War for Ukraine Update 69: Russia Bombards Everything It Can

The Russians spent a good chunk of today just pounding the daylights out of anything they could reach in Ukraine.

I’ll have more on the air strikes after the jump.

First we go to President Zelenskyy’s nightly address. Video, then the jump, then the transcript with my emphasis.

I wish you health, Ukrainians!

Our defenders!

We finally have the result, the first result of our evacuation operation from Azovstal in Mariupol, which we have been organizing for a very long time. It took a lot of effort, long negotiations and various mediations.

Today 156 people arrived in Zaporizhzhia. Women and children. They have been in shelters for more than two months. Just imagine! For example, a child is six months old, two of which are underground, fleeing bombs and shelling. Finally, these people are completely safe. They will get help.

And I am grateful to all those on whom the rescue of these people depended. Who agreed and who helped. I am grateful to everyone who ensured the physical transportation of people through the humanitarian corridor.

Of course, we will continue to do everything to get all our people out of Mariupol and Azovstal. It’s difficult. But we need everyone who stays there: civilians and military. There was not a day when we did not address this issue, when our people did not try to solve this issue.

Yes, we managed to achieve a ceasefire for almost three days in order to make the humanitarian corridor work.

Currently, Russian troops are not adhering to the agreements. They continue massive strikes at Azovstal. They are trying to storm the complex. But I have been told many times that no one can be saved. That it is impossible. And today 156 people are in Zaporizhzhia. This is not a victory yet, but this is already a result. And I believe that there is a chance to save our other people.

Apparently, the Russian military has reacted extremely nervously to our success today. Various Ukrainian cities have once again become targets for Russian missiles and Russian strikes. Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv region, Dnipropetrovsk region, Odesa, Kharkiv region – such a scale of today’s shelling clearly does not indicate that Russia has any special military purpose. Strike at Zakarpattia? What exactly can it give Russia? They are trying to vent their powerlessness. Because they can’t beat Ukraine.

But they can – so far – burn children’s attractions in Gorky Park in Kharkiv or destroy a bridge. Or a grain warehouse or a house with people.

The more such strikes, the farther Russia is from civilization. From what is called civilizedness.

Today we also have another tragic news. A terrible road accident took place in the Rivne region. A bus, a car and a fuel truck collided. As of this time, 17 people died. But there may be more casualties.

My sincere condolences to all those who lost their loved ones. I commissioned to provide all the necessary assistance to the victims.

I am grateful to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the great friend of Ukraine, Boris Johnson, for his support of Ukraine and our defenders. Today Boris addressed our parliament and our people. These were very important words, warm, friendly, powerful. This is a very sincere gesture. I am also grateful to Britain for the new package of support for our country, which the Prime Minister announced today.

I also addressed the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine today. For the first time during a full-scale war. I emphasized the main thing – and the main thing not only for me, but also for the whole of Ukraine. I am sure we must maintain maximum unity. Because our success depends on unity. Not only political success, but also the defense of the state, the strength of our people, our society.

I continued the very useful practice of addressing the parliaments of our partner countries. Today (addressed – ed.) the Parliament and the people of Albania. Thanked for the support, including defensive support. Noted the cordiality with which the people of Albania support our people. Other such addresses are also planned.

I also spoke with representatives of the largest global companies – in the CEO Wall Street Journal club (this is a very influential club. Three trillion dollars is the total turnover of companies whose leaders are in this club). About how to put pressure on Russia to end the war. About how to rebuild Ukraine after the war together. About what the post-war model of the Ukrainian economy can be. I believe that such economic diplomacy is one of our most important tasks.

I spoke today with Polish President Andrzej Duda. I congratulated him and the entire Polish people on the national holiday – the Constitution Day of Poland. We discussed further cooperation, concrete steps and support for our defense.

I informed him about the current situation in the areas of hostilities. About what is happening in Mariupol. About the evacuation of Ukrainians. And about what else we can do together to help protect our state and our common freedom – freedom of Ukrainians and Poles, all Europeans.

Traditionally, before delivering the address, I signed decrees awarding our heroes. 185 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded state awards, two of them posthumously. Two more of our defenders were awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.

Eternal glory to all our heroes!

Eternal memory to everyone who gave life for our state!

Glory to Ukraine!

So we have an update on the evacuees from Mariupol. They got 156 out to safety. The issue now is whether they can get the humanitarian corridor reopened to get more out. As President Zelenskyy said, they are not going to give up trying.

Here’s today’s operational update from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (emphasis mine):

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on May 3, 2022

The sixty-ninths day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.

russian enemy does not stop conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land corridor between these territories and the temporarily occupied Crimea.

In the Slobozhansky direction, russian enemy operates as a group of the 6th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District, and the coastal troops of the Baltic and Northern Fleets. The city of Kharkiv continues to launch air strikes and shell artillery.

In the Izyum direction, the enemy, by forces of separate units of the 1st Tank Army, the 20th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District; The 29th, 35th, and 36th Combined Arms Armies and the 68th Army Corps of the Eastern Military District and Airborne Troops are conducting offensive operations in the direction of Izyum-Barvinkove and they suffers losses.

To support their actions, russian occupiers moved a battery of 240-mm Tulip heavy self-propelled mortars and a unit armed with Tornado multiple rocket launchers from the Belgorod region to the Izyum area.

In the temporarily occupied territories of Kharkiv oblast, russian enemy continues to carry out filtration measures. To do this, it additionally involves units of the Rosguard.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, groups of russian enemy troops, forces of separate units of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps, the 8th and 58th Combined Arms Armies of the Southern Military District; 5th Combined Arms Army and Pacific Fleet of the Eastern Military District; the 2nd and 41st Combined Arms Armies and the 90th Tank Division of the Central Military District and Airborne Forces are conducting offensive operations on a certain section of the line of contact. The occupiers are carrying out air strikes and artillery shelling of our troops’ positions.

russian enemy continues to focus on the offensive in the Lyman, Severodonetsk, Popasnyansk, Avdiivka and Kurakhiv areas in order to take full control of the settlements of Rubizhne, Popasna and develop the offensive in the directions of the Lyman, Siversk and Slovyansk.

In order to improve the system of logistics, russian enemy continues to deploy in certain areas warehouses with ammunition, fuel and oil, as well as organized a point for repair and restoration of damaged equipment.

At the same time, on some borders, russian enemy carries out the equipment of the second line of defense.

In the city of Mariupol, the enemy continues to block units of Ukrainian troops in the area of ​​the Azovstal plant. Carries out fire damage by artillery and tanks on the territory of the metallurgical plant.

In the Tavriya direction, russian enemy continues to conduct demonstrations and manoeuvrers in order to restrain the actions of units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine and prevent their transfer to other directions.

In the South Bug area, russian enemy is fighting with the 8th and 49th Combined Arms Armies, the 22nd Army Corps, the Black Sea Fleet Coast Guard and the Airborne Forces to improve the tactical situation, and continues to fire on units of our troops. russian enemy is regrouping troops, increasing the system of fire destruction, air defence and logistics.

The situation in the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova remains difficult. Units of the operational group of russian troops continue to be in full combat readiness. Armed formations of the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova are serving in an enhanced mode. Preparations are underway for the evacuation of the families of officers of the task force of the russian troops.

In the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions, certain units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to carry out tasks to strengthen the Ukrainian-Belarusian border in the Brest and Gomel regions. In the area of the settlement of Khmelivka, Sumy region, the activities of an enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group were exposed.

Ships of the Black Sea Fleet in the Black and Azov Seas continue to launch missile strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, to isolate the area of hostilities, reconnaissance and fire support in the coastal direction.

Units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine continue to inflict losses on russian enemy. Thus, according to available information, as a result of effective and coordinated actions of defenders of Ukraine, units of the 38th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Armed Forces of the russian federation lost about 60 percent of the dead and wounded.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

I want to take a moment and focus on the following portion of the operational update:

russian enemy does not stop conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land corridor between these territories and the temporarily occupied Crimea.

As we discussed when the Russians were trying to push through to Kyiv, Putin had made Kyiv a center of gravity that he had to take. He had to take it because it is the capitol of Ukraine and he needed it to be able to quickly parade his quislings before the international news media signing authentic looking, but phony documents capitulating and delivering Ukraine to him on a silver platter. And because Kyiv and control over it is central to the alternative history and mythology that he has both bought into and furthered. The good news was he both failed to do so and a large chunk of his forces got chewed up trying to do so.

At the same time, even back in the third week of the war, Putin was also trying to take and hold Mariupol all the way through to Odesa. This was done through bombardment combined with the use of ground forces. What we’ve seen over the past three weeks to a month is Mariupol reduced to rubble, an occupation of and attempt to hold Kherson, attacks on and around Mykolaiv, and on again/off again bombardment of Odesa. While Putin’s focus should be on Ukraine’s army in the east – the Joint Force Operation – he has, instead, created another center of gravity – the coastal strip from Mariupol to Odessa – that he needs to hold (Mariupol west to Kherson) or take (Mykolaiv and Odesa) in order to both established his land bridge/corridor all the way to Transnistria and to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. You can see this on today’s British MOD map below:

Look where the Russian forces are – that’s the salmon colored areas, then look where the contested areas are between Kherson and Mykolaiv, and then the Ukrainian controlled space west to Odesa. The idea here is to both cut Ukraine off from its ports and to control everything from the Russian border through to Crimea and then on to the border with Transnistria/Moldova.

While this does make sense as a strategic objective for Putin’s war aims, even when he was focusing on Kyiv, it has, however, once again created a second center of gravity to occupy his attention and his forces efforts when what they need to actually be doing is consolidating in the spaces from north to east so they can deal with the Joint Force Operation. This should be the Russian’s focus in terms of center of gravity in the east:

 

The fact that Putin has divided his attention and his focus in creating a center of gravity in the south that he doesn’t need to deal with right now provides the Ukrainians with an opportunity. That Russian line is 400 miles long. There are not enough Russian forces to hold it. And there are a lot of very pissed off Ukrainians behind it. That’s an opportunity!

Here’s today’s British MOD update:

There was no DOD background briefing today. Or, if there was, a transcript has not yet been posted.

Here’s more on today’s Russian bombardment. From The Kyiv Independent:

Russia fired a barrage of missiles on several regions across Ukraine on the evening of May 3 as heavy fighting intensifies in the east.

Approximately 18 Russian missiles hit infrastructure sites across the country. Preliminary reports suggest that at least eight other missiles were downed by Ukraine’s Air Defense, the military said.

Several deaths and injuries were reported. Russian forces hit six train stations in central and western Ukraine and caused delays, head of Ukraine’s state-owned railway Ukrzaliznytsia Oleksandr Kamyshin said. Other infrastructure sites such as pumping stations and electric substations also sustained damage.

The targeted regions include westernmost Zakarpattia Oblast, reportedly suffering its first direct Russian attack ever. The regional administration reported that an electrical substation was hit in the town of Volovets.

Zakarpattia Governor Viktor Mykyta said authorities are still clarifying the information regarding injuries and possible victims of the attack.

In neighboring Lviv Oblast, Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said that Russia fired five missiles targeting the region and two of them were shot down by Ukraine’s air defense. He informed residents that a Russian missile strike has damaged three electric substations in Lviv.

As a result, parts of the city of Lviv have been cut off from electricity and water supply, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said. He added that three pumping stations are also without power, and two people suffered shrapnel wounds and were hospitalized. The mayor said workers are restoring the water supply through alternative sources of electricity.

Russia also launched rocket attacks on railway infrastructure in central Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, injuring one person, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. The infrastructure site was badly damaged and the railway has temporarily ceased operations, according to the official.

In central Kirovohrad Oblast, two Russian missiles fired from the direction of the Caspian Sea hit a railway infrastructure in Dolinskaya community, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported. There are deaths and injuries, according to the military’s report.

Three unspecified infrastructure sites were hit in Odesa Oblast, including in the city of Artsyz. Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s air defense downed three other missiles flying toward Odesa Oblast.

Two missiles were shot down over the southwestern city of Vinnytsia, according to Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry. Two blasts heard by local residents were Ukraine’s air defenses, regional governor Serhiy Borzov said.

Gerashchenko also reported that another cruise missile was shot down “on its way to Kyiv.” That could have accounted for the explosion reportedly heard on the night of May 3 in Kyiv.

Ukrainian media reported that at least one blast was heard in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia but there have been no official statements about anything being hit in the city.

Much more at the link!

Lviv:

Also Lviv. From The Washington Post:

LVIV, Ukraine — The adults who approach teenager Anna Melnyk sometimes cry, sometimes yell.

They see “information” on her green vest at the train station in the western city of Lviv and ask questions: How to get to Poland? Where is the bomb shelter? What to do next? Anna’s calm demeanor seems to reassure these new arrivals, displaced by war from besieged cities. They turn to her for a sign that everything is going to be all right.

“Some of them ask my age and when I say, ‘16,’ they’re shocked,” Anna said. “But I don’t feel a difference. I have one mission: to help.”

She looks impossibly small, not just in the cavernous train depot where she volunteers most days, but in all of this — the giant Russian war machine that has swallowed up a generation of young Ukrainians and turned them into grown-ups overnight.

Anna, herself displaced from Kyiv, is undergoing a drastic transformation alongside other Ukrainian teens, who are trading high school concerns for work that will shape the kind of nation they will inherit once the fighting ends.

The country’s youths already have paid a terrible price in this war. Some have been assaulted and killed. Many others have been uprooted from their homes or even spirited across the border as captives. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, father of a teenage girl and a younger son, has said he doesn’t shield his children from the ugliness because he wants them to understand the stakes.

Much more at the link!

Mariupol:

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany had some choice words from Chancellor Scholz:

BERLIN — Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, hit out Tuesday at German Chancellor Olaf Scholz over his criticism of Ukraine.

“This is about the most brutal war of extermination since the Nazi invasion of Ukraine, it is not a kindergarten,” Melnyk said, according to German press agency DPA, in reaction to remarks Scholz made during an interview Monday evening.

In the interview, Scholz said Ukraine’s decision last month not to welcome German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier “stands in the way” of him traveling to Kyiv.

That was not an acceptable way to treat the president of “a country that provides so much military assistance, so much financial assistance, that is needed when it comes to the security guarantees that are important for Ukraine in the future,” Scholz said.

But Melnyk dismissed Scholz’s reasoning. “It doesn’t sound very statesmanlike to behave like an offended liver sausage,” he responded, using a German slang term — beleidigte Leberwurst — for someone who gets offended easily or cannot take a joke.

Melnyk, who became Kyiv’s ambassador to Germany in 2015, has been one of the German government’s most outspoken critics since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The ambassador is a polarizing figure: To some Germans he is a welcome thorn in the flesh of a government they perceive as inert; while others have criticized his frequent attacks on Berlin as undiplomatic and unhelpful.

Your semi daily Patron:

Your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 69: Russia Bombards Everything It Can appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 68: The Evacuation of Mariupol Continues

I apologize for not getting this posted sooner, but something work related came in that put me a wee bit behind. And I also had to walk the dogs. I did that, took care of the work related item, and now I’m doing this. So if you’re unclear on the order: 1) dogs, 2) work, 3) you all. If my mom had needed something she’d have slotted in at #1 with the dogs.

Since I’m behind time wise I’m going to just run down the basics tonight.

Moving on, let’s start, as per tradition, with President Zelenskyy’s address to Ukraine this evening. Video with subtitles below, transcript with my emphases after the jump.

Ukrainians!

Our defenders!

The 68th day of our strong defense is coming to an end. The 68th day of self-destruction of Russia. Self-destruction in every sense of the word. If this country once had what is called a reputation, now Russia does things on a daily basis that simply preclude any adequacy.

Yesterday, for example, Russia’s foreign minister openly and without hesitation said that the biggest anti-Semites were allegedly among the Jews themselves. And that Hitler allegedly had Jewish blood. How could this be said on the eve of the anniversary of the victory over Nazism? These words mean that Russia’s top diplomat is blaming the Jewish people for Nazi crimes. No words.

Of course, there is a big scandal in Israel today as regards these words. However, no one hears objections or excuses from Moscow. There is silence. Hence, they agree with what their foreign minister said. After the Russian missile attack at Babyn Yar in Kyiv, after the Menorah damaged by shelling at the site of the mass executions in Drobytsky Yar near Kharkiv, after the deaths of ordinary people who survived the Nazi occupation and Nazi concentration camps from Russian shelling, such an anti-Semitic thrust by their minister means Russia has forgotten all the lessons of World War II.

Or maybe they never studied those lessons. So the question is will the Israeli ambassador stay in Moscow knowing their new position? Will relations with Russia remain as usual? Because it’s not accidental. The words of the Russian foreign minister – a “great connoisseur of Hitlerism” – are not accidental.

It is no coincidence that the Russian occupiers are creating so-called “filtration camps” on Ukrainian land through which thousands of our Ukrainian citizens are passing. Where our people are killed, tortured and raped. It is no coincidence that the occupiers capture civilians and take them hostage or deport them as free labor.

It is no coincidence that they are waging a so-called total war to destroy all living things, after which only the burned ruins of entire cities and villages remain.

To do this, one must completely reject the moral and achievements of the victors of Nazism. But if such people are in the Russian leadership, it does not mean they can judge others in Europe or in the world according to themselves.

If they send tens of thousands of their citizens to die in a foreign land and do not even take the bodies of those killed from the streets, roads, fields, it does not mean that everyone else is like them.

If there are people among them who come from Ukraine but support the extermination of Ukrainians and everything Ukrainian, it does not mean that everyone else has abandoned normal human morality.

Today, Russian troops launched another missile strike at Odesa. Destroyed the dormitory. A 14-year-old boy was killed. A 17-year-old girl was wounded, she has a shrapnel wound. What is it? For what? What did these children and the dormitory threaten the Russian state with? And that’s how they fight. That’s all.

A gymnasium founded over a hundred years ago burned down in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, due to Russian shelling. It was built by the Belgians for this city. It withstood two world wars. But, as we see, this gymnasium turned out to be a terrible threat to modern Russia.

220 Ukrainian children have been killed by the Russian army since February 24. And we still don’t know about everyone, because we don’t have access to the temporarily occupied areas of our state. 1570 educational institutions were destroyed or damaged by shelling. It’s in a little over two months!

That is why the whole free world united so that no one justifies Nazism, kills children or destroys peaceful cities as Russia does.

Today in Kyiv I met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. We discussed the whole range of issues of our bilateral relations, especially defense, financial and political cooperation. I see progress in implementing the agreements reached during the talks with the Prime Minister of Denmark. I am grateful. I received good signals.

Plans to rebuild Ukraine after the war were also discussed. And support for our movement towards the European Union. I am grateful that Denmark resumes the work of its embassy in our capital. This is already the 29th foreign mission that returned to Ukraine.

We are working on new sanctions against Russia. We expect a new package from the European Union in the near future. This package should include clear steps to block Russia’s energy revenues. We truly believe in this. So that the terrorist state is not given a billion euros a day for fuel.

But it is also worth preparing for the next sanctions steps now. In any case, we will have to block all export-import operations with Russia. Because that’s what they make money on in Moscow. And they do not even understand that international law and peace in Europe must be respected.

We continue to do everything to save our people from Mariupol. The evacuation operation continues. Tomorrow we also expect movement through humanitarian corridors from Berdyansk, Tokmak, Vasylivka.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine heroically repel the occupiers’ attempts to advance. Kharkiv direction, Donbas, the south of the country – everywhere the situation remains extremely difficult. But I am grateful to each and every one of our defenders who are holding the defense.

I have just signed a large decree to award our military. 438 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded state awards.

The title of Hero of Ukraine was awarded to Senior Lieutenant Dmytro Ruslanovych Todorov for his personal courage and extraordinary efficiency in the battles against the occupiers in the Donetsk region.

Eternal glory to everyone who stood up for our state!

Eternal memory to all who died for Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s operational update from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense (emphasis mine):

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on May 2, 2022

The sixty-eights day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.

russian enemy continues to conduct a full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine and is conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land corridor with the temporarily occupied Crimea.

The greatest activity of russian invaders is observed in Slobozhansky and Donetsk directions. In the Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih and Mykolayiv areas, russian enemy regrouped troops, strengthened artillery units and air defense units. It is trying to establish a system of logistical support for the grouping of troops in these areas.

russian enemy continues to prepare reserves in order to further transfer them to operational areas in Ukraine.

russian enemy continues to launch missile and bomb strikes on targets in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

The shelling of the city of Kharkiv continues in the Slobozhansky direction.

In the Izyum direction, russian enemy continues to attack in the directions Izyum-Barvinkovo ​​and Izyum-Slovyansk.

To strengthen the group, russian occupiers moved to certain areas of the units of artillery and jet artillery.

In order to improve the transport infrastructure, russian enemy built a pontoon-bridge crossing over the Siversky Donets River. russian occupiers continue to shell the positions of Ukrainian troops and civilian objects located a short distance from the state border of Ukraine from the territory of the russian federation.

In the Belgorod region, the concentration of russian occupiers’ reserves for fighting in the Eastern Operational Zone continues.

In the Donetsk direction, russian enemy’s main efforts were focused on establishing full control over the settlements of Rubizhne and Popasna and advancing in the directions of the settlements of Lyman and Siversk.

In the Tavriya direction, measures are underway to regroup units and engineering equipment positions. In particular, a barrel artillery unit was deployed at firing positions near the settlement of Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia oblast. russian enemy carried out artillery shelling of the positions of our troops in the area of the settlement of Orikhiv.

In the temporarily occupied territories of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, russian enemy deployed a fuel and oil depot and a point for repairing and repairing damaged equipment.

In the South Buh direction, russian enemy is fighting to improve its tactical position. It does not stop trying to reach the administrative border of the Kherson oblast, it continues to deploy jet and barrel artillery units to fire on the positions of Ukrainian troops.

The transfer of material resources from the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea with the use of Ukraine’s railway infrastructure continues.

In the Bessarabian direction, the situation in the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova remains tense. russian enemy, through controlled media, continues to spread provocative reports about the growing threat to the population of transnistria from Ukraine.

In the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions, the possibility of the enemy’s demonstrative and provocative actions in the areas adjacent to the state border of Ukraine is not ruled out.

The threat of missile strikes on objects on the territory of our state remains.

Measures to strengthen the administrative-police and counter-intelligence regimes continue in the Bryansk region bordering on Ukraine.

In the waters of the Black and Azov Seas, enemy ships are involved in missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine, perform the task of isolating the area of hostilities and conduct reconnaissance.

russian enemy continues to destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. Inflicts rocket and bomb attacks and carries out artillery shelling of residential areas of the city of Mykolayiv, as well as settlements of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.

In the temporarily occupied territories, the russian occupiers are artificially creating and exacerbating humanitarian and economic crises. There is a shortage of medicines in the settlements, the range of grocery stores is limited, and bank institutions do not function.

Ukraine’s Defense Forces inflict losses on russian enemy in all directions and are ready for any changes in the operational situation.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s assessment from Britain’s MOD:

Here’s their updated map:

As you can see there’s not a lot of change from yesterday’s updated map.

I do want to once again focus us all on just how long the Russian lines are. The real problem Putin has is that the line snaking from Izium all the way around to Mykolaiv and Kherson in the south is 400 miles long. He just doesn’t have the personal or equipment to be effective across that distance.

Given this reality, the Ukrainians should adjust to a strategy to just bleed Putin out. They should focus on a combination of pushing the Russians out of areas and reestablishing Ukrainian control wherever possible combined with attrition to eventual complete reduction of Russian forces. This should be paired with a counter-revolutionary warfare strategy – a la Bernard Fall – carried out by Ukrainian special operations and irregular forces behind the Russian lines to terrorize the Russians and Russian capitulating Ukrainians conducting the occupation.

Easy for me to say, I’m safely home on the couch!

There was a DOD background briefing on Ukraine today. Here is the transcript (emphasis mine):

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay, good afternoon, everybody. Happy Monday to you. We’ll get started again, “senior defense official” while on background.

Day 68, we’ve observed now more than 2,125 missile launches since the start of the invasion. Just go through a little bit here. I know all of you are more interested in the operational stuff, so I would just tell you that we continue to see minimal, at best, progress by the Russians in the Donbas. They’ve had some minor gains east of Izyum and Popasna in the Luhansk Oblast. But what we saw there in Popasna is not unlike what we’ve seen in other hamlets in the Donbas. They’ll move in and then declare victory, and then withdraw their troops, only to let the Ukrainians take it back. So there was a lot of back-and-forth over the last couple of days, and again, so I would say minimal progress at best in the Donbas. They are still, for all the lessons they are trying to learn, they’re still suffering from poor command-and-control, low morale in many units, less-than-ideal logistics. They still have not solved all their logistics problem, and quite frankly, there’s a casualty aversion, a risk and casualty aversion that we continue to see by the Russians now, not just in the air, but on the ground. So very, very cautious, very tepid, very uneven work by them on the ground, and in some cases, quite frankly, the best word to describe it would be anemic.

I do want to highlight, if I could, Kharkiv, which we’ve not talked about in a long time. The Ukrainians have maintained, obviously, their dominance of Kharkiv, and the Russians have been basically around the city. We haven’t really talked about it in a while, but it has continued to come under air assault largely through strikes for sure, but the Ukrainians have been doing an able job over the last 24/48 hours of pushing the Russians further away, and they have managed to push the Russians out about 40 kilometers to the east of Kharkiv. They’re pushing them back, so back into areas of the northern Donbas region, but away from Kharkiv, so an incredible effort there that, again, hasn’t gotten a lot of headlines and hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but it’s just another piece of the stiff Ukrainian resistance that they continue to demonstrate.

And again, to remind, Kharkiv’s important to the Russians because it sits at the very northwestern sort of lip and edge of that Donbas region, and as they wanted to, you know, they were obviously hoping to get Kharkiv and hold it so that they could have that ability to continue to push down from the north, and the Ukrainians are making it difficult for them to do that.

No significant, no changes to really talk about in terms of the south, including Mariupol. Mariupol continues to get hit with the standoff air attacks. We continue to see them using dumb bombs in Mariupol, and of course, they’re continuing to launch strikes in the Donbas region, the JFO specifically. So no major changes there.

I can’t speak with great specificity about the evacuation from Mariupol. We see the same reports that you do, and I don’t have I don’t have an update on how fast or how slow. We do have indications that some folks have been evacuated, but I would refer you to the Ukrainians to speak to that with a lot more specificity than we can, and I apologize for that.

No real changes to report to you in the in the maritime domain; pretty much maintain that their surface vessels are staying close to Crimea. There’s some small efforts in the Sea of Azov. We see with small ships to try to help resupply, but nothing that’s different than what we’ve seen in the past, so just not a whole lot to report to. I’ve seen the press reporting about the drone attack on these patrol boats. We cannot confirm that, but we’ve seen the videos, same as you, but we’re not in a position to be able to confirm that that attack actually happened and had those effects.

And I would say the same with General Gerasimov. I’m pretty sure you’re going to ask me about that. What we can confirm is that we know that for several days last week he was in the Donbas. We don’t believe that he’s still there, that he’s left and he’s back in Russia. We can’t confirm reports that he was injured. I’ve seen the speculation on that. We are in no position to confirm that. We can’t refute it, but we certainly can’t confirm it. And as for why he was there, again, I think you’d get a much better sense of what his temporarily duty orders were from President Putin, but it’s certainly possible that his trip was of a manner of oversight in trying to gauge for himself what was going on in the Donbas. But what he came away with, what he learned, what he transmitted to his commanders, if anything, we just don’t know. But we can confirm that he was in the Donbas.

All right, so let me get back to security assistance. I can now confirm that 80 percent of the M777 howitzers have been transferred to the Ukrainian military. That’s 80 percent of the total, the total 90, so more than 70 of them have now been transmitted to Ukraine. As for the 155 ammunition, about half of it, you know, we if it put both PDA-7 and -8 together, you’re up over 140,000 rounds was committed, and about half of that is now in Ukrainian hands, with more coming every single day.

Nearly all of the radars that were committed have been transferred to Ukraine, and as for flights coming in and flights going out, on PDA-8, I can tell you that, over the last 24, there were 13 flights arriving in the region from the United States and, no, I’m sorry, 14 flights, my bad, 14 flights over the last 24, and in the next 24 hours, we are looking at about 11 more flights from CONUS to go into the region. And that’s not all at one location into the region.

And then from other nations, in the last 24 hours, there have been 23 deliveries via airlift from five separate different nations received, again, at locations in the region, outside Ukraine. So 23 deliveries from five separate nations. So that flow is still happening and it’s making a difference.

On the training front, we can now report that more than 170 Ukrainian military soldiers have been trained at more than one location on the M777, and there’s another 50-plus that are scheduled to graduate today. So when they do graduate today, in fact, they may have already graduated today, you know, that puts us up over 200 Ukrainian artillerymen trained on the M777.

