travelling to ports in Ukraine as potentially carrying military supplies.

Ukraine has countered by saying it will treat ships heading for Russia in a similar manner.

For the time being we expect civilian shipping to be suspended due to voiding of insurance policies, which will aggravate famine in Africa.

For three nights running Putin has launched missile attacks on the port of Odessa destroying, for example, grain awaiting export.

It is rumoured in order to restore the deal Putin wants sanctions against Russia lifted while he is manouvering to sell grain stolen from Ukraine by wrecking Ukrainian exports.

Click for Sky News report - Russia 'playing on the insurance industry' by threatening Black Sea cargo ships

19th July 2023 (day 511)

Wagner Group

A significant number of Wagner Group soldiers are said to have arrived at a camp in Belarus near the railway junction at Asipovichy (otherwise Osipochi).

Asipovichy is located about 80 KM SE of the capital Minsk and 200 Km north of the Ukrainian border; a long way you might think. However the railway connects to Minsk in the north, Mahilyow in the east, Baranavichy in the west and Gomel (otherwise Homel) in the south. From Gomel it is 110 Km, or one and a half hours by tank, to the Ukrainian city of Chernhihiv which had been attacked and laid siege to by Putin at the start of the invasion.

No doubt Ukraine will be keeping an eye on the activities of Lukashenko and the Wagner Group.

Dragons Teeth

One assumes clever guys in Ukraine and the West are investigating ways to get past those concrete obstacles known as Dragons' Teeth. They look thinly spread and one wonders if tank laid ramps or bulldozers could be used to bridge them.

For example watch this 1944 video:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRld768HDyc

Easy if the enemy is not around, but much more difficult under fire.

Minefields

The slow progress of Ukraine's Spring Offensive suggests that despite modern equipment the dense minefields are proving difficult to defeat.

Either that or Ukraine is in need of a lot more mine clearing equipment?

Attack on training ground and munitions store in east Crimea

Ukraine is said to have launched a drone attack on a military training area and ammunition store near Stary Krym  in eastern Crimea causing large explosions. One wonders how Ukraine reached 230Km beyond the front line?

Russia continues missile attacks

Meanwhile Russia continues missile attacks on Ukraine with a particularly heavy attack on Odessa last night.

Defence white paper

The BBC reports Minister of Defence Ben Wallace saying the UK must learn lessons from the war in Ukraine.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine has 'tragically become a battle lab' for war technology

 

18th July 2023 (day 510)

Ben Wallace

It has been reported Ben Wallace has decided to step down as Defence Secretary and will not stand as an MP at the next election. The US appears to have vetoed his chance of becoming the next UN Secretary General, while his parliamentary seat of Wyre and Preston North is to be abolished in forthcoming boundary changes.

Another attack on Kerch bridge

Another attack on the Kerch bridge linking Russia with Crimea was reported yesterday. It is thought Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) were  exploded under the bridge damaging the roadway on one side. The railway line was undamaged.

Russia launched retaliatory missile strikes against Odessa and Mikolaiv.

Slow progress of Spring Campaign

An article in the Daily Kos suggests Ukraine currently lacks the ability to punch through the Russian defences which suggests the present war of attrition could grind on for months with only small gains being made.

Click to read Daily Kos Ukraine Update: Analysis from the front spotlights Ukraine's challenges

13th July 2023 (day 505)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 37)
General

Maps suggest little change to the ground retaken by Ukraine in the last five days.

Despite bloody fighting, the Spring Campaign seems only to have made a small dent in the territory occupied by Russia due to Putin's immensely strong fortifications. Both sides must be feeling the strain and one wonders who will weaken first.

Click for MilitaryLand: Invasion Day 504 – Summary

France has said it will send its version of the British Storm Shadow cruise missile, SCALP-EG, to Ukraine while the US continues to prevaricate over sending longer range ATACMS missiles for HIMARS.

Trouble within Russia's military leadership

General Toskov deputy commander of the Russian 58th Army was killed by an alleged Storm Shadow strike on a hotel based command centre in the port of Berdyansk.

Click for BBC article: Russian general reported killed in attack on Berdyansk hotel

His boss, General Popov, was sacked after complaining of poor support from those higher up the chain of military command such as General Gerasimov. Popov is concerned Russian soldiers are currently being decimated by Ukrainian artillery due to lack of counter-battery assets.

Click for BBC article: Russian general fired after criticising army leaders

General Surovikin who led the Russian army's retreat from Kherson has not been seen for some time. Rumour has it he may either have been sacked or even possibly killed for supporting Prigozhin's Wagner Group march on Moscow a few weeks ago.

Prigozhin himself, who it was thought had been exiled to Belarus, has been reported in St Petersburg, and could have met Putin in Moscow.

Pundits are wondering whether Putin has found a new use for the Wagner Group or had Prigozhin killed, while others suggest Wagner Group troops are handing in their weapons and retiring to jobs in the rear.

There are suggestions that there may be infighting both inside the Russian Military and Political leadership which could ultimately lead to the end of the war and Putin being deposed; if so one wonders whether the new leader will be better for, or worse for, world peace.

The situation regarding leadership matters remains obscure.

NATO summit

A NATO summit was held in Vilnius Lithuania 11th to 12th July 2023.

Western leaders seem to be taking the view that Ukraine cannot join NATO while the war with Russia is going on, otherwise NATO could find itself at war with Russia. This irritated President Zelensky and may give Putin some comfort. However Joe Biden offered some reassurance by saying 'we will not waver' in support for Ukraine.

Click to read NATO: Vilnius Summit Communique

Within this somewhat vague document NATO welcomed efforts of all Allies and partners engaged in providing support to Ukraine, and hinted that there could be a way for Ukraine to join NATO - after the present conflict and when the time is right!

8th July 2023 (day 500)

Ukraine Spring Campaign 2023 (day 32)

There has been no publicly declared date for the start of the Ukrainian Spring Offensive, but we are taking 6th June (D day) as the nominal start so it is now day 32.

Ukraine has advanced a little way north and south of Bakhmut, and southwards from Orikhiv and around Velyka Novosilka, but progress has been slower than many had hoped for, and Putin may be comforted by the fact that, on the face of it, Russia's defences are holding up reasonably well.

Ukraine quickly learnt driving armoured vehicles into minefields is not a good idea, and now seems to have returned to attacking Russian Command and Control networks, lines of supply, and ammunition dumps, while they work out what to do next.

Cluster munitions

The US President has approved the supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine, citing that shortage of munitions could otherwise bring Ukraine's Spring Campaign to a halt. That, and the fact Russia's large airforce is largely undamaged, has triggered some to say Ukraine is unlikely to regain much territory so the sooner peace negotiations are started the better.

2nd July 2023 (day 494)

In the last couple of days, Russian drone attacks on Kiev have re-commenced.

An explosion occurred near a military airfield in Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Russia, which may be being used to launch Shahed drones towards Ukraine.

It is reported head on attacks by armoured vehicles attempting to cross Russian minefields have been largely unsuccessful, and the war is currently one of artillery and drones supporting infantry attempting to clear Russian trenches.

Ukraine is pushing forward in a deliberate and methodical manner, and fighting can be expected to be very bloody and take as long as it takes.

Prof Phillips P O'Brien provides an assessment of the current situation in his Weekly Update #35 dated 2nd July 2023 which can be found on the Substack website; it's worth a read.

Click to read weekly Update #35 dated 2nd July 2023

On 30th June 2023 Sky News Australia carried a heated discussion with host Erin Molan speaking about the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict with former Vladimir Putin advisor Sergei Markov, and Ukraine defence official Yuriy Sak.

Click to watch Sky News video: Ex-Putin advisor and Ukraine defence chief go head to head

1st July 2023 (day 493)

It feels as though Ukraine is slowly making some inroads into the Russian defences, but for reasons of operational secrecy there is a veil over what is happening.

There appear attempts by Ukraine to cross the Dnieper river and establish bridgeheads in Kherson near the Anotovsky bridge, and near the Nova Kakhovka dam on the east bank.

 Meanwhile there is a much larger assault south of Velyka Novosilka, where Ukraine has captured Rivnopil and is said to be on the heels of retreating Russian soldiers.

Ukraine is said to have taken Berkhivka to the north of Bakhmut and Klishchiivka to the south which suggests a pincer movement to encircle the Russian troops occupying Bakhmut is likely.

Yesterday the Russians hit a primary school in the village of Serhiivka killing two people including a teacher and injuring 6 others.

Three days ago the Russians launched a missile attack on Kramatorsk which hit a busy pizza restaurant, popular with journalists, and an apartment block. Twelve civilians are said to have been killed and about 60 injured. The dead included fourteen-year-old twins Anna and Yuliia Aksenchenko who were in the vicinity of the restaurant during the attack.

Click for BBC report - Kramatorsk: Russian missile strike hits restaurants in Ukrainian city

Some Russian units have been seen leaving the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) leading to speculation Putin may be planning to destroy sufficient of the plant to release radioactive fallout over a wide area.

A date of 5th July has been floated.

IAEA has not voiced great concern, so let's hope this is gossip.

The US is considering providing cluster munitions to Ukraine, said General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Such weapons, though used by Russia, are banned by the UK and could be a hazard to civilians.

There is a rumour some Wagner troops will be sent with Prigozhin to Belarus where they could cause mischief. In response Ukraine is strengthening its northern border.

Putin may be purging the military and civilian leadership of those whose loyalty is in doubt following the largely unopposed Wagner Group march on Moscow.

The question many will be asking is - will there eventually be a collapse in the Russian will to fight?

One assumes, when push comes to shove, the conscript and convict elements of Russian units will be reluctant to die for Putin and his illegal war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile Russian tourists, planning to visit beaches in Crimea, complain of long delays caused by searches for explosives before vehicles are allowed to cross the Kerch bridge.

25th June 2023 (day 487)

Prigozhin's march on Moscow

Yesterday was a very exciting day for those of us listening to the 24 hour news channels. Prigozhin leader of the Wagner Group and Putin's 'fixer' had become disenchanted with a perceived lack of support from the Russian MOD and an ultimatum that his mercenaries should sign up to become regular soldiers. He had demanded that Minister of Defence Shoigu and General Gerasimov be sacked and proposed a mutinous 'march' to Moscow to signal his displeasure.

So it was that yesterday elements of the Wagner Group set out by road for Moscow, occupying first the city of Rostov on Don including its military headquarters, and then an airfield at Voronezh, where tactical nuclear weapons are rumoured to be stored, encountering very little resistance.

The Kremlin appeared paralysed, and there was panic in Moscow.

There were rumours Putin's plane had landed at St Petersburg, and that Lukashenko, president of Belarus had fled to Turkey,  but nobody knew where they really were.

Contractors dug trenches across the highway at Lipetsk to slow down the Wagner force, and there was talk of blowing bridges to the south of Moscow.

By teatime the Wagner force was speeding up the M-4 highway only 125 miles from the capital.

The police were not expected to oppose the battle hardened Wagner force and there was some doubt whether the regular army had the appetite to fight.

Crisis averted

Then at approximately 1730 GMT it was announced Prigozhin had ordered the Wagner columns to turn round.

Apparently Putin had spoken with Lukashenko who had phoned Prigozhin suggesting a bloodbath was in nobody's interest, and Prigozhin must have lost his nerve.

Terms of the deal

The Kremlin says that charges of treason against Prigozhin will be dropped and that he will be exiled to Belarus. The Wagner Group would return to its base with those not participating in the 'mutiny' being offered contracts with the regular army; the remainder rejoining Wagner units abroad for example in Africa and Syria.

What happens next

Pundits are saying it is too early so say how this 'mutiny' by the Wagner Group will affect Putin's standing and the war in Ukraine.

Click for Al Jazeera article - ‘All bets are off’: An uncertain future after Wagner mutiny

Click for Independent newspaper report - 24 hours of mutiny, mayhem and panic on the streets of Moscow

23rd June 2023 (day 485)

Fierce fighting

It has been nearly three weeks since the initial ground combat phase of the Ukrainian 2023 campaign commenced.  Ukraine has had a go at the Russians and been rewarded with a 'bloody nose'. Some pundits are saying the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) have not performed as well as expected. However they miss the point that the Russian defences are strong, and will not be easily overcome.

Ukraine has been probing the Russian defences along a large front  extending from Kamianske on the edge of the Kakhovka resevoir in the west, to Orikhiv and Velyka Novosilka further east, and further north around Bakhmut.

One might assume, given the chance, they would head for Tokmak, Melitopol and Berdyansk. Russia on the other hand will no doubt move its forces to counter the perceived threat; and so this 'game' of military chess will likely play on for months with Ukraine hoping to get deliveries of Abrams tanks, fighter jets, glide bombs and just possibly longer range ATACMs missiles in the autumn.

In recent days Ukraine appears to have paused to take stock, having only advanced a few kilometres. Meanwhile the UAF is continuing to hammer Russian lines of communication and ammunition dumps.

Click for retired General Mick Ryan's assessment of the state of the campaign on Twitter

Crimea

Ukraine is attempting with some success to stop Putin bringing munitions into Ukraine from Crimea and, in the longer term, probably plans to lay siege to Crimea by taking out the two road bridges carrying the M-17 and M-18 highways to the north, and the Kerch bridge to the east.

Rykove

The railway station and warehouse complex in the city of Rykove in the Kherson region just north of Crimea, which was reportedly being used to store a large stockpile of munitions utilised by Russian Armed Forces (RuAF) for the defense of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, appears to have been totally destroyed by a Ukrainian cruise missile attack.

The railway line between Melitopol and Crimea is constantly being harassed.

Chonhar bridge

The Chonhar bridge in Crimea  carrying the M-18 highway was reported hit by one or more cruise missiles yesterday. One assumes the only other road into Crimea from the north, the M-17 highway, will soon come under attack.

Armyansk

The Russians are said to be building a defensive line north of Armyansk to protect the Crimean peninsular. Ukraine would probably suffere severe casualties attempting to cross into Crimera, so is more likely to lay siege and starve the Russians out.

Cholera

There are rumours of the RUF being affected by cholera and typhoid outbreaks following destruction of the Karkhova dam. The water supply to Crimea is probably dwindling.

Kremmina

There are reports of the RuAF pressing forward attacks west of Kremmina in an attempt to draw the UAF away from their offensive in the south.

Military airfield near Khmelnytskyi

Yesterday Russia pressed home an attack on a military airfield SW of Kiev using 13 cruise missiles and a reconnaissance drone. Ukraine says all the missiles were shot down.

Radio station destroyed

Partisans claim to have destroyed a cluster of R-161 military vehicles providing HF radio communications. Click for Twitter report

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Russian forces are said to have mined the cooling system of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

While Russians occupies the plant Putin will see this as a valuable asset to supply electricity to Russia and those regions he has occupied.

However there is concern that, if the Russians were in danger of being pushed out of Ukraine, Putin could destroy the plant causing nuclear fallout to be released over much of the northern hemisphere.

Putin is an old man with little to lose.

12th June 2023 (day 474)

Ukraine's 2023 Campaign

It is now commonly agreed that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has started; retired Australian General Mick Ryan suggests this should now be renamed the 2023 Offensive or Campaign.

There have been numerous reports of Ukrainian probing attacks, many halted by Russian minefields and shelling.

As on D Day and at El Alamein, many casualties, and loss of Ukrainian armoured vehicles is anticipated due to the strong defensive positions (or killing zones) set up by the Russians.

There is hearsay that Ukraine has advanced south through Orikhiv heading for the major railway hub of Tokmak, possibly hoping to eventually reach either Melitopol or the port of Berdyansk. Telegram channels are reporting that partisans have blown up a railway bridge near the occupied village of Yakymivka cutting the line between Melitopol and Crimea. Others report Ukraine is pressing forward around Velyka Novosilka in West Donetsk near where the Russians are reported to have blown the Hydroelectric dam on the Mokri Yaly river to slow them down.

Click for Guardian report - Ukraine accuses Russia of destroying another dam

Sky News analyst Sean Bell added a commentary to Twitter footage of tough fighting by infantry around Bakhmut.

Click for Sky News report - Military analyst Sean Bell watches 'sobering' footage of close quarters fighting in Bakhmut

Russian troops on the Kinburn spit (south of Kherson) were reported to have been cut off by floodwater from the breached Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric dam.

The Russians are counter-claiming to have repelled these Ukrainian attacks, inflicting heavy damage on armour supplied by the West.

So the situation remains unclear and we may have to wait a while to discover whether or not Ukraine has been able to achieve any sustainable break through the Russian defensive lines.

Russia has a strong but little used air-force which could still be brought to bear; pundits suggest the Ukrainian 2023 campaign can be expected to play out over weeks and months.

6th June 2023 (day 468)

It's both the anniversary of WWII D-Day, and a big news day in Ukraine.

Hydroelectric dam blown up

War is similar to a game of chess. Following the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russia has responded by blowing up a section of the massive Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric dam, which was mined last October, causing widespread flooding in the Kherson region.

Click for BBC report: What we know about Nova Kakhovka dam attack

Many will see this as a war crime, but that will not worry Putin who seems intent on destroying as much of Ukraine as he can.

Click for Sky News report: State of emergency declared after major dam breach in Russia-controlled Kherson region

Blowing the dam will delay if not prevent the Ukrainian army crossing the Dnieper river into Russian held Kherson, flood many villages putting the lives of tens of thousands of civilians at risk, possibly flood some Russian defensive positions, and could put in danger the water supply to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and farmland to the north, and the canal serving the Crimean peninsula in the south.

Sadly many civilians will have drowned last night, and crops and livestock destroyed on an immense scale.

This predictable event could affect the war in Ukraine in a big way, but this provocation by Russia will only make both Ukraine, and its allies, more determined to defeat Putin and his cabal, in whatever time it takes.

Other news

Alex Crawford is currently in Dnipro reporting for Sky News.

Putin is rumoured to be increasingly ignoring those reporting bad news, and only listening to those telling him of successes.

The Australian government is looking into the possibility of supplying Ukraine with 41 refurbished F-18 aircraft, currently awaiting disposal, which could impact the war going forward next year.

Ukranian forces are said to have advanced one to two Kilometres north and south of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian forces are reported to have advanced several Kilometres and occupied the settlement of Novodonetske in the Donetsk region. The Russians are counter claiming to have inflicted heavy casualties on the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) and halted their advance.

Surprisingly the incursion by Russian dissidents, supported by Ukraine, into Novaya Tavolzhanka, Shebekino and Grayvoron in the Belgorod province of Russia, north of Kharkiv, still appears to be making some headway due to weak defences on the Russian border.

It may be many days before the 'fog of propaganda' reduces and we learn how the Ukrainian counter-offensive is going. In the meantime the world awaits Russia and Ukraine's next moves in their deadly game of military chess.

5th June 2023 (day 467)

Things are hotting up

From confused reports on Twitter there is a general consensus the Ukrainian counter-offensive has started, but there is a news blackout, so little information is reaching the public domain.

