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.

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