And there’s more of that coming. In fact, tomorrow, there’ll be another 50-plus Ukrainians will be arriving at one of the training sites to begin their training later this week. I think I’ll leave it at that.

And just yesterday, 20 Ukrainian soldiers commenced a week-long training course on the Phoenix Ghost UAS. So the training continues and it’s having an impact.

And with that, we’ll take questions. Lita?

Q: Hi. Thanks.

One attempt on the Gerasimov rumblings. Are you able to say whether or not there’s any truth to Ukraine forces trying to hit where he was or hitting where he may have been?

And second, as the diplomats start to move back to Lviv and, potentially in the future, Kyiv, will there be Marines put back in as to as a security detail or will that be handed off to some other force?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, on Gerasimov, I really don’t have anything more, Lita. I’ve given you guys everything that I’m comfortable sharing because of what we just don’t know. So I’d refer you to the Ukrainians to speak to their kinetic activity in the Donbas but I can’t confirm, I can’t confirm any specific strikes that occurred and what the targets were.

On the Marines, look, I mean, the State Department is just beginning, you know, going back to these sort of day trips and there’s no U.S. Marine force protection element to that, there’s no U.S. military force protection element to that.

But as I’ve said before, as we’ve said before, you know, as the State Department makes their plans and makes their decisions about a more permanent footprint, clearly, we will be having active discussions with them about force protection requirements, and then we’ll go from there, but no decisions have been made about a return to U.S. Marine security for the embassy or for our diplomats.

Right now, they’re making these day trips and there’s no U.S. military, there’s just certainly no Marine Corps or U.S. military component to that.

Okay, I think that’s it.

Tom Bowman?

Q: Yeah, the — British intelligence is saying that roughly 25 percent of the Russian BTGs are combat ineffective. Would you guys agree with that estimate, and if not, do you have another number?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I have not seen indications that give us, you know, that specific number, so I can’t speak to the number that the Brits put out there. We assess that they’ve got 93 now total operational BTGs in Ukraine, and as I’ve said before, we have to be mindful of what we say when we say “operational.”

Not all of them are as ready as others. They continue to suffer losses, both in terms of gear and people, and some BTGs are simply not as ready as others. But I can’t corroborate the number of 25 percent ineffective.

I also don’t know by what criteria the Brits are labeling a BTG as ineffective. So I don’t have the metrics they’re using to make that determination. We would assess clearly that not all of those operational BTGs, while operational, i.e. in the fight, are at the same level of combat readiness they were before going into Ukraine and we know that they have suffered losses, you know, since being in Ukraine.

So that’s the best I can do, Tom. It’s an honest answer.

Q: Got it. And as far as any Russian units moving up north from Mariupol or that area, any sense?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We have continued to see them move forces north out of Mariupol but I can’t enumerate that, I don’t know. But we have seen, even over the last couple of days, a continued, you know, move north away from Mariupol, from a lot, I would say the majority of the battalion tactical groups. And they had about a dozen that were dedicated to Mariupol move away.

Largely, the efforts around Mariupol for the Russians are now in the realm of airstrikes.

Q: Okay. And I’m sorry, you said, of the 12, any sense how many moved north, ballpark?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don’t have, I couldn’t give you a number. I don’t have that.

Q: Okay, thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yep.

Pierre?

Q: Following up on the readiness of the Russian forces, if you don’t mind, last time you assessed that they were at 75 percent capacity. Do you still assess the same percentage or they are lower?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, we would say still about 75 percent of their available combat power is still available to them.

Q: Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah.

The rest of the Q&A is at the link!

I want to just take a moment and bring to everyone’s attention the transcript of the address on Russian aggression against Ukraine that US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter delivered to the Permanent Council in Vienna on 28 April (emphasis mine):

The Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador Michael Carpenter
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
April 28, 2022

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As we enter the third month of Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression, Ukraine stands as strong, united, and resolute as ever. The people of Ukraine are continuing to repulse Russia’s barbaric campaign of intimidation and subjugation.  Over the past two months, Ukraine’s courageous defenders have repelled Russia’s vicious attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv and sent Russia’s forces scrambling back over the border.  Russia is failing, and Ukraine is succeeding.  But the human and humanitarian costs of Russia’s assault have been enormous: Bucha, Borodyanka, Mariupol, and Irpin are – tragically – only the first of what are likely to be many municipalities that will one day bear monuments honoring the victims of Russia’s atrocities.

Mr. Chair, the courage and solidarity of the people of Ukraine in resisting Russia’s monstrous aggression continue to inspire the world.  In the face of Ukraine’s determined resistance, Putin’s forces are refocusing their brutal campaign on Ukraine’s south and east.  In its attempt to subjugate these parts of Ukraine’s territory, the Kremlin is working from a well-worn playbook that steals from history’s darkest chapters.

We have information that Russia’s planning for its further invasion of Ukraine includes a forced capitulation of Ukraine’s democratically elected government, including dissolving all local municipal governments in Ukraine.  New governance structures were to be set up in “liberated” territories under Russian control.

Plans for a new government and new constitution are being developed by Russian officials and so-called “separatists.”  This planning includes a moratorium disallowing legitimate Ukrainian leaders and those supporting Ukraine’s legitimate government from any leadership positions.

This is straight out of Russia’s playbook, which has repeatedly exploited phony “electoral” processes with attempts to impose so-called “new realities,” including holding sham referenda in an attempt to lend a semblance of legitimacy to subjugation.  We saw this repeatedly in 2014, as the Kremlin orchestrated so-called referenda in the Ukrainian regions of Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk – each time with faked high percentages of public support.  The reality is that Russia installed puppet regimes dependent on Russian bribes, and orchestrated nebulous “people’s councils” to create phony constitutions – all an attempt to lend an air of legitimacy to the sham. Russia further subjected the local population to intense disinformation portraying the legitimate Ukrainian government as a Western-inspired coup.  All fake.  Yet the danger over time has become clear and is a stark warning for Russia’s intended next steps in any additional Ukrainian territory it forcibly seizes.

Mr. Chair, the Kremlin may now be preparing to stage sham referenda in Ukraine’s south and east – in the areas it has illegally seized since February 24 – again in a futile attempt to legitimize its illegal invasion and assert control over these areas – control resulting from Russia’s brutal use of force against Ukraine.  On Tuesday, Russian forces claimed they had “liberated” the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, and they have now decreed that they will start using the Russian ruble.  Our Ukrainian colleagues have been warning that Russia may soon stage a sham referendum in Kherson, supposedly asking residents if they approved of the “independence” of an entity called “the Kherson People’s Republic.”  Of course, no such entity exists outside of the Kremlin’s web of lies.  And the international community must make clear that any such referendum will never be recognized as legitimate, just as the Ukrainian people have already made clear they will never support this Russian invasion.

Unfortunately, however, such lies have real consequences.  These falsified, illegitimate referenda will undoubtedly be accompanied by a wave of abuses against those who seek to oppose or undermine Moscow’s plans.

We should expect Russia to intensify its ongoing forced transfers of local populations from areas of Ukraine’s south and east to Russia or Russia-controlled parts of the Donbas via so-called “filtration camps.”  We see credible reporting that Russia’s forces are rounding up the local civilian populations in these areas, detaining them in these camps, and brutally interrogating them for any supposed links to the legitimate Ukrainian government or to independent media outlets.  There are alarming reports that those suspected of having such connections are being beaten or tortured before being transferred to the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic,” where they are reportedly disappeared or murdered. Reporting indicates that many civilians in these filtration camps who “pass” the interrogation are transferred to Russia or Russia-controlled Donbas, including via Belarus.  Our information indicates Russia is abducting, torturing, and/or murdering locally elected leaders, journalists, and civil society activists, as well as religious leaders.

The Mariupol mayor’s office reports that four filtration camps are operating in the city.  The accounts of these camps are harrowing.  An escapee from Mariupol described the experience as follows: “The filtration camps are like ghettos,” she said.  “Russians divide people into groups. Those who were suspected of having connections with the Ukrainian army, territorial defense, journalists, workers from the government – it’s very dangerous for them.  They take those people to prisons to Donetsk, torture them.”

Colleagues, what these reports describe brings back horrific memories of a bygone era.  Invading a neighboring country, removing its legitimately elected government, herding its population into “filtration” camps, and holding sham referenda in a transparent attempt to cover its aggression with a false veneer of legitimacy is a wholly barbaric enterprise.

To stop this, we must all act with a greater sense of urgency.  These statements of concern in this Council are necessary but hardly sufficient.  The United States, for its part, is committed to pushing as hard as we can as quickly as we can to get Ukraine the support it needs to defend against this brutal war of aggression.  As Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin told President Zelensky in Kyiv last Sunday, the United States intends to obligate more than $322 million in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine.  This brings the total U.S. security assistance to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s renewed invasion on February 24 to roughly $3.8 billion, or about $60 million per day.

Secretary Austin also announced in Kyiv that the Department of Defense will expand military training for Ukraine’s service-members on certain weapons systems being provided, and he highlighted U.S. efforts to accelerate the delivery of these weapons, which are now arriving within days of announcement.  The United States will continue to coordinate the shipment of additional heavy weaponry, ammunition, and spare parts from other countries – including many of those seated around this table – to Ukraine.  We are returning American diplomats to Ukraine as we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian government and people, and we will work with our Congress as we plan to resume full operations at our Embassy in Kyiv as soon as possible.

Mr. Chair, the famous Russian dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn once said, “Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience, but the conscience of the whole of humanity.”  It is the duty of all of us here today to do everything in our power to ensure that justice prevails, that tyranny is defeated, and that the conscience of humanity is preserved.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I request this statement be attached to the Journal of the Day

Mariupol:

I haven’t seen any numbers reported on how many were evacuated today, I’ll keep looking and hopefully we’ll have some for tomorrow’s update.

This is an excellent article from Peter Pomerantsev, the journalist and documentarian who wrote If Nothing Is True, Everything Is Possible about Putin’s use of propaganda on Russians.

When the Russian army first began shelling Lukashivka, a village in northern Ukraine, dozens of residents fled to the Horbonos family’s cellar. Children, pregnant women, bedridden pensioners, and the Horbonoses themselves headed down below the family’s peach orchard and vegetable patches, and waited. For 10 days, they listened as shells whistled and crashed above several times an hour. The attacks left huge craters in the land, incinerating the Horbonoses’ car and destroying the roof of their house. Finally, on March 9, they heard the sound of heavy weaponry and tanks entering the village: The Russian army had taken Lukashivka.

Soldiers ordered the terrified villagers to the surface, and then threw a grenade into the cellar, targeting any hidden Ukrainian soldiers. The Horbonoses—Irina, 55; Sergey, 59; and their 25-year-old son, Nikita—spent the next night in a neighbor’s cellar, but it was so wet and cold that they returned to theirs. Upon arrival, they found five Russian soldiers living inside.

“Where are we meant to live?” Irina asked. “This is our home.” The soldiers told the Horbonos family that they could return home—they could all live there together. And so the Horbonoses moved back in.

They would spend about three weeks with those five Russian soldiers, eating together, walking together, talking together. The Russian soldiers would make nonsensical declarations about their mission and ask alarmingly basic questions about Ukraine, yet also offer insights into their motivations and their morale; the Horbonoses would push back on their claims, angrily scream at them, and also drink with them, using that measure of trust to prod at the soldiers’ confidence in Vladimir Putin’s war.

Over the course of those several weeks, a period the Horbonoses recounted to me аnd my colleague Andrii Bashtovyi, the cellar in Lukashivka became a microcosm of the war’s propaganda front. On one side were the Russians, who repeated a litany of falsehoods they had been told about their assault; on the other, the Ukrainians, wondering how their home could be decimated by aggressors driven by a fiction.

Yet after meeting with the Horbonoses and, in the same week, with their nation’s leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky, I was struck by how clearly the family’s experience also informs a question haunting the many politicians, officials, journalists, and activists in Ukraine and abroad desperately trying to bring this war to a close: How do you persuade Russians who have been fed an unending series of lies to drop their support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?

At first, the Horbonoses were too scared to talk to their Russian housemates. The soldiers, for their part, always clung to their guns. They rarely left the cellar unless called to duty, fearful, like their hosts, of the artillery barrages overhead as the Ukrainian and Russian armies battled for the area surrounding the nearby city of Chernihiv.

After several days of this, however, the two groups began to get to know each other, initially discussing what felt like neutral subjects, such as food, and popular Ukrainian recipes. The Horbonos family learned that the five soldiers were military mechanics. Among them was a captain, the youngest of the group at 31. Three others were in their 40s—two had served in Syria; one’s face had been burned when a vehicle he was in detonated a mine on the way to Lukashivka, and he would curse as he rubbed his face with ointment. All four of them were from Siberia. The fifth was also in his 40s, a Tatar, an ethnic group with its own large republic in central Russia. The others found his incessant singing of Tatar tunes annoying, and would tease him for his apparent cowardice, because he always seemed to be the first to scamper into the cellar when artillery barrages began.

At first, the captain fervently repeated Kremlin propaganda: He and his compatriots were in Ukraine to rescue the Horbonoses, he said; the soldiers were fighting not Ukrainians but Americans; this wasn’t a war, but rather a “special operation.” Once it was over, they could all live happily under Putin’s rule, he said.

Irina would push back. She didn’t need rescuing, she would say. There were no American soldiers or bases in Lukashivka, or anywhere in Ukraine. She didn’t want to live under Putin. When the captain said that he had been told Ukrainians were barred from speaking Russian, she told him they could speak in any language they chose. (I spoke with the Horbonoses in Russian.)

Gradually, he was worn down, confronted not simply with Irina’s protestations but with the grim facts of the war. In the conflict’s early days, he was buoyant, believing conquest to be imminent. He would rush into the cellar, declaring, “Kyiv is surrounded! Chernihiv is about to fall!” But as the weeks went by, and neither Kyiv nor Chernihiv fell, his mood soured. At one point, Sergey told me, he had to show the captain where Kyiv was on a map, leaving the Russian surprised to learn that it was not anywhere nearby, as he had assumed, but nearly 100 miles away.

The other soldiers were less fervent than their captain. Two retreated into cynicism, unwilling to trust reports or information from either Russians or Ukrainians. The one whose face was burnt was as fervently anti-Putin as the captain was pro-. He openly cursed the president, calling him a goat. He had never voted for Putin’s party.

Gradually, a kind of trust was built. One night, a drunk Russian sergeant major roamed Lukashivka, wearing a leather coat and a U.S.S.R. pin, threatening to kill local residents as revenge for the soldiers he’d lost. He was too drunk to make good on his threat, but the incident was not an isolated one: Younger soldiers were drinking and getting high, shouting at the Ukrainians that they all needed to be “punished.” The Horbonoses rarely ventured beyond their orchard. They felt safer in their cellar, with their five soldiers.

When the Russians would leave the cellar for a drink or a smoke, they would invite Sergey to join them. The group would dilute raw spirits with a little water, and Sergey would roll up tobacco with newspaper pages. Their conversations became more reflective. “What are you doing here?” Sergey would ask. “What’s the point of this war?” Despondently, the Russians would answer that they had come expecting not a fight but a celebration. They had come, one said, “for a victory march in Kyiv.”

Much, much more at the link, but I want to bring this section to everyone’s attention:

Russia is in an “informational bunker,” Zelensky told us, one that is psychological as much technological.

“Russians,” Zelensky explained to us, “are afraid to admit guilt. How do you work with that? They have to learn to accept the truth.” He described three steps necessary for this: changing the information environment; a political elite that admits culpability for aggression; and finally, ordinary people taking on responsibility themselves.

If you substitute Republicans and American conservatives for Russians in President Zelenskyy’s formulation you get right to the core of America’s political, social, and religious problems.

Here’s a really interesting thread on Russian tank battalion battle groups. The author embedded his slides, which are all great visual aids, throughout the thread. So you’ll just have to click over and read through it:

There was a massive explosion at the Perm munitions plant in Russia today.

Ain’t that a shame…

We finally have new bayraktar footage!!!!

To celebrate here’s your semi daily bayraktar!

Your semi daily Patron:

The Ukrainian in the tweet above the painting reads:

Dog Patron performed by Belarusian artist Olga Yakubovskaya. How are you? I think it turned out great)

Here’s the link to Ms Yakuboskaya’s Instagram page.

We have a Ukrainian cat rescue, which I’m sure would make Patron happy!

And here’s a video about Ukrainian pet rescue:

Your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 68: The Evacuation of Mariupol Continues appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 67: 100 People Were Evacuated From Mariupol Today

We begin tonight with President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier this evening. The transcript is after the jump (emphasis mine).

Ukrainians!

Our defenders!

Today we finally managed to start the evacuation of people from Azovstal. After many weeks of negotiations, after many attempts, different meetings, people, calls, countries, proposals. Finally! There was not a single day when we did not try to find a solution that would save our people.

Today, for the first time in all the days of the war, this vital corridor has started working. For the first time there were two days of real ceasefire on this territory. More than a hundred civilians have already been evacuated – women and children first of all. Who were fleeing hostilities there. At Azovstal. 

Given all the complexities of the process, the first evacuees will arrive in Zaporizhzhia tomorrow morning. Hopefully this doesn’t fail. Our team will meet them there. I hope that tomorrow all the necessary conditions will be met to continue the evacuation of people from Mariupol. We plan to start at 8 am.

I am also grateful to all those who participated in the preparation of the rescue of people and who ensure this humanitarian corridor. I am grateful to everyone who held negotiations. To Iryna Vereshchuk as the coordinator of this process.

I am grateful to our intelligence. Our team – David, Andriy. And also to the partners who joined and managed to help. In particular, from the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

We will continue to do everything to evacuate our people from Azovstal, from Mariupol in general. The organization of such humanitarian corridors is one of the elements of the ongoing negotiation process. It is very complex. But no matter how difficult it was, more than 350,000 people were rescued from the areas of hostilities.

I discussed key issues of assistance to our state with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi who visited Kyiv together with a US Congress delegation.

We are grateful to all partners who convey such important and powerful signals of support for Ukraine to the world and to Russia by visiting our capital in these conditions and at such a difficult time.

Mrs. Pelosi and I had four hours of very substantive negotiations, as they say, multifaceted. In particular, on defense supplies, macro-financial assistance, sanctions policy, political cooperation with the United States.

I thanked for the revival of the historic Lend-Lease program, which once helped protect freedom in Europe and can certainly do so a second time. We discussed specific areas – how Lend-Lease can work to strengthen our state as much as possible and help in the struggle for freedom.

I also thanked for the preparation of a large package of aid to Ukraine worth 33 billion US dollars.

We discussed how we can strengthen sanctions on Russia in a way that most effectively encourages it to end the war and limits Russia’s ability to circumvent existing and future sanctions. I felt the support of our initiatives.

I awarded Mrs. Pelosi with the Order of Princess Olga for her significant personal contribution to strengthening our cooperation and sincere participation in the defense of freedom.

Today, Russian troops continued to strike at the territory of our state. The targets they choose prove once again that the war against Ukraine is a war of extermination for the Russian army. They targeted the warehouses of agricultural enterprises. The grain warehouse was destroyed. The warehouse with fertilizers was also shelled. They continued shelling of residential neighborhoods in the Kharkiv region, Donbas, etc.

They are accumulating forces in the south of the country to try to attack our cities and communities in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

What could be Russia’s strategic success in this war? Honestly, I do not know. The ruined lives of people and the burned or stolen property will give nothing to Russia. It will only increase the toxicity of the Russian state and the number of those in the world who will work to isolate Russia.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond to all the attacks of the invaders. And they will continue to respond until the occupiers leave our land.

I am grateful to all our defenders. To everyone who has been defending the state since February 24 and since 2014.

In just 67 days of the full-scale war, 143 our warriors have already been awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. More than 10,600 defenders have been awarded state awards of Ukraine.

Eternal glory to all who stood up for the state!

Eternal memory to all who gave life for Ukraine! Thank you.

Glory to Ukraine!

We’ll have more on the evacuations from Mariupol a little further down in the post.

Here’s today’s operational update from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (emphasis mine):

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 06.00 on May 1, 2022

The sixty-seventh day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.

russian enemy continues to conduct full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine and offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone.

To increase the pace of the offensive operation, the command of the armed forces of the russian federation continues to take measures to strengthen the strike potential of its troops. Weapons and military equipment removed from storage in the Western, Central, Eastern Military Districts and the Northern Fleet are transferred to the border areas with Ukraine by rail.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, russian enemy did not take active action. There have been no significant changes in the situation in these areas.

Certain units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to cover the border in Brest and Gomel regions.

There is a threat that the enemy will launch missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine from the territory of the republic of belarus, as well as provocations by the enemy on the specified section of the state border of Ukraine.

In the Siversky direction, russian enemy units fired on the positions of our troops from the territory of the Bryansk region.

In the Slobozhansky direction, russian enemy group continues to carry out air strikes and artillery fire on Kharkiv. The occupiers are conducting offensive operations in the directions of Izium – Barvinkove and Izium – Slovyansk. The enemy’s strike group continues to strengthen. Up to 300 weapons and military equipment were transferred to certain areas, and about a thousand mobilized persons arrived from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

In order to cover the advancing air forces in four designated areas, the enemy deployed two anti-aircraft missile divisions armed with Buk-M2 (SA-17 “Grizzly”) and Tor-M (SA-15 “Gauntlet”).

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, groups of russian enemy troops are conducting active operations along the entire section of the line of contact. The enemy is trying to carry out air strikes and artillery fire on the positions of our troops.

In the Lyman direction, russian enemy is advancing in the direction of Krymka and Oleksandrivka.

In the Popasna direction, russian occupiers are carrying out assault operations in the direction of Novotoshkivske – Orikhove and they are fixed on the reached borders. In order to prevent the maneuver of Ukrainian forces and means, they are blocking them in certain areas.

In the Kurakhiv direction, with the support of artillery, russian enemy is trying to break through the defenses of our units in the direction of Olenivka – Novomykhailivka.

In the South Buh direction, the enemy is fighting to reach the administrative borders of the Kherson oblast and create favorable conditions for the attack on the cities of Mykolayiv and Kryvyi Rih.

The previous day, the air defence units hit nine air targets: two Su-25 aircraft and seven UAVs.

In the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts only, nine enemy attacks have been repulsed in the past 24 hours, eight tanks, one artillery system, twenty-four units of armored combat vehicles, one special vehicle and five vehicles (including two tankers) have been destroyed.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s assessment from the British MOD:

And here’s their updated map:

You can see that there is not a lot of change since yesterday. Something I want to point out, just to make sure we’re all aware of it, is that the line that Russia is attacking along, which snakes around eastern and southern Ukraine starting where the Eastern Military District (MD) box is north of Izium all the way down to Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south is about 400 miles long. That is a lot of geography to cover with the troops that Russia has available. In reality it is too much to cover. They are, at best, stretched thin. Which is to Ukraine’s advantage.

There was no DOD background briefing today. Or if there was one, they haven’t posted a transcript yet.

Mariupol:

The reporting is that the Russians bombarded the Azovstal complex, again, overnight. So the Mariupolians are not out of the woods.

From what I can tell the plan is to get as many out for as many days as they can keep the evacuation corridor open until the Azovstal complex is emptied and everyone sheltering in it is temporarily relocated to Zaporizhzhia before being relocated to more permanent housing. If they can get at least a hundred out a day, like they did today, they should be able to have everyone evacuated in nine more days.

Here’s OCHA’s statement on the evacuation:

Keep good thoughts!!!!

At the same time, Russian forces are still doing their best to reduce Mariupol:

Here’s reporting by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) regarding the Russian filtration (processing) camps in and around Mariupol:

Maria Vdovychenko says she’ll never forget the conversation she overheard before being screened by Russian soldiers as she and her family were fleeing the siege of Mariupol.

“What did you do with people who didn’t pass the filtration?” one of the soldiers asked.

“Shot 10 and stopped counting — not interested,” came the reply.

Traveling with her mother and younger sister, the 17-year-old Vdovychenko and her father were two of an estimated 30,000 Ukrainians so far to undergo “filtration,” Moscow’s alleged campaign to catch and punish perceived enemies or others deemed somehow unreliable from among the war’s refugees.

Accusations have followed that Ukrainians ensnared in the occupation forces’ vetting are being killed or “disappeared,” or forcibly deported to Siberia and other Russian destinations, in the latest indication of possible war crimes by Russia in the 9-week-old offensive.

Moscow has denied committing atrocities and routinely blames Ukrainian forces for civilian deaths and other abuses in a war that Russian censorship prohibits from being described as a “war” at all.

‘My Legs Started To Tremble’

Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of transporting hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered Ukrainian cities, taking their documents, and putting them in so-called “filtration” camps, before moving them to Russia.

Vdovychenko told Current Time that her family’s experience was not of any kind of filtration “settlement” but a bottleneck to screen families like hers.

Her family had waited two days and nights in their car to leave Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of Azov, which local officials now say has been essentially “razed” by weeks of bombardment and its remaining occupants deprived of electricity, gas, and water.

“There was a column of hundreds of cars,” Vdovychenko said. “You can’t even use a toilet. Your legs are swollen. Your whole body hurts.”

Her mother and her 12-year-old sister were both spared the filtration, even though the Russians had made it known that anyone 14 or over would be screened.

She said she had steeled herself for a “very difficult” ordeal but was terrified to find herself alone in a room with five armed men, while her father was undergoing his own interrogation, which included a beating.

She was fingerprinted, her documents scanned, and her smartphone scoured for signs of disloyalty to the forces currently occupying wide swaths of her homeland.

Then, when it seemed to be nearly over, one of the men appeared to allude to rape, which Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other groups say has become a feature of Europe’s biggest military invasion since World War II.

“My legs started to tremble when a soldier who was lying on a mattress said: ‘Don’t you like her? There will be more women later. We’ll find something,'” Vdovychenko said. “They didn’t like me, and they just kicked me out.”

She said she wasn’t allowed to wait with her father, who was bullied and beaten and at one point asked by an interrogator: “How about we cut off your ear?”

He didn’t know how the interview ended, Vdovychenko said, since he said he was struck in the head and only regained consciousness on the pavement outside.

More than two dozen checkpoints later, with no more “filtration” along the way, she and her family eventually reached territory controlled by the Ukrainian government.

“Even the sky was different there. It was clean. There was none of that dust that’s kicked up and hangs in the air from the explosions. We started to hope that we can settle our lives. We deserve it, after all those horrors. We really wanted to live.”

Much more at the link!

I’m not really sure where this happened in Ukraine, but another Russian war crime. And an especially despicable and disgusting one:

I’ve seen more reporting, now from legitimate sources, that the Ukrainian attack at the forward command post near Izium killed another Russian general – the guy in charge of electronic warfare – and wounded General Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian general staff (equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). However, those sources can’t fully confirm the reports. So this most likely happened, but other than noting what I’ve just noted, that’s all I’ve got on it. For now. Until we get actual confirmation. Rather than sort of confirmation.

Everyone clear?

If you’re interested, here’s video of the Ukrainian strike on that Russian forward command post:

Here’s an interesting thread by retired Royal Air Force Air Marshal Stringer. The rest of the thread follows the initial tweet in a quote box to keep Twitter’s code from breaking the site. He quote tweets several other threads and articles. I’ve been able to copy and past the links to some, but not all, so click across to get the full experience.