29th May 2023 (day 460)

Waves of missile attacks continue

While waiting for the Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russia continued to fire waves of missiles at Kiev, many again last night, and some unusually during daylight. Missiles were also fired at the port of Odessa, and a military airfield at Khmelmnytskiy in the far west of Ukraine where five aircraft were reported disabled, the runway damaged, and work is said to be continuing to contain fires in storage facilities for fuel, lubricants, and munitions.

Click for Sky News report - Why is Russia attacking Kyiv instead of military targets?

Ukraine has continued to shell the Belgorod region of Russia (roughly north of Kharkiv) where Russia brings in arms and supplies from the north augmenting material brought in through Mariupol and Berdyansk in the south.

Yesterday the Russian ambassador appeared on Laura Kuenssberg's Sunday Morning TV programme. In summary he said Russia was a large powerful country and the war would go on until Ukraine surrendered. The possibility of defeat is not in his playbook.

27th May 2023 (day 458)

Russia has continued launching waves of drones and missiles into Ukraine, with many claimed to have been shot down by air defences.

There are concerning rumours that Russia may be planning some sort of 'accident' at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant which might result in the release of radioactive material.

Ukraine says it is ready for its counter-offensive which could start in days, while others wonder if Zelensky will wait for Abrams tanks and F-16 aircraft which could start to be delivered in September  2023 or thereabouts.

Prospects of deteriorating winter weather conditions might even result in the counter-offensive being delayed to the spring of 2024. That would give the Russians more time to get rid of Putin and negotiate a peace settlement before even more blood is shed on both sides.

Putin started his Special Military Operation on 14th February 2022 in order to displace Zelensky's government and put in a puppet regime, as in Belarus, believing the operation would be over in a couple of weeks and Western nations would not intervene.

Putin was wrong on both counts. He has poked the sleeping tiger and now has a full scale war on his hands. War is destructive, causes suffering, and in the end neither side really wins. Better to stop this now before the world descends into nuclear oblivion.

China is saying, leave Putin with the territory he has captured, and come to a settlement, which at the moment might work for Putin, but not Ukraine.

Ordinary people on both sides would no doubt like the Ukraine war ended before events run further out of control, and there now seems only one way for that to happen - that is for President Vladimir Putin and his regime to be removed and replaced by a more democratic government seeking peaceful coexistence with Russia's European neighbours.

One wonders whether people of goodwill in Russia will be able to accomplish that by peaceful means, or whether a bloody coupe will be needed to overthrow the tyrant and his police state?

A few days ago, there was a two day incursion across the poorly defended border from Kozinka to Grayvoron in the Belgorod region of Russia which caused Russian forces to be moved from the south to strengthen border security in the north.

Click for Guardian report - Anti Putin militia claims to have overrun village in Russia border region of Belgorod

Click for Sky News report on YouTube - Belgorod incursion is an embarrassment for the Russians

Click for BBC report - Belgorod: Russian paramilitary group vows more incursions

There have been more recent reports of deep strikes into the occupied ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk and other partisan activity. Speculation on Twitter suggests that 'something' may be about to happen.

20th May 2023 (day 451)

So far during May, the Russians have launched 11 waves of missiles presumably with the aim of terrorising civilians, disrupting Ukrainian preparations for a counter-offensive, and exhausting air-defence missile stocks - which would enable Russia to gain air superiority. Meanwhile Russian artillery continues to shell Ukrainian positions, towns and villages.

The US Patriot air defence system protecting Kiev is said to have intercepted a number of Putin's hypersonic Kinzhal air launched missiles, which Putin had claimed there was no defence against.

Click to read Lawrence Freedman's article: Can Ukraine's Air Defence Systems Cope?

There are rumours Russian aircraft have been shot down near Bryansk (30 miles inside Russia) and the railway track in Crimea serving the Russian naval base at Sevastopol has been damaged by either partisans or Ukrainian special forces. Russian helicopters may have been damaged at Mariupol airport.

Ukraine is still preventing any significant advance by the Russians beyond Bakhmut.

The UK has agreed to supply Ukraine with long range Anglo/French Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which are air launched. This weapon may already have been used in Ukraine.

Western nations are to train Ukrainian pilots, and the US may soon allow other nations to transfer their F-16 jets to Ukraine; but the appearance of these jets over the battlefield could be 4 months or more away, too late for the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.

In Europe, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal are thought to have F-16 jets, whose technology is 40 years old. There are said to be many more F-16s in the middle east, for example Turkey.

On the diplomatic front, China is making noises about peace negotiations, and African nations have offered to intervene, but the reality is Putin shows no sign of backing down, while the Ukrainians want return of all captured territory. There are whispers China is getting fed up with Putin's belligerance.

President Zelensky has been on a whistle stop tour of Europe visiting Italy (including meeting the Pope), Germany, France and the UK.

Today, Zelensky is meeting G7 leaders at their summit in Japan:-

The G7 comprises France, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada; representatives from the EU also attend. Russia was suspended from the G8 after Putin annexed Crimea in 2014.

India is helping Putin by buying Russian oil, while the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban continues to push back against EU sanctions in order not to damage relations with Moscow. See Newsweek article for background.

Putin's puppet 'Dictator' Alexander Lukashenko President of Belarus has not been seen for a few days leading to speculation he may be ill.

Lukashenko has been president for almost 30 years, and during this time the population has been leaning towards democracy. Should Lukashenko die, or lose the next election, Putin, if still in power, would no doubt try to emplace another pro-Russia puppet possibly by means of another Special Military Operation!

The Ukrainian counter-offensive seemingly has yet to start. Pundits continue to speculate on what form the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive might take.

1st May 2023 (day 432)

Ukraine says Russia launched 18 missiles overnight of which 15 were intercepted. A large explosion was reported at or near a Chemical factory at Pavlograd (in Dnipro region).

Nick Connolly DW News Correspondent reports on the situation in Ukraine:

Click for video - Russia steps up air strikes to preempt Ukraine counter-offensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says their much-anticipated counteroffensive is nearing. CNN's Michael Holmes speaks to retired Australian Army Major General Mick Ryan about what their tactics might be and what this means for Russia.

Zelensky says Ukrainian counteroffensive is near

30th April 2023 (day 431)

It's Sunday and in the last three days Russia has launched another wave of missiles allegedly from TU-95 aircraft over the Caspian Sea more than 1,000 Km to the east, while the next day Ukrainian drones hit an oil depot at the Russian naval base at Sevastopol causing a large fire.

The Russians are said to have fixed six rows of 'nets' across the harbour entrance at Sevastopol to keep out USVs which must make getting warships in and out tricky.

Yesterday Sky News broadcast a punchy report by its military analyst Sean Bell, after the drone strike at Sevastopol, which ended with him saying 'The Spring Storm is coming'.

Click to watch video - Ukraine war: 'Spring storm is coming' as battles continue to rage

Is Ukraine going to continue nibbling away at Russian logistics or will we see either Hitler's Blitzkrieg re-enacted, or attritional battles similar to El Alamein?

We'll just have to wait and see what happens, and whether or not the 'Ukrainian spear is blunted by the Russian rock'.

27th April 2023 (day 428)

The Russians are said to have made small gains around Bakhmut and Adiivka, while Ukraine is probing the east bank of the Dnipro river further south in the Kherson region.

So far Ukraine appears in no hurry to begin its rumoured Counter-Offensive, which could come in the Spring when the ground has dried out, or possibly even in the Summer.

Pundits differ about how much ground Ukraine will be able to retake, while agreeing there will be a bloody and tough fight.

It's unlikely the Counter-Offensive will win the war, but it could bring both sides to the negotiating table in 2024.

Sky News military analyst retired Air Vice Marshall Sean Bell sees both sides becoming exhausted, and President Zelensky, pressured by the US, having to negotiate a peace with significant territory remaining in Russian hands.

Click for Sky News article - Ukraine will struggle to win the war and Russia will struggle to lose, 22nd April 2023

Others, for example US General Ben Hodges, are more optimistic and see Ukraine possibly retaking Crimea before negotiating over the future of the Donbas.

Click for YouTube video - Briefing featuring Lt General Ben Hodges, 25th April 2023

Reuters carries an article entitled Digging in:

How Russia has heavily fortified swathes of Ukraine – a development that could complicate a spring counteroffensive

Retired Australian Major General Mick Ryan points out that realistic strategic objectives have yet to be defined, and measures of success and failure established:-

Click to read his article - The Ukrainian Offensives are Coming: But How Might We Measure Success or Failure?

On 27th April, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, quote:-

More than 98 percent of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine have already been delivered. That means over 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, including vast amounts of ammunition. In total we have trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian armoured brigades, this will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.

Though these numbers sound impressive they are comparatively small compared to Russia's arsenal, while the BBC reports Ukraine is short of ammunition for Russian manufactured artillery, and others hint at significant shortages of equipment generally.

Click for BBC article - Bakhmut defenders worry about losing support

So does Ukraine have the means to push out the Russian invaders?

War is a test of will and logistics. Ukraine has the will, and providing NATO nations, particularly the US, continue to supply Ukraine one assumes, over time, Putin's forces should ultimately be pushed out of Ukraine.

Retired US General Ben Hodges continues to see Crimea as the key to ending the conflict. Pundits suggest, given the narrow land corridors connecting Crimea to the mainland, a direct assault on Crimea would be very difficult and costly. However were the Ukrainian Armed Forces able to retake the south of Ukraine stopping Russia supplying Crimea from its northern side, it might then be possible to target Russian bases in Crimea with precision weapons such as HIMARS forcing a withdrawal of Russian land assets across the Kerch bridge, together with the removal of air and naval forces from Crimea.

Now that would really upset Putin and no doubt cause him once again to threaten use of nuclear weapons. At that point our crystal ball fogs up. One imagines the possibility of losing Crimea is a red line for Putin and he might either use a nuclear weapon or threaten the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Another possibility is that any of these events could bring down his regime.

Either way it seems we are living in very dangerous times as Zelensky and Putin 'spar head to head'.

Meanwhile, two more men have started a civil war in Sudan placing millions of civilians in danger and causing thousands of refugees to leave the country.

 Army units loyal to de-facto ruler, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, are pitted against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a coalition of paramilitaries led by warlord Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Click to read ReliefWeb - Sudan Conflict Situation Report #2 - April 27, 2023

1st April 2023 (day 402)

From reports, it feels as though there has been little change in the Forward Edge of Battle Area in recent weeks. Rumour has it the Russians have made small advances, at the expense of heavy losses of men and equipment.

The Russian winter offensive appears to be stalling, while Ukraine is hotting up the propaganda  war threatening  an imminent Spring counter-offensive.

Meanwhile the Russians have been building defensive positions in depth, in the occupied territories, so any attempt by Ukraine to push out the Russian invaders could be a difficult  and bloody affair causing both sides to come to the negotiating table.

Concerns continue about safety at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, while Putin continues to hint at the possible use of nuclear weapons.

Tanks and other equipment are trickling in from NATO allies.

Click for ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 31st, 2023

Click to read Phillips P OBrien's weekly update on substack.com

Click to watch John Spencer's lecture on the 2022 battle for Kiev, which can be seen on YouTube

19th March 2023 (day 389)

Bakhmut still holds out, while Russian attacks around Avdiivka are repelled.

Putin visits Crimea and Mariupol

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Crimea on Saturday on an unannounced visit to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, and then went on to visit Mariupol.

Click for BBC report - Putin pays visit to occupied Mariupol, state media reports

International arrest warrant issued for Putin

On 17th March the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an International Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin on grounds of kidnapping children from Ukraine. This move could restrict Putin's freedom to travel abroad.

Click for BBC report - Putin arrest warrant: Biden welcomes ICC's war crimes charges

Click for Guardian explainer - What does the ICC arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin mean in reality?

14th March 2023 (day 384)

Russian fighter jet downs US drone

Russian Su-27 fighter jets have downed a US Reaper surveillance drone flying over the Black Sea.

Click for CNN report - Russian fighter jet forces down US drone over Black Sea after intercept

Click for BBC report - US drone crashes after incident with Russian fighter jet

13th March 2023 (day 383)

The Battle of Bakhmut

Fierce fighting continues in Bakhmut and the Russians shell Kherson from the east side of the river Dnieper killing civilians.

Some pundits are saying Ukraine is trying to hold the Russians at Bakhmut while they prepare for an offensive elsewhere; possibly in May 2023.

The Russians continue their attempt to encircle Bakhmut and cut off Ukrainian lines of supply; some are advising Ukrainian forces should consider withdrawal so seasoned soldiers survive to lead newly trained troops in the expected Ukrainian offensive.

There are rumours Russia may be running low on its mainstream T72 tanks, as vintage T62s are being brought out of storage. Deliveries of more modern tanks to Ukraine from the West could begin ramping up in May.

Despite encountering fierce resistance, Putin remains intent on winning the war he started. One wonders what others in the Kremlin are thinking?

Wagner's sponsor Yevgeny Prigozhin has fallen out of favour, after criticising the Russian military.

Click for BBC report - Heavy losses reported as battle for Bakhmut rages

9th March 2023 (day 379)

Another wave of missile attacks

Russia launched another wave of missiles last night targeting residential areas and the power infrastructure in Ukraine once again.

The BBC reports about 81 missiles were launched of which only 34 were shot down.

Click for BBC report - Russia fires hypersonic missiles in new barrage

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was shelled cutting it off from the electricity grid; so backup diesel generators had to be used to run the cooling systems.

The Russians appear happy to risk a major nuclear disaster.

8th March 2023 (day 378)

Bakhmut

Fierce fighting goes on for Bakhmut. The city has been razed to the ground; nothing survives. Ukrainian troops are said to have withdrawn from the east of Bakhmut to adopt more defensive positions on the west of the Bakhmutovka river.

For weeks, pundits have been suggesting Ukraine should fall back to avoid an increasing casualty rate as the Russians draw closer; but for the time, being both sides continue to slog it out and it is not clear who will be the first to give in.

While some say Bakhmut has little strategic value, losing Bakhmut would damage Ukraine’s lines of supply and open the way for Russian forces to press on toward the strategic strongholds of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

However the ground, which is said to be marshy and slopes uphill, will be strongly defended by Ukraine, making any Russian advance beyond Bakhmut either slow or impossible.

Click for Sky News report by Prof Michael Clarke, which is preceeded by an advertisement:

Why is the city of Bakhmut so important

Kupyansk

There are rumours the Russians will try to take back Kupyansk in the north.

Vulhedar

In the south Russian attempts to capture Vulhedar see to have been thwarted.

It's rumoured Ukraine could launch a spring offensive from hereabouts towards Melitopol and Crimea.

Tanks

The are reports of Abram tanks arriving in Germany, despite rumours these might not arrive until towards the end of the year.

The German defence company Rheinmetall is said to be investigating purchase of  96 Leopard 1 tanks mothballed by Switzerland.

The first batch of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles from the United States is said to have arrived in Germany.

Uncertainties

If the Russian offensive has started, it feels as though it may be grinding to a halt; the expected Ukrainian offensive could begin in April, but where?

The Russian army has lost a lot of tanks and is reported to be taking ancient T62 tanks out of storage and upgrading with 'night sights', but these tanks lack modern armour.

The Russian airforce remains mostly unused, and could wreak havoc were Ukraine to run low on air defence artillery.

Military support from Iran and China could yet 'upset the applecart'.

26th February 2023 (day 368)

Sunday

Sky News carries a very good summary of the situation in Ukraine with a report by Sky's military analyst Sean Bell.

Click for Sky video - Russian spring offensive could be decisive as both countries show no appetite for compromise

25th February 2023 (day 367)

The Russian grip on Bakhmut tightens by the day. It sounds as though Ukraine will soon have to withdraw.

The US has concerns China might start supplying munitions to Russia, which could be a game changer.

The anticipated Russian onslaught on 24th February, the anniversary of the invasion did not materialise.

The day before Putin held a rally to whip up support for his invasion of Ukraine.

Click for Guardian report: Putin addresses tens of thousands at Moscow rally

22nd February 2023 (day 364)

Situation reports

Jomini of the West published an update on the war, on Twitter.

Click for Jomini of the West analysis for the period 8 - 19 Feb 2023

Alternatively,

Click for ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 21, 2023

For more detailed maps,

Click for MilitaryLand: Invasion Day 362 – Summary

21st February 2023 (day 363)

Important speeches

Putin addressed the Russian nation justifying his invasion of Ukraine. He shows no remorse or regret and seems intents on further escalation.

Click for BBC report: Putin promotes Russian escalation in annual speech

In the evening Joe Biden President of the United states addressed crowds in Warsaw, Poland.

Click for White House speech: Remarks by President Biden Ahead of the One-Year Anniversary of Russia’s Brutal and Unprovoked Invasion of Ukraine

Click for CNN report: Biden issues a rallying cry in Warsaw: ‘Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia’

With Putin vowing to defeat Ukraine and Biden defending Ukraine's freedom, it's difficult to predict how this conflict will end.

20th February 2023 (day 362)

In the last fortnight Russia seems to have gained little ground while suffering many casualties.

Pundits differ as to whether the Russian offensive has already begun and largely stalled, or whether the spring offensive has yet to start.

Today President Biden met President Zelensky in Kiev and confirmed continuing US support for Ukraine.

Warnings are voiced in NATO about Ukraine using munitions faster than the West can currently procure them.

Unrest continues in Moldova:

Click for BBC report: Moldova wary of protests fanned by pro-Russian party

On 13th February the President of Moldova accused Russia of plotting to use foreign saboteurs to overthrow her pro-EU government.

Click for BBC profile of Moldova

10th February 2023 (day 352)

Russia fires more salvos of missiles into Ukraine.

Putin is said to be fomenting trouble in Moldova no doubt hoping to bring Moldova under his control and open up another front from which to attack Ukraine.

Moldova used to be part of the USSR. It only has a small army, is not part of NATO and would like to join the EU. The break away region of Transnistria on the border with Ukraine remains affiliated to Russia.

On 10th February the Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilita resigned and President Maia Sandu appointed Defence Minister Dorin Recean the new Prime Minister.

Click for BBC report: Moldovan government resigns in wake of multiple crises

Jomini of the West published an analysis of the war on Twitter.

Click for Jomini of the West analysis of the period 1 - 7 Feb 2023

8th February 2023 (day 350)

On Wednesday 8th February Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise trip to the UK to speak in Westminster Hall and meet King Charles at Buckingham Palace.

Click for BBC news in pictures: President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the UK

Zelensky asked for fighter jets to bolster air defences. The media suggests he has US manufactured F16s in mind to replace Soviet era aircraft.

Others suggest the ageing A10 Warthog and attack helicopters could prove useful to Ukraine.

7th February 2023 (day 349)

Some say the heralded Russian offensive has already begun with aggressive efforts for example to capture Bakhmut for Putin before the anniversary of the Russian invasion on 24th February, and prevent Ukraine taking Kreminna in the north.

In the east, fierce fighting continues around Bakhmut, Soledar, and Vulhedar, towards Adviivka.

Ukraine could be reluctant to withdraw from Bakhmut in order to prevent Putin from claiming a victory on the first anniversary of his Special Military Operation.

Some pundits are beginning to wonder if countering the forthcoming Russian offensive might 'exhaust' Ukraine leaving insufficient military effort to push back the Russian occupiers in the summer.

MOD UK on the other hand thinks, quote: 'while Russian leaders will likely continue to demand sweeping advances, it remains unlikely that Russia can build up the forces needed to substantially affect the outcome of the war within the coming weeks'.

The Daily Kos news website asks:-

Is Russia's big winter offensive already fizzling out?

We watched the second episode of 'Putin vs the West' on BBC2 last night. It was interesting to hear that Putin had once taken the view that the West should not intefere and seek regime change in other countries such as Libya and Syria; whereas now Russia attempts regime change in Ukraine. Putin is clearly a hypocrite adjusting the message to suit his own ends.

For maps and a situational update click the links below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 348 – Summary

Institute for the Study of War assessment 6th February 2023

2nd February 2023 (day 344)

Fierce fighting continues all along the line of contact with the Russians continuing to probe defences and shell weak spots.

The media speculates Ukraine has asked for F16 fighter aircraft from the US (likely to be refused) and that Poland may have already supplied some MIG29s catalogued as spares.

The US is still refusing to supply long-range ATACMS missiles but there are rumours Ukraine could be given the Boeing Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB).

GLSDB is a joint venture 'rocket' that might possibly be launched from MLRS and HIMARS with potentially double the range of missiles currently supplied.

The claimed range of 150 Km would put all of occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions within the range of Ukrainian forces. This would be an opportunity for GLSDB to be tested in combat - it has yet to be seen whether the weapon lives up to the marketing hype.

28th January 2023 (day 339) - update on the last ten days

Tanks

The NATO Ukraine Contact Group, chaired by the US, at the Ramstein airforce base in Germany, approved increased military aid for Ukraine, except for the sending of Leopard tanks which was still being considered by German Chancellor Scholz.

Some days later Germany announced it would send 14 Leopard tanks and agree to the export of Leopard tanks from other nations.

The next day Putin launched another wave of rocket and drone attacks to signal his displeasure. 47 of the 55 rockets were said to have been shot down and all the drones.

It is thought that Chieftain and Leopard tanks could start arriving in Ukraine towards the end of March 2023.

The US  has separately agreed to supply 31 Abrams tanks though these will need supporting fuel, logistics, and maintenance arrangements that might not be in place until towards the end of 2023 by which time the conflict could be over.

It is currently unclear how many of the 300 tanks requested Ukraine will get, but together with 109 Bradley 'light tanks' and other armoured vehicles on their way, there may be enough additional capability to enable a fast-moving Ukraine offensive.

Bakhmut

Ukrainian forces around Bakhmut are taking a hammering as Russian forces continue to advance incrementally. After many months of fighting it seems inevitable that Bakhmut will soon fall as Putin pours in reinforcements.

But attrition of the Russian force has been a high price to pay, which could favour Ukraine in the longer term.

Vulhedar

150 Km south of Bakhmut fierce fighting continues over control of the town of Vulhedar near Donetsk where claims of a Russian breakthrough are disputed by Ukraine.

The next Russian offensive

The media suspects Russia will be the first to launch a new offensive within the next 6 weeks possibly attempting a break out from Bakhmut and Vulhedar in order to complete capture of the Donbas region.

Given that the Russians have recently been slowly forcing the defenders of Bakhmut back, in the short term, one can only imagine Ukraine losing further ground as Russia builds up troop numbers.

But perhaps the increased aid from NATO and the West will eventually enable Ukraine to hold the line.

It seems doubtful that Ukraine currently has the advantage in troop numbers necessary to push Putin's men out of the territory they hold without longer range missiles such as ATACMS and Storm Shadow, but we'll see.

Ukrainian offensive

Time will tell whether or not Ukraine can mount an offensive, and if so where. It could be two to four months before the new armour arrives and troops are fully conversant with its use and got ready.

It seems likely Russia will strike the first blow, but what happens thereafter is anybody's guess.

Prospects for a negotiated peace

A peace settlement still looks unlikely while Putin is president. Like Hitler, he will probably continue to the bitter end, even if his generals think it's a lost cause.

Pundits are suggesting that no-one will stand up to Putin. If the Kremlin leadership think it's time for Putin to go he will probably either die in some accident that cannot be attributed to them, or under the surgeon's knife. An assassination in all but name.

In there last few days there have been some saying it will be very difficult for Ukraine to recapture the Donbas, while others suggest that with Russian troop numbers gradually building Ukraine will begin to suffer setbacks. Perhaps they are reflecting Putin's propaganda?

The Western media generally seems to be of the opinion that the Russians are going to take a pounding, which may be wishful thinking.

Others are suggesting that Western nations are tiring of the bloodshed and could soon be pushing Ukraine to agree a settlement in which Putin keeps most of the territory Russia occupies. On the other hand there are those that suggest Ukraine will have to take back Crimea in order to reduce the likelyhood of future Russian adventures.

All this suggests there are fierce battles to come in the first half of 2023 which may decide the conflict. This will likely result in tens of thousands more people being killed and maimed, and expenditure of billions of pounds which might otherwise be spent on rebuilding and humanitarian aid.

As John Simpson says - it's a mad world.

18th January 2023 (day 329)

Internal Affairs minister killed in tragic helicopter crash

The BBC reports that the three main figures in Ukraine's  Ministry of Internal Affairs have been killed in a helicopter crash beside a nursery in Brovary an eastern suburb of the capital Kyiv. Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky died alongside his First Deputy Yevhen Yenin and Secretary of State Yuiy Lubkovich.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine's interior ministry leadership killed in helicopter crash

Kissinger suggests Ukraine may join NATO

Kissinger seems to have changed his mind and now thinks Ukraine will have to join NATO because of Putin's continued belligerence, but reminds us relations with Russia will need to be re-established after the war with Ukraine is over.

Leopard tanks

Ukraine is seeking an additional 300 modern battle tanks for upcoming offensives.

Pundits suggest NATO has about 2,000 Leopard tanks of various vintages scattered within NATO countries some of which are in storage and others awaiting upgrade. To date Germany has withheld approval for export from itself or any other country.

The German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned after a series of blunders - critics say she was not up to job.

Later this week, at the next meetining of the Ukraine Contact Group, the new Germany Defence Minister Boris Pistorius is likely to be pressed hard to approve the export of Leopard tanks.

Pundits are saying Ukraine needs these tanks in days and weeks, by next year will be too late.

Britain has said it will supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks. A good opportunity to see how they perform.

A Sky News report mentions these tanks and asks will Belarus join the war.

Click for Sky News video - Is Russia pushing Belarus to join the war?

Apparently marshy ground limits the places where tanks could cross the border from Belarus.

Long range missiles

Given the Ukrainian airforce is small and few missions are being flown due to air defences, longer range missiles such as ATACMS are needed to hit targets in depth. So far the US has refused to supply ATACMS missiles, and possibly the use of alternatives is being considered such as a land based version of Tomahawk. Putin is said to be beefing up air defences around Moscow.

Patriot air defence batteries

Germany and the Netherlands are now each offering to send a Patriot Air Defence battery in addition to the one promised by the US.

Meetings

The World Economic Forum is currently meeting in Davos Switzerland where aid for Ukraine may be being discussed in the sidelines.

On Friday 20th January there is to be a meeting of the NATO Ukraine Contact Group, led by the US, at the Ramstein airforce base in Germany.

Pundits think Putin could be planning a major offensive within weeks, so delivery of additional military aid is of the utmost urgency.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that Nato allies were conveying a clear message to Russian president Vladimir Putin by boosting their arms supplies to Ukraine.

'The message we’re sending to Putin... is that we made a commitment to support Ukrainians until they are victorious'.

It's a warning Putin has continued to ignore.

15th January 2023 (day 326)

Waves of missiles launched at Ukraine

Yesterday (Saturday) massive waves of Russian cruise missiles, drones and ballistic missiles were launched at Ukraine. Targets included Kiev, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Odessa, Kryvyi Rih and Vinnytsya.

These attacks were a further attempt to damage the power infrastructure, and freeze the population into surrendering.

In Dnipro a large apartment block was hit causing part to collapse with large loss of life.

Click for Sky News report by Philip Ingram - What type of missiles hit Ukraine this weekend?

Click for BBC report - Russia fires new waves of missiles at Ukraine and hits energy infrastructure

Reports suggest at least 35 killed and 75 injured, but there could be 40 or more casualties buried under the rubble.

The General Staff of UAF reported:-

Over the past 24 hours, the enemy launched 3 air and 57 missile strikes, carried out 69 attacks from rocket salvo systems, in particular, on civilian infrastructure. The enemy used S-300/S-400 anti-aircraft guided missiles to launch missile strikes on the capital (from Belarus) and other populated areas of Ukraine.

It also launched 41 air and sea-based cruise missiles and guided air missiles, which are high-precision weapons. Twenty six rockets were destroyed by our defenders.

The UAF claimed that the following 'high-precision' weapons were used:-

Russia claims to have  captured Soledar

The Russian MOD claims to have captured Soledar, a small salt mining town to the NE of Bakhmut. There has been fierce fighting there for months and many lives have been lost. Putin next wants to capture Bakhmut and thus advance to Kramatorsk in order to take control of Donetsk province.

Ukraine claims the Russians do not yet have complete control of Soledar

Ukraine urgently needs more armaments

Pundits in the Twitter-sphere allege the situation remains finely balanced. Putin is going to carry on fighting and is planning to mobilise more soldiers.

To stay in the game, Ukraine urgently needs more heavy armaments such as additional tanks, and ATACMS longer range missiles.

Poland and Spain are willing to gift German made Leopard tanks, but Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz is cautious and not happy about their export without the USA leading with a contribution of Abrams tanks.

So far the German government has been very reluctant to supply its own Leopard tanks - it's not clear why.

According to the media, the US is doubtful about sending Abrams tanks, murmuring about unreliability and training, but is said to be considering supplying Bradley 'light tanks'.

Meanwhile the UK government has agreed to supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks and around 30 AS90 self-propelled guns could follow. 

Click for press release - PM accelerates Ukraine support ahead of anniversary of Putin’s war

Small numbers, but let's hope that lead prompts Germany and the US to approve the appropriate military aid.

Neutral Switzerland is said to be blocking the export of Swiss manufactured ammunition from Spain to Ukraine. For that reason there seems little reason to buy arms from Switzerland in future, unless of course the ammunition can be dispatched in a plain brown wrapper.

Jeremy Bowen said on the BBC TV news that the West must be prepared to switch more production to the war effort if Putin is to be defeated.

Meaning we will all have to feel some pain if Putin is to be defeated.

Comment

There is generally little warning of, or defence against, attacks by ballistic missiles as Britain found when the Nazis launched V2 rockets against London during WWII. The promised Patriot missile batteries might provide some point defence capability but there won't be many, it's not known how effective they will be, and the missiles are very expensive.

Taking out the mobile launch platforms would be another option, but could prove difficult.

On the Drama TV channel we watched the first episode of a historical drama about the German invasion of Norway during WWII called Atlantic Crossing which somewhat mirrors the invasion of Ukraine. If you missed it, it's worth watching on catch up TV.

That reminded us that the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939/1940 with only partial success. A situation not far removed from that currently in Ukraine.

Click for Wikipedia article - The Winter War

Another example of Russia attempting to expand its borders was the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland in 1939.

7th January 2023 (day 318)

BBC Briefing Room

There was a good update on the status of the war in Ukraine at 11:00 am on BBC Radio 4 today. The programme was Briefing Room and you will need to sign in with your username and password to listen.

Click for BBBC programme - Ukraine: How will the war evolve in 2023?

Description

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts evaluate the current situation in Ukraine and explore how the war might evolve in the remaining winter months and into the Spring.

Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:

  • Michael Clarke, Professor of Defence studies and Specialist Advisor to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

  • Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's College London

  • Samantha de Bendern, Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House

  • Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor of The Economist

Duration: 30 minutes

WinometerComment

The current situation still seems to be 'Deadlock' with the Russians digging in, for example, in Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, hoping to stop any Ukrainian advance beyond Kreminna in the north and towards Melitopol further south.

With the situation finely balanced, Putin will be hoping mobilisation will tip the balance his way, whereas greater numbers  of more effective weapons could tip the balance in Ukraine's favour. It's anybody's guess what happens next.

Our new Winometer (opposite) is designed to show at a glance which way the war might be tipping.

Red:    in Russia's favour

Yellow: Deadlock or stalemate

Green: in Ukraine's favour

2nd January 2023 (day 313)

Putin's attempt to remove President Zelensky and install a puppet government within days failed, and so the war drags on into its 11th month.

Over New Year Russia continued to fire waves of missiles and kamikaze drones  into Ukraine increasingly at night when the drones are harder to hit.

Many of these were shot down by air defences, while others added to civilian misery.

Russia continues to attack civilian rather than military targets.

During Russia's New Year Special on state TV, the presenter joked 'like it or not, Russia is enlarging' suggesting in time Russia expects to take Ukraine back. One wonders if these people believe what they say?

See Tweet by Julia Davis @JuliaDavis News

A technical school in Makiivka where newly mobilised Russian soldiers were quartered is hit by HIMARS rockets and totally destroyed. Possibly there are several hundred casualties. A significant setback for the Russians

 

29th December (day 309)

Russia fires dozens of missiles at Ukraine

The BBC early morning news reported a massive wave of missile attacks hitting energy inrastructure around Lviv, Kiev, Kharkiv, and Odessa. An early report from a Ukrainian source suggested 120 missiles had been launched, while later this was reduced to 69 missiles of which 54 were intercepted by air defences.

Click for BBC report - Russia fires dozens of missiles at Ukrainian cities

Deadlock

Another spokesman said that stalemate had been reached with neither side currently being able to make significant advances.

Click for BBC article - Ukraine fighting is deadlocked, spy chief Kyrylo Budanov tells BBC

With its infrastructure being destroyed and Putin bringing in tens of thousands of newly mobilised troops things are beginning to look difficult for Ukraine.

Without Nato troops becoming actively involved, Ukraine ideally needs longer range offensive weapon systems to target for example cruise missile launching platforms, Russian factories, and outrange Russian artillery.

Despite the hype, the few defensive Patriot air defence systems promised by Biden can't be expected to make much difference.

Opposition to Putin

Propaganda, and sanctions

Click for Daily Mail article - Russian fury grows over Putin's madness

 

28th December (day 308)

Russia  continued firing missiles and shells into the city of Kherson  over the Christmas period causing hundreds of civilians to flee.

Comment

As the year 2022 draws to a close, Russia is continuing to lay waste to Ukraine hoping by some miracle the Ukrainians will surrender, but there seems little chance of that providing military and humanitarian support from NATO nations is maintained, and  Western arsenals do not become exhausted.

Aid from the US is particularly important and President Biden seems committed to the long haul.

Putin has bet all he has on this war so he is very unlikely to back down. Russia is calling for Ukraine to cede the territories it claims to have annexed, despite not being fully occupied.

Pundits say that Russia never stands by agreements and that any pause will just give Russia the time to rearm before it comes back for another bite; that suggests to us the only successful outcome from a Western viewpoint will be a complete defeat of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine in 2023. A defeat which would almost certainly result in Putin's downfall and political turmoil in Russia.

There has been little change to the front-line in recent weeks despite fierce fighting around Bakhmut and Kreminna. There are however rumours that the Russians may be becoming 'exhausted' around Bakhmut and Ukraine is edging closer to Kreminna despite Russian reinforcements.

Russia's loss of Kreminna would cut off supplies from Belgorod to Luhansk and Donetsk and weaken Putin's grip on the Donbas

A few days ago there was a second drone attack on the Russian Engels airbase, from where strategic bombers may have launched cruise missiles at Ukraine; but it is not yet clear what damage was caused. Some aircraft are rumoured to have been damaged and others moved further east.

The ability to hit the Engels airbase near Saratov suggests a capability to target the Kremlin should Russia attack the heart of Kiev.

Fires at Russian facilities suggest Ukrainian Special Forces may be operating in Russia, while partisans are rumoured to be active in Melitopol.

It's interesting that, so far, relatively little use has been made of air and naval power presumably due to the threat from missiles on both sides; and that radar is still being used despite giving away location and vulnerability to countermeasures and anti radiation missiles.

27th December (day 307)

The Institute for the Study of War published its 27th December daily update.

Click for Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, 27th December 2022

See Key Takeaways in the above article for bullet points.

On Sky News Professor Michael Clarke related how the Russian invasion of Ukraine played out in 2022.

Click for Sky News video - Michael Clarke on how war played out in 2022

21st December (day 301)

BBC Reith Lecture: Freedom from Fear

We started the day by listening to Dr Fiona Hill talking on BBC Radio 4 about Russia, Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine - she is worth listening to, quote:-

In the last in a series of four lectures examining what freedom means, the foreign affairs and intelligence expert, British born, Dr Fiona Hill gives her BBC Reith Lecture on 'Freedom from Fear'.

Dr Hill is one of the world’s leading experts on Russia, and served as director for European and Russian affairs on President Trump’s National Security Council, and in senior intelligence roles for both Presidents Bush and Obama.

She talks about the fear she felt growing up as teenager in the Cold War and living with the threat of nuclear war. Then, she says, the culture of fear was about the Soviet Union, a largely unknown enemy. 40 years later, have we come full circle?

She also analyses Russia's war in Ukraine, and what it means for the world.

Click to listen to Freedom from Fear lecture

(You will needs to sign in to your BBC account)

Speculation about what happens next

Russia is still a power to be reckoned with. It has caused severe damage to Ukraine's infrastructure, and despite troops being poorly trained Putin clearly hopes quantity will prevail over quality.

It is currently thought unlikely that Lukashenko would commit Belarus Armed Forces to the war in Ukraine; but that would not prevent Putin launching a Russian, possibly surprise, attack from Belarus in the first quarter of 2023.

Pundits are wondering if the next goals of Ukraine will be to:

  • take Svatove in order to interrupt supplies to Luhansk;

  • head for Melitopol in order to retake territory in the South and  disrupt supplies to Crimea;

  • capture or damage the railway junction at Volnovakha near Donetsk in order to interrupt supplies to Mariupol.

Visit to USA

Zelensky is travelling to the US for a meeting with Joe Biden. It will be the first time during the war that he has left Ukraine.

Click for BBC article: Zelensky in Washington: Ukraine's leader heads to US for first foreign trip

Comment

There are rumours both sides are running low on munitions. Victory will likely go to the alliance best able to maintain production. Hence continued support from the US, and some say the supply of longer range missiles capable of striking the source of Russian missile launches within Belarus and Russia (and by its navy), is vital if Putin is to be defeated.

Few will want to see civilians go through another harsh winter without power, so this pointless war ideally needs to be brought to a conclusion by the summer of 2023, if not earlier. Putin's adventure is hurting both the Russia people and Ukraine, and it's time he was retired.

19th December (day 299)

Putin visits Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, presumably to try once again to coax Lukashenko into committing Belarus Armed Forces to the war in Ukraine. The population of Belarus is largely anti Russian so that seems unlikely.