  • The FT published a ‘long read’ that demonstrates such thinking, citing “western officials” who reveal that Russia will get its act together militarily when it fights “as they were trained to fight”. This is a heuristic response. So can Russia do that? 2/15
  • It is increasingly difficult to see Russia being able to mobilise a large reserve much within a year. So its troops in the Donbas are what it has. (There are lessons here for general assumptions on generating mass: if even Russia cannot…) 3/15
  • Most estimates place >80K RUS troops in BTGs against >40K UKR in good defensive positions. This is not a good ratio for any attacking force – even with firepower. But can it ‘fight like its doctrine’ under its new, centralised commander: Dvornikov? 4/15
  • My own experience makes me sceptical that he & it can. 5Eyes Generals will admit only the US Army can train effectively at Corps or Army level – and it is complicated, hard, and needs repeated exercising to master. Mark Hertling gives a flavour: 5/15
  • Also, Dvornikov will need to build a C2 apparatus for his new, huge, command. How will he fuse the previous regional C2? Will he take the southern command and expand it to sit above, or build anew? How will he train the staff for it? 6/15
  • And that decades old, corrupt & bankrupt RUS military culture is not going to change overnight. Yes, the Darwinian instinct will teach the BTGs how to be less vulnerable, but don’t expect great flourishes of manouevre warfare. 7/15
  • And then there is the logistics. Fast armoured warfare relies on equal dash from the loggies. We just don’t see it. And every mile further into UKR territory is another vulnerability from extension, and exposure to a hostile pop’n. 8/15
  • Russia is caught between needing a lightning offensive campaign to achieve a bold victory, and not being able or capable enough to risk its remaining force in such a move. It has neither the assumed mass of the East nor the skill of the West. 9/15
  • So when you see maps with dramatic, pincing arrows suggesting RUS’ next move, think on what each of those easy to draw symbols means in all-arms manoeuvre, logistic support, and then holding the territory taken. 10/15
  • UKR must work out how much ground it is willing to trade while writing down RUS through attrition. Some assess UKR now has more tanks. But it needs more long-range artillery, and a CONOPs for going on the offensive eventually with smaller numbers. 11/15
  • Which is why the Biden administrations announcement of $33Bn is so significant. It has bought time for UKR to work out what its modern CONOPs and theory of victory looks like, as long as it can contain current RUS pressure. 12/15
  • Two things remain. The threat of nuclear weapons should retain its awe. But proper statecraft can manage this as long as NATO does not get directly involved, ie the escalation remains sub-strategic. See
  • And to best do that NATO must ensure it does not get directly involved, where a route to an existential rationale for RUS is easier to draw. Our rhetoric on these two points needs to be careful and deliberate. 14/15
  • But my overall conclusion has not changed. There is no room for complacency, but a well-sustained UKR can prevail and defeat the invasion of its territory. It is in everyone’s interests that it does, and the US has just put down a big bet. 15/15

Last week the Ukrainian news outlets reported on the death in combat of a Ukrainian fighter pilot. He was shot down by the Russians. I didn’t include it in an update, because while sad, it wasn’t that major an event except to his family. Since then several news outlets, including The Times of London, have since reported that the Russians have shot down and killed The Ghost of Kyiv. This got so out of hand that the Ukrainian MOD had to issue a statement:

 

As much as we all like a good story, especially when the underdog in the story is punching well above their weight class, we also all know there is no Ghost of Kyiv. It’s a popular myth/legend meant to help inspire the Ukrainian people in their defense. So just so we’re all clear: the Russians did not shoot down and kill The Ghost of Kyiv, because there is no actual Ghost of Kyiv. Just a lot of Ukrainian aviators doing everything they can to defend Ukraine and their fellow Ukrainians against Putin’s reinvasion.

Belgorod appears to be exploding again!

Last night in the comments someone, and I apologize for not remembering who, asked about the ethnic make up of the Russian army. Fortunately, Julia Ioffe covered this in an interview she did with Olga Mutovina for Puck News about a week or so ago:

Julia Ioffe: Why are there so many residents of Buryatia among the dead in Ukraine?

Olga Mutovina: Buryatia is one of the poorest regions of Russia. There isn’t a lot of work, there isn’t much industry, and the men mostly go elsewhere to work for stints—on oil rigs, in gold mines, some kind of extractive work. Or they can become contract soldiers. For young men, it provides some social mobility in a context where there’s nowhere to work and not much in the way of higher education. We spoke to some families of soldiers who had been killed and they told us that this wasn’t these soldiers’ first war. Many of them had already fought in Syria and, in 2014, Ukraine.

Unlike [the neighboring] Irkutsk Oblast, which has oil and gas and lots of industry, Buryatia is a deeply [federally] subsidized region and so the amount of money that the region gets [from Moscow] is connected to how loyal its residents are, how they vote in elections, so people here mostly support the government. There isn’t much of a protest movement here.

The Buryat men who become contract soldiers are mostly from poor, rural families. We’ve spoken to many relatives who said that if there had been good work for their men, maybe they wouldn’t have signed up. Some of them come back from mandatory military service, try to establish themselves in civilian life, and then realize that they could earn a lot more in the army and they go back.

We spoke to one family [of a soldier who was killed in Ukraine] who said that he loved sports and working with children. He wanted to become a coach. But his salary was 7,000 rubles [$86] a month. He had a family to support: by the time he was killed, he had five children.

Much, much, much more at the link!

Your semi daily, seems like daily at this point, but eventually I’ll run out of new video…, Patron!

Your semi daily Chef Jose Andres (same dynamic as with Patron):

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 67: 100 People Were Evacuated From Mariupol Today appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 66: The Face of War

(The Face of War by Daria Marchenko)

Commenter Jay sent me the image and suggested it for tonight’s post. Ms. Marchenko created it back in 2015 after Putin’s initial invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the details on it from the Australian Broadcasting Company aka ABC:

A young Ukrainian artist has captured global media attention by creating a striking portrait of Russian president Vladimir Putin out of 5,000 bullet shells collected in the separatist east.

Daria Marchenko’s The Face of War – a realistic and politically tinged depiction of Mr Putin in a dark suit and red tie – stands more than two metres tall and dominates the artist’s studio apartment.

“Sleeping in the same room with him was a bit scary at first. But I got used to it,” the 33-year-old artist and graphic designer said.

The 62-year-old Russian leader’s face changes expression under different light, his deep-set eyes turning from gloomy to more light-hearted.

Marchenko – her own right eyebrow pierced and fingers weighed down by heavy metal rings – demonstrates by drawing the window curtains and shining a hand-held lamp around her work.

“He can be proud, confused or serious,” she said.

“He can look like a person on a Soviet poster or he can be Superman.”

Her story has been covered by Britain’s top media outlets and major European and Australian papers and television channels.

But the artist has received barely a mention in Russia – Ukraine’s giant neighbour where Mr Putin’s approval rating is huge and denial of any involvement in the 16-month conflict is ever-present in the state-dominated media.

Only Russia’s popular Moskovsky Komsomolets broadsheet broke ranks by devoting a two-sentence paragraph to Marchenko’s work last month.

Marchenko has not concealed her deep-seated suspicion Putin personally instigated a conflict that has killed nearly 7,000 people since breaking out after Kiev’s ouster of a Kremlin-backed president.

“When people see his expression change, it reveals certain things,” she said.

“To me, this war is different from all others because it is built on a lie”.

Buckets and wooden crates filled with bullet cases occupy the centre of the artist’s small room.

Her first handful of shells came from her boyfriend, an active member of the Euromaidan movement that toppled the corruption-stained and deeply unpopular president Viktor Yanukovych and forced him into self-imposed Russian exile.

But her art supplies now come from friends fighting across the war zone in eastern Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

Much more at the link.

Here’s today’s address by President Zelenskyy. Transcript after the jump.

Unbreakable people of the bravest country!

Today we marked the Border Guard Day. It is clear that there can be no celebrations during the war. But it is necessary to support Ukrainian men and women who defend the state in the ranks of the Border Guard Service.

Since the first days of the war – and not only since February 24, but also since 2014 – border guards have been bravely defending Ukraine. They fulfill combat missions. They were the first to face the Russian invaders at the state border. They are under daily shelling. They are fighting side by side with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with our National Guard, with the National Police, with the territorial defense and all those who stood up for our state.

In particular, they are fighting in Mariupol, heroically defending our city. 340 border guards – our heroes. I talked to them today. Congratulated them. Thanked them.

I am grateful to everyone whose professional day was today. I had the honor to present state awards to border guards who distinguished themselves in the battles for our state.

The occupiers are accumulating additional forces for new attacks against our military in the east of the country. They built up reinforcements in the Kharkiv region, trying to increase pressure in Donbas. They have already lost more than 23,000 soldiers in the battles of this senseless war for Russia. But they do not stop.

We know that the Russian command is preparing for new big losses.

In those units, the personnel of which was almost completely destroyed or significantly weakened in March-April, new people are being recruited. With little motivation. With little combat experience. They just want to get the right amount. So that they can throw these units into the offensive.

The Russian command is well aware that thousands more Russian soldiers will be killed and thousands more will be wounded in the coming weeks.

But why do the Russian soldiers themselves need this? Why do their families need this? Russian commanders lie to their soldiers saying they will face some serious responsibility for refusing to fight. And at the same time they do not tell, for example, about the preparation by the Russian army of additional refrigerators for storing corpses. They do not tell what new “planned” losses the generals expect.

Every Russian soldier can still save his life. You’d better survive in Russia than die on our land.

Our defenders have already destroyed more than a thousand Russian tanks. Almost two hundred Russian aircraft. Almost two and a half thousand armored fighting vehicles. Of course, the occupiers still have equipment in stock. Yes, they still have missiles to strike at our territory. But this war has already weakened Russia so much that they have to plan even fewer military equipment for the parade in Moscow.

We are actively communicating with partners to enhance sanctions on Russia. For Mariupol, for all the destroyed cities and communities of Ukraine, for war crimes against our people. For missile and air strikes at the territory of Ukraine.

Today the occupiers again fired missiles at the Dnipropetrovsk region and Odesa. Again and again, Russian troops prove that the people of Odesa are the same enemies for Russia as all other Ukrainians. The runway of the Odesa airport was destroyed. We will, of course, rebuild it. But Odesa will never forget such a Russian attitude towards it.

We expect a decision on oil restrictions against Russia in the near future. We insist that a fair part of sanctions against Russian oil should be the blocking of any attempts by Russia to circumvent restrictions through the sale of so-called oil blends. If any company or state helps Russia trade oil, it must also face sanctions. Any sponsorship in the interests of the Russian military terrorist machine must end.

I spoke today with President of France Emmanuel Macron. On various areas of cooperation between Ukraine and France, especially on defense. Also – on cooperation on Ukraine’s path to the European Union. We are moving towards the political formalization of what is already a fact: Ukraine has become an integral part of a united Europe.

I also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On defense support for Ukraine and other efforts necessary to end the war.

I informed Boris about the current situation on the battlefield in the areas of active clashes and in detail about the situation in our east, in Mariupol, in the south of the country.

All the leaders of the free world know what Russia has done to Mariupol. And Russia will not go unpunished for this.

Many of the leaders are trying to help save our heroic defenders of the city. This was discussed in great detail with the UN Secretary-General during his visit to Kyiv. We are doing everything to ensure that the evacuation mission from Mariupol is carried out.

I held talks with President of Switzerland Cassis. Thanked for the humanitarian support of Ukraine and Ukrainians. The mediating role of Switzerland in helping Ukrainians who found themselves in Russia was discussed. Preparations for the conference on postwar reconstruction of our state were also discussed.

We are doing everything to return normal life to the de-occupied part of our Ukraine. The work of humanitarian offices has already begun in 93% of de-occupied settlements.

We are actively demining the liberated territory. Every day several dozen settlements are added to the list of those where demining has been completed. 69% of de-occupied settlements are again with full-fledged local self-government. We are restoring electricity supply, communications, water supply and gas supply. We are doing everything to return normal medicine, educational services, access to financial institutions. We are restoring roads.

Of course, there is still a lot of work ahead. The occupiers are still on our land and still do not recognize the apparent failure of their so-called operation. We still need to fight and direct all efforts to drive the occupiers out. And we will do it. Ukraine will be free.

Kherson, Nova Kakhovka, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Dniprorudne and all other temporarily occupied cities and communities in which the occupiers are now pretending to be “masters” will be liberated.

The Ukrainian flag will return wherever it should be by right. Return with a normal life, which Russia is simply unable to provide even on its own territory.

I signed a decree on awarding our defenders – warriors of the National Guard of Ukraine. 133 national guards were awarded state awards, 11 of them posthumously.

Eternal memory to all who died for Ukraine!

Eternal glory to everyone who stood up for the state!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s operational update from Ukraine’s MOD:

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 30, 2022

The sixty-sixth day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.

russian enemy continues to conduct full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine and offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone.

In the Slobozhansky direction, a group of russian enemy troops continues to launch air strikes and artillery shelling on the city of Kharkiv.

In the Izium direction, russian occupiers, with the help of independent units of the 1st Tank Army and the 20th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, the 35th Combined Arms Army and the 68th Army Corps of the Eastern Military District, and airborne troops are trying to advance in the direction Izium – Barvinkove and Izium – Slovyansk.

russian enemy continues to concentrate forces and resources both in the temporarily occupied territories of the Kharkiv oblast and in the Belgorod region, in the immediate vicinity of the state border of Ukraine. Thus, the occupiers moved units of the 55th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District to the Volokhiv Yar settlement, and units of the 5th Independent Tank Brigade of the 36th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District to Izyum.

russian enemy is increasing the air defense system, conducting air reconnaissance of the positions of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the use of UAVs in the settlements of Velyka Komyshuvakha, Ivanivka, Chervone, Kurulka, Dovhenke, Nova Dmytrivka and Barvinkove.

russian occupation forces continue to carry out illegal actions in the occupied territories of Kharkiv region. According to available information, russian enemy is forcibly deporting the population to the territory of the russian federation. russian occupiers are spreading misinformation about the capture of Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia.

In the Donetsk direction, russian enemy is conducting active hostilities along almost the entire line of contact. Air strikes and artillery shelling of Ukrainian defenders’ positions continue.

The main efforts of the enemy are focused on offensive operations in the Lyman, Severodonetsk, Popasna and Kurakhiv areas in order to take full control of the settlements of Rubizhne, Popasna and, probably, further attack on the Lyman, Slovyansk and Barvinkove.

In the Mariupol direction, russian enemy continued to launch air strikes on the city of Mariupol. The main efforts are focused on blocking units of the Defence Forces in the area of ​​the Azovstal plant.

In the Zaporizhzhia direction, russian enemy regrouped and increased artillery units in order to continue the offensive.

In the Tavriya direction, russian enemy continues to demonstrative actions in order to prevent the transfer of units of Ukrainian troops to other areas, replenishes stocks of ammunition and fuel and lubricants.

In the South Buh direction, russian occupiers forces of the 8th and 49th Combined Arms Armies, the 22nd Army Corps, the coastal units of the Black Sea Fleet of the Southern Military District and airborne troops are fighting to improve their tactical position. The enemy continues to regroup units, take measures to replenish supplies.

Preparatory measures of the enemy to carry out the offensive and reach the administrative border of the Kherson region are underway.

In the Mykolayiv direction russian enemy continues attempts of fire destruction of positions of our troops.

In the Bessarabian direction, russian occupiers are spreading misinformation about the threat to the population of the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova from Ukraine.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to perform tasks to strengthen the section of the Ukrainian-belarusian border in the Brest and Gomel regions.

It is possible that russian enemy will provoke in the border areas.

russian enemy remains in danger of launching missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. According to the available information, the russian mobile short range ballistic missile systems Iskander-M are still deployed in the territory of the republic of belarus, and some aviation units of the russian Air Force continue to be based at certain airfields.

In the Siversky direction, russian enemy continues artillery shelling of units of our troops and infrastructure in the border areas of Ukraine with the russian federation.

russian occupiers are launching missile and bomb attacks and carrying out artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure and residential areas in the settlements of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.

russian enemy also continues to illegally detain Ukrainian citizens and tortures and torments them.

As a result of the offensive of the Ukrainian Defence Forces in the Kharkiv oblast, control over the settlements of Verkhnya Rohanka, Ruska Lozova, Slobidske and Prilesne was restored.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

We’ll get to Mariupol below, but the good news in today’s Ukrainian MOD update is they’ve reestablished control over five towns north of Kharkiv. This pushes the Russians even farther back and away from the city.

Here’s today’s updated assessment from the British MOD:

And here’s the British MOD map for today.

You can still see that the contested area between Izium and Luhanks is getting smaller.

There is no DOD backgrounder for today.

Mariupol:

The Russians heavily bombarded the Azovstal facility over the past 24 hours. It’s defenders and those they’re defending are in serious jeopardy!

Yesterday The NY Times published an in depth piece of reporting on those defending Mariupol from the Azovstal complex and those seeking shelter with them:

The footage shows a child wearing a makeshift diaper crafted out of tape and plastic bags, asleep in a dank and moldy room. An elderly woman with a bandaged head is seen dressed in a uniform jacket, once worn by steel plant workers, as she shakes uncontrollably. And small children make plaintive requests. “We want to go home,” a girl says. “We want to see the sunshine.”

These scenes are from videos shared online in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military, which says they were taken in the mazelike bunkers beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. Russian soldiers control the rest of the city, and fighting continues around the plant. The plant has become the last refuge for thousands of trapped Ukrainian fighters and civilians. There is no escape, and little chance of rescue.

The independent journalists who chronicled the siege of Mariupol for Western news media left a month and a half ago because the security risks were too great. The warring parties have stepped in to fill the vacuum of firsthand coverage, sharing content from the ground and, in Azov’s case, pleading for help to their hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

With almost no cellphone service, electricity or access to the internet, Azov’s videos provide what could be some of the only glimpses into life at the steel plant.

Early Thursday, Azov fighters said Russian forces had bombed a field hospital within the plant, reportedly killing wounded soldiers and burying people in the rubble. Reports of the attack prompted renewed calls from Ukrainian officials and the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, for a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians.

Supplies within the plant are said to be running extremely low. “It is not a matter of days, it’s a matter of hours,” Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko, told a news conference on Friday.

“If Mariupol is hell, Azovstal is worse.”

Russia views capturing the port city as crucial to its aim of securing a land bridge along Ukraine’s south to connect Crimea to the Donbas, and its forces have been shelling the plant relentlessly. The devastation there — city officials have said that tens of thousands of residents have been killed — stands as one of the largest humanitarian crises of the war.

“We are filming these videos to draw attention to the fact that they are at the plant, so that the enemy does not say there are no civilians here,” Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment based at the factory, told The New York Times in a text message.

“So that they can be evacuated.”

The Times could not independently verify the exact location of the videos, but the interiors appear consistent with the design of the plant, and a former employee familiar with the premises confirmed that the images seemed to have been created there.

Since April 18, Azov has released several videos that focus on civilians who say they are trapped at the plant, and feature mostly women and children. “I want everyone who sees this video to help us create this green corridor, to help us leave here,” said one mother holding her toddler in a video released on April 24, when Ukraine was observing Orthodox Easter. “Safely. Alive. The civilians and the soldiers.”

Much more at the link!

Ukrayinska Pravda has the details on the Russian war crime that Ukrainian Member of Parliament Sovsun has tweeted:

WARNING! Sensitive content.

The mother of a Ukrainian military prisoner in Mariupol named Dan received a photo of her dead son on the morning of April 30.

Source: mother of the soldier in a comment to “Ukrainska Pravda”

Details: The mother said that Dan was surrounded by the Russians on 19-20 April and had appeared in a video made by Russian propagandists.

On the morning of April 30, she was sent a photo in which she recognized her son.

I watched the video so you don’t have to. I’m not posting it.

If the Ukrainian military cannot find a way to break the Russian siege of Mariupol, its defenders and those they are defending are going to give, as Abraham Lincoln once described it, the last full measure.

Odesa:

Lviv:

Someone at the coffee shop is unimpressed!

Jolie is a UN envoy regarding refugees.

Pretty much everywhere in Ukraine:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has published a report on the sabotage campaign within Russia:

Early in the morning on April 27, a drone crashed in a muddy field southwest of the Russian city of Kursk, around 100 kilometers northeast of the border with Ukraine. Locals tracked down the destroyed device not long after, and posted photographs to Telegram and other social media.

The device appeared to be a Bayraktar TB2, a versatile Turkish-designed unmanned aerial vehicle capable of long-distance surveillance as well as dropping guided bombs or firing anti-tank missiles.

It wasn’t the Russians who were flying the drone.

And that wasn’t the only unusual thing that happened in that part of Russia that same morning: There were also two unexplained explosions at Russian military and industrial sites — one in Kursk and one near Voronezh, not far to the east.

Nor does it appear to have been Russians who flew low-altitude attack helicopters in the pre-dawn hours of April 1 around the time that a fuel depot exploded less than 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Since February 24, Russian forces have laid waste to towns and cities in northern, eastern, and southern Ukraine, killing thousands of civilians and forcing millions to flee in a war that prompted the West to punish Moscow with sanctions and send massive supplies of military aid and support to Kyiv.

Ukrainian forces thwarted an offensive aimed at taking Kyiv in the war’s early weeks, prompting Russian troops to withdraw from close to the capital. Much of the fighting is now focused on the region known as the Donbas and other areas in the east and south.

Away from the active battlefronts within Ukraine, though, there’s a less bloody, less prominent front in the two-month-old war, a shadow campaign that has included attacks on military and industrial targets in Russia itself.

It’s not clear how many incidents have occurred, or whether they resulted from air strikes, or missiles, or sabotage. An unofficial tally by RFE/RL, based on open-source reporting, counts at least a dozen since the war’s beginning.

The preponderance of evidence points directly at Ukraine, but the attacks have gone largely unheralded by Kyiv.

They’ve also been played down by Russia — for reasons that, analysts said, include embarrassment that its formidable military is unable to protect the country from being attacked from a foreign location.

Some of the incidents may also have a more mundane explanation, said William Alberque, director of strategy, technology, and arms control at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies: negligence or corruption in Russia and its armed forces.

“On the one hand, you have to understand that Russia is moving ammunition at scale, so accidents are going to happen,” Alberque told RFE/RL. “But once you get over, what, 22 accidents in 60 days? Then you are also going to be looking at enemy action.”

“Some of it is bravery, some of it is incompetence, some of it is Russian corruption, but let’s not get bogged down in the details,” he said. “The larger picture is that this is incredibly poor Russian planning, incredibly poor Russian execution; they’ve allowed infiltration of their airspace, and by missiles.”

Much more at the link!

Last night in comments commenter Cameron asked if I’d seen a couple of articles/columns/opinion pieces and asked what I thought and if they were legit. I tracked them both back to their sources. The first tracks back to Max Blumenthal’s anti-American agitprop website. You had to read really carefully at the bottom of the post to find that out. Then at Blumenthal’s site you had to expend a lot of work to find the about page that tells you whose site it is. These are themselves red flags. The fact that it was originally published by Blumenthal’s site tells me its agitprop. The second site doesn’t even have an about page, is named for the guy who owns/runs it, but does have a list of regular contributors. One of them is an American “comedian” who was a regular on RT until it was shut down.

Let’s leave it there for tonight.

Your semi daily Patron:

Your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 66: The Face of War appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 65: Mariupol Is Still Being Defended

 

(Image found here)

It’s been a long week, I’m fried, so tonight’s update is just going to be pretty basic.

Let’s start with President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier this evening. As always the transcript follows the jump (emphasis mine).

Unbreakable people of the bravest country!

The 65th day of our defense is coming to an end. We are beating the occupiers in all directions where they are trying to advance.

The situation in the Kharkiv region is tough. But our military, our intelligence, have important tactical success.

In Donbas, the occupiers are doing everything to destroy any life in this area. Constant brutal bombings, constant Russian strikes at infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to make this area uninhabited. Therefore, the defense of our land, the protection of our people is literally a struggle for life. For Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Popasna, Kramatorsk, Slovyansk, Marinka and all other cities and communities of Donbas, which Russian troops want to turn into ruins, absolutely everything is being decided in this war.

Only if Ukraine withstands will they live. If the Russian invaders succeed in realizing their plans, at least in part, they will still have enough artillery and aircraft to destroy the entire Donbas. Just as they destroyed Mariupol.

The city, which was one of the most developed in the region, is simply a Russian concentration camp in the middle of ruins. And the order of the occupiers in that part of Mariupol which they unfortunately still control differs insignificantly from what the Nazis did in the occupied territory of Eastern Europe.

But the Russian troops manage to be even more cynical than the Nazis 80 years ago. At that time, the invaders did not say that it was the Mariupol residents and the defenders of the city who shelled and killed themselves.

I am grateful to the United States, President Biden and Congress for an analogue of the famous Lend-Lease program, which will be very helpful in the fight against Russia, against the Russian invaders. Which helped a lot in the fight against the Nazis during World War II.

I am sure that now the Lend-Lease will help Ukraine and the whole free world beat the ideological successors of the Nazis, who started a war against us on our land. Lend-Lease and other programs in support of Ukraine are concrete proof that freedom is still able to defend itself against tyranny.

Today, the Government of Ukraine considered the issue of eliminating the deficit in the fuel market. Queues and rising prices at gas stations are seen in many regions of our country. The occupiers are deliberately destroying the infrastructure for the production, supply and storage of fuel. Russia has also blocked our ports, so there are no immediate solutions to replenish the deficit. But government officials promise that within a week, maximum two, a system of fuel supply to Ukraine will be provided that will be able to prevent a deficit.

This is a difficult task after the Russian missile strike at the Kremenchuk refinery. But government officials along with fuel suppliers, traders and networks must fulfill this task no matter how difficult it may be. I’m sure they will. We must take from the European Union as much fuel as our citizens need now.

Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Ukraine Melinda Simmons returned to Kyiv today.

Currently, 27 foreign diplomatic missions operate in the capital of our country. And this is an extremely important gesture of support for Ukraine, for which we are grateful to all of them.

Such gestures, together with strong defensive, financial and political support from the free world, mean that the need to end the war is becoming more and more obvious to Russia. The defeat of the occupiers is unalterable.

In the temporarily occupied areas of the Kherson region, collaborators say that they are allegedly preparing for the transition to the “ruble zone”. Any attempt to transfer our territory to Russia’s administrative, monetary, or any other system will mean only one thing: Russia itself will suffer from that. Our responses, sanctions and other reactions of the free world to Russia’s aggressive actions will not be delayed.

The dismantlement of debris in Kyiv, where Russian missiles hit yesterday during the visit of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, continues. Unfortunately, such a deliberate and brutal humiliation of the United Nations by Russia was left without a powerful response.

Today it became known that a journalist, an employee of Radio Liberty Vera Hyrych was killed by a Russian missile hitting a residential building in Kyiv. She became the 23rd media representative whose life was cut short as a result of the Russian invasion since February 24. My condolences to all relatives and friends. Eternal memory to all the victims of this war!

Today in the White Hall of Heroes of Ukraine in the Mariyinsky Palace, I presented awards to our defenders and members of the families of fallen warriors. The Order of the Golden Star was awarded to the Heroes of Ukraine: Lieutenant Colonel Serhiy Burkovsky, Captain Vitaliy Hural, Senior Lieutenant Dmytro Dozirchy, Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Zuhravy, Colonel Dmytro Kashchenko, Major Oleksandr Kukurba, Captain Oleh Pasichnyk, Lieutenant Colonel Vyacheslav Tsyhankov, Colonel of the Medical Service Oleksandr Sliesarenko, Lieutenant Colonel Leonid Khoda, Colonel Denys Chayuk and Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev.

Also, three servicemen were posthumously awarded the Order of the Golden Star. I had the honor to hand them over to the relatives of our heroes – Sergeant Volodymyr Balyuk, Master Sergeant Oleksandr Tsyupak, Major Pavlo Sbytov.

It is thanks to our heroes, thanks to all those who stood up for our state, that we can live, can be with our families in our homes.

Glory to all our heroes!

Glory to Ukraine!

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 29, 2022

The sixty-fifth day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues. A russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

russian enemy continues to carry out offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to defeat the Joint Forces, establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land route with the occupied Crimea.

In the Volyn and Polissya areas, certain units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to carry out tasks to strengthen the section of the Ukrainian-belarusian border in the Brest and Gomel regions. An inspection of the readiness of the aviation component of the regular forces and means of the air defense system of the republic of belarus was noted.

The threat of missile and bomb strikes on the objects of Ukraine from the territory of the republic of belarus remains.

In the Siversky direction, russian enemy, by keeping the appropriate set of troops, is trying to prevent the movement of reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the Siversky direction to the Eastern Operational Zone. In the areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions bordering Ukraine, russian enemy deployed part of the units to restore combat capability.

In the future, it is possible that the enemy will demonstrate and provoke in the areas adjacent to the state border of Ukraine. In particular, there is a possibility of shelling of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine and infrastructure in the border areas.

In the Slobozhansky direction, russian enemy group of the 6th Combined Arms Army, the coastal troops of the Baltic and Northern Fleets is focusing on maintaining positions in the area north and southeast of Kharkiv, trying to deploy additional artillery units.

In the Izium direction, russian enemy is operating with units of the 1st Tank Army, the 20th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, the 35th Combined Arms Army, the 68th Army Corps of the Eastern Military District and the Airborne Troops. The russian enemy’s main efforts are focused on conducting reconnaissance and inflicting fire damage on units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

To ensure additional transfer of troops in the Izyum direction, russian occupiers provide additional pontoon-bridge crossings across the Siversky Donets River.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, enemy units are trying to launch an offensive in the Lyman, Severodonetsk, and Popasna directions. russian enemy continues to try to establish full control over the settlements of Rubizhne and Popasna and is preparing to advance on Severodonetsk. russian enemy continues artillery shelling of our troops.

In the Kurakhiv direction, the occupiers’ groups were reinforced by additional artillery units from the 1st Army Corps.

In the Mariupol direction, russian enemy continued to launch air strikes on Mariupol. It focused its main efforts on blocking the units of Ukrainian troops in the area of ​​the Azovstal plant, and also transferred some units from the Mariupol to the Kurakhiv direction.

russian enemy continues to launch air and missile strikes to destroy civilian infrastructure and disrupt the logistics of our troops. In order to clarify the position of the units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, russian enemy conducted air reconnaissance using the Orlan-10 UAV. It continues to lose this reconnaissance equipment.