Earlier Russia unleashed 35 Iranian Shahed drones on Ukraine in the early hours of Monday as many people slept in darkness, hitting critical infrastructure in and around Kiev in Moscow's third air attack on the Ukrainian capital in six days. The Ukrainian Air Force said its air defences shot down 30 incoming drones.

Yesterday there were reports of a large fire at a Russian oil and gas field in Irkutsk. Not clear whether this was sabotage or an accident.

17th December (day 297)

Putin reportedly visited the Russian Joint Forces headquarters yesterday to meet with Generals Shoigu, Gerasimov, and Surovikin.

There are rumours that Russia is taking steps to disrupt GPS (Satnav) in order to deter Ukrainian GPS guided munitions fired into Russia.

A succinct update from Sky News on the general situation and asking will Russia try again to take Kiev?

Click for Sky video - retired Air Vice-Marshal Sean Bell takes a look at the latest situation in Ukraine

16th December (day 296)

Large wave of drones and missiles

Putin launches a ninth wave of 76 missiles and drones, largely aimed at energy infrastructure around Kiev and Kherson of which 60 were shot down. The attack was possibly launched from ships in the Sea of Azov and Black Sea, and from Krasnodar in Russia.

For example see report from Rob Lee on Twitter:-

https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1603836572436033536

Ukraine claims 37 of the 40 missiles targeted on Kiev were shot down.

12th December (day 292)

Comment

On the face of it, Putin is determined to hold onto the territory Russia still occupies in Luhansk, Donetsk and the Kherson region east of the Dnieper river. Defensive lines incorporating 'Dragons Teeth' concrete obstacles, trenches and minefields are being built on a large scale, while the Dnieper river remains a major obstacle for Ukraine.

Russia also seems intent on taking more territory as evidenced by fierce attacks on Bakhmut and surrounds, while further north Ukraine is attempting to push the Russians out of Svatove and Kremmina, thereby taking control of the P66 highway.

For the time being at least, the war seems to be settling into a drawn-out conflict, with neither side capable of making a decisive breakthrough:-

To a large extent, Ukraine is pursuing a war of attrition by harrying Russian lines of supply, ammunition depots, troop concentrations, and command posts.

Russia on the other-hand has been targeting, with great success, Ukraine's electricity generating and transmission capacity and other infrastructure in order to cut off electricity, heating and water, thereby hoping to create destabilizing waves of refugees and grind the government's functioning to a halt.

Russia may be making small gains around Bakhmut, while Ukraine may be making small gains around Svatove and Kreminna, but overall there has been little change in the front-line for some weeks despite much loss of life.

In the north, Ukraine has been largely stalled along the line of the P66 highway between Svatove and Kreminna for 2 months.

These articles summarise the situation so far:

Click for Brookings article: The Russia-Ukraine war and its ramifications for Russia

Click for Twitter article by Dara Massicot on Russia's transition to the defensive

What happens next

What happens next is by no means clear. Despite tales of poor morale, Russia could yet win - as defined by holding on to occupied territory.

Ukraine can only win - as defined by pushing Russsia back to the 24th February start-line, if fully backed by Western nations having a much stronger combined economy and manufacturing capability than Russia.

France, Germany, and  Hungary appear somewhat half hearted  in their support for Ukraine, while Iran and possibly North Korea are backing Putin.

 Other countries like Switzerland and India are taking a neutral stance.

The Hindustan Times sometimes carries Pro Russian headlines - does that mean India is a little pro Putin?

To prevent losing the war, Ukraine needs to conserve and maintain stocks of expensive air defence missiles in order to suppress the Russian airforce and bring down cruise missiles, while finding cheaper ways of dealing with drones ranging from those bought from 'supermarkets' to Kamikaze UAVs bought from Iran.

Pundits say Ukraine will need a better supply of longer range rockets and missiles, which are in the gift of the US, in order to reach behind defensive lines and push the Russian army out of Ukraine, thus bringing the war to a swifter and less bloody close.

8th December (day 288)

Large explosions are reported at the Russian airbase in occupied Berdyansk (near the port of Mariupol).

Comment

There are rumours in the media that Putin is setting the scene for his invasion of Ukraine to continue for as long as it takes to achieve Ukraine's surrender.

 The West cannot afford to let Putin win, so must continue supporting Ukraine.

If Ukraine is seen to win, other countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan might in time choose to leave the Russian Federation.

The Wagner group continue their ferocious attack on Bakhmut. Pictures show scenes from hell. Either there is considerable value in taking the area or Wagner's sponsor Yevgeny Prigozhin wants a victory to cement his position as a possible successor to Putin.

Ukraine continues its offensive to take Svatove, Kreminna and the P66 highway to the north, while the Russians pile in reinforcements in an attempt to prevent them.

Click for Daily Kos article - Losing this war could destroy Russia

There are suggestions Putin would retire with his family to Argentina or Brazil were he either to lose the war or be deposed.

7th December (day 287)

Sky News Security and Defence Analyst Professor Michael Clarke has the latest on the ground in Ukraine, starting with the ongoing fighting around Bakhmut:-

Click for Sky News report - Battles for control of Bakhmut rage on

Another Sky News report from Bakhmut mentions it's hard to dig trenches when the ground freezes, and difficult to hide when the leaves drop from trees.

Click for Sky News report - team forced to take cover from Russian shells with Ukrainian soldiers

Are these journalists brave or foolhardy putting their lives at risk; probably a bit of both!

Elsewhere, Russia is said to be building defensive lines not only in the occupied regions of Ukraine but in Russia and Belarus. Can the Russian leadership really be concerned about the armed forces of Ukrainian invading Russia? Perhaps it is mostly a propaganda exercise to convince ordinary Russians that Ukraine is a threat.

6th December (day 286)

There were drone strikes at or near three military airbases in Russia, several hundred Kilometres from Kharkiv, potentially putting Moscow in the firing line.

Rumour has it these attacks may have involved 1970s vintage Tupolev TU-141 reconnaissance drones modified by the Ukrainians to carry a warhead.

Ukraine had previously announced a weapon with 1,000 Km range was under development.

The strike locations were:

  • Khalino (Vostochny) 150 Km north of Kharkiv (in Belgorod direction near Kursk) where oil tanks were hit.
  • Dyagilevo near Rayazan, possibly one TU-22 damaged.
  • Engels airbase outside the city of Saratov.

Engels houses Russia's strategic bombing fleet of TU-160 and TU-95 planes, which have been used to launch missiles at Ukraine and can be adapted to carry nuclear weapons. Possibly two long range bombers were damaged.

These attacks caused some panic among Russians regarding the state of their anti-aircraft defences.

There was a further attack on fuel tanks near Bryansk, close to the border with Ukraine, owned by the Federal agency of the State Reserve of the Russian Federation.

Click for Wikipedia article - Federal Agency for State Reserves (Russia)

Overall there was relatively little damage from these attacks and much greater destruction than this will be needed for long range drones to alter the outcome of the land war.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 286 – Summary

5th December (day 285)

Russia launches another wave of about 70 missiles at Ukrainian utilities. About 60 are said to have been shot down by air defences, but the power network is further damaged causing extensive blackouts.

A Turkish company could provide power plant ships to feed the Ukrainian grid from Romania and/or Moldova. The capacity to power one million homes has been mentioned. That's a small fraction of Ukraine's needs but might help.

28th November (day 278)

Pundits suggest the intense cold could take a heavy toll on poorly equipped Russian soldiers in Ukraine this winter and large numbers could die of hypothermia; just as Hitler's troops were decimated in Russia during the winter of 1943.

Click for Daily Kos article - Invasion Day 278: A longer winter ahead

Russian armed forces continue firing shells and missiles and attempting to press forward, but could there come a time this winter when Russian soldiers fold and begin to retreat?

Phillips P O'Brien, Professor of Strategic Studies, University of St Andrews speculates on where the war might be going next in an updated article hosted on the substack.com website.

Click for weekend update #4

25th November (day 275)

More of the same.

It's now more than nine months since Putin ordered the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Putin's forces have lost momentum and the morale of ordinary soldiers is said to be low. Putin's future is looking more and more uncertain.

Russian General Suvorikin  no doubt plans to avoid guerilla skirmishes, fight more head to head battles of his own choosing, and continue destroying Ukraine's energy and communications infrastructure until Ukraine capitulates.

Russia is said to be defending the line between Svatove and Kreminna with its best troops, and continuing to attack Bakhmut and surrounds, losing many men in the process.

Last Tuesday (23rd) Putin launched another wave of missile attacks cutting off power in Lviv and Kiev.

Today missiles and shells are being fired into civilian areas of Kherson.

Putin and Suvorikin's plan seems to be to make life hell for Ukrainian civilians this winter and freeze them into submission.

20th November (day 270)

The fog of war descends once more and it is hard to tell from the 'Twitter Sphere' what is going on. The front line north of Kherson seems little changed despite aggressive fighting.

Ukraine continues to target Russian ammunition depots and headquarters, while the Russians, anticipating Ukrainian advances, have been building new defensive lines east of the Dnieper river.

Putin's popularity is declining in Russia, the morale of Russian soldiers is said to be poor, while Ukraine seems intent on recapturing Kherson and Crimea.

Phillips P O'Brien, Professor of Strategic Studies, University of St Andrews speculates on where the war might be going next in an article hosted on the substack.com website.

Click for Weekend Update #3 .

Russia going for the jugular

Meanwhile Russia has stepped up long range cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, clearly planning to 'throttle' Ukraine.

Ukrainian sources suggest 50% of infrastructure is already damaged and that those that can afford to should leave Ukraine to reduce energy requirements. The energy situation, given the onset of winter, appears grim leaving one wondering who will come out on top.

Other news

The first Norwegian NASAMS medium range air defence systems funded by the US are said to have been deployed.

There are rumours of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) attack on the Russian naval base at Novorossiysk which lies roughly 50 Km south east of the Kerch bridge linking Crimea with Russia. Putin is said to be keeping quiet about this.

Attacks continue on Russian ammunition depots. The railway track in occupied Llovaisk is damaged.

A gas pipeline near St Petersburg is in flames.

Speculation in the media suggests Putin's position is becoming weaker, and that the Russian economy is seriously  damaged.

Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Havrylov in an interview with Sky News  optimistically suggests Crimea might be taken in December and the war could be over by Spring 2023.

PM Rishi Sunak met with president Zelensky in Kiev promising continued British support.

Click for BBC report - Rishi Sunak visits President Zelensky in Kyiv as he pledges £50m in aid

NATO suspects the missile that landed in Poland might have been from a Ukrainian S300 air defence system manufactured in Russia. The calm response suggests NATO is not spoiling for a fight with Russia, and vice versa.

Click for BBC report - What happened in Poland missile blast?

Comment

Once again it seems Ukraine is fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Natural justice suggests Ukraine should be able to acquire long range missiles to either fire back at Russian energy infrastructure on a tit for tat basis, or perhaps more sensibly neutralise the bases from which Russia is launching these missile attacks.

15th November (day 265)

Putin strikes back

Putin strikes back, after losing Kherson, by launching further waves of missile attacks against Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

More than eighty X-55 and X-101 cruise missiles were reported launched today of which 70 may have been brought down by air defences.

Power outages in Moldova

Damage to the Ukraine Moldova power interconnector caused blackouts in Moldova.

Missile hits Poland

Perhaps of greater importance politically, one or two 'stray' missiles are rumoured to have crossed the border hitting grain dryers on a farm near Przewodow in Poland killing two Poles. These may have been been either Russian missiles aimed at Lviv or Ukrainian air defence missiles.

Subject to both confirmation and the political will, one wonders if this might provide a trigger for NATO to give Putin an ultimatum - that Russia should peacefully withdraw from Ukraine else face being forcefully evicted by a NATO peacekeeping force.

 14th November (day 264)

In the Kherson region Ukraine troops will be looking for Russians who did not make it across the river and possibly Russian Special Forces deployed in a stay-behind role to report Ukrainian dispositions. Engineers will be assessing the feasibility of restoring public utilities, and many more will be engaged in mine clearance.

There is concern in Kherson that Russian artillery will shell the city from across the river.

Putin meanwhile continues to press stubborn attacks in Luhansk and Donetsk:-

Click for Ministry of Defence Ukraine - Operational update regarding Russian invasion as of 18:00 hours, 14 November 2022

Speculation on what happens next

The Daily KOS website carries a link to an interesting YouTube video in which analyst Peter Zeihan argues that the remainder of Kherson and Crimea could be retaken in coming months by Ukraine interdicting the limited supply routes available to Russian forces.

Click for Peter Zeihan's YouTube video - Beginning of the Fall of Crimea  November 14th 2022

Ukrainian scouting parties are already rumoured to have crossed the Dnieper River onto the Kinburn Spit, and there is speculation the Russians are moving back defences closer to Melitopol where partisans have been operating.

Numbers permitting, Ukrainian forces could possibly drive down from the Dnipro area towards either the port of Mariupol or Melitopol after nibbling away at Russian assets with rocket artillery.

Donetsk and Luhansk could be a much harder nut to crack as Russian Troops there have better lines of supply.

13th November (day 263)

It's Sunday and Remembrance services are held in churches across the UK.

Kherson

The Russians appear to have largely escaped to the east bank of the Dnieper river in good order, so one suspects they may have been withdrawing from as early as 22nd October mixing with civilians.

In the city of Kherson the Russians are said to have destroyed energy, water and communications infrastructure before leaving.

There are rumours Russia could be moving its administration of the Kherson region from the city of Kherson to Henichesk much further east.

Russia continues to press attacks on other areas of the front-line.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 262 – Summary

Also see:-

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment 12th November 2022

We'll have to wait now to see what both sides plan next.

11th November (day 261)

Remembrance Day.

Ukrainian units welcomed in Kherson City

The Russian withdrawal from Kherson has been rapid. Ukrainian units have retaken many villages in the last 24 hours and some have already been welcomed in the city of Kherson.

Click for BBC report - Ukrainian flags fly in Kherson after Russian retreat

Further north Russian troops continue to attack Bakhmut.

Interview with Bob Seely MP

Bob Seely MP spoke at 8:27 am on Radio 5 Live Breakfast about the situation in Ukraine.

He thinks General Suvorikin's plan is to:

  • pull back Russian troops to a strongly defensible line east of the Dnieper river;
  • then trash Ukrainian morale by further destroying the power network and water supplies with long range missiles.

The presenter suggested 20,000 Russian troops would have to retreat across the river to the east bank. Bob Seely thought that could prove very difficult, but have they already gone; perhaps dressed in civilian clothes? Russian sources suggest the withdrawal is already largely complete. The situation is unclear.

The war could go on for a few more months, a couple of years, or even a generation; no one knows.

Putin will at minimum want to hang on to the land corridor from Russia through Ukraine to Crimea. If that is threatened he would be seen to lose so could do something drastic.

Bob Seely suggests the West should:

  • Continue with military aid.
  • Step up humanitarian aid to include support of electricity and water supplies.
  • Support the development of a nuclear warning and radiation detection system in Ukraine and Europe in case Putin were to either deploy a tactical nuclear weapon or wreck a nuclear power station.

9th November (day 259)

Russia to withdraw troops from Kherson

Russian military leaders announced on Television that troops are to be withdrawn from the city of Kherson and the west bank of the Dnieper river to more defensible positions being prepared on the east bank. Putin was noticeable by his absence - presumably so that any setbacks can be blamed solely on his Generals.

Click for BBC report on YouTube - Huge blow for Russia as it abandons key Ukrainian city of Kherson

Russia is said to be blowing bridges and laying mines to delay the Ukrainian advance; booby traps may also be being laid.

It is estimated there could be between 20,000 and 30,000 Russian troops and ancillaries to evacuate so casualties could be high were assembly points and barges crossing the Dnieper river to be  shelled by Ukrainian forces.

There has recently been a scarcity of news from Kherson, but reports Ukrainian units have taken Snivhurivka and are probing towards Beryslav suggest military units are making good progress towards the city.

UK to provide more surface to air weapons for Ukraine

The UK government issued a press release announcing the provision of more surface to air missiles, and confirming the provision of kit to Ukrainian recruits undergoing basic training in UK.

Click for MOD press release - UK to provide 1,000 more surface to air missiles to Ukraine

1st November (day 251)

General situation

There seems  to have been very little change in the front-line during the last ten days. The ground is becoming increasingly wet and muddy making the movement of vehicles difficult.

Movement should become easier once the ground freezes, but the situation for both civilians and soldiers will likely be horrendous this winter.

Putin continues to launch missile attacks against public utilities cutting off water and electricity supplies.

The biggest story of the week was the Ukrainian attack on the Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea on 29th October using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and surface vessels (USV). It is said there may have been some damage to the cruiser Admiral Makarov and a mine sweeper, but no damage assessments have been reported by either side. One suspects no major damage was caused.

Grain exports

In consequence of the attack on Sevastopol, Putin said he would not renew the grain export deal because he could no longer guarantee the safety of merchant ships.

Meanwhile Turkey and the UN continue to support the export of grain from Ukraine.

We wonder whether Putin can afford to be seen attacking bulk grain carriers and will change his mind.

The continuation of grain exports partly depends on the availability of insurance for merchant vessels.

Click for Aljazeera report: Turkey promises to keep grain moving despite Russian suspension

The situation in Kherson

It's still not clear whether Russia intends to withdraw from the Kherson region west of the Dnieper river or fight.

There remains uncertainty as to whether or not the Russians would blow the Nova Kakihovka dam to flood Kherson following a withdrawal.

Nuclear weapons

The media continues to speculate on whether Putin might use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Boris Johnson speaking on Sky News thinks not.

Click for Sky News story: Boris Johnson says Vladimir Putin 'would be crazy' to use tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine

Duration of the war

Defence analyst Professor Michael Clarke speaking today on the Sky News debate entitled Ukraine: A Modern War says he expects Ukraine to capture Kherson city either in November or if not in January 2023. He anticipates the war could continue for a generation interspersed with occasional cease fires.

Click for Sky News video - Ukraine: A Modern War

This video which sums up the present situation, and what might happen next, is well worth watching.

The Iranian factor

Iran is increasingly becoming a major supplier of drones and missiles to the Russian Federation as Russian stocks run low.

Click for ISW Russian Campaign Assessment 1st November 2022

which mentions Iran's involvement in the war.

Ukraine may need to employ more cost effective measures to bring these down.

Restocking arsenals

Weapon stocks are being used up at an alarming rate and NATO nations will have to speed up the restocking of arsenals if the continuing threat from the Russian Federation is to be countered.

This may involve difficult decisions in these hard economic times.

22nd October (day 241)

Massive cruise missile and drone attacks on power stations across Ukraine causing severe damage and power outages which will last into the winter.

Seems there is a good opportunity here for the West to test defensive weapon systems.

Israel is good at these things but is rumoured to be scared of sending weapon systems to Ukraine for fear of upsetting Putin - it's a strange world.

The Russians are said to be in the process of evacuating Kherson city and moving to the east bank of the Dnieper river.