In the South Buh and Bessarabian directions, russian enemy is trying to fight with the available forces in order to improve its tactical position. Continues to regroup, increases the system of fire damage, improves the engineering equipment of positions.

As part of the increase in the system of logistics of the troops, russian occupiers deployed assembly points for damaged vehicles and points for repair and restoration of equipment.

In the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, russian federation continues to disseminate information through pro-kremlin media about the threat to the population of the region from Ukraine. In particular, there are reports of another case of Ukrainian UAVs being used over ammunition depots.

Defenders of Ukraine hold certain defensive lines, destroy the enemy, continue to move deep into the occupied territories and liberate settlements.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s updated assessment from the British Ministry of Defense.

And here’s their map for today:

As you can see there is even less contested space in that horse shoe shaped area between Izium and Luhansk than there was yesterday.

Here’s the transcript from today’s background briefing by the DOD (emphasis mine):

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay, good morning, everybody. Thanks for hanging in with me and happy Friday to you all.

We’ll — we’ll go through some operational stuff first — not a whole lot of changes — and then I’ll — I’ll shift from that to — to the security assistance and — and the training piece. Again, not a whole lot of updates from yesterday, and then we’ll get to your questions.

So here we are on day 64. We’ve observed more than 1,950, now, missile launches. I would tell you that the — the — the preponderance of strikes still are in the JFO and Mariupol, and I would add that in Mariupol, what we’re seeing, a predominance of the ordinance being dropped is dumb ordinance, not precision-guided, and — and we think that that speaks to challenges that the Russians are having with PGM replenishment.

We have also observed, as you guys have all seen, you know, some increasing strike activities in central Ukraine, including Kyiv, as — as well as Western Ukraine, including Odesa and the Odesa area. Again, I — I want to be careful here. We — we don’t have perfect visibility into Russian targeting and — and the Russian mindset as to everything they’re doing. But in general, what we think they’re trying to do is get at the ability of the Ukrainians to — to replenish their own stores and to reinforce themselves.

So for instance, we’re seeing at — at least attempted attacks on — on electrical power facilities, perhaps because the Russians believe if they can knock out some electricity, they can affect the ability of trains, for instance, to move. So it — it’s — it’s not a perfect picture. For instance, in Kyiv, some of the strikes in Kyiv we believe were meant for — for military production capabilities. Now, I know that there’s reports that they hit residential areas. We have no reason to doubt that they did, but we don’t believe at 100 percent certain that they meant to hit residential areas. In other words, they could have been misses.

The — the strikes around Odesa are a little bit more difficult to discern exactly what they’re doing there. We still don’t see any — any amphibious move on Odesa, or any ground move on Odesa. Again, it could be of a piece — could be of a piece of their efforts to try to pin down Ukrainian forces in the area between Odesa and Mykolaiv so that they can’t come to the assistance of their colleagues further in the east in the Donbas area. We — we’re not 100 percent sure. I don’t want to own their thought process; I’m just trying to give you what we — what we kind of think.

Now, in the Donbas area, again, still fighting over in — in various different locations. We believe that essentially what they’re doing is — is continuing to set conditions for a sustained and larger and longer offensive; that I am not suggesting that offensive hasn’t begun. Of course, they’ve begun. There is fighting there. But we still think that it is of a piece of their trying to set the proper conditions for — for sustained offensive operations.

They have made some — the Russians now have made some incremental, uneven and slow advances to the southeast and southwest of Izyum. They appear to be advancing toward towards Sloviansk and a place called Barvinkoe. They continue to use — and this is, again, we’ve talked about this before, given what we expected them to do in the Donbas and — and the importance of long-range fires, but what we see them doing is using artillery and some airstrikes in advance of their ground movements. And so their ground movements are fairly plodding because A, the artillery and airstrikes that they are launching against Ukrainian positions are not having the effect that they want them to have. The Ukrainians are still able to resist a number — and — and B, they’re still a little wary of getting out ahead of their supply lines. They don’t want to make the same mistakes that they’ve made in Kyiv, and so we think they’re — they’re making this sort of plodding, uneven progress, but it is very doctrinal in its approach: launch airstrikes, artillery strikes in advance of — of ground movements, and then only — only then, when you think you’ve softened up the Ukrainian lines do you start to move your ground units. But they’re running straight into stiff Ukrainian resistance. So that’s why we think this progress has been slow and uneven still over the last 24 hours.

We also assess that because of this slow and uneven progress, again, without perfect knowledge of every aspect of the Russian plan, we do believe and assess that they are behind schedule in what they were trying to accomplish in the Donbas. We still believe that — that they want to — that — that they want to press the Ukrainians from three — from three directions: from the east, where they already have Russian forces in the — the — the eastern part of the Donbas region and have had for eight years; from the north, we just talked about that coming out of Izyum; and then from the south coming out of Mariupol. I do not have today a — a number of how many troops have left Mariupol and are moving north. I — I know I’m going to get asked that question. I’m trying to get ahead of you here. I don’t have that number, but we still assess that they are moving forces, trying to move north out of Mariupol and so that they can approach the Ukrainian Armed Forces from that southerly direction. But again, we would assess that their progress in doing so has been slow and uneven, and certainly not decisive in any — in any event.

Today, we believe that they — they still have 92 operational BTGs in Ukraine, but that doesn’t mean, as I said yesterday, that these are all — BTGs are full-up rounds. Yes, they’re operational. They’re capable of — of conducting combat operations, but as I said yesterday, we believe they have suffered attrition. They have suffered losses. Not all these BTGs are — are at 100 percent capability, and we also assess that part of this is not — is — is obviously, the — the fighting that’s going on, but also because, you know, they — they were fairly rushed in reinforcing some of these units into the east. You know, we — we talked a couple of weeks ago about how they are moving troops out of Kyiv and Chernihiv and — and they were to move them to the east to Velykyi and to Belgorod and refit them and resupply them. And that happened, but it happened at a fairly clipped — a fairly-fast clip, and — and so we don’t assess that every BTG that was put back in was put back in even at full strength. So just something to — to note.

They, again, they’re trying to overcome, you know, some of those challenges they had. We’ve said that before, but it is absolutely not clear that they have solved all their problems, and so we would not assess that — that they — that they — that they have everything in place that they need to be fully-successful. That’s it. Of course, they have a numeric advantage and they are concentrating more force in a smaller geographic area, so we have to take that into account. And again, the Ukrainians are putting up a strong resistance throughout the — throughout the area.

There’s absolutely nothing to update in the maritime environment. I’m not even going to go through all the details with you, cause there’s really nothing changed from yesterday. So I’m not going to waste your time with that.

And on security assistance, still a — still a little bit more than 60 percent now of the howitzers have transferred to — into Ukrainian military hands. That’s not a change from yesterday, it’s about 60 percent, but there’s been no numeric changes from yesterday.

Let’s see. Got about — you know, the — the — the 155 artillery rounds continue to — to flow into Ukraine, even over the last 24 hours, and more and more are getting into the region for further shipment into Ukraine, but that — that — they are arriving in there.

In the next 24 hours, more than a dozen flights are expected from the continental United States and — and that will include howitzers, more 155 rounds, some of those Phoenix Ghost UAVs, and — and even some of the radars that we talked about. So the — that’s on PDA-8, and like I said, more than a dozen flights expected in the next 24 hours.

In — let’s see — see if I can find anything else interesting in here. I would say in the last 24 hour, there have been almost 20 deliveries via airlift from seven different nations that have been received in the region at multiple locations, with — with everything from mines to — to small caliber rounds and rockets, 122 millimeter rockets, helmets, body armor, 155 — I’m sorry, that’s from the United States — but so lots of things coming in from other nations as well.

On the training side, we’ve got that second class of more than 50 Ukrainian military. They’re — they’re now, I think, in day three of their training outside Ukraine. There’s additional howitzer training for more additional Ukrainians, almost 100 more getting howitzer training at — at a different location outside Ukraine.

The — there are about 15 Ukrainians that are now in day two of a week-long course on the Q-64, and about 60 of them are — commenced training yesterday. As I said on the M113, that — that’ll be broken up, that’s a the five day thing. You’ve got about three days that are dedicated to maintaining that — that piece of gear and two days dedicated to learning how to drive it. So that’s about a five day thing and it began yesterday.

And I think I’ll stop there and we’ll take questions. Let’s see. Lita, you’re on.

Q: Hi, thanks. One quick question on the American who was apparently killed in Ukraine, Joseph Cancel Willy (sic) — or Willy Joseph. Do you have anything more on him or — and I know you had very little visibility into Americans that may have gone over there to fight but is — is there anything you are gleaning on — on that?

And then just a broader question on the training, is the U.S. helping to facilitate the movement of the Ukrainian soldiers to training? And just give us a — sort of a — a better picture of — I know you don’t want to say where it’s happening but sort of how this is being sort of constructed?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, so on the — on the — on the individual killed, Lita, we don’t have any information on — on him, we — we — we just don’t. We have — we have no way of tracking individual Americans that decide to — to go fight in Ukraine.

I — let me just say what I — you know, our — our — our thoughts and — and — and prayers go out to his family. We understand from press reporting that — you know, that he — that he was married and — and had a — a — a young child, and that’s — that’s just horrible — horrible news for any family to get. And — and the — and the Department of Defense sends its deepest condolences to all his family and — and loved ones.

We — we continue to urge Americans not to go to Ukraine. It is an active war zone. This is not the place and it’s not the time for Americans to travel to Ukraine, no matter how altruistic they may be. Now, what we would encourage Americans to do is contribute to any number of non-governmental and non-profit organizations that are trying to contribute to humanitarian assistance there — Red Cross is a great example. If you want to help Ukraine as a private citizen, that’s the best way to do that.

On your other question, without getting into too many specific details — and I’m not going to if pressed — I’m just not going to go there, guys — but yes, we have, in — in many cases, helped with the transportation of Ukrainian soldiers to training sites, not helping them get out of Ukraine.

So I do not want to leave you with the impression that we’re going into Ukraine and we’re flying — we’re transporting Ukrainian soldiers out of the country. That is not happening. But once they are out of the country, in the past, in certain circumstances, we have helped get them to their training locations and we will assist in — in getting them from those training locations back to a position where they can reenter Ukraine.

We are not — not transporting soldiers from inside Ukraine out of Ukraine. We — as the President said, there’s not going to be any U.S. forces fighting in Ukraine, and so we are not — we are not participating in that, but we are helping with their — with — with some of the transportation to get them to — to training locations.

But again, let me just stress, that transportation starts and ends outside of Ukraine. Does that answer your question?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. Okay, Phil Stewart?

Q: Hey. There was a German magazine report saying that U.S. special forces were inside Ukraine training Ukrainians on urban warfare techniques. Just double-checking, are there any — has there been any change to the disposition, the idea that U.S. forces are allowed or not allowed to go into Ukraine to do training?

Thanks.

(AUDIO GAP)

Q: We can’t hear anything, by the way.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Can you guys hear me now?

Q: Now we can.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Hello?

(CROSSTALK)

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: — what the hell happened there. Phil, did you get my answer?

Q: No, no, no, no. I thought maybe the question was, like, you know, a — a shocker and the systems went down.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, it wasn’t a shocker. I guess the system screwed up. What I was saying is there are no U.S. forces training in Ukraine.

Q: Thanks so much.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay. Eric Schmitt?

Q: Two questions. You said in your introductory comments that the Russians are behind schedule in what they’re trying to achieve in the Donbas. How far behind schedule are they, in your estimate? And what had the Pentagon — what have they thought they would have been able to achieve by this point? Then I’ve got a — one more question.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I’d say, just in general, we’d assess, cause it’s different on every line of — of approach, Eric, but I think you’re — be fine if you said that we believe they’re at least several days behind where they wanted to be. But again, it varies on the line, whether it’s from the north or the south.

And we — we believe that they — they — they meant to be much further along, in terms of a total encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the east, and they have not been able to link north with south. In fact, they’re nowhere close to linking north with south as the Ukrainians continue to fight back.

Much more of the Q&A at the link!

For those wondering, this is the Marine vet who was killed fighting in Ukraine:

So several interesting bits of information in the DOD backgrounder today. I think the most interesting for me is the assessment that the Russians aren’t moving quickly because they aren’t able to in the east and, as a result are behind what the US has assessed as the Russian’s timetable or schedule for conducting the Donbas campaign. This last answer in the Q&A I highlighted is to me the real key takeaway: the Russians are nowhere close to actually encircling the Ukrainian Joint Force Operation. That is very good news!

Another oil depot went up in flames in Russia early in the morning:

Such a shame…

Russian forces are also getting into deadly fights with each other. From Ukrayinsky Pravda:

Russian troops from Buryatia [a republic in the Far East of the Russian Federation] and from Chechnya [or the Chechen Republic – also part of the Russian Federation] exchanged fire in the Russian-occupied village of Kyselivka, in the Kherson Region.

Source: Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, on Telegram

According to Ukrainian Intelligence: “Soldiers of the Russian Federation from Chechnya and Buryatia shot at one another in the occupied Kyselivka (Chornobaivka municipal territorial community, Kherson Region).

Over 50 soldiers on each side took part in last night’s shoot-out. The exact number of casualties and fatalities is currently unknown.

One of the reasons for this ethnic conflict is the reluctance of the Buryat soldiers to conduct offensive operations and their perception of the “inequality” of their circumstances compared to those of the Chechen soldiers. The latter are never on the frontline – they always remain in the rear as “barricading detachments.” Their task is to ensure the units of [Russian] occupying forces maintain active military action. That is, to open fire on those [Russian troops] who are trying to retreat.”

Details: Ukrainian intelligence believes that the conflict may have been caused by Buryat soldiers’ dissatisfaction with the distribution of property looted from Ukrainians. It seems that all the booty was taken by the Kadyrovites [the Chechen troops], so the Buryat troops decided to initiate a redistribution.

The Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine also reported a similar conflict between commanders and privates in the occupied village of Fedorivka in Zaporizhzhia. Supposedly, lower ranked soldiers feel cheated because they were promised to take part in hostilities similar to the 2014 Russian occupation of Crimea – without resistance.

More at the link!

Obligatory:

Speaking of tensions amongst the Russians, from The Washington Post:

In the two months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the silence — and even acquiescence — of the Russian elite has started to fray.

Even as opinion polls report overwhelming public support for the military campaign, amid pervasive state propaganda and new laws outlawing criticism of the war, cracks are starting to show. The dividing lines among factions of the Russian economic elite are becoming more marked, and some of the tycoons — especially those who made their fortunes before President Vladimir Putin came to power — have begun, tentatively, to speak.

For many, the most immediate focus has been their own woes. Sweeping sanctions imposed by the West have brought down a new iron curtain on the Russian economy, freezing tens of billions of dollars of many of the tycoons’ assets along the way.

“In one day, they destroyed what was built over many years. It’s a catastrophe,” said one businessman who was summoned along with many of the country’s other richest men to meet Putin on the day of the invasion.

In interviews, several Russian billionaires, senior bankers, a senior official and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, described how they and others had been blindsided by their increasingly isolated president and feel largely impotent to influence him because his inner circle is dominated by a handful of hard-line security officials.

The complaints aired in public so far are mostly muted and focused primarily on the government’s proposed economic response to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. No one has directly criticized Putin.

Much more at the link!

Mariupol:

Mykolaiv:

Melitopol:

Kyiv:

Russian state backed media is still running father to extreme than Putin:

While it doesn’t appear they were targeted, the Russians did target the railways in western Ukraine on the same day that Secretaries Austin and Blinken traveled to and from Kyiv by train.

Professor Jason Stanley, who is a specialist on fascism as a political philosophy, has a long read on Russia, genocide, and Ukraine at Project Syndicate:

EW HAVEN – The crime of genocide involves a proven attempt to destroy, “in whole or in part,” a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group – to erase all traces of it, culturally and physically. This objective is pursued through methods including mass murder, rape, kidnapping, and involuntary abortion and sterilization. While children may be re-educated to adopt an entirely new identity, their old culture will have been systematically erased from books and other media, the goal being to deny that their ancestors ever existed at all. When we think of genocide, we of course mourn the victims. Beyond the unspeakable physical violence, the erasure of identities – the rendering of entire peoples into myth – is deeply tragic. But this phenomenon can be fully understood only by looking at it from the perpetrators’ perspective, too. Genocide has played an instrumental role in many countries’ national histories. And sometimes it is the result of a people’s conscious and willing decision to identify themselves – to define the very essence of their nationhood – in terms of the elimination of another group. I want to hold up an empathetic mirror to some of genocide’s worst perpetrators. I want to speak about the lasting harms done to the peoplehood – the sense of community and group identity – of those who commit genocide specifically as an expression of their own nationality. I want to focus on the special status of such legacies.

Rationalizing the Irrational

What can lead a people to tie their national identity to the explicit genocide of another people? By definition, genocidal rhetoric singles out a specific social group and justifies its eradication. An “antagonistic ideological social group” is a cohort whose self-definition involves a strongly negative collective response to another group. Genocidal speech creates the most extreme kind of antagonistic ideological social group, nurturing this negative emotional attunement in a specific way. By advancing false narratives about history, it defines the targeted group’s essence as an existential threat. A “genocidal antagonistic ideological social group” is thus one whose identity is based on the notion that its own existence is imperiled by that of another group.

Justifying enthusiastic, open genocide is a complicated process, and these highly abstract concepts are central to understanding it. But examples can make the abstract concrete. On April 3, 2022, the official Russian press agency RIA Novosti published an article titled, “What Should Russia Do with Ukraine?” The historian Timothy Snyder has aptly described this text as “Russia’s Genocide Handbook,” noting that it is “one of the most openly genocidal documents I have ever seen.” As a pre-eminent historian of mass killing, Snyder’s assessment carries weight. It indicates that we are dealing with one of the most explicit examples of genocidal speech that has ever been written. From the outset, Russian President Vladimir Putin has justified his war in Ukraine as a campaign of “denazification.” The handbook fleshes out this justification in disturbing detail. After describing Ukraine as “the enemy of Russia and a tool of the West used to destroy Russia,” it develops an elaborate argument to support this claim. Readers are told that the West has abandoned its traditional European values in favor of “Western totalitarianism, the imposed programs of civilizational degradation and disintegration, the mechanisms of subjugation under the superpower of the West and the United States.” Viewed in these terms, Russia is “the last authority in protecting and preserving those values of historical Europe (the Old World) that deserve to be preserved and that the West ultimately abandoned, losing the fight for itself.” In a 1935 speech, “Communism with the Mask Off,” Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels describes the threat of Bolshevism in similar terms, albeit with Jews as the target. “In its final consequences,” he warned, “it signifies the destruction of all the commercial, social, political, and cultural achievements of Western Europe, in favor of a deracinated and nomadic international cabal which has found its representation in Judaism.” Just as Goebbels portrayed the Nazis as the protectors of the West’s traditional values against a cosmopolitan, decadent ideology, so, too, does the current Russian leadership promote its vision of a timeless and indestructible Russkiy Mir.

Russia’s New Identity

“What Should Russia Do with Ukraine?” offers a pseudo-historical litany of the grave wrongs that Russia has suffered at the hands of the West. “Russia did everything possible to save the West,” it proclaims, but “the West decided to take revenge on Russia for the help that it had selflessly provided.” In this telling, Ukraine is the primary tool of Western treachery, and the country’s identification as an independent nation reflects the ascendancy of “Ukronazism.” This, we are told, is an especially bad version of Nazism: “Ukronazism poses a much bigger threat to the world and Russia than the Hitler version of German Nazism.” Ukrainian identity is an “anti-Russian construct that has no civilizational substance of its own.” Its central feature – the essential nature of the Ukrainian nation – is its antagonism toward Russia. Thus, “unlike, for example, Georgia or the Baltic States, history has proved it impossible for Ukraine to exist as a nation-state, and any attempts to ‘build’ such a nation-state naturally lead to Nazism.”

The document then describes all the practices that constitute “denazification” of Ukraine. They include “mass investigations” to uncover personal responsibility for “the spread of Nazi ideology” (Ukrainian sovereignty) and “support for the Nazi regime” (the duly elected Ukrainian government and its appointed officials). The punishments for these transgressions include forced labor, imprisonment, and death. Denazification also requires “the seizure of educational materials and the prohibition of educational programs at all levels that contain Nazi ideological guidelines” (anything mentioning Ukrainian identity). In focusing on Russia’s historical role vis-à-vis the West, the document offers a new conceptualization of Russian identity. Specifically, it defines Russians as a genocidal antagonistic ideological social group. To be Russian is to be committed to the total annihilation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The “denazification” of Ukraine is the purest expression of Russian identity. According to its logic, Russian identity is best exemplified in acts of brutal and violent revenge. To justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine requires changing what it means to be Russian, by inscribing genocide into the national identity. To be Russian is to revel in the eradication of Ukraine. The cost of this change will be borne by all who identify as Russian, forever.

Much, much, much more at the link!

The Wall Street Journal also has a deep dive on Russian disdain for Ukraine by Ukrainian journalist Yaroslov Trofimov:

As a young poet in the Soviet Union, Joseph Brodsky was persecuted by the authorities before escaping to the U.S. in 1972 and going on to win the Nobel Prize in literature. In Soviet-era Kyiv, Ukrainian intellectuals used to trade coveted samizdat reprints of Brodsky’s poems, reciting them at clandestine gatherings.

But the affection wasn’t mutual. At a reading in 1992, less than a year into Ukraine’s existence as an independent nation, Brodsky offered a new poem titled “To the Independence of Ukraine.” “Farewell khokhols,” he intoned, using a racial slur for Ukrainians. “We’ve lived together, now enough. Wish I could spit into the Dnipro river, perhaps it would now flow backwards.” Brodsky went on to predict that when the ungrateful Ukrainians were wheezing on their deathbeds, they would surely revert to reciting the verse of the classic Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin, rather than the “lies” of their own national poet, Taras Shevchenko.

The idea that Ukrainians aren’t a real people and that Ukrainian nationhood is an artificial construct has long been mainstream in Russian culture, literature and politics—including among liberal luminaries like Brodsky, who died in 1996. President Vladimir Putin’s views on Ukraine, which he expounded in an essay last year that was read to Russian soldiers preparing for the invasion, are no outlier. They follow a lengthy tradition that helps to explain the continuing support for the war among Russia’s citizens.

This blind spot dates to the beginnings of the modern Ukrainian quest for sovereignty more than a century ago. “The Russian democrat ends where the Ukrainian question begins,” said Ukrainian writer and playwright Volodymyr Vynnychenko, who served as prime minister of the short-lived Ukrainian National Republic in 1917-18. It has become one of the best-known phrases in Ukrainian politics.

The tradition of Russian hostility to Ukrainian aspirations comes in two strands. One simply denies the existence of Ukrainians as a people distinct from Russians. That was the line adopted by the Russian Empire for much of the 19th century, when it banned books in Ukrainian and the very term Ukraine, calling the region “Little Russia” instead. Another strand holds that while Ukrainians do in fact have their own identity and speak their own language, at least half the territory of present-day Ukraine really belongs to Russia and was unfairly pried away by the Soviet Union’s founder Vladimir Lenin.

That was the view of the Russian novelist and former political prisoner Alexander Solzhenitsyn, another Nobel laureate, who was exiled by the Soviets in 1974 and returned to Russia in 1994. He initially expressed understanding of Ukrainian suffering. “We should prove the greatness of our nation not by the sheer size of our territory and the number of peoples in our care, but by the greatness of our actions,” he wrote in his 1968 classic, “The Gulag Archipelago,” describing encounters with Ukrainian political prisoners.

But after Ukraine’s independence turned from a distant and unlikely prospect to reality, Solzhenitsyn adopted a different tone, one that Mr. Putin replicated in his essay last year. In a 2006 interview with Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper, Solzhenitsyn argued that southern and eastern Ukraine, the Crimea and Donbas have never belonged to historical Ukraine, and that the country was being dragged into NATO against the will of the inhabitants of these areas. “Under all these conditions, Russia can under no circumstances dare to betray the multimillion Russian population of Ukraine, renounce our unity with them,” he said.

Much more at the link!

Your semi daily Patron:

Your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 65: Mariupol Is Still Being Defended appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 64: Putin Provides a Lesson In Exactly Who He Does Not Respect

War for Ukraine Update 57: Mariupol's Defenders Still Hang On

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited Kyiv today. This was his second stop on his diplomatic mission. The first was Moscow to meet with Putin. While Guterres was in Kyiv today Russia attacked using cruise missiles.

It wasn’t so much an attack on Secretary General Guterres as a message to him and the world from Putin. Specifically that Putin really could care less what the UN wants, what the Secretary General wants, and that the only use that Putin will make of diplomacy or the UN/UN Security Council is as a weapon, not as a way to end his reinvasion of Ukraine.

Or a day that ends in day!

Just a quick note before we go farther: last night I mucked up the analysis of the British MOD maps. I was looking at it and for whatever reason my brain just decided that what I was seeing was not what was actually going on. I’ll have a full corrective explanation in that section of the update after the jump.

Here’s President Zelenskyy’s address to Ukraine from earlier this evening. The transcript with my emphases will be after the jump:

Ukrainians!

All our defenders!

Today we have significant news for our state, for our defense.

First, the United States has prepared a new support package for Ukraine worth $ 33 billion. In particular, more than 20 billion can be allocated for defense. More than $ 8 billion is planned for economic support. Another $ 3 billion will be allocated for humanitarian aid.

This is a very important step by the United States. And I am grateful to the American people and personally to President Biden for it. I hope that the Congress will quickly support this request for help to our state. President Biden rightly said today that this step is not cheap. But the negative consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and against democracy are so large-scale for the whole world that, in comparison with them, this support from the United States is necessary. Together, we can certainly stop Russian aggression and reliably defend freedom in Europe.

We are also working to direct the blocked assets of Russian individuals subject to sanctions and the Russian state to compensate Ukraine for this war and to restore normal life.

The investigation into the crimes committed by the Russian military against our people is underway. Ukraine’s position is absolutely clear – every Russian criminal must be and will be brought to justice. Whoever they are and wherever they hide, we will find them all and make them bear responsibility.

The first ten Russian servicemen from the 64th motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Ground Forces who committed crimes against our people in Bucha, Kyiv region, received the status of suspects. Their surnames are known. It is established what they did. We know all the details about them and their actions. And we will find everyone. Just as we will find all the other Russian thugs who killed and tortured Ukrainians. Who tormented our people. Who destroyed houses and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. None of these bastards will avoid responsibility.

However, some of them may not survive until trial and fair punishment. But for one reason only. This Russian brigade was relocated to the Kharkiv region. There they will get retribution from our military.

Prime Minister of Bulgaria Kiril Petkov paid a visit to Kyiv today. We had very substantive and very warm negotiations with him. Bulgaria is one of those countries that reacted to Russia’s aggression in a principled manner and quickly. I am grateful to both the Bulgarian government and the Bulgarian people for not delaying the support for our state.

Defense, energy and transport issues were discussed with Mr. Petkov. Sanctions pressure on Russia, which is necessary for peace. We also discussed our cooperation at the EU level. A very important agreement is on the repair of our military equipment at the Bulgarian production facilities.

Another issue we agreed on is the supply of Ukrainian electricity to Bulgaria and the use of the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline together with the Bulgarian side. I am grateful to Bulgaria for the opportunity to use the port of Varna to export our agricultural capacity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres was also in Ukraine today. It is very important that Mr. Secretary-General visited Borodyanka, Kyiv region. And saw with his own eyes what the Russian occupiers had done there. Hundreds of Ukrainian cities and hundreds of communities have experienced the same thing as Borodyanka and Bucha. The Russian army in Ukraine consciously and without any doubt trampled down everything on which the global order was based after World War II.

The UN Charter, international conventions, declarations, the rights of people and states… Everything that should guarantee freedom and security in the world is simply destroyed by Russia’s aggressive actions. So the key issue in the talks with the UN Secretary-General was how to stop Russian aggression. And this is not just a question of Ukraine, our fate. This is a question of the fate of the United Nations, the fate of international law, the fate of many nations – and not just Russia’s neighbors who may become the next victims of Moscow’s aggressive ambitions.

Of course, during the negotiations we paid a lot of attention to saving our people from Mariupol. I believe that with the help of the UN it is possible to organize an evacuation mission. Ukraine is ready for these steps. But it is also necessary for the Russian side to consider this issue without cynicism and actually do what it says.

Moscow claimed they had allegedly ceased fire in Mariupol. But the bombing of the defenders of the city continues. This is a war crime committed by the Russian military literally in front of the whole world. Russia’s shelling of Mariupol did not stop even when the UN Secretary-General was holding negotiations in Moscow.

And today, immediately after the end of our talks in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. Five missiles.

And this says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions. About the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the UN and everything that the Organization represents. Therefore, it requires a strong response.

Russian missile strikes at Ukraine – Kyiv, Fastiv, Odesa, and other cities – once again prove that we cannot let our guard down. We cannot think that the war is over. We still have to fight. We still have to drive the occupiers out.