Click for Daily Kos update: Russian authorities in Kherson order 'immediate evacuation'

Click for Associated Press report: What would retreat from Kherson mean for Russia

British MP Tobias Ellwood and others continue to wonder whether or not Putin might employ Tactical Nuclear weapons. Tobias Ellwood calls for the public to be briefed, but not clear to us whether he means the Ukrainian or British public, and exactly what they should be briefed about?

Two days ago the only submarine cable between Shetland and the mainland was damaged cutting off Internet services. The damage is thought to have been caused by a trawler.

Click for BBC report: Damaged cable leaves Shetland cut off from mainland

19th October (day 238)

Putin has continued to launch cruise missile and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure damaging many power stations, including an attack on the Burshtynska  power station in the far west, near Lviv, today. Once again one wonders how civilians will cope this winter.

Many missiles are reported shot down but some get through.

Once again there appears to have been little change to the front-line.

 Rumours are that Ukraine is preparing a final offensive to retake Kherson up to the west bank of the Dnieper river, where there is currently a news blackout.

Russian sources admit to being in a weak position and have begun evacuating civilians from the city of Kherson.

Click for BBC report: Russians start leaving Ukraine's Kherson city

The BBC reports that Putin has announced Marshal Law in the annexed territories of Ukraine and increased security measures in parts of Russia.

There are continuing reports of explosions in the Russian city of Belgorod used as a staging post for Russian military supplies.

Ukrainian aircraft are said to be suppressing Russian air defences around Kherson.

It's not clear whether Russian troops will fight or withdraw to the east bank of the Dnieper river.

There are some concerns that if Ukraine threatened Crimea Putin might use a Tactical Nuclear Weapon unless the US made it very clear in advance there would be extremely dire consequences.

What matters most to Putin is said to be his own survival in power - one wonders how secure his position is given increasing discontent in Moscow.

Click for ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, October 18th 2022

13th October (day 232)

On the face of it not much has happened in the last few days. Ukraine has not been able to take Svatove and Kreminna in the north, despite being close.

The Russians have made small gains edging closer to Bakhmut, and in Kherson to the south have set up a defensive line roughly running east west through Mylove on the western bank of the Dnieper river.

The most notable event of the last 10 days was an audacious attack on the Kersch bridge connecting Russia with Crimea. It is thought this may have been caused by a truck carrying 2 tons of high explosives, on Putin's birthday.

The explosion caused part of one carriageway to collapse entirely, and fuel wagons to ignite on the railway causing further damage to the track. This could significantly delay the passage of Russian armaments and supplies into Ukraine.

Putin was angry and responded two days later with missile attacks on Ukrainian cities. About 80 missiles were said to have been launched of which half were shot down.

Russia says 8 suspects have been arrested in connection with the Kersch bridge attack.

General Surovikin has been appointed overall commander of Russian forces in Ukraine. He commanded the air war in Syria which was ended by the use of chlorine barrel bombs and has a reputation for being a brutal butcher.

The newspapers discuss whether or not Putin might use either Chemical, Bacteriological or Nuclear weapons. The G7 leaders have met by Zoom and warned Putin against this.

Meanwhile Putin is pouring in ill-equipped conscripts. There are many Russian troops in Belarus exercising with Belarus forces near the border with Ukraine. This may be to draw Ukrainian units away from other areas.

The Russian media outlet SOTA reports that police in Moscow and the surrounding region are raiding hostels, restaurants and offices to indiscriminately round up men for mobilisation.

There are rumours of civilians preparing to leave Kherson and one Russian unit who shot their commander who said they could not surrender.

Overall the situation is somewhat confused, but pundits wonder whether Putin can last much longer.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 230 – Summary

3rd October (day 222)

In the North East of Ukraine, the push from Lyman continues. Ukraine troops now seem to have reached route 66 and the outskirts of Kreminna, while performing a pincer movement on Svatove to the north. These moves, if successful, will severely disrupt Russian lines of supply from Belgorod.

For seven months the Russian army has been shelling civilians from a safe distance, but there are rumours they run away if fired upon from close quarters. The media suggests the professional Russian soldiers rapidly withdraw when in danger of being surrounded, leaving poorly organised conscripts behind.

In the Kherson region Ukraine is advancing from the north on the western side of the Dnieper river. Ukrainian troops may have reached Dudchany, and could press on towards Berislav.

An article in the Daily KOS speculates that Russians fully realise their invasion of Ukraine is doomed.

Click for Daily KOS article Russia's Hour is Later than it Thinks

The only uncertainty now is how the war will end.

Both sides will be wanting to end the conflict before freezing winter weather sets in but, without Putin being removed, the chances of that appear slim.

2nd October (day 221)

Russia continues to be on the back-foot with the Luhansk region now at risk.

Opinion in Russia may be turning against Putin following unpopular and poorly organised mobilisation; the loss of Lyman; and heavy Russian casualties. Many men are fleeing Russia and Crimea to avoid the call-up.

Ukraine has advanced further east from Lyman to Zarichne and Torske. The objective seems to follow the retreating Russians further east to Kreminna.

A further objective could be to harry Russian lines of communication by capturing Svatove to the north.

Some pundits think Putin may be prioritising holding onto the territory he has occupied in the south of Ukraine. That said, the Russians are rumoured to be hard pressed in Kherson on the west side of the Dnieper river.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 220 – Summary

1st October (day 220)

Ukraine captures Lyman lying to the NE of Sloviansk; one suspects many Russian soldiers are killed, but some units escape east to Kreminna after blowing a bridge.

The Daily KOS website carries a harrowing report of the carnage:

Click for Daily KOS report - American volunteer in Ukraine describes the carnage on the highway from Lyman

30th September (day 219)

The world in peril

Putin announces the illegal annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia following sham referendums.

Putin is doubling up. Poorly trained Russian conscripts are pouring in to hold the occupied territories while trainloads of tanks have been seen crossing the Kersch bridge from Russia into Crimea.

Putin's cronies call for the use of nuclear weapons. The Russian submarine Belgorod armed with Poseidon nuclear torpedoes is said to have left its base.

Meanwhile Russian forces are almost surrounded in a pocket at Lyman.

Putin has boxed himself into a corner and commentators are wondering what the rat will do next.

27th September (day 216)

Damage reported to the both the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Europe cutting off Russian gas. Sabotage suspected.

24th September (day 213)

Russian 'kamikaze' drones purchased from Iran are said to be making a nuisance of themselves.

Some pundits think Putin has in mind to conscript more than one million soldiers and that 300,000 is just the first batch. However few in Russia seem keen to take up arms and some are already fleeing the country. If mobilisation goes badly Putin's generals will likely take the blame. For example see these two articles:-

Click for Guardian article - Putin needs nothing short of a miracle to avoid a devastating defeat in Ukraine, 23rd September 2022

Click for Defense One article - Putin’s War, and His Rule, Are In Trouble, 23rd September 2022

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 212 – Summary

Ukraine is said to have captured Yatskivka to the east of Izium on the eastern side of the Oskil river; two Russian jets are reported shot-down near Lozove to the north.

There is little news from Kherson apart from a short report by Stuart Ramsay of Sky News saying Ukraine has occupied the village of Vsokopillya which lies between the Inhulets and Dnieper rivers.

Click for Sky News video - Stuart Ramsay visits liberated towns in Kherson frontline

Note: repaired links to Military Land articles moved from folder /Ukraine/ to /news/.

23rd September (day 212)

The situation in Ukraine is escalating. Russia has begun it's illegal mock referendums in the occupied territories and the media is working itself up into a frenzy about whether or not Putin might use nuclear weapons if Ukraine continues to push back the Russian invaders.

Click for Daily Kos report - Voting proceeds at gunpoint in Russian occupied Ukraine

Meanwhile the Ukrainians continue to nibble away at the occupied territories in Kherson and the Donbas.

There are demonstrations in Russia against conscription.

Opinions differ about the extent to which the new Russian conscripts might make a difference.

Click for ISW Russian Campaign Assessment 22nd September 2022

21st September (day 210)

It seems Putin has woken up to the fact Russia has begun losing the war in Ukraine.

Putin announces partial mobilisation and the call-up of 300,000 Russian reservists; once again he threatens the use of nuclear weapons.

President Biden denounces Putin's invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations; Lavrov walks out; Russia has few friends other than Belarus, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Nicaragua and Eritrea.

Tobias Ellwood MP and ex Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon argue in the Daily Telegraph that now Putin is cornered he could be at his most dangerous. They say the war is far from over and it will get uglier; thus strategic plans need to be made by Western Leaders to cover all eventualities.

Click to read Tobias Ellwood's article on Twitter

20th September (day 209)

Putin announces that referendums would go ahead in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson with the aim of annexing those regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation; no doubt hoping to repeat his trick to legalise the invasion of Crimea.

Pundits wonder if Putin would then say any attempt by Ukraine to retake these territories would be an attack on Russia.

17th September (day 206)

Things seem to have quietened down a bit.

Pundits think the Russians may try to establish a new defensive line between the Oskil river and Svatove in the NE to deter Ukraine advancing on Luhansk.

Chinese support for Putin could be waning; they will not want to be on the losing side.

In a programme named the Briefing Room BBC radio 4 hosted a discussion:

Ukraine: Have we reached a turning point in the war?

You'll need to log into the BBC website to listen to that.

It was agreed the momentum is turning in Ukraine's favour. Lawrence Freedman thinks the war could be over sooner than most people think.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) continues to publish daily campaign assessments.

Click for ISW - Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, September 16th 2022

There is emerging disquiet in Moscow; we venture a guess that if the war continues in Ukraine's favour Putin is doomed.

15th September (day 204)

BBC Radio 5 reports the city of Izium, recently recaptured from the Russians, is largely destroyed and that 1,000 bodies have been found. President Zelensky is reported to have received minor injuries in a car crash in Kiev.

Orla Guerin reports for the BBC from Balakliya near Izium. Her account relates recent events and claims of torture:

Click for BBC report - Accounts of Russian torture emerge in liberated areas

Despite it's massive defeat in the Kharkiv region, Russia has insisted that it will press on with its invasion until all the goals that were originally set are achieved. Putin says he will continue to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure.

In recent days there have been missile attacks on power stations and a dam on the Inhulets river near Kryviyi Rih, causing flooding.

Click for Guardian article - Zelensky’s home town flooded after Russian missile strikes hit dam.

Russia may be doing this to slow down any Ukrainian advance in Kherson, and no doubt will be trying to stop Ukrainian troops crossing the Oskil river in the north.

Click for Aljazeera report - Kyiv warns of attacks on energy system

Millions of civilians could suffer from lack of power this winter as a result of Putin's war.

A BBC article warns the Russian Bear is still alive and there is a lot more to do:

Click for BBC article: A successful surprise attack - but danger still looms

Meanwhile the Russian News Agency TASS website paints a completely opposite picture of events.

There are whispers of disquiet in Russia about Putin's leadership but so far he has managed to maintain control.

13th September (day 202)

In the past few days Ukraine has made large gains in the Kharkiv region causing the Russians to withdraw. Izium and Kupiansk have been captured restricting Russian lines of supply from Belgorod.

The defeats in Kharkiv and Izyum have forced Russian soldiers to fall back and  form a defensive line along the Oskil River.

Smaller gains have been made in the Kherson region to the south.

Commentators suggest Ukrainian forces may now need to rest before advancing further. There will be many more battles to fight before this war is over.

Putin has responded by firing missiles at power stations cutting off water and electricity supplies over a wide area.

Click for Guardian report - Russian strikes knock out power and water in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region

There is speculation that once the extent of the Russian defeat becomes known there will be calls for Putin to stand down.

There are rumours some Russian front-line units in Kherson are negotiating a surrender.

Click for ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment 12th September

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 200 – Summary

8th September (day 197)

There is a lot going on. The Ukrainian offensive is gathering pace pushing back the Russians in some areas as villages and ground are recaptured.

Twitter is alive with reports.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 197 – Summary

See also Daily Kos commentary on recent events:-

Click for Daily Kos article - Balakliya and Shevchenkove liberated on the incredible drive to Kupyansk

We wonder if the morale of poorly trained Russian conscripts will sufficiently collapse that many prefer to flee rather than fight. If so the Ukrainian side could find itself having to accommodate and feed a large number of Russian POWs.

6th September (day 195)

The Ukrainian offensive in the Kherson region continues. Because of a news' blackout little is being reported except that Ukraine is making some progress.

There sounds a good chance Russian troops will  eventually either be forced to surrender or retreat to the east bank of the Dnieper river.

Today there are reports Ukraine could be mounting another counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region to the north.

It is rumoured that Germany has provided relatively little help to Ukraine so far, but now is the time for Chancellor Scholz to provide offensive weapons, such as tanks, to help turn the tide.

Lawrence Freedman sums up the present situation:

Lawrence Freedman writes: The Economic War - Cutting off Europe's gas supply is Putin's last throw of the dice

According to Freedman cutting of gas to Europe is Putin's last throw of the dice. No doubt he will next seek a ceasefire hoping to keep what territory he has gained. But if Ukraine is in the driving seat, little hope of that one thinks.

Also see,

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, September 5th, by Institute for the Study of War

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 194 – Summary

Mention is being made of Ukraine retaking Crimea.

If the morale of the Russian troops collapses, who knows what will happen.

30th August (day 188)

Kherson region west of the Dnieper river

Details are sketchy but it seems Ukrainian forces are making some progress, crossing in places the outermost ring of the Russian defence. The western media speculates and possibly exagerates what is going on. For example see this article which bangs the drum for Ukraine.

Click for Daily Kos article - Kherson counteroffensive off to a flying start, and Russian city boils over in panic

President Zelensky said in a late-night address if they want to survive, it’s time for the Russian military to run away and go home.

It will be interesting to see whether Russian soldiers stand and fight or melt away.

 Miles away to the north of Kharkiv civilians in the Russian town of Belgorod are rumoured to be catching trains to Moscow fearing possible attacks on nearby military depots.

29th August (day 187)

It appears Ukraine has launched a counter-offensive in Kherson.

28th August (day 186)

Continuing stalemate; no significant change in the front-line reported during the last week.

Russians continue to shell Ukrainian positions.

It is rumoured Iran will supply Russia with Shahed drones.

Pundits had been expecting a Ukrainian counter attack in the Kherson region, but the opportunity for that seems to have passed since Russian reinforcements were brought in.

A Battle of the Bridges is currently taking place in the Kherson region with Ukraine continuing to damage the Russian lines of communication across the Dnieper river, and the Russians attempting to maintain them by using ferries and building pontoon bridges.

It would seem Ukraine either does not have weapons powerful enough totally to bring down spans of the heavy concrete bridges or lacks the ability to deliver them.

Ukraine is attempting to weaken the Russians, by attacking command posts, logistics, and lines of communication, while avoiding frontal assaults in order to limit casualties.

Despite the Russians losing a lot of tanks, rumours are that Putin still has a plentiful supply of artillery and is attempting to recruit more soldiers.

Concerns continue about safety at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Putin has in principle agreed for inspectors to visit but so far that has not happened. The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is trying to negotiate access to the plant for the urgent inspection.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 184 – Summary

We wonder if the fighting will slacken as winter sets in and whether the supply of winter clothing will become an issue.

24th August (day 182)

Ukraine Independence Day marking Ukraine breaking free from Russia on 24th August 1991.

Six months since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022.

There were concerns Russia  would launch a flood of missiles but in the event there was only a missile attack on the railway network at Chaplyne 110 Km west of of the city of Donetsk. Railway carriages at the station were hit killing 25 and injuring 50.

19th August (day 177)

It seems to be a quieter day while both sides take stock.

Accounts by captured Russian soldiers are posted on Twitter; it appears at least some are poorly fed and led.

The Daily Kos and Aljazeera report on yesterday's events:

Click for Daily Kos report - Another strike into Russia results in a spectacular explosion at ammunition depot

Click for Aljazeera report - More blasts in Russian-held areas far from Ukraine front lines

18th August (day 176)

More explosions and fires have been reported in the last 24 hours.

An ammunition depot in the Belgorod district of Russia NE of Kharkiv is on fire and nearby the Russian villages of Timonovo and Soloti have been evacuated.

To the north fires are reported at the Russian civilian airfield at Stary Oskol where 25 or so military helicopters are parked.

In Kherson the railway track across the Dnieper river at the Nova Kakihovka dam has been attacked once again with the aim of cutting off support to 20,000 Russian soldiers west of the Dnieper river.

Perhaps as a gesture of goodwill they should be offered the chance to either surrender or withdraw; their officers have allegedly already moved their command posts to the other side of the river.

There are reports Belbeck airfield near Sebastopol in SW Crimea was attacked. The day before Russian aircraft had flown east to airfields in Russia.

Black smoke was observed near the holiday resort of Mizhvodne in west Crimea, and Russian Air Defence activity was reported near the Kerch bridge in SE Crimea.

Things seem to be hotting up.

17th August (day 175)

Comment

One has to wonder about Vladimir Putin's sanity. He has lost tens of thousands of men killed plus another 100,000 or so maimed and wounded; about 2,000 tanks; 4,000 armoured personnel carriers; 1,000 artillery pieces and 500 aircraft and helicopters - yet he persists to attack Ukraine.

For a limited Special Military Operation that's an extraordinary cost.

Putin can be likened to a gambler, always doubling up, despite his losses, building up debts hoping one day he will be a winner; either by capturing and holding Kherson and the whole of the Donbas, or better still conquering the whole of Ukraine.

Events

Yesterday's news was about the explosions at a Russian ammunition dump alongside the railway line near Azovske in NE Crimea. There was also an explosion at a nearby electricity sub station close to Dzhankhoi. Both these events may have damaged the railway and could slow the transit of munitions from Russia through Crimea, via the Kerch bridge, and into Kherson.

The Kerch bridge is a large structure and it's possible Ukraine does not have the assets to 'close it' at the moment.

Further south an explosion and black smoke were reported at a military air-base near the village of Gvardiyske in the Simferopol district of Russian occupied Crimea; possibly a minor incident. Damage was also rumoured to Russian warehouses at Rodakovo in Luhansk province, while the Russian headquarters in Lysychansk was said to have been destroyed with possibly large loss of life.

The Guardian newspaper reports a Ukrainian spokesman confirming Russian supply lines are being targeted.

Click for Guardian story - Ukraine aiming to create chaos within Russian forces, Zelensky adviser says, 16th August

Pundits seem to think there may likely be no major counter-offensive in Kherson but rather accelerated attacks on Russian lines of communication and command posts during the autumn and winter. Perhaps making life so uncomfortable for troops on the west side of the Dnieper river that they either surrender or withdraw.

Yesterday, the Daily Kos website reported on the explosions in Crimea:

Click for Daily Kos report - More explosions in Crimea as 'secret weapon' strikes again

A Ukrainian spokesman suggests the attacks were by local 'sympathisers' leaving the Russians to ponder whether Partisans or Special Operations Forces might have been involved.

Today, Jomini of the West posted a roundup of the last fortnight on Twitter.

Alistair Bunkall Sky News reported from the city of Russian-occupied Kherson:

Click for Sky News report -  Insolence of Russian troops in Kherson appears to confirm officers have fled, source says. 17th August 2022

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 174 – Summary

14th August (day 172)

It's Sunday and once again we pray that people of goodwill will seek an early end to bloodshed in Ukraine.