Today, the Russian army continued its offensive attempts in the east of our country, in Donbas. Tries to advance in the southern regions.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine repel the invaders. And I am grateful to each of our defenders who are holding positions.

We are doing everything to help our army, to provide the military with all the necessary weapons.

Every time I contact my partners, I emphasize that weapons for Ukraine right now, the very types we ask for and just when we need them, are salvation not only for our people. This is salvation for all of you – for all of Europe.

I am grateful to those partners who understand this. And who help convince others.

Before delivering the evening address, I signed a decree awarding our heroes. 214 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded state awards. 14 of them posthumously.

Eternal memory to all who gave life for Ukraine!

Eternal glory to all who stood up for the state!

Glory to Ukraine!

If you want to know who the ten Russian soldiers that have been identified are, this thread from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence has the details.

By now everyone has, most likely, already seen the news that both the new Lend-Lease Act has passed the House and is on the way to President Biden for his signature and that he is sending Congress a proposal for a $33 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. Both of these are good news and significant. I expect that with the usual Republican no votes in the House and the Senate – Gaetz, Green, Gosar, Boebert, Massie, Paul, and maybe a half dozen more in the House and one or two Republican no votes in the Senate – that it will pass quickly. Though if he can/if he is allowed to, I expect Paul will try to put a hold on it or refuse unanimous consent in order to slow it down so he can do his usual performative bullshit.

Just one point before we move on and this is a domestic political one: this huge aid package is going to be a problem for the Democrats politically. The usual suspects – the holier than thou left – are going to try to make a huge to do that Biden and the Democrats can get $33 billion for Ukraine’s defense through the House and Senate with few problems and few delays, but they can’t find a way to extend the expanded child tax credit. Or any part of the Build Back Better package. Or insert your preferred policy or program here. This critique, and really it is a critique of the absurdity of the Senate and how it is allowed to (dys)function in 2022 as much as it is a critique of the Biden administration and the Senate Democratic caucus, will then be picked up by Fox News and the rest of “conservative” news and social media and used as a weapon from both directions. One additional point here: it is also, and really should be, a critique of Senate Republicans – from McConnell all the way to the so called reasonable members of the Senate GOP caucus like Romney and Collins and Murkowski – and their blanket refusal to do anything at all for the American people or to even attempt to get some of what they would like to see passed by seeking compromise with the Democrats. They have agency and the news media, including the political reporters, their producers and editors and bookers, pretending they don’t is a good chunk of how we got into this mess. And why we are unlikely to get out of it.

Since we’re talking about material and equipment and aid, here’s what the Commanding General of Ukraine’s Air Force says he needs. There are English subtitles in the video.

Here’s today’s operational update from Ukraine’s MOD (emphasis mine):

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 28, 2022

The sixty-fourth day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues. A russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

russian enemy continues to carry out offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to defeat the Joint Forces, establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land route with the occupied Crimea.

The greatest activity of russian enemy is observed in Slobozhansky and Donetsk directions.

No significant changes in russian enemy’s activity have been recorded in the Volyn and Polissya areas. russian enemy aircraft continue to launch missile and air strikes on targets in Ukraine from the territory of the republic of belarus. According to available information, the aviation units of the Air Force of the russian federation continue to use the Baranovichi airfield. The air defense means of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to be on duty in an enhanced mode.

In the Sicersky direction, there are no signs of enemy formation of the group to resume the offensive. russian occupiers are taking measures to strengthen the coverage of certain areas of the border. Thus, additional units of the rosguard were deployed to the border zone in the direction of Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts.

In the Slobozhansky direction, russian enemy deployed up to five divisions of the Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) mobile short range ballistic missile system in the Belgorod region. russian enemy continues to regroup its forces. According to available information, russian enemy brought a battalion tactical group of airborne troops to the territory of the russian federation to restore combat capability due to significant losses in personnel and military equipment. In addition, a battalion tactical group from the 29th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District was moved from the territory of the Belgorod region of the russian federation to the Kharkiv region. The enemy continues air reconnaissance with unmanned aerial vehicles.

russian enemy units attempted to attack the positions of the Defense Forces of Ukraine in the directions of Brazhkivka and Dovhenke. They were unsuccessful, lost and withdrew. russian occupiers also tried unsuccessfully to take control of the main objects of the Velyka Komyshuvakha.

The Defence Forces of Ukraine have restored control over the settlement of Kutuzivka in the Kharkiv region.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, in order to bind our troops and hold the previously occupied frontiers, russian enemy fired on the positions of Ukrainian defence units using multiple rocket launcher systems and artillery almost along the entire line of contact.

russian enemy tried to completely capture Rubizhne, but was unsuccessful, suffered losses and retreated to previously occupied positions.

In the Kurakhiv direction, russian enemy unsuccessfully tried to advance in the directions of the settlements of Solodke and Novomykhailivka.

russian enemy continued to launch air strikes on Mariupol. The main efforts were focused on blocking our units in the area of the Azovstal plant in order to prevent their breakthrough.

In the direction of Donetsk – Zaporizhzhia, the enemy launched an offensive in the direction of the settlements Neskuchne and Vremivka, and had no success. It continues to strengthen the grouping of troops.

Ships of the occupying fleet in the Black and Azov Seas continue to launch missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine, perform tasks to isolate the area of hostilities and conduct reconnaissance.

Attempts to storm the enemy in the areas of the settlements of Oleksandrivka and Tavriyske were successfully repulsed in the Pivdenny Buh direction, Ivanivka and Zahradivka.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s update from the British MOD:

The British assessment is concerning given that Putin’s plans including seizing Odesa. Both off shore bombardment from Russia’s Black Sea fleet and an amphibious landing are concerns to keep an eye on and out for even if they’re unlikely given how far off shore the Russian fleet is staying.

And let me try to get this map thing right tonight!!!!

Here’s the map from 25 APR:

 

Here’s the map from yesterday:

And here’s today’s map from the British MOD:

War for Ukraine Update 64: Putin Provides a Lesson In Exactly Who He Does Not Respect

Drum roll please!!!! As you can see, from the 25th through to today, the contested area indicated by the diagonal shading between Izium and Luhansk has gotten smaller and smaller as the Ukrainians have pushed forward and reclaimed territory. They’ve made significant territorial gains just over the past three days.

My apologies for screwing this up last night. I’ve taught GIS/mapping to Army analysts, know better, and for whatever reason I wasn’t processing what I was seeing.

Here’s the transcript of today’s DOD backgrounder on Ukraine with a Senior Defense Official (SDO) (emphasis mine):

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay, good morning, everybody.

I’m going to try to quick through this because I’ve got some commitments I’ve got to do in just a little bit, so I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can. But they’re — it’s been a long time since we did want one of these, so I do have some stuff I want to get through.

We are now on day 63, and on day 63 we can report that there’s been more than 1,900 missile launches since the beginning of the invasion. Most of the missile launches and, quite frankly, fixed-wing strikes on Ukraine continue to be happening in Mariupol and in the Joint Force operation area, basically, the Donbas region. That’s really where the preponderance of strike activity continues to occur.

Also on day 63, we can report that there are now 92 operational battalion tactical groups from the Russians inside Ukraine, so an increase over the last time you and I had a chance to talk. We would assess that Russian forces are making slow and uneven and, frankly, we would describe it as incremental progress in the Donbas. Some advances east of Izyum and to the south a little bit, but there has been continued pushback by the Ukrainians since, so there’s a lot of, still, back-and-forth in the Donbas in terms of territory gained and/or lost by, frankly, both sides. So not a huge difference in the picture on the ground in the Donbas.

The Russians have not overcome all their logistics and sustainment challenges, and we assess that they’re only able — because they still haven’t solved all their logistics problems — just from a logistics perspective alone, not counting the Ukrainian resistance, which remains active, but just from logistics alone, they’re only able to sustain several kilometers or so progress on any given day, just because they don’t want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines. So they’re limited not only, again, by the fighting and by Ukrainian resistance, but by their still-continued logistics problems.

Let’s see — in the south we can report that we have seen Russian forces departing the Mariupol area and moving to the northwest, sort of in the direction of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. That doesn’t mean that we assess that they have Mariupol. As I’ve said earlier, they are continuing to pound Mariupol with strikes, both airstrikes and missile strikes. You don’t do that if you think it belongs to you. But they are moving forces now to the northwest. I couldn’t give you an estimate, guys, on, like, how many that is and how far they’ve gotten. We’re just picking up these indications, and I wanted to make sure that, you know, I let you know that. But I’m not able to quantify that. We’re just beginning to see them now move some of their forces away from Mariupol and head up towards the northwest.

Let’s see. In the maritime domain, the Black Sea fleet combatant ships, warships still remain really off the western coast of Crimea, along with some of their LSTs, their tank landing ships, sort of demonstrating their ability off the coast, but not really doing a whole lot. We think that that’s partly because of, they’re wary of their own safety, but also a bit of a show of force to potentially try to convince Ukrainian forces that they need to stay near Mykolayiv and Odesa. Again, we’ve we’ve talked about this before. The demonstrating against Odesa could be an effort to tie down, to pin down Ukrainian forces so that they can’t move further to the northeast. Again, we don’t know that for sure. We’re not inside the Russian planners’ minds, but we think they — what Black Sea activity there is is really meant as a show of force. We’re not seeing anything demonstrative from a naval perspective that they’re planning on an amphibious assault on Odesa or getting closer to the coast, and, in fact, quite the contrary.

I would like to, just on the — that’s kind of it for operational updates. Let me just make sure before I move on that I didn’t forget anything. No, I think that’s it.

Just on the issue of security assistance, we would now assess that more than 60 percent of the M777 howitzers that were committed in both PDA 7 and 8, so of the 90, have now been transferred to the Ukrainian military in just the last week. And yesterday, the Pentagon press secretary said it was more than 50, and we would say more than 60 percent now have been transferred to Ukraine. The first group of trainers are back in Ukraine. The second group of trainers is now undergoing their training.

It began — let me just make sure I think I got this right.

Yeah, the second course with more than 50 Ukrainian military commenced their six-day training evolution yesterday. So this is day two for that second tranche.

And there is additional training going on outside of Ukraine on the Q-64 mobile radar system that we announced in PDA-7. There’s some training going on there. That’ll be about a week — again, it’s being held outside of Ukraine and there’s some training that started yesterday, as well, five day training for more than 50 Ukrainian soldiers on the M113, the armored personnel carrier, just to make sure they’re familiar with how to use that — with that system.

So training continues. As we said, you know, it would include howitzers but we also talked about the fact that they would need some familiarization on the radar system. That has started. And on the M113, we also said that would require some training, and that has started. And we’ll continue to look at what the iterations need to be on that going forward.

Again, it’s outside of Ukraine, small numbers of Ukrainian trainers that will go in and train their colleagues, but it is happening. And I’m not going to detail what country and the locations of where it — this training is happening. That is for those countries to speak to, if they choose.

And I’m not going to detail how many and who the trainers are. Yes, the United States is participating in some of this training, of course we are, but we’re not the only ones, and again, I’m not going to speak for every other country.

On the — no, I’ve already kind of covered the howitzers, that 60 percent of them are basically in there. But other things continue to flow, including — including the 155 artillery rounds. You know, they continue to flow into Ukraine and it’s a mix of, you know, some from PDA-7, some from PDA-8.

So I think with that, I think we can start taking questions. And again, I’m going to try to clip through this — we don’t have Bob or Lita on the line today, so we’ll start with Barbara. Go ahead.

Q: Can you just dive a little deeper into the fighting in the east and the south? A couple of things. You say 92 ‘operational’ BTGs. In your view, what does that mean when you call them “operational”? Are they fully formed? Are they on the move? Are you beginning to see more coordinated, or coordinated at all, air-ground operations that you hadn’t seen before? Is there evidence, even though they’re still having sustainment, that they are learning? What is the evidence they’re learning the lessons of the first phase? Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Barb, when we say “operational,” we mean that by — at least by Russian definition — and we don’t — again, we don’t have the metrics that they use to gauge readiness but when we say “operational,” we mean these are battalion tactical groups that are are capable of being reinserted into combat.

We can’t detail every single one of those 92 and what their readiness is. As they are engaged in the fight, they are taking losses, they are suffering casualties, and so the readiness of these BTGs will change over time.

But what we’re saying is that these are 92 functional battalion tactical groups. Again, every battalion tactical group is different, they don’t all have the same purpose. We believe that — that’s how we’re counting it. “Operational” means they can function in a combat environment.

How well they function in a combat environment is, of course, — that’s a larger, deeper question that gets to leadership and unit cohesion and morale and logistics and sustainment, and that will change over time, depending on where these guys are inserted and what kind of fighting they’re seeing.

We continue to see signs that they are trying to improve some of the challenges that they’ve had previously in the war — so that they are trying to better integrate air-to-ground operations in the Donbas, but we do not assess that they’ve fixed all of their problems. Their coordination is still hampered by command and control, which is not optimal yet.

We definitely see the most demonstrative thing we’ve seen is their attempt to improve logistics and sustainment. I mean, that’s pretty much the most obvious thing that we’re seeing them trying to learn from.

It started before these operations in the Donbas really kicked up, when they moved in command and control enablers and communication enablers and rotary wing support and artillery, all pre-staged into the Donbas for the troops to fall in on and to be able to utilize, but we still assess that they have not fixed all of those logistics problems.

And we can see that at least one reason why they aren’t making a lot of progress — not the only reason but one reason — is that they are still wary of of getting out ahead of their supply lines and getting too far out ahead, like they did north of Kyiv, when they literally just sprinted to Kyiv and then didn’t have the backup, didn’t have the fuel, didn’t have the food, didn’t have the spare parts to keep them there. They don’t want to make that same mistake.

Now, I I want to stress that the Donbas is a different terrain altogether and their focus now geographically is smaller and more contained in an open environment. So they — just by nature of the ground, they have some advantages that they didn’t have north of Kyiv.

I will also add that, talking about ground, as we head into spring here, you know, we know that the weather and the ground conditions — and I mean literally the ground conditions — are going to be an increasing factor.

It’s — you know, as it starts to rain more and there’s more mud, it will force them to be ever more reliant on paved roads and paved highways and that — that we would expect that some of their progress will be slowed by — frankly, by mud and by weather conditions.

So I don’t know if that answered your question but that’s where we are.

Q: Thank you — thank you very much.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yep. Heather from USNI?

Q: Thank you so much for taking my question. In terms of the Russian Black Fleet staying farther away from Ukraine. What does this do to the Russians’ plan for some of the southern border?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, it’s a difficult question to answer, Heather, because again, we don’t have visibility into their planning assumptions. They still have — I mean, let’s remember now that certainly they have a presence in Crimea and they have now a presence in the south of Ukraine. It’s uneven, to be sure, but they have a presence there, Melitopol and Berdyansk, up near Zaporizhzhya, and out towards Kherson.

And largely, we assess that, you know, while there’s still activity in Kherson — I mean, the Russians certainly have a strong presence there. So, as far west as Kherson, they haven’t taken Mykolayiv, but as far west as Kherson, maybe, a little bit, beyond that, and as far east as to the north of Mariupol, and then if you go up to the north around Zaporizhzhya, if you, kind of, draw that box, I mean, those are areas in the south that are largely in Russian control. That’s not insignificant.

And so what we’ve seen them do with their Navy in the Sea of Azov is largely two things, one, use their cruise missile capability to strike targets inside Ukraine; and, two, to resupply and reinforce ground forces there.

You know, when we saw the LST sink at the pier in Berdyansk, that was what that LST was designed to do, not put ashore Marines but put ashore, you know, food and ammunition. So, largely, the Navy there in the Sea of Azov is really designed to just resupply their forces in the south.

And then, in the Black Sea, they are not — it is largely show of force activity. They are not really conducting a lot of kinetic maritime activity in the Black Sea. I mean, they’re capable of doing some cruise missile launches. But we’re just not seeing imminent indications of, like, an amphibious assault or all-out naval barrage on Odessa.

Again, we think the presence in the Black Sea largely is designed to give pause to the Ukrainians that are in the South near Odessa and Mykolayiv, so that they don’t leave.

Much, much more at the link!

Earlier this morning more stuff blew up in Belgorod:

Well that’s a real shame.

Obligatory:

 

The Ukrainians have also cut the railway bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Ukraine:

The text in the tweet above reads:

Today, at about 8 am, the self-liquidation of the railway bridge in Akimovka, Melitopol district, took place According to the speaker of the Odesa OVA Bratchuk, the occupiers supplied weapons and fuel from Crimea through this bridge. Image

More Russian agitprop:

RIA Novosti appears to be the go to outlet when you need to plant and then launder the Russian agitprop.

Mariupol:

Makariv:

Kherson:

  • 2/3 You can’t help but see parallels with Holodomor, a 1932-33 genocide of Ukrainians, when working people were deprived of the products of their labour and starved to death
  • 3/3 What russians are doing in Kherson directly goes against Geneva convention. Sanction russia now and prevent them from committing even more war crimes! #UkraineUnderAttack #CancelRussia

And they’re not just doing this in Kherson. The Russians have decided to go all in on pillaging Ukraine’s agriculture in the areas that they are occupying or operating in!

Following the good news out of Germany yesterday regarding providing support to Ukraine, today we have equally good news from Bulgaria:

This is partially the result of Russia stopping gas exports to Bulgaria.

For full disclosure: the head of Bulgarian Special Operations is my former student.

This is an excellent thread, but it has visuals I can’t really copy and paste, so click across and give it a read!

One final serious point: today is Yom HaShoa, Holocaust Memorial Day.

Here is part of the Auschwitz Memorial’s thread for today:

It would be nice, given what Putin is and is trying to do in Ukraine, if never again actually meant something more than to keep the kids in line at Jewish day school while the teachers were scaring the crap out of them and for political purposes by Israel.

Your semi daily Patron! With kids!!!! The cuteness, it burns!!!!!!!

We’ll leave it there for tonight.

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 64: Putin Provides a Lesson In Exactly Who He Does Not Respect appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 63: Russia Continues To Attack In the East & the Biden Administration Manages To Bring a Captured Marine Veteran Home

Let’s start tonight with the good news that the Biden administration was able to successfully negotiate an exchange with Russia that gets US Marine veteran Trevor Reed out of a Russian prison and home to his family.

Here’s the video of the exchange:

Reed was exchanged for Yaroshenko who had served ten years of a twenty year sentence for drug smuggling in the US. Reed had been arrested in 2020 for getting into a fight while drunk in Moscow and it was pretty clear that the nature of his prosecution and incarceration were intended to pressure the then Trump administration to give Putin something of value to get him out. That never happened and today the Biden administration got Reed home in exchange for someone who’d served 50% of his sentence. Which is not a bad exchange at all. There are several other Americans being held in Russian prisons on inflated or bogus charges, all intended to pressure the US to giving Russia something of value to get them out. The Biden administration’s efforts to get these other Americans returned without paying anything significant as a ransom are ongoing.

Here’s President Zelenskyy’s address to Ukraine from earlier this evening. The transcript, with my emphases, follows the jump.

Unbreakable people of the bravest country!

The 63rd day of our defense is coming to an end. A day during which a lot has been done.

First, an important decision of the European Union is being prepared. The European Commission has agreed to remove all duties and quotas on Ukrainian exports for a year, as well as to suspend anti-dumping tariffs.

I discussed the details of this proposal with President Ursula von der Leyen today. I am grateful to her personally and to all our European friends for this step.

Right now, this will allow us to maintain the economic activity in Ukraine, our national production as much as possible. But this decision needs to be considered not only in the Ukrainian context. Sufficient export of our products to European and global markets will be a significant anti-crisis tool.

Russia is trying to provoke a global price crisis. To start chaos in all basic markets and especially in the food market. Ukrainian exports will help stabilize markets. So it is beneficial not only for us, but also for all Europeans. For residents of all countries that can be affected by Russia’s destructive ambitions.

New partners’ decisions to liberalize our exports are expected soon.

We are also agreeing with the European Union on how to increase the potential of transport corridors on our western border.

I spoke today with the President of Indonesia. In particular, on food security. I stressed that the threat of famine for millions of people in different countries will remain until Russia begins to seek peace with Ukraine. It is because of this war waged by Russia that dozens of states have found themselves in a situation where they cannot be sure of stability for their people.

I am grateful to Indonesia for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our state, for an honest and responsible position during the UN voting.

I am also grateful for the invitation to take part in this year’s G20 summit.

A conversation took place with the Prime Minister of Italy. I thanked Mr. Draghi for the involvement in the investigation of crimes committed by the Russian military. I informed him about the situation in the combat zones. We appreciate Italy’s support for truly effective sanctions that can end the war.

This week, Russia’s leadership launched a new series of energy blackmail of Europeans. The decision to cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria is another argument in favor of the fact that no one in Europe can hope to maintain any normal economic cooperation with Russia.

Russia considers not only gas, but any trade as a weapon. It is just waiting for the moment when one or another trade area can be used. To blackmail Europeans politically. Or to strengthen Russia’s military machine, which sees a united Europe as a target.

Hence, the sooner everyone in Europe admits that it is inadmissible to depend on Russia in trade, the sooner it will be possible to guarantee stability in European markets.

A meeting of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities took place today. The first meeting during the full-scale war. A set of issues was discussed. In particular, the reconstruction of our country. We are already working on all the details so that the post-war reconstruction project can be implemented quickly and most effectively.

I stressed that we expect specific requests and proposals from local authorities. So that we can talk specifically with our partners, with the European Union, with international donors. Communities must provide all information about destroyed housing, all damaged objects.

We discussed how and in what order to build, how to organize the purchase of ready housing. Our goal is not just to rebuild everything that was destroyed by the occupiers. But also to solve old problems with housing queues and so on. So that all servicemen, rescuers, policemen, all who work for the state are provided with their own housing.

Today in Congress we heard the reports on the earliest possible provision of housing for IDPs. On the interaction between central and local authorities in the communities that are temporarily occupied.

The issues of territorial defense development and coordination between local authorities and law enforcement agencies were discussed.

Today I want to especially support Ukrainians in the south of our country. In Kherson, in all communities of the region, in the temporarily occupied districts of the Zaporizhzhia region. I am grateful to everyone who does not give up. Who protests. Who ignores the occupiers and shows those outcasts who have become collaborators that they have no future. The stronger our resistance now, the more rejection the occupiers will see, the sooner normal life will return to our land.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to beat the invaders throughout the territory where the fighting continues. I am grateful to each of our defenders who do everything for Russia to lose.

Mariupol, Marinka, Popasna, Severodonetsk, Izyum, Rubizhne, Dniprorudne, Melitopol and all other cities and communities that are now at the epicenter of the struggle for Ukraine. That is where the fighting for the future of our people is taking place. Thank you to everyone who brings our victory closer!

I have just signed decrees on awarding our heroes. 173 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded state awards of Ukraine.

The title of Hero of Ukraine was awarded to Lieutenant General Serhiy Ivanovych Nayev, Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Eternal glory to everyone who stood up for our state!

Eternal memory to all who gave life for Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

I want to just take a moment and focus on President Zelenskyy’s remarks about Russia weaponizing trade:

Russia is trying to provoke a global price crisis. To start chaos in all basic markets and especially in the food market.

Russia considers not only gas, but any trade as a weapon. It is just waiting for the moment when one or another trade area can be used. To blackmail Europeans politically. Or to strengthen Russia’s military machine, which sees a united Europe as a target.

In 2020 I had a professional article published at The Cipher Brief conceptualizing 21st century warfare. Specifically how the character and characteristics of warfare had changed in the 21st century. In it I wrote:

The nature of war is rooted in fear, honor, and interest. The character and characteristics of war, however, change and evolve over time to reflect the changes in societies in regard to what are considered existential threats that require a military solution, as well changes of technologies that allow state and non-state actors to deliver kinetic power to inflict enough pain so that one’s adversary yields.

21st century war and warfare reflects these shifts. There is, unfortunately, still far too much interstate war, civil war, revolution, insurgency, and terrorism; however, a new form of war and warfare in the 21st century has developed. This 21st century warfare was developed by states that are unable to match the military might of the United States, but that seek to achieve their strategic objectives through the application of all the other elements of national power.

Recognizing that they cannot subdue America by utilizing military power, the US’s adversaries and competitors have instead changed the way that they make war. Rather than attack the US, its allies, and its partners directly using military power, America’s adversaries and competitors have instead been waging war against them for the better part of a decade by utilizing some or all of the other forms of military power. Some of these uses of national power, the weaponization of the non-military elements of diplomatic, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, and legal power (the DIMEFIL), are new and novel. Some, such as the Russian active measures subversion campaign that was directed at the US during and since the 2016 presidential election and Britain during Brexit, are old tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that are finally able to be effectively operationalized because technological advancements are finally mature enough to support US adversaries’ concepts and doctrine.

The US’s adversaries and competitors, recognizing that they cannot match America’s military power, have, instead, begun to weaponize other elements of their national power to wage a 21st century form of war against the US, its allies, and its partners. To use a Clausewitzian formulation, America’s adversaries and competitors have recognized that war is politics with other means. And these other means are the weaponization of the remainder of the DIMEFIL other than military power – the weaponization of diplomatic, information, economic, financial, intelligence, and legal power. This 21st century form of war and warfare is not simply isolated subversion operations within the gray zone between peace and war between state actors, and by some non-state actors against state actors, below the level of war. Rather, the US’s adversaries and competitors, recognizing that they cannot match the US in the use of military force have elevated the other elements of national power, weaponized them, and are using them to wage a sustained war against the US, its allies, and its partners.

Different adversaries and competitors are utilizing this 21st century form of warfare differently. Russia’s focus has been on taking advantage of the technological innovations that make it possible to fully operationalize the influence tactics, techniques, and procedures developed by the Soviet Union’s security and intelligence services during the Cold War and proliferated through the Communist International (COMINTERN). They have then added to this now technologically actuated toolkit economic warfare waged through a number of post-Soviet oligarchs who straddle the line between legitimate business and organized crime coupled with a weaponized diplomacy intended to undermine and ultimately bring down the post-World War II and post-Cold War international rules-based order

The Russians themselves recognize that these actions, using all elements of national power other than military power or with only limited applications of military power, are actually a new form of war and warfare. In an early 2015 speech at Russia’s Academy of Military Sciences, then General-Lieutenant Andrey Kartopolov calls this 21st century type of war and warfare “new-type war”. Kartopolov’s delineated his new-type of war as:

  • “Indirect Hybrid Methods:
    • Pressuring the enemy politically, economically, informationally, and psychologically
    • Disorienting the political and military leadership of the state victim, spreading dissatisfaction among the population
    • Preparing armed opposition detachments and sending them to the conflict region
  • Diplomatic and Propaganda warfare:
    • Covertly deploying and employing special operations forces, cyber attacks, and software attacks, conducting reconnaissance and subversive acts on a large scale, supporting the internal opposition, and employing new weapons systems”

Only once the indirect hybrid methods and the diplomatic and propaganda warfare have been successfully utilized to set the theater of operations would there be a shift to what Kartapolov calls “classical methods of waging war”. This shift to classical methods of war only takes place if necessary to liquidate any remaining pockets of resistance.

Tonight’s remarks by President Zelenskyy that place a spotlight on Russia’s use of economic power as a weapon through trade are 100% on target! It is something that we’ve heard far too little about by senior leaders in the US and the EU. And it should be taken to heart and acted upon.

There is much more of my article at the link, however it is paywalled. Sorry! Not my call.

Here’s today’s operational update from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense:

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 27, 2022

The sixty-third day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues. A russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

In the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions, the situation did not change significantly, no signs of the formation of offensive groups by russian enemy were found.

In Slobozhanshchyna, russian enemy carried out systematic artillery shelling, including multiple rocket launchers, in the cities of Kharkiv and Dergachi and in the settlement of Prudyanka.

In the direction of Izyum – Barvinkove, russian occupiers attempted an offensive in the area of Nova Dmytrivka. They were unsuccessful, lost and left.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, russian enemy continues to shell the positions of our troops along the line of contact with mortars and artillery.

russian enemy made an unsuccessful attempt to break through the defences of Ukrainian troops in the Kurakhovo area.

In the South Buh area, units of the occupying forces, under cover of artillery fire, continue to improve the engineering equipment of the positions, replenish stocks of material and technical means, ammunition and fuel, conduct air reconnaissance. russian occupiers tried to improve the tactical position of their troops in the direction of Zaporizhzhia. They have no success, they left with losses.

In the temporarily occupied territory of Kharkiv oblast, near the village of Levkivka, Izium district, russian enemy organized a collection point for damaged equipment, where military equipment is being repaired and restored. russian invaders continue to carry out so-called “filtration measures” in some settlements temporarily out of control of the Ukrainian authorities.

In the temporarily occupied territory of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, russian occupiers are inspecting the houses of local residents in order to identify the places of residence of representatives of the security forces of Ukraine. Carrying out a census of the local population, movement in the temporarily occupied territory without identity documents is prohibited.

In the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson oblast, russian occupiers are preparing for a so-called “referendum”, bulletins are being printed, and personal data of local citizens of Ukraine are being clarified. At the same time, russian invaders continue to prevent civilians from leaving the occupied territory.

In the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, due to numerous provocations from russia, a “red” level of terrorist threat has been introduced. The personnel of the security forces were transferred to the “barracks state”, the control at the checkpoints was strengthened, and the preparations for the May 9 holiday parade were canceled.

russian enemy is demoralized. Personnel who are taken to replenish losses from the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have their personal documents confiscated, which will not allow them to be identified in the event of death. There have been more and more cases of enemy soldiers searching for new ways to avoid participating in hostilities. Personnel resort to desertion, captivity and self-mutilation.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together! Glory to Ukraine!

Here is today’s update from Britain’s MOD:

And here is their updated map for today:

Here’s yesterday’s map again:

And here’s  the British map from 25 April:

Notice the subtle difference around Izium? And between Izium and Luhansk? The contested area – indicated by the diagonal striped shaded area – has flattened out as Russia moves forwards from east to west to pressure the Ukrainian Joint Force Operation. At the same time, the Russians have now divided that contested area between Izium and Luhansk.

In today’s operational update, Ukraine’s MOD describes what is going on in Izium this way:

In the direction of Izyum – Barvinkove, russian occupiers attempted an offensive in the area of Nova Dmytrivka. They were unsuccessful, lost and left.

The British maps are indicating steady, if not significant, progress by the Russian forces. Ukraine’s MOD’s updates are not providing a lot of information regarding what is going on in this area and what information is provided is indicating something else. One of these has to be incorrect.

Last night commenter YY_Sima Qian asked:

What do you think the Ukrainian Army is doing w/ the JFO? Defend in place & attrit the Russian offensive until it peters out then attack the bases of the Russian thrusts (miniature Battle of Kursk)? I am surprised that the Ukrainian Army has not yet counter attached out of Kharkiv to threaten the logistics tail of the Izium thrust, concerned about longer range fire based on Russia? Why would the Ukrainian Army not consider pulling back the JFO to less precarious position? Is it because the JFO forces are tied down in the fortifications & thus not very mobile? The road & rail network in Eastern Ukraine does not appear to be that dense or well developed. If the Russian Army manages to make Dnipro a contested area, I would think supplying the JFO will become very difficult, as will any retreat (will likely lose almost all of the heavy equipment, w/o access to well paved roads).

The above presumes the Russian Army can actually capture Kramatorsk & threaten Dnipro, or doing so w/o shattering its remaining combat power, which not something I would bet on given recent performance.

I replied with, and this is still my current answer, with:

I don’t know. Honestly, other than “the Ukrainians have done a good job in planning and then executing on those plans, so I’m sure they’ve got something worked out that would be effective”, I’m just as curious as to what is actually going on with the JFO as you are.

The Ukrainians have fought a very, very smart war so far. So without accurate information that is far more specific than what is currently available in open sources, I think the position of the Ukrainian Joint Force Operation and Russia’s attempt to encircle and reduce this Ukrainian force are important to be concerned about. But all we can do is monitor what is going on until more details are forthcoming.

There was no DOD background briefing today, but Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby did hold a press conference. So here’s some of that.

PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY: OK. I don’t have a whole lot at the top. I do want to announce that tomorrow Secretary will be welcoming his Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand here at the Pentagon. They just had a chance to speak yesterday, I think it was yesterday in Ramstein, at the Ukraine Consultative – Defense Consultative Meeting.

So, we’re delighted to be able to welcome her here into the Pentagon, her and her staff. And as you can imagine, there’ll be a lot of things to discuss, obviously, what’s going on in Ukraine. But also, our shared NORAD responsibilities, the Arctic, the Indo Pacific, there’s a lot on the agenda.

And we’re very much looking forward to welcoming her and her team here tomorrow. And with that, Bob.

Q: A couple of quick questions on Moldova, is there any more clarity that you’re aware of what the explosions in the region?

MR. KIRBY: No, I’m afraid we don’t have much more on that Bob. And no clear indication here of exactly what happened.

Q: OK. The other question I have for you is regarding the howitzers that you’re sending to Ukraine, the 90. Can you update us on where that stands? And are you confident that they’ll get enough of them there fast enough to make a difference in this offensive?

MR. KIRBY: I would say today, without giving whole numbers more than half of those howitzers are in Ukraine.

Q: Are in Ukraine?

MR. KIRBY: Are in Ukraine.

Q: And the training part of it is that…

MR. KIRBY: Well, they’re on a second tranche of training here, Bob. You know, we finished up earlier this week, the first tranche of more than 50 trainers that are going to go in and train their teammates. And we’re working on a second tranche here of training. I’m not sure if that second tranche has actually begun yet, I’ll have to check and get back to you on that.

But there was another tranche of more than 50 that we’re going to go through training in the same location outside Ukraine. And then we are also – part of the discussion yesterday was to explore additional training opportunities on that system as well as other systems.

And so, we’re just not in a position where we can announce anything, but the training is ongoing.

Q: The first fifty are done you say?

MR. KIRBY: Yes, they finished up earlier this week. Travis.

Q: You’ve said for a long time that there are not US troops in Ukraine. With the return of diplomats, and there’s a team there yesterday in Lviv. Is that still the case? Is that something you can still say? Or is it going to become, you know, are there going to be certain numbers of troops there to ensure diplomatic security?

MR. KIRBY: I think we’re going to be having constant conversations here with our State Department colleagues about what their diplomatic activities are going to entail. And to what degree they might need support from the United States military and force protection mode. Keeping in mind, Phil, that they may not. So, we’re just going to take this in steps. And we’ll see where it goes. But as you and I speak here, I mean, nothing’s changed about our support to U.S. diplomats.

Q: And secondly, you know, is there any sense after the conference in Ramstein yesterday that there is no – that the Ukrainians have enough munitions right now? And artillery, and everything they need to repel the Russians in the southeast? Or is that still to be determined?

MR. KIRBY: It’s a kinetic – it’s an active kinetic fight there in the Donbass every single day, including this day. And as you, I think, heard when you were in Ramstein, I mean, there are real needs that the Ukrainians have to stay active in that fight. And you heard the Secretary say very clearly that we’re going to be trying to meet those needs as best we can, not just from the United States, but other countries as well, that includes munitions.

So, what I can tell you, Phil, is that munitions continue to flow into Ukraine. That the United States is helping coordinate. That continues to flow in there, including while we were overseas just over the last couple of days. And that – and efforts to get those munitions into Ukrainian hands will also continue going forward as they are in a very active fight.

You’re asking, do they have enough? I mean, I think that question is something that changes every hour, depending on their rate of consumption and what is actually going on the battlefield. So, it’d be a difficult question for me to answer you know, here thousands of miles away at the Pentagon. All I can tell you is that we know they’re expending rounds every single day of all different types and calibers.

And we’re doing everything we can. The flow continues to make sure that they can stay in the fight.

Much more at the link!

I want to take a moment and focus on the Moldova/Transnistria stuff. Specifically, for those who don’t have a lot of reason to pay attention to what has happened over the past twenty to thirty years in the states that established their independence after the Soviet Union fell. Fortunately we all have Slava Malamud, who was born and lived in what is now Transnistria before his family was able to emigrate to the US, to provide us with all the context. First tweet in the thread followed by the rest in a quote box so the site doesn’t crash because of Twitter’s code. There are two threads, the second clarifies and expands on the first:

  • The left bank of the Dniester was formerly a part of Ukraine, known as the Moldavian Autonomous SSR. It had some Romanian speakers, but the majority were ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, primarily concentrated in the city of Tiraspol. After the war, Stalin reannexed Moldova…
  • (the region between the Dienster and Prut rivers, which was a part of Romania between the World Wars) and named it the Moldavian SSR. However, he detached the northernmost (Bukovyna) and the southernmost (Bugeac) parts of it and gave them to Ukraine…
  • In return, he took Transnistria from Ukraine and gave it to Moldova. This is how the borders of modern Moldova were created. The interior of the nation, with the exception of the capital city of Chisinau (pronounced kee-she-NEH-oo), was mostly Romanian speaking…
  • Soviets, however, staunchly suppressed the Moldovans’ Romanian identity. Soviet citizens could not have any attachments to other nations. So, even though Moldovans were ethnic Romanians and spoke the language, they weren’t allowed to identify as such…
  • The ethnicity was called “Moldavian”, and so was the language, whose alphabet was changed to Cyrillic (which is farcical, when you consider that Romanian is a Romance language descending from Latin). Meanwhile, Russian speakers on the east bank never assimilated…
  • They rarely spoke Romanian and harbored very disdainful, colonial attitudes toward ethnic Moldovans, especially Romanian speakers. The conflict broke out in 1990, when Moldova declared independence, triggering fears in Transnistria that it was about to reunite with Romania…
  • In response, the east bank and the city of Bender (which is on the west bank but has a predominantly Russian-speaking population) had declared the “Transnistrian Moldavian Republic”, which declared its intention to remain in the USSR, even if Moldova seceded…
  • After the USSR broke up, Transnistria never recognized the event. It fought a war against Moldova and, supported by Russia, won its independence as an unrecognized quasi-state. It actually still considers itself the last remaining part of the USSR and hopes for Russian annexation
  • Its flag and coat of arms are those of the Moldavian SSR, they use Cyrillic for the Romanian language and call it “Moldavian” (it is one of the official languages, but in practice, nobody ever speaks it). In reality, the quasi-state is propped up by Russia and is run by the mafia
  • Transnistria’s main purpose is to serve as an anchor against Moldova’s European ambitions. Russia maintains a force there, as a constant threat to Moldova in case its politics get too European-friendly. The population is under no illusions about their rulers but hates the idea…
  • of learning Romanian and fears Moldova’s unification with Romania. Transnistria’s long-term purpose was to be the launchpad for Russia’s invasion of Moldova once Ukraine is reconquered. Now, it looks like Transnistria will be used to attack Ukraine’s southwest.
  • All of the above is for the benefit of those who think that Russia’s imperialism is a recent thing. It never, ever went away. I myself almost died of it when I was 17. The more you know…

  • Many Moldovans were adamant to institute Romanian as the only official language. Some rather bizarre racist laws were proposed (for instance, to change all Jews’ names to be clearly and unmistakeably Jewish). All and all, this was pretty standard anti-colonial backlash…
  • But first and foremost, Russian-speakers were afraid of “Unirea”, the reunification with Romania, which meant potentially becoming a powerless minority in a foreign country, dominated by people they used to subjugate. Not an appealing prospect.
  • And then, of course, things did get violent. But this was 30 years ago. The mere thought of Moldovans getting violent with Russian speakers now is pretty ridiculous. All Moldovans still speak Russian. A huge percentage of Moldovan males works in construction in Russia…
  • Today’s Transnistria is more of a metastatic manifestation of Russian imperialism than an ethnic enclave fighting against absorbtion into a foreign country.

There was some discussion the other night in the comments over whether or not what Russia is doing in Ukraine is genocide. I’ve dealt with this in two prior updates, but the short answer is: yes, it is. Today the Canadian parliament unanimously voted to confirm that assessment. From CTVNews:

Canadian members of Parliament voted unanimously on Wednesday to label Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide.”

The vote was triggered after NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson presented a motion asking that the House recognize that “the Russian Federation is committing acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people.”

MPs agreed that there is “clear and ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Russian Armed Forces directed by President Vladimir Putin and others within the Russian Parliament.

Those crimes include, among other offenses, mass atrocities, systematic instances of willful killing of Ukrainian civilians, the desecration of corpses, forcible transfer of Ukrainian children, torture, physical harm, mental harm, and rape, the motion reads.

Russia’s invasion of the eastern region of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. There have been widespread accusations of war crimes since then, with some leaders going as far as to say that the situation amounts to genocide.

International law defines genocide as the deliberate killing or causing other serious harms “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s “absolutely right” the term genocide was being used to describe Russia’s conduct. His comments came a day after U.S. President Joe Biden used the term in reference to the Ukrainian invasion.

However, Trudeau was quick to note there are “official processes” in places to formally apply that designation.

“As President Biden highlighted, there are official processes around determinations of genocide,” Trudeau said at the time. “But I think it’s absolutely right that more and more people be talking and using the word ‘genocide’ in terms of what Russia is doing.”

Days later, Defence Minister Anita Anand said there is a “strong argument” to be made that Russia’s “atrocities” amount to genocide.

“I believe that if you take the definition of genocide, which includes the intent to wipe out a nation in part or in whole, there is a strong argument to be made, even without the use of chemical weapons, that a genocide is occurring,” Anand said during an interview on CTV’s Question Period.

Canada is a signatory of the United Nations’ Genocide Convention, which codifies genocide as a crime, requires members states to prevent and punish it, and triggers legal consequences against perpetrators.

In this set of circumstances, former justice minister and ambassador to the United Nations Allan Rock said Canada is fulfilling its duty.

“You could say that we’re doing what we can to prevent it, by providing arms to Ukraine so it can defend itself and repulse the Russian attack,” Rock told CTVNews.ca.

“We should be, as we are, contributing to the effort to track the atrocities of Russian forces, amass evidence against them, and be prepared to cooperate and participate in any prosecution of those responsible.”

Much, much more at the link!

Here’s an explainer from the editor in chief of Ukraine World provides us with the Ukrainian perspective:

  • Not punished, not condemned, not repented, it is saying “we can repeat” instead of “never again”. And they can. Look at language they use. “Expropriation of surplus of harvest” from Kherson farmers. This is similar to Stalin’s “requisitions” of food that caused Holodomor 2/5
  • Z is for Zlo, evil. Z means Zombie Zlo. A repeating evil. An evil coming back again and again. A vicious circle of evil. 3/5
  • “Great Russian literature” knew this very well. Gogol’s “Dead souls” are about that. Merezhkovsky’s novels. Dostoyevsky’s “Demons”. Berdiaev’s philosophical works. They all described the repeating evil, vicious circle of evil with no escape. 4/5
  • This is the vicious circle of Russian history. Barbaric cruelty with no escape. Tried to build “progressive” Marxism – ended in barbaric cruelty. Tried to build oligarchic capitalism – the same. — this “no-escape” always leads to crimes. Repeated crimes 5/5

Politico has reported that Ukraine has requested armed drones from the US:

It’s not every day that the United States approves the sale or transfer of armed drones to a foreign country — but Ukraine is hoping the Biden administration will heed the call of soldiers on the groundto do just that.

In addition to heavy artillery and rocket systems, Ukrainian officials are also asking the United States for “strike drones” — specifically the
and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, with “appropriate munitions” like the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense told POLITICO in a statement on Wednesday.

“We are awaiting positive results,” according to the ministry.

The Pentagon has already sent Ukraine a number of small, expendable Switchblade drones and the new Phoenix Ghost, a similar capability. But officials say they also want the more sophisticated Reaper and Gray Eagle, which can cover farther distances, fly at greater altitude, and be reloaded for additional missions.

Ukraine has already reportedly had discussions with General Atomics, the drone manufacturer, to obtain these systems. But any sale or transfer would require sign-off by the U.S. government, specifically the State Department and the Pentagon. And for any weapons request, that’s easier said than done — DoD officials must weigh a number of variables in deciding whether to grant the request, including concerns of escalation, technology sensitivities and shareability, as well as whether the Ukrainians would actually be able to use the capability.

Asked whether the United States would provide the Reaper and Gray Eagles to Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby declined to comment on the deliberations.

Armed drones are a particularly complicated ask because they are subject to strict regulations, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which requires that exports of most missile systems, from cruise missiles to the larger unmanned aircraft, are subject to a “strong presumption of denial.”

That means any missile or drone that can carry a 500 kilogram payload with a range of 300 kilometers should not be transferred from one country to another.

These restrictions have hobbled sales of Reaper and Gray Eagle to even some of the United States’ partners, including Qatar and Indonesia — so such a transfer to Ukraine seems like a stretch for now.

More at the link!

Putin has been saber rattling again! From al Jazeera English:

Western nations’ intervention in Ukraine will be met with a “lightning-quick” military response, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned.

The bellicose threat from Putin came as Russia claimed on Wednesday to have carried out a missile strike in southern Ukraine that destroyed a “large batch” of Western-supplied weapons.

Countries aiding Ukraine “that get it into their heads to meddle in ongoing events from the side and create unacceptable strategic threats for Russia, they must know that our response to counterpunches will be lightning-quick”, said the Russian leader.

“We have all the tools for this that no one else can boast of having,” Putin told lawmakers in St Petersburg, implicitly referring to Moscow’s ballistic missiles and nuclear arsenal.

“We won’t boast about it: We’ll use them if needed and I want everyone to know that. We have already taken all the decisions on this.”

Putin promised to finish what he called the “special military operation” to seize territory from Ukraine, which Moscow considers historically to be Russian. He blamed NATO nations and their allies for instigating the battle currently under way in Ukraine.

“The countries that have historically tried to contain Russia don’t need a self-sufficient, massive country such as ours. They think it is dangerous to them just by means of its existence. But that is far from the truth. They are the ones threatening the whole world,” said Putin.

By launching the offensive in Ukraine, Russian forces neutralised “a real danger of … a major conflict that would have unfolded on our territory according to other people’s scripts”, said Putin.

He alleged NATO planned to use Ukraine as a route to invade Russia through the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and the separatist-held eastern Donbas border region.

“All the tasks of the special military operation we are conducting in the Donbas and Ukraine, launched on February 24, will be unconditionally fulfilled,” Putin said, adding Western attempts to “economically strangle Russia” through sanctions had failed.

More at the link.

Earlier today The Financial Times reported that Ukraine’s intelligence services have warned that Putin intends to destablize Moldova via the Transnistrian separatists.

Russia is planning hybrid attacks to destabilise the pro-western government of Moldova, Ukrainian and Moldovan officials have warned, as a series of explosions rocked the country’s Russian-controlled separatist enclave of Transnistria bordering Ukraine.

The warning of Russian influence operations designed to promote pro-Kremlin forces comes as the Moldovan president blamed “pro-war forces” for attacks in Transnistria.

Russia said last week that its new goals from its more than two-month-long invasion of Ukraine included capturing the country’s southern coastline and creating “another way” to Transnistria. Western intelligence officials have warned that Moscow could use troops stationed in the separatist region to stage attacks on Ukraine.

“They have a plan to destabilise Moldova,” said a Ukrainian intelligence official, citing surveillance on agents of Russia’s spy agency FSB operating in the country.

The official assessed that the destabilisation operation could peak around May 9, when Russia commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Germany in the second world war. “[Russia] can attack Moldova at any time. They have this option on the table,” the official said.

Moldova’s pro-EU government led by President Maia Sandu is aware of FSB activities and is preparing to counter possible efforts by Moscow to attempt political destabilisation activities in the coming weeks, according to two officials briefed on internal discussions.

“Politics, energy, Transnistria: they are all options for them,” said one of the officials.

Sandu convened a meeting of Moldova’s security council on Tuesday in response to a rocket-propelled grenade attack on an administrative building in Transnistria’s capital on Monday night and explosions that destroyed two radio masts in the self-proclaimed republic on Tuesday morning.

“These escalation attempts stem from factions from within the Transnistrian region who are pro-war forces and interested in destabilising the situation in the region,” Sandu told reporters after the meeting.

“This makes the Transnistrian region vulnerable and poses risks to the Republic of Moldova,” she added.

Ukraine’s military intelligence service attributed the RPG attack to “provocative measures organised by the FSB [to] justify the war on the territory of Ukraine or involve the Transnistrian region in hostilities”.

Much more at the link!

I don’t think Putin has the conventional land or air power capability left to do a lot of damage. All he’s got left is submarine and ship based capability, as well as the hypersonics in Kaliningrad both with and without nukes on them, and the rest of Russia’s nukes. However, he does have the ability to create and spread chaos. This is what the Wagner bubbas, the locals they’ve brought from Syria and from across the Sahel, and Kadyrov’s rabid Chechniks are for. He also still has his wet work program. So while successfully opening a second front by attacking Moldova is largely something outside of Putin’s actual capabilities right now, creating chaos that would destabilize Moldova is clearly not out of the question. And that chaos can do a lot of damage.

Mariupol’s defenders are still hanging on at the Azovstal complex!

Kherson:

Odesa:

Dnipro:

Solomiyka raised half the cost for one set of body armor/armored tactical vest for a Ukrainian soldier. Her mother was able to crowdfund the rest!

Once again our Antipodean archeologist, The Mighty Trowel, has provided us with this update about work to preserve Ukrainian antiquities and heritage as the Ukrainians defend against Russia’s reinvasion. From The Guardian:

Satellite scrutiny of Ukraine is not just focused on military hardware. Thousands of miles away from the fighting, an international group of archaeologists, historians and technicians are quietly coordinating another high-stakes monitoring effort: the tracking of the mounting losses to Ukraine’s cultural landscape.

Now an impact summary, released this month from their lab at a museum in the US state of Virginia, has revealed the bleak truth.

So far, signs of damage to 191 cultural landmarks and venues have been detected. Most of the destruction – believed to have been carried out by invading Russian troops – has concentrated on Ukrainian memorials and places of worship. Fifty-eight churches, mosques, temples and cathedrals have now been listed, along with 111 memorial sites and nine public monuments. The war has also seen two arts venues attacked – including the theatre at Mariupol, images of which went around the world – and one archaeological site. Violence directed at monuments and buildings might seem insignificant compared to the growing toll of injury and death inflicted on Ukrainian families, but for a country in the shadow of a threatening neighbour, culture and heritage can play a crucial role. The deliberate targeting of religious and cultural sites is also prohibited by the 1954 Hague Convention, although individual perpetrators have rarely been punished.

The Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab, at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, is the hub for coordinating worldwide attempts to register and protect landmarks at risk. The network was set up last year in partnership with the acclaimed Smithsonian Institution Cultural Rescue Initiative, founded in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which works to train museum curators around the world to react to conflict.

News of any affected site goes back to Ukraine immediately in case the damage to artefacts can be limited, or at least documented on the ground. Inside Ukraine’s museums, many cabinets containing Byzantine icons and Scythian gold have been moved. Valuable artwork has been hidden in basements or moved secretly to supportive foreign museums. Other national collections are guarded by wardens who are now armed and ready to repel looters.

The operation in Virginia draws on the expertise of curators from America and Europe and is led by archaeologist Hayden Bassett. “It’s a 24/7 operation,” he recently told the Washington Post. “Even though we might not be staring at a screen at 3am, our satellites are imaging at 3am.”

Brian Daniels, an anthropologist working with the team in Virginia, said the rate of attacks had increased dramatically since the report’s publication. He told the Observer: “The violence is now concentrating on civilian infrastructure and this means museums and cultural heritage are targeted in this scorched-earth policy.”

Bassett has seen significant cultural damage to the more densely populated areas, including the complete destruction of a museum in Ivankiv two months ago.

Much more at the link!

That’s enough of the serious stuff for one day. So let’s wrap this up!

Your semi daily Patron.

You’re semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 63: Russia Continues To Attack In the East & the Biden Administration Manages To Bring a Captured Marine Veteran Home appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 62: The Defense of Ukraine on the 36th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Disaster

(Drawing of Patron by Chetyrina Kate)

Before we get going with tonight’s update, I think we need to take a minute and discuss something. Specifically, if you feel the urge to be anything but polite to commenter Gin&Tonic stop, take a deep breath, and just don’t do it. So that he does not have to once again explain, G&T has relatives in Ukraine in harm’s way. One of them is in the Ukrainian Army and is currently deployed fighting the Russians who have reinvaded Ukraine. If he tells you something about Ukraine it is because he’s a Ukrainian who is also an American. I get it, it’s Balloon Juice where people will argue about anything for any reason and we pride ourselves on maintaining the tradition of the not forgotten commenter efgoldman in terms of how we communicate. But in this case just don’t do it. Given what he’s dealing with in terms of uncertainty around his relatives’ safety and well being when we’re lucky enough that he decides to comment in a post about Ukraine, which is usually to provide insider insight just take it in. Maybe tell him you’re keeping good thoughts for his family. Maybe thank him for the insight he’s providing. I’d like to believe I won’t have to post something like this again, but let’s be honest with ourselves about who we are. This is the place where people show up in the recipe posts to tell me or TaMara that we’re not making whatever recipe we’ve posted correctly. You know who you are…

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the video of President Zelenskyy’s address to Ukraine from earlier this evening. Subtitled as always with the transcript to follow the jump.

Ukrainians!

All our defenders!

Every year on April 26, the world remembers the Chornobyl disaster. The worst nuclear disaster in human history.

But this year it is not enough to just remember Chornobyl. And it is not enough to say traditional words of gratitude to the heroes-liquidators. It is not enough to remind why and how the catastrophe became possible. It is not enough to repeat the conclusions that every intelligent person and every adequate society must draw.

Because this year, Russia has created new threats that could surpass even the worst accident.

I remember the night of March 4, when it became known about the fire at the Zaporizhzhia NPP.

When Russian tanks fired at the station. They knew exactly which object they were firing at. But they had an order to seize the object at any cost.

They did not care about anything. They did not care that the Zaporizhzhia station is the largest in Europe. They didn’t think about how many power units there are and how the shelling could end.

That night I spoke with world leaders. With everyone who could influence the events and stop Russia. I spoke with President Biden, with Chancellor Scholz, with President of the European Council Charles Michel, with President of Poland Andrzej Duda… I spoke with IAEA Director General Mr. Grossi.

If the world had not woken up that night, we would not mention Chornobyl today, because everyone would think about what Russia has done at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

It is even surprising how quickly and completely Russia, the whole country, can forget about the worst catastrophe that its people have experienced as well.

Not only Ukrainians were involved in the liquidation of the consequences of the Chornobyl accident in 1986. But also Belarusians, Russians and others.

That catastrophe should have been told about in Russian schools as well. They should have reminded about it in Russia every year on April 26, as is done throughout the civilized world.

Instead, today they launched three missiles against Ukraine so that they flew directly over the blocks of our nuclear power plants. Over three nuclear power plants at once. Over Zaporizhzhia, Khmelnytskyi and South-Ukrainian NPPs. What is it? Are they threatening? Are they targeting? There are no words…

It turns out they do not realize what Chornobyl is. At all.

Russian troops that were trying to attack Kyiv through the Chornobyl zone used the restricted area as a military base.

They set up positions on land where it is forbidden to even stand. They drove armored vehicles through areas where radiation-contaminated materials are buried and where the number of radioactive particles is simply horrendous. They destroyed the dosimetric control points. The Chornobyl radiation monitoring system was broken and looted. They looted a nuclear analytical laboratory…

They even stole contaminated items, which were confiscated from violators of the rules of the Exclusion Zone!

Only thanks to the professionalism and conscientiousness of our specialists working at the Chornobyl station and other facilities of the Chornobyl zone, we managed to save Ukraine, save Europe from a new catastrophe.

Only thanks to the professional team of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and our entire nuclear industry is it possible to ensure trouble-free operation of stations during the war.

Mr. Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, paid a visit to Kyiv today. We discussed all the dangers created by Russia and ways to possibly influence the situation to protect Europe and the world from completely irresponsible actions of the Russian Federation.

Today, I also awarded our heroes – shift workers at the Chornobyl station who did not leave the facility. Who maintained the work of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant despite the threat to their lives and despite the occupiers’ lack of understanding of even the basics of radiation safety.

I believe that after all that the Russian military has done in the Chornobyl zone and at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, no one in the world can feel safe knowing how many nuclear facilities, nuclear weapons and related technologies the Russian state has.

If Russia has forgotten what Chornobyl is, it means that global control over Russia’s nuclear facilities and nuclear technology is needed.

I spoke today with the Prime Minister of Japan. In particular, about the dangers created by Russia. About the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine. I thanked Japan for a strong package of sanctions, for its support and for the leadership needed to force Russia to peace and recognition of the foundations of international law. We also discussed the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and the possible role of Japan in future security agreements.

The Prime Minister of Romania paid a visit to Kyiv. I thanked him for the defensive and political support.

We discussed not only bilateral cooperation between our states and joint work to protect freedom in Europe, but also cooperation at the EU level. With Romania, we share a common vision of both prospects and threats to European unity, in particular in the Black Sea region.

We agreed to work together even harder to ensure security in our region.

An important meeting at the level of defense ministers of Ukraine’s partner countries took place in Germany today. The key issue was to strengthen the protection of the whole of Europe from Russia’s aggressive ambitions.

There are almost no people left in the free world who do not understand that Russia’s war against Ukraine is just the beginning.

The ultimate goal of Russia’s leadership is not just to seize the territory of Ukraine, but to dismember the entire center and east of Europe and deal a global blow to democracy.

Therefore, the free world has the right to self-defense. And that is why it will help Ukraine even more.