Reports on Twitter suggest there has been little change to front-lines in the last few days.

Ukraine continues to attack Russian lines of communication with a view to weakening morale and the supply of munitions.

For example see update from Daily Kos:

Click for Daily Kos update - Russian leadership reportedly retreats from Kherson as bridges are blown

A BBC story talks about the role partisans play in intelligence gathering:

Click for BBC story - Ukraine's shadow army resisting Russian occupation 29th July 2022

It looks like a continuing war of attrition with Russia having the larger force, but Ukraine compensating by being tactically more agile.

The BBC quotes General Sir James Hockenhull saying it is unrealistic to expect a decisive shift in Kherson in the coming months. He says he understands Ukraine's desire to retake territory, but adds that while there will be counter-attacks and counter-offensives, he does not believe there will be decisive action taken this year by either side. His expectation is for a long conflict.

Meanwhile the Russian Federation is suffering reputational damage, sanctions will no doubt hurt more as time goes on, and should the supply  and choice of goods on supermarket shelves start shrinking perhaps the Russian public might begin to think more seriously about calling for Putin to go and an end to the war in Ukraine.

10th August (day 168)

More speculation about the cause of the explosions at the Novofedorivka, Saky, military airbase but no answers. Considerable damage seems to have occurred.

There are rumours of attacks on Russian Air Defences near Nova Kakhovka which lies 60 Km to the northeast of the City of Kherson. The strategic importance of the town is that here is a dam providing hydroelectric power and road access across the river Dnieper.

The road across the dam and the Antonivskyi bridge east of the city of Kherson are the only two major lines of communication for Russian troops on the west side of the Dnieper river.

More about the bridges can be found on the BVC News website.

Click for BVC News article - The bridge at Nova Kakhovka and the bridge at Kherson

Note: we have been unable to discover who owns BVC News; do you know?

There is speculation Putin wants to redirect the ouput of the  Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to Crimea.

The BBC reports President Zelensky saying 'The war in Ukraine began with Crimea and must end with its liberation'.

Click for BBC article: Ukraine war must end with liberation of Crimea – Zelensky

The article goes on to say that 'there are fears that if the Ukrainians begin systematically attacking Russian targets inside Crimea, then the Russian response could be very serious indeed' - translation, Putin might use Tactical Nuclear Weapons.

Hint: many of the Ukraine war maps on Twitter are too small to read. Came across a tip to right click  and open the image in a new tab which makes it bigger; then clicking on the map can make it bigger still. This works on Windows 10 Desktop PC and makes 'Jomini of the West' weekly situation reports legible.

9th August (day 167)

Some excitement on Twitter today as ammunition stores at the Russian Novofedorivka, Saky, military airbase on the south coast of Crimea exploded. This happened only a few miles away from holiday beaches where tourists felt the shockwave and filmed smoke rising in the sky.

Click for BBC report - Blasts rock Russian airbase in annexed Crimea

The Daily Kos website reports on more aid for Ukraine from the US and the strike on Novofedorivka.

Click for Daily Kos update - More US aid headed Ukraine's way; Ukraine strikes Russian airfield deep in Crimea

Of course Russia claims the detonations were an accident, while Ukraine does not officially admit to an attack. Some suggest a new ballistic missile may have been used; others speculate whether Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, which allegedly have a range of up to 300 Km, could have been involved, while others suggest sabotage by either partisans or Special Forces. The bottom line is no-one in the public domain knows how the detonations were caused.

The US says HIMARS ammunition supplied to Ukraine only has a range of about 70 Km, far too little to hit Crimea.

There have been calls for a UN peacekeeping force and inspectors to protect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Yesterday there were reports of Russian ammunition stores exploding in the Kherson region near Partyzany and Novooleksiivka settlements. See Special Kherson Cat Twitter for location.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 166 – Summary

8th August (day 166)

The Daily Kos website has an update on the situation in the Kherson region where it is claimed Russian soldiers are being led into a trap on the west side of the Dnieper river.

Click for Daily Kos update: As Ukraine hits Kherson bridges, a surprise missile makes its exciting combat debut

The missile referred to is the US air launched AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile, reported by Russian sources. It is uncertain whether Ukraine either has these or aircraft equipped to launch them. Note the US confirms it has supplied these missiles - presumably some 'lash-up' has been devised for launching them from Ukrainian aircraft.

According to Ukrainian Pravda, Russian Major General Valerii Vasyliev, who now commands the  garrison at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, chillingly told his soldiers that 'there will be either Russian land or a scorched desert here'.

He has mined and is threatening to blow up the Nuclear Power Plant, which is said to be the largest nuclear facility in Europe.

There are now urgent calls for the UN to send in a peace keeping force and inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was interviewed by Sky News about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and prospects for pushing the Russians out of Kherson.

Click for Sky News report - Former Ukraine president warns of Zaporizhzhia 'catastrophe'

Poroshenko said confidently Ukraine had the will and could do the job if given enough artillery, ammunition, air defences and aircraft.

The US announced a further $1Bn package of aid for Ukraine.

More bulk carriers are reported to have left the Odessa region carrying grain.

6th August (day 164)

General situation

On the face of it front-lines are little changed. Russia is pouring reinforcements into Kherson to defend against the rumoured Ukrainian summer counter-offensive. Some pundits wonder if Ukraine can now make much headway while others speculate Russia could make a counter-push towards Mikolaiv.

Others wonder whether talk of an offensive in Kherson is a deception to draw Russian forces away from the east and north-east.

Meanwhile small groups of Ukrainian soldiers are said to be harrying Russian troops and attacking lines of communication, and ammunition dumps in Kherson, for example using HIMARS.

There is speculation the war is about to enter a new phase with the heaviest fighting shifting to a 350km front line stretching from Zaporizhzhya to Kherson, following the course of the Dnieper River.

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, called for patience with regard to the counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, saying it is the military, headed by the Commander-in-Chief, and not 'armchair' experts, who will determine the timing.

So we are very much left in the dark as to what exactly is going on, and can only wait and see how the situation develops in coming weeks.

There are rumours of a small explosion on a Russian patrol boat near Sebastopol.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 164 – Summary

Grain exports

The  Bulk Carrier Razoni made it to Turkey and should dock in the Lebanon in a day or two. Three more bulk carriers either have left or are about to leave the ports of Odessa and Chornomorsk (which lies 10 Km south of Odessa).

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the Turkish-flagged Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, left the port of Chornomorsk bound for Karasu, Turkey. The Panama-flagged Navi Star left Odessa for Ireland with 33,000 tons of corn. The Maltese-flagged Rojen left Chornomorsk for the UK carrying over 13,000 tons of corn.

The Barbados-flagged Fulmar S was inspected in Istanbul and is inward bound for the port of Chornomorsk.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

There are grave concerns about safety at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, near Enerhodar, which is occupied by Russian forces. From there Russian artillery is said to have been shelling Nikopol across the Dnieper river.

Putin has been laying waste to Ukraine. There are rumours the Russians have mined the power plant and might destroy it if forced to retire thus denying heat to swathes of the population during the coming winter or even worse causing radioctive contamination over a large area.

Click for Pravda report - Radiation emission risk: Russian troops seriously damage nitrogen-oxygen unit at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Click for International Atomic Energy Authority - Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

1st August (day 159)

The Daily Kos website seems to be a useful source of information about the war in Ukraine, though some of its sources may be painting a slightly rosy picture of events.

Click for Daily Kos update -

Ukraine Invasion Day 159: Belarus urges surrender, because it did to Russia

Belarus President Lukashenko is Putin's puppet, but he is not generally well liked in Belarus. If Ukraine survives Putin's war, Belarus could well begin looking to the West, and Putin would not like that.

The MilitaryLand website talks about the Russians attacking with overwhelming force near Bakhmut. Quote:

Ukrainian troops are unable to hold off overwhelming Russian forces in the area of Bakhmut. The enemy is slowly, but surely advancing towards Bakhmut from the southern and eastern direction.

Maybe that's a bit strong, but perhaps it's true.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 158 – Summary

Grain exports

Today the  Bulk Carrier Razoni left Odessa with 26,000 tons of corn bound for Lebanon. Ukraine says 16 more vessels with 600,000 tons of grain are waiting to depart, should the first shipment be successful.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the vessel would anchor off Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon and be inspected by a joint team of Russian, Ukrainian, United Nations and Turkish representatives; it will then continue as long as no problems arise.

Speculation

Making parallels with WWII one might say:

  • President Vladimir Putin mirrors dictator Adolf Hitler.
  • Defence of Kiev mirrors the Battle of Britain.
  • The evacuation of troops from Severodonetsk and Lysychansk mirrors Dunkirk.
  • The recent killing of Ukrainian POWs mirrors the Malmedy massacre of US POWs by the Waffen SS and could stiffen Ukrainian resolve.
  • The taking of Kherson west of the Dnieper river could be the turning point that was El Alamein.
  • Crossing the Dnieper river and retaking Melitopol, Berdyansk, and Mariupol would be a hard slog and equate to D Day and the subsequent vicious battle for Normandy.

The point being - Ukraine needs a significant victory to show the West it can push the Russians back in order to guarantee further aid during the forthcoming winter which is likely to be economically difficult for European nations. It ideally needs an 'El Alamein' moment before the end of September.

31st July (day 158)

Comment

It's Sunday once again and another week has gone by. It would seem from media reports that there has been little change in front lines. Russia is said to have advanced a little in the Donetsk region and systematically continues to destroy Ukrainian cities with missile attacks. The BBC reports a particularly heavy bombardment of Mikolaiv this morning; during which one of Ukraine's richest men, grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadatursky aged 74 years, perished along with his wife after a missile struck their home.

The war is said to be in a transitional phase while both sides regroup.

For more information see Daily Kos report below.

Grain exports

Both sides signed an agreement on 22nd July to export grain and fertiliser, which the Washington Post says runs for 120 days and could be renewed for further periods of 120 days.

The Russians presumably want to sell the grain they have stolen from Ukraine and export their fertiliser; once that's done the agreement could well lapse.

Ukrainian ships loaded with grain are said to be ready to leave port and one wonders how far they will get without hitting a mine.

We imagine the Russians will be monitoring safe routes for their amphibious forces, and considering the use of returning empty cargo ships as Trojan Horses in order to attack the port of Odessa.

Letters from Ukraine

These letters by Lyndsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News, describe what it was like to have been in Kiev between March and May 2022.

Click for 'Letters from Ukraine' article by Lyndsey Hilsum

News

Ukraine once again speculates whether Putin will launch another attack from Belarus. Certainly missiles continue to be fired from there, but perhaps forces in this region are reserves supplying the campaign around Kharkiv and Izium?

President Zelensky orders the withdrawal of civilians from the Donetsk region, where there is heavy fighting, to minimise loss of life. Russian forces capturing power stations and cutting off supplies of gas could also have something to do with this decision.

Putin continues to restrict the supply of gas to the West, which has resulted in energy prices shooting up to unaffordable levels. No doubt he thinks, once winter comes, support for Ukraine will shrink as people shiver in their homes.

Little is being said in the British press about the escalating costs of energy on businesses. We could be entering desperate times. Boris Johnson may yet thank his lucky stars that MPs removed him when they did.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are still vying to become Prime Minister, with Liz Truss looking most likely to win at the moment.

There have been reports of the bombing of a warehouse in Olehnivka where Ukrainian POWs were being held, with each side blaming the other.

Click for BBC Ukraine round-up: Deadly attack on prisoners of war

There are allegations of a Ukrainian POW being tortured, castrated and killed. For example see this article in the New York Post:-

Click for NYPost article - sickening video shows gagged Ukrainian POW being castrated

An update on the situation in Ukraine can be found on the Daily Cos website:-

Click for Daily Kos update: Russia reportedly pulls forces from occupied towns to rush troops to Kherson

What next

For weeks pundits have been suggesting a Ukrainian offensive to isolate the Russian 49th Combined Arms Army and capture Kherson up to the West bank of the Dnieper river.

To counter this Russia has been moving battle groups from the Donbas to defend Kherson. Convoys have been seen crossing the Kerch Bridge from Russia into Crimea. One would think a tempting target, but it's about 400Km and Ukraine would need appropriate missiles.

Ukraine has been interdicting Russian lines of supply nearer home, for example using HIMARS.

Russia is attempting to repair the damaged Antonivskyi bridge across the Dnieper and has put in place a ferry service.

Pundits are suggesting it is the time for the Ukrainian offensive in Kherson to begin in earnest, before:

  • Russia has time to train new recruits to replace casualties and conscripts terminating contracts.

  • Russia finishes setting up its civilian administration in Kherson

  • Before winter sets in

The question people are asking is - does Ukraine have enough experienced soldiers and the command and control necessary for coordinating a large scale assault in Kherson after losses in the Donbas?

 

29th July (day 156)

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 156 – Summary

27th July (day 154)

The Antonivskyi bridge in Kherson is further damaged. The Daily Kos website has an article suggesting Russia won't be able to advance much further towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, and that Russian troops in Kherson west of the Dnieper river will soon find themselves in a tight spot, cut off from supplies and in range of Ukrainian artillery.

Click for Daily Kos update: Russia is seemingly recalibrating around Izyum; Kherson's bridges are falling down, 27th July 2022

26th July (day 153)

Russia is reported to be intensifying its attacks and making small gains in the Donbas region.

Ukraine continues the news embargo on fighting near Kherson on the west side of the river Dnieper in the south; the Russians are rumoured to be bringing in more artillery on the east side of the river.

It's possible Ukraine may capture the city of  Kherson, but do they have the capability to push further east across the river towards Melitopol and Crimea?

Actually no idea what is going on. The Twitter-sphere is alive with Western pundits suggesting things will now turn in Ukraine's favour, but that could be wishful thinking.

Jack Detsch has published an interesting article on the Foreign Policy website, an American news publication. This suggests that, unless stopped, Putin could be back next year to capture Odessa and the Black Sea coastline thus linking up Russia with the enclave of Transnistria which supports Russia within neutral Moldova.

Click for FP report - Russia Has Its Sights on Odessa 20th July 2022

25th July (day 152)

ISW report that recent Ukrainian strikes on Russian warehouses, communication hubs, and rear bases are having a devastating and potentially irreversible impact on the development of future Russian offensives.

Russian missile attacks continue but shelling is lighter.

Ukraine continues to nibble away at Russian forces in Kherson west of the Dnieper river. Attacks on bridges across the river Dnieper and it's tributary the Ingulet (Inhulet) are aimed at cutting their supply lines. If large numbers of Russian troops are forced to surrender what will Ukraine do with them?

What would Putin do faced with defeat; would he for example withdraw his forces or double down by resorting to tactical nuclear weapons?

Read some views on The Atlantic website:-

WHAT IF RUSSIA USES NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN UKRAINE?

A look at the grim scenarios—and the US playbook for each by Eric Schlosser 20th June 2022.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 152 – Summary

24th July (day 151)

It's Sunday marking 5 months since the start of the war when Kiev was expected to be captured within days. Many then thought Ukraine was doomed, but its people have held out and one wonders if the tide has begun to turn against the Russian invaders.

Click for ISW - RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 24

23rd July (day150)

Russia fires four missiles into the port of Odessa hitting a cargo ship.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 150 – Summary

22nd July (day 149)

Ukraine and Russia separately sign a deal with the UN and Turkey to allow the export of grain and fertiliser.

21st July (day 148)

Today's Daily Kos optimistically speculates on Ukraine's strategy in the Kherson region.

Click for Daily Kos article - Ukraine's upcoming strategy is starting to take shape, look to the southeast

Russian forces are said to be creeping towards the Vuhlehirska coal-fired power station north of the city of Donetsk on the edge of the battlefront.

The CIA say there is no evidence Putin is in poor health.

It is rumoured the US might (in time) supply A-10 'tank-killer' aircraft to Ukraine.

Here's a transcript of a press statement from the US Department of Defense yesterday:

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark A. Milley Hold a Press Conference 20th July 2022

20th July (day 147)

For the time being the UK media has largely forgotten about the war in Ukraine with the Tory party leadership election, the heat-wave and sport grabbing the headlines.

Not much seems to have happening in the last week other than both sides firing missiles at each other, the Russians mostly hitting apartment blocks and killing civilians, and Ukrainians hitting ammunition depots, radars and bridges.

There may be a lot of fighting but little shift in front-lines.

There is talk in the media of Russia annexing the captured territories but that won't happen if Ukraine recaptures them; but will Ukraine want to recapture districts in the Donbas largely occupied by the separatists?

Russia talks a lot of bullshit such as attacking annexed territory will be attacking Moscow.

An article on the Daily Kos website suggests the Russian campaign could 'fall apart' in August but who knows. This may be wishful thinking but it's worth a read:-

Click for Daily Kos article - July has been very bad for Russia. August is going to be catastrophic, just as General Hodges said

The Defence Industry of Ukraine claims the destruction of a Russian mobile radar station near the village of Lazurne, on the south coast of the Kherson region east of the Dnieper river. That's quite a long way from the front-line so we wonder how that was achieved

Click for article - Russian Podlet-K1 radar neutralized in Kherson region

Grain exports through the Black sea could be opened up but Putin will want a quid pro quo, so that's unlikely to happen.

Zelensky is said to be attempting to weed out Putin supporters from Ukrainian security bodies.

19th July (day 146)

On 14th December 1939 the USSR was expelled from the League of Nations for invading Finland. Its a pity that no-one has found the means to expel the Russian Federation from the United Nations.

Wonder what is happening in Belarus on the northern border of Ukraine where troops have been exercising near the border and from where Russians continue to fire missiles into Ukraine.

Click for France24 article - Will Belarus join Moscow's Ukraine offensive?

Opinion seems to be that Lukashenka will continue to sit on the fence.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 146 – Summary

18th July (day 145)

Putin is said to have instructed his forces to focus on destroying US long-range artillery in Ukraine such as HIMARS. General Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, gave the order shortly after US HIMARS were reported to have blown up another ammunition depot in Russian-occupied Kherson.

Well war is a partly a question of who has the greater industrial capacity so if the West continues to maintain its resolve and resupply Ukraine Putin should eventually be ground down.

One wonder wonders if Partisans and Guerilla warfare will play a significant part in those regions where the Russians are not wanted. Perhaps not in the Donbas were separatists want to become part of the Russian Federation; but could disrupting actions by Partisans significantly hinder the Russians in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia prior to Ukraine mounting an Autumn counter-offensive in the south east?

As usual we will just have to wait and see.

17th July (day 144)

It's Sunday once again, and we are reminded it's the eighth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH17 over Donetsk in 2014 by a Russian surface to air missile, which killed all 298 men, women and children onboard.

Click for Wikipedia article - Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

It's another in a long list of crimes for which Putin denies responsibility.

There is chat on Twitter suggesting the Russians would like to capture Sloviansk and Kramatorsk next, whilst Ukraine might be planning to retake the Kherson region west of the river Dnieper. It's uncertain whether Ukraine could mount a major counter-offensive as that would depend on delivery of more tanks, APCs and HIMARS from the West. Pundits suggest a counter-offensive is unlikely before September/October 2022; until then Ukraine would attempt to hold the line and cut off Russian lines off communication.