I am grateful to the United Kingdom and personally to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his prompt and positive response to our request for trade liberalization. Right now it is especially important for the support of our state.

Britain has announced the abolition of all duties and quotas on imports of Ukrainian goods. This will allow us to save thousands of jobs during the war and ensure a significant intensification of economic relations with Britain.

We expect similar decision from other partners.

I want to emphasize that this is important not only for our country, not only for each of the partner countries. This adds stability to global markets, especially the food market, which is one step away from a large-scale price crisis due to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

There is only one way to avoid the crisis: to strengthen cooperation and put pressure on Russia for it to give up this war.

Today, Russian troops continued missile strikes at our land, particularly in the Odesa region. They continued to attack our troops near Kharkiv, in Donbas. They are trying to portray an alleged “new government” in Kherson and part of the Zaporizhzhia region. They change flags, demonstrate some suicides in the role of collaborators.

And what does this give Russia? Only new losses.

There will be a new sanctions package from the European Union. There will be even more restrictions on trade. Inevitably, the vast majority of the world’s countries will abandon Russian oil and other Russian energy sources. No adequate country will want to invite Rosatom to cooperate. Most Russians will have to pay with poverty for the aggressive policy of their country’s leadership.

And I emphasize: we will identify, find and prosecute everyone – war criminals and collaborators. The longer and more brutal this war, the more resources will be spent not only by us, but also by the world to establish justice and punish all those responsible.

The time will come when Russia will have to recognize that peace is needed.

I paid a visit to Ilya Matvienko and Kira Obedinska in Okhmatdyt Hospital today. Kira is 12 years old, and Ilya turned 10 today. They lived in Mariupol until the Russian army came. Ilya’s mother was killed during the bombing of the city. Kira’s father, a well-known athlete and former captain of Ukraine’s water polo team, Yevhen Obedinsky, was killed by a sniper.

The occupiers took the children out of the city, actually abducted them, and it took a lot of effort to get them back. I am grateful to everyone who joined this cause. I am especially grateful to Iryna Vereshchuk and Andriy Yermak, who coordinated this task, to our entire team.

Now Ilya is with his grandmother, Kira is with her grandfather. Their only relatives left. We will help them with everything they need. We will help raise children.

And we will definitely do everything to return all our Ukrainian children to Ukraine. Let no one in Russia hope that Ukraine will forget or forgive the abduction of our children, the deportation of our citizens. And the destruction of Mariupol.

I also thanked Okhmatdyt’s doctors for their work. For saving lives and trying to restore children’s peace of mind under all circumstances. Thank you very much, dear doctors.

Before delivering the evening address, I traditionally signed a decree awarding our heroes. 243 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded state awards.

Eternal gratitude to all our defenders!

Eternal memory to everyone who gave life for Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

For those wondering exactly who President Zelenskyy is referring to, this is Kira and her grandfather:

Here is today’s operational update from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense (emphasis mine):

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 26, 2022

The sixty-second day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues. A russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

russian enemy continues to carry out offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to defeat the Joint Forces, establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land route with the occupied Crimea.

russian enemy continues to launch missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure.

In the Slobozhansky direction, russian enemy groups from the 6th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, the coastal troops of the Baltic and Northern Fleets continue to partially block Kharkiv and fire on it.

In the Izium direction, russian enemy units and subdivisions of the 1st Tank Army, the 20th and 35th Combined Arms Armies, the 68th Army Corps and the Airborne Forces, supported by artillery, are advancing in the direction of Barvinkove. In order to reconnoiter the positions of Ukrainian troops, russian enemy continues to use UAVs in this area.

In the areas of the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, russian occupiers continue to hold field camps to restore combat readiness and train units. According to available information, up to five battalion tactical groups of russian enemy are in the immediate vicinity of the state border of Ukraine in this area.

In the Donetsk direction, russian enemy is taking active action along almost the entire line of contact. The main efforts are focused on taking control of Rubizhne, Popasna and Marinka.

In the Severodonetsk direction, as part of the regrouping of troops in the direction of Kreminna, russian occupiers moved to a tank battalion from the 90th Tank Division, as well as a pontoon-bridge unit from the 12th separate engineering brigade of the Central Military District.

To develop the offensive in the direction of the settlement of Lyman, russian enemy is building up a group of troops.

russian invaders do not stop artillery shelling and air strikes on Mariupol. The blocking of units of our troops in the area of the Azovstal plant continues.

In the South Buh and Tavriya directions russian enemy continues to hold the occupied frontier, in some areas it tries unsuccessfully to improve the tactical position, improves the engineering equipment of its positions and carries out shelling of positions of our armies.

In the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, units of the operational group of russian troops have been put on alert “Full”, the security forces have been transferred to a reinforced mode of service.

In the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions, certain units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus perform tasks to strengthen the protection of the Ukrainian-belarusian border.

Ukrainian defenders are defending themselves and continue to systematically inflict losses on the russian occupiers.

Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s British MOD assessment:


And here’s the British MOD’s updated map:

You can see the movement south and east of Izium, which was not in the earlier updates they were making to their maps. It, as well as the British assessment for today, matches up with the Ukrainian MOD’s operational update for today that I highlighted above:

In the Izium direction, russian enemy units and subdivisions of the 1st Tank Army, the 20th and 35th Combined Arms Armies, the 68th Army Corps and the Airborne Forces, supported by artillery, are advancing in the direction of Barvinkove. In order to reconnoiter the positions of Ukrainian troops, russian enemy continues to use UAVs in this area.

The Russians are clearly trying to encircle the Joint Force Operation so they can cut it off and reduce it. The position that the JFO has been in has been problematic for several weeks now and I will continue to update on what is going on as new information comes in.

As of the time that I’m typing this up, there is no background briefing transcript from the DOD. I expect there wasn’t one again today because of the summit that Secretary Austin hosted for Ukraine’s Defense Minister and representatives of thirty-nine other allied and partnered states at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany today. We do, however, have a transcript of SecDef’s remarks.

PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY: Thanks for coming this afternoon. In a moment, I’m going to turn the microphone over to Secretary Austin, but just a couple of administrative remarks.

The secretary will have some opening comments and then we’ll have time a for a few questions. I will moderate those questions from here. I will call on the journalists. And if you could limit your follow-ups if possible — so, we’ve got a bit of a tight timeline this afternoon.

So with that, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, thanks, John.

Good afternoon, everybody.

It’s been an important day and a highly constructive one. We’ve had some great discussions in all and a lot of rich interactions among leaders throughout the day.

So let me, again, thank all of the ministers and the chiefs of defense and your teams for joining us today, especially my good friend, Ukraine’s minister of defense, Minister Reznikov and his delegation. It’s great to see you.

We’re all coming away with a transparent and shared understanding of the challenge that the Ukrainians face, and I know that we’re all determined to help Ukraine win today and build strength for tomorrow.

The work that we’ve done together in record time has made a huge difference on the battlefield. President Zelenskyy made that clear when we met Sunday in Kyiv. And countries all around the world have been stepping up to meet Ukraine’s urgent needs.

And I wanted to especially welcome a major decision by our German hosts, as Minister Lambrecht announced just today that Germany will send Ukraine some 50 Cheetah anti-aircraft systems.

And yesterday, of course, the British government announced that it would provide Ukraine with additional anti-aircraft capabilities as well. And today, Canada announced that it will send Ukraine eight armored vehicles.

And so that’s important progress. And we’re seeing more every day. And I applaud all the countries that have risen and are rising to meet this demand. But we don’t have any time to waste.

The briefings today laid out clearly why the coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine. So we’ve got to move at the speed of war.

And I know that all the leaders leave today more resolved than ever to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and atrocities. And I know that we’re all determined to do even more to better coordinate our efforts. So I was especially glad to hear General Wolters encourage us all to make more determined use of EUCOM’s coordination mechanism.

Now, to ensure that we continue to build on our progress, we’re going to extend this forum beyond today. I’m proud to announce that today’s gathering will become a monthly contact group on Ukraine’s self defense, and the contact group will be a vehicle for nations of good will to intensify our efforts and coordinate our assistance and focus on winning today’s fight and the struggles to come. The monthly meetings may be in person, virtual or mixed, and they’ll extend the transparency, the integration and the dialogue that we saw today.

And let me underscore another key point. We held an important session today on the long term support for Ukraine’s defenses, including what that will take from our defense industrial bases. That means dealing with the tremendous demand that we’re facing for munitions and weapons platforms and giving our staunch support to Ukraine while also meeting our own requirements and those of our allies and partners, but it also means redoubling our common efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s military for the long haul, and I look forward to our discussions in the contact group and elsewhere about how to get that done right.

Let me again thank all of the countries who came together today. They’ve done crucial work and they sent a powerful signal. We’re going to build on today’s progress and continue to reach out to nations of good will to help Ukraine defend itself and we’ll continue working transparently and urgently with our allies and partners and we’ll continue pushing to support and strengthen the Ukrainian military for the battles ahead.

So we leave tonight strengthened and so does Ukraine. And thank you and I’ll be glad to take your questions.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Our first question today will come from Sylvie Lanteaume, AFP. Do you have a microphone?

Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, actually I have a double question for you. Moldova is stepping up its security measures after a series of explosions in the separatist region of Trans-Dniester. Do you think there is a risk of spillover of the conflict to Moldova?

And my second question is after this big meeting about arming Ukraine, are you — are you concerned that Putin may become restless and threaten again to use a nuclear weapon?

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, on the issue of spillover to Moldova because of what we’ve seen here, a reporting of recent violence, we’re still looking to the cause of that, that’s still — you know, still doing analysis there. So not really sure what that’s all about but we’ll — that’s something that we’ll stay focused on. And certainly we don’t want to see any spillover, and again, it’s important to make sure that we do everything that we can to ensure that Ukraine is successful. And that’s the best way to address that.

And the — your second part of the question there, Sylvie, was?

Q: Was about the risk for Putin to threaten to use a nuclear weapon?

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, you know, you’ve heard us say a number of times that that kind of rhetoric is very dangerous and unhelpful. Nobody wants to see a nuclear war happen. It’s a war that, you know, where all sides lose.

And so rattling of sabers and, you know, dangerous rhetoric is clearly unhelpful and something that we won’t engage in.

MR. KIRBY: Our next question goes to Susan Galhart from ZDF.

Q: Mr. Secretary, what military aid do you now — oh — Mr. Secretary, what military aid do you now expect from the German government? And do you think the delivery of Leopard tanks is sufficient, in your opinion?

SEC. AUSTIN: You mean Cheetahs, which is what the — yeah.

Well, let me just say that — and I think you probably heard me say this before as I visited Germany — I consider Germany to be a great friend and an ally.

And, you know, I’ve served in Germany as an officer and worked with German forces and it’s always been a real pleasure to work alongside our German partners here. Now, I think it’s significant that, you know, Germany announced that it was going to provide 50 Cheetah systems. I think those systems will provide real capability for Ukraine.

And in terms of what else Germany will do going forward, again, that’s a sovereign decision, one that the German leadership will make, and I don’t want to speculate on that. I just believe that just based upon everything that I’ve seen in my interaction with the Minister of Defense and how intently she’s been focused on making sure that she can do everything that she can to help and work alongside her partners and allies, that she’ll continue to look for ways to be relevant and provide good capability to the Ukrainians as they continue to prosecute this fight.

This next question and the answer is important, so if you’re skimming or just sort of scrolling through PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!

MR. KIRBY: Our next question goes to John Ismay, New York Times.

Q: Mr. Secretary, yesterday you mentioned that one of the United States’ goals in Ukraine now was to see Russia weakened. Can you explain more fully what that means? And specifically, what do you want to weaken and how you would measure success in that regard?

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah, John, so I think we’ve been pretty clear from the outset — we do want to make it harder for Russia to threaten its neighbors, and leave them less able to do that.

Now, if you look at what’s transpired here in this 62 days or so that Ukraine and Russia have been involved in this struggle here, Russia has — in terms of its land forces, their land forces have been attrited in a very significant way — casualties are pretty substantial, they’ve lost a lot of equipment, they’ve used a lot of precision-guided munitions, they’ve lost a major surface combatant. And so they are, in fact, in terms of military capability, weaker than when this started.

You know, John, it will be harder for them to replace some of this capability as they go forward because of the sanctions and the trade restrictions that have been placed on them. And so, we would like to make sure, again, that they don’t have the same type of capability to bully their neighbors that we saw at the outset of this conflict.

The rest of the Q&A at the link!

This last question and answer is important as it clarifies in some ways, but not in others, Secretary Austin’s statement from yesterday about one of the stated end states of the war. Which is to ensure that Russia emerges from the war without the capability to ever threaten any of its neighbor’s again. A lot of the usual suspects immediately latched on to that statement as proof that their conspiracy theories that the US actually started the war, that it is a war of American aggression and conquest to destroy Russia, Ukraine is just its dupe, Russia is both blameless and has no agency, and everyone should stop supporting Ukraine’s defense of its state and society and citizenry because the US IS BAD!!!!

Unfortunately one of these chuckleheads is in the US Senate!

The Pauls, father and son, have long histories with post Soviet Russia and being apologists for Putin, so this shouldn’t be surprising.

Mariupol:

We appear, if you hold your head at just the right angle and squint, to have an agreement between the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Putin to create a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the Ukrainians sheltering at the Azovstal plant. From Reuters:

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to U.N. and International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) involvement in the evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in Ukraine’s southern city of Mariupol, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

During a meeting in Moscow, Putin and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed the situation at the huge Azovstal steel plant, where the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are hunkered down after months of Russian siege and bombardment.

“Follow-on discussions will be had with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defence Ministry,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement after the meeting.

Earlier on Tuesday, Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that there were no military operations underway in Mariupol and that Kyiv should “take responsibility” for the people holed up in the Azovstal steel plant.

Ukraine on Monday appealed for the United Nations and the ICRC to be involved in the evacuation of civilians from Azovstal. Guterres is expected to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Thursday. read more

During a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Guterres said he has proposed a “Humanitarian Contact Group” of Russia, Ukraine and U.N. officials “to look for opportunities for the opening of safe corridors, with local cessations of hostilities, and to guarantee that they are actually effective.”

“In principle” is doing a LOT of work in that opening sentence!

I expect that just like every other humanitarian or green corridor that the Russians have agreed to regarding Mariupol or Kharkiv or Kherson or Mykolaiv or Melitopol or any other Ukrainian town or city that this is all a ruse. Diplomacy here is being used as a weapon to both buy time and, if possible, to get the Ukrainians to once again think there will be a humanitarian corridor and an evacuation is going to happen. Which provides Russia with an easy target. At this point, no matter how desperate President Zelenskyy may be to evacuate the Mariupolians sheltering at the Azovstal complex and their defenders from the Azov Regiment and the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, there is no way he or anyone else in the Ukrainian government is going to fall for this again.

 

Kyiv:

The head fell off the Russian guy in the statue while they were dismantling it.

Luhansk:

Melitopol:

Anywhere/everywhere the Russians have occupied in Ukraine:

Which is why this is good news:

I expect the Ukrainians will ensure that justice will be done.

Germany finally appears to have gotten the stick out! From Politico Europe:

BERLIN — The German government said Tuesday it will deliver anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine after facing strong pressure at home and abroad to abandon its reluctance to supply heavy weapons to Kyiv.

The decision to provide the “Gepard” tanks, which come from German defense industry stocks, was made at a closed-door government meeting on Monday, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told reporters at a Ukraine security conference at a U.S. airbase in Ramstein, Germany. There was no immediate information on how many tanks Germany would deliver.

The announcement marks a notable shift for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who as recently as last week was still ruling out sending German tanks to Ukraine, insisting it would make more sense for Eastern NATO countries to give Kyiv old Soviet-era tanks already familiar to the Ukrainian military. Scholz promised Germany would then send those countries replacement German tanks.

He also cited the risk of nuclear war as a reason for his hesitance to directly ship German tanks into the war zone.

Scholz had come under growing pressure in recent days to change course, both from international allies and from within his governing coalition, which is comprised of his Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). The Greens have been pushing for weeks to deliver heavy weaponry to Ukraine and the FDP also spoke out in favor of sending such weapons at a party convention over the weekend.

Adding further pressure, the main opposition party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is planning to submit a parliamentary motion this week demanding Germany supply Ukraine with tanks. The move could have drawn support from Green and FDP lawmakers and led to a critical defeat for Scholz in parliament, undermining trust in his government.

Moreover, allies like the U.S., France and the Netherlands have already promised heavier weapons to Ukraine, meaning Germany risked becoming increasingly isolated with its resistance.

Speaking in Ramstein, Lambrecht, who is from Scholz’s SPD party, acknowledged, “there has also been criticism of Germany in recent weeks in this context,” but argued that “the numbers” of overall German weapon deliveries to Ukraine, which include anti-tank and anti-air missiles, “speak a different language.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the same press conference that Western allies “can do more … to help Ukraine defend itself,” lauding Kyiv’s sustained resistance.

The Gepard, a tank with two 35-millimeter anti-air cannons that can be upgraded with “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles, was phased out from the German army more than 10 years ago. But many of these tanks are still parked at German defense company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, which has signaled interest in refurbishing the vehicles and selling them to Ukraine.

However, one potential problem could be Switzerland, a key supplier of ammunition for the Gepard. The country has banned the export of such ammo to Ukraine, as Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger reported on Tuesday.

More at the link!

Here’s an interesting piece from The Financial Times that drills into Putin’s decision making and his mindset. (emphasis mine)

Vladimir Putin has lost interest in diplomatic efforts to end his war with Ukraine and instead appears set on seizing as much territory as possible, according to three people briefed on conversations with the Russian president.

Putin, who was seriously considering a peace deal with Ukraine after Russia suffered battlefield setbacks last month, has told people involved in trying to end the conflict that he sees no prospects for a settlement.

“Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears on [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said a person briefed on the talks.

Though Moscow and Kyiv agreed their first draft communique at a meeting in Istanbul in late March, talks stalled after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of committing war crimes against civilians in cities such as Bucha and Mariupol.

Putin said peace efforts were at a “dead end” and was infuriated after Ukraine sank the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, according to two people.

“There was hope for a deal. Putin was going back and forth. He needs to find a way to come out of this a winner,” one of the people said.

After the Moskva sank, “Putin was against signing anything. [ . . . ] after the Moskva he doesn’t look like a winner, because it was humiliating,” the person added.

Ukrainian and western officials had always doubted Putin’s commitment to peace talks, suspecting it was a way of buying time for Moscow’s offensive.

The Russian president appears to hold a distorted view of the war as set out by his generals and depicted on Russian television, the people briefed on conversations with him said.

They added that he insisted, despite all evidence to the contrary, that his forces have not targeted civilians during attacks such as the siege of the Azovstal steelworks, Ukrainian forces’ last holdout in the largely destroyed city of Mariupol.

But Putin told Michel in a call on Friday that the talks had run aground because Ukraine “put up a wall”, and said it “was not the right time” to meet Zelensky, according to a person briefed on that conversation.

Negotiators interpreted that as meaning Moscow believes it can capture more territory, rather than being an indication that the talks need more time to find areas of agreement.

Putin is avoiding the meeting with Zelensky “with all his might”, a person involved in the peace talks said. “He wants everything to be decided before their personal meeting.”

Officials in Kyiv are concerned Putin may go further than Russia’s stated goal of capturing the eastern Donbas border region and instead try to seize the whole of the south-east, cutting Ukraine off from the sea, according to people involved in trying to end the war.

Ukraine is confident it can push Russian troops back further after defeating Putin’s initial plan to rapidly seize the country, but officials are increasingly worried that Moscow could resort to tactical nuclear weapons if it suffers further setbacks, two of the people said.

More at the link!

I want to focus on two different things here. They’re related. The first is that Putin may appear delusional to us, but within the alternative history and mythology that he’s both bought into regarding Russia’s origins, how Ukraine relates to that alternate history and mythology, and that he’s expanded and augmented in his own speeches and essays over the past twenty-years Putin is actually acting rationally. This is what Max Weber referred to as bounded rationality. Specifically, that decisions that seemed irrational to people outside of the context in which the decisions were being made – whether psychologically, in regard to maximizing one’s preferences/utility (economic/econometric rationality), or a combination of the two –  they were actually perfectly rational to those inside of the context from which the decisions were being made. To all of us who are not Putin or not Russians who have been marinating in the propaganda that his governments have been pushing out for the past twenty years, some of it built on the garbage history of World War II that the Soviet Union created, what he’s doing seems completely off. It seems irrational, unreasonable, in some cases delusional. But to Putin and his supporters in Russia this is perfectly rational and reasonable.

The second point, which flows from the first, is that the Ukrainians, as well as the US and our NATO and EU partners and non-NATO and non-EU partners that are all supporting Ukraine, have to deal with this reality: that Putin is rational and acting rationally, but only within his own context. And it is this reality that leads to the final paragraph I copied and pasted from the article and that I bolded and italicized:

Ukraine is confident it can push Russian troops back further after defeating Putin’s initial plan to rapidly seize the country, but officials are increasingly worried that Moscow could resort to tactical nuclear weapons if it suffers further setbacks, two of the people said.

This gets to the discussion from last night. It is not that I expect Putin will use low yield nukes to just destroy as much of Ukraine as possible should it finally become clear to him that he’s lost and lost big. It is that given that as an outside analyst of the context that Putin has created for himself and Russia, I have to keep the unthinkable in mind because for Putin it may just be thinkable. And that is aside from the fact that I’m one of the analysts who after spending a lot of the last eight years working on this problem set in one way or another has come to believe that the whole ambiguity in Russian military doctrine about using nukes tactically is a ruse to set the information portions of the theater and freeze our decision making thereby forcing us to limit our options because we think it could quickly escalate to a nuclear exchange.

I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities to discuss this before this is all over. Hopefully it will remain a discussion of what if, not what actually is!

Whomever this Ukrainian Soldier is, he’s a badass!

Your semi daily Patron:

And we’ll finish with your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 62: The Defense of Ukraine on the 36th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Disaster appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 61: Ukraine’s Defense Enters Its Third Month

As the first day of the third month of Ukraine’s defense against Putin’s reinvasion begins, I want to clear something up from the comments from last night’s post. Just before 4 AM EDT, commenter bjacques posted the following comment:

I can’t even imagine a nuke being even tactically useful for Russia. Anywhere they dropped one the fallout would blow over Russia, Belarus, or even (if Odesa) into Transnistria, if weather reports are accurate. And what good is a land bridge if even your cannonfodder won’t cross the irradiated chunk of it? And Putin must know that’s a red line even for his most loyal cronies and guards.

Instead of spinning “what-ifs” to worry about Putin (Huylo) using nukes, I might as well spin them for the opposite, especially since I’m no expert and not paid to do either.

This was in response to my noting the reporting that the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned the Canadian government that the US is planning a WMD attack in Ukraine. The tweet that this was reported in listed chemical, biological, and nuclear. Since I’ve not seen the communique, I cannot say whether Russia warned about all three or just chemical and biological or just chemical or biological. I did comment that pretty much everyone responding to that reporting, including myself, interpreted it as Russia is planning a CBRN – chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear – attack in Ukraine. CBRN is a doctrinal term for any attack using one or more types of weapons within these four categories. It is used because WMD – weapons of mass destruction – is imprecise and usually misleading. We have plenty of conventional weaponry that can cause much, much more mass destruction than a lot of chemical and biological agents. Or even just a dirty bomb/radiological weapon.

I want to be really clear: I do not expect that Russia is going to just use a low yield nuclear weapon willy nilly in Ukraine. In fact I’m one of the people who has come to conclude over the years that the purposeful ambiguity in Russia’s military doctrine about the use of nuclear weapons is intended solely to freeze US and NATO decision making, thereby forcing us to take significant offensive options off the table, which allows Putin to then continue to do what he’s been doing since at least 2008. What I do think Russia is likely to do, based on how Putin has waged war in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Libya, and since 2014 in Ukraine, is use chemical and/or biological weapons. The only reason I think Putin would use nuclear weapons in his reinvasion of Ukraine is if, as I’ve stated several times, he reaches the conclusion that he cannot take it, he cannot occupy it, he cannot destroy it using conventional weaponry as part of his “if I can’t have Ukraine, no one can” fixation, then, and only then, would he use nuclear weapons. And that’s based more on the decision to do so fitting with his self-deluding understanding of and relationship to Ukraine than on anything in Russian military doctrine.

I apologize for the confusion! And that it kept bjacques up till 4 AM EDT! Get some rest!!!!

Here’s tonight’s address from President Zelenskyy. The transcript will follow after the jump.

Unbreakable people of the bravest country in the world!

Today the third month of our war for our independence began. Russian-Ukrainian war. The third month!

On February 24, most in the world did not even believe that we would withstand more than a week. Someone said – three days. A month ago, we still had to convince different countries that betting on Ukraine means winning. And now… Now everyone knows it.

Thanks to the courage, wisdom of our defenders, thanks to the courage of all Ukrainian men, all Ukrainian women our state is a real symbol of struggle for freedom. Everyone in the world – and even those who do not openly support us – agree that it is in Ukraine that the fate of Europe, the fate of global security, the fate of the democratic system is being decided. And above all, it is being decided what life in the center and east of our continent will be like and whether there will be life at all.

Bucha, Borodyanka, Hostomel, Okhtyrka, Chernihiv and Sumy, Izyum, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Zolote, Severodonetsk, Rubizhne, Popasna and Mariupol… Missiles aimed at Odesa and Kramatorsk, Zhytomyr, Lviv, Kremenchuk and Kryvyi Rih… In all Ukraine’s cities and communities, Russia has shown what it really wants and can bring to Europe. What it can bring to Chișinău, Tbilisi, Helsinki, Vilnius, Warsaw, Prague, all the cities and countries that Russian state propagandists have long openly identified as alleged enemies for Moscow.

Russia has launched an offensive against Ukraine in many directions. Missile strikes, air raids, artillery, tanks – everything! Russian troops did not spare anything, any means to kill us, kill Ukrainians and destroy our land.

In two months, they used more than 1100 missiles against us. Countless bombs and artillery. They tortured, robbed, executed. They mined our land. Peaceful cities and villages were turned into hell. Some Ukrainian cities and communities were destroyed to the ground. But they did not achieve anything. And they will not achieve.

Kherson, Kakhovka, Melitopol, Dniprorudne, Enerhodar and our other cities where the Russian occupiers temporarily entered didn’t obey them. People showed with their protest their attitude towards the occupiers, showed that Ukraine will definitely win.

Russia wants to play a sham “referendum” somewhere on our land? Even if they try, it will be as shameful as everything else that was “created” in Moscow for the occupation of Ukraine.

Kharkiv region, Donetsk, Luhansk – the Russian military didn’t see even the slightest support they had hoped for anywhere. But they saw that it is a completely different state. They saw that there are completely different people here. People who are confident. Who believe in their state. Who know how to respect others because they respect themselves. Who do not want to capture someone else’s land, but will not give anything of their own. Who will protect every city, every street, every field.

In two months of hostilities 9 thousand 781 defenders of Ukraine were awarded state awards. The title of Hero of Ukraine was awarded to 142 of our defenders.

Ukrainian men and women have shown a truly massive readiness to defend Ukraine. At any age, any property status, with any education – Ukrainian men and women equally stood up for the state.

This war has truly become a people’s war for Ukraine. And it showed that throughout our territory – from east to west, from north to south – the Ukrainian idea is equally strong, equally national.

As of this time, 931 settlements have already been de-occupied. Many cities and communities are still under the temporary control of the Russian army. But I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before we liberate our land.

Russia can spend enormous resources to support the war. To oppose even the whole free world. It can take away from its people everything that could develop Russia itself, and direct this potential to destroy the lives of neighbors.

But the lessons of history are well known. If you are going to build a millennial Reich, you lose. If you are going to destroy the neighbors, you lose. If you want to restore the old empire, you lose. And if you go against the Ukrainians, you lose.

A global anti-war coalition was formed in two months. Sanctions have already been imposed on Russia, which have taken away its future. Ukraine receives assistance from dozens of countries. This is support in the form of weapons, finances, necessary goods, political support directly.

We are accelerating our movement to the European Union as much as possible. We have already passed a historic moment, an important stage – with the receipt and answering a special questionnaire, which was provided to each country before they acquired the status of a candidate for EU membership.

Even now, when the war is still going on, we are creating the necessary base for the reconstruction of Ukraine. These are international agreements of various levels, this is the creation of special funds for the reconstruction of our state.

Even now, when Russia is still trying to seize our territory, we are demonstrating that we will give free Ukraine more opportunities for development than Russia can give not only to the occupied part of our territory, but also to its own territory, its own state.

It is obvious that every day – and especially today, when the third month of our resistance has begun – everyone in Ukraine is concerned about peace. About when all this will be over. About when and what can be a victory for Ukraine.

There is and at the same time there is no simple answer to this question. When we gain a victory, everyone will feel it. When peace comes, everyone will see it. But for this to happen – and happen faster – we need to think not about when and what it will be. We must think every day about how to make the stay of the occupiers on our land even more unbearable.

Ukraine is ready for peace. It was ready even when the war was going on in Donbas. It is ready even now, when the Russian invasion has become full-scale.

But for Russia to seek peace, every Ukrainian must still fight. They must defend freedom. Because every day of struggle now adds years of peaceful life after this war. After our victory.

As always, before delivering the address, I signed decrees awarding our heroes. 269 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and 9 servicemen of the Main Intelligence Directorate were awarded state awards.

Eternal glory to all who stood up for the state!

Eternal gratitude to all who help us endure!

Eternal memory to everyone who gave life for Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s the daily operational update from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense:

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 25, 2022

The sixy-first day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues. A russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

russian enemy continues to carry out offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to defeat the Joint Forces, establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land route with the occupied Crimea.

russian troops, including strategic bombers, ships and submarines, are launching missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure. They are trying to destroy the ways of supplying military-technical assistance from partner states. To do this, concentrate strikes on railway junctions.

russian enemy continues to increase the long-range air defense system by moving additional anti-aircraft missile systems from the territory of the russian federation, trying to create stocks of ammunition, logistics and special engineering equipment.

The russian command does not stop searching for ways to replenish personnel losses in units directly involved in the war on the territory of Ukraine.

There were no significant changes in the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions. No signs of enemy offensive formations were found.

In the Slobozhanshchyna region, Kharkiv is being partially blocked, its infrastructure is being destroyed, and the positions of the defenders of the Kharkiv region are being destroyed with the use of aircraft and artillery.

In the area of the city of Izyum, the enemy tried to improve the tactical situation in the directions Andriyivka – Zavody and Dibrovne – Kurulka. Carries out measures of logistical support of the group of occupiers.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, russian enemy, intensifying shelling with available means of fire destruction, tried to advance deep into the territory of Ukraine in the areas of the settlements of Koroviy Yar and Rubizhne, to develop an offensive in the direction of Zaporizhzhia. It was unsuccessful and suffered losses.

In Mariupol, including strategic bombers, ships and submarines enemy continues to destroy the city, blocking locals and some of our defenders in the area of the Azovstal plant.

In the South Bug direction, russian enemy is concentrating its main efforts on the Kherson-Mykolayiv and Kherson-Kryvyi Rih directions. Conducts regrouping of troops, consolidates on the ground, strengthens the grouping of barrel and jet artillery, accumulates ammunition and fuel.

In the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region, in the urban-type settlement of Velyka Oleksandrivka, the occupiers announced to the local population that it was necessary to leave the settlement by April 28. Forced evacuation will be applied to residents who do not comply with the order.

In the temporarily occupied territory of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, in the city of Enerhodar, employees of the Federal Security Service of the russian federation continue to carry out filtration activities.

In the temporarily occupied territories of Kharkiv and Luhansk oblasts, the occupiers are engaged in looting, theft and robbery of the local population. Particular attention is paid to the “removal” of alcoholic beverages and food.

Ukrainian defenders are defending and inflicting losses on enemy troops in areas where active hostilities continue.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together! Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s assessment from the British Ministry of Defense:

And here’s their updated map for today:

As you can see the Russians are still pushing on the salient formed by the Ukrainian Joint Force Operation’s lines between Izium and Luhansk. You’ll notice one change from yesterday to today is a strike just south of Kramatorsk. I saw one report by someone using their own name who is doing and posting their own maps of the war that Russia has broken through the Ukrainian lines near Izium and is trying to cut the railway lines to the Donbas. I’ve yet to see this reported elsewhere and while I appreciate that the person who posted it uses his own name, is legit – as in I can validate what he claims about himself working in the nat-sec world – and claims to be working off of updated Google Earth and other open source satellite imagery, until this is verified by even more credible sources, this is something to be concerned about, to keep in mind, but not to freak out about. Yet.

While I wouldn’t expect them to give away too much, this is what the Ukrainian MOD said about the fighting in the Izium area, copied and pasted from today’s operational update:

In the area of the city of Izyum, the enemy tried to improve the tactical situation in the directions Andriyivka – Zavody and Dibrovne – Kurulka. Carries out measures of logistical support of the group of occupiers.

Given that the Russians are trying hard to destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure, it would not surprise me at all that they would try to disrupt the rail lines linking Ukraine to the Donbas. They did this today:

There was no DOD background briefing today, at least if there was one the transcript hasn’t been posted yet because everyone is traveling back from Ukraine. There was one yesterday, but it largely dealt with the trip and the meetings and what was discussed that could be revealed on background.

Also, I’m not sure most people realize just how big Secretary Austin is!

Mariupol:

Ukrainians displaced from Mariupol:

  • Just wanted you to be sure that the money you donate to Ukrainian volunteers get to those in need. We are mostly fine and honest people. Thank you all for your help
  • Here you can find more pictures of them reporting what was done for Mariupol residents. facebook.com/10000180936247

Kharkiv:

Odesa:

From the BBC:

Yuriy Glodan had only left his flat and family to go to the shops when he heard the news of the explosion.

At the entrance to his block of flats he screamed at police to let him inside the burning building. When he reached his flat, he found the bodies of his wife and her mother, killed by a Russian missile that had ripped into the lower floors of the block.

The body of his three-month-old baby Kira was discovered later; he saw it for the first time when he returned to the flat on Sunday.

The deaths – three generations of a single family – have sparked outrage and revulsion in Ukraine, a country already hardened by two months of war.

Commenting on the strikes, President Volodymyr Zelensky was visibly upset when speaking about baby Kira’s killing.

“How did she threaten Russia? It seems that killing children is just a new national idea of the Russian Federation,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address to Ukrainians. He described those who had planned and carried out the attack as “bastards”.

Five others were also killed in the missile strike.

Yuriy was in the wrecked building on Sunday to find what he could salvage from the apartment. Photo albums, his wife’s sugar sachet collection, handwritten notes. He found his baby’s stroller in pieces.

“If I leave things in the flat, it will become garbage and people will throw it away,” he told the BBC. “I want to keep it for my memories.”

He and Valeria had been a couple for nine years.

“She could find joy in everything. Odesa was her favourite city. She worked in PR and she could communicate with a lot of people, understand them. I admired what a good writer she was,” he said.

“She was a great mother, friend, with all the best qualities. It will be impossible for me to find somebody else like Valeria. She was perfect. Such a person could be given to you only once in a life and it’s a gift from God.”

Kira had been born at the end of January, just a month before the start of the war.

A few weeks after that, Valeria had posted on Instagram that she was living with “a new level of happiness” after the birth of her first child. “Our girl is one month old now,” she wrote. “It has been the best 40 weeks.”

Much more at the link including pictures of Yuriy, Valeria, and Kira in much happier times!

Russia’s intelligence services fabricated a plot to assassinate Russian state TV loudmouth Vladimir Solovyov. And then they stopped it!

Obligatory!

Unfortunately for the FSB and fortunately for everyone else’s amusement, they did not do a good job fabricating the plot.

Hyper-literalism is the enemy of all clandestine operations! Also, stupidity!

It is also currently assessed that the Russians did run a false flag attack earlier today in Transnistria, which is the breakaway/separatist region of Moldova that borders Ukraine.

I’m sure we’ll never hear the end of this though. Julia Davis’s twitter feed is likely to be the hardest hit because she’s going to have to document and translate Solovyov milking this on air for weeks to months.

Speaking of Julia Davis, we now know what the Z symbol the Russians are putting on their tanks means, as well as the pro-Putin/pro-war movement that’s grown up around the symbol:

Here’s something interesting from Mikhail Khordokovsky:

Who could have ever imagined? Eez a puzzlement!

Here’s an interesting thread from the Prime Minister of Estonia:

It is made up of excerpts of the speech she gave to the 16th Berlin Speech for Freedom:

Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, 25.04.2022

Dear guests, dear friends

I am honored to be here today. I was in Berlin for the first time in 1988 as an eleven-year old. Perestroika had begun and for me it was a miracle that we could go to East Germany, a foreign country. My father took me along with my brother to as close to the Brandenburg Gate as possible to have a look at the Wall. I vividly recall him saying: “Kids, breathe in deeply – that’s the air of freedom that comes from the other side.”

At the time, I didn’t really understand what he meant. It is said that you only appreciate freedom when it’s taken from you. But as a child born under Soviet occupation, I never had experienced freedom.

Soon enough, a wind of change began to blow, tearing down the Wall in Berlin as well as elsewhere in Europe. And I was able to breathe this air of freedom also at home.

30 years ago when Estonia managed to get out of the totalitarian prison in 1991, I was a teenager. What was a turn, die Wende, for you was a revolution for us.

After regaining independence and freedom Estonia had a difficult task: to build a free and open society, a parliamentary democracy. This was not an easy task – despite relief that people were finally free.

Re-establishing a democratic relationship between the citizen and the state is not something you do overnight and it is nothing you can learn from books.

Our way to freedom was accompanied and supported by many friends from the free world. Here Germany had a special leadership and support. Allow me to make some links in this regard.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union we first had to rapidly establish a new social contract and anchor this agreement in our constitution. While drafting our Constitution in 1992, Roman Herzog, President of the Federal Constitutional Court at that time, was an expert drafting the chapter on fundamental freedoms, rights and duties – in fact, the proportion of this chapter speaks for itself as it amounts to more than quarter of the whole text.

The German legal system formed the foundation while re-establishing central parts of our private, criminal and general administrative law. This also means that a whole generation of Estonian lawyers, myself included, studies German legal practice. Moreover, it is German Rechtstheorie that forms the basis of an introductory class of first-year law students in Estonia.

Another milestone on our road to freedom was monetary reform carried out by my father Siim Kallas. Free Estonia had to have its own money – in 1992 the Estonian kroon was re-introduced. With the blessing of the Bundesbank, we tied the Estonian kroon to the German Mark – the most suitable anchor currency which provided an additional guarantee to our own currency’s stability. This monetary reform is considered by the IMF to be one of the most successful in its history.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Russian aggression against Ukraine has forced us to think about what freedom means for each and every one of us. And how fragile it can be. And what it takes to safeguard it.

At this dark hour in Europe, the importance of keeping our own democratic house in order is more acute than ever. We need to take care of the democratic relationship between the citizen and the state. As much as it is the individual responsibility of every citizen to care for democracy, it is the leaders who are responsible for keeping the rights of individuals and the rule of law at the center of governance. Leaders must also safeguard strong institutions in support of it.

This is often not self-evident. Attacks on democratic institutions are on the rise – from within our own democracies as well as from outside. And a Rechtsstaat with strong institutions is important, however, not sufficient for safeguarding freedom from an outright aggressor.

I speak to you here in Berlin when the regime in the Kremlin is destroying its neighbor Ukraine and tries to conquer the second largest country by area in Europe. It is only 1400 km from here that Russia is shelling a European capital.

When I was breathing in the air of freedom back in 1988, both Estonians and Ukrainians were on the wrong (evil) side of the wall. Today, the Kremlin tries to build another wall to divide Europe and this time Estonia is lucky enough to be at the free side. The same cannot unfortunately be said for Ukraine.

Times like these make us look back to brave decisions in our past. I praise the decision-making courage of our leaders and those of the free world who made it possible for so many Central and Eastern European countries to reintegrate rapidly with Europe.

Speaker of our erstwhile parliament, the Supreme Council of Estonia, Ülo Nugis said already in 1991: “As political and historical experience has shown, neutrality did not guarantee our security. This may not guarantee our security even today, especially in view of the possible processes in the Soviet Union.” He said it in reference to the 1930s when the young Estonian republic tried to balance between two evil empires. This ended with losing our statehood for 50 years. Hence, it was only natural that in the 1990s our foreign and security policy focus was set on joining EU and NATO. We decided that we are never alone again.

The free world, including Germany, played a key role in restoring our country and place on the world map. And it is no secret that to many, the weight and boldness of those decisions at that time have only become apparent now while witnessing Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Current dangerous and tragic times also reveal how democracy matters. And how liberties and freedoms matter. Why is Russia fighting the war in Ukraine? It started when Ukraine chose its democratic path. Russia does not want freedom and democracy to prevail. It is direct threat to dictatorship. Because in democracy 1) governments are held accountable at elections; 2) state should deliver for the people and not for the dictator or its cronies.

When we look at Russia we see darkness – fear is keeping its society together. And we see thousands fleeing the country. We know this fear. Fear of secret police who seize people in the middle of the night or arrest them only for holding up placards in public squares, fear of the constant distrust, fear to express your opinion, fear of the atrocities that might follow. Tens of thousands of Estonians fled this same tyranny after the World War Two.

While Ukrainians are defending the freedom they have built, the Russian killing machine wishes and I cite: “to change the bloody and false consciousness of a part of today’s Ukrainians”. These are the words of Dmitry Medvedev. The Kremlin and Putin have made it clear by their statements that their aim is to wipe Ukraine off the world map.

“Denazification” is the official Russian label of this policy of destruction of the Ukrainian state and its people. The word “Nazi” is used to justify its aggression and genocidal and fascist policies.

How is this possible? I say that history matters. Although the Soviet Union collapsed, its imperialist ideology never did. While our history books were rewritten after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this was not the case in Russia. While the crimes of Nazism have been unequivocally condemned in the whole world, this has not been done with the crimes of Communism. Instead, Putin has built a strong revival of Stalinism and as a result the opinion polls suggest that 70 percent of Russians approve of Stalin and his policies. If people admire dictators, there is no moral obstacle to becoming one or submitting to one.

The warning signs were there: imperial nostalgia, in fact Russia kept the Soviet anthem, the narrative of Russian victimhood combined with heavy anti-Western propaganda while closing down free media. And we witnessed Putin’s wars in Chechnya, Georgia, Donbas and Crimea.

Looking back to the past signs, a return to war and aggression seems inevitable. There is a clear pattern in Russia´s road to totalitarianism. This road to tyranny is symbolically captured by the man who was recently arrested in Moscow for standing on the street holding Tolstoy’s book “War and Peace”.

The past Putin´s wars illustrate why he must not win this one and why Moscow cannot be allowed to pretend that it has gained anything in the process. We have let Putin get away with aggression several times before. We can’t let him get away with it again now. Were that to happen, his appetite would only grow, and more atrocities and more human suffering would follow.

Putin’s strategic aims have not changed. The suffering and devastation in Ukraine is far from over. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal says: If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine.

We have reached the moment where we should have courage to say: Ukraine must win this war. And we must act accordingly. Freedom must be armed better than tyranny.

Dear listeners,

We are in this for the long haul and we need to hardwire these profound changes into a long-term new policy vis-à-vis Russia. I have labelled it as a Policy of Smart Containment.

That means we need to continue support Ukraine’s fight for freedom, while building up pressure against aggressor with further sanctions and political and economic isolation. This also means that we need to make a huge leap forward when it comes to our own defence. NATO´s defence in the Baltic Sea region needs a substantial change. We need significantly more combat-ready troops stationed in the Baltic States, more fighter-jets in our skies and ships in the Baltic Sea.

We also need to have a very clear understanding – Putin and all of those who have committed war crimes have to know that their judgment day will come.

It is clear that after all these atrocities there should be no way back to business as usual with Putin´s Russia. In fact, there should be no business at all. Russia should have no seat at the table of international organisations and bodies that are based on the respect of international law. It’s high time for everyone to use their moral compass. The Kremlin needs to feel it is isolated.

The free world should follow the motto: “When the facts change, I change my mind”. We have seen huge and historic turnarounds. Also here in Germany. However, as long as this aggression is not stopped, we have not done enough.

One of our main areas of focus should be on drying up the Kremlin´s war machine – revenues from hydrocarbons lie at the heart of it. I understand the difficult choices leaders in democracies face today. I understand that rising inflation — in particular a surge in the cost of energy —could mean that economic difficulties at home overshadow the suffering of Ukrainians.

Gas might be expensive, but freedom is priceless. It’s up to every government to decide how much of the burden its people are ready to carry. But it is equally necessary we get the message through to our people – what is our neighbor’s problem today will be our problem tomorrow. We are in danger, when our neighbor’s house is on fire.

Let me conclude with warning words by Russian dissident and chess world champion Garry Kasparov and I quote: “The price of stopping a dictator always goes up with every delay and every hesitation. Meeting evil halfway is still a victory for evil.” End of quote.

Hitting the right balance with policy is understandably one of the biggest challenges for democracies and for our freedom today. However, were this war to be lost, it would be not lost by Ukraine but us.

We know that goodness always triumphs over evil. This is also my life experience. While standing here now and breathing in deeply, that is the same freedom I was breathing in as an 11-year-old. And if we do everything to help Ukraine, there will be no 11-year-olds for whom the air of freedom is something they only experience from a distance.

Thank you!

Your semi-daily Patron:

And here’s a full image of the stamp:

We’ll finish with your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 61: Ukraine’s Defense Enters Its Third Month appeared first on Balloon Juice.

War for Ukraine Update 60: Orthodox Easter In Ukraine as the War Enters Its Second Month

Let’s begin tonight with President Zelenskyy’s remarks to Ukraine on Easter. Here’s the video with English subtitles, the transcript with my emphases follows it:

Great people of great Ukraine!

Today is a great holiday. And I’m in a great place. The Great St. Sophia Cathedral. In the cathedral, which was founded a thousand years ago, on the field of the sacred battle where the army of Kyivan Rus’-Ukraine defeated the Pechenegs. In the cathedral, which was not destroyed by the Horde invasion or the Nazi occupation, which withstood in spite of everything!

Today we all believe in a new victory for Ukraine. And we are all convinced that we will not be destroyed by any horde or evil.

We are enduring dark times. And on this bright day, most of us are not in bright clothes. But we are fighting for a bright idea. On the bright side. And the truth, people, the Lord and the holy heavenly light are on our side. The power of the patron saint of the human race – Oranta. She is above me. She is above us all.

The unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ, the unbreakable wall of the main stronghold – Kyiv, the Unbreakable Wall of the State. As long as there is Oranta, there is Sophia, and Kyiv stands with her, and the whole of Ukraine stands with them!

Above the image of Oranta are the words from the Psalms: “God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.” On this Great Day, we all believe that our dawn is coming soon.

Oranta in Latin means “one who prays”. We have all been praying for the last two months. And in the Resurrection of Christ, which symbolizes the great victory of life over death, each of us asks the Lord for one thing. And speaks the same words to heaven. The words of a great and united prayer.

Great and Only God! Save our Ukraine!

Protect those who protect us! Heaven, protect those who defend the native land. Strengthen the will of those who protect us from captivity. Save those who save Ukraine. These are our military, national guards, border guards, our territorial defense, intelligence. These and all our other warriors of light.

Help those who help them. These are volunteers and all people who care. From Ukraine and around the world. Give strength to all who give all their strength. May everyone who seeks always find. May everyone who is on the road always overcome it. And may everyone who does everything possible to save Ukraine never lose faith that everything is possible.

Save the lives of those who save the lives of others. These are all our medics. Our firefighters, rescuers, sappers. May the victory of life be a symbol not only of this holiday. May life win the battle against death every day.

Take care of our mothers. Give endurance to those who are waiting for a son or daughter from the war. Give fortitude to those who, unfortunately, have lost their children on the frontline. Help those who have lost their children in peaceful cities and villages where Russia has brought death to overcome unbearable pain.

And give good health to all our mothers and all our grandmothers for many more years. To see their loved ones. To see peace and victory. To see justice. And the happy old age that the invaders are trying to steal from them. And instead of knitting scarves and sweaters for their grandchildren, today they weave camouflage nets. So give many years of peaceful life to them.

And to our fathers. And to our grandfathers. Who once told their grandchildren about the war, and today send grandchildren to the war. Our fathers and our grandfathers built this country. Today they see it being destroyed. Let them see how our land will be liberated and rebuilt. And give us strength to do it.

Take care of all our children. Give every boy and every girl a happy youth, maturity and old age, which will allow at least a little to get rid of the memories of their terrible childhood during the war. Not children’s, scary games that they were forced to play. Hide and seek, but in the basement, from the bombs. Running, but from the gunshots. Travel, but because of the loss of home, fleeing the war.

Save all Ukrainians! We did not attack anyone, so give us protection. We have never destroyed other nations, so do not let anyone destroy us. We did not seize other people’s lands, so do not let anyone seize ours.

Save Ukraine! Its right and left banks – at a time when we are being viciously beaten on both right and left cheeks. At the end of winter, spring did not come to us. Severe cold was brought to our house. At dawn we were brought opaque darkness.

We believe, God, that in your judgment you will not forget them all. All those who have forgotten all your commandments.

You will not forget about Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, Hostomel. All those who survived brutal crimes. Give them and all our land human happiness.

You will not forget about Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Sumy, Kharkiv, Izyum, Kramatorsk and Volnovakha, Popasna. All other towns and villages that hear the terrible explosions. Let them and all of us hear the fireworks of victory.

You will not forget about Mariupol and its heroic defenders. One can destroy the walls, but can’t destroy the foundation on which the morale stands. The morale of our warriors. The morale of the whole country.

We see terrible scenes of war. Let us see a happy picture of peace.

We are going through very difficult ordeals. Let us reach a just end on this path – the beginning of a happy life and prosperity of Ukraine!

Our hearts are full of fierce fury. Our souls are full of fierce hatred for the invaders and all that they have done. Don’t let fury destroy us from within. Turn it into our accomplishments from the outside. Turn it into a force of good to defeat the forces of evil.

Save us from strife and division. Don’t let us lose unity.

Strengthen our will and our spirit. Don’t let us lose ourselves. Don’t let us lose our longing for freedom. Therefore, do not let us lose our zeal for a righteous struggle. Do not let us lose hope of victory and self-esteem, and therefore our freedom. And therefore Ukraine. And therefore faith.

Dear Ukrainians!

Last year we celebrated Easter at home because of the pandemic. This year we also celebrate the Resurrection of Christ not as we used to. Because of another virus. Because of the plague called war.

Both last year’s and the current threat are united by one thing – nothing can defeat Ukraine.

The great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!

And on Easter, we ask God for great grace to make our great dream come true – this is another great day – the day when great peace will come to Ukraine. And with it – eternal harmony and prosperity.

With faith and confidence in this – I congratulate all of you on Easter.

Take care of yourselves. Take care of your loved ones. Take care of Ukraine!

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed.

As I’ve noted the last two nights, this is not how Jews talk to their Christian friends on or about Easter. President Zelenskyy is once again leaning heavily into the religious themes of the day, themes which are recognizable in the observance of the majority of his citizenry, to motivate them. It is, again, a master class in strategic communication.

Here is today’s operational update from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (emphasis mine):

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 24, 2022

The sixtieth day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues. A russian federation continues its full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

russian enemy is advancing in the Eastern Operational Zone to defeat the Joint Forces, establish full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and secure a land route to the temporarily occupied Crimea.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, the enemy did not take active action. Up to seven armed battalions of belarusians continue to carry out tasks to cover the Ukrainian-belarusian border in Brest and Gomel regions. Exports of units of the Eastern Military District, mostly damaged, from the territory of the Republic of belarus to the russian federation of Armaments and Military Equipment continue through Gomel in the direction of Bryansk.

In the Seversky direction, the FSS border service of the russian federation continues to provide enhanced protection of the Ukrainian-russian border in the Bryansk and Kursk regions.

Regrouping of units of the Central Military District from the areas of recovery of combat readiness to the eastern regions of Ukraine continues. From Kursk to Belgorod region, russian enemy plans to move an anti-aircraft gun division from the 14th Air Force and Air Defenсe.

In the Slobozhansky direction, weapons and military equipment of russian enemy are being transferred to the Kupyansk district. russian occupiers continue to partially block the city of Kharkiv, trying to carry out fire damage to units of our troops and critical infrastructure.

There is an intensification of offensive and assault actions of russian enemy units in the areas of Pashkove, Dovgenke and Velyka Komyshuvakha. The enemy was unsuccessful, suffered losses and was forced to retreat to previously occupied frontiers.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, russian enemy is building up its command and control system and air defence. Continues to fire on the positions of our troops from mortars, artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers along the entire line of contact. Inflicts air strikes on operational and tactical aircraft.

In the Severodonetsk direction, russian enemy tried to carry out assault operations in the direction of the ettlements of Lyman and Yatskivka, but was unsuccessful. russian occupiers established control over part of the village of Zarichne. The enemy tried to gain a foothold in the western, northwestern and eastern parts of Rubizhne, but failed. He began advancing in the directions of the settlements of Orikhove and Nyzhne.

In the Popasna direction, the occupying forces tried to gain a foothold on the achieved frontiers. russian enemy also regrouped and replenished its personnel and ammunition and prepared for further assaults.

In the Kurakhiv direction, with the support of artillery, the enemy attempted an offensive in the direction of the settlements of Novomykhailivka and Marinka. He was not successful.

In the Mariupol direction, russian invaders continued to fire and fight in the Azovstal area. The enemy inflicted air strikes on certain objects of civilian infrastructure. The occupiers carried out assault operations in the direction of the settlement of Vremivka, suffered losses and retreated to previously occupied positions.

In the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, the Russian occupiers are introducing measures restricting the rights and freedoms of civilians, including freedom of movement.

Ukrainian defenders hold the defense and inflict heavy losses on the russian enemy.

Let’s win together! Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s British MOD assessment:

And here’s their map for today:

You can see the Russian movement to attack and try to encircle the Ukrainian Joint Force Operation with the Izium, Central, and Southern Russian Military District forces moving to contact from the east and the north.

Despite today being Orthodox Easter, the Russians continued to shell and bombard as much of Ukraine as they could.

Much more after the jump.

There’s a lot of new video out of the Azovstal complex in Mariupol that has come out over the past several days. I’ve posted several of them. Here’s a couple of new ones. Unfortunately they don’t have English subtitles, but I think you’ll get the gist.

Here’s video of the fortified tunnels and catacombs under Odesa, which are being used as bomb shelters:

I think the consensus from everybody to the following information is that Russia is planning to use chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear (CBRN) weapons in Ukraine:

Ugh!

The Ukrainians have an appreciation for the classics!

That is a museum piece Hiram Maxim machine gun.

This is an excellent thread by a Russian speaking Ukrainian journalist from the eastern part of Ukraine. You’ve seen him referenced before in these updates.

  • Aseyev, a Donetsk native, covered events in Eastern Ukraine as they unfolded until one day in 2017 when he was arrested by Russian-backed separatists because of his work. He was kept for 2.5 years in detention 3 #Weekend @bbcworldservice
  • “You can’t possibly describe (the place i was kept) as a prison. It was a modern concentration camp known as Izolyatsia…. They tortured people. I was also subjected to electric shock treatment.” 4 Aseyev interview On #Weekend @bbcworldservice
  • Aseyev was released in 2019 as part of a prisoner exhange.  He has documented his time in captivity in a memoir published in 2020, “The Torture Camp on Paradise Street.”  He has now joined Ukraine’s Territorial Defence in Kyiv. 5 #Weekend @bbcworldservice
  • ‘Even with my experience I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when we went into Bucha… I witnessed torture  happening every day but that was torturing the living. In Bucha I saw cruelty that was even more brutal”6 #Weekend @bbcworldservice
  • Speaking of offensive in the East, Aseyev says: “I think the Russians are in a much weaker position than Ukrainian forces…The main problem for the Ukrainian army is not the Russian soldiers but their rockets & planes…which is why we need help from the West.” 7 @bbcworldservice
  • Aseyev says Ukraine will not hand over territory to Russia, but he adds: “So long as the current regime is still in power in Russia, not just Putin but all the people around him, this conflict will continue and we won’t be able to return anything to Ukraine.” 8 #Weekend
  • Interview with Ukrainian journalist and writer Stanislav Aseyev in full

Here’s an interesting thread showing the differences in how German and Italian leadership are responding to Putin’s reinvasion of Ukraine:

  • On arming Ukr: Scholz: “Bundeswehr’s options… are largely exhausted… We are now helping the Ukr government to procure arms… [as] agreed to by our allies.” Draghi: “we need to help Ukr directly… Not doing would equal to tell them: surrender, accept slavery and submission” 2/
  • On energy dependence: S: “Problem is not that there are 2,3, or 4 pipelines – it’s that they all come from Ru… we should have diversified imports much earlier.“ D: “Econ dependence must not become pol subjection. We must diversify energy sources & find new suppliers.” 3/
  • On the war’s economic fallout: Scholz: “we want to avoid a dramatic econ crisis, the loss of millions of jobs and of factories that would never open again.” Draghi: “Peace is worth making sacrifices…. Peace is the most important value, irrespective of the sacrifice.” /END

Your semi daily Patron:

Your semi daily Bayraktar!

Who is a very lucky Bayraktar? You are!!!!!

And we’ll finish with Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 60: Orthodox Easter In Ukraine as the War Enters Its Second Month appeared first on Balloon Juice.