A Daily Kos article suggests the Russians have not taken Siversk and Bilohorivka could still be contested.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 144 – Summary

16th July (day 143)

Have been missing situation reports from Jomini of the West - apparently he has had a bad bout of COVID but hopes to be reporting again soon.

On 7th July the media reported Putin as saying the war has barely begun in Ukraine. Putin's policy seems to be to destroy the morale of the population, destroy Ukraine's infrastructure and steal as much land as possible.

Presumably he is going to carry on until he runs out of soldiers and weapons.

Spies could be playing a significant role in this war, on both sides. Russia is said to recruiting agents to report the movement of materials from the West.

Click for Ukrainian Pravda article - Russia is trying to trace the routes by which Ukraine receives weapons from Europe - Intelligence Service

HIMARS artillery has been destroying Russian ammunition depots and command posts so Putin's men will be looking for them.

Click for Daily Kos article - Russian sources are not loving HIMARS as much as we are

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu is said to have ordered units to step up operations to prevent strikes on Russian-controlled areas. See the two links below:

Click for Radio Free Europe article - Russia Orders Troops to Intensify Attacks as Missiles, and Shelling Blast Ukrainian Cities

Click for Reuters report - Russia says it will ramp up operations as rockets pound Ukraine

A missile attack on Dnipro destroyed a Space Rocket facility.

Click for BBC report - Missile strike on Ukraine space plant in Dnipro kills three

There were also missile attacks on Nikopol which lies on the opposite side of the Dnipro river to the nuclear power plant where Russia is said to have emplaced artillery.

15th July (day 142)

Hard to know what is happening. Shelling by Russians may have dipped a little but missile attacks on residential areas and factories are increasing. Possibly Russia has ended its operational pause.

British aid worker Paul Urey, who suffered from Diabetes, has died in Russian captivity.

Click for Aljazeera report - UK summons Russian ambassador over death of aid worker in Ukraine

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 142 – Summary

14th July (day 141)

Fighting goes on with the Russians continuing to fire missiles into residential areas of cities causing civilian casualties. No significant changes in position  have been reported in recent days.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 140 – Summary

There is a danger of this turning into a long drawn out conflict. It sounds like more heavy weapons will be needed if Ukrainian forces are to dislodge the Russians from well defended positions and bring the war to a conclusion before the end of the year.

There are rumours the Turks have negogiated an agreement to allow the export of Ukrainian grain by sea.

The media reports Putin is trying to secure the delivery of more drones from Iran.

See France 24 report - Russia seeks Iran drones after losses in Ukraine

 

9th July (day 136)

Attacks on Russian ammunition depots have increased in recent days. For example see this report from Daily Kos:-

Russian logistics back to playing a central role

A Russian warehouse in Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region has been attacked.

The HIMARS Multiple Rocket Launcher System is said to be playing a part. The US is to increase the number to be supplied to 12..

More important is getting sufficient missiles. These are very expensive, around £100,000 per shot.

Russia says they have destroyed 2 HIMARS launchers, but that has not been confirmed.

Newspapers say Ukraine is having increasing difficulty flying drones due to jamming, and the danger of being shot down following detection by Russian radars.

Communications on the battlefield is said to remain a problem. Not sure how it works but Elon Musk's Starlink is said to be making a useful contribution.

8th July (day 135)

Apart from continuing missile strikes there seems to have been a lull in the fighting in recent days. The Russians are said to be regrouping and bringing in reinforcements in elderly MT-LB Armoured Personnel Carriers drawn from reserves.

Click for information on MT-LB APC

Lavrov was largely shunned at the G20 meeting in Bali, but in the sidelines had bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of non-aligned countries Brazil, China, Indonesia, India, Turkey, South Africa, Argentina and others.

See New York Post article:

Vladimir Putin lackey Sergey Lavrov storms out of G20 after photo snub

Also Guardian report:

Lavrov walks out of G20 talks after denying Russia is causing food crisis

Putin and Lavrov dare NATO to fight in Ukraine.

7th July (day 134)

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 134 – Summary

6th July (day 133)

We wait to see what happens next; will Ukraine be able to hold Sloviansk and then turn the tables on Putin?

Click for Daily Kos update - slow rates of advance and massive artillery exchanges

A disturbing Sky News report from Alex Crawford suggests many Ukrainian solders still lack modern weapons despite aid from the West.

5th July (day 132)

It is rumoured Ukkraine has withdrawn to a defensive line roughly running from Sloviansk to Bakhmut.

A Daily Kos article speculates about the high cost and likely role of HIMARS multiple rocket launchers.

Click for Daily Kos update - HIMARS has an even longer range

4th July (day 131)

Russia has taken the city of Lysychansk but Sky News reports Putin has ordered his troops to continue pushing forwards; clearly Putin's ambition is to take as much of Ukraine as he can.

A Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kherson region could be underway.

A Daily Kos article highlights the importance of liberating the cities of Berdiansk, Kherson, Mariupol, and Melitopol, and reopening ports to merchant shipping.

Click for Daily Kos article: whoever controls the South, controls Ukraine's economic destiny

The industrial Donbas, largely occupied by separatists, is now a pile of rubble and of lesser value.

Ukrainian Pravda reports on the current fighting:

Click for Pravda report: Russian troops force crossing over Siverskyi Donets river, consolidate positions near Bilohorivka – General Staff report

A Russian ammunition depot has exploded in occupied Snizhne which lies 50 miles east of the city of Donetsk near the Russian border.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 130 – Summary

The next MilitaryLand update is expected on 7th July.

3rd July (day 130)

Both sides now think they can win this war. The West can't afford to let Putin win and Putin can't afford to lose. Whatever happens it's possible  by the time Putin is finished much of Ukraine could be little more than a pile of rubble with a significant part of its infrastructure destroyed.

Ukraine confirms withdrawal from Lysychansk; most of the city has been pounded into rubble. Now MLRS attacks and heavy shelling of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut which are presumably Russia's next objective.

There is a Ukrainian missile attack on a Russian base near Melitopol. Little is being reported about Ukrainian operations in the Kherson region for security reasons.

2nd July (day 129)

Russian soldiers reported in the centre of the city of Lysychansk.

Russian ammunition depot in Popasna destroyed.

Australian Prime Minister visits Ukraine.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 128 – Summary

The next MilitaryLand update is expected on 7th July.

1st July (day 128)

Comment

Pundits seem to think that Ukraine may soon be able to halt the Russian advance but are doubtful it will be possible to push the Russians back to the 24th February start line this year, if ever.

30th June (day 127)

Russia withdraws from Snake Island which has been repeatedly attacked by Ukraine.

Click for latest Daily Kos Ukraine news stories

Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden hold news' conferences following the NATO Summit in Madrid expressing support for Ukraine and describing how NATO will adapt to meet new threats.

Click for Boris Johnson's news conference

Starts at 33 minutes

Click for President Joe Biden's news conference

Starts at 44 minutes.

29th June (day 126)

Alex Crawford, Sky News, reports from the front line in Lysychansk.

Click to watch video - Alex Crawford reports from Lysychansk as Russian troops close in on city

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 126 – Summary

Comment

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton was interviewed by ITV News political editor Robert Peston (Series 8 Episode 22).

While most Western Observers on Twitter suggest Russia is losing, John Bolton said, in terms of gaining territory, Putin is clearly winning, despite heavy losses of men and equipment.

In a similar fashion in 1982 Margaret Thatcher had claimed a great victory in the Falklands despite considerable damage to and loss of warships.

Rhetoric has been ramped up; delivery of weapon systems has yet to meet expectations.

28th June (day 125)

There is talk of the US buying the Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System NASAMS for Ukraine in order to better protect cities. This is a short to medium range networked air defence system rumoured to be used to defend the White House.

Click for ABC News report - US to purchase advanced missile system for Ukraine's defense

Lithuania hit by Cyber attacks.

Click for latest Daily Kos Ukraine news stories

27th June (day 124)

There have been several successful attacks on Russian ammunition dumps in recent days which might be reflected in reduced shelling. Nevertheless many long range rockets and cruise missiles continue to be fired from outside Ukraine, only a few of which are brought down by air defences.

Russian troops continue to advance and are beginning to encircle Lysychansk, so Ukrainian soldiers may be forced to withdraw. In the north fighting continues near Kharkhiv. In the South Ukrainian forces press the Russians back a little.

Russian Kh-22 anti-ship missile hits a shopping centre in Kremenchuck which burnt to the ground. The strike killed at least 18 people, 59 more are wounded and 36 missing. It's possible the target was a factory nearby.

President Zelensky says he hopes the war will be over before the winter when fighting conditions will become difficult for both sides.

The G7 meeting in Bavaria expressed continued support for Ukraine.

NATO is to increase its Rapid Reaction Force from 40,000 to 300,000 to counter the new threat from the Russian Federation.

A NATO meeting starts in Spain tomorrow.

The UK Defence Secretary to discuss increasing the Defence budget with the PM.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 124 – Summary

26th June (day 123)

It's Sunday and another week has rolled by with the Russians continuing to make advances around Severodonetsk. Putin continues to utter threats and Lukashenko says restricting access to Kaliningrad is akin to declaring war.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 122 – Summary

Ukraine seems to have had some success attacking supply hubs and probing in Kherson. For example see Daily Kos update:-

Click for Daily Kos update - Russia's supply and command and control hubs no longer safe

Radio 5 interview

The Radio 5 Sunday Breakfast programme included an interview with Ukrainian MP Kyra Rudyk who is currently in Lithuania:-

Four missiles are reported to have hit Kiev today; others were brough down by air-defences. Many missiles have been fired at Ukraine recently which are likely Putin's revenge for the EC considering Ukraine's application to join the EU.

Following missiles being fired from Belarus, Belarus is no longer considered a friendly neighbour.

In Kyra's view EU sanctions won't be effective until 2023 and only then if the EU places an embargo on Russian gas. The EU will likely continue to fund Russia and therefore the war in Ukraine for the remainder of 2022.

The turning point in the war will only come when the West supplies Ukraine with enough heavy weapons, which could be many months away. Currently only 10% of weapons requested have been supplied.

Ukraine will also need financial assistance.

25th June (day 122)

Russians fire about 48 missiles into Ukraine hitting military facilities; some missiles are fired from Belarus, others from the Baltic Sea. Targets hit include not only areas in the east but also Lviv, Zhytomyr and Khmelnytskyi in the west.

Ukraine Intelligence suspects Putin wants to bring Belarus into the war. On the other hand there are reports of large stocks of shells being transferred from Belarus' arsenals to Russia.

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from Severodonetsk across the Siversky Donets river using small boats.

It's unclear whether the Ukranian troops which were in danger of being encircled have withdrawn from the Zolote pocket a little to the south.

These troops may now be redeploying to defend Lysychansk.

Click for Institute for the Study of War Russian offensive Campaign assessment June 26th

and look for Key Takeaways.

Click for Daily Kos update - the Ukraine quits Severodonetsk

We came across some atmospheric snaps of scenes and soldiers by Australian war photographer Bryce Wilson:-

Click for Bryce Photography website

24th June (day 121)

Talk of Ukraine troops withdrawing from Severodonetsk and Lysychansk due to creeping Russian advance.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 120 – Summary

Alternatively click for Institute for the Study of War Russian offensive Campaign assessment June 23rd

Comment

The arrival of a few HIMARS Multiple Rocket Launcher Systems may help Ukraine a little providing they can keep them safe.

In the east Russian air defences are said to be making it hard for Ukraine to fly drones and thus direct artillery fire.

Support from the UK could be diminished if Conservative Party rebels unseat Boris Johnson.

Russia has been cutting off gas to NATO countries, and we have yet to see what the implications will be, for example next winter.

Lithuania is blockading the railway to (Russian) Kaliningrad; the EU is waiting to see if Putin escalates.

Belarus forces are exercising on the border of north Ukraine. Putin is allegedly sending in units to cause trouble and then blame Ukraine. The President of Belarus is in a difficult position - he wants to support Putin but the population does not.

Russia is still blocking access to the Black Sea and cereal exports. Shortages of sunflower oil, wheat, animal feeds and fertilizers are pushing up prices and consequently food prices in the shops. Shortages are likely to cause famine in third world countries.

Russia may soon capture Severodonetsk and Lysychansk which some thought Putin wanted achieved by the G7 meeting on 26th June. The question then will be - what will Putin do next; will he consolidate his gains and stick or try to gain further territory.

One of Putin's aims had been to secure the water supply to Crimea from Ukraine.

Russia has also captured valuable agricultural land, coal and iron, and ports. Ukraine doesn't seem to be in the mood to negotiate. Their position appears to be to weaken the Russian military and then hopefully push them back. There could be a lot more bloodshed before this war ends.

23rd June (day 120)

Ukraine reports first High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in operation. It will be interesting to see how long these survive. Pundits suggest artillery has to move within minutes to avoid counter-fire.

Russian forces said to be concentrated around Severodonetsk, leaving other areas less well defended.

22nd June (day 119)

Russian troops have captured Toshkivka and are advancing north alongside the west bank of the Siversky Donets river towards Bila Hora and Lysychansk.

The city of Lysychansk is being progressively destroyed by Russian shelling and attempts are being made to evacuate 8,000 or so remaining civilians.

Ukrainian troops are withdrawing to prevent encirclement.

In the south, Ukraine mounts attacks on Snake Island destroying a SAM system and other equipment.

A Ukrainian drone is reported to have damaged the Russian Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in the Rostov region bordering Ukraine.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 118 – Summary

21st June (day 118)

Lithuania implements EU restrictions on goods headed for Russia affecting the rail link between Belarus and Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad is a small region sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, which provides an operating base for the Russian Navy in the Baltic.

Putin threatens retaliatory measures.

20th June (day 117)

No entry

19th June (day 116)

It is both Sunday and Fathers' Day in the UK and one wonders how many children in Ukraine have sadly lost their fathers as a result of Putin's invasion.

Stories about the war in Ukraine can be found on the DAILY KOS website; for example see this article about the supply of logistics to Ukraine:-

Click for DAILY KOS article - Ukraine pleads poverty, more on logistics, and Putin suffers diplomatically

The article says aid is getting through - it just takes time.

For maps and a situational update click the link below:-

MilitaryLand Invasion Day 114 – Summary

Comment

The BBC reports NATO's Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, speaking after a meeting with the alliance's defence ministers on 16 June, saying 'the West must prepare to continue supporting Ukraine in a war lasting for years'.

Boris Johnson says supplies of weapons, equipment, ammunition, and training needed to outpace Moscow's efforts to rearm itself and that we should steel ourselves for a long war; but let's hope the war is over by Christmas.

Click for BBC report - Ukraine war could last for years, warns Nato chief

It must be remembered Putin started his invasion of Ukraine in 2014 when he invaded Crimea and the Donbas. This is an extension of a war that started 8 years ago.

Any cease-fire now would just give Putin the opportunity to re-arm before pressing on towards Poland and the Baltic states.

A Ukrainian spokesman suggests there will no negotiations before the end of August, and one assumes Ukraine is hoping by then to have counter-attacked and recaptured enough territory to put them in a much stronger bargaining position.

The new Chief of the Defence Staff is reported to have told soldiers in a leaked private communication they must be ready to fight the Russian army, should the situation escalate.

General Sir Patrick Sanders says our forces must prepare to fight in Europe once again as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to a new era of insecurity.

Click for Daily Mail newspaper report - Prepare to fight and beat Russia in a Third World War

Other pundits are suggesting NATO must increase its arsenal and readiness of troops. This would no doubt come at a cost when inflation is already causing hardship.

18th June (day 115)

There is talk of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in the safety of Glasgow next year, but Boris Johnson says, in order to boost morale in Kiev, it should be held in Ukraine.

There are Russian missile attacks on Kremencheck and Kyri Riv to the west of the Dnipro river and Mikolayiv; plus continued fighting in Severodonetsk and shelling of Lysychansk.

17th June (day 114)

Boris Johnson meets President Zelensky in Kiev to discuss military and humanitarian aid.

Russian naval tug Vasily Bekh sunk while on a mission to bring ammunition, weapons, and personnel to Snake Island.

Comment

For days it has been difficult to know what the situation is in the east of Ukraine. Russian forces are said to be making only small gains at great cost. One day it seems the Ukrainians are about to be overwhelmed and the next there are reports Ukraine is counter attacking.

Whatever the situation, Russia is still lobbing over a considerable number of shells and missiles causing widespread damage.

That said if Ukraine is to win, we should shortly see Ukraine begin to push back the Russians in some areas.

That will to a large extent depend on the supply of Western arms and the training of sufficient numbers of Ukrainian soldiers in their use which will take many weeks.

Today Ukraine will at least feel bolstered by declarations of continued support from the UK and EU.

16th June (day 113)

BBC interview with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. He says, with a straight face, Russia has not invaded Ukraine!

Leaders of France, Germany, and Italy visit Kiev.

The EC recommends Kiev be accepted as a candidate for joining the EU; meeting the requirements will probably take many years, but the news is a boost for Ukraine.

Two US citizens fighting for Ukraine get lost and are captured.

Russians pushing towards Sloviansk; it's not clear whether any progress is being made.

Large Russian ammunition depot in Khrustalnyi, Luhansk region, was reported destroyed.

15th June (day 112)

No entry

14th June (day 111)

A rocket hits a military facility in Russia near the town of Klintsy. Klintsy lies close to both the eastern border of Belarus and the northern border of Ukraine.

The last  bridge from Severodonetsk across the Siversky Donets river is reported to have been destroyed. This will make it difficult for Ukrainian troops to withdraw, but also for the Russians to cross. The Russians could however be planning to encircle Ukrainian forces from the west, for example by moving battle groups south from Izium and north from Popasna.

Click for MilitaryLand Invasion Day 110 Summary

13th June (day 110)

It was reported on Saturday evening cruise missile fired from the Black Sea hit a military depot near the town of Chortkiv in west Ukraine where the Russians claim arms from the west were in transit. 22 people were hospitalised.

Click for France24 report - Russia strikes arms depot west Ukraine as battle for Severodonetsk rages east

12th June (day 109)

It's Sunday and we are reminded to love others as ourselves.

Putin, on the other hand, in the last 100 days has caused the deaths of roughly 50,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, maiming and wounding about 150,000 more; killed and wounded almost as many civilians many of whom are still buried in the rubble of their homes; and caused around 10 million people to be displaced from their homes. Wherever Putin is going it won't be to heaven.

Sadly Jordan Gatley a former British soldier who joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine in March has been killed during the fighting for Severodonetsk.

A huge fire is reported at the Azot Chemical Works in Severodonetsk where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are located.

The BBC reports land-mines are a serious problem for farmers wanting to plough fields and sow crops.

It is rumoured presidents Macron (France), Scholz (Germany) and Draghi (Italy) could visit Kiev before the next G7 meeting in Bavaria on 26th June. Purpose unknown but could be concerning either Ukraine's application to join the EU, the supply of weapons, or to suggest Ukraine cedes territory to Russia in order to end hostilities.

Russia captured Svyatohirsk a few days ago and is rumoured to have crossed the Siverski Donets river with a view to pushing on towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

Ukraine continues counter-attacks in Kherson.

Click for militaryland.net Invasion Day 108 summary

11th June (day 108)

Reports on Twitter increasingly suggest the tide is turning in favour of Russia.

Click for Sky News report by Stuart Ramsay - There's a change of atmosphere in Donbas - a sense that Russia has momentum

10th June (day 107)

Comment

Pundits say the fighting in Severodonetsk is fierce, Russian troops have advanced a short distance around Izium, Ukrainian artillery is outnumbered 10:1 and supplies of Soviet calibre ammunition are almost exhausted.

Russian rocket launchers have been moved into Belarus and Putin's ally Lushenka has Belarus forces exercising near the northern  border of Ukraine.

Within the occupied terroritories of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson Putin is putting in Russian administrations as a first step to incorporating the regions into the Russian Federation.

Added to this Ukrainian troops are tired and suffering extreme casualties, the World's media is turning its attention to other matters and support from some Western governments, for example Hungary and Germany, appears weak.

Without a lot more continued support from the West Putin is going to win this war. The drip feed of arms from its allies seems barely enough for Ukraine to halt the further advance of Russian forces.

There are rumours Russia thinks their Military Operation might be over by Christmas, but the war could go on a lot longer if Ukraine decides to try and push Russia back to its 24th February start line.

9th June (day 106)

Ukraine is just about holding on in the Donbas but the situation is reported to be critical.

Two Britons Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, who were captured by Russian forces while fighting for Ukraine in Mariupol have been sentenced to death, state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti has said. A third POW, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, has also reportedly been sentenced to death.

Click for Sky News report - Two British fighters sentenced to death in separatist area, Russian state media says

This may be a negotiating ploy.

President Zelensky says the fate of Donbas region is being decided in Severodonetsk. This will be partly a call for the West to speed up delivery of MLRS and munitions.

The outcome of the battle for Severodonetsk hangs in the balance. Russia seems to be throwing in all it has, and pundits suggest Ukraine may yet have to withdraw to defend Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

Click for Kiev Independent report - In Severodonetsk, fierce urban battle ongoing to exhaust Russia

Talks between Russia and Turkey about exporting Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea are continuing, but as clearing mines would make it easier for Russia to attack Odessa, and the talks have not included a representative from Ukraine it's hard to see progress being made.

8th June (day 105)

Russian tanks, artillery and lorries being moved by rail from Irkutz to replace losses in Ukraine.

Russian reinforcements gathering at a staging post near town of Valuyki SE of Belgorod.

Missiles fired at Kharkiv from Russia.

There are Russian missile launchers in Belarus, and Belarus forces are exercising near the Ukrainian border. Possibly a diversion.

Russian forces have advanced some miles from Izium, and fierce fighting continues in Severodonetsk where both sides have suffered many casualties.

Putin's aim is now likely to be to annex the Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions and as much of Zaporizhzhia as he can. In the captured territory Russian families are being moved in, Russian currency introduced, the street signs renamed and so on. Russian troops are building defences against counter-attacks. They don't plan on going home. On the other hand partisans are beginning to fight back in the occupied zone.

7th June (day 104)

Fighting continues with no major gains or losses in the last few days.

Sky News reports Ukraine counter-attacking the Russians around Kharkhiv in the north and Kherson in the south, while fierce fighting continues in the city of Severodonetsk where Russia is throwing in everything they have in an attempt to capture the city. President Zelensky says better to fight now than take more casualties trying to recapture the city later.

Click for a map of the approximate situation in Ukraine on 07/06/22

Pundits suggest support from Germany is all talk but little action regarding the supply of heavy weapons - likely for fear of upsetting Putin.

6th June (day 103)

Russians counter-attacking in Severodonetsk; President Zelensky, visiting Lysychansk, says Ukrainian forces are greatly outnumbered.

Third largest grain silo in Ukraine attacked. Russia blocking export of grain through the black sea, and sending it instead to Russia. This may cause famine in third world countries.

5th June (day 102)

Four Russian missiles hit railway wagon repair facility on the west side of the city of Kiev. Possibly another attempt to disrupt the rail network.

Ukraine counter attacks in the city of Severodonetsk.

Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov was reported killed in Mykolaivka near Popasna leading separatist troops.

4th June (day 101)

Ukraine counter offensive in Severodonetsk. About 20% of the city reported to be recaptured.

Journalist Caleb Larson of the New York Sun newspaper talks on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme at 08:36 hours about the situation in Severodonetsk which he had just left. Catch up on BBC Sounds.

Some pundits suggest what Putin wants is not to capture Ukrainian territory but to keep NATO out of Ukraine.

3rd June (day 100)

Russians reported to have captured most of Severodonetsk. MODUK Twitter reports Russia is winning the war in the Donbas. Ukraine complains of not having enough weapons to counter Russian forces.

Russia claims to have shot down a Ukrainian military aircraft carrying western arms near Odessa.

2nd June (day 99)

Railway network attacked near Lviv; no doubt part of Russian plan to slow aid from the West.

Journalist Neil Hauer, who has been providing useful updates on the situation around Severodonetsk from close to the front line for several weeks, has left Ukraine. Today he says he is back home in Yerevan.

It seems likely that in recent days Ukrainian forces have been gradually withdrawing from Severodonetsk across the river Siversky Donets which could form a new front line in the east.

A few miles to the west Russian forces are advancing SW from Staryi Karavan towards Sloviansk.

Russian tactics are now to pound an area with artillery before occupying it which is leading to many Ukrainian casualties.

Troops on both sides are getting very tired.

Found a new website roughly showing front lines:-

www.theukrainemap.com

The UK may send M270 MLRS to Ukraine; no statement of how many or when.

Yesterday two Russian amphibious boats were reported destroyed in the Dnipro-Buh estuary (Kherson area).

Russia still trying to beef up air defences on Snake Island including SA-15 TOR and SA-22 Pantsir systems.

A war of attrition has developed and pundits think it could go on for months.

1st June (day 98)

Russians reported to have infiltrated 70% of the city of Severodonetsk spearheaded by Chechnyan troops.

US agrees to send HIMAR Multiple Launch Rocket Systems MLRS) to Ukraine on condition they are not used to fire into Russia.

A report in the Washington post suggests only four launchers are going to be sent. Assuming they won't all make it to the front line and they will be number one target for Putin, one suspects such a small quantity will make little or no difference.

31st May (day 97)

Ukraine gaining a little ground in Kherson province.

30th May (day 96)

Today

BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen reports Bahkmut is under threat and Russians only 5 miles away.

Many news outlets are reporting that The United States will not send Ukraine rocket systems that can reach into Russia according to President Joe Biden.

For example see this headline in the Daily Mail:-

Biden says the U.S. will NOT be sending Ukraine any missile that can hit Russia after Moscow's ambassador and Putin propagandists said it would be crossing a red line

That's all rather vague but probably means missiles that could reach Moscow if fired from within Ukraine.

It's a strange situation - Russia can fire long range missiles at cities in Ukraine but Ukraine is not allowed to fire back! It's a bit like the US not permitting Bombers from Britain to attack German cities during WWII for fear of upsetting Hitler.

Clearly the Biden administration does not want to overly upset Putin.

Likewise some say Israel will not supply arms to Ukraine for fear of upsetting Russia and the situation in Syria.

On the other hand the BBC is suggesting the US could supply MLRS systems with shorter range projectiles.

Click for BBC report: Ukraine may soon get US long-range MLRS rocket system

What next

Speculation on Twitter, Sky and BBC news suggests the Russians may try to cross river Siversky Donets from Sviatohirsk to Bohorodychne SE of Izium and proceed south towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk on the west side of the river.

The Russians are already in Lyman on the east side of the river and are rumoured to be moving south to Staryi Karavan and Dibrova possibly through or around Ukrainian troops in the National Forest.

They could then move west across the river using the road and rail bridges towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk; possibly linking up with Russian units driving west to Bahkmut from Popasna and then towards Kramatorsk in order to surround the Ukrainian brigades defending Severodonetsk and surrounds.

Ukrainian forces would of course be doing their best to stop them!

29th May (day 95)

Comment

For the past few days the world has been watching the ebb and flow of fighting around Severodonetsk. Reports appear confused by the fog of war. Will this be a turning point for one side or the other or will the bloody stalemate continue for weeks if not months - we'll have to wait a little longer to find out.

Western pundits optimistically think Russia could be running out of its best weapon systems, while Ukraine may soon be supplied with longer range artillery allowing them to attack lines of supply more effectively and possibly dislodge some of Putin's troops..

Ukrainian leaders are concerned that some politicians in France, Italy and the USA are thinking Ukrainian land should be gifted to Putin to stop the war. Also that little support is being provided by Germany, while other European countries are being slow to cut off Russian gas. On the other-hand Ukraine is hoping the USA will provide long range MLRS artillery, which could make a big difference.

Today

This morning the BBC TV Sunday Morning programme on current affairs ran an interview between journalist Clive Myrie and the Russian Ambassador in London.

Click to view: Russian ambassador to the UK interview in full - BBC News

The ambassador said the Russian Federation would not use either strategic or tactical nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war.

This evening Sky News ran a programme; Putin's obsession - The Fight for Ukraine. It says Putin has turned Russia into a Dictatorship and needs Ukraine in his sphere of influence to survive.

Putin appears an existential threat to Ukraine - the West may be getting bored with the war, but it cannot afford to let Putin win.

Around Kramatorsk electricity has been cut off due to a downed power line.

Ukraine rumoured to be counter attacking in the Kherson region and holding up around Severodonetsk.

Do Russians have sufficient capability to push on to Sloviansk or are they running out of steam?

Putin will no doubt want his troops to press on and take as much of Ukraine as possible, if they can.

 

28th May (day 94)

Russians in control of Lyman a key transport hub.

Soon the Ukraine military will need to decide whether to fight the Russians in the city of Severodonetsk or withdraw to fight another day.

The next Russian objectives could be Sloviansk, Bakhmut and Kramatorsk.

27th May (day 93)

Report from Alex Crawford Sky News on the desperate situation in Severodonetsk.

Growing fear and no time to mourn inside the next city in Russia's sights 

26th May (day 92)

No entry

25th May (day 91)

Report from Jeremy Bowen BBC News in Dnipro which sums up situation near Severodonetsk.

Click for BBC report: This is just the beginning, everything is still to come

24th May (day 90)

Russian forces are making progress to encircle Ukrainian defenders near Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. Ukraine appears to be on the backfoot.

Russian forces have pushed forward to the Bakhmut Lysychansk highway, and captured Svitlodarsk, and Lyman.  The village of Vidrodzhennya has been captured. Avdiivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Toretsk, and New York residents are being evacuated to Dnipro. The Azot chemical plant has been shelled in Severodonetsk. Vasylivka NE of Bakhmut is said to be under Russian control. Russia rumoured to be  setting up Iskander missile systems in Belarus and generally strengthening positions.

Russia is bedding in for a long war in Ukraine. Putin hopes to secure and expand his gains in the eastern Donbas region and south.

President Zelensky warns the coming weeks of the war will be difficult.

Alex Crawford bravely reports from Severodonetsk for Sky News.

https://twitter.com/AlexCrawfordSky

 

23rd May (day 89)

According to Sky News the Russians have blown a bridge across the Siversky Donets river across which defenders in Severodonetsk have been receiving supplies. Ukrainian troops may therefore have to leave most of their equipment behind if they are forced to retreat from the city.

Rumours Russian troop are planning to advance on Yampil, then cross the Siversky Donets river to Seversk and join up with troops from Popasna in order to surround Ukrainian forces and capture the remainder of Luhansk province.

22nd May (day 88)

Sunday

President Zelensky says only diplomacy will end the war, but rules out a ceasefire and concessions to Russia. He says there are many Ukrainian casualties in the east; possibly between 50 and 100 dying every day.

Pundits suggest the war could soon deteriorate into long range artillery duels. Russia rumoured to be running out of drones for target spotting.

If the Russians dig in to defend captured territory  they could in turn become easy targets if Ukraine can deploy longer range artillery.

Ukraine claims to have attacked a Russian supply convoy near Komyshuvakha, in the Luhansk region, some 40 kilometres from Severodonetsk.

Russia claims to have hit a supply area containing western weapons in NW Ukraine.

Claims Russia has transported up to 1M Ukrainians to 'camps' in Russia.

More rumours Putin is ill and could be sent to a sanitorium.

21st May (day 87)

Fierce fighting as Russians attempt to capture Severodonetsk.

Mikolayiv continues to be shelled. Much of the population has left as the water supply was cut off weeks ago.

20th May (day 86)

 Russia to cut off gas and electricity supplies to Finland. Supplies to Poland and Bulgaria already cut off.

Lithuania to stop importing Russian gas, oil and electricity.

Ukraine claims to have destroyed Russian armored vehicles attempting to cross the Seversky Donets River near Dronivka to the west of other failed attempts near Belogorovka.

 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.

 

Appendix: Background to the conflict

It's sad that Putin does not love his neighbour as himself, and has chosen to invade Ukraine leading to the deaths of upwards of 100,000 soldiers of the Russian Federation, and perhaps as many Ukrainian soldiers and civilians

Putin's plan A was for a lightning strike to take the capital Kiev and install a puppet government. That failed due to the stubborn resistance of the Ukrainian military who chose to fight, unlike the people of Afghanistan who surrendered to the Taliban. Plan B was to pound towns and cities into rubble in order to break the will of the Ukrainian people.

Plan C is to annex as much of eastern 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 bank of the river Dnieper.

Apart from supplying 'defensive' weapons, NATO has been keen not to get directly involved, and has ruled out boots on the ground and a 'no-fly' zone, in order to avoid WWIII and the possibility of nuclear oblivion.

Whilst there are no NATO Combat Air Patrols enforcing a 'no-fly zone', sorties of Russian fixed wing aircraft and helicopters have been suppressed by short and medium range ground based air defences.

Ukraine continues to seek stronger air defences to counter Russian drone and missile strikes on its cities and power infrastructure.

Iran is supplying large numbers of Shahed drones and could yet supply Putin with missiles.

As the conflict has gone on, and Ukraine has shown it's will and ability to fight, NATO has become bolder and is now said to be quietly supplying arms to Ukraine on a massive scale.

The late arrival of accurate HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems has enabled Ukraine to gradually weaken the stronger Russian Force by destroying railway track, command posts and ammunition stockpiles.

Putin was over-confident and miscalculated the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He assumed Ukraine would crumble in a matter of weeks, just as Hitler's blitzkrieg succeeded in capturing large parts of Europe. He was wrong.

Bogged down in this war Putin has ordered mobilisation of an additional 300,000 troops to replace losses and bolster defences. Rumour has it 150,000 have already been sent to Ukraine and 150,000 are undergoing further training. This should make a difference, despite being poorly equipped and led.

Around Christmas 2022 there are rumours Putin could attempt to call up 500,000 more men to break the deadlock.

Putin has signed documents annexing the captured regions in the east and south of Ukraine into the Russian Federation, and is attempting to Russify the captive population.

Ukraine has pushed back the Russians out of Kharkiv and Kherson (on the west side of the river Dnieper) and is pressing the Russians around Svatove and Kreminna to the north.

The Ukrainian leadership is now intent on pushing the Russian Armed Forces out of all Ukrainian territory including Crimea, but this can only happen with greater support from the West.

Russia on the other hand has been using conscripts to build defences in the remaining occupied regions comprising rows of 'dragon's teeth' concrete blocks, minefields and trenches, signifying Putin has no intention to give land up.

Putin is rumoured to have ordered the taking of the remainder of the Donetsk region which may partly explain attacks on Bakhmut which lies and the main road to Kramatorsk.

Putin shows no sign of offering concessions. There have been at least nine waves of missile attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure causing immense hardship to the civilian population. Russian Armed Forces continue to shell cities, towns, and villages.

It looks  like Putin still wants to capture the whole of Ukraine and absorb it back into the Russian Federation, with a complete disregard for what happens to the Ukrainian people.

Russian troops are training in Belarus, and the Belarus Armed Forces have been mobilised. Recently large numbers of Russian trucks, troops and armoured vehicles have been arriving in Belarus by rail. Now it could be this is either for training, a diversion to attract the Ukraine Armed Forces away from other areas, or it could be Putin plans to launch attacks on Kiev from Belarus and Kharkiv from Belgorod in the Spring.

So far NATO and the US have largely withheld long-range weapons capable of attacking targets in Russia, but there are increasing reports of fires at Russian military related facilities suggesting possible operations by Special Forces.

As of December 2022 both sides think they can win, so the fighting could go on for months or even years until both sides tire, or run out of munitions.

The war can seemingly only be ended by surrender of Ukraine or a negotiated settlement.

 

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

WarMonitor Don't know who he is, but provides regular short reports on progress at the front.

Tim White Journalist monitoring daily events in Ukraine

 

Sitreps on Twitter

These sources provide an insight into what may be going on, adding to the somewhat limited reports from the BBC and Sky News.

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

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

Phillips P OBrien Professor of Strategic Studies, University St Andrew.

Mick Ryan retired Australian military

Ministry of Defence UK

 

Hint: some of the Ukraine war maps on Twitter are too small to read. Came across a tip to right click and open the image in a new tab which makes it bigger; then clicking on the map can make it bigger still. Use scroll bars to move around the map. This works on Windows 10 Desktop PC making some reports more legible.

 

Articles on Substack

Phillips P OBrien, Professor of Strategic Studies, University St Andrew, publishes newsletters on how the war is developing and speculates on what might happen next.

https://phillipspobrien.substack.com/

Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies, King's College, London and his son Sam occasionally write about politics and Ukraine.

https://samf.substack.com/

 

Photos of damaged equipment on Twitter

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 an excellent place to find locations in Ukraine and Russia:

 https://www.bing.com/maps

 

Maps combined with situation reports

Some map resources are linked to situation reports:-

Zoomable maps of Ukraine war by @War_Mapper and hosted by https://soar.earth. Click link to choose from most recent maps:-

https://soar.earth/explore?sort=most-recent

On the MILITARY LAND website homepage you will find links to Invasion Day summaries which have detailed maps that can either be enlarged or viewed through a magnifier feature:-

Click for militaryland.net website homepage

The Institute for the Study of War website carries a more detailed analysis but less detailed maps; daily updates, a useful source.

Click for the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) website

 

News media

Ukraine Government Portal (English)

Ministry of Defence of Ukraine website

Ukrayinski Pravda on-line Newspaper

The Kyiv Independent Newspaper

Defence Industry of Ukraine (War with Russia)

BBC News

Sky News

DAILY KOS hash tag Ukraine stories

Aljazeera Ukraine war news

CNN about Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Fox News about Ukraine

Radio Free Europe website

Washington Post website war in Ukraine section

Foreign Policy website the Ukraine Russia border crisis

Associated Press website Russia Ukraine war

 

The Malvern Hills logo

Back to top

The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